Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Kelly Clarkson

It was kind of weird watching Who Do You Think You Are? again.  It's been off the air for a while now, and I guess I got out of the habit (also evidenced by my lack of reporting on the last episodes of season 3).  The first episode of the new season on TLC was available as a download early, but I wanted to wait to see it on television so I could enjoy the whole experience, complete with commercials.

The first thing that struck me was that when I looked for the show in the online TV guide, it showed as only a half-hour program.  That turned out to be incorrect, but I was initially wondering if cutting the length of the show had been part of a compromise to bring it back on the air.

When the episode began, the intro showed the eight celebrities to be profiled this season.  I noticed that it's a very different kind of group than we had seen on NBC.  During the last season on NBC, Thomas Macentee had been reporting that ratings were dropping with each episode, and I'm sure that was an extremely important factor in NBC's decision to drop the program.  But the new list of celebrities also makes me wonder whether they were starting to see a lack of compelling stories, and/or whether the celebrities with stories no longer fit NBC's demographic as well, which skews a little older.  Six of this season's celebrities are decidedly younger than what we've seen previously, and the oldest is only 48:  Christina Applegate (41), Kelly Clarkson (31), Cindy Crawford (47), Zooey Deschanel (33), Chelsea Handler (38), Chris O'Donnell (43), Jim Parsons (40), Trisha Yearwood (48).  So this is a pretty big shift.  I also noticed there is no black celebrity this season, which surprised me, and the only Jewish representative is Handler, who is half Jewish and half Mormon (now there's an interesting combination).

But on to Kelly Clarkson, our first celebrity for this year.  She was the winner of the first season of American Idol in 2002 and has carved out a successful singing career.  She has won three Grammys, has had multiple songs go platinum, and sang at President Barack Obama's second inauguration.  In her description of herself, she said that she was very strong and that she stood up for what she wanted, which she had to get from someone in the family, which set the theme for the rest of the show.  She repeated it so many times during the episode I wondered if it was the only line she had memorized.  Admittedly, she is a singer, not an actress, but I found her to be very "fakey" throughout the episode.  Most of her lines seemed very strained.

Clarkson is engaged and decided it would be nice to learn about her past.  For the past two years her mother has been working on the family's genealogy, so she wanted to talk to her about what she has found already.  Her mother, Jeanne Ann Taylor, lives in North Carolina, but came to visit Clarkson in Nashville.  Clarkson asked Taylor why she had become interested in genealogy; Taylor said it was because she had had no connection to her family roots and wanted to know what kind of people her ancestors had been.  She told Clarkson she had found some things online and (of course) said to look on  She pointed Clarkson to the Rose family tree she has created.  The oldest ancestor on the tree was Isaiah Rose (1842–1916), Clarkson's third-great-grandfather.  Taylor told Clarkson that's where she should start.

Even though Taylor had already created the tree, and one would hope she had done some research to come up with her information (okay, maybe hope in vain), the first thing Clarkson did was look for Rose in the 1870 census.  Of course she found him:  He was 28 years old, living in Coal Run, Washington County, Ohio, working as a "coal diger" [sic].  Also in the household were Malissa (20 years old) and Leslie (1 year old).  Amazingly enough, she immediately commented that he would have been about the right age to be in the Civil War and noted that being from Ohio he probably would have been a Yankee.  At first she didn't sound happy about that, but her tone changed a little later and she said it was a relief that he would have been fighting for the Union and freedom.  When she looked for Rose in military records, she found him listed with two units, the 18th Ohio and the 63rd Ohio, both times as a private.  (She ignored the Isaiah Rose from Tennessee who fought for the Confederacy.)  She wondered why he was listed with two different units.  She and her mother decided the best place for her to start her research was in Ohio.

In Columbus, Ohio, Clarkson went to the Ohio Historical Society and met with Vonnie Zullo, a researcher who specializes in military records at the National Archives and Library of Congress — in other words, in Washington, D.C.  The compiled military service record (CMSR) of Isaiah Rose that Zullo showed Clarkson is stored at Archives I in DC.  As often happens, the location shoot was nothing but window dressing.

