History of Grapevine Public Library, 1991-2001

Grapevine’s population grew to 31,836 in 1991. Library material holdings grew to 92,797 and annual circulation to 357,855. In February, Mrs. Marie Canning started part-time in Circulation. She eventually became full-time Acquisitions Assistant. In April, Grapevine Public Library’s automation system was upgraded from OCR labels and wands to bar code labels and laser guns. The re-labeling of over sixty thousand library materials and preparation of 30,000 borrower cards was accomplished in sixteen weeks with the help of eighty valued volunteers without closing the library. The Friends of the Library donated a Xerox plain-paper fax/copier, a Magazine Article Summaries (MAS) CD-ROM index to replace InfoTrac, and a plain-paper Minolta RP 605Z microfilm reader/printer from the proceeds of the annual Christmas ornament sale. Skaggs Alpha Beta cash register receipts worth two-hundred seventy-three thousand dollars collected by the public enabled the purchase of a MacIntosh computer and software. Due to community support and...

Ancestors in the City? Find Them (and More!) in City Directories

City directories were created for salesmen, merchants, and others interested in contacting residents of an area. They’re especially helpful for genealogical research in large cities, where a high percentage of the people were renters, new arrivals, or temporary residents. A directory may be the only source to list an ancestor if he or she was not registered to vote and did not own property. These publications are a gold mine for genealogists. They can tell you much more than simply where a family or an individual lived. Depending on the directory, and whether you follow a string of directories chronologically, you could find: The earliest known “city directory” was printed in New York in 1665. It included 255 names of households, mostly Dutch, and was arranged by the name of the street on which they lived. You can see it in the digitized book  The Memorial History of the City...

Genealogy and The Great Depression

(Credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16629774) Oh, say, don’t you remember, they called me AlIt was Al all the timeSay, don’t you remember, I’m your palBuddy, can you spare a dime? Source: LyricFind – Songwriters: E. Y. Harburg / Jay Gorney – Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? lyrics © Songtrust Ave, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC US government responses to the Great Depression of the 1930s generated some unique resources for genealogists and family historians. Today we’re going to look into some genealogically valuable records generated as a result of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and see how they can be used to enhance family history research. We need to look for these records for two main reasons. First, the Depression was an all-encompassing event that changed family narratives. Second, how relatives responded to or weathered such a crisis formed an essential aspect of family history....

Ancestors Fall on Hard Times? Check Out the Poorhouses!

(Wythe Co. poor farm image credit: By Nyttend – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57704286) What is a poorhouse? Simply put, it’s a county- or town-run residence where paupers were supported at public expense. It was known by several names – almshouse/alms house, poorhouse/poor house, poor farm, county farm, county home, and workhouse. And it’s possible that an ancestor or other family member may have spent some time in one. American poorhouse resources are little-known or vastly underutilized. According to Linda Crannell, formerly known as “The Poorhouse Lady, “The poorhouse seems to remain so invisible to us today. This is despite the fact that the poorhouse was probably one of the most extensively publicly document institutions in 19th century America.” These institutions have not been places that genealogists would normally think to look for when dealing with “disappeared” ancestors. This blog will demonstrate the value of poorhouse research, availability of poorhouse...

Territorial Papers of the United States: A Genealogical Goldmine

The Territorial Papers of the United States are the best-known source of territorial records. The published twenty-eight-volume set of transcribed, indexed, and annotated documents pertaining to the administration of some of the territories of the US covers the Old Northwest, the Southeast, and Midwest: Before a state became state, it was a territory with an appointed territorial governor along a territorial legislature and other governmental offices. And where there is government, there is paperwork: listings of officials, petitions to the government, correspondence of the territorial governor, letters back and forth among governmental officials, slavery issues, Native American affairs, etc. Some History For years, these records were ignored and just housed in various agencies (Department of State, Library of Congress, the then-Department of War, etc.) until the 1911 publication of the Calendar of Papers in Washington Archives of the United States (to 1873) by David W. Parker. The preface to this work laments the...

