Obituary Indexing Project

Obituary Obsessions

Obituaries in the newspaper

Obituaries in the newspaper

Do you, like me, find yourself regularly turning to the obituaries in the newspaper? No matter what world, national or local events might have my attention that particular day in the newspaper, I always find myself checking the obituaries. Scanning the names and photos, I look for people I’ve known, might have met or heard about. Inevitably, I end up reading most of them – regardless whether or not I had any connection to them. I find fascinating the stories, memories, personal histories and linkages with family and community.  The heartbreaking stories of loss, celebrations of lives lived and how we memorialize and remember our loved ones has always intrigued me.

Over the last while, staff in the Grace Schmidt Room have been thinking about how obituaries connect and fascinate us all.  For genealogists, obituaries unlock family relationships, histories and personal stories and open new avenues of research and discovery. To the local historian, an obituary provides personal signposts to a community story or chapter of history.  The lack of indexing for historical obituaries has frustrated staff and researchers alike.

To that  end, I am happy to announce that we are launching a new volunteer project to undertake the creation of a searchable online index to obituaries in our local newspapers. We’re  looking for volunteers who would like to scan obituaries from our newspaper microfilm collection, index the obituaries, and check the obituary indexing submitted by fellow volunteers.  With the exception of the scanning work, volunteers will be able to work from home – we’ll send you digital files needed, including a data entry form. Completed indexing files will then be sent to a fact checker and returned to us for upload.  If you are a regular obituary reader and are interested in indexing current editions of  newspaper, please let us know when you apply. Information about the Obituary Indexing Project can be found here. If you are interested in applying, you can find the application form here.

Our project will also include obituary related programs and events in the fall. Stay tuned to the blog for more details!

Cheers, Karen

 

 

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Community Events

Waterloo County House of Industry and Refuge website launch

House of Refuge, Berlin, Ontario, 1908

P009266  KPL House of Refuge, Berlin, Ontario, 1908 (postcard)

This Friday marks the public launch of a new website: www.waterloohouseofrefuge.ca, which explores the history, stories and reality of life in the Waterloo County House of Industry and Refuge. Also known as the ‘poorhouse’, the House of Refuge provided a place to live and work  for the indigent, elderly and people living  with mental and physical impairments who were unable to support themselves or be supported by their families. The website explores their care, treatment and prevailing attitudes towards the poor and infirm.

Information regarding the Lunch and Learn launch, at the Wilfrid Laurier School of Social Work, 120 Duke Street West, on Friday March 10, 2017 from 12-1:30, can be obtained by contacting  lcoakley@wlu.ca

Cheers, Karen

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Christmas

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year postcard, 1910

Happy New Year postcard, postmarked 23 Dec 1910, to Miss Pearl Bracy of Bridgeport (2016-090 WHS)

I wanted to take this moment to wish everyone a Happy New Year from the Grace Schmidt Room of Local History! We’ve had a busy year and look forward to sharing our finds, discoveries and insights with you here on the blog.

Be sure to come check out our displays, book scanner and more in the GSR!

Have a safe, happy and healthy 2017!

Cheers, Karen

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Christmas, People and places

Holiday wishes from the Jonas family

Jonas Christmas card, ca. 1920

Christmas Card from Henry and Elisa Jonas, ca. 1920 (2016-061 KPL)

They say great things arrive in small packages. Back in August, a padded envelope arrived via the regular mail. I was delighted to find a short note from a Grace Schmidt Room blog follower and a donation of a wedding invitation and two Christmas cards.

Intrigued by the donation, I dove into some research which I’d like to share with you.

The Christmas card, likely sent in the 1920s, was from Henry and Elisa Jonas of 112 Waterloo Street, Kitchener, ON. The simple elegance of this card, which is missing the bottom of the gold letter J in the lower half, harkens back to a quieter time and age.

Jonas Christmas message

Christmas message from Henry and Elisa Jonas, Kitchener, ON (2016-061 KPL)

I love the simplicity and cheerfulness of their holiday message – well wishes for happiness, friendship, and Christmas cheer – who could want more?

So who were the Jonases? Henry was born Hermann Heinrich Jonas on 23 June 1881 in Berlin to Hermann Jonas and Caroline (later recorded as Henrietta) Schultz. According to the 1901 Census of Canada, Henry was a machinist, living with his family in Berlin. Elisa Schwartz, according to the 1901 Census of Canada and her marriage registration, was born 15 December 1884, in Waterloo.  Her parents were August Bernard Schwartz and Catherine Berdux. By the age of 16, Elisa was working in a laundry, while living with her family.

This is the 23 April 1907 wedding invitation of  Henry and Elisa.

