Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Cyle 2 - Week 3

So the goals for Week Three were:

1. Tracking Research and 2. Conducting Research........yay!


I have reviewed and decided to use Thomas MacEntee's research log as-is for now.  I know it will take me some time in actually using the log to decide if/how I may modify it for my use.

Like Thomas, I am taking a wait-and-see approach also to decide if I will use one master log or multiple logs for different lines, I imagine I will use different sheets for each line.

I have filled in my research goals for my parents, starting with my father's birth certificate and baptismal records.


Genealogical birth certificates, defined as those for people born 70 or more years ago, in Cook County are supposedly searchable for online ordering.  If the online search yields no results you can complete a form and mail it to them for payment, this was what happened for me.  I find it hard to believe that no babies with the last name Matthews were born in all of Cook County, IL in 1936 since this county contains Chicago, my dad's birthplace, so I am hoping they will find his birth certificate offline.  If they don't find it, they are nice enough to refund your money, but I hope that won't be necessary.  I'll have to ask my mother if she remembers if he every had issues getting one when needed. I could ask my step-mother but that is a can of worms I have no intention of opening!

As for this baptismal record, I'll have to find the church first! I realized a couple of weeks ago that I have no idea where my father was baptized, even the denomination. My grandfather was Methodist, my grandmother was Lutheran and later in life my father became an Episcopal Priest.  It turns out that I found a clue while reorganizing my grandfather's correspondence.  He told a cousin that while they lived in Chicago they attended a community church with a Baptist history.  When I asked my mother about this, she said, "Oh, yeah!" (Gee, thanks!)

So, I have some internet hunting to do and some phone calls to make to get started, I'll keep you posted but probably won't post again this week since I'll be getting ready for my trip to Manchester, CT on Saturday!!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Amanuensis Monday - Howard Matthews' Story #21 - "Retirement"

After my post last week I realized it would be better for there to be two more posts of my grandfather' story so this will be the second to last installment and next week will be the last.  In this installment we learn a bit more about his time with Wesleyan and then his 'retirement'.

It was necessary to purchase many neighborhood properties to provide land for this construction, to protect the neighborhood and to provide faculty housing. This involved the purchase of 204 properties in the immediate vicinity of the campus at a cost of $6.4 million.

Negotiations with the City of Middletown made possible the closing of Mount Vernon Street between Church Street and Wyllys Avenue and the widening of Vine Street and construction of the retaining wall along its east side, both of which streets were important to the later development of Foss Hill; and the closing of Wesleyan Place to make way for the first stage of the Science Center.

Along came the probability that coeducation would be resumed at Wesleyan and the question of how and where the ladies would be located,-on the existing campus, on a new campus adjacent to the men's campus, or at a distance? It seemed wise therefore to acquire land as a "hedge against the future". This was accomplished, 1960 to 1967, by the purchase of four large farm properties south of the city near the Durham line for a total cost of $1.14 million. When, later, it appeared that coeducation could be accomplished on the existing campus, the farm properties were named Wesleyan Hills and the Hill Development Corporation was formed to develop it has a housing project.

All of these things, plus frequent travel to Columbus, Ohio, in connection with the Press, added to the 'normal' day-to-day operations of the University and budgeting and spending and reporting to the President and the Board and its Committees, made up a very busy and interesting life for me. I always regarded it as 'more fun than working'. Nevertheless, somehow I found time to participate in outside activities, such as:
  • A corporator of the Liberty Bank for Savings for 27 years.
  • A corporator of the Middlesex Memorial Hospital.
  • Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Middlesex Area of the Connecticut Bank & Trust Company.
  • President of the Rockfall Corporation.
  • President of the Russell Library.
  • Member of the Board of Finance, the Retirement Board, and the Mayor's Advisory Committee of the City of Middletown.
  • Member Republican Town Committee.
  • Chairman Woodrow Wilson High School Building Committee.
  • Member Town Hall Building Committee.
  • Member State Republican Planning Committee.
  • Director Middletown Chamber of Commerce.
  • Member Commission on Aid to Higher Education, State of Conn.
  • A Commissioner of the Jones Fund for Charity.
  • A member of the original Advisory Committee on Middletown Redevelopment.
Victor L. Butterfield, who had been in poor health, resigned the Presidency of Wesleyan in 1967 at age 63. He was succeeded by Edward D. Etherington who resigned shortly thereafter to run for public office who was succeeded by Colin G. Campbell. Mr. Etherington urged me to stay on after I reached the regular retirement age of 68, but I declined and retired as of October 31, 1969 after having served Wesleyan for 19 1/3 years as its Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer.

I have found plenty to do to keep me active both mentally and physically. I continued as President of our town library until 1975 when we completed, after many months of study, a revision of its By-laws which did away with the self-perpetuating Board and, under the revised rules, gave citizens nominated by the City membership on the Board. This made possible city financial support of an addition to and renovation of the building, completed in 1984.

