My New Year’s Genealogy Resolutions for 2007

Having already done some reflection on my genealogical accomplishments in 2006, it’s time to look ahead to the New Year. Here are my resolutions:

  • To continue and to improve my process of recording my research, especially when I search online databases. It’s so easy to quickly enter one search term after another, without stopping to record which spelling variation or soundex code I used in each search. I know I waste time by repeating searches later on. I think I’ll create a form to help me.
  • To cite my sources properly. It’s a lot of work, especially to go back and re-cite 20 years’ worth of information that I used to enter in note form on my computer. Now that I have RootsMagic, its computerized source citation forms will ease that process, but it still will be time-consuming. My goal for this year is to get all the sources I currently have for my husband’s and my direct ancestors through our great-great-grandparents’ generation cited properly. This includes printing up a lot of census records that I have accessed on Ancestry.com, but have not bothered to add to my hard copy files.
  • To photograph and log my genealogical “treasures,” items that have once belonged to my ancestors and late relatives. My friend Beverly Smith Vorpahl once wrote a terrific article about the importance of documenting these items, so that they will not be carelessly disposed of in the event of your death. I also plan to continue to take steps to preserve these items and to educate myself in areas where I am not sure of how to do so. I have already ordered two books by Maureen Taylor, Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs and Preserving Your Family Photographs: How to Organize, Present, and Restore Your Precious Family Images that should help me in these areas.
  • To begin to slowly change my hard copy files from a file folder system to a notebook system, using archival-safe, acid-free page protectors. Currently, I have all my hard copies for each surname I’m researching jumbled together within one (or more) file folder(s). This is not very organized, and downright messy. I have so much information now. I want to organize it by generation. I already started this project for my HOEKSTRA files. It’s going to be time-consuming and expensive, but I have to think about the big picture: having hard copy data stored in a preservable format. I plan to color code the D-ring notebooks: blue for my father’s lines, red for my mother’s, green for my father-in-law’s black for my mother-in-law’s, and white for my Location and Subject files (county and state resources and research topics such as probate, land, military records, etc.).

  • To continue to blog at this location, and when I am lacking in time, to at least record my research in my Notepad Research Log (see my entry of December 29th). Also, to be consistent in writing both prompts and responses for my new blog, AnceStories2 (hope you’ll join me!)

What’s In A Name?

(I’m posting this as a response to the prompt on my other website, AnceStories2. I invite you to journal with me. It’s a great way to leave a record behind for the generations to come!)

The name that was given to me at my birth was Miriam Joy Robbins. Now that I am married, it is Miriam Joy Midkiff, but professionally I go by Miriam Robbins Midkiff. My mom picked out my name from the Bible. Miriam was the sister of Moses, a prophetess, who danced when the Egyptians were destroyed in the Red Sea, and who grumbled with her brother, the high priest Aaron, against Moses’ leadership. Her punishment was a temporary case of leprosy. My parents picked out Bible names for all of us children, either as first or middle names. They served as missionaries to Native Alaskan communities for many years, and so Bible names were a natural pick.

My great-grandmother, Lillian Fern (STRONG) HOEKSTRA, absolutely loved the name Mary. She gave it to herself as a nickname, and named her youngest daughter Mary. She also had a granddaughter named Mary. When I was nine months old, my parents went back to their hometowns in Western Michigan for several months, and during that time, we visited Great-grandma. She wanted my mother to change my name to Mary. Diplomatically, Mom told her grandmother that I was used to my name now, and that besides, Miriam was a variation of the name Mary, anyway.

Miriam is the Hebrew version of the Greek name Mary. The roots of both names come from the Hebrew word for “myrrh,” the dried sap of a tree native to Somalia and eastern Ethiopia that is mentioned frequently in the Bible. For years, I did not like my first name, because it was a) hard to spell; b) hard to pronounce; and c) every name meaning book I read said Miriam meant “bitter.” Then one day I came across an extended explanation of my name. While myrrh is indeed bitter, it is the base for healing ointments, incense, and perfumes. It was one of the three gifts the Wise Men brought to the infant Jesus. When the women went to Jesus’ tomb on Easter Morning, they brought spices with them. It is likely that they had myrrh, as it was used to embalm bodies (and it covered up the smell of decay). Myrrh was worth more than its weight in gold in ancient times. The extant meaning, then, of Miriam is “bitterness turned into sweet fragrance,” a definition much more acceptable to me!

“Joy,” my middle name, is self-explanatory. My maiden name, Robbins, means “son of Robin.” The name Robin is a nickname for Robert, which itself means “bright fame” or “red.” Midkiff is still a puzzle. It is probably a U.S. southern dialect pronunciation of Metcalf(e), which means “meat calf.”

