27 January 2010

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 65 years ago today, the Soviet Army liberated the Jewish prisoners who remained at Auschwitz-Berkenau which combined were the largest of the Holocaust death camps.

A CBS news story gives details of the elderly survivors who revisited the camps today. That story said "By the end of World War II, at least 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, but also non-Jewish Poles, Gypsies and others, had died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau or from starvation, disease and forced labor. Some 6 million Jews overall were killed in the Holocaust." This makes me shudder. I grew up in a St. Paul neighborhood that was home to many Jewish families. One of my high school and college jobs was in a clothing store owned by a Jewish family. Today, my interest in family history makes me wonder how many of those friends and neighbors suffered the loss of family members in the horrific camps.

I read another news story today -- about the desecration of tombstones in a Jewish cemetery in France. How sad at anytime, but today it seems especially cruel.

NGS Conference discount registration deadline

This year's NGS Conference is being held in Salt Lake City and has lots of wonderful elements for all family historians. If you register for the conference (28 April - 1 May, 2010) by March 8th you save $35.00 off both the NGS member and non-member registration fee. Click here to see the full conference program, special events, travel and lodging info, and many other neat details. The local host is the Utah Genealogical Association.

Plan some extra time before or after the conference to visit the Family History Library and put to use all your new learning. During the NGS Conference week, the FHL will be open these hours:

Family History Library NGS Conference Week Hours
Sunday: Closed
Monday: 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Tuesday - Thursday  8:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. [Three nights of late hours!]
Friday - Saturday: 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.

26 January 2010

When is the last time you checked these U.S. resources?

 When was the last time you rechecked these resources? I am guessing that there may have been some catalog, digitization, index, or finding aid changes since that last check. I just checked some of these for my own U.S. ancestral locations and found some wonderful things I want to check. Most of the records are not available online so I will be planning some research trip time over the next couple of years to investigate the records.

State level resources
  • Ancestral state archives website and online catalogs and finding aids to see what records exist to help in your family history search? Check the Tennessee State Library and Archives website. You might want to plan a trip there before or after the FGS Genealogy Conference in Knoxville next August.
  • Ancestral state historical society and/or state library website and online catalogs and finding aids to help in your family history search? The Indiana Historical Society is a great place for onsite research. I have been there a couple of times.
County level resources
  • Ancestral county historical society website and online catalogs and finding aids to help in your family history search? Check out the website of the Chester County Historical Society in Pennsylvania.
  •  Ancestral county courthouse websites for newly digitized records or other helpful items. Visit the DeKalb County, Illinois government website and click on Joiner History Room to learn about a wealth of county records, including an online index to coroner's records. I noted a lot of changes since I last visited the website and since I last visited more than ten years ago.
City level resources
My ancestors didn't live in cities that have a great website or city archives for research, but don't let that stop you from checking the cities of your ancestors. The Seattle Municipal Archives is such an example. It even published the Seattle Municipal Archives Gazette.

25 January 2010

Next event: Whittier, California 27 February 2010

My next speaking engagement is February 27th for the great folks at the Whittier Area Genealogical Society (WAGS) in California. I know several people in this group and am looking forward to seeing them again. My topics for this one day seminar are:

$ Finding Ancestral Places of Origin
$ Tho’ They Were Poor, They May Have Been Rich in Records
$ Genealogical Goldmine: The Records of Old Settlers’ Organizations
Major Midwestern Archives and Their Records

Interested in attending? You don't need to be a member of WAGS. Click here for details on the WAGS website. Be sure to introduce yourself to me as a reader of my blog. One of these days when I lecture in Southern California, someone in the audience will be related to my Slaker cousins who moved to the Los Angeles area early in the 20th century!

18 January 2010

Martin Luther King Day

Forty-two years ago this April the world lost a man who preached and practiced equality. Today we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. who left us too soon. In my heart I like to believe that, had he lived till a ripe old age, he would have continued his fight for human rights for all and that his rhetoric and actions would have prevented much of what continues today. I wish all human beings would use common sense. It makes sense to me to be tolerant of each other whether tall, short, skinny, pudgy, gay, straight, black, white, white hair, red hair, flat feet, walking with a cane, wearing a burka, driving a bus, flying a jet, or sitting at home trying to keep warm. I think of all the aid coming forward for Haiti.

Common sense should be that we take care of each other on a daily basis. We don't tell untruths about a fellow politician, don't shoot someone because we don't like their religious beliefs, don't jail someone for unsuspectingly walking across the border into your country, don't get upset because they got the last of the big bargain at the electronics store, or get a job promotion. We don't have to worry that any child or adult is starving or drinking contaminated water. Everyone has easy access to medical care.

I am on a research trip and the other night six women sat in a hotel room in our pajamas and talked for hours and hours. We had a variety of body types, ages, shades of skin, and still we bonded. We had tons of stuff in common. We all love to laugh, tease, share research, hug, and learn. Some have children, some don't. We talked of common things such as the trials and joys we have encountered over the years. We talked about genealogical research problems and successes. I like to think that we were doing just what Dr. King advocated.

