Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolutions for 2012?

Do you make New Year's resolutions? Do you make resolutions specifically related to your genealogy hobby?
I'm not one for making resolutions, but this week I've been reading resolutions--for both last year and this year--written by other genealogy bloggers.
They go from the very simple--Thomas MacEntee's "Abundance"--to a detailed list--see Everyday Genealogy's list here.
I'm thinking I should just take the first item in Everyday Genealogy's list and see if I can make progress on it. Pattie's #1 resolution is:
I resolve to catch up on my filing and get rid of clutter.
It's highly unlikely that I could accomplish this one task, given the state of my genealogy files, notebooks, loose notes, etc., but it's definitely worth a try.
I would certainly love it if more Seattle area genealogists would ascribe to some of her other resolutions, like:
    2. I resolve to join a genealogical society (specifically SGS!)
    4. I resolve to submit an article to a local genealogy or state newsletter/ quarterly. (the SGS Bulletin, of course!)
    7. I resolve to attend one county or state-level genealogical event this year. (preferably the SGS Spring Seminar with George Morgan)
What genealogy resolutions have you made for 2012?
If you share them with other readers of this blog, we'll try to help you stay on track this year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Wishes

                                 Genealogist's Christmas Eve

'Twas the night before Christmas
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even my spouse.

The dining room table with clutter was spread
With pedigree charts and with letters which said...
"Too bad about the data for which you wrote;
Sank in a storm on an ill-fated boat."

Stacks of old copies of wills and such
Were proof that my work had become too much.
Our children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

And I at my table was ready to drop
From work on my album with photos to crop.
Christmas was here, and such was my lot
That presents and goodies and toys I'd forgot.

Had I not been busy with grandparents' wills,
I'd not have forgotten to shop for such thrills,
While others bought gifts to bring Christmas cheers,
I'd spent time researching those birth dates and years.

While I was thus musing about my sad plight,
A strange noise on the lawn gave me such a great fright.
Away to the window I flew in a flash,
Tore open the drapes and yanked up the sash.

When what with my wondering eyes should appear,
But an overstuffed sleigh and eight small reindeer.
Up to the house top the reindeer they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys and 'ole Santa Claus, too.

And then in a twinkle, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of thirty-two hoofs.
As I drew in my head, and bumped it on the sash,
Down the cold chimney fell Santa--KER-RASH!

"Dear" Santa had come from the roof in a wreck,
And tracked soot on the carpet, (I could wring his short neck!)
Spotting my face, good 'ole Santa could see
I had no Christmas spirit you'd have to agree.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
And filled all the stockings, (I felt like a jerk).
Here was Santa, who'd brought us such gladness and joy:
When I'd been too busy for even one toy.

He spied my research on the table all spread
"A genealogist!" He cried! (My face was all red!)
"Tonight I've met many like you," Santa grinned,
As he pulled from his sack a large book he had penned.

I gazed with amusement--the cover it read
Genealogy Lines for Which You Have Plead.
"I know what it's like as a genealogy bug."
He said as he gave me a great Santa hug.

"While the elves make the sleighful of toys I now carry,
I do some research in the North Pole Library!
A special treat I am thus able to bring,
To genealogy folk who can't find a thing."

"Now off you go to your bed for a rest,
I'll clean up the house from this genealogy mess."
As I climbed up the stairs full of gladness and glee,
I looked back at Santa who'd brought much to me.

