Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgivings Past

How Americans celebrate Thanksgiving has changed A LOT over the years. From the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth, Massachusetts with the Pilgrims sitting down to eat with the Wampanoag to today's parade watching, football cheering, food orgy, and Christmas shopping kick-off.

How Medina has celebrated Thanksgiving has also changed over the years as these following newspaper clippings from The Medina Gazette illustrate:

From 1870, a very low key celebration:

Charity was still alive and well in 1937:

 This article was right next to one that listed at whose homes different Medina residents were eating their turkeys.

As was feasting....

Check out those prices!!

By 1955, all types of businesses had started to find ways to cash in on the holiday...
And anticipate the Christmas shopping season:

However you chose to celebrate, HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and yours!!

Monday, November 24, 2014


Here at the library, we notice a lull in genealogy researching from mid-November through the New Year as the genealogists are just as busy with the holidays as anyone else. And then there will be a rush mid-January, because of new leads to follow up on from conversations around the dinner table discussing family stories. We all know that the conversations will take place, but how many of us are prepared??  Prepared?? What do I mean by that??

The conversations around the dinner table or during football half-times are really informal genealogy interviews. And we should prepare for them as such. Create a quick genealogy kit that includes pencils/pens, notebook, blank ancestry & family group sheets, paper clips, your camera or smartphone and a list of questions that you want answered. And to get the ball rolling, think about bringing some old family photos to jog people’s memories.

So this holiday season, when you are packing up the pies, hams and turkeys, also remember to pack your quick genealogy kit. Then you will ready when great Uncle Bob starts regaling everyone with stories from his time in Korea.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ancestry's Commercials

Have you noticed that has changed their advertisement?? Remember how their commercial used to say "You don't have to know what you're looking for. You just have to look."? Well, that just enraged many, many professional genealogists & librarians. YES! You do have to know what you're looking for or you will end up with a very fractured, inaccurate family history! So many us of groaned and moaned for several years. I don't know if Ancestry heard our complaints or it was just time for a new commercial, but their ads have changed.

Now they proclaim that their leaf, that shows up to lead to possible new links, is "called a hint." This is much better! See the link:!client/ancestry-com

But if you have ever been to Gettysburg, you know that this re-enactment in their commercial is inaccurate on many levels. First of all, the ad shows a relatively flat landscape and Gettysburg has rolling hills. The place was packed the day of Lincoln's speech. And there are no concretely proved pictures of Lincoln giving his address.

There is one very blurry photo that pictures a very tall man surrounded by throngs of people, most of whom are other men. Lincoln is suppossed to be the bare headed man in the middle. And it could be. But the picture is so blurry that it could be any tall man. To me, that man's face is fuller than any other depiction I have ever seen of Lincoln. This picture is at the Smithsonian and is attributed to Photograph: Mathew B Brady/Bettmann/Corbis

Also, the scenario with the photographer is bogus. I haven't researched it myself, but others have:

After all this complaining it is only fair to state that I do not hate Ancestry.  It is one of my favorite genealogy databases and I use the Library Edition nearly every day at work and for my personal research.

Some people may see the criticisms as harsh and too bogged down in details. But genealogy research is all about the details. And if you are the #1 genealogy company in the world you better get them right!

Saturday, November 15, 2014


The Medina Library is very fortunate to have a large collection of Medina High School Yearbooks. The earliest dates to 1913. We thank the many, many people who donate them to the library! One member (you know who you are, Anne!) calls me whenever she sees Medina yearbooks at any of the antique shops. Thank you also!

A few years are missing from our collection. So if you frequent antique shops or flea markets, keep an eye out for these years: 1934, 1959, 1966, 1976, 1994, 1999.  

Think about this for a minute...

Tracking down the yearbook for your great grandparents. First, there will be a picture. Probably a photo that you have never seen before. You will discover what school activities they were involved in. Was your grandfather the class president or the class clown??  Was grandma in the dramatic club or the Honor Society? You will see their fellow students. Did any of them play a role in your grandparents lives after school? You just don't know what you will discover!

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Are you a huge fan of the Finding Your Roots television show like I am?  Do you try to NEVER miss an episode? That would be me!

