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Spotlight: West Virginia Archives and History

(Spotlight) Permanent link
 
Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Visitor Services Representative

There are two searchable collections on the West Virginia Archives and History website. Links to these collections can be found on the lower half of the page under the Explore Archives and History heading. They are:

 

Births, Deaths, and Marriages
Click on the Births, Deaths, and Marriages (databases) link on the main page to open the vital records project database page. As noted in the article on the project, the West Virginia Vital Research Records Project is a collaborative project of West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU). The majority of the records that are eligible to be uploaded to the database have been; however more records are being added when possible. Births and deaths were first reported to the counties in Virginia/West Virginia in 1853. Marriages have been recorded in the counties since their inception.

 

Click on the link to the database (Birth, Death, or Marriage) you would like to explore to open the search page. Each of the databases can be searched by name, first and last. Searches can be limited to a specific county and/or year or range of years. Results include name, date of the event, county and a link to a page image in the records. Click on the name link to open a detailed record. For birth records, the data fields include name, date and place of birth, sex, parents' names and ages, and even maternal and paternal grandparents' names. For deaths, the data fields include name, sex, death date, death place, age at death, burial place and date, cemetery, funeral home, birth date and place, marital status, spouse’s name, occupation, address, residence, mother’s name and birth place, father’s name and birth place, and informant’s name. For marriage records the data fields include date and place or the marriage, bride’s and groom’s names, birth date, birth place, age at marriage, marital status prior to marriage, and parents' and grandparents' names. Click on the image link to view a digitized image of the record.

 

West Virginia Memory Project
Click on the West Virginia Memory Project (databases) link on the main page to open the memory project’s main page. There are a number of searchable databases in the West Virginia Memory Project collections. Among the collections are:

 

John Brown
In December 1999, the West Virginia State Archives placed online a database of materials pertaining to John Brown from the Boyd B. Stutler Collection. The papers of Mr. Stutler (1889–1970), a recognized authority on John Brown, were acquired by the State of West Virginia. The State Archives have digitized more than 20,000 pages of material from the Stutler Collection and linked them to fully searchable descriptive text. The database contains more than 100 original John Brown letters and manuscripts, family letters, and three books of business letters, as well as several hundred letters of Brown's associates and biographers. In addition, pictorial materials from the collection are available.

 

Militia
Click on the Militia link to access Civil War records from the State Adjutant General's Office of West Virginians who served in Union militia units. The records include muster cards, muster rolls, forms and requisitions, and correspondence. Click on the Finding Aid link to view the list of boxes in the collection and their contents. Click the folder numbers that are active links to view an image of that document. There are links to selected letters, which have been digitized, and to rosters for five counties (Calhoun County, Marshall County, Ohio County, Pleasants County, and Upshur County), which have been transcribed. You can search the database by first name, last name, and military unit. You can search for keywords and limit your search to a specific county.

 

Photos
The Photograph Collection includes more than 100,000 images on a variety of subjects in the West Virginia’s history. Currently, photographs from ten collections are available in the online database. They started the project with the Coal Life collection and the most recently uploaded collection is the Chester Webb collection, which contains more than 800 photographs of “Civilian Conservation Corps activities in and around Camp White in Pendleton County and views taken in the Huntington and Cabell County area.” You can search the database by keywords, location and people. Searches can be limited by collection and topic.

 

Click on the History Center link on the homepage to access other resources including online photographic exhibitions, audio / video presentations and resources on a number of different subjects, including a photo exhibit related to the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys.


This Week’s Survey: The Revolutionary War

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week’s survey asked about how you access Ancestry.com. 69% of respondents have a personal subscription to Ancestry.com. 12% have a personal subscription, but also access it at repositories. 11% access it only through repositories. 8% of respondents do not use Ancestry.com at all.

 

This week's survey asks about your ancestors' involvement in the Revolutionary War (or the War for American Independence for you Brits). Take the survey now.


