May is Preservation Month: “This Place Matters” (and a very cool NYC website!)

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is once again commemorating National Historic Preservation Month in May. This year’s theme is “This Place Matters.”

I liked the theme, so I googled that phrase to see if there were a lot of events planned. I did run across several, and was also rewarded with a really neat website. While it doesn’t appear to be affiliated with Preservation Month, it certainly captures the spirit.

The site focuses on New York city and is called “Place Matters: A Census of Places that Matter.” Visitors can nominate a place and share their stories about it. Photos are available for some of the places, and some have multiple reviews and stories attached to them. Places covered range from St. Patrick’s Cathedral to a corner diner in Brooklyn to the Battle of Brooklyn burial site (which is sadly only marked by a plaque on the side of a building).

The site requires a free Adobe flash download. The list is searchable and you can filter by borough and neighborhood. Plus, there are several featured searches that will give highlights (e.g., Highlights in Central Brooklyn, The Revolutionary War in NYC, Place that Matters of the Week, etc.).

I spent a while browsing through and if you have roots in New York City, I highly recommend giving it a peek. Click here to access Place Matters: The Census of Places that Matter.

Click here to learn more about National Preservation Month in May and what you can do.

APG to Conduct Roundtable on Open Records Access

WESTMINSTER, Colo., April 21 – The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) will conduct a roundtable on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 during the National Genealogical Society Conference at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri.  The topic of the roundtable, which will be moderated by David Rencher, CG, is Into the Future with the Records Preservation and Access Committee. The roundtable will be held from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm in the Chouteau A&B rooms.

Beverly Rice, CG, Roundtable Coordinator, encourages members to attend saying, “This is an opportunity for all conference attendees to become aware of our genealogy communities’ combined efforts to maintain access and preserve the world’s records.  The topic of records preservation and access is of such importance to the genealogical community that APG has opened this roundtable to all interested individuals.”

The roundtable is normally open only to APG members; however, because of the importance of the topic all genealogists and interested parties are invited. In addition, the roundtable is an ideal time for APG members to network, share ideas and learn how other professionals market themselves.  Continue reading

Weekly Planner: Catalog Your Heirlooms

JulianaAs keeper of the family history, you probably have some family heirlooms scattered around your house. Have you ever taken the time to note their significance? Why not create your own catalog, complete with digital photographs. Tell who the original owner was, whether it was a gift on a special occasion, and any story about the item? You will be helping to ensure that the item doesn’t end up on a flea market table once you’re gone, and you can also store a copy of your catalog off-site for insurance purposes.

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To Keep or Not to Keep? by Juliana Smith

As in many of your homes I’m sure, spring cleaning is well underway in my house (much to my daughter’s chagrin!). Closets, cabinets, drawers, and shelves are being reorganized and we are making regular trips to the Goodwill store with drop-offs. I’m also doing a gradual spring cleaning in my office. I had to move some things around to accommodate the new all-in-one printer/scanner I got for my birthday and decided it was time to go through some of the storage boxes I had stashed under the printer stand.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about being a gatherer and the positive side of that practice.  The downside to it is that it can lead to an overabundance of papers that can quickly become overwhelming. Every so often we need to go back and take stock of what we’ve gathered and clear some things out. In some cases it may mean letting go of things we don’t need. Yes, I mean actually throwing things out. (Gasp!) I know, it goes against the grain. After all, we’re the preservers of our family history. We should be preserving everything, right?

Well, maybe not. I read a post a while back on Sally Jacobs’s “Practical Archivist” blog that stuck with me. The article was talking about photographs, but is totally relevant to other family history materials as well. Accompanying the article was this warning sign:

“Caution: Keeping everything means that someone else decides what gets tossed later.”

Scary stuff! It made me really think about not only what I kept, but where I kept it. So this week, let’s take a look at some ways we can dispose of some of our excesses, so that someone doesn’t overdo it for us down the line.

