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  • New Free Databases

    Sunday, Mar 17, 2019

    Today, we are going to highlight the newest Free Databases from states other than Indiana!

    Colored Directory of the Leading Cities of Northern California, 1916-1917 includes names and addresses of residents in several major cities and on ranches in the area, photos of some of the residences, churches and organizations, as well as statistics on how many African Americans lived in the cities (5000 in Oakland, 1500 in San Francisco and 21 in Emeryville). This is a terrific source for African American families and organizations in the area.
    Blog - Dir

    Indexed newspaper transcriptions for the Canon City (Fremont) Daily Record Index, 2014-2016, and the Saguache (County) Crescent Index, 2015-2016 include obituaries, births, marriages, engagements and more, proving that family history includes modern records as well.

    Also new is the 1948 Commencement Program for the University of Michigan. This contains a list of all graduates by name. The Claypool Subdivision & Reo Park Addition in Ingham County, Michigan includes detailed abstracts and maps.
    Blog - Reo

    Norris’ Dover Directory, 1843 from Strafford County, New Hampshire includes churches schools, government offices, as well as a regular directory of residents and a list of “Females Employed by Cochecho Manufacturing Co.,” with these ladies’ places of residence. Additionally, we have the “Record Book Kept by Daniel Osborne (1794-1871), Quaker and Banker, Dover, New Hampshire,” which includes his family record, his banker records, as well as other items of interest to him, such as the royal family of England, executions, steam boat accidents, marriages and deaths. Not nearly as eclectic is the “Moses Crawford Daybook, Kept by Moses Crawford (1776-1835), Town of Montgomery, Orange County, New York,” which primarily includes amounts collected and paid, such as soap and rye.

    The Receipts and Disbursements of the City of Cincinnati, 1857 lists receipts, expenditures, debts owed by and to the city, school funds and more. There are also three more newspaper transcriptions with indexes, this time for Ohio, Butler Co., OH--Journal-News Index, from Butler County, 2015-2016, the Greenville (Darke County) Advocate Index, 2015 and the Dayton (Montgomery County) Daily News Index for 2015-2016.

    Finally, we have a history of Pampa (Gray County, Texas) Public Schools of Pampa, 1903 to 2005, including a section of the African American schools and subsequent integration, the city’s population and school enrollment through the years, and photographs and maps.

    Again, we thank everyone for their contributions!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Tips on the American Ancestors Website

    Saturday, Feb 23, 2019

    by John

    American Ancestors is the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116. The society is America’s oldest genealogical society, the publisher of the "New England Register" and many books. While it is still predominantly a New England genealogical site, the name of the site was changed from “New England Ancestors” to reflect the growing number of data sets from states outside of New England and some foreign countries. The site is accessible by subscription only, but ACPL has access to most of it. Portions are restricted to individual members and not accessible to libraries. Some of the major databases include the following:
    •    New England Register, full text of all back issues.
    •    American Genealogist (TAG), full text of back issues.
    •    New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, full text of back issues.
    •    New York wills (multiple databases).
    •    Early New England Families, 1640-1700, by Alicia Crane Williams.
    •    Great Migration Project (1620-1635), by Robert Charles Anderson.
    •    Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston Records.
    •    Essex, Plymouth, Middlesex, Worcester Counties, MA Probate Files.
    •    Town Vital Records to 1850 (various, usually published versions).
    •    Western Massachusetts Families in 1790.
    Here are a few searching tips to make your research more productive. First, use asterisks and question marks to truncate searches when spelling varies. Question marks=1 letter; asterisks=more letters; quotation marks=exact phrases. Second, an “All-database search” is great for searching unusual names, but is less useful for common ones and generates too many unwanted results. Too much information in the search fields will limit successful searches. I find it easier to browse the data sets or do a search specifically within a database than do a larger search, because I am more likely to get the results I want. Finally, I use the browse feature much more often than the general search.

    American Ancestors is a great website to use in conjunction with Ancestry and Familysearch. It has records and sources that those other websites lack and may help springboard your New England research.
    American Ancestors

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Free Allen County Resources Online!

    Saturday, Jan 26, 2019

    There are some great new items in our Allen County Resources page, touching on many aspects of life in Allen County, such as schools, sports, religion, government and property, starting with the Fort Wayne Roundball, 1965-66, the first annual basketball preview for the county (see below). Included are photos and rosters for the various high school teams and includes photos of the cheerleaders and advertisements. Sticking with sports, we have Zollner Pistons: 1940-1957 From YMCA to NBA--The Rise and Demise of the Zollner Pistons, which contains information about Fred Zollner, team rosters, All-Stars, and a year-by-year history.

    We also have a few new General Electric Company materials, such as Elex Club scrapbooks for 1953-53, 1953, 1954-1955, 1954-1955 #2, 1955-1956, 1978-1984, a Pen-EL Scrapbook, GE Elex Partizan Scrapbook, 1952-1960 and the GE Elex Quintus Scrapbook, 1978-1983.

    Some new church records now grace our pages, such as Allen County Methodist Church Records for Arcola 1914-2015, Hoagland 1892-1921, and the Sheldon Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1879-1891. There is a Faith United Church of Christ 25th Anniversary booklet, 1968-1993, complete with photographs, a booklet for the Golden Jubilee Honoring the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Charles H. Thiele, 1888-1938, St. Peter Church, and a booklet for the St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Diamond Jubilee, 1872-1947.

    Dutch Ridge Remembered--1900, Cedar Creek, Allen County, Indiana recalls the community on Old Auburn Road, just south of the DeKalb County line, and has many families noted and a great map (see below), and Community Development Photos include a number of historic houses arranged by district.
    Dutch Ridge

    You can examine the Park Master Plan Phase I for Fort Wayne, part of the Parks and Recreation section of the Community Development Library, 1974-2002, and see the
    Fort Wayne Board of Park Commissioners Annual Reports for 1925 through 1932.
    And there is the Pleasant Township Road Tax Lists, 1880, and in Fort Wayne City Documents, you can find the Fort Wayne City Inaugural Ceremony, 1960, and Fort Wayne Police Department the 1990 annual report.

    A very useful addition is the Aboite Township School Enumeration, 1866-1895, and we also have the Aboite Township School Trustees Records, 1867-1893, Allen County, Indiana, as well as additional Fort Wayne Public Schools and Public Library directories for 1929-1930, 1933-1934 and 1950-1951.

    We have club records for Morning Star 346, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Theta Upsilon Lambda Chapter, Fort Wayne, 2016, and Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Fall Reunion 1928, Valley of Fort Wayne.

    We have Updated Abstracts of Title (Williams Addition), Bercot Addition, Lot 20, Ewing Addition, Lots 5 and 10, and South Wood Park Addition, Lot 83.

    And finally, we have updated the Fort Wayne/Allen County Obituaries Index, which brings the total number of indexed obituaries to 11, 306 and the 2017 Lindenwood burials.

    Anyone researching Fort Wayne and Allen County needs to check out these great sources!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Cemeteries included in Our Free Databases

    Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019

    We have lots of new cemetery listings for our Free Databases, so let’s go alphabetically by state.

