27 January 2020

2020 Trivia Night Silent Auction Features Unique Art

(Thanks to StLGS VP-Programs and Trivia Night chairperson, Karen Goode, for her assistance in writing and gathering information for this week's blog post.)

St. Louis Genealogical Society’s eleventh annual Trivia Night is now just a couple weeks away, and we hope you can join us for a few hours of brain teasers and good cheer on Saturday, 7 March 2020 at the Richmond Heights Community Center. Trivia Night is fun for all of us at StLGS, and we rely on this annual event as one of our major fundraisers. It is an evening filled with friendly competition and a lot of laughs. Of course, you can learn more on the StLGS website!

One of the highlights of this special evening is our silent auction, a win-win for both you and the St. Louis Genealogical Society. The Trivia Night committee has been hard at work for the past few months gathering donations by members and friends, and we would like to whet your appetite in this week's blog by featuring some of the stunning artwork they have acquired for the auction.

"The Old Courthouse" by Frank W. Bruning (1922–2008)

This charming painting of the Old Courthouse measures approximately 27 by 23 inches and has a value of $100. It was donated by former StLGS member, Pat Thompson. The artist was a WWII veteran of the U.S. Navy and is buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

"Bridge in Benton Park" by Dorothy Marie "Dot" Everding Guise (1929–2014)

Dot Guise was a gifted artist who lived in South St. Louis most of her life and worked at the Guise Studio. She specialized in enhancing photos with oil colors. This beautiful example is 36 by 29 inches, has a value of $150, and was also donated by Pat Thompson.

Vietnamese Hand-Sewn Pictures by the Hong Ngoc Fine Art Company;
Produced in the Chan Thien My Company Workshop for Disabled People

This company was founded in 1996 by a Vietnam veteran who returned to help those who had been affected by chemical warfare. The company's goal is to provide vocational training and jobs to disabled people. These two pieces are both hand-sewn. On the right, the black and white image of a Vietnamese person on a bike measures approximately 14 by 17 inches and is worth about $100. On the left, the image of the person carrying produce is about 16 by 20 inches and is valued at $150. Both were donated by StLGS member, Diane Broniec. To see the Vietnamese artists at work creating original images and sculpture, check out their YouTube video.


 "Spectacular Spirographics" a miniature quilt by Jean Ameduri

Based on a design created by a child's spirograph toy, this machine-quilted piece is approximately 22 by 22 inches and is all cotton with a thin polyester batting. The Swarovski crystals in the center of each design make the piece hand-washable only. The quilt is a perfect wall hanging; in fact, it is thin enough to be secured on drywall with straight pins. The value of this colorful original is $250, and it was donated by its creator and StLGS member, Jean Ameduri.
(All photos by Ilene Murray, © 2020)

We have more auction items to preview in the coming weeks and hope to see all of you at Trivia Night so you can join in on the bidding!

20 January 2020

Great-Grandpa Paid $300. How Much is That Worth Today?

The deed in front of you shows that your great-grandfather bought a piece of property in 1857 for $300. Do you wish you had some way of knowing how much that was worth today? Or perhaps you are looking at the 1860 census that reveals Great-grandpa owned personal estate of $2,000 and real estate of $8,000. Was he rich or just comfortable? Luckily, there are some excellent websites that will help you answer these questions and we will look at two of them this week.

MeasuringWorth: https://www.measuringworth.com/

The MeasuringWorth foundation is a non-profit group located in Illinois and the website is used by economic historians around the world. Hence, this is not a site for those who are looking for something simple. The focus of the site is on understanding relative worth in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and Spain, and to provide comparators (devices for comparing similar objects and similar measures) for that purpose. The site stresses that "there is no one standard measure for comparing what a monetary value in the past is worth today," so it will give you multiple answers based on available data. You can go directly to a search from the links on the left of your screen, but a better idea is to begin by looking at the User Guide located under a tab in the navigation bar.

