Tips from the Pros: In Memoriam

from Maureen Taylor

You know the expression about death and taxes, but did you know that leaving a paper trail is also one of life’s certainties? Disposable paper items known as ephemera often exist to trace a person’s life from birth (baby announcements) to death (memorial/funeral cards).

A memorial/funeral card announces the death of an individual, includes information on their lives and usually a prayer or quote. The content varies by time period. Today families often present mourners with these cards as remembrances, but in the past, relatives distributed them as funeral invitations. George Washington’s funeral at Mount Vernon was a public event but until the twentieth century they were private affairs attended by family and a few close friends. These cards are genealogical gems–evidence of a death and very collectible. Two websites make searching for these cards easier.

Ancestors at Rest
This website is a free online database of funeral and memorial cards.
This site has a searchable database of close to 20,000 funeral cards.

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Your Quick Tips, 23 October 2006

Periodicals in Local Libraries
Looking for an article that you found through PERSI? Go local. Recently I located two articles in periodicals that I wanted copies of. While there is an online form for ordering them from large genealogy libraries, it indicates that wait times are from six to eight weeks. The articles I wanted were in Chesapeake Cousins printed by the Upper Shore Genealogical Society of Maryland and the Dorchester Genealogical Magazine. I searched the Internet for a local library in Dorchester County and hit pay dirt. They had a genealogical room with a wonderful library associate who informed me that that they had the Dorchester County periodical but not the “Chesapeake Cousins.” She offered to check other facilities in the area to locate the Chesapeake Cousins article.

Within a week of making contact, the two articles arrived in my mailbox in Fayetteville, GA. I asked what the cost was for the articles and was told there was no charge. This scenario may not be the case with other libraries and longer articles, but the three pages I received were very valuable to me. I send many thanks to local libraries and their helpful library associates.

Susan Sloan
Fayetteville, GA

Brooklyn Public Library
I enjoyed reading your adventures with the Dyer name in Brooklyn. I too am from Brooklyn and live just outside the city limits now on Long Island. In some of my research trips back to the Brooklyn Public Library for microfilms of the “Eagle,” the desk librarians kept telling me that I must go upstairs to the local history room. I finally took their advice and had a wonderful trip down memory lane.

The librarian there asked me to write down my interests which I did. She came up with some really useful leads a few weeks later. If you have a chance to visit Brooklyn, be sure to go to the library and visit that room.

Virginia Wright D’Antonio

Family or Friend?
Recently, I was going through some boxes of old photos searching for one particular picture. I noticed many of those cards that are given out at funerals. My grandmother used to put those funeral cards in the family Bible. Most of them were from family members but a few were from family friends. Those funeral cards caused quit a stir when we tried to figure out who was a family member and who was just a friend.
I made the following note, “Not a relative–a family friend” on cards of those that I knew were friends. Now when my descendants find one of those cards many years from now, they will know who is and who is not a relative.

Lindy Brammer

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The Year Was 1820

1820 Map of the United States, from Historical Map CollectionThe year was 1820 and in the U.S. James Monroe was president. He would be re-elected later that year, winning 231 electoral votes, to James Quincy Adams one electoral vote.

The country was growing; the previous year, Missouri Territory had sought to become a state. With eleven free states and eleven slave states, the prospect drew heated debate. The Missouri Compromise was reached and as part of the agreement, Maine, previously part of Massachusetts would become the 23rd state on 15 March 1820, and Missouri would be admitted as a slave state (21 August 1821), thereby maintaining the balance. In addition a line was drawn through the Louisiana Territory which would make future states north of the line in that territory free states, and future states in the territory south of the line, slave states.

As evidenced by the need for a balance of free and slave states, abolition was already a hot-button issue. In New York, eighty-six free black emigrants set sail from New York City on the ship “Elizabeth” to Freetown in the British colony of Sierra Leone. The British had abolished the slave trade in 1807.

With the ascension of George IV to the British throne in 1820, the period known as the English Regency came to an end. During the period between 1811-1820 Prince George IV ruled as regent through his father’s period of mental illness. It was the romantic period of Byron, Shelley, and Jane Austen.

1820 was a time of unrest in Scotland. That year laborers struck and violence broke out in what is often referred to as the Radical War. An economic depression, crowded urban conditions, and soldiers returning from the Napoleonic wars to unemployment set the stage for demonstrations and turmoil that would last for several years.

For more insights into 1820, see the following websites:

Women in America, 1820-42
United States Free/Slave Soil Map, 1820

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Photo Corner: Sisters

Eileen (Eva) Gasworth Dlugus and Sylvia Gasworth Zuckerman, taken around 1920Contributed by Judy Paris, Floral Park New York
Two of my mother’s sisters, Eileen (Eva) Gasworth Dlugus and Sylvia Gasworth Zuckerman, taken around 1920. I never knew it existed until a few months ago. What makes this picture so special to me is that my Aunt Sylvia developed some sort of serious illness shortly after this photo was taken which left her humped over and somewhat deformed. This gives me a glimpse of the beautiful child she was before all that happened. She went on to become a lawyer, which was very rare for a woman at that time.
Irene Russmann and her twin sister Lorraine, taken ca. 1910

Contributed by Noreen Ott
Noreen’s mother Irene Russmann and her twin sister Lorraine, taken ca. 1910 in Chicago, Illinois.


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Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbols Blog

All Seeing Eye, courtesy of Joe BeineAs I was doing some exploring this week, I ran across an interesting blog. Created by Joe Beine, the posts explore some of the symbolism found on cemetery markers and the accompanying photos are beautiful. The blog is at

Joe maintains several other helpful sites, including:

Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records: A Genealogy Guide

Genealogy Records Sources on the Internet

Genealogy Roots Blog Press Release: Increase in User-Added Content

Elizabeth Dooner issued the following press release this week: 

For Family History Month: Gives Families a Way to Create a Lasting Family Legacy Online
Since End of July – 49.7 Million Names, 278,000 Family Trees, 119,500 Photos and 2.8 Million Family History Records Attached

PROVO, Utah, Oct. 17 /PRNewswire/ — To mark Family History Month,, the world’s largest family history website, today announced that the newly redesigned website has experienced a dramatic increase in user-generated content. By allowing users to upload and share rich personal family artifacts such as photos, journal entries, historical records and more, the company has reported the addition of 49.7 million names on 278,000 family trees, 119,500 photos and almost 3 million family history documents attached since the official launch of the revamped site in late July. Continue reading

Weekly Planner: Explore Technology

Are we getting the most from the technology we own? Have we taken the time to explore all of the features of our genealogy program, our online subscription, a PDA, or some other techno-gadget? Look online for manuals and help guides, and set aside an hour a day to explore all of the features and learn how to make them work for you.

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