While settling in bed, I heard Santa's clear whistle,
To his team, which then rose like the down of a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
"Family history is Fun! Merry Christmas! Goodnight!"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gathering data from living relatives

I know we've all wished a thousand times that we'd thought to ask our grandparents and/or great-grandparents about their personal histories. I'm now realizing how little I know about my own parents' lives. In digging through both of their military records, I'm discovering that what I thought I knew is not true. And it's very frustrating.
In last week's Hickory County [MO] Index newspaper, I came across a small article that was undoubtedly submitted by the Missouri State Agricultural Extension Service. They suggest talking with your family during holiday gatherings about their lives. This, of course, is what I suggested in my last blog post.
But wait; there's more!
The Greene County Extension Center has published a 20-page printable PDF called "A History of Me" that's available at for anyone to download and use. I'm thinking about printing it out and sending it with our Christmas letter to all my relatives. I have no idea whether any of them will sit down and write down some answers or not, but at least it might get them talking/thinking about information to leave for future generations.
Come to think of it, maybe I should sit down and complete one of these booklets about my life for my kids.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Genealogy Thanksgiving

By now you all know that I follow Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings blog. Last weekend his "Saturday night genealogy fun" topic was Thanksgiving. You can read his post here.
As usual, Randy's challenge got me thinking.
What genealogy resources am I most thankful for? ....people, published works, digital databases....?
My answers to Randy's challenge are:
(1) my maternal grandmother, who helped write a history of the Boone family and got me interested in helping her with Pennsylvania resources;
(2) any collections of "minor" or previously "hidden" records for my geographical areas of interest;
(3) FamilySearch for the zillions of records they make available for FREE, especially those that can be accessed digitally.
Expanding this train of thought a bit, what am I most thankful for about SGS?
(1) our wonderful dedicated volunteers who continually amaze me by their willingness to take on hard tasks and keep SGS rolling;
(2) the support of our landlady, Verla Kwiram, who has graciously kept our rent stable for the last 4+ years;
(3) members who attend our programs and share their stories, allowing us all to keep on learning.
Thanks to all of you who keep SGS running and keep us all learning.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and have lots to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

RootsTech 2012 Opportunities

In case you haven't noticed, each of the "official" RootsTech 2012 bloggers have been given one free RootsTech registration to give away for free.
Most of them seem to have pretty much the same rules--check out the RootsTech schedule at and then email the blogger about a session you'd like to attend.
RootsTech 2012 will be held in Salt Lake City on February 2-4. I know a couple of SGS members attended last year's inaugural RootsTech conference and were quite impressed with the speakers and sessions.
Act fast and you may be able to win free registration to this year's conference at: [ends tonight]  [ends tonight] [ends Nov 16]
Several of the official bloggers' contests have already ended. Sorry. I missed them, too.

Monday, November 7, 2011

How do you learn?

SGS tries to offer a wide range of educational programs for our members, but only a small fraction of you ever attend any of these offerings. There seems to be a core group of members who attend our classes and presentations, but the vast majority of you stay home.
My question to you is--Why? Is it because we're not offering programs of interest to you? Is the timing or location inconvenient? Do you prefer learning from books or online rather than in a lecture setting?
While we are in a transition period (our Director of Education, Cary Bright, has resigned and we are searching for a replacement), I would like to know more about why more members don't attend our educational offerings. Please take a moment to answer the brief survey in the upper righthand corner of this page, leave a comment below, or email me directly at
Oh, and BTW, this Thursday's technology presentation focuses on webinars and podcasts. You'll be amazed at the number of FREE online offerings available.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Are you in my photo?

I just received notice of a new photo sharing website called "Are you in my photo?" It's at purpose of the website is to allow people to post photos containing unknown people, places or things and have other people identify those unknowns for them. Their theory is that most of the photos we have are not unique; there were multiple copies printed. If the people holding the multiple copies can be connected, there's a much better chance the people (or places or things) in the photos can be identified.
In order to post photos, you have to sign up for either a free or paid account. Paid accounts allow you to enter contests, though I didn't see anything posted about contests yet.
When Dan Lynch spoke here on behalf of HQRL two years ago he encouraged the development of this type of website. It's also something SGS has considereed--posting photos of unknowns and asking for help identifying them. If this site takes off, it could be a real boon to identifying all those unlabeled photos we all have.
Check it out and share your thoughts.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October is Family History Month!

