Sunday, October 01, 2017

Celebrating Digital Access: 1937 Lurie Index (Chicago Voters)

Example card from the Lurie Index of People in Chicago in 1937 as well as All of the Voters' Registration for Chicago

Today's post focuses on the Lurie index of people in Chicago in 1937 as well as all of the voters' registration for Chicago.

As the title states, this alphabetical card file appears to list registered voters living in Chicago in 1937 and it's important for a number of reasons:

1) It serves as a substitute city directory, filling in the gap between census years. (The last of the early Chicago city directories was published in 1928/1929.)

2) It lists people of the same surname living in the same house and can suggest family groupings.

3) It provides addresses.

These records can be accessed online from a family history center or FamilySearch affiliate library by folowing this path: FamilySearch > Search > Search by Title ("lurie") > Select correct title

Once the catalog entry loads, use the guide names to select the correct film and then click the camera icon on the right to open the digital folder and load the card file images.






At this point, there's something important you need to know.

On the original microfilms, the alphabetized cards run down one side of the film and then continue back up the other side upside down. When the films were digitized, cards from both sides were intermixed in a systematic way.

If the beginning or end of a film had a single row of cards, the digital folder images at the beginning or end of the group will likely be in easy-to-use alphabetical order. But, if you browse through the bulk of the images, you will see a progression that looks something like this:

Smith, Helen
Sullivan, George
Smith, Hope
Sullivan, Inez

I've found that it's helpful to quickly create a film key before I dive in to search for a specific card.

Let's say I'm looking for Eloise Smith.

I select the "Simmons, Dave - Stanford, Hamilton" film and see that there are 21295 images.

I type in an image number from the middle of the group, say 10000, view the image, and jot down the number and the surname.

10000 Spencer

Then, I click the arrow to move one image to the right and record that surname, too.

10000/01 Spencer Skul

Next, moving forward or back, I split the difference in half again, and do the same. Then I repeat.

See how a pattern is developing? Notice how the last two names don't fit it?

10000/01 Spencer Skul
15000/01 Sorock Sluzas
17000/01 Somers Smith, A
19000/01 Smola Sojka

Switch the entries so they do.

10000/01 Spencer Skul
15000/01 Sorock Sluzas
17000/01 Somers Smith, A
19000/01 Sojka Smola

The cards seem to begin with Skul and move down through Smola and then back up through Sojka and Spencer. Eloise Smith should appear between A. Smith and Smola, images 17000-19000. I would look at images 18000/01 and, depending on the name there, I would move on to 17500/01 or 18500/01. And, of course, when I got close, I would begin to go through the images one by one.

Unfortunately, the alphabetical organization is only useful in finding the first names on the cards. If Eloise doesn't appear in that position, and if I don't have a good idea of whose household she might have been living in, I will have to look at every Smith card to know if she appears in the index.

Note the numbers that appear after the address on the card at the top. Every card has a hyphenated pair and I'm thinking they might refer to voter registration district or similar but I haven't explored it. If you have other ideas or know for certain what they are and what use they might be, please share in the comments.

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