I remained until 1977 on the Commission for Aid to Higher Education (Federal grants) to which I had been appointed by Governor Dempsey in 1967.  I continued as Commissioner of the Jones Fund until 1975. I took on a few new ones: served for two years on the Finance Committee of the American Council of Learned Societies, and am currently on the Investment Committees of the Church of the Holy Trinity and the Saint Lukes' Home.

The care of our yard at 147 Old Mill Road has very happily consumed most of my fair-weather time. Our interest in the growing of roses began with four bushes we planted 20 or more years ago at 135 Mount Vernon street, and we brought them with us in 1970 when we moved here. Here, although the yard was well-equipped with shrubbery and grass areas, it had no flower beds or vegetable gardens, so we first developed annual and perennial beds and, later, other areas for raspberries, strawberries, vegetables and, finally, seven beds for roses and mums. Over the years we have planted a total of 72 rose bushes of which 48 survive. The survivors are a mixture of Hybrid Teas, Grandiflores, Floribundas, Flora-Teas, Climbers, Shrubs and the 'unknowns' from Mt. Vernon St.

In the next installment of my grandfather's story, he looks back on a life in a time of great change.

Friday, April 24, 2015

When I Was Young - Part 2

Here are my answers to Part 2 of Alona Tester's When I Was Young:

13. What childhood injuries do you remember?
Other than scrapes and bruises I was lucky to only have one sprain, but it was memorable to me.  I was about eight and we were waiting to see a show at the Vanderbilt Planetarium.  We were bored waiting on line and started playing tag in the lobby where I twisted my ankle trying to duck a tag.  I heard the ligament tear and it hurt so badly that I knew right away this was more than a simple twisted ankle.  I remember my father had to carry me into the ER that evening because I couldn't walk more than a few steps at a time and it was very swollen.  Even at that young age, I could tell you when it was about to rain for years after.
14. What was your first pet?
Oh, Benjamin, my sweet little shelter kitten.  Unfortunately, he lived only a few years. He was an outdoor cat, enough said.

15. Did your grandparents, or older relatives tell you stories of “when I was young ..?”
Not really. Thankfully my paternal grandfather wrote about his life before he died. This included a lot of information about his childhood. I have been sharing his story in my Amanuensis Monday posts. Also, my father was absolutely fascinated with my mother's father's war stories.  He taped hours of them and it is such a treasure to have now.

16. What was entertainment when you were young?
We didn't go out a whole lot when I was little, but we did see the occasional movie, a Broadway musical was a real treat, and we watched some TV(mostly PBS for me). We went to see Barnum & Bailey a few times at Madison Square Garden and the Nutcracker every Christmas as I have mentioned.  Also, vacationing on Prince Edward Island, we would see Anne of Green Gables - The Musical every year.

Once we had a cassette deck, my dad discovered old radio shows on tape and I was then raised on Mel Brooks (2000 year old Man) and Jack Benny, I loved them, still do.

17. Do you remember what it was it like when your family got a new fangled invention? (ie. telephone, TV, VCR, microwave, computer?) 
We got a VCR when my dad bought a recorder and taped everything in sight. 

Earlier than that, I remember when he bought a new car with a cassette deck and huge earphones that stretched to the back seat. This way I could be entertained on long car trips without annoying them when I wanted to listed to the same thing over and over.

18. Did your family have a TV? Was it b&w or colour? And how many channels did you get?
We had a color TV.  We probably got 6 channels? CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS (Thirteen), PIX and WOR.

19. Did your family move house when you were young? Do you remember it?
Yes, we moved a few blocks to a bigger house when I was about ten.  I couldn't wait.  I had a huge bedroom and the house was on a little river and right across the street from my elementary school

20. Was your family involved in any natural disasters happening during your childhood (ie.fire, flood, cyclone, earthquake etc)?
No, we were not, thankfully.  We're not prone to a lot of that on Long Island.  I do remember that one summer as we were on vacation on Prince Edward Island where the only phone was in the property manager's office, we somehow heard reports of a tornado touching down in the town next to ours here on Long Island.  My parents called the neighbors to check on the house, but everything was fine here.

21. Is there any particular music that when you hear it, sparks a childhood memory?
Vacationing on PEI, they had only one radio station, or one music station and it seems they must have had a very small budget because we heard the same songs over and over and over every summer.  There are a handful of songs like, "Devil Went Down to Georgia", "Hot Stuff", "My Sherona", "Call Me" and "Let 'Em In" that I hear to this day and immediately associate with PEI.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Genealogy Do-over Week 2 - Cycle 2

As I explained in my last post which was Part I of the geneameme When I Was Young, I have not had much time for blogging since the NHL playoffs started, although I have been keeping up with the do-over.

1. Setting Research Goals

My immediate research goals are to start at the beginning with my parents and so I have been using OneNote to track my goals and progress, and I am also taking Thomas' advice and being very specific and not too broad: Prove Dad's date of birth, place of birth, date of baptism, place of baptism, etc.

Funny that though I had no idea where to start to find my father's baptismal information, I found a clue in organizing my papers in Week #1!

