August 2009, V8#8: Genealogy Wednesday, Aug 5 2009 

The Vertical File

As interest in genealogy has expanded, libraries have accumulated letters, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, Bible records, research notes, charts, lineage society application forms – you name it, they probably have it. 

Librarians had no place to store this valuable information and would never consider throwing it away.  Consisting mainly of loose sheets of paper and brochures and pamphlets, these small items got lost on the bookshelves. 

With the creation of vertical files, the problem was solved.  Vertical files are simply labeled folders kept in filing cabinets.  Most libraries have them.  The experienced library researcher knows these folders are potential goldmines so they should be looked at regularly. 

Folder contents are usually not indexed or catalogued beyond a listing of folder titles.  The folders are alphabetized according to subject of the folder’s contents. 

In the Family History Room at the Lawton Public Library, the vertical files are kept in three cabinets.  The files are grouped by surname, Native American, place and miscellaneous subjects. 

If you are researching your family history, check with your nearest library to find out if it maintains a vertical file.  If so, that would be a good place to donate items that do not pertain to your family but might be a “treasure” to someone else. 

(This information was taken from Paul Follett’s column Tree Tracers published in the Lawton Constitution on August 4, 2008.)

Advertisements

June 2009, V8#6: Genealogy Friday, May 29 2009 

Newspapers Reveal Towns And Ancestors’ Past

The hometown newspaper offers valuable and unique insight into the life of a community.  Within its pages, the story of the town and its citizens is revealed.  The citizens are our ancestors.

Details of an ancestor’s life are often found only in the newspaper.  Besides obituaries, birth and marriage announcements, peruse the gossip columns, society and lodge news, letters to the editor, legal notices and sports page.

Small towns and weekly newspapers are often the best.  They contain more personal local news and less state and national.  This is great for the genealogist.

Newspapers are also an excellent source for local history.  Sometimes, they are the only source.  Editors tend to have “their ear to the ground” and know what is happening.  Their articles on local events, politics and news may be the only record available or maybe the articles will suggest avenues for further research.

The Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) maintains the largest collection of Oklahoma newspapers.  The collection is not only the largest but also the most complete collection in the state.  It is estimated that they own over 90% of all newspapers published in Oklahoma.  The collection consists of over 4,000 different newspapers.  The newspapers are on 35,000 rolls of microfilm.

To learn if the society owns a particular newspaper consult the newspaper database found on the society’s web site —http://www.okhistory.org/research/collections/newspapers.html.

In 1998 a paper listing of the collection was published.  Titled Index of Oklahoma Newspapers, the newspapers are alphabetized by title and by county.  The Family History Room at the Lawton Public Library owns a copy of this index.  These newspapers are not available through interlibrary loan.

Copies of articles from the newspaper collection are available.  The fee is $10 for Oklahoma residents.  OHS members receive a 10% discount of copy costs.  To order, the “Newspaper Order Form” must be completed and submitted.  Download the form at www.okhistory.org/research/forms/newspaperform.html.

(This information was taken from Paul Follett’s column Tree Tracers published in the Lawton Constitution on May 19, 2008.)

February 2009, V8#2: Genealogy Monday, Feb 16 2009 

Web Site Lists Missing World War II Soldiers

Approximately 74,000 World War II soldiers have not had their remains recovered or identified.  In an attempt to aid in the recovery and identification process, the Missing Personnel World War II database was created.  The database is online at www.dtic.mil/dpmo/WWII_MIA/index.htm.  This first-ever comprehensive list is a project of the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office and was completed in 2004. 

The database was created by comparing and analyzing two sources:  “Rosters of Military Personnel Whose Remains Were Not Recovered” and “The World War II Rosters of the Dead.”  All discrepancies were settled by using the National Archives and official personnel files.  The database contains the name of the missing soldier, service number, rank, branch of service and the date of loss. 

The accounting for missing World War II service members is an ongoing project.  As remains are recovered and identified, their names are removed from the database. 

When the war ended in August 1945, over 79,000 known soldiers were unaccounted for.  This number included individuals buried as “unknown” lost at sea and missing in action. 

