Genealogy for Kids Program

Today my colleague Krishna and I hosted “Discover Your Family Story” program for children grades 3 to 6.

Participants will begin a family tree, learn how to conduct an oral history interview and learn about library resources that can help you discover your family story.

The materials took me four hours to put together. Do my research, design the program and the craft project (seen above), cut out 12 trunks and leaves and 200 nametags for the trees, and put together the handouts. The most interesting part were people texting their relatives to ask, “What were the names of your grandparents? I only knew them as Pop…”

Thought Experiment: Then & Now Maps

You know when you look at Google Street View how you can sometimes click in the upper left corner to see what the site looked like the last time the Google car came through? I want that for historical photos. After doing some research on the topic, here are some potential leads on putting that together:

  • Leaflet for open-source mobile-friendly interactive maps
  • Pinbox.js for tacking historical photos over modern day locations
  • Time Machine, a WordPress plugin, to show what posts were published on this date for another interactive layer if you connected it to articles
  • Embed content into Google Map InfoWindows
  • Google Maps Easy, a WordPress plugin, for some very interesting ways to display content

My idea is that you could add historical photos or postcards to a map location. Then the pop-up window would allow you to click through time. Originally I thought about using those image comparison options like Before-After.js, but it restricts you to only two images. I dug around for a moment to see if I could find some way to add more images, but nope.

There’s likely a more complex way to do what I’m trying to achieve, but it’s likely cost prohibitive. Putting together this system I’m envisioning using open source tools would be very time-consuming. There’s gotta be a better way. But for now, it looks like a dream I could turn into reality (if you didn’t care about copyright of those images).


While doing some research for a work project, I came across the Darien USGENWEB Project page. I noticed that the library’s address was incorrect and attempted to reach out to the coordinator listed on the bottom of the page. When her email bounced, I contacted the county level coordinator. There I learned that Ms. Steel had passed away. I was surprised to then be offered her former position. I checked with work and I, on behalf of the Library, am now the Darien Town Coordinator.

It looks like there are lots of opportunities for me to continue Ms. Steel’s work. I hope to do her honor as the site is updated.

Researching Your German Ancestors

These notes are from today’s genealogy program at work. The speaker was Joseph Lieby. Handout

I didn’t quite get as much as I’d like out of this presentation mostly because I’ve sat through a dozen or so now. I have a pretty good idea what’s going on. So my notes are less comprehensive than last time.

************ for German family
International Genealogical Index at Familysearch.
Many naturalization records are available via ancestry. Could happen at any port of entry.
1811-1820 2,617 immigrants. Famine of 1816-1817. Thanks to Java volcano.
1821-1830. 2,302
1831-1840. 7,248. July Revolution of 1830. French in origin, but disrupted business
1841-1850. 19,241. March revolution of 1848-1849. Germany was not a country yet.
1851-1860. 73,462. Consequence of 48/49 Revolution. Most southwest states in Germany were Catholic. Merchants, newspaper, bankers were being lost to Germany. These were not poor people. Came with skills, money, and business savvy
1861-1870. 31,149. American Civil War. Some because they supported the Union’s anti-slavery stance. They also wanted the US to be stable since their own country was not.
Ask your relatives now. They won’t be much help once dead.
Records from Brinne are almost non-exist. You may have to reconstruct them.
Don’t take what you read as goodie truth.
An ancestor may be physically described in passenger lists with German words
There were no ships straight to the US. Everyone had to stop in another country. Many switched ships in England.
Many people were pressured to leave the area after the revolution.
Boston was not a great entry point. Baltimore, Texas, and Philly were better.
Naturalization records: look for Declaration of Intent
Naturalization and marriage records have birthplace listed.
Can’t find info? Check the marriage records of younger children whose marriage may be in a newly founded vital records office
Check the German archives sites online
Church records. Protestant Northern around 1520. Catholics in the south after Council of Trent in 1563
Civil records 1870s
Look up book, MeyersOats. Lots of info up until 1911
Germans love abbreviations

Notes from Discovering Your Polish, Ukrainian, and Eastern European Ancestors Genealogy Program

Download the eleven pages of notes

This was a great program presented by Jonathan Shea and Matthew Bielawa. My husband’s family immigrated from Poland so the topic is close to my heart. Before the event, all I knew is that the geopolitical borders changed all the time in Eastern European over the last few centuries. Shea and Bielawa instructs that you start your Eastern European genealogy research by starting in the United States. You will need your ancestor’s original name and their home village name. As a bonus on how to track down all the records, they gave some tips for how to hang out with your newfound relatives. Hint: get used to drinking vodka.

The Civil War Soldier

If I ask my relatives, they have no idea about our ancestors who fought in wars before World War II. Fortunately, I’m a genealogist. As part of my research recently, I discovered that my third-great grandfather, Aaron Columbus Goodman, had been shot on Main Street at Orange Court House County, Virginia on August 2, 1862. According to his Civil War Confederate Pension Application, he had been shot in the leg and sustained some serious head injury. Forty years later when he sent off the application, his witness said the leg wound was still festering.

My ancestor was a 24 year old blacksmith. He enlisted on March 13, 1862 in Catawba County, North Carolina. After being shot, he was then rounded up and taken as a prisoner of war to Maryland. It took nearly a year for him to recover from his head injury. His pension witness was another young man that he met while being held captive. The two men were only released at the end of the war. My grandfather wrote that he did not pledge allegiance to the Union, but instead was freely granted leave to become an ordinary citizen again.

Another of my Civil War relatives was not so lucky. After being captured, he ended up dying as a prisoner of war in Maryland.