Storing the Maybes
I typically keep a separate section in the back of my family binders for those folks that may be related–“the maybes.” Keeping them there is convenient, but in cases where they are starting to take over, I am moving them to a different binder. I’m also going through them and actually getting rid of some that I know I don’t need anymore. For example, once upon a time we found a record that gave one ancestor’s maiden name as Nesen. For year we collected every scrap we could find on Nesen, Nessen, Nesson, etc. Turned out that was a typo. Her maiden name was Nelson. Do I really need to keep all the Nessens now? No. The Nesens are off to the recycle bin. Continue reading

Celebrate Volunteers during April, by Paula Stuart Warren

April is National Volunteer Month, and 27 through April 3 May is National Volunteer Week in both the U.S. and Canada. This month is a perfect time to think about something we can do.

The Genealogy Connection
In March I wrote about April being Volunteer Month and included some ideas for volunteering in the areas of history and genealogy. Readers were asked to share their efforts. You really responded. Here are a few examples from that correspondence:

~ Norma Nyberg of Columbia, Missouri, who calls herself a proud member of the Genealogical Society of Central Missouri, recently completed copying and typing the biographical sketches in the 1882 “History of Boone County, Missouri,” so they could be uploaded onto the society’s website. This history is still available for purchase from the local historical society.
~ Eva Burns Bachman of Lincoln, Nebraska, wrote that she is volunteering for the Nebraska State Historical Society in their Library/Archives room assisting researchers. She is also updating the Community of Christ, Lincoln Congregation, “Memory Book” by researching obituaries and family stories about members who have passed away in the last ten years. She is researching and documenting those buried in the Morelock Cemetery in Morrow Township, Adair County, Missouri, and in the Old Germfask/Ackley Cemetery in Germfask Township, Schoolcraft County, Michigan, as well as assisting the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society with publications and meetings. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Begin, from D.G. Fulford

journal.bmpWe could all spend an interesting and distracting week discussing everything that can keep a person from a family history project–ironically something they’ve always wanted to do.

Anything can stop a person. I’m not talking about excuses–I’m talking about things as real as today and today’s errands. Maybe the dog ate the genealogy chart. Or maybe there are rotten apples on your family tree.

There is no one around to ask, you say. My stories aren’t interesting to tell. It’s such a huge process–unfathomable, really. I don’t know where to begin.

That’s the magic word. Begin. Nothing feels better than finally beginning. The beauty part? You can get off your own back now. You’ve begun! The joy flows from there step-by-step, one memory at a time. And then you’ll become addicted, because you’ll never want to stop.

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Your Quick Tips

Google Addresses for Images
I would recommend searching for every ancestral address and company you come across using Google. You could find that there are photos online. I have found numerous photos of the churches my ancestors got married in or were christened in by doing this.

Sometimes you can even find photos of the houses in which they lived. To my surprise I found the farmhouse where my grandfather was born by using Google. Grander than I imagined, it is now a school. I e-mailed the school and they sent me a leaflet with photos of the original house.
Also search for places where your ancestors worked. You can often find out more about the companies or government branch your ancestors worked in, and may find photos. For instance, my grandmother told me that she had been an “overlooker” at Woolwich Arsenal during the First World War. Both her father and grandfather had also worked there. I searched for Woolwich Arsenal using Google and found pages and pages of information and photos about it. I found out that women worked there during the First World War because the men had all been called up. The girls who did this work were called “Canaries” because working with TNT turned their skin yellow. And there were photos showing the Cartridge Packing Shop where my grandmother worked, as well as the laboratory where my grandfather worked.
Another way you can obtain photos of locations you are researching is by joining a RootsWeb county mailing list for the county your ancestors lived in. Ask if anyone who lives in the area is willing to take a photo for you and e-mail it to you. One very kind man took about half a dozen photos for me because someone had once done it for him.
Or you could try writing to the addresses directly if they still exist, asking if the occupants could send you a photo of their house. They might be more interested if you sent them a photo of your ancestor who lived there or a copy of a census showing the address with the names of the people who lived there. Of course always offer to pay for their expenses.

Frances Lee Continue reading