Monday, February 28, 2011

It Takes A Thief - Discharge Papers

 A while back, I wrote about breaking into the locked “safe” in my parents’ basement. Inside were numerous papers belonging to my grandparents. One of those items, I was particularly excited to discover was my grandfather's World War I discharge papers. Initially I thought they were the originals but upon closer examination I noticed they are a notarized copy. If you're familiar with the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center, you know that this is quite an exciting find.

The Enlistment Record portion expands on some of the details of my grandfather's service. This should help me verify information that I've pieced together from other sources and provide a more complete timeline. Down at the bottom in the notary area, it states that my grandfather has the original in his possession. I'm still hoping the original will turn up and have no doubt it might.

I also noticed Grandpa recorded his discharge papers with the Spokane County Auditor upon his return from the war.

I can see why Grandpa kept his discharge papers locked up and am thankful that he did.

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum
Photo by Marcin Wichary

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rescue From The "Chemical Sandwich of Doom" on Sorting Saturday

During a recent sorting episode, an album turned up in the Family Home. Husband and I were the star subjects as it was an album of snapshots from our wedding day, taken by the unofficial photographer (aka Dad)! I gasped in horror when I opened the album and saw what was inside. The pictures were neatly arranged in one of those horrible sticky "magnetic" albums that we now know are dangerous for our beloved photographs. Hence the name, Chemical Sandwich of Doom, given by one of my favorite archivists, Sally Jacobs, The Practical Archivist. (You can read even more about the Chemical Sandwich of Doom here.)

I decided to try out my new Flip Pal on this album. So one evening while watching TV, I carefully removed the pictures one by one, scanned them using the Flip Pal, and placed them in a new archival safe album. When the scanning was done, it was easy to load the pictures onto my laptop, in one batch, using the following filename format:


As a side note, I also found a "Mother's Album" containing pictures from the same day whose materials were much friendlier to photos than the Chemical Sandwich of Doom. You could definitely see the difference in the condition of the pictures between the two albums.

Another rescue mission accomplished.

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Calculators - 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History -Week 8

With the rapid technological advances in personal computing and the popularity of the World Wide Web over the last couple of decades, it’s hard to believe a handheld calculator was ever considered revolutionary. This baby was a huge deal in our family. Not only would it perform the basic functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, it had a memory, would calculate square root, sine, cosine, tangent and all kinds of other functions that a high school student would need (and that I can no longer remember)!

Consider this: in just a few short years we went from the stone age tools of the slide rule

And the adding machine that had been around for decades,

to a hand held calculator that would add, subtract, multiply, divide, and store the results

To the TI 30. And so on...

It really is similar to the rapid increases in power we have seen in personal computers in the last several years. Actually it is the early stages.

I am just happy that I never had to learn how to use a slide rule!

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin, of The We Tree Genealogy Blog, is a series of weekly blogging prompts in 2011to encourage you to record memories and insights about your life.

Slide rule photo by Tsuyoshi Adachi as thin-p

All other photos by Michelle Goodrum

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Friday, February 18, 2011

Baby Catch A Ball – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History -Week 7

I have to say I’m not really sure what my favorite toy was but I do have fond memories of Baby Catch A Ball. She was a Christmas gift, from Santa, discovered early Christmas morning by Sibling who snuck out to discover the treasures Santa left under the tree. I was then awakened and quietly ushered down the hall to be shown my new toy.

Baby Catch A Ball was a revolutionary, battery operated doll who would catch the ball when tossed to her just so. Then she would toss it back. At the time, she was lots of fun.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin, of The We Tree Blog, is a series of weekly blogging prompts in 2011to encourage you to record memories and insights about your life.

Related Posts:

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Friday, February 11, 2011

Here Come the Brides - 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History-Week 6

I had so many “favorite” televisions shows growing up that it’s hard to choose just one. However, there is one TV series I have close personal ties to that also stands out as a favorite. Here Come the Brides aired in the late 1960s and early 1970s and was set in Seattle near where I grew up, making it a hit series with the locals. Teen heartthrob, Bobby Sherman starred.

The premise of the series was that the young logging town of Seattle had a shortage of marriageable young women so volunteers from New England were brought west looking for husbands.

My connection, besides growing up in the Pacific Northwest, was that one of the brides, and a main character, Candy, played by Bridget Hanley, grew up a couple of blocks from where my family lived. In fact, her family home was right next door to my elementary school. Bridget’s grandmother lived in a little house in the woods in the back of their property. The school playground adjoined those woods and occasionally we would go over to the fence when Bridget’s grandmother was out around her house and visit with her.

One summer Bridget came home for a visit and an autograph session was arranged on her front porch. All the neighborhood kids and other fans waited in line to meet Bridget and get her autograph. Unfortunately, my family was out of town on that day and my parents wouldn’t bring me home so I could get Bridget’s autograph! We really weren’t very far away and I just couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t bring me home. So I had to be satisfied with verbal descriptions of Bridget, her hairdo, and her attire from my friends.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts in 2011to encourage you to record memories and insights about your life.

