Friday, December 28, 2012

Documenting Ireland Parliament, People and Migration


Researching Irish Ancestors
Have you searched the Documenting Ireland Parliament, People and Migration (DIPPAM) website yet for your Irish Ancestor who may have spent time in America or Canada, or elsewhere? DIPPAM's online collection of 3 databases is populated with documents " relating to Ireland and its migration experience from the 18th to the late 20th centuries."

3 Irish Databases on DIPPAM Website
  • State and Management of Tontine Annuities
     granted in Ireland in 1773
    Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland (EPPI) Collection.

    Many researchers interested in their Irish ancestry overlook the early Irish Act of Union papers pertaining to when Ireland became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.  Even though, you would not expect to see your ancestor’s name in one of these documents, imagine the surprise of those finding genealogical information in the EPPI Collection of the State of Management of Tontine Annuities granted in Ireland in 1773Over 15,000 documents of British Parliamentary papers from 1801-1922 relating to Ireland provides great social history of this period. As a bonus, these records include Canada, Australia, New Zealand and even the USA.   
  • Irish Emigration Database (IED) What a collection of emigrant letters, family papers, diaries and journals! And who doesn’t love a letter filled with family and community news? There are over 33,000 documents in the IED database dated between 1700 -1950.  Many capture the mass Irish emigrations from 1820 - 1920 like that of Henry Moore of Augusta GA who penned a gossip filled letter to Wm. J C Allen in Belfast in 1835. 
  • Voices of Migration and Return Oral Archive (VMR).  Ninety-three returnees and migrants from nine counties of Ulsters shared their life via interviews. These oral accounts detail experiences from 1930 - 2000, but the majority during the Northern Ireland conflict of the 1970’s. 

    The interviews are contemporary, but the family information is filled with good genealogical information tracing migratory paths.  Listen to Helena’s (“Ena”) interview #1 Birth, Kent England, parents, siblings
    .  Ena not only gives her history from England (1927), to Ireland, and life in Detroit,  but tells much of her father's, a British subject born in Cork; and that of her Belfast-born mother and grandparent
    Enjoy your Irish research.

    Kathleen Brandt
    Also Visit Our Website: 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ancestor Research in War Department Papers

Central Decimal Correspondence Files,1940-1945
One of the best treasures held at the National Archives and Records Administrations’ (NARA) is the War Department Correspondence Files. Military, historical, and family researchers may find correspondence from ancestors, written accounts detailing veteran ancestor’s medical discharge, as well as personal letters, telegraphs, and notes regarding political and civil theoretical postulations. Citizens’ correspondence is also saved in these files. 

Where to Find War Time Correspondence?
Beginning in 1914 collections of correspondence have officially been filed and systematically classified according to the War Department Decimal File System. The textural records are held at NARA II, College Park, MD.

Although correspondence is filed much earlier, one of the best collections is for the WWII era, Central Decimal Correspondence Files, 1940-1945. 
The series consists of letters, memorandums, and other administrative documents that relate to activities of the War Department during World War II. The records were maintained by the Adjutant General's Office. Included in the decimal files subseries are records pertaining to organizational data filed under the following file designations: 020 (organization of major Army branches); 320.2 (personnel strengths of specific commands and units); 320.3 (authorized tables of organization); 322  [companies and field hospitals] (activation, composition, and operational histories of specific commands and units); 370.5 (unit transfers and movements); and 400.34 (tables of authorized equipment allowances for units). Personnel information for select individual servicemen is scattered throughout the files, including general information, under file designation 095 and information about awards of decorations and medals (file 200.6), discharges and separations (file 220.8), American prisoners of war (POWs) (file 383.6), and determinations regarding dead and missing servicemen (file 704). The decimal files subseries also includes records pertaining to the military utilization of and racial incidents involving African Americans (file designations 291.2 and 291.21). These files also include correspondence with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and general information regarding segregation policies. Included in the project files subseries are records pertaining to the U.S.S.R. and the Philippines (filed under Foreign Countries); military aviation (filed under Aviation Schools and Flying Fields); and extensive information on officer and enlisted reserves, the National Guard, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), and the Women's Army Corps (WAC) (filed under Special Projects).
Other favorites are the Surgeon General – Army files, 321.01; Officers and Enlisted Men in hands of Civil Authorities, 250.3; and Summary Courts 250.414.

