Curt Witcher Honored

The following excerpt is from the August 20, 2016 edition of News-Sentinel.com:

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Curt Witcher, manager of the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library, was honored Friday with a Hoosier Hospital Award from the office of Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The Genealogy Center generally draws more than 100,000 visitors a year.

Witcher was honored for taking exceptional steps to make Fort Wayne’s genealogy tourists feel welcome. A press release announcing the award recounted this example: “On one occasion, a group of visitors was planning to be in Fort Wayne for only a short period of time. Witcher’s nominator said he took their information before they arrived and began doing the background research for them. When the visitors arrived and found that several pieces of their family history had been assembled, they were moved by Witcher’s generosity.”

Read the full article.

Maine State Library to Digitize Historic Maine Newspapers

The following excerpt is from the August 15, 2016 edition of mainebiz.biz:

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The Maine State Library in Augusta has received a $275,000 federal grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize over 100,000 pages of historical Maine newspapers.

Any Maine newspaper printed prior to 1923 could be included in the project provided that the master microfilm is available for imaging. Newspapers printed between 1923 and 1962 may also be eligible for digitization if the publisher is willing to provide a waiver of copyright to permit the content to be imaged and shared.

Read the full article.

Thanks to ResearchBuzz for the heads-up.

Residents Volunteer in the Glenview, Illinois, Public Library Genealogy & Local History Room

The following excerpt is from an article posted August 5, 2016 at the Chicago Tribune website.

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Tucked in the back left corner of the Glenview [Illinois] Public Library, the Genealogy and Local History room is staffed by seven volunteers who keep the room open so visitors can learn about genealogy and Glenview’s history.

The room has materials that were donated in 1968 by Glenview resident Gertrude Lundberg, and volunteers watch over the room and help visitors with any genealogy or local history questions they may have, said Kimberly Schlarman, Glenview Public Library reference librarian and genealogy specialist. One volunteer recently offered to come in over the weekend, giving visitors more access to the room, Schlarman said.

The room is open whenever a volunteer is present during library hours, Schlarman said. But if a volunteer isn’t inside the room, visitors can come during regular library hours and ask a librarian to pull material from the room, she said.

Read the full article.

The library is located at:
1930 Glenview Road
Glenview, IL 60025

Coyle Public Library in Chambersburg, PA Gets a Renovation With Expanded Genealogy Center

The following excerpt is from the July 29, 2016 edition of publicopiniononline.com:

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CHAMBERSBURG [Pennsylvania] – Coyle Library is well underway in the $5.5 million renovation process, which is scheduled to be completed in the winter of 2018.

“We’re in that demolition phase,” Franklin County Library System Director Bernice Crouse said. “Everything’s pretty much on target.”

Demolition has been ongoing at the library’s old address at 102 N. Main Street, with selective demolition occurring first, followed by regular demolition. Selective demolition involves carefully removing portions of the old building the officials want to incorporate into the new design. Crouse predicts a couple more weeks of demolition will take place before moving onto the next phase, which involves concrete and steel work. The goal is to have the concrete and steel portion done sometime in November.

Coyle temporarily moved into the old Jennings Dealership building at 340 North Second Street in May for the duration of the renovation process…

The second level (second floor) will provide space for the fiction and nonfiction collections, library services, offices, an expanded genealogy center, a business center, huddle rooms and conference areas. Mezzanine seating will overlook the first floor and have full view of a Living Wall of plants to beautify the space and improve indoor air quality.

Read the full article.

Dr. Sam Wheeler Has Been Appointed Illinois State Historian

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According to an AP article posted at fox2now.com, Dr. Sam Wheeler has been appointed as the Illinois state historian. He will direct collections and research at the state historical library. Dr. Wheeler has been a research historian at the library, which is part of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

It is planned that he will also head up efforts to use Illinois’ historical resources (museums, library collections & historic sites) to further educate the public concerning Illinois’ heritage.

Read all about it at: http://fox2now.com/2016/07/27/trustees-appoint-new-illinois-state-historian/

Read another article about Dr. Sam Wheeler.

Curt DiCamillo Appointed Curator of Special Collections at NEHGS

The following is from Henry Hornblower at NEHGS:

Curt DiCamillo lecturing at a Masterpiece event for Downton Abbey at WGBH Studios, Boston.
Curt DiCamillo lecturing at a Masterpiece event for Downton Abbey at WGBH Studios, Boston.

