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paf-editor.htm Mother Lode Genealogy & Computer User Group

The Mother Lode Genealogy & Computer User Group
Guest Editor Page

The purpose of this page is to bring articles of note to the attention of our members and readers once or twice a year.

"Learning How to Involve Our Children/Grandchildren/Younger Cousins/Nephews/Nieces in Genealogy Research"

Patricia Rowell, Retired FHC Director & Genealogist

Family History Center Genealogy Class, (date not recorded) on books of this subject.

Pat Rowell brought this topic up for discussion during a beginning genealogy class at the Nevada City CA Family History Center, because she kept hearing patrons remarking that:

  1. "Nobody else in the family is interested in the family tree..."
  2. "What's to become of all my research - is it going to be thrown in the trash after I die?"

Feeling some responsibility for her patrons and the wonderful research works they were accomplishing, Pat decided to do some research on the subject, to see if there were helpful ways to bring the younger generations into the fold. During one of her many trips to Salt Lake City Utah's famed Family History Library, she talked with some of the school-aged children she saw working in the FHL, to learn why these children spent afterschool hours in the FHL instead of pursuing other usual teenage activities.

Our children and grandchildren are "naturals" as genealogy helpers, and what better way to make sure there is a place for our research to "go and be used" when we depart this earthly life?

A different solution was to help her patrons get the research published, or at least microformed (microfiche deemed best way to go). A separate class was held on publishing methods and how to distribute to libraries or genealogy societies in the areas where the ancestors lived.

If enough interest is shown, class notes will be included in a column on a future update. Please let Pat know, by phone or email. Other articles on this subject will also be sought from notable authors. Thank you ~~~~~!

NOTE: In keeping with our earlier discussion, an artcle by Michael John Neill, "More Genealogy for Kids" as published in the online Ancestry Daily News is our Guest Editor article for August 1999. Blanket permission to publish in genealogy society newsletters granted by Mr. Neill in the Ancestry publication as long as full credit and copy right information are included. Mr. Neill is the Course I Coordinator at the Genealogical Institute of Mid America (GMIA) held annually in Springfield, Illinois, and is also on the faculty of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Michael is the Web columinist for the FGS FORUM and is on the editorial board of the Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly. He conducts seminars and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical and computer topics and contributes to several genealogical publications, including Ancestry and Genealogical Computing.


By Guest Editor for August 1999
Michael John NEILL

There are many things one can do to interest children and young adults in genealogy. What follows are some suggestions and ideas. They are by no means comprehensive and are intended to provoke brainstorming on the part of the reader. The activities should be geared towards the appropriate age, ability level, and interest of the child.

The ideas are not grouped according to any cognitive scheme. As with anything, some activities will work better with some children than others.


Looking for tombstones can be a family activity. Children can copy tombstone information on to their own notepaper or even make a map, showing respective loctions of the stones. While plotting the loction of each and every stone may be beyond their ability, a map showing the relative positions of family stones and enough landmarks to help find the stones again later may be a more workable project. If the child has a camera of their own, they may even want to take pictures. Old stones can topple and small children should not roam a cemetery unsupervised. Several years ago, in a cemetery not far from where I grew up, a child inadvertently toppled an old stone on himself and was killed.


We all have ancestors who moved from one place to another. Using an age appropriate map, the child could mark where various events in the ancestor's life took place. Other activities could include determining the mileage between the various residences and how far the ancestor moved throughout their life.

If you know exactly where a certain ancestor lived, mark it on a map. If it is in the country, what towns are nearby? If you know where the family attended church, where was it in relation to their house? Where was the school in relation to their home? The same mapping could be done with other landmarks. The library, courthouse, historical or genealogical society may have county, township, or city maps to aid you in this process.


Inventories of an estate are a wonderful source for the genealogist. Take an estate inventory from an ancestor one or two hundred years in the past and find out what the items are and explain the more interesting ones. Older children can use reference materials and determine what the items are for themselves. There are wonderful, personalized history lessons to be had in these records.


Genealogy requires a lot of reading. While suggesting a child read a transcript of a court case is too much, there are records that are more appropriate. Biographies from old county histories and "mug books" are ideal. The locations could be mapped out or you could even ask the child questions based upon the biography.


Genealogists use numbers frequently. Taking a family in the 1850 census and approximating the individual's birth dates from their ages is an exercise in subtraction. How much older is the father than the mother (or vice versa)? Were all the children born in the same place?

