A Special Family History Present

It seems that the older I get, the harder it is for me to answer the question, “What do you want this Christmas?”  I know my usual answer of “nothing” isn’t helpful, but it really is truthful.  My father use to say the same thing to me when I’d ask him, and out of frustration, I usually bought him a box of gold toe socks.  After he died and I cleaned out the house, I found a treasure trove of gold toe socks, many of which were never even taken out of the plastic boxes. I realize now, I probably should have just listened to him when he said he needed nothing. 

A few years ago, however, I did think of two things I really wanted for Christmas. One was a photo of my great-grandfather, and the other was a postcard photo of my grandmother, as a young woman, with her cousin Willie posing in an automobile in a photographer’s studio. My grandmother’s uncle was the photographer and studio owner, which gave the postcard added meaning.  The reason these items were special to me was because when I would visit my grandmother, she would often show them to me when relating her family stories.  I decided to ask my uncle, Jimmy, who still lived in the family house, if he could either give me the photos or make copies of them for me.  I informed him that they would make the perfect gifts for me.  My uncle, who was a life-long bachelor, was not much of a housekeeper or well organized, and because of that, I had little hope of him fulfilling my wish list. He informed me that he thought they had probably gotten damaged somewhere along the line, and we just left the conversation at that.

Last Christmas season when I visited with my uncle, he gave me a plastic store bag with papers in it.  He said he thought I might find the contents interesting.  I looked through the bag but after seeing a cremation certificate for a dog, another uncle’s old resume, my mother’s Pitman shorthand award, and other miscellaneous items, I am ashamed to admit that I just placed the bag and its contents into a back bedroom closet. I hadn’t gone through it again until my brother asked me last week, if I had a particular family document.  I pulled out the plastic store bag my uncle had given me, I went through it again. This time I was more than pleasantly surprised, because a postcard slipped out from between two sheets of paper.  It was the very same postcard I had asked my uncle for, the postcard of my grandmother and her cousin sitting in an automobile. I suspect he didn’t even know it was in with the items he had given me.  My uncle died several months ago, and if I were the type of person who believed in holiday magic, I might think my uncle were saying to me, “Here’s your Christmas present.” 

So, maybe the best gift I will get this year came wrapped up in a plastic supermarket bag.  Thanks, Uncle Jimmy!  Here’s hoping that the readers of this article will also receive a family history gem this year. Happy Holidays!

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Digitization Project for Irish Catholic Parish Records

There is big and exciting news for Irish family researchers. The National Library of Ireland is digitizing their entire collection of microfilmed Catholic parish registers.  The plan is to to make the records freely available online by summer 2015.  The library’s press release with more details about the project can be found by clicking on the following link National Library of Ireland.

 

 

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FamilySearch Photoduplication Service

I received an email stating that FamilySearch has discontinued their photoduplication service.  The service will cease on December 5, but only orders that were received on or before November 22 will be fulfilled.  The reasons given by FamilySearch for dropping the service are their digitization of records and new partnerships.  This news is especially disappointing for those who relied on the service for copies of New York vital records because it was convenient, fast, and free.  Of course, there are other ways to order copies of New York City vital records, but none are free.  I also doubt FamilySearch will digitize the New York City vital records, at least not soon, so it is a great loss for researchers. 

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Italian Genealogy

If you are just beginning to research your Italian-American roots, I have attached a bibliography to help you get started. If there is something you think should be added, please email me and let me know. I hope to revise this list in the near future with some of the suggestions I receive.  Helpful information for Italian family researchers

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Handwriting Analysis for Family Researchers

The deadline for submitting a handwriting sample has passed. Thank you to all who sent us a sample of an ancestor’s handwriting for this week’s program (Thursday, November 6 at 7:00 p.m).  Even if you did not submit a handwriting sample, you should consider attending because Paula Feldman, an expert graphologist, will discuss not just the specific handwriting samples, but she will also give general instruction on how to analysis handwriting in general.  

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Oakdale Historical Society

Genealogy and local history often go together.  For this reason, I thought those with family roots in Oakdale might be interested in knowing that Oakdale has a fairly new historical society. The Oakdale Historical Society meets every third Tuesday of the month at 6:00p.m. at Dowling College (Study on the first floor of Fortunoff Hall). The group has a Facebook page where they post events and interesting facts about Oakdale local history. You can view their page by clicking on the following link: http://on.fb.me/12bKo1U

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Organizit: Reducing your Genealogical Paper and Digital Clutter

Join us on Thursday, October 16 at 7:00 p.m. when Rhoda Miller, a certified genealogist, will provide you with tips on how to reduce your paper and digital clutter.   This program is free and open to all.

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Irish Genealogy

At the last Irish Family History Forum meeting held at the Bethpage Public Library, Joseph Buggy, genealogist and author, gave two excellent presentations on Irish genealogy. The first lecture was about researching your Irish ancestors in New York City, and the other was on more advanced techniques and resources for Irish genealogy. Mr. Buggy, who has spoken at our library, is an authority on Irish family research and hails from County Kilkenny, Ireland, so he is very knowledgeable about the townland, parish, and civil administrative practices on that side of the Atlantic. If you are researching an Irish family and missed these lectures, do not despair. You will find Mr. Buggy’s book, Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City (929.1 Buggy) in our nonfiction collection. He also has a website, “Townland of Origin,” at http://www.townlandoforigin.com/ with lots of information on resources and news items relating to Irish genealogy.

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New Ellis Island Website

If you have searched for a passenger list this month, you might have been surprised, as I was, to see that the website www.ellisisland.org has been seriously revamped. First of all, when you type in the address www.ellisisland.org, you are redirected to www.libertyellisfoundation.org. This is because they have combined the previous sites for Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Wall of Honor, and Flag of Faces into one webpage. You will also notice that you are required to re-register before searching the passenger lists. The username and password you previously used to view the passenger lists through the www.ellisisland.org website will not work. Registration is free, but there is a more commercial feel to the new website. If you are one who prefers using the Stephenmorse.org Gold Form, the good news is that it seems to work fine on the www.libertyellisfoundation.org site, but again you will need to re-apply for a new username and password before being able to view the information. I am reserving my opinion on these changes for now, and just encourage you to check it out. However, I feel it appropriate to remind you that Ancestry.com also has New York City passenger arrival lists.

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Handwriting Analysis for Family Researchers Question

A couple of people asked if the handwriting expert for our November program would be able to analyze the handwriting of someone who wrote in a foreign language. I asked Paula Feldman, who will be giving the program, this question, and she informed me that it is possible for her to analyze writing in a foreign language. She told me that just like in the English language, foreign script might have slanting, spacing, or other variations that can provide clues about the writer’s personality. However, she said she is unable to analyze handwriting in a different alphabet (such as Chinese or Cyrillic or possibly old German). Remember that you can submit your ancestor’s handwriting sample beginning October 7th. Only the first 15 samples submitted will be included in this program.

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