Saturday, December 18, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Zoar Lutheran Church, Colorado County, Texas

There are many examples of people putting church records online. This not only provides access to the records by those interested in the names they contain but also archives them digitally. In some cases those records might be digitized and in others they may be transcribed. The following example shows the importance of checking the websites of public libraries for local history information they may have available online.

An example of transcribed records can be found on a page for the Nesbitt Memorial Library in Columbus,  Texas (Colorado county). The Zoar Lutheran Church Baptism, Marriage, Death, and Other Records, 1905-1973 is a transcription of records left behind by this church. This church discontinued services in 1951 and thereafter only continued as the Zoar Cemetery Association. According to the website, after the closing of the church, members went to congregations in Columbus, Cat Spring and Sealy. The names of those buried in the cemetery are online. Click here to see the list.

You can see a list of other records available from the Nesbitt Memorial Library here. This list includes additional church records.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Do You Have a Genealogy Learning Plan?

It is a relief to hear that everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
                -----Irma Rombauer 1936 Edition of  The Joy of Cooking

Teachers create learning plans for the school year. These plans includes all of the activities that students are going to participate in and accomplish in various subjects. The purpose of the plan is to give some structure but also help track progress.

It is my belief  that genealogy requires lifelong learning. Between the technological advancements and the multitude of resources that can help your research, genealogy is a pursuit that requires constant learning. We are lucky in that there are many ways to pursue this learning including books, magazines, newsletters, online classes (both free and fee based), conferences, workshops and genealogy societies.

So what's on your genealogical learning plan this year?  As you plan out what you will learn think about what your skills are and how they need improving. Consider what your brick walls are and what would help you break them down. Is there research you haven't tackled because you are unsure how to start researching in a foreign country? Even if you think you are an advanced researcher, life-long learning is essential.

My plan in 2010 included attending conferences, using my mp3 player to listen to podcasts and conference talks, and reading books, newsletters, journals and magazines. As you think about your genealogical goals for 2011 don't forget to include your continuing education.

Here are just a few suggestions to consider.  This is not an exhaustive list.

FamilySearch Online Classes

Genealogy Podcasts

National Genealogical Society

Federation of Genealogical Society

Family History Expos

BYU Genealogy Conferences

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy

Genealogy Books on WorldCat

JAMB recordings from Genealogy Conferences

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Thank You is in Order

I wanted to take a few minutes to say thank you. First a thank you to fellow blogger Alanna Fant of the Confessions of a Gene-a-holic blog for awarding me the Ancestor Approved award.  I have known Alanna for about a year through GenealogyWise and appreciate her thinking of me.

Second, I was surprised to learn this week that this blog was nominated for the Family Tree Magazine's Top 40 Genealogy Blogs. I want to let the person or people who nominated know that I appreciate it greatly and am humbled by even being nominated. Sometimes I think as a blogger you may wonder if anyone reads anything you write. It's nice to know that someone does read it and even likes it!

You can read more about the Top 40 nominations and the other bloggers honored at the Genealogy Insider blog.

Once again, thank you so very much.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finding Resources at Your Local Friends of the Library Bookstore

I think we all know that I love books. Hardbacks, paperbacks, audiobooks, ebooks, I love them all. And because I love them all I am always looking for a good buy. One of the great places to find books that can help your genealogical research is your local Friends of the Library Bookstore.

Most Friends of the Library groups have some sort of book sale whether it's a yearly sale or a nook in the library with books or a whole store of books. Near my home, I am lucky in that the library actually has a Friends bookstore that is a large store in a strip mall. Now, why is this important to genealogy?

Opportunities to look through used books can be helpful in allowing you to find everything from how-to books, to social history books, to even local history books. On my trip yesterday with my fellow genealogy blogger/presenter  Madaleine Laird I picked up A Day At A Time: The Diary Literature of American Women from 1764 to the Present by Margo Culley, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the Century New York by Kathy Peiss and The Belles of New England: The Women of the Textile Mills and the Families Whose Wealth They Wove by William Moran. These social history books will allow me to learn more about women in the era and locality that these books study. That knowledge will then help me know more about the lives that my female ancestors lived. Social history is an important aspect of enhancing your knowledge of your ancestor's daily life.

I also picked up the 1972 book Genealogical Research: A Jurisdictional Approach by Arlene H Eakle, Vincent L Jones and Mildred H Christensen.  You may be wondering why in the world would I pick up a how-to book from the early 1970s. Well I believe that even with an older book on genealogy you can still learn something. Although the methods we use to find information may be different today because of technology, the research techniques and resources they discuss are still important in today's research. I agree with the forward to this book written by Rulon T. Burton, "The early telephone was not as fully perfected as the phone of today, yet the principals discovered by Alexander Graham Bell remain the same." I know Arlene and respect her greatly. Already, I have found some interesting resources that I want to check out that are discussed in this book. At the bargain price of $1.00 this book was a great buy.

