31 December 2019

StLGS Surname Files Index Updated and Online

(Thanks to Judy Belford, our Reference Room librarian, for contributing this week's blog post.)

The St. Louis Genealogical Society Surname Files Index is back online! The index has been down for several months as we inventoried the surname folders in our office, sorted them, and reassessed the collection. The files are made up of a wide variety of material that has been donated to the society over many years by members and friends. We currently have folders on nearly 2,700 surnames. Each surname is listed only once in the index and may refer to a single postcard or to multiple folders of the same or different families.

You can access the Surname Files Index on our website. Since this is such a long index, be sure you select the “Show More Results” link at the end of each screen to see all of the names.

The contents in each file can vary widely, but may contain items such as:
  • Pedigree charts
  • Family group sheets
  • Correspondence
  • Newspaper articles
  • Photocopies from books or journals
  • Research notes
Neither the files nor their contents may be removed from the office, but anyone coming into the office to use the files may make paper copies as desired for a nominal fee. Or, if you bring your smart phone or camera, you are welcome to take photographs.

Because of the inconsistent nature of materials in the files, we recommend that you contact the reference room librarian to learn the contents of a file before coming into the office.

We are once again accepting new material for surname files. Donations must be genealogical in nature (no photograph albums, scrapbooks, baby books, or personal memorabilia) and have some connection to St. Louis. The StLGS librarian reserves the right to edit the contents of donated surname material before adding anything to our collection. For more information or if you have questions about what or how to donate, please send an email to library@stlgs.org or call the office at 314-647-8547 during office hours and ask for the reference room librarian.

23 December 2019

Hands-On Experiences Enhance Genealogy

(This week's blog was written by StLGS member, Janet Foss, who shares some serendipitous travel experiences—and photos—in her quest to learn more about her ancestors. Hopefully, Janet's successes will inspire you to hit the road too, once the weather warms up. And from all of us at St. Louis Genealogical Society, a very happy/merry Chanukah/Christmas!)

Unexpected Finds

My husband and I travel quite a bit in an RV. We both love history. Whenever we are on the road, we seek out museums and historical sites. Lucky for me, our summer travels have provided several unexpected encounters that have enhanced my genealogy.

On a trip to Springfield, Illinois, I discovered that I was near Camp Butler National Cemetery. Just a week earlier, I had learned that my 2X great-grandfather reported for military service in January 1865 at Camp Butler. I hadn’t yet taken the time to determine where that might have been and here it was jumping off the page of a local travel brochure. In addition to being a troop processing center, the camp had a hospital, which necessitated the need for a cemetery. Although the camp is long gone, several photos and placards outside the cemetery office described the camp and subsequent national cemetery.

A month later, while spending time in Lexington, Kentucky, we visited Camp Nelson National Monument, a Civil War site and new addition to the National Park Service. While we were browsing through the museum, a volunteer pointed out a small re-created sutler’s store. Holding up one of the shoes in the display, the guide explained that there were three sizes––small, medium and large––and no right or left designation. (No arch supports or insoles either!) Suddenly I recalled my 3X great-grandfather, a boot and shoemaker in 1860s St. Louis. This was just what he would have been making.

Then while visiting Keokuk, Iowa, we toured the beautiful Victorian mansion of Samuel Morgan Freeman, a prominent citizen and attorney. Sitting on a side table In Freeman’s office was a Blickensdoerfer typewriter. George Canfield Blickensdoerfer, the inventor of this version of the typewriter, was a distant cousin of mine. Up to this point, I had only seen a picture of his invention. Here was the real thing, complete with the wooden carrying case.

Of course, we photographed these wonderful discoveries to add to my ever-growing collection of genealogy materials.

Perhaps what I am saying is that we can learn so much about our ancestors’ lives in many ways if we just remain open to them. We all spend countless hours searching databases on the Internet and scrolling through microfilms and other resources in the library. These are certainly invaluable tools in researching our family history, but making stops at museums, historical sites, and other places can provide a rewarding glimpse into our ancestors’ lives and help us piece together their stories.

16 December 2019

Enjoy a History Staycation in St. Louis

 Missouri History Museum in Forest Park: Mighty Mississippi

There is nothing like a holiday weekend with out-of-town company to get you off the couch and finally visiting two wonderful St. Louis venues that are all about history. If you ever wondered how much of an influence the Mississippi River has had on St. Louis, head over to the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park to see the "Mighty Mississippi," a special exhibit that opened in late November and will remain in place until April 2021. Encompassing more than four hundred years of history, this slice of life in the Mississippi River watershed includes information on many of the religious and ethnic groups that lived and worked along the river and settled the city.

A sensory delight of panoramic displays, artifacts, and hands-on video and audio stations, the exhibit takes you through time, introduces you to many of the important people in the city's history, and keeps you engaged and fascinated as you learn more about how the river has supported life for generations. Learn more about the exhibit on the Missouri History Museum's website.


While you are at the History Museum, don't miss the extremely moving exhibit of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs. This exhibit will close in just a few weeks—on 20 January 2020—and is absolutely stunning in its raw depiction of the highs and tragic lows from 1942 until the present. You will undoubtedly remember seeing many of these photos when they first were published. They are intense in their revelations of war, crime, bigotry, and tragedy as well as breathtaking in their celebration of life, triumph, and love. For those of you with an interest in history, this one is a must-see, but be forewarned, some of the images will stay with you long after you leave the gallery!


The Museum at the Gateway Arch

Sure, it's always fun to ride up to the top of the Arch to see the panoramic view on a clear day, and it is really a must-do activity when friends or family visit from another city. However, within the past year, the museum under the Arch has undergone a massive renovation and is really worth a visit on its own merits. There is also a new café adjacent to the museum where you can get a snack or a meal.

The exhibits in the newly-expanded museum are bright, packed with information, and guaranteed to pique your interest.  Beginning with Native American settlement, the chronological history of the city and its environs is told in an inclusive and eye-opening manner. You will learn more about the early Native American and Creole inhabitants, the pioneers, the adventurers and fur traders, the immigrants, and the quest to keep moving west. An additional gallery reveals many details on the actual construction of the Arch in the 1960s. Learn more about the museum and check out what is in each of the galleries at the National Park Service's website.

