And the Results Are In

Back in April I wrote about my experience attempting to track down my family lineage in present day Czechia.  Through communication with the National Archives of the Czech Republic and the regional archives in Trebon, I was able to establish my family was rooted in that region.  The regional archives took on the task of determining just how far down those roots went. 

Drum Roll Please

I now have a genealogical profile for the male line of the Verhota (Vrhota) family all the way back to 1604, when Jakob Cinatl took over the family farm from his father Petr.  I am not part of a lost line of Bohemian royals, I come from a long line of laborers and farmers.   

It has been fascinating to read through the profile, bringing up questions about my family’s progress through history.  For instance, most of the records linking the generations of my family were located in the Roman Catholic Church of Trebon’s records.  When did my family stop being Catholic?  In the profile, under Religion, the legitimacy of a person’s birth was recorded (parents were married at the time of birth).  The man who started this hunt, John Verhota (aka Jan Vrchota, my great, great, great grandfather) is the only person considered legitimate in the eyes of the church.  What was my family up to, wink wink?

Statni Oblastni Archiv v Treboni

The Regional Archives of Trebon provided so many interesting and valuable details for each generation of my family: date of birth, baptism, marriage and death; who their godparents were; their occupation; place of burial and sometimes a person’s cause of death.  For example, Anna Vrchotova, my 5th great grandmother, died of breathlessness—what the heck is breathlessness?


Anna Vrchotaova’s death records from Roman Catholic Church in Třeboň, volume 47, for years 1826–1866, page 63.  Links to available documents were provided by the Archives, along with a translation of the content.

Their Place in History

This process has also widened my thoughts on history.  My ancestors lived during some interesting times.  My ancestors were subjects in the kingdom of Bohemia.  Jakob Cinatl was coming of age towards the end of the Thirty Year’s War. Eventually this religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants resulted in the Battle of the White Mountain, ending the Bohemian reign and ushering in the Habsburg dynasty, absorbing Bohemia into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

Image Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

The Bohemian people fought for centuries against their new rulers.  When John Verhota was a teenager, a push to create a new Austria-Hungary-Bohemia monarchy failed and by the end of World War I, Bohemia faded into history becoming part of the newly established First Czechoslovak Republic. 

This whole experience has taught me so much about my personal and our global history.  As you can imagine, I have now added a trip to Trebon to my bucket list.  I plan to visit St. Elizabeth’s Church (Kostel Svate Alzbeta) to see where my family was buried; the church is still there west of the town center.  Also, I am slowly learning the Czech language.  I encourage anyone interested in the family genealogy to use the national archives system. The results may surprise you. 

References: 

Encyclopedia Britannica (2019, July 24).  Bohemia. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/place/Bohemia

Wikipedia (2019, August 13).  Lands of the bohemian crown. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lands_of_the_Bohemian_Crown

Digital Collaboration

In an ever-growing globalized environment, to better serve patrons, archives have been teaming up across borders.  The Arabian Gulf Digital Archives is the result of one such collaboration, between The National Archives of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and United Kingdom.  The Digital Archives is made up of 250,000 items including documents, maps, photographs and video footage, spanning approximately 200 years of history. This collaboration is significant because, historically, the UAE and UK have had a checkered past.  The documents available in the Digital Archives represent “years of intrigue, political strife, war, independence and progress” (Dennehy 2019) between the two nations. What is currently available is the culmination of 2 years of work, however the collaboration is not done.  The Digital Archives plans on expanding the digital collection even further.

References

Dennehy, J. (May 2, 2019) Treasure trove of priceless UAE archives now online. Retrieved from: https://www.thenational.ae/uae/heritage/treasure-trove-of-priceless-uae-archives-now-online-1.856500

Peterson, J.E., Crystal, J. (May 26, 2019) United Arab Emirates. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/place/United-Arab-Emirates


NDNP

Chronicling America: Digitizing the historic papers of our past
Nevada’s journey as part of the Nation’s Newspaper Digitization Project

People at the Center

In every step of our project, we put people at the center of all we do! We know that our papers are used by researchers in order to improve our world.

Our target users are:

  • Researchers & Scholars
  • Lifelong Learners & Casual Readers
  • Genealogists

DESIGN is everything!

The design is guided by our audience. All of the design decisions were made to serve them, to the formats and search design, tools used (such as OCR for full text searching) and of utmost importance: Outreach! Often we go where they are!

The treasure within the pages: our history

Our hope is that people of the state, nation, and world will dig into our papers to fulfill their curiosities, wonders, and all other information needs. We hope that people are delighted, enlightened, educated, surprised, and frightened at the contents within these pages.

The past can teach you a lot about the core of human nature and being a citizen of this world. It is fascinating to see how people lived their day-to-day lives.