He shouldn't have had to advocate it because it just should have been that way, always. As I have said before, I have a pie-in-the-sky hope that peace and equality are terms that we don't have to advocate or Dream about. They just will be the norm. Please.

16 January 2010

Minnesota statewide marriage index online.

The Minnesota Association of County Officers has fulfilled our wishes. If you were not sure of which county a marriage took place in, you could only search at Ancestry.com from 1958 - 2001 or request that search from the Minnesota Department of Health. For other years you needed to know the exact county and check with that courthouse. Yes, there were microfilms of some county marriage records available at the Minnesota Historical Society or via the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Now you can check MOMS, the Minnesota Official Marriage System for free right on your home computer. You don't need to know which county, but that would be helpful in the case of a marriage search for a John Johnson! After locating the index entry which gives the name of the bride, groom, date of marriage, and county name, you simply click on a link in the right hand column to order the records. The order form does not clearly say if it is a photocopy of the original certificate, a digitized copy, a computer printout, or an abstract. I will do some further investigating on this. The cost is $9.00.

ALL THAT SAID, this is not a complete listing/index. I did not find the marriages listed for me, my sister, my parents, grandparents, great grandparents, or others I checked for Ramsey County. The Minnesota Historical Society's Family History News said this about MOMS: ". . . a statewide marriage index  developed by the Minnesota county recorders is now available on-line.  The system includes historical and current marriage data for persons married in Minnesota.  The data can be searched on-line, and copies of marriage certificates may be requested through the web site.  About 80% of Minnesota marriages are available in the system, with some counties continuing to add data to the system on a regular basis."

Be sure to click on "County Index Dates" at the top of the home page to see what the index date spans are for each county. Unfortunately, there are absolutely no dates given for Ramsey County. I did a search for my great grandfather's two marriages in Winona County and neither is listed even though the dates given for that county are 1854 - present. 

As the MOMS page says, "The Minnesota Official Marriage System (MOMS) is an online service designed for the general public to search and locate official marriage information and to be directed to the county which holds the custodial marriage record. MOMS was created to benefit county offices and licensing centers by using a central system in unifying all county offices in the preservation of the record, for internal searching capabilities, and the creation of the marriage record. The Minnesota Official Marriage System is funded and supported by Minnesota county government."

I am happy to see this project well underway and hope for a complete systems before too long.

Genealogical education can be both exhilarating and exhausting

The 2010 edition of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy ended last evening with a great banquet and a delightful presentation by Peggy and George Ryskamp. I have known them for many years and knew we were in for a treat as they told some poignant and interesting stories about their research travels to Spain and the Netherlands. The pictures were wonderful.

Several awards were presented by the Utah Genealogical Association. I don't remember the complete list but do know that Kory Meyerink, AG, was honored for founding SLIG fifteen years ago. Craig Roberts Scott, CG, was presented the Silver Platter award for his dedication to publishing in the field of genealogy. Both of these awards are well-deserved. I will report on others once UGA does a press release with all the details. Elizabeth Dutton was honored for attending all fifteen years of SLIG. Thomas McGill was thanked for his able service as 2010 SLIG Director.

Pat Richley-Erickson (Dear Myrtle) is the SLIG Director for 2011. Her assistant is Warren Bittner and they are excited about taking over the reins.The 2011 SLIG will have eleven courses. I will again be coordinating the intermediate level American Records course. It will focus on localities for 2011and is great lead-in to other courses as it provides a solid knowledge foundation . Check back for the full titles and the coordinators of the other ten courses. I will also let you know when the SLIG registration and other info is online.

11 January 2010

2011 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy

The 2010 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) has begun. This is the 15th year for SLIG. A special opening breakfast got us off to a great start. My students in Course I are an eager and astute group. It's going to be a fun week (and educational, of course). The did their first project on research planning and did an amazing job. This afternoon, these students will have one-on-one research consultations onsite at the Family History Library.

Mark your calendars now for the 2011 edition of SLIG that takes place from January 10-14 in Salt Lake City. This morning the 2010 Director of SLIG, Thomas McGill, announced that the new Director is Pat Richley-Erickson. Many of you may know her better as Dear Myrtle. I have enjoyed working with Tom and look forward to having Pat in that job. These Directors, the SLIG and Utah Genealogical Association staff and volunteers, course coordinators, and instructors put a lot of time into the workings of SLIG. We do it all for the students who show us why we love to share education about family history.

National Genealogical Society Awards and Competitions

This press release was sent by the National Genealogical Society (NGS). DEADLINE for entries is 31 January 2010. Please click here for full award information, submission details, and entry forms.

