Monday, April 16, 2018

Family History Tips-Part 30

Tracing Your British Ancestors in Census Records
by Brenna Corbit, Technical Services Librarian

If you are tracing your ancestors in American records, especially in census enumerations, and you find that they are British who only landed here in America at the turn of the last century, do not fret. You are not going to be at the end of your genealogical line too soon. There are many census records from the British Empire that will assist in taking your lines back several more generations.

Tracing an individual back to a country of origin may be difficult if the person is shown in a census record as living alone. However, if they are listed in a family unit, you have a greater chance picking them up in a British census record. It is much easier to match a list of names and ages rather than one person. Let me demonstrate.

The easiest method of tracing your ancestors back to the British Isles begins with U.S and/or Canadian census records. For this example, I randomly picked an English family recorded in the 1900 U.S. Census living in Philadelphia, Pa. William Gibbs and his family are shown in the census table below. The whole family was born in England, with their youngest son Herbert born in 1892. I can also see that the father emigrated in the same year his last son was born, with the rest of his family following in 1895. My task was to match them with an earlier census record in England.

England’s decennial censuses were taken every second year of the decade since 1841, therefore I would have to locate this family in 1891, since the oldest child was born in 1885 and the second youngest born in 1890, a year before the next census. In this case, it was an easy match locating them nine years earlier in Hampshire, England. With this information, I would be able to not only trace them forward in the United States, but also backward in their English history.

1900 U.S. Census, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1891 England Census, Lymington, Lymington, Hampshire
birth place
immigration year
birth place
William G. Gibbs
May 1862 (38)
William G. Gibbs
Christchurch, Hampshire, England
Alice “
Jul 1864 (35)
Alice M. “
Parkstone, Dorset, England
William “
August 1885 (14)
William H. “
Barcombe, Hampshire, England
Margaret “
Feb 1889 (11)
Margaret M. 
Parkstone, Dorset, England
Frank “
Nov 1890 (9)
Frank B. “
5 mo.
Lymington, Hampshire, England
Herbert “
Aug 1892 (7)

What I love about British census records is that they include not just a country of birth as they do here in America, but the town and shires/counties, as well. As you can see from the above information, various towns and shires of birth are listed for each individual in one family. This makes it easier when looking for vital records.

Although the British Empire spanned the globe, the countries that have available census records from the mid-1800s to 1911 are England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, and New South Wales, Australia. Many are indexed digital image collections, and a few are indexed transcriptions—my least favorite! I have had much success connecting families with British origins back across the pond via census records. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to use census records in New South Wales, Australia since I have no experience researching in that country.

These censuses can be found on (free on campus at RACC) and (free site). To search census records on Ancestry—click on “search”, click on “card catalog” and type in a country and the word census: e.g. Wales census. For FamilySearch—click on “search”, click on “records,” chose a country or region on the map, choose a country or province on the dropdown menu, and scroll through the available records for that country. The National Archives of Ireland also has some Irish censuses (free site).

May your family tree have deep roots. Cheers!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Yocum Library Closed for Spring Break II

RACC's campus, including The Yocum Library, will be closed during Spring Break II from Friday, March 30 to Sunday, April 1. We will re-open on Monday morning, April 2 at 7:30 p.m.

If you need to work on your class essays or projects, you can still access our online databases 24/7. The most recent password sheet for the databases can be found in Canvas under Student Resources.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ACORN TV Available Via hoopla

With Acorn TV on hoopla, you now have streaming access to episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Marple, Doc Martin, The Commander, and many more British series.
While hoopla might carry more than one full season of these series, Patricia Nouhra, public services/distance education librarian, tells us that Yocum's DVD collection includes all available seasons for all of these same series and more. 
So if you feel like binging on one of these series or can't find a specific season, we probably have what you need.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Guide to Latina/Latino Resources: New Library Web Page

The Yocum Library has added a new webpage, "A Guide to Latina / Latino Resources," created by Patricia Nouhra, Public Services/Distance Education Librarian. The web page is based on her work on the Conexions Grant team.