Name Origins: Philathea

(Name Origins) Permanent link
 
Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto
Staff Genealogist

 PHILATHEA (f) (Greek-derived compound love of God): This Greek derived name ran in the family of Rev. Ebenezer Gould of Greenwich, N.J.; Middletown, Conn.; and Granville, Mass. A more common name with the same meaning is THEOPHILUS.

Spotlight: Campbell County Public Library Systems, Wyoming

(Spotlight) Permanent link
 
Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Visitor Services Representative

Campbell County is located in the northeastern corner of the state of Wyoming. The Campbell County Public Library has made a number of online genealogy resources available on its website.

 

Newspaper Indexes
The library has compiled online indexes to births, divorces, deaths, and marriages from various Campbell County newspapers including the Campbell County Record (CCR); Gillette News (GN); and Gillette News-Record (NR). The Gillette News-Record is also available online. Its archives start in December 2001. Copies of birth announcements, marriage announcements, and obituaries may be ordered from the library. For all of the newspaper indexes, use the dropdown box to choose the year or years through which you would like to browse.

 

Births Indexes
The births indexes cover the periods from 1905 through 1934 and 1987 through 2010. The index is sorted by last name. The data fields include the date of the newspaper, headline of the announcement, page number, subject, and the newspaper title’s abbreviation. The information in the subject field includes items such as the surname, gender of the child and the parents’ full names.

 

Divorces Indexes
The divorces indexes cover the periods from 1920 through 1922 and 1992 through 2010. The index is sorted by last name. The data fields include the date of the newspaper, headline of the announcement, page number, subject, and the newspaper title’s abbreviation. The information in the subject field always includes the full names of both parties.

 

Marriages Indexes
The marriages indexes cover the periods 1904 – 1905, 1913 – 1917, 1920 – 1925, 1928, and 1998 through 2010. The index is sorted by date. For years through 2004, the data fields include the date of the newspaper, headline of the announcement, illustration, page number, subject, and the newspaper title’s abbreviation. For the period from 2005 through 2010 some of the data fields have changed. They now include bride’s name and groom’s name fields. The information in the subject field includes the word marriage and a number of names, including those of the bride and groom.

 

Obituaries Index
Deaths are found in the obituaries indexes, which cover 1892 (one record), 1905 – 1909, and 1913 – 2010. The index is sorted by last name. The data fields include the date of the newspaper, headline of the announcement, illustration, page number, subject, date of death, date of birth, place of death, mortuary name, interment place, cremation, and the newspaper title’s abbreviation. The information in the subject field always includes the word obituary and the full name of the deceased and others mentioned in the obituary.

 

Local (Gillette) Cemetery Records
The cemetery records database on this web site is the Mt. Pisgah Cemetery in Gillette. It is a Burial Plot/Section Report by sorted alphabetically by the last name of the deceased. It provides the full name of the deceased, plot number, date of birth, date of burial (not date of death), age, sex, veteran status, and other plot information. The records, provided by the Campbell County Cemetery District, will be updated yearly. You will need free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this database.

 

Fox Funeral Home Records
The Fox Funeral Home opened in 1907. It was the first funeral home in Gillette. These records in this database are for the period from 1907-1947. Each entry in this index is taken directly from the digitized image of the funeral record. The data fields in the database include date, name of deceased, cause of death, notes, date of death, address, occupation of deceased, place of death, father, his birthplace, mother, her birthplace, body shipped to, single or married, religion, date of birth, CD number. The CD number corresponds to the image number, and researchers may request a copy of an image from the library using this number.

 

Rockpile Museum Biographical Records
The Campbell County Rockpile Museum has provided the library with these records. It is a collection of newspaper clippings, original documents, pictures, miscellaneous items and obituaries. The database is a work in progress. The alphabetical index reflects the contents of each biographical record.

