Archive for the ‘Newspaper Clippings’ Category

I’m on a roll with sorting and organizing! And the roll has gained such momentum that I want to work on it during nearly every spare moment! This is a good thing. I’ve tried to explain previously the enormity of the project I am facing; only my husband really knows. Let me assure you; it is huge!

My mother was typical of many (perhaps most) genealogists. She loved to do research and she did a considerable amount. Problems: 1) Mom only documented some of her sources and 2) she had difficulty organizing the information she found. For the most part she used the notebook method, but I’ve found multiple notebooks on the same surname, with much of the same information. To complicate the situation, she created a new family group sheet every time she worked on the family. I find photocopies of the same obituaries in multiple places. And, it isn’t unusual to find information for a completely different family surname stuck in the wrong binder. On top of that, I’m finding Mom was notorious for making notes for multiple surnames on the same piece of paper. Oh, my!

It isn’t just my mother’s collection I’m dealing with. My grandmother collected and saved, and my mother inherited a collection from her aunt and uncle. So, when I brought home the boxes, scrapbooks, photo albums, and binders from my mother, the contents was the conglomerate from all of these people. As I’ve worked on the materials, I’ve realized that my mother was overwhelmed!

Filing has never been my favorite activity, but I’ve been spending hours doing just that, and sort of enjoying it. I’m filing everything from Mom’s binders and boxes of loose papers into hanging folders in my file drawers. Some people would wonder “Why!” Why shouldn’t I just enter everything directly into a computer program? I’ve asked myself that question, also. However, I concluded that it is easier to get all of the information sorted using a filing system, first. That way when I enter someone into computer software, I’ll have everything that I know about that person in hand and won’t have to keep flipping from one person to another.

Mom should have owned stock in sheet protector manufacturing companies. Recently I told my husband that I can foresee the end of using large quantities of sheet protectors. I can see using archival sheet protectors for original documents; not for every family group sheet! I also told him that I foresee the eventual end of using hanging folders.

I hope I’ll live long enough to get these files scanned and the data entered into computer software. My goal to eventually write several books. Every step takes me closer to leaving something meaningful for future generations.

For now I need to get back to sorting and filing!

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Another location with hidden genealogy treasures:

Special Collections Department
Council Bluffs Public Library
400 Willow Avenue
Council Bluffs, Iowa 51503

Phone: 712-323-7553
Website: http://www.councilbluffslibrary.org/

Since the Special Collections Manager was going to be out of the library the day of my visit, she had arranged for Marlys Lien, The Adult Services Manager, to met me. Marlys, then, introduced me to Jo Weis, who is very familiar with the genealogy collection in the Special Collections area (and is also active in the Pottawattamie County Genealogical Society which operates the Frontier Heritage Library).

Jo started out showing me the extensive collection of microfilm, which includes many area newspapers, Pottawattamie County vital records, naturalizations, wills, deeds, and Council Bluffs city directories and telephone books.

Next, she took me to the Reference Work Room where I saw drawers of photos, and shelves of books, atlases, and original newspapers—a nice collection.

However, I think Jo was saving the best for last! She then showed me a phenomenal collection: shelves and shelves of 3-ring binders of clippings, neatly organized by topic, dating 1930s to 1990s. Since the binders are “black,” they are known as the “black books.” This 60-plus year collection covers a wide range of topics. She says some of the most popular are: Houses, Buildings, Business, Biographies, Gambling/Casinos and Schools.

Later, Marlys showed me the many online databases available to library card holders. I was caught by surprise! The library allows non-county residents to purchase a library card for $5/month or $60/year. To see what databases are included, go to their website, select the eLibrary tab, then click on Databases. Note: Ancestry.com is only available for in-library use, however, the other databases are available to card holders. Just hover over each icon and read what is available. You may be be surprised!

While the many resources in this library would be very helpful to genealogists, the black books are definitely the hidden treasure in this library and access to significant research databases is an added bonus.

The more personal, on-site visits I make, the more convinced I am that I would never learn about some of these things by visiting a website or calling the repositories on the phone.

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Another installment in the hunt for genealogy treasures in Iowa.

The Frontier Heritage Library & Museum
Pottawattamie County Genealogical Society
622 4th Street
Council Bluffs, IA 51502

phone: 712-325-9368
email: pcgs@pcgs.omhcoxmail.com
website: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~iapcgs/

What a treasure this society has! Original records! Shelves and shelves of them!

Pottawattamie County Genealogical Society members, Bob Anderson (current President), Barb Christie and Marilyn Erwin met us at the library. The society formed in 1992 and they purchased this building in 2001. A renter in part of the building helps pay the mortgage. The building has a back room, equipped with a small kitchen, that can be used for large meetings or small conferences. Everything was well-lit and neatly organized. A large, inviting conference table is the perfect place for researchers to work.