Boston, Massachusetts, January 11, 2016 ― Curt DiCamillo, the internationally recognized authority on English country houses and the decorative arts, has been appointed the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s (NEHGS) first Curator of Special Collections, a new position commencing February 29, 2016.

A longtime member of NEHGS, Mr. DiCamillo has led highly successful heritage tours for the organization to England and Scotland, has lectured extensively in the United States and abroad, and has taught classes on British culture and art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and elsewhere. Previously, he was for many years Executive Director of The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, based in Boston, where he successfully raised over $7 million and initiated many innovative programs. In addition, he worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for 13 years. The New England Historic Genealogical Society, founded in 1845, is the leading nonprofit genealogical society in America, serving more than 150,000 constituents and millions of online users through its award-winning website, www.AmericanAncestors.org.

“For more than 170 years, we have collected family-related objects along with genealogical source materials,” said Brenton Simons, President and CEO of NEHGS. “Curt DiCamillo is the perfect person to lead our efforts in collecting, stewarding, and widely communicating ― both online and in-person ― the importance of these special holdings to our members, scholars, art historians, and the public.” As Curator of Special Collections at NEHGS, Mr. DiCamillo will provide strategic direction and expert guidance for organizing and exhibiting the organization’s extensive collection of family history-related artifacts and fine arts, part of a larger collection of more than 28 million items held by the organization. The position has been created now in anticipation of the organization’s expansion into a second, adjoining building on Newbury Street in the Back Bay in the coming years. Mr. DiCamillo will also continue to lead a series of heritage tours for NEHGS both in the United States and abroad. “The field of family history is exploding, in large part through the leadership efforts of NEHGS,” said Mr. DiCamillo. “I am so pleased to be a part of telling the compelling story of our ancestors by interpreting objects, art, furnishings, and other artifacts collected by or given to this society, the founding genealogical organization in America. Our historic objects span centuries, cultures, and ethnicities, and are a wonderful tool to better understand the lives and times of our ancestors.”

Mr. DiCamillo’s award-winning website, “The DiCamillo Companion to British & Irish Country Houses,” seeks to document every English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish country house ever built, standing or demolished, together with a history of the families who lived in the houses, the architects who designed them, and the history of the collections or gardens. He is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, and a member of the Advisory Board of Samuel T. Freeman & Co. of Philadelphia. In recognition of his work in the field of English country houses, Mr. DiCamillo has been presented to the late Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, and the Prince of Wales. His paternal ancestors hail from Italy; his maternal ancestors came from Warwickshire to Maryland in the 18th century. Mr. DiCamillo, a native of the Philadelphia area, grew up in Central Florida with his sister, the award-winning children’s book author Kate DiCamillo.

About American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society
The founding genealogical society in America, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) was established in 1845. Today it has a national collecting scope and serves more than 150,000 constituents through an award-winning website, www.AmericanAncestors.org. Since 1845, NEHGS has been the country’s leading comprehensive resource for genealogists and family historians of every skill level. Today NEHGS provides constituents with worldwide access to some of the most important and valuable research tools anywhere.

American Ancestors is the public brand and user experience of NEHGS representing the expertise and resources available for family historians of all levels when researching their origins across the country and around the world. NEHGS’s resources, expertise, and service are unmatched in the field and their leading staff of on-site and online genealogists includes experts in early American, Irish, English, Scottish, Italian, Atlantic and French Canadian, African American, Native American, Chinese, and Jewish research. Expert assistance is available to members and nonmembers in a variety of ways. The NEHGS library and archive, located at 99 – 101 Newbury Street in downtown Boston, is home to more than 28 million items, including artifacts, documents, records, journals, letters, books, manuscripts, and other items dating back hundreds of years.

Researching Irish Genealogy at the Library of Congress Primer

Irish Central just posted an nice little article on its site titled How to research your Irish genealogy using the Library of Congress. Here is an except:

Starting your research on Irish genealogy can be a daunting task. Where do I start? Where are the best places to look? What kind of information can lead me on the path to my ancestors?

The list of possible places where you could find information on your family is long but luckily, the Library of Congress (the research library that officially serves the United States Congress) has put together this small but useful referencing guide to help you get out of the blocks and begin researching Irish genealogy and local Irish history.

This reference guide will give you at least a place to start in researching your family history.
This reference guide will give you at least a place to start in researching your family history. Photo by: Public Domain / WikiCommons

Although the library admit that it is far from a comprehensive list, and as you get further into your research you may need to look to more specific resources, the guide acts as a great starter aid to get you over that intimidating first hurdle: working up the courage to start.

