Thursday, April 28, 2011

What's in a (baby) name?

While creating a workable database of birth records, I thought it might be interesting to see if the baby names in the Town & Village of Greenwich follow along with the popular baby names of the country... or if they diverge. Since I get sidetracked by helping the public (being a public historian, that's what I'm here for), my self-created research tends to get left under a pile of dust for months at a time. In an effort to jump-start this concept, I decided to add it here. Periodically, as time allows, I will add updates to this ongoing project.

Here goes...

The 20(ish) Most Popular Baby GIRL Names in Greenwich, NY 1881-1913*
 1.)  Mary
 2.)  Elizabeth
 3.)  Helen
 4.)  Florence
 5.)  Bertha
 6.)  Alice
 7.)  Ruth
 8.)  Anna, Blanche, Irene, Marion, Sarah
 9.)  Ethel
10.) Dorothy, Elsie, Margaret
11.) Edna, Ella, Frances, Jennie, Julia

The 20(ish) Most Popular Baby GIRL Names in USA 1881-1913^
 1.)  Mary
 2.)  Anna
 3.)  Helen
 4.)  Margaret
 5.)  Elizabeth
 6.)  Ruth
 7.)  Florence
 8.)  Ethel
 9.)  Alice
10.) Dorothy
11.) Marie
12.) Emma
13.) Lillian
14.) Mildred
15.) Edna
16.) Annie
17.) Grace
18.) Rose
19.) Frances
20.) Clara

* compiled from Town & Village of Greenwich birth records 1881-1913
^ comipled from data on the Social Security Administration website

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Counties, counties...

So, back to the people counties in the US are named after... Did you think I forgot?

President #5 James Monroe & Francis "Swamp Fox" Marion tie "Honest Abe" with 17 counites each.

Revolutionary War Brigadier General Richard Montgomery & orator Henry Clay, Sr. (Secretary of State under John Quincy Adams, among other things) tie with 15 counties each. However, Clay County Iowa is named after Henry Clay, Jr., a war hero who died at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican-American War. Colonel Clay was, of course, named after his father. So, maybe "Henry of the West" has the edge over the general.

What about our 4th president, James Madison? So glad you asked. Mr. Madison, Father of the Constitution, husband of Dolley, has, in fact, the 4th most popular county name. Nineteen counites to be exact! The 20th Madison County in Nebraska is named after Madison, WI, the hometown of the people who settled there. Wait a second... Madison, Wisconsin is named after James Madison too! Maybe we should count it as 20 since it doesn't disrupt the standings at all...

James Madison- 4th President (1809-1817)

There you have it, folks... I'll get back to local history next week.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Treasure of dry glass plates

About five years ago, I came into work at the Town of Greenwich offices, expecting the typical slow pace. Maybe have an email or two waiting for me to answer. Maybe a phone call from someone in Ohio or California looking for an ancestor buried in one of the cemeteries. What I found was an amazing donation, just sitting on my cluttered desk. Fifty-two dry glass plates in four disintegrating boxes. Eight of the plates had been developed at some point, & were included.

After a year or so, I was finally able to take the plates to Michael Noonan, a local photographer who has a passion for history & traditional photographic techniques. Michael & I looked them over & decided on a few of the images based on composition and historical detail. He made up contact sheets of the 13 images we selected. Then time got away from me.

While I was getting ready for last weekend's "We Grow History" History Fair at Greenwich High School, I thought about those glass plates & decided to bring them with me. Another local photographer & re-enactor, Cliff Oliver, was there. When I told him what I had with me, his eyes lit up. When I told him I had gloves with me... he got very excited. Between Cliff, and Tim Tefft, an amazing walking encyclopedia of local history, they were able to let me know that many of these images were local. Yay!

Dry glass plates were invented by Richard Leach Maddox in 1871. They replaced the wet glass plates by about 1880 because they didn't have to be treated before exposure & photographers could wait to develop the photographs at a later time. Also, because the dry glass plates were mass produced the silver nitrates in the gelatin emulsion were more consistently distributed allowing for sharper images. They would be commonly used until about 1920. Because the emulsion in these plates is starting to break down chemically, the next step is to spend some of my small yearly budget on some glass negative boxes & four-flap negative enclosures. I finally get to order from the Gaylord catalog!

Anybody know of a grant that would help me fund the developing of this treasure trove of 52 dry glass plates?