Thursday, December 27, 2012

More About Connecting People to Places

In the December 10 post, we discussed the value of business cards as a local & family history tool, enabling us to tie individuals to buildings, businesses and locations.  There are a number of other things sitting around our houses that also do that for us.

Another personal collection that I've donated to the Local History department are matchbook covers with connections to Southwest Michigan, adding to some that were already in the manuscripts.  Like business cards, these matchbooks represent people & businesses of the past, connecting them to addresses. 

The cover shown here represents B & H Appliance Repair which was once located at 838 Gull Road in Kalamazoo.  B & H is no longer at this address, although it may be that they moved to Delton where there is another business by that same name.  The Gull Road address is apparently now part of a series of commercial sites that are available for sale according to listings found on the web.

With this starting point, one could begin putting together a history of the property or of the business using city & telephone directories.  Directories from the Local History Collection show the following different addresses for B & H Appliance Repair over time:
  • (1997) - 8973 N. 28th, Richland Township
  • (1985-86) - 5400 Meredith, Kalamazoo
  • (1964) - 134 N. Pitcher, Kalamazoo

Of course, one would need to do additional research to determine if these listings were all the same business under the same name, but this illustrates how using a variety of different resources that tie an address to a business or person can connect things together nicely.

Mr. & Mrs. Clyde Watson resided in Lawrence in 1964
Another very common resource that we all have in our homes is correspondence or envelopes with addresses.   As a stamp collector, I have hundreds of envelopes similar to the one shown here.  Here we have a name, an address, a return address, and the added bonus of a postmark which gives us an exact date for this information.  Contents or a letter in the envelope are nice to have, but in their absence the envelope itself is important historically. 

It can be difficult to track family residences for those that may have moved often, did not own the dwelling, and may have been boarders, renters or just plain live-ins.  Correspondence can be a key element in tracking those individuals over time. 

Okay, it's no longer a secret that it takes a bit of a pack rat to hang on to these things, but God bless them.  They are the ones that just can't seem to bring themselves to throw away these paper items knowing in the back of their minds that they play a role in history - and, once they are destroyed, they are gone forever.

If you are one of these wonderful people who has hung on to things like these, reluctant to toss them and would like to make a home for them, you might consider placing them in a local history collection.  In the case of the Van Buren District Library, we are collecting anything of this nature pertaining to Southwest Michigan historic sites & people (Allegan, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, Van Buren & St. Joseph Counties).  All are being integrated into the Historic Sites Inventory (HSI) project, indexed and archived.  For more information about the HSI or how to donate materials, please contact us.

Next time, we'll talk about a couple of more types of sources that tie people to places...

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown woman
Photographer - H. L. Morgan, Front Street, Dowagiac
From the private collection of Sarah (Adams) Jackson

Can you identify the young woman in this cabinet card?  Do you have knowledge of the photographer?  Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.   

Monday, December 10, 2012

Business Cards : A Rich Source of Local & Family History

How does it go?..."The only thing that remains constant is change."  I was reminded of that again recently when it was announced in the Kalamazoo Gazette that Mi-Ranchito Restaurant in Oshtemo, a family-owned business for more than 30 years, will be closing its doors on December 31.  Mi-Ranchito has been a major player in my life having worked there through college as a bus girl/hostess, my husband & I courted there, and countless family celebrations have taken place there since then including pre-wedding dinners and 21st birthdays of my kids. 

Oshtemo & Kalamazoo
Admittedly, most businesses don't have Mi-Ranchito's kind of longevity, some coming and going in a matter of years or even months.  Speaking from a historical perspective, what kind of records can we expect to find that document these pieces of our local history?

Since a child I've been collecting businesses cards, to the point where there are hundreds of them.  Since they are a unique and rare snapshot of local history, I decided rather than leave them to the uncertainty of my children's whimsy, it was best to donate all of those from Southwest Michigan to the Local History Collection to be added to the Historic Sites Inventory project set up earlier this year.

