Resource Spotlight: NYC Newspapers

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:

New York City Newspapers (New York Public Library)

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.


Resource Spotlight: Money Matters

This sort of thing is always fun:

Inflation Calculator: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Inflation Calculator: 1774-present

Great stuff for writing about U.S. pocket change!

The first one only goes back to 1913, which is the first year the bureau began keeping this sort of statistic. But it is the BLS, so I like to use it whenever I’ve got more recent frames of reference.

The second tool, a feature of business news/economics website DaveManuel.com, uses data from Oregon State University. I’m sure there are lots of these if you need earlier dates, although the earlier you go, the harder it can be to arrive at true equivalencies.

Still, both of these calculators are nice to have around if you’re writing about money and your ancestors. For example, in 1877 a Patrick Connors (who I think was my great-great-grandfather Patrick) took the New York State canal commissioners to task over damages to his property from Erie Canal flooding. The initial claim was for $900, or about $19,000 today. The case dragged on for several years. In 1884, Patrick’s widow Bridget Connors accepted an award of $75, or about $1,785 in current cash.

If you’re going to write about what your ancestors were paid/were fined/inherited, your first priority is to be as accurate as possible about the actual, historical amount. But giving a present-day equivalent can certainly heighten your readers’ understanding of the lives your ancestors lived.

Resource Spotlight provides a look at handy toolbox items I’ve bookmarked over the years.


Resource Spotlight: Manifest Markings

Pssst! You over there!

Yes, you, the one peering at the Ellis Island passenger manifest on the high-resolution monitor. You need this:

A Guide To Interpreting Passenger List Annotations.

This comes courtesy of JewishGen. The chart focuses on U.S. passenger lists, and is an encyclopedic look at all the squiggles, cryptic initialings, stamped words and everything else that makes a manifest such a joy to interpret (cough).

As they always say, finding the document is the fun part. Reading it is another matter. And with passenger lists, the annotations can tell an important part of the story, so you really should know what it is you are looking at. Annotations are an education in themselves, and this guide is a great place to start.

Resource Spotlight provides a look at handy toolbox items I’ve bookmarked over the years.


Resource Spotlight: NYC Directories

City directories and telephone books are indispensable for the urban researcher whose forebears are inconveniently changing apartment leases every year or two.  Obviously the major paid directory databases at Ancestry and Fold3.com are extremely helpful. I am especially in love with Fold3’s filmstrip view for quick navigation through those closely printed pages.

But for New York City, there are also a couple of open-access sources of note:

Brooklyn City Directories: Brooklyn Public Library [Current coverage: 1856-1908]

Direct Me NYC: 1940 Telephone Directories [New York Public Library]

DirectMe began as a 1940 census ED finder, but I continue to find it useful even now that 1940 is indexed. It can help you with contextual details like employment locations and businesses. And it’s always good to have another source for locating relatives who appear to have eluded the census enumerators.

Resource Spotlight provides a look at handy toolbox items I’ve bookmarked over the years.


Resource Spotlight: NY Census Chart

Well, we did New Jersey last week; now it’s New York’s turn. This nice reference page comes courtesy of the New York State Library.

New York State Census Records

Having an anxious moment about whether there is a New York state census schedule for your ancestors’ county in a given year? Put down that brown paper bag you’re breathing into and click the link above. It’s a lovely, clear chart depicting each county and the years for which state censuses are available.

New York took censuses in 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925. Many originals were destroyed in the devastating fire in 1911 at the State Library in Albany (alternately known as the Great Fire That Makes All Genealogists Cry). Some counties, however, kept their own copies, which is one reason why availability varies so much. This chart will prevent you from spending hours looking at, say, the 1892 census for Rensselaer County and wondering why none of your search terms are working. Not that this has ever happened to me.

Resource Spotlight provides a look at handy toolbox items I’ve bookmarked over the years.

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Resource Spotlight: NJ Census Questions

From New Horizons Genealogy:

Questions from each New Jersey state census

New Jersey took state censuses in 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905 and 1915. Not all are complete. In addition providing a handy reference for what was asked in each census, this page lists counties for which incomplete records exist.

Resource Spotlight provides a look at handy toolbox items I’ve bookmarked over the years.


Resource Spotlight: Catholic Churches Map

As I just said, I’ve spent a few hours reconsidering and reorganizing my links section here, which meant looking — I mean, REALLY looking — at my bookmarks. I don’t want the links sidebar to become Godzilla, but that meant leaving out some neat bookmarks. Hence:

Resource Spotlight!

Today’s Spotlight is a beautiful little Google map of Brooklyn Catholic Churches.

churchmap

This was created by Google user patatie in 2009, and lists a couple of dozen Brooklyn R.C. parishes, along with the dates they were established. I am not entirely sure that it is comprehensive, but it is a nice, quick glance at parishes in Brooklyn, and will certainly give you a good idea of just how localized Catholic identity can get in this neck of the woods.

I have a number of these little tools and snippets hanging around my bookmarks, and I’ll continue to highlight some of the more interesting ones.


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