Sunday, March 31, 2013

Church Record Sunday Meets Women's History Month 2013: Church Women United

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 31

Happy Easter  and welcome to our last day of Women's History Month resources. 

Easter Bunny. Library of Virginia via Flickr the Commons,

Today we look at links to collections for the Christian ecumenical group Church Women United. As I have discussed throughout the month, it's important to consider what groups your female ancestor was a member of. While this is a more recent example, it helps to illustrate what types of records exist. 

Church Women United in Illinois Records

Church Women United in Indiana Records: 1916-1998

Church Women United in Iowa Records, 1933-2004

Guide to the Church Women United Records (New Jersey)

Guide to the Church Women United in the Schenectady Area Records, 1935-2011

Church Women United of Grand Forks Records

A Guide to the Church Women United Texas Records, 1934-2011

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: National Archives Links

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 30

National Archives . Archives Library Information Center. Reference. Women

This list of resources  is a service of the National Archives, Archives Library Information Center. Topics covered in this list of links include Bibliographies, African-American Women, Biographies, Politics and Women, Women’s Suffrage, Women in the Military and Other Resources.  

Make sure to check out the links under the Other Resources category. This category includes an article about women and naturalization, Any woman who is now or may hereafter be married…Women and Naturalizations, ca 1802-1940 by Marian L. Smith that is a must read for any genealogist who wants to better understand the laws that affected immigrant women.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: Home Sources

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 29

(c) 2013 Gena Philibert-Ortega

Home Sources are an important starting point for genealogical research. However, when most of us hear the words "home source" we automatically respond, "I don't have any."  While that may be true, it's important to reach out to other family members who may have heirlooms.

Utilize social media to "get the word out." Message boards, websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and GenealogyWise are all websites where you can let others know about your research and possibly attract fellow researchers with information and heirlooms.

What types of home sources might exist? Here's a partial list of ideas.

Announcement in Newspaper
Mailed Baby Announcements
Baby Book
Adoption Record

Engagement Announcement
Wedding Announcement
Wedding Book
Wedding Photographs
25th or 50th Anniversary Announcement

Court papers
Newspaper Notice

Funeral Notice
Thank You notes
Newspaper Articles
Funeral Book
Funeral Cards
Cemetery Plot Receipts

Report Cards
School Newspapers
Alumni Newspapers
Class Photos

Baptismal certificate
Christening record
Ministerial record
Transfer Letter

Military Service
Pension Record
Military Records
Veterans Administration Card

Social Security Card
Union Membership Records
Income Tax Records
Retirement Records
Business License

Property Ownership
Homestead Records
Tax Records

Household Items
Newspaper Clippings
Needlework Samples

Naturalization Papers
Alien Registration

Institutional Records
Hospital Records
Immunization Records
Library Card
Fraternal Order Memberships
Charity Group Memberships

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Women's History Month: Farm Women

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 28

One of the subjects I am interested in right now is how the lives of rural women were documented. We tend to downplay the ability to find information about our farm ancestor's lives by stating "they were only farmers" like that means automatically there would be no records. Assuming this would be wrong.

I've been enjoying reading Barbara Handy-Marchello's book Women of the Northern Plains. Gender & Settlement on the Homestead Frontier 1870-1930 . As with all books I read, I started with the bibliography and then moved on to the footnotes to get some inspiration for resources that would be helpful for genealogy and social history. As I worked my way to the Introduction, I quickly saw that many of the sources she used would be vital to family history researchers. Just a few of her sources included:

  • Interviews
  • Dairies and journals
  • Pioneer interviews (conducted by the WPA)
  • Records and interviews  from women's organizations such as the North Dakota Federation of Women's Clubs 
  • Memoirs
She also used other types of materials such as  histories, newspapers, and  government publications.

One of my 4th great-grandmothers was the wife of a farmer and later when her husband was killed, she was the farmer. Information about her life has come from such sources as newspapers, tax records, and histories. I know there is even more out there waiting for me to discover.

