Friday, December 14, 2007

Separating fact from fiction

Family history is full of mystery, which is one quality that makes it so fascinating. Melissa Slate, in her article, "The Legend of Virgina Dare," recounts the story of an early American lost colony and the legend of first white child born to English parents. As the article reminds us, about our own histories, fanciful though the legends may be, do not be too quick to dismiss them, as there may be kernels of truth.

Denver Public Library grant holds promise

As a Denver native, an article in the Cherry Creek News, "Digitizing Denver's Historic neighborhoods," was of interest. The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded the Denver Public Library's Western History/Genealogy Department a grant in the amount of $778,000 for the Library's Creating Communities: Digitizing Denver's Historic Neighborhoods project.

"We are extremely pleased that the Denver Public Library will become the home of the archival records of the City of Denver," said Jim Kroll, manager of the Western History/Genealogy Department. "The project will create a centralized digital repository of materials about Denver."

According to Kroll, manuscripts, photographs, published narrative, cartography, audio and video recordings and newspaper clippings from private sources will be linked with the public records to provide in- depth information about the history of Denver and its neighborhoods.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gold Between the Census Returns

We've all heard about "gold fever," mining boom towns, those who made it rich and those who went bust. But who were these miners? In her article, "Gold Between the Census Returns," Judy Rosella Edwards suggests local biographical histories as one resource for identifying those who tried their luck but then returned and took up their lives. By way of example, the article points to just one resource in Livingston County, Illinois that profiles a number of former minders. Local county histories also contain biographical sketches, and even if you ancestor is not profiled, the histories and the sketches mention many other people, as well. The value of these histories is that so many exist, published in earlier time periods when the subjects themselves or someone closely related provided the information. It was from one fo these biographical sketches that we learned from a son's biography that his father came from Ireland to America as an indentured servant in the early 1700s. As the article points out, "While the stories are brief, they probably are not documented anywhere else." Truly, there is gold in these resources.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Narrated photo albums, new from MyFamily

Just in time for the holiday,, currently available as a "beta" or test site, will eventually become a regular feature of The Generations Network's popular, as reported yesterday in the Cincinnati Post, "Preserve Memories on" SnapGenie is a free, easy-to-use, online photo-sharing resource in which visitors can build narrated photo slide shows, then e-mail links to their slide shows to relatives or post them to a personal Web site, blog or their private family site for viewing by family members and friends using a code provided by SnapGenie.

Here's how it works. After signing up for a free account, users can begin building their own slide show by uploading images such as digital pictures, scanned heirloom photographs and other one-of-a-kind documents. (Note: SnapGenie does not accept images saved in the TIFF format.) Users can then dial a toll-free number, enter their access code, and record up to one hour of commentary to accompany the images -- and you can do this for any number of narrated photo "albums," although users are encouraged to prepare their comments, reminiscences and other captions ahead of time, before recording the audio clips. Once created, slide shows can be replayed as often as desired by family members and friends living in every corner of the world.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Tis the Season . . .

Melissa Slate in her article, "The Ancestor's Christmas,"reminds us that our "Christmas traditions and celebrations are varied and diverse with roots in many nationalities." This time of year many faiths, Christian and non-Christian alike celebrate special observances with a rich history, dating back many generations. Reflecting on our heritage may help us take less for granted in busy rush of the season.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tips and hints for overcoming "Researcher's Block"

Sometimes our mind hits a brick wall, as much as our research. In his article, "Tips on Researcher's Block," Alan Smith provides some ideas to help you get reoriented and maybe take fresh perspective. One idea, for example, is to rearrange the format of your data such as writing out what you know in narrative form, putting it into an outline, or building a scrapbook. The process may shed new light. This and other tips and hints might to refresh your thinking . . . and your enthusiasm.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Wreaths Across America bound for Arlington, Sunday, Dec 9

Time once again for Wreaths Across America, a stunning tribute to our men in arms. The Wreaths Across America convoy to Arlington National Cemetery will travel Route 1 through the Midcoast on Sunday, Dec. 9. This year's convoy from Maine to Virginia is slated to be the biggest, with between 50 and 300 vehicles joining along various sections of the route, according to an article yesterday in VillageSoup.

Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington has for 15 years been donating wreaths and decorating the graves of 4,500 veterans buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Each year the parade of wreaths is escorted 750 miles, through 196 communities, by the Patriot Guard Riders and Civil Air Patrol on their trek to Arlington National Cemetery, where the wreaths make their eventual home adorning the graves of veterans.

The Wreaths Across America story began more than 15 years ago when the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington began a tradition of donating and placing wreaths on the headstones. It's worth taking a look at the article and/or the Wreaths Across America web site to see the beautiful photos of the wreaths after they've been placed

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Plan ahead for 2008 Genealogy Cruise

Time to plan ahead. The WhollyGenes fourth annual cruise and conference is scheduled for Oct. 26 - Nov. 2, 2008, according to an article on, "Genealogists to gather on Caribbean cruise." Bob Velke, president of WhollyGenes, is the developer of The Master Genealogist, a genealogy database software program. The educational and fun-filled voyage to the Eastern Caribbean will include opportunities to learn about genealogical research methods, tools and technologies from noted speakers and authorities in those fields. For more information and to obtain a registration form for the conference and cruise, go to or call
(800) 377-9383 and press "8.”

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What we hope to find in an obituary

A good article in The Capital Times, "Don't make obit a resume," among other things, tells what to look for in an obituary. While the article laments modern-day obits sounding more like resumes, it does note the kinds of things one likes to find in an obituary, especially from a family history point of view. Jim Olle, who has collected about 1,200 obits in his pursuit of family history was asked what he likes to find in an obituary.

"It is helpful for me to find all of the names, dates and places and the names of all of the children and grandchildren. In the pursuit of genealogy, it is helpful to read about their military history, their social history, what clubs they belonged to, such as the VFW or the Elks,." he said. Olle believes that when the obituary describes the person's interests, such as fishing or travel, it gives you a more complete picture of the person. Something else to consider is where the obituary should/could appear. If someone lived and worked in one community and retired to another, the notice could appear in several papers.