Also, I will be jumping ahead a bit to my paternal grandmother's family when I visit her hometown next weekend.  My mother and I used to take a day-trip or weekend trip to Connecticut every spring.  For one reason and another this hasn't happened in a few years, but I decided I really wanted to visit Manchester this year because I don't remember visiting the cemetery where my great-grandparents are buried.  After I started following the Manchester Historical Society on Facebook, I found that the Manchester Town Hall is having a Family History Day on Saturday, May 2nd. They are opening the vaults to Birth, Marriage and Death records from 9am-1pm (apparently in Connecticut you have to go right to the town for vital records) and offering a free half hour with a professional genealogist which I have already booked.  Unfortunately this is not a day my mother can come with me but I am going. So I have made a list of the dates of births, marriages and deaths in this family so that I can try to find any vital records they have.

2. I conducted a self-interview.

Using tools provided by generous members of the Do-Over group on Facebook as well as the geneameme I started blogging yesterday.

3. I have started conducting family interviews

This will be an ongoing process. My mother is ridiculously difficult to pin down and I have no near relatives, so the rest of my process cannot wait on this.

In the meantime, I have a list of questions for her and sneak them in when we speak on the phone or go grocery shopping.  I also have some stories I would like her to actually write or type out for me. Those things are mostly second-hand stories like the stories my grandmother told her about my great-grandmother's illness.  Eva Bean had what was then known as creeping paralysis (possibly ALS from the symptoms Grandma described) and was taken to a mesmerist at one point because it was thought to be a mental condition.  Things like that I would love for her to write out for me because it helps jog the memory and maybe we'll get some additional detail.

So, to sum up, some Week 2 goals have been reached and others are a work in progress but we're on to Week Three!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

When I Was Young - Part 1

Although I have been keeping up with the Genealogy Do-Over in the past couple of weeks, I have not been keeping up with my blogging about it. Such is life during the NHL playoffs (Go Habs Go!)

In the meantime, here is the beginning of my self-interview using the When I Was Young geneameme from Alona Tester.

1. Do you or your parents have any memorabilia from when you were a baby?

Well, I am an only child and an only grandchild, so, yes, I have tons.

These are the checks to pay the doctor and hospital for my birth, forever enshrined in plastic. The second paperweight contains a lock of my hair from my first haircut. (These were made for my maternal grandfather by a firm that made promotional items for the Bell Mine of which he was President.)

And here are a few things from what we call my Baby Box.  I had taken these pictures a few years ago for my old crafting blog when I participated in Vintage Thingy Thursdays.

2. Do you know if you were named after anyone?

Anna is for my father's aunt Anna Peterson Anderson

and my mother's great-aunt Anna Mina Dean Pergau (first on the right).

My middle name was Catherine because they liked it and it went with Anna and they originally intended to call me by both names.

But, as the story goes, it was the 60s so it also had to mean something. So, according to my baby book, I am named for Anna the Prophetess (Luke 2:36-38) and Catherine of Aragon, the first female lawyer.

3. And do you know of any other names your parents might have named you?

Oh, yes. Thank goodness I was a girl! My father's middle name was David, his father's middle name was Bierly. If I had been a boy, it was to be David Bierly Matthews.

4. What is your earliest memory?

I have a vague memory of playing at a park in Chicago.  I had found a hopping ball that another child left behind. When they came back for it, I was not a happy camper. I'm not 100% sure that is my earliest memory, but if we were still in Chicago, its very early.


5. Did your parents read, sing or tell stories to you? Do you remember any of these?

My parents are both voracious readers and read to me as soon as I was born. As a result, I was reading real books in kindergarten.  My favorite reading memory is sitting with my father in his armchair next to the fireplace reading E.B. White. He would do voices of a many of the characters from Charlotte's Webb and Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan and I loved every minute.

6. When you were young, do you remember what it was you wanted to grow up to be?

Gloria Steinem. No joke.

7. Did you have a favorite teacher at school?

Not really. In kindergarten we all loved our teacher, Miss Kempton. I remember that I was very excited when she was having a baby a few years later that my mother was giving her a Fisher Price Roly Poly Chime Ball. For some reason I thought it was very cool that her baby would be playing with the same toy I once played with.

8. How did you get to school?

We lived about a block and a half from my elementary school. I always walked. I'm still bowled over by the fact that none of the kids going to that school today seem to walk.  The traffic there in the mornings and afternoons is unbelievable!

Later I walked to middle school and took a bus to high school. When I moved to another high school, I had to walk again.

9. What games did playtime involve?

I remember playing jump rope, hopscotch, tag, red light-green light and Mother may I. Of course, as girls in the 70s we played with baby dolls and Barbie dolls. I don't think I ever got over not getting a Barbie Town House. I did have a few Fisher-Price play sets.  And of course board games like Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, Ker-plunk, Trouble, Operation, Clue, Monopoly, etc.. Oh, and Colorforms, I loved my Barbie Colorform set!

And my next door neighbor and best friend had a Pachinko machine.

