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The Daily Genealogist Spotlight: Otter Tail County Historical Society, Minnesota

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Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Assistant Editor

Otter Tail County Historical Society, Minnesota

The Otter Tail County Historical Society is located in the city of Fergus Falls, which is the county seat of Otter Tail County. Otter Tail County is in west central Minnesota. The historical society has made some of its resources available online. First click on the Research tab in the site contents bar to open a new page. Click on the link to the resource you would like to open, located in the contents list on the right side of the page.

Cemetery Database Search
The cemetery database contains nearly 85,000 records, and can be searched by last name, first name, and year of death. The way the search function works is a bit different than others I have encountered. You must enter data in all fields in order to retrieve any results. You cannot simply browse through the records by entering a last name or burial year. The data fields in the search results are last name, first name, birth date, and death date. Two additional fields contain links to order further information (internment details and an obituary search) for a fee. Click on the Cemeteries link on the Research main page to open a new page with a list of Otter Tail County cemeteries. Many of the cemetery names in this list link to maps.

Multi Index Search
Click on the Multi Index Search link to open the search page. The search fields are last name, first name, business name, township name, and year. You can limit your search by choosing from one of the eleven sources that comprise the database. These are: annuals, city directories, obituaries, pioneer stories, plat books, rural school officers, rural school students, rural school teachers, tax lists, tombstone pictures, and WPA interviews. You can enter information in any of the search fields to start your search. The data fields in your search results are first name, last name, business name, publication year, township name, and document type. There is an additional field with a link to order a copy of the record for a fee.

Other Resources

Townships
This section contains a description of the location and geography of Otter Tail County, along with a list of its more than sixty townships. The townships are alphabetically listed by name with the range and date of organization. The historical society has provided a link to the Otter Tail County GenWeb site, which includes historical information about the townships.

Military History
In this section you will find lists related to the military service of Otter Tail County residents in World War I, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Fergus Falls State Hospital
You should read the frequently asked questions section if you had an ancestor or other relative who was a patient at the Fergus Falls State Hospital, or if you are researching someone who was buried in the State Hospital cemetery.


The Daily Genealogist: A New 1940 Census Tool for New York City

(A Note from the Editor) Permanent link
 
Lynn Betlock

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Reader Richard Fipphen of Fairfield, Connecticut, let us know about a new 1940 census tool for New York City called Direct Me NYC 1940. The New York Public Library digitized the 1940 New York City phone books and created a tool that allows users to move from the phone book listings to the 1940 census schedules on NARA's website. When a person of interest is selected from the telephone book, the address will be mapped on both a ca. 1940 map and a 2012 map. The relevant enumeration district(s) will appear, and entering the name of a cross street will further refine the results. In some cases it may be impossible to narrow the results to one ED; for instance, if a street is on the border of two EDs, you will see two EDs for that street.

The Direct Me NYC 1940 website also allows users to share stories of who they’ve found in the 1940 New York City census. Here are some examples of notable entries:

Asimov Candy Store — candy (and cigarettes) store owned by the family of the science fiction author Isaac Asimov, one of a series of such establishments where he worked that were run by his father Judah Asimov. The Asimov family lived across the street. The candy store itself continued for decades afterward under various owners as 'Buggy Bill's' and 'Wetters'; today, the location is ‘CBS Construction & Cabinets.’ Just the year before this, Asimov attended the ‘1st World Science Fiction Convention’ at the 1939 New York World's Fair in Queens.”

“Ten-year-old Jackie Bouvier, future wife of President John F. Kennedy, living with her parents on Park Avenue the year they divorced.”

“Found Billie Holiday in the 1940 Census living with her mother, Sadie, and Irene Wilson Kitchings (ex-wife of Teddy Wilson and composer of "Some of Spring). ED 31-1849 p. 18.”


The Daily Genealogist: New Service Allows You to Trace your Irish Heritage from the Comfort of a High End Dublin Hotel

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

 The Shelburne Dublin offers its guests the services of a “Genealogy Butler.”

