Anyone with a genealogy interest in Brooklyn, N.Y. has likely visited the Brooklyn Information Pages. (And if they haven’t, they should.)
As I once wrote for Follow Friday, this site has been compiling and sharing all things Brooklyn genealogy since 1997. For free. (Remember that concept? People helping each other out for nothing?)
Something called “BrooklynGenealogy.com” is NOT the same thing. It is, in fact, one of those really annoying zombie-type pages that are a collection of commercial links. So I’m not going to waste keystrokes putting a link in.
Nancy Lutz, who owns and manages the Brooklyn Information Pages, put the word out on the the NYBROOKLYN Rootsweb mailing list to clarify things. Here’s the killer: The proprietor of the click-trap site told Nancy that he appreciates her site and wouldn’t “mind people finding it through me.”
As my Brooklyn relatives might say, talk about crust.
Here is Nancy’s complete post on this topic to the Brooklyn List.
I’m offering this for Amanuensis Monday, and selfishly including it in my NewsClips file too. It was the most fantastic find from my unexpected bonanza of Troy, N.Y. newspaper clippings.
My great-great-aunt Maggie Haigney Roche and her sibs certainly had their share of publicity over various birthdays, but nothing topped the ink Maggie got in 1958, when a features reporter for the Troy (N.Y.) Times-Record sat down for a talk with her as she turned 88. The result? A personality profile that not only yields the date of Maggie’s parents’ marriage, but also gives an irreplaceable sense of Maggie’s lively personality. I so want to find out who Maggie’s PR rep was.
(Amanuensis Monday is the ongoing initiative by John Newmark at TransylvanianDutch in which participants transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts.)
For Maggie’s moment in the spotlight, read on:
Yes … The Nineteenth Amendment became law, giving United States women the right to vote. How about those smiles? I can only imagine what a rush it must have been.
This happened just in time to enfranchise my mother-in-law, who came along a month later. (I love to remind my daughters of that bit of timeline trivia. The bad old days are never as far away as you think!)
We were a bit behind the curve on this one. British women over 30 won the right to vote in 1918, although it would be 10 more years before they gained the right to vote at 21, achieving true voting equality at last. (And here’s a timeline showing the history of women’s suffrage worldwide. It is particularly amusing to note the instances in which women inadvertently won voting rights through loopholes in laws that politicians hastened to “correct.”)
While I’m straying into suffrage history on the other side of the pond, I wonder if anyone else remembers a riveting 1974 BBC miniseries called “Shoulder to Shoulder”, about the remarkable Pankhurst family and the fight for British women’s suffrage. Somebody on YouTube put up this rare clip, which I cannot resist sharing.
Don’t miss the kick-ass theme anthem and (at 3:14) the scene where the tough-as-nails Mrs. Pankhurst (played by the great Sian Phillips) causes a riot in a crowded theater:
I saw “Shoulder to Shoulder” as a teenager during its U.S. release on PBS’ “Masterpiece Theater” and never forgot it. Exasperatingly, it has never been released on DVD. Come on, BBC, how about it?
Quote of the Day: “Dear Son: Hurrah and vote for suffrage! Don’t keep them in doubt! I notice some of the speeches against. They were bitter. I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not noticed anything yet. Don’t forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the “rat” in ratification. Your mother.”
— Mrs. J.L. Burn (Febb Ensminger) of Tennessee to her son, state legislator Harry T. Burn, who would cast the decisive vote enabling his state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, clearing the way for it to become law.
I’ve talked about my successes with searching New York State vital records indexes at the National Archives regional branch in NYC. That’s me; always putting my best foot forward. Today’s edition is about the other foot.
Does anyone else find themselves wishing they had a clone along for the ride whenever they visit a major records repository? I know I do.
This clone would be an idealized, hyperaware form of me (perhaps synthesized from some super-secret, ultra-octane Irish-German DNA grown in a medium of Guinness and Weissbier). It would tag along to places like the National Archives regional facility in Manhattan. I’m sure the security folks would be fine with it once we both cleared the metal detector.
Upstairs at the archives, my clone would:
• Bring the sweater I desperately need, even in high summer. The microfilm room is a MEAT LOCKER, people.
• Remember what the Soundex code for “Walker” is so I don’t have to go checking for it.
• Notice that I’m starting to nod over the microfiche viewer and say brightly: “Look at you — at that rate you’re going to miss something big! Tell you what, why don’t you grab a cup of coffee — I’ll take over for a bit.”
• Poke me as we’re leaving and say: “Hey! You found that kid’s birth for 1899 but you forgot to check the 1899 deaths for her! Just thought I’d save you an extra trip.”
I want that clone so bad.
For Wisdom Wednesday, I offer this pithy advice about the golden years from my great-great aunt Maggie Haigney Roche (1870-1964):
“Age doesn’t floor you, unless you let it!”
Maggie lived to be 94 and was a live wire right up to the end, if newspaper accounts of her doings in Colonie and Watervliet, N.Y. are any indication. Mind you, she wasn’t doing anything scandalous. She just was the sort of person who had a lot of friends and threw a lot of parties. Not a bad way to live — at any age.
In planning for a genealogy trip to New York State’s Capital District, I’m determined not to burn precious road-trip time on tasks I could accomplish closer to home.
Consider the New York vital records microfiche indexes, which list events, names, places, dates and certificate numbers (not the certificates themselves). They’re at the New York State Archives in Albany, but copies are also at several other locations across the state. For me the closest is the National Archives Northeast Region facility in New York City, a commuter’s ride away. Excellent!
The New York vitals parameters read like a particularly nasty pop quiz. Indexes begin in 1880 (for deaths) and 1881 (for births and marriages). They cover everyplace except for (a) Albany, Yonkers and Buffalo births and deaths before 1914, and marriages before 1908, and (b) the city of New York, but do include Staten Island, bits of western Queens and assorted townlands of Brooklyn and Westchester prior to annexation. Births are available after 75 years, deaths and marriages after 50 years.
Got that? Me neither. One can re-read the rules at the New York State Archives site. Do so, and carefully. Dick Hillenbrand’s Upstate New York Genealogy website has a guide to obtaining New York State vital records that is as user-friendly as things get in this cruel world.
The microfiches themselves are straightforward. The older ones run by year, alphabetized by last name. Some years (like the 1956 deaths I searched) are indexed by Soundex, however. (Never leave your Soundex cheat sheet at home, class.)
It was a good day overall. I found all the births where I had specific time frames, plus one birth listing that was a total shot in the dark (a “child died young” who was documented only on my Aunt Catherine’s handwritten Genealogy List). I also easily found death listings for both my Haigney great-great-grandparents, plus a great-great aunt. Marriages were a bust, despite diligent searching. Maybe my relatives didn’t register, or maybe my information isn’t 100 percent accurate. (I know; unthinkable.)
Confirming the existence, dates and numbers of vital records can speed retrieval (and save money) at the state Department of Health, which holds the certificates. Now I need to decide which certificates are most urgently worth ponying up for. At $22 per genealogy copy, this is a serious matter.
If you’re using the New York State vitals microfiches, I suggest these steps:
1. Make sure you really need them. For pre-1880 vitals, you need to dig elsewhere. For New York City, you need the New York City Municipal Archives. And don’t forget that Albany/Yonkers/Buffalo thing.
2. Save your sanity; narrow your date range. Use censuses, military records, family traditions, Bible notations, whatever you’ve got. Newspapers, too– stories like this one can be gold mines.
3. At the repository, tackle your “sure-thing,” specific searches first. Then do the fuzzier searches.
4. Carefully write everything down, especially if you’re sure it’s not important.