What did your ancestors say about Valentine’s Day? – Treasure Chest Thursday

What words of love were shared between your loved ones on Valentines Day?   American culture has been quite attached to Valentines Day ever since the first Miss Esther A. Howland created our country’s first “fancy” valentine in 1849.  Valentine’s Day was a popular holiday in the United Kingdom, and it soon catapulted to popularity here in the states due to our appetite for tokens of romantic love, family, and beauty.  Valentines made Miss Howland rich beyond her wildest imaginings, and her shrewd business sense made her one of the wealthiest business women of her time.

A Valentine MessageSo now that a delivery device was available, what do you write in the card?  There were several etiquette books to provide structure of politeness and just the right amount of sentimentality.  If you’re looking for a few hints yourself, you can read Social Etiquette of New York by Abby Buchanan Longstreet.  Young people were invited to write their sentiments for prizes, with many of their entries becoming the fodder of local newspapers.  The Los Angeles Herald printed this article in their 1910 newspaper, with information of the writer and their school included.  Great stuff!

So now you’re looking for the words of your ancestors.  Have you tried looking through Valentines online on CardCow.com?  Here are a few lovely examples of the love notes shared between our ancestors:

Postcard Back, 1909 Feb-9 Postmark

9 Feb 1909 – To Irwin Letts (Orange, New York)

Postcard Back

Circ 1910 to Thelma Radwell from Edith Stahl (Stonington, IL)

Postcard Back, Feb-12 Postmark

Feb-12 to Mr. Lloyd Hill (Seattle, Washington)

You will also want to check out A Very British Romance, an excellent documentary of love and courtship through the ages.  You can watch it for free on YouTube.  I was really amazed to see how our ideas of love and courtship have developed with social influences, especially with the rise of the romance novel!

Do you have a library card? Because I’m checking you out!


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Registration Open for Free Irish Genealogy Workshop! – Thrifty Thursday

The Fountaindale Public Library District and the Plainfield Public Library District are hosting “Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success!” – a full day Irish genealogy workshop with the Ulster Historical Foundation on Wednesday,March 16, 2016 from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm at the Fountaindale Public Library, 300 W. Briarcliff Road in Bolingbrook, IL.

irelandmapThis multi-session program will feature the following sessions:

  • Introduction to Irish and Scots-Irish Family History Research (Part 1) (9:30-10:15)
  • Introduction to Irish and Scots-Irish Family History Research (Part 2) (10:15– 11:00)
  • Using Land Records: Griffith’s Valuation, Tithe and Estate Records  (11:30-12:30)
  • LUNCH (12:30–1:30)
  • Census Substitutes and other Important Sources for the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: Strategies for Success   (1:30-2:30)
  • Records Related to the Different Churches in Ireland (2:30-3:30)
  • Sources for Finding Seventeenth Century Families in Ireland – (3:45–4:15)
  • Q&A (4:15–4:30)

Can’t attend the presentation in person?  No problem!  The program will be available for free as a streaming webinar on YouTube! (Details to follow!)

Participants will enjoy light snacks, handouts, door prizes, and the opportunity to purchase Ulster Historical Society books during the program.  Participants are asked to bring a brown bag lunch or to pre-order a box lunch from Brooks Cafe.

The program is free, however space is limited to 75 participants and walk-in registration may not be available.  Reserve your space in the program online or call the Fountaindale Public Library 3rd Floor Reference Desk at (630) 685-4176.

The Ulster Historical Foundation will be making a stop at the Newberry Library on Thursday, March 10, 2016 during their North American Genealogical Lecture Tour.  For more details on the Newberry Library program, please call (312) 255-3700.

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Take a Free Beginning Genealogy Class Online with FutureLearn! – Motivation Monday

Genealogy Researching Your Family Tree Future Learn
I have waxed poetic about FutureLearn and its amazing free online classes in previous posts.  I’ve learned a lot from their history and forensic science courses, and I really enjoyed the course “England in the Time of Richard III,” which proved to be very popular given the 2014 archaeological discovery of the last Plantagenet king buried under a Leicester parking lot.

In an e-mail update today, FutureLearn announced the addition of Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree to the spring schedule.  The class is six weeks and begins on March 14, 2016.  This course is sure to be a boon to beginning genealogists, as this no-cost class offers participants the opportunity to learn techniques from my University of Strathclyde graduate school professor Tahitia McCabe.  Ms. McCabe is a fabulous instructor and educator, and the combination of reading, coursework, and online discussion boards will give participants a way to share their genealogical thoughts experiences.   When you’re finished with the FutureLearn Genealogy class, you may wish to pursue online coursework in the genealogical program at the University of Strathclyde.  The course looks daunting, but I can assure you it is a worthwhile experience to any researcher!

You may also want to enroll in Irish Lives in War and Revolution: Exploring Ireland’s History 1912-1923, which begins on March 14, 2016.  The centennial of the Easter Rising is just a few months away, and if you’re researching your Irish ancestry, it is well worth your while to know the background of Ireland’s Independence movement.

See You At the Library!

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Genealogy Club 2016 Events Schedule – Society Saturday

The Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Club will host series of exciting programs and monthly meetings in 2016.  All programs are free and open to the public.  Registration is required or encouraged for larger all-day events due to attendance limitations.  More information on our two live streaming events will be available in a separate blog post.  All our live streaming events are free and will be available to view on YouTube.

Wednesday, January 13   7 p.m.
You Use WHAT for Genealogy? 
Presented by Thomas MacEntee

Wednesday, February 10   7 p.m.
Cemetery Sleuthing
Presented by Patricia Biallas

Sunday, February 21   2 p.m.
Polish Genealogical Society of America Program
The Family Tapestry: Integrating Proof Arguments Into the Genealogical Narrative
Presented Jeanne Larzalere Bloom

Wednesday, March 9    7 p.m.
Researching at Appomattox Courthouse
Presented by Dr. Danial Hubbard

Wednesday, March 16   9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  LIVE STREAM ON YOUTUBE!
Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success!
Presented by the Ulster Historical Foundation
The Fountaindale Public Library and the Plainfield Public Library District will host an all day seminar on Irish genealogical research presented by the Ulster Historical Foundation. The program will include topics for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Participants are asked to bring a brown bag lunch or to order a box lunch from Brooks Cafe.
Registration opens January 1, 2016 by phone (630) 685-4176 or online on our website.

Wednesday, April 13   7 p.m.
Using Fold3
Presented by Caron Brennan

Saturday, May 7   9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.   LIVE STREAM ON YOUTUBE!
Genealogy Day – Hunting Down Sensational Stories 
Three fantastic speakers will show you new tools and research methods to find the sensational stories experienced by your ancestors. Registration begins February 14, 2016 by phone (630) 685-4176 or online on our website.

Wednesday, May 11  7 p.m.
Will County Illinois Resources
Presented by Tina Beaird

Wednesday, June 8   7 p.m.
Uncle Jake’s Farm: Federal Land A-Z
Presented by S. Elizabeth Ross

Wednesday, September 14  7 p.m.
Looking Beyond A Will: Probate Records
Presented by Jane Haldman

Wednesday, October 12   7 p.m.
Finding Your Genealogy via Secret Societies
Presented by Bob Allen

Wednesday, November 9    7 p.m.
Researching Colonial American Ancestors
Presented by Jane Haldman


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Tech Gifts for the Traveling Genealogist – Tuesday’s Tip

When you’re out and about on a genealogy research trip, there are certain things you may expect such as a clean bed, free wi-fi, and a convenient location to charge your phone.  There are small items that you may not know exist which can be a genealogists new best friend, especially if you’re out and about on an epic research road trip.  Here are a few gift ideas that will keep you or your genealogist organized, informed, and comfortable whilst conducting research on the go.

USB ChargerAmazonBasics 4.0 Amp Dual USB Car Charger for Apple and Android Devices 
You can keep your portable devices powered up and ready to go with an Amazon USB car charger.  The charger has two USB ports, which is perfect for charging your smartphone, tablet, fitness tracker, and so forth.  You and your research partner will have your devices charged and ready to go when you arrive at the library, cemetery, or archive.  This little device has a powerful and rapid charging rate, so you’ll be able to arrive with a full battery and ready to tackle those brick walls!  On the way home, this handy device will help your phone recover quickly so you can call ahead for take out or to keep your family informed of your whereabouts.

Retail Price: $7.99

Pomarks 4in1 Multi-function Pen, 32GB Flash Drive, Stylus & BUSB Pen Stylusallpoint Pen
Do you every have the feeling you’re missing something?  How many times have you walked out of the house and then remember you left your flash drive by the computer?  Those days are over my friend!  I found this cute Pomarks multi-function pen, which has several essential tools you need to keep your research in order.  I love this device because it has all these functions built into one expensive looking package:

  • Red Laser Pointer
  • Black Ballpoint Pen
  • Soft Stylus Tip
  • 32 GB Flash Drive
  • Emergency LED FlashLight

Yes, it’s very cool and looks like something James Bond would own.  Who says genealogists can’t travel with both substance and style?

Retail Price: $29.99

TaoTronics® Handheld Mobile Document Portable Scanner
handheld scannerPortable scanners have really come a long way in the last three years.  My one complaint with these handy devices has been the resolution sizes. I usually prefer to digitize items at the bare minimum of 600 DPI, especially if I know I won’t be back to conduct research in that archive, courthouse, or library again.  If you’re looking for a scanner that will give you the best DPI for your buck, this is a great product.  It has three resolutions (300, 600, and 900) and allows you to choose a JPEG or PDF format.  If you like to scan at the higher end of the resolution settings, you will want to purchase a 32 GB memory card for the device as well.  There’s also an upgraded model which scans at a 1050 DPI with an additional Optical Character Recognition option.   The upgraded item is very drool worthy!

Retail Price: $52.99      Upgraded: $79.95

Jackery Giant+ Dual USB Portable Battery Charger & External Battery Pack 
Dual USB ChargerWhen my friend Tina and I were researching in Ireland a few weeks ago, we were in dire need of a portable battery charger.  We ended up using her schizophrenic laptop as a portable charger, because we were hitting a library, government office, or archive nearly every day during our trip.  Jackery Portable Battery Packs are super reliable and charge your devices with limited downtime. I’m recommending this dual charger as it has the ability to  juice up your phone, a tablet, or another device quickly and conveniently.  Friends shouldn’t fight over a USB space, and they certainly shouldn’t have to rely on a broken laptop to keep their phones alive in Ireland.  Next time, I’m bringing this with me! Note: do not by this at the airport!  You can purchase it from Amazon.com for a huge discount.

Retail Price: $175; Sale Price $22.49

Four-in-One Leather Charging StationFour in One Charging Station
Keeping your gadgets organized, at hand, and ready to go should be a priority for every genealogist.  I have always admired the look of the multi-device charging stations, but many of them were made of wood or plastic, which are not quite aesthetically pleasing.  I found this faux leather multi-charging station device and I love it!  The leather looks very sharp and stylish.  I have used it to charge my tablet, smart phone, and fitness tracker all at once, with an extra space for friends to juice up their devices as well.  As it’s under the $30 price point, this handy little charging station makes for an organized room and a happy pocketbook.  I’m planning to purchase one for my parents next year, because it’s super useful, will work with their decor, and will help keep my father’s OCD in check.

Retail Price: $28.99

If you need more gift-giving inspiration, check out my previous post on holiday presents for hard working genealogists!

See You At the Library!

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Giving Thanks for Vintage Family Recipes – Matrilineal Monday

dinner tableSometimes your new favorite recipe isn’t the one found in a fancy upscale cookbook.   Generations of women have carefully compiled their family’s favorite dishes for church, charity, and patriotic publications for over a century. Many of these special and locally printed books are available online for free from Google Books and Internet Archive.  Try searching for phrases such as ‘church cookbook’, ‘[denomination] cookbook’ or ‘society cookbook’ in the search box of each of these sites to browse their selection.  And while you put the finishing touches on your holiday menus, you will want to take a look at some of these vintage recipes for delicious crowd-pleasing inspiration.

The Trinity Cook Book was compiled in 1925 by the ladies and family cooks of the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church in Roanoke, Virginia.  A marvelous cookbook of simple and tasty dishes, the Trinity Cook Book was a fundraiser for the church, and includes lovely bonus advertisements for local merchants and service providers.
There are extensive soup, sauce, and dessert chapters in the book, as well as some fantastic small plate and appetizer ideas such as these tasty morsels:

Looking for a potluck holiday dish?  Try a comfort food classic like Swiss steak, a creamy casserole, or a baked ham.  The ladies of the San Rafael Presbyterian Church brought the best of their family recipes from their pantries on the pages of their 1906 cookbook.  Here’s a pot roast recipe to try at your own holiday gathering:
Genealogy alert!  Each recipe provides credit to the ladies who contributed them to the cookbook.  In some instances, the contributors submitted multiple recipes in one or more chapters.  This is the equivalent of an early 20th century Facebook status post of a family dinner table.  What a great way to bridge time between the San Rafael of today with one from the last century.

The ladies of the Central Congregational Church of Topeka, Kansas compiled and published a cookbook  in 1913 for the 25th anniversary of their church.  There are many tasty desserts and meat dishes chronicled in this book, and there are no less than six separate ‘Nut Loaf’ recipes of varying instructions and ingredients.  Here is one of my favorites.  I can’t wait to give it a try!

Last year, I found one of the earliest recipes for Turkey and cranberry sauce from Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery book.  It may be interesting to compare this early recipe with one printed nearly 120 later in Favorite Dishes Contributed by the Daughters of the American Revolution.  All recipes, including this one for roast turkey, gravy, and dressing, were contributed by members of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
DAR Cookbook Turkey
This 1916 cookbook is bursting with lavish and impressive dishes for your guests and relations, as well as trusted serving advice, technique notes, and alternative ingredient recommendations.  If your DAR chapter is interested in hosting a historic potluck next year for the centennial of this book, this is the must-read for your members!
Here are two dessert recipes which will allow you to keep a classic staple on the table next to a seasonal sweet treat.  I found this recipe for a ‘Denver Explosion Pumpkin Pie’ which seems rather straightforward.  I do not know what explosion in Denver could have resulted in this pie’s name or reputation, but at least it’s an interesting story to tell around the dinner table.  You will also want to check out the Caramel Pie as a good substitute for those folks who may be allergic to the nuts in a Pecan pie.

Genealogists take note!  The book includes photos of not only the pastor and project organizers, but of nearly all the contributing female members of the church.  All the photos include a list of individuals in the photographs! If you have Topeka ancestors, you will want to check this book for family recipes you have never seen before!

Let’s give thanks for our families, our heirloom dishes, and the togetherness found during the holiday season!

See you at the Library!



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Nosferatu: A Special Silent Film Screening – Thriller Thursday

nosferatu1See the first vampire movie ever made! Experience the the thrill of an authentic 1922 Nosferatu-1922-postersilent film experience of Nosferatu, shown via film projector with a live organ music score and free popcorn!  Visit the Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook on Thursday, October 29 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A and see this classic movie just the way your ancestors would have enjoyed: with an old-fashioned projector and a live musical accompaniment!

Widely acclaimed and still rated one of the top five films in history, Nosferatu was  an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel.  Stoker’s heirs sued over the adaptation, and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed. However, a few prints of Nosferatu survived, and the film came to be regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema.

Our guest organist for the evening is Jay Warren, who is a regularly featured photoplay organist for the Silent Film Society of Chicago.  Jay will bring the the brooding and dramatic music of Nosferatu to life with a digital theater organ and powerful sound system.  Love silent films but can’t attend our program?  You can sign up for Jay’s mailing list and see a full list of his upcoming program on his website: http://www.silentfilmsjaywarren.com/events.html

Just to prove how serious we are about this program, our library ordered a vintage copy of IMG_2942Nosferatu from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.  MoMA has a large collection of historic and rare films from around the world, and they are available for loan to public libraries, organizations, and film groups.  The film was delivered today, and our staff is so excited to see this story come to live on the big screen!  Did we mention there’s going to be free popcorn at our event?

Understandably, you may have never seen a silent film before.  Maybe you’re concerned it will be boring, or just not terribly interesting.  But if you prefer Gothic atmosphere to gory violence, special effects without CGI, and a live music performance to a canned soundtrack, then come out to the show.  Take the plunge into a silent film experience with the confidence that wherever you are in Chicagoland, silent film events are keeping the original silver screen stories alive.

If you are outside Chicago and would like to have your own Nosferatu night, you can stream the movie on Netflix or for free through Internet Archive.

See you at the Library!

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