Back in August we made the momentous “CD closeout” decision — that we would discontinue selling our historical and genealogical CD-ROMs, and gradually migrate the contents of our CDs to downloads.
Well, it’s been happening! We’ve eliminated around a dozen of our CDs as the inventory sold out, and we’re making progress migrating their contents to download format.
There have been three positive results of the CD closeout so far:
–A number of smaller, less significant publications that were once lurking on CDs with little publicity are now available as individual downloads — with their own catalog entries. People can actually find them! Eventually they may even show up on Google!
–We’ve saved time and money. When you deal with physical inventory — creating the CDs, reproducing them, maintaining the inventory, and shipping them — you spend more time, effort, and money than one would think. The net result is that we have more time to spend finding more historical and genealogical material and making it available to you.
–Our customers have saved time, money, and helped avoid clutter. Saved money? Yes! When we discontinued our Canaan, CT CD ($20) we replaced it with three downloads. If you bought all three, you would barely spend half that. And we doubt many people will buy all three. The clutter speaks for itself — we never devised a perfect way for storing CDs of our own so we could find things when we needed them, and it’s easy to store downloads on your hard drive. And time: we figure that it costs us two or three minutes each time we need to put a CD in and wait for it to crank up, and then to go through it to find what we want, and we suspect it was wasting your time too. Furthermore, downloads arrive instantaneously. CDs come by postal mail. Enough said about that!
We do have some CDs left in inventory. We’ll continue to sell them until they’re gone. Here’s what left:
If one of these matches your research interests, we do advise you to act now. Once the CDs are gone, the material on them goes into the queue awaiting republication as downloads. There, they vie for priority with the new material we’re working our way through, so it could be a year or more before material on a discontinued CD is again available. A word to the wise should be sufficient!
As always, thanks to our faithful customers. It’s you whom we do this for, and even as the CD closeout continues, it’s your needs we try to satisfy. We try never to forget that.
Suffield history and genealogy took a step forward this week, as we re-published some documents that should be genuinely helpful.
Here are the four:
Suffield Quarter Millennial — this book encompasses the history of Suffield, CT from its founding until the time of the celebration, is also the program for the celebration, and has tons of additional Suffield information in it.
An annual report from Suffield’s Congregational Church. Town (and church) history, lists of pastors, lists of members and also “absent members”
A Sagitta yearbook from Suffield High School
A package of miscellany, including an article from the first volume of the Connecticut Quarterly, a short excerpt from the Connecticut Guide, and a lot of photos.
You can find all this Suffield history and genealogy on our Suffield page on our main website. If Suffield, CT is of interest to you, have a look today!
Introduction to Gertrude Barber’s Records of Sullivan County, NY
By Geoffrey Brown, Between the Lakes Group LLC
Astonishingly few records exist today of people who lived in Sullivan County in the old days. Consequently, genealogical and historical research has been difficult at best — and impossible at worst — in all of Sullivan County. Gertrude Barber was, almost single-handedly, responsible for much of what we do have today.
Many factors – too many to discuss here – contributed (some still contribute) to this lack of record keeping and record retention. However, due to the shortage of records, those of us who seek to research in Sullivan County are frequently driven to accept not what we would want or expect, but what is available, regardless of deficiencies.
Enter Gertrude Barber
We really do not know what motivations inspired Gertrude Barber, nor do we actually know much about the woman, who died in Brooklyn in 1974. The staff of the Department of Genealogy and Local History of the New York Public Library described her as a Brooklyn resident, who began around 1929 to collect cemetery inscriptions and church records in Sullivan County, and who continued from there to collect elsewhere in New York State.
During the summers, Ms. Barber would travel to her current locale of choice, visit the graveyards and record what she could make out of gravestone inscriptions. Soon, she expanded her project to include capturing such church records and records of wills as she was able to locate and gain access to.
It appears that she collected within Sullivan County mainly for two summers, those of 1929 and 1930. During the following winters she typed up her notes, in six carbons, in her home in Brooklyn, bringing a copy to the librarians at the New York Public Library and disseminating the other copies to other libraries that indicated an interest in them. One of the older librarians at the New York Public described to this writer her wintertime visits bringing her typescripts for them.
We first became aware of her transcriptions at the New York Public Library, and it is to them – and, of course, to Ms. Barber — that we owe a massive debt of gratitude that we have the information she transcribed in an easily accessible form today.
You can read more about Gertrude Barber and get a sense of the other New York State locations she visited and transcribed in this article about her HERE.
As grateful as we are to Gertrude Barber today for her huge contribution to genealogy in Upstate New York, there were a few deficiencies in her work that deserve mention simply to avoid raising false hopes.
First, Ms. Barber’s survey was not comprehensive. As an example, she collected the old section (the oldest, but probably the smallest section today) of the Liberty, NY cemetery, but did not do the newer portions. (To our knowledge, those much larger newer sections have not yet been collected by anyone, sadly.) She certainly overlooked other cemeteries, particularly the very small ones that one occasionally saw around the county fifty years ago that are now gone completely. In Liberty, she covered the church records to which she had access, but notably these did NOT include the principal “downtown” churches of Liberty at that time: Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Episcopal. Finally, she either did not locate, could not gain access to, or could not read any records of what was already becoming the substantial Jewish population of the Town of Liberty, nor did she record any of the Jewish cemeteries in the county. Likely she did not know Hebrew, in which many of the stones are written, so the task would have verged on the impossible for her.
The second defect is in the records themselves and her transcription of them. First off, gravestone inscriptions can be very difficult to read if the stone has been eroded or if moss and lichens have grown over it. Of course, if the stone is broken off or buried or defaced or stolen, the data is simply missed. She mentions problems with some stones in most of the cemeteries she collected. Second, with the church records, many of the pastors or church clerks who originally recorded them had little interest in spelling. For the most part, surnames had stabilized in terms of spelling by the time the earliest of these records were originally set down, but spelling of surnames in some of the records is creative at best. Handwriting was also likely a factor here; we have not seen the original record books, so we do not really know what kind of legibility problems Ms. Barber faced.
Ms. Barber also was not a Sullivan County native — at least as far as we know she was not. Hence, she had no familiarity with the family names typical of area, and doubtless made uninformed assumptions about spellings when transcribing. Some of the German family names in the western portion of the County seem to have really given her fits.
Her technology, while typical of the era in which she worked, was not what one might have wished for. Any time you are dealing with multiple carbon copies, typed on a manual typewriter, legibility inevitably suffers. Today we easily forget just how hard it was to make corrections on six carbons when typing. The consequences today are that the characters are sometimes blurred, there are overstrikes that make letters – and occasionally strings of letters – unintelligible.
Another defect was with Ms. Barber’s indexing skills. Fortunately, this is one defect that we can do something about. While she did index some of the records for Sullivan County, we surmise that her methodology was not the greatest, and since they are not up to the standard of her data collection, in our reprints of her work we have chosen to omit her indices. Instead of including them, we have indexed many of her records in this section, and where we have done so, our index appears with our republications. When using our indexes, please be aware that we suffered with the same problems of legibility that Ms. Barber no doubt did when collecting the records. What we saw was what we indexed.
One might say from these notes that we are being very critical, perhaps even unfair to Ms. Barber, but that is not our intent. Given the limitations at hand, she did an admirable job. More important, she was the ONLY PERSON WHO APPEARS TO HAVE DONE THE JOB AT ALL!
Even with the limitations of her records, we, seventy five years after she collected this material, say “THANK YOU” to Gertrude Barber for her dedication, patience, and generosity in spending a few years creating this rare compendium of Sullivan County records for us to use today.
What we offer
We offer in download form most of the Sullivan County records that Mrs. Barber transcribed and produced in typescript form — at least those that found their way to the New York Public Library.
The Centennial Book of Liberty, NY is one of the less frequently seen documents of the history of that township. We’re indebted to Denny Birmingham for lending us her copy of this now-scarce document for copying and re-publication.
What’s in it?
First, and most obviously, there are pictures – lots of them. Most of the important building are shown, both commercial establishments and residences as well. There are photos that illustrate the original settlement on Revonah in a way that makes it comprehensible to people living today. (An interesting note here: the name of the mountain had already changed from Hanover to Revonah when this book was published – often the date of the change is assumed to coincide with anti-German sentiment during World War I.) The photos of the residences are fascinating as one tries to recognize the houses of today’s Liberty among them. Most of the photos have been seen elsewhere, but the collection is a good one.
The text is very useful since it amplifies on the early history found in Quinlan’s History, and also fills in details of the years following Quinlan’s publication in 1872. While the photos are a bit hard to relate to people today, there are also photographs of some of the leading citizens.
As mentioned, it is a modest book for a centennial volume, at least compared with some of this genre we have seen. However, we think it will be useful to anyone with an interest in Liberty today and in its past. We have compiled and included an index of the book including all names mentioned which should be helpful to those using the book for research only and not reading it through.
How to get the Centennial Book of Liberty, NY
Well, we happen to sell it as a download!
Want more information? CLICK HERE to go to the Liberty, NY page on our main website, where you can read a bit more about it and download it.
We’ve just re-published the 1942 Libertas yearbook from Liberty High School in Liberty, Sullivan County, New York.
You can be excused if your immediate response is “What? You’ve published another Liberty High School yearbook? What’s your plan? To re-publish all of them?”
To tell the truth, we wouldn’t mind re-publishing all of Liberty High’s historic yearbooks, but realism tells us that we could never possibly find copies of all of them to scan — which gets us around to why the 1942 Libertas is different and interesting.
A Wartime Yearbook
First of all, it is a wartime yearbook! Published only months after Pearl Harbor, it is still the only example from Liberty High School that we have of this genre. There are many things that this yearbook has in common with non-wartime yearbooks (it has all the usual contents, for example, including photos with names of grades seven through twelve, and abundant advertisements) but the moment you pick the original up you notice that it has a soft cover rather than the typical hardbound book cover.
Later in the war, yearbooks began to reflect a nation actively gearing to to support the war efforts. Later yearbooks included lists of students who had left high school to serve and, eventually, in memoriam pages for those who would not be returning home.
Nonetheless, this is indeed a wartime yearbook. We think it’s worth a look. You can do so, and, if you wish, purchase a download of it, on our Liberty, NY page. CLICK HERE to go directly there.
Back in the years preceding and following the dawn of the 20th century, the larger Sullivan County, NY, villages, such as Liberty and Monticello, had their own Methodist Episcopal (what the Methodists used to be called) churches with full-time clergy. However, the smaller villages and hamlets might have had a church building, but the clergy was shared between several villages. If you’ve heard the term “circuit rider” that’s what these clergy were. They carried the records of each of the churches with them as they rode the circuit.
In the Town of Liberty, in Sullivan County, NY, there was a circuit that served White Sulphur Springs (then called Robertsonville), Swan Lake (then called Stevensville), and Harris (then known as Strongtown). A succession of ministers served that circuit, and their compiled records are available to us, thanks to the diligence of Gertrude Barber back in 1929.
About church records
Church records, with variations depending upon denomination, tend to have records of liturgical events: baptisms, confirmations (“joining the church”), marriages, and funerals, with occasional lists of all the members of a particular church at a particular point in time. In an area that did not have state-mandated capture of birth, marriage, and death statistics until rather late (and then it was not infrequently neglected), church records can be the most important source of such data, surpassing even family Bibles due to their concentration of information about a locality.
Methodist Church Records: Town of Liberty, NY Circuit
We had previously included this compilation on one of our Memories of Liberty CD-ROMs, but now that we have discontinued our CD line, this one gets to stand on its own. For anyone with ancestors in the more rural parts of the Town of Liberty, or someone interested in the history of these areas, this collection is very important. We’ve also compiled our own index of the records.
Please CLICK HERE to see more information and to download this collection.
Gertrude Barber’s compilation of the Fulton-Fraser Cemetery in Ferndale, a hamlet in the Town of Liberty, New York was an achievement of hers in the 1929-1930 timeframe.
Her typescripts, done at a time when few perceived much value in collecting such information, have become a genealogical mainstay for those researching in Sullivan County, New York, and this cemetery, another in the Town of Liberty, is another example of her work.
We do not know the current status of this cemetery, or even where in Ferndale it is (or was?) located. We can hope that today it is known by another name and is being cared for. However, her description of the run-down state of the cemetery nearly a century ago suggests that this may not be the case, and, assuming that it continued to decline, it is worth considering that a compilation like this might not even be possible today. This compilation includes our own index.
CLICK HERE to access the main Liberty, NY page on our website for additional information and to download.
These inscriptions were collected by Gertrude Barber (1929-1930) as part of her effort to capture the rapidly disappearing local history of many Sullivan County communities.
Gertrude Barber, the person who collected and transcribed the gravestone inscriptions of the Old Liberty cemetery, one of a number she collected in the 1929-1930 period, deserves our thanks for this effort. She spent her summers in the Sullivan County area collecting church and cemetery records, and during the winters transcribed her work using a manual typewriter and six carbons, which she deposited in major libraries that showed an interest in her work. Not all did. Not many people at the time were interested in this kind of material, or in this geographical area, and were it not for her efforts, much of the information on these stones would eventually be lost. No doubt some already is.
We regret that she did not get around to collecting all of the cemeteries in Sullivan County, but we are grateful for those she did do. There are no doubt errors in her copying and transcription. Again, because of the magnitude – and difficulty — of the copying and transcription task she undertook we readily forgive her errors and are thankful again that she undertook the task at all.
We are delighted to make this compilation of the old section of the Liberty, Sullivan County, New York cemetery, together with the index we compiled of it, available as a download.
Please CLICK HERE to go to the Liberty page of our main website for more information and to download Gravestone Inscriptions of the Old Liberty Cemetery.
The Liberty High School Annual for 1919 was the first-ever yearbook Liberty High School published.
High school yearbooks are one form of history within which everyone is recorded when they graduate from high school. They, and their community, are frozen at a point in time that the yearbook captures and keeps. Haircuts, clothes, friends, teachers, the sense of humor of the era, the area businesses – they are all captured as they were, not as we choose to remember them or tell our children they were back in the good old days.
1919 versus today
The class of 1919 graduated before a period of major social change, as a cursory examination of the yearbook will demonstrate. First off, the size of the class demonstrated the extent to which completion of a high school education was not a general expectation. In a community that had not changed that much in size between 1919 and the later, post WWII yearbooks we republish, this graduating class is tiny. Viewing the credentials of the faculty, it’s clear that the expectation that a high school teacher would have even a baccalaureate degree is a creature of the near-century that elapsed since this class graduated.
The function of the yearbook has also changed, quite clearly. More recent yearbooks are almost entirely about the class graduating, and on the activities in which they were participants. This issue turns the focus back to those who went to Liberty High School in previous years, even decades. From our point of view today, capturing this much news about Liberty High School alumni dating back into the previous century (the first class with alumni reporting was the class of 1893) is a book for those searching for a larger population than a single year’s graduating class.
You’ll not be surprised that we’re offering the Liberty High School Annual for 1919 as a download. Interested? CLICK HERE to see it on our main website.
We’re happy to republish a remarkable history of Paxton, Massachusetts, written by a person who without question knew more about the history of Paxton, MA than anyone else living at the time she prepared it. Roxa Howard Bush was a careful and very complete local historian of Paxton, and despite the brevity of her book (62 pages of text, plus pictures), it is a remarkably complete study of the history of the Town of Paxton. The book was privately printed in 1923. We do not know the number of copies printed, but we do know that few copies are still extant and even fewer available in the rare book market.
Unlike many local histories that are long on flowery language and short on names, places, and dates, Landmarks and Memories of Paxton is densely packed with names, and for that reason will be of particular interest to family historians and genealogists.
If you live now in the Paxton area, or if your ancestors lived there at one time, we suspect you will find this summary of the local history of Paxton and its people essential.
CLICK HERE to go to the page on our main website about Landmarks and Memories of Paxton, MA and how to purchase the download of it.