31 March 2014

R U sumtimz challenged 2 dec hist docs due 2 d shrt& & abbrevs used?



Shortening words into abbreviations is not a “new” phenomena!  This was my reaction as I read Researchers Are Totes Studying How Ppl Shorten Words On Twitter.  I will admit that when I learned to do texting to keep in touch with my children, laziness certain increased my use of abbreviated words and shorthand terms such as BTW = by the way.  If we are being honest, I also use a lot of shorthand in my calendar. Will my descendants be able to fully decipher what I have written?

Actually though, creating timelines and matrices for genealogy research started my use of word shortening.  When one is creating a matrix to increase the density and visual impact of information, I started using things like Dd = Deed, Pg = Page, N/S = North side, A = Acres, Adj = Adjacent, CC = Chain Carrier, Daur = Daughter, and so on along with & for and + for plus.  Basically, any shorthand notations I could come up with to preserve the content though make analyses simpler.

As we know from our research, court clerks were often fond themselves for using shorthand.  First, they love to abbreviate people’s forenames, such as Nathaniel = Natl, Joseph = Jos, etc.  Additionally, in court dockets (the brief of the briefest), they used all kinds of abbreviations that we sometimes, even when armed with our copy of Black’s Law Dictionary, end up scratching our head over.  When even the archivists don’t know what the court docket shorthand referred to, my enthusiasm for those records waned ...

Throughout our research we are often confronted by shortened words, initials, abbreviations for Latin words/phrases (e.g., i.e., et al, etc.), and other non-standard terms.  Learning what they mean is so critical to our deciphering, fully understanding and appropriately interpreting what we read.

While thinking about this I, once again, searched for a “universal” resource which might help.  I stumbled across a website, www.abbreviations.com which identifies itself as “The Web's Largest Resource for Acronyms & Abbreviations.”  Better yet, there is a page devoted to genealogy.  Think an acronym or abbreviation is missing? Feel free to add a new entry.  I did notice that it seems to have eliminated apostrophes of which I see many in the records.  For example, it lists DECD where I more typically see Dec’d.  I also found it interesting that it lists NGSQ (National Genealogical Society Quarterly) and not just NGS.   

What terms would you add to Abbreviations.com? 

As representatives of the genealogical community might it behoove us to expand this collection to better help us all as we come across unfamiliar terms?

Do you have “other” favorite resources to help you “understand” shortened words, abbreviations, et al as you come across them as you do genealogical or historical research?


Editor’s Note – Each of these Upfront Mini-Bytes posts has a piece about abbreviations.



Editor's Note -- I used Transl8it to help me convert "Are you sometimes challenged to decipher historical documents due to the shorthand & abbreviations used?" into the title of this piece. I take credit for abbreviating decipher, historical, documents and abbreviations.




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28 March 2014

Historic Photos -- a neat way to "see" how people and places once were



Photos tell us so many stories without saying a word.

Passionate individuals preserve and share photos for our enjoyment and edification.  There are hidden photo collections awaiting discovery.

Two recent posts about photo collections caught my eye, both for the content in each collection and for the selflessness of an individual who literally rescued thousands of photos from the “trash” so that they wouldn’t be lost.


These reminded me of other recent news events reporting incredible photographic finds.

So, though it often feels like “everything” historic has been found, these recent discoveries remind us that new discoveries of photos and documents are occurring every day!

Are you aware of a recently found cache of photographs or negatives?





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27 March 2014

African-American research doesn't only happen in February -- some new resources to check out!



Though Black History Month is officially over, we are always seeking out “new” research to help us learn about and identify African American ancestors.

As February wound down, I received news about 3 neat new NC databases you might want to check out.

2. Two Great New Resources on African American History (N.C. Department of Cultural Resources)

And, so you don’t think that I only focus on NC records, here is the news from TN, Tennessee State Library and Archives Celebrates Black History Month (new & improved versions of 3 important black history collections) and an Afro American Newspaper project, Project Gado Announces New Collection of Historical Images in Celebration of Black History Month.

If you are aware of other new resources for African-American research, please share.




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26 March 2014

Slideshare, Slideboom, Slideserve -- are you taking advantage of these to access or share genealogy talks?



So many platforms, so little time!

That’s how it often seems to me.  I was reading an older blog post by Ancestry.com, which let me to an SXSW slide presentation (this year, I actually associate SXSW more with music than technology), which then led me to slideshare which then reminded me what a great resource this can be.

We have previously talked about options for when you miss a conference -- audio-taped presentations, video-taped presentations, handout archives, etc.  Since many presentations are based on using a PowerPoint or similar platform, it makes sense that there may be a means for sharing these.

This is where slideshare comes in.  It’s a resource where you can access the slides (aka PowerPoint or equivalent slides) for a presentation.

