Weekly Planner: Check Out the Catalog of a Local University Library

Have you investigated the libraries of colleges or universities near you? While university or college library collections are not specifically geared towards genealogical research, they often contain books, periodicals, maps, newspapers, government publications, and other special collections that can be a goldmine for family historians. Even if your research is not based in that particular area, you will be surprised at the breadth of the materials available. Visit the library’s website and explore the catalog and any collection descriptions and research guides that are available. You may be surprised at how much you can find!

To Serve and Protect: Learning About the Police in Your Family Tree, by Juliana Smith

Police  Badge.jpgIt came in the form of a research/writing assignment for the July issue of Ancestry Magazine. The assignment was to learn about a local police department after a reader sent in a photograph of some policemen, with an inquiry as to where she could find more information about the police department. Since I’ve had some experience in this area researching my great-great-grandfather, who was a captain in the Brooklyn Police Department, I figured this was right up my alley.

What I found reminded of the incredible resources we can find at local repositories. Since there are probably quite a few of you out there with law enforcement officials in your family trees, this week, I thought I’d go beyond this one police department and explore some ways to learn more about the police in your family tree.

Investigate the Municipality
Your first step is to investigate the area in which your ancestor served. In this case, the photograph was labeled with the name of a village that had been annexed to the city of Philadelphia around the time that the individual became a police officer. So my searches focused on searching for historical information on the Philadelphia Police Department.

I lucked out there. I found a book called, “The Philadelphia Police, Past and Present,” by Howard O. Sprogle. Originally published in 1887, it was reprinted in 1971. I went to WorldCat and searched for philadelphia police. When I located the book and clicked on it, it came up with my zip code already entered from my last visit, and the first library it mentioned was a local university library ten minutes from my house. I hopped in the car with a print-out of the catalog entry and in no time at all, I was in a quiet corner browsing through the book. Continue reading

Stumped? Have You Checked for These Records? Minutes, by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG

Not hours, not seconds, but minutes. You may be asking yourself, “What on earth is she talking about this time?”

Does your genealogical society have a secretary who types the minutes of each board meeting? How about minutes resulting from meetings of school boards, unions, businesses, institutions, and organizations–what can they do for our family history research? The answer is simple: plenty.

Historic minutes may be stored in an office, courthouse, church office, archive, or historical society. They may be in original format, in bound volumes, on microfilm, and today, some are being digitized for online viewing. Someone may have indexed, abstracted, or transcribed older minutes and published or posted the material.

What are Minutes?
These are official recordings of what goes on at meetings. Some are quite detailed and include many names; others are not much more than a brief list of what transposed at the meeting. The more meaty ones are filled with genealogical gold. Over several years these provide a good snapshot of a community and the organization’s activities. In the U.S. today, if an organization has been granted non-profit status from the Internal Revenue Service or a state government, minutes are a requirement and those of both board and committee meetings must be retained.

What’s in Them for Genealogists?
Among the things that various types of minutes may yield are names of those in attendance, financial operation, debts, pledges, reports, names of church officials, names of people applying for aid, objections to government business, descriptions of farms or buildings and stores in town, road improvements, legal changes, election reports, hospital patient data, and even the weather! Both famous, average, and infamous people are mentioned. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Have Fun with Geography, from Juliana Smith

globe.jpgI have collected every historical map that I can get my hands on for the areas my ancestors hail from. I go to copy machines and make photocopies of sections and use the copies to do some plotting. When I’m having a hard time with a family, it’s good to really explore the area in which they lived. I plot ancestors’ homes, churches, ward boundaries, geographical hazards, and transportation that was available at the time. If I have the address of the ancestor’s place of business (from city directories), I plot that as well. By examining our ancestor’s surroundings, we can better understand how the events found in local histories and newspapers affected them.

