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Genealogy Gems at the Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives – Part V

This is Part 5 of a 5 part series on using the collection at The Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives to perform genealogy research. This post discusses exhibits and portraits at the archives that can be beneficial to genealogy research. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are Courtesy Sumner Museum.

 


Portraits and Exhibits in the Sumner Collection

 All of the items discussed so far can be viewed in the research room.  However, I encourage you not to limit your research to that one room. There are several floors in the museum that contain artifacts that may be helpful to your research.

Portraits

As you walk through the museum you will notice portraits everywhere. There are portraits of individuals who were affiliated with the school system. Some of the portraits have tags that contain biographical information. Portraits can be found for:

  • Principals – Usually the portrait that hung in the school.
  • Teachers
  • School Board members
  • School Namesakes

Portraits

MFF Swartzell Eastern Principal 1900-1906 - Copy

MFF Swartzell Eastern Principal 1900-1906

Exhibits

Many of the rooms contain exhibits for individuals who were affiliated with the school system. You may find an exhibit for one of your family members. Here are a few examples.

Alfred Sze was a student at Central High School.  He later became China’s ambassador to the United States.  His exhibit contains many artifacts from his time at Central High, as well as, before and after high school.

Antoinette J Lee wrote an article for the Washington History magazine titled Asian and Asian American Students in Washington, D.C. Public Schools during the Segregation Era.  Alfred Sze is mentioned in the article.  This article is very informative and is also a great example of the use of resources in the Sumner collection.

Alma Thomas was an artist and teacher at Shaw Junior High School. Her exhibit is filled with information and pictures about her, her parents, siblings and grandparents.

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Genealogy Gems at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives – Related Post

Part 1 of 5 – Introduction
Part 2 of 5 – History of the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives
Part 3 of 5 – Documents in the Sumner Collection
Part 4 of 5 – Vertical Files in the Sumner Collection
Part 5 of 5 – Portraits and Exhibits in the Sumner Collection

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Genealogy Gems at the Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives – Part IV

This is Part 4 of a 5 part series on using the collection at The Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives to perform genealogy research. This post discusses vertical files in the Sumner collection that can be beneficial to genealogy research. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are Courtesy Sumner Museum.


Vertical Files in the Sumner Collection

Vertical files contain a collection of papers, pamphlets, clippings, pictures or other materials on a specific subject. The Sumner collection has several types that are helpful to genealogy research:

  • School Files contain information related to a specific school
  • People Files contain information on an individual who was connected with the school system.
  • Alumni Files contain information on individuals who attended a school. These files only exist for high schools.
  • School Namesake Files contain information on person for whom a school was named
  • Special Collections are created for individuals who were connected with the school system. They contain artifacts related to their tenure in the school system.

 

School Files

School files generally contain:

  • Commencement Programs
  • School Newspapers
  • Class Pictures
  • Photographs
  • News articles about staff and pupils
  • Programs for school plays and events
  • Awards

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People/Alumni/School Namesake Files

People, Alumni and Namesake files generally contain the the following :

Obituary News clippings
Funeral Programs Photographs
Correspondence Speeches
Biography Oral History
Certificates Diplomas
Ephemera Publications

You can find some very interesting items in these files.  For example, one people file contained a script for a This is Your Life program that was part of an 85th birthday celebration.  This script contained a wealth of genealogy information about not only the person but his family members as well.

 

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Genealogy Gems at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives – Related Post

Part 1 of 5 – Introduction
Part 2 of 5 – History of the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives
Part 3 of 5 – Documents in the Sumner Collection
Part 4 of 5 – Vertical Files in the Sumner Collection
Part 5 of 5 – Portraits and Exhibits in the Sumner Collection

Genealogy Gems at the Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives – Part III

This is Part 3 of a 5 part series on using the collection at The Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives to perform genealogy research. This post discusses documents in the Sumner collection that can be beneficial to genealogy research. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are Courtesy Sumner Museum.


