I spend a lot of time at libraries all over the United States and the world. One of the things that I have grown really used to is making sure that I have the means to capture the information that I find while I am there.
Here are the methods and tools that I use.
Notebook. Bound and loose leaf.
Sometimes, It is easier to go to the library with one small notebook, a handful of change and a USB drive. Other times, I know that I will be there for a while and I want to be as organized as possible. When I am in that mode of research, I bring a loose leaf notebook that I have pre-tabbed to make everything easier for adding to my computer when I get home.
Change or funds for the copier machine.
The way to pay for copies generally speaking is one of two ways. Drop some money into the machine or add some money to a card/your library card. Make sure to bring enough money to make twice the amount of copies that you are expecting to make. Not all libraries accept credit cards or are located near ATM's.
USB storage device.
Some but not all libraries will allow you to copy information directly to your USB drive. I always bring 3. A small storage with less than a gig, a medium around the 16-32 gig mark, and my jumbo, which is 1T. No matter what, I am able to copy as many documents and photos as I have run across.
Photos with phone or tablet.
There have been some weird things that have happened when I have been at libraries doing research.
A copier that had a paper jam prevented all of us who wanted to make copies from being able to do so. That particular library did not have the ability to copy to a USB or to email. I pulled out my phone, turned the flash off, took as clear of shots as I could manage and then painstakingly wrote, line by line the information and the source so that I would be able to return to that library in the future and have an easy time of finding my information.
Creative thinking to problems in accessing the information.
Another library had a microfiche library, but the machine's display screen was badly damaged. I ended up making 100+ copies of pages to find the portion that I was looking for. It was worth the cost because the information that I was looking for was very obscure.
Always notate your records.
I bring pens, pencils and highlighters to make sure that I don't miss something on the pages that I made the trip to find. A link to a family member was once found on an inscription in a church cookbook. You never know where you will find the link you need, but if you don't notate your records, you may never find it again.
Crying Over Spilled Water
Last week I had a minor mishap. I spilled a glass of water on a loose leaf notebook that I use when I am doing general research. I was using a water bottle, but the lid was not fastened on well. I went for a drink and I spilled water on the open pages. I grabbed the notebook as quickly as I could, but the water had already landed.
I was heartbroken when I looked down at the notebook. The first sheet was soaked, and even though I patted it with a cloth, there was some ink smearing that happened.
I was lucky that I had already sent myself a Google Document with the relevant information, but I still did not want to lose that page.
I quickly did 2 things. I took a photo with my phone, and I made a scan of the page before any further damage happened.
Here are some things that I would like to share with you:
DON'T WIPE the page. Pat it of excess water. Don't do anything more than touch the towel or napkin to the page. No motion. Make copies right then and there. Lay it flat, pin the corners to keep them from rolling and let it air dry. If several pages are involved, separate them and spread them out.
After the page is completely dry, you can try setting the iron on the lowest possible setting and going over the page very quickly. Test a corner first, and DON'T do this on old papers or things that cannot be replaced.
I managed to salvage my pages, and they are now in plastic protectors, but I now check my water bottles very carefully when I am using them!
It has been discussed on many other forums about how we as family members tend to accept without question the information that is passed to us about our ancestors.
Stop that practice. Make it a point to verify, cite sources and document your findings.
The discovery that I made is actually an old one for me, but I wanted to share it here in case anyone out there is hitting dead ends in their searches.
I had always been told that a portion of my family was from Louisiana for over 100 years. I never bothered to look anywhere else, even when my search went cold.
Doing a US Census search one time, I forgot to limit the search to Louisiana. There, in Alabama was my missing family. Every single member of that family, with the correct birth order and ages! For a moment, I was willing to discount and discard my new lead. After all, my great grandmother had told me straight from her own mouth that her family had been in the state of Louisiana for "over a hundred years." I never doubted the veracity of her statement.
Years later, I was updating this family line. I cross indexed this search on Find A Grave to see if there was a photo or information of any headstones. There was. Below, you will see the photo of the actual headstone for John Marion Moore, husband of Sarah Elizabeth (nee Brittenham OR Brittingham) Moore. The headstone actually gives us a lot of information.
Let's look together at the headstone, located below this entry.
At the top, there is the emblem for his membership into the Freemasons. You can go to Find A Grave and see my relative there. I have direct linked for convenience purposes.