The Daily Genealogist: A Pain That Persists: Japanese Americans Scarred by WWII Internments

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

In 1942 photographer Dorothea Lange took pictures of Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans undergoing forced relocation. Sacramento Bee senior photographer Paul Kitagaki, Jr. has been searching for the identities of those photographed — and creating this collection of portraits picturing the same individuals. (There’s also a companion story, and a gallery of unidentified photographs.)

The Daily Genealogist: Photo Mystery Solved, Then Doubted, Then Deciphered, Thanks to Readers

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

A follow-up to last week’s story of interest on identifying a Civil War soldier, this update relates how readers got involved and re-identified the photograph.

The Daily Genealogist: Genealogical time travel destination

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Lynn Betlock

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Last week’s survey asked what time period you would choose if you could travel back in time to visit the ancestor you’d most like to meet. The results are:

42%, 1800 to 1900
24%, 1700 to 1800
20%, 1600 to 1700
6%, I can’t decide.
4%, 1900 to 2000
3%, A time prior to 1600

This week's survey asks you for the geographic location of your time travel destination. Take the survey now!


Daily Genealogist: Name origin of Philetus

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Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto
Staff Genealogist

PHILETUS (m) (Greek beloved, Latinized): An apostate Christian condemned by Paul (II Timothy 2:17, 18), Philetus nevertheless had some New England namesakes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Andersonville casualty Philetus Barnum (about 1835-1864) of Middlebury, Conn.

The Daily Genealogist: Digital Newton, Newton Free Library, Massachusetts

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Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Assistant Editor

Digital Newton, Newton Free Library, Massachusetts  

The City of Newton is located in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, just west of Boston. The Newton Free Library has made a number of historical resources available on its website through Digital Newton. The materials in the collection “reflect the civic life of and provide insight into Newton from the 19th through the early 20th century, a time when Newton was transforming from agriculture to industry and becoming a suburban Boston residential community.” The collection is a work in progress. More images will be added as funding allows. To view the resources, click on the menu bar tabs. Resources include:

Assessed Polls, Blue Books, and City Directories
This section contains three image collections which list the names and addresses of Newton’s citizens and businesses. The first consists of published lists of registered voters and their polling districts for most years between 1884 and 1942. The second collection comprises the Blue Books, lists “of the leading residents, societies, etc. with street directory and new map” for most years between 1892 and 1927. The third collection contains digitized Newton city directories for many years between 1868 and 1934.

Images of Historic Newton
To view photographs, click on the Images of Historic Newton tab and select a collection from the drop-down list. Sixteen image collections have been digitized and uploaded to the site. Subjects include various Newton villages (Waban, Auburndale, Newton Corner/Nonantum, etc), family albums, glass negative collections, and more.

Early Books
In the Early Book Collection you will find digitized offerings from the library’s manuscript collection. Among the items are the diary of twelve-year Esmond Rice; the journal of Edward Jackson, who traveled to California during the Gold Rush; the manuscript eventually published as The History of Newton, 1630-1880 by Samuel Francis Smith; a history of the Newton Fire Department; and the 1906–07 diary of Newton Mayor Edgar W. Warren; and others.

High School Year Books
This collection contains Newton High School yearbook photographs for 1885, 1890, 1895, and 1900. Names are not recorded for the 1885 and 1890 images, but do appear with the 1895 photographs. In addition to photographs of individual students graduating in 1900, there are also “group photographs, autobiographical questionnaires, letters and telegrams addressed to the class at the time of their 25th reunion.”

Historic Maps
The Historic Maps collection consists of six maps of Newton. There are maps of the city from 1908, 1912, 1913, and 1918, an 1878 map of Newton Centre, and a map of Newton Corner likely drawn up by Thomas B. Proctor around 1869.


The Daily Genealogist: Interpreting the Value of the 1940 Dollar

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Lynn Betlock

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Reader Philip Hermann, a professional genealogist and educator, wrote to say that after he found his relatives in the 1940 census, he realized that he needed to understand the impact of inflation. Several questions in the 1940 census make it necessary to interpret the value of money in 1940 relative to its value today. Mr. Hermann looked into this topic and wrote the following helpful piece.