    For Autauga County, Alabama we have the Apperson Family Cemetery, Autaugaville Cemetery, Bethel Baptist Cemetery, Burt Cemetery, and Old Autaugaville Cemetery, and, for Elmore County, Bethlehem West Baptist Cemetery.

    There is only one this time for Indiana, Citizens Cemetery in Wabash County.

    In Kansas, we now have Griffin Cemetery, Hamon Cemetery, Heatherly Cemetery,
    Miller Cemetery, Mormon Grove Cemetery, Neill Cemetery, Parry Family Cemetery, Sacks Cemetery, Sapp Cemetery, Springhill Cemeteryand Wills Cemetery, all in Atchison County.

    Only one in Louisiana, Zion Travelers Cemetery, St John the Baptist Parish.

    Finally, we have quite a few cemeteries for Ohio, including Boone, Bradford, and Crissman in Adams County, and Beery, Chivington, Coats, Coil, Dixon, King, Knight,
    Landfair, Palmer, Skeels, and Zimmerman in Mercer County, Ohio.

    Thanks to everyone who donates these great records for your research pleasure!


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Items at Our Military Heritage

    Friday, Jan 18, 2019

    We have some great new military sources on Our Military Heritage, starting with the Civil War, we have a photo of Joseph Godfrey Swartz of Miller's Company, Rockbridge County, Virginia Reserves, and records for William Coil, 31st Ohio Volunteer Infantry and Christopher Lampy, 35th Iowa Infantry. The latter two include a variety of records, including service records, surgeons’ certificates, and pension records.

    We also have various materials for the 30th Regiment Indiana Infantry Volunteers, including the Nineteenth Annual Reunion booklet in 1902, and the Reunion Programme and Roster for 1911.

    And we have acquired an image of the Bugle Call, Exhibits of War Relics in Fort Wayne in 1886. The broadside indicates that the exhibit and entertainment will be at the Library Hall, December 9 to December 24.

    For World War I, we have various records for Henry Greenhagen, U.S. Army, including a photo, his honorable discharge and his 1970 obituary. We also have the World War I Honor Roll of Wapello County, Iowa, which includes photos and a brief biography for most of their service people and nurses, and a list of their Gold Star Men.
    And we have a 1961 publication entitled Naval Forces Indiana From 1921, a short history of the Naval reserves of Indiana.

    There are photos an brief biographies for Carlyle Swartz and Joseph Gibboney Swartz, both in the Army in World War II, and photos and clippings for Robert Seibold, 141st and 36th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, as well as a service diary for Robertson B. Clarke of the U.S. Navy, which includes pages of autographs of various people he met. We also have a group photo of Co. D, 61st Medical Training Battalion, A.S.F.T.C., Camp Barkeley, Texas, June 16, 1944.

    And finally, we have From Kinsmoor to Korea: The Korean War Letters of Walter Harrison Sprunger by Douglas M. Lehman. This database is searchable and includes letters to as well as from Sprunger.

    And remember, you, too, can include your military life or ancestors by contributing photos, service records and collections to Our Military Heritage.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Free Databases - Church Records

    Friday, Jul 13, 2018

    Church records can solve so many genealogical mysteries, so we always consider ourselves fortunate when we have new church material for our Free Databases pages.

    We will start out with the Ladies Aid of St. Peter Lutheran Church of Mishawaka, St. Joseph County, Indiana. These records consist of Membership and Receipts Books, 1957-1990, Receipt and Disbursement Records, 1947-1990, Treasurers Records, 1982-1990, and the 1981 and 1983 yearbooks. This is a wealth of information for the congregants.

    Sticking with Indiana, we have Clear Creek Christian Church (Monroe County) anniversary books for 100 and 125 years (1938 and 1963); the Star City (Pulaski County) United Methodist Church Directory (see below); Eberhard Lutheran Church Records, 1941-1985, for Whitley County; and Hortonville (Hamilton County) Friends Meeting Minutes, 1941-1985.
    Star City UM

    For Illinois, we have Willow Creek Presbyterian Church Diamond Jubilee, 1920; Centennial Anniversary, 1945; and 125th Anniversary, 1970. Willow Creek is in Winnebago County. And, finally we have a history for St. Mary Church History, Mound City, in Pulaski County.

    These are all great sources for church members and their families!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Lasting Lawyer Legacy Project

    Tuesday, Jul 10, 2018

    The Lasting Lawyer Legacy Project is an ACBA/ New Lawyer’s Section initiative. They have partnered with the Allen County Public Library to capture the stories of the seasoned attorneys whom we respect and whom we admire, and they are now online! Memories include various aspects of modern Allen Count history and are interesting in the extreme! Newest entries include: Steve Adair, Vincent Backs, Sherrill Colvin, Wendy Davis, Donald Doxsee, Denia Ellis, Jim Fenton, Ron Gehring, William Harris, Stanley Hood, Philip Larmore, Stanley Levine, Judge Paul Mathias, Jeanne S. Miller, William F. McNagny, Dawn Rosemond, Judge David Avery, Roger Hultquist, Robert Kabisch, Frank Kimbrough, Mac Parker, Patrick Proctor, Dan Roby, Stanley Rosenblatt, John Schenkel, Perry Shilts, Thomas Shoaff, Dan Sigler, James Springer, Brian Stier, Denny Sutton, Don Swanson,  Josh Tourkow, John Williams, Kenneth Yahne, Mike Yates, and Tom Yoder.
    Lasting Lawyer

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Free Databases from Around the USA

    Sunday, Jun 24, 2018

    We’ve recently added material from several states to our Free Databases.

    For Louisiana, we have the Fuselier-Dupre Cemetery from Acadia Parish, and the Opelousas Militia, 1770 Muster Roll of St. Landry Parish. Both of these databases were provided by the wonderful Jim Cox.

    Heading east, we have a Union County, North Carolina for 1907, which shows residents’ locations and a the booklet for the Trappe Methodist Church, 173rd Anniversary, 1781-1954, in Talbot County, Maryland, which includes the history for the church and a list of pastors.

    We have a nifty List of Pre-1847 Court Records in the State New York Archives and Selected Records Relating to the New York State Canals.

    We have the Jesse Page Carpenter Collection, which includes the images of his
    Medical Journal, and an Index to the Medical Journal with his Biography. Dr. Carpenter practiced in Crittenden County, Vermont, 1804-1820. These Carpenter documents and research materials were generously provided by Ann Harrigan Raymont of Indianapolis, and Margaret Hobson of Spencerville, Indiana.

    We have the Mount Avon Cemetery, Oakland County, Michigan, a 1989 Walking Tour booklet, which includes a history and map of the cemetery along with notable burials, and we have Patricia Harney’s Vital Records and Other Michigan Family Information Transcribed From the Saline Observer,” which covers 1880-1882 and 1890-1894.

    Additionally for Michigan we have the 1933 History of Michigan Masonic Home, Alma, Gratiot County, Michigan, which includes a history of the home, description and financial details.

