Links, 5.31.11

The flags flew, the barbecues went into overdrive, the white shoes came out. Goodness, how exhausting. Time for some soothing links.

Write idea: I love seeing Kimberly Powell sing the praises of Scrivener, a tool which makes sprawling writing projects manageable with an interface that gathers all sorts of research materials  in one easily accessible place. I first learned about Scrivener through a novel-writing group and now it’s a family thing. Mr. Archaelogist uses it for insurance industry research reports. Our resident students have used it for grade school papers. Check out Kimberly’s thoughts on how genealogists can use it too.

Jump in: Another swimsuit edition for the Carnival of Genealogy! John Newmark of Transylvanian Dutch offers a snazzy entry.

Memory bank: The Guardian describes how the British Library is opening a window on a ‘national memory’ with a digital newspaper archive.

Marking up: Interesting post from James Tanner about Wikitext.

False cheer: An intriguingly scathing letter to the Irish Times begs to differ on the “positive portrayals of the Irish diaspora in the United States.” It’s more a reaction to general misty-eyed rhapsodizing about Celtic lads and lasses making good than to the zillion stories about the Obamas’ ancestry that overran Ireland last week.

Help wanted: There is an opening for a full-time genealogist at the D.A.R.’s Registrar Office in Washington, D.C. (Imagine if The Office had taken place there!  On second thought, maybe not.)  h/t Leland Meitzler.

Enjoy the week!


Memorial Day Greetings

1943, Pharmacist Mate School, U.S. Coast Guard Manhattan Beach Training Station, Brooklyn, N.Y.

In honor of Memorial Day, a photo of my dad and his training station mates during World War II. My father, Peter Haigney, is kneeling in the front row on the right. Here’s to all the veterans in everyone’s families, and best wishes for a safe and sunshine-filled Memorial Day.

P.S. The links will be back tomorrow!

Pointless Fun: My Cat Does Not Like Genealogy

In which my cat Mac* expresses his opinion of a National Archives video I was viewing. I do not share Mac’s sense of this presentation, you understand. I found it a good introduction to NARA’s records on Regular Army personnel, as opposed to volunteer personnel.

What do cats know?

*Mac is not named after my preference in computers. That would be totally clichéd. He’s named after a movie character (which is not at all a cliché’! Nope!) — Dr. MacDhui, played by Patrick McGoohan in The Three Lives Of Thomasina. And yes, Mac has a sister named Thomasina. Whaddya gonna do.

Announcement: Spring Genealogy Seminar (GSNJ)

Hurry, hurry; get to a meeting or a seminar before everybody closes up and goes fishing for the summer. If you’re in New Jersey, you’re in particular luck. Check out the Spring Genealogy Seminar 2011 hosted by the Genealogical Society of New Jersey. It’s another full day of presentations, this time at the College of New Jersey campus in Ewing. Here’s the rundown:

Morning Sessions:

• Megan Smolenyak, Trace Your Roots With DNA: Learn how Y-DNA and mt-DNA testing can shed light on your family tree, as well as what newer testing methods can tell you.

• Laura H. Congleton, Identifying and Researching Civil War Ancestors: How to best use federal, state and family records, and what common pitfalls to avoid.

Afternoon Sessions:

• Carol Sheaffer and Nancy Nelson, Don’t Forget the Ladies: Finding and Identifying the Women in Your Past: Enhance your understanding of family history by uncovering the female legacy in a variety of sources.

• Laura H. Congleton, Welcome to the Club: An Introduction to Lineage Societies: A primer on things society-related, from membership requirements to record repositories.

Genealogical Society of New Jersey, Spring Genealogy Seminar 2011. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 4, 2011, The College of New Jersey Science Complex, 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing, NJ.  Register by May 28 to ensure lunch and sessions choices. For more information and to download a brochure, see the GSNJ website.

Links, 5.23.11

Good morning, and happy to be here, as I always am. I am glad that this weekend was marked by a non-event, despite all those billboards. I wasn’t raised on Rapture theology, mind. We Catholics tend to like the passage about never really knowing the day or hour, and being ready anyway, especially if you’re a virgin and in charge of the lighting.

I was doing a fair share of smirking about all the non-eventfulness, until I read this piece and decided to stop. What’s the point of smirking, anyway? The world is still turning, and we still have work to do.

Onward, links.

Road trip: I don’t normally think “genealogy” and “Vanity Fair” in the same sentence, but everything’s bound to come up sooner or later. Like VF reporter David Kamp’s account of his family history travels to South Carolina with rapper 50 cent.

Technicalities: Kimberly Powell writes a nice introduction to the Tech Tips blog, along with a number of other potentially useful sites for anyone interested in ramping up their knowledge of exciting new devices and social media.

Ramped-up Gramps: Also, this is as good a place as any to mention that Gramps has come out with Portable 3.2.6.

Times-ly: And … The New York Times jumps in with a piece on Finding Family History Online, featuring a quote from über-Geneablogger Thomas McEntee. The article is kind of a mish-mosh — oops, I meant to say “round-up” — throwing together various 21st-century enhancements to the genealogy experience, like FarmVille, Facebook, Twitter and WikiTree, and giving them all about equal time. Not a bad piece to root about in. I especially liked the bit about Timeless Footsteps, with which you could embed scannable, biographical information on ancestral tombstones.

