Thursday, September 6, 2012

Don't You Just Love Arbitrators

Over the past few years I have enjoyed spending a few hours each week doing INDEXING and ARBITRATION for different Family Search projects. If you have not been involved in this wonderful effort to make records more accessible through digitization and indexing, you really should take the time to get involved. There is one feature of the program, however, that for me has become both a "blessing and a curse," to quote Adrian Monk. This is the ability to review the arbitration of the batches that you have indexed.

Now, I know there are a lot of terrific arbitrators out there who do a great job. They have to make tough decisions as they arbitrate and sometimes the decision does not go my way. I am perfectly fine when this happens, because I am an arbitrator too. I know that at times you just throw a coin in the air and choose heads or tails when it's impossible to decide between two very good possibilities. That's why they pay arbitrators the "big bucks" (ha ha) – they have to make difficult choices sometimes.

What I don't appreciate, however, are the few arbitrators who simply plunge into the job without reading the instructions or without using their brain. To illustrate, let me give you a few examples.

This past summer as we indexed and arbitrated the 1940 US census, one of the common problems was with the three columns labeled at the top with the question "Where did this person live on April 1, 1935?" The indexing instructions were clear on what to do:

"If 'Same house' or 'Same place' or some abbreviation of those terms, such as 'SH' or 'Same H,' was entered in any of the three residence columns for April 1, 1935, then mark this field [columns 18 & 19] as blank, even if a place-name or some other term was recorded in this column."

Those were the instructions, but several arbitrators chose to ignore this. Here is an example where 'same house' was written in column 17 and New York in column 19. The instructions were to mark column 19 as 'blank', which I did. The arbitrator, as you can see below, chose to put 'New York' in the column, however.

Another, probably more important issue, is that some arbitrators do not seem to believe in RECORD MATCHING. One of the first things I learned as an arbitrator was to scan down through both the A and B indexed records to see if they matched up. If one of the arbitrators had missed a line or two so that some of the indexed records were not aligned, then I, as the arbitrator, was supposed to fix the alignment BEFORE I started arbitration.

The worst example of an arbitrator not performing record matching happened to me this summer on one of my indexed batches of the 1855 New York State census. The batches usually came with 90 names (two pages of records). Occasionally, a batch would come up with only 45 names (one page). The form for data entry, however, was still expecting 90 names. When this happened, most indexers would simply fill in the first 45 data lines and leave the last 45 blank. Sometimes, however, an indexer would leave the first 45 blank and fill the data in the last 45 lines. The instructions from Family Search did not specify a particular way to enter these one page images.

This is not a problem for an arbitrator who does record matching. The arbitrator simply lines up the 45 lines from each indexer before beginning to arbitrate. Well, on one of my batches, the arbitrator chose to not do record matching. Therefore, when he/she did the arbitration, he/she arbitrated filled data lines from my batch with blank lines from the other indexer and then blank lines from my batch with filled data lines from the other indexer, ignoring the fact that all the data was there from both indexers. It just wasn't lined up properly. My arbitration score on the batch was, as you can imagine, not very good – less than 20%. I got credit for the header data that was about it.

I have more to say on these issues, and will continue this on additional blog entries. Hope you'll come back for more.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Son Returns

The return of a son from a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is always a fun occasion. We missed him a lot, but the two years actually went by rather fast.

Elder Jeffrey D. Kowallis with his mother back home in Provo, Utah.

 Elder Kowallis at the Salt Lake Airport after arriving from the Louisville, Kentucky mission.

 The welcome home party begins.

 Dinner at the Happy Sumo in Provo, Utah. Around the table from left to right: Louise Boley Clark (Grandmother), David L. Clark (Grandfather), Leanna Kowallis (sister), Karl Kowallis (brother), Rachel Clark Robinson (cousin), Beau Stephenson (Brother-In-Law), Melanie Kowallis Stephenson (sister), Elder Jeffrey Kowallis, Julee Clark Kowallis (Mother), and me (taking picture) Bart J. Kowallis (Father).

 Jeff with welcome home sign on front lawn made by his brother Karl.

 Another sign made by his cousin Rachel.

 Elder Kowallis with his first mission president and his wife at the Salt Lake airport.

 Elder Kowallis with his sister Melanie and brother-in-law, Beau.

 Jeff's mom and brother Karl with one of the welcome home signs.

 Mom always gets the first hug. And below are a few more photos from the return of our missionary. It's great to have him home.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Samuel Bragg - Tugboat Captain

Tugboats of New York
This is a family that I have been researching that are related to my Duers relatives. I would be very interested in any additional information that anyone might have on this family. --Bart

Hattie Whitcomb was born in 1868, the daughter of George Melvin Whitcomb and Caroline A. Duers; she died in 1905. Hattie married Samuel W. or T. Bragg of Fort Edward, who was born in New York or Canada in 1849 perhaps to Albin and Mary Bragg; he died in 1919.  Samuel was a boatman,  teamster, and tugboat captain. Both Hattie and Samuel are buried in the Union Cemetery in Fort Edward, Washington Co., New York. They had the following children:

     1. Charles S. Bragg, b. abt. 1889 in New York. He only appears in the 1892 New York State census and may be the same child later called Alice Bragg in the 1905 New York State census.