I just came across this photo from Christmas of '73. I loved this Supermarket set that I got that year!  It also came with a shopping cart that is not pictured.

10. Did you have a cubby house?

No, but when we played outside with the kids from next door they had a honeysuckle bush that was open in the back and we would occasionally play in there, but we never had a real cubby house.  I did always want a tree house as a kid.

11. What was something you remember from an early childhood holiday?

For some reason, my childhood holiday memories have always run together.  I remember decorating Easter eggs, I remember my paternal grandmother always bringing her very rich cheesecake. Mostly I remember Christmases, my favorite holiday when my parents were still married.  I loved our tree ornaments, making popcorn and cranberry garland, decorating the house, having grandparents visit, going to see the Nutcracker in NYC and going to Midnight Mass at Grace Episcopal Church, where my father was an assistant.

12. What is a memory from one of your childhood birthdays or Christmas?

Children's birthdays were so much simpler then! Mostly I remember just having an afternoon with friends, eating Pepperidge Farm cake with some added decorative frosting and I vividly remember playing "Pin the Tail on the Donkey", though that could be because we have pictures (and I still have this scarf.)

I'll finish the questions in my next post!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Amanuensis Monday - Howard Matthews Story #20 - Wesleyan University

The 20th and second to last installment of my grandfather's story brings us to another big change in his career and brings him back to Wesleyan.
Olin Library, Wesleyan University 1952

In March 1945 both Swarthmore College and Brown University tried to persuade me to consider joining their respective administrative staffs as Treasurer. President Wriston of Brown was a member of Wesleyan's faculty when I was an undergraduate and I took one of his history courses. He was President of Lawrence College for 12 years before he became President of Brown. In addition to writing me many long letters, he telephoned me frequently, usually at breakfast time, trying to persuade me to come to Brown as treasurer. Finally I settled it by saying I was happy at Chicago where I was making good progress both as to salary and responsibilities. I gave the same answer to President Nelson of Swarthmore.

In late '48 or '49, Billy Calder, a banker, who was filling in as Wesleyan's Treasurer, wrote to ask whether I would be interested in moving to Wesleyan. I indicated some interest in looking into the position as Connecticut had always looked inviting compared to the flatness of Chicago. I had kept in touch with Wesleyan, somewhat, through the Chicago alumni club of which I was President and had visited the campus for class reunions, and the comparison with the University of Chicago made Wesleyan with its endowment of around $9 million, look rather small. And it was at this time that I had been promoted to Business Manager at Chicago.

After being visited by the Chairman of Wesleyan's Board of Trustees, talking with the Chairman of the board's Finance Committee while vacationing in New England and being visited by President Butterfield, finally Wesleyan's offer came.  The title would be Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer, although at an initial salary slightly lower than Chicago's. We decided to make the change.

33 Lawn Avenue, Middletown - The Matthews new home

My training and experiences at Chicago plus that of CPA provided an almost perfect background for the usual responsibilities of a college business officer, and my 7 years in public accounting with PMM & Co were invaluable in what was required in Wesleyan's purchase, operation and (15 years later) sale of that fine publisher of elementary and high school books and magazines, such as Current Events and My Weekly Reader, American Education Press, to the Xerox company for 400,000 shares of its common stock, worth at that time $56 million.

The net benefit to Wesleyan for the 15 years it owned and operated the Press, after taxes and all other editorial and operating expenses, was $32 million, but the sale over a period of years of the 400,000 shares of Xerox common stock, increased the total benefit to Wesleyan to more than $100 million.

During the 19 years of my tenure, the aforesaid plus gifts and legacies, such as the Davison bequest of $6.2 million and the Surdna (Andrus) Foundation gift of $8 million, plus gains of $29 million on sales of other investments, even after the appropriation of $36.6 million for physical plant improvement and expansion, increased Wesleyan's endowment to $150 million at book (cost) and $145 at market value as of June 30, 1969.

The prospect of these financial gains enabled Wesleyan, even as early as 1951, to initiate planning which resulted in the following:

  • faculty salaries and related fringe benefits increased to the "AA" rating of the American Association of University Professors
  • kept the student tuition fee to 30% of actual cost per undergraduate
  • improved and added to the physical plant
The major new facilities added during this period were: Davison Art Center, Library Rare Book Room (both made possible by gifts of Harriett and George W. Davison), Public Affairs Center, Foss Hill Dormitories #1 and #2, Lawn Avenue Dormitories and Butterfield Colleges, McConaughy Dining Hall, Science Center and Science Library, Hockey Rink, John Wesley House and addition, Judd Hall major alteration, North College major alteration to centralize Administration, Bridge to South College and major alteration of South College, renovation of the President's house, new Tennis Courts and parking area on Vine Street, Center for the Humanities (behind Honors College) to provide large meeting room and to restore original decorations first floor. Planning for the Center for the Arts was included in this period although construction did not begin until after my retirement.

The aforesaid required enormous amounts of my time in working with the Building and Grounds Committee of the Board, in the selection of architects, in the awarding of contracts and competitive bidding, in travel to New York City to confer with architects and the drawing of plans and actual construction proceeded, in weekly meetings with the architects on the site, etc.

