30 October 2009

2010 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG)

Please share the following with your genealogy friends:

Five days of learning. Five days of discovering ways to find your ancestors. Five days of networking. Five days of techniques to break through brick walls. Five days of fun. Five days of working on your own family. Five days of making new friends.

And to top all that off, you will be near the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. SLIG classes take place in the downtown Radisson Hotel which is less than 2 blocks from the library. Heck, you don't ever have to venture out if you don't want to. Stay at the hotel and take the elevator or stairs to the classroom and to the restaurant. If you decide that you do want to visit the library (is there any doubt?) there is usually no problem walking on downtown SLC sidewalks even in winter. I am always amazed at how clean those are kept no matter the time of year. You may hear weather forecasts of big snow in the area but that is up in the mountains not down in the valleys. Traditionally, SLIG draws students from all over the United States and some from Canada. If you don't normally get to see snow in the winter months, you might be lucky enough to see a couple inches that week but it doesn't always happen.

Live locally? Take the Trax to within 1 block of the library. Don't make enough use of the library that is practically in your own backyard? This is a great opportunity to learn from instructors who are very familiar with the FHL.

Registrations made by November 16th save $25.00 off the full price. For your fee you receive all the classes in the course you choose, course materials, an orientation breakfast and the Friday night banquet. Optional evening classes and additional dinner tickets are extra. To see the full and varied list of courses click here.

I am in charge of Course I that is an intermediate level course on U.S. resources titled American Records and Research: Focusing on Families. The 2010 classes focus on topics related to researching individuals and families in the 19th-21st centuries. Sixteen informative classroom hours on significant U.S. records and strategies take you beyond basic research tools. In addition, for this course only, 6.5 hours of help in the Family History Library during the Institute week provide hands-on assistance and guidance. This totals 22.5 hours for your one fee. Time in the library will also include mini-tours and instruction on the recently expanded number of digital scanners for capturing your own images from microfilm.

7,000 books with no place to go

I just read a story about the Sequoia Genealogical Society in Tulare, California. The society owns between 5,000 - 7,000 books that have been housed in the public library in Tulare since 1976. They were recently informed that they are being "evicted" even before moving into the new city library. The space for the genealogy section had been on the drawing board for the new library. The library says it needs to serve more people. "The library now plans to use that space for a learning center, which would offer tutoring, job training and community group activities."

I wonder if the library ever did anything to promote the genealogy section that was staffed by volunteers? Click here to read the full article. The genealogy section is included on the library's website here. The website says it is "one of the largest collections of genealogical materials between Los Angeles and San Francisco."

28 October 2009

Eating lunch while learning

It's good to eat a sensible lunch and it's even better if you pack it yourself. Accompany that lunch with a historical lecture and you are feeding both mind and body. Historical societies and libraries often have noontime "Brown Bag Lectures." Yes you may need to take some extra time from your day to attend the full lecture but most run about an hour. This is a great way to gain education while eating. That lecture might even be at a place where you need to do some research. Maybe a co-worker would be willing to accompany you to the lecture (and while on the way to and from you can tell how the lecture relates to family history research). Some are free and others have a small fee. Many offer some liquid refreshments to accompany your lunch. Here are a variety of places with such lectures:

Idaho Historical Society, Boise, Idaho
The Brown Bag programs occur the second Tuesday each month from September through May from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. at the Idaho State Historical Museum.

Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska
November 19: Saving Native American Artifacts at the Museum of Nebraska History
Presenters: Tina Koeppe, NSHS Collections Technician and Jessica Waite, NSHS Conservation Technician. Learn how staff at the Museum of Nebraska History are working to save over 3000 Native American artifacts from the ravages of time.

University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi
November 16: Brown Bag Lecture/Film: 'Makin Do: Rural Women Coping with Difficult Times'
"This film captures women's lives in depression-era Union County. Topics include midwifery, birth and bartering, as well as farm and factory women. The documentary was produced by the Department of History and the Center for Media and Documentary Studies. Moderated by Elizabeth Payne, professor of history."