My younger brother could not pronounce Miriam when he was a toddler, so he called me “Mimi” for a few years, which is actually a standard nickname for Miriam (along with “Mim”). My younger sister also called me “Mimi.”

I prefer children to call me “Mrs. Midkiff,” although I don’t mind teenagers addressing me by my first name (I notice, however, that my teenage children’s friends tend to either call me “Mrs. Midkiff,” or simply avoid my name altogether when addressing me). Because I work at a middle school, the students there naturally call me “Mrs. Midkiff.”

All my names (except for my middle name) are difficult to spell and pronounce. I could make long lists of the way they have been butchered in pronunciation and mis-spelled over the years! What is curious to me is that Midkiff, which is so easy to pronounce (yes, MID-kiff) is constantly pronounced “Metcalf” by strangers. It has also been mis-spelled as Midriff and Midkiss (“f” sounds like “s” over the phone, I figured out, so now when I have to give my name via telephone, I spell it out “M-I-D-K-I-double-F-as-in-Frank). Robbins is easy, too, but I constantly got “Robinson,” “Roberts,” and “Robertson.” And Miriam is generally mis-pronounced as “MAIR-yum.” The correct pronunciation is MEER-ee-um. Just two days ago, a clerk mis-read my name on my debit card and called me Mariah. Marion, Maryann, and Muriel are other mis-nomers. This explains why I named my children Melissa and Matthew. No odd names, no odd spellings!

My New Year’s Genealogy Resolutions for 2007

Having already done some reflection on my genealogical accomplishments in 2006, it’s time to look ahead to the New Year. Here are my resolutions:

  • To continue and to improve my process of recording my research, especially when I search online databases. It’s so easy to quickly enter one search term after another, without stopping to record which spelling variation or soundex code I used in each search. I know I waste time by repeating searches later on. I think I’ll create a form to help me.
  • To cite my sources properly. It’s a lot of work, especially to go back and re-cite 20 years’ worth of information that I used to enter in note form on my computer. Now that I have RootsMagic, its computerized source citation forms will ease that process, but it still will be time-consuming. My goal for this year is to get all the sources I currently have for my husband’s and my direct ancestors through our great-great-grandparents’ generation cited properly. This includes printing up a lot of census records that I have accessed on Ancestry.com, but have not bothered to add to my hard copy files.
  • To photograph and log my genealogical “treasures,” items that have once belonged to my ancestors and late relatives. My friend Beverly Smith Vorpahl once wrote a terrific article about the importance of documenting these items, so that they will not be carelessly disposed of in the event of your death. I also plan to continue to take steps to preserve these items and to educate myself in areas where I am not sure of how to do so. I have already ordered two books by Maureen Taylor, Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs and Preserving Your Family Photographs: How to Organize, Present, and Restore Your Precious Family Images that should help me in these areas.
  • To begin to slowly change my hard copy files from a file folder system to a notebook system, using archival-safe, acid-free page protectors. Currently, I have all my hard copies for each surname I’m researching jumbled together within one (or more) file folder(s). This is not very organized, and downright messy. I have so much information now. I want to organize it by generation. I already started this project for my HOEKSTRA files. It’s going to be time-consuming and expensive, but I have to think about the big picture: having hard copy data stored in a preservable format. I plan to color code the D-ring notebooks: blue for my father’s lines, red for my mother’s, green for my father-in-law’s black for my mother-in-law’s, and white for my Location and Subject files (county and state resources and research topics such as probate, land, military records, etc.).

  • To continue to blog at this location, and when I am lacking in time, to at least record my research in my Notepad Research Log (see my entry of December 29th). Also, to be consistent in writing both prompts and responses for my new blog, AnceStories2 (hope you’ll join me!)

What’s In A Name?

(I’m posting this as a response to the prompt on my other website, AnceStories2. I invite you to journal with me. It’s a great way to leave a record behind for the generations to come!)

The name that was given to me at my birth was Miriam Joy Robbins. Now that I am married, it is Miriam Joy Midkiff, but professionally I go by Miriam Robbins Midkiff. My mom picked out my name from the Bible. Miriam was the sister of Moses, a prophetess, who danced when the Egyptians were destroyed in the Red Sea, and who grumbled with her brother, the high priest Aaron, against Moses’ leadership. Her punishment was a temporary case of leprosy. My parents picked out Bible names for all of us children, either as first or middle names. They served as missionaries to Native Alaskan communities for many years, and so Bible names were a natural pick.

My great-grandmother, Lillian Fern (STRONG) HOEKSTRA, absolutely loved the name Mary. She gave it to herself as a nickname, and named her youngest daughter Mary. She also had a granddaughter named Mary. When I was nine months old, my parents went back to their hometowns in Western Michigan for several months, and during that time, we visited Great-grandma. She wanted my mother to change my name to Mary. Diplomatically, Mom told her grandmother that I was used to my name now, and that besides, Miriam was a variation of the name Mary, anyway.

Miriam is the Hebrew version of the Greek name Mary. The roots of both names come from the Hebrew word for “myrrh,” the dried sap of a tree native to Somalia and eastern Ethiopia that is mentioned frequently in the Bible. For years, I did not like my first name, because it was a) hard to spell; b) hard to pronounce; and c) every name meaning book I read said Miriam meant “bitter.” Then one day I came across an extended explanation of my name. While myrrh is indeed bitter, it is the base for healing ointments, incense, and perfumes. It was one of the three gifts the Wise Men brought to the infant Jesus. When the women went to Jesus’ tomb on Easter Morning, they brought spices with them. It is likely that they had myrrh, as it was used to embalm bodies (and it covered up the smell of decay). Myrrh was worth more than its weight in gold in ancient times. The extant meaning, then, of Miriam is “bitterness turned into sweet fragrance,” a definition much more acceptable to me!

“Joy,” my middle name, is self-explanatory. My maiden name, Robbins, means “son of Robin.” The name Robin is a nickname for Robert, which itself means “bright fame” or “red.” Midkiff is still a puzzle. It is probably a U.S. southern dialect pronunciation of Metcalf(e), which means “meat calf.”

My younger brother could not pronounce Miriam when he was a toddler, so he called me “Mimi” for a few years, which is actually a standard nickname for Miriam (along with “Mim”). My younger sister also called me “Mimi.”

I prefer children to call me “Mrs. Midkiff,” although I don’t mind teenagers addressing me by my first name (I notice, however, that my teenage children’s friends tend to either call me “Mrs. Midkiff,” or simply avoid my name altogether when addressing me). Because I work at a middle school, the students there naturally call me “Mrs. Midkiff.”

All my names (except for my middle name) are difficult to spell and pronounce. I could make long lists of the way they have been butchered in pronunciation and mis-spelled over the years! What is curious to me is that Midkiff, which is so easy to pronounce (yes, MID-kiff) is constantly pronounced “Metcalf” by strangers. It has also been mis-spelled as Midriff and Midkiss (“f” sounds like “s” over the phone, I figured out, so now when I have to give my name via telephone, I spell it out “M-I-D-K-I-double-F-as-in-Frank). Robbins is easy, too, but I constantly got “Robinson,” “Roberts,” and “Robertson.” And Miriam is generally mis-pronounced as “MAIR-yum.” The correct pronunciation is MEER-ee-um. Just two days ago, a clerk mis-read my name on my debit card and called me Mariah. Marion, Maryann, and Muriel are other mis-nomers. This explains why I named my children Melissa and Matthew. No odd names, no odd spellings!

The Year in Review (2006)

Jasia is encouraging those of us who participate in the Carnival of Genealogy to write about our New Year’s (Genealogy) Resolutions for 2007. Before I do that, I need to write about my accomplishments in 2006. Too often, when we set out to make New Year’s Resolutions, we don’t take the time to credit ourselves for all we HAVE done. Our resolutions tend to have a negative theme in that they stress what we should have been doing, yet didn’t do (lose weight, pay off debt, quit smoking, etc.). So here’s a list of things I achieved in 2006, genealogically speaking:

  • My main theme in 2006 was to get documentation for my great-great-grandparents’ generation. I think I did pretty well. I searched for 8 birth records and came up with 4 (one was a duplicate, though). During my search, I did find quite a few birth records for siblings of these ancestors, which expanded my knowledge of their families as whole groups. I now have 6 of the 8 marriage records and 9 of 16 death records needed for this generation. I have 15 obits and 15 grave photos for this generation, thanks to the wonderful volunteers at RAOGK and Find A Grave.
  • Speaking of RAOGK and Find A Grave, I performed many volunteer services doing records lookups and some gravestone photography at local cemeteries. I researched the life of Herman THOENI, a gardener for the Campbells, a wealthy Spokane family from the turn of the century, whose home is now a part of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. I also took on more responsibilities for my local genealogical society. Helping out the genealogical community is one way of paying forward the many favors I have received over the years!
  • My husband’s ancestry is one that we’ve had a lot of info on for many years, but precious little documentation, so this year, I started gathering evidence to support all the events I have listed for his ancestors: vital and census records, obits and grave photos.
  • I started keeping better track of my research, using research log forms bound in a notebook, as well as a research log in Notepad, and this blog. I don’t always have time to sit down and blog my research notes, but I can always quickly whip open my Notepad log and jot down a few notes, everyday. I learned this trick in an article in Smart Computing magazine: Open Notepad and in the first line of the file, type .LOG (make sure you enter this in all uppercase). Press ENTER twice. Then choose File and Save. Create a name like “Research Log” and file in a folder you’ll easily remember (“Genealogy,” etc.). I created a shortcut to my desktop by right-clicking on the folder icon and choosing “create a shortcut.” Then I can easily access it. The cool thing about this Research Log is that every time you open it, it date and time stamps the log, so it’s all ready for you to record your notes.
  • I purchased a copy of RootsMagic, upgrading from my old Family Origins software. I love that it has an electronic form for easy citations of sources! I also purchased GenSmarts, and it has given me tons of possibilities for finding and researching documents of my ancestors. I was able to obtain a good used laptap, and although it doesn’t currently have a wireless card, it is handy to do non-Internet computer tasks. We also upgraded to a new, larger, faster computer with a flat screen monitor, and DSL Internet connection. These technological upgrades and additions help make Internet research faster, more efficient, and productive.
  • Through my local community college district, I taught online genealogy for three quarters, as well as two Internet genealogy classes for my local genealogy society. I didn’t get much of a chance to add to my Atlas Project website, but did create another genealogy site for a client.

Now that I’ve listed what I’ve done, I can write about what I want to achieve in 2007.

The Year in Review (2006)

Jasia is encouraging those of us who participate in the Carnival of Genealogy to write about our New Year’s (Genealogy) Resolutions for 2007. Before I do that, I need to write about my accomplishments in 2006. Too often, when we set out to make New Year’s Resolutions, we don’t take the time to credit ourselves for all we HAVE done. Our resolutions tend to have a negative theme in that they stress what we should have been doing, yet didn’t do (lose weight, pay off debt, quit smoking, etc.). So here’s a list of things I achieved in 2006, genealogically speaking:

  • My main theme in 2006 was to get documentation for my great-great-grandparents’ generation. I think I did pretty well. I searched for 8 birth records and came up with 4 (one was a duplicate, though). During my search, I did find quite a few birth records for siblings of these ancestors, which expanded my knowledge of their families as whole groups. I now have 6 of the 8 marriage records and 9 of 16 death records needed for this generation. I have 15 obits and 15 grave photos for this generation, thanks to the wonderful volunteers at RAOGK and Find A Grave.
  • Speaking of RAOGK and Find A Grave, I performed many volunteer services doing records lookups and some gravestone photography at local cemeteries. I researched the life of Herman THOENI, a gardener for the Campbells, a wealthy Spokane family from the turn of the century, whose home is now a part of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. I also took on more responsibilities for my local genealogical society. Helping out the genealogical community is one way of paying forward the many favors I have received over the years!
  • My husband’s ancestry is one that we’ve had a lot of info on for many years, but precious little documentation, so this year, I started gathering evidence to support all the events I have listed for his ancestors: vital and census records, obits and grave photos.
  • I started keeping better track of my research, using research log forms bound in a notebook, as well as a research log in Notepad, and this blog. I don’t always have time to sit down and blog my research notes, but I can always quickly whip open my Notepad log and jot down a few notes, everyday. I learned this trick in an article in Smart Computing magazine: Open Notepad and in the first line of the file, type .LOG (make sure you enter this in all uppercase). Press ENTER twice. Then choose File and Save. Create a name like “Research Log” and file in a folder you’ll easily remember (“Genealogy,” etc.). I created a shortcut to my desktop by right-clicking on the folder icon and choosing “create a shortcut.” Then I can easily access it. The cool thing about this Research Log is that every time you open it, it date and time stamps the log, so it’s all ready for you to record your notes.
  • I purchased a copy of RootsMagic, upgrading from my old Family Origins software. I love that it has an electronic form for easy citations of sources! I also purchased GenSmarts, and it has given me tons of possibilities for finding and researching documents of my ancestors. I was able to obtain a good used laptap, and although it doesn’t currently have a wireless card, it is handy to do non-Internet computer tasks. We also upgraded to a new, larger, faster computer with a flat screen monitor, and DSL Internet connection. These technological upgrades and additions help make Internet research faster, more efficient, and productive.
  • Through my local community college district, I taught online genealogy for three quarters, as well as two Internet genealogy classes for my local genealogy society. I didn’t get much of a chance to add to my Atlas Project website, but did create another genealogy site for a client.

Now that I’ve listed what I’ve done, I can write about what I want to achieve in 2007.

Gerald R. Ford (1913 – 2006)

Gerald R. Ford, 38th President, died yesterday at the age of 93. He was born in my ancestral city, Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, where 29 of my direct ancestors were either born, married, lived, or died. That doesn’t count the many other siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles of ancestors that also made Grand Rapids their home. My Grandfather DeVries attended South High School with him (a grade behind Ford), and later attended the University of Michigan, Ford’s alma mater.