Zullo showed Clarkson the first card in the file, which indicated Rose had enlisted in October 1861.  Even though this was six months after the first shots of the Civil War had been fired, somehow Clarkson decided it was "right after" the war started.  She also said she just "had to know" why he would have "enrolled" (her word, not mine).  Zullo explained that there was a lot of patriotic feeling in Ohio because it had a long history of abolitionism and was an important part of the Underground Railroad.  She said it was one of the top three states for volunteers.  When Clarkson asked why Rose was in two different regiments, Zullo said that after he was mustered out of his first unit there was still a need for soldiers, so he could have re-enlisted to continue supporting the cause.  Then Zullo showed Clarkson a card (with the name spelled as Isaih Rose) that stated Rose had been taken prisoner after the Battle of Decatur.  Clarkson of course wanted to know what had happened, so Zullo told her she should go to Decatur and find out.  It's amazing how says that all you need to do is look on their Web site for all the information you need for your genealogy, but then they send people all over the world to find information that just doesn't happen to be on the site.

But Clarkson dutifully traveled to Decatur (just outside Atlanta), apparently by car, a trip of about eight and a half hours and almost 600 miles.  Maybe Clarkson doesn't like to fly?  At the DeKalb History Center she met with Timothy Orr of Old Dominion University.  Clarkson "caught him up" with what she knew about Rose (as if he didn't already know), and he explained how the Battle of Decatur was part of Sherman's Atlanta Campaign, which led to his March to the Sea.  He showed her a battlefield map indicating positions of Union and Confederate forces, to which Clarkson commented that the battle was "kind of" an important supply one.  Yeah (sigh).  So the Confederate cavalry came up behind the Unions lines and took several men prisoner.  The report of the battle indicated 31 men were missing, including Isaiah Rose.

Oh, but now relevent records were available on Ancestry again, so when Clarkson wanted to know what camp Rose was taken to as a prisoner, Orr said she should look online.  Clarkson went to Ancestry and said, "Let's see what comes up" (good heavens, who scripts this stuff?).  She found Rose listed in the Andersonville Prisoners of War database and that he was exchanged in Atlanta on September 19, 1864.  (Coincidentally, this same information is available for free on the National Park Service Web site, in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors database.  Unlike the entry on Ancestry, the CWSS site includes that Rose survived Andersonville.)  Orr told her that Andersonville had held 45,000 prisoners, to which her response was, "Wow!" (Sigh again.)  Orr said, "I'll ... see what I can find" in the way of original documents and sent Clarkson to Andersonville to get a feeling for what her ancestor's experience would have been like.

At the Andersonville National Historic Site Clarkson was met at the gates by Park Ranger Chris Barr.  He told her that the camp structures were mostly gone and that the gates themselves had been reconstructed, so practically nothing was actually left of the prison Rose had been held in.  The original Andersonville was a fenced-in stockade with no housing; prisoners made their own tents for shelter.  The prison was constructed to hold 10,000 men, but became home to 45,000.  (This number, given by both Orr and Barr, is actually misleading.  Over the course of its use Andersonville housed a total of 45,000 men, but not all at once.  According to one site, the maximum number of men there at one time was about 33,000, which is horrific enough that the presenters did not need to misrepresent the total.)

A former Andersonville prisoner named Robert H. Kellogg wrote a description of his experience at the camp from May 1864.  Clarkson read aloud a page of his book.  (Kellogg's book, Life and Death in Rebel Prisons, is available as a free download at Google Books.)  Orr showed Clarkson a photograph of an Andersonville prisoner who was barely skin and bones.  He told her that a swamp was within the camp confines and that many prisoners caught diseases while there.  Almost 13,000 prisoners died at Andersonville, making it the deadliest place of the Civil War.  Clarkson wanted to know how the prisoners left at the end of the war.  Barr showed her a record with a list of prisoners who escaped, which included Isaiah Rose.  He explained Rose probably ran away while he was in transit to a different prison.  Clarkson asked what happened then, but Barr said he didn't know.  Clarkson drove away from Andersonville, talking about how her discoveries had made her feel.  I was stunned to see that she drove past Andersonville National Cemetery and didn't say a single word about it; there wasn't even a caption on screen to identify it.

