31 March 2009

April 18th: Minnesota Genealogical Society Quarterly Meeting

The Minnesota Genealogical Society's first quarterly meeting for 2009 is the second annual Family History Fair. It will be held April 19th at the MGS Office and Library site at 1185 Concord St. N., South St. Paul, Minnesota. Click here for a map.

The April 18 program is co-sponsored by MGS and its ethnic and national Branches and Affiliates. One program track will be devoted to DNA, with talks on family medical history, the use of DNA testing for genealogy, and privacy/legal issues in DNA testing. The six other sessions will include an introduction to the Immigration History Research Center (located in Minneapolis), two beginning genealogy talks, and three more-advanced talks. A MGS members' meeting as well as a Q&A session will be held during the lunch hour. The full schedule, name of the lecturers, and how to register is on the society's website. A light lunch will be available with advance registation.

26 March 2009

NGS Conference early registration deadline

I received this from the National Genealogical Society today: "The registration deadline for the early-bird lower conference rate for the NGS Family History Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina is approaching! Make your conference registrations by Tuesday 31 March 2009 to save $35!

The NGS Family History Conference is scheduled for May 13-16 2009 at the Raleigh Convention Center. Join us for over 150 educational sessions and workshops, luncheons and social events. Everything for the complete beginner through to the most experienced genealogist.

Full conference information can be found at www.ngsgenealogy.org. To register today go to: http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/register_online

[What do you do with the $35 savings? Spend some time in the Exhibit Hall and you will surely be able to spend it. ]

24 March 2009

Make your voice heard for vital records access in Pennsylvania and beyond.

Have Pennsylvania ancestors? Frustrated with tough access issues? It is time to let Pennsylvania legislators hear from you. In yesterday's Lebanon Daily News, Pennsylvania professional genealogist wrote his column describing what is needed from genealogists in order to help pass a bill that would loosen up the access requirements. You can read Jim's column here. I thank Elissa Powell, also from Pennsylvania, for pointing this out on another list I monitor.

Pennsylvania isn't the only state with over the top restrictions on old vital records. I am so happy with the indexes to state level-reported Minnesota births and deaths via the Minnesota Historical Society and Ancestry.com and the films of the actual records at the MHS and the Family History Library, that I forget about the opposite being true in many other places. There are good states though, including Missouri and Arizona with both indexes and actual images online.

For a great listing of various vital records and other genealogical gems online, visit this site compiled and frequently updated by Joe Beine. CyndisList.com also has great vital records connections.

The FamilySearch pilot site has indexes and some images to vital records. This is a enormous project and the website tells how you can become involved with the indexing at home and at whatever amount of time you can give.

23 March 2009

Did you read the Betsy and Tacy books?

OK, I am dating myself. As a child I spent a lot of time borrowing books from the Highland Park Library in St. Paul and my Grandma Toots made sure I had plenty of Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins books to read. One other series I liked was Maud Hart Lovelace's series about Betsy and Tacy. Maud lived from 1892-1980.

Apparently I was not alone for there is a Betsy-Tacy Society and many other websites devoted to discussion of the series. Much of the series is based on family, friends and sights in Mankato, Minnesota where Maud grew up, but in her books is called Deep Valley.

I was reminded of these books when I read about the destruction of the home of a real-life person, a man that she based one of her characters on. You can read more at Minnesota Post in a article by Joe Kimball.

During my own genealogy research I discovered I had relatives that had and do live in Mankato. I wonder if Maud or her parents ever spent time with any of my relatives. Perhaps my relatives purchased shoes in the shop Maud's father owned?

20 March 2009

Why I continue to attend genealogy conferences.

My very first national level genealogy conference was 1987 and the place was the NGS Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. NGS is back there this year. In 1989 the NGS Conference was held in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was part of the working committee for that conference. In 1990 I attended my first Federation of Genealogical Societies' Conference in Salt Lake City. This year the conference is in Little Rock. I missed a few years of each due to children's graduations and other family events. I saved my airline miles for travel to many of these. I have also attended many state conferences in Minnesota and in other states. I don't go on vacations to Las Vegas, Cancun, London, or Rome -- I go to genealogy conferences and seminars to be with people that have a similar passion.