Wedding details - Henry Jonas and Elisa Schwartz

Wedding invitation – Henry Jonas and Elisa Schwartz, 23 April 1907, Berlin, ON

At the time of his marriage to Elisa (also known as Elizabeth), Henry was working as a machinist and lived at 114 Waterloo Street in Berlin.

By the time of the 1921 census, Henry was working at the Wunder Furniture Company. His home address was given as 112 Waterloo Street, Kitchener.

Henry and Elizabeth had several children: Irene (born 1909), Milton (born 1910), Gertrude (born 1911), Edward (born 1913, a twin to Edna who passed away at the age of 5 months), Harry (born 1915), and Robert (born 1918).

Henry passed away on 4 February 1936, as a result of a heart attack brought about by overexertion while shoveling snow. Elizabeth died on 17 June 1967 in Waterloo. They are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, Kitchener.

A belated Merry Christmas to everyone from all of us in the Grace Schmidt Room of Local History!

And all the best for the New Year!

Cheers, Karen.

 

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Programs

The Long and Winding Road from Berlin to Kitchener

P000361 WHS

P000361 WHS Rescue of Kaiser’s Bust from Victoria Park Lake – August 1914

In the political, social and economic turmoil of the early years of World War One, our community changed. Bitter debates over loyalty and patriotism,  vandalism and theft of the Kaiser’s bust, unruly recruits from the 118th Battalion, and fears of economic loss over a “Made in Berlin” manufacturing identity, helped propel a name change few wanted, and for which only a handful voted. When the dust settled on September 1, 1916, we were no longer ‘Berlin’, but ‘Kitchener’. The city’s name change marked a defining moment in our history and identity – or did it? It has been said that “words have meaning and names have power” (author unknown). In this context, did the name change from Berlin to Kitchener hold historical significance or was it merely a casualty of wartime economics? Did we change as a community as a result of the name change or are we still Berlin at heart?

Join us at the Central Library on Thursday 15 September 2016 at 7pm in the Theatre to hear University of Waterloo professors, Geoff Hayes (History) and Mat Schulze (German Studies) and local historian, rych mills, discuss the nationalist divides, local stories, and how the bilingual nature of Berlin/Kitchener affected the controversy. Carl Zehr, former mayor of Kitchener, will be the moderator of this panel discussion entitled, Von Berlin to Kitchener, Connotations and Cultures. It’s a free event and no registration is required. Click here for more information on the event.

I’m looking forward to this discussion and I’m sure that you will too.

Cheers, Karen

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KPL Genealogy Fair 2016

Full steam ahead for Kitchener Public Library’s 5th Genealogy Fair!

Kitchener Public Library 5th Genealogy Fair

KPL 5th Genealogy Fair – Saturday 5 November 2016, Central Library

The countdown to Kitchener Public Library’s 5th Genealogy Fair begins!  Please join us on Saturday 5 November 2016, from 9am to 3:30pm, at the Central Library for  learning, fun, and hopefully, a few found ancestors! It’s a free event and no registration is required!

Our list of speakers and participating exhibitors and vendors is now up! The schedule of workshops will be posted in October.

Jen Baldwin of FindMyPast will be our keynote speaker. She’ll be speaking on genealogy’s next generation and how genealogists of all ages can connect through a common passion for family history, preservation of the past and learning from one another.

We will update the Genealogy Fair webpage with new information and changes, so check back often!

Looking forward to seeing everyone on Saturday 5 November 2016!

Cheers, Karen

 

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Programs

Joe’s Been Listening to the Past

Joe PaVIA

Joe Pavia

In the Grace Schmidt Room, we are very lucky to have a volunteer named Joe Pavia. He is helping to digitize our Oral History Tape collection. He’s been listening to our past. I know because he tells me about the fascinating people, interviews and lives captured on those old audio cassettes in the GSR.

Joe takes home a box of cassettes every month or two and returns digitized copies to us. Each time, he has a new story – about a person, place or event retold in the tape. Joe’s love of a good story has been honed over a fascinating career in radio and news reporting. His blog, Station to Station with Joe Pavia, is a fantastic view into his world, career, interests and observations. And, you get to listen to Joe tell his stories through his podcasts.

Our oral history collection consists of over 1000 audio cassettes, containing over 500 interviews. As the collection ages, it becomes ever more critical that these tapes be converted to digital format. We’ll be uploading Joe’s work over the summer so that it will be accessible via the KPL website.

Oral History Cassette Tape in the GSR

Oral History Cassette Tape in the GSR

In the meantime, please join Joe in the Grace Schmidt Room on Oral History Program with Joe Pavia to learn about his oral history tape project. If you love a good story and learning about Kitchener and Waterloo Region’s past, Joe can tell you about the characters, adventures and events captured in the oral history collection at KPL. This program is part of the Latitudes Storytelling Festival being held at the Central Library.

Cheers, Karen.

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