Saturday, May 30, 2020

Saturday Serendipity (May 30, 2020)



Here are some suggested reading items for this weekend:

1.   The Weekly Genealogist announced the addition of updates to Volume 179 of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register to that database.  This adds some 430 pages and 11,000 searchable names.  You can read more about the database here.

2.  New to me is the listing of new and updated data collections from Ancestry, FindMyPast, FamilySearch and others at the blog of Lois Willis--Genealogy and Family History.  Lois posts about new and updated collection each Friday.  You can view her latest updates here.  

3.   Linda Stufflebean, of Empty Branches on the Family Tree blog, discusses the subject of ethics in genealogy and reviews the book Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy by Penny Walters, Ph.D.  Although the review is a net negative on the book, Linda's review is worth a read because it raises the subject of ethics in genealogy and implies the need to have a really good book to tackle this increasingly important topic.  You can read Linda's review here

4.  Heather Rojo, of Nutfield Genealogy blog, provides a monthly summary of various genealogy events.  It has a large focus on New England, but includes events from other places -- especially now that so many of the events are virtual and available online.  You can view Heather's useful summary for the coming month of June 2020 here.    

5.   Under the topic of "you never know where you might find a genealogical gem" is a post about getting to see a daguerreotype of a third great grandmother.  See the nice photo discovery and read the short post about it by Elizabeth Handler, of From Maine to Kentucky blog, here.    

6.   I have to admit that there are resources for genealogy research out there of which I am aware, but somehow forget to use.  A post by Marian Wood, of Climbing My Family Tree blog, reminded me of one such resource that I need to get much better about checking.  Read Marian's post about using the U.S. Census Mortality Schedules by going here.  Enumerators in 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 asked about people who died within the twelve months before the enumeration date (June 1st back then).  There may well be discoveries in those schedules awaiting those of us who remmember to look!

7.   And then there is the very short, but very timely post by Judy Russell, of The Legal Genealogist blog.  As Judy says, there is nothing to say.  You just have to read it here

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Copyright 2020, John D. Tew

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Possible Silver Lining to the COVID Pandemic: Can a 20th Century Cultural Phenomenon Make a Comeback for Us and Our Descendants?


One of my earliest memories–going back to about 1956–is waking to the sound of an explosion and then seeing fire everywhere completely consuming buildings while a man led a horse and wagon past the conflagration. I sat there frightened, but mesmerized, until my parents realized I was awake and watching the commotion. When I was much older I realized that what had awakened me and what I had watched was the scene of the burning of Atlanta from the movie Gone With The Wind (depicted above).

Back in 1956 I had only seen black and white TV at my grandparents home on a small, round screen and what I was watching was huge and in living color.  It was what must have been one of my earliest, if not my very first, drive-in movie experience.  It took place at the Shipyard Drive-in located in Providence, RI.  [The drive-in lot actually sat on the border between Providence and Cranston.  The screen was located in Cranston.]  Throughout my childhood, drive-in movie trips were one of the true highlights of every summer for me and my siblings.  Sadly, today Rhode Island only has two active drive-ins: the Rustic Tri-View Drive-in on Rte. 146 South in North Smithfiled, and Misquamicut Drive-in located in Westerly.  

But now, in this era of the COVID pandemic, drive-in movie theaters just might be making a longed for comeback due to the ability to be outdoors and to easily practice social distancing in the comfort and privacy of one's own vehicle!!  😊💖¹  



According to Wikipedia, "After 1945 rising car ownership and suburban and rural population led to a boom in drive-in theaters, with hundreds being opened each year.  More couples were reunited and having children, resulting in the 'Baby Boom,' and more cars were being purchased following the end of wartime fuel rationing.  By 1951, the number of drive-in movie theaters in the United States had increased from its 1947 total of 155 to 4,151."  Today there are 300 or fewer opreating drive-in movie theaters in the U.S.–but based on recent news reports, that might be changing as summer arrives and families are looking for safe family entertainment that avoids the close contact of indoor movie theaters.  I for one am thrilled with this possibility.  I have mused with my wife for maybe a decade now that new technology should have been able to bring back the drive-in theaters, but my hopes and enthusiasm never saw the resurgence I fondly wish our grandchildren could experience.  It appears that a possible silver lining of this otherwise horrific and destructive pandemic could be the revitalization of the family drive-in experience!

