Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Resources for Pennsylvania Research

Carnegie-Mellon University Campus
 Philadelphia and Pittsburgh
The a3Genealogy researchers have been laboring of late in Pennsylvania research.  First there was the migratory paths project from PA to the Missouri Rhineland research, and then a large Quaker Study media project. Right when I thought we were done with PA for just a short while, I labored over a resourceful article on researching almshouses and institutionalized hospitals, that is chocked full of tips to uncover your institutionalized ancestors in a “closed state.”  This article will be published in the upcoming Pennsylvania Legacies, Historical Society of PA and it also shares light on other states.  This has been our summer. 

Brickwall Horror Show

Then, to top it off we have two rather pesty brickwalls that demanded a visit to PA. They represent the horror shows of genealogy: name changes, early deaths, PA to MO migration in 1840’s, widows remarry, repeat family names, no marriages records (or wills, or deeds or court records) to identify parentage or dates. Yep, long on family folklore, short on proof.  But, we did add to our possible hint list as we visited some fun repositories. 

Our favorite in Philadelphia was the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.  Well that was just fun. Just scouring the card catalog opened our eyes to surnames and spelling options.  Ask yourself, how many ways can you really spell Barnds.  Oh, oh, I know.  There’s Barndz, Bards, Barnitz, Barns, Bard, and of course Barnes.  And yes, we found our subject using all those surname spellings.  There were Bible Records in books - great way to find a marriage.  Thank you Charles!  And, county books, that placed the family first in Lycoming and Clinton County vs Washington County PA.  It was here that we learned that Dunstable township changed counties and the family was very active in the United Methodist Church, not just the Lutheran / Episcopalian church of latter years.. That was just from the old fashion card catalog. But we still didn’t have answers to our critical objectives so off to Pittsburgh.

Church Reviews
Understanding PA German church structure/evolution is essential.  You will need to study this on your own before an undertaking like this but here’s a basic summary. 

Unscrambling Misconceptions
Dutch PA Church = German Reform church not Netherlands
Anabaptists = Amish, and Mennonites.  Think religious freedom but often poor records, with the occasional family bible.

Then you have the following:
Lutheran --àEvangelical Lutheran Church
Reformed --à United Church of Christ
Moravians --à Unitas Fratrum, “Unity of the Brethren”
Roman Catholics

More complicated than it needs to be, but your understanding of the church names and its evolution will solve half your battles and allow you to focus your research.  And, quite frankly from this you will know what to expect.  Whereas the top ones on the list have good records, I cannot say the same for early United Methodist Church records.  For success, you may need to snuff out the pastors in hopes of getting detailed pastoral records that may assist with your family’s migration within the state, and across the nation. 


If time is limited, as it was for me, you will want to surely visit the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society library located at Carnegie Mellon University.  Here there were some great finds. 

It was here that I found more information on the Western PA Conference United Methodist Church (WPAUMC) and a few helpful resources like the Pastoral Records extracts.  This led me to the original church records needed also. 

The most delightful reference books however were the compilations of Deaths 1834-1855 and Marriages 1834-1855 and Marriages of 1856-1865 “gleaned from” The Pittsburgh Christian Advocate.

Other Resources
This research requires the genealogists to be heavily armed. 

  •         One of our favorite tools is the Methodism in Western PA 1784-1968 by Wallace Guy Smeltzer, D. D. Editor.  You may not only uncover your ancestor mentioned in the Ministerial Records, but also in various Appointments.
  •         Also,  the Western Pennsylvania conference United Methodist Church 1784-1986, provides Pastoral Appointments to Churches. 
All of our objectives have not yet been met, and we are still ferreting out hints to verify and confirm kinships, but answers are slowly trickling in. And where there was a solid brickwall, we are seeing rays of sunlight peeking through. 

Of course we had to add one more spelling of the name: Barndtz!