The next time you clean out a drawer and sort out business cards that you no longer want or need, before you throw them in the trash consider some of the reasons why they are a valuable form of local history:
Decatur, Michigan
  1. Business name
  2. Address & contact information
  3. Proprietors & Owners names
  4. Types of business
  5. Graphics
  6. Personnel
For those businesses with a long history, a collection of business cards over the years can yield changes in location, owners, employees, and even in the business itself as it evolved.  Many cards have graphics or art work that greatly enhance that history such as the example above of Messner Associates in Decatur that includes a drawing of the historic village of Decatur building in which it operated.

Business cards can come in a variety of forms & represent a variety of entities:
Family History & Personal Interests
  1. Magnets
  2. Political
  3. Organizations & Societies
  4. Private Collectors
  5. Government Officials
  6. Homemade (more in recent years)
  7. (And Yes) Family History

Today, we might dismiss these cards as insignificant pieces of nuisance paper in our wallets, desk, drawers, purse, etc., but they actually have a long history dating back to prominent peoples of 17th century Europe.  By the 19th century, they took on more of a social role as personal cards with the name formerly engraved and often used to pre-announce one's arrival.

The typical size of a business card today is 3 1/2 x 2 inches printed on card stock, but they can appear in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors and formats.   Although less of a social statement today, business cards still remain a significant advertising and outreach tool for millions.

How will the library organize these cards to make them of maximum use to historians?  As they are added to the Historic Sites Inventory, they will be organized by community.  Then each of the primary components will be indexed in the collection's Local History Master Index (LHMI).  Those who search our databases will be able to locate references to any individual, business or entity name, and also by address. 

So, please think twice before dropping cards, new or old, in the trash as you do your winter cleaning this year.  Any with a reference to a Southwest Michigan community (Michigan counties of Allegan, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Van Buren) can be deposited with us.  Just drop them in an envelope and mail them to:  Van Buren District Library, Local History, 200 N. Phelps Street, Decatur, MI.  Or, feel free to stop by in person to donate or to use the Historic Sites Inventory collection.  Contact us with any questions.


 Nameless Picture of the Day

 unknown woman
Photographer - J. H. Prater, Paw Paw
P003.0054

Can you identify the young woman in this carte-de-visite?  Do you have knowledge of the photographer?  Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.   



Monday, November 26, 2012

New on the Shelf : Italy & Ireland

The genealogy/local history department is adding quite a few new titles to its collection this and next month.  It's kind of an early Christmas for us...

Not enough can be said about the benefits of research guides, especially those that focus on family history in countries outside of the United States.  There's so much to learn in terms of record types, access, online resources, and in many cases, language barriers.  To our shelf of non-U.S. research guides we now add, Finding Your Italian Ancestors : a beginner's guide, by Suzanne Russo Adams.

The headings listed in the book's Table of Contents include:
  1. Getting Started
  2. Beginning Your Search in the United States
  3. Finding Your Place of Origin
  4. Italian Civil Records : 1866 to the Present
  5. Pre-Unification Civil Records
  6. Ecclesiastical Records
  7. Reading the Records
  8. Records in Italian Archives
  9. Researching Italian Ancestors Online
Other sections include a Timeline of Italian History, Sample Letters, a list of Societies & Research Resources.

Having no known Italian ancestry myself, I know little about researching in Italy other than the great differences between European and American records.  Because of this, if I were to begin research there, Finding Your Italian Ancestors would be the first book I would read.  

The added bonus - many European records, including those for parts of Italy, have been microfilmed by the Family History Center (FHC), Salt Lake City.  Some have been indexed, transcribed and added to the FHC website.  Those that haven't been uploaded to the internet yet may be available on microfilm loan to your nearest Family History Center affiliate.  Search the FHC catalog to search for records available from your ancestral homeland.  The Van Buren District Library is one of the licensed microfilm loan affiliates of the FHC.  Contact us for more details about to order & view microfilm on loan from Salt Lake City.

Finding Your Italian Ancestors may be checked out from the library with a valid patron library card, request a copy through MelCat if you are a Michigan resident, or inquire at your local library.

The latest addition to the Irish section of the department is Irish Marriages : being an index to the marriages in Walker's Hibernian Magazine 1771 to 1812, by Henry Farrar. 