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Your Quick Tips, 07 May 2007

Clipper Ship Three Brothers, Largest Sailing Ship in the WorldItalian Wives Listed as “Moglie”
For those who are researching their Italian ancestry, here’s a little something I recently discovered. On passenger manifests, many times a wife’s surname is written as “moglie.” The Italian word “moglie” means “wife” in English.
For example, my ancestor Ciriaco Fierrimonte and his wife, Maria, departed Naples for New York aboard the “Ems” in 1893. His name appears on the manifest as “Fierrimonte Ciriaco” and, on the line directly below, Maria’s name appears as “moglie Maria” [wife Maria]. Looking for Maria Fierrimonte, of course, came up with no results, but I knew she came to the U.S. in 1893 aboard the “Ems” and I found her when I looked for her husband, Ciriaco Fierrimonte. When I saw how she was listed, I decided to do a search on “moglie.” Wow! There certainly are a whole lot of moglies.
Also, in Italy the custom (although not adhered to so strenuously anymore) is that women retain their “maiden” surnames when they marry. Using the same example, Maria could have been listed just as easily as “Annecchiarico Maria” on the manifest. I have found some of my female ancestors by searching on their “maiden” surname rather than their husband’s surname. In fact, my own grandmother retained her maiden name when she married her first husband. When she married my granddad, she took his name. (I guess by that time she had become enough of an American to adopt that particular American custom.) Since the husband and wife often came to the U.S. at different times, it’s not unusual to find him alone on one passenger manifest and her and the children on a different manifest, so I search on every surname that seems reasonable, which now includes “moglie.”
Antonia Annecchiarico Continue reading

The Year Was 1840

Penny BlackThe year was 1840 and it was a big year for the mail. On January 10, the “Penny Black,” the world’s first postage stamp was introduced in the UK. This shifted the cost of mailing from the recipient to the sender of posts. This pre-paid system allowed for a lower rate and the number of letters jumped from 76 million in 1839 to 168 million in 1840, and further to 347 million ten years later.

In Canada, the Union Act of 1840 unites the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada and establishes the Province of Canada with one centralized government.

The United States was growing and in 1840 there were more than 4 million more people counted in the census than in 1830–an increase of 32.7 percent. There were 131 cities and towns that had more than 2,500 residents or more and only 10.8 percent of the population lived in these “urban” areas. The remaining 89.2 percent still lived in rural areas. Only four states claimed a population of more than one million: New York being the most populous with 2,428,921; Pennsylvania next with 1,724,033; then Ohio with 1,519,487; and Virginia rounding out the top four with 1,239,797.  Continue reading

Photo Corner

Curg William Harrison of Elizabethtown, Kentucky.Contributed by Lycurgus William Harrison, Alton, Indiana
This is a photograph of Curg William Harrison of Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Evelyn Conner and daughter, 1920s

 Contributed by Evelyn Andrews
This is a picture of my grandmother and my mother when she was about four in the 1920s. My grandmother was Evelyn Conner, married to Arthur Clyne Conner. Our family is looking for him.

Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) Hosts Annual Seminar, 1-3 June 2007

The Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) will be hosting the society’s annual seminar. This year’s theme, Ottawa, the Nation’s Capital for 150 Years – the Peopling of Canada, brings together the thirty Branches of OGS. Historians, and speakers, will share their expertise with the 600 expected registrants from across North America, members of genealogical and historical societies. There will be a marketplace of genealogical and historical materials with forty-five to fifty vendors, a computer room for registrants to ask questions and learn about computer-related genealogy products, on-line access to Ancestry.ca, and historical vignettes around the naming of the capital in 1857 performed by The Vintage Stock Theatre at the banquet.

The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation will be coming to Seminar 2007 to collect genealogical DNA sample. SMGF is a non-profit organization dedicated to building the world’s foremost collection of DNA and corresponding genealogical information. The Sorenson Database currently contains more than 60,000 DNA samples and family trees from men and women around the world. Adding your DNA sample and four-generation genealogy to the records in the Sorenson Database makes you a vital branch of the genetic family tree.

Where: Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada

When: June 1st to 3rd, 2007

Keynote Speaker: Victor Suthren

More information on Seminar 2007 is available at www.ogsseminar.org and on the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and their Project at www.smgf.org.