How the Great Fertility Decline Affected the Lives of Women

A group of settlers in the colony of Jamestown, Virginia, 1609. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

Of all the changes to sweep the west over the past 400 years, perhaps none have had a greater impact on women’s lives than the fall in family sizes. Sarah Knott tells the story of the great fertility decline, from the large broods of 17th-century America to the one-children families of postwar London.

Sarah Knott, an associate professor of history at Indiana University, has written an article that examines the changes. She writes:

“How I shall get along when I have got half a dozen or 10 children, I can’t devise,” fretted the New Jersey colonist Esther Edwards Burr after her child’s birth in 1756. Narcissa Whitman, a pioneer in Oregon a century later, might have recognised these concerns. She knew first-hand the consequences of mothering a large brood. “My dear parents,” she wrote in a rare but affectionate missive back to New York in 1845, “I have now a family of 11 children. This makes me feel as if I could not write a letter.”

U.S. National Archives Digitizes More than 500 Volumes of U.S. Navy Muster Rolls

From the National Archives News:

“The National Archives partnered with the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the University of Washington to digitize more than 500 volumes of U.S. Navy muster rolls, making them accessible to the public through the National Archives Catalog.

“The muster roll digitization is part of a $482,000 grant awarded to JISAO and the National Archives Foundation to support the Seas of Knowledge: Digitization and Retrospective Analysis of the Historical Logbooks of the United States Navy program at the National Archives.”

You can read the full news release at: https://www.archives.gov/news/articles/navy-muster-rolls-digitization.

20th century German history on Klemperer Online: All Diaries from 1918 to 1959 in One Digital Resource

De Gruyter is launching a digital version of one of the most important source for understanding 20th century German history. The database Klemperer Online contains the complete and unabridged diaries of Victor Klemperer as a transcripts and facsimiles of the handwritten pages. The texts all have commentary and the digital version of the diaries has more than 30 percent more content than the print edition.

You can access a description of the Klemperer Online database at http://bit.ly/2YZkxrQ while FREE access of the complete diaries with full commentary can be found until July 31, 2019 at: https://www.degruyter.com/view/db/klemp. Access after July 31 will require payment of a fee.

America Counts: Stories Behind the Numbers

The following was written by the U.S. Census Bureau:

Registered United States Census Bureau Logo

America Counts: Stories Behind the Numbers

July 4th: Celebrating 243 Years of Independence

Celebrating 243 Years of Independence

As the nation celebrates this Independence Day, it’s a good time to reflect on how our Founding Fathers enshrined in our Constitution the importance of statistics as a vital tool for measuring people, places and economy.

Get the Stats

Tennessee State Library & Archives Launches New Digital Project on Revolutionary War

Here is a quote from an announcement at https://sos.tn.gov/news/state-library-archives-launches-new-digital-project-revolutionary-war:

“As our nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, the Tennessee State Library & Archives has launched Patriot Paths, a new project that uses Revolutionary War pension records to map the paths that these soldiers took before and after their service. The project, which is still in progress, was unveiled by State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill at the National Genealogical Society’s recent annual convention.

The Legal Power of Genealogy in Colonial America

By the time he was 18, George Washington was a competent genealogist — and he had to be. In Washington’s Virginia, family was a crucial determinant of social and economic status, and freedom.

How did Washington understand his family, and what can that tell us about the world in which he lived and played such a significant role? Thanks to a document long ignored by biographers and historians alike, we now know how fully he grasped the basic truth that genealogy is power.

Medical Practices Your Ancestors May Have Experienced

I admit I hate to go to doctors or dentists or to other medical professionals. The “cures” I have received often were worse than the original ailments. However, I am thankful that I have not experienced the “treatments” that were common years ago.

A long series of pictures, along with accompanying brief descriptions, shows many of the commonly-accepted medical treatments that our ancestors endured. The pictures vary from cocaine candy (“the lick that lasts”) to having teeth pulled by a pharmacist at the local drug store. I suspect that some doctors may have killed more of their patients than they cured!

Perhaps the most gruesome photo isn’t that of a medical procedure at all. Instead, it was action taken after a person’s death: an embalming tent located not far from a battlefield during the U.S. Civil War. (When the bodies were to be shipped home for burial, transportation was slow and it often took days or weeks for the body to make the trip. Embalming was necessary to preserve the body during the long trip.)

