The Year Was 1955

Loretto Szucs and Mary ElizabethThe year was 1955 and it was the year of “the shot felt ‘round the world.” Following the epidemic years of the 1940s and early 1950s, parents breathed a sigh of relief in April when Jonas Salk announced the successful trials of his new polio vaccine and a vaccination campaign is started.

The Civil Rights movement also gets a shot in the arm when Rosa Parks, a forty-two year-old seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. Her refusal sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Backed by church leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who organized the boycott, Rosa Parks’ simple act of defiance led to the Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public transportation was unconstitutional. Continue reading

Photo Corner: Alexander Healy and Jenny G. Levanseller

Alexander Healy, born 1822, Port Lorne, Nova Scotia, Canada

 Contributed by Elliott Healy, Dublin, CA
Elliott’s great-great-grandfather, Alexander Healy. He was born in 1822 in Port Lorne, Nova Scotia, Canada, of Scottish descent. He married Hannah Ricketson of Clarence, Nova Scotia.

Jenny G. Levanseller, 1894 Click on the images to enlarge them

Contributed by Bruce MacDonald, Hanover, PA
Jenny G. Levanseller, who later married Everard Alton Bryant. The photo was taken in 1894 when she was only nine months old, living in Waldo Co., Maine. She would live to be more than 100 years old. Born 6 January 1894, died 3 August 1994.

Online Indexes from Monroe County (New York) Library System

The Monroe County Library System (serving the Rochester and Monroe County, New York area) is pleased to announce a new web site at:

Family historians will be particularly interested in the link to the local history department and most importantly, a series of indexes including over 130,000 names, in addition to the 800,000 that are included in the Life Records project of the Rochester Public Library (birth, death, and marriage indexes from City of Rochester newspapers).

These indexes are free to look at, and we may be contacted through the ask-a librarian page or for Life Records, through that page.

Thanks to Larry Naukum for sharing this information. I was able to locate my ancestor Thomas Tobin in the Rochester City Directories online in the local history department, and I’m looking forward to exploring these collections more in the coming weeks!

Genealogical Cozies, by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

Megan's websiteBack in May, I wrote about a genealogical mystery I had read.  I hadn’t even realized that this genre was out there, so I committed myself to finding and devouring more such books.  Now it’s time to report back on a couple.  But first, I’d like to take a brief detour for a definition.

What’s a Cozy?
Once again, I find it necessary to confess my ignorance.  Until I went on this recent reading binge, I didn’t know what a cozy was.  But time and time again, as I read reviews, I kept seeing the word “cozy.”  On the off-chance that some of you might share this same knowledge gap, I thought it might be helpful to explain.

According to mystery-writer Stephen D. Rogers, “A cozy is a mystery which includes a bloodless crime and contains very little violence, sex, or coarse language.  By the end of the story, the criminal is punished and order is restored to the community.”

Ah, OK.  Well, that certainly fits.  If you venture into the world of genealogical mysteries, you’ll find that they’re almost all cozies — pleasant reads that you can absorb in one couch-lounging session.  Of course, I can’t promise that the genealogist in you won’t be frustrated by the detective’s choice of tactic (thoughts such as, “Don’t waste your time doing that — the answer you need is in the cemetery!” frequently crossed my mind), but overall, these are relaxing escapes. Continue reading

Newsletter Format Problems

My apologies to all of you who received garbled and illegible newsletters yesterday. For an as of yet undetermined reason, many AOL and Comcast users received a corrupt version this week. We have our experts working to diagnose the problem and I want to thank everyone who wrote in and helped us as far as diagnosing the problem. 

We’re very hopeful that the problem will be resolved before next week’s newsletter and in the meantime, you can read this week’s newsletter in the Library or here on the blog.

Enjoy your day!


Weekly Planner: Record a Memory

After reminiscing with my sisters over the holiday weekend, several memories of the “old days” came up. Maybe you had a similar experience. This week, take a few minutes to record the memory of a person, place, or event that is special to you. Create a file and do this often. You’ll be helping to preserve an important part of your family history. Don’t you wish your ancestors had done the same?

Click here for a printer friendly version.

Using 1841 and the First British Nominal Census

Tower Bridge, London, England (photo courtesy of Robert Szucs)by Sherry Irvine

There has been a spike in activity within the UK data at Ancestry, and the reason is the arrival of 1841 census data. The excitement is understandable; the set of census returns for England and Wales, 1841 to 1901, is complete. Genealogists should be excited for other reasons too, and I will tell you more about why in this article.

Why 1841 is Important
In England, Wales, the Isle of Man, Channel Islands, and Scotland, a nominal census was enumerated in 1841. This was not the first census of mainland Britain and the surrounding small islands, but it was the first that directed enumerators to list every name and record personal details.

It was a remarkable undertaking for its day. The census of 1841 differed in three ways from its predecessors (1801 through 1831):

  • It was taken all at once in the shortest possible time.
  • An account had to be made of each and every individual.
  • The full returns, rather than statistical summaries, were sent to the General Register Office for analysis. Continue reading