This latest memorial for local history friend Shirley Probst who passed away in 2007, helps flesh out Irish vital records during a period in which civil registration records either didn't exist or have been subsequently destroyed. 

The Walker's Hibernian Magazine was published only for the dates 1771 thru July 1812 and included thousands of English & Irish marriages.

There's not much in the line of further explanation to the notations in this book.  An example of an entry from page 111:

"Cussing, George, aet. 78, Greenwich = Bailder, Hannah, aet. 22, of Deptford, the gentleman's 5th wife - April 1798"

It appears that George was age 78 when he latched onto a 22 year-old bride as his 5th wife.  Lucky George...

There is also a number in the margin for each entry, the above example listed as "283."  Since this is an index to marriages in another source, it is assumed that this page number must somehow correspond to the Walker's magazine. 

The images of Irish Marriages may also be viewed on the Internet Archives or searched with an Ancestry.com subscription.  For a list of other Irish family history resources in the Local History Collection, visit the VBDL catalog and search using the words "Ireland" and "Genealogy."

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown couple
P003-0055
Photographer - McCollum, Dowagiac

Can you identify the young couple shown in this cabinet card?  Do you have knowledge of the photographer?  Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.   

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New on the Shelf : Settlers of the Beekman Patent

The Van Buren District Library is pleased to announce the addition to its Local History collection of Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York : an historical and genealogical study of all of the 18th century settlers in the patent, by Frank J. Doherty.

This ten-volume set is probably the most exciting genealogical reference set to hit the shelf since the release of The Great Migration series by Robert Charles Anderson.  It actually is still a work in progress, with current volumes published only through the letter "R."

Don't make the same mistake that I first made when I read about this set, thinking that it was exclusive to Dutchess County families.  It's scope is much broader.  Following in an excerpt from the book's introduction:
The settlers of the Beekman Patent were not the earliest settlers in Dutchess County but were some of the first to venture inland away from the Hudson River...The settlers came from all directions, the Dutch from New York, Kingston and Albany; the German Palatines from Rhinebeck; the Quakers from Long Island and Massachusetts, and others from Connecticut and Rhode Island and other places...These records will include family histories plus data on where the person lived, what their occupation and what involvement they had in the local civil and military affairs.  When possible we will include information on deaths and burials and removals from this area.  We have tried to include all Beekman settlers who were here by 1790 and who were found in any kind of records to that timeThese families we have carried through the 1810 census...
The project was initiated because of a personal interest as the author & his wife had purchased a house within the patent that had previously been a residence of authoress, Pearl Buck.  Inspired by the history of his own home, Doherty embarked on a project by which he scavenged for any surviving written record pertaining to the settlers of the patent, which was scant.  He then began the process of assembling family, local, military, and court records from other available sources. 

In addition to compiled family data, the entire first volume of the set is dedicated to the history of the Beekman Patent itself.  Doherty provides listings of sources used in the publication of the set, and also includes maps and nice every-name indexes to each volume.

Our acquisition of Settlers of the Beekman Patent series has been made possible through a memorial for local genealogist, Ann Mullin Burton, who passed away early this summer.  Ann would have wholeheartedly approved of the addition of this set to the Local History Collection.  She and her husband, Conrad, have also played key roles in the addition of other genealogical reference sets to the department including the American State Papers and Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files.

Anyone with New York State ancestors or families who migrated through the state should add Settlers of the Beekman Patent to your genealogical research checklist.  To whet your appetite, following is a partial list of those families featured in volume 8:
  • Lee
  • Lent
  • Leonard
  • LeRoy
  • Lester
  • Lewis
  • Light
  • Lighheart
  • Linderbeck
  • Lindsey
  • Lobdell
  • Lockwood
  • Losee
  • Lossing
  • Lovejoy
  • Loveless
  • Luckey
  • Lyon
  • Mabie (Hey, that's one of mine!)
The set is available for viewing anytime during Local History department regular business hours.  Volumes 1 thru 7 are also available to search through the American Ancestors subscription website sponsored by the New England Historic Genealogical Society.  American Ancestors is accessible in the Local History department.  Contact us with any questions.

