21 May 2009

The Hello Girls

DearREADERS,
Back in the 1970s, when Levitz Furniture was opening a new store in Salt Lake City, Ol' Myrt here was hired to work in the front office. In addition to posting sales and processing loan applications, I cross-trained on the PBX -- a machine used "anciently" to answer incoming calls and then connect that caller to the desired extension in the building using a sometimes intertwining system of metal tipped cords. Be sure to click to view the YouTube video clip of an old television segment from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In where Lily Tomlin had us all roaring with her telephone operator character.

Ol' Myrt here didn't wear her hair in Lilly's circa 1940s updo, nor did I tend to snort when giggling, but I can certainly relate to the machinery I came to know so well.

But I didn't know how the "Hello Girls" kept things connected during WWII and actually contributed in a significant way to the war effort.
"Soldiers were struggling to operate switchboards, rather than performing the
combat-related duties they had been trained for. Pershing wasted no time in asking the War Department for 100 French-speaking US telephone operators. Because switchboard operation was, at that time, an exclusively female occupation, this meant that Pershing was asking women to work for the Army."

Find out more by reading Patricia Daniel's "Switchboard Soldiers: The Hello Girls" from the Apr/May 2009 issue of History Magazine, pages 42-43.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

20 May 2009

Other evidence

DearREADERS,
Move beyond vital records and census enumerations. Look for each and every document that could possibly mention your ancestors. Today at the National Archives I'll begin searching the Civil War pension files of the men who signed affidavits for one of my Union Civil War pensioners. Who knows what I'll discover about conditions during various military campaigns that my ancestors didn't mention in his application?
"Wills and probate records may also prove to be useful resources for gaining an
understanding of an individual. Horses, saddles, spinning wheels, cupboards and
linens are often prized possessions left to heirs. One of my ancestors left her silver hairbrush and mirror set to a favorite daughter. You don’t have to be a professional writer to glean data from documents or to interview relatives." *

*SOURCE: "Writing Your Family History" by Donna Murray. Family Chronicle. Mar/Apr 2009. Pages 48-49.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

19 May 2009

Got Germanic ancestry?

DearREADERS,
"First, you should know that Germany didn’t exist as a nation until 1871. Prior to this, most of
the German states either fell under the jurisdiction of Prussia (the largest and most powerful
German state) or had independent rulers. Because of this, the German states had their own
ways of keeping records. There are no nationwide censuses in these earlier years, and even civil registration began at different times in different places. Similarly, emigration rules and records varied greatly between states."
*

Another thing Ol' Myrt here learned is that unlike our US cemeteries where much research can be accomplished, you cannot expect to see very old tombstones in a typical German cemetery (kirchhof or friedhof). Unless a family was wealthy enough to afford a crypt, the grave sites are recycled every generation or so. The tombstones in two of my ancestral cemeteries were unceremoniously removed and stacked up around the perimeter walls of the church yard.

*SOURCE: "Getting Started on German Research" by Leslie Albrecht Huber from Discovering Family History, Jan/Feb 2009. Pages 39-41.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

18 May 2009

Copies of magazine articles

From: Nancy B.
DearMYRTLE,
Regarding Eastland, my husband Walt lost two aunts on the Eastland and I'm wondering how to get a copy of the magazine with the article about the disaster. Their names were Dora Schroth and Caroline Afford (sisters). Thank you.

DearNANCY,
The article about the sinking of the Eastland appeared in the Feb Mar 2009 issue of HISTORY MAGAZINE as mentioned in the magazine's blog. Ol' Myrt here found the article by David A. Norris very compelling. I am sorry to hear that your husband lost two close relatives in this terrible disaster.

The Internet-Genealogy Blog contains entries on topics originally printed in any of the four magazines published by Moorshead. For each blog entry, I make it a point to include the author, title of the original article, the name of the magazine, publication information and page number(s) in addition to a clickable link to the magazine website. That way, whenever you run across a blog entry mentioning an article you wish to own, merely click the link to the magazine website. Then you can order the issue in question directly from the publisher.

In this case, History Magazine is located at: http://www.history-magazine.com/. To save you time, Ol' Myrt here is including the information from the "CONTACT US" link on the History Magazine website.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

16 May 2009

Palatines to America Conference: June 2009

DearREADERS,
Palatines to America, the German Genealogy Society will offer the 2009 National Conference, “Research With the Experts” at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, June 18-20, 2009. The featured speaker is world renowned Annette Burgert with four presentations on the basics for research of colonial German and Swiss ancestry, immigration, and European villages of origin.

