Sunday, August 7, 2016
Not a Moment Too Soon
Finding that mention of the marriage of Helen Gramlewicz' sister Anna in her passenger records was a serendipitous discovery. I'm not sure I would have figured out what Anna's married name might have been, had I not stumbled upon that handwritten note added to Helen's records.
Still, discovering Anna's married name—Jablonski—wasn't enough to find any documentation of the marriage. True, I could, with the tip off of the name, find their entries in subsequent federal and state census enumerations, allowing me to discover the names of the next generation of Gramlewicz descendants in the United States. With the newfound knowledge that Anna's firstborn daughter, whom she named Irene Martha, arrived in 1917, it was a safe bet to assume Anna and Vincent Jablonski were married around 1916. But as to the wedding, itself, there wasn't much documentation to be found.
I tried, of course, to find any record online. The search for any Jablonski marriage records at FamilySearch via the New York, New York, Marriage Index spanning 1866 through 1937 yielded absolutely nothing. Of course, there was, theoretically, the possibility that young Anna and her beau had slipped away to be married outside the five boroughs comprising New York City. But who was there to elope from? Her parents and siblings had all left for Poland in 1912. The only family members remaining in the country were her aging uncle and aunt, with whom she shared their Brooklyn apartment.
There was another way around this search dilemma, of course: public notices published in local newspapers. While the Brooklyn Daily Eagle yielded nothing, it was the Old Fulton New York Post Cards website that came to my rescue.
You see, while I was able to find a mention of a marriage license issued to Vincent and Anna in the Brooklyn Standard Union, the unfortunate fact was that the genealogical patron saint behind that quirky website had somehow scanned that very page in such a way as to cut off the heading, which essentially meant that the issue's date was scrubbed from the digitized image. All I can go by is the search result entry which indicated—at least—that it was an edition published in 1916.
However, this is not the time to bemoan such a research quandary. There is a way out of this dilemma—if, that is, I am willing to wait a while. For not a moment too soon, we—at least, those of us who are researching our New York City roots—have been snatched from the fate of having to expend the time and money to head to the lower reaches of Manhattan and the city's archives there and personally crank through the microfilms in hopes of finding that very date.
On the same day I was pondering how I was going to resolve the absence of the marriage date I'm seeking, an email arrived in my inbox, trumpeting the news: "WE WON!" Apparently, the New York City Marriage Index—in this case, a later segment than the one I'm currently seeking—will just now become "free and open data." However, in the same email, the group making it so—Reclaim the Records—explained that the Index for the years 1908-1929 has now been digitized, thanks to the help of FamilySearch.org, and uploaded to the activist group's site at Internet Archive, where they can all be accessed freely.
Well, make that a little too freely. The data is there, all right. But you have to go find the specific names you are seeking. A little too daunting a task for me.
It occurred to me that, rather than hunting through the digitized file for the 1916 marriages in Brooklyn, New York, as found in the Internet Archive file, since FamilySearch was the one doing the grunt work, perhaps they got the benefit of also keeping a copy of the file.
True, they did show a file with a similar name on their own website. But remember, putting the file through its paces with a search for both Vincent Jablonski and Anna Gramlewicz yielded me nothing.
According to the Reclaim the Records email, they are working with others to get "some kind of standalone searchable version of that CSV data thrown together online" in the near future. My choice at this point: either wade through the data in hopes of finding Vincent and Anna, wait for those "genealogy nerds" to create the search mechanism, or try to hack through it all, myself.
Maybe I'll just opt for wandering around the data, myself. What gets poked and still doesn't explode can't hurt me.
Above: From the Brooklyn, New York, Standard Union in an undated 1916 edition: "Marriage Licenses...Vincent Jablonski, 23, of 149 Grand street, and Anna Gramlewicz, 19, of 137 North Ninth street."