Documents in the Sumner Collection

The Sumner Museum contains material related to the history of public education in Washington, DC from 1804 (when the public education system started) to the present.  It contains information of the school board, schools and teachers colleges.

It should be noted that the museum does not have every artifact for every school for every time period. It should also be noted that the museum does not have personnel records, students records or students transcripts.

Research Room

Research Room

The museum has maps for various time periods that show the schools associated with each community. If you do not know which school the person you are researching attended, the museum staff can use the maps to assist you in determining the school the person may have attended.

The following documents in the Sumner collection are beneficial to genealogy research:

  • School Board Records and Reports describe the activities of the school board, the schools and the people associated with them.
  • Student Registrations provide information on students who entered or left the school system.
  • Directory of Public Schools list all the schools in the school system and the employees.
  • Yearbooks provide insight into the events for a specific school year.
  • Scrapbooks –   Contain ephemera and memorabilia for a school
  •  Graduation Lists document the names of individuals who graduated from each high school. The lists are only available for the 1970s through the 1990s.

I will discuss a few of the documents in greater detail.


School Board Records and Reports

Annual Reports

From 1874 to 1967, the District of Columbia was governed by a three-member Board of Commissioners appointed by the President of the United States. Each year the Board issued an annual report to Congress. The report was a multi-volume document comprised of reports from various DC government offices and departments. The school board was one of the departments that submitted a report.

You may find  your family member mentioned in an annual report. Even if the person is not listed by name, you may find information such as the a job description or a description of the working conditions at a school that provide insight into their life.

School Board Minutes

School Board Minutes catalog actions of the school system and its employees. The minutes contain information on anyone who worked for the school system (not just teachers and principals).

The minutes also contain information on non-employees. For example, if a member of the community wrote a letter to the school board or gave a speech at a school board meeting, that person would be mentioned in the minutes.

School Board Minutes.JPG

School Board Minutes

The school board minutes are in bounded volumes. The artifacts that are mentioned in the minutes are on microfilm.  For example, if the minutes mention a letter was received,  the actual letter will be on microfilm.

Some of the information you may find in school board minutes that may be helpful to your research are:

  • Hire/Transfer
  • Promotion/Demotion
  • Leave of Absence
  • Termination/Retirement
  • Name Change
  • Illness
  • Death
  • Correspondence

The school board minute finding aids are index cards which are stored in a file cabinet in the research room.  There is a card for each individual, organization or school discussed during the school board meeting. Each index card has a dated line item for each topic. The date can be used to locate the volume containing the school board minutes where the name was mentioned.

In this example, a name change for Mrs. Vivian F Colter, a teacher at Miner Teachers College, was approved on March, 3, 1948.

Vivian Colter Finding Aid.jpg

Finding aid for Mrs Vivian F Colter

The minutes for this meeting can be found by locating the volume that contains the minutes for  March, 3, 1948.  The index for the volume indicates the page containing information for this event.

Vivian Colter Name Change Approval

From the school board minutes we now know Mrs. Vivian F Colter’s name was changed to Mrs. Vivian F McBrier.

Student Registrations

The Annual Register of Pupils contains information on students who enrolled in or left school . The documents are located on microfilm and are organized by school, grade and school year.

The register contains the following information:

  • Date of Admission
  • T (Transfer)
  • Name of Pupil
  • Name of Parent or Guardian
  • Residence
  • Occupation of Parent
  • Date of Leaving
  • Manner of leaving
  • Re-entry

The register has very detailed instructions on how the document should be completed. I recommend you carefully read the instructions because it will help interpret the information on the document. Notes entered by the teacher may provide valuable genealogy clues.

This is an example of a page from the register for Hayes School for the 1901 – 1902 school year.