Next time, we learn more about my grandfather's time at Wesleyan and how he still kept involved in important work in retirement.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Amanuensis Monday - Howard Matthews' Story #19-Chicago University

Change came to the Oriental Institute and my grandfather would spend the war years working over at the University itself as you will read below in the 19th installment of his story.

In 1938 the Rockefeller Foundation decided not to continue their support of the Oriental Institute beyond the then existing balances of their commitments (several millions) because, as they explained, they had been supporting a man, Dr. James Henry Breasted, now deceased, rather than an institution. This meant a sharp reduction in the field work of the Institute, eventually the termination of all except the Epigraphical Survey at Luxor, Egypt. Naturally, this presented me with a question as to my future but this was immediately solved when the Chancellor of the University, Robert M. Hutchins, urged me to stay on to assist with the necessary reorganization of the Institute and then to move over into the administration of the University of Chicago as a whole, as assistant to the then Business Manager, William B. Harrell. Initially I spent half time in each position but in less than a year I moved across campus to the office of the Business Manager, full time. This proved to be a good decision for by 1949 I had progressed from Assistant to Associate and finally to Business Manager, Special Projects, concerned with Government sponsored research projects.

These were interesting and very busy years, initially concerned with the normal operations of the University of about 8,000 students, the majority of whom were doing graduate work for advanced degrees in many fields. In addition the University operated Billings (general) Hospital, Lying-In Hospital, Bobs Roberts Hospital for Children, the Goldblatt Memorial Cancer Hospital, the Orthogenic School for retarded [sic] children, International House, etc., all of which were on campus. There were fine dormitories for both men and women, fraternities in their own houses, excellent dining facilities, gymnasiums, libraries, laboratories, etc. In addition it operated its own Laboratory Schools, kindergarten through high school.

Howard B Matthews, Christmas 1949
My early years in the Office of the Business Manager were of necessity learning years for even the physical plant, which extended for a half dozen blocks along the Midway and for three blocks in depth, all connected underground by tunnels through which steam heat from a central plant and electricity from transformer vaults were carried, was a formidable layout to learn. But my boss, William B. Harrell, was a good teacher. Over a period of time he gradually relinquished one after another project and turned them over to me. Thus eventually I had under me the Departments of Buildings & Grounds, Residence Halls and Commons (5 dining halls), the Bookstore, Faculty and Staff Housing (apartment houses), the University of Chicago Press which had its own printing plant and bindery, the Bursar who collected all student fees. Of course, each of these was headed by very responsible individuals. In addition, I had to deal with several Unions representing all of the non-academic employees of the aforesaid departments, plus the hospital employees, exclusive of the doctors. It all added up to an interesting, diversified responsibility.

World War II (1941-1946) changed many things. For the few male students left on campus we rented fraternity houses to house them. The women's halls and dining facility were retained but all of the mens' were vacated and turned over to the armed forces. In addition, Bartlett Gym and Sunny Gym, outfitted with double-decker beds and greatly expanded toilet facilities were used to house Army, Navy and Air Force men. Hutchinson Commons was their dining facility. The Orthogenic School was used for Navy Signal training. We rented the Ford Airport, south of the City, and equipped it with 12 light planes for Navy Pre-Flight training. Medics were in training in our Medical School and Meteorology training was given on campus. All of this involved not only the preparation of the spaces (and they never relinquished any of their rules, like so many square feet per man and so many men per toilet), and the obtaining and preparation of food, for all of which I had a very loyal and competent staff, but also the hours of negotiating contracts with each of the services involved and this latter was my responsibility.

At the same time, the Physical Science Departments of the University were involved in the research called the Manhattan Project, which resulted, on December 2, 1942, in the first successful chain operation of an atomic "pile", located under the West Stands of Stagg Field, one block from my office. Involved in this project were such men as Nobel Prize winners Arthur Compton, Enrico Fermi and James Franck. Everything was highly secret; some of these men didn't even use their own name on campus; they were renamed, like in this telegram which Fermi sent to Conant at Harvard to announce the successful pile reaction: "The Italian navigator has just landed in the New World."

Energy.gov - Government Photo/Plaque installed on the 5th anniversary of the chain reaction.

Energy.gov - Government Photo/End of Stagg Field WWII

My connection with the aforesaid was in providing space for what was going on and seeing that these areas were restored to their former condition when the project ended. (This included determining that the buildings were free of contamination. For this purpose I had a team of scientists, headed by Professor Walter Bartky, on whose advise I relied.) Whole buildings had to be vacated [for the Manhattan Project], - Ryerson Physical Laboratory, the Mathematics Building, etc and additional space had to be acquired in the Museum of Science & Industry, and the entire Armory on the edge of Washington Park was rented and altered for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The end/purpose of this was so secret that until the day of the first atomic reaction under the West Stands I did not know what that was, although I had been "cleared" of course and was issued the necessary ID badge. And when we rode the night train to Washington on matters of a secret nature we were not permitted to be in the same sleeper with Fermi and others for fear a slip of the tongue might identify him.

