30 June 2015

So many FREE Webinars, so little time!


Webinars have been such a great technological boon to our family history community!

Now you don’t necessarily have to live (or be able to visit) where a neat program is taking place and with so many programs being archives, you can watch such programs when convenient to you.

I was reminded of this when last month the Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) was promoting its webinar program. My understanding is that live attendance is open to anyone and archived programs are only available to ISGS members.  The North Carolina Genealogical Society (NCGS) operates its webinar program similarly and additionally makes its webinars available for purchase as CDs.

I was curious about the ISGS program and so posted a question on the ISGS FB page and who should reply but Thomas MacEntee (a most wonderful and helpful colleague!) and he shared a link to a handout (Free Online Genealogy Education Resources) from his ALA Mid-Winter Conference presentation in Chicago in January targeted towards librarians so they could see the available free online resources like webinars.

Do note that the webinar section is not comprehensive (see note above about NCGS program) and it is a great place to get started. If you want to know whether any particular society or organization offers free webinars, I suggest that you visit their webpage or FB page and look for any announcements.

For any society which has a webinar program, typically the price of membership is a worthwhile investment as you then gain access to the entire catalog of archived programs.  Then, at the click of a mouse or tap on your cell phone, you can then listen to the taped programs as you sit in your jammies, jog your way around the neighborhood, travel by train to work or a fun destination, etc.

If you know of genealogically relevant FREE webinar program not listed in Thomas’ handout, please post a comment and let us know about it!  

In the meantime, happy webinar-ing!




2 July 2015 -- Another source for free live webinars (archives maintained for members), Georgia Genealogical Society





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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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29 June 2015

BCG Will Make Two Changes to the Certification Process in 2016




18 June 2015

At the May meeting, the trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists authorized two significant changes in the certification process for new applicants. These changes will go into effect in 2016, when the new Application Guide is published. Briefly, for the first time (1) new applicants will be evaluated on their genealogically educational activities, and (2) new applications will be limited to 150 pages.

Genealogy standards 82 and 83 state that genealogists regularly engage in formal and informal development activities for four reasons: to better meet the standards, to learn more about useful materials, to enhance skills in reconstructing relationships and events, and to better present their findings to others. Years of data also show that applicants with more genealogy education are more likely to produce successful portfolios for certification.

Accordingly, as is currently the case, applicants will be required to briefly describe the genealogy-related activities that help prepare them for certification. However, as is not currently the case, this section will now be evaluated. Genealogical-education activities will meet the evaluation criteria if they show that the applicant “has engaged in a variety of development activities aimed at improving genealogical standards attainment.”

This change adds one rubric to the evaluations of portfolios. The new rubric emphasizes the need for ongoing genealogy education. Failure to meet one specific rubric does not disqualify an application. Other questions currently asked in the resume will be eliminated.

The second change will reduce the size limit for new portfolios to a maximum of 150 pages total. The current limits were established when BCG had more requirements for certification than now. The new size limit provides ample room for applicants to demonstrate their abilities.

 “These changes are part of BCG’s ongoing analyzing, evaluating, and refining the certification process,” said BCG president Jeanne Larzalere Bloom. “We hope that these two changes will streamline the process, make it more manageable for applicants, and encourage applicants to engage in a variety of genealogical-development activities before assembling a portfolio.”

For questions or more information, please visit http://www.bcgcertification.org  or contact Nicki Birch, CG, at office@BCGcertification.org.

CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.







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26 June 2015

Will Digital Newspaper Archives for ALL Newspapers Be Available to Our Descendants?


Yesterday we discussed highways wiping out whole neighborhoods.

Today, let’s turn our attention to modern day newspapers disappearing and possibly taking their digital archive with them!

Anyone who has done research into historic newspapers knows that there are newspapers for which NO archives survive.  Just the other day in a post What would you put in a time capsule? I discussed the discovery of an edition of an African-American newspaper for which there is no known archive!

How often do you look through the wonderful Chronicling America U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present, and find only fragments of a newspapers run survive? Maybe a handful of editions for a newspaper that existed for decades survive!

Sometimes the one glimmer of hope is that I have found in the 1800s that it was not uncommon for newspapers to share news published in other newspapers – I am always thankful when I search a digital newspaper archive and discover a tidbit of news published from another newspaper which I cannot access.  Well, I could if I had a time machine.

