Monday, September 15, 2008

BEST of the Internet for Genealogists – 14 Sept 2008

It is Sunday and time for the latest installment of DearMYRTLE’s BEST of the Internet for Genealogists Awards. It seems that traveling to attend or present at conferences makes it harder for this Ol' Myrt to find time to write so I am particularly delighted to spotlight the following great resources.

As always, the Best of the Internet Award winners are entitled to the
use of this award graphic, with a link back to this blog entry.

[Ahem, drum roll please…]

The BEST of the Internet for Genealogists – 14 Sept 2008 awards go to:

BLOG: "The History Project Revisited" posted at What is Past is Prologue, Donna Pointkouski points out how our research capabilities improve as we spend more time at our craft. She compares sentence-by-sentence what she wrote for an 8th grade report (after interviewing her grandmother) with the true facts as she has come to know them based on documents she's uncovered since her serious research began in 1989. This is a gentle reminder that we must each go back through our
original research to see if the conclusions we drew years ago were pseudological leaps to inappropriate and misleading conclusions or are based in sound analysis of the evidence at hand.

INSTRUCTION: Dick Eastman has done it again -- proffering great advice to save genealogists money. See his article for plus-edition subscribers titled "Reduce Online Access Charges on Cruise Ships" posted 13 Sept 2008 at Eastman's Online Genealogy News.

DATABASE SITE: Those with ancestors from Norway will be pleased to note that at Arkivverket DigitalArkivet one may search the transcribed source material for free. This digital archives is a
public service from the National Archives of Norway. There are also scanned images. Look for parish registers, real estate registers, photo of farms, digital books, instruction in Gothic handwriting and an great article
"How to trace your ancestors in Norway" with useful links by Yngve Nedrebø (based on a manuscript by Jan H. Olstad and Gunvald Bøe).

SCANNED IMAGE SITE: Thanks to my friend Sally from the Manasota Genealogical Society who shares "My husband Neal used to be in the newspaper business. He has a two-volume American Newspaper Annual for 1908 published by N. W. Ayer & Son. It lists the newspapers and periodicals for all the towns and cities in the US and Canada. There is a wealth of other information which may be of interest to genealogists: population, location in relation to a larger city, railroad line, local industries and more. The whole series of these books year by year is online at the Library of Congress website." See: .

PODCAST: The National Archives Podcast Series (for the UK) posted How the Society of Genealogists can help you. From the show page we read "The Society of Genealogists offers a unique combination of research material, guidance and support for those interested in family history and the lives of
earlier generations. The charity's broad objectives are to "promote, encourage and foster the study, science and knowledge of genealogy". Ol' Myrt here hopes to check out the SOG in person on the visit to London next February.

VIDEO: Megan Smolenyak writes "News About Unclaimed Persons" in her blog RootsTelevision - Megan's World: "I'm delighted to make several announcements about the Unclaimed Persons initiative that was launched by on Facebook several months ago. First, we've launched a website! Visit Unclaimed Persons to learn about the project, how to volunteer, what coroners have to say about working with genealogists, and more. While we'll continue to "work" the case on Facebook, this companion site contains a number of useful resources that volunteers, medical examiners and others can turn to. Second, I'm amazed to report that we now have 400 volunteers! To accommodate the influx of volunteers and cases (we've just reached agreement with another major county), we welcome three new case administrators -- Robert Baca, Kathy Then and Denise Levenick. Thank you for your willingness to donate your valuable time and sleuthing skills! And finally, if you'd like to watch an interview about Unclaimed Persons -- how it all came about, what we've done to date and so forth -- check out the first half of this chat between Dick Eastman and myself."

COMMENTARY: What are the dos and don'ts for using public Wi-Fi? CNET comes up with some doozies, and this article is no exception. Basically the question is posed in the newsletter with suggestions and comments from readers. As genealogists travel, and rely on laptops increasingly for online banking and such, it is imperative to understand the consequences when accessing an insecure public Wi-Fi.

INNOVATION: Chrome first came to Ol' Myrt's attention when Mark Tucker posted "Chrome,
Google’s new browser eyes web applications
" 5 Sept 2008 on the Think Genealogy Blog. Then Michael Booth demonstrated it on his laptop when I visited the RootsMagic booth Friday at the Utah
Genealogical Association's Fall Conference in Salt Lake. I've now used Chrome for about 12 hours on two different versions of Windows Vista (an 18 month old HP desktop with the original, though updated, Vista Ultimate, and a brand new Dell laptop with a new version of Vista Home.)

It didn't take me 12 hours to decide I like the ease of adding tabs, dragging a tab out to it's own window, the use of incognito tabs so you aren't always having to clear your cache, and a main page showing large postage stamp screen shots of your most recently visited websites. The only genealogy website I found that didn't work with Chrome thus far is Legacy Family Tree, but admittedly I haven't run Chrome through its paces yet. The Legacy home page looked generic, and slightly skewed with missing text and graphics. I mention Chrome here because with Google's track record for innovation it is entirely possible that we all will be making the switch before too long.

MOST INTERESTING THREAD: Holly Timm's APG Mailing List posting titled "Managing a Huge Pension File" was the basis for a several thoughtful replies. Keeping pages in the order found is the challenge, though in my case, there was no discernible cause for the placement order of documents in the files for my Union Civil War vets William G. Froman, Talburt Higgins and William H. Phillips. Craig Scott, CG recommended an Excel worksheet to list the title of each item, date and the number in the folio (in lieu of page numbers). This way, the photocopies of the complete file could be kept in the same order as the original. The document list in Excel could be rearranged perhaps in date order, thereby providing easy access to a specific document without disturbing the order of papers in the file.

Perhaps over the years, many people have rifled through a file in person at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Its easy to imagine a novice researcher pulling pages from here and there in the file, moving to the photocopy machine, and finally placing them in a group at the beginning or end of the other pages in the file. The result?

Pages that might originally have been placed in a specific order are then rearranged. Unfortunately this carelessness effectively obscures any purpose for the filing system other than "throw it in there because it belongs to this soldier". See also:

Why is this topic so important? As responsible researchers, we must take care to preserve the original order of items in a archive file of any type. Take the example of an old photograph album. Perhaps the ancestral photos were placed in the album in a relationship format, i.e. all the immediate family images first, the cousins next, and the dreaded in-laws last. When first acquiring such a photo treasure, one may not yet know the identities of people in most images. As time goes by, conclusions may be drawn about 'who is who' based on interviews with older family members, where indeed placement order may help jog memories and distinguish identities. Removing all photos from the album and arranging them in size order (perhaps for ease in scanning) would remove one important avenue of evaluation.

ETHNIC STUDIES: Afrigeneas has been providing how-to information for Americans of African descent for nearly a decade. z'The word AfriGeneas is derived from African American Genealogy Buddies. It's pronounced: A · fri · GEE · nee · as.zzzzzz' This site has been named Family Tree Magazine's top 101 Best Websites for nine years running. Known for the Slave Database, you will also find a marriage database, in addition to a variety of forums including 'heritage arts and crafts' , and a mailing list. Plan to attend live chats Mon-Fri at noon and on Tuesday evenings at 8pm Eastern US time.

Please note that this week's award winners may have published the spotlighted content earlier, it is just that this week Ol' Myrt here stumbled across them and wishes to honor excellent work.

If you have suggestions for winning genealogy content, be sure to drop me a line. After all, we get by with a little help from our friends.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved. This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.