29 April 2011

Using Maps in Genealogical Research

Genealogists have always been fascinated by historic maps. In some cases, they actually show names of ancestors and where they lived. In all cases, they present a picture of a locality and its geographical details, which can be important in understanding the life and times of ancestors. Locally, genealogists have a couple of opportunities during the coming week to learn what maps are available and how to use them in their research.

On Monday, May 2, the Cuyahoga Valley Genealogical Society will learn about "Locating Important Homes by Using All Sorts of Maps," from Tom Edwards, map librarian, at the Cleveland Public Library. He plans to show attendees how the CPL's Map Room can unlock any mysteries surrounding the location of ancestral home sites. I have used the CPL Map Room and I know it has a extensive collection of U.S. and foreign maps, domestic and military, that can provide important information to a genealogical research project. Guests are welcome at CVGS meetings, which are held at 7 p.m. in the Independence Civic Center, Independence, Ohio.

On Saturday, May 7, from noon to 3 p.m., the Western Reserve Historical Society Genealogical Committee is offering "Using Land Records and Maps In Genealogical Research," which includes demonstrating and explaining the importance of land records in genealogical research and identifying some sources available, both in hard copy and online. This seminar will be presented by Gen. Committee member, John Dailey, retired  Chief Surveyor, later Vice President of Wheeler and Melena, Inc. A registration fee is required. Questions? Contact Kathryn at foxreinhardt@usa.net.

Annual Conference at Westlake LDS Family History Center.

Tomorrow I plan to attend the annual Genealogy Conference (free) offered by the LDS Family History Center in Westlake from 8:30 am to 2 pm. This year's theme is "FamilySearch on the Internet."

Speakers will be Deborah Abbott, Larry Boulden, Casandra Brown, Betty Franklin, Diana Crisman Smith, Gary M. Smith, Gary Teaman, and Marti Halliday. 

The advance publicity states that the program will cover a wide range of Internet and other topics. I know most of the speakers and they always have something interesting to say.

See the details and registration info here.

26 April 2011

I signed up today to be notified about the beta launch of YouWho.com, a website that bills itself as "The Next Generation in Family History Services." It claims it will "be a new kind of family history site: a place where the focus is on people—a place to discover who you are. youwho is making it faster, easier, and more enjoyable to connect to your roots."

On the YouWho.com website, there is only the above information, along with the news that YouWho Inc. has raised $5 million. The site points to a news report on TechCrunch.com with the following report:

"Youwho, an Internet startup very much in stealth mode, has secured $5 million in funding, an SEC filing reveals.
"We don’t know anything about the startup whatsoever at this point, apart from what we were able to piece together from a couple of Internet searches:
"- One of the co-founders is Andre Brummer, former SVP Product at MyFamily.com. [This means to me that there is a very experienced hand at the helm of the new company.]
"- Its logo, tagline and this trademark filing (“providing an on-line searchable database in the field of genealogy and family history”) suggest it has something to do with mapping your family tree in order to find out ‘who you are’ (also see:GeniAncestry.comMyHeritage and others)
"- The SEC filing includes the name Barry Eggers, co-founder and managing director ofLightspeed Venture Partners, but we’re not sure if other investors participated in the round.
"We’ve contacted the company to learn more, and will update here or when they launch."

The company also is advertising for database programmers.

How exactly will YouWho.com differentiate itself from Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, WorldVitalRecords, etc? 

13 April 2011

Courteney Cox to Appear on Next Year's WDYTA?

"Cougar Town" star Courteney Cox may appear in a future episode of NBC's "Who do you Think you are?" Several genealogy bloggers are reporting that Courteney has revealed that she was invited to be on the show by her former "Friends" co-star Lisa Kudrow who serves as one of the show executive producers.

Lisa asked me to be on it; apparently they’ve found something in my family history, which they won’t tell me because they like to surprise the person. It’s an amazing show…”

Once again we hear about "surprise the person," which apparently is a key element in the planning and production process for the WDYTYA producers.