The history of the drive-in is an interesting one, and, as a cultural phenomenon of the middle of the 20th century, it is a worthy subject for inclusion in any detailed treatment of a family genealogy/history covering the actual experiences of ancestors.

The history of the drive-in seems to have begun in New Mexico.  Wikipedia states that the first "partial drive-in theater" was the Theatre de Guadalupe that opened in Las Cruces, New Mexico on April 23, 1915 and closed in July 1916.  The partial drive-in Theatre de Guadalupe experience was described as follows: "Seven hundred people may be comfortably seated in the auditorium. Automobile entrances and places for 40 or more cars within the theater grounds and in-line position to see the pictures and witness all performances on the stage is a feature of the place that will please car owners."  In the 1920s a "drive-in" opened that allowed cars to park bumper-to-bumper in downtown Comanche, Texas and see the screening of silent films from their cars.  And later, so-called "outdoor movies" (where patrons sat in rows of seats outdoors to watch movies) were tried.

An outdoor seated movie theater in Iran during the 1960s
The drive-in movie theater as most of us came to know it was patented in New Jersey on May 16, 1933 by Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr.  His family operated the R.M. Hollingshead Corp. chemical plant in Camden, NJ.  It was in 1932 that young Mr. Hollingshead (he was 32 years old) conducted what today would be called "proof of concept" tests of his idea for a true drive-in movie theater.  He conducted his tests in the driveway of his home at 212 Thomas Ave. in Riverton, NJ.  He nailed a screen to trees in his backyard and then placed a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car.  He put a radio behind the screen and ran tests for different sound levels with his car windows up and with them down.  During his driveway tests, he also placed blocks under cars in the driveway to figure out the size and spacing of ramps so that all cars could have a clear view of the screen.  When he was satisfied his idea could work, he applied for a patent and opened his drive-in on Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Pennsauken, NJ on June 6, 1933.  The sound was not projected from individual speaker boxes at each car, but rather from a single tower and resulted in a sound delay for patrons parked in the back.  The viewing screen was  40 x 50 ft. and the drive-in theater had room for 400 cars², but after three years he sold the theater and its infrastructure was moved to Union, NJ. 

As my siblings and I grew older, the family moved around New England following my father's various promotions and transfers within the Sears store management program.  When we lived in Chicopee, Massachusetts, we would go to the AirLine Drive-in that was just minutes from the first home my parents owned.  The drive-in was named after the fact that it was located directly in the path of a runway for Westover Air base.  It was the summer evening trips to the Air-Line that gave rise to what we children came to identify as the telltale signs a drive-in trip was in the offing–there was a an attempt on the part of our parents to secretly pop a huge paper shopping bag full of popcorn and the large insulated picnic jug would appear to be filled with the special drive-in juice mixture made from cans of frozen lemonade and Welch's dark grapejuice.  It was also at the Air-Line that I first remember what became a staple of a child's drive-in experience–the playground!  I suspect now that the playground was not only to occupy kids while it was too light out to show the movie, but also (especially for a double feature) it was to hopefully wear out the kids so the adults could enjoy what was often the second, more mature feature in the peace and quite of sleeping children.  [Many young kids going to a drive-in back then arrived in pajamas and it was not unusual for pajama-clad kids to populate the playground before the movie started. There was a very helpful countdown to the movie time that was principally an animated advertisement of all the goodies available at the concession stand until the movie started and during intermission.]  


