Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fearless Females: Words of Wisdom

Once again, in honor of National Women’s History Month (, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog ( presents Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

When I first read this prompt, I thought of this wonderful song that I have been hearing on the radio a lot lately and which I completely agree with:

I was raised by my mother.  My grandma Casell was also in the house and helped raise my sister and I.  I was also lucky enough to have my aunt/Godmother Amy live with us for a couple years and then to be able to hang out with her often growing up.  As such, the main words of wisdom in my life are from them.  I also, of course, have words of wisdom from my Grandma Acquard, particularly one I was told within the past couple years that prominently sticks out in my mind.

From my mom: Be happy and make enough money that you don't need to worry if you can pay your bills.

From my Grandma Casell: Remember how you were treated as a child and then treat children how you wish you were treated.  You can read anything, don't worry about age group listings (in relation to a library book sale).

From my Aunt Amy: She never told me this directly, she told my Grandma, who told my mom and I overheard when I was about an early-teen.  She talked to her new boyfriend (now husband) all night and still had more to say.  That's when she knew he was the one.  It's also how I knew Aaron was.

From my Grandma Acquard: Kids think we had it (marriage) easy, that it just worked.  But it didn't.  It is hard, you fight, you have to work at it to stay together.

"You could say I'm a little bit crazy
You could call me insane
Walkin' 'round with all these whispers
Runnin' 'round here in my brain
I just can't help but hear 'em
Man, I can't avoid it

I hear voices
I hear voices...

Turns out I'm pretty dang lucky
For all that good advice
Those hard to find words of wisdom
Holed up here in my mind
And just when I've lost my way
Or I got to many choices

I hear voices
I hear voices all the time..."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Staples, Paper Clips, and Rubber Bands, Oh My

Throughout my time working in Archives, it has never ceased to amaze me the damage that items such as paper clips, rubber bands, staples, sealing wax and, my personal favorite, the straight pin, can do to paper.  Rips, tears, rust marks, discoloration and other problems occur due to how papers are held together.  This makes preservation difficult and can even mean being unable to read documents or parts of documents, due to the damage caused.

What can you do with your documents instead?

  • Purchase archival supplies from a company such as Gaylord Brothers.  These plastic clips work the same as metal, but will not harm your documents.  Folders are also an easy way to keep documents organized.

  • Put documents in archival safe page protectors, such as those recommended by Dear Myrtle in her organizational checklist.

  • Read Sally J.'s Practical Archivist blog for information on proper archival practices of photographs.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fearless Females: Vera Gress

In honor of National Women’s History Month Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog presents Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

When I was beginning my genealogy search, I order birth and death certificates for all of my know ancestors.  There were no surprises until I saw the birth certificate of my great-grandmother, Vera Gress[ref]City of Buffalo, New York, birth certificate no. 148 (1900), Vera Louise Gress; New York State Department of Health, City of Buffalo, Buffalo.[/ref]

I had long know that her full name at birth was Vera Julia Gress.  My mom, Julie, was named for her.  Or so we thought.  It turns out that at birth, Vera's middle name was Louise, after her Aunt Louisa (I am guessing).  When did she change it?  Prior to her marriage when she was 20[ref]Tom Tryniski, "New York State Historical Photos & Newspapers 1817 Thru 2007," database, Old Fulton Post Cards ( : accessed 23 Jun 2009), Whitehead-Gress; citing The Illustrated Buffalo Express, 30 January 1931, p. 4, col. 2. [/ref]

My grandmother and her sisters were all surprised and my grandmother says Vera never said anything when my mom was born and named for her.  My mother wasn't quite sure what to think, as she apparently was named incorrectly, which was quite a shock.  We will probably never know when and why Vera changed her name, but it is definitely an interesting story.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Top 3 Genealogy WordPress Plugins

If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, you probably know about the multitude of wonderful plugins available to customize your blog.  These are my favorite plugins for genealogy-related posts/blogs.

  1. Footnotes for WordPress: By adding a simple tag to your posts, you can add footnotes to your posts [ref ]such as this[/ref].  This makes citing sources much easier than trying to add the footnotes yourself.

  2. WordPress Related Post: By using categories and tags, this plugin will give related posts at the end of each post to make it easier for visitors to explore your blog.  For example, if you post about your Smith family, others posts on the Smith's will be linked.

  3. WordPress Editorial Calendar: This is a great plugin for any blog writer.  You can plan ahead and create a schedule to add structure to your blog.  This can be useful for the wide variety of weekly blogging prompts many geneabloggers follow.Editorial Calendar Plug-in for WordPressWhat are your favorite WordPress plugins?


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Provenance for Genealogists

Provenance, or the origins of an item, is a term commonly used in museums and archives.  In order to protect themselves from fraud or other illegal activities, it is important for these institutions to have a list of who has owned an item since it's inception or founding.

An example of this, from, for the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is
Acquired by François I, either directly from Leonardo da Vinci, during his stay in France, or upon his death from his heirs, the painting remained in the royal collections from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the creation of the Central Arts Museum at the Louvre in 1793. We know that it was kept at Versailles under the reign of Louis XIV and that it was in the Tuileries during the First Empire. Since the Restoration, the Mona Lisa has always remained in the Louvre Museum, a key piece of the national collections.

How does this relate to genealogists and family historians?  Genealogists look at both original and derivative sources and the provenance shows which of these it is.  Original sources are always preferable, but depending how how and by whom a record became a derivative source changes how much trust you would have in it (for example, a microfilm of a church record by the FHC would be considered more trustworthy evidence than a transcription of the same record by an unknown person).

Additionally, there are many items that genealogists own items that we received from others, such as family bibles, letters and diaries or artifacts like jewelry or china.  Where did these come from and how did you get them?  This can be particularly important for an item such as a bible which will give birth, death and marriage dates of ancestors.  Was it passed down in the family from the original owner?  Was it found on a site such as eBay?  How do you know who wrote the names and dates in it?

This information can and should be included in your source for the item.  If you are citing a family bible, after the source for the item itself you would include a sentence such as "The Jane Smith Family Bible was passed to her daughter Sue Smith Jones, to her granddaughter Jean Jones White, to her niece Amanda Perrine."

For further information, please consult Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Monday, March 14, 2011

MSLIS Monday: Erie Canal Museum

My last internship for my degree/CAS is at the Erie Canal Museum here in Syracuse.  I am working with a fellow classmate to catalog the photograph collection in PastPerfect.

It is a fascinating project, looking at all the photos, learning a new software (which I LOVE) and working on my cataloging skills.  We have gotten about 100 photos in so far and expect to add quite a few more over the next month and a half, which will help museum staff and researchers at the museum.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Global Digital Library

"Do libraries create communities, or divide them?"  This question was asked by James Billington , the librarian of Congress, in 2005 [ref]Hales, Stewart.  (2010) Promoting a shared experience.  Information Outlook: 14(5)[/ref]


[references /]

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Delayed Birth Certificates

It is important to remember that when you are looking at the information on a delayed birth certificate, that it is secondary information, not primary.  Even though there usually needs to be a witness who was present at the birth, the fact that the certificate was not made in a timely manner, means it is still secondary information.  Plus, considering how long after the birth a delayed certificate might be made, it can be doubtful the witness was actually there.

One example of an interesting delayed birth certificate is that of my great-grandfather, William Herbert Whitehead.  Born 29 Sept 1896, his birth certificate was not created until 1940, 44 years later.  The witness is Albert E. Smith, uncle.  However, he was not his uncle, but rather his family friend... and bookie (according to my grandmother, William's daughter, who knew Al).  As such, this is not the most reliable record source.

In a case such as this, it is important to confirm the birth date with other sources.  One of these sources I looked at was his baptism.  This took place in 1904 and the birth date listed was the same.

I also checked the 1900 census, taken even closer to his actual birth date and this had his birth as taking place in September 1896, which is also consistent with the birth certificate.



1900 U.S. census, Erie, New York, population schedule, Buffalo, enumeration district (ED) 53, sheet 9B, p. 7-224 (stamped), dwelling 133, family 258, household of Charles Whitehead; digital images, ( : accessed 26 Feb 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 1026.

New York Department of Health, birth certificate 366803 (1940), William Herbert Whitehead; New York State Department of Health, Albany; Birth certifcate was created 44 years after his birth.  Reported by Albert E. Smith, Uncle.  He was actually a family friend (and bookie).

Whitehead baptismal entry (1904); issued 2004 by Archives of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, St. James Episcopal (Buffalo, New York), citing p. 108, number 3497; privately held by Amanda Perrine, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE].


Thursday, March 10, 2011

3 Rules of the Tiger Manager

I recently read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (no relation to Charlie Sheen's tiger blood;-))  and while I did not agree with all of it, and doubt I will one day raise children this way, I did notice a lot of what she said relates to my management style.

As such, here are my three rules for being a Tiger Manager:

  1. People live up to their expectations: Whether good or bad, people tend to do the least that is expected of them.  For a manager, this means setting high expectations that people will reach for and, hopefully, exceed.  If you set low or no expectations, that is all you will find people doing, which is not helpful to them or you.

  2. Training is everything: I have often said I can teach a person how to do anything except to be nice (a subject for another post).  To do this, one needs to be trained and then have the opportunity to use those skills continuously.  Make sure that the trainer is the best person you have for a particular skill.  For example, I used to have an amazing "slider" at Starbucks.  She would make the lobby look amazing each time she was asked too.  She was my go-to trainer for this aspect of the job.

  3. Pay attention and give feedback:  Management is not for the person who wants to just do their job and go home.  You need to pay attention to what each of your employees is doing and give constant feedback, both positive and corrective.  This should never just happen at a review.  Reviews are just an annual writing of what you and the employee have discussed over the year; it should never be a surprise.

Remember, your job as manager is to assist your employees in becoming better versions of themselves, so that they can expand their skills and move up in their chosen career path.  It is not easy work, but it can be tremendously rewarding.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fearless Females: Marriage Records

In honor of National Women’s History Month, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogistblog presents Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

As both of my grandmothers are still living and probably wouldn't want this information on my blog, I will focus on my great grandparents for this post.

Alfred Marco Casell and Lillian L. Eichhorn married 11 July 1928 in Buffalo, Erie County, New York.  Al was 22, Lillian, 19.  Witnesses were Al's father Marco and Frank J. Condon.

William Herbert Whitehead married Vera Julia Gress 28 March 1921, also in Buffalo.  He was 24, she was 21.  Witnesses were Bill's brother Hobson and Alberta Suess.  Their wedding announcement was:
Whitehead-Gress.  The marriage of Miss Vera [piece ripped off] daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. J. [also ripped; Gress] of Forest avenue, to Mr. William H. Whitehead , took place Easter Monday night at 8:30 o'clock at the home of the bride's parents, the Rev. J. Ward officiating.  The attendents were Miss Alberta Suess and Mr. Hobson Whitehead.  Mr. and Mrs. W. Whitehead will be home at 173 Forest avenue after a trip to New York, Washington and Baltimore.

Florian Dana Acquard and Stanislawa Frances Karpinski married 28 December 1932 in Bennington Center, Wyoming County, NY.  Florian was 33, Stella was 16.

Albert Emil Nuwer married Edna Agnes Roll 22 June 1932 in Alden, Erie County, NY at St. John's Roman Catholic Church.  He was 26, she was 21.

[caption id="attachment_814" align="aligncenter" width="235" caption="Al and Edna's Wedding"][/caption]

This is the only wedding picture I have for my great grandparents.  I love the "Just Married" sign on the car.  I had calla lilies as my wedding flowers,just  like they did.


Erie County marriage certificate (short form), 4024 (1921), Whitehead-Gress; Erie County Clerk's Office, Buffalo.

New York State Department of Health, marriage certificate 2251 (1928), Casell-Eichhorn; WNYGS Erie Co. Clerk's Office Marruage Licenses microfilm 132.

"Whitehead-Gress," (Buffalo) Unknown Newspaper; Article owned by Barbara Mueller.  Copied from her home by Amanda E. Perrine 23 May 2009.



Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fearless Females: Naming Patterns

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month by Lisa Alzo.

March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

My first name, Amanda, is unique in my family.  Prior to being married, was the only "Amanda Acquard" to ever exist in the world.

My middle name, however, has a multitude of connection to my female ancestors.  My middle name, Elizabeth, was given to me in honor of my Grandma Acquard, whose middle name is also Elizabeth.  Both of her paternal great-grandmother's had the first name Elizabeth (Zwilling and Nichter), which is where I imagine they got it for her.

Coincidently, my mother also has the middle name of Elizabeth.  My mom got this middle name after her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Fink Gress, and also after her aunt who died in infancy, Elizabeth Whitehead.

It was very important to me to keep this connect to my family by keeping my middle name when I got married.  It will also be the middle name of my daughter, if I have one.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fearless Females: Photograph Edition

In honor of National Women’s History Month, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog presents Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

[caption id="attachment_809" align="aligncenter" width="254" caption="Sophia Passel Gress"][/caption]

This is a tintype of my great-great-great grandmother Sophia Passel Gress.  Born in 1846 in Germany, this picture was probably taken around the turn of the century in Buffalo, Erie County, New York.  This is one of my favorite photographs of my ancestors for a variety of reasons.  I love how regal she looks; that it is a tintype that has been handed down in the family through the generations; that if you didn't know better you could think it was my great grandmother or my grandmother or one of my great aunts, due to the stong facial resemblance.

Library Advocacy Day

Yesterday I was able to attend library advocacy day in Albany with CLRC.  CLRC sponsors a bus for librarians and library school student to lobby legislatures as part of NYLA's Library Advocacy Day.  As a student, the price is kept low to allow us to see and learn the process and network with librarians.

The day started early, with the bus leaving at 6am from Syracuse.  We arrived in Albany just before 9am, after stopping in Utica to pick up additional attendees.  After going through security it was up many flights of stairs to our first meeting.

Important lesson #1: Tuesday is Lobby Day in Albany.  You will be standing and walking quite a bit, particularly while waiting in line at security.  Additionally, there is a long wait for elevators.  Stairs are easier.  Wear comfortable shoes and be ready for some exercise.

We met with three legislatures and one legislature's aide in the first half of the day.  It was not at all what I was expecting.  We discussed the legislative priorities and other talking points; we listened to children and parents on why the library was important to them; we listed to some legislatures lobby us about Medicaid reform (random, I know); we thanked them for their prior support and asked for them to continue to do help us.

Important lesson #2: Every year the same general things get said.  They know what is coming and so do we.  So why continue to go?  If you do not, they will forget about your cause and cut your funding even further.

Then came lunch.  Not normally something I would discuss, except for what happened afterwards.  We left the security zone to go to the cafe just outside it for our hour long break.  When we went to go back into the Legislative offices, the AFSCME members had arrived to lobby.  These are Union members and their numbers were impressive.  It was an hour and a half wait to get back through security, meaning we would miss all of our afternoon appointments.

Important lesson #3: Bring a lunch and stay inside the security zone.  You never know what will occur.

As such, we went to the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception and the New York State Museum for an hour and a half, then went to find the bus.  And so we waited for the bus.  Due to the congestion for lobby day, we finally were able to get on the bus an hour later than planned.  In that time, I was able to talk with librarians and library trustees from the area, who had wonderful advice for a soon-to-be graduate.

Important lesson #4: As in all other parts of life, go with the flow and change directions as needed.  Opportunities present themselves if you look for them.

We made it home around 6:30pm and then I did homework until I crashed.  I really enjoyed the opportunity and have to thank CLRC for allowing MLIS students to attend at such an amazingly discounted price.  I look forward to attending in the future and, hopefully, going through leader training so that I can help others in talking with our elected officials.  Remember, support your libraries!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fearless Females: Favorite Female Ancestor

In honor of National Women’s History Month, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog presents Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

I don't know that I have a favorite female ancestor, but I do have those female ancestors that I always seem to go back to when writing posts or thinking about my family tree.

The top 2 would be Lillian Eichhorn Casell, my great-grandmother, who I wrote about here.  The other would be my great-great grandmother, Anna May Sanderson Whitehead.

Anna May is the catalyst to my becoming a genealogist.  Long story short, she was probably born Elizabeth Ann Sanderson, married, left her husband and family to marry my great-great grandfather, moved to Buffalo and never returned to her family in Canada.  Many years ago my grandmother was contacted by a possibly-very-distant relative about this mystery and I thought it was fascinating.  After this, I started researching, on and off, through my teenage years and college, the story of my family.  Anna May will probably always be the biggest mystery to my search, though I am planning my proof argument for ProGen to be about her.  I will post that when the assignment is due in a few months.

Back to Basic: July

July went quick! GRIP  went virtual! I attended (most) of the sessions in Documentation and then continued my citation work with my ProGen a...