Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy, and Fun New Year.  May only good things happen to you in 2014!


Monday, December 23, 2013

SCGS 2014 Webinar series

Hi all!

The Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) has announced its 2014 lineup for their webinar series. All the programs are free, and are featured on a monthly basis. Most of the programs are on Wednesdays at 6 pm (PST) while some are on Saturdays (10 am, PST), and run for about 90 minutes. All that is asked of you is to register ahead of time, so SCGS can send you the internet link for you to use to get into the webinar.  Your computer's speakers are obviously needed, but the webcam and microphone not required. Instead, there is a dialogue box for attendees to type in their questions, and a moderator to pose the questions to the speaker.

The series is great for beginner genealogists, or anyone needing a refresher course.

The link below will take you to the webinar page, with the list of webinars and speakers scheduled.

I also wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, a wonderful Kwanzaa, and a Happy, Healthy New Year.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Philomena (the movie)

I recently viewed a movie called Philomena. The movie begins with Philomena, now in her seventies, enlisting the help of noted journalist Martin Sixsmith to help find her son. Partly told in flashback, Philomena, who gave birth to a son in a Catholic convent in the 1950's in Ireland, could do nothing to stop the nuns from adopting her toddler son out to a wealthy, Catholic, American couple. She would spend five decades looking for him, in the hopes that he had lived a good life. And yes, she does find her son--with unexpected results.

The movie is based on the book Martin wrote, "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee".  The story is reminiscent of many young women--not just young, teenaged Irish women--who were forced to place their young children up for adoption with no options of keeping the children and who have always wondered what had become of their children. 

As genealogists, we sometimes meet these women, now older, wanting to find their children.  We also meet the children--now adults--wanting to know about their biological parents. In fact, I have a client whose half-sister wants to know about her biological father. Fortunately, I was able to "find" her father--now deceased--but I found a lot of information about him to answer her questions. It's not always easy to answer the questions and find the information asked for by those who have gone through the adoption process. And it can be a challenge for genealogists to find those answers.

The movie is emotional, but well done. Judi Dench does a wonderful portraying Philomena.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion

Hi all,
I know this is slightly off-topic from the genealogical realm, but there is just a little genealogy involved. Okay, it maybe is a stretch from my imagination, but delightful nonetheless.
I just finished reading The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion, by Fannie Flagg. It's a lovely story about a 50-something year old woman, Sookie, who receives a mysterious phone call and a registered letter that changes her life, her perspective and the truth of her family history. It took me by surprise on this Veteran's Day that part of the story involves female training pilots during World War II.
Fannie Flagg is best known for being an actress and the author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, one of my favorite novels.  She has written a number of books of the years with a common theme--women who re-discover themselves and re-imagine themselves.
Until later,

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

APG Professional Management Conference (PMC) and SLIG

Hi all,
 It's been a very busy few weeks since my last post in September. In addition to my genealogy work, I also teach Political Science at two local community colleges. One of those colleges--Pierce College in Woodland Hills, CA--has kept me super busy with extra-curricular activities. I have to stop just to catch my breath!! :)

More importantly, and from the genealogy world we love to live in, is today's announcement that the APG's Professional Management Conference (PMC). This conference typically tags onto an already-existing conference. In this case, it's attached to the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) program in January 2014.  The PMC is a two-day program, January 10-11, at the Salt Lake City Radisson Hotel. It's ideal for those who are already professional genealogists looking to upgrade their business skills. I've included the announcement I just received from Angela McGhie.

For additional information and registration, go to the APG website at: http://www.apgen.org/conferences/#program

Even though I have yet to attend PMC, I still recommend attending--and especially for anyone already planning to attend the SLIG program. Registration for SLIG began back in June, and yours truly is already going! I'm taking Tom Jones' track on Advanced Methodology.  If you are interested, here's the link: http://www.infouga.org/. Registration for SLIG ends this month.

Breathless yet still breathing...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS)--New Certificate Program

Recently the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS) announced the development of a new certificate program, the Professional Development Certificate. The certificate program will be overseen by Gina Philibert-Ortega, a noted genealogist, author, lecturer, with specialties in using social media in genealogy and researching women through genealogy, in addition to being one of the NIGS's many instructors.

