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Genealogical Writing: Checking Your Notes

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

As genealogists, we all know how important it is to use proper source citations for every statement of fact that is not generally known. Footnotes are the preferred method of citing sources because the information appears on the same page as the fact, and does not require paging back and forth to endnotes. Short citations are the proper way of citing a single work multiple times.

 

In my book on the Franklin family, all references use short citations. A bibliography in the back of the book provides the full publication information. Each entry in the bibliography is numbered, and the source citations in the body of the text cross-reference to the numbers in the bibliography. Because there are literally thousands of citations, I chose to renumber footnotes with every chapter.

 

Prior to publication, it is important to copyedit and proof all of your notes. As you are reading through the text you should review a note whenever you find the footnote indicator. Read through and make certain that this is the correct citation for that fact. Correct any obvious typographical errors or logic errors (such as a citation to a page range of 62–43).

 

Next you should review the bibliography. Scan through to ensure that all entries are in alphabetical order. Again correct any typographical errors, and query any that you need to double-check.

 

Once you have made all of your corrections, review the manuscript again to ensure that you did not accidentally omit any changes.


This Week's Survey: Mountain Plains States

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week’s survey asked about lineage societies. 56% of respondents are eligible for membership in a lineage society, but have not yet joined. Only 3% are members of a lineage society based on an ancestor's occupation (e.g., Flagon and Trencher). Whether eligible or not, 15% of respondents are not interested in lineage societies. The full results are:

  • 56%, I am eligible to be a member of a lineage society, but have not yet joined.
  • 25%, I am a member of a lineage society based on an ancestor's military service (e.g., DAR, Society of Colinial Wars).
  • 16%, I am a member of a lineage society based on an ancestor's immigration (e.g., Society of Mayflower Descendants, Piscataqua Pioneers).
  • 15%, Whether I am eligible or not, I am not interested in lineage societies.
  • 10%, I am not eligible for any lineage societies of which I am aware.
  • 10%, I am a member of a lineage society based on other criteria.
  • 9%, I am a member of a lineage society based on descent from a single ancestor (e.g., Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in the USA).
  • 5%, I am a member of a lineage society based on an ancestor's ethnic heritage (e.g., St. Andrew's Society, North American Manx Association).
  • 3%, I am a member of a lineage society based on an ancestor's occupation (e.g., Flagon and Trencher).

This week’s survey is for those with ancestors in the Mountain Plains states. Take the survey now!


Google's Map Maker Enables U.S. Users to Edit Google Maps Worldwide

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Google's Map Maker Enables U.S. Users to Edit Google Maps Worldwide
Google added another tool to its arsenal on Tuesday. Map Maker, previously open in 183 other countries, is now available to American users, allowing them to make comments and add information to maps. The software has interesting possibilities for genealogists.

Name Origins: CATHERINE

(Name Origins) Permanent link
 
Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto
Staff Genealogist

CATHERINE/CATHARINE/
KATHERINE/KATHARINE (f): from Greek katharos, meaning pure. Often nicknamed KITTY or KATE.

More Genealogy Lessons from George

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

I spent part of my holiday weekend a few days ago enjoying another trip to western Massachusetts. I went to a memorial concert for my college band director. It was a great opportunity to hear good music, see good friends, and get a sneak peak at the new George N. Parks Minuteman Marching Band in the final phases of construction. Of course, as a genealogist, a cemetery visit was also in order, to visit George's grave. One of my friends joined me, along with her husband. Our excursion turned into a learning experience for friends, and a gentle reminder to this genealogist.

 

Neither of us had been to the cemetery before. Although a Baptist, George was buried in St. Brigid’s Catholic Cemetery because of its location on the edge of the UMass campus, about a quarter-mile from the football stadium. It is a small cemetery, with about 1,500-1,750 plots in 10 sections (you can see a map on the St. Brigid website) so I was confident about locating the grave, even without an exact location. This is where George's reminders to me kicked in.

 

Reminder Number 1: How Reliable is Your Information?


Both my friend Dawn and I remembered another friend posting an image of a dark gravestone (either dark grey or black) on Facebook. She also remembered having been told that he was near the gate to the cemetery. Besides the main entrance, there were two other gates. We drove in and started looking out the car windows for a dark stone near one of the entrances. There were only a few, but none belonged to George.

 

We drove out and back in to make another loop. At this point I jumped out of the car to examine some stones in the middle of the sections. Still nothing. Dawn joined me on the ground while her husband continued driving. We started at the first rows of stones in the front sections. Her section (St. Patrick on the map) had a few new burials with no markers before the first row of stones. We walked from the front of the cemetery all the way to the back, reading every stone. We also checked the sections on the side. No stones bore the name Parks.

 

I explained to her that I would be in big trouble back at work when I told them I couldn’t find a grave marker in such a small cemetery and she laughed. At this point I admitted defeat. We climbed back into the car and went to join friends for dinner.

 

Sometimes the information you are confident about may not be quite accurate.

 

Reminder Number 2: Verify Your Information With Multiple Sources


We met a group at the restaurant and the conversation quickly turned to war stories about our days in the band. At one point, Dawn turned to Kerstin and told her about our cemetery adventure, to which Kerstin responded “I can show you where he is. He doesn’t have a stone yet. It just has a small marker the funeral home put in when he was buried.” The stone Dawn and I both remembered seeing in a post was not the actual marker for George’s grave.

 

One consultation with a second source told us that our previous information was incorrect, which is why we had so much difficulty.

 

Reminder 3: Never Assume


After dinner we piled into the cars and drove back to the cemetery, our group having grown by a few more people. We pulled into the main entrance and drove around the U-shaped drive up the second entrance (where Dawn and I had started walking). Kerstin led us right past the first row of monuments to one of the newer graves. There he was. The small white marker, in the shape of a cross, had his name, birth date, and death date, and was surrounded with fresh flowers. It was amazing to me that it had survived the winter.

 

Our assumption that the grave had to be marked caused us to miss the actual grave, which both Dawn and I walked past. When you hit a brick wall, always go back and double-check your assumptions.

 

Other visitors had been there, leaving mementos such as poker chips (which George used to teach us our formations in band). I suggested that for homecoming we place a line of poker chips from the gate to the grave, so visitors would be able to easily find him. I also wondered if the gravestone, when it went in, would be one of those large round reddish ones. That would be like a giant poker chip, and any bando visiting the cemetery would find him in an instant.

 

Our small group stood around the grave. They watched me take photographs (in some pretty interesting positions). I explained that George was buried backwards from the rest of the burials in that row. He was buried with his feet at the end where the gravestone will go, so that he would face the stadium and always be watching his band. We stood around, laughed and told stories of getting arrested (and almost getting arrested) for band performances — when planning to bring several hundred musicians to play for the public, don't forget to get your performance permit from the city of Boston.

 

On the road back to Boston, I thought about George and how he is still teaching me lessons (as well as reminding me of those lessons I seem to forget from time to time). I was also very grateful to Kerstin for saving me from going home and telling my colleagues how I couldn’t find a new gravestone in such a small cemetery! Good times with good friends, and a bit of genealogy thrown in, who could ask for a better day? Thanks, George.


Spotlight: Miscellaneous Cemetery Databases

(Spotlight) Permanent link
 
Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Visitor Services Representative

Diocese of Wilmington Cemeteries, Delaware
Wilmington, the largest city in Delaware, is the seat of New Castle County, located in the northern part of the state. The records for three cemeteries comprise this database: All Saints, Cathedral, and Gate of Heaven. This database can be searched by first name and last name. You can search one cemetery at a time or all of them at the same time. The data fields in the search results are name, death date, birth date, cemetery name, and grave location.

 

GAR Cemetery, Miami, Oklahoma
The GAR Cemetery database is accessible from the city of Miami, Oklahoma, website. Click on the Departments link on the homepage. Scroll down the dropdown list and select the GAR Cemetery Records link to open a PDF file containing an alphabetical list of the individuals with surnames beginning with the letters A through P, who are buried in the cemetery. The data fields in the database are last name, first name, middle name, suffix, date of birth, age, and interment date. The burials cover the period from 1894 to 2002. You will need free Adobe Acrobat Reader to download this list.