Something to be aware of, as is the case with this relative: The name is actually common, but if you narrow the search to Louisiana, you will quickly find my ancestor. Born in Alabama, John Marion Moore served in the Confederate Army through Alabama, he settled and later died in Louisiana. The rest of the information can be found at Find A Grave, where the information on the main page was very well done. The point that I am making here is that this grandparent--4G to be exact, was documented in family trees and so forth, but I ignored clues because that is not what my family historians told me.
After I discovered where my trail picked up, I did a further search on various websites and also conducted in person searches at various libraries and I was able to very easily and quickly pick up the cold trail on my family.
His wife is also listed. They are both listed on the stone only by their initials, so I did some sleuthing. Armed with my research, I knew the names that I was looking for was John Marion and Sarah Elizabeth Moore. The initials matched and the dates were near exact to the ones that I had listed in the information that I had in my records.
Location, location, location.
In the state of Louisiana, the French influence is felt in many ways. One of them is that we have Parishes, NOT counties. I knew where my family is generally from in Louisiana. I knew that it was the northern part of the state. That helped me when I was looking, because although I am from the southern part of the state, eliminating the common name of John Moore from New Orleans was a boon to my search. (Common name!)
Look for other relatives in that cemetery or family plot.
My great grandmother was from Caldwell Parish when I would visit her at her home, which is a short drive from Ouachita Parish. Because I also have family in Ouachita Parish, I was able to ask if we had family buried in the cemetery that I found John Marion Moore listed in. We do. I have loads and loads of family that are interred there. That helped me to make the link, especially when direct relatives of his were also interred there.
Online Photos, if there are any, can help you add or eliminate a person from your family tree. The Find A Grave listing for John Marion Moore has the same photo of him that I think we all must be issued upon birth. It is John Marion Moore with a very full beard, looking off to the side. When I saw the listing with that photo, I knew that we were related! Another person that I was looking for showed a person was assuredly not my relative as the photo made it very clear that they were not the gender that I was looking for. (It was a name that could be either male or female, so there was a reason for confusion.) Seeing that photo saved me a lot of research and I reached out to the person that had the info so that we could both clear up our family trees.
Obituaries and Funeral Cards are a BOON to your search.
I know that it can be hard to find these when you are going back a distance, but when you do find them, it can be a huge help. Often, the person that is reporting the death is a relative, and the next of kin of course is a relative. These documents will sometimes list things such as occupation, address, cause of death, name and birthplace of parents and plenty more details that can help in your search. One of the best obituaries that I ran across when I was searching listed the names of the deceased person's parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles. I am convinced that this person was a genealogist because it was extremely thorough!
Always make notes when searching. I even have a file that I call "Cold Case Files". (Because it makes me laugh is why I named it that.) Until I can either rule that person out or include them in my family, they remain in that file. If they are not related (as far as I can prove, anyway) they go into a new file "Red Herrings". I still visit my Red Herrings file about once a year. I have been able to effectively prove some of these people are not related, and surprisingly I also discovered one relative is a distant cousin.
Don't get stuck on the dates that you see in print as being right or wrong. My greatest loss of a really great file that I disregarded in a search was because the dates did not match up 100 percent with what I showed in my files. I lament to this day that I have never found that file again in any search that I have ever performed.
Leave breadcrumbs for yourself, no matter what type of research that you are doing. I now bookmark things if I am searching online. I keep paper notebooks with me and make diligent and detailed notes. I know now that I won't remember the information that I am looking at. There is simply too much. If I am searching for 4G grandfather, the bookmarks that I gather will go into the bookmark folder named "John Marion Moore". If those bookmarks can apply to another relative as well, I will drop it into their file. This has saved me a lot of time searching for information.
Make your paper trail easier to follow.
When I am making notes in a paper notebook, I write the name and then go back and highlight it if I am using a bound notebook. If I am using loose leaf pages, I divide each person with a tab or at least a piece of tape bent in half and written on with a Sharpie. It may seem extreme, but in the long run, it makes my searches more organized and makes me take the time to take better notes. By being less jumbled, I waste less time of searching within my own notes.
Let me know if any of these tips are helpful, and share your search gaffes here!
Some of you have been following my nervousness and excitement about participating in the University of Michigan's DNA project, Genes for Good. You can look them up on Facebook. After you join Genes for Good, it is pretty straightforward to "earn" your test.
Take a week or so, answer some questions and then one day, you will have answered enough questions to be sent a "spit kit" in the mail.
From the time that I started on their website until the time that I got the spit kit was between one and three weeks. From the time that I sent it until I got an email saying it had been received was perhaps another week or two. After that, it was about 3-4 months until I got the results. Every single time that I get new DNA results, I now know that I get really giddy and it prompts me to do a lot more online research about the information that I have received. I have now completed two tests. One from Family Tree DNA and now, this one from Genes For Good. My results have a lot of similarities, of course, but they also offer a look at my current information differently.
