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November is National Veteran and Military Families Month!

This month in the Local History & Genealogy Department, it’s all about veterans: we want to help you talk to the veterans in your life, preserve their memories, commemorate them, and research your ancestors’ involvement in conflicts past. We’ll start an important fact: WWII and Korean War veterans are passing away in great numbers each year, and many take with them all the memories and stories of their experiences. Here at the library, we are hoping to preserve as many of those memories as we can by offering oral history interviews to veterans. We’ll setup a date and time, you’ll turn in a pre-interview questionnaire so that we can tailor our questions to your experience, and we record the interview for posterity (you get a copy to keep, too!). Veterans are encouraged to bring mementos such as medals, photographs, newspaper clippings, etc. to their interview. If you or a relative are interested, please contact us at (859) 962-4070 with questions and to setup an appointment. Interested in conducting your very own interview with the veterans in your life? Check out The Oral History Workshop: Collect and Celebrate the Life Stories of Your Family and Friends or Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide for information on how to get started. These books will also give you tons of ideas on what kinds of questions to ask (including some interesting and non-traditional questions), and tips for a successful interview. We also have Oral History Kits that include a digital voice recorder so you can do an interview in the comfort of your home. Thinking of a way to commemorate your favorite veteran, or make a special gift for a loved one? Visit one our Makerspaces and make [...]

5 Tips for Researching Your African-American Ancestry

Photograph of the congregation at First Colored Baptist Church in Covington. Courtesy of the collection of Ted Harris and available online at Kenton County Public Library's Faces and Places Historic Northern Kentucky Photograph Database. February is Black History Month, and a good time to focus on researching your African-American ancestry. We've put together a list of 5 tips to help you get started researching your African-American family history. Talk to living family members and write down what you know. Ask for names, birth and death dates, burial locations, obituaries, photographs or anything else that may help you with your research. There are lots of free genealogy forms online, like family charts and group sheets. Visit CyndisList, Ancestry, and Mid-Continent Public Library for free, downloadable charts and group sheets. Visit any branch of the Kenton County Public Library and use our databases! Popular genealogy databases include: Ancestry.com (free inside any branch of the Kenton County Public Library), FamilySearch.org, and the Chicago Defender (African-American newspaper with coverage from 1909-1975). Start with the 1940 United States Census and work your way back. Follow your direct ancestors through the U.S. censuses. If you have trouble finding ancestors in censuses, follow their siblings – you might find a connection to the next generation more easily by searching for their siblings. Getting past the 1870 & 1860 censuses can be difficult, but looking at the families who lived around your ancestors may provide you with clues. Former slaves often did not move far away after emancipation. If you think your ancestors were slaves, look at the white families living nearby your ancestors in the 1870 census. Then, look at those families in the 1860 census to learn if they were slave-holders. You [...]

Family Oral History — The Power of Stories, Rituals and Resilience

Between Thanksgiving and the end of the year we spend a lot of time thinking about family, planning get-togethers, cooking and buying gifts – all for the ones we love best. As Americans we tend to focus on the future and not the past. But this is a great time of year to slow down and remember -- and learn from -- those we love. There’s research that shows that children who know their family’s history – both the happy times and the challenging ones – are more resilient, confident and happy than children who don’t (see The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler). He calls it a “…strong intergenerational self. They know they belong to something bigger than themselves.” Mr. and Mrs. Gisellie Baker with (left to right) Cindy (2), Priscilla (3), Paul J. (2), Richard (2), Anthony (5). Photograph Courtesy of Faces and Places.            “The most healthful narrative … is the oscillating family narrative. ‘Dear, let me tell you we’ve had ups and downs in our family. We built a family business. Your grandfather was the pillar of the community. Your mother was on the board of the hospital. But we also had setbacks. We had a house burn down. Your father lost a job. But no matter what happened we always stuck together as a family.’” --Bruce Feiler   Should you decide to take part in a Family Oral History, here’s a few things to consider:   Keep others involved Starting a family oral history project takes a bit of preparation and time. There’s a lot of things you need to think about so take some time to put together a plan. But you can do [...]

