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Research Recommendations: All Good Things

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Those who know me well know how much I have loved Star Trek since I watched the original series as a child. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was the final movie with the original cast. It was about remembering the past, but also looking forward to what comes next. Where else can you find a movie that starts with a quote from Hamlet and ends with one from Peter Pan? The subtitle of the movie is from Hamlet (Act 1, Scene 3); The Undiscovered Country is the future.

 

It is difficult to believe that I first crossed the threshold of 101 Newbury Street more than two decades ago. At the time I was a novice genealogist, having been researching for less than five years. The first librarian I met was Gary Boyd Roberts, sitting behind the old sixth floor desk, who, upon discovering my French-Canadian heritage, quickly turned me over to George Sanborn. In 1995, I was laid off from Fidelity Investments, and Maureen Taylor, then head of the library, asked me if I would be interested in doing some contract research work for the Society. Sixteen years later, I have decided that it is time for new adventures. All good things must come to an end, and I will be leaving the Society in a few days.

 

I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to work side by side with my colleagues at NEHGS, who are some of the best genealogists in the country, and probably the world. And these incredibly talented individuals would not be able to do what they do without the equally talented and hard-working staff in the supporting departments, from the accounting department that pays the bills (and our salaries) to technical services, without whom we would have no materials for the library to help us solve your problems (materials that eventually go on our website as well, to help those of you researching at a distance). I am so grateful to each of them for what they have taught me, and for the support they all have given me through the years.

 

Regular readers have heard me discuss my old band director, George Parks, and the lessons he taught me that have helped me in genealogy. He instructed us in the three stages of Santa Claus: “You believe in Santa Claus; You don’t believe in Santa Claus; You become Santa Claus.” As performers, the most important of these is the third stage, creating the excitement and joy for other people.

 

I like to think that this also applies to those of us who are genealogy educators. I have lost track of the number of conferences, seminars, workshops, tours, and other educational events I have spoken at through the years. But, even after all this time, there is no greater gift than seeing the joy in someone’s eyes when they use resources or methodology you have taught them to finally solve a genealogical puzzle. And make no mistake, we as professionals learn from you as well. I thank you for all that I have learned from you through the years.

 

I leave you with one last research recommendation. I encourage you to please take what you have learned and share it with others. I ask that you become Santa Claus for other genealogists and help them along their way. The feeling you get inside when you see them get results will be well worth it. And you will certainly learn things from them in return.

 

I will be continuing to work in the field of genealogy, and my affiliation with NEHGS will not end completely. I will be staying on as a consulting editor for the Register, and a contributing editor for American Ancestors magazine. And with the wonders of twenty-first century technology, any other activities will just be a Google search away. I hope that you will say hello when you see me at genealogy programs and repositories in the future.

 

Starting with next week’s issue, Lynn Betlock will succeed me as editor of The Weekly Genealogist, assisted by Jean Powers, Ginevra Morse, and, of course, Valerie Beaudrault. I wish them tremendous success. I’m certain they will do a wonderful job.

 

And so, dear readers, it is “time for us to say So Long.” I am off to follow Captain Kirk’s lead and explore The Undiscovered Country; “Second star to the right, and straight on 'til morning.”


WWII Hero Honored by Daughter He Never Knew

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

The Frederic C. Murphy Federal Center in Waltham, Massachusetts, is home to the Boston NARA Northeast branch. The Boston Globe reported that last week Murphy’s daughter placed his Medal of Honor on indefinite loan at the archives.

Storied Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington to Close After 102 Years

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Army’s flagship hospital, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, is soon closing. Hundreds of thousands of wounded have been treated there. President Eisenhower, among others, passed away there.

Why Do Some Americanisms Irritate People?

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

An interesting article from the BBC news magazine about Americanisms entering the English language. It resulted in so much response from their readers that a week later 50 examples from readers were published by the magazine in a companion piece.

