Monday, July 30, 2012

Genealogical Finds from the UCLA LIbrary Digital Collections


Anyone who has heard me speak can affirm that I am big on checking out traditionally non-genealogical sources for finding family history gems. Yesterday, as I was checking out possible collections to include on Church Record Sunday, I came across some great maps, images, court records and 1940 census information that would be of interest to family historians.

First, many university libraries have digital collections online. These collections can include any number of items from photos, maps, and documents to church records, interviews, and court files. The great thing about a digital collection is that it is digitized and available to search, browse, and view online.

The University of California, Los Angeles Library Digital Collections' page  includes items that you would almost expect from a university near Hollywood. Images from local newspapers and movie stills would be of interest to film historians and movie buffs. But it's their "genealogical" items that you may want to search, especially if you have Los Angeles county ancestors.

Consider these collections:

The Henry J Bruman Map Collection includes maps from around the world but also maps from Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County, special emphasis from 1850-1950.

Maps showing Distribution of Racial Groups in Los Angeles (1940 Census). These maps show where racial and national groups lived during the 1940 census enumeration.

Red Bird, Oklahoma Glass Plate Negative Collection is 12 glass plate negatives that shows businesses, homes and people living in the all black town of Red Bird.

Tract Map and Cadastral Maps of Southern California 1868-1937 includes maps of L.A, Riverside, Orange, and Ventura counties.

Tulancingo (Hidalgo, Mexico) Manuscript collection includes criminal and civil cases.


Consider Googling the name of a university near where your ancestor lived and the words "digital collections" to find materials that may pertain to your ancestors.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Church Record Sunday: Church History Library Catalog Online (LDS)

Back in January, I was in Salt Lake City attending SLIG. While there I took advantage of being able to go research at the Family History Library and the Church History Library. At that time I said to one of the librarians at the Church History Library, "when is your catalog going to be available online?" So you can imagine I was pretty excited to see the recent addition of the online catalog.

The Church History Library has quite a bit of resources that are vital to not just the study of the historical Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but to the history of some communities and genealogy. If you have an ancestor who was Mormon, you should search this catalog for possible items not found at the Family History Library.

Screen shot taken 29 July 2012

The homepage for the catalog shows you some of the highlights of the collection (partially shown in  the screen shots above and below ). A keyword search is under the title "Church History Catalog." From the searches I did, it appears that the search engine does allow exact phrase searching by using quotes around  keywords. So "Moses G Wilson" instead of Moses G Wilson, thus narrowing my search to a relevant hit.



An important thing to remember in any research, even research looking at a specific religious group, is that in some cases non-members of that religious group may be mentioned in materials held by a religious archive. In this case, the above screen shot includes the resource Mormons and Neighbors. This work includes biographical sketches of people living in "northern Mexico, New Mexico, Arizona, southern California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and northwestern Canada." Non-Mormons are included in this work.

One of my reasons for going to the Church History Library in January was to find information on a man who was the 2nd husband of a 4th great-grandmother.  Married and living in Texas, Moses G Wilson had previously lived in Jackson County, Missouri. It was there that he was one of the leaders that persecuted and drove the Mormons from their homes.


A search found this one result. Now, from my experience researching at the Library in January I know there are other resources that mention Moses. I'm assuming that there might be some difference in this online version of the catalog and the one available at the Library. (However, this could also be because I haven't explored the catalog enough).

What I love about this version of the catalog is the suggested subject searches provided to the left of the results. This provides the researcher with more ideas for broadening a search.


Because this is a digitized book, I can access it from the catalog, just as one can do when searching on the Family History Library Catalog.

At the top right under the Libraries drop down menu you can narrow or broaden your search to include All Libraries, Church History Library, Family History Books, BYU Digital Collections, and Internet Archives. Internet Archives takes you to the website Internet Archive and a collection of over 12,000 items that are digitized from the Church History Library.

I'm so happy to see this addition to the tools we have for researching Mormon ancestors. Try it out and see what you can find from this historical resource.

As a side note, in case you're wondering what I was researching at the Library. Aside from Moses, I was looking into some genealogical materials for my maternal line as well as my continuing research on nineteenth century women's attitudes towards polygamy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Four Thoughts about Researching Female Ancestors

Suffrage Hay Wagon. From Library of Congress, Flickr:The Commons. 
This last week I've had the great opportunity to speak to three societies all on the same topic, researching female ancestors. That opportunity provides a presenter with time to reflect on how they present the topic and what parts of the presentation work and what doesn't. With that time for reflection, and hours before I present the topic again, I wanted to point out four thoughts behind researching women.