Nameless Picture of the Day - Identified!
 P003-0057
Identified as - Jane Elisabeth Canning

The following information provided by Don & Joan Lyons of Dowagiac regarding the above cabinet card published in the November 10 post :  
       Wow, did you amaze me when you posted this picture : P003-0057.  It is Don’s great grandmother and we have the original photo and vintage frame in our library room.
       She is Jane Elisabeth Canning. Born May 31, 1859 in Pen Yan, NY. {of Irish parents}  Married Edward Karnes on Apr. 12, 1890. He was born in Cass County Mi and they lived in Decatur, MI.  They had 3 children: Blanch (Karnes) Stevens, Harley and Ray Karnes.  She died March 29, 1940 in Decatur, MI

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Creating Indexes and How You Can Help

Last time we talked about the importance of indexes, the different types, and the Local History Master Index (LHMI), the first search tool for the Southwest Michigan regional family & history collection housed by the Van Buren District Library. 

Amelia Castle
On November 2, the LHMI reached the 1 million record mark and continues to grow.  The hundreds of smaller indexes that comprise the whole database have come from dozens of indexers.  It's birth about five years ago began with combining the many indexes which had been created by long-time area genealogist, Amelia Birdsall Castle of Dowagiac.  For many years, Amelia had compiled and marketed in book form indexes to cemetery, vital, church, local history & land records focusing primarily on Cass & Van Buren Counties.  All of those digital indexes were donated to the library when Amelia moved out of state to her new home in  Arkansas.

Indexes have been created in many formats including Word Perfect, and the array of Microsoft products - Word, Works, Excel & Access.  All have been "dumped" into Access where searches can be made by last name, first name, year, and source. 

The LHMI indexes more than just personal names.  Entries include businesses & companies, historic buildings & sites, organizations & clubs, streets & other geographic references, churches, and schools.  We're even indexing the wonderful old advertisements that appear in directories, yearbooks & newspapers.  In recent weeks, the department has fielded requests for information pertaining to the Colonial Hotel in South Haven and the Rebekah Lodge of Decatur.  In these and other similar cases, searching the LHMI provided a list of hits referencing these topics.

Indexers for the LHMI don't have to live in the area to help with the project.  We've had volunteers as far away as Arizona, California and New York.  The only things required to become an indexer is a computer (no internet access necessary), a program to index into, and time.  Everything else is provided by the library including detailed instructions. 

Volunteers also may take their choice of the type of records they wish to index.  Is your interest in a specific location, or a particular type of record?  There is indexing to be done from typed pages, and those that have experience reading handwriting can work from handwritten records.  Many who have done indexing have enjoyed the added bonus of locating information about subjects or persons of interest to them.

The importance of indexes cannot be overstated.  And, I would argue that hand-generated indexes have a higher rate of accuracy and completeness than machine-generated indexes.  As we are all historians, we know better than a machine what type of information we seek and what should be indexed.

In 2011, the volunteer force from the Local History department generated a combined 1,991 volunteer hours, the lions share of which were at home workers.  Consider becoming a volunteer indexer this winter.  There are no deadlines, no whip cracking....just appreciation. 

For more information about the LHMI or about how to volunteer as an indexer, please contact us.

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown woman
Photographer - McCollum & Cunningham, Dowagiac
P003-0057

Can you identify the young woman in this cabinet card?  Do you have knowledge of the photographer?  Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Southwest Michigan Database Reaches 1 Million Mark

Indexes...something that family & local history researchers rely heavily upon...basically come in three general formats.  First, there are the paper indexes, generated to accompany a book or collection.  Second, in the last twenty plus years or so we've seen the rise of databases that allow searches by name.  The third form of indexing is the ability to search across millions of web pages using a web browser or search tool. 

Smart historians learn to make the most of all three as all of them have benefits and limitations, and no one of them can yield all possible results.  Admittedly, I have leaned toward the tangible...preferring to have an index in my hand and being able to browse through an alphabetical list of names.  This is still effective for single or a handful of items.

