All posts by syllib

Need Something To Do? Help Index the 1940 US Census

Do you have some spare time this summer? Do you want to be involved with a worthwhile, interesting project? You can do this at your own pace, on your personal schedule, right from home!

I am talking about being a volunteer indexer for the 1940 US Census. You might have heard that the census was released in April after the legal wait of 72 years. But when it was first released, you could search the records only if you knew the address of the person. There was no name index. So the call went out for volunteers to compile a name index.

I gulped and figured I would give indexing a try. It is not hard at all!  The tutorials are plentiful and straightforward and there is additional help through email or phone. First you have to download some software and then you can choose the state you want to index. I have been doing Ohio since that is where most of my family lived. Each batch is only 40 names and it does not take long. That is if you stick to the simple task of indexing. But I get curious and look at the relationships, the occupations and even salaries. I imagine the person interviewed smiling in pride as he or she discusses the new baby or detailing where the family lived five years ago. And I wonder if the Great Depression played a role in the family’s lifestyle or marriage plans.

Go ahead and try it out! If you are not yet interested in genealogy, this might be the introduction you have been waiting for.

– posted by Brenda, Reference Services

Attention horse racing fans!

When I’ll Have Another (pictured) suffered a tendon injury and was pulled from the Belmont Stakes, hopes for a Triple Crown winner were dashed.  Great excitement had been building up when I’ll Have Another won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness: this could be the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years. But racing fans were not completely disappointed in the 144th Belmont Stakes. Union Rags, the seventh place finisher at the Kentucky Derby edged out Paynter at the finish line.

If you need some more racing excitement, consider borrowing some of these books –

For fictional coverage of the sport there are the books by the engaging storyteller and former jockey, Dick Francis or the Fern Michael’s series, Kentucky, which details the life of Nealy Coleman as she builds her Blue Diamond Farm.

And if a film about horse racing would be to your liking, don’t forget Seabiscuit in the media collection.

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services

Women’s History Month

You’ve probably heard of Abigail Adams, Joan of Arc, and Clara Barton but what about Margaret Bayard Smith, Beatrice of Sicily and Varina Howell Davis?*

There is a book display on the library’s third floor celebrating Women’s History Month. Not all of the books deal with women who are well known. Some were powerful and influential in their communities but others were not.  Many of them never made the history books. Marjorie and Ben Lightman’s Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Greek and Roman Women takes you back to ancient history. Look at the wonderful pictures of pioneer women in Women of the West by Cathy Luchetti. Another collection of stories about the lives and role of American women is Donna Lucey’s I Dwell in Possibility: Women Build a Nation 1600-1920 and Gail CollinsAmerica’s Women looks at the ordinary lives of ordinary women who immigrated here as early settlers, fought for suffrage,  participated in the civil rights movement and joined  the feminist revolution .  If you like American history and politics read Cokie Roberts’ Founding Mothers and Bonnie Angelo’s First Mothers.   Joan Druett’s Hen Frigate introduces women who sailed with their sea captain husbands. Elizabeth Leonard’s All the Daring of the Soldier profiles some of the brave women who were spies or who disguised themselves as men so they could fight in the Civil War. Some American women made their mark overseas; for example, the three Jerome sisters married into British aristocracy (Elisabeth Kehoe’s The Titled Americans).

*Do you want some information about the women mentioned in the first paragraph? Margaret Bayard Smith (left) was a well known hostess and writer in the early days of Washington DC; she commented on Presidents from Jefferson to Madison to Jackson (Catherine Allgor’s Parlor Politics). Beatrice of Sicily (center) and her sisters were all Queen Consorts in the 13th century– Marguerite in France, Eleanor of England and Sanchia of the Romans. I read about their lives and accomplishments in Nancy Goldstone’s Four Queens (on my Kindle!). The life of Varina Howell Davis (right), the granddaughter of the revolutionary war governor of New Jersey and the wife of the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, is detailed in Carol Berkin’s Civil War Wives.

– posted by Brenda, Reference Services

African American History Month

February is African American History Month.  During these days of the celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, there is much talk about the issue of slavery as a cause of the conflict. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a best seller when it was published in installments from 1851-1852, fueled the debate about abolition and slavery. The library has a good selection of books about the experience of slavery. Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk about Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Emancipation edited by Ira Berlin gathers first person accounts.  John Hope Franklin’s From Slavery to Freedom traces the institution in the English colonies and then the United States; he details the way of life of the enslaved people and their struggle for freedom.

The Library of Congress has a remarkable online collection of interviews with slaves who were born between 1823 and the early 1860s.  The audio files on “Voices from the Days of Slavery”  are supplemented by biographies of each person.

If you missed or forgot these two television productions, now might be a good time to check them out. Ken Burns’ PBS production, Civil War, discusses the impact of slavery on the north as well as the south. Alex Haley’s Roots follows the story of his ancestor Kunta Kinte as he was sold into slavery and his and his family’s struggle for freedom. The Underground Railroad follows the route slaves took as they tried to escape to the north.

 Kaolyn Smardz Frost’s book, I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad, recounts the inspiring tale of Lucie and Thornton Blackburn who were aided by the African American community and managed to escape to Toronto. Another book which delves into the Underground Railroad is Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad by Ann Hagedorn.

– posted by Brenda, Reference Services