Category Archives: Special Collections

Finding Your Family on Census Records Through Ancestry.com

by Dorris Douglass, Special Collections Librarian

CensusRecordUse of Ancestry.com is free In the Special Collections Department and to help you use it, here are some very important tips to remember.

  • Pay absolutely no attention to spelling! Census takers couldn’t spell. This researcher has seen the name Jacob spelled “Jacup” on the census.
  • Pay close attention to extra people with a different last name in a household. Frequently those listed as “boarder” were aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and especially mothers-in-law.
  • Pay close attention to who is living next door. The guys either married the gal next door or their first cousin. This researcher looked for an ancestor for 10 years only to find him living next door to a grandson by a different last name.
  • Be aware that ages recorded in the census can be 2 to 3 years off. However, usually the younger the closer to the truth. By the time one got to their 80’s either he or his family members had forgotten how old he really was.
  • Know the abbreviations for Men’s first names: Alexr= Alexander, Benj = Benjamin, Geo =George, Hy=Henry, Jas = James, Jno =John ( Why I have no idea), Patk=Patrick, Robt= Robert Thos=Thomas, Wm=William. The last letter of the longer abbreviation are usually written as a superscripts, so that you might see only the Tho for Thomas unless you look carefully for the little tiny s. Periods were usually omitted after the abbreviation.
  • Know common nicknames and know that nicknames often rhyme. Some are very tricky.
    • Belle=Isabel, Mable, Sybil;
    • Beth, Betty, Betsy, Bessie =Elizabeth;
    • Biddy, Bridey= Bridget;
    • Bill = William, rhymes with Will;
    • Cal=Caleb, Calvin;
    • Cate (old spelling) =Catherine;
    • Carrie= Carololine;
    • Carey= Charles (modern nickname Chuck);
    • Cephus=Josephus;
    • Daisey = Margaret ( for a Queen Margaret whose favorite flower was a daisy);
    • Dick = Richard, rhymes with Rick;
    • Dollie, Dolly, Doll = Dorothy;
    • Duke=Marmaduke;
    • Ed, Ned, Ted =Edward, Edmond;
    • Elsie= Elizabeth:
    • Ella, Ellie, Nelly = Elle , but also Helen;
    • Etta, Nettie = Henrietta;
    • Fee = Felix;
    • Hi = Hiram,
    • Jack = John;
    • Kit = Christopher,
    • Lois= Louise,
    • Lottie = Charlotte;
    • Ky = Hezekiah;
    • Mae, May, Molly, Polly =Mary;
    • Mag, Maggie, Meg, Peg, Peggy = Margaret;
    • Mattie, Patty, Patsy = Martha;
    • Maud =Magdalene,
    • Maude (male) = Mordichi;
    • Nancy=Hannah,
    • Neil, Connie,=Cornelius;
    • Sallie, Sally = Sarah,
    • Stella = Estel, Esther;
    • Sukey ,Susan, = Susannah (Suckey, African American 1870/ 80 = a former slave midwife who took care of the sucklings);
    • Ted = Theodore (but can be = Edward).

Come join us to hunt for your ancestors!

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Adventures in Digital Storage (in honor of Preservation Week)

By Lance Hickerson, Reference Department

“Today, the average household creates enough data to fill 65 iPhones (32gb) per year. In 2020, this will grow to 318 iPhones.”

This is a conclusion from the seventh EMC Digital Universe study at Hopkinton, Massachusetts highlighting a special concern with how “data is outpacing storage. The world’s amount of available storage capacity (i.e., unused bytes) across all media types is growing slower than the digital universe.”

Concerns about digital storage and preservation are not new, but they are now more pressing. Michael Irving, of New Atlas, explains how “even the best of our current range of devices are only relatively short-term solutions to the problem. Hard drives, and optical storage such as DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, are vulnerable to damage and degradation, with a life expectancy of a few decades at best.”   Irving continues:

Scientists are increasingly looking to nature’s hard drive, DNA, as a potential solution to both the capacity and longevity problems. As our own bodies demonstrate, DNA is an incredibly dense storage medium, potentially squeezing in a mind-boggling 5.5 petabits (125,000 GB) of information per cubic millimeter. By that measure, according to University of Washington professor, Luis Ceze, all 700 exabytes of today’s accessible internet would fit into a space the size of a shoebox. You could then tuck that shoebox away in a vault for thousands of years, and the DNA-stored data would remain intact.

