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Newsletter No. 31
- July 2009.
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1. Our welcome
Article – Forgotten Entrepreneurs
By: Dhyan Atkinson
news from: Family search
Months Featured Article: All About Resolving Conflicting
Genealogy Records By Malc Moore
1. Our welcome
Nice to see you. I just got back from
France. We took our grandson to see Mickey Mouse and friends and had a
wonderful weekend. The weather was beautiful. Then as the train came out
of the tunnel at Folkestone, the windscreen wipers were immediately
brought back into service...And it hasn't stopped raining since! St
Swithen has a lot to answer to!!
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Forgotten Entrepreneurs by Dhyan Atkinson
If they were living today, many of our female ancestors would be considered
successful entrepreneurs and small business owners with a home-based
business. A few generations back it was more commonly thought that women
were just “bringing in a little extra money to help the family out.” The men
in the family were considered the bread-winners. This was not always
strictly true. Many of our female ancestors made significant financial
contributions to their families, although often this contribution was not
considered valuable enough that recognition of our grandmother’s business
accomplishments passed down in family history. In my own family, I nearly
missed knowing about the business savvy and technical expertise of my
maternal grandmother. Having started my own business in the past few years,
it made a tremendous difference to me discovering that my grandmother had
done the same.
My grandmother, Emma Groeger, had a treadle sewing machine that sat in the
corner of her kitchen facing a west window. The kitchen was the heart of my
grandmother’s house. Not only did we all spend a lot of time in her kitchen
when we visited but when we were gone she spent her days in that sunny
west-facing corner sewing for her neighbours.
I had a deep nostalgia for that sewing machine. As children my sister and I
were allowed to sit in the chair and work the pedals. We watched the sharp
little needle flashing up and down. We got to go through the drawers looking
at the spools of coloured thread, the tiny embroidery scissors, worn
thimbles, cards of rick-rack and ribbon, and other sewing paraphernalia.
Best of all, the middle drawer on the left was full of rescued buttons, cut
from clothing before it went into the rag box. Big buttons, baby buttons,
cloth covered buttons, pearl buttons, special buttons, plain buttons… every
shape, colour and size filled the drawer. My sister and I would pour them
all out and take turns picking until we had divided the pile. Grandma then
gave us each a needle threaded with a long thread and a button at the end
and we made ourselves button necklaces.
When my grandmother died very suddenly her sewing machine came to live at my
parent’s house. It got tucked away down in the basement in a corner. It
could be seen, but no one could work the pedals any more and that special
middle drawer on the left was blocked by one end of the sofa.
One afternoon, 20 years after my grandmother died, my mother and I were
reminiscing about her and I suddenly said “Do you suppose the buttons are
still there in the sewing machine drawer?” My mother said she didn’t see why
they wouldn’t be; nothing had been touched or moved since Grandma last used
the machine. In a flash, we were down in the basement pulling the old sewing
machine out into the middle of the room where we could look at it.
It was different sitting at Grandma’s sewing machine now that I was an
adult. It was amazing to sit where she had sat so many hours of her life and
know that her machine was just exactly as she had left it the day that she
died. Yes, the buttons were all there! And, as we opened the rest of the
drawers, I smelled once again a faint scent of my grandmother’s perfume and
house and clear evidence of her life right down to the pencil stubs she
sharpened by razor blade, and the little spiral notebooks she used to keep
track of her sewing jobs.
Most importantly, we found something that day that completely changed my
view of my Grandmother. We found, tucked into the most current of her little
spiral notebooks, the final, cancelled check she used to pay for her house
from all her little 10 cent, 50 cent, and one dollar sewing jobs. The check
was dated 1945 and my Grandmother died in the late 1960s. Clearly she had
transferred that cancelled check from job book to job book over the years to
remind herself of what she had accomplished with her work.
I had never thought of my grandmother as a business woman. My family
referred to Grandma as a “housewife who took in a little sewing on the
side.” However finding this cancelled check prompted my mother to tell me
the real story. My grandfather was sick, hospitalized, and unable to work
for many years during the Great Depression. At times the family was so poor
they lived on tomatoes and bread for weeks. My grandmother gardened and made
all the family clothes but still times were so tough my mother had to quit
taking her beloved piano lessons because the family couldn’t afford the 50
cents per week they cost.
