Thursday, December 13, 2012

Blog Caroling 2013

Well, footnoteMaven says it's time for blog caroling. Never having done that before, I hope I'm doing it correctly.

My favorite carol is O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles for you Latin buffs), probably because our family had this plastic church with a built-in music box (like this photo on ebay) that played that song. We kids wore that music box out, but the church still is stored in the garage. Dad never threw anything out.

I'm posting only the first verse because that's about all I can get through before I burst into tears. Same thing happens if someone sings O Holy Night or Silent Night. I don't know why those songs touch me because I'm not at all religious, but if I start to hear them, get ready for the waterworks.

     O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
     O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
     Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;
     O come, let us adore Him,
     O come, let us adore Him,
     O come, let us adore Him,
     Christ the Lord.
The second verse is one I've never heard of, but is similar to the Nicene Creed. Apparently I've been singing it wrong for decades — I've always gone directly from the first verse to the third ("Sing, choirs of angels..."). Who knew?

I try to do stuff like harmonize with Silver Bells when it's played on the radio, but I'm a lousy singer. I consider Silver Bells a Christmas song, but not a Christmas CAROL. (Do you differentiate between carols and songs?)

Most modern holiday songs don't do anything for me. I hear Santa Baby, no matter the singer, and I want to spew fruitcake. My ex knew all the words to all the songs in that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer video from the 1960s. Silver and Gold by Burl Ives was his favorite. Until then I'd maybe seen it once. 

My previous post explains how Bing's album with Mele Kalikimaka was just about the only Christmas album my uncle and aunt had. It reminds me of all the great times our family had each Christmas Eve. 

White Christmas makes me cry too, but I don't relate to that movie; I love Holiday Inn, the first movie in which White Christmas was featured. Except for the very un-PC part with the minstrel scene. Oh my. (No, I'm not going to post a link. You can find it on your own, if you're so inclined.)

Just thinking of all these make me flash back to Jimmy Osmond's If Santa Were My Daddy. Yikes! 

Speaking of Jimmy...

I do like listening to Jim Brickman's holiday music. About 14 years ago, when I worked for a newspaper, I was lucky enough to do a phone interview with Jim to promote his upcoming holiday concert in Chicago. I also did a phone interview with his special musical guest that year, Donny Osmond.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Answers to the Christmas Geneameme

Randy Seaver challenged us to participate in a Christmas genea-meme posted by Cassmob in the blog, Family History Across the Seas, in which she asked questions relating to how we spend Christmas. Here are my answers. Like Randy, I put the questions in green, and my responses in red.