When our family moved in about 1958 from Chicopee to what was then called Salem Depot, NH, our local drive-in was the Ole Rock Drive-in just a couple of miles down the road from the new housing development where we lived.  It was located right across from the famous Rockingham Race Track (which was called out in the movie "The Sting").  It was on the main road going from Salem into Lawrence, Massachusetts and it was not far from the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Salem back in the era where Coke came in little green glass bottles that were not disposable and were washed and reused.


The horse racing track at the top of the photo and The Ole Rock Drive-in at bottom center.

Our next move was from Salem to Concord, NH, the state capital.  In Concord the drive-in was across the Merrimack River from where our homes in Concord were located.  The Concord Drive-in was east of the river up toward what was called "the Heights" where the airport was located.  The drive-in was down Blackhill Rd. across from the airport and down closer to the river.  During this time I was in late elementary school and the first year of what was then junior high school and could not drive–so drive-in trips were still very much a summer family event with a huge bag of popcorn and a jug of drive-in juice, but not many sleeping kids in PJs anymore. 



In 1965, our family (my parents, four kids, and a dog) moved from Concord, NH to Cinnaminson, NJ, a small residential town across the Delaware River from northeast Philadelphia.  This was our first experience of living outside New England and in the penumbra of one of the largest cities in the country–but there were still active drive-ins in the immediate area.  It was in NJ in the late 60s that I received my driver's license and a new era of relationship with the American drive-in began.

Before I was licensed to drive, my younger siblings and I would still look forward to a family outing to a drive-in, but the playground was more for my youngest brother who was nine years my junior.  The concession stand now held more interest, but the bag of popcorn and the jug of drive-in juice were still required items for a true drive-in event.  We did not realize then that we actually lived very close to the home in neighboring Riverton where young Mr. Hollingshead invented the modern drive-in.  In fact, his former home was just a few minutes walk from the school my sister and I attended–Cinnaminson Jr. Sr. High School.  [Years later the older of my two younger brothers and his family lived in Riverton and still later his daughter and her family lived in Riverton.]  

The first drive-in I remember the family going to in New Jersey was just a few miles north up Route 130, the highway that divided Cinnaminson east and west.  It was the Super 130 Drive-in located in Edgewater Park, NJ.


At age seventeen I was able to get a driver's license in NJ and the the drive-in was a wonderful summer substitute for dates at a movie theater during colder seasons.  The drive-in that stands out most from that time is the Circle Drive-in on the border of Moorestown and Mapleshade, NJ, neighboring towns to Cinnaminson.  It sat at Routes 38 and 73 very near the Moorestown Mall on Rte. 38 and Matlack's Dairy Bar on the opposite side of the drive-in lot.  The Circle Drive-in no longer exists, but it is where I met my future wife.


And then there was the Pennsauken Drive-in on Rte. 73 just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.  It opened in the 1950s and was closed by about 1985.  I recall seeing the movie Cool Hand Luke, starring Paul Newman, there.  Below are two aerial views of the Pennsauken Drive-in taken from different angles.  In the top photo the screen is at the top of the photo in the trees and in the lower photo the screen is at the bottom.



By the 1970s the decline and disappearance of the American drive-in was well underway.  It was not until the late 1980s after Molly and I were married with two young sons that the hankering for another drive-in experience took hold.  I especially wanted our sons to know what a drive-in movie theater was  before they completely disappeared.  It was about this time that we discovered an active drive-in along the route we took each summer to get to the Adirondacks from our home in northwestern Virginia.  On Rte. 15 in Pennsylvania just south of Harrisburg in a little town called Dillsburg we passed Haar's Drive-in.  We could not stop to take in a show, but it incentivized me to try to find a drive-in closer to our home than the 90-mile, nearly 2 hour drive to Dillsburg.  Haar's Drive-in opened in June 1953 and remains an active drive-in to this day (although in more recent years they also operate an auction on the site).  Movies are shown at Haar's Drive-in from April through September.


Another active drive-in is the one I found that was much closer to our home in Virginia.  The Dalke Family Theatre in Stephens City, VA was just off Interstate 81 in the Shenandoah Valley and only about 35 miles from our home.  We first went to the Dalke Family Theatre drive-in when our sons were about 6 and 8 years old.  We popped a huge bag of popcorn and made a jug of the drive-in lemonade/grapejuice mix and thoroughly enjoyed a summer evening at a real drive-in.  The boys were at the playground until it darkened enough for the movie to start and still remember the experience.  Later we took the boys and their cousins to the drive-in so they could have the experience and I hope they still recall the event fondly.




The Family Theatre, as it is now known, opened in 1957 and has a capacity of 490 cars.  A second screen was added in 1989.  The drive-in is still active as of today.


All of this trip down memory lane leads to what I hope will be an unintended silver lining resulting from this COVID pandemic.  We have two granddaughters 3 and 5 years old now and they have never experienced a drive-in movie.  There is at least one active drive-in within a reasonable driving distance of us here in central New Jersey.  As a family summer activity, a trip to  a drive-in could be a new and fun activity for young children who have no idea what a drive-in movie theater is.  At least initially, the outing would seem to have low or even very low risk when the children are confined to a vehicle with immediate family members and mixing with unknown children and other parents at the playground is eliminated.  Packing food and drink from home can avoid the concession stand/snack bar and the mingling with others outside the family, but be aware  that some drive-ins add a surcharge to the admission fee if food from outside is brought–they rely heavily on concessions sales to remain viable and open.  Use of the rest rooms could pose a risk, but otherwise being in the family vehicle with close family members only, enjoying the outside, and observing social distancing could be a safe family activity.³  

If the drive-in is rediscovered as a fun family event during this warm weather phase of the pandemic, then we can hope that one of the great cultural experiences of generations coming of age in the last century, combined perhaps with ingenious use of new technology, can give rise to a resurgence of the drive-in movie theater!  For many of us from the 20th century–and for those of the millennial generation (Generation Y) and the Zoomers of Generation Z who get to at least exerience a drive-in movie once–such a resurgence could be a silver lining to what has otherwise been a frightful, life altering period in the history of our lives, our country, and our world.  Here's hoping!   
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¹  Recent reports on the news indicate that the pandemic is also giving rise to the return of long-departed services.  For example, the milkman returneth in some parts of the country.  Wade's in Connecticut has put two trucks on the road to make home deliveries of its milk–something that had not been done for decades.  Many boomers might recall the days of the insulated aluminum boxes on the porch where milk was placed by the milkman during his home deliveries.  I can also clearly recall my grandparents getting fresh vegetables and fruits as well as fish and some meats delivered to their home in Cumberlnd, RI when I was a young boy in the 1950s.  Just recently our daughter-in-law discovered a seafood company in Asbury Park, NJ that delivers fresh, dayboat caught seafood to homes in NJ.  See,  https://local-130-seafood-online-shop.myshopify.com.  We also have been getting direct-to-home delivieries of freshly baked, warm loaves of wonderful breads now.  See, https://hoophousenj.com/breadbasket.  Perhaps home delivery of fresh fruit & vegetables might be coming back too??
²  Hollingshead advertised his new drive-in using the slogan, "The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are."
³   See, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/05/23/861325631/from-camping-to-dining-out-heres-how-experts-rate-the-risks-of-14-summer-activit where experts rank various summer activites by risk level and advise on ways to alter any risks.  With respect to a drive-in experience note the general risk and advice on use of public restrooms. 

Most of the photos above came from the website cinematreasures.org, which was praised by Roger Ebert as "the ultimate web site about movie theaters."  The website has a section devoted to drive-in theaters and includes a list of active drive-ins.  You can explore this wonderful website at the provided link.  Enter "Drive-ins" in the search bar at the top of the page and then select "United States" to see drive-ins in the U.S.

Another site with information about drive-ins is DriveInMovie.com, which is billed as "The Internet's Oldest Drive-In Movie Resource."  It lists drive-ins by state and provides historical information, but fewer photos than Cinema Treasures.