Was your female ancestor living in a rural area? Consider looking at the bibliographies and footnotes of these books for ideas on sources:

Fink, Deborah. Agrarian Women: Wives and Mothers in Rural Nebraska, 1880-1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

Jensen, Joan M. Loosening the Bonds: Mid-atlantic Farm Women, 1750-1850. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986. 

Lauters, Amy M. More Than a Farmer's Wife: Voices of American Farm Women, 1910-1960. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009. 

Pickle, Linda S. Contented Among Strangers: Rural German-Speaking Women and Their Families in the Nineteenth-Century Midwest. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996. 

Walker, Melissa. All We Knew Was to Farm: Rural Women in the Upcountry South, 1919-1941. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: Finding Aids

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 27

One resource I have stressed in my presentations and writings  is manuscript collections. These archival collections of documents from individuals and groups are an invaluable source for family historians.  In my list of links found at the top of my blog, I've provided websites to find manuscript collections including  NUCMC and ArchiveGrid. For now, let's discuss an important aspect of  researching these collections, using Finding Aids.

According to Wikipedia, a finding aid is:

a document containing detailed information about a specific collection of papers or records within an archive. Finding aids are used by researchers to determine whether information within a collection is relevant to their research. (

So simply, a manuscript collection may be titled "Eliza Smith Civil War Diary" and then the finding aid will provide more information about the quantity of the collection and what it includes. By reading a finding aid you can learn more about how it can (or cannot) benefit your research. Some finding aids can be quite lengthy and others may be more brief.

So let's look at one example of a finding aid from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Library. The Chicago Women's Aid Records 1903-1988 shows a diverse range of documents that make up the collection. If your female ancestor was  a member of this group you may find a mention of her membership but your would also learn important social history details that would enhance your writings about her life.

To learn more about using finding aids in your family history research, check out  Madaleine Laird's blog KinfoLit  and  her post, Found in a Finding Aid: Evidence of a Relationship

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: First Comes Love...

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 26

From the collection of Gena Philibert-Ortega

How do you find marriage records? Well, there are various ways. Consider the following ideas:

  • Start your search by utilizing subscription websites. Search by locality to see what marriage records they have available for the place you are researching. Sometimes just searching by surname using the homepage search engine is not enough. 

  • Consider your ancestor's religion in your search. What church records might exist? You may find marriage records that are on an ecclesiastical level as well as on the government level. Depending on your ancestor’s religion you might find records located on the local level, at a regional archive, at a church sponsored museum or university, or other repository.  Start on the local level  and inquire about where archived records may be kept and how you can access them.

In addition to “official” records don’t forget other documentation that may exist as a result of the big day.  Newspaper notices or articles, both for the wedding and the engagement, and home sources such as invitations, photos, thank-you notes and guest registers may hold important clues.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: Feeding America. The Historic American Cookbook Project

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 25

As most of my readers know, I'm interested in what our ancestors ate.  Even looking back one generation in my own family, what we eat as a family today is quite different than what my mother ate as a child or even what I ate growing up.  Food differs from place and time based on a number of factors such as, availability, cost, taste, and whether it is something that is in “vogue” at the time. One way to learn more about what recipes were used when your ancestor was alive is to look at cookbooks from that time period.

Michigan State University Libraries, Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project includes digitized cookbooks covering the late 18th to early 20th century.

One of my favorites, written in 1798 is, American Cookery, or theart of dressing viands, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and the best modes ofmaking pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards, and preserves, and allkinds of cakes, from the imperial plum to plain cake: Adapted to this country,and all grades of life by Amelia Simmons.  Simmons takes care to teach her reader what meat is best for eating and how to choose the best meat.  In case you were curious about peacock meat, she writes, “tho’ beautifully plumaged, is tough, hard, stringy and untasted, and even indelicious.” (pg. 7)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Church Record Sunday Meets Women's History Month: Researching the Catholic Nun in Your Family

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 24

SMU Central University Libraries. From Flickr The Commons,

Do you have someone in your family tree that was a Catholic nun? The following are some links you may be interested in:

Researching Irish Catholic Nuns via Family Tree Magazine

Index of Catholic Nuns 1598-1914 via The Society of Genealogists

The Importance of Women Religious in the Family via Journey Home Genealogy. Irish Genealogy Research

Catholic Nuns Message Board on

Cyndi's List: Catholic

As you research, remember to consider sources such as ArchiveGrid, NUCMC, WorldCat, and JSTOR

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: Books for Researching Female Ancestors

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 23

Library Confusion by Sam Hood via Flickr The Commons,

Looking for more information about researching female ancestors? You may be interested in reading the following sources:

  • Carmack, Sharon D. B. A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Female Ancestors: Special Strategies for Uncovering Hard-to-Find Information About Your Female Lineage. Cincinnati, Ohio: Betterway Books, 1998.