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Florida Territory Research

Florida Territory vs. Louisiana Purchase
Recently I showed the above map marked Florida Territory to show the complexity of where to go to unearth our Missouri  ancestors' documents.  A question from the floor was a common one, “Why does that map say Florida Territory?”  I didn’t quite grasp the meaning of the question and time was limited, but I explained that this was just a historical map to outline the complexity of Missouri when doing early genealogical research.  Later it was brought to my attention that most have forgotten the Florida territory and inadvertently lump it in with the Louisiana Purchase. Ah…this can be confusing and can inhibit the researcher from locating early ancestral documents.

From the Beginning
Missouri was the 24th state:10 Aug 1821.  Florida was the 27th state:3 Mar 1845. The Louisiana Purchase was in 1803, forty-two years before Florida became a state.  So Florida was NOT part of the Louisiana purchase. The Florida territory was ceded to the USA in 1819 by the Spanish even though colonization began in 1565 on the Florida peninsula – St Augustine.  Five million dollars of claims against Spain were assumed by the U. S. thanks to Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and the Florida Purchase Treaty.  U. S. occupation began in 1821 and Florida became a U. S. territory in 1822.  Boundary disputes were relentless, but in 1845, Florida was admitted in the Union as a slave state.

Perhaps the confusion is that the Missouri Territory was known as the Louisiana Territory until 1812. The U.S. surrendered a great portion of the Missouri Territory to Spain in exchange for Spanish Florida. Or perhaps the confusion is due to the fact that The Floridas included West Florida and extended to the Mississippi and included New Orleans. The Louisiana Territory was to the west. Both were owned by Spain. Yes, it is all confusing.

Louisiana Purchase
From the Louisiana Purchase fifteen states were created: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.

Where are the Records?
To research the Florida Territory, turn to Spanish Land Grants. Spanish Land Grants can be located on the State Library and Archives of Florida, the Florida Memory webpage and at the Library of Congress, World Digital Library. These grants were “land claims filed by Florida settlers from the 1821 transfer of the Florida territory to the U.S.  These grants cover 1783 to 1845, from the “Second” Spanish Period to the Territorial Period. Here, the researchers can find deeds, wills, correspondence, and more. 

1-2-3 What to Expect?
  1. Genealogical Information 
    Family names and ages, place of residents and more can be found in the Spanish Land Claims

  2. Land PlatThese documents help us unscramble family units and follow deeds and probates to connect family kinship.
  3. Land Claims - Some of these land claims are already translated.  Be sure to check the World Digital Library at the Library of Congress.  The claims read like a book.  They provide history of not only the land, but the families, migration information, and often provide place of origin. 
    Land Claim Gaudry
Other Resources
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) houses the following resources that may not yet be digitized:
·       Territorial Papers of the United States Senate, 1789–1873: Florida, 1806–1845
·       State Department Territorial Papers, Florida, 1777–1824: (RG59)
·       Territorial Papers (TP) of the United States: The Territory of Florida, 1821–1845.
·       Textural Records, RG233, House of Representatives Territorial Papers Collection: Colorado, Dakota, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa 1810-1872.  For Florida Territory, NARA Box 84-85 TP Box 278.

Researchers will also find eleven rolls of microfilm (M-116) that cover the State Department (RG59) Territorial Papers, Florida, 1777-1824 held at the National Archives, Atlanta.

So when researching early ancestors of this region, be sure to review the easily accessible Florida Territorial papers.  And know that you may wish to extend your research to the Louisiana Purchase and the Missouri Territory records. 

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Monday, June 26, 2017

Creating a Tour to Walk Ancestral Lands

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Stepping on ancestral land
Wiley J. Morris Descendants Following Footsteps
For a3Genealogy clients we often are requested to plan Ancestral Land Tours after completing a thorough family genealogy and DNA tests results.  Sometimes these trip connect new cousins, sometimes, it's just 1) walking the grounds, 2) seeing the terrain, 3) collecting history from a local historian 4) visiting the old homeplace.  But, rarely is it all four.

3 Keys to Successful Tour
The family research should be thoroughly documented and supported before planning a trip.  The DNA should confirm the papertrail.  But the key to the 24 Jun family Rutherfordton, NC, tour of the Wiley J. Morris family was the local historian, Robin Lattimore. His connections to the local plantations, Historical Society, and involvement in historical building preservation opened doors to this tour group that would not have been available otherwise.

1) Importance of Local Historian
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Book by Robin Spencer Lattimore
I met Robin years ago.  He had written books on the local plantations, and was helpful in uncovering the Morris free-coloreds siblings born between 1838 - 1850 through his court record index collection. Louisa Griffin who married Wiley J. Morris was a free-colored since the Revolutionary War.  Her five children fathered by then slave Wiley J. Morris were all born-free and originally used the Griffin surname.  But in 1855 Wiley J. Morris, a slave (and blood descendant from his slave master James Morris) was emancipated. Wiley J. Morris, a blacksmith and furrier, and wife Louisa and their 5 children were living free as a family unit by 1860. All were using the surname Morris in the 1860 census and thereafter.  Four of these 5 free born children however married slave descendants. So the descendants of Wiley J. Morris and Louisa include the Carson, Cox(e), Mills, and Millers, Bird, Gudger, Gross early Rutherfordton surnames and more. Read more at Wiley J. Morris Family, 1807.
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Luncheon at Green River Plantation B&B
As mentioned Robin Lattimore, the tour guide, was able to open otherwise closed doors for this ancestral tour.  After a luncheon at the fabulous B&B Green River Plantation (originally built by Joseph McDowell Carson), we were able to take a 42 room tour of the plantations. Some of these rooms would have been closed off, but Lattimore was a part of the restoration of this 1807 plantation so he could explain the artifacts, wall photos, family photos and original structure and function of the 13,000 square foot plantation house, and he had close ties to the Cantrell family. We were able to visit with Amanda Cantrell one of the current owners of the plantations. Her parents purchased the plantations in the 1980's.  And lunch was delish! If you are wanting a tour of Green River Plantation be sure to book Robin Lattimore.

2) Be Flexible for Secret Opportunities
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Morris Descendants and Family
Our tour was for 25 Morris descendants, small enough group to be flexible, and WERE THEY FLEXIBLE!. So much more could have been seen from the bus, but the itinerary was thrown out the window on our next scheduled stop.  Robin had gained permission for the tour bus to go on the private lands of the original Morris Fox Haven plantation as a short stop.  We were given permission to walk around - what a beautiful view-  and even walk up the porch.  We thought that was generous from a person who owned private lands and was not a Morris.

We knew Wiley J. Morris, born 1807, was a slave and was skilled as a blacksmith on this plantation. We know his three sons were born free, but worked as blacksmiths on this and neighboring plantations.  We know they lived on the original lands as free-coloreds on this plantation. And thanks to DNA, we know they were blood-kin to the white Morris slaveowners.  So to walk the grounds was a blessing.
Fox Haven Plantation
But, there's more!  Robin had made all arrangements with the private owner of the plantation, who unexpectedly opened the door to the Morris Fox Haven plantation and welcomed us in to a full tour of the plantation home ( again, given by Robin). No rooms were closed off.  The plantation house was smaller but still great! We were able to visit with the current owner (name purposefully withheld here). This was the Broad River land that named the "mulatto" Morris family on the 1860 census. Robin pointed out where the slaves were buried (now located on other private lands.) We doubled our scheduled time here at Fox Haven, because this was a once in a life time opportunity.

3) Supporting Local Historical Societies
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Our last stop was to be a shopping stop on Main St. of Rutherfordton.  But that was scrapped. Again, Lattimore made quick plans. He wanted us to visit the 1848 St. John Church, the oldest church structure in Rutherford County that the Carson, Morris, Coxe slaves and free-coloreds built. The slaves and blacks of the community traditionally worshiped here on Saturdays even though nowadays, it's closed on Saturdays. But we are grateful to Lesley Bush of the Rutherford County Historical Society for opening the doors for us with historical and plantation books, DVDs, and Christmas ornaments available to purchase after our historical review of the structure.  No one missed the rather quiet Main St shopping stop, and appreciated getting books signed by Robin Lattimore the author of about a dozen Fox Haven and Green River books that covered the plantations of Rutherford County as well as the PBS documentary that he did on the Bechtler Mines. His books covered all the lands that the ancestors worked on or were enslaved until their departure from Rutherford County in 1869.