Looking for Details on Ancestor’s Discharge?
Genealogical - historical researchers will want to delve into the War time collection especially to gather an ancestors’ medical discharge (Section II). It is here that researchers can find correspondence between the Adjutant General and Surgeon General and military medical facility leading to a Certificate of Disability Discharge (CDD).

For the WWIII era, in order to have received a Section II discharge there would have been a hearing before a board of medical officers and a Certificate of Disability Discharge would have been issued.  The CDD would then be forwarded to the Adjutant General and a letter sent to the Surgeon General from the hospital. Often the medical event is well noted and discussed prior to the veteran’s discharge date. For Decimal Correspondence of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1917 -, be sure to also review Record Group 407.

Did Your Ancestor Write the War Department?
Myrtle Smith, abt 50 yrs old.
Wife of George Smith,
local mechanic, living on Rhode Island Street
Lawrence, KS

It is also in these Correspondence that researchers can uncover perhaps a letter penned by an ancestor making administrative or personal requests.  When Mrs. Myrtle Smith, Lawrence, KS pleaded to the War Department to halt consideration of stationing “colored trainees” between Lawrence and Topeka for the war effort Jun of 1941, it was customary for the Adjutant General to respond to alleviate her fears. This one letter from a concerned citizen generated several personal exchanges.  

Happy Holidays, and wishing Santa to leave you a gift for NARA Research.

Kathleen Brandt

Monday, December 10, 2012

Researching Your Paiute Indian Ancestor?

Nevada Native Americans
If your Native American ancestor was from western Nevada, be sure to include the Paiute (Pah-Ute) Indians in your search. Actually the Paiute Natives are often subdivided into Northern Paiute which included northwest Nevada, flowing into Oregon, Idaho, and California. The Southern Paiutes can be placed in southern Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and of course, California. There are over 30 bands of Paiute Indians (see listing at the page. 

Tips in Researching
  • Do not limit your research to reservation only, as many Paiute’s did not live on the reservation, but often worked on ranches of white families 
  • Keep in mind that many Paiute’s were considered nomadic in the earlier years, and stripped of land due to wars, railroads in the latter. So it is best to research and understand the migratory paths of the various bands. 
  • The Paiutes were originally a unique Native American tribe, but in later documents (see Census) researchers may see the reference Shoshoni-Paiute, especially on the various Nevada reservations. 
  • Paiute’s carry the nickname of Numa (“The People”). 
  • Today’s reservations in Nevada established between 1859-1891 include Moapa, Pyramid Lake, Walker River and the Shohone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley reservation.
        6 Great Places to Search?
  1. Tribal Records: Your research may include the Fallon Band, Sho-shone or Ft. McDermitt in Nevada (or U-tu Utu Gwaitu Paiute in California). A great first step is to determine when a reservation was established/ This may assist in tracing your ancestor to a reservation: (i.e. Duck Valley Reservation, established in 1877; Walker River Tribe, established in 1859, etc.)
  2. Federal Government: NARA: Be sure to search the National Archives (NARA) - Pacific Regional Archives in San Francisco for records of the Nevada Agency available for 1895-1975.
  3. Nevada State Archives located in Carson City, holds an impressive collection on the Paiute Indians. However, we have uncovered data and information in newspapers, at historical societies, and museums throughout Nevada to include the Clarke County Museum and at the Nevada State Museum in Las Vegas. 
  4. indexed the Walker River Valley, Nevada Paiute Indian Records, 1902-1906, located south of Lake Tahoe. Although not complete, this database covers 2000 of the reservation residents from 1902 to 1906.  The best part of these records is they provide the Native American name which may further your family research.
     Indian Census Collection has also indexed the US Indian Census Rolls, 1885 - 1940. There are over 1500 names listed in the census for the Paiute Indians listed in Nevada (some may include Shoshoni’s). (NARA microfilm of Federal Indian Census Rolls, DC - M595).
  5. Special Collections. The California State Military Museum houses some accounts of the Paiute War (1860):. However, newspapers and other collections held at local and state museums will help the researcher on this quest. A good example is the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitor Center
  6. School Records. As with much research school records/documentations, may help in uncovering Paiute ancestors.  In Nevada, the Stewart Institute boarding school was opened  from 1890  - 1980. Be sure to check records of faraway schools also. Recently our search at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS proved fruitful for our Paiute ancestral search.  For school records search research should be conducted at the NARA- San Francisco. Reference Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Records Group (RG) 75.20.4 Records of the Carson/Stewart Indian School, NV
Of course if you need to combine research with pleasure, remember the Tudinu, Las Vegas Paiute Tribe

