Saturday, May 19, 2012

Society Saturday - Writing & Publishing Ideas

Are you trying to decide how to write your family history?  What format?  What to include?  How many generations?  Descendant or Ancestor based?  A personal story?  A cookbook?  A location book?

The number of ways to write about your family are endless.  There are so many varieties of books.  So, how do you decide?

This morning the Family History Society of Arizona (FHSA) held a mini-workshop about writing your family history.  Three published writers, members of FHSA, attended.  Also, books by 3 other FHSA members were available for review.  In addition, a variety of other types of books about family stories were available for the attendees. 

In the 2+ hours of this informal session, each author talked about her efforts and works.  The attendees were able to ask questions.  There was a lot of interest in the numerous ways to present research.  Also included were discussions about photos, color printing or black and white, types of fonts, number of pages, types of paper and covers, and ways to bind the books.  Some authors charged for copies; some gave the books as gifts.  Some writers gave copies of their works to libraries.  Options regarding printing were also discussed including self-printing, printing at local office-supply store, or paying a printer. 

I know that this session has inspired me to start writing on some projects and to continue writing on others.  I may actually get some books published next year. 

If any of you are interested in providing this type of session for your friends and/or society members, and have questions, please contact me.  I'd like to see more activities like this;  I believe we would all benefit.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Adoption Question

Can you help? 

How can an adopted child prove the relationship to a birth mother?  Mother and child are in contact with each other.  Neither one of them is against proving the relationship.  The birth was in Connecticut and the adopted child still lives in Connecticut. 

Suggestions?  Thank you. 

SCGS Jamboree - In THREE weeks

Three weeks from now I'll be at Jamboree in Burbank, California.  (It's sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society.)  I'm excited.  I know I'll see familiar and new faces.  It's not too late to register.  Yes, that's where you'll find all of the information.  Hope to see you!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

NGS 2012 - Day 4

A busy day started out with my getting up late.  Last night some band was playing about 3-4 blocks away on an outdoor stage.  I couldn't hear the music but I could definitely "hear" the bass sound.  Then at 11 pm fireworks because the team won.  Not being a baseball fan, I didn't even know they were playing.  Anyway, I slept in late.

But I'm so glad I didn't miss my first session.  The room was full, even at 8 am on Saturday morning.  Patricia Wells Stamm spoke on "Railroad Men and the Records They Left Behind."  Using the records may not be difficult IF you can find them.  This was a great presentation with some good references.

Next I was torn between two courses.  I attended "Indirect Evidence:  What To Do When Perry Mason Isn't on Your Side" by Harold Henderson.  Not a lot of new information here, but I loved the t-shirts on his slide that said "Department of Hints."  I often wish there was a service desk in the next room.

I ordered the CD for Elizabeth Shown Mills' "Information Overload?" and attended the session by Laura Murphy DeGrazia on "Should You Believe Your Eyes?  Sizing Up Sources and Information."  She provided some of the most concise definitions of Source, Information and Evidence that I've seen.  I would have liked the talk to be a little more at the intermediate level, but that's just me.

During and after lunch there seemed to be a lot of discussion about how uncomfortable the chairs were in the conference rooms.  Lots of us were having hip and back problems.  I don't know how these chairs were different, but it seemed like more of us were uncomfortable.  But, then there are only 2 more sessions.  I can do this.

So on the "Online State Resources for Genealogy" by Michael Hait.  Michael said he has subscriptions to all  of the major web sites, but he was going to talk about those "other" places to look.  He provided a few specific web sites but then also suggested that we look at county government web sites and reminded us that some counties have archives.  He also suggested looking at branches of county governments for possible probate and land record indexes online, and then university and public libraries.

The last session of the last day:  Rev. David McDonald filled in for another speaker who had a family emergency.  So there were no pages in the syllabus and he lost the file for this presentation.  He couldn't find it on his computer.  Well, if you think this was going to be horrible, you're wrong.  David's topic was "Top 10 Tips to Concluding Effective Research."  A syllabus was passed out that listed and explained 10 tips.  For me, this was a perfect way to end the NGS 2012 conference. A way to decide when "enough is enough." 

I'm going to have dinner, catch up (perhaps) on email, index (perhaps) a couple of batches and PACK.  I need to leave the hotel about 7 am so the packing must be done tonight. 

I have so many new ideas, and ways to be a better researcher and a better organizer and a better evaluator, etc.  And, as many of you know, there just aren't enough hours in a day or days in a week, to do it all.  But I will get started and I know I won't be sitting around "eating bon-bons" and being bored.

