Saturday, May 31, 2008

Civil War medicine, if you can take it

The Springfield-based weekly Illinois Times has a brace of articles on Civil War medicine by Tara McClellan McAndrew: an extended notice of Glenna Schroeder-Lein's new Encyclopedia of Civil War Medicine (211 short articles in 419 pages, $95), and an account of how medicine was practiced at Springfield's training-ground-cum-prison Camp Butler. For the second story she used some archival material from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, as the camp's records were destroyed in an 1865 fire. Lein is manuscripts librarian at ALPL, and describes herself as someone who "feel faint at the sight of blood," but who wished she'd had a comprehensive medical resource like the encyclopedia when she was writing her dissertation. I think this is likely to be either a must-have or a reason for frequent library visits for those of us with Civil War research targets.

Book budget maxed out? WorldCat shows it in 46 libraries so far...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Buffalo County, Wisconsin

The New England Historic and Genealogical Society's e-news highlights the Buffalo County Historical Society, whose online resources are strong on cemeteries and obituaries. Careful researchers will need to go beyond these. Here's one person buried in Cascade Cemetery:

Benjamin, Arthur, b: 1887, d:1963, Grey stone. He farmed in Cascade Valley.
Married to Cecil Best. They had 2 sons. He had many town offices, was one
of the founders of Nelson Telephone Coop, and sold Insurance. Moved to
Durand died there at home.
This is great, but it's not as great as it could easily have been. Some good person added biographical information beyond what was inscribed on the gravestone, and now those of us "from away" don't know which information came from where. And for the part that obviously wasn't on the stone, we have no idea where it came from, or how reliable it might be.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Downloadable book$

The latest Wholly Genes newsletter includes notices of new downloadable books (PDF) for sale, including two that treat places other than New England or the mid-Atlantic:

Jacob Piatt Dunn's 1919 Indiana and Indianans: A History of Aboriginal and Territorial Indiana and the Century of Statehood. Barbara Vines Little, CG, observes, "Researchers stopping to read a particular entry are likely to find themselves completing the chapter before moving on to the next item of interest." I observe that this every-word-searchable version is noticeably less expensive than you can get the hard copy at

Rev. A. B. Cristy's 1896 Cleveland Congregationalists 1895: Historical Sketches of our Twenty-Five Churches and Missions. Again, I can't find this for even twice the price as a used physical book.

(Although I am a satisfied user of Wholly Gene's bread-and-butter database product, I have no other connection with them.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More Sheboygan

Sheboygan History is a useful and unpretentious site with many local school yearbooks going back to 1900, as well as photos, transcriptions of county histories and the inevitable 1894 biography book, plus a 1940 telephone book and local links including the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center, previously blogged here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Historical Maps Online

"The intent of the Historical Maps Online project is to electronically publish the images of maps charting the last 400 years of historical development in Illinois and the Northwest Territory." That's the first line on the website, which is a collaborative project of the University of Illinois Library and the University of Illinois Press, with help from other outfits including the Newberry Library.

The site's search function is odd, such that "Edwards County" with or without quotes brings up 213 hits, most of them irrelevant, whereas "Edwards" alone brings up 4, including the relevant county page from Warner and Beers' 1876 atlas of the state. These atlas pages are the most obviously genealogically useful ones -- with old towns and all townships delineated for each county -- but they can't be enlarged as much as one would like.

Browsing categories for this collection are topographic maps of Illinois (290), North America (89), Northwestern Territory (11), former colonies in North America (1), Louisiana Territory (14), Canada (Nouvelle France) (9), early maps (49), South America (111), Mexico (6), Illinois (756), Indiana (32), Champaign County (749), Indians of North America (769), Warner and Beers Atlas 1876 (286), and maps from the Newberry Library (9). Thanks to Diane Walsh on the St. Clair County mailing list for pointing this out.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Forthcoming books

The fall 2008 publishers' catalogs are out, and I find two books (which pretty much by definition I have not seen) that may prove to be valuable as genealogical references:

Due out in November from the University of Illinois Press, Place Names of Illinois by Edward Callary of Northern Illinois University: "the origins of names of nearly three thousand Illinois communities and the circumstances surrounding their naming and renaming."

