When major historical events happen before our eyes, it can be fun to turn to the wayback machine and explore what it was like in the past. Thanks to the Historical New York Times database, I can take this trip down the collective memory lane. Read the rest of this entry »
Posts Tagged ‘Databases’
In my last post, I’d found my grandfather Carl in the 1925 census. I also found out that his father and his grandfather were born in Missouri, which came as a surprise to me. For as long as I’d known them, my father’s family of aunts, uncles, and cousins were all in Oelwein, Iowa, and I’d never thought to ask if they’d moved there from somewhere else. Oelwein can kind of seem like a place where, the people who live there, they’ve always just been there and nowhere else. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, just that it’s a small town and community, everyone knows everyone and all their family members, all of their stories, and the stories of their parents and grandparents. They know where everyone works, who built what, who lives where, who everyone’s children got married to, etc. Oelwein is familiar and self-contained.
So, just who were these Missourians that came to Oelwein? Read the rest of this entry »
I, like many people I work with and see here at the Library, am interested in genealogy. I’ve done a little bit of research here and there, mainly on my mother’s side of the family. Her maiden name is Klein, her father’s first name was Henderikus, and this ended up being a good name to start with. Aside from the fact that it was often misspelled, it is a somewhat unique name which made it a little easier to trace, and I was able to find him in the census records, as well as documentation of his family’s immigration from the Netherlands. Working backwards, I eventually hit a genealogy jackpot, when I found someone from the Netherlands who had done the research for the same relatives I was looking at, all the way back to the 1600s.
My father’s last name is Smith. I have resisted doing any research on that side of the family out of fear that I would be lost in a morass of Smiths in the midwest, unable to go much further than a couple generations. However, I recently decided to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »
Investing on your own can seem like a daunting task. Creating a portfolio or picking stocks may not be for everyone, but for those that do take an active role in their asset management the library has tools to help you. With the library’s subscription to Value Line and Morningstar*, two of the leading investment tools on the market, you can make informed choices on your investments.
With Value Line you have access to analysis and ratings for over 1,700 widely-followed companies and 1,800 small and mid-cap companies. It provides specialized ratings that help investors know how to evaluate a stock’s performance in relationship to industry indicators. For newer investors, the subscription also offers sample portfolios that can help point you in the right direction presenting a variety of investment strategies.
Morningstar provides access to over 21,000 stocks, 29,000 funds, and 1,758 ETFs, and like Value Line, provides its own set of criteria for analyzing investments. One of the best tools available in Morningstar is the “Xray a Portfolio” tool. Here you can input an actual or hypothetical portfolio and find out how risky it is, in what areas of the market your profolio is exposed, and much more!
Both Value Line and Morningstar offer screener tools. A screener is a stock comparison tool which allows you to choose from a long list of customizable criteria to compare stocks. While each database has its own system for rating investments, you can check up on your current investments and get a printable report with current information on the company’s sales, earnings, and other industry indicators.
To learn how to use the Morningstar or Value Line database, click here.
If you would like more information about Morningstar, Value Line or the other databases the library subscribes to, please go to www.icpl.org/resources call the library at 356-5200 or speak with a librarian.
* Access to Morningstar is limited. Only one person can access the database at a time.
**** Please note that only residents of Iowa City or rural Johnson County and the cities of Hills, Lone Tree, and University Heights can access databases from home.
With subscriptions to nearly 50 databases, the Iowa City Public Library has the resources patrons need to learn a new language, research or check stocks, or find information about an ancestor or loved one.
The Library’s databases can be accessed at www.icpl.org under the Reference and Research tab on the left side of the web site. Click Online Resources and watch the instructional video on the screen to learn more about the information at your fingertips.
The Library’s databases are organized by category and alphabetically.
Every database can be accessed from the Library, but some can be accessed at home. This option is available to Iowa City residents, as well as those who live in rural Johnson County, or the cities of Hills, Lone Tree, and University Heights. Patrons wishing to access a database at home must have a Library Card.
Databases that can’t be accessed at home are noted in the description.
“Databases are another great resource for Library patrons,” Library Assistant Jen Eilers says. “They have the capability to learn so much with just the click of a button.”
For more information, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.
A couple weeks back the Info Desk received a letter in the mail from someone who had recently purchased a postcard mailed from Iowa City. The card had been sent in 1875, and had a unique stamp that was the postage cancellation mark. This person wanted to know if we were able to determine anything about that mark and what it might mean.
Where to begin, right? I’m not very familiar with the collecting and/or research of letters and stamps, and we had little to go on. The cancel mark itself looked like the letters ‘JIC’ and didn’t appear to be handwritten. I didn’t even know what to call the mark, so I started by looking at some general resources about the postal system. I found that, before the advent of machine-generated stamping and marking, postmasters would cancel postage in various ways, including uniquely-carved stamps that were often made of cork. The marks that these stamps made are often called ‘fancy cancels.’ I then started looking for other postcards that had been recorded or auctioned that were sent from Iowa City, as well as looking though numerous different fancy cancels from Iowa. I eventually did find one other postcard that had been sent from the area that had a very similar cancel, but was unable to find any specific information about it. However, that was enough to make me think that we were indeed dealing with a stamp that was regularly used by one of our postmasters.
Without ever being able to positively identify what the initials stood for, a good guess would be ‘Johnson Iowa City.’ Other fancy cancels served a similar purpose of identifying place of origin. I also wondered that it might be the initials of a postmaster…but how would I find that out? I started browsing some of the resources contained in the database Ancestry, and lo and behold, it contains the aptly titled Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971. I was easily able to view all of the postmasters from Iowa City who had appointments during the time this postcard was sent, and…nothing. No names matched those initials. What I did find, though, was that several of the area’s well-known people were appointed as postmasters, including Samuel Trowbridge, Chauncey Swan, and Edward Lucas, son of Robert Lucas. There were other notable names too, such as landowners Jacob Ricard and George Clark, and store owner John Whetstone. Finding these names in this database tells a little more of the story of Iowa City, of the people who lived here and helped build it.
In the end, I was not able to provide a definitive answer for our patron, but I did enjoy trying. If you have any information or ideas related to old postage marks from Iowa City, please leave a comment.
Want to try out Ancestry Library Edition? Stop by the Info Desk for help!
Want to see some old letters mailed to Iowa City? Check out our Digital History Project!
Want to read an oddly fascinating book about postal systems? Check out The Crying of Lot 49!