“A Diabolical Concentration of Power”: How Home Rule Almost(?) Put Grapevine in Dallas County, 1933-1936

In February 1933 two plans for increased economic efficiency in the organization and working of county and municipal governments were pending in the Texas State Legislature. One was a revised Home Rule Bill presented in the Senate by Frank H. Rawlings of Fort Worth and in the House by R. Emmett Morse of Houston. This bill was originally presented by Walter Beck in 1931 but failed to pass. The second plan, presented to the House by Z. E. Coombes of Dallas, consisted of a resolution calling for the addition of a new section consisting of four paragraphs to Article 5 of the state constitution. The Home Rule Bill focused on modifying Article 9 of the Texas state constitution, which dealt with administration of counties. Its primary purpose was to give home rule powers to counties with populations greater than 60,000. It would add Section 3, the home rule amendment, to...

The American State Papers

In today’s blog post we’ll look at the American State Papers (Papers). This collection consists of 38 physical volumes containing legislative and executive documents of Congress from 1789-1838. They include papers that cover the critical historical gap in the preservation of federal documents from the first presidency in 1789 to the printing of the first volume of the US Serial Set in 1817. The Serial Set picks up where the Papers leaves off and continues to this day. Luckily for genealogists, these historical document sets are freely available on the Library of Congress web site A Century of Lawmaking For a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1873. Among the many items are the American State Papers (1789-1838) and the U.S. Serial Set (1817-1873). For more information, read this great article, “Those Elusive Early Americans: Public Lands and Claims in the American State Papers, 1789-1837.” The American State Papers...

Start Your Own Genealogical FAN Club!

The FAN club is a term coined by renowned genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills. “FAN” stands for “Friends, Associates, Neighbors”, and refers to researching the cluster of people who interacted with your ancestors. This principle is also called cluster or collateral genealogy. Researching people within this cluster can provide insights into your ancestors’ lives, as well as help answer thorny questions your direct research hasn’t been able to resolve (“I can’t find this guy ANYWHERE! Where the heck was he?” or “Which of the six John Smiths in this county is mine?” or “Who was Nathan Pyeatt’s (1787-1812) mother?”). The FAN club is a great tool for proving relationships, establishing identities, and busting through brick walls. Many printed and on-line resources contain case studies demonstrating how you can use records of friends, associates, and neighbors to obtain the answers you’re looking for. Some of the best case studies using the FAN...

Colonial and State Census Records

Censuses are not conducted in a vacuum. They occur amidst internal and external crisis, shifts in cultural interests, and events that become ‘defining moments’. They also reflect growth of the population as well as changing values and interests of Americans. Therefore, they can add valuable information that can enhance your family’s history and should be sought out. Content ranges from statistical tables only, to significant genealogical information, and will vary widely in content depending on the time and place they were taken. Thirty-seven states took censuses separately and apart from federal censuses. The number taken ranges from one census year, such as California in 1852, to 24 years, such as Mississippi between 1792 and 1866. Budget constraints during the Great Depression prevented further state enumerations, although Florida’s last state census was taken in 1945. Non-federal censuses generally have content similar to that of the federal records of the same time period...

Epidemics and Genealogical Research

“Philadelphia 11th october 1793 11 OClock A.M. “The fever from all that I can learn is more fatal than ever, yesterday a vast number of burials – I do not expect any abatement of the fever before we have rain and high winds – The day before yesterday we were witness to what appears to me Shocking – a Coffin was brought to the entrance of Welsh’s alley, where it stayed sometime for the man to die before he was put into the Coffin, Such hurry must burry many alive.” The role of disease-causing microbes in human history has long been studied. When conducting genealogical research, however, knowledge of disease becomes just as important. Disease could be the reason why you can’t find an ancestor somewhere, or why long-residing families suddenly relocated, or why an ancestor may have remarried. But it also has wider genealogical ramifications. Disease affected entire communities....

“By the Dawn’s Early Light”: Researching War of 1812 Ancestors

The War of 1812 was a military and naval conflict between the United States (US) and Great Britain over British impressment of American sailors (1803), restriction of American trade with France during Napoleonic Wars (1807), and US desire to expand territory (1811). It has been referred to as “the forgotten war” – most likely because there was no clear winner or loser in the conflict. No lands were gained or lost after the Treaty of Ghent ended the war on February 16, 1815. Only 7,000 men served in the United States military when the war broke out. By the end of the war, more than 35,000 American regulars and 458,000 militia—though many of these were only mustered in for local defense—were serving on land and sea in the following locations: Was your ancestor one of those who served? Who Could Serve? Before starting your research, you should answer several important...