Thursday, September 29, 2011

Research Tip : Great Migration Series Best Reference For Early New Englanders

The final volume of The Great Migration : Immigrants to New England 1634-1635 has just been released and the Local History Collection has received it's copy as a result of a Buy-A-Book gift of Judith Huber Halseth of Paw Paw.

Robert Charles Anderson
Volume VII of the second series includes families whose surnames begin with T-Y (apparently there were no Z's) and rounds out the series begun in 1999 by Robert Charles Anderson and published by the Great Migration Project of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Prior to that, a three-volume set was published entitled The Great Migration Begins : Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, also by Mr. Anderson in 1995.

Researchers will want to add these series to their Reference arsenal and consult them first when researching colonial families from these eras.  As stated in the preface, "The goal of the Great Migration Study provide a concise, reliable summary of past research on the early immigrants to New England, which will reduce the amount of time which must be spent in discovering this past work, and will therefore serve as a foundation for future research."

The first step toward attaining this goal was to identify all Europeans who settled in New England in the 1620-1633 and 1634-1635 time periods.  Meticulous care was taken to consult as many records types as could be located such as:  passenger lists, freemen lists, colony, court & town records, vital & church records, land holdings, journals & letters, book & periodic publications, and other miscellaneous items. 

Every attempt was made to establish key pieces of information regarding each subject:
  1. Origin
  2. Date & vessel of migration
  3. First residence
  4. Occupation
  5. Church membership
  6. Freemen listings
  7. Officeholding
  8. Birth, Death & Marriage
  9. Education
  10. Estate
  11. Removal from area
  12. Associations to other immigrants
  13. Children (listing each by name with brief vitals for each when known)
  14. Comments (discussion about conclusions drawn and conflicting evidence)
  15. Bibliographic Notes
Of course, all information is thoroughly cited as to from where it was gathered, creating a fabulous bibliography of sources.  Each volume has two indexes, one by surname and one by first name [something you don't see very often]. 

Thanks to the continuing gifts of Dr. Halseth, the Local History Collection houses both complete series of The Great Migration.  Researchers may view the sets anytime during the department's regular business hours.  For more information about visiting the library or the Buy-A-Book Project, please contact us.

Nameless Picture of the Day
 Street Scene, Pullman [Lee Township, Allegan County]
Postcard published by Geo. K. Taylor

Can you identify the buildings in this photo?  Are any of them still standing?  Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Upcoming Event : Getting the Most From Ancestry & Intro to World Vital Records, October 3

Many users of and Ancestry Library Edition are not getting the full value from their time spent searching on these sites.  Why is that?  Because the first instinct for all of us is to start plugging in names and see what quick results we can find. 

Instant gratification is great, but what if I told you that you are likely missing a large portion of useful information simply because you aren't aware of alternative search methods and seemingly hidden content within the site?

I am pleased to present Getting the Most Out of Ancestry, a lecture with live internet examples, designed to assist users in ferreting out more information.  Plan to attend this free public program sponsored by the Van Buren District Library Bangor Branch, Monday, October 3, 2011, at 6 p.m. 

It comes to mind that the premise of this topic parallels the Tim Taylor philosophy of "more power" on the popular Home Improvement series.  It just takes a little tweaking...The same applies to successful genealogical web searching.

During the lecture, we will discuss:
  1. Search Strategies
  2. Why Searches Don't Yield Expected Results
  3. Components of the View Image & View Records pages
  4. Navigating the Search Page (not the Home Page)
  5. A Breakdown of the Major Record Types
  6. Tips
The last portion of the evening will be spent giving a brief introduction to World Vital Records, an up-and-coming online genealogical subscription database with free access through the Van Buren District Library. 

Pre-registration for Getting the Most Out of Ancestry is required due to limited seating.  Contact the Bangor Branch Library to make your reservation or with questions.

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown woman wearing tiara
Photographer - Bradley, Buchanan

Can you identify the woman in this photo?  Are you familiar with the photographer's name?   Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New on the Shelf : Berrien County Naturalization Extracts

Brand new to the Local History Collection is Berrien County, Michigan, Index to Naturalizations, compiled by Norbert Cramer of Portage, formerly of St. Joseph. 

