Thursday, January 28, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: ILL (no, I'm not sick)

ILL up there stands, of course, for Inter-Library Loan. Amy Coffin, in her blog We Tree challenges us this week, the fourth week of the year-long endeavor with which I have not quite kept up, to check out our public library's Inter-Library Loan system. I use the one at my University the most, these days, as I'm working on my big project, and I have other papers to do as well.

But I do have a story about Inter-Library Loan this week. For my project, my directing professor wants me to read a book called Men of Cajamarca by James Lockhart. The university library does have a copy, but one of my professor's graduate students has it right now and it's not due back until the middle of the month. I'm next in line with a hold on it, but I would like to read it sooner, because then there is another book I need to read after that one. So I decided to see if the Jacksonville Public Library could get it for me on ILL. All these libraries are plugged into the ILL system called ILLiad, but I'm afraid this time it put me on an odyssey (okay, enough with the classical references . . .)

I got logged on and entered my information, including my Jacksonville library card number. I hit "submit." The form came back up, all filled in except for the library card information, and the form asked me in friendly red letters to enter my library card number. "I did, you ape," I responded -- I talk to my computer all the time, and not always nicely. So I entered it again, hit "submit," and the same thing happened. Now, my library card is current, so that was not the problem.

Today I went to the Jacksonville library, the main library downtown, to do some research in the microfilmed East Florida Papers. While I was there, I tried to find out if they could manually order the book for me on ILL. First off, the fellow at the information desk did not have the right information, and he sent me pursuing the undomesticated waterfowl. That was no fun, as I had already walked my limit on my arthritic hip looking for lunch. Then I went to the circulation desk, and got the phone number for the library's ILL office.

Haven't called them yet; didn't want to have to go outside to use my cell phone right then, as I wanted to get started on my research. I may call them tomorrow. Or, at this rate, I just may wait until the 15th, when the book is due back at the university library.

This has been an irritation, but it is not about to put me off ILL. I have reaped great benefit from this service, and it's one of the best services a library can offer.

I just need to try to find out why ILLiad does not like my Jacksonville library card!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Chocolate Widow

In Sunday's entry about beginning to see some patterns in my transcription of records from St. Augustine, 1813 through 1815, I mentioned a phrase that had me puzzled -- and amused. It is "la viuda de chocolate" -- the chocolate widow. Was this a reference to skin color? Was it a "modismo," what we call an idiom or colloquial expression for something? Or is it just what it purports to be?

I asked my professor for his opinion, and his response was that it looks like it means what it appears it might mean: the widow of the man who ran the chocolate shop. I find that fascinating for two reasons:

1. That they even had a chocolate shop in St. Augustine in 1813-1815 is interesting to me. It was not a very large nor an extremely prosperous settlement. But they had their luxury goods, by golly!

2. That the product in this instance was mentioned at all. It is the only mention of the product of a shop that I have found in transcribing the three years of records. All the other entries are by the merchant's name, with no mention at all of the products sold in any of their stores. But I can think of one way this might have gone:

Maybe the individual writing these entries was not the one who regularly did it at this particular time. Perhaps he was the new guy, just taking over the recording of his ward's store taxes. He doesn't know everyone very well, maybe he just arrived in St. Augustine, because I had not seen his name much before this. He has the list in his head . . . "Don So-and-So, Don Such-and-Such . . . and the widow who runs the chocolate shop that she took charge of after her husband died. Oh, what is her name? Um . . . Oh, heck, I'll just put her down as 'the chocolate widow' and figure it out later!"

And the record remained, for the amusement of those of us who like to poke around in dusty old documents.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Connecting the Dots

I have been working on my grant project, for which I have been gathering information from the East Florida Papers, of which I use the microfilm copy at the Jacksonville Public Library. I have been transcribing the municipal accounts of St. Augustine, Florida, from 1813 and 1814, including taxes paid by shop owners, salaries of some city employees, fines collected, and other such matters. I'm looking for names -- I'm fixing people in place and time and looking for some family relationships. I am finding some preliminary information, which will need to be verified in other records as far as family relationships are concerned. But I have found some instances of three or four people with the same surname. These are generally men, but there were some female shopkeepers in St. Augustine in that period. One of them is listed with the compound surname Pons y Arnau, so I have her maiden name and may be able to find her marriage in the church marriage registers. Unless, of course, that took place somewhere other than in St. Augustine.

I also found a phrase that really has me curious: La viuda de chocolate -- the chocolate widow. Now, what in the world does that mean? Was that one way to refer to skin color? It was written below the name of one of the shopkeepers on a tax list. Sounds to me like a great name for a shop!

But I see the beginning glimmers of family relationships, and this gets me excited. My professor is very excited about my project, and is getting me into contact with some of the names in colonial Florida history.

I'm excited about that!

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: Self-Assessment

I missed last week's challenge, as I did not get to the library due to other busy-ness. But this week's challenge has these instructions:

You’re great at researching everyone else’s history, but how much of your own have you recorded? Do an assessment of your personal records and timeline events to ensure your own life is as well-documented as that of your ancestors. If you have a genealogy blog, write about the status of your own research and steps you may take to fill gaps and document your own life.

My life is documented out the yang! In fact, my life is much better documented than that of any of my ancestors. Let's see:

Birth certificate -- I have TWO of them! One from the State of California and one from the U.S. Naval Hospital at Long Beach, where I was born. The latter has entries made in my mother's handwriting, and my footprints!

Marriage announcement, marriage certificate and wedding pictures. And our champagne glasses and the guest book.

Birth certificates of our daughters, and the registration information slips I got in the mail along with 'em.

Elementary and high school report cards -- a nearly complete collection. And my high school transcript and my diploma.

College transcripts, degree certificates, course-completion certificates for non-degree courses, and other records from other courses I've taken over the years

Initiation certificates into various academic bodies including Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, various subject-specific fraternities such as Pi Sigma Alpha (political science), Beta Phi Mu (library science) and Phi Alpha Theta (history).

Initiation certificate, pledge pin, and sorority pin from Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority (Alpha Kappa chapter at Florida State University). Also other documents and lots of photographs.

Membership certificate, awards, published articles, uniform items, photographs, certificates for completion of courses in such things as radio communications, and other memorabilia from my time in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, which was BIG fun (involved taking our boat out into the St. Johns River and doing patrols and actual rescues)!

Enlistment papers, commissioning certificates, uniform items, some photographs, and my service record (reserve version and active-duty version) of my 13 years in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Purchase and sale agreements, mortgages, deeds, photographs, tax records, and other papers relating to the houses my husband and I have bought. This category also includes survey maps of each property. We also have blueprints for two houses which we had built.

Federal Income Tax returns.

A few papers, including my nursing license, from the time when I was a registered nurse.

Papers from my employment as a librarian at the Jacksonville Public Library, and from when I worked for the IRS. This includes a completed work copy of the dreaded Form SF-171, on which a prospective federal employee must document his or her ENTIRE LIFE!

Journals: (1) when I went to Port Orchard and Seattle, Washington to be a bone marrow donor for my brother, an effort that unfortunately failed. There's an insurance company on my you-know-what list. (2) my journey to and month living in Seville, Spain, when I went to do research in the General Archive of the Indies (AGI). Living in Spain was hard on me; researching at the AGI was my version of Heaven!

Two published books, so far: Booking Hawaii Five-0: A Critical History and Episode Guide to the 1968-1980 Television Detective Series and Non-Federal Censuses of Florida, 1784-1945: A Guide to Sources. As you can see, my focus has changed!

Letters, letters, letters -- to and from family and friends, and letters of praise or complaint I have written over the years to companies and agencies. Some of my complaint letters are entertainingly caustic! Also including letters to and from my husband on his various deployments while on active duty in the Coast Guard, and when either of us was in training or on staff at the Coast Guard Reserve Training Center at Yorktown, VA.

These and other documents fill three 2-inch binders so far, as well as at least one file drawer!

The only gaps are in the stories that I have not written down yet. I have made a start, and written down several tales from my childhood,about the death of my father, about our move from California to Florida, and about my grandmother. There are many other stories I need to set down. As for censuses, I won't show up until the 1950 census is released in 2022, and I'm not sure I'm going to be around then, so that will be up to my descendants to fill in. I just have to hope they are going to want to.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What a kick!

In science-fiction fandom, there is a word: "egoboo." It comes from the phrase "ego boost," and I just got one.

As I've mentioned, my book, Non-Federal Censuses of Florida, 1784-1945: A Guide to Sources, has just been published. Now, it certainly is a kick to hold in your hand a book that has your name on it as the author.

What really gets you jazzed is looking it up in a library catalog and seeing the entry. I must confess that it is possible that not everyone would get excited about that, but I am an ex-librarian, and I guess that makes a book catalog entry special to me. I just looked my book up in the catalogs of the Clay County Public Library and the library of the University of North Florida. Nice! Apparently, the Jacksonville Public Library hasn't cataloged their copy yet. I donated copies to each of these libraries.

I have to admit to feeling self-conscious about tooting my own horn, but in this business, you have to do some shameless self-promotion from time to time.

I just hope the great feeling I got from seeing my book in the catalogs of libraries won't be deflated in the next few months as reviews come out.

I'll let you know.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: The Local Public Library

Today, in the first installment of this year-long blogging theme, we were supposed to go to our local library and jot down titles of books which might be useful in our genealogical searching.  I have four library cards, counting my University ID card.  I'm going to choose not my nearest library, but the one with the largest genealogy collection.  For one thing, I'm not from around here, though my husband is.  He has Florida connections that I lack.  So I'm more likely to find something useful in a larger collection.  That collection is at the Jacksonville (FL) Public Library.

Some possibly useful items, be they sources or finding aids:

GEN 929.3768 T297b reel 1
Births 1908-1912, index [microform]

Florida births, which may be useful in locating birth information on my husband's father's family (mainly some of pa-in-law's uncles and aunts).

929.1 ELLIOTT 2009
Finding anyone, anywhere, anywhen by Noel Montgomery Elliott

Sounds like something any genealogist could use!

