24 December 2009

Mission of the National Archives: Museum or Access Agency?

On Wednesday, 16 December 2009, the Information Policy, Census and National Archives subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on the Mission of the National Archives.

The participants on the first panel were Dr. James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, G. Wayne Clough, Secretary of The Smithsonian Institution, and new United States Archivist, David S. Ferriero. Each participant submitted a written statement and delivered a five-minute summary. Mr. Ferriero’s written statement has been posted on the NGS website at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/NARA_hearing. Although we were there to present the concerns of the genealogical community, the subcommittee was most interested in preventing security breaches and making sure the Archivist develops a plan for preserving and safeguarding the electronic records of the many government agencies. The Archivist was also asked a series of follow up questions about delays in responding to FOIA, requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

The purpose of the first panel was to hear how the other two institutions balanced conflicting demands for resources from their many different user groups. Members of the subcommittee asked questions about strategic plans and measurement of plan accomplishments. Subcommittee member Eleanor Holmes Norton, representative from the District of Columbia, clearly supports museum expansion of the National Archives. If you live in the District, you need to write Ms. Norton and remind her that many genealogists visit Washington, D.C. every year and spent tourist dollars.

The genealogical community was represented on the second panel by Jan Alpert, President of the National Genealogical Society. The oral statement she delivered and the full written statement presented to the subcommittee are available on the NGS website in their entirety. The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) prepared written statements, which were acknowledged by Chairman Clay but not accepted into the record by the clerk due to a strict interpretation of House protocol. Their written statements together with a statement prepared by the NARA User’s Group and supported by a number of area genealogical societies were presented on Thursday at a follow-up meeting at NARA. Those three additional statements have been posted on the NGS website so that, as interested genealogists, you can be brought up to date on all the issues.

Other participants on the second panel included Anne L. Weisman, Chief Counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Kevin M. Goldberg, legal counsel for the American Society of News Editors, and Carl Malamud, founder and president of Public.Resource.Org. Although we access different records at the National Archives than these organizations, we share some similar interests. We all want accessible hours, availability to make requests online, better response times, and more digitization of the records at NARA.

Based upon the questions from members of the subcommittee and responses from new Archivist Ferriero, it appears that there will be subsequent hearings on issues affecting the National Archives. We will keep you advised through this blog.


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20 December 2009

NGS Awards and Competitions Deadline Approaching!


The deadline for entries in the following awards and competitions is 31 January 2010. Read on for descriptions and links to the details for each competition!

NGS Rubincam Youth Award

This award recognizes youth in two categories based on age and grade level. Senior - Students in grades 10 to 12, or between the ages of 16 to 18 years. Junior - Students in grades 7 to 9, or between the ages of 13 to 15 years. NGS Membership is not required. Students must submit an original unpublished work written in English and include email contact information. Complete details and submission forms are available at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/rubincam_youth_award/nomination_form.

NGS Home Study Course Scholarship Award

The award is a scholarship for the NGS American Genealogy: A Home Study Course. It presented to an individual who demonstrates a serious interest in furthering their genealogical education, has attended national/regional or local conferences, and subscribes to genealogical publications. NGS Membership is required. NOTE: Ineligible are those who have previously enrolled in the Home Study Course and those with genealogical accreditation or certification. Details and submission forms are available at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/home_study_course_scholarship_award/nomination_form.

NGS Genealogical Writing Competitions program recognizes excellence, scholarship, and achievements in the field of genealogy by presenting two awards to individuals and nonprofit organizations for significant contributions to the field of genealogy or for a specific, significant, single contribution in the form of an article or book, or other publication which serves to foster scholarship and/or otherwise advance or promote excellence in genealogy. Nominees need not be a member of NGS. The publication must have been published during the past three years. The two categories are:

1. Award for Excellence: Genealogical Methods and Sources is selected for a specific, significant single contribution in the form of a book, an article or a series of articles published during the last three years that discuss genealogical methods and sources and serves to foster scholarship and/or otherwise advances or promotes excellence in genealogy. All nominations must include e-mail contact information. Instructions and the nominating forms are available at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/award_for_excellence_genealogical_methods_sources/nomination_form.

2. Award for Excellence: Genealogy and Family History Book is presented to the person who has made a specific, significant single contribution in the form of a family genealogy or family history book published during the past three years which serves to foster scholarship and/or otherwise advances or promotes excellence in genealogy. All nominations must include e-mail contact information. Instructions and the nominating forms are available at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/award_for_excellence_genealogy_family_history_book/nomination_form.

NGS Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship Sponsored by ProQuest

An outstanding librarian will be honored during the 2010 NGS Conference in Salt Lake City 28 April – 1 May. The Filby Award is $1000 sponsored by ProQuest and is awarded to a librarian who has made significant contributions in the field of genealogy. If you know a worthy librarian, please nominate them today. Criteria for judging and nominating forms are available at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/the_filby_prize_for_genealogical_librarianship/nomination_form.

Award of Merit

NGS will present awards to individuals or institutions who, over a period of five years or more, have made outstanding contributions to NGS programs or who have performed outstanding work in the field of genealogy, history or biography. The nominee need not be a member of NGS. If you know someone worthy, nominate them today. Forms are available at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/award_of_merit/nomination_form.

Distinguished Service Award

NGS will present awards to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to NGS programs or who have performed outstanding work in the field of genealogy, history, biography, or heraldry. A nominee must have been an NGS member for at least one year when nominated. The submission form is online at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/distinguished_service_award/nomination_form.

National Genealogy Hall of Fame

NGS Hall of Fame honors individuals of the past who made significant contributions to genealogy and set high standards by which we work today. A nominee need not have been an NGS member. They must have been actively engaged in genealogy in the United States for at least ten years, must have been deceased for at least five years at the time of nomination, and must have made a contribution to the field of genealogy judged to be of lasting significance in ways that were unique, pioneering, or exemplary. Submission forms are available online at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/hall_of_fame.

Fellow of the National Genealogical Society

The NGS Fellow Award recognizes outstanding work in the field of genealogy, or the related fields of history, biography or heraldry, in addition to outstanding service to NGS. The nominee must have been an NGS member for at least five years. The nominating form is online at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/ngs_fellow/nomination_form


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16 December 2009

Research in New Jersey guide available

Just in time for Christmas, the latest NGS Research in the States guide, Research in New Jersey, is available. Written by professional genealogist Claire Keenan Agthe, this guide to the Garden State leads researchers down the right path to finding their ancestors—from the colonial era to later immigrants. Early in the history of the NGS Quarterly, lengthy articles about researching in specific states were featured. Eventually the articles were updated, expanded, and published as concise guides to the history, records, and research facilities of a state. The Research in the States series continues this tradition by publishing new guides in print and e-book versions. Research in New Jersey is the latest of thirteen states now available. The guides are economically priced, so you can buy the print version for your library and the electronic PDF version for your computer. Imagine having the entire collection on your laptop for reference, yet taking up no space in your briefcase or tote bag. And don't forget that NGS members receive a discount on purchases made in the NGS online store. Shop the NGS online store today for the states you need (be sure to log on to the NGS website before completing your purchase.)


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09 December 2009

SLC Research Trip: Act Now to Share a Room

Want to rev up your research? The 24-31 January 2010 NGS research trip to Salt Lake City has an opening for a female who would like to share a room ($640 for NGS members, $690 for non-members). This is a fun, but yet educational, trip and we have a number of participants who come year after year. It is a week to fully immerse yourself in genealogy with other like-minded people. More details can be found at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/research_trips.

The cut-off is 23 December 2009, so please act quickly if you would like to use this available space. Contact Gayathri Kher directly at gkher@ngsgenealogy.org or call her at (703)525-0050 Ext. 221.


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Gifts for the Holiday Season

Happy Holidays to all UpFront readers! It is that time of the year again..... when you are wondering what the best gift would be for the family historian in your life. And what better way could there be than polling fellow family historians?

Cast your vote today, using the list on the left of your UpFront window. Be sure to visit UpFront again and see how your gift list compares with other readers! Listed below are some of the gift items the NGS staff came up with.

  1. Kindle Wireless Reading Device
  2. Registration to attend the 2010 NGS Family History Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah
  3. Portable GPS Navigator
  4. National Genealogical Society Membership
  5. Netbook
  6. Subscription to Ancestry.com or Footnote
  7. Digital Camera
  8. Nested Luggage Set
  9. Digital Photo Frame
  10. A wonderful holiday season with friends and family - Priceless!
  11. Membership to a local/state genealogical society
  12. Genealogy Software or Application
  13. Ellis Island Gifts

If you would like to have your suggestion added to this list and the poll, please use the comments section to indicate your item for addition. Happy shopping and happy polling!


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07 December 2009

Review and Reader Discount: British Newspapers Online

by Pam Cerutti, Editor

A recent press release announced the online availability of British newspapers from 1800 to 1900. (See UpFront article dated 20 September 2009.). This review includes a limited-time offer for 50% off your purchase of a full day pass or week pass to this great web site. Full details appear at the end of this article.

I had a chance to look at the British Newspapers web site and found it both easy to use and full of interesting information. In this article I'd like to share my experiences. You can try it out for yourself as the website offers free access to all the articles in two London publications, The Graphic and The Penny Illustrated Paper.

Made available by Gale, part of Cengage Learning, The British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee, the British Newspapers website at http://newspapers.bl.uk provides lots of information to help put into timely context ancestors who lived in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales during a 100-year span. It has fully searchable newspapers as well as a timeline of major events, articles about aspects of life in those times, and articles about both people in the news and the newspapers themselves. A good amount of information is available for free; however, views of most full newspaper articles are offered by purchase of a modestly-priced pass for either 24 hours or 7 days.

To start with, I decided to see how many hits I'd get when searching on a surname of interest. A simple search on “Towler” found 3756 entries, the first two of which are shown below in the easy-to-use results screen (Note: You can click on any picture to see it full-sized; then use your browser's Back button [<] to return to the article.):



The default results are sorted by Publication Date Ascending, but the dropdown choices let you quickly switch to Publication Title, Article Title, Publication Date Descending, or Relevance. In addition, the options on the left side of the window allow you to further limit your results by either Newspaper Section (Advertising, Arts and Sports, Business News, News, or People) or Article Type (Arts & Entertainment; Birth, Death, Marriage Notices; Business; Classified Ads; News; or Sports). I decided to focus first on vital records, so I changed my display to Article Type and clicked on Birth, Death, Marriage Notices to limit my Search Results to the 118 results of this type that included my “Towler” surname.

Efficient researchers will definitely want to take advantage of the Advanced Search. Besides limiting your search results to a particular category and/or article type, you can specify a date range, publication, or place of publication. I found valuable information about my surname in some less-than-obvious categories, such as Classified Ads, for example, so I’d suggest you keep an open mind as to what you might find within each section.

You can also use all the standard search tools with the Advanced Search: quotation marks, wildcards, and logical (Boolean) operators, as well as range and proximity operators. If you need a refresher on any of these, click the Help link for clear, concise explanations of each. Shown below, I filled in the Advanced Search window to find the name “towler” either 30 words before or 30 words after “weeting,” the home of my Towler ancestors. I further restricted this search to three types of articles published before 31 December 1875 in the English language.



Of course, the real fun begins as you peruse your search results! As the Search Results window tells you, you can click on the thumbnail image of any article to see a free extract containing the words used in your search. The thumbnail images give you a preview of the first match for your search word(s) within a listed article, allowing you to see its context without using one of your purchased article views. If it looks good to you, you can go ahead and view the full article. For my search, each thumbnail showed green highlighting on the section containing my “Towler” search word. Here's an example:



To quickly scan all your results, you can bypass the thumbnail's Close button and just click on another thumbnail. Whenever an item is labeled as free content, you can view the whole article without a subscription. You can view the subscription-based articles by purchasing either 24-hour pass or a 7-day pass.

You can display the full article by clicking on either the link inside a displayed thumbnail enlargement, the blue title line for the entry, or one of the links below the title: Article, Page, or Browse Issue. Once displayed, the article can be enlarged or even searched for further key words. The example below is 50% of its full size and shows the clarity of the scanned image; I have also pointed out the other options available:



The clarity of the scanned newspapers varies, as can be expected with paper that is 100 to 200 years old. However, everything I found was quite readable. You can always zoom in to enlarge any item that you want to see better. Below is example that provides a glimpse into the life of Ann Towler, even offering information about her father that was new to me. It is zoomed to 50% and is very clear:



Placing a check in the “Mark” box at the top places the item in a “Marked List,” where you can perform further actions on all your marked items at the same time. The other actions each display in a new window. Some were a bit confusing to me at first, so here are descriptions of each:
  • Bookmark displays the full URL to display the same search results or article, depending on what’s displayed when you click it. From the Bookmark window you can email a link to yourself or other recipients. When recipients click on this link, they will see the same search results list or article. Their access to the full articles that are not part of the free content depends on whether or not they have purchased a pass to the British Newspapers site. Note that simply using your browser's bookmark or favorites feature will not work to bookmark pages that contain dynamic content, such as search results, marked items, or a document.

  • Print Preview lets you create an HTML or PDF file of articles or a PDF file of an entire newspaper issue that you can then either save or print. Keep in mind that the included newspaper content will be the scanned image that you displayed or checked in your Marked List – not a transcription; this is a good thing because it averts the possible errors that transcriptions can create due to bad guesses by humans or software. The choices for the output depend on what page is displayed when you select the Print option.
I noticed a couple other points about the Print option worth reporting. (1.) If you want to print the entire page or issue, you need to display that page or issue before choosing the Print option. (2.) Only the HTML option will include source citation details such as newspaper title and date and website-specific document number. I found it most efficient to mark the articles I wanted and then go to the Marked List to click on the Print icon. Here is a sample of the Print window displayed from the Marked List, which generates an HTML file (that your browser can display) containing citation detail and the article for each marked item that you keep checked:


  • Email generates citation details that you can send to yourself or other recipients. Note that you cannot email any part of the newspaper with this option – only source citation information.
  • Download allows you to generate either an HTML file of citation information or a PDF file of the displayed item, which you can then download to your hard drive, USB flash drive, or other portable device. Here again, the contents of the PDF file depend on whether you have displayed just the article, the full page, or the entire issue. Instead of using this Download option, I found it preferable to display the desired article and then, using the Print option, click on the HTML button; the resulting HTML page included both citation detail and the article itself.
These options are available from many entry points. The icons appear in the top left corner of the window, so be sure to keep your window as wide as the full display. Whenever a particular option is not available, it will be grayed out. On occasion, the window for one of these icons seemed to open behind my browser window; this may be my own doing, but if you don't see the window, look for it in the tray of open windows at the bottom of your screen.

The site also provides helpful background information on each newspaper. This information is freely available on what the web site refers to as “Issues pages.” You can display Issues pages by several avenues, but my preference is from my search results since this is where a particular newspaper gains my interest. When you click on a displayed publication title, its Issues page provides its background information, such as key dates in the publication's history, an explanation of its role, significance or political leanings, and a description of its layout and contents. Below is a sample Issues page:


The British Newspapers site offers much more information that's available for free. A lot of it is accessible from the Research Tools tab, which displays four sections, each of which expands into a number of subsections:
  • Researching Historical Newspapers and Periodicals provides two clear and scholarly articles that give historical, social, and economic context for newspapers as they developed in the periods from 1800 to 1860 and from 1860 to 1900, respectively. You will also find a lengthy bibliography of 19th Century British Library Newspapers for all the footnotes referenced in the articles.
  • Historical Context is a large section that starts with a Chronology, or timeline, of major news events throughout the nineteenth century. Clicking on any of these events displays Search Results of newspaper items about that event. Following the Chronology are no less than sixteen topics ranging from “Rights, Responsibilities and Emancipation" to “Sex and scandal." The link for each topic displays a full article on its subject, and some of these articles end with a list of links to still more articles that you can download and print in PDF format. (If you don't have a program that can read PDF files, you can download Adobe's free Acrobat Reader at http://get.adobe.com/reader/.) The following screenshot shows this section expanded and displaying an article on “Emigration, Immigration and Migration in Nineteenth-Century Britain.”

  • The People section contains right-sized articles that highlight the lives of eight prominent individuals of the nineteenth century.
  • The About section includes an Introduction describing the partnership between Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, and the British Library that allowed the creation of this web site as well as a larger collection that spans three hundred years of newspaper publishing in the U.K. There's also a brief description of the digitization project and the selection of the included newspapers. I found the last section especially helpful: it's a thorough Frequently Asked Questions section that answers many questions about the web site's contents and operation, as well as how the subscription options work.
I found the overall operations quite intuitive, but I’d like to offer a suggestion to maximize your time if you decide to purchase a pass. A strategy you might consider is to read any articles of interest within the Research Tools before purchasing your pass. Also, peruse the Help to orient yourself to the options you’ll have, especially any Advanced Search tips you need to brush up on. Then do a couple searches on the free content so that you know what to expect from each action in the Search Results window. Now that you’ve whetted your appetite, you’re off and running.

All in all, anyone with nineteenth century U.K. ancestry will find the British Newspapers website a valuable resource. Besides finding details about my ancestors that I had not seen anywhere else, I found many fascinating stories about their towns and contemporaries that gave me a much more colorful picture of their lives. Subscriptions are reasonably priced at either £9.99 (about $16.50 US) to open and work with 200 articles over a week's time, or £6.99 (about $11.50 US) to open 100 articles over a 24-hour period. You can try it for yourself at http://newspapers.bl.uk.

The folks at Gale, part of Cengage Learning, have graciously offered readers of UpFront with NGS a 50% discount for either pass – 24 hours or 7 days – until December 31. To take advantage of this offer, simply go to http://newspapers.bl.uk and click Subscribe Now! When the payment window appears, enter coupon code NGSdiscount (Code is not case-sensitive.).


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06 December 2009

Family History Writers Contest: Open to Public

The Southern California Genealogical Society sponsors one of the very few writing contests designed specifically for family historians that is open to the general public. Membership in SCGS is not required to participate in the contest.

The GENEii Family History Writers Contest, now in its tenth year, offers cash prizes in two categories:

Category 1: Family or local history articles of 1,000-2,000 words in length, published or unpublished. If previously published, entries must be accompanied by the written permission of the publisher allowing article to be reprinted by SCGS.

Awards:
1st Place, $200
2nd Place, $100
3rd Place, $50
Honorable Mentions, certificate
Finalists, certificate

Category 2: Family or local history articles of 1,000 words or less, published or unpublished. If previously published, entries must be accompanied by the written permission of the publisher allowing article to be reprinted by SCGS.

Awards:
1st Place, $100
2nd Place, $50
3rd Place, $25
Honorable Mentions, certificate
Finalists, certificate

The deadline for submissions for the 2009 contest is December 31, 2009.

All of the details and contest rules can be found on the SCGS Website at www.scgsgenealogy.com. The FAQs can be found at http://www.scgsgenealogy.com/2009contest-faq.htm

You can read examples of some of the entries on the website as well. Look on the left-hand side of the screen for "Writing Contest" and click on that link.

In November, 2005, Heritage Books, Inc. published an anthology of some of the most memorable entries to our contest in the contest’s first five years. The anthology is called Celebrating Family History, and is available for $25 plus shipping and handling through the SCGS website.


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Your Help Needed: NARA in Congress on 16 December

As you may have heard, renovations are again proposed for the National Archives that will affect all NARA researchers. If the changes materialize, some research space at the downtown facility will be converted to offices, exhibits, and other uses, and research services will have to be reconfigured. To assure that research resources are enhanced, rather than diminished, we again appeal—urgently--for your help.

Several notices have circulated about an extremely important congressional subcommittee hearing later this month. The hearing of the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives, which oversees NARA, will examine the National Archives mission. The proposed changes at Archives-1 will undoubtedly be discussed. The new Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, will testify.

This is our opportunity to voice concerns and priorities to congressional leaders. Please participate by 1) writing to the members of the subcommittee (details below); and 2) attending the hearing if you are in the Washington DC area (details below).
  1. CONTACT SUBCOMMITTEE MEMBERS: It is critical that we contact every member of the subcommittee in advance, to 1) encourage them to attend and participate in the meeting, 2) to express our concerns, and 3) to urge them to make researcher services a priority. Please take time now to send each of them a note. It is especially important for constituents of the subcommittee members to contact those members. (See below for list of subcommittee members, and suggestions for writing.)

  2. ATTEND THE HEARING: If you are in the Washington DC area on 16 December, please attend the hearing. Members of Congress take careful note of attendance at such hearings. A well-attended meeting will communicate that researchers care about what happens at NARA. Wednesday, 16 December 2009; 2 p.m. Rayburn House Office Building, room 2154
ALSO, if you are in the DC area, a public meeting will be held the following day, 17 December 2009, at 1:00 p.m. at NARA, specifically to discuss the proposed changes. If you can make that meeting also, please put it on your calendar.

SUGGESTIONS FOR WRITING TO SUBCOMMITTEE MEMBERS:

  • Keep your message to one page.
  • At the TOP of the message, identify your reason for writing. For example: “Re: Information Policy Subcommittee Hearing on National Archives, December 16.”
  • If at all possible, write an individualized letter (you can cite some issues below, or add others; a sample letter appears below).
  • Contact each member only once about the hearing.
  • Be succinct. Readers should be able to read and understood the message in one minute. Specify your request in the first or second sentence. In another two or three sentences explain how important it is for the member to attend and participate in the hearing.
  • Specify if you are writing as an individual or representing a group.

Issues you may wish to address (among others you might include):
  • Renovations at Archives-1 (downtown) should aim to make it a world-class research facility.
  • Reconsider decisions already made (on the Constitution side of the building) so the result will optimally serve the public and researchers without compromising the latter.
  • Upgrade services, personnel, hardware, and software to bring the research facility in line with other first-rate research facilities in the world.
  • The mission of the National Archives and Records Administration: to safeguard and preserve government records and provide public access to those records both in our nation's capitol and at NARA regional facilities.

How to contact subcommittee members:
  • If you live in a member’s district, use the “Write your Representative” site, which provides direct email contact for constituents. Users enter a state +zip code. Use this link: http://www.house.gov/writerep/
  • To contact other members, use email if an address appears below (many do not provide email addresses for non-constituents). Otherwise FAX letters. Do not use USPS mail as postal delivery to congressional offices takes very long. (See below.)
  • If you represent an organization, follow up with a reminder fax the morning of December 15.
SUBCOMMITTEE

Chairman:
Clay, William Lacy ..... Phone: (202) 225-2406 ..... Fax: (202) 226-3717
D MO, 1st D.

Kanjorski, Paul ..... Phone: 202-225-6511 ..... Fax: (202) 225-0764
D PA, 11th D.

Maloney, Carolyn ... http://tinyurl.com/yzfttfn ..... Fax: 202-225-4709
D NY, 14th D.

Norton, Eleanor Holmes ... Phone: (202) 225-8050 .... Fax: (202) 225-3002
D DC

Davis, Danny ..... http://tinyurl.com/yzs8gl6 ..... Fax: (202) 225-5641
D Chicago, 7D.

Driehaus, Steve ..... http://tinyurl.com/yz637fg .... Fax: (202) 225-3012
D OH, 1st D.

Watson, Diane ..... Phone: 202-225-7084 ..... Fax: 202-225-2422
D CA, 33rd D.

Cuellar, Henry ..... Phone: 202-225-1640 ..... Fax: 202-225-1641
D TX, 28th D.

Ranking Minority:
McHenry, Patrick ..... Phone: 202.225.2576..... Fax: 202.225.0316
R NC, 10th D

Vice Ranking Minority:
Westmoreland, Lynn .....Phone: (202) 225-5901 ..... Fax: (202) 225-2515
R GA, 3rd D.

Mica, John ....... http://tinyurl.com/y9bxwuf ..... Fax: (202) 226-0821
R FL, 7th D.

Chaffetz, Jason ..... Phone: (202) 225-7751 ..... Fax: (202) 225-5629
R UT, 3rd D.

SAMPLE LETTER (PLEASE VARY AND PERSONALIZE)

Date
Addressee / address
Re: Information Policy Subcommittee Hearing on National Archives, December 16

Dear ______:

The proposed renovation at the National Archives (Washington, DC facility) is a major concern for all researchers. As [a frequent researcher at NARA, a representative of…] I hope the work being considered will result in upgraded, enhanced research facilities that make it a world-class research facility. Many of us are worried that some changes appear to aggrandize exhibits, the gift shop, and other tourist attractions in the building at the expense of resources serving researchers.

First and foremost, the public documents preserved at NARA should be made accessible to scholars, historians, educators, journalists, artists, family historians, scientists, and other researchers—via up-to-date technology, facilities, and expert archival assistance. In your oversight role, please assure that this is the top priority as renovations proceed. I hope you will be at the subcommittee meeting and take an active role in the proceedings. [I plan to attend the hearing.]

Congressional oversight and support for research services is critical if NARA is to remain a renowned research institution, fulfilling its mission to the American public, and in line with similar facilities in other countries.

Thank you, in advance, for your support. If you wish additional information, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

NAME / AFFILIATION (IF ANY)


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04 December 2009

Richard Pence, 1932-2009

Richard Pence was a long-time member of NGS who contributed his many talents to the organization, especially in the early days of computer genealogy. We are saddened to learn of his recent death. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Conference Center located at 4301 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22203. The following obituary was contributed by his family.

Richard A. Pence, an editor and publications advisor whose hobby of tracking his ancestors evolved into pioneering work in the use of computers in genealogical research, died November 25 in Fairfax,Virginia. He was 77.

Pence’s work in genealogy, once a side-line, became a full-time effort in 2000 when he retired from his 39-year career in communications work for rural electric cooperatives on the state and national levels.

Pence’s principal genealogical contributions stemmed from his interest in the Pence surname. He amassed several large databases of information on those with this surname, some of which are available to researchers through a web site he created and maintained (www.pipeline.com/-richardpence/>.

In addition to two books of Pence family history, he was co-author in 1985 of Computer Genealogy, the first book covering this topic. In that year, he was also editor of The Next Greatest Thing, an award-winning photo history of the first 50 years of rural electrification in the United States.

In 1982, he was among the founders of a computer interest group within the National Genealogical Society, and he received the Distinguished Service Award and an Award of Merit from the society for his pioneering work in computer genealogy. In 2002, he was among the initial inductees into the Genealogy Technology Pioneer Hall of Fame by GenTech, an organization of genealogists interested in computer applications.

Pence authored numerous how-to articles on genealogy and computers, many of which can be found on the internet, and he was a featured speaker on this topic at several national genealogy conferences. He was especially fond of speaking engagements that allowed him to relate humorous incidents both with computers and life in general.

Following service in the U.S. Navy in 1950-1951 and graduation from South Dakota State University in 1955, Pence began his journalism career with brief stints at weekly newspapers in Britton, South Dakota and Tracy, Minnesota. He then completed course work for a master’s degree in journalism from Iowa State University followed by a move to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he was a publications editor at North Carolina State University.

He began his career in the rural electrification program in 1961 as editor of The Carolina Farmer (now Carolina Country) a monthly magazine published by the statewide association of North Carolina rural electric cooperatives. In 1967 he moved to Washington, D.C. to become editor of the Rural Electric Newsletter for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

Pence received many awards for his journalistic and genealogical efforts and has authored several works, including Two Longs and a Short, a personal remembrance of growing up in a small South Dakota town. Proceeds from the sale of this book have gone to support college scholarships for Frederick, South Dakota High School graduates.

During his career with NRECA, Pence also served as editor of Rural Electrification Magazine and as head of the association’s publications department. He spent the latter part of his career at NRECA as a communications consultant specializing in assisting local electric cooperatives with pressing public and member relations problems, including threats of sell-outs. In addition to on-site assistance, he developed and conducted training sessions to guide local cooperatives in building sound public and member relations policies and programs. For the past several years he wrote a monthly column featuring historical flashbacks for RE Magazine.

Pence was active in numerous professional, cooperative and rural organizations and was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the National Food and Energy Council (Columbia, Missouri). He won the 1961 George W. Haggard Memorial Journalism Award, conferred by NRECA yearly to the editor of the statewide publication (Carolina Farmer) for presenting the most lucid, forthright and effective presentation of issues advancing the objectives of electric cooperatives.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Ellyn (Hutto) Pence, a native of Jackson, Mississippi, their three children, Todd of Fairfax, Virginia; Robert of Raleigh, North Carolina and Laura Pence Larson, son-in-law Matthew Larson of Allenspark, Colorado, and two grandchildren, Molly Bellou Larson and Calvin Pence Larson.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert Monroe Pence and Clarice Ethelyn (Stanley) Pence of Frederick, a brother, Donald and a sister, Margie Ann (Pence) Buntrock (Mrs. Ralph Buntrock).


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02 December 2009

RootsMagic Releases Free Genealogy and Family Tree Software

Editor's note: The following press release was issued by RootsMagic, Inc.

"RootsMagic Essentials" Brings Free Tools for Family History

SPRINGVILLE, Utah. — November 18, 2009 — RootsMagic, Inc. announced the immediate availability of RootsMagic Essentials, free desktop genealogy software based on their award-winning RootsMagic 4 system. RootsMagic Essentials contains many core features found in its namesake that allow the public to easily start tracing their family trees.

Essential Features for Everyone

“Many of our users have told us that they have friends and family members who are interested in getting started in family history but aren’t ready to invest in a more comprehensive package like RootsMagic,” said Bruce Buzbee, president. “RootsMagic Essentials gives them the features they need to start researching and recording their family tree at a price that can’t be beat — free!”

RootsMagic Essentials shares many of the same features with the full RootsMagic software including clean and friendly screens, the ability to add an unlimited number of people and events, pictures and media management, the SourceWizard to write your source citations for you, powerful merging and clean-up tools, dozens of reports and charts, support for international character sets, FamilySearch integration, and the ability to share data with other people and software programs. The full version of RootsMagic is available for purchase and includes
features not available in RootsMagic Essentials.

Free and Available Now

RootsMagic Essentials is available now for free at http://www.rootsmagic.com. Users of other genealogy software products will find it easy to experiment with RootsMagic Essentials using their own data. RootsMagic Essentials can directly import data from PAF, Family Tree Maker (through 2006), Family Origins, and Legacy Family Tree. It can also read and write data using the popular GEDCOM format.

"We're excited to make RootsMagic Essentials available to the community," said Michael Booth, vice-president. "Our mission is to provide 'software to unite families' and our hope is that RootsMagic Essentials will encourage more people to record their family trees and connect with their family histories."

About RootsMagic, Inc.

For over 20 years, RootsMagic, Inc. has been creating computer software with a special purpose—to unite families. One of our earliest products- the popular "Family Origins" software, introduced thousands of people to the joy and excitement of family history.

That tradition continues today with "RootsMagic", our award-winning genealogy software which makes researching, organizing, and sharing your family history fun and easy. "Personal Historian" will help you easily write and preserve your life stories. "Family Reunion Organizer" takes the headaches out of planning those important get-togethers. And "Family Atlas" creates beautiful and educational geographic maps of your family history.

For more information, visit http://www.rootsmagic.com.


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22 November 2009

NGS Research Trip to Salt Lake City, 24-31 January 2010

The National Genealogical Society is sponsoring a research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for the last week of January 2010. This is the eleventh year for this educational event, and it will be co-led by Shirley Langdon Wilcox, CG, FNGS, and Marie Varrelman Melchiori, CG, CGL.

The trip package price includes seven nights at the Salt Lake City Plaza Hotel, located next door to the Library. The Plaza is ideally located with access to the library, shopping malls and restaurants. Also included in the price are an informal reception on Sunday evening, pizza on Wednesday, and a last night dinner. Other meals are at your own expense, and airfare and personal expenses are not included. Click here to read complete details.


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21 November 2009

Online Video: Genealogists on Joys of Research

The National Genealogical Society announced the release of Paths to Your Past, a twelve-minute video documentary available online and on DVD, in which noted genealogists and family researchers tell why they are passionate about researching their family history.

Whether you have been researching your family history for a number of years or you are just beginning, membership in the National Genealogical Society has something for you, including publications, educational courses, and an annual conference. View the video online at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org at the Publications and Videos tab to learn about the benefits of membership. By discovering your family history you learn about the struggles and accomplishments of your ancestors that molded your family values and influenced who you are today.

Paths to Your Past was produced by award-winning cinematographer Allen Moore at the NGS Family History Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, in May 2009 and on location at the National Archives, the Alexandria (Virginia) Library, the Maryland Historical Society, and other research sites.

The National Genealogical Society also offers a companion publication, Paths to Your Past, which provides an overview of how to begin your family research or, for intermediate-level genealogists, a review of sources and methodology. The fifty-page soft cover book or a downloadable PDF version can be purchased online at the NGS Store (http://www.ngsgenealogy.org).

The National Genealogical Society was founded in 1903 and is the largest national organization for all family researchers, including beginner, intermediate, and professional genealogists, interested in expanding their research skills and preserving their family history for future generations.


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18 November 2009

Discounts on Airfare and Car Rental for NGS 2010 Conference

NGS has set up a special discounts for travel to the conference between 21 April and 8 May 2010 with Delta/KLM/NWA. Discount varies between 2–7% depending on the departure/arrival cities and type of fare. In addition, Thrifty Car Rental is offering 8% off the lowest rate available at time of booking for rentals in the Salt Lake area at conference time.

To see details and the discount codes for these offers, go to http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/discounts.


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16 November 2009

Announcing 2010 NGS Conference Registration Plus International Workshops

The National Genealogical Society issued the following press release on 16 November 2009. Note that seating is limited at the International Workshops, so sign up early to reserve your seat.

Follow Your Ancestral Trail

Where did your ancestors come from? Whether they came from Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, or Central or South America, there’s something for you at the National Genealogical Society’s 32nd Family History Conference, “Follow Your Ancestral Trail.” This year’s conference will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center nestled in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, from 28 April–1 May 2010. The convention center is steps from the Family History Library, the largest genealogy library in the world.

The major focus of this year’s conference will be increasing research skills in foreign countries. Featured at the conference are several International Workshops that will combine lecture and hands-on research planning and problem solving. The Hispanic Workshop will look at the establishment of settlements in La Nueva EspaƱa (what we now know as Mexico), some areas of the southern United States, and parts of Central America. Learn about migration routes of immigrants to Latin America as well as the importance and availability of Catholic Church records. The Eastern Europe Workshop will include a presentation of the changing borders of Eastern Europe. Participants will learn record keeping fundamentals in Austria, Hungary, Russia, and Prussia, what records are available, and how to build pedigrees using church records and civil registration. The Norway/Denmark Workshop will discuss the latest Norwegian and Danish genealogical collections available and explore record types from parish records to seldom used and lesser-known collections. The Italy Workshop will discuss how to find Italian records and how to read Italian civil and church records. The Swedish Workshop will be a great launching point whether you are just starting out or have been working on Swedish research for some time. The workshop will use a case study approach followed by hand-on activities.

Each International Workshop also includes prearranged lab time at the Family History Library. There is no additional fee for the workshops beyond the conference registration; however, pre-registration is required. Seating is limited, so be sure to register early.

In addition to the workshops, the international lecture track will offer talks about Irish, Italian, German, French, Polish, Swedish, Finnish, and Canadian research. Learn to research in the archives of Spain and Latin America, to solve research problems using probate records in England and Wales, or learn about Austrian Catholic church records.

Registration for the conference is now open. Registration details and the conference program can be found online at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/attendee_registration.


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14 November 2009

Laura G. Prescott Elected APG President

The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) issued the following press release on 13 November 2009.

WESTMINSTER, Colo., November 13 – Laura G. Prescott of Brookline, New Hampshire, has been elected president of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the world’s leading professional organization of family history and related professionals. Prescott is genealogist for the Nickerson Family Association and a consultant for Footnote.com. She will succeed Jake Gehring of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Prescott, reflecting on her upcoming tenure, said “I’m very excited about the next two years. We have a diverse and enthusiastic group of people on the board. This enthusiasm, coupled with the momentum from the current administration, will surely bring benefits to our members. Chapters will continue to play a vital role in reaching members and genealogists on a local level, while we try innovative ways, nationally and internationally, to educate and inform the membership, as well as aspiring genealogists. As professionals, we have a responsibility to set an example and support each other in making positive contributions to the entire genealogical community and to the profession.”

APG members also elected three members of the board’s executive committee to two-year terms, eleven of its nineteen regional directors, and two members to one-year terms on the nominating committee.

Kenyatta D. Berry of Santa Monica, California, a genealogist, entrepreneur, and lawyer with more than 12 years of experience in genealogy research and writing was elected vice president of the nearly 2,000 member organization. Andrew M. “Drew” Smith, MLS, of Odessa, Florida, president of the Florida Genealogical Society of Tampa, and co-host of the Genealogy Guys Podcast was elected secretary. Current APG treasurer, Gordon Gray of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was re-elected. He owns GrayLine Group, a genealogical/family history research business and is the president of the International Society for British Genealogy & Family History.

Eleven regional director positions will be filled by:

West Region: Suzanne Russo Adams, AG, of Utah, specialist in Italian research and employee of Ancestry.com. James Ison, AG, CG, of Utah, president of the APG Salt Lake Chapter and manager of Strategy and Planning for the Family History Library.

Midwest Region: Mary Clement Douglass, Salina, Kansas, former museum curator and co-founder of the APG Heartland Chapter. Jay Fonkert, CG, St. Paul, Minnesota, genealogical educator and writer, and president of the Minnesota Genealogical Society.

Southeast Region: Alvie L. Davidson, CG, a Florida-based Private Investigator and Circuit Court qualified expert. Craig Roberts Scott, CG, President and CEO of Heritage Books, Inc. Melanie D. Holtz, of North Carolina, specialist in Italian research.

Northeast Region: Debra Braverman, New York, national speaker and forensic genealogist who regularly testifies as an expert witness. Pamela S. Eagleson, CG, Maine, researcher, writer, and teacher focusing on New England, the mid-Atlantic, and Midwest.

International Regions: Michael Goldstein of Israel, traces roots worldwide, specializing in family reunification, heir searches, and holocaust research. Carole Riley, a professional genealogist based in Sydney, Australia with a background in computer applications.

David McDonald, CG, of Wisconsin, currently serving as a trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists and a director of the National Genealogical Society; and Donna M. Moughty, Florida, speaker and writer were elected to one-year terms on the nominations committee.

The Association of Professional Genealogists (http://www.apgen.org), established in 1979, represents nearly 2,000 genealogists, librarians, writers, editors, historians, instructors, booksellers, publishers, and others involved in genealogy-related businesses. APG encourages genealogical excellence, ethical practice, mentoring, and education. The organization also supports the preservation and accessibility of records useful to the fields of genealogy, local, and social history. Its members represent all fifty states, Canada, and thirty other countries.


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11 November 2009

2010 OGS Family History Writing Contest

Editor's Note: The helpful hints in this article are useful for anyone writing a story about their family (Click the "Read more" link below the article's beginning on the UpFront home page). While you're trying your hand, why not send in an entry to this or another genealogy writing contest? It's a great way to learn and grow, and maybe even win a prize!

Do you have a great story about your family? Any stories of struggles, immigration, or “black sheep”? That story may be a winner. Why not share it in 2500 words or less. The Oklahoma Genealogical Society’s (OGS) Family History Writing Contest provides the opportunity for researchers to share special family stories with fellow genealogists. The stories may be historically or ethnically important, humorous, or just plain interesting. Writing a family history story will preserve that precious memory and history for descendants.

There is no entry fee for the contest, and membership in OGS is not required although dues are a low $20 per calendar year for an individual or $25 for family memberships at the same address. Meetings are held the first Monday of each month at the Oklahoma History Center, with a speaker on some area of interest to genealogists. Members receive the OGS Quarterly and are invited to submit free queries as well as receiving a discount on workshops, seminars and other events.

Here are some helpful hints for both beginners and the experienced writer.
  • Focus on one event. Write your story from beginning to end without stopping to edit or re-write. Then when you have told the story, go back and clean up the grammar and cut unnecessary words if the story is too long.
  • Even very short stories must have a beginning, middle and an ending. Your family history story should, too.
  • Start with the action – grab your reader by the throat and don’t let go. You need to catch your reader’s interest in the opening sentence.
  • Give the reader a sense of place from the beginning of your story. Where and when is this event happening? What else was going on in the rest of the world that may have influenced your family’s actions?
  • In your editing phase, spell out abbreviations, use complete sentences, watch your grammar and avoid hyphenation. Break the story into paragraphs to make it easier to read. You might ask someone who is good in English to proofread your story before submitting it.
  • Sources are important. Collect any resources you can find to document the story facts such as family Bible, census record, land record, birth and death certificates, photographs, etc. Enter the sources as footnotes or endnotes and attach copies (not originals) of the documentation.
  • Be sure the entry form is attached to your entry and includes: Title of manuscript, whether entering the adult or student category, estimated word count, author’s name and complete mailing address. You should also include your phone number and email address in case the contest chair needs to contact you about a problem with your entry. The entry form is removed before your manuscript is delivered to the judges.
  • Entering the contest acknowledges you give permission for your story to be published, and that information and photos concerning the winners may be published in local media.
Eligibility:

All family historians and genealogists, except OGS Board members, are invited to submit their favorite story for the contest. There is no entry fee and membership in OGS is not required.

There will be two divisions: Adult and Student. If enough entries are received, the student category will be divided into elementary and high school divisions.

For full details and a downloadable entry form, visit the Oklahoma Genealogical Society’s web site at http://www.okgensoc.org/.


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10 November 2009

Georgia historic newspapers available online at Digital Library of Georgia


The Digital Library of Georgia is pleased to announce the free online availability of three historic Georgia newspapers: the Macon Telegraph Archive, the Columbus Enquirer Archive, and the Milledgeville Historic Newspapers Archive. Each extensive archive provides historic newspaper page images that are both full-text searchable and can be browsed by date. Zooming and printing capabilities are provided for each page image (via a DjVu browser plug-in).

The Macon Telegraph Archive (http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/telegraph) offers online access to weekly, daily, and semi-weekly issues under various titles spanning the years 1826 through 1908, and includes over 51,000 page images.

The Columbus Enquirer Archive (http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/enquirer) provides online access to weekly, daily and tri-weekly issues under various titles spanning the years 1828 through 1890. The archive includes more than 32,000 page images.

The Milledgeville Historic Newspapers Archive (http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/milledgeville) offers online access to eleven historic newspaper titles spanning the years 1808 through 1920 (including the Civil War years when Milledgeville was the state capitol). The archive includes over 49,000 page images.

Additional newspaper digitization projects are currently underway and will be announced as they become available online at the Digital Library of Georgia. Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia is an initiative of GALILEO, the state's virtual library.

The Columbus Enquirer Archive, Columbus Enquirer Archive, and Milledgeville Historic Newspapers Archive are projects of the Digital Library of Georgia as part of the Georgia HomePLACE initiative. The projects are supported with federal LSTA funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Georgia Public Library Service, a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.

For more information, please contact us at http://www.galileo.usg.edu/contact/.


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National Genealogical Society Seeks Nominations for the 2010 Genealogy Hall of Fame

Would your society like to honor a genealogist whose exemplary work lives on today? Perhaps there was a notable genealogist in your state or county whose name should be memorialized in the NGS Hall of Fame.

If so, the National Genealogical Society would like to hear from you. NGS is seeking nominations from the entire genealogical community for persons whose achievements or contributions have made an impact on the field. This educational program increases appreciation of the high standards advocated and achieved by committed genealogists whose work paved the way for researchers today.

Since 1986 when Donald Lines Jacobus became the first genealogist elected to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame, twenty-four outstanding genealogists have been recognized for their contributions. The 2010 honoree will join this select group of distinguished members. This year’s selection, and the society that honored the nominee, will be feted at the 2010 NGS Conference in the States to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, 28 April -1 May 2010.

Nominations for election to the Hall of Fame are made by genealogical societies and historical societies throughout the United States.

Guidelines for nominations:

  • A nominee must have been actively engaged in genealogy in the United States for at least ten years, must have been deceased for at least five years at the time of nomination, and must have made contributions to the field of genealogy judged to be of lasting significance in ways that were unique, pioneering, or exemplary.
  • The National Genealogy Hall of Fame is an educational project in which the entire genealogical community is invited to participate. Affiliation with the National Genealogical Society is not required.
  • The National Genealogy Hall of Fame Committee elects one person to the Hall of Fame annually. Those elected are permanently commemorated in the Hall of Fame at Society headquarters, Arlington, Virginia.
  • Nominations for election to the Hall of Fame are due by 31 January each year. Official nomination forms are available from our website, www.ngsgenealogy.org, Awards & Competitions, or by contacting the National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22204-4304; phone 1-800-473-0060.
Honored Members of the National Genealogy Hall of Fame
  • 1986 Donald Lines Jacobus (1887-1970)
  • 1987 Walter Goodwin Davis (1885-1966)
  • 1988 Gilbert Cope (1840-1928)
  • 1989 John Farmer (1789-1838)
  • 1990 George A. Moriarty Jr. (1883-1968)
  • 1991 Lucy Mary Kellogg (1899-1973)
  • 1992 Meredith B. Colket Jr. (1912-1985)
  • 1993 Henry Fitz Gilbert Waters (1833-1913)
  • 1994 Archibald Fowler Bennett (1896-1965)
  • 1995 Joseph Lemuel Chester (1821-1882)
  • 1996 George Ernest Bowman (1860-1941)
  • 1997 John Insley Coddington (1902-1991)
  • 1998 Jean Stephenson (1892-1979)
  • 1999 James Dent Walker (1928-1993)
  • 2000 Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern (1915-1994)
  • 2001 Richard Stephen Lackey (1941-1983)
  • 2002 Hannah Benner Roach (1907-1976)
  • 2003 Milton Rubincam (1909-1997)
  • 2004 Herbert Furman Seversmith (1904-1967)
  • 2005 Mary Lovering Holman (1868-1947)
  • 2006 Dr. Kenn Stryker-Rodda (1903-1990)
  • 2007 Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr. (1911-2000)
  • 2008 Lowell M. Volkel (1936-1992)
  • 2009 Willard Heiss (1921-1988)


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09 November 2009

National Archives Tweets

The following is a press release from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Washington, DC…The National Archives has signed on to Twitter! Check for all the latest Archives news and upcoming events ((http://twitter.com/archivesnews/). New tweets will alert the public to exciting programs taking place at the National Archives in the Washington, DC, headquarters building and around the country at the 13 presidential libraries and 14 regional facilities. Learn about the National Archives connection to Elvis Presley's military hair cut and his famous visit to meet President Nixon. Be reminded of anniversaries of famous treaties, documents, and national events. Find out news about major projects happening at the Archives by following our tweets.

Visit the National Archives other social media sites. Check out our three Facebook pages for news and events, research, and the Federal Register at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nationwide/US-National-Archives/128463482993, our YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/USNationalArchives, and our Flickr photostream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usnationalarchives. For more information about the National Archives, visit our web site (http://www.archives.gov/).


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08 November 2009

David Ferriero Confirmed as 10th Archivist of the U.S.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued the following press release on 6 November 2009:

David Ferriero Confirmed by U.S. Senate as 10th Archivist of the United States

Washington, DC. . . Today, the United States Senate voted to confirm David Ferriero as the 10th Archivist of the United States. Mr. Ferriero was the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries and is a leader in the field of library science. Mr. Ferriero, who was nominated by President Obama on July 28, 2009, will succeed Professor Allen Weinstein who resigned as Archivist in December 2008 for health reasons. Deputy Archivist Adrienne Thomas is serving as the Acting Archivist until Mr. Ferriero assumes his duties.

As the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries (NYPL), Mr. Ferriero was part of the leadership team responsible for integrating the four research libraries and 87 branch libraries into one seamless service for users, creating the largest public library system
in the United States and one of the largest research libraries in the world. Mr. Ferriero was in charge of collection strategy; conservation; digital experience; reference and research services; and education, programming, and exhibitions.

Among his responsibilities at the NYPL was the development of the library's digital strategy, which currently encompasses partnerships with Google and Microsoft, a web site that reaches more than 25 million unique users annually, and a digital library of more than 750,000 images
that may be accessed free of charge by any user around the world.

Before joining the NYPL in 2004, Mr. Ferriero served in top positions at two of the nation's major academic libraries, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, and Duke University in Durham, NC. In those positions, he led major initiatives including the
expansion of facilities, the adoption of digital technologies, and a reengineering of printing and publications.

Mr. Ferriero earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature from Northeastern University in Boston and a master's degree from the Simmons College of Library and Information Science, also in Boston. After serving in the Navy during the Vietnam War, he started in the humanities library at MIT, where he worked for 31 years, rising to associate director for public services and acting co-director of libraries.

In 1996, Mr. Ferriero moved to Duke University, where he served as University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs until 2004. At Duke, he raised more than $50 million to expand and renovate the university's library and was responsible for instructional technology initiatives, including overseeing Duke's Center for Instructional Technology.

As Archivist of the United States, Mr. Ferriero will oversee the National Archives and Records Administration, an independent Federal agency created by statute in 1934. The National Archives safeguards and preserves the records of the U.S. Government, ensuring that the people
can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to records that document the rights of American citizens, the actions of federal officials, and the national experience.

Its 44 facilities include the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, the National Archives at College Park, 13 Presidential libraries, and 14 regional archives nationwide. The National Archives also publishes the Federal Register, administers the Information Security Oversight Office, the Office of Government Information Services, makes grants of historical documentation through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Among the National Archives' approximately 9 billion pages of materials that are open to the public for research nationwide are millions of photographs, maps, and documents, thousands of motion pictures and audio recordings, and millions of electronic records. Every subject relating
to American history is covered in the records of the National Archives: Revolutionary War pension files, landmark Supreme Court cases, international treaties, legislative records, executive orders, public laws, records relating to all U.S. Presidents and the papers of Presidents Hoover through George W. Bush.


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02 November 2009

2010 NGS Family History Conference-Registration is Open!

Mark your Calendar for the 2010 Family History Conference, “Follow Your Ancestral Trail”, which will be held 28 April—1 May 2010, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Whether your family helped settle the nation, migrated across the country, stayed in the same place, or recently arrived in America, this conference has much to offer. A few examples of the Family History Conference’s diverse program offerings include the International Workshops which will focus on researching the cultural records of other countries through lectures, research, and problem solving; the Evening Celebration of Family History, which will incorporate a multimedia tribute to family history, a special guest speaker, and a mini-concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; and Ask An Expert, where the Utah Genealogical Association will sponsor twenty minute family history consultations to registered attendees.

Registration for the 2010 NGS Family History Conference to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, is now open. View the online conference program at http://members.ngsgenealogy.org/Conferences/2010Program.cfm or download a PDF version. For more information visit http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/conference_info

REGISTER TODAY If you have trouble logging on or registering, please e-mail Erin Wood at registration@ngsgenealogy.org or call her at (703) 525-0050 ext. 112.
To receive a conference brochure, please email Erin Wood.
Questions? Call (703) 525-0050 ext 221, or email Gayathri Kher


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29 October 2009

Footnote.com to Digitize Entire U.S. Census

Editor's note: The following detail was posted today on the Footnote.com blog.

Today Footnote.com announced it will digitize and create a searchable database for all publicly available U.S. Federal Censuses, ranging from the first U.S. Census taken in 1790 to the most current public census from 1930. Through its partnership with the National Archives, Footnote.com will add more than 9.5 million images featuring over half a billion names to its extensive online record collection.

With over 60 million historical records already online, Footnote.com will use the U.S. Census records to tie content together, creating a pathway to discover additional records that previously have been difficult to find.

“We see the census as a highway leading back to the 18th century,” explains Russ Wilding, CEO of Footnote.com. “This Census Highway provides off-ramps leading to additional records on the site such as naturalization records, historical newspapers, military records and more. Going forward, Footnote.com will continue to ad valuable and unique collections that will enhance the census collection.”

As more census decades are added to the site, visitors to Footnote.com can view the status for each decade and sign up for an email notification when more records are added to the site for a particular year.

View the Census Progress Page on Footnote.com.

In addition to making these records more accessible, Footnote.com is advancing the way people use the census by creating an interactive experience. Footnote members can enrich the census records by adding their own contributions. Users can:
  • Add comments and insights about a person
  • Upload and attach scanned photos or documents related to that person
  • Generate a Footnote Page for any individual that features stories, a photo gallery, timeline and map
  • Identify relatives found in the census by clicking the I’m Related button
“We will continue to move aggressively to add records to the site, specifically those that are requested by our members and others that are not otherwise available on the internet,” said Wilding.


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27 October 2009

Avoid Disappointment: Call Ahead!


On a trip to Greene County, Indiana, in early October, NGS President Jan Alpert went to the county health department in search of a death certificate for an ancestor. She reports, "I arrived about 3:00 p.m. and was told I would be the last person to have access to the records until next year. Why? The county was preparing for H1N1 flu shots, and they needed the space normally used for genealogists requesting death certificates to administer flu shots. The records were being boxed up - until further notice. So, if you have a research trip planned, call ahead to make sure the vital records will be available."


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Historical Atlas of the American West


A new book entitled Historical Atlas of the American West with Original Maps by Derek Hayes is available from the University of California Press. The website describes the book as follows:
Spectacular in scope and visually brilliant, this atlas presents a sweeping history of the American West through more than 600 original, full-color maps and extended captions. From the earliest human inhabitants and the first European explorers to the national parks and retirement resorts of today, this extensive collection chronicles the West from uncharted territory to a well-populated Eden. We bear witness as state lines strike through Native American territories, see the frontier crack open and the railroad's iron belt snake across the Plains, and watch as the West's cities, from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Albuquerque to Anchorage, rise and prosper. This is the first atlas to compile all the historically significant maps relating to the American West; it includes field sketches of battles, the first maps to show the West, maps depicting mythical rivers and fictional towns, and maps showing early conceptions of California as an island. Distilling many centuries into one fascinating volume, this atlas traces history as redwoods, mountains, and deserts become California, Montana, and Arizona, and offers a rare opportunity to see the west through the eyes of its earliest explorers.

The book is 288 pages long and 10 x 13-9/16 inches. Containing 606 maps and 90 color illustrations, it is priced at $39.95 at the University of California Press website at http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/11187.php.


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26 October 2009

Following on NARA Proposed Changes

Editor's note: This article responds to NARA Press Release dated October 22, 2009, which followed an October 20 article in UpFront with NGS. Marie Varrelman Melchiori, CG, CGL, Coordinator of the Archives 1 User's Group, offered the following explanations.

I would like to compare the statements of the A-1 User’s Group and the NARA press release:
A-1 User’s Group
The Microfilm Reading Room will be moved to a drastically smaller space (the current Finding Aids Room) with significantly fewer microfilm readers. We recognize that the number of researchers using the microfilm area has diminished over the past few years, but there is still a demand to use microfilm. We suggest a room containing at least 30 readers, which would be approximately half the current number.

NARA responded with:
Are you eliminating the Microfilm Reading Room?
No. Over the last few years use of our microfilm holdings has decreased by 70%. In fiscal year 2000 we had 53,000 microfilm researcher visits; in fiscal year 2009 we had 16,000 microfilm research visits. When our microfilm reading room was first designed and built we estimated the need for 100 microfilm readers. Because of digitization and other factors, there no longer is the need for so many microfilm readers. So we are considering reducing the number of microfilm machines to 30 and increasing the number of public access computers to meet the demand for the old and the new technology. We will maintain the number of microfilm machines at a level that is needed by those researchers who continue to have the need for microfilm.

My comment: The User’s Group never suggested that the microfilm reading room was to be eliminated. We agreed that the numbers are down, but we would like to see at least 30 readers.

A-1 User’s Group:
Direct researcher access to microfilm collections will be eliminated and replaced with a "pull on demand" system. We believe it is unworkable, and result in much wasted researcher time by requiring researchers to request individual rolls of microfilm, then wait for a staff member to retrieve it from a stack area deep within the building. No one has been able to tell us where the microfilm will be stored or how long it will take to retrieve it.

NARA responded with:
Are you eliminating self-service microfilm?
No. For the convenience of both researchers and staff, the National Archives maintains a policy of allowing researchers to browse our microfilm cabinets and select their own microfilm. We will continue with this policy as long as research demand warrants it. We may, however, relocate the microfilm to another public area adjacent to the microfilm reading room.

My comment: This was one of the suggestions that the User’s Group found totally unacceptable. NARA’s response [“We will continue with this policy as long as research demand warrants it. We may, however, relocate the microfilm to another public area adjacent to the microfilm reading room”] gives them the opportunity to change their minds at any time. No criteria have been set to indicate what is meant by “as long as research demand warrants it.” Knowing the location of the microfilm now and the areas surrounding the Consultant’s Office, there is little space to put the film. Since this was a move that was imminent (I overheard the NARA staff members looking at the area in the library.), I would assume the area would have already been chosen.

If you look at the map [in the original article], the microfilm is now located in the two hallways, and along two sides of the existing microfilm reading room. This is not re-locating a couple of hundred rolls of film.

A-1 User’s Group:
The Lecture Room will be eliminated. No one has been able to tell us where a new Lecture Room would be. This room is used frequently for NARA public programs (genealogy lectures, etc.) as well as internal NARA meetings.

NARA responded with:
Are you eliminating the Lecture Room?
No. Our current lecture room on the ground floor (G-24) is used daily for programs such as our very popular “Know Your Records” seminars. Any renovation of the ground floor research area will include a lecture room so our researchers, visitors, and NARA staff can continue to use it for critical outreach and other activities.

My comment: We said, “ No one has been able to tell us where a New Lecture Room would be.” Again, with a move imminent, the assumption is that the new space would already be designated.

A-1 User’s Group:
The Finding Aids Room (Consultants' Office) is to be moved from its current room, which provides adequate space for staff, researchers, and necessary finding aids to textual (unfilmed) records, to a small open area in the library which will not provide adequate working space or privacy.

NARA responded with:
Are you reducing the size of the Finding Aids/Consultation Room?
No. Current plans would more than double that space.
The current room on the ground floor of the National Archives Building (Room G-28) serves as the finding aids room, the consultation area, and as office space for three staff members. The area available in this space for consultation with the public is approximately 450 square feet and has three consultation tables. We are proposing to move the consultation area from G-28 to the adjacent area which is currently the National Archives Library, G-30. We will use approximately 1100 square feet of what is now Library space for this consultation area. The space will have eight tables for consultation. So, we will more than double the area and number of tables for researchers to consult with staff and use the finding aids. The three staff members who currently have their workspace in G-28 will have new workstations adjacent to the research room that they can use to do other work when they are not providing direct consultation service. This plan is based on the successful model that has been in place for several years for consultants at Archives II in College Park.

My comment: While it would be nice to have the additional space, there is no indication that this will be a dedicated space. One of the “plus” points mentioned was that, “if the consultant’s area was full, you could move to any other table in the library.” I wonder how a library user would like to have a consultation taking place right next to them? The current Finding Aids/Consultant’s office has 3 distinct areas. One for military, one for Navy, and one for Civil.

The statement, “This plan is based on the successful model that has been in place for several years for consultants at Archives II in College Park,” leads the reader to believe that the Consultants meet in the A-2 Library. While it is a very successful model, it is NOT in the 3rd floor library, Room 3000, but in a glass enclosed area in the 2nd Floor Textual Research Area. This dedicated room contains all the finding aids as well as real live Archivists. It is not tables in an open library. We want a dedicated room for the Archivists and the finding aids at Archives -I. If this is what NARA intends, a glass enclosed, dedicated room, I’m sure the A-1 User’s Group would back it wholeheartedly.

A-1 User’s Group:
The Orientation and Registration area would be eliminated. This is currently used for researcher registration, to issue researcher identification cards, and for researcher consultations with staff members and volunteers, and for researcher access to computers. No one has been able to tell us where these functions would be moved.
NARA responded with:
What are you doing with the Orientation and Registration Area?
While we may eventually re-locate those areas physically, we have no immediate plans to do so. We of course would not eliminate this critical function, and will ensure it is located appropriately.

My comment: Again, we stated, “No one has been able to tell us where these functions would be moved.” We realize these are important to NARA functions and cannot be eliminated.

NARA responded with:
These changes to the National Archives Building should improve the services we provide to researchers. No functions or services are being eliminated or reduced.

To ensure that the changes meet the needs of researchers, we intend to continue to have our quarterly meetings with our Archives I user group to keep users informed and solicit their comments.

My personal response:
We obtained the information that generated our letter from the 16 October A-1 User's Group meeting. It was not erroneous. Minutes going back to 23 June 2008 mention the reduction of the microfilm reading room and film being “pull on demand." At that time it was acknowledged that those plans have been discussed, “however, NARA does not have the funds for the renovations at this time.” I assume the 5-phase plan allows NARA to move the consultant’s office and the microfilm reading room without a budget item. I have heard that the rest of the renovation is in the 2011 NARA budget.

If NARA intends the self-pull microfilm and a dedicated Consultants/Finding Aids room, I would support their plan. I am happy to hear that NARA will continue to meet with the Archives-1 User’s Group. We are available to meet with NARA staff whenever necessary.

Sincerely,
Marie Varrelman Melchiori, CG, CGL
Melchiori Research Services, L.L.C.


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