Footnote.com: A new page for beginners

Are you a new user of Footnote.com? There’s now a special page for beginners.

View it here, and see these sections:

— Discover who you are: Find and organize your family history

— Discover through history: See Footnote’s documents online.

— Start by searching for your name among the 63 million-plus documents.

— Are you related? Start a Footnote ancestor page for your family.

— What do others know? Share the page you’ve created at Footnote on Facebook.

There’s new Footnote content to search:

— Naturalization Records: Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania
— City Directories: Des Moines, Indianapolis
— Civil War Union Soldier Service Records: Nebraska, Arkansas, Colored Troops
— Homestead Records: Nebraska
— Texas Death Certificates: more than 3 million images
— Final Payment Vouchers Index for Military Pensions, 1818-1864

And do check out the new enhanced image viewer.

Jerusalem: Mount of Olives now online

The world’s oldest Jewish cemetery just went online, according to the Jerusalem Post.

More than 20,000 gravestones have already been documented, but there are some 200,000-300,000 in the cemetery. There’s a lot still to do.

Mount of Olives burials go back some 3,000 years, to the First and Second Temple periods, and continues today. From 1948-1967, when Jordanians were in charge of the area, there was severe destruction, including broken and destroyed tombstones, with others used to pave floors in Jordanian army camps. During that era, a road was paved south from the top of the mountain. The road to Jericho was widened. All of this took place on top of the graves.

Following the Six Day War, the cemetery was slowly restored. Until now, however, there has been no major effort to map and record graves or to decipher and restore names on the tombstones.

Workers identify the graves and locate them on the map. The website allows global viewers to zoom in on an aerial photo and see a photo of each grave. Each name listed shows available information and a photograph, while users can upload additional data and photos about their loved ones and others who are buried there.

Those planning a visit can also create (and print) a map and route of graves to visit.

Read the story here, about the website, which is available in English, Hebrew and Russian.

Tracing the Tribe’s experience with the database:

Search the database with only one letter. I searched for D (Dardashti) and for T (Talalay/Talalai) and J/I (Jassen/Iasin), but none were listed yet, although I know some who are buried there. I’m sure they will be listed eventually. Using the first letter or the first two letters of the surname produces a drop-down list of possibilities. However, if you put in the first three letters of a surname, there is no drop-down list. However, the list appears if you put in the first three letters of a given name.

Doing a search for COHEN, I found COHEN YAZDI. I clicked on the results and found the grave of Lea Cohen Yazdi who died March 27, 1944. On the map I could zoom to the specific grave. Here’s a portion of the map that showed (the red dot is the grave):


I clicked on Grave Details and saw this:

This was interesting as the burial society was listed as Spanish, yet the surname of YAZDI indicates a Persian origin.

Here is the actual gravestone photo, after using Snag-It and adjusting brightness and contrast.

According to the news story:

A new project undertaken by the City of David archeological Park, located south of Jerusalem’s Old City and at the foot of the Mount of Olives cemetery, has begun the process of identifying and documenting tombstones throughout the entirety of the Mount of Olives and uploading the data to the Web.

Tens of thousands of graves on the mount have already been mapped and incorporated into a database, in the first-ever attempt to restore the graves and record the history of those who were buried there. The project includes the creation of a Web site (www.mountofolives.co.il ) that aims to raise awareness of the City of David and to honor the memory of those buried in the cemetery, as well as to inform about the tours and activities available.

Additionally, the Web site tells stories of the people buried in the cemetery and, through a simple search window, one can locate the documented graves by name.

The project’s public relations director Udi Ragones hopes the web site will give people around the world an opportunity to clear the dust from generations of their loved ones’ graves. The project is fascinating from both personal and historical perspectives.

Read the complete story here.

Oregon: Jewish Museum reopens

The Oregon Jewish Museum has moved to a new home in the northwest part of Portland.

Its resources include art exhibits and much more, including the Jewish historical society’s archives and library (open by appointment to researchers).

Back in the 1950s, the city’s Old South Waterfront was a vibrant Jewish and Italian neighborhood. There is a walking tour of the area.

The opening was on Sunday, and various exhibits included:

The Shape of Time: accumulations of place and memory
Arnold Newman – Street Scenes
The Berger Collection of Ceremonial Judaica
Deanne Belinoff – The Book of Keys
Alex Appella – The Janos Book
Shelley Jordon – Family History

The museum also conducts the Oral History Jewish Cemetery Project and the Oral History Project. Seniors’ memories are a precious resource that dwindle over time, and both projects are aimed at saving these memories and archiving them.

The first project takes small groups to Portland’s Jewish cemeteries to film and interview the seniors as they walk together and talk about family and friends buried there. Gravestone names trigger memories and conversation. The films will be open to archival research and eventually made public. This project is funded by the Oregon Heritage Commission, the Oregon Cultural Trust and Helen and Jerry Stern.

The second oral history project is part of the museum’s mission to preserve the state’s Jewish history. The current project expands the Oregon Jewish Oral History and Archive collection begun in the 1970s. Its goal is to collect a wide range of oral histories from community members across the state. Volunteers are trained to to conduct interviews and transcribe tapes.