This Week's Survey: Missionary Ancestors

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week’s survey asked about how you spend your genealogical volunteer time. 56% of respondents provide one-on-one assistance through sites such as Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness and FindaGrave. Only 5% volunteer for commercial projects, such as Ancestry.com’s World Archives Project. Complete results are:

  • 56%, One-on-one assistance (e.g. Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, FindaGrave)
  • 46%, Other genealogical volunteerism
  • 37%, Local genealogical society
  • 24%, Historical society
  • 24%, Other non-profit organizations (e.g., FamilySearch.org, US GenWeb)
  • 10%, State genealogical society
  • 6%, New England Historic Genealogical Society
  • 5%, Commercial organizations (e.g. Ancestry.com World Archives Project)

 

NEHGS Volunteer Coordinator Helen Herzer reports that in 2010, more than 250 volunteers assisted at the Newbury Street library or worked at home on NEHGS database projects. Volunteers contributed nearly 18,800 hours of work—the equivalent of 10 staff years. If you are interested in helping with database projects, please email Helen Herzer, NEHGS volunteer coordinator, or contact her by phone at 617-226-1276.

This week's survey asks about your missionary ancestors. Take the survey now!


Name Origins: Origen

(Name Origins) Permanent link
 
Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto
Staff Genealogist

 ORIGEN (m): Latin for church father.

Spotlight: Wyoming Databases

(Spotlight) Permanent link
 
Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Visitor Services Representative

Cheyenne Burial Listings

Cheyenne is the capital city of Wyoming and the seat of Laramie County. It is located in the southeastern part of the state. The City’s cemetery records are managed by the City Clerk’s Office. The databases for burial listings in these cemeteries can be found on the city’s official website. Because these files are in PDF format you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.

 

Cemetery databases include the following city cemeteries: Lakeview Cemetery, Beth El Cemetery, the International Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) Cemetery, Serenity Gardens (Columbarium). There are also databases for Mount Olivet and Mount Sinai, which are private cemeteries. The cemetery at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base is not included in this collection of databases. Burials in these alphabetical databases date from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Data fields include name of the deceased, date of death and location of the plot in the cemetery.

 

Cheyenne Genealogical & Historical Society

The Cheyenne Genealogical & Historical Society's mission is to “stimulate and encourage family history research through a variety of endeavors and to provide members and the genealogical public with a diversity of resources.” From this website one can access the gravesite database for the Carpenter Cemetery, which is located in Carpenter, Laramie County. The first burial took place in 1909. Many burials in this cemetery do not have gravestones. Some stones have no dates, only names. The information in the database came from the original cemetery record book, obituaries from the local newspapers, death records, and birth records. The data fields do not have headers. They include full name, birth date, death date, interment date, and a notes field containing such information as where born, name of husband, wife, or parents, age, occupation, military service, and grave location.

 

Albany County Obituary Index, Albany County Genealogical Society

Albany County is located in southeastern Wyoming, just west of Laramie County. The Albany County Genealogical Society has made available a series of obituary indexes abstracted from a number of Laramie, Wyoming, newspapers and covering the period from 1868 to 1964. Deaths occurring in Albany County, deaths of former residents of Albany County, or individuals who were buried in Albany County are included. Wives’ maiden names are included when known. The name field might include additional information.

 

Index of 1868 to 1899 Obituaries: Individuals who were buried in Albany County are included in this database. The data fields in the database include name of the deceased, newspaper abbreviation, and year / month / day of publication. The name field might also include the age of the deceased, date of death, where buried, occupation, and / or cause of death. Some months of newspaper records in 1899 are missing.

 

Index of 1900 to 1940 Obituaries: Some months of newspaper records in 1900 are missing. Data fields include name of the deceased, newspaper abbreviation, page number, column, and date of publication.

 

Index of 1941 to 1957 Obituaries: There are more than 5,200 records in this alphabetical database. Data fields include name of the deceased, newspaper abbreviation, page number, column, and date of publication.

 

Index of 1958 to 1964 Obituaries: There are more than 2,550 records in the alphabetical database. Data fields include name of the deceased, newspaper abbreviation, page number, column, and date of publication.