  • Schaefer, Christina K. The Hidden Half of the Family: A Sourcebook for Women's Genealogy. Baltimore, Md: Genealogical Pub. Co, 1999. 

  • Ward, Margaret. Female Occupations: Women's Employment 1850-1950. Newbury, England: Countryside Books, 2008.

  • Ward, Margaret. Female Occupations: Women's Employment 1850-1950. Newbury, England: Countryside Books, 2008. 

What's your favorite how-to book for researching female ancestors?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Win an iPad from RootsMagic

Just a reminder: RootsMagic is giving away an iPad as part of their RootsTech Treasure Hunt. And even for those who couldn't go to RootsTech this year, you can still win.

Check it out here.

My blog has one of the clues. If you look at the top of my blog you may find the link.

Women's History Month 2013: Community Cookbook Resources

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 22

Every Friday on my blog Food. Family.Ephemera  is Food Friday. Blog posts on Food Friday feature a recipe from a community cookbook. So I decided that we should explore places to find these cookbooks as part of  the resources for Women's History Month.

Researching the life of a female ancestor can have its difficulties. Most family historians find that their ancestress is rarely mentioned in the sources familiar to genealogists such as government records. When women aren't found in these standard resources you need to consider alternative  approaches. 

Sources exist that were created by women including  community cookbooks. Women’s material culture, including cookbooks, provide a glimpse into the sphere of a woman’s world and in some cases even provide documentation of the women in a community. 

From the collection of Gena Philibert-Ortega

Community cookbooks were published by churches, schools, social movements and non-profit organizations. Community cookbooks, have been around since the time of the American Civil War. These cookbooks still exist and continue to fund the concerns and activities of women. 

What’s Inside a Community Cookbook?

Like many genealogical sources, community cookbooks are at the very least a   “names list.” They provide a name and a place.  Community cookbooks vary on what information can be found in the cookbook. The standard is to have pages of recipes with the name of the woman who submitted that recipe. That name may include a notation that includes Mrs. and a husband’s name or initials. Leaving only unmarried women with their full name included.

While that type of listing does happen, there are many cookbooks that include additional information ranging from just the name of the recipe contributor to family history information explaining the significance of the recipe to the family. Depending on the group who organized the cookbook you can find occupations, personal histories and even clues to ethnic backgrounds. I've seen church community cookbooks that include a detailed history of the church, names and dates of service of ministers and a list of the burials in the church cemetery. 

Your ancestor’s community may also be reconstructed from information found in the cookbook. Advertisements may have been sold to help offset the cost of printing the cookbook. A benefit to both the advertiser and the women publishing the cookbook, advertisements can help you learn more about what existed in your ancestor’s community including ads for funeral homes and physicians.

Finding Community Cookbooks
In searching for possible community cookbooks, consider checking archival/library collections, digitized book sites and online auction websites. If you are in the area where your ancestor lived, you can expand your search to local library collections, used bookstores, friends of the library book sales and thrift stores.

Large collections of community cookbooks can be found around the United States. 
Some collections  include :

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: WorldCat

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 21

Starting a research project? You will need to survey what books may help in your research. Looking for books for the location your ancestor lived in can be a vital first step. Histories, transcriptions, and indexes all need to be consulted. All types of libraries can help you whether  public, private, state or academic. How can you search through 1.5 billion items in libraries worldwide?


WorldCat, according to their website,  is the world's largest network of library content and services. World Cat allows you to search for  books, images, dissertations and more through thousands of libraries worldwide. 

