RFK Dies 41 years ago today

Robert F. Kennedy died 41 years ago today.

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I had the opportunity to hear RFK speak at Brigham Young University on March 27, 1968. The 1960s were difficult times – in 1968 – the Vietnam War was raging, RFK was challenging a sitting President LBJ for his party’s nomination, demonstrators were in all of the major cities. Less than a week following RFK’s talk Martin Luther King would be shot & killed. Two months after that RFK was shot and killed.

Kennedy’s remarks on campus were effective. He had done his homework; he had broken the ice and won over the respect of the packed arena. That fairly conservative campus was no longer his adversary but was ready to listen. He spoke briefly and took all questions. Tough questions. He was grilled but he was comfortable explaining his positions on the current state of the war and the country.

I clearly remember his opening remarks – with humor he reached out to his audience and showed respect for their history and beliefs. His actions and remarks echo in today’s headlines.

“Thank you very much. Thank you. I appreciate very much being here at this campus … I understand that this is a campus made up of all political persuasions. I had a very nice conversation with Dr. {Ernest L.} Wilkinson [laughter] … and I promised him that all Democrats would be off campus by sundown [laughter, applause].

But I feel very close to this state. Not only did part of my wife’s family live in the state of Utah for a long period of time, I traveled down your Green River…spent part of the time in the water (laughter) … part of my honeymoon here and I’ve had ten children since – so I have learned something from the Mormons [laughter].

I think that we still have a great deal in common, and in common with the man this university honors. For I too have a large family [laughter], I too have settled in many states [laughter]. And now I too know what it is to take on Johnson’s army. [Standing ovation, laughter and applause].” (Read the complete text at: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Vol 3, Number 3, Autumn 1968).

The reference to “Johnson’s Army” was a reference to his taking on President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Democratic Party Primaries as well as to President James Buchanan sending General Albert S. Johnston and his troops to quell the non-existent “Utah Rebellion” in 1857. This otherwise obscure reference was well known to BYU students schooled in Utah history. With this series of well thought out personal & historical references he won over the crowd.

After his remarks students crowded around to shake his hand. I was one of them. I was surprised at how short he was. I had always pictured him as over 6’ tall – but he was only 5’9” … shorter than I was then (but now that I am shrinking, I am catching up to him :)

(Photo courtesy BYU Archives).

I learned that day that it is important to see and hear a person speak for themselves – to take the measure of a man. I concluded that he was an honest man who believed in what he was doing and trying to accomplish. It was an honor to shake his hand that day – 27 March 1968.

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New York Genealogical & Biographical Society entrusts entire library to NY Public Library

The venerable New York Genealogical & Biographical Society sold its building (2007) and has now given its entire library collection to the New York Public Library (NYPL).

I was alerted to this by Dick Hillenbrand’s article at Upstate New York Genealogy Blog.

The
New York Times reported this morning that even though the NYG&B had sold their building for $24 Million that they would not undertake the effort to relocate and maintain the library but instead has given the 75,000 volumes, 30,000 manuscripts and 22,000 reels of microfilm to the NY Public Library. The NYG&B was founded on 27 February 1869.

In the mid 1960s I would train down to New York City to use both libraries. It made quite an impact to be in the NYG&B Library – with it’s impressive reading room and open stack collection – to walk the marbled halls of the NYPL, lined with paintings and be able to research my family history in both locations.

The NYPL’s genealogy collection – more formally called: The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy has long been known for its strong collection of research materials gathered for over a century – from the founding of the NYPL in 1848.

When I first began using the NYPL in the 1960s it was administered by Gerald D. McDonald who served from 1945-1969 and then by Gunther Pohl (1969-1985) and John Miller (1985-1987). The Division is currently under the capable leadership of Ruth Carr long serving Chief of that Division.
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B-Ann Moorhouse (1925-2008)

Joy Rich, Editor, Dorot: The Journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society (New York), contacted me with the sad news that B-Ann Moorhouse has passed away.
She was a terrific genealogist. When I began researching in the 1960s I got to know her and always appreciated her kindness and assistance.

With permission I am reposting Joy’s announcement of her passing.

I write to you with a heavy heart about the passing of B-Ann Moorhouse. B-Ann was a professional genealogist (and a CG) for several decades. She was loved and respected by the enormous number of people whose lives she touched.

B-Ann was the epitome of kindness and graciousness. She believed in people and encouraged them to fulfill their potential. She was always eager to share – especially with the next generation of professional genealogists and with librarians and archivists – the astonishing amount of wisdom, knowledge, and insight she had in the field of genealogy, particularly concerning Irish and colonial American genealogy.

Another area of great interest to B-Ann was the history of African American families in Brooklyn. B-Ann was the founder in 1978 of the Ulster Historical Foundation’s Ulster Genealogical and Historical Guild, a research co-operative established to link people worldwide who shared a common interest in Irish genealogy. She also founded the Genealogy Workshop at the Brooklyn Historical Society, which, at the time, was named the Long Island Historical Society.

She authored numerous articles for genealogical publications, abstracted Kings County, New York, administration proceedings and typed them on an extremely temperamental computer, and created finding aids for New York City for several New York state censuses. B-Ann was given access to basements and storage rooms in New York City’s Municipal Archives (when it was still in the Tweed Courthouse), Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court, and the Long Island Historical Society. Left to her own devices, she proceeded to rummage around and found many hidden treasures that she brought to light.

B-Ann passed away on February 15, 2008, in Georgia. Her beloved niece, Ann, who assured me that B-Ann died peacefully, moved her there last year so that she could care for B-Ann in her last months. It will bring a smile to your lips to know that, under Ann’s care, our B-Ann of the small frame gained sixteen pounds in six months.

Soon before she moved to Georgia, Jim Garrity and I paid her what turned out to be our final visit. We took her for a stroll on the promenade in her Brooklyn Heights neighborhood and then out to dinner. We had a wonderful time. It is just one of so many good memories of her that we will have with us always.

B-Ann will be dearly missed by her friends and her family.

Joy Rich
Brooklyn, NY