Saturday, August 22, 2009

If Peter Platter Pictured Places ...

Peter Platter made photographs in Seymour and vicinity for most of the years between 1861 and his death in 1919 at age 93. In more than 50 years in the business, he must have made many thousands of photographs. His obituary says he worked in all the mediums of his lifetime, from daguerreotypes to "modern" prints of the day. So ...

If Peter Platter pictured plenty of places, where are the pictures of places Peter Platter pictured?

A few show up in the newspapers of the years just before his death. A few have survived in the hands of various collections, including those at the library and those loaned to the library for its digital collection. That accounts for only a few dozen photos and none of the negatives.

Also making photographs during and after Peter Platter's lifetime were his son, Herbert, and a grandson. The grandson, Frank Platter, died in 1949 and hadn't been active in the studio since 1945. A 1950 city directory still lists Platter Studio, and the next directory lists another photographer a block further west on Second Street.

What I really would like to see and make copies from are photos of some of the businesses and street scenes Peter Platter made in his early years. In particular I would like to see the southeast corner of the Chestnut street intersection with Third Street (once Branch Street west of Chestnut) in the 1870s. The US government made photographs as space was being cleared for the new post office in the mid-1910s but surely someone, if not Mr. Platter, made older photos of that intersection. Surely they are not all gone ...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

More Programs This Fall

Check more programs we have planned this fall at the Seymour Library.

Amy Johnson, senior archaeologist and outreach coordinator with the Archaeology Section of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, will talk about the native population of pre-Jackson County days at 2 pm Saturday, September 19. With degrees in anthropology from Ball State, her main research interests are in prehistoric archaeology and historic cemeteries along with public education about archaeological resources and cultural resources laws.

Wesley Wilson, DePauw University archivist, will talk about using archives for research as well as reviewing Indiana and Jackson County materials and railroad documents in the archives at Greencastle at 6:30 pm Thursday, October 22. Learn more about the DePauw archives and the United Methodist Archives in particular.

Mark Boardman, who has been researching the "old west" and its outlaws for years, will discuss the Reno Gang at 2 pm Saturday, November 14. Mark is "the man behind the mask" on the Scarlet Mask website and publishes on True West magazine.

Hope you can join us! Don't forget to mark your calendar.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Genealogy Discussion: Part of the Fall Line-up

Early this summer a group of us headed to the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne for a couple of days of intensive ancestor hunting. This came after a series of classes at the Seymour Library to prepare for the trip.

Did any of us feel completely prepared even after all the planning? Probably not. The things we all do feel, I believe, are that we wished we had been able to do more advance work - and that we were glad we made the trip.

The ACPL Genealogy Center has one of the largest (some say the largest and I certainly wouldn't argue!) genealogy and local history collections in the world. I've visited there a lot of years, through three or four incarnations of the physical location, each better than the previous. I've long admired the phrase uttered frequently by the Genealogy Center's manager, Curt Witcher: "Nobody leaves with nothing."

I don't miss the lines at the card catalogs and the call slips to request books from my first visit during a national genealogy conference - but I wouldn't have missed that conference for anything. It was one of the first of a series of conferences and workshops I've attended at both state and national level over the years. I find the conferences are great for learning how to do genealogy, for meeting others passionate about ancestor hunting, and for renewing enthusiasm for pursuing history.

The open stacks in the collections at Fort Wayne are amazing - and yes, all the choices a bit overwhelming. What should I look at first? Why didn't I think of this or that as I looked at the online catalog and the PERSI index to periodicals to put together my advance plan?

The group that came back from Fort Wayne this summer asked if we could have genealogy discussions to delve deeper into some areas of research -- and the answer is, of course we can.

The deal is that everyone who comes will have to help by reading a bit about the topic chosen for discussion and introduce themselves with some new tidbit they took away from their reading.

The plan is that everyone will learn something to help with their research and likely will help others at the same time. If we need to, we can revisit the topic at future discussion sessions to learn more. Beginners are welcome as are experienced researchers. Everyone can contribute and learn. I plan to have a bibliography available soon with book chapters and websites to help with the first topic.

Here is information on the first two sessions:
10 am Saturday, September 19
Using Maps To Track Ancestors' Migrations and Marriages
10 am Saturday, October 17
Digging Into Passenger and Immigration Resources

No registration is necessary. Just come prepared with a tidbit (doesn't have to be long and involved) to get started and then help us choose topics for future sessions. Don't forget to put the time and dates on your calendar! See you there!

Here's Part of the Fall Line-up ...

Ah, the katy-dids have been at chorus practice for a month. The fall season can't be far away!

Check out the library's new fall classes and programs line-up. All are free! You spend only time to start your genealogy or get back to working on it. You'll want to check the Gen-Talk discussion group as well. These sessions deal not just with Jackson County but with ancestors anywhere in the United States and sometimes abroad.

The genealogy and family history classes this fall will ask you to think like a detective as you pursue your ancestors. Two identical series of classes give you a choice of time slots - Tuesday evenings or Thursday mornings.

The first class in either series will be in the meeting room at the Seymour Library. Plan to come at either 6:30 pm Tuesday, September 15, or 10 am Thursday, September 17. We'll try to define genealogy and family history and explore investigation strategies for basic name, date and place - and beyond. We'll learn to recognize, organize and follow clues.

We'll look at hidden sources in the library's local history area and track down sources in the rest of the library's non-fiction collection. Then we'll each pick a family line to trace as each participant starts an investigation on their own before the series continues the following week.

Then, as classes move to the library's computer classroom, we'll learn to use tools to help with our searches and to think about various ways of searching while doing hands-on searches for our own lines.

Sign up today and put the classes on your calendar! Add your name to the list at the library by calling 812-522-3412 ext 243.

Genealogy/Family History Mystery Series: You Be The Detective

Seymour Library Meeting Room
6:30 pm Tuesday, September 15, or 10 am Thursday, September 17
Shaping Pieces of the Puzzle

Seymour Library Computer Classroom
Limit 9 in each series. Registration and basic computer skills required. Library card useful.
6:30 pm September 22 or 10 am September 24
Taming Tools of the Trade
6:30 pm October 6 or 10 am October 8
Earning Your Gold Shield in Genealogy
6:30 pm October 20 or 10 am October 15
Following Clues, Fitting Pieces, Finding Your Man (and Maybe Woman)

Note that the Tuesday evening series skips October 13. No, I'm not superstitious - just have another meeting that evening. You might want to tag along and investigate the genealogy interest group of the new Jackson County History Center (merged genealogical and historical societies) at 7 pm in the genealogy library at Brownstown. Ask me if you need directions - or if you have questions about the series: or 812-522-3412 ext 240.