Thursday, September 29, 2011

Citations... It's Like Flossing.

Why are citations like flossing? Well, it's a good habit to get into... just like flossing. Neither are very exciting or brag worthy. However they make you better. The more you cite your work the more it becomes second nature, and you don't even think about it... much. Just like flossing.

Yesterday I worked on citations for several different documents that had arrived in the mail over the past week or two. Most were very straight forward, being birth or death records from a particular state's vital records department. In fact looking at the records one could almost wonder, "Why write a citation? Isn't it obvious where it came from?" To us genealogy obsessed folks it probably is, but for the non-obsessed probably not. Also, now that I have citations on the said documents, when I write up my findings (today, I hope) I'll have the citation ready to go for my footnotes. This way I can focus more on the writing aspect than the technical citation part.

One document that gave me a challenge and spent a surprising amount of time on, was a certificate of divorce. I looked at a few examples in Elizabeth Shown Mills' book Evidence Explained. The book explains (in a nutshell) that divorce cases are civil suits that begin and end in local court (refer to 8.25 and 9.36 in the book if you're curious). Then I proceeded to make a mountain out of a mole hill. The issue was, I obtained this record from the vital records office, not from a court house. Should I cite the docket number or not? Should I cite the page number or not?

In the end, after a chocolate break, I got back to basics. The question to address was very simple, "Where did I get the record from?" After all that is the point of a citation, to tell whoever is looking at a given document where you got it from. Then it was easy. The citation I ended up with very much resembled that of a citation for a marriage certificate.  I'm not sure if that was the "right" way to do it, but I do know that I answered all the questions of who, what, when, and where. Now I'm ready to write up my findings in my research report, and wait for the next batch of documents to come in the mail.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Of Death Certificate and Disappointments

You may remember a blog series I wrote about Rachel called Rachel Luttrell and Her Widow's Pension Woes. I received Rachel (Schmuck) Luttrell Jones' death certificate yesterday. Looking at death certificates is always a weird experience. Partly because of the unreliable or non-information that they have, and the primary information they do have.

Rachel died 14 August 1912 of breast cancer. I was particularly sad about the cause of death. Rachel had a challenging life and I had hoped that she died happy and from old age. The certificate states that she was still married, presumably to Lewis Jones.

Her son, T.A. Luttrell [Thomas Arthur], was the informant of the family information. This was horribly and sadly lacking.  Date of birth is recorded as "Exact date not known." I just found this odd. How could Rachel's son not know her birthday? Or did he just not know the year and so they scrapped the whole thing? However, Rachel's age is recorded as 66 and her birthplace as Columbus, Ohio. It's just baffling. Thomas provides her father as Joseph Schmuck and doesn't know where he was born. He also didn't know Rachel's mother's maiden name, so the space was marked as "Do not know" as was her birthplace.

So, the end result.... I have more information than I had before I received the death certificate but of course not as much as I hoped (sigh).

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Which Genealogists, Dancing With the Stars, and Samford All Come Together

So I woke up this morning fresh from a dream of being at Samford and socializing with genealogists. Sounds great right? Well, not so much. There was a group of genealogists standing around a girl proclaiming, "We have to figure out this girl's parents!" and another group of genealogists were practicing for Dancing With the Stars in the cafeteria. Now if you've ever seen the show and the costumes the dancers wear, this could lend itself to a rather disturbing visual. In fact it was what woke me up. I'm not sure what Freud would make of it all, and come to think on it I'm not sure I would want to know.

At any rate, I think it comes down to all of my thoughts from the evening being played out in my dream. My husband and I went out for dinner last night (sans children, yay!) and I was discussing with him what my goals are for genealogy. I'm in the ProGen study group and our assignment this month was to write a business plan for our genealogy business. So I was bouncing some ideas off my hubby, with one of them being how I want to attend Samford again in June and when I plan on starting the clock for BCG certification. Okay, so this accounts for Samford in the dream.

My mother-in-law came over to watch the kids and before we left I was talking genealogy with her. She has an Italian side to the family that is very confusing. They came to America with one name and then changed it once they were here. To top it off, there seems to be some confusion on how any of those names are spelled (argh!). Needless to say I haven't gotten very far with that side. So I believe this would account for the girl in my dream surrounded by the group of genealogists.

Finally, I was thinking last night about the NGS conference next May in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm not sure I'll get to go to that one. However, the NGS conference in 2013 I believe is going to be in Las Vegas. For some reason (every time) I can't help but think, "Genealogists gone wild!" This thought coupled with a brief conversation over dessert about Dancing With the Stars accounts for the dancing genealogists in the Samford cafeteria.

