Talk about busy!
As soon as RootsTech ended, Daniel Horowitz and I flew to Albuquerque (New Mexico) to participate in A Taste of Honey, a community-wide education event, sponsored by MyHeritage.com.
Here we are at the MyHeritage display:
Genealogy is a popular subject here, even though there were many sessions on on completely different topics.
My presentation focused on Genealogy 101 - how to get started and, more importantly, why - while Daniel's presentation encouraged family history researchers to utilize all of MyHeritage.com's features.
If so, do you keep them? For how long?
While many people resolve to break bad habits or improve physical qualities, those don't seem to last very long.
For a better outcome, try to learn some new skills to further your family history research. One way is to access free online classes. Some may be short tutorials, others are much longer and provide useful and practical data, including step-by-step videos.
What skills, tips or advice are you looking for? Do you need help in managing paperwork or photos? Would learning how to take better photos add to your MyHeritage.com family website?
Years ago, when I was very new at the genealogy game, I believed that I could accurately remember where I had discovered every bit of family data.
And - for awhile - I actually could do that. However, as the years went by, and the numbers of people on my trees increased - and my brain cells seemed to decrease - it became impossible.
Sometimes, I would write the information on a scrap of paper. We all know what happens to a scrap of paper stuck in a bag or pocket.
At one point, I had to stop all new research and back track, almost to the beginning of my quest, to fill in all those blanks.
Fortunately, I had even saved some of those scraps of paper on which I had scribbled information while visiting archives and libraries. To preserve them, I had taped them onto regular sheets of white paper. Eventually, I transfered that data to the family tree software I used, but the scraps didn't cover all my research.
It wasn't easy to admit that I had neglected this important documentation. And it required a very long time to retrace my steps.
Since those days, I clearly - and loudly - advise beginners to document every bit of data they find.
Some have replied innocently that they'll remember - they only have a few people on their tree. Others have even asked why it's important: "The names are what we need, right?"
Although family history is becoming increasingly high-tech, there are those days when we wish we had a genie in a lamp.
After hours of fruitless searching for what seems to be a non-existent direct ancestor - although we know they MUST have existed or we wouldn't be here looking for them - it would be great to just grab that lamp, rub it a few times (depending on the version of the folktale you follow) and ask the emerging genie for help.
Genealogy conferences might feature workshops titled "The care and feeding of your genie," "Getting your genie online," or "Polishing the lamp: Keep your genie happy."
According to folklore, of course, the problem is asking the correct three wishes, and we look forward to experts presenting workshops on techniques for constructing them.
Something else to consider: Would there be a difference between asking a polite question or giving a command to "dig up" the information we need? Does the word "wish" need to be included?
"Could you please find Uncle Melvin's birthdate" might bring a very different result from commanding the genie to "I wish you would bring me Uncle Melvin."
What are the three most urgent questions that your genie could help answer?
In a move that could be a real moneymaker - and thus an incentive to provide genealogical services - for many additional countries, Ireland will begin providing Irish Heritage certificates by the end of 2010.
There are some 70 million individuals worldwide with Irish heritage, and this seems like a great way to show it. The certificate may also provide travel and tourist discounts when the certificate-holders visit Ireland.
The recently concluded Southern California Genealogical Society's 41st Jamboree presented numerous such sessions.
Sometimes there are sessions at which the proverbial lightbulb switches on. Such essential knowledge is transmitted that the participants then find it difficut to look at their own individual family histories in quite the same way as before.
All of us have family stories that might be termed myths. How can we determine whether a story may be fact or fiction?
A fascinating session on just this topic was given by Jean Wilcox Hibben. With a PhD in folkore, an MA in speech communication, and a Certified Genealogist, Jean is president of both the Corona (California) Genealogical Society and the Southern California chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild secretary and much more.
Family researchers on a quest should contact genealogical and historical societies where their ancestors lived. These groups often work on indexing projects relative to their geographical areas.
The Southern California Genealogical Society - which also sponsors a great conference each year (Jamboree) - is particularly active in this regard, publishing volumes on immigration and naturalization extracts and also working on the 1892 Great Register of Los Angeles Voters.
