These are a few of my favorite books – Eye-catching book titles found in the Genealogy Division collection

As a genealogy librarian, I tend to be around a lot of books. While I am fond of all the books in the Genealogy Division collection, some of them just scream for extra attention from me. The books contained in this post screamed the loudest.

“Very Impudent When Drunk or Sober: Delaware Runaways, 1720-1783”
ISLG 975.1 B792VE

This book features newspaper ads about runaway indentured servants, political exiles, transported convicts and slaves. The ads are colorful, featuring the physical attributes, personalities and clothing of the runaways. An example from the book, page 133:

Thirty Pistoles* Reward. Wilmington, April 8th, 1762. Run-away on about the 27th of last Month from his Bail, and in Debt to sundry Creditors, to the Amount of several Thousand Pounds, a certain Robert Middleton, about 35 years old, 5 Feet 5 or 6 Inches high, of a dark Complection, middling round Vissage, sharp Nose, dark Eyes, chearful Countenance, much pitted with the Small-pox, middling well built, is free and agreeable in Company, forward in talking, Card-playing, and drinking, but not apt to be drunk, snuffs and sings well, but with a strong Voice; when he went-away wore a short black Wig, his Apparel uncertain…

*A pistole was a Spanish coin worth about one English pound.

Western Sun, Volume 1, Number 43, Vincennes, Knox County, 17 September 1808, Hoosier State Chronicles

“Harrison County Indiana Marital Adventures (divorces, adultery and bigamy) 1809-1856”
ISLG 977.201 H323KEA

The information contained in this book comes from the Harrison County Clerk’s Archives. An example from the book, page 11:

…for two and a half years after their marriage she conducted herself so as to preserve his esteem but now has abandoned herself to all the base desires of a prostitute and not regarding her plighted faith and the holy bonds of matrimony to forsake all others and cleave to him only, she has forsaken him only and cleven until all others to whom she could barter her wanton charm. That abandonment to the habits of a harlot and divested of the tender, affectionate sentiments and consortal love which is the crown and glory of a amiable wife, she has most shamefully defiled the marriage bed, by admitting to her illicit contact with profligate men with whom she had repeatedly committed the abominable crime of adultery and that nothing might be lacking to display the contempt of her morals and the state of her manners she still continued to live in a state of indiscriminate concubinage bestowing her lewd favors promiscuously on all who see them. She had commenced producing a brood of illegitimates whose origin is so doubtful that they can claim no man even as a prospective father and are, as it were, brought into the world without a male parent.

“Runaways, Deserters, and Notorious Villains from Rhode Island Newspapers”
ISLG 974.5 T244R V.1
ISLG 974.5 T244R V.2

The two volumes feature newspaper advertisements for runaway wives, thieves, deserters, slaves, and indentured servants. From volume 1, page 150:

William S. Bradlee, my husband, has endeavored to injure me in a public Manner, and circulate Reports the most inconsistent as well as vile. By Reason of his base Conduct, and stealing Articles from the House where I live, he has been turned away from it; and now to avoid Prosecution, has suddenly ran away, spreading his Lies as he went. It is well known that I have lived in a House for a long Time where four Families are closely conntected, all of whom will fully declare that I have never behaved in an unbecoming Manner in any thing, except in keeping with that most worthless of Men. Abigail Bradlee

“Sudden and Awful: American Epitaphs and the Finger of God”
ISLG 929 M282S

This slim book contains American epitaphs for the years 1750-1900. From page 2:

North Andover, Mass.:
Erected in Memory of
Mr. James Bridges
Who departed this life July 17th 1747
In the 51st year of his age.
Being melted to death by extreem heat

A photo of the gravestone can be found at Find-a-Grave.

“Psychic Roots: Serendipity and Intuition in Genealogy”
ISLG 929 J77P
“More Psychic Roots: Further Adventures in Serendipity and Intuition in Genealogy”
ISLG 929 J77M

These two books examine stories from genealogists that experience coincidences, chance and luck – something other than their research skills – that leads them to information about an ancestor.

One of my favorite stories is from the first volume. The story involves a man who locates a portrait of his ancestor. This story can be found on page 188, in the chapter “Being Led.”

