30 December 2010

Genealogist Terrence Punch receives Canadian recognition

The Governor General of Canada, announced 54 new appointments to the Order of Canada and one of them is a family historian! According to the press release, "The Order of Canada, one of our country's highest civilian honours, was established in 1967, during Canada's centennial year, to recognize a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation."

Terrence Punch of Halifax, Nova Scotia was appointed "for his contributions to the development and popularization of genealogy in the Atlantic provinces." Terrence has written extensively in relation to genealogical research in Atlantic Canada.

I met Terrence back in 1989 right here in St. Paul, Minnesota when the Minnesota Genealogical Society hosted the National Genealogical Society Conference in May of that year and have enjoyed his writing. Congratulations on this honor.

Read the full press release here. Thanks to colleague Dave Obee for the news posting on Facebook.

28 December 2010

FGS appoints new FORUM editor

A press release from the Federation of Genealogical Societies with some exciting news.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Selects Family History and Publishing Expert to Head its Electronic Quarterly Magazine

December 27, 2010 – Austin, TX. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) today announces the appointment of Matt Wright as Editor of its electronic quarterly magazine, the FGS FORUM.

For the past 15 years, Wright has worked professionally in the publishing industry producing magazines, journals, books, and electronic newsletters. Matt graduated cum laude from Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1996 with a degree in Communications and currently works at BYU, where he builds online courses in the University’s distance education department.

During his career, Matt has also worked for FamilyLink.com, Ancestry.com, Utah Business magazine, and

22 December 2010

New York Genealogical and Biographical Society names new editors!

I receive many important press releases and love to share the genealogical and historical news. I take special pleasure in posting this press release. It involves two friends. I have known Laura for just a few years and have been impressed with her work ethic and great spirit. I have known Karen for about twenty years and we have spent time at each other's home, have worked together in business and volunteer work, and I admire her dedication. They are already hard at work on the upcoming issues. Congratulations my friends!

NEW YORK -  The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has selected Laura Murphy DeGrazia, CG, and Karen Mauer Green as the new co-editors of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, replacing Patricia Law Hatcher who retired after completing the October 2010 issue. The NYG&B Record, issued continuously since 1870, is the second oldest genealogical publication in America and one of the field’s most

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Fun with relatives

In the early 1980s as more grandchildren came along and my parents went through a tough time after my Dad's serious illness, we cut back on gifts. We began choosing names. Also, we started playing the "dice game."

Each person was to bring several gifts valued at about $1.00 each and wrapped in newspaper. They were all dumped into a pile and if you shook doubles, seven, or eleven with the dice, you got to take a wrapped prize. When they were all gone, you unwrapped them, picked out 2-3 to save and put the rest in front of you. Then the dice went around again for about 15 minutes. Doubles, seven, or eleven meant you got to "steal" an unprotected gift from someone else. Certain gifts kept getting "taken" by others. Grandma Gert (Cook) Hanley always looked forward to this game. There were always a few "special gifts." No one really wanted

20 December 2010

Madness Monday: Football in the cold

I am not talking about ancestors here. Well, maybe someday my descendants will think I was mad. My inspiration for this is the recent collapse of the Metrodome here in Minnesota and the subsequent need for the Minnesota Vikings to play tonight's football game in the cold at the new stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Last weekend's 15-18 inch snows, coupled with an inflated dome roof (now deflated) already beyond its supposed life span, is the reason that the Minnesota Vikings will play the Chicago Bears outdoors. People have

18 December 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Christmas Stockings

Christmas stockings have always been a favorite of mine. I loved getting the huge oranges in mine as a child. We didn't have a fireplace or a staircase so they were always pinned to the back of one couch.

Once I was married I made stockings for me, my husband, and as they were born, for our three children. We didn't have a fireplace in either of our homes but in the second home we had a beautiful wooden staircase with the old fashioned spindles where the stockings "were hung with care." I really miss that special place in our 1907 house for the stockings.

Now I just do stockings for the four grandchildren. If they are not with me on Christmas morning I call them

Who Do You Think You Are? U.S. 2011 edition begins February 4th

 December 16, 2010
Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, Vanessa Williams and Ashley Judd Take a Look Inside Their Family Histories on NBC’s Genealogy Alternative Series Produced by Lisa Kudrow

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – December 16, 2010 – Viewers can take an up-close and personal look inside the family history of some of today’s most beloved and iconic celebrities when NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” returns for its second season on Friday, February 4 (8-9 p.m. ET).  The celebrities who star in the series are Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, Vanessa Williams and Ashley Judd.