Since the Gateway Arch is now under the auspices of the National Park Service, you do need to go through a security checkpoint before entering the museum. You may not have any weapons with you, and purses, backpacks, etc., will go through a conveyor belt while you walk through an airport-style security machine. There is a  small entrance fee to the site and an additional charge to ride up to the top. If you have a National Park Service pass, you will get a discount on the fees. Get help planning a visit on the Gateway Arch's website.

Why not plan to visit these two wonderful local museums while you have some time off this winter? You will gain so much insight into the history of our city when you do!

 (All photos by Ilene Murray)

09 December 2019

2019 Holiday Gift Suggestions for your Favorite Genealogist (or You!)

Lucky for us, there is an abundance of wonderful possibilities for holiday gifts for your favorite genealogist or historian. We offer you the following ideas to make your genie-buddy's holiday just a bit brighter (or to gift yourself!)

St. Louis Genealogical Society
  1. An individual or family membership, just in time for the start of the 2020 year's events and our ever-expanding collection of online databases
  2. Gift certificates, available in any amount, good for discounts on workshops or items in the StLGS store (Check the website for how to order.)
  3. Copies of society publications, such as The War of 1812 in Missouri (volumes 1 and 2) or Orphanage Care in St. Louis; all available in our online store or at the office
Technology-related Gifts
  1. Flash/thumb drives to use in libraries or to move, share, or store files
  2. A portable external hard drive for extra storage or backing up files
  3. A subscription to an online/cloud backup plan such as Backblaze or Carbonite
  4. Extra supplies for digital equipment: memory cards, batteries, portable mini-tripods
  5. A subscription to Ancestry, FindMyPast, Newspapers.com or any similar service
  6. A DNA testing kit (Choose one of the major companies: FamilyTree DNA, Ancestry, or 23andMe. Select the one that has the most people in its database that are similar to your recipient. The more people with the same background in the database, the more accurate the results.)
  7. A genealogy software program or an upgrade to an existing program
  8. Gift cards to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store or to the appropriate store for their particular smart phone or tablet so they can buy additional apps
  9. Gift certificates to local community colleges or adult education sponsors for classes and practice in using technology
Not Technological
  1. Archival quality photo storage boxes or photo albums
  2. Acid-free photo mounting supplies and/or photo marking pens
  3. Acid-free, archival quality sheet protectors and/or paper
  4. Good quality three- or four-inch D-ring binders for storing copies of sheets and documents
  5. Gift certificates to historical/genealogical societies in areas where ancestors lived for membership, publications, and/or special events

Almost all genealogists are book lovers and you can't go wrong by adding to their collections. Try some of these . . .
  1. Any of the QuickSheets by noted genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills (or, better yet, her excellent book on source citations, Evidence Explained)
  2. The series of Genealogy at a Glance laminated booklets available in a variety of ethnicities: German, Irish, French, etc.
  3. Books on American states of interest; for instance, any of the NGS Genealogy in the States series
  4. Books that are specific to areas of interest: neighborhoods, religions, occupations, or any other unique aspect of their family history
Remember, as a StLGS member, you are entitled to a discount on many of the products in our online store. Be sure to log in as a member to get your discount code before you shop. Click here to go to the StLGS online store. Or come by the office and see what we have available in our lobby sales area. Have fun doing your holiday shopping or just treating yourself to a gift!

02 December 2019

One Last Event and a Sneak Peek at the Exciting StLGS 2020 Calendar

Jewish SIG Meeting is Last StLGS Event of 2019

Because of the holiday season, StLGS does not schedule monthly meetings in December. However, there is one Jewish Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting coming up on Sunday, 8 December that is free and open to all, regardless of whether you have Jewish ancestors. This workshop, from 10:00 a.m. until noon, features "The Photo Detective," Maureen Taylor, internationally known for her expertise in historic photos and their preservation, who will present tools and tips for photo identification, family history and research, and photo preservation. She will focus on twentieth-century photographs and immigrant ancestors in this special workshop co-sponsored by the Brodsky Library, the St. Louis Jewish Community Archives, and St. Louis Genealogical Society.

The Jewish Federation is handling registration for this event, and pre-registration is requested. You can contact Kathy Schmeltz at 314-442-3761 or at kschmeltz@jfedstl.org or register directly on the Center for Jewish Learning's website. (See the blog post from 11 November 2019 for specific directions.)
January Monthly Meeting: Ask Louie

Please join us in January when our exciting 2020 schedule of meetings and events begins. Our first monthly meeting of the new year will be on Saturday, 11 January, at 10 a.m. in the auditorium at the Headquarters building of the St. Louis County Library, 1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard. We'll start the year with a panel discussion where you can "Ask Louie." Bring your genealogy questions or email them ahead to programs@stlgs.org, if they are a bit complicated. Our panel of experienced genealogists will try to help you break through a brick wall or two. More information is on our website's Monthly Meetings page. We hope to see you at the January meeting.

Annual Trivia Night: Saturday, 7 March 2020

This popular fundraiser will take place on Saturday, 7 March, at the Maplewood/Richmond Heights Community Center. Always a fun-filled occasion, this evening event has rounds of interesting questions, a fabulous silent auction, and bonus rounds with excellent prizes. Registration is now open, and we do hope you will invite friends or just come by yourself and make new ones. Go to the Trivia Night page on our website for more information and/or to register.

Much More to Come in 2020

To see all of the meetings and events planned for 2020 and/or to download an events flyer, visit the Calendar of Events page on our website. Save the dates for our Family History Conference, our Summer Speaker Series, the upcoming Technology Institute, and the annual Salt Lake City Research trip.

The Special Interest Group schedules and flyers for 2020 are now available as well. Check them out on the SIG web pages:

25 November 2019

Thanksgiving Treats and Traditions

Make the Most of Your Holiday Gathering

As families and friends gather to celebrate the holidays, genealogists have many opportunities to explore their families' heritage and traditions. It's a great time to teach the next generation the secrets to your family recipes or the meaning behind the special dishes, silverware, or serving pieces you inherited and hope to pass on.