     2. Alice Bragg, b. abt. 1888 in New York. Alice should have been with the family in the 1892 New York State census, but is not. Instead, there is a child by the name of Charles S. Bragg that is about the same age.

     3. Elizabeth Bragg, b. abt. 1893 in New York.

     4. George Albin Bragg, b. 22 January 1895 in Fort Edward, Washington Co., New York; d. of a coronary embolism while at work on 2 August 1953 on Lake Erie 30 miles from shore in what was considered part of Ashtabula, Ashtabula Co., Ohio. His residence was Ballston Spa, Saratoga Co., New York at the time of his death, where George worked as a seaman for the Great Lakes Oil Transportation Co. He was bur. 6 August 1953 in the Ballston Spa Cemetery. George md. abt. 1919, Viola ______, who was b. abt. 1896 in Massachusetts and in 1930 they were living in West New York, Hudson Co., New Jersey where George was a tugboat captain.

     5. Charlotte Bragg, b. abt. 1899 in New York. She may be the Charlotte Bragg living in the St. Michael’s Orphanage in Hopewell, Mercer Co., New Jersey in 1910. This makes some sense since her mother died in 1905 and her father was living in Jersey City, Hudson Co., N.J. in 1910 without any of the children with him. Charlotte md. abt. 1925, Francis Ara Bowen, who was b. abt. 1905 in New York. Francis was a farmer in Essex Co., N.Y. The connection between Charlotte Bowen and Charlotte Bragg was made by a descendant of Charlotte who left a message on the message boards that said the following: “I have heard stories for years about my great-grandfather, Samuel Bragg. I was told he was a tugboat captain around New York City when his wife died. He then sent my grandmother, Charlotte (Lottie) to the Wakefield family in Essex, NY where they ran the Lighthouse. She had a sister, I think her name was Alice, and a brother. I am not sure where they went, but know that the sister did marry and think she was still in the NYC area. Charlotte was born in 1916 and married Francis Ara Bowen and had 4 children, James (Bud), Francis (Sam), Alice and Ronald.”

1. 1870 US census, Sandy Hill, Kingsbury, Washington Co., N.Y., p. 57 (written) and 448 (stamped), dwelling 463.
2. 1880 US census, Sandy Hill, Kingsbury, Washington Co., N.Y., e.d. 138, p. 24 (written) and 171 (stamped), dwelling 238.
3. 1880 US census, Fort Edward, Washington Co., N.Y., e.d. 137, p. 12, dwelling 115.
4.  1910 US census, Jersey City, Hudson Co., N.J., e.d. 93, sheet 18A, family 316.
5. Charles B. Moore, Cemetery Records of the Town of Fort Edward, Washington County, New York, Historical Data Services, Glens Falls, New York, 1999, p. 118-119.
6. 1892 New York State census, Fort Edward, Washington Co., e.d. 2, p. 6.
7. 1905 New York State census, Fort Edward, Washington Co., e.d. 1, p. 34, Valley Street.
8. 1910 US census, Jersey City, Hudson Co., N.J., e.d. 93, sheet 18A, family 316.
9. Certificate of Death, Ohio Department of Health, State File No. 50477, Registrar’s No. 216 (image available on
10. 1930 US census, West New York, Hudson Co., N.J., e.d. 422, sheet 4B, family 100.
11. 1910 US census, Hopewell, Mercer Co., N.J., e.d. 37, sheet 15A, line 35.
12. 1930 US census, Ticonderoga, Essex Co., N.Y., e.d. 16-31, sheet 11A, dwelling 237.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Newspapers - Digital and Microfilmed

This is a list of newspaper web sites that I put together for a presentation at the BYU Genealogy & Family History Conference for later this year (2012). Newspapers are a very rich source of information for both genealogical (names, dates, places) and family history (events, stories) research. In the past, researchers had to visit the library or repository where the newspapers were housed and search through hundreds of pages hoping to find mention of a particular individual. Interlibrary loan made accessing these wonderful resources more affordable, but finding the information was still difficult unless you knew approximate dates of events to look for. Today, more and more newspapers are becoming available online, many as searchable documents. You can find information in the paper that was almost impossible to find in the past.