 

Jewish Cemeteries, Bergen County, New Jersey
Hackensack is the seat of Bergen County, located in the northeast corner of New Jersey.

 

Riverside Cemetery 
Riverside Cemetery is located in Saddle Brook. It is a garden cemetery, established in the early part of the twentieth century. The first burial took place in 1910 and by the 1930s more than 70,000 gravesites in the cemetery had been sold. Click on the Genealogy Search button in the contents list to open the search page. The database can be searched by first name and last name and can be limited by approximate year of death. The data fields in the search results are name and date of death. There is a Record Locator link through which you can email the cemetery administration for additional information.

 

Mount Moriah Cemetery
Mount Moriah Cemetery is located in the city of Fairview. The cemetery website contains a searchable burial database. Click on the Grave Locator link in the contents to access it. The database can be searched by individual (last name, first name) or by organization. The data fields in the search results for individuals are last name & first name, date buried, organization, and section. There is also a “Map It” link. Click on that link to open a new page with a cemetery map.


This Week's Survey: Lineage Societies

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week’s survey asked about iPad ownership and its use in genealogical research. 5% of respondents own an iPad, which they use in genealogical research. Another 2% own an iPad, but do not use it for genealogical research. 92% of respondents do not own an iPad, although there was a tremendous amount of email asking for the category "I don't own an iPad, but desperately want to have one!"

 

This week’s survey asks about lineage societies. Take the survey now!


The Last Full Measure of Devotion

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

One hundred and fifty years ago this week, the American Civil War started with the first shots fired on Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. More Americans were killed in the five-year conflict than in World War I and World War II combined. As the sesquicentennial arrives, memorials and remembrances abound in newspapers, magazines, television, and, of course, the internet. This week I would like to give you five free websites that you can use to research your Civil War ancestor.

 

The African American Civil War Museum
The Museum, founded in 1997, has an extensive collection of photographs, documents, and information to help us understand the contributions made by African Americans in the conflict. While the site itself does not have a large number of records, there is a resources tab to direct people to other organizations that do have records, online and off.

 

The American Civil War Home Page
Dick “Shotgun” Weeks first published this site in 1997. It contains a number of links to assist your research. Many of these links will assist you in understanding what your Civil War soldier or sailor ancestor may have gone through. Among the links are: Civil War Battles, Civil War Biographies, Civil War Medicine, Fox’s Regimental Losses, Letters About the War, and The Armies.

 

The Civil War Home Page
Not to be confused with the site above, this is one of several sites owned and managed by Michael Frosch. This site is rich with information, official records, images, and more. There is an entire section with information on reenactors as well as images from personal collections of soldiers who served on both sides of the war.

 

Civil War Rosters
This site is now run by Chuck Ewing. Although it hasn’t been updated in awhile, it does have valuable links to online rosters of various units that served in the war from the forty-four states and territories involved in the conflict. There are special links to the US Colored Troops, Civil War Monuments, Prisons, and others.

 

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System
This site, run by the National Parks Service, contains the names of 6.3 million soldiers and sailors compiled by the NPS and its partners over several years. In addition to those who served, you can get information on those who received the Medal of Honor, or who may have been imprisoned at Fort McHenry or the notorious Andersonville Prison. You can also find information on regiments that served during the war, and a listing of all soldiers who served in that unit.


Ruling Spurs Effort to Form Digital Public Library

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

The New York Times reports that the blow dealt by a federal judge in New York to Google’s plan to build the largest digital library in the world has stimulated those behind the Digital Public Library of America.

This Week's Survey: iPads in Genealogy

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week’s survey was part of our ongoing series about geographic interests. It focused on those who had interests in the South Central States. Kentucky was number one with 55%. Mississippi came in last at 16%. Full results are:

  • 55%, Kentucky
  • 44%, Tennessee
  • 41%, Texas
  • 27%, Oklahoma
  • 22%, Alabama
  • 21%, Arkansas
  • 19%, Louisiana
  • 16%, Mississippi

 

This week’s survey asks about whether or not you use an iPad for your genealogical research. Take the survey now!