I bring this up since it’s easy to think of this as being as issue for just “old” and “long ago” published newspapers.  It’s not.  The Columbia Journalism Review published Can the Boston Phoenix’s digital history be saved?  The article is about a newspaper than was shuttered in 2013 seeking a home for its print and digital archives.

How many smaller circulation newspapers with print and/or web versions are not planning for their possible demise?

All too often it’s the smaller more localized newspapers that really give us stories about our ancestors.  The bigger city and circulation newspapers have to cover a lot of territory.  It’s the local newspaper that gave you tons of social news, covered very event. In many ways, there were not news items too small to publish!  

We still have the same situation today, though it might just be that it’s a web-based news outlet we are reading ...

I sure hope that those smaller and often alternative newspapers are preparing for the future.

I just now checked The Newtown Bee archive.  The online archive may only go back about 15 years and there were some older news items (I imagine subsequently republished) from my high school years ... Phew!








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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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25 June 2015

Highways and their impact on cities -- so many neighborhoods no longer exist!


Have you ever had an address from a directory in the first half of the 20th century and then put it in Google Maps (or something comparable) and nothing happens?

Often, when I go to try and figure out what is going on, especially if the address was in a city, I look at an older map and then a newer one and realize that a big highway is running right over that neighborhood!  The same happens when you know someone lived off a creek (clearly shown on an older map) to find that the town is now under a reservoir!

Much of our landscape has changed as a result of building highways and creating lakes.

Whole neighborhoods no longer exist except in records. 

I bring this up because such changes in “the lay of the land” are important to our research and understanding the records to look for. 


As with all our research, understanding the context of highways as presented in Highways gutted American cities. So why did they build them? helps us better appreciate these roads that we often take for granted.  Since most of these were built after I was born, they have always existed for me.  It’s hard to imagine what once was when I have no memory of a vastly different landscape.

We need to remember – they didn’t always exist!

On a related note, there is a website, 60 Years of Urban Change: Midwest (links are provided to other geographic areas as well), which talks about many cities across the country and has interactive maps depicting them from the 1950s to the present.

“60 years has made a big difference in the urban form of American cities. The most rapid change occurred during the mid-century urban renewal period that cleared large tracts of urban land for new highways, parking, and public facilities or housing projects. Fine-grained networks of streets and buildings on small lots were replaced with superblocks and megastructures.” 

I find historical context pieces like this fascinating.  They remind me to try and look through records and color my interpretation of people’s lives by better understanding what the world looked like to them at the time, not the world as I see it today.

Did you ever have an aha moment where you realized that there was some element of geography that has completely changed since your ancestors were alive?







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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog. Any opinions expressed by guest authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of NGS.
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24 June 2015

24 Hours in The Past -- a BBC Living History TV Show involving celebrities


The genealogy community often talks about television programs that are about individuals researching their ancestry (e.g. WDYTYA, Finding Your Roots, Journey to Find Their Roots, Genealogy Roadshow, etc).  There is so much we can learn from these programs as we vicariously share in each individual’s journey.

I came across an interesting premise in a relatively new BBC show called 24 Hours in the Past.  Per a Wikipedia page about the show, it is described as “Six celebrities were immersed in a recreation of impoverished life in Victorian Britain. Each of the four episodes represented 24 hours living and working in four different occupations.”

In the U.S. we cannot access the full episodes and we can watch quite a few clips.

What time period would you think would make for an interesting historically premised show where celebrities live as their ancestors once did?

If you could watch a day in the life of an ancestor – when and where would that be?

Maybe, in the future, we’ll see familiar celebrities living as those in 24 Hours in the Past are.




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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog. Any opinions expressed by guest authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of NGS.
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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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23 June 2015

Sorenson Molecular Genetics Foundation Database Shutdown last month



Above is what one currently finds when accessing Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF).  Ancestry.com closed down the website last month.

You can learn more about SMGF at ISOGG.

Judy G Russell, The Legal Genealogist, discusses the shutdown in Of babies and bathwater as does Dick Eastman in Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation DNA Database has been Shut Down, while Roberta Estes talk about some of the context that spurred the shutdown in her post RIP Sorenson – A Crushing Loss.  Do read these articles to learn more about the history of SMGF, the recent controversy and the ensuing shutdown.  As always, check out the comments posted to the various blog posts.

For now, the donated DNA which comprised this database is in limbo.  “There are no plans to destroy the DNA that was contributed, but have no plans to make the service available in the future.”

