Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Contact paper is not an archivist's tool

Before Ol' Myrt here unceremoniously deleted a reader's valid email, along with the usual SPAM, I noted in the preview screen that the request went something like this:

"I am getting an old family bible rebound with a new cover. The first pages have lots of family notations in pencil, but some pages have deteriorated and are in pieces. The bookbinder suggests using contact paper to keep things from falling apart."

AAACK!!! I am thinking you mean that clear contact paper that is normally used to line cupboard shelves. CERTAINLY NOT!

PLEASE understand that a regular book binder isn't necessarily an archivist.

There IS a type of paper used by trained archivists that looks like very thin tissue paper. It is low acid, and requires skill to use without further damaging the pages in question.

1. MAKE SURE your book binder is a member of The AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ARCHIVISTS, or is recommended by your state's archivist. Each state HAS an archivist, and some counties, such as Sarasota County, Florida have archivists that work in historic preservation positions with the government.

2. CAREFULLY MAKE PHOTOCOPIES of these precious family pages so they won't need to be handled unnecessarily.

3. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT PRESERVATION of family heirlooms, including study at these sites:

-- Library of Congress' "Preparing, Protecting, Preserving Family Treasures"

-- North East Document Conservation Center's "NEDCC Offers Hints for Preserving Family Collections"

-- A great Source for preservation materials (including an acid-free box for storing your family bible) see:

-- Northeast Document Conservation Center's "Supplier's List"

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)

DearMYRTLE, your friend in genealogy

Snail Mail Address:
227 Bellevue Way NE PMB 544
Bellevue, WA 98004
250,000+ certificates from 1905 to 1954 linked with index and images

NOTE: First info about this collection of online scanned images came from Meridian Magazine. To be sure, Ol' Myrt tried out this database using 12 of her ancestors, and this collection works beautifully. This is a taste of things to come (more images on the net). Here is the official news release from

Utah Death Certificates Now Online
18 January 2007

250,000+ certificates from 1905 to 1954 linked with index and images

SALT LAKE CITY — FamilySearch, in conjunction with the Genealogical Society of Utah and the Utah State Archives and Records Service, announced today that the state's free online index to death certificates is now linked to original images of the historic documents. The integration of the index with free digital pictures of the death certificates issued from 1905 to 1954 by the state will open doors to additional information for family historians and genealogists with Utah ties. To search the index and view the certificates, users need to go to

The online index to 250,000+ Utah deaths was created by the State Office of Vital Records and Statistics and has searchable information limited to the name of the deceased person, their date of death, sex, and where they died. The Utah State Archives turned to FamilySearch to help them get the digital images online. FamilySearch digitized the images and provided the technology to link the images of the certificates to the state's online index. The linking process was completed in just a few weeks — incredibly fast for a project of this nature and magnitude.

The names of Utah's deceased are now very much alive, searchable, and viewable online — and for free.

"There is so much more information of family history importance that can be found on the certificate itself," said Glen Fairclough, processing and reference archivist for the Utah State Archives. Before making the certificates viewable online, Fairclough said patrons had to order copies through the mail for a fee or visit the state archives office in person.

"The value of viewing the image of the original death certificate is that it saves you time, money, and provides rich genealogy data for the family historian," said Paul Nauta, manager of public affairs for FamilySearch. Captured on a death certificate are the names and birth places of the deceased person's parents, place and date of the decedent's birth, marital status, occupation, permanent residence, place and date of burial, time of death, chief cause and contributory factors of death, and if applicable, where illness was contracted and the duration of the illness.

The user merely needs to type in an ancestor's name that died in Utah between 1905 to 1954, and they will be directed to a brief summary of the ancestor's death certificate with a link to view the original image. Users need to simply click on the certificate image to see a larger, high quality view of the original death certificate.

For more information about the FamilySearch digital image linking technology or services, record custodians should contact Brad Wilkes,

Monday, January 22, 2007

5 Things You'll Wish You Didn't Know About Me

NOTE: Ol' Myrt was tagged by fellow genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, and challenged to come up with "5 things you don't want to know about me" and then tag others who aren't part of this round.

Five things you'll wish you didn't know about Ol' Myrt?

1. When I was a little girl of about 8, my grandmother invited me to go to the beach house while she and Grampa played pinochle. My response? "I DON'T WANT TO HANG OUT WITH ALL THOSE OLD PEOPLE." Now as a genealogist, all I do is hang out with the old people, and talk about the dead ones on our family tree.

2. When my father first took me to see his mother's gravesite in Seattle, we bowed ourhead quietly for a few moment, while seagulls flew overhead -- one promptly leaving tell-tale circles of white "you know what" on my grandmother's tombstone. Dad roared with laughter, saying his mom would have gotten a big kick out of that.

3. When I was little I was so accident prone, that during the learning stages of backyard rollerskating, my father strapped 2 pillows around my torso -- one in the front and one in the back, just to prevent serious injury.

4. Although I had no formal computer training, I was "Grandmothered" into teaching for the past 15 years at our local vo-tech. I often sang the reminders for how to complete a particular task -- so my students would remember more readily. Perhaps they learned quickly to avoid having to hear me sing again and again?!!!!

5. Speaking of teaching, my educational background was EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT... so naturally that seg-wayed into teaching adults how to use computers! (You just break each task into simple steps!!!)

OK -- I am dying to hear what others have to share, so I'll officially tag the following:

-- Geoff Rasmussen (LegacyNews)

-- Holly Hansen (MyAncestorsFound - News You Can Use)

-- Beau Sharbrough (FootNote Blog)

-- Illya D'Azzio (GenWeekly)

-- Rene Zamora (Utah Valley PAF Users Group)

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Snail Mail Address:
227 Bellevue Way NE PMB 544
Bellevue, WA 98004
Finding Help with Genealogy Software

Help! I am learning to process a "book" from FTM (Family Tree Maker) and I have a few questions I am unable to learn from the information offered without calling and paying $2.00 a minute with FTM. Is there anyplace online I might be able to either contact someone for help or see a list of the questions I cannot solve?

Let's take a 4-way approach to finding the answers you seek. Ol' Myrt recommends checking out:

1. the software itself
2. free online tech support
3. independent online support
4. your local genealogy society

PLUS "One More Thing" a suggestion from Ol' Myrt here

Where once we had heavy, geeky documentation books supplied in the huge box with each software program, now things are streamlined to include the manual on the software CD itself. This means that the "official word" on how to do something in FTM is contained within the program itself. Just click HELP on the menu bar to either browse the help files or search the help index for specific topics. You'll notice in the Windows environment, that HELP is always the last item on the menu bar (far right). In FTM the top menu bar has the following drop-down menu titles:

Under HELP you will find the following categories:
CURRENT VIEW (context sensitive help)
TAKE AN ONLINE CLASS (discontinued)

If one selects BOOKS TUTORIAL, your computer must be online, so that your web browser can open the tutorial title page with the following components:
Lesson One - Creating a Book
Lesson Two - Adding Items
Lesson Three - Editing Book Items
Lesson Four - Customizing Book Items
Lesson Five - Moving Book Items
Lesson Six - Previewing Books
Lesson Seven - Printing Books
Lesson Eight - Saving in PDF Format

You'll find this on the software producer's website and it usually takes the form of FAQ (Frequently asked questions) or some sort of searchable "knowledge base" created by the company. These may be augmented by "user message boards". Usually companies provide email tech support, but in my experience FTM doesn't follow up here as frequently as one would like. Some software companies provide free one-on-one tech support chats, although FTM does not appear to do so.

-- Family Tree Maker Online Tech Support

This type of software support is often frank and usually unbiased, since the comments are not "screened" by the software producer. Such message boards or mailing lists are usually not run by the software producer, so participants feel free to "tell it like it is".
So how did Ol' Myrt here find these resources? I always check things out at:
-- RootsWeb Message Boards
-- RootsWeb Mailing Lists
-- Yahoo! Groups

YES, I know that Ancestry/MyFamily owns the FTM software, and that this conglomerate supports the RootsWeb mailing lists and message boards. But to my knowledge, they do not interfere with the normal postings to these resources:

-- Family Tree Maker Software Message Board (at RootsWeb)

-- Family Tree Maker Software Mailing Lists (at RootsWeb)

---- FTM-HELP-L (Topic: A mailing list for the discussion and sharing of information regarding the Family Tree Maker genealogy software program.)

---- FTM-L (Topic: A mailing list primarily for the discussion and sharing of information regarding the Family Tree Maker genealogy software program; however, the subscribers are a friendly group and may also address other things such roll calls, research hints and tips, where they live (which lets folks know someone may be in an area for lookups, etc) and more.)

If we could understand it all by reading, we would live like hermits in front of our computers. But "no man is an island" and that is certainly true when it comes to learning about family history. Join your local genealogy society, and find out where and when the genealogy computer users group meets next. Even if there are no formal meetings, you may find someone in the group who has had experience creating a book with FTM. In your case, you are lucky. On the Gulf coast in Florida there are several active groups:

-- South Bay Genealogical Society

-- Pinellas Genealogy Society

-- Manasota Genealogical Society

When you finished printing your family history book, be sure to send a copy to:

A. Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah (with a note that you consent to scanning/microfilming.

B. Your local public library.

C. The local public library in the place where your ancestors once lived.

Writing a book describing your ancestors and providing source citations will most certainly get the word out to other researchers. With the FHL's scanning project, the book itself will then become available on the web for all to find.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE, your friend in genealogy

Snail Mail Address:
227 Bellevue Way NE PMB 544
Bellevue, WA 98004

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Cost of Doing Research

From: (Name withheld)
It's absolutely wonderful that there are so many outlets and links out there in cyberspace to help out finding family connections and I do sympathize with the "owners" of these links, but no where in this cycle of searching does it mention that you have to be rich to actually FIND anyone.

I have been searching for family members for about 6 combinations of families as I have a "step" situation in my life. Let me tell you it ain't easy when you have a very limited income and can't reach any of the information because of the monthly fees most groups charge to just get to point A. Ancestry .com used to be a very helpful link for me until the cost came into the picture and now I've lost all chances to follow up on some of the items they led me believe I could reach.

So now my searching has gone down to the luck of finding some member of the family that IS actually connected and has plenty of info and is willing to share. I've been stumped for the last 5 years thinking my grandfather's life began with him as there are no open lines for me to get the info from without dishing out money I don't have just in case there's an answer somewhere.

Life really does belong to those who have the means to pay for information.

Yes, I'll keep on plodding along but I doubt I'll ever get all the answers I've been searching for. -- Thanks for letting me vent.

About once a week Ol' Myrt here receives such an email, and every time my response is the same:

WHERE THERE'S A WILL, THERE'S A WAY. (Or a census record, a printed family history book or a...). But, let us not forget that:

-- Much of is available for free through local LDS Family History Centers equipped with high-speed internet.

-- Many local public libraries provide access to HeritageQuestOnline.

-- The FHL Family History Library's surname books are being scanned and presented online at no cost to viewers.

--, and provide free genealogical information, including transcriptions, maps and links to other valuable resource on the internet.

-- Thanks to the Gates Foundation, most US libraries provide free high-speed internet access.

-- One may order books, microfilm and fiche through the local public library at little or no cost through the ILL Interlibrary Loan program.

NOTE: The advisability of using ILL (inter-library loan) was a topic of discussion at our local DUV (Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War) yesterday. For one researcher, the public library is her main research tool.

ONE DOESN'T NEED TO HAVE A HOME COMPUTER to do genealogical research in the 21st century, since it is possible to:

-- establish a free email account at sites such as or

-- maintain your genealogy database in a public or private area at or on a computer at your local LDS Family History Center.

So, dear, DearREADER, keep hanging in there. I know that with today's economy, some people on fixed incomes must choose between purchasing their Rx medications or putting food on the table.

Maybe YOU could focus your efforts over the next year compiling a huge list of free genealogical resources on and off the internet. Then you could publish a book and THAT income would feed your genealogy research "habit."

Imagine the possibilities!

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE, your friend in genealogy.
Snail Mail Address:
227 Bellevue Way NE PMB 544
Bellevue, WA 98004

Friday, January 19, 2007

ACROSS MY DESK: adds 6Million from Germanic Sources

NOTE: The change of corporate name from to "The Generations Network" is noted in this article. For more info see:

--------------------------------------------------------- Adds Six Million Names From German Census and Port Records, Launches German-Language Site

New Collection Opens the Door for Largest Ethnic Group in the U.S. to Discover Their Family Stories Online; Fifteen Percent of Americans Claim German Descent


PROVO, Utah, Jan. 9 /PRNewswire/ --, the world's largest online family history resource, today announced the addition of more than six million names from German port and census records to its historical records collection, making the central online source for German family history. The German records launched simultaneously on,'s first foreign-language, international sister-site.

With more than 42 million Americans claiming German heritage, the launch of German historical records and creates an unprecedented networking opportunity for Germans and German-Americans to collaborate, upload and share family trees, photos, stories and other historical content from their personal accounts on both and

"The addition of new German content to along with the launch of is a major leap forward for families, but only the beginning of our long-term strategy to acquire international content and facilitate family collaboration worldwide," said Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of "We are excited to offer this collection to German-Americans everywhere to allow them to trace their roots across continents at the simple click of a mouse. I've already found my German great-grandmother in our Hamburg Passenger List collection."

The German historical records collection features records such as passenger lists, census and vital records, sailors' registry, ships crew lists, and family and local histories. The Hamburg passenger lists, which are the highlight of the new collection, includes records of more than five million people who sailed from the German port of Hamburg between 1850 and 1934. These records tell the story of each passenger's voyage through such details as names, birth dates and places, date of departure, port of arrival, ship type and name, even accommodations on board the ship.

According to, the roots of five favorite American brewing companies -- Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Coors, Best and Yuengling -- can be traced back to seven German immigrants. Thirteen-year-old Adolph Coors Jr., son of the Coors Brewing founder, and Frederick Pabst of Pabst Brewery, whose occupation is recorded as "Bierbrauer," German for beer brewer, are listed in the Hamburg passenger list collection, both returning to America from trips to Germany.

Celebrities such as Donald Trump, David Letterman, George Lucas and Babe Ruth can also trace their ancestry to Germany. is The Generations Network's fourth international site. Other international sites include in the United Kingdom, which features the only complete online collection of England and Wales census records, in Canada and in Australia.


With more than 5 billion names and 23,000 searchable databases and titles, is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch almost a decade ago, has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. is part of The Generations Network, a leading network of sites whose mission is to connect families across distance and time. The Generations Network receives more than 9 million unique visitors worldwide and 450 million page views each month.

Web site:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

National Archives and Footnote Launch Project to Digitize Historic Documents

ACROSS MY DESK: National Archives and Footnote Launch Project to Digitize Historic Documents

NOTE: This information was just released by the National Archives. See:

Press Release
January 10, 2007
National Archives and Footnote Launch Project to Digitize Historic Documents

Washington, DC and Lindon, UT.Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein
and Footnote, Inc. CEO Russell Wilding today announced an agreement to
digitize selected records from the vast holdings of the National Archives.
The 4.5 million pages that have been digitized so far are now available at

This non-exclusive agreement, beginning with the sizeable collection of
materials currently on microfilm, will enable researchers and the general
public to access millions of newly-digitized images of the National Archives
historic records on a subscription basis from the Footnote web site. By
February 6, the digitized materials will also be available at no charge in
National Archives research rooms in Washington D.C. and regional facilities
across the country. After an interval of five years, all images digitized
through this agreement will be available at no charge through the National
Archives web site.

"This is an exciting step forward for the National Archives," said Professor
Weinstein. "It will immediately allow much greater access to approximately
4.5 million pages of important documents that are currently available only
in their original format or on microfilm. The digitization of documents will
also enhance our efforts to preserve our original records."

"The partnership with the National Archives will expand significantly the
content we are able to offer professional and amateur researchers," said
Footnote CEO Russell Wilding. "We will continue to add millions of original
documents and images monthly. "

The following represents a portion of the millions of historic documents
that will be made available as part of the National Archives - Footnote

Papers of the Continental Congress (1774-89).
The Papers of the Continental Congress include Journals of the Congress,
reports of its committees, papers submitted by state Governments, and
correspondence of its Presidents and other officers with diplomatic
representatives of the United States abroad, officers in the Continental
Army, State and local officials, and private persons. Among the Papers are
copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation,
the Northwest Ordinance, the Constitution, and other documents instrumental
in molding the new Government. Also included are drafts of treaties and
commercial agreements, papers relating to expenditures and loans, reports of
military progress during the Revolution, and papers relating to Indian
treaties and tribes.

Mathew B. Brady Collection of Civil War Photographs.
One of the largest and most frequently researched bodies of Civil War
photography anywhere, this series originated with some 6,000 glass plate
negatives acquired by the War Department from Brady in 1874-1875.
Encompassing images by the enterprising Brady and more than a dozen other
photographers, including Alexander Gardner and Timothy O'Sullivan, directly
or indirectly associated with him, the series ranges from Brady Gallery
portraits of leading military and political personalities of the
1850's-1860's to views of units, battlefields, ruins, landscapes, camps,
hospitals, prisons, fortifications, bridges, and railroads from
Fredericksburg to Chickamauga to Atlanta.

Southern Claims Commission.
In the 1870s, some southerners claimed compensation from the U.S. government
for items used by the Union Army, ranging from corn and horses, to trees and
church buildings. The claim files contain a wealth of genealogical
information and they consist of petitions, inventories of properties lost,
testimony of family members and others, reports, and certificates submitted
by claimants to the Southern Claims Commission as proof of loyalty to the
Federal Government and value of property damaged or lost during the Civil
War. The materials are arranged by state and thereunder by the name of the

Name Index to Civil War and Later Pension Files.
Pension applications for service in the U.S. Army between 1861 and 1900,
grouped according to the units in which the veterans served. The name index
to the Civil War and Later Pension Application Files contains over 3 million
index entries documenting the applications of soldiers, sailors and their
widows. The index is the entry point for one of the most significant bodies
of Federal records documenting the lives of volunteers who served in the
Civil War, the western Indian Wars, and the Spanish American War.

Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation, 1908-22.
The Bureau of Investigation investigated real and perceived threats to the
nation and its citizens before it became the FBI. The materials compiled by
the BOI from 1908 to 1922 consist of an index to the investigative case
files, general investigative records, investigative records relating to
German Aliens from 1915 through 1920, investigative records relating to
Mexican Neutrality Violations from 1909 through 1921, and investigative
records transferred from the Department of Justice from 1920 through 1921.
The records are arranged alphabetically by the name of the person or
organization investigated.

About the National Archives
The National Archives and Records Administration, an independent federal
agency, is the nation's record keeper. Founded in 1934, its mission is
unique -to serve American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the
records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and
learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures
continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American
citizens and the actions of their government. It supports democracy,
promotes civic education, and facilitates historical understanding of our
national experience. The National Archives meets a wide range of information
needs, among them helping people to trace their families' history, making it
possible for veterans to prove their entitlement to medical and other
benefits, and preserving original White House records. The National Archives
carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records
centers, and Presidential Libraries, and on the Internet at

About Footnote, Inc.
Founded in 1997 as iArchives, Inc., Footnote is a subscription based web
site that features searchable original documents that provide users with an
unaltered view of the events , places and people that shaped the American
nation and the world. At all are invited to come to share,
discuss, and collaborate on their discoveries with friends, family, and
colleagues. For more information, visit

# # #

For press information, contact National Archives Public Affairs staff at
202-357-5300, or Footnote, Inc. spokesman Justin Schroepfer at 801-494-6517

Father's past: Uncovering another family

I am a newbie to genealogy. In the 1930 census it lists my father, Richard Louis Janning married to Shirley (?) with a son Donald age 4. My parents were married in Oct. of 1931. I cannot find any info on Shirley or Donald. My parents are from Dayton, Ohio. Can you give me any hints as to how I can find info on Shirley and Donald? I don't know if my father and Shirley were divorced, if she died or what. Any help would be appreciated. I found your web site listed in a book I recently bought called Genealogy Online by Elizabeth Powell Crowe. I was impressed with her book and your web site very much. -- Thanks.

WELCOME to the wonderful, and often surprising world of family history research. You have apparently uncovered your first "mystery," and as always we will proceed with non-judgmental caution. This is not the last time you will encounter unusual, misleading, confusing or conflicting information about your ancestors.

Ol' Myrt suggests that you IMMEDIATELY:

1. PRINT the page with the 1930 US Federal Census entry for Robert L. Janning, with wife Shirley and son.

2. ATTACH a page explaining what you've found, being sure to detail how it does not "fit" with what was previously known about that ancestor.

3. CREATE a list of alternative record sources to review to determine the veracity of the census record, and to prove or disprove the relationship of this census entry with your known ancestor.

THE REASON WE TAKE THESE THREE STEPS is to leave an audit trail for those that follow. Often even the most diligent genealogists must do other things (like eat, sleep, work, answer the telephone, etc.) and can forget where we were in our research.

Now to help you accomplish task #3, Ol' Myrt has the following suggestions:

-- LOOK AT COUNTY COURTHOUSE RECORDS FOR DIVORCE. Since the census record for your father indicated he resided in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, I'd look to see what's available first on microfilm through your local LDS Family History Center. To find one near you, go to

I checked the online catalog of microfilm at
By clicking the "PLACE" button and specifying "Montgomery' as part of 'Ohio" (without quote marks). It would appear that court records of divorce are not part of the microfilm collection. This means you'd need contact the courthouse directly, inquiring "for a divorce decree circa 1930-1931" for the two individuals in question.

-- LOOK AT THE BIRTH RECORD FOR SON. The local genealogical society made an "Index Dayton births 1923-1942" and it is available for a nominal rental fee through your local LDS Family History Center on FHL US/CAN Film 1763581. Given the exact birth date, and other identifying information you can obtain a copy of the birth certificate.

-- LOOK AT STATE OR COUNTY DEATH INDEX FOR SHIRLEY. According to the Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists from explains "Death certificates from 1908 to 1944 are available on microfilm through the Family History Library." The Family History Library is the "parent" library in Salt Lake City. You can borrow most microfilm through you local Family History Center.

WAIT A MINUTE... I was reading a little more in the Family Tree Resource Book, and find there is an online death index for Ohio located at:

It took a little searching, but the actual address of the death index 1913-1944 is:

Being the overly curious type, I searched for Shirley Janning in all counties of Ohio, and did not find her in the index. Either she did not die during the time period covered by the database, or she had a different name, or the marriage ended in divorce, or...

As you can see, the list of ideas can go on and on, if you are careful and don't jump to conclusions.
One other thing to remember. IF YOU DETERMINE that your father had a family prior to the marriage with your mother, this means that Don is your half-brother. Eventually you'll need to prepare for meeting him. If your father played things so close to the vest, Don may not know of your family either. Consider that Don also may have been legally adopted by Shirley's subsequent husband, so Don's last name will have changed. In this last case, it may be impossible to ever meet this half-brother. It will be most interesting to see how this works out. Let me know how your research progresses.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Snail Mail Address:
227 Bellevue Way NE PMB 544
Bellevue, WA 98004