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  • Our Military Heritage Additions

    Thursday, Jun 09, 2016

    We have several new materials for Our Military Heritage! They all present different types of records that may be applicable to your military ancestor! 

    First, we have The Civil War Cavalry from St. Joseph County: 12th Indiana - 127th Regiment, by Russell I. Poole. This recounts the story of the 12th Indiana Cavalry regiment which was organized in Kendallville, Indiana, from December 10, 1863, to April 28, 1864.  
     
    We also have a program for the Hospice Memorial Service, Dayton, Ohio VA Medical Center, September 17, 1995 and a Civil War Roster of the Department of Pennsylvania, Grand Army of the Republic, 1894 (Philadelphia: Headquarters, 1894).

    Another great item added to the collection is Overseas Sketches: Being a Journal of My Experiences in Service with the American Red Cross in France by Henry A. Butler (Youngstown, Ohio: by the author, 1921).

    Take a few minutes to examine these to see if you might locate a similar record for the object of your search!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Information in our Free Databases

    Friday, Jun 03, 2016

    The Genealogy Center is pleased to be able to post some new information to our Free Databases for you to use. 

    The first are seven additions to the General Electric Collection.  They include Elex Club secretary notes, El-Par Chapter rosters, Elex Club Installation Banquet programs, Honor-ettes rosters, Partizans rosters, Pen-El rosters, and Quintus rosters.  

    We also have had 269 memorials added to Genealogy Tracers Homegoing Programs/Memorials.  This brings the total up to 4588 memorials in this collection.  

    Various records from two Presbyterian churches have also been added to our collection.  Two items have been added from the Witherspoon Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Five directories have been added from the College Hill Community Church in Montgomery County, Ohio.

    Also from Montgomery County, Ohio, we have records from two fraternal orders.  Three rosters of the Harmony Lodge No. 77, Prince Hall Free & Accepted Masons have been added.  Five membership directories and three programs from the annual Potentate Ball from the Amer Temple No. 107, A.E.A.O.N.M.S. (Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles Mystic Shrine) have also been added.  

    Lastly, we have a lovely anniversary announcement for Richard & Florence Hobson’s 50th Anniversary.  The couple is listed as being from Dayton, Ohio.    

    Thanks to our contributors, who continue to make The Genealogy Center Free Databases a site worth visiting!
     

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Closed Sunday and Monday, May 29th and 30th

    Tuesday, May 24, 2016

    The Genealogy Center, like other Allen County Public Library facilities, will be closed Sunday, May 29, 2016 and Monday, May 30, 2016, in honor of Memorial Day. Take time on these days to recall fallen servicemen and women. Scan their documents and photos and submit them for inclusion in Our Military Heritage!
    WWII Military Air Crew Photo

    This photo was donated to the Berne (Indiana) Public Library from the collection of Kenneth and Betty (Agler) Hawkins. The library has allowed The Genealogy Center to post it in Our Military Heritage.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Online Family Resources

    Friday, May 20, 2016

    We are pleased to be able to post some new Family Resources for you to use.

    The first two written and donated by Patricia Johnson: Great Grandparents and Their Ancestors of (Ina) Patricia Hughes, 1928- , which is divided into seven parts, and Great Grandparents and Their Ancestors of Frank Lee Johnson, Jr., 1927- , which contains eight parts. Both are keyword searchable.

    We also have three letters of the Howard Family, DeKalb County, Indiana. The first, dated 1930, is from 11 year old Elton Howard, was written to his mother, Ester, and mailed in the first batch of air mail from Fort Wayne. It flew to Chicago and back, and was intended as a souvenir. The second is a 1919 letter to Elton’s father, Elton D., from his aunt Emma, who was visiting Danville, Indiana. The third letter, also to Elton, Sr., from Emma Howard, discusses various members of the extended family.

    The last is Thomas Middlebrook Willis, 1859-1937, Pioneer Abilene, Texas Attorney.  Thomas was born in 1859 in Georgia. His family migrated to Texas in 1866, then, after law school, he settled in Abilene, where he settled and his family grew. his descendant, T. Bradford Willis, DDS, of Waco, Texas, compiled this biography and has graciously allowed us to post it.

    Thanks to our contributors, who continue to make The Genealogy Center Free Databases a site worth visiting!


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • June One-on-One Consultations!

