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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Entries in research (12)

    Wednesday
    Jun202012

    Book Review: From the Family Kitchen Offers Food for Thought; Win a Free Copy

     

      

    Anyone tired of fruitless searches for female ancestors may want to consider looking for the books women read, and often wrote -- community cookbooks.

    Gena Philibert Ortega is a genealogist with a cause. She wants to help researchers find women's stories. Her new book, From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes, is more than a heritage cookbook or food history. From the Family Kitchen offers something for anyone who enjoys food and family history.

    This attractive hardbound book presents readers with a basic introduction to American food and cooking traditions followed by ideas for finding your ancestor's recipes and how to decipher and use historical recipes. The book also includes a section for you to include your own heritage recipes with a ribbon bookmark to note your favorites.

    Gena's interest in women's history began with stories about her great grandmother's polygamous marriage. She wanted to learn more about women's experiences, "the history we don't hear about," she notes.

    As Gena notes, "women's history is so much different than the history we hear about in school" and women don't appear in recorded works to the extent that men are remembered.

    Genealogists are taught to use government sources, we don't use sources specific to women because many aren't indexed or easily found. I started asking, 'If you were a historian, what resources would you use to recreate women's lives?'

    Gena found the answer in signature quilts, journals, diaries, and community cookbooks, all places where women more comfortably could leave their mark. She sees community cookbooks as a rich resource that is largely ignored by researchers.

    They not only show ethnic roots, histories, and advertising, they are the voice of women. In an age when women didn't publish as much as men, community cookbooks offer so much information about women's lives. They tell what real people ate.

    I only wish From the Family Kitchen had been around a few years ago. One of the highlights of my teaching years was the opportunity to design and teach a course on women's literature. Besides the usual fiction by Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the course included a unit on women's personal writing -- diaries, journals, letters, and community cookbooks. The section on cookbooks was a huge hit the high school students at the all-girls school where I taught, and From the Family Kitchen would have been a helpful text to include as a resource.

    The girls "read" a community cookbook to develop a portrait of the women, the organization, and the community and the information they gleaned showed the books to be a rich source of information. As Gena says, "Community cookbooks are social history at its best."

    From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes,
    by Gena Philibert Ortega, (Family Tree Books, 2012) 203 pages.

    Contents

    Part 1 Discover Your Family's Food Heritage
    1 - Food Heritage 
    2 - They Brought Their Food With Them
    3 - Oysters, Peacocks, and Green Jell-O
    4 - Food Throughout Time
    5 - Cookbooks and Menus
    6 - How to Find Your Ancestors' Recipes

    Part 2 A Look Back at Historical Recipes
    7 - Decipher Old Cooking Terms
    8 - The Arts of Dining and Cleaning
    9 - Historical Recipes

    Part 3 Recipe Journal
    Record your own family recipes in this  journal section.

    Gena Philibert Ortega is a popular genealogy speaker and writer specializing in researching women's history. She holds Master of Arts Degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies (Psychology and Women's Studies) and in Religion. 

    Gena was a featured Celebrity Genealogist in the Canejo Valley Genealogical Society Cookbook, A Dash of Thyme where she contributed the recipe for her Great Grandma's Fudge. She has kindly shared the recipe with readers of The Family Curator --

    Great Grandma's Fudge

    3 (6 oz) pkgs. chocolate chips
    1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
    1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
    1/2 cup nuts, chopped
    dash salt

    In a saucepan, over low heat, melt chocolate with milk. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and nuts. Line 8-inch square pan with wax paper and spread mixture evenly over wax paper. Chill 2-3 hours until firm. Remove fudge from the pan onto a cutting board and throw away the wax paper. Cut into pieces. Store at room temperature.

    This recipe was passed on to Gena by her paternal great-grandmother, Mary Bell Chatham Philibert (1904-1988). 

    WIN A FREE COPY of From the Family Kitchen courtesy of Family Tree Books. 

    All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment after the review or Like the review on the Facebook post (one entry per name, please). I will include names from both places and one name will be randomly selected to win the book. Your name will stay in the hopper from week to week, so you will have more chances to win in the weeks to follow. The winner will be announced the following week on Facebook and on The Family Curator so you can send me your name and address to receive the book.

    If you've read the featured book, please add your thoughts or other recommendations.