GEN 929.1025 E133e 1964
East Tennessee historical and genealogical directory by the East Tennessee Historical Society

Possibly useful in tracing my mother's mother's family, who hailed from East Tennessee.  The family was there about 100 years before uprooting and going to Indiana.

GEN 929.509744 L222g 2009
A guide to Massachusetts cemeteries by David Allen Lambert

I have a lot of ancestors buried in Massachusetts!

GEN 929.1072 I72f
Finding your Canadian ancestors: a beginner's guide by Sherry Irvine and Dave Obee

Even those of us with some experience can find new information and methods from beginners' books, and I have Canadian ancestry.

GEN 929.1 D225g
The genealogist's guide to researching tax records by Carol Cooke Darrow and Susan Winchester

Tax records are an excellent resource; I can use new information on where to find them and how to use them.

AE 1.102:W 89/2 [government document]
Finding information on personal participation in World War II (National Archives and Records Administration)

My father was a Naval officer; my husband's father and mother were shipyard workers.  Can we find out more about them?

929.374 RAPAPORT
New England court records: a research guide for genealogists and historians by Diane Rapaport

Another resource that would be good for info on my New England ancestors.

That is just a scratch-the-surface list, but I don't want to make a huge blog entry!  Suffice it to say that browsing the library's collection can yield some impressive results.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Remembering Elizabeth Reed

My aunt, Elizabeth Reed, pictured second from left in the above photo, was a character. That is said in the best sense of the word -- an original, a standout, someone with a definite sense of humor.

Well, let's back up a bit. She wasn't biologically or genealogically my aunt, she was my second cousin. However, she was always my aunt to me, because my mother was an intra-family adoption. My mother, Martha Reed Packard, is at the right in this picture, in white. My grandmother -- that is, my grandaunt, Mary Reed is at left. My mother's father, Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Reed, was the brother of Mary Reed's husband, Perry Wilmer Reed. Frank Reed died in a railroad accident in 1917, before my mother's first birthday. The Reed family saw to it that little Martha was placed with Perry and Mary, and the adoption was final in 1920. Mary and Perry raised her as their own, and as far as we were all concerned, "Chollie" (Mary) and "Sissy" (Elizabeth) were grandmother and aunt to my siblings and me.

And Elizabeth Reed did help raise me, very actively. She saw to it, as my godmother, that I went to church. Got me in the choir, encouraged me to join the youth group, Episcopal Young Churchman, which I eventually served as a delegate to the diocesan House of Episcopal Young Churchmen and as treasurer. She was adamant that I go to college, and got in touch with our Congressman, Charles E. Bennett, to see to it that I got Veteran's Administration and Social Security assistance based on my father's service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. She encouraged me to apply to Florida State University, where I was accepted. She got me hooked up with the Southern Scholarship and Research Foundation in Tallahassee so that I was awarded a housing scholarship. She also taught me (and my sister and brother) how to drive.

"Sissy" did not live to see me graduate from Florida State University, nor did she get to see me receive such honors as being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, or get into graduate school for a master's degree in library science. She died in October of 1967, but she went the way she would have wanted to go, with her boots on, attending the national conference of Planned Parenthood in New York. She was the director of the northeast Florida chapter of Planned Parenthood in Jacksonville. And she always did find it a wonder why, when people had questions about sex and parenthood, they always came to an unmarried middle-aged woman!

She had a series of monologues which she would perform for civic groups in Jacksonville and around Florida. She did this in connection with her talks on health and wellness, as Director of Health Information for the then State Board of Health (now the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services) and later as director of the Planned Parenthood chapter. The monologues were funny and poignant, and not a one of them was committed to paper. They were all in her memory, and so were different each time she performed them. They ranged from a hilarious parody of a hospital bedside visitor to variations on the theme of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" (from a country singer to a child in a pageant to a torch singer), to a sober and wonderful tale of a grandmother who pioneered the American west talking to her upset teenage granddaughter.

She definitely was a character, and I have missed her much over the years. I named one of our daughters for her, and I do wish she could have met my daughters. They're characters, too.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Follow Friday: Genealogy's Star on Technology

James Tanner's blog, Genealogy's Star, is on my Google reader list, and on my "must read" list. He is a lawyer as well as a genealogist, so he has a lawyer's lens through which he often filters his blog entries, such as those on privacy and identity theft. I don't always agree with him, but do more often than not. His blog is wide-ranging and well-written. He's the one you want to read if you want to keep up with what is happening with the LDS Family Search website.

His most recent post is "Finding out about almost anything and everything," in which he discusses genealogy and technology. Genealogy has been affected big-time by the advances in technology, and in some ways we don't ordinarily think of -- such as taking digital photographs of information off of a microfilm reader's screen!

He's ahead of me on the genealogy/technology curve -- he apparently has a "smart phone." I'm wary of technology that's too much smarter than I am. (wink) Technology has given us an awful lot, but it is still possible to do genealogy without it.

It's just a lot harder.

Give Genealogy's Star a read, if you haven't been reading it already. Like me, James doesn't get many comments. He should -- his blogs can start a lot of really good discussions.