Alsop Brothers - Copy

It may be hard to read, so I have listed the pertinent information:

  • Name and Age: Frank Alsop (age 8)
  • Name and Age:  Ernest Alsop (age 10)
  • Parent: Lawrence H. Alsop (Laborer)
  • Residence: 1143 5th Street SE

The names are organized in alphabetical order by surname. When looking down the list, it is helpful to look for students with the same surname.  In this example,  Frank Alsop (age 8) and Ernest Alsop (age 10) have a parent name or guardian with the same name, and live at the same address.   It is a good possibility that Frank and Ernest are siblings. Additional research will be needed to confirm this theory.

Directory of Public Schools

SDC15599 - CopySDC15600 - Copy

This directory lists the names and titles for all employees for each school. For the segregation time period, the book has separate sections for white schools and colored schools.  The section for white schools is in the front followed by the section for colored schools.  The schools are listed in alphabetical order within each section.

Yearbooks

Yearbooks are a great source for pictures. They also contain information that gives us a better understanding of the students and the time period in which they lived. They provide insight into the student’s thoughts and aspirations;  the school environment and the school experience.

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Many schools sell advertisements to help defer the cost of publishing the Yearbook. Most advertisements are from businesses. A few are from friends and family members.

For example, an advertisement reads:

Congratulations to our daughter
Tiffany R Jackson
Class of 1981
Mr and Ms Leroy Jackson

Another advertisement in the same yearbook reads:

Congratulations to my  niece
Tiffany Renee Jackson
Class of 1981
Samantha Wilson
 

From this advertisement you now know:

  • Student’s full name
  • Appropriate age (based on graduating class)
  • Father’s name
  • Aunt’s name

Genealogy Gems at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives – Related Post

Genealogy Gems at the Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives

This is Part 1 of a 5 part series on using the collection at The Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives in Washington, DC to perform genealogy research.  Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are Courtesy Sumner Museum.


I recently spoke at the 44th Annual Conference on DC History. I was a member of a panel that discussed Hidden Histories of the District Government.  Kimberly Springle, the Executive Director of the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, was speaking at another conference and asked me to represent the Sumner Museum on the Hidden Histories panel.

Charles Sumner Museum Pic

The Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives is the official museum and archives of the District of Columbia Public School System.  It is often referred to as the “Sumner Museum“ or the “Sumner Archives” . The purpose of my presentation was to demonstrate how to use the museum’s collection for genealogy research.

I decided to share the information from my presentation in a blog series.  If you have ancestors who lived in Washington DC there is a good chance they were affiliated with the DC public school system in some capacity. They may have been a student, an employee or a member of the community that had a connection to the school.

Some children who lived in the nearby suburbs also attended DC public schools.  I met a lady who lived in Silver Spring, Maryland as a child.  During that time period, the school system was segregated and there was no school for black students near her home.  Even though she lived in Maryland, she attended the Military Road School in Washington, DC.

Be sure to subscribe to my blog so that you will be notified of the next post in this series.   There is a good chance you may find some genealogy gems at The Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives.


Genealogy Gems at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives – Related Post

 

Research Tips from My Genealogy Buddy Robyn Smith

I have written about my genealogy buddy, Robyn Smith and her exciting family research in several of my posts.  Robyn is the author of the popular genealogy blog, Reclaiming Kin where she uses her research as a tool to show others how to  research their family history.

Robyn is a great genealogy buddy because she takes her research seriously.  She is a stickler for using the proper methodology and doing due diligence to research family history.  Robyn is an inspiration to many in the genealogy community.

Reclaiming Kin

She recently published a book titled, The Best of Reclaiming Kin: Helpful Tips On Researching Your Roots, with some of her most informative blog post.  Her book is a valuable addition to the personal library of anyone who is interested in researching their family history

I urge you to visit her blog and see for yourself.  Your research will be greatly enhanced by the knowledge she shares.

Protecting and Expanding Your Family Tree on Ancestry.com

For many years, I was reluctant to build a family tree online because I wanted to protect the privacy of family members and control access to information on my tree. When I learned that I could use privacy settings to control access to my tree, I decided to put my tree on Ancestry.com.