 

Campbell County Marriage Index
The Campbell County Genealogical Society and the Campbell County Public Library reference staff have developed an index to marriage records available in the Campbell County Clerk’s office. You can use this index to identify volume and pages numbers to order marriage records from the Clerk’s office.

 

Local History Index
The Local History Index is an alphabetical subject database that comprises a range of topics from Campbell County and some nearby locations. The information contained in the index was gathered from local newspapers, magazines and brochures. Topics include businesses, organizations, industries, churches, cemeteries, hospitals, parks, people, government, law enforcement, post offices, school buildings, geological and historical landmarks, extreme weather, unusual events, serious crimes, significant fires, historical firsts, population statistics, building construction and demolition. Click on the link to view the index for the period from 1905 through 1969.


The Great Migration Newsletter

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

The Great Migration Study Project (TGMSP), which started in 1988, is a leading scholarly project in the field of genealogy today. For twenty-three years TGMSP has provided the definitive work on the earliest settlers of New England. To date, ten volumes have been published, covering the period from 1620 to 1635. Later this year, publication of the eagerly-awaited seventh volume of The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England 1634–1635 will complete the current series. In addition to the books, The Great Migration Newsletter (TGMN) is now in its twentieth volume.

 

People often ask the difference between the books and TGMN. The books provide biographical sketches with the most up-to-date scholarly information on of the immigrants. TGMN, however, is a slightly different animal. TGMN provides the context for your ancestors, and contains many discussions of the activities of TMGSP. Among the topics you will find in TGMN:

 

  • Information on the ships that carried the immigrants to the New World
  • Research methodology behind TGMSP
  • Reviews of published literature on the time period
  • Profiles of early settlements
  • Profiles of early ministers and churches
  • Editor’s Effusions, where Robert Charles Anderson discusses any number of topics

 

TGMN is a critical resource for anyone researching seventeenth-century New England ancestors. Reading TGMN will allow you to understand your ancestors with more context than just dates of birth, marriage, and death. And the resources discussed in its pages will often be helpful to those researching seventeenth-century ancestors who arrived after the Great Migration period.

 

The first fifteen volumes of TGMN have been compiled and published in a single volume by the Society, and is available for just $24.95 ($22.46 for NEHGS members). You can find out more information about The Great Migration Study Project and The Great Migration Newsletter at www.GreatMigration.org.


This Week's Survey: Ancestry.com

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week’s survey asked about your summer genealogy plans. 41% will be catching up on reading genealogical journals, magazines, and books. Just 14% plan to attend a conference, seminar, or other genealogical education event to build research skills. Complete results are:

  • 41%, I will be catching up on reading genelaogical journals, magazines, and books.
  • 35%, I will spend increased time research at local repositories, cemeteries, etc.
  • 33%, I will be travelling to locations at a distance where my ancestors lived.
  • 33%, I will visit cemeteries at a distance where my ancestors are buried.
  • 27%, I have no special plans for genealogical research this summer.
  • 27%, I will be travelling to visit repositories at a distance.
  • 14%, I will be attending conferences, seminars, and other genealogical educational events to build my research skills.

 


This week's survey asks about your use of Ancestry.com. Take the survey now!


Genealogical Writing: Foreign Words

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

When writing your family history, it is important to understand how to properly use foreign words. These will often crop up when writing about your immigrant ancestor who came from a non-English-speaking background.

 

Foreign words that are not commonly understood or familiar should be set off in italics. For example:

 

The official motto of the province of Quebec is Je Me Souviens.

 

Foreign words familiar to English speakers, such as uno or mis en scène are not italicized. If you use both familiar and unfamiliar terms in the same context, you should either italicize both or keep both in Roman type for consistency. Proper nouns, such as person names or place names, are not italicized.

 

When using foreign words or phrases, a translation that follows should be set off in parentheses or quotation marks. For example:

 

Church records show that my great-great-grandfather was a cordonnier (shoemaker).

