30 September 2013

What Did My Ancestor Look Like?

Freedmen's Bureau Confidential File for US Colored Troops
We often ask this question.  In this age of ever present cameras (either actual cameras, cell phones, Ipads, etc), many born now find images of themselves and others ubiquitous!

It’s hard for some to realize that photographs were a rarity until say the 1900s or so and even then most families didn’t have a camera and it required a trip to a photo studio. Even drivers licenses didn’t have pictures, nor school ID cards. Do read about the History of Photography.

I was fortunate that my dad was into cameras (still and movie in the 1950s and 1960s) and so he probably played around a bit more than an average person taking photos and videos.  By the 1970s, I had my own cameras – I can’t remember the first one I got and it had a heft to it that I do still remember and my first pictures (taken in England) are still a part of my collection (though they weren’t very good). Though, for future generations, there won't be any questions about what we looked like!

That said, since we often won’t find pictures of our ancestors, this article on The Ancestor Hunt (Kenneth R Marks) was a fun read, What Did Your Ancestor Look Like? 5 Ways to Find Physical Characteristics.

Besides the 5 Ways listed in the article, some of the comments mentioned other sources for physical descriptions:
·    prison records
·    passenger lists

I would also add to the list:
·    early drivers licenses (history of NY ones)
·    civil war documentation (Pensions, Freedmen’s Bureau – USCT Confidential files, etc)
·    newspaper articles about missing soldiers, runaway slaves & wives, etc

And, even if photos were taken and are now in our possession, they weren’t always labeled.  I have a few of individuals that I would love to identify.  It’s kind of funny, and I have used some of the documents listed above to then identify some of my mystery people in photographs!  A good description is always valuable!


Where else have you found descriptions of the physical characteristics of your ancestors?






~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to learn more about interacting with the blog, please read Hyperlinks, Subscribing and Comments -- How to Interact with Upfront with NGS Blog posts!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com


Read more

27 September 2013

Upfront Mini Bytes – Digital State Resources, MD Archives, NYC Building Ages, Archaic Medical Terms, Canadian Census, and more ...

Welcome to our newest edition of our bi-weekly feature Upfront Mini Bytes.  In Upfront Mini Bytes we provide eight tasty bits of genealogy news that will help give you a deeper byte into your family history research. Each item is short and sweet.  We encourage you to check out the links to articles, blog posts, resources, and anything genealogical!

We hope you found the past editions helpful.  Use your favorite search engine with “Upfront with NGS” “Mini Bytes” or use this Google search link.

Do you have questions, suggestions for future posts, or comments?  Please post a comment or send an e-mail to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If you like doing research in your jammies, check out (from the Library of Congress) 71 Digital Portals to State History. Do check out the comments posted as there is a lot more neat content listed in them!
                                                                                              
Maryland State Archives launches new guide to special collections is a web-based tool to search and browse special collections of map, photographic, newspaper, private, business, and religious records.

Knowing when a building was built helps give you context for a locale at the time your ancestors lived there.  This has just gotten easier for NYC with a map published online at bdon.org and discussed on Gizmodo in The Exact Age of Almost Every Building in NYC, in One Map.

Sometimes we look at a death certificate or death notice and just scratch our heads.  What exactly did great-grandpa die of?  The next time this happens, check out Rudy's List of Archaic Medical Terms.

Many genealogists and family historians now have blogs.  A big challenge is finding out-of-copyright or free-to-use images to illustrate such blogs.  Check out Harvard Law School’s Finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Images.

Are there Canadian ancestors in your family tree?  If so, the Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) now provides one-stop access to almost 100 years of census records covering 1825-1916.

Did you know that there is a map that shows where America came from: Fascinating illustration shows the ancestry of EVERY county in the US published by the Daily Mail (UK). It’s an interesting snapshot of how, in 2000, the nation identified its heritage.

There is an interesting and new online digital archive, Lantern: Search, Visualize & Explore the Media History Digital Library. It provides a search and visualization platform for over 800,000 pages of digitized books and magazines from the histories of film, broadcasting, and recorded sound. It’s an open access co-production of the Media History Digital Library and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Communication Arts. If you have any performers in your family, they maybe documented here!