Pottawattamie County is “double wide” compared with most Iowa counties and had two court houses until 1993 when the clerk’s office in Avoca was closed. The Avoca court house was built in 1885, the building was placed on the National Register in 1982 and is now a museum.

The goal of the society is to “furnish a One-Stop Research Center for all information on Pottawattamie County.”

After the county records were microfilmed, the originals went to the dumpster due to lack of storage space. This group retrieved them!!! As a result this library has many original records: marriage and death records, will books, probate packets and probate books, insanity records, divorce records, law and equity books, district court books, guardian bond books, delinquent real estate tax lists, court calendar books, juvenile court records and more. Some to 1919 and others to about 1940. In addition, they have all of the original records from the Avoca court house. They told us that often the staff in the county offices sends researchers to this facility.

We also saw Council Bluffs city directories beginning in the 1880s, a large collection of area school yearbooks, obituary extracts beginning 1857, town histories for the surrounding area, and abstracts of deaths and marriages from The Frontier Guardian newspaper (1849-1852). They have some original newspapers from surrounding communities. And, they have notebooks with clippings of birth announcements and other notebooks of obituary clippings and cemetery indexes. In addition they have a selection of Pottawattamie County maps.

A big surprise: they told me that ONLY ONE township of this extra-large county is on Ancestry.com for the 1895 Iowa state census. The library has the entire census on microfilm and they don’t understand why Ancestry does not have the other townships.

Another surprise was seeing the Gale Biographical Index Series from 1979 and early 1980s here. This is a nation-wide index to thousands of biographies and it is rare to see it in a small library.

The library has a small (15-20 linear feet), but growing collection of family histories.

These volunteers are very dedicated and have accomplished amazing things. They have abstracted many marriage records as well as court house records from Avoca and prepared these publications for sale. They especially enjoy answering queries; helping other researchers find their ancestors.

Thank you! We enjoyed our visit.

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Finding more of Iowa’s hidden genealogical treasures:

State Historical Society of Iowa
402 Iowa Avenue
Iowa City, Iowa 52240



Three of us met with Mary Bennett, Special Collections Coordinator, for a tour of the archives in the Iowa City facility.

My biggest disappointment is that only about 5% of the special collections items are in the online catalog. It is absolutely necessary to check the onsite card catalog. Mary explained that budget concerns, staff reductions, and time constraints simply do not allow for getting everything done. However, be sure to check the online catalog to get a flavor of the kinds of materials in this phenomenal repository: http://www.iowahistory.org/shsi/libraries/collections/iowa-city-center/major-manuscripts-collection.html.

As we walked along the rows of shelving, she pointed out the Ruth Buxton Sayre collection, a name I know well. Ruth, a Warren County resident, became an internationally known advocate for rural women, holding various American Farm Bureau and Associated Country Women of the World positions (ACWW). I would have never thought to look in Iowa City for her collection.

Mary said they have a large collection of women’s organization records and a lot of women’s history.

They have:
many documents items relating to the pioneer experience
an incredible Civil War collection including more than 200 diaries,
many personal diaries and letters,
the materials from many clubs, churches and schools,
approximately 3,000 maps,
biographical materials for many prominent Iowans.

In addition they have a World War II clipping project for which volunteers come regularly to work. So far more than 5,000 pages of clippings have been digitized and can be found at: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/search/collection/wwii.

In 1923 the SHSI and the Iowa Federation of Women’s Clubs sponsored an essay contest in which high school students were encouraged to write about their grandparents or their town history. This collection uses 22 storage boxes. I first heard about these essays in 1979 when I was on the committee for writing our town history book, Milo 1880 to 1980. Our local librarian knew of the collection and travelled to Iowa City to see what might help in our book project.

Mary showed us the fully equipped paper conservation lab that currently has no staff and she showed us damage that was done to materials when a water pipe broke in the basement.

I came away with some big questions. In today’s world how can I or anyone else ever use the valuable materials located in this history-rich facility without adequate online finding aids? Why is the state not digitizing out-of-copyright materials and placing them online as fast as possible? Why is a paper conservation lab sitting empty? Will future generations be able to use these valuable resources?

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Continuing the series of Iowa’s hidden genealogical treasures:

New Virginia Public Library
504 Book Alley, PO Box 304
New Virginia, Iowa 50210

Hours: Tuesday 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Thursday 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 12 Noon.

Website: http://www.newvirginialibrary.org/

The library’s website says they have “a local history collection.” Those words don’t even begin to describe the wonderful collection. I had heard the collection existed, but was totally unprepared for its enormity and detail.