In case you were worried about any DNA testing with Ancestry, even though the SMGF DNA database has been shutdown, this has absolutely nothing to do with the current Ancestry DNA offerings.  






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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog. Any opinions expressed by guest authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of NGS.
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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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22 June 2015

Freedmen’s Bureau Records -- Volunteer indexing effort of 4 million freed slave records underway



A new project was unveiled on Friday in honor of Juneteenth Day – the Freedmen’s Bureau Project.

SALT LAKE CITY — FamilySearch International, the largest non-profit genealogy organization in the world, announced the digital release of 4 million Freedmen’s Bureau historical records and the launch of a nationwide volunteer indexing effort.

FamilySearch is working in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society and the California African American Museum to make these records available and accessible by taking the raw records, extracting the information and indexing them to make them easily searchable online. Once indexed, finding an ancestor may be as easy as going to FamilySearch.org, entering a name and, with the touch of a button, discovering your family member ...


On the project page, click “Volunteer Now” to get started.  Here is the indexing guide.

These are invaluable records not just for those with en-slaved ancestors and for anyone living in a southern state immediately after the Civil War.  Many many individuals are listed in these records – freed individuals, ex-military, widowed wives, orphans and more.  I love these records so much that I was honored to do a webinar on them for NCGS in 2014, Freedmen’s Bureau Records – Much More Valuable to Anyone’s Southern Research Than you Might Have Thought!

Needless to say I am very excited to see these records get the recognition as an invaluable resource that they have long deserved.

Let’s all do our part to make them widely available!









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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog. Any opinions expressed by guest authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of NGS.
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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 June 2015

Facebook (FB) -- Are you taking advantage of its wonderful and FREE genealogical resources?



Back in December, we blogged Facebook can be a genealogical goldmine or a "too much" nightmare -- taming social media.  That hasn’t changed.  There is sooooo much that can be found on Facebook (FB) and it can be so overwhelming.

I have pared down the stories I see in my feed quite a bit.  I periodically “like” new people or entities and then prune my feed as time goes by.  The select FB feeds I mentioned in my previous post are still going strong, though I did feel bad that I didn’t mention Research Buzz back in that list (probably because I also get that in email form and the same is true for Dick Eastman and several others). As mentioned in the previous post, I have opted to get certain “news” via emails direct from a blog because it’s easier to keep track of them to read later and it also allows me to either archive them or file them in a digital folder as a source of future Upfront with NGS blog posts!

As you can imagine, more and more new individuals, groups, organizations, repositories are constantly joining or becoming more visible on FB.  It is always worthwhile doing a search to see if any “new” (or new to you) groups or pages are now available that weren’t before.  A mantra in family history research is to always revisit, revisit, revisit!  The internet and social media are too dynamic to not follow that advice – revisit!

A new group such as Scandinavian Genealogical Research has recently come to my attention and it’s a gem!  This is a newer public group described by “Purpose of this group is to provide a forum for links, tips and tricks that can be helpful or of interest for anyone interested in Scandinavian (mainly Danish and Swedish) Genealogy and research.”  Its coverage is not limited to Danish and Swedish.  In fact several recent posts have been on Norwegian resources.  Finnish research seems to be underrepresented and I know that I’ve not done my part to share some of the online gems for researching in that country. This is an incredibly dynamic FB group with over 1400 members which was created April 10 of this year and so it’s just over two months old.

Sometimes, a group like the Scandinavian one is solely a FB group.  Sometimes though, we learn when visiting a web page for a group or archive or library, etc, of interest that they have a FB page.  FB pages in this situation can be a wonderful way to stay current on the activities of said group or archive or library, etc.  As mentioned before, just because you “like” and “follow” something doesn’t mean you have to do so in perpetuity.  Pay a visit, possibly like and follow, decide the value to you, and then either continue to see such news items in your feed or un-follow or dis-like.  It’s a dynamic and ever-changing platform that might prove invaluable to your ancestral quest!

Any new genealogically-themed FB pages catch your eye lately?

Do you have a handy trick for how you identify new family history oriented FB pages to like & follow?








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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog. Any opinions expressed by guest authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of NGS.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
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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18 June 2015

Virginia Vital Records NOW Online -- Partnership between VDH & Ancestry

Screen Capture for Ancestry.com Virginia Page -- note the NEW symbols next to vital records databases!

Vital records + Access = happy dance for genealogists!