These record extracts came to the library has a gift of Mr. Cramer, in the form of a database totaling 31,213 records.  A hard-copy has been printed for use as a book, and the database has been added to the Local History Master Index.   At this time, the index is available only in the Local History Collection.

In addition to indexing those individuals who applied for or who were naturalized, Norbert has included spouses & children as they are mentioned.  The listings are actually more than an index, extracting the following information about each individual:
  1. Name
  2. Date of Birth
  3. Place of Birth
  4. Port of Embarkation
  5. Port of Arrival
  6. Date of Arrival
  7. Vessel (Ship)
  8. Source information (Liber & Page)
As an example, August Wiek, who was born October 10, 1893 in Kolish, Poland, boarded the ship "Cammets" from Bremen, Germany, and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, April 9, 1913, original petition for naturalization located in Liber 8 Page 7.

For information about how to view or request copies of the original naturalization records, contact the Berrien County Clerk. 

Mr. Cramer is also the sole contributor to the Michiana Genealogical Index (MGI), an index of over a million names from 60 sources from Southwest Michigan and Northern Indiana.  His work on the MGI began in the 1970's, and later he designed his own DOS program for the project and continues it today. 

Even if you don't suspect that there is a naturalization record for your Berrien County ancestor, or if you "believe" that they were naturalized elsewhere, it may be a good idea to consult the Berrien County, Michigan, Naturalization Index.  Researchers may view the index anytime during Local History regular business hours.  Contact us with any questions.

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown boy
Photographer - W. H. Blair, Allegan

Can you identify the boy in this photo?  Are you familiar with the photographer's name?   Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Upcoming Event : 54th Michigan Book & Paper Show, September 25

Attention book & paper collectibles lovers!  It's time for the 54th Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show, Sunday, September 25, 2011, held at the Lansing Center, Lansing, Michigan, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Touted as the "Midwest's Largest Book and Paper Show," the 180+ tables of goodies range from rare books, maps, cookbooks, art, Michigan history, postcard & trading cards, music and much more.  The event is sponsored by the Mid-Michigan Antiquarian Book Dealers Association and has been a semi-annual special event for years.

Visit the website of the Curious Book Shop for more information including a show guide.  For those coming from out of town, view the area map at Google Maps.  Admission is $4.50 per adult, children 13 and under are free. 

Although the event is not specific to any one interest, there is certainly plenty for the historian.  In the past, I've had some great unexpected finds that have been purchased for the Local History Collection.  Those included some telephone & city directories, and some rare local history titles.  The beauty of a large event such as this, is that you don't have any idea what you run across.  My kingdom for unlimited time and a bulging wallet...

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown woman
Photographer - Myers, Marcellus

Can you identify the woman in this photo?  Are you familiar with the photographer's name?   Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Research Tip : Use of Checklists to Enhance Family History Research (Part 3)

In Parts 1 & 2, we discussed the General Source checklist and the basic Online checklist.  The third part is actually more of a method rather than a checklist, but you will no doubt develop a list of websites and books that will assist you in this step.

Your research is not complete until you've done a "locality focus."  In other words, you need to target the main geographic areas of your research and educate yourself on their resources.  During this process you will incorporate items from the first two checklists, but the main objective is to seek out all of those places, i.e. libraries, archives, museums, organizations, etc., that may have unique material in their collections.

When targeting an area, consult at least the following resources:
  1. WorldCat 
  2. U.S. GenWeb Project  
  3. Genealogist's Address Book (now up to its 6th edition)
  4. Linkpendium
  5. Cyndi's List of Genealogy Websites
  6. Family History Library Catalog
  7. Library of Congress Online Catalog
  8. New England Historic Genealogical Society Catalog
  9. Allen County Public Library Catalog
  10. National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC)
  11. Printed bibliographies
Numbers 1, 6, 7, 8 & 9 serve as tools to help identify what may be available for a given geographic location.  For example, when searching for everything available for pre-1875 in Ontario County, New York, I entered that county into the Subject searches of each of those catalogs (with the Family History Center there is actually a Place Search).  Along with those search terms you can add a word like "history", "genealogy", or "records", to filter out those hits that have nothing to do with family history.   From these results, you will be able to compile a list of things to pursue, either by viewing them in person, ordering them on inter-library loan, looking for an online presence, or making contact with the appropriate institution.

