What I learned Wednesday: NGS-HSC Lesson 5

The fifth lesson in the NGS HSC is “Census Records.”  The assignment had two parts: the census research checklist and the census search report.

The census research checklist involved, for each ancestor listed on the pedigree chart you had submitted with Lesson 1, to indicate on which census (county and state) you would possibly find them and how they would be listed (e.g., head of household).  I did a summary checklist, a portion is shown below.  The years in red are not currently available.

The footnote on Cyrus Monroe WEBB says “The 1900 Census Day was 1 Jun 1900 and time allocated was one month.  Cyrus Monroe WEBB was born 29 May 1900 so he technically should be counted.”

I plan to continue using at least this format so I can make sure I have reviewed all records.  I will eventually expand to include possible tax rolls, misc. schedules, and other census-like records.  This was not actually a requirement for the assignment but I needed a concise visual so I could stay focused.  After this, I expanded it to the census detail that actually fulfilled the assignment.  A portion is shown below.

This exercise demonstrated my knowledge of what records were available (both in terms of existence and what is currently publicly available), the census day (or “as of” date), and data gathered.  My go-to book for all things census related is Your Guide to the Federal Census (affiliate link) by Kathleen Hinckley.  I would guess most of this information could be found on the big bad Internet but what’s better than your very own dog-eared, highlighted, stained copy?

This lesson isn’t over yet.  I needed to develop the citation and transcribe.  So I inserted a graphic of the page with the family unit I was focused on marked with a red box.

Then I transcribed.

The last step was to write a report about what I learned.  An additional component of my report was “next steps” which was the further research that had stemmed from this analysis of the census record.  I transferred those to my research log.

I really enjoyed this lesson.  It wasn’t “complete” on first try because I had intended to go back to my detail and do something else and I forgot to go back and do it.  And it was required in the lesson.  But it was a quick fix and a quick return of “complete.”  My bad.

I have several best practices that have resulted from this lesson.  Good stuff.


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Follow Friday: getting it together

Two blogs I want to go ahead and mention are the Shy Genealogist and DearMYRTLE’s Genealogy Blog. The years of agonizing over how I keep everything organized and keep myself at least somewhat sane actually came together for me with the help of these two ladies.

DearMYRTLE has monthly organization lists that will break down the tasks you need to do into manageable chunks. She addresses paper, digital files, backups, etc.  The Scrappy Genealogist gives you before and after pictures of her workspace that she did with the checklists. One of my key take-aways (and this is one of many) from Myrt’s advice is to consider keeping things in a way to make them share-able.  As in easy to copy, easy to pull out just what The Cousins want to look at.  So boo to the funky organization systems of keeping all record types together, numbering and needing some sort of database to figure out what is where.  OK, that’s a major driver. Now what?

Enter the ShyG.  She describes her Binder System and her Filing Cabinet which I loved. I’ll describe how I’ve implemented this system and take some pictures for you.  She uses pocket portfolios with prongs for each family.  They make plastic folders now (but where do you doodle during class?) so I got some plastic ones for my most active family groups.  Now that school supplies are on sale (wait, wait, come back for a minute! there’ll still be stuff left!) I’m stocking up on paper ones for the less active families….in four colors (to match my grandparents’ lines).

Blogs I added the week of August 5 – August 11

I added the FamilySearch Tech Tips to my Google Reader so I wouldn’t miss any good stuff.


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What I learned (day after) Wednesday: ProGen April 2011

The April 2011 ProGen Study Group was on chapter 4, “The Essential Library” and chapter 7, “Copyright and Fair Use” in Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians (affiliate link) edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

The assignment for this month was to make a list of all your genealogy publications and then identify the holes to create a wish list and purchasing plan.  Easy peasy since I already the two lists started.  But this gave me the incentive to finish them.  I added a couple of items to my wish list after reading the assignments submitted by the other members of my discussion group.  I started a page on this blog with my list of books in case you want to take a look-see.

The library component of this assignment dovetailed nicely with the Lesson 4 in the NGS HSC.

