Finding Family for Free, Part XIV

If your ancestors attended a college or university, you may find information about their lives in a source seldom mentioned in genealogy books:  class notes.

Almost every colleage and university publishes brief notes about the lives and careers of their graduates, submitted by the graduates themselves. Topics typically include engagements, weddings, births of children, new jobs and promotions, moves to new locations, awards and, finally, obituaries.

These notes are printed in college and university magazines or newsletters.  Some have indexed their older classnotes. Some remarkably have put these older records online.  One of the finest resources is the University of Wisconsin Library’s digital collection online, including its historic yearbooks and alumni newsletters.

The usefulness of this resource can be seen in several examples.

— In May 1911, the Wisconsin Alumni magazine ran an engagement announcement for Marie Grace Miller and Frank Joseph Petura, both 1904 graduates. Her father’s name, the careers pursued by Marie and Frank, and the month of the wedding are included. What a genealogical gem!

— In 1904, both Frank of Racine and Marie of Madison were included among the seniors with their individuals photographs, field of study, clubs and a quotation. What a remarkable way to see ancestors when they were young!

Many more class notes were published about them and Marie over the years, allowing family to understand more about their lives.

Another ancestor I am researching is William Henry Luehr, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1889.  He is in the Badger yearbook several times including when he was censor and historian of the Bildungsverein club and when he was elected in May 1888 to be a general editor of the Aegis, the student newspaper. He had many mentions in the Wisconsin Alumni magazine, such as when he was the principal at Manitowoc high school.

While not all universities and colleges have such a fine resource as that provided by the University of Wisconsin, they may have an index and may be willing to send copies of relevant class notes, if you send a stamped, addressed envelope. It is worth a try!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research ideas to help you find your family and ancestors for modest or no cost.

Published in: on January 15, 2007 at 9:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Finding Family for Free, Part XIII

Part of the fascination of genealogy is solving the puzzles of who our ancestors were; what occupations they followed; where they were born, lived, and died; and who their offspring were.  If you send a steady stream of emails, letters, queries and requests for information, you’ll find new clues and answers arriving every so often, just enough to keep you motivated!

Consider this checklist of correspondence to do, even if you only write one letter or query a week:

COUSINS:  Write to every cousin and other relative you know, even if you’ve not been in touch for years. You never know who has a box of old family letters and pictures tucked away that they’ll copy and share. Or who will turn out to share the genealogy bug and so have worked out key parts of the family tree.

PEOPLE WHO POST:  People who post family tree and genealogy information at places such as or GenForums typically include an email address. If you find a posting with some of your family, write to the person who posted the information to see what else they know. They may have new research not yet online. 

One wonderful contact for me has been Ginni Morey, who has a very fine Web site for her own family and for her husband’s Morey family.  The site shows the family of George Bradley Morey that includes sibilings Eda Dell Morey, my great-grandmother, and Frederick Eugene Morey, Ginni’s husband’s ancestor.  Thanks to email, we’ve shared some research to the benefit of both.

Recently, I emailed two people who had posted information about the Luehr family.  Back came a digital copy of a wonderful photograph of my great-grandfather’s oldest brother and his wife from one person while the other sent a five-generation pedigree of our lineage of the Luehr family, starting with my ggg-grandparents in Dithmarschen, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Both picture and family history came by email, are family history treasures — and were free!

LOOK-UPs:  Find Web sites for the surnames you are researching or for the locations where your ancestors lived.  Check to see if any of them list people who do volunteer look-ups in books with histories and biographies, as well as census or local records.  Or try the well known genealogy look-up site, Random Acts of Kindness. Submit a look-up request.  These volunteers get many requests so the reply may take a long time. Try anyway.

QUERIES:  Posting your own queries is another step that should be part of your week-in, week-out correspondence strategy.  Genealogy forums and discussion lists for the surnames and locations of interest are good places to post. You may also want to join history and genealogy societies in relevant locations, and submit queries to appear in their newsletters.

SOCIETY ARCHIVES:  Speaking of history and genealogy societies, many have files and archives on families in their area. Visit their Web sites for procedures for asking about what they might have on your ancestors. Some allow a simple email request while others have forms to complete and mail with a modest fee.

This steady, methodical approach to genealogy research can protect you from being overwhelmed by thoughts about all the steps you need to take, while ensuring a steady flow of clues and information to help you solve your family puzzles.  Try it!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research ideas to help you find your family and ancestors for modest or no cost.

Published in: on January 7, 2007 at 3:55 am  Leave a Comment