    Wednesday, May 18, 2016

    Have a brick wall in your research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your research? The Genealogy Center is offering 30-minute personal research consultations with a staff member on some troublesome aspect of your research on Tuesday, June 7th and Tuesday, June 28th, both 2 PM to 4PM. Call 260-421-1225 or send an email requesting a Consultation. You will be asked to provide basic information concerning the nature of your quandary and a staff member will be assigned and a time established for your consultation. Be sure to bring your research notes to your consultation.Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. Register today!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our Military Heritage Additions

    Monday, May 16, 2016

    We have several new World War I material for Our Military Heritage! They all present different types of records that may be applicable to your World War I ancestor!  

    First, we have Adolph Hannie’s records, contributed by Susan Hannie Goshorn. Hannie was with the 34th Field Artillery and this file includes his July 1918 enlistment record in Decatur, Indiana, order of induction, report of ratings, honorable discharge dated January 1919 and death certificates for Adolph (1969) and his wife Lulu (1984).
     
    We also have Walter Siemowski’s World War Bonus File from the Archives of Michigan. Walter was born on 1 June 1893 in Laurium, Houghton County, Michigan, and served with Company I of the 78th Infantry although he never served overseas. Walter died in Detroit in 1965. This document was submitted by Joseph F. Martin of Romeoville, Illinois, and used here with his permission.
     
    The last item from World War I is Lawrence Anthony Govansky’s Veterans Census Record. Walter was Windsor, Ontario, in 1898, and enlisted in the U.S. Army at Columbus Barracks, Ohio, on 9 June 1917 although he had been living in Detroit. This document mistakenly identifies his birthplace as Detroit. Originally, he was a private with the 10th Recruiting Company, then moved to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana to be part of the 13th Ambulance Company. He later was part of the 302nd Ambulance Company in Ayer, Massachusetts, and Casual Company 339 at Camp Merritt, New Jersey. He served in France from 20 August 1918 to 10 July 1919. Lawrence was discharged from service at Camp Sherman, Ohio, on 24 July 1919. He changed his name at some time to Lawrence A. Lawrence and died in 1982 in Avon, Michigan. This record was submitted by Joseph F. Martin of Romeoville, Illinois, and used here with his permission.

    Take a few minutes to examine these and see if you might locate a similar record for the object of your search!



    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Indiana, Civics and Abraham Lincoln

    Thursday, May 12, 2016

    Join us on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, for the Fifth Annual Rolland Lecture, "What Indiana Civic Life Light Taught Young Mr. Lincoln," presented by Judge Randall Shephard, retired Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court and sponsored by the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection. Attend this free event at 7:00 PM in the Theater of the Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Naturalization Records – A Brief Introduction

    Sunday, May 08, 2016

    Naturalization is the method by which a foreign person, or “alien,” becomes a citizen.  It is a voluntary act and is not required under United States law.  The first Naturalization Act was passed in 1790.  At that time, most naturalizations occurred in the court nearest to the individual being naturalized, which could have been the county court or the federal court.  The naturalization process took about five years.  After two years of living in the country, the alien would file papers stating his or her Declaration of Intent to Naturalize (or “First Papers”).  After three more years, the alien could then file a Petition for Naturalization.  Generally, the Declaration of Intent records have more information that is beneficial to genealogists than the actual Petition. 

    The first thing to note when looking for naturalization records is that you will not find them for women between 1790 and 1922.  Women and children under the age of 21 would be automatically naturalized when their husband or father became naturalized.  If an alien woman married a U.S. citizen, she would automatically become naturalized.  This process worked in the reverse as well.  When a woman married someone who was not a U.S. citizen, she lost her citizenship to the United States even if she continued to live in the country.  Additionally, children could file their Declarations and Petitions at the same time if they lived in the country five years before their 23rd birthday from 1824 until 1906. 

    1906 was a great year for genealogists in terms of added information to the naturalization records.  In 1906, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization was formed.  After the Bureau’s formation, more information was included on the naturalization records and the forms became standardized.  This also meant that more information about women and children were included in the records. 

    In 1862, a law was enacted to allow Army veterans who had been honorably discharged to petition for naturalization after living for a year in the United States.  In 1894, a law was enacted to include Navy and Marine veterans.  Later, thousands of men were naturalized through a law enacted on May 9, 1918, which allowed aliens serving in the U.S. military to file a Petition for Naturalization while they were serving in the present war, World War I.  More laws of this kind were enacted in 1919, 1926, 1940, and 1952 giving special treatment to veterans. 