I hope to see you at Jamboree next month or in Las Vegas in one year. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

NGS 2012 - Day 3

It's been a long day.  Sessions were generally OK.  However, the most unexpected topic was the one that I really needed the most.  Dr. William B Saxbe, Jr spoke at 4 pm today on "How to be a Bad Genealogist."  I expected some humor.  But this session had us all in laughs for the full hour.  This was a great way to end the day.  If you ever have a chance to hear Dr. Saxbe speak on this topic, and you need a laugh, make sure to attend this session.

I didn't go to any truly crowded sessions, but I'll order CDs for them. 

While Tom Jones and Elizabeth Shown Mills had full classes in the largest room, according to some other attendees two other sessions (held in smaller rooms) also had to turn some people away.  "Pursuing your Genealogical Research in the Library of Congress without traveling to Washington, D.C." by James Sweany and John T Humphrey's "German Language Skills for the Genealogist".  Isn't it great to see the wide variety of choices?

Every time I walked by the 1940 indexing station, the computers were full.  What a great way to get more indexers.  While you index two projects, someone is right there to answer questions.   

I'm making my list of sessions for tomorrow.  I also need to get my CD order organized so I can turn it in during the morning.  The vendor hall closes at 3 tomorrow so lunch time will be my last opportunity to make sure I haven't missed anything. 

I've been talking to people who have ipads and other devices.  I'm trying to decide what I want to replace my heavy laptop while I'm traveling.  I definitely want a full-sized keyboard, since I touch type.  I'm not sure I can deal with a keyboard on the screen.  I appreciate all of the people who have shown me their "devices" and told me what they liked about then and what they might buy now, whether it is the same thing or something different.

It's time to get my two (minimum) projects indexed tonight.  Then it's to bed.  I think.  Some music is reaching my room from street level (and I'm on the 28th floor).  The front desk doesn't know where it's coming from.  I'm afraid it's going to be a late night of entertainment for others, and "secondary music" for me until after 11.  I hope not, but I'll deal with it.

Remember Las Vegas, 8-11 May, 2013.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

NGS 2012 - Day 2

Well, my choices today weren't as helpful to me as yesterday's but it was still a good day.

But I'm going to talk about dinner first.  By the way it's sort of a joke in our family that when we travel, we enjoy seeing the sights, the architecture, etc. but we come home and talk about the FOOD.  So, for those of you who know Cincinnati, I ate at Arnold's (on the patio, if that's what you call it).

I started out with "Lies and Sins of Omission" by Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens. She was pleased so see so many of us in the room at 8 am.  And she was good.  We all need to deal with lies, omission and family legend while we are researching.  Liz, as she introduced herself, showed that even though we have 4 or 5 documents that all support the same fact, that fact may not be correct.  Her example of a man whose records all claimed he was born in New Jersey, and come to find out he was naturalized at about age 23 with his father because he and his father immigrated from Ireland when he (the son) was about 3. 

Next session I crowded into a room with a few hundred other people to hear Elizabeth Shown Mills talk on "Indexes! Indexes! Indexes! . . ."  She presents her facts so "quietly" I guess you call it.  Her syllabus is concise, makes taking notes easy, and then provides us with 2 pages (1 page back to back) with all of the great examples she had provided on her slides.  Thank you so much ESM. 

The last session of the day I heard Claire Bettag speak on "Assumptions: A Genealogical Slippery Slope."  Yes, I am attending quite a few BCG Skillbuilding sessions, but that's what I think I need right now.  I wish she had spent a little less time on the actual BCG standards, but the information provided was good. 

As a side note, I really don't like to be read to.  I don't think that slides should have everything that is printed on the syllabus and that someone should be reading it to me.  I think that's overkill.  And if the speakers are reading it just so that those who buy a CD have all of the information, then perhaps we, sitting there, shouldn't have everything on our pages.  The two sessions that I haven't mentioned specifically still have a page each in the syllabus that will be helpful.  Unfortunately, neither speaker even mentioned some of this. 

Tonight I went to the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Library.  I had made a list of microfiche to look at.  Unfortunately after looking at all of the pages, there wasn't anything that helped me.  But that's OK.  The staff at the library was great.  The tables were filled:  overfilled in some cases.  Can you image all of these librarians willing to help researchers until 11:30 tonight?  And I know that some of them worked today also.  I would have looked at some books but they had to be requested and brought up from another location.  So I decided to come back to the room, sit with my feet up, and catch up on emails, blog reading and then writing this. 

NGS 2012 is half over.  Tomorrow Elizabeth Shown Mills and Tom Jones are both presenting in the morning. (No not at the same time.)  I am trying to decide whether to just purchase the CDs rather than try to crowd into the room.  When the chairs are so close together, and all the chairs are filled, it's just so difficult to take notes.  AND, if I buy the CDs then I can listen to them over and over. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

NGS 2012 - Day 1

What a great day!!

NGS 2014 will be in Richmond, Virginia.

NGS 2015 will be in St. Charles, Missouri. 