The U.S. GenWeb Project and The Genealogist's Address Book are the first places to go when looking for information regarding research facilities or collections in an area.  In many cases, you will find the collection holder's name & contact information with some links to websites.  This step can't be over-emphasized.  During two of my own book projects, this step led me to some fantastic unpublicized collections.  When earlier this year my focus turned to Lenawee County, Michigan, this method led me to one of the most exciting museum archives I've ever seen, one that was only identified online as a historical society collection without many details. 

Items 4 & 5 are online yellow pages and should be used in tandem.  Both are designed to categorize websites by subject & geographic region, and both are unique in their content.

NUCMC (pronounced "nuckmuck") is an effort by the Library of Congress to identify manuscript collections around the nation.  A manuscript is defined as a book or document, many times hand-written, that has not been published and often one-of-a-kind.  Manuscripts tend to be the hardest things to locate as they are undercataloged and tucked away in corners, protected but often inaccessible.  If located, manuscripts can be very useful and provide the researcher with solid primary source materials.

The last item on the list, Printed Bibliographies, is also a great way to locate those rare and hard-to-locate items.  Materials on these lists can be in a variety of forms including books, microform, periodicals, manuscripts, official records, and audio-visuals.  Where to look for Printed Bibliographies?  Seek them out online & in collections using some of the above methods.  Many times they are printed in books or in genealogical periodicals.  Some libraries/archives have them as a free pamphlet.  And, don't forget those WPA Inventories done during the 1930's & 1940's.

This winds up the series on research checklists, but I hope I've convinced you to pursue a "seek & find" philosophy for your research.  Develop your own checklists, use them & add to them.  This method won't guarantee answers to every question, but will allow a feeling that you've looked "almost" everywhere.

Nameless Picture of the Day
unknown man with bicycle
Photographer - J. W. Rhodes, Mendon
Can you identify the man in this photo?  Are you familiar with the photographer's name?   Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Research Tip : Use of Checklists to Enhance Family History Research (Part 2)

                        Courtesy of
In Part 1 (September 6th post), we discussed the types of things that might appear in your General Sources Checklist.  When I created my list in 1995, computers were relative newcomers to the genealogical community and the internet just a baby.  Today, we must recognize that no genealogical research is complete without "washing" your family names through all of the major players in the online community of databases, and some of the minor ones.

At this point you're saying "I've only got one lifetime to work on my genealogy."  This is true and you do have to pick your battles in terms of time spent on internet searches.  A well thought-out checklist will do just that.  The sites on my list include:
And my Michigan section:
You may be aware that some of the content of these sites is also searchable through Google & Mocavo, but be sure to learn of the limitations of such searches, and learn the techniques (read Google Your Family Tree, by Daniel Lynch).

Next time we'll talk about creating a checklist to assist you in locating collections pertinent to your area or topic of research...

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown Civil War soldier
Photographer - H. B. Leckenby, artist, Dowagiac

Can you identify the man in this photo?  Are you familiar with the photographer's name?   Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail.

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    Upcoming Event : Bookmarking Your Genealogy, September 26

    If you use the internet for your genealogical research you won't want to miss "Bookmarking Your Genealogy," Monday, September 26, 2011, 7 p.m. at the Webster Memorial Library, Decatur, sponsored by the Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society.

    Linda Koch, Adult Services Librarian for the Allegan District Library will discuss and demonstrate online bookmarking techniques.  Using bookmarks to create your own 'Internet Yellow Pages' is becoming a popular tool for websurfers.  In 2009, Linda presented a similar program to members of the Southwest Michigan Local History Librarians Consortium, but with the Delicious bookmarking website, a subsidiary of Yahoo.  Before that, I hadn't heard of bookmarking websites, but immediately fell in love with Delicious and began implementing it immediately.  Likewise, I was quite disappointed to hear that the site was being discontinued, but encouraged that there are successor sites.