Among the courses offered in this new certificate include Transcribing, Abstracting, & Extracting; Career Development: Choosing a Niche; Creating Programs for Adults & the Younger Generation; Organizing a One Name Study; Lecturing; Forensic Genealogy; Genealogy and Copyright; Palaeography;  Document Analysis; DNA; Marketing; House and Farm Histories and One Place Studies.

More information about the program can be found here: http://www.genealogicalstudies.com/pdc.pdf

More information about the NIGS can be found here: http://www.genealogicalstudies.com/  All courses offered by the NIGS are 100% online courses.

On my own personal note: I am currently taking the Transcribing, Abstracting, & Extracting course, that's listed above. It is a challenge reading some of the handwriting in the documents that the course requires students to transcribe. Still, I find that practicing our skills via courses and workshops--no matter how long we have been researching our ancestors--is good exercise for us, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chris O'Donnell & Who Do You Think You Are?

Did you watch the latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, featuring actor Chris O'Donnell? This episode was quite good. Chris learned that two of his grandfathers--one great-great grandfather and one great-great-great-great grandfather--served in the military. (I hope I counted the generations correctly!) One served in the Spanish-America War, in 1846, the other served in the War of 1812.

One of the highlights of the episode is that they took the time to explain--albeit briefly--the significance of these two wars in American history. The Spanish-American War occurred because the United States had a domestic policy of Manifest Destiny, a policy of stretching the America's western border all the way to the Pacific Ocean. In order to achieve that, the United States needed to grab the land that is now known as the states of Texas (western part), New Mexico, Arizona, southern parts of Colorado, Utah and Nevada, and the whole southern half of California.  This territory is also commonly known as the desert southwest. And, yes, the United States won.

The War of 1812 occurred because of ongoing tensions between England and the United States, some of which reached back to the American Revolution. Some of the tensions were connected to the fact that the  United States had trade relations with France, who had ongoing tensions (and wars) with England.  In fact, from 1792 onward, France and England were already at war with one another.  Ultimately, the War of 1812 led to the resolution of these tensions between England and the United States.

Why do I think it was a highlight when they described these two wars? As genealogists and family historians, we know how important it is to research the world in which our ancestors lived. Such events had an impact on how our ancestors lived their lives. They were, in fact, eyewitnesses to our social, political, economic, and military history. They are the storytellers!

I was also glad to see a mention of Fold3, a relatively new website (newer than Ancestry.com) that focuses primarily on military service records. It's amazing how much they have in their website.  I highly recommend that you visit Fold3 and check out the military history of your ancestors!  The website is at www.fold3.com. There are stories to be told!!

Until next time.... :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pro Gen Study Group

This Sunday afternoon I participated in the final chat of my Pro Gen Study Group. For the last 19 months--since February 2012--I have been a member of the Pro Gen 15 group. I was in the Sunday group (there are two other Pro Gen 15 groups--a Monday and a Tuesday group). It has been a most worthwhile endeavor on my part.

The focus of the study group involved reading the book Professional Genealogy, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. It's a collection of 29 chapters written by various professionals, including Elizabeth herself. Each chapter focused on all things that matter to professionals--writing effective source citations, writing client reports, creating a marketing plan, a business plan, and a mission statement. And, yes, considering publishing and lecturing opportunities.

In addition to discussing the content of the chapters in a monthly, one-hour chat room, there is the dreaded (!) writing assignment. Every month we had to write and submit an assignment. Some of the topics included a mission statement, business plan, marketing plan, client reports, sourced citations, and family reports, and all based on the reading assignments. Some assignments are easier than others, and some were quite demanding of one's talents.  The tough part is that each member had to critique one another's submissions. Yes, critique--and we weren't allowed to just say "good job".  We could say "good job"(and we often did), but then add the constructive criticism. It felt brutal at times! Even so, I appreciated the focus and the discipline required of me.