Once you find a resource you are interested in, you may enter your location and the website will reveal what libraries "nearby" have the item. You can also sign up for a free account and create a bibliography that can be for your private use or made public and posted to your website or blog.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

RootsMagic Treasure Hunt Clue Here!: Win an iPad

I love a treasure hunt and RootsMagic has a great one to coincide with RootsTech. I'm honored to be one of the bloggers participating . 
Not going to RootsTech? No, problem, just read the instructions below provided by RootsMagic.

It's been a tremendous last few months here at RootsMagic. We've been busy with the new releases of RootsMagic 6 and RootsMagic for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. We're also excited to participate in one of the largest genealogy events in North America- RootsTech!

We want to celebrate these momentous events with you, our loyal users! And what better way to celebrate than with a treasure hunt where you could win one of many prizes including an iPad (4th generation)!


Once again, we've partnered with 15 of the best and brightest genealogy bloggers who will be reporting at the RootsTech conference. Each blogger will place one of 15 clue words on their website.

From Thursday, March 21 through Wednesday, March 27, 2013, visit for a complete list of the blogs where the 15 clue words can be found. Visit each blog, collect all 15 clue words, and you could win software, prizes, or an iPad!


Once you've collected the clues there are two ways to enter. The first is at the RootsTech conference itself. Pick up an entry card at the RootsMagic booth (#401) in the Exhibit Hall. Write the clue words on the back of the card and return it to the RootsMagic booth in the Exhibit Hall by Saturday, March 23 at 1:20 pm. At that time, we will hold the prize drawings. You must be present to win.

We didn't want those who aren't able to attend RootsTech in person to feel left out so we're holding a second drawing and giving away more prizes including a second iPad. To enter this drawing, visit anytime between Thursday, March 21 and midnight MST on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. Fill out the online form to be entered into the second drawing. You may enter both drawings but one entry per person, per drawing. Winners will be picked at random and notified via e-mail by Friday, March 29, 2013.
Good luck!

Women's History Month 2013: Images of America

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 20

Local histories are so important to researching your female ancestor. Books by a publisher of local histories, Arcadia Publishing  should be consulted by family history researchers. Arcadia,  the publisher of the Images of America series, is a publisher that you may be familiar with.  Their Images of America books all have the familiar sepia cover sporting a vintage photo of some kind. These books cover communities throughout the United States.  Along with books that feature cities, there are titles that feature neighborhoods within a city as well those that cover groups, like the history of a sheriff’s organization, and even cemeteries.  Each book has about 200 photographs, largely vintage, as well as short narrative that details the era, history and people.

Arcadia Publishing offers their books for sale on their website. At their website you can search for a book  by keyword, zip code or title. Once you find the title you are interested in, following the link will provide you information about that particular book, and in many cases a link to GoogleBooks where you can “preview” the title.

While perusing a book’s index is always a great idea in research, it’s important to know that these books do not have a complete index.  It is up to the individual author whether they want to include an index and even those who do, are not given the space to index every name in the book.  Those books that contain a bibliography provide you with additional resources for researching your ancestor’s locality.

Often the authors of these books have  special access to the photos featured.  They might be an archivist at a museum, a member of a genealogical or historical society or similar organization. The author would be a good contact for learning about photos or people featured in a particular book.

Photos and illustrations contain  source citations.  These citations can provide you with information for accessing an image that is important to your family history.

I would recommend looking at the photos in these books very carefully.  In one case I was able to find my grandmother in a picture that didn't feature her face. Let me explain.  In the Snowflake  book, written about  the city of Snowflake, Arizona, there is a picture of two women holding up a signature quilt (each quilt  block features the name of its maker).  Because of my interest in quilts, I looked at the picture a little more carefully than normal and sure enough, my maternal grandmother’s signature was on one of the blocks. 

A careful examination of these books can help you learn local history, resources, and maybe net you a photo of your ancestor.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Women's History Month: Newspapers

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 19

From the collection of Gena Philibert-Ortega

For today's resource I am redirecting you to an article I wrote this month for the GenealogyBank blog. In this post I explain some of the places you can find mentions of a  female ancestor in the newspaper.

Find Your Female Ancestors This Women's History Month

Monday, March 18, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: City Directories

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 18

1910 Des Moines, Iowa City Directory from Internet Archive.

One of my favorite resources, city directories, offers researchers so much great information.  I've been able to use these directories to find the actual occupations for women who in the census are listed as "housewife," as well as  addresses, marital status, and more.

Where can you find city directories? Well one place to start is Online Historical Directories, written by fellow blogger Miriam Robbins of AnceStories. Miriam has links for directories organized by place. 

Other places to search for directories include subscription websites and digitized book websites like Google Books and Internet Archive.

Do you have a favorite city directory website? What have you learned about your female ancestors in the city directory? Please leave a comment below and share your resources.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: Women Working

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 16

Women Working 1800-1930

Was your female ancestor a "housewife?" It's easy to assume they were. Even if you think she never worked you should check out  the Harvard University Library website Women Working, 1800-1930. This virtual collection includes 650,000 pages from 3,100 books, 900 archival items and 1,400 photographs. This is a place to learn how women contributed to economic life including “working conditions, workplace regulations, home life, costs of living, commerce, recreation, health and hygiene, and social issues.”

Friday, March 15, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: Women and the Civil War

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 15

 Annie Surratt. Flickr the Commons.US National Archives

Interested in researching female ancestors during the American Civil War? Here's some books and websites that you should take a look at. They provide social history as well as  ideas for resources.


Attie, Jeanie. Patriotic Toil: Northern Women and the American Civil War. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 1998.

Berkin, Carol. Civil War Wives: The Lives and Times of Angelina Grimké Weld, Varina Howell Davis, and Julia Dent Grant. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

Blanton, DeAnne, and Lauren M. Cook. They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002.

Camp, Stephanie M. H. Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Clinton, Catherine, and Nina Silber. Battle Scars: Gender and Sexuality in the American Civil War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006

Collins, Gail. America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines. New York: William Morrow, 2003.

Creighton, Margaret S. The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg's Hidden History : Immigrants, Women, and African-Americans in the Civil War's Defining Battle. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

Culpepper, Marilyn M. Trials and Triumphs: Women of the American Civil War. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1991.

Culpepper, Marilyn M. Women of the Civil War South: Personal Accounts from Diaries, Letters, and Postwar Reminiscences. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co, 2004

Edwards, Laura F. Scarlett Doesn't Live Here Anymore: Southern Women in the Civil War Era. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

Faust, Drew G. Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Forbes, Ella. African American Women During the Civil War. New York: Garland, 1998

Giesberg, Judith A. Civil War Sisterhood: The U.S. Sanitary Commission and Women's Politics in Transition. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2000.

Giesberg, Judith A. Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

Graf, Mercedes. On the Field of Mercy: Women Medical Volunteers from the Civil War to the First World War. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2010.

Johnston, Carolyn. Cherokee Women in Crisis: Trail of Tears, Civil War, and Allotment, 1838-1907. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2003.

Leonard, Elizabeth D. Yankee Women: Gender Battles in the Civil War. New York: W.W. Norton, 1994.

Leonard, Elizabeth D. All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1999.

Lowry, Thomas P. Confederate Heroines: 120 Southern Women Convicted by Union Military Justice. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006

McSherry, Frank D, Charles Waugh, and Martin H. Greenberg. Civil War Women: The Civil War Seen Through Women's Eyes in Stories by Louisa May Alcott, Kate Chopin, Eudora Welty, and Other Great Women Writers. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990.

McDevitt, Theresa. Women and the American Civil War: An Annotated Bibliography. Westport, Conn: Praeger, 2003.

Petite, Mary D. The Women Will Howl: The Union Army Capture of Roswell and New Manchester, Georgia, and the Forced Relocation of Mill Workers. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co, 2008.

Revels, Tracy J. Grander in Her Daughters: Florida's Women During the Civil War. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2004.

Rhoades, Nancy L, Lucy E. Bailey, and Edwin L. Lybarger. Wanted--correspondence: Women's Letters to a Union Soldier. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2009.

Richard, Patricia L. Busy Hands: Images of the Family in the Northern Civil War Effort. New York: Fordham University Press, 2003.