Due out in December from the University of Chicago Press, Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide edited by Ann Durkin Keating of North Central College, and coeditor of the Encyclopedia of Chicago: "comprehensive, cross-referenced entries on all seventy-seven community areas, along with many suburbs and neighborhoods both extant and long forgotten, from Albany Park to Zion." Contributors include Michael Ebner, Susan Hirsch, and Robert Bruegmann.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Midwestern sources at Family Search Labs

Several blogs and email lists alerted me to new database items with original items at FamilySearch Labs' Record Search. Here's the current list of Midwestern sources available there:

Illinois: Diocese of Belleville, Catholic Parish Records 1729-1956 (browsable only)

Michigan: Births 1867-1902, Marriages 1868-1925, Deaths 1867-1897 (searchable and browsable)

Ohio: Deaths 1908-1953 (searchable and browsable)

Wisconsin: State Censuses 1855, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905 (browsable only)

This is both an opportunity to make new searches in sources difficult to find before, and an opportunity to "clean up" your existing records with higher-quality sources.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

South Bend Quarterly

The quarterly newsletter of the South Bend Area Genealogical Society recently won honorable mention in the National Genealogical Society's local newsletter competition. Major articles in the April issue of the quarterly:

"Indiana Scandinavians: Urban Distribution According to 2000 Census Data," by Mika Roinila

"Abstracts of Title," by Eric Craig

"Magnificent Men in their Automobiles: American Simplex Motor Car Company, Mishawaka, Indiana," by Ken Reising

"Saint Patrick's Day 1897"

"California Obituaries of St. Joseph Co. natives," comp. Eleanor E. Borkenhagen

New books listings for Saint Joseph County Public Library and Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library

Friday, May 23, 2008

Illinois Genealogy, 40 years of history

The Illinois State Genealogical Society is 40 years old, and this spring's quarterly celebrates by including a number of vintage articles and a portrait of founding president (and new member of the National Genealogical Society hall of fame) Lowell Volkel on the cover:

"Illinois State Genealogical Society Capsule History 1968-1983," from 1983

"Address by Theodore Cassady, Assistant Archivist, State of Illinois," from 1969

"Land Records in the Illinois State Archives," from 1969

"Early Illinois Immigrants," from 1969

"Illinois Historical Records Survey," from 1969

"Early Cemeteries in Chicago," from 1969

"A Short History of Revolutionary War Pension Resolutions," from 1969

Current articles:

"Finding Your Ancestors in History" by Margaret Kapustiak

"The Digital Revolution in Genealogical Research: What's Coming from Family Search, Part 2," by Susan A. Anderson

"Ask the Retoucher!" by Eric Curtis M. Basir

ISGS's 40th anniversary conference will be 18 October 2008 at Elgin Community College in Elgin, Kane County.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Figgie of Cleveland

In the April issue of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Helen Schatvet Ullmann describes Patricia Law Hatcher's The Ancestry of Harry E. Figgie, Jr., of Cleveland, Ohio, as "a good model for presenting research on a diverse ancestry," in this case Swiss and English.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Elizabeth T. Henderson 1918-2008

My mom (who you see in the upper left-hand corner of this blog) was born in Champaign County, Illinois, in 1918, and grew up in Methodist parsonages across the middle of the state. Her family’s plans initially didn’t run to her becoming a medical doctor, but she worked and scrimped and saved her way through four years at the U of I and three more at its medical school in Chicago. The big city was not her home ground, and her classmates, mostly men, proved rather provincial. When she said she was going back downstate to practice medicine, they said, “But you won’t have any patients!”

She met her future husband while studying in an alcove at the Wesley Foundation on the Urbana campus, when he offered to help her with physics homework. They had five children and 59 years.

For six years she practiced medicine at Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County, Kentucky, where it took a real Jeep (WW2 style) and hiking shoes to get to the remote cabins of some patients. With tubing brought in from outside, she cobbled together intravenous fluid dispensers as needed.