I do not have family members to compare to on Genes for Good, and to my knowledge, there is no database at this time to link other participants to one another if they are related. I have written to Genes for Good for an answer and I will update this post as soon as I hear if there are plans for that in the future.
I still remember the day that I saw the photo of my grandmother with a ladies' group in a small local paper. She stood there in a lovely fitted dress that was embroidered at the collar and waist. The sleeves came all the way to her wrists, where she had lifted the left sleeve slightly so that the "nice watch" my grandfather had given her showed for the photo in the newspaper. Her fresh permed was styled with loads of hairspray and the smile was perfected with heavy applications of lipstick.
Even better was the fact that behind her was a calendar on the wall of the house she was at, letting us know that the photo was taken in the summer of 1956. My mother would have been 8 years old by the end of the year, my grandmother would have a total of 5 children. At the time of the photo, she was mother to my mother, Elizabeth who was 7 1/2 when the photo was taken, my Aunt Lydia, who would have been 6, my Uncle Johnny, who was 5, my Uncle Tommy was 3. My Aunt Trish would not be born for another 4 years. In the photo, with the help of a girdle and a fitted dress, my grandmother does not look like she had ever had a child. She could have been a senior in high school from her appearance, but in actuality, she was 23 years old.
There are so many wonderful clues in this photo for the genealogist. The city and state are mentioned, as well as the date, the name of the organization and what the occasion was. (I don't post it here because I am waiting for permission from 2 people in the photo who are alive.)
My grandmother referred to the shoes in that photo a lot. She hated them because they were out of style. I thought that they looked very nice, but she told me that they were peep toe shoes that had not been in style in her area for some time, but they were the only shoes that she owned that she could polish up on a moment's notice.
What do all of these facts put together? From the organization listed, I can look up online that group and see if there are any other mentions of my family. Any new members that might be my family. Any get togethers that may have photos of my family.
Another great thing that groups do is let you know a little more about the person that you are looking up. Knowing some of the things that they did adds a little more color and dimension to a person, making them more real.
It is very easy with famous family members to find out tons of information. Small local newspapers can be a wealth all to themselves, sharing local news and a higher chance of seeing your loved ones' name in print.
I have plans for 2017 that I will be sharing with you fine readers. Often I get ideas for a lot of repetitive tasks, as well as ideas for things I would like to get done in the next year.
I broke down a lot of these tasks into 12 different groups, one set for each month. I have printed those off so that I can check them off as I go, and I will be adding those lists each month here, so that my readers will have access to them.
Additionally, for the tasks that I perform each and every day, I will be laminating those sheets and using a dry erase marker to chart my daily progress. I will be sharing that in the first week of January to help with meeting organization goals.
The hardest thing for me when I do research sometimes is not running into dead ends, but with the internet, finding too many good leads to look at all at one time. I have made a point to stay on track of the person or item that I am looking for, but I make notes and bookmarks for the other information that I am looking for.
Each section of items that I find goes into a special bookmark folder, where the title will let me know what is contained within. However, I also make hard notes in my paper notebook, documenting what I have found. Once I have completed the research on the subject I initially started, I will then return to the new information that I have found and go forward from there. My resolution for 2017 has already been getting practice in 2016 and I find that I am getting a lot more research done.
My biggest resolution has not been to simply say I will be more organized in 2017, but to create steps, tools and tips that will allow that to happen and not merely be a bright and good idea. I look forward to reading the good ideas from you, my readers!
One of my side hustle jobs is taking care of an elderly person for a few hours a week. I really like the person that I care for and she is a lot of fun to be around. Her physical needs are great, which brings me to the idea of getting the most senior or most frail person DNA tested before it is too late. My client has a lot of physical needs.
With the DNA tests that are out there right now to test your DNA results through, especially through Promethease, a person can make a lot of discoveries about themselves for the modest fee of less than ten US Dollars. The test results are available to be downloaded and reviewed at your leisure. Of course, these tests are not a replacement for proper medical treatment and consulting with your doctor, but they are a great stepping stone that allows you to have a baseline with which to compare information when you do decide to go to the doctor.
With the eldest person in your family being tested, you get an additional generation of research and information upon which to stack and build your research. Additionally, some of the information, if run through Promethease, can be searched through in order to see if they have a higher risk factor for diseases, drug interactions and the metabolic rate that certain drugs are processed through.