Eventually, as the war ended the University resumed its normal operations, the dormitories and other academic buildings were restored to their former uses, the lease to the Ford airport was terminated and the planes were sold. But the University of Chicago was not a place that stood still for very long. Mr. Hutchins activated his "4-year College" plan for which very bright students combined the last two years of High School with 2 years of College level study and thus offered a savings of two years to attain a Bachelors degree. We provided a special dormitory for these students. A Research Institutes Building, a Social Science Center, and a new Administration building were constructed. The Lasker estate with its large estate house, a complete golf course and club house, greenhouses, and acres of fields in which chrysanthemums were grown, was given to the University by this wealthy retired advertising man. We operated this for several years as a private golf course and each autumn sold mums, but it was a losing operation and eventually the estate was subdivided and sold as building lots. Many of my weekends were tied up in this.

Next time, another move.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Cycle 2 - Week 1 - Best Practices and Guidelines Pt 2

Honors College-Wesleyan University-photo by Stephen D Matthews, my dad, ca. 1952

My earlier post was mostly advice for beginners or newcomers to genealogical research.  So presumptuous of me, really, but I hope it helps someone.  I'm a beginner myself in so many ways and this do-over is a blessing!

Anything we do in life that is important to us we should do with intention; it is a word I think of again and again when I think about all kinds of goals that I have for myself.  Live with intention, work with intention, research with intention.

So, here are the best practices and guidelines that I intend to bring to my genealogical research from this point forward. I should probably frame them and hang them over my desk so that they don't go out the window the next time I sit down to work on my tree!

1. Slow down, don't get ahead of yourself. - This should be my mantra, chanted over and over as I search through records, cross-legged on my desk chair.  Seriously!  So going forward if I'm researching with a plan and spot a bright shiny object I will STOP, bookmark it, write it down and put it in the plan for next time.

2. Education, education, education. - I have been watching DearMYRTLE's Google hangouts (You can find them on YouTube and watch them live on Google+) for the past two months. I wish I could participate or at least watch them live but my 9 to 5 prevents that.  These hangouts have really inspired me to step-up my genealogy game. I'm reading Dr. Jones' Mastering Genealogical Proof, just bought Evidence Explained and have been following along with DearMYRTLE's Beginning Genealogy series.  Like anything else in life, it is easier and more fun when you keep yourself educated. I plan to make this a habit.

3. Don't beat yourself up about old habits. - I love this one from Elizabeth Shown Mills. From the Do-Over you would think that absolutely no one has ever started genealogical research with practices they are happy about.  There are so many of us who would do it all differently if we could start again.  But that tells us something, it's not the end of the world and we're not alone. So I won't forget my old habits lest I repeat them, but I won't beat myself up, it's counter-productive and can only hold me back.

4. Come at your research like an outsider.- Family stories can be helpful, sometimes, in giving me a place to look for information when other methods fail. Other times, however, I find those stories contradicted by the facts.  I will keep an open mind, but won't believe anything until supported by evidence. Now, where is my birth certificate? I'm sure I can't be a day over thirty!

5. Have a plan. - Every time I sit down to work, I will have a plan. I will know how long I'll be working, what I need with me to execute that plan (books, files, programs), I will know where I was the last time you stopped and stop a few minutes early to make sure I have cited and logged everything. Finally, I will leave a note of where I stopped last time

6. Keep that research log up-to-date. - As above, I will make sure I leave myself time to complete my citations and research log before I finish each session.  That way the information will not be lost or forgotten, and it won't get away from me. AND...

7. Track Everything. - As Thomas MacEntee said, "Even dead-ends, negative evidence and non-productive searches". I never want to have another moment where I've spent money to get a record I was already told does not exist!

8. Be consistent in the way you record your data.

9. Cite Everything. - I have my own brand new copy of Evidence Explained, so no excuses!

10. Get Stories. - I have to start doing this asap.  My father and grandparents are gone already and today is my mother's 78th birthday.  There's no time to waste.

11. Have a plan for backing-up everything.  This is vital. There is no sense in doing all this work if I'm not going to protect it.  I have a Dropbox account for now, which has the advantage of being free and easily accessible from libraries and research centers. I also want to buy an external hard-drive when I can. It took me a long time to consider this vital. I've been very lucky that I haven't lost anything.

12. Wring every detail out of documents you find and do it the first time and, of course, log it! - Don't miss evidence of one thing in your document because you were looking for something else. Don't say you'll read more carefully next time, you may miss something really important.

These next few I will have to work on as I learn more about genealogical proof, reasonably exhaustive searches, types of evidence, conclusions and more.