I read a couple of weeks ago about VA vital records becoming available.  To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention as I’m usually researching 18th century VA families, long before vital records existed.

I then received on Monday a blog post feed from the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) talking about these same records.  Again, I blithely acknowledged the information and again went on my happy way.

Well, just yesterday, I saw another post about these records where FGS cross-posted the RPAC blog post link on FB and this time (remember, 3rd time is the charm), bells went off in my head on two fronts – 1. that Upfront with NGS readers would probably like to know about these records and 2. I had just talked with a client about her parents divorce in ... drum roll please ... Virginia and our hopes that the paperwork would give us where/when they married (not in VA) so we could pursue that paperwork.

In just a couple of minutes I found the divorce paperwork which confirmed the details on the parents and included the place and date of the marriage.  A couple of more minutes and I had placed an order with a SC probate court for the marriage record.

With that done, I’m now sharing with you part of the RPAC announcement and the links to how you can access these records via Ancestry.com.

Virginia Vital Records Online

Posted on June 14, 2015 by FredMoss

With thanks to Peter E. Broadbent, Jr. 

More than 16 million Virginia vital records have been digitized and indexed as a result of collaboration between Ancestry and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).  These records were officially released to the public on June 2, 2015.

For vital records which are now “open”, the image of the original vital record can be viewed online through Ancestry; for records which are still “closed’, an index with key information is available online through VDH.  Virginia death, marriage and divorce records are “closed” for 25 years; Virginia births are “closed” for 100 years ...

Read the full post and learn all the details here.

For those with an Ancestry.com subscription or who can access Ancestry.com through a library or similar facility, here are the direct links for each collection!

Virginia, Birth Records, 1864-2014
http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=9277
Virginia, Marriage Records, 1936-2014
http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=9279
Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014
http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=9278
Virginia, Divorce Records, 1918-2014

The availability of vital records is always a benefit to our research.  And, when such access is limited or scheduled to be further curtailed, our community must champion records access.  The Virginia Genealogical Society (VGS) was instrumental in making this all happen!  Thanks and hats off to VGS!








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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog. Any opinions expressed by guest authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of NGS.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
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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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!
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Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com
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17 June 2015

Are you properly preserving your family heirlooms?



As family historians we often become the keepers of invaluable family artifacts – documents, photographs, textiles and more.

Are we doing the best we can to make sure they are preserved for future generations?

Thanks to Craig R Scott and his Heritage Books FB page we learned about a great piece about preserving artifacts on The National WWII Museum New Orleans page.

Use the following guidelines to keep your historic memorabilia in the best shape possible. Here we cover general hazards to artifacts and specific techniques for preserving textiles, paper, photographs, metal, leather and wood.

The post starts out by summarizing the seven hazards to historic artifacts and not surprisingly the number one item listed is light, followed by temperature, humidity, pests, human beings (yes we are a hazard!), chemical reaction & air pollutants and inherent vice.  I found the concept of inherent vice interesting since it wasn’t a term I had heard before. Do read about “how” these are hazards. 

The post then goes on to summarize how you might best preserve the objects in your care.

As usual I also sought some more guidance, possibly inspired by a recent trip to the Beaufort NC Maritime Museum and the Blackbeard exhibit, I cam across a post Artifact Preservation on a Shipwreck Diving website. One assumes that most of our artifacts haven’t sat in a salt water bath for hundreds of years and have been a bit more loving stored and my objective was to find out if there are any special needs for ceramic and glass artifacts.

Fortunately, a couple of years ago, I took part in an event where you could meet up with a conservator/appraiser to ask about your family heirlooms.  At the time I learned that what I brought were not terribly valuable monetary-wise though they still all hold a lot of sentimental value for me.  

As part of that program, I did also learn how to best store my one textile item (an 1875 silk shawl) and implemented what I was told.  Of course, after reading over the mentioned post, I now learn that there is more I should be doing if this shawl is to continue to exist for future generations ...

I guess I’d best turn my attention to the metal objects I have which are definitely NOT the shiny objects they once were ...





Editor’s Note: If you do a web search on preservation of artifacts, you can find many helpful websites.  I have a tendency to look into resources created by museums and historical commissions.  After all, this is a key element of their mandate and they have lots of expertise.  Here are links to the Texas Historical Commission, Basic Guidelines for the Preservation of Historic Artifacts, and the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute Taking Care page.
  





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