Why do I keep going back?
  • Friendships that have developed as I kept seeing the same people at conferences.
  • Friendships that have developed as new people came to a conference.
  • Lecturers that have taught me about methodology and resources.
  • Lecturers that taught me about the fascinating research in states and countries where I have no ancestry. Maybe someday . . .
  • Lecturers that told me about the many places for research and updates about these places, often before most people knew.
  • Book vendors that have helped me fill my bookshelves with a world of wonderful reference books. (many times over!)
  • Software demos that gave me confidence to use new programs.
  • Camaraderie that is second to none. People that actually want to hear about a recent discovery.
  • The people and networking. I get to sit near a genealogist from another state at a luncheon or lecture that knows about the courthouse or library I want to visit in that state. It's picking the brains of others in person. A much easier way to ask questions.
  • Learning more about an organization or society before I join it.
Today I am privileged to be a speaker at many of these conferences. It's a way of paying back those who taught before me. I hope that there are people in my audiences that will follow in keeping this education going. Another way to pay back the conference volunteers before me has been in doing the same. I have been on conference committees for both FGS and NGS over the years, have been the Chair of one, and continue doing conference volunteer work so that these great educational (and fun) tools can continue. Let's pick each others' brains in May and September!

16 March 2009

The FGS Conference Blog & Baseball

In the last few weeks, some important conference news has been posted on the FGS Conference Blog. This is place to keep updated on conference events, news, special details, speakers, vendors, tourism, and just about everything else. View the blog here. Watch the blog for some upcoming exciting news on door prizes, special events, and words from some of the speakers sharing more details about their lectures. In case you didn't know, the lectures at FGS conferences are educational in nature, filled with visual examples, accompanied by syllabus material, and are not avenues for selling products or services. That is saved for the Exhibit Hall. You do get your money's worth of education in four days.

The Arkansas Genealogical Society is the local host and will be sharing more details about the Thursday evening"Arkansas Night at the Ballpark," the food for that night, the entertainment, the door prizes, and of course, the Arkansas Travelers baseball game. All that for only $15.00 per person. The genealogy discussions that evening are free! It is easy to sign up for this event when you register for the conference.

Imagine a trip to SLC and NOT to Sam Weller's

Sam Weller's is a bookstore in downtown Salt Lake City that is frequented by many genealogists visiting that city to locate good, used books. This bookstore began operating in 1929. Quite a few historical books on my shelves came from Weller's. At least for now, we won't be able to make a trek to this bookstore on Monday evenings when the library is closed. The bookstore will be closed on Monday evenings and on every other day, too.

Yes, you read that correctly. They say they plan to reopen in a yet undetermined new location. It has not been a profitable business in recent years. Read the full story in today's Salt Lake Tribune.

15 March 2009

Ancestry.com obituary searches upgraded

Ancestry.com has updated and expanded their obituaries. Part of the announcement said "Improved Obituary Collection (Twice as many obituaries now added regularly and more fields available for improved search results.)."

I immediately did a search and found the new fields to be what I needed! For a community study, I needed to do some searches in a given location and did so without a name of the person or the newspaper. I did use the state name and added the name of the city as a keyword. I knew that a newspaper from the city I needed is not part of the obituary collection, so just used it as the keyword, I added some other parameters and a goldmine was my reward. I found obituaries for former and current residents and relatives in newspapers published in other places. It is also great for surname studies.

The obituary search includes fields for names, places and dates of death, birth and marriage (with the ability to search for a span of years), keywords, location of newspaper (country, state if in the U.S.,and city, and by the name of the newspaper.

The obituary searches are available with U.S. Deluxe and World Deluxe memberships.

11 March 2009

President Obama approves $459 million budget for U.S. National Archives

This press release just arrived from the U.S. National Archives. The budget reflects a 12% increase over the last fiscal year. In light of the many libraries, archives, and historical societies that are shutting down completely or partially due to budget inadequacies, this is a good budget growth. I do hope those in charge at NARA remember the many researchers who still need to visit the various location to use the millions of pieces of paper that are only available in original form. We still need adequate work space, lighting, staff assistance, and good hours.

March 11, 2009


Washington, DC. . . The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is receiving $459,277,000 for the current fiscal year under the omnibus appropriation bill passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama on March 11, 2009.

The $459,277,000 for Fiscal Year 2009 is a $48,144,000, or 12 percent, increase over last year's appropriation of $411,133,000.

"We are extremely pleased with the additional resources for NARA that will enable us to fund our core programs, operate the new George W. Bush Library, increase our ability to process presidential records with the hiring of 15 new archivists, and add a criminal investigator to the Office of the Inspector General", said Adrienne C. Thomas, Acting Archivist of the United States.

"We will also be able to continue building the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) and will use the additional funds to begin development of software to provide public access to ERA and initial preservation capabilities," she added. "With the Administration's continued support for ERA, we are just a few years away from having public access to ERA."

Funding for NARA's Operating Expenses is set at $330,308,000, up from last year's level of $315,000,000. The Operating Expenses appropriation funds rent, energy, security, and staff costs for NARA's facilities at 44 locations around the country.

This budget also includes continued funding for new archivists hired during FY 2008, and $875,000 to further increase the number of archivists on staff. The agency is directed to report to Congress within 30 days of the specific actions it is taking to restore archivist workforce levels to pre-2002 levels.

Also included in the appropriations bill is $1,000,000 for the new Office of Government Information Services, which was created by a 2007 amendment to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Its purpose is to strengthen FOIA, monitor compliance with it by federal agencies, and ensure that the records of government remain open and accessible to the public.

The Administration also provides $650,000 to complete the review of U.S. Government records documenting the activities of the Nazis and the Japanese Imperial Government. These resources will be available for two years to enable the agency to release a supplemental report to NARA's 2007 report on this subject.

For continued development of the ERA, the Congress appropriated $67,008,000, compared to $58,028,000 last year. The ERA had its official launch last year and this year took in the lectronic records of the Executive Office of the President from the George W. Bush Administration.

The budget also directs NARA to provide quarterly progress reports on ERA to Congress and the Government Accountability Office and to alert them to any potential delays, cost overruns, and other problems with the development of the ERA.

Congress also provided $6,325,000 to operate the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. It is now temporarily located in a facility in Lewisville, TX until the permanent library is built with private funds on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

For repairs and restorations to NARA facilities, Congress appropriated $50,711,000. This includes funding for our base and $22,000,000 to complete work on a renovation and an addition to the Kennedy Library in Boston, MA, and $17,500,000 for the first phase of a renovation and addition to the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, NY.

The budget also provides an additional $2,000,000 to complete repair and restoration of the plaza at the Johnson Library in Austin, TX, but makes it clear that Congress will provide no more funding for this project.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) received $11,250,000 for the current fiscal year, of which $2,000,000 will be transferred to the Operating Expenses (OE) appropriation. Last year, Congress provided NHPRC with $9,500,000 and transferred $2,000,000 to OE. This new funding level will allow NHPRC to continue its work on the Founding Fathers projects, publish historical records and support archives preservation, access and digitization grants.

09 March 2009

The First Genealogy Conference I Attended

It was back in 1983, June 24-25 to be exact. I still had a six year old at home. The place was Charleston, Illinois and the event was sponsored by the Illinois State Genealogical Society and Eastern Illinois University. The local host was the Coles County Genealogical Society. I enjoyed the conference and have not stopped attending such conferences.

I still have the syllabus and the list of the registrants. It was interesting to scan the list and see names I recognize. Some are still involved in genealogy, several later became friends, and some have passed on. I don't recall meeting any of them at the conference, it was later some of these folks and I became friends. I can just imagine the genealogy conference those that are no longer with us are having!

Just some of those names I recognized are Doris Roney Bowers, Peter Bunce, Carole Callard, Bob & Mary Lou Delahunt, Pat & Ray Gooldy, Joan Griffis, Marty Hiatt, Dorothy Lower, Sam McDowell, Michelle McNabb, Robert Parkin, Joanna D. Posey, George Schweitzer, Carol and Donald Shiffman, Byron Sistler, Roberta Smith, Loretto Szucs, and David Thackery. I am sure there were some others whose names I should have recognized.

I probably heard Lou Szucs speak about Chicago research. I have always remembered a session that had slides about historic barns but as I look over the program, cannot figure out what that session was. There was a session on Computer Genealogy by Joanna D. Posey. Oh, I wish I could hear that today and compare it to the way things are now. One sentence from the syllabus material for that session made me giggle a bit tonight: "Would you like your computer to talk to other micro-computers or to a large data bank to exchange genealogical information?"

NGS Conference May 13-16, Raleigh, North Carolina

The following is part of a press release received from the National Genealogical Society:

"Millions of Americans hunger to connect with their roots, and there’s no better way to start than by attending a four-day event packed with experts and family history hobbyists with the same goal. The National Genealogical Society, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, announces its 31st Family History Conference to be held at the Raleigh, North Carolina Convention Center 13-16 May 2009.

This premier event features more than 160 exciting educational sessions and workshops by many of the top names in family history research from North Carolina and around the nation. The variety of topics—from beginner workshops, to understanding and using DNA testing for family history, to finding resources for Native American, African-American, Scots-Irish, and other ethnic groups, to complex problem-solving, and more—provide tools for everyone from the merely curious to those who aspire to become credentialed or professional genealogists.

A bonus of the conference is the exhibit hall filled with software, books, and myriad genealogy-related products, where attendees can meet their favorite authors and genealogists. Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org are sponsoring many informative sessions that focus on effectively using their websites to find family connections. Optional luncheons and dinners provide opportunities for breaking bread with like-minded family history enthusiasts while learning from entertaining speakers. Conference-goers might choose a luncheon featuring a favorite speaker or support a meal sponsored by an organization such as the local host North Carolina Genealogical Society or the New England Historic Genealogical Society or the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

To see the entire exciting program, pre-conference events such as a free African-American Genealogy Forum on 12 May, and registration details, visit www.ngsgenealogy.org/conferences"

06 March 2009

Attending the FGS/AGS 2009 Conference but need a roommate?

Before each Conference, The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) receives requests inquiring if there are other conference registrants looking for a roommate. It's a great way to share costs. The 2009 Conference is in Little Rock, Arkansas from September 2-5 and the local host is the Arkansas Genealogical Society.

FGS will provide contact information (via e-mail) to those seeking a possible roommate at one of the Little Rock conference hotels. Roberta (Bobbi) King, a FGS Board member from Colorado, is once again providing this free service.

Bobbi and FGS will not be doing the actual roommate matching; that contact and decision is up to the individuals seeking a roommate.

To be a part of this service, all you have to do is e-mail your request to Bobbi and provide details including your name, state/province, e-mail address, telephone number, and some details about the type of roommate you are seeking. This would include such things as smoker/non-smoker, late or early to bed and to rise, arrival and departure days, whether or not you have already booked a room, male or female roommate preference, and any other requirements or information you feel you should provide such as snorer, light sleeper, need room totally dark, has TV on or off most of the time, etc.

The information you provide will not be posted online. It will only be shared with others seeking a roommate. Once you make a match, please let Bobbi know so that she can remove your name from the list.

To contact Bobbi: Rking24600@comcast.net

04 March 2009

An archive in Germany collapses -- literally

When I got home from work today, I read the news headlines that I receive each day via Google. A headline from Spiegel Online International chilled me: "History in Ruins: Archive Collapse Disaster for Historians."

The building housing the city archive of Cologne, Germany literally collapsed. This archive is the largest municipal archive in Germany and had shelves of manuscripts, photos, books, and artifacts that would run twenty miles long if laid end to end. Among the thousands of documents are items as early as 922 A.D, receipts from the 1300s and 1400s, 700 years of city council minutes, papers of well-known Germans, 104,000 maps, and 500,000 maps.

Archivists and staff made it out safely, but it is feared that two residents of an adjacent building may not have survived. The 14 pictures at the link above are devastating. Speculation is that work underground on a subway system may have caused the disaster.