Wacky right?? I can only hope my dreams will be a little less active tonight.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Follow Friday-Susan's Genealogy Blog

It's been one of those weeks where life has taken over and needed to be dealt with. So I haven't had much time to sit and organize my thoughts to blog. However, I have had some time to read blogs and one that caught my eye is Susan's Genealogy Blog titled Genealogy In Greek Speak. She discusses some resources that genealogists use to track down books, journals, manuscripts, and periodicals. Most of the sites she mentions I have used before and they are very good (especially if you can find what you are looking for).

I had the pleasure of meeting Susan during IGHR at Samford. We were both in Tom Jones' writing class and I've been following her blog ever since. Susan has covered some really good topics that are educational, interesting, and fun to read. It's a good site to explore.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Another Meme-99 Genealogy Things Meme

There seems to be a couple memes going around right now. It's a good way to evaluate your own skills and maybe point out what needs to be worked on. I saw this one at Valerie's Family Cherished blog, which originated a few years ago at Becky's kinexxions blog.

Things you have already done or found- bold type
Things you would like to do or find- italics
Things you have not done or found / don't care to- (or that I know hasn't happened in my family).

  1. Belong to a genealogical society (a couple, but am thinking of adding a couple more)
  2. Joined a group on Genealogy Wise
  3. Transcribed records
  4. Uploaded headstone pictures to Find-A-Grave or a similar site
  5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents)
  6. Joined Facebook
  7. Cleaned up a run-down cemetery
  8. Joined the Geneabloggers Group
  9. Attended a genealogy conference
  10. Lectured at a genealogy conference (someday-it's a goal)
  11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society/local library's family history group (again, it's a goal)
  12. Joined the National Genealogical Society
  13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication
  14. Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society (I'm sure eventually)
  15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery (Mapquest---argh!!)
  16. Talked to dead ancestors (with varying degrees of success)
  17. Research outside the state of which I live
  18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants
  19. Cold called a distant relative (very nerve wracking--I had sweaty palms!)
  20. Posted messages on a surname message board
  21. Uploaded a gedcom file to the internet
  22. Googled my name (and my ancestors, I love Google!!)
  23. Performed a random act of genealogical kindness
  24. Researched a non-related family, just for the fun of it
  25. Have been paid to do genealogical research (my dream!!)
  26. Earn a living (majority of income) from genealogical research (again, my dream!!)
  27. Wrote a letter (or email) to a previously unknown relative
  28. Contributed to one of the genealogy carnivals
  29. Responded to messages on a message board
  30. Was injured while on a genealogy excursion (I don't need for this to happen!)
  31. Participated in a genealogy meme (Woohoo!!)
  32. Created family history gift items (Hhmmm...the holidays are coming)
  33. Performed a record lookup
  34. Took a genealogy seminar cruise (this would be fun!)
  35. Am convinced that a relative must have arrived here from outer space (HA!)
  36. Found a disturbing family secret (not yet)
  37. Told others about a disturbing family secret
  38. Combined genealogy with crafts
  39. Think genealogy is a passion obsession not a hobby
  40. Assisted finding next of kind for a deceased person (think Unclaimed Persons)
  41. Taught someone else how to find their roots
