Museum logo

Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number HRHS-001
Collection F. Flavia Converse Collection
Object Name Manuscript
F. [Fannie] Flavia Converse was a professional genealogist whose active career spanned nearly half a century. Converse was born on May 17, 1881 to Henry A. and Margaret Baer Converse. She graduated from Fairfax Hall in Winchester and from Shenandoah Valley Business College. Never marrying, she devoted herself to her church, career and family. She was a longtime member of the Harrisonburg [First] Presbyterian Church. The correspondence she generated as a genealogist between 1917 and 1964 is a testament to her diligence, attention to detail, and professionalism. In addition to her genealogical work, she worked as a public stenographer and was a member of the Business and Professional Woman's Club. Her love of history led her to take part in a meeting on April 1, 1944, to re-establish a permanent organization of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, for which she served as recording secretary for four years. She and her sister Virginia shared a home at 50 Paul Street in Harrisonburg with their brother, Dr. Henry Converse Jr., and his family. Upon her sister's death in 1964, Flavia Converse moved to Sunnyside Presbyterian Home and died there on November 30, 1967.


Series I: Professional Papers
A. Patron Files, 1917-1964
1.Place Names
2.Patron Subsets
3.Patron Correspondence
4.HRHS Surname Files
B.Indexes to Patron Files
C.Typescript Resources
D.Published Material
Series II: Personal Papers [closed for processing]

The F. Flavia Converse Collection is divided into two major Series: Professional Papers and Personal Papers. Series I, Professional Papers, consists of correspondence, notes, and other material relating to Converse's professional genealogical research. These are subdivided further into Patron Files, Indexes to Patron Files , HRHS Surname Files, Typescript Resources, and Published Material. Series II, Personal Papers, will include anything in the collection that does not relate to Converse's professional, paid patron files. This series is currently unprocessed, and closed to researchers.

Patron Files [and HRHS Surname Files, described below]

These are perhaps the most valuable subseries in the collection. These files contain the correspondence of individuals seeking information regarding their ancestors, and Converse's reports to them regarding her findings. The folders in this subseries are filed numerically by box number and folder number. Folders for patrons who sought information about Place Names are at the beginning of this series. Directly following these are Patron Subsets, which contain requests from patrons seeking more than five family names at once. The bulk of this series is Patron Correspondence, which is arranged alphabetically by the primary family name sought, then by correspondent name. Folders are labeled with correspondent name in the left-hand corner, "Lastname, Firstname"; family name(s) sought in the center (separated by a slash if names are variant spellings and by commas if more than one family name is sought); and inclusive dates of correspondence in the right-hand corner.

In some cases, patrons had written to Converse sporadically, requesting information regarding one family in one set of correspondence, and regarding a different family in later correspondence. For some reason, Converse occasionally chose not to file them together. For example, Mrs. Maude Rankin wrote in 1933, 1941, and 1951, each time requesting information regarding a different family name. Her correspondence regarding these families is in three different folders.

Material on the family name "Warren" written in 1938 comprises several folders, since Converse chose to do some sort of extensive mailing for this particular name, which resulted in several people writing to provide her with what information they had. Most of these folders contain single items.

HRHS Surname Files

These follow the same arrangement as the Patron Files and contain the same type of information. These files were found dispersed in the Surname Files of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society. It is believed that some of Converse's papers may have been donated years ago, and were filed in various general surname files rather than kept together as a distinct collection. Whenever HRHS staff members encounter these, they will be added to this subseries of Converse's collection.

Indexes to Patron Files

These consist of typed or, in some cases, handwritten indexes used by Converse to organize her patron correspondence files. These indexes are particularly valuable since portions of the collection may be missing, and the indexes might provide information that is not extant in the Patron Files. These indexes often include the date of the patron's initial query, the surnames sought, the name and address of the patron requesting the information, and details about the type of information the patron is seeking. They are also valuable because they help provide researchers with a sense of how Converse functioned as a professional genealogist for over fifty years. The names of her indexes often reflected the physical structures in which they were housed, which provide a mental picture of how her office may have been organized.

Typescript Resources

This includes typed material that Converse or others compiled for quick reference. This also includes abstracts of published works.

Published Material

This consists of two books and four magazines. One book, Indexes to the Virginia and West Virginia Reports: by Henry A. Converse, Esq., contains a lengthy memoir of Flavia Converse's father, Henry A. Converse, by his brother James B. Converse. This book should be handled with care. The other book, The Handbook of American Genealogy, (vol. III, 1937) may be useful as a reference source. Four issues of The Phonographic Magazine (1906-1907), contain information about shorthand and its business uses. Considering that Converse frequently used shorthand, these magazines, along with other indexes and "keys" in the collection, might provide the researcher clues for deciphering Converse's notes within the Patron Files and Surname Files.