1. It Takes a Community. Elizabeth Shown Mills says it best,  our ancestors didn't live in a vacuum, they had a FAN club (friends, acquaintances and neighbors). When researching women, it's imperative to look at her community including her church, schools, stores, service providers, neighbors, in-laws, cousins, etc.  It's in the writing of others, individuals and groups,  found in manuscript collections that we  find rich data about our female ancestors.

2. Genealogists Search Government Documents but There is More to Research. As genealogists we cut our research teeth, so to speak, by researching government documents like censuses, vital records, tax documents and military records. That's great and we should search those sources when we research. Once those are exhausted there is more to be researched. Library, archives, and museums hold wonderful primary source materials like manuscript collections that can inform our research. The drawback is that they are not indexed by surname and they aren't always digitized. That's ok, research requires more than just searching an online  database.

3. A Research Plan will Involve Various Types of Libraries, Archives, and Museums. To learn more about what types exist check out the Libraries/Archives section of  my Links page, found at the top of this blog.

4. In Order to Research Women, Consider their Activities. What did the women in your family tree take part in? Were they a member of a benevolent society? What about a women's group at church like the Dorcas Society or Relief Society? Could they have been a member of an auxiliary to a group their husband belonged to, like the Masons or the Oddfellows? Did they work (more women worked outside of the home then most people realize)? Think about the activities they were a part of and that will lead you to records.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Church Record Sunday: Church Cemeteries and the Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery

There are many places to find lists of  church cemetery burials. One of your first searches should be on the Family History Library Catalog. Search on the place where the church is located and then look under the subject category "cemeteries." You can also conduct a keyword search for the name of the church or cemetery.

Online cemetery websites like Find A Grave and Interment.net can also be places to find burials. The USGenWeb and other genealogically related websites might also be of use.

In some cases, you might find information information posted by the church or local volunteers. To find these documents, Google the name of the church and/or the cemetery. A good example is this pdf document for the Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery in Bessemer, Alabama. This includes information about the cemetery as well as a census of the burials.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What Was That Website?: The Links Page

From freedigitalphotos.net
While giving a presentation last week someone remarked that it would have been nice if I had listed all the websites that I referred to on the handout. That's a fair comment, but here's my dilemma. Oftentimes, speakers are asked to turn in handouts weeks and even months before a presentation. I know that at least for me, I am constantly adding to  presentations, sometimes up to the last minute. And in that tweaking I find new resources that I want to share. So then there's the decision, do I share only what's on the handout or do I provide all the tools that I think are useful to an audience? Because I want to leave participants with tools they can use,  I present what I have just discovered. My belief is that the handout is to augment the presentation. For me it's not a transcript of everything I will be presenting.

Also, because I think it's easier to click on a link rather than retype a website address I decided to go ahead and create a Links page on my blog. Does this page include every website I will ever mention in a presentation? No. But it does have the ones that I speak about in the majority of my presentations. I will be adding new links as I find them so this is not a "static" resource.

The Links page is here. It also can be found by clicking on the Links tab at the top of this blog.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Church Record Sunday: Lady's Auxillary First Baptist Church Maryville, Missouri

 As some of my readers may know, I have another blog called Food.Family.Ephemera. Each week on that blog I highlight a recipe and a community cookbook for Food Friday. This week's Food Friday involved a church cookbook that really also needs to be highlighted for Church Record Sunday. That's why there is some overlap in blog postings this week.


from the collection of Gena Philibert-Ortega



The Directory and Cook Book compiled by the First Baptist Church of Maryville, Missouri is unique. It's the first one that I have seen that has "Directory" in the title. Many of these community cookbooks are directories of the recipe contributors and the  local businesses who have ads in the cookbook. These cookbooks serve as a  "directory of local women." In this case, that statement is completely true since two of the pages have the names and street addresses of the women from the Ladies' Auxiliary of the First Baptist Church of Maryville, Missouri.




In some cases "church records" may encompass all kinds of documents/publications and not just the standard ones we tend to think of that list a birth, baptism, marriage or death. This particular "church record" places these women at a street address and a religious affiliation. From here, other records could be searched  including the census.