  42. Lost valuable genealogy data due to a computer crash or hard drive failure
  43. Been overwhelmed by available genealogy technology-sometimes it's borderline but it's a great way to learn
  44. Know a cousin of the 4th degree or higher
  45. Disproved a family myth through research (not yet)
  46. Got a family member to let you copy photos 
  47. Used a digital camera to "copy" photos or redords
  48. Translated a record from a foreign language (not yet, still wading through things on this side of the pond)
  49. Found an immigrant ancestor's passenger arrival record
  50. Looked at census records on microfilm, not on the computer
  51. Used microfiche
  52. Visited the Family History library in Salt Lake City (on my top 10 list)
  53. Used Google+ for genealogy 
  54. Visited a church or place of worship of one of your ancestors
  55. Taught a class in genealogy
  56. Traced ancestors back to the 18th Century
  57. Traced ancestors back to the 17th Century
  58. Traced ancestors back to the 16th Century
  59. Can name all of your great-great-grandparents (only on my mom's side)
  60. Know how to determine a soundex code without the help of a computer
  61. Have found many relevant and unexpected articles on internet to "put flesh on the bones"
  62. Own a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills
  63. Help someone find an ancestor using records you had never used for your own research
  64. Visited the main National Archives building in Washington, DC (I really really want/need a field trip to DC!)
  65. Have an ancestor who came to America as an indentured servant (a rumor, but haven't found the document proving or disproving it yet)
  66. Have an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Civil War
  67. Taken a photograph of an ancestor's tombstone
  68. Can "read" a church record in Latin
  69. Have an ancestor who changed his/her name (my husband does though--boy it's frustrating!)
  70. Joined a Rootsweb mailing list
  71. Created a family website
  72. Have a genealogy blog
  73. Was overwhelmed by the amount of family information received from someone (I wish I had this problem!!)
  74. Have broken through at least one brick wall (not yet but I'm hopeful)
  75. Done genealogy research at a courthouse
  76. Borrowed microfilm from the Family History Library through a local Family History Center
  77. Found an ancestor in an online newspaper archive
  78. Have visited a NARA branch 
  79. Have an ancestor who served in WWI or WWII
  80. Use maps in my genealogy research
  81. Have a blacksheep ancestor (not yet)
  82. Found a bigamist amongst my ancestors (again, not yet)
  83. Attended a genealogical institute (went to IGHR last June and plan to go again next year)
  84. Taken online genealogy (and local history) courses (Boston University course--it was great!)
  85. Consistently (document) and cite my sources
  86. Visited a foreign country (i.e. one I don't live in) in search of ancestors (this would be so fun!)
  87. Can locate any document in my research files within a few minutes (more or less)
  88. Have an ancestor who was married four times
  89. Made a rubbing of an ancestor's gravestone
  90. Followed genealogists on Twitter (not for a while, but I have in the past)
  91. Published a family history book (not ready yet, but someday)
  92. Learned of a death of a fairly close family relative through research
  93. Offended a family member with my research (not yet, but there's still time)
  94. Reunited someone with precious family photos or artifacts
  95. Have a paid subscription to a genealogy database (um, a few....ssshhhhhh)
  96. Submitted articles for FamilySearch Wiki
  97. Organized a family reunion
  98. Used Archives in countries where my ancestors originated
  99. Converted someone new to the love of all things genealogy (not yet)
So there you have it!! How about you??