Welcome to Family History Month! As the days get shorter, wetter and cooler, it's time to return our attention to family history. What projects have you got lined up to accomplish this month? What topics do you need to learn more about? What "brick walls" do you need to get over, under, around or through?

If you haven't completed your research into your military ancestors, by all means plan on attending the SGS Fall Seminar on Saturday, October 22nd. In honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the US Civil War, the entire day will focus on U.S. MILITARY RECORDS. The full list of presentations and registration materials are available on our website at Note that the registration deadline is Oct. 14th for "regular price" and lunch orders. This year you can register online and pay through PayPal if you'd like. The links are on our website. Please invite your friends, as our seminars generate essential revenue for SGS.

SGS will also be holding a special LIBRARY OPEN HOUSE this month on Sunday, Oct. 16th. Do you have friends, cousins, or neighbors who might be interested in getting started on their family trees? Help SGS attract new members by inviting them to stop by on Oct. 16th. We'll have experienced researchers available to help them fill out family group sheets and ancestor charts, as well as experienced desk volunteers to provide tours of the SGS library. If you'd like to help, please email Michelle at

There are several special giveaways going on right now in honor of Family History Month. is giving away a prize each day through Oct 15th in honor of their 15th anniversary. You need to register each day at to be eligible. Family Tree Magazine is also offering daily drawings in their "Daily Deal & Giveaway" at Our own Director of Volunteers won today! If you're a fan of, they're giving away one-month "pro" subscriptions each day this month. You can check out their contest at

October is also Archives Month. While SGS has lots of archival material, it's not very accessible or organized, but we're trying. There's an Archives Fair at the downtown Seattle Public Library this Wednesday, Oct. 5th and again on Oct. 29th. Find out more at You'll also note that there are free archival training sessions at the Puget Sound Archives and at NARA this month. Learn more at

And if that isn't enough, Thursday, Oct. 6th, has been declared the inaugural "Day of Digital Archives" (See: ) What are you doing to celebrate?

Monday, September 12, 2011

SGS's New Website

So, have you checked out our new website yet?
It's at
Catchy name, eh?
No more Rootsweb.
No more Ancestry.
Our very own URL on a non-Ancestry server.
Director of Publications Annette Dwyer and her web design team (Dawn Bingaman, Michelle Khuon, Jamie Shaffer, and me) worked for over 6 months to totally redesign our website. With the help of volunteers from the Seattle Drupal Users Group, we then held a "barn raising" to create the new site using the free Drupal software.
What do you think?
There are still a few "glitches"--like the font size control not working on any of the pages, some alphabatizing glitches in the library catalog listings, and the calendar not working the way we'd like.
But other than those things, what do you think?
Do you like being able to renew using a webform and PayPal online?
Do you like being able to make donations to SGS online?
Would you like to help with the next major effort of creating a "Members Only" section of the website? We've talked about being able to post actual searchable records (such as the King County Court Records Index and our Index to Washington Territorial Land Claims) there, as well as handouts and short summaries of programs held at SGS.
What else would you like to see in a "Members Only" area?
Would this be a place you would visit often?
Please share your thoughts by filling out the "Post a Comment" box below.
Thank you.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

