Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pilgrim history gateway

For those with early New England ancestors, this book review is a gateway to several interesting books and ideas about how unplanned and rocky the Great Migration really was.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Methodology Monday with copyright urban legends

If you worry about copyright -- or if you worry that you don't worry about it enough -- check out this article, "Urban Copyright Legends,"written by copyright lawyer Brandon Butler, in the June 2010 issue of Research Library Issues. I often find it helpful with technical issues to learn what not to think, and this article is perfectly formatted if you swing that way too.

And, no, I don't spend my time perusing RLI, but I do have the widget for The Resource Shelf on my home page. Hat tip to them for highlighting this article.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ohio libraryfest

Private libraries are not a perfect substitute for public ones, but it is wonderful to see the Ohio Genealogical Society opening its brand-new Samuel D. Isaly Library this weekend (south of Mansfield off I-79 in Richland County).

For those of us who couldn't make the grand opening, the library blog has pictures. But being there will be the best! Here's the part of the web site to help you prepare. And there's also a list of "selected treasures," including Civil War muster-in rolls, Northern Ohio district naturalizations 1855-1967, Laws of Ohio, Ohio tax records 1801-1814, Church Records Survey, and "wolf scalps."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ohio bookfest

Looks like it's book week here in the Midwest -- except that most of these books are too heavy to hold up at the beach!

If you're already familiar with the web site and books put out by Ohio University Press and Swallow Press, you know all this. If not, you have some fun coming. They are reissuing the out-of-print 2001 The Documentary Heritage of Ohio in paper. Edited by Philip R. Shriver and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr., it seeks to provide "eyewitness, first-person narratives that will make the reader want to turn the page and keep on reading" -- another place where history, microhistory, and genealogy cross paths. And don't miss the related books on the same web page.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Could a Methodist minister get away with murdering a Catholic priest?

Maybe so, in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1921. Ohio State law professor Sharon Davies has written what sounds like a book too harsh for me to read -- about a nearly forgotten case that mesmerized the nation at the time -- but I can at least mention it. Rising Road is discussed in the Legal History Blog with additional links.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

You know the feeling . . .

. . . even when expressed by a guy who was old in 1892:

"To me, [this place's] Past is inextricably and strangely merged into its Present; it seems as if I were co-eval with Old Matthew Grant and its other first settlers; and that I had known every man, woman, and child who ever dwelt within its bounds; and as, occasionally, I tread the highways and byways of the towns which once composed Ancient Windsor, they are peopled for me with the shadowy -- almost tangible -- forms of those who have trodden them in the days of old."

Henry R. Stiles, "Preface to Volume II," The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut, 1635-1891 (Hartford: Case, Lockwood & Brainard, 1893; facsimile Camden ME: Picton Press, 1992), vii.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Insane persons at large in the archives

The lead article in the Summer 2010 Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly is "Elizabeth Scholfield, an Insane Person," by Mari Margaret McLean, winner of the OGS's third annual writing contest. Scholfield's story is told largely through her probate and guardianship files, census records, and family charts from another researcher.

None of these sources shed any light on why Scholfield was adjudged insane (or whether she may have been one of the women who were put away for other reasons). The article makes no mention of records of the Ohio Lunatic Asylum, where she resided from 1849 to 1854, or the records of the Muskingum County Infirmary, where she lived from 1854 to her death in 1871. Such records, even when they survive, are often suppressed for reasons of the alleged privacy rights of long-deceased people -- which makes it all the more important to tell Scholfield's and other insane people's stories with whatever records are still available.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

CARLI: Illinois online collections give it the old college try

Since 2006, the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois has maintained digital collections, now 75 of them on a variety of topics. You can browse them by name, by topic, by medium, or by institution.

I found a couple of alumni profiles on page 6 of The Elite Journal for 10 January 1890 (volume 3, number 15, but the earliest number so far digitized). In the class of 1875, F. H. Cumming was born in Hancock County but came to Illinois Wesleyan from Onarga, Iroquois County; Jabez Applebee was born in Whiteside County but entered college from Farmington, Fulton County.

I also found my mom's December 1943 graduation photo from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago (a framed copy of which hung on the wall of our back porch for many years).

It's worth browsing the collections just to know what's there. You can search across all collections, or search just one once you've narrowed down your focus. Once you're down to the page (or article) level, however, you're on your own.

A few of the potentially promising collections:
Benedictine University alumni directory 1887-1937,
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Civil War Collection,
Bloomington-Normal Local History Resources from Illinois Wesleyan University,
Booth Library Postcards from Eastern Illinois University,
Chicago aerial photographs from the University of Illinois at Chicago,
Great Lakes Digital Collection from the Newberry Library,
Historical Society Newsletters (Schuyler, McDonough, Hancock, and Rock Island) from Western Illinois University,
Historical Collections from Chicago State University,
Hull-House Yearbooks from 1906 from the University of Illinois at Chicago,
Letters Received by John Wesley Powell 1869-1879 from Illinois Wesleyan University,
Local History Resources from the University of Illinois at Springfield,
Noah Hart Papers (Civil War materials including the siege of Atlanta) from Dominican University,
Midwestern Railroads Documents and Images from Knox College,
The Swedish-American Historical Quarterly from 1950 from North Park University, and
William R. Townsend's Civil War Diary 1863-1864 from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Hat tip to Scout Report on the Illinois Wesleyan publications going back to January 1890.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Would you rather read The Educated Genealogist, or be one?

Actually you can do both. The Educated Genealogist is my friend Sheri Fenley's blog, and she's been chronicling some of the lessons learned in moving from doing personal research to doing research for clients. Her experience is pretty similar to mine, but her descriptions of it are much funnier. I especially loved her previous definition of a "conclusion," but while you're laughing you will be . . . educated.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Women's mug books!

The current Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly's cover story, "'The Grandmothers' of Aurora" by Michael R. Fichtel, describes an obscure book he found in the Aurora [Kane County] Historical Society: Reminiscences Prepared From Written and Verbal Recitals of the Personal Experience of "The Grandmothers" of Aurora in Early Pioneer Life in Illinois. The book (which does not appear in WorldCat) appears to have been compiled as a fundraiser for a WCTU rally in 1892; it contains 48 biographical sketches of elderly Aurora women, all of which are reprinted in the magazine. (It's a keeper.)

A few months ago, working on behalf of a client, I ran into a similar publication (which does appear in WorldCat), Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve, edited by Mrs. Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham, apparently originally published in bi-monthly installments in the 1890s, under the auspices of the Women's Department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission. The inadequate indexing of the book almost drove me crazy but the content is a welcome (and historically beneficial) change from the overwhelmingly masculine and downright patriarchal viewpoints of the ordinary mug books produced in this period.

Have you seen any books like these in other areas?