Indeed, digital storage modeled on DNA is a promising solution. But until it becomes more than experimental, what should we do in the meantime? For instance, what if you have just been chosen as the archivist for a massive collection of family photographs? How would you choose to store the data? In addition to preserving the actual physical photos, what is the best approach from a digital point of view? After the photos are scanned, what is the best way to store them as digital documents?

A helpful answer comes from Denise May Levenick, who inherited her family photo treasures. She shares tips and techniques for preserving a collection in her latest book, How to Archive Family Photos: A step by step guide to organize and share your photos digitally (Family Tree Books: Cincinatti, 2015. In our library nonfiction section under 745.593 May). It is good to keep in mind that, although focusing on photos, the principles she outlines apply to more than photo collections.

One important decision for digital material concerns negotiating different file formats. Ms. Levenich explains about using JPG and TIFF files.

JPG is a file format that uses compression when saving files and is called a lossy file format because repeated opening and saving of JPG files deteriorates the image quality over time.   TIFF is a file format that does not use compression when saving files and is considered a lossless format because it maintains its quality over time.

What this means for preservation is that the TIFF lossless format better maintains the digital data than the JPG format, which loses quality with use. One concern with TIFF files, however, is that TIFF is sometimes unreadable by various programs. In this case, our staff librarian photo buff, Rebecca Tischler, recommends saving picture files in PNG. PNG, pronounced “ping,” stands for the Portable Network Graphics format which compresses information in a lossless manner, meaning all the image information is there when the PNG file is decompressed. Further it neither degrades nor loses information with saving, restoring, or resaving like the JPG. Don’t count out the JPG, however, as it has its uses too, one being the JPG can preserve a lot more color than the PNG.

Once your format is chosen, it is necessary to back up your photo files. Ms. Levenick recommends the 3-2-1 rule.

  • 3 Copies
  • 2 different media
  • 1 copy stored off-site

She explains, “Many different combinations will provide a good backup solution, but the key to a great backup system is to spread out your copies across different media and different storage locations. When hurricanes and tornadoes wipe out a home and family photo collection, it’s reassuring to know that digital copies are safe in the cloud, or stashed at a relative’s home in another state. Don’t wait for a disaster to safeguard your precious family memories. Practice the 3-2-1 Backup rule regularly, especially after a major scanning session.”

 


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Heritage Display March 2017

By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department

Last Month, we had an interactive display upstairs. Patrons could add their ancestry to a world map and see where some of their neighbors came from as well.  Some had many ancestries, and some only had one, but it was interesting to see how diverse our patrons were.

And those who didn’t know their background, we pointed them to the Special Collections department, where patrons can get some help doing genealogical research with databases such as Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.  If you want to know more about where your family comes from, ask one of our wonderful Special Collections Librarians for help.

But for now, take a look at all the responses that were left at the display.