    Tuesday
    May222012

    Adding Context to a Family Keepsake

    Now that I've decided to reproduce my aunt's home economics notebook, I am looking for ways to make the book more interesting and uncover any other stories related to this little keepsake. My approach isn't strictly genealogical; it's more a blend of local and family history with a dose of literary criticism from my high school English Lit teacher past.

    My purpose is to add a "sense of place" to the notebook, not to overwhelm it with facts, figures, or history. I will probably need to select the most compelling information and save the other research for background. Here's my initial brainstorm list of possibilities; feel free to leave a comment if you can add to the list.

    I used MindNode for Mac (free) to brainstorm possible topics:


    I like using a mapping tool for brainstorming, but here it is in list format:

    Franny's Food Notebook

    Food Notebook

    • Part 1 Requirements
    • kitchen how-tos
    • 50's homemaking
    • food trends
    • Part 2 Personalized
    • recipes
    • clippings
    • comments

    Author: Frances Brown

    • age 13
    • family
    • parents Frank & Arline father working?
    • 1 sister Susie
    • home address frequent moves
    • friends

    Willard School

    • junior high
    • santa ana, ca
    • new school bldg 1931
    • home economics class semester or yr long?
    • teacher?
    • what was it like? girls only?

    1944

    • home ec
    • wartime
    • orange county

    With so many possibilities to make the story richer, it will be tough to choose the best. What have I missed?

     

     

    Tuesday
    May312011

    To Stand Ready at a Minute's Warning

    9938ab45 minute man lg

    I have a confession to make: It's all about the research. The hunt. Following the trail of clues. I know it sounds a bit Nancy Drew-ish, but isn't the research one of the best parts of genealogy?

    For example, the collaborative Mathewson Project that Midge Frazel and I are investigating involves a lot of research before we can begin to synthesize it all into our working hypothesis. We are following "cold cases" and doing as much online research as possible before taking to the field. A lot of our searches come up empty, but for me at least, more than a few searches are turning out pretty darn interesting. . .

    I had no idea last week that my top task would lead me right into the duties of a Revolutionary War Minute Man, but that is exactly where I ended up yesterday, Memorial Day.

    In following the lives of Noah Mathewson's children I turned to the series of Revolutionary War Pension Applications available on Footnote.com, but those New England given names reccur so often that it's hard to make out who's who and how they are all related. I started to read all the Mathewson pension files, just to see if any names or dates popped out.

    MinuteMan

    Before long, I found it didn't really matter that William Mathewson is not one of Noah's sons, I was fascinated by the story of how he was drafted to serve in the Rhode Island Troops and how he spent the days of his service. In just a few sentences, I learned the origin of the term "Minute Man" and the duties of such service.

    . . . That he was drafted in the Year 1776 in March at Johnson County of Providence State of Rhode Island for the purpose of guarding Pawtucket and Warwick Neck. went to Pawtucket and served in the company of Capt. Emet Oney, Lieutentant Daniel Angel, Col. Waterman, served at Pawtucket two months and was discharged, but was to stand ready at a minutes warning, was drafted again at the same place to defend Warwick neck in May same year. Went to Warwick and served under the same officers as before, served two months at Warwick and was discharged as before. That he was frequently called upon as a minute man the same year to go to Pawtucket ad Warwick two or three days at a time the same year. . .

    William Matthewson, and later his wife Tabitha, had to provide testimony and witnesses in support of William's claim to service. "By reason of old age and the consequent loss of memory he cannot swear positively as to the precise length of his service," wrote the county Justice of the Peace who took his statement 30 January 1833. A shaky "X" records William's mark;  he was then about 88 years of age.

    It appears that William was eventually awarded a pension for his service as a Minute Man, standing ready at a minute's warning to guard the state's borders from attack.

    Source:

    "Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1775-ca 1900," digital images, Footnote.com (www.footnote.com: accessed 29 May 2011); entry W. 16,338 for William Matthewson (Rhode Island Troops) and widow, Tabitha; imaged from Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900, (Washington, D.C.: National Archives [n.d.]), M804.

     

    Monday
    Aug032009

    Footnote Gets Bigger and Better Every Day

    Footnote just keeps getting BIGGER and BETTER

    Footnote.com first appeared on my monitor just about the time I was gearing up for my classroom project Reading Women's Lives. It looked like a site with lots of potential, but I was a little wary of posting Arline's personal correspondence online for all to read.