I only put deceased individuals on my tree and used the ‘Private’ privacy setting to prevent other subscribers from viewing information on my tree. However, basic information (name, birth year, and birthplace) about deceased individuals is displayed in search results. If a person wants to view my tree, they must contact me anonymously through the Ancestry.com messaging service.  You can learn more about ancestry.com privacy setting and decide what is best for you.

An added benefit of putting my tree online was I was able to take advantage of ancestry.com hints.  This feature uses information from your family tree to suggest possible matches between people on the tree and historical records and/or other family trees.

I recently solved a genealogy mystery thanks to a hint from Ancestry.com.  I have traced my Shakespeare family back to the 1840’s where Sancho and Lucinda Shakespeare and their children were enslaved by Elijah Wigglesworth in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.  Over the years I have made considerable progress on expanding my Shakespeare family tree but I had several people whose trail went cold.

Richard Shakespeare was one of those people.  He was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1899 to Richard Shakespeare Sr and Molly/Mary Bailey. I believe his mother must have died when he was young because after 1900 he and his brother, James, lived in Caroline County, Virginia with their father’s brother, John Henry Shakespeare, and John’s wife, Sarah Ann (Sallie) Ferguson.   Their father remained in Baltimore, MD where he died in 1927.

The latest information I had on Richard Shakespeare Jr. was from the 1920’s. He was listed in the 1920 Caroline County census with his aunt, uncle and brother. I could not locate any information on Richard after the 1920s.

Last month, I received an email from ancestry.com with a hint for my Shakespeare Family Tree.  I clicked on the link which took me to Richard Shakespeare’s death certificate.  From this document I learned that Richard lived in Beaver County, Pennsylvania and his wife’s name was Jannie.

Richard Shakespeare Death Certificate

Richard Shakespeare’s Death Certificate
The Key to Expanding my Shakespeare Tree

 

Armed with this new information I began to search for Richard in Beaver County, Pennsylvania and located information on Richard, his wife and their children.  Using other ancestry.com hints, I attempted to locate and contact some of Richard’s living descendants.

I used resources outside ancestry.com to obtain death notices for Richard, his wife and their children. I learned from their death notices they were members of Love-Hope Baptist Church and wrote to the church to see if they had any information on Richard Shakespeare and his family.  The church was gracious enough to forward my letter to Richard Shakespeare’s great granddaughter who contacted me.  We recently met and exchanged information. They shared this picture of Richard Shakespeare with me.

 

Richard Shakespeare Jr

Richard Shakespeare Jr

 

Thanks to a hint from Ancestry.com, I was able to solve the mystery of what happened to Richard Shakespeare, expand my Shakespeare Family Tree and meet some new cousins!!.

 


 Descendants of Sancho and Lucinda Shakespeare

 Richard was the grandson of Sancho and Lucinda’s son Beverly. In addition to Beverly, they had seven other children:  Eliza, Richmond, Louisa, Nancy, Matilda, John, Martha.  The family was separated in 1845 when their slaveowner, Elijah Wigglesworth, estate was settled and his property was distributed among his wife and children

Eliza Shakespeare

I have not located any information on Eliza. I am not sure if she used the Shakespeare surname after slavery.  She may have been taken to Tennessee when her slave owner, Andrew J. Wigelsworth, moved to the state.

Richmond and Nancy

Richmond, Nancy and Matilda were enslaved by Jefferson Flippo of Caroline County, Virginia when Almira W. Wigelsworth married him. Nancy had a daughter named, Susan. The three of them escaped from Jefferson Flippo in 1862 but I have been unable to determine what happened to them. . I am not sure if they used the Shakespeare surname after slavery.

 

Matilda

Matilda Shakespeare were enslaved by Jefferson Flippo of Caroline County, Virginia when Almira W. Wigelsworth married him. She had several children during slavery.  One of them was John Henry Lewis.  .  I met the wife of John Henry Lewis’s youngest son who shard this picture with me.

