Monday, February 14, 2011

Black History Month Speaker, Saturday 2/28/11

For Black History Month, we are extremely excited to have a speaker coming to the Historical Center all the way from Phoenix, Arizona who has an amazing life story, some of it right here in Shreveport-Bossier. Col. Richard Toliver, USAF, Ret., author of An Uncaged Eagle – True Freedom, lived his early childhood in Bellevue, Bossier Parish, where his family left in the middle night to move to Shreveport to escape from white citizens who wanted to persecute his father for defending his land. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Shreveport, went on to the Tuskegee Institute where he was trained by some of the original Tuskegee Airmen, and worked to make the Air Force truly integrated while climbing its ranks. Anyone interested in Air Force history, Civil Rights history or a story of faith to overcome odds and to forgive will find something of interest in this book and his talks. Col. Toliver will be speaking at the Historical Center meeting room on Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 1 p.m.
The meeting room will open at noon, so get there early to ensure a seat. If you are bringing a group of 10 or more, kindly notify Pam at 746-7717 so we can accommodate you. Here is the Colonel’s schedule of additional programs while he is in town. Barksdale events are for those with Base access:
February 27
Barksdale AFB Chapel Program
Bossier City, LA 71110
12:00 Noon
Capt. Paul P. Loser, 2 BW Protestant Chaplain Barksdale AFB

February 27
Shreve Memorial Library Hamilton Branch
2111 Bert S. Koons Industrial Loop, Shreveport, LA 71108
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Ms. Ivy Woodard-Lattin, Public Relations Coordinator

February 28
Barksdale African American Month Celebration Luncheon
11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Barksdale Base Exchange book signing
February 28 in afternoon, contact
SSgt Justin R. McMullen Executive Assistant
8th Air Force Command Chief

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day

Our collection has many scrapbooks containing cherished mementos, photographs, and holiday cards. One of the scrapbooks, saved by a Bossier City woman, holds her memories of the 1940s when her husband was serving in the Army Air Corps. Below are some valentines that she carefully tucked away in her book. Some are loving and sentimental, while others feature jokes and puns.

This watery-eyed onion is now missing his moveable arm, which held a tissue to wipe away his tears.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February is Black History Month

Photo courtesy of The Shreveport Times
Charlotte Watson Mitchell, Jeanes Teacher

In the early to mid twentieth century, to find the leaders of African-American communities, look in the schools. The most educated and often highly regarded members of the community were there, working as school teachers or administrators. One of these leaders was “Jeanes Supervisor” Charlotte Mitchell who is known today as the namesake of the Charlotte Ann Mitchell Educational Center in Bossier City.

The Anna T. Jeanes Fund was another Southern-wide fund from a Northern benefactor to improve black children’s education like the Rosenwald Fund, which was created by a wealthy Jewish benefactor to build model school buildings for African-American children across the South. Anna T. Jeanes was a wealthy Philadelphia Quaker woman who in 1907 set aside money to provide aid to rural African-American schools in the South. The Jeanes Fund soon developed a model of funding a supervisor for black schools who met any needs both the teachers and the students, as part of a wider community, might have. These were called “Jeanes Teachers” or “Jeanes Supervisors” but in a sense they were more like early Peace Corps volunteers than school teachers. They did community beautification, food production and distribution, public health and sanitation work and teacher training. Their motto was that they always did “the next needed thing”.

Charlotte Watson Mitchell was a Jeanes Supervisor in Bossier Parish after many years as a teacher. As a Jeanes Teacher, Charlotte Mitchell not only affected the educational life of the Parish’s Black community, but home life as well. From July 1, 1932 to February 28, 1933, she made 75 visits to schools, 209 visits with teachers and 60 visits to homes, as reported to the State Agent for Jeanes Teachers. She also assisted Lettie Van Landingham, Bossier Parish Home Demonstration Agent, by leading the Colored Home Demonstration Clubs in the Parish. A Home Demonstration Agent often taught local women homemaking techniques through organized Home Demonstration clubs. According to an April 14, 1932 article in the Plain Dealing Progress, Bossier Parish was one of only a few parishes that had an active Home Demonstration program for African-American women. In 1931 members of these clubs filled 6,000 tin cans of food at canning centers in four of the Parish’s African-American schools, with many of the cans going to the Red Cross to distribute to the hungry.

Jeanes Teachers made significant contributions to community life in Bossier Parish; however, the Jeanes program ended in the 1960’s with school integration. If you know any additional information about Charlotte Mitchell, Carrie Martin (the first Jeanes teacher in Bossier Parish) or any of the other Jeanes Teachers* in Bossier Parish, please contact the Historical Center.

*Including Crecy Ann Hudson Evans, Ella Mae Booker Wiley, Inez Patty, and Gussie Mae Hudson

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Genealogy Help

Genealogy is a very popular topic, as evidenced by the popularity of TV shows like Who Do You Think You Are? and Faces of America. If you’re interested in tracing your family tree, we have two free quality resources – Ancestry Library Edition and HeritageQuest. You can access Ancestry from the Bossier Parish Library homepage on a library computer at any branch. HeritageQuest is accessible from your home computer; you just need to enter your library card number. You can also get to both sites from the links in the menu to the right of this post.

Ancestry Library Edition is a fantastic tool for anyone who is researching family history. With Ancestry, you will be able to search US federal censuses, the social security death index, military records, state censuses, immigration records with ship manifests, passport applications, birth and marriage records, and heaps of international sources, which come in handy once you are able to trace your ancestors back to a country of emigration. You can also view and print images of the original records. If you’re lucky, you might locate a forgotten picture – I was surprised to see a high school yearbook photo of my grandfather!

It’s very easy to start searching with Ancestry. You simply type in any known information about the person you are trying to find. If you don’t know the exact birth date or birthplace of an ancestor, take a guess. If you heard family stories that Great Grandpa was born around the turn of the century, add 1900 to your search box. Ancestry will use this information and give results that closely match your search items. At the History Center, we recommend that beginners start by researching family members that they know personally. Backtracking is easier to do; you simply follow the records, linking the people you do know to the mystery branches on your family tree.

One of the best sources of information on Ancestry is the US Census Collection. US Federal Census records range from 1790 – 1930. The 1940 census will be made public in 2012. The information from each census varies slightly, depending on which questions were asked. You will almost always find name, age, gender, race, marital status, nationality, and relationship to head of household. You may also find occupation, real estate value, age at first marriage, birth month and year, education level, year of immigration, citizenship status, naturalization dates, and place of parents’ birth.

HeritageQuest (HQ) is another genealogy resource that provides census records and allows users to view, print, and download original images. If you can’t get to the library to use Ancestry and want to do some genealogy detective work at home, HQ is your best bet. It provides a collection of material for both genealogical and historical researchers, with coverage dating back to the late 1700s.

In the Books section of HQ, you can search through genealogy and local history books with digitized pages. Use it to find published works on families, as well as historical books that focus on specific regions. Learning about the time and place where your ancestors lived can give you a good sense of their daily life. The Periodical Source Index (PERSI) on HQ is a comprehensive index to genealogy and local history periodicals. For example, you can search through issues of The Genie, the journal of the Ark-la-Tex Genealogical Association.

There isn’t enough space to fully explain all of the resources you will find on both Ancestry and HeritageQuest, but it’s easy and fun to browse through their databases as you begin your genealogy journey. I encourage you to take a peek into your family’s past if you haven’t started to already. If you’d like some assistance, the staff at the History Center is always ready to help!