Do I recommend the program? Unequivocally yes! Yes, there is a 19-month commitment. Several hours a month to complete the writing assignment and to read and critique the other assignments. It does cost $95 US dollars, plus the cost of the book, Professional Genealogy (I found a decent price on Amazon at about $50 US dollars, and I hear an update is in the works).  Is there a payoff at the end? Yes, I do feel strengthened and better prepared to enter the professional ranks.

The only criticism I have of the program is the chat room experience.  The chat room experience is old-fashioned--just a dialogue box to type in your part of the conversation, with no web-cam and no microphone. No chance to have a real face-to-face conversation that is now available via online software programming.  Even so, we worked around that by meeting up at the various conferences we were (and still are) attending. 

If you are interested, here's the link to the website: http://progenstudy.org/.  Yes, there are many education programs out there--above and beyond the worthwhile conferences and institutes--to choose from. But this is the only one focusing on the professional aspects of being a genealogist.

Until next time....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Who do you think you are? With Update!

Tonight's the night that "Who Do You Think You Are?" returns to television, on the TLC network. According to the ads, tonight's celebrity focus is Kelly Clarkson, the first winner (in 2002) of the "American Idol" singing contest television show. She's one of the few Idol winners who have truly succeeded in the music industry--she has sold millions of records and earned numerous industry awards. She's quite the success story.

I wonder how many singers/entertainers will be found amongst her ancestors? I'll be watching!!

Who watched the show last night? What did you think? I found it interesting that Kelly only focused on her 3rd great-grandfather on her mother's side--and her mom had already started the research!! Yea, Mom!

Even though Kelly didn't find any musical ancestors, she did learn a bit of American history--her ancestor had served in the Civil War, spent time in one of more notorious POW camps (remember the photo of the starving man?), escaped, and later entered into politics as a state senator. What an interesting life! This is one of the reasons why I love genealogy--the research isn't just about our ancestors, it's about our social and political history as a nation. It's a great way to get re-acquainted with our American history.

Looking forward to the next episode...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Who Do You Think You Are?

The word is out now--the fairly popular television show "Who Do You Think You Are?" is returning to the airwaves on Tuesday, July 23rd on the TLC network.  Like the Ancestry.com commercials, the show has inspired a lot of people to think about--and talk about--their family history. Using celebrities as subjects, the show "researches" their family history and tells the celebrities the compelling stories that we all yearn to find in our own ancestry. The show even has the celebrities "start" the research by using Ancestry.com.

Don't get me wrong--I use Ancestry.com as one of many tools for my own research, and for my clients.  But we genealogists know that Ancestry.com is not the only tool to use.  And, we all know that the show utilizes professional archivists, librarians, and genealogists who spend many weeks and even months--off camera--to do the real research. Unfortunately, the show never tells its audience how long it does take to find our ancestors and their stories. I wish they would make that disclaimer.

Even so, I do like the show. Yes, I admit it. And it's on my calendar to watch. I'm in it for the fun of it all.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Writings of our Founding Fathers

As genealogists, we all know how important it is to find the writings of our ancestors--whether they be personal letters, diaries, published essays and so on.  Now imagine one of those ancestors--and their writings--had a national and even revolutionary impact in their lifetimes and on history. And imagine the personal, social, and intimate insights that we learn from our ancestors.

Thanks to Dick Eastman, I've learned of a relatively new website called "Founders Online".   It's a treasure trove of great documents written by the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton and many others. You may of heard of these guys--the ones who wrote the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and staged a little revolution way back when.  

Founders Online, at http://founders.archives.gov/, has digitalized more than 119,000 documents and letters written by our Founding Fathers. Yes, more than 119,000. More than 30,000 attributed just to George Washington. Yes, 30,000 and then some!! Is there enough time to read them all? Sadly, no, unless you are incredibly obsessive and determined. :)

There is just one woman I've found in the site: Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams--and it's not just her letters to John Adams that are included.  She was a prolific writer of letters throughout her lifetime, expressing her attitudes that range from running the family farm to expressing opinions about the revolution and politics.  Even though she did not have the equivalent of a high school education, she read and edited her husband's legal briefs before he submitted them to court. And she wisely foretold of a women's revolution, should the men refuse to consider women's rights and role in the new democracy. Her letters alone provide wonderful insights of an 18th century woman.

