Friday, October 30, 2009

Memories of Halloween

What was Halloween like when you were a kid? I remember more homemade costumes than store bought ones. We used some imagination when thinking of what we should go as and then once we decided on something we raided our parent's clothes and mom's makeup. We lived in a trailer park when I was young which was always fun at Halloween because the club house would be transformed into a Haunted House and we had tons of houses to trick or treat at. We freely roamed around since we were fairly isolated from busy streets.

The experience of Halloween may differ from one generation to the next but it is a common experience most of us share. My children's experience of Halloween is somewhat different than mine but I'm sure we all have the same goal as children-getting the largest amount of candy! It is an experience that your kids and grandkids would be interested in hearing more about. Wondering what you should write about when doing your life story? Talk about these everyday experiences that your descendants can understand. I would love to hear what my grandmother dressed up as or any traditions she started with her children.

Halloween is a time for decorations, candy, trick or treating, harvest festivals, pumpkin carving, caramel apples and more.

How did you celebrate Halloween as a kid? Maybe there's some kids that would like to hear about your life at their age.

If you would like to see more vintage Halloween art, check out,

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Church Record Sunday: Ellen G. White

This weekend was a conference that centered around Ellen G White (1827-1915), the co founder of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Ellen G White is an important figure in 19th century American religion and in American religion as a whole.

The Seventh-day Adventist church was founded in America in the 19th century at the the same time as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Church of Christ, Scientist.

Information from the conference will be published in a book, scheduled to come out in summer 2010. You can learn more about the participants in this conference at

If you are interested in learning more about Ellen G White and the beginnings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, try a Google Scholar search, or a Google Book search, For those with early Seventh-day Adventist ancestors, learning more and reading the writings of the early church will provide a better understanding of your ancestor's life.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Church Record Sunday: Disciples of Christ Historical Society

The Disciples of Christ Historical Society website provides a state by state inventory of microfilmed church records as well as an online catalog of books and archival materials.

By going to the website and clicking on “Congregational Material on Microfilm,”, you can then choose from a pull down menu the locality you are interested in. The records cover the United States, Canada, and England. The site has a research request form where you can learn more about research services and prices,

Their online catalog of books, pamphlets, photographs and other materials can also be searched from their website at The home page for the online catalog even features some search tips.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Plagiarism in the Genealogy Community

As I write this I am somewhat hesitant. You see, I am the kind of person that usually keeps to myself and doesn’t make waves. I don’t like for anyone to feel bad. So I tend to try to choose my words carefully, though I don’t always succeed. I write the following not as an indictment of anyone but more of a suggestion at looking how we write and publish content. I’m looking to start a dialogue so other genealogists can share suggestions for how they have dealt with this issue.

Many of us remind our audiences of the importance of citing our sources, but we usually mean to say “cite your sources when you research your family tree.” There are books about source citations, online guides, and computer programs to help you properly cite sources when you research and write up your results. But what about when you produce presentation handouts, newsletter articles, blog content and such?

It’s no surprise that when you have a semi public persona, people are going to ‘lift’ your intellectual property. That’s the risk that one runs when you post content to blogs, websites and social networking sites. Some of my fellow geneabloggers have posted warnings about blogs that steal content. Usually these are blogs that are, for lack of a better understanding on my part, robotic in that they are mining for data that they can post and take credit for. These warnings are done so that we can protect our intellectual property.

But it is in the last few months that I and some of my fellow members in the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists (SCCAPG) have noticed another type of plagiarism. Plagiarism that involves other genealogists, authors and societies taking from the work of a fellow genealogist and passing it off as their own.

For clarification sakes, what is plagiarism? Two definitions that can be found by googling the phrase, “define: plagiarism” are:

a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work
the act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own

Three of our SCCAPG members have had such recent experiences as having handouts, blog postings, articles and presentations copied without permission.

Now, there is no doubt in my mind that we all write on similar topics within genealogy-it’s bound to happen that an article you may write might be the same topic that a fellow blogger wrote about a month ago. We all have varying genealogical interests and we all have different points of view. I like to see what other bloggers/ presenters have to say about topics I have written or presented on. I like to see someone else’s different point of view.

That’s not what I am addressing here. I am talking about when your content is copied either verbatim or with just a few words modified. In some cases it may not be plagiarism but, permission still needs to be give. I have had situations where societies have taken articles I wrote, did give me credit, and published them in their newsletter. I don’t mind societies, association and others using my work when they credit me, but in some situations because of publishing contracts, I did not own the rights for that work to be reprinted. So the group was not so much infringing on my right as they were my publisher. Something they did not know-because they did not ask.

The California State Genealogical Alliance Newsletter (Vol. 27, Number 5 September-October 2009) has a front page article by Cath Madden Trindle on Plagiarism this month. Cath’s article, Notes on Plagiarism, states,

In the educational world, plagiarism is considered to be academic fraud which can lead to censure for professors and researchers and anything from no credit to an assignment or loss of class credit to expulsion for students. In the journalistic world a reporter might be suspended or fired if he is found guilty of plagiarism.

The genealogical world seldom sees such repercussions. Only in particularly flagrant cases do we see censure for the use of another’s research.”

Cath goes on with an example of using other people’s family trees posted online, but I think her point could also be applied to other genealogical writings.

I’m not writing this to point the finger at anyone, I’m merely writing it as a suggestion. As we publish our thoughts, research and other content for the world to see, we need to cite our sources. Citing sources isn’t just for our family history research it’s for our writings also. It’s not just a matter of being professional; it’s a matter of respect.

At SCCAPG we are working on some remedies in the form of a position paper and recommendations for other genealogists. I would welcome your thoughts on this topic so that we may assist the entire genealogical community.