However, picture a regional collection such as that of the Van Buren District Library.  There are literally thousands of resources, the bulk of which directly relate to the six Southwest Michigan counties of Allegan, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren, and have not yet made their way to the internet.  Imagine that you may be visiting for the day or a few hours.  It's not practical to go down the shelves checking every individual index, or scanning through pages that are not indexed.  And, what about those items that are not even on the open shelves?

Enter the Local History Master Index (LHMI), a database created by the library to index items within the collection.  A work in progress, indexing is being done by volunteers working at the library or at home.  All of the indexes, now numbering well over 400, are merged together into one database for in-house searching.  As of yesterday [November 2], the LHMI reached the 1 million record mark. 

The LHMI was designed to be a "first search" tool for visitors, potentially saving them hours of research time and also leading them to resources they might not have otherwise located.  It has been extremely rewarding for me, as a librarian, to see the glee on people's faces when they locate names of interest in our database. 

Some of the things that have been indexed so far:
  1. 110 Cemeteries
  2. Plat Books
  3. Family Histories
  4. Newspapers
  5. Vital Records
  6. Regional, County & Local Histories
  7. Tax & Voter Lists
  8. Funeral Home Records
  9. Yearbooks
  10. Directories
  11. Photographs
  12. Family Files, Pedigree Charts & Pioneer Certificates
  13. Naturalization Records
  14. Scrapbooks
  15. Church Records
  16. Military 
  17. Van Buren Echoes
  18. Poorhouse Records
  19. Census & Mortality Schedules
  20. Wills & Estates
  21. Manuscript Collections
  22. Obituaries
  23. Schools
  24. Historic Site Inventory
The LHMI is available for search on the Local History computers, and soon will be available in a new format at the rest of the VBDL branch locations at Bangor, Bloomingdale, Covert, Gobles, Lawrence & Mattawan.  Each record within the database is searchable by surname and first name.  Results provide a complete bibliographic record of the source, the page number, and some associated dates. 

The question has been asked, "Will the LHMI be available on the internet?"  Although it is currently only available on site, it is our hope to eventually be able to place it online.  Until then, we encourage visitors to the collection.  After all, even when the index goes to the net, the resources themselves are still here at the library.

Not everything is indexed yet, but work continues.  Next time we'll discuss in more detail how items are indexed, what things remain to be indexed, and how you can volunteer to help by indexing at home.  Contact Local History with any questions.

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown girl
Photographer - Boughton, Decatur
P003-0058

Can you identify the girl in this cabinet card?  Do you have knowledge of the photographer?  Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Discover Your Ancestors Using Land Records

Genealogical skill building is a big part of successful family history research, so it's a good idea to make time to read up on some form of research methodology that may be as yet unfamiliar to you.  Last month I had just such an opportunity while out of town for a week.  There was going to be significant "down time" during my trip and there are only so many things you fit into two carry-on bags for the airplane.  So, I decided to take along a book from the genealogy general reference and "how-to" section of the Local History collection.

I chose and read Locating Your Roots : Discover Your Ancestors Using Land Records, by Patricia Law Hatcher.  Land records research is rather complex compared to other types of records, a source that many historians often overlook or avoid.  Betterway Books, the publisher of this and several other family history titles, uses a format that is appealing...a non-academic, non-textbook style that allows you to breeze through and yet the content is very useful.

