Obituary Indexing Project, Programs

Remembering Mary Johnston

Waterloo County Hall of Fame Induction for Kathryn Lamb, May 2001

Left to right: Susan Hoffman, Kathryn Lamb and Mary Johnston, at Kathryn’s May 2001 Waterloo County Hall of Fame Induction

On Sunday, I heard from my Waterloo Historical Society colleagues that Mary Johnston had passed away on Friday July 7th.  Mary was a legendary character – sharp witted, talented, professional and caring. She was an acclaimed educator and principal, who had a public school named after her in Waterloo, a past Waterloo Historical Society president and a familiar face at WHS and other heritage events. But most importantly to me, she was a friend.

While I had not known her for a long time, she was that kind and gentle soul that made you feel at ease. Being very much taller than me, Mary was someone I looked up to literally and figuratively. In the past couple of years, she would drop in or all to say hello or to ask a question about a historical fact or event. I will miss her kind words of encouragement and upbeat personality. She could put a smile on anyone.

My first memory of Mary was meeting her at Heritage Showcase many years ago and then being told that she wanted to take a picture. Mary traveled with her trusty film camera, well into the day and age of digital technology. At each heritage event, Mary requested a photo of everyone and set about grouping us together. She would take her photos and a month or two later, an envelope would arrive with a couple of images of yourself at a recent event. Mary made history herself and captured it for the rest of us. Those photos are even now more special to me now that she is gone.

Remembering and honouring the life of friends and family is something that writer, Valerie Hill, does with elegance and honesty. Valerie writes the popular Lifetimes column in the Waterloo Region Record. I admit to being a habitual obituary reader and the appearance of Valerie`s column, for me and many others, is a must read. Lifetimes allows me to learn about the real person – not just the facts of death, family and employment that one finds in an obituary.

Valerie will be speaking about the Fine Art of the Obituary at the Central Library on Monday July 17, 2017 at 7pm. We are pleased to have her as our first speaker associated with our Grace Schmidt Room Obituary Indexing Project.  Please join us to learn about the unique challenges in writing about life and death, memory and loved ones. You can register for the event here or call 519-743-7502, during Library hours, to reserve your seat for the talk.

Cheers, Karen

Standard
People and places

The Grace Schmidt Room Is Now Complete

Susan Hoffman portrait in the Grace Schmidt Room

Portrait of Susan Hoffman in the Grace Schmidt Room

When we moved into our new Grace Schmidt Room (GSR) in May 2014, I always knew that the room never felt complete. With the frequent construction related moves, unpacking, re-organizing, new projects, new equipment and technologies to incorporate, staff, customers and general library life, there was one thing that was missing – a portrait of Susan Hoffman.

Susan was the first Grace Schmidt Room Librarian at the Kitchener Public Library. She is responsible for the collection and services we offer today.  She worked tirelessly developing the local history and genealogy collection and related services, which were launched on 14 October 1984 and continued that work until her retirement in late July 2006.

She was my mentor and role model. Happily, we have remained friends since her retirement in 2006 and keep in touch.  I miss her dearly – her humour, insights, encyclopedic knowledge of the collection, and quick wit made working together in my early days as a librarian so very special.

It`s taken me a while, but I`m pleased to announce that Susan Hoffman`s portrait is in the Grace Schmidt Room. While a framed portrait will never replace the time we spent working together, it reminds me daily of her professionalism, dedication and legacy – which is evident in all that we do and strive to achieve.

Susan is back in the GSR. And the Grace Schmidt Room is complete.

Portraits in the Grace Schmidt Room - Mabel Dunham, Grace Schmidt and Susan Hoffman

Portraits in the Grace Schmidt Room  (left to right) Mabel Dunham, Grace Schmidt and Susan Hoffman

Cheers, Karen

Standard
Digitized Directories Project

Digitized Historical Directories for Waterloo County Now Going Online!

Historical Directories

Grace Schmidt Room Historical Directories

I’m pleased to announce the launch of the Grace Schmidt Room Directories Digitization Project webpage! We’ve started the upload of digitized historical directories for Waterloo County with many more to come.

Thanks go to the Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation and the Waterloo Region Branch – The Ontario Genealogical Society for their financial support of this project. Volunteer support from Waterloo Region Branch OGS members, Darryl Bonk, Marion Roes and Jon Fear, in memory of local genealogist, Norma Huber, made this project possible. Their countless hours scanning, proof-reading and preparing the digital files was truly amazing. Thanks also to my colleague, Gary Bauman, for his work in making the project accessible to all.

Check back often as this collection grows!

Cheers, Karen

Standard
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

 

 

Standard
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

Standard
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

Standard
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.

 

Standard