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It Takes A Thief - To Solve a Birth Record Mystery - Part 4

Photo by Marcin Wichary
If you are coming into this series on my grandparents' efforts to provide proof of their age for Social Security and my efforts to locate an original birth record, you might like to catch up by reading Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

What I found interesting in this document called Instructions on Required Proofs that Grandpa received from the Social Security Administration, is that there were two categories under Proof of Age.

Social Security preferred documents from the first category- Documents Usually Recorded in Early Life. Notice the last item - f - U.S. census record for the first or second census after birth. That is what Richard obtained back in 1960 (see Post 2).  I was surprised that the first or second census record after someone's birth would fall into this category.

Here was another surprise. In the second section, is a list of documents that could be used if a document recorded early in life was not readily available. Note item s - Delayed birth certificate.

Maybe I am mistaken but it seems like I've read, in several places, that people born before vital records were required to be kept often would obtain a delayed birth certificate in order to collect Social Security benefits. Yet here on this form from 1965 (see the year on the bottom of the form), the Social Security Administration is saying that a census record for the first or second census after birth is preferable to a delayed birth certificate. Very interesting.

Richard did end up sending in his Census Bureau transcript as proof of birth asking that it be returned to him, which it was (see Exhibit 5 below).

Sometimes in our research we need to accept that not finding something is still a good thing. I am thinking there is no reason to continue looking for a birth certificate for Grandpa, or a delayed birth certificate. He used a 1900 Census Bureau transcript as proof of his birth with the Social Security Administration probably because a birth certificate doesn't exist.

Going back to the original hypothesis in Part 1: Richard Roos was born 7 August 1895 in Los Angeles, California. It looks like I may have to be satisfied with the other sources I already have that prove this. That's OK as I have plenty of convincing evidence that my hypothesis is true (not to mention the fact that I used to send Granpa a birthday card every August!). If I could just get the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to cough up the baptismal record...

I hope you enjoyed this series and that it helps you with solving a genealogical problem of your own.

Exhibit 5 - Letter from Richard Roos to Social Security, dated 4 November 1965,submitting proof of birth

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Monday, February 7, 2011

It Takes A Thief - To Solve a Birth Record Mystery - Part 3

 If you are coming into this series on my grandparents' efforts to provide proof of their age for Social Security and my efforts to locate an original birth record, you might like to catch up by reading Part 1 and Part 2.
  • Sometime in 1963, or later (Thank you Susan in Wi for spotting the date when I could not!) On 19 October 1965, Richard received an undated letter from the Social Security Administration requesting proof of his date of birth in connection with his application for Hospital Insurance Benefits. (See Exhibit 3 below.)
  • Here's the good part. They included acceptable proofs and not just for proof of age, which is what Richard needed to provide. (See Exhibit 4 below.) This document includes a list of proof of marriage, death, burial expenses, court appointment of legal representative, dependency, military service after September 7, 1939, and proof of earnings. These might be helpful to you in solving other genealogical problems.
  • In Part 2, one of my readers, who wishes to remain Anonymous, supplied a link to the a Social Security Number Chronology.  You might find this helpful. Thank you Anonymous!

 Stay tuned...

Exhibit 3 - Letter from Social Security

Exhibit 4 - Instructions on Required Proofs (from Social Security Administration) - 2 pages

Safe Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary, reprinted under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic 
(CC by 2.0) adapted.
© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Friday, February 4, 2011

It Takes a Thief - To Solve a Birth Record Mystery - Part 2

Photo by Marcin Wichary
After years of searching for an original birth record for my paternal grandparents, Richard and Margaret Roos, and coming up empty handed, I discovered that they had been trying to do the same thing in the early 1960’s! So for all the searching I've done for grandpa's birth certificate, it's beginning to look like maybe there never was one. Or at least that’s the conclusion my grandparents reached.

Now I've always been confused about when people would try to obtain proof of birth. Was it when they were applying for their Social Security card? Or was it when they became old enough to collect Social Security? Judging from what I found in my grandparents letters and the related papers. It would appear that the answer may be the latter (although I'm really not sure so if you have some insight, please speak up).

Here’s what I’ve been able to recreate of the process Richard went through to obtain proof of birth. First a little housekeeping. In order to be succinct, I've bulleted each step and referenced the appropriate "Exhibit". You will find the image for each "Exhibit" at the bottom of the post, if you really want to get into the details.

