Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Research Ancestors in Historic Hotel Records-Part I

Where Did They Stay?
When travelling for business we often enjoy the comforts of historic hotels in the small towns of Kansas, the resorts of Colorado, the boutique hotels of Texas, or the elegant and historic hotels of Massachusetts. Our research often includes tracking migrations, political/business travels, or learning the social life styles of ancestors who had the means to travel to visit family or for work.  Most genealogists may learn about this part of family history using newspaper notices. Local newspapers, especially in smaller towns, announce their visitors. They may even mention if the town guests are staying at a hotel or with family.  So from here, the fascination of hotel registers ensues!

Our admiration for historic hotels is not confined to U.S.A. markets, even though this article concentrates on finding your ancestors within America’s historic hotel records. But still, here is an interesting fact: the oldest hotel in operation is the Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Yamanashi, Japan that first opened in 707 A.D. For forty-six generations, the same family has operated this hotel (Guinness World Records)  

7 Great Finds
Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO
What information can the genealogist / historian find within the archives of the hotels registered with the Historic Hotels of America, or in town museums and State Archives? Once you have determined that your ancestor did stay or work at a historic hotel, you may find one of the following treasures:
Broadmoor Bonanza 1949
  1. Hotel Magazines – upscale hotels may have announced their guests or taken photos of guests and events published in the magazines.
  2. Hotel registers may be available.
  3. Many of these historic hotels have onsite archivists that may assist with your research through onsite art collections, donated antiques, and social history, etc.
  4. Photo negatives may be available to include honeymooners, and newlyweds.
  5. Photos of hotel events or hosts of large events (polo team meets, golf tournaments, etc)
  6. Employee Records
  7. Entertainment Records.  You may find documents, photos and even contracts of entertainment events
Where are the records?

Researchers should first confirm their ancestors’ whereabouts by using social columns, deeds, obituaries, etc. Then contact the historic property. Be sure to ask for the following: an onsite or corporate archivist, the location of historical registers, employee ledgers, and guest ledgers. Don’t forget to check the National Historic registers for a copy of the records that might have made them eligible for the Historic Hotels of America.

County, state and local archives may also have important files on residents or guests of the historic hotels. By probing at the Broadmoor Spa in Colorado Springs, I was able to uncover awesome photos. The 1872 Sweet Springs Hotel Register was located in the University of Virginia, Claude Moore Health Sciences Collections Library.

African American Guests
Most historic hotels did not integrate until the 1960’s - civil rights era. My western Kansas Strader family was seemingly one of the first African Americans at the Broadmoor Resort in 1968, albeit a short stay by eight family members.

However, you may find your African American family in the employee registers.  In some of the smaller Midwestern hotels, which seemed to accept guests of color earlier, researchers may find that their ancestor were registered. Some of the historic hotel registers did not denote race but others may have noted their guest as “colored” or Negro.

Omni Parker House
Omni Parker House by Susan Wilson
Add the Omni Parker House historic hotel to your Boston historic tour. Was your ancestor a chef? Within a short distance from the New England Genealogical Historic Society, stands the relatively newly-renovated Omni Parker House well known for its mastery of the Boston Cream Pie. This historic hotel was noted for hiring top chefs (one might say celebrity chefs) since 1855 when it first hired Chef Sanzian. The original 1855 Parker House was completely demolished by 1927. But before the original Parker House was destroyed Charles Dickens had an extended stay, and John Wilkes Booth stayed a few days prior to killing President Lincoln. In more modern times, J. F. Kennedy announced his presidency and Malcolm X was a busboy at the Omni Parker.

Researching for your ancestors’ records as an employee or guests at this hotel will be extensive, but be sure to check all area historical repositories.

Our favorite hotel research began with the AAAFive-Diamond resort of the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort. Since 1919, the Broadmoor hotel has hosted many of the nation’s presidents, entertainers, and celebrities. There’s a wall of fame on the corridor walls outside the bowling alley filled with photos of the U. S. Presidents and foreign Presidents who have visited and everyone from early actors to present day actresses. But although the original hotel registers were not available, in addition to the wall of photos, there’s a series of resort magazines that began in 1946 that announced guests by names. The Memories and the Broadmoor Bonanza were popular as they announced their guests. This hotel has also preserved their honeymoon negatives, so many are available. Photos are the biggest requests – photos of polo teams, events and married copies. 

Employee records and entertainment records have also been preserved. The onsite archivists contacted, returned, findings in an email for our research project.  For onsite review of documents, an appointment must be made in advance.

Melrose, Warwick Hotel, Dallas, Texas
Warwick, Melrose Hotel, Dallas
The Warwick line of elegant historic hotels tells American history in a unique way. If your ancestor was from the “upper crust” you may find them as having lived or worked in one of these historic properties.
“… the Warwick Denver hotel was once a Playboy mansion. The Warwick Melrose in Dallas was, in the 1930s, an apartment building for the millionaires from Texas, and the Warwick New York was built by William Randolph Hearst in 1926 as a gift for his long-time mistress, Marion Davies, who was a Hollywood actress.”
As I write this end-of-the-year article on 2014 Travel  Research - Hotel Records, I am a guest at the AAA Four Diamond Melrose, Warwick Hotel built in 1924 while researching in Dallas.

Kathleen Brandt
Happy Thanksgiving, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Christmas and Holiday Gift Certificates 2014

Last Minute Gift
Yes, it's too late to complete your family tree by Christmas, but consider our popular Holiday Gift Certificate. You will receive the Gift Certificate in our festive Red Envelope in time to place under the tree.

Email for our holiday quotes:
          Promo Code: a32014
          10 hours minimum research

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

3 Steps To Get Documents Fast

Photo duplication Services will be discontinued as of 
December 5, 2014. As of this date, existing orders will
 be completed, but new orders will not be accepted.
As of 5 Dec 2014 patrons must order the microfilm. 

Can't Go to Salt Lake?
Most of my readers have never tried the FamilySearch Photoduplication ServicesBut, really, you may be wasting researching days. Even though the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City isn't just around the corner, you may not need to wait for that microfilm reel - especially if you just need one marriage copy or death record. That one death record of 3rd great-grandpa may be all you need to move your genealogy and family research to the next generation. So have you tried the Family Search Photoduplication Service?

Within 4 days I received a requested marriage license in my e-mail. Yes! My e-mail.  Note: this service is for individual images, not a personal research service. So you must do your homework upfront.

3 Easy Steps
  1. Identify Film and Item Number. Yes, some film have several item numbers, often cataloged by years. Verify the exact Item Number where the image is located. This is done by visiting the FamilySearch Catalog
  2. Initiate Request using the Photoduplication Request Form
  3. Wait and Receive
A Bonus
Do you have a Family History Library that you frequent? For a3Genealogy Kansas City researchers, it's the Midwest Genealogy Center. Unbeknownst to the researcher, the FamilySearch catalog will alert you if the film needed is already at "your" Family History Library. Here is the response we received when attempting to order microfilm 1845384:

By accessing the Midwest Genealogy Center Resources, we verified the film was truly there!

Oh how we love technology!
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible Answers