About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Letters of Application and Recommendation During the Administration of Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1877, Microfilm Collection, NARA Riverside, continued

I guess you would call this "part 5" of a (length to be determined) blog series on using the NARA catalog and, specifically, finding lesser-known microfilm publications at the Pacific Region (Riverside) facility. This blog, then, is a follow-up of previous ones:

February 25 about how to navigate the NARA on-line microfilm catalog
(applicable to researchers in all geographic areas)
March 22 about the information documents for the NARA holdings (applicable to researchers in all geographic areas)
March 23 an overview of the Letters of Application and Recommendation during the Grant Administration
March 24 an example of one file in the Grant Administration collection

Our last examination was of a letter recommending Herman Haupt for a government position. Today we will look at a file for a lesser-known applicant, but one who might happen to be related to you (who knows?). If you have WENDT in your family tree, this may be of particular interest:

Unfortunately, as we so often find in micro-productions, the 2 other papers that were with this were illegible. One was the "jacket" or "cover" for this document (giving just the name and date) and the other was a picture of the file folder that holds the original paperwork. Neither is crucial to the use of this letter and it is good to see that the document itself is in remarkably good (and legible) condition. Another downside of most of these letters is that they don't follow up on what happened next.

Did Mr. Wendt get the appointment in Vienna? If so, did he ever return to the United States? Did his family go with him? But consider this: If this WENDT is yours and you "lost" him around 1874 (whether or not you were able to locate him later), this might explain where he went and give further clues of places to search for more information! If he did not get the appointment, it still mentions to his native city (Vienna) and may give a researcher a valuable clue in locating baptismal and immigration records. This one letter could knock down a few significant WENDT walls.

So the question is this: is there a relative of yours that made application or wrote a letter to a presidential administration, or for whom a letter of recommendation was written? (Yes, I've checked for my ancestors, just in case . . . of course, there are none that I've located so far, but if you hit "pay dirt" I'd love to know!)

Reminder, how to search the catalog for information in this collection can be found at my earlier blog on March 22.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Letters of Application and Recommendation During the Administration of Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1877, Examples from NARA, Riverside

In the last two blogs I discussed the value and contents of the "Letters of Application and Recommendation During the Administration of Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1877." Now let's look at an example of a rather noteworthy individual. Of course, if you are not related to this person, the letter might not hold much interest, but if you are or if you are working on the history of one of the organizations that he was associated with, it would certainly be of interest.

Let's look at the Civil War and the time period at its beginning when architect and bridge designer Herman Haupt found a place in history with his amazing trestles:

(National Archives photo)

The former officer resigned from the military early in the War but, according to this letter, he sought reconnection to the political scene a few years after the War ended:

In the near future we will look at a less well-known individual and his interest in making an application to work for the U.S. Government.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Letters of Application and Recommendation During the Administration of Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1877, Microfilm Collection, NARA Riverside

In two previous blogs I have introduced my readers to
1) How to navigate the microfilm collections at the National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Region (Riverside) and
2) What the "Letters of Application and Recommendation During Presidential Administrations, 1797-1877" is and how to access the information on which NARA facilities have the various collections available for customer viewing.

In this posting I want to share some of the findings in the collection of "Letters" of the Administration of Ulysses S. Grant (to help you save a little time, just click on the link "Ulysses S. Grant" and you can easily follow along on the Information Document - also called the "Descriptive Pamphlet," "Publication Details," and the "Finding Aid" - it's a PDF document that explains the history behind the collection and provides - in most cases - an Index to all the organizations and people about which the Letters and Applications are written).

Seven NARA facilities have this particular collection: Pacific Region (Riverside County, CA), Archives I (Washington, D.C.), Southeast Region (Atlanta, GA), Great Lakes Region (Chicago, IL), Archives II (College Park, MD), Southwest Region (Ft. Worth, TX), and Pacific Alaska Region (Seattle, WA).

There are 69 rolls of film in the collection and the Record Group (RG) is 59 ("General Records of the Department of State"). This Record Group also contains "other documents relating to appointments to public office, including oaths of office, attested copies of confirmations and rejections by the Senate, copies of commissions, and resignations and declinations of appointments" (Publication Number M-968, Washington, DC: NARA, 1975, p. 2).

