Saturday, March 14, 2015

Genealogy Reading - Collecting Free Material Part II

In April 2014 was the first posting under this title. It reflected the reading of periodicals that were picked up from free reading materials at the Genealogical Forum of Oregon. With the reading of those materials there was a wealth of knowledge about the periodicals themselves and about the contents. Recently my visit there gleaned a few books and a copy of Family Tree Magazine and a copy of New England Ancestors. One book was, "A Guide to County Records in the Illinois Regional Archives" and while it is a bit dated, it will provide a glimpse of the holdings of some great resources. For today though my focus in sharing is on the books received from a dear friend who is disposing of her genealogy books. Her life is moving on into another direction and she very kindly is allowing me to distribute her books to repositories where they will benefit other researchers. Before doing so, this is availing me the opportunity to read some great works by some very well-known genealogy professionals and other writers.

The first book of focus is, "Producing a Quality Family History" by Patricia Law Hatcher, CG, published by ancestry. The book is currently on sale at Family Roots Publishing Co. for $28.76 and normally sells for  $31.95, so you can see the value of a fantastic book published in 1996. In reading the book the first thing that keeps coming back to me time and again is how relevant her information is for those of us who write blogs. Remember in 1996 there was very little on the Internet related to genealogy and blogs had not really even been thought of. My original interest in the book was because she is very well respected in the genealogy community and someday my hope is to write a book. One of the classes taught in my series is, "How to Write a Family History Your Children Will Enjoy."

Her chapters cover the following:
what to write and when to write it
writing process
understanding types and fonts
book design
page layout and formatting
organizing and presenting family information
how do you know
turning paper into people
illustrations, charts and photographs
opening the door to your book
developing an editorial eye
preparing camera-ready art
turning camera-ready art into books
options from technology

While my reading is only at page 48 of 248 pages of text, it is amazing how much is being reinforced in my knowledge of genealogy policies, terms, and other important concerns when publishing anything, be it an article, blog, or book. Her comments are to the point and well explained. This is probably a book that will stay on my shelf.

The second book of focus is, "Family History Made Easy," by Loretta Dennis Szucs. She is also a very well respected professional genealogist. When teaching a class on using last week this book was presented. The comparison was made that doing family history is not really easy, but with all the new material on the Internet, it is much easier than it has ever been before. This book was published in 1998 by ancestry, and while much of it is outdated, there is still plenty to be gained in reading it. For the most part it is a step-by-step introduction to doing genealogy research before we have the tools that we have today. It is a walk in the past of what those researchers of that time period had to do to gain information on their ancestors. Most local repositories would not keep a copy on the shelf due to the time period it covers.

The third book of focus is, "The Dixie Frontier" by Everett Dick, published in 1948 and reprinted in 1993. Again my reading is only to page 128 of 339 pages of text. This book is absolutely fascinating. It is going to a friend after it is finished, as she does much more southern research. It is an opportunity to see history through a well-researched author. When first published others disagreed with some of his conclusions. For me it is just a great opportunity to view a time and place that my high school classes lightly glossed over. We all need to really explore history more and the cultures of our ancestors. This book somewhat reminds me of "Albion's Seed." It is a much smaller book and the print is very readable.

So for now my focus is on finishing book three and then going back to book one to finish reading it. There are stacks of books in my office and two boxes in our living room that await my attention. In between reading there are family histories and genealogies to work on. For me it helps to take a break from these activities and spend time doing just one or the other. Then there is such a thing as housework and family activities to maintain as well. What are you reading and where do you find your reading material? For serendipity, you never know what you might find in between the cover of a book or periodical. Reading is one of the best resources for gaining and maintaining an education in genealogy.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

50,000 Pageviews

The productivity of a blog just amazes me. In less than five years there have been 50,000 pageviews of Gopher Genealogy. When organizing the blog with myyoungest daughter never would it have occurred to me how many people would take the time to read the posts. These posts are random thoughts from my hours of research, interacting with others and exploring the family histories for many people. Here are some of the statistics for this blog.

Monday, February 16, 2015

SLIG 2015 - Part II

Almost three weeks ago my post SLIG 2015 - Part I was posted and since then there have been 132 views as listed on the website. Others may access the post in other venues. Now for Part II, and understanding people. Over the past nineteen months my time has been consumed by the complicated probate estate of my mother who passed away in June 2013. This time period has been emotionally draining and physically exhausting. A major factor in my endurance was the attendance at SLIG 2014 and SLIG 2015. Salt Lake City feels like a second home to me and the Family History Library is one of my favorite places to research. While my plans did not really involve research there, somehow one becomes propelled into a sense of discovery and being lead to serendipity moments in the materials available.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SLIG 2015 - Part I

It's been ten days since we returned from SLIG (Salt Lake Genealogical Institute) 2015. The intense week in Salt Lake City, Utah was a little wearing on me. It was worth the extra effort and challenges faced in being able to attend the track on Diving Deeper Into New England Research. On arrival Saturday we took a cab to the Family History Library and worked all afternoon on research. It was amazing how much information was found within the collection of books, mostly for New England towns. We did one break in the lunch room and then went to dinner at JBs after leaving the library. Then we decided to walk back to the Hilton Hotel where we were staying. Even though it was four blocks (about a mile) it was not a good decision for me. With neuropathy in my feet it was a bit too far.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Putting Order to a Genealogical Collection

The past week my energy was focused on a client project that had been sitting in my office for six months. While it waited there was another large client project that needed to be completed. Both clients have been very patient and the projects required intense focus on locating documentation for the material provided. It is interesting that every project is so unique. People may collect information over a long period of time and come to a point where they are not sure how to put it all together.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Ends and 2015 Begins

This has been an incredible year for our family. It started out right with attending the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, which I am repeating this year. Most of my mother's estate has been taken care of except for the sale of her home and some cemetery issues. My genealogy work continues to evolve and there was some work for other people. There were twenty four classes taught, for a total of 167classes taught in twelve years or 83 in the last three years. For this blog there were 277 posts written and this makes 278. For the last few months my posts have been less frequent and over the holidays there was some down time from computer work altogether.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Cleaning Up Your Genealogy Files

The ongoing process of cleaning up genealogy files will be never ending. No matter what you do today there will always be changes to the formats used and information requirements involved. Thomas MacEntee is currently embarking on a program called a Genealogy Do-Over. This is something I have done for several of my family lines from time to time. Creating clean files, especially within online genealogy family trees, is critical to our ongoing research. Using a systematic format of recording information is the basis of researching.

Today I discovered that someone has extended my Tidd family back several generations. The changes are recent and yet there are no sources or notes to indicate how the information was accumulated. In hopes of starting a dialogue about this family information an email was sent to the contributor. The chance of a response is about 50/50. Within five hours there was a response and it was very interesting. The responder noted that they are only related by marriage, but "simply put all the pieces of the puzzle together that were already there." The person is "an unofficial full time volunteer who tries to fix things when I can." They, "put much effort into this, and it is refreshing to receive thanks instead of hate mail for their efforts."

While some of the new information included birthdates in the 1500s, it is probable that the information either came from parish registers, probate records or other community records. Some of these records were microfilmed years ago, but recently were digitized and provided online to researchers. There were records from Norfolk, England for the family that were recently noticed on These more recent ones are from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England also from Now it is important to go back and compare the information from both locations.