Schultz, Jane E. Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Silber, Nina. Daughters of the Union: Northern Women Fight the Civil War. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2005.

Sizer, Lyde C. The Political Work of Northern Women Writers and the Civil War, 1850-1872. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Sullivan, Walter. The War the Women Lived: Female Voices from the Confederate South. Nashville: J.S. Sanders, 1995.

Taylor, Susie K. Reminiscences of My Life in Camp: An African American Woman's Civil War Memoir. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006.

Waugh, Charles, and Martin H. Greenberg. The Women's War in the South: Recollections and Reflections of the American Civil War. Nashville, Tenn: Cumberland House, 1999.

Whites, LeeAnn, and Alecia P. Long. Occupied Women: Gender, Military Occupation, and the American Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009.

Winkler, H D. Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War. Naperville, Ill: Cumberland House, 2010.

Wood, Kirsten E. Masterful Women: Slaveholding Widows from the American Revolution Through the Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Young, Elizabeth. Disarming the Nation: Women's Writing and the American Civil War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.


American Women's History: The Civil War PeriodMiddle Tennessee State University.

American Women's Letters & Diaries: A Bibliography.

Blanton, DeAnne. "Women Soldiers of the Civil War" Prologue: Selected Articles.National Archives and Records Administration.

The Civil War: Women and the Homefront. Duke University Libraries 

"Hearts at Home: Southern Women in the Civil War." University of Virginia Library.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: Repositories of Primary Sources

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 14

Repositories of Primary Sources 

This website provides links to over 5,000 repositories worldwide that hold primary source materials. What’s great about this website is that the links are worldwide, but not every repository will have genealogical data. Search on a region and then the specific state or country you are interested in. Links will take you to that specific repository's website where you can search their card catalog for materials.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: Periodicals

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 13

Periodicals are an important aspect to genealogical research. The problem is, they tend to be  overlooked. Just this last week I was talking to a genealogy society president who lamented all the great periodicals their library has with transcriptions and family histories but no one every looks at them.

How can you find what you need in periodicals? First, you will want to search a periodical index. We will concentrate on PERSI for this post but my other favorite is JSTOR . Google Scholar  includes articles and books. Your local library may also have a periodical database available when you use your library card to sign into the library’s website.

PERSI is compiled by the Allen County Public Library in Indiana. PERSI is the largest index of historical and genealogical articles in the world. This index covers articles written in English and French since 1800.  While PERSI does not contain articles from every genealogical newsletter or journal ever published it does have a large collection that can benefit your research. While you cannot access PERSI from the Allen County Public Library website, you can access it through or Heritage Quest.

Searching on PERSI

Before you search on PERSI, it’s important to consider the types of articles you may find. Remember that these are genealogy and history periodicals which mean that the articles could consist of transcriptions, name lists, how-tos, methodology articles, area histories, interviews as well as images of individuals, places and events.

Some of the articles available in PERSI are from  genealogy society newsletters where the local society has been hard at work on local history projects that detail historical events, places or residents. These histories and transcriptions may not be available anywhere else.

You can search PERSI by locality, surname or other keyword. Because articles are indexed by the title of the article, not every word in the article, it’s important to note that those names mentioned in an article will not appear in the index. For this reason it is a good idea to search both surname and locality. For example, articles listing cemetery transcriptions will be indexed under the locality, not by the individuals named in the article. By just conducting a surname search, you could miss out on articles important to your research. When you search by locality you can also add a keyword. The addition of a keyword to your search can help you narrow down your results.

Once you search on a keyword, you results list will include the name of the article, the name of the publication it is found in, locality, volume, issue number, and record type. The record type is important because it is there that you will get a sense of what records the article deals with. Record types include Cemeteries, Church Records, Vital Records, History, Biography, Surname, Military, School Records, Directories, Land, Census Records, Court Records, Deeds, and Other.

Searching on a location is just one option. Also consider searching on characteristics of your ancestor like membership affiliations, religion and occupations. In a search using  the phrase “Grand Army of the Republic” I found hundreds of thousands of articles including membership lists for individual posts, membership records, service records, histories, posts, photos, cemetery listings and more. To narrow my results even further I can add a location, I added the state of Nebraska, which returns results having to do with the GAR in Nebraska.

