Posts Tagged ‘cemeteries’

Genealogical Research Exchange

Library of Congress - Washington, DC

I often find that if I step away from a brick wall or mystery for a couple days or weeks, and approach with a fresh mind later, things start to fall into place.  In addition, nearly all of my former brick walls were solved with the assistance of fellow genealogy hobbyists.

With that in mind, I’d like to propose a little genealogical research exchange.  Send me one of your mysteries, problems, or outstanding to-dos, and I will send you one of mine.  Let’s work on it, as time permits, for the next month or two and then return back our conclusions.

Living in the metro DC area, I have access to many genealogical resources. Some of the things I can help with are:

  • Pull records at the National Archives
  • Newspaper search at the Library of Congress
  • Obituary search in local newspapers
  • Headstone photographs
  • Research at the Daughters of American Revolution Library
  • Help preparing for a research trip to DC (most of the work should done before you even get here)
  • Check over your current theories and conclusions

Some examples of my research problems and to-do’s include (but are not limited to): handwriting analysis, newspaper & directory research at local library, missing census records from 1900-1930, and help navigating Civil War records.

My goals are to help out a fellow hobbyist and to learn something new.  Send me an email if you’re interested!

The White House Library contains over 2700 books relating to American life. The Federal furnishings were made in New York, 1800-1820. The room is used for teas, meetings, and press interviews.

District of Columbia Genealogy Research

Do you have ancestors that lived in the District of Columbia?  Here are some suggestions on getting started with local DC records.

Newspapers
Birth, Marriage, and Death Announcements

DC Public Library:
Baltimore Sun 1837-1985
The Washington Post 1877-1994
Washington Times 1990-Present

You may search in any of the 25 DC Library Branches or online at home, but you must have a DC Library card.

NewspaperARCHIVE.com:
Washington Daily Globe 1837-1855
The Washington Post 1904-1924

Requires paid subscription.

Birth and Death 

District of Columbia Department of Health Vital Records Division:
Birth and Death Certificates August 1874 to Present
Birth certificate is public 100+ years after birth: application $23
Death certificate is public 50+ years after death: application $18

You must have an exact date, they do not do searches and do not allow researchers access to the records. Use the Family Search index (below) to find your ancestors before you order.  DC Department of Heath Vital Records does not do online requests, but you can order DC birth and death records (if they are public) through www.vitalchek.com.  Here are the FAQ & Guidelines.

Family Search:
Deaths and Burials 1840-1964 (index)
Deaths 1874-1959 (images available)
Births and Christenings 1830-1955 (index)

Marriage and Divorce

Family Search:
Marriages 1811-1950 (images available)
Marriages 1830-1921

DC Superior Court Marriage Bureau
Marriage Records 1811-1980
Divorce Records September 16, 1956-Present

You may request by mail or in person with a money order $10 made out to “Clerk, D.C. Superior Court.” Include full names, maiden names, and the date of marriage/divorce and mail to:

DC Superior Court Marriage Bureau
H. Carl Moultrie I. Courthouse
Room #4485
500 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

I highly recommend calling the court first before mailing in your request: (202) 879-4840

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia:
Divorce Records prior to September 16, 1956
Call first!  (202) 354-3050

They may ask you send over a fax with all the known details and they will email you a response, either a copy of the divorce record or the location it is held in the National Archives.

Cemeteries

Congressional Cemetery 
Founded in 1807 and contains many famous Washingtonians, including J. Edgar Hoover, John Philip Sousa, and Elbridge Gerry.  Walking tour guides and an internment index are available on their website. More information available at the National Park Service.

Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown

Oak Hill Cemetery
One of DC’s best kept secrets and by far the most beautiful cemetery I have ever been too.  Local Georgetown residents often take walks through the gardens.  Founded in 1849, the cemetery’s history is mostly of the 19th century with an emphasis on the Civil War.  Take a walk through and do a quick google search of any of the headstone names, like Paul J. Pelz or Philip Barton Key and you’ll find some wonderful historical gems! An index of internments is available on their website.

Holy Rood Cemetery (no official website)
Established in 1832 and contains about 7,000 graves, including 1,000 free and enslaved African Americans.  This historical cemetery has been neglected for years by it’s current owner, Georgetown University and very few headstones remain.  A list of interments can be found at the Georgetown University Special Collections Research Center, open M-F 9am-5pm.

Mount Olivet Cemetery

Rock Creek Cemetery

For a full list of cemeteries located in DC, try using the findagrave.com directory here.

Other

There are tons of other resources for researching ancestors in DC.  Ancestry.com has a list of DC specific sources and the Family Search library has lots of interesting books and microfilm available for ordering, such as District of Columbia free Negro registers, 1821-1861 and Who’s who in the nation’s capital.

Hidden Habitats

Cemeteries are incredible historical resources.  They reveal information about settlement patterns, historic events, lifestyles as well as specific details on your ancestors.    I love visiting cemeteries.  The peaceful atmosphere provides the perfect setting for reflection and contemplation.

Cemeteries are also “hidden habitats” with all types of plants and animals.  You never know what you might find!

Taking a photo for findagrave, this little bird just flew up onto the memorial.

Your typical groundhog.

Sleeping in a bed of clovers, the mother deer often leaves the baby during the day so as not to attract predators.

Such a beautiful creature! Not what you expect to see in the middle of DC!

Friedhof Pörtschach

Greetings from Austria!

What better time to research my dad’s family history, then while on vacation in his hometown!  I’m really starting from scratch  and was hoping to visit the church archive and interview some older family members while on vacation.  Upon contacting the Archiv der Diözese Gurk (Catholic Church Archives), I found out that you must make a FOUR month in advance appointment to do research – a huge disappointment.  This was confirmed over the phone with the church archivist.  So, the archives will have to wait.

One of the first things we did was visit my Oma’s grave in Friedhof Pörtscach.  I loved my Oma very much.  We visited the cemetery many times with her, as most of her family is buried there.  On these visits, she had no interest to explain who was who and I had never had the interest to ask.  But times have changed and now my Oma’s name appears on the headstone with her husband’s, and I have lots of questions.

Who are these other two people: Matthias and Juliane Feicht?  My dad recalls that Oma would explain that Juliane was her aunt (…who liked to flirt with younger married men).  Aha! That tells me so much!  But who is she really?  She could be my great-grandfather’s sister; I have a photo with three mystery women one of which could be her.  Which of the three looks more flirtatious?  :)  Then again my great-grandmother could have had 12 sisters for all I know!  As my dad said to me leaving the cemetery “that’s for you to figure out!”

The cemetery visit still provided a lot of information.  All of my Oma’s siblings are buried there and I now have all their birth dates and spouse names.  We will return once more to the cemetery for further reflection.

To view photos of the headstones, visit the family photo album here.

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