The Value of the 1940 Dollar
by Philip Hermann

A few questions in the 1940 census required answers in dollar amounts. Under “Household Data,” the value of a home or monthly rent was recorded. Under “Employment Status,” “Income in 1939” was listed.

To fully understand the dollar amounts in the 1940 census one needs to consider inflation and convert the 1940 dollar amounts to 2012 dollars.

Below are comparisons, made using the U.S. Department of Labor’s inflation calculator, between 1940 and 2012 dollars. (The inflation calculator allows you to compare dollar amounts for any year between 1913 and 2012.)

1940 Dollars2012 Dollars
$1$16.26
$1,000$16,261.64
$10,000$162,616.43

 For some context, here is a list of common goods and their prices in 1940 dollars, taken from www.thepeoplehistory.com/1940s.html.

Pork roast .39/lb.
Ground beef .55/lb.
Coffee .42/lb.
Bananas .11/lb.
Nylon hose.20 pair
Men’s suit $24.50
Sealy mattress $38.00
Ford Super Coupe$1,395.00
Average Home$3,920.00
Average Salary $1,725.00

The Daily Genealogist: Bee Readers Tell Tales of Heirloom Furniture

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

Readers of the Sacramento Bee sent in stories of a favorite piece of furniture, with many of those tables, chairs, and desks having traveled many miles and many generations.

The Daily Genealogist: Unknown No More: Identifying a Civil War Soldier

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

How researchers discovered the identity of a nameless Civil War soldier pictured in a compelling photograph.

The Daily Genealogist: Deep Research Went Into Sedgwick Project

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

The Kyra Sedgwick episode of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., researched by NEHGS’s Rhonda R. McClure, features quotes by NEHGS President and CEO D. Brenton Simons.

The Daily Genealogist Survey: Genealogical time travel

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Lynn Betlock

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Last week’s survey asked how far you lived from where your closest immigrant ancestors settled. The results are:

9%, I live within 10 miles of where my immigrant ancestor settled.
7%, I live within 25 miles of where my immigrant ancestor settled.
8%, I live within 50 miles of where my immigrant ancestor settled.
9%, I live within 100 miles of where my immigrant ancestor settled.
10%, I live within 250 miles of where my immigrant ancestor settled.
10%, I live within 500 miles of where my immigrant ancestor settled.
10%, I live within 1,000 miles of where my immigrant ancestor settled.
37%, I live more than 1,000 miles from where my immigrant ancestor settled.
<1%, I do not know.

This week's survey asks about which century you’d choose if you could time travel to visit an ancestor.Take the survey now!


The Daily Genealogist: Name origin of Lucretia

(Name Origins) Permanent link
 
Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto
Staff Genealogist

LUCRETIA (f): Feminine form of a Roman family name. According to Livy and other Roman historians, Lucretia—daughter of Spurius Lucretius, prefect of Rome, and wife of Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, was raped by a guest in her home, Sextus Tarquinius, son of Tarquinius Superbus [the proud], last of the kings of Rome. She made her way to her father’s house, summoned witnesses, and stabbed herself to death to avenge her honor and the insult to her husband. The incident set off the revolt that brought down the early monarchy and established the Roman Republic.

Her story was dear to the Romans (and to medieval, Renaissance and later readers of Roman literature) as an exemplar of womanly virtue, and has often been treated in art—the theme was popular in Renaissance art because it allowed the depiction of female nudes engaged in imparting a moral “lesson” and enforcing popular concepts of female virtue; as the Wikipedia article on her notes, writers, artists and musicians from St. Augustine to Megadeth have mined the tale.

LUCRETIA—related to Latin lucrum “profit, wealth” (derived from the Indo-European root *lau- “gain, profit” via “suffixed zero-grade form *lu-tlo”)—is a completely different name from LUCY, which is related to Latin lux “light” and lucēre “to shine” (which derive from the IE root *leuk “light, brightness” (Calvert Watkins, The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, 3rd ed. [Boston/New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011], pp. 48, 51). The name retains much of its patrician tone, but in colonial and later America, sometime appears in the nickname form “Cretia” [CREE-sha] or “Creesy.” One famous American bearer was Lucretia (Coffin) Mott (1793-1880), the American Quaker abolitionist, feminist, and social reformer.


