31 May 2010

Preserving the records related to military service.

State archives and historical societies as well as the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration house many older records of military service, bounty land awards, and pension records. These often hold a wealth of family details including birthplaces, marriage date and place, places of residence, and many other important pieces of information. In a future posting I will cover some of the wonderful military materials found at the Minnesota Historical Society.

In today's Genealogy Gems (No. 75, May 31, 2010, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana) Curt Witcher talks about preserving such records.

Memorial Day 2010

I have failed in the education of at least one of my grandchildren. As my daughter and granddaughter were driving by a cemetery the five year old was amazed to see cars there. She told my daughter that she didn't know you could visit in a graveyard. Yep, she used the term graveyard. My daughter is sure that word came from watching Scooby Doo!

I know I have taken her brothers to cemeteries, especially the oldest one who thought that the phrase "buried" in a cemetery was actually "married" in a cemetery. He was only about 4 at the time. The oldest granddaughter has been to cemeteries with me.

28 May 2010

St. Louis County, Missouri genealogy library expansion

Some wonderful news out of St. Louis County Library during this tough time for libraries, archives, and historical societies. A new genealogy center will be built in suburban Chesterfield, Missouri. A story in today's St. Louis Business Journal says that "Plans call for a two-story facility of 63,000 square feet, which would allow expansion of the existing genealogy collection. The building is to include an auditorium and a family history museum." The center is scheduled to open in 2010.

25 May 2010

Online indexes at county historical societies in Minnesota

County historical societies in Minnesota (and in other states) are treasure troves of material useful in our family history search. This is a sampling of some online indexes for several of the county societies in Minnesota. Some of these societies have other online indexes and information on how to obtain the actual record or publication the index references.

June 26th Duluth, Minnesota Genealogy Meeting

Saturday, June 26th is a big day in Duluth, Minnesota. The Minnesota Genealogical Society and the Twin Ports Genealogical Society are hosting a day-long genealogy conference at the College of St. Scholastica. The day begins at 9:00 a.m and the program is set to end at 4:00 p.m. Check out the full details on the MGS website. The site has details on the speakers and topics. A variety of sessions are offered for only $25.00 for the day.

22 May 2010

RIP Donald Whyte

I just learned that Donald Whyte passed away on 23 April 2010 in Scotland. When I began research on my Scottish Stuart ancestry I found many of his books. Yes, there was info on my family. Years later, I used his compilations to help clients, especially one whose Scottish ancestors immigrated to Canada.

I found my family in his Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants to the USA (pre 1855) and corresponded with him about the source of the information. If you go to Worldcat.org and type in Donald Whyte you can see page after page of genealogical publications that he authored. 

An extensive obituary for him can be found in the Scotsman.com under the date of 3 May 2010. The first paragraph states: "His fascination with family and Scottish history sparked a lifelong interest in his craft and left an extraordinary legacy for genealogists and those researching their family history worldwide." Oh, do I ever agree with this.

Birdie Monk Holsclaw, CG

Birdie Monk Holsclaw, CG. 1948 - 2010. We have lost another strong, determined, caring, sharing, and intelligent woman. Did you ever get to meet her? I met her because I volunteered to work a shift at an Association of Professional Genealogist's booth at a conference about twenty years ago. We became friends and I never stopped adoring her wonderful mind. Her interests were beyond what any human being should be capable of. (She'd comment (very kindly, though) on my ending that sentence with a proposition!)

The picture above is Birdie with Karen Mauer Green in May of 2008. This afternoon Birdie's memorial service is taking place in Colorado. I had hoped to be there but the plane fares prohibited that. I kept trying to finish this post about her but found it too difficult. Today is the day to honor her since I am unable to be there with her family, friends, and colleagues who are doing that together. 

Public graduation gift to a Mom is truly for us all!

Well, genealogical scams have hit the news again and thanks to the author of an article the news on this will be seen by many. The Huffington Post has an article by Chris Rodda about those mass marketed gifts that tell about "your" family's name. Chris was providing her mother, a professional genealogist, a graduation gift by sharing the details of the scam publicly. Her mother, Anne Rodda, is now better known as Dr. Rhodda! I am also proud to say that Anne is a fellow certified genealogist.

Chris saw the commercial on the History Channel and says "Now they've sunk to a new low, airing ads for a company that peddles fraudulent history. So my graduation present to my mother, a real certified professional genealogist, is to expose the genealogical charlatan Michael Walshe, and the scam of his Historical Research Center's so-called "research." You can obtain a parchment scroll with "guaranteed authentic family name origin and meaning."

20 May 2010

Illinois opens up birth records to adoptees

Tonight the Chicago Tribune is reporting something that made me smile. Governor Pat Quinn plans to sign into law a measure allowing adoptees to access their original birth records. The signing is planned for Friday, May 21, 2010.

According to the article "The legislation allows anyone adopted before 1946 to get their full birth certificate information by filing a written request with the state adoption registry. Those born after Jan. 1, 1946, could learn the same information if they are over 21 and at least one birth parent has not requested anonymity."

This will also be helpful to many Minnesota adoptees whose births took place in Illinois, especially in the Chicago area.

Click here for the full story. The cost is $15.00. Click here for a link to the Vital Records section of the Illinois Department of Health.

Liquor store

Every genealogist should visit the liquor store!

Yes, you read that correctly. At least this applies to most of the genealogists I know. None of us has unlimited genealogy funds. But we love maps and large charts and need a way to store them. Oh, a map cabinet would be perfect but even used ones are costly. The solution is to go the liquor store or the liquor area of your grocery store. I said go, not drink. Though some genealogy brick walls might have us thinking about that drink!

The boxes that wine and liquor are delivered in, make a great place to store oversize items. The dividers that separate the bottles leave enough space to place a rolled up map or chart. Make a simple table in your computer and type the contents of each divider as illustrated below. Tape it to the side of the box so that you know what is in each divider. I do have more than one rolled item in each divider.

You can also purchase archival quality map tubes, flat bloxes, and other storage options from places such as Hollinger Metal Edge and Light Impressions .

18 May 2010

Limited access to microfilms at Minnesota Historical Society May 29 - June 21

The Hubbs Microfilm Room which is part of the research library at the Minnesota Historical Society will be closed from May 29 - June 21, 2010. New carpeting is being installed during this three week period. Some items such as newspapers from around the state will not be available for research.

For a list of what will be available for research (on a limited number of film readers) click here. 

Illinois state level vital records ordering delay (temporary)

The Illinois Department of Public Health's Division of Vital Records is moving to new offices. The office will be closed from May 27 -31 and will reopen on June 1, 2010. Because of this move, rush service and some other customer requests for birth and death records might be delayed.

Click here to read the article in the online edition of the Springfield, Illinois State Journal Register.

17 May 2010

A photo of grave witching

Here's a link to a photo of the grave witching demonstration I was at recently when I presented a two day seminar in Norfolk, Nebraska. A very interesting demo!

Thanks to Susan Peterson for sending me the link to her blog and the picture.

14 May 2010

Don't forget about the FGS Genealogy Conference this August!

Did you attend the NGS Conference in Salt Lake City earlier this month or wish you had after hearing about the great lectures, special events, luncheons, and Exhibit Hall? There's another chance to attend a large genealogy event that will revitalize your research, teach you new techniques, tell about the growing software applications, surround you with folks willing to talk family history, have three days of an Exhibit Hall filled with a plethora of goodies, and give you tickets for fantastic door prize drawings (anyone need a free week in Salt Lake City?)? This year's FGS Conference is in beautiful and bustling Knoxville, Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Maybe you would like to learn from some of the top speakers in the field of genealogy, sit with them at a luncheon, hear from the software developers first-hand, spend an evening at the Museum of Appalachia, visit with experts who can help you on your way to solving genealogical dilemmas, learn about ways to help your genealogical society grow, and most of all revel in four days of excitement.

Don't forget to register for the 2010 FGS Conference by June 1st. If you register on or before that date, you will save a whopping $50.00 off the full registration price for the conference. It's easy to register online or to print out the registration form and mail it in.

12 May 2010

Yes, I have been "missing" on my blog

Three weeks ago I left to do a two day seminar in Norfolk, Nebraska where I was treated royally by the folks from the Nebraska State Genealogical Society and the Madison County Genealogical Society. It was a packed house and an attentive group. The two days ended with a trip to a cemetery for a grave witching demonstration.

Then I was off to Salt Lake City for the National Genealogical Society Conference and some meetings. It was a wonderful four days. At the opening session on Wednesday I presented a tribute to Marsha Hoffman Rising, an amazing woman, friend, and genealogist extraordinaire. That was a difficult experience and I hope I did her justice. The tribute plus some additional words will be in the National Genealogical Society's NewsMagazine later this year. After the conference ended I spent a week researching at the Family History Library for clients. Lest you think it was all work the time I was gone, I did have a lot of time with good friends in the genealogical community. A conference is like a family reunion and even better are the new family members you meet.

One of the conference week highlights was the "Celebration of Family History" held at the Conference Center of the LDS Church. A special performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was so neat, followed by a wonderful presentation by a high ranking official of that church and then the evening became even better (if possible) with a talk by noted author David McCullough. I did not want the evening to end.

On the Friday of the conference week, Ancestry.com held a group viewing of the final episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, complete with refreshments. What a neat experience to be with a big room full of fellow genealogists watching this show.

I now have time off from conferences and seminars until mid-August for the Federation of Genealogical Societies four day conference in Knoxville, Tennessee. So I have lots of time for blogging, spending time with my grandchildren, preparing lectures for FGS, and maybe even dusting and vacuuming. A big maybe on the latter.

Family in southwestern Kansas?

The April 17th issue of the Pittsburg, Kansas Morning Sun has an article that is one of my favorite types. It tells about an old record book being turned over to an institution for preservation. In this case, it's a 1923 jail register for Crawford County, Kansas that has been sent to the Special Collections Department of the Axe Library at Pittsburgh State University.

Alas, my own Kansas connections were not in that part of Kansas. The preservation of this volume is a reminder to continually check online catalogs and finding aids for repositories of historical materials. A book of records, a set of old letters, or some loose papers found in the back of a filing cabinet may get turned over to a library, historical society, or archive. A collection that was previously not catalogued or not fully described may now be. 

04 May 2010

Virgnia: Black or Indian?

Some Virginia researchers may already be aware of this, but for others this information may explain some difficulties as you research vital records of Native Americans and African Americans in that state.

Walter Ashby Plecker was the first head of the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics and served from 1912-1946. He did some beneficial things such as "great strides in educating midwives, inventing a home incubator, and prescribing home remedies for infants. His efforts are credited with an almost 50 percent decline in birthing deaths for black mothers."

Unfortunately, he also believed that American Indians and African Americans had no separate ethnic identity and set about to reclassify Indians as colored. He actually changed the designation on some vital records from Indian to black. He also decided that anyone with even a little bit of black ancestry would not be allowed to pass as white and brought about changes on their vital records based on information that he said his office had gathered.You can read more about Walter Plecker at the Library of Virginia's Virginia Memory project. That page lists some article for further reading. Also check out this link for a disturbing 1942 letter from Plecker to local vital records registrars.

Thanks to Brenda Hudson of Florida for telling me about this during last week's NGS Conference. It does affect some researchers trying to do a good job of researching and documenting their forebears.

03 May 2010

Some websites and blogs you might want to check