For researching women, consider using a keyword search to find articles that provide information about activities that your ancestor may have been involved in. Some keywords to consider are the name of an occupation, church or membership organization. Searches I have conducted on the words “community cookbook” and “signature quilt” have included results with lists of women’s names from various churches, membership groups and cities transcribed by genealogy society members.

As with any online search engine, remember that the more keywords you use the fewer results will be returned to you. The reason is that the search engine looks for “hits” that match every term you have typed. So conduct numerous versions of your search, adding and removing  keywords, to get the best results.

Requesting articles

Once you have searched PERSI and found the articles you are interested in, you can download an order form from the Allen County Public Library GenealogyCenter website. The form is also available on Ancestry, on the PERSI home page.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: Gold Star Mothers

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 12

The Gold Star Mothers has its historical roots in World War I.  The idea behind this group came from the initial tragedy experienced by Grace Siebold.  An American woman, Grace Darling Siebold’s 23 year old son, George Vaughn Siebold, was assigned to the British Royal Flying Corps.  George had a love for aviation and since America did not yet have an Air Force, all Americans who were aviators were assigned to the British Flying Corps. 

During the War, Mrs. Siebold spent her time visiting with returning service men recuperating in local hospitals.  Mrs. Siebold received letters from her son regularly but one day those letters stopped.  Because technically her son was not part of the American military forces, Mrs. Siebold could not get information about what, if anything, had happened to him.  On Christmas Eve, 1918, a knock at the door came and a package that read, “Effects of Deceased Officer, First Lieutenant, George Vaughn Siebold, Attached to the 148th Squadron, BRFC.”  No other information was provided.  Months later, Mrs. Siebold received the official news that her son had been killed in aerial combat in August of 1918.

This experience led Grace to build a community of mothers who had lost sons in the war.  In 1928, twenty-five mothers established the national organization, American Gold Star Mother, Inc. which is still in existence today.

The Gold Star Mothers came to be known as such because during the war, families would place a service flag in their window that indicated with blue stars how many members of their family were serving in the war.  If a family member was killed during their service, a gold star was placed over his blue star to symbolize the honor and glory that should be given to such a serviceman who gave his life. 

Gold Star Pilgrimages

World War I saw 100,000 American servicemen who were killed and buried overseas.  The U.S. government gave families a choice; they could bring their loved one home for a burial locally or could have their family member reburied in a cemetery yet to be built in Europe.  While many of the families chose to have their loved one re-interred in the United States, 33,000 chose to have their family members buried in Europe

In the 1920’s mothers started lobbying the government to fund pilgrimages to their loved ones graves in Europe. While the wealthy could afford to travel to Europe, the trip was too costly for many of the American women who longed to see the resting place of their son or husband.  After 10 years and the involvement of such people as U.S. Representative and future New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, the mothers got their wish.

On February 7, 1930, in the Red Room of the White House, President Woodrow Wilson’s wife Lou reached into a silver bowl and pulled out one of 54 envelopes.  Each envelope contained the name of a state or oversees territory.  The order the envelopes were picked would determine what order the women would take their pilgrimage. The first state picked was Nebraska.  Three months later 231 women left for Europe.   From 1930-1933 the United States government conducted a series of trips for the mothers and widows of fallen servicemen.  Once at the cemetery, the government provided a wreath of flowers, a picture of the woman at her loved one’s grave and three to four days of privacy.  By the end of this program in August 1933, approximately 6,693 women made the gold star pilgrimage abroad. 

For information about the pilgrimage, see the Quartermaster’s Review  or the NARA Prologue article, World War I Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimages.

To obtain a list of eligible mothers and widows for the gold star pilgrimages consult, List of Mothers and Widows of American Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines Entitled to Make a Pilgrimage the War Cemeteries in Europe, 71st Cong., 2d sess., House Document No. 140 (GPO: Washington, D.C., 1930).  To find a copy of this list consult a library that is a Federal Depository Library.  Federal Depository Libraries  include some public libraries and university libraries.