re flec tion
A fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.
A thought occurring in consideration or meditation. [1]

Every December when I send out our family Christmas newsletter, I review the highlights of the previous year. Sometimes I list them by family member, but lately I’ve been ticking them off by month as I look over our calendar pages. I thought as a prelude to my Resolutions post, which will be my submission to the 63rd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, that I would review the highlights of my year in genealogy and in blogging:

A conversation with my father-in-law and a post by Terry Thornton about walksheds prompted my post, “Every Eleven Miles.” It was the most-read article of my blog in January and was published the following month in print form by the Memphis Buff, the newsletter of the Memphis Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Association.

Google Book Search sent a local film crew to my home to interview me as a part of their video series on different hobbyists and professionals who use Google Book Search for a variety of purposes. The video was released on YouTube in June and can be viewed here.

At the request of several of my Beginning class students, and with the recommendation from a couple of them who were also employees of the Community Colleges of Spokane, I taught my first Intermediate Online Genealogy class, a six-week course, at CCS’s Institute for Extended Learning. (Next session here.) I also did a presentation on Footnote for the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society’s monthly computer class.

In response to some questions from one of the students in my Intermediate Online Genealogy class, I compiled the Confederate Pensions Databases post, which was the number-one read for the month. However, my favorite was a series on Random Acts of Kindness Week. I also posted my first Wordless Wednesday after being inspired by George Geder.

“Vital Records and Obituary Websites” was my presentation for the EWGS’s February computer class.

I started the monthly Calendar of Events post, where genea-bloggers and their readers can find the dates for holidays, history, and heritage events as well as deadlines for the carnivals.

At long last, the marriage date and place of my great-great-grandparents, James L. YORK and Mary “Mae” E. McARTHUR was found!

AnceStories won the 2008 Artistry of Genealogy Award.

In the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors series, I posted a brief biographical sketch, with photos if I had any, of the direct ancestors (or their brothers) of my children who served in the American Civil War. I timed it so the last post would be the day before Memorial Day, originally set aside to honor those who had fallen during that conflict.

A cousin of my husband’s found a Bible that had once belonged to their mutual ancestor, Ann (WILSON) WESTABY, of the immigrant Westaby couple that came to the United States in 1850. This relative generously scanned the Bible and sent me copies via CD.

I taught my sixth Beginning Online Genealogy class, a four-week course, for the Community Colleges of Spokane. Also, the Colville, Washington LDS Church asked me to speak on military records for their annual Family History Conference.

My mother agreed to write her school years memories for the 48th Carnival of Genealogy and her posts were a big hit! A bonus result was connecting with her best childhood friend after the friend Googled her name and found it in Mom’s posts. A trip back to Michigan this summer provided Mom and Beth to reunite.

The Spokane County Library District asked me to present my Beginning Online Genealogy course to its patrons.

I was honored to be a guest blogger on Shades of the Departed’s “Friday from the Collectors” column.

After Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak’s Unclaimed Persons project bought genealogists and genea-bloggers to Facebook in droves, Thomas MacEntee formed the Genea-Bloggers Group on Facebook (inviting me to be one of the original administrators) and then started Facebook Bootcamp for Genea-bloggers, a team effort by several bloggers, including myself.

The Northeast Washington Genealogical Society kindly invited me to give my “Frugal Genealogy” presentation.

Tom Sowa, the technology columnist of our local newspaper, The Spokesman-Review, saw my Google Book Search video and came to interview me. The article was published in print on July 27th in the business section of the paper (my second interview by the S-R in less than a year!) and was also reproduced on his blog here.

Let the Games begin; the Genea-Blogging Games, that is! Wasn’t it fun?

I presented a tutorial on WorldVitalRecords at the EWGS monthly computer class.

AnceStories made it into the list of AllTop’s top genealogy blogs.

As Ways and Means Chairperson for EWGS, I coordinated the Rest Stop Fundraiser.

The Whitman County Genealogical Society kindly invited me to give my “Frugal Genealogy” presentation.

Lisa Louise Cooke interviewed me about my best research tips and what motivates me to do genealogy for her new Personal Life Media Family History podcast. The podcast aired in November and can be heard here.

I taught my seventh Beginning Online Genealogy class for the Community Colleges of Spokane.

I discovered how much fun Ancestry’s MyCanvas program was and used it to create family calendars for Christmas gifts (look for a post in the next week summarizing my experience and the reactions of family members).

I began my Tuesday’s Tip column, which is a bit hit. My posts on organizing digital genealogy files (documents, photos, and miscellaneous files) bring lots of traffic to the site.

In addition, we had ten successful Scanfests and a Spring Break Scan-a-thon. There were dozens of memes and challenges, and two new genealogy carnivals to submit posts to. I may not have broken down any great brick walls, but my research went deeper and wider on individuals and families I already had. I look forward to what 2009 will bring us!

Source: 1. reflection. Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. (accessed: December 31, 2008).


Tuesday’s Tip: Organizing Digital Research Notes, Emails, and Reports

The last two Tuesdays, I wrote tips on how to organize your digital files (i.e. genealogy documents) and digital photos. The next task is to tackle all those miscellaneous files; you know, the copies of emails from distant relatives and other researchers, the notes or logs you’ve kept (either in a digital document or those written notes you’ve scanned), and reports such as ahnentafels or timelines. As you can see in the image below, I have five such folders for my CROTHERS surname which are named “Crothers Genealogy,” “Crothers Genealogy 2004,” etc. It’s definitely not an efficient system:

Click on any image for an enlarged view.

Looking inside one of these folders gives a view of files named just as randomly:

Opening and reading through these files revealed that some of them were no longer (or had never been) pertinent to my research, so I deleted them, leaving only five files in that particular folder:

The file titles give me a small idea of what each is about, but I don’t know which are emails, which are reports, and which are research notes. I also don’t know–if they are emails–who the authors are. And I don’t have a clue when they were written, unless I use the Details view:

The Details view gave me the following perspective, but the dates are out of order:

Clicking on Date Modified brings the dates into chronological order:

Still, these file names are lacking what I need to really analyze them at a glance. I have decided to name emails in the following format: Date; “Email from [first and last name of author]”; and Topic. For the topic, I look inside the email and pinpoint exactly which individual or family group this message is really focused on, and then use it. I also use the “SURNAME first name MAIDEN NAME” format in the topic to be consistent with my Document files. In the list above, you can see that I have a file named “Jane Sweers” and another one named “Jane Sweers & Willard Crothers”. They become:

2003 01 28 – Email from Ruby Foust – CROTHERS Willard marriage to SWEERS Jane FORD

2003 01 29 – Email from Ruby Foust – CROTHERS Willard and SWEERS Jane FORD family information

I noticed when I attempted to rename a couple of files, I got a message asking me if I wanted to change the name of the Read-only file. In some cases, it wouldn’t let me change the name, because it was a Read-only file. So I right-clicked on the file and under the General tab, unchecked the Read-only box.

I used the following formats for research notes, and reports:

2003 08 07 – Research Notes – War of 1812 Muster Rolls – CROTHERS John in New York and Pennsylvania

2005 09 15 – Ahnentafel Report – Ancestors of SWEERS Rhoda YORK

Now that I’ve cleaned up all those files and folders, I made a new folder named CROTHERS Research. Here’s what it now looks like inside:

I can easily see at a glance which Crothers family members I have information on and what type of information it is. I can find my reports and research notes. It’s easy to find all the emails from one researcher. And everything is in date order.

My Genealogy folder is looking a little neater, too. Now there are only three CROTHERS folders: one for documents, one for photos, and one for all other research files:

I hope this gives you some ideas on how you can organize, manage, and analyze those odds and ends of digital genealogy files and folders. This system is very adaptable and easy to personalize. Happy Organizing!

Tuesday’s Tip Slightly Delayed

Due to one thing or another, I haven’t quite finished my Tuesday’s Tip post in time too be published at 5 AM, EST. I had considered staying up late Monday night to finish it, but my shoulder is rather inflamed and I think I had better just take some pain medication and go to bed.

Tuesday I have my next physical therapy session and we will have a break in the weather (so the weatherman has promised), which means we need to get errands done before the snow storms of Wednesday and Thursday/Friday arrive. I feel I am living Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter. We have had four feet of snow in a week and a half; a thaw, producing collapsing roofs all over town; a freeze, creating sheets of ice; and another foot of snow within six hours’ time.

Once errands are done (supplies restocked, Christmas packages mailed out to family with which we unfortunately never connected due to the weather), I can finish and publish the post. Thank you for your patience.

The Proximidade Award

Janet Iles of Janet the Researcher awarded me with the Proximidade Award:

These blogs invest and believe in PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers, who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

I love how many of the recipients are forwarding this award on to newer genea-bloggers! It’s that kind of spirit which includes the newbies as well as us “oldies” that makes the genea-blogging community such a welcoming one! I decided to gift some of my fellow “oldies” before they got “taken”. They are all pioneers in the genea-blogging movement, and their blogs are all on my must-read list:

The footnoteMaven
Jasia of Creative Gene
Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie
Terry Thornton of Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi
Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings
Kathryn Doyle of the California Genealogical Society and Library Blog
Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems News
Denise Olsen of Moultrie Creek

And thank you, Janet! I’m honored!

"Week Forty-Three: The New Year" Posted at AnceStories2

This morning I posted “Week Forty-Three: The New Year” over at my journaling prompts blog, AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants. How did you celebrate the New Year growing up? How do you celebrate now?

Do you wish your ancestors had left some sort of written record of the events in their lives for you? The next best thing is for you to record your memories for future generations!

Friday Findings: VALK, LEWIS, McCLELLAN, Markham Twp Ancestry

I haven’t done a Friday Findings post in a while, and as I’m slowly returning to posting more of my regular “columns”, I thought I’d start here. Friday Findings is a feature I started last summer to record my weekly research finds and cousin connections. I hope to do a better job of keeping up with this. This post covers the past two weeks.

Last week, I had two cousins leave comments on the guestbook at my family history website, also named AnceStories. I’m delighted to hear from them, and need to take the time to compose thoughtful, comprehensive e-mails as responses.

I have spent a lot of my online research time during the past two weeks trying to find as much as possible about one of my brick wall ancestors, Levi E. McCLELLAN (or McLELLAN). The Michigan vital records at FamilySearch Record Search helped me to determine that he was indeed married twice, and not just once. Confusion came about because both wives had similar names. His first wife, my ancestor Clarissa Mary (or Mary Clarissa) CLEVELAND, was born c. 1832 in New York state. She last appears on the 1870 Federal Census with him and the children, William, Cornelia (my 3rd-great-grandmother), and Edwin in New Haven Village, Macomb Co., Michigan. In 1880, Levi is living with wife Mary C. FORD, along with a 10-year-old son Ira, and two step-children in Detroit. Finding son Ira’s marriage record, also at FamilySearch Record Search proved that he was Clarissa’s son and not Mary’s. Mary appears in the 1890 Veteran’s Census as a widow of two veterans, Levi being one of them. So Levi died sometime between 1880 (when he appears in both the Federal Census in Detroit and the 1880 Detroit City Directory) and 1890. The 1850 Federal Census gives me a possible mother, brother, and niece for Levi. I’ve decided to spend my Christmas money on obtaining Levi’s Civil War Veteran’s pension record from the National Archives to see what genealogical gems I can glean from it.

Markham Twp., York Co., Ontario Ancestry
Janet Iles was kind enough to let me consult her regarding what Markham Township records are available so that I can try to knock down some other brick wall lines, my WILKINSON and either TERRY or LAMONEAUX lines. I’m hoping to find the marriage record of Richard WILKINSON and his wife Mary, who seems to have two surnames (TERRY and LAMONEAUX).

A Quiet Day

It’s been a very unusual Christmas Day. We are on Plan C, or maybe it’s D; I’ve lost track.

Originally, our plan was for everyone (my parents from Northeast Washington, my brother from Western Washington, and our household) to meet at my sister’s home in neighboring Spokane Valley. Unfortunately, severe winter weather, with 30 of 39 counties receiving record amounts of snow, has once again played havoc with our plans.

Because the City of Spokane Valley decided not to plow past noon yesterday and because my sister has a truck in comparison to my parents’ and our cars (which get around pretty well but still can get high-centered on unplowed roads), we changed to plan B and decided to meet at my house. I live half a block off the main street in town which becomes the highway heading north to the community where my parents live, two hours away. My folks were going to bring the turkey and mashed potatoes, Sis was going to bring stuffing and gravy, and we have green bean casserole, pies and beverages here.

My brother was unable to make it cross-state. Thankfully, he did not venture off Whidbey Island and end up stranded. My parents are snowed in up on the mountain because the county did not plow the road that goes to within a mile of their home. Dad was able to snowblow his driveway, but the private road from the driveway to the county road is unplowed since the neighbor with the truck plow has not headed into town as she had planned. Half of the gifts we ordered for our kids did not arrice. One, for my son has been here in Spokane at the Fed Ex warehouse since Saturday, according to the tracking system I’m using online. UPS delivered the other half (part of a video game) late last night; it’s useless without its counterpart. My daughter asked us to pay some of her bills for Christmas, since she’s currently unemployed. We did so, but ordered a gift for her to open Christmas Day. The best I can figure, it’s sitting in a post office on the west side of the state. Fortunately, my husband and I yesterday picked up a couple of small things for the kids to open today “just in case.” Turns out, we needed them. My husband and I don’t normally exchange gifts on Christmas Day. We enjoy going out together after Christmas and treating each other to the sales and specials. So for the first time in memory, neither he nor I are opening individual gifts on Christmas Day.

Phone calls to my parents-in-law and sister-in-law’s family in Southwest Washington informed us that they have received 14 and 18 inches of snow (and counting!) respectively, and will be quietly celebrating apart instead of together.

We’re hoping to get together with my family sometime this weekend, and also with my brother-in-law’s family here in town (who are celebrating with his parents-in-law today). Tonight, in lieu of a big turkey dinner, we’ll have my husband’s favorite one of meatloaf and some of that pie. UPS also delivered a box of Hickory Farms from my parents-in-law last night, which we’ve been enjoying this afternoon.

It’s quiet, it’s small. But the four of us are warm, safe, together, and have power. Our loved ones are all home and safe (and my three little nephews have plenty of new Christmas toys to keep them entertained, my sister assured me over the phone). I’ve been playing on the computer (digital scrapbooking, searching online databases in hope of a “Christmas find”, and having a private Scanfest). My husband spent several hours shoveling snow (which has become a daily occurence over the last week) and is enjoying a well-deserved nap. My daughter is also enjoying the teenaged luxury of sleeping, while my son tries to bargain me into letting him be on the desktop (our wireless service is crud, and our laptop doesn’t connect well to it–not a chance, Bud!). I’m perfectly content to wait a few days until the family gatherings and gift-opening begin. 🙂