Tag Archives: Genealogy

Rensselaer County Surrogate Records Index Goes Online


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An index of 31,325 Rensselaer County Surrogate Court Records from 1786 to 1917 has now been added to the Troy Irish Genealogy (TIGS) website. These records, especially those prior to 1880 will be of great interest to genealogy researchers. The information in this data base was copied from a file in the Rensselaer County Historical Society, 57 Second Street, Troy, New York.

To view these records go to the Troy Irish Genealogy website and click on PROJECTS and then click on RENSSELAER COUNTY SURROGATE COURT INDEX. These records, like most of the TIGS data series, cover the general population in the area and are NOT restricted to Irish surnames.

For each name in the on-line index there is a Surrogate Court Record folder that may contain various original source documents such as Wills, Letters of Administration, Guardianship Papers, Invoice of Property, Depositions Concerning a Person’s Death, etc. The on-line index shows the following information for each record which may help you identify those records that will be of interest to you:

1. NAME – Last, first, middle name or initials if any, and titles like Dr., Rev., etc.

2. FILE NUMBER – Used to locate the files at the Rensselaer County Historical Society.

3. LOCATION – Gives name of city, town or state of residence.

4. DATE – May be year of death or year of legal issue.

5. INV. – Indicates when there is an inventory of household goods in the record. An invoice may be in the records EVEN if this column is not checked.

6. COMMENTS – This column will have an interesting comment for each name. Some comments may show marital status (bachelor, spinster, widow, widower), while other comments may show maiden names, occupations, name of street residence, relationships (wife, husband, mother, father, son daughter, etc.) and number of children.

Copies of any original source documents that are contained in the file folder for each name can be requested from the Rensselaer County Historical Society. The TIGS website has a PRINTABLE FORM that can be used when requesting copies from RCHS. For each request there is a $5.00 fee which will cover RCHS’s cost of locating and pulling a singular file folder from the archives. After the file folder is located, RCHS will contact the requester about the contents of the file to see which documents they want copied at a cost of .25 cents per page plus postage for mailing.

Museum Puts NY Civil War Soldiers Info Online


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As the Nation prepares to observe the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the New York State Military History Museum and Veterans Research Center is making capsule histories of 360,000 New York Civil War Soldiers available online.

The entire roster of New Yorkers who served during the Civil War Years, 1861-1865, is now available online, as well as the five annual reports issued by the Bureau of Military Statistics from 1864 to 1868 that chronicle the accomplishments of New Yorkers in battle.

The Civil War began on April 12 1861 when Confederate cannons fired on Union-occupied Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Caroline. On April 19 1861 the New York National Guard’s 7th Regiment was mustered into service and departed for Washington to defend the Capitol.

More than 360,000 Soldiers enlisted in New York regiments to fight for the Union during the Civil War. Capsule histories of those Soldiers military records were recorded from 1893 to 1906 in 17 volumes based on data from the New York Adjutant General’s Office and the War Department, the predecessor to today’s Department of the Army. These records have been posted in PDFformat and are searchable.

The Bureau of Military Statistics was established by the Legislature in 1863 to record the history of New York’s volunteer Soldiers by collecting newspaper clippings, artifacts, and securing the battle flags of returning units. The Bureau published five reports summarizing the information collected and detailing the contributions made by New Yorkers during the Civil War. These records are also in searchable PDF format.

That collection of printed materials, weapons, artifacts and battle flags is maintained by the Military Museum today under the control of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.

Visitors to the museum’s website can find out that John Hurley, the assistant surgeon of New York City’s 69th Infantry Regiment, who enlisted on Nov. 1 1862, was killed accidently in camp on April 15, 1863 near Falmouth, Virginia. Or they can learn that the towns of Onondaga County collected $8.2 million in taxes to pay bonuses to Soldiers enrolling in volunteer regiments in 1862.

The museum staff has also begun scanning in, and making available online most of the thousands of Civil War newspaper clippings that the museum has preserved since the 1860s.

“The Civil War was a critical time in the history of the United States and of New York,” said Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York. “I am pleased that the New York State Military Museum has been able to make this fascinating information readily accessible to New Yorkers and all Americans.”

“With the addition of these new online resources, the Military Museum and Veterans Research Center continues to make important historical and genealogical works from its collection more easily available to the public through our website.” Michael Aikey

“Almost everybody who contacts me is amazed at how much we have been able to put online,” said museum archivist Jim Gandy. “Without fail they are thankful that it is online because some of the stuff only exists on microfilm so you can’t even get it from the library.”

The process of digitizing these historic documents began almost eight years ago and has relied heavily on volunteers willing to spend time scanning in documents, Gandy said.

The museum’s catalog of its collection of photographs, books, articles, and paintings is also being turned into digital information and is now searchable online, Gandy said.

While the museum holds vast amounts of information about the Civil War and is making that available online, other military data of interest to history and genealogy buffs is also now available online.

Thanks to the efforts of volunteers the names of all 13,025 who served as officers in the New York State Militia, the precursor to the New York National Guard, prior to 1858, have been indexed. Local high school students fulfilling the obligation to spend 20 hours volunteering did much of this work over the last year, Gandy said.

Another volunteer project involved establishing a searchable database of the 23,315 members of the New York National Guard who were awarded the New York State Long and Faithful Service Medal between its inception in 1894 and 1963.

The Military History Museum is also the custodian of New York’s Civil War Battle Flags. More than 800 flags collected when regiments returned from the war are stored. Many of those have been conserved.

Other items now available online at the New York State Military Museum website relate to the New York National Guard’s history in World War I and World War II.

Copies of two publications issued just before and during World War I, the “Rio Grande Rattler” from 1916 and the “Wadsworth Gas Attack “from 1917 are now available for download from the website.

The Rio Grande Rattler was published when the New York National Guard was mobilized and sent to the Mexican Border in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson following a raid on Columbus New Mexico by the troops of Mexican Revolutionary Poncho Villa. New York National Guardsmen guarded the border with Mexico in 1916 just as they would in 2006.

In 1917, New York’s 27th Division was mobilized for service in World War II and trained at Camp Wadsworth South Carolina.

Twenty-three years later the Guardsmen of the 27th Division were again on federal service, this time at Fort McClellan Maryland following President Franklin Roosevelt’s activation of the National Guard for one year of service following the successful German invasion of France. The yearbook published for the division’s Soldiers that year, which includes photographs of every unit and key officer, as well as pictures of the training, can be downloaded.

Key links on the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center Website:

Roster of New York Volunteers during the Civil War

Annual Reports of the Bureau of Military Statistics, 1864-1868

New York State Militia Officers Prior to 1858

List of Long and Faithful Service Medal Holders


The Wadsworth Gas Attack and Rio Grande Rattler


Photo: The painted silk regimental battle flag carried by the 125th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.

Schenectady Digital History Archive Expands


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Bob Sullivan of the Schenectady Digital History Archive is reporting that the online archive’s obituary index now includes over 65,000 citations.

In addition to the [Schenectady] Daily Gazette and assorted historical Schenectady
newspapers, for the last several years the index has covered current issues of papers from the greater Capital District area, such as the Glens Falls Post-Star, the Gloversville Leader-Herald and the Saratogian.

Digital History Archive Adds Important Volumes


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Bob Sullivan, of the Schenectady Digital History Archive, has announced that the first two (historical) volumes of Nelson Greene’s four-volume history of Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Schenectady and Schoharie Counties, History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925 is now online.

Included are more than 300 photos and maps, and a biographical section – more than 2000 pages so far, are online. Greene’s History joins the Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, a four-volume set with more than 1300 family entries from Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren and Washington Counties.

Schenectady ‘Genealogy Day’ Event Saturday


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On Saturday November 6th the Schenectady County Historical Society will explore the many possible ways to uncover your family history during Genealogy Day, an event that will feature several speakers along with open hours in the library. Frank Taormina, a retired teacher and long-time Schenectady resident, will describe the history of the ethnic communities of Schenectady as he shows us the City’s many places of worship: churches, synagogues and mosques. Bob Sullivan, librarian at the Schenectady County Public Library and webmaster of Schenectady Digital History Archive, will explain how to mine the wealth of the Internet to locate historic newspapers on the Internet. During the lunch hour Kim Mabee, a community volunteer and tireless family researcher, will share the story of her own research on the Mabee Family of Rotterdam, NY.

The afternoon of Genealogy Day offers participants the choice of sitting in on a beginning genealogy class or exploring the resources of the Grems-Doolittle Library. Nancy Curran, a genealogical consultant, will be on hand in the library to field research questions. Curran is an experienced researcher well versed in using the New York State Department of Health vital records indexes at the New York State Archives. Katherine Chansky, librarian at the Historical Society’s Grems-Doolittle Library, will talk about ways to begin a genealogy project. She will share some tips on organizing family records, suggest Internet sites to visit, and demonstrate
Family Tree Maker software.

Reservation are recommended. Participants will be asked for a 5 dollar donation to benefit the Historical Society. Lunch is bring your own bag lunch; cold beverages and homemade desserts will be provided by Grems-Doolittle Library volunteers.

Genealogy Day Schedule Saturday Nov. 6th :

10:00 am – 10: 45 am Churches of Schenectady by Frank Taormina. This PowerPoint presentation by Schenectady resident Frank Taormina, will explore the ethnic character of the City of Schenectady’s places of worship. Taormina was a social studies teacher for ten years, a school administrator and for many years the principal of Niskayuna High School. He has been president of the Schenectady County Historical Society and is a frequent speaker at SCHS events.

11:00 am – 11:45 am Digital Newspapers Online by Robert Sullivan, reference librarian at the Schenectady County Public Library and Trustee of the Schenectady County Historical Society. Bob will give a survey of assorted Internet sites where the public can find digital historic newspaper collections. He will also discuss the wealth of information available through Newsbank and Google/Gazette.

