39th Carnival of Genealogy is Posted

For those few of my readers who are not also subscribers to Jasia’s Creative Gene, she posted the 39th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy there yesterday. The topic was “New Year’s Resolutions,” and as always, there are some fabulous and interesting posts written by 21 bloggers, including some first-time COGgers (my own submission can be found here)! One post I especially enjoyed was “Resolutions” by Colleen of The Oracle of OMcHodoy. To help her with her goal of getting back to the basics, she developed a research goal sheet. I’m going to have to leave a comment on her post and ask if she’ll e-mail me a copy of it. I have a thing for charts and forms!

Jasia tells us “the topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Living-relative connections made during your research processes and/or blog. Who found you or how did you find them? Were they helpful or did they send you on a wild goose chase for further information? How much and what kind of information did they share with you? What did you share with them? What kinds of contacts have you had… in person, via phone, online chat, email, snail mail, web casts? (If you’re not comfortable using their real names you might want to consider using pseudonyms.)” The deadline for submissions is January 15th, and they can be submitted here.

39th Carnival of Genealogy is Posted

For those few of my readers who are not also subscribers to Jasia’s Creative Gene, she posted the 39th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy there yesterday. The topic was “New Year’s Resolutions,” and as always, there are some fabulous and interesting posts written by 21 bloggers, including some first-time COGgers (my own submission can be found here)! One post I especially enjoyed was “Resolutions” by Colleen of The Oracle of OMcHodoy. To help her with her goal of getting back to the basics, she developed a research goal sheet. I’m going to have to leave a comment on her post and ask if she’ll e-mail me a copy of it. I have a thing for charts and forms!

Jasia tells us “the topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Living-relative connections made during your research processes and/or blog. Who found you or how did you find them? Were they helpful or did they send you on a wild goose chase for further information? How much and what kind of information did they share with you? What did you share with them? What kinds of contacts have you had… in person, via phone, online chat, email, snail mail, web casts? (If you’re not comfortable using their real names you might want to consider using pseudonyms.)” The deadline for submissions is January 15th, and they can be submitted here.

Frugal Genealogy

Jasia of Creative Gene has written a thoughtful and interesting five-part series called “What is Your Genealogy Worth to You?” (click here to go to the first post in the series). She starts off with “Have you ever thought about how much your genealogy addiction costs you? What price have you paid to collect all those names on your family tree? If you had known what the cost would be when you began, would you still have started down this road?”

I’ve been gathering information and organizing it since early 1987. In 1990 and again in 1999, I helped to organize a Midkiff Family Reunion. In 1995, I made my first forays into research by requesting the marriage record of my paternal grandmother’s biological parents, and not long after, visited a Family History Center for the first time. I haven’t looked back since! Back then, I didn’t keep track of my expenditures, but I never had a lot to work with and would just make do with about $5 or $10 a month in ordering microfilm from the FHC. Since purchasing Quicken software three-and-a-half years ago, I’ve kept pretty good records on all my expenditures, and ran a report to see how much I’ve spent. Since May 2004, I have spent a total of $823.65 on paying society fees, ordering vital records and microfilms, paying for subscriptions to genealogy websites like Ancestry, making photocopies of documents and forms, buying office supplies specifically for my genealogy files, and purchasing genealogy books, CDs, and magazine subscriptions. I’ve been able to offset these costs: my sister-in-law reimburses me half of my online subscription costs since I help her research her family tree; I also get paid for teaching Online Genealogy at my local community college district’s community ed and for doing presentations at area genealogical societies. When I consider the after-tax income and reimbursement I’ve received in comparison to the expenditures listed above, I actually have a credit of -$52.81.

There are several other costs, however. While I don’t figure in the cost of gas in going to genealogical society meetings or going to my local Family History Center, it does cost to park when I attend society meetings and computer classes at the public library, and my three-and-a-half year cost for that has been exactly $127.00. I gladly would park in a free parking area at the bottom of the hill half-a-mile away; however, since I’m the Ways and Means Committee Chair, I usually have many boxes of books and bags of supplies to haul in, and even with my cart, that’s simply not practical. The parking garage I normally use is the cheapest in the downtown area: 50 cents per half hour.

Another cost would be printer ink (which I haven’t bothered to account for here, since I list it under Consumable Household Goods). I am very frugal with it, and only print when I have to, using the “quick print” and black-and-white settings. Still, it does cost, but I recycle my cartridges or trade them in for reams of paper or photo printing.

Because I use my computer and Internet service almost exclusively for genealogy in one form or another, I have to consider those costs. The first computer I had used Windows 3.1 and was found by my brother-in-law at a garage sale. I paid $100 for it, along with some software and a decent (for that time) printer in 1999. I used Juno’s free Internet dial-up service, then later tried a free dial-up service which was accessed through my local public library. For several years, I used AOL free trial dial-up service. It was good for two months; I’d call them up at the end of the trial service and “cancel” and they’d “persuade” me to try it again for two more months. It was great! However, when we had a friend build us a new computer (with the Edsel-like Windows ME operating system!), AOL wouldn’t work well with it. We went to Juno’s pay dial-up service of just under $10 a month. That computer cost us about $600 and included everything–monitor, speakers, software, keyboard, mouse, etc.–except the printer. We later bought a quality printer/scanner/copier/fax machine at Costco for about $300, which I still use. Since my husband works for a company that produces heavy-duty laptops for the military, police and fire departments, and service repairmen, he’s been able to pick the brains of engineers and tech geeks that he works with, educating himself along the way. Armed with this advice and knowledge, two years ago, he built a complete new computer with Windows XP ourselves, with a little help from his nephew. This one has a high-resolution flat-screen monitor, a cordless keyboard and mouse, and all kinds of bells and whistles, and set us back only about $1100. We also obtained an older laptop, which has come in so handy with four computer users in this household. Along the way, we switched to DSL broadband Internet service through a small local company that contracts with the local phone company, costing us a discounted $45 a month. Offsetting this expense, we have chosen not to get cable television (I have always been one to willingly live without a television!), nor do we use long-distance telephone service (using an inexpensive 10-10 code for our infrequent long-distance calls). For us, the Internet is our main entertainment and long-distance communication resource.

So there you have some of my tangible costs of genealogy, although as Becky at kinexxions wrote, genealogy is priceless. The family I’ve found, the friends I’ve made, the discoveries I’ve happened across, the life-long learning process…all are invaluable! And yes, I’d do it all over again, in a heartbeat!

Coincidentally, I’ll be giving a one-hour presentation to the Kootenai County (Idaho) Genealogical Society this week, Thursday, October 18th at 7:00 PM, entitled “Frugal Genealogy (or How Not to Spend a Fortune on Your Family Tree!).” We will be meeting at the Hayden Family History Center at 2293 West Hanley (west of off Ramsey) in Hayden, Idaho. This is not the normal meeting place, as the Hayden Lake Library is being remodeled. I hope that if you live in the area, you will join us (meetings are free to the public). I had the opportunity to meet some of the fine folks of the KCGS at the Bonner County (Idaho) Genealogical Society’s June conference, and look forward to meeting more of their members. I’ll also be giving this presentation to the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society in Colville in July 2008, if you wish to catch it then. If you are not able to attend, you can e-mail me to request a copy of my syllabus (see “View my complete profile” in the right-hand sidebar to obtain my e-mail address).

Frugal Genealogy

Jasia of Creative Gene has written a thoughtful and interesting five-part series called “What is Your Genealogy Worth to You?” (click here to go to the first post in the series). She starts off with “Have you ever thought about how much your genealogy addiction costs you? What price have you paid to collect all those names on your family tree? If you had known what the cost would be when you began, would you still have started down this road?”

I’ve been gathering information and organizing it since early 1987. In 1990 and again in 1999, I helped to organize a Midkiff Family Reunion. In 1995, I made my first forays into research by requesting the marriage record of my paternal grandmother’s biological parents, and not long after, visited a Family History Center for the first time. I haven’t looked back since! Back then, I didn’t keep track of my expenditures, but I never had a lot to work with and would just make do with about $5 or $10 a month in ordering microfilm from the FHC. Since purchasing Quicken software three-and-a-half years ago, I’ve kept pretty good records on all my expenditures, and ran a report to see how much I’ve spent. Since May 2004, I have spent a total of $823.65 on paying society fees, ordering vital records and microfilms, paying for subscriptions to genealogy websites like Ancestry, making photocopies of documents and forms, buying office supplies specifically for my genealogy files, and purchasing genealogy books, CDs, and magazine subscriptions. I’ve been able to offset these costs: my sister-in-law reimburses me half of my online subscription costs since I help her research her family tree; I also get paid for teaching Online Genealogy at my local community college district’s community ed and for doing presentations at area genealogical societies. When I consider the after-tax income and reimbursement I’ve received in comparison to the expenditures listed above, I actually have a credit of -$52.81.

There are several other costs, however. While I don’t figure in the cost of gas in going to genealogical society meetings or going to my local Family History Center, it does cost to park when I attend society meetings and computer classes at the public library, and my three-and-a-half year cost for that has been exactly $127.00. I gladly would park in a free parking area at the bottom of the hill half-a-mile away; however, since I’m the Ways and Means Committee Chair, I usually have many boxes of books and bags of supplies to haul in, and even with my cart, that’s simply not practical. The parking garage I normally use is the cheapest in the downtown area: 50 cents per half hour.

Another cost would be printer ink (which I haven’t bothered to account for here, since I list it under Consumable Household Goods). I am very frugal with it, and only print when I have to, using the “quick print” and black-and-white settings. Still, it does cost, but I recycle my cartridges or trade them in for reams of paper or photo printing.

Because I use my computer and Internet service almost exclusively for genealogy in one form or another, I have to consider those costs. The first computer I had used Windows 3.1 and was found by my brother-in-law at a garage sale. I paid $100 for it, along with some software and a decent (for that time) printer in 1999. I used Juno’s free Internet dial-up service, then later tried a free dial-up service which was accessed through my local public library. For several years, I used AOL free trial dial-up service. It was good for two months; I’d call them up at the end of the trial service and “cancel” and they’d “persuade” me to try it again for two more months. It was great! However, when we had a friend build us a new computer (with the Edsel-like Windows ME operating system!), AOL wouldn’t work well with it. We went to Juno’s pay dial-up service of just under $10 a month. That computer cost us about $600 and included everything–monitor, speakers, software, keyboard, mouse, etc.–except the printer. We later bought a quality printer/scanner/copier/fax machine at Costco for about $300, which I still use. Since my husband works for a company that produces heavy-duty laptops for the military, police and fire departments, and service repairmen, he’s been able to pick the brains of engineers and tech geeks that he works with, educating himself along the way. Armed with this advice and knowledge, two years ago, he built a complete new computer with Windows XP ourselves, with a little help from his nephew. This one has a high-resolution flat-screen monitor, a cordless keyboard and mouse, and all kinds of bells and whistles, and set us back only about $1100. We also obtained an older laptop, which has come in so handy with four computer users in this household. Along the way, we switched to DSL broadband Internet service through a small local company that contracts with the local phone company, costing us a discounted $45 a month. Offsetting this expense, we have chosen not to get cable television (I have always been one to willingly live without a television!), nor do we use long-distance telephone service (using an inexpensive 10-10 code for our infrequent long-distance calls). For us, the Internet is our main entertainment and long-distance communication resource.

So there you have some of my tangible costs of genealogy, although as Becky at kinexxions wrote, genealogy is priceless. The family I’ve found, the friends I’ve made, the discoveries I’ve happened across, the life-long learning process…all are invaluable! And yes, I’d do it all over again, in a heartbeat!

Coincidentally, I’ll be giving a one-hour presentation to the Kootenai County (Idaho) Genealogical Society this week, Thursday, October 18th at 7:00 PM, entitled “Frugal Genealogy (or How Not to Spend a Fortune on Your Family Tree!).” We will be meeting at the Hayden Family History Center at 2293 West Hanley (west of off Ramsey) in Hayden, Idaho. This is not the normal meeting place, as the Hayden Lake Library is being remodeled. I hope that if you live in the area, you will join us (meetings are free to the public). I had the opportunity to meet some of the fine folks of the KCGS at the Bonner County (Idaho) Genealogical Society’s June conference, and look forward to meeting more of their members. I’ll also be giving this presentation to the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society in Colville in July 2008, if you wish to catch it then. If you are not able to attend, you can e-mail me to request a copy of my syllabus (see “View my complete profile” in the right-hand sidebar to obtain my e-mail address).

Another Must-Visit Website: Shoestring Genealogy

With my new layout and then the hubbub over the Ancestry.com situation, you may not have noticed that I have added another site to my Must-Visit Websites area (left-hand sidebar). “Shoestring Genealogy focuses on lowering the costs of research and raising the quality of information obtained,” according to their mission statement. As a family historian and genealogist by avocation, I am always looking for prudent ways to cut my expenses without decreasing the quality of my research. There is a wealth of treasure on this site, from links to free forms, presentations, chat rooms, and tips, just to skim the surface. Dae Powell has done a wonderful job with the content, as well as designing a fantastic new look to the site (for us Firefox users, this site works best with Internet Explorer). Dae also created–at my request for something that would fit my blog’s sidebar and stand out–the beautiful linking graphic that you see under “Must-Visit Websites.”

I was honored that Dae awarded me the GENTREK Seal of Approval, even though I had never heard of GENTREK before! I learned that it “is a special teaching chat that presents a different genealogy topic every week to help you along your GENealogy TREK.” The topics are listed in alpha order, by author, and by presentation date, for ease of navigation. Don’t they look interesting?

There are a lot of fabulous resources at these sites, and I encourage you to browse around. As my friend Donna Potter Phillips says, “if you don’t spend at least a half-an-hour on a new site, you are missing things!”

Another Must-Visit Website: Shoestring Genealogy

With my new layout and then the hubbub over the Ancestry.com situation, you may not have noticed that I have added another site to my Must-Visit Websites area (left-hand sidebar). “Shoestring Genealogy focuses on lowering the costs of research and raising the quality of information obtained,” according to their mission statement. As a family historian and genealogist by avocation, I am always looking for prudent ways to cut my expenses without decreasing the quality of my research. There is a wealth of treasure on this site, from links to free forms, presentations, chat rooms, and tips, just to skim the surface. Dae Powell has done a wonderful job with the content, as well as designing a fantastic new look to the site (for us Firefox users, this site works best with Internet Explorer). Dae also created–at my request for something that would fit my blog’s sidebar and stand out–the beautiful linking graphic that you see under “Must-Visit Websites.”

I was honored that Dae awarded me the GENTREK Seal of Approval, even though I had never heard of GENTREK before! I learned that it “is a special teaching chat that presents a different genealogy topic every week to help you along your GENealogy TREK.” The topics are listed in alpha order, by author, and by presentation date, for ease of navigation. Don’t they look interesting?

There are a lot of fabulous resources at these sites, and I encourage you to browse around. As my friend Donna Potter Phillips says, “if you don’t spend at least a half-an-hour on a new site, you are missing things!”

Another New Form – Family History Center Look Ups

I just posted another form on my website that I use whenever I do a record lookup at my local Family History Center for Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness and other genealogy volunteer groups. It’s the Family History Center (FHC) Look Ups form.

Last night, I went to my local Family History Center and fulfilled some lookup requests that were sadly overdue. I’ve been so busy the last few months, I haven’t gotten a chance to get up there. I haven’t been that keen on fulfilling requests, lately, because some people have spent so little time on what records are available before