TechTips at

Julie Monson and Leslie Edmunds presented a fantastic program at SGS today on "What's New at" It was aimed at the intermediate researcher--the level over half our members identify with.
I've spent quite a lot of time trying to keep up with all the changes at, the totally FREE LDS genealogy website. It seems to be changing almost constantly. Lucky for us, most of the changes are definitely for the better!
One new item I hadn't noticed is the new "TechTips" section. At the top of the home page ( ) you'll need to click on the word "Learn" in the navigation bar at the top of the page. On the "Learning Resources" page scroll down to below the pictures and 3 columns, where you'll see:
Discover technologies that will improve your family history research and knowledge. Try TechTips
Click on the blue hyperlinked words (the ones above should work) and you'll go to the entry page for TechTips. It's an amazing collection of useful technology information. The purple nav bar near the top of the page shows 6 categories of links:
1. How To's and Tips
2. Learn About
3. Apps and Tools
4. Learn How to Buy
5. Viewpoint
6. Contribute
There is an incredible wealth of information on this sub-site that should prove useful to both beginners to computer genealogy (Learn About File Formats; Learn How to Buy a Computer) and advanced users (Viewpoint article on whether to digitize photos; web and phone apps). The "Contribute" section provides guidance on how to share information you think might be useful to others.
I'm pretty sure TechTips hasn't been around very long. I'm guessing it's  an outgrowth from the first RootsTech conference this past February. Do take some time to browse what's available. As people add articles and opinions, I think this is going to be a very useful resource for genealogists. And, like all LDS resources, it's FREE!
Thank you to Julie and Leslie for sharing so much great information with us today.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Google+ for Genealogists

Yesterday morning (our time) Legacy Family Tree broadcast a webinar titled "Google+ -- The Next Big Thing." I actually sat here and listened/watched the entire webinar, which ran almost two hours. It was very interesting and well presented. You, too, can watch the webinar, at least for the next week, at   Sometimes Legacy charges for access after the first week, so watch this one now!
The webinar is divided into three distinct sessions with three different presenters. After some introductions, Paul Allen of (no, not OUR Paul Allen!), talks about the Google Plus website and how quickly it has grown.
Then Dan Lynch, Mr. Google Genealogy, demonstrates and talks about how to use Google+, including circles, streams, sparks, and hangouts.
Finally Mark Olsen, also from, demonstrates a "hangout," ie. a video chat room--live!
It was all quite fascinating, even for a relatively confirmed Facebook user like me. I can see that it would be quite helpful to be able to send specific messages and share particular photos with only some of your "friends," instead of having the share everything with all of your Facebook friends. I don't share much genealogy stuff on Facebook because I figure most of my "friends" would dump me pretty quickly. But on Google+ I can create a "circle" of genealogy friends and direct my genealogy comments just to them. Dan also showed how you can join existing circles based on your interests and geographic area. He was in one related to an ancestor's birth province in Italy. Pretty cool, eh?
The only catch is that you can only join Google+ if you're invited by someone already registered. And, of course, you need a gmail address (which is free) to register.
Just out of curiosity, how many of you are already registered users of Google+? What do you think of it?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Daily Inspiration...for Free!

Do you need a little inspiration to jump start your genealogy research?
I certainly do.
Not that I have a lot of time for research these days, but when I do have some time, I often find myself at a loss for what to do.
Lately I've been finding inspiration and ideas for "next steps" in two places: Michael John Neill's "Genealogy Tip of the Day" blog at and Scott Phillips' "Onward to Our Past" blog at
Both tend to give very concrete tips for conducting family history research.
Michael's are short daily "snippets"; Scott's tend to be longer and more detailed "Tip(s) for the *Real World* Genealogist."
Both are available as Facebook feeds--meaning you don't have to visit their blogs every day to find out what they're saying.
Are there other daily genealogy tip sites out there?
If you know of one, please share it by leaving a comment below.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Order Family History Library Films from Home

It's finally here.
The Family History Library has finally set up a system that allows patrons to order their microfilms online and only visit their local Family History Center to view the film.
You can check this system out at
You'll need to identify the microfilms/microfische you need at first, or course.
You will also need to create a user ID and password with Family Search to use this system. No fees charged to sign up. If you've already signed up as a transcriber, that ID will work.
It looks like you can pay by either credit card or PayPal.
Price is a bit confusing. At first, the price showed as $5.00. Once I entered my address, it jumped to $5.50. But that's still $1.00 less than I was charged the last time I ordered a film in person at the North Stake FHC.
Leave a note and let us know how this new system works for you.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Getting Ready for the 1940 Census

