Monday, April 25, 2011

Week in review with NARA Fair gleanings

Last night in Second Life we met at the Family History Centre to talk about our favorite topic -- family history. For future meeting announcements, check out the Genealogists in Second Life group over on Facebook, where our friend Genie Weezles is cross-posting our "in-world" weekly genealogy newsletter.

Here are a few highlights, and some of the PowerPoint slides from last night's meeting.

(ABOVE) Congratulations to the Federation of Genealogical Societies with it's brand-new "My Society" BlogTalk Radio Show. Saturday's offering, now in archive mode featured host Thomas MacEntee and guest Curt B. Witcher, former NGS and former FGS President. Their topic: "Bringing Societies into the 21st Century." Curt mentioned my favorite society suggestion -- making society publications available on the web. This "expands the reach" the hard work your society members are doing. Curt mentioned the revenue stream changed for one of his societies, as members become donors to support the work rather than just joining to receive a newsletter.

And speaking of BlogTalk [Internet] Radio, Thomas' GeneaBloggers Show on Friday featured Latino genealogy specialists. Listening to the archived version of the show is almost as good as listening live, where you would have had the chance to call-in with your questions.

NARA - The National Archives & Records Administration held it's 7th Annual Genealogy Fair this past Wednesday and Thursday at Archives 1. Vendor displays were set up on the front patio on the 700 Pennsylvania Avenue side of the building under big event tents. Three classrooms were set up inside the building in Washington, DC (at the Navy Memorial Metro stop). NARA'S URL:
Ol' Myrt here attended day two, and spent much time talking with the social media reps and website designers. Yes, NARA has a Social Media Policy, and is reaching out to to the public through blogs, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook. (NARA's interface with genealogy bloggers is still in it's infancy, but then no one is perfect, eh?) 
When I brought up the subject of Jean Wilcox Hibbin's recent series on NARA Regional Archives at Riverside, California record group access, things got pretty exciting. Seems NARA is looking for "Citizen Archivists" who report on their research experiences at NARA. It happened that the designer I was talking with is the one who updates the Pacific regional archives pages. Plans are to link directly to Jean's NARA blog postings from the Riverside NARA website. [Way to go, cuz Jean!] While I was there, a researcher came up to tell the story of her ancestor's Union Civil War Pension file. She was invited to send info via email, as she doesn't have a blog to link to. Seems demonstrating how to access records is a focus. (In my book, it is a lot more interesting to hear about the experience from another genealogists. The technical stuff can be provided by staffers, but I like the sizzle.)

(ABOVE) I've followed the NARA - Today's Document Mobile App on my iPad for a few weeks. It also works on Androids and iPhone. What a fun way to learn about different record groups at NARA.
BTW, Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree isn't about to be out-done. They just released their own app chock full of kewl things like speaker topics, bios, maps, etc. for ther upcoming annual June event to be held in Burbank, California. See: 

(ABOVE) So are you still holding out on doing a BLOG? Well, even The Archivist of the US, David Ferriero has a blog! See: His is one of several offered by NARA.

Ol' Myrt here took the class on the the 2 April 2012 release of the 1940 US federal census enumeration on the NARA website. Someone asked if at 12:01am we can check-in, and the answer was "We haven't set the time of the release on that date." Talking points included:
  • While the enumeration schedules are being released, other 1940 census schedules such as the descriptions of domiciles were destroyed after statistical analysis was made by the census bureau in the 1940s. It would have been interesting to note what type of home (brick, wood frame, multi-family...) our ancestors lived in, and whether or not there was indoor plumbing.
  • There was some talk among the team presenting in this class as to whether or not our ancestors were honest about reporting income from CCC or WPA employment. What's new? Genealogists always take census information with a few grains of salt.
  • Hard copy handouts included the NARA - 1940 Census extraction Form
  • Searching by state and enumeration district will be our task initially, as there will be no name index for about 6-9 months after the release of the images. NARA doesn't have staffing or funding to do the work, and 
Among NARA's 1940 Census Research Strategies is the suggestion researchers study 1930 through 1940 city directories to determine the address of each ancestor, then use Stephen Morse's 1920, 1930 to 1940 Enumeration District Converter. (Yes, they recommended his converter from the podium.) Other handouts of note included NARA - 1940 Census Symbols and NARA - 1940 Census Questions. Myrt also suggests looking at:
While I missed  the Federal Land Records class given by Claire Bettag, CG (sm), you can bet Ol' Myrt here has a particular interest in the handouts located here. In fact, you may find all available 2011 handouts online at NARA GENEALOGY FAIR 20-21 April 2011 - Handouts.
Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.


  1. Hi,
    I guess NARA is still not aware of all the utilities that Steve Morse and I have produced for the 1940 census on the Morse One Step website, although they show them on their 1940 website. Yes, we do have up a conversion method to go from a 1930 ED # to a 1940 #. We also have up searchable definitions of all EDs (less cities of 50,000 or more) so one can find an ED # if one has a community name, an institution, or an unincorporated community of 100 people or more. For all cities over 25,000 and many below that, we have a utility to go from an address to a 1940 ED #. Over 450 cities have been done and more are being added. Finally, we have some street name change tables, and a utility that will tell you what street names and institutions are within a given ED #. Please get the word out.
    Joel Weintraub
    Dana Point, CA