 So, if you're in the mood to extend the 4th of July holiday, or just interested in American history, check out the site: http://founders.archives.gov/.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Jamboree 2013

This weekend is the 44th annual Jamboree genealogical conference in Burbank, California. It's hosted by the Southern California Genealogical Society. Several notable speakers are on board--Judy Russell, John Phillip Colletta, Lisa Louise Cooke (Genealogy Gems podcast), Lisa Alzo, Cyndi Ingle Howells (Cyndi's List), Thomas MacEntee, and many more.

What I love about the Jamboree is two-fold: first, it's close to home.  Located in the city of Burbank, and surrounded by the city of Los Angeles, it's close to home for me. That means no airfare, no hotel stays needed. Just a twenty minute drive from home. Secondly, I hooked up with six of my fellow colleagues from the Pro Gen study group for lunch on Friday. One of the ladies is already a graduate  (from the Pro Gen 8 group), two of us are from the Pro Gen 15, one from Pro Gen 16 and one from Pro Gen 19.  The other two are budding genealogists. Even though most of us had only met for the first time today and we are from different study groups, it felt like lunch with long-time friends. What a great feeling.

I know I've mention the Pro Gen group before in previous blogs, but I cannot praise enough the experience I've had.  It's a  serious 19-month commitment, but it's worth it. Here's the link to the home page: http://progenstudy.org/

Back to the Jamboree: if you can make it for the Saturday and Sunday sessions, here's the website: http://genealogyjamboree.org/.  If not, maybe I'll see you next year?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

SLIG registration

Registration of the 2014 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) is opened just over an hour ago. One of the course tracks--Advanced Genealogical Methods (track #9)--is already sold out!  It was rumored that this course would sell out in 10 minutes, and the rumor came true.  Yours truly signed in at the top of the hour (9 am, mountain time) and succeeded in enrolling in the track.  There is a waiting list for the track, and I suspect that the waiting list will also fill quickly. In fact, as of 10:20 mountain time, J. Mark Lowe's class has only 4 seats left.

However, there are other tracks still wide open and all are recommended. What makes SLIG so great is the organizers--the Utah Genealogical Association--do bring in the top talent in the genealogy world. Among the stellar speakers include Thomas Jones (he's track 9!), Paula Stuart-Warren, J. Mark Lowe, Richard and Pamela Sayre, John Phillip Colletta, Kory Meyerink, Kimberly Powell, Angela McGhie and Elissa Scalise Powell.

More information can be found at the Utah Genealogical Association's website, at  http://www.infouga.org/cpage.php?pt=42

Have a great weekend!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

NGS Conference Recap

It's been a week since I came home from the well-organized National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference. Four days of great workshops--five for those who arrived a day ahead to participate in the field trips. Although I didn't do any of the field trips, I did hear some positive responses about them. The trips included visits to the Hoover Dam, Ethel M Chocolate company, the the Clark County Museum. The curator of the Clark County museum is a pretty famous guy--Mark Hall-Patton--better known as "the museum guy" on the television show "Pawn Stars". Mark was the featured speaker at the NGS banquet on Friday night.

Other well-known speakers included Warren Bittner, Lisa Louise Cooke (of Genealogy Gems Podcast), Jay Fonkert, Harold Henderson, Ronald Hill, Thomas W. Jones, Mark Lowe, Kory Meyernick, Elissa Powell, Megan Smolenyak, and Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Many of you know of Elisabeth Shown Mills' website "Historic Pathways" and her seminal works on evidence citation, including "Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace". It's a must-have for all serious genealogists, especially if you are writing client reports and writing articles for journal publication.

