Fox Footprints: local history

The Appleton Public Library is very interested in preserving local history and collecting our shared stories. Here you will find unique photos and stories, updates on our projects and information on our programs in local history and researching your family history. If you have a great photo or story, let us know!   -Diana

Researching Land Records in Wisconsin

If you’ve ever wondered how land descriptions work or how to read a deed, our next Find Your Ancestors program is for you.  Randy Bixby, Land Records Archivist at the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands will be our featured speaker.  She will explain how early land records worked—land patents, deeds, plats and more.  An experienced genealogist, Randy knows how to make the connection between the land and the families who lived there.  There will be local plat maps and Sanford Insurance maps to view as well as items she will be bringing from Madison.

This free program will take place Saturday, February 14 in Lower Level Meeting Room C, from 1:00-2:30 pm.  No registration required.

2015 Fox Cities Reads book is announced

Christina Baker Kline’s book Orphan Train is this year’s Fox Cities Reads title.    Each year a book is selected by a committee of public libraries and the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley to be read and discussed by members of the community.  The goals are to promote literacy and build a sense of community through activities, author visits and related programs.  The chosen book was revealed at the History Museum at the Castle on Wednesday.

Orphan Train, a New York Times bestseller, tells the story of a young Irish woman, Vivian Daly, who immigrated from Ireland with her parents to New York City.  Due to her fractured home life she, along with other children, is sent on an orphan train towards a new life in the West.  Much later in life, after returning to the East Coast, she meets 17-year-old Molly Ayer, who is also a foster child.   As they sort through Vivian’s mementos past and present challenges are revealed.

As part of the Fox Cities Book Festival, author Cristina Baker Kline will give presentations on April 20 and 21.  For a greeting by the author and more information about Fox Cities Reads programs, please go to  Copies of the book are available for checkout at local libraries and a brochure with programs and a reading list is available.

Planning a family history research trip to the Appleton Public Library?

Our newly updated booklist Genealogical Resources gives lists of titles which will help you get started on finding your family.  They are arranged by category or topic, including Census & Vital Records, Church & Cemetery Records, Local History & Biographies, The Immigrant Experience, Foreign Research and more.  Many are available on the Appleton Public Library bookshelves, and some titles may be checked out.  Others are Reference materials which must be used in the library.  They will have an "R" before the call number--for example R977.539 App may not be checked out, while the copy 977.539 App may be checked out.

Also included are digital resources such as online books, databases like Ancestry Library Edition where you can search for your family, and local research centers. Using this booklist you can decide how best to use your time at the library.

We also have microfilm of the Appleton Post-Crescent back to 1853, pamphlet files on local organizations and businesses, atlases, Sanford Insurance maps and more. 

Don't forget our Find Your Ancestors program series, taking place 1:00-2:30 in Meeting Room C.

January 10--Researching Ancestors in Marginalized Groups by Nick Hoffman, curator at the History Museum at the Castle.

February 14--Randy Bixby, Land Records Archivist at the Board of Commissioner of Public Lands office will present Researching Land Records in Wisconsin.

March 14--Speaker to be announced.

Join us to learn more ways to discover your ancestors. 


Do you have "brick wall" ancestors?

Do you have ancestors who are very difficult to find? They may be part of a small ethnic group, never belonged to a large established church so there aren't church records to go on, or they were a member of an overlooked segment of the population.  These are sometimes known as "brick wall" ancestors because you feel like you hit a brick wall and so were not able to move on with your research activities to find that ancestor.

Join us for Researching Your Marginalized Ancestors, the next Find Your Ancestors program, on January 10, 2015 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm in Lower Level Meeting Room C.  Nick Hoffman, Chief Curator at the History Museum at the Castle, will explain methods and give research tips that will help you search for those tough to locate family members. 

If you viewed the display A Stone of Hope you saw results from this type of search.  Using lesser-known sources, researchers can find information on people who didn't appear in the "regular" records.  Perhaps using these methods will help you break through that brick wall.


Memory Project Adds New Materials

Good news for those interested in local history or genealogy!  The Appleton Memory Project  (part of the InfoSoup Memory Project)  has expanded to include more digital materials.  With the assistance of the Outagamie-Waupaca Library System and a grant through the Library Services and Technology Act we have been able to make available more city directories and other unique items.

tourism brochure1904 Appleton City directory

They include the Neenah-Menasha City Directory from 1938 and Appleton City Directories from 1877-78, 1884-85, 1897-98, 1901, 1904 and 1915.  Unique items include a tourism brochure created by the Chamber of Commerce titled “Appleton Wisconsin:  You’ll Like It”,  a brochure from the Appleton City Free Public Library circa 1936, the "Appleton Vocational School News" of 1920 and “Breezes of 1927” which was put out by the vocational school.

Vocational School news

To view these materials through the Appleton Public Library web page click the elibrary tab, choosing APL-created and then Digital Image Collections.  Choose Appleton Memory Project from the list.

To access from the Infosoup catalog you should choose Digital Collections from the I’m looking for list in the upper right, then Infosoup Memory ProjectAppleton Memory Project will be first on the list.

We are working on more projects to provide information to you, so check back either on this blog, or through one of the links above.

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