Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Military Conflicts, War and Genealogical Research

At yesterday’s Manatee Genealogical Society meeting we were fortunate to hear one of Lee County Library’s Reference Librarian and avid genealogist, Bryan Mulcahy’s presentations. The link will take you to the society’s web page. Bryan’s presentation is there in PDF form, click on his March 3, 2015 presentation.  It is in several parts.

Bryan totally believes in NOT recreating the wheel. In that vein he has developed 120 study guides that he will email to you upon request. He is also open to any and all questions regarding genealogy research. He says he specializes in “silly” questions – don’t be afraid to ask.

His handout was a two and a half page listing of wars in America from 1565 through 1975. Another page and a half was a bibliography list of military resources.

Some notes of interest:
Don’t start with military research.  When you have a pretty good research foundation, military research can fill in important information;
Military service was a fast tract to citizenship;
Utilize Regimental histories. When trying to find a regiment, check a 50-100 mile radius from your ancestor’s home;
County histories. Often veterans registered with the county in order to qualify for special programs.  In some states/counties, this was mandatory. In others, voluntary;
Veterans sometimes stored documents behind old pictures.  When cleaning out a deceased relative’s house, take the frames off those old photos. You may be surprised at what you find;
Check with Veterans’ organizations to see what information they might have;
Read carbon paper.  When cleaning out, if you find a box of used carbon paper, hold it up to the light. You might find a resume, or important letters imprinted into the carbon. There is technology today that can translate;
Read the back of tombstones. Sometimes there will be a mini-biography located there;
National Archives at St. Louis fire 12 July 1973.  Indeed a tragedy.   But, some military personnel records can be reconstructed.  Some military personnel resubmitted their information. So, if the NPRC responds the records were destroyed, if you go there and search, you might find that your ancestor’s records were not.  The NPRC has very strict guidelines about who they release personnel information to.
Using the G word.  In doing library research you might have better luck asking for the societal history and statistics section rather than the genealogy section.  Not all libraries have the benefit of a dedicated genealogy research librarian like Bryan Mulcahy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

History Channel – Take a lesson from Genealogists

A recent frustrating experience trying to access a History Channel episode of Brad Meltzer’s Lost History prompted this blog post.  The episode in question aired December 26, and one of the stories featured a someone we know.

This interesting show is not available for viewing online. They locked the episodes, and now they are no longer available.  Oh, wait, they were available! All you had to do was jump through a number of hoops. Download their app – done.  Pick cable provider from their list – done.  If you made it through those hurdles, then they wanted your cable provider username and password.  You’ve GOT to be kidding!!!  

Take note: The mission of the genealogy organizations we belong to is to share information, assist fellow genealogists in any way possible.  Make information easily available.

The History Channel gets an F. I hope they change their procedures to better serve their audience.

In the meantime, I sent an email to Brad Meltzer sharing my frustration that his programs are not easily viewed.  I thank him and you for letting me vent!

My next post will be more in line with genealogy research. This morning we attended a lecture by Fort Myers Regional Library Reference Librarian, Bryan L. Mulcahy. Now there is someone who understands sharing!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Winter 2015 is going to be one to remember. Even in Florida, the temperatures are below normal with wind making it feel even colder. But no one is complaining!  When I docent at the Anna Maria Historical Society, I mention the weather, and the response always is, “It’s not as cold as back home.” 

I enjoy sharing information with visitors on the early history of the island.  I tell them how in the mid-1800s George Emerson Bean came from Eastern Connecticut to the Tampa Bay region, and then by boat across the bay to this seven mile island.  Mr. Bean received a 160 acre land grant, so he brought his family to the island in 1893 as the first settlers. He lived only another four years, so his son carried on with the development of the Island. He hooked up with Charles Roser who came to the island in the early 1900s with the million dollars he was paid for his Fig Newton recipe.

The famous Anna Maria City Pier, built in 1911, brought day trippers from Tampa to the Island for a day at the beach.

A bridge from the mainland was built in early 1920s, bringing more people, businesses, and then residents.

I tell people that as a child riding with my parents we would drive by Spring Lake located in the middle of the island and how I wondered how that could be.  Now houses and mangroves crowd around the lake, so visitors have no idea it is there.

Visitors are interested to learn there was a small airport on the island, built to bring in the Hollywood actors (including Peter Lawford and Esther Williams) and film crews to make the film, On An Island With You.

What brings the men in is the historical society’s exhibit on the Boys of Summer.  A number of baseball players from various teams had small homes on the Island.  My family’s snowbird duplex was located across the road from the family of Cincinnati Reds’ manager Fred Hutchinson. 

The historical society has interns working on archiving their collection. There are renovation plans in the works so that more of the collection can be exhibited. In the meantime, the collection is being put online for easy access.

The AMIHS board and docents are to be commended for their hard work in keeping the history of this island available.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Archived Newspapers – Part II

Drew Smith, in his presentation to the Manatee Genealogical Society, shared key newspaper date information, free online sites as well as a couple of paid sites.

Key dates.  The earliest American newspaper published was in 1690, with the first daily in 1784. The most important date to remember is 1922, which is the latest date where newspaper articles are in the public domain. First “born digital” date is 1970s, with some not digitized until 1990s.  That means earlier issues have been digitized using OCR. OCR accuracy is about 70% correct.  This impacts spelling of names. Beware.

