Elevenses with Lisa Episode 48 Show Notes.

One of the great things about genealogy is that there are always new records. Well, not really new records, new OLD records. These records have been around sometimes hundreds of years, but they may have been languishing in the basement of an archive, library or even a private collection. Every day, old records are becoming available, and often  right from the comfort of our own home. Who doesn’t love that?! When we can get our hands on those records, it can throw the doors open to new possibilities. Our genealogy brick walls start shaking in their boots because it can take just one record, the right record, to knock it down.

In this article and video we will explore two major genealogy record collections. They are very unique, and yet have some important things in common. Both the Ohio Memory collection and the Freedmen’s Bureau collection are online, and they are both free. Click below to watch the video. We start with Ohio Memory, and the Freedmen’s Bureau discussion begins at the 23:58 mark. Follow along with the show notes below. 

Ohio Memory

Website: https://ohiomemory.org
Special Guest: Jenni Salamon, Ohio Memory Digital Services Manager

If your family has any connection with the state of Ohio – and sometimes I think it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t have at least one ancestor who did – then you’re going to love the Ohio Memory collection and website.

Even if you don’t have a direct connection with the state of Ohio, like all collections its worth taking a peek. Records don’t care about state lines, and many items in the Ohio Memory collection touch far beyond the Ohio border.

OhioMemory.org was featured in Family Tree Magazine’s 75 Best State Genealogy Websites list in a recent issue of the magazine. I host the Family Tree Magazine podcast, and recently had the opportunity to interview Ohio Memory’s Digital Services Manager, Jenni Salamon for that audio show. Since there’s so much to see at Ohio Memory I’m excited to share the video of that conversation.

What is Ohio Memory?

Ohio Memory is the collaborative digital library program of the Ohio History Connection and the State Library of Ohio. Established in 2000. It was originally established as a bicentennial project they wanted a way to capture some of Ohio’s history and share it more broadly. Ohio turned 200 years old in 2003.

Ohio Memory worked with institutions around the state to build the online collection. They picked their favorite collections which were then digitized and made available as an online scrapbook. Initial submission by 260 institutions resulted in over 13,000 contributed items, and Ohio Memory continues to grow.

Most of the contributing organizations are public libraries, and some are university libraries. Other organizations such as historical societies, government institutions, special libraries, religious archives also contribute to the collection.

What kind of genealogical resources are available at Ohio Memory?

A wide-variety of materials make up Ohio Memory including:

  • Early Ohio state history
  • American Indians
  • The Civil War
  • World War I
  • Maps
  • Drawings
  • Paintings
  • Archaeological artifacts
  • Photographs
  • Journals
  • Objects
  • Oral Histories (audio and video)
  • Newspapers
  • Yearbooks
  • Present Day government records

All 88 Ohio counties are represented in the Ohio Memory collection.

Tips for Searching for Records at Ohio Memory

Everything at Ohio Memory is digital and keyword searchable thanks to Optical Character Recognition (OCR). However, they do sometimes connect back to other catalog records.

Search Tip: Finding Images at Ohio Memory
When you use the search box on the home page you will be searching both the text and the metadata provided by the contributor. If you want to search just visual items (photos, images, etc.) select “exclude full text sources.”

It’s important to use keywords relevant to the time period that you are searching. Restrict your format to what you want right from the homepage.

Historical Newspapers at Ohio Memory

The newspaper collection of Ohio Memory does not overlap with the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America collection, but they are all part of the same story and collection. They have contributed a large amount of newspapers to Chronicling America over the years. At last count there are a million pages between the two collections.

Ohio Memory focuses on titles and time periods different from the content on Chronicling America. At Ohio Memory you’ll find deeper runs of newspapers and more recent newspapers. New newspaper content is being added regularly.

They also have some very early newspapers that are significant to Ohio history such as the Ohio State Journal which was the paper of record for Ohio during the 19th century. The Ohio State Journal collection covers 1830-1875 an important time period in Ohio’s growth and the Civil War.

The Lebanon Western Star newspaper from southwest Ohio near Cincinnati and Kings Island is another important newspaper. It covers Ohio history from a more rural area.

Old Yearbooks at Ohio Memory

A lot of Ohio Memory’s public library partners have access to yearbook collections through their partnerships with local schools. Many have worked to digitize their materials and put them on Ohio Memory. Some are quite early, some more recent although not very recent due to privacy concerns.

Many of the yearbooks at Ohio Memory come from northwest and northeast Ohio. You’ll also find student histories from southwest Ohio from a couple of universities, as well as other related materials such as student photos.

Is Ohio Memory Free?

Yes! They used to have one collection that was behind a pay wall. That was the Underground Railroad Wilbur H Siebert collection which features information about underground railroad activities in Ohio and beyond. It’s a strong resource for looking at research methods of the era, and the stories of how the underground railroad operated. That collection was opened up a couple of years ago and has remained free.

Ohio Memory Help Resources

Videos, an FAQ and search guides are available to help you learn how to dig into the Ohio Memory website. You can also reach Ohio Memory by email for additional assistance.

The Future of Ohio Memory

They continue to digitize and add new materials based on their strategic goals. Recently they focused on President Warren G. Harding since it is the 100th anniversary of his election. They are continuing to add more content to that collection.

Ohio Memory has about 40 active partners around the state that are choosing items from their own collections for inclusion. Examples include Wood County in northwest Ohio, Mount Saint Joseph University and the Sister of Charity in the Cincinnati area. They welcome new partners every year.

Copyright and Usage at Ohio Memory

While you may or may not find things specifically about your ancestors, Ohio Memory offers a wonderful opportunity to find things that help fill in their story and their community.

You are free to use items for educational and personal use without needing extra permission. If you’re a family historian and you are wanting to put a picture in a presentation for your family or you just want to keep it with your own research records, you are welcome to do so.

Jenni Salamon, Ohio Memory’s Digital Services Manager says that if you want to post something on social media, simply include a link back to the Ohio Memory site so others know where it came from Ohio Memory. If you want to use an item for a formal publication or commercial use, contact Ohio Memory. Copyright varies by item and research is required.

Record Collection #2: 

Freedmen’s Bureau Records

FamilySearch’s Freedmen’s Bureau Project website: http://www.discoverfreedmen.org
Guest: Thom Reed, Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer FamilySearch International

FamilySearch is always busy bringing new, exciting and unique record collections to genealogists, and the Freedmen’s Bureau records certainly fall into that category. FamilySearch Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer at FamilySearch, Thom Reed spearheaded the project.

What was the Freedman’s Bureau?

The Freedmen’s Bureau (known as The Bureau of Refugees Freedmen and Abandoned Lands) was established shortly after the Civil War to help newly freed individuals and poor Southerners get back on their feet and start anew.

The Department of the Army established the Freedmen Bureau field offices and local offices in 15 states and the District of Columbia where people could seek assistance. Many African Americans who had been enslaved were on their own and they needed, work, food and housing. In the course of administering that help the government kept great records. These records were sometimes the first records of African Americans in this country. Many had not been documented before, or perhaps were only listed by first name. These records form a sort of bridge between the “1870 brick wall” often found in African American research and earlier records.

Freedmen’s Bureau Years of Operation

The Freedmen’s Bureau operated between 1865-1872. It was difficult to maintain. After it closed, other programs surfaced. In some cases, states took over the programs.

What types of records can be found in Freedmen’s Bureau Records?

While not all the records created by the Freedmen’s Bureau are genealogically relevant, many are.

Freedmen’s Bureau Records Include:

  • Labor contracts
  • Apprenticeship records
  • Solemnized marriages
  • Education records
  • Hospital records
  • Court documents and complaints
  • Food Ration records
  • Correspondence (this is the majority of the records and may name people)
  • Banking records

The Freedmen’s Bureau Project

The Freedmen’s Bureau Project extracted the genealogically relevant information so that volunteers could index it and make it searchable. This effort resulted in 1, 783,463 names being made searchable.

There’s also pages and pages of documentation that are not yet indexed. They didn’t index a lot of the correspondence. You will need to use the finding aids, descriptive guides and pamphlets and go through and look at the images. All of the images are available online to view.

The Freedmen’s Bureau Project was completed in 2016, just 366 days since it began.

FamilySearch partnered with many organizations and 25,550 volunteers to complete the project including:

  • The National Archives and Records Administration
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • They opened in 2016, and as a gift FamilySearch gave them the database.
  • Societies include the Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society – several of their 35 chapter across the United States assisted with the indexing.

How to Access the Freedmen’s Bureau Records

You can access the Freedmen’s Bureau records though FamilySearch or the Discover Freedmen website.

Where you start depends on what you want to do and what you know. For many people, Discover Freedmen is a good place to start. You can simply enter your ancestor’s first and last name and it will search all of the indexed collections that they have available at FamilySearch including the Freemen Bank records which was a separate entity from the Freedmen’s Bureau. It will allow you to search all of those record collections together and show you where that name appears.

If you know the location or the specific type of record you are interested in, you may want to go directly to FamilySearch and start searching.

The Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Bank

The Freedmen’s Bank was a separate entity from the Freedmen’s Bureau. It was based in Washington D.C. After the war it allowed newly freed individuals to deposit their funds in a bank account and start to establish some kind of wealth.

The Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Bank operated from 1865 to 1874, just a little bit longer than the Freedmen’s Bureau.

The interesting thing about their deposit records is that to be a depositor you had to include information about your family and where you lived. This means that in these records you may find entire family groups listed in a depositor’s application. You could find a husband and wife, all their children, where they lived, and in some instances who they were formerly enslaved by.

Unfortunately, due to mismanagement and other financial issues, they closed. However, the  records remain. The National Archives and Records Administration held those records for years, and FamilySearch indexed them back in 2001. Over 469,000 names and the associated digitized images can be found in the collection database at Familysearch.

Learn more about the Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Bank Records here.

Part 3: Photo Restoration and Animation Video

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day I did some restoration work on an old photograph of my great, great, grandmother that was taken in the 1920s. She came to American from Limerick Ireland in the 1850s. Here’s the process I followed to create it:

  1. Digitize the image at the highest resolution possible.
  2. Restore the photo first – I use the free Adobe Photoshop Fix app on my phone.
  3. Head to MyHeritage and use the Enhancer tool to further improve the image.
  4. Then use MyHeritage’s Colorization tool if desired.
  5. Apply MyHeritage’s Deep Nostalgia tool to animate the face.
  6. I compiled the images and rendered the final video using Camtasia. This video software program made it possible to transition from photo to animation and back again.

(These are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you for supporting the free show.)

Learn more about Irish Research and how I busted my brick wall in Elevenses with Lisa Episode 18. (Premium membership required.)


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