Those of us in the local history museum business sometimes struggle to connect with the large segment of the general population that doesn’t see the relevance of history. They are busy with their everyday lives; schedules of work, family and leisure time. Trying to get their attention and then bring them to a history based event can be challenging.
A few years ago at a Fenton History Center Board of Trustee meeting (Fenton History Center is in Jamestown, Chautauqua County, NY) we were brainstorming about how to collect and disseminate more local Italian genealogy and the stories that go with the families involved. One of the Fenton History Center Trustees suggested we hold a pizza judging event. We tabled the idea until last year when we started the “Slice of History Pizza Challenge”. Continue reading
Ken Cobb joined me on “The Forget-Me-Not Hour” podcast this week, talking about one of the richest repositories in New York City: the New York Municipal Archives.
Ken, Assistant Commissioner of Department of Records and Information Services for the City of New York, talked about the collections of the archives – vital records, tax records, police records, almshouse records, mayoral records, legislative records, and more. Continue reading
Like many 21st-century Americans, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln all had to navigate the world of blended and stepfamilies.
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Lisa Wilson, the Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of American History at Connecticut College and author of A History of Stepfamilies in Early America (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), leads us on an investigation of blended and stepfamilies in early America. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/027
The media was all abuzz recently over the revelation that actor Ben Affleck requested that producers of the PBS show ‘Finding Your Roots’, hide the fact that one of his ancestors owned slaves (going back six generations). When the news was leaked, Affleck responded by posting to one of his social media sites: “We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors…”
I agree with him. But what I find more intriguing is his eagerness to hide the information from the public to begin with. Why hide the family skeletons? If anything, isn’t he impressed that the producers were able to uncover so much information about his ancestors? Continue reading
Today on The Forget-Me-Not Hour: Your Ancestors Want Their Stories to Be Told radio show, I welcome the presenters of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society-sponsored New York Track at the National Genealogical Society’s 2015 family history conference in St. Charles, Missouri.
The radio show airs at 3:30 pm. Eastern time on Wednesday, April 1st and can be listened to on-demand any time afterward. Continue reading
The New York Chapter of the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) has announced its spring meeting, to be held on April 18, 2015. The event will take place at St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands, NY (off I-787, just north of Albany).
The meeting will include talks on conservation, rural cemeteries (including Albany Rural Cemetery), public programming at St. Agnes Cemetery, and other topics. In the afternoon attendees can take self-guided tours of St. Agnes Cemetery and adjacent Albany Rural Cemetery. Maps and information about points of interest at the cemeteries will be provided. Continue reading
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has published the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer (2015), a comprehensive, 856-page reference book for researchers of not just genealogy, but any type of history in the State of New York.
The book massive volume, considered unprecedented in its breadth and depth, covers New York State records for all the major ethnic and religious groups, and each county. Continue reading
The genealogy website Findmypast and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) have announced that Findmypast will host the newly expanded Digital Library of the NYG&B. The partnership is expected to provide additional membership benefits for the one of the nation’s oldest genealogical organizations, and also add new content to Findmypast’s online collections. Continue reading
In What’s In A Name? History And Meaning Of Wyckoff (2014), M. William Wykoff offers evidence that the origin of the surname Wyckoff is Frisian and refers to a household or settlement on a bay, despite widespread belief of American descendants of Pieter Claessen Wyckoff that the name is Dutch.
Frisian was only one of the many languages spoken by early settlers of New Netherland. There are many spelling variants of the surname in the Northern Germanic linguistic area of Europe, Wykoff argues, but it now occurs principally in the Lower Saxony area of Germany which includes East Frisia from where Pieter Claessen Wyckoff emigrated. Continue reading
The Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society has announced the first program of its 2015 “Odds and Ends” Winter Lecture Series on Wednesday, January 28 at Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in Lake Placid, NY. The program is “Dating Photos by Fashion” presented by Margaret Bartley, Trustee of the Essex County Historical Society.
“Dating Photos by Fashion” is a slide/lecture program designed to teach anyone who is interested in learning how to date old photos by the style of dress and fashion. It will cover the period 1840 to 1920 and uses old photos to show how styles changed over a period of 80 years. Dating old photos is a great help to anyone interested in history, genealogy or simply has old family photos that are unidentified or undated. Continue reading
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s new book, New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, was featured on the “Forget-Me-Not Hour” podcast on January 7th. NYG&B President McKelden Smith explained what this monumental work is all about – the first of its kind ever for New York. Founded in 1869, the NYG&B it is the largest genealogical society in New York and the only one that is state-wide.
Listen listen to the podcast online here. Order the book online here.
Historic Huguenot Street will host The Gathering, a weekend-long celebration of the Huguenots and their descendants on October 10 – 12. The event will bring together over 200 individuals who trace their heritage to the region, including descendants of New Paltz’ original 12 founders.
This is the first Gathering since the inaugural event in 2010. Vignettes depicting important moments of Huguenot Street’s continued history, special programs and performances, and children’s programming will continue throughout the weekend and are open to the public. Continue reading
Steve Seim is a volunteer researcher attempting to catalog cemeteries established for residents of asylums, poorhouses, poor farms, prisons, orphanages, and similar institutions – in other words, cemeteries for the unclaimed.
Most of the individuals laid to rest in these cemeteries were forgotten in their own lifetimes. It is his hope that they will not be forgotten to history. Continue reading
The 2014-2015 series Exploring Schenectady’s Immigrant Past at the Schenectady County Historical Society will celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Schenectady County and will explore the history and significance of immigration in the region.
As part of the series, SCHS is has announced a Call for Submissions for its upcoming community-curated art exhibit, Where Do You Come From. The exhibit, made possible in part by a grant from the Schenectady County Initiative Project, will explore the wide range of cultures that makes up Schenectady County today. Community members, local artists, and students are all invited to submit their artwork, including but not limited to paintings, collages, photography, sculpture, or whichever medium best answers the title question. Continue reading
We remember loved ones. We remember those about whom we care and who are now departed. We remember our ancestors for one, two, and maybe three generations if we are lucky enough to have known them. Beyond that memory becomes difficult, figures become blurred, and people are forgotten.
We do not simply dispose of the body when death occurs, we perform a ritual. Whether or not the ritual aids the one who has died is beyond the scope of this post; the ritual certainly is intended to aid the living to continue their journey in this life. Continue reading
Professional genealogist Jane E. Wilcox of Forget-Me-Not Ancestry in Kingston will present a talk on New York tenant farmers at the New York Public Library in New York City on Tuesday, May 20 at 5:30 p.m.
Wilcox’s presentation, “Looking for Your New York Tenant Farmer: Little-Used Resources,” will focus on the tenants of the major colonial manors and patents of the Hudson Valley between Westchester and Rensselaer and Albany counties. Wilcox will discuss the types of records that were created in New York’s manorial lease-holding land system and will explain how and where to find documents that recorded the lives of the tenants. Included with the talk will be a handout with genealogical resources. Continue reading
Mother’s Day reminds me of a pretty bad week from last November. I was appearing back then on a nationally televised show in relation to one of my books, but that event was soon relegated to unimportance. At the time, my mom had been hospitalized for two weeks. She died in the early minutes of November 2—at the very same hour the show was running on Discovery ID. A few days later, her funeral was held—on my birthday. Those were just unfortunate coincidences, and they matter little. Death has a way of putting TV shows and birthdays in perspective.
Mom was a fan of my work, especially early on when the first few books sold well. She enjoyed selling books to local friends who stopped by to pick up copies, so I kept a small supply at her house solely for that purpose. It did seem to bring her lots of pleasure. Continue reading
MyHeritage, the popular online family history network, has partnered with BillionGraves to launch a global crowdsourcing initiative to help preserve the world’s cemeteries.
BillionGraves is a free iOS and Android application that lets users easily photograph and document gravestones and record their GPS locations. The gravestone photographs are then expected to be transcribed by volunteers on the BillionGraves website, resulting in searchable digital data. The app is expected to be available in 25 languages and support Gregorian, Hebrew and Julian dates. Continue reading
Big Data is a controversial subject featured in the news almost daily, from the NSA spying programs to the rise of corporate data brokers. For better or worse this data exists, and the high value of information to both governments and private interests alike, make it look as though the practice is here to stay in one form or another. But, it is not the entry of data collection into the many aspects of our lives that I am exploring here; rather it is how this data can be mined in the future by historians. Continue reading