Links, 7.25.11

Hope everyone made it through the heat wave that sat on so much of the U.S. last week (what rudeness!). Hereabouts, we discovered a renewed fondness for the Italian ice (supermarket version), although I could have done with the more authentic city versions too, which I remember as highlights from childhood  trips to Brooklyn.

Successful conferencing: Congrats to Fort Wayne (and the merged talents of the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, the Allen County Genealogy Society and on the success of  the first-time Ancestry Day conference. The linked article also touts the conference’s role in generating publicity for the city’s downtown restaurants and businesses.

Old New York: The New York Times had an interesting profile of Andrew Van Dusen, real estate broker, genealogy hound and descendant of some of Manhattan’s first settlers. There’s a nice little research twist at the end, too.

Sharing is caring: Tonia at Tonia’s Roots reviews a webinar on Sharing Genealogy Electronically, finding it intriguing and informative.

Remote possibilities: I read a little too fast the other day and thought Dick Eastman had penned something called What’s Happening with Family Search? A Lesson for All of Us. I cringed — was scandal ahead? I’d have saved myself the worry had I really read the first part of the headline — Carol Smith’s Remote Presentation. Lots of good points on how easily available technology can bring expert appearances to local genealogy societies at a fraction of the cost of a traditional speaker engagement.

Tree talk: Apropos of my bullet-pointed glance at the New York Times‘ fretting about 21st-century family research, I notice a post from gay parent and genealogy enthusiast Veronica Rhodes on Creating a Modern Family Tree.

Mapping it: In case you missed this, as I did: The US Geological Survey is releasing a trove of historic topographical maps of the U.S. from 1884-2006. (h/t Leland Meitzler.)

Enjoy the week, which hopefully will be short on sweltering.

Midweek Links (Gadzooks!), 7.20.11

Seriously, I have always wanted to say “Gadzooks!” on the blog. There, that’s out of my system. You can come out of hiding now.

Midweek links? Has it taken this long to find links? I could say: “Oh, wow, it’s summer; gosh, isn’t news slow,” but the news isn’t the only slowdown here, dear readers. Perhaps I got dozy digesting calories from my stupendous birthday cake, of which more later. Also, with schoolkids home and schoolkid amusements to plan (or not plan, and get nagged about for not planning), genealogy suffers. I have so far failed to tempt them into an enchanting field trip to the New York City Municipal Archives microfilm room. They would rather go to the beach! Can you imagine!??!

Enlightening: Out of Asheville, N.C. comes an interesting article about the Melungeons, whose deep roots in Appalachia have been shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding — a situation that is finally beginning to change with exciting new research.

Loggerheads: I did enjoy the Washington Post’s engaging (and balanced) account of the tug-of-war between the DAR and a tenacious family researcher determined to prevail in a debate over his ancestor’s Revolutionary War status.

Floppy what?!: Oh, my, here’s a question for the ages: What to Do With Floppy Disks? My kids would first need an answer to the question: “What’s a floppy disk?”

YouTubing: Dick Eastman also reports on The Family History Show on YouTube, featuring videos by British experts Nick Barratt and Laura Berry of Your Family History magazine.

Archival: The Irish Echo takes a look at the researchers who field inquiries at the National Archives of Ireland in Dublin — and note, unfortunately, that funding cutbacks mean service has been reduced as well. “People have to wait, or come back if it’s busy,” a genealogist says.

Data retrieval: This blog loves it when New York City databases come to light, like Queens County Probate Records, 1899-1921 at (h/t Leland Meitzler’s Genealogy Newsline.)

Class act: Boston University is now registering for a four-week online course in Genealogical Essentials, aimed at “hobbyists and enthusiasts” who seek a solid grounding in genealogical research practices. (h/t Kimberly Powell.)

Goodbye: Not exactly genealogy news, but I feel obliged to note the passing of Borders, which finally appears to have reached the end of the road. I have fond memories of Borders, even though I could not tell you why I was fonder of it than I was of its megastore rival, Barnes & Noble. Which could be the problem, in a nutshell. That, and the electronic-books thingy. Here is Forbes weighing in with Does a Failed Borders Presage a Doomed Bookstore Business? I noted with interest the observation that Borders’ big mistake “was hiring people to work in the stores who had little or no interest in books, authors or literature.” Which, again,  doesn’t sound much different from my typical experiences at still-surviving Barnes & Noble. But what are you going to do.

Links, 7.11.11

The news flow seems slow this week. Oh well, that’s high summer for you. I did do some interesting digging in Ellis Island records last week regarding my mysterious great-aunt Kunigunde, who remains somewhat mysterious, thanks to the clerks’ um, interesting handwriting. While I’m comparing loops and swirls, here are the links.

Fore-bears: Not human genealogy, but still, an interesting DNA revelation! Scientists have figured out that the modern polar bear is descended not from Alaskan brown bears, as previous thought, but from a now-extinct species of Irish brown bear.

Forensic genealogy? Here’s how a family researcher came up with a lead in a 50-year-old murder case. Now that’s genealogical detective work.

Success stories: There is now an Irish America Hall of Fame, based in County Wexford. Michael Flatley of “Riverdance” fame opened the hall of fame at an emigrant heritage center, which is adjacent to a replica of a famine-era ship, the Dunbrody. Besides Flatley himself, other inductees include Bill Clinton, author Mary Higgins Clark and DNA research pioneer James Watson. (h/t Pat Connors, NY-Irish listserv.)

Guidance: The useful Genealogy at a Glance series has two interesting new titles: African-American Genealogy Research, by Michael Hait, and Ellis Island Research, by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. Check out the publisher summaries for more. These guides are presented in a compact, laminated-page format especially suited to research road trips.  (Via

Census trip-ups:  Tampa Bay columnist Sharon Tate Moody has a cautionary and entertaining column on census data pitfalls.

Hang-ups: In his newsletter, Dick Eastman has a flair for eyecatching headlines, and I certainly bit at Will Telephones Disappear by 2018? Interesting item on whether the country is ready to go cell-phone only. Don’t skip the comments, wherein are some very pertinent observations about the drawbacks of cell phones in areas the communications moguls have deemed unworthy of wiring for high-speed, reliable connections.

Stay cool (where applicable), and have a great week.

Links, 7.6.11

The sand and chlorine have been dealt with, I think (although both have a way of clinging no matter what you do). If you can’t quite bear to let go of the holiday weekend, take a look at the Geneabloggers Happy Independence Day thread, wherein are many ruminations on the Glorious Fourth. Meanwhile:

Burial database: Capital District (NY) researchers take note — the Troy Irish Genealogy Society has put a new database online of interments at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Troy, from 1900 through May 1910. The database includes 3,321 names; you can take a look here.

Related, Regency-style: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a famous celebrity must be in want of an equally famous long-ago relative, so aren’t you relieved that Duchess Kate is related to Jane Austen?

On the farm: The New Jersey archives have unveiled an online database of photos depicting farming in the state, part of a New Jersey Department of Agriculture collection spanning the late 19th century through the 1970s. The database is here.

Rail business: Six generations of a family working on the railroad? That’s quite a feat. The daughter of this Missouri clan who is carrying on the legacy thinks it’s pretty neat, too.

Calling all yearbooks: The Jersey City (NJ) public library has set itself an ambitious goal: to collect every yearbook from every Jersey City high school (there are 19)  since the early 1900s. I am awestruck. If you have a Jersey City yearbook hanging around somewhere and you don’t know what to do with it,  librarian Cynthia Harris, chief of the library’s New Jersey Room, can take it off your hands.

OK, it’s time for me to put the sparklers down and get some work done. Enjoy your week!

Links, 6.27.11

Big summer milestone for our family this week: the first day trip to the beach (or, as we say here in New Jersey, “down the Shore”). The waves were awesome.