American Ancestors Launches a Database of Men, Women, and Children Sold by the Jesuits of Georgetown College in 1838

American Ancestors has introduced a a beautiful, content-rich site, with significant resource material for genealogists and those who believe they may be descendants of one of the GU272. The following announcement was written by American Ancestors / New England Historic Genealogical Society:

New Website Documents Family Histories of Enslaved People  Alongside the Voices of Their Living Descendants
American Ancestors Launches Database of Men, Women, and Children  Sold by the Jesuits of Georgetown College in 1838  
GU272 Memory Project: gu272.americanancestors.org
June 19, 2019—Boston, Massachusetts American Ancestors is commemorating Juneteenth, a national day observing the 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in America, with the launch of a new website that traces the family histories of more than 300 men, women, and children sold by the Jesuit priests of Georgetown University (then known as Georgetown College) in 1838 to Louisiana sugar plantations. Today also marks the 181st anniversary of the actual date on which the enslaved people of Georgetown College were sold.
Named for Georgetown University and the 272 people listed on the 1838 bill of sale, the GU272 Memory Project website (gu272.americanancestors.org) features fully documented genealogies of the families who were sold, along with audio interviews of their modern descendants speaking about a wide range of topics, from personal memories of family members to racism in America. 

Kilkenny’s Rich History is now Available on National Archive Database

The Kilkenny County Library has joined the Digital Repository of Ireland – making Kilkenny’s rich history available to the world at the click of a button. The partnership will see the records currently held by the Kilkenny County Library, including information on the county’s history, geography, antiquities, archaeology, folklore and culture, being added to the national archive database.

Patrick Street

Patrick Street

You can read more in an article by Colin Bartley in the KilKinneyNow web site at: https://kilkennynow.ie/rich-history-of-kilkenny-joins-national-archive-database/.

The ‘Clotilda,’ the Last Known Slave Ship to Arrive in the U.S., Is Found

The discovery carries intense personal meaning for an Alabama community of descendants of the ship’s survivors.

Wreck of the slave ship, Clotilda, photograph from Historic Sketches of the South by Emma Langdon Roche, 1914

The authentication and confirmation of the Clotilda was led by the Alabama Historical Commission and SEARCH Inc., a group of maritime archaeologists and divers who specialize in historic shipwrecks. Last year, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Slave Wrecks Project (SWP) joined the effort to help involve the community of Africatown in the preservation of the history, explains Smithsonian curator and SWP co-director Paul Gardullo.

German Holocaust Archive puts Millions of Documents Online

The International Tracing Service in Germany has uploaded more than 13 million documents from Nazi concentration camps, including prisoner cards and death notices, to help Holocaust researchers and others investigate the fate of victims.

Established by the Western Allies in the final days of World War II and initially run by the Red Cross, the ITS also announced Tuesday it was changing its name to “Arolsen Archives – International Center on Nazi Persecution.”

A Village in France Will Pay You $2,240 to Decipher a Rock

I suspect there are a few experts at reading old texts in various languages amongst the readers of this newsletter. If that includes you, an article by Emily Dixon in the CNN web site will interest you:

Do the letters “ROC AR B…DRE AR GRIO SE EVELOH AR VIRIONES BAOAVEL” mean anything to you? The words might be in ancient French, or Basque,or Old Breton, or possibly something else.

Experts in Plougastel-Daoulas, a village in Brittany, northwest France, have been unable to decrypt the inscription on a rock outside the village, estimated to be centuries old, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency reports.

Leonardo’s Hair to be DNA Tested

Italian experts have found what they say is hair from Leonardo da Vinci and are set to do a DNA test on the Renaissance genius’s locks.

You can read more in an article in the ANSA.it at: http://bit.ly/2DI2P3t.

My thanks to newsletter reader Neil Barmann for telling me about this story.

See Long Hidden Historic Photos of the Gritty, Compelling Lives of Tough Maine Fishermen

The Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine recently finished preserving, scanning and cataloging National Fisherman magazine’s massive photographic archive. The images previously were stuffed into filing cabinets at the publication’s Portland office for decades. Now, every image is online, in a searchable database, for the whole world to see for free.