Another major work is a multi-year project to reconstruct the Los Angeles County portion of the 1890 United States census, lost to fire and subsequent water damage, and create a searchable database based on many types of records, such as birth, death, marriage, cemetery, tax, immigration, church, and an every-name index of the 1890 Los Angeles Times.
The SCGS has just published four new volumes in its immigration and naturalization series. Now available in both softbound and CD versions are declarations of intentions filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of California, Central District (Los Angeles).
The new volumes cover October 4, 1906-April 3, 1911, April 4, 1911-January 6, 1914, January 8, 1914-July 28, 1915, and July 28, 1915-February 3, 1916. They cover intentions numbered 1-3239.
Included in these documents - addition to name, age and address - are birthdates and places, physical description, method of immigration and port of entry.
In addition to the documents, there is an address index for indicated addresses as well as an index for birth locations indicated by the applicants.
According to one entry, from the SCGS journal "The Searcher" (Autumn 2008):
Lundstrum, Ture Edwin Intention No. 1243
Ture Edwin Lundstrom, aged 32 years, whose occupation is Carpenter, was born in Gislof, Simrishamn, Sweden on March 08, 1880. Mr. Lundstrom presently resides at 150 Colima Ave., Los Angeles, California. He departed from the port of Southampton, England on the vessel Titanic & transferre to Carpathia mid-ocean, arriving at the port of New York in the State of New York about April 18, 19132. His last foreign address was Simrishamn, Sweden.
Mr. Lunstrom's physical description: Color: White; Complexion: Fair; Height: 5'6"; Weight: 145 pounds; Hair Color: Light Brown; and Eye Color: Blue. Other distinctive mars: None. With his Declaration of Intention signed before Wm. M. Van /dyke, Clerk of the United States District Court, Southern District California by Chas, N, Williams, Deputy Clerk on February 25, 1913, Ture Edwin Lundstrom renounces his allegiance to Gustavus V, King of Sweden.
Researchers can obtain a digital or printed copy of the original record from which the abstract was taken, by contacting the society via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have ancestors who lived in Chicago, Illinois?
If so, the Newberry Library has a new resource to make research easier.
Opened in 1887, The Newberry Library, a renowned humanities research and reference institution,houses a world-class collection of books, manuscripts, maps, music, and other printed materials related to the history and culture of Western Europe and the Americas and spanning many centuries. Holdings include medieval manuscripts and early maps, as well as extensive genealogical resources. Among its collections are some 1.5 million books, 5 million manuscript pages and 500,000 historic maps.
A new interactive, map based site has been announced to help family history researchers and Chicago historians. ChicagoAncestors.org was developed by the staff of the library's Local and Family History department.
According to the library, the online map makes searching and sharing historical information easier.
"There is a huge amount of local historical information about Chicago in books and on the Internet," said Jack Simpson, co-director of the project and curator of local and family history at the Newberry Library. "We're trying to help researchers find that data by allowing them to search by proximity of a particular address or intersection."
A look at the site shows that data includes everything from historicchurch locations, neighborhood bibliographies and historic homicides, as well as many Internet resource links, including historical photos of the city.
Visitors can research the history of a Chicago address and identify relevant Library ersources, as well as educational institutions and houses of worship. You might learn where your great-grandfather went to school, or what church or synagogue your ancestors attended.
Researchers can also create a saved profile, and share their research and knowledge with relatives and other researchers of the same neighborhoods or names. And, by registering, users can add comments to points on the map or even map their own historical and genealogical information, such as tracing the various places your ancestors lived and worked in the city.
Ginger Frere, project co-director and reference librarian, says that "researchers are now contributing their own information about schools, churches and other institutions."
Interest in maps and online mapping is growing among researchers as an example of how technology is providing new tools.
I wish I had Chicago-based ancestors so it would help in my own research. Perhaps the success of the Newberry website will encourage other institutions in other cities to create similar projects.
In fact, the website's technical design was created by the Chicago Technology Cooperative, which built it on open-source software, thereby "creating a template for use by other communities for local historical mapping."
The Newberry collections are often the focus of exhibits, music and theater programs, as well as classes, lectures and other activities. If you live in or will be visiting the Chicago area, do spend some time there. See the website for address and calendar of events.
Have you visited the Newberry Library and used their resources?
Let me know - I look forward to reading your comments and questions.