    Fast-forward two and a half years and over 58 MILLION original historic documents -- the growth and impact of Footnote is monumental. As a former English teacher, I am especially excited about Footnote's potential for classroom interaction. I saw my last-semester Seniors come to life when they read and transcribed my grandmother's original correspondence. In deciphering the archaic handwriting and colloquialisms, the students became more aware of early twentieth century culture. One question led to ten more, their personal response with the original documents drove the lessons each day.

    Of course, any scholar or lover of history can interact with the documents as well; we can all be students again, excited by the discovery of learning. I am delighted to see Footnote's partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration and can only imagine the future archive content, but it is exciting to think that my contributions of obituaries clipped from 100 years ago from Midwest newspapers can be used by other Footnote readers to help answer their family history questions. That's truly collaborative learning.

    Access to the 1930 US Census is available free of charge at Footnote.com throughout the month of August; and Footnote has also extended the special membership subscription rate of $59.95 until August 10. Go to Footnote.com for more details.

    Monday
    Jul062009

    Yankee Savings at the New England Historic Genealogical Society


    The New England Historic Genealogical Society once again sent a team of experts and staff members to the recent Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank and made themselves available for research assistance as well as presenting special sessions on New England topics. Their tables were always lively and crowded; I learned that it is wise to purchase books on the first day as they sold out as the weekend progressed.

    An email from Tom Champoux, Director of Marketing, confirmed NEHGS' popularity. Tom noted that at Jamboree 2009 the team enrolled 53 new members, almost double the typical conference record, but this year's registration for new members topped even that number at 80 new memberships. It looks like a lot of Southern Californians are anxious to research their New England roots.

    If you missed the NEHGS booth or didn't attend Jamboree, you may want to consider a terrific discount offered during the month of July for new memberships. The regular research membership costs $75, but new members can enroll through the end of July for $60 -- a savings of $15. What thrifty Yankee wouldn't like that?

    More information about membership benefits is available at the NEHGS website. If you have New England ancestors or if you just love American history, this society is well worth the price of admission. With more online collections added all the time, membership at NEHGS is on the top of my renewal list.

    Tuesday
    Jun162009

    Tech Tuesday: Transcript 2.3.2 Now Supporting Side-by-Side Windows

    Jacob Boerema is the kind of software programmer that users truly appreciate. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Transcript 2.3, his thoughtful tool for transcribing documents, in Tools for Transcribing Documents. Transcript eliminates the need to have both image viewer and word processor windows open when transcribing a document. A host of helpful features make transcriptions faster and easier, from the synchronized scrolling of both image and typed transcript, to the many image enhancing options available.

    I found the program to be well-conceived overall, but added a wistful request for side-by-side windows; my landscape-oriented monitor limited the vertical real estate available for actual viewing and typing.

    When I emailed Jacob Boerema to ask if I had missed such an option, he replied that the program just didn't have that capability at present, but it would go on the "feature request" list. He is obviously very active with Transcript, because I received an email a few days ago notifying me that the a new beta version now supports this feature. Wow! I am impressed. I've never had a quicker response to "I wish. . ."

    Anyone who works with document images can benefit from Transcript's features, and now it is even more custom-rich with side-by-side window support. The newest feature is part of a beta update is 2.3.2 build 77, and can be downloaded at http://www.jacobboerema.nl/en/TranscriptBeta.htm.

    It's worth noting that the basic version of Transcript does just about everything most genealogists need and is available as Freeware. The registered version costs only 15 euro (about $20.00) and adds multiple projects, time tracking per project, auto-replacement, auto-correction, plus many more features. I am upgrading to the registered version, as much to support responsive programming as an excellent software program. Thanks, Jacob.

    Tuesday
    May262009

    Tech Tuesday: Tools for Transcribing Documents

     

    This week I've been trying out a few different tools for transcribing documents. My trip to NEHGS netted images of more than forty pages of microfilmed probate records, and as I didn't want to spend my time at the library deciphering the 19th century handwriting, I now have enough "home"work to keep me busy for a while.

     

    Before I could even begin to work with the documents, however, I had to organize the files. The microfilm image software that copied files to my flash drive used sequential numbering which was not helpful in identifying the file. Fortunately, at the advice of another researcher, I did copy the opening image of each roll as I started to work with the films, so I had some basis for my work.