From Andersonville Clarkson headed back to the Atlanta area.  She met again with Timothy Orr, this time at the National Archives at Atlanta (actually in Morrow).  He had found Isaiah Rose's invalid pension file.  During his escape from Andersonville he had been wounded by friendly fire.  Someone in the 33rd Indiana had mistaken him for a Rebel and shot him in the left leg.  He had a 3" scar and a permanent disability.  Clarkson gave a tearful soliloquy about how Rose's legacy was four million people freed and the union kept together.  She had performed at Obama's inauguration, but he wouldn't been president if not for the Union winning the war.  This was another time she said she had to have come from a long line of people who were willing to stand up for what they believed.  They were great sentiments, but she just didn't deliver them believably.

Now Clarkson wanted to know what Rose had done after the war, so she went to Marietta, Ohio (the Washington County seat), where she met with Josh Taylor (who seems to have put on a little weight; I guess all of his success is going straight to his hips) at the Washington County Public Library.  Clarkson wondered if Rose's disability had affected his life.  Taylor had a folder about Rose.  An article from August 31, 1886 showed he had been elected to the position of county sheriff.  An article from the Marietta Daily Leader of November 8, 1905 congratulated Rose on being elected a state senator as a Republican (which Taylor explained was Lincoln's party) and included a photograph.  Clarkson's reaction?  "Oh my gosh."  And then she went on (again) about "how far back that strength came from" in her family.  Taylor suggested Clarkson go to the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to learn more about Rose's political career.

At the Ohio Statehouse Tom Pegram, a professor of history at Loyola University in Maryland, was waiting to meet Clarkson.  She explained he had "been doing research for me" (finally an honest comment!), but then asked if there was "any way to find out" more information.  (If there weren't, why would you be here?)  Anyway, Pegram said that newspapers had a lot of political commentary about Rose and his opinions on temperance.  (One of Pegrams's research focuses is the American temperance movement.)  Rose was firmly in favor of temperance and more regulation of saloons.  Clarkson called this a "hiccup in the ancestor department", her best comment during the episode.  When Pegram explained that the temperance movement also involved women's rights, because of the number of men who would come home drunk and beat their wives, Clarkson decided, "I'm glad he [Rose] was for women."  Rose backed a bill that would allow counties to regulate saloons more; the bill passed on February 27, 1908 and was signed by the governor.  Clarkson asked whether Rose, as a freshman senator (how in the world did she know that term?), had made enemies with his support of the temperance movement.  Pegram showed her an article from the Marion Weekly Star of November 11, 1908 which said that Rose had become a target of the liquor industry and had missed being re-elected by 32 votes.  To add insult to injury, the county bill was rescinded.

Lastly, Pegram showed Clarkson the book Washington County, Ohio to 1980, which had a section on the Isaiah Rose family.  It included a photo of the family and mentioned that Rose had died on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1916 and was buried in Round Bottom Cemetery.  Clarkson wanted to see where he was buried and said (again) this is "why I stand up for things, it's in my blood."  (Do her songs repeat a refrain this many times?)

At Round Bottom Cemetery, which is near Coal Run, Clarkson found the Rose family plot fairly easily.  She seemed genuinely excited to see all the names, including Isaiah's.  She talked to his stone and told him, "I'm your three times great-granddaughter."  (Now that's something I can empathize with.  When I visit cemeteries I always talk to the people I visit.  I remember going to the Jesuit cemetery in Santa Clara, California and having a nice half-hour discussion with Father John.)  As Clarkson left the cemetery she said, "I think everyone should do this.  Now it's back to Nashville to tell Mom what I've learned."

In Nashville there was a short wrap-up with Clarkson and her mother.  They talked about Rose being a pillar of strength and how they hadn't been connected with their families but now had learned about them.  And as a final chorus, Clarkson said, "It's in our blood."

I found this an underwhelming episode because of Clarkson's on-screen persona (even all of her hugs seemed scripted), but the research held together very well, which was great to see.  I was happy that did not air its horrible "you don't need to know what you're looking for" commercial, but the new "simply type in the name" isn't that much of an improvement.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Special Discovery in an Unexpected Place

The many books available from Arcadia Publishing are easy to overlook as sources of real family history information.  Arcadia is essentially a vanity press publishing house, where you provide a fully laid-out book that Arcadia then prints and distributes.  From what I have heard, authors are paid a flat fee.  They must adhere to specific production requirements that fit a formula -- set number of pages; maximum number of words in the introduction, per caption, overall.  The books rely primarily on older, copyright-free photos so that no royalties have to be paid.  No index is permitted.  Arcadia doesn't provide any editing; whatever you submit is what goes into print.  The quality can vary quite a bit from book to book.