Eventually my grandmother was hired to run a youth centre in her town for
the WPA and later, when the centre closed, she boarded students from farm
families during the school week, often getting paid in chickens, eggs and
vegetables which kept her family fed. She began ”taking in sewing” (which
should really read “Began her own custom sewing business”) during a time
when other job opportunities were not open to women and at a time when small
town families could not afford “store-boughten” clothes. (Read that “She
found a great niche for her services which was in high demand in her
community!”) She was so talented that she had only to look at a picture of a
dress cut from the newspaper and she could make it herself. All during the
Depression she not only kept clothes on her family’s back and food on the
table but she managed to set a little money aside each week until she had
enough to purchase a lovely two story house, the very house she had dreamed
of owning for years. It cost her $6,000 in the 1940s but she paid for it
with the pennies, nickels and dimes she earned with her sewing.
Had I not sat at my Grandmother’s sewing machine I might never have known
she was an extraordinarily talented seamstress, entrepreneur and business
woman or that she was so proud of herself that she kept a reminder of her
success inside the sewing machine she used until the day she died.
Dhyan Atkinson is a Consultant, Business Skills Trainer, and the Family
Historian for her family. Although she works with all kinds of small
business owners, she specializes in helping people start their own personal
history business. Over the past 5 years, she has helped over 200 personal
historians learn the skills they need to find clients. Dhyan can be reached
Dhyan@SatisfactionByDesign.com or on her website at
news from: Family search.
FamilySearch Expands Canadian Census Collection
10 June 2009
Four pre-1900 censuses available for free online
TORONTO—FamilySearch, in partnership with Ancestry.ca and the
Libraries and Archives Canada (LAC), announced today the addition of the
1851, 1861, and 1871 Canada Census indexes to its online collection. The
new indexes can be searched for free at FamilySearch.org (click
Search Records, and then click Record Search pilot).
FamilySearch published the 1881 Canada Census previously online and
plans to add the 1891 Canada Census shortly.
Over a fourth of all Canadians struggle to trace their roots past 100
years. Having the indexes to all of the pre-1900 Canadian censuses
online will make it much easier for Canadians to extend their
understanding of their family’s history.
These censuses are part of the FamilySearch records access program
reported in May 2008 to provide public access to more records more
quickly. In this project, Ancestry.ca provided the indexes to the 1851
and 1891 Canada Censuses, and FamilySearch created the indexes for the
1861, 1871, and 1881 Canada Censuses. It is a win-win for the public,
who will have free access to all five of the pre-1900 census indexes
online at FamilySearch.org.
FamilySearch used its growing community of online volunteers to index
the 1861 and 1871 Census records. For the past year, volunteers have
logged online to FamilySearch’s indexing application from all over the
world, working seven days a week, 24 hours a day—literally—to accomplish
the feat. Thousands of volunteer hours later, coupled with the added
indexes from Ancestry.ca, the public now has free, easily searchable
databases of millions of Canadian citizens from 1851 to 1891.
“The publication of free indexes to these major censuses gives a
great boost to Canadian family history research. For the first time,
genealogy enthusiasts and historians may search online databases
containing some 17 million records of individuals who lived in Canada in
the latter half of the 19th century. Indexers keyed many personal
details—names, ages, birthplaces, religions, and residences—for
individuals listed in these early Canadian censuses,” said FamilySearch
chief genealogical officer, David Rencher.
Researchers will discover heads of households, their family members,
and any lodgers residing with a family at the time. They can also see
the street address where ancestors were living at the time the census
was taken, along with their age, occupation, and perhaps their
Free access to the indexes for the 19th century collection of Canada
Censuses is the first phase. Free access to the record images will also
be available to qualified FamilySearch members as soon as an
authentication process is implemented.
The 1881 Canada Census was published on FamilySearch.org in 2002. The
1916 Canada Census was also made available for free to the public
earlier this year through FamilySearch’s 4,600 family history centers
# # #
FamilySearch Public Affairs Manager
4. Next Months Featured Article
All About Resolving Conflicting Genealogy Records By Malc
Probably the best way to lessen the danger of conflicting genealogy
records and erroneous mistakes is to have at least 2 documents
supporting one another. Or is there a time discrepancy between the
actual event and the time where the conflicting genealogy records was
created?...More next issue.
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