1.          Do you have any special Xmas traditions in your family?  Not any longer. When I was small, we’d go to my maternal grandparents’ house. (Grandma was born on Christmas Eve; Grandpa on Christmas Day.) Grandpa and my uncles would spend the entire day playing pinochle at the kitchen table, except when Grandma made them stop because we needed the table for dinner. Uncle Ed K. (one of 3 Uncle Eds that I had) would film the festivities. He always brought his 8 mm. movie camera. I wish I could see those films; I don’t know if they still exist. On my paternal side, we usually went to my Uncle Ed Herrick's house for Christmas Eve. That was always fun, with a lot of food and laughter and family. (See #5 below.) After my uncle died, one of his daughters started doing it. This year will be tough because my aunt died just a few weeks ago.
2.          Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Xmas Day?  No; I'm not religious.
3.          Did/do you or your children/grandchildren believe in Santa?  I did when I was young. Once my mom went out for the evening. Wouldn’t you know it, Santa visited just 15 minutes later! ;) I don't have kids, so I don't have to worry about spoiling the magic.
4.          Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood?  No.
5.          What’s your favourite Christmas music?  Traditional hymns. I don’t like the more modern songs. Now, if you’d ask which song was most memorable, I’d say Bing Crosby singing “Mele Kalikimaka.” That album was about the only Christmas album my uncle and aunt had, so we heard it a LOT.
6.          What’s your favourite Christmas carol? O Come All Ye Faithful. Or Silent Night. Or O Holy Night. I hate to sing Christmas carols - they always make me cry, and I can’t get through the song.
7.          Do you have a special Xmas movie/book you like to watch/read?  I like to watch The Bishop’s Wife (the original, with Cary Grant and Loretta Young… not the Whitney Houston remake.) Sometimes I’d watch It’s a Wonderful Life and I'd yell at the screen, “George Bailey is such a WIMP. He should stop putting aside his wishes and do whatever the heck he wants!” I work in Hammond, Ind., the boyhood home of Jean Shepherd, whose A Christmas Story is kind of autobiographical. I watched the film once and (shhh... it may be heresy, but...) I don’t find it funny at all. I just don't get it.
8.          Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for littlies only, Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)?  I give gifts to my nieces and nephew. Mostly gift cards.
9.          Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away?  Always indoors. I’m single with no kids, so if other family members are hosting dinner on Christmas, I may attend. The older I get, the more I dislike big noisy gatherings, so sometimes I just veg out at home with take-out and a bottle of wine. When my siblings and their families and I get together to celebrate Christmas, it’s never ON Christmas; it’s whenever they don’t have another holiday family commitment. It could be Christmas Eve; it could be New Year’s Day.
10.      What do you eat as your main course for the Christmas meal? For this year’s “family” Christmas, we’re having pizza. We’ll have a few desserts. Low-key is our motto. I really, really hate to cook, and my siblings don’t have the time or energy.
11.      Do you have a special recipe you use for Xmas?  No.
12.      Does Christmas pudding feature on the Xmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited?  We've never had Christmas pudding.
13.      Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they?  My sister-in-law usually makes pizelles. There are some appetizers that I know I'll have at my cousin's house this year.
14.      Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas?  No.
15.      Do you return to your family for Xmas or vice versa?  One of my siblings usually hosts the family Christmas (which, as I mentioned, is never on Christmas).
16.      Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ?  Yes, we now make use of gift cards and the Internet. Plus our parents, grandparents and aunts/uncles are all gone, so we don't get together for a dinner like we used to.
17.      How do you celebrate Xmas with your friends? Lunch? Pre-Xmas outings? Drop-ins?  No. Sometimes I’ll go to a business-related function, but that’s it.
18.      Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot?  No. I have two small lit trees inside, but nothing outside
19.      Is your neighbourhood a “Xmas lights” tour venue?  No, but I know of a few.
20.      Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight singalongs/concerts? Where?  No, we never have.
21.      Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)?  No.
22.      Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue?  Usually at home.
23.      Do you have snow for Christmas where you live?  I live in the American Midwest. Sometimes there is snow; sometimes not. Last year we didn’t (it was a VERY mild winter. I love those!).
24.      Do you have a Christmas tree every year?  Yes, a small one.
25.      Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted/harvested) or an imitation?  Imitation. We had live trees when we were little, until Dad bought one of the early artificial trees in the mid-1960s. It’s still in storage in the garage. It wasn’t one of those silver aluminum trees like my maternal grandparents had, with the turntable and that revolving light wheel. Ours was green and the branches' "needles" look like green cellophane.
26.      Do you have special Xmas tree decorations?  I made a bunch of decorations over the years but I’m throwing those out. There are a few old ornaments from the trees of my childhood that I'm temporarily borrowing, and two photo ornaments of a dog I used to have.  
27.      Which is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving?  As a religious event, neither. As far as the number of family obligations, Thanksgiving for my family means fewer people to visit, no presents to buy, and much less stress. But I imagine they would say Christmas is more important.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Illness, injury, affliction: have you found them in your lines?

OK, it's been two months since my last post. I knew I named it "Round Tuit" for a reason! Since then, I attended Midwestern Roots 2012, a conference sponsored by the Indiana Historical Society (great work, Margaret Bierlein and crew!). A few projects for work had to be completed, and I've been helping research soldiers for the South Shore Civil War Trail project.

I also had surgery for a foot fracture, so a big walking boot is on my left foot, and the shoe is on the other. This blog, and a random Facebook post, are about the only places where I mentioned this surgery. What sort of events, illnesses, or accidents happened in your ancestors' lives that you never knew about?