Rather than write a review of this book, I thought it would be more helpful if I listed some things that I learned or reinforced that may be of use to others:
  1. Tip - Identify wives' given names through the sale of property [Although the wife did not need to be identified on the purchase of property, the dower right laws dictated that she must be identified on the sale, accompanied by a Release of Dower rights that she signed with no coercion from her husband - this might be the only way to determine the first name of "Mrs. John Smith."]
  2. Creating a timeline is an effective brick wall research tool
  3. If your ancestor was a frequent purchaser/seller of property, create a land chart [described on page 16] to assist in creating a checklist of all documents relating to that property
  4. List of ways that land can be acquired or disposed of [page 17]; have you ever heard of Silent Inheritance, for example?
  5. Five different ways to record information from a land record index, page 66 [I actually created a #6, inspired by this list]
  6. King Philip's War (1675-1676) was the first American campaign whereby land was used to reward military service, a practice that ended in 1855, before the Civil War
  7. Michigan was once a bounty land state, but soon was withdrawn as the land was considered undesirable
  8. The Ordinance of 1785 defined the federal land system, including that four of 16 townships in a section were to be reserved for the federal government and that Section 16 was reserved for schools
  9. Only 40 percent of homestead applicants actually completed the process [This might explain why parts of your family were found in the west for a few years and then came back to Michigan]
  10. 362 Land Offices were created [see pps. 159-183 for lists by state]
  11. The recording of a deed, if recorded at all, could have been done decades after the fact
  12. In the Public Land States [including Michigan], tax lists are usually organized by township & range, therefore you can learn where your ancestor and his neighbors resided, even if they didn't own land
  13. In addition to documents recording the purchase, sale or mortgage of property, seek out those records of ownership such as tax records and plat maps
  14. For an in-depth study of the Public Land system read The Public Lands : Studies in the History of the Public Domain, by Vernon Carstensen [VBDL doesn't have this title yet, but will be seeking it out]
  15. Don't discount the importance of reading state-specific books and articles relating to land records, to best learn what is available and how to access them
  16. "Calls" is a general term for metes-and-bounds descriptions in a deed or survey [page 142 has a nice example of a "calls" abstraction form]
At some point in your family history research, you will reach a family where the traditional records don't yield the answers you seek.  Learning about other less common sources, can only enhance your chances of finding answers.

Locating Your Roots can be checked out from the Local History Collection with a valid VBDL card, or request a copy by inter-library loan through your local library.  This was definitely a useful learning experience for me.  Maybe later this winter I'll get brave enough to read about naturalization records...

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown family group
Photographer - H. E. Bradley, Buchanan
P003-0059

Can you identify the family members in this carte-de-visite?  Do you have knowledge of the photographer?  Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Upcoming Event : Michigan Boys in Blue, October 22

The Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society (VBRGS) celebrates Family History Month with  “Michigan Boys in Blue,” Monday, October 22, 2012, 7 p.m. at the Webster Memorial Library in Decatur,  a presentation by John Urschel, archivist and historian.
      
Urschel is currently the supervisor of the local history room at the Buchanan District Library in Buchanan, Michigan.  He is a semi-retired contract archivist holding a BA in history and MA in Public History from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Along with his responsibilities at the Buchanan District Library, John has become an author and lecturer in the southwestern Michigan area.  He is the author of City of Kalamazoo Parks, Kalamazoo Village and City Officials 1843-2007 and an executive producer of “Kalamazoo 1884”, a 37 minute documentary of Kalamazoo when it incorporated. 
      
A project which started out as a book about Civil War servicemen from Buchanan has turned into a series entitled Michigan Boys in Blue.  Volume one for Buchanan has already published.  John has begun work on volume two to include select men from Decatur, Dowagiac, Volinia Township, Marcellus, Mattawan, Paw Paw, Lawrence and Hartford,  and volume three is slated to focus on Grand Rapids.  John will consider future volumes to ultimately cover the entire state of Michigan in the series. 
 
Urschel will also host the Family History Essentials Series mini-class at starting at 6:00 p.m., highlighting his research methods used in his unique research projects, allowing time for a question & answer period.  The main program will begin at 7 p.m. after a break for refreshments and a short society business meeting.
 
This and other monthly programs sponsored by VBRGS are open to the public who is invited to attend as guests of the society. For more information please contact Ann Flora at 269.684.1353, email questions to vbrgs@yahoo.com.  This October presentation rounds out the VBRGS 2012 program season, with the 2013 year scheduled to commence on February 25 with "Anatomy of an Obituary," to be presented by Toni I. Benson.

