Showing posts with label Columns: Tuesday's Tip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Columns: Tuesday's Tip. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday's Tip - Volunteer to Index the 1940 Census

What a week it has been. On April 2, the 1940 U.S. Census was released amid great excitement! I found the entire process amazing ~ I watched the opening ceremony streamed live from the National Archives.  I thought each of the speakers did an excellent job of describing the importance of the census and placing it in the context of our recent history. I especially loved the comment that when the census was taken "we were in the grip of the Great Depression and on the cusp of World War II."

Prior to the release of the census images, the genealogy community was awash in webinars, seminars, blog posts, newspaper articles, and television spots that described the process undertaken to:

  • digitize the census from the original microfilm rolls (all I can say from my prior experience with microfilm is thank you so very much),
  • provide those images to the companies that would upload it on day one,
  • acquire the 3.9 scanned image pages and upload them to host company servers,
  • put together photographs, historical timelines, location summaries, migration patterns, and search functions all in interactive on-site displays for the public, 
  • draft programs to encourage volunteers to sign up to index the census, and 
  • in another truly amazing example of generosity and brilliance by Professors Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub (and their unsung band of volunteers) come up the one-step tools to locate enumeration districts to find people in the census both before and after the indexes have been completed. 

It seems that on April 2 everyone and their brother went online through the National Archives and its partners (the 1940 US Census Community Project sponsored by Archives, FamilySearch and FindMyPast, together with several Society sponsors including the NGS, FGS and APG) or to the unaffiliated sites, Ancestry and MyHeritage, in order to find their families on the 1940 Census. The various sites were understandably overloaded with many of us "chomping at the bit" to explore the census images. From the outset I decided to check out a census image or two just "to be part of history," and then index whatever was in the que until the census images became available. I saw some images from Delaware and that gave me my 1940 Census fix. To tell you the truth, it never occurred to me that census indexing would be up and running that first day. I spent an hour indexing World War I Draft Registration Cards from New Jersey and then, to my surprise, in the evening I indexed my first batch of Delaware images.

I had signed up for DearMyrtle's 1940 U.S. Census Images and Indexing Updates hosted by RootsMagic. I attended four of the five evenings ~ what a great experience that was! DearMyrtle had all of the players on her webinar each night. If you did not attend you can play catch-up by checking out the link to the webinars. We received lots of tips and tricks, best practices, and hints for using the census tools and incorporating the census results with our genealogy database programs. We also got to hear from those who found family members and shared their stories.

In my opinion it was all good and it was a great week for genealogy! However, I was absolutely amazed at some of comments that were posted on the various websites the first few days. Specifically:

  • where is the index for these images?
  • why can't I find my family in the census?
  • why do the pages load so slowly?
  • why wasn't my state uploaded until [fill in the date]?
  • when will my state be indexed? 
  • how I am supposed to find the address for my family in 1940?
  • why does the one-step program require so much information?
  • where are the citations to the census?, and the ever popular 
  • why didn't those companies plan better [together with helpful tips on how they would have done it faster]?
What do all of those comments have in common? Well, I think they all sound ungrateful and entitled! I was embarrassed and disappointed in the genealogical community and the general public for jumping on the blamestorming bandwagon. My response to all those comments is ~ let's all adopt an attitude of gratitude

Do you realize what an amazing accomplishment it was to digitize, release, upload, and make available the 1940 U.S. Census on the day of its official release? Do you realize that you can view these census images for free in the comfort of your own home (if you have Internet access) or from the comfort of you local library or community center? Do you realize that because the National Archives partnered with Archives, FamilySearch and FindMyPast, the U.S. Census Community Project will host the census images and, when it is completed, provide an every name index all for free to you and me?  

So, how are you going to express your attitude of gratitude? I suggest you join with me and index the 1940 U.S. Census. I am a volunteer with the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project and you can be one too! Just follow the link, sign up,watch the tutorial, download the program, and start indexing! You can see the list of participating societies (since most of my family was in Washington in 1940 I signed up and designated the Seattle Genealogical Society). Most societies have blogs and through the Community Project there are contests each week for indexers. It is easy, fun and a nice way to give back or "pay it forward" to all of those who indexed the earlier censuses that so many of us have relied upon. Why not give it a go?

April is National Volunteer Month and I think this is a great opportunity for those of us in the genealogy community to join this volunteer effort. As of this morning there are 21 states available for indexing. I have been indexing through the Community Project for 10 days and index for about an hour early each morning.   I have indexed a total of 1200 names on population schedules from Delaware, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, and Virginia. So far I have a 98% agreement rate! Why not join the rest of us and the every name index will be finished in record time!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday's Tip ~ Be Grateful, Listen & Share

Digital Art by Simon Howden  - Thanks!

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, to join together in making that perfect meal with old favorites and new experiments.  We make grocery lists, shop for ingredients, get out the nice linen and good china, set a beautiful table, and organize the meal from carving time backward.  It all comes together mid-afternoon and, at least in our household, something is always left in the oven (usually the rolls)!

Thanksgiving is a great holiday because it is all about sharing a meal and enjoying each other's company (whether you are seated at the "adults' table" or the "kids' table").  Thanksgiving would not be complete in our household without football games on television during the day and White Christmas on television in the evening.

This year, in addition to any traditions your family already enjoys, I would like to suggest three more:

  • Express your gratitude to our military this Thanksgiving ~ both our active duty service personnel and their families who serve right along with them.  One percent of our population is shouldering the responsibility for the other ninety-nine percent of us who have not been directly affected by The Iraq War (2003-current) and the War in Afghanistan (2001-current) .  Let us express our gratitude to these hardworking families who provide us with the safety and security to live our lives not only with words but also with deeds.

  • We all have people in our lives who have served as role models and for whom we are grateful.  This Thanksgiving ~ take some time to listen to and record the stories of your parents, aunts & uncles, and grandparents.  Friday, November 25th is StoryCorps third annual National Day of Listening ~ why not start early and express your gratitude to those people who have touched your life in a personal way.

  • Share your material bounty with others this Thanksgiving ~ consider making an after Thanksgiving donation to your favorite charity or local food pantry.  The poverty level continues to increase (the US poverty rate rose to 15.1%, the highest since 1983 ~ that is about 46.2 million people).  It is important to remember we are all part of a community and we need to share our material bounty with others.

Check out these links to find out more about sharing your gratitude:

(Be sure to investigate any charities you are considering and give/share wisely ~ Charity Watch rates over 500 charities and is a starting point for doing your homework in this regard.)

Food for Thought on Thanksgiving Day
Question ~ Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday's Tip ~ Newfoundland Vital Records on FamilySearch

Do you have family members who were born in Newfoundland between 1891-1897, married in Newfoundland between 1887-1922, or died in Newfoundland between 1891-1949?  Do you have the register entry relating to the birth, marriage or death?  Have you made copies of those register entries for your family database or files?

If your answer to my first question is YES and your answer to my second and/or third question is NO, run don't walk to the and check out the "Newfoundland, Vital Records, 1840-1949" browseable indexes and registers. 

But before you go clicking through the 58,839 images in the collection, take a quick detour over to the FamilySearch Wiki to learn about these Newfoundland Vital Records.  The Wiki provides search helps, explains the categories of possible content you may find in the records, and provides sources for the information as well bit of history regarding the record collection.  For those of you who are cite challenged, check out the examples of how to cite your research from the records once you have found your family members. 

This collection has been online since August 2010 but I did not check it out at the time as I had previously scanned certain of these registers while at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  In going through my research I found some blanks, unclear names and dates, and had a few questions ~ confession, my research notes are not always perfect!  Being able to check my notes and scans against these browseable images (in the comfort of my home in my pjs) was a treat ~ the high quality scans with a great zoom feature resolved most of my questions. 

So if you have Newfoundlanders in your family ~ happy hunting ~ and if your area of interest is Bonavista South ~ perhaps we are looking for the same folks.  Be sure to check out my Newfoundland surnames.  This is an excellent opportunity to "put the pieces" together with your vital records research.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday's Tip ~ Blogging ~ It Does A Genealogist Good!

A blog post, a Google search, some emails, and we have blast off 
(hopefully through that brick wall)!

Last week I had the great good fortune of connecting with a previously unknown relative (my second cousin once removed) ~ all thanks to the Internet.  I wanted to share the story with you and hopefully motivate you to make use of technology and get out there and blog!