But the "hot" book to buy at the conference is written by Thomas W. Jones, entitled "Mastering Genealogical Proof". The line just to buy the book wrapped around the already-large NGS booth. Additional lines grew each time he appeared to autograph the book. A few attendees won a copy of the book via the many raffles that occurred.  Alas, I was not a raffle winner, but I bought the book anyway.  It's a great reference for those writing proof arguments for journal publications, but it is also useful if you are studying in a genealogy course and need to learn to write proof arguments.

I hear that next year's NGS conference will be in Virginia.  In the meantime, I'll be attending the Southern California Genealogy Society's (SCGS) Jamboree conference in June. By the way--for those of you interested--the SLIG conference (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy) opens their registration on June 1st. Their program takes place in January in Salt Lake City, and located within walking distance of the Family History Center library. Registrations are quite limited, and tracks fill up fast. My calendar is marked--is yours?
SLIG information can be found at http://www.infouga.org/cpage.php?pt=42

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS; www.fgs.org) has their conference in August. I won't be able to go--but it will take place in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Why Fort Wayne? Because Fort Wayne is home to the Allen County Public Library, the second-largest genealogy library, and second only to the Family History Library in Salt Lake. Worthy of trip, with or without the conference, from what I hear. The library itself is on my to-visit list. My grandmother, her parents and grandparents all lived in Indiana, so I'm hoping to visit the state soon. It's part of my "dream" genealogy trip--to travel to Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin to visit the ancestors. Now if I only find the money......

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Back from the NGS

I just spent the last few days in Las Vegas--but not to gamble!  I attended my first NGS (National Genealogical Society) annual Family History Conference, and it was worth every penny spent. One of the many highlights was meeting with fellow Pro Gen members at the Pro Gen breakfast. For those who haven't heard of Pro Gen, it is a study group program that has been around for a number of years. I had the pleasure of meeting Terri O'Connell, Patricia Stenard, and Brenda Wheeler. Terri, Patricia, and I are in the Pro Gen 15 group. Patricia and I have met before, since we both live in Los Angeles. Terri is just as I imagined--a down-to-earth friend with a fabulous sense of humor and fun. Meeting Brenda was a special treat for me. She was my mentor/consultant when I working on my American Certificate program at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS). She is also the one who encouraged me to sign up for Pro Gen 18 months ago, to which she serves as a mentor to our entire Pro Gen 15 group. Here's the cool part--she and her husband flew in from their home in Queensland, Australia to attend her first NGS conference. Yes, Brenda is an amazing Aussie!!

By the way--the Pro Gen program is an entirely on-line program. Each group (#22 is just getting started!) meets once a month to chat for one hour. In between, the group reads chapters from the book "Professional Genealogy", compiled by Elizabeth Shown Mills.  The major element is that each member submits a writing assignment that is critiqued by the other members of the study group. It runs for 19 months, and each member is challenged to be the better genealogist. I highly recommend the program. For additional information, go to the website: http://progenstudy.org/.

Another highlight occurred at the NGS banquet on Friday night. The guest speaker was Mark Hall-Patton, better known as the Amish hat wearing, museum guy from the TV show "Pawn Stars".  He delighted the audience with his stories from the show. According to Mark, the Old Man is really a lovable grouch, Rick is the brains behind the show, and Chumlee is not that dumb--he'll just never qualify for MENSA.

For my last highlight, I want to share something from the Family Search luncheon speaker, Dan Poffenberger.  Yes, Poffenberger! BTW, Family Search is the website run by the LDS (Mormon) Church, and one of the most popular genealogy websites around. Dan spoke of his grandmother's family.  And it's complicated! Her mother married young, had her first child. Then her husband died, under still-unexplained circumstances. She married again, had another child. Husband #2 died from still-unexplained circumstances. She married again, had another child. Husband #3 is killed by the enraged husband of a neighbor. This is all before she turned 23. 