I learned about these books when I picked up one about St. Paul, Minnesota at a used book store.  Some cousins on my mother's side settled in St. Paul, and I thought maybe their names might be in the book.  At the store I looked at the back of the book and discovered it didn't have an index, but it was marked down and affordable, so I splurged.  I read through the entire book and didn't find any of my relatives' names.  I did, however, create a name index for the book and uploaded it to Rootsweb, so at least other people would have the benefit of a finding aid.

That said, it is possible to find surprising gems in the books.  I was recently sent a two-for-one offer with free shipping, so decided to look around and see if something caught my eye.  I bought books on Mount Holly, New Jersey, where my grandmother's family and my grandfather were from, and East Orange, New Jersey, where most of my half-sister's mother's family was located.  When the books arrived I paged through the Mount Holly one, reading the names in every caption, hoping to find one I recognized.  The most I was expecting was perhaps a photo of a building that was identified as having belonged to an ancestor.

In the caption of a 1929 photograph of the Mount Holly High School Dramatic Club, I saw my father's oldest sister's name.  I wasn't sure if it was her, because I had never seen any photos of her from that period, so I did a quick scan of her face and sent it to my cousin.  At first she wasn't sure either, and I learned that she didn't have any photographs of her mother from when she was young.  Apparently the family didn't have a lot of money to spend on luxuries.  But we figured out it really was her mother, and now she has a photo and some information about her mother from when she was in high school.  I guess that coupon was a good investment.

Monday, July 22, 2013

New Links on the Wikipedia Newspaper Page

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Dr. Henry Snyder, who was the driving force behind the creation of the California Digital Newspaper Collection.  It was fascinating to hear the lengths he went to in collecting old newspaper collections to be digitized.  So I'm dedicating this newspaper update to him.

The latest additions to the Wikipedia page are a wide-ranging lot.  I'm happy to report that all of these new links are free!

• Canada:  The Oxford County (Ontario) Library has birth, marriage, and death indices for three Ingersoll newspapers, ranging from 1854–1970.  One of the newspapers has scanned images; the other two have transcriptions.
• France:  Information Juive (1948–1977) is a Jewish newspaper that has been added to the National Library of Israel site.  It's also listed under Israel.
• Hungary:  Helyi Lapok ("local cards" seems to be the literal translation) has newspapers from Esztergom and Pápai ranging from 1854–2007 (nonconsecutive years).
• Israel:  The Palestine Bulletin (1932–1950) was added to the National Library of Israel online collection of newspapers.  I have also cross-listed newspapers in the collection that were published in other countries under those countries, which created entries for Algeria, Egypt, and Morocco.
• Poland:  Der Moment is a Jewish newspaper that was published in Warsaw from 1910–1924.  It's another new addition from the National Library of Israel and is listed under Israel also.
• Russia:  Ha-'Am (1916–1918), published in Moscow, is also from the National Library of Israel.
• Illinois:  The Chicagoan (1926–1935) was a magazine modeled after the New Yorker.  The online collection is almost complete; if you happen to have one of the missing copies, I'm sure they'd like to hear from you!
• Oregon:  Four newspapers from The Dalles ranging from 1861–1948 have been added to the Historic Oregon Newspapers collection.
• Oregon:  The Northwest Heritage Index at the Wilsonville Public Library lists people and places, mostly from Clackamas County and other Oregon locations, and includes more than 16,000 obituaries from Canby newspapers covering more than 100 years.  The entire database has about 20,000 entries, and plans are to add more material.
• Virginia:  The Prince William County Public Library has digitized several newspapers from 1721–1986 (nonconsecutive years).
• Multistate:  Since Google changed the search interface for its News Archive, the archive hasn't been anywhere near as useful as it used to be, simply because it's harder to find articles.  I've updated the link to one that gives a listing of all the newspapers available through the archive.  The new link also has a basic search capability.