  1. English, Welsh, Polish, German, French, Scandinavian, Scottish
  2. Welsh
  3. Greek, English
  4. Snowbeast (AKA Canadian)
  5. Venezuela
  6. Indian
  7. Hispanic
  8. British
  9. Tamil, Hindi
  10. Prussia, Austria, Germany
  11. Italy, Germany
  12. Norwegian, German
  13. African American, German
  14. German, Prussian, Polish
  15. Scottish
  16. Thai
  17. English, Welsh, Italian
  18. Tamil, Hindi
  19. Alien
  20. Chinese
  21. China
  22. English, Scottish, Norman French
  23. Mongolia
  24. French, Great Britain
  25. German
  26. Brazilian
  27. Mexican, Spanish
  28. Mexican
  29. French, Mexican
  30. Italy, Germany, Europe
  31. English, Irish
  32. German, French, Irish
  33. Cuba
  34. Armenian
  35. Scottish, English, French
  36. Swedish, German
  37. Deutschland
  38. Swiss-German, English
  39. French, Irish
  40. Polish, English, Irish
  41. China
  42. Chinese, Hunan
  43. Thai, Chinese
  44. German, Swiss
  45. Antarctican
  46. Kiwi
  47. Canadian
  48. Pennsylvania Dutch
  49. Ireland, Germany
  50. Guatemala
  51. At this library we found out the Hill family from Texas is the Hill family from ESSEX U.K.!
  52. Irish, Italian
  53. Norwegian, Icelandic
  54. Czech, Dutch, German, English
  55. Norwegian, French, Polish
  56. Brazilian, Italian, Irish, English
  57. Irish, German
  58. Mexican
  59. Tartar Kazakhstan
  60. Italy
  61. Swedish, English, Scottish, Irish
  62. Scottish, Scandinavian, Polynesian, German
  63. Mexicana Latin of African and Spanish ancestry
  64. Venezuela, Peru
  65. Black, Irish, Blackfoot
  66. Balkar
  67. Cherokee, English, French, Scottish, Irish, German, Swiss, Nordic
  68. Germany
  69. Mexico
  70. Mexican
  71. Spanish, Mexican
  72. Columbian
  73. Portuguese, Spanish, Brazilian
  74. Mexican
  75. Indian, German, Dutch, English
  76. Italy
  77. Syrian
  78. European
  79. Vietnamese
  80. Anglo-Irish, German-Polish
  81. Scottish, Welsh, English
  82. Spanish, Scottish, French, Polish, Welsh, Irish
  83. Haitian
  84. Irish, Cherokee
  85. Spanish, Italian, Greek, English, Scottish, Irish, Moroccan
  86. Indian, Irish, German, English
  87. German, English, Irish, Dutch
  88. Spanish, Scottish, Irish, English, Danish, German, French, Ecuadorian, Incan
  89. Ghanaian, Haitian
  90. German, Irish, Scottish
  91. English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, French, Swiss German, Cherokee
  92. Haiti
  93. Celts, France, Ireland, England/Wales
  94. French, Scottish, Cherokee
  95. Canadian
  96. Italian

Save your Stuff: Preserving Your Recorded Materials

By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department

records-614061_960_720People amass stuff. We are all hoarders of one type or another; we just prefer to be called collectors or connoisseurs. We tuck our prized collections away in corners of closets, in attics, in garages and occasionally in storage facilities because we cherish these items. We want to keep them as mementos, memories or keepsakes to show our descendants and maybe have those people love them the same. The question is: are we storing them properly? We want to save these pieces of who we are for the future, but are they going to make it to the future? Libraries have been worrying about this for ages and there are many great places to find information on preserving your collections. Actually, there is too much information out there so here we will pull together the most important as well as the easiest steps for preserving your materials such as books, newspapers, magazines, comic books, film, slides, negatives, magnetic tape (both audio and video), records and even a little on documents and art.

photo-album-631084_960_720Photos

Once again, cleanliness is essential. Clean hands, or even archivist gloves, and a clean workspace are ideal for going through your old photographs. Ideally, photos should be stored at 40 degrees or less in a location with 30 to 40% humidity. This is very specific because the stability of modern color photos degrades with heat and according to the preservation department of the Library of Congress, “Relative humidity is the single most important factor in preserving most photographic prints.” Never let adhesives come in contact with photographic prints and only mount them on acid free cardstock.

If you are dealing with a photo that has deteriorated or if you are working with an older format like tin or daguerreotypes you will probably want to consult a professional. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works has an online directory of conservators to help you find one in your area.