After I checked out the SXSW presentation which started this all, How Using Big Data Can Tell Personalized Stories, I noticed that there are several other Ancestry.com presentations listed in the “more” column to the right.  Additionally, you can “search” on other topics such as genealogy, family history, genetics, DNA, and any other topic that might have relevance to educating you on a topic of relevance to your genealogical research.

Of course, I then had to see if there are other similar options.  I also came across slideboom, slideserve, and several other services.  Just search on “free powerpoint sharing” or similar to see what services are available.

These are all FREE platforms for slide sharing.  Though I have talked about using them to see what presentations others have posted, obviously, you could also use these to post a presentation that you have given and wish to share with others.

Which slide sharing platform have you found to be most valuable to genealogists and family historians?





Editor’s Note: Related articles include ...
(click on the page in bold towards the bottom of the post – it has the archive of handouts and presentation slides)






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25 March 2014

National Genealogical Society Call for Papers Deadline is 1 April 2014 for the 2015 Family History Conference in St. Charles, Missouri



Arlington, VA, 25 March 2014: The National Genealogical Society continues to accept lecture proposals from speakers and organizations for the NGS 2015 Family History Conference, Crossroads of America, to be held 13–16 May 2015 in St. Charles, Missouri. Topics sought include federal and state records, military and pension records, land records, methodology, analysis and problem solving, and the use of technology. NGS will also consider lectures on immigration and migration in and out of a region or country, transportation, and ethnic and religious groups. Proposals about Midwestern states and its feeder states, plus lectures on the “old country,” are encouraged.

Interested individuals and organizations should follow published guidelines at the NGS website, http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/program/call-for-papers/.

Speakers may submit up to eight proposals electronically through the NGS website, http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/program/call-for-papers/call-for-papers/submit-your-proposal/, no later than midnight EDT, 1 April 2014.

Organizations wishing to sponsor a lecture or track of lectures should review the details and sponsor requirements at http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/program/call-for-papers/call-for-papers/ngs-2015-family-history-conference-sponsored-call-for-papers/. The deadline to submit sponsored lectures is also 1 April 2014.

Founded in 1903, the National Genealogical Society is dedicated to genealogy education, high research standards, and the preservation of genealogical records.  The Arlington, Virginia, based nonprofit is the premier national society for everyone, from the beginner to the most advanced family historian, seeking excellence in publications, educational offerings, research guidance, and opportunities to interact with other genealogists.  Please visit the NGS Pressroom for further information.






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24 March 2014

NGS Board Nominations Now Being Accepted

Source:  League of Women Voters of California, http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwvc/6306132745/
Used via Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The election of NGS officers and board members will be held at the annual meeting at the NGS Conference in Richmond, Virginia, on Saturday, 10 May 2014. The following positions are open for election this term:

Terms for officers run from 1 October 2014 through 30 September 2016:
President
Vice President
Secretary
Treasurer.

Terms for directors run from 1 October 2014 through 30 September 2018:
Director, Region 1
Director, Region 2
Director at Large (three candidates).
A PDF of the map showing the various regions is available on the NGS website at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/board_nominations.

Members who wish to suggest a possible candidate for an office may e-mail their suggestions to the committee chair, Terry Koch-Bostic, at kochbostic@aol.com, by Friday, 28 March 2014. Please include the potential candidate’s name, a brief biography, and contact information. Candidates must have been a member of NGS for at least one full year prior to nomination.

The NGS Board is a working board. Board members spend on average twenty or more hours a month in a variety of activities. Each member is expected to either chair a committee or actively participate on one or more committees. Board members pay their expenses (travel, food, and lodging) to the three board meetings held each year; one meeting is by teleconference. Board meetings are typically held at the annual conference (usually the day before the conference), at the NGS headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, and in Salt Lake City. Additional meetings are held as needed by conference call. Attendance at the annual conference is also expected.

NGS Nominating Committee:
Terry Koch-Bostic, Committee Chair
Diane Gravel, cg
Connie Lenzen, cg
Charles S. Mason Jr., cg
Judy Russell, jd, cg, cgl




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Get an "earful" of FREE genealogy news via Geneatopia!



As a bit of a “genealogy” news junkie, I’m always seeking new ways to learn about what is going on in our world. 

If you are like me though, there is just not enough time in any given day to skim all the news published about genealogy and family history!  Because of this, I do like those who compile lists of some of what’s been happening that I might want to take note of.

Of course, even those take time to read.  I recently discovered Geneatopia, by Patty Roy.  She has been doing a regular program since July 2013 where she summarizes the “news” for the preceding week (give or take) in an audio file (e.g. podcast). Each program includes multiple news items and I like that I can listen to these while making my lunch, driving my car, walking about, waiting at the doctors office, or even shopping.  