    A major and frustrating aspect about naturalization records is that there is not a great way to locate them.  The records for naturalizations that took place at federal courthouses should reside with the National Archives.  The records for naturalizations that took place at county courthouses may still reside within the specific county.  However, some records from county courthouse nationalizations have been sent to the National Archives, compounding the difficulty of the search.

    The best source for finding naturalization records is the FamilySearch wiki.  The website has a great overview of naturalization records.  The overview then has a link to a page for each state’s naturalization records.  The state pages will assist with finding where the specific naturalization records are located.    

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • May Flowers Bring Pilgrims!

    Wednesday, May 04, 2016

    The Pilgrims were religious separatists and were seeking to establish a strictly Edward Winslow traveled to the new world on the Mayflower.conservative society in America.  The Pilgrims were displeased with the perceived secular nature of English society and originally moved to the Netherlands to avoid the influence of English culture.  However, they later determined they needed to move again, this time to America, to prevent their children from adopting Dutch culture, among other reasons. 

    It is estimated that there are over 35 million living descendants of the Pilgrims who traveled to America on the Mayflower.  There are several organizations just for these descendants, with the largest and most comprehensive being the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.  Other Mayflower organizations are for specific states or families. 

    Since there are so many descendants and the interest is so high, there are many resources available to research Mayflower ancestors.  In The Genealogy Center collection alone, there are dozens of resources available that are specific to the history of the Mayflower.  These resources include the full run of The Mayflower Quarterly, which began in 1935.  Another resource you can access at The Genealogy Center is AmericanAncestors.org, a paid database that is available in our building to our patrons.  

    April Showers Bring May Flower.  What Do May Flowers Bring?
    Pilgrims

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • April Showers Bring May Flowers. What Do May Flowers Bring?

    Monday, May 02, 2016

    Have you ever thought about the legacy flowers have in your family?  My grandmother was a gardener and had some of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen in her garden.  My mother has ivy, Lily of the Valley, and several other flowers that were starts from my grandmother’s garden.  Starts of these plants will soon be added to my garden.  Since my grandmother is no longer living, these starts from her garden mean so much more to me than plants from the store.   

    There are many people who have gardens and plants from relatives who have long predeceased them.  There are roses that have been in families for centuries.  In some families, gardening or plants are a family’s legacy to pass down to the next generation.

    What is your family’s garden legacy?  Flowers blooming in Foster Park in the spring in the early 2000s. Photographs taken by George Powell, formerly of Fort Wayne, IN, now of Robertsdale, AL.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • One-on-One Consultations on May 17th and 24th

    Sunday, May 01, 2016

    Have a brick wall in your research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your research? The Genealogy Center is offering 30-minute personal research consultations with a staff member on some troublesome aspect of your research on Tuesday, May 17th and Tuesday, May 24th, both 2 PM to 4PM. Call 260-421-1225 or send an email requesting a Consultation. You will be asked to provide basic information concerning the nature of your quandary and a staff member will be assigned and a time established for your consultation. Be sure to bring your research notes to your consultation.Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. Register today!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Preservation Week - Silverfish

    Saturday, Apr 30, 2016

    As Preservation Week continues, it is important to remember why this week exists.  Preservation Week was begun by the American Library Association with many partners in 2010 in order to bring awareness to the preservation needs of collections.  It has continually grown over the years and helped to raise awareness for the materials that need preservation.

    In recognition of this week, The Genealogy Center has a full week of programming to assist our customers in their own preservation needs.  The Genealogy Center will also be posting blogs on different items in our collection that have been damaged and tips on how to prevent such damage.  We will also discuss how to preserve the damaged material so it will not be further damaged.  

    Today, we are going to focus on silverfish.  Thankfully, we have not had this issue at The Genealogy Center but we have been asked about what to do if silverfish get into a personal collection.  This being the case, our photograph of interest is of a nasty little silverfish.  This bug is the arch enemy of archivists.  

    Silverfish eat carbohydrates such as sugars or starches in adhesives.  This includes books, carpet, clothing, and glue.  For this blog, the important item on that list would be books!  Once you discover silverfish in your materials, isolate them.  Put the infested materials in a container that you can seal away from your other materials.  