Expanded Online Access to the Kentucky Post Available

The Kenton County Public Library is proud to offer for a limited time expanded coverage of the Kentucky Post. The new  database offered through NewsBank is keyword searchable and includes digitized images of the paper between 1895-1962. The database is available for free from inside any branch of the Kenton County Public Library system. Also, the database can be accessed from home for free with your Kenton County Public Library card. To access the Kentucky Post database follow these instructions: Visit: www.kentonlibrary.org/genealogy Click on Research Tools Click on Kentucky Post If you are outside of the Library - enter your Library card number Under the Heading "America's News - Historical and Current" click on "Kentucky Post Historical and Current" From this screen you can search the database. This search also covers the text only access for the Kentucky Post from 1990-2013 Questions or comments? Contact the Local History and Genealogy Department at (859)962-4070 or via email at history@kentonlibrary.org  

DIY Sock Snowmen of Kentucky Historic Icons

There are Craft People™, there are those who craft, and there are those who do not. I am one of those who do not. On the rare occasion I find myself artistically afflicted, I look for projects that are easy and fun, with little-to-no clean up required. Since winter in Northern Kentucky can often feel never-ending, a snow-themed project sounds like the perfect way to break up the monotony, while celebrating the season. For my chosen craft, I decided to make no-sew sock snowmen, modeled after well-known Kentucky figures: Abraham Lincoln (16th President of the United States), Colonel Sanders (founder of the always delicious Kentucky Fried Chicken), Loretta Lynn (award-winning country singer and coal miner’s daughter), and Simon Kenton (legendary pioneer and county namesake). This project is simple enough to construct, appropriate for people of all ages (as is the case with most crafts, I’d recommend adult supervision for younger kids). You’ll need white socks, scissors, polyester stuffing (rice or beans work better, though), thread, buttons, markers, ribbon, and any other supplies you deem necessary to bring your snowperson to life. Let’s begin! Turn a sock inside out and cut it into two parts, just a few inches below the heel. (Hold on to the toe-end of the sock – we’ll make a hat out of that piece later!)   Take a piece of thread, wrap it around the newly cut end of the sock, and tie a knot. Turn the sock outside in (back to the way it was originally packaged; the knot is hidden this way). Fill the sock full of polyester stuffing (or rice or beans) and shape along the way in to a snowman silhouette. Then separate the two spheres of [...]

Spring into Local History and Genealogy

Join us for one of our Historic Walking Tours! SPRING HAS SPRUNG!!! Flowers and trees are in bloom, the temperature is warming up, and you may be finding yourself out and about more so than in the past few months. This is the time of year to start planning and planting your garden, maybe visit a farmers market, and take a scenic stroll through your community. We encourage you to visit the Local History & Genealogy department in Covington in your quest for springtime fun; we have a number of fresh, new events on tap this spring that we hope you’ll enjoy! Can’t make it out of the house this week? Join us on Periscope and we’ll take you with us as we explore Historic Linden Grove Cemetery on our tour Periscope: Hey, what’s that tree? On Friday, April 14 at 3:30PM. Join us live on Periscope (@KentonLibrary on Periscope on your smartphone or tablet, or at periscope.tv/kentonlibrary) for a stroll through the historic Linden Grove cemetery in Covington. We’ll have local guidebooks on hand to help us identify the fresh buds and leaves in bloom. If you’re itching to get outside, put on your walking shoes and join us for a stroll through historic Covington. Coming up next month is our annual Historic Walking Tour, which happens every Wednesday morning this summer at 10AM, starting on May 3 and ending on September 27. We’ll talk about significant structures, their former residents, and events of times past on this one-hour jaunt down historic Pike Street in Covington. If you find yourself bored on a rainy day, or perhaps avoiding spring pollen in the great outdoors, join us in the Local History & Genealogy department [...]

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Courting of Ginny Hilton

  Valentine, sent in February of 1929. Hail February, the month of roses and lace and stamps on Valentine cards; a prime time for a story of Northern Kentucky Love! Here’s one: Bernard Wright Southgate Jr., son of Bernard Wright Southgate Sr. and Lallie Kennedy, married Virginia D. Hilton on the 17th of September in 1929. Romantic, I suppose, if a bit dry. One can sit at any of our computers and find that information on Ancestry.com for free, like I just did.   However, what Ancestry doesn’t have is much more interesting. Now available on geNKY, the Southgate courtship letters tell a much more relatable tale. Virginia Southgate (at the time, a Hilton) kept all the letters Bernard sent her through their extensive five-year courtship, even as they both attended school and changed residences. Even though we can only hear his half of the conversation, we have a unique look into the fancies and follies between postmarks and biographical milestones. The first letter is dated the 11th of May, in 1924, from Buffalo, West Virginia, and in it, he writes that he was surprised to receive her letter. It is quite possible (and in fact, likely, from the way he describes her personality in his future notes) that Virginia wrote first.  He does tell us she even illustrated her letters! Unfortunately, we do not possess any of those, though there are a few doodles to be seen at the bottom corner of some pages, like a Tokyo sunrise, and a black cat in a dark cellar at midnight. Bernard is modest about his artistic talents. Virginia, or, as he refers to her, “Ginny”,  starts out in her family home at 15 Calhoun St., [...]

