Needless to say, the pandemic has totally thrown my year, but I’ve been sitting on a version of this post for a while. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get back into a more normal run of posts anytime soon, but I will endeavor to at least post more.

Some of you know I was working on a presentation on occupational records and resources for a Virtual Genealogical Association webinar last week. It was another presentation that was truly meant to get researchers out and about looking for information in libraries, archives, and museums. Then… pandemic. But, in the retooling of the presentation, I found so many interesting and cool online resources that I really thought they were going to have to cut me off for going too long. Suffice to say, there is much that can be done online—but you should also be making the list of places to visit when it is safe for you to do so too.

I’ve talked about examples of occupational records/resources on the blog before: Henry R. Massy’s  Police Force Application, Grandpa Bailey’s work photo from Kirkhoff Manufacturing, labor union publications. But being in lockdown gave me time to explore other resources. For example, did you know that Ancestry has record sets like U.S., Baseball Questionnaires, 1945-2005—a collection of self-completed surveys including the likes of Roger Marais, Ken Griffey, Jr  (and Sr.), or former Detroit Tiger Brad Ausmus. Or maybe you need a record set more down to earth? They also have a collection called Wisconsin, Employment Records, 1903-1988—including the four occupations for which one needed a license: education, barbering, watchmaking, and boxing.

Family Search has a variety of collections like the Certificates of admission to the Guild of barbers, surgeons and chandlers, Shewsbury, 1745-1792 (UK), the Business license records (Pike County, Ohio), 1816-1854, 1877, or the Peddlers and Show Licenses, 1852-1866 (Decatur County, Georgia).

Clippings from WorldCat.org entry for the Arkansas Borad of Barber Examiners files of inactive barbers, series III, 1937-1994 from the Arkansas State Archives and a photo of the catalog entry for Fred Elliott, barber.

Searches in WorldCat or ArchiveGrid can net more collections—such as the Arkansas State Board of Barber Examiners files of inactive barbers, series III, 1937-1994 at the Arkansas State Archives including a picture of my Great Uncle Fred Elliott. But so can a search on Google. That’s how I found a number of industry journals with mentions of family members. Like the notice of the fire at my 4th Great Uncle H. R. Rothwell’s barrel, cask and box factory in Chicago, Illinois in on June 9th 1908 in The National Cooper’s Journal  and The Barrel and Box.

Clippings from Barrel and Box, July 1908

“But I only have Farmers!” I hear you. I know. I have my fair share, but check out the community your family is from to see if any of the farm books or store ledgers for the area survived. I can’t promise they’re out there, but it’s worth a look—especially if you’ve hit a brick wall.

Or maybe your find is waiting for a building renovation and will find its way to Facebook, like this. It a grocer’s card that a pizza joint in my mom’s hometown found while renovating. I totally wanted it to be our George, but then it settled in that there were three George Porter’s in town at that time (and we’re only related to two of them)—needless to say that’s the one we have no claim to. But, wow!  What a neat job-related find sitting out there on social media for someone.

Happy hunting!

Jess

I’m behind but I’m making a comeback (I think)!

1893CityDirectoryWoodstockONT

1893 Woodstock, Ontario, Canada City Directory

So, my first thought on the prompt regarding long lines was a bit of research I was working on this summer regarding occupations. Researching an ancestor’s occupation may tell you more about your family and the choices they made. For example, I knew that Cornelius Packer and several of his siblings  came to Michigan to work in the furniture industry in the 1890s, but a more careful examination of the occupations in the family shows an interesting evolution. They came from Canada where I knew many of them did factory work of some kind—but by tracking down multiple city directories (they don’t always identify employers) and newspaper articles I was able to tie the family—including brothers Albert, Charles, and William and their father Joseph Packer to the James Hay Co. in Woodstock, Ontario—a  furniture company. So, two generations worked in some aspect of the furniture industry as it swept west.

Tracking the family back further it’s clear that Joseph Packer did at least a stint as a Brickmaker—but that actually seems to be the general profession of his Vaughan in-laws. His brother-in-law Cornelius Vaughan, who immigrated with them to Canada, found work as a brickmaker in Ontario bringing skills already honed in Kent, which, after the Napoleonic wars, briefly became a major supplier of bricks for London development. The decline of the industry coincided with the families’ immigration.

Milton1858p217

1858 Melville’s Directory of Kent, England (Milton) p. 217

Another tidbit to add to consideration about the family. Joseph Packer is one of the only members of his family to go into brickmaking. The rest worked in basket making. In fact, several researchers have noted the basket making Packers of Kent possibly tracing back to a basket maker on the Isle of Thanet born in the mid-1600s. It’s something I plan to spend more time researching. But Cornelius Packer’s grandfather Thomas and Great Uncle John, as well as a 2nd and a 3rd great uncle (John and Edward respectively), are all identified in records as basket makers.

Happy hunting,

Jess