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Family History Corner

Researching Common Surnames:

May 2022

My last name is Smith.  I have been told that our ancestors changed our surname before immigrating to the United States from Poland.  I have hesitated to attempt any research because I feel like I truly have a generic name.  Would it even be possible to learn anything about this family?

-A Researcher

Your question really has two parts to it.  How can I find the original Surname of my family? If it is a common surname, how do I research it properly?  Having a generic surname can be very fr...

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Organizing your Family History Research: Special Program with Family History Hunters

April’s Family History Hunters meeting will feature a special presentation on organizing your family history research. Our presenter for this meeting, Tina Claflin, is the owner of Halcyon Reflections, a certified photo manager, and offers independent consulting and organizing services for veterans, families, and non-profits to help others get organized to preserve their stories.

Tina will cover how to manage the physical organization of genealogy materials, as well as organizing digital files on a computer and on a chosen cloud service. The presentation is intended for both begin...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage Adults
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Family History Corner: Census Records

Census Records

April 2022

This month I want to build on the past ideas that I have written about and hope that you are having some success.  I have suggested that those who are beginning their family history:

                1. Identify what you already know about your ancestors through family members or papers you already have in your home. 

                2. Select a record to research: once...

Blog Type: Archives Adults
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Which records should I be trying to get? Where do I get the records I need for my genealogy work?

Q: Which records should I be trying to get?

 Where do I get the records I need for my genealogy work?

Like any good artist there comes a time in the creative process where a decision must be made.  Should I put a mountain here or a tree over there?  What colors should I use, etc. to make everything look beautifully balanced on the canvas.  So also, should a genealogist make vital decisions to have their family canvas develop beautifully. 

Once you have identified what you already know about your family from your personal memories and f...

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Family History Corner: How do I Start my Family History?

By Joan Wood, Archives Assistant & Genealogy Specialist, Stewart Bell Jr. Archives

WELCOME, to the new Family History Corner! 

The purpose of this blog is to answer your general genealogical questions.  I am really excited about this opportunity to connect to anyone who has been attempting to start their family history or who has been researching for quite a while. If you have any general genealogy questions, please send me an email at archives@handleyregional.org.   Subjects that you submit do not have to be specific to Winchester or even Virgini...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage
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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

To us at the Stewart Bell, Jr. Archives, these are words to live by.  We do not seek to manipulate the historical data entrusted to us, but rather to present an accurate picture of the people and events of our community. We members of the community are a multi-faceted bunch, each shaped by the past in ways unique to the individual; this is the legacy preserved in the archives. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned a future of peace between ...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage
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Meet Joan Wood, Genealogy Specialist at the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives

Joan Wood has worked as an Archives Assistant at the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives for ten years. She has a passion for genealogy, and as our resident genealogy specialist she has helped countless researchers uncover ancestors who once lived in the Winchester-Frederick County area. Joan also leads a genealogy discussion group known as Family History Hunters open to anyone interested in learning more about their family history, regardless of research experience. As the Family History Hunters kicks of its 2022 programming, we thought it would be a good time to let Joan tell you a little about her...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage
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Archives Highlights 2021 Accessions

At the end of every year, we like to highlight some of the new items added to the collections of the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives. Most of these items are donations and we are grateful to everyone who has helped build our collections for the benefit of future researchers.

You can view a selection of these items on our latest Facebook post. They are also on exhibit in the display cases near the Archives entrance in the Handley Library.

The photograph on the right is of Cornelia Anne Showalter Larrick, circa 1870, part of the Jeanne M. Stamper Collection, 1807 THL. Our collec...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage Adults
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Historic Marker Approved for Dr. Madison Spencer Briscoe, African American Scientist

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has approved a historic marker for the site of the former home of African American scientist and Winchester native Dr. Madison Spencer Briscoe.

Early this year, a committee, assisted by the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, began to assemble an application packet and supporting documents. With assistance from the City of Winchester and the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society the application was successful. The text of the marker will read as follows:

Dr. Madison S. Briscoe (1904-1995)
Madison S. Briscoe, biologist,...

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Robert Orrick, 1841-1902

This Black History Month we commemorate Robert Orrick (1841-1902), an African American businessman and Methodist minister who left a lasting legacy in Winchester and Frederick County.

If you drive a little south of Downtown Winchester on Valley Avenue you will pass by a cemetery standing on the corner of Valley Avenue and Southwerk Street. The land on which this cemetery sits was donated by the Reverend Orrick for use by African American families who, because of segregation, were excluded from both public and private cemeteries.

Orrick was born into slavery in 1841....

Blog Type: Archives
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Donation of Lord Fairfax Land Grant

This morning (January 18), the Stewart Bell, Jr. Archives received a wonderful gift – an original Lord Fairfax Land Grant document!  We would like to give a huge thank you to Mike Robinson, Winchester Tales, and everyone involved!  This is an example of a community coming together to preserve a piece of its heritage. 

We will work with conservators to preserve the document, and the original will be on display at the Winchester Tales book signing on January 30th at Solenberger’s Hardware.  Mike Robinson will have a detailed copy made and framed.  The copy w...

Blog Type: Archives
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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

To us at the Stewart Bell, Jr. Archives, these are words to live by.  We do not seek to manipulate the historical data entrusted to us, but rather to present an accurate picture of the people and events of our community. We members of the community are a multi-faceted bunch, each shaped by the past in ways unique to the individual; this is the legacy preserved in the archives. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned a future of peace between peopl...

Blog Type: Archives
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Bowman Library’s Cornerstone set 20 years ago

How many of you have been patrons of the Handley Library long enough to remember a time before the Bowman Library branch existed? What are your memories of its building and its opening?

20 years ago, on November 4, 2000, the Winchester Hiram Lodge conducted a ceremony setting the cornerstone for the Bowman Library. The stone was taken from the Handley Library building during its 1999-2001 renovations, as a way of symbolizing the unity of the regional system.

Bowman opened eight months after the ceremony in July 2001, but setting the cornerstone still marked a significant...

Blog Type: Archives
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Archive’s Photograph of Betty Taylor Dandridge to be displayed at National Portrait Gallery

A photographic portrait of Betty Taylor Dandridge, daughter of U. S. President Zachary Taylor, is on its way to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. for an exhibit on first ladies. The photograph was taken in 1860. “Miss Betty,” as she was known, served as the White House's official hostess during her father’s presidency and later settled in Winchester, Virginia with her second husband.

Personnel from Crozier Fine Arts arrived the morning of Thursday, 24 September to pack the picture and deliver it to the National Portrait Gallery. Crozier specializes in moving a...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage
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Constitution Week: September 17-23

Constitution Week (September 17-23) is an annual celebration of Americans’ liberties, freedoms, and rights as outlined by the Constitution of the United States. 

The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the Constitution on September 17, 1787.  This document established our government and laws in such a way as to build a philosophy of human rights and dignity into the structure of the government itself.  

The Daughters of the American Revolution partnered with Handley Regional Library to create a display on Constitution Week and the right to vot...

Blog Type: Archives
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