Civil War Heirlooms Bond Families with Past

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

CNN reports on families who have items passed down from ancestors who lived through the turbulent times of the American Civil War.

Michigan Resources

(Spotlight) Permanent link
 
Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Visitor Services Representative

Stockbridge Area Genealogical/Historical Society

The town of Stockbridge, Ingham County, is located in the central part of Michigan’s lower peninsula. Greater Stockbridge covers a larger geographic area, which includes portions of four counties: Ingham, Livingston, Jackson, and Washtenaw.

The Society has made a number of resources available online. Click on the links in the contents list on the left side of the page to access them. The resources include:

 

Obituaries
The Stockbridge Area Genealogical/Historical Society has been indexing death notices recorded in Stockbridge newspapers. They cover the period from 1886 through 1966 and 1968 through 1999. The years 1956 through 1959 are missing. The alphabetical indexes are organized primarily in ten-year groups. There are only two data fields in each index: last name and first name. Any additional missing issues are noted on the index pages. Copies of death notices may be ordered from the Society for a fee. There is a link to the order form on each index page.

 

Marriages
The marriage index covers the period from 1838 through 1867. The marriages included in this database took place in the counties of Ingham, Livingston, Jackson, and Washtenaw. There are separate indexes for brides and grooms, organized alphabetically by last name. The data fields in both indexes include bride's last name, bride's first name, bride's residence, groom's last name, groom's first name, groom's residence, date of marriage, place of marriage, county, and record number. This index is a work in progress.

 

Military Project
The Society currently has one military record database on its website. It is made up of the World War I veterans identified by the society to date. The records have been organized alphabetically by county. The World War II veterans’ index is under construction.

 

Ingham County Genealogical Society

Resource available on the Ingham County Historical Society's website include:

 

Ingham County Democrat Newspaper Index 1876–1915
This database indexes names of individuals found in death, burial, funeral notices, obituaries, notices of postmortems, murder trials and insurance payoffs. The index has been organized alphabetically by the first letter of the surname. The data fields include surname, given name, maiden name, newspaper date, and page and column numbers. The indexes are in PDF format. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them. Copies of articles may be ordered from the Society for a fee.

 

Maple Grove Cemetery, City of Mason, Ingham County
This database indexes burial permits, burial transit permits, disinterment and re-interment records for Maple Grove Cemetery from 1932 through 2005. There are 4,517 records in the database. The index has been organized alphabetically by the first letter of the surname. The data fields include last name and first name of the deceased, year the permit was issued (not a date of death), and the sequence number of permit. The indexes are in PDF format. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them. Copies of articles may be ordered from the Society for a fee.

 

Dobie Road Cemetery, Ingham County
As noted on the website, this cemetery is referred to as "Ingham County Home Cemetery (Ingham County Poor Farm)" in the "Michigan Cemetery Atlas," which was produced by the Library of Michigan. The data fields include two fields for grave location, first name, last name, birth year, death year and age at death (year, month, day).


How Digital Technology Threatens Family History

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

One of the most contentious conversations one can have around records at the moment is the issue of digital preservation. When it comes to electronic images, one thing is certain: there is currently no complete consensus. Archivists have long discussed issues surrounding the types of images that should be used for archival preservation. Consensus has formed around high-quality TIFF images (and some is building for the new JPEG 200 image, although not previous versions of JPEG). Unfortunately, there are still major concerns.

 

Electronic images will need to be migrated from machine to machine to ensure their continued preservation. Software compatibility issues may arise. Future budgetary problems may force governments to choose to lose records that they cannot afford to upgrade. And what happens in the event of a crash? Images can be lost forever.

 

An article by Sharifa Kalokola published on Sunday in The Citizen (in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) shows that this concern is global. In the article, entitle “How Digital Technology Threatens Family History.” Kalokola discusses how digital photography and social networking sites have impacted genealogy. She says “Admittedly, the digital technology has made it a lot easier to take photos of family and process them within seconds. But with the fragility of the digital equipment most of us use to preserve important information and family photos, is family history not under threat?”