She married a fourth time--to a man that already had 3 children from his previous children. So, that's 6 children so far, right? With this husband, she had 5  more children, including Dan's grandmother. One of the daughters, suffering from a lack of normal growth, appeared in the movie, the Wizard of Oz as one of the Munchkins. She would eventually grow to about 4'10".  So, now she's up to 11 children. And then she dies from a bug bite! (The needed penicillin wasn't around). So, the husband is now raising 11 children--and marries a women with three children of her own from her previous marriage. That's now 14, and they're not done. This couple would have three more children, before the husband dies. So, now, the most recent bride is now in charge of 17 children! Talk about a mixed, blended family!  Makes the Brady Bunch pale by comparison. Some of the younger children spent several years in an orphanage, because the Mom couldn't care for so many children, especially during the 1920's and 30's. Dan's grandmother was one who spent time in the orphanage. Can you imagine how that family celebrated Mother's Day? Father's Day!

Next time--genealogy things I learned at the conference.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cemetery Week

Well, it's been a cemetery week for me. No, I did not attend any funerals! I decided I was long overdue to visit some of my ancestors buried in and around the San Fernando Valley (suburb of Los Angeles), where I just happen to live. The first visit was to Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. This particular cemetery is well-known as the final resting place for many legendary performers: pop legend Michael Jackson, the Andrews Sisters, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis, Jr., Walt Disney, L. Frank Baum (author of "The Wizard of Oz"), Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, and Elizabeth Taylor, to name a few.  But my attention was for my great-great aunt, Lillian Schmidt and her second husband, Emil Goetschel. Lillian is the younger sister of my great grandmother, Annie Schmidt Hendel . Although I had the chance to spend time with Grandma Annie as a young girl back in the 60's, I never had the chance to meet Lillian, even though she lived several decades here in the L.A. area. What struck me the most is that Lillian died in 1990, several years after I began my genealogical research. I can only imagine the conversations we could have had.

My second stop was to Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood to see my great-grandfather Shirley L. Gates.  Yes, his name is Shirley. Seriously!  Shirley is buried with his wife Florence (Kinne) Gates. Again, I re-discovered that Florence and I could have met--she died in 1976, when I was a teenager. Next to Florence is her mother, my great-great grandmother, Jennie Mae Kinne. Jennie is the oldest of my ancestors buried locally.  What also saddens me about not meeting Lillian and Florence is that they are my father's great-aunt and grandmother, respectfully. It makes me wonder why that side of the family did not have any family reunions or simple get-togethers. At least Grandma Annie (sometimes with her daughter Bea) would occasionally fly in from Minnesota to visit. How sad!

My third trip was to San Fernando Mission Cemetery, in Mission Hills. Like Forest Lawn, this cemetery is known as a resting place for a few celebrities--comedian Bob Hope, 1950's singer Richie Valens, and actor William Frawley (Fred Mertz from "I Love Lucy"). But, this time I was visiting members from my mom's side of the family. I took some time to be at my mom's gravesite, her parents, Dutch and Helen Wombacher, and three of Helen's siblings--Bernardine, Paul, and Uncle Bob. This time, I left a single red rose for the ladies.

My fourth and fifth cemetery trips were not for me.  A few months ago, I decided to volunteer for Find-a-Grave.com, a website focusing on posting online burial plot information. The website makes it quite easy to post written information about our deceased ancestors, and to post photos of grave-markers as well.  The job of volunteers is to photograph grave-markers for those who are unable to visit and record the information for themselves.

My fourth cemetery was Oakwood Memorial, set against the rustic, oak tree-filled mountains in Chatsworth.  Legendary dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are resting in this cemetery.  The rustic, oak tree surroundings really set this cemetery apart from the others in the L.A. area.  The fifth and last cemetery was Eden Memorial Park, a Jewish cemetery right up the street from San Fernando Mission Cemetery.  Eden Memorial is the final resting place for comedians Groucho Marx and Lenny Bruce, actor Howard Caine (most famous role was a Gestapo officer in "Hogan's Heroes"), and Dan Curtis, producer of the 1960's gothic soap opera "Dark Shadows".

I know the idea of visiting cemeteries, especially to take photos, sounds macabre, but I don't wholly agree with that sentiment. As a genealogist, burial information can be very important in the research process--especially in the absence of death certificates and obituaries. And, so far, my experiences with the cemetery staff has been stellar. Without their help, I would not have found the burial plots I needed to find. So, a special thanks to the staff of these five cemeteries.