Research Recommendations: Genealogical Writing: Essential Resources for Writing and Editing

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

As you know, I spend a great deal of time writing and editing. The Weekly Genealogist alone has thousands of words in each issue that must be reviewed and put together, not to mention articles for the Register, American Ancestors magazine, NEHGS and Newbury Street Press books, etc. There are five books on the shelf next to my desk that I turn to time and again for assistance. I present them in alphabetical order, not in order of importance, as I check each one regularly.

 

The Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010)
The largest and best resource for all aspects of writing. CMS is used throughout the publications department as our editorial gold standard.

 

Amy Einsohn. The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications, Second Edition (Berkeley, Calif.; London: University of California Press, 2005)

This work has taught me a great deal about proper editing of manuscripts. In addition to the instructive text, there are exercises with answer keys to help you understand how to properly edit.

 

Michael J. Leclerc and Henry B. Hoff. Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century: A Guide to Register Style and More, Second Edition (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011)
Although it might appear to be self-serving, I really do use this book a great deal, especially when I am showing people how to use Microsoft Word for writing. That chapter, written by Alvy Ray Smith, is worth the entire book. I also constantly reference the appendices with abbreviations and symbols commonly used in genealogy.

 

Elizabeth Shown Mills. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007)
This book by one of the leading experts in the field of genealogy is incredibly useful. With the wide variety of materials available to us as resources, this example-filled tome can help you determine the proper way to cite almost anything you would use in your research.

 

Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1995)

Despite the resources available electronically, I often want to know what this classic reference will tell me about a word and how I might otherwise express the sentiment.


Why are 3,000 Victims of 9/11 Missing from Social Security Death List?

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

 Get a better understanding of how the Death Master File works in this Daily Republicreport on possible reasons for the omission of the 9/11 victims from the records.

This Week's Survey: Genealogical Volunteerism

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week’s survey asked about where you get "how-to" information. The top three resources are non-profit genealogical websites, such as FamilySearch.org and AmericanAncestors.org, 92%; commercial websites, such as Ancestry.com, 88%; and print books, 85%. Only 26% get their information from blogs. There is a sharp divide between the top five resouces (which include non-genealogical websites and print magazines), and the remaining resources. Complete results are:

 

  • 92%, Non-profit genealogical websites (e.g., FamilySearch, AmericanAncestors.org)
  • 88%, Commercial genealogical websites (e.g., Ancestry.com, Archives.com)
  • 85%, Print books
  • 74%, Non-genealogical websites (e.g., Google, About.com, etc.)
  • 68%, Print magazines
  • 39%, Other digital resources
  • 39%, e-books and magazines
  • 36%, Other print resources
  • 36%, Free Commercial Websites (e.g., Mocavo.com)
  • 33%, Wikis (e.g., Wikipedia, FamilySearch Research Wiki)
  • 26%, Blogs (e.g., EOGN, Dear Myrtle)

 

This week's survey asks about how you spend your volunteer time in genealogy. Take the survey now!


Research Recommendations: New Lineage Society for WWII Vet Descendants

 Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

The Admiral Nimitz Foundation has been supporting the mission of the National Museum of the Pacific War since 1970. This year, the foundation announced the creation of a lineage society for the descendants of those who served in any branch of the U.S. military during World War II. The Society of Sons and Daughters of World War II was launched on January 1, 2011. According to its website, the society has a threefold purpose:

 

To allow individuals to prove family ancestry and lineage from an American Veteran of World War II.

 

To perpetuate the story of the sacrifices and achievements of the generation of Americans that fought and won World War II.


To create a public database of military records from individual World War II Veterans accessible to future historians, authors and students researching the legacy of WWII.

 

The Society offers three categories of membership:

Lineal. Individuals demonstrating lineal descent through birth or adoption, any and all generations

Collateral. Individuals demonstrating collateral family relationship, any and all generations

Memorial. Individuals presenting a WWII Veteran for inclusion in the records as a friend, with no claim of family relationship

 

A one-time fee of $125 is asked for the first applicant. Siblings and descendants of an applicant can be included on the same application for a fee of $25/each. Any member who supports the Society with an additional gift of $100 or more will be considered a charter member.