And then there is the drive-in blog by "tine263" on Wordpress.  "Tine" is a drive-in aficionado and writes of her adventures in visiting drive-in movie theaters–whether open or closed.  She lives in South Jersey and mainly explores the bordering states within easy driving distance of her home.  Her blog contains wonderful photos and stories of her adventures and it is worth a visit to Drive-in Theater Adventures. 

A good history of the drive-in movie theater is found at Wikipedia.  The photo of the outdoor seated movie theater is taken from a link at that site.
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Copyright 2020, John D. Tew

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Saturday Serendipity (May 23, 2020)


This week the following are recommended for your weekend reading.  .  .

1.  The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS/American Ancestors highlighted an interesting article this week.  Do you know what "beating the bounds" refers to and why it was important?  Read about the practice here.

2.  Last week one of the suggested reads was a post by The Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, and her discussion of "the butterfly effect" as it applies to genealogy.  Apropos of the butterfly effect discussion last week, today is the birthday of the man who coined that term and who is the father of chaos theory, which has been called one of the most revolutionary scientific ideas of the 20th century.  You can read here a brief description of the life of Edward Norton Lorenz (1917-2008).

3.  A blog new to me–Once Removed by Ryan Ross–posted a short piece this past week titled "Answers to Beginner Questions."  You can read the questions Ryan chose and his answers here.

4.  Jacqi Stevens, of A Family Tapestry blog, posted an amusing, but thought provoking, piece titled "Unattached" today.  Being (like Jacqi) among the 2% who apparently have more than one tree on Ancestry, I empathize with the dilemma of whether or not to connect the trees into some kind of unified theory of a genealogy ultimately relating all to me.  You can read Jacqi's post here

5.  Having just finished a photo book for my granddaughter who turned three yesterday (a book and text showing her how she came to be a member of an extended family), it is not like I need an idea for another book; but I have to agree with Janine Adams, of Organize Your Family History blog, that Jacquiline Krieps Schattner, of Seeds to Trees blog, has come up with an outstanding idea for explaining and ultimately passing on heirlooms.  Read Janine's post here and then by all means go to the source and read Jacquiline's original post and see examples from her newly created Heirloom Book here.

6.  James Tanner, of Genealogy's Star blog, posted his thoughts on the question, "How Accurate are Online Family Trees?"  You can read his thoughts here

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Copyright 2020, John D. Tew
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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Some Very Special Volunteers You Probably Never Knew About, But You Might Have Benefitted From Their Work And Not Even Known It

Susan (Walker) Tew (1828-1893)

Susan (Walker) Tew is my 2X great grandmother.  She is also the 2X great aunt of my cousin Bill Newcomb.

On April 16th of this year I received an email from Bill alerting me to the sad news that Susan's gravestone had been seriously damaged in a violent storm that swept through the Rice City area of Rhode Island where Susan is interred in a family burial ground.  Eerily, of the numerous graves and headstones, only Susan's headstone was damaged.


Susan had a rather difficult life.  She was the eldest of the ten children of Nathan Walker and Polly (Wells) Walker.  She had two younger sisters and seven younger brothers.  Susan was 17 years old when she married Adam Tew (age 20), in January 1846.  Less than seven months later she and Adam had their first of six children and almost a year to the day later her mother died leaving at least five minor children under 15 years old motherless.  Susan, who was married with an infant daughter, was unable to assist her father with the raising of her siblings and so they were farmed out to others willing to help.  When Susan was nearly 60 years old, she and her husband Adam separated and Adam remarried in April 1887.  He was 62 years old and his new wife was 43.  Adam Tew was her fifth husband.