After their second child was born, the family moved back to central Illinois. They wanted to settle and put roots down somewhere; when the high-school principal in Farmington (Fulton County) found himself short of a math teacher at the beginning of the 1951-1952 school year, her husband got the job. They never left.

We lived about an hour from her parents, who we visited most Sundays. An hour’s drive at the end of the day is not the ideal situation for parents of five children under ten, but they had resources. Many times I recall Mom and Dad singing their old songs in clear two-part harmony -- “Down By The Old Mill Stream,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” -- as we drove through the hills of Knox County in the gathering dusk.

When I was very young, Mom’s medical friends were all female. Some time after we moved to Farmington, I had to be told that men could be doctors too. I thought that was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. (This is an example of how parents give their children advantages they never had.)

As a child, Mom was painfully shy. Over the years she grew out of it. As a doctor in training, she recalled being the only one in her class who actually got acquainted with her patients. As a doctor in later years before retiring in 1989, she saw patients in her living room for fees that her former classmates would have found laughable.

She hated to cut down a tree -- once she scared off the city tree trimmers from the silver maples in her front yard -- but she never philosophized about nature. She took little interest in ideas as such, and she had a chronic suspicion of education or knowledge for its own sake. (“What’s he going to do with that?”) She endured hours of torture when I found her hated college history textbooks and enthusiastically read them aloud to her. Later, when I pestered her with all the conventional skeptical questions about Methodism, Christianity, and religion, her only answer was, “It’s done a lot of good.” But when I called her with a health crisis, at 3 am on her vacation, she knew exactly what to do.

She revered her parents but not beyond reason. “My dad was right about everything,” she said once -- except when he soft-pedaled the idea that war is always wrong. “He was wrong about that.”

Starting when her youngest was in diapers, she regularly drove to West Virginia with the kids and a hired helper -- a two- or three-day trip -- to substitute for doctors there. In the days before interstate bypasses, we never failed to get lost in Cincinnati. Sometimes she found adventure in her own side yard, where she once filled both hands with bird seed and lay in the grass until the birds landed on her to feed. Later on, she traveled to Nicaragua and the Dakotas for medical stints. In their 70s, she and her sister went to Baja California to see a solar eclipse. Even after Alzheimer’s had stolen much of her mind, she was always ready for a ride into town.

She loved babies and basketball games, flowers and garage sales. One of her fondest memories was keeping an eye on her oldest grandchild, then about two or three. Little Rachel looked up at her and said with great satisfaction: “Here I am, on my own front porch, with my good friend Grandma.”

Speaking in public was not her idea of an adventure, and she avoided it like the plague. But eight months ago, when her home town honored her, she unexpectedly took the microphone to thank those present -- and to add, of her life there and elsewhere, “I would do it all again if I could.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cemetery records in Putnam County, Indiana, and Franklin County, Ohio

Genealogy Roots Blog strikes again, with updates and additions to its list of online indexes to death records of various kinds. For the Midwest, we have readings of cemeteries in Putnam County, Indiana (not complete but searchable across cemeteries, which is great), and readings and some photographs of Obetz Cemetery (AKA Zion's Lutheran) in Hamilton Township, Franklin County, Ohio. Enjoy -- and check the original one way or another if you want to prove anything!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Places you wish your ancestors were born in

Daniel Downs' Xenia Ohio Citizen Journal blog gives a pointer to Xenia's Greene County (Ohio) Public Library's genealogy resources. Wow. Working with the Greene County Records Center and Archives, OHIONET, and OCLC Preservation Services, the library digitized four volumes of birth records kept by the local probate court from 1869 to 1909. After that local health departments took over the job in Ohio.