 

John Henry Lewis (front row center)  and Family

John Henry Lewis (front row center) and Family

 

After slavery Matlida married Dingo Rollins and they had several children.  Two of their children were Rachel and Marry Rollins.  I met Mary’s granddaughter who share these pictures of Matilda’s daughters with me.

Matilda Shakespeare and Dingo Rollin's Daughter- Mary Rollins Jones

Matilda Shakespeare and Dingo Rollin’s Daughter – Mary Rollins Jones

Matilda Shakespeare and Dingo Rollin's Daughte -  Rachel Rollins Fergueson

Matilda Shakespeare and Dingo Rollin’s Daughte
Rachel Rollins Fergueson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louisa Shakespeare

Louisa married William Woolfolk.  They are my 2nd great grandparents. They had several children, Overton, my great grandfather, and Susan.  I have not located a picture of Overton. I located Susan’s granddaughter who shared this picture with me.

Susan Woolfolk Waugh

Susan Woolfolk Waugh

Beverly Shakespeare

Beverly Shakespeare had several wives and several children.  John Herbert Shakespeare is also a descendant of Beverly.

John Herbert Shakespeare and his daughter Shirely Jean

John Herbert Shakespeare and
his daughter Shirely Jean

 

John Shakespeare

John is listed in the 1870 census with his parents.  I have not located any other information about him.

Martha Shakespeare

I wrote a blog post about Martha.

Conflicting Military Information – Mystery Solved

My grandfather, Sylvester Roy Woodfork Sr, was a World War I veteran.  In my 2011 post titled The Importance of Performing Thorough Research I mentioned the discrepancy between the family oral history regarding his military service and the information contained on the military records I received from the National Archives.  As I continued to locate more information on my grandfather’s military service I become more confused because the information on one set of documents was different from the information on another set of documents.

I sent a letter to the National Archives to see if they could help me understand why these documents had conflicting information.  I recently received an explanation.  This blog post demonstrates the importance of locating the original documents when performing research and explains why there may be a discrepancy in a person’s military records.

Below is a summary of the various documents with information on my grandfather’s military unit:

  •  The NA Form 13164 (which can be requested under the Freedom of Information Act) provided by the National Archives in St Louis indicates he served in 52nd Company 13th Battalion 153rd DB Camp Dix, NJ.
  • A Certificate in Lieu of Lost or Destroyed Discharge dated December 11, 1958 indicates he served in Battery F, 351st Field Artillery.
  • The original discharge papers that were issued on March 15, 1918 indicate he was a Private in 52nd Co 13th Bn 153rd DB Camp Dix, NJ.
  • The Remarks section of the enlistment record that accompany the original discharge indicate Service 351st fa 1/13/18, 52nd Co, 12th Bn, 153rd DB 2/22/19

Below is the answer I received from the Archivist explaining why these document contained different information:

There are usually two units found on different military separation forms. When in the service a veteran would have served with one main unit for the majority of the war. In this case Mr. Woodfork spent the majority of his service with the 351st Field Artillery as of July 13, 1918.

Towards the end of the war, or when a veteran was to be discharged/separated from service, each veteran was sent to a certain unit or place (in this case Camp Dix)  that was specifically utilized for discharge or out processing. In this case, on February 22, 1919 Mr. Woodfork was transferred to the 52nd Co for out processing to be discharged from the service. This notation is shown in the enlistment record notes in which you referred.

The difference in the documents issued later depends on who and what criteria was used.  The certificate in lieu of discharge and transcript of military record was issued directly from the Army in 1958. The Army was putting the emphasis of his service on the unit it which he spent the most time and that was really the primary unit in which he served.

The Information Releasable Under the Freedom of Information Act was issued by the National Archives and Records Administration, National Personnel Records Center. They tend to list the final unit, the out processing unit, as the place and unit of separation.

If you have a question about research or records obtained from the National Archives, you can contact them by completing an Inquire Form on the National Archives website.

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