When Bill sent me the news about Susan's damaged headstone, he and I communicated about what might be done to repair it.  Bill said he was going to reach out to the historical cemetery community and that reminded me that back in the fall of 2015, I was contacted by Diane Boumenot of the outstanding blog, One Rhode Island Family.  Diane shared the photo (below) of a damaged headstone in Cumberland Cemetery that was being repaired by volunteers who devoted their time, energy, and resources to caring for historic and often neglected and damaged cemeteries.  It turned out the the headstone was that of my 4X great uncle, Aurin Miller, brother of my 3X great grandfather, Eber Miller.  Eber was one of the incorporators of Cumberland Cemetery and he and his brother are both interred there.



I told Bill that I would try reaching out to Ken Postle and Robert Butler who were involved in the River Road, Blackstone River and Canal Group that did the above headstone repair at Cumberland Cemetery.  I would see if their group perchance knew of a similar group that cared for historic cemeteries in the Coventry, RI area or if their group did such work outside of Providence County.  Before I was able to make the inquiry, Bill found the volunteer group known as the Pawtuxet Valley Preservation and Historical Society (PVPHS).

PVPHS is located in the historic former Crompton Library in W. Warwick, RI.  In 2011 the Cemetery Committee of PVPHS became the fifth organization in Rhode Island to repair and preserve tombstones and burial sites.  The Cemetery Committee also joined a network consortium with the National Park Service in the Blackstone Valley in northern Rhode Island.

Within days of Bill making contact with the PVPHS, volunteers made the trip to Rice City and made repairs to Susan Tew's damaged headstone.  A description of the repairs and photographs by the volunteers below tell the story of the wonderful efforts by this group of dedicated volunteers.

          "This stone belongs to Susan (Walker) Tew and was brought to our attention by
           her second great nephew, William Newcomb. The stone had deteriorated around
          the pins causing multiple fractures. This, combined with a settling base, led to
          the breakage and falling seen here.

          The first step was to epoxy the stone fragment back in place.  Once this was
          cured, the remaining cracks will be filled to prevent water from freezing inside
          them, further damaging the stone.

          Next, the base had to be leveled.  Upon lifting the base, it can be seen that there
          was concrete used to help support it and prevent settling. Additionally,
          fragments of marble stone, one of them carved with a date, were used for
          support. This was almost certainly a discarded fragment from the stone carver's
          shop used instead of field stone for a foundation.

          The intermediate base with the pins was then epoxied to the lower base to be
          completely level in preparation for the next visit, after the epoxy has cured."

        




Once the epoxy cured on all the repairs described and pictured above, the dedicated volunteers of the PVPHS Cemetery Committee returned to the cemetery and restored the mended headstone of Susan A. (Walker) Tew to its full upright position on a secured and leveled foundation.  The completed repairs are shown below in a photo by Bill Newcomb.


Bill Newcomb and I are very grateful for the altruistic volunteer efforts of the members of the Cemetery Committee of the PVPHS in repairing the damaged headstone of our family member.  It is comforting to know that there are such selfless people devoted to doing whatever they can to preserve, protect, and repair the final resting place of forebears–many of whom must be complete strangers.  They deserve our gratitude and our support whenever possible.

I am not sure how many states have organizations and volunteers that watch over historic and often forgotten cemeteries, but Rhode Island is fortunate indeed to have at least five including the Pawtuxet Valley Preservation and Historical Society and the River Road, Blackstone River and Canal Group.  They are due much praise and credit for the work they do in preserving a major resource for genealogists and historians!

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Photograph of Susan A. (Walker) Tew from the personal collection of the author.

Photograph of the initial damage to Susan's headstone and of the completd repairs courtesy of  William "Bill" Newcomb.

Description of the repairs and photographs of the repair process from the PVPHS. 

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Copyright 2020, John D. Tew
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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Saturday Serendipity (May 16, 2020)


This week the following are recommneded reads for your weekend.

1.   American Ancestors added a new database this week.  The 1861 Earle Report of Native Americans in Massachusetts is a census substitute that identified those residing in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts–as well as those formerly of the Commonwealth who then resided outside Massachusetts–who had Native American connections.  The database contains some 1,700 searchable names with tribal membership and the location for those still residing in Massachusetts.  You can read more about it here and see sample images.  

