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. 

Researching in ISL Digital Collections: Indianapolis Bicentennial

The city of Indianapolis is about to turn 200 years old and the Indianapolis Bicentennial Commission is planning a celebration which will begin in June 2020 and last through May 2021. Those planning to celebrate can check the commission’s website for announcements, contests, events and a list of commission members. Since the Indiana State Library is continually adding materials to its online collections, now seems like a great time to check the collections for information about Indianapolis in order to gear up for the forthcoming festivities.

The Indiana Historical Legislative Documents collection contains the earliest volumes of the Indiana Acts. The volumes have an index to help locate specific laws passed in a year by the General Assembly. In this case, browsing the index and noticing “Seat of Government” points toward Indiana Acts 1820, Chapter 10, “An Act appointing Commissioners to select, and locate a site for the permanent seat of government of Indiana,” which was approved Jan. 11, 1820, and would move the state capitol from Corydon to a new location to be determined.

Indiana Acts 1821, Chapter 18, “An Act appointing commissioners to lay off a town on the site selected for the permanent seat of government,” was approved Jan. 6, 1821, and stated “the said town laid out as the permanent seat of government for the state of Indiana shall be called and known by the name of Indianapolis.” It was then necessary to plat it out on a map.

Indiana State Library Map Collection contains a digital copy of Plats of the town of Indianapolis, which shows maps of the downtown Indianapolis mile-square donation lands with the names of the first patentees. It includes a comprehensive list of Indiana laws from 1821 to 1913 related to the lots and out-lots. The Indiana Archives and Records Administration has additional details about the Indianapolis Donation and the official state land records held there.

The Indiana Documentary Editions collection contains the Messages and papers of Jonathan Jennings, Ratliff Boon, William Hendricks, 1816-1825. Jonathan Jennings was the governor at the time and issued a proclamation calling for the commissioners to meet in 1820 to select a site for the new capitol. John Tipton was one of those commissioners. The book “John Tipton papers. Volume I: 1809-1827” includes the transcript of the journal Tipton kept during the May 17-June 11, 1820 expedition. Here’s a bonus: the Rare Books and Manuscripts online John Tipton Collection contains digital copies of Tipton’s 1820 journal in his own handwriting.

There is a wealth of information not only in the Indiana State Library’s physical collections, but also in the ever-growing online digital collections. As the Indianapolis Bicentennial approaches, more online materials about the history of the city could show up. Keep searching!

This blog post was written by Indiana Division Librarian Andrea Glenn. For more information, contact the Indiana Division at 317-232-3670 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Photograph family record of Henry Curtis and family

Chart after repairs and cleaning

This remarkably complete “Photograph Family Chart” shows the parents and children of Henry Curtis and Elizabeth Bever. The chart was created by J. Boller Sexington and is not dated. Although many examples of charts similar to this exist in libraries and private collections, this chart is unique in that every photograph slot is filled. The decorative elements on the chart are a mix of watercolors and ink.

This chart recently underwent minor repairs in the library’s conservation lab to clean the chart itself as well as straighten the photographs. As seen in this before photo, many of the images had moved with time and been reattached with tape. Also, the top edge of the chart had sustained several tears.

Back of chart before repairs

In order to repair the chart, all the photographs had to be removed. Once removed, the photographer’s marks as well as background details in the images were revealed.  These details provided more information about the family, but sadly, most people were not identified. The photographs are a mix of tintypes and albumen prints, primarily from photographers in Illinois. Some were cut down to better fit in the chart.

Selected images from the chart

Once the chart was cleaned and repaired, the photographs were remounted – without tape! – and realigned. The chart is now available to researchers in the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library.

Curtis family in the 1860 Census.  Illinois.  Tazewell County. 1860 U.S. Census, population schedule. NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 232. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Record Administration, n.d.

Further research on the Curtis family revealed that Henry was born in New York, while Elizabeth was born in Ohio. They married in 1838 in Fountain County, Indiana, and lived in Indiana until about 1850, when they moved to Illinois. They eventually settled in Tazewell County, Illinois, where most of the photographs were taken. Since many of the photographs are unlabeled, they images may be of Henry and Elizabeth’s children, or they may be of later members of the Curtis family.