Over 100,000 Local Historical Photos Available Online

Over 100,000 Kentucky Historical Photos Available Online They say a photo is worth a 1,000 words. If that’s true, then the Kenton County Public Library has 100 million stories to tell! The Library’s online historic photo album, Faces and Places, just added the 100,000th photo to its database. The photo, from the former Kentucky Post, is dated March 14, 1975 and features a man named Bill Penick. Why is Bill Penick’s photo important? Because he, most likely inadvertently, is now forever a part of Kentucky history. This photo is just one of thousands preserved digitally for all to see, and share, online via the Faces and Places website, www.kentonlibrary.org/facesandplaces.   March 2016 marked the 10th anniversary of Faces and Places, a unique online historical photo album that highlights the people, places and events of Kentucky (and some Cincinnati).  Since its inception a decade ago, the Faces and Places website has received over 9.2 million views. There are 100,411 images, 6,508 subject headings and 2,023 comments on the photos. “Comments are important,” stated Elaine Kuhn, Local History & Genealogy Services Coordinator for the Library. “They give us information that might help someone discover something new when doing research.” This online album was created when the history staff at the Kenton County Public Library began digitizing some of its resources. They were digitizing documents and family files so that genealogy researchers around the world could obtain the information they needed without having to incur the cost of travel expenses. The staff then added photos to the mix, therefore creating Faces and Places.   The popularity of the photograph collection easily lent itself to a digital format. As such, staff scanned the photos and staff and volunteers did [...]

Licking Riverside Historic Walking Tour

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP3aw2E0r2Q An eclectically-styled multifamily home on Garrard. Look for the two decorative panels with owls on the facade. Perhaps you’ve driven through Covington’s Licking Riverside neighborhood many times, but have you ever taken the time to stroll along tree-lined Garrard Street or admired the slate shingles and ironwork on the homes of Greenup Street? This summer, the Local History and Genealogy department is presenting weekly tours that highlight the structures and stories of this historic neighborhood. The Licking Riverside Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The district has many examples of different types of historic architecture that date from the mid-1800s to the early 20th century. The tour passes homes of the Greek Revival, Italianate, Bungalow, and eclectic Victorian Vernacular styles. Over a hundred years of architectural history often mingle on a single picturesque block. This victorian vernacular home on Greenup has Queen Anne inspired detailing such as the fish scale wall cladding and asymmetrical profile. Licking Riverside has been home many of Covington’s elite, including legislators, local political figures, doctors, and mayors. Many of the beautiful homes were also built as multifamily residences, apartments, and duplexes. It is also the home of the historic Covington Ladies Home at 702 Garrard, which was built in that location in 1894. Education and the arts are also prominent in the neighborhoods’ history. The Rugby at 622 Sanford Street began as Reverend William Orr’s Covington Female Seminary. Founded after 1856, the current building at 702 Greenup that was once La Salette Academy. Down the street, the Baker Hunt campus includes the former Covington Arts Club building and still continues the tradition of art instruction today. Along [...]

Genealogy and Local History Events This Winter and Spring

Winter is a great excuse to stay inside and research your roots! The Local History and Genealogy Department, located on the 2nd Floor of the Covington branch, is sponsoring a variety of family history events in the upcoming months. The fourth Monday of each month, with the exception of December, is our Congenealogy meeting held at 6:30pm in Meeting Room 3. The meeting is open to everyone interested in local history and genealogy. Each month we have a speaker from the area presenting on a topic related to family and/or local history. Upcoming topics for February-April include using online resources to locate your ancestors, information on the Boone County Barn Quilt Tour, and a presentation on separating fact from fiction when it comes to family myths. For further information on Congenealogy, please visit the web page: https://www.kentonlibrary.org/genealogy/congenealogy. For those of you interested in the architecture of Northern Kentucky, be sure to “tune in” for the “Grand Facades: 19th Century Architectural Styles in Northern Kentucky” Webinar on February 26 from 10am-11am. Kaira Simmons, Local History Associate, will help you identify architectural features and historic building styles of Northern Kentucky. The link to the webinar will be available through the events calendar on the day of the event. Craig Scott, nationally known genealogist and military records expert. If you are interested in Military History, you will certainly want to attend our Military Research Workshop on Saturday, March 21st, from 9am-4pm, in Meeting Room 1 of the Covington branch.  Nationally-known genealogist and military records expert Craig Scott will provide information on how to research ancestors who served in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Registration is required, so visit our web [...]