30 June 2011

Learning about Using the 1940 Census

Here is the latest announcement from Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub of One-Step Research fame about using the 1940 Census when it becomes available next Spring:

    "In less than 10 months the 1940 US Population Schedules will become public. It will not be name indexed, so it will be necessary to do an address search in order to find families. Address searching involves knowing the ED (enumeration district) in which the address is located. The National Archives (NARA) earlier this year indicated they had plans to make available in 2011 the 1940 ED maps of cities and counties, and ED descriptions, but their recent move to consider having a 3rd party host all the images may have appreciably set back this timetable.    

 "The only website that currently has location tools for the 1940 census is the Steve Morse One Step site (http://stevemorse.org). There are several such tools there, and it could be overwhelming to figure out which tool to use when. There is a tutorial that attempts to clarify it (http://stevemorse.org/census/intro.html) and an extensive FAQ (http://stevemorse.org/census/faq.htm).

    "We are announcing the opening of another educational utility to help people learn about the different 1940 locational search tools on the One Step site, and information about the 1940 census itself. It is in the form of a quiz, and should help many, many genealogists quickly learn how to search an unindexed census by location. The new utility is at:http://stevemorse.org/census/quiz.php and is called “How to Access the 1940 Census in One Step”. Not only is it informative, we hope it is entertaining.

    "Thanks. Joel Weintraub & Steve Morse"

We should be the ones giving "thanks." The utility is very informative and should help us all in understanding what is necessary to work with the 1940 Census next year when it is released by NARA.

29 June 2011

History Detectives Launches New Season

  Well, I caught the second episode of History Detectives last night (Tuesday, June 28). I happened to discover it by chance while flipping through the show guide on my Time-Warner cable box. This morning, when I decided to check out the website for the series (http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/), I learned that the current season launched a week ago. My bad.
  The new episode involved a WWII propaganda leaflet written in Japanese, which was deciphered during the show and the creator discovered. Also a cherished family heirloom, a watercolor, is linked to Tiffany stained glass, was researched, and a nephew and a son of two Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War were united. As always, the research was well-presented and held my interest.
  The segment on the Spanish Civil War featured an interview with a veteran of that conflict who turned out to be a Finn-American. He joined on the Republican side because of the idealism instilled in him by his mother, who had immigrated from Finland.
  At the conclusion of the show, there was a short segment with instructions on how to research family history.
  History Detectives airs Tuesdays at 8/7c starting June 21st on most PBS stations.


28 June 2011

Bedford Historical Society Has Resources for Genealogists

  Last evening, I paid a visit to the Bedford Historical Society in Bedford, Ohio. My objective was genealogical in nature, but before we get into that, here is some background info offered by the organization's website:
  "The Bedford Historical Society was founded in 1955 to collect, preserve and interpret the history of Bedford, Bedford Township, and portions of the Western Reserve. 
  "It is a member of the American Association of Museums, The Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums, The Ohio Historical Society, The National Trust and the Northeast Ohio Inter-Museum Council.
  "The holdings of the Bedford Historical Society are listed with the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Archival information is available to researchers locally, nationally and internationally." 
  I had heard about the society over the years, but hadn't visited until last night. My specific purpose was to learn what might be available about a resident and his family between 1840 and 1900. I had done extensive research on this family on Ancestry.com and other local and national websites, but I wanted to see if more info was available. 
  The answer is yes there is--and it is well organized for the researcher. For example, the society has compiled indexes to many of their holdings, such as  burial records for the Bedford Cemetery, justice of the peace court dockets, and family history books. So I regard the trip as worthwhile and I will visit again soon!
  The society maintains its library and museum in the former Bedford City Hall. Here are some of the features of the museum:   The Abraham Lincoln and Civil War Room contains a historical collection of over 700 books, plus periodicals, pamphlets,other documents, portraits and artifacts on our 16th president. It also includes books on the Civil War era from both the Union and Confederate points of view with special emphasis on Ohio's role. Book publication dates range from the 1860s onward. The room also has a collection of Lincoln portraits, models, weaponry, camp equipment and other effects.
  There is an area devoted to memorabilia of Archibald Willard, the artist from Norwalk, Ohio, who created the famous painting, "The Spirit of '76." 
Many historical maps of Bedford and the surrounding area are on display, as are artifacts, furniture, and clothing items from the city's 200-year history.
  Check out the society's website at http://www.bedfordohiohistory.org/index.php for more information.

26 June 2011

Brecksville Bicentennial Recognizes Pioneer Families

Well, this project is over and it was a lot of fun. I met many descendents of the Brecksville Pioneer Families who came to the four-day Brecksville Home Days on June 23-26. It was enjoyable to put faces with names as we registered those descendents who attended and presented them with Pioneer Families ribbons. Many of the families held reunions during the Home Days celebration, with family members attending from as far away as California.
Working on behalf of the Cuyahoga Valley Genealogical Society (www.cuyahogagenealogy.org) and with the Brecksville Historical Association (http://www.brecksville.oh.us/about_town/bha/historic.htm), I was able to identify 30 Pioneer Families who settled in Brecksville between 1811 and 1836. In addition to arriving here in the first 25 years of Brecksville Township, they had to remain in the township and to have children (obviously, if they didn't have children, there would be now descendents). We used 1820 and 1830 Census records, cemetery records, and local and county history books to identify the Pioneers.
At Home Days, CVGS and BHA shared a booth, and we enjoyed working together to present information about the history of Brecksville and to pass out some tips on family history research. For CVGS, we took names of people who are interested in learning about the programming that will resume in September. BTW, the group meets in the Civic Center of the City of Independence on the first Monday of each month September through June (except for September when the meeting is the second Monday because of Labor Day).

