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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Old Letters, postcards & telegrams

I have hundreds of old letters, postcards and telegrams. Most are from my uncle to my Grandmother and Grandfather, during WW1, from Germany. He was killed after the war in a rail yard at the age of 21. I would like to display these letters or at least put them in a binder. I have tried transcribing them, but the impact of reading them in their original state is tremendous. How do I go about saving all of them and still be able to read and display them? Right now they are in an acid free box, in their original envelopes. -- Thank you, Janet.

The importance of laying the letters flat hit me between the eyes, when I recently looked at a letter my mother wrote to me in the mid 1970s. Even in this short time, the outer-most page has become so brittle that it is starting to crack on the fold line.

Archivists will tell you the best way to store paper items is:
-- flat
-- in acid-free, low heat & low humidity conditions
-- away from light
It looks like you are 2/3 there with the acid free box.

Here are my recommendations:
1. Determine if the pages will crack if placed flat. If so, then we must address the issue of increasing the humidity to "gradually" open them. This DOESN'T mean spray them with your steam iron -- THAT would make the ink run. I recommend contacting your county historical society for recommendations on local archivists. Alternately, you can find out about archival products from and look for books on archival methods through your local public library.

2. Scan or color photocopy each item and use these copies from now on when transcribing the handwriting.

3. Place each photocopy in a top-loading sheet protector and place in chronological order in a 3-ring binder for display.

4. Following each photocopy, place the printout of the word-for-word transcription. If you have pages where there is no writing on the back, try to place the original on the left-facing page, and the transcription on the right. In this manner your reader can directly identify with the handwritten page as he is reading your interpretation of the handwriting.

5. Observe normally-accepted transcription guidelines, i.e.

-- Do not add or subtract any letters.

-- Maintain spelling and punctuation of the original.

-- Do not edit by adding last names or states where only first name or a town is given. You could be wrong.

-- Where you cannot decipher a letter type a question mark for each supposed missing letter, and place it in square brackets such as:

[??] represents 2 unrecognizable letters.

-- If you MUST make comments, do them on a separate sheet, and clearly label them: [NOTES FROM TRANSCRIBER] or some such.

REMEMBER: there is a difference between an ABSTRACT of a letter and a TRANSCRIPTION of a letter.

ABSTRACT – a few essential words from the original
TRANSCRIPTION – word for word from the original
You want to do transcriptions.

Well, let's talk about what the experts do. I am thinking back to my visit to the Georgia State Archives. I ordered a particularly large Confederate Civil War file from the vault. It had letters sent home from a soldier in the field, and included a small suede-covered 2"x4" notepad of sorts, with perhaps 10-12 pages.

-- The file came to me in an acid-free box with acid-free folders inside.

-- All of the letters were removed from their envelopes, and were laying flat.

-- There were about 30 pages and envelopes per file folder.

The folders didn't seem to be in chronological order. It appeared that the system was designed to make it easier to look at some of the items without disturbing the other items in the collection.
You can purchase acid-free folders through Light Impressions.

As for sending the originals to a state archive, why not consider eventually sending them to the US Army Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania? Include with your submission, a report of the Uncle, his service unit, etc. Your uncle’s collection will be catalogued by his name AND his service unit. From a genealogical point of view, this makes it easier for others who had ancestors in the same unit to find his letters which were actually reports of his life and times over in Germany during the war.

When I think back on my Civil War ancestors, I have yet to discover a diary or letters. I’ve learned only a little about their days in service from their pension files. However, I’ve learned a lot about one of the soldiers because a much has been written in diaries and official entries about his unit. By comparing dates of service, I know that the driving rain described by another soldier was also endured by my ancestor, as they were both privates. That other soldier described the meager provisions, lack of adequate food, and the fact that they were camped on a river bank, with the waters rising. The want of one egg to eat was a major theme.

I am so grateful that the family of that other soldier made those personal letters available to the public. A little note here and a sentence there helped me picture what my soldier ancestor was going through on that stormy night’s camp by the riverside.

Your large collection of letters with seemingly personal comments is a very valuable eye-witness report of what life was like during WWI and during his service in Germany. Whether you chose to create a website and keep the originals, or share them as I have suggested, do consider how important it is that people learn what happened to your Uncle and his unit while they served in the military.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

Saturday, July 30, 2005

UPDATE 2005: The Internet, Genealogists & the Future - Part 7 (final)


SMARTER EXPORT CAPABILITIES OF GENEALOGY SOFTWARE, particularly where it comes to embedding the linked photos and scanned documents. Right now it’s cumbersome to place copies of scanned images with an imported database into the exact directory structure on your computer as indicated by links to those images from your cousin’s computer. In fact the current GEDCOM (export) capabilities can preserve the links, but do not copy the digital images, so its more than likely y our cousin won’t think to send all the photos he’s collected, scanned and linked to ancestors in his database. The genealogy software producers have just about perfected the other parts of their genealogy programs, so hopefully they will be able to spend R&D time working out the links in this area, while still maintaining the lost cost of $29 for the average program.

MORE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE – Artificial intelligence is the up and coming tool for savvy genealogists. Out dining room tables aren’t large enough and our brains aren’t fast enough to correlate the dates/localities where our ancestors once lived with online genealogy databases and library catalogs. That’s where programs like GenSmarts step in and evaluate our compiled genealogies. Computers are quicker at noticing a timeline or migration pattern, and point to a list of databases and books to continue research for evidence of our ancestors. Even my own column could be "read" to you by a "virtual Myrt." We have the technology and we know how to use it.

CREATIVE TOMBSTONING: Have you noticed that some tombstones how include a small ceramic photo like those described at : ? How about an interactive tombstone, where you can download the photo and pages of family, history of the deceased to your Thumb or laptop? Memory Medallions

COMPUTER-BASED TRAINING: Combining online tutorials, interactive chat rooms and detailed genealogy research assignments, we’ll see more genealogy classes like those offered at:
• Brigham Young University http://familyhistory/
• National Genealogical Society
• National Institute for Genealogical Studies in partnership with the University of Toronto

ORDERING MICROFILM ONLINE TO BE PRESENTED IN DIGITAL FORMAT at If digital scanners can work through a microfilm at 3 frames per second, and if there are 1200 frames per 35mm roll, it will take a little over 6 minutes to digitize the entire reel. This will greatly streamline the current microfilm ordering process, since it takes more than six minutes to pull a microfilm, print a mailing label, box and ship a reel to your local LDS Family History Center. Once the film is digitized and placed on a website, it can be available to anyone else online as well. Why is this important?

As it stands now, the Family History Library’s "collection includes over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records, 742,000 microfiche, 310,000 books serials and other formats, 4,500 periodicals, 700 electronic resources." IBID. Note: "Approximately 200 cameras are currently microfilming records in over 45 countries. Records have been microfilmed in over 110 countries, territories and possessions." IBID. In an interview this week, Mike Provard, of Family History Support, talked more about this worldwide microfilming project. He explained that at this point "a small percentage of the microfilming is now done with digital cameras" and that "the microfilming projects are still going strong."

MORE SOURCE DOCUMENTS As I wrote back in 1998, "online index references to ancestors are not considered first-hand or primary sources of information. It is most certainly at least one step removed from the original document. Even if someone painstakingly typed in all the information from an old will propped on the desk beside his keyboard, you must admit there will understandably be transcription errors. It is humanly impossible to decipher every single word of an ancient document without error. Even our understanding of the meanings of words has changed over time. Also we must consider the reliability of the source of the information." Now, despite improvements in OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology, which work only on typed documents, we’re still at the mercy of indexers.

WAYBACK MACHINE BECOMES INCREASINGLY POPULAR The webmaster explains "Browse through 30 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago." I first learned about this tremendous archive from Robert Ragan of "Pajama Genealogy" fame. All too often a smaller family history website closes down, making links to that source of genealogy data obsolete. Simply copy/paste the original URL from your source citation to the Wayback Machine to view the page in its original form.

WHAT WAS TRUE IN 1998 WE STILL CAN’T IGNORE: There is simply no substitute for obtaining a copy of an original document proving our lineage.

Fortunately more digitized images of original old documents are showing up on the web every day. Genealogists compile reliable family histories when basing lineage assumptions on a variety of primary record sources. These are documents created at the time an ancestor lived.
If genealogists can find online scanned images of the documents in great-grampa’s probate packet, does this mean an end of research in dusty old courthouse books or ancient parish registers? Probably not in my lifetime.

NOTE: Originally published in The Godfrey Update, Winter 2005 pp 16-19.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207
UPDATE 2005: The Internet, Genealogists & the Future - Part 6

MEGA LIST SITES & GLOBAL SEARCH CAPABILITIES – In 1998 I stated that "sites listing or indexing other sites are useful when figuring out where to go on the information super highway are provided free due to support from commercial sponsors. Most webmasters site a handful of other genealogy sites as their particular favorites. However, experienced internet genealogists have long favored Cyndi Howells’ List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet." is still there, though everything is not listed. Alternatives include:

• Matt & April Helm’s Tool Box

• Genealogy Resources on the Internet

• Google, particularly the advanced search

DNA STUDIES – In 1998 I didn’t even write about DNA studies. Periodically, I receive an email from someone wanting a referral to a DNA service to fill in names on his family tree. DNA studies currently compare DNA from individuals to determine relationship. They can also place one’s genes as originating in a particular country or region of the world. DNA studies are not going to tell you the name of your 2nd great-grandfather and explain his military service during the US Civil War.

• Family Tree DNA reports "There is no reason to expect that two participants should match because they have the same surname and are from the same country. Surnames can have multiple points of origin, within a country as well as in more than one country, and migrations spread a surname geographically."

• Oxford Ancestors "Offers DNA-based services in genealogy MatriLine(tm) uses mitochondrial DNA to place a person in am evolutionary framework going back 150,000 years. MatriLine(tm) interprets your maternal ancestry linking you – if your roots are in Europe – to one of seven "foremothers."

• Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation explains "The SMGF has a large y-chromosome portions of their database available to search. This dataset links y-chromosome haplotypes, surnames, dates and places of birth prior to the 1900s.

MEDICAL FAMILY HISTORIES – In 1998 I didn’t write about the need to compiled a medical family history. As the practice of medicine expands understanding of the human body and the impact of inherited tendencies for disease, the importance of tracking our medical pedigrees becomes increasingly evident. GeneWeaver is a program that will assist you in maintaining a database with printable charts to take with you to the doctor’s office.

[continued in next posting]

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207
UPDATE 2005: The Internet, Genealogists & the Future - Part 5

NOTE: Originally published in The Godfrey Update, Winter 2005 pp 16-19.

FREE GENEALOGY WEB SITES In 1998 I wrote about www.RootsWeb and www.USGenWeb particularly to point up the value of volunteerism. Indeed these and continue to thrive as experienced researchers provide useful links and research tips. Here’s a smattering of what else is out there: the website of the Family History Library currently boasts 11.6 million hits per day. Include: Ancestral File IGI, 1881 British & Canadian Census Index 1880 US Federal Census Index, FHL Catalog, Pedigree Resource File and valuable research outlines for each US state, Canadian province and most major countries or regions of the world. provides a searchable index to over 22 million people who came through the Port of New York between 1892-1924. Links include scanned images of original passenger lists, in addition to descriptions and photos of ships. Library of Congress’ American Memory Project providing access "to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity." The National Park Service’s Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System database of over 5 million entries for both Union & Confederate. FreeBMD aims to "transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and to provide free Internet access to the transcribed records. It currently holds nearly 105 million records. Home of the Immigrant Ship’s Transcribers Guild. including the Slave Data Project and how-to articles. scanned and searchable pages from the published Pennsylvania Archives. GENUKI stands for Genealogy of the UK and Ireland. features Family Finder, ShtetLinks of over 200 communities, ShtetlSeeker and perhaps the largest project known as the Jewish Records Indexing-Poland. Name searches employ the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System.

[continued in next posting]

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

Thursday, July 28, 2005

UPDATE 2005: The Internet, Genealogists & the Future - Part 4

NOTE: Originally published in The Godfrey Update, Winter 2005 pp 16-19.

MEMBERSHIP FEES SOMETIMES REQUIRED – In 1998 I stated, "In my opinion, certain websites are justified in charging for the presentation of genealogical material, especially where there are acquisition, programmer and royalty fees that must be paid. However, this is not to discount the incredible amount of valuable free information out on the Net."

I still agree with this, and to every genealogist’s delight, we’ve had an incredible influx of reliable index databases and scanned image web sites. If we walked into an ancestor’s distant courthouse, we’d be paying for gas (currently over $2 per gallon,) food, and lodging in addition to photocopies, so why not speed up the process using online resources?"

Using major credit cards over secure servers removes the once cumbersome process of making payments via snail mail with fluctuating foreign currency exchange rates.

I still recommend subscribing to and Newcomers of note since 1998 (in no particular order) include: solves the difficult search of quarterly indexes of birth, marriage and deaths for England & Wales 1837-2002, British Nationals overseas 1761-1994. Using codes listed by an ancestor’s name in the index, one may order certificates over the Internet for immediate processing. (NOTE: I received 2 death records and a marriage record within 2 weeks of ordering online, from the Public Record Office England to my home in Florida.)

• HeritageQuestOnline. HQ wobbled back and forth with various owners, but has settled with ProQuest, known for its extensive UMI archives. Since the service is sold to libraries, individual researchers must arrange a method for access. I chose to use the venerable Godfrey Library’s brand new Genealogy Portal where I may search HQO and hundreds of other genealogy databases with the click of a mouse.

• Census View at Scanned images of 1790-1930 US Federal Census [ages to be browsed or searched via independent indexing projects. Yes, ol’ Myrt here uses both HQO and Ancestry census pages, checking for an ancestor in each index and deciding which census page looks best for a printout. Ancestry also has hundreds of maps and databases for most parts of the US and the UK. is one of the best examples of how a national government can make public vital records available online, for a small fee. Particularly useful is the ability to search for an ancestor by name. is the online home of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, founded in 1847.

[Continued in the next posting.]

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

UPDATE 2005: The Internet, Genealogists & the Future - Part 3

NOTE: Originally published in The Godfrey Update, Winter 2005 pp 16-19.

Back in 1998, Heritage Quest Magazine featured one of my DearMYRTLE columns titled "THE INTERNET, GENEALOGISTS & THE FUTURE" as the cover story for the Nov/Dec issue. As usual, it began with a letter from a reader:
From: An Inquiring Mind
I have begun studying my family history using the internet. Why is it that nearly every place I go requires a membership fee? Is this reasonable?

Would you believe that I continue to receive emails of this sort a few times a day from genealogy newbies all over the world? So, honestly, have things changed much for genealogists during the past 7 years?

YES, but people are still justifiably confused by the plethora of genealogy sites – some charging, some not. Quite frankly a Google™ search returning "about 7,340,000 hits for Smith family in 0.70 seconds" is daunting to say the least. But if I were to rate the future prospects for genealogical research, I’d give it "two thumbs up."

Let’s compare some of my 1998 predictions with what has happened, and at the end, I’ll throw in a few new predictions. As fast as things are happening in the world of genealogical technology, you can bet it won’t be another 7 years before we’ll need another update.

ADVERTISING IS A NECESSARY EVIL BUT -- In 1998 I stated "The real fact is it costs money to run a web site. Someone has to pay for it. If genealogists aren’t willing to pay subscription fees to offset costs, then advertising is the alternative." I recall mentioning that I don’t mind looking at an add for peanut butter sandwiches as long as the jelly doesn’t spill on my computer.

Little did I know it would be "cookies" not "jelly" that could take over my computer and slow things down to a crawl. I quite simply didn’t anticipate how insidious the advertising would become in 7 years. I particularly detest the banner ads made to look like real Windows ® operating system warnings, such as "Your computer has a deadly virus, click here to fix it (or else!) If you make the innocent mistake of clicking something other than the X to close the window, you are taken to an offensive site, and within a matter of minutes, your computer is dilled with literally hundreds of unseen "cookies" that report your every move on the net to web advertisers.

Just as we all remember the olden days when people didn’t bother to lock their cars or front doors, so too were we living a life of "internet innocence" back in 1998. Now, SPAM is no longer just a type of processed meat that comes in a can, and SPIM (SPAM Instant Messages) mar our view of the information super highway with raunchy invitations that would make a sailor blush. Keeping our computers clean and functioning at capacity in this day and age requires careful attention to activating a firewall, adding spy software (life Spyware Blaster & SpyBot) and setting up automatic anti-virus updates and daily scans with programs like McAfee and Norton AV, augmented by periodic online scans offered by specialists like

MEMBERSHIP FEES SOMETIMES REQUIRED – In 1998 I states, "In my opinion, certain websites are justified in charging for the presentation of genealogical material, especially where there are acquisition, programmer and royalty fees that must be paid. However, this is not to discount the incredible amount of valuable free information out on the Net." I still agree with this, and to every genealogist’s delight, we’ve had an incredible influx of reliable index databases and scanned image web sites. If we walked into an ancestor’s distant courthouse, we’d be paying for gas (currently over $2 per gallon,) food, and lodging in addition to photocopies, so why not speed up the process using online resources" Using major credit cards over secure servers removes the once cumbersome process of making payments via snail mail with fluctuating foreign currency exchange rates. I still recommend subscribing to and

Newcomers of note since 1998 (in no particular order) will be listed in the next part of this lengthy article.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Where my web visitors live

Every now and then I do the stats on my website <> to determine what interests my visitors. Interestingly enough, these are the home countries one day last week:

COUNTRY % of total visitors
MALTA 2.78
CHINA 0.46
JAPAN 0.46
SPAIN 0.46
ITALY 0.31

I am assuming the Saudi Arabian login is from someone serving in the military? How about a personal email from the one person who signed on from Latvia? Let me know where your ancestors are from, and how future columns might be more useful to you.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

UPDATE 2005: The Internet, Genealogists & the Future - Part 2

NOTE: Originally published in The Godfrey Update, Winter 2005 pp 16-19.

I’ll check into my hotel room showing the reservation confirmation from There I will enjoy stand-fare high speed Internet access for my laptop so I can PayPal® $20 to my grandson and send him a BlueMountain® birthday e-card. Next I’ll firewire the PalmCorder® to my laptop and locate a short video clip of the day’s travel to send to my children. Fortunately their Gmail™ and Yahoo® accounts provide 1 GIG of free storage space. For dinner, I’ll meet at the home of a long-lost cousin, who will probably ask me for a copy of my compiled genealogy. I’ll be happy to share the database, digital photos and scanned documents since I keep the most recent backup on my key chain in a 512MB ThumbDrive™. I am hoping he will have more interesting data on my collateral Muhlenburg line, which I can download to my Thumb as well.

When I return home, I’ll eBay® some vintage postcards and a family bible rescued from a garage sale on the way home from the airport. I’ll detail my genealogical gleanings on surname boards at™, make a few mailing list postings at RootsWeb send some tombstone photos to the USGenWeb Archives and enter another childhood memory in my personal blog.

I’ll order that new genealogy how-to book at and ask them to locate an out-of-print book about Pennsylvania Germans. Since my Romba® really knows how to clean up fore me, I’ll have plenty of time to create a digital report of my research trip. I’ll simply use Windows Movie Maker to splice together an assortment of video clips, adding digital copies of ancestor photos touched up in PhotoShop. I’ll insert personal impressions as a voice over. I’ll download an MP3 of Scott Joplin’s "Maple Leaf Rag" for a dramatic musical ending before burning the entire presentation to CD.

Switching gears, I’ll still have time, while microwaving dinner, to import my cousin’s database from my Thumb to my mail genealogy program on my desktop. To relax, I’ll catch a TIVO of the latest BBC episode of "Who do you think you are?" and Ancestry’s "Extreme Reunions" on my wide screen, high definition plasma TV with surround sound. After my shower, I’ll hit the remote to set the house alarm and adjust the outdoor lighting before I hit the sack. For comic relief I’ll read the a best selling e-book on my Palm®, using old-fashioned bifocals, since we won’t make that decision about Lasik eye surgery until early next summer.

In the morning I’ll make the 30 second commute to the studio in my home office, recording a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) telephone interview with a noted Italian genealogy research expert, and schedule it to air on my next DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour internet radio show. Then I’ll happily spend the rest of the morning carefully match/merging duplicates in my genealogy database. I’ll spend a few hours after lunch solving new research challenges posed by GenSmarts before polishing up a column on the subject for release later in the week.

THE FUTURE? One thing’s for sure: I will be the FIRST one in line for a "spell check" brain implant.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

UPDATE 2005: The Internet, Genealogists & the Future - Part 1

NOTE: Originally published in The Godfrey Update, Winter 2005 pp 16-19.

THAT WAS THEN: Back in the "dark ages" of the Internet circa 1998, I wrote: "...Hmmm! Improved access to original documents through effective indexing and scanning projects -- all available at a reasonable cost through the Internet! Then our research dollars can be saved for visiting the places our ancestors once lived. NOTHING can substitute for getting the lay of the land by strolling exactly where our ancestors once walked! Throw in a restored homestead or a church cemetery and I am in heaven!"

THIS IS NOW: In the spring of 2005, I'll take that research trip. Once I've updated my schedule on my Palm(r), I'll fly up to Pennsylvania using my latest winning-bid e-ticket from Priceline(r). At the airport I'll Blackberry(r) my family that I have arrived safely before I pick up the electric & gas-powered hybrid rental, prearranged on line, of course. I'll drive to Conrad Weiser's 18th century homestead following directions provided by MapQuest(r), augmented by the car's onboard navigation system. The new PalmCorder(r) will come in handy to document my tour of the homestead; and I'll use it to take some still shots of Conrad's writing desk, spring house and keeping room fireplace for the Weiser Family website. I'll mark the spot of his wife Anne Eve Feck's tombstone with my hand-held GPS. If in my excitement I lock the keys in the car, I can always call On-Star(r) for remote access.

[To be continued tomorrow.]

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Parish Locator Program


Remember that ol' Myrt is attempting to learn more about doing ENGLISH genealogical research? While awaiting my confirmation of registration for the class at, I've been looking around the internet at some options. I stumbled across the PARISH LOCATOR PROGRAM

"This UK Parish Locator program is freeware and will run on Windows 95/98, ME, NT, Windows 2000 & Windows XP. The Database is available to users of other operating systems as a CSV file. The Windows program enables you to locate any one of over 15,000 UK parishes. It will produce a list of parishes in any County or a list of parishes within a given radius of any other parish [...]"

When searching for a parish, for records of christening, marriage or burial, we sometimes must expand our search to include the surrounding areas, in ever-widening circles. Typically, folks didn't move too far from home base, unless they chose to really pull up stakes and emigrate.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Childhood Memories


Suppose you picked up a printed family history, or visited a family history
website and ALL it included were names, dates and places. There would be:

  • no biographies

  • no source citations

  • no chronicles of family traditions

Talk about an antiseptic world!

Talk about an unbelievable compiled family history.

We need the facts, but...

there in black and white in notes for each person on our family tree because:

  • we knew them personally

  • our parents told us about them

  • our grandparents or other relatives told us
    about them

  • we found something written (obit, county
    history, military unit history) about them

This morning a friend wrote about a recipe he found
for "APPLE CRISP." He mentioned that he had asked his mother about it
toward the end of her life, but her stove was broken, so they didn't press her
for details. Now that she has gone, he wishes he had at least helped her make
it, and then taken it home to his place to bake it. Isn't it interesting how
childhood memories of food seem to rate high on our list of favorite things?

Why not write up a little story about something
as seemingly insignificant as Mom's Apple Crisp?

Put the the apple crisp
story right there in notes for your mom. Write a paragraph in your Dad's notes
about his favorite things -- working on the boat, preparing for a bow hunting
trip with the guys, a baseball game. (That reminds me, I am perhaps the only
daughter who truly appreciated that her dad once gave her season tickets to the
University of Washington Huskies football games for a Christmas present.) I
should write about that, and how my dad took me to a few games (just the 2 of
us) when I lived nearby as a young mother.

Funny how little recollections of one incident will
lead to another, for instance:

bus to the orthodontist by myself. We thought nothing of it in the early 1960s,
quite different from life in 2005! I walked about 2 miles from our home at 4216
55th NE in Laurelhurst to the bus stop across the street from the Rexall
(spelling?) Drugstore. Somehow I had been taught to get off at the right stop
and walk another block or two to the ortho's office.

I inadvertently stole a small 18 cent pink eraser from that drug store at about
the same time. I was shopping for back-to-school items while mom sat under the
hair dryer at the nearby beauty salon. I was probably in 4th or 5th grade. I was
trying to juggle an fountain pen, a bottle of ink, a notebook and filer paper
with a pack of pencils and that darned eraser. I remember attempting to look
through a stack of 3x5 inch small spiral pads, but the eraser kept falling to
the floor. (Was this in the days before shopping carts?) Anyway, I guess I put
the eraser in the pocket of my light-weight jacket and I didn't find it until
the next spring when I wore the jacket again. At that time I was paralyzed by
fear, and didn't do anything. Years later as an adult I returned to Seattle, and
drove past the the site, and found that the drugstore building was empty. I
can't imagine how my 18 cent error put the Rexall out of business, but that is
the first thought that crossed my mind. They have amnesty for overdue books at
the library, but there was no way I could "fix" the pink eraser

So, DearREADERS, let's "flesh out" our
family tree by making anecdotal entries
in addition to the names, dates and
places in our genealogy software. Entering childhood memories could really make
or family histories much more interesting for the generations that follow.

Happy family tree climbing!

Myrt :)


6023 26th Street West PMB 352

Bradenton, FL 34207

Friday, July 22, 2005

READERS' FEEDBACK: Decorative pins for Antimacassars & Chesterfields

Re: Decorative pins for Antimacassars & Chesterfields

Susan's request to find the name of a certain type of pin used to hold antimacassars to the furniture they protected explained that most had a decorative head and a cork screw pin.

From: Al Jensen
-- We used to call the pins upholstery pins.
-- The term 'Chesterfield' is a Canadian name for a sofa.

From: Jan Turner
I don't know what these are called, but I have used them as recently as the 1990s to hold chair arm covers on a recliner.

From: Warren Artley

My mother used these in central Pennsylvania over 60 years ago, and I know we have used them here in Bradenton in the past 14 years.
I am emailing the result of my search to find the screw-in pins for sofas because prices and firms are not usually allowed on genealogy websites.
I found on page 68, home furnishing in Home Trends catalog the requested items. They call them upholstry locks, item # 030044, a 24 pack for $8,95, 2 packs for $14.00. See: Hope this satisfies your individual with the requirement to screw the arm & head covers to sofas & overstuffed chairs. Always enjoy your news letter!
Chuck Beal,
Project Coordinator/Manager: Beal Surname Dna Project
Member Of National Genealogical Society, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Old York Historical Society, Mayflower Society, Beals Historic Society, Clan Bell International and the Beall Family Association

So we can tell Susan, that from our collective recollections, the decorative pins with the cork-screw type shafts were merely called upholstery pins or upholstery locks. These are not to be confused with upholstery tacks, which are those decorative nail heads used in long rows around the edges of a chair, ottoman, sofa or headboard to hold the fabric in place and to add a distinctive detail. I initially saw them on a dark green leather chair in the den of our home as a child.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Clogging the System -- NOT!!

This morning I've spent too much time trying to work through some problems between researchers who post to one of the RootsWeb message boards I administer as a volunteer. That crept into my "column writing' time. Being the creative type, and wishing to "kill 2 birds with 1 stone" I've decided to let you in on the results of my efforts. These are the postings I had to make to rectify the situation:

Someone recently replied to a PIERCE COUNTY WASHINGTON message board posting by stating (quite erroneously):

"...Another example of the needless posting of obituaries using server space for no one inquiring. Please ask RootsWeb to stop the indiscriminate posting of obituaries. It takes up a lot of bandwidth, and will ultimately slow inquires, as well as ultimately cause servers to fail for lack of space."

Such inaccurate and inappropriate message board postings will not be tolerated.

The server space and access lines provided by Ancestry/RootsWeb/MyFamily are more than adequate to handle the load.

Transcriptions of all types are encouraged, where copyright infringements are not at issue. A greater volume of postings increases the likelihood that researchers will make a connection with information on members of their family trees.

Such "flaming" will not be tolerated. Consider this fair warning that any offending parties will be dropped from access to this message board.

Pat Richley,
Message Board Adminstrator
Pierce County, Washington

These RootsWeb message boards are for the free public exchange of genealogical research advice and information.

Please be advised that it is inappropriate to use these message boards as a means to solicit business, whether through board postings or private email.

It is also inappropriate to use these public message boards to offer research services as a method to circumvent another researcher's joining a "pay-per-view" website such as:
-- HeritageQuestOnline
-- (including census images online)

For guidelines about the use of these message boards see:



If family historians wish to hire an experienced genealogical researcher, may I suggest:
HIRING A PROFESSIONAL GENEALOGISTS (Research Outline from the Family History Library):



Association of Professional Genealogists

Pat Richley,
Message Board Administrator
Pierce County, Washington

As you can see "Pat Richley" is a lot sterner than this half of my split personality - Ol' Myrt here is going for a lunch break. Heavens! It's 1pm.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Decorative pins for Antimascassars & Chesterfields

From: Susan Porter
I belong to an antique button collectors society and on-line chat group. We're having a discussion about doilies and antimacassars and I know there were a certain type of pin used to hold these items to the furniture they protected, but I can't think of the name for them. Most had a decorative head and a cork screw pin. Thanks in advance.

We need your input on this one. I believe we can purchase these now, to hold the arm-rests in place that come with our new sofas. Remember when we used to call sofas:
-- davenports
-- chesterfields

Do you know if these terms were more locality-specific? I grew up in Seattle, Washington in the 1950s.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tracing Black History Through Genealogy And DNA Science


Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola to Underwrite AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIVES, a New PBS Series Tracing Black History Through Genealogy And DNA Science, Premiering February 2006

"The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE: PG - News) and The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO - News) will underwrite AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIVES, an unprecedented four-hour series on PBS that takes Alex Haley's Roots saga to a whole new level. Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois professor of the Humanities and chair of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University, AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIVES will air February 2006 on PBS. The series is a co-production of Thirteen/WNET New York and Kunhardt Productions Inc. "

For more information read the complete article:

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207
Majoring in Family History

Does BYU still offer long-distance courses for Genealogy Certificate? What did we use to call it.... oh yes, correspondence classes. I took some courses but did not make enough headway to get the certificate.

Indeed Brigham Young University does offer several family history learning tracks:
-- on campus in Provo, Utah
-- independent study
-- free online classes
This link provides explanation for obtaining the following status in Family History studies through on campus studies at Brigham Young University:
-- Major 45 hours
-- Minor 24 hours
-- Certificate 18 hours
The Center for Family History and Genealogy is located in 1031 of the new Joseph F. Smith building.

Center for Family History and Genealogy
1031 JFSB
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah 84602
801-422-0928 FAX

Director: George Ryskamp
Associate Director: Kip Sperry
Administrative Services Supervisor: Lula Knudson

Teachers include: Shauna Anderson, Donna Breckenridge, Jill Crandell, Kathryn Daynes, Cynthia Doxey, Thomas Edlund, Roger Flick, Gerald Haslam, Amy Oaks Long, Paola Manfredi, Marilyn Markham, Kory L. Meyerink, Roger Minert, Paul Pixton, George Ryskamp, Kip Sperry and Basil Yang. From time to time you will see their names on the internet. Now you know what they are talking about when it comes to family history!

There is also a family history certificate program through the Independent Study Program:

"The Certificate Program in Family History (Genealogy) is designed for those persons not desiring to complete all of the requirements for a degree or who can't return to campus to do so. The certificate program provides a solid background in fundamental family history research principles coupled with specialized genealogical training in a particular geographical area."

"The certificate requires 18 hours of course work: HIST 400, The Family and the Law in American History (3 hours); HIST 421, English Language Handwriting and Documents (3 hours); HIST 481R*, Directed Research in Family History (13 hours); two source courses (6 hours); one elective course (3 hours)."

The website explains: "The certificate program should not be confused with certification. The certificate program can help prepare you, but is not required, for certification or accreditation, two separate, private forms of qualifying professional genealogists. For information regarding certification or accreditation, you may write to:

-- Board for Certification of Genealogists, P.O. Box 14291, Washington, DC 20044
-- ICAPGen, P.O. Box 1144, Salt Lake City, UT 84110. Call 1-888-463-6842 or check online at Email for information regarding accreditation."

Ol' Myrt might add that the website for the Board for Certification of Genealogists is:

Family History/Genealogy - Introductory
FHGEN 68 — Finding Your Ancestors
FHGEN 69 — Providing Temple Ordinances for Your Ancestors
FHGEN 70 — Introduction to Family History Research
FHGEN 80 — Helping Children Love Your Family History

Family History/Genealogy - Record Type
FHREC 71 — Family Records
FHREC 73 — Vital Records
FHREC 76 — Military Records

Family History/Genealogy - Regional and Ethnic
FHFRA 71 — France: Immigrant Origins
FHFRA 72 — France: Vital Records
FHFRA 73 — France: Reading French Handwriting
FHFRA 74 — France: Genealogical Organizations and Periodicals
FHFRA 75 — France: The Internet and French Genealogy
FHFRA 76 — French Research: Paris
FHFRA 77 — French Research: Alsace-Lorraine
FHGER 71 — Germany: Immigrant Origins
FHGER 72 — Germany: U.S. Sources and Surname Changes
FHGER 73 — Germany: Jurisdictions, Gazetteers, and Maps
FHGER 74 — Germany: Reading German Handwriting
FHGER 75 — Germany: Calendars and Feast Days
FHGER 76 — Germany: Vital Records
FHHUG 71 — Huguenot Research
FHSCA 73 — Scandinavia: Jurisdictions, Gazetteers, and Maps
FHSCA 74 — Scandinavia: Reading Gothic Script
FHSCA 75 — Scandinavia: Church Records and Feast Days
FHSCA 76 — Scandinavia: Census Records
FHSCA 77 — Scandinavia: Probate and Other Records

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207
ACROSS MY DESK: BYU Genealogy Conference 26-29 July 2005

[The following information was gleaned from <
Please address all inquiries to: ]

Genealogy and Family History Conference
July 26-29, 2005

2005 Theme "Building A Lasting Legacy"

The 37th annual BYU Genealogy and Family History Conference will be held July 26–29, 2005, in the BYU Conference Center. Seven information tracks will be available, Beginning Family History, Family History Center Support, Computers, Europe/Nordic Research, British Research, U.S. Research, Methodology and Publishing Family Histories. We invite you to attend the conference to build and strengthen your family ties through genealogy and family history. Keep in mind that limited housing is available.

BYU Religious Education, BYU History Department, Center for Family History and Genealogy, LDS Family History Library, and BYU Division of Continuing Education

For further program or registration information, please contact:
BYU Conferences and Workshops
136 Harman Continuing Education Building
Provo Utah 84602-1516
Registration by telephone (801) 378-8925
or call (801) 422-4853 or e-mail us at

Monday, July 18, 2005

ACROSS MY DESK: Genealogy Today Database of Biographical Sketches

June 14, 2005

Genealogy Today Launches Free Database of Biographical Sketches

Genealogy Today ( announced the availability of Biographical Sketches Online, a free service offering researchers access to images of short biographies published in various books by different groups and organizations.

"The amount of information in these sketches is incredible," explained Illya D'Addezio, owner of Genealogy Today. "In many cases they were written by the individual themselves, or at least they provided a good portion of the facts."

Biographical Sketches Online, accessible from the Genealogy Today home page, is a collection of images scanned from original materials owned by Genealogy Today. The index is fully searchable and integrated into the main site search. Instead of having to browse through pages of images, you can find out in seconds if any possible ancestors are in the collection.

The database launched today with several hundred sketches from three different books: History of Southwest Virginia and Washington County [VA]; 150 Years of Lodge No. 43 Lancaster [PA] (1785-1935); and Fitchburg [MA] Past and Present. Additional sources will be uploaded on a regular basis.

"In the past we have used these resources for individual research projects," added Illya. "Now we're making them available for anyone visiting our site -- all free of charge."

To access the Biographical Sketches Online database, visit the Genealogy Today home page at or go directly to the search page at

Genealogy Today has been helping connect families since 1999 with its unique collection of databases and search tools, original articles from experienced genealogists, and directory of local genealogy. With more than 43,000 registered members, Genealogy Today helps connect researchers with common family lines through its free Team Roots program.

Based in New Providence, NJ, it develops and markets online resources that help researchers track and organize their family history projects. The Genealogy Today web site also provides a marketplace of family tree products and gifts.

For Further Information Contact:Elaine Fraim, Media Coordinator(908) 963-1277
Attitudes & Courtesies

Last Friday was a red-letter day! I received the much anticipated winning entry for the 2005 BAD ATTITUDE EMAIL REQUEST from a reader who simply refused to do his/her homework. Though we've only just passed the half-way mark for the year, I am sure none will top this entry.

The individual initially asked that I explain the difference between A & B. It was a simple, 20-times-a-week-request, so I responded with the appropriate material. The same information is readily available for all 29,000+ mailings lists at RootsWeb (including DearMYRTLE's mailing list.) In reply, I received the aforementioned award-winning email, where the person insisted that my response was inadequate and demanded more information. I should have typed "demanded" in capital letters to more accurately reflect the writer's tone. I chose not to respond.

Let me say this: I certainly hope that person either receives an immediate attitude adjustment or refrains from any additional genealogical research.

He/she could seriously spoil things for the rest of us.

Being grouchy and demanding doesn't work with me -- but more importantly, it most certainly won't work with archivists, clerks of courts or librarians.

Fortunately most genealogists do their homework, and don't put the responsibility on everyone else for learning, postulating, sleuthing, thinking of alternative resources or record collections, and drawing conclusions about family history research.

We "save up" and don't ask our "big" questions until after we've spent hours attempting to solve the problem on our own, by reading how-to books, society newsletters and online articles, in addition to talking with fellow genealogists on or offline.

Unfortunately in this high-speed, instant-messaging world, a few people tend to expect things to be handled immediately.

But just as in the olden days before computers, we cannot expect people to instantly deliver our family history (everything we have on the Jones' family) to us on a silver platter.

In my case, I receive about 500-700 emails per day, and cannot answer each one personally. When the radio show starts again, that number will reach about 5,000 during a typical broadcast hour. YES, I do realize that some of you get quoted more often than others. I try to watch for "trends" in the email questions to determine topics for upcoming columns. Sometimes I am just talking about recent research experiences of my friends. This isn't a big corporation here. If you could see my computer desk, you'd understand.

Big corporations, governmental agencies and even ol' "Gramma Myrtle" organizations like this one have just plain, regular folks working there. These folks need our respect and appreciation. (I need to remember this when wondering how will handle my "lost" online class registration.) Regular folks will bend over backwards to help "nice" people out there. We all are put off by "huffy" people.

A little honey attracts more... well you know.

Hmmm, I wonder if a box of chocolates will be welcomed by the reference librarian in the next county?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207
Eastman on WHY we must think of alternatives to EMAIL

This past spring, I began providing DearMYRTLE's column in the new-fangled XML feed format. It is called DearMYRTLE's BLOG. My website has directions for two methods (among several additional) for RECEIVING the XML feed. The following page summarizes the alternatives:

-- the old (very unreliable) mailing list method
-- the new (more reliable) method using MyYahoo & SharpReader, etc.

In the July 13, 2005 Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, genealogy "techie" guru, Dick Eastman has written again to explain in reasonable terms WHY it is necessary to SWITCH to the newer method. Dick is always ahead of ol' Myrt here when it comes to the technical side of genealogical computing. In his article "Newsletters, Spam, and RSS: Get the Baby Out of the Bath Water" Dick writes "Unsolicited email, or spam, is flooding our in-boxes. Unfortunately, while trying to fix the spam problem, spam filters are often creating worse problems: frequently they are actually blocking some of the mail we want to receive, even (gasp!) this newsletter. It's a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

All sorts of things are being deleted from your in-box. Deletion happens more often on the Plus Edition newsletter because it is longer and is more likely to "trip" some of the spam filters' triggers. However, even the Standard Edition newsletter gets deleted occasionally.

The worst part is that when wanted mail is deleted from your in-box, nobody tells you about it. You don't know what is missing if you don't see it."

To read the rest of Dick Eastman's column, go to:

You can also find it by going to and searching for "bath water" without the quote marks. (Yes, it worked for me!)

I recommend switching to the NEWER METHOD today -- so you won't miss a single issue of Dick Eastman or (grin!) ol' DearMYRTLE.

PS - Please note that RSS and Atom are two types of XML format feeds. They "appear" the same to you, the reader.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207
Getting to those obscure surname books

RE: OCLC What is it and how can it help genealogists?

Well, you've done it again! Now I know a lot more about this valuable tool and found that I should have asked you first! I did try questioning two different reference librarians as suggested by Walt Stock, but that wasn't successful. I can't wait to try accessing the system as you and Kevin Beach outlined.

Myrt we do have one tiny little point of disagreement. I see OCLC as something far more useful to genealogists than a "last resort" tool. I know there are a few, very few, libraries that will lend the very valuable original old genealogies published in the mid to late 19th century. The short list I have of OCLC microfiche contains only those publications. For example, where could I find a copy of one fot he books I would find most useful in my research "A Historical and Biographical Genealogy of the Cushmans.......," by Henry W. Cushman, 1855? OCLC has it on it on 7 fiche under their no. 11822646. Or another, "Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America" by John H. Bliss, 1881 - OCLC #17237957, 10 fiche. Or another that Kevin Beach might also be interested in "The Beach Family in America," by Elmer T. Beach, 1923 - OCLC #17224185, 2 fiche.

I'll report back. -- Thanks for the help.

My previous columns did not mean to put down OCLC by any means. You are absolutely right about searching for a surname book using any library catalog (or OCLC) to locate that obscure, one-of-a-kind book. This IS an important thing for genealogists to do. Now that catalogs are online, this is a much easier task to accomplish. May I recommend searching every 6 months, in case additional items have been cataloged that might aid your genealogical research? Keep a "major surnames I'm working on" checklist, and work through it routinely.

OCLC is the original source for searching multiple library catalogs at once. I was accustomed to doing this through, where library catalog material is derived from OCLC. I think that Yahoo (or Google) is easier for the average person to use, because you don't need to sign in as a "member library" as with OCLC. The OCLC website explains this "Open WorldCat" approach: "A Web user visits a site such as Yahoo! Search or Google and enters a search phrase that matches the title of a library-owned item. The returned search results include a link to the Open WorldCat "Find in a Library" interface, where they can enter geographic information that helps them locate the item at a library in their city, region or country."

When planning a research trip to several towns and counties, I would typically work through individual library catalogs that I located through, because the libraries are in the same places where I plan to do courthouse and cemetery research.

Please DO tell us more about ordering the microfiche you found listed in OCLC. I wasn't aware that OCLC was actually creating the microfiche of old books, but I could be wrong. I see "your" microfiche as similar to any other library materials listed in OCLC. It’s a matter of borrowing the item through the local library system, IF both libraries participate in the ILL Inter Library Loan program.

By the way, to newbie researchers: some major genealogical collections, such as the FHL Family History Library, do not lend books. The FHL will lend microfilm and microfiche copies when available. In this last case, you'd need to check the surname section of the FHL Catalog online at: and order the material through your local FHC Family History Center. The FamilySearch website also contains a searchable listing of FHC addresses.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Registration: 24 hours and no response

RE: Myrt is taking an Online Course for English Researchers

Yesterday I wrote to encourage participation in online classes at, the parent company of I've heard only good things about these classes, know several of the instructors personally, and trusted that the online registration process is secure and reliable. I must report, however, that I DID NOT receive my class "invitation" within the hour of payment for the course, as described on the website:

I then followed the directions from the website:
"If you do not receive your invitation within one hour of registration: Please email us at"

I did this at 7:36pm yesterday, a full eight hours after making my payment to process registration.

I was careful to follow the more specific instructions which state "When emailing customer support: Please include your name and e-mail address, the name of the class for which you registered, and the date the class begins. To ensure prompt attention, please include "Online Genealogy Training Class" in the subject line of your e-mail." IBID.

I have yet to hear from anyone at MyFamily/Ancestry about the situation. My questions are:
-- Did my payment not "go through?"
-- Is there a computer glitch on MyFamily's side?
-- Should the webpage be changed to explain that registration will be completed within the hour (except for weekends, or only between 9-5pm Mountain Time Monday through Friday?)

I will keep my readers posted.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

Common Law Marriage, Different Fathers & Audit Trails

-- Common law marriage
-- Known siblings may have different fathers
-- Myrt's comments & audit trails
Just to add my point of view : ) As mentioned before, sometimes it was that there was no preacher around for marriage. Also, back long ago if they lived together for 7 or more years they were considered married. I think the term used was common law marriage.

My Father in law lost his father when he was very young, on one of the census he was listed as the son of his step father - on the other he was listed as step son.

As for the placement of marriage or non marriage information: Put what information you know in the [ancestors'] notes and leave it at that. Who are we to be the judge of our ancesters? Let by gones, be by gones.

From: Allison Ryall
I had to jump in with my two cents...
I had a family friend who knowing of my genealogy interest asked me to help find his father whom he had never met. I went through the typical genealogical records search and found the marriage record for his mother and father, found my friend's birth certificate listing his father, etc..

Through a complete stroke of luck I was able to locate the father who fortunately was still alive. The father was so excited to hear from my friend as he never even knew that he had a son. hen my friend and his father sat down to talk and compared dates they determined that there was NO way that he was the biological father. He was the biological father of my friend's sister but not of my friend. Apparently, the mother and father had split up two years before my friend was born although the divorce didn't take place until many years later. My friend's supposed father was stationed in Vietnam during those two years and had absolutely no contact with my friend's mother during that time. He simply was not the father. My friend will probably never know who is his real biological father.

Moral of the story is just because all genealogical evidence puts to something being so doesn't necessarily mean that it is (or was.) One hundred years from now genealogy research will link my friend to his supposed father as every piece of genealogical evidence leads to that conclusion. However, that wasn't the case at all.

Just something to think about.

There are a number of states that still recognize "common law" marriages. According to: the list includes:
Georgia (if created before 1/1/97)
Idaho (if created before 1/1/96)
New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only)
Ohio (if created before 10/10/91)
Oklahoma (possibly only if created before 11/1/98. Oklahoma's laws and court decisions may be in conflict about whether common law marriages formed in that state after 11/1/98 will be recognized.)
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Washington, D.C.

Try as we might, we're not going to be experts on state, province, colonial, federal or international laws. All we can do is report the information about an ancestor as we uncover it, explaining in detail the source of the information. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING by typing the full explanation in notes for each ancestor. Current genealogy programs allow for unlimited notes (based on the size of our computers' hard drives.) Include references to documents that you've found as well as collections you have searched where NO REFERENCE to your ancestor is listed. This demonstrates that you have been doing your "homework" and provides that clear audit trail for those that follow.

Ol' Myrt here refers to "leaving an audit trail" frequently. It is an old accounting term. When I worked at the old BankWest Mortgage Company in Bellevue, Washington, I was taught never to write in the checkbook register in pencil, but to use pen. If I had to change something, I was to cross it out. All supporting bills must be kept to explain an entry in the general ledger. This way there would be no question what happened during the accounting period. Genealogists need to develop the same attention to detail, so there will be no question which documents were discovered, and which ones need to be found to piece together what happened during an ancestor's life.

Evidence of our pedigrees does not just drop in our laps out of the blue. These documents are uncovered through painstaking research in courthouses, libraries, churches and archives. Since each governing body created it's own rules about the need for written documents, we quickly find that these documents were created and stored in a variety of formats. Handwriting, language, legal terms and even the necessity of keeping a type of record vary greatly from one place to another. Coming to terms with a greater understanding of these processes is the challenge of genealogists. Just because they kept a record in Ohio where column "A" is the first name of the bride or groom, doesn't mean the first name appears in the same position in all marriage records during the same time period. Other places may have decided to make entries with the surname/maiden name or the date of application or "???" appearing in column "A."

It’s a good thing we love playing Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys. We need our secret decoder rings, don't we?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Myrt is taking an Online Course for English Researchers

Ol' Myrt here has just signed for a class at (the parent company of I want to learn more about how to do genealogical research in England, so I chose an eight-session course:

Aug 25th - English Research with Sherry Irvine, B.A., MSc., CGRS, FSA Scot

I have heard Sherry speak before, and know from her professional credentials that she is quite knowledgeable. I also reviewed her extensive course outline. The classes will be "delivered" to my email box twice weekly, and I will work at my own pace. Although there are chat room options, it isn't yet clear if this will be used for this class.

I thought I'd give you the inside scoop on how these classes work.

1. It's Saturday at 11:30am Eastern US Daylight Time. I just registered. Within the hour, I should be receiving a "class invitation." explained that certain e-mail filters might place this in a "spam" folder. To prevent that, I've added and to my "allowed list."

2. I will need to use the latest version of Internet Explorer with Java scripts enabled. If you sign up, and you have a MAC, you'll need to use an older version to accomplish this.

3. I've made note of the comments " has reduced the price of its online genealogy classes to $29.95 from $39.95. To facilitate the price reduction, there will be one change; students will still have access to select collections, but only those that are relevant to the course. Details on which collections are available for each course will be listed on the course description page at the links provided." A brief check of the English Research course description explains I will have access during the 4-week term of the course to:

--'s U.K. & Ireland Collection
--'s U.S. Immigration Collection

If you are registering for an online genealogy course see:

Currently scheduled courses include:
-- Beginning Genealogy Computer Class
-- Intermediate Genealogy Research Class
-- Family Tree Maker 2005 Class
-- Writing My Family History/Newsletter Class
-- Immigration and Naturalization Research Class
-- World Census Records Class
-- Genealogical Research on the Internet
-- Irish Research
-- English Research
-- Scottish Research
-- German Basic Genealogy Research Class
-- German Intermediate Research Class
-- Eastern Europe Basic Research Class
-- Eastern Europe Intermediate Research Class
-- Basic Slovak Genealogy Research Class
-- Slovak Intermediate Research Class
-- Scandinavian Research Class
-- Native American Research Class
-- Jewish Basic Research Class
-- Jewish Internet Research Class
-- Northeastern United States Research Class
-- United States Great Lakes Region Class

I'll keep you posted on my progress.
Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207