 

The importance of the proper use of diacritical marks in spelling foreign words cannot be overstated. Imagine what would happen if instead of describing your ancestor as a pêcheur (fisherman), you accidentally call him a pécheur (sinner)!

 

For more information about properly using foreign words, see The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition.


This Week's Survey: Summer Genealogical Plans

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week’s survey asked about Mayflower ancestry. 50% of respondents had proven Mayflower lineages. 38% had no known Mayflower ancestry, while 12% have family stories of Mayflower ancestries but have not yet found or proven the lines.

This week's survey asks about your genealogical plans for this summer. Take the survey now!


Name Origins: Patty

(Name Origins) Permanent link
 
Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto
Staff Genealogist

 PATTY (f): In colonial times this female name is almost always a nickname for MARTHA, the very few exceptions being (perhaps) a handful of Patiences. The forms MATTY and PATTY derive from MARTHA by the same linguistic processes that form MOLLY/POLLY from MARY and MAGGIE/MEG/PEGGY from Margaret. PATRICIA, the female form of the Roman family name that also produced the male PATRICK, was not used in this country until late in the nineteenth century.

The New Cyndi's List

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Have you check out Cyndi’s List lately? And by lately, I mean since yesterday? The venerable Ms. Howells has spent a considerable amount of time designing a brand new website from the ground up. Cyndi worked with fusionSpan of Maryland to make improvements and implement new technology into the website.

 

The new homepage i well organized and easy to read. It has a rolling genealogy news feed, and a link to The Cyndi’s List Daily, a Twitter feed, and Facebook links. The Categories page is very easy to maneuver; finding subjects is a breeze. Category pages now have sub-categories that display 20 links (with the ability to page forward and back through the pages).

 

The What’s New section allows users to browse through new and updated links by the date they were created or updated. The new database on which the website is designed will make it much easier for Cyndi to create and update links. Indeed, she hopes to be able to review, approve, and categorize new links within 24 to 72 hours of submission.

 

Cyndi’s List has been a go-to website for genealogists for years. Serious researchers always check her pages to find information to help with research problems. What is truly amazing to me is that with all the effort she puts into the site, she still leaves it available to everyone for free on the internet. If you find it helpful, consider making a donation to help support Cyndi’s efforts to keep the website free and available to everyone. There is a convenient link in the navigation bar that can be accessed from any page in the site.

 

Check out the new Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet today!


This Week's Survey: Mayflower Ancestry

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

 Last week’s survey about the British Isles revealed some interesting statistics. 89% of respondents had pre-1850 immigrants from England. The lowest percentage, 6%, were those with post-1860 immigrants from Wales. Complete results are:
  • Pre-1850 immigrants from England, 89%
  • Pre-1850 immigrants from Scotland, 55%
  • Pre-1850 immigrants from what is today the Republic of Ireland, 33%
  • Post-1850 immigrants from England, 32%
  • Pre-1850 immigrants from Wales, 31%
  • Pre-1850 immigrants from what is today Northern Ireland, 31%
  • Pre-1850 immigrants from Ireland, but I don’t know which part, 28%
  • Post-1850 immigrants from what is today the Republic of Ireland
  • Post-1850 immigrants from Scotland, 15%
  • Post-1850 immigrants from what is today Northern Irleand, 11%
  • Post-1860 immigrants from Ireland, but I don’t know which part, 9%
  • Post-1850 immigrants from Wales, 6%

This week's survey asks about whether or not you have ancestors on the Mayflower. Take the survey now!


Trilogy of Clerk Tales Offers Good Lessons

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

 Sharon Tate Moody’s genealogy column in the Tampa Bay Tribune is always a good read. This week she has an important reminder about working with government clerks in understaffed and overworked offices.

Bursting A Bubble

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

I burst another bubble yesterday. In speaking with a television producer about a segment on genealogy, I mentioned the biggest myth in American history — that anyone ever had their name changed at Ellis Island. Despite the numerous families with this tradition passed down, there is not a single documented occurrence of this ever happening. She was quite surprised to hear this.

