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           February, 2006

      Carol Sanderson,
      Charles Hansen, Technical Advisor

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  Genealogy Societies and the Internet
- by Charles Hansen

        In the January 1, 1906 Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter is an article titled "Heritage Societies Reported to be Growing". The article goes on about how the DAR and the Mayflower Societies are growing while most local genealogical societies are losing members, and the internet was one of the reasons for the heritage societies to grow and the local genealogicalsocieties to lose members.

        Both, Carol and I, have previously written that joining the local genealogical society is important because of the educational opportunities offered, but we also wrote you should join the local society in the areas you are researching. Before the internet, this was a great way to find out what records were available in the area, buy books or records from that area, and even find others researching the same family from queries published in their newsletter. Today all of that is available on the internet for anyone to check out at 2 am in the morning without joining the far off society, but the local society still offers the education that can help you use the internet better, and hopefully find your elusive ancestors.

        Why are the heritage societies growing? Eastman's article said the internet has made it a lot easier for the heritage societies to get their message out. The other reason given was that the heritage societies were casting off their image as elitist organizations and appealing to the mainstream Americans. Both reasons seem possible, the heritage societies were very elitist, and a lot of Americans who can trace their ancestors back to the Mayflower or the Revolution are not part of the social elite. Many are just hard working average Americans. The internet has been a great place for everyone to search for their roots.

        While few local genealogical societies have an elitist image, they will also néed to appeal to the masses. Of the many records extracted by the local societies, most are finding their way to the internet. It seems that few people in our society are interested in local records and I will guess this is pretty common in most all societies. However, some records posted on the internet will help someone, and one may be the record that knocks a hole in your brick wall was posted by a local society somewhere else. Both the extractions and posting on the internet take many hours of volunteer s time. How does a society keep volunteers?

        One way is to thank the volunteers. Our local society has had a January luncheon to honor the past presidents, and DSMs (Distinguished Service Members) since before I became a member. This year they said they would announce a new DSM, and I had thought I knew who it would be and I was correct. To become a DSM you must have been a member for at least ten years and provided more than normal service to the society. Many years no DSMs are announced. This makes it a real honor to become a DSM. DSMs do not pay dues once they are appointed DSM. Other volunteers are also recognized for their service. Does recognizing the work of volunteers help to keep them and encourage others to join the society? It seems to. While our society is not growing much, it is not loosing members either. This year's group of officers includes a few new and younger members. I hope that thanking members for their work helps. Thanks to all who volunteer at your local genealogical society.

Editors Note: Charles was awarded DSM status in 2004.

- by Carol Sanderson

        We take many journeys during our lives. Some of them relate to genealogy. However, whether they are related to genealogy or not we usually have road maps that we use when taking them. Without these one can get hopelessly lost. With the use of them our lives and travels are easier.

        Maps have been in existence for many centuries. The older maps can help us find what the area where our ancestors lived was like. Some may even help us find the exact location of their house. More and more these maps in repositories throughout the world are being put on line.

        I caught just a brief glimpse of something on TV, one morning as I was eating breakfast that was about that very thing. This person was talking about the map room in The New York City Public Library. She mentioned that they have a very large collection of maps and these are being put on line. It is easier to look for something that way. If you have success and find something but want to see it better, then a trip to this library becomes necessary but you know that you are not going there blind.

        According to Sharon DeBartolo Carmack in an article called "Master Plans" in Family Tree Magazine for December 2005, maps can be placed into nine classifications. They are:

  • Road Atlases
  • Gazetteers
  • State Road maps
  • County Road Maps
  • US Geological Survey Maps
  • Migration Maps
  • Census Enumeration Maps
  • Maps showing boundary changes
  • Fire insurance maps.

        Some of these could overlap on what they do such as the road atlases and the state maps. The state and county maps are generally on a larger scale so it is easier to use them once you know where your ancestor lived than say the maps in the road atlases. Others show specific things such as the survey maps. These show the terrain of the area they cover and some of the landmarks. The census enumeration district maps show the boundaries of the census district and the addresses of houses and other buildings within them. Fire insurance maps show the location of buildings and describe what they were made of as well as some other information.

        Several of these have been described in other articles in past issues of this newsletter. It might be worth going back to review some of the past newsletters. Books such as The Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources and The Handybook for Genealogists 10 ed. have maps that will show you county boundaries and also information on where in the county certain documents are held and also addresses to use for correspondence. The Map Guide to the Federal Censuses, 1790 - 1920 by William Dollarhide has good maps showing how enumeration districts for the census have changed from one census to the next. It can also show you some of the boundary line changes over the years. Remember that state boundaries have changed in some instances as well as county boundaries. Dollarhide, also has a book, Map Guides to American Migration Routes, 1735 - 1815 which could be helpful.

        Look at maps and get to know the areas where your ancestors were. This will help I am sure. I am going to list some websites that deal with maps or collections of maps that are online.

These sites should all be useful. You should explore them, do not wait until you think you may néed the information; look first. You can bookmark those you think would be most helpful.

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