Take a person listed in several censuses and have the child use the age listed in each census to determine the year of birth for that person. Are they all the same? Are they close? What would you guess the birth date is? Why?


Do you have census records that show your family's neighbors? Have the child look at the neighboring families. Do they all have small children? What are the occupations of the neighbors? How does the ancestral family compare to those living nearby? For censuses 1850 and after, birthplaces allow for comparisons with neighboring families. Is the family living in an immigrant neighborhood? Are there other families nearby from the same area?


Do you have any CDs that have well-known people on them? There are several large databases commercially available that contain presidents and well-known figures. Statewide census CDs and census indexes are good examples. I have the 1850 Illinois census on CD-ROM. While he's not related, it only took me a few seconds to find Abraham Lincoln listed as an attorney with his family in Sangamon County, Illinois.

Who was president when a certain ancestor was born? Who was president when they died?


Have the child think of alternate spellings for a surname. It might be best to demonstrate this first, by misspelling a word based on different phonetic interpretations or "dialects." You might even want to keep the list the child makes for you[r] own use. After all, not all 1850 census takers were highly educated.


Are there ways the child can assist you in your research? If they are old enough, they can look for individuals in the Social Security Death Index, the AIS Census indexes, or any of the hundreds of online databases available through the Internet. Of course, you will want to point your budding genealogist in the direction of offline sources. The advantage of using online sources with children is that if they get cranky or bored, other "patrons" are not bothered and you can always come back and do more research later.


Decide first how to handle this issue. If one family has significant skeletons, it might be best to work on another family. Keep in mind the age of the child and their maturity level. Lengthy discussions of mothers dying in childbirth, young fathers dying, and children dying may leave the child with anxieties about their own parents and siblings. Criminal acts and other unsavory activities might be best used when the children are older. Of course, it does not necessarily hurt to mention the bad along with the good. Just be careful that the bad is not overemphasized.

Children love to learn and if appropriate activities are presented to them in a non-threatening fashion they frequetly warm up to them. Math, social studies, and language readily avail themselves to genealogy in many ways. After all, adult genealogists need to read and use history and math in order to do research. If they don't, they should. And if you thought these ideas were just for kids, how about using some of them to create visual aids for your genealogy book?

Who is going to keep your genealogy materials when you are gone? It may be in the best interest of your family's history (and all the papers you have collected) to encourage younger family memers to have an interest in their own history.
= = = + + + "Copyright 1999 Michael John Neill, All Rights Reserved" + + +

We were very pleased to obtain permission from George G. Morgan, feature article writer of the Genealogy Forum on America Online, to use his article on how to successfully use "ILL."

"Using Interlibrary Loan for Genealogical Research"

By Guest Editor for January 1999
George G. MORGAN

"Every genealogist knows that not every library can have everything. Not even the venerable Library of Congress has a copy of every item we'd like to access for our family research. Fortunately, however, there's something called Interlibrary Loan. Through reciprocal agreements, libraries lend materials to one another, usually at the request of patrons.

"In this week's "Along Those Lines . . ." column, let's discuss what you can and can't gain access to via Interlibrary Loan and what the process is when materials are available for borrowing.

"- What is Interlibrary Loan?

"Interlibrary Loan, also known as ILL, is a process through which the materials of a library are made available to other libraries through a loan process. Lending agreements may be facilitated under the auspices of a state library association or through library cooperatives or consortia.

"Most public and university libraries are participants in ILL agreements. Sometimes archives or historical societies will participate as well. Generally speaking, however, rare, one-of-kind, and/or fragile items are not available for loan. Reference materials in libraries are also usually unavailable for loan. This, unfortunately, often applies to genealogy materials. There are some ways around this, however. There is usually a modest charge associated with the ILL service.

" - How Does ILL Work?

"Let's say that you become aware of a book that contains information about one of your ancestors. First, you must locate a library that owns the book. You can do this by searching online card catalogs. You'll find that more and more libraries' card catalogs are being made accessible through links on their library's Web page. Check public libraries for certain, but don't overlook college and university libraries. Their collections are usually accessible via ILL as well.

"There are some other organizations through which you can borrow or rent materials through ILL. These include private libraries such as the National Genealogical Society and the New England Historic Genealogical Society, government organizatons--primarily the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), commercial entities such as the American Genealogical Lending Library (AGLL), and religious institutions such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through their LDS Family History Centers.