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown man
Photographer - Dawes, Dowagiac
P003-0060
 
 Can you identify the young man in this cabinet card?  Do you have knowledge of the photographer?  Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bangor Newspaper Digitizaton Project (You Can Help) - Part 2

The first newspapers of record for Bangor began in 1873 as The Bangor Journal.  That title lived a short life and in fact no issues are known to have survived.  By 1874, The Bangor Reflector came into being and was in publication for several years to be followed by a series of titles.  The longest-running title was The Bangor Advance which continued until 1983, followed by other titles until the final printing in 1985.

The original microfilming in 1987 began with January 1, 1875 and ended with April 19, 1983.  Although the collection was fairly complete, there were gaps or missing issues.  Those missing that have been identified include:

February 20, March 6 & 27, September 25 (1875)
Sep 19 – Nov 28 (1879)
May 18 & 25, June 1 (1883)
July 23, December 30 (1886)
January 7, 1887
April 27, 1888
March 15-29, 1889
June 20, October 10 (1890)
October 4, 1895
June 30, 1899
January 5 & 12, May 25, August 10, all of October, 
                                        November 9 thru December 28 (1900)
January 11, February 8, March 1 thru 15 (1901)
May 1, September 11, October 9 (1903)
January 1, December 30 (1904)
September 22, 1905
January 26, March 16, May 4, June 1, August 31, November 16 (1906)
December 18, 1908
February, all; March 4, 18 & 25 (1910)
Jan 17 thru March 2, June 13 & 27, August 8 (1913)
May 15, 22 & 29, September 25 (1914)
February 12, June 25, July 9 (1915)
November 30, 1917
October 14, December 30 (1920)
June 21, 1928
January 2, 1941
1943 - entire year
July 5, 1945
January 1, 1948
1955 - entire year
August 3, 1966
January 1, 1969
January 31, 1978
January 16, 1979
January 1, 1980              

There is no question that most of these issues existed at one time and that they may still exist somewhere in private hands.  Individuals don't always realize what a precious piece of history they may have in the form of a folded up issue of a newspaper in their attic or closet, an issue that may be the only one in existence.  And, in the absence of complete issues, portions or select articles may be tucked away in a book or bible, or lovingly placed in scrapbooks.  Whatever the form, they are an important part of history.

For the purpose of the current digitization project, we are attempting to use as many original papers as possible, versus microfilm images.  There are some for which we've located part years, but not all of them.  Those years that still need to be located in their entirety include 1956 thru 1959 and 1961 thru 1980.  
Many of the earlier issues that we have located are in poor condition, too poor to be scanned without some prep work.  According to the technical department, some issues will either need to be "pieced" together using archival tape, or pages may need to be placed inside a protective film cover.  In either case, the cost for having this done will be considerable, so we will be depending on volunteers to help with this step.

The question about whether or not the digital images of the Bangor newspaper will go online for search, view & download depends almost entirely on cost.  At a minimum, the images will be available at the Decatur and Bangor branches of the Van Buren District Library.  Launching onto an online environment incurs costs for the initial upload and ongoing maintenance.  

How can you help?
  1. Report to us any knowledge of "missing" issues (or partial issues) as listed above so that we may make arrangements to borrow them long enough for digitization
  2. Sign up to become a volunteer to assist with preparation of the newspapers for scanning
  3. Make a monetary donation toward the digitization process, or perhaps toward online launch costs
 Anyone with an interest in Bangor and its history will be thrilled with the digitized newspapers.  Imagine sitting down to a computer and searching for the occurrence of a particular surname over 110 years and getting results in seconds, followed up by seeing the actual image.  And, once you've located the item(s) of interest, crop, save and print it in a snap.  

Those of us who have spent hours in front of a microfilm reader cranking away, squinting our eyes trying to read nearly illegible text...or if you live no where near Michigan and have had no way to access the papers at all...or try to research the history of a business spanning 60 years without reading through multiple reels of microfilm...you get the picture.

For more information about the Bangor newspaper digitization project, or to make a donation of your time or a monetary gift, please contact the library by e-mail or call us at (269)423-4771.  Thank you.

           Nameless Picture of the Day

            Graduating Class, Woodward School, Kalamazoo, 1945

 Can you identify any or all of the students in this group photo from Woodward School?  This was a beautiful photo acquired from a yard sale.    Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.