For further information:

Stewart Indian Museum, Carson City, NV 

Kathleen Brandt

Friday, November 30, 2012

Military Station Hospital Records and Correspondence

Another National Archive Treasure
Family researchers are quick to request the Veteran Administration files of their ancestors. They also scour the medical reports and notes of injuries found in the veteran’s service records. Both of these medical based files give us a bit more about our veteran: place, injury/illness,cause of injury or illness, duration of time for recovery, etc. But rarely do researchers uncover medical reports and injury reports from the field Station Hospital. These valuable reports and associated correspondence can provide the researcher with additional information on troop events and activities, station information, early discharges and demotions. Plus they may fill in the gaps that the Fire of 1973 has left us.  We all know “…between 16-18 million Military Personal Files were destroyed in the fire of 1973 at the St. Louis National Personnel Records Center. This fire destroyed about 80% of Army records from Nov. 1 1912 to Jan. 1 1960; and 75% of all Air Force records from Sep. 25. 1947 to Jan 1. 1964.”

Military Station Hospital Records
Camp Hospitals kept records. The Adjutant General kept reports and the Surgeon General’s Office was kept abreast. There are impressive amounts of documentation and correspondence resulting from the station hospital records, and the best place to begin your search is with the Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (RG112).  Of course your pre-work, as explained below in the Case Study Brief, should have been completed, prior to taking on this NARA task. 

What to Expect?
The Surgeon General Annual report will not name your ancestor by name, but provides an overview of the hospital patients: number of disability discharges, mental issue occurrences, venereal disease issue, camp hospital outbreaks, etc.  

So, Where’s My Ancestor?
It is in the correspondence that you will find your ancestor’s name. Be sure to understand the process. 

  1. The hospital reports are forwarded to both the Veterans Service File (hopefully salvaged and safely archived in your ancestor’s file at the National Personnel Record Center, St. Louis) and a copy was traditionally sent to the Adjutant General’s Office (AGO).
  2. The AGO may maintain these records, but usually they were forwarded and are stored at the NARA in College Park (for Modern Military). However, you may also wish to check State Archives, and regional Archives. 
  3. RG407 Research
    The Adjutant General keeps the Surgeon General’s Office (SGO) abreast, and often has to notify the SGO for both disciplinary actions (in case of injuries caused by neglect which includes venereal disease) and for discharge due to medical reasons. The correspondence can most often be located in the AGO Decimal Correspondence of RG 407.2.1 Be sure not to disregard the Decimal Files of the Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1917 -
     even though there are over 5, 018 rolls of microfilm from 1948-1962 in the Decimal Correspondence (RG 407.2.1) alone.
It is in this chain of correspondence letters, notes, telegrams, that you may find your ancestor discussed. Know the common flu, unless resulted in death or discharge, did not warrant descriptive explanations to the AGO or SGO. However, you can find out if there was a flu outbreak using the SGO Annual Report.

Where Are Surgeon General Records Located?
As to not be confusing, please note that the Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (RG112) are not just held at the NARA in College Park, but also at the Regional Offices: Atlanta, Ft. Worth Texas, Waltham, MA etc.

Case Study Brief
A recent case of a burnt fire only held a veteran’s Certificate of Disability Discharge. It was clearly noted that the veteran was discharged on Section II - physical disability.  The veteran only served for 2 months and was discharged. Why? This document presented us with more questions than answers beginning with for what “physical reason” was he discharged?