2.   If you have not heard of the coming new series on ABC--"The Genetic Detective"-- Dick Eastman, of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, posted a description of the series while updating the new start date (June 2 rather than May 19).  You can read his description here.

3.   If you have never heard of the "butterfly effect," you should read Judy Russell's latest post about how it applies most especially to genealogy.  The Legal Genealogist provides a simple and memorable example of how the butterfly effect applies in genealogy. Once read you will find numerous (perhaps countless) examples in your own genealogy.  Have a read here

4.   I have been looking at my desk in what we call "the genealogy room" of the new home we moved into just over 16 months ago when we relocated from northern Virginia to New Jersey.  I have been looking at it for weeks now and thinking that I really must do something about the mess it has become.  And then I read "Now's a good time to declutter your research desk!" posted on Organize Your Family History blog by Janine Adams.  Unlike Janine, I am too embarrassed to post a "before" photo of my desk, but I am inspired by Janine's post to take on the excavation project this coming week.  Perhaps Janine will inspire you too if you read her post here.

5.   James Tanner, of Genealogy's Star blog, posted Part Seven of his series "How to Analyze Gneealogical Sources."  You can read the latest installment here and get direct links to earlier installments in the series.

6.   Since I am always in search of photographs of ancestors and relatives to add to my genealogy trees–and when I am faced with the luck of a wealth of choices for an indiviual, I always get hung up on which one to choose (one from youth or one from maturity, etc).  So it was with interest that I read two posts this week by Marian Wood of Climbing My Family Tree blog.  You can read "Personalized Family Trees Are Great Cousin Bait" here and then surf on over to "Curating Faces for the Family Tree" here.   

7.   And finally, here is a long, but fascinating read highlighted this week in The Weekly Genealogist newsletter of NEHGS/American Ancestors about the use of genetic genealogy to solve previously unsolved, "cold case" crimes.
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Copyright 2020, John D. Tew
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Saturday, May 9, 2020

Saturday Serendipity (May 9, 2020)


Below are a few suggested reads for your Mother's Day weekend (after celebrating your mother of course). 😀

1.   As we all await the development and distribution of a safe, reliable, effective and approved vaccine and/or therapeutic drug to save us from the ravages of COVID-19, today marks the 60th anniversary of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the drug Enovid-10.  Enovid-10 was 100% effective and cost a mere 11 cents to produce.  It also had huge, far-reaching impacts on our social and cultural history.  You can read more about this drug and its impacts here (scroll down to the fifth entry).

2.   Jacqui Stevens, of A Family Tapestry blog, posted today about her experience with using DNA technology as a tool for filling in her family tree.  You can read her thoughts on the experience here.

3.   This week Randy Seaver, of Genea-Musings blog, posted an interesting piece titled "The Evolution of Obtaining Genealogy Images."  You can read the engaging post here

4.   Marian Wood, of Climing My Family Tree blog, especially loves the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Censuses–find out why by going here.

5.   This week James Tanner, of Genealogy's Star blog, posted Parts 5 and 6 of his series on analyzing genealogical sources.  Go to the blog home page here and then scroll down to the posts of May 3rd and May 6th,  respectively.  Mr. Tanner also posted a piece titled, "Top Ten Problems with Online Family Trees for 2020."  You can read his Top 10 list by going here.

6.   Heather Rojo, of Nutfield Genealogy blog, just posted today her annual notice about participation in her wonderful Honor Roll Project.  If you are not yet aware of this very worthy and useful project, it is a means of capturing--and making available and searchable online--the names of men and women who participated in some way in the various wars and conflicts in which the U.S. has been involved.  The means of capture is to photograph and transribe the names on the numerous memorials around the country that honor these men and woman by publishing their names on statues, plaques, shrines, etc.  Heather has a new approach this year on how to participate given the exigencies of the pandemic.  You can still participate in 2020.  Go here and find out how. 

