Monday, May 15, 2006

Passports of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio

"Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our Nation turns its lonely eyes to you..."

I'm sensing a new trend. Buddy Holly's passport was recently sold at auction. And now a sports memorabilia company has put passports for Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio up for auction. Marilyn Monroe's dates from 1954 and was issued to "Norma Jean DiMaggio known as Marilyn Monroe."

I'm no expert on memorabilia or auctions, but as a genealogist I like looking at old records and things like passports. You can have a look at these two famous passports at...

Joe DiMaggio's Passport - Auction Listing

Marilyn Monroe's Passport - Auction Listing

For information on obtaining passport records see the Passport Application Records section on the Finding Naturalization Records webpage.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Boulder's Jane Doe - A Colorado Mystery

This article was updated on December 12, 2014.

I drove up to Boulder this afternoon to visit Columbia Cemetery, where I met with Mary Reilly-McNellan, who is the Project Manager for Columbia Cemetery Preservation. I had emailed her last week to ask if I could photograph Jane Doe's grave marker, which has been put away for safekeeping. Mary showed me where Jane's grave marker was locked away and I took a couple of pictures. The grave marker is no longer on the grave because the cemetery's keepers are afraid of vandalism - the cemetery was badly vandalized earlier this year. And Jane Doe is well known in Boulder for being a mystery.

Grave marker of Boulder's Jane DoeIn April 1954 a young woman's body was found by hikers in Boulder Canyon below Boulder Falls. She was thought to be between 17 and 20-years-old. Despite many leads and tips, the Boulder County Sheriff's Department was never able to identify the body or find the killer. Boulderites contributed funds to pay for a burial plot, Howe Mortuary provided a casket, and a grave marker was donated by the Boulder Marble and Granite Works.

In 2004 Jane's body was exhumed. A DNA sample was obtained and her face was reconstructed. Numerous newspaper articles have been written about her and a website has been set up. In March of 2006, the Rocky Mountain News reported a theory by Boulder County Sheriff's Detective Steve Ainsworth that Jane Doe may have been murdered by serial killer Harvey Glatman, who was executed in 1959. An episode of TV's America's Most Wanted with a segment on Boulder's Jane Doe aired on July 8, 2006. This was the first time the reconstruction of Jane Doe's face was shown on national television. Fifty-two years after her death, her identity remains a mystery. However...

Update (November 5, 2009): From DNA, the Boulder County sheriff has identified Boulder Jane Doe as Dorothy Gay Howard. See: Mystery solved: Boulder sheriff IDs 'Jane Doe' as Dorothy Gay Howard

Photograph of Jane Doe's grave in Columbia Cemetery, Boulder, ColoradoHere is Jane Doe's grave in Columbia Cemetery with its missing marker (as it looked in 2006). Note the single rose someone has left on the marking post. (Click on either photo for a larger view.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbols

I like spending time in cemeteries because they're usually quiet and they're filled with all sorts of interesting things. I find it oddly comforting seeing all those rows of silent grave markers, each with a story behind it. I occasionally take photographs in cemeteries of things I like. In late April I purchased a new digital camera and I started a photoblog, which is pretty much a photo album, but online. A few cemetery pictures have already made it into the photoblog, which you can see here... Fair Angels Photoblog

Photograph of Symbol from Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, ColoradoI also like deciphering and learning about the symbols that can be found on some grave markers. I have a book called Stories in Stone - A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography that explains the meaning of some of these symbols. In late April I visited Denver's Fairmount Cemetery and I photographed an angel sculpture that had an unusual symbol above it. I haven't been able to determine the meaning behind this symbol. If anyone knows what it means feel free to leave a comment. Just click on the comments link right beneath this post. Thank you.

Update: this symbol turned out to be a monogram with the initials FDW, which stand for Frederick Dearborn Wight (1837-1911), who is one of the family members buried in the plot. Thanks to all who contributed suggestions.

For more information about symbols found on grave markers see: Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbols

Monday, May 08, 2006

Last American Survivor of the Titanic Dies

Lillian Asplund, the last American survivor of the 1912 Titanic sinking, died on May 6, 2006 at age 99. She was five-years-old when she boarded the Titanic, and was the last survivor to remember the events. Two other survivors, both British, are still living.* Both were infants at the time of the Titanic. You can read more here... Titanic Survivor Lillian Asplund Dies - Obituary

For information on Titanic passenger records see the New York section at... What Passenger Lists are Online?

Here is Lillian Asplund's listing in the Social Security Death Index ...

Birth: 21 Oct 1906
Death: 06 May 2006 (V)
Last Residence: 01545 (Shrewsbury, Worcester, MA)
Last Benefit: (none specified)
SSN: 027-09-5906
Issued: Massachusetts

*Update: Titanic survivor, Barbara West Dainton of Camborne, England, passed away on October 16, 2007 at the age of 96. The last Titanic survivor, Millvina Dean of Southampton, England, who was a two-month-old baby at the time of the Titanic tragedy, passed away on May 31, 2009 at the age of 97. See: Millvina Dean, Last Survivor of the Titanic, Dies

Thursday, May 04, 2006

New Additions - Online Birth and Marriage Indexes

The following links were recently added to Online Birth and Marriage Records Indexes ...

- Shasta County Marriage Records Index 1854-1930

- La Plata County Marriage Records Index from 6/19/1877 through 7/2/1959

- Colorado Historical Records Index - includes...
-- Boulder County Birth Index 1892-1906
-- Denver (City) Birth Index 1875-1906
-- Elbert County Birth Index 1869-1906
-- Kit Carson County Birth Report Register 1892-1907

- Brevard County, Florida Marriage License Application Inquiry 1999-current - also includes historical marriage records 1938-1998

- Indiana Marriage Index 1993-2000

- Fayette County Kentucky Birth Index 1911-1930

- Caddo Parish Marriage Index 1937-present

- Howard County, Maryland Marriage Licenses 1860-1939

- Minnesota Birth Certificate Index 1900-1911 (updated)

New York...
- New York City Brides Index - various years (ongoing project)

North Dakota...
- Grand Forks County Marriage License Search, November 1875 - June 1914

- Multnomah County Marriage Records Index 1850s-1904

- Early Vermont Marriages from Berlin, Burlington & Montpelier

West Virginia...
- West Virginia Vital Records Indexes - includes birth indexes for 3 counties & marriage indexes for 6 counties; more are being added

- Wisconsin Pre-1907 Vital Records Index -- covers 1852 to September 30, 1907 (most entries date from 1880; includes some entries prior to 1852)
- Milwaukee County Marriage Records 1822-1876

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Pre-1907 Wisconsin Marriage Index

The Wisconsin Historical Society has updated their pre-1907 vital records index to include marriage records. Birth and death records were already included. While the index covers 1852-Sept. 30, 1907, most entries date from 1880. You may find a few entries prior to 1852. You can purchase copies of the records for a fee.

Wisconsin Pre-1907 Vital Records Index

Also helpful...
Online Wisconsin Death Records, Indexes, Obituaries and Cemetery Burials