Archive for the ‘default’ Category

Onondaga County Public Library Upgrades Digital Catalog

Tuesday October 23, 2007, The Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) has just upgraded their on-line and in-library catalog, up to the latest technology. OCPL has their complete catalog on the newest version of Polaris Library System’s “Find Tool.”

This is just about the easiest to use and one of the fastest digital library catalogs that I have ever seen or used yet. You have the choices of using traditional keyword searches with title, author, subject, and you can also search using other categories that you might know of, such as general notes, publisher, genre, series, ISSN, LCCN, publisher number, SuDoc, CODEN or STRN.

Using the traditional methods of title or author I am very impressed with the speed at which this system returns your desired answers. For researchers looking for an obscure genealogical title I encourage you to check their new catalog system out. It is all free to use by anyone, from anywhere, and most of their huge Local History / Genealogy collection has not yet been uploaded to the system, so you just might locate a very rare or unique item that you need for your research right here in Syracuse, NY.

You can even subscribe to an RSS feed for information on new titles of books or media as they become available.

The OCPL catalog may be found at

Information on Polaris Library System may be found at

Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy

NEHGS and Ancestry Join Forces

The latest news coming through the ether is that the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston has joined in a partnership with the ever growing and newsworthy !

There are special discounts for memberships and purchases, for instance, to start, all current NEHGS members can purchase’s U.S. Deluxe membership, normally priced at $155.40, for only $99.95!

Additionally, if your NEHGS membership has lapsed, or if you’ve been putting off joining the NEHGS family, this is a terrific time to rejoin. You can purchase both an NEHGS annual Research membership and a U.S. Deluxe membership together for one low price of $155.40.

Both organizations are predicting great things for the future through this collaboration.

If you have any questions or would like more information, call the NEHGS membership office at 888-296-3447.

Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy now on

Readers may remember that I have blogged before about the marvelous maps, all in original color, that have been available at See my previous blogs at:, and here:

Well now they have just notified me that you can now access all of their gorgeous maps by having an account with The difference is that with ancestry you will be able to view the maps in full size scans, and you will be able to copy and paste them into your genealogies or printout various sizes of these maps. If you already have an account at Ancestry and are logged on, then you can go right to the new map section here:

Today’s news is all a twitter in the genealogy world because of the announcement that ancestry and the parent company, Generations Network, has been bought out by a large investment group, Spectrum Equity Investors, for numbers reported to be 300 million dollars.

As long as Ancestry keeps adding databases like the historicmapworks collection, they will get my full support.

Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy

Looking for early newspapers in New York State?

Read any good newspapers lately?

Here are some ideas and places to search for information on early newspapers in any area of New York State.

First I go to the New York State Library Newspaper Project website and catalog at: . You can see what the library has on microfilm in their collection, all of which may be ordered for your own use through inter-library loan (IIL.) There is also a way that you can purchase any of these microfilms, at a fairly reasonable rate.

The NYS Library has been VERY serious about locating and filming any holdings of early NYS newspapers. They have scoured museums and archives all over, as well as private holdings that desired to have their papers preserved. Many of these films were created by the state library and some were purchased as duplicates of other original film holders. The above website is very helpful to see what is EASILY available.

Next I go to French’s NYS Gazetteer of 1860, (which is the VERY best tool for NYS research IMHO,) and in the footnotes at the start of each county section is a very detailed description of all of the newspapers that were known to have ever been published for each county to the knowledge of Mr. French or his canvassers, as of 1860.

If you do not have your own copy of French’s in your personal library yet, shame on you \grin/, you may download a free digital version from I keep it on a thumb drive on a lanyard around my neck when I’m traveling, no kidding!

Now the chances of some runs of a newspaper, or even some holdings of individual newspapers that are not in the above catalog “might” still exist. One or two issues might have been found in an old trunk, or lined the bottom of a bureau drawer, or hopefully not a parrot cage. But you get the idea, you will have to search for them.

Try google for the paper’s name in quotes, which you get from French’s, or search for the publisher’s name, or go on the county GenWeb site. You can get to every county GenWeb site very easily by going to my website at and clicking on “NY COUNTIES & CENSUS,” and then when you click on each county name it takes you directly to that county website. You will have to keep digging and don’t give up. They are out there.