    You have several options at this point.  You could introduce chemicals to your materials but this is not advisable if you wish to preserve them.  Another option is to freeze the materials.  This will kill the silverfish and if done properly, will not harm your materials.  

    For general pest control information and how to prevent infestation, click here

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Preservation Week - Torn Pages

    Friday, Apr 29, 2016

    As Preservation Week continues, it is important to remember why this week exists.  Preservation Week was begun by the American Library Association with many partners in 2010 in order to bring awareness to the preservation needs of collections.  It has continually grown over the years and helped to raise awareness for the materials that need preservation.

    In recognition of this week, The Genealogy Center has a full week of programming to assist our customers in their own preservation needs.  The Genealogy Center will also be posting blogs on different items in our collection that have been damaged and tips on how to prevent such damage.  We will also discuss how to preserve the damaged material so it will not be further damaged.  

    Today, the next item that was brought to our attention is a book with ripped pages.  Ripped pages are usually the result of accidents.  Sometimes the tears are the result of negligence or done intentionally, but let’s focus on how to prevent and fix the damage.

    Tips to prevent damage: Use caution when working with older books and/or irreplaceable books.  As books age, the paper is apt to become brittle and begin breaking.  Do not use gloves unless the book is going to cause you physical harm if you do not wear the gloves (i.e. mold).  Make sure your hands are clean and dry.  Use the book on a clean, dry surface and handle carefully.

    Tips to deal with damage: DO NOT USE TAPE.  Tape is harmful to paper.  You can repair the paper if it will not cause further damage to the book.  One recommended method is to use Japanese tissue paper and a starch paste.  It is not recommended that archival tape is used.  Archival tape still can be gummed to the paper similarly to other adhesive tapes.  

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Mold and Mildew

    Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

    As Preservation Week begins, it is important to remember why this week exists.  Preservation Week was begun by the American Library Association with many partners in 2010 in order to bring awareness to the preservation needs of collections.  It has continually grown over the years and helped to raise awareness for the materials that need preservation.

    In recognition of this week, The Genealogy Center has a full week of programming to assist our customers in their own preservation needs.  The Genealogy Center will also be posting blogs on different items in our collection that have been damaged and tips on how to prevent such damage.  We will also discuss how preserve the damaged material so it will not be further damaged. 

    Maybe you have been hunting for a copy of an old family history that several cousins have mentioned and finally find one online. Or maybe you are browsing a used book store and find a county history in the area in which your ancestors lived. Congratulations! You buy the book, or get in the mail, gleefully open it and start to sneeze. You mutter to yourself, “Book dust!” and gamely continue turning the pages, Book Mold 1coughing and blowing your nose. That may be dust, but it may also be mold or mildew. For some, this is a nuisance, but others are violently allergic to this mold. You have your treasure, but you have some less pleasant stuff along with it.

     

    We also receive books that have mold and mildew, and occasionally, our own volumes Book mold 2develop mold, as you can see in the attached photo. Mold and mildew is cause by a damp environment and poor air flow. Books in basements, in closets or along outside walls are more vulnerable to mold. Being a fungus, mold sends out spores, so other books will be infected. Mildew often follows mold and imparts a dank smell to your library. If you discover mold or mildew on any of your books, separate the book from the rest of your collection, preferable in another room. For more valuable books, a professional conservator may be hired to clean the volume, but Biblio.com has detailed instructions on cleaning you can do at home, including removing mold and mildew, drying wet books, and removing the musty smell.

     

    Once you’ve removed an infected volumes and cleaned those that you can, be sure to keep a sharp watch in the future to nip any mold in the bed!


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Preservation Week - Broken Spines on Books

    Wednesday, Apr 27, 2016

    by Delia

    As Preservation Week continues, it is important to remember why this week exists.  Preservation Week was begun by the American Library Association with many partners in 2010 in order to bring awareness to the preservation needs of collections.  It has continually grown over the years and helped to raise awareness for the materials that need preservation.

     In recognition of this week, The Genealogy Center has a full week of programming to assist our customers in their own preservation needs.  The Genealogy Center will also be posting blogs on different items in our collection that have been damaged and tips on how to prevent such damage.  We will also discuss how preserve the damaged material so it will not be further damaged.

