Soldier Information Card Project

Honouring Our Military Heritage and Volunteers

Gordon Hamblin

Gordon Hamblin, WW1_H_049 Kitchener Public Library Soldier Card Collection

Join us on Tuesday November 18, 2014 at 7:00pm to hear Assistant Professor Geoffrey Hayes of the University of Waterloo speak about Waterloo County’s Great War Heritage. The lecture will be in the Theatre of the Central Library.  It’s free and no registration is required. On Remembrance Day, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Hayes speak at the Global Youth Summit on War and Remembrance at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI).  It was a fascinating lecture which captivated and engaged the youthful participants in CIGI’s auditorium.

We’ll also be honouring the Soldier Information Card volunteers who have brought to life the lives of Waterloo Region/County’s soldiers through their transcriptions and research.  The Soldier Cards are being uploaded daily to the Library’s online site on Our Digital World. Check out the growing Soldier Information Card Collection here.

I look forward to seeing everyone on Tuesday!

Cheers, Karen

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Soldier Information Card Project

We will remember them

Private Nelson Chaplin Clay

Private Nelson Chaplin Clay, P002116, Waterloo County Soldier Portrait Collection, KPL

The haunting words of Laurence Binyon’s poem, For the Fallen, were penned in September 1914 following early British casualties at the outbreak of the Great War. In particular, the stanza:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

always makes me tear up.  There is something deeply profound and compelling about the promise to remember – a duty owed to those who served and continue to serve our country.

It’s been an emotional year working on the Soldier Information Cards, coupled with recent murders of two Canadian servicemen on home soil and Canada’s new military role in Iraq.  I am reminded everyday of the lives, young and old, which were lost, shattered and forever changed by conflict and in the struggle to maintain peace and order.

I don’t come from a military family. However, I have recently discovered a cousin of my Welsh great-grandfather who fought with the Royal West Surrey Regiment in the First World War. Private Robert J. H. Edwards died in battle, at the age of 30, on 22 October 1917, in Belgium, leaving behind a wife and four young children in South Wales.  The details of his military career and life are still sketchy, but I feel compelled to keep digging to find out more – to tell his story, to remember.

Who will you remember?

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Programs

‘Tis the season to remember

Poppies by Giuseppe Moscato.  Image source: Flickr.  Used under Creative Commons license.

Poppies by Giuseppe Moscato (www.flickr.com/photos/pinomoscato/) Image source: Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

As November descends upon us, the season of remembrance begins. This year, it seems all the more poignant with the recent tragic deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo. Remembrance is truly a season of reflection, gratitude and thankfulness.

This week, we’ll be remembering the gallant efforts of the Canadian military at the D-Day landing over 70 years ago.  Please join us on Tuesday 4 November 2014 as Ted Barris brings to life the stories, photos and individuals of Canada’s military on that fateful day back in 1944. Ted’s lecture will be held in the Central Library Theatre starting at 7pm.  No registration or ticket required. Information for the event can be found here.

Cheers, Karen

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KPL Genealogy Fair 2015

Save the Date for the KPL Genealogy Fair!

April 25

Friday, Looking so grey outside DSCF2879 photo by Flickr user tomylees https://www.flickr.com/people/71256895@N00/ . Used under Creative Commons – Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license

Drum roll please!

Mark your calendars for the next KPL Genealogy Fair – it’s going to be held on Saturday April 25, 2015 at the Central Library!

Stay tuned for an announcement about the keynote speaker! I know that you’ll be pleased. It’s been so difficult keeping this secret!

Cheers, Karen

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Soldier Information Card Project

The Long March Begins – Soldier Information Cards Online

Harold Warren, WW1

Harold Warren, World War One, Soldier Information Card

 

While it may seem like it’s all quiet on the Library front, we have busily been working on uploading Soldier Information Cards to our online site. We are focussing on uploading the transcribed cards first as these can be processed quickly.  As we are working on them, we have discovered that working on them while on a public desk is tricky – so we steal away precious moments off-desk to work on the cards.

My co-workers regularly tell me how the cards, photographs and soldier stories have touched them – just as we have been heard from the Soldier Card Project volunteers as they worked on the cards.  The tragic deaths of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in recent days remind all of the sacrifices that our military personnel make in defending our rights and freedoms.