Films, Slides and NegativesHalf-Frame_4442

Film and slides contain cellulose, an organic substance, and as such are subject to decay. Temperature and humidity are mentioned here time and again, but here it is most important. The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) recommends storage at 40-50° and 20-40% relative humidity. They also suggest freezing film, but this is for long term storage and should be done in the proper manner, starting in a middle to low humidity environment, packaging the material and freezing them for very long term. This is not a thing you want to do if you are planning on getting these items out next week or even next month. These materials are the best case for digital transfer. There are many services out there that can help you get these materials digitized for future use and reproduction.

Kaseta_magnetofonowa_ubtMagnetic Tape Recordings (reel to reel, 8-Track, cassette and Video Tape)

When you are working with magnetic recordings storage should be considered. While demagnetization is unlikely, it can happen so avoid storing your material near large machinery and electrical transformers. Handle reel to reel tapes from the edge and center hole only. Grasping the reel itself to hard can break the reel or crush the delicate tape. Any kind of cassette should only be handled by the outside edges. Do not touch the spools. Store them in a cool place with lower to mid-level humidity.

records-614061_960_720Other Audio Sources (Records, Wax Cylinders, CDs)

Never mess with the groove. When handling any of these older recordings keep your fingers confined to the label for records, the center hole for CDs, and for the truly old cylinders, just the edges. The grooves are where the recorded material is read by the needle or laser and damage will come from your fingerprints and any dirt on your hands. They should also be stored upright with dividers every six inches to support them in cool dry places. Always allow these materials to reach room temperature in the room where they are to be played before using them if they are stored at a low temperature. Always store like sized material together. Make sure manufacturers cleaning instructions are followed for all playback devices.

canvas-315681_960_720Art

Most people do not have a Monet in their house or a painting from the Dutch masters in their office waiting room, but with art there is no telling what will become valuable. For forty years the Jesuit house in Dublin, Ireland had a painting hanging in their parlor. In the 1990s it was determined to be a lost Caravaggio. You never know what may come of the paintings on your walls, so it never hurts to take care of them properly.

As with every other type of material, cleanliness is the first and easiest step. Make sure that you handle paintings by the sides of the frame, not the painting itself, and have enough people for the job. Dust your paintings with “a clean, soft, natural-hair artists’ brush (3.5cm to 5cm tip)” in one direction if there is no peeling or cracking evident in the paint according to the Smithsonian Institution. Display your art where there is a little exposure to UV light and as little fluctuation in temperature and humidity as possible and avoid extremes in both. Finally, make sure art is hung with the proper hardware and check those hooks, wires and brackets periodically to make sure they are in good condition.

Want more information on how to preserve your printed materials?


Sources:

Save your Stuff: Preserving Your Printed Materials

By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department

5397093992_7def5c908a_bPeople amass stuff. We are all hoarders of one type or another; we just prefer to be called collectors or connoisseurs. We tuck our prized collections away in corners of closets, in attics, in garages and occasionally in storage facilities because we cherish these items. We want to keep them as mementos, memories or keepsakes to show our descendants and maybe have those people love them the same. The question is: are we storing them properly? We want to save these pieces of who we are for the future, but are they going to make it to the future? Libraries have been worrying about this for ages and there are many great places to find Information on preserving your collections. Actually, there is too much information out there so here we will pull together the most important as well as the easiest steps for preserving your materials such as books, newspapers, magazines, comic books, film, slides, negatives, magnetic tape (both audio and video), records and even a little on documents and art.

BOOKSOld_book_bindings

This is a library blog so books come first. The easiest and first step in preservation is careful use. Make sure your hands are clean, that you are reading in a clean area free of food or drink and that you are not forcing the book open to 180°. Never use glues, rubber bands or adhesive tape on books. Never dog ear the pages or mark you place with paperclips or acidic inserts. When storing your books, try to put upright books of similar size together so that they support each other and don’t allow them to lean at an angle. Books should be kept in a cool room with low humidity (<35%) and as little exposure to direct, harsh light as possible. Avoid vents and registers as well as rooms like attics which experience extreme temperature changes. Clean your books and cases regularly. Finally when you remove a book from the shelf, grab the book on both sides of the spine at the midpoint. Do not grab it from the top.

NEWSPAPERSnewspapers

Saving the newspaper is a great way to remember a great moment in your, or humanity’s, history. Whether it is a paper from your child’s birth, VE Day, the moon landing or the election of the first African American president, newspapers show a segment of time contemporary to the event. Once again, the rules of cleanliness are paramount. No dirty hands or coffee cups here. Newspapers to be preserved should be opened flat on a surface large enough to support the entire paper. Do not fold the paper against any existing folds. When folding the newspaper back to store it always use the existing folds and keep the edges aligned as much as possible. Newspapers should be stored flat and in protected boxes with some kind of supporting material. Like comics and magazines, these boxes and boards should be acid and lignin free. Storage space should have the same conditions as that needed for books.

DOCUMENTSbooks-1099672_960_720

For the most part the documents that we have now that we want to preserve are those that have already come down to us from generations past. Many of these are already preserved, but even more are not and have already begun to deteriorate. Think about these things and what they are and represent. Discharge papers from the civil war or world war two, your great grandparent’s marriage license, an ancestor’s immigration papers. These are great things to have, but remember that someday, you may be someone’s great grandparent. Now is the time to preserve your documents, before they start to degrade. The basic rules for books still apply to documents (as well as manuscripts, drawings, prints, posters, and maps). In addition, you want to make sure any marks or inscriptions that you make are done in pencil only and on a clean surface to avoid pressing dirt or other contaminants into the paper. Paper items should be stored flat and supported like periodicals, unless the size of the object makes this prohibitive. At that point rolled in an archival tube is the safest storage option.

MAGAZINES & COMICS8015843393_6f022c63e6_o

One of the reasons that those Superman, Batman and Captain America comics from the 1930s and 40s are so valuable is that there are not many surviving. Everyone has heard the old, “I’d be a millionaire if my Mom hadn’t thrown away my comic collection” shtick, but this is far from true. These were comics. They cost 10₵, because they were made cheaply. No one expected them to be kept for seventy or eighty years. Modern comics are better, but still need preserving. The rules for books apply here as well, with a little modification. Never bend a comic back upon itself. It weakens the spine and you may be beaten by nerds. Comics should be stored in supportive enclosures. That means polybags, backing boards and archive boxes. You want to make sure the boards and boxes are ph. neutral and lignin free. Otherwise the very things protecting you comics can be causing their slow disintegration. Magazines should be treated in exactly the same way although those with glued bindings (similar to what you see on National Geographic) should be treated like books for the purpose of reading them. Do not open these to a flat position.

Want more information on how to preserve your audio and visual materials?


Sources:

20 Year Retrospective of Thelma Battle’s Williamson County African American History in Photographs

thelma

Over the past 20 years, since her first exhibit in 1996, Ms. Thelma Battle has displayed over 3000 images in 18 exhibits in observance of Black History Month and in celebration of the culture of Williamson County’s African American community.

This year, the Williamson County Public Library hopes to honor her tremendous effort, commitment, and contribution as a grass roots historian.

The 130 images on display this year are taken from all of the past exhibits Ms. Battle has compiled. The complete display can be viewed in the downstairs and upstairs display cabinets next to the elevator, and in the Special Collections department on the 2nd floor.

thelma 2

 

Also, in honor of Black History Month, Jane Landers, professor of history at Vanderbilt University, will lecture on her more than twenty years of research on the African Diaspora in various parts of the Americas. Her graduate research on the first free black town in in the Americas (formed by runaways from South Carolina who fled to Spanish Florida) supported archaeological investigations, a National Landmark registry and a museum. Since then she has also worked on diasporic sites in Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and Brazil. Landers now directs an international effort to digitally preserve the oldest records for Africans in the Americas.

This presentation will present an overview of the rise of the African slave trade and the subsequent diaspora of Africans through the Americas.  Main themes will include differences among European slave systems in the Spanish, Portuguese, English, and French colonies of the Americas and the resulting varieties of cultural expression and resistance of the enslaved.  You will also be introduced to the wide variety of evidence now available for studying the African diaspora in the Americas.

The African Diaspora_Feb.26

An Extracted Scot Finds Himself in Hungary: How to Get Started with Ancestry.com

By Stephen McClain, Reference Departmentancestry_logo

Did you know that Williamson County Public Library patrons can access Ancestry.com for free while in the library? Neither did I – and I am guessing that many other people in Williamson County don’t know either. Like many people in the United States, I have a multicultural background, but have never been absolutely certain what my ethnicity truly is. I have long been interested in tracing my roots and wondered when my ancestors first arrived on this continent, but without access to the proper resources, I never really looked into it. My surname suggests that I am Scottish and I have always celebrated that part of my lineage without really knowing the percentage or who first emigrated from the land of bagpipes and single malt whisky. Also, I have been told that my maternal side is of German or Austrian descent, but no one is really sure.

Census Records, Birth and Death Certificates and Marriage Recordsancestry1

When I first started searching Ancestry.com for information on my grandparents, the most readily available data that I found was census records. The search tab at the top left side of the home page provides users with a number of search options, but the easiest way to get started is to simply click the green “Begin Searching” button in the middle of the page. Though I was too young to remember meeting him, I know my paternal great grandfather’s full name and where he lived. By searching his name and town of residence, I was able to locate his father’s name via a combination of census, birth and death records. I repeated this process several times, and through the historical mist, I was able to find that my fifth great grandfather was born in Scotland in 1681 and arrived in what would become the United States in 1766. My family name has apparently been in this country for a very long time and the reveal of this information somewhat diminished my feelings of a connection with the Scottish homeland. I am not going to stop enjoying single malt Scotch whisky or listening to the pipes, but maybe I shouldn’t have gotten married in a kilt…either way, I had another side of my family to research.

ancestry3The maternal side of my lineage has always been somewhat of a mystery. No one in the family seems to know where the names come from. The names of my maternal grandparents both suggest German, Austrian, Slovak or Hungarian lineage. I searched my grandfather’s name and with very little effort, found out that his father was Hungarian. The 1920 U.S. Census records show that he was born in Hungary and his native tongue was Slavish. While his mother was born in Pennsylvania, her parents were born in Hungary as well, with the same linguistic details. I am 3rd generation Hungarian and never knew it! Maybe that’s why I like stuffed cabbage and lekvar pierogis so much? I don’t know. Regardless, I was excited to know that I had found a relatively recent connection to my European past. And because in many cases, Ancestry.com provides users with an actual scanned copy of the documents, I was able to see that this area in Pennsylvania was a true ethnic community. The birthplaces of the majority of the people (or the birthplaces of their parents) listed on the census record were Eastern European; Austria, Hungary, and Russia. How could my mother and her siblings have grown up not knowing that their grandparents were from Hungary? The reason is probably because so many European migrants of that time wished to disassociate themselves from their past and start a new life in America. They were struggling to make a new start while making a living in a brand new country, most often doing very difficult factory work. Maintaining and passing on a cultural identity was probably not on their list of important things to do.

When I was younger, I remember being told to be careful what you look for, you might find something you didn’t want to know. I grew up knowing most of my great aunts and uncles on my mother’s side of the family. There was only one uncle that I never met, who was killed in WW II…or so I thought he was the only one. Upon examining some census data that listed the household members at my great grandparents’ residence, I read a name listed that I had never heard before. A female child that was unknown to me. This mystery aunt was 2 years older than my oldest great aunt, of whom I grew up visiting on a regular basis. Who was this person? Was she the black sheep of the family that was shunned and disowned? Was she a convicted criminal that the family was keeping hidden? Maybe she was busted for making bathtub gin during Prohibition. I hoped so. That would be so cool. I was both eager and afraid to find out. I had to know who this person was and I could only hope that there was some guarded, veiled story to go along with this ghost on the census form. With anxious trepidation, I called my aunt and asked if she knew the identity of this missing relative. Without hesitation, she said, “That was grandma’s sister who died.” Mystery solved, though, too abruptly for my apprehensive curiosity. But what happened to her and why was she never mentioned? I was told that she died from a common complication after childbirth simply because she didn’t have access to the necessary medication and treatment. Wow. It had happened so long ago that she was never mentioned in my time. No romantic tales of rebellion, crime or calamity, but a somber reminder of harder times, to say the least.