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to learn more about interacting with the blog, please read Hyperlinks, Subscribing and Comments -- How to Interact with Upfront with NGS Blog posts!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com


Read more

26 September 2013

Do You Have an Artificial Brick Wall?

Used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License

This is the title of a post by Robyn on Reclaiming Kin. 

We talk a lot about breaking down brick walls!  Most, if not all of us, have at one time or another run into something we considered a “brick wall.”

And, Robyn makes us consider ...

My friend Aaron calls them artificial. They can also be called self-imposed brick walls. We say this to mean we have labeled something a brick wall that really isn’t a brick wall. We call them that even though we haven’t done our due diligence in terms of careful research.

Is this true for you?  Did you maybe give up sooner than you needed to?  We have probably all done this at one time or another.  How often have you been stumped by something, put it aside for a few weeks, months, or years and then come back to it to find that the “proverbial” light bulb goes off and you’ve either solved your “brick wall” with information you had in your possession or you now have a whole bunch of new research ideas to explore.

Or, how often have you just persevered, researched more, learned more and then a “new-to-you” resource provides the answer?

What “artificial” brick walls have you constructed as a part of your genealogical journey?

How did you deconstruct that “artificial” brick wall(s)?

Some other recent perspectives on genealogy and brick walls can be found:
·    New Thoughts on “Brick Walls” by Russ Worthington
·    Smashing Brick Wills by Diane L Richard (Upfront with NGS) 




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to learn more about interacting with the blog, please read Hyperlinks, Subscribing and Comments -- How to Interact with Upfront with NGS Blog posts!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com


Read more

25 September 2013

JSTOR introduces JPASS -- it's now even easier for genealogists to access this treasure trove!


JSTOR just keeps getting better and better for researchers. It’s doing this by becoming more and more accessible!  Previously one had to be associated with a University or other institution which held a subscription to gain access.  Over the last few years, great strides have been made to provide access to the general population (see previous articles listed below for more on these efforts).

Now, JSTOR has announced JPASS – monthly & annual individual access plans for independent researchers, recent graduates, professionals, and lifelong learners. JPASS gives you personal access to a library of more than 1,500 academic journals on JSTOR. The subscription details can be found here.


It represents a large portion of what is in the JSTOR library (approximately 83%), but not all of it.  You can learn about what’s currently included in JPASS here. Content not in the JPASS Collection includes books, primary sources, current journal issues, and, in some cases, journal archives. If you encounter inaccessible content, it may be available for limited free reading, for purchase as an individual article, or available through an interlibrary loan from a JSTOR participating library.

A lot of journal content of interest to genealogists and family historians can be found on JSTOR. Read these previous Upfront with NGS posts on this topic for some examples:


Have you tried out the new JPASS?  What do you think?

Have you tried out the Early Journal Content option, or Register & Read?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to learn more about interacting with the blog, please read Hyperlinks, Subscribing and Comments -- How to Interact with Upfront with NGS Blog posts!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com


Read more

24 September 2013

Using Google Search for Different Countries -- a Neat Genealogical Research Tool!

Created using Wordle, http://www.wordle.net/create

Though there are many search engines out there, I still like to use Google Search.  Part of the reason is that I do like to get “results” that are not in English and are not on “traditional” genealogy websites.

And, periodically, I will get results in a language other than English and using Google Translate in conjunction, I can typically get the “jist” of the information to be found on such a non English page.

I have now learned via Genealogy in Time’s post “A Country Guide to Google Search Engines” that I can actually search on country-specific search engines.

This was kind of a “duh” moment for me.  Given that in the last year I have traveled to Canada, Mexico and Spain and inadvertently ended up on the Google version available in each of those countries, you think that I would have made the “connection” that I could force my browser to mimic that experience. Page 3 of the aforementioned article includes a list of those countries for which there is a Google Search Engine and also those countries/languages for which Google has translation capabilities.

Here I was so proud of myself in that I was “seeing” non-English results and translating them and, as they say, that is only the “tip of the iceburg” as far as really delving into that information that might be available to myself and other researchers via country-specific internet searches.