Prior to fishing through the massive NARA Surgeon General and Adjutant General’s Correspondence, be sure to closely review anything in the veteran’s service file, (i.e. last pay voucher, discharge papers). Then it’s time to scour Morning Reports for the troops and years of your veteran.  These vital troop reports can narrow the dates of your ancestor’s injury, activities and locations. If your ancestor was removed to the station hospital, he is usually named at the time of hospital entrance and return to duty. However, rarely is it explained why he was sent to the station hospital. For this reason the related correspondence is needed.

Kathleen Brandt
accurate, accessible answers

Monday, November 5, 2012

Female Ancestor Citizenship Confusion?

Loss of Citizenship
(Part II of Citizenship and the Law. Click here for Part I)

If you are confused by the documents that state your American born female ancestor was not a US citizen, you are not alone. Tracing one family, the woman was a citizen as a child, had her passport application denied because she wasn't a citizen, then later applied for citizenship. 

Shaking my head to the confusion, once again I researched the laws of the time for answers to discover the moving citizenship requirements that were imposed after the Naturalization Act of 1906. Interestingly enough the Naturalization Act was created to standardize the naturalization procedure and citizenship requirements. Yet from 1907 to WWII, citizenship laws impacted American born women, leaving the men unscathed.

What to Look For?
Did your female ancestor marry a foreign national?  The Expatriation Act of 1907 declared that an American woman who married a foreign national or alien lost her US citizenship.  So from 1907 -1922 women born in the USA lost their citizenship when they married foreigners, but could only be repatriated when their husbands became naturalized citizens. 
  1.  Did you female ancestor marry an Asian? The Married Women’s Citizenship Act of 1922, also called the Cable Act, reversed most of the Expatriation Act, except in the cases of an American woman being married to an Asian.  From 1922 - 1936 the Cable Act still stripped American citizenship to those married to Asian aliens. 
  2. The law became more woman friendly by 1940.  At this time women were allowed to repatriate if they lost their citizenship between 1907 – 1922 due to their alien spouse.  However, to restore her US citizenship, the American-born was required to apply for citizenship and take the oath of allegiance.
What About Men who Married Foreign Nationals?
Surely you didn’t expect the same loss of citizenship to be reported for men during this timeframe?  Neither the Expatriation Act of 1907 nor the Cable Act applied to men. However, the flow of immigrants was controlled by the Immigration Act of 1924 which limited European immigration and banned Asian immigration to the United States. (Note the exceptions below).

During WWII the Immigration Act had to be repealed when approximately one million American soldiers married foreign women from 50 different countries. Visit the War Brides in Citizenship and the Law.  

For More Information
Be sure to review the Harvard University library Open Collections Program, Aspiration, Acculturation and Impact – Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930. Here is an excerpt of the timeline provided: 

1906    The Naturalization Act of 1906 standardizes naturalization procedures, makes some knowledge of the English language a requirement for citizenship, and establishes the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization in the Commerce Department to oversee national immigration policy.           

1907    The Expatriation Act declares that an American woman who marries a foreign national loses her citizenship.
Under an informal "Gentlemen's Agreement," the United States agrees not to restrict Japanese immigration in exchange for Japan's promise to voluntarily restrict Japanese emigration to the United States by not issuing passports to Japanese laborers. In return, the US promise to crack down on discrimination against Japanese-Americans, most of whom live in California.

 1911   The Dillingham Commission warned that the "new" immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe threatens to subvert American society. The Dillingham Commission's recommendations lay the foundation for the Quota Acts of the 1920

1917    Congress immigration from Asia, except for Japan and the Philippines. The Immigration Act of 1917 restricts immigration from Asia by creating an "Asiatic Barred Zone." 

1921    The Emergency Quota Act restricts immigration from a given country to 3% of the number of people from that country living in the US in 1910

1922    The Cable Act partially repeals the Expatriation Act, but declares that an American woman who marries an Asian still lose her citizenship                   

1924    The Oriental Exclusion Act prohibits most immigration from Asia, including foreign-born wives and the children of American citizens of Chinese ancestry.                                         

1934    The Tydings-McDuffe Act grants the Philippines independence from the United States on July 4, 1946, but strips Filipinos of US citizenship and severely restricts Filipino immigration to the United States.   