As named on the photographic chart, Henry and Elizabeth’s children were: Henry, Martha, Michael, Hiram, Margaret, Phebe, Mary, Thomas and Emily. Henry was the son of Joseph Curtis and Martha Mattison and Elizabeth was the daughter of Michael Bever and Margaret Zumwalt.

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

Reading outside the genealogy box

Genealogist and family researchers often use indices, original records or newspapers, in their quest to complete a family tree. However, there are a lot of books of interest to genealogists for the pure enjoyment of the subject. These books might not help locate an ancestor but they will inspire a love of family history research and perhaps get a researcher excited about researching again after taking a break.

With this thought in mind, I decided to buy a few books that are related to the subject of genealogy but were not research materials. When I look for books to purchase to help genealogists research I often come across books that look really interesting, but not super helpful to researchers. Then I started to think outside of the box of traditional research materials.

Perhaps you are stuck in rut with nothing exciting or interesting to read. Well, now is the time to read outside of the box and take a look at some books that might inspire you.  The Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library now has a small circulating collection for you to check out. These new purchases are kept in the Genealogy Division as part of the display called “Reading Outside The Box.” We are asking you to read outside the genealogy box and give these books a chance. We think you might like them and find them interesting.

The books featured in this blog, “Queen Victoria’s Gene: Haemophilia and the Royal Family” by D.M. Potts and W.T.W. Potts, “Roots Quest: Inside America’s Genealogy Boom” by Jackie Hogan and “The New York Times Book of the Dead: 320 Print and 10,000 Digital Obituaries of Extraordinary People,” are currently in our collection and available for check out via Evergreen.

This blog post was written by Crystal Ward, librarian in the genealogy department. If you would like more information, please contact the genealogy department at (317) 232-3689. 

Tips, tricks and mobile apps… oh my!

There’s a plethora of mobile apps available these days that can be of great benefit in your genealogy research. Here are just a few suggestions recommended by professional genealogists. This list is by no means exhaustive. Have fun picking and choosing which apps will work best for you!

All things note taking, organization and management

The Notes app on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch allows you to quickly write a thought manually or ask Siri to start a note. You can also create a checklist, format a note, add attachments, add a photo or video, pin a note and scan and sign documents.  You can use iCloud to update your notes on all of your devices. Access Apple Support here for tips and instructions on using the different features of Notes. Available only on Apple iOS.

Google Keep is compatible with iPhone and Android. It is pre-installed on most Android devices with the Google services enabled. You can take quick notes, make lists, standard checklists, pin notes, color code notes, use voice notes, share notes, set reminders and it syncs with your Google account, thus syncing across devices. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Evernote can handle all types of notes including typed text, audio, photos, videos, content from websites and a lot more. Imagine finding a great article or document about an ancestor on the internet; it can easily be saved with Evernote. You can save parts and even full pages from the internet. Evernote is free if using it on one or two devices. If you need to use Evernote on more than two devices, or upload more than 60 MB a month, there is a paid plan available. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Trello is a free project management app that makes it easy to organize, write, collaborate and deal with task management. It uses customizable boards, lists and cards to help with organization and visualization of everything on which you’re working. You can upload photos, videos and files to share. Trello lets you add power-ups like apps of calendars, Evernote, DropBox and so much more. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

GedView “is a viewer and recording tool for your genealogy database when you are out and about researching local records, or visiting locations such as graveyards looking for information. It acts as a way to quickly check up on family relationships, dates and locations of events, sources of information and view your notes, or record newly found information while out researching. You can either build your tree directly on your device, or can import a GEDCOM file from any genealogy application/service.” Available only on Apple iOS.
Price: $4.99

Google Drive comes with 15GB of free storage space. You can have all of your files within reach across your devices. “All your files in Drive – like your videos, photos and documents – are backed up safely so you can’t lose them. Easily invite others to view, edit or leave comments on any of your files or folders.” Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

A Drop Box Basic account is free and includes 2 GB of space. You can also earn more space on your Dropbox Basic account. Using Dropbox is like using any folder on your hard drive but the files you put into Dropbox will automatically sync online and to any other devices linked to your account. DropBox can be used as a backup for your documents, photos, etc. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

All things about researching records of ancestors and creating a family tree

Genealogy research apps are a fantastic way to do research on-the-go. The following free apps are highly-recommended:

Ancestry
FamilySearch Tree
FamilySearch Memories
My Heritage

For those not familiar with these apps, Family Tree Magazine recently covered the basics regarding the use of the apps. The article can be read here. All apps are available on both Apple iOS and Android.