Reading this today brought to mind the article in the Spring 2010 edition of American Ancestors, the quarterly magazine from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. In that edition, Joshua Taylor and Gary Boyd Roberts wrote about their research in preparation for the appearances of Sarah Jessica Parker and Brooke Shields respectively on the show during the 2010 season of WDYTYA. In both cases, the NEHGS researchers had to withhold information from their subjects until camera crews were recording the reactions of the subjects as they revealed their research results.

So, even though the subjects are seasoned performers, and probably could act surprised when a new fact is revealed, the producers strive to achieve as much "reality" as possible during the production of each episode.

We have heard also that some celebrities have been researched, but haven't yet appeared on the show because they can't make available a suitable block of time for the travel required by the show's format.

12 April 2011

Road Tax Plan in Avon Similar to Taxing to Pave Local Roads in 1920s

This morning's Cleveland Plain Dealer (12 Apr 2011) has an article about how the city of Avon in Lorain County plans to tax local landowners to finance the building of an interchange on I-90 at Nagel Road. The tax plan is based on the theory is that these landowners will benefit from a boost in land values when the interchange is completed. The article reports that many of these landowners are against the tax plan.

This reminds me of the situation in Brecksville in the 1920s when Route 21 was being paved for the first time. Landowners along the route and on cross roads within a certain distance from Route 21 were taxed to pay for the project. It worked a hardship on farmers in the area, and some lost their land in sheriff's sales when they couldn't afford to pay the taxes.

Knowing about the Brecksville situation of many decades ago comes from research I did on a farm family in the area. It's another example of how looking into family history helps you understand the history of an area.

CCPL Mobile App Downloaded and Working

Yes, folks, I did download the mobile app for the Cuyahoga County Library System yesterday, and it appears to be working. I used it to check the status of a couple of books that I have requested from CCPL. I'm looking forward to using the app to check out the books when they are available to me.

This morning, CCPL sent out this news release to subscribers via e-mail:

Cuyahoga County Public Library is taking convenient borrowing to a whole new level with CCPL Mobile, our new mobile app!
To download CCPL Mobile free from your app store, scan the QR Code below or visit http://ccpl.boopsie.com on your smart phone. With CCPL Mobile you can:
  • Check out books, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks and other library materials.   
  • Search for items in our catalog quickly and with minimal keystrokes. 
  • Read item reviews and summaries.
  • Access your cardholder account to renew and reserve items.
  • Use the GPS-aware locator to find Library branches and hours of operation. 
  • Text questions to KnowItNow 24x7.    
  • Connect with Cuyahoga County Public Library on Facebook and Twitter. 
  • And more...

Scan this QR Code to download CCPL Mobile for free from your app storeCCPL Mobile is available free from the app stores of all smart phone and tablet platforms, including Android, BlackBerry, J2ME, Palm OS, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile, iPhone and iPad.

Important note: I did have to download an app for Droid to read the bar code above. I found guidance for doing this on eHow.com at the following address (eHow no doubt has instructions for other smart phones as well):


The Welsh Are Coming, The Welsh Are Coming

We've just learned that the Welsh National Gymanfa Ganu Association, which puts on the National  Festival of Wales each year on Labor Day in a different part of the country, is coming to Cleveland this year. As part of the festival programming, the organization will be offering four genealogy seminars under the heading of  "Tracing Your Welsh Ancestors."  The presenter is Darris Williams who is a community manager for FamilySearch. This is an important opportunity to attend Welsh genealogy seminars.
For details on the WNGGA, go to its website at www.wngga.org. Festival details can be found on the festival website at www.nafow.org.

11 April 2011

Genealogy Work Session in Brecksville

This week, I will be conducting a free Wednesday Genealogy Work Session at the Brecksville Human Services Center between 1 and 3 pm, the first of a series.

I floated the idea for this activity  a few weeks ago with Ted Lux, Human Services Director. He thought it was a great idea. This past Wednesday, I conducted a trial work session with him and constructed a Lux Family Tree on Ancestry.com. He provided me with the names of his parents and his paternal grandparents. When we entered these names into this starter database, Ancestry quickly added "leaves" to the names indicating that there were possible record matches. In checking them out, we found records to extend his paternal line back to his great grandfather who immigrated from Prussia. He was pleased to learn where in Europe his great grandfather came from. Ted was favorably impressed with the experience and he is enthusiastically spreading the word about the work sessions to potential participants. I plan to conduct them every Wednesday through June 8.

