Free Civil War Talk on Saturday

The Erie Society for Genealogical Research and the Erie Public Library are sponsoring a Civil War talk on Saturday, April 21st, from  9:00 a.m. to Noon at the H.O. Hirt Auditorium at the Blasco Library. Renowned Civil War historian and author George Deutsch will speak about Erie County’s involvement in the war.

Deutsch, a graduate of Cathedral Prep and Mercyhurst College, was interviewed by the Erie-Times News on 11 April 2011, and that article is available online here. Deutsch teaches Civil War courses each year at the Chautauqua Institution and is co-author of “One of the Very Best Regiments,” a book about the 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry.

The talk is free and open to the public, so bring a friend! Not only will this be a great opportunity to hear an engaging, knowlegable speaker, but you will have the chance to mingle with other history buffs and Erie genealogists. Many of the ESGR officers will be on hand as well, so it will be a great opportunity for you to get a sense of what the Erie Society for Genealogical Research is all about!

Value of a 1940 Dollar in Today’s World

It took a while, but I was finally able to locate my 6 month old father on the 1940 census. He, his older brother, and my grandparents were NOT living on the street where I’d expected to find them, so it took a lot of page by page searching to locate them. Their entry on the schedule for Attleboro, Massachusetts, reveals a lot about my father’s family at that point in time and provides additional clues about my grandparents’ lives in the early years of their marriage. My grandfather only completed 6 grades of public education before entering the working world. In 1940 he was working 60 hours a week at a box factory and had worked 52 weeks the previous year, earning $1,650, more than double what his neighbors had earned at various fabric and textile mills around the area. It was also more than a neighbor employed as a policeman had earned. In fact, except for the superintendent of the local shoelace factory, my grandfather had earned more than everyone else enumerated on the same page, although a lot of his neighbors hadn’t been fortunate enough to work as consistently as he had that year.

The US Dept. of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics website offers a Consumer Price Index (CPI) calculator which tells us that $1 in 1940 equates to $16.39 today, and one dollar in 1939 had the same buying power as $16.50 in today’s economy.  Using that same calculator, I was able to determine that my grandfather’s 1939 income of $1,650 had the power to purchase $27,225 (in today’s dollar) of the things he and his family needed to live, such as housing, food, and clothing.

When the census was taken, my grandparents were living in a rented home, but a couple months later, my grandparents would purchase a home and 32 acres of land for $1200, of which he’d mortgage half, suggesting they’d managed to save $600 – pretty good for a machinest at a box company, with a 6th grade education!

Tom Hansen Gave a Great Civil War Talk Tonight

I enjoyed tonight’s ESGR meeting. Tom’s talk was interesting – I especially liked the passing around of the marble shaped bullets and broken pieces of cannon mortar, which is really strange for me since I don’t generally like guns or anything remotely related to war. Brigadier General Strong Vincent’s story is compelling, and I found Tom’s version of it really engaging.

New president Lisa Stanton did a bang up job of running her first meeting, especially given the size of the crowd that turned out to hear the civil war talk! If you weren’t able to make it, you’ll be happy to know there’s still room for a couple more guests at the 40th anniversary dinner on August 21st, although we need to know ASAP if you’d like to attend. Also, plans for the May 19th fieldtrip to Cleveland to hear speaker Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak are coming together nicely. Contact the ESGR if you have questions about either event.

I spoke for a minute about the ESGR’s 1940 census indexing project. A few people have already signed up for indexing and have linked their accounts to the ESGR, but there’s still plenty of time to join us! Here is the link to the community indexing project where you can register for a free account and identify yourself as a member of the ESGR team: Thanks for helping!!! 17.7 million records have already been indexed but there are millions more to do!

ESGR Meeting Tonight!

Reminder that the Erie Society for Genealogical Research’s monthly membership meeting is tonight at the History Center at 7:00pm. In honor of the newly released census, tonight’s theme is the 1940s, and attendees are encouraged to come dressed in 1940 garb, or to bring clothing or other item you’d like to share or talk about. [I’m going to go out on a limb here and, on behalf of those of us who have always hated dress-up days, hope out loud that costumes are entirely optional 🙂 ]

Tonight’s speaker is Tom Hansen, a local Civil War Reenactor who will talk about Col./BG Vincent, the Civil War, and research of Civil War Veterans buried in Corry, PA.