UNITED STATES (national)
1. Accessible Archives Historical Newspapers (Online, Library or Subscription, transcribed, no original images) – A growing collection of 18th and 19th century newspapers, periodicals, and other published materials (
2. Civil War Newspapers, American (Online, Free, images) – Searchable, indexed newspapers published during the American Civil War period from July 1860 through June 1865. Site is hosted by Virginia Tech University (
3. GenealogyBank (Online, Subscription, images) – Collection contains over 320 years of fully-searchable historical newspapers printed in small towns and big cities throughout the U.S. This collection also includes other historic materials (
4. Library of Congress, Chronicling America (Online, Free, images) – Historic newspaper pages from across the United States from 1836 to1922 (
5. Newspaper Archive (Online, Subscription or Library, images) – Large collection of newspapers from the United States and some other countries. The site claims to be the largest digital newspaper archive with over 1 billion articles (not pages) on their site (
6. 19th Century U.S. Newspapers (Online, Library subscription, images) – A collection from the Gale Group ( available in many libraries. This collection currently has 17,943,281 articles and was last updated on Sep 22, 2010.
7. ProQuest Newspapers (Online, Subscription or Library, images) – Collection of several important newspapers (Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Hartford Courant, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal) covering the years 1764 to 1998 (
ALABAMA – Alabama Newspapers on Microfilm Database (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Alabama has microfilmed 7.2 million pages of more than five hundred newspapers (
ALASKA – Alaska Newspapers Index (Online, Free, but index only, no images) – Index of some Alaskan newspapers from 1901-1999 (
ARIZONA – Arizona Newspaper Project (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – This project has filmed over one million pages, encompassing newspaper titles from 57 communities throughout the state and covering in part the years 1877 to 2002 (
ARKANSAS – Arkansas History Commission’s Newspaper Collection (Index of available papers, order form for copies) – The Arkansas History Commission's newspaper collection includes over 3000 titles published at around 250 different locations in Arkansas, spanning the years from 1819 to the present (
CALIFORNIA – California Digital Newspaper Collection (Online, Free, images) – A freely accessible repository of digitized California newspapers from 1846 to the present. This collection contains 55,970 issues comprising 495,175 pages and 5,658,224 articles (
CALIFORNIA – California Newspaper Project – (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The most comprehensive source of information about California newspapers. It has titles and holdings from more than 1,400 libraries, museums, historical societies and publishers' offices throughout the state and contains records for over 14,400 U.S. newspaper titles (9,000 were or are published in California (
COLORADO – Colorado Historic Newspapers (Online, Free, images) – This collection currently includes more than 500,000 digitized pages, representing 163 individual newspaper titles published in Colorado from 1859 to 1923 (
CONNECTICUT – Newspapers at Connecticut State Library (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The Connecticut Newspaper Project has microfilmed 1,094,446 pages and cataloged 7,161 titles of papers dating back to the 1755. Many of these are available at the state library (
DELAWARE – Delaware Newspaper Project (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The project has microfilmed 700,000 pages, including the state's first newspaper, the 1781 Delaware Gazette (
FLORIDA – Florida Digital Newspaper Library (Online, Free, images) – Includes over 1,000,000 pages of historic through current Florida newspapers, which are openly and freely available with zoomable page images and full text (
GEORGIA – Georgia Newspaper Project (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – To date the Georgia Newspaper Project has microfilmed at least one newspaper title from every county in Georgia in which newspapers were ever published. More than 2500 titles altogether have been filmed (
GEORGIA – The Atlanta Historic Newspapers Archive (Online, Free, images) – The collection spans the years 1847-1922 and includes 14 titles published in the Atlanta area; a free plug-in is required to be installed on your computer to view the images (
GEORGIA – Digital Library of Georgia (Online, Free, images) – Links to several collections of Georgia newspapers covering the years 1808 to 1994 (
HAWAII – Hawaiian Language Newspaper Collection (Online, Free, images) – A collection of historic Hawaiian-language newspapers published between 1834 and 1948. The newspaper images can be retrieved by word search, title, or date (
HAWAII – Newspapers of Hawaiʻi (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Microfilm of 260,000 pages and 476 titles covering the years 1834-2000 (
IDAHO – Idaho State Archives (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Microfilm of Idaho newspapers dating from 1863 to the present (
ILLINOIS – Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection (Online, Free, images) – A small, but growing collection of Illinois newspapers from 1869 to 1975. Currently has about 140,000 pages; hosted by the University of Illinois (
ILLINOIS – Illinois Newspaper Project (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – 480 titles microfilmed from across the state (
