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Showing posts from January, 2012

Canoscan LIDE 200: Using Plexiglass to Flatten Documents

Like many researchers, I use a Canoscan LIDE 200 to scan archival records where it's allowed. It's small (easily fits into my messenger bag next to my computer), lightweight (3.5 lbs), inexpensive (currently $75 on Amazon),  convenient (connects to my computer with a USB cable), and it works great. The challenge has been scanning tri-folded documents from a hundred years ago. It's impossible to flatten them so it's hard to keep them straight while closing the scanner cover. I've finally found a solution. A few weeks ago I had the clerk at my local hardware store cut a piece of thin plexiglass slightly smaller than the glass on the scanning bed. There's a small lip around the scanning glass and when I set the plexiglass against it the plexiglass becomes a see-through cover. I put the paper on the glass, straighten it, bring the plexiglass down on the page, and make sure the paper underneath is straight. Then I close the actual cover and scan. The plexiglass d

Chicago Birth Registers: W. P. A. Entries

If you look at the Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915 on FamilySearch, you'll notice that some entries read "W. P. A." Members of the Chicago Genealogy Facebook group were pondering those entries last night and I realized that my thoughts on the subject were too lengthy for a Facebook post so I'll share them here. First things first. What are the birth registers and how were they created? The short answer is that I don't know for sure. But, I have a guess that pertains to the books that were organized into alphabetical sections by month and year. (The earliest books are arranged differently.) Many early births went unrecorded, but when a record was created, I believe a doctor or midwife, or another person who attended the birth, filled out a birth certificate form and returned it to the county clerk's office. At that point, I think the county copied the information from the birth certificate into a birth register and assigned a certificate n

Chicago Lying-In Hospital Birth Records

When I look at birth certificates, I focus on names and dates and places--information I can add to a family tree. When I look at hospital records, I come face to face with the realities of giving birth. I think the records from the Chicago Lying-In Hospital and its satellite clinics provide fascinating and important family history details and I believe they merit a closer look. The hospital records are listed in the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC) as Chicago, Illinois birth records, 1896-1933 . The added author is Northwestern Memorial Hospital and I think the originals are most likely held by the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Archives . These hospital books document services provided by four clinics connected to Dr. Joseph Bolivar DeLee, the physician who founded the Chicago Lying-In Dispensary at Maxwell Street and Newberry Avenue in 1895. D r. DeLee was interested in improving birthing conditions and his clinics offered care to needy women while providing train