Kathleen Brandt

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ancestor Citizenship and the Law, Part I

Australian War Brides
Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor
When did your ancestor become naturalized? Where is the certificate? Family researchers must be familiar with laws, acts and regulations before launching a full ancestral search. The path to citizenship has taken various courses throughout history based on laws, regulations and politics.

Derivative Citizenship
Fact: Not all of our ancestors received a Certificate of Citizenship.
As early as the first Naturalization Act of 1790 foreign born minor children became US citizens through their parents’ naturalization.  This derivative citizenship path did not require the issuance of a Certificate of Citizenship to the minor. So your ancestor, if they entered the USA as a minor, would have become citizens via their parent’s naturalization but not necessarily been named on the Certificate.  This process continued through August 1906.the Certificate.  This process continued through August 1906.

After Sept. 1906, minor children were listed on their parents’ Certificates of Citizenship, but were not issued their own certificates.  Note that the federal government became the custodian of naturalizations after that date resulting in a more uniformed issuance of citizenship and requirements.

The Immigration Act of 1924 established limited European immigration and banned Asian  immigration to the USA. This quota system was not liften until 1945.

War Bride Citizenship
Have you ever wondered how your War Bride ancestor left foreign land to set up home in the USA? Take a look at the old Good Housekeeping Magazines. The magazine during the WWII era advised the War Brides on how to set up house  in USA! This publication partnered with the US Office of War Information

This was considered a needed service especially for estimated fifty thousand (up to 100k) British brides that came to the USA as new wives to WWII and Korean veterans.  About one million soldiers married foreign women from 50 different countries overseas between 1942-1952; enough to inact The War Brides Act of Dec 28, 1945 which temporarily lifted the limits on immigration. This Act allowed spouses and adopted children of military personnel to enter the United States, but they were not granted automatic citizenship. 

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Red Cross role in supporting and assistance in readying the war brides for their overseas travel. Red Cross workers even provided escort services. In additon to the British war brides there were approx. 7,000 from  France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg; , and 8,000 from Australia and New Zealand.

To search for your war bride in the USA, begin your research using the NARA, Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at the Port of NY, 1944-1948 (M1417).  Up to twenty military ships provided transport across the seas. Keep in mind that some of the brides chose airlines to America!

Copies of naturalization and citizenship certificates may be found online: see, or ordered via the website.  

Military Naturalization 
Researchers of immigrant ancestors have already learned that many veterans were naturalized while serving in WWI and WWII.  But many find it shocking that after the Sept 11 2011 attacks, immigration laws and the USCIS procedures continue to make it easy for military personnel to naturalize.  When researching your more recent immigrant ancestors, know that about 29,000 foreign born serve in the US military today and are not American citizens. Approximately 8000 permanent immigrants with green cards join the armed forces annually.  The idea is “persons serving honorably in active-duty status in the US Armed Forces at any time on or after Sept 11, can apply for citizenship, even if they have only one day of .honorable active duty service and regardless of how long they have been a US resident.”  Begin your search with the veteran’s military file: Veteran Service Records 

Canadian War Brides
Although this article is not about Canadian War Brides, I want to share with our Northern research friends that Canadian War Bride passenger lists for 1946-1947 are online at . Be sure to visit the Canadian War Brides website.

Finding Other Records
Here are a few additional searchable links:
Australia: National Archives of Australia - Leaving Brisbane:  (see mid page)
British: Indexed files searchable by surname at Warbrides UK 

Be sure to also visit: Female Ancestor Citizenship Confusion.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Identifying Revolutionary War Era Parents

-->Five Basics Steps
Beating The “Now What?” Syndrome

In genealogy research where each region has records reflecting its community and where each era and generation of records evolve, we are reminded daily that historical record searching is never static.  Yet, there are still some basic guidelines to follow. Here is a sample of my strategy for identifying Revolutionary War Era parentage.  It’s simple, but it puts me back in action when I’m paralyzed with the “Now What?” Syndrome.  

1) Land Inheritance. One way to prove parentage is to prove land inheritance.  These records can show when and where the land was probated and to whom.  Often the eldest son, if not a minor, inherited the land.  However, the land could also be left to the wife.  In the interest of minor children, names may be revealed showing kinship. Records can also show the relationship of siblings or other family members.

2)  Church Records. During the Revolutionary War Era churches kept a lot of family records to include children baptism, christening, marriage banns, and licenses.  You are doing a disservice if you haven’t researched these genealogical gems.

3) Guardianship. Mothers were not usually granted guardianship of their minor children during the Revolutionary War Era, but if they did, it usually was through the court system. So a guardianship record should be available for any minors.  These records would list minor heirs and guardians and maybe even other inventory and probated information. 

4) Newspapers. Don’t forget old newspapers. Sure they usually aren’t indexed, but you may get lucky with a local library or State Archive.  Some of these repositories (like both the Mo. State Archives and the Kansas Historical Society), may have a surname index in their card catalog.  Don’t underestimate the holdings at these repositories. At minimum, old newspapers are often preserved on microfilm at these repositories.  What a great way to spend a bad climate day!

5)  Cluster Analysis. To show direct lineage there may not be a direct line. Keep alternatives in mind.  For example by tracing a sibling and proving the brother-hood connection you could be lead back to the parents.  Through an official printed biography on a sibling, you may find parents and siblings listed together. Don’t forget to keep your research open to include family clusters and friends.  Through these relationships you may be able to prove parentage.

There’s so much more you can do for this era to find parent names.  But the idea is to get back into action.  More in depth analysis of migratory clusters, especially after 1830, can lead you back to the home record source.  Keep that in mind when looking at census records.  I always write down information on 10-20 family names living around the direct line.  This technique can lead to married names of the women and even tips on recovering maiden names.  But that is another blog. 

Happy searching for today!

Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist

Originally posted 5 Aug. 2010

Sunday, October 14, 2012

IMDB - Genealogy and History As Seen On TV

Check out the IMDb page of Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cherokee Female Seminary

Acculturation and Assimilation via Education
Last month I attended Kansas City Mo Public Library exhibit of Our People, Our Land, Our Images. It was there that I saw the plaque on the wall referencing the Cherokee Female Seminary graduating class of 1902. An accompanying photo was provided by Jennie Ross Cobb (Cherokee). As family researchers we are always looking for early Native American Ancestors, especially women, and I found the history of the Cherokee Female Seminary to be helpful for a recent project. Of course female seminaries were as popular as boarding schools by the 19th century and many have preserved genealogy-filled records.

Seminary History
On 7 May 1851 the Cherokee Nation opened the female Seminary in Park Hill Mission (OK), making it “among the first educational systems built west of the Mississippi-Indian or non-Indian. In fact, for a period of time during the mid-nineteenth century, the Cherokee population was more literate than the neighboring non-Indian population” according to Wilma Mankiller, the first female Cherokee Nation chief. From 1851 to the close of the American Civil War the school was in operation. During the Civil war the seminary was used as a warehouse, hospital, etc and it took until 1870 to ready the seminary once again to accept students.  Then after Oklahoma statehood, the land and building was purchased for forty thousand dollars to be converted to the Northeastern Normal School.

The seminary was modeled after the Mount Holyoke Seminary in Worcester MA and was established by the Cherokee Nation, not the Federal Government or Missionaries.  Not only was the Mt. Holyoke Seminary curriculum adopted, many of the teachers were graduates from Mt. Holyoke Seminary; others were from Yale and Newton Theological Seminary. Free tours of Seminary Hall are offered by the Cherokee Nation , but keep in mind this is not the original structure of Park Hill Mission, as it was destroyed by fire in 1887.

Cherokee Male Seminary
Please note there was also a Male Seminary. It too was burnt down in 1910, but was never reconstructed. However, through biographies and obituaries, you may find more information on  your Cherokee ancestor.  The Cherokee Nation site even mentions a few who attended like Dr. C. M. Ross. Hew was the Medical Superintendent, was born in Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, December 17, 1868. He is the grandson of the chief, John Ross. He was educated at the Cherokee Male Seminary from which institution he was graduated in 1887.

Did My Ancestor Attend?
It is said that students, elementary from high school, were “acculturated Cherokees, many of them already familiar with “White ways,” the majority being mixed blood Cherokees. According to the Mt. Holyoke records, full and mixed blood Cherokees were eligible to attend, but the school did not offer courses in Cherokee language, history, or culture. Acculturation and assimilation into the “white” society was ideal. Out of the 3000 girls who attended the Seminary only 212 graduated; the last graduating class being 1910.

How to Research
The best place to being this research is at the Oklahoma Historical Society website. Here the researcher can locate school records from 1874-1909, photos as early as 1860 and original manuscripts. .

For More Information

Elzie Ronald Caywood, "The History of Northeastern State College" M.A. thesis, University of Oklahoma, 1950.
Brad Agnew, "Legacy of Education: The History of the Cherokee Seminaries," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 63 (Summer 1985).
Cherokee National Female Seminary, An Illustrated Souvenir Catalog of the Cherokee National Female Seminary, Tahlequah, Indian Territory, 1850-1906 (Chilocco, Okla.: Indian Print Shop, [abt 1906]
Ellen Goodale, Ellen Rebecca (Whitmore), Journal of Ellen Whitmore, ed. Lola Garrett Bowers and Kathleen Garrett (Tahlequah, Okla., Northeastern State College, 1953). 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saving Libraries, One Genealogist at a Time

Book Quilt, University City Library, St. Louis, MO
The New(er) Library Patron
White Paper Brief of Presentation
Libraries across the nation are defining family researchers as “new patrons.” They have different needs and libraries are accommodating and finding more people walking through their doors daily. With genealogy and family research being the second most popular hobby (rumor has it Golf is number one), the ancestral search begins at the local library. We all aspire to go to the top 10 genealogy libraries, but beginning family research begins at the local library. Libraries are not obsolete, they are essential for family research.

What the Family Researcher Needs?
I challenge libraries to open their doors to the needs of the family researcher; to think out of the box, if you will. Here are a few ways to help the family researcher:
  1. Local history books: Wars, military and local history. Reference books are good but some of us like reading stories and watching history unfold. I recently checked out the 6 DVD copy of Shelby Foote’s series on the Civil War and on my reading desk is a library copy of This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War.
  2. Old Area Newspapers: If your area’s old newspapers have not been microfilmed or put in electronic form (OCR perhaps), know that genealogists around the world are wishing they were accessible. This does not have to be a big expense, just and effort. I like to say a movement!  I ask for interlibrary loans of microfilm newspapers monthly. My latest was for Zanesville, OH., 1849. Patrons are willing to pay the shipping fee (usually about $5.00)
  3. Indexed family files and holdings:  Indexed family files (call on your volunteers) will make you a favorite. The Napa City-County library has a great names index that takes the researcher to the right microfilm reel and date. My 3 hour scheduled visit ended up being a full day love affair with Napa’s historical papers. So little time, so many surnames! The Bonner Springs City Library in Kansas has wonderful local research room with notebooks of its citizens. 
  4. Genealogy databases: Yes some are subscription based but if cost prohibited, know there’s the popular website that is completely free to the researcher. Oh, there’s HeritageQuest for libraries, and , but the goal is not to have the most databases, but to offer a starting point for your family researcher. Encourage them to come to library to research.
  5. Classes/Workshops: Speaking of databases and research… what is most needed is training. By offering training courses, the library becomes a place for the community. Next logical steps are students setting up meeting times at the library to “unearth” some of those ancestors. Remember some basic research classes are needed too. Everything from making a research plan, to analyzing data, and citing sources.
  6. Community Liaison: Family researchers rely on libraries and genealogy societies to be the community reference desk. Where might I find cemetery records? Are there any experts on the early Acadians? These are the questions I posed to the St. Martinville Branch Library in Louisiana. Of course the reference librarian gave me the names of the leading books for researching that area and finding ancestors (yes it was successful), and she led me to a knowledgeable “Special Interest Group (SIG)” Popular libraries host SIG meetings, suggested as infrequent as once a quarter or on a once a month schedule or whatever your community needs. SIG’s can be on Native American research, ethnic research (Irish? German? Swedish?), or social media.
  7. Social Media: Of course this topic is essential to the family researchers. Many find cousins and ancestors on the internet through blogs, tweets, Google+ and Facebook. Oh, and let’s not forget the popular Pinterest. Besides offering classes the library can build its fan lists by using social media to keep patrons informed. Did you know there will be a Roots Tech Conference in Salt Lake City March 2013 . This annual conference is the best of both worlds: technology (to include a lot of social media) and genealogy in one! What about the newest exhibit at the library. The Kansas City Public Library just featured Americans by Choice: The Story of Immigration and Citizenship in Kansas. We spent over 2 hours clicking photos and reading every panel and book. Not just a learning experience, it helped the “inner researcher” to think out of the box when researching my family history.
  8. Repository for Yearbooks and Old City Directories: Public school memory books (yearbooks) started to become popular in the late 1890’s. And these books may offer the only photo of our ancestors, or at least a mention. But where can one find these yearbooks? For the Rockford memory books, try visiting the Rockford Public library. They have collected yearbooks back to 1892. Rarely do we find comprehensive collections of yearbooks as we do in the local libraries. This library also has the Rockfordiana, indexed local newspaper clippings. .
  9. Advocate for Local History: Libraries reaching out to family research patrons are noted as being local history advocates. If there’s a need in a community why not host the local genealogy society. If space allows, perhaps even housing and accessing the local history information for patrons and society members. Harper County (KS) Genealogical Society is headquartered at the Harper Public Library. The idea is to become a community focus, and let researchers know you are serious about it. 
  10. Local History Room. Space is often an issue for the small library, but hopefully there is a specified section for local history. While researching for the Reba McIntire episode of Who Do You Think You Are, I was able to uncover data from the Butler, MO library. The small space for local history held a few microfilm readers and pertinent local history and reference books in one area.
For more information visit

