Without The Stories, It’s All Just “Stuff”

I have been meaning to sit down and write something for a while now. I didn’t. But that can be seen from the date of my last post. Several days ago I fully intended to write when I opened my email from FamilyHistoryDaily.com and read that there are “Thousands of 1890 Census Records,” and then my New England Historic Genealogical Society email and read about their sale of used and remaindered books. So now I am in the middle of looking through the 23 pages of offerings. Of course, I thought wow this would be a great blog post, to talk about exciting new finds. I stopped on page 6.   I looked through all of it. Then I had other things that needed to get done. The next time I sat down to write, I came back to idea that has been percolating in the back of my mind. Months ago I … Continue reading

“I Will Come Back to It” Is NOT a Good Plan

It’s a terrific feeling to find a newspaper article on a relative. It’s exciting and triumphant and all kinds of wonderful genealogy things!

Today I was working on a biographical sketch on my maternal grandfather. I got together all of my research notes and sources and Ancestry.com tree and time line to organize it. My grandfather had been a sea captain. Because the industry is regulated I was able to find a number of sources for his whereabouts over the years. He and my uncle had the same name and same profession, so years ago when I was looking for my grandfather; Google gave me an article about my uncle. I loved my uncle. He passed away in 1996 so information is a treasure.   At the time, I read the article, sent it to my cousin (I think maybe not sure) and made a mental note to “come back to it later” (this is NOT a good plan). While I was happy to have found it and thought I was a genealogical rock star, I did NOT:

  • Save it
  • Print it out
  • Copy and paste into any kind of document
  • Put any retrievable information into a subject line of ANY emails
  • Make any kind of notes at all about what I found or where I found it.
  • Enter it into my Ancestry.com tree for either my grandfather or my uncle!
  • Write down any source information anywhere!


I remembered the article was out there and today I wanted to use it for my sketch. What might have taken me five to ten minutes took me an hour or so trying to find the article on Google again. This next part is completely ridiculous and not my finest research moment, but I am sharing because “what not to do” can be educational and because I am able to laugh at myself. I have an excuse though. I have a cold and may not be thinking clearly.

Now for the silly part. As I was looking for the article on my uncle, I came across a very small four-line notice about my uncle and his wife visiting her mother in December of 1969. “Wow,” I thought. “That’s interesting. I will come back to it.” This was not a good plan because by the time I found the first article I was looking for; I had lost the second one!   I did NOT:

  • Save it
  • Print it out
  • Copy and paste into any kind of document
  • Put any retrievable information into a subject line of ANY emails
  • Make any kind of notes at all about what I found or where I found it.
  • Enter it into my Ancestry.com tree for either my grandfather or my uncle!
  • Write down any source information anywhere!


After 20-30 minutes of searching my history and backtracking, I was able to find the second article as well.   I have now copied and pasted into a document the articles WITH source information and access dates AND emailed a copy of the articles with a helpful subject line.

I was lucky to have been able to find the articles a second time. The Internet is a wonderful repository of so much information, but there is no guaranty that after a period of time the same information would pop up in a search.

Any educational work I have done has stressed the discipline of citing sources fully, of documenting information. This was a perfect reminder for me of how something might be lost.


Facebook, Now A Learning Tool

Facebook isn’t just fluff.  I am not particularly Facebook savvy, but I can absolutely appreciate that it does help people keep in touch.  It is also great as a way to keep current on happenings in genealogy.  This morning as I belatedly scrolled through a few days posts, I remembered I had seen something posted by the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania about old NYC maps.  Genealogy societies and Historical societies post some wonderfully helpful information on Facebook. This particular post was about an article by CityLab.com that talked about a 19th Century “Stench Map” and how smells and their causes have impacted the development of parts of New York City.  Included in the article is an image of a “Map Showing Location of Odor Producing Industries in New York and Brooklyn.” Prior to seeing the Facebook post, I had not thought about the issue, even though some of my research is … Continue reading

Free Sites and Resources to Explore

Caitlin is my newest genealogy friend.  We were talking about what she and her friends would look for in helpful genealogy information.  “Free sites.”  Being able to research non-pay sites was her number one answer.  From home would be even better. I immediately said “FamilySearch.”  But then all kinds of other sites I have used came to mind, so this will be just a few I think could be helpful, not all the free sites there are.  If you know of one you would like to add, by all means, please let me know. I have previously declared my fondness for free stuff, so writing about genealogy and free sites is a labor of love. A Library Card If you don’t mind going out to do your research, many libraries have Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.com available at the library.  Some even have home access as well. Check with your library what … Continue reading

If You Can’t Get to RootsTech

Over the years I have been hearing about RootsTech.  It is hosted by FamilySearch and according to the RootsTech website, it is: “A global history event, where people of all ages learn to discover, share and celebrate their family connections across generations through technology.” I have not been to a RootsTech conference, but my recollection when people were talking was that it is a great resource to keep current on technology for genealogy research.  RootsTech this year will be held 12-14 of February in Salt Lake City.  I can hardly believe that is next week already!  Some day I will go, but it is not this year.  So I was absolutely tickled to see on the FamilySearch Blog that they will be offering “select” sessions free, both live and available later!  Yep, I said FREE! I don’t know what these sessions will be like, but I plan to watch many of them. Technology is amazing.  If you … Continue reading

My “Year Of The Conference”

There is no such thing as too many conferences.  2014 was my “Year of the Conference.”

  • National Genealogy Society Conference – 7-10 May 2014, Richmond, Virginia
  • Jamboree – 6-8 June 2014, selected sessions online (Conference held in Los Angeles, California)
  • Celtic Connections Conference – 15-16 August 2014, Waltham, Massachusetts
  • The Genealogy Event – 17-18 October 2014, New York, New York

I did genealogy for a number of years strictly as a hobbyist.  When I got a bit more serious about education, I took courses.  And then…..I learned about conferences!  My first actual conference experience was a one-day one in 2013 in New York called the Genealogy Event.  It was a great and exciting experience and wet my appetite to sign up for more. Who knew that there were so many other people loving to learn genealogy, just like me?  After taking the courses, I didn’t feel intimidated.  Especially since the conferences usually have presentations for all levels of experience.

National Genealogy Society Conference

As soon as the hotel was available for the NGS conference in Richmond, I booked it!  Then I booked the conference!  The conference had a blog and plenty of attendees who commented about and reviewed it at the time, so I will just focus on the highlights and firsts for me as I look back over the year.

While technology has its challenges, they certainly make conference going easier.

NGS had a mobile app where I could read the syllabus, learn about speakers, pick my schedule and find other people I knew and their schedules, all from my ipad at home well in advance of the conference.

For an extra fee, the conference offered 2 tracks for live streaming.  They were also available for a period of time after the conference.  I opted for Track 1, “Records and Research Techniques,” with sessions presented by:

  • Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
  • Thomas Jones, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
  • Michael Hait, CGSM
  • Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL
  • Sharon Tate Moody.  CGSM

I watched some twice, once in person and once when I got home.  I also watched others when I came home so that I could attend another in person when there were two things I wanted to see, which did happen often.  It was well worth the money and NGS is offering it again.  They are sessions in “The Immigration and Naturalization Process,” and “Methodology Techniques.”  I am registering today.  I just registered.

To be able to see Elizabeth Shown Mills in person was wonderful.  The room was enormous and totally full.  I didn’t get there early enough to get my aisle seat, but I didn’t care.  I am a huge fan!  But that will have to be another topic for another post.

I absolutely loved the conference and everything I learned.  It was an amazing, exciting and exhilarating experience.  It made me want more!


Having been bitten by the conference bug at NGS, when I learned that The Southern California Genealogical Society was going to broadcast 14 presentations live from their Jamboree in June, I registered for my favorites and put it on my calendar that I was busy that weekend!  I had wistfully heard people talk about going to “Jamboree” in California, so the option to attend some sessions from home was a surprising and welcome gift.

I registered for and watched! (FOR FREE to everyone, not just members, handouts included):

  • “Elusive Immigrant!” – Warren Bittner, CG
  • “Researching Your Irish Ancestry” – Maurice Gleeson
  • “Dirty Pictures: Save Your Family Photos” – Denise Levenick
  • “Resources of the DAR: Beyond Soldiers” – Joshua Taylor
  • “Dowered or Bound Out” – Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL
  • “Researching Your New England Ancestors”  – Michael Leclerc
  • “Manuscript Finding Aids” – Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FUGA

Did I mention this was FREE….

Since I had watched some of the NGS sessions in person and then later streaming, I had a really good basis for comparison.  My seat for the Elizabeth Shown Mills session had been in one of the last rows on the side.  My seat at home was quite comfortable, close up and clear.  No complaints from me!  I was so impressed with what the SCGS gave so generously that I have since joined.

Celtic Connections Conference

I had no sooner gotten back from Richmond in May when a friend told me she was going to a conference in Waltham, Massachusetts in August.  We got off the phone and my Google search immediately led me to the Celtic Connections Conference to be held at Bentley University in Waltham in August.  I booked it!

The conference was presented by Co-hosts, The Irish Ancestral Research Association, Inc. (Tiara) and the Irish Genealogical Society International.  The LaCava Center at Bentley was comfortable and the conference was very graciously and professionally done, especially since this was the first time. Breakfasts of scones as well as lunches were included.   When I checked into the conference hotel I was given a shamrock necklace, just to set the tone!

This was a small conference.  My understanding is that it sold out.   All of the sessions were specific to Irish research and it seemed that the speakers were well known in the field.  The sessions I attended were very informative and interesting.  Featured presenters were:

  • John Grenham
  • Brian Donovan
  • Kyle Betit
  • Donna Moughty
  • Eileen O’Duill, CG
  • Sean O’Duill
  • Bill Buddle


I will be on the lookout for the announcements for this year.

The Genealogy Event

Rounding out my conference adventures for the year was the Genealogy Event held at the National Archives in New York.  This is the third year for the event and the first time at the National Archives.  This year also included a third day, DNA Day.

I attended the one-day event last year and was excited to be attending this expanded one.  Last year all sessions were open to everyone, but this year there were general sessions and advanced sessions.  The advanced sessions required additional separate tickets.  At first I was not sure I wanted to attend something where the things I was interested were a la carte, but the two sessions I did attend were worth the extra ticket, particularly Joseph Buggy, the author of  Finding Your Irish Ancestors In New York City.   It was a great session and he has written a very detailed resource for research in New York City.  He presented a picture of what life was often like for Irish in New York, strategies for research, and specific information on churches, cemeteries and neighborhoods.  I loved it and bought the book.

The Event offered general session passes and VIP passes.  The VIP passes included the option of a tour of NARA (National Archives and Records Administration), an expert lounge with computers as well as lunch. The tour of the National Archives was a nice bonus.  The conference was held at the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in lower Manhattan.  It was nicely done, although there were some glitches.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable two days and I look forward to the 2015 Event.

It was a great year for learning.  The conferences are fun as well as educational.  The vendor areas are the genealogist’s version of a kid in a toy store!  I am grateful for all that I was able to learn last year and look forward to what 2015 brings.

The 2015 National Genealogy Society Conference will be held in St. Charles, Missouri May 13 – May 16.

The Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree 2015 will be held in Burbank, California  June 5 – 7. They also have an ongoing series of FREE webinars as a part of their Extension Series.






You Can’t Unknow Things

I like lists.

Today’s List – Random Stuff

  • Start the year right.
  • You can’t unknow things.
  • Is gobbledegook a word?


January 1 and it is time to start the New Year right. For all kinds of reasons I didn’t post last year even though I had all kinds of ideas for things to write about. My resolution is to post consistently this year. My goal is that “consistently” be more than once a year.

So here goes. You can’t unknow things. It may apply in any number of areas, but for me, it absolutely applies for how I do my genealogy research and VERY specifically how I regard and treat source information. That means CITATIONS.

A few years ago, when I was blissfully doing just about all of my research on Ancestry.com and Familysearch.org (and they are wonderful), I didn’t know or remember much about doing citations. They were intimidating and if I read one, it seemed like a whole lot of gobbledygook. I know differently now. I love that and I hate that. And yep, gobbledygook is a word. I checked.

The BU course was my ice water introduction to understanding and writing citations as well as the beginning of my understanding of how valuable and important they are. I am on Lesson 13 of the NGS Course. This too has reinforced my understanding of the need for, how to read and how to write citations.

I feel good now when I need to write the source information for something and I take out my Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills and know how to use it. I’ve traveled far. I probably still make mistakes, but I am pretty certain most people could understand what my source is enough to evaluate and find it again if they needed to. They would also know who the heck I am talking about no matter how far in the future they read it.

So what is the problem then? Well….here is the can’t unknow it part. What is necessary or required when using professional standards for Genealogy seems like overkill when you are just doing it for fun. For me, I know that I should always include my name, date, who the information is to and who/what the topic is. I feel a little silly that I am going to do that when I do research for my husband, but if he ever wants to share it or use it, those things are important. If he gives a piece of paper with information on it to someone in the future and it is lacking those things, how can they know what they are reading? If I don’t put the sources, how can they evaluate the information? How can they follow my research if they want to?

Even when I feel a bit silly and even when I know the person I am giving research to doesn’t really care about the Author, Title, Publisher or Locator, I know they need it.

Thanks to courses, conferences and newsletters, I know what professional standards are. I try to apply them to all the work I do. I can’t unknow their value.

So if you ask me to look something up, and I give you a memo, maybe you can understand why. I know you know who I am and who you are. But someone reading it next month or next year or any number of years will be glad I didn’t unknow what to do.

Kennebec County, Maine Deeds

I want to start by saying that while I take the quality of my work very seriously; I don’t take myself too seriously.  Sharing my mistakes is not a suggestion to make them or an endorsement of them.  That being said, this a small humorous cautionary tale, “don’t do as I did.” Who knew that deed records could sometimes be found online?  Not me, at least not before my Boston University course.  Thank you BU.  After I learned how to research deeds from the comfort of my own desk chair, I decided to do a search for some ancestors in Maine.  Whenever I get a new tool, I always want to practice.  Learning about a new type of record and where to find it feels a lot like a magic to me.  Kennebec County has a great website for deed research.  I might have struggled with the lesson initially, but … Continue reading

Marriage Records – Monmouth County, NJ

It seems like ages ago, but it was only last month that I ventured out to yet another new repository.   The NGS lesson at that time included surveying marriage records at different types of repositories. If always knew what to do, I wouldn’t need to take the course.  Vital records are confusing.  They are different for different states, counties and towns and they are different depending on the time period.  Looking at records was part of the assignment.  Finding where to look at the records was the challenge. Websites for the Union County Clerk and the Burlington County Clerk didn’t have any information on a collection of marriage records.  I had hoped to do some personal research during this assignment, so I tried Monmouth County Clerk next.  The Monmouth County Clerk’s Office did not send their records to the State Archives in Trenton, but maintains them at the County Archives.  … Continue reading

Jerry’s Genealogy Party

I never heard of a genealogy party until I was invited to Jerry’s.  Jerry is my cousin Theresa’s husband.  He has been doing genealogy research and working on his ever expanding tree for many years.  He was making trips to the New York City Archives when I was just learning research on Ancestry.com.    So a genealogy party made total sense when I got an Evite invitation for Jerry’s birthday.   As I read the invitation, “in lieu of a gift please bring an old photo or a piece of your past…,” I thought “great idea!” We were all talking about what to bring.  Some people were bringing pictures, others records.  In the meantime, Jerry had gotten a box of photos and stuff from our Uncle Bob.  Our grandmother was a genealogy dream!  She had neatly written who the people were and when it was on so many of the photos.  In … Continue reading