30 January 2009

The Texas Slavery Project.

As we approach Black History Month, which is celebrated in February, the online and offline activities to celebrate black history connections are burgeoning.

The Texas Slavery Project examines the spread of slavery into the border areas between the U. S. and Mexico from 1820-1850. The government of Mexico was trying outlaw slavery in Texas. This was a big reason that part of the settlers rebelled and established the Republic of Texas. From 1836 to 1845, slaveholders from the American South poured into this new nation between the borders of the United States and Mexico.

The Project includes a statistical database that, while not showing names of either slaves or owners, is still enlightening. Maps show the growth of both the slaves and slaveholders over time. I found the changing clusters of slavery fascinating. You can do this by moving the timeline at the bottom of the page.

A variety of digitized original documents give a first-hand glimpse, feelings, and the activity of the time period in early Texas. It is the history of more than the slavery of the area. The documents include some early newspapers. It was chilling to read of the offering of a woman and her three-year old child for sale, of free slaves being denied entry into Texas by law or facing fines and forced slavery, and of rewards being offered for the return of runaway slaves. Some slaves, slaveowners, and business owners are mentioned by name in the newspaper abstracts. A 23 February 1830 letter in the papers of James Perry, brother-in-law to Stephen F. Austin, names the slaves James was receiving from his brother Samuel.

29 January 2009

Columbia University Alumni and the Military

I noted this on a list I read almost every day:

Archives & Special Collections at the Columbia University Health Sciences Library is pleased to announce the addition to its web site of the "College of Physicians & Surgeons Civil War Veterans List."

The list contains the names, ranks, military units, and dates of service of 406 Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons alumni who served in the Civil War (398 Union, 8 Confederate). It is an Excel document and I opened it easily. The website explains the resources from which the info was compiled.

The Archivist, Jennifer McGillan, also compiled a list of other Columbia alumni who died in the service of their country in various wars. This searchable list is titled the Columbia University War Memorial.

27 January 2009

January 27, 1967 Apollo I

This is a day I remember vividly. I was waiting for a good friend, Helene Liebe, to pick me up to go to a dance at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul. [now University of St. Thomas.] My parents' had company, their good friends Don and Patty Sheehan. We just stared at the TV screen as the story of a horrible tragedy played out. Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee perished in a fire during a test of the Apollo I spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center. Smoke was first noticed at 6:31 p.m. At age 19, I imagine the whole impact did not hit me immediately. But, I recall the events of that evening clearly as if they occurred yesterday.

24 January 2009

Dream Place: Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

I have always found happiness in sharing details about libraries, historical societies, and archives with my readers whether via this blog, magazines, journals, or other online sites. I also have lists of research places I hope to visit some day. Being able to search catalogs, inventories, and other finding aids online as well as print guides on the manuscript holdings of such places has added to my "future travel" lists. I thought I would share info about some of these places and what they hold that might be useful to other genealogists.

One place is the University of California, Berkeley's Bancroft Library which recently reopened and has now brought back many collections that were stored at other UCB buildings. Some collections are still stored elsewhere and it is vital to read the library's website and make advance contact with the library before visiting. This way it is also possible to arrange your visit to conincide with the availability of a staff member familiar with the records you wish to use. The site has an online form to request such collections before your visit.

A separate page on the website has a list of items that pertain to Biography and Genealogy but the library has so much more that pertain to family history and community history. Among the items that should be useful are newspapers and indexes, diaries, journals, letters, personal papers (including some family history/genealogy materials), organizational and business records, 1897-99 timebook for Sierra Railroad employees, oral histories, lumber and mining company records, and much more.

Check out some of the collections via the Online Archive of California (OAC). Do an advanced search using various key words and limit the search to the Bancroft Library.

21 January 2009

Sources and Brackets

I have been in Salt Lake City for two weeks for a variety of reasons. As I have researched at the Family History Library, two pet peeves keep cropping up. In reality, these should not be regarded as pet peeves, rather as missing or erroneous information in record compilations. I have looked at abstracts and transcriptions of many records including cemetery, probate, marriage, and obituaries. Whenever possible, I also view the original record on microfilm if it is available at the FHL.