The author, Henry Z. Jones, has written many genealogy books about the Palatines, in addition to being a former Disney actor, credited as Hank Jones. He has appeared in “Blackbeard’s Ghost” and “Herbie Rides Again.”

“Curiosities of the Search-room. A Collection of Serious, and Whimsical Wills”
ISLG 929.1 B995C

This book is a 1969 reissue of the original 1880 edition. The book features various wills of time and place. Examples of some chapter titles: “Excentric Wills,” “Puzzling Wills,” “Wills in Obsolete Language and in Rime” and “Vindictive Wills.” On page 103:

Will of Dr. Dunlop. The humorous will of Dr. Dunlop of Upper Canada is worth recording, though there is a spice of malice in every bequest it contains.
To his five sisters he left the following bequests:
To my eldest sister Joan, my five-acre field, to console her for being married to a man she is obliged to henpeck.
To my second sister Sally, the cottage that stands beyond the said field with its garden, because as no one is likely to marry her it will be large enough to lodge her.
To my third sister Kate, the family Bible, recommending her to learn as much of its spirit as she already knows of its letter, that she may become a better Christian.
To my fourth sister Mary, my grandmother’s silver snuff-box, that she may not be ashamed to take snuff before company.
To my fifth sister Lydia, my silver drinking-cup, for reasons known to herself.
To my brother Ben, my books, that he may learn to read with them.
To my brother James, my big silver watch, that he may know the hour at which men ought to rise from their beds.
“To my brother-in-law Jack, a punch-bowl, because he will do credit to it.
“To my brother-in-law Christopher, my best pipe, out of gratitude that he married my sister Maggie whom no man of taste would have taken.
“To my friend John Caddell, a silver teapot, that, being afflicted with a slatternly wife, he may therefrom drink tea to his comfort.”
While “old John’s eldest son was made legatee of a silver tankard, which the testator objected to leave to old John himself, lest he should commit the sacrilege of melting it down to make temperance medals.

From The Beggers Delight, Houghton Library – EBB65, EBBA 3493

“Lost Babes: Fornication Abstracts from Court Records, Essex County, Massachusetts, 1692-1745”
ISLG 974.401 E78S

This book is an index to fornication cases heard in Essex County, Massachusetts by the Court of General Sessions. This court was responsible for administrative and criminal cases. These cases were important to determine the parentage of the child and who would be responsible for the cost of the birth and the future support of the child.

A married couple could be brought before the court if the wife had given birth or were about to give birth to a child. If the child was born less than seven months after the marriage, the couple would be fined. This type of fornication case usually did not result in any lasting disgrace for the couple. There are many examples of these types of cases in the book.

A single woman brought before the court could be fined and sometimes whipped.
Some interesting cases from the book include: Page 2:

Term of Court 7 August 1694
1:75 Bethiah Witt of Lynn, widow, presented. Said she had a child but she was married to Solomon Rogeway, gone to sea, but could not give an account of who married her 40s

Page 36:

4:67 An infant child left at the door of Mr. Thomas Norton of Ipswich, 22 Dec 1721 in the evening, given to Overseers of the Poor

Page 61:

Term of Court 12 July 1737
10:495 William Diamond of Marblehead, shoreman, & Alice Fergusen of Marblehead, the wife of George Fergusen, cohabited three years in evil example to others, not guilty

“Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775”
ISLG 974.402 B747si

Though all true, this book reads like fiction. This readable book gathers its information from various sources such as dairies and newspapers.
Intriguing chapters include:

  • “Witch’s Brew: Witchcraft and Possession in Early Boston”
  • “Rogues’ Gallery: Scoundrels, Imposters and Schemers”
  • “Miscellany of Miscreants”
  • “Family Skeletons, Dangerous Liaisons, and Black Sheep”

“Curmudgeons, Drunkards, and Outright Fools: Courts-Martial of Civil War Union Colonels”
ISLG 973.7 A11LCU

This tome contains only the tastiest tidbits selected by the author from the court-martial transcripts at the U.S. National Archives. From Chapter 7, “And a Brandy for my Horse!  – Col. Newton B. Lord,” page 43:

Lord seems to have reserved his most dramatic acts for the home folks. At Brownsville, New York, in his native Jefferson County, ‘in full view of the citizens’ he rode his horse into a bar, procured a drink of brandy for himself and a second brandy for his horse, then fired his revolver into the ceiling. After riding out into the street, where a large crowd of the curious had now gathered, he rode once again into the bar, and ‘repeated his performance.’