Another massive collection of all early newspapers from anywhere, are at the American Antiquarian Society, in Worcester, Mass. You can go there and actually handle the originals if you want the real warm and fuzzies. Better though, many of their holdings are also now being microfilmed and being made available for public use, usually through subscription based services like, genealogybank, and probably more. Do a search for “early American newspapers.” Be sure also to check the Family History Library in Salt Lake City at Click on their library/library catalog. Hey, you never know!

Always check the county GenWeb site or the rootsweb message boards also. If you do make any fantastic discoveries of films that are not at the NYS Library, please let me know and I will blog about my new best friend.

Have fun!

Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy

The NYG&B Society will be saying goodbye to the book collection

Dear readers please keep an eye out for the summer issue of “The Researcher,” the newsletter of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, (G&B.)

The chairman will describe in terms barely more understandable than those of the illustrious Professor Irwin Corey, that the G&B has a bright future. To tell you the truth, I do not know exactly what this report says. When I first heard some rumors about this current announcement, it had been interpreted by some that the G&B was going to dissolve and the collections were going to be sold. That is not what it says, or not yet, anyway.

You will be told that the trustees have been working hard, very hard. (This sounds very presidential.) Shouldn’t trustees be “trusted?” You will read that the trustees believe that the books are the most important part of the society and that they are very heavy and take up a lot of space. You will not read about the heart and soul of the society. You will not read about the intent and meaning of all of the hard work, the volunteers, the financial support, the donations of books and manuscripts that built this society. You will not read about the builders of this golden girl of history. You will read that by September 2007 you “will be told” what the board’s decision is as to where they will be moving to. Remember, the former members have no input in this decision process at all now, after they voted to disenfranchise themselves.

One of the places being considered to take the books to is a lovely spot on the “Historic Hudson Valley.” Well that rang a bell to me and I went surfing through the Internet and found a Better Business Bureau report on-line that explains that the non-profit organization by that name is in violation of several required terms that need to be adhered to by law. You can read this yourself if you would like. For what it is worth, I had a hard time surfing to this url because it had been posted on the Internet so long that the secure certificate had expired and evidently the terms had still not been met yet, but would expire in September 2008. On the BBB website you will note that the chairman of the G&B earns a tidy quarter of a million plus per year for his work at Historic Hudson Valley. Do you see any pattern here?

BBB website at:

(I had to just keep clicking yes in order to punch through the security certificate, but I did not have any problem accessing this website.)

Oh by the way, if you notice the current website of the G&B at you will see that the trustees are still allowing new members to send in their membership applications and fees that range all the way from $60 per annum, up to $7,500 for a corporate life membership. This is to a society that does not accept members. Does any of this seem improper to you.

I for one, still feel like my favorite granny is being thrown out with the bathwater.

One of my biggest fears is that there will be no sesquicentennial.

Save the G&B.

Dick Hillenbrand

Upstate New York Genealogy

Update on

This is an update on Read previous Blog here:

This is a subscription site, however some of the features may be checked before subscribing. Their company seems to primarily be in the business of selling map reprints, however their county atlases and wall maps can be viewed and zoomed in on to locate your ancestor’s place of residence.

These scans are gorgeous and very high quality from the original documents, most are in original color. There are competing services being offered on-line now, however some of those are of black and white reproductions of these same maps and the quality is quite a bit poorer than the ones offered by historicmapworks. I use these maps all the time to locate families of interest and then pay particular attention to their close neighbors, as chances are pretty good that you will find that they married neighbors, and often other family members live nearby.

Their very fair subscription rates are a bargain.

Here is an announcement from their business department:

We just hit 50,000 maps online and are quite excited about starting work on getting all the illustrations of farmstead and family portraits which originally came in the atlases up as well. We have about 100,000 illustrations alone to put up in the future. NY atlases generally don’t have illustrations in them, however midwest atlases like Iowa below have many. Any atlas with the little icon of a man in silloette next to it, has an illustrations tab within. These are searchable by family name

Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy

Central New York Genealogical Society (CNYGS) "Tree Talks" County Packets

The Central New York Genealogical Society (CNYGS) has been publishing their journal “Tree Talks” since their inception. This is a journal of mostly transcribed records of original documents from normally obscure or hard to locate records.

