BillionGraves Field Trip for July 12 cancelled due to thunderstorms – will be rescheduled

The BillionGraves Fieldtrips to Oak Crest and Oak Hill Cemeteries in Downers Grove scheduled for today, Saturday, July 12, 2014, have been cancelled due to thunderstorm activity.  We will reschedule this event for a later date this autumn.  If you have any questions or concerns, please call the event organizer Debra at (231) 920-6313.

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Finding Family Clues in Digital Letters and Diaries – Follow Friday

Once upon a time, acquiring access to a personal correspondence collection required an in-person visit to a specialized library, state archive, or a national depository.  Diaries and Letters give a first person account of daily life, and divulge an individual’s circle of friends, chores, schedules, thoughts, and to various degrees – feelings.

This type of research has its pitfalls.  While many letters, diaries, and other personal correspondence have been digitized and record a sender and receiver, the genealogical hidden in each document are uncovered by personally reading each item carefully.  Understandably, this is a time intensive project for researchers, but the availability of these collections online make up for the time spent traveling to browse  items in person.

Let’s take a look at a few of the online archives which feature digital diaries and letters:

Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org)

Sam Kimble DiaryThe personal diary of Sam Kimble, a resident of Manhattan, Kansas is a highly readable account of daily life on the turn of the century prairie.  Kimble describes the weather, crops, livestock, town life, local politics, as well as the tasks of building a home and attending to household matters.

Kimble even found time to paste a picture of his ideal finished home ‘Castle Kimble’ in his diary entry for Thursday, May 17, 1894

 

The diary of Caroline Belcher Abbott chronicles life in the area around Kennebec County, Maine from 1834-1859.  Some of her entries are very short, no more than one line about events that happened during the day.  Others are a few paragraphs, describing her visits to Boston, and the people, places and information she acquired during those trips. As an interesting note, the sabbath days are clearly marked and noted in her writings.

The Diary of Daniel Coker a Methodist Missionary at Fourah Bay, near Freetown, Sierra Leone in West Africa from April 21 to September 21 1821

daniel coker diaryThe diary pages are photocopied from the original document, but the the contents make for an engrossing read.  Coker documents fever outbreaks, prayer services, visits to individuals and families, and daily reflections of his missionary work.  The script is flowing and relatively easy to read, but due to the nature of the photocopy job, the side margins where Coker placed notes and additions are sadly garbled.

 

University of Iowa Digital Civil War Diaries

The Iowa Digital Library hosts a collection of 20 handwritten letters and diaries of Civil War veterans.  Spanning a period from 1862-1960, this collection offers large, readable images of original items.  The interface, which allows users to pan around a page or download each item to a computer.  One of the best features is the ‘Text’ tab, which allows you to read the page side by side with a typed transcription.  If you’re interested in solving a mystery, there are two diaries which are listed as ‘Author unknown’.  You can read them here:

American Travel Diary of an Unknown Englishman, 1864

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California Civil War Diary of an Unknown Soldier, 1862-1863

Tuesday 26 Started at 5 AM in a dense fog. Lost the road going to far to the left went 10 miles out of the way & had to come back Capt pd (paid) Spaniard $2,50 to pilot us to right road went through the canon to Rancho Del Charro. & camped, Travailed 35 miles to day  Wednesday 27 Broke a box in one of the wagon hubs and  (Vertically, from bottom left:-)  Distance to day 21 miles. no good water

Auburn University in Alabama also has an excellent collection of digitized Civil War diaries.  Using the same interface as the University of Iowa’s digital library, Auburn’s collection also contains an unattributed Federal Soldier’s Diary (1862-1863).  According to the description, the  is dairy believed to have been written by a soldier of the 44th Massachusetts from December 11, 1862 to February 8, 1863.  The early pages of the diary include numbers of casualties, for the Battle of Kinton on Dec. 14, 1862, and an account of the solder’s wartime activities.

If you need help deciphering American handwriting, I recommend  Reading Early American Handwriting by Kip Sperry.  However, if you’re looking for an online tutorial in paleographic exercises in general, I also recommend The National Archives’ practical online tutorial on Palaeography: reading old handwriting 1500 – 1800, and Bringham Young University’s online Script Tutorials.

What online diary collections are you looking to find?  Share your thoughts and ideas in then comment section!

See you at the Library!

Debra

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BYO Smart Phone for our BillionGraves Field Trips! – Follow Friday

billiongravesgraphicBreak out your smart phone and join the Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Club for a series of summer BillionGraves Field Trips!  There are four BillionGraves Field Trips scheduled for June and July, 2014.  Each field trip is available for genealogists, family historians, and cemetery buffs of all experience levels.  Registration is free and each session will include handouts, hands-on training, and bottled water.  Participants should bring a smartphone or data-plan enabled tablet, weather appropriate accessories, and a good pair of sturdy shoes to each field trip.

On Saturday, June 14 our first set of field trips will be held at 9 am at Boardman Cemetery in Bolingbrook.  After a short break, the second field trip will be held at 1 pm at Alexander Cemetery in Romeoville.Alexander Cemetery

The second set of field trips will be held on Saturday, July 12 in Downers Grove.  The first fieldtrip will be held at 9 am at Oak Hill Cemetery.  After a short break, the second field trip will be held at 1 pm in the adjoining Oak Crest Cemetery.

If you are new to BillionGraves, you will want to attend our BillionGraves Orientation on Wednesday, July 9 at 7 pm at the Fountaindale Public Library.  The orientation will cover how to download the app, how to take photos, link photos together, delete photos, how to tackle difficult transcription issues, and how to upload photos at the end of the project. The program will also include a short cemetery transcription orientation as well.  Registration for the orientation is free and can be completed online or by calling the Fountaindale Public Library at (630) 685-4176.

You do not need to be a Genealogy Club member to join the BillionGraves Field Trips!  We would like to host additional field trips in the fall, and we would like to know what cemeteries you want to survey!  For more information call (630) 685-4201.

To learn more about the cemeteries on our field trip list, you can visit the following sites:

Boardman Cemetery - http://www.bolingbrookhistprescomm.org/boardman-cemetery.html

Alexander Cemetery – http://dupagetownship.org/cemeteries/alexander-cemetery

Oak Hill and Oak Crest Cemeteries – http://www.dgtownship.com/?page_id=270

Good Luck!

Debra

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Training to be a Census Sensei – Tuesday’s Tip

Step beyond the US Federal Census returns! On Wednesday, May 14 at 7 pm at the Fountaindale Public Library, Tina Beaird will show you how to use agricultural, manufacturing, school, state, territorial, other special censuses!  Learn how to locate, access, and glean information from these special records, which will provide unique and interesting information about your ancestors!tina

Learn how your ancestor’s taxes supported the school district, what type of crops were grown on their farms, and the cash value of a farm, livestock, machinery and business enterprises.  As many of these special censuses are not available on a federal level, Tina will introduce you to the repositories which house these records, as well as providing online resources to meet your research goals.  You won’t want to miss this program!  Doors open at 6:30 pm, and light refreshments will be included.

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BillionGraves Field Trips - Break out your smart phone and join the FPLD Genealogy Club for a series of summer BillionGraves fieldtrips!  There are two BillionGraves Field Trips scheduled for Saturday, June 14, 2014.  The first field trip will be held at 9 am at Boardman Cemetery in Bolingbrook.  At 1 pm, a second field trip will be held at Alexander Cemetery in Romeoville.  You do not need to be a Genealogy Club member to join in on the project!  For more information call (630) 685-4201.

See You At The Library!

Debra

 

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Get Ready for Genealogy Day this Saturday May 3, 2014! – Wisdom Wednesday

Genealogy Day Graphic 2014Genealogy Day is this Saturday, and I hope you all are excited about spending the day with the Fountaindale Public Library!  Genealogy Day registration begins at 9 am, with the program commencing at 9:30 am.  Here’s a quick checklist of what you will need for Saturday, May 3, 2014:

Bring or Order your lunch – If you forget your lunch on the day of our program, you can place a lunch order at Brooks Cafe during morning registration.  Some food selections may be limited, so you’ll want to place your order before 9:30 am!

Bring a seat cushion -  You will be sitting for extended periods of time, so a little padding is advisable.  If you want to make a few new friends, bring extra seat cushions.

Clip Board - Due to space constraints, we will have audience style seating in the room.  We recommend bringing a clip board for writing copious notes.

Two Photos - Regardless of registration for photo consultation, we have some awesome scanning equipment available for you to use!  If you need help on an item, Anna from Studio 300 is offering digital photo restoration services as time allows.

Flash drive - Great for saving your new digital images from our scanning equipment.  In a pinch, we will have a few flash drives available, or you can purchase a snazzy Fountaindale Public Library flash drive from Anna for $8 during Genealogy Day.

Marsha Peterson-MaassBook List -jennifer holik Our two guest authors will have great books for sale which will please the folks on your gift list.  Jennifer Holik and guest speaker Marsha Peterson-Maass will be available during the lunch hour to meet you, sign books, and discuss their projects.

Library Card - We will have a great genealogy book selection available for checkout!  If you don’t have a Fountaindale library card, you can sign up at the information desk to be a reciprocal borrower, which allows you to checkout books from our library free of charge!

Heritage Hash -Heritage Hash Brooks Cafe is offering a delicious snack for genealogy day – Heritage Hash!  This tasty blend of raisins, sunflower seeds, pretzel balls, bagel chips, sesame sticks, coconut flakes, papaya, pineapple, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips will be served in a 3 oz bag for $2.75.  They will also have soda, candy, and other items available to purchase during our break periods.

If you are unable to attend Genealogy Day, please cancel your registration online or call us at (630) 685-4176.  There is a wait list for people to attend our event, so please let us know if you cannot attend.

I am at your service to assist with questions before, during, and after the program!  Please do not hesitate to let me know if you need anything!  You can contact me by phone at (630) 685-4201 or by e-mail at ddudek@fountaindale.org.

See you on Saturday!

Debra

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Pre-Release Book Signing Added to Genealogy Day Lineup! – Tuesday’s Tip

Jennifer Hjennifer holikolik will be joining us for a stories of the lostpre-release celebration of her new book Stories of the Lost at this year’s Genealogy Day on Saturday, May 3 from 1-2 p.m. Debuting on V-E (Victory in Europe) Day on May 8, Stories of the Lost chronicles the lives of servicemen who fought for freedom and never returned alive. Although buried in foreign territories, the government extended the services of individuals to identify the deceased, collect their belongings, and whenever possible, to send what they had found back home to their families. Stories of the Lost combines thoughtful case studies and research together to celebrate the lives a few good servicemen, and to give genealogists a method of researching their own family heroes.

To celebrate both V-E Day and the debut of this title, Genealogy Day participants will have a chance to win two copies of the book, and to have them signed by the author.  Stories of the Lost is priced at $25, and cash, check, and credit card payments are accepted. Jennifer will also have a limited supply of her popular Branching Out: Genealogy for Kids series which will be priced at $15-$30 each.

Speaker Marsha Peterson-Maass will be signing copies of her two books – Fundamentals of Genealogy: Basics for Everyone and Fundamentals of Genealogy: Medical Family Tree Workbook.  Genealogy Day participants will have a chance to win two of Marsha’s books, and have them signed during the lunch period from 1-2 pm.  Both Fundamentals of Genealogy titles are discounted 20% for this program, and priced at $20 each.   Cash and check payments are accepted for these items.

Make Your Lunch Orders with Brooks Cafe Today!

Save time standing in line! Order your Genealogy Day Box Lunch today!  Each lunch can be customized to suit your palate as well as your pocketbook.  You can purchase your Brooks Cafe lunch by calling (630) 685-4295 or by e-mail at info@brookscafe.net.  The deadline for placing a lunch order is Monday, April 28 at 8 p.m.

Heritage Hash debuts at Genealogy Day

In celebration of our Genealogy Day, Brooks Cafe is offering Heritage Hash, a tasty blend of raisins, sunflower seeds, pretzel balls, bagel chips, sesame sticks, coconut flakes, papaya, pineapple, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips in a 3 oz cup for $2.75.

There are still a few spaces open for genealogy day attendees, and we have three spaces open for society vendor booths.  If you would like to register for Genealogy Day, you can visit our online registration form, or contact the 3rd Floor Reference Desk at (630) 685-4176.

See You At Genealogy Day!

Debra

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New Chicago Indexing Projects on Family Search – Workday Wednesday

Attention researchers!  If you’ve been searching for new Chicago genealogy records, there are two amazing record sets available for indexing on FamilySearch right now!

family search projects

If you’re new to online indexing projects, FamilySearch indexing provides volunteers with a unique opportunity to contribute to the processing of genealogical records.  A free online registration, free software download, and a few tutorial videos later, you’re should be ready to participate in an indexing project.  Depending on your geographic research interests, there are collections available for the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, South America, and many more locations as well.  You do not need to read or write a second language to participate, but if you have any Spanish, Italian, German, Czech, Polish, Portuguese, French, or Korean language skills, you will definitely want to see what type of projects are available for indexing.

Illinois, Cook County—Deaths, 1959–1994 [Part B] English – 1959–1994 (Intermediate)

Many of these records are type written, clear, and easy to read.  There are few issues with informant signatures, as they can be in various stages of legibility.  You can glean a lot of information from these records, especially employment and cause of death.  In several instances, the work address of the deceased was included in each record. I was able to transcribe multiple batches in a morning, and really enjoyed how each record flowed into the next.  Maybe I missed my calling as a medical clerk.

As an interesting note, when looking at deaths occurring in a hospital, I was really surprised to see a the high number of nurses, admitting clerks, and hospital staff writing providing information as an informant.  In the earlier pre-1959 records, much of the family information had been provided by family members.

Illinois, Chicago—Catholic Church Records, 1833–1910 [Part A] English – 1833-1910 (Advanced)

Yes, a passing knowledge of Latin is helpful, but try this workaround: type the Latin entry texts into Google Translate, and you will see what information is needed for each column.  The advanced level of this project centers on deciphering handwriting and names in a variety of scripts.  It was good to use the Latin I learned in school this semester for the entry information.  On the other hand, I’m still shaky with deciphering handwriting.  With these two factors in mind, I was writing out a majority of the last names listed in each record.  This project took a bit longer than I would have liked, and I needed to take a break in the middle of one of the entries, but on the whole I felt pretty accomplished when I was finished.

What other indexing projects are you working on?  Share your thoughts, project information, or other tips and tidbits here!

See You at the Library!

Debra

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