Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thoughts on the 4th

In her article, "Independence Was Not Free," Melissa Slate recounts an article from a recent issue of the American Legion Magazine, showing the trials and tribulations faced by signers of the Declaration of Independence. This is a good time, perhaps, to help children understand the meaning of patriotism and the value placed on the liberty by our forefathers.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Reads . . .

If you're in for some "Summer Reads," Gena Philibert-Ortega offers some suggestions, and there may be more of us may be staying home with a good book this summer than in times past.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Irish Research: A Case Study

Journey through one researcher's quest for his Irish grandmother's maiden name. In a series of three articles, Kevin Cassidy details his search and, along the way, suggests useful avenues of research and resources that may apply to other research problems. For example, using the New York City Police Census as an substitute for the lost 1890 U.S. Federal Census. The Police Census was taken in the fall of 1890 because New York was unhappy with the federal census count. Available through the Family History Library, only records for Manhattan and the Bronx survive from this second count. The first article in the series, Irish Case Study: U.S. Resources, may also be helpful in showing how deductions were made, perhaps allowing you to take a second look at your own research.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Celebrating Juneteenth, July 19

My grandmother, who grew up in Central Texas at the turn of the twentieth century, told me in a personal interview many years ago, that while she did not remember celebrating the 4th of July, she did remember celebrating another event on the 19th of June, with great hoorah, including fireworks. Although she did not know it by that name, the celebration she recalled is known as Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. While my family was not African American, their community included many former slaves, among them my family's nearest neighbors, whom my grandmother remembers most fondly. Texas is one of 29 states recognizing Juneteenth as a national holiday . . . and Texas figures prominently in its beginning.

As noted on the web site, Juneteenth, the "19th of June", recognizes June 19, 1865, in Galveston, TX, when Union General Gordon Granger announced freedom for all slaves in the Southwest. This was the last major vestige of slavery in the United States following the end of the Civil War. This occurred more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Upon the reading of General Order #3 by General Granger, the former slaves celebrated jubilantly, establishing America's second Independence Day Celebration and the oldest African-American holiday observance.

For more on recognizing U. S. Emancipation, see Melissa Slate's article, "Celebrate Juneteenth," which also highlights additional resources.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Using Googe in Your Genealogy, Part 2

I remember a time when I was working in the software industry and Alta Vista was my search engine of choice; then came the new kid on the block with the funny name, Google. Since then, Google has become a powerhouse, and lest you doubt her theme that "Google is more than a search engine," you will be convinced in reading Gena Philibert-Ortega's second article, "Using Google in Your Genealogy, Part 2." Google offers some scaled down and user friendly tools that can help researchers, regardless of computer skills or Internet savvy, in addition to its continuing effort bring more resources online, in particular, out-of-print books, and to create easier access to online resources. This is not to disparage other search engines and tools, which are also growing and have their place in the research community.

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Happy Father's Day

An article on Woodlands Online presents a brief history of Father's Day, and reminds us "to spend time with dad and show your appreciation for all that he does for your family." It may also be a good time to record your own personal memories of a father or an important father-figure in your life. This Father's Day, I would like to pay tribute to my brother Mike, who was my surrogate father when I was growing up. Mike recently survived a serious heart attack, which makes this Father's Day a little more special.

I was only four when my parents divorced and my mother had to work to care for her five children, of whom I was the youngest and only girl. While the eldest brother went off to join the Navy at age 17, it was my mother's second son who stepped up to help with the kids. On a typical day, after putting in a full day at his own job, Mike would come home and take care of the kids, getting dinner and putting us to bed; then at 10 p.m. he would head for the bus stop to meet my mother, arriving home from work. On payday, both of my teenage brothers, Mike and Jim, handed their paychecks over to Mother, and she, in turn, gave them each an allowance for their own use during the week. Mike taught me to write my name and he taught me the "correct way" to wash dishes, lining up three chairs at the sink. I would walk from one chair to the next, washing, rinsing, and drying the dishes -- and if they weren't clean, I walked back and did it over. Mike has a very strong work ethic that he passed along to his younger siblings and to his own children -- they are some of the hardest working people I know. Mike also taught me how to behave and to respect others . . . and sometimes those lessons were hard.

Mike suffered a severe heat attack just three weeks ago, and we almost lost him. Gratefully, he survived, and owing to his strong determination and to his general good health and fitness, he recovered beyond what the doctors might have guessed. Mike is now home and "looking forward to a great summer." Truly, you cannot keep a good man down. Happy Father's Day to Mike and all those sons, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and friends who step in and lend support when and where it is needed, and to all those dad's who have gone up against some pretty incredible odds to "be there" for their kids.