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tech Savvy Genealogist Meme-Oh Boy, Here We Go.....

Okay, so I tried posting this yesterday and I ended up having all sorts of technical problems that I couldn't figure out. So I'll try it again....

I saw this meme posted by Thomas McEntee and apparently it originated with Jill Ball of Geniaus. Oddly enough a couple of weeks ago I posted a blog Are You Tech-Savvy Or Tech-Challenged? So I decided this would be a good follow and see which side of the coin I land on. So here goes....

The list should be annotated in the following manner:

  • Things you have already done or found: bold face type
  • Things you would like to do or find: italicize (color optional)
  • Things you haven't done or found and don't care to: plain type
Feel free to add extra comments in brackets after each item!

Which of these apply to you?
  1. Own an Android of Windows tablet or an iPad
  2. Use a tablet or iPad for genealogy related purposes
  3. Have used Skype for genealogy purposes
  4. Have used a camera to capture images in a library/archives/ancestor's home
  5. Use a genealogy software program on your computer to manage your family tree
  6. Have a Twitter account 
  7. Tweet daily
  8. Have a genealogy blog
  9. Have more than one genealogy blog (seriously??)
  10. Have lectured/presented to a genealogy group on a technology topic
  11. Currently an active member of Genealogy Wise (okay, I just joined it remains to be seen how active I'll be)
  12. Have a Facebook Account
  13. Have connected with genealogists via Facebook
  14. Maintain a genealogy related Facebook Page
  15. Maintain a blog or website for a genealogy society
  16. Have submitted text corrections online to Ancestry, Trove or a similar site
  17. Have registered a domain name
  18. Post regularly to Google+ (I have an account, but I still just don't get this site!!)
  19. Have a blog listed on Geneabloggers
  20. Have transcribed/indexed records for FamilySearch or a similar project
  21. Own a Flip-Pal or hand-held scanner
  22. Can code a webpage in .html (uummm......)
  23. Own a smartphone
  24. Have a personal subscription to one or more paid genealogy databases
  25. Use a digital voice recorder to record genealogy lectures
  26. Have contributed to a genealogy blog carnival
  27. Use Chrome as a Web browser (I don't even know what this is!)
  28. Have participated in a genealogy webinar
  29. Have taken a DNA test for genealogy purposes 
  30. Have a personal genealogy website
  31. Have found mention of an ancestor in an online newspaper archive
  32. Have tweeted during a genealogy lecture
  33. Have scanned your harcopy genealogy files (this is something on my to do list)
  34. Use an RSS Reader to follow genealogy news and blogs
  35. Have uploaded a gedcom file to a site like Geni, MyHeritage or Ancestry
  36. Own a netbook (okay, if this is the same as a MacBook then yes, otherwise, no)
  37. Use a computer/tablet/smartphone to take genealogy lecture notes (I'm a pen and paper gal!)
  38. Have a profile on LinkedIn that mentions your genealogy habit
  39. Have developed a genealogy software program, app or widget (Okay, had to take a break, I choked on my sip of water, I was laughing so hard!)
  40. Have listened to a genealogy podcast online
  41. Have downloaded genealogy podcasts for later listening
  42. Backup your files to a portable hard drive
  43. Have a copy of your genealogy files stored offsite (okay, I really need to do this)
  44. Know about RootsTech (and hoping I find a wad of cash previously forgotten just laying around so that I can go)
  45. Have listened to a Blogtalk radio session about genealogy
  46. Use Dropbox, SugarSync or other service to save documents in the cloud (I have Dropbox, but haven't used it yet)
  47. Schedule regular email backups (I'm desperately trying to have no mail in my inbox! Why back it up??)
  48. Have contributed to the FamilySearch Research Wiki
  49. Have scanned and tagged your genealogy photographs (I don't have many, but do this for what I have)
  50. Have published a genealogy book in an online/digital format (sigh...maybe someday)
Okay, so I didn't do too bad, but clearly I'm still on the tech-challenged side of things. Especially since I had a snafu trying to load this post the first time around. Well... at least I have a list of things to work towards now.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Civil War Letters At TSLA

The Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) recently acquired digital copies of letters written by two white officers of the 16th U.S. Colored Infantry. The two officers were the Wadsworth Brothers, who had attended Oberlin College, and then left to join the Union Army. This particular unit that they were a part of was stationed in Clarksville, Tennessee from 1863 to 1865.

This is an exciting acquisition for TSLA and for researchers. I have not personally seen these letters, but usually letters give insight into an individual's thoughts and opinions. Letters, diaries, journals, and some newspaper accounts allow a researcher to add valuable texture to a life story, that cannot be found in  typical government issued documents.

The collection is titled "Brother Charles: Letters Home to Michigan." If you would like to read a local article, you can read it here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why Did You Start Genealogy Research?

It's a loaded question, isn't it? I was over at earlier, setting up a page and that was one of the questions. Why indeed? I had to sit back and think about it. My research started so many years ago I'm not sure I truly remember the exact reason, other than it was interesting.

In general I find people interesting. I like to people watch too. Before having children I was a full-time elementary school teacher, and I loved the challenge of trying to figure out what made each student tick. What was their mode of learning? Why were they behaving a certain way?

It's the same with ancestors. I had a recent blog series on Rachel Luttrell and her Widow's Pension Woes. In it she was described as being in her early-mid 40's and of frail constitution. Well, if I had been taking care of an ill husband for many years, had 7 babies (3 of which died), and was a widowed mother trying to eek out an income in the 1880's I would probably appear frail too. Perspective, mind-set, the psychology of our ancestors. It's fascinating! I also think most of our ancestors would be thrilled we took an interest in them. Certainly the living are, so why not the deceased?

So my answer; I love genealogy. It's fun, it's fascinating, and it's a way of making a connection on a bigger scale than the secular life we live in.

Why did you start genealogy research?

Monday, September 12, 2011

How Does One Piece Of Paper Effect Your Research?

Today I received some new information in the mail and have been neck deep in online research. This means I've largely neglected other things I should have been doing. Oh well, such is the life of a genealogist... right?

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I sent off for a marriage certificate for my husband's gg grandparents. They were Reinhold Witthaus and Bertha Schanbacher, married 17 May 1896 in New York City. Both of them were born in Germany. This marriage certificate held more information than I ever could have imagined. A genealogy gold mine! The certificate listed their ages, parents names (with mother's maiden name!!), names of witnesses, place of birth, name and address of the Pastor who performed the marriage, and their residence at the time of marriage (they lived in the same building).