12:00 noon to 1:30 Lunch Break Guest Speaker, Kim Mabee, Mabee/Mabie/Maybee/Maybee: Soup to Nuts. Kim Mabee has spent years adding her own genealogy research to the extensive Mabee family genealogical record. A member of the Maybee Society, she describes herself as a “professional volunteer.” Kim has taken leadership roles
in a variety of area organizations including president of the Sacandaga PTA, President of the Schenectady County Historical Society, and Volunteer registrar for the Highland Soccer Club. She has received awards for her community service and takes pride in being a life-long student and self-taught scholar. From the summer into the fall season Kim is the “butter lady” at the Historic Mabee Farm in
Rotterdam Junction, NY, teaching hundreds of school children on farm tours how to make homemade sweet butter and giving lessons in farm-based traditions of the Mohawk Valley.

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Beginning Genealogy by Katherine Chansky, Librarian/Archivist for the Grems-Doolittle Library. Katherine Chansky has been working in local history and genealogy for over 10 years. She will share suggestions on organizing your family records, setting up files in Family Tree Maker, and identify several Internet
website for the beginning genealogist.

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Library Open Hours with Nancy Johnsen Curran. Curran is a genealogist and experienced researcher. She will be available in the library to brainstorm answers to your genealogy questions.

On any project, a thorough search of the Internet may lead to intensive local research in nearby counties’ courthouses, historical societies, libraries and churches.

An important resource is the New York State Library and Archives, one of the leading repositories in the country. For 20th-century research, New York State’s vital records are familiar territory. Other holdings consulted may include colonial wills, tax records, military records and prison records, as well as the unique documents
in the Manuscript Collection. Nancy Johnsen Curran brings many years experience locating family history in these records in the Capital region. She is a member of the board of trustees of Schenectady County Historical Society and the New Netherland Institute, the membership organization in support of the New Netherland Research Center. Curran brings to genealogy research a discipline instilled by many years in print and electronic journalism. Experience as a feature writer and
columnist is called into play, as she presents factual history in readable, interesting form. Her website address is www.nancycurran.com.

The Schenectady County Historical Society is located at 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady, NY 12305. The building is wheel chair accessible with off-street parking.

For more information contact Katherine Chansky at (518) 374-0263 or email librarian@schist.org. Find directions to SCHS at www.schist.org.

Expanded Canadian Naturalization Database Online


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Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has announced the release of a new version of the online database Canadian Naturalization 1915-1951. It now includes digitized images of the lists of names of people who applied for and obtained status as naturalized Canadians between 1932 and 1951; these lists were originally published in the Canada Gazette. This database is one of the few Canadian genealogical resources specifically designed to benefit researchers having roots other than British. The reference numbers indicated in the database can be used to request copies of the original naturalization records, which are held by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

The mandate of Library and Archives Canada is to preserve the nation’s documentary heritage for present and future generations and to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic development of Canada. Library and Archives Canada also facilitates co-operation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge, and is the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions. Genealogy Services (www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogy/) includes all physical and online genealogical services of Library and Archives Canada. It offers information, services, advice, research tools and the opportunity to work on joint projects, in both official languages.

For more information, please contact webservices@lac-bac.gc.ca.

Nouvelle version de la base de données Naturalisation canadienne

Bibliothèque et Archives Canada (BAC) a le plaisir d’annoncer le lancement d’une nouvelle version de la base de données en ligne, Naturalisation canadienne 1915-1951. Elle comprend maintenant les images numérisées des listes de noms de personnes qui ont demandé et obtenu le statut de citoyen naturalisé canadien entre 1932 et 1951; ces listes étaient à l’origine publiées dans la Gazette du Canada. Cette base de données constitue l’une des rares ressources généalogiques canadiennes spécialement conçues pour aider les chercheurs ayant des racines autres que britanniques. On peut se servir des numéros de référence indiqués dans la base de données pour commander des copies des dossiers originaux de naturalisation, qui sont conservés par Citoyenneté et Immigration Canada.

Le mandat de Bibliothèque et Archives Canada est de préserver le patrimoine documentaire du pays pour les générations présentes et futures, et d’être une source de savoir permanent accessible à tous et qui contribue à l’épanouissement culturel, social et économique du Canada. En outre, Bibliothèque et Archives Canada facilite au Canada la concertation des divers milieux intéressés à l’acquisition, à la préservation et à la diffusion du savoir, et représente la mémoire permanente de l’administration fédérale et de ses institutions. Les Services de généalogie (www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogie/) englobent tous les services généalogiques physiques et en ligne de Bibliothèque et Archives Canada. Ils offrent de l’information, des services, des conseils, des outils de recherche et la possibilité de travailler à des projets communs, et ce, dans les deux langues officielles.