And, since she also provides transcriptions of each program, I don’t have to try and “remember” every detail of what I have heard.  I make myself a note to check the transcript for some detail that caught my ear and then when I’m back in my office, I can pursue that item.

So, if you like to hear the news (more than read about it) or you have opportunities where listening to something is easier than reading, you might consider checking out Geneatopia’s podcasts.

For those who like to “listen” to information, are there other genealogy-themed news podcasts which aggregate recent family history news items?


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21 March 2014

FREE Historical Society Newsletters can really help your research!

FREE information is something that always catches our attention.


Though FREE databases are valuable to us, information about records, their availability and their history are also very important as is historical information for a locale (local, county, state and country).  It doesn’t matter if a record exists if we don’t know about it nor know how to access it.

I mention this because a great, and often under-utilized, resource are the FREE newsletters produced by many State Archives and/or Historical Societies.

I was reminded of this when I received notice that the Kentucky Historical Society introduced a FREE online newsletter, Kentucky Ancestors Online. As described in the launch PR ...

The Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) today announced the launch of its new online family history magazine, Kentucky Ancestors Online (KAO). This free electronic magazine, or e-zine, represents the latest evolution in KHS publications and continues the long-respected legacy of the former print journal, Kentucky Ancestors.

On a related note, I also learned that the North Carolina Historical Review has become available via JSTOR for the years 1924-2012. Check out the articles below on how you might be able to gain FREE access to these via JSTOR.

The New Hampshire Historical Society also has a free E-newsletter as does the Maine Historical Society. Does your state historical society have a newsletter?

Or, maybe your county historical publishes a newsletter such as Columns (Pike County Historical Society (PA)) or The Historical Bulletin (Brown County Historical Society (WI).  Does your county historical society have a newsletter?

Remember that there are also religious and other type historical societies which have relevance to our research such as the American Baptist Historical Society and its newsletter, Primary Source or the Free Methodist Historical Newsletter.  Does your faith’s historical society have a newsletter?

Please share news about any FREE newsletters for historical societies which might be of interest to genealogists!



Editor’s Note: Related articles include ...


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20 March 2014

Sometimes to do a House History, just as with Family History research, you need to turn to Science!

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dendrochronological_drill_hg.jpg, Hersteller: Preßler GmbH Planung und Bauforschung, Untergerstener Straße 4, 49838 Gersten/Emsland, Germany
Just as we sometimes find as we research our ancestors, a paper trail can only take you so far!  Well, the same can be true when researching the history of a house or building.  Paperwork hasn’t survived, there are no contemporary accounts mentioning its construction, etc.

Where for people research we will now often turn to DNA testing, for dating/aging a house or other structure, we can turn to dendrochronology.

I was just reminded of this when reading Wood offers clues to past which talks about using dendrochronology which studies “the tree rings found in the wood of the house” to determine when the “Crabtree” Jones house and its additions were built.

“ ... the rings are a fingerprint of sorts that show how a tree grew and can indicate when it was cut down, offering a valuable clue about when its wood was used in construction.”

This reminded me that the historic Joel Lane House (another Wake County NC landmark building) also underwent dendrochonology in 2013 and this technique was also used to date a Pitt County farm house (constructed in 1742).

This technique isn’t just used for dating structures, the NC Museum of Art also used to determine the age of some of its artwork.

So, remember, that just as with people, sometimes the paper trail is insufficient (or non-existent) with regards to houses, structures, furnishings, etc., and there are tactics one might take to learn more about the age as well as scientific techniques such as dendrochronology.

Have you been involved with a project where dendrochronology was used?



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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.
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19 March 2014

Tips for more effective studying -- ALL genealogists DO Study! guest post by Shannon Combs-Bennett, NGGN

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scubasteveo/296747958/
Used under Create Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ 
“You know, if you just studied, you would get better grades.”  If I had a nickel for every time this was said to me growing up, let’s just say I would not be worrying about how to pay for my genealogy habit.  This phrase was said so many times, by so many people, I just tuned everyone out.  Why?  Well, no one ever sat down and actually explained to me what “studying” was.  They all assumed I understood.

My first week of high school, we were tortured by our Honors English teachers with 3 days of videos.  I can’t even recall what the name of the video was, but I do remember being bored out of my mind and trying not to sleep most of the time.  The video was a middle-aged man, with a sweater vest and khaki pants, pacing around on a stage, telling me how to be a better student.  His technique had worked for thousands of students and it would work for us, too—guaranteed!  It obviously made an impact from the snores heard around the room.  For the next year our teacher would remind us that if we just followed those principles we would have done better in her class.