Stones, Bones, and Ancient Tomes

Tomorrow is the Corona (California) Genealogy Society 3rd Annual Event, Stones, Bones, and Ancient Tomes.

This is a great society that has a wonderful event scheduled with information tables, presentations, and genealogical door prizes.

Here is what's new for this year's event:

Display table for historic Riverside County, including the annual Sunnyslope Cemetery Stroll (scheduled for 25 Oct), hosted by Diane S. Wright & Kathleen Dever

Explanation of the 2010 Census - hosted by Mary Anne Vincent

Professional genealogist Mara Fein hosting a table on doing Jewish genealogy research

Display and demonstrations about music and period instruments and how they were employed by our ancestors, hosted by Jean & Butch Hibben

WorldVitalRecords table, hosted by Gena Philibert Ortega, representative for WVR & the new GenealogyWise social networking website

Presentations include:

The Corona Genealogical Society Overview - Debbie Stuckert, CGS founding member
Beginning Family History - Len Enlow, CGS founding member
How to Use WorldVitalRecords - Gena Ortega, professional genealogist
Corona Family History Center - Jim Miller, FHC director
The 2010 Census - Mary Anne Vincent, CGS VP & Census worker
Library Resources for Genealogy - Corona Public Library staff member

I will be there to answer questions about WorldVitalRecords and GenealogyWise. I'm even bringing a door prize...

To learn more, check out their website at,

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Church Record Sunday: Google Groups

One way to find more information about the religious group that your ancestor was a member of is to network. There are many ways to network on the Internet including email, websites, social network sites and message boards. One way to network on the Internet is to start a message group. You can easily start one in a matter of minutes, using Google Groups.

Google Groups,, provides users a place to discuss a variety of topics. By typing the keyword ‘genealogy’ in the search engine you can see what groups are currently available. Once you are in the genealogy section of Google Groups, the various groups are indexed by region, language, number of members, and days since last posting.

To participate in a group or to start one, you will need a Google Account. You will be prompted for one when you go to Google Groups. To sign up for a Google Account is as simple as providing your email address and a password. This Google Account is good for many Google services such as Blogger, Gmail, Google Analytics, Google Reader and more. Once you have a Google Account, you will use it for all Google applications.

Once you sign in to Google Groups you may want to check out several group pages to get an idea of how other individuals and organizations have used their Google Group. Overall, Google Groups is easy to use and basically involves choosing a name and inviting others to be a part of your group. Make sure to take the tour of Google Groups to learn more about it before starting your group.

This is a great way to start a dialogue between you and other family members and researchers. You can ask questions about an ancestor’s religion and open it up to all the members. This is also a great way to collaborate and ultimately enhance your research.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Additional Tips for Using Google

Tomorrow I am speaking to the San Diego Genealogy Society about Using Google for your Genealogy.

Google is a great free tool with so many applications. Really talking about Google could be an all day seminar. Google is much more than just a search engine.

Although I sent out the handout for this presentation to the society earlier in the month, the following are some additional thoughts and some websites that might be of interest to other genealogists.


Using Google: Additional Tips


Sign up for Google Account (free) to access all of Google like Gmail, Google Docs, Blogger, etc.

Look at the top toolbar, on the Google homepage, to see all that Google offers and then click on ‘more’ and ‘even more’

Make use of the Advanced Search option to narrow your results, but first try a “broader search” and then narrow it done by using place or date.

Use Google Alerts to search a surname, ancestor’s name, a locality, or a topic.

Use Google Reader to keep track of information in newspapers and blogs.

Go through the ‘even more’ section and see what applications might be of use to you.


Google Your Family Tree

Google Blog

Unofficial Google Blog

Genealogy Search Help Google

Easy Google Genealogy Searcher (Ancestor Search)

Genealogy Gems Podcast

* Lisa has many videos on GenealogyWise and YouTube that explain different ways to use Google.

Google Genealogy Style by Kimberly Powell

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Video of Anne Frank

Like many young girls, I read the Diary of Anne Frank and watched the movie several times. As a pre-teen, her story was so compelling to me and how her words lived on to tell her story even 30+ years after her death. I was horrified at how her life was cut so short. Her story made me want to learn more about a time that was so, thankfully, different than my own.

Now you can see a short, soundless, black and white video of her at

For me this is extraordinary, to see real video footage of Anne to go along with what we know of her already. But it also has a bigger significance to all genealogists.

Anne Frank is a historical figure who is studied by school age children, historians and others. Researchers read her diary, pour over manuscripts and the history that informs her story. So you would think that very little new information would be left to study.

But there is always something, and that is true for your ancestors. I'm sorry, but you have not hit a brickwall if all you have looked at is Internet sources. You need to look for documents and manuscripts located in libraries, museums, courthouses, churches and archives. You need to study all aspects of your ancestor's life not just their birth/marriage/and death. Yes, this could be a lot of work and a lifelong pursuit but it is through thorough, ongoing research that you truly learn about your ancestor.

Because who knows, maybe a picture or a video or even a document will turn up at some point, providing you with even more clues about your ancestor's life. But the only way you will find it is if you keep looking.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Social History Saturday: Ellis Island Photographs

The New York Public Library has a fascinating digital collection, Ellis Island Photographs from the Collection of William Williams, Commissioner of Immigration, 1902-1913 at

This collection really gives you a feel for the experience of seeing Ellis Island as it was in the early 20th century. It also provides a glimpse of the immigrants coming through, in their native costume.

Whether your ancestor came through Ellis Island or not, this collection provides you with a glimpse of the life of early 20th century immigrant which can only help as you search for your immigrant ancestors.