Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Don't Be Left Out of the Butler County History Book!

You have ONE month left to compose your piece of history to be published in the "Butler County, Missouri Family History Book, Vol. III".  March 31st is the last day for submissions!

The Butler County Genealogy Society is sponsoring, compiling, and publishing a new book, "Butler County, Missouri Family History Book, Vol. III".  This book will include the history of Butler County including family histories, communities, churches, schools, businesses, farms, memorials, tributes, clubs, organizations, and much more.

Flyers are available in the Genealogy Reference area.  Information is provided on how to submit an entry and ordering information to purchase the book in advance.  A limited number of copies will be printed, determined in part by prepublication orders.  Submissions MUST be received by March 31, 2012.

Additional information and questions may be submitted to committee chairman Brenda Sheridan at

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Time travel with the PB Jr. High School

Ever wonder what Poplar Bluff looked like when your family members came to town? What did they see walking down the street?  For some, it's just a stroll down memory lane.  Take a trip to yesteryear with the help of the Poplar Bluff Junior High school's website!

You will find photos and postcards of schools, churches, businesses, railroad and river scenes and many other subjects, as well as photos of the devastating damage from the tornado in 1927.  If you have something to share, you can even submit your own.

This is a great way to put your family's life into perspective with images from the late 1800's and going through the 1950's.  It's the next best thing we have in lieu of time travel, allowing us to see how they lived "back then".

Monday, February 27, 2012

Read Across America Day - March 2nd

It's not too late, there's still time to pledge to read on March 2nd!

Poplar Bluff will join millions of readers across the country to celebrate the 12th annual Read Across America Day on March 2nd, which falls on Dr. Seuss's 108th birthday.  To honor the good doctor and celebrate the fun and value of reading, the Poplar Bluff Public Library is asking you to join bringing a nation of readers together under one red and white stovepipe hat made famous by Dr. Seuss.  -- (From the library website.)
Pledging to read is NOT a commitment to read AT the library (though you certainly may), it is just a commitment to read ON March 2nd.  And best of all: it's FREE!  Just come in and checkout a book to take home or sit and enjoy a magazine in one of the big, comfy chairs. 

Of course, shelves of Genealogy Reference books are just waiting to be used in your family research!  (Read Across America - Genealogy Style!!)

You may signup for Read Across America Day online through the library's website.

Happy reading!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

1940 Census Official Homepage

The National Archives has launched the official homepage for the upcoming release of the 1940 Census. Currently the page only lists the release date (April 2, 9 AM Eastern), a link to the main National Archives website, and a short informational video.  The video contains vintage footage and interviews with Archives staff describing how they have been preparing for the release.  Follow this link and bookmark it so you'll be ready:

The countdown continues!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Library subscription databases - HeritageQuest

Why spend money on expensive genealogy databases when the library already provides access?  Two of the most heavily used databases we subscribe to are HeritageQuest and  Each have their own strengths and weaknesses but together, they provide quality resources for any genealogist.  (I'm leaving the primary discussion of for a future posting.)

One of the greatest features of using HeritageQuest (yes, it really is one word) is its availability to patrons for home use, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  It's available whenever you are.  While away the night performing searches if you can't sleep or maybe you're stuck inside during inclement weather, it's available for you to use!  It must be accessed through our website with your library card number. (Don't have a library card? Find out how to get one here.)  Links to access HeritageQuest are available on the databases webpage and the genealogy webpage.  Once logged in, you have access to:
  • Census records - images are available of all published censuses but not all are searchable. 1830, 1840, and 1850 censuses and the majority of the 1930 census are NOT indexed for searching but are available for browsing.
  • Revolutionary War pension records - title says it all!
  • Freedman's Bank - this was set up after the Civil War for African-Americans.
  • Book Search - keyword searchable.  Most are items no longer under copyright and are now in the public domain.
  • PERSI - (PERiodical Search Index) - Index of articles available from many sources.  The Butler County Genealogical Society's publication, Area Footprints, is indexed here!!
  • U.S. Serial Set - The United States Congressional Serial Set, commonly referred to as the Serial Set, began publication with the 15th Congress, 1st Session (1817). Includes Private Relief Actions, Memorials, and Petitions. The collection also includes content from the American State Papers, the predecessor to the Serial Set. The documents in the collection are from the years 1789-1969. (Okay, I had to do some research on that one!!)
Depending on your point of view, the following can be a weakness or a strength: These databases are tightly focused, eliminating hundreds of extraneous "hits" you might find when using which is more all-encompassing, so you lose the possibility of that lucky hit that shatters the brickwall you keep running into but aren't overwhelmed with results.

To me, the largest weakness of HeritageQuest is the lack of indexing availabe for four of the censuses, especially the 1850 (the first every-name census) and the 1930 census (the most recent release to date, but not for long!).  This is where clearly comes out ahead.
Another area that I feel conflicted about in using HeritageQuest for census research is its "exact" search only feature.  It will only search for exactly what you put into the search box.  If you mistype something, if there are possibly alternate spellings, or if the transcriber made a mistake due to poor image quality, you may come up empty handed. can be configured to do exact searches only or "fuzzy" searches, therefore giving you alternate leads. But if you're convinced someone is located in a specific state and/or county, HeritageQuest is great for given-name searches. 

For example, you can search all the residents of Butler County Missouri in the 1870 Census with the name "George". There are 11,421 in Missouri but only 36 in Butler County.  It's a great alternative for searching misspelled surnames. Searching for "George" in our example reveals how this can help.  There are two George's with similar surnames, PEDIGO and PETIGO.  They may or may not be related but searching with only an exact search would have eliminated one (or both if you consider neither spelling correct).
If you have any questions or problems accessing HeritageQuest, please give us a call at 573-686-8639 or stop in to see us and we'll help you get connected to those relatives of long ago.

Friday, February 17, 2012

REMINDER: Butler County Genealogy Society to meet

Just a quick reminder the next Butler County Genealogy Society meeting will be held Thursday, February 23, 2012, at 2 PM in the (Snider) Activity Room at the Twin Towers. 

TOPIC:  Preparing for the release of the 1940 Census on April 2nd.

See you there!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Local FHC has new director!

The Poplar Bluff Family History Center has a new director and frequent patrons of the library already know her.  It's our very own Circulation Librarian, Erin Rigby.  Once she's settled in, I'll pass along contact information, hours of operation, and collection information.  (Maybe she could even write a guest blog on here with all that information!)

So what exactly is a Family History Center? 
Family History Centers are branch facilities of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Centers provide access to most of the microfilms and microfiche in the Family History Library to help patrons identify their ancestors.

If you're interested in borrowing microfilm or microfiche, the following information was just released yesterday by the Family History Library regarding prices for borrowing:
Due to the increase in the price of raw microfilm stock and the decreasing availability of this product on the market, it has become necessary for FamilySearch to increase the price of film loans in family history centers. As of 15 February 2012 the following prices will be in effect for film loans in the United States and Canada:           
  • Short-term Film Loan - $7.50
  • Short-term Film Loan Extension - $7.50
  • Extended Film Loan - $18.75
  • Microfiche Loan - $4.75
Additional information borrowing can be found at:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

American Memory Project

The Library of Congress has a fascinating online project documenting American History.  As the largest library in the world, it's an iconic American treasure.

The American Memory Project is described on their website as:
American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning.
Just visiting the homepage of the Library of Congress is a wonderful experience in itself.  Their content is constantly updated to include information for historical events that have taken place on that date, places currently in the news, and highlights of various collections.  They include webcasts and podcasts and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

There are sections for specifically designed for Kids and Families, Researchers, Librarians, and Publishers.  Something of interest can be found for almost anyone.  It's easy to get lost browsing the virtual "aisles and shelves" without even leaving home! The Internet has truly made it America's Library!

Discover and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fitch-Hillis Funeral Home - A Local Undertaking (Resource!)

Having a family burial plot is not only convenient for a family suffering the loss of a loved one but a wish come true for a genealogist that comes along a couple generations later.  Previously undocumented relatives are just waiting to be discovered in their final resting place near those great-great grandparents you discovered on your last trip to the library.

But wait......who was the cheapskate that placed a headstone with just a first initial, the surname, and only an engraving of "Died 1908"?  That's certainly not much help, especially since Missouri didn't begin recording deaths until 1910.  And since there isn't a full date, you can't look for an obituary unless you just have a few months of spare time to pass scanning frame after frame of microfilm.  If it's a child born after 1900, they won't even appear on a census record anywhere.  Now what do you do??

Well, one option is to check the funeral registry index of Fitch-Hillis Funeral Home online.  This is just an index to the records with information for getting copies available on the main index page. Their records date back to 1906, four years BEFORE Missouri required death certificates and currently spans their first century of business, ending in 2006 (so far).  If this potential long-lost "cousin" had a funeral and it was handled by Fitch-Hillis, there's a record of it.  Information varies from record to record but usually you can find a date of death (which sends you off to look for an obituary!!), possibly a cause of death, and the costs incurred to hold the funeral. The costs might include a cost for a pine box, carriage rental for travel to the cemetery, and clothing purchased for the deceased.  I've seen records with a total cost of $15! 

The big payoff with this record is who was billed for the expenses? Maybe a relationship is stated.  And how did they pay? All at once or on an installment plan?  This might just provide the missing link to that stray relative you previously knew nothing about and adds a little more to the family narrative you're writing and will publish someone day!!  It's more than just names, dates, and places.  Details help bring them to life, even in death.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Royal Celebration - Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee

Today marks the 60th anniversary of Princess Elizabeth acceding to the throne as Queen Elizabeth II.  (Her coronation wasn't until June 2, 1953.)  Only one other British Monarch has achieved this milestone, Queen Victoria in 1897, ended up reigning for over 63 years.  Few families are as well documented as those of Royal heritage.  You can learn more about the history and festivities by visiting the official website of The British Monarchy.

If your personal family research finds you going international, congratulations!  Not everyone finds a link back to "the old country", wherever that might be.  But for those that do, a whole new world of genealogical research opens up to you.  Land records and tax lists held by governments, passenger lists for trans-Atlantic ports of departure, and birth, baptismal, and death records held by churches built before the United States was established (or even colonized!) become your sources of family history.

Whether you're waiting to find that family connection to a knight in shining armour or a Lady-in-Waiting, we have resources to help you in the meantime.  Books of transcribed records, online access to published histories now in the public domain (Hint: downloadable to your e-reader!), and the library's subscription to are all waiting for you to use on your next visit.

God Save The Queen!  ;)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

New Item Added - Phelps County, Missouri

A donated copy of "Portrait of Phelps County, Missouri" was recently added to the Missouri Shelf in the Genealogy Reference area.  This photo-filled book provides a glimpse at the past in Phelps County, Missouri, including the areas of Rolla, St. James, and Newburg. 

This book's call number is: G-R 929.3778 PHELPS and is located on the "island" shelving unit.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Missouri Death Certificates Now Available Through 1961 Online!

To the non-genealogist, the idea of using death certificates in research may seem morbid.  This (usually) is the last record created documenting the life of a relative, aside from an obituary and possibly probate records.

But these single sheets of paper can be a treasure trove of information.  The majority contain the date, place and cause of death, along with date and location of birth.  If the "informant" providing the information was close to the deceased, parents names (including the ever-elusive mother's maiden name!!), spouse's name, address of usual residence, occupation, and social security number.  Other information included is the funeral home taking care of the arrangements with the date and place of funeral and burial.

"The Missouri Death Certificate Database, containing death records created after 1910 and over 50 years old, makes that information available online through a searchable index that links to a digitized image of the original death certificate. The index can be searched by first name and last name, county, and by year and month.  Once a name is selected, a digitized image of the original certificate can be retrieved." (Source: Missouri State Archives website).  Once retrieved, the image may be printed and/or saved to your own computer in PDF format.  The best part? It's FREE!!  To begin your search, go to: Missouri Death Certificates Database.

If you have questions or comments about these records, please contact the Missouri State Archives at  For death certificates less than 50 years old, contact the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services through their website here. 

Happy hunting and good luck with your research!!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Be a part of history with the Family History Book, Volume 3!!

The Butler County Genealogy Society is sponsoring, compiling, and publishing a new book, "Butler County, Missouri Family History Book, Vol. III".  This book will include the history of Butler County including family histories, communities, churches, schools, businesses, farms, memorials, tributes, clubs, organizations, and much more.

Flyers are available in the Genealogy Reference area.  Information is provided on how to submit an entry and ordering information to purchase the book in advance.  A limited number of copies will be printed, determined in part by prepublication orders.  Submissions MUST be received by March 31, 2012.

Additional information and questions may be submitted to committee chairman Brenda Sheridan at