For such a little state, New Jersey has undergone a wealth of boundary and place name changes, with Bergen County providing more than its fair share of riches. The confused but determined researcher has a true friend in this .pdf file:
Compiled with impressive detail by Patricia A. Wardell, this file provides the full scoop on historic places from Acquackanonk to Zingsem. Wardell gives quick historical snapshots of many localities, and best of all, she cites her sources. These include county and local histories, colonial-era road surveys, church records and diaries, all of which give important insights about names the locals used for their towns and hamlets – names otherwise lost to history.
So if you find yourself squinting at a funny-sounding place name that can’t be Googled on a present-day Bergen County map, give this fascinating dictionary a try. If nothing else, you’ll learn a lot about the region’s history.
Pro tip: Pay attention to that “and Vicinity” part. Bergen County’s rich and complicated history means that a lot of the entries are connected to neighboring counties such as Passaic and Essex in New Jersey and Rockland County in New York.
Michelle’s post will also bring you up to speed on the legislative background behind New Jersey’s state censuses, and why they ended, in case you are like me and find this sort of thing extremely satisfying to know. Thanks, Jersey Roots!
Once you’ve fiddled with GPS coordinates and old address books and decided that you’ve located a great candidate for your ancestor’s Catholic church on a present-day map — you do not want to find out it was only founded sixteen years ago. Save yourself some grief with …
It also covers some of the parish mergers that make genealogy in these urban parts so interesting nowadays, although it may not be 100 percent up to date in that department. It’s a starting point, anyway.
Look, I’m completely gobsmacked over here, clicking madly through photo after photo and saying to nobody in particular: “Will you just look at THAT!” Don’t expect any pearls of prose. Why don’t we just go with the description provided:
“… a web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI).”
Then hit that “Start Exploring” link and start clicking on any location on that map of the United States. Use the sliding tool bar at the top left to narrow or broaden your time frame as desired.
Leave a note for your loved ones explaining that you’re going to be away from them for a while.
(and a BIG h/t to my friend Jodie Slothower at the English Department of Illinois State University.)
Been a while since I did one of these — and this sure came in handy the other day:
Befuddled by someone’s Beruf? This is a collection of dozens of archaic German words describing what people did for a living. For me, it cleared up the designation “Komiss” on a manifest. This term (and similar ones such as Kommerziant) were used to describe sales clerks and the like.
I found it easiest to use when I did a text search on the term I was wondering about. Lots and lots of words here — maybe you’ll find one of them useful.
We have Milan Tyler-Pohontsch at European Roots to thank for this fascinating list.
If you have a vintage document with a Staten Island address, and Googling it gets you nowhere, you should visit this site:
This invaluable tool comes courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York and the Richmond County Savings Foundation, and it uses the overlapping-image technique to perfection.
From the home page, click “Explore the Maps.” You’ll open a window whereupon a map of present-day Staten Island is on your left, and a drop-down menu of historic maps is on the right.
Zoom in on the area of present-day Staten Island that interests you. Then, on the drop-down menu, click on a vintage map. Your map image will change to show you how the present-day area was drawn on the historic map.
One important caveat: Great as the site is, you must do your homework to get the most out of it. For example, I recently used it to gain insight into an address on a 1920 death certificate: 12 Ocean Avenue. There is an Ocean Avenue in present-day Staten Island, not far from Fort Wadsworth and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. That could have been the place I sought, except that the full address on the death certificate was 12 Ocean Avenue, Oakwood Beach. The 1917 and 1922 maps at Mapping Staten Island confirmed that this 1920 death occurred in a different neighborhood altogether from present-day Ocean Avenue.
(Note: Oakwood Beach took a devastating blow from Superstorm Sandy last year, and the road to recovery continues to be a long one. This article is a great look at the courage and resourcefulness of neighborhood residents in the face of the challenge.)
Resource Spotlight is a continuing look at useful resources I’ve bookmarked over the years.
Although I studied this stuff in my journalism classes, I admit that every so often I look up and say to myself, “Geez, New York City had a lot of newspapers.”
I mean lots. Some had short runs, some went on for decades. Besides the usual general-interest, all-the-news-that’s-fit-to-print publications, there are dozens targeted to specific populations, whether by ethnicity or simply interests. Ergo:
This is a .pdf format list of what the NYPL has available on microfilm. It is a nice thing to consult before a trip to the NYPL’s microform research room. The NYPL is a lot like the FHL in Salt Lake City that way. You don’t want to waste precious time there figuring out where to look — you really, really should do that beforehand and hit the ground running.
Anyway — for newspapers, check out this list. And note the large numbers of publications in languages other than English. These can contain hidden gems, as this story of research into victims of the Triangle Fire indicates. So if you have even a little reading ability in the language of interest, they are worth checking out. Happy hunting, etc.
Resource Spotlight provides a look at handy toolbox items I’ve bookmarked over the years.