INDIANA – Indianapolis Newspapers Database (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Collection contains papers from the Indianapolis Herald, Sentinel, Star, News, and Journal covering parts of the years 1848 to 1991 (
INDIANA – Indiana Farmer (Online, Free, images) – The digital Indiana Farmer gives a rare view of rural Hoosier life from 1851 to 1917 (
IOWA – Iowa State Historical Society (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The State Historical Society has many newspapers from across Iowa on microfilm (
KANSAS – Kansas Historical Society (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The Kansas Newspaper Project has microfilmed 1.6 million pages and cataloged 10,330 titles (
KENTUCKY – Kentucky Digital Newspapers (Online, Free, images) – Hosted by the University of Kentucky and part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, they have digitized papers from all parts of the state between the years 1860-1922 and continue to add to the collection (
KENTUCKY – Northern Kentucky Newspaper Index (Online index, some images others on microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The Kenton County Public Library Newspaper Index covers the years 1835-1935 and 1982-Present with over 37,000 pages currently available in digital format. They are working to fill-in the remaining years and add more digital images (
KENTUCKY – University of Kentucky Library (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – This collection has over 4,750 titles cataloged and 800,000 pages microfilmed (
LOUISIANA – Louisiana Newspaper Access Program (Online, Free, images) – This site contains representative images of the earliest newspaper titles from Louisiana's 64 parishes and is a pilot project, a precursor to LSU Libraries' involvement with the National Digital Newspaper Program. This limited collection will not be added to; however, the newspapers selected for NDNP will be located on the Library of Congress' Chronicling America site (
LOUISIANA – Louisiana Newspaper Project (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The 1794 New Orleans Moniteur de la Louisiane, the state's first French newspaper, is among the 4.8 million pages of microfilmed newspapers available (
MAINE – Maine Newspaper Project (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Maine has microfilmed 356,000 pages of publications dating back to 1785 when Maine was part of Massachusetts (
MARYLAND – Maryland State Archives, Newspapers (Online, Free, images) – Several rolls of microfilmed newspapers have been digitized and can be browsed on this site. Years covered are 1802 to 1965 (
MARYLAND – Maryland Newspaper Project (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Since 1979, the Maryland State Archives has microfilmed nearly 300 Maryland newspapers (over two million pages) (
MASSACHUSETTS – Massachusetts Newspaper Project (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The 1690 Publick Occurrences, America's first newspaper, is among 8,127 titles in this collection (
MICHIGAN – Library of Michigan Newspapers (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The collection includes 4,446 titles and more than 900,000 pages from all 83 counties, and in many languages representing many of Michigan's ethnic communities (,1607,7-140-54504_50206_18643---,00.html).
MINNESOTA – Minnesota Historical Society (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – They house the largest single collection of Minnesota newspapers with dates ranging from 1849 to the present day with over 4 million pages (
MISSISSIPPI – Mississippi Department of Archives & History (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Includes newspapers from more than two hundred towns with over 830,000 pages microfilmed (
MISSOURI – Missouri Digital Heritage: Newspaper Collection (Online, Free, images) – Digital images from several historic Missouri newspapers from 1835-1966. This is still a fairly incomplete collection, but if they have the year you are looking for, it may be useful (
MISSOURI – The State Historical Society of Missouri (Online, Free, Images and Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Beginning in 1808 and continuing to the present the society has over 41 million pages of Missouri newspapers on microfilm (
MONTANA – Montana Historical Society (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The newspaper collection includes approximately 95% of the papers ever published in Montana on about 20,000 reels of microfilm (
NEBRASKA – Nebraska Digital Newspaper Project (Online, Free, Images) – A small but growing collection of digitized Nebraska Newspapers provided by the Univ. of Nebraska and the Nebraska State Historical Society. Currently has about a dozen titles from cities and towns across the state (
NEBRASKA – Nebraska State Historical Society (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The society has more than 35,000 rolls of Nebraska newspapers on microfilm dating from the territorial period to the present (
NEVADA – Univ. of Nevada-Reno Library (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Not organized as a separate collection, but the library does have microfilm of a number of historic Nevada newspapers that can be found by searching the catalog (
NEW HAMPSHIRE – New Hampshire State Library (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The collection includes more than one million pages, encompassing more than 1,644 titles published from 1756 to 1993 (
NEW JERSEY – Atlantic County Library Digitized Newspaper Collection (Online, Free, images) – Over 5,000 newspapers in this collection. The main focus is on Atlantic County; the papers date from 1860 to 1923 (
