Using food as a cultural touchstone in genealogy

I have a cookbook that was my grandmother’s. The cookbook, “Food for Two,” was acquired during her engagement to my grandfather. I also have handwritten recipes from another grandmother. These items are among my most treasured family heirlooms.

I have memories of my grandmothers making gingerbread cake, johnny cakes in the pan – fried in lard, beef and homemade noodles. Saturday evenings I watched my great grandmother make communion bread for Sunday’s service.

Though my life is surrounded by living memories of sharing food and life with family, I have also wondered what my ancestors’ lives were like. What their occupations were, what their environments – the places they lived – looked like, what music they listened to and I wondered what did my ancestors eat? All the things that make a life full.

My family has no sheen of the gentry on it and some of them lived in London. My ancestors who lived in London lived near the river Thames, and the river provides. And what does it provide? Eels. Eels from the Thames river. Cooked eels, eel pies and jellied eels.

Like many Midwesterners, I have plenty of Irish heritage, too. I have wondered: What did the Irish eat?

Even though corned beef is often associated with our Irish ancestors, it was not beef they were eating – that was for the wealthy British landowners. Potatoes – also often associated with our Irish ancestors – were brought in to feed the poor, Irish tenant farmers. Of course, when the cheap food source of potatoes failed in Ireland; many Irish migrated to America.

But when families have plenty of food, they use food to show love, celebrate, tell stories and heal.

Recently, foodways were used to bring healing to the native peoples in Minneapolis during the COVID pandemic.

Family foodways can turn into family businesses and then influence and change the surrounding culture as the Chili Queens of San Antonio did.

Food can be about survival, too. Michael W. Twitty explored his family’s experience of slavery through food.

Sometimes the recipes and the food are a clue in family history, as it was for Cuban-American, Genie Milgrom.

What will your family foodways tell you about your family history?

Books about foodways in the Indiana State Library’s collection to explore:
“Dellinger family : American history and cookbook,” ISLG 929.2 D357M
“Keaton Mills family cemetery, Egeria: an era: family stories and cookbook,” ISLG 929.2 M657MA
“Weesner family favorites: a recollection of old and new recipes,” ISLG 929.2 W3983R
“The cooking gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South Twitty,” Michael W., available as an e-book
“Historical Indiana cookbook,” ISLI 641.5 K72H
“Farm fixin’s: food, fare & folklore from the pioneer village,” ISLI 641.5 F233
“Aspic and old lace: ten decades of cooking, fashion, and social history,” ISLI 641.5 B295
“Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook of fine old recipes: compiled from tried and tested recipes made famous and handed down by the early Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania,” ISLM TX721 .P46 1971
“Quaker cooking and quotes,” ISLI 641.5 B655q
“Cooking from quilt country: hearty recipes from Amish and Mennonite kitchens,” ISLI 641.5 A215C
“The Catholic cookbook; traditional feast and fast day recipes,” ISLM 641.5 K21C
“Consuming passions being an historic inquiry into certain English appetites,” ISLM TX645 .P84 1971
“Rappite cookbook,” ISLO 641.5 no. 29

Online Sources about foodways to explore:
Jellied Eels
What the Irish Ate Before Potatoes
Is Corned Beef Really Irish?
Medieval Cookery
The Sifter A Tool For Food History Research
Historic Cookbooks on line
Generations of Handwritten Mexican Cookbooks Are Now Online
Mexican Cookbook Collection
Recetas: Cooking in the Time of Coronavirus

This blog post is by Angi Porter, Genealogy Division librarian.

Newly-digitized images from the Genealogy Division

Working at home during the pandemic has changed the way we approach our daily tasks. While we can’t do some things that we can do on-site from home, there are still a lot of projects that can be completed. Fortunately, I was able to upload several digitized images from multiple collections in our holdings during this time. Below are some of the images from two of the collections.

Vesper Cook grew up as Dorothy Vesper Wilkinson in Peru, Indiana. She was the curator of the Miami County Museum for 20 years and wrote some local and family histories. Her collection contains some of her research along with numerous photographs.

The photographs are of not only her immediate family, but also of her extended family as well as several her mother’s friends as teens and young adults.

Katherine Parrish was born in Indianapolis in 1921. She attended Shortridge High School and Butler University. She later married Milton Mondor. Her father was John P. Parrish, an architect who help design buildings at Stout Field along with several other buildings around Indianapolis, while her mother grew up in the area known as Nora.

The Mondor Collection has numerous family photographs, both intimate as well as staged. Most of them are of her immediate family but her parents’ extended family is also represented in the collection.

There are also photographs of John P. Parrish’s social life and his career as an architect. There are photographs of buildings around Broad Ripple and Washington Township as well as the hanger and administration building at Stout Field. He also sent many postcards home with images of the Murat Gun Club at Shiners conventions in the 1920s.

To view more digital images from the Genealogy Division check out our Digital Collections page.

Blog written by Sarah Pfundstein, genealogy librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3689 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

A year in the life of a librarian in the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library, part deux

Last November, I wrote about some of the research and activities we partake in as librarians in the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library. I asked the question, “Have you ever wondered what the librarians do all day and all year long?” Do you think we get bored or get tired of researching? Actually, working in the Genealogy Division is a very interesting and fun job! Let me tell you about some of the interesting research we’ve come across throughout this year. 2020 has been an interesting year, to say the least, and our patron’s queries did not disappoint.

Newspapers
Many times we try to find articles about ancestors in the different newspaper databases we have at the State Library. Hoosier State Chronicles offers free, online access to high quality digital images of Indiana’s historic newspapers. We also have other newspaper databases that are free to use within the library. Those include Newspapers.com, NewspaperArchive and the Indianapolis Star, which covers 1903 to the present.

Sometimes it’s the non-related articles on a page that truly catch the eye! Take for instance the article below, titled “Duck eats yeast, quacks, explodes; man loses eye.”

Here’s an informative article found in the Indianapolis News about a cyclone demolishing the towns of Jasper and Huntingburg, Indiana in June of 1890:

In Vincennes, The Western Sun wrote about an earthquake that hit on Dec. 16, 1816, just five days after Indiana became the 19th state of the United States.

One might also learn through advertisements in the newspapers that an ancestor was the owner of a local distillery supplying corn whiskey, rye whiskey, gin, etc., for Knox and the surrounding counties in Indiana. This ad is from the Dec, 30, 1816 issue of the Western Sun:

City directories
City directories are another useful tool used in locating information about ancestors. Since the federal census is conducted every ten years, that can leave a gap in knowing the location of an ancestor, especially if the ancestor lives in a different state listed on the subsequent census. A city directory usually includes an individual’s address, their occupation, spouse’s name and other helpful information. Be sure to take a look at the Table of Contents of a city directory. There is a wealth of information contained within the first 100 pages before the name and address listings. Many of these sections contain names of people. For instance, the fire department section names the captain of each fire station. The police department section names all of the current policemen that year and their specific job assignments. Looking through these first sections can also give you a flavor of the time period in which your ancestors were living. Here are examples from the 1890 Indianapolis Polk City Directory:

The advertisements within the city directories are also helpful in giving the flavor of the period. Sometimes you might just find an advertisement for a business that your ancestor owned or was working as an employee. We found advertisements of M.H. Farrell Monuments and Statuaries and McNamara, Koster & Co. in several Indianapolis City Directories. These were companies owned by ancestors of one of our patrons. Imagine their delight in seeing these from 1894, 1895 and 1897 Indianapolis Polk City Directories:

Very basic patron question opens up a can of worms
One of our genealogy librarians was assigned a basic question, which was to find the parent names of a man born in Indianapolis in 1883. The patron had a small bit of pertinent information that was helpful. This basic question ended up uncovering a wealth of information about his ancestor the patron had no idea about. Through the database Fold 3, our librarian found internal letters between FBI agents pointing to FBI files on this ancestor. The files related to the time the ancestor was a yeoman in the U.S. Navy during World War I and were also related to his involvement being a very strong and vocal advocate for an Irish Republic. The Irish Republic came into being in 1916. It then became the Irish Free State in 1922. The ancestor also believed in and marched with the Suffragettes.

The ancestor died in 1925 at the early age of 42. An obituary stated: “Episcopal divinity student; ordained Episcopal clergyman; yeoman in the United States Navy during the war; ardent advocate for an Irish Republic when moral and physical courage were the essentials; National Counsellor and co-organizer of the Friends of Irish Freedom in the United States; Archimandrite of the Greek Orthodox Church in North America; Graymoor Friar and student for the Catholic Priesthood: death.”1 Despite the pleasantries of this 1925 obituary, the ancestor had a brutal and tragic end to his life under mysterious circumstances.

Frankford Yellow Jackets football team
This year, we received an emailed photo of a 1927 Yellow Jackets team. The patron was pretty sure the team was from Indianapolis and was asking for help with identifying the building behind the steps where the team posed for the photo. One of the pictured players was an adopted ancestor of his wife. After discussion about the photo and not coming to any conclusion, we referred the photo to the librarians in our Manuscripts and Rare Books Division. Unfortunately, they were not able to identify the building either. As hard as we try, sometimes we are not able to find the answer to every question we are asked.

Through our research though, we found that this team was actually the Frankford Yellow Jackets, an NFL team from Philadelphia during the years of 1924-31. Frankford is a neighborhood in the Northeast section of Philadelphia. The Frankford Yellow Jackets won the NFL Title in 1926. Unfortunately, the team began to decline mainly due to financial hardships brought on by the Great Depression of 1930. Another reason for their decline was due to a 1931 catastrophic fire that damaged the Frankford Stadium. The team then had to find a different location to play their home games.

The 1931 season, which would be their last, ended on a good note, though. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Chicago Bears 13-12 at Wrigley Field on Oct. 26, 1931. As an added tidbit, this apparently marked the last time a Philadelphia-based NFL team would win an away game over the Bears until the Eagles beat them in 1999. The Yellow Jackets were involved in another piece of history in that during their short time in the NFL, their player, Ignacio Molinet, became the NFL’s first Latino player. In 1931, the Frankford Athletic Association was unable to find a buyer for their team; thus, they returned the franchise to the league. In 1933, the NFL granted an expansion franchise and the new owners named the team the Philadelphia Eagles, and as they say, the rest is history.

Marriage records
The past few years, and especially this year, we have received hundreds of phone calls and emails from patrons and county clerk offices requesting information about marriage records. This is due to the Federal Real ID Act that was passed in Congress in 2005. “Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, permit or identification card will be required to board commercial airplanes or enter certain federal facilities. A Real ID is indicated by the star in the upper right-hand corner of your driver’s license, permit or state identification card.” The Real ID documentation checklist can be accessed here.

If your current name does not match the name on your identity document (e.g., birth certificate) additional government-issued documentation will be required. This is where marriage records come into play. Any person who has been married and changed their name will have to acquire a certified copy of their marriage record(s) as part of the documentation needed to obtain a BMV Real ID. All original marriage records are kept within the county where the couple applied for their marriage license. The County Clerk Offices are the only place you can obtain a certified copy of your marriage record. We do not have any original marriage records at the Indiana State Library, nor can we certify a marriage record. What we can do is look up the couples names and year of marriage, usually on Ancestry’s Indiana Marriage Certificate Collection, and view a digitized copy of the marriage record. By viewing this copy we can help patrons and county clerk offices verify in which county the original record should be, along with verifying the exact date of marriage. Again, the marriage record is kept in the county clerk’s office where the couple applied for the marriage license. If the couple were married in a different county, the record goes back to the county where they applied and is filed there. For a complete county listing with contact information access the Directory of Courts & Clerks in Indiana.

COVID-19 quarantine time
During the COVID-19 quarantine time, we worked remotely at home five days a week. In addition to answering patron questions over the telephone and through our online Ask-A-Librarian service, we worked on some of our yearly projects. One of my projects is to find free online books that match the books in our Genealogy Collection. When I find an exact match in an online copy of one of our books, I send the link to our Cataloging Division and they add the link to the catalog record of that book. As you can imagine, it is a slow-going process, but well worth making books more easily accessible for our patrons.

Another project that a few of us in the Genealogy Division are working on is editing some of the records in the Indiana Marriages Index through 1850. There are 4,000-plus records in this index where the actual marriage date is unknown. Through research and a bit of sleuthing, we can usually locate the exact date of marriage and edit the record in the database so it is correct and will help our patrons.

One activity that all of us in genealogy took part in during the quarantine was watching pertinent genealogy webinars to learn as much as we can about different genealogy-related topics. One of the areas of interest that I felt I needed to know more about was World War I. Through The United States World War One Centennial Commission and The Doughboy Foundation, I was able to view several free and very informative webinars. The webinar “The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers” was excellent! This was the first time I had heard of these brave women. There is also a book by the same title authored by Elizabeth Cobbs. I highly recommend viewing any of these free webinars if you have an interest in World War I.

Fun names
As I shared in my November 2019 blog entry, we always run across interesting names during our research. Here are a few more to entertain you: Jacob Earpouch, Poeta Whitcomb, Minervabel Moof, Cyrenia Shurp, Bazil Liles, Ebenezer and Thankful Puffer, Permelia Agee, Colon Presser, Blandena Bumpus, Abner Flummerfelt, Harlem Pentecost, Daisy Buster, Erastis Colip, Pinkie Berry, Floyd Iven Buffenbarger, Goldy Tash, Siragusa Gandolfo, Weeney Feeney, Fred R. Begun and LaVona Vivien Pombert.

We never know what kinds of interesting topics we’ll receive from patrons who need our research help. We get a very wide variety of questions. This certainly keeps us on our toes and gives us lots of research adventures!

This post was written by Alice Winslow, librarian in the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library.

1. The Tablet, Brooklyn, NY 6 Jun 1925

Newspapers, a great source for family history… and other tidbits

Newspapers are a great source for genealogy and history information. They can provide new details about your family through obituaries, human interest stories and the society pages. Newspapers can also provide background stories and unexpected context that flesh out your ancestors’ lives and experiences. So, here are some examples of the family history information to be gleaned from newspapers.

Indianapolis Times, March 21, 1936, page 12

Vital records articles cover birth, marriage and death information. These can include vital statistics columns from local hospitals, marriage announcements in the society pages and obituaries. Those columns give you biographical details on specific ancestors and can help you outline familial structures. Obituaries are a particularly good source for details, as they often name parents, siblings and children. They are especially useful prior to the use of birth and death certificates.

Jasper Weekly Courier, June 1, 1894, page 4

Legal notice articles also provide insight into your ancestors’ lives. Court notices may list all the cases being heard in local courts or they may list cases where public notice is required, such as name changes. These columns also include listings of land transfers, so if you are researching property or trying to figure out exactly where your ancestors lived, these articles can help.

Richmond Palladium, June 29, 1921, page 4

Society pages document the doings of the members of a community. In big cities, these columns often focus on the lives of the rich and famous, but in smaller communities everyone is covered. Do you want to know what they ate at the annual community picnic?  Interested in what your great-grandmother got at her wedding shower? These articles are for you! Beyond knowing the minute details of your ancestors’ lives, those who attended momentous life events were often close friends and family, giving you an idea of who your ancestors knew and with whom they associated.

Indianapolis Times, February 23, 1934, page 30

Even advertisements tell us about our ancestors’ lives. Grocery ads, clothing ads, car ads, etc., show us the products people of the past bought and used. Some products are still on the market today, but many are things that are no longer available. Relatedly, columns covering fashion, cooking and housekeeping also show how people lived.

Daily Wabash Express, November 24, 1889, page 6

Local news columns show details about the past, from weather forecasts to crime reporting to local election results. These articles show the day to day events our ancestors experienced as well as local responses to and state and national events. They provide a contemporaneous perspective on past events.

Looking for newspapers? All the images used in this article were taken from Hoosier State Chronicles, the Indiana State Library’s free digital newspaper database. We also offer access to several subscription newspaper databases in the library, as well as the world’s largest collection of Indiana newspapers, accessible on microfilm.

This blog post is by Jamie Dunn, Genealogy Division supervisor.

Sharing your family story

When my oldest brother was a toddler, my grandfather would prop him up on his lap and spoon feed him a concoction he liked to call “coffee soup.” It was made from soaking soda crackers in sugary coffee. My grandfather lived through the depression and dishes like this were popular because they made the most out of a few kitchen staples when times were tough. Grandpa Harold passed away before I was born but the coffee soup story just happens to be one of my brother’s favorite memories to share.

I heard so many stories of my grandfather’s exploits growing up that he became sort of a folk hero in the family. I’m grateful to be a part of a family of fantastic storytellers. In fact, every time my family is together we tell stories. We dig up our most precious, most hilarious and special memories and recount them together. The facts may change as we age and our memories fade, but we all work together to put the important moments of our lives into context and bond over our shared history.

I never realized the true value of these stories until recently. Research has shown some surprising psychological benefits to family story telling, particularly with the younger generation, but the advantages last through all stages of life. Stories that focus on overcoming or facing challenges build resilience and fortitude when we are faced with difficulties of our own. Strong family narratives have been shown to help mitigate both stress and anxiety during tough situations.1  They help us to form our identities and find a sense of belonging.

Right now, as we manage the challenges presented by COVID-19, many of us are searching for ways to connect and make meaningful use of the time spent with family members. One way to do this is to plan some multi-generational bonding through sharing your family story. Stories can be told almost any time and in any place. Even mundane activities, like car rides, can be opportunities to share a story. If you are looking for some inspiration here are a few storytelling project ideas you may want to try with your family.

Interview a family member

David and Margaret Worton wedding, Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library

Interview a family member and record their story to pass along for generations. With just a little preparation and time you can uncover the challenges, triumphs and adventures that make up your family member’s life story. If you need help, the UCLA library has a Conducting Oral Histories with Family Members guide. This is a fantastic resource for each step of the project from preparing for the interview, organizing questions and making a recording.

Family Tree Magazine has a list of 20 open-ended questions to ask your relative during a family history interview. For an even more extensive interview, the My Heritage Blog has a list of 117 questions. You could use these lists for inspiration by creating some questions of your own based on what you want to know most about your family member’s life. You may get more out of the experience if you send the interviewee the questions in advance so that they can think about their answers ahead of time. Always respect their decision if they choose not to share certain information. This builds trust and will make them more comfortable sharing the rest of their story with you.

For those who would like to interview a family member that doesn’t live in the same household, there are a number of technological solutions like smartphone apps that record telephone calls to recording a video interview. Just be sure that the person you are interviewing approves of being recorded first. You don’t have to have a recording device, though. A piece of paper and a pencil to write down responses is all you really need to capture their story.

Work together on a family tree craft project
If you have some paper and old magazines on hand, Kinderart offers a tutorial on how to make a family tree collage. Since trips to the craft store may be a challenge right now, it’s convenient that most of the supplies required are items that many people already have handy. As you craft the tree you can tell stories about each person represented. Discuss their lives, pass on stories you’ve been told, or talk about any memories you have of them. This is a fantastic project for all ages and the end result is a work of art that could be displayed and cherished for generations.

Explore family photos

Nancy H. Diener collection, Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library

Open up your photo albums, digital photo gallery or those boxes of photos hanging out in the closet and go through them together. Talk about the people in the photos and tell stories about their lives. Some families have many of photos going back generations that they can share while others have more recent family photos on digital devices, like phones or computers. Recent memories are just as important for story building as those passed down over time. So don’t worry if you don’t have access to older family photos. Either way, this is a great opportunity to pass on and make memories.

Through email, text or social networking sites you could share the photos electronically with those you live apart from to create a connection and conversation across distances. For example, my grandmother has been adding her family photos to her Facebook newsfeed. She recently shared photos of her grandparents and later told me stories about the pictures. I would have never heard those stories if she hadn’t added these photos on social media. An added bonus is that now multiple family members have digital copies of these pictures, too.

Share your own story
Begin journaling or sharing your own life experiences. You have many irreplaceable family memories that only you can share with your loved ones. If you need help getting started the FamilySearch has a blog post with nine writing tips on how to tell your personal story.

As author Robin Moore says, “Inside each of us is a natural-born storyteller, waiting to be released.” Our memories are some of the most valuable gifts that we can share with one another. They are free, easy to pass on and they have the power to connect generations of family members together. Now is a great time to think about how our family stories have shaped and guided us throughout our lives and to create new stories for the future.

1 Feiler, B. (2013, Mar 17). “The stories that bind us: Children who know their family’s history are better at facing challenges.” New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.ilibrary.org/docview/1815060551?accountid=46127

This blog post is by Dagny Villegas, Genealogy Division librarian.

Stuck at home? Enriching activities to do with all ages from the Indiana Young Readers Center

Looking for extra activities to keep children busy? Explore some of these activities put together for you by the Indiana Young Readers Center, located in the Indiana State Library. Remember, children of all ages can benefit from play and reading. Keep your kids engaged with some of these resources.

Ages 0-5
Parents with very young children have a big challenge. Little children will not understand what is happening in relation to the current COVID-19 situation. They might sense the fear and anxiety in their parents and react to that by being cranky and unmanageable. Keep them engaged by trying some of the activities listed in our Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award Program Guides. We have three guides from 2018, 2019 and 2020 all chock-full of fun, developmentally-appropriate activities for little kids. Even if you don’t have the books listed in the guides, you can still do most of the activities.

For children ages 0-5 the best thing to do is to talk, sing, read, write and play with them. We know little kids can’t really write yet, so anything you can do to get them using their hands to work on fine motor skills is a good thing. Examples are block play, crafts, finger painting, playing with pots and pans and so much more.

Ages 6-9
Children in this age bracket are more independent and may be missing their friends and social connections. Involve them in planning out your day of activities. They can do so many things, and many of them independently. Have a game tournament. Start a reading challenge. Keep them involved in the world from inside your home by talking about nature. The Indiana Nature Conservancy has put together a guide for sharing with children to get them more connected to nature. Most of the activities in the guide can be done right at home.

This age group might enjoy many of the ideas in the aforementioned Firefly guides as well. The 2020 guide in particular has activities appropriate for older children on topics like Africa, optical illusions and pirates!

Ages 10 – 14
Even though your preteens might be the group most likely to tell you that they are bored, they are also developmentally ready for more mature thinking. They will have a better understanding of what is going on than little children and can brainstorm with you about how to spend the days in productive and balanced ways. Kids in this age group are often passionate about their interests and may be missing their friends.

Genealogy
The Indiana Young Readers Center has put together a genealogy program for children in this age group. Take this time to talk about family and the practice of genealogy. What is it anyway? Share family stories and history. Work through the program guide and learn about the kinds of documents that genealogists refer to when filling in their family trees. Do you have any documents in your home right now that you can examine?

Indiana History
If you are looking for more academic resources, take a look at this video about two of the murals located in the Indiana State Library. They discuss the history of Indiana Statehood. Talk to your school age students about how the United States was created. Who lived here when settlers arrived in Indiana? If you’d like to have a more robust conversation, take a look at the discussion questions that we use during our fourth grade field trips.

Still hungry for more history content? Explore the Indiana Historical Marker Program coordinated by the Indiana History Bureau. Every Indiana county has at least one marker. Choose an Indiana social studies standard for your student to work on. Fourth grade standards are especially relevant to Indiana history. Find a marker that relates to that standard. Take it further by researching a little more using Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections. This project could fill a whole morning and introduce your student to great online resources.

Keep a Journal – Good for all ages
Encourage children in all age groups to keep a journal about how they are feeling and what is going on around them. This is a historic time. Researchers in the future will be fascinated by primary resources like journals and diaries written by Hoosier children. Those future primary resources will not exist unless we create them now. Someday, your child could donate their journal to the Indiana State Library!

Letters About Literature  – Grades 4-12
Do your kids like reading and writing? Every year the Indiana State Library hosts a writing contest for students in grades 4-12 called Letters About Literature. Students write to an author, living or deceased, about a book that changed how they see themselves or how they understand the world around them. Students write to us every year about how books help them understand topics close to home like family and school or more sophisticated topics like racism and war. The contest for 2020 is closed, but students can always get a jump on working on their letter for next year. Visit the Letters About Literature website for more information about the contest. Your student could get published!

Ages 15-18
High schoolers are more likely to be able to fill their own time, however they may be in need of resources to help them with their existing school work. Be sure to get familiar with INSPIRE. INSPIRE is Indiana’s virtual online library, a collection of online academic databases and other information resources that can be accessed for free by Indiana residents. INSPIRE includes full-text magazine and journal articles, images, historic newspapers and much more. If students are frustrated about not finding sources for a paper or project, have them try INSPIRE.

Explore Old Journals
The Indiana Young Readers Center has put together a packet for teens interested in reading old diaries. Work through the packet to learn about the value of writing journals and researching old diaries. The diaries in the packet are written in cursive! Does your student know cursive? Take this time to teach your student the basics of cursive writing. Why is it important for students today to be able to read and write in cursive? Explore this question with your student. Fun fact: One of the diaries is from 1896 and the writer talks about playing euchre with her family!

Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections
Still looking for something to do? Take a look at some of the interesting things that the Indiana State Library has in our digital collections. From car racing to dogs to historic documents. We’ve got something for everyone:

Indianapolis 500, between 1926 and 1957
Artistic family tree (featuring President James Polk)
Pre-Photoshop trick photo postcard
Studio photos of Chow Chow dogs
South Shore Line broadsides featuring the “Workshop of America,” 1926
Miami Treaty of St. Mary’s, 1818
Preserved ivy taken from Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train 
Letter from D.P. Craig, a soldier with the 14th Indiana Regiment to his family, 1862
Awards given to African American WACs at Camp Atterbury, 1943
Women’s suffrage pamphlet with map, ca. 1915
Susan B. Anthony letter to Grace Julian Clarke, 1900-01-11 
Locks of hair presented to John. M Conyers (March 29, 1865)

In these unprecedented times, we hope these enriching activities will keep children of all ages engaged and busy.

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.

You joined what?! Not your average lineage societies

People choose genealogy as a hobby for many different reasons: to find out how an ancestor was involved in history, to explore family stories or to honor and preserve family culture and heritage. Some, however, pursue genealogy in order to join a lineage society.

What is a lineage society? A lineage society is a group that has requirements to join based on your ancestry. To join a society you will have an application to fill out, a membership fee to pay and you will need to provide genealogical documentation for your ancestor. Some lineage societies operate by invitation only.

To help a new potential member, many lineage societies will provide a list of qualifying ancestors on their web page.

A (very) brief history of lineage societies in the United States
After the American Revolution, Americans reveled in the newness of their country and rejected old world ways, including the elitism of genealogy and pedigree.

So, it should not be surprising that the first lineage societies, in what was to become the United States, were military based, such as the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts.

However, after the centennial celebration of the nation in 1876, Americans were eager to demonstrate their patriotism by showing their family involvement in the history of the nation. This resulted in the founding of the some of the best known genealogical lineage societies. For example, the Daughters of the American Revolution, founded in 1890, and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, founded in 1897.

Today, for many Americans, the idea of a lineage society may be old-fashioned and stuffy, but that isn’t necessarily the truth. After the recent popular culture explosion of genealogy from the 1970s to present – where all ancestors of all types are celebrated – there is now a lineage society for everyone.

I hope you enjoy perusing some of the more unusual lineage societies I have discovered. Please visit the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library if you would like to explore your own curious lineage.

A Collection of Curious Lineage Societies
Associated Daughters of Early American Witches
This society was founded in 1987. A potential member must prove descent from an ancestor who was officially accused, tried, convicted or executed for the practice of witchcraft in Colonial America prior to 1699. The society website includes a list of qualifying ancestors.

Descendants of the Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Kings of Britain
This society was founded in 1950. A potential member must prove descent from an illegitimate child, grandchild or great-grandchild of a king of England, Scotland, Wales, Great Britain or the United Kingdom.

Flagon and Trencher
This society was founded in 1963. A potential member must prove descent from an individual who conducted a tavern, inn or ordinary in the American Colonies, prior to 1776. The society website includes a list of qualifying ancestors.

National Society of Saints and Sinners 
This society was founded in 2010. A potential member must prove descent from a saint. The society website includes a list of qualifying ancestors.

Society of Descendants of Lady Godiva
Established 2014, a potential member must prove descent from Lady Godiva. The society website includes a list of qualifying ancestors.

For more Information
The Hereditary Society Community of the United States

For further reading:
“The History of American Lineage Societies” by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS; Lineage Societies: Leaving a Legacy for Future Generations, by Kimberly Ormsby Nagy, MD, PLCGS; NGS Magazine April–June 2019, available in the Genealogy Division reading room.

“Your Guide to Lineage Societies” by Lynn Betlock, American Ancestors, vol. 19, Summer 2018, available in the Genealogy Division reading room.

“Family Trees : a History of Genealogy in America” by François Weil. ISLG 929 W422F. Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library.

“Roots Quest: inside america’s genealogy boom” by Jackie Hogan. ISLG 929 H7148RO. Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library.

For further research:
“Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: true stories of scam, scandal, murder, and mayhem in Boston,1630-1775,” by D. Brenton Simons. ISLG 974.402 B747si. Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library.

“Tracing Your Ancestors from 1066 to 1837: a guide for family historians,” by Jonathan Oates. ISLG 929.12 O11tr. Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library.

“A Who’s Who of Your Ancestral Saints,” by Alan J. Koman. ISLG 929.102 K81W. Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library.

“Magna Carta Ancestry: a study in colonial and medieval families,” by Douglas Richardson. ISLG 929.72 R522m. Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library.

“Plantagenet Ancestry: a study in colonial and medieval families,” by Douglas Richardson. ISLG 929.12 R522p. Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library.

“The Taverns and Turnpikes of Blandford, 1733-1833,” by Sumner Gilbert Wood. ISLG 974.402 B642W. Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library.

“A Sketch of Fraunces’ Tavern and Those Connected with Its History,” by Henry Russell Drowne. [Pam.] ISLG 974.702 N567 NO. 1. Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library.

This blog post is by Angi Porter, Genealogy Division librarian.

New year; new genealogical you

The start of a new year generally means new goals, usually dealing with health goals or organizing one’s life in one way or another. If you’ve been thinking about how you could apply that to your genealogical research or want to try new things here are some suggestions for genealogy resolutions for 2020.

Photograph of Olive, Iris, Zula, Bernard and Eunice Chambers, children of Fred H. and Gladys (Sinnett) Chambers from the Indiana State Library’s digital collections.

