Sunday, May 17, 2015

Getting Carded at the Library of Congress

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., 
United States, West Front, right wing, CJStumpf, 2007, Wikimedia
In February of this year (2015) our close friends from California invited my husband and me to join them in Washington, D.C. for Spring Break (April 6-11.) Seeing our friends, the cherry blossoms, and several Washington museums were great draws. But as a family researcher, I was tantalized by the prospect of visiting the Library of Congress for the first time. As it happened, there was a book I needed that was at the Library of Congress.

During my research on the Hanneman family line (see my post of April 4, 2015), I found that the National Genealogical Society’s  (NGS) Annual Conference in 1997 had been held in Pennsylvania.

Image from page 4 of "National Genealogical Society quarterly"
 (1912), National Genealogical Society,
 nationalgenealog19131917nati, Internet Archive Book Images
A google search led me to which showed that the Library of Congress has a copy of this conference syllabus. Having attended NGS conferences in the past two years, I know how much information can be found in the syllabus. NGS always includes several workshops devoted to the city/state that is hosting the conference. I might find some real gems about Pennsylvania. So now I had a research need.

I have been accessing the Library of Congress Digital Collections section of the catalog at home to find wonderful photos for my blog. But I have never been actually in this historic building. Now was my chance. Since this was mostly a trip to see friends and go sightseeing, I didn’t really have time to prepare to do research. Usually I carefully study the museum/library/society that I will be visiting. This time I just checked the hours of operation and had the one resource that I wanted to request. This lack of planning almost proved to be my undoing and led to a few unwelcome surprises.

What????,  Robbie Grubbs, 2009,
We arrived at the main (Jefferson) building of the Library of Congress in the early afternoon. First we took a tour of the building, and this was when we had our first surprise. The guide told us we could look down at the Library of Congress Main Reading Room from the balcony but that only researchers could actually enter the room.
Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress in the
 Thomas Jefferson Building, Carol M. Highsmith, 
LC-DIG-highsm-11604, Wikimedia.
In addition, the guide continued, a researcher could only access the room if he/she had a reader’s card. After the tour, I went to the information desk to ask where I could get a reader’s card.

Then came the second surprise. The staff member said that you had to go to the neighboring Madison Building,
James Madison Memorial Building of the
Library of Congress, Carol M. Highsmith,
 2011, Wikimedia
to the Reader Registration Station to apply for a Reader Identification Card. In order to get to the Madison Building, we were sent to the tunnel that joins the two buildings. The walk took about 10 minutes. 

Underground Passage, Tunnels connecting all main buildings
 of the Library of Congress, LilyyyB, 2012,
Once you get to the Station, the process of getting the card takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on the number of patrons waiting. With our newly minted cards in hand, we trudged back through the tunnel. I was so excited to actually be on my way to the Reading Room at last.

Library of Congress Main Reading Room
 Entrance, brownpau, 2013, 
The last stop before the Reading Room is the  Researcher’s Entrance  where you sign in.
When you step through the door, you are actually in the anteroom that now serves as the Local History andGenealogy Room  which adjoins the Main Reading Room. I was fortunate to find a reference librarian able to assist me in looking up the resource I needed. He introduced me to the Automated Call Slip on the Library of Congress' Online Catalog. You can fill out your own Call Slip on your laptop or by using the computers in the Computer Catalog Center, across from the Reader’s Entrance. 

The whole process has been digitized:
  • You request the material online.
  • The Library of Congress receives the request online.
  • You are notified online when the material is ready to be picked up.
This is where the third surprise happened. I decided to ask someone at the information/materials pick-up desk in the Main Reading Room what average turn-around time is. The answer was from several hours to a full day!!

New Zealand road sign Section: Permanent Warning -- 
Miscellaneous Meaning: Other dangers, UserFry1989, wikimedia

My experience at the Library of Congress led me to two caveats for my readers:
  1. Get your Reader’s Card early.
  2. Request your material on the Library of Congress’ Online Catalog using the Automated Call Slip (you must have a Reader’s Card first) early; if possible, the day before you want to pick up the material.

The last day of our trip, I was able to pick up my requested material: The National Genealogical Society 1997 Conference in the States Program Syllabus, “Pennsylvania Cradle of a Nation.” I had completed the process.