200 Years of Times (London) newspaper archive -- Free and Online


Aimed at setting the gold standard for an online newspaper archive, Times Online has rolled out an elaborate digital newspaper archive stretching back more than 200 years, according to an article in the Guardian, "Time archive offers 20m articles for free." The archive includes more than 20 million articles from every edition of the Times (London), excepting a small number of damaged issues, from 1785 to 1985.

Such a newspaper archive is a real time machine, taking you back in time for real time coverage of momentous historical events. As reported in the Guardian article, the archive includes Thunderer's coverage of events such as the Battle of Waterloo, the first convicts arriving at Botany Bay and the execution of Marie Antoinette. Other issues cover the 1851 Great Exhibition, the Jack the Ripper murders in 1888 and Amelia Earhart's solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932. The archive also includes letters to the editor, photographs and adverts, with each page presented as it was printed in the paper on a parchment-coloured screen.

Anne Spackman, the editor-in-chief of Times Online, said that the Times wanted the project to set the gold standard for an online newspaper archive for "arguably the most famous newspaper in the world." The archive is currently free, and Spackman says no decision will be taken about whether it will remain free or require a subscription until it has generated a solid userbase. . . . Work will begin soon on digitising the rest of the Times editions, as well as the extensive archive of the Sunday Times from 1822 to 2000.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flag Day, 2008

Today is Flag Day in the United States, honoring that day, 14 June 1777 when the original stars and stripes design of the American Flag was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. In her article, "Our American Flag: Truth and Fiction," Melissa Slate presents the background of the flag's design, dispelling some long-held myths.

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28th Annual Jewish Genealogy Conference coming up, Aug 17-22

An recent column on announced the upcoming, International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS), 28th Annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Chicago Aug. 17-22. The conference will be presented in the Chicago Downtown Marriott Magnificent Mile Hotel. Co-hosting the occasion will be the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois and the Illiana Jewish Genealogical Society. For more information on this event, visit the IAJGS web site.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Consider a Family History Camp

Here is a great idea. Because everybody has a story to tell and to retain for future generations, as reported on, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum will host a Family History Camp the week of June 23-27. Adults and children can attend the week long practicum that will immerse them in such tricks of the trade as instructions in interviewing techniques; collecting and preserving family photographs and documents; using digital media for collecting and storing data; creating a family tree; and developing a family Web site. This might also be a great idea for those so-called "staycations" now gaining in popularity with gas prices so high and keeping us closer to home, for reunions, or any community or organization looking for summer activities.

For those interested in the Kalamazoo event, the event has a limited enrollment. Call the museum at 373-7965 or visit for details about registration.

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Google is more than a search engine

Many of us are familiar with Google as a search engine, but it is much more than that, as noted in Gena Philibert's most recent article, "Using Google in Your Genealogy, Part 1." In addition to reviewing how to get the most out of the Google search engine, the article also reviews the Google Map feature, including Panoramio, which combines maps with user-submitted pictures of places found at different locations. Other benefits of using Google in your research will appear in Part 2.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Chinese-Canadian wiki now online

An article in the Vancouver Courier, "New wiki adds branches to family tree research," reports Chinese-Canadians searching for their roots now a new wiki to help them and others research their ancestors and tell their stories.The Vancouver Public Library and Library and Archives Canada have partnered to sponsor the Chinese-Canadian history wiki, a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content. According to the article, the silver lining to measures once meant to exclude Chinese immigrants from Canada is that the personal records required by the government back then can be used to create a portrait of the early Chinese-Canadian community in Canada.

The article itself is enlightening on the issues. For example, as reported byJanet Tomkins, genealogy librarian at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, in the 1891 census records for the city of Victoria, for every single person of Chinese origin, "it was just put 'Chinaman' for every single one. So those people are nameless, and Victoria had the biggest Chinese community back then." In 1885 the federal government imposed a head tax on Chinese immigrants in an effort to exclude Chinese from entering the country; as a result of this registration, a listing of Canadian-born Chinese was produced; this Chinese Immigration List forms the basis of the Chinese-Canadian history wiki, called Chinese-Canadians: Profiles from a Community. The wiki only includes those born prior to 1901, for privacy reason. For those not familiar, "wiki" sites offer an opportunity for readers to participate and post information to the site.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Black Cherokee

The Black Cherokee is an Indian sect whose story is little known. The ancestry of this group is a mixture of African American and Cherokee Indian. In her article, "Black Cherokee," Melissa Slate provides the background of this group and suggests an avenue for further research.

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