“The broad ranging archive reveals the compelling, gritty world of commercial fishing. The collection of prints and negatives originally accompanied stories and advertisements. They show emerging technology, as well as everyday fisherfolk hauling nets, processing the catch, repairing trawlers, building boats and setting Coast Guard buoys.”

Newly Discovered DNA Quirk Could Reveal Mysteries of Newfoundland’s First Settlers

A Newfoundland genealogist has stumbled onto a rare and mysterious DNA quirk that he says could tell the untold story of the island’s first European settlers. David Pike, a mathematics professor and genealogist, said the rare mitochondrial DNA profile caught his attention over a decade ago when it began popping up frequently in test results for a Newfoundland and Labrador genealogy project.

The profile — called H5a5, plus another unnamed mutation — is likely European in origin. Only a handful of people from Europe — fewer than 10 — have been found to test positive for the specific profile, and almost all those have roots in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Essay: The Keeping of Church Registers in Austria

The following announcement was written by Felix Gundacker and is republished here with his permission:

Vienna, April 21st, 2019

Dear researchers,

After numerous requests, my essay on the keeping of church registers in Austria which was published in October 2018 is now also available in English and can be downloaded for free.

This essay deals with the evolution of church register keeping starting prior to the Council of Trent (1545-1563), it presents ordinances and regulations issued by Maria Theresia and Joseph II which have partly never been published before, and leads up to later important developments. The explanations are supplemented with quotes of patents and ordinances.

Press Release – Free DNA Test For Leiden Pilgrim Descendants

The following announcement was written by Tamura Jones:

LEIDEN – 19 April 2019
On Thursday 25 April (DNA Day), genealogy expert Tamura Jones will organise a large-scale DNA Test of Pilgrim descendants in Leiden, the Netherlands. Such investigation has not been done before, not even in America. The goal is to try and discover something interesting about the group and their ancestors.

Mayflower Pilgrims

The Mayflower departed from Plymouth, but the Pilgrims came from Leiden, a city they called home for more than a decade. When they left for the New World, they took Dutch ideas such as religious tolerance and civil marriage with them. Thanksgiving even has roots in Leiden’s 3 October Celebrations, the annual commemoration of the Relief of Leiden in 1574.

Nowadays, Leiden does not only celebrate 3 October, but has an annual Thanksgiving Service as well. This Thanksgiving Service is held in the late-Gothic Pieterskerk (Peter’s Church), where the Pilgrim’s pastor, John Robinson, was buried. Two Mayflower descendants speak during this service, an American descendant and a Dutch descendant.

Searching for Descendants in Leiden

Notre-Dame de Paris in Pictures

I am sure everyone has heard this week’s sad news from Paris. Those of us with Parisian ancestors will be interested in the historic paintings and photographs that are now available on the Library of Congress’ web site at: http://bit.ly/2UMMMvK.

Notre-Dame de Paris - circa 1865

Notre-Dame de Paris – circa 1865

At that site, you can see what many of our ancestors saw over the years.

Thousands of old Edmonton, Alberta Historical Photos are now Online

Last October, the City of Edmonton Archives launched a new website and began transferring selected black and while images from its massive collection onto the new system. The new website now contains more than half of their target of 50,000 photos.

You can read more and also watch a video of the City of Edmonton’ archivist, Tim O’Grady, in an article by Adrienne Lamb and Rick Bremness in the CBC News web site at: http://bit.ly/2FU1wyP.

17th-century Massacre in Connecticut was New England’s ‘Jamestown’

A violent conflict between English colonists and Native Americans almost 400 years ago grew into a war that ended with the near extermination of an entire Indian tribe.

The attack on Puritan colonists in 1637 at Wethersfield, Connecticut, was smaller in scale than the Jamestown attack in Virginia in 1622 — just nine settlers were killed, while hundreds were killed in Jamestown. But the Wethersfield conflict grew into the Pequot War in New England, and it resulted in the Mystic River Massacre in May 1637; during that massacre, an army of colonists and their Native American allies killed about 500 people and effectively wiped out the Pequot tribe.