The format will be informal, with only six participants at a time, using the three public-access computers available at the Human Services Center. I will ask them to fill out an ancestor chart with information that they know, hopefully getting information about ancestors who will be listed in the 1930 census. In addition to Ancestry, I plan to use local Internet sources such as the Cuyahoga County Historic Marriage Index, the Cleveland Public Library Necrology File, the Cleveland City-Owned Cemetery Index, and the Cuyahoga County Naturalization Index to find information about the ancestors of participants.

If participants are interested in pursuing their family history, I plan to direct them to several other sources of information, ranging from the Brecksville Historical Association, the Cuyahoga Public Library Genealogy Department at Fairview Park Library, the Western Reserve Historical Society Genealogy Center, the Cuyahoga County Archives, and the Cleveland Public Library. And they will always be able to access Ancestry Library Edition at the Brecksville Public Library.

Hopefully, we may also line up some new members for the Cuyahoga Valley Genealogical Society, chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society.

It should be interesting!

10 April 2011

Cuyahoga County Library System Goes Mobile

Here is a great local development for those of us who use the Cuyahoga County Library System and smart phones--described in a news release from CCPL: 

"During the week of April 11th we will be launching CCPL Mobile, an exciting new mobile app that will enhance our customers’ user experience and take our efforts to be the most convenient public library in the nation to the next level. With CCPL Mobile our customers will have access to the unprecedented convenience of checking out items using their smart phones.

"The CCPL Mobile app will be available to CCPL cardholders to download for free from the app stores of all smart phone and tablet platforms, including Android, BlackBerry, J2ME, Palm OS, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile, iPhone and iPad.

"With CCPL Mobile you can:

  • Check out materials.
  • Search for items in our catalog quickly and with minimal keystrokes.
  • Read item reviews and summaries.
  • Access your cardholder account to renew and reserve items.
  • Use the GPS-aware locator to find Library branches and hours of operation.
  • Text questions to KnowItNow 24x7.
  • Connect with Cuyahoga County Public Library on Facebook and Twitter.
  • And more…"

I am looking forward to downloading the app and installing it on my Droid.

Civil War in the News

Did you catch the front-page article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today? Brian Albrecht, staff reporter, wrote the article "From Generals to Soldiers, Ohioans Played Huge Role." Oh yes, the article appears with the tagline: Civil War:150th Anniversary (apparently we will see more coverage of the Susquecentennial)
The article begins with a note about the carnage at Gettysburg, Pa., in 1863 when nearly 8,000 American soldiers were killed. That grim toll is brought to the present day with the statement that it exceeds by five times the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan in the past decade.
The thrust of the article is the contribution that Ohio made to the war, in terms of manpower, leadership, and even war materials.

The article includes the following statement: "In Cuyahoga County, some 10,000 of 15,600 elgible men served in the war; 1,700 died, and about 2,000 were disabled."

Albrecht and a free-lancer, Susan Condon Love, have done a nice job compiling activities in Ohio and the Cleveland area to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. You might want to clip and save this list.

The article--and links to many other articles about the CW and its susquicentennial--is available online at http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/04/ohio_and_clevelands_role_in_th.html

07 April 2011

Research Your Civil War Ancestors

Ancestry.com is granting free access to its Civil War Research databases from today (Apr 7) through Thursday, Apr 14. You don't have to be a subscriber to do this research.

Simply go to Ancestry.com and click on the "Search Now" button in the 150th Anniversary Box.

With this acccess, you can view additional Civil War era documents, like Confederate Soldiers Compiled Services Records and Union Soldiers Compiled Services Records that have been digitized by Footnote.com. The process requires that you go to Ancestry.com (Ancestry purchased Footnote a few months ago), search for your ancestor in the Civil War record indexes, then click through and click on the Footnote.com icon to see the actual record images.