Birmingham Public Library
, Birmingham, Alabama
November 1: Guest Lecture and Exhibit Opening for Digging Out of the Great Depression-Federal Programs at Work

Ohio County Public Library
, Wheeling, West Virginia
December 15: A History of the Wheeling Fire Department

27 October 2009

Do you have Pillsbury family connections?

Do you have an ancestral connection to the Pillsbury family (England, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Minnesota)? If you have a bit of change lying around you might be able to bid for the Pillsbury home on Lake Minnetonka, just west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It even has a connection to the restoration of Ellis Island.

The estate, Southways, was sold out of the family in 1991. It could be that the 40,000 square foot mansion that sits on 13 acres is not large enough for you. The price has been 53.5 million dollars from the current owner but it has not sold and the next tactic is to sell it via auction. Sealed bids are due by December 9th.

The Ellis Island connection is that the current owners "commissioned New York City-based architects Beyer Blinder Belle, famous for restoring Ellis Island and Grand Central Station" to restore the mansion.

If you are the successful bidder, I am available for luncheon when you move in. According to Google Maps I can be there in 19 minutes and I am familiar with the area. There would be space for a very nice genealogy library and even for some meetings. The closest I have been to the Pillsbury family is buying a bag of their flour and doing some minimal research on them.

To read the full story click here. Photos of the house and grounds are here. Lake Minnetonka is a beautiful area.

21 October 2009

Another kind of electronic obituaries

Many years ago a notice about a funeral may have appeared somewhere in the town square, in the local post office, or the info was passed by word of mouth. Then we had printed newspaper funeral notices and obituaries. Today we also have online obituaries via newspapers and funeral home websites.

Change has come once again. A funeral home in Des Moines, Iowa is posting obituaries on billboards. Yes, you read that correctly. I had to reread the article about it.

They appear on electronic billboards and rotate with other advertising. I can see it now. Attend John Q. Smith's funeral followed by the ads for BBQ ribs, a local "gentlemen's" club, the all-you-can-eat buffet, and then one for the 10:00 news team. How did obituaries ever escape the Burma Shave style series roadside ads? That could have said --

Friday 4:00
Stop to see
John Q. Smith
Don't be late
Oaks Funeral Home

"Jessica Koth, spokeswoman for the National Funeral Directors Association in Brookfield, Wis., said it's the first time she's heard of a funeral home displaying service information on a billboard." Read the Associated Press article by clicking here.

19 October 2009

October 24th, Pittsburgh PA Seminar

My next lecture stop is the 2009 Fall Conference of the North Hills Genealogists on Saturday, October 24th at the Christ Episcopal Church, 5910 Babcock Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA 15237. Sandra MacLean Clunies, CG, CGL is also presenting at this event.

For more info check the North Hills Genealogists website. http://www.northhillsgenealogists.org/

My topics:

  • Tho’ They Were Poor, They May Have Been Rich in Records
  • Lord Preserve Us! Church Records for Family History Research
  • NUCMC & Its Cousins: Keys to "Lost" Ancestral
  • A Baker’s Dozen: Easy Ways to Begin Writing Your Family History
Sandy's topics:

  • Jump the Pond: Tracing Immigrant Families
  • Research in Washington, DC, from Home
The end of the day features a Wrap-Up Session: Panel Discussion with an opportunity to ask the speakers questions during a panel discussion moderated by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG.

CG, CGL, Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are Service Marks (SM) of the Board for Certification of Genealogists and are used under license after periodic evaluations by the Board.

18 October 2009

Home from Southern California.

I just spent four wonderful days communing with other genealogists in Southern California. I was not expecting the 90 degree temps! As I reported earlier, I spoke on Wednesday evening to the Genealogical Society of North Orange County California and yesterday presented four lectures for the South Orange County California Genealogical Society. Both groups have a very dedicated segment of volunteers. Chairs, display tables, refreshments, microphone, and the needs of the speaker were taken care of quickly and professionally. The friendliness of the folks at both meetings made it difficult to say goodbye. I was also able to spend some quality time with long-time genealogy friends and had some wonderful meals.