Phone and Street Directories

My searches also produced a large number of scanned city phone directories dating back to the 1920s. When searching for a name on Ancestry.com, users are given categories on the left of the page. One of those choices is “Schools, Directories and Church Histories.” Though it was never mentioned in any family stories, I now know that the likely reason my maternal grandparents met is because their families lived on the same street. These old phone directories most often show not only telephone numbers and addresses, but also the name of individuals who were living at that address, i.e. another relative or a boarder. This is a great tool in locating exactly where a relative may have lived. And if nothing else, it is intriguing to see telephone numbers such as “WAlbridge 1154 and BLackstone 2311.”

Military Recordsancestry2

My paternal grandfather and many of my maternal great uncles were in World War Two. I was able to locate the muster rolls that listed my grandfather’s name and the ship he was on. (Yeah, I never heard the term “muster roll” either. It is the register of the officers and men in a military unit or on a ship. Thanks, Wikipedia.) I also found out that my maternal great uncle was killed at Pearl Harbor and I located a detailed photograph of the monument that lists his name. Additionally in the military records, I was able to find the scanned copies of WW I and WWII draft registration cards for both of my great grandfathers. The documents are hand written and include the signatures of the men. To locate documents such as these, simply type in the name of the person that you are searching and after clicking “Search”, you will see all of the results for that name. To the left of the page, there is a listing of categories, such as “Census and Voter Lists” and “Birth, Marriage and Death.” The third category is “Military.” This option will produce information on draft registration, enlistment, casualties, and gravesites, just to name a few. There is also a great deal of information on Civil War soldiers and the American Revolution.


 

This is just a sample of the information available at Ancestry.com and a bit of my personal experience in looking for my roots. It was great fun for me searching through my relative’s collective pasts and getting just a glimpse of their lives well before I was a twinkle in someone’s eye. Whenever you are ready to do your own searching, come to the second floor of the Williamson County Public Library and log on to a computer or visit one of the staff in the Special Collections department and they will help you with your queries. Access to Ancestry.com is only available to patrons while they are physically in the library. On the library’s website, move the mouse over Special Collections on the left of the page and click on Digital Genealogy. From there, click on Access Ancestry Library while visiting the library. The Williamson County Public Library also offers free classes on Introduction to Ancestry.com once a month.

 

But be advised, you may find something you didn’t expect…

How DNA Tests Helped Me with Genealogy!

By Jason Gavin, Special Collections Librarian

DNA_OverviewI’ve discussed some of the various kinds of DNA tests available before. Recently I was discussing with family my experience with the Ancestry.com DNA test compared with the National Genographic test -both of which I’ve taken- and thought I’d share my experience. Of course, ultimately which test you find most useful or interesting will depend on what you, personally, are hoping to get out of the test.

For myself, I find Y-DNA/ Mt-DNA tests to be far more interesting than Autosomal tests.   I found the autosomal tests (like the one Ancestry offers) kind of vague. Basically, it will show you matches between your DNA and other Ancestry users with a % confidence rate (90% likelihood this is a 3rd cousin, for example). You could then go to that person’s family tree (if it’s not private) and figure out how you match up. That’s assuming of course that their family tree has correct information, which unless you’ve verified their research is a big assumption. It’s kind of neat, but I’ve yet to see it lead to a breakthrough in anyone’s “brick wall” ancestor.

The other thing the autosomal DNA tests offer is an “ethnicity estimate”. That takes your DNA and compares it to samples from all around the world, and tells you what population you most closely match. So for example, it might say “Your DNA looks like your 54% British Isles, 20% German, 10% Native American…” and so on. But remember, the autosomal tests are only good for up to 6 generations, so it doesn’t really tell you anything about the ancient origins or ancestral “homeland” of your direct paternal or maternal lines. For that, you’d want a Y-DNA and/or Mt-DNA test.

