Thursday, October 28, 2010

52 Weeks of Genealogy Sources: Was Your Ancestor a Weaver?

Was your ancestor a weaver?  No, not did they have the surname Weaver but did they weave?  Sometimes knowing an ancestor's occupation can help you find more information about them.

A good case in point is the book American Coverlets and their Weavers by Clarita S Anderson. This work  is a fabulous non-genealogy, genealogy book. If you have a weaver in your family tree, check this one out. There is a biographical dictionary at the end of the book with names and bios of over 700 weavers. These historical bios include information about where the weaver lived, name of spouse and where the authors found the person in the U.S. Federal Census, as well as when they weren't found in the census. Here's an example of what you can find:

Adolf (Adolph),  Henry
Born: ca. 1815 in Alsace, France
Died: 1907
Spouse: Elizabeth
Location: Montgomery Co., Ohio: Wayne Co., Ind.; Noblesville, Hamilton Co., Ind.;  Mahaska Co., Iowa; North Twp., Dade Co., Mo.; Clinton Twp., Douglas Co., Kansas; Walnut Grove, St. Louis Co., Mo.

Extant Coverlets: 1840-1881
History: Henry Adolf immigrated to Montgomery Co., Ohio, in 1835...

That is just part of an example. What great information that can be had out of this book!

This is another great example of thinking outside of the genealogy box as you approach researching your ancestor.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Congregational Library

The Congregational Christian Historic Society has over 255,000 volumes relating to the protestant faith of Congregationalism which includes the United Church of Christ. There's a lot to like about this website including a necrology search on the homepage with obituaries for 25,000 clergy and missionaries covering more than two centuries.

An Online Catalog allows you to search their collections.  A Resources tab includes a history of the denomination, resources including primary sources and a tab for archives and finding aids. Don't forget to check out the Digitized Resources under the Resources tab for periodicals, digitized manuscripts and more.

This Library is on Facebook and Twitter. So there are lots of ways to learn about their collections. Make sure to join their mailing list to keep up to date with their collections.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On the Bookshelf: The Public Record Research Tips Book

In genealogy, we are focused on tracing our family back several generations.  However, there is also value in tracing our family forward.  All families have branches that they have lost touch with over the years. Connecting with cousins can be a crucial step in learning more about your ancestors. Afterall, successful research is more than just tracing our direct line ancestors, it is also tracing our collateral relatives.

So with that in mind, I decided to pick up a book new to my local library, The Public Record Research Tips Book: Insider Information for Effective Public Record Research by Michael Sankey. (This book was published in 2008.)

Now this blog posting isn't meant as a review, since I just picked this book up this afternoon. But so far, as I browse the book I know it will provide some useful informaiton. There is quite a bit on genealogy with website recommendations and information about vital records. But I am interested in those things not traditionally considered genealogy and this book looks like it will deliver. Chapter headings are as follows:

Chapter 1: The Fundamentals of  Public Record Searching
Chapter 2: Searching Criminal Records
Chapter 3: Searching State and Local Court Records
Chapter 4: Searching Federal Court Records
Chapter 5: Searching Liens and Recorded Documents
Chapter 6: Searching Business Entity Records
Chapter 7: Searching Motor Vehicle Records
Chapter 8: Working with Public Record Vendors
Chapter 9: Searching A thru Z (lots of great tips here for everything from aviation records to passport records to trade associations).

Now,  I have read quite a few books similar to this one. So far my favorite is written by genealogist Kathleen W. Hinckley.  I have to say her book, Locating Lost Family Members & Friends: Modern Genealogical Research Techniques for Locating the People of Your Past and Present (Betterway Books, 1999) is a must read. Unfortunately, it is out of print but you should be able to get it through a library or used bookstore. 

I highly recommend reading some books about finding lost relatives. The techniques will not only help you find your present-day relations but give you tools to help your research into the past.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Was Your Female Ancestor a Physician?

Every week I write and edit the WorldVitalRecords newsletter.  This last week I wrote about using almanacs for your genealogy. (To read this article click here) I just love finding sources that aren't the everyday "genealogy" sources and see how they can help genealogists find their ancestors.

So I'm writing my article and going through one of the almanacs which includes a business directory and I see a list of physicians. I turn some pages and notice that all the physicians are women. Mind you this is a Boston Almanac/Business Directory from 1878.

So I do a double take and find that this section is indeed female physicians, all 1 1/4 pages of them. 

Now mind you this list of "physicians" includes midwives and phrenologists but this list also is one of women who are M.D.s  To put this in a historical perspective, this list of women doctors are practicing 29 years after the first woman in the United States, Elizabeth Blackwell, earned a medical degree. But in that relatively short time, Boston has 84 women identified as physicians.

This says something to me that we need to watch our assumptions about our female ancestors. Yes, women have always been relegated to the home where they cook, clean and take care of others. Yes, women are disproportionately absent from official records. But don't count women out, they can be found but sometimes it takes looking in unexpected places.

This almanac and other Boston almanacs are available from Google Books have a great business directory section, I highly recommend them if you have Boston ancestors.