 

I’m certain that a number of people reading this are even now thinking “That may be true, but in the case of MY family it really did happen!” I’m sorry to disappoint you, but such is not the case. And this makes complete sense. Think of your ancestor, most of them poor or working class. They have left the only home they have ever known for better opportunities in America. They did not make this decision lightly. In most cases they had no desire to return. Indeed, many of them were quite terrified of being forced back to their homeland. Imagine the fate of a Russian Jew trying to escape the pogroms at the turn of the century, making it to the shores of the new world only to be forced to return to Russia. If you were that immigrant, would you do anything that might jeopardize your ability to stay in America?

 

Have you ever taken a cruise? Try getting off the ship using a different name than the one with which you boarded. I don’t think you would make it past the security gate, let alone off the ship and onto shore. You showed your papers when you got on board, and showed the same papers when you disembarked.

The tradition in many families is that they arrived and nobody at Ellis Island spoke their language. This is hogwash. The staff of Ellis Island spoke languages from around the world. They processed up to 11,000 immigrants per day. Many of these staff were themselves immigrants or the children of immigrants who spoke their parents’ native tongue. Together with hundreds of interpreters hired to work with them, communication was not an issue. (Well, no worse than communicating with any other bureaucrat, I’m certain.)

 

Some immigrants changed their name prior to arriving in the United States. A friend of mine’s great-grandfather was a Russian Jew, probably escaping the pogroms at the turn of the century. He did not come directly to America, but went first to England for a time. Between the time left Russia and the time he boarded the ship in England, bound for Ellis Island, he changed his name from Moishe Cohen to William Smith. The point is, he got on the ship as William Smith and left the ship as William Smith. The name change did not occur during passage.

 

More common is that the immigrants changed their name once they had arrived in America. Many were trying to settle in and feel more “American.” Some may have been trying to escape the ethnic prejudice rampant in America. Others may just have tired of spelling their Eastern European names to Americans.

 

Indeed, spelling is, I believe, the crux of the issue for many. Remember that at this time of massive immigration, literacy was not very prevalent. People were more concerned with putting food on the table, clothes on their backs, and a roof over their heads, than with how to properly spell their name or any other word. Standardized spelling of names is a twentieth-century concept that came with greater education of the public. This is why we find so many spelling variations in names. It wasn’t that people didn’t know how to spell their name, it was that there was no “proper” way to spell a name, and for the most part they didn’t care.

 

After a time, the family’s name would change from the original and that would be that. It wasn’t a big issue. In my own family, the spelling of my surname varies among the descendants of my great-great-grandfather. Variations include Leclair, Le Clair, LeClair, Leclerc, LeClerc, and Le Clerc. Which one is the “correct” spelling, and who am I to tell another family member that their spelling is not the "correct" version?

 

Despite all that has been written to dispel the myth (try Googling “myth of name changed at Ellis Island”), it continues to be handed down in some families. I feel bad for people who are more connected to their family myths than learning the truth. And the truth is usually there to be found if one examines the records closely.


This Week's Survey: The British Isles

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week’s survey asked about the military service of our readers. 74% have never served in the military. None of the respondents currently serve in the U.S. Marines, the Army National Guard, or Air National Guard. The remainder is as follows:

  • 11%, U.S. Army Veteran
  • 7%, U.S. Navy Veteran
  • 5%, U.S. Air Force Veteran
  • 1%, U.S. Marine Veteran
  • 1%, U.S. Army National Guard Veteran

 

Less than 1% each are in the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, or veterans of the U.S. Air National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Merchant Marine. Interestingly, 2 respondents are currently in the military service or a country other than the United States and 12 are veterans of the military of a country other than the U.S.

 

This week's survey asks about your research interests in the British Isles. Take the survey now!


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