This isn't online, but it's an interesting item.  BBC is planning a drama about a World War I trench newspaper called The Wipers Times.  A British regiment found a printing press and created the newspaper to entertain themselves.  And "Wipers" was the way the British pronounced the Belgian city of Ypres.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thank you to the Napa Valley Genealogical Society

It was a beautiful day today in the San Francisco Bay area, perfect for taking a drive to the Napa Valley and the library of the Napa Valley Genealogical Society (NVGS).  There were two plates of yummy-scrumptious homemade chocolate cookie bars with walnuts and dried cherries (or maybe cranberries?) available for snacking (I think I had three).  And the meeting room was full of people (so full they had to bring in extra chairs) waiting to hear me talk about forensic genealogy.

This was a brand-new presentation, requested by NVGS this past February.  Carole, their programming person, had just heard about something called "forensic genealogy" and then found my name listed on the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy Web site as a member.  So the day I came to teach a class about methods to research women's maiden names, Carole asked if I could come back later in the year and talk to them about forensic genealogy.

Unlike most of my classes, this presentation was not about techniques on how to do research.  It focused on what forensic genealogy is -- "genealogical research, analysis, and reporting in cases with legal implications" -- how that affects the research process, and what types of research are most likely to fall into this category.  I also discussed some things that are called forensic genealogy that really aren't.  (Hint:  Neither "DNA" nor "scientific" means the same thing as "forensic.")

And I'm happy to say that everyone really enjoyed the talk, including me.  I had several interesting questions after the presentation, and I think everyone attending gained an appreciation for the unbiased, impartial approach a forensic genealogist has to bring to her work.

So thank you to NVGS for inviting me to speak!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday


Genealogy Research in San Francisco -- via BART!

Tank photo from the
"Mexican Expedition"
This is a slightly different take on research in San Francisco.  I'm going to approach it from the perspective of getting there.  I live in Oakland, which is on the other side of San Francisco Bay, so any research trip has to take into account getting across the water and into and out of San Francisco.  I love to drive, but I don't like driving in San Francisco.  The streets are narrow, parking is expensive and hard to find (especially near the research locations), and you have to pay a toll to cross the bridge just to get into the city.  So my preferred way to go to San Francisco is by BART!  And conveniently, BART can take you to some of the most important research locations in San Francisco.

The first stop on our BART research tour is Civic Center station.  If you exit the station by following the signs to 8th Street and then to Civic Center, you come out right across the street from the San Francisco Public Library and a mere two to three blocks from the Department of Public Health, City Hall, and Superior Court.

The San Francisco Public Library has two excellent research resources:  the San Francisco History Center and the Magazines and Newspapers Center.  The History Center, on the sixth floor of the library, is the official archive for San Francisco and has a wealth of information available.  There are Sanborn insurance maps for several years, a magnificant photograph collection, annual municipal reports dating back to the 1850's, vertical files with clippings on people and events, and a staff that really knows the holdings.  While you need to visit in person to see much of the material, more and more of it is being placed online, which not only makes it easier for researchers but also helps preserve the originals.  Online resources include a growing collection of the photographs, San Francisco city directories, the Sanborn maps, and a request service for obituaries.  At absolutely no charge, library staff will search San Francisco newspapers for obituaries for you, to a maximum of five requests per month.  If you want to search for yourself, or if you have more than five to look for, the Magazines and Newspapers Center on the fifth floor has microform for many San Francisco newspapers, indices for several newspapers, San Francisco and Oakland city directories and telephone books, and criss-cross directories with listings by street addresses.  Another benefit to going in person to the library is that any California resident can get a library card, which then allows you to use HeritageQuest, the historical San Francisco Chronicle, and the historical New York Times from the comfort of your home.

The Department of Public Health holds birth and death records for San Francisco County for the past three years.  In California anyone can purchase an informational copy of a birth or death certificate; these are marked clearly "not valid for identification" across the faces of the certificates.  And the information is all we need for research, right?

San Francisco City Hall has several offices that can be useful in your research.  The most commonly used are the County Clerk, which holds San Francisco County birth and death records older than three years, and the Assessor-Recorder, which has San Francisco County marriage licenses/certificates and property records.  For the County Clerk you need to know the name and date when you request your record; they don't have an index available.  The Assessor-Recorder has indices for both marriages and property records, so you can do your search on site if necessary.  I have also gone to the Tax Collector and the Small Business Center in search of records.