Speed sleuthing: How to identify the photographer who took the images in a 69 year old album without any captions? That’s a difficult photo detective challenge. Unless  you’re the New York Times and Der Spiegel, the German newsweekly, which published some of the World War II  images online. Thanks to tips from viewers, within three hours they had an identity for the Nazi photographer who took photos of soldiers, prisoners of war and a close-up of Adolf Hitler.

More detective work: A Maine woman who found a mysterious ring inscribed” CCD to MAL, Dec. 25 1880″ on a beach in Kittery was able to return it to a descendant of the owner. Genealogists who saw news reports about the ring helped with the legwork.

Flamed: The burned courthouse is the specter that lurks in every genealogist’s nightmares. Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Kenneth Thomas offers tips on how to stop panicking and find ways around destroyed records.

Reverse migration: The New York Times also had an interesting story about why young African Americans are choosing to leave the Northeast and settle in places like Charlotte, N.C., in a turnaround from the Great Migration of the early 20th century.

Tombstone mystery: In St. Paul, Minn., authorities are puzzling over a gravestone that turned up on a city street. Spotted by a passerby, the stone is marked “Marie Olsen, 1879-1932.” Local authorities have found a few Marie or Mary Olsens who died in 1932, but none were born in 1879.

What Kudrow Thinks: Lisa Kudrow, producer of the U.S. edition of Who Do You Think You Are, discusses how she hopes a switch in category will get the show the Emmy nomination that eluded it last year — and reflects on the second season, which included Rosie O’Donnell, Vanessa Williams and Tim McGraw, among others.

Enjoy the week — can you believe Independence Day is just around the corner?

Links, 6.20.11

This, my friends, is the last week of school hereabouts. The children have been gritting their teeth for weeks at national ad campaigns implying that vast areas of the country have been vacationing for a number of weeks now — the injustice, I tell you. Finally they will join the ranks of the liberated! I wish I could say the same for myself. The links provide welcome distractions:

Savings: Thrift-minded Heather Rojas shares a number of online discounts and special offers in a June genealogy bargains roundup. A couple of them expire at midnight tonight, so check them out soon. You have a few days yet on most of them!

Behind the scenes: The Washington Post chats with Trevor K. Plante, Chief of Reference  at the National Archives.

Getting copyright right: Dear Myrtle does a brief but information-packed Q and A with FGS treasurer Cath Madden Trindle, who also knows a scary amount about copyright issues for genealogists. She will speak on this very topic at FGS’s Springfield conference. Meanwhile, read the interview and realize why publishers hire people just to work on rights and permissions.

History lessons: In Part 3 of the Genealogy for Geeks series at Wired, Jenny Williams delivers a nice piece on going beyond vitals and censuses to see what published histories can tell you about your ancestors. She puts in a plug for Google Books, which I heartily endorse.

Day at the museum: Another overlooked resource is local museums, although certainly not by Lorine McGinnis Schulze at Olive Tree Genealogy. She writes about a recent museum visit that yielded a treasure trove of information and images regarding her ancestors, and gives good tips on how to make the most of your own museum digging.

Disappearing acts: It’s frustrating when a research contact surfaces briefly and disappears, never to be heard from again, as Deborah Large Fox at Help! The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors! writes. What to do? Sometimes, not much — which is especially infuriating if you’ve shared findings with the contact in question, and they haven’t shared anything back.

Camera lineage: We talk a lot about old photos in geneablogging land, but how about old cameras? In a whimsical blog post for Mother Jones, Kevin Drum takes a journey through the history of his family’s cameras, from 1935 to the present.

Studying: From the Family Curator, an interesting portrait of 20-year-old Anthony Ray, student genealogist and scholarship recipient, at the SCGS Jamboree. Impressive!

I am off now to complete my latest work, 101 Answers to The Question: I’m Bored! What Are We Going To Do Today?

See you soon. I hope.


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