"Once you identify a library where the book you want is located, write down all the information about the book you can find. This includes author(s), full title, place of publication, name of the publisher, and the date of publication. Make certain you also write down the name of the library and any branch location information. Make careful note of the call number of the book. This could be a Dewey Decimal number or a Library of Congress (LOC) number. Make note, too, of the ISBN (International Standard Book Number).

Take the information to the reference and circulation desk of your local library and ask them if they can obtain the book for you through ILL. They will fill out a request form for you and send it via postal mail, fax, or e-mail to the library that owns the material.

"You can usually check books out of the library to read and study at home. There are some items, such as microfilms and manuscripts, that may be loaned with the stipulation that they be used only at your library.

"After you have finished using the item, your library returns it to the lending library.

" - What To Do When A Library Won't Loan Materials

"Please be understanding about libraries that won't lend some materials, especially those of a genealogical or historical nature. Often an item may be one-of-a-kind or rare and the library doesn't want to risk losing it. Sometimes an item is fragile or brittle, and the risk of damage in shipping or in unsupervised use is too great. Other times, an item may be in high demand among local patrons and the library doesn't want to loan it. Most common, however, is that the genealogical materials are part of a non-circulating collection as defined by the library's board of directors. Just remember that they are doing their best to protect the assets of their own community.

"You will usually find that, even though a library may not lend specific materials, their staff will do their best to help. For instance, if a book cannot be loaned through ILL, you can certainly request photocopies of all or part of the index. I recently located a book about the HOLDER surname in the Library of Congress collection. I asked my local library to fill out an ILL request for photocopies of a portion of the index. Within 3 weeks, I received a call from my library that the copies had arrived and could be picked up. This is a great way to quickly, and less expensively, locate items of interest. If the index identifies something you want to read, you can order the book through ILL or you can request photocopies of just those pages you want.

"There is one strategy you can use with ILL when one library will not loan a book. It may be that a specific book about genealogy in a certain area may be considered too important to be loaned. It is possible that the book may not be so closely held by another library in another part of the country. For example, let's say that if you wanted to borrow a book concerning genealogy in Maryland you might try an ILL request from a library in another state, such as Ilinois or Arizona. It's still possible that it may be part of a non-circulating collection, but you nay have a better chance of borrowing it this way than from a library in Maryland, as shown in this example. Occasionally a library will fax a copy to your library or scan an image for you. Don't rely on this as an option, however. Many materials are light sensitive and may be damaged by the bright light of a fax or scanner.

" - Charges for ILL

"Always ask the library staff about any charges associated with ILL. In most cases, when you borrow books, there is not a charge for the service. If there is one, it will be modest. Microfilm materials, if borrowed from another library, may also be available at little or no charge. On the other hand, when microform materials are requested, they sometimes are only available on a rental basis. You may very well be asked to pay the postage and a rental fee. The fee will usually be small, and you will have use of the microfilm for a number of weeks. Photocopy charges will vary from library to library. In some cases, there may be no charge. In other cases, the per-page photocopy charge may range from 5¢ per copy to 35¢ per copy. (In only one case have I seen a cost of 50¢ per copy.) An invoice usually accompanies the copies.

" - Summary

"Interlibrary Loan is another way to extend the reach of your genealogical research. Your library can help point you in the right direction and can process the requests for you. Work with your reference and circulating librarians and see what you can accomplish.

"Happy hunting!

"George" *****************************

"Copyright 1998 George G. Morgan. All rights reserved. "Along Those Lines . . ." is a weekly feature of the Genealogy Forum on American Online (Keyword: ROOTS). This column originally appeared in the Genealogy Forum on American Online. You may send e-mail to George Morgan would like to hear from you, but because of the volume of e-mail, is unable to personally respond to each letter individually. He also regrets that he cannot assist you with your personal genealogical research." *****************************

Thank you, George for allowing us to print the above column in the regular "DIGGINS" newsletter of The Mother Lode PAF User Group for January 1999, as well as on this ML-PAFUG Web Page. -pjr-


Latest Review or Update: 21 Jan 2000

Patricia J. Rowell, WebMaster / Lake Wildwood CA /

Although believed to be correct as presented, if you note any corrections, changes, additions, or find that any links provided on this page are not functioning properly please contact the WebMaster for prompt attention to the matter.

This web page was formatted and encoded by Patricia Rowell using the HotDogPRO HTML Editor Program and Netscape Navigator 4.4/4.5/4.6. All links worked using this browser - other browsers may have varied results. Thank you for visiting!

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