But I work every Tuesday night, and so I never see the episodes as they are aired. Luckily for me, and anyone else who has a standing Tuesday night commitment, PBS, who hosts the show, makes the episodes available on their website,

I am watching the current episode that aired just last night on my iPad during my breaks. And I can catch up on the ones I missed while I was on vacation. Don't you just LOVE PBS??

Monday, November 10, 2014


But not tomorrow! Tomorrow is November 11th and all of the Medina County District Libraries are closed for Staff Development Day. Once every two years the library dedicates one day to training their staff on new library developments and technology. We see fellow staff members that we never get to see and we network about system-wide issues. It is a very rewarding day!

But every other Tuesday for the past year, either Lisa Rienerth or I, has staffed the Franklin Sylvester Room from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.. We answer members genealogy questions, great and small. From "My father's cousin's grandson is what relation to me?", to "Help me find my immigrant grandfather who stowed away on a boat."  Last week I worked on a version of the later question and it was a fascinating journey for both of us. The great grandfather was Greek and we did find his home town and date of naturalization. And we were thrilled!

These sessions are challenging and gratifying. For the newbies, we get an opportunity to start them on the path to a incredible journey of discovery. For the seasoned researcher, we offer a fresh set of eyes and a different perspective on their problem. For the member with a brick wall, we often refer them to resources and archives they did not know about.

But, PLEASE, don't arrive at a quarter til 4 and expect us to do miracle work for you! We're good, but we are not miracle workers!!

Friday, November 7, 2014

In Honor of Veterans' Day

In honor of Veterans Day, the Medina County Veterans Service Center is displaying military items in the cabinets outside of the Franklin Sylvester Room. These items date from World War II. It is a wonderful display and highlights many of the services the center offers to our local veterans.  Remember to thank a veteran for serving our country.

Wonder why the cigarettes???  They were included in the C Rations handed out to soldiers and sailors. Common perception at the time was that smoking cigarettes was calming in times of stress. More information can be found here:  My father, who joined the US. Navy near the end of the war always smoked Lucky Strikes. I wonder if this is the reason why. Luckily, this practice was discontinued in 1972.

The Sep/Oct 2014 issue of Family Chronicle Magazine talks about how sending cigarettes overseas to the soldiers was considered a vital part of the war effort during World War II.

I am so glad that the practice of handing cigarettes to service members was discontinued before four of my siblings and I served in the military!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Jean Cooper Post Card Collection

Jean Cooper, a long time library volunteer, donated her collection of Medina Post Cards to the local history collection. Focusing strongly on post cards of Medina City Schools, the collection also depicts local landmarks and industries. Originally kept in a 3-ring binder, the collection will eventually be digitized. For now it is on display in the cabinets inside the Franklin Sylvester Room. Take a look! How many of the buildings do you recognize?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

You might be a genealogist if...

How many of you are fans of Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck if…” comedy routine? Okay, I am probably revealing my own ancestral background. LOL! But how about adapting it for genealogy? As you might imagine, I am not the first one to think of this.  But here is my list:

You might be a genealogist if...

·           Your children fling their arms out the car window yelling “Cemetery!” every time you pass one.
·        You have a room in your house dedicated to family history files. 
    You troll Amazon listings looking for the latest genealogy books.
·        You have a poster-sized family tree chart hanging on your wall.
·        Your vacations are planned around family research trips.
·        You have had your DNA tested.
·        You have stayed up half the night looking for "just one more record!"
·        You know the two letter abbreviation for every US state.
·        You know every county in your state.
·        You know how to use 6 different types of microfilm machines.
·        You have already written your own obituary. And the obituaries of all your closest family members.
·        You know which channels, nights and times Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots  are on.
·        You cry at the end of every episode of Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots .
·        You know that genealogy is an addiction. And you don’t care!
And finally…

 Feel free to add your own!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New microfilm machines at the Medina Library


The new STImaging microfilm machines at the Medina Library

In October the Medina Library purchased two new microfilm machines. 
The library staff are still learning many of the new features but we would be thrilled to show you how to use them. The new machines use a large format screen and computer to manipulate the images. It is the software that comes with the package that does all the magic. 

Besides being able to view, print and save images, you can send the image to your drop box, Google Drive or Family Search. And the options for editing the image are incredible.

Call the library at 330-722-4257 to set up a one-on-one session to learn how to use the NEW STImaging microfilm machines!