Sunday, October 23, 2011

Church Record Sunday: The Relief Society Magazine

Churches publish many different kinds of periodicals, brochures, leaflets, books and tracts. In some cases, the publications were meant to spread the gospel to non-members and others were/are  publications meant for members that may include the names of everyday individuals. These publications, rarely indexed, provide a place for descendents to look for information about their ancestor. One ancestor of mine was a member of the Salvation Army in the late 1800s. It was through searching microfilmed copies of the Salvation Army newspaper, The War Cry, that I was able to find a mention of him.

One example of a church periodical is The Relief Society Magazine printed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1915-1970. The magazine was later replaced by the Ensign which is read by adult members of the Church, both female and male. The Relief Society Magazine provided gospel doctrine information but also celebrated the accomplishments of the Relief Society and it's members. To read more about The Relief Society Magazine see the wiki article found here.

The great thing about this magazine is that it included pictures of individual members as well as their names. These names could be found throughout the magazine, in birthday congratulations, letters to the editor, a section entitled Notes from the Field and in small paragraphs about individual achievements.

An index to The Relief Society Magazine does exist, however, some of the sections that would include women's names are not included in the index such as the birthday congratulations, letters to the editor, hobby features and very short articles. You can read more about the Index here. The Relief Society Magazine Index was created by students at BYU.

Internet Archive and Google Books both have some digitized copies of The Relief Society Magazine. Several university libraries including BYU have copies of the magazine. You can search on WorldCat to find libraries with copies. You can also find issues for sale on eBay. I was able to purchase some from a Deseret Thrift Store in Southern California.

A book about the history of The Relief Society Magazine is entitled, A Legacy Remembered, 1914-1970. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1982.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Church Record Sunday: Panoramio

Panoramio, a Google product,  is a photo sharing  map site that allows users to post photos of events and buildings connected to a specific location. Photos are  placed on a map according to where the photographer was standing when they took the photograph. While not a "church record" it is a place to look for images of the church houses where your family has worshiped.

You can search Panoramio by either specifying a location or using  tag keywords like "church" "temple" or even "cemetery." It's a great way to find photos of places that are too far away for you to visit easily.

Panoramio photos are copyrighted by each individual photographer. If you would like to use the photo in your family history you will need to become a member of Panoramio and then email the photographer and ask permission. Make sure you specify why you want to use the photograph and how you want to use it.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Church Record Sunday: Online Archive of California

Records can be anywhere and while church records seem like they should be housed in churches or church related facilities, that is not always the case. As you research make sure to do a thorough search of libraries, archives and museums that cover the region your ancestor lived in.

Case in point, the Online Archive of California (OAC). This union catalog of various institutions in California holds many different church records, along with other great stuff. Now, I should also say that not everything here documents only California. These are the records of institutions in California, but they can be and are of various places. One of the unique record sets is Polish Catholic Church Records from the Hoover Institution.

Do a search on the word "church" and you will see over 2,000 results that include actual church records from the 19th century to the 20th century. Unique records include those from the Japanese internment camps, San Francisco's Chinatown, images, postcards, church bulletins and records amassed after the People's Temple murder/suicides.

You can also search by the name of the denomination or religion. A search on the word "Jewish" returned over 1,000 items.

The OAC catalog allows you to narrow your search once it is conducted, by institution and date. Some items in the catalog are digitized and available to view online while others must be researched in person.