All things photo, video and audio

Google Photos allows for basic photo editing. Google Photos uses facial recognition as opposed to tags. Photos are organized by date so they are easily found by using the timeline. You can create photo books and albums, which are shareable. You have unlimited cloud storage of photos less than 16 megapixels and video shot at 1080p or lower. If you need to store larger images or higher resolution video, you can do this for a fee. Google Photos is also a great app to use for backing up your photos. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

PhotoScan by Google Photos is another free app that allows you to scan those old family photos and documents you may come across unexpectedly. The app takes four images of an item and “stitches” the four images together to give you a composite image that is comparable to an image you would get using a flatbed scanner. Google touts that PhotoScan can “create enhanced digital scans, with automatic edge detection, perspective correction and smart rotation.” Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

CamScanner is a mobile scanner that makes it easy to scan, archive and share anytime and anywhere. This app has the ability to auto enhance images and to perform auto edge cropping. It also features optical character recognition (OCR) and supports syncing between your devices. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Adobe Photoshop Fix is extremely helpful to use with those old family photos that might need some restoration. The spot heal tool will correct small blemishes and a clone stamp tool will fix larger or more serious image problems. There is also a smooth tool to use when there is graininess in a photo. A variety of editing tools can be found in the adjust tool. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Storypix allows you to create a video with audio narration from one or several photos. You can also add scenes, use the zoom function and add text captions to enhance your story. Your new video is also shareable. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Adobe Spark is a free graphic design app that allows you to create web pages, video stories and exciting graphics. With graphics you can add text and apply design filters to your photo. With web pages you can assemble words and images into beautiful web stories. Video stories allows you to easily add photos, video clips, icons and your own voice. Available only on Apple iOS.

All things miscellaneous

Find A Grave is the world’s largest grave site collection. “Find the graves of ancestors, create virtual memorials or add photos, virtual flowers and a note to a loved one’s memorial.” This app allows you to search or browse cemeteries and grave records looking for ancestors. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Billion Graves is an interactive app for genealogists all over the world. “The goal of BillionGraves is to create digital maps of every cemetery near you.” If you want to participate, “collect photos and map out your entire local cemetery or just portions of it. Others can see what you’ve mapped and use your work as research. In turn, you can access the locations and information for graves other people have mapped. Within this app, you can collect photos of headstones around you and upload the photos. The more people who map grave sites, the more easily future genealogists can find the ancestors they’re looking for.” Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Pinterest is described by its CEO as a “catalog of ideas” or a visual search engine. “It is part search engine, part organization tool, and part social media site…” Here is a great article from Family History Daily titled, “Why You Should Start Using Pinterest for Genealogy Right Now (and How to Do It).” Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

“For your digital book and document collection, the app Book Crawler is a helpful tool for research and organizing. Book Crawler is a great tool to gather information about sources such as author, publication and publish dates that may be hard to find. Within this app, you can log, search and organize publications. The built-in ISBN scan can record bar codes of any books you may be interested in at a bookstore or library. Book Crawler can access your local library’s database to check the availability of books you want to check out. But at its soul, this app can help you view and organize your collection.” Available only on Apple iOS.

Google Translate is great for family history. You use your phone’s camera to hover over text in a foreign language or you can take a picture of the text. Google Translate will translate and write out the text for you in your language of choice. It can translate between more than 100 languages. You can also translate entire websites. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Google Earth lets you explore the world from above with satellite imagery, showing 3-D buildings in hundreds of cities and 3-D terrain of the whole earth. Take a look at the towns where your ancestors originated. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Feel free to share any other mobile genealogy apps that you find helpful.

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

Real ID and Indiana marriage records

In 2013, the federal government issued minimum standards of documentation required for individuals to obtain a state-issued ID or driver’s license. These standards were known as Real ID. The standards have been phased in over time, but beginning in October 2020, Real ID-compliant identification will be required for certain activities, such as boarding an airplane or entering a federal building. For more information on Real ID, check out these articles from the Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Included in the list of required documents to obtain a Real ID is documentation of legal name changes. This includes name change due to marriage. So, if you changed your name when you got married, you will need to provide a certified copy of your marriage license when renewing your ID. This includes all marriages, even if you are now divorced.

