Iowa Calendar: May 2014

spring flowersTuesday Apr 8 – Sunday May 25
Apron Strings: Ties to the Past
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Carl & Mary Koehler History Center, 615 1st Ave. SE,
Cedar Rapids.

The newest temporary exhibit at The History Center, “Apron Strings: Ties to the Past” celebrates the rich and varied craft history while delving into the societal changes displayed through their design. Delicately embroidered aprons of the 1920s reflected a time of economic ease while aprons of the 1930s serve as a stark reminder of The Great Depression. Don’t miss this fascinating exhibit.

Admission is by donation. Contact: 319-362-1501; history@historycenter.org. Website: http://historycenter.org . Continue reading

Iowa Genealogical Society Road Trip

Midwest Genealogy Center

Midwest Genealogy Center

Monday, June 9 – Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Iowa Genealogical Society is sponsoring a research road trip to the Midwest Genealogy Center in Kansas City. This trip affords IGS members and friends a great research opportunity and time together to get to know local people with a strong interest in genealogy. MGC volunteers will be available to assist participants with their research. Continue reading

Soldier & President: Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier & President, by Geoffrey Perret. New York: Random House, 1997. 542 pp. Hardcover. Maps, source notes.

18th President Ulysses S. Grant 1869-1877

18th President Ulysses S. Grant
1869-1877

Choosing a biography of Grant is almost as difficult as choosing one for Lincoln. Books abound for both men. Many authors choose to focus on Grant’s military career and not his presidency with good reason: Grant’s two-term presidency was rocky at best. Geoffrey Perret explores Grant’s life from beginning to end, but devotes less than a hundred pages to his presidency.

Grant’s life is truly an American story. Born on the Ohio frontier in 1822, Hiram Ulysses Grant was the first child of Jesse and Hannah (Simpson) Grant. Ulysses experienced childhood much as many of our ancestors did. His ambitious, self-educated father was a tanner who rose above the hardships of frontier life and provided a solid, prosperous lifestyle for his family. Jesse adored his oldest son and supplied Ulysses with as many educational advantages as possible, including a slot at West Point. Continue reading

Iowa Calendar: April 2014

Easter - CopySaturday, April 5
Visit the State Historical Library & Archives
9:15 – 1:15. State Historical Society of Iowa, 600 East Locust, Des Moines. The SHSI is pleased to announce that Ancestry.com is now available at the library for patrons’ use. Learn tips for using this genealogical website. Special exhibits of library, archives and special collections holdings will be on display in the Library & Archives Reading Room. Scheduled activities:

  • 9:15 – 10:15 – Reading room orientation visit 
  • 10:45-11:45 – Presentation about online sources (focus on Ancestry.com and Family Search) 
  • 12:15-1:15 – Archives storage area visit

Free. For more information, contact: Jeffrey.dawson@iowa.gov. Website: http://www.iowahistory.org . Continue reading

Minnesota Genealogical Society Northstar Conference

Genealogy techtrekGenealogy TechTrek:  April 25-26, 2014
Hennepin Technical College, 9000 Brooklyn Boulevard, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Special guest presenter: Thomas MacEntee. Thomas specializes in using technology and social media to improve genealogy research and connect with the family history community.

Friday April 25: Evening reception and lecture by Thomas MacEntee
You Use WHAT for Genealogy? Wonderful Uses for Unusual Tools

Saturday April 26: Full day of educational sessions!
Three plenary sessions from Thomas MacEntee:

  • Building a Research Toolbox
  • Managing Your Genealogy Data
  • Google for Genealogists

20 breakout sessions presented by Midwest genealogy educators on social media, images, genealogy programs, genealogy websites, getting printed materials via the Internet, websites for Czechoslovak and Pommern research, and geography/mapping. Continue reading

Iowa Genealogical Society Spring Tech Conference

j0438865IGS Spring Technology Conference
Saturday, April 12, 2014
8 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Iowa Genealogical Society, West Wing, 628 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines. Topics include:

  • Tribal Pages – Personal Website. Learn how to setup and use a personal website, Tribal Pages, to allow others to see and contribute to your family tree. As the webmaster you control who can see or contribute to the site. It can be everyone on the web or only people that you invite. Tribal pages has great visual presentations of your data and printable charts. There is both a free and a paid version. This can be as simple or complex as you want but still is easy to setup.
  • Using the Cloud. What is the cloud? Think of the cloud as offsite storage, programs or applications. Learn how to use various cloud storage sites to backup your data, to have access from many devices and to share or collaborate with others. Free verses paid options.
  • Purchasing a New Computer/Tablet. How fast is it or how much memory a computer has may not be the first questions to ask yourself when considering a new computer. “How will you use the computer?” is the best first question as it will determine the previous questions. For genealogists you don’t need the fastest or fanciest computer. In fact you may want a tablet version of a computer. The next question usually is Apple or Windows operating system. All these things and more will be discussed.
  • Useful Utilities
  • GenSmarts Utility-GenSmarts is a utility that uses artificial intelligence to analyze your existing genealogy file and gives you research recommendations. It is a Windows-only program, versions 98 through 8.1. Live demonstrations of the use and benefits of using GenSmarts will be given.
  • Animaps Utility-Animaps extends the “My Maps” feature of Google Maps by letting you create maps with markers that move, images and text that pop up on cue, and lines and shapes that change over time. When you send your Animap to friends and family it appears like a video – they can play, pause, slow and speed up the action!

Continue reading

Iowa Calendar: March 2014

Clover postcardSaturday, March 8
Researching Your Home’s History & Abstract Party
1 – 4 p.m. North Side Library, 3516 5th Ave., Des Moines.

Unless you live in a brand new home, you’ve probably wondered what your home looked like when it was first built or what the people who lived there were like. Common questions like these and some pointers on how to find the answers will be the topic of a joint program and workshop hosted by the Des Moines Historical Society and the Des Moines Rehabbers Club. Continue reading

Iowa’s African-American Heritage

Picture1February is Black History month, a good time to reflect on Iowa’s African-American heritage. Although Iowa’s black population has never exceeded three percent, African-Americans have a long and significant history in our state. From the era of the Underground Railroad to the coal camps of the early 1900s, through the decades of the civil rights struggle, the history of African-Americans in Iowa is closely intertwined with the overall story of Iowa’s people. To quote author Tom Morain’s introduction to Outside In: A Book for All Iowans, “The story of African-Americans in Iowa is the story of all Iowans.”

What has attracted blacks to settle in Iowa? Like any migration group, there have been a variety of motivations. Throughout history, most African-Americans in Iowa have located to urban areas, with a few important exceptions. Let’s start with a timeline and examine what some of those migration factors have been. Continue reading

Iowa Calendar: February 2014

valentine Thursday, February 6, 2014
Special Exhibit: Favorite Things
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 502 W. Water St., Decorah.
Opening for the exhibition “Favorite Things.” Museum staff and volunteers will discuss the stories behind the objects and why people selected them. Vesterheim’s collections include some remarkable pieces not recently on display. The exhibition will highlight a wide-range of objects, including landscape paintings by Christian Midjo, a fiddle with red devils painted around the edge, a local Decorah-area family heirloom bunad (Norwegian costume), and real oak leaves with intricate etchings. The popular picks in “Favorite Things” were selected by museum staff and visitors. Many of the objects were chosen for their beauty, but many were also chosen for their fantastic history or quirky story. The exhibition, sponsored by Jon and Mary Hart with additional support from Farmers and Merchants Savings Bank, will be on view from now through April 27. The first Thursday of every month Vesterheim offers free admission to the museum and a special event. Contact: 515-382-9681; info@vesterheim.org. Website: http://www.vesterheim.org . Continue reading

Andrew Johnson: 17th President

Andrew Johnson 17th President  1865 - 1869

Andrew Johnson
17th President
1865 – 1869

Andrew Johnson: A Biography. By Hans L. Trefousse. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1989. 463 pp. Paperback. Illustrations, source notes, index.

The seventeenth president of the United States was not elected—Andrew Johnson had only briefly served as Abraham Lincoln’s second-term vice president when Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865. Johnson served one term as president, and it was rocky from start to finish.

Andrew Johnson is famous, and infamous, for a variety of reasons. He was born into poverty in Raleigh, North Carolina, lost his father at an early age, and was apprenticed to learn the trade of tailoring when he was ten years old. He never attended school, but probably received a start at learning to read while under the supervision of his tailor master. Later, after his marriage, his wife helped him further his education, but for the most part, Johnson was a self-taught, self-made man. Continue reading