"The birth records are arranged chronologically by the date the birth was recorded. The record contains the child's full name, date of birth, place of birth (city/township/county), sex, legitimacy, race, parents and their residence." Searchable and browseable, the digital images I viewed were clear -- actually better than microfilm because of the zooming capabilities -- and the library provides ample information to cite them properly in your notes. What a wonderful service!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

One history book to miss

Writing in the New Republic, virtuoso American historian Alan Taylor demolishes Richard Kluger's Seizing Destiny: How America Grew from Sea to Shining Sea. The review's an education in itself, but if you're in the market for some good historical work for background or general education, allow me to suggest what Taylor can't: one of his mesmerizing and meticulous books, like William Cooper's Town, or American Colonies, or The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution. I couldn't put 'em down.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

More Third Coast genealogy

In the April-June issue of NGS Newsmagazine, Debra Mieszala, CG, of Lake County, Illinois, describes records of the Coast Guard predecessor United States Life-Saving Service (USLSS), begun in the 1870s. If you have a research target involved, these records are a treat -- everything from logbooks to correspondence to "articles of engagement." And check out the list of articles for further study.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Growing Up Genealogy in Nebraska

Suzanne Coleman blogs Growing Up Genealogy from North Platte (Lincoln County), Nebraska, which is a tad out of our orbit, but she has a cute and cunning approach to interesting kids in their forebears. I won't spoil it for you -- go and read!

You'll enjoy her stories too: "My Mom and my aunt Cheri....are heading out next week to see how many graves they can locate in nine days..."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chicago genealogy lookups

Taylorstales' episodic blog Genealogy gives a testimonial for an original document lookup service in Chicago called, appropriately enough, Chicago Genealogy: "extremely fast, less expensive than the Cook County Clerk's office and super convenient!" This is a records retrieval service, not a professional genealogy service. Records available @ $5 if you have the index numbers (Chicago Genealogy has info on finding them here if you're new to genealogy or to Illinois):

  • Chicago birth certificate lookups, 1878-1915
  • Chicago birth register lookups, 1871-1915
  • Cook County marriage license lookups, 1871-1916
  • Chicago death certificate lookups, 1878-1947
  • Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic record lookups to 1915
  • Cook County birth index page lookups

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

GenFest for eastern Indiana

The Indiana Genealogical Society blog takes note of the upcoming GenFest in New Castle (Henry County), Indiana, Friday and Saturday June 13 and 14. It's under the auspices of the New Castle-Henry County Public Library and the Henry County Historical Society.

As of this writing, 3 libraries, 6 vendors, 9 organizations, and 17 individuals searching numerous surnames are slated to attend. It's billed as "an old-fashioned gathering of researchers doing genealogy in East Central Indiana"; looks to me like a genealogical society meeting, minus the speakers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fiction goes where fact fears to tread

If your life left no records, not even the best genealogist could tell your story. But Annie Proulx can imagine it (not available at the New Yorker's web site -- the May 5 issue, at good libraries everywhere, if you've got the stomach).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Old databases, silent blogs -- better than nothing

I'm not sure what to think about these two websites that came to my attention. "Cisco/Sisco Genealogy Data" is a recent addition to Cyndi's List, and it will come in helpful as a source for clues (as well as following up its citations). But as far as I can tell it hasn't been added to for more than a year, and three of its four internal indexes haven't been updated since Bill Clinton was president.

I vacillate between being grateful that an abandoned project is available for the rest of us to draw on, and being sorry that it was abandoned -- even though that is the way most of us relate to family history research, with brief spurts of interest followed by long fallow periods.

Blogs of course have that problem even worse. And from this database I come to a librarian's blog about Waynesville (Warren County), Ohio, full of solid information, that hasn't seen a post in more than a year.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Theses, we got theses

OhioLINK has more going on than the Morgan bibliography. That's just one of 26 databases they have available to the general public. Another is the Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center, making advanced-student studies from Ohio colleges and universities searchable and available for free full-text download. Some of the interesting titles I spotted in a very incomplete survey:

Roberts, Edward Earl. Camp Chase. Degree: Master of Arts, History, 1940, Ohio State University

Johnson, Susan Allyn. Industrial voyagers: a case study of Appalachian migration to Akron, Ohio: 1900-1940. Degree: Doctor of Philosophy, History, 2006, Ohio State University

