Speaker at UC Santa Barbara to Discuss Underground Railroad

Readers in the local Santa Barbara area may be interested in an upcoming, free event to be held at UC Santa Barbara’s Campbell Hall. Eric Foner, author of Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, will speak on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, at 5:00 p.m.

Gateway to FreedomA deeply entrenched institution, slavery lived on legally and commercially even in the northern states that had abolished it after the American Revolution. Slaves could be found in the streets of New York well after abolition, traveling with owners doing business with the city’s major banks, merchants, and manufacturers. New York was also home to the North’s largest free black community, making it a magnet for fugitive slaves seeking refuge. Slave catchers and gangs of kidnappers roamed the city, seizing free blacks, often children, and sending them south to slavery. Networks of antislavery resistance, centered on New York City, became known as the underground railroad. Forced to operate in secrecy by hostile laws, courts, and politicians, the city’s underground-railroad agents helped more than 3,000 fugitive slaves reach freedom between 1830 and 1860. Until now, their stories have remained largely unknown, their significance little understood.


Building on fresh evidence—including a detailed record of slave escapes secretly kept by Sydney Howard Gay, one of the key organizers in New York—Foner elevates the underground railroad from folklore to sweeping history. The story is inspiring—full of memorable characters making their first appearance on the historical stage—and significant—the controversy over fugitive slaves inflamed the sectional crisis of the 1850s. It eventually took a civil war to destroy American slavery, but here at last is the story of the courageous effort to fight slavery by “practical abolition,” person by person, family by family.


Speaker Profile: Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, specializes in the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and 19th-century U.S. history. In 2011, his work The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery won the Pulitzer Prize in History, the Bancroft Prize, and the Lincoln Prize. The author or editor of 24 books, he has also been the curator of several museum exhibitions, including the prize-winning, “A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln,” at the Chicago Historical Society.  He is one of only two persons to serve as President of the Organization of American Historians, American Historical Association, and Society of American Historians.

Visit the Walter H. Capps Center’s web site for more information about this event.



Newsletters: Old School or Still Cool?


Several organizations to which I belong still send out “old school” newsletters. Some groups send hard copies to my mailbox. Others send PDFs to my inbox. The common denominator is that they all still use an “old school” newsletter format. Typically, they look very nice, and I enjoy them for a brief time before tossing them in the recycle bin. Which seems like such a waste, because if you’ve ever been on the publishing end of a newsletter, you know what a time-consuming pain they can be to put together.

Are newsletters still worth the effort? Or are more groups moving to blogs and electronic news delivery systems like Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc.?

So, I’m wondering: What does your group use? Do you still love your old school newsletter? Or does your group use a blog or some other electronic format to distribute the news? If the latter, how do you accommodate members who don’t use a computer or smartphone? Note: Some of your groups may use both a newsletter and a blog (or other electronic format), but in the interest of keeping this poll simple, please select your main form of communication.

Feel free to share your details in the comments. And thank you for being part of my little research project!


 Newsletter image from Old Cardboard.


You can now purchase DAR Supporting Documents


The following announcement was released by the Daughters of the American Revolution today:

I am so thrilled to tell you about a new feature which has just been added to the Genealogical Research System (GRS). In addition to the ability to purchase Record Copies, you will now also be able to purchase the Supporting Documentation that was submitted with the application or supplemental. The documents may include family bible records, deeds, wills and other various materials that were used to prove lineage to a patriot of the American Revolution. Similar to Record Copies, any vital records or applications that contain personal information (birth, death, marriage, divorce or other sensitive documentation) will not be included with the Supporting Documents unless they are over 100 years old. DAR is committed to privacy and these efforts are in place to keep members and their family’s personal information confidential.


I broke up with Blogger.

Break up with Blogger!


The Backstory: Blogger and I had been in a relationship for a little over 7 years. Things were great at first. Blogger and I shared good times and much love. But over the years, our relationship had become stagnant. I had grown and changed; alas, Blogger had not. I wanted more than Blogger was able to give. So after many expletive-laden disagreements, and more than a few fists to the desk, it was time for Blogger and me to go our separate ways. I broke up with Blogger and started a brand-new relationship with Self-Hosted WordPress.


Good News From Family Tree DNA!

I received the following news from Family Tree DNA yesterday:

Dear Group Administrators,

We have great news for you, your group members, and most importantly prospective members: As of Monday, we’ll begin including domestic return postage in the cost of shipping and handling. By adding return domestic postage, it will encourage more of those sponsored testers to return their kits, since they don’t have to visit a post office or guess at the number of stamps to put on the envelope! For both domestic and international shipping, the fee will now be a consistent $9.95. 


Feeling the American Spirit

I just wanted to wave hello to anyone who has dropped in because of the article in the current issue of the DAR’s American Spirit magazine. I was excited to be interviewed a few months ago for the article, “Finding Family on Facebook,” by Lena Anthony, in which “DAR members share stories of how they’ve connected with relatives and found missing links in their family history using social media tools.” Well, I’m still looking for many of those “missing links,” but I can say that social media has helped me find quite a few leads. And cousins.


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