Photo courtesy of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

If you do not have a certified copy of your marriage license, you can obtain one from the Clerk of Court’s office in the county where you obtained your marriage license. In Indiana, only the county clerk’s offices are able to provide certified copies.

If you do not remember where you obtained your marriage license or if you have contacted the county and they cannot find the record, you can search for your post-1958 Indiana marriage license in several places, depending on the year of marriage.  The Indiana State Library’s Indiana Legacy database includes the “Indiana Marriages, 1958-2017” index. As the title suggests, this index contains all marriage licenses issued in Indiana between 1958 and 2017, including the names of both parties, the marriage date, and the county that issued the license. This database does contain some known OCR issues, so if you find an error in a record, please let us know so we can correct it.

For marriages that took place between 1993 and the present, you can also check the Indiana Supreme Court Division of State Court Administration’s Marriage License Public Lookup. This database is updated regularly and includes marriages as recent as two weeks ago.

If you have an Ancestry.com account or if your local public library has Ancestry Library Edition, you can also search the Indiana Marriages, 1917-2005 database, which contains full scans of Indiana marriage records from the Indiana State Archives. Be aware that this database’s title is somewhat misleading, as the scans actually cover 1961-2005.

Unfortunately, there is not a statewide index to Indiana marriages pre-1958. The most complete sources are on FamilySearch, the Indiana Marriages, 1780-1992 and Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007 databases. These databases are free for you to use at home, but you will need to create an account.

If you are having trouble locating your marriage license through these resources, please contact the Indiana State Library Genealogy Division at 317-232-3689 or Ask-A-Librarian.

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

Citing archival resources

When researching for a project, it is vital to record the collections one is researching and all pertinent information for them. This is important, not only for citing your sources and the integrity of your work, but also in case you need to view the material again throughout the course of your research. Record the information below:

  • Institution
  • Collection title
  • Collection name
  • Series name and number (if applicable)
  • Box, folder, and/or volume/item number

Information about the document itself:

  • Creator or author
  • Title
  • Recipient (if applicable)
  • Date
  • Page number (if applicable)

Below are examples using collections at the Indiana State Library. Be sure to maintain consistency in your citation style whether it is based on your preference or a professor’s preference. Any information that isn’t available by looking at the folder or box your materials are in would be discoverable in the finding aid for the collection. You can find the finding aid by searching for your collection in the manuscripts catalog.

Chicago Manual of Style
Joe Rand Beckett letter to members of Battery D, December 1967, S0091, Joe Rand Beckett collection, 1917-1969, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library.

Modern Language Association
Beckett, Joe Rand. Letter to members of Battery D. December 1967. S0091, Joe Rand Beckett collection, 1917-1969. Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis.

American Psychological Association
Beckett, J. R. (1967, December). [Letter to members of Battery D]. Joe Rand Beckett collection, 1917-1969 Rare Books and Manuscripts (S0091), Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN.

For resources viewed online, you would complete the citation as above and add the access URL at the end.

Chicago Manual of Style
A.E.F. Y.M.C.A. Movement order, 13 January 1919, L359, Box 1, Folder 2, Franklin Newton Taylor papers, 1896-1963, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library. http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16066coll47/id/484/rec/3

Modern Language Association
A.E.F. Y.M.C.A. Movement order. 13 January 1919. L359, Franklin Newton Taylor papers, 1896-1963. Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis. http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16066coll47/id/484/rec/3

American Psychological Association
A.E.F. Y.M.C.A. (1919, January 13). [Movement order]. L359, Franklin Newton Taylor papers, 1896-1963. Rare Books and Manuscripts (Box 1, Folder 2), Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16066coll47/id/484/rec/3

You may need to consult the guides for your citation style to verify how to cite additional information, such as page numbers, or different kind of archival resources, such as diaries or photographs. Find out more by using the websites below or conducting your own web searches.

Chicago Manual of Style
Modern Language Association
American Psychological Association

The Purdue Online Writing Lab also has wonderful resources and guides.