Now onto the NGS conference!! In Las Vegas!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Misspelled Words

One of my favorite bloggers is Dick Eastman, of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. For those who already know, he is one of the more prolific bloggers, with as many as 3-4 blog postings per week. Each posting has several articles attached. He offers a wide variety of topics in his newsletter.  In one of his most recent postings, he included an article about the most often-misspelled genealogy words. I love this article, and thought you would enjoy it too!

Here's the link:


Who Will Own Your Genes?

Hi all,
In today's online edition of the New Yorker, there is an article by Micheal Spector entitled "Who Will Own Your Genes?", questioning whether or not human genes ought to be patented. In fact, some genes have already been patented.

With all of the excitement of using DNA in genealogy to prove ancestral connections, I can't help wonder at what point will it all intersect, if at all.  Of course, this article does not address genealogical research of any kind.  It does, however, address the issue of how genetic patents could impact medical research, and therefore, how we humans could recieve medical care in the future.

And to all of you: what are your thoughts? What impact do you think patenting genetics will have on medical care in the future? How, if possible, will patented genes have an impact on the genealogical research we do, via connecting to our ancestors through DNA?

So here's the article:

Have a great Sunday!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Report from SLIG

Hi all,
It's been a while since my last post. I'm now recovered from that miserable cold and cough that's been going around. I never thought I'd be coughing up a storm for a whole month! The good news is that I'm now past that. :)

The last time I posted I was heading to Salt Lake City for the Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy (SLIG) conference, hosted by the Utah Genealogy Association. Wow, what a conference!! The UGA really knows how to do a great conference. I participated in the German track--"Germany: Advanced Tools and Methods". Our primary instructor was.....Warren Bittner! Yes, that Warren Bittner who is so well known in our genealogy world. It was an incredible experience working with him for a whole week. Also on board were Baerbel Johnson who gave us many internet websites to search through, Roger Minert talking about surname and township names, Heidi Sugden talking about Austrian research, and Marek Koblanski on Polish research.

More about Roger Minert--many of you may already know his many worthwhile publications. One of my favorites is his "Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents". It's highly useful in reading the handwriting, but also helpful in reading Gothic Script. It's helped me get through the Gothic Script found in the Meyers-Ort Gazetteer.  Roger is also known for a series of books under the title of "Place Name Indexes", with each edition covering the different regions of Germany. He is also the co-author of "The German Research Companion". His co-authors are Shirley Riener and Jennifer Anderson. Shirley was one of my classmates in the German track.  She is a very down-to-earth and knowledable person. Both she and Roger were kind enough to autograph my copy of the book.  By the way--that book is in its 3rd edition.

Some of you may be familiar with Roger and Shirley's other book--"Researching in Germany: a Handbook for Your Visit to the Homeland of Your Ancestors".  Those of you who know the book recognize that parts of the book seem a bit dated now, right?  Well, folks, here's the good news: a new edition is forthcoming!! It's scheduled to be released in April of this year.  I had a chance to pre-order it at the SLIG conference. If you are planning a trip to Germany in the new future, you will want this new edition.  Both books--"the German Research Companion" and "Researching in Germany"--are available through Lorelei Press.

Now back to SLIG. The next SLIG conference is next January 13-17, 2014, at the Radisson hotel in Salt Lake City. The hotel is very nice, and about a 10-12 minute walk to the Family History Library. The line-up of tracks, so far, includes:

1. American Research and Records: Focus on Families, Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FUGA
2. New York Research, Karen Mauer Green, CG
3. Research in the South, J. Mark Lowe, CG
4. Scottish Research, Carolyn Barkley, MLS
5. Advanced Research Tools: Land Records, Richard G. Sayre, CG, Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG,     
6. Comprehensive Photo Detecting, Maureen Taylor, MA
7. Producing a Quality Family Narrative, John Philip Colletta Ph.D., FUGA
8. Researching in Eastern Europe, Kory Meyerink, AG
9. Advanced Genealogical Methods, Thomas Jones Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
10. Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum, Angela McGhie and Kimberly Powell
11. Credentialing: Accreditation, Certification, or Both?, Apryl Cox, AG and Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL
12. Problem Solving, Judith Hansen, AG, MLS
Needless to say, I do highly recommend attending SLIG. The registration is a bit pricey ($350 for UGA members and $400 for non-members), but it's worth attending at least once. In fact, I met several people who attend every year. Of course, there are so many great conferences out there!
Hope you are having a great weekend.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

