Missing Ancestor: Gone to California — and Prison?

June 15, 2010

If you have an ancestor who disappeared from the old homestead and family memory between 1851 and 1944, he or she might have gone to the Golden State to make a fortune, but found trouble instead. The Genealogy Center has San Quentin Prison List of Convicts (979.4 M33RO and M33ROA) which provides an alphabetical list of inmates with their convict numbers. The introduction cautions a researcher to be aware that first and last names were occasionally reversed, and that, of course, spelling of names could be inaccurate. No further information is provided in the index, but there is a guide to the years in which specific numbers were issued to narrow down a search. The records themselves are held by the California State Archives.


World Vital Records.com

June 11, 2010

Another database available at the Genealogy Center is WorldVitalRecords.com. The online site takes a different approach to searching for family history. Besides offering you access to information off their site, such as vital records and military records, they are a clearinghouse that guides you to other genealogy web sites. For example, you can search for one individual and find links to Find A Grave, Newspaper Archive, National Personnel Records Center, Footnote, Find My Past, and the Godfrey Collection.


You Can’t Always Find It By Browsing!

May 27, 2010

Sometimes in the Genealogy Center, a useful book pertinent to a particular location is not found under a particular subject entry or title. Consider the book, On the Eve of Conquest: The Chevalier de Raymond’s Critique of New France in 1754, edited by Joseph L. Peyser and published by Michigan State University Press in 1997. The book is cataloged as 971 R214o, which is a general Canadian number. However, “New France” in the 1750s, before the conclusion of the French and Indian War, comprised a large portion of the upper Midwest and Great Lakes of what would become the United States. Charles de Raymond, the central figure of the work, was the commandant of Fort St. Joseph at what is now Fort Wayne in the 1750s. The book contains a useful, first-hand account of this and other areas occupied by the French, but not strictly about Canada. If you are researching the French period of Fort Wayne’s history, or indeed, those of other French-occupied settlements of the 1750s, this book deserves a closer look.


Paper of Record.com

May 4, 2010

Newspapers provide a wealth of knowledge concerning the everyday life of our ancestors. Besides articles concerning daily and historical events, newspapers also published notices pertaining to visits from family members, births, marriages, divorces, deaths, property being probated, and other details. Paper of Record.com, a database available at the Genealogy Center, provides digital access to historical newspapers from across the globe.


Class of whatever

May 3, 2010

It is the book for which most everyone eagerly awaits in the spring (or fall), and the only one that you could write in without getting into trouble. It is the yearbook, filled with photos and description of students, teachers, and staff in various activities. School yearbooks started at the college level and many were collections of student essays, poetry and fiction, altering over the years to become memory books we know today, and descending through high school, then elementary schools. The Genealogy Center’s extensive collection of local school annuals is a popular draw for current and former residents of the city as they locate themselves, parents or friends. Older yearbooks can also bring a grandparent to life for a younger member of the family, adding information about interests and activities, or can verify the presence of the student in a given place at a specific time.

The Genealogy Center actively collects Allen County school yearbooks, and is happy to receive donations of yearbooks from any location, so when you know someone looking to dispose of their old annuals, or if you are thinning your own book shelves, please remember that we’d be happy to find space for these important resources in the collection.


The changing streets of the city

April 26, 2010

If you’ve ever followed a family through the census or city directories, and suddenly find that they have moved to a different address on the same street, it may be that they did not move at all, but that the city had changed street numbering systems. As some towns grew, houses or buildings were often just numbered as they were built, counting out from the town center. This became a problem when additional buildings were inserted. Most cities eventually went to a more organized system, usually counting each block as one hundred, and numbering buildings in a correspondingly appropriate position within the hundred and assigning even and odd numbered sides to the streets.

The 1902 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for Fort Wayne shows both old and new street numbers.

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps may be able to help you to determine the corresponding old and new street numbers. When a city was in the process of making such a change, the maps would print both old and new building numbers, so if you encounter such a situation, check to see if Fire Insurance Maps were made for the city. The Genealogy Center has Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress, which will help you determine if maps were issued for the city you are searching. The maps will also provide answers if the street name itself has changed, and can help you determine exactly where your ancestor lived.


Printing from Ancestry.com

April 22, 2010

Ancestry.com is an online database available at the Genealogy Center, where you can access the 1790-1930 Census, Passenger Lists, Military Records, Family Trees, and much more. Once you find the record you have been searching for years to discover, you might want a copy of it for your records.
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