History

Oklahoma School Replaces Chalkboards, Finds 98 Year Old Drawings and Lessons Hidden Behind Them

When contractors began work on four classrooms of Emerson High School in Oklahoma, they knew their remodel would improve education — but they never expected it would impact local history. Looking to upgrade the rooms with new whiteboards and smartboards, the workers had to first remove the outdated chalkboards. But when they began to pull away the old boards, they made a startling discovery. Beneath the current boards rested another set of chalkboards — untouched for nearly 100 years.

Protected and totally undisturbed, the century-old writings and drawings looked like they were made just yesterday. Here, a November calendar rolls into December. A turkey marks the celebration of Thanksgiving. This was a snapshot in time.

Jamestown Discovery: Graves of Four Founders Unearthed

Archaeologists working to excavate the earliest European settlement on Jamestown Island have discovered the graves of four of the men believed to have founded English America. The graves were discovered beneath what was the chancel — an area usually reserved for clergy — of the first church on the island, which stood from 1608 to 1616.

Those buried are believed to be:

Rare African American Family Photo Albums Give Glimpse of 19th Century Albany, NY

The Arabella Chapman Project provides two photo albums assembled by an African American woman and her family in the last decades of the nineteenth century. The pages are filled with layers of family, community, and politics. Assembled in Albany, NY and North Adams, MA — tintype, carte-de-visite, and snap shot images — Arabella Chapman’s albums tell histories both intimate and epic.

Black Americans, including Arabella’s family and neighbors, sat for and then assembled their own images, crafting counter-narratives that challenged a rising tide of racism. At the same time, in their images are a politics of pleasure. From careful sartorial choices in formal portraits to rare scenes of leisure, the Chapman albums provide us an intimate glimpse into how black Americans embodied the lived pleasure of everyday life.

The Viking Discovery of North America

Despite what you learned in grade school, Christopher Columbus and his crew were not the first Europeans to land in North America. In fact, many Europeans probably preceded Columbus. Some even stayed for a while and settled in. One of the better documented European villages may be found at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.

Some time around 1000 A.D., Norsemen landed on Newfoundland, where they set up a small village. Though this inhospitable spit of land would eventually come to be populated by Canadians, its original inhabitants were forgotten until one day in 1960, when an explorer, an archaeologist, and a nurse were visiting the remote community of L’Anse aux Meadows.

Index to French Canadian Revolutionary War Patriots

American schoolchildren all learn about our glorious ancestors who fought for American independence in 1776 and for a few years following the Declaration of Independence. However, the history books published in the U.S. rarely mention that the desire for independence was not unanimous. Many Americans and Canadians wanted to remain loyal to the King of England they are generally referred to as Loyalists. While discredited in the U.S., these same Loyalists are considered to be heros by the Canadians. In fact, Canadian history books generally devote more pages to the Loyalists than to those who fought for independence. Likewise, many Canadians supported the Patriot cause even though they lived north of what is now the U.S.-Canadian border.

On This Day in History: the Greatest Thing Ever Was First Sold

Here’s your trivia factoid for the day: Sliced bread was sold for the very first time on Tuesday, July 7th, 1928 in Chillicothe, Missouri. Details may be found at http://goo.gl/BVs73U.

Instructions for Census Takers

Do some of the entries in U.S. census records not make sense? I am not referring to the handwriting but rather the various entries in the different columns across the page. Why did they enter the information like that? What does it mean? Some columns are always filled in but others are sometimes blank. Why?

In the 1790 through 1870 collections of census information, the records were created by Assistant Marshals. A March 3, 1879 act replaced the U.S. Marshals with specially hired and trained census-takers (called “enumerators”) to conduct the 1880 and subsequent censuses.

What Your Town Looked Like on Penny Postcards

Years ago, postcards cost 1¢ to mail within the U.S. Postage was temporarily raised to 2¢ from 1917 to 1919 to cover the cost of World War I and the increase was rescinded after the War. In 1952, the required postage was raised to two cents and has slowly escalated ever since. Today, mailing a postcard cost 34¢. (Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_United_States_postage_rates)

Over the years, many postcards were printed with view of a town or other area, then sold in stores within that town or area. Many of these postcards have been preserved and often provide an interesting glimpse of what life was like in “the good old days.” Possibly your ancestors saw these same views in person.

How Homesteading Was Done in the 1800s

Did any of your ancestors take advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862? Did they settle on sparsely-populated land in one of the western states? If so, what were their lives like?

Kathy Belt has written an article that describes life for the homesteaders and asks the reader to think about what it would be like if any of us could be transported in time back to a homestead. She writes:

“If you truly want to live in the 1800s, be expected to have 18-20 children, all born at home, and have half of them die before the age of five because of dysentery, typhoid, scarlet fever or measles. Be prepared to get up with the sun and read by the light of your drafty fireplace. (Yes, the Franklin stove was invented in the late 1700s, but it weighed so much, most folks who went west didn’t take it with them. Of course, if you stayed in one of the “big” cities, you would have access to whale oil or kerosene for your lights.)

Spain Passes Law Awarding Citizenship to Descendants of Expelled Jews

Spain’s lower house of parliament has approved a law that eases the path to citizenship for descendants of Jews who were forced to flee the country five centuries ago during the Inquisition.

The measure aims to correct what Spain’s conservative government calls the “historic mistake” of sending Jews into exile in 1492, forcing them to convert to Catholicism or burning them at the stake.