“Tree Talks” has been publishing these records arranged by county in each of their issues. CNYGS now is offering “County Packets” which will include all of the previously published materials arranged by the county of your choice. This is an excellent resource and will help to break down several brick walls for sure.

By purchasing only the specific county or counties of interest, you will be able to narrow your search time immensely. The other great news is that they are working on a project to make an on-line index available. Some of the counties that the indexes are available for on-line at this time are: Allegany, Chenango, Clinton, Erie, Franklin, Greene, Hamilton, Orleans and Wyoming. More county indexes should become available as the volunteer members submit them.

A description of their county packet program and price list is here:

Membership information for CNYGS is here:

NYG&BS name change?

Is the NYG&BS going to change their familiar name?

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society was formed in 1869, and has for a long time been lovingly referred to by the membership and others as the “G&B.”

It is now likely that the “entire 15 members” of the newly revised society, in order to match their abbreviated membership rolls, will likely shorten their familiar name to “BS.” It is suspected that by not having to print the ampersand in all of their future publications that the society might be able to gain back the 100,000 dollars that they lost when the “former” members exercised their legal rights and held the Board of Trustees feet to the flames, so to speak.

Soon you should see the Login box on the society’s home page changed from “Member Login” to “Users and Contributors Login.” It is believed that the website programmers are having some difficulty fitting all of that into the same box.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Report on the bylaws changes voting at the NYG&B – "We’ll count them if we have to count them."


Report on NYG&B special meeting Thursday, July 19th 2007 at High Noon.

I came by train Wednesday night, only took 8 hours, instead of the normal five. Yeaah AMTRAK! Got to the door of the G&B exactly at 9:30 am, might as well do some research until the meeting starts, right? Wrong, the research library would be closed until 12:30. “I am a member; may I please wait inside in the meeting room?” “Well…” “I am supposed to meet Roger Joslyn here.” “I’m sorry; you will have to wait outside.” (Thinking, maybe this is not going to go well.)

The synagogue was set up with room for a couple hundred plus chairs, with a small platform in the center and a lectern with no audio system. It felt a little eerie with the dozen large dirt smudges on the walls where the former founders of the G&B used to be memorialized. Only one or two remain as they were bronze plaques that were built into the mortar and the new owners have not yet had a chance to remove them.

The chairman smiled and called the meeting to order at 12:23 and explained the procedure. I did not take an exact head count, maybe 50 – 60 people? I felt like an usher should have asked if I was a friend of the bride or groom, thinking which side should I sit on. I picked the middle.

A description of the procedure as to how the voting would be handled was given. Please limit remarks to three minutes. The chair recognized Leslie Corn, CG, FGBS, who read a prepared statement, (that I will attempt to get a copy of in digital format and post it here on this Blog,) that essentially made a “motion to postpone the vote on the proposed amendment of the Society’s bylaws eliminating the voting membership, until a date in the reasonably near future, so as to ensure that all voting members of the Society have the opportunity to cast their votes with full knowledge of the consequences of their actions, based on accurate and unbiased facts.” (Hmmm, sounds like lawyer speak.)

Seconds and thirds were unceremoniously shouted. The chairman smiled and said we would continue. I rose, was recognized and I repeated some of the above line and said that “There was a motion, seconded and must be voted on.” Chopped liver. We would not yet vote on the motion. Shouts of impropriety all around. The chairman smiled and said that “He wanted to hear from all members.” (Except Roberts, of course.)

An acknowledgment of the flurry of recent interest by all those Bloggers was given. The chairman said that when the G&B was founded that there had been no mention of members in the earliest bylaws of the society. When asked when members had been included, he smiled and said “he really didn’t know.”

There would still be members in the “colloquial sense.” (Cha-ching.) The assets of the society were to be under the control of the 15 member Board of Trustees, and that they were by law able to be watched over by the Attorney General’s Office of the Ultimate Charitable, something or other. They had a fiduciary responsibility.

