Wednesday, March 28, 2012

History Book - Last Chance For Help

This Saturday, March 31, is your last chance to receive help from members of the Butler County Genealogical Society for those writing an entry for the new Butler County History Book.  They will be in the Kay Keeney Genealogy/Reference area of the library 1-3 PM.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The final countdown begins

The decades, years, and months have dwindled to weeks, the weeks are now down to days, and we're approaching it being only "hours away".   One more week!!  That's all that remains until the public unveiling of one of most sought after sources in genealogy, the 1940 US Census.

BUT, we still have to wait.  Albeit, only a short wait.  Until then, here are a few facts from 1940 to keep you going.

Life in 1940
These facts and more are available online at: the 1940 Census page.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New item added thanks to the Genealogy Society

The library is now the proud owner of the two volume set Historical register and dictionary of the United States Army, from its organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903 by Francis B. Heitman.

Thank you to the Butler County Genealogy Society for their generous gift in memory of Bernard H. Bremmerman, Mary Tuggle, and Letha Freer that made this possible.

This body of work is nearly 1700 pages of information.  The publisher describes it as:
"......a complete list of commissioned officers of the U.S. from the organization of the Army, September 29, 1789, to the year of the list's original publication in 1903, giving the officers' full names and showing their services as cadets and all services as officers or enlisted men, either in the regular or volunteer service. The heart of the work, Part II, an alphabetical listing of the officers, runs to some 60,000 entries. Each entry contains a brief paragraph on the officer giving his state or country where born, state from which originally appointed, date of induction, rank, date of discharge, promotions, medals, battles participated in, and, in about a fifth of the entries, date of death after leaving the Army."
 Stop by the library and take a look at this great new resource!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Are your relatives great, grand, or just need removed?

We're familiar with family terms such as cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.  But at that last family reunion did you get a headache trying to determine what the proper term for one of those more distant relatives?  Or did someone refer to another relation as a "second cousin, once removed" and all you wanted to do was remove yourself from the conversation of genealogical gibberish?  Surprise!! There are charts to help make sense of it all.  They're called Consanguinity Charts.  Besides being an excellent candidate for "Word of the Day," consanguinity is defined as a relationship by descent from a common ancestor. (See the definition, phonetic spelling, and hear it pronounced by following this link to an online dictionary.)

One common misconception about relationships I hear quite often is referring to the siblings of grandparents as a "Great Aunt or Great Uncle."  This is not a true relationship. Think of it this way, your parent's siblings are your aunts and uncles.  Your parent's parents are known as your grandparents.  Guess what?  The siblings of your grandparents are labeled grand-aunts and grand-uncles.  The addition of "great" throws you back yet another generation, the generation of your GREAT grandparents and their siblings become your GREAT grand-aunt or -uncle.  Go back another generation and you'll add yet another "great" to those relatives.

This order works for descendants as well.  Children of your siblings are nieces and nephews.  Their children are your grand-nieces and grand-nephews and in the next generation, their children are your GREAT grand-nieces and GREAT grand-nephews.

Now, for those "removed" relatives.  Cousins, second cousins, third cousins, etc., are all belong to the same generation.  That is, they share the same distance back to a common ancestor.  Someone is considered "removed" when they belong to different generations.  Each generation creates another "removed".  For example, a cousin twice removed is separated by two generations but third cousin once removed is one generation different.  Another way to look at this is to think of your grandmother's cousin.  Okay, easy enough. Your relationship to her cousin is that of a first cousin, twice removed because there is a difference of two generations.

Is your head spinning yet?  Need a visual aide to make sense of all that?  Try this great, easy to use consanguinity chart on the Chickasaw County Iowa's website.  My best advice is to use a chart and plot out your relationships until you become comfortable enough to do it off the top of your head.  Just like learning math, you start out using your fingers to count before you can do it in your head as you get older and more comfortable with it.  Genealogy programs, such as Family Tree Maker, will let you choose two individuals and it will calculate the degree of relationship for you.  (That's the easy way out!)

You'll get there, just practice, practice, practice!  Then you can impress those cousins at the next family reunion!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Social Security Death Index - MIA?

A tragedy has struck, bringing sad times to genealogists everywhere.  The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has been removed from the site.  In its place is the following explanation:
"Due to sensitivities around the information in this database, the Social Security Death Index collection is not available on our free Rootsweb service but is accessible to search on Visit the Social Security Death Index page to be directly connected to this collection."
While you can search the SSDI for free through, truly useful results are not free.  You either need to subscribe or visit the library to use our subscription.  AND the information isn't completely available for those deceased in the last 10 years now. (I feel they are misleading the public and implying that it's the same information still available at no cost.)  RootsWeb was created as a companion website to Ancestry to provide a place for FREE information to be posted and retrieved by the genealogy community.

Why has this change happened?  Press releases (found here and here) are saying it's to prevent identity theft and fraud.  There's something wrong with this picture because that's the very reason it was created to begin with!  It was created for banks, employers, etc, to check for fraudulent use of Social Security numbers and its publication and updating was mandated.  Congress is now getting involved.  A bill has been introduced to completely prevent public access to the Death Master File from which the SSDI is derived.  The bill explains that access would be granted only as necessary to certain Federal and State agencies.  So far, this has remained "in committee" since it was introduced November 18, 2011.

What's next? Prohibiting the publication of obituaries in the newspaper?  (Don't publish it! A criminal might try to steal grandma's identity now that it's been been made public she's dead!!)  Criminals already steal identities via Social Security numbers while we're alive even though we try to protect it.  Where there's a will, there's a way.  (I think there are much more important issues for government and society to confront and solve than wasting time taking on this faux issue that ultimately ends up impeding genealogy research.  Genealogist will be the ones that suffer, not the criminals.)

After saying all that and taking a deep breath to relax, I am happy to report one site continues to provide full access for FREE at the moment.  That would be the SSDI made available on  It is my hope they are allowed to continue doing so without interference.

Monday, March 19, 2012

T-minus 2 weeks and counting!

The wait is almost over!  Only two more weeks until the release of the 1940 Census!!

What are your plans for accessing it?  Will you be accessing it on day one or will you wait until an index is created?  Remember the library has computers dedicated to genealogy research so stop in any time!

Let the dramatic drum roll of the unveiling begin!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Writer's block? The Genealogy Society can help!

Members of the Butler County Genealogical Society will be at the library each Saturday during the month of March to answer questions and provide guidance for those struggling with writing their entry for the new Butler County History Book.  They can be found in the Kay Keeney Genealogy/Reference area of the library 1-3 PM each of these Saturdays.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Newspaper Research @ the Library

The library maintains the local Poplar Bluff newspaper on microfilm dating back to as early as 1877. This collection is not conclusive, particularly in the earliest editions.

By visiting the library and using the microfilm machine, copies may be printed for 25 cents per page or even emailed to yourself.  A library card or visitor pass is needed to use the microfilm machine for up to 2 hours.  (A visitor pass is available for $1.00 with an ID.)

If you live too far away to visit the library, the library does provide a research and copy service of articles/obituaries from the local newspaper for a fee of $5.00 per incident. However, an index for this material does not currently exist. For this reason, library staff are limited to searching only those requests, which contain the exact name of the individual involved and the exact date of the incident. To request a copy of a local newspaper article/obituary, please send a written request containing the above information, the $5.00 fee, and a SASE to:


The results of the search will then be returned in the envelope provided, or emailed, if requested. If you have any additional questions on newspaper services, please contact the library at 573-686-8639 or by email.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Historic Sanborn Maps

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Company created maps of cities for use by fire insurance companies beginning in 1867.  The University of Missouri has digitized the existing Sanborn maps for Poplar Bluff  for various years between 1892 through 1917.  These maps can be searched or browsed by visiting the University of Missouri Digital Library website.

These maps give you a glimpse of how the downtown area grew and changed over a 25 year period.  This information has great historical importance since so much of that area was destroyed by the 1927 tornado.