I was reading the Summer issue of Four Score and Seven, a publication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. An article by James M. Cornelius, Lincoln Curator at ALPLM, is titled, "Provenance and the Pursuit of the 'Mysteries of Ownership and Authenticity'." It mentioned new finds about Lincoln artifacts and interpretations. In a 1851 printed endorsement for a Peoria doctor who fixed children's crossed eyes, Abraham Lincoln's name is one of a list of "references." Cornelius says that Robert Lincoln's crossed left eye was fixed somehow, and that he went blind in that eye later in life, but finding Lincoln's name on the endorsement does not prove that Robert had surgery by that doctor. (I never knew about Robert Lincoln's eye, but I was familiar with the condition because years ago, I worked for a doctor who surgically straightened crossed eyes.)

Have you ever seen early photos of Helen Keller with her teacher, Annie Sullivan? Annie and Helen appear to be clasping hands, but unless you knew Helen's story, and that Helen used her fingers to spell words into Annie's palm, you'd likely miss the significance. If you're lucky enough to have photos of your ancestors, have you ever noticed that great-great-grandpa is missing some fingers, that great-aunt Josie's left eye looks cloudy, or that an ancestor is sitting in a wheelchair, or using a cane?

While traveling through Illinois, I've had occasion to go through the village of Dwight, home of the original Keeley Institute, a commercial medical facility that offered treatment to alcoholics. I've read that, in the day, if someone were offered an alcoholic beverage, a reply might be, "No thanks; I've been to Dwight" or "I've taken the cure." Are there any family letters, diaries, or newspaper accounts that might document an illness, affliction, or injury to your ancestor?

In tracing a family through the census, do you assume that a child present in 1870, but not in 1880, had died? Maybe that child attended a school for the deaf, or was residing in some other facility. If you found your uncle in Chicago, and your aunt in Arizona, do you assume they divorced, or might she have been in a warmer climate for health reasons, such as tuberculosis?
Have you checked all those columns to the right of your ancestors' names? Many of our ancestors could not read or write, but a red flag should go up if a child could not read or write, yet the parents and siblings could. Some censuses asked whether the person was deaf, dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic. Remember to view such information through your ancestors' eyes, as well as through present-day filters. Afflictions that required institutionalization years ago may today be managed through medication or treatment. I think of Landon, one of my collateral ancestors who lived at home most of his life. Apparently he was a resident of the county home on occasion. His niece recounted how the staff at the home would have to take his shoes away, because he kept running off.

A friend asked for assistance for someone whose ancestor was found dead on some railroad tracks. The family suspects that the ancestor may have been the victim of foul play. I didn't find any newspaper accounts online but perhaps those issues just aren't online yet. I did find that person in a coroner's inquest database. Those records may contain information of interest to the family. (In another "Round Tuit" moment, I never have gotten around to requesting the inquest records for my great-grandmother, who died a few weeks after having been struck by a car. This would be useful, as I have very little information about her. Definitely a case of "do as I say, not as I do.")



Monday, May 28, 2012

New Civil War Trail is unveiled in Northwest Indiana

Wow, it's been a month since my last post. Not unexpected, for me. I spent a week at NGS and had an informative, enjoyable, exhausting time!

It's the end of the Memorial Day weekend. After a lovely picnic at my cousin's house (where some genealogy-related items changed hands), I spent today at Maplewood Cemetery in Crown Point, IN, where the local American Legion and VFW were conducting a joint ceremony. Afterward, Marc Chase from The Northwest Indiana Times led a ceremony to dedicate the new South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail. Chase has been spearheading efforts to replace worn headstones of some of the Calumet Region's Civil War soldiers.

While Indiana's Civil War soldiers are remembered in Indianapolis, and in small towns and counties all over the state, I think we in the urban industrial areas of Northwest Indiana have forgotten that a number of residents were involved in the War Between the States. Most of our Civil War-era buildings are gone, except for the Lake County Courthouse, and the GAR-built Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso.

Government-issued headstones exist for some Civil War veterans, although many, many more have private stones that do not address their service. It sounds as though a concerted effort is being made to identify these veterans. 