Casting: Are you, or is someone you know, a former WWII crewmember on a B-24 or a B-17? Dick Eastman reports that the Collings Foundation wants to line up interviews for a television show they’re putting together called The Last Liberator.

Retracing: I’m truly impressed by this story by the Detroit News’ Francis X. Donnelly about a Polish genealogy group’s 20-year effort to recreate a manifest of names and burial locations in an aging Detroit cemetery. Early burials were especially challenging — records had been lost, so the group used death certificates, library research and monument sales records to fill the gap. A heartening story for anyone who has an undocumented cemetery to cope with.

Scandal re-examined: Another wonderful genealogy sleuthing story by Betty Malesky — she unravels the tale of her great-great grandmother’s scandalous 1865 divorce and finds that all is not quite as the official court papers would make it seem.

O’Really?: The Irish Times explains  how research on both sides of the pond clarified the history of President Obama’s Irish ancestry.

O’Earworms: OK, have you heard the Friday Song? That’s a Wikipedia link there, not the actual song. I would never link to that song. (You’re welcome.) I will, however, link to the lyrics that apparently have taken over the Irish airwaves during President Obama’s visit.

(Excerpt: “He’s as Irish as bacon/And cabbage and stew/He’s Hawaiian he’s Kenyan/American too.” Click through if you dare.)

Bonus points to anybody who recognized the engraving right away. Yes indeed, it’s one of Albrecht Dürer’s Foolish Virgins. Ten points, and have a great week!

Old-Photo Questions, Google-Style Answers

Oh, those wacky Internets. They can do genealogy harm. (See: Online Tree Synthesis, Or How I Traced My Lineage Back To The Goddess Athena In Only Two Weeks. Fictional title. I hope.) But they can also do great good.

Plain old Googling, for example, helped me tease out a context for some World War II photos of my father’s — including the great dog picture I posted a few days ago.

The pictures date from my father’s Coast Guard service.  All I know about them is what my mother told me: They were taken in Europe by my father at some point. There is no identifying information on the backs. They’re a bit of a mystery. But a  few weeks ago I decided this was an unscientific and downright wimpy attitude. Time to take a systematic look at these old pictures.

Some of the pictures just made me smile.

I knew they were taken at Le Havre – brilliant deduction, this! (Note the tongue-in-cheek mileage markers.)

And I noticed that the pretty tower in the background of the photo with the dog looked the same as the tower in this picture, below.

Also I noticed the big “61” on the ship behind the rubble in the shot below.

Here’s what I found when I went looking for clues about these visual hints.

Clue: Source (And What It Told Me)
The “61” on the side of the ship.
  1. Dad’s Coast Guard discharge papers, which mention that he served on the U.S.S. Monticello.
  2. A history of ships named U.S.S. Monticello, available as a Google Document. There were three – one built in 1858 that served during the Civil War; Dad’s ship from World War II, No. AP 61; and LSD-35, which sailed the South Pacific during SEATO operations in the 1950s and 60s and did service in Vietnam.
The Le Havre sign.
  1. Again, Dad’s discharge papers. They noted “yes” in the space that asked “Foreign service in World War II?”
  2. This .pdf file from the Coast Guard, detailing Monticello’s  comings and goings during World War II.  Monticello journeyed to Le Havre during my father’s time aboard, arriving on Nov. 17, 1945.
The tower on the partially bombed-out building. There’s a cross on the spire of the square tower.
  1. Probably a major church, right? So I googled “Le Havre” and “cathedral” and got the Wikipedia entry for Cathedrale Notre-Dame Du Havre.
  2. And here’s my tower, happily rebuilt from the wartime rubble.

My dad died when I was 23, long before I got serious about genealogy and, sadly, before I felt comfortable talking to him about his past. So these bits and pieces of information are oddly comforting. As I write up my notes on this album, it’s nice to be able to say something more than “Dad’s photos, taken someplace during World War Two.”

Newspaper Database: Troy (N.Y.) 1834-38

I’m quite excited, and not just because it’s the second time in as many weeks that I’ve managed to sneak a reference to the Whig Party into the blog. The Troy Irish Genealogy Society has a new addition to its Troy Newspaper Project:

The Troy (N.Y.) Daily Whig, Deaths and Marriages, 1834-1838

This is the sixth data set added to the newspaper collection, and includes 821 reports of deaths and the names of 1,749 brides and grooms. All of it is from a period that considerably predates 1880, when civil registration became law in New York State.

Project coordinator Bill McGrath shared these highlights:

• Most of the records are from the Capital District area, i.e., Troy and neighboring cities such as Albany, Watervliet (West Troy) and Schenectady.

• A significant number of records came from nearby states such as Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.

• In the next few months, the society plans to add more of the 28,000 death and marriage records reported in 40 years of the Troy Daily Whig from  1839-78. They’re also working on a database of 4,000 burial records from St. Mary’s Cemetery in Troy.