13. Verify - use proof techniques.

14. Thoughtfully consider the nature of the source.

15. Always add an appraisal of your source. I would never have thought of that!

16. Thoughtfully consider what details others will need when they use your material, because...

17. You do not own your ancestors.

18. Ask for help.

19. Give credit where credit is due. - Always, period.

20. Work and think like your ancestors. I can't remember where I saw it but when I think of it, I always laugh, "Compared to our ancestors, we are all wimps!" So true. We whine about upload speeds and lack of Wi-Fi, what would we do faced with 160 acres of untamed land to farm? My cousins still farm today and I'm a wimp compared to them!  Seriously though, our ancestors were tough, tenacious and creative and we must be, too.

I think that's it although I'm sure I'll think of more down the road. Thank you to Miriam Robbins, Alona, Elizabeth Shown Mills and Thomas MacEntee without whose posts linked above I would still be trying to write this post!

Genealogy Do-Over - Cycle 2 - Week One - Best Practices and Guidelines with Beginners in Mind

Photo taken by Stephen D Matthews, my dad, ca. 1950
In my last post I said I was working on best practices and guidelines for my research. It seems like it's going to be a pretty long list, so I am posting it in two parts.  The guidelines below are the lessons I have already learned in some sense and I hope will be helpful to any beginners out there.

There was a discussion recently in a Google hangout that I was watching about how much information to throw at someone who is a newcomer to family research. I mean even people like me who have been at this for a few years can feel overwhelmed sometimes, a sentiment I have seen expressed often on the Geneabloggers Do-Over Facebook page.

I started my genealogical journey just wanting to answer a handful of questions, now I want the whole enchilada. Whatever our individual goals are for our research, we all want that research to be productive.  I believe these guidelines will serve that purpose well, even as your goals may change over time.

          I don't mean to be a killjoy but I'm not a huge fan of the Ancestry.com commercials that make genealogy look like a one afternoon project.  Especially one I have seen recently where the woman finds three generations in someone else's tree. This has happened to me twice and finding those trees was really fun but I had to realize that I know nothing about the tree owner's research and research methods. If you find a tree with your ancestors in it, by all means reach out to your newfound cousin and get to know them, but take their tree with a grain of salt, don't assume accuracy.

          I am a huge fan of "Who Do You Think You Are", but they may make it look a bit too easy.  Did you know that approximately 2,000 hours of research go into each episode?  And they hire professionals!

          The sooner you start doing this, the better. You will be forever thankful that you took the time to note it and cite it now.

          Sooner or later you will hear someone joke about ordering a birth certificate three times because they forgot they already had it or had tried to find it.  With an active research log, this will never happen to you and you will rejoice.

         They sometimes have great finds, they always have good advice!

          I have joined a half-dozen Facebook genealogy groups this year and learned from each one of them.  I have also joined a couple of Google+ communities, and this has been invaluable.  Most family historians love to help other family historians. Remember that if you feel overwhelmed.

          For me, this is what makes genealogy fun.  Learning about my ancestors' lives, their surroundings, the social and political climate, even the fashions of the day.

And I forgot one, ask questions as well as advice.  Feel free to start here. If you have any questions about anything in this post (like "What is a research log?" or "How do I cite my sources?"), feel free to ask!

Numbers 1, 3, 5 and 7 were altered from this post of Do's and Don'ts by Alona at Lonetester HQ. I realize that, ironically, this is not cited properly, but I just got my copy of Evidence Explained in the mail yesterday.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Cycle 2 - Week One - Getting Organized

I spent a good part of yesterday evening getting our office organized so that I can get my family papers organized next.

Because I started my research with Ancestry.com and other digital resources, almost all of the paper documentation I have is inherited. Although I have digitized some of it, I would never discard it.  That said, it does need a good going over, a little organization and, I now realize, should be added to a research log at some point in the near future. But I don't want to get ahead of myself.

Thomas MacEntee's topics for Week 1 of the do-over are:

1) Setting Previous Research Aside

2) Preparing to Research

3) Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines

I still haven't decided if I am an all-in participant or a do-over participant.  Somehow I cannot imagine myself completely setting aside all of the research I have done to this point.  I can see myself setting it aside for the duration of the 13 do-over though, so that is probably what I will do.

As I said in a previous post on this topic, when I first heard about the do-over I found the prospect completely overwhelming but I knew it was something that had to be done if I was going to take my research any further.  And from the response to the idea, it is obvious that I am not alone.  I realized this weekend, though, that it doesn't have to be overwhelming. I don't have to figure it all out now. I've decided to trust the process and take it one week, one topic, at a time.

So I'll be getting organized and working on my guidelines and I'll be back when I have those to share.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Amanuensis Monday - Howard Matthews Story #18-Chicago Bound

In the last installment of my grandfather's story, he accepted the position of Financial Secretary of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago and he and my grandmother prepared to move from East Orange to Chicago.

Lunch with Dr. & Mrs. Nelson in the temple at Edfu. (My grandmother Dagmar Anderson is in the middle.)