And even though I picked up some great books, I also left behind some that would help other genealogists.  One book was about Polish people in California and provided biographies. What a great buy for someone with Polish ancestry. Another was about working women in Italy,  in case you have any black sheep in your family.

As you research your family, don't forget the value of Friends bookstores. It is through the donations of others that you may find a book that will help you better understand your ancestors and their lives.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Amish Resources at the Library of Congress

This week I spent some time watching the online video, The Library of Congress: Pursuing Your Family History in the National Library. This video is free and available from the Online Classes section of the Family Search website. I highly recommend watching these videos.

One of the resources from the Library of Congress is a web page from the Journeys and Crossings series that details what resources they have for Amish Resources. This page includes listings of books, periodicals and websites. There is even a webcast with a history of the Amish.

You can peruse more of the Library of Congress Journeys and Crossings pages by clicking here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Where's the Pepper?

For about two months I have not been able to find the pepper shaker. I always place it in the same spot on a bottom shelf in one of the kitchen cabinets. But one day it just disappeared. I basically gave up looking for it since I couldn't find it and decided to just use the pepper in the spice jar that I fill the pepper shaker from.

Well, yesterday I found it. It was where I always put it, on the bottom shelf of the cabinet, but it was behind the slim piece or wood that divides the cabinet. The wood was just big enough to obscure the pepper.

When this happened, of course it reminded me of genealogy. Do you ever have those times when you can't find something and you look and look and then you give up? After awhile, maybe someone suggests a website or maybe you look again for grandma and you find her in a database where you have looked so many times before. Why does this happen?  Well I'm not completely sure but I think we sometimes are blinded and we need a break from the research, to talk with someone with different research experiences or to try searching in a new way.

So here's some ideas when you are stuck, to help you find what you are looking for.

Ask Someone What They Think. Now there is no doubt that asking another genealogist for help can be beneficial. This can be done at a genealogy society meeting or on a surname mailing list. In my previous job working on GenealogyWise we had many members ask for help in the chat room. I recommend all of these options but also don't negate the importance of asking a non-genealogist what they think. When I was working on finding information from the Final Pay Voucher for my great-uncle who fought in World War II, my dad, a non-genealogist was vital. He had been in the military so he could help me with some of the military jargon. He loves studying about World War II so that was beneficial as we looked at the battles his uncle took part in. Notice how when you watch the History Detectives that they ask all sorts of experts what they think about a case they are working on? That is something that would benefit the work of genealogists.

Stop Falling in the Same Holes. Have you ever heard that saying that insanity is when you keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results?  Well if you are conducting your research in the same way and not finding anything there could be a reason. If you are searching online, try to search on various keywords. We assume that our ancestor went by his/her first and last name the way we want to spell it. Or that they or no one else ever used initials. If you are searching for John Smith then try J. Smith, Jno Smith and various ways to spell Smith. I realize he may not have spelled his name differently than S-M-I-T-H but someone who filled out the document you seek may have. If you search genealogy subscription sites the same way every time, try something different. Search on just the record type you need or  browse the records in a database.Yes, it takes longer but you might find something was misindexed. Finally, step away from the computer and go to a library or archive. Use interlibrary loan. Try something different. It's like how they use to say on the TV show the X Files, "the truth is out there."  Your ancestral truth is out there it just may not be on the Internet.

Research a Different Line. Sometimes it's best to take a break from researching a particular family line and start working on a different one. First, When you stop working on a particular problem you sometimes come up with the solution. Sort of like when you lose something, and you can't find it. But when you wake up the next day you suddenly remember where it is. Second, by researching a different line you may learn new research techniques and sources that will help you in your overall research.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

It's Love All Over Again: Google eBooks

I have written before of my love of Google Books. Simply, Google Books is one of the best genealogy websites, that is not a genealogy website, that you can use.

Now, life has gotten even better with the advent of Google eBooks which allows you to download books to your computer, eReader (except for Kindle) or iPod/iPad. Yes, there are books that you pay for to download but there are also free books. There are 3 million books to peruse as of its launch yesterday.

So why is this important?  Well first, the selection includes numerous family history/surname books that are available for free. You can also purchase, at a discount, some genealogical how-to mainstays. I spent last night downloading 20 free books that will help me in a project I am working on. The books look great on my iPad and it provides me one more way to carry my library with me when I go out to research. Digitized books provide convenience in that you can take numerous books with you wherever you go.

