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           March, 2007

      Carol Sanderson, Editor
      Charles Hansen, Advisor

      Newsletter Archives   |  E-mail                    

  There Is More To Genealogy Than The Internet
— Earl Ross

        For those of us who have been doing family research prior to the Internet, we have a great appreciation for the resources available on the Internet. It seems there are more and better resources added everyday, some you pay for and some are free.

        Prior to the Internet, we had Genealogy Societies and fortunately we still have these organizations. Often for genealogy within a county, one may find branches of state organizations. An example of this is the Hamilton County Ohio branch of the Ohio Genealogical Society. Some are ethnic based, such as The Scottish Genealogy Society.

        This Newsletter had an article on the value of these organizations in October 2002. I would encourage you to look back in our files and give it a read. The article is entitled, Genealogical Societies, by Charles Hansen.

        Granted these organizations vary in the value they are able to contribute based on the cooperation and number of the volunteers, some are better than others. What can these organizations do for you?

        Most have a newsletter about researching in the area. That is generally worth the price of membership itself. One of the best newsletters that I receive quarterly is the Highland Family History Society Journal. It covers the area of Scotland that I am researching, and also, articles about the families in the area. Usually, there is a place to list queries. It is often possible to make contact with a local researcher who can assist you. Some of these researchers are free and some charge a fee.

        Most of the more active Genealogy Societies hold annual seminars, conferences or workshops. Generally the speakers they provide are excellent communicators and professional genealogists. Attend these sessions; they are places to learn and to interact with other genealogists working on the same type of brickwalls that you may have been experiencing. If you go to the home page of this site, you will find a heading called Events Calendar, click on it and find out about some of the many varied activities that occur throughout the year.

        Most of these organizations provide cemetery inscriptions or Tombstone photographs that you can purchase for a very reasonable price. These were all done by volunteers.

        The local genealogy groups also produce books about the area, its history and its people. Sometimes these references are only available from the local group. Sometimes they are bound, sometimes in a spiral format and sometimes just xeroxed and stapled . In any case it is one of a kind material. I have purchased many reference books from the Hamilton County, Ohio organization because they have made good vital records and indexes available. Since I do not live in Cincinnati, Ohio, it gives me a resource that is not available anywhere else but the Cincinnati Public Library. Some of these were purchased from the local group but lately they have been made available through a firm called Little Miami Publishing.

        Many of these organizations would welcome a printed copy of your family tree and any narrative of your family history. They serve as a clearing house making it available to other persons researching that same family.

        If you have done some original research from the area, share it with them free of charge. Let them sell it for a small fee, that is about the only way they can make money for the organization.

        Finally, join these local groups including the ones overseas and far away, you will be the beneficiary. If you live close by, volunteer to help. Be willing to go to the library or the courthouse once a month or so, to look-up queries for other persons researching in your area, who may live at greater distances from the resource library. Volunteer to go to local cemeteries to make inscriptions of the tombstones. Others will benefit and you will feel good about what you are doing. The cost of membership of these local groups is very reasonable. I love the many resources available on the Internet and use them everyday. The Postal Service brings us newsletters throughout the month and they are always read cover-to-cover; some are helpful and some are not. And of course, don't overlook the many good genealogy magazines that are available on news stands, book stores and in libraries.

  Don't Count On Indexes
— Charles Hansen

        I was recently reading a booklet I received from Moorshead Magazines when I re-subscribed to Internet Genealogy. The booklet is 101 Best Genealogy Research Tips. It actually has a bonus tip making it 102 tips. The one that caught my eye was number 8, "Don't Count on Indexes." The tip was not to rely on some indexes as they may not cover the whole book, may not index all the names, or may have errors. Any genealogist who has done much researching knows there are always errors in indexes.

        I have done a lot of indexing over the years and I know reading the old handwriting is hard sometimes. The condition of the original record or microfilm may have been bad making it hard to read also. Squeezing a long name into a small box makes it even worse. My great grandfather's name was Samuel Potoski Dillingham, and on the 1870 census he was listed as S.P. Dillingham, but it was squeezed so small the person indexing the name did not come up with Dillingham. While it was obvious to me, I was not the indexer. It is always easier to find your own family in records.

        The one tip about not indexing all the names had an example of a marriage index where they just indexed the brides and grooms. It did not index the witnesses or ministers and these and people may have been related to the bride or groom. In our library, there are several county histories where the indexes in them are the people who did the biographies and those with pictures. They are not an every name index for the whole book. Some have been indexed later with every name indexes.

        Another tip was that indexes do not always index the whole record set. In our library is a set of seventy plus volumes of books by the D.A.R., which they started in the 1920s called Washington Pionéers. The D.A.R., went around interviewing Washington pionéers who were in Washington before 1891 and still in Washington when the books were done. Almost all of the first thirteen volumes contain pedigree charts of the pionéer families, a narrative on how the family came to Washington, and a little on their life in Washington, and then most important, the sources used for the information in the books. While each volume has a surname index, there is a surname index to the first 52 volumes also. Now the fun part, there are TWO volumes 1-4, so which one is in the large index? The first three volumes on the shelf right next to this index are NOT in the 52 volume index, volumes 1-3 that are in the 52 volume index are at the end of the whole set of books. This group has four volumes and volume 4 of this set is not in the 52 volume index either, volume 4 of the large group is the first one in the 52 volume index and then they indexed that set through volume 52. Since only 4 volumes are not in the index it is fairly easy to check the index in each of the 4 books that are not included in the 52 volume index, but you néed to remember volume 3 has TWO indexes. The group from Eastern Washington did half the book and indexed it and the group from Western Washington did the other half and indexed their section.

        The last tip was about finding errors in on-line indexes. On-line indexes are wonderful, but just because the name you were looking for is not there does not mean your ancestor is not in the index. Many indexes allow you to search by given name or other fields also; maybe by date or place. Some even allow you to search by soundex of the surname so maybe you can find your misindexed ancestor, but then you can always check the material page by page if you still cannot find your ancestor in the index.

        It might help if you can find a key in the volume that tells how the book was indexed.

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