AND remember next year NGS 2013 will be in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I met the entire contingent from the FHSA (the Family History Society of Arizona).  The two of them.  I'd love to know if there are other attendees from Arizona other than George and Linda.

Today there were only three time periods for sessions.

At 11 am I was in a VERY crowded room.  Tom Jones spoke on "Strategies for Finding 'Unfindable' Ancestors".  I loved his comments about the search will be time-consuming, tedious and expensive (for travel).  He provided 4 examples, which are available in the NGS Quarterly, of how to work around this problem.  I think I liked the two comments about not expecting names to be spelled the same (I knew that, but it's good to be reminded of this fact) and that a person is more than his/her name. 

Since I was not scheduled to attend one of the luncheons I had 2 1/2 hours to visit the vendor hall.  I picked up some great ideas from the Oklahoma Historical Society booth on how to find some elusive ancestors.  I also learned more about the familysearch wiki.  I sort of understood it, but Paul Nauta spent time explaining more.  Thank you, Paul.  I briefly said hi to Lisa Louise Cooke, who sent her regards to all of us in Arizona.  (In March she was the speaker for the Family History Society of Arizona's annual meeting.) I found some wonderful old postcards at Wolf's Head Books.  A little costly, but oh, how great!  AND I sat down for about 20 minutes.  I really should go back later and look at some other states. 

The first session after lunch I was torn between Ann Fleming's "Writing with Style" and Suzanne Adams "Paradigm Shifts When Searching Online Genealogical Records."  Both had great pages in the syllabus.  (And I really appreciate that.  I definitely don't like to see syllabus pages that are in prose or that are double spaced just to take up space.)  I went to the writing session.  I learned that I need to make a style sheet for each project that I am writing and I need to be CONSISTENT.  Even if it's wrong.  Ann also reminded us that even if we intend to write "Just for our family" when it's out of our hands we really don't know where it will be.  I wonder how many authors of family histories knew that there works would be in libraries of various types all over the country. 

My last session today was "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: The Evidence Presented Clearly Shows..." by Barbara Vines Little.  I've never attended a session of hers.  In fact, I don't know if I ever heard of her or have seen her on another conference schedule.  WELL, NOW when I see her on the schedule I will definitely consider her presentations.  She was great!  Now, this was at the end of the day.  The room was warm.  The room was CROWDED!!  And she's explaining the difference between a list-style proof summary, a narrative-style proof summary and a proof arguments.  I'm quite sure no one went to sleep.  What a lot of information in one short hour.

After a quick dinner I walked to the Cincinnati-Harrison County Library. Wednesday nights it is open until 9 pm.  I know that tomorrow night it will be open for conference attendees until late (11:30 pm) but that's past my bedtime.  I was curious what resources they had that may help me with my research.  I think there were probably 40+ attendees in the genealogy section and as I left at least seven more were entering. 

After walking back to the hotel, instead of writing this blog, or deciding what sessions I want to attend tomorrow, OR indexing, I looked at the catalog for the library and made a list (a long list) of items to look at tomorrow night.  Well, perhaps I'll have to stay up past my bedtime.

Yes.  A great first day at NGS 2012 in Cincinnati.

NGS - I met Kimberly Powell

How could I forget to mention that I introduced myself to Kimberly Powell last night?  For those of you (only a FEW I hope) who don't know about, it's a great place to find information regarding almost anything about genealogy research.  And I love all of the ideas for organization.  Sorry Kimberly for interrupting dinner last night, but I was so pleased to see you in person.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

1940 Census - Arbitration

First, I am an arbitrator.  YES, one of THOSE who don't "like" your indexing.  That's not true.  It's just that I need to make a decision between two different points of view.  I don't make decisions on anything that doesn't already have a conflict. (Two indexers who don't agree.)

I also index.  AND, I was corrected because I didn't put in the county for the township that was listed in the residence.  WELL, there was NO county listed.  Yes, I could have looked it up.  YES I even knew it.  But I believe the indexing instructions say that I'm not supposed to add additional information.

THEN, I was also marked incorrect because what was written as the county was misspelled.  Obviously the other indexer just copied the spelling.  And so did the arbitrator.  I typed in the correct spelling of the county according to an atlas and google wikipedia.  So what is going to be published?  I asked for a review. 

NO there shouldn't be a "war" between indexers and arbitrators, no matter which side of the "war' you are are.  But we need to work together and try to get published the best information online to help us and others with research.

My request?  Indexers and Arbitrators:  READ the instructions:  Read them again in ONE week.  Read them AGAIN in TWO weeks.  I'm definitely not saying, or implying that I don't make mistakes.  But PLEASE don't correct me for a spelling that is correct, just because the enumerator didn't spell the county correctly.

