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The Iron Range Research Center Library and Archives in Minnesota maintains a collection of ethnic information that is especially useful to the Slovenian genealogist. Many early Slovenian settlers migrated to the Iron Range area seeking work in the mine. The library has a strong reference collection, and they maintain a wide range of information specifically aimed at the genealogist, including census schedules, naturalization papers, city directories, plat maps, and passenger lists and indexes. They also have a strong newspaper collection. They are interested in preserving the historical perspective of the region and accept personal papers from individuals, business, and industry as well as historical photographs and oral histories. Their address: Iron Range Research Center, P.O. Box 302, Chisholm, MN 55719. You can contact them at 218-254-3321 if you'd like to discuss their collection content and accessibility before making a trip.
Another group that is collecting information about ethnic groups, including those with Slovenian background is the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, 18 South Seventh Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106. They are building a museum and ethnic library that should be useful to those of us with Slovenian backgrounds. They have a reading list available for many ethnic groups, We Slovenians are grouped within the South Slav designation. They provide a wealth of information about their services and publications when asked.
Timothy Gasper's article is especially timely this quarter in light of new services offered by the National Archives. For those not able to make it to the nation's capital to use Archive material, the National Archives is now making its microfilm rolls available direct to individuals as well as to libraries at reduced rental rates. For information about what is available directly from the Archives, write: National Archives Microfilm Rental Program, P.O. Box 2940, Hyattsville, MD 20784.
I was recently contacted by the Society for Slovene Studies. This is a scholarly nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering closer communication among scholars interested in Slovene studies. They publish both a newsletter an a journal. For information about this worthwhile organization, write: Society for Slovene Studies, c/o Dept of GREAL, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403.
I wonder if anyone noticed the Ann Landers column on Wednesday, August 12, 1987. There was a letter reminding everyone that "An old person dying is the equivalent of a library burning down". The recommendation was to record and preserve as many "oldtimer" stories as possible. We agree. There is a book by William Fletcher Dodd called "Recording Your Family History" that offers tips and guidance on recording family histories. It would be very nice if our school children in cities where Slovenian Homes are located would tape record histories of the residents, possibly as a history fair project. Please make the
suggestion to school authorities in your home town.
Ship passenger arrival records are one of the best sources of information fixing the Slovenian city of residency of our immigrant ancestors. You can have these records searched for you by writing for a copy of NATF Form 81(11-84) from the Reference Branch, National Archives & Records Service, 8th & Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20408. When you receive the form, fill in the full name of your immigrant ancestor, the port of entry, and the approximate date of arrival. The workers at the archive will search their files, and if the record is found, you will be billed $5.00 for a copy of the record. this means you pay only for a successful search, and even then, the fee is very reasonable.
Records date back to 1820 for most east coast and gulf coast posts and a few date back to 1800 for Philadelphia. There is no index available for the port of New York for 1847 to 1896. For this period you will need to know the name of the vessel your immigrant ancestor arrived on or the port of embarkation. If you know the date and port of arrival...you can find the ship's name by researching the Morton-Allen Directory of European Steamship Arrivals.
T. J. Gasper
As a novice in the field of genealogy, I feel very fortunate to be living in the metropolitan Washington DC area. The Nation's Capital is a treasure trove of information for the beginner and the more advanced Slovenian genealogist. While most of my research has centered around the National Archives and the Library of Congress, I am frequently discovering additional sources of information, such as, the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The National Archives is best known to genealogists for it many government documents, such as land, property, and military records, but the documents that would probably be of most interest to the Slovenian genealogist are the ship passenger lists and census records. There is available on microfilm almost all passenger lists for ships arriving in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, and New Orleans from about 1820 to the 1940's, depending on port.
Most passenger lists are indexed, so knowing the name and the approximate age of your ancestor, it is quite easy to locate the passengers records. I have located passenger records for 6 ancestors of mine from Slovenia, and a record for my grandmother when she made a return visit to Slovenia's in 1930. 20th century passenger lists give about 30 columns of information on each passenger. 19th century lists ar less informative.
Some useful information, besides date of arrival and name of ship, available include: name and address of nearest living relative in the place of origin, and age. There are several columns on personal appearance, including height, weight, color of hair and eyes, and marks of identification.
Census records from 1820 -1920 are on microfilm, and most states are indexed. These records give about 28 columns of information on each person. Again, 20th century records are more informative than earlier records. Useful data includes date of birth, year of immigration to the United States, Citizenship status, names and dates of birth for wife and children, and occupation.
The Library of Congress has information on almost any subject. The map division, periodicals division and main reading room are invaluable to genealogists. The main reading room has no less than 3 card catalog drawers of listings for Slovenia, Slovenians, and Slovenian immigrants, including some published family histories. Books on the history of ships and ship lines are also available.
The map division is certainly unparalled. It contains an atlas of all countries from many centuries, including sectional maps of Yugoslavia, that if pieced together, would be 22 feet from top to bottom. For the first time, I was finally able to locate my grandparents village, Zarecje, on one of these maps. It is so detailed that it actually shows buildings.
The periodicals room, room LM133 of the Madison building, has newspapers from all large cities in the United States on microfilm dating as far back as the 18th century. Obituaries and burial permit notices can be useful.
The genealogy division of the Library of Congress deals almost exclusively with genealogy in America. It is of value to the beginning Slovenia genealogist since most of our nationality were late comers. Printed histories of families on file and histories of counties for all states may help. they were valuable to me in finding information about the companies that employed my grandfather.
A trip to Washington DC is well worth the effort, especially if you are just beginning your search. The information sources here are quite unique and thorough enough to get anyone well on the path toward his or her ancestors.