    If you have noticed, The Genealogy Center has no paper bound books. We receive  paper bound books (purchases and donations), but to insure the volume, and its precious information, will last longer, we hard bind everything. When a volume wears our through normal use, we will rebind the volume in a new cover. But hard-backed books are not impervious to hard use, and the spine of a book is one of the most vulnerable places. “Breaking” the spine so that the volume will lay open flat or to facilitate copying is just that: breaking. As the glue, backing and threads snap, one can hear the book suffer. Your own books at home, both paper and hard bound, need to be respected. When I was much younger, before I realized that some people would break the spine to make a paperback easier to hold open, I loaned a favorite book to a friend – who returned it with the spine broken. It wasn’t long before pages started to fall out. Needless to say, I never loaned that person another book, and took greater care to whom I loaned in the future!

    The spines will also break if the book is shelved with the spine on the top: the sheer weight of the pages will pull the spine loose. Many people think that if a number of books are shelved together with the spines up, the press will eliminate this damage, but that is a fallacy. Gravity is there whether there’s one book of ten.

    Check your personal library for weak spines. Make sure that books are shelved with the spines out or lay the volume flat. There are several YouTube videos on simple repair for broken book spines. Just check on Google under “repairing broken book spines.” And if you do loan books, let the borrower know that you expect the same care given to your books that you would provide!


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Preservation Week - Acidic Paper

    Tuesday, Apr 26, 2016

    As Preservation Week continues, it is important to remember why this week exists.  Preservation Week was begun by the American Library Association with many partners in 2010 in order to bring awareness to the preservation needs of collections.  It has continually grown over the years and helped to raise awareness for the materials that need preservation.

    In recognition of this week, The Genealogy Center has a full week of programming to assist our customers in their own preservation needs.  The Genealogy Center will also be posting blogs on different items in our collection that have been damaged and tips on how to prevent such damage.  We will also discuss how preserve the damaged material so it will not be further damaged.  

    The next item that has been brought to our attention is a book turning brown from the acidity in the paper.  Acidity is one of the causes of damage in paper as it weakens the fibers that make up the paper and eventually destroys them. Subsequently, paper made from mechanical wood pulp decomposes quickly from within.

    Tips to prevent damage: Unfortunately, the acidic paper composition is an inherent flaw.  In order to combat the decomposition of the paper due to the acid, the pH has to be increased.  This is possible through mass deacidification.  Mass deacidification is where an alkaline substance is added to the paper to neutralize the existing acid and prevent further decomposition.  

    Tips to deal with damage: A way to work to reduce further decomposition is to improve the environmental storage conditions.  A method of doing that is by storing loose paper in inert polyester film sleeves.  Then place the materials in safe, cool, dry, dark environment.  For more information on preservation of acidic paper, visit this website.  


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Preservation Week - Torn Cover on a Book

    Monday, Apr 25, 2016

    As Preservation Week continues, it is important to remember why this week exists.  Preservation Week was begun by the American Library Association with many partners in 2010 in order to bring awareness to the preservation needs of collections.    It has continually grown over the years and helped to raise awareness for the materials that need preservation.

    In recognition of this week, The Genealogy Center has a full week of programming to assist our customers in their own preservation needs.  The Genealogy Center will also be posting blogs on different items in our collection that have been damaged and tips on how to prevent such damage.  We will also discuss how preserve the damaged material so it will not be further damaged.  

    Today, the second item that brought to our attention is a book with a ripped cover.  It is cautionary tale on why it is bad to shelve things spine up.  The weight will potentially tear the book from the cover.  

    Tips to prevent damage: Always put books away carefully with a mindfulness on how not to damage the books.  If you are short on space, lay the book on its side instead of spine up.  You can always stack other books on top of it without causing damage to the cover.    

    Tips to deal with damage: There are methods to reattach the cover to the book.  Please refer to this tutorial from pages 14 to 23.  

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Preservation Week - Water Damaged Book

    Sunday, Apr 24, 2016

    As Preservation Week begins, it is important to remember why this week exists.  Preservation Week was begun by the American Library Association with many partners in 2010 in order to bring awareness to the preservation needs of collections.  It has continually grown over the years and helped to raise awareness for the materials that need preservation.

    In recognition of this week, The Genealogy Center has a full week of programming to assist our customers in their own preservation needs.  The Genealogy Center will also be posting blogs on different items in our collection that have been damaged and tips on how to prevent such damage.  We will also discuss how preserve the damaged material so it will not be further damaged.  

    Today, the first item that brought to our attention is a water damaged book.  It is unfortunate, but a small bottle of water can cause this type of damage.  This book not only has water damage, it has some mold growing in it as well.  This is because the water damage was not brought to our attention until the mold began growing. 

    Tips to prevent damage: When working with irreplaceable materials, make sure to keep food and drinks away from the material.  As you can see, even water can do a lot of damage.  Make sure to keep the materials in safe, cool, dry, and dark locations.  Moisture in the air can cause some damage but so can leaking pipes and flooded basements.  Be wise with where you store priceless materials.  Don’t put them in places where they may be damaged by water.  

    Tips to deal with damage: If you catch that the materials have gotten wet right away, begin by wicking away excess water with dry clothes. Then follow these instructions on how to dry out the materials.  For mold, follow these instructions and be careful to not expose yourself to the health risks of mold.  

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Musings about Microfilm

    Friday, Apr 22, 2016

    To many people, Microfilm is just another strange word that they do not understand.  To some people, it is an archaic form of saving materials.  To genealogists, it can contain pure gold in the form of answers.  While it is true that much of what genealogists are seeking has been digitized, not everything has been digitized and is available to the public.  Many things, such as newspapers, cannot be digitized due to copyright issues.  Many things have not been digitized due to lack of funding and lack of ability to digitize.  Microfilm is the only way these sources are accessible. 

    Microfilm is a low-cost, reliable, long-term, and a standardized method of image storing.  Microfilm has a life-expectancy of hundreds of years.  Microfilm machines vary in size and capability.  At minimum, the machine needs to consist of light and magnification.  As technology has improved, so have the capabilities of the machines. 

    Microfilm is cost effective and a proven way to preserve documents for hundreds of years.  While digitization is wonderful, microfilm will remain in the libraries and archives for the foreseeable future. When you visit your local library or archive, check out their microfilm collection.  

    The Genealogy Center Microtext Catalog is available on our website. 

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Investigating Silhouettes, Part 2

    Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

    Continuation of Investigating Silhouettes

    by John

    Our patron wants to know more, and his inquiry leads to a number of logical questions: How does one dig deeper? What do the silhouettes tell us about the couple and the date of the silhouettes? Might we identify the artist who made them? How should our patron best preserve them?

    We know that William and Margaret were married by the Rev. Mr. Spring on 28 December 1814 at the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City (see Shepherd Knapp, ed., Personal Records of the Brick Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, 1809-1908 NY: Brick Presbyterian Church, 1909], p, 135; 974.402 N422n). We also have access to one of the best available guides for identifying silhouettes: Blume J. Rifken’s Silhouettes in America, 1790-1840: A Collectors’ Guide (Burlington, VT: Paradigm Press, 1987). Rifken shows many examples of silhouettes of the period, offers tips on dating clothing and hair styles, and presents photos of many silhouettes of the period by various artists. While we don’t find an exact match to the clothing, we believe the images are of the Regency period and date from 1815 to 1825. Perhaps William and Margaret had the silhouettes made soon after their marriage.

    Rifken shows an image in his book with a very similar painting style to the Leggett images and in a nearly identical frame. The silhouette was painted by the renowned silhouettist, William Bache (1771-1845). Might the Leggett portraits have been painted by Bache, who was based in New Orleans and Philadelphia but also worked as an itinerant? They have a similar relief style, but all we can say is, maybe. We recommend that the patron share digital scans of the images with museums such as the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Center in Williamsburg, Virginia, and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., for a more extensive identification. The National Portrait Gallery has an album containing more than 1,800 silhouettes by Bache from a slightly earlier period.

    How should the patron best preserve the images? We noticed that they are turning brown and that there is obvious damage to the back of one of the two images. The frames are original and part of the artifact of the silhouettes, and so the frame and image should be preserved together. We recommend taking them to a professional framer who can install new backing with archival-quality paper, which will prevent further deterioration. We also recommend affixing some identification of the subjects to the back of the frames. Doing so will insure that when the silhouettes are handed down to future generations, the identities of the subjects will not be lost.

    Be sure to join us for Preservation Week, April 24-30, and learn some skills for identifying and preserving your genealogical artifacts and heirlooms.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center