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.