It isn't always possible to tell where the information came from, i.e., was it from another publication, a family file, personal knowledge, from a record book or microfilm at the courthouse, state archive, or a FHL film?

The other item is the misuse of parentheses when doing transcribing or abstracting. If you add some details from personal knowledge or other sources to the information being transcribed or abstracted, brackets [ ] should be used to enclose such explanatory or additional details. Use the parentheses ( ) if it occurs in the original record.

Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly appreciate all the work that goes into such projects, but just wish some parts were a bit easier to understand.

19 January 2009

March 28th, 2009, Kalamazoo, Michigan

I will be presenting a full-day seminar on March 28th for the Kalamazoo Valley Genealogical Society at Western Michigan University's Fetzer Center in Kalamazoo. The day begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 4:00 p.m. The day includes genealogical vendors and door prizes and a deli buffet lunch. For full details and registration info visit the KVGS website.

The lectures:

NUCMC & its Cousins: Keys to Lost Ancestral Records
One of the important aids since 1962 is the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections and its modern, searchable cousins. Some researchers assume that finding valuable manuscript collections is not possible. Through visuals the lecture relates the wide variety of materials to be found and the steps to find them.

Tho’ They Were Poor, They May Have Been Rich in Records
Visuals will demonstrate the extensive information which may be found. The examples span many states and time periods and both private organizations and government agencies at many levels. The family details included will astound you.

Organizing Your Genealogical Materials
How many rooms are your papers in? How tall are the stacks of your research papers? This session will help you deal with these questions, and also present easy tips to help keep you organized day-to-day.

Finding Ancestral Places of Origin
Still looking for your ancestral places of origin? This lecture shares records and research strategies which may help you identify that place whether in the U.S. or in another country.

16 January 2009

The Salt Lake Institute Wraps Up for 2009.

I am back blogging. The past two weeks have been a blur -- but a good blur. The first week was the prepping for teaching at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy that ended today. The end of SLIG is always a mixed feeling -- happy to be finished and sad to leave all the wonderful students. Course I, an intermediate American records class is the one I coordinate. It includes 17 hours of class room time and 6 hours in the Family History Library for one-on-one consultations and assistance. What an amazing group of people in Course I. Next January I will be back at SLIG. I agreed to once again coordinate the course. Many people have already indicated they will be back next year for Course I which offers different lectures in alternating years. Two of this year's students and I have to figure out if we have common ancestors on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. Networking in full force.

I also presented lectures in the Gulf South, Skillbuilding, and Beyond the Library courses. The students in those were also great. These were coordinated by J. Mark Lowe, CG, Thomas Jones, CG, PhD, and John P. Colletta, PhD. Someone encouraged his students to tell me to stand up when I lecture! Russ Lynch was the one to tell me and a Mr. Mark Lowe was the instigator. I can't help that I am height challenged! I share this to tell you that while SLIG is a great place for learning and networking, there are also many light moments.

Watch the Utah Genealogical Association website for details on the 2010 Institute.

01 January 2009

It is truly 2009!

On many message boards, websites, and other places I keep hearing Happy New Year and best hopes for a better 2009. I second those comments. 2008 has been a tough year around the world. In genealogy we have had some good things happen. More and more people are tracing their family tree. Now we need to draw them to our genealogical society meetings, seminars, and publications. I love the online free and fee-based databases, indexes, and digitized images. Savvy genealogists know there are still millions of documents in courthouses, archives, libraries, and manuscript collections to be discovered. If you hear from a friend or relative that is interested in tracing their family tree, encourage them to attend meetings, seminars, and conferences on a local, state, and/or national level. Let them know about the fantastic reference books written and published by our fellow family historians. Let them know how important the education is for doing better work on their family history.

Be sure they understand the importance of writing where a document or image came from -- and write that directly on the piece of paper or add it to their genealogy software database. More positive things will be on our genealogy "to do" lists and calendars in 2009. I wish you all the best in your individual, family, business, and family history life in 2009.