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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 [...]

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 [...]

Using The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

USING THE SANBORN FIRE INSURANCE MAP We’ve done a blog post in the past concerning our Sanborn Fire Map collection, and I wanted to go one step further; while the previous post dealt with the nature and scope of the collection, I wanted to show you how to use the maps for your property research.  We have digitized maps from 1886, 1894, 1909, and 1909-1949 for Covington and vicinity, and a subscription for the entire state of Kentucky in the years that are digitally available; print maps of Covington (Vol 1) and the surrounding areas (Vol  2) that originated 1909 and are physically updated through about 1950; and 1946-1992 on microfilm. I begin below with an annotated graphical introduction to the characteristics of the maps and a view of the Sanborn’s key map.  Whether in print, digitized, or on microfilm, each ‘map’ is a set of multiple pages of enlarged maps preceded by a key map and symbol key.  Each year has slightly different symbols and color codes, so be sure to check the key for the year that you are using. Since the Sanborn maps are of more densely settled areas, I’ve also included a view from a county atlas in our collection so that you can see the types of information included in these resources in comparison to the Sanborn maps. Lastly, I’ve included a view of the enlarged map of a property in Covington in 1886; on this map I’ve noted the characteristics that can be either directly observed or interpreted through the use of the key.  USING THE SANBORN FIRE INSURANCE MAPS TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR HISTORIC PROPERTY One of the most important things to know when trying to read any [...]

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 [...]

The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 in Northern Kentucky

We are creeping into that time of the year again: autumn. Autumn is all kinds of fun: pumpkin-flavored everything, apple cider, trick-or-treating, and a crisp, cool air that we are always pining for following the dog days of summer. Cool weather shoos us inside more often than summer, however, and germs are more easily spread in close proximity to others. Cue flu season, that nasty fact of life that persists from roughly October to March. Ninety-eight years ago this month, the country at large was experiencing one of the most severe outbreaks of flu in its history. Cue the constant hand-washing, and stock up on hand sanitizer, because we are about to venture into a brief, local history of the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919. Influenza comes with a slew of uncomfortable symptoms that we also associate with the common cold, but multiplied in intensity. Influenza can be life threatening to those with comprised immune systems such as the elderly and very young. Between three to five million severe cases of influenza occur each year throughout the world, with death tolls from the flu, or complications from it, ranging from 250,000 to 500,000 worldwide (1). Some years, however, the primary strain of influenza is particularly virulent and panic-inducing: for example, the Swine Flu Pandemic of 2009. The fall of 1918 happened to bring with it one of those flu strains, and was quite possibly the largest outbreak of disease in the 20th century United States. Panic Ensues The Public Health Service began requiring states to report cases of flu starting on September 27, 1918, coincidentally the date that influenza is estimated to have arrived in the state of Kentucky (2). The first newspaper reported death [...]

Covington Walking Tours Available During #92daysofSummer

The Covington Bicentennial is in full swing and the Local History and Genealogy Department is ready with a new FREE walking tour! Join a member of the Local History and Genealogy Department each Wednesday at 10 a.m. for a tour of the neighborhood around the library. The tour highlights and explores the people who lived in the neighborhoods around the Library 100 years ago in 1915. You'll learn about Covington's northern and southern heritage, architecture, and diverse commercial history. We'll also explore some of the forgotten and lost buildings that once proudly stood in the neighborhood. The tour is roughly a mile long, and comfortable clothing and shoes are recommended. Large groups, and anyone requiring special accommodations should contact the Local History and Genealogy Department a week in advance of the program at 859-962-4070. Here is a sneak peak into one of the stories you'll discover during the tour. The Lovell-Graziani house at 326 E 2nd Street, formerly 174 E 2nd Street Lovell-Graziani House 2015   Benjamin F. Graziani occupied 174 E 2nd Street in 1915. The house dates to the late 1870s, built in French Victorian style by Howell Lewis Lovell, of the tobacco business. Graziani was born in 1858 in Cold Spring, KY, the youngest of nine children to Italian immigrants. His father died in a steamboat explosion when Graziani was only eight years old. He attended Cincinnati Law School and graduated in 1882. In time, Graziani grew to be one of the most prominent attorneys in Covington during the late 19th and early 20th century, often appearing in the newspapers as a “promising young lawyer” at the start of his career. He worked as a criminal attorney, keeping an office building [...]