NGS - Familysearch dinner for bloggers

First, I received an invitation to this dinner because I am a blogger (sort of?)  Anyway, I received a tech pad.  I'm not a tech person but it's this neat device to keep all those cords in one place.  You know:  those that go with all of our tech devices.  Thank you, familysearch.

Now, am I there under false pretenses?  I don't blog regularly.  I don't often write about events and I almost never ("never say never") write about products.  But I was at this lovely dinner. 

The most fun was the bloggers I sat with and the stuff I heard.  Another Karen but she's from Ohio:  Then Ruth Blair  from Ontario, Canada,  She mentioned that copyright laws are different in Canada.  We often forget about that.  Then Julia Langel at

I talked "briefly" with Dick Eastman.  Well, I reminded him that he had come to Arizona for the 2011 Family History Society of Arizona annual meeting. 

I also met a woman who is real:  Kimberly Powell.  I've been recommending her web site/blog for years.  It's  In my opinion (and of course this entire blog is my opinion), it's one of the best sites for information, particularly for beginners.  But researchers of all levels can benefit from her site.

I learned about becoming a blog ambassador.  I signed up a few minutes ago. 

Now for the really exciting part.

Did you know that has historical record collections from over 60 countries?  And, one of the newer collections will be the 1802-1940 Civil Registrations from Italy will eventually be online with images and then indexes with an agreement between familysearch and Italy.  WOW!! 
Daily, there are about 10,000 volunteers online to answer patron questions in 13 languages and sometimes as many as 17 or 18.  WOW!!!
More than 650 societies have registered to help with indexing the 1940 census.  (Family History Society of Arizona is one of them.  Thank you!!)  What's really amazing is that a little over 30% of all  of the 1940 census records have been indexed in 37 days.  If we continue at this rate, the entire 1940 census may be indexed in July.  We really need to keep working.  Don't slow down just because the initial excitement is over. 
Now, this may not seem quite as exciting as the 1940 census project, but family search has plans to add more and more images to their web site.  And you all know what that means.  Indexing! INDEXing!!  INDEXING!!!  When we finish the 1940 census we will want to continue our efforts.  After all, the more indexed records, the easier we will find records what may include our ancestors.

So, thank you  Thank you to my dinner companions.  And a special thank you to all of you who help make those records searchable.

NGS - I'm in Cincinnati

Yes, I arrived.  I'm in my room; have internet connection with ethernet cable (that's OK).  I picked up my registration bag.  This is my first NGS conference but I've attended 2 FGS and 2 Jamborees.

Now decisions!!

Fortunately tomorrow only has 3 time periods to make decisions for.

The vendor hall opens at 9:30 and the first session starts at 11.  But first there is the Opening Session (AT 8).  Oh, well.  I wasn't planning on much sleep any way.
I'm going to try to get into "Strategies for Finding 'Unfindable' Ancestors" by Thomas Jones at 11.  But then there is also "The Family Tapestry: Integrating Proof Arguments into the Genealogical Narrative" by James Bloom, and then two more that aren't going to be recorded by Lisa Louise Cooke and Josh Taylor.  Now what?

Unfortunately during the afternoon 2 hours I have 4+ sessions that I'd like to attend during each hour.  I'll order CDs, but which ones?  And how many?  Have I reached 10 already?  I get a discount if I order 10.  Does that mean 10 a day?  :) 

I'll try to write tomorrow night and let you know.  But I'm excited.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

NGS 2012 Cincinnati - 3 days

Only three days until NGS starts.  I'm already in Kentucky, just 100+ miles south.  I've been traveling and haven't had daily access to the internet (BooHoo), and I don't have a printer with me, so I am not organized in the same way as before other conferences.  We'll see how it goes.  BUT, I'm looking forward to seeing friends, making new ones, getting ideas to help get through those "brick walls" AND, naturally, improve my documentation, etc. etc. 

See you in 3 days.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Zane Grey AND Jess Severs

Do you have any OLD Zane Grey books?  Do they have the name Jess Severs written in the front, in a woman's hand?  If so, I'd love to hear from you. 

The family story is that my grandfather Jess Severs loved Zane Grey books and bought some and my grandmother wrote his name in the front.  I'm trying to locate one, or more.  Please let me know.  Thank you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Who Else? Early Marriages Amongst Neighbors

During this past few days my husband Walt and I have been driving in Maryland and Virginia.  Driving south on Route 13 from Salisbury we noticed how far apart homes were (even now).  It reminded me why we often find future spouses, or inlaws, near our ancestors.  Even with a car, it took time to get from one drive to the next. 

With the 1940 census out, still not everyone had cars, or traveled very far.  We still need to check out neighborhoods.  But we also need to check not just the names on the same page, but also those a few pages before or after our ancestors, keeping in mind how the enumerators went around one block before starting another. 

Just things to remember.