I searched around on, but didn't come across anything that seemed very solid. So I switched my search over to I plugged in Christain Schanbacher (Bertha's father) and came up with an excellent possibility of a marriage record for him in Germany. This particular record stated that Immanuel Christian Schanbacher married Wilhelmine Barbara Hauser  (the names are a good match) on 1 May 1873 in Stetten Im Remstal, Germany (place matches and the date works, Bertha was born in 1878). It also gave the birth dates/place for the bride and groom, along with parents' names for each (again mother's maiden names!). I'll have to gather some more evidence to make a solid conclusion, but so far it is looking good.

Amazing how one piece of paper can provide you with so many clues and avenues to research.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Follow Friday-Adventures In Genealogy Education

Ever wonder what kind of genealogical education opportunities there are? Then Angela McGhie's blog, Adventures In Genealogy Education, is a good place to start. She lists all sorts of various sites, online study groups, online courses, conferences, and institutes. Occasionally Angela has guest bloggers, who write about their experiences with a particular course or institute.

Angela also administers the ProGen study group, which I am currently taking. ProGen is a focused 19 month study on one book, Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians (shown in my affiliate link below). Each month there is a reading selection, an assignment, peer review of your assignment, and a focused chat. This month's assignment is to write a business plan. I'm a little intimidated, but ready to take it on.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Synchronicity In Genealogy

We have all heard the stories. A book falls off a shelf in the archives and opens to a surname you are researching that has been a "brick wall" for the past 10 years. Or you are casually walking around a random cemetery (because that's what us genealogists do for fun) and come across an ancestor that was supposed to have died and been buried two counties over!

Synchronicity. It's those seemingly random things in life that come together at exact moments. They can't be rationally explained, they just are. When they happen to me with regards to my ancestors, I can't help but wonder, "Who is really running the show here?" Some ancestors really make you work at finding them, others are happy to be easily found, and then there are some that don't want to be found at all--at least not by you.

I recently wrote a blog about being tech-challenged and that I would like to become more tech-savvy. In the blog I mentioned having a hard time understanding Google + and Second Life, you can read the blog entry here. Well, oddly enough, later that day I received notification that my free "Social Media For the Wise Genealogist" class was going "live" in a few days. The class is given by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. When I attended the NGS conference in Charleston, South Carolina this past May I visited their booth. The National Institute for Genealogical Studies was offering a free internet course and I signed up for it (free is very attractive), and I figured this would be a good opportunity to see what they were all about. Then of course with all the excitement a conference brings, and life in general, I forgot about it. Once the class gets rolling I'll of course blog about it and let you know how it is going.

Synchronicity. I love it when it happens. It's fun. If you like hearing or reading about these kinds of incidents, there is a book called Psychic Roots by Henry Z Jones who writes about many genealogists who have these experiences. I've provided an affiliate link below.

So, have you ever had one of these strange incidents happen to you?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Are You Tech-Savvy Or Tech-Challenged?

Sadly I'm firmly entrenched in the tech-challenged category. I try very hard to be tech-savvy and just when I think I'm making progress, I'm reminded I'm not (sigh). I took my Mac to the Apple store yesterday for maintenance and asked about the Lion upgrade. I was told I need a Leopard before I can get a Lion. Huh? So I asked why and the guy explained it--twice. Each time my brain glazed over at about the same point and I missed the explanation. I think it has something to do with interfacing better (do I even know what that means??).

So what does this have to do with genealogy you may be wondering? Well, I think I can safely say that very few genealogists don't work on a computer. I'm always reading blogs, articles, links, or postings about the latest genealogy software, webinars, that Footnote is now Fold 3, and the various other online repositories. Then there are the social sites. I still don't understand Google + or Second Life, I've tried--it's not going very well.

Fortunately, there are some good resources (on the internet) to help me. Legacy Family Tree has a CD of  a webinar about Google + presented by Paul Allen, Dan Lynch, and Mark Olsen. Dear Myrtle has a good blog on how to figure out Second Life. Apparently, there are quite a few groups for a genealogist to attend in Second Life. Then of course, there are various bloggers who write about technology and how to keep up with it.

I've also been looking at RootsTech, a technology conference for genealogists. The next RootsTech conference will be held in Salt Lake City on February 2-4. Last year's conference was a big success. I'm seriously considering going to it. Meanwhile, I'll be watching a few webinars trying to figure out
Google +, Second Life, and how to add a few bells and whistles to my blog. I may have to watch them a couple of times.