McFarland, Morgan J. The Watery World: The Country of the Illinois, 1699-1778. Degree: PhD, Arts and Sciences : History, 2005, University of Cincinnati

Grundy, Martha Paxson. "In the world but not of it": Quaker faith and the dominant culture, Middletown Meeting, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 1750-1850. Degree: Doctor of Philosophy, History, 1990, Case Western Reserve University

McVey, H. B. The Military Operations in the Upper Ohio Valley During the Revolutionary War 1774-1781. Degree: Master of Arts, History, 1928, Ohio State University

Cunningham, Connie K. ECHOES FROM HENDERSON HALL: THE HISTORY OF ONE PIONEER FAMILY SETTLING IN THE OHIO VALLEY. Degree: Masters in Education, Education, 2006, Marietta College

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Duplicate place names

24-7 Family History Circle points to a post on the Mental Floss blog entitled "10 of the Most Common Place Names in the U.S." It's a fun reminder to cite your places fully, but once I noticed that the headline did not read "The 10 Most Common" I started to go all genealogical on it, and the results weren't pretty. (Maybe this is why I haven't been to a party in a while!)

"Place name" is undefined and no source is given. So I looked at a couple of plausible sources.

Mental Floss says there are 37 Franklins in the US. My usual quick reference for stuff like this is Rootsweb Townsearch (towns are what most people think of when you just say "place," right?), which reports 61 -- and that's before you start in on "Franklin Acres," "Franklin City," and all the rest.

If you favor a more generous and rigorous definition of place, try the US Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), which gives us 217 civil features -- cities, towns, villages, counties, townships, etc. -- with "Franklin" somewhere in the name.

Mental Floss claims there are eight places named Washington in Wisconsin alone. Rootsweb Townsearch has just one, in Door County. My old road atlas doesn't have any. GNIS lists eleven, eight of them being "towns," but in Wisconsin that usually carries the northeast-US meaning, which most Midwesterners would call "townships" and no one except elected officials and genealogists pays much attention to.

I leave to the reader the excellent timesucking exercise of finding the actual ten most common place names. Please make at least a vague gesture in the direction of your sources, though.

Ohio Before 1850 According to Morgan

Of the making of indexes there is no end, and a good thing too. Let's start at the beginning:

Richard P. Morgan of Willoughby, Ohio, maintains and adds to a list of more than 10,000 "books, pamphlets, and broadsides printed in Ohio, from the earliest in 1796 through 1850," known as the Morgan Bibliography of Ohio Imprints, and hosted on line by the "consortium of 86 Ohio college and university libraries, and the State Library of Ohio" known as OhioLINK.

Of course, the actual books, pamphlets, and broadsides are now scattered in libraries and archives all over. The bibliography lists them on line by title, by author, by subject, and shows their physical location. Also available is a growing every-name index of more than 130,000 names of "Ohio People, Businesses and Institutions."

. . .

OK, you just went and searched for your favorite Ohio relative with an easily distinguishable name, didn't you? Well, fine, but don't neglect to locate and browse around in the full document where his or her name appears. This list is the most miscellaneous collection of stuff you can imagine, including many school catalogs and city directories, much of it having to do with matters beyond Ohio's boundaries, so be sure to learn the context as well as grabbing the name.

Another index containing more information on people in some publications is here -- I think it falls somewhere in between an index and a transcription. There's also a list of which titles are indexed. If you have problems finding people who were living, working, or schooling in Ohio prior to the first full-bore US census in 1850, these sites are a must-visit.

Hat tip to Cyndi's List.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Remembering the Lincoln Highway

Arcadia Publishing has published Cynthia Ogorek's The Lincoln Highway around Chicago, and she'll be talking about it Saturday, May 10, at a meeting of the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association in Schererville (Lake County), Indiana. Details at Region Roots: Northwest Indiana Genealogy, a blog from the Lake County Public Library in Merrillville.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Every Name Indexes

Cyndi's List led me to Cathy L. O'Connor's series of Every Name Indexes, primarily to Midwestern county histories from the turn of the century before last. Some are for sale, and some are free on the internet. There's a taste of southern Illinois, SW Michigan, and Milwaukee, but most are from Indiana -- more than Blogger will let me add labels for.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Your ancestors felt the earth move if they were in the Midwest in 1812

The Missouri State Genealogical Association's blog reminds us of the New Madrid Earthquake -- actually four or five earthquakes -- of 1811-1812, and links to the US Geological Survey page on it (don't miss the pictures of visible damage 90+ years later).