This project dovetails with efforts to restore Hammond, Indiana's Oak Hill Cemetery, the final resting place of many Civil War veterans. (Oak Hill is, for all practical purposes, abandoned, with no perpetual care funds and thousands owed in back taxes). Volunteer efforts (especially by Kara Graper) put Oak Hill on the radar of local media and the North Township Trustee's Office (NTTO). Thanks to volunteers, the NTTO and the Diocese of Gary, Oak Hill is looking better than it has in many, many years. Hundreds of photos have been uploaded to FindAGrave. Many stones have been uncovered that do not appear in two different cemetery readings done in the past 20 years (one by South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society in Illinois; the other by the Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society). A troop of Cadette Girl Scouts is creating a database from the cemetery's burial cards to assist the NTTO in determining who is buried there.

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War has a list of hundreds of GAR posts in Indiana at According to that list, GAR posts in Lake County were:
  • Crown Point (John Wheeler Post 161) 
  • Gary (William A. Ketcham Post 593) 
  • Hammond (Lott Bloomfield Post 145; William H. Calkins Post 502; and Robert Heath Post 544) 
  • Hobart (Hobart Post 411)  
  • Lowell (Burnham Post 276)

    Those in Porter Co. included:
  • Chesterton (A. B. Wade Post 208) 
  • Hebron (Walters Post 229) 
  • Valparaiso (Chaplain Brown Post 106).
Many veterans' names will be found in Indiana Civil War Veterans: Transcription of the Death Rolls of the Department of Indiana, Grand Army of the Republic, 1882-1948 by Dennis Northcott (2005) (ISBN 0-9728344-1-9, soft cover, 416 pages). Northcutt has done a similar publication for Illinois, and another covering Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. Details are at

I cannot help but think back a few weeks to a genealogy class I did for South Suburban, on the use of directories. My admonishment was one I learned years before: check the entire book, including the prefatory material! A Valparaiso, Indiana directory entry for J. S. Louderback mentioned his store and goods. If one merely looked alphabetically, one would have missed a page near the beginning of the book on which is found a biography of Louderback, including his Civil War service, capture by Confederate troops, and imprisonment at the infamous Andersonville camp.

The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority is assisting with the Civil War Trail, providing space on its website:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Old dogs can learn new tricks.

I'm looking forward to seeing old friends at the Indiana Genealogical Society's annual conference in Ft. Wayne. Looking forward to NGS also, and Midwestern Roots. Why? There is always something to learn, someone new to meet, someone with whom to reconnect. Believe me, in genealogy, if you snooze, you lose. Been there, done that, have the T-shirt (well, no, but I did get 2 cool T-shirts at FGS last year — one from FamilySearch, and one from Fold3).

Where was I? Oh yes - snoozing/losing. Next week I'm giving a class at my home society on using directories and using newspapers. Both are talks I've done before, locally and nationally. The last time was back in 2006. Then life happened and — oops! Genealogy happened, too. It's not that my old handouts were obsolete as much as they needed to be revamped to add SO much new information. This is not your grandmother's genealogy, I've heard it said. It's true. Just a few years off the grid, and I felt lost.

I stuck a toe back in the water in — 2008, I think it was, when Megan Smolenyak started her Unclaimed Persons group on Facebook. Whoooaa! What the heck is social media, and how did I get here? FB was definitely something I didn't think I could learn.

Blogging? Heck, I didn't even write in my journal consistently. But while I was gone, some new faces appeared on the scene. Thomas MacEntee was one of them, he of the "learn to create a blog in 5 minutes" fame. He created GeneaBloggers, a group of people who looked as though they were having a blast. I felt like a kid looking through the window of the candy store.

Lots of other Young Turks came to town when I wasn't looking. People like Josh Taylor, who I had the pleasure of working with (along with Thomas, Julie Cahill Tarr, Paula Stuart Warren, Pat Oxley, Susie Pope, David Kent Coy and all the rest of the wonderfully talented FGS 2011 Conference Committee).  People like Elyse Doerflinger, whom I met briefly at my first Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in 2011. People like Nick Gombash, creator of Hungary Exchange (whom I've not yet met, even though we're in the same neck of the woods). People like Tina Lyons, vice president of the Indiana Genealogical Society and author of the blog Gen Wish List. As editor of the IGS Newsletter, I've had the pleasure of seeing Tina bring many new ideas to the table. There are others, but it's late and I can't think of them all right now.

