Reference Blog Entries

Picnics: Recipes and Parks

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Picnic table overlooking a lakeNow that the heatwave is over, it’s a great time to enjoy a picnic. Picnics used to be incredible affairs hosted by the wealthy - in this account by Ward McAllister from 1890, his picnic included the temporary installation of a wooden dance floor, among other over-the-top luxuries. Nowadays, picnics are easily enjoyed by anyone when the weather is nice, no dance floor required. Take a look at our UA Recipe Collection (especially the appetizers!) to find something tasty, and head out to one of the many parks in our area:

Genealogy 101

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Old books with spines labeled "my memories," "family photos," and "documents."

Ever wondered about your great-great-grandparents? Genealogists enjoy studying their family trees to learn the often fascinating stories of their family members. If you’re new to genealogy, the Reference Department recommends several helpful resources:

There are two helpful search strategies for beginners - first, you can enter information about your ancestor in search boxes. In the above resources, you might be asked to enter a name, birth year, and location information. You might find some resources immediately with this method, but if you need to find a specific document, try checking the card catalog.

In FamilySearch and Ancestry, you can choose “Search” from the menu bar, and then choose either “Catalog” or “Card Catalog.” The catalog contains a listing of all of the resources that are being searched when you use the search boxes. Unfortunately, not everything has been digitized (and some records, like most of the 1890 census, have been lost to fire), so the information you’re looking for might not be available in one or both of these resources. You can tell for sure by checking the catalog.

If you can’t find a Pennsylvania marriage license from 1800 in Ancestry with the search boxes, go to the the catalog and do a title search for “Pennsylvania marriage.” From here, you can look at each of the collections that exist on marriage for Pennsylvania, and discover whether or not the county you need is included. If it is, you can search it directly, and if it isn’t, you can see if another resource has that information.

Good luck!

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