28 May 2010

Using U.S. Flags as a Clue in Photos-a video by Maureen Taylor

Maureen Taylor, who will be speaking at the Florida State Genealogical Society Conference in November, posted a short video on how she used clues from the American Flags to date a photo: http://vimeo.com/11907044

Holidays are great times to create new memories but it can also be a good time to collect family stories and share family photos. Do not miss the chance to broaden your genealogy research by looking through old family photo albums,identifying the occasion and people in the photos! This is also a great way to get the younger generations involved in your research.

Be sure to check out the Florida State Conference Blog for information on the November conference: http://www.flsgs.org/

Have a great summer!

19 May 2010

Irish Famine Letters Sold

A collection of more than 2,000 letters from a Dublin law office files (most dealing with finance) were sold at auction to what is believe an Irish Archive. Many of the letters are between Lords and overseers, but some even come from clergy.

This is what is reported on the Irish Central, website. The article, Famine letter collection bought by Irish archive by Donal Thornton who is a staff writer for Irish Central, appeared in the News section.

The disposition of the letters will be revealed in due course. Those interested in this period of Irish history should stay alert.

(the highlighted titles above as normal are linked to web pages)

12 May 2010

Paleography and those Old Documents

Paleography is the study of reading hand-writing. In our modern days, it may be something a M.D. wrote or someone with "really" bad handwriting. Eighty years ago a Census Enumerator had questionable writing skills. The issue of bad handwriting dates back to the beginning of handwriting. You may find forms (mostly legal) dating to before 1800 with the intent of limiting the consequences of bad handwriting.

If you use a Search Engine to find help, you might find, Script Tutorials, an under-construction website that address six of the Western European languages [Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish] and also English. It is a Brigham Young University. This website links to other websites sometimes outside of BYU that have done a great job of explaining how to extract information from old written documents, but often link to another very good BYU web page.

Writers of the past were often Scribes, who learned their craft and found employment writing documents for governments and individuals. The scribes learned their alphabet and writing style from a teacher so look too for style guides since different teacher followed different style guides. Back when, some of the upper classes could read and write, but their writing was not as good as their scribes. Also as we today use contractions and abbreviations so did the writer of the past. Look for collections of the
contractions and abbreviations and their translation.

Another quirk is that the language has evolved. The old vocabulary is smaller (and borrowing from other languages), the spellings maybe a little different, the idiomatic expressions can be out of vogue, and the alphabet may have changed as well.

Genealogically we look for birth, death, and marriage records. These generally have a set format and narrow vocabulary so look for an extraction guide. Wills are a bit harder, but extraction guides can be used here as well.

As for the oddball idiomatic expression not found in dictionaries, I have had some success using Search Engines with the idiomatic expression in quotes. I found that I was not alone in not understanding, but some kind person knew.

You can look for a professional paleographer to transcribe and translate your document, but they are rare and costly. If you do it yourself, you should collect some guides, period dictionaries and useful websites.

This is a task you can do seated in a climate controlled environment. A good university librarian is ideal.

08 May 2010

The Black Sheep of My Family

Who is the person in your family who stands out from all the rest: the creative individual, eccentric, odd-ball, dare-devil, non-conformist by your family standards? Were they teased or honored for being different? Did you know them personally or only by family(or community) reputation? Would you like to share how you came to know about them?

Start thinking about writing your entry for our annual essay contest. The topic for this year's essay is "The Black Sheep of My Family". The winner will be awarded a PCGS annual membership for 2011. The essay should be 2 pages or less in length and double spaced. More details are coming at fall meetings and in the newsletter.

Let's have fun with this topic and get everyone involved.

06 May 2010

$$$ - The Costs of Digging Up Your Ancestry - $$$

In late April of this year, there was an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune Business Section by Candice Choi that was titled "Is digging up your ancestry online worth it?" She points out that with the TV shows "Face of America" on PBS and "Who do you think you are?" on NBC interest has climbed in doing ones genealogy.

This is a business article and Ms. Choi targets the costs of an Ancestry.com subscription and DNA profiles. Click the article and read it yourself. She doesn't mention the free resources or where one might find free access to Ancestry.com.

Maybe if the Family History Center is going to be open (at a reduced schedule) a bit more advertising might keep the place visited by a few more new people.

Descendants are fighting Chicago's Removal of their Cemetery

In the May 5, 2010, Chicago Tribune there is an article, Cemetery fight goes beyond graves. The story is about plans for Chicago's O'Hare Airport expanding runway to cover a 161 year old, still in use, cemetery.

The article includes some of the remembrances the descendants have of their families that are associated with the cemetery.

The descendants and the Church plan to fight city hall.

The cemetery, St. Johannes Cemetery, is in find-a-grave, with pictures.

I thought that since the last newsletter featured the remembrances at the Townsend House Cemetery, a thanksgiving for secure cemeteries should be in our hearts.

01 May 2010

USF Special Collections - In Person or Online

If you are looking for a new site to explore or your next library adventure be sure to check out the University of South Florida Special Collections!

Whether you are researching your Florida roots, need guidance on how to conduct a digital interview or are in need of background information on a given period in history this site (and library) should be on your short list.

Among their holdings are: records and artwork from the Tampa cigar industry; access to the Shoah Foundation Collection and to other materials in the USF Libraries Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center materials; the Floridiana Collection; Hillsborough County Marriage Indexes and Certificates; Naturalization Records; funeral home records from Boza, Blount & Curry, and other funeral homes; records of Ybor City immigrant mutual aid societies and clubs in the Tampa area; and an enormous collection of American Children's Literature.

Check out their site - you never know what you may find!