NEWSLETTER 9/30/2000 (Fourth issue)
Greetings! The POORHOUSE STORY has undergone some rather surrealistic experiences this past month. We have decided that dwelling too much on our growth is a little “braggy” … and listening to bragging gets rather boring rather quickly. So as much as possible we will … uhm, in the future <grin> … confine the record of the growth of the site to a table of statistic which can be found below. But this month we simply must report that everything has been about GROWTH!
Yup, a Table of Statistics and Site Additions. (See below) Pretty formal organization, right? We hope so! The changed format apparent in this newsletter is a consequence of the phenomenal growth we have experienced recently. Well, there we go again with the bragging! But it really is necessary to explain some changes in the way we are having to manage the site and report updates in this newsletter.
During the past month we have experienced two benchmark days: on August 31st there were 1115 visits to the website and on September 14th there were 1254 visits! Now, to put this in perspective you need to realize that prior to those days a count of 300 in one day was remarkable and really infrequent. We still don’t know what prompted the crowd on 8/31 – it may have been the publication of the last installment of this newsletter. (But we don’t even want to think about that…it would be too frightening to The Poorhouse Lady who would get stage-fright!) But we do know what prompted the rush on 9/14 …
We were given an award! On that day, Ancestry.com (unbeknownst to us…and unannounced in advance) gave us their “Family History Favorite” award and featured The POORHOUSE STORY in that day’s Ancestry Daily News. (You can now find that award notice at the bottom of the homepage.)
[Note: I had been traveling out of town the 12th through the 16th and returned to find the most jammed and messed-up e-mail box situation imaginable. Fortunately, one of the first e-mails I was able to open was from someone who explained that they had heard about the site in that article. So … I had a clue what was going on. But not even a clue how to retrieve and organize all that e-mail! And therein lies a tale … or part of the tale reflected in the notice at the top of this page. Sigh. PHL ]
Let them eat cake! (NO)
Teach them to fish! (YES)
Our emphasis and priority on The POORHOUSE STORY has lately become teaching readers how to do their own research for poorhouse records. It could take us forever to discover and post all the information that is … “out there” … not just on the web, but in those no-longer-so-dusty-old archives (both state and local) in the real world. And lots of our e-mail (and most of the posts on the Message Board) consists of requests that we find the specific poorhouse records a reader is looking for.
At first we did that randomly…simply
looking for records as they were requested. More recently we have
learned that simply is not an efficient way to prioritize our research.
While we do want readers to continue to make such requests … that does
influence which archives we will approach first … we hate to see
readers have to wait so long for us to do research and post the results.
(We feel a little like parents who point to a dictionary when their kids
ask them to spell a word for them while they are doing homework!)
So….we have now published a list of the poorhouse
holdings of the state archives collections in four states: New York,
Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois.(See the lists and their links in the
table below.) The IRAD (Illinois Regional Archive Depositories)
system’s on-line catalogue is truly amazing!Among their holdings which
they have posted are … get this! …On-line searchable
name-indexes for the Almshouse Registers for 5 counties!
Now, to better help readers find such resources for themselves, we have put a new link on the homepage. It is a link to a list for the official state archives for all 50 states. The list includes (where available) addresses, phone numbers, and website URLs. We hope to keep this list as up-to-date as possible … given that those URLs change often. (That’s what we found with many existing such lists.) On that page we have included suggestions and tips to help you search in such archives’ catalogues of holdings.
OK, we have a confession. There is a (not so
very “hidden” <grin>) agenda behind our publishing this kind
of material on The POORHOUSE STORY. We
need to delegate some of this research! (No kidding.)
COMING ATTRACTIONS: Next month we will share with you some of the personal family history stories which have been submitted by readers about the experiences of family members who lived in a poorhouse. Many of these stories have given us a new perspective on poorhouses which goes beyond that available in the current historical record. Some include the role of the poorhouse as a refuge for victims of domestic violence. (That’s a remarkable insight!) And another involves the seizure of Civil War Pensions by the local governments as repayment for the costs of maintaining individuals or their families in a poorhouse. This involved poorhouse residence during the time the breadwinner was serving in the military or subsequent to their military discharge with handicaps which made them unemployable but not yet receiving any pension!
Thanks for your continued support!