The Society’s website provides links for researching individuals who served. It also provides links to history websites for each of the six branches of service: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Merchant Marine, and Navy.

The goals of this organization are certainly noteworthy. And documentation of descent will likely be much easier than organizations such as Mayflower Descendants or the DAR, as you will only have to cover a few decades instead of centuries. Find out more at www.sonsanddaughtersofww2veterans.org.


This Week's Survey: How-To Assistance

 Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week’s survey asked about other lines that you research besides your family. 90% of respondents research the lines of other family members. Only 6% research the lines of famous people for fun. Complete results are:

  • 90%, I research the lines of other family members (e.g., in-laws, cousins, etc.)
  • 54%, I research the lines of friends.
  • 47%, I do favors for other researchers (e.g., Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness).
  • 42%, I do other types of research unrelated to my own family.
  • 6%, I research the lines of famous people just for fun. 

This week's survey asks about methods you have for "how-to" assistance. Take the survey now!


Spotlight: Miscellaneous Databases for Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana

(Spotlight) Permanent link
 
Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Visitor Services Representative

Owensboro Area Obituary Index, Kentucky

Owensboro, the seat of Daviess County, is located on the Ohio River, about one mile from the Indiana border in northwestern Kentucky. The Daviess County Public Library has made the Owensboro Area Obituary Index available on its website. Indexing began in 1977. It is a work in progress with data being added on a daily basis. Access is free to all, but to enter the site you will have to go through a security process to ensure you are not a rogue computer program.

 

The database has been divided into three time periods, depending on the amount and type of data abstracted: 1842–1919, 1920–1989, and 1990–present. Indexes for pre-1920 deaths provide a complete abstract of the vital data in each article. The database indexes obituaries from 46 counties in Kentucky and eight in southern Indiana. Additional (extensive) notes describing the pre-1920 Obituary Index have been provided for the researcher in the description of the database.

 

For the period 1842–1919 and 1990–present the data fields in the detailed results include name, obituary date, age, birth date, birthplace, death date, death place, cemetery, cause of death, survivors, and comments. Click on the name link to view them. For the period 1920–1989 the data fields include name, obituary date, age, birthplace, and death place. Click on the name link to view them. A number of different newspapers have been published in Owensboro. A two-letter abbreviation in the source field indicates the name of the eighteen newspapers from which the information was extracted. The comments field includes vital and biographical information, page numbers, cross references to other articles, sex of the deceased if not noted or it is ambiguous, age detail, and other descriptive information such as race, employment, residences, military service, accomplishments, and more.

 

Using the simple search form you can search by name and date. With advanced search you run three types of name searches—soundex, like or starts with. You can run a date field search by a year, month and year or a range of dates. You can search the other non-date field categories by keyword. When searching for a phrase use quotation marks for the best results.

 

Pike County Marriages, Mississippi

Pike County is located in southwestern Mississippi on the Louisiana border. Its county seat is Magnolia. The Pike County Circuit Clerk’s office has made a marriage license index available on its website. The earliest marriages included are from July 1882. The database can be searched by groom’s name, bride’s name, marriage date, book/page number and file number. The search results include a file number link, name (groom or bride) and marriage date. Click on the file number link to open a detailed record page. The detailed record includes file number, recorded date, book/page number, groom information, bride information and ceremony information.

 

Marriage Indexes, Caddo Parish, Louisiana

Shreveport is the seat of Caddo Parish, located in the northwest corner of Louisiana. The Caddo Parish clerk’s office has made marriage indexes available to the public on its website. Click on the Online Marriage Indexes link on the main page to open the Marriage Indexes page. Then click on the link of the same name on the Marriage Indexes page to access the search page.

 

Please be advised that you must use Internet Explorer in order to view the images; however, the parish’s web imaging program is not compatible with the new Internet Explorer beta. It will not work properly with browsers such as Firefox or Netscape. You can view the abstracted information with any web browser.