Pour de plus amples renseignements, écrivez-nous à webservices@lac-bac.gc.ca.

On The Web: Helderberg Hill Towns Wiki


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Regular New York History reader and GeneaBloggers.com founder Thomas MacEntee wrote me recently to let me know about a wiki called Helderberg Hill Towns, and devoted to the the Hill Towns of Albany County.

Local native Hal Miller created the concept and arranged for volunteers to provide content to the site; the software installation and other technical components of the project were handled by MacEntee.

The site has 2,548 articles so far and growing, including architecture, biographies, businesses, cemeteries, documents, events, images, maps. military history, natural history, and a lot more.

Photo courtesy Helderberg Hilltowns Wiki.

New Expanded Saturday Hours for NYS Archives, Library


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The New York State Library and New York State Archives will institute new Saturday hours beginning on October 16th. Saturday hours of operation at the two facilities, located on the 7th and 11th floor of the Cultural Education Center (CEC) at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, will be from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free public parking will be available in the Madison Avenue parking lots adjacent to the CEC. Directions and parking information is available on the New York State Museum website.

This new policy for expanded access does not affect the hours of the New York State Museum, which is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. However if a major holiday (e.g. July 4th, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day) falls directly on a Saturday, the Library and Archives will not be open (checking their websites is advised for such holidays).

The New York State Library has served New Yorkers, New York State government and researchers from throughout the United States for more than 190 years. It is the largest state library in the nation and the only state library to qualify for membership in the Association of Research Libraries. The Library’s research collection of more than 20 million items includes major holdings in law, medicine, the social sciences, education, American and New York State history and culture, the pure sciences and technology.

The New York State Archives identifies, preserves, and makes available more than 200 million records of colonial and state government dating back to 1630 that have enduring
value to the public and private institutions and to all the people of the Empire State and the nation.

War of 1812, Border, Focus of Ontario Genealogical Conference


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The Ontario Genealogical Society‘s Region VIII (Kingston, Leeds & Grenville, and Ottawa Branches) will host the Society’s annual conference on June 1-3, 2012 at St. Lawrence College, Kingston Campus.

The conference theme is “Borders and Bridges: 1812 to 2012″ – chosen because the War of 1812 was a border dispute between England and the United States.

Issues such as border crossings; land settlement and pension records (on both sides of the border) of participants in the war of 1812 and other wars; immigration and migration; and genealogical resources in areas bordering eastern Ontario as well as in Ontario will be among the topics covered by speakers at the Conference. Also, genealogy is about making connections between people and families, including bridging gaps using DNA and other modern technologies.

The subject of lectures should preferably fall within one of the following categories:

1. Borders and Bridges (immigration/emigration, “Old Country” records, research trips)
2. Location (land records, directories, census)
3. Military records (not limited to War of 1812)
4. Technology (software, internet, DNA, etc.)
5. Eastern Ontario and Vicinity (New York state, Quebec)

Those wishing to be considered as a presenter, should submit a brief outline of your proposed talk(s) via e-mail to conference2012@ogs.on.ca no later than 15 January 2011.

Saturday and Sunday lectures will be one hour long, including time for questions. Friday workshops offering a more in-depth exploration should be 2.5-3 hours in length, including time for questions.

Speakers should bear in mind that PowerPoint presentations must be clearly readable from a minimum distance of 20 metres / 65 feet and should employ fonts no smaller than 32 points.

Each proposal should include on one page:

* a presentation title
* an abstract of 200 words
* a one- or two-sentence description of your talk for the seminar brochure
* your full name, postal address, telephone number, e-mail address, and website
* a brief biography
* whether your lecture would be aimed at genealogists working at the beginner, intermediate or advanced level, and suitable for a general or specialist audience (Multiple proposals are encouraged)

If your proposal is accepted, you will be requested to provide a 4-page summary of your talk or workshop for our Syllabus. This may include references and web addresses mentioned, sample screen shots, etc. It will be submitted electronically (in Word, RTF, WordPerfect, text or PDF format) approximately three months prior to the Conference.

Please include your approximate travel costs, economy class, to Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Remuneration will normally include reimbursement of transportation expenses, free registration, free accommodation and meals on the day(s) of your talk(s), free Saturday banquet, plus honorarium. Workshop fees may be negotiated.

Troy’s Little Italy Midwife Records Online


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Troy area researchers will be interested in the almost 200 midwife records covering 600 surnames that have just been added to the Troy Irish Genealogy Website. These records mostly are for infants born to Italian immigrants who lived in the little Italy section of South Troy. A number of the records, however, are for Syrian immigrants. The records, which range from 1909 to 1923, were completed by the midwife Alesandra Matera, a nurse who lived at 250 Fourth Street in Troy.

The Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy, New York provided the Troy Irish Genealogy Society access to their copies of these records to develop this on-line database.