When I took the test and ran the results through Promethease, I learned that certain medications, I process much more slowly than the average person. I also saw that I have an elevated risk of bladder cancer, but a reduced risk of dementia disorders and diseases.
With any of these tests, the strongest thing that you can do is make sure that you take good notes, note the source and go forward from there.
Here is an example image of one of the test results:
As you can see, the magnitude of knowing that your body takes longer to metabolize medications is something that is very important. I strongly and heartily endorse taking this test as it can point out factors that can change the way that you take medication.
There are so many good tools out there for all of the DNA tests that are out there. I will be reviewing helpful sites and tools on this blog.
Today we are looking at Genealogy Junkie's Very helpful article "Help, I recieved my test results from FTDNA, now what?"
When you first get your DNA, the amount of information can be staggering. In an easy to understand format, the writer walks you through the process of making sense of your DNA and points out ways to make your DNA useful to YOU. I found that although they are still editing the page, the article was very helpful. Click on the link, and if you find it helpful, please let them and me know.
I am in the process this weekend of creating my GEDCOM file. The process can be frustrating, but it is also very helpful because once it is done correctly, the sense of accomplishment is palpable.
Additionally this weekend, I am completing the work on my family tree "error" database. This is where I have been keeping a file of known errors, but I needed to be able to back up the fact that I KNEW they were errors with hard facts. One by one, I have gotten that done, but to be honest, it was a lot of work.
Finally, this weekend, I have been organizing my family research files into 2 separate and important bookmark folders, Genealogy and DNA. Although they are assuredly related, knowing that I won't have to wade through the tons of bookmarks that I have collected will be a huge timesaver. I am also in the process of making subfolders as well for some very specific bookmarks.
What are your tools for organization for your family research?
From Thanksgiving week until now, I have been inordinately busy. Moving from one part of the state to another, starting a new job and personal life events have really taken a lot of my time.
Originally, I was going to only bring a few things, but things changed and I ended up having to pack almost everything in less than eight hours! It was hectic, but it is done now, thank goodness.
One of the good things about moving is that you come across important family or personal documents. I made it a point to take photos of each and every one of the documents that are of any importance to my family and myself. This included my drivers license and social security card as well as my voter registration.
Family Tree DNA allows you to designate a person to get your files and information when you pass away. I have asked several family members who are into genealogy and am currently waiting a response.
This year, for Christmas, I have sent out a questionnaire to all of the members of my family that are old enough to participate 25 questions. I hope to get a lot of fun questions answered that will add a lot of dimension to our family.
Additionally, my aunt got a photo from a family member that she met through Family Tree DNA and we are now enjoying seeing new photos and sharing fun stories with family members that we did not even know existed.
Finally, please click on My Links for some products that you probably already use. The links are all referral, so I get a very small commission and it costs you nothing. Peace on Earth, dear readers.
If you are in the United States, Thanksgiving is a holiday that you most likely will be spending with family. The holiday lends itself to a nice family feeling, so it can be an important time to get some research done.
Prepare a small questionnaire and have your guests fill it out. For those that seem too busy, offer to fill it out for them.
Here is the email that I have already sent out to my family near and far. Those who will be with us, and those who are too far away:
Happy Thanksgiving to My Family!
I am working on a small project for our family and I need the help of each and every one of you. Please read this letter, fill it out and email it back to me. I will compile everyone's and get a copy to each and every one of you.
If you have a family tree completed, either send me the link or send me the info so that I can include it in the family database.
Please include place and date of birth and death if you know it.
I would love to have a copy of all of the family members that you have in your tree. Include little ones and those who have passed away, too.
Houses, Cars and Food! Thanksgiving is all about going to someone's house and eating food! I would love photos of home exteriors and interiors from time gone by. Cars that our family drove. Houses. Let me know who and when. Who's house this is, if there is anyone in the frame, who are they, and about when it was taken. Details are always awesome. Food photos! Send those photos of the table weighed down, groaning with food. The photos of people sitting in the living room with plates of food. All of it. Mama in her mini-skirt, balancing food. Send the photos via email. If you don't have access to a scanner or similar, take a photo with your camera of the photo and email it to me.
Recipes are also great. If you want to share some of the family cooking goldmine, then please, share all of the details with the recipe and it will be shared with the family.
I look forward to hearing back from all of you!
That email is constructed to be happy and family oriented. If you want, you can copy and paste it straight into an email for your family.
Share with me the details of success that you have. Happy Hunting!
My name is Dixie, and this is the blog part of my page, where I write about whatever strikes my fancy. Contact me at: PirateDixie@gmail.com