There are similar databases for those missing from the Korean War, the Cold War, Vietnam and the Gulf War.  More information and access to these databases are found at www.dtic.mil/dpmo.

This information was taken from Paul Follett’s column Tree Tracers published in the Lawton Constitution on April 21, 2008 – via SWOGS.

October 2008, V7#10: Genealogy Saturday, Jan 10 2009 

Use Funeral Homes When Researching

 Genealogists are fascinated with cemeteries.  Besides being the final resting place for ones ancestors, cemeteries provide vital information.  Tombstone and cemetery records often reveal more than death information.  Cemeteries, however, are not the only sources of information regarding the deceased.  Do not forget funeral homes. 

Funeral homes are another resource for providing family information.  Their records often contain biographical information not found on the deth certificate or in the obituary.  They may also have a copy of the funeral program, printed eulogies, as well as a copy of the death certificate and obituary. 

Funeral home records are private business documents.  You do not have a legal right to view them.  They are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act.  Most funeral directors, however, are individuals who are more than willing to help genealogists. 

Many funeral directors have allowed their records to be microfilmed.  Often genealogical societies have published the records.  For example, the Tulsa Genealogical Society has published 12 volumes of funeral home records.  The Lawton Ritter-Gray funeral home records to 1994 are on microfilm and available at the Lawton Public Library.

If you do not know what funeral home was used, the death certificate or obituary should provide this information.

If you are looking for a list of funeral homes and cemeteries currently operating, go to www.imortuary.com.  Select by location or browse the state and town.  The address, phone number, web address and location on a map are given. 

That web site is a quick and easy way to locate funeral homes and cemeteries throughout the country.  Memorial parks, such as Sunset Memorial (Lawton) are listed under funeral homes and not cemeteries. 

The site does not list all known cemeteries for an area.  Not included are rural, inactive, family and small cemeteries.  For example, Highland Cemetery (Lawton) is listed, but not the cemeteries in Cache, Indiahoma or Elgin.  Local funeral homes can often provide you with a list of local cemeteries.  They are experts on this subject. 

The National Yellow Book of Funeral Directors and The National Directory of Morticians, both published annually, are excellent print guides to funeral homes.  Arrangement is by state and town.  Genealogy libraries, including the Lawton Public Library, often own a copy. 

What if the funeral home is no longer in business? Again, ask the funeral home still in business as it may have the records of the old funeral homes or know where they may be located. 

(This information was taken from Paul Follett’s column Tree Tracers published in the Lawton Constitution on December 10, 2007.)

February 2008, V7#2: Genealogy Wednesday, Jan 7 2009 

Pre-1946 Military Personnel Files Made Public

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis announced the release of all pre-1946 official military personnel files to researchers.

Documents found in a typical personnel file include assignments, evaluations, awards and decorations, training, demographic information, limited medical information and disciplinary actions.  Some files contain the soldier’s photograph.

To request a copy of a file, submit standard form 180 to NPRC, 9700 Page Ave., St. Louis, MO 63132.  The veteran or next-of-kin of a deceased veteran may use eVetRecs at www.archives.gov.veterans/evetrecs.index.html.

Copies of the personnel files are $15 for 5 pages or less and $50.00 for over 6 pages.  Most files contain over 6 pages.  Files of “persons of exceptional prominence” are $.75 per page.

Files may be viewed at the NPRC Archival Research Room in St. Louis.  The research room is open Tues-Fri, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Call 314-801-0850 for a reservation.

Additional information concerning the opening of these records is found in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) press release at http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2008/nr08-14.html.

The National Personnel Records Center is the repository for the 20th century service records.  The files consist of personnel, health and medical records of discharged and deceased solders from all the services.  The repository holds over 57 million individual files.  Every year additional records will be released for public use.

Pre-World War I military records are available from the National Archives in Washington DC.  For further information, visit the NARA webpage at http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/military.

This information was taken from Paul Follett’s column Tree Tracers published in the Lawton Constitution on November 5, 2007.