The Civil Division of San Francisco Superior Court handles probate, divorces, and lawsuits.  The records viewing room is where you head for research.  If you're looking for older records, you'll need to plan on two visits -- one to find a reference for your file, and the second to come back after it has been retrieved from storage (for which you pay a fee, by the way).  If you want to avoid a third visit, remember to bring a self-addressed stamped envelope with you the second time, because you can't get copies on the spot; you have to return the file and request your copies, and they'll be done within the next ten business days.  If you forget the envelope, you're coming back a third time to pick up the copies.

If by chance your research leads you to the seedier side of San Francisco history, the Civic Center station is also the closest one to the Criminal Division of the Superior Court.  This is a little bit more of a walk from BART, maybe fifteen minutes, and from the opposite end of the station.  Room 101 is where you go to look up records and request copies.  Listings for more recent cases are in the main room.  If you want to research older cases, you need to have permission to go into the office area, and you can plow through the old, musty, dusty ledgers.  As with the Civil Division, older files must be retrieved from storage, which can take up to a month, but there's no fee.  So plan on two visits.  I haven't done any research on recent cases, so I don't know if copies of those records can be obtained on your first visit.  I also haven't found any files that I needed copies of, so I don't know if they'll make the copies while you're there.

Our next BART stop for research is the Montgomery Street station.  Here you should follow the signs toward New Montgomery Street.  You'll exit just off New Montgomery.  Head down New Montgomery, turn right on Mission Street, and soon you will arrive at the California Historical Society.  Its library, which is focused solely on California, is open to researchers at no charge.  The collection includes directories, books, photographs, manuscripts, and ephemera such as letters, diaries, and business letterhead.  Of particularly interest are photographs of many San Francisco locations after the 1906 earthquake and fire.  If you are researching people who lived in San Francisco, I highly recommend looking here to see what they might have.

You can't quite get to Sutro Library using only BART.  You can either go to Embarcadero station and take Muni light rail (M line) to San Francisco State University at 19th Avenue and Holloway Avenue, or to Daly City station and take a #28 Muni bus to the same corner.  From the Muni stop it's a short walk onto the campus and to the library.

Sutro Library is the genealogical branch of the California State Library system and has the largest genealogy collection west of Salt Lake City.  It holds city directories, local and American history books, and many genealogy and family history books, along with a special collection of Adolph Sutro's rare books and manuscripts.  Among the items in the special collection are two psalters that belonged to King James I of England, a book of drawings from one of James Cook's voyages on the Endeavour, maps galore, Torah scrolls, photo books (including one from a "Mexican expedition" in 1916, which included the tank at the top of this post), Japanese paintings, and Mexican government publications detailings events in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Unlike the California Historical Society, it is not just about California!  And now that Sutro has a permanent location, the staff would love for people to come and use the facility.

One of the best research facilities we have available in this area is the local branch of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).  While it isn't actually in San Francisco (it's in San Bruno), its official name is the National Archives at San Francisco, so I'm including it here.  And it is reachable by BART!  Go to the San Bruno station and exit toward Tanforan mall.  Walk around the mall and cross El Camino Real at Commodore Drive, then continue down Commodore until you reach the Archives.  It's about a 20-minute walk.

This branch of the National Archives holds records from northern and central California; Nevada (except Clark County [Las Vegas]); Hawaii; American Samoa; Guam; the Marshall, Caroline, and Northern Mariana Islands; and U.S. Navy bases on foreign territory in the Pacific and Far East.  Along with censuses, ship manifests, ship log books, and naturalizations, there are records from the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (Freedmen's Bureau), Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Federal Aviation Administration, among many others.  There are also genealogy workshops offered.  The Archives has a so much information, and a staff that wants to help you discover information.  This is your tax dollars at work -- use it!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

More Opportunities to Help

I posted recently about several projects that were looking for input and/or help from other people.  Maybe it's something about summer?  But here are more requests for family-history-related projects.  You might have information that can help.

You probably have heard of Maureen Taylor's The Last Muster, the first book of photographs of Americans who lived during the American Revolutionary War.  (Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure my Revolutionary War ancestor never had his photograph taken.)  Volume 2 of The Last Muster is due to be released soon, and a movie is being planned also.  But Maureen is now searching for images of Loyalists -- those individuals living in the American colonies who sided with the British and went to Canada.  If you have a photo of an ancestor who moved to Canada as a Loyalist, contact Maureen at  If you're not sure whether your ancestors were Loyalists, checking this list of Loyalist settlements in Canada might help.