For more information on the Library of Congress' research treasures, view a video at

Categories: genealogy tools

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Tracking the Hanneman Family: Uncovering Local Resources in Pennsylvania

Questions, Oberazzi,  December 9, 2006,
Is it Henrietta Hausman or Henrietta Hanneman? What is the correct spelling of a target ancestor’s name is a question that faces many researchers. In this case, the person of interest bearing the mystery birth surname is “Henrietta Hausman or Hanneman Williams Kreis” who was born in Pennsylvania and became the second wife of my great grandfather, Henry Kreis. To answer this question, I needed to investigate Pennsylvania genealogy resources.

Map of Pennsylvania, National Atlas, public domain, Wikimedia.
In my Oct 19, 2011 post, I introduced my readers to Henrietta.

Received from granddaughter of Henrietta

At that time, I had a theory (this was early on in my research of this family) that “Hanneman” might be a variant or misspelling of “Hausmann.” The main reason for this belief was the close relationship between Henrietta and her father-in-law, John Kreis, that continued long after her marriage to his son ended in divorce. John had married two Hausman women; first Mary Hausman and after she died, Margarethe Hausman. Because of marriage patterns at that time and people having smaller marriage pools, it is probable that these two women were related. Furthermore, if these two Kreis wives were related to Henrietta, it would explain why she would include John Kreis in her household for twenty years.

Another reason in favor of the Hausman spelling is that the 1900 Chicago, Cook, IL US Census  gives Nettie’s (Henrietta) brothers’ surnames as “Housman” which could be a misspelling or an Americanization of “Hausman.”

I decided that I must delve deeper into family records in order to make a strong case for the true surname of my great grandfather’s second wife.

In my earlier research on the Hanneman/Hausman family, the seminal document I found was the 1880 Newark, Essex, NJ US Census. This showed Henrietta in her birth family with her parents, Fred and Emma Hannaman (spelling variant of “Hanneman” in this census) and her siblings.

In this early research phase on the Hannemans, I had concentrated on Henrietta, her brothers Charles and Frederick (as she lived with them in Chicago in 1900) and her twin, Louisa. Somehow brother Henry had slipped past my scrutiny. In these sibling searches, I found no indication of where in Pennsylvania any of them were born. Also, I found no Hausman/Houseman connection.

Months went by. In December of 2014, I decided to do some more research on the Hanneman/Hausman question. I returned again to the sibling list and realized I had ignored Henry.  He was listed as age 12 in the 1880 Newark, Essex, NJ US Census. I went to Family Search and searched “Henry Hanneman.” Well, that search turned out to be gold! The 1870 Texas, Wayne, Pennsylvania US Census came up.
1870 Census questions:  1870 Questionnaire, › History › Image Gallery.
The household of “FredK and Emma Hannaman” appeared with two children: Gusta, female age ten and Henry, age one. I had not seen this census record before. This one document gave me three new pieces of information:

    Carbondale, Pa., between 1870 and 1879,
    Fowler & Bailey, Boston Public Library,
  1. The birth place in Pennsylvania of Henry (and perhaps the other children): Texas, Wayne, PA (Texas township is near Honesdale and Carbondale, all of which are close to Wilkes-Barre and mentioned in different family documents.)

“An old bird-eye map of Wilkes-Barre,
 Pennsylvania, United States”, 
1889, Fowler, Downs & Moyer, 
 g3824w.pm008720, public domain, Wikimedia.

This corresponds with what Joan Van Hise Dirner, a granddaughter of Henry Kreis (and my cousin, now deceased) told me about her Hanneman family origins in this country. Joan heard a family story that the Hannemans were in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania at one time before they came to New Jersey.

2. The name of another child of Frederick and Emma: Gusta.

3.The city/district in Germany where Frederick Sr. was born: Hanover.

This Wayne County, PA census record also told me that the family surname, as far back as 1870, was “Hannaman”, a spelling variant of “Hanneman.” It looked more and more like “Hanneman” was the family surname.

After this lucky break from Henry, I did more research and found him (in the 1910 , 1920 and 1930 Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne, PA US Censuses) showing that, unlike his siblings, he returned to Wilkes-Barre as an adult and lived there the rest of his life.

Map of Luzerne County, PA, US with township and municipal
 boundaries from US Census website 
by User:Ruhrfisch, April 2006, Wikimedia.  

In the 1910 Wilkes-Barre Census, I found that Henry’s brother, Frederick, was living in his household and the surname for all was “Hanneman.”

Invigorated and re-energized by my luck with Henry, I wanted to know more about the Hanneman family. I started my search anew. In under “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” I found a listing for Heinrich Hanemann and his brother Friedrich, arriving in the US on 13 April 1866. This document was the oldest and closest to the old country that I had yet seen and thus the strongest evidence that the surname was indeed “Hanneman.”

Having done so much on-line research, I decided I also needed to consult some local sources. Since I live at quite a distance from Pennsylvania, I decided to follow my own advice from my Oct 19, 2011 post:

 “… when you are doing out of state research, someone actually living in that area can be very helpful.  That person can visit archives or other record depositories to search for information. An in-person search is much faster than ordering records by mail. Not all records have been digitized or are available on the computer. And a local person may know of places to research in the area that you have not thought of.”

Now that I had decided to go local, how did I find a researcher? A quote from my March 12, 2013  post gave me just the information I needed:

“…the next time you are researching an ancestor in a geographic area that is new to you, be sure to start with the Family Search Research Wiki. Not only will you find a thorough introduction to many records and where they are located for your target area, but you never know what hidden treasures are waiting for you.”

Family Search resources, Diane Cordell, June 25, 2012,

First I went to the Pennsylvania State Wiki at Half-way down the page is a map showing all of the counties. To see a wiki on any of the counties, you simply click on the county name. In my case, I clicked on “Wayne” as that is where Wilkes Barre is located. Below is a diagram of the county:

Map of Wayne County, Pennsylvania, United States, 
modified by User:Ruhrfisch in April 2006
 from US Census website, Wikimedia.

On the left side of the Pennsylvania State Wiki page, you will find a menu bar which lists major topics of interest, including church records, court records, history, and newspapers among others. But I was looking for local professional help. The topic “Repositories” caught my attention, and the subheading  “Societies” seemed a likely place to check.

Wayne County Historical Society, used by permission
The first institution listed is the Wayne County HistoricalSociety, located in Honesdale, the birth place of Henrietta’s brother Henry Hanneman. On the side bar of the first page of this website, you can click on “Genealogy,” and you will find the Professional Research Package. For a $40 fee, you can purchase two hours of research. The website lists many of the sources available at the Society. I discovered that the site makes it easy to order research services on-line when I made my request for two hours of research on the Hannemans. During an e-mail conversation with the researcher, I attached documents I had already found and a history I had written on the family. Unfortunately, the researcher could find no additional records of the family’s time in Wayne County.

Sysiphus, oil on canvas, 40 x 40, 2014,
 Milan Rynt, 15 September 2014, Wikimedia 

As you can see from this post, living far from a state where your ancestors once lived is not an insurmountable obstacle to research. Local societies often offer on-site services for a fee. And an easy place to locate these local institutions is the Family Search Research Wiki.

A lesson I re-learned again while doing this research (Hanneman or Hausman?) is to always check records for each of the siblings in a family. You never know what you might find. In this case, Henry Hanneman’s records, a brother of Henrietta, brought me information I had not found from my research on his brothers and sisters: his birth place in Pennsylvania and most likely the birth place of his siblings.

In conclusion, in order to answer the question, is it “Henrietta Hanneman” or “Henrietta Hausman,” I searched for documents on-line and enlisted the help of local researchers in Pennsylvania. Hanneman (or some variant such as “Hannaman, Hanaman etc.) appears on every record except the one census document which listed the family as “Housman.”  From all the records I have accumulated, the evidence strongly suggests that “Hanneman” is Henrietta’s correct surname.

category: genealogy professional

Friday, February 6, 2015

Wanted: Greek Research Guidance

Irish United Nations Veterans Association house and
 memorial garden (Arbour Hill), 
William Murphy, 2011, Creative Commons,
This is the story of how one resource can open the door to many research tools. It all started because of my Greek ancestors. My husband and I will be headed to Athens in the fall of 2015 for our next family history trip.

Athens. Panorama from Acropolis towards
 northeast and Mount Lycabettus,
2011, Wikimedia.
After traveling to the Czech Republic and Switzerland in 2013, I have some experience in getting prepared to make the most of my time in Europe. In my blog post of Oct 30, 2013, I discussed how I found my wonderful Czech heritage guide, Marie Zahn. The unforgettable trip with Marie to my grandfather’s ancestral village coupled with the genealogical information that she located before we arrived resulted in a very successful visit. This experience lead me to look for a guide in Greece.
But this quest proved much harder than I thought. I explored the subject of heritage guides in Greece in different google searches (trying to use just the right combination of words,) but nothing solid turned up. I e-mailed Rick Steves’ travel advisory site staffers, (a great site for travel information) but they had no leads either. 

Used by permission of publisher
On one of my google searches, I put “Greek genealogy resources” and a listing for a “Greek Family Research Toolkit” from Family Tree Magazine popped up. A copy of this issue is available at Family Tree Magazine's online store.

As I looked down the list of web sites in the tool kit, I saw this intriguing entry: Hellenic Genealogy Resources Facebook Group.

Facebook logo, 2013,
 Facebook, Inc., Wikimedia.

Now I had already searched Facebook groups under “Greek,” but I had not thought to look under “Hellenic.” The link in the Family Tree list (from 2012) was no longer active but now I had the name. I excitedly opened Facebook and entered the name I hoped to fine.

And there it was – the Hellenic Genealogy Resources Group!  (You must be in Facebook to see the group.) I saw that it was a closed group, so I clicked on “join” and the next time I checked, I saw a  welcome message from the administrator of the group, Dawna Stevens.

Listen, Ky, 2008, Creative Commons,
Having found the group, I could hardly wait to make contact.  In my “hello and thank you for letting me join message,” I asked if anyone knew of a Greek heritage guide. By the next day, Dawna Stevens had given me two possible candidates. This kind of treatment, of being heard, is something so wonderful to encounter when you are searching for information.
 I will write another post as I explore a research partnership with these new Greek contacts.

Another Facebook group I found in the Family Tree Magazine “Greek Family Research Toolkit” is Hellenic Genealogy Geek. I was intrigued by the term “Geek” – these must be very determined, focused researchers. Only a few weeks after joining this group, I received an e-mail announcing the “First NationalHellenic American Genealogy Conference” to be held in New York on Saturday April 25, 2015. This isn’t the first time that I have wished to live closer to New York City! The conference is co-sponsored by the Hellenic American Chamber ofCommerce and The conference syllabus promises an exciting, information-packed day. Not only are there some intriguing presentations, but the conference is free!

The conference opens with Peter C. Moskos speaking on “Greek Americans: Struggle and Success” which is the title of a book by the same title he co-authored with Charles C. Moskos.

A presentation by Dr. Louis Katsos, titled the “History of Hellenic Lands,” focuses on how research in Greek records is impacted by “geography, boundary changes and village name changes.” Herein lie the sand traps that befuddle many a genealogist!

Bunker, Michael Coghlan, 2009,
Creative Commons,

In the afternoon, Peter W. Dickson, a contributor to Greek Americans, will be speaking on “Using DNA in Greek Family History Research.” How DNA can help in family history research is one of my favorite topics!

I found another lead in the Greek Family Research Toolkit -- a link to Lica Catsakis’ website, Greek Genealogy - FamilyHistory, How to find Your Greek Ancestors. Dr. Catsakis is the author of Family History Research in Greece. This is a description of the book that appears on her website:

“Eleven Chapters: Beginning your Research, Sources for Genealogical Research, Greek History, More about Greece, Greek Migration, Locating Places in Greece (with details about various gazetteers – geographical dictionaries), Churches and Religious Denominations (with addresses of dioceses, and Patriarchate), Research by Mail (with form letters for civil and church archives in Greek and their English translation, and Family questionnaire for relatives to fill in information about common ancestors), Learn about Names, The Language (with basics about grammar and a list of words you will see in Greek records), Numbers and Units of Time. 
Two Appendices: Glossary (of Greek and English words); and Greek Given Names their Variations, their English Equivalents, and Name-days.
Pictures of ancestors and of the land, Maps, and photocopies of samples of Greek Records andCertificates.”

Isn’t it amazing how one resource, in this case Family History Magazine’s "Greek Family Research Toolkit," can lead one to discover all this:

  • Two Facebook groups on Greek Genealogy Research
  • Referrals to Greek Heritage guides
  • The Hellenic America Chamber of Commerce
  • The First National Hellenic American Genealogy Conference
  • A manual on how to do Greek Family Research by L. Catsakis
categories: genealogy tools, genealogy professional, genealogy groups