The copyright discussion was centered around a couple of examples that were provided within the discussion questions.  Those scenarios led to further discussion about copyright.  I’ve collected some information about copyright and genealogy and this is what I have in EverNote:

I also have Sharon DeBartolo Carmack’s Carmack’s Guide to Copyrights & Contracts: A Primer for Genealogists, Writers & Researchers (affiliate link) on my shelf.
Have I missed any good stuff?  I’m making a Research Toolkit page on this blog (up at the top by the About This Blog page).  We’ll start the collection with these items.
Categories: Education, Professional, ProGen | Comments Off

What I learned Wednesday: NGS-HSC Lesson 4

The fourth lesson in the NGS HSC is “Library Resources and Citation Examples.”  This was a very straightforward lesson and assignment I felt.  The assignment is to do a Library Survey and provide citations of various types of resources.  I actually received a “Complete” on first submission even though I forgot one of the citations (the grader said it seemed apparent I knew how to do citations so he let it slide).

There weren’t any big hang-ups here except for scheduling the time to get to the repository with a short enough to-do list that the assignment activities could be done.  I found that many questions were answered by their website so I didn’t have a huge list of things to survey when I actually arrived.

Some of the suggested reading included chapter 5 “An Introduction to Research Tools: The Library” and Chapter 6 “An Introduction to Research Tools: Reference Materials” in The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy (affiliate link) by Val D. Greenwood.  These two chapters discusses major repositories and libraries, classification systems, and key resources/references.  In addition, The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy (affiliate link) edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking with its chapters on General References and Guides (chapter 3), Directories (chapter 8), and Newspapers (chapter 12) was recommended.

Skillbuilding: Analyzing and Reviewing Published Sources, a Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG)  Skillbuilding article was referenced as was the chapter on “Book and Media Reviews” by Elizabeth Shown Mills in Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, (affiliate link) edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

No real showstoppers in this lesson nor did it take much time to actually do the lesson (once I got to the library).  But it was a good way to take a deep breath and make sure you know the repository and its resources.  This would be valuable exercise for any repository you visit on a regular basis.

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More about the NGS-HSC

The NGS HSC does somewhat build on each lesson but it is possible to do them out of order.  The syllabus for the NGS-HSC describes the lessons and corresponding assignments.  Be aware of the lessons that require scheduling of onsite visits or obtaining a record.

  • Lesson 4 requires a visit to a library
  • Lesson 6 requires obtaining a record (I did though an online request with Texas’ repository) and a repository visit for a marriage records survey
  • Lesson 7 requires a church and cemetery visit
  • Lesson 8 requires a repository visit (there is an alternate assignment if you can’t make a visit but what fun is that?)
  • Lesson 9 requires a FamilySearch Center records request, National Archives record request, or repository visit (it depend on if you’re doing the state land option or federal land option assignment)
  • Lesson 10 requires a FamilySearch Center records request or repository visit
  • Lesson 13 requires a repository visit or FamilySearch Center, historical society, or genealogy society records
  • Lesson 14 requires obtaining a military or pension record

So as I was finding time for my Lesson 4 library visit, I did Lesson 5.  I have portions of Lessons 6, 8, 9, 10, and 13 done but I need a repository visit.  While waiting for that next magical day off, I plan to work on Lesson 11 Migration and Lesson 12 Passenger Lists.  There’s wiggle room like this throughout until you finally culminate with Lesson 15, “Evidence Analysis and Kinship” and Lesson 16, “What’s Next?”.

Keep in mind that you’re getting feedback from excellent genealogists on your work every time your assignment is returned.  I had to carefully think through the best, at least as I know them today, family groups to use for this course, for my ProGen course, and eventually for my Certified GenealogistSM (CGSM) application so I wouldn’t use anything I couldn’t for the CGSM portfolio.

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Preparation for IGHR

I mentioned in passing that I attended this year’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR).  I think I promised more information about that but I am, and will continue to, conveniently forget that (for now).

But I happened to make a list recently about things you should if you want to go to IGHR.  If you check out the RootsWeb maillist “Transitional Genealogists Forum” there have been several discussions and lists of what to take.  It still left me some questions, relatively minor, that were answered when I got there.

It is recommended to take a fan.  I need to second this recommendation.  I took a small clip on fan (the room didn’t really have a good place to clip it but I moved one of the desk chairs next to the bed and propped it up there).   The AC was decent where I was at, but as a woman approaching a certain age, I’m finding I like it cooler at night than most.  And I’m used to at least a little air movement from a ceiling fan so this setup allowed me to almost replicate the home sleeping (except that I don’t have vinyl covered twin size mattresses at home).

Some of the older discussions talked about taking a shower curtain.  Those are now supplied.  As is a big plastic bag for trash (that you will need to take out your last morning there).  So those can be crossed off your list.

I wished I had taken a wide mouthed water bottle that I could fill as I left the cafeteria.  I purchased an insulated Samford Bulldog one in the bookstore but if I had only thought about it while packing….