Let us know what you think!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Family History Tips-Part 29

Finding Information in the Other Census Records

by Brenna Corbit, Technical Services Librarian

Currently, I am working on a confusing family line of the name Freligh that bounced back and forth between New York City, Brooklyn, Connecticut, and northern New Jersey during the late 1800s.
 I say confusing because, father like son, they are in and out of marriages, saying they are widowed when in fact divorced, and then sometimes kissing and making up. Yes, the Frelighs are a challenge when trying to figure out this mess in the census records.

In these Family History Tips articles, I often refer to the U.S. Decennial Census records as a main building-block for family histories because they present an every-ten-year snapshot of a family. However, family has short-lived marriages that sometime appear only between censuses. However, since this is primarily a New York/New Jersey family, I am in luck. 

Besides the national census records, many states had other censuses taken between the decennial years, usually at the halfway point, such as 1905, 1915, and 1925. They are not always as detailed as the decennial records, but they do help when trying to determine what happened between 1900 and 1910, for example.

They are also extremely valuable as a substitute for the U.S. Decennial Census of 1890 which was mostly destroyed in a fire. That 20-year gap between 1880 and 1900 is brutal to family researchers. If your ancestor was born in 1881, that person may be married and not living with their family of origin by 1900, which makes it difficult to make connections in family structures. 

Many states had censuses taken around 1885 and 1895, which helps fill that gap. I wish this were true for Pennsylvania. My great-grandmother Ida Mae born 1889 in Dauphin County, Pa. was adopted by a Riffert family. Her birth name was Thompson, according to child custody court records. If there were no fire or a mid-decade state census taken, I may not be hitting a brick wall with my head trying to figure out whose daughter she was. These records are valuable, too, in case a family was missed in a decennial census.

The U.S. government census website has a complete listing of these state censuses. Ancestry and FamilySearch have some of these records available. Unfortunately, there are no known or surviving state census records for Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and West Virginia. Most are in indexed digital format, but a few are crummy transcribed indexes, only. Transcribed sources can often contain errors. It is always best to have access to the original whether digital or actual. 

If so, such as Ancestry not having the images, try finding them in Familysearch—remember, the site is free with a registration. Also, avoid a federated search for these records from the main search function on the homepages. My experience with federated searches shows that they often miss some valuable resources. Instead, refer to the following instructions.

For Ancestry, click on “search,” click on “catalog,” and then keyword a state and the word “census”; e.g. New York census. For FamilySearch, click on “search,” click on “records,” click the United States map, and then choose a state from the list. Scroll down through the available records to search for individual census records.

In two weeks, we will take a look at some other valuable and overlooked census records.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Love Maple Syrup?

Did you know that March is Maple Sugaring Month for most of the northern tier of states in the U.S. and southern and southeast regions of Canada.

For almost everything you want to know about maple syrup, check out “Tapping into Spring. The Library of Congress highlights "Tapping Into Spring" as its "Featured Resource" on its Science Reference Guide, Selected Seasonal Resources: Maple Sugaring.

Mary Ellen Heckman, assistant dean of library services and learning resources, likes this link because of her own personal experience with maple syrup. " My French-Canadian cousins in Quebec make their own maple syrup. I grew up with a grandfather who put maple syrup on almost anything and maple is my favorite flavor too."

Here are just some of the ways she and her family enjoy maple syrup. "I just made an apple pie that I take out after about 20 minutes baking and baste the top crust with maple syrup. After about another 30 minutes of baking it’s crunchy and so tasty," she said. "Also my cousin in Montreal would combine vanilla ice cream, banana slices and maple syrup – yum!"

What about you? Any original ways you use maple syrup?

For more about maple syrup and all kinds of food, go to our online database "A to Z World Foods" and search for maple syrup or any food item of interest. The Yocum Library also has quite a collection of cookbooks. There are also a number of books specifically about maple syrup at Reading's Main Library. You can put them on hold and have them sent to The Yocum Library for pick-up.