The User Guide will help you understand how the comparators work, and then you can do your search by clicking on the Relative Values links on the left or do a walk-through by clicking on the Tutorials link.

When you are ready to determine the relative current value of Great-grandpa's land, fill out the form (which only goes to 2018) as shown. You also have the choice to get a calculation based on today's Consumer Price Index (CPI) and you can see your results in a table format by clicking in the small white box. The results are sorted by relative price, relative wage or income, and relative output or project, and we learn that the land in 2018's prices would be worth between $6,500 and $8,900.

The Inflation Calculator: https://westegg.com/inflation/

A site with far fewer bells and whistles but still very helpful is The Inflation Calculator, maintained by a man called Morgan Friedman. This site uses the Consumer Price Index as well as government statistics and calculates prices from 1800 to 2019. The home screen is simply a form that asks for the amount and the years. When you have the fields filled out, click on "Submit" and get the results in just a few sentences. As you can see, that land is worth about $8,300 in this calculation. An interesting note, here, is the prices reversed at the bottom, so we discover that if Great-grandpa paid $10.62 for something in 1857, that would be worth $300 today.

Understanding that these are variable numbers is important in calculating the then/now value of money but either of these websites should help to give you perspective on your ancestors' worth.

13 January 2020

Two Must-See Websites for Online Maps

At some point, almost every genealogist realizes that geography is as much a part of researching their family as history is. Pinpointing the location of Great-Grandpa Daniel's land is dependent on county boundaries, which were ever-changing for hundreds of years. Where the family settled was often determined by proximity to a source of fresh water, or perhaps the ability to acquire land cheaply. Migration routes followed set pathways of least resistance using rivers, mountain passes, and old hunting trails carved by Native Americans. Having a source at your fingertips for looking at old maps is important, so here are two of our favorite genealogy-oriented map sites.

David Rumsey Map Collection: https://www.davidrumsey.com/

One of the best online collections of maps is available on David Rumesy's Map Collection, which provides a vast assortment of maps from all over the world. The physical collection on which the website is based is housed at the Stanford University Library. Currently, the online collection has more than 95,000 maps, ranging from the sixteenth century to the present and encompassing almost the entire globe as well as the sky and the seas. The home page has dozens of links to all parts of the collection, and that's where you will want to start your search. Scroll down to the center of the page and click on any of the small square icons to search a predetermined category.

Alternatively, you can go to the alphabetical list of maps or browse by category. To access either, use the tab called View Collection in the navigation bar at the top of the home page. Now you can narrow your search by specifics to find exactly what you might want.  The resulting search screen will show you what is available in the category in which you searched and offer you more options for narrowing down, if you need to.

The site has numerous ways to view and save maps. It also has ways to overlay old maps onto new and to utilize Google Earth and Google Maps in very creative ways. You will want to bookmark this site (or add to your favorites) so you can keep going back!

Map of US.org: https://www.mapofus.org/

Another real necessity for genealogists is the ability to see United States county boundary lines as they changed over time and, although there are many fancier county progression maps online, this website is also a treasure trove of much more. Everything about this site is simple and easy, but don't be deceived. There is an abundance of detail hidden beneath the plain fa├žade.

The home page has no bells or whistles, just a list of states and some explanation of why maps are helpful. Click on any state of interest, however, and let the fun begin. Scroll down to get the interactive map of changing county borders and click the "play" button to watch the counties form. You can hit the "stop" button at any time to read the text and view the list of dates and links to individual counties. These links take you to the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness website (where volunteers are waiting to help.
But don't stop there. Keep scrolling down on each state's page for additional resources. Some states have highway maps of each county (at press time, however, both Missouri and Illinois had non-working links on their maps) and some states have links to other websites with historical maps. There are also links to many other state maps and atlases. 

The navigation bar at the top of the page will take you to additional maps of the U.S. and to a range of historical atlases. You will have no shortage of links to explore on Map of US.org!

These are just two of our favorite online map websites that can help you locate locate your ancestors. Enjoy!