You can view these records by going to the Troy Irish Genealogy website at www.rootsweb.com/~nytigs/ and click on PROJECTS and then click on MATERA MIDWIFE RECORDS. There are three separate files for the records covering the child’s name, the father’s name and the mother’s name. Clicking on the alphabetical listing of names on the left side of the page will bring up the individual record for that name.

Illustration: 1880 Map of Troy’s Little Italy Neighborhood.

Troy Newspaper Transcriptions Now Online


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In 1935, the Philip Schuyler Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), located in Troy, New York, documented the death and marriage records that were printed in various Troy newspapers during the years 1812 to 1885. This project, which was funded by the Works Progress Administration (renamed during 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA), was the largest New Deal agency employing millions to carry out public works projects.

The Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy, New York provided the Troy Irish Genealogy Society (TIGS) access to their copies of these extensive records to develop this searchable online database. These records will be of great interest to genealogy researchers since much of the information in this collection predates the 1880 New York State law requiring the reporting of death and marriage records.

Newspaper records transcribed so far include the Troy Post (1812-1823), the Troy Weekly Whig (1834-1839), the Troy Daily Press (1833-1834), and the Troy Sentinel (1823-1832). Volunteers are currently transcribing the Troy Daily Whig covering the years 1834 to 1873. To volunteer on this project send an email to seamus@nycap.rr.com.

You can view all these records by going to the Troy Irish Genealogy website. Click on PROJECTS and then TROY NEWSPAPER PROJECT. It should be noted that these records, like most of the TIGS data series, cover the general population in the area and are NOT restricted to Irish surnames.

NY Genealogical & Biographical SocietyNew Digital Resources For Members


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The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) has announced that all issues of the NYG&B Record are now accessible online to the Society’s members. The entire run of the NYG&B Record comprises 563 issues at this writing and forms the largest single collection of published material on families that lived in New York State. The collection is every-word searchable and is accompanied by a new surname search engine based on an index to more than one million names from the pages of the Record. Originally created by Jean Worden, the search engine will simultaneously search every issue from 1870-2009 and will be updated every October when the year’s annual index is released.

Continuously published since 1870, the NYG&B Record is the second oldest genealogical journal in the country and one of the most distinguished. Published quarterly, it concentrates on people and places within New York City, State, and region and features compiled genealogies, solutions to problems, and unique source material.

Access to the digital version of the Record is available exclusively to NYG&B members through the Society’s growing E-Library of unique material on its website.

Other New Content: Expanding the digital content available to NYG&B members is one of the Society’s foremost goals. Book one of the 1855 New York State Census for Ward 17 of New York City, including an every name index was recently posted to the E-Library. Ward 17 was often the first home of new immigrants who arrived in the middle of the 19th century. The original census returns were damaged by fire and sat unused for many years. Thanks to an extraordinary effort by NYG&B volunteers and interns these records are now being made available. The remaining books will be posted once the indexing is complete. Also in progress is the posting of more than 500 biographical sketches of NYG&B members from the first half of the 20th century. Personally completed by each member as part of their application to the Society, these biographies contain exceptional firsthand narratives, family trees, and ephemera.

About the NYG&B: The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has been a primary resource for research on New York families since 1869. The NYG&B seeks to advance genealogical scholarship and enhance the capabilities of both new and experienced researchers of family history through a rich schedule of programs, workshops, and repository tours; through its quarterly scholarly journal The NYG&B Record and its quarterly review The New York Researcher; and through an E-Library of unique digital material on its website www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org.

New Database: Participants at the Battles of Saratoga


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Do you have an ancestor who served in the 1777 Battles of Saratoga? Saratoga National Historical Park, in partnership with Heritage Hunters of Saratoga County, announces that starting on Thursday, October 14th, a free, computer-based, accessible research tool, ‘Participants at the Battles of Saratoga’, will be available in the park’s visitor center, open daily from 9am to 5pm.

The easy-to-use, touch screen database program was created by members of Heritage Hunters of Saratoga County, New York, a society dedicated to the study of historical and genealogical records in the area. The information is also on their website, but now will be readily available for any of the 150,000 visitors who annually visit Saratoga National Historical Park and wish to investigate their ancestor’s service here.

Park Superintendent Joe Finan said, “Imagine finding your ancestor’s information recorded from sources over 230 years old and then going out on the battlefield and standing where they did. It will be a deeply moving experience for thousands of park visitors. We greatly appreciate the work of Heritage Hunters.”

Frank Goodway, project coordinator for Heritage Hunters, noted that there are currently over 15,000 participants listed with about 2,500 more available that he and Fletcher Blanchard are currently adding. Pat Peck has recently taken on the task of editing these records. Additionally, some records include family information as well as military records, and more family data is planned to be added in the future.

For over a decade, members of Heritage Hunters have been diligently collecting data from over one hundred reference sources, including pension records, pay-lists, and muster rolls, to obtain names and information about American soldiers who participated at the 1777 Battles of Saratoga. The list is continually updated by Heritage Hunters.

In the next few years, Saratoga NHP staff will enhance the database to include GPS coordinates so that visitors can go to the exact area where their ancestor’s units fought. In addition, the park will also add a database of British soldiers and their allies who fought here. For now, records about British forces are available by making an appointment with Park Ranger and Historian Eric Schnitzer.

Saratoga National Historical Park is located on Route 4 and 32 in Stillwater. For more information about the park and programs call 518.664.9821 ext. 224 or visit our website at www.nps.gov/sara.

Historic Huguenot Family Reunion, Early History Event


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Many in the Hudson Valley know of Historic Huguenot Street as a unique place. The architecture, the setting, the sense of timelessness within our modern, busy world – it is true that all of these things distinguish the site. Equally special though is the fact that descendants of the community’s founders and early leaders are still very much involved with and drawn to the Street. More continue to visit the site each year.

Embracing this, Historic Huguenot Street is hosting a “family reunion” for descendants and those interested in the special early history of the site. The Gathering, as the event is called, will be held from Friday, August 13th to Sunday, August 15th.

The event will begin with a Friday evening reception and viewing of the newly-installed portrait exhibit, An Excellent Likeness, in the LeFevre house. Saturday is the “meat” of the event, with a full day series of workshops focusing on early history. Topics such as the lives of the Huguenots and Dutch before they settled New Paltz, African-Americans and Slavery, Clothing Design and the role of women in early New York will be featured. Lunch and dinner are included and the day will be rounded out with evening options of a talk about Cultural Pluralism or an opportunity to partake in the popular Haunted Huguenot Street program. The event concludes on Sunday with options of a service in the French Church, an archaeology workshop or a tour of the museum houses.

More information about the Gathering, including workshop descriptions, can be found at www.huguenotstreet.org. The cost for the event is $50 per person or $90 per couple. Special activities are available for children and Saturday meals are included in the cost of registration. For more information, visit the HHS website or call (845) 255-1660.

30,000 Rensselaer County Marriage Records Online


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The Renssealer County Clerk’s office and the Troy Irish Genealogical Society (TIGS) have joined forces to put more than 30,000 early 20th century marriage records online. The Marriage Index Automation took five years to complete. The online records include a 10-volume set of indexes to marriages in Rensselaer County between 1908 and 1935. The records, which cover every person married in Rensselaer County, not just those with Irish surnames, are available online through the TIGS website.

Rennselaer County Clerk Frank J. Merola lauded the efforts of TIGS members in bringing the project to fruition, including former TIGS president Donna Vaughn, current president Kristin Cooney Ayotte, project coordinator Bill McGrath and webmaster and librarian Jeanne Keefe.

“I am very pleased to have been involved in this partnership with TIGS, and I commend them on taking the time and effort to open our historical records to the widest audience possible,” Merola told the Troy Record newspaper.

“We have made tremendous progress in restoring county naturalization records with the help of organizations like TIGS, and I am thrilled about our future projects and the future of genealogy in Rensselaer County,” he was reported to have said.

Tracing Your Ancestors to the Dutch Settlers


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Theodore P. Wright, Jr., Ph.D., Vice President of the Dutch Settlers Society of Albany and a trustee of the New Netherland Institute, will discuss resources to aid in tracing your ancestors to the Dutch Settlers, specifically in an area under the jurisdiction of the Court of Rensselaerswijck prior to the year 1665 or in Esopus (Kingston, NY) prior to the year 1661. The program will be held in Librarians Room, New York State Library, Cultural Education Center, 7th floor 310 Madison Avenue, Albany 12230 on Thursday, June 17th, 12:15 – 1:15 PM Online registration is available.

The Dutch Settlers Society of Albany was founded in 1924, in connection with the celebration of the tercentenary of the settlement of the City, and was instituted to: perpetuate the memory and virtues of the individuals who resided here during the time it was a Dutch colony; and to collect and preserve records and information concerning the history and settlement of Albany and its vicinity, including genealogical records of the settlers and their descendants without regard to race, creed, or country of origin.

For more information about this program, contact Sheldon Wein or Mary Beth Bobish at NYSLTRN@mail.nysed.gov, or call at 518-474-2274.

Schenectady County Public Library Local History Collection Unavailable


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Due to an asbestos abatement project on the second floor of the Central Library, the storage collections of the Schenectady County Public Library will be unavailable from now until approximately the middle of June, according to Bob Sullivan of the Schenectady Digital History Archive.

The shutdown will affect the bulk of the libraries local history collection, including most of their yearbooks and some of their city directories. The newspaper microfilm and the city directories on the main floor will remain accessible, as will the library’s Ancestry and HeritageQuest subscriptions.

