Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Value of a Library Card: 2015

It's National Library Week so I thought I would update a post I wrote in 2012

I conduct a lot of genealogy research from the comfort of my home computer. One of the key resources I use is my St. Louis County Public Library Card. (Other library systems, as well as some genealogy societies, provide similar resources for their users.)

Here's a sampling of databases I can search/browse from the comfort of my home, for free (complete list)

I have indicated the subscription price I'd have to pay without the library card
  • ($100/6 mos)
  • AccessibleArchives: African American Newspapers 19th century ($60/year*)
  • AcessibleArchives: Civil War – A Newspaper Perspective ($60/year*)
  • Fold3 ($80/year)
  • Newsbank: St. Louis Post Dispatch (1981-Current) ($200/yr**)
  • Newsbank: Access World News (1978-current) ($200/yr**)
Databases only available to libraries and other institutions - not by individual subscription
  • AlexanderStreet: American Civil War Research Database
  • AlexanderStreet: American Civil War Letters and Diaries
  • ProQuest: Historical New York Times (1851-2011) 
  • ProQuest: Historical St. Louis Post Dispatch (1874-1922) 
  • ProQuest Digital Microfilm - St. Louis Post Dispatch 1989-Present 
  • ProQuest Digital Sanborn Maps 1867-1970 Missouri and Illinois
  • Gale Cengage: Nineteenth Century US Newspapers
  • EBSCOhost: Academic Search Elite (1985-current)
While not genealogy-related I also value the following two resources:
And while I can't access it from home, it is available to me at the library:
So calculating only the databases which I could purchase access to as an individual, I am saving $1,144/year with my library card. Then there are the databases I can't purchase access to as an individual.

And this doesn't include the resources, in addition to Ancestry, available to me when I actually visit the library. Including:
I know I am lucky to live in St. Louis, as not every library has equivalent resources. However, if you don't check, you won't know what your library has to offer.

* The annual subscription provides access to all of the AccessibleArchives collections, which includes several others in addition to the ones listed above.
** The annual subscription at NewsBank's provides access to a large number of newspapers, but there is a North American focus, and there is a 500 article limit.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Defining a genealogical relationship

I think the people at Geni have played one two many games of Degrees of Kevin Bacon and are confused about what it means to be related.

They say William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are related.

This is not a genealogical relationship:

One might be able to call it a legal relationship. Though once you get beyond one set of in-laws I suspect that is questionable. And since there is one "ex" involved in the chain, the legal relationship that was created was also dissolved. Legally. Regardless, Geni isn't supposed to be a legal site. It's supposed to be a genealogy site.

If we accept legal relationships in genealogy, do we accept census definitions?

  • Are POSSLQs relatives? The US Census Bureau created the term. A relationship created by the US Government has to be considered a legal relationship.
  • Is a female who was in the same dormitory as me in college a POSSLQ? Were we related? Are we still related all these years later? Do I need to tell my wife?
  • What if, instead of a dormitory, it was a group house?

Yes, my wife and I have adopted twin sons. I don't claim a genealogical relationship with them. A legal relationship. A loving relationship. Not a genealogical one. When they grow older they may well 'adopt' my ancestors as their own, as many adoptees do. But the relationship will be one of the heart, similar to when someone refers to a friend of the family as "Uncle Joe" or "Aunt Jane." One doesn't expect to see these relationships on a genealogy website either.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Tartan Day 2015

Happy Tartan Day!

Today is the 695th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.

The Declaration of Arbroath is the Declaration of Scottish Independence. It took the form of a letter sent to Pope John XXII on April 6, 1320.

Originally written in Latin, an English translation follows:

To the Most Saintly Father in Christ the Lord, the Lord John, by divine Providence, Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, from his humble and devoted sons, Duncan - Earl of Fife, Thomas Ranulph - Earl of Moray, Lord of Man and Annandale, Patrick Dunbar - Earl of March, Malise - Earl of Strathearn, Malcolm - Earl of Leven, William - Earl of Ross, Magnus - Earl of Caithness and Orkney, and William - Earl of Sutherland; Walter - Seneschal of Scotland, William Soules - Butler of Scotland, James - Lord of Douglas, Roger Mowbray, David - Lord of Brechin, David Graham, Ingram Umfraville, John Menteith - Guardian of the Earldom of Menteith, Alexander Fraser, Gibert Hay - Constable of Scotland, Robert Keith - Marischal of Scotland, Henry Sinclair, John Graham, David Lindsay, William Olifaunt, Patrick Graham, John Fentoun, William Abernethy, David Wemys, William Montefix, Fergus Ardrossan, Eustace Maxwell, William Ramsay, William Montealt, Alan Moray, Donald Campbell, John Cameron, Reginald leChien, Alexander Setoun, Andrew Leslie, and Alexander Stratoun, along with the other Barons, Freeholders and all the common people of the kingdom of Scotland, we send every filial reverence with devoted kisses of your blessed feet.

Most Holy Father and Lord, we know from the deeds of the ancients and we read from books -- because among the other great nations of course, our nation of Scots has been described in many publications -- that crossing from Greater Scythia, via the Tyrhennian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and living in Spain among the fiercest tribes for many years, it could be conquered by no one anywhere, no matter how barbarous the tribes. Afterwards, coming from there, one thousand two hundred years from the Israelite people's crossing of the Red Sea, to its home in the west, which it now holds, having first thrown out the Britons and completely destroyed the Picts, and even though it was often attacked by the Norse, the Danes and the English, it fought back with many victories and countless labours and it has held itself ever since, free from all slavery, as the historians of old testify. In their own kingdom, one hundred and thirteen kings have reigned of their own Blood Royal, without interruption by foreigners.

The merits and nobility of these people, even if they were not obvious from the other signs, shine out openly enough from this, that even though they lived at the furthermost ends of the Earth, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, Jesus Christ after His Passion and His Resurrection, called them nearly the first to his most Holy Faith. Nor did He want to confirm them in the said Faith by anyone but the first to be an Apostle, despite being second or third in rank, the brother of the Blessed Peter, gentle Saint Andrew, whom ever since, He has asked to protect them as their Patron.

However, the Holy Fathers, your predecessors, considering these thoughts with a careful mind, bestowed on this very kingdom and people many favours and countless privileges since it was the special charge of Blessed Peter's brother. Thus, obviously, the result was that until now our people lived free and untroubled under their protection until that mighty prince, Edward, King of the English, the father of he who now reigns, came with the appearance of a friend and ally to harass like an enemy, our leaderless kingdom and our people who were accustomed neither to evil or treachery nor to battles or ambushes. He committed injustices, killings, attacks, robberies, arson, the imprisonment of priests, the burning of monasteries, the looting of churches, and countless other enormous outrages, on the said people sparing no one on account of age or sex, saintliness or rank, to an extent that no one could describe nor fully believe unless they had experienced it.

From these countless evils, with His help who afterwards soothes and heals wounds, we are freed by our tireless leader, king, and master, Lord Robert, who like another Maccabaeus or Joshua, underwent toil and tiredness, hunger and danger with a light spirit in order to free the people and his inheritance from the hands of his enemies. And now, the divine Will, our just laws and customs, which we will defend to the death, the right of succession and the due consent and assent of all of us have made him our leader and our king. To this man, inasmuch as he saved our people, and for upholding our freedom, we are bound by right as much as by his merits, and choose to follow him in all that he does.

But if he should cease from these beginnings, wishing to give us or our kingdom to the English or the king of the English, we would immediately take steps to drive him out as the enemy and the subverter of his own rights and ours, and install another King who would make good our defence. Because, while a hundred of us remain alive, we will not submit in the slightest measure, to the domination of the English. We do not fight for honour, riches, or glory, but solely for freedom which no true man gives up but with his life.

It is for these reasons, Reverend Father and Lord, that we beg your holiness with humble hearts and every urgent prayer, knowing that you will review everything with a true heart and a saintly mind since before Him in Whose name you reign on Earth there is neither bias nor difference between Jew or Greek, Scot or Angle, and considering the trouble and anguish brought on us by the English, that you will warn the king of the English, that he ought to be satisfied with what he owns because once it used to be enough for seven kings, and that you will think it right to encourage him to leave us Scots in peace, living in poor Scotland beyond which there is nothing habitable and nothing we desire. For this, we will effectively do whatever we can to gain peace, bearing in mind our situation.

For this concerns you, Holy Father, since you see the raging ferocity of the pagans against Christians, which the sins of the Christians deserve, and the borders of Christendom being pushed back every day and you must see how much it will hurt your saintly reputation, if (which let it not) any part of the church is overcome or induced to sin during your time. Therefore let Him rouse those Christian leaders who say that they cannot go in support of the Holy Land for no reason although they pretend that the reason is wars with their neighbours. The reason for their difficulties is actually because they expect better rewards and weaker resistance in warring with their smaller neighbours. But the omniscient One knows well enough with how light a heart we and our aforesaid lord and king would go there, if the king of the English would leave us in peace.

If your Holiness, trusting too much in the English version of these events, does not truly believe us, or does not stop supporting them to our disadvantage, then, we believe that the slaughter of bodies, the loss of souls, and all the other things that will follow, the injuries that they will do to us and we to them, will be blamed by the Most High on you.

Thus, as if your sons, we are and always will be ready to do for you, His vicar, whatever you require insofar as it is our duty; and so, we commit the upholding of our cause to the Supreme King and Judge, entrusting our worries to Him and completely confident that He will fill us with courage and reduce our enemies to nothing

May God grant you holiness and health in His holy church for a long time.

Sent from the Monastery of Arbroath in Scotland, on the 6th day of the month April, in the year of Grace 1320, the fifteenth year of our abovementioned king's reign.


My wife is from Clan Wallace, and with the reference to the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, the comparison of Robert to the Maccabees and Joshua, and the statement that in the Lord’s eyes there “is neither bias nor difference between Jew or Greek, Scot or Angle” – she and I found the text especially meaningful this year, Tartan Day coinciding with the Passover holiday.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Corned Beef on Rye

Corned Beef and Cabbage on Rye

To the left is a bio my great-grandfather Barney Newmark submitted to the North St. Louis Businessman's Association for their 1925 publication.

Are such bios trustworthy sources? Let's take a look.

Proprietor of a tailor shop, 1520 St. Louis avenue;

Native of Dublin, Ireland;
Attended public schools in Ireland;
Not quite. While we don't have a birth certificate, all evidence suggests he was born in what I like to call a suburb of Dublin, known as Warka, Poland. Google Maps will provide driving directions, and it will only take you 23 hours. (With the help of some ferries.)

Student at Oxford;
Barney doesn't say "Oxford University" or "Oxford College". During the 14 years spent in London, England, he lived within walking distance of Oxford Street, and the Oxford Circus Railway Station. He was a student of life. Perhaps there was even a local school on Oxford Street.

Learned the tailoring trade at the London Polytechnic, London, England;

For a while it was assumed this was also a stretch of his imagination. But research revealed that the London Polytechnic was short for The London Polytechnic Young Men's Christian Institute, and like some branches of its American cousin, they provided skills training to local youth. Certainly, Barney learned the tailoring trade from his father, who was also a tailor. However, he may have had instruction at the local Y as well.


Everything after that is also true. So the only outright fib was his country of origin. There was a large Irish community in St. Louis, and my suspicion is that since "Barney" isn't an uncommon Irish name, many of his customers would ask him if he were Irish, and he finally decided to say "yes." (With his fourteen years in England as an explanation of the absence of the accent.)

He also would say that his birthday was March 17th. His birthday appears as March 25th and April 14th on a few documents. I discussed recently how the Gregorian and Julian calendars might partially account for the different dates.

Eight years ago, after I discussed my great grandfather's 'blarney', a friend sent me a link to an online census document. I had always been interested in my ancestry, but had no clue what was available online. The rest, as they say, is family history.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Past St. Patrick's Day posts

March 16, 2014: Happy St. Patrick's Day 2014
March 16, 2013: Happy St. Patrick's Day
March 17, 2012: Happy 126th Birthday to my Great Grandfather
March 17, 2011: Happy St. Patrick's Day
March 17, 2010: Barney's Birthday and Birthplace
March 17, 2009: On St. Patrick's Day Everyone is Irish
March 17, 2008: My 'Irish' Great Grandfather
March 15, 2007: Corned Beef and Cabbage on Rye

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

National Genealogical Society Family History Conference - Social Media Press

I received an email on Monday from the National Genealogical Society:

It began:
Congratulations! You have been accepted as a member of the official social media for the NGS 2015 Family History Conference. NGS looks forward to working with you to communicate conference news to the genealogical community and beyond.
I look forward to covering the conference. I will be seeing it through the eyes of someone who has never been to a genealogy conference. I have placed the Official Blogger logo in the sidebar to the left.

I've already begun to plan what panels I will go to when.

For those who are coming to the conference who would like to be an official member of the Social Media Press: you can apply here through March 16th.

For those interested in attending, but who haven't registered yet: The 'early bird deadline' for registering for the conference is 30 March 2015. For more information see page 15 of the registration brochure (pdf).

For those who are unable to attend: They are offering a couple different Live Streaming packages.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Who Do You Think You Are - Season Six

"Who Do You Think You Are?" returns to TLC on Sunday with a new season of celebrity genealogies. The eight guests scheduled for this season are:

  • Julie Chen, CBS news anchor, and producer (Big Brother, Early Show, The Talk)
  • Angie Harmon, Actress (Law and Order, Rizzoli and Isles)
  • Sean Hayes, Actor (Will and Grace)
  • Bill Paxton, Actor (Apollo 13, Aliens, Hatfields and McCoys)
  • Melissa Etheridge, Singer-Songwriter
  • America Ferrera, Actress (Ugly Betty, How to Train Your Dragon)
  • Tony Goldwyn, Actor (Ghost, Tarzan)
  • Josh Groban, Singer-Songwriter, Actor

In the past, I've stated that I'd naturally like for them to research a celebrity whose tree intersects with mine. For a brief moment in Season Two, back in 2011, I thought that might happen. Ashley Judd is a distant cousin of mine through Thomas and Katherine Stoughton. However, Judd's episode didn't focus on that branch of hers. So, that hasn't happened yet, and while I could be surprised, I doubt that it will happen for any of these eight. Perhaps next season.

While the shows haven't had a direct impact on my research, over the years I have seen parallels in the ancestries of some of the celebrities. For example, Sarah Jessica Parker's father is of Eastern European Jewish descent, and the show traced her mother back to Salem, Massachusetts. (I am distant kin to Salem's Chief Justice, William Stoughton. Fortunately, not a direct descendant.)

It has also been enjoyable to watch those celebrities who seem to actually conduct some of the research themselves, instead of simply react emotionally to what the researchers present to them.

I look forward to seeing what this season has to present.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Leonard Nimoy and Me

Leonard Nimoy, Actor, Director, and Photographer, passed away yesterday February 27, 2015. He was known best for playing the role of Spock, on Star Trek.

As far as I know, I am not related to him.

His parents were born in Iziaslav, Volhynia [source], which is about 150km from Zhitomir, Volhynia, where I believe some of my Dudelczak ancestors may have lived.

I am a long-time Trekkie. Back in 2007 I posted a photograph of myself from a 1992 or 1993 Jerry Lewis Telethon, wearing a Star Trek uniform.

In 2010 I expressed excitement upon discovering, according to his tombstone, my great grandfather was descended either from Vulcans or Aaron, brother of Moses. (As I noted then, either descent would be equally difficult to trace.)

Nimoy died from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which he blamed on his years of smoking.
Both of my paternal grandparents died from smoking-related causes. I can't echo his sentiments enough.

In November of 2007 I had the opportunity to hear Nimoy speak at the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival. He was there to sell and sign copies of two books: The Full Body Project, a collection of photography, and A Lifetime of Love, a collection of poetry. I brought home the latter.

He will be missed, and remembered, by a legion of fans, as well as by his friends, and loved ones.