17 December 2010

Give your genealogical society a Christmas gift

Do any of you have your genealogical society (or maybe more than one) on your Christmas gift list or for end of the year donations?

Does your society have a wish list of books, CDs, databases, or equipment? Add something from that list to your last minute shopping. Have you noticed that no one has been helping with refreshments at the meeting?. Offer to do that for a year. Maybe you could offer to help staff a "Q & A" table at meetings or teach a class.

Has there been a drop in the number of members? Offer to send emails to those with lapsed memberships. Maybe you could offer your technology skills to update the computer that is causing problems or assist with the upkeep of the website.

Might your society benefit from some sort of fundraiser? How about chairing a silent auction in 2011. This means soliciting items for the auction and overseeing things on the day it is held.

You could combine a gift to your society with a New Year's resolution to get some of your family research into print. Offer to write an article next year for a society publication and use your own research as the topic. It's a bit of a selfish gift but so worthwhile.

Is your time quite limited due to family, work, and church or school obligations? Any society would appreciate a gift of a check. Whether it is for $25.00, $50.00 or more, it will be put to good use.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Family Celebrations

I was just thinking about how our family Christmas celebrations have changed over the years. As parts of the family added children, older family members died, and spouses were added the who, when, and where varied.

Until I had been married a few years Christmas Eve was always celebrated with my Dad's side of the family. This meant Grandma and Grandpa Stuart, Aunt Dorothy's family, and Aunt Jean's family. Christmas Day was celebrated with Mom's side of the family. When I was very young that included my Grandma and Grandpa Hanley, Aunt Jeanie, Grandaunt Catherine, and even my great grandmother we called Nana. In the late 1950s

15 December 2010

40 Best Genealogy Blogs nominee!

In the July 2011 Family Tree Magazine, they will name the "40 Best Genealogy Blogs—the Family Tree 40." I am honored to be among the nominees. Now I need your vote and please do vote for your other favorites, too!I like this way of letting other genealogists know about the many bloggers who share knowledge, experience, and tips with other researchers.

To vote, use the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/ft40-2011voting.

The nominees are divided into eight categories. In each category, please choose five blogs (you'll get an error message if you choose too many). Thomas MacEntee has prepared the full list on another blog and he added the author/editor of each blog. Click here for that list.

Voting is open until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20. You may vote multiple times.(That's Family Tree Magazine's phrase -- not mine, but of course I think it is a great idea.)

Research in original records

Yesterday when I was at the Minnesota Historical Society I noticed something that made me smile. I saw more than a dozen people sitting at tables researching in original records. Most of them stayed at it for many hours, going through file folders of records or multiple volumes of records. Others arrived later in the day to stay through the evening hours. I have no way of knowing exactly what they were working on, but it was exciting to see so many boxes of original records being used.

So often today, researchers including genealogists, historians, editors, writers, and others turn to online resources. I do that too. But the gems in those millions of files and record volumes at historical societies, archives, courthouses, and libraries are also waiting for us. I have no official statistics, but I would venture a guess that only a smidgen of those items have been microfilmed and/or digitized.

Even better is that this is a great time of year to do this type of research. Others are busy being in the holiday mood and that opens up lots of space and staff assistance time for dedicated researchers. Keep this in mind for 2011. From Thanksgiving week through New Year's Day is a great time to research. Many of these places have an online presence that includes a catalog, other finding aids, and some other clues to the records they hold.

10 December 2010

Update from FamilySearch

Some neat images and additional indexing is being reported.

FamilySearch Wraps Up Genealogical Gifts for the Holiday Season

Nearly 4 million images added from 7 countries
Nearly four million new digital images are now available on Beta.FamilySearch.org. These collections include the first images from South Africa, as well as records from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Guatemala, the Netherlands, and the United States. About 1.7 million of these records are indexed.See the chart below for

09 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Visit the historical society for Christmas gifts

Your Christmas gift to a relative or friend could be historical in nature. Do you remember the last time you visited the county or state historical society's gift shop? I love to browse in these. It might be the perfect place to purchase some of your Christmas gifts as I have done.

Many of these shops give discounts to members of the historical society. Maps, calendars, notecards, photographs, artwork, sculptures, jewelry, glassware, clocks, music, quilts, samplers, cookbooks, and foods made in the area. 

Much of these will have historical connections, some will be created or written by local artists and authors. Books on the history of baseball, county and state fairs, historic homes, inventions, and famous individuals born in the state are big sellers. A book or pamphlet might tell the story of a specific ethnic group or religion in the state. Key chains, ornaments, and knick-knacks that portray something related to the history of the county or the state make good stocking stuffers

For children, it might be a coloring book, paper dolls, or an activity book that is history related. Many of these gift shops have reproductions of old fashioned toys and dolls.

FamilySearch.org closer to changing

Over at the Ancestry Insider, the AI reports that the time is drawing close. That is, "FamilySearch is readying to replace www.familysearch.org with beta.familysearch.org possibly before the end of the year. “[The] FamilySearch website will change to a new version by [the] end of 2010,” says a December newsletter sent to Salt Lake area family history consultants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

To read the AI's full comments click here. You might also want to read through some of the past posts there to learn more about the changes, procedures, and for tips that will help you use the new site.

I have mixed feelings about this change -- but then again, we all get used to the status quo and may be just a bit reluctant to have things change. As with all other things, it will take time to get used to the new version. I do love all the records images and indexes on the beta site.

06 December 2010

One week till the NEW U.S. National Archives website debut

Just received this press release from the National Archives. Note that you can click on the link to get a preview. I think that the overall look is less cluttered. I can't wait to work on the full website next week!                                     
December 6, 2010
National Archives Web Site Gets New Look
Archives.gov Site Transformation to go live on December 13, 2010
Washington, DC… The National Archives and Records Administration will launch a redesigned Archives.gov web site on December 13, 2010, as part of its flagship Open Government Initiative.   
An interactive preview of the redesigned Archives.gov is online at:   archives.gov/open/redesign/preview/

02 December 2010

Registration is open for the 2011 NGS Conference

Registration for the 2011 National Genealogical Society Family History Conference opened yesterday. It will be held in the Charleston Area Convention Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive, North Charleston, South Carolina, 11–14 May. The convention center is conveniently located near the Charleston International Airport (CHS) and is surrounded by a number of hotels with restaurants and outlet stores nearby. Historic Charleston is twenty minutes away via taxi or shuttle service.

Click here for more details and to see the full program.

Advent Calendar: Christmas Food Memories

Baking from scratch has always been one of my passions. Cut-out sugar Christmas cookies were always high on the list. I had a large collection of cookie cutters, the good ones that were metal and cut through the dough very nicely. I loved to make cookies when I still lived with my parents and continued that once I was married and had children.

It was Christmas tradition to make and decorate the sugar cookies with my children. Over the years we lived in two different houses but neither had a kitchen with much space. Thus, we had tv trays set up for cookies to cool and for decorating. When they were small, the cookies were, shall we say, interesting. But it was fun to see their grandparents ooh and ah over whatever the children presented to them. The mess was something else. Who knew sprinkles and icing could end up everywhere! My daughter has taken over the family baking in recent years. She always made what we called 6 layer bars for my mother.

01 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Christmas Tree Memories

My plan for this December is to be a better participant in the Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories. This will be a way for me to tell my children and grandchildren about Christmas in my youth and to remind them about some wonderful Christmases in their past.

I grew up in a rambler on Bowdoin Street in St. Paul that had three huge side-by-side living room windows. This was the perfect place for a tree. And for my parents, especially my Mom, that had to be the perfect tree. I think Dad was pretty particular, too but she was more so. It was always the coldest day of December when we would venture to the tree lot. I remember going to one at the corner of Snelling and St. Clair at the edge of the Macalester College campus for many years. We looked and looked till we found the best tree (short needles of course) and if there were a few spots that needed a branch or two, we purchased extra branches. My Dad would then drill holes for these "additions."

The tree would be positioned in front of the windows, Dad would do the lights, and then we three girls would get to hang the ornament. That was always so much fun to see these wonders we hadn't seen in a year. Mom and Dad would make some adjustments if we didn't have them spaced too well! Then came the tinsel. Tons of tinsel. BUT each piece had to be run through our fingers to make sure it was perfectly straight, not twisted or tangled. The result was a tree that was wondrous. We would turn off the room lights and sit on the couch and beam at our work. The background was all the snow in our large front yard.