Adopted soldiers who have been researched will be the second set uploaded.  We have been discovering some of the unanswered questions about our little known and difficult to research soldiers may lie in the recently digitized WWI military service files now online at Library and Archives Canada. So it’s one step forward and a sometimes a couple steps back as new information comes to light.  There are still those soldiers for whom nothing exists and we’ll be posting those online for anyone to comment or provide information.

You may not be hearing regularly from Ingrid and Meghan about WWI adoptions and Becky and Karen T. about WW2 transcriptions as they are now primarily focused on card uploading until Christmas. The database will not be completely uploaded by our November 11, 2014 target date, but we are hoping to be able to share a good selection of them by mid-November. When we get closer to Remembrance Day, I’ll post the link to the collection in our online database.

I do hope that all of our Soldier Card Project volunteers will be able to join us on Tuesday November 18th for a special event that will happen prior to Geoff Hayes’ talk on Waterloo County Soldiers in World War 1. An invitation will be going out to SIC project volunteers by email later this week.

Cheers, Karen

 

 

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Uncategorized

Celebrating 30 Years of KPL’s Local History

Birthday Cake by Will Clayton

Birthday Cake – photographer Will Clayton   http://www.flickr.com/photos/spool32/

On Tuesday October 14, 2014, the Grace Schmidt Room of Local History will turn 30 years old. While not a monumental milestone, 30 years of local history preservation, research, reference and access is something to celebrate! The vision of the Library, Waterloo Historical Society and the then-named Waterloo-Wellington (now Waterloo Region) Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society helped to forge a partnership in the Grace Schmidt Room that has seen the local history and genealogy collections and services grow over the years. We have been very fortunate in having such wonderful partners and supporters in the GSR. Thank you!

If you are at the Central Library on Tuesday October 14th between 1pm and 3pm, please stop by the Grace Schmidt Room for a piece of cake.  We’d love to hear about your favourite moments and finds in the GSR.  If you can’t join us, please feel free to comment on the blog.

Cheers, Karen.

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Guest Posts

Funerals, Furniture and Finds

George Rosenblatt

Studio portrait of George Rosenblatt of St. Clements. Used with permission of owner.

I am pleased to welcome Waterloo Historical Society Past-President, Marion Roes, as a guest blogger to Historically Speaking. Marion’s particular passion is the study of local undertakers.  She is the recipient of the 2014 Edna Staebler Research Fellowship at the Joseph Schneider Haus. Marion will be presenting her research findings at Schneider Haus in February 2015 during Heritage Week. I am honoured to call her a friend and colleague. Although most of our conversations end up talking about death for some strange reason…

Cheers, Karen.

Researching Waterloo Region funeral businesses and practices for the Edna Staebler Research Fellowship has led me to an unexpected business in St. Clements.  I discovered that George Rosenblatt, a furniture maker in St. Clements, was licensed by the Board of Funeral Services, Toronto, from 1914 to 1923. Nancy Maitland, archivist for the Wellesley Township Heritage and Historical Society, pointed me to photos and a contact for a Rosenblatt descendent.  Through the family member, I learned that the Rosenblatt Furniture Factory, later named Rosenblatt Artworks, was started with George’s father, John, about 1864. The business operated until 1932, when it burned down.

As the Rosenblatt records had been donated to the Grace Schmidt Room, I eagerly awaited the return of the archival collection.  Among the many photos, an Artworks catalogue, correspondence and orders in the Rosenblatt archives, I came across a 1917 Income Tax Return giving George’s occupation as “Wooden Artwork and Undertaking.” That one-line mention of George in the records has grown to several paragraphs in my research report.  If my research focus was broader than just undertaking, I could write a mini-history about a company in the rural village of St. Clements which shipped its manufactured products across Canada – and to the nearby St. Clement Roman Catholic Church.

Why did George Rosenblatt have a license? Perhaps, it was because the nearest funeral businesses in the early 1900s were in Waterloo, Elmira, Wellesley and Linwood. He did make coffins but a license wasn’t needed to do that. While I may not get all the answers that I’m seeking, I’ve been finding lots of information about local funeral businesses and practices – in the GSR, City of Cambridge Archives, Wellesley, Waterloo Region Museum Curatorial Centre, interviews and from helpful colleagues.  There just might be enough for a book!

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