Other interesting titles by this author, Thomas P. Lowry, include “Was Grandpa a Freeloader?: Civil War Pension Claims North and South” and “Utterly Worthless (One Thousand Delinquent Union Officers Unworthy of a Court-Martial).”

Note: Original spellings from the sources are kept.

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

Get more from Ancestry Library Edition

Ancestry Library Edition is the library version of Ancestry.com, which has one of the largest genealogy collections available online. Their database includes vital records, censuses, city directories and military and immigration records to name a few! Some of the library’s most popular collections are the digitized Indiana marriage certificates from 1960-2005, Indiana death certificates from 1899-2011 and Indiana birth certificates from 1907-1940. Records like these are a goldmine for those with Indiana ancestors.

Ancestry Library Edition is available for free on any of the Indiana State Library public computers. Currently – courtesy of ProQuest and Ancestry – it is also available to many public library cardholders from home until December 2021. Please note that this option is not available through your Indiana State Library card account, but if your public library subscribes to Ancestry Library Edition check with them about getting remote access while it lasts.

In addition to genealogical records, like the Indiana birth, marriage and death certificates, Ancestry also includes an abundant photograph collection to enrich your family history research. Photos bring family history to life and reveal details about our ancestors that we just can’t get from documents. Through pictures we can learn how an ancestor styled their hair, how they dressed, items they had in their home or what their hometown looked like. Here are a few of the unique photo collections you’ll find in the Ancestry catalog:

U.S., Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993

If you like to imagine the various odds and ends that could have made their way into your ancestor’s home, look no further than “The U.S., Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co.” collection. You can page through these catalogs on Ancestry just like you were holding a print copy. With many of the catalogs containing over a thousand pages each, it’s easy to spend an entire afternoon poring through them. Find bizarre products once sold to consumers, such as the deadly sounding “Arsenic Complexion Wafers” or the “Asbestos Stove Mat” for sale in the spring of 1897 catalog. These catalogs sold more than you could possibly imagine like clothing, tools, games, tableware, candy, houses and so much more!

Fall 1921

Because they were so expansive, the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogs are also helpful to date a photo of an ancestor. Flip to the women’s or menswear sections to explore fashions or housewares during certain years and look for similar styles to those represented in the picture.

U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999

Shortridge 1922

Ancestry is home to the world’s largest searchable online yearbook collection. With over 10,000 yearbooks, you are certain to find a photo of an ancestor included. You can also search for a favorite celebrity or flip through the yearbooks from a favorite era. Did you ever wonder what Indiana native John Mellencamp looked like in his high school yearbook photos? Search the collection for his name to find out!

Many of the yearbooks contain details that offer us a glimpse into our ancestor’s personalities. In this Shortridge Annual from 1922 Rezina Bond is described as, “A cute little girl with bobbed hair, who doesn’t like very much to go to school.” Like the Sears, Roebuck, and Co. catalogs, these images and details are useful for dating family photos. One advantage they have over the catalogs is they depict what people actually wore in a specific time and place, rather than the idealized fashions in catalogs.

U.S., Identification Card Files of Prohibition Agents, 1920-1925

Prohibition agents were responsible for enforcing the 18th Amendment, which banned the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages. Their duties included making investigations, arresting bootleggers, closing down speakeasies and breaking up liquor rackets. Sometimes their work even involved run-ins with organized crime.

The collection contains identification card files for prohibition agents, inspectors, warehouse agents, narcotics agents and more. Search for ancestors who worked as agents or browse through the collection to see the faces and names of the individuals who held these positions. Famous prohibition agents such as Isador Einstein and partner Moe Smith, who would wear over-the-top disguises like a gravedigger or opera singer, are represented in this collection.

Motion Picture Studio Directories, 1919 and 1921

1921 Motion Picture Studio Directory

If you are interested in silent film era history, or have an ancestor who worked in the business, the 1919 and 1921 Motion Picture Studio Directories are right up your alley. These directories don’t simply include actors, they also list directors, writers, cinematographers and more. Discover wonderful biographical details like addresses, birth dates, career summaries, physical description and skills. Learn more about your favorite Hoosier actors, such as Pomeroy Cannon from New Albany and Monte Blue from Indianapolis.

U.S., Historical Postcards, 1893-1960

This collection has over 115,000 historical postcards searchable by state, keyword or location. If you are interested to know what your ancestor’s hometown looked like during a certain time you can search here for a postcard of it. This is also an interesting collection to look for historical images of your own city or town. This postcard captures Washington Street, a few short blocks away from the Indiana State Library.

To access these collections and to explore everything Ancestry Library Edition has to offer, visit the card catalog. Hit the search field in the menu along the top of the homepage and select Card Catalog. From there, browse through the collections, use the search boxes or check out the new stuff featured on the page. Filter your results by collection types, locations or dates in the menu on the left side of the page. If you click on Pictures in the left menu, you’ll be taken to most of the collections I’m featuring in this blog post, in addition to the various other photo collections in Ancestry.

I hope you enjoy taking a trip back in time and explore these collections the next time you visit the Indiana State Library or at home while it lasts.

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

Unusual sources to use for your family’s story

When researching genealogy, a way to make our ancestors’ stories really interesting is to search out each and every nugget of information we can find. When searching for these bits of information, you’ll need to think about who your ancestor was, what your ancestor did, where your ancestor was and when your ancestor lived. Answering these questions can lead you to some unusual resources. Let’s look at some of these resources.

Photo by Benny Mazur. “Notch-ear.” License agreement.

One of the earliest forms of livestock Indiana pioneers kept were pigs. Pigs could be left to roam and forage in the woods and then captured when it was time for butchering. At butchering time, to know whose pig was whose the pioneers would make different notches in the pigs’ ears. The owner of the pigs could then register their stock mark at the county courthouse.

I was fortunate to find my ancestor Absalom Hoover’s stock mark in the pamphlet files in the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library. My ancestor’s stock mark looks like this: “Absalom Hoover Stock Mark, a crop off the right ear and a Slit in the left Recorded 11th March A.D. 1835  Saml Hannah Clk” Wayne County, Indiana, Stock Marks, Record A, Mar. 1815-Apr. 1822, call number: [Pam.] ISLG 977.201 W UNCAT. NO. 6.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As I found out, my ancestors were not just farmers, but also tavern owners. You may discover that your ancestor was also a tavern owner. To start your search for a tavern owner ancestor, search the Flagon and Trencher Society’s Ancestors lists. Once you have determined your ancestor was a tavern owner, you can search for tavern histories and petitions to open a tavern in court records. My ancestor Enos Veal was a tavern owner in New Jersey. Using the Family Search database – free with registration – I was able to find his tavern petition in the Early Courthouse Records of Gloucester County, New Jersey.

Evelyn Lehman Culp Heritage Collection, Nappanee Public Library, Nappanee, IN.

If you have relatives that lived in Delaware County in Indiana, a fun resource to use is the What Middletown Read database. In this database, you can search by name to see what your ancestors read. For example Maggie Gessell read 115 items, one of which was “When Charles the First was King: A Romance of Osgoldcross, 1632-1649.” There is supplemental information on the database about Maggie Gessell, so from this database alone – I know that Maggie’s mother was Narcissa Gessell, her son was Arthur C. Osborn and she was divorced. From the Transcribed Ledger data on the database, I also know that she lived at 418 E. Jackson St. and was once known as Mrs. Maggie Vance.

The Daily Banner, Greencastle, Putnam County, 9 April 1968 page 1. Contributed by DePauw University Libraries via the Hoosier State Chronicles database.

The places our ancestors lived are full of events that our ancestors experienced. When my father was a teenager in Richmond, Indiana in the 1960s he experienced a gas explosion that could be heard and felt all over town. To find out more about this event, I checked the GenDisasters database. I found the event and discovered that it happened in April of 1968. To learn more about the disaster, I searched the newspaper databases provided by the Indiana State Library. You can search the following databases at the library: Newspaper Archive and Newspapers.com; the Hoosier State Chronicles is available for use from your home. I also could have searched the city of Richmond newspapers on microfilm in the Indiana Division of the Indiana State Library for even more information.

I encourage you to try some of these unusual resources to complete the picture of who you ancestors were and what your ancestors did.

Additional online sources to explore:
Index to Livestock Marks Registered in Hendricks County, Indiana (1824-1848) – provided as a free resource from the Allen County Genealogy Center.
Stock Marks Recorded in South Carolina, 1695-1721
Stock Marks of Tyrrell County, North Carolina 1736-1819
Stock Marks Aren’t Just Brands – Use them to Identify People
Some Early Indiana Taverns – Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 1, Issue 2, June 1905
Tavern Keepers 1797-1862 – Delaware County, N.Y.
Little pilgrimages among Old New England inns; being an account of little journeys to various quaint inns and hostelries of colonial New England
Records relating to Taverns – State of New Jersey Department of State
Tavern Petitions, 1700-1923 – Chester County Pennsylvania Archives

Sources to explore at the Indiana State Library:
“Index to Livestock Marks Registered In Hendricks County, Indiana (1824-1848)” – provided as a free resource from the Allen County Genealogy Center
“Stockmarks, Kosciusko County, Indiana, 1836-1863. Townships: Franklin, Jackson, Plain, Turkey Creek, Wayne, VanBuren,” [Pam.] ISLG 977.201 K UNCAT. NO. 3
“Stock mark record book Warrick County, Indiana,” ISLG 977.201 W295ST
“Pike County, Indiana register of stock marks,” ISLG 977.201 P636HP
“Stock marks [Decatur County, Ind., recorded 1822-1871],” ISLI 977.201 D291S
“Wayne County, Indiana, stock marks, Record A, Mar. 1815-Apr. 1822,” [Pam.] ISLG 977.201 W UNCAT. NO. 6
“Warren County, Indiana : stock marks recorded Oct. 1827 to May 1931,” ISLG 977.201 W286DW
“Curtis Gilbert’s list for marks and brands on stock [taken from his account books at Fort Harrison, Sullivan County, Indiana],” [Pam.] ISLG 977.202 F UNCAT. NO. 1
“Old taverns: an interesting pamphlet descriptive of historic taverns, ordinaries, inns, hotels and houses of entertainment as well as customs and rates,” [Pam.] ISLG 976.901 H323 NO. 2
“The taverns & turnpikes of Blandford: 1733-1833,” ISLG 974.402 B642W
“A sketch of Fraunces’ tavern and those connected with its history,” [Pam.] ISLG 974.702 N567 NO. 1
“Washington Hotel and Tavern ledger, 1789-1793, Princess Anne, Somerset County, Maryland,” [Pam.] ISLG 975.201 S UNCAT. NO. 1
“Taverns and travelers inns of the early Midwest,” ISLI 647.94 Y54t
“What Middletown Read: print culture in an American small city,” ISLI 028 F324w

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

Introduction to using Fraktur records in genealogy

The term Fraktur refers to a style of handwriting or typeface. The name for the lettering comes from the Latin word fractūra, meaning broken; as in the “broken” way in which the letters are formed as compared to other hand writing and type styles which contain more curves.

An example of Fraktur lettering

However, the Fraktur that will be examined in this blog post refers to folk-art certificates, these certificates use the Fraktur style of writing along with decoration. These Fraktur certificates were produced by the Pennsylvania Dutch. The Pennsylvania Dutch were the German speaking immigrants that settled in Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries. Many of these Pennsylvania Dutch later made their way into the Midwest.

An example of a Fraktur certificate

The certificates of the Pennsylvania Dutch include baptismal certificates, birth records, marriage certificates and family registers. The most common of these certificates are the baptismal certificates, known as Taufschein/e, and birth records, known as Geburts Schein.

These Fraktur certificates of the Pennsylvania Dutch are part of the long history of illuminated texts that reaches back to the Middle Ages. The Fraktur records are personal ceremonial documents kept by the family, not an official vital record made by church or state. As a folk art, the first Frakturs were hand made by schoolmasters and clergymen. In later periods, the Frakturs included decorative printed certificates that the families could fill out with names and dates.

As the use of the German language or the Pennsylvania Dutch language decreased in later generations of Pennsylvania Dutch; the use of the Fraktur certificates also decreased.

Books and magazines about Fraktur in the Indiana State Library’s collection to explore:
“The Genealogist’s Guide to Fraktur : for genealogists researching German-American families,” call number: ISLG 929.13 E123GFR

Der Reggeboge. The Rainbow (magazine) Volume 54, 2020. Number 1 & 2 – Fraktur Fest, call number: ISLG 974.8 R154 v.54 #1/2

“Virginia Fraktur; Penmanship as Folk Art,” call number: ISLG 975.5 W973V

The Pennsylvania Dutchman (magazine), call number: ISLG 974.8 P415D

Pennsylvania Folklife (magazine), call number: ISLG 974.8 P415d

“Pennsylvania German Folk Art, by John Joseph Stoudt,” call number: G 974.8 P415pp v. 28 (currently in cataloging)

“Pennsylvania German Illuminated Manuscripts” by Henry Stauffer Borneman, call number: G 974.8 P415g v. 46 (currently in cataloging)

“The Heart of the Taufschein: Fraktur and the Pivotal Role of Berks County, Pennsylvania,” call number: ISLM GR110.P4 A372 v.46

Online sources about Fraktur to explore:
The Pennsylvania German style of illumination
This is the best online source of the history of Frakturs.

Revolutionary War Frakturs, the U.S. National Archives
Many widows sought to claim pensions from the government. These frakturs are those that were sent to the government to prove their relation to the deceased soldier and support the widows’ Revolutionary War pension applications.

Pennsylvania Folklife Vol. 28, No. 1
Article: “Taufscheine – A New Index for People Hunters,” page 29

Pennsylvania Folklife Vol. 28, No. 2
Article: “Taufscheine – A New Index for People Hunters – Part II,” page 36

The Pennsylvania Dutchman, Vol. 3 No. 10
Article: “Johann Valentin Schuller  – Fractur Artist and Author.” An example of the types of articles you can find about Fraktur in the Pennsylvania Dutchman magazine.

Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts
Collection: Fraktur

Pennsylvania German Broadsides and Fraktur
Penn State University, Rare Books and Manuscripts in the Special Collections Library

Pennsylvania German Fraktur and Manuscripts
Free Library of Philadelphia

Pennsylvania German Fraktur Collection
Franklin and Marshall College

Pennsylvania German fraktur, broadsides, and related drawings
Library of Congress

Ursinus College Fraktur Collection

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

Indiana Legacy: An important tool for finding people of the past

Indiana Legacy allows everyone to search, from the comfort of their own home, for information on individuals going back to the early 1800s. One can research all kinds of pertinent information: birth, marriage, divorce and death.

Indiana Legacy combines existing Indiana State Library databases with VINE, the Vital INformation Exchange. VINE allows libraries to contribute and share records that they possess. Each record displayed shows the record type with an ID number, the name of the person, date, place and source of the record. Finding information this way saves a great deal of time and effort because you are looking at a transcript of the original document with the added benefit of knowing where an exact copy can be obtained.

And if you have difficulties or see a mistake that you can correct, please do so by using the Chat with a Librarian option located on the main Indiana Legacy page. All contributions are suggestions are welcome.

This post was written by Joan Gray, Indiana State Library.

So, what about those genetic DNA tests you can take nowadays?

Do you know who your ancestors are? Do you know which countries they came from? Did you know that taking a DNA test will help you discover your own ethnicity estimates?

I’d like to briefly highlight five major DNA testing companies in order to acquaint you with what each company has to offer. There are many more DNA testing companies available, but this article will compare five major companies. But first, let’s briefly talk about the basics of DNA. I’m not a science person, so this will definitely be a very basic explanation. I went into a DNA test without any knowledge of DNA except that I knew it as the carrier of genetic information and that our DNA is arranged into chromosomes, grouped into 23 pairs. I could also recognize the double helix images of DNA structure.

It’s important to keep in mind that siblings in a family do not inherit the exact same DNA from their parents as another sibling inherits. When I first had my DNA tested it was after my sister had hers tested. Remember now, I told you I’m not a science person, so I assumed that my ethnicity estimates from my DNA would be the same as my sister’s ethnicity estimates. We have the same mother and father, so I thought we would have the same ethnicity estimates. Wrong! I’ve been hooked and fascinated with DNA genetics ever since.

I later learned that everyone gets half of their DNA from their mother and half from their father. Which DNA is inherited from each parent is totally random. Inherited DNA is reduced each generation, as you can see by a table from 23andMe, “Average Percent DNA Shared Between Relatives,” that summarizes both the average percent DNA shared for different types of relationships, and the expected range of percent DNA shared. For example, we inherit 50% DNA from each parent, about 25% DNA from each grandparent, about 12.5% DNA from each great-grandparent, and so on.

Ancestry has a great article on understanding inheritance:

“By understanding how DNA is inherited, you can see how and why you have some DNA segments that match your relatives, and others that do not, why you may or may not have inherited DNA segments associated with a certain ethnicity, and why getting multiple people in your family tested can help you discover more of your family’s genetic tree.”

Let’s talk ethnicity estimates. To date, no ethnicity gene has been found in the human genome. Your own ethnicity estimate is just that, an estimate. It is based upon comparing your DNA with known members of different ethnicities in the testing company database. By this comparison they will estimate how closely your DNA matches with each ethnic group. All of the testing companies I’m comparing will give you ethnicity estimates. The picture below is a screenshot of my own ethnicity estimate from Ancestry. I took my DNA test from Ancestry about eight years ago. The screenshot shows that my DNA is about 70% from Ireland. On the right side of the screenshot and directly underneath Ireland, there are particular regions and towns of Ireland where they estimate my ancestors lived. Then it estimates that I have 20% DNA from Scotland, 8% DNA from England and Northwestern Europe and about 2% Germanic Europe.

My sister and I had researched our genealogy long before we each took a DNA test. Plus, with family history and stories passed down, we knew we had strong ties back to Ireland. With the maiden name of McNamara, that’s a given. We also have these very Irish surnames on our family tree: Murphy, Farrell, McKeown, Kelly, MacMeehan, Flannery and Murray. We also have our great, great, great grandfather Patrick MacDonald born in Glencoe, Argyll, Scotland around 1790. As a young man he went to Ireland and married Susan Murray. They lived and raised their family in County Monaghan, Ireland before emigrating to Ontario, Canada. You’ll note that County Monaghan is one of the areas mentioned in my ethnicity estimate above.

Below is a screenshot from Ancestry that shows a comparison of the ethnicity estimates for me and my sister. There are some very real differences here. She has 8% DNA from Germanic Europe, where I only have 2% in my DNA. It’s interesting to note that we also have many German names in our tree, including Metz, Demer, Spitzmesser and Burkhardt. She seems to have inherited more of the German DNA and about twice as much English and Northwestern European DNA in our family than I have inherited.

Along with ethnicity estimates, all of the companies I will be comparing also name relatives that are genetic DNA matches. My matches include thousands of people on Ancestry that share some of my DNA, thus we are related to one another. This was mind boggling to me! They are listed from closest relation – my sister – to matches that share less than 1% DNA with me. Unfortunately, I have not had much time to explore these matches other than the cousins I already know about. Interestingly though, a distant cousin, unbeknownst to us, contacted my sister a few years ago and they’ve been emailing ever since. This distant cousin lives in Ontario, Canada and is related to our Scottish MacDonald clan that emigrated there in the 1800’s. She has been able to fill us in on a lot of that family history that we had not known before, along with sharing some photographs too. It’s up to each individual as to how much you want to pursue the DNA matches you find out about.

According to Genetics Digest, there are three essential tips you must know before buying a DNA Test.

  1. Buy from a company that protects your data.
  2. Find a test that reveals when and where your ancestors appeared.
  3. Follow the science and genetic experts.

I would like to add that it’s important to look over each company’s website and learn about what they offer. Read the FAQ’s and comments from users. Also, decide what is important to you and what you hope to learn by having your DNA tested. The price of the kits range from $79 -$99, but keep an eye on their websites around different holiday times for sales on the kits.

One more thing to consider before taking a DNA genetic test is that there might be information disclosed to you that you weren’t expecting: adoptions, illegitimacies, name changes and non-paternal events, where parentage may be unexpected. It is suggested to be emotionally prepared for whatever the results of the testing shows.

I have prepared a chart that compares these five different DNA testing companies: MyHeritage, Ancestry, Living DNA, Family Tree DNA and 23andMe. The comparison chart covers such criteria as the number of geographic regions each test company covers, health and well being upgrade availability, personal traits upgrade availability, exploration of ancient ancestry, advanced DNA testing availability, ability to upload DNA test results to other company sites, ancestry timeline, tracking possible migration routes, cost and other features.