    For the September 26 lecture, Linda will talk about the new generation of bookmarking websites, demonstrating how to relocate materials on the web so that they can be quickly retrieved.  Linda has taught lectures & field courses and enjoys research & teaching, especially relishing the problem-solving process involved in family history study. 

    Immediately preceding the lecture at 6:00 p.m. will be a Family History Essentials Mini-Class, "Polk's War : Why You Should Research It."  Polk's War was another name for the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, called so by those who believed that President James Polk's aggression was an attempt to extend slavery.  Conrad Burton, a long-time VBRGS member, researchers & lecturer, will present.

    All meetings of the Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society are free and open to the public.  For more information, contact the society.

     Nameless Picture of the Day
     Unknown farm, Route 12 (now Red Arrow Highway), Lawrence, Michigan
    provided for identification by Erika Bonaparte
    "My great-grandparents names were Clarence and Clara Ruffin both lived in the Detroit area and my great-grandmother had child from a previous marriage his name was Ernest W. Johnson.  Hopefully this additional information may jog the memory of some long time residents in Lawrence, MI"

    Can you identify the house in this photo?  Do you know it's location and owners, past or present?   Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Research Tip : Use of Checklists to Enhance Family History Research (Part 1)

    If you pursue a family line very long you inevitably do two things.  First, you accumulate so much paper that organization becomes a must (a topic for another blog), and second, you run up against the proverbial "brick wall."  Brick walls are different for everyone - it can be that a certain piece of information eludes your discovery, or more commonly it means that you are unable to carry further your ancestral line backward in time.

    First of all, I'm not a believer in "I've looked everywhere."  There is always somewhere else to look for information.  Granted, there are cases where the information we seek doesn't exist, but do you want to sell your research short by not being thorough?

    One of the best ways to insure that you've looked under most rocks is to create research checklists.  These can be of four types: 

    1. General Sources Checklist
    2. Internet Checklist
    3. Locality or Topic Specific Resources
    4. Ethnic Sources
     The General Sources Checklist will be the biggest category and where you will spend the most time.  Back in 1995, I decided to create my own checklist of sources that would cover every conceivable form of information.  It ended up being 20 pages and was a short-run publication entitled SourceCheck : a resource checklist for United States genealogy research.  The broad categories included in the book were:
    • Home & Personal sources
    • Court & Governmental Records
    • Vital Records
    • Cemeteries
    • Census
    • Military
    • Maps
    • Land Records
    • Tax & Assessment Records
    • Directories
    • Family & Local Histories
    • Immigration & Emigration
    • State & Local Facilities
    • Periodicals
    • Computer (this one is a little prehistoric)
    • Family History Center
    • Church Records
    • Fraternal Orders & Secret Societies
    • Biographies
    • Newspapers
    • Patriotic & Lineage Societies
    • Educational Records
    • Genealogical & Historical Societies
    • Medical Facilities
    • Records Pertaining to Youths
    • Railroad Records
    • Photographs
    • Employment & Business Records
    • Miscellaneous
     These were just broad categories and were broken down even further.  For example, under Immigration & Emigration are the following subcategories:

    • Naturalizations (with sub-categories of Declaration of Intent, Petition, Depositions, Record of Naturalization a.k.a. Oath)
    • Passenger Lists 
    • Oaths of Allegiance
    • Alien Registration
    • Immigrant Aid Societies
    • Newspaper at Port of Entry & Departure
    • Customs Records
    • Merchant Records
    • Permit to Emigrate
    • Passport
    • Emigration Registers
    • Indentures
    • Ships Logs & Manifests
    • Ships Accounts
    As you can see, these are not the types of things that you can expect to memorize or think of off the top of your head.  In order to be methodical in our attempt to cover all bases, checklists are crucial. 