You can share stories as you eat or as you create something delicious using Grandma's mixing bowls. Record your traditions—take photos or videos and write down how you came to be making the traditional foods your family enjoys at the holidays each year.

Make copies of the family recipes to send home with your cousins. Recall the foods you ate at holiday gatherings in the past. What was delicious? What do you wish you could recreate? What foods were awful experiments that you still laugh about today?

Food has always been the center of family gatherings. No matter what your ethnic or religious background is, preparing and serving special dishes for family and guests is universal. What is center stage for your Thanksgiving table?

  • Is it turkey? Do you serve it brined, roasted, deep-fried, stuffed, or unstuffed?
  • If not turkey, then ham? Prime rib? Goose or duck? Turducken or tofurkey?
  • What accompanies the main course? Stuffing (or dressing), mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, or sweet potatoes with marshmallows and pineapple?
  • What about cranberries . . . jellied from a can or homemade with orange and pecans? Or does your family just not like them at all?
  • Many a table is graced with that old standby green bean casserole this week. Is yours? Perhaps you prefer different veggies like Brussels sprouts or broccoli?
  • What's the grand finale to the meal? Pumpkin, sweet potato, or apple pie? Something with nuts or filled with chocolate?
After you've thought about (and/or consumed) all the food, why not turn to other topics? Have you ever broken from tradition and tried something new? Did your family rebel or consider it an adventure to try something different?

Are there activities you look forward to each Thanksgiving? Maybe your family plays board games, watches television, or goes to the park to play touch football. Some families put up their Christmas tree or sing around a piano or guitar. Maybe you like to watch a marathon of holiday movies. Whatever it is your family does each year, be sure to record those memories too.

Finally, whether your traditions are completely different from those mentioned above or waiting to be newly created, Thanksgiving is all about being grateful for the bounty of the harvest and the warmth of family and friends. If you are surrounded by people you care about, all that matters is the enjoyment of good company and the feast you or your hosts have prepared.

Whether you journal, blog, scrapbook, write stories, or take photos, your family will thank you for preserving the memories of what makes your Thanksgiving special. And all of us at St. Louis Genealogical Society hope you have the happiest of holidays!

18 November 2019

How StLGS Members Can Help the Society

Recently, StLGS members received a letter from our president asking for donations to the society. As we approach the holiday season, we hope you will find some space in your end-of-year planning to support StLGS.

Unlike some larger non-profits, StLGS is funded completely by donations, dues, and sales. We have no grants or benefactors. What we do is only possible because of your donations. Every dollar that comes into our office goes towards fulfilling our mission: "promoting family history research by providing educational and research opportunities, offering community services, and collecting, preserving, and publishing genealogical and historical records."

Our all-volunteer staff continues to work tirelessly:
  • Assisting researchers, answering questions, and greeting visitors
  • Offering members free classes and lecturing and teaching throughout the community
  • Scanning, indexing, and proofreading a wide assortment of original records
  • Posting new data to the website, creating new web pages and informational flyers, publishing our Quarterly journal, and curating this blog, and our Facebook and Twitter feeds 
  • Planning exciting programs and events for the coming year

Updated Technology

Because our website and our office computer network are so vital to our ability to communicate with the public, we must keep both entities protected and current. Website security is maintained by an off-site professional company, a fixed expense we willingly pay. Volunteers maintain the integrity of our office network. Next year, we will upgrade our office software and increase the level of security in our office network.

New Projects and Data

We also are actively exploring livestreaming, webinars, and other online options to expand our classes and meetings to out-of-town members. Our website continues to grow with the addition of more congregations, biographies, and other St. Louis-related material. You can always discover what is new by going to the New On This Site page.

How Can You Help?

Any amount you can send will be much appreciated, and we hope you will use the envelope you received to return a check or credit card donation. Your gift to StLGS is tax deductible to the extent allowed by current law.

Matching Donations, Amazon Smile, and Schnucks eScrip

Because StLGS is a not-for-profit 501(C)(3) organization, we qualify for matching donation funds from companies that offer them. In the past, we have received matching funds from AT&T, MasterCard, and Boeing. Does your employer support matching donations? If so, please think of earmarking your donation to StLGS that way.

For the past five years, we have also been a member of the smile.amazon.com donation program. If you are planning to shop online this holiday season, please log on to https://smile.amazon.com and choose St. Louis Genealogical Society as the recipient of your donation. It costs you nothing, but Amazon will donate a portion of every one of your purchases to the society.

In addition, Schnucks grocery stores still accept eScrip/Community cards. You cannot, however, use them with the current rewards program, but if you choose to forego your personal points, you can still designate rewards to go to the charity of your choice. If you have an eScrip/Community card, please select StLGS as the recipient of your points. They turn into dollars for us! You can learn more about the eScrip program on the eScrip website.

All of these programs are open to all. If you have friends or relatives who would like to join you in supporting the society, please encourage them to do so.

From the bottom of our hearts . . .

11 November 2019

Photographs and Memories: Two Special Upcoming Genealogy Events

The holiday season is a perfect time to share family treasures with relatives and recognize the importance of understanding and preserving fragile photographs and letters from the past. If you are lucky enough to have such unique documents from your family, perhaps you have wondered exactly what the letters say or how to identify and preserve those cracked, yellowing photos.

Two exciting genealogy events are on the horizon that can help you solve these dilemmas. Both are free but pre-registration is requested. We hope you will join us for one or both of these workshops.

Digitization Day: German Heritage in Letters

Saturday, 23 November 2019
1:00 p.m.–4:00 pm.
St. Louis Genealogical Society Office, 4 Sunnen Dr., Suite 140, St. Louis, MO 63143

If you have letters that were sent to your family from Germany before 1926, and you would like assistance with scanning and translating them, you are invited to participate in the German Heritage in Letters project under the auspices of the German Historical Institute of Washington, D.C. StLGS is partnering with St. Louis County Library's History and Genealogy Department and the German Historical Institute to sponsor this afternoon of scanning and translating at our office. StLGS volunteers will be on site to scan your letters and return them to you with a digital copy of each. Translators, library staff, and StLGS volunteers will be available to answer questions.