NEW MEXICO – New Mexico Newspaper Project (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The project catalogued 1,599 titles and microfilmed 500,000 pages. A film index is provided on the site (
NEW YORK – Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online (Online, Free, images) – Newspaper published from 1841 to 1955, then revived for a short time from 1960 to 1963. Phase I of the digitization project, which can at present be found on this site, covers the period from October 26, 1841 to December 31, 1902, and contains about 147,000 pages (
NEW YORK – Northern New York Historical Newspapers (Online, Free, images) – This online collection currently consists of more than 2,284,000 pages from fifty-two newspapers from Clinton, Franklin, Essex, St. Lawrence, Oswego, Lewis, and Jefferson counties (
NEW YORK – Old Fulton Post Cards (Online, Free, images) – Don’t let the title of this one fool you, or be put off by the somewhat unusual front page of the web site. This site contains over 18,000,000 digitized pages of searchable New York newspapers and is one of the best for New York genealogy (
NEW YORK – New York State Library (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Extensive microfilmed collection of New York newspapers available through interlibrary loan (
NORTH CAROLINA – State Library of North Carolina (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Selected titles microfilmed from all of North Carolina’s 100 counties totaling over 3 million pages (
NORTH DAKOTA – State Historical Society of North Dakota (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Over 3.3. million pages of microfilmed newspapers from 1864 to present (
OHIO – The Ohio Historical Society (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The OHS Archives/Library contains the largest collection of Ohio's newspapers in existence: 4,500 titles, 20,000 volumes, and almost 48,000 rolls of microfilm (
OKLAHOMA – Oklahoma Historical Society (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – OHS has the largest collection of Oklahoma newspaper titles on microfilm with titles dating from 1819 to the present. The newspaper collection currently consists of over 4,400 titles on approximately 33,000 reels of microfilm (
OREGON – Oregon Newspaper Index (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Index for the Portland Oregonian, Oregon Daily Emerald, and Register-Guard covering the years 1852 to 2004. The University of Oregon Libraries has microfilm of the three newspapers here indexed as well as microfilm for over 1,000 other titles not indexed (
PENNSYLVANIA – Pennsylvania Newspaper Collections (Online, Free, images, and microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Several collections of newspapers, some digitized housed at Penn St. University, includes a great collection from the civil war era (
PENNSYLVANIA – Pennsylvania Historic Newspaper Collection (Online, Free, images) – A searchable collection of historic newspapers ranging from 1826 to 1929 (
PENNSYLVANIA – Pennsylvania State Library (Microfilm via interlibrary loan, a few available digitally) – Extensive collection of Pennsylvania newspapers on microfilm. Some titles are now available in digital format (
RHODE ISLAND – Rhode Island Historical Society Library (Microfilm may be available through interlibrary loan) – Contains the largest collection of Rhode Island newspapers (
SOUTH CAROLINA – South Carolina Digital Newspaper Project (Online, Free, images) – Part of the Library of Congress Chronicling America project, this site shows the progress of the digitization effort in South Carolina and lists the titles that have been done and those scheduled to be digitized in the next two years (
SOUTH CAROLINA – South Caroliniana Library (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The SCL provides access to newspapers from around the state, beginning with the South Carolina Gazette of 8 January 1732 (
SOUTH DAKOTA – South Dakota State Historical Society (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – An extensive collection of historic South Dakota newspapers on microfilm (
TENNESSEE – Tennessee Newspaper Project (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – This site provides a way to search the database of over 10,000 Tennessee Newspapers housed in libraries across the state that were published beginning in the late 1700’s (
TEXAS – Texas Digital Newspaper Program (Online, Free, images) – The University of North Texas is the lead institution on this digitization project and is continuing to add to this collection that has newspapers published from 1829 to present (
TEXAS – Briscoe Center for American History, Univ. of Texas-Austin (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The Center's newspaper collection contain more than 4,500 Texas, Southern, U.S., and non-U. S. titles and is the largest collection of its kind in Texas. (
UTAH – Deseret News Archives 1850-present (Online, Subscription or Library, images) – Digital collection of searchable images. You may also browse the collection. Not all dates are available in the collection (
UTAH – Utah Digital Newspapers (Online, Free, images) – A growing collection of Utah Newspapers from both small towns and large cities from 1858 to 1972 (
UTAH – BYU Harold B. Lee Library (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – An extensive collection of Utah newspapers on microfilm (
VIRGINIA – Virginia Newspaper Project at Library of Virginia (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) –The first Virginia Gazette, printed in 1736, and the Richmond Planet, an African American newspaper from the Reconstruction period, are among 477,000 pages microfilmed (