Though I did have to laugh that even on Google.pl (the Polish version of Google) when I searched on “Wola Pietrusza” + Barna, I ended up on my own website and family research. That said, when I searched on Google.fi (the Finnish version of Google) for Kujanpää + Ylistaro, I did see some of my own research again and this time though, there were many more pages which clearly are about members of the same Kujanpää family as researched by native Finns!

Have you used non-US Google Search engines?

Did you make a neat discovery?



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to learn more about interacting with the blog, please read Hyperlinks, Subscribing and Comments -- How to Interact with Upfront with NGS Blog posts!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com



Read more

23 September 2013

Do you know the history of the church(es) your ancestors belonged to?

Image which accompanied referenced article
http://www.news-journal.com/features/religion/many-prominent-longview-churches-part-of-first-baptist-church-family/image_59bddd96-b3d2-58ba-b21a-98ba3db9f936.html


Did you know that like people, churches often have “family trees” also?

I was reminded of this when I read, Many prominent Longview churches part of First Baptist Church family tree.  Some congregations are formed from scratch while others evolved as populations grew, while still others disappeared as the population shifted (population movement, change in the dominant religions of the area, etc), or conflicts in religious tenets spurred some new congregations which then  subsequently (often decades later) re-joined, etc.

Some churches are long lived while others are not so.

Just as we research state, county and town/city formations, we also need to be aware of church history and how the presence of congregations has changed through time in the community we are researching.  And, as reinforced by the article about Longview Baptist churches, it’s important to know what congregations were possibly formed from a parent church.

For example, you are researching a family where the parents have lived for decades in a certain community.  You find that they are buried in the cemetery of a church that was “created” 10 years earlier.  Unless they joined the “faith” late in life (which is possible), odds are that they were members of another church.  Sometimes, individuals do change faiths (my gran in England seemed to join a church of a different faith each time she moved – what was most important to her were the preachers and how well she identified with them), though more people probably stick with “one” faith.

Was the church where they were buried “created” from some parishioners of an “older” church? 

Why is this important?  Just as with government records, in many cases the records will be associated with the “entity” which created them.  Records of baptisms, marriages, deaths, and more will be with the church where these events were recorded in real-time.  Yes, these records might be in an ecclesiastical archive somewhere and again, you still need to know “which” records to look at.

So, if you find that a church your ancestor was associated with was not as old as your ancestor, try and learn its history.  This history might suggest other churches with which your ancestor might have been associated.  This might then lead you to some neat records.  Knowing the religion of a person and then the history of the churches (of that faith) in an area has allowed me to work backwards through the person’s life in parallel with corresponding church records found in the predecessor churches they were associated with.  And, if you are really lucky, there might also be a mention of “where” they came from and when or of family members.



Have you successfully used the history of a church to identify predecessor churches relevant to your research?

Are there other family trees of churches that have been created and will be helpful to researchers?





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to learn more about interacting with the blog, please read Hyperlinks, Subscribing and Comments -- How to Interact with Upfront with NGS Blog posts!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com


Read more

20 September 2013

Colorizing Photoshoppers Put a New Spin on Old Historical Photos



Photos are always fun and sometimes provocative!


...There’s an awesome little subreddit that has been getting a lot of press coverage as of late. It’s called ColorizedHistory, and is a 20,000+ person strong community of “Amateur Historians” who are interested in the idea of creating high quality colorized versions of historical black-and-white photographs...

The images are fascinating.

I’m not sure what I think of this.  It’s funny to say that I associate black-and-white and sepia colored images and hand-colored images as indicative of the “age” of an image.  For example, I expect all civil war images to be black-and-white.  Even in the early 1900s, the images taken of my family are all black-and-white with a hand-colored image here and there.

Yet, if I really think about it, my descendants will only see all the “color” photos that I have taken.  Might future photos be different?  Maybe “move” as depicted in the Harry Potter book series?

It’s also interesting that many of the black-and-white images seem grittier to me than their newly colored counterparts?  Is that just my familiarity with some of the images (and so they look “wrong” to me when colorized) or is there something else going on?  Well, we are genealogists and not psychologists and so I’ll put that aside for now ...

What do you think about colorized versions of historical black-and-white images?  Thumbs up, thumbs down, not sure?




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to learn more about interacting with the blog, please read Hyperlinks, Subscribing and Comments -- How to Interact with Upfront with NGS Blog posts!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com


Read more

19 September 2013

Signatures -- is it the same person?

SC, 1807One of two signatures for an individual with the exact same name
Copyright 2013, Diane L Richard

MS, 1824
Second of two signatures for an individual with the exact same name
Same person or not?
Copyright 2013, Diane L Richard


Given that some families loved to use the same names generation to generation and across generations (e.g. it seems that every cousin, uncle and great-uncle has the same name), how do we tell them apart?  Do recognize that even for names that seem highly unique (e.g. Hezekiah Farrow) and/or where a middle initial is used (e.g. Wm S McKoy), there can and often is more than one person with that name.  It wasn’t just the Smiths and Jones who liked to use a common forename surname combination in their family tree!

Sometimes we can connect them definitively to wives and children through records or to land via other records or to in-laws and associates through yet other documents and sometimes we just cannot seem to make those linkages through documents.

What else can we do?  It might be time to look at their signatures.  Remember, that though many documents were written by others, our ancestors did sign them.  Sometimes that signature was a an “X,” sometimes it was a “mark” and sometimes it was a “signature” (as we think of today, first and last name).  Be very, very careful to determine whether you are looking at a copy of a document or an original document (e.g. a will book versus an original will, a deed book versus an original deed, court minutes versus loose court papers, etc).  Otherwise, the signature that you “save” may be that of the court clerk and not of your ancestor.

Know, for your area and time period, which types of documents were typically “signed” by a person.  Some examples include:
  1. One’s will or as witness to the will of another
  2. Administrator or executor of an estate
  3. Bonds – estate-related, marriage, court (e.g. appearance), etc
  4. Land grants (e.g. in NC, Granville grants bear original signatures of the grantee)
  5. Original deeds
  6. Petitions
  7. etc

Collect as many signatures as possible through time.  Remember, that our signatures don’t remain the same.  And, as a person was dying, they may have “signed” with a signature their whole life and just use an “X” on their will as they are too enfeebled.

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell – see the McCoy/McKoy signatures pictured above – the same or different?  My colleagues and I think they are “different” though the differences except for the C/K change (most people don’t change “how” they spell their name and can we guarantee they didn’t?) are subtle – the curve of a letter, the use of tails or not, loops, and more ...

Read the following for more about this topic:

                                                                                     
Have you used signatures to separate out like-named individuals?

What are other 19th and earlier century sources for original signatures?

What resources on this topic have you found particularly helpful?






~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to learn more about interacting with the blog, please read Hyperlinks, Subscribing and Comments -- How to Interact with Upfront with NGS Blog posts!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com


Read more

18 September 2013

The Customer Experience – Why It Matters in Genealogy -- Guest Blogger, Thomas MacEntee


 

by guest blogger, Thomas MacEntee

The genealogy industry has traditionally been a somewhat “sleepy” trade. However that industry is on the verge of explosive growth thanks to the Internet, social media and national television exposure via Who Do You Think You Are? and Genealogy Roadshow. While some may bemoan the changes and the need to monitor many different points of entry to the genealogy market, others are scaling their resources to take advantage of the newcomers and addressing their needs.

The days of genealogy societies and businesses acting as if they were run out of a church basement, a kitchen table or as a weekly neighborhood coffee klatch no longer serve the needs of today’s genealogy enthusiasts. Yet, this doesn’t mean these groups have to “go corporate” and lose that sense of small town approachability. The smart use of modern tools with an old-fashioned approach to customer service can be a formula for success.

Customer Service Meets Social Media

Savvy organizations are using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for their customer service needs. Yes, there are risks in handling inquiries in such a public manner and from time to time you will encounter an irate customer who just can’t be satisfied. But for many companies and membership groups, the transparency that customer service via social media provides and the goodwill that it builds is worth not just the risk, but the tasks involved with handling customer service inquiries online. 

Here are some tips:
·       Manage expectations. If your organization can’t field requests on weekends or after hours, make sure this is clear both on your website and on your social media platforms. Most people don’t expect an immediate response but they usually hope to hear back within 24 hours. A fast response time is always impressive, but don’t let those quick responses set the bar for unrealistic expectations.
·       Check platforms frequently or set up alerts. Make sure you check your business or organization’s Facebook page and other social media platforms at least once a day. Nothing says “stale” and “unresponsive” like a posting made by a customer or potential member that sits there for days or weeks. Use notification services built in to each platform to receive email or text message alerts when others post or ask a question.
·       Be human. What works for the big corporations can work for the small business owner or society in genealogy: come across as human and not an automaton. This means having conversations via social media with your customers. Go out of your way to thank customers for their patronage. Tell customers to have a great weekend or holiday. There can be many “persons” managing a social media account but there should be a unified “voice” in all communications.
·       Monitor the chatter. Besides checking in at the social media platforms you manage, also use Google Alerts (http://alerts.google.com) to be notified via e-mail when there is new information about your organization posted to the Internet. Also create a separate alert for each product such as a publication.

Pro-Active Customer Service – Is There Such a Thing?

Think about it: if we see genealogists as consumers and customers, then we know that they will at some point need to take advantage of a vendor or society’s customer service. This could initially be in the pre-customer stage when they have questions about a product or joining as a member.

Do you have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on your website? Doing so can minimize the emails and phone calls you will answer for prospective customers. Do you have a “welcome” mat for new users or consumers even if it consists of an automated e-mail greeting? Do you check in with the newcomers to understand their needs? Do you ask for feedback after a given period of time?

Customers: Keep Them Coming Back

Remember that the customer or member that renews on a regular basis and can quickly see the value of your products and services is the best kind of customer. You only have to look to the “big muscle” in genealogy – Ancestry.com – to understand how important it is to not just attract new users, but to keep the current users happy and using the Ancestry services.

Your best customer will be one who not just continues using your services, but is willing to engage with your customer service mechanisms and, more importantly, tell others in the genealogy community about their experience.


© 2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Bio: Thomas MacEntee is a genealogy professional specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and as a means of interacting with others in the family history community. For more information visit http://hidefgen.com.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to learn more about interacting with the Upfront with NGS blog, please read Hyperlinks, Subscribing and Comments -- How to Interact with Upfront with NGS Blog posts!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com


Read more

17 September 2013

The Death Of Family Heirloom -- Is it Exaggerated?

Envelope "to" Great Great Grandfather George Nelson in author's possession
Stored in a safe and the author "hopes" it would be safe in the event of a disaster!
Copyright 2013, Diane L Richard


A post with this name reports ...

DeliveryQuoteCompare.com have revealed that 52% of Brits treasure the TV over any other possession when moving house.

The study suggests that the Family heirloom is no longer considered in high regard with us Brits. Despite featuring on the list of 'Priority During A House Move', Family heirlooms did not rank in the top ten, only making it to the number 11 spot with 14% of the overall vote...

... Daniel Parry, spokesperson for DeliveryQuoteCompare.com, commented on the findings: "It used to be the case that the family silver came first. Now it seems that it's the family television. Or possibly the laptop. It's probably a modern take on society; priorities change over time, but it's sad to think that we've gone so far that family heirlooms are no longer regarded as something precious."

Do recognize that how a question is asked often does skew how it might be answered.  In this case, the question focused on safety during transport.  That said, are heirlooms of lesser importance to us?

If you were moving, what would be your priorities?

Let’s go a step further – “if” your house was on fire, or it was starting to flood, or a tornado was heading towards it, and all people and pets were safe and you could “safely” grab a few items, what would those be?

Or, if you have already been affected by some type of “disaster” what did you grab?




Previous Upfront with NGS posts about heirlooms:




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to learn more about interacting with the blog, please read Hyperlinks, Subscribing and Comments -- How to Interact with Upfront with NGS Blog posts!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com


Read more