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D-Day: The Battle for Normandy - A Program

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

 

They must not go alone

into that burning building! – which today

is all of Europe!

 

(from Poem and Prayer for an Invading Army by Edna St Vincent Millay)

 

The dangers confronted by Canadian soldiers on June 6, 1944 are unfathomable to anyone who didn’t live through those times or fight those battles. For the most part we know war stories through the dramatization of film, through school lessons blurred by time, or the reluctant reminiscence of veterans. Unless you are a devout student of history you may not often get the chance to be the audience of empassioned, highly-informative presentations on subjects that continue to shape our lives, even 68 years later.

On Wednesday, June 6, the library offers such an opportunity as we host “D-Day: The Battle of Normandy”, presented by a military historian known to leave audiences dazzled and enlightened - Stephane Guevremont. Bringing the gems of his research to life, along with many of the actual artefacts in the form of rare film footage, photography, enlistment documentation or machinery maintenance reports, Guevremont’s presentations are guaranteed to engage you with history in a refreshing light.

Don’t miss Guevremont’s presentation on Canada’s critical contribution to the success of D-Day. The details:

 

Wednesday, June 6
7 - 9 p.m.
2nd floor, John Dutton Theatre
Central Library

Register in person, by calling 403-260-2620 or online.

 

Century Homes - A Guide to the Resources

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1402

Unidentified House in Calgary, ca 1910

Postcards from the Past, PC 1402

I have to mention it again, but I swear it will be the last time (for a while): 1912 was a very big year in this city. And despite our reputation as a city of demolition, there are still a good number of buildings still standing from that period. Your home may be one of them. I have posted before about the Century Homes project. We have held two very successful workshops, as part of this project, to introduce owners of homes that are 100 years or so old, to the resources available at the various libraries and archives. I thought I would put this list on the blog, so that anyone who is interested in doing this research can do so.

Calgary Public Library has the following resources – most are in our local history room on the 4th floor of the Central Library

  • Henderson’s Directories (early years also available at http://peel/library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/2961.html )
  • Maps
  • Lists of voters
  • Census records
  • Photographs (through the CHFH Digital Library http://cdm16114.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/)
  • Newspapers (clippings, digital, microfilm)
  • General Histories
  • Community Histories
  • Building Inventories
  • Architectural histories
  • Community Profiles
  • Plan Books
  • Catalogues (to see what the interiors might have looked like)
  • Promotional material

City of Calgary, Corporate Records, Archives has the following:

  • Historical assessment information
  • Building permits
  • Some photos and plans
  • Annexation information
  • Records from towns and villages (Bowness, Forest Lawn, Montgomery, Crescent Heights) that became part of the City

Glenbow Museum, Library and Archives has these resources:

  • Directories
  • Fire Insurance Maps
  • Photograph collection
  • Selected Architectural plans
  • Personal Papers
  • Selected community information

(Update: Some fire insurance plans have been digitized by Library and Archives Canada and can be found by accessing their website: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/lac-bac/search/all and using the search term "fire insurance plan" <include the quotation marks> and the name of the location for which you are searching. )

These resources (and the outstanding staff at all of these repositories) are available to you to assist in your house research. You may want to check out the history of your house even if it is a relative “baby” in the city. You never know what you may find! There are links on the right side of the page to the Heritage Triangle brochure, which outlines the collection strengths of the three libraries/museums/archives above as well as a guide to doing building history in Calgary. This kind of research can turn up all kinds of interesting information. Come and talk to us if you’d like to get started.

PC 52

13th Avenue, Looking East

Postcards from the Past, PC 52

Ancestry Tips and Tricks

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Ancestry screen shot

Screen shot of Ancestry LE showing drop-down menu

Ancestry.com has just announced that it now has over ten billion records in its database. Wow! It wasn't all that long ago that I looked at the database and decided it didn't have enough Canadian or international content to make it worthwhile. Things change very quickly. Now I can’t imagine how we would function without our Ancestry LE subscription.

Of course, finding something in a database with 10 billion records can be something of a challenge. I liken it to being dropped in the National Library with the notion that somewhere there is a book with information about my family in it. Now go find it. Yikes, this could take a while.

There are a couple of fundamental strategies for finding information in a gargantuan collection such as this. The first thing I always recommend is for new users to look at either the Card Catalogue (you can find that by hovering over “Search” or clicking on the arrow beside “Search” on the front page of Ancestry LE) or by checking the locale where you are searching (you find the interactive map by clicking on “Search”). That way you can find out what records exist for the area you are searching. It pays to know what is in a database before you start searching. For example, if you are looking for a birth registration for someone in Alberta, you’d probably like to know that those records are not in Ancestry before you spend valuable time looking for them.