    The machine also recorded TIFF copies which are good for archiving. I found it easiest to rename the files with a useful name and then make JPG copies that I could adjust for brightness and contrast. My transcription also carries the same filename, with a different extension, .doc. This keeps the image and transcriptions together in my file folder.

    To transcribe the documents I first tried the most obvious approach, open Microsoft Word and the image in MS Picture Viewer, adjust window size and get to work. I found that when I needed to adjust brightness or enlarge the document, however, I needed a more robust image viewer. I first tried Adobe Photoshop Elements 7, but quickly became frustrated by the time lag needed to open each image from the Organizer to the Edit window where I could view closer. I then tried Xnview, a freebie program that I turn to often. Using a Windows Explorer style sidebar, I could easily locate my image, magnify and adjust to my heart's content. I could also use Xnview to batch convert the image files from TIFF to JPG. With the image open in Xnview and my working transcription open in a second window with MS Word, I was quickly working through the documents.

    I then compared this setup with Transcript 2.3, a great program from a Dutch software developer. It allows you to work in one window with the image at the top and the transcription below. Transcript can be configured to scroll the image any number of pixels as you type and hit the Enter key in the transcription window. This is clearly a very useful feature, and combine with Transcript's image adjustment capabilities to make it a top transcription program. In fact, the only drawback I could find was that the windows were stacked rather than side-by-side, and this can be a problem on a small or landscape-oriented screen. I searched unsuccessfully for a way to configure the window layout, but in the end resorted to smaller font size so that I could have a larger image view.

    Both methods work well, with Transcript offering many special features appreciated by transcribers. If I had a portrait-oriented monitor I think it would be my first choice, but for now the landscape set-up with Xnview and MS Word are helping me to get the job done with my New England probate records.

     

    Saturday
    May232009

    Reviewing Archival Practices with Rebecca Fenning

    Today's column at Shades of the Departed, "Raiders of the Lost Arc[hive]" by archivist Rebecca Fenning, is a wake-up call to all Family Curators. Who ever guessed at the untold, unprocessed treasures hidden in the depths of our favorite repositories? It is both frustrating and depressing to read that hundreds, if not thousands and tens of thousands, of documents are unavailable to researchers for lack of processing.

    This rather sounds like my own "archive" of family papers. When I began organizing my grandmother's letters and miscellaneous papers, I felt the call to do things right. In so doing, I fell into the very archival abyss described by Mark A. Greene and Dennis Meissner in their report, "More Product, Less Paper." As Greene and Meissner describe it, archivists routinely process a collection by item-level handling, whether or not the collection warrants such minute attention. And, just like the good little archivist I longed to be, I foldered and refoldered every item and removed every piece of metal I encountered. And at the end of the summer, I too had only "processed" a fraction of the collection.

    In fact, I should not be suprised. According to Greene and Meissner, an email survey of archivists estimated that it should require 14.8 hours per cubic foot to process 20th century material. I figure that I have a trunk-full of stuff, about 16 cubic feet; so it should take me about 236.8 hours or 29.6 days to organize it. That would be, of course, if I was experienced and knew what I was doing, which I am not.

    And, if those figures aren't depressing enough... compare this to the time archivists actually spent processing similar materials -- "the modal average -- the most frequent value in the range -- was 33 hours per foot." It's no wonder I didn't make much headway.

    While Rebecca's article for Shades is a heads-up for researchers to remember those hidden collections, I think she is also making a point which can help Family Curators work with their own material. We need to think about how we will use a collection, and preserve and process with that goal in mind. This might mean moving forward even if we don't have funds for expensive archival storage boxes, but it also means asking good questions if we donate our collection to a repository such as a library or museum so our treasures aren't forgotten in the back room of an archive.

    Wednesday
    May132009

    Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009, Part 3: Researching at NEHGS

    Note: This is Part 3 of a three-part review "Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009" focusing on the three-day program and the one-on-one consultation sessions.
    Part 1: Preparing to Research
    Part 2:Consulting with the Experts

    Three full days of research at the New England Historical Genealogical Society Library may sound like quite a bit of research time, but it is not surprising that it is still not quite enough. Day One I spent mostly in consultations with the NEHGS experts. The Library was open in the evening, but I left about 5pm to join my husband for dinner, and did not take advantage of the extra research time.