WASHINGTON – Washington State Library (Online, Free, images, and microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The microfilm collection consists of over 40,000 reels of newspapers dating from the 1850s to the present, plus there is a limited collection of historic newspapers that have been digitized and are available online (
WEST VIRGINIA – West Virginia University Library (Some are available on microfilm via interlibrary loan) – The West Virginia and Regional History Collection holds the largest collection of historical West Virginia newspapers in existence (
WISCONSIN – Wisconsin Local History & Biography Articles (Online, Free, images) – Historical and biographical articles preserved in scrapbooks at the Wisconsin Historical Society in the late 19th and 20th centuries from hundreds of Wisconsin local newspapers, and a few from other states (
WISCONSIN – Wisconsin Historical Society (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) –The Society Library owns one of the nation's largest collections of North American newspapers, with more than 11,000 bound volumes and 100,000 reels of microfilm. Particular strengths include Wisconsin newspapers, colonial and early American newspapers west of the Appalachians, and the largest collection of labor and trade union newspapers in the nation (
WYOMING – Wyoming Newspaper Project (Online, Free, images) – Available through this website are all the newspapers printed in Wyoming between 1849 and 1922, in an easily searchable format. This includes more than 800,000 digitized newspaper pages (
WORLD – ICON: International Coalition on Newspapers (Online, Free, Links) – ICON develops strategies to preserve and improve access to newspapers from around the globe and provides a freely accessible database of bibliographic information for more than 25,000 newspaper titles from participating institutions. ICON also actively coordinates and supports cataloging of international newspapers in participating U.S. libraries to increase their availability (
WORLD – Newspaper Abstracts (Online, Free, abstracts and extracts) – This is a fairly small site currently, but it continues to grow with over 1,100 new pages of abstracts from newspapers added each month. It currently contains about 93,000 pages of abstracts and extracts from historical newspapers as of May 2012 (
WORLD ­– World Newspaper Archive (Online, Subscription) – Claims to be the largest fully searchable collection of historical newspapers from around the globe. The World Newspaper Archive was created in partnership between Readex, a division of NewsBank, and the Center for Research Libraries and includes historical newspapers published in Africa, Europe, Latin America, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and other regions (
WORLD – Paper of Record (Online, images, Subscription) – A Global pioneer of searchable newspaper image documents presented in their original published form with over 21 million pages of digitized newspapers (
AUSTRALIA – Trove Digitized Newspapers (Online, Free, images) – Extensive collection of Australian Newspapers. As of April 25, 2012 there were 6,926,297 pages available to search from 1802 to about 1982.
AUSTRIA – ANNO, Austrian Newspapers Online (Online, Free, images) – Newspapers from the Habsburg Monarchy and Austria dating from the 1700s to 1938. Non-searchable, click-through access is by date or by newspaper title. There are plans to make the collection searchable in the future (
CANADA (ALBERTA) – Early Alberta Newspapers Collection (Online, Free, images) – The collection contains both dailies and non-dailies (weeklies, etc.). Currently, the collection is organized by place and by the date of the microfilm roll, but does not have a searchable index (
CANADA (BRITISH COLUMBIA) – Royal British Columbia Museum Archives (Microfilm via interlibrary loan) – Over 11,000 rolls of microfilmed newspapers that are indexed and may be searched for on this site (
CANADA (BRITISH COLUMBIA) – Bill Silver Digital Newspaper Archive (Online, Free, images) –This collection includes 3 titles from the Vanderhoof District of British Columbia.
CANADA (NOVA SCOTIA) – Nova Scotia Historic Newspapers (Online, Free, images) – The collection includes 7 titles published in four very different Nova Scotia communities over a span of 210 years — 14,377 digitized pages in all (
FINLAND – National Library of Finland Digital Newspaper Collection (Online, Free, images) – The National Library has digitized the main part of the newspapers published in Finland between 1771 and 1900 containing approximately 1.7 million pages (
GREAT BRITAIN – British Newspaper Archive (Online, Subscription, images) – In cooperation with BrightSolid, the British Library has been digitizing newspapers. Plans are to place up to 40 million digitized and searchable newspaper pages online. As of April 2012 about 5 million pages were available with about 8,000 pages added daily. The newspapers cover the period from 1711 to 1950 (
GREAT BRITAIN – British Library Pilot Archive (Online, Free, images) – Searchable images of issues of London’s Daily News, The News of the World and The Weekly Dispatch, and The Manchester Guardian. The site is limited in scope and not likely to add additional images (
GREAT BRITAIN – 19th Century British Library Newspapers (Online, Library subscription, images) – This collection from the Gale Group ( contains full runs of 48 newspapers specially selected by the British Library to best represent nineteenth century Britain.
GREAT BRITAIN – British Newspapers 1600-1900 (Online, Library subscription, images) – This collection from the Gale Group ( contains over 3 million pages of historic newspapers, newsbooks & ephemera.