St. Louis County Library is handling registration. You can call 314-994-3300 or register on the event's registration page.

More information about the project is on the German Heritage in Letters website.

Kodak Moments and Technicolor Dreams:
Reading Immigrant Clues in 20th Century Photos

Featuring: Maureen Taylor, "The Photo Detective"
Sunday, 8 December 2019
10:00 a.m.–noon
Jewish Federation of St. Louis, 12 Millstone Campus Dr., St. Louis, MO 63146

This final Jewish Special Interest Group meeting of the year is free and open to everyone. Discover your family history one picture at a time. Maureen Taylor, internationally known for her expertise in historic photos and their preservation, will present tools and tips for photo identification, family history and research, and photo preservation. She will focus on twentieth-century photographs and immigrant ancestors in this special workshop co-sponsored by the Brodsky Library, the St. Louis Jewish Community Archives, and St. Louis Genealogical Society.

The Jewish Federation is handling registration for this event. 
You can contact Kathy Schmeltz at 314-442-3761 or at kschmeltz@jfedstl.org or register directly on the Center for Jewish Learning's website.  
  • On the website, scroll down to class number 1919, "Kodak Moments . . ." and click in the registration box.
  • Then continue scrolling down the page to the "Go to Checkout" button and click there.
  • On the page that opens, you will need to fill in the starred items (contact information) and then click the "Finish Registration" button. There is no cost to attend.
  • You will receive an email acknowledgment after you register.

04 November 2019

November Genealogy Meetings and Classes

StLGS 2019 Election Results

Thanks to those of you who took a minute to vote for the vice-president for programs and treasurer in this year's election of officers. Karen Goode and Viki Fagyal, who currently hold those positions, have been re-elected and are grateful for your support. Both are already hard at work in preparation for 2020. Karen has been planning speakers and special events and Viki is finalizing next year's budget. More to come on the exciting plans for 2020 very soon.

November StLGS Monthly Meeting

Saturday, 9 November 2019—10:00 a.m.
"Newspapers: Pages of Your History," by Patsy Luebbert, St. Louis County Library Headquarters Auditorium, free and open to all, no pre-registration needed.
More information on the StLGS website.

Other Upcoming Classes and Meetings

St. Louis County Library Classes 

Tuesday, 5 November 2019
"Finding Immigrant European Ancestors," by Larry Franke, Cliff Cave Branch, 10:00 a.m. till noon. Free, but registration is required.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019
"Reading Handwritten German Church Records," by Carol Whitton, CG; Cliff Cave Branch, 6:30 p.m. till 7:30 p.m. Free and open to all; no registration required.

Thursday, 7 November 2019
"Who Were My Ancestors? Beginning Genealogical Research," Headquarters Branch, 2:00 p.m. till 4:00 p.m. Free, but registration is required.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019
"Identifying Ancestral Military Veterans," Weber Road Branch, 6:30 p.m. till 8:30 p.m. Free, but registration is required.

 Missouri Historical Society Programs

Tuesday, 12 November 2019
"World War I Veterans of St. Louis," led by Bellefontaine Cemetery staff member, Richard Lay, Lee Auditorium, Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, 10:30 a.m. Free, but registration is required via St. Louis Community College. Call 314-984-7777.

"Early Patterns of Land Use and Building Traditions in St. Louis," by Andrew Weil, AT&T Foundation Multipurpose Room, Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, 7:00 p.m. Free, no registration is required.

Thursday, 21 November 2019
"Missouri's Statehood," by Dorris Keeven-Franke, Lee Auditorium, Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, 10:30 a.m. Free, but registration is required via St. Louis Community College. Call 314-984-7777.

28 October 2019

Missouri Militia in the Civil War

(Many thanks to StLGS treasurer, Viki Fagyal, for submitting this week's blog post.) 

Did you have an ancestor who served in the Civil War, but not in the Union or Confederate Army? Maybe they served in the Missouri Home Guard or the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM)? Did you know there were two groups?

The Home Guards organized in the summer of 1861 to “stay at home and go into action only to defend their neighborhoods.” They disbanded in late 1861. The Enrolled Missouri Militia formed in the summer of 1862 and “were meant to stay at home and come into service only when needed in their home areas.”

There were other groups formed in different years:
  • Six-Month Militia, 1861
  • Missouri State Militia, 1861–1865
  • Enrolled Missouri Militia, 1862–1865
  • Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia, 1863–1865
  • Provisional Enrolled Militia, (G.O. #107 [General Order]), 1864–1865;
  • Missouri Militia (G.O. #3), 1865; and Missouri Militia (State Convention), 1865–late nineteenth century. 
Your ancestor may have served in one or more of these militia groups.
Records are available at the Missouri State Archives and Missouri Historical Society.  Research collections are also available in the History and Genealogy Department at St. Louis County Library Headquarters and in the Downtown St. Louis Public Library Genealogy Collection.

If you want to read more about the Missouri Militia in the Civil War, there are several good online resources:

“Guide to Civil War Resources at the Missouri State Archives,” Missouri Digital Heritage, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, 2019, https://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/resources/civilwar/.

“Life of a Home Guard and Enrolled Missouri Militia,” For Educators: The Civil War in Missouri, The Missouri History Museum, 2011, http://www.civilwarmo.org/educators/resources/info-sheets/life-home-guard-and-enrolled-missouri-militia.

Kirby Ross, "Federal Militia in Missouri," http://www.civilwarstlouis.com/militia/federalmilitia.htm.

21 October 2019

Searching for Canadian Ancestors

Library and Archives Canada

If you have Canadian ancestors in your family tree and you are looking for online assistance with your research, the best place to get started is the wonderful website of the Library and Archives Canada (LAC). Start on their home page to learn more about the records they have and/or to submit information to their ongoing Canadian heritage projects. Across the top is a tab bar, and by hovering your mouse over a tab, you will see the drop-down menus in each category. For instance, in the illustration below, you can see the contents of the Discover the Collection tab.