Series I: Professional Papers

Boxes 1-9: Patron Files and HRHS Surname Files (including Place Names, Patron Subsets, Patron Correspondence)
*for detailed inventory of Boxes 1-9, see printout from Database of Professional Papers Patron Files and HRHS Surname Files [attached]

Box 10: Indexes to Patron Files:
Folder 1:Hobart Cabinet 4th Division File1917-1940
Folder 2:Small Circular File1918-1933
Folder 3:Corrian 2nd Division File1918-1948
Folder 4:Corrian 3rd Division File1918-1950
Folder 5:Corrian Bottom Division File1920-1930
Folder 6:Silver File1920-1930
Folder 7:Gold File1922-1936
Folder 8:Transfer File1923-1949
Folder 9:Big Eagle File1930-1936
Folder 10:Large Circular File1930-1936
Folder 11:Corrian Top Division File1931-1947
Folder 12:Crescent File1933-1935
Folder 13:Orange Letter File1933-1936
Folder 14:University File1936-1937
Folder 15:Eclipse File 11937-1938
Folder 16:Eclipse File 31939-1941
Folder 17:Eclipse file 21940-1941
Folder 18:Globe-Vernicke File1946-1954
Folder 19:Closed File1946-1954
Folder 20:Jarinco File1948-1950
Folder 21:Spare Time File1948-1956
Folder 22:Eclipse File C-11949-1950
Folder 23:Bear Lock Fast File1949-1950
Folder 24:Nicholas File1952-1955
Folder 25:Genealogical Work Pending1961-1962
Folder 26:Unspecified 11940s-1950s
Folder 27:Unspecified 21940 and n.d.
Folder 28:Shorthand Symbol Key to Last Namesn.d.
Folder 29:Shorthand Symbol Key to Last Namesn.d.
Typescript Resources:
Folder 30:Extracts from Rev. Edgar Woods' History of Albemarle County, Virginia
Folder 31:Extracts from Oren F. Morton's Centennial History of Alleghany County
Folder 32:Extracts from Waddell's "...Augusta County...1726-1871"
Folder 33:Lists from "Marriage Bonds of Bedford County, Virginia, 1755-1800"
Folder 34:Extracts of "A History of Caroline County...1727 to 1924." (pp.2-31)
Folder 35:"...Notes on Culpeper County, Virginia...1900"
Folder 36:1790 Virginia Census - Frederick County, 1782
Folder 37:Extracts from "A History of Henry County, Virginia," 1925
Folder 38:Extracts from "A Brief of Wills and Marriages in Montgomery
and Fincastle Counties, Virginia, 1773-1831"
Folder 39:Abstract of North Carolina wills...1760-1800
Folder 40:Record of Tombstone Inscriptions, Old Mennonite Cemetery...Pennsylvania
Folder 41:1790 Virginia Census - Rockingham County, 1784
Folder 42:Heads of families and male members thereof...Rockingham County...1788
Folder 43:Extracts from Wayland's "A History of Rockingham County, Virginia"
Folder 44:Muster Rolls of Rockingham Soldiers...1774
Folder 45:Obituaries from the Rockingham Register, 1870, 1871, 1878
Folder 46:Abstracts from Wayland's Shenandoah County History
Folder 47:Extracts from Wayland's Shenandoah County History
Folder 48:1790 Virginia Census - Shenandoah County, 1783
Folder 49:1790 Virginia Census - Shenandoah County, 1785
Folder 50:Marriage Bonds, Shenandoah County, 1772-1853 (pp.1-100)
Folder 51:Marriage Bonds, Shenandoah County, 1772-1853 (pp.101-200)
Folder 52:Marriage Bonds, Shenandoah County, 1772-1853 (pp.201-325)
Folder 53:Marriage Bonds, Shenandoah County, 1772-1853 (pp.326-423)
Folder 54:Extract from "Over the Mountain Men - Their Early Court Records
in Southwest Virginia"
Folder 55:Borrowed from "Lists of Swiss Emigrants...Zurich, 1734-1744"
Folder 56:Abstracts from Tenth Legion Tithables 1930
Folder 57:Copied from pp.354-370 of Virginia Magazine of History and Biography,
April 1895
Published Material:
Folder 58:The Handbook of American Genealogy. Frederick Adams Virkus, ed. (Chicago: The Institute of American Genealogy, 1937). Vol. III.
Folder 59:Indexes to the Virginia and West Virginia Reports: by Henry A. Converse, Esq. Howard R. Baine, ed. (Richmond, Va.: West, Johnston & Co., 1881).
Folder 60:The Phonographic Magazine. Jerome B. Howard, ed. (Cincinnati: The Phonographic Institute Company). Issues for: April, May, August 1906; September 1907.
Title Series I: Professional Papers
Series II: Personal Papers [closed for processing]
Containers Box 1-9
Box 10