Friday, March 16, 2012

War in the Pacific in August 1945: Letters across the Pacific

Map of Okinawa showing the lines of advance for the American troops. They moved fairly quickly to control the central and northern part of the island, but it took much longer to secure the south where the Japanese had strong defenses and were determined to fight to the death. Okinawa was the last major battle of WW II.
This short excerpt is taken froma book I am compiling from the letters written between Norma Jensen Kowallis and Reinhart Theodore Kowallis while he was on the island of Okinawa in the Pacific and she was living with her parents in Pleasant View, Utah. It gives a different view of the close of WW II. All of you siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews, let me know if this is worth the effort.

Atomic bomb explosion on August 9, 1945 over Nagasaki, Japan. The picture was taken from one of the B-29 bombers used in the attack. This was the second of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan, both of which wreaked horrific destruction killing thousands of civilians and creating long-term health problems for many more.

As August begins, the men in Okinawa and their loved ones at home were all feeling as if the war might soon be won, but they did not know how very soon it would end, nor did they know how those first few days of August in 1945 would change the world forever. Reinhart was thinking that there was a good chance that several more months of fighting would be needed to capture the Japanese islands. The 10th Army is preparing its men for this by giving lectures and training on fighting and survival in the colder weather expected in Japan during the coming winter.
Even though the war in Europe is over, men there are concerned that they will now be shipped over to the Pacific to help fight the war there. Norma’s brother-in-law, Spencer Garner, has been in France but is being moved and cannot tell those at home where. They speculate that he is being sent to the Philippines or somewhere else in the Pacific. However, it turns out he was only being moved to Belgium.

On the night of the 4th of August, a few planes fly over Okinawa and drop bombs. It is the last air raid reported in Reinhart’s letters. Then on the 6th and 9th of August with the dropping of Little Boy and Fat Man everything changed and by the 14th, the war is over. Interestingly, on August 11th in his letter home, Reinhart reports on what he knows about the destruction caused by the bombs:

“I have seen the pictures of the areas that were hit by it. There is nothing left of them but a couple of cement buildings. There is no crater to be found because the bomb goes off before it hits the ground. The great pressure & heat exerted by it simply smashes everything to the ground where it burns like chaff. The heat that is produced must be tremendous. If such an instrument of war ever fell into the hands of our enemies it would just be too bad. There is no doubt but what a nation could be wiped out with one good air raid.”

On the evening of the 10th of August, while the men are at the show, a rumor was somehow started that the war was over. Reinhart, who was at the show, reported this in his letter home.

“Last night we were all sitting at the show when a red flare went off up on the hill, then some one started shooting tracer bullets into the sky. Pretty soon, from another direction, more tracers went up, and then several other areas started it. In about three minutes some one came yelling that Japan had surrendered. Well that is all it took. Every one jumped up with a yell, and about the same time the island seemed to explode with tracer bullets & A.A. fire. It went on for about half an hour before a stop was put to it. Of course this morning we learned the truth and from the news tonight it looks like it will be some time yet before things are settled.”
Servicemen on Okinawa watching a movie in the evening. It was an evening like this on 10th of August when the false alarm was sounded that the war was over.

Norma heard about this false alarm the next day on the radio and then the following day in the paper where it was reported that 6 men had been killed in the celebration and several others wounded. But the war was indeed almost over, and at 5 p.m. on August 14th, Norma and her family huddled around the radio to listen to President Truman. Here is her account:

“This morning we picked five gunny sacks full of corn & I spent the morning husking it & cutting it off the cob. We were all feeling rather low & uncertain of everything because The Code, which we had thought was the note of surrender turned out to be something else. I went to Relief Soc. & after meeting I went down to Barker’s store. Donna told me that the Jap note of surrender had now been received & in about two hours the Pres. would make a statement about it. I dashed home. Phyllis, Jay, David & Lynette were there & she too was getting corn. I went to work cutting corn & just at 5 P. M. the Pres. went into a news conference & about 5 min later we heard the news ‘The Japs have accepted the terms & have surrendered – This is official.’ A few minutes later they played the Star Spangle Banner. Glena & I both stood up with our pans of corn. You just couldn’t help it. It seemed so wonderful.”
Glena Jensen, Ruth Jensen (in costume as a soldier), Lester Brown, and LaMar Jensen probably about 1943. Lester is mentioned several places in Norma’s letters. Lester was apparently sweet on Glena, but she wasn't too interested in him. LaMar had enlisted in the Navy by August 1945 and was no longer at home.

Detailed map of the central part of Pleasant View, Utah showing families that are mentioned in Norma’s letters. As a member of the Relief Society Presidency, she frequently spent time visiting the homes of ladies in the ward. And because the Jensens did not get a telephone until after August of 1945, she would go to neighbors who had phones to make calls and arrange visits.

Finally, the war was over in both Europe and the Pacific. Like everyone else, Norma and her family want to celebrate and rush into downtown Ogden to be part of the big party. The party, however, turns out to be more raucous than the family expected. Norma reported that:

“We were all anxious to get into town & see the celebrating so we worked extra hard to get the corn done. Dad & Glena went down to milk the cows. Cheryl slept through it – Bless her little heart. When Dad got back we got into Audrey’s car & went into Ogden. Mom stayed home to finish the corn & take care of the kids. I’m telling you Ogden was just a bedlam. Dad, Audrey, Glena, Ruth & I were jumping, dodging & hiding behind display windows in order not to be blown up by firecrackers! I have never seen so many in all my life. We were really scared. One went off under Glena’s arm & burned her a little. One went off on a woman’s back. So many were drunk. There was confetti & paper all over. Cars had toilet paper streaming from them – tubs, tin cans & other junk rattling behind. Others had dummies of Tojo & Hirohito hangin from a pole. One drunk held out his arms for me to come along. We didn’t stay long because we were scared. It was really risking you life to stay. Dad said if he ever went down to such a celebration again, he would go alone. He had a time keeping up with us. Oh yes, there were snake dances too. The honking, rattling, banging was really something.”