The indexes start with February 6, 1919. The index can be searched by last name, first name of the groom, bride or bride’s maiden name, or by book and page number. Searches can be limited by date. The data fields in the index include groom’s name, bride’s name, bride’s maiden name, date filed on, date married on, and book and page number.


Research Recommendations: Flip-Pal Rocks

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Many of my friends and colleagues, including Photo Detective Maureen Taylor, have long been singing the praises of the Flip-Pal to me. (You can read what Maureen has to say on her blog.) I joined my brother and his family at my parents’ house in Florida last week to celebrate their anniversary, and decided to get a Flip-Pal to scan some of my mother’s photographs.

 

I ordered the Flip-Pal quite easily and had it delivered there. Within minutes of opening the box I was scanning. The lightweight scanner was so easy to use I was zipping along in no time. The scanner operates on 4 AA batteries, which avoids cumbersome electrical cords.

 

One of the great things about Flip-Pal is the included software that stitches together images. Although the scanner itself has a small platen, you can make multiple scans of different areas of a large image and the software automatically stitches it together. The result is quite impressive. I had only one stitching problem, and that had more to do with the scans that I made than any limitations of the software.

 

By the time I left Florida two days later, I had made more than 1,500 scans and gone through seven sets of batteries. But I had hundreds of high-quality scans of photographs and other documents, including my mother’s entire wedding album (composed entirely of 8x10” photographs). While it won’t replace your heavy duty office scanner, it will be wonderful for bringing on the road. You can find out more at www.Flip-Pal.com.


This Week's Survey: Research Subjects

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week we asked about your ancestors’ involvement in the Revolutionary War. 87% of respondents had an ancestor who served as a solider for the American side. 2% of respondents are direct descendants of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Complete results are:

  • 87%, I had an ancestor who served as a soldier for the American side.
  • 39%, I had an ancestor who supported the American side through patriotic activity (providing aid, serving as a government officer, etc.)
  • 25%, I have joined a lineage society based on my ancestor's involvement in the Revolutionary War (on either side).
  • 21%, I have joined a lineage society based on my ancestor's involvement in the Revolutionary War (on either side).
  • 13%, I have ancestors involved on both sides of the conflict.
  • 9%, I had an ancestor who served as a soldier for the British side (including mercenary soldiers serving for the Brits).
  • 8%, I don't have any known ancestry involved in the Revolutionary War.
  • 4%, I have French, French-Canadian, or ancestors of another nationality who supported the American side.
  • 2%, I am a direct descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

 

This week's survey asks about what ancestral lines you research other then your own. Take the survey now!


Name Origins: Polly

(Name Origins) Permanent link
 
Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto
Staff Genealogist

POLLY (f): An extremely popular nickname (often used as its own name) formed from MARY, by the same initial M-to-P linguistic process that produces PATTY from MARTHA and PEG/PEGGY from MARGARET.

MSMD: Not Just for Mayflower Descendants

(Research Recommendations) Permanent link
 
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

The Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants has added some new resources to its website, all free to the public. In the Online Resources section of the Research menu, you will see the plans they have for providing information. Currently, only the state guides, vital records, and genealogical tools sections have information. Future plans include cemetery, census, church, court, land, military, and town records, city directories, immigration and naturalization, and newspapers.

 

The genealogical tools section has a PDF file of a pedigree chart. The state guides provide information on the New England states. Here you will find various records sources and repositories in the state. You will also find a list of counties in the state.

 

Particularly helpful is Franklin County, Massachusetts, where the index for the dockets and files of the probate court from 1812 to 1925 has been scanned and made available online. The images are not searchable, but you can browse through. You can jump down to a particular letter of the alphabet to a list of links with the first surname on each page of the index that starts with that letter. The images load in a new tab in your browser, and loaded fairly quickly with a high-speed internet connection. Having them open a new tab makes accessing easier, as you can quickly open up a new tab with another page instead of having to hit the back button and wait for the page to reload.

 

As GSMD is able to add to the website, the value will only increase over time. Check it out at www.massmayflower.org.


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