Monday, January 31, 2011

The best-laid plans . . .

Any time you're headed for a faraway repository, a phone call ahead of time is a good idea. Archives are never as well described on their web sites as libraries are. Some places that function as archives are called libraries. And even libraries have taken up the peculiar custom of closing down entirely on random days for "staff training."

But as I learned last week, you can't really call ahead and ask some busy attendant if everything on the long list of books and films you want to see is actually on the shelf, and not in some back room being revamped, repaired, or reboxed. So just be sure you have plenty of different things to do.

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Primary Sources"

If you haven't already, check out Dan Alosso's "Reading Primary Sources" posts at The Historical Society -- one on estate inventories, the other on bank notes. If you can get beyond the historian's entrenched and hopelessly imprecise terminology of "primary source," they're quite interesting, especially the one on bank notes. Inventories have tended to fall between the chairs of history and genealogy (some published will compilations purposely omitted them).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Upgrading Illinois

Two recent announcements of upgrades to already valuable resources. I'll let the announcers speak for themselves:

The Newberry Library's, where mappable items from local publications are now appearing.

The Illinois State Genealogical Society's web site, including online databases. ISGS of course will be hosting the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual meeting in Springfield this fall.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Indiana county and township maps

I could have sworn I blogged about the free Indiana county and township maps at STATS Indiana from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. But this handy resource may have gone direct to my home page without stopping here. The site has a downloadable map of each of Indiana's 92 counties, with township boundaries, and major highways and towns superimposed. So they allow you to be oriented to the fact (for instance) that Berne, Adams County, is split among three townships -- Hartford, French, and Monroe -- whereas the village of Monroe itself is just north in Washington and Kirkland townships. (Monroe County, meanwhile, is in a whole 'nother part of the state.)

The best feature for my money are the regional versions of these maps, which divide the state into sixths while retaining all township boundaries. This makes it easy to see when seemingly distant places may be adjacent. Of course I would prefer that all these maps include the congressional township lines (by survey) as well as the civil township lines, but you can't have everything.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More great history books

Heather Cox Richardson has a wonderful post on The Historical Society's blog, in which she imagines an American history course built around four old classics and four new ones. Of course it warms my heart to hear more about fine books like Edmund Morgan's American Slavery, American Freedom; Robert White's The Middle Ground; Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's A Midwife's Tale; and Robert Mazrim's The Sangamo Frontier: History and Archaeology in the Shadow of Lincoln.

What could be better than seeing old friends appreciated? Learning four more titles that I haven't yet read. I can hardly wait. Now I know where to spend my Christmas loot!

Monday, January 10, 2011

If I seem a little absent or distracted this week . . .

. . . it's because I accepted Christy Fillerup's invitation to guest-blog over at the Utah Genealogical Association site during the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ohio Genealogy News Winter 2010

Pound for pound, quarter after quarter, Ohio Genealogy News is the most practically informative genealogy magazine I know of.

The current issue's cover story, "Ohioans in Religious Newspapers," is especially pertinent because so many of us have ancestors who came through Ohio, but something like it could be written for almost any state. But co-editor Deb Cyprych wrote it for Ohio, with descriptions and locations for periodicals associated with almost two dozen denominations: Baptist, Baptist (German), Christian Church (American Christian Convention), Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, Church of God, Congregational, Episcopalian, Evangelical Association (German), Jewish, Lutheran, Lutheran (German), Mennonite, Methodist Episcopal, Methodist (German), Methodist Protestant, Presbyterian, Protestant Union, Reformed (German), Roman Catholic, Society of Friends (Quakers), United Brethren in Christ, and Universalist.

Other articles review the holdings of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, the website of the Terrace Park Building Survey (it's a village in Hamilton County), online Hamilton County probate records, and Palatines to America.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Indiana resources in Michigan

(Please forgive the cross-posting.)

If you had a genealogical problem in La Porte County, Indiana, the first place you'd look would be Kalamazoo, Michigan, right? No, but it should be somewhere on your list.

The Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections' on-line catalog reveals two resources for "LaPorte":

* LaPorte County News Collection, 1902-1908, collection no. A1274, three reels of microfilm of the Union Mills La Porte County News from Union Mills. The Indiana State Library's excellent collection holds only one issue of this newspaper.

* Minnesota Historical Society Collection, 1834-1926, no collection number, containing papers of James Mandigo 1834-1891,with a scrapbook that at least mentions his attendance at Indiana Medical College in La Porte.

In this index as in many others, the search term "LaPorte" brings up different results from "La Porte." It's all part of our incompletely digested French heritage.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Methodology Monday: finding out the law

Genealogists often need to know the law in ways that relatively few lawyers do. Often a relevant question is more specific in time and circumstance -- not so much at what age you could get married legally, but at what age could you get married in 1894, but only with parental consent?

When I needed to know that for Indiana, I turned to Google Books and triangulated. I found the complete revised statutes of the state for 1881 and again for 1901. In both cases women under 18 and men under 21 had to have parental consent. (I'm reasonably sure -- but not positive! -- that the legislature didn't change the law in the intervening 20 years and then change it back. This is a chronic legal research problem for me, since I'm rarely in a place where I have the time and disposition to check each year's record of legislative enactments.)

Since I was dealing with a possible shotgun marriage, it was also interesting to learn that if a couple married prior to the birth of a child, that would block any charge of bastardy. That was based on a couple of case citations, which did not include years. More research for another day, if needed...

But what I started out to say was, wouldn't it be nice to have a source-cited table of marriageableness for every state, every year?