You can also ask a librarian for assistance with citing your resources while doing your research or using QuestionPoint.

This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Horne family collection

Edwin Fletcher Horne Sr. (1859-1939) was an African-American journalist who helmed the newspaper Chattanooga Justice and was politically active throughout the late 19th century. Prior to his time in Chattanooga, he resided and taught school in Indiana, living in both Evansville and Indianapolis. While in Indiana, he became a supporter of then Senator Benjamin Harrison. In 1887 he married Cora Calhoun (1865-1932), a college-educated and civically-minded woman from a prominent Atlanta family.

Faced with segregation and increasing racial violence in the South, the couple and their family eventually relocated to Brooklyn, New York where they thrived in the upper echelons of New York’s Black social elite. Cora was a distinguished community leader who was heavily involved in numerous clubs and charities. Edwin eventually finished his career as a fire inspector for the New York Fire Department.

Edwin and Cora Horne around the time of their marriage.

Together they had four children. Through their son Edwin “Teddy” Fletcher Horne Jr. (1893-1970), Edwin and Cora were the grandparents of legendary jazz singer and civil rights activist Lena Horne (1917-2010).

From inscription on back of photo: “Easter 1928, Uncle ‘Bye’ and Little Lena.”

The Indiana State Library’s Horne Family Collection (L327) contains numerous photographs of the family, newspaper clippings concerning Edwin’s career and various correspondence including a letter from Benjamin Harrison dated 1884 which indicates that Harrison was considering a run for the presidency of the United States. Harrison eventually would be elected in 1888. Also among the documents are Cora’s passport, souvenir travel mementos and letters she wrote home while on a lengthy trip to Europe in the late 1920s.

The entire collection provides extraordinary insight into a remarkable and influential African-American family.

Lena Horne on the cover of The Crisis, the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

To view the collection or for more information, please contact the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division.

This blog post was written by Jocelyn Lewis, Catalog Division supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Genealogy for kids

Are you looking for a fun, meaningful and ongoing activity you can do with your children? Here’s an idea the whole family will enjoy and it just might turn into a lifelong adventure! Why not get the family involved in some genealogy research by connecting your children to their grandparents, great grandparents and other ancestors down the line?

First of all, it is best to define genealogy in easy to understand terms. It’s the story of the family members that came before them. Explain that these people are their ancestors. Genealogy entails tracing back your family lines and studying your family history and family relationships. It is the story of where they lived, who they married and how many children they had. Genealogy can begin with a search for the vital records of ancestors. These records include the dates and places of birth, marriage and death. Ask children why these might be called vital records and why they are considered so important.

Ask your children, “If you want to discover your own genealogy and family history, who do you think you should start with?” Should you start with grandparents? Parents? Of course, they should begin with themselves because they know the most about themselves. It is also logical to start with themselves to be able to see how they connect to other family members down the line. A packet, “My Journal: All About Me,” can be accessed here. Finding out facts and other information about you and your family involves research and a good researcher should gather the appropriate supplies to help them be successful. They will need a notebook or paper and pencil to write down the information they find. A folder will come in handy to hold the notebook and any papers. Some optional items might include a computer, a camera or a video or audio recording device. The linked packet also contains helpful definitions related to genealogy and helpful websites and books. A list of starter questions to ask family members is included in the above mentioned packet. Children should also be encouraged to come up with some of their own questions to ask about the things they would like to know regarding their family members.

Kids will have fun answering questions about themselves and recording the information. Once they have answered the basic questions about birth date and where they were born, they can then delve a little deeper with answering questions like, “My name was chosen for me because…” or “I was named after…”

Their next steps will involve asking questions about parents. It’s important for children to know that it’s okay if they are not able to find out information about a parent or grandparent. It’s good to emphasize that everyone has one or more “holes” in their family genealogy that can’t be filled in at the moment. Some searches for family members can be ongoing for many years. Encourage children to just continue on with the family members they do have information about.

Now it is time to move on to gathering information about grandparents. Sometimes a visual chart can help children understand the connections between themselves and their parents and grandparents. Explain that maternal grandparents are the parents of the mother. This is easy to remember with the “ma” at the beginning of the word maternal, as in your “ma.” The paternal grandparents are the parents of the father. This is easy to remember with the “pa” at the beginning of the word paternal, as in your “pa.”

