Friday, January 11, 2013

Helping Others Find Answers by Writing Articles

In 2009 I joined the editorial team of The Bulletin, the quarterly for the Genealogical Forum of Oregon. This is a way that I can contribute as a volunteer and work mostly from my home. One of the best benefits is that I have access to a large library with check out privileges for material for the articles that I write.

We have three editors for the issues and rotate doing one a piece on the March, June and September, and then work together on the December issue. Following each issue we get together to discuss any problems and what we like or didn't like about the final copy. It took some time to find a comfortable fit for me, but now we are accustomed to how each of us work. We don't get a lot of feedback from readers, but when we do they are generally positive.

There are five regular columns and usually about six featured articles. Our regular columns are Educate Yourself (my column), Written in Stone (Cemetery information), Relics (By a former Customs Official), Extracts (Records being extracted by society members), and Book Reviews (Books submitted by authors or publishers; also one of my columns).The editor or another writer, who the editor has contacted, writes the articles for these columns. Very seldom do we receive articles randomly submitted by authors.

Local writers often write the featured articles, but occasionaly we contact a professional who has expertise on the topic of that issue. Winners of the society writing contest are published in several of the issues. Our total number of pages is 42 and these fill up quickly. With every issue the editor worries about extra pages, either too many or too few, but we adjust as needed. The amount of volunteer hours spent on each issue are huge, from the writers to the editors, then to the proofreaders (we have six), and finally to the layout person. Then it goes to the printer, gets prepared for distribution and then received by email or snail mail.

In 2010 we decided to create a new regular column, Educate Yourself, and I was asked to be editor for the column. Each time I try to focus on information that researchers can utilize, especially those who come into our society library.
The columns previously written are:
Genealogy Education - Enhance Your Research, Dec. 2010
Reference Books for the Genealogist Wish List - March 2011
The GFO Website by Larry Sullivan - June 2011
Researching Your Civil War Ancestors by Carol Surrency - Sep. 2011
Researching Massachusetts Records - Dec. 2011
Oregon Marriage and Divorce Records at GFO - March 2012
Clackamas County, Oregon Records Office - June 2012
Blogging by Leslie Lawson - Sep. 2011
Underused Microfilm and Microfiche at the GFO - Dec. 2012

The current article for this column will be a continuation of the last article, focusing on the rest of the microfilm collection at the GFO. It may turn into two articles, as the collection is large, there are 22 pages of notes created as we inventoried the microfilms. This information is already assisting our members in becoming aware of this underused collection.

Let me finish with a recent finding by our member Janice Healy. She read the first list and discovered that at the GFO we have a microfilmed index of the Multnomah County Coroner's records. Janice has a family member that supposedly there had been inquest  by the Coroner and she asked me to check the list when I was at the GFO this week. Taking a break from the six hours it took to inventory the rest of the microfilm, I put the Coroner's film on the reader to have a look. Sure enough, after working my way to the appropriate time period and the alphabetical list there was the name of her family member.

Taking the film to the scanner, I made digital copies to my flash drive and then made a paper copy. When I arrived home I emailed her the scans and she was delighted to find the information that she has wanted to find. Now she is in pursuit of finding the original file, which is no easy task. They are listed as being in a storage repository, but online it is difficult to determine exactly which one. Today I hope to hear back from her that she has had a response to her email to the major repository either saying that they have the files or directing her to where they are located.

Serendipity in genealogy pops up when one least expects it. Janice has enjoyed several moments this past year in making new discoveries about her family history. Sharing in those moments is very rewarding and I would love to hear from others who may benefit from the resources we share in our publications. The Bulletin is a benefit of membership to the GFO, as is their newsletter the Insider, access to the library and discounts for classes and seminars. The Bulletin is indexed by PERSI and I list the articles that I contribute on the GFO Articles page above. We welcome submissions of articles and if you desire, we will work with you on developing an article.

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