This is What Family Is About
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Isaiah and Sisters
One young man on the trip from Kentucky had never met his half sisters. They only knew each other through Skype (face-time). But when the sisters who lived in NC and SC learned their little brother was coming within driving distance, they surprised him by joining this family reunion. Oh, we all witnessed the best instant family bonding that one has seen. Isaiah was overjoyed, and his sisters were the best. My last pic of them was him sleeping on the way home with his head on one of their shoulders.  Too personal to post here, but I'm sure readers can feel the sentiment and love!

Other Notes on the Trip
1) the tour bus air-conditioner went out about 30 minutes shy of the first plantation. The tour bus driver from Charlotte to Rutherfordton was able to meet the owner of Silver Fox Limousines and there was a bus exchange midway while we were eating lunch.  The bus driver returned and still had time to eat lunch and wait for us to finish up our tour.  Thank you Randy! By the time we got to Fox Haven, Randy joined us on the tour. He too was intrigued.
2) upon returning to Embassy Suites in Charlotte exhausted and exhilarated  from our all day tour (pick up at 10; return at 6) the group did a spontaneous dinner at Queen City Barbeque in Charlotte to rewind.  All 25 members, ages 11 to 89 were present (without reservations). This restaurant quickly opened up their private party room for us.  Food was good and service superb. Thanks to our servers!

Happy Ancestral Footsteps!
Kathleen Brandt

Thanks to all of the family pics - Dwight Brown, Cathy Crumbley and John B.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Few Seats Left - Rutherford NC Plantation Day

Southern Plantations, Robin Lattimore

Green River (Carson), Fox Haven (Morris), Mills Plantation 
and Sydney Villa (Coxe) Plantations

Few seats left for the June 2017 Rutherfordton, NC., (Rutherford County) plantation tour. This tour is for descendants of slaves and slave holders as well as the historical curious. 

We will be visiting Fox Haven (the original Morris plantation), Sydney Villa - the Cox(e) plantation, Green River (the Carson plantation), Mills plantation and more. You can meet us in Rutherford, or join us on the tour van from Charlotte, NC to Rutherford (few seats left). 

We hope all will join us, the more the merrier and better pricing for all!

Contact: Kathleen Brandt @ 816-729-5995
a3Genealogy @gmail.com
P.O. Box 414640
Kansas City, MO.  64141

Tour Bus, Sat, Jun 24
Charlotte, N.C.

Transportation from Charlotte, NC to Rutherfordton, NC. will be provided by a private tour bus and driver.

Registration Packet
1 Adult $85.00
1 child (under age of 15) $40.00
2 Adults $170.00
Toddlers (up to 4 years old) $20.00 for bus seat must provide own carseat as required by law.
Green River Plantation lunch and tour only -  $35/per person (no tour bus)

All registration must be received by June 10, 2017. Please provide names of attendees and age of all children and toddlers. Please also be sure to include your correct address, telephone number and email. No refunds after June 10. 


Saturday Day - Rutherfordton, NC
Tour Guide: Robin Lattimore

  • Walking with the Ancestors.  Tour Bus to Rutherfordton, NC. with driver - we can bring food and drinks on trip. The driver is ours for the day. We will be able to see and take photos of the Morris, Carson, Coxe and Mills plantations. 
  • Plantation Luncheon. Full meal luncheon banquet at Carson - Green River Plantation (it's a B&B and beautiful)
  • Tour of the Green River Plantation.  
  • Photo stops.
  • Shopping. Short shopping stop in downtown Rutherfordton.
  • Happy Hour. Return to Charlotte in time for Embassy Suites happy hour (included in room rate. 
Room Reservation
Rooms are limited: Embassy Suites Uptown is in the best area of Charlotte for sightseeing and walking and we got an EXCELLENT rate:
 Embassy Suites by Hilton, Charlotte Uptown
401 E. MLK
Charlotte, NC 28202
Tel: +1-704-940-2517
group: a3G
 Reservations are easily made online or by telephone.