Back up your data
If you’ve been putting off backing up your genealogy research for “later,” 2020 is a good year to tackle backing up your research. Losing genealogy data due to a hard drive crash or from an unexpected event like a house fire can be devastating. Whether you decide to back up your information in the cloud or with a hard drive keeping copies of your research in different places will help eliminate the chance of massive loss of one’s research.

Visit an institution that you have not been to before
As most researchers realize after doing genealogy research for any amount of time, not everything is available on the internet. Many materials can only be accessed in a library, archives or other local organizations since they are often under copyright and cannot be digitized. Often, regional or local institutions may have materials relating to local families in the area that larger institutions don’t have in their collections. Taking the time to visit area libraries or historical societies where your ancestors lived may yield new information or new clues if you’ve hit a brick wall.

Attend a genealogy conference
Attending a conference is a great way to pick up tips and new research techniques. Many regional and national conferences offer a wide variety of topics and presenters for a fairly reasonable price. Or perhaps attend a conference with a more narrow focus, generally on one specific topic or field of genealogy.

Some larger conferences offer a virtual pass, where, for a reduced rate, you can watch a selection of talks from the comfort of your home. The National Archives has a yearly Virtual Genealogy Fair that is free, the videos are available on YouTube and you can download the handouts to your computer.

Take a DNA test
Genetic genealogy has become a popular area of research. DNA kits from Ancestry and 23andMe are popular gifts for people wanting to learn more about their ethnicity or to connect with family members. The three big companies are the aforementioned Ancestry DNA and 23andMe, along with MyHeritage. For more information about the field of genetic genealogy check out the International Society of Genetic Genealogy.

Prioritize your resolutions
After you’ve created a list of things you would like to accomplish go through and identify the ones you want to tackle first. Perhaps you weren’t able to get through everything you wanted to last year, or you have one goal you really want finish, like scanning and organizing your family photos and other genealogical materials. Create realistic goals and timelines for completing each task, and have a plan in place on how you are going to accomplish everything you want to finish in the coming year.

Blog written by Sarah Pfundstein, genealogy librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3689 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Genealogy: More than just something that sounds like the blue guy from ‘Aladdin’

Have you ever been curious about your family’s history or heritage? If so, DNA tests are a great way to learn more about your genetic history. However, after receiving your test results, it can be difficult figuring out what to do next. There are a lot of different resources promoting family history research, but making sense of that information can be tricky and time-consuming if you aren’t aware of the right resources.

Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library

The Indiana State Library is the perfect place to begin or further your genealogy research. The Genealogy Division at the Indiana State Library is one of the largest collections of family history information in the Midwest. With more than 40,000 print items – family histories, indexes to records, how-to-books, cemetery transcriptions, family history magazines, military pensions and more – in the collection, the library is the perfect place to start or supplement your research.

If you’re interested in researching your family’s history, but don’t know where to begin, fear not! The Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library offers 30-minute individual consultation sessions with one of the reference librarians on the second Saturday morning of every month.

This blog post was written by Jordan Nussear, University of Indianapolis student.

How to find more of yourself at the Indiana State Library

Life’s Questions
Have you ever wondered where you come from? Maybe your question is less about origin and more about why you and your family are they way they are. It could be that you’re interested in history or tradition or maybe you’re seeking answers to life’s biggest question – “Who am I?” Whatever the reason might be, know that you’re headed in the right direction of discovery when you start with genealogy. DNA testing and genealogy research help you go beyond what you know from relatives or general historical documentation. Genealogy research and workshops are provided for free by the Indiana State Library. By saying “yes” to further discovery at the library, you are saying “yes” to the next individual step into your personal family history.

“What does this mean for me?”
If you’ve started to think about family heritage, you might be wondering how to begin. There are so many people, dates, locations and events to sort through, that it would be almost impossible to do it alone! That is the exact reason why ISL’s genealogy collection, with more than 40,000 print items, exists. With an extensive collection and resources to aid you in your genealogy journey, you will not have any trouble glimpsing into the history of your fellow Hoosiers. From marriage and birth records to death databases and indexes, there are many ways to begin with the basics. A “Researching Hard-to-Find Ancestors” guide is available for free. Manuscripts from the past are available to browse on the website as well. Online resources like webinars and videos are located easily under the Collections & Services, Genealogy Collections tab for your convenience.

This blog post was written by Jenna Knutson, University of Indianapolis student.