USGS's take:

At the onset of the earthquake the ground rose and fell - bending the trees until their branches intertwined and opening deep cracks in the ground. Landslides swept down the steeper bluffs and hillslides; large areas of land were uplifted; and still larger areas sank and were covered with water that emerged through fissures or craterlets. Huge waves on the Mississippi River overwhelmed many boats and washed others high on the shore. High banks caved and collapsed into the river; sand bars and points of islands gave way; whole islands disappeared.

My take on it in the Chicago Reader when I had the chance to learn from the experts and read up on it:

Monday morning, December 16, 1811, on the Mississippi River in the village of Little Prairie, Missouri Territory. The ground rocked and rolled so hard it knocked people down. Sixteen-year-old Ben Chartier had been hanging around his family's cabin door, where his mother was having a smoke. "The sky turned green, and then it shook hard. My father and my cousins ran and turned the hogs out. The ground burst wide open and peach and apple trees were knocked down and then blowed up."...

Thursday afternoon, November 9, 1995, overlooking the Mississippi River from the William Campbell farm near Dyersburg, Tennessee. Over the years David Stewart has worked as a geologist, preacher, author, natural-childbirth activist, consultant, and entrepreneur. Most recently he's been in the business of reminding anyone who will listen that the big quake of 184 years ago will be back some day. And when it comes it could do more than just rattle your dishes off the shelf.

Campbell uses the seemingly solid sand-and-gravel hillside Stewart's standing on as a gravel pit. For Stewart it's a ready-made earthquake laboratory, where he can re-create Little Prairie's nightmare in miniature. He stamps his foot on the ground again and again. The ground begins to shake like jelly where he stamped. Water seeps up out of it, and his feet begin to sink. He stamps one last time, then jumps away a few feet. "Usually you get quicksand," he says. "But under the right saturation conditions you can even get quick gravel."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

You can be an honorary Hoosier

Perhaps it's natural for a blog to focus on what we can get: new records, new ways to find and view old records. But genealogy is also about giving, and the Indiana Genealogical Society's Indiana Marriage Indexing Project (1790-1957) is an opportunity for everyone to contribute to the creation of what will be a free online database. IGS's recent blog post lists the project's honor roll of top contributors. Of the six people who have indexed or arbitrated more than 20,000 records apiece, three live outside Indiana.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sissons in Springfield

Why is it that most of the family reunions listed by the National Genealogical Society are elsewhere than the Midwest? Here's one slated for Springfield (Sangamon County), Illinois (I have relatives with this surname but no ancestors):

SISSON - The 8th Biennial Sisson Gathering for all individuals researching the name of Sisson will take place 26-28 June 2008 in Springfield, Illinois. Sharing of Sisson genealogical records, discussing the Sisson DNA project, and displays of Sisson family charts will be among the featured items; tours to local Sisson historical sites will also be arranged. To receive an Announcement and Registration form, contact David Martin at, or call 508-420-0224.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Know where you're going, and where they went

"I waited 7 hours in Chicago for a 15 minute flight. Had I known South Bend was so close to Chicago I could have easily taken a bus and arrived in plenty of time to relax and prepare for the seminar the following morning."

Geoff Rasmussen, posting at the genealogy database program Legacy's blog, makes the best of his 21st-century misadventures en route to a presentation at the Elkhart County (Indiana) Genealogical Society, and turns them into a pertinent reminder that genealogy without geography can result in delays of decades, not hours. Besides, you've gotta love a genealogy program with a geographical anachronism alert: it tells you when you've typed in the name of a county that didn't exist yet in that year!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Grand Traverse County, Michigan

... has a genweb site and a blog related to it. The blog is brand-new (as in born last month) and so far a pleasant mix of local history and genealogy tidbits. Brenda Kay Wolfgram Moore is the hand behind both. Even if you don't have any ancestors within a hundred miles, the images are wonderfully fetching.