Check in time: 3:00pm

Single or double suites - yes suites include free full made-to-order buffet breakfast and free nightly reception (light snacks): 

These rooms are limited, so secure your reservation early. Credit Cards are required at check-in!

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Attendee Registration Form
Forward with your check or money order:

Please list all that will be attending the union.  Be sure to include ages of all children (as of June 23, 2017).  I am able to accept registration by all major credit card (2.75% fee apply). Please call a3Genealogy for this option: 816-729-5995, or email at a3Genealogy@gmail.com.

(include age of children)

Payable to:
Mail registration to:
Kathleen Brandt
P.O. Box 414640
Kansas City, MO.  64141

Monday, April 17, 2017

Brickwall? Follow Religion Migratory Paths

Mennonites in the Vistula Delta and river valley (Northern Poland)

Using Religious Migratory Paths to Follow Ancestors
There are so many patterns of migration that we follow as family researchers: migration patterns due to wars, due to famine, due to plagues and epidemics, but what about politics and religion.  Politics and religion have always had a reciprocal causality effect, where the events in religion (or history) are either a result of ancestors' action; or ancestors' actions are the result of a religion, political or historical event.  By determining your ancestor's religion, you may be able to trace the family to a particular country.  You may even be able to develop a migratory route of immigrants, especially if they followed an expected path following religious persecution or in search for religious freedom.

Where Are the Records?
Did your ancestors come from the Netherlands before arriving in the New World, Plymouth, in 1620 instead of a direct route from England? Perhpas you should be researching Pilgrim migratory paths. It has been confirmed that the Pilgrims had a 12 year stop-over in the Netherlands.  Does this explains why you cannot find the British records expected? Using religious history and timeline references of early American history, genealogists have a useful tool to tracing an immigrant ancestors.  

Narrow Ancestor's Settlement in New World
Southern Baptist, Congregationalist, Puritan/Pilgrams
Often researchers use religious migrations to narrow ancestor's settlements. For one family project a3Genealogy researchers followed a Southern Baptist family.  As expected this Texas family was located in Baptist records in Pennsylvania, and in earlier Congregationalists records after the Puritan and Pilgrims merged. This is the expected religious evolution of traditional Southern Baptist families. Knowing that most Baptists followers were early Congregationalist allowed me to follow this religious family back to Europe. There were more than 575,000 Congregationalist in 1775. New England Historical Society and other new England genealogical societies hold many diaries, letters and reports of these church records. 

History of Huguenots
Much is written on the Huguenots and Moravians, but many fail to understand their religious evolution.  In the New World, early Huguenots settled many towns. It's not well known that many Huguenots that left France about 1562, moved to Germany (Netherlands or England) and later settled in Jacksonville, FL (1562-1565).  For more information visit National Huguenots Society.

Following a Presbyterian ancestor of the Appalachian, a family researcher may be able to trace his Scottish or Irish roots.  In 1775, there were an excess of 310,000 Presbyterians. For my family we found the John Morris, Irish family in Rutherford, NC. 

Catholic Ancestry
We can often make an association of Spanish or French Catholics in Louisiana or in other states involved in the Louisiana purchase, but did you know Maryland can boast the largest settlement of early English Catholics (1634)?  We have located ancestral records at the Maryland State Historical Society.  Perhaps your ancestor can be found in these early settlement records.  For more information visit Family Search Wiki, England Nonconformist Church Records.  
(original, 2011)
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

German / Prussia / Pommern Genealogy Research

Vital Records from Pommern, Petersen
Researching Preußen, Pommern, Ancestors - Germany
The hardest part of researching Pomeranian ancestors is finding the records, then of course it’s off to deciphering the script.  So hopefully you paid attention in your German script courses.

Begin Your Research
As with most genealogy, we suggest you learn about your region.  So be sure to understand the history and territory of Pomerania. Pomerania, today, defines the Germany - Poland border and runs along the Baltic Sea, from Stralsund Germany to the Vistula River (near Gdansk Poland and is now Kolin (Pyrzyce) within the Stargard County in north western Poland.