Update on NYC National Archives Move


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Here is an update from Roger Joslyn a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, regarding the recent news about the National Archives – Northeast Region, Manhattan Branch. You’ll recall that I ran Joslyn’s first letter of concern that the NYC National Archives was under threat on February 17th. I ran more news of the Archives move on March 15th. Here is the latest from Joslyn:

Hello, again

Thank you for the many responses to my letter concerning the possibility of losing our National Archives–Northeast Region as an important research facility. The response was overwhelming and I regret I could not answer all the many e-mails. I understand my letter was circulated pretty far and wide and some persons wrote me from other countries. Many of you conveyed good thoughts about the issue, telling of similar experiences, and several wrote to offer, “What can I do?”

My apologies if I missed sending first my letter to a few people who are receiving this one, and if so, please let me know and I shall send the earlier one if you want to see it.

The main purpose of my first letter was to let you know what I knew and had heard about the planned move of NARA’s New York regional facility. At the time of my first letter, NARA had put nothing out to the pubic about the intended move, about any reduction in space and on-site research materials, and so forth. As I then wrote, some of the plans were told to Stuart Stahl by NARA’s Diane LeBlanc for him to pass the word. So, “officially,” that is the best information there was at the time, but one might also still consider any of those details to be “rumor” at that point.

Since the first letter, NARA has responded, and I have been told or led to believe that a positive result of my letter was that it put things in action sooner than later. I have had telephone conversations with Diane LeBlanc and other NARA personnel about the move of the New York regional facility and I refer you (below) to NARA’s official word about the move and also to some NARA-prepared FAQs. As you will see, some of information is different and/or a little more detailed than what had been said and circulated earlier.

http://www.archives.gov/northeast/nyc/move-notice.html

http://www.archives.gov/northeast/nyc/move-faq.html

Also since sending my first letter, I have been able to visit what will be NARA-NYC’s new home in the Customs House in lower Manhattan. There is no question the building is a lovely place and, when the space is renovated, will provide pleasing accommodations for researchers, staff, and programs. NARA’s Public Programs Specialists Dorothy Doughty is quite excited about the possibilities for the latter, not only for large and small presentations and workshops, but also because there is room for (for example) genealogical/historical fairs and so forth, using space NARA will share with other agencies in the building. (And without a lockup in the building as there is at 201 Varick Street, the security staff in the Customs House is more welcoming to visitors.)

While there is no question the new location will be a nicer home for NARA-NYC for the above reasons, the amount of storage space for textual records and microfilm will be greatly reduced.

I would like to add from my conversations with Diane LeBlanc some additional points that are of interest and/or concern to us as researchers.

Ms. LeBlanc said that NARA-NYC is “going through a process” in preparation for the move, which will likely take place eighteen to twenty-four months from now. She sees the Customs House as having “enormous potential” for NARA. One example is that being near the Circle Line terminal for Ellis and Liberty Island visits, there is increased possibility to attract tourists to the Customs House and thus to NARA.

According to Ms. LeBlanc, NARA-NYC currently has about 40,000 cubic feet of textual records at Varick Street, but with limited space in the Customs House, only about 5300 cubit feet of records can be housed there. (The 5000 square feet reported earlier as being the total of the new space was a misunderstanding about room for the textual records; NARA will actually have about 20,000 total square feet that includes public and office space, storage room, and so forth.)

Apparently, NARA looked at a number of possible new locations and chose the Customs House as the best of the bunch. The main argument for settling for the much-reduced storage space is that patron usage is down. What cannot fit in the new space will go to a new storage facility in Philadelphia. Ms. LeBlanc says the off-site material will have the “same access” by shuttle to New York City that is now provided for other off-site materials. The frequency of the shuttle service is still under discussion.

Similarly, because of less storage space, NARA will also not be able to take all its current microfilm collection to the Customs House. Ms. LeBlanc says there is room for only about twenty percent of the film. What becomes of the other eighty percent of the microfilm has not been determined, but Ms. LeBlanc said there may be some possibilities for keeping it in New York City, if some other repository can take it. She thought New York Public Library’s microfilm collection nearly duplicated that at NARA-NYC. I told her this is not the case.

In order to determine what textual records and microfilm will likely be moved to the Customs House, NARA staff and volunteers will be “assessing” customer usage—what material, textual and microform, gets the most on-site use. (A large amount of NARA-NYC’s collection, mostly voluminous court records, is already stored off-site in Lee Summit, Missouri.) I reminded Ms. LeBlanc that much of the more-used microfilm is self-serve, that patrons take and replace microfilms themselves. This limits what staff and volunteers may be able to determine about usage. They are more aware of the usage of specific microfilms they must retrieve for patrons from the back “stacks.”

Ms. LeBlanc clarified that certification of copies of records at NARA-NYC will still be possible. Certifications needed from microfilm that will no longer be at NARA-NYC can be requested to be done at NARA-Pittsfield, or the microfilm can be brought in from Pittsfield to be certified at NARA-NYC.

She also said that over time, what textual records are actually kept on-site in the new facility could change, based on patron usage. For example, if there was increased call for ships’ original passenger lists, they might be brought in from off-site storage and less-requested material sent off site.

Two other things need clarification. First, volunteers will continue to be needed and they, in addition to helping patrons, will be involved with projects. There will be designated space for projects in the new facility, with textual records brought in from off-site for such projects as needed.

Second, the expansion at NARA-Waltham mentioned in my first letter is for public programming space. Some of this new space was formerly used to store microfilm, a large amount of which was given to the library in Plano, Texas, because, as Ms. LeBlanc explained, “no one else wanted it.”

I wrote my first letter in reaction to the response a colleague received who suggested to NARA that some of the more frequent patrons might be consulted for input about the upcoming move, records use, and so forth. The person was told that no one was going to tell NARA what to do. NARA staff has told me that, following former Archivist John Carlin’s attempt to move large amounts of material out of the regional facilities, that NARA has became more sensitive to public wants, needs, and so forth. So the response to my colleague was out of line and certainly was not good business. We expect better from an agency that has long been one of our primary repositories for the research we do.

Ms. LeBlanc agreed. In acknowledging that my first letter got NARA’s attention, she stated, “We will do this better than we did in the past.” The move to the Customs House seems set, and while my opinion is that user involvement before that decision would have been helpful and should have been sought, NARA-NYC is holding two public meetings about the move (see the announcement). I hope those of you who are interested in the move and have concerns and questions will attend. It is not clear if whatever is voiced at these meetings will change any of NARA’s plans at this point, but those of us who are concerned should go and speak up.

Here are just two of the many concerns about which some of you have written to me.

“It’s all online.” And many of us doubt it ever will be. But even with all that is available on the Internet, we have all experienced problems that take us back to the original sources, or at least back to the microfilm, for a variety of reasons, including legibility, printing, missed material, even speed. Can we be content with loosing easy access to what we now have so readily available?

Out of sight, out of mind, or never in mind at all. Ms. LeBlanc agreed that this is one area where NARA can use a lot of improvement. Many patrons have no idea what else there is beyond the Federal censuses, passenger lists, and a few other microfilmed records. With less microfilm in the public space for users to actually see some examples of what resources there are, there need to be ways of letting researchers know about the wealth of other records that might help them—microfilm and textual.

If NARA is willing to let its users work with them to do better and not just be informed of what others have decided, is that not a positive thing?

Roger Joslyn

P.S. I realize that most people who learn “what we do” usually react with, “That’s very interesting!” or “My aunt was the family historian,” and so forth. But we also frequently encounter those who cannot fathom such an interest in the past. In these instances, I am always reminded of what is carved on the National Archives building in Washington, D.C., as you all know so well: “The Past is Prologue.”

This was brought home the other night as Leslie and I viewed (from Netflix) Masterpiece Theatre’s Shooting the Past, about a photo archives doomed to the trash and the staff’s struggle to save it. We were deeply moved and saw parallels with what has happened and will likely continue to happen in our field. For those of you who have not seen this wonderful BBC drama, I strongly recommend it. In the meantime, you can read a little bit about it at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_the_Past

and in this New York Times review

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/11/21/tv/spotlight-an-imperiled-muse-weaves-her-spell.html?pagewanted=1

NYSHA Research Library Offers Genealogy Workshops


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The New York State Historical Association Research Library will be offering three workshops for both the beginner and intermediate genealogist on Wednesday, April 7; Thursday, April 8; and Wednesday, April 14.

Workshops will be held from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm in the NYSHA Research Library in Cooperstown, NY. Each session is $10 for NYSHA members and $15 for non-members. Registration required; contact the Research Library at (607) 547-1470 or via e-mail at library@nysha.org. Genealogy Workshops may be taken individually, although it is recommended that Researching Your Family History: An Introduction Part I and II be taken in sequence.

Wednesday, April 7: Researching Your Family History: An Introduction, Part I
This workshop provides an introduction to family history research and an overview of the genealogical records at the New York State Historical Association’s Research Library. Some popular online databases and websites will be demonstrated.

Thursday, April 8: Researching Your Family History: An Introduction, Part II
This workshop will teach you how to research your ancestors using major genealogical sources, including cemetery records, Bible records, church records, and other primary resource materials. In addition, Revolutionary War and Civil War soldiers will be covered. (Attendance at Workshop Part I helpful but not required.)

Wednesday, April 14: How to Find Your Ancestors in Census Records
The first federal census was taken in 1790. During this workshop, participants will learn how to search censuses and use the indexes to them in their family history research. Participants will also learn how to use the census taken by New York State.

Website Offers Free Access to Census Records


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Footnote.com, one of the web’s most popular genealogy websites, is opening all of their U.S. census documents for free to the public for a limited time. Footnote.com’s “Interactive Census Collection” has the ability to connect people related to ancestors found on the historical documents.

Clicking the “I’m Related” button for a name on the document will identify you as a descendant and also list others that have done the same. To learn how to get started with the Interactive Census, visit: http://go.footnote.com/discover.