I answered dozens of questions from audience members and that is another part of these events that I love. Quite a few folks mentioned that they read my blog so this is a special hello to them!

If you live in the Southern California area, watch for monthly events and annual seminars sponsored by both of these societies. They do a great job of making the audiences and speaker feel comfortable.

Where am I off to next? I will be in the Pittsburgh area -- watch here for details in a day or two.

DAR guide wins prestigious award

This is a press release from the American Society of Genealogists:

FORGOTTEN PATRIOTS wins the Jacobus Award

At its meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 10 October 2009, the American Society of Genealogists voted to give their annual Donald Lines Jacobus Award to Forgotten Patriots, African American and American Indian Patriots in the Revolutionary War: A Guide to Service, Sources, and Studies edited by Eric Grundset, Director of the DAR Library in Washington, D.C., and published by the DAR in 2008. wins the Jacobus Award

Researched by Briana L. Diaz, Hollis L. Gentry, and Jean D. Strahan, as well as by the editor, this substantial reference work has a general introduction, state-by-state introductions, sources, and bibliography, an alphabetical list of names with source codes, maps, photographs, and a glossary of obscure words found in the original records. Many appendices deal with topics such as documenting the color of soldiers and using names as clues to finding them. It is not a collection of biographies but a compilation of source references for individual soldiers that will greatly improve the breadth and accuracy of research. Since Revolutionary War service is often the starting point for research on families of color, this book opens new doors in an increasingly compelling field of genealogy.

The Donald Lines Jacobus Award was established in 1972 to encourage sound scholarship in genealogical writing. It is presented to a model genealogical work published within the previous five years. A list of the books receiving the award in previous years appears on the American Society of Genealogists website (www.fasg.org). Anyone planning to publish their own research, especially as a compiled genealogy or family history, would do well to study the format and style of these books.

12 October 2009

Southern California here I come

During this week, I will be making two appearances in southern California. I look forward to meeting blog readers. It is snowing here in my part of Minnesota and I will be happy to leave it. It will melt, but it's still so early to see this much. (At least in my mind!)

Wednesday, 14 October, Yorba Linda, California
An evening presentation for the Genealogical Society of North Orange County California. The title is Research Rewards in County Courthouse and Town Hall Records. Click here for details on the society's events for Family History Month.

Saturday, 17 October, Mission Viejo, California
I will be presenting an all -day seminar Locating those Illusive Ancestors for the South Orange County California Genealogical Society. For the full flyer and registration details click here. To see my previous post with the list of the lectures click here.

09 October 2009

Equality among family history researchers

Many scenarios come to mind. When you attend a genealogy meeting and "talk genealogy" with those sitting around you, what comes to mind about the other people? Is it their home life, life style, color of their skin, political leaning, or religious affiliation? Do you consider whether they are single, married, divorced, in a relationship, gay, straight, thin, fat, tall, short, have children, or drive only a red car? I bet these things don't come to mind. Genealogy is a great equalizer.

Yes, we might be concerned about someone's genetics -- but only to see if we might have some common genealogical background that DNA testing might help out. We might be interested in their religion if they live in a particular town and attend a particular church -- but only to see if they can obtain a copy of a christening record for you.

In that conversation one person mentions that they are German and their parents came to the U.S. from Germany. Ah -- you are now interested. Parents alive? Might they be able to help you translate a document?

If we ask what side the family fought on during a specific war, we aren't asking so that we know whether to shun them, but to see what kind of knowledge about history they might be able to tell you about or where some records might be.

When visiting a library or archives, those questions in the first paragraph don't really matter when we meet the librarian or archivist. We want to know if they have knowledge of the archives' records from the Civil War or if one of them could help read two faded words on a document.

If someone says that their great grandfather was in prison, we don't move to a different chair, we ask what prison and whether they were able to find any records.