    I vowed to be Focused on Day Two, and went to work immediately after Josh Taylor's excellent presentation on source citation. I have always been a "browser" and took full advantage of the library's open stack policy to examine the volumes on hand for my localities of interest. A handy photocopy machine made quick work of copies for my records, and then I was off to the microtext room where I was pleased to discover the full-text films of the Vermont probate records. Julie Otto helped me conquer my fear of film machines and before long I was making digital copies of the films to examine more closely when I returned home.

    Day Three promised considerable progress, but I had to leave the program at noon and could only attend the morning lecture by Judy Lacey on manuscripts in the HisGen archive collection. Her excellent presentation gave me so many ideas for further research: I would like to return and examine some of the letters, diaries, and journals in the collection with an eye toward finding friends or relatives of my ancestors. I was awed by the extent of the Society's collection; there will be wonderful discoveries in the years to come from this archive.

    So, what will I research on my NEXT visit?

    Local Histories
    Maps and Gazetteers
    Manuscript Collection
    more Family Histories
    Probate Records
    Military Records

    I was determined to use NEHGS resources that are unique to the Library, yet I found myself reading microfilms (can't I get these elsewhere?) and examining various printed volumes. When I returned home and did an internet search at World Cat for the same volumes I found that I would have to request the films from the local LDS Family History Center or visit NEHGS! This reaffirmed my appreciation for the HisGen collection, and made me more than a bit jealous for those researchers who live within easy driving distance of the library. I was also pleased that I had been able to use the digital copy machine to make copies of the microfilms I examined; this will give me many more hours of research time from home as I transcribe documents with the aid to computer enhanced images.

     

    Of course, the online databases also provide unique access to the NEHGS collections. I have found my ancestors in the Rhode Island Vital Records Index, in the Newspaper Archive collection, and in various other digitized resources. The recent addition the indexed TAG articles with The NEHGS Register make this resource indispensable for any researcher working with New England records.

    My experience at HisGen not only extended my pedigree, it also helped me feel confident to tackle research elsewhere. I think this was one of the greatest benefits of the program, I practiced "learning to learn." Thank you NEHGS.

    Friday
    May082009

    TAG Now Available Online Through NEHGS

    One more good reason to be a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society -- The American Genealogist (TAG) is going online thanks to a new collaboration in which NEHGS will digitize back issues of the journal and make them available at the Society website, NewEnglandAncestors.org.

    Founded in 1922 by Donald Lines Jacobus, TAG is edited by a trio of NEHGS members: Dr. David L. Greene, FASG, past recipient of the Society’s Coddington Award of Merit; Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, director of the NEHGS Great Migration Study Project; and Joseph C. Anderson II, FASG, who is also editor of The Maine Genealogist. These distinguished genealogists, along with dozens of highly-regarded contributors, uphold and advance the standards for genealogical scholarship so carefully articulated by Jacobus and the Jacobus “School.”
    Volumes 1-8 of TAG covering 1923-1832 are already available online at the NEHGS website under the title “Families of Ancient New Haven.” The new searchable database adds Volumes 9–13, published between 1933 and 1937. Additional volumes are slated to be published through Volume 82, at which time new volumes will be added to keep the database current. The most recent five years will not be available online.

    This is great news for genealogists worldwide who can now access the wealth of information in TAG through the internet. Randy Seaver included the full press release at Genea-Musings today; I second his enthusiasm about this new collaboration, and hope that we see even more journals "go digital" in the future.

    Wednesday
    May062009

    Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009, Part 2: Consulting with the Experts

     

    Note: This is Part 2 of a three-part review "Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009" focusing on the three-day program and the one-on-one consultation sessions. In "Part 1: Preparation" I address some of my own questions before attending the program and review registration and pre-event preparation. In Part 3, I will discuss research opportunities at NEGHS.

     

    Mention "bricks" to a genealogist, and the image of a brick wall appears, followed by proposed strategies for climbing or demolishing the obstacle. But there is another use for bricks as well, one used with great care and skill by the staff at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. My experience at the 2009 Spring Getaway demonstrated the value of building a firm research foundation that can withstand any amount of weight as the evidence grows, brick upon brick.