I'm still involved with Unclaimed Persons, but now we do our work in a forum. I'm lucky to know the giving, talented people that serve as directors and case administrators, bringing closure to families whose loved ones have passed. Blogging? It took me a few years to get a round tuit (uh, remember the title of this blog?), but I wanted to get in on that fun. And it is fun, even though I don't blog consistently. Facebook? I'm on most days of the week. Twitter? I have an account but I don't tweet— I can't find time! Pinterest? Ditto.

So am I saying that I'm a dinosaur; that there is no longer room in genealogy for someone like me? Not at all. What I am saying is that I can learn from the Young Turks; that I won't just walk away from genealogy because there are new tools/toys to play with. Conferences and webinars and social media and chats help me get up to speed. 

Genealogy will continue, whether I (or you) am involved or not. 
And you know what? It's in good hands.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

1940 census What can you find in the 1940 U. S. Census?
Look at this cool infographic from the National Archives for step-by-step directions. The census release is Monday, April 2.

Who will you find?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Census Goal: Discovering Donnellys

Twelve days and counting until the 1940 U.S. Census. Dad spoke of many of his Iowa relatives, and I'll get a chance to find them. I want to see Dad's grandmother, Margaret Donnelly Herrick McCabe. In 1940 great-grandma would be in Chicago, where she operated a rooming house (no, Jana Sloan Broglin, not the kind your Aunt Merle had!). Dad said that when Margaret first came to Chicago, she was a lady barber, and her shop was across the street from the Coliseum at 12th and Michigan. I believe the Coliseum was made from the original Libby Prison, the famous Civil War prison.

I want to find Margaret's sister, Katherine Donnelly Morgan. Just a few months ago, I found that Dad's Aunt Kate had gone back to Ohio and is buried near her son, Grant. Is Kate enumerated in 1940 in Chicago with Louis Henderson? Dad always called him "Uncle Louie,"
but it was years before Dad's mother told him that Kate and Louis were not married. I believe he and Kate are listed as Henderson in 1930. Stories are running together in my mind. Was Aunt Kate the one who ate her dessert first? Or was she the one who drove all the way to Ohio without knowing how to back up?

I want to find out more about Aunt Mary Liz Donnelly Bishop. She apparently was the sister of Katherine and Margaret, but I've never found enough to locate her beyond a doubt. Or at least to differentiate her from other Marys. Dad said she was in Iowa as well.

The Donnelly boys intrigue me also. Dad said his grandmother had at least three brothers: Eddie, Matt and Jim; also possibly a John and a Tom. One of the boys may have been a boxer. One of them supposedly went to California and did either truck farming or acting.

Many years ago, I recall riding in a car with Dad, Uncle Bill and other relatives. I think we were out of town for a family function. When we stopped in Spring Valley, IL, Uncle Bill said that the Donnellys had lived there. I had never heard that from Dad. I wonder if they were miners.

So. The Census Goal is to find Donnellys. Genealogists are told to "start with yourself" and 1940 is as close to starting with myself as I'm likely to get, at least for another 10 years. Finding Margaret's parents will be a kick. Margaret's death certificate lists her parents as Patrick Donnelly and Katherine Kelly, while her marriage license to Robert McCabe lists her parents as Thomas Donley and Margaret Kelly. Sheesh. (Not as hard as tracing Smiths, but definitely harder than Mom's Polish side.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Where the Boys Are... NOT!

OK, I'm supposed to be blogging to build excitement for the 1940 US Census. But for the past 10 years, I've wondered where the heck my family was in 1930.

My dad, Matthew Calvin Herrick, was born in East Palestine, Columbiana County, Ohio, in 1919. He and his older brother, William, show up with their parents, Charles (enumerated as Charley) and Ida in 1920. Dad said the family moved a short distance to Leavittsburg, where younger brother, Ed, was born in 1921.

Dad said that, due to lack of work, Charles moved his family from Ohio to Illinois about 1927. His mother, Margaret McCabe (nee Donnelly) was living in Chicago, and could take them in. Margaret is in Chicago in 1930. She took in boarders, but Charles and family aren't with her. Since I didn't see them in Illinois or Ohio, I figured they were probably in Chicago under some incorrect name, or en route to visit family in another state. I tried each of the boys' names, with Charles, Char* or Ida as parents, and came up empty.