The society’s attorney, Pamela Mann, spoke and said that she had formerly worked in the Attorney General’s office in that same department, and that she was extremely familiar with the rules and regulations. She mentioned that to her knowledge 100% of past investigations by that department had been in cases where charitable organizations were controlled by a Board instead of members. (Hmm, gee, I wonder why?)

She made the shocking announcement that the society had lost one hundred thousand dollars in interest on the 24 million dollar recent sale of the building due to the delays by the membership. (That was major news to most of us, as they had reported before the mere pittance of only a 24,000 dollar loss.)

The chairman smiled and said that he understood that there was a high level of distrust, but that the Board would always follow the letter of the law. He acknowledged that the present proposal was similar to the one at the NEHGS in Boston. When asked why there would be no oversight committee with partial voting rights in this proposal, he smiled and said “that they did not have time to consider it. “He really didn’t know.”

He described the expense and bother involved in members voting. He said that e-voting was not allowed by law in not-for-profits like ours. (Now, theirs.) Again, there would be members, but not named in the bylaws. They would be “Users and Contributors.”

He explained that they have a two year lease in this spot and that a decision would then be made as to where the G&B would go. Hankers rose again. Shouts by others of, “Where is your plan?” “What are the goals?” “What will happen to the collections?” “What about the books?” “What about publications?” I was not one of the shouters, but I was not the only person there with each of the above questions in the forefront of thoughts.

The chairman smiled, and said “he really didn’t know.” “They needed more time to study it.” “They were looking at a great many possibilities.” “He really didn’t know.” (Seems to me that a Board of Trustees should be a driving force, setting goals, making plans, forging ahead, leading.) As I said in a previous posting, “You will be told.”

The chairman stated that the Board cared enormously in regards to their stewardship of the society and the staff and the membership. Hmmm… He said that their publications were at the very heart and soul of the society. He “could not predict the future in regards to publications.” “He really didn’t know.”

He explained that. “The society was greatly challenged by the Internet.” (There’s a bulletin.) “They were not beholden to any interest group.”

The society before the voting had a 21 person Board of Trustees. Believe it or not, six of them were able to find their way through Manhattan to attend this rather unimportant meeting. Loud noises from behind me, “And not ONE professional genealogist on the Board!”

When asked if the proxy ballots that were returned that had been properly signed and dated, but that the member had not checked either box for yes or no, were to be counted? He said, “We will count them if we HAVE to count them.” (Huh?)

When asked why Leslie Corn’s original proposal was not being voted on, according to the rule, he smiled and said that first the proxy ballots would have to be counted as they were appointing Mr. McNeeley to cast not only their vote for or against the bylaws change, but that he could also represent them in all matters brought before this meeting. (For.. get.. it..) (There is no doubt in my mind that if the votes to delay the voting had been voted on by those present that it would have easily carried.)

A large number of members were respectfully acknowledged, most were calm, cool and collected, with well thought out statements or questions. Lots of smiles in response. (Comes from the confidence of one who has previously counted proxy ballots.) One Life Member rose and requested more than three minutes and acknowledged that he knew that from now on he would be known as a “Former Life Member.” (Yikes, consider the normal description of that phrase.)

I have a lot of notes and could report in further detail, but let’s cut to the chase.

When the proxies were counted it was 1,401 YES votes to 227 NO’s. There are reportedly just under 5,000 members.

Quite a lot of further discussion and comments were allowed after the vote. But sorry, “He really didn’t know…”

eBay get ready.

Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy

July 19th is a Famous Day in History.

19 July 1846 – The first Women’s Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York.
(Voting is such a wonderful right and privilege.)

19 July 1941 – Winston Churchill was the first to use the two fingers “V is for Victory” sign.
(Be confident and win through strength.)

19 July 2007 – The members of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society vote “NO” to defeat the bylaws modification that would take all of their membership rights away.
(Thanks to all concerned members.)

(If you are a recent reader of this blog, please click on other listings on the left side to read further on this subject.)

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