The next tip is to search one record set at a time. If you fire your name into the general search, you could turn up thousands of records, many of which are not relevant to you. By using the card catalogue to narrow the search down, you know that your results will be more likely to be relevant. Of course, this method requires that we know what we are looking for, which is one of the first rules of genealogy. It is always easier to find what you are looking for if you know what you are looking for (no matter what the advertising and “Who do you think you are?” say to the contrary.) If your search is for “grandmother’s birth record,” you have a better chance of success than if your search is for “everything about grandmother.”

Keep in mind, as well, that Ancestry LE has a great learning centre that can be accessed by clicking on “Help” in the upper right hand corner. There is a Wiki and an Answers section that can both be searched by keyword. It is a great resource to check if you are just starting out, or if you have encountered something in a record that you can’t figure out.

So, with those pointers in mind, visit us at any branch of the Calgary Public Library to try out Ancestry LE. You can access it with your library card number and PIN in any of our 18 branches. We've come a long way, from dusty originals to digitized records.

Ancestry LE interactive ma

Screen shot of Ancestry LE showing interactive map and tabs

The Times they are a Changin'

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Library and Archives Canada

Genealogists and local historians are people who love heritage – that is an obvious statement, I think. Genealogists and local historians are also people who understand the value of heritage and of the documents and artifacts that constitute that heritage. Here at the Calgary Public Library we put requests in for documents that are sometimes arcane, sometimes bizarre, but always valuable in the pursuit of our history. We often request these items from our national “memory keeper” Library and Archives Canada.

Changes are taking place at Library and Archives Canada, though, and they may have an effect on how we are able to access those documents that are so important to our research. Proposals for trimming the budget include reducing hours of service in the Library and Archives itself and ending LAC’s role in the national interlibrary loan program. There are also changes being made to what LAC will acquire and hold and who will be responsible for protecting the documents in the care of the national repository. These changes may have far reaching effects on those of us who rely on our national library to have and hold the literary output of our country.

Anyone who works in a library and most of you who use our library are aware that the way libraries do what they do will have to change. Library and Archives Canada has been noticing a decrease in in-person visits, with a corresponding upsurge in the use of their website. And, to be fair, the changes proposed for Library and Archives Canada do include the potential for increased digitization of the holdings that are most accessed. What scares many of us genealogists is that we remember what happened with the last technological advance in document management, the evil microfilm. While we are glad that we have it (it is virtually indestructible) we are leery of what happens with the originals once the copy is made. In the case of census records and passenger lists, once the microfilming was completed, the originals were destroyed. For most of the collection that is fine but there are several dozen reels that are filmed very badly, are basically unreadable, and we have no recourse to the original. Now, I understand why destroying the census originals seemed like a good idea at the time. The books were large and hard to store, old paper requires special care and a special environment. Getting rid of these things might have seemed like a great cost-cutting measure. I’m not sure it was.

These changes are going to have effects in the future that we can’t even begin to foresee. While changes do need to be made in all libraries we need to consider the LAC as a special case. They are not just any other library and their role as the collector and protector of the country’s documentary heritage needs to be recognized as a pillar on which we can build the future. We will never maintain the greatness of this country by dismantling the past.

If you are interested in developments at Library and Archives Canada, you can visit our E-Library under Newspapers and read the papers in Newspaper Direct Press Display. You can read up on the cuts in a number of Canadian newspapers by entering a search in the text box at the top of the page.

Attestation Paper from LAC

World War I Attestation Paper from Library and Archives Canada Collection

Inspiring Life Stories

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Inspiring Life Stories

I know you’re probably tired of my rambling on and on about our 100th birthday, but I am sooooo excited (and I just can’t hide it). So many cool things will be going on connected with our birthday that we are guaranteed to have the best year yet. And the event that I was most excited about will be happening on May 17 when our own history book Calgary Public Library: Inspiring Life Stories since 1912 will be publically launched. Because it is a book about our history and I work in the history area of the library, my colleagues and I were involved (in varying degrees) in some of the research for this book. And we were privileged to have the author, Brian Brennan, working in our local history area.

You may think that a book about the history of a library may not exactly be your cup of tea, but when you think about it, the library is central to the life of a community. It is a meeting place, a place where you can come to learn, to have fun, to just hang out. That is what a good library should strive to be. And I think we are a great library. The story of the library is the story of our city, it is our story, so please join us on May 17 at the place where it all began, the magnificent Memorial Park Library (Click here for a link to the information about the program) . You will be able to buy a copy of the book and have it signed by the author. Or you can purchase the book on www.goodread.ca - Your Library Store. All proceeds from the sale of the book support the Calgary Public Library Foundation.

As I mentioned, the book launch is only one of a huge number of programs that will be offered to celebrate our 100th. You can check out what is going on at the Celebrate our Centennial cpl100.ca section of our website. There will be birthday parties, the Annie Davidson Lecture Series, Community Gardens and on and on. You can also check out our archive photographs in “Our Story in Pictures” also available at the cpl100.ca site. It is going to be a great year – please come and be a part of it.

CPL 103-22-01Our Stories in Pictures, cpl 103-22-01