Within the document (we're not into the films yet, just checking the PDF "View Important Publication Details" at this time), you can learn the history of the Grant Administration, a hint of the types of documents you will find on the films (applications of Union Army veterans, African Americans, those already holding government positions, and civilians seeking political and other appointments, etc.). It is estimated that, during the early part of his administration, about 400 people approached Grant, and his appointees, for consideration for Federal positions (many having served under Grant in the War).

In the cases where an applicant might have had another name or a letter also involved another consideration, a cross-reference is provided in the Index: e.g., "Carlisle, John S., Mar. 10-May 11, 1869 (6). See also Campbell, Archibald W." So if you are looking for Archibald W. Campbell (for whom there are an associated 22 documents), in the same index you will find his listing but no cross reference to John S. Carlisle (for whom there are an associated six documents), plus the date range given is "Apr. 26-Nov. 1, 1869." It would behoove the researcher to investigate both of these document collections (Carlisle and Campbell) (pp. 15-16). As it turns out, both Campbell and Carlisle letters are located on the same film roll (#10, Cab-Cas) (p. 104). (Note: it is most likely that the Campbell material includes some Carlisle material, but only within the date range given under "Carlisle.")

I hope that clarifies how the Information Document works and how it can be used before you visit your local archives. Knowing the film number(s) (in this case, Series M968, roll 10) will help you find your information faster when you arrive at the facility. As mentioned before, if you have a number of films to view, call or email in advance so they can be pulled for you; Pacific Region email for this purpose is riverside.archives@nara.gov.

The next couple of blogs will give some examples of the letters received by the Grant Administration: 3 for well-known individuals and 1 for a lesser-known person (but possibly your ancestor?).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Letters of Application and Recommendation During Presidential Administrations, 1797-1877, Microfilm Collection, NARA Riverside

Did your ancestor have a government position or apply for one? Or perhaps was recommended for such a career. Are you aware that letters to the government have been separated by administration (e.g., "Lincoln administration," etc.) and then further organized alphabetically by the subject (not necessarily author) of the letter?

In other words, if Sam Smith* wrote a letter to President James Monroe, or other government official during the Monroe administration, recommending Peter Adams* for a position as a government appointee, the letter would be filed under the "Letters of Application and Recommendation During the Administration of James Monroe, 1817-1825" (Part of Record Group 59, "General Records of the Department of State"; series M439 - 19 rolls).

Within that collection listing online (see earlier blog about how to find microfilm collections at the Pacific Region Archives), the PDF Information Document lists all the people who were subjects of the letters, so that particular letter would be listed under "Adams, Peter" and, following his name, there would be a number in parentheses (e.g., (8)) representing the number of documents (a single letter might be 4 pages long but if that is the only document in the file for Peter Adams, then there would be a (1) after his listing).

Once I identify the subject person in the name index, in that same PDF document, at the very end, is a listing of the microfilms in the collection and which rolls contain which surnames or organizations, so the Peter Adams item would probably be on roll number 1 - the listing looking something like this (for example only)*:

Aar - Bad - 1 (meaning film series M 439, roll 1)
Bae - Cre - 2 (etc.)

or like this:

Roll Index Range

1 A-Ba
2 Be-Bo (etc.)

To read the Peter Adams letter by Sam Smith, I would fill out the film requisition form at the archives and then the NARA employee would pull the film(s) I requested so I could view it (them).

*(This example is for information purposes only - there is not an actual letter by Sam Smith on behalf of Peter Adams, that I know of. In the next blog we will examine some real examples of what one might find within these films.)

There is a wealth of information in the documents on these films and most people are unaware of their existence. Checking through the indexes on the Information Documents takes only a few minutes and can be done at home (see earlier blog) before going over to the Archives. If you find your ancestor, or someone you think might be your ancestor, in one of those documents, you owe it to yourself to dig a little deeper. The employees and volunteers at the Archives are there to help you: 23123 Cajalco Rd., Perris (actually just off the I-215 at Cajalco Expy in Riverside County), CA 92570.

Note: if you wish a number of films to be pulled, it is advisable to call in advance with that request: 951-956-2000.

For those non-Southern Californians who are reading this, there are around a dozen other facilities across the country that house these films. To see if the archives near you has the film collection you seek, follow the directions in the aforementioned blog (but substitute your regional archives location for "Pacific Region" under "advanced search"), then (when you are in the catalog list for your selected archives), click on the "Publication Title" heading (this will give you an alphabetized listing of collection titles) and scroll to "Letters of Application and Recommendation During the Administration of _____" (pick the desired Presidential administration). (Note: Expect the title to be over half-way through the title listing.)

See below for a complete listing of the Presidential Administrations and their Film Series numbers to assist in making your selection.

M406 - 3 rolls - John Adams, 1797-1801
M418 - 12 rolls - Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809
M438 - 8 rolls - James Madison, 1809-1817
M439 - 19 rolls - James Monroe, 1817-1825
M531 - 8 rolls - John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829
M639 - 27 rolls - Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837
M687 - 35 rolls - Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, and John Tyler, 1837-1845
M873 - 98 rolls - James Polk, Zachary Taylor, and Millard Fillmore, 1845-1853
M967 - 50 rolls - Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, 1853-1861
M650 - 53 rolls - Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, 1861-1869
M968 - 69 rolls - Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1877

So now you have some information to get you locating that elusive ancestor who allegedly worked for the government or was a White House employee, etc. Please let me know how this works for you! And let others know about this amazing resource (in the next couple of blogs I'll show you some of the actual findings).

Monday, March 21, 2011

And the band played on

We are returning from a great weekend at the Glendale, AZ folk & heritage festival where we did some workshops, a short concert, and jamming. I spent time relaxing with the dogs by the camper and reading while listening to music all around me. What a peaceful experience.

At night we camped at Barbara & Chuck's and enjoyed a more intimate music setting. We have found that festival days really wear us out & end up heading to bed around 8pm these days! (Quite a contrast from years past at Songmaker campouts where we were still playing at midnight.) But going to sleep with the music surrounding us is a very comforting experience, for me, at least. Those bands (often formed right on the spot) with fiddles, autoharps, banjos, guitars, mandolins, and even various kinds of drums just played on and on (still going at 2am on Sat. night, I hear). Reminds me of the song of the same name. But the music lovers don't play the tunes just during the good times . . .

While watching a History Channel program about the sinking of the Titanic, I was struck by the legendary event of the band on board. As most everyone knows, that band played on and on as well. The doom was obvious and imminent, but the musicians fulfilled two purposes in their playing on and on:

1 - As any died in the wool musician will tell you, holding, caressing, and playing his/her instrument gives one amazing comfort and pleasure. No doubt the musicians found more security and peace holding their beloved tools of the trade. Clinging to their instruments gave them more a sense of purpose than attempting to cling to the rails, poles, lines, or other apparati available.

(Above, John T. McCutcheon political cartoon; click image for blog of Robert Paterson or here for information on the artist)

2 - The band members were hired to provide entertainment and civility to the passengers. We seek music for many reasons: enjoyment, worship, solace, and more. No doubt the passengers associated the music on the voyage with community and normalcy (for those nervous about being on the water, I would wager that the music helped them reduce the stress . . . ironic since there was much to be stressed about that, initially, they could probably not have imagined). The band members, though they would never cash their paychecks, were still "on duty" and maintained the role of "calming agent" - as much as possible - in those very last moments on board the Titanic. Brave souls, yes, but what else could they do?

And so the bands play on.

(Above: The Big Band finale at Glendale, AZ, 20 March 2011)

Again, I bemoan the fact that this phenomenon is becoming less and less commonplace in our schools. Who will play the dance music on the cruise ships? Who will entertain at the weddings? Who will play the marches at the parades? It may be up to the private citizens to keep the bands playing by encouraging children to take music lessons, form the garage bands, entertain in family bands at nursing homes and family reunions. Don't let the music die! Most of us who play in concert with others will never have to "go down with the ship," but that is what's happening to music in the schools. Help keep it playing!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One Lovely Blog Award - From one and spread to others

I'm honored to have been awarded the One Lovely Blog award from Polly Fitzgerald Kimmitt who writes the Pollyblog (I love that name)!

The rules of acceptance are :

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award and their blog link.

2. Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered or just love so much.

3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award. (This may take me awhile.)

Here are the lovely blogs I have selected . . . I have decided to reach outside the genealogy community for this award as there is much to explore in the name of this honor that is uplifting and inspirational. Please take a minute to browse through them!

1 - Bobby Dobbins Title - Hot Coffee & Cool Jazz (a dear friend whose observations on life touch the heart and funny bone, sometimes simultaneously)

2 - Amy Lynn Pitterle Foster - Foster Features (my granddaughter, a new mother, shares her thoughts, experiences, and great photos of this adventure in her life)

3 - Jack Rushton - It's Good to be Alive (the blog of one of my mentors from my early days in college and LDS institute, now a quadriplegic, Jack shares the good things in life - and there are a bunch!)

4 - Storycorps blog (I love Story Corps and this blog explains why)

5 - RV Travel blog (good for RVers - maybe not "lovely" per se, but definitely helpful)

6 - Caroline Rober - My Journey with ALS (Caroline passed away last month, but her blog journal is still on line and is an inspiration to those who have read it)

7 - Patty Ann Pitterle - Pitterle Postings (my daughter's inspirational observations)

8 - Mike & Cherie Tait - Taits in Tonga (friends on a mission in Fiji and their interesting experiences)

9 - Stefanie Eskander - StefStyle (a dear photographer/artist friend who shares art techniques, discoveries around her, and more)

10 - Dimitre Descardyin - The Ripple Effect (my grandson's self-observations that are profound discoveries for him and others)

11 - The Folk Alley Blog (hosted by the on-line "radio" station "Folk Alley" - great music and a venue that frequently features new artists "on the scene")

12 - Indiana University Press Blog (great source for the latest in Folklore)

13 - National Archives & Records Administration - NARAtions (Blog of the National Archives)

14 - Evan Morris - The Word Detective (not as much blog as Q/A from one of the country's best wordsmiths . . . love etymology? You're going to love this site!)

15 - Jean Hibben - Riverside Folk Song Society (I have to give this to myself and my "other" blog if for no other reason than to motivate me to do more with it for our local folk community)

And so there are my selections - some are music- and folklore-related, some are church-related, some are scholastic in nature, and some are produced by my family (and there's overlap in all of the above). Maybe one or two will make it to your "favorites" list.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending: Time

It's spring! If you live in the parts of the country where Daylight Savings Time returns every spring, then last night (unless you forgot), you made the clock spring forward and lost an hour of sleep. But you will be rewarded with an extra hour of daylight every evening for the next few months. I love this time of year! I love the extra hour of daylight at night because, as most people who know me are well aware, I am NOT a morning person! TIME is a commodity that I do not take lightly and I wish my TIME to be spent without artificial light as much as possible (I love to open the curtains, and windows if weather permits, and let the sun shine in to brighten the whole house). So this is the TIME of year that I celebrate. I may have suggested this topic in the past, but for today's Singalong, I propose the songs about TIME that have been meaningful to you. Whether or not the song mentions TIME with that exact word or it just references the concept, share your TIME-related song, an MP3 or YouTube version of it.

I can think of so many, that it is hard to choose. Yesterday I blogged about Phil Ochs and the movie about his life, so I think a Phil Ochs song would be most appropriate here. One of my favorites is "When I'm Gone" (link is to Allison Crowe version):

Oh, there's no place in this world where I'll belong, When I'm gone;
And I won't know the right from the wrong, When I'm gone;
And you won't find me singing on this song, When I'm gone;
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here.

Good words of wisdom for us all, don't you think?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Phil Ochs Movie: "There but for Fortune"

Earlier this week I attended the movie on the late folksinger, Phil Ochs: his life, music, and tragic death. Phil was one of my early examples of a singer-songwriter and his music techniques were amazing (my father, an accomplished musician, often remarked on how intricate and professional Phil's orchestrations were). Watching the movie brought back some emotional memories of growing up in suburban Chicago. I found it to be a good expose of both an artist and a time period in history when much was in turmoil. Many of us grew from the experiences; Phil was not as fortunate and he took his own life when his depression overpowered his artist-side.

Another interesting thing I noticed was before the movie: A number of advertisements were playing, promoting local (Pasadena) events and other theatrical productions at the theater. All of these were played sans music in the background. It was very odd to have something up on the screen with no noise . . . there were 20 of us in the theater and we were all very quiet and polite as the same advertisements were displayed on the screen over and over. No one talked. What a strange experience it was . . . not even background music in the theater. We are very much a "noisy" society and when there is no noise, immediately people look around to see why not! As you go throughout your daily lives, check out how many tasks (shopping, worshipping, attending sports events, etc.) are accompanied by music in one form or another.

Well, there are a few music thoughts for today and, if you grew up listening to the folk music of the '60s and you can find this movie playing anywhere near you, check it out (click the image above for the link) - a little trip down memory lane can sometimes be a good thing (Tom Paxton says it's OK to experience nostalgia and look back, just don't stare!).