Newspapers are often the first draft of history.

In the West, especially in Nevada, the Manifest Destiny and Gold Rush brought many new people to this land. The Natives (our Indigenous Peoples) were already here. Seeing the struggle for lifestyle and survival on both sides is very interesting, and often, heartbreaking.

Regularly there had to be a lot of cooperation with one another. Everyone came from different countries, cultures, and ethnicities and all had to live side-by-side. So more than not, people were respectful for the greater good. 

Some other observations?

Prohibition fueled what I like to call ‘PCP whiskey’ [moonshine] as this liquor unregulated it was really quite dangerous. A lighter note on prohibition, one article describes Reno as having more open saloons after prohibition than before!

Women wore long dresses consisting of many layers covering head, neck, arms, and always legs. They also had no rights and fought tirelessly for suffrage!

Jails were make-shift; prisoners broke out a lot! (I get the notion they were not stripped of belongings before being booked either; they often started fires or attacked others with weapons or other items!)

People lost so much from fires then – property damage and lives! Many times the residents put out the fires by forming lines and passing buckets toward the fire.

Mining was (and still is) very dangerous. Many perished working in the mines.

There were many murders but not many forensics science and murder investigations. Sometimes people were identified as “a stranger found dead…” and life appeared to move on.

There were a number of suicides. Life was not easy. Sometimes the suicides were gruesome and brutal (firearms were not always available!)

Entertainment included masquerade balls, traveling circuses, local theatre, and stories in the paper.

People suffered from the ravages of diseases that are preventable todaydiphtheria, scarlet fever, smallpox, meningitis… Often young children succumbed to diseases we prevent today!

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To learn more about Nevada Digital Newspaper Project, please visit our website

To search your state paper, or just to browse, visit Chronicling America

View a slideshow of some of the more interesting articles, advertisements and images we have come across


Quick stats from ChronAm!

28 titles from Nevada;

Nevada’s oldest title is from 1863;

205,653 pages available;

Papers from all of our 16 counties of Nevada!

Giving Back

Between April 5th and July 17, 2019, the National Archives of Canada will be providing funding and digitizing services to eligible indigenous organizations as part of their Listen, Hear our Voices initiative.  The goal of the initiative is to help preserve indigenous cultures and language.  In addition to the digitization, the National Archives will be providing training to help the participating organizations build the necessary skills to take the tenants of the initiative back to their communities.  A committee made up of representatives from First Nation, Inuit and Metis Nation will review applications and make recommendations. The Listen initiative is part of the Indigenous Documentary Heritage Initiative, which is a portion of a greater 5-year Indigenous Heritage Action Plan created by the Canadian government and the Library and Archives of Canada.  

Reference

Library and Archives of Canada (April 5, 2019) Library and Archives Canada launches funding and services to help preserve Indigenous culture and language recordings.  Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/library-archives/news/2019/04/library-and-archives-canada-launches-funding-and-services-to-help-preserve-indigenous-culture-and-language-recordings.html.

Archival Intelligence

National archives are the cultural and governmental memory of a nation.  They provide a look into the nation’s pastgood, bad or top secret.  And now with information always at our fingertips, the demand for access to such information has grown at a rapid pace.  

In Latvia, demand comes in the form of a new law which would require the national archives to digitize and publish online the records of the Former KGB.  Over centuries, Latvia has been a Baltic battle ground between invading Germany and Russia. Following World War II, Latvia became a part of the Soviet Union and was under the auspices of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, better known as the KGB, the Soviet Union domestic security service.  It was not until the late 20th century Latvia finally won its independence.  However, remnants of the old regimes, like the KGB records, still remain.  

While some see this law as promoting governmental transparency and acknowledgement of human rights violations, there are others concerned that people still alive today will be negatively impacted by the release of these documents.  There continues to be a negative stigma for individuals believed to have been willing collaborators with the KGB. The current restrictions for access of information in these records will only apply to individuals identified as victims or third parties.  This leaves a door wide open for personal information regarding anyone else involved with the KGB being made very public.

References

Baltic News Network (May 9, 2019) Latvia to publish additional KGB filing system and other documents.  Retrieved from:https://bnn-news.com/latvia-to-publish-additional-kgb-filing-system-and-other-documents-200447.

Encyclopedia Britannica (May 30, 2019) Latvia history.  Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/place/Latvia/History.

Pringle, R. (May 2, 2019) KGB agency, soviet union. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/topic/KGB

Lost and Found

Sometimes, history is not kind to the evidence of its events and people.  Documents are destroyed in fire, books are torn apart by war and photographs end up being shoved in a shoe box at the back of someone’s closet.  History ends up in the most interesting of hidey holes. That is the case for the diary of one such Dutch statesman. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547 – 1619) is considered one of the greatest statesmen in Dutch history. He was instrumental in the Netherlands’ emancipation from Spanish rule and was an active participant in the construction of the Dutch government.  However, after a disagreement with the reigning monarch over a military campaign, Johan was executed for treason. During his eight month incarceration, Johan dictated diary entries to a servant. The diary is 40 handwritten pages, which provide insight into Johan’s state of mind and other aspects of the time in history. The original diary had not been documented as seen since 1825.

Lost and Found

Fast forward to 2019, a book seller reached out to the Royal Library at the Haag and the Flehite Museum.  “It seems to have been in a family library which was cleared up last year and the owner recognized it as something interesting and brought it in a big box to the antique-book handler.” (Boffey, 2019)

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Johan’s death, the Flehite Museum has the diary on display, along with other items associated with Johan, his life and his death.

 

Reference

Boffey, Daniel (May 14, 2019) ‘A little miracle’: Dutch statesman’s diary found 200 years after it was lost. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/14/dutch-statesman-johan-van-oldenbarnevelt-diary-discovered-200-years-after-it-was-lost

Preservation in a Time of War

We are still fascinated by the extraordinary stories of courage, cunning and perseverance during World War II. The work of the so called Monuments Men are no exception.  The Monuments Men were created in 1943. The unit was tasked with protecting historical buildings and works of art in the European arena of the war.

Monuments Men

Earlier this year, the post war diaries of one of the Monument Men, S. Lane Faison Jr., was donated to the National Archives and Records Administration of the Unite States.  Faison was a noted art historian. He was responsible for identifying and reporting on the art collections stolen by Adolph Hitler. However, the diaries donated to NARA are from a the time in his life after the war, working on the Munich Central Collecting Point, overseeing the return of stolen art and items of cultural significance to their country of origin.  He also played a part in the Nuremburg trials, investigating Nazi documentation to determine what happened to prominent pieces of art work and interrogating Nazi official to determine the location of the stolen art.

Fiason’s diaries will now be a part of the NARA’s Monuments Men collection, all of the official documents and reports generated by the unit for the United State government, as well as German documentation.  

For more information on Fiason’s diaries, the Monuments Men or the NARA collection please go to:  

https://www.timesofisrael.com/diary-of-wwiis-monuments-man-given-to-national-archives/

https://www.monumentsmenfoundation.org/

https://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2019/nr19-48


 

Remembering the War to End All Wars

Over the past year, the Nevada State Archives has been celebrating and remembering the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I.  The collection exhibit includes war time pamphlets, political commentary and soldier’s service records.

Gambling with Gifts

In addition to the World War I exhibit, the State Archives has been given gifts presented to the Gaming Control Board, among other agencies, from their international partners.  The Gaming Control Board oversees and regulates gambling in the state of Nevada, but their influence reaches all over the world in the gambling industry. The gifts have come from all over the globe, from beautiful sculptures from China and Malaysia to a commendation from the country of Tonga.  

If you find yourself in the Carson City, Nevada area, please come by and enjoy their exhibits.   

 

2019 The International Year of Indigenous Languages

Images Courtesy of UNESCO

Each year UNESCO dedicates an entire year to an initiative of special significance.  For example in 2017 the initiative for the year was International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.  This year UNESCO has chosen to spotlight indigenous languages and bring awareness to the dwindling numbers of speakers of the thousands of indigenous languages spoken all over the world.

When we hear the word endangered, it conjures images of animals or plants that are on the brink of extinction, we don’t think about languages.  However, UNESCO reports that, of the 7 thousand languages spoken in the world, 2,680 are indigenous languages in danger of becoming extinct.  According to Jason Oxenham “A dead language is a language that no longer has any native speakers, although it may still be studied by a few or used in certain contexts” (Oxenham 2016).  This leads to a disappearance of indigenous cultures.

Nations like Australia, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Gambia, Saudi Arabia, and Bolivia are lending their support for this initiative, along with other professional organizations in the areas of linguistics and language education.

This year long initiative officially began on January 28, 2019, with a ceremony held at UNESCO’s world headquarters in Paris, France.  Leaders and indigenous peoples gathered from all over the world to discuss the challenges to the continuation of these native languages.

To find out more about the Year of Indigenous Languages please visit https://en.iyil2019.org/

In addition, I encourage you to research indigenous languages in your area.  UNESCO has created a wonderful tool, the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger http://www.unesco.org/languages-atlas/.  When searching the region where I live, I discovered that one of our Native American languages, Paiute, is in danger of becoming extinct.  According to UNESCO, there are only 400 speakers of the Northern Paiute language left in the world.

References:

Oxenham, J. (2016, April 28) Why you should learn a dead language.  Retrieved from: https://www.rocketlanguages.com/blog/why-you-should-learn-a-dead-language/