See also additional workshops and time for independent research programmed with PalAm
consultants and ACPL staff experts. For more information and registration details, please go to
www.palamnationalconference.org/registration.

Source:
Discovering Family History. May/June 2009. Page 45.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

Do you teach genealogy courses?

DearREADERS,
Internet Genealogy would like to offer you samples of the magazine to use as course material when teaching genealogy. Why not use the magazines to supplement your own teach materials at to assist and encourage your students?

Internet Genealogy supplies:
  • Samples of their publications ($1 per issue to cover shipping & handling)
  • A special subscription offer

To request the "Teacher's Kit", send snail or email requests as follows:

  • PO Box 194, Niagara Falls, NY 14304
  • 505 Consumers Road, Suite 500, Toronto, Ontario, M2J 4V8
  • rick@moorshead.com

Just let Rick know how many issues you'll need, and provide your name and shipping address.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

Chicago’s Titanic: The Sinking of the Eastland

DearREADERS,
"July 24, 1915 began as the morning of a long-awaited outing for 7,000 Western Electric employees and their families in Chicago. The company chartered five steamers to take them on a trip to Michigan City, Indiana. They would spend the day having a grand picnic, enjoying the beaches and amusements during their getaway from work and city life. It was a calm, if drizzly day, but thoughts of danger were far from the minds of the vacationers. Yet, on that morning, the 2,500 passengers who stepped aboard the Eastland embarked upon a journey that would become as tragic as those of the recently lost ocean liners Titanic and Lusitania."

Thus David A. Norris begins his report of this nightmarish company picnic in the Feb/Mar 2009 issue of History Magazine.

Consider using popular history sources to embellish the story of our ancestors' lives. Just this morning Ol' Myrt here was talking with another researcher about the need for historical context when considering the day-to-day lives of our ancestors.

Your Chicago ancestor may not have been on the Eastland, but may have been n member of the emergency crew called to the docks, a policeman working the line of anxious onlookers, a physician at the hospital, or the corner newsboy hawking the extra edition of the local paper reporting the tragic news.

Local and regional historical events like train wrecks, floods, mine explosions, earthquakes and fires affected our ancestors even if they weren't the ones dousing flames on their roofs with garden hoses or shoveling mud from their basements. Communities pull together in times of disaster as the kinder, gentler human side shines forth.

Find ways to put meat on the bones, and genealogy isn't just reporting names, dates and place, but writing the story of our ancestors with an eye to what was happening in his home town at the time.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

15 May 2009

Magazines in .pdf format?

DearREADERS,
Earlier this week, Ol' Myrt here mentioned she's attending the Raleigh Convention Center and the 2009 National Genealogical Society Conference. Each day, it's been my pleasure meeting many of my DearREADERS at the Family Chronicle booth.

In fact, today, Barb Schulz came by and we reminisced about how back in the 1990s she dragged me kicking and screaming to the Family Chronicle booth at the NGS conference in Nashville to show me a (then) brand new genealogy magazine that I simply had to get into.

Why kicking and screaming?

Ol' Myrt here thought she didn't need any more genealogy periodicals to read. The piles of unread ones were really stacked up, but...

To my surprise, I discovered a delightful publication with worthwhile articles explaining how to refine my genealogy research skills. And the computer instructor in me could see using other articles as subtopics at upcoming PAF Users Group meetings.

And the rest as they say is history.

Yesterday, within 15 minutes of each other, two people purchased the annuals of the Moorshead Publishing magazines on CD. It occurs to me this is is exactly what Dick Eastman is talking about as he is scanning his personal genealogy library to save space. Having magazines in .pdf format also expedites finding things in them later, since .pdf files like this are "every word" searchable.

WHY .pdf?
The FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) Forum will convert permanently to .pdf format this summer. The popular Digital Genealogist has successfully managed in strictly .pdf format. Years ago, the Manasota Genealogical Society bi-monthly newsletter switched to this format, something Ol' Myrt here heartily recommends for:
  • saving cost of printing
  • saving time preparing for mailing
  • saving cost of mailing
  • improving searchability

In fact in my predictions for the future, I believe we'll all use Kindles or iPhones to receive newspapers, magazines and all sorts of information.

Think of how many trees we'll save.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

14 May 2009

Meet you in Raleigh at NGS

DearREADERS,
The National Genealogical Society's annual conference is currently being held at the Raleigh (North Carolina) Convention Center. If you are attending, do take time to stop by the Family Chronicle booth #119 in the exhibit hall. Ol' Myt will be there between 12 and 1pm today, tomorrow and Saturday. The exhibit hall is open to the public, so registration for the NGS conference classes isn't required.

Yesterday when I met with Ed and Rick, they reminded Ol' Myrt here about the trial offer of their magazines.
Here's how it works
Fill in and submit the online request forms, linked above. Be sure to complete all fields as required. You will be mailed a free issue and an invoice. If you enjoy the magazine, simply return the invoice with payment to continue your subscription. If the magazine isn't for you, simply e-mail them a note of your cancellation (or return the cancelled invoice) and you will be under absolutely no further obligation. All contact information supplied will remain private.

There are slightly different options for those who are considering the other two magazines provided by Moorshead:
  • Family Chronicle - seven for six offer (Receive the current issue free, when you order a one year subscription.)
  • Internet Genealogy - $4.17 per issue instead of $6.95. (You may even elect to receive the magazine in .pdf format.)
Looks like they are into creative marketing, wouldn't you say? Ol' Myrt has loved these magazines even before she started writing this blog about them.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

12 May 2009

Whitman: Now the Drum of War


DearREADERS,
"Walt Whitman’s experiences as a nurse to wounded soldiers during the Civil
War had a profound impact on his views and poetry. But Now The Drum of War:
Walt Whitman and his Brothers in the Civil War
reveals the extraordinary record
his younger brother George, an officer in the 51st New York, left of his life on the front lines, through his letters, journal and newspaper dispatches. Hailed as a bold soldier, George’s descriptions of battles and soldiers’ life left an indelible impression on his brother. Drawing on the vivid letters Walt and George wrote to each other and their family, author Robert Roper chronicles the experience of an archetypal American family facing their own struggles within the greater struggle of their nation."
From Walker and Company, 421 pages includes an index, bibliography and black and white photographs. Priced at $28 US and $31 CDN. ISBN: 978-0-8027-1553-1.
Thanks to History Magazine's assistant editor Marc Skulnick for this book review from the Feb/Mar 2009 issue.
While your Civil War ancestor may not have left a series of letters or journal entries, it is helpful to look at those left by those who served in the same unit. While opinions about the war vary from individual to individual, indications about daily life are important to include in your family history. Official unit histories provide details about troop movements, but surviving diaries provide insight from "the man on the street" point of view.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

Ohio 1812

DearREADERS,
Its imposible to keep up with what's going up on the web to aid genealogy researchers. Thankfully, this item by Tony Bandy caught Ol' Myrt's eye today, and I had to share it because one of my Salt Lake Study Group members has Ohio ancestors.
"Overshadowed by the Revolutionary War and the later action in Mexico, the War of 1812 threw Great Britain and America into conflict once again. With many thousands of troops involved on both sides, there is a possibility your ancestors may have served in some capacity. If you think they were from Ohio, there is a good chance you can find them in the War of 1812 Roster of Ohio Soldiers, an online database made freely available by the Ohio Historical Society (OHS). Digitized from an earlier work published in 1916..." See: "War of 1812: Ohio Rosters Online", Family Chronicle. May/June 2009. Pages 50-51.

Thankfully various historical and genealogical societies and individuals create such listings for presentaiton both on and off the Internet. But finding a soldier with the same name as your ancestor in such listings isn't proof enough that it was in fact your ancestor who served.

Years ago, original document research at the National Archives (US) involved helping a friend sift through her ancestor's War of 1812 pension file. From www.Archives.gov we discover the National Archives and Records Administration stores the following military records:

Of particular interest is NARA's advice How to Request Military Service Records or Prove Military Service.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

08 May 2009

Off to Raleigh

DearREADERS,
Its conference time again, so Ol' Myrt will be traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina to attend the National Genealogical Society 2009 Conference to be held the 13th-16th of May.

This year I'll be shadowing the exhibit hall volunteer coordinator in preparation for the 2010 NGS Conference which will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah. This will involve arriving early to be sure the booths are set up with tables and electric and internet access as ordered by vendors.

Perhaps the best part about annual genealogy conferences is the chance to mingle among shelves of genealogy books, view product demos of the latest genealogy software, and see first-hand what's new at FamilySearch, Footnote, Ancestry and other genealogy websites.

Our friends at Moorshead publishing will be there in booth #119. There you'll see sample copies of:
Ol' Myrt plans to be at the booth at least an hour each day, so do stop by and say hello. I'd like your feedback about the blog, and ideas for posts you'd like to see in the future.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

07 May 2009

Help is on the way

DearREADERS,
Confused by myriad record groups available? Don't know where to turn next?
"The National Archives (US) staff have prepared more than 160 pages of finding guides to assist researchers with their most common records. These guides are printed on various hues of colored paper. They can be found on a rack in the lobby once you arrive at the Archives.

The Mount Vernon Genealogical Society has also placed these finding aids online at http://mvgenealogy.org/NARA_Guides.html.

Whether planning a visit or not, these guides are a great resource for a better understanding and appreciation of the NARA holdings."


SOURCE:
"News You Can USe". Discovering Family History. April 2009. Page 7.
Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

06 May 2009

Travel & recording ideas

DearREADERS,
Last week Ol' Myrt wrote about saving our research travel dollars by going online. But summer IS coming, and so are the family reunions. Scheduling research time in a nearby cemetery or county courthouse will double the impact of the dollars spent getting to and from the family gathering.

Cindy Thomson shows us how to make the most of our travels and take our research with us in her article "Family History on the Go!" in the January 2009 issue of Internet Genealogy, pages 50-51. Regarding that trip to your relatives, she takes it up a notch by suggesting:
"Even if you have no wireless access, take your laptop along. You can share photos, take notes and record valuable oral family history. If you have a digital voice recorder, record family stories and then immediately download them to your computer for safekeeping."

To this Ol' Myrt would like to add that many laptops come with built-in microphones, and it isn't necessary to buy expensive mics that plug into the mic port on your computer's sound card.

Audacity is free "audio editing" software that allows you to record interviews. Then use the software to combine multiple recordings, in addition to editing out long pauses, and adding background music and such. Jsut be sure you convert the file to .mp3 format to share with others.

Check out the tutorials at http://audacity.sourceforge.net and download the software for your PC. Mac users will remind us they have similar pre-installed software.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.

Please post replies by going to http://blog.Internet-Genealogy.com

05 May 2009

What kinds of logs do you use?

DearREADERS,
Correspondence log sheets at a minimum “should contain the item requested, from whom you requested it, the date you sent the request and the results. Some researchers log requests by topic, while others prefer to keep a separate one for each person or each surname. Everyone has their own way of doing things, so choose a method that works for you,” writes Donna Murray in the most recent Discovering Family History magazine. She suggests a log sheet found at www.cs.williams.edu/~bailey/genealogy .

Back when she was a newbie, Ol’ Myrt here thought logs weren't necessary. Sad experience has taught me that there can be a six to nine month delay between when a request is made and when the reply is received. I’m one of those that has to keep a research log of every microfilm, website or book I’ve ever searched, even when I didn’t find something mentioning the ancestor in question.

Yes, I, too, have been known to order the same microfilm twice. That was an expensive mistake when I lived in Florida and had to rent the film on a short term loan through my local LDS Family History Center in Bradenton, Florida. So I began to use the research log at FamilySearch.org, but now I use my genealogy management program to record each resource in notes, and whether or not I found something for that individual in the record group. Of course, now that I live in Salt Lake City and can use the Family History Library's resources in person, when I make a duplicate mistake, it is just a matter of walking back a second time through the microfilm stacks to refile the reel.

If you’d like to request a trial copy of the May/June 2009 Discovering Family History magazine, you’ll be able to follow along on pages 25-27 to discover other forms and charts Donna suggests.

But do post a comment here at http://blog.Internet-Genealogy.com and let’s talk about the forms you’ve found most useful.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

04 May 2009

Saving Family Memories: A Step-By-Step Guide


DearREADERS,
With the upcoming family reunions this summer, you'll want to hone your interview skills by studying a brand new, 48-page booklet, hot off the press at Internet Genealogy Magazine, called Saving Family Memories: A Step-By-Step Guide by Janice Nickerson. She’s done an admirable job detailing suggested approachs, equipment pros and cons, final presentation formats and includes 14 pages of interview questions. Ol’ Myrt here thinks a picture is worth a 1,000 words, and apparently so does Janice when she says “Bring old family photos, heirlooms and mementos to the interview — they’ll bring old memories and stories flooding back.” Great idea.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

02 May 2009

Has Your Family History Been Published?

DearREADERS,
University of Toronto librarian Marian Press helps prevent genealogists from re-inventing the wheel in "Has Your Family History Been Published?" from the January/February 2009 Discovering Your Family History magazine, pages 25-27. Among myriad resources including links to online catalogs and Google Books, Marian discusses PERSI:
"Family histories are not always published in book form; often a genealogist will instead contribute an article on his or her family to an historical periodical or a genealogical society magazine. The best source for tracking these down is the Periodical Source Index (PERSI). PERSI is an index to genealogy and local history periodicals written in English and French (from Canada) since 1800. The PERSI database can be accessed through Ancestry.com. Note, however, that after you have done a surname search, PERSI will simply indicate the existence of a relevant article; the second step is to find a copy of it. The index will help you by providing the name and address of the periodical’s publisher and may also list libraries in the US that
have copies."

Experienced researchers provide cautionary tales about previously compiled family histories and explain we must closely follow the line of reasoning and view cited sources in the context of all extant record groups in the locality where the ancestors once lived.

Marian's article provides a useful mix of additonal websites that might provide you with access to at least the title and author and location of previously published research. Interlibrary loan may be an option to consider.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.

Please post replies by going to http://blog.Internet-Genealogy.com .

01 May 2009

Got Virginia roots?

DearREADERS,
The challenge these days is balancing work and home assignments with time allotted to genealogical research. Some of us are retired, but have experienced shrinking retirement funds or live on fixed incomes. As younger family historians join our ranks, their genealogy research is often affected by both limited funds and limited time for research trips.

Our parents and grandparents consolidated trips and cut out extras as they endured gas rationing during the great depression beginning in 1929. Taking such care is the lot of many genealogy researchers, with the highly fluctuating cost of gasoline during the past year, and the related rise in the price of food and other necessities shipped to neighborhood grocery stores.

In this day and age, online presentation of genealogical materials becomes more than an archival convenience, protecting delicate manuscripts from overuse by anxious researchers. Ready access to online digital versions of original documents serve to save researchers' pocketbooks from unnecessary travel expenses.

A short article by noted genealogist Emily A. Croom on page 16 in the January 2009 issue of Internet Genealogy points us to the Library of Virginia Online. Although those of us with Virginia roots would give our eye teeth to visit the Library in person, Emily reports success when searching the LVA's digital archives:
"The Richmond obituary index revealed a death notice of my ancestor Eliza Coleman, who lived and died in a rural county west of Richmond, but whose obituary was published in 1848 in the city newspaper. I ordered a copy from the LVA. Since Eliza died before 1852, when Virginia began registering births and deaths, this obituary has been the only source of her death date."

Ol' Myrt here decided to visit the LVA website, and discovered:

Chancery Records Index - "Each of Virginia's circuit courts created chancery records that contain considerable historical and genealogical information. Because the records rely so heavily on testimony from witnesses, they offer a unique glimpse into the lives of Virginians from the early 18th century through the First World War. The original court papers are flat-filed, indexed, and conserved using a set of standards developed by the LVA. Since the tri-folded records are often in poor condition, special attention is paid to preparing them for digital reformatting. This laborious process is undertaken so that the best quality images can be captured in one effort. The valuable original records are then retired to secure storage.
The reformatted images—whether digital scans or microfilm—can be viewed at the Library of Virginia, at the circuit court clerk's office, or, in the case of digital images, from any internet connected computer. [...] There are over 175,000 cases indexed in the database and a total of 2,375,233 images of chancery causes available online."


Thanks, Emily, for making the case for online presentation of resources for those of us with ancestors who lived in Virginia. Yes, I realize not everything is on the Internet, but it's important to obtain all we can from online resources before looking to already tightened purse strings to fund a research trip back east.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.

Please post replies by going to http://blog.Internet-Genealogy.com .