***Above screen shots from The Boston Almanac and Business Directory (1878) pages 364-365.  Available from Google Books.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Church Record Sunday: ATLA Digital Resources

Postcards of Methodist Churches in the United States  Yale University Divinity School Library
New Haven, CT,  2006. From ATLA  CDRI
The American Theological Library Association has a website, the Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative that includes digital resources from member libraries. While some of these resources are more of interest to theologians and those studying ancient history, others are image collections that may be a welcome addition to the family history narrative. Just some of the image collections you may be interested in are:

Postcards of Methodist Churches in the United States

Postcards of New England Congregational and Baptist Churches

Postcards of Unitarian and Universalist Church Buildings

Portraits of Some Baptist Leaders

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Protestant Episcopal Almanac and Parochial List

Today's resource is found on Google Books. First, let me just say if you are not using Google Books, you are not finding some of the greatest resources for your genealogy.

The Protestant Episcopal Almanac and Parochial List for 1898 provides the researcher with information about the location of churches, ministers, and church leadership for the United States and other parts of the world.  There are also other great materials from the era in here including advertisements geared towards church leadership like manufacturers of stained glass, church furniture and then non-church related advertisers like banks, life insurance and hotels. Information about other church sponsored activities like schools are listed.

This is quite a large almanac so I would recommend checking out the table of contents found on pages 2 and 4 to find the locality you are interested in.  There is also an index of advertisers found on page 6.

Monday, October 04, 2010

On the Bookshelf: What's on Your Kindle?

It's no surprise that I love reading.  I read quite a bit and I buy hardcover and paperback books as well as e-books.  I love my Kindle, it allows me to take a collection of books with me to peruse wherever I go.  The great things about these different e-reader systems, is that you can use the software on your computer, iPod/iPad and smartphone for free.

I typically read non-fiction books. As I read, mostly books with a historical slant, I am checking out the footnotes and bibliography to see what other books/articles about the topic might be of interest to me.  I am also searching the book for research methodologies and sources the author has used. Often times, history researchers, journalists, and other genealogists, may use a different source or conduct their research in a way that I think might be helpful to genealogists.  I use these observations when I give presentations and I write articles.

So what's on my Kindle?  Lots of books!  But some are those that I think could be helpful to genealogists as they think about researching an ancestor or writing a family history narrative. Although I have these books on my Kindle, you don't have to purchase them in e-book format.

From Hardtack to Homefries by Barbara Haber.  I've written about this book before.  It's a great study of cookbooks and foods during different time periods.  Some of the time periods/topics covered are the FDR White House, WWII Japanese Interment Camps in the Philippines, African American Cookbooks and more. You can read more about this book and the author at her website.

The Lost Ravioli Recipe by Laura Schenone is an interesting look at a woman who is trying to regain some of her family history by learning about their ravioli recipe and how it has changed as the family immigrated and came to America.  Her search includes interviews, travels and more. Very interesting how she takes one small part of her family history and vows to learn more. You can read more about this author and her books at her website.

How to Do Everything Genealogy by George G. Morgan.  I actually have the book version and the e-book version of this book, both editions.  I love this book by George, I firmly believe if you buy one genealogy book, this is the one.

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me that one of my favorite books is Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg.  This book written by a journalist is one of the best treatments of what can happen with good genealogical research.  It's the story of a man who knew nothing about an aunt who was his mother's "secret" and researched her until he pieced together her story.  His quest includes interviews with over 120 people.  When's the last time you interviewed people, aside from family, to get to the bottom of your genealogy?  He interviewed neighbors, school friends, physicians, and other experts.  What a great example of a different way to research your genealogy.  Learn more about this book at Steve's website.

Jeannette Walls is known for her book The Glass Castle, the story of her life growing up with a family that is less than ideal.  But her second book, Half Broke Horses answers the question, "why in the world did her mother allow this to happen?"  This is the story of her maternal grandmother and the life she lived and how her experiences shaped Jeannette's mother.  This book is a fictionalized account of that grandmother's life and while I wished she had done more genealogy on her grandmother, she does consult two family history books and use interviews with her mother. This book is a good example how a genealogist could take some information and write  their genealogy as a fictional account. You can read more about this book on Amazon.

The last book I will list, is one by my friend Ron Arons, The Jews of Sing Sing.  This book is an interesting look at one group of prisoners locked up in the famous Sing Sing prison.  Ron's research no doubt lead him to write his follow-up book, Wanted! U.S. Criminal Records.One of the interesting discussions in Ron's book is about bigamy and the prevalence of it.  I have believed for some time from my own research that bigamy happened more often than we know.  I have researched people who in the early19th century stereotypically left the house to get a loaf of bread and never came back.  However, they were really in the next county with a new wife and family.  An interesting topic for further research.

So what's on your Kindle?  

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Shaker Village Map, Canterbury N.H.

Probably one of the least used resources in researching an ancestor's religion is maps.  Afterall, not many people would think about finding maps that relate to a religion.  But maps are a great source in so many ways including their documentation of the migrations of a denomination and religious life of a community.

One example of this comes from the Library of Congress American Memory Map Collections.  The Library of Congress has 4.5 million maps, this website shows just a fraction of those maps digitized.  You can find all kinds of maps here from atlases and transportation maps to bird's eye view maps to maps drawn from explorations.

One of the maps in this collection is the "Diagram of the south part of the Shaker Village, Canterbury, N.H." This detailed diagram shows the buildings in the village along with a key to the purpose of each building. For those with Shaker ancestors who lived in this village, this map would be a great way to better understand their life.

Once you checked out that map, you could learn more about the Canterbury Shaker Village at their website, where there is another map of the village that allows you to click on a building and see a modern photograph and learn more about the building.