Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Key Genealogy Categories for Targeting Your Goals

Yesterday, I posted how to set SMART Genealogy Goals for yourself.

It's all fine and well to set a genealogy goal (or two...or five), but which one(s) do you pick? 

After all, there are all those brick wall ancestors, the family trees you're trying to untangle, that messy file cabinet or hard drive (or both), the classes you want to take, the photos you need to scan, and that blog you've meant to start for three years now. And what about that trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City?

In reviewing my own genealogy goals, I realized there were six categories that most could fall under: research targets, methodology, organization and preservation, education, publishing, and fun. Yes, I believe fun should be a genealogy goal. If you can't have fun with your genealogy, why bother? 

So let me explain the different categories and how you might use them to focus in on your genealogy goals:

Research Target - Here is where you concentrate on a brick wall ancestor (or several), a family line (or two), or try to uncover the truth about a mystery (Whatever did happen to that brother of my 2nd-great-grandmother?).

My own Research Target goal looks like this: "In 2015, I will correctly cite in my RootsMagic database all known facts for my ROBBINS ancestors, as well as all their descendants. I will download or scan all correlating documents, and name and file them on my hard drive according to my digital filing system. My purpose is to have a prepared database for a 2016 goal of publishing a family history. I intend to spend a minimum of one hour a week each Sunday afternoon working on this goal."

Methodology - Most of us realize we can do better in our research methods. These include developing a research plan, following the genealogy research process, citing our sources, analyzing and correlating the information found, resolving conflicting evidence, and producing a soundly-reasoned, coherently-written conclusion. These are the elements of the genealogical proof standard, and I can assure you that if you follow these, you'll knock down a lot of unnecessary brick walls.

My Methodology goal is merged with my Research Target goal stated above, where I mention correctly citing sources. I also have a research plan I will put in place to work toward determining who the parents of my Robbins brick wall ancestor are.

Organization and Preservation - This category covers a lot of details that many genealogists focus on in goal-setting: filing, whether in file drawers or on a computer hard drive; backing up data; curating a collection; scanning photos and documents; purchasing archival safe and acid-free storage products; tagging digital photos; and deciding who should inherit your genealogy are all important tasks of being a good genealogist, family historian, and family curator.

I'll continue to host Scanfest once a month for three hours on the last Sunday of most months. My focus this year will be to complete the scanning of my mother's weekly letters over thirteen years from our homes in Alaska to her parents in Michigan. I will also begin scanning my father's letters to his parents in Michigan from his college in Alberta.

Education - There's always room for improvement in our knowledge and skills. Whether reading about the history of the times and places in which your ancestors lived; taking classes at your local genealogical or historical society; attending a webinar, conference, or workshop; taking an NGS or ProGen course; or participating in a more academic institute such as SLIG or GRIP--the more you know, the better genealogist you'll become.

My Education goal for 2015 includes learning more about probate and court records by reading books and blogs and attending webinars. I also will read more scholarly genealogy publications in anticipation of publishing my Robbins family history.

Publishing - The final goal of any genealogist should be publishing. No one in your family is going to sit down and look through your genealogy software or file folders for fun! They want stories, photos, items, recipes...things with which they can identify at a human interest level. Writing a blog, publishing short stories of your ancestors, creating a scrapbook or photo album, or authoring a family history book are all ways to generate interest among your family members and pass the love of family history along.

My Publishing goal will be to write about one ancestor a month. I wish I had the time to participate in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, but I know I won't have the endurance, nor the time. I also have an e-book in mind that I've been toying with, but have not set a goal for yet.

Fun - The best part of all should be a Fun goal! Maybe you've never attended a large-scale conference before. Perhaps you'd like to take a genealogy cruise. Is there a major genealogy library or repository you'd love to visit? How about a road trip that includes a number of ancestral locations? Have you considered organizing a family reunion? There are so many ways to include fun as a part of your genealogical journey!

I did a lot of traveling the past few years and really had a lot of fun at conferences, the Family History Library, and meeting a number of my fellow geneabloggers. Those things aren't on my agenda or in my budget for this coming year. Instead, my Fun goal is rather simple: getting to meet a number of people at several upcoming gatherings who will eventually become members of my own family; to learn their stories and backgrounds; and to incorporate them into my life, my heart, and my genealogical database.

There you have it! Six genealogy categories for targeting genealogy goals.

Of course, you may wish to come up with your own categories. You may even want to take some ideas from SMART goal worksheets that you can find online and create your own, using your own key genealogy categories.

My one word of caution is that you not overload yourself with too many goals. One goal in each category is plenty, and you may even wish to minimize your list to two to four categories.

What say you? Are you ready to make 2015 a successful genealogy that you'll look back on 365 days from now with a feeling of accomplishment? Best of luck to you in your endeavors, and Happy New Year!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

SMART Genealogy Goals

It's that time of year. 

For some, it's an annual ritual, making New Year's resolutions or goals. A few people are successful; many are not.

Those who are successful often create SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. You can Google "SMART goals" and find lots of helpful articles and worksheets that pertain to the common goals you will find in most people's lives: health, finances, relationships, career, spiritual, etc.

But why not apply SMART goals to genealogy?

It's pretty simple. Think of a genealogy goal you have in mind...say, organizing your genealogy "stuff." You can break that goal down into its SMART parts to make it more achievable.

Specific - "Organizing your genealogy stuff" or "getting organized" isn't specific. It doesn't tell what's expected, why it's important, who’s involved, where it's going to happen and which attributes are important.

A more specific goal would be: "I [who] will create a file folder system [what] for my maternal grandfather's lines [which] in the bottom two drawers of my filing cabinet [where] so that I can easily find the documents I need and put them properly away when done [why]."

Measurable - It's important to measure your progress toward your goal; if you can't measure it, you don't know if you're making progress. This is especially helpful to make sure you are staying (or getting back) on track when you hit the inevitable challenges or setbacks.

An example of a measurable quantifier in regard to the above goal could be: "I will spend two hours every Sunday afternoon working on creating my file folder system for Grandpa's lines."

Two measurements are listed here: how much [two hours] and how often [every Sunday]. Of course, it's necessary to assess beforehand if 104 hours a year would be enough, too little, or too much time to achieve the goal by year's end.

Attainable - This criterion is related to abilities and skills. For most of us, creating a filing system is well within our ability and skill level. However, if you are someone who considers herself to be "organizationally challenged," you may need to learn how to create an effective filing system. Some things many genealogists struggle with is what to do with a married woman's documents: does she have a folder under her maiden or married name (or both)? If both, do you duplicate everything for both folders, or do you keep documents that pertain to pre-married life in her maiden name folder, and those for her post-married life in her married name folder? What if you discover she remarried after her husband--your ancestor--died? Then where will you file her documents?

In another example, if your goal was related to obtaining wills for a specific group of ancestors, and you have never done courthouse research and know nothing about the probate process, you may need to make some adjustments. Either create a different goal, or modify it to include educating yourself in this area by reading a book on courthouse research, taking a class or webinar on probate records, or having a mentor (more experienced genealogist) walk you through the process.

Realistic - Do you have the resources (time, money, energy) to reach your goal? You've decided to spend two hours every Sunday afternoon working on your organization goal, but then you realize that you've recently committed to be on your local community center's advisory board, which meets at 3:00 p.m. the first Sunday of every month. Also, your recently-widowed mother with health issues will need to be checked on several times a week, and--while you're sharing this duty with your siblings--you're the only one that is free to do so on the weekends. Will you really be able to reach your goal? If not, how can you adjust it so you can?

Timely - When will I know this goal is complete? What should be accomplished six months from now? How about six weeks from now? How do I stay on track?

A habit I recently developed is to spend a half hour every Sunday afternoon to reflect on my goals (relationships, health, finances, career, household, genealogy, and creativity) as well as a character trait I am focusing on (forgiveness, determination, generosity, etc.). That half hour is set as a repeated goal on my Google calendar every Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. and an alert is sent to my cell phone to remind me to stop and do this. When I reflect on my goals and weekly outcomes, I don't beat myself up if I went off-track. I either succeed or I learn. Perhaps my health goal was to get eight hours of sleep every night the previous week, but I ended up having two nights in a row of only six hours each. Upon further investigation, I realize that the first night's lack of enough sleep was caused by having caffeine too late in the day, while the second night's was caused by noisy customers at the restaurant down the block. I have little control over the second situation, but I make a note to remember not to have caffeine (even in tea) after 1:00 p.m.

The same methods can be applied toward your SMART genealogy goals: reflect, note your successes or lessons, adjust or modify if necessary, and carry on.

Some things to consider when making SMART genealogy goals:
  • What do I want this to look like at the end of the year?
  • How often am I going to reflect to see if I'm on track?
  • How do I adjust if I come across a challenge or a setback?
  • How do I stay motivated?
  • Do I need some sort of accountability? Some genealogists partner up for this, in the same way that weight-loss or exercise partners do. The Genealogy Do-Over Group on Facebook is a great place to find such a partner or a support group.

The answers to these questions really are up to you.


I hope this has given you some ideas to ponder for making SMART genealogy goals. Tomorrow, I will publish a post on the categories that genealogy goals can cover: research targets, methodology, organization and preservation, education, publishing, and fun. Yes, one should always consider the fun in any group of goals, which is why I have creativity as a category in my personal goals. Stay tuned!

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Top 10 Brick Walls - Dad's Side

Image courtesy of GenealogyInTime Magazine
Several people have been posting their Top 10 Brick Wall Ancestors, so I decided to do so as well. The trouble was, when I started looking through my family tree, I realized I had a lot more than ten (don't we all?). So this post is about my top ten brick wall ancestors on my dad's side. Which, of course, means there'll be a post on the ones on my mom's side.

I've written about some of these folks before, but not all of them. Those that have previous blog posts have been linked. Do YOU have the answers to my brick walls?

My Top 10 Brick Walls - Dad's Side

1. Are the parents of Joseph Josiah ROBBINS (1820 - 1905)--of Oceana Co., Michigan, McKean Co., Pennsylvania, Tioga Co., Pennsylvania, and Otsego Co., New York--George Washington ROBBINS and Abigail HICKS?

2. Nelson H. PECK (b. c. 1819; d. 15 Apr 1849, probably in Potter Co., Pennsylvania) - when and where was he born, where did he die, what was his cause of death, and who were his parents? There are a lot of PECKs in Potter County, Pennsylvania around the time he lived there...but how do they connect?

3. Who were William KIMBALL's parents? He was b. c. 1806 in Vermont, moved to Cuyahoga Co., Ohio; and later removed to Kalamazoo and Newaygo Counties in Michigan.

4. Who were Cynthia PHILLIPS' parents? She was b. 10 May 1802 in Sharon, Litchfield Co., Connecticut; m. Ezra DICKINSON 12 November 1820 in Trumbull Co., Ohio; and d. 21 March 1852 in Hicksville, Defiance Co., Ohio after giving birth to 12 children.

5. Who are Richard WILKINSON's parents? He was b. c. 1815 in Yorkshire England; and m. Mary LAMOREAUX/TERRY before 1842, probably in York Co., Ontario. When and where did he die? He was last noted on the 1881 Canadian Census in Whitchurch, York Co., Ontario; and in 1891, his wife is a widow. He does not appear in the death records.

6. Why do we have two surnames for Mary LAMOREAUX or TERRY? Was she adopted? Who were her parents? Was she born (c. 1818) in Ontario or New Brunswick (I have both locations as birthplaces, from various documents).

7. When and where did John Henry SAYERS and his wife, Mary CAHOON, die? They are last found on the 1871 Canadian census in Cavan Twp., Durham Co., Ontario. They don't appear in the Ontario death records, nor the Michigan ones (a number of their children emigrated to Western Michigan around 1880-1881).

8. Were Stephen YORK and Amy FRANKLIN of the Town of Clarence, Erie Co., New York the parents of Jeremiah Franklin YORK (1791 - 1876)? I'm 99% sure that they were. I just need to find that one document with the evidence.

9. James W. BARBER (1841 - 1912) of England, Bruce Co., Ontario, and Lapeer and Genesee Counties, Michigan: Who were his parents?

10. Were William CLEVELAND and Lydia SHAW of China Twp., St. Clair Co., Michigan the parents of Clarissa CLEVELAND (c. 1832 - 1877)?

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Friday, December 26, 2014

From the Archives: Citing Those Christmas Cards, Holiday E-mails, and Family Photos

(This post was originally published 26 December 2009.)

It's the day after Christmas, and unlike all the (other) crazy people out there, you've decided to avoid the after-Christmas sales and start entering all the new and updated family information from your stack of Christmas cards, holiday e-mails and family holiday photos you've received over the past month into your genealogy software.

Now, if you have some of the newer genealogy software like RootsMagic or Legacy Family Tree, you're fortunate in that each have a built-in citation generator. Choose the source type from a drop-down menu, add the pertinent data, and voila! Your citations are in place. But just in case you don't have the latest software, or you'd like to ensure your citations are up to standard, you may wish to consult Evidence Explained: History Sources form Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills to see what the expert has to say. According to Ms. Mills, your stack of holiday mail and portraits is categorized as personal files and privately held materials. So let's create some scenarios and list the citation formats.

Your name is Jo Researcher and you live in Chicago. Your first item is a Christmas card from your mother's cousin, John Smith in Seattle. On the back, he has written a note stating his older step-sister, Mary (Jones) Brown, passed away in September, and would you please be so kind to let your mother know, as he's lost her address.  As you enter Mary's data into your software, giving the death date of September 2009, you realize you'll have to contact Cousin John to get more pertinent details, such as the exact date and the location of her death, as well as burial or cremation information. Oh, yes, and you must send him your mother's address as well. As you do. Every. Year.

Your bibliography would read:
2009 Researcher Family Christmas Cards. Privately held by Jo Researcher, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois.

If you used the source in a footnote in a report or family history book, the first reference would be:
1. John Smith, Seattle, Washington, to Jo Researcher, Christmas card, 22 December 2009, mentioning September 2009 death of Mary (Jones) Brown; privately held by Researcher, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois.

Mentioned again later, the short footnote would be:
11. Smith to Researcher, 22 December 2009.


Scenario Number Two: Uncle Charlie, your husband's charming bachelor uncle with a reputation for being a ladies' man, has sent a mass e-mail informing the family he has finally tied the knot Christmas Day while vacationing in Fiji over the winter holidays. Of course, Uncle Charlie has forgotten to mention some important details, such as his lovely new bride's name, but while you wait for him to respond to your query on the matter, you cite the original e-mail as so:

Researcher Family E-mails. Privately held by Jo and Joe Researcher, [(E-ADDRESS) AND STREET ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois.

1. Charles Chaplin, Jr., Navini, Fiji [(E-ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE),] to Jo and Joe Researcher, e-mail, 26 December 2009, "You'll Never Guess What Happened!" Researcher Family E-Mails; privately held by Researcher [(E-ADDRESS) AND STREET ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois.

Short footnote:
11. Chaplin to Researcher, e-mail, 26 December 2009.

Scenario Number Three: your second cousin, three times removed, Sarah Ann Snedeker, sends you a photo of her kids taken with the mall Santa. On the back, she writes, "Timmy (11), Tommy (9), and Tammy (7)."  You enter their birth dates into your software as c. 1998, c. 2000, and c. 2002, respectively. Before you store the photo in  your archival-safe photo box labeled "2009 Family Photos," you also cite the following:

Snedeker Children with Santa. Photograph. 2009. Privately held by Jo Researcher, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2009.
1. Snedeker Children with Santa photograph, 2009, privately held by Jo Researcher, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2009. Caption on reverse states, "Timmy (11), Tommy (9), and Tammy (7)."

Short footnote:
11. Snedeker Children with Santa photograph, 2009 Researcher Family Photos.

Last, but not least: your half-brother's ex-wife's sister has sent you a Christmas card and you notice the matching envelope has a personalized return address label with a cutesy "New Address!" caption on it. Entering a new residence fact for her in my software, you realize this is the 15th residence she's had in four years...that you know about! This actually fits under personal correspondence, like your first scenario, so here goes:

2009 Researcher Family Christmas Cards. Privately held by Jo Researcher, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois.
1. Janie Doe Reindeer, Los Angeles, California, to Jo Researcher, Christmas card, 14 December 2009, return label notifying a new address; privately held by Researcher, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois.
Short footnote:
11. Reindeer to Researcher, 14 December 2009.

(The following is read in a fast, auctioneer-style of information-giving one hears when listening to the end of a television commercial for a pharmaceutical product, with the hope that you will not notice that the quantity and quality of side effects are surely more annoying and even dangerous than the original symptoms from which you hoped to receive relief.)

All of the characters in the above scenarios are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Citation examples are gleaned from Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained: History Sources form Artifacts to Cyberspace (Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 2007 [1st edition]); any errors in citation are my own and are not a reflection of the excellent work of Ms. Mills. It is recommended that all readers consult a copy of Evidence Explained for themselves and even more strongly recommended that all genealogists and family historians actually own and use a copy at home. Regularly and religiously.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Best Christmas Wishes

Postcard to Rena Lerfald (c/o J.A. Weichs) in Dickinson, North Dakota from an unknown writer in Mandan, North Dakota, postmarked 1 June 1919. Westaby-Lerfald Postcard Collection. Digital image privately held by Miriam Robbins, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Spokane, Washington. 2014.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Goals for the Genealogy Do-Over

On December 15th, Thomas MacEntee published Announcing the Genealogy Do-Over in which he explained how his past research methods frustrated him. He invited other genealogists to join him in his venture and the following week posted a schedule of topics he plans to follow for the next few months. Currently, his Genealogy Do-Over Facebook group has 545 members as of this moment.

I'm not a straight jump-on-the-bandwagon type of person. I enjoy being a part of a group, but I've got to have a good reason to join and I weigh my time, energy, and budget against what would be required of me if I participated. I asked myself if I was willing to start a new database from scratch, and Self said, "No way." However, that doesn't mean I'm not willing to clean up what I have, which I've been doing on and off for several years now (guess it's time to stay "on" now with this!) and to implement some personal policies and procedures on how I do my own research that align with what I've done with my client research. So after some consideration and looking through the posts on the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook group in which other members described their goals, I came up with the following targets for my own Genealogy Do-Over.

1. Slow Down
It's easy to download 10 documents from the internet, add the pertinent info to your database, and then walk away without taking the time to analyze, cite, and file the documents digitally in the right folders with the appropriate new names. I get on a roll and my non-linear creative thinking kicks in, which is really great for thinking outside the box. It's lightning-fast thinking, too, and it's hard to keep up with where my mind is racing off to. It's not-so-great-thinking for keeping track of what search terms I used or where I searched or what my results were. So I give myself permission to slow down and take all the time I need to do it right the first time. Which leads us to the next step:

2. Do it right
When I have clients, not only do I slow down and follow all the important details I've mentioned in Step 1 (analyze, cite, file), I also write research plans, keep research logs, and draw up research reports. My family tree deserves the same respect and care that I would give any other client. It's OK to have those light-bulb moments and epiphanies, but it's paramount to make the time to follow up with those details. The great thing is I've got a wonderful set of skills learned from ProGen and tech tools I've gathered or created that can facilitate this important step.

3. Write with passion again
My blog has great ancestor stories that I wrote in the early days of blogging. After all, the name of this blog is AnceStories: The Stories of my Ancestors. However, life got hectic with parenting my teens and then a divorce, followed by longer work hours as I support myself financially. Additionally, I gained a lot of weight sitting around blogging and living with stress, so I spent a couple of years working hard to get it off. That took a lot of time but I've realized my health is worth that daily hour. I may not be able to crank out two to three quality blog posts a week anymore, but I give myself permission not to feel the pressure to do so. I want my posts to be a combination of great ancestor stories, quality research practices, and embedded citations. Those things are going to take time. But again, that's part of my goals: Slow down, do it right, write with passion again.

How about you? Are you ready to do a Genealogy Do-Over?

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Scanfest is Coming!

The December 2014 Scanfest will take place here at AnceStories this coming Sunday, December 28th, from 11 AM to 2 PM, Pacific Standard Time.
What is Scanfest? It's a time when geneabloggers, family historians, and family archivists meet online here at this blog to chat while they scan their precious family document and photos. Why? Because, quite honestly, scanning is time-consuming and boring!

Scanfest is a great time to "meet" other genealogists, ask questions about scanning and preservation, and get the kick in the pants we all need on starting those massive scanning projects that just seem too overwhelming to begin.

To get started, you need to know the basics about scanning:

1. Don't use commercial glass cleaners (i.e. Windex) or paper towels to clean your scanner's glass plate. Use a soft, clean cloth, preferably microfiber. If you must use a liquid, use water sprayed directly onto the cloth  and make sure to let the plate dry thoroughly before placing photos or documents on it.

2. Wear cotton gloves (available at many art and/or photography supply shops) when handling photos and old documents.

3. Don't slide the photos around on the glass plate. Place them exactly where you want them. Photos should NEVER be scanned by a scanner that feeds the document through the machine, but ALWAYS on a flat-bed scanner.

4. Set your scanner to scan at no smaller than 300 dpi (dots per inch). Many experts recommend 600 dpi for photographs.

5. Photographs should ALWAYS be scanned and saved as .tif files. Use "Save As" to reformat the .tif file to a .jpg file for restoration and touchups, emailing, or uploading to an online photo album. ALWAYS retain the original scan as a .tif file.

6. Documents can be scanned as .pdf files or .tif files.

7. When you are done scanning your photos, don't put them back in those nasty "magnetic" photo albums. Place them in archival safe albums or boxes found at websites such as Archival Products or Archival Suppliers. Do NOT store any newsprint (articles, obituaries, etc.) with the photos. The acid from the newspaper will eventually destroy the photograph.

Now about the chatting part of Scanfest:

We will be using Blyve, a live blogging platform that you access right here at AnceStories. On Sunday at 11 AM, PST, come right here to AnceStories and you'll see the Blyve live blog/forum in the top post. It's not really a "chat room," per se, it's more like a live forum and anyone visiting this site can read and see what is happening in the forum.

You will not need to download any software.

We look forward to having you participate with us!

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Finds and Follows: 19 December 2014

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

Yes. No. And maybe. by Judy G. Russell at The Legal Genealogist - is the Bible under copyright?

Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Civil War Records Project by Dick Eastman at Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter - with NINE direct ancestors who served in the Union Army, and many of them becoming members of the GAR, this information is very welcome!

Ghost Signs, Ghost Town by Larry Cebula at Northwest History - when my children were little, we used to visit small Eastern Washington towns on Sunday afternoons. We never made it to Sprague, but Larry does a great job of filling us in.

New National Archives Catalog at The Newberry Library Genealogy News - what the new, updated catalog holds

Solving a "mystery of baseball" by Zachary Garceau at Vita Brevis - learning more about the first African-American major league baseball player

My New Genealogy Follows at Twitter:

@Geneosity, @jlmunozr, @msgeneaology, @WillsmanOneName, @pickandming, @BobCumberbatch, @cind101, @rootschat, @ljjackson1958, @ARodesky, @randywhited, @legalgen, @ALifetimeLegacy, @IndianaGenSoc, @packrat74, @TrappDollaSign, @_genchat

Genealogy Facebook Pages I've "Liked":

Follow Me

Check out my websites:

Online Historical Directories 

Online Historical Newspapers

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

2015 Scanfest Dates

This post has been updated to correct the May 2015 Scanfest date to May 31st.

Here's a handy poster to help you remember the upcoming Scanfest dates for 2015. Please remember that dates are occasionally subject to change, but I will do my best to maintain this schedule. Those marked with an asterisk will be held one week early, due to an upcoming holiday weekend (the American Thanksgiving). Times are Pacific Time. We are in Standard Time until March 8th, when we switch to Daylight Savings Time until November 1st.

I'm looking forward to scanning and chatting with my genealogy friends in the coming year!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2015 Genealogy Blog Post Planner Now Available

Last year, I created a genealogy blog post planner with the hope that it would help me get a little more organized and consistent with my blogging. And you know what? It worked!

Sure, I wasn't perfect and there were times when I went too long between blog posts. But when I compare this year's blogging with the past two years, there definitely was an improvement in the quantity of my posts.

Click to enlarge
 As you can see (and click the images to enlarge for a better view), I have created seven columns titled Day, Date, Blog Post Ideas, Notes, Draft, Scheduled, and Posted. The header includes a hyperlinked URL to Geneabloggers for more great blog post ideas.

Click to enlarge
I color-coded each month for ease of use. Don't worry. If you want to change the colors, including going back to an all-white background, you can do so when you download this as an Excel file. In fact, you can personalize any part of this template. The only thing I've frozen are the headers, so that when you scroll down, you can always see them. Note this in the image below.

Click to enlarge
The image above also shows how I'm already using my 2015 Genealogy Blog Post Planner. You can see that I've started planning for Scanfest and Tuesday's Tips.

To get your own 2015 Genealogy Blog Post Planner, go to At the top of the page, click on File > Download As > Microsoft Excel. If you wish to keep this in your own Google Drive, download it first, save it to your computer, and then upload it to Google Drive. You can also request this template from me via email. Also, if you're an Evernote or OneNote fan, you can paste this into your notebooks (some formatting changes may occur).

If you like what you've found here, please repost it on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, using the icons below. Happy New Year, and best of luck in your blogging!

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Spokane, Washington High School Yearbooks Available Online

June 1915 edition of North Central High School's Tamarack

The Spokane Public Library recently announced that a free new digital collection of historical Spokane-area high school yearbooks is now accessible through their website. This collection is made available with the cooperation of the Spokane Public Schools and the Internet Archive. All the yearbooks are full-text searchable. Each is available in a variety of formats, making it viewable on many devices, including your laptop, Kindle, or phone. They can be downloaded to your computer or other device as well.

The following is a current list of yearbooks available, with the high school it features and the years that are covered. Note that in the early twentieth century, it was not uncommon to have two yearbooks per school year, to highlight seniors who graduated mid-year, as well as those who graduated at year's end.

Hillyard High School (no longer in existence): 1930-1931

Lewis and Clark High School: June 1920 - 1977

North Central High School: May 1912 - January 1915

Spokane High School (no longer in existence): January and June 1911

The yearbooks can be accessed through the Spokane Public Library website at

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Finds and Follows: 12 December 2014

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

Facebook changing again by Judy G. Russell at The Legal Genealogist - and like she says, "it's basically no big deal."

15-step social media marketing plan to help you promote your next genealogy conference by Gail Dever at Genealogy à la carte - belong to a genealogical society or on a conference committee? Here are some great tips.

Finding father by Judy G. Russell at The Legal Genealogist - don't know which DNA test to take? Here's an easy-to-understand primer.

Best Practices for Reliable Research by Elizabeth Shown Mills at Evidence Explained's blog

School library’s late fees ‘Gone With the Wind’ by Jody Lawrence-Turner at The Spokesman-Review

Story of returned 1946 copy of ‘Gone With the Wind’ grows by Shawn Vestal at The Spokesman-Review

Digital Archives, State Library among best genealogy sites, again by Brian Zylstra at From Our Corner (Washington Secretary of State blog)

My New Genealogy Follows at Twitter:

@Fuentesarchivos, @ambrotype7, @GenealogyDocs, @ggirltalks, @BrassServices, @caitieamanda, @Areyoumycousin, @VHughesAuthor, @prsnalhistgn_dp, @heritagefamily, @WTPGenealogy, @JaneSheehan1, @scarboomum, @AchievementsGen, @Historylady2013, @alenars, @PaulJMurray1, @LMentaryFH, @GeneaWorkshop, @Wanda_Langdon, @TurisGen, @AncestoryArchiv

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Book Review: The Tiny Portrait

(click photo to enlarge)

I received a little package the other day in the mail. The Tiny Portrait, by Heidi Carla, is a tale of two siblings, Tess and Toby, who discover a Memory Box full of antiques and heirlooms. As they delve into its treasures, they discover a mysterious woman named Lottie in a tiny portrait from the past. She takes them on an adventure through their community. Along the way, they learn about their family history by studying postcards and diaries, visiting the library, and meeting an antique dealer.

In reading this, I was reminded of both the movie Hugo and the best-selling children's series, the Magic Tree House. Enigmatic characters, attempts at unlocking puzzles to the past, and a little bit of magic are perfect ingredients for any enchanting tale.

This delightful story is cleverly illustrated with a unique combination of photomontage and composite printing by the author's sister, Karla Cinquanta. The heirlooms in the photos are from the author's personal collection. Here are a couple of my favorite pages from the book:

(click photos to enlarge)

Ms. Carla began writing The Tiny Portrait while researching her family tree. Sure to please all ages, it would be a terrific gift to give a young relative to get them interested in their own genealogy. In fact, I have a couple of grandnieces in mind that I'm sure will enjoy receiving this as a Christmas gift! Shhh!


The Tiny Portrait by Heidi Carla, illustrated by Karla Cinquanta. Hardback, 52 pages. Published 2014 by Curly & Iceburg Publishing, Cranston, Rhode Island. Available on Amazon.


Disclosure: I received a free book from Cadence Marketing Group for review. As an Amazon Associate, I also receive a small percentage of the purchase price when readers purchase a title through the Amazon link above, although this title is available at other websites and various bookstores.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Finds and Follows: 28 November 2014

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

New Arrivals in the NW Collections at the Washington State Library blog - great fiction and non-fiction touching on the history of the Pacific Northwest

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks by Whitson Gordon at Lifehacker - good idea for holiday traveling

When Aunt Mable's Genealogy is Wrong by Lee Drew at FamHist

Facebook Photo Privacy Settings You Need to Know About by Matt Smith at MakeUseOf

Non-working URLs, Stable URLs, and DOIs by Elizabeth Shown Mills at EE's blog

Review: JPASS at JSTOR--A Valuable Resource for Genealogy by Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers

Who Pushed Thanksgiving To Be A Holiday? by Donna Potter Phillips at the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society Blog

Follow World I, Week-By-Week, For The Next Four Years [Stuff to Watch] by Tim Brookes at MakeUseOf

12 Kinds of Organizations Genealogists Should Follow on Facebook by Diane Haddad at Genealogy Insider

Photo Duplication Service to Be Discontinued on Dec 5, 2014 by Diane Gould Hall at Michigan Family Trails - I'm really sad to see this go.

My New Genealogy Follows at Twitter:

@LynnsWPics, @pastonpaper, @FamilyTreeDNA, @nelleFamTree, @LaurenMahieu14, @familytreeblog, @genejean, @echoesofourpast, @genBUZZ, @DACGenealogy, @BucksResearch, @HistoryAngels, @KerrywoodLondon, @scottishindexes, @OurOwnHistory, @Suellen1971, @genealog_yfamil, @GeneRoadshow

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

From the Archives: A Thanksgiving Hymn

(This post was originally published Thanksgiving Day 2007, and was republished on that same holiday in 2010.)

We Gather Together to Ask the Lord's Blessing

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His Kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side; all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender wilt be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

This hymn, traditionally sung during the Thanksgiving season, is an old Netherlands folks song translated by Theodore Baker. The tune that is used is "Kremser," an old Netherlands melody in The Collection, by Adrianus Valerius, 1625. It has been my favorite Thanksgiving hymn since I was about six or seven years old, when my father explained to me the story behind the hymn, as a part of the Dutch heritage and cultural lessons he and my mother taught me at home. Those were the basis of my love for history and genealogy today. I remember singing this song a cappella for show and tell at school in second grade.

During the Eighty Years' War (a war of independence) between Spain and what would become the United Provinces of the Netherlands, the inland city of Leiden--among others--was besieged by Spanish troops from May through October 1574. People were starving, and although the Dutch had ships of food to relieve the citizens, there was no way to get the supplies past the Spanish troops. The Dutch then sacrificed their land by cutting the dikes, flooding the area outside the city along with the Spanish encampments, so that the ships could sail in and provide sustenance and relief to the city. The hymn above was written to give thanks to God for His Providence during this war.

Because of the cruel persecution the Calvinistic Dutch people suffered at the hand of the Catholic Spanish, the Netherlands became a place of refuge for the religiously oppressed. It says much of the tolerant Netherlanders that they did not become consumed with hatred for Catholicism, and thus did not become a country of violence and strife as we see in Northern Ireland today. Those southern Dutch provinces which remained loyal to Catholicism eventually--and peacefully--became the country of Belgium. The city of Leiden became a host for the English Separatists, whom we know today as the Pilgrims. They lived there from about 1608 until the majority left for America in 1620. Some of the family members remained behind until the colony was established, arriving on later ships.

As we know with history, each event was inspired and created by many others. While there were many early European groups in North America that celebrated some sort of thanksgiving event, our modern Thanksgiving holiday is most closely aligned with the one that took place in 1621 by the Pilgrims. Their arrival on this continent was an important historical event in the timeline of our country. Yet if not for the city of Leiden, its successful stand against the Spanish in 1574, and its place as a haven for the religiously oppressed, we may not be celebrating Thanksgiving today.

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