The Ralph W. Beeson University Center was open while we there.  It was the hub of where we had classes (generally) and the library.  The University Center enters to the first floor on one side of the building and into the second floor on the other side.  Or maybe it’s first floor and basement?  I don’t know.  But on the lower level, you have the food court and the bookstore.  And a couple of pockets of comfy chairs.  The second floor has the cafeteria.  Not sure what the point of this is anymore.  Maybe it was the comfy chairs?

There are other summer camp-like functions going on.  For instance, a summer soccer camp.  The attendees (younguns) also used the cafeteria.  So, you may ask?  Well, if you think you are going to dip some of the self serve ice cream for yourself, know that you will be solicited for assistance by some/many/every single one of the younguns.

There is toilet tissue in the rooms (a roll on deck and one to spare).  I repeat, there is toilet tissue in the room.  One less thing to carry.

The library has some great Alabama resources.  I was totally unprepared to capitalize on this.  So don’t be like me.  Also, they opened databases to the attendees for that week.  I had decent university wifi (which I got set up for me on my netbook in the library when I checked in) and did some browsing there.  I was a little unprepared for that though I had my genealogy database loaded on my netbook.

Please, if you stop here and use any of the suggestions, please tell me.  Even if it’s just to say that you really believe that I’m the only one who worries about toilet tissue.



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A Rose by Any Other Name

I don’t think ol’ Billy was a genealogist.  It seems the more roses I have, the more they stink.  I may not be researching a name like Smith or Jones, but let me tell you, “Lee” can be tough.  The Lees are on my paternal grandmother’s family.  But then again, the Leighs are too.  All discussions of the family include the spelling of the name, “the Leighs, you know, the L-E-I-G-Hes” or “the Lees, you know, the L-E-Es.”  Sure, I know.  Without getting into a discussion of name spelling variations that “just happened” for whatever reason since we all know how it was spelled just wasn’t that important in the past, let’s look at some examples of the variations.

I saw this website for the first time in a Legacy webinar, Organizing for Success with Karen Clifford webinar that is available indefinitely for free.  And yes, I know I told you before I was all organized, had a system, and I was content but it doesn’t hurt to re-affirm that what you have is best for you.  And generally I’m a sucker for organization tips.  Nothing new to consider on the organization front for me (though if you’re just starting out, check out the webinar for not only specific tips on a system but for general best practices).

So go to MyTrees.com and see the “Name Variants” right above the Last Name textbox?  Click it.

In the pop-up, enter the Surname to see what kind of name variations are found based upon the Soundex system.

I get about 400 variations on Lee.  I’ll put in my notice at work on Monday and get on this.  Please send money and food.  But the point is not to do anything with this since we’re just exploring.  We’re just dating…it’s not time for commitment.  So moving on.

Also check out the Standard Finder in the FamilySearch Labs.  Using that search, I get about 205 variations on the last name Lee.

So there you go.  What to do next?  I don’t know, I’m a little overwhelmed.  In my file system, I have a folder at the beginning of a batch of surname files with general surname information (also a subfolder that has my “am I possibly related” leads.  I think I’ll do this and make a little printout that I can pull when I start work on a Family Group Sheet with the last name.

Categories: Surname: LEE, Surname: LEIGH | 1 Comment

Follow Friday: blogs I added the week of July 29-August 4

The blogs I follow at the time I’m starting this series includes the following.  I have plans to go into depth for some of these but if you just can’t wait (and I would recommend that you not wait), go ahead and check them out.

A Linguist’s Guide to Genealogy




Adventures in Genealogy (I’ve talked about this one before)


Adventures in Genealogy Education (I’ve talked about this one before)


Ancestry Insider


Ancestry.com Blog


Archives.com Blog


Blog of a Genealogist in Training


Climbing My Family Tree (I’ve talked about this one before)


Clue Wagon


DearMYRTLE’s Genealogy Blog


Deb’s Delvings in Genealogy


Educated Genealogist


Family History Publishing


Family History Writing


FamilySearch.org – Indexing, Records, Resources


Footnote Blog






Genealogy Insider


Genealogy Tip of the Day






Genealogy’s Star


Genea-Musings (I’ve talked about this one before)








Greta’s Genealogy Blog (I’ve talked about this one before)




High-Definition Genealogy


Leaves for Trees


Little Bytes of Life


Moultrie Creek Gazette




Passage to the Past’s Blog


Paula’s Genealogical Eclectica


Planting the Seeds


ProGenealogists® Genealogy Blog


Searchin’ for Kinfolk


Shy Genealogist






Turning of Generations


UpFront with NGS


We Tree Genealogy Blog



I added these blogs to my Google Reader this week:

Family Cherished by Valerie.  It started just this year and I got to it via another blog I follow; it led me to her post on Getting a Great Genealogical Education for Little or No Money! which has some good stuff.