 

Kalokola also quoted Makarius Peter, a historian and archivist at the University of Dar es Sallam, who states that “Some day this generation will appear like it never existed. With no photo albums to pass family history it is very easy to fade away from the memories of the future generation.” He goes on to discuss how technology has made people lazy.

 

In my own world, I try to make paper prints of photographs that I want to ensure will be around in the future. As for the images on Facebook, many of them I will not mind losing when Facebook disappears.

 

The city of Lowell, Massachusetts, has started on a project to scan original records. Vital records, tax lists, and other valuable records will be scanned. While applauding the efforts to create a paperless office with easier access, the next step in the process is heart-wrenching for any historian or archivist to hear. After scanning, the original records are set to be destroyed. A recent article in the Lowell Sun, “No ‘Magic Solution’ for Lowell’s Paper Trail,” discusses the issues facing the city. Remarkably, it seems that no historical societies or archives have been approached about preserving the originals once they have been scanned. Legal requirements may prevent some materials from being turned over to private hands, but certainly if an original is facing destruction it would be better to have the originals preserved elsewhere if possible.

 

Electronic images serve a valuable purpose, but when organizations exist specifically to preserve original documents, one would think that they should be utilized. That goes for individuals and private organizations as well as governments. Descendants of Irish immigrants are greatly benefitting from the preservation of nineteenth-century bank records that include locations of origin in Ireland. And how many researchers have leaped for joy when discovering a photograph of their ancestor in a historical or genealogical society? Go through your photographs and make sure to print off some for the future. You might even consider donating a copy to your local historical or genealogical society.


How the Century Old Junior League is Looking to Change with the Times

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

The Boston Globe reports on efforts by the Boston chapter of the Junior League to stay relevant and attract new members, an issue that is facing many social organizations founded in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

This Week’s Survey: Land Records in Genealogical Research

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week we asked about your use of land records in genealogical research. The largest number of respondents, 57%, have researched original land records in county courthouses, town halls, and other repositories. In today’s age of microfilm and electronic publications, it is heartening to see so many people using original records. Only 17% of respondents have not used land records for research at all. Full results are:

 

  • 57%, I have researched original land records in county courthouses, town halls, and other repositories.

 

  • 50%, I have used online indexes of land records.

 

  • 50%, I have used microfilm copies of land records.

 

  • 44%, I have used online images of original land records.

 

  • 42%, I have used published versions of land records.

 

  • 17%, I have not used land records in my research.

 

This week’s survey asks about your genealogical interests in the South Central states. Take the survey now!


Name Origins: Sufferana/Sufferance

(Name Origins) Permanent link
 
Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto
Staff Genealogist

SUFFERANA/SUFFERANCE (f): A Puritan value name. Sufferance (Haynes) Treadway, wife of [Nathaniel] Treadway of Sudbury, Mass., is mentioned in the will of her father Walter Haynes.

166 Years Late, A Bid to Right Anti-Immigrant Wrong

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Rhode Island attorney Michael DiLaurio recently testified before the state’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on legislation that would call for Governor Chaffee to pardon John Gordon, an Irish-Catholic immigrant whose hanging on Valentine’s Day in 1845 spurred the state to do away with the death penalty. Read the full story in the Providence Journal.

Finding the Civil War Ancestor In Your Family Album

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

The Photo Detective is at it again. Just in time for the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, Maureen Taylor has published a book that will greatly help genealogists with ancestors who served in the conflict.

 

Finding the Civil War In Your Family Album is a unique resource for researching this time period in American History. While images of soldiers have often been discussed, Maureen focuses on images of the entire family: men, women, and children. The initial chapters discuss the types of photographs that were made during this time period and the use of photo albums at the time.

 

She then gets into fashions for all ages of individuals, uniforms, mourning customs, wedding outfits, and more. Later chapters focus on researching photographers (to help identify images) and suggestions for finding photographs of your ancestors in this time period. A bibliography of resources is also included.

 

The 192-page book is lavishly illustrated with 130 photographs. In addition to the illustrations in each chapter, there is a section on iconic images from the Civil War.

Anyone with ancestors in this time period will find this a valuable work. You can order a copy of the book from NEHGS for $24.95 at www.AmericanAncestors.org.


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