When a Genealogy Hobby Digs Up Unwanted Secrets

A lot of people research their family trees in the hopes of finding notable and famous people as ancestors. Imagine that Thomas Jefferson, William Shakespeare, or Henry VIII as your ancestors.  However, most of us don't have such notables and instead have ordinary people in our trees. Or, perhaps we have someone of some notoriety? Perhaps Jack the Ripper? Or a thief, or a bigamist?
Below is a link to a recent Wall Street Journal in which genealogists Jean Wilcox Hibben, Ron Arons and others discuss the black sheep in their family trees.

When A Genealogy Hobby Digs Up Unwanted Secrets

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Favorite Books on the Shelf

Happy New Year!
In today's blog, I thought I would share some of my favorite genealogy books that are on my bookshelf. These ones are my favorite go-to books when I need a reference. I've seen quite a few of these sold at conferences and online, and perhaps you have seen them at your local genealogy society library.  This, of course, is not an exhaustive list, but it's a good list of must-haves especially for those who just starting out as a professional genealogist.

1.      The Handybook for Genealogists; Everton Publishers: The first book I bought! I've had a few versions of this book over the years, and it's been a huge help. It's a state-by-state listing of all the state and county offices that you would contact for civil records (birth, death, marriage, divorce, probate, etc.). Includes addresses, phone numbers, and web addresses. A little tip--check the websites for each office for updated contact info especially if you have an older version of the Handybook.

2.      Google Your Family Tree, by Daniel Lynch: My sister bought me this book a couple of years ago, and it still seems to be a hot seller even with all changes that Google goes through. Naturally, Google has been a boon for genealogists. My favorite Google site is the Books section, where you may find hard-to-find journals and books.  I found quite a few references to my ancestors via Google.

3.     Carmack’s Guide to Copyright & Contracts, by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, CG: I bought this book when I enrolled in the copyright class offered by the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS). I am so glad I did! Copyright laws can be quite confusing, can't they? This book is a gem for genealogists who need some clarity for understanding the issues of copyrighting in genealogy. It doesn't replace a good lawyer when you need one, but it will make your day!

4.      Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian, by Elizabeth Shown Mills: Okay, let's face it--Elizabeth Shown Mills is the ultimate authority on citations. This version is the more simplistic, light-weight version of her more extensive (and popular) Evidence Explained.  I do like the format of this book, as an easy-to-use reference guide to source citation.

5.      Evidence Explained, by Elizabeth Shown Mills: This is THE book for citations, folks. Not only does the book explain (thoroughly!) how to cite your sources, but Mills does a great job explaining every term you need to know in source citations.  It's dense, and not a light read. It's worthy of a workshop course, similar to the ProGen workgroup (see below). A definite must-have!

6.      Professional Genealogy, by Elizabeth Shown Mills, editor: This is also a must-have in any library, especially if you're starting out as a professional genealogist.  Each chapter, written by a variety of professionals, covers all the basics you want to know about contracts, business plans, marketing plans, educational plans, and so on. It's the textbook used by the ProGen workgroups.  I'm in the ProGen 15 group, and I have learned a lot about the business side of genealogy. It's a great foundation for building your business.

7.     BCC Genealogical Standards Manual, by the Board of Certified Genealogists: For those who are yearning to earn the postnomial CG (like me), this is your guidebook. It provides the standards that the Board uses to judge every applicant. It's no easy feat to achieve, but this manual will give you a great start. 
So, what books are on your bookshelf? Please feel free to share your favorites.

Next week I'll be in Salt Lake City attending the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) conference. I'll report on that when I get back.