Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

From Flickr: The Commons.

A Coast Guardsman stands in silent reverence beside the resting place of a comrade., 1944

Memorial Day is such an important holiday. Today our family spent the morning placing flags on graves at the Riverside National Cemetery. At a time when many people don't know the meaning of Memorial Day, it was nice to see so many boys and young men remembering those who fought for our freedom.

Memorial Day, also known as and originally referred to as Decoration Day, dates back to the time right after the Civil War. General John Logan, of the Grand Army of the Republic, was the first to proclaim a Memorial Day in 1868, and it was first celebrated on 30 May 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery. Initially, the South refused to celebrate the holiday and, instead, honored their dead on a different day. Eventually, after World War I, the holiday became a time to honor all war dead, not just those who had died during the Civil War.

One tradition that came out of Memorial Day was the wearing of red poppies. The wearing of poppies derived from a poem written by Lt. Col. John McCrea of the Canadian Army. He was a military doctor who was inspired to write the poem after watching the pain and death that comes from war and, specifically the death of a young friend. 

In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields the Poppies blow
Between the crosses row by row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Church Record Sunday: Church Bulletins

Some church records are ephemera. They are not meant to preserved or archived. But despite that, we know that some ephemera does end up being archived or donated to special collections. Most likely, church bulletins listing names in your family are either going to be a home source or  part of a special or manuscript collection.

A few weeks ago I went to a vintage paper fair. This turned out to be a great resource for finding materials that have genealogical value. One of the items I picked up was a church bulletin that not only had the usual listing of ministers, church staff and advertisements, but it also included a list of the names of people in their congregation serving in the military as of November 28, 1943.

This church bulletin is from the First Methodist Church in Santa Barbara, California.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

19th Century Paper Photographs: A Genealogist's Guide to Cartes de visite and Cabinet Cards.

Everyone knows that I love books. I don't care if they are books I pick up at the used bookstore or if they are ones I download to my eReader or iPad.  I just love reading. Like most genealogists, I also love old photographs. I've read with interest any book or magazine I can get my hands on about vintage photographs.

Recently, I had the opportunity to check out this new eBook about photographs, 19th Century Paper Photographs: A Genealogist's Guide to Cartes de visite and Cabinet Cards by Gary Clark of Gary is currently showing his new book at #NGS 2011. If you are at NGS I would highly recommend you go check out his booth, PhotoTree and take a look at his latest book.

As a side note, I have always loved Gary's website PhotoTree and have  highly recommend it to others. In fact, prior to my knowing him I did recommend it  to people as a great place to learn more about dating photos that includes examples and a photo gallery. In case you are wondering,  Gary did give me a free copy of the book and I provided some feedback but I have been recommending Gary's website for quite a while.

This book is a great addition for any genealogist, historian or anyone else with an interest in vintage photos.  One of my favorite aspects of the book is the comprehensive look he takes at dating photos including what was available to photographers and their studios during various decades in the later 19th century.

The following is the press release about the above book: Announces New Book:
19th Century Paper Photographs
A Genealogist’s Guide to Cartes de visite and Cabinet Cards
New EPUB formatted book brings a unique approach and fresh information to 19th century photograph research.

CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA - May 10, 2011 –, a developer and publisher of genealogical research tools announced today a new book titled 19th Century Paper Photographs: A Genealogist’s Guide to Cartes de Visite and Cabinet Cards. This book, in EPUB® format for the iPad® and iPad 2 tablets, presents a fresh and comprehensive approach to researching and dating 19th century photographs.
By following the easy-to-use numbered clues, reviewing tables and checklists, and comparing images to their own, the genealogist can easily become an expert at dating old family photographs. This book – the first in a series – presents a unique way to benefit from over 220 high quality, documented images from the 1800s. Unlike many e-books that are merely PDF files of older printed works, 19th Century Paper Photographs was conceived and developed to take advantage of new electronic publishing capabilities.
“The new generation of tablets brings exciting features such as interactive images to e-book reading,” said Gary Clark, founder of “We took the extra steps and time during development to create a new way for genealogists to look at old images and take advantage of advanced tablet capabilities and the native EPUB format,” he continued.
iPad tablets allow the reader to tap on an image, and enlarge it to the full window size. The reader can continue to enlarge the photo with two-finger movements. In addition, by simply rotating the iPad, the screen view will change from single page in portrait mode, to a two-page layout in landscape mode. Features of the EPUB format also include the ability to enlarge or reduce the text size, change fonts, and create bookmarks. The EPUB format is a nationally recognized standard for e-book development and is supported by leading publishers and e-reader manufacturers.
Along with taking advantage of the next generation of publishing capabilities, 19th Century Paper Photographs presents the most complete information source for dating old photographs. Gary Clark’s twenty years of collecting and researching 19th century photographs has yielded new datable evidence, providing the researcher with the knowledge to establish most photograph dates within two to six years of when the picture was made.

19th Century Paper Photographs is will be introduced at the National Genealogical Society conference in Charleston, SC on May 11, 2011. It will be available for purchase from the Apple® iTunes Store on May 18, 2011 for $16.95 (ISBN: 978-0-9835785-9-5). A free sample of the book, optimized for the iPad family of tablets, will also be available from the iTunes Store. E-book versions for additional tablet models including the Zoom from Motorola will be announced soon on the website. Paperback printed versions will be available Summer 2011.

About provides products, services, and research tools to genealogists, photograph collectors, and historians that guide them through the process of dating 19th century photographs. Professional services include restoration and quality reproductions of 19th century photographs. New in 2011, is publishing a series of books that help the researcher identify and date their 19th century family photographs. Research tools include a web-based online gallery of more than 1,000 dated images in over 50 categories to compare with researchers’ undated family photos. This website includes an extensive history and description of 19th century photographs and is freely available to the public. More information is available at is a trademark of iPad is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc. EPUB is a registered trademark of the International Digital Publishing Forum.

Contact: Gary Clark

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Church Record Sunday: Connecticut State Library Church Records Index

For those with Connecticut ancestors, you might be interested in the records of  over 600 churches dating back to the 17th century that the Connecticut State Library holds. That's right,  the records of over 600 churches.

The homepage for this collections explains, "The Church Records Index covers, at best, only about one-quarter of the church records held by the Connecticut State Library, mostly Congregational. For information on what church records were abstracted, check the Guide to Church Records in the Connecticut State Library (looking for entries that have been annotated "SLI"). There is no specific cutoff date for the index; most entries date before 1850, but there are some to the early 1900s."

Just another good example of how sometimes, you may not church records at a church.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Church Record Sunday: Your Methodist Ancestors

Looking to know more about your Methodist ancestor?  Check out the guide, Researching Your Methodist Ancestor on the United Methodist Church General Commission on Archives and History website .