Yes, I know.
April 2, 2012 seems a long way off.
But if you've lost as many ancestors as I have between 1930 and 1950, you're getting anxious to start digging into the 1940 US Census.
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has now posted their 1940 census enumeration district maps online so that we can all get started figuring out exactly which EDs we're going to need to search when the 1940 census is released next spring.
To view the maps, go to
In the SEARCH box enter 1940 Census Maps [county name] [state name].
For example, I entered 1940 Census Maps Hickory Missouri and was rewarded with two results. One of them has a small symbol to the left of the title that indicates "Digital Copy Available." Clicking on that first title takes me to a page with 4 tabs--Details; Archived Copies; Digital Copies; Hierarchy.
Clicking on Digital Copies rewarded me with 4 maps of Hickory County, each marked with the ED numbers for the 1940 Census.
If you've got people lost in US cities in 1940, I'd definitely recommend starting now to identify the probable enumeration districts they were in. Going from city directories to maps can be tedious.
There's no guarantee when indexes to the 1940 census might be made available, but we do know that NARA intends to release the digital census page images on April 2nd, 2012.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Are you a History Detective?

OK. I admit it. I'm addicted to History Detectives on PBS.
Tonight's show is #3 in this summer's series (8:00 pm on channel 9/109). If you missed the first two, you can watch them online at
What I love about History Detectives is their "common man" focus. They track down the stories behind artifacts belonging to "regular" people. Many of these artifacts have been in families for multiple generations, along with stories about what they are and where they came from. The History Detectives find experts in all sorts of interesting places--tiny historical museums, universities, company archives--and they show the process of determining the historical significance of the artifacts featured, as well as the results of that process.
I've tried to get the History Detectives to research one of my family artifacts by filling out their online form. No bites so far.
Do you have a family heirloom or artifact with an interesting story? How about writing about it for the SGS Bulletin? With our new printer we can include photographs, maps, and other illustrations in our publications. You don't have to write a book--we can work in almost any sized article. Just scribble a few paragraphs and submit them to You may soon see your name in print!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The End of an Era

Today I attended Darlene Hamilton's retirement party at the Seattle Public Library. If you've done ANY genealogy research in Seattle, you've probably met Darlene. She has served as a genealogy librarian at the downtown Seattle Public Library since 1971--40 YEARS!
I can remember back in 1979 when I started working at Seattle City Light and needed something to do with my lunch hours. I used to ride the elevator through the old SeaFirst building and walk across the street to SPL and the genealogy desk on the first floor. Darlene pointed me to some great resources I may not have found without her assistance, especially the Boone Family Association files. What a windfall! And all those CDs the library used to have. I found all sorts of useful information in them.
One speaker at Darlene's retirement party today estimated that she had helped about 250,000 people in her 40 years at the library. I would submit that she helped EACH of those people with kindness, congeniality, patience and efficiency. She's probably broken down more brick walls for patrons than anyone else in Seattle!
What's perhaps more amazing is that Darlene has sat on the SGS Board for 40 years. That means she's sat through over 400 Board meetings without even having a vote. Darlene has been the "corporate history" of SGS for all these years and I, for one, have relied on her to tell us when we're trying to reinvent the wheel (so to speak). I can't imagine what we're going to do without her, but I sure hope she'll come back as a volunteer after she's finished kicking up her heels a bit.
Thank you, Darlene, for all you've done for Seattle genealogists and for genealogy in Seattle!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

SGS to be part of GiveBIG!

On June 23rd, the Seattle Foundation is sponsoring a one-day major donation effort to help support Puget Sound non-profits called GiveBIG. SGS has registered with them, so we are eligible to receive donations through the Seattle Foundation website on June 23rd AND to share in the "stretch dollars" that will be allocated proportionately to all non-profits that receive donations on that date.
I know that many of you sent in donations with your recent membership renewal. We don't want to hound you constantly about donating to SGS, but if you have friends and neighbors who aren't SGS members but possibly understand the importance of maintaining our library and facility, please mention to them that SGS is part of GiveBIG. Here's a link to our page on the Seattle Foundation's website:
We are listed under "Neighborhoods & Communities" and can most easily be found by putting "genealogical" in the search box. The only other genealogy society listed is the Jefferson County Genealogical Society.
Anything you can do to help get the word out about this special opportunity for SGS to receive donations would be most appreciated.
Thank you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Is SGS hard to find?