Additionally, here is just a sampling of some of the DNA related books we have in our Genealogy Collection. Come visit us sometime and take a look at them. As of this writing in April of 2021, we are open, but require patrons to make an appointment first. You can make an appointment by calling us at 317-232-3689 or through our Ask-a-Librarian service.

Also, if you are interested in learning more about this fascinating subject, we invite you to attend our “Virtual DNA Workshop” scheduled to take place in May of 2021.

The Indiana State Library Genealogy Division and the Central Indiana DNA Interest Group are partnering to present a “Virtual DNA Workshop” from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, 2021. This is a free event, but registration is limited to the first 200 people. It will take place via Zoom.

The workshop will focus on using various DNA tools to understand how people are connected to their DNA matches. Speakers from CIDIG will cover topics on understanding genetic genealogy; reviewing DNA results; comparing shared matches; building family trees based upon DNA matches; and using various DNA tools to analyze matches. Using the Zoom chat feature, attendees will be able to submit questions during the sessions and during the panel discussion at the end of the program. You will find a full description of the three sessions at the registration link below.

If you miss this May workshop, don’t despair. The State Library and CIDIG will be partnering again in the Fall of 2021 to present another DNA Workshop.

You can register for this free event here.

Disclaimer: The author of this blog and the Indiana State Library in no way endorse any of the DNA testing companies referred to in this blog. The existence of the provided links do no imply endorsement of the services or products of these companies.

Bibliography:
23andME
Ancestry DNA
Central Indiana DNA Interest Group
Family Search Wiki. DNA Basics
Family Tree DNA
International Society of Genetic Genealogy; Genetics Glossary
International Society of Genetic Genealogy; Wiki, Autosomal DNA statistics 
Living DNA
My Heritage DNA

This blog post was submitted by Genealogy Division librarian Alice Winslow. For more information, contact the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3689 or submit an Ask-a-Librarian request.

Genealogy research in print materials

Genealogy research is so much easier than it’s ever been, thanks to the many subscription services and free databases available to researchers in their homes at any time of day or night. These databases, however, contain only a small fraction of the genealogical information available to family historians. If you have exhausted the online resources available on your family, or if you are looking for new and interesting sources for research, it may be worthwhile to look at print materials.

This series of books documents the descendants of the Mayflower passengers.

Genealogy libraries have a wide variety of print materials, and not just books. Our collections also include vertical files, maps, family trees, Bible records, manuscript collections, photograph and more. All of these materials contain family histories, indexes to records, research notes and all sorts of information on individuals and families.

If you visit a genealogy library, there are so many books and materials available that it’s easy to lose track of what you’re looking for as you browse through so many interesting-looking books. So it’s helpful to have a research plan, even before you visit a library.

As part of your research plan, you can identify which ancestors you want to research, and in what time period and geographic area they lived. That way, you can more easily identify which books and reference materials will help with your research and which ones will not. You may also want to consider books about families that are connected to yours.

Researchers of connected families may have written about your family in their books.

You can also search a library’s catalog online before you visit to see if they have books on a specific family or topic. If you are interested in a broader search for potential research materials, WorldCat is a great place to start.

WorldCat main page.

WorldCat is a shared library catalog that includes libraries from around the world. You can search by title, author or any subject or surname that interests you. Not every library participates in WorldCat, but many libraries are included. This can help you find if anyone has ever written a book on your family, and if so, which libraries own it.

When you visit a library and begin to research in the books that interest you, also take a peek at the books shelved around the books you want. While searching the catalog definitely helps you find the books you want, you may also find something on the shelves that you didn’t know you needed until you see it. You may also find books with alternate spellings of your family name that you did not consider while searching the catalog.

Names often changed spelling over time, so considering alternate spellings may lead to resources you otherwise might have missed.

To make organizing your library research easier when you get back home, as you take notes on the materials or make copies from the books, copy the information from the title page so you know what book you got the information from. And if you check a book and do not find anything relevant to your research, note that as well.

So, if you are interested in expanding the scope of your genealogy research, consider branching out into print materials. There is so much more that you can discover about your family tree!

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

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