    Day One of the program, attendees met in the second floor education center the library. Conversation was already lively when I arrived and the room full of participants and friendly staff members. The program began with introductions from each member of the entire staff. I had stopped by briefly the day before and met a few people; it was helpful to see them again and put a name with a face. Staff members introduced themselves and explained their responsibilities at the Society or outlined their areas of expertise. From Event Coordinator, to Archivist, to Genealogist, to CEO, the entire staff were present to offer their assistance.

    Then it was the participants' turn to briefly introduce themselves and their goals for the session. Attendees came from New England, Tennessee, West Virginia, New York, Colorado, and California. Some participants had also attended the NEHGS research trip to Washington D.C. and were now ready to conduct more research at the Society Library.

    Marie Daly, Library Director, opened the lecture series with a virtual tour of the library collections. The Library itself is spread out over six floors in an former bank building on Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay. The old teller's windows are still visible in the wood-panelled Reading Room on the first floor, but a modern elevator eases access between floors. The second floor holds the Education Center, a spacious room well-equipped for audio-visual presentations, receptions, and meetings; and the third floor holds Staff and Administrative offices. The Society's collections are housed on the first floor (International Books), fourth floor (microtext documents), fifth floor (local history), fifthA Floor (special collections), and sixth floor (open stacks and reading room). Marie's armchair tour was an efficient way to become familiar with the general layout of the library and the collections.

    Following the lecture, participants were invited to sign up for individual consultations with the HisGen resident experts, what Ryan Woods likened to the legendary "Running of the Bulls." Good manners ruled the day, and I found open appointment times even as one of the last to sign the sheets. I was especially impressed with the staff's good-natured willingness to assist attendees at unscheduled times, and found them to be helpful and patient with my questions.

    My consultation schedule for the first day was rather full, but it left me with lots of ideas for research on the second day, and a few remaining consultations. I was able to meet individually with several NEHGS staff members during the program, and look forward to working with the experts I missed in the future, among them Marie Daly, David Dearborn, David Lambert, Michael Leclerc, Gary Boyd Roberts, and Tim Sallis.

    First, I spoke with Joshua Taylor from the Research Services Department, who offered his experience with technology and website creation. We discussed copyright protection through PDF watermarks and he gave me some ideas for design and marketing with The Family Curator blog.

    Later in the day I met with Judy Lucey, Assistant Archivist, to discuss preserving my own collection of family papers and photographs. It seems that as much as I have read about preservation, I still had questions, and it was helpful to talk pointedly with an expert in the field. Judy told me about HisGen's own archival protocol for working with historic photographs, and suggested some ways that I could economically and easily organize my collections.

    I was organizing my papers (and my thoughts) in the sixth floor reading room, when D. Brenton Simons, President and CEO of the Society stopped to chat. I was so glad to have the opportunity to talk with him about publishing opportunities for my research, and hope to pursue some of these ideas in the future.

    I also met with Julie Otto, Genealogist, and solicited her help over and over in my attempts to master the microfilm reader and scanner. Eureka! We did it. Julie is a phenomenol resource with unlimited enthusiasm. She seems to know just where to find any probate record or local history, and was always ready to help, even during a late-night, last-night marathon session. It was fun to discover that we were nearly born in the same hospital (Queen of Angels, Los Angeles) during the same week of the same year (I'm not telling!). Maybe genealogy was in the stars that year!

    My final "official" consultation was with Rhonda McClure, one of my favorite authors. I showed Rhonda the first few pages of a 1852 court case that had me stumped: Heirs of James Winsor vs. Calvin French et. al. With some deciphering, we determined that my ancestor James Winsor, appeared to be "intemperate" (i.e. a man who liked his liquor) and that after his death his estate had been presented with many bills, among them bills to his father-in-law who seems to have paid for his "board and other things" for nearly two years. Funds were deposited in a Rhode Island bank from the sale of Vermont property, and any number of claims and settlements seem to have been litigated. I had been focusing on researching the problem in Vermont, but Rhonda encouraged me to pursue Rhode Island connections, opening the door to a wealth of available documentation and research. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and I left our discussion charged for action.

