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Friday, January 29, 2016

Can I get an obituary from 2000?

“I need a copy of an obituary that was in the Plain Dealer in 2000. Is there a way for me to get it?”

Most libraries with a genealogy or local history department have newspapers archived, and there’s often a index to help find exactly which issue to look in. Since our patron was looking for an obituary from the Plain Dealer, we checked Cleveland Public Library.

We searched the Cleveland News Index for the name of our patron’s family member and found the issue, section, and page that their obituary was on. We emailed this information to the Cleveland Public Library Center for Local and Global History, and they were able to email us a scanned copy of the obituary. If our patron had been looking for something older, the Plain Dealer also has an online archive containing all their issues from 1845-1991.

Different libraries have different newspapers. Here at Newton Falls, we keep old copies of the Bridge and bound editions of the Herald in our Local History Room. The Akron-Summit County Public Library has indexed issues of the Akron-Beacon Journal (though only obituaries, not articles, are indexed from 1940-1984). Reed Memorial Library has all of the Record Courier on microfilm. An index for the Tribune Chronicle obituaries can be found at, and the Warren-Trumbull County Library Local History and Genealogy Center can assist with getting copies of the obituaries in question. The Genealogy and Local History Center at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County can access the Vindicator archives, though the pre-1920 indexes are incomplete which makes it more difficult to find information from that era. Finally, the McKinley Memorial Library has digitized local Niles newspapers, and they are available at

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. Any patrons seeking an obituary (or any other information) are welcome to call the library and we will do our best to find it.

Friday, January 22, 2016

What is this strange thing?

“I found this strange item while cleaning out my mother’s house. Can you give me some information about it?”

The item in question was a sort of slanted oblong wooden piece about two and a half inches long and an inch wide. One of the short ends was closed off, and the other had a small hole surrounded by a round metal attachment. Three of the four long sides were closed, but one was open. Some kind of silver plating was visible through the open side. “D.R.P, ang” was carved into another side, and another was affixed with a stamp. The stamp shows an open eye and the words “HYGIENE-AUSSTELUNG DRESDEN MAI-OCTOBER 1911.”

While we haven’t yet been able to figure out what the object is, it seems to be some sort of souvenir from either the 1911 International Hygiene Exhibition or the German Hygiene Museum. “D.R.P, ang” most likely stands for “Deutsches Reichspatent angemeldet,” which means that a patent has been applied for or “patent pending.” The stamp is the logo for the International Hygiene Exhibition, a health-and-medicine-focused world fair that Karl August Lingner put on in Dresden in 1911. (Lingner made his money manufacturing mouthwash, so he may have had ulterior motives for emphasizing health and hygiene.)

The Exhibition was so popular that the exhibits were moved to a permanent home in the German Hygiene Museum, which is open to this day. The most famous exhibit is a transparent human figure, dramatically lit, through which one can see the systems of the body.

The museum went through an unsavory period beginning in the 1920’s when it became a supporter of “racial hygiene,” or eugenics. It continued to promote Nazi ideals through the 1940s, and even the transparent man was used in propaganda. In 2006, the German Hygiene Museum collaborated with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to host the Holocaust Museum’s exhibit, “Deadly Medicine.” The exhibit focused on eugenics and particularly how it was furthered by German doctors and scientists of the time. It continues to tour the world, and can even be viewed online.

Along with its permanent exhibitions on motion, the brain, eating and drinking, and sexuality, the German Hygiene Museum also currently has exhibits on AIDS as well as the dark side of the fashion industry.  

Friday, January 15, 2016

How do I make a resume on the computer?

Applying for jobs almost always requires a resume, and there are tools on the computer to help make it easier to set one up.

Typing “resume,” “free resume,” or “make a resume” into an online search engine will often bring up sites that purport to allow users to create resumes using their templates. However, once a user creates their resume, the site will then prevent them from saving it or printing it out until they pay a fee. It’s best not to bother with these sites at all.

Microsoft Word (a word-processing program that’s available on all of our library computers) provides a series of templates that are free to use. They include pre-formatted headings like “Education,” “Experience,” and “Career Objective” (or “Career Summary”), with spaces for job-seekers to fill in their own information. It’s also possible to build a resume without using any special template. Amazing Resumes, by Jim Bright and Joanne Earl, includes examples that can be recreated using only simple formatting tools such as centering, bolding, and italicizing.

We have a variety of books on resume-writing, such as David F. Noble’s Gallery of Best Resumes, Regina Pontow’s Proven Resumes, and Ron Fry’s Your First Resume. They suggest that job-seekers stick to clear, simple formatting, be specific in listing their responsibilities and achievements, and make sure to proofread their finished resumes. While complete sentences aren’t necessary, spelling, spacing, capitalization, and punctuation all need to be correct.

Friday, January 8, 2016

What are some hiking trails in Pennsylvania?

One of our outdoorsy patrons had heard that there were some good trails in the mountainous area of southwestern Pennsylvania, but they couldn’t remember exactly where. We checked The Firefly Atlas of North America, The Rough Guide to the USA, and the internet to find the answer.

The Alleghenies and the Appalachians are the two main mountain ranges running through southern Pennsylvania. Our patron may have been thinking of the Laurel Highlands a scenic portion of the Alleghenies known for its whitewater rafting, biking and hiking trails, and fishing. It encompasses several state parks, including Laurel Ridge, Laurel Hill, Laurel Summit, Laurel Mountains, and Ohiopyle. The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, a 70-mile-long segment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, is popular. It’s marked with yellow blazes every hundred feet and has shelter areas every six to twelve miles.

If our patron is looking for something else, Robert Isenberg put together a list of twenty nearby biking and hiking trails for Pittsburgh Magazine. The relatively quiet Panhandle Trail is twenty-nine miles long, stretching from Carnegie, Pennsylvania, to the West Virginia border. The Great Allegheny Passage runs 150 miles from Pittsburgh to Maryland. It’s covered with asphalt and crushed limestone and built mainly on old rail beds, making it a good level trail for bicycling.

For more information, John Young’s book Hiking Pennsylvania is available through CLEVNET. If our patron would like to look at trails closer to home, we have a book here on the Midwest Rail-Trails, which covers Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. We also have Diane Stresing’s Cleveland edition of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Was there someone from Braceville on the Lusitania?

“I was reading Dead Wake, Erik Larson’s book about the Lusitania, and it mentioned that someone on the boat was from Braceville. Can you tell me anything about her?”

A quick internet search told us that Jessie Taft Smith was the Braceville resident in question. She was born into one of Braceville’s original pioneer families in February 1876. In October 1901, she married John Smith (also from a prominent family) at the Methodist Church, and the two moved to Chicago shortly after. John developed an airplane engine that the British Admiralty was interested in, so in 1915, he went to England and Jessie moved back to Braceville. A few months after he’d left, he contacted Jessie, asking her to bring him blueprint plans for one of his engines. We were able to find her passport application (including a photograph) on On the application, she gives “to accompany husband (who is there with passport)” as her reason for visiting Great Britain. John paid for her passage on the Lusitania.

The Lusitania began its journey from New York to Great Britain on May 1. On May 7, it was torpedoed by a U-20 submarine in the Irish Channel. Jessie made it into one of the lifeboats and was rescued by a British ship and reunited with her husband. She survived the sinking, but the stress of it took a toll on her, and she suffered a mental breakdown from which she never recovered. Jessie Taft Smith died in 1928 at the age of fifty-two. She is buried in Braceville Cemetery.

We found our online information at,, and Encyclopedia Titanica. The History of Braceville Township Trumbull County Ohio by Grace R. Sells has a brief section on Jessie Taft Smith. We also have Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, the book that inspired the question.