The Daily Genealogist: Bedford County [Pennsylvania] Historical Society

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Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Assistant Editor

Bedford County Historical Society

Bedford County is located on Pennsylvania’s southern border with Maryland. The Bedford County Historical Society, which was established in 1937, operates the Pioneer Library. According to the historical society’s website, the library contains “the county's most extensive collection of historical and genealogical materials.”

A number of indexes have been made available on the website. Copies of various records may be ordered from the historical society for a fee. Click on the On-site Research link in the contents list to access the records. Click on the database title link to open a new page containing the index.

Alms House Records: Scroll down to view the alphabetical index. The data fields for the Alms House Records index are last name, first name, volume, and page number. There are instructions for ordering copies of the records at the top of the page.

Civil War Exemptions: These records include both requests for exemptions and lists of soldiers who received exemptions from service in the Civil War. Scroll down to view the alphabetical index. The data fields for the Civil War Exemptions index are full name, volume, and page number. Instructions for ordering copies of the records are at the beginning of the page.

Divorce Indexes: The divorce index is divided into a number of alphabetical sections. The data fields for the alphabetical by surname index include libellant’s full name, respondent’s full name, and year. Instructions for ordering copies of the records may be found by clicking on the Paid Research link.

Naturalization Papers: This alphabetical database is an index to individuals naturalized in Bedford County. The only information provided is the full name of the individual. There are instructions for ordering copies of the records at the top of the page.

Obituaries: This database indexes more than 100,000 obituaries in the historical society’s collection. The index is divided into a number of alphabetical sections. The data fields in the obituary index are last name, first name, book number, page number, birth date, death date, and maiden name–other. Indexing was done by a number of different individuals. Because of this the maiden name might appear in parentheses following the woman’s first name or it might be in the maiden name column. Instructions for ordering copies of obituaries may be found at the bottom of the page.

Orphans Court Records: This database is an index to Bedford County Orphans Court records from 1790 to 1900. It is divided into a number of alphabetical sections. The data fields are surname, first name, year, number of pages, and township. Instructions for ordering copies of the records may be found by clicking on the Paid Research link.

Pension Files: This database is an index to soldiers from Bedford County who received pensions due to service in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War (Union and Confederate), and Spanish American War. The data fields are last name, first name, and war in which the individual served. The information in the first name field includes not only the given name of the soldier but may also include whether the file includes a widow’s pension, a parent’s pension, aliases under which a soldier served, and more. The War field also sometimes includes the number of pages in the pension file. Instructions on how to order copies of the files may be found on the website.


The Daily Genealogist: A Featured Blog

(A Note from the Editor) Permanent link
 
Lynn Betlock

Lynn Betlock
Editor

In this issue of The Weekly Genealogist Barbara Poole introduces her blog.

My New England-focused blog, Life From The Roots, began over two years ago. The blog includes over 640 posts, in which I cover 85 different surnames, a lot of research tips, 103 cemetery postings, and 20 entries on the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

My roots are in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wyoming, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.

Like many other genealogists, I got hooked on family history in an instant. I started over 22 years ago, and it hasn’t stopped. The blog was begun as a way to share what I know, and hopefully somebody will benefit. I’m also interested in photography, and often use my photos; I have another blog, called Seeing New England, which you might enjoy. I’m still learning research methods, trying to solve brick walls, and enjoy helping people. I would be pleased if readers would look through my genealogy posts or check the topics on the right side of the webpage to see if there is anything that interests you. 

If you have any recommendations for blogs that should be featured in a future issue of The Weekly Genealogist, please let us know.


The Daily Genealogist: Album Might Have Presidential Tie

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

NEHGS genealogist Christopher C. Child comments on a recently-discovered 1870s photograph album containing images of President Obama’s maternal relatives.

The Daily Genealogist: Faces of the Titanic: Jeremiah Burke Lost his Life at 19 — Put a Message in a Bottle before He Died

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Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

A young Irishman immigrating to the Unites States sent amessage in a bottle from the Titanic, which washed up a short distance from his home a year later. Many more Titanic-related stories are available at Irish Central’s Titanic Centenary Commemoration section.

The Daily Genealogist survey: Distance from original settlement

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Lynn Betlock

Lynn Betlock
Editor

This Week's Survey

Last week’s survey asked whether you had used the 1940 census. The results are:

42%, No, I have not used the 1940 census records online.
24%, Yes, I have used the 1940 census records on another website.
19%, Yes, I have used the 1940 census records on the National Archives website.
15%, I tried, but was not able to use the 1940 census records online.

This week's survey asks how far you live from where an immigrant ancestor settled. Take the survey now!


Spotlight: The Brantford Public Library, Ontario, Canada

(Spotlight) Permanent link
 
Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Assistant Editor

The Brantford Public Library (BPL), Ontario, Canada


Brantford, Ontario, is located just west of Lake Ontario, about one hour from Toronto and Niagara Falls, New York. The Brantford Public Library has made a number of genealogy and local history resources available on their website. Their focus is primarily on the city of Brantford and Brant County.

 

Birth, Marriage, Death Search Index (BMD)


This searchable index contains names found in birth, marriage, and death notices that have appeared in the Brantford Expositor newspaper. The index covers most years between 1852 and 2010. Some years between 1852 and 1916 are missing from the source microfilm, and the years 1946 through 1949, 1951 through 1955, and 1957 through 1960 have not yet been indexed. Additional years will be added as indexing is completed. In some instance there are notices of anniversaries, divorces, birthdays, and naturalizations, in addition to the birth, marriage, and death notices. The library has provided a YouTube video on how to use the BMD Index. If you do not live in the Brantford area you may request copies of notices for a fee.

 

Since 1852 the Brantford Expositor has been published under four titles: Brantford Conservative Expositor, Brantford Semi-Weekly Expositor, Brantford Weekly Expositor, and Brantford Expositor-Daily. Search fields include surname, which is required, first name, date limiters, and a drop down list with event type. Index users should be advised that the search results provide the date of the newspaper containing the notice, not the actual date of the event. The data fields in the search results include name, type of notice, date the notice appeared, page number, and notes. The ‘page’ field includes the newspaper title abbreviation. The ‘notes’ field contains information such as the name of the deceased’s spouse, names of a child’s parents, and references to other articles that mention the person about whom the notice was written.

 

Digital Archives

The website's Digital Archives contain a number of resources related to Brant County, its residents, and its history. You can search the database by title, publication, and author. Then you can limit your search by section type (collections), date range, and subject (list provided). The section types include Six Nations Documents, Pictorial Brantford/Brant County, Brantford/Brant County Documents, Commemorative Newspapers, and BPL Video Clips. The subjects include World War, 1914–1918 and 1939–1945; South African War, 1899–1902; Postal Service, Railroads; Newspapers; Alexander Graham Bell, 1847–1922; Brantford Directories, and many more.

 

The resources found here include History of the County of Brant, Ontario (1883) by Warner, Beers, & Co.; a two-volume History of the County of Brant (1920) by F. Douglas Reville; special editions of local newspapers; a book of photographs of Brantford; calendars and commencement programs for the Brantford Young Ladies' College and Conservatory of Music from the late nineteenth century; and much more. All of these files are in PDF format. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to download and view them.

 

Virtual War Memorial for Brantford and the County of Brant

This memorial commemorates individuals from Brantford, the County of Brant, and the peoples of the Six Nations who lost their lives during World War II. More than 6,000 men and women from Brant County served in the armed forces between 1939 and 1945. Over 300 were casualties of war. You can browse through the photographs and biographies in the Virtual War Memorial, which is organized alphabetically by last name, or you can search the Memorial by last name and/or first name. The Album of Honor, which gives the names of the men and women from Brant County who served during World War II, may be found in the Digital Archives section of the website. There are more than 3,500 photographs in this volume.


The Daily Genealogist: Library Technical Services at NEHGS

(A Note from the Editor) Permanent link
 
Lynn Betlock

Lynn Betlock
Editor

This week we introduce a new occasional feature — articles designed to familiarize readers with the many departments at NEHGS. We begin with a profile of Technical Services, written by department director Lynne Burke.

The Library Technical Services has been called “the heart of the library.” Three reasons for that assessment might be: acquisitions, access, and conservation.

Acquisition of printed library materials, microforms, and electronic resources is handled by Technical Services staff, with recommendations eagerly sought from all NEHGS staff and members. Donations of library materials arrive in Technical Services on a daily basis; email OTugarina@nehgs.org for instructions on how to donate. Single items or cartons of books from our generous members are acknowledged and checked against our collections. Duplicate items are offered for sale in the used book section of the Society’s book shop or online, with the permission of the donors.

Once acquired, an item is cataloged in the online library catalog, where it is described and searchable terms are added to its record to make it easy to find. It is then given a call number label and a book plate naming the donor or the fund that was used for the purchase, and added to the shelves of the research library.

The library is also happy to accept donations of electronic versions of books (preferably in PDF format), which we can add to our Digital Library for members to access online from home. Titles which may be placed in the Digital Library include those that are out of copyright and those for which the author is the donor and gives us permission. Electronic files may be donated either on CD/DVD or by email to TechServices@nehgs.org.

The research library has more than 800 serial titles in its collection. Ordering, tracking, and binding issues into volumes are all handled by Technical Services. We also locate back issues and keep up-to-date on changing titles, periodicals that are no longer published, and new titles that would be of interest to our patrons.

Technical Services is also responsible for acquiring subscriptions to online databases for our members to use here at the library or, in the case of some databases, via our website AmericanAncestors.org.

The NEHGS research collection has been in constant use since 1845, with many books published in the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. Conservation of this collection is a very important part of Technical Services work. Paper repair is a painstaking process. Fortunately, a variety of conservation treatments are available today. In addition, we can scan fragile materials to make high-quality print copies that can be used by library patrons. Conservation of manuscripts, samplers, and other works of art is performed in house by our Conservation Technician. Library Technical Services has four full-time staff, as well as several volunteers and interns, all striving to provide easy access to materials in the research library. Our biggest challenge is to find enough space in which to fit our ever-growing collections, but we see this as a happy dilemma.


The Daily Genealogist: Uncovered Document Traces Family’s History

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

A Riverside, California, man who purchased a framed print online discovered a Bates genealogical record from Cohasset, Massachusetts, hidden within.

The Daily Genealogist: Taking Over Holiday Duties, Daughter Reflects on Family Traditions

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

“Despite genealogy gumshoes looking under every rock on the Internet for ancestral clues, the Passover seder is where family history is made, the stories mapped on the parachute of a tablecloth unpacked from storage this one time a year.”

The Daily Genealogist: Release of 1940 Census Data Provides Snapshot of America

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Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

This article, anticipating the release of the 1940 census, includes quotes from NEHGS senior researcher Rhonda R. McClure and an NEHGS library patron.

The Daily Genealogist: The “A Hundred Years Ago” Blog

(A Note from the Editor) Permanent link
 
Lynn Betlock

Lynn Betlock
Editor

I’d like to share a blog called “A Hundred Years Ago,” written by Sheryl Lazerus. When Ms. Lazerus’s paternal grandmother, Helena (Muffly) Swartz, died in 1980, her children found a diary the teenage Helena had kept from January 1911 through December 1914. At the time Helena was writing, she was living in Northumberland County in central Pennsylvania, about a mile outside of McEwensville.

Ms. Lazerus made a copy of the diary and, she writes, it “laid in a paper bag in the bottom of my hutch for more than 20 years until I pulled it out in January 2010 and started reading.” Ms. Lazerus started her blog to showcase the entries from her grandmother’s diary, and she posts each entry exactly 100 years after it was written. The brief entries are followed by Ms. Lazerus’s commentary on the text and an in-depth examination of a related topic.

I particularly like the rich historical context that Ms. Lazerus added to help readers understand the world her grandmother experienced. Topics include “1912 Dresses That Could Be Made for One Dollar”; Longfellow’s Evangeline, which Helena read; discussion of Helena’s deportment grade; and “Average Height for Males and Females in 1912 and 2012.” The posts are organized into the following categories: the Central Pennsylvania towns of McEwensville, Milton, Turbotville, and Watsontown; crafts and sewing; education; family memories; farming and Grandma; food; friends; genealogy; health; holidays; other; rural life; and statistics.

Ms. Lazerus writes: “My memories of Grandma Helen were of a feeble, elderly woman — Helena (the name she used in the diary) was a fun-loving, self-absorbed teen. Helena wasn’t an Anne Frank — and most days she only wrote three or four lines. Some days she wrote that ‘nothing of importance’ had occurred. Yet as I tried to decipher the handwriting a fascinating young woman emerged, and I wanted to learn more about her and how she evolved into the grandmother I remember.”

I think “A Hundred Years Ago” provides a terrific model for making a primary source written by an ancestor relevant today. Ms. Lazerus has greatly enhanced the entries with her research and reflections, and made her grandmother’s diary much more meaningful for both herself and her readers.


The Daily Genealogist: Why the Huge Interest in the 1940 Cenus?

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

An historian on the history staff of the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to answer that question.

The Daily Genealogist: 1940 census usage

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Lynn Betlock

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Last week’s survey asked about your research plans regarding the 1940 census. The results are:

 

53%, I will do some searching in the National Archives images immediately, but do most of my research after the name indexes are released.
24%, I will wait to do my research until after the name indexes for the 1940 census are available online.
18%, I will immediately use the images provided by the National Archives - without an index - and will do most or all of my research soon after the release.
5%, I do not plan on using the 1940 census.

 

This week's survey asks about whether you’ve used the 1940 census since it was released on Monday. Take the survey now!


Spotlight: Southwestern Pennsylvania Resources

(Spotlight) Permanent link
 
Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Assistant Editor

Baltzer Meyer Historical Society, Greensburg, Pennsylvania

 

Greensburg is located in Westmoreland County. It is part of the Pittsburgh metro area. The Baltzer Meyer Historical Society is “a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and study of Old Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, with an emphasis on Southwestern Pennsylvania families.”

 

The Society has made an obituary index available on its website. The database currently contains nearly 27,000 records. It is a work in progress, with new records being added over time. It is an index to the Society's "storehouse" of obituaries of individuals who resided in or had connections to Westmoreland County. Click on the link to the index in the right-hand column of the text. This will open a new page with links that have been organized alphabetically by the first letter of the surname of the deceased. The data fields in the index are name, date of death, comments, and location code. The comments field lists the relevant materials the historical society has in its obituary holdings, which might include a “photograph, memorial card, news item, funeral notice, etc.” The location code indicates where the obituary can be found in the Society’s collections. You may order copies of obituaries from the Baltzer Meyer Historical Society for a small fee. Be sure to include all location codes associated with the deceased so that you receive all available copies of obituaries related to that individual.

 

Allegheny Cemetery, Pennsylvania

 

The Allegheny Cemetery is located in Pittsburgh, which is in southwestern Pennsylvania. The cemetery, established in 1844, is said to be one of the largest cemeteries in the country. It comprises 300 acres and has fifteen miles of paved roads. More than 130,000 individuals have been buried there.

 

There is a burials database on the cemetery website. Click on the Genealogy link in the menu bar at the top of the home page to begin your search. This will open the cemetery records search page. The database can be searched by first name and last name. The search results returned are full name, if known, date born, date died, burial plot location (section, lot, and grave numbers), and a link to a section map.

 

There are additional resources on the website. One is a database of notable individuals buried in Allegheny Cemetery. Click on the Notables link in the contents list on the left side of the webpage, which will open a new page where you can search or browse the list. In many cases, photographs of the deceased are included. For most, there is also information on why they are notable. There is also a database of burials of individuals who served in the military. Click on the Pictures link to browse through all photographs of individuals buried in the Allegheny Cemetery. This list contains the photographs and portraits of historical figures as well as individuals who died in the past two years. For those who died in 2011 and 2012, click on the Condolences and More Information link to read their obituaries.


New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA
888-296-3447

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