Digital Photo by Filomena Scalise

  • Last Sunday I received an email asking me about some family members who were listed as my relations on this blog (my monthly roll call for birthdays and anniversaries).  He mentioned some other relatives and asked if I had a listing for them. 
  • That afternoon I responded with a few screenshots (using the Microsoft Snipping Tool) of my Legacy Family Tree database program showing our common ancestor and his family as well as my family.  I asked if the screenshots confirmed his information and waited to hear back.  
  • On Monday he responded by confirming our "connection" and providing me with some more current family information and telling me his family remained in Nebraska.
  • On Tuesday I responded by sharing some of my more current family information and also giving him a summary of information about the family members who moved from Nebraska to Washington.  I also asked him if he knew anything about where our original family in Ireland was from as well as possibly exchanging additional information. 
  • He responded by sharing some more about his family and telling me ~
    • "We still own land originally homesteaded by the Murphys in the 1870s." 
    • He found my blog when he did a search of his name - which brought up not his name (living people consideration) but related deceased family as well as the particular towns and counties in Nebraska. 
    • He shared more about family members who moved from Nebraska to Utah and Oregon 
    • He mentioned that many Murphy family ancestors are buried in the town cemetery and that he was willing to check them out for me when the weather improved. 
    • He offered to work on some dates and names and look up some addresses for me.
  • On Wednesday (after checking out the FamilySearch Wiki, Wikipedia, NARA and the Nebraska Historical Society websites), I followed up on the "homestead" issue.  The sites mentioned that the original paperwork might provide some insight into James Murphy's place of birth, immigration and naturalization, all items that I have not been able to find.
  • He responded by providing me the legal description of the land that his family owns and offering to check his title abstract!  He also informed me that certain of the families in our collective past were awarded Pioneer Farm Family Awards by AK-SAR-BEN.
  • After googling AK-SAR-BEN (Nebraska spelled backwards) I found out about the Knights of AK-SAR-BEN Foundation and their various agricultural and civic deeds.
  • On Thursday I offered to work with my genealogy database to prepare a report with the information I have entered to-date for his and other family members' review and comment (my work in progress).  What a great opportunity to fill in some blanks, confirm or dispute information, add to my knowledge of the family and hopefully gain lots more information and stories about our extended family.
  • Later that same day, he sent me the first page of the title abstract for the property which lists:
    • the legal description of the land;
    • the original entry between the USA government and our original Ireland to America ancestor James Murphy dated in 1872 listing the land records office and the registration information; and
    • the patent between the USA government (by President U.S. Grant) and James Murphy dated in 1873 listing the Act of Congress and the homestead certificate number.
  • I went to the NARA site and downloaded the National Archives Order for Copies of Land Entry Files (Form 84).  The information required to acquire copies of the Entry Files consists of the following:
    • Name of entry man
    • State land located
    • Approximate date of entry
    • Legal description of the land by Section, Townland and Range
    • Type of land entry
    • Patent final certificate number
    • Name of land office
  • A completed NARA Form 84 plus $40 should provide me with the Entry File for James Murphy! The entire process can be done online and the processing time is between 60-90 days ~ what an unexpected gift!
  • The abstract contained additional information regarding the land:
    • James' oldest son later quit-claimed his interest in the farm to his mother ~ this was my great grandfather who later moved with his wife and young family to Washington.
    • James' wife later quit-claimed her interest (except for dower rights) to her minor children ~ another way to identify and confirm family members and follow the land through the years.
  • On Saturday I filled out the NARA form and sent a quick question to NARA about in person research versus online request for records.  I also worked on the draft family report which I plan to send off on to my Nebraska relative later today.
  • This morning I received a response from George at NARA explaining the in person research process: 
 You are more than welcome to do land-entry research by visiting our facility on Pennsylvania Ave.
 Note that we prefer that records are requested in person and you are required to get a researcher's ID before we pull records; the second can only be done in person.
 We also have set time for retrieving records, at 10:00, 11:00, 1:30 and 2:30 five days a week, with an additional pull time of 3:30 Wed-Fri.  For the first visit we recommend that researchers show up at least 45 minutes before one of the pull times.
 Our research room is also open late Wed.-Fri. and is open from 9:00-5:00 on Saturdays (though there are currently no Saturday pulls).
 The cost for using our copiers in person is twenty-five cents a page, though digital photography is allowed in the research room.
 If you have any further questions fill free to ask.

  • Since I have the choice and can easily travel to Washington, D.C., I may just make the trip to see the file in person.  Whether online or in person ~ what a difference a week makes!

    ~Five Final Thoughts ~
    Digital Photo by Salvatore Vuono

    1. Blog, Blog, Blog ~ Put some information about family members online.  My monthly blog roll lists birthdays and anniversaries of family members together with dates, RINs and MRINs (all from by genealogy database program).
    2. Have an email address or account so people who visit your blog can get in touch with you.
    3. Correspond with people who visit your blog ~ you may find some family, they may have information which will break down brick walls, and you will be able to do the genealogy happy dance! 
    4. The Internet can open doors ~ I researched online with the Nebraska Historical Society, FamilySearch Wiki, NARA; all provided lots of information and additional links for:
    5. A road trip to Nebraska is definitely on my agenda ~ an opportunity to connect with family, see the original homestead, learn more of our history, hopefully get some stories and the opportunity to scan documents and photographs.
    So, what are you waiting for?  Place some information online, share your family stories and find some additional family members.  Slainte!