Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vital Stats from Educational Records - Who'd Have Known?

I just wanted to share something quickly that might be of help to others out there. Today I received the four-page "record" of my great-uncle, William Lawrence Greene, from his time as a graduate student at Cornell in the 1920's. (Now before my faithful followers get too excited for me, this is not the elusive William Green who moved to NY and lived as White. This is the Wm who added the "e" to the surname, and whose descendants are the only ones in our family who use that spelling.) I ordered the documents in an attempt to determine exactly when Uncle Bill began to use the new spelling of his name, and found that he was, indeed, using it at that time.

What I hadn't anticipated was the gold mine of family information that was contained on just one of the four sheets of paper - a sheet labeled, "Vital Statistics". I'd never really thought of finding so much information about the parents of a student in that student's records, but take a look at the text of an email that I just sent out to all of my Greene cousins to share what I'd found out with them:

Hi Greene Cousins,

Just wanted to share a little information with all of you. Perhaps you may already know all of this, but I got some new-to-me tidbits (gems, really) of information today that I want to pass on.

I recently ordered William L Greene's records from the Archives Department at Cornell, in an attempt to pinpoint when he began to use the "e" on his name. I did find that at the time of his application to Cornell, he was already using the e. (I knew it was on his diploma, which is hanging at 2101, but I wanted to see if he used it before that.)

I was thrilled to also find out the following information from Uncle Bill's "Vital Statistics" sheet from Cornell.

1. The actual dates of his first child's birth and death were confirmed.
William Lawrence Greene, Jr. was born 2/9/1928 in Garysburg, N.C., and died there on 8/1/1928.

2. John W. Greene was born in Oxford. I had not previously been able to locate his place of birth.

3. WL's mother (our great-grandmother)'s middle name was Georgiana! (I'll bet that doubles the reason Uncle George got his name!) Susie Georgiana Dunstan Greene died in Rolesville, 12/4/1907. (I have been trying to find her date of death for TEN YEARS. I'd assumed she died in Franklin County, but now I know it was Wake. Those few miles make a big difference!)

4. WL lists the date of birth for his father (our great-grandfather) as July 18, 1865. I won't change this just yet on the tree, because everything I've had prior to this has been July,1864. However, it's great to have the exact day in July on which he was born (the 18th). I hope I can verify this one way or the other though, because, as the oldest child of Anna Green and Nathaniel Hawkins, it would change some things in my research to find out that their first child (John) was actually born pre-Emancipation.

5. Uncle Bill uses 927 South Main Street as his permanent address. (This was my grandmother's house - his sister, Annie.) He also lists my grandmother as his next of kin and first reference. I called Aunt Sue to tell her about all this, and when I told her that, she said that she recalled that Uncle Bill did live there for a short time, but I don't know the circumstances.

6. William and Georgia were married on June 10, 1927 in Oxford.

Well, that's all folks. Just keeping you informed about your fam-bi-ly! :)

As you can see, I racked up! I had no idea I'd find out all of that just from getting Wm's graduate application! There was more, but I only sent things that were news to me in the email. So, folks, if your ancestors attended college at any time, you might want to consider getting those records! Who knows what great information you'll find!


  1. that is excellent to hear! I too have some college records I need to order and have never gotten around to it. I need to get on it!

  2. Thanks for the information on the college records. I would have never thought to look there because no one in my family attended college prior to my parents generations. But that might help me tie up a few loose ends on a few relatives.

  3. Yeah, Mavis, all that information from his college record really took me by surprise! Now, I'm just wishing that more of my family had gone to school, but William was an exception, and like you, it wasn't until my parent's generation that anyone else went.