7.   Judy Russell, of The Legal Genealogist blog, posted another very informative piece about copyright law this week.  This most recent copyright post answers a reader's question about resposibilities in publishing transcriptions of letters and other materials sent to her great grandfather from his half sister.  Anyone with similar materials created by a family member will want to read this post and apply the rules explained by Judy.  You can read the post here.

8.   And finally, another interesting post by Peter Muise, of NEW ENGLAND FOLKLORE blog.  This one is titled, "Snakes, Children, and the Human Soul: Ancient Folklore in New England."  You can read Peter's post here (unless you are ophidiophobic).   

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Copyright 2020, John D. Tew
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Saturday, May 2, 2020

Saturday Serendipity (May 2, 2020)


Here are some suggested reads for this first weekend of May.

1.   For me, next to the "Eureka moment" of finally making the connection to an unknown or suspected ancestor or relative is the "revelation moment" of learning a new research method or source to assist one's genealogy quest.  Janine Adams, of Organize Your Family History blog, provides just such a moment with her post about ICD codes on death certificates.  As Janine discusses, often there is much information to be gained from a death certificate -- name of deceased (of course), place and date of death, who reported the death, parents names perhaps, and cause of death.  I agree with Janine that so often the cause of death is handwritten and is all but illegible.  But then there could also be the ICD codes!  What are ICD codes?   ICD stands for "International Classification of Diseases."  If you are not aware of these tidbits of information, then go here and read Janine's post -- you will be happy you did.

2.   Here is just a sporadic reminder to discover Randy Seaver's regular "News Bytes" series on Genea-Musings blog.  Access the latest Bytes using this link.

3.   And speaking of searching out death certificates and wringing all the information possible from them, Jacqi Stevens, of A Family Tapestry blog, posted about a search for a death certificate and how the effort lead to a trip down a rabbit hole.  Read the instructive and entertaining post here

4.   For those with genealogy interests situated in New England, Heather Rojo, of Nutfield Genealogy blog, periodically provides a list of genealogy events related to New England.  The post this week provides online genealogy and local events for the month of May 2020.  Access the post here and regularly look for this feature of Heather's blog if you have New England genealogy interests.

5.   The Weekly Genealogist newsletter of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). announced a very interesting new database that might be well worth exploring as part of your genealogy research.  The database is the collection of NEHGS membership applications from 1845 - 1900.  The applications back then contained requested biographic and genealogical information.  You can learn more about the database here, but a membership is required to gain access to search.

6.   Two other articles of interest were highlighted in The Weekly Genealogist this week: (1) "How Museums Will Eventually Tell the Story of COVID-19," which can be accessed here; and (2) "Amid the Pandemic, a Family Learns their Neighbors Are their Long-Lost Relatives" found here.    

7.   Part Four of James Tanner's series "How to Analyze Genealogical Sources" was posted this week.  You can read the post here.

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Copyright 2020, John D. Tew
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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Saturday Serendipity (April 25, 2020)


Just a few suggested reads for this weekend.

1.   The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS provided links to two timely and interesting articles this week.  The first is about the evolution of the U.S. Census, which can be read here.  The second is about how people reacted to the 1918 Influenza pandemic and the methods they used to avoid infection.  You can access the article here.

2.   James Tanner, of Genealogy's Star blog, posted Part Three of his series "How to Analyze Genealogical Sources" this week.  You can read it here

3.   It seems many genealogy bloggers are less than enthused about the 2020 federal census ( I am one of them having previously blogged about my opinion here).  This week, Nancy Messier, of My Ancestors and Me blog, posted about comparing the 1850 Census with the latest 2020 Census.  Read her take on the winner between the two by going here.

4.   Have you ever considered Find-A-Grave as "cousin bait" -- a way to find and connect with previously unknown cousins?  Marian Wood, of Climbing My Family Tree blog, thinks that maybe we should and she provides an explanation and example of how and why.  You can read the post here.

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Copyright 2020, John D. Tew
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