26 July 2021

Mastering Zoom, Part II: Joining a Webinar

Taking a genealogy class via Zoom is a bit different than attending a Zoom meeting. Last week, we talked about meetings and this week, we will concentrate on Zoom webinars. For directions on downloading the Zoom app and logging into a meeting or a webinar, you will want to look at last week's post before reading on.

19 July 2021

Mastering Zoom: Part One: Joining a Meeting

Probably you heard about videoconferencing long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but chances are you never really had a good reason to discover more about it, unless it was required for your job, or your family wanted to use it. Then most of us spent more than a year at home, and all of a sudden, videoconferencing became a way to connect with the world, and Zoom became the most popular way to do it.

Zoom in its basic form is free and it allows us to not just interact with our families but to continue learning more about topics we find interesting, like genealogy! Many of us now are using it on a regular basis but there may be parts of the software that we still haven’t conquered. During a series of posts, we will try to help you make your Zoom experiences more useful. We’ll start this week with some of the basics about Zoom meetings (sometimes also called videoconferences) that are helpful to know as you get started.

12 July 2021

StLGS Introduces New Genealogical Records from Webster Groves Historical Society

In our blog from 24 May 2021, we wrote about an area of our StLGS website that had helped one of our members break through a genealogical brick wall. This week, we’d like to showcase another set of records on our website that might be helpful to those of you with St. Louis ancestors, our “Neighborhoods” section. 

The first heading under the Research tab at the top of the home screen is “Community,” and there you will find a link for “Neighborhoods.” (Or go directly to the page here.) The page contains a list of helpful books and a box on the right side containing links to several St. Louis neighborhoods for which we have genealogical records. (See graphic below.) The newest entry on that list is for Webster Groves, and we are very excited to be unveiling the first of dozens of new resources for that historical community in the near southwest of St. Louis County.

A bit of background . . .

Webster Groves was not incorporated until 1896, but it was populated long before then. By the time the Civil War ended, there were enough people in Webster to sustain four churches; many inhabitants had arrived because of the growth of the Pacific Railroad, which stopped in the community. Over the years, as the city grew, many of the oldest parts were being lost, and the Webster Groves Historical Society (WGHS) incorporated in 1965, first to save the historic Hawken House and then to collect and preserve important parts of the city’s history. Over the years, WGHS amassed a huge amount of archival material that required preserving. Luckily, they learned about StLGS, through the efforts of our publicity director, Laura Mackinson, and volunteers from the two organizations began making plans to digitize and index as much of the fragile material as possible.

During the pandemic, some members of the StLGS board, led by our Projects Director Carol Whitton, met via Zoom with Shawn Greene, president of WGHS, and a few of that society’s volunteers to discuss the contents of their collection and how best to share it with members of both societies and the general public. After Laura and Carol visited the collection on site to determine where to start, the joint project began in earnest. Books of vital records, family bibles, and business ledgers were chosen for the first phase of this ongoing project. Real estate tax books, which are too large for our current scanning equipment, will have to wait. 

Webster Groves, Missouri, Historical Records

Now on our website (see below) are scanned images and indexes for lists of births and deaths, some family bibles, some business ledgers, and a Webster Groves/Kirkwood telephone book. Names in the indexes are linked to scanned register pages with valuable family information.

  • Because the state of Missouri did not require birth or death registration prior to 1910, the births and deaths from Webster Groves, dated 1903–1909, fill an important gap.
  • Genealogical information from two family bibles goes back into the 1700s for birth, marriage, and death. 
  • Business ledgers contain names, dates, and accounts, providing an interesting glimpse into the lives of Webster Groves residents in the first part of the twentieth century.
    • Ledgers from Holekamp Lumber and the White Rose Service Station might seem unimportant, but they invite speculation on whether your ancestors owned a motor vehicle or were in the process of doing some sort of construction on their homes or outbuildings. 
    • A third unidentified ledger appears to be an organization that met fairly regularly in the community and may serve as a “Who’s Who?” particularly of young adult residents during the two years (1896–1898) that it covers. 

Waiting in the wings are more family bibles, tax lists, and town water records. Once they are scanned and indexed, you will be able to use the StLGS website to access these important records as well. Working in conjunction with WGHS, StLGS is making these historical records accessible to all. There are no restrictions on who may view them on our website.

You can see in these photos that the materials are quite fragile but contain precious information.

(Photos by Ilene Murray; used with permission)

Even if you don't have Webster Groves ancestors, you might be interested in viewing these records to see the kinds of information that can be added to your ancestors' life stories.

We are grateful to WGHS for sharing the records with us. To learn more about the society, be sure to visit their website.

Do you or the neighborhood in which your ancestors lived or worked have similar records that need preserving? StLGS would be delighted to scan and index more genealogical community records and make them available on our website. Contact Projects Director, Carol Whitton, at projects@stlgs.org, if you know of similar records available for preservation.

05 July 2021

Some July 4th History and Goodbye to Another StLGS Volunteer

Because the 4th of July fell on Sunday this year, we have an extra day to enjoy all of the fun things we associate with the holiday. If you had ancestors who fought in the American Revolution, this July 4th weekend was a perfect time to think of them and remember their courage and the hardships they endured while creating our country. But, it’s also a great opportunity to reflect on the traditions and history behind this most beloved day.

28 June 2021

StLGS July Genealogy Meetings and Special Events

Summer is finally here and life is resuming more and more of its normal routine after our very challenging "Year of the Pandemic!" Be sure to get our July dates into your calendar so you will have plenty to do when it gets too hot to go outside! All of July's events are virtual. Pour yourself something cool to drink and stay comfortable in your shorts and flip flops as you watch our monthly meeting on the rich and lengthy history of St. Charles, Missouri. Move on to our two-day Speaker Series focusing on DNA testing, and then, join the Irish SIG for a casual chat session on Irish research.

21 June 2021

Juneteenth for Genealogists

How exciting it is to finally have Juneteenth declared a national holiday! Celebrating the strength and courage of our ancestors is what we genealogists are all about, and being able to recognize those who preceded us as they fought for freedom and equality is part of so many family stories. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, and it also opens the door to remembering all of our ancestors who were caught up in the system from the earliest days of the colonies, to the end of the Civil War, and then through decades of blatant discrimination that followed.

14 June 2021

Why Sources and Citations are Important in Your Family History Research

(Thanks to StLGS treasurer, Viki Fagyal, for writing this week's blog.)

Sometimes it is good to get back to the basics of Genealogy 101. I remember my first genealogy teacher saying over and over, “You have to document where you found it.” That piece of advice has stuck with me for more than forty years. Good source citation not only helps you remember where you found a piece of information, it is helps someone who picks up your work five, ten, or thirty years from now determine where that information came from. A good citation also helps to ascertain if the source you used was strong enough evidence to prove each name, date, or place. And if you have two different pieces of evidence for the same event, evaluating the source can help determine which one to trust.