Stardust ‘n’ Roots by GeneaPopPop.  I think I had blown past the blog at some point – it looks familiar.  But I started checking it out in more detail because he’s accepted Tonia’s 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog and I like it.  I feel like I know GeneaPopPop and I especially like that he discusses his blog adventure.  He’s about a year ahead of me in blogging but I am certainly reaping the benefits of what he has learned.

Susan’s Genealogy Blog by, you guessed it, Susan.  I found her through one of the weekly summaries of interesting blog posts (remember, we talked about some of these).


Categories: Follow Friday | 3 Comments

Happy New Year!


It’s the start of the new genealogical fiscal year….actually genealogical biennium.  During the strategic planning phase for this biennium (that starts August 1), the planning committee (me and the four fuzzy kiddoes) have scheduled 25  families for in-depth analysis.  It is time, now that I’ve recently gotten organized, to DO THINGS RIGHT.  So each month, as laid out in the most precious looking Gantt chart you’ve ever seen…

…I have scheduled a Family Group Sheet activity for the month (sometimes I’ve combined a couple of generations into a three month period) so I can make sure everything is scanned, documented, transcribed, filed, and otherwise properly revered.

I mentioned getting organized.  Did that make your ears twist like a cat’s?

Yes, you heard me correctly.  I have a system.  That gives me great satisfaction.  I have stopped trolling the waters of the Internet for better ideas.  I am content.

My system includes a Family Group Sheet / work of art, and a Research Log (that is still undergoing testing).  The filing component includes paper filing, both family files and topic files, and an electronic filing convention to cover topical research downloads, record and photo scans, transcriptions, abstracts, family groups, and localities.  What is still under development is the census system (I continually go back to certain Texas counties so I’m doing more record keeping than just for the families to whom I’m related) and the toolbox.

In the upcoming weeks, as I can fit it into the plan for this biennium of course, I’ll talk about my paper filing system, my electronic system, my research log, and my census system.  Since the toolbox solution is still up in the air, I’ll just drag you along on that thought process (don’t be scared).

Categories: organizing | 2 Comments

Nature or Nurture?

What’s genetic?  What’s learned?  All genealogists, hobbyist or professional, will start to see trends in family….appearance, personality, behavior, etc.  Just as you are stuck with your genetic makeup, I would say there are some behaviors and traits that are almost as unchangeable.  Ask any therapist.  They make good money off of these ingrained behaviors.

Genealogy.com discusses this is their article on Nature vs. Nurture Are We Really Born That Way?.  It’s been discussed in many contexts and for a long time.  And the field of genealogy is using the very “nature” of people to determine relationships with the DNA testing available (I think I’m ready to start exploring this but there’s just no time!).  But I don’t want to start an argument.  I want to talk about whales.

Humpback whales in Alaska engage in “bubble net feeding,” a pack-like behavior not seen with all humpback whales.  At Auke Bay in Juneau, Alaska we saw a bubble net feeding.  I saw 3-5 at a time, but I think someone said they saw up to 9.  A group of whales start with a dive.

Bubbles are blown by the whales and they make a series of calls.  Although our boat captain had dropped a microphone, I never heard the calls.  But it is these calls that seem to drive the school of fish against the “wall” of bubbles.  Then the entire group of whales can scoop of the fish (they swallow them whole), not so unlike what I do with a bowl of hot sauce and some chips.

Nicely done (and not too long so you don’t need to settle in with hot sauce and chips) summary is at the Alaska Whale Foundation website.  I like what they call it there: “a choreographed feeding event.”  My photos don’t do it justice so it’s worth watching this 2:10 YouTube video.

So what’s the point, you may ask while pulling at your hair?  Some whales had to figure this technique out.  And where it worked best.  And teach it.  Learned behavior.  A whale legacy.  Oh, and I love Alaska and I like to talk about it.  I’m ready to plan trip #3 there.

And if you like whales and things of that sort, and you would like to include conservation efforts as part of your legacy AND you are in my neck of the woods, check out San Antonio SeaWorld’s 2nd Annual Run for the Fund which benefits the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.  See you there!

Categories: Alaska?, misc. stuff | Comments Off