Blame Mickey Mouse.  According to Mr. Smith, the reason later newspaper articles are not in the public domain is because Disney and other Hollywood movie producers have provided incentive to congress so that copyrights to movies are not lost.  To me, it seems like common sense could be applied.  Movie companies, publishers, etc. could request to be grandfathered in for certain productions/products, and then the date for public domain use could be pushed further into the future.

Chronicling America, the Library of Congress is a great resource.  The site lists over 150,000 titles and identifies those that are digitized.  Remember the 1922 date. 

Newspapers changed name with mergers, sometimes combining the names so subscribers are not lost.  Keep an eye out for combinations.  Not all issues are available.  Learn how to use the site before jumping in.

Google Newspaper Archive has papers from 1700s-2009. You can also search Google by putting variation of Site: [your search term/s] Can even search year range using this option. Don’t have to remember the 1922 date for Google, guess they are big enough they aren’t worried!

Fulton History is one of our personal favorites, though Mr. Smith feels this site is a little “weird” to use.  He prefers to access Fulton History through Google using Site: [your search term]  As mentioned in previous posts, Fulton History is a one-man show that has digitized as of this date (2/4/2015) 29,140,000 newspaper articles from the U.S. and Canada, at a fraction of the cost of the Library of Congress!  Fulton History began as the go-to site for Upstate New York ancestor research, but soon papers from the New York City/Hudson Valley area were available.  He has expanded to other states and Canada.

Paid Sites: Genealogy Bank (personal subscription $19.95/month-$69.95/annual) Over 7,000 titles 1690-present.  (OCR)

ProQuest Historical Newspapers can be accessed through local library subscription. This stie has major U.S. cities, African-American papers and Jewish newspapers. (OCR)

Beware of (personal subscription $72). Mr. Smith has heard some complaints about this site.  (OCR)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Searching Archived Newspapers

“Front Page News (and Beyond): Finding Archived Newspapers” was the topic presented by Drew Smith at today’s Manatee Genealogical Society Meeting. 

Most genealogists are aware of the value provided by historical newspapers.  Obituaries come first to mind, but historical newspapers have so much more.  Birth and marriage announcements were in print long before vital records were mandated.

The “Facebook of their time” was how Mr. Smith described historical newspapers.  Social columns, business news, political, religious, school and organizational news, crimes, and lawsuits were written about. People learned what was happening in the community from their newspapers. During the 1800s some rural newspapers listed the names of people who had mail waiting at the post office.

Even ads can provide substance to your family history.  Take time to peruse them to learn about the latest fashion, merchandise, and how much items cost.

Be mindful of your ancestors’ geographic location. If they lived near a state or county line, their news might appear in a paper of the other county or state.

Drew Smith’s presentation was chock full of information. In a future post I will share more of what I learned today. 

I wish every speaker was as concise, knowledgeable and entertaining as Drew Smith.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Today in Willow Creek History – 21 January 1944

Photo from National Archives

On 21 January 1944 Jessie Tucker Agard writes in her journal that her husband Arthur Agard and Willow Creek neighbor Paul Vann have gone to John Rice’s to the 4th War Loan drive. That drive was probably in Trumansburg. 

“During World War II, the U.S. Treasury conducted “War Loan Drives”, set periods of time during which an onslaught of entertainers, radio programs, posters, newspaper ads, articles, magazines, and short films urged Americans to purchase as many war bonds as possible to help fund the war effort. And the money was needed---on November 19, 1944 President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that the war was costing the United States $250,000,000 a day. There would ultimately wind up being eight numbered War Loan Drives during the duration of World War II, with the eighth and final one being dubbed the “Victory Loan Drive”. Similar War Loan Drives had been conducted during the first World War---but whereas the propaganda for those campaigns relied largely on posters and newspapers, during World War II a coalition of actors, comedians and singers would help lead the way.” [Jack Benny in the 1940s]

On the home front two days prior, Arthur and Jessie’s son-in-law, Louis Tamburino traveled to Utica, NY for his physical test. He passed and is now officially in the Navy.  Six days later he is in Sampson, NY for naval training.  

The Village of Trumansburg did its part for the war effort. According to A History of Trumansburg by Lydia Sears, the town of Ulysses surveyed available rooms to house evacuees of bombed metropolitan areas. The silk mill was used by the defense industry, emergency mass feeding plans were put in place, and collections of scrap metal, rubber, silk stockings, tin, copper, rags and paper were encouraged.  Food and gas rationing was in place.

Just north of Trumansburg the Seneca Naval Station, later called Sampson was constructed employing 17,583 people. The majority of those required housing. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Today in Willow Creek History – 11 January 1944

On 11 January 1944 Jessie Tucker Agard documents:  Had macaroni and cheese; trying to observe meatless Tuesday. Her husband, Arthur and son Bill went to Trumansburg to a meeting at the school. Farm accounts.  FDR spoke at 9 to 9:30. Very good. Spoke against strikes. Said the whole problem could be summed up in one word, “Security” – solution for problem.

The next day Jessie made applesauce and noted she had to be careful about the amount of sugar used. In the afternoon she went to the Red Cross with seven other women from Willow Creek to make surgical dressings.  She was proud to have made 127 surgical dressings that day.  Her neighbor, Ruth Vann loaned Jessie a library book, All that Glitters. In return, Jessie loaned two of her Agatha Christie books.