A Bit of Library Magic: Ancestry Library Edition

I believe in library magic. I’ve seen it many times in my sixteen years with the Seattle Public Library. Now some may wonder “What is library magic?” Well, its finding that newspaper article from 1937 that talked about your grandmother, discovering that movie you grew up watching over and over as a child and enjoying it now as an adult, chasing down the book your mom used to fall asleep reading and you would make sure to mark her page before turning off the light, and its tracking down a relative from searching family trees in Ancestry Library Edition.

My personal story with library magic was the latter. I had been playing with Ancestry off and on over the years, but it wasn’t until I started looking at the Ancestry Library Edition database we offered that I really got pulled in. I focused on my mother’s side because they kept the best records and slowly found our native home: Roscommon, Ireland. Continue reading “A Bit of Library Magic: Ancestry Library Edition”

Sharing Our Stories: Family History Storytelling at Northeast Library

by Tom M.

Gomez 1915Every family has interesting stories. In my own family, both my wife and my sister have started to think about how to present all that they have discovered about their own families.

The library can help everyone learn how to tell these family history stories, starting with an innovative workshop on the subject presented by genealogy librarian Mahina Oshie at the Northeast Library on Wednesday, October 22, from 6-7:45 p.m.

Come to learn about library, community and Internet resources for uncovering, recording, writing and publishing your own family history stories, as part of the library’s Sharing Our Stories storytelling program series. Continue reading “Sharing Our Stories: Family History Storytelling at Northeast Library”

Who’s you mama? Who’s your daddy?

by Jen Baker and John LaMont

Conwy Castle in Wales, image courtesy of The Ancient Brit, via Flickr.Most of us at one time or another wonder about our ancestors: where they came from, how they got here and why they came. My family came from Germany, Wales and England and I’ve traveled to all three. Curiously, I made an emotional discovery in Wales – I felt I belonged there: I delighted in repeating town names like Llangollen and Aberystwyth and when I stayed over in Conwy, it felt like home. Why is that? Twenty years later (okay thirty) I researched the history of northern Wales and checked my family tree for the Miles brothers who came to America in 1799 from Wales. I found that the James and John Miles of Radnorshire, listed on my genealogy, were actually inhabitants of what is now Clwyd County where Conwy is! Do we have some sort of ancestral memory that goes beyond DNA?

Many fiction authors write about these déjà vu or dream connections with our ancestors – the covers of these books in the 1970s showed manor houses in the rain, sometimes with scared girls in nighties running about on the lawn. Readers who love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, beginning with Outlander in which Claire Randall travels back in time to confront her husband’s ancestor, will understand this fascination with ancestry. Novels allude to this tendency of the dead to stick around as in Francis Cottam’s The House of Lost Souls: sometimes a house ghost alerts the protagonist to a horrible crime from the past, or an object carries a message from the past to the right person, as in Louise Erdrich’s The Painted Drum. Or, even creepier, a familial ghost inveigles its way into a character’s life as a controlling influence, as in Sarah Waters’ book, The Little Stranger. Continue reading “Who’s you mama? Who’s your daddy?”

The 2010 Census information released…has it really been 10 years?

Just recently the Census Bureau released the first of its 2010 Census statistics for Washington State.  And more information will be forthcoming over the next year.

And that is so important for all of us in Seattle, King County and Washington State.  Why get excited?  Here are a few reasons why we should all care what it says.

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census is used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and to redistrict state legislatures.  The first census was done clear back in 1790, by order of Thomas Jefferson.  That census still exists and gives an incredible look at our nation shortly after it’s founding.

“The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”

Today, Census data is used to by all levels of to government to define legislative districts, school districts and other special districts.

Census data is also an essential tool for business owners who use the demographic and economic data gathered to make strategic decisions that can spur and sustain economic development; these include selecting the location of retail stores or facilities, making informed marketing decisions, understanding customer demographics, and more.

And a really big reason…  Money!

Every year, the federal government distributes hundreds of billions of dollars to local, state and tribal governments based on census data. These data are used in many ways that can improve the quality of life for all citizens by:

  • Helping leaders determine where to build new schools, roads, health care facilities, child-care and senior centers and more.
  • Helping fund community initiatives and programs important to immigrants – including education, job safety, English-language programs and enhanced legal services.
  • Helping implementation and evaluation of programs, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act.
  • Assisting with planning for education, housing, health and other programs that reflect diversity in the community.

And finally, in this short list of reasons for people, especially people interested in family history, to celebrate the 2010 Census:  In just 72 years our future family members will be able to look us up in the Census lists, just as we can use Ancestry and other library resources to look at past census rolls (currently up to 1930 with 1940 scheduled to be released next year) and see our grandparents and great grandparents, and where they lived.

More information is being release all through the summer.  Look for it!

May Question of the Month – an irregular series

How can I get a copy of the Seattle newspaper birth announcements for babies born Sept 1st 1967?

With your Seattle Public Library card you have unlimited free remote access to our subscription database the Seattle Times Historical Archives. (the link will take you to a page where you will need to input your library card.)  These are the searchable images of the entire digitized newspaper for 1900-1984! This file is made available courtesy of a generous gift of the Seattle Public Library Foundation.

The “Seattle Times Historical Archives” is located on our website: http://www.spl.org/library-collection/articles-and-research/databases-a-z 

During the 1960’s there was a “born yesterday” column in the following day’s paper. We’ve scanned the column for September 2, 1967 and attached it to this answer. If the information you need is not included, you can check other dates by using the links we’ve supplied!

Got a stumper? Click on Ask a Librarian. It’s what we do.