30 July 2010

These are my favorite things about research repositories

Wouldn't it be nice if we could take the most useful aspects of each of our favorite research places and combine them so that each place would have all that we love? (Yes, I know about reality, but I can dream, can't I?) My ideal library, archive, and historical society would have:

  • Copy cards so I don't have to carry change
  • Space and plugs for laptop computers -- even next to the microfilm readers
  • Wireless internet accessibility
  • Lockers big enough for our bags that we must lock up
  • My favorite staff people
  • Staff that isn't overworked
  • Finding aids that tell more about individual collections (online and off)
  • Comprehensive online catalog
  • Place to sit and reorganize your work for the day (where you can use the materials you had to put in the locker)
  • Onsite or close by place to eat
  • Record or book retrieval service that is not too slow
  • More materials on open shelves
  • Self-copiers
  • OK to bring in a flat bed scanner and a digital camera
  • Clear guidelines posted to remind us of them
  • Record retrieval forms that don't take so long to fill out
  • Record retrieval request online (how many times do we need to fill our our name and address!)
  • Parking onsite or nearby and well lit
  • Public transportation at the door
  • Self-retrieval microforms
  • Clean and nearby restrooms (not on a different floor of the building)
  • Reasonable security features
I know there must be more features I love and will post those in the future. Do you have any suggestions for the perfect place to research? 

29 July 2010

A mere twenty one days till the FGS Genealogy Conference

Just three weeks (or 3 weeks if you like the numbers better) or twenty one (21) days from today is the start of the FGS Conference for the Nation's Genealogists in Knoxville, Tennessee. The event takes place from August 18-21 at the Knoxville Convention Center. I am excited about this event because it has truly been a wonderful group of people organizing this event.

The vendors are packing lots of good things to show and sell us in the Exhibit Hall, the volunteers are working on a million last minute tasks, the speakers are polishing up their lectures, the syllabus is being printed/burned to CD, genealogical societies are updating fliers and brochures, and that list of things being accomplished over these next few weeks is too long to print.
  • Have you registered? Click here to do that. You may still register at the door also.
  • Do you want to add a luncheon or other event to your prior registration? Click here and use the PIN you received when you registered.
  • Want to take another look at the special events for the week? Click here, here, and here.
  • Need more info on some of these events, Knoxville, vendors, speakers and other things? Scroll down the right side of the FGS Conference News Blog and check the labels list. Just click on those you want to read more about. Click here for the blog.

28 July 2010

Is your non-profit organization about to lose that status with the IRS?

Lori Thornton posted a timely item on her Smokey Mountain Family Historian blog and I urge you to read it. Your genealogical, historical, or family organization's non-profit status might be in jeopardy. As Lori said, "There are many historical societies, Friends of the Library organizations, cemetery associations, fraternal organizations, and DAR chapters among those in danger."

That tax-exempt status may be gone simply because your organization did not fill out the proper forms and submit them to the IRS. Notices were sent to organizations, newspaper and online articles have talked about it, and for genealogical societies that are members of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, they received reminders in the FGS Voice.

The IRS has extended the deadline so urge your organization's board members to read Lori's post and also this article from the July 27th Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune. That article states that the delinquent organizations in Minnesota alone total about 4,000!

22 July 2010

FamilySearch: 100 million records indexed in the first half of 2010!

This press release was received from FamilySearch. Mighty impressive numbers!

22 July 2010

Online Volunteers Index a Whopping 100 Million Records Already This Year

FamilySearch Indexing is excited to announce that our dedicated volunteers have completed 100 million records in the first half of 2010, and is on track to complete a targeted 200 million by the end of the year. Patrons can search the completed indexes and images at pilot.familysearch.org.

More volunteers are always needed—particularly on international, non-English projects. New projects were added for Brazil, Canada, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, and Russia.

Interested volunteers can start helping any time by registering at www.indexing.familysearch.org and selecting a project.

New Projects in the Past Month
·         Brasil, Minas Gerais—Church Records, 1706-1952
(In partnership with
Universidada Federal de Minas Gerais)
·         Mexico, San Luis Potosi—1930 Federal Censo

Recently Completed Projects

(Note: Recently completed projects have been removed from the available online indexing batches and will now go through a final completion check process. They will be published at pilot.familysearch.org in the near future.)

·         Chile, Concepción—Registros Civiles, 1885–1903 [Parte 2A]
·         Jamaica—Civil Births, 1878–1899 [Part C]
·         Jamaica—Civil Births, 1900–1930 [Part A]
·         U.K., Bristol—Parish Registers, 1837–1900 [Part C]
·         U.S., Military—1920 Federal Census
·         U.S., New York—1910 Federal Census
·         U.S., South Dakota—1910 Federal Census
·         U.S., Utah—1910 Federal Census
·         U.S., Utah—County Marriages, 1887–1966 [Part A]
·         U.S., West Virginia—1910 Federal Census
·         U.S., Wyoming—1910 Federal Census

15 July 2010

Ancestry.com completes acquisition of Genline.se

Late this afternoon, MarketWatch carried a press release showing that Ancestry.com has completed the acquisition of the large Swedish research website Genline.se. I am speculating that this will soon give Ancestry World Deluxe subscribers access to "26 million pages of digitized Swedish church records spanning more than 400 years from the 17th to the 20th century." I would think there will be some big announcements at the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference next month in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Click here to read today's full press release.

13 July 2010

Paying to view current obituaries?

Viewing current obituaries will soon be costing us more. Think about the fortune it costs for a family to have an obituary published in the newspaper. Now if someone else wants to check the newspaper for funeral details it might cost a few extra bucks. An article by David Brauer in yesterday's Minnesota Post gives some details about new online newspaper metering. He later posted about a way to fool the system. I don't want to give easy access to that link -- you will have to find it yourself. I love to read the current obits for free and understand today's economics, but it seems targeted at senior citizens to make a buck. Paying for access just to obits seems a bizarre way to begin. Why not sports articles or scores? Why not advertising?

The first user of the paid obit checks is LancasterOnline which says that "If you are a frequent visitor, staying in touch with our community, you may read seven obituaries for free each month."

Here's a link to another interesting column about the changing service.This includes lots of statistics on which the newspaper is basing its decision.

Just a couple days ago I told a group of fellow genealogists that it was interesting to read both the St. Paul and Minneapolis newspapers online from Friday evening until Monday morning and see little local news. It's like living, crime, accidents, and other events stop for that time period. But we know it really doesn't stop. The newspapers are only published once a day and on the weekends the staffing has been cut to the barest minimum. No longer are we being kept informed of our local area -- well, unless a TV news story or an Associated Press article can be reported in the newspaper. Truly, the local flavor is going, going, going . . .

I guess I like the local funeral homes that also publish obituaries on their websites -- and so far do so at no charge. After all, the families or the funeral home compile the obituary and send it electronically. In today's world the work for the newspaper has been cut back. 

Many newspapers will not post news about upcoming events (even with text and photos provided for free) but will send a reporter to the event and publish the article after the event. How is that helpful? So, if I ran a newspaper -- oh wait, I wear enough hats already.

So, my wish is that newspapers don't become like the airlines. Keep good customer service. Charge if the bottom line requires. But give us lots of the news we are looking for. Tell us about upcoming events so that we may attend them. If you are going to charge to publish obits and then charge someone extra to look at them, charge equally for other info. Hmmm -- do sports teams or city councils get charged to post news about their activities or events? But the grieving family does and then might have to pay to access what it paid to have published. Off my soapbox.

Does your laptop computer overheat?

I happen to have a 4 year old laptop computer that overheats. For the last year I have had a cooling pad device that sits under it. The USB part that plugged into the computer worked fine but the end that plugged into the device itself was too loose. I was having all kinds of computer issues as it was not being kept cool enough.

I did some online research and found a good replacement. I didn't want to wait so I went to Office Depot and actually found the one I wanted in the store! It is a "Belkin Laptop Cooling Pad." It has one fan and you need no power other than plugging it into a USB port on your computer. This brand has space between the computer and the device for air to circulate. It can be elevated by popping open the stand and this also helps to circulate the air.

I have no financial interest in either Belkin or Office Depot but thought I would share this information on a product that really does work. I feel this has bought me some time to save more before I must buy a new laptop. This is the only computer I have so I really appreciate this product.

12 July 2010

Fergus Falls [Minnesota] State Hospital

Myths & Legends: Stories from the Fergus Falls State Hospital

Today's Fergus Falls Daily Journal carried a bit of history of this hospital for the insane and an announcement about a presentation this Friday. "Join the Otter Tail County Historical Society for Myths & Legends: Stories from the Fergus Falls State Hospital on Friday, July 16, 6:30 p.m. on the State Hospital campus. The third Minnesota State Hospital for the Insane was opened in Fergus Falls in July 1890."

Click here to read the full story.
Click here to search the catalog for the many records and histories that are housed at the Minnesota Historical Society.

2010 August FGS Knoxville Conference update

If you haven't checked the FGS Conference News Blog lately, you have missed some important and exciting updates about the August 18-21 four day conference being held in Knoxville, Tennessee. Everyone is welcome to attend and the lectures and vendors offer something for all levels of interest.
  • Hotel availability status
  • Big door prizes to be awarded on Friday evening
  • Lots of details on the Thursday evening activity
  • Conference news about vendors in the Exhibit Hall
  • Expanded info on the Wednesday sessions designed to assist genealogical, historical, and family organization volunteers
  • More detail from some speakers about their lectures and themselves
  • Announcement on the FREE Kids Camp
Click here for the full program.

06 July 2010

Saturday record retrieval at the National Archives in D.C.

This press release is from the U.S. National Archives. Oh, how I wished for this service during the years I spent much of my time there. These record pulls are for the textual records that must be retrieved for you to view. Please note this is for July but if used may become a regular option.


National Archives Announces Pilot Program in Research Room at Archives I in DC. New Saturday records retrieval at Archives I - all Saturdays in July, 2010

Washington, DC. . . For the month of July, 2010, the National Archives in Washington, DC, (Archives I) will undertake a pilot program to provide archival records retrieval services on Saturdays.  This pull service is only for records that have designated retrieval information, and this pilot program is for Archives I only.

Records will be retrieved for use in the research room at the following “pull” times: 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m.,