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: The Earliest “Street View”

The map key for the 1909 Sanborn Map of Covington. Notice the level of detail in the building material and types of windows. Have you wondered what your town or neighborhood looked like 100 years ago? Want to know what that large building at the end of your block was originally used for? If you answered yes, you will want to check out the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. In 1867, the Sanborn Map Company, which is still in business today, began making detailed fire insurance maps to help “insurance agents determine the degree of hazard associated with a particular property.” [i] The Sanborn Company estimates they created maps for 12,000 cities and towns in the United States[ii]. The maps are very intricate and detail the size, shape, placement and number of windows and doors, property boundaries, and type of business or industry located within a structure. They are also coded to reflect the various types of building material used and to distinguish residential from commercial property. While the maps are no longer used for insurance purposes, they are now a wonderful way to supplement your historical and genealogical research. They are also essential tools for anyone interested in the history of their home or a particular structure. The maps can be used in conjunction with city directories and newspapers to locate the homes of individuals or businesses in a town and even on a specific street. Because the maps were constantly updated, researchers can track changes that took place in towns, business districts, and neighborhoods. Street addresses and street names have also changed over time, and sometimes more than once, so the maps are an excellent way to find the original address for [...]

DIY Prom

DIY PROM It’s prom time, so let’s talk about hair and makeup! If there’s one thing I (Jessy the Librarian) love as much as stories, it’s probably lipstick. Or maybe eyeliner. One of the best place I’ve found for (non-video) makeup/hair tutorials is The Beauty Department. I love the idea of a metallic eye, especially if your dress is more of a matte texture, like tulle. Continue Reading the Blog Post

By |April 16th, 2014|Categories: Featured Post|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on DIY Prom

100 Years Ago, Latonia Jockey Reached Horse Racing’s Pinnacle

  On May 27, 1914 a record crowd gathered at the historic Epsom Downs in England for the annual running of the world’s greatest horse race, the English Derby.  The dramatic death of suffragette Emily Davison on the track the year prior and the nearly unprecedented 30 horse field drew a large crowd who knew that quite anything could happen at the annual event.[1]  The tension mounted precipitously at the post line as the horses waited for the starter’s signal.  Matt McGee, an American jockey born and raised in Covington sitting atop of his fine colt Durbar II, stared down the track towards the outside rail and saw the crowd favorite Kennymore growing anxious for the start.  At 9-4 odds, and with Europe’s top jockey and future racing Hall of Famer Frank O’Neill aboard, the horse was thought to be shoo-in for victory, even with the crowded field.   The other rival for the title, Brakespear, owned by none other than the King of England himself, waited patiently close to the inside rail.  The 20 minutes standing at the line must have seemed like an eternity for the horse, however, as he frequently backed away from the starting tape.  The signal to go caught Brakespear off-guard and led to a poor start while the anxious Kennymore took off perpendicular to the rest of the field, racing directly towards the inside rail. Read the rest of this post

By |April 11th, 2014|Categories: Featured Post|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on 100 Years Ago, Latonia Jockey Reached Horse Racing’s Pinnacle

Faces and Places of Kenton County

My name is Cierra and I work in the Local History and Genealogy Department at the Kenton County Public Library. I assist patrons with finding answers about their ancestors and researching our vibrant history of Northern Kentucky. One of the parts of my job that I enjoy is assisting in the scanning, indexing, and uploading  of photographs to the database Faces and Places Northern Kentucky Photographic Archive (commonly known as Faces and Places).  There are so many great stories that have been uncovered and told from photographs in Faces and Places.  This photograph database contains a wide range of topics covering schools, businesses, buildings, people and events.  I enjoy reading the comments that are left by all of you explaining the people, places and meanings behind photographs that are unknown or unidentified. I would like to encourage everyone to leave a comment or two on the photographs in the collection.  You never know—you may find a picture of yourself in our archive! You can search the Faces and Places photographs and leave comments. Amy Whittlesey (5), Brigette Rambo (5), Donald Powell (5), Brian Hibbler (4), at Beechwood Elementary Thanksgiving on November 24, 1977. In honor of Thanksgiving I thought I would share one of my favorite Thanksgiving related photographs from Faces and Places. You can leave a comment on the photograph. Are you friends with the Local History and Genealogy Department on Facebook? Post your favorite Faces & Places photo there. Written by Cierra Earl, Library Associate, Local History and Genealogy Department - Covington