6 Oct 2010

WorldCat, the World’s Largest Library Catalog

Today’s Follow Friday is about WorldCat, a union catalog of libraries all over the world that report their collections using OCLC, the bibliographic network utility. WorldCat used to be available only to libraries who use OCLC, but they’ve opened up the database to everyone in the last few years.

When I first started out working as a professional librarian (roughly the same time the earth’s crust was cooling), reference works were only available in print. It seems a trifle unbelievable now, but renowned libraries made their 3×5 card catalogs available to specialty publishers, who in turn made a handsome living printing gigantic multi-volume sets of copies of those card catalogs. If your library wasn’t distinguished enough to warrant a published card catalog, you had to either go or call the library to see if they owned the book you wanted.

The holy grail for many libraries, especially those in geographic consortia, was the union […]

28 Sep 2010

Wyatt Anderson Daniel, Died 1942 in Uravan, Colorado

Today’s Tombstone Tuesday is about Wyatt Anderson DANIEL, who died in Uravan, Colorado, in 1942. It’s also about unheralded loss, synchronicity, and wonders of genealogy on the Internet.

My mother-in-law died long before I met my husband. He told me his mother’s first husband had died in an accident, perhaps in a mine, and his name was Wyatt, and they had been very happy together.

I searched, without success and using a variety of names, and decided to concentrate the  Curtises, his mother’s line. They are a prolific family who settled Connecticut in the early seventeenth century and then moved across the country, finding time it seems to have a family member at every major historical event in the history of the United States. Quite a contrast to my polyglot assortment of nineteenth-century immigrants.

So when we decided to take a big road trip last spring, I was determined to go through southwest […]

17 Jun 2010

Parker Cemetery on the Spoon River, Knox County, Illinois


My husband has the most interesting family history by far and of course only a mild interest in his genealogy. He’s wonderful – I wouldn’t want to count the number of hours he’s waited while I looked up “just one thing” (times about a hundred) in a courthouse or library. Recently we took a marathon road trip from California to Chicago and back, hitting as many cemeteries as we could.

The best cemetery we found on this trip is a tiny, almost abandoned family cemetery on the banks of the Spoon River in Knox County, Illinois. We needed our GPS to find this place, at the end of a rutted lane too small for our car. It was really a lovely peaceful place, with wild violets and deer and the river running just below the cemetery’s bluff.

I found exactly who I was looking for: my husband’s great-great grandmother Mary Kinsley Curtis, who died […]