NGS Rubincam Youth Award
This award recognizes youth in two categories based on age and grade level. Senior - Students in grades 10 to 12, or between the ages of 16 to 18 years. Junior - Students in grades 7 to 9, or between the ages of 13 to 15 years. NGS Membership is not required. Students must submit an original unpublished work written in English and include email contact information. Complete details and submission forms are available online.

NGS Home Study Course Scholarship Award
The award is a scholarship for the NGS American Genealogy: A Home Study Course. It presented to an individual who demonstrates a serious interest in furthering their genealogical education, has attended national/regional or local conferences, and subscribes to genealogical publications. NGS Membership is required. NOTE: Ineligible are those who have previously enrolled in the Home Study Course and those with genealogical accreditation or certification. Details and submission forms are available online.

NGS Genealogical Writing Competitions program recognizes excellence, scholarship, and achievements in the field of genealogy by presenting two awards to individuals and nonprofit organizations for significant contributions to the field of genealogy or for a specific, significant, single contribution in the form of an article or book, or other publication which serves to foster scholarship and/or otherwise advance or promote excellence in genealogy. Nominees need not be a member of NGS. The publication must have been published during the past three years. The two categories are:

1. Award for Excellence: Genealogical Methods and Sources is selected for a specific, significant single contribution in the form of a book, an article or a series of articles published during the last three years that discuss genealogical methods and sources and serves to foster scholarship and/or otherwise advances or promotes excellence in genealogy. All nominations must include e-mail contact information. Instructions and the nominating forms are available online.

2. Award for Excellence: Genealogy and Family History Book is presented to the person who has made a specific, significant single contribution in the form of a family genealogy or family history book published during the past three years which serves to foster scholarship and/or otherwise advances or promotes excellence in genealogy. All nominations must include e-mail contact information. Instructions and the nominating forms are available online.

NGS Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship Sponsored by ProQuest
An outstanding librarian will be honored during the 2010 NGS Conference in Salt Lake City 28 April - 1 May. The Filby Award is $1000 sponsored by ProQuest and is awarded to a librarian who has made significant contributions in the field of genealogy. If you know a worthy librarian, please nominate them today. Criteria for judging and nominating forms are available online.

Award of Merit
NGS will present awards to individuals or institutions who, over a period of five years or more, have made outstanding contributions to NGS programs or who have performed outstanding work in the field of genealogy, history or biography. The nominee need not be a member of NGS. If you know someone worthy, nominate them today. Forms are available online.

Distinguished Service Award
NGS will present awards to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to NGS programs or who have performed outstanding work in the field of genealogy, history, biography, or heraldry. A nominee must have been an NGS member for at least one year when nominated. The submission form is online.

National Genealogy Hall of Fame
NGS Hall of Fame honors individuals of the past who made significant contributions to genealogy and set high standards by which we work today. A nominee need not have been an NGS member. They must have been actively engaged in genealogy in the United States for at least ten years, must have been deceased for at least five years at the time of nomination, and must have made a contribution to the field of genealogy judged to be of lasting significance in ways that were unique, pioneering, or exemplary. Submission forms are available online.

Fellow of the National Genealogical Society
The NGS Fellow Award recognizes outstanding work in the field of genealogy, or the related fields of history, biography or heraldry, in addition to outstanding service to NGS. The nominee must have been an NGS member for at least five years. The nominating form is online.

Lynda Childers Suffridge
Awards Committee Chair

09 January 2010

People do still go to libraries

I am in Salt Lake City and am pleased to see that many people are here using the Family History Library. Our elementary school teachers would be proud of us. We are dedicated to our work, work quietly, and I am sure we will all get "A's" or at least be proud of ourselves for finding Great Great Grandma's maiden name.

I also have seen a lot of that genealogical goodwill going on. Helping others with the new scanners, assisting the person at the next reader with deciphering a word, taking turns at the copiers, and chatting in the snack room. The person at the next reader is not a stranger. That person is a genealogist. We family historians are the best sharers in the world. (Is "sharer" a proper word!)

This face to face help and camaraderie is much better than an electronic form of help. I won't give those up, but seeing the smile on another researcher's face is priceless. I have seen some of those "happy dances" this week.

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy begins on Monday and the learning and sharing will continue.

01 January 2010

PBS show to feature genealogy and genetics

United Press International has a January 1st press release about an upcoming PBS show, Faces of America, that will be hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. It will be shown on Wednesdays from Feb. 10-March 3.

The show will feature the family histories of "poet Elizabeth Alexander, who composed and read the poem at President Barack Obama's inauguration, chef Mario Batali, comedian Stephen Colbert, novelist Louise Erdrich, writer Malcolm Gladwell, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, film director Mike Nichols, Her Royal Highness Queen Noor, actress Eva Longoria, actress Meryl Streep and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi."

It will be interesting to see if the show provides good instruction on a variety of sources and provides techniques as well as the results. It will also be wonderful if it shows the delving into original records and not just online resources.

View a short video on PBS' website by clicking here.