Of course, you can explore, but if you want to go directly to their genealogy offerings, you can do so on their "Genealogy and Family History" page. Here is where you will find databases, sources for research by topic (census, military, immigration, etc.), and sources for genealogy research by location in Canada. There are also links to searching archival records, published sources, digitized photos, maps, and records specific to different ethnic groups. Instructions appear on that page on how to access the records and how to visit the actual library, which is located in Ottawa. You will also find contact information and ways to request assistance.

The "Links and Related Research" page is exactly what you need if you want to look for specific resources by Canadian province or by other countries. You will find dozens of links here to genealogical and historical societies as well as libraries and archives (including religious archives of all faiths) across Canada and several other countries.

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Another helpful resource, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and also has an interesting website. The museum occupies part of the pier that functioned as an immigration station from 1928 to 1971 and a departure point for about half a million Canadian soldiers during World War II. As you did on the previous site, you will want to explore the drop-down menus on the tab bar. 

The selection under the Research tab will be especially helpful in learning more about what is available and how to access it. Unlike the LAC, this facility does not have actual records; however, they are happy to assist you in finding what you need and in answering questions. If you or your family are recent immigrants and have stories to share, this museum has an active oral history project and instructions for submitting digital files are also under the Research tab.

(Thanks to StLGS volunteer, Barb Ilges, for alerting us to this helpful website.)

14 October 2019

New St. Louis County Historian AND Genealogy TV News

Genealogists and historians have good news to celebrate this week, as Tom Ott, director of St. Louis County's Department of Parks and Recreation, announced that the position of county historian has been filled. Beginning today, Monday, 14 October 2019, Guinn Hinman will be the Historic Sites Manager of St. Louis County Parks. In a press release, Mr. Ott said that Ms. Hinman has a "strong background of both management and historic preservation."

Ms. Hinman comes to St. Louis from North Dakota where she was the northern region sites manager for the North Dakota State Historical Society in Bismarck. During her five years there, she managed twenty-seven historical sites. Working with government and civic groups, she was an integral part of the restoration of the state's oldest courthouse in Stutsman County.

Ms. Hinman arrived in St. Louis this spring and has been working for the Missouri State Park system. We join with the Parks Department and other history/genealogy groups in our area in welcoming her and wishing her much success in her new job.


Genealogy TV Series Returning!

Two genealogy-themed television shows are returning to network television in 2020.

Finding Your Roots on PBS
Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s "Finding Your Roots" teased its sixth season on Tuesday, 8 October, with a new episode on PBS (locally KETC, Channel 9) featuring Mia Farrow, Angelica Huston, and Isabella Rossellini, and will air another new episode, with Melissa McCarthy and Eric Stonestreet, tomorrow, Tuesday, 15 October (KETC, 7:00 p.m., Central Time). Expect some older episodes to rerun before the show returns with a whole new season in January. No schedule has been posted yet, but one episode features one of St. Louis's own.

StLGS's "Ask Louie" volunteers were excited to help with an upcoming segment on Olivette native and Mary Institute/Country Day School graduate, award-winning actor, Sterling K. Brown. Be sure to watch for the start of Season Six, featuring twenty-seven celebrities in eight episodes during the winter and then six more episodes in the fall. Read more about the new season here. And, if you missed last week's episode, you can catch it on Channel Nine's website. It's free!

Who Do You Think You Are? on NBC
An American take on a British original, "Who Do You Think You Are?" ran on NBC for a few seasons before the network dropped it. Picked up by cable station, TLC, it had a successful run for several more years. A few months ago, NBC announced the popular show would return to its network for its eleventh season. The network has ordered thirteen new episodes but has not announced a debut date or time slot. You can read more about the return of this long-running genealogy show in Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter from May 2019.

07 October 2019

Fun with Words in Genealogy

Did your Scottish ancestors have a pair of cod-heads? Perhaps your American ancestors helped lay a corduroy road or worked as a whitewing? German ancestors? Did they wear osnaburg or ticklenburg?

Language changes over time and our ancestors would be equally befuddled if they heard someone say "My bad" or "Catch you later" or any of the countless words and phrases we use today. Making sense of today's vocabulary is easy enough, but what do you do when confronted with words and phrases that are no longer in popular usage?

Consult a book—there are some wonderful book references that a generation of genealogists have come to rely on:
  • A to Zax: A Comprehensive Dictionary for Genealogists and Historians, written by Barbara Jean Evans, is a much-beloved classic and deserves to be in every researcher's library. Published by Hearthside Press, the third edition came out in 1995 and is still available in paperback.
  • What Did They Mean by That?, written by Paul Drake, is "a dictionary of historical and genealogical terms old and new." Published by Heritage Books in 2003, it, too, can still be found for purchase.
  • More What Did They Mean by That?, also by Paul Drake, is a companion book to the previously mentioned volume and appeared in 2006 as a hardback and in a paperback edition in 2009. (StLGS members: Log into our store to get your member code and then go to http://store.stlgs.org/more-what-did-they-mean-by-that for your discount on the hardback, which we sell.)
Check the internet—lists of archaic words and phrases abound online. Here are just a few to get you started.
(By the way, if your ancestor had cod-heads, he/she was likely from the Glasgow area of Scotland and had some shoes that wore out at the toes. A corduroy road was made from tree trunks laid side by side over a swampy or muddy area, and a whitewing was a street sweeper in a white uniform (see the illustration above). Osnaburg and ticklenburg were kinds of cloth made in Germany. Both were made of linen but the latter was more coarsely made and twice as strong.)

30 September 2019

StLGS Voting Opens AND October Meetings and Events

StLGS 2019 Election of Officers: 

Online Voting Opens Tuesday, 1 October 2019

October is the time to vote for StLGS officers. This year, the vice-president for programs and treasurer are up for re-election. Karen Goode and Viki Fagyal, who currently hold those positions, have agreed to run again, and your votes of confidence for them will indicate your support for the outstanding jobs they are doing.