  • In a letter dated 26 November 1960, Richard wrote the US Census Bureau requesting a transcript of his census record. He gave them the information regarding where he was living in 1910. (See Exhibit 1 below.) He attached a handwritten list of his family's residences on enumeration day from 1900 to 1950 and stated the purpose was "In Lieu of Birth Certificate." (See Exhibit 2.) To me that is a hint that Richard believed he did not have a birth certificate.
  • In a document from the Bureau of the Census, dated 28 December 1960, Richard received an "EXACT COPY" of his 1900 census. (See Exhibit 3 below.)
  • Several years passed...
Part 3 coming soon...

Exhibit 1- Richard Roos 26 November 1960 letter to US Census Bureau

Exhibit 2-Richard's census summary 1900-1950

Exhibit 3-1900 Census entry for Richard Roos

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yorkshire Pudding - 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History-Week 5

Photo by Food Stories

It's hard to pick a favorite food from childhood but one of my favorites was Yorkshire pudding. Recently I read that Yorkshire pudding was considered a poor man's dish. Poor man's dish or not, I loved having Yorkshire pudding with Mom's roast smothered in gravy. For some reason, we haven't had it in a number of years, but I do remember having quite a bit of difficulty the first couple of times I tried to make it. Let's just say technology got in the way.

One of the first steps to making Yorkshire pudding, after preheating the oven, is to melt a stick of butter. A simple task, it would seem. The first time I made Yorkshire pudding, I placed the Pyrex dish and the stick of butter in the microwave to melt the butter. It seemed more efficient: melt the butter while the microwave is preheating. For some reason the Yorkshire Pudding just didn't come out right. I mean, it tasted fine, but it was kind of flat. Fortunately, my mother in law, who grew up on a farm and is a brilliant cook, was visiting. She suggested melting the butter the old-fashioned way: by putting the Pyrex dish and the stick of butter into the preheated oven to melt the butter. Problem solved. The pastry rose just fine and tasted great. Just the way I remember it. There is something about the butter in the hot casserole dish, helping to make that pastry rise and turn out just right. I guess there are some things you just can't do with the microwave.

Without further ado, here is Mom's Yorkshire pudding recipe. I modified the instructions slightly to help those of us who think everything can be cooked in a microwave.

7/8 cup (that’s 1 cup less 2 tbsp.) flour

½ tsp salt
2 eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup water
1 stick butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a 9 x 11 Pyrex dish, melt stick of butter in the oven. (You need to both melt the butter and get the dish hot.) It helps the pastry to rise.

At the same time:
Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl:

Beat 2 eggs
Add milk to the eggs
Add the egg, milk mixture to the dry mix.
Add water
Beat the entire mix well until you have bubbles.
Pour the mixture in the hot Pyrex dish with the melted butter

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Serve with Pot Roast or Swiss Steak and gravy.

The pastry cuts to 8 servings.

As for my favorite dish today I'd have to say it's clam chowder. Manhattan or New England? I haven't figured that out yet. Our family keeps making both and debating.

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It Takes a Thief - To Solve a Birth Record Mystery - Part 1

In my "It Takes a Thief" posting from December, I mentioned how we broke into a safe in my parents’ basement. Today we are going to begin to examine one group of items found in that safe. I don't want to look at it from a show and tell aspect, but rather from the perspective of how these documents may answer a research question I've had for quite some time. I'm still left with some questions of my own, so maybe we can all learn a little from this posting.


Since I began researching my family history, I've been looking for birth records for my paternal grandparents. They were born in the 1890s, before vital records were required to be kept. Yet later in life they would need to present proof of birth in order to collect Social Security. What I discovered in the safe were letters written by both of my Roos grandparents. They were attempting to obtain acceptable proofs of their births for Social Security purposes.

My original research objective was to obtain an original copy of their birth records. The question wasn't so much one of when and where they were born, I wanted an original birth record to back up the information I already had.

Using my grandfather, Richard Roos, as an example, the research process I’ve been through for the past 15+ years looks something like this:

Known Facts:

Numerous sources indicate Richard was born 7 August 1895 in Los Angeles, California. Here is a sampling:
  1. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.
  2. Roos family Bible lists Richard’s DOB as 7 August 1895.
  3. Application for Equalized Compensation-State of Washington [WWI Veteran’s Bonus]. This document is in Richard’s handwriting.
  4. Richard’s death certificate (his wife, my grandmother, was the informant).
Working Hypothesis: Richard Roos was born 7 August 1895 in Los Angeles, California.

Research Steps Taken:
  1. Wrote to Los Angeles County Recorder, in 1994, requesting copy of Richard's birth certificate. Result: Issued a “Certificate of Search” stating they searched from January 1895 to December 1895 and were unable to locate a birth certificate.
  2. Wrote to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1994 and again several years later, requesting a copy of Richard's baptism. Result: I never received a response from them.
  3. Examined FHL Film 1033120, Index to Delayed Certificates of Births, only to discover that all of the surnames beginning with the letter R were missing from the film!
At this point frustration took over and I set the project aside.

Stay tuned for part 2…

© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum