Your Quick Tips, 12 May 2008

Prison Records
I heard stories about my great-great-grandfather making moonshine so strong it burned blue. He was a rough man, but also a hard worker. After learning that he and his wife got a divorce around 1936, I checked with the Minnesota Historical Society for the divorce case file. The case had approximate dates for a prison sentence and location. 

The Minnesota Historical Society helped out again. This time they had found his prison case file–approximately fifty pages, all for twenty cents a page and the cost of shipping. What a goldmine of information for less than fifteen dollars. It included information on his prison sentence in Leavenworth, Kansas, for the “manufacturing and sale of liquor” in 1930, a complete physical exam, a list of letters received and written, a list of family members (including wife, children, and siblings). Oh, and his picture. 

Prison case files can be priceless. Have a shady character in your family? Maybe they made moonshine and bootlegged during Prohibition days too.

I love family history–even the not so pretty stuff.

Mindy McLane
Rexburg, Idaho

Donate Unwanted Papers
Regarding Juliana’s article, “To Keep or Not To Keep?” when going through those genealogy papers/pictures you no longer want or need, how about donating them to your local genealogy group? You could give them a call and see if they have family files in their records and donate to them. It might save someone else from having to look for them.
Sylvia Bradfield
Columbia, Missouri 

Tree-saving Advice
I read your recent article on what to keep and what to toss and wanted to offer a few responses to your list.

“I don’t know about you, but part of my office problem is an overabundance of magazines.”

Many periodicals nowadays offer archives of their issues on CD. I sometimes take issue with having to pay twice for something I already receive, but it can be worth the effort. Two which I find particularly useful are QST and Mother Earth News. You said,

“I also keep and print out articles that I find helpful online and they help add to the clutter.”

You know, yesterday was Earth Day! Do you not find it indulgent and wasteful to print to paper what you originally enjoyed in electronic form? The latter is intended to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but there is a level of seriousness to it as well.

Have you ever considered “printing” to a PDF document? I realize websites can come and go and simply bookmarking content for future reference may be tempting fate. Nevertheless, printing a website or electronic article to a PDF will preserve it for future reference as well as provide a mean for searching–must faster than rifling through a stack of paper documents …”I know it is in here somewhere.”

Many times people scoff at the idea of “printing” to an electronic document, their argument being that their computer may crash. The fact is that if they are backing up like they ought to be, there is no greater likelihood of data loss as losing something as a result of misplacing it, water damage or fire.

Returning to suggestion number one for a moment; a scanner can be among the most cost beneficial investment any researcher can make. Not only does it allow one to digitize articles from journals, magazines, newspapers, etc., which are not available in electronic form, but it facilitates the creation of extremely portable copies of many references and resources useful for doing Family History Research in the field – whether that be the cemetery, courthouse or library.

Killing trees and clutter need not necessarily be requirements of conducting our research.


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If you have a suggestion you would like to share with other researchers, send it to: mailto:[email protected] . Thanks to all of this week’s contributors!

Quick Tips may be reprinted, with credit to the submitter, in other Ancestry publications, so if you do not want your tip included in a publication other than the “Ancestry Weekly Journal,” please state so clearly in your message.

3 thoughts on “Your Quick Tips, 12 May 2008

  1. Regarding prison records, I know my ggrandfather, James S. Goggins, did time in Georgia for horse theft in the 1890’s, but I have never known how to access prison records. Can you give some detailed information on this process. Thank you

  2. Tree-saving Advice
    i have an email account set up at gmail and I send and electronic copy of all my files to my gmail account as well as backing it up on my pc. i do this with photos too

  3. Great idea to save articles as computer files! Even saving as a text file (while not pretty) does the trick. I just saved part of this issue!

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