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Friends of Narberth history
Friends of Narberth History
Narberth People

Narberth People

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History is about people, and it's the people of history that we need to know and understand. Why they did what they did, why they were the way they were. What were they up against, what were their advantages, and so forth? Who were their friends? To whom were they married? All of that.

—David McCullough, quoted in David M. Rubinstein, The American Story, Conversations with Master Historians (New York, Simon & Schuster, 2019), page 30

Who’s who on our home page collage

crowd of faces all looking towards the right
World War II rally in downtown Narberth, October 4, 1942
passport portrait of olderf woman in plain black dress
Mary Fleming, wife of Narberth's last blacksmith, 1924
young girl with huge hair bow posed with face leaning on clasped hands
Narberth Public School first or second-grader, 1916
old man with bushy white mustache in starched collar and tie
T. B. Belfield bought Narberth's largest house in 1883
young dark-haired woman wearing crown and fur-trimmed cape
Elise Henry played Lady Narberth in the Historical Pageant, 1914
fuive nmen hold up a circular sign that says Ricklin's 1913-2013
Ricklin's Hardware closed after 105 years in business, April 28, 2018
men in military unifonms posed in two rows in front of a porch with a family on it
World War I Welcome Home celebration, October 25, 1919
A Black man holding a bicycle in front of a stone building
Posing in front of the new Elm Hall, c. 1900
man holding reins sits in a horsecart in front of a coal pile
C. P. Cook coalyard, c. 1905
three-quarter-view head and shoulders portrait of a young man in formal attire
A. H. Mueller, atlas publisher, first burgess (mayor) of Narberth 1895-97
charcoal portrait of a middle-aged woman with short dark hair and wireframe glasses
Elizabeth Wood founded the Narberth Community Library with 18 books in 1921
older man with straw hat looks lovingly at a toddler he's holding in his arms
At a baseball game, Narberth & Price, c. 1915
seven smiling women with sculpted hairdos and flower pins
The Narberth Junior Women's Community Club celebrates its 50th Anniversary, c. 1970

Do you know these people?

See a list of census records whose address is unidentified

About these records

The greatest source of this data is the U. S. Census. The genealogical website FamilySearch.org helpfully supplies thousand of census page images and transcribes the basics: names, relationships, gender, age, and birthplace. We have added street addresses, household groupings, and work occupations. By following the links to the original documents, you will find even more information; a free FamilySearch account is required for access, although they are not the only source of census images.

The data was imported into a custom database to faciltiate its presentation and to identify and correlate people (and addresses) from census to census, a huge effort given the many spelling, abbreviations, handwriting and transcription inconsistency; complete accuracy is never assured! Even a town as small as Narberth has over 11,000 census records between 1900 and 1930.

Some explanation of the results:

Most birth years are calculated

The census did not record dates of birth. Rather, it includes "age at last birthday". Census dates:

Subtracting the age from the year before the census year gives us only 75% accuracy, with two exceptions. The 1900 census uniquely recorded the month and year of birth, so that record supercedes others in case of conflict. And subtracting the age from January 1, 1920 will be consistent, so it received second priority.

But… people may estimate or guess when they reported their own or someone else's age. You will see in these pages many, many examples of people who aged 5 or 6, or 14 or 15 years between censuses. And we have been informed that people may even lie about their age. The best hedge is to cross-reference birth dates across documents, giving more credence to records personally submitted by the individual or a family member or acquaintance, for example, the Narberth Roll of Honor, marriage, birth, draft, or death registrations, and tombstones. We invite any corrections (with evidence) you can share!

Searching by name

By default, this search will return any family name that matches or starts with your search term. For example, "John" will also return "Johnson" and "Johnston". You could search for "Jo" and get these names, along with "Jones", "Joslyn" and others. An auto-suggest list appears after typing at least two letters, offerring names from the database that start with (or, in some browsers, contains) the letters you've typed. In addition, autocomplete will suggest previous searches you've made.

Searching by “sounds like”

Soundex, patented in 1918, tries to match similar-sounding names, despite spelling differences. It seems ideally suited to the census, where spelling inconsistencies are common. However, soundex does have limitations. It works best with English names, less accurately with names derived from other cultures. It is based entirely on the consonants in a name. Vowels are ignored for the purposes of "sounds like" except insofar as they separate consonants. And because it preserves the initial letter, it may ignore first-letter sound-alikes.

Two Narberth examples: "Metzger" and "Juliani" are listed as appearing in a 1916 photo, but neither name appears in our Narberth people database. "Metzger" sounds like "Metzgar", so we find Cynthia Metzgar. Juliani sounds like "Juliano" and even "Joslyn" (it ignores vowels and the first of double consonants, so sees J L N in both). But it misses "Giuliani", which most of us would pronounce exactly the same, because it starts with a different letter.

When your search term does not turn up any matches, we automatically repeat it as a soundex search, in the hope that the suggestions must be more useful than zero results.

Soundex on Wikipedia

Soundex in the U.S. census