Showing posts from March, 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…

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.

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…

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.

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.
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.
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.What are your favorite WordPress plugins?


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 …

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.

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 /]

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 …

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:

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.
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…

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.…

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 afte…

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 priorit…

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 he…