    We have the Dedication Service booklet for the 1963 Dedication of the First Evangelical United Brethren Church, in Montpelier, Williams County, Ohio, which includes a roll of pastors and photos including these of the Congregation and the parking lot.
    Evan Church

    And, finally, we now have an Index to the book They Seek a Country: A Survey of Mennonite Migrations, which is available in The Genealogy Center (call number GC 929.102 M52WI). This index was compiled by Doug Lehman and is presented here with his permission.

    So many wonderful sources, so little time!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Rotary Club of Fort Wayne Resources

    Monday, Jun 18, 2018

    The Rotary Club of Fort Wayne has donated some of their material to create an archives for the society and we have an entirely new section devoted to these materials. Sections include copies of their newsletters, Rotary Spin and Tickler, and rosters. And now the Archives section includes 25th, 50 and 75th anniversary materials, their constitution and by-Laws, and a timeline from 1905 to 2015.

    There are lots of photos in Rotary Events for 100 PENTX; the Elks Golf Outing and Washington School, 2004; Foreign Rotary Dignitaries, 25 March 2005; Golf Outings, July and August; River Cleanup, 2004; River Greenway Opening, 2005; and events from Washington School I 2004 and 2005.

    Finally, there is Celebrating 100 Years of Service, to observe their Centennial, and fundraising, construction and dedication documents, photos and videos of the Rotary Clock Tower, located on the Library Plaza on Wayne Street.

    Thank you to the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne for allowing us to host their materials!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Free African American Databases!

    Thursday, Jun 14, 2018

    We have some fabulous new items in the Marsha Smiley African American Collection!

    Subpages have been added for the African/African American Historical Museum Highlights, Fraternal Organizations, and Spirit Flight. 

    We have new biographies on Judge William L. Briggs, Terra Brantley, Verna M. Adams, Levan Scott, Hana Stith, Edward Elkins, Walter Tharp, Jr., Lionel Tobin, Barker Davie, Jr., Lewis Sims, Rae Pearson, Barker Davie, Marshall White, William Hayden, Eric Wilson, and Veronica Townes in the Crossing Opportunity’s Threshold. These are terrific articles, like the ones for Victor Eugene “Gene” Butler: Community Pharmacist, Owner of Community Care Pharmacy and Helen S. Pickett: 1st Black Female License Mortician in Indiana.
    Smiley AfAm
    There is also a new subheading for Publications which include: Art of the Alabama Road Trip; Condra Leach Ridley; Edna Rowland Williams; Impacting Democracy; Purple Hull Peas Offer Rich Taste, Rich Heritage; Pushing the Color Line: Race and Employment in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1933-1963; The Children’s Crusade; CitiLink Celebrates Multigenerational Tradition; Eddie Noel; Fort Wayne’s Early African-American Settlers; A Legacy of Trailblazing and Activist Women in Fort Wayne; Robert Hayden; Roma Stewart: Fort Wayne Pioneer Families; Metro Youth Sports, Inc. Celebrates 40th Anniversary; Paying Tribute to Willie Long; Black 1st; Illuminating a Legacy; Johnny Bright: Feats/Feet of Strength; Slavery in New York; Showing Gratitude Where It’s Due; Voice of the Elders: Building a Life in Our Own Community; and the ALA Report; June 23-25; 2017 of Connie Scott; President of Indiana Black Librarians Network.  2017.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More Cemetery Records!

    Sunday, Jun 10, 2018

    A non-genealogist may think that family history research is only done with books or maybe computers, but we all know the joys of tramping through cemeteries, searching for that one specific marker to provide the information that we really, really need. We may have to travel hours or days to visit the right burial ground. But if we are lucky, someone may have visited the site and transcribed all of the markers. At one time, this sort of record might be in a volume some enterprising individual or society published, or in a society journal. But now we have the Internet! And The Genealogy Center hosts many of these records on our Free Databases page.

    For Bartholomew County, Indiana, we’ve recently posted Bryant Cemetery, Burnett-Bennell Cemetery, Azalia Methodist Cemetery, Bush Family Graveyard, Carney Cemetery, Carson Family Graveyard, Carvin Family Graveyard, Clemons Family Cemetery, and Robertson Cemetery, and for Henry County, Indiana, Bell Cemetery, Berger Family Cemetery, Bowers Cemetery, Brookshire Duck Creek Wesleyan Methodist Cemetery, Bundy Cemetery, Shepherd Cemetery, Beech Grove Cemetery, Bunner Cemetery, Christian Friends/Finch Cemetery, Conway/Kessinger Cemetery, Devon Universalist Church Cemetery, Ebenezer Cemetery, and the gravesite of Martha Bucy. We also have Apostolic Cemetery, B’nae Zion Jewish Cemetery, Beatty’s Corner Cemetery, and Faith United Methodist Cemetery in LaPorte County, Indiana.

    In Adair County, Kentucky, we have Bailey Cemetery, Banks Cemetery in Absher, Banks Cemetery in Columbia, Bardin Family Cemetery, Barnes Cemetery, Barr Cemetery, Benjamin Evans Cemetery,  Bennett Cemetery, Bennett Family / Nalley Cemetery, Bennett Family Cemetery in Cane Valley, Bennett Family Cemetery in Weed, Bethany Baptist Church Cemetery, Beulah Chapel Cemetery, Blair Cemetery, Blakey Cemetery, Blessed Hope Old Regular Baptist Church Cemetery, Botts-Orr Cemetery, and Bradshaw Cemetery. And for Woodford County, Kentucky, we have Adams Family Cemetery, Allen Cemetery, Ayres Family Cemetery, Cherry Grove Cemetery, Cook-Mitchell Cemetery, Guyn Family Cemetery, Josiah Felix Family Cemetery, Mortonsville Black Cemetery, Paul Family Cemetery, Reuben Young Cemetery, Singleton Hill Cemetery, and the Thomas Steele, Sr. Cemetery.

    A few for Adams County, Illinois include Adams County Poor Farm Cemetery, Adamson Cemetery, Allen Family Cemetery, Amen Cemetery, Baker Cemetery, Banton Cemetery, Benton Family Cemetery, Beverly Cemetery, Booth Memorial Cemetery, Bowles Cemetery, Britt-Hultz Cemetery,  and Broady Cemetery.

    Four cemeteries in Atlantic County, New Jersey are Estellville M.E. Cemetery, Somers Burial Ground, Steelman Family Burial Ground, and Steelmans Creek Burial Ground.

    All of the above have been made available through the hard work and generosity of Jim Cox. Thanks, Jim!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More for Our Military Heritage!

    Wednesday, Jun 06, 2018

    There are a few new records on Our Military Heritage.

    We have a couple of World War I large group photos this time, including the 36th Infantry, “I” Recruit Company, Fort Snelling, Minn., in 1918, 4th Co., 1st Battalion, 159 Depot Brigade, and a Preview of 12th Division, Camp Devens, Sept. 14, 1918. The great thing about these photos is that you can click anywhere and see an enlarged single section, like this one of Purdue University WWI unit.

    Also for World War I, we have records for Howard Carling, 27th Engineers, and the Warren Longstreth, 349th Infantry, National Army collection, including diaries, sketches and souvenirs.

    We also have some large group photos for World War II, including
    Co. 1743, 20 December 1043 and 31st Regiment Personnel, 6 April 1945, both from the U.S. Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois (see below), for Co C, 31st Infantry Training Battalion, a Photo from March 1944 & Roster, December 1943-April 1944, and, finally, a photo of the Men of Diehard, 2nd Platoon Company, 309th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry Division.
    Naval Station

    We also have the 1943 and 1944 issues of The Stout Fielder, from Stout Field, Indianapolis, Indiana, and material for the USS Colorado, including Photographs and a scrapbook that contains a number of pages from the ship’s newsletter, Shorebird.

    For specific servicemen, we have a memorial card for Walter Werner, 9th Armored Division, and various records for Private Daniel Allgeier, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 423rd Infantry Regiment, who was killed in action in Germany on 21 December 1944. We have materials for Wendell Wayne Fenn, 101st Airborne, 327th Glider Infantry, Doyne L. Ferris, U.S. Army Air Corps, Harold Talmage Hawkins, 602nd and 609th Field Artillery Battalion, U.S. Army, Robert Eugene Hawkins, U.S. Navy, and from our colleague, Allison DePrey Singleton, records for Harold Edward DePrey, U.S. Signal Corps (see below) and Merlin Francis Hillman, Marine Fighting Squadron 413.

    We also have collections of letters of Charles Harris, U.S. Navy and William Lynn Killen, U.S. Army, who died in 1945 in France.

    And finally, we have material for James Andrew McBride, U.S. Naval Academy, 1922 and for Phillip Ardath Hawkins, U.S. Air Force, Peacetime Service from 1958-2004.

    Take a few minutes to browse these items and think about the sacrifices these people made.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More School Material in Free Databases

    Thursday, May 31, 2018

    We recently detailed some of our newest Free Databases for that are Indiana school oriented, but we also get lots of materials for mother states as well, like the yearbooks for Skinner School (Bloomington, McLean Co., IL), 1908-1909 and Marysville (Nodaway Co., MO) High School, 1917, a list of graduates for Lebanon (Smith Co., KS) High School, 1895-1984,  and a nifty photo of the 6th grade of Bunker Hill School, Ashtabula County, Ohio, with the students identified on the back of the photo.
    Blog - Ashtabula

    There are several items for Continental High School in Putnam County, Ohio including the 1912 annual and commencement program, and several miscellaneous photographs, and Class of 1945 50th and 55th Reunion booklets for Lemoyne High School in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, but one of my favorite items in this batch of new databases is the booklet for the Hinsdale Township (DuPage Co., IL) High School Class Trip of 1935. The mimeographed booklet details the 10-day educational journey by rail, bus and automobile to several spots in the east including Pittsburgh, Annapolis and Williamsburg from April 6 through April 12. Parents are advised to provide $5 to $10 for incidentals such as tips or souvenirs. Students are also cautioned that they must be in bed by 11 p.m., ready for breakfast by 7:30 a.m., and that the chaperones reserve the right to send troublesome students home.
    Blog - Conduct

    Take a stroll down memory lane, someone’s memory land anyway, and enjoy browsing these items.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Additions to Our Military Heritage for Memorial Day!

    Monday, May 28, 2018

    Originally known as Decoration Day, the day when people decorated the graves of those fallen in battle during the Civil War, Memorial Day has been celebrated for more than a century but has only been an official federal holiday since 1971. So, in honor of the day, let’s take a look at some of our recent additions to Our Military Heritage.

    Donated by Jim Cox, we have two accounts from the Red River Campaign, Mrs. S.G.M. (Sarah Gardner Moss) Bannerman’s memory of the Battle of Mansfield (April 8, 1864) and a description of the Battle of Pleasant Hill (April 9, 1864). Also from Jim Cox, we have a list of Louisiana Soldiers Killed in the 1st and 2nd Battle of Manassas, Buried in Manassas Cemetery, Fauquier County, Virginia, the Pensioners Roll, 1883, St. John Parish, Louisiana and Letters Written by William Beaird, Jr. (1833-1914) Concerning His Louisiana Confederate Pension Application.

    On the Union side, we have Some Soldiers' Service Records for Company C, 100th Indiana Infantry, and the discharge papers of John Rose, 74th Ohio Infantry along with his marriage record to Elizabeth Stepps. And, to wrap up the Civil War material, we have the National Cemetery Administration's Federal Stewardship of Confederate Dead, published in 2016.
    Rose Mil dis

    There are also a number of records for Revolutionary War Soldiers, including John Blizard, and John and Strangeman Hutchins of Virginia, Johannes Krick, Capt. Joseph Bowman’s Company, Virginia, William Lawson, Montgomery County Militia, Virginia and
    Moses Taylor, Albemarle Guards, Virginia. For Maryland, we have

    Zepheniah Dowden, Montgomery County Militia, James Thompson, 1st, Maryland Regiment, Dennis Dunham, Captain Anderson’s Company. Pennsylvania soldiers include Devault Koons, Northampton County Militia, John Meason, 3rd Battalion, Westmoreland County Militia, Cheney Ricketts, Bedford County Militia,Private Henry Shideler, Captain Miar's Company, 5th Pennsylvania Battalion, and David Pernod, Patriot. And also, Nathaniel Satterlee, New York, and Marmadule Vickrey, North Carolina.

    And, finally, we have the Congressional Research Publication “Military Service Records, Awards, and Unit Histories: A Guide to Locating Records,” which provides information on locating service and pension records at the National Archives, locating unit histories, information on awards and decorations, web addresses and much more!

    Take a few minutes on this Memorial Day to read and think about some of our fallen military men!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Free Database - Indiana Schools & Colleges

    Friday, May 25, 2018

    Ah, the end of the school year approaches, with graduations galore, so we’d like to highlight some of our newest Free Databases that are Indiana school related!

    We start with Fort Wayne Central High School with a large collection of publications, including all yearbooks from 1911 to 1971, various items on historical aspects of the school, such as alumni quotes, sports photographs, and information on sports legend Johnny Bright. There is also the 1934 commencement program, and reunion booklets and photos for that class from 1959 to 1989. One other addition to our Free Databases is the 1920 Commencement program for Fort Wayne High School, Central’s predecessor in name.

    We have a new splash page for North Side High School that includes all of the yearbooks from 1929 to 1977, several scrapbooks, reunion booklets for the classes of 1956 and 1970, videos for the 1969 and 1971 basketball seasons and photos of the entire 1938 and 1956 North Side High School graduating classes. Click on any section and see an enlarged view! And, finally, we have the 1966 South Side High School Totem Yearbook.

    We’ve also added commence programs for 1930 Allen County Common Schools, 1962 Bishop Luers High School and Fort Wayne’s Central Catholic in 1941 and the New Haven High School Class of 1938 Reunion Booklet of 1998.

    Going a bit further afield, we have Horace Mann School Memories, Huntington County, Indiana, written in 1989, as well as the South Adams Elementary (Adams County, IN) Reunion Booklet for the Class of 1956, the Whiting (IN) High School Commencement Announcement for 1965, and Reunion Booklets for Washington High School, East Chicago, classes of 1945 and 1946 in 1981 and Classes of 1945, 1946, and 1947 in 1986. Additionally, we have the Vevay High School (Switzerland County, IN) 1938 Commencement, the 1940-1941 Directory for Vanderburgh County-Evansville (IN) Public Schools, and several photographs from Mill Creek High school in LaPorte County.

    Now, we can’t forget that we also have college materials, starting with the 1908 Commencements for Marion Normal College and Valparaiso University and the 1912 Commencement for Tri-State Normal College, and a 1904-1905 Tri-State Normal State Catalogue.

    Adding the Purdue University 1923 Commencement program, the Evansville College 1927 Commencement program and the Franklin College Bulletin for 1934 and we’ve got a good start, though, of course, we can’t pass Indiana University when we now have Commencement programs for 1920, 1921, 1924, 1925, 1927, 1932 and 1936 and a 1953 Emeritus Club directory. And then we have the Indiana State University, and its predecessor, Indiana State Teachers’ College Commencement programs for 1930, 1939, 1954 and 1969, and for DePauw University, the 1957 Commencement program and the 1983 Alumni Luncheon program. And, finally, the 1930, 1937 and 1963 Commencement programs for Norte Dame University.

    So take a few minutes to browse through these great new items!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Free Database - French Families of Allen County, Indiana

    Saturday, May 19, 2018

    The French connection in Allen County goes back centuries, to the founding of the first fort at the Miami village of Kekionga in 1715. The British, then the Americans gained control of the area, but ethnic French continued to arrive, especially in the 1820s to 1840s, coming from Ohio and New York, and these French descendants are one of the largest ethnic groups in Fort Wayne. Now, thanks to the generosity of Martine Copeland, we have her research, “French Families of Allen County, Indiana” online for searching.

    The Compendium and four surname based volumes total more than 18,000 pages of biographical information, and the Online Tree provides connections for more than 30,000 people. And don’t think that this material contains only French surnames. Other families that married into the French families are also included. In fact, The Compendium section includes lists of surnames, French and others, with brief explaanations of why they are included or not, as well as maps and lists of departments and regions in France, a glossary for translating French abbreviations, and a list of French archives and web addresses.

    Anyone researching the ethnic French in Indiana or the Midwest should certainly examine this wonderful addition to our Free Databases.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • A Tintype by Any Other Name – Is Still a Tintype.

    Monday, Aug 14, 2017

    by Kay

    Ah, the lowly tintype.
    While they may not be as rare as an ambrotype or as dynamic as a daguerreotype, their importance to the history of photography cannot be ignored. Why? The tintype was an affordable method of recording history, and it opened up vistas in the United States like no other photography method before. You may know the term tintype by other names and there is a reason for that. Maybe you have heard them referred to as melainotypes or ferrotypes. Well, either name is ok to use. Why all the different names? In 1852 Adolphe Alexander Martin invented the tintype, but he didn’t patent it. Early photography was continually growing and reinventing itself. In 1854, a chemistry professor from Kenyon College in Ohio, Hamilton Smith, was working with a process he called melainotype – he patented that process in 1856. Around the same time a rival manufacturer, Victor Griswold, came up with a similar product which he had named ferrotype. When Griswold took out his patent in the U.S, he used the name tintype. In the United Kingdom it was still the ferrotype.

    The tintype was a variation of the ambrotype, but instead of a glass plate, a thin sheet of iron (ferro) was used. This inexpensive sheet of iron proved to be less fragile than either the ambrotype or daguerreotype.

    Now, let’s take a look at some of our tintypes. And, just so you know, I have no idea who any of the people are in the images. The most we can hope for is to establish approximate dates for our tintypes. Before we begin our examination of our tintypes, remember that we have the patent date of 1856 as a starting point. The height of their popularity was between 1860 and 1870, but tintypes continued to be used long after the 1880s.

    The first tintype we are looking at is an earlier one and I’m basing that on two things: the clothing the people are wearing and the fact that the tintype is in a metal frame. When tintypes were first produced, they were encased in frames just like an ambroytype or daguerreotype. Later on these frames became paper. There were even special tintype albums created for inserting the photograph. The couple in this photograph are wearing clothing which can be dated between 1863 and 1865. She is wearing a dress with an obvious hoop skirt, her sleeves are narrow at the shoulders and fuller as it reaches her wrist. Her hair is parted down the middle and she is wearing some sort of headdress. She may have curls on the back of her head or that could be part of a headdress, it’s too dark to tell. The man is wearing a long jacket which was popular during the Civil War. Combining the clothing with the frame of the tintype leaves me to conclude this was taken between 1863 and 1865.

    The next photograph is of a woman and a baby. As you can tell this photograph has been damaged over time. The glass was broken and there was some kind of grunge covering the frame. After removing the glass, it became obvious how much the glass protected the image. The left side of the image, which had been covered by glass, remained in pretty good shape. There is the beginning of corrosion where the image was exposed. This is also an early tintype. Based on what the woman is wearing – the bonnet, lace cap, and bell shaped sleeves – I would say this image was taken between 1863 and 1865.

    The next two photographs I have grouped together, however I’m only guessing that they belong together. The reasons I believe they are a couple is because of the backdrop, the chair and the carpet are the same. I’m dating the photographs between 1883 and 1884. Those dates don’t allow for much wiggle room, but I’m basing my guess on the woman and her amazing bustle. For some inexplicable reason, the bustle was popular for a long time, from approximately 1869 to 1890. All through that time the bustle was constantly changing and it can be categorized into the early, middle, and late bustle periods. If you have a woman who is wearing a bustle in one of your photographs, you can come awfully close to pinning down a date. Of course, this all depends on how current her fashion sense was. She could always be lagging ten years behind current fashion styles. There are numerous fashion plate books which can be used as references, Godey, Journal des Demoiselles, and Revue de La Mode. Our woman’s dress has a high collar, fitted bodice, and a bustle which is high in the back. The sleeves of her dress do not have the little puff at the shoulder which became popular in the late 1880s and eventually morphed into mutton sleeves. While her hair isn’t as elaborately coiffed as was popular during this period, her bangs are frizzed. Men are a little harder to place in a time period based on their clothing. But I believe this man could fit into the 1883-84 time period

    Now for some interesting images. The first one is of a man and woman and it appears to have been taken outside, not in front of a fake backdrop. The couple are leaning against a fallen tree. He has a bowler hat, which was popular in the 1880s. He also is wearing a tie, not a bowtie and the knot in the tie is small. She has a hat with giant feathers. Her bodice is fitted and she appears to be sitting on her bustle. I’m going to place this image sometime between 1880 and 1884, but because the top of her shoulders do not have any puff, I’m not placing it later. I’m not sure why this image was cut into its shape. Was there someone else in the photograph they cut out or did they have some kind of odd shaped frame? I guess we will never know.

    The next interesting image is of a baby. The reason I picked this image is because when you look at old photos don’t take everything at face value. Look closely at the cloth behind the baby – do you see the bottom of a dress? Now look at the top – do you see the shoulders peaking from behind the dark cloth. I am assuming that is the mother standing behind the baby holding it up. Rather innovative.

    Let’s talk a little about the traveling photographer. Once it was discovered that the tintype process was so much easier than the others, the business of the traveling photographer appeared. These people traveled the country, over land and water taking numerous photographs of people and the scenery. Some even traveled the big rivers and even had large houseboats with all the conveniences of a studio. Often they were called Professors. These photographers could reach people who were not able to visit cities where photography studios were available. This brings me to our next group of photos.

    When going through the photographs I started to notice some similarities. Look at these three photographs – notice anyone familiar? Yes, the guy with the mustache and cocky hat is in all three photographs. And, I might add, with different women. Could mean nothing, they could be related – who knows. These three photographs along with a number of others all have the same feel about them. I suspect they were all taken by a traveling photographer, maybe at a fair. Notice in the one photograph our mustache man is seated in a fringe chair. Well, that fringed chair was a widely used chair with a sliding back and could be purchased for $15.00. It was widely used until around the late 1870s when it lost its popularity, however traveling photographers still used it. Those bustles the different women are wearing lead me to think these photos were taken between 1883 and 1885. And, the mystery of who the man with the mustache is will continue on.

    Now on to the last image. And, who said our ancestors didn’t have a sense of humor. I know you’ve seen something similar at fairs and exhibits that are still around today. You stick your head into a hole behind a bad painting of a guy lifting weights, take the photo and everyone has a laugh. Well, I bet there are some interesting things you may not know about this “drop” cloth. There is a patent. Yes, someone took out a patent for the "Photo-caricature backgrounds." That someone was a man by the name of Cassius Coolidge, who also went by the name Kassius Koolidge and signed some of his art works “Kash.” The patent number is 149,724 and it’s a page long. Included with the patent is an illustration which shows just how to go about putting someone's head through a hole. The interesting thing about the patent is that in the sketch is a drawing of some kind of little animal, probably a dog. When Mr. Coolidge presented his patent, he also presented 158 drawings which were to be used and I am guessing that the backdrop in our photo is one of those. There is a patent number of 23 on our photo and a date of April 14, 1874, which is when Mr. Coolidge’s patent was granted. There is also that strange little dog or cat in this image. I have seen several tintypes with comic backgrounds and a number of them have that strange will animal in them. I suspect that the ones which have that particular little animal in them were Coolidge’s design. I am assuming a photographer would have to purchase copies of Coolidge's backdrops. I’m guessing that this photograph was taken between 1875 and 1890. Oh by the way, you may have seen some other famous pieces of art created by Cassius Coolidge – the Dogs Playing Poker series. You just never know what you’re going to find when you look at old photos.

    Sources used:
    Photographs Archival Care and Management by Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler and Fiane Vogt-O’Connor
    The American Tintype by Floyd Rinhart, Marion Rinhart & Robert W. Wagner

    Hairstyles, 1840-1900 by Maureen A. Taylor
    Bonnets and Hats, 1840-1900 by Maureen A. Taylor
    More Dating Old Photographs, 1840-1929 by Maureen A. Taylor
    Godey, Journal des Demoiselles and Revue de La Mode fashion plates
    C.M. Coolidge, Process of Taking Photographic Pictures patent No. 149,724
    George Eastman Museum,


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Digging Into a Daguerreotype

    Thursday, Jul 06, 2017

    by Kay

    I think it’s always a thrill to find objects you’ve only read about – to actually be able to look at them close up. This is what is happening as I continue to explore a wonderful box of donated photographs. In my previous article, I talked about the ambrotypes which were part of the donation. This time I am going to talk about the grand-daddy of photographs, the daguerreotype. Of course there aren’t any identifying marks or accompanying papers which would tell us who the man is in our daguerreotype. The best we can do is to figure out an approximate date of the photograph.

    When trying to date old photographs it is sometimes important to know the history behind that particular method of photography. So, here’s a quick history of the daguerreotype. The daguerreotype is one of the first widely used methods of photography. It is named after the man who perfected it in 1839: Louis-Jacques-Mande’ Daguerre. One of the reasons for its popularity was that upon it being presented to the French government the process was declared “free to the world.” There were of course other people involved in the discovery of the process and a man in England by the name of William Henry Fox Talbot who had invented the calotype process. Talbot prevented his invention from mass production by copyrighting it. In later years his invention would be the prototype for modern film – but that’s another story. Anyway, even though the process for the daguerreotype had been around for a while, most historians and camera buffs point to the date of 1839 as the beginning of daguerreotypes. The daguerreotype retained its popularity from the late 1850s to the early 1860s, when cheaper methods such as the tin-type came along. How do you know when you have a daguerreotype? Simple – they are shiny, very shiny. In fact, a lot of the time you have to do some angling and tilting of the photograph to see the image. A daguerreotype “plate” is made with a highly polished silver-coated copper plate. Sometimes there is an almost 3-D feel about an image created using the daguerreotype process. If you have trouble distinguishing between an ambrotype, tin-type and daguerreotype remember, the daguerreotype is the only one which has a mirror-like quality about it. 

    caseOnce again when we try to establish an image date, we must consider the entire artifact, not just the image itself. Let’s start with the case our image is housed in. Early photography was a busy time. There were tons of accessories which cropped up and most of those accessories had patents, so there are actual dates which can be used as a starting point. I’m going to throw out two dates – 1856 and 1859. Just what about these dates are going to help me arrive at my conclusion? Well, I’ll tell you. In 1856 a patent was approved for hidden metal hinges in photography cases. Then in 1859 a process for molded thermoplastic Union cases was patented. I bet you thought plastic was a modern invention. Wrong. Anyway, the photographic case in our collection does not have the hinges nor is it made out of the thermoplastic. This means our case is older than 1856. Our case was made first by making a wooden box, then gluing really thin embossed leather to it. The leather was probably from a sheep. The hinging mechanism on our case is made by gluing strips of heavier leather to the outside and inside of the case – this hinge piece is called an “inside-outside back”.  While the embossing on our case may appear pretty elaborate, it is nothing compared to later cases. There is also a tiny little hook and eye-like fastening used to shut the case. Sometimes cases had two of these little fastenings.

    When the case is opened, the one side is covered with padded embossed red velvet. Red was the most popular color, but not the only one used.  The use of embossed velvet became popular after 1840. On the other side of the case is the photograph. In our case there is the daguerreotype, then the matte, the cover glass, preserver, and a frame of velvet covered cardboard. All of this, along with some glue, created quite a tight fit. By the way, a preserver is a thin pliable sheet of brass. The early ones were embossed but not as ornate as later ones. The preserver was a standard way of sealing the daguerreotype in the United States from around 1847 on. 

    Even with all of the velvet, embossed brass and leather, our case would be considered simple, which is another reason for placing the date of the case as an early one. Here’s the tricky part – I’m going to date the case between 1848-1855; but does that mean the photograph is from the same time period? Not necessarily. People in the 1800s did the same thing as 21st century people, they switched frames. You have a picture frame you like, you use it for different photographs. However, after closely examining our case and photo, I strongly suspect that this particular photo is in its original case.  The fit is still tight and doesn’t appear to have been disturbed.

    Something else which you may run across, occasionally: photographers embedded their signatures in the embossed covers of the cases, in tricky little spots. Sometimes they would write their names backward and blend it in with the foliage of the design. I pulled out my handy dandy magnifying glass but alas could not find any tricksy photographer signature. Another photographer trick was to place some kind of identification behind the photo. Of course, the only way to see if there is something there is to take the artifact apart – we will not be doing that.

    manMaybe we can find more clues in the photograph of the man. Before I get started on my clues I will say this, while the photograph is a pretty nice image, the contrast between light and dark is limited. It would be nice to have an image in which I could see every minute detail, but alas, ‘twas not to be. Here is what I have. I have a frowny-faced man with fiery, light-colored eyes and longish hair. The fiery eyes was my interpretation of this stern man. In fact, I found him to be really quite fascinating and suspect he might have been quite dynamic. If only we knew who he was. Anyway, let’s look at his hair. He has rather long hair, which was still popular in the 1850s. He also has what appears to be sideburns, but not what I would call mutton-chops (think Chester A. Arthur). Mutton-chops became more popular in the 1860s onward. He may have a light dusting of whiskers, or that might be an imperfection caused by polishing the daguerreotype.  I’m always a little leery of using hairstyles for exact dating; you just never know what someone will do to their hair. Another place to look for clues in photographs is the clothing. Well, in this particular photograph we have a slight problem. As I mentioned before, the black and white contrast in this photograph is a little off. Because of that I cannot make out the details of his coat. I cannot tell what the buttons look like or what kind of lapels his jacket has. The only thing I have to work with is his shirt, collar, and cravat (tie).  I will focus on the collar and cravat. The collar is a stand up collar with a wide gap, which was popular in the late 1840s. The cravat appears to be a wrap-around and tied in the front, but not as intricate as the cravats of the early 1800s.  In the later 1850s, the collars begin to be turned down – at least Prince Albert’s were turned down.  I can also discern that he is holding a book in his hands, however I haven’t a clue as to what kind of book it is or whether it means anything or maybe it’s just a photographer’s prop.

    After putting all my clues together, the fact that this is a daguerreotype (after 1839), the early leather case combined with the high collar and cravat which he is wearing indicates to me this photograph was probably taken sometime between 1848 and 1855. Not very exact, but that’s about as close as I can come. One more thing - I learned an awful lot about early photographic cases.

    Sources used: (Smithsonian) (Victoria and Albert Museum)

    Floyd and Marion Rinhart. American Miniature Case Art, published 1969
    Diane VanSkiver Gagel. Windows on the Past, published 2000
    William E. Leyshon. Photographs from the 19th Century, 2001
    Bates and Isabel Barrett Lowry. The Silver Canvas, Daguerreotype Masterpieces from the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1998
    Paul K. Berg. Nineteenth Century Photographic Cases and Wall Frames, 2003

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Researching Crispin Fuller

    Thursday, Jun 22, 2017

    by John

    Not all work with genealogical records is confined strictly to the pursuit of one’s own family history. Sometimes records that fall under the heading of “genealogical” are also of interest to the antique collector and dealer. My wife is a Certified Estate Specialist and works as an agent for selling personal property through estate sales. She recently offered for sale an exquisite Regency sterling silver tea service, and from hallmarks on the silver she was able to determine that it was made in London in 1814 by Crispin Fuller. Who was Crispin Fuller, she asked me. The answer, at least at first, was not altogether clear cut.
    My wife did a preliminary search using Google, as any researcher would. There, online, were numerous references to Fuller’s work being sold at auctions, being offered for sale, mostly in English galleries, and listings of a few pieces on display in museums for its fine quality. However, very little appeared about Crispin Fuller the man or the artist, despite the acclaim he seems to enjoy among silver collectors. (Many of his pieces sell for more than $4,000). Books did not prove especially helpful. Montague Howard’s 1903 work, Old London Silver, available digitally, contained only a passing reference to Fuller with a depiction of his hallmark.

    Fortunately, the wealth of online genealogical sources more than compensates for the lack of biographical information about Crispin Fuller in print. Searching Find My Past, we find Crispin’s birth and baptism on 4 December and 27 December 1755 at St. John the Evangelist Church, Westminster, London, the son of Richard and Sarah Fuller.
    From Ancestry, we discover that he married at St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn, on 5 October 1781, Sarah Clarke.
    He was buried at St. Luke’s Church, Finsbury, on 19 October 1824, aged 69, and at least three children, Richard, Peter, and Esther, were baptized there between 1787 and 1792, with a likely third son, Jeremiah, born in 1798 at an unknown location.

    Where and how was Crispin apprenticed, and how did he become a master silversmith? These questions are less easily answered. Crispin appears as a master goldsmith at Windsor Court, London, in 1803 when he agreed to take James Shallis as an apprentice (“U.K., Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures, 1710-1811, However, Crispin does not himself appear as an apprentice. English taxpayers show Crispin paying taxes variously at Cripplegate Without, Dowgate, and Farringdon Within, all in London, between 1798 and 1824 (“London, England, Land Tax Records,” 1692-1932,” Pigot’s London Directories show him at 3 Windsor-court, Monkwell Street, between 1822 and 1825.

    The above is only a fraction of what can be found in English records, doing only a preliminary search on a silversmith with an unusual name. More digging in English archival records would likely yield more clues. These records have value to more than just the genealogist. They enhance our understanding of history and art.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • My Adventures with Ambrotypes

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017

    By Kay

    I have been going through some old photographs which are part of a donation. What treasures I've found! I am going to talk about three of those treasures in this article. At first I didn't notice anything different about these photographs and the tintypes surrounding them. Then I picked one of them up and looked at it closely. It was an ambrotype! I was very excited! I became even more excited when I spotted two more. Not only was I looking at three ambrotypes, they were all in pretty good shape. “Wait a minute! Wait a minute!” you shout. “What’s an ambrotype?” Glad you asked. Without going into copious amounts of detail, here are the basics. An ambrotype is a wet collodion negative on glass. Different photographers used different techniques when creating these. Remember the days before digital cameras? There used to be things called negatives. We used to take those negatives to photo shops and those photo shops would develop those negatives, put them on paper and give them back to us.  Well, that’s not an ambrotype. However, think of that negative if it was on a piece of treated glass. Ambrotypes were not transferred to paper; inventors hadn’t quite reached that plateau. What usually happened was that a dark lacquer/varnish was but on the back. This allowed the negative-looking image to appear as a positive. Most ambrotypes are reversed laterally; which means they are like your reflection in the mirror - reversed. But not all. Sometimes the ambrotype was painted on the other side. Some were varnished on the face and some were sandwiched between glasses. When looking at an ambrotype you need to examine carefully to see which side has the emulsion. Ambrotypes became pretty popular for a short time. They were a cheaper than a daguerreotype, but as you might guess, they were extremely fragile.

    On to my three ambrotypes and my attempt to establish a time period for them. But before I continue my adventure, a word of warning. Treat an ambrotype as an artifact – all of it. This artifact includes not only the glass image, but the mat, preserver (foil strip), and the case it is in. A careful examination should be done. Measurements, description and the condition it’s in should all be compiled. In this case all the images were scanned, front and back, then put away - more on that later. All further examination of these three images was done by using my TIFF scans, not the fragile artifacts.

    Problems right away. There wasn’t anything on any of my ambrotypes which indicated who these people were. I could not find any photographer information. There was nothing, except the ambrotypes. So I have named them Unidentified Teenage Girl, Unidentified Young Girl, Unidentified Young Boy.  I know, I know, I’m going out on a limb.
    I immediately jumped to the conclusion that these people were related. I don’t know why I did because the only provable connection between them was that the ambrotypes were in the same box together. But when I did some comparison of the three, I did find some slight connections.  The mat on two of them is the same and very similar to the mat on the Unidentified Teenage Girl. The foil strips are all slightly different. I also noticed the chair in each one. I believe that is the same chair in each one of the photographs, even though it is shot at different angles. So, what does that mean? What that means to me is that these three young people were maybe related, knew each other or used the same photographer. I will be honest, when I look at their faces I don't see any resemblance between them. My guess is that they are probably related, but I cannot prove it.

    The adventure continues – trying to establish a date. Remember when trying to date photographs, everything has to be taken into consideration.

    I started with the history of the ambrotype technique. In 1850, Frederick Scott Archer introduced the wet plate collodion process. He did not take out a patent on it. Then in 1854 James Ambrose Cutting submitted the first official patent. Needless to say there were numerous photographers who were a tad bit upset with Mr. Cutting; seeing as how he didn’t actually “invent” the process. In the United States, the ambrotype lasted from about 1850 to 1870; it lasted longer in Europe. Could these images be from 1850 or 1854? Let's do a little deeper searching. Oh boy – more adventure!

    While scanning the images, I noticed the backs didn’t look as if they were lacquered. So, I did an experiment. I happen to have access to a flatbed scanner which can scan slides and negatives. I scanned the back using the negative setting. I was very pleased with the results, and, on top of a nice negative, another path opened for me. All three of the images had a lovely "ruby" color to them. More digging. I found a really big article on glass (which gave me a headache), but in that article I found that beginning around 1858 some photographers started to use colored glass for their ambrotypes, the most prevalent being “ruby-colored.” My ambrotypes are definitely "ruby-colored" glass. You see what just happened? I have another date to work with. 1858.

    But the ambrotypes holds more clues. These particular ambrotypes were not in a case, but the mat and strip of foil were still intact. Guess what – even this part of ambrotypes have a history. Early ambrotypes had pretty plain mats and foil strips. The foil strips of the early ambrotypes did not have reinforced corners. Around 1859, the designs became more intricate and the corners reinforced. All of my images have pretty elaborate designs on both the mat and foil strip. So, let's move the date up to 1859. Now, let's look at the people in the photographs.

    Dating photographs based on what a person is wearing is always tricky. There are so many variables involved. Are the people in the photo able to keep up with the latest fashion? Are they wearing hand-me-downs? Are they expressing themselves by going rogue? This is why exact dating of an object isn’t always possible, unless there’s a date written across it. Even with a date on it, one should tread cautiously. That is why the whole artifact has to be taken into consideration when trying to put a date on it. Let’s look at our individuals. (INSERT sick girl arrows, boy arrows)

    Both of the girls are wearing off-the-shoulder dresses. This trend lasted on and off throughout history; it was in use between 1840s-1870s. In all probability, these dresses had drawstrings in the back which allowed for easier dressing - especially with the youngest girl. They are both wearing bell-like sleeves and the eldest girl has a fitted bodice. Looking through Godey’s, I found similar clothing dating from 1858-1864. The girls have their hair parted down the middle, but neither have sausage curls. Also, the youngest one’s hair is short. This could indicate any number of things. She may have been a feminist, or maybe she supported the Confederate cause. But, I think she was probably ill. Women cut their hair when they became ill. The hair was easier to take care of and it was believed that cutting it helped reduce a fever. If you look closely at the younger girl it appears that she may have lost some weight. Her arms look almost skeletal and the dress she is wearing appears to be too big for her. If you look closer at the bodice of her dress, it is tapered. Now to the young boy – yes, that boy has a dress on. It was normal for young boys to wear dresses until they were either 4 or 5 years old. How do I know this is a boy and not a girl? A couple of things. Buttons. Around the 1860s boys wore little jackets with buttons on the front. Notice that there are also buttons running along the bottom of the jacket. These buttons were attached to the skirt. Parting of the hair. The other hint which leads me to think this is a boy is that his hair is parted on the side. Usually, girls parted their hair down the middle while boys wore their hair parted on the side.  All the skirts in the photographs appear to be full. All three of them are dressed in some kind of plaid, gingham or checkered material. Plaids were in vogue after Prince Albert and Queen Victoria went mad for all things Scottish around 1856. 1856 also saw the introduction of the "Buffalo check" shirt from Woolrich (which is red and black). Plaids and checks were in vogue.

    These images may have been taken together or separately or there may be no connection at all. I fancy that the Unidentified Teenage Girl may have been taken on a separate occasion, then the other two followed. Why? Just because her mat is a little bit different than the other two. My guess for a time period for all three images (it truly is a guess) would be between 1859 and 1863.

    Storing ambrotypes. Ambrotypes are very fragile. When you store them they should be separated from all the other photographs you have. There are heavy-duty archival paper boards called four-flap paper which can be used, but the ambrotype must not be able to move inside that paper. What I have done here is what we do for glass negatives. I cut heavy-duty archival card stock the same size as the photos and tied them with archival linen string. The knot of the string is on the bottom edge, not the middle of the photos. I also wrote all the pertinent information about the ambrotype on an archival paper sleeve and placed the wrapped images inside the sleeves. They were then put in a box and are being stored in a room where the temperature does not fluctuate. At no time should bubble-wrap touch these. Bubble-wrap is for entertainment, not ambrotypes.
    Wrapped Ambrotype

    Cleaning. While I was studying my scanned images, I did a lot of zooming in and out. There are two pieces of glass, one with the image on it and one covering the image. On close inspection one can see a lot of what appears to be particles of "stuff." This "stuff" could be anything - gold-leaf, dust, white crystals caused by bad storage. The only way to remove that stuff from the ambrotype itself is to take it apart. We will not be doing that. Why? Because we are not qualified. If one really wants to clean any kind of old photograph, they should contact a conservator/archivist. Do not take any of these treasures to your local Walgreens.

    And, that was my adventure with ambrotypes – who knows what else is in those mysterious treasure boxes.
    I have enclosed a list of conservators who may be able to help or give advice:
    Indiana Historical Society
    450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46202 • (317) 232-1882
    Ramona Duncan-Huse is senior director of Conservation
    Stephanie Gowler, Conservator, Book & Photograph 

    Northeast Document Conservation Center
    100 Brickstone Square
    Andover, MA 01810
    Phone: 978-470-1010
    Fax: 978-475-6021

    ICA Art Conservation
    2915 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44113
    p 216.658.8700

    Sources I used for my adventure:
    Maureen Taylor
    Library of Congress
    Godey’s fashion plates
    Photographs, Archival Care and Management by Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler and Diane Vogt-O’Connor

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center