Just now, I checked Ancestry again and — there are Charles and Ida, in Leavittsburg Village, Warren Twp., Trumbull Co., Ohio. Uh-oh. Had I spaced out for 10 years? Why didn't I find them previously? And where are the boys? (Feel free to hum the theme from "Twilight Zone." Nah, I'm fairly certain they weren't beamed aboard a Mother Ship.)

I don't know if Ancestry's recent image enhancements were why I found my grandparents now. The surname Herrick is the faintest name on the entire page, and enhancing the image does make it readable. But why just my grandparents? Where are their boys?

Every genealogist knows that you can't accept at face value everything in a census. What if a neighbor answered the questions because the family wasn't home at the time? That wasn't the case here. The number of years of marriage is consistent, as are the places of birth for both Charles and Ida, as well as their parents. So I'm fairly certain that one of my grandparents answered the questions. Did the enumerator become distracted, and forget to ask about children? Were the boys away from home? Dad used to tell us how he and his brothers would go to Iowa during the summer to visit his Grandma Speed and his Speed, Stotts and Hale relatives. The census was taken in April- too early for summer vacation. Did schools have Spring Break back then?

Maybe the enumerator became confused. My grandma Ida (huh? Her middle initial was H? Dad didn't think she had a middle name!) is listed on line 90. The next family also shows another woman named Ida H., on line 92. Coincidence, or error? I may never know.

I'll feel great when I find my family in 1940. It feels good finding Charles and Ida in 1930, at long last. But I sure wish I knew where the boys are.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sisters, Sisters, There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

I recently had the pleasure of attending a musical program at a local library that featured a tribute to the music of the Andrews Sisters. The place was packed with 300 people who reminisced about America's most popular singing group during the 1940s. The names Patty, Maxene and Laverne were as popular as Snap, Crackle and Pop.

The girls from Minnesota really were sisters. On The Andrews Sisters official website is a quote from Maxene:
"The wonderful thing was that we were together 
for so many years. We dressed together, 
we slept together, we roomed together, 
we went shopping together, and of course 
we rehearsed together. We never separated.” 

The Andrews Sisters were synonymous with the 1940s, with songs like "Rum and Coca-Cola," "Apple Blossom Time," "Beer Barrel Polka," and many more. During World War II, they spoke to the separation of loved ones in songs like "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree." They were also morale boosters, and one of their biggest hits is also the one we probably know best, because it was also a hit for Bette Midler: "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."
While Laverne and Maxene are no longer with us, Patty recently celebrated her 94th birthday in California.

I plan to learn more about the 1940s by touching history, as a volunteer indexer for the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

That's AMBASSADOR Linda, to you!

I've signed up to be a 1940 Blog Ambassador, to help promote the US Census Community Project. It's being sponsored by, FamilySearch and in conjunction with society sponsors, the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG); the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS); and the National Genealogical Society (NGS).

To you non-genealogists reading this, let me explain what will happen on April 2, 2012: The National Archives will release the 1940 US Census. Each census is kept private for 72 years, so the release of a census is a Very Big Deal to those of us interested in family history. The release of THIS census in particular is an even bigger deal, because most of us know someone who was listed on it. The US Census is a snapshot of our nation at a critical time in history. We were pulling out of the Great Depression even as we were becoming embroiled in world events. Soon the nation would go to war. 

The 1940 census has more than historic significance. Today's genealogists are versed in technology. We're used to visiting websites, searching indices, and downloading tons of information. So the pairing of family historians and electronic wizardry has created a great opportunity, because the 1940 US Census will be available as free digital images. But it does not yet have an index, which means searching page by page (you can narrow it down if you know your ancestor's address in 1940). And that's where genealogists and genealogical societies come in. We have an opportunity to create that index, working together. You can help index from your own computer, tablet, etc. Talk about a grass-roots effort, this is it!

Individual genealogists, as well as genealogical societies, are mobilizing and preparing for the task at hand. It requires a simple program download — and watching a few tutorials will help — but essentially, anyone can do it, and everyone is needed. The more willing hands, the quicker the index is created and posted for everyone to use.

I've downloaded the indexing program; watched a tutorial or two; and listened to a FamilySearch staffer explain the indexing process at the 2011 FGS Conference in Springfield. But I haven't actually done any indexing yet. I'm newsletter editor for the Indiana Genealogical Society, which plans to mobilize its members to attack - er, INDEX, the state of Indiana. How about helping coordinate efforts where you live?

Although we'll have to wait until April 2 to start indexing the 1940 US Census, we can become familiar with the process by assisting in other indexing projects being undertaken by FamilySearch. You can sign up to index by visiting There is a link at the top of the page where societies can get more information on how to participate.

In future posts, I'll describe my indexing experiences; give you a sense of the United States in 1940; talk about what one can find on the 1940, and much more. It's 39 days and counting... stay tuned, and join in. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wedding Wednesday - Mystery Marolewski Photo

It's Wedding Wednesday, as suggested by Carol at Reflections From the Fence. 
There's a photo on my maternal line that confuses me. Well, actually, lots of them confuse me. Many of the photos seem to be of a wedding, and depicting the happy couple. But then another photo will depict the same couple, but wearing different wedding garb. I'm concluding that one photo is actually of the couple's wedding, while another is of the couple standing up to someone ELSE'S wedding.

Here's a photo of my maternal grandmother, Eugenia Orbik, and my maternal grandfather, Steven Marolewski. I thought, "wedding photo." Nope.

This is their wedding photo. Different boutonniere for Grandpa; different dress for Grandma. (How did they get that bow on the young girl to stand so tall?)

The men's tuxes all seem to match. The women's dresses complement each other, but do not match.

I wish I had a wedding photo for my paternal grandparents; I've never seen one.

Here we have what appears to be Eugenia's Holy Communion, although she looks pretty old for that. 

Note the large bow at the waist, and also her shoes. 

More flowers, occasion unknown. However, it appears as though Eugenia is older now. Note the same dress as in the supposed First Communion photo above, except that some of the features have been updated. The large bow is gone, and the sleeves may have been reworked. Also, she has lovely white high top boots. (This photo is on a heavier paper stock, and was torn in half when I got it.)

Next time, I'll share another photo that has me puzzled. Was it common practice for immigrants to re-stage their wedding once they arrived in the U.S.?

On a different note: Congressional hearings take place this week on the Social Security Death Index. It would be a blow if this valuable resource were inaccessible. See Occupy Genealogy on Facebook for information on what's happening with the SSDI, and how you can help.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Blog Name Speaks for Itself

Well, here it is, late January 2012. (Happy New Year, by the way.) At least I'm better blogging than journaling, where I hadn't gotten a round tuit in more than a year.

A few weeks ago, everyone was posting about their resolutions. Mine were:
  • to blog more often (believe me, this IS more often!); 
  • to eat healthier (I'm a junk food junkie who has singlehandedly been keeping fast food and vending machine franchises in business)
  • to save more money (following resolution #2 will automatically result in a successful resolution #3)
  • to get organized, and clear some clutter.
I know these are vague goals; I wrote them down for myself in much more managable bites. But that would bore you, because — let's face it, you've got your own stuff to deal with.

So. How's it going, you may ask? (Well, even if you didn't.) So far:
  • I've avoided the vending machine and drive-thru; 
  • I've actually cooked some meals for myself (to those who know me, that is almost a miracle)
  • I'm working with my financial planner on some long-range stuff
  • I've kept the kitchen sink empty and the counter cleaned up after I eat, so stuff isn't scattered all over
  • I'm eating healthier (Whoa! A refrigerator with food in it!)
  • I'm taking calcium (those little caramel chewies are DELISH!)
So what does this have to do with genealogy? Nothing at all. They say that, to make a permanent change, you have to do something for about three weeks before it becomes habit. Once I tackle these for a few weeks, I'll be "programmed" and I'll add a few more things. By next December, I should have a bunch of new behaviors, so by the law of averages, a few of them ought to be genealogy-related. 

Oh yeah, genealogy events are on the list too: NGS, some area conferences and seminars, and a planned Midwest GeneaBloggers meetup. Not this time for RT, Jamboree and FGS. Yes to a few webinars, and to my Friday night date, GeneaBloggers Radio.

I also resolved to spend less time on Facebook, and more time checking out Google circles, Pinterest and some other things. If I get a Round Tuit, that is.