05 April 2011

Survey about Internet and Libraries, Repositories

Today I took a survey being conducted over the mail list of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

The purpose of the survey was to learn how Internet access impacts the way genealogists conduct family history research. The survey was created by Jennifer Land, a PhD candidate and a genealogist.

Jennifer will use the survey as the basis of a dissertation: "From Gravestones to Google: Information-Seeking Behaviour and Satisfaction in the Evolving Field of Family History Research."

Her aim: To find out how access to resources on the Internet impacts the way genealogists conduct family history research.

In her cover letter she explains, "I've created a web survey that will take about 10-15 minutes. This survey contains questions about your experience conducting genealogical research, the types of research tools you use, and your experience working with other genealogists." She directed me and other APG members to a survey being conducted by www.surveymonkey.com.

She promises to share the results of the survey, which compares research on the Internet with the more traditional research in libraries and repositories.

I was amazed at how my answers leaned heavily in the direction of Internet-based research recently. The results of the survey should be very informative--and put some numbers on whatever trend there might be toward Internet-based research.

04 April 2011

Military Records of 20th Century Ancestors

Tonight I am scheduled to make a presentation at the April meeting of the Cuyahoga Valley Genealogical Society, chapter of Ohio Genealogical Society. My topic: "Researching Your 20th Century Military Ancestors."

I am going to present what researchers can learn about ancestors who served in WWI, WWII, the Korean Conflict, and the Viet Nam Conflict, using resources available on the Internet.

One of the topics for discussion will be the fire in 1973 at the National Personnel Records Center that destroyed 85% of the Army records from WWI and later. I will report that these records can be "reconstructed" upon request, using medical and other records that were not harmed by the fire. A related topic will be what access genealogists have and don't have to available military records.

One of the opportunities that I am going to emphasize is to learn about ancestors who were required to register for the WWI draft. The three registrations in 1917 and 1918 created some 25 million records that act as snapshots of the registrants' lives in this period just before the 1920 census. I believe that this is an under-utilized resource, which is available on Ancestry.com and Ancestry Library Edition (available free in Libraries) for learning information about men who were born between 11 Sep 1872 and 12 Sep 1900.

In addition to Ancestry, I am going to mention research possibilities on Footnote.com, particuarly the Wall of Honor in Washington, DC, for casualties of the Viet Nam Conflict.

01 April 2011

Membership in Century Families of Ohio

Tonight, at a dinner at the Ohio Genealogical Conference, I was inducted into the Ohio Genealogical Society's brand-new Century Families of Ohio, a lineage program to honor ancestors who had lived in Ohio at least 100 years ago and back to 1851.

I wanted to file the application for this program because it gave me the opportunity to honor my paternal ancestors, Evert Huuskonen and Ida Maria Hytonen Huuskonen, immigrants from Finland in 1902 and 1903 rexpectively. I also filed information about my ancestors Wallce Betts Dingman and his wife, Grace Darling Green Dingman, and my mother, Mary Jane Dingman.

I also successfully filed an application for my wife and her ancestors James S Van Court and his wife, Mary Margaret Caroline Heinselman Van Court, and Clyde H Van Court, their son and my father-in -law. The family moved to Ohio from West Virginia in time for the 1910 census, and thus were elgible for recognition in the Century Families of Ohio.

I want to thank Margaret Cheney for for spearheading the organization of this program for OGS and for serving as chief judge for all the applications that were submitted for the charter year. The fact that 93 applications were approved is a good indication that adding the Century Families of Ohio was a great idea.

OGS is looking for a strong showing of new applicants to this program next year when the conference is being held in Cleveland, with its broad ethnic diversity.

OGS has three other lineage programs: the First Families of Ohio, the Settlers and Builders of Ohio, and the Society of Civil War Families of Ohio. I am happy to say that I have successfully filed applications for these three programs as well.

Finding and preserving the documentation required for any lineage program gives you a strong foundation for presenting your family history to other family members. I have found the process and results to be very rewarding.

If you are interested in filing for one or more of these OGS lineage programs, you can find the applications and instructions on the OGS website at www.ogs.org.