Downloading the app took seconds.  I simply connected the iPad to my computer and had selected the download app button from the Google eBooks website. That in turn opened up the app on iTunes and allowed me to download it onto the iPad. I then started playing with it, searching  for books I wanted to download. The search engine did not always work as I expected. I even had a few times where I searched on the same phrase and got entirely different results. There is no advanced search feature like with other Google products. But since it was the first day of this new product I would assume there may be some issues.

Some features I think would be helpful include the ability to easily return to your search results page instead of the site's homepage when you buy a book. It would be nice to be taken back to your search in case you wanted to buy more books in that category. It would also be nice to be shown the book's table of contents when you are looking at a book and deciding whether to buy it. However, you are able to download a free sample of the book which allows you to read some of the book first. I use this a lot with my Kindle and plan on doing the same with Google eBooks.

Google eBooks, the website on your computer, is synched with the Google eBooks app you have on your mobile device. So the books I added on my iPad are shown on my computer. This is another reason for having a Google account which is free and only requires an email address and password. So your reading is in the cloud, thus allowing you to access it anywhere.  (This is also true for other eReader devices).

I highly recommend you check out Google eBooks. Even if you don't want to purchase digitized books, check out what free books are available that may help you with your genealogy research.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Family History Cultures and Faiths by Michael Gandy

At the NGS conference in April of this year, I picked up quite a few books from the various booths in the vendor hall. One of the vendors was selling book published by the UK National Archives. I bought several of their books in an effort to learn more about English research.

One of the books I purchased was  Family History: Cultures and Faiths by Michael Gandy.  This book focuses on the records of different religious groups in England and how to find the records they left behind. The National Archives bookstore website says this of the book,

"For centuries, the patterns of our ancestors’ lives were shaped by traditions of culture and faith, and they left a rich legacy of documents, registers and possessions. This wide-ranging guide shows how to use religious records of life’s milestones – such as christening, confirmation, marriage and burial – in family history research, drawing on material in the National Archives and elsewhere. It covers the diverse faiths of Britain – Church of England, Catholic, Noncomformist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and others – and suggests the best sources for each, from the earliest records to more recent times."

"Full of practical advice for all levels of experience, the book offers solutions for common problems and advice on how to find out more. It also explores how and where communities maintained their beliefs, from celebrations and festivals to religious buildings and schools."

This book is really a must have for those with English ancestors.  This very readable reference provides you the information you need regarding  what religious records are available and how to find them. It gives you the knowledge you need to conduct an exhaustive search and almost as importantly, what records are not available so you don't waste your time. The great part of the book is the history it covers so you fully understand why some religious records exist. A bibliography for further reading is also included. I would suggest that if all you know about English research is that you should research parish records, you need to get a copy of this book.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Arsenic: It's not Just for Rats in the 19th Century

Sears, Roebuck and Co. 1909 Catalog. New York City: Ventura Books. 1979
I read with interest Miriam Midkiff's post entitled The Strange Tale of Uzza Robbins; or His One Hanging, Two Murders, Three Exhumations and Four Burials on her blog AnceStories. Simply, it is the tale of her ancestor who killed two family members and tried to kill a third. One of the tools he used was arsenic.

In the 19th century arsenic was easily accessible as a rat poisoning. One could go buy some with the excuse that they had rats in their barn or somewhere else. Quite a few women killed their loved ones or others with arsenic. One of the more famous cases was immortalized in the play/movie Arsenic and Old Lace.  A recent book about the real story behind the fictionalized version is The Devil's Rooming House: The True Story of America's Deadliest Female Serial Killer. The true story is one where greed played a large factor.

Women were familiar with arsenic for another reason. They used it to better their complexion. The above advertisement is from a reproduction of a Sears catalog from 1909 that I recently bought from a used book sale (page 382).  The advertisement  tells women that "By taking them according to directions, a clear, dainty, transparent and altogether beautiful complexion is possible." It goes on to say "Dr. Rose's splendid tabules produce a transparent and pellucid complexion. The effect of these arsenous tabules upon the skin and muscular tissues of the body is to drive out  impurities, banish unnatural oiliness and give a transparent texture and beauty." This beauty aid came in the form of a wafer which you ate. Of course your complexion took on a whole new look if you ate too many.

Arsenic was not only ingested for beauty's sake but for other reasons as well including the belief that it helped men. (I will let you guess what it helped men with; life has not changed that much throughout history). just came out with a new collection of Sears catalogs.  You can conduct a keyword search and find other instances of arsenic sold as a beauty aid, condition powder for cattle and a homeopathic remedy.

Makes you wonder about our ancestors. It would be interesting to know how many of our ancestors used arsenic for activities other than poisoning rats.  It also makes me wonder what poisons we are ingesting that generations from now our descendants will think are strange.