All voting will be done online, and it couldn't be easier. Just go to our website, www.stlgs.org, log in as a member, and find the link that goes to the voting page at the very top. (See illustration below.)
On the voting page, you will find short biographies of both candidates, a link to our bylaws, if you want to look them over, and a link to the online ballot.

Voting should take you just seconds and must be completed by midnight, 1 November. Just click in the box next to each name on the ballot and then type in your own name at the bottom. This step is necessary to be sure each member number gets only one vote and that each person who votes is an active member.

Please note that the following ballots will be disqualified:
  1. Ballots without names
  2. Ballots with member names that appear more than once
  3. Votes cast after midnight on 1 November 2019
Any questions? Call our office at 314-647-8547 during regular office hours and we will be glad to help you.

October StLGS Monthly Meeting

Saturday, 12 October 2019—10:00 a.m.
"Going with the Flow: River History and the Records That Trace It," by Porsche Schlapper, St. Louis County Library Headquarters Auditorium, free and open to all, no pre-registration needed.
More information on the StLGS website.

Irish Special Interest Group (SIG) Meeting 
Tuesday, 22 October 2019—7:00 p.m.
"Finding Irish Ancestors in the St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Office," by Richard Buthod; St. Louis County Library Headquarters Auditorium, free and open to all, no pre-registration needed.
 More information on the Irish SIG page on the StLGS website.

Other Upcoming Classes and Meetings

StLGS Classes 

  • All classes are free to StLGS members; there is a fee for non-members. 
  • Classes are held at the StLGS office and begin at 1:00 p.m. 
  • Pre-registration required at 314-647-8547
Saturday, 5 October 2019
"Beginning Irish Research," by Carol Hemmersmeier and Kay Weber 

Saturday, 19 October 2019
"Advanced Legacy Family Tree (Genealogy Software, PC Only)," by Cathy Amen

Sappington-Concord Historical Society Meeting
Thursday, 17 October 2019—2:30 p.m.
"Bellefontaine [Cemetery]'s People of Intrigue," by Dan Fuller and Richard Lay, Friendship Village South, 12503 Village Circle Drive, Sunset Hills, Crossings Building, Rhineland Room; free and open to all, no pre-registration needed.
More information on the events page on the group's website.

23 September 2019

Shop to Support StLGS

(Thanks to StLGS treasurer, Viki Fagyal, for contributing this reminder of how we can all support the society by simply shopping!)

Did you know there are two super-easy ways to support the St. Louis Genealogical Society by doing what you do every day—shopping? Both Amazon and Schnucks supermarkets offer free programs that help support local non-profit organizations. As you may know, StLGS is an all-volunteer non-profit organization, so every penny we receive in donations goes directly to paying for the things genealogists want to see: informative new webpages on StLGS.org, better speakers, and new publications. We rely on donations to help defray the day-to-day costs of keeping up our computer network, maintaining our website, and keeping our office doors open. How can you help?


There are several ways you can make donations to StLGS that don’t involve anything more than designating the society as your charity of choice. AmazonSmile is a program we have belonged to for many years. If you are an Amazon shopper, please consider making your purchases via the Smile program. It’s so easy!

To learn more about the program, you can read the FAQ page. Then, from the list of charities at https://smile.amazon.com/, choose St. Louis Genealogical Society, and from that point on, whenever you make a purchase, do it through the link to smile.amazon.com. Your shopping cart, Amazon account, and personal details will be exactly the same. The only difference is that Amazon will donate .05 percent of your purchase price to the society. You may want to bookmark the smile link so you always start your Amazon shopping that way.


If you are a customer of Schnucks supermarkets, you can use the My Schnucks eScrip card so that a portion of your purchase will be donated to StLGS. If you don't have a My Schnucks card (or an older Community Card), ask for one at the customer service desk the next time you shop. Then register your card online at escrip.com/schnucks or by calling 1-800-931-6258.

Just show your card each time you check out and up to three percent of your purchase goes to StLGS. You would be surprised to see how these charitable donations add up with all of our members helping.

And, if you work for a company that has matching gifts, please consider designating St. Louis Genealogical Society as your charity.

Your StLGS membership and continued support help make the society better for all of us. Please consider using these free, convenient methods to give to St. Louis Genealogical Society.

Thank you so much!

16 September 2019

StLGS Adds News and Events Facebook Page

St. Louis Genealogical Society hosts a thriving Facebook group, currently almost 2,600 people and growing every week. Now, for the benefit of our members and other interested genealogists, we've created a Facebook page dedicated solely to society news and events. The new page will not accept comments and is only for announcements and upcoming meetings, classes, and other important messages from the society. We are excited that this page will supplement the calendar on our website and will also be a vehicle to reach people who want the latest society information at their fingertips.

You do not have to ask to join the new page. Just "like" it and "follow" it so you get the updated announcements in your feed. You do have to join the group, however, if you want to post or make any comments.

If you are in the Facebook group, how do you get to the News and Events page or vice versa? Easy!

From the Facebook group to the News and Events page: Look at the right-hand side of the group page and you will see a white rectangle that says "St. Louis Genealogical Society N . . ." It's actually a link to the other page. Try it!

From the News and Events page to the Facebook group: Find the News and Events page at https://www.facebook.com/stlgs.newsandevents. If you want to go directly from there to the group, again look on the right-hand side of the page. You will see a blue button that says "Visit group." Click it and you will go to the group page.


Searching in the Facebook group: Did you know you could search for older posts in the Facebook group? Again, look at the side of the page, this time on the left. See the search box? Just pop in a keyword and it will find the messages in which that word appears. It's a simple way to search for popular topics like orphanages or cemeteries!

We look forward to seeing you on Facebook! And don't forget we're on Twitter, too. Follow us there at @StLGS or go to https://twitter.com/StLGS.

09 September 2019

Researching Marriages in Jackson Co., Missouri, Just Got Easier!

(Thanks to society treasurer, Viki Fagyal, for alerting us to this website.)

Jackson County, Missouri, Recorder of Deeds Office Marriage Records Online

Do you have Kansas City or Jackson County, Missouri, ancestors? The Recorder of Deeds office in Jackson County has digitized all marriage licenses and applications from the county's beginning in 1826. You can view and print copies free of charge! Go to the Web Access page to begin your search.

As with many search engines, less is more on this site. Unless you are searching for a very common surname, try just typing in either the groom's or the bride's surname and let the search bring up all of the people with that name. You never know what you might find. If your surname is too common to do that, then begin to narrow down by date. In the following screen capture, you can see a simple search for Haycraft and the result of just one marriage. The first field in the search result is "Image" and under it, you will see it says "View." Clicking on that link will bring up a digitized copy of the marriage license and the application.

Even better, though, is clicking on the next link, the string of numbers, under "Book/Page." As you can see in the screen capture below, this link will give you a column on the left with certificate number and other information that might be on the documents.

While you are on the website, take a look at the tab called "Official Public Records." Let your mouse hover over the tab and you will see lists for grantees and grantors as well as a subdivision list and a real estate index. Of most use to genealogists, of course, are the grantee and grantor lists, but be aware that these are fairly recent, from 1962 to the present. For earlier records, you will have to look at microfilm at the Recorder of Deeds office. Another road trip, perhaps?

02 September 2019

September Genealogy Meetings and Events

September StLGS Monthly Meeting

Saturday, 14 September 2019—10:00 a.m.
"Preserving Home Movies and Family Photographs," by Ellen Mays, St. Louis County Library Headquarters Auditorium, free and open to all, no pre-registration needed
More information on the StLGS website.

German Special Interest Group (SIG) Meeting 
Wednesday, 18 September 2019—7:00 p.m.
"Using Deutsches Geschlechterbuch and Deutesche FamilienArchiv," by Scott Holl; St. Louis County Library Headquarters Auditorium, free and open to all, no pre-registration needed.
 More information on the German SIG page on the StLGS website.

Other Upcoming Classes/Meetings

StLGS Classes 

  • All classes are free to StLGS members; there is a fee for non-members. 
  • Classes are held at the StLGS office and begin at 1:00 p.m. 
  • Pre-registration required at 314-647-8547

Saturday, 21 September 2019
"Beyond Parish Records: Other Useful German Records at the Family History Library,"
by Carol Whitton, CG

Saturday, 28 September 2019
"Using Technology in Genealogy Research," by Cathy Amen

Saturday, 5 October 2019
"Beginning Irish Research," by Carol Hemmersmeier and Kay Weber

View the entire summer/fall 2019 genealogy class schedule here.

St. Louis County Library Classes
Numerous classes at all branches in September. More on the library website.  
Click on the September calendar and scroll down the page.

Carondelet Historical Society Meeting
Sunday, 15 September 2019—1:30 p.m.
Discussion of the historic photograph collection of Dr. William Swekosky by Andy Hahn, 6303 Michigan Avenue, St. Louis, free and open to all, no pre-registration needed.
More information on the group's website.

Czech Genealogical Researchers Monthly Meeting
Saturday, 14 September 2019—1:30 p.m.
"Czech Research Time," open research time with volunteers on hand to provide assistance, St. Louis County Library Headquarters History and Genealogy Department, free and open to all, no pre-registration needed.
More information on the group's website.

Maplewood Public Library Special Meeting
Thursday, 19 September 2019—6:30 p.m.
"Maplewood Through the Years," by Doug Houser; join Maplewood's resident historian as he speaks about the history of this dynamic city. Maplewood Public Library, 7550 Lohmeyer Ave., Maplewood, Mo. 63143, free and open to all, no pre-registration needed.
More information about the library on its website.

26 August 2019

StLGS Genealogy News Roundup

We've got several items to share with you, both on a national and local level. First, this past week at the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) annual conference in Washington, D.C., a major announcement: FGS and the National Genealogical Society (NGS) are merging! They will combine into one bigger and better National Genealogical Society, a move which is now underway and will be ongoing through 2020.

The two groups have followed slightly different paths, as one focused on assisting societies and the other on helping individuals, but they have long had the same goals: ongoing education, preserving records, and working to support excellence in genealogical standards. Now, instead of competing to get speakers and to develop programs, the two groups will work together, supporting both local societies and family historians across the globe.

Each group already has an annual conference scheduled for next year, and those conferences will still take place. NGS is holding its conference in Salt Lake City in May and FGS will meet in Kansas City, Missouri, in September. By 2021, the merger will be complete and the newly reformulated NGS will hold a conference in Richmond, Virginia.

As a society that has been actively involved with both FGS and NGS, we are excited to learn about this merger and look forward to a bright future for the organization.
Locally, we have been busy on Facebook, creating a new page for news and events. Our Facebook group continues to grow, with more than 2,500 members and is a wonderful way for people to ask questions, get help, share photos, and connect with others. However, we have long wanted a place just to post meetings, classes, and special events. In the group, whenever anyone posts anything, everything that came before slides down and it's hard to keep important items at the top where people can see them. On our new Facebook page, we can make announcements and keep information current and visible. You will always be able to see what is happening in the society by looking at that page. Find us now in our group AND on our news and events page.

Currently Available in the StLGS Trading Post

StLGS maintains a used book area in our office lobby that we call the Trading Post. We accept donations of books and a limited number of unique genealogy journals and software. We currently have the following available:
  • The Connecticut Nutmegger, from 1980–2019, published by the Connecticut Society of Genealogists
  • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, from 1964–2018, published quarterly by the NEHG
  • The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, 1918, 1963, 1994–1999, and 2012–2015, published quarterly by the NYGB Society
These journals contain family histories and articles focusing on solving genealogical problems. While they last, they are just ten cents per journal! Stop by or call the office (314-647-8547) if you are interested. (NOTE: Postage is extra, if journals are mailed.)

In Memoriam: Kent Wilton

We are sad to report that former board member and newsletter editor, Kent Wilton, passed away on 15 August 2019. Kent served as News 'n Notes editor early in the 2000s, when the position was elected, and, as such, it placed him on the board of directors. Kent was a graduate of DePauw University and of Washington University. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and earned a Bronze Star and other honors. He was a systems engineer for IBM and worked in sales for Lexmark.

Kent had a great sense of humor and was easy to work with. After he left StLGS, he joined a company selling fine wines, and he was always eager to share information about the treasures he found. We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Marilyn, to his son Gregory and his family, and to Kent's brother, Doug.

19 August 2019

Replacing Military Records Lost in the NPRC Fire in 1973

Friday the 13th of July was an extremely unlucky day for the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) on Page Avenue in St. Louis County. On Thursday evening, a fire broke out just after midnight, and within hours, a good part of the sixth floor was blazing. Throughout the next day, the fire appeared to be under control, but by that night, it actually had spread to parts of the fourth and fifth floors. Unfortunately, the building had no fire walls and no sprinkler system on the upper floors. With millions of paper military records inside to feed the fire, it took the whole weekend to fully extinguish the flames, which covered the mid-county area with billows of dark smoke and were visible for miles.

The sixth floor had contained twentieth-century military records of Army and Air Force personnel: about five million World War I service records, nine million World War II records, and an additional six million records from the wars in Korea and Vietnam War. Some Air Force records were stored elsewhere in the building, so they were spared.

But what if you have copies of some of those records? Is there any way you can help supplement what is left or help rebuild a ruined file? Nancy Schuster from the National Archives-St. Louis offers the following guidelines to those who may have copies of military records that might replace what was destroyed.
  • NARA-St. Louis will accept photocopies of papers but NOT original documents. 
  • NARA will NOT accept photographs or anything other than paper. 
  • They are NOT equipped to handle digital copies nor will they take medals or other memorabilia.
Nancy says that "photocopies will be stamped 'Received from an unofficial source' and they will be kept on file to be viewed by future researchers. These documents, however, will NOT be used to verify service for any official government purpose, such as determining eligibility for veterans' benefits."

If you have copies of discharge papers, certificates, or any other relevant papers for your veteran that you would like to donate, you can mail your copies to:
The National Archives-St. Louis
Attn: Military Documents
PO Box 38757
St. Louis, MO 63138

If you have further questions, you can contact NARA-St. Louis at stl.archives@nara.gov

You can check out the genealogy page of their website here.

More information about the fire? An interesting article is available here.

12 August 2019

A Great Tool for Placing Your Ancestors in History

Names, dates, and places are seldom interesting by themselves. To bring our ancestors to life, we need to know what was happening in the world around them. A little-known website that has been around for many years offers an easy and fun way to get historical context about your ancestors into your genealogy research. The site is called dMarie Time Capsule and you can find it here.

Unlike many websites, this one has few bells and whistles. In fact, it looks rather plain and sparse. However, it is filled with thousands of bits of historical trivia that will bring a special date to life in seconds. Type in a date and discover what was happening in the world at that time. Starting with the year 1800, you can find news headlines, presidents, and people born on a particular day. After 1880, you can also find top songs and prices for goods. After 1900, you can add books and toys, and after 1948, television shows. The last year for which there is data is 2002.

Begin by typing a date in the blue rectangle and then decide whether you want the computer to generate a page for you (Quick Page) or whether you want to customize your own (Advanced Page). The latter allows you to add personal touches, such as family events, and pick and choose among a list provided. If you choose to customize your page, you will be guided sequentially through the list of headlines, birthdays, songs, TV shows, top new toys, and popular books so you can personalize each category.

Here is a Quick Page generated for 13 August 1950, when, as you can see, stamps were three cents each and many of us were watching the Ed Sullivan Show while humming "Mona Lisa," by Nat King Cole, and playing "Clue," a hot new toy of that year.

A button above the title (not pictured) gives you a printable version that you can print from the screen or copy/paste into another file by taking a screen shot. There is also an option for starting over, in case you want to do more than one.

Have fun while you bring your family to life!

04 August 2019

Understanding Obsolete Occupations

Did you have an ancestor who was a milliner? You probably know that was a hat maker. And if you have been doing genealogy for a while, you undoubtedly have come across coopers (barrel makers), fletchers (arrow makers), or fishmongers (fish sellers). As you examine pages of the U.S. federal census for early years or read through old county histories, perhaps you have come upon more confusing occupations, such as a catchpole or a huckster, a webster or a peruker, and wondered just what those folks were doing.

A few years ago, the London (England) Genealogical Society published an intriguing list of occupations from the 1881 British census that included, among others, "colourist of artificial fish," "examiner of underclothing," and "turnip shepherd," the latter still not fully understood!

It does help to have a few resources at your fingertips for making sense of some of the unusual terms for the jobs our ancestors held. Here are a few websites that might be useful:

 Olive Tree Genealogy: Obsolete Occupations in Genealogy
(Be sure to scroll down to mid-page for the actual information on this page. And click on the related links under the title for more.)

"75 Names of Unusual or Obsolete Occupations" by Mark Nichol

Dictionary of Old Occupations
(This is a British website that includes more than 2,000 old occupations listed alphabetically. If you prefer to have an offline resource, you can purchase a copy as a digital ebook for Kindle for $4.)

"Deciphering Codes Appended to 1910 to 1950 Census in One Step" by Stephen Morse, Joel Weintraub, and David Kehs
(If you come upon an occupation in the U.S. census and aren't sure what it means, find the code that was added to the census page. Then, just click on the appropriate link on this web page. On the page that follows, use the little up and down arrows to enter the code numbers, and the rectangles will fill in with the possible jobs in that category.)

 Perhaps you would prefer to read about what jobs were available in 1837? Check out the Panorama of Professions and Trades by Edward Hazen which you can read online or download as a PDF at the Hathi Trust: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433089737872&view=1up&seq=5

By the way, a catchpole was an official pursuing those with overdue debts; a huckster, before it took on the meaning of a con artist, was simply a peddler; a webster was a weaver, and a peruker was a wig maker in the 17th and 18th centuries when men wore perukes, wigs with long hair on the sides and back.