It’s not that I was a recalcitrant kid. I just had a mixture of “I don’t care” and cluelessness that was a real point of frustration for the adults in my life.  Simply put, I was bored to tears, even with Advanced Placement and Honors classes.  Year after year a concerned teacher would pull me aside and tell me that if I just studied, or tried harder, I would easily make honor roll.  It’s not like I wasn’t trying, or at least that is what I thought.  I excelled in subjects that I was enthralled with and struggled to pass those that didn’t catch my attention.  The perplexed looks on my parents’ faces at report card time, when their daughter who could barely pull a C math brought home A’s in analytical geometry, was priceless.

“If you would just study.”  “You are so smart, we hate to see you struggle.”  “Your potential is just lying there, you really need to tap into it.”  Do you see a trend here?  I had adults talking at me about studying, but because I was so smart no one took the time to actually try and help me learn how I should study.  It took until my junior year of college to figure out what studying meant, for me. 

When I was in middle school I came home with an assignment to study for my first world history test.  I didn’t know what to do.  After staring at my books I walked into the basement where my dad was folding the laundry.  Down there on the cold concrete slab, with the whop, whop, whop of the dryer tumbling, I asked my dad, “I’m supposed to study, what do I do?” 

Whop, whop, whop. 

“Well, did you read the book?”

“Yes.”

“Did you pay attention in class?’

Whop, whop, whop.

“Yes.”

“Well it sounds like you studied to me.”

And that was it.  I put my shoes on and went outside to play with the other neighborhood kids.  Today, I can’t remember what I received on the test, but it doesn’t matter.  That piece of advice stuck with me for the next decade. 

The point is, I didn’t get it.  More importantly, neither did anyone else in my life.  It seems that people just assumed that I would get it, eventually, or that I was just being lazy, which actually was a fair conclusion in a lot of circumstances.

The key is everyone studies and learns differently.  While our tricks may work for other people, I honestly don’t believe that there is ever a 100% foolproof way that will work for everyone out there.  What is key is that you develop a way that works for you and stick with it.

For the field of genealogy this is important.  We are a group of adults, many of whom are coming to it later in life, and we must self-educate ourselves.  If you are lucky, you already know what works for you and what doesn’t.  If you aren’t, well how are you going to buckle down and fast-track your education?

Here are a few tips to keep in mind the next time you to need to “Study” a new technique for your genealogy pursuits.  Maybe one of them will help you figure out the right way for you to study and learn information to make you a better genealogist.

·    Highlight doesn’t mean color the page.
Highlight is just that, calling out a key point.  It doesn’t even have to be a full sentence.  You could highlight a few phrases in a paragraph so that when you come back later those are the first things your eyes are drawn too.  This works well for visual learners who take cues from the images they see.

·    Notes are not transcriptions, they are actually more like abstracts.
Once again, focus on the key points.  These could be definitions, diagrams, important steps, etc.  Draw out the concepts that you need to remember and put them down on paper.  This works well for kinetic learners who take cues from doing things.

·    Ambience, or study music, shouldn’t be heard two tables away.
A lot of people can’t work in absolute silence.  Some need a TV on, others like listening to music.  The important thing to remember is that it should not compete in your head with what you are trying to do.  If you find that you are pausing to listen to the music or watch the TV, then it is a distraction you don’t need.  This works well for audio learners who can remember things when they put it to sound or music.

·    Patterns are all around us, use them to your advantage.
Connecting the dots in our research comes naturally to many genealogists, but what about connecting the dots in the manuals we are learning from or the lectures we attend?  Find the patterns imbedded in the ideas coming at you.  Do they cross subjects making a larger pattern that can connect puzzle pieces over a number of topics?  As you learn you should be able to connect new information to something you already know.  Once you make connections to past experiences (or research you are doing) it is less likely you will forget it.  This technique works well for visual learners who can see what they read and associate images with words. 

·    It’s true, if you don’t use it you will lose it.
A great way to retain information you learned is to teach it to someone else.  Teaching makes you think about what you read, put it into new terms, digest it, then turn it into something that another person can learn from.  The questions your listeners come up with will also help you.  Even if you don’t know the answer and have to get back to them after you look it up, it was a learning experience.  Just another way for you to remember and build on the subject you already know.  This is a great technique for people who are audio learners since talking will reinforce the ideas in their heads as well as kinetic learners who like to do things.

·    Don’t do too much, just focus on the task at hand.
Yes, I am guilty of multi-tasking.  One of my favorite things is to listen to podcasts while I am exercising or driving in the car.  However, if it is something I really want to buckle down and learn I have to give it my full attention.  Even the act of driving takes away from the act of learning.  When you set out to read, write, listen, or learn something new give it your full attention.  Set aside learning times if you need to.  Create do not disturb signs for your office if it gets your family to leave you alone.  Learning is serious business and you should treat it seriously. 

If you would like to read more on the subject, make sure to read my past guest posts on the NGS blog. 




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