Links, 2.29.12

“Is February Too Soon to Re-Resolve?” was the question posed today at our hyperlocal news site. A truly seasonal headline, that. Even though, with Leap Year Day upon us, it might more accurately be asked if it’s too late to re-resolve.

Remembering the Ladies: You learn something new every year, and what better to learn in time for Women’s History Month than the fact that a woman was the first printer to publish the Declaration of Independence with a list of signers’ names? News to me. The story of Mary Katherine Goddard is interesting, and inspiring.

Shout-out to My Fellow Garden Staters: If you are near or in Westfield, N.J. next Thursday afternoon (March 8), don’t miss the chance to hear a talk by on Irish family research by Claire Keenan Agthe, Vice President of the Genealogical Society of New Jersey. I had the opportunity to hear Claire speak last year at Drew University, and it is safe to say she knows her stuff.

A Considered Opinion: Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby weighs in with a thoughtful and forthright take on the controversy over Mormon baptisms by proxy of Jews.

Happy Upcoming Birthday to Lorine McGinnis Schulze’s Olive Tree Genealogy website, which is about to turn sweet sixteen. You read that right – 16! That’s like, 260 in Internet years. Congratulations, and many successful years to come.


Links, 2.15.12

Apologizing: Very interesting article in the Deseret News about the LDS addressing the case of a church member “who last month had a posthumous proxy baptism performed for the parents of famed Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal.” Said church member’s access to the church’s genealogy database has been suspended, and an apology issued.

Prognostications: At Genea-Musings, Randy Seaver posts some thought-provoking words from Jeffrey Bockman (among other things, a past president of the Illinois State Genealogical Society) on The Future of Genealogy.

Generationally Speaking: Oh, thank you, Dick Eastman, for pointing out this exceptionally cool extended generation story! It is almost better than the one about John Tyler’s grandchildren!  U.S. News and World Report has a story on the last two Civil War pensions still being paid, both to children of veterans. The recipients are reportedly in poor health. The article notes that the last Civil War veteran died in 1956, aged 109, and the last Civil War widow died in 2003, aged 93.


Variant or Deviant? (A Respectable Post, Really)

To those who thought they were settling in for a post about a particularly troubled ancestor:

The headline refers to surname categorization. Sorry!

I am thinking of taking a one-name study course. I need to decide if I have the chops (and the desire, honestly) to launch an in-depth investigation of my birth surname. Said surname, Haigney, is Irish, but given some of the quizzical looks I got from Irish people in Ireland when I mentioned it to them, it doesn’t have the hail-fellow-well-met cachet of my marriage surname, Lynch.

One thing I was curious about was whether the Haigney surname would be a decent candidate for a one-name study, and it may well be, according to some of the guidelines put forth by the Guild Of One Name Studies.

A one-name study doesn’t exclude genealogical data, but it does go beyond strictly genealogical concerns to examine the characteristics of the name itself. For instance, does it come from a specific place, an occupation, a landmark? Where in the world does it occur? Are there significant clusters in specific places?

Also of interest: Is the surname a variant or a deviant? For the Guild, a variant is a true alternative to the surname’s primary spelling — a spelling that the surname’s bearers themselves actually used in signatures on wills or other documents, or a spelling that officials used consistently over a period of years. A deviant is more of a one-off, a clerical or transcription error. Obviously you don’t want to waste study time chasing a deviant spelling that may in fact be the product of one long-ago census-taker’s fevered imagination.

For my surname, I can easily see both situations occuring over the 150-year period I’ve been studying. The “Haigney” spelling seems to be a true variant of the primary spelling of “Heagney.” But there have been some wing-ding deviant spellings, such as the “Haggerny” under which my great-great-grandfather Martin is indexed in the 1900 U.S. federal census.

At the moment I think my primary motivation for a one-name study is curiosity. Before the Internet came along, the honest belief in my particular Haigney clan was that we were basically it. There were vague rumors of Haigneys who “weren’t our people” somewhere else on the East Coast of the United States, but who knew what those people were up to. We simply didn’t personally know any other Haigneys outside of our Brooklyn-based bunch. Beyond wondering whether a strange virus had eliminated all other Haigneys from Planet Earth, there didn’t seem to be much we could do about it.

Today, of course, a quick Google dispels the Haigney Armageddon theory in a couple of seconds. We are no longer our own familial version of I Am Legend. But where did the name originate, and where has it migrated? An interesting topic, I think. I’m just trying to decide if I have the time to do the job right.


Links, 2.8.11

The Federation of Genealogical Societies announces a Stop ID Theft NOW! campaign, calling upon the Internal Revenue Service to do its job and use the Social Security Death Index for its original purpose, reducing fraud.

Also: More ways to step up and advocate for records access, via Kimberly Powell.

Because it’s always nice to read about success, and maybe get inspired in the bargain: Diane at GenealogyInsider posts about her recent genealogy winning streak.

The third Season of Who Do You Think You Are? is under way, with Martin Sheen featured in Episode One. Next up: Marisa Tomei goes to Italy on the trail of an ancestral murder mystery. Preview here.


Upgrading to Society 2.0

Too hard.

Too costly.

Those are two simple but tenacious thoughts that stop many historical and genealogical societies from reaching for technological solutions to grow  in fundraising and membership.

This sort of thinking carries a cost, though, said Thomas McEntee, genealogist, blogger and safe to say, definitely not a technophobe. Speaking Thursday at a Federation of Genealogical Societies- sponsored lunch at Rootstech 2012, McEntee gave compelling reasons to believe that growing an online presence is essential to keeping an organization healthy.

The new members societies need to grow are not going to be pushing paper, McEntee said. The younger generations are growing up with social media as a fait accompli, of course, but Baby Boomer retirees are likely to be computer literate in unprecedented numbers.

What is the result? “Technology is the new member bait,” McEntee said, adding flat out that as far as he was concerned, if it involves filling out a paper form and mail in a check, “I’m not going to join your society.”

After the tough love, he shared some examples of low-cost ways societies can get in touch with their technological side – including the obvious ideas like websites, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Not so obvious, however, is the notion that tech upgrades don’t have to break the bank. There are low-cost options to explore – some actually free, like webly.com, which will host up to two websites gratis. Or, to name another example, it’s possible to do a free online survey through GoogleDocs, McEntee said.

Other resources aren’t free, but may have friendly pricing options, like ConstantContact.com, an email-marketing service that offers a price schedule geared to nonprofits. (McEntee cited examples from societies who use email blasts to deliver their newsletters.) Another interesting idea was TechSoup.org, where 501c3 organizations can find software and equipment at low cost after undergoing a qualification process.

It was an eye-opening and ultimately optimistic look at high-tech approaches without high-end price tags.


Just In From The DNA Beat …

The Deseret News reports today that GeneTree of Salt Lake City has unveiled Y-19 DNA testing. They call it the “differentiator” that can be helpful at filling in details within a known family grouping. Full article here.

And later today I hope to write a bit about my day at Rootstech.


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