A third project – Museum in a Suitcase – is an outreach program for elementary school students. The goal is to teach diverse students about the successful integration of the Jews, who were one of the state’s earliest immigrant groups. Significant objects including Judaica are included in the suitcase, along with curriculum materials and teaching guide. The museum wants to train docents who will visit schools and organize programs. Funding is via The Collins Foundation, Oregon Heritage Commission and the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland have funded this project.

Go to the museum site (link above) and read all about the exhibit… – Shape of Time – which explores urban landscapes and public memory through the Jewish experiences in the state. It utilizes the museums extensive collection of historic photographs.

Virginia: Fairfax County Library resources, Sept. 16

Local libraries may hold genealogical treasures for researchers.

“Genealogical Resources in the Fairfax County Library Virginia Room,” will be presented by Suzanne Levy, Virginia Room librarian since 1981. The program is under the auspices of the Mount Vernon Genealogical Society and the venue is room 112 of the Hollin Hall Senior Center in Alexandria.

The Virginia Room has a collection rich in regional history and genealogy, local and state government information and legal resources. Materials cover more than Virginia and also focus on Confederate Civil War military history. Other resources include maps, extensive photographic archive, manuscripts, local newspapers, and rare books.

Levy, who holds a BA in history (Michigan State University(, and a Master of Library Science (Pratt Institute), is a member of the Fairfax Genealogical Society, American Library Association, Historical Society of Fairfax County (chair, 2004-2006), and Historic Fairfax City, Inc.

She has worked as Cataloger, North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill library; State Documents Librarian, North Carolina State Library; Acquisitions Librarian, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library; and at two NYPL branch libraries.

For more details, see the link above.

Orphan photos reconnected – sometimes

AncientFaces.com and DeadFred.com are two websites dedicated to reuniting old photos with the families of their original owners. They are only two of many belonging to a subculture of amateur genealogists, antique hounds, and others who attempt to find real homes for old pictures of someone’s relatives.

According to a Boston Globe story, this subculture wouldn’t exist without the Internet and its features. These days, libraries are also getting involved, and the Waltham (Massachusetts) Library has joined this community.

His picture arrived in the mail at the Waltham Public Library in a small manila envelope. The well-dressed stranger wore a dark pinstriped suit – late-19th-century vintage. His hair was parted sharply at the left temple, his starched collar crisp and white.

His photo carried the trademark of a Waltham studio, called Brown, L.C. on Main Street, which hasn’t existed for more than 100 years.

“Hello,” the handwritten note accompanying the picture said. “Don’t ask me how I wound up in Sasser, Georgia! Would you please put me on display in your library so my family can find me? Thanks! Sincerely, A Lost Soul.”

What was once a treasured image of a brother, husband or son is now an orphaned photo. But though this image might be a “Lost Soul,” it is by no means alone. The Internet has created a thriving community of people who have found a calling in rescuing the thousands of these orphaned photos that surface in dusty attics or estate sales, and trying to reunite them with family or friends or anyone who could identify them.

And now Waltham’s library has joined that community, drawn in by the arrival of the “Lost Soul” photo in January. Library workers have posted the image and several other unidentified pictures from its files on the library’s website, and in a display case outside its Waltham Room.

Librarian Jan Zwicker oversees the local collection and says the library has more than 5,000 historical photos in diverse categories.

Amazingly, the “Lost Soul” is one of only five photos without a name or history attached. It was sent in by Patrica Rock of Georgia who found it in an antique shop. The owner had some 30 photographs, and she bought those with some information on them, such as the Waltham photographer’s name.

She hopes someone might recognize the man who might have been a local resident, visitor or student. The article also details some of her finds and happy resolutions:

Another one of Rock’s orphaned photos, this one depicting a 19th-century girl, included a name and the name of the man she eventually married. Rock used the information to track down their grandson, an 80-year-old doctor living in Chicopee. Soon afterward, the doctor contacted her with the reaction that she always hopes for. “He was absolutely amazed. She had died giving birth to his father, and they only had one photo of her, taken when she was older. . . . He sent me a paperweight this Christmas.”

The article mentions DeadFred.com founder Joe Bott. The site had 62 million hits last year, with nearly 1,300 reunions to date. More than 76,000 photos of all types are posted there.

The library’s other four mystery photos have been there for years, and whether those or Lost Soul will connect with family isn’t certain. His best clue is the photo studio, in business on Main Street between 1893 and 1895.

Another – late-19th-early-20th century – is a white-haired gentleman wearing a long, fur-trimmed coat, staring into the camera, and taken at a known Boston studio, Elmer Chickering in 1904. A third shows a middle-aged man wearing the clothes of a priest or minister, in a pair of pince-nez glasses. The fourth is of a large crowd, mostly men, on the steps of a large stone building, taken by mystery man Adolphe Bean, who isn’t listed in any records of the period. The last is a street scene of a streetcare, showing a steeple above the trees.

Read more of the Boston Globe story on the friends of lost photos here.

Orphan photos reconnected – sometimes

AncientFaces.com and DeadFred.com are two websites dedicated to reuniting old photos with the families of their original owners. They are only two of many belonging to a subculture of amateur genealogists, antique hounds, and others who attempt to find real homes for old pictures of someone’s relatives.

According to a Boston Globe story, this subculture wouldn’t exist without the Internet and its features. These days, libraries are also getting involved, and the Waltham (Massachusetts) Library has joined this community.

His picture arrived in the mail at the Waltham Public Library in a small manila envelope. The well-dressed stranger wore a dark pinstriped suit – late-19th-century vintage. His hair was parted sharply at the left temple, his starched collar crisp and white.

His photo carried the trademark of a Waltham studio, called Brown, L.C. on Main Street, which hasn’t existed for more than 100 years.

“Hello,” the handwritten note accompanying the picture said. “Don’t ask me how I wound up in Sasser, Georgia! Would you please put me on display in your library so my family can find me? Thanks! Sincerely, A Lost Soul.”

What was once a treasured image of a brother, husband or son is now an orphaned photo. But though this image might be a “Lost Soul,” it is by no means alone. The Internet has created a thriving community of people who have found a calling in rescuing the thousands of these orphaned photos that surface in dusty attics or estate sales, and trying to reunite them with family or friends or anyone who could identify them.

And now Waltham’s library has joined that community, drawn in by the arrival of the “Lost Soul” photo in January. Library workers have posted the image and several other unidentified pictures from its files on the library’s website, and in a display case outside its Waltham Room.

Librarian Jan Zwicker oversees the local collection and says the library has more than 5,000 historical photos in diverse categories.

Amazingly, the “Lost Soul” is one of only five photos without a name or history attached. It was sent in by Patrica Rock of Georgia who found it in an antique shop. The owner had some 30 photographs, and she bought those with some information on them, such as the Waltham photographer’s name.

She hopes someone might recognize the man who might have been a local resident, visitor or student. The article also details some of her finds and happy resolutions:

Another one of Rock’s orphaned photos, this one depicting a 19th-century girl, included a name and the name of the man she eventually married. Rock used the information to track down their grandson, an 80-year-old doctor living in Chicopee. Soon afterward, the doctor contacted her with the reaction that she always hopes for. “He was absolutely amazed. She had died giving birth to his father, and they only had one photo of her, taken when she was older. . . . He sent me a paperweight this Christmas.”

The article mentions DeadFred.com founder Joe Bott. The site had 62 million hits last year, with nearly 1,300 reunions to date. More than 76,000 photos of all types are posted there.

The library’s other four mystery photos have been there for years, and whether those or Lost Soul will connect with family isn’t certain. His best clue is the photo studio, in business on Main Street between 1893 and 1895.

Another – late-19th-early-20th century – is a white-haired gentleman wearing a long, fur-trimmed coat, staring into the camera, and taken at a known Boston studio, Elmer Chickering in 1904. A third shows a middle-aged man wearing the clothes of a priest or minister, in a pair of pince-nez glasses. The fourth is of a large crowd, mostly men, on the steps of a large stone building, taken by mystery man Adolphe Bean, who isn’t listed in any records of the period. The last is a street scene of a streetcare, showing a steeple above the trees.

Read more of the Boston Globe story on the friends of lost photos here.

Library of Congress: ‘My Friend Flickr’

Here’s a new online photo resource for researchers around the world.

According to a recent Library of Congress Blog posting, the LOC has taken a big step and has entered the world of Web 2.0, writes Matt Raymond, the Library’s director of communications since 2006.

Millions of people around the globe are actively creating, sharing or benefiting from user-generated content. Raymond wants to expand the reach of the LOC and and access to its collections as far as possible. The best way to do this is through the Internet.

That’s why it is so exciting to let people know about the launch of a brand-new pilot project the Library of Congress is undertaking with Flickr, the enormously popular photo-sharing site that has been a Web 2.0 innovator. If all goes according to plan, the project will help address at least two major challenges: how to ensure better and better access to our collections, and how to ensure that we have the best possible information about those collections for the benefit of researchers and posterity. In many senses, we are looking to enhance our metadata (one of those Web 2.0 buzzwords that 90 percent of our readers could probably explain better than me).

From some 14 million bits of visual materials (prints, photos, etc.), some 3,000 photos from two very popular collections are now on the LOC’s Flickr page. These are images for which no copyright is known to exist.

The online digitized high-resolution images include 1,600 color images from the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information and some 1,500 images from the George Grantham Bain News Service.

The LOC wants people to tag, comment and make notes on the images, just like other photos at the website. Many images are missing essential caption details, such as where it was taken, or who’s pictured. If Flickr members can provide such details, the resource is certainly enhanced.

Flickr has created a new publication model for publicly held photographic collections called “The Commons.” Flickr hopes—as do we—that the project will eventually capture the imagination and involvement of other public institutions, as well.

Writes Raymond, “this pilot project is a statement about the power of the Web and user communities to help people better acquire information, knowledge … [and] to learn as much as we can about that power simply through making constructive use of it.”

To view the photos, click here. It is free and you don’t need an account to view the images. To add comments or tags, however, you will need to sign up for a free account.