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Articles by Paul Rawlins

Jack Peterson—Patriot

Posted on February 8, 2013 in Ancestry.com Site

You’ve heard of Benedict Arnold, but what about Jack Peterson?     According to the October 9, 1859, Weekly Anglo-African, if Jack Peterson and Moses Sherwood hadn’t decided to take on a landing party from the British sloop of war Vulture by themselves, thereby frustrating Major Andre’s escape, Arnold might have given away West Point… Read more

William Christy—First Casualty

Posted on February 8, 2013 in Ancestry.com Site, Content

In June 1867, William Christy, a farmer from Pennsylvania, enlisted in the 10th Cavalry. The 10th was a black regiment whose men would soon be referred to as “buffalo soldiers” after they were sent to take part in the Indian Wars of the latter 19th century. Christy’s tenure with the unit was short. The 10th… Read more

John and Vada Sommerville—Civil Rights Dynamic Duo

Posted on February 1, 2013 in Ancestry.com Site

Born in Jamaica, John Somerville got his first taste of Jim Crowe-era discrimination the day he got off a ship in San Francisco in 1902 and couldn’t find a decent room or meal. He didn’t like it.   This Who’s Who bio explains how John and his wife, Vada, spent the rest of their lives… Read more

Who would name their daughter Halloween? Just check the records.

Posted on October 30, 2012 in Ancestry.com Site, Content

Who would name their daughter Halloween? According to the 1920 (and 1930) U.S. census, that would be John and Ollie Hildebrand of Freeborn Township, Missouri, for one — or two. In case you think maybe the enumerator got it wrong — twice — it’s right there on Halloween’s marriage license. Typed. Though as of 1940,… Read more

1940 U.S. Census: 50 States, 134 Million Names, 1 Index

Posted on August 3, 2012 in Ancestry.com Site

Today is all about numbers. The first is 100, as in 100 percent of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census is now indexed. That means all 50 states are available to search to your heart’s content. Our indexing came up with 134,395,545 people counted. Most reports on the 1940 census give the U.S. population as 132… Read more

Ernest Borgnine: Do They Make ’em Like That Anymore?

Posted on July 9, 2012 in Stories

Do they make ’em like that anymore? That’s what I found myself asking as I read Ernest Borgnine’s biography last year while digging into a batch of U.S. Navy muster rolls. Ernest Borgnine—still Ermes Effron Borgnino—wasn’t famous when he came to the United States from Italy with his mother in 1923 aboard the Dante Alighieri.… Read more

Ray Bradbury: A Legacy Remembered

Posted on June 7, 2012 in Stories

While I was glancing at headlines yesterday, I saw that Ray Bradbury passed away. I read “All of Summer in a Day” back in elementary school and have never forgotten it. I re-read Fahrenheit 451 a year or so ago and was startled by some of the details Bradbury included in his future world that… Read more

U.S. City Directories: One Database, a Billion Records, and a Lot of Answers

Posted on April 19, 2012 in Content

If you’re like me, the 1940 census was full of surprises—like my own parents not living where they were supposed to be living. Enter U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 (Beta). We’ve had city directories on the site for years. They can be a great source for names, addresses, and occupations. They’re printed more often than censuses.… Read more

New Kansas Collections: There’s No Place Like Home

Posted on November 18, 2011 in Content

If you have ties to the Sunflower State, count yourself lucky. We’ve had three Kansas collections go live on Ancestry.com recently: Kansas, Registration Affidavits of Alien Enemies, 1917–1918; Kansas, World War I Veteran Collection, 1917–1919; and Russell County, Kansas, Vitals and Newspaper Records, 1800-1937. Though they’re relatively specific, they contain some interesting records and are well… Read more

The 1930 Mexico Census and the Mexican Melting Pot

Posted on September 16, 2011 in Content

One thing I learned as we launched the 1930 Mexico Census online is that Mexico is much more of a melting pot than I realized. Mexico’s 1930 national census (“El Quinto Censo General de Población y Vivienda 1930, México”) is called the Fifth General Census of Housing and Population based on the first formally recognized… Read more

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