    SourceCheck was my attempt at a listing of general resources to spur me toward undiscovered information.  The ideas for the sources came from articles & books that I had read including The Source, conferences & lectures that I had attended, and from my experience to that point.  To my knowledge, there is no other published "checklist" of resources that is more than of a broad level.  Perhaps we can inspire the creation of such a resource, and even make it into a software program.   Wouldn't it be nice to be able to click on a category like "death" and have a list of sources pop up that can lead to death information? 

    More about checklists in the next installment...

    Nameless Picture of the Day

    Group of students, a Pine Grove Township [Van Buren County] 
    rural school, around 1926
    Only child identified - Max Earl Green, middle row, third from left
    [photo provided by Jessica Green of Gilbert, Arizona]
    Can you identify the children in this photo?  Do you know which school this is in Pine Grove Township?   Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Collection Highlight : Telephone Books Serve as Directory Substitutes

    Not too many towns in Southwest Michigan had their own city directories, so when we are asked about them we offer telephone books as a possible substitute.  The Local History Collection of the Van Buren District Library houses a hefty telephone book collection, numbering about 350 volumes, and we continue to seek out others.

    Communities from the six counties of Southwest Michigan (Allegan, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph & Van Buren) are represented and date as early as 1906, that one being from the small community of Wayland.  It has seven pages of names and a couple of pages of advertisements.  It was distributed by the Michigan State Telephone Company, formerly known as Michigan Bell.   Telephone numbers look a little different in 1906, for example:

    Orton, William, Orton's Hotel, Gun Lake - telephone number 30, 2L 2S

    What do historic telephone books offer besides lists of names & numbers?  Many of them were distributed by telephone companies that were only in business a short time, went by a number of different names, or have disappeared.  Some of those were:
    • Watson Telephone Company
    • Kibbie Telephone Company
    • Tri-County Telephone
    • General Telephone (GTE)
    • Southern Michigan Telephone Company
    • Michigan Associated
    • Union Telephone Company
     The advertisements in the older books are a delight, highlighting businesses that may have left little or no other paper trail.  The 1945 Watson (Allegan County) telephone book of four pages plus a cover has several of these advertisements including:

    • Dickerson's Ups and Downs, Bloomingdale (dealers in certified hybrid corn)
    • Dr. A. Leenhouts, Eye - Ear - Nose - Throat, Holland
    • The Updyke Agency (Insurance), Allegan
    • Drs. S. Graves & W. L. Graves, Veterinarians, Allegan & Hopkins
    • Harvey and Melvin Wedge Wrecker Service, Allegan
    • Shelbyville Lumber & Coal Co., Shelbyville
    As you can see, advertising branched out from surrounding communities.  

    The Kibbie Telephone Company Directories of the 1910's are a real surprise as they are actually like a county directory, including the communities of:  South Haven, Kibbie, Covert, Glenn, Bangor, Hartford, Decatur, Lawrence, Paw Paw, Lawton, Gobleville (Gobles), and Bloomingdale.  The Tri-County Telephone Company had a similar format including as many as a dozen communities.

    There is no "master collection" of these telephone books, except some partial collections in the hands of some present-day phone companies.  Understandably, distribution numbers on some of these may have been as small as a few dozen.  Through the library's search efforts some rare volumes have been located in flea markets, antique shops, and on Ebay, but there are still many more out there.  If you have or know of any telephone directory from a community in Southwest Michigan, consider donating it to the Local History telephone book collection.  Many more recent books are also still needed.  Good photocopies or digital copies are also acceptable.  Help us preserve this unique form of local history.  Contact us with any information or questions.

    Visitors to the Local History Collection may view directories, and select photocopies may be made.  However, digital cameras and scanners are not permitted and photocopying of entire directories is not permitted.  Please call or e-mail ahead of your visit to make arrangements to have the directories available for viewing.

    Nameless Picture of the Day

      unidentified man
    Photographer - C. G. Agrell, Allegan

    Can you identify the man in this photo?  Are you familiar with the photographer's name?   Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail.