Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- January 24 to January 30
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

James Tanner at Genealogy's Star writes about The Future of FamilySearch

In Lithuania: View your shtetl from the air and Lithuania: Joining a SIG is a good idea! Schelly Talalay Dardashti at Tracing the Tribe discusses two resources for researching Lithuanian roots.

At The Genealogue Chris Dunham corrects the New York Times on the birthplace of J.D Salinger's mother. (Iowa, not Scotland.)

Apple at Apple's Tree discovers a revolutionary war pension application of a possible relative at, and upon looking at it, realizes it doesn't match a transcription she had read in a 1918 genealogy. Finding the original pays off.

At Nordic Blue Chery Kinnick continues and concludes The Best Laid Genealogical Plans - the story of her search for her birth father.

NBC has released a preview of the upcoming series, Who Do You Think You Are

MA newly elected Senator, Scott Brown, is related to President Obama. (10th cousins. I'm 9th cousins with John Kerry, and 7th cousins with William Holden and Patrick Swayze, so I'm not too impressed.)

George Stephanopoulos may be (very) distantly related to Hillary Clinton - though the potential linkage appears to be 'deduced' from a genetic trait discovered in a DNA test Stephanopoulos took, but which Clinton hasn't taken. 'Genealogists believe Clinton shares' the trait, but the news story doesn't indicate why they believe this. It sounds very fuzzy to me.

Egypt has set a date to announce the DNA results for King Tut

The related discussion of writing memoirs has been brought up in the past by some genea-bloggers. 91 year-old science fiction author, Frederik Pohl, has been writing and posting updates to his memoir at The Way the Future Blogs. Recently, he discussed how he met Isaac Asimov. (The post includes a photograph of a cleanshaven Asimov from the 1930s.)

Yesterday, January 30, was the Jewish holiday of Tu B'shevat. Sometimes referred to as New Year of the Trees, or Jewish Arbor Day.

For other weekly lists visit:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ode to Sarah Hartley Denyer Foster (1836-1898)

It's time for the 89th Carnival of Genealogy: Ode to My Family's History - Where we were challenged to compose a poem appropriate 'as an introduction for a book or video on your family history.'

Poetry is one of my passions, and I've posted a lot of poetry on this blog -- my own and others. Below are a few that pertain directly to my family history:
  • Ida (Denyer) Green wrote the poem Mother, about Zerelda Ann (Singleton) Denyer. Ida's father was the brother of my second great grandfather, Ebenezer Denyer. Ida spent some time living with her Uncle Ebenezer and Aunt Sarah (Hartley) Denyer after both her parents had died.
  • My maternal grandmother's sister, Willa Van Every, also wrote a poem called Mother, about my great grandmother, Margaret (Denyer) Van Every, and Willa also mentions several of her siblings.
  • I wrote Where I'm From - based on George Ella Lyon's Copy-Change template of the same name.
I've also written:
As soon as I heard the carnival theme, I knew I had to participate, even though any family history collections are likely a few years away from being written. I still have a lot of research to do. While I composed two odes, I am only going to share one of them. The other I am going to put aside for reasons of my own.

Ode to Sarah Hartley Denyer Foster (1836-1898)

she could tree a rabbit
catch a mess of fish
and raise a garden.

A granddaughter's description
of our shared ancestress,
a self-proclaimed Choctaw.

She married the son
of an itinerant minister
as the nation moved towards war.

Let's see if we too
can tree a few rabbits
as we pursue

the details of her life
and the lives of the children
she raised on her garden.

©2010 John C Newmark

Credits: Carnival Poster by footnoteMaven

Friday, January 29, 2010

Minnie Van Every and the Happyhammers

Randy at Genea-Musings talks about his Forest Gump Method of Genealogy Research:
Genealogy research is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to find, but you have to look everywhere your 'genealogy gem' might be hiding
He wrote about searching the newspapers at the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America. (Containing newspapers from 1880-1922 in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.)

I hadn’t searched it before, and I agree with the method, so I followed the link.

First I searched in Missouri for some paternal surnames, without any success. (None of the newspapers are from the St. Louis area.)

Then I went south to Texas and searched for some maternal surnames, and hit a jackpot of Happyhammers.

What’s a Happyhammer?
“The Happyhammers are the young people...who read the Youth’s Department of The Houston Post. There are no fees or charges of any kind connected with the club. Boys and girls who read The Post may be enrolled as active members by sending name, age, and address.

It is the object of all Happyhammers to hammer happiness when and wherever possible.” Hence the club name and motto.
My maternal great aunt, Minnie Van Every wrote almost a dozen letters that were published between 1897 and 1901, between the age of 13 and 17. (The final one was cosigned by her younger sister, Willa)

The letters are great fun to read, and show she was receiving a solid education in the Texas schools of that time.

There was even a tidbit of genealogical interest to record, as each letter indicated the town from which she wrote. Most of the letters came from Maxwell, Texas, where I knew my grandmother was born in 1900. However, a couple letters in 1898 came from Ganado, Texas, which is a good 100 miles Southeast of Maxwell. I didn't know the Van Every family had spent some time there. It was very brief though, since the 1897 letters were from Maxwell, too. It's even possible she was writing from there, but not living there. (Maybe visiting relatives.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Problems with The Full Wiki

James Tanner at Genealogy's Star discusses a new website, The Full Wiki on this entry and this one.

I commented on the first entry explaining a few criticisms I had about the website, and I don't think I made myself clear, so I decided to provide some more details, as I agree that the website does look intriguing.  But underneath, there are some serious issues.

The Full Wiki proclaims (at the bottom of their main page):
We are building the largest collection of free licensed work on the internet. We have already brought together the collective works of Wikipedia, Wikiquote, WikiTravell, Wiktionary and for nostalgia, the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1911.
So The Full Wiki basically provides you a search engine to search these five websites together.  Why not go to each website separately? does seem to be easier to go to one than to five --- and one assumes they will add more.  (WikiSource seems a prime candidate.  At least I was surprised not to see it on the list.)

But at The Full Wiki you're not really searching those websites.  You're going back in time and searching those websites an unidentified number of days ago.  Let me show you exactly how I know this.

I am not only obsessed with Genealogy.  Perhaps my other single greatest obsession is the French author, Victor Hugo.  I love typing his name into search engines. Since I don't usually search Wikipedia and other WikiMedia sites for genealogy information, Hugo's name was the very first name I entered into The Full Wiki's search box.

Here are the results

A whole lot of results.  But it's clear I want to follow at the first link, so I do.

At first glance, you might think you're looking at the current Wikipedia page, plus a cool map of all the locations mentioned in the entry.  But you aren't.  Here's the current page.

 You'll notice Victor Hugo's full name on the current Wikipedia page is Victor-Marie Hugo.  That's his correct name.  It is NOT Victor-Mariana Clemencia Hugo, though that is what the text at The Full Wiki says.  It took a bit of research in the history section of the Wikipedia page, but that is a bit of vandalism that appeared on the entry from November 24 to December 10th of 2009.  So the snapshot of the Victor Hugo entry is somewhere between 1 month and 2 months old.

How old are the other entries?  I have no clue.  There's no way to tell on the website, as they don't tell you anywhere.  I don't blame them.  Would you tell your potential users that the content on your site -- content that is a copy of websites that are in constant change -- is over a month old?

I can not correct this error at The Full Wiki.  There is no Edit tab.  All I can do is wait for The Full Wiki to take another snapshot of the entry at Wikipedia that has been correct for over a month now.  When will this be?  Tomorrow?  A week, month, year from now?  I have no clue.  And when they take another snapshot, will that snapshot have something else wrong with it?  Maybe something that lasted only a couple seconds, but will last much longer than that at The Full Wiki.

On Wikipedia you can go to the History tab and see what the page looked like at what date.  You can find out how long information has existed on the page.  Besides source citations, this is your best clue about the accuracy of the information.  But you can't do that at The Full Wiki.  Did their robotic scripts take a picture of the entry you are researching at the wrong moment, right after someone vandalised it?  Vandalism is common on Wikipedia, but it usually lasts a relatively short time.  Minutes, maybe hours.  (It is rare for it to last as long as the vandalism on the Victor Hugo entry appears to have.)  But The Full Wiki is freezing entries in a moment of time, and that means it's freezing the vandalism too.

The Full Wiki copyright notice does provide a link to the orignal entry at the bottom of the page.

But it's not very noticeable, and nowhere does it say how old their snapshot is.  I suspect few people would assume it was over a month old.  If someone doesn't know that what they are looking at is old, they have no reason to check out the current version.

For this reason, I don't see much of an advantage to conducting most research at The Full Wiki, or supporting the concept.  Especially when you can create a Google Custom Search Engine that will search all five of these websites (and likely any other websites they add in the future)  And these search results WILL take you to the current pages.

There is one, and only one thing that I can see that it does well.

The Full Wiki is a product of NationMaster, and NationMaster seems to be an excellent site for comparing statistics about countries.  They are promoting The Full Wiki as a mashup of Wikipedia and Google Maps.  This mashup might be useful.  For example, when you are reading the entry on Victor Hugo you can visually see where France is.  In case you didn't know where France is.

I think we can trust this information too, as the location of France doesn't change much over time. more criticism...because I can't resist.

Read the indented quote at the top of this entry. I didn't make any changes from the text on the website.  It really does say WikiTravell with two 'l's. And the link is a broken one.

Wordless Wednesday - Flower Painting by 'Grandmother Van Every'

Move cursor over image for details.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Belle "Sissie" (Feinstein) Newmark (1914-2002)

My paternal grandmother, Belle Feinstein, was born on August 14, 1914 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The second child of Herman and Anna (Blatt) Feinstein.  As a child, her older brother, Bernard (Benny), gave her the nickname, Sissie.  The nickname remained with her the rest of her life, and ultimately the only people who referred to her by her real name were those who didn't know her, such as telephone solicitors.

As I mentioned last week, she secretly married my grandfather, Melvin Newmark, on May 10, 1936.  They had another wedding 8 months later, and it was many years before anyone found out about the first.

She passed away on October 11, 2002, and is buried at United Hebrew Cemetery in St. Louis. 

I had begun a blog five months earlier.  This is what I wrote then:
My grandmother passed away Friday, Oct 11, 2002. (Chesvan 5, 5763). Her favorite television shows were Seinfeld, Friends, and Will and Grace. Perhaps partially due to her grandkids who came over for dinner every Thursday night. But the audience share for Must See TV will now skew even younger.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: I Know You Will Come Back to Me

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.  If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments.

I meant to spend the last two Mondays of January with the transcription of the final 20 minutes of the tape my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, and his siblings recorded in 1977. However, I only managed to transcribe seven of the ten minutes necessary for today's post.  So, I will push that back a week and share part of a letter my grandmother, Myrtle (Van Every) Deutsch, wrote my grandfather in March of 1943.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- January 17 to January 23
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere
  • ArchivesNext reports Flickr has a sufficiently large queue of organizations that want to join the Commons, that they have had to block new requests to handle the backlog. The Commons is Flickr's photo gallery from libraries and archives of items without any known copyright restrictions.
  • Michael John Neill at RootDig has been noting recently several errors or strangenesses at Google Books. For example, he discovered several journals classified as Juvenile Fiction. This reminded me that Gleanings in Bee Culture, where I've found several articles mentioning my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every, is classified as Juvenile Non-Fiction. (At least they got the non-fiction part correct with that.)
  • New Uses for Facebook: A traveler found a lost camera on the Greek Island of Mykenos, and decided to use Facebook and the principle of Six Degrees of Separation to find its owner. They were successful (it took two and a half weeks.)
  • James Tanner at Genealogy's Star has an entry on Challenges of Genealogy for the Disabled. He asks for input. It's a topic I'm attuned to, as I work at an agency that provides services for the disabled. My first thought is that I suspect many websites we find to be great resources in our research aren't as accessible as they should be.
  • ArchivesFound and ArchivesNext both have entries discussing Preserving the American Historical Record (PAHR), a bill in Congress "to provide federal formula grants to every state for projects that preserve historical records and make them more accessible."
For other weekly lists visit:

Friday, January 22, 2010

How Genealogy and History Can Determine Your Age - 2010

Since I did this back in 2008 and 2009 I made the necessary revision for 2010.

A close comparison of posts will illustrate what needs to be changed each year, and the comments last year included a mathematical explanation by someone on how this works, for those who are curious.

 This takes less than a minute. Work this out as you read .

Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out!

1. How many Great-Grandparents do you have full name, date of birth, and date of death for?

Secondary spouses don't count. Only (pardon the redundancy) direct ancestors count.

2. Multiply by the number of biological parents you have, regardless of whether or not you have any information on them. (Everyone should have the same answer here. 2.)

3. Add the number next to your paternal grandmother on your ahnentafel chart. (Once again, everyone should have the same number. 5.)

4. To honor the year the Roman Emperor, Claudius, adopted Nero -- Multiply it by 50

5. To honor King George III, ruler of Great Britain when the US revolted, add 1760, the year he ascended the throne.

6. If you haven't had your birthday yet this year, subtract 1.

7. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should have a three digit number

The first digit of this is the number of great grandparents you have all that information on!

The next two numbers are:


Don't deny it!

Note: This will not work if you are at least 100 years old. (But, congratulations!) This will also have to be tweaked, just a little, in future years. Only one step will have to be changed, though. I'll leave it up to you to figure out which one.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Took the day off from work today

Today was the anniversary of my birth, so I decided to take the day off from work and do a few things I enjoy.

At 8:55 am I was standing in front of a locked door at the St. Louis County Library. I only had to stand there for five minutes.

I had a list of two dozen issues of the St. Louis Globe Democrat I wanted to research for stories on relatives. I had obtained the list from the Globe Democrat Clippings Index. Unfortunately, all they provide is the date, and a brief description of the article. No page numbers. If I went to the Mercantile Library, where they have the clippings, I could provide them with the envelope number and they'd go right to it, but they charge fairly exorbitant prices for copying. (For non-members, it's $66/hour research and copying fee, charged in quarter-increments. So at least $16.50. And then in addition they charge 35c a copy.) The St. Louis County Library doesn't charge anything, as long as you're using one of their digital scanners. I decided I was willing to search the microfilm for the stories.

I only made it half way through the list, and there were a couple stories I searched for and couldn't find. But I found ten, three of which contained photographs. The stories included a description of a wedding, a college student who was trying to sell a pet boa constrictor, a high school student who had a year abroad with the Foreign Service, and a relative who was arrested and accused of a crime. (Will have to do some research to find out if he was convicted. I've already made the decision not to blog details about close relatives who have committed serious crimes. It will be written down for family, but not broadcast)

I left the library at 11:30, and joined my mother for lunch at Lester's Bar and Grill

I had an urge to return to the library, but I had made other plans. I went to a nearby cinema and saw Avatar in 3-D. I enjoyed it. The basic plot is certainly old. Fantasy author, Peter David, jokingly predicts that once Disney is finished filming Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel "John Carter of Mars." there will be some who accuse them of ripping off Avatar. Combine Barsoom with the Star Trek episode The Cage and add the f/x, and you have the movie. But the f/x make the film what it is. After Avatar was over, I couldn't resist a double feature, and I watched Sherlock Holmes. Not exactly the most traditional version of the Holmes character, but I thought the movie was well done.

I returned home and discovered that Blogger-in-Draft had disabled their new 'pages' feature I talked about yesterday. Pages that were created yesterday still work, and are editable, so I am glad I was quick. I suspect it won't be disabled too long though -- they're probably fixing the glitch I mentioned with the formatting.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pages come to Blogger-in-Draft

Note: As of 9 am this morning, January 21, Pacific time, this feature was 'temporarily' disabled. While pages created work, new pages can't currently be added. Pages were restored at 9:32 PM Pacific according to the link above.

If you're actually reading this on the website, and not on Facebook, or through a newsfeed, you will see links at the top of the blog to several pages I have created.

Pages are something new for Blogger - released today in "Blogger-in-Draft." If you have a 'Blogger' blog, you can access Blogger-in-Draft at New features for the blogging software are released there first, giving users a chance to "beta-test" them.

Those of you who use WordPress, perhaps Blogger's biggest competitor, may be scratching your head in disbelief, as WordPress has had pages for years. Basically, pages are the same thing as posts, but they don't have dates attached to them. So they don't appear in your archive. You link to them in your sidebar or underneath your header as I have done.

The Blogger-in-Draft blog has an explanation, with more details.

The pages I created are copies of pages I had created at my personal domain, and had been linking to from my sidebar. I removed the links, as they will be easier to edit and update here. Several of them do need some updating.

If you try it, and discover that your paragraph breaks are disappearing, under Post Options change "convert newlines" to "ignore newlines." That should work. Blogger will probably fix this bug soon, and you won't have to do that. Playing with something when it is in 'beta' always has its quirks.

A hat tip to Jasia, who mentioned this new feature on Facebook, and Miriam who shared it on Google Reader. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known about it.

Wordful Wednesday: Van Every Children circa 1894

Sometimes one has a photograph one wants to share on 'Wordless Wednesday', but one has something to say about it.

This photograph was in a box my maternal aunt recently shipped. She's moving, and decided instead of taking the box with her, she'd ship the contents to my mother and me. The photograph came with a letter identifying the individuals in the photograph as the older siblings of my grandmother, Myrtle Van Every, taken a few years before she was born. The letter was written by the daughter of the youngest in the photo.

Back Row (left to right) Samuel and Minnie
Front Row (left to right) Willa and Evelyn (Evva)

Evva, the youngest, was born in March of 1892, dating the photograph to not too long after that. My grandmother wasn't born until 1900. Significantly younger than her siblings, she was already an aunt by age 5. She was 38 years old before she had her first child, throwing the generational charts completely out of whack.

I've written several posts about my Uncle Sam. I've posted a poem and a letter written by Willa. Here's a photograph of my grandmother with Minnie and Evelyn, taken in 1947.

This photograph gives me some hope that I might someday find a photograph of my second great grandmother, Sarah Ann (Hartley) Denyer. She lived until 1898, and spent her final years living with the Van Every family (her daughter and son-in-law.) I'm confident she was alive when this photograph was taken, so a photograph could have been taken of her.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Melvin Lester Newmark (1912-1992)

My grandfather, Melvin Lester Newmark, was born on August 27, 1912, on the one year wedding anniversary of his parents, Barney and Bertha (Cruvant) Newmark. Through his initials, he was named after his grandfather, Moshe Leyb Cruvant.

He married my grandmother, Belle Feinstein, near midnight on May 10, 1936 in Waterloo, Illinois. Neither family was told. There seems to have been no reason for the secrecy beyond the two being unable to wait for the family wedding that was held six months later in January of 1937.

He died on January 22, 1992, while vacationing in Palm Springs, Riverside, California. He is buried at United Hebrew Cemetery in St. Louis.

There are several things I believe I inherited from my paternal grandfather - a passion for word games, such as the crossword puzzle; a love for food; and a constant smile.

Monday, January 18, 2010

88th Carnival of Genealogy Has Been Posted

Jasia at CreativeGene has posted the 88th Carnival of Genealogy . There were 17 submissions on the topic of Volunteerism.

The topic for the 89th Carnival was a pleasant surprise for me.
The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Ode to My Family's History! This time around we'll be composing a poem that tells our family's history. It can be long or short, rhyme or not rhyme, funny or serious, illustrated or not... you choose, but make it appropriate as an introduction for a book or video on your family history. The challenge is on! The deadline for submissions is February 1st, 30 submissions accepted. [more info]
I could take the easy path, and post a poem I've already written. No one would know the difference (except for the few people who read this blog that are also members of my writer's group, and who might remember the poem I chose.)

However, I suspect even if this is a popular edition, I will have enough time to compose something new. Besides, the poem I've written that would best serve as an introduction for a book of family history has already been posted to this blog, and graces the sidebar if you scroll down far enough. It's time to write something new.

I Have A Dream

Martin Luther King, Jr. - I Have A Dream

Amanuensis Monday: A Further Inventory of Cousins

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I'm nearing the end of a transcription of a tape my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, his older brother, Ted, and their sister, Berta (Deutsch) Freed recorded in 1977. I'm 1 hour and 50 minutes into the tape, and at this point they're trying to remember the names of their uncles, aunts and cousins.


Ted: Mother’s sister, Rosenblum, Mrs. Adolph Rosenblum.
Martin: Adolph was his name
Ted: Adolph was her husband’s name.
Martin: It was Sarah wasn’t it?
Bert: That was not mother’s side, that was father’s side.
Martin: You think that was father’s side? That could have been father’s side.
Bert: Giza was another sister
Martin: Dad’s…
Ted: No we’re talking about mother’s side
Martin: Giza. What did she change her name to?
Bert: Hoffman
Martin: She never did change it from Giza, though?
Bert: It must be Gizella in English.
Martin: I remember her, Giza Hoffman, mother’s sister
Ted: That’s right, and she came to live with us around 1917 or 16
Martin: When she was unmarried?
Ted: When she was unmarried. She came out here and soon after. Soon after we got here, she came out. She lived with us on Campbell Avenue for awhile.
Martin: I had forgotten that.
Ted: Then she met this man, Morris Hoffman
Martin: It wasn’t Nathan Hoffman?
Ted: No, it was Morris, and married him around 1917. And then they have about four children.
Martin: The Hoffmans, do you remember any of them?
Ted: Esther Hoffman, she lives here
Martin: I think I met her, I recall meeting her
Ted: She’s working for the government now as a secretary, and another son is Bernard Hoffman, who is living now. And they had another son, Irving Hoffman. He died. And there’s another girl, who’s married, I don’t recall her, Helen was her first name. I don’t recall her last name.
Martin: You did pretty well to have remembered
Ted: I remember because when their mother passed away, Gizella passed away, they had an estate and probate, and that’s how I remember their names. [ed: Ted was a lawyer by profession.] Outside of Gizella, that’s the, there were only two sisters that I remember.
Martin: And no brothers
Ted: And her brother was James
Martin: Yeno, James. OK, let’s get over to father’s side.
Ted: Father’s side, we already mentioned practically all of them.
Bert: You missed Joe Deutsch, Herman Deutsch
Ted: That’s from another brother that I never knew.
Martin: Yeah, Joe Deutsch then was married to Eva.
Ted: Eva Deutsch.
Martin: And she’s still living, he’s dead.
Ted: No.
Bert: They’re both dead.
Martin: They’re both dead.
Ted: (unintelligible) five years old when she died.
Martin: So they were Dad’s…
Ted: They were from another brother. Dad’s brothers, and I don’t recall him at all.
Martin: He may have stayed in Europe and you don’t remember.
Ted: Yeah, I think so.
Martin: That was quite a big family, of course Joe Deutsch and Eva Deutsch’s children were Albert and what’s his
Ted: Sigmund.
Martin: Sigmund.
Ted: And Albert died.
Martin: Yeah, Albert died, and Sigmund is still alive.
Ted: There’s another one, Herman Deutsch.
Bert: Dora was his wife.
Ted: Who was he, I don’t recall who he was. He must have been…a brother of Joe’s?
Martin: I don’t recall Herman Deutsch.
Bert: Yes he was.
Ted: He was?
Martin: A brother of Joe’s.
Bert: And there was Sarah Goldberger
Ted: Sarah Goldberger was his sister
Martin: Whose sister?
Bert: Joe’s. And, Greenfield,
Ted: Regina.
Bert: Regina.
Ted: Sisters from this other brother
Martin: Joe. So Regina was our cousin too. Regina Greenfield. I recall the name.
Bert: She married the brother of her aunt Rose.
Ted: Herschel Greenfield. Nathan Greenfield was his brother.
Martin: Yeah.
Ted: Two brothers married two sisters.
Martin: I see. I guess I never did know the relationship because of the names. Well, now I’ve covered…
Ted: Let’s see, we mentioned Dexter.
Martin: Yeah. And he didn’t have any children I guess, did he?
Bert: No, he never did.
Martin: He just passed out of the picture. Well, I don’t know, did we leave anybody out? Brothers or sisters of mother or father?
Ted: Mother had another sister in Europe, Rosa. They were here at one time, but they went back to Europe, and never came back here.
Martin: They were here when we were here? They went back after WW1?
Ted: They came back to Hungary from the United States must have been around 1910, before we [arrived]


Martin: Oh, before, I see.
Ted: They stayed there and never came back. I remember they visited us and when they came back from the United States they brought a lot of money with them. At that time it was a lot of money.
Martin: If they had a couple hundred dollars.
Ted: They bought two beautiful horses, and they called them Chassar and Chular.
Martin: I’m going to stop here a moment, and come back. You say you remember mother had a couple other brothers. Do you remember the names?
Ted: They lived with the parents at that time when I
Martin: Back in Europe
Ted: When I visited them in Europe. One of them was Feri – F E R I.
Bert: Would probably be Freddy in English.
Martin: That was his brother. Now they never came over…
Ted: There was a younger one, Dezur
Martin: Dezur? I recall the name, D E Z O I supposed.
Ted: In Hungarian they spelled it with a Z. Dezur and Feri, those are the two brothers I met that I know of in Margitta, because I was there, and I visited them. I used to go when I visited them, I went out to the marketplace, I used to sell water over there. Fresh water.
Martin: Sell water? How did you get the water?
Ted: Well, we had a well. They had a well.
Martin: Oh, you wouldn’t get it from the river?
Ted: Grandfather had a well. And they had a little container that I put on my back. I was about 10 years old. We’d go to the marketplace, and sell fresh water. We made money that way.
Martin: You had goatskin probably.
Ted: No, we had a little container. I don’t recall what kind, made out of wood, that’s all I know.
Martin: Seems to me it would leak. You probably had to carry it halfway up the mountain or something.
Ted: There wasn’t any mountains around Margitta. They were in a valley more or less.
Martin: Flat.
Ted: I recall every time I visited them I stayed maybe 2 to 3 weeks. It wasn’t only for one day. I remember there was a great big plain next to their home, just a wild plain where we used to go out and play
Martin: I suppose they did farming, would you guess?
Ted: Exactly what he was doing I don’t remember.
Martin: Of course, all these relatives in Europe we lost track of either after World War One, certainly after World War Two. There was absolutely no correspondence or contact or information of anybody in any way.
Ted: No
Martin: Since World War Two anyway.
Ted: Although, Esther Hoffman told me that she had contacted somebody in Israel who was related to her mother.
Martin: Oh, is that right, so she may have left Hungary and went to Israel after WW2 I suppose. That is something.
Ted: I didn’t go into it deeply with her. That’s my recollection.
Martin: That’s something you can explore here with Esther.
Ted: That’s right.
Martin: I’ve met her. She’s a very charming girl. I haven’t seen her. I guess I met her at Herman Freed’s funeral maybe.
Bert: Yeah, you probably did.
Martin: I don’t believe I had known her before. She was of course Giza’s daughter.
Ted: Her name now is Cohler.
Martin: She married?
Ted: She’s married and has a child.
Martin: KOHLER, or something like that?
Ted: COHLER. She’s married to Jerry
Martin: Jerry Cohler.
Ted: That was the daughter of Gizella.

A lot of this is repetitious of names they've already discussed earlier in the tape, but it's helpful for them to repeat it, if only to verify they're remembering it the same. They do discuss their mother's siblings who remained in Europe for the first time. The Israeli cousin that Esther Hoffman had been in contact with was likely a grand-daughter of Feri/Frank Lichtmann. She and her family have traveled to the US a couple times now, and I've had a chance to meet them. The uncle they recall as Dezur, is listed in my family notes with the English name David.

I have learned through some research that the father of Joe and Regina Deutsch was an Albert Deutsch, another brother of my great grandfather, Samuel. Bert says their cousin, Herman Deutsch was also a brother to Joe and Regina. This is possible, though I haven't found any documentation absolutely connecting Herman to Albert. The records I have found show he was ten years younger than Joe, and seven years younger than Regina. My research also suggests Joe changed the spelling of his surname to Deutch (dropping the 's').

There are 20 minutes left of the tape to transcribe.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- January 10 to January 16
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

Miriam at Ancestories is running a series: 52 Weeks of Online American Digital Archives and Databases. This week she wrote on Alaska. (Note: she appears to be posting them on Sunday, and this list runs Sunday to Saturday, so when you read this, Arizona's post will be on the site.)

Chery Kinnick at Nordic Blue writes The Best Laid Genealogical Plans - where she begins to tell the tale of how she 'discovered' her birth father 'after nearly fifty years of wondering.' I look forward to reading the continuation of her story.

Wendy Littrell at All My Branches Genealogy begins to catalog all the organization Membership Lists her family and ancestors appeared on - civic, professional, and fraternal. I hesitate to imagine how long the list for my family would be, even if I limited it to recent generations. But I think it might be a worthwhile endeavor.

Matt Quinn at PoemBlaze Blog, in a post entitled, Genealogy Has its Limits shares a poem he wrote about his grandfather, Matthew T. Ryan. He started this blog about a week ago, and is trying to post a poem every day. Not only are he and I members of the same local writer's group, he is partially responsible for my genealogical obsession.

In time for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, History Man has an entry on The Doctrine of Non-Violence.

Katrina McQuarrie at Kick-Ass Genealogy provides suggestions on Dealing with Roadblocks when Interviewing Relatives.

Olive Tree Genealogy begins a 12-part series on 'less obvious' genealogy records, with a discussion about medical records.

James Tanner at Genealogy's Star questions the accuracy of family trees that 'go back to Adam.' He's not questioning the Biblical material, which is a matter of faith, but the accuracy of first millennium and medieval records.

The Daily Riverfront Times reports about What Happens When you Run a Meth Lab at a Cemetery
"...So you can imagine what would happen if someone who operates a meth lab was also in charge of running an entire cemetery. Oh wait, you don't have to imagine. It actually (allegedly) happened in Wood River, Illinois."
The first issue of Digital Content Quarterly was released:
"Whether your background is cultural heritage, education and research, health or public service broadcasting, you face many of the same opportunities and challenges when it comes to digital content. In this fast-paced, ever-changing environment the Strategic Content Alliance’s Digital Content Quarterly (DCQ) provides a news round-up of digital content issues from around the world, thought-provoking features highlighting key debates in the field and regular columns from experts in areas that have most traction in terms of digital content provision: intellectual property rights and business modelling and sustainability."
For those readers who read few other genealogy blogs, the following may be news to you:

Ancestry Magazine is Discontinuing Publication

Who Do You Think You Are - the US version of the British show - is scheduled to premiere on NBC Friday March 5th at 7 pm central, 8 pm eastern.
In each episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, a celebrity embarks on a journey of self-discovery and unearths his or her family tree - revealing surprising, inspiring and sometimes tragic stories that are often linked to events in American history. We share intimate moments with the stars as they learn about their past, and how the struggles of their ancestors have shaped today's world. Stars include Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker and Susan Sarandon.
Faces of America - a 4-part series hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - premieres on PBS Wednesday, Feb 10th, at 7 pm central, 8 pm eastern. (Follow the link for a video preview.)

For other weekly lists visit:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Finding the Source of some Photographs

My maternal aunt is in the process of moving, and she shipped a box filled with photographs and family letters. Included were these two photographs of her maternal grandparents (my great grandparents) Melvin and Margaret (Denyer) Van Every.

The is the back of the photographs

When I looked at the back of the first photograph, I said to myself, 'that's not possible.' I read '1926' as a year, and I knew my great grandparents were too young in these photographs for that to be the year. After looking at the second photograph, I knew those were just numbers for the photographer's use. But the photographs were marked as taken in St. Louis, and my great grandparents never lived in St. Louis. They may have visited my grandmother here. She moved here in 1920, but once again, they're younger in the photos than they would have been in 1920.

There was also the question of why it said 'Deutsch.' My maternal grandmother Myrtle Van Every, married my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, in 1936, after both my great grandparents were dead. Of course, Deutsch could have been a photographers surname, or for some reason it was being used to reference the German language, but it seemed too much of a coincidence.

I was unable to find any information on Chesshire Photographers. I looked up Scruggs, Vandervoort and Barney. It was a department store chain in St. Louis, which had its start in 1850. They opened a store in the St. Louis suburbs in 1951, only a few blocks from where my grandfather lived, though my grandmother had died a little over a week before it opened. Vandervoorts closed in 1969, but from 1992 to 1997, the building was used for one of the largest independent bookstores in the nation, Library Ltd. I spent many hours in the bookstore. The building was demolished in 2008.

However, the photographs were taken long before 1951. I estimated their age to be about the same as they were in 1900 when they had a picture taken with my grandmother, shortly after she was born. When I pulled up that photograph on my computer to compare, to see if my judgment was correct, I chuckled.

They're identical. Outfits, and poses. The background, the cropping, and the colorization is all that is different. At some point in time I believe my grandmother had the photographs created from the original. I'm sure the process at the time was a little more difficult than Photoshop. But I am confident I have found the source of the photographs.

He should get a re-vote

Snoop Dogg is shocked by some DNA results taken for the Lopez Tonight show, which indicated he was 6% European, and 23% Native American.
"We got to have a re-vote, this ain't right," said the 38-year-old.
According to Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, in a Huffington Post article from back in December, the test the Lopez Tonight show is using is outdated, and often inaccurate. There is a newer test that is more accurate. So, Snoop Dogg ought to get his re-vote. (As should Larry David, from back in December.)


I'm not too interested in this test. Instead of testing your mt-DNA or Y chromosome origins, it tries to compute the percentages of nationalities in your personal genetic makeup. As I understand it, even if 100% accurate (which even the newer test isn't), it's not testing your ancestral heritage. Some may recall from genetics discussions in school that due to recessive and dominant genes, you might get more than half of your genes from your mother or father. It's not an even split. Over the generations, the difference is multiplied. Whole parts of your family tree may be missing in your genes, but present in your siblings or cousins, while they're missing other parts.

Some may be interested in knowing which parts they got, but if I am correct in my understanding, it doesn't really interest me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rock 'n Roll and Genealogy

Science Fiction author, Cory Doctorow, has an article in Locus Magazine - Close Enough for Rock n Roll. In it he presents an analogy I like a lot. Here are a few excerpts:
I say that "close enough for rock 'n' roll" means: "Rock 'n' roll's virtue is in its exuberance and its accessibility to would-be performers. If you want to play rock 'n' roll, you don't need to gather up a full orchestra and teach them all to read sheet music, drill them with a conductor and set them loose in a vaulted hall. Instead, you can gather two or three friends, teach them to play a I-IV-V progression in 4/4 time, and make some fantastic noise."

If the Internet has a motif, it is rock 'n' roll's Protestant Reformation thrashing against the orchestral One Church.


The interesting bit isn't what it costs to replicate some big, pre-Internet business or project.

The interesting bit is what it costs to do something half as well as some big, pre-Internet business or project.

Doctorow focuses for most of the article on the newspaper industry, but there are many applications, and its relevance to the Genealogy world is an obvious one.

The internet has revolutionized genealogy research. The online researcher can make some 'fantastic noise.' Because of this greater accessibility, more people are becoming enraptured by the sound. Many feel the results they get from the internet are 'close enough.'

However, the internet doesn't replace the sheer orchestral majesty of a row of microfilm cabinets at your local library, or the subtleties of interviewing the family elders. You're not going to break down as many brick walls playing just the "pajama game.'' And keep in mind: the quality of information on the internet is as variable as the quality of garage bands.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Google Storage Space

I have two gmail accounts, each with 7.4 GB of storage, and growing.

One form of backup I use on documents is mailing the document from one account to the other.

This works for most documents, but gmail does have a 25 MB limit on file size. When you are scanning documents at large resolutions, I've found it's not too difficult to go over 25 MB.

Google has announced that Google Documents will soon allow you 1 GB of additional storage space for files. (These files won't be converted into Google Doc, Spreadsheet, or Presentation format -- it's simply storage space.) And if you need more space, additional GB will be fairly inexpensive.

The file size limitation will be 250 MB.

We're happy to announce that over the next few weeks we will be rolling out the ability to upload, store and organize any type of file in Google Docs. With this change, you'll be able to upload and access your files from any computer -- all you need is an Internet connection.

Instead of emailing files to yourself, which is particularly difficult with large files, you can upload to Google Docs any file up to 250 MB. You'll have 1 GB of free storage for files you don't convert into one of the Google Docs formats (i.e. Google documents, spreadsheets, and presentations), and if you need more space, you can buy additional storage for $0.25 per GB per year. This makes it easy to backup more of your key files online, from large graphics and raw photos to unedited home videos taken on your smartphone. You might even be able to replace the USB drive you reserved for those files that are too big to send over email.

Tombstone Tuesday: Martin and Myrtle (Van Every) Deutsch

My maternal grandparents Martin and Myrtle (Van Every) Deutsch are buried in Memorial Park Cemetery

Myrtle Ethel Van Every was born on March 21, 1900 in Maxwell, Texas. Martin Deutsch was born on February 28, 1907 in Varalmas, Hungary. They met in St. Louis, Missouri in 1934, and were married on December 31, 1936.

I never knew my grandmother, as Myrtle died on September 11, 1951, from colon cancer - 18 years before I was born. My grandfather I knew well. Late into his life he kept in remarkable shape through lifting a set of 11 pound weights, which I have today. He was also a fan of technology, whether it was a Presto sandwich maker, the Commodore 64 he purchased for his grandkids in the 1980s, or an audio cassette recorder he took to Chicago with him in 1977 when he visited his brother and sister. He died on March 19, 1991, from colon cancer.

Martin and Myrtle on their Honeymoon (in Mexico) in 1937.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Weekly Genealogy Picks

(meant to post this yesterday, but several other things got in the way.)

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- January 3 to January 9
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

First, in sad news, Hugh Watkins of Genealoge, passed away on December 29th. (his obituary) hat/tip (Everything's Relative)

In Personalized Genomics, Blaine Bettinger of The Genetic Genealogist, shares how a genetics test revealed a greater risk for Diabetes.

Schelly Talalay Dardashti of Tracing the Tribe shares some suggestions on Getting Relatives Involved.

Greta Koehl of Greta's Genealogy Bog, inspired by my Amanuensis Monday project, begins Transcription Tuesday.

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings shows that the Ancestry World Tree and the Rootsweb WorldConnect project are exactly the same database.

The January issue of Shades of the Departed - The Magazine has been released, with articles on New Years Resolutions, a look back at 1910, the preservation of old scrapbooks, and more. has improved their Wildcard Search flexibility dramatically.

Author, John Scalzi, on Whatever, writes of discovering an old 'hard floppy' with unknown data on it. A reminder that storage media outlast the devices we use to read them, and any important data (photographs, documents) need to be transferred to the newer storage mediums before the old devices disappear.

GovGab has an entry on why you might not want to eat at the airport on your next genealogy excursion.

Finally, here's a comic which could add a new word to a genealogist's vocabulary: circasize.

For other weekly lists visit:

Amanuensis Monday: An Inventory of Cousins

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I'm returning to transcribing the tape my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, his older brother, Ted, and their sister, Berta (Deutsch) Freed recorded in 1977. I'm 1 hour and 40 minutes into the tape, and at this point they're trying to remember the names of their uncles, aunts and cousins.


Martin: So I think we took care of Dad’s relatives about completely.
Ted: Mother’s father I remember him. He was married
Martin: Before we go here, Dad was married with a first wife.
Ted: That’s right.
Martin: Do you have any recollection of that?
Ted: I don’t remember – I wasn’t there. But I do remember his daughter.
Martin: He did have a daughter by his first wife
Ted: By his first wife, who was a step-sister to us, and she lived in Italmas.
Martin: She lived in Italmas?
Ted: And Dad took me many times to visit them. They lived
Martin: That was the one daughter he had by his first wife, she died.
Ted: She had several kids, which I don’t recall how many
Bert: Six, father used to say six.
Ted: And she had a husband, they lived next to the river in Italmas. 'It' means river in Deutsch, so they lived next to a river, and that’s how I remember.
Martin: I guess we lost track of them, between two wars
Ted: We tried to get her to come out
Martin: She didn’t want to come out?
Ted: She didn’t want to come out, and then we lost track of her all together
Martin: Which is understandable. Then you say, mother’s
Ted: Mother’s grandfather and father lived in Margaritta
Martin: Margitta. M A R G I T TA, is the way I envision spelling
Ted: I understand the Romanians changed it to Margarita, I’ve seen that on a map since the war, and he was married to Zally
Martin: Zally was his wife’s name?
Ted: His name was Lichtmann
Martin: Lichtmann. L I C H T MA N N, would you say that, double N ending?
Ted: L I CH T M A N
Martin: One N?
Ted: Maybe two.
Martin: Anyway, LICHTMAN is the name, now she had brothers and sisters.
Ted: That’s right, she had brothers here in New York
Martin: She had one brother?
Ted: Mother had a brother named…Hungarian name was Yonas, no Yeno
Martin: That was yours
Ted: YENO , and he lived in New York


Martin: In English he changed it to James?
Ted: I don’t know.
Bert: I was in New York, and they lived in…
Martin: In what year would you say you were there?
Bert: About ’34.
Martin: 1934, and stayed with them? So that you got acquainted with the family.
Bert: I got acquainted with the whole family, they’re a lovely family
Martin: How many kids did they have?
Bert: They had two boys, one was George and the other I can’t remember the older boy’s name
Martin: George was one of them, you can’t remember the older boy. Anyway, you lost track of them in the meantime. You haven’t had any connection.
Ted: I haven’t had any connection with them.
Bert: After Uncle James died, we didn’t hear from them. They moved away and we didn’t hear from them.
Ted: The last I heard the two boys were, one of them was living in Washington, employed by the government. I don’t know in what capacity. One of them called me, I would say at least ten years ago when he was passing through Chicago
Martin: Oh, is that right?
Ted: He called me, and I tried to see him, but I was involved in something and I couldn’t see him that day. And I just talked with him over the phone.
Martin: So you never did meet him?
Ted: I never got any details of where he lived, what he was doing, matter of fact I asked him to come and have lunch the next day, but he said he had to go home today.
Martin: He might have been the one working for the government.
Ted: I imagine it could be, I don’t remember which one it was.
Martin: Well to get back to the other mother’s relatives. Of course we knew of Bert Gold who lived in Racine. As matter of fact her husband, she died long ago, but her husband just died not too long ago, four or five years, in his nineties.
Ted: About 92
Martin: 92 years old when he died. And of course he had…they had children. Emilie Fox, is one of them. Albert and Bill. Bill died in Arizona I understand, he moved out there and married, but he died in Arizona. Albert is still in Racine, I think carrying on with the old business if I’m not mistaken.
Ted: No, he’s in another kind of business
Martin. He’s not selling clothes?
Ted: No.
Martin: And Emilie Fox is down in Lincoln, Illinois. Now, that’s…Of course Mother stayed with Bert Gold in I guess Racine at the time.
Ted: That’s right
Martin: When she was here for a year trying to earn a few dollars to bring us all over. OK, that’s one family. Now, who else? There were a lot of families.

Transcribing this section, I realized the notes I took originally listening to the tape were incorrect. I had written down that my great grandfather, Samuel Deutsch, and his first unknown wife had six children. Actually, they had one daughter, and that daughter had six children, all of whom remained in Transylvania. Without any married names to go on, the odds are low on tracking what happened to them, but possibly the vital records will someday be discovered.

It's interesting how many of the 'facts' from this tape contradict other information I have. All three seem to remember 'Zally' as the name of their maternal grandfather, Israel Lichtman's second wife, or at least there is no argument. It's possible that was her Hungarian name, or a nickname derived from her Hungarian name. Other family notes I have say her name was Sara Jonas. Their mother, Helen (Lichtman) Deutsch was the only child of Israel and his first wife, 'Betty' Adler. All the siblings of Helen mentioned are half-siblings.

Yeno Lichtman actually went by the English name Eugene, not James. I have photographs of him and his family, with their names labeled on the back. Though it is also possible he used both names at different times. His two sons were Joe (not George) and Israel.

The current Romanian spelling of the Hungarian town, Margitta, is Marghita. Though the name does appear to derive from "Saint Margaret." I am unable to find 'Italmas," on a map, though I may not be hearing the name of the town correctly. According to online dictionaries, the German words for river are 'fluss' and 'strom.'

There are 30 minutes left of the tape to transcribe.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Re-Defining Friendships

Almost anyone on Facebook (or other online 'social networks') goes through the same decision making process. Do we or do we not ‘accept’ a Friend request from someone we barely know? The former high school classmate who never spoke to you once in those four years? The colleague who works in a different department, and you think you might know who they are, but you aren’t sure? The ‘Friend’ of a ‘Friend’ who liked the comment you made on one of your friend’s posts? The complete stranger who came across your blog, liked what they read?

As a member of the genealogy-blogging community, I’ve received scores of friend requests from fellow genealogists. I’ve accepted all of them.

And then there is the next issue. At what point do you end one of these new ‘friendships.’ Is there anything that would cause me to defriend someone?

I reached that point today.

It wasn’t because they were filling my newsfeed with silly game statuses. I long ago learned how to hide those.

It was because of a racist comment they made. The comment was also political, but the politics didn’t matter to me. I have ‘real world’ friends who have diametrically opposed political views. I’ve had a couple political discussions with some Facebook friends who are otherwise unknown to me – and I haven’t defriended them because they have opinions that differ from mine. But I won’t tolerate racism.

This is where the party ends.

It’s likely they will recognize themselves, as I suspect Facebook notifies you when you have been defriended, and I suspect they read my blog.

They'll probably insist what they said wasn’t racist, or that I’m over-reacting. That’s OK with me. They are entitled to believe what they want to believe. But, to me, what they said was racist, and since I don’t really know them, I see no reason I need to keep them on my list of ‘friends.’

The Usefulness of a Library Card

Amy Coffin at WeTree, with the support of GeneaBloggers, are collectively providing a weekly challenge this year they are calling 52 Weeks to a Better Genealogy.
Week 1: Go to your local public library branch. Make a note of the genealogy books in the collection that may help you gain research knowledge. Don’t forget to check the shelves in both the non-fiction section and the reference section. If you do not already have a library card, take the time to get one. If you have a genealogy blog, write about what you find in your library’s genealogy collection.
Monday morning of Week 1, and I was home, sick. The rest of this week it's been close to zero degrees Fahrenheit outside. Heading to the library after work hasn’t appealed much. I preferred, for example, letting my cat curl up on my lap as I re-watched the Doctor Who End of Time episode.

But I have a library card, so I can go to my local library (St. Louis County Library) in the comfort of my living room. There are a few databases I could access only if I went to the physical library (Ancestry and Footnote being the two chief ones of interest to me.) But many others don’t have this restriction. All you need is a library card number.
  • HeritageQuest Online
  • Sanborn Maps for Missouri and Illinois
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library (Encyclopedia, almanacs, and specialized reference sources)
  • Oxford English Dictionary
  • Oxford Reference (Dictionaries for Literature, Classics, Folklore, Mythology and Languages)
  • World Book Encyclopedia
  • St. Louis Post Dispatch 1988 to present
  • St. Louis Post Dispatch 1874-1922
  • Christian Science Monitor 1988 to present
  • New York Times 1851-2004
  • New York Times 1995 – Present
  • USA Today 1997 to Present
  • Wall Street Journal Eastern Edition 1984 to Present
  • Washington Post 1987 to present
  • NewspaperArchive
  • 19th Century African American Newspapers
  • Charleston Mercury, New York Herald, and Richmond Enquirer (1860-1865)
  • Ethnic NewsWatch
  • Factiva
  • Informe (Hispanic newspapers and magazines)
  • InfoTrac Custom Newspapers
  • NewspaperDirect Press Display
  • Nineteenth Century US Newspapers
I’m leaving a lot off the list. But I’ve focused on those of interest to those researching genealogy and history. There are databases for science, government, health, and more. You may be able to find similar resources elsewhere on the internet, but it's all available in one location.

The St. Louis area has three library systems - City, County, and several municipalities in the County went rogue and developed the Municipal Library Consortium. However, along with neighboring St. Charles, they have formed a "reciprocal lending" program with each other, so if you reside in any of them, you can get a library card for any of the others, for free. (I actually reside in a district in the Municipal Library Consortium. I have only three library cards, as I haven't investigated the offerings in St. Charles yet.)

Note: I would be remiss if I failed to mention that while not accessible from home, the St. Louis County Library has housed the National Genealogical Society Collection since 2001. It comprises over 20,000 volumes. All of the 20,000 volumes are available through Inter-Library Loan, if you happen not to live in the St. Louis area.

Thursday, January 7, 2010



It’s something that ‘runs’ in the family for me. Especially where it merges with community service.

All four of my great grandfathers were members of fraternal organizations where community service was encouraged. Barney Newmark and Melvin Van Every were Masons, Herman Feinstein was also a Mason, but more specifically a Shriner, and Samuel Deutsch was a member of the Progressive Order of the West.

My great great grandfather, Selig Feinstein, was active in both the Chesed Shel Emeth Society and the Tiphereth Zion Talmud Torah Hebrew Free School. It appears he encouraged his children at young ages to help out – for example, his daughter Rose held lemonade stands to raise money for the Post Dispatch Pure Milk and Free Ice Fund.

I have been a member since 1992 of a local 'fraternal-type' organization active in community service. Not everyone looks at STARFLEET chapters the same as Masons or The Elks, but the activities are likely strikingly similar. I've answered phones at local telethons, donned clown makeup and walked for a local Children's charity, made sandwiches for a local homeless shelter, and participated in the Overseas Coupon Program, providing much needed assistance to service personnel overseas. Additionally my career is as a grant writer for a local non-profit. Though it’s no longer volunteerism when you get paid for it.

The upcoming edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is on Volunteerism with regard to Genealogy. In the spring and summer of 2008 I was briefly a volunteer at Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. What is RAOGK? Why did I become involved? Why did I stop? Will I do it again? Excellent questions. Answers follow.

What is RAOGK?

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is a network of volunteers who have agreed to take photographs of tombstones, or look up obituaries or public records, charging only copy, and occasionally travel, fees. Often charging neither. The website divides all the volunteers by locality. In the United States, you first select a state, and then choose a county. (If you're looking for assistance with public records, don't neglect to look up the county where the state capitol is located. As someone might be willing to look up state records.)

Why Did I Become Involved?

After receiving some significant assistance through RAOGK, I naturally had the desire to return the favor. I looked at the St. Louis list of volunteers, and noticed that while there were several people offering to photograph tombstones, there was no one offering (at the time) to look up obituaries or public records. I submitted my name.

Why Did I Stop?

The requests came fast and furious. I was the only one, so everyone came to me. I had volunteered to look up not only obituaries, but also do simple searches in the extensive microfilm collection at the library. It wasn't long before I developed a backlog of requests. Swamped, I took my name down so I wouldn't get any more as I filled the ones I had. I didn't put my name back up.

Will I Do it Again?

Probably. I enjoyed doing it; it was just time consuming. Now that there are others doing it, I might be able to keep up with the requests. I might also restrict my services at first, perhaps only looking up obituaries, and see if the amount of requests I receive is manageable.

The St. Louis County Library staff will of course look up obituaries too (and other records)...and they charge only minimal fees.

Final Note

If you live in the St. Louis area, and are interested in joining the local chapter of STARFLEET, or would like more information, send me an email. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations!

[Image is a modified World War I poster.]