14 June 2011

Neel: Welcome to the Dead People's Society

That was the provocative title of the talk given by Tom Neel at the annual dinner of the Cuyahoga Valley Genealogical Society last evening (Monday, 13 Jun, 2011). Neel is the library director of the Ohio Genealogical Society, and he was sharing some of the fruits of his many years of research into the death records of his ancestors.

Of course, he talked about the usual sources of death information: death certificates, family bibles, newspaper reports and obituaries, probate records, funeral memory booklets and cards, military records and pension applications, and deeds. 

But he also talked about some unusual sources of death information: Mortality schedules compiled in conjunction with the censuses of 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 that survive for many areas of Ohio; physicians' journals; letters from and about the deceased; coroner's inquest files, insurance and worker compensation claims, newspaper reports about legal actions following a death, guardianships, hospital records, and burial flag applications.

For many people, it probably would have been a boring presentation, but for a roomful of genealogists, it was very much a "lively" topic. I know I got some ideas of where to look for more information about my ancestors.

After the presentation, OGS Trustee Margaret Chaney conducted a swearing-in ceremony for the new CVGS officers: Ron Kraine, president; Frances Pickett, vice president; Paula Berghauser, recording secretary; Barbara Schworm, corresponding secretary; and Ruth Pawlowski, treasurer. Donald Kozlowski is immediate past president.

New Woodland Cemetery Monument to Honor Black CW Veterans

I learned some Civil War history this morning (14 Jun 2011) while reading an article on the front page of the Metro section of The Plain Dealer.

First of all, I learned that many African-Americans from Cleveland served in the Union Army during the Civil War. And that most had to go to Massachusetts to volunteer, because Ohio didn't have any black regiments until later in the war.

I also learned that a total of 86 black Civil War veterans are buried in Cleveland's Woodland Cemetery, and that even more are buried in various cemeteries throughout the area. These CW vets are largely unrecognized--even in the  Soldiers & Sailors Monument on Cleveland's Public Square. But that is about to change. The volunteer Woodland Cemetery  Foundation is working to erect a monument recognizing their service. And the Soldiers & Sailors Monument is studying how to honor many of them as well.

The Johns-Carabelli Co., a local monument maker, is donating the stone and will inscribe it with  the names of the vets buried in Woodland Cemetery. That's worth about $5,000. The Woodland Cemetery Foundation is raising the remaining few hundred dollars to pay for the monument's foundation.

The cemetery also has monuments honoring two Ohio regiments from Cleveland: the 7th and the 23rd, as well as a third monument dedicated to all Union soldiers.

For more information about the Woodland Cemetery Foundation and its work, go to www.wcfcle.org.

Display the Stars and Stripes on Flag Day (June 14)

Today is Flag Day. It's not a holiday where we get a day off from work, or have picnics, or go to special sales. It's just a day to honor the symbol of our country -- the U.S. Flag.

June 14 became Flag Day in 1916 but it didn't receive an official Congressional designation until 1949, making it one of our newer observances. It's a day that we all should fly our national flag.

It's appropriate on this day to call attention to the rules for displaying the flag properly. If displayed on a pole with other flags, it should be uppermost. When displayed on a staff in a meeting room, it should be to the speaker's right on the podium. If other flags are displayed in the same room, they should be on the speaker's left. When placed on a wall, the flag should be displayed with the union uppermost and to the observer's left. Finally, if you wear a flag pin, it should be on your lapel on the left (near the heart).

There are Internet sources for more information on our flag's history and on flag etiquette. Go to  americanflags.org, the Web site of the National Flag Foundation; legion.org, the Web site of the American Legion; or vfw.org, the Web site of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

13 June 2011

The Book of Mormon Wins Tony Awards

I was amazed to learn while watching the Tony Awards special on CBS last evening that there was a new musical on Broadway called "The Book of Mormon." I was even more amazed to see the number of awards it garnered during the program, including the big one: Best Musical. “The Book of Mormon” also collected Tony statuettes for original score, book, orchestrations, set design, sound design, lighting, direction and featured actress (Nikki M. James).

Why mention this in a blog about genealogy and family history? It's because the Book of Mormon is a key document in the teachings of The Church of the Latter Day Saints, and the LDS is a major factor in facilitating family history research through its FamilySearch.org arm.

What's the show about? One capsule of the show's storyline says that "The Book of Mormon" centers on two young Mormon missionaries sent off to spread the word in a dangerous part of Uganda. Their tale is told alongside the story of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Latter-day Saints.

“Growing up in Colorado, a lot of our friends were Mormons and we always thought their book would make a great musical,” Parker and Stone said in a statement before the show's opening. “We loved Avenue Q and are having a blast working with Bobby Lopez. Having a show on Broadway is a dream come true for us.”

Based on the body of work of Parker and Stone, it's safe to say--without seeing the show--that it is satirical in nature.

To find out more about the Broadway show, I did some Google research this morning. I learned that it is a collaboration between the creators of the television series "South Park," Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and "Avenue Q" composer Robert Lopez, that it launched at the end of February, and that it has has been playing to mixed, but mostly positive, critical reviews.

I like some musical productions, but I don't think I will pay good money if a touring company ever brings "The Book of Mormon" to Cleveland's Playhouse Square. That reaction is based on the production number from the musical that was included in the three-hour awards program. I simply didn't see--or hear--what leads New York audiences to shell out really big bucks (as much as $200 per seat) to see this show.

As for the LDS Church, the official position statement issued in February was short and sweet: "The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ."