31 Aug 2013

My Grandmother At Work 100 Years Ago

My grandmother at work 100 years ago: Frieda Hann Loe (second from right) worked as a seamstress and tailor her entire life in various Chicago sweatshops. She was born in 1896, two months after her father died, and left school after the 8th grade to help support her mother and siblings. My grandmother was about 17 in this photograph and had been been working full-time for about four years.


26 May 2012

Finding Hans Loe

Finding Hans Loe, my Norwegian great-grandfather, is very satisfying, especially in light of my floundering beginning efforts and not knowing enough about Norwegian records.

Is there anything more satisfying that figuring out primary source records in another language? I don’t think so! And Norway may be the exception to the rule that it’s easier to do overseas research in SLC than it is in the country in question.

Some time ago, I wrote of my attempts at Norwegian genealogical research to find the birth and baptism of Hans Christensen Loe in 1854. This included a fruitless visit to the Family History Library.

I was getting nowhere fast, until I discovered the National Archives of Norway (Arkivverket). They also have a Digitalarkivet containing scanned census and parish registers. This vast digital set of primary sources is free to everyone. I also found a tutorial that helps you navigate the records. Marvelous!

I’d done some reading about Norwegian naming conventions and patronymics, but then I found […]

22 Jul 2011

ISGS Ancestor Photo Contest Winners

I’m delighted to say that the photograph of my grandmother, Frieda Hann Loe, at work in a Chicago sweatshop c. 1912 has been selected as one of 12 winners in the Illinois State Genealogical Society’s Ancestor Photo Contest.

Visit ilgensoc.org to see the other winners.


29 Jan 2011

Looking for Hans Loe

Today I’m writing about how I started looking for Hans Loe, my Norwegian great-grandfather.

It’s only three letters, but if I had a quarter for every time I’ve had to spell my last name, spell it again, and still ask to have the “w” removed, I could fund a dozen instant research trips to Europe, just like I was starring in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are. (Seriously, those celebrities who learn what country they’re from and the next day they jet over to check it out give me a pain.)

In the fall of 2007, I started a serious search for my father’s father’s father’s line, despite knowing little about Norway or nothing of the language. Family lore provided only this:

Hans Loe came to Chicago from a town called Drammen in Norway at some unknown date.
His last name used to be Christianson, but it got somehow changed along the way.
He […]