    I had only one more "Have to meet" on my list, and I was able to find Chris Childs in a free moment to explain a "Childs" research problem. My mother and I met Chris briefly at last year's Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, and Mom was sure that "of course he's our cousin" Chris Childs would know just how "our Fanny Childs" fit in the big picture. We knew our ancestor Henry Winsor had married Fanny Childs, but we couldn't find her parents. With information from Aunt Mercy about Fanny's supposed father David Childs, Chris found her in the Childs, Childe family genealogy book; the problem was that she was young enough to be his grand-daughter. Aunt Mercy's note about a second wife gave us a clue, and by searching her name we found a likely family in the next census where the widowed mother was living with a child Fanny's age. A wonderful push in the right direction, thanks to Chris' knowledge and work with the Child/Childe family line. As icing on the cake, Chris then showed me the connection in Ancestors of American Presidents by Gary Boyd Roberts with charts prepared in part by Christopher Challender Child from originals by Julie Helen Otto. It would seem that Fanny is leading us on to other family connections. Maybe Aunt Mercy knew a thing or two after all.

    In his introductory remarks, Ryan Woods noted that availability and expertise of the NEHGS staff is one of the hallmarks of HisGen programs, and I must add my applause to his remarks. The knowledge, enthusiasm, and patience of each genealogist and staff member I met excelled my expectations. My philosophy for attending workshops, classes, seminars is simple, "If I learn one new thing, it's worth the price of admission." Sometimes, I learn two new things, and feel elated. I attended the Spring Research Getaway hoping to learn one or two new things about researching my New England ancestors; my experience showed that the program was a bargain. I learned foundation-building skills that are invaluable, met scores of helpful, knowledgeable people, and feel confident to tackle the next research goal with enthusiasm and focus.

    Read More about NEHGS Spring Getaway

    Part 1: Preparing to Research

    Part 3: Researching at NEHGS

     

     

     

    Thursday
    Apr302009

    Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009, Part 1: Preparing to Research

    Note: This is Part 1 of a three-part review of my recent research trip to NEHGS. I have tried to address some of my own questions before attending the program for those who are considering research at the Library, and hope my comments are helpful. In Part 2, I will review the one-on-one consultation sessions, and in Part 3, I will discuss research opportunities at NEGHS.

     

    It has been one of my long-time goals to research my family history at the New England Historical Genealogical Society, and this month I was able to take advantage of the Spring Research Getaway offered each year by NEHGS. I classify myself as an Advanced Beginner in genealogical research, and I knew that I would benefit from an orientation and assistance in using the extensive collections at HisGen.

    The three-day Spring Research Getaway promising guided research with one-on-one consultations and special access to the collections appeared to be well-suited for my needs, and I was not disappointed. My experience with NEHGS was very positive from my first correspondence in January. Questions were answered promptly, and information about the program was directed to help me be successful in my research goals.

    I admit that I was quite nervous about attending the program; concerned that my research goals would be either too "big" or too "small." Although I have a graduate degree and know my way around a university library, I've always felt intimidated by microfilm readers and was sure that I would have an awful time with those monsters. I was also traveling alone for part of the trip, which is its own issue. Happily, by the time I left home for Boston I felt ready to research and confident that I would be able to accomplish at least some of my goals.

    Shortly after registering for the program I recieved an email letter and several attachments from Ryan Woods, Director of Education. In addition to travel information, schedule, and liability waiver, the packet included a Participant Interest Sheet. The accompanying "Tips for Completing Your Partipant Interest Sheet" was a mini-couse in how to write research goals: what to include, what NOT to include, and samples of well-written research questions.

    The schedule showed that we would have time for scheduled consultations with NEHGS experts, and time for personal research.

    A few weeks before the program, I received a packet in the mail with a copy of each participant's research sheet, a list of the consulting staff with notes on their areas of expertise with accompanying Facebook-style photo, a guide to the library, and information about Boston and the library vicinity.

    After laboring over my Interest Sheet I asked for a quick review from Midge Frazel, who has researched at HisGen. She gave me the go-ahead and a huge lead on our potentially-common ancestors.

    I also spent some time online at the NEHGS website. As a member, I was able to access the database resources and do some catalog look-ups for books I might want to investigate. I also viewed the Library orientation material so that I would have some idea of what was available where.

    I am glad that I took time to work on my research goals and review the program materials, so that I was able to move foward even after losing my laptop enroute to the program. Ryan Woods was helpful in working out alternate strategies for using computers at the library and took time to give me a brief tour when I stopped in the day before the program began. When I arrived on Day 1, I was ready to hit the ground running.

    Read More about NEHGS

    Part 2 - Consulting With the Experts

    Part 3 - Researching at NEHGS