Not only can the aid be used within the Library of Congress but any other large library is likely to hold the same content as listed below.The Library of Congress will help you fill out your family tree. Image: Getty images.

Here are some of the Library’s suggestions:

1. Handbooks

Although some of them are now quite dated, there have been a number of handbooks published that aim to guide you through the genealogy research process. The LOC recommends “Pocket guide to Irish genealogy” (1991) by Brian Mitchell or “Irish family history” (1990) by Marilyn Yurdan among others.

READ the Full Article

FamilySearch’s Family History Library Celebrating 30 Years October 23

The following was received from FamilySearch. Click on the Infographic, then click on it again to view in full-screen mode. Click on the links to view the pictures.

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(SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, 22 October 2015) — FamilySearch’s Family History Library (FHL) in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, will celebrate its 30th anniversary on October 23, 2015. When the new facility was completed in 1985, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was already considered the foremost authority on family history research. During the past three decades, the library has been hailed by genealogists as the top research and collections library in the world—a designation it still maintains—in part, because it has evolved to keep pace with the changing demographics and demands of family researchers and the communities it serves.

“The Family History Library in Salt Lake City is unique in all the world,” said Diane Loosle, director of the world-renowned library. She explained the focus of the library has always been to increase access to the world’s genealogical records and help patrons make personal family discoveries.

“To the family historian, this library is like Disneyland,” says Loosle, “There’s no place like it. People dream for years of coming. It is the largest facility of its kind and the largest of FamilySearch’s 4883 family history centers globally. Many people begin their journey of discovery at one of our facilities.”

The Family History Library has been attracting guests and visitors from all corners of the world for three decades due to its expansive collection of resources and knowledgeable staff. “Most mornings before the library opens, people begin to queue up in front of the doors waiting to get in,” Loosle said.

It appears the masterminds behind its construction had a vision of future demands. Plans that seemed almost grandiose when construction of the edifice was announced in 1983 have not only materialized, but have also led the way through the years to accommodate ever-improving research and information gathering options. It has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1894 as a one- room repository of the Genealogical Society of Utah, just around the corner and up the street in a small building called the Church Historian’s Office at 58 E. South Temple.

The five-story building in downtown Salt Lake City today continues to serve as a repository and physical point of access for FamilySearch’s now billions of records. Instead of growing numbers of microfilm and microfiche, the influx of new records today continues digitally through online indexing, patron submissions, partner exchanges, donations from various government, religious and private entities and local records preservation and access initiatives world-wide—most of which is made available at FamilySearch.org.

The library continues to move with digital innovations, benefiting from the latest technology to preserve and provide access to the world’s genealogical records and increase the success of personal discovery. Progress in gathering, copying, and making records available has been dramatic and fast. Over 300 camera teams are digitally preserving historic records worldwide—over 100 million images per year—that are published directly online.

In this age of 24/7 access to information and growing thirst for digital services, libraries across the nation are evolving to meet the changing demands of the communities and patrons they serve, and the Family History Library is no exception.

About 25 percent of the 2.4 million rolls of microfilm stored at the Granite Mountain Vault have been digitally published online. The Family History Library itself has about 1.5 million rolls on site. As physical films are digitized, they are removed from the library. Insofar as possible, the records teams plan on digitally publishing all of the microfilm online for 24/7 access.

In 1985 family history research was a very individual experience requiring each person interested in a specific record to scroll through microfilm or search microfiche. In 1985 over 600 microfilm and fiche readers were housed in the Library. Though microfilms and fiche still play an important, though less frequently used role, a large portion of today’s research is now computer-based. Today the Family History Library boasts 550 Internet-enabled patron computers while still providing access to over 200 film and fiche readers. The Library also offers free access to film, book, and photo scanning equipment to help patrons digitally preserve and share family records.

The library is the hub of a worldwide genealogical library system—including 4,883 satellite branches in more than 100 countries—called FamilySearch Family History Centers or affiliate libraries. The library began serving about 2,000 patrons a day or 700,000 a year in 1985, and today, with FamilySearch.org and its satellite branches, it serves over 45 million guests per year.

“We know that many people will never have the opportunity to visit the Family History Library in person,” said Loosle. “So FamilySearch has been expanding its reach. We want everyone who desires to discover their ancestors to be able to do so, no matter where they live.”

Managing the Library Requires a Village
Visitors to the Family History Library find an amazing collection of resources collected over 120 years and hosts of friendly people with expertise available to help them. The Library delivers with an impressive cadre of 45 full and part-time staff, and perhaps unprecedented for libraries, 550 full- and part-time volunteers or “missionaries.” The volunteers hail from all over the world, many of them dedicating up to 18 months—at their own expense—to help patrons make successful discoveries.

The main floor of the library is specifically designed to assist inexperienced patrons in getting started. The floor has been outfitted with computers supported by volunteers trained to assist beginners. Volunteers and expert reference staff are also available for more in-depth research on the other floors dedicated to records from certain areas of the world.

On its lower level, for example, is found the largest number of Chinese clan genealogies outside Mainland China. This level is also used for storing family histories, and overflow films, and books available by request. Requests for digitalization of these and other personal books can be requested here, and is done at another facility in Salt Lake or at many of the Family History Centers and affiliate libraries.

“The library is not a repository for original documents as is the case with specialized archives; it is not an archive in that sense,” noted David Rencher, chief genealogy officer for FamilySearch. “But it accepts donations of published works of genealogical significance.” Books and serials are continually added to the library’s shelves—over 600,000 in fact—and the library is heading up an initiative with other public libraries to digitally publish historic books of genealogical relevance online—over 225,000 have been digitally published online to-date.

Future of the Family History Library
The library is focused on continuing to expand access to the world’s genealogical record collections to satisfy growing consumer demands. In 1985, the average patron was mostly retirees or professional researchers. “Today, the patron faces are changing. It is common to see working professionals, families, and even a growing number of youth amidst the stereotypical retirees and serious researchers,” said Loosle.

Loosle sees a bright future for the library. “The library is still the best place to do family history research and will continue to serve that purpose.” In addition, the library has created a lab for testing discovery concepts called the Discovery Center, a family-friendly area where families, and particularly young people, can begin the journey of self and family discovery through fun and engaging activities. Over time, similar experiences are planned to be incorporated in the Family History Library. We anticipate the exciting additions will attract thousands of new patrons who want to discover their family history.

The library will continue to develop and offer timely, free guest classes broadcasted as webinars. The schedules, necessary connection links, downloadable handouts, and recordings to past webinars are accessible online through the FamilySearch Wiki. The library also hosts a community block party in June. This year over 3,200 participants came and enjoyed a free family day including bounce houses, face painting, cultural entertainment, family history centric activities and classes. The 2016 party is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, June 11.

Begin your family discovery at the Family History Library, online at FamilySearch.org or through a local FamilySearch Family History Center.

About FamilySearch
FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 130 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tell Your Story and Upload it to the Library of Congress

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The following is from the August 10, 2015 edition of the startribune.com:

As students head back to school, here comes a big homework assignment: StoryCorps wants tens of thousands of teenagers across America to interview a grandparent or elder this Thanksgiving and upload their recordings to the Library of Congress.

The nonprofit oral history organization is asking high school history teachers to have their students record the interviews with StoryCorps’ free smartphone application. Recordings sent to the library will become part of a publicly accessible archive at the American Folklife Center.

“The Great Thanksgiving Listen” is an assignment that will last for generations, StoryCorps founder Dave Isay said.

“When young people do these interviews and they hit ‘send’ at end of the interview to the library, they know that their great-great-great-great-great-grandkids are going to get to eavesdrop on this conversation someday and get to understand where they come from, who their ancestors were,” Isay said in a telephone interview.

Read the full article.

Storycorps is a terrific site and app. I’ve got it on my Android cell phone. It works just as well for us grandparents with stories as it does for the teenagers who might be interviewing us.

Arizona’s Genealogy Library Gets Downsized and Relocated

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The Arizona Genealogy Library has now moved. The vast genealogy community was against it, as many valuable resources were not moved into the new digs. Following are links to articles both pro and con on the subject:

HeritageQuest® Online to Offer Over 2 Billion New Records

I’m thrilled see see that my old employer is moving ahead with making more records available to genealogists. Following is their news release:

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ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Later this summer, family history enthusiasts and genealogical experts around the world will have access to more than two billion new records in HeritageQuest® Online. This popular and authoritative resource—powered by Ancestry and distributed by ProQuest—is one of the largest genealogical databases available to libraries and will include records from more than 60 countries.

Appealing to libraries and researchers worldwide, the new content includes:

  • More than one billion birth, baptism, marriage, death and census records from the US, Canada, Europe, Africa, and Asia
  • 915 million US public records, including the Social Security Death Index
  • 133 million cemetery indexes from the US, Canada, Europe and Australia
  • More than 7 million names identified in a new map collection
  • 600,000 images from the Library of Congress Photo Collection, 1840-2000

HeritageQuest Online, with its remote access and international content, offers libraries an updated and comprehensive research database enabling any patron’s quest to discover available ancestral information from historical documents published worldwide.

“Our relationship with ProQuest has allowed us to add new functionality to the HeritageQuest Online product and we are pleased that we are now able to also bring more content to the platform,” said Brian Hansen, Vice President of Emerging Businesses at Ancestry.

“For the full benefit and delight of our users, who need deep and substantial genealogical data from across all continents, Ancestry and ProQuest have again evolved HeritageQuest Online to enable library patrons fill in the blank spaces of their family histories and stories,” said Andon Baltakov, Vice President of Product Management at ProQuest. “ProQuest will continue to offer authoritative resources that advance and transform the research experience for the growing community of genealogists and family history enthusiasts.”

HeritageQuest Online is a vital genealogy resource for libraries, and complements the library editions of Ancestry.com and Fold3.com. Searching of this vast and diverse collection of global records is simplified with customized search filtering, such as exact match, phonetic, location, and more. ProQuest is the market leader in providing libraries with the greatest scope of genealogical resources and historical databases, encompassing both primary and secondary sources.

Texas Legislature Increased Appropriation of the State Library & Archives Commission by $7.6M for 2016-2017

The following teaser is from the June 25, 2015 edition of bccourier.com.

The 84th Texas Legislature has increased the appropriation of the State Library and Archives Commission by $7.6M for the 2016-2017 biennium. The new funding includes resources to launch the Texas Digital Archive to preserve and make available electronic archives of state government as well as $6M to offer Texans greater access to online information via the popular TexShare and TexQuest programs. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission also gained funds in the new state budget to address salary needs and to implement a new automated accounting and payroll system.

Read the full article.

FindMyPast Library Edition Now Available in United States Libraries

The following news release is from FindMyPast:

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  • Findmypast, a global leader in family history, announces the availability of a library edition within the United States
  • Provides access for libraries, archives, and other organizations to billions of records from England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States
  • Free, no obligation, 90-day trial available

Salt Lake City – June 25, 2015Findmypast, a global leader in family history, announced today the official release of their product for libraries and organizations in the United States. The Findmypast Library Edition gives library access to billions of records from Findmypast’s wide array of collections from the United States, Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, and other areas of the world. Collection highlights include:

Amongst the billions of records now available to library patrons is the new PERiodical Source Index (PERSI). PERSI, a popular tool used by genealogists, includes more than 2.5 million indexed entries from thousands of genealogical and local history publications. For the first time, images of articles have been included in the collection – with more being added on a regular basis.

“We are delighted to bring the best resource for British and Irish family history to America’s library market,” said Annelies van den Belt, CEO of Findmypast.

The Library Edition provides tools for patrons to work in tandem with a library’s subscription and at home. Individual user accounts allow patrons to build their own family tree, save records from the library’s subscription, and continue working on their family tree. Library patrons will also have access to Findmypast’s Hints, which aids in the discovery of records from their own family tree.

Librarians can contact librarysales@findmypast.com for further information, pricing, and to start a free 90-day free trial of the product.

Pickaway County Historical & Genealogical Library Gets a Renovation

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The following teaser is from the June 17, 2015 edition of the Circleville Herald:

The Pickaway County Historical and Genealogical Library recently upgraded and renovated its facility to better accommodate patrons.

“We received an inheritance which, together with our fundraising monies, enabled us to finish the last rooms,” explained director Darlene Weaver.

Three unfinished rooms were the former press rooms for the Circleville Herald and had been used as storage for the facility the past seven years.

The Pickaway County Historical and Genealogical Library is located at 210 N. Court St. [Circleville, OH) and is open Tuesday through Friday from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to noon.

To learn more, call (740) 474-9144 or email pkwyhist@pchgl.org or visit their website at www.pchgl.org.

Read the full article.

Who Will Design President Obama’s Chicago Library?

The following teaser is from the May 5, 2015 edition of chicagotribune.com:

It’s destined to be Chicago’s architectural commission of the decade, a building that gives physical form to the soaring ideals of the nation’s first African-American president.

Which begs the question: Who will design it?

In the run-up to next Tuesday’s announcement that the Barack Obama library and museum will be built in Chicago, speculation already centers on London-based, Tanzanian-born architect David Adjaye, who was seated with Obama during a 2012 state dinner for British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Read the full article.