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The Belzec Memorial Museum is gathering information about people who were killed in the death camp at Belzec.  It is part of the "Every Victim Has a Name" project and of the museum's cooperation with international institutions that conduct research into the Holocaust.  The victims of Belzec were not anonymous, as the Nazis wished them to be.  The project will help restore the victims' names, and the stories of their lives will become part of the museum's educational activities.  If you can help by contributing names and/or stories, please contact Ewa Koper at or, and put "Every Victim Has a Name" as the subject.

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The Mt. Washington (New Hampshire) Auto Road is trying to identify the stage coach drivers in a photograph they believe dates to before 1900.  If you have an ancestor who drove stage coaches in New Hampshire, they are hoping you will recognize one of the men in the photo.  You can read some of what is known about the photo here; contact information for Mt. Washington Auto Road is included in the story.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Can You Help with Any of These Projects?

I don't know if it's something about the time of year, but recently several messages looking for contributions to projects have come through my inbox.  In the spirit of spreading the word, look through these and see if there's anything you can help with.

The Red Star Line Museum will open in Antwerp, Belgium, on September 28, 1913.  The Red Star Line, which brought more than 2 million immigrants to the United States between 1873 and 1934, was a joint operation between the United States and Belgium.  It had ports in Antwerp, Philadelphia, New York City, Liverpool, and Southampton.  The museum's main exhibit will simulate the immigration experience.  Currently the museum is seeking photographs of passengers who traveled on Red Star Line ships to the U.S.

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The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance is conducting a survey to assess user experiences at institutions that hold Holocaust-related material, with the goal being to improve access for all users.  The assessment is the first of five phases of the Multi-Year Work Plan on Archival Access, which will look at access conditions for Holocaust materials held in archives.  The survey is available in English, French, German, and Russian.  If you have researched Holocaust-related material, please complete the survey.  The goal is to receive a minimum of 1,000 responses.

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In an interesting but very sad story, a woman who died in Texas in 2010 was discovered to have created a false identity for herself about 20 years earlier in the Pacific Northwest.  She left few clues behind, and they tell only a small part of the story.  The Social Security Administration investigator who started the research and the reporter who wrote about the woman for the Seattle Times are pretty much stuck and are looking for any clues to who "Jane Doe" really was.  They even had a live chat (transcribed online) recently about the case.  It looks like all the documents they have found are online with the stories.

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If you have expertise in German research, the German Historical Institute is looking for authors for biographical essays on 18th- and 19th-century German-American entrepreneurs for its Immigrant Entrepreneurship Project.  It is paying honoraria to authors for completed and edited articles of up to 8,000 words on the following individuals:
• Claude Boettcher, manufacturing, Boettcher & Company, Denver, Colorado
• Lewis Gerstle, shipping, Alaska Commerce Company, San Francisco
• Solomon Gump, musical instruments, S&G Gump, San Francisco
• Emil Horst, agriculture, E. Clemens Horst Company/Horst Hop Ranch, Sacramento
• Charles Ilfeld, retail, Charles Ilfeld Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico
• Charles Kohler, wine, Kohler & Frohling, Sonoma, California
• Augustus Kountze, finance, Colorado National Bank, Denver, Colorado
• Michael (Henry) Rengstorff, land development, Mountain View, California
• Abraham Rosenberg, fruit, Rosenberg Brothers & Company, San Francisco
• Ludwig Sloss, food, Louis Sloss & Company, San Francisco
• Adolph Sutro, metals, Sutro Metallurgical Works, San Francisco
• Anthony Zellerbach, paper, Zellerbach Paper Company, San Francisco

For more information about the essays and the candidates, and to learn which essays are still needed, contact Benjamin Schwantes at the German Historical Institute.

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Lewis Hine was a photographer hired in 1908 by the National Child Labor Committee to photograph child workers as part of the committee's efforts to end child labor.  The aim of the photography project was to bring the plight of the children to the attention of influential people.  Over the next ten years Hine photographed more than 5,000 children.

Historian Joe Manning is now researching the children in the photos and telling their stories, often to family members who had no idea their ancestors worked in such conditions.  Hine identified most of the children he photographed, but eight individuals have remained elusive.  Manning's Mystery Photos page has photos of the unidentified or inadequately identified people.  Anyone with information is invited to contact Manning.