A very basic beginning family tree example.

By learning about grandparents and understanding what their lives were like, children learn and understand more about themselves and their immediate family. Hopefully, children will discover that they share some of the same traits, characteristics and talents that a grandparent might have. Helping children see similarities and connections will make it fun and relevant for everyone.

An interesting project that children will enjoy is gathering pictures of family members at approximately the same age and making comparisons between the family members.

A baby picture comparison of a grandfather, two of his children and three of his grandchildren.

As mentioned before, the linked packet has a list of suggested questions to ask. Questions such as “What kinds of games did you play?,” “What part of childhood do you think most about now?,” “How is the world different today than it was when you were growing up?” and “What is the most important thing that has happened to you?”

At this point, much information has been gathered. The concept of a family tree or pedigree chart can now be introduced. Some people show their family history using a family tree or a pedigree chart, which are diagrams of the members of a family. With each of these, lines are used to show how people are related. For example, the lines show people who are married or have children. There is an unlimited variety of family tree and pedigree chart templates that can be downloaded for free from the internet.

Example of a family tree.

Example of a pedigree chart.

For older children, you can now add in a discussion and some research about the immigration of ancestors. With the subject of immigration currently in the news daily, there could be some great discussions about immigration in the past and present. Ask about the connections between immigration and genealogy. Probe a bit and ask what they think are some of the causes for people immigrating in the past and now. Perhaps life may have become too difficult in their native country. It could be because of lack of means for earning an income and needing to live in a place where there would be better work opportunities available. Immigrants come because of violence, war or religious persecution in their native country. They may come looking for a better life and future for themselves and their children. They may come to join other family members that came before them.

For many of us, all of our long ago ancestors were immigrants to North America at some point in time, with the exception of those who are full-blooded Native Americans. The immigration story of each of our ancestors is part of each person’s family history. It can be powerful for children to learn about their ancestors’ struggles and stories of survival.

It’s important to ask children questions before, during and after their research. It will help deepen their critical thinking skills. Bloom’s taxonomy of learning progresses from remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating. Helping children engage in higher level thinking skills will help them develop into stronger learners and critical thinkers.

Here are just a few example questions that could be asked:

  • How can I connect this information to my own life? How are my ancestors similar; dissimilar?
  • What would you do if you lived in another country in 1800 and could not find a job to support and take care of your family? Explain your answer.
  • Why do you think your ancestors settled in a particular region or city? Explain.

I hope these tips will help you engage your children and family by facilitating a personal connection to learning about your family’s past. I also encourage you and your family to check out the genealogy titles for kids featured throughout this blog post. You can find the titles and authors by clicking on the pictures.

This blog post was written by Alice Winslow, librarian, Genealogy Division. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library Genealogy Division at (317) 232-3689.

INSPIRE turns 20!

Can you believe it’s been 20 years since INSPIRE was born? Here are a few other highlights of 1998:

  • Google was founded in Menlo Park, California.
  • “E.R.” was the most popular TV show, followed by “Friends.”
  • The song “The  Boy is Mine” by Brandy and Monica was number one for 13 weeks on the Billboard charts.
  • A gallon of gas was $1.15.
  • Windows 98 debuted in June.
  • The Ford Cougar was first produced.
  • Harry Caray died Feb. 18.
  • The band Coldplay formed.

In January of 1998, INSPIRE began as a collaboration between the Indiana State Library, INCOLSA and Lilly Endowments. INSPIRE is a free service for all Indiana residents. Users can access INSPIRE via the internet at school, home, local public library or workplace.

INSPIRE it… don’t Google! Okay, so maybe that’s not quite as catchy as saying “Google it,” but using INSPIRE is your best bet when looking for articles, biographies, history and other resources. Information in INSPIRE databases is vetted and authoritative, so you can rest-assured that you’re getting reliable information and not something that can be manipulated. Did I mention INSPIRE is free!? Tomorrow, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Indiana State Library, we celebrate INSPIRE with stories about INSPIRE, learning and networking at INSPIRE Day. Here’s to another 20 years and beyond!

This blog post was written by Kimberly Brown-Harden, northwest regional coordinator, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Kim.