Digitized newspapers in Champaign County, Illinois

If that headline doesn't make your heart go pit-a-pat, then you're reading the wrong blog! IMHO, digitized every-word-searchable newspaper images are the gold standard, and a gold mine. So it's a happy day when the Scout Report brings word of the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Right now the collection offers the UIUC student newspaper, the Daily Illini, from 1916 to 1936, with 1936-1945 promised soon; and the local daily, the Urbana Daily Courier from 1916 to 1925, with 1902-1915 and 1926-1935 promised soon.

Here's some of the tech part:

The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection (IDNC) is a project of the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library. The IDNC is a repository of digital facsimiles of historic Illinois newspapers. Using digital imaging technology, we have converted microfilmed newsprint into preservation quality image files. Equipped with Olive Software's Active Paper Archive platform, the IDNC delivers access versions of the image files through the customizable user-friendly interface. The interface allows users with internet connections to browse the newspapers by date or search by keyword across articles, advertisements and photo captions. Users can print, download, or e-mail individual articles. And it's free! We plan to add additional years of Illinois newspapers to the repository as funding becomes available.

The genealogy part doesn't need much explanation. I've already found a fascinating account of a second cousin on my mother's father's side (with the unhelpful surname Aye) who gave an impassioned speech to the local WCTU about alcoholism. He is described as a "newspaperman, and a former Methodist minister," and someone "whose experience for the past twelve years covers every phase of the evil, both from the inside and the outside." Hmmmm...

Friday, May 2, 2008

New blog

Another new Midwestern genblog is Wendy Littrell's All My Branches. Researching Indiana and Ohio while living elsewhere presents some challenges. "I like to find little known websites that have tons of information on them - not the ones who direct you to other sites or pay sites." Works for me.

An obscure research beacon

This month's "Genealogy Gems" from the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne (not yet archived here) includes a note by Delia Cothrun Bourne about NARA publication M1373, "Registers of Lighthouse Keepers, 1845-1912," nineteen rolls of microfilm complete with maps and indexes. The Great Lakes have two of the six rolls, 1845-1900 and 1901-1912.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The New Philadelphia story

Today brings a press release from the University of Illinois about another year's archaeological work on New Philadelphia, Hadley Township, Pike County, Illinois, the first town platted and subdivided by a black man -- "Free Frank" McWorter, who used his own work and the proceeds of subdivision to buy family members out of slavery in the 1830s and even after his death in 1854. The town was integrated and peaceful; it's not named in the 1860 census but a browse of the township in HeritageQuest Online shows families designated "M" (mulatto) or "B" (black) on images 16, 18, 26, 28, 29, and 33 of the 33 imaged pages of the township. (It's a telling point that although the from asks for color -- "White, Black, or Mulatto" -- the census taker evidently saw no need to record the race of the white people in the township.)

This township map from Pike County Genweb gives the geographical location; many more detailed maps and further reading are at U of I anthropologist Christopher Fennell's website.

There's a video link in the release. Also on line is an article from the 2004 Living Museum giving some more background and showing a little bit about how land and census records have been used to help design the essential and ongoing archaeological digging.

Chicago Genealogist, Spring 2008

It's school daze in this quarter's Chicago Genealogist with transcriptions of graduates' data from three high-school yearbooks:

"Austin High School, The 'Maroon & White' Yearbook, January Class of 1948," submitted by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom

"Saint Dominic High School Graduates, 'The Torch' Yearbook 1955," submitted by Joseph L. Rhodes

"William Howard Taft High School, January and June Classes of 1947," submitted by Roy Rauschenberg

Hmmmm. We caution our children and grandchildren about putting too much information on line, but how about those Austin graduates who listed as their ambition "To get my M.R.S. degree"?