Your Quick Tips

CDs.jpgPreserving Audio
If you have interviews with your relatives on cassette tape, be aware that the tape will start to deteriorate over the years and may not be playable later on. Tapes will also break or stretch so the sound will be distorted. (Will a cassette player be available to use in ten to fifteen years?) Transfer those tapes to a CD as soon as you can. The shelf life of a CD is much longer than that of an audio tape. The same is true of VHS/Beta tapes. They should be transferred ASAP to a DVD.
If you do not have the equipment or ability to do so, perhaps a relative or friend could help. As a last resort, there are businesses that will do this service for a price. There are ads on TV all the time for transferring your video and audio tapes to a better storage medium.
My husband is currently in the process of transferring our VHS tapes of family reunions and holidays to DVD and it’s sad to see how those tapes have deteriorated in just a few short years. One reunion tape we had from 1984 was almost unwatchable.
So transfer those old family movies (8mm or Super-8), VHS, Beta, audio tapes, etc. as soon as possible to prevent loss. Keep the memories alive.

Lindy Continue reading

The Year Was 1880

The year was 1880 and it was known as “The Gilded Age”–a post-Civil War era of industrialization and economic growth. Railroads continued to grow and the oil industry was still young. Methods for refining oil to produce kerosene helped drop the price of the fuel. Kerosene was used in lamps to light homes, and oil was used as a lubricant for machinery, important in this age of industrialization. John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company controlled 90 percent of the oil market in 1880 and his control over all aspects of extraction, production, and transportation of the product was the start of an era of “trusts.”

The rise of oil weakened the whaling industry. Prior to the use of kerosene, whale oil had been used in lamps, but it was expensive because of a shortage due to overfishing. With the price of kerosene dropping, the need for whale oil for fuel was all but eliminated.

In 1880, the town of Wabash, Indiana, found a new way to light its streets when it had the first electric streetlight installed. Another first for electricity also occurred in 1880 as Thomas Edison developed the first electric railway in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

Temperance reformers made progress in 1880 with the passing of legislation in Kansas prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcohol except for medicinal purposes (a loophole which was widely used).

In Canada, women scored a victory when Dr. Emily Stowe became the first woman to be given a license to practice medicine in Canada.

Britain was involved in several conflicts in 1880. While the Battle of Kabul signaled the end of the second Anglo-Afghan War on 1 September, December marked the beginning of the first Boer War, pitting the British against the Boers, or “Afrikaners.”

The U.S. saw several natural disasters in 1880. On 12 October, a hurricane struck Brownsville, Texas, causing extensive damage and taking numerous lives.

In Missouri, disaster came in the form of a tornado outbreak that killed 152 people in southwestern and central parts of the state. Particularly hard hit was the town of Marshfield in Webster County.

The winter that year is noted for the “Blizzard of 1880.” The snows began in October and continued throughout the winter. Laura Ingalls Wilder made the storms the subject of her book, “The Long Winter.” 

Photo Corner: Ancestral First Responders

Fridolin Schmitt, Firefighter Captain of Engine 13 in Milwaukee, WI during the 1890s

Contributed by Bobbi Broeniman, Lannon, WI
Bobbi’s great-granduncle, Fridolin Schmitt who came to this country from Baden, Germany in 1852 when he was five years old. He was a Firefighter Captain of Engine 13 in Milwaukee, WI during the 1890s.


 Edwin Brough Dyer, police captain in Brooklyn, N.Y., Twelfth PrecinctClick on the image to enlarge it.

Contributed by Loretto D. Szucs
Lou’s great-grandfather, Edwin Brough Dyer. Edwin was a police captain in Brooklyn, N.Y., Twelfth Precinct. He was born 19 September 1837 in New York City, and died 28 February 1898 at his home on McDonough Street.

Maritime History of the Great Lakes Online

Once again, as I was working on next week’s The Year Was . . ., I ran across a neat site to share. Maritime History of the Great Lakes ( includes images, newspaper transciptions, ships lists, shipwrecks, historical documents, and articles, as well as a great collection of links to other related sites.

Be sure to check out the What’s New section that contains links to online versions of a number of historical books. One that caught my eye was an online version of History of the Great Lakes, Volume I, by J. B. Mansfield, ed. (J. H. Beers & Co., 1899). Topics covered include “Beginnings of Lake Commerce,” “War of 1812,” “Lake Canals,” “Harbors,” “Lighthouses,” and chapters of the traffic of lumber, grain, coal, iron ore and industries. It also includes a decade by decade chronology covering the years 1821-98 that feature wrecks, storms, explosions, and other events, as well as a list of lake vessels. It can be found online at:

For those with links to, or any interest in the Great Lakes, this site contains a wealth of information.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Annie Moore Has Been Found!

Ellis IslandBack in July, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak announced that she was offering a $1,000 reward for anyone who could determine what happened to the real Annie Moore of Ellis Island fame.  Well, with the help of a group of genealogists from across the country, the case has been cracked and Megan will be joined by descendants of Annie and her brother Philip, and Brian Andersson, Commissioner, NYC Department of Records, to award the prizes on September 15 at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Socety. You can read the entire press release on Megan’s blog.

Quote for Today

Lobelia-Geranium.jpg“To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it more fit for its prime function of looking forward.”
~ Margaret Fairless Barber

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Weekly Planner: Celebrate Your “Occupational Family History”

In honor of Labor Day, take a look at some of the occupations of your ancestors and learn more about the impact your ancestors’ work might have had on their lives. Learn more about how to do this by reading Celebrate Ancestral Occupations, by Paula Stuart-Warren.

And don’t forget to make a record of more contemporary occupations too. Start with your own. Future generations will want to know more about the jobs you’ve held too!

Click here for a printer friendly version of this article.

Using Exploring 301 New Databases

by Juliana Smith 

On August 24, Ancestry added 301 databases to its online collection for U.S. and World Deluxe members; this release adds a wide variety of books to search and/or browse online. As I browsed through the list, several caught my eye and since it’s such a huge collection to absorb, I thought this week, we’d spotlight some of the resources that are now available.

Runaway Servants, Convicts, and Apprentices
According to the introduction,

“Many contract workers were employed in eighteenth-century America. Most were immigrants who entered contracts to pay for their passage across the Atlantic. Some were British convicts transported to America and obligated to work like other contract laborers for a fixed term as a penalty for their crimes. A final group of contract workers were not newly arrived immigrants. Either they had arrived some time before entering their labor contract or were American-born. This last group entered labor contracts to gain training as apprentices, to acquire some initial payment as hired workers, or to work off jail fees.”

Continue reading

Lessons from Another Trip Down Under

by Sherry Irvine, CG, FSA (Scot) 

Some of you may remember that I have been to New Zealand and Australia several times, usually wearing two hats–my genealogy hat and my tourist hat. I was back again in May and June, figuratively wearing two hats again, but I actually bought one as well; it is essential protection from the sun in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Whenever and wherever I travel there is something to learn that relates directly or indirectly to genealogy; this trip was no exception and I came home with three important reminders. Continue reading