Leota Houlette (1921-2009) was a life-long Warren County resident. She lived primarily in the New Virginia area and was very interested in its history. Was she ever! I estimated that the collection of three-ring binders fills 27 lineal feet of shelf space in two steel cabinets. The binders are arranged chronologically beginning with 1836 and are filled with everything imaginable relating to the history of New Virginia and its citizens. Some notebooks contain multiple years and sometimes one year requires two binders.

Examples of things I found in the binders are:

photocopies of Bible records
land entry information
family group sheets
birth announcements
deaths and obituaries
many articles of general interest
photocopies of a Civil War letter
copies of parts of a Civil War pension file
excerpts from a diary

The list could go on and on and on! Items have been saved from Des Moines newspapers, the New Virginian, Indianola, Osceola, and Winterset newspapers. Some items are handwritten, some are typed, and some are photocopies. It is obvious that when people discovered that she had started a collection, they gave her more and more. Leota’s collection became more like a centralized repository for everything related to New Virginia and the people.

The librarian told me that about ten years ago the Friends of the Library took over the collection and have continued to update it, primarily with vital records: births, marriages and deaths.

I noticed a third steel cabinet contained a large box with many rolls of microfilm. The librarian told me that the notebooks up to 1980 have been microfilmed. The label on the boxes I looked at indicated that this was done by The Advantage Companies in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Stickers on the outside of the steel cabinets refer to Heritage Microfilm. As the Friends of the Library can afford to, they get more binders filmed. The microfilm company has the original silver copies and the library has the only other copy of this valuable collection. I was disappointed to learn that the State Historical Library does NOT have a copy.

Other items I found in the local history corner of this small-town library were:

Virginia Booster 4-H Club scrapbooks
Women for a Better Community scrapbook
Future Homemakers of America scrapbook
New Virginia Saddle Club
1979 Architectural Survey of New Virginia
Girl Scouts scrapbooks
Virginia Jolly Jills 4-H club scrapbooks
Bay View Club 1930-1960
New Virginia Melody Makers
New Virginia House of the Month with house histories
a dozen or more ledger books from local general stores and other businesses, at least one dating to 1881
Hazel Ridge telephone information dating to early 1900s
Zylphia Felton – 4 books of newspaper clippings
five other books donated in memory of various people by the Bay View Club – of clippings of weddings, obituaries, 50th anniversaries and such
New Virginia High School yearbooks 1940-1961
Interstate 35 school Travelogs and Road Runners 1967-1982
several family histories
Warren County history books
7th and 8th grade school records Sept 1917 – Nov 1917, Sept 1919 – May 1919 (includes name of students, attendance, and in some cases grades)
a few local church histories

A cover sheet in Leota’s notebooks announces the beginning of a new year, and on that cover sheet is the following:

Behold the World of the Old
Let your heritage not be lost
But bequeath it as a memory
Treasure and Blessing
Gather the lost and the hidden
And preserve it for thy Children
—–Christian Metz 1846

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Some projects just can’t be accomplished in one full swoop.

At one point my office and our basement family room were filled with boxes, as well as our spare bedroom and our store room… in other words, practically our entire basement was a massive storage unit. This was mostly the stuff I had received from my mother as she downsized a couple different times.

Not all of this stuff is paper, but a large percentage is paper. By paper, I mean undocumented research notes, photocopies of documents, notes with more than one surname on a sheet of paper, several different family groups sheets for the same individual—created at different times when my mother found something, loose photos, a few stories my mother has written, more photocopies of documents, and a few original documents. Then, also letters, diaries, calendars, lots of newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and photo albums. Some of these things were my mother’s, but some belonged to her mother, other things belonged to her uncle and aunt.

Every time we have downsized my mother, for the most part, I have been more interested in the genealogy/family history side than in getting a lot of things: vases, dishes, baskets, silverware, glassware, needlework, etc. Please rest assured, however, I have gotten my share of those things, as well.

So, a few months ago, I purchased a bunch of cardboard file boxes. In fairly small letters I labeled the lids with family surnames. We set up a couple of 5-foot tables and placed the boxes side-by-side on the tables. One by one, I opened each of the many boxes of stuff and sorted as many paper and photographic items as possible into family groups placing the items in the appropriate surname box. I did not make any attempt to further divide the items within the surname or to label the items. I just sorted into the surname group. Otherwise, it would have been much too easy to get bogged down in the detail. These cardboard file boxes were then stacked in the spare bedroom. While sorted by family surname, they remained difficult to access, but certainly in better order than they were previously.

During the marathon sorting session last weekend, Dave and I emptied several file drawers. This past weekend I transferred items from the surname boxes into file drawers labeled with the respective surnames. I have hanging folders in the drawers, so I divided up the items and placed them into the hanging folders. Again, I did not make any other attempt to sort the items. That will come later. For now, I’m just happy to be making the treasures more accessible in the drawers.

I’m making progress—a baby step at a time.

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