1500 Turn-Of-The-Century Pictures from Hungary Made Public

If your ancestors came from Hungary, you will undoubtedly be interested in a new online collection of turn-of-the-last-century Hungarian photographs. Pictures taken by the legendary German-born Hungarian photographer György Klösz (1844-1913) are now available online in the Fortepan digital photography archives after a total of 1500 photographs from his estate have been made available for unconditional usage by the Budapest Municipal Archives.

Highways in the Early 20th Century

CarDataVideo has produced a video describing Henry Ford’s Model T. The video itself is a rather fascinating glimpse of automotive history. However, I was even more impressed by the pictures of U.S. streets and roads that the Model T traveled over. Highways were rarely paved in those days. In the winter time, there were no snowplows. Some of these roads would be difficult to travel upon even with today’s 4-wheel drive SUVs.

U.S. Navy Divers to Help Confederate Ironclad Rise Again

Navy divers from Hampton Roads will soon head to Georgia to help salvage the Confederate ironclad CSS Georgia from the depths of the Savannah River. The warship was scuttled by its own Confederate crew in December 1864 to prevent capture during Union General William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea.” Ever since, it has sat at the bottom of the Savannah River in Georgia.

Family Historians Go Online to Identify Unknown Soldiers and You Can Help

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission says it has seen a steep rise in cases where amateur genealogists and historians believe they have solved the mystery of unidentified war graves. Similar efforts are underway in the U.S. and in European countries that were the scene of World War I and World War II battles.

The ability to search old war records easily online and the popularity of family history programs such as Who Do You Think You Are? and the the Missing In Action Recovery and Identification Project of the University of Wisconsin at Madison shave led many to turn amateur historian and try to identify the graves of missing ancestors.

How to use the Upper Saint John Valley (Northern Maine and Northwestern New Brunswick) Historical Land Grant Database to Find Your Ancestors

Do you have ancestors from the Upper Saint John Valley? I do. That’s 50% of my ancestry and I also lived there for a few years. I was recently told of a great genealogy database for the area. If you also have an interest in the history and the people of the Upper Saint John Valley, you will want to read this article written by George L. Findlen, CG, CGL. He describes how to locate a family in a land grants database and how to use the information found there with other resources in order to track a family (some, not all) from 1845 forward in time.

The process requires multiple steps but the effort is worth it. The following is published here with the kind permission of author George L. Findlen:

Upper Saint John Valley (Northern Maine and Northwestern New Brunswick) Historical Land Grant Database

By George L. Findlen, CG, CGL

The 2014 Congrès Mondial Acadien (World Acadian Reunion) took place in the Upper Saint John Valley on the Maine–New Brunswick border in August. The three-week event was filled with cultural, historical, religious, and entertainment events. The core of the CMA was a series of family reunions, 120 of them, which included some Yankee and Quebec names, since they and Acadians have intermarried over the years.

Jason Scott Sadofsky Wants Your Old AOL CDs

Finally! Someone has found a use for all those AOL disks that were sent to your house and given away by many stores. Jason Scott Sadofsky is a Free-Range Archivist & Software Curator for the Internet Archive. He wants every disc ever made, but is specifically requesting that readers of his blog send him old AOL discs, the kind that came free at Best Buy checkouts, packed in magazines and mailed randomly to your house back in the 1990s. He wants to add them to an online archive of computer history.

Ghostly Voices From Thomas Edison’s Dolls Can Now Be Heard

In 1890, the Edison Phonograph Company manufactured dolls with wax cylinder records tucked inside each one. When cranked, each doll recited snippets from nursery rhymes. This was fabulous technology in 1890, a time when most people had not yet heard of phonograph records or any other method of reproducing sound. Sadly, Edison’s dolls were a flop; production lasted only six weeks. Children found them difficult to operate and more scary than cuddly. The purchase price of ten dollars also was much higher than what most families of 1890 could afford.

The Secret of Erikoussa

MyHeritage (the sponsor of this newsletter) has been working closely with Emmy Award winning writer, producer and author, Yvette Manessis Corporon. About a year ago Yvette published a book called “When The Cypress Whispers”. The book is fictional but some of it is based on true stories she grew up hearing from her grandmother, including the secret of the Greek Island of Erikoussa.

When the Nazis invaded Corfu, most of the Jewish citizens were killed, but a tailor by the name of Savas was able to escape with his three daughters, and a girl called Rosa, to the nearby Island of Erikoussa. Savas had customers and acquaintances on the island, but what was incredible was that the entire island joined forces – at risk of death – and gave refuge to Savas and his girls, and kept their identity secret from the Nazis, for the duration of the war.

A Steam Convoy from World War I

Sometimes we forget that not all early motor vehicles were powered by gasoline. Here is a glimpse at what life must have been like for some of our ancestors in the British military:

You also can display the video full screen by clicking on the second icon from the right on the bottom. If your web browser does not show the video, click on this link: WW1 Steam Convoy – ‘Gigantic’ bounces around the roundabout!

Big Data of Genealogy Databases Provides New Tools to Analyze Royal Lifestyles between 800 and 1800

An article in the London School of Economics and Political Science describes hew methods being used to provide insights into the lives the European nobility, and may provide important clues about why Western Europe led the Industrial Revolution. One huge database from FamilySearch is giving economic historians like Dr Neil Cummins of the London School of Economics’ History Department access to genealogical ‘big data’ for the first time.

Describing the significance of the newly digitised information, he says: “Individual demographic data before 1538 in England is extremely rare – that’s the time of Henry VIII, Cromwell and the English reformation. Before that we only had scraps.”

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