I myself was most interested in the ancient DNA information. Especially because on both my father’s and mother’s side, I haven’t been able to trace the families “across the pond” for the direct maternal line or direct paternal line. The Y-DNA and Mt-DNA helped shed some light on this. So, even though these tests didn’t connect me with any specific people, I learned that on Dad’s side, we have a DNA marker that is found in Northwestern Irish families traditionally connected with the Ui Neal dynasty of Irish kings – and on Mom’s side, my haplogroup is a quite rare one that is a remnant from the first humans to venture into Europe as hunters/ gatherers– long before the invention of agriculture and prior even to the last ice age! Cool stuff, huh?

So for me, my money is on the National Genographic test. It gives you Y-DNA and Mt-DNA, as well as autosomal, and you can transfer your results to FamilyTree DNA for free!

The Annual Williamson County African American History Exhibit is Here!

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Migrations of Williamson County African Americans, Feb. 2-28, 2015 — Special Collections Department, Williamson County Public Library

The Special Collections department at the Williamson County Public Library is hosting its annual photographic exhibit on Williamson County African American history by local historian and author Thelma Battle. This year’s exhibit is “Coming & Going,” and examines the history of migration to and from Williamson County in the Black community. Topics will include the earliest slaves in the county, the reconstruction era exodus, the impacts of war, and modern immigration into Williamson County for industry, sports, and more. The exhibit is held in the 2nd floor Special Collections department at 1516 Columbia Ave. in Franklin, and will run from Feb. 2nd – 28th in honor of Black History Month.

Also in honor of Black History Month, the library will be hosting a free lecture, “The African Diaspora through the Americas,” on Friday, February 20 at 2pm-4pm in the downstairs meeting room.  Jane Landers will lecture on her more than twenty years of research on the African Diaspora (a diaspora is a scattered population with a common origin in a smaller geographic area) in various parts of the Americas. Her graduate research on the first free black town in in the Americas (formed by runaways from South Carolina who fled to Spanish Florida) supported archaeological investigations, a National Landmark registry and a museum. Since then she has also worked on diasporic sites in Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and Brazil. Landers now directs an international effort to digitally preserve the oldest records for Africans in the Americas.

displayThis presentation will present an overview of the rise of the African slave trade and the subsequent diaspora of Africans through the Americas.  Main themes will include differences among European slave systems in the Spanish, Portuguese, English, and French colonies of the Americas and the resulting varieties of cultural expression and resistance of the enslaved.  You will also be introduced to the wide variety of evidence now available for studying the African diaspora in the Americas.

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For More information, contact the Special Collections Department on the 2nd floor – 615-595-1246

The Williamson Room and the Battle of Franklin

By Jason Gavin, Special Collections Librarian03d7e2d1064e09f7531b755c057924a6

While you are in the library during the sesquicentennial celebrations, take a moment to stop by the Williamson Room, located in the Special Collections Department on the second floor. With floor to ceiling windows on three sides of the room, you will be standing right in the heart of where the Battle of Franklin occurred. Facing southwest from this room, you will be looking toward the two miles over which the Confederates advanced from Winstead Hill, completely exposed to enemy fire. Facing northeast, you will be about 500 feet from the position of the Union embankments. From this idyllic spot overlooking Columbia Avenue, it’s hard to imagine that by the end of the day on November 30, 1864, you would be looking over some 10,000 casualties, over 6,000 of which were Confederate – including 6 killed or mortally wounded generals.

There are several new markers displayed in the room commemorating the Battle, as well as an original 1878 map of the battlefield, portraits of the fallen Confederate generals with accounts of their final rolls in the terrible battle. Several pre-1900 first edition books relating to the Battle of Franklin from the Col. John L. Jordan collection are on display as well. It is worth the visit for the beautiful view and a quiet moment of reflection on the scope and toll of the terrible battle that occurred here 150 years ago.

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