As I have said many times, wouldn't it be great if the whole world operated like this? Hate crimes, political tirades, religious persecution, and so many other things could be distant memories. It's Family History Month. How can we get the rest of the people to think like genealogists?

Among my genealogy friends (aka genealogy family) I have tall friends, short friends, gay friends, straight friends, friends who don't know how to drive, friends with silver cars, friends with no religious affiliation, friends with advanced degrees, friends who struggle to spell correctly, friends who are young, old, retired, and just about any other label. But labels sometimes hurt and in genealogy there are few of those. Equality is important for everyone.

05 October 2009

Hamm's Beer and Brewery History

Hamm's Beer -- a name synonymous with the east side of St. Paul. The St. Paul Pioneer Press ran an article a couple days ago reminding me of the long history of this St. Paul institution. I don't think that I will ever get the song from the commercial out of my mind. I figured that I might find it on You Tube and here it is!

What's the genealogy connection? There is one. Years ago I was a subcontractor on a research project that involved the genealogy of the owner of a brewery in Brooklyn, New York. That was pre- online research days. I found that the beer collecting hobbyists have produced books to assist themselves and that much historical background is found in some of those. Books exist that tell about the history of beer cans, breweries, brewers, and even breweries in a given city or area. Visit Worldcat.org and type in terms such as "brewery history," been can collector," and similar search terms. Today a lot of that info is online but the books are generally better for genealogical purposes, especially those with source bibliographies.

A guide to beer cans, their provenance, and worth might detail the owners of a specific beer brand over the years. In the one I worked on, the books detailed the owners and even listed information from land tax records as to who owned the brewery.

If your ancestor wasn't the owner or brewer, your family history could still benefit from the history of a brewery where a family member worked.

Brewery Collectibles Club of America

Buffalo Brewery History

Roslyn Brewing Company (Washington State)

American Breweriana Association

A source for purchasing many such books: http://www.beerbooks.com

02 October 2009

October is Archives Month, Family History Month, and a few other important designations

Among many other valuable and some strange designations, October is Archives Month, Family History Month, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Archives Month
Visit a local, state, national, religious, ethnic or other archive this month. Thank the archivists for taking care of historical records. Tell then you appreciate all that they do to preserve them. Acknowledge that they are generally working under stressful situations today as their budgets have been cut, hours slashed, and many other staff members are no longer employed there. Before you visit, check the archives' website to verify parking, hours, and check for an online catalog or other finding aids so you are better prepared for your visit.

Check out this interesting Blog centered on Wisconsin. I just saw this on another list I read. Lots to read about.

Family History Month
Does your genealogical or historical society have some special events or classes to celebrate family history month? Check the newsletters and websites for these organizations for notice of such activities.

This year to help celebrate October as Archives Month and Family History Month, plan some days where you drag yourself away from the computer and visit an archive and experience the joys of using original records. Nothing compares to holding an actual deed, will, or tax record in your hands or reading an old diary.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month
While you are thinking about all that, be sure that you do monthly self-exams and make sure you are up-to-date on mammograms or ask that question of the women in your life. I can still remember my mother sitting in my living room in the early 1970s and saying" by the way, I am going to the hospital for a mastectomy tomorrow." Early detection is important.

Historic Bridges

A website for just about anything. That's the way it is in today's world. If you love historic bridges you might want to check this website, Historic Bridges of the United States. The website states, "This is a database of 32,527 historic bridges in the United States of America, past and present."

The pictures for some of the bridges are beautiful, but many more bridges are listed than have images. The site has instructions for providing pictures of bridges. The "News" section is interesting. Links on the right hand side of the website allow you to check by state, type of bridge, condition, and other categories including those on the Nation Register of Historic Places.

Of course I had to check Madison County, Iowa because of the Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood movie, The Bridges of Madison County. Coincidentally, the movie is on a cable channel as I type this. I just checked on the date of this movie at imdb.com and found that it is a 1995 movie. That's 14 years ago. My does time fly.

You might be able to find details and a picture of a bridge that was in the town where great granny lived.