Compiled Resources
The a3Genealogy researchers are offering a few of our favorite resources that may assist with this search.
Family Search.  The family search wiki on Pomerania Online Genealogy Records is a good resource to have when ferreting out this family tree. 
German Roots.com. Online German Genealogy Records and DatabasesMany online resources are listed.
Vital Records: Census, Marriage, and Death records.  
Pommern Baptism Records
As Pomerania spanned to the far east side of Mecklenburg on the Baltic Sea, be sure to review the Mecklenburg-Schwerin Census Records at ancestry.com ($) and the Grevesmühlen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany, Marriages, 1876-1920Death records: Grevesmühlen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany, Deaths, 1876-1950. Grevesmühlen is one of the oldest towns in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Germany, Prussia, Pomerania Church Records, 1544-1945. 
Pommern Church Records
This collection has an index and images of the originals. Be sure to peruse both FamilySearch.org and MyHeritage ($). A portion of these records have been transcribed on ancestry.com ($) Pomerania, Germany, Parish Register Transcripts, 1544-1883.

Pomerania, Germany, Passenger Lists, 1869-1901. 
Passenger List
We encourage those with late arrivals. 1869 - 1901,  to review the ships originating in Stettin and Swinemünde (Szczecin and Swinoujscie in Polish). Remember your Danish ancestor may be found on the Stettin Passenger lists also. 

Other Resources
·         Germanic Genealogy Society: Pomerania page.
·         Family Search, microfilm #1496985, Kirchenbuchduplikat, 1794-1874, in German.  Film Description: Protestant parish register transcripts of births, marriages and deaths for Kordeshagen, Pommern, Germany; now Dobrzyca (Koszalin), Koszalin, Poland. 
·         Family Search, microfilm #896089 Kirchenbuch, 1752-1866 in German and Poland (indexed).  Film Description: Parish register of births, marriages and deaths in Kratzig, Pommern, Germany, now Kraśnik Koszaliński, Poland.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Sunday, February 5, 2017

African American Research Tips

Don’t Overlook Year Books
World War I timeframe created a lot of movement across America.  It is a time African American ancestral researchers lose their ancestors thanks to massive migrations from the south, the railroad, and industrial cities.  You may have found Uncle James in the north in 1930, but where was the family in 1920?  Even if Grandpa settled in the industrial town in Ohio, it's possible that your information about him is limited. Perhaps you have uncovered from census records or death certificate his birth state, but what about his youth?

When we are at a loss, the a3Genealogy researchers often scour the “colored school” yearbooks. Sometimes we have to practically exhaust many counties before we uncover the family surname or relative. Sometimes we have to check neighboring counties, because the closest “colored” school was located miles away.  But, we want to offer a few additional tips to discovering your ancestors' past.

What Year Books?
We aren’t always talking school yearbooks.  Have you reviewed the Negro Year Book?  Tuskegee Institute, in Alabama, began gathering information for African Americans across the nation in 1913. They not only have names of persons, but also of pertinent businesses, and social history and race issues that may assist with your family research.
Negro Year Book:  Homes for Negro by State
A favorite resource in the Negro Year Book is the listing of Homes for the Care of Adults and Children Which Are for Negros or Admit Negroes. This listing includes the facilities for orphans, indigents, as well as women homes and may further your research. 

Please know that the institutions' records are scattered, but be sure to check county and state repositories and local county court houses and genealogical societies.  Some of the institutions had newsletters that provided names, updates, deaths, etc.  A few of these yearbooks may be found online.

School Yearbooks


Most researchers check the indices of school yearbooks for their ancestors’ names but we love the advertisements also.  These ads provide us with names, locations and photographs of ancestors.

The Knoxville Colored High School, The Echo, of 1928, is in the a3Genealogy library (donated by the Parker-Douglas Family of KCMO) and we were able to use it to further our research on Professor L. R. Cansler and a few of his students. The Professor was also named in the Negro Year Book allowing us to confirm and further our research project.

Of course, the bonus is your ancestor’s school picture may be uncovered.
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Family Research Using National Library of Medicine

National Library of Medicine
Was Your Ancestor a Physician?
At a3Genealogy we are hooked on researching “off-beat” collections. When researching U. S. Army Surgeon General’s Office Autobiographical Sketches of Medical Officers, or the National League for Nursing records, or the U. S. Army Surgeon General’s Office Autobiographical Sketches of Naval Medical Officers we turn to the U. S. National Library of Medicine Archival and Manuscript (NLM)Collections. 

Our favorite collection at the NLM is The American Medical Association (AMA) Deceased Physicians Master Card File.

What Are Deceased Physicians Master Card File?
Physician Overton: From New York to Newfoundland
Did your physician ancestor disappear?  Or, are there large holes in your ancestor’s life story? The 350,000 physicians biographical cards may hold the answers. Physician biographical cards were collected and maintained by the AMA.

The American Medical Association, established in 1847, created a medical directory of its members.  The first woman became a member in 1876. African American physicians were not included until about 1888. Read: African American Physicians and Organized Medicine, 1846 - 1968. The American Medical Directory was expanded to all physicians in 1906.

The original collection of physician information was written on cards which were compiled into The Medical Directory. The information on these 4x6 cards included those who died between 1906-1969,. Researchers will find death notices and biographies of their physician ancestors who were born as early as 1850ish, to include those who graduated after 1865.

These 350,000 physical files were archived in the AMA Deceased Physicians Masterfile and published in two volumes: Directory of Deceased American Physicians 1804 - 1929.  Once compiled these original cards were discarded and not salvaged.  However, the 1864 - 1968 AMA Deceased Physician File (AMA) cards are digitized and can be retrieved from FamilySearch.org.  Biographical notes of physicians after 1969 to present are maintained in a computer database.

What to Expect?

Abraham Jacobi: Place of birth and date and countries and places of Practices to NY with photo.
In addition to “education, state licensing, and place of practice," researchers may also find their ancestors’ obituary citations, and even a noted cause of death.  a3Genealogy researchers have crashed more than one brickwall while conducting immigrant research. From where in Germany was that ancestor?  Did they practice overseas?  We have also seen ancestor’s card chocked full of controversial notes. Researchers may find a photo of their ancestor, immigrant’s place of birth, overseas practices, and even immigration information. 

One ancestor’s file had a cryptic hint of why he moved from New York to South Carolina.  A subsequent newspaper search was able to confirm and fill in the physician’s life experience.

African American Physicians
Note: High School and Places of Residence (KY, MO, AR)
For those looking for their African American ancestors the cards may not list early hospital practices since only AMA physicians could practice in the hospitals. It is important to note that the National Medical Association (NMA) founded in 1895 was an alternative to the "white-only" American Medical Association (AMA). For more information read: Creating a Segregated Medical Profession: African American Physicians and Organized Medicine, 1846 - 1910

Researchers will also note their African American ancestors were listed as “colored” in the Directory until 1939.  For more information read the following:

Where are the Files?

·       1804 - 1929 Directory is held at the AMA Archives in Chicago. This collection holds 149.000 physician biographical information.  Original cards are not available. Ancestry.com has extracted the information from the Masterfile database.
The Newberry has “special indexes to African-American, female, homeopathic and osteopathic practitioners.”
·       1864 - 1968 AMA Deceased Physician File (AMA) cards are digitized and can be retrieved from FamilySearch.org.
·       1906 - 1969 National Library of Medicine and AMA Collections (may overlap with the 1864 - 1968 Collection.)
·       1969 - Present. The AMA Unified Service Center, Chicago, IL, holds and maintains the 1969 to present biographical information on computer database. 

Be sure to review the Finding Aid at the U. S. National Library of Medicine:
             >  NLM Catalog
             >  AMA Deceased Physicians Masterfile 1906-1969

Thanks to the Archival Librarians for a3Genealogy interview on Dec 2016.

Kathleen Brandt

Accurate, Accessible Answers