It might seem surprising to find that “so many were drunk” in a Utah city where the predomintant L.D.S. Church preached abstinence from alcoholic beverages. However, Ogden, unlike most other Utah towns at the time, had a large population of non-Mormons due to its history as a center for the railroad. It is likely that not all of the drunkenness can be blamed on non-Mormons. This was an unusual time, a time when a great war had finally come to an end, and many must have felt the urge to celebrate in ways that they probably would not otherwise have done.
Ray A. Hales of Spanish Fork, Utah (left) and Enos J. Carlson of Logan, Utah (right) were fellow LDS Church members in Okinawa who spent time with Reinhart Kowallis. They likely had all been friends at Utah State Agricultural College. Ray and Enos had majored in engineering, while Reinhart had majored in forestry. Ray and Enos were also both in the ROTC at Utah State. The pictures shown here are from The Buzzer (1938), the annual yearbook published by the student association at Utah State.

Reinhart also has time in Okinawa to get together with two of his old college buddies from Utah State, Ray A. Hales from Spanish Fork and Enos J. Carlson from Logan. They reminisced on an old practical joke pulled by the forestry students on the Dean of Engineering, George Dewey Clyde (later the Governor of Utah). From his letters we read:

"Maj. Carlson came up tonight so he & I & Ray sat around and chewed the fat for a couple of hours. Both of them being engineers they did most of the chewing. But I did manage to remind them of the year 1939 when the foresters tied the cow to Dean Clyde’s door over in the engineer building. I recall very clearly that the cow was not too particular where she made her toilet, and the next morning several engineers were walking around with mops & pails."
George Dewey Clyde in 1938 as Dean of the College of Engineering at Utah State Agricultural College. Dean Clyde later became Governor of the State of Utah and served two terms (1957-1965). Dean Clyde’s brother, Harry S. Clyde, was married to Reinhart Kowallis’ oldest sister, Elizabeth. It is unclear if Reinhart participated in the prank pulled by the forestry students on Dean Clyde, but it would not be surprising if he was. The photo is from The Buzzer (1938).

Norma and her daughter Cheryl in the Jensen yard in summer of 1945.

Amidst it all, family and church and longing for home continue to be major themes in Reinhart and Norma’s letters. Norma reports on every little thing that Cheryl does, and every thing that Karla does to upset Cheryl. She continues to help her father with the fruit harvest, mostly apricots during August and to help her mother preserve beans and corn and other crops for the winter. From one of Norma's letters we read about a typical August day:

"We picked about 90 lugs of apricots today. Little Kenny Tams brought us our water as usual. He is the cutest kid. He brings us each a glass & then something to set them on. Then he brings us little presents all wrapped & sealed. Saturday it was carmels & today it was sweet pea seeds & a spool with two pins. He is just 7 yrs old but in just a short time he picked three lugs. He talks like a steam engine & keeps us entertained.
"Yesterday I took Cheryl to church. She is beginning to be quite a handful. She wants to get down & walk. Then she gets something to play with & some little kid comes over to look at it & she just bristles up like a banty rooster. She thinks all kids are like Karla & want to take everything from her & so she gets ready to fight for her rights. I hate to see her act like that. She is just starting & I try to tell her how nice they are but I don’t know that I can make her think Karla is nice when she is biting her or knocking her down every few minutes. Karla is getting such a pretty girl but she is really two handfuls."
Karla Garner in the Jensen flower garden in 1945.

Reinhart, on the other hand continues to take photos (war photos, people photos, scenery photos) and collect sea shells (mostly cowries) and send both the shells and the photos home. Towards the end of the month, he makes the offhand comment to Norma that she will need to start paying an additional $5.60 a month in tithing. She puzzles over this until she turns the letter’s envelope over and sees that the return address is to Capt. Kowallis, not Lt. Kowallis. He has been promoted, but doesn’t make a mention of it in his letters.

In August of 1945, Reinhart was promoted to Captain. The two silver bars of his hat and collar are indicative of the new rank.
Cowrie shells of various sizes and colors (photo from Cowries are gastropod molluscs, a type of sea snails common in many parts of the worlds oceans. They were used as currency among people in some parts of the world and have been also used in jewelry.

Native Okinawan women photographed by Reinhart Kowallis. He loved to take pictures of interesting faces and he found many of them on Okinawa.

You can read more about the Battle of Okinawa on Wikipedia,, and

Other good sites for information on the Battle of Okinawa during 1945 include:
And for post-war Okinawa, this is a very good site with lots of pictures from 1945 through 1972: Remembering Okinawa

Note: Be sure to visit my other blogs on Okinawa in 1945: