City Directory Sunday, Portland, Oregon, 1940

This week’s column is part of page 1003 from the R. L. Polk’s 1940 Portland, Oregon City Directory. Enjoy.

Polk's, Portland, Oregon, City Directory, 1940, page 1003

© 2012 N. P. Maling — Sea Genes Family History & Genealogy Research

Seattle and Portland are Great Places for Genealogy Research

Recent numbers from Google’s Trends spotting service show that Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon consistently show up in the top 10 places to do genealogy, family history, and ancestry research.

These numbers are encouraging as the rest of the states and cities indicated by the trends service are in the south and southwest.

Among the top cities for genealogy, excluding that center for name collecting in Utah, are

  • Denver, Colorado,
  • San Diego, California
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Houston and Dallas, Texas
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota

For family history and ancestry research, San Antonio and Austin, Texas join the top 10 mix.

What makes Texans so hot on genealogy these days? Comments welcome and warmly solicited.

© 2012 N. P. Maling — Sea Genes – Family History & Genealogy Research

Review: Hey, America, Your Roots are Showing, by Smolenyak

Smolenyak, Megan. Hey, America, Your Roots are Showing. New York: Citadel Press. 2012.

ISBN-13: 978-0-8065-3446-6.

The chapter on the life and times of the Baker City, Oregon, madam and her family is among the best stories told in this collection of adventures into forensic genealogy. Smolenyak details her, relatively simple, as it turns out, foray into tracing Mabel Cavin through the early decades of the 20th century.

The Mabel Cavin chapter is a good case study for researchers hoping to work together in trans-continental genealogy research. Given that it is a bit light on the technical details here, the gist of the study would be good material for an expanded article in a journal such as the National Genealogical Society’s Quarterly.

Another chapter, on the civil rights detective work is also a good example of how things can turn up unexpectedly, sometimes years later, in different contexts. This chapter gives the rundown on an investigation for the FBI concerning a murder in Texas which has yet to be solved. (?)

Mrs. Smolenyak’s adventures cover decades of her work for various governmental agencies and her volunteer work, as well. The chapters on the presidential et cetera genealogies are less interesting, but provide clues for other genealogists who are interested in the subjects and techniques discussed there.


Mrs. Smolenyak now goes by Smolenyak2 in an acknowledgment that she is married to another Smolenyak. The details of why she squared her surname are buried in one of the later chapters, but knowing her history is a good clue as to why her name is written as such. Her description of genetic genealogy in her own research is also fascinating as it shows that even her family had secrets. These two chapters are also among the better stories.

Hey, America, Your Roots are Showing is a good read for those hours when you can’t do hard research on your own, and are able to bask in the pleasures of armchair detective work.

© 2012 N. P. Maling — Sea Genes – Family History & Genealogy Research

City Directory Sunday: Honolulu, Hawaii Territory, 1940

The Seattle Public Library has a wonderful regional collection of city directories. Some of these directories date from the beginnings of the place’s existence and others are more recent. A good number of gaps in chronological coverage exist in many of the series, but enough of them are consistent time-wise.

This week I’d like to spotlight the Polk-Husted Directory Company’s Honolulu City and Territory of Hawaii’s Directory. Here is a column from page 380 of the 1939-1940 directory. Enjoy.


Polk-Husted, City Directory, Honolulu, Hawaii 1940, page 380, column 1

TMG: Citing the 1940 US Census

Here is an interesting thread from the The Master Genealogist mailing list on RootsWeb.

The technical as well as the philosophical aspects are considered by the members of the list when handling the newest major information source for genealogists of all stripes.


Gustavus Gessner is another relative of the Rudolph Gessner I wrote about in the Seattle Genealogical Society’s recent Bulletin. This is an example of how popular his family was in Ohio and the Civil War years.

Grand Army Blog

Yesterday the New York Times’ Science page featured an article about J. David Hacker’s recent study that has revised upward the long-accepted casualty count of 620,000.  This is well-deserved publicity for Hacker and for Civil War History, the leading scholarly journal in our field.  Hacker’s study reminds us that numbers are politics.  The quest to determine precisely the social impact of the Civil War is nothing new, however — something Hacker readily admits.  Such estimates consumed blue-coated ex-soldiers in the late nineteenth century, and as such Hacker joins distinguished company, including Union veterans Thomas Leonard Livermore, Thomas Brown, and William Fox.

Ex-prisoners of war were particularly determined to right the record books.  Perhaps nobody was more committed to the project than Ohio Union Ex-Prisoner of War Association President Gustavus Gessner, who maintained meticulous records of the dead by corresponding with other rebel prison pen survivors. Gessner became particularly…

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City Directory Sunday: Seattle 1940

This is the first installment of a new series called City Directory Sunday, in which I’ll be featuring images from various city directories. I’ll start with Seattle’s 1940 R. L. Polk’s directory and a random page column. This is page 477, column 2.

Seattle city directory 1940, page 477, column 2

I do document look-ups in a number of Seattle area libraries and repositories, so can easily find family or friend entries in this city directory. Other city directories are available from states such as Alaska, Idaho, and Oregon. Contact me if you’d like a lookup. I’m also available for obituary research on