One of the topics discussed at Sunday's SGS Annual Meeting was whether or not our current space fills our needs. Now that our Archives Committee has discovered how many archival records are stored in our closet, it's pretty clear that we either need a bigger space or that we need to get rid of some of our current holdings to open up space for making our archival holdings accessible. There was a collective gasp when disposing library holdings was mentioned, but it is still an option.

During the general space disucssion, several people commented that even with the bright blue awning, the SGS library isn't very obvious to people driving by on Sandpoint Way NE at 40+ miles per hour. And it's even more difficult to tell if the library is open when you drive by. Suggestions for making the library more obvious included placing a sandwich board in the parking strip when we're open or installing a neon OPEN sign or a signboard in the planting area. What do you think? How can we make our SGS library stand out on a busy road?

Also, in case you haven't heard, our SGS website "raising" event is taking place this weekend. If you've ever been curious about how a website comes to life, stop by for an hour or two and observe the goings-on. If you'd like to learn how to create your own website using Drupal (free content management software that powers websites and applications), come on Sunday when our Drupal experts will be providing instruction. SGS is providing food for this event, so please sign up at by 9:00 pm Thursday.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Appreciating SGS Volunteers

The SGS Board sponsored a "Volunteer Appreciation Day" at SGS on Monday, May 16th. We provided lunch and/or dinner and offered help with research problems. I am thrilled to report that 35 of our dedicated volunteers came, but sorry to say that I didn't manage to talk to many of them. I was too busy searching for missing ancestors. Thank you to all who came and to the board members who made this event possible.
Several attendees asked me why one group of volunteers (the SGS Board) was doing all the work. My answer: We want to make sure that our member volunteers understand how important they are to the Society's well-being. Granted, Board members spend many, many hours volunteering on behalf of SGS, but we aren't the people who keep the SGS library open 30 hours a week, make most of the presentations, keep track of memberships, catalog new library books, inventory our archival materials, etc.
Director of Volunteers Becky Kaufman reports that 90 SGS members have volunteered this year. That's almost double the number we had last year. And that's undoubtedly the reason so much has gotten done at SGS this year. Please come to the Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 5th, and learn what SGS has accomplished this past year.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reading Genealogy Blogs

Do you read any genealogy blogs on a regular basis? Please take the poll at right and let me know.
I've followed several geneablogs off and on for several years, but lately I've gotten hooked on Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings ( I've added his RSS feed to my Google home page, so when I open Internet Explorer I can see immediately if Randy's made a new post...which is every day, often multiple times a day. Certain days of the week are "theme" days, which many geneabloggers follow. Randy also summarizes what's happening on a large number of other blogs every week, which I find particularly helpful (since I don't have to check them all!).
Today Randy wrote about planning genealogical seminars (in response to a topic suggestion by Thomas MacEntee ( Randy makes a number of very interesting points based on his experiences with the Chula Vista Genealogical Society. Check his comments out at and let me know what other seminar planning suggestions you have. I agree with most of his you?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Archives Preservation

Do you have old photos and negatives, letters, digital photos and files?
Would you like to learn how best to preserve them?
Attend a FREE Archives Preservation Roadshow at NARA on May 14th.
Bring your questions about preserving personal or family documents (in any format) and get advice from trained archivists and museum professionals from a variety of backgrounds and institutions around the area. Get in-person information about how to preserve: Photographic prints and negatives; letters and other family documents; moving images (films) and audio; electronic documents, and digital photos; and much, much more…
For more information, check out
or email

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Another limited time Freebie

Now that you've all exhausted the free Civil War resources at, I'm happy to report another freebie. In honor of National Library Week, the Gale Press is offering free access to their databases. I'm not sure when a week turned into 14 days, but the free access is good from April 10th through April 24th, so there are a few days left to explore.
Just go to and scroll down to the database links. Of the 6 choices, I'm guessing those of most interest to SGS members will be the Gale News Vault, with over 10 million scanned and indexed pages, and the "Slavery and Anti-Slavery" archive.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Free Ancestry Civil War Databases

Have you heard about the FREE access that Ancestry is offering to their Civil War databases this week? The offer is good from today (April 7th) until next Thursday (April 14th). What's even better is that they've added a number of NEW resources. Here's a link to the list of CW resources now available to everyone:
In addition, is offering free access to their Civil War records, too. Such a deal!
I spent a little time this afternoon playing with the "Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865" on Ancestry. They're organized by state (Union only), then Congressional District. After searching for a few of my Missouri names and finding nothing, I discovered that you don't have to put a name (of any kind) in the search box. I just put "Hickory County, Missouri" in the "Lived In" box on the left. Amazingly, I got quite a nice alphabetized list of all the men included in this county. Since so many of my family names are often horrendously misspelled, finding them by searching for my surnames is almost impossible. This way of searching led me to all the men in the county. Also interesting is that these records INCLUDE men who already served, with notations as to unit and length of service.
If you find other cool info in these free resources, please leave a comment.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Are you ready for the 1940 Census?

I was just reading Randy Seaver's blog (, which is always entertaining and often thought provoking. Today he wrote about preparing for the release of the 1940 US Census in 364 days. Reading his list of people he'd like to find and where they were living on April 1, 1940 made me realize that I have a lot of work to do. I think both of my parents were in the US Army in April 1940, but am not really positive. How the heck am I going to find them in the census? I don't have a clue where my father's family were, so will need to do a lot of prep work on them. And my mother's parents and grandparents were all in "rural" areas--i.e., places with less than 2500 population (a lot less, in their cases!).
It's interesting to see what questions were asked in the 1940 census (check out Ancestry's info page at Also frustrating to learn that "supplementary questions" were only asked of 5% of the population--two people per page of 40 names. I'm hoping that at least the census takers had to ask those supplementary questions of adults, not just anyone whose name appeared on lines 14 and 29.
Randy suggests making a list of EVERYONE in your extended family who was alive in 1940 and trying to find a 1940 address for them now, before the census records are made public. Then we'll all be ready to grab those 1940 US census pages next year on April 2nd! Sounds like a good idea to my spare time.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Presentations at SGS

We've had two great presentations at SGS this weekend: Sharyl Swope gave us an introduction to Legacy genealogy software yesterday (Saturday) and Alan McCool taught about the importance of geographic boundaries in genealogy research today (Sunday). I attended both, even though I don't use Legacy and am a geographer by training. And I learned something new at both talks.
My question: Why don't more SGS members attend our educational programs?
22 people attended Sharyl's talk (a very respectable number, IMHO); only 5 of us attended Alan's presentation today. Why the difference?
Should we stop scheduling presentations for Sunday afternoons? Since the overwhelming response to last year's surveys was that we need to schedule presentations on weekends, NOT weeknights or weekdays, we've been trying to make use of both weekend days.
As Director of Education Jean Roth said this afternoon, it's embarrassing to ask a speaker to spend hours preparing and then have only a few people attend. How can we avoid this happening in the future?
Was it today's topic that wasn't of interest? Do you just not know what you don't know?
Did we not publicize today's talk appropriately or sufficiently?
We have 3 more Sunday talks scheduled in April and May. Should we try to move them to other times?
I really would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. You can post them here by clicking on the "COMMENT" button below, or email me directly at Thank you.
P.S.: Please take a moment to answer the new survey question at right.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Interesting Genealogy Survey

A fellow named Myles Proudfoot, a marketing professional and genealogist, has created an online research survey about people's genealogy habits, attitudes and origins. This survey takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete. I found it pretty interesting myself. Since Myles has offered to share his results with anyone who's interested, I'm encouraging all genealogists to take it. 

You can access the survey at:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Family Tech Website

Presumably all of you know about RootsTech--a big (over 3000 attendees!) conference held in Salt Lake City earlier this month focusing on genealogy and technology. The LDS church and their Family History Library were major sponsors of the multi-day meetings. From all accounts I've heard/read, it sounds like the meeting was very successful. Genealogy nerds everywhere were thrilled to meet and share their techie information, either in person or via the internet.
Unfortunately, my internet connection hasn't been dependable enough to partake of the real-time online broadcasts. And I haven't been able to find where the live broadcasts have been archived online--if, in fact, they have.
But I have followed a few of my favorite genealogy bloggers and their comments on RootsTech.
One "gleaning" from these bloggers is that FamilySearch has created a new "Family Tech" section on containing technology tips for genealogists and family historians. You can find it at There are five subareas to this site, focusing on Computing, Software, Devices, Internet and HowTos. Do spend some time browsing. There's a wealth of information here for all levels of technology skills, but definitely biased toward the neophyte. From what I can tell, the site is essentially a wiki, containing contributed articles on whatever technology-related subjects people want to contribute.
Do take some time to browse this site and bookmark it for future use. Especially with the demise of the SGS Computer Interest Group, most of us need new sources for obtaining answers to our genealogy computing questions.

Monday, January 31, 2011

"Who Do You Think You Are?" is Back!

Surely all SGS members and other practicing genealogists know about "Who Do You Think You Are?"--the NBC/ TV program that focuses on tracing the ancestry of celebrities. Last year's debut season included some interesting stories. My one complaint was that it made the research process seem ridiculously easy. You show up at an archive or library and they hand you a completed family tree or letter written by or about your ancestor. Don't you wish? It will be interesting to see if this year's series is any more realistic.
Regardless, I'll be watching.
The first program in the new series airs at 8:00 pm on NBC (5/105 in Seattle) this Friday, February 4th. According to an email Ancestry sent out a couple of days ago, the first show will feature Vanessa Williams, former Miss America, and various of her illustrious ancestors. Week two will focus on Tim McGraw. Others in this year's series include Kim Cattrall, Rosie O'Donnell, Lionel Richie, Steve Buscemi, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd (order of programs unknown).
To hype up more interest in their program, Ancestry is offering an opportunity to win a $20,000 trip to you ancestral home land. Follow this link to the contest entry form: 
Good luck!
If any of your friends get interested in genealogy because of this program, please let them know that SGS will be hosting an "open library--getting started" day on Sunday, March 6th, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. We'll be happy to get them hooked on searching for their ancestors!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Are you ready to lead SGS?

SGS elections occur in April. But before elections can occur, we need nominees. We elected a nominating committee last Spring and they are now hard at work trying to find qualified members to serve on next year's Board.
Much as I've enjoyed serving as SGS president the last two years, I am not running for re-election. No previous president has served for more than 2 consecutive years and I don't see any reason to be the first.
There are certainly many things I'd still like to see happen at SGS--like getting more members involved in our activities, starting/finishing indexing some of our records, upgrading our computers, establishing a computer lab area, moving into a larger space with a separate meeting room.... My "wish list" is quite long. But I really need to be more available for travel with my husband, who isn't getting any younger.
Hopefully some of you appreciate the changes at SGS over the last year and a half--increased program offerings, more communication with members, searching for and obtaining grant funding, operating more like a business (adopting policies and procedures to guide our activities). If so, I hope some of you are willing to run for Board positions. SGS doesn't run itself; we need dedicated volunteers to keep the Society functioning. Please take a few minutes to check out the short job descriptions on our website at and then send an email to Bruce Finlayson, Nominating Committee chair, at with an offer to run. Thank you.