So we took off in our good little Chevy and drove to Chicago in April of 1935. There we lived in the Windermere Hotel (opposite the Museum of Science and Industry, near the lakefront) until our apartment on 57th Street, near the University, was made ready. This was in the Hyde Park section of Chicago, before that area had become run-down.  We lived in that small-town-like area for 15 years, within a half dozen walkable blocks from my office at the University. And the winters were cold! But pausing briefly in University buildings along the way, I continued to walk. In fact, during the war years I had no choice, for in a burst of patriotism, we sold our car. Not the same Chevy, but a couple of models later.

The personnel of the Oriental Institute was a very interesting group,-the Chicago administration and faculty and especially the field staff, many of whom returned from the Near East during the off-season each year and worked on the recording of the past season's field work or on publications. Some, instead, continued their studies in England or Europe.

As Financial Secretary of the Institute my responsibilities included control of the budgets, sending operating funds and supplies to the four expeditions then operating in the Near East: the Epigraphic Expedition, located at Luxor, Egypt, where they were not excavating but copying the inscriptions on on the walls of the temples in that area; the Megiddo Expedition in Palestine which was excavating the site of Armageddon; the Persian (now Iran) which was excavating the site of the Temple of Darius and Xerxes at Persepolis; and the Syrian Expedition at Allepo, near Antioch. In addition, the Institute in cooperation with the Egypt Exploration Society of London, was engaged in publishing the large folio volumes of paintings copied from tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and this required frequent contact with Sir Allen Gardener and Nina deGaris Davies in London. And at the headquarters in Chicago there was the extensive publishing of the results of the aforesaid four active expeditions plus others whose field work had been completed or terminated, such as the Sakkhara Expedition at Memphis, near Cairo. The five active projects abroad required our operating in five different currencies, in addition to USA dollars: Egyptian Pounds, Palestinian Pounds, Iranian Rials, Syrian Livres, and English Pounds.

Anderson, Dagmar Alice Viola and Matthews, Stephen David ca 1936

Matthews, Stephen David
Within our first year in Chicago, Steve was born, Charles Breasted retired from the Institute and I was promoted to his post as Executive Secretary of the Institute, and his father, James Henry Breasted, the head and founder of the institute, left on an inspection trip of the Institute's Near East activities, -- a trip from which he never got back to Chicago. He took ill on the return trip and was hospitalized and died in New York City. Before he left on that trip, Dr. Breasted said, "now, Matthews, I want you to take the next trip". A member of the staff, Egyptologist John A. Wilson, succeeded Dr. Breasted as Director of the Institute.

In 1938, Dagmar and  I did the rounds of the Institute's expeditions in the Near East and its activities in London and at Oxford. Dagmar went along for "the woman's angle". Steve, then less than age 2, we left with Dagmar's brother and wife, Elmer and Isabel Anderson, in Manchester, Connecticut who graciously agreed to care for him while we were away. These were the days before trans-ocean flights. We left New York on the Italian liner REX on February 26, 1938 and returned on the English Aquitania on June 1, 1938. All of our travel was by water, train or automobile, as we were told one does not learn much in flying over a country. Details of the entire 3 months are contained in my own ITINERARY AND CALLS a copy of which is appended hereto, and in my diary and Dagmar's letters, both of which are in a Blue ring binder. In a Red binder there is a selection of the best of more than 1,000 pictures I took on this journey. Inspection of the diary reveals that my record is purely factual in that it relates to duty call s on persons, institutions, museums, etc., whereas Dagmar's letters to the folks back home, which they saved and returned to us, are a beautiful record of her reactions to the people and the countries we visited,--very worth-while reading.

The photos below are just a few of the many gorgeous photos that my grandfather took during this amazing trip-of-a-lifetime. I hope to share more in the future as I transcribe my grandmother's letters from the trip after I am finished with my grandfather's story.  You should absolutely click on them to enlarge to full size, especially those of hieroglyphics which you will then be able to see in amazing detail.  This album of photos and ephemera is one of the greatest treasures I own.

Statue of Liberty from the REX February 26, 1938
On the way to Sakkarah

Dagmar bargaining - Baghdad, Iraq

More at Edfu with Dr. & Mrs. Nelson


On the way to the temple at Edfu

My grandparents in London.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Cycle 2 - I'm In

As soon as I saw Thomas MacEntee's first blog post about Genealogy Do-Over I knew that this was something I would have to do.  I know full well that I have researched the same record three times, that my sources are poorly and sporadically cited, I know that my tree on Ancestry is full of assumptions. But I was overwhelmed with the idea.

When I first started researching my ancestry, it was just for fun and for myself.  I just wanted to answer a few questions and that was all. That is one reason that it took me so long to become a paid member of Ancestry.com. Over time my goals have evolved, now I want it all.  I want to take every line as far back as possible, I want to find every possible document, and share it with every interested cousin.

That means a whole new approach to my research, even thinking about it differently.

After watching and listening to about a half dozen of DearMYRTLE's hangouts on air over the past few months, ordering some books and joining some Facebook groups and Google + communities, I was finally ready to take a look at Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over and see if I could follow along at this late date.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that although his 13 week project was ending, another would be starting today and I AM IN.

So, I will be documenting my do-over/go-over here and hope that you will find my experiences helpful!