Kathleen Brandt is a Keynote speaker/consultant for libraries and repositories wishing to support family researchers, genealogists and historians. She volunteers for the Midwest Genealogy Center, Mid-Continent Library, in Independence MO. 

Accurate, accessible, answers. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Am I Really Native American?

If you were told your great-grandpa or great-grandma were Native Americans raise your hand. 
Now prove it!

Elizabeth Warren Cherokee Connection?
In this political fury everyone is jumping in to prove or disprove the facts – commonly called Fact Checking.  But, where does family lore come in? Most people have not put effort into fact-checking the family stories. You just believe them; they are a part of who you are. That is until the genealogists come along!  I recently penned this Preface for my own family book that uncovers the fact that 2nd Great Grandpa Tobe was not Native American after all:
For as long as I can remember, I would boast, to any victim who would listen,…[about] the Indian blood I possessed…  To me, these stories were a necessary reality of unproven truths that defined the “me” of me.  I willingly accepted the twisted family stories, spinned them and massaged them into epoch size fairy tales that defied logic.  Perhaps under microscopic review, one could find 20% reality but the other 80% was clearly muddied by the storyteller’s liberty.                                                             
I continued to explain that “In less than two months of research, I came to some “mouth-dropped-open realities.  Tobe wasn’t Tobe,[and] we had no Indian blood…”

So when Elizabeth Warren made the mistake of sharing what she thought was her Native American bragging rights only to find that it was a family myth, I have to admit, I was a bit sympathetic.  I can’t say that the research is all in, but the preliminary documents and arguments have nullified her Native American heritage. At best, it appears that family line might (maybe) yield a 1/64 Native American blood line.

So before any others suffer from the embarrassment of a genealogical morass, know that there are a few key points to remember when searching your Cherokee Connection: 
  1. Just because your ancestor lived in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) does not make them an “Indian”
  2. Facial features and hair texture are not valid arguments for Native American heritage.
  3. Not all Cherokee ancestors were properly listed on the Dawes Rolls, but if they aren’t, they are not considered members of the Cherokee Nation, and you aren’t either
  4. As many Freedmen Indians already know: just because you aren’t officially a member of the Cherokee Nation, doesn’t speak of your bloodline. We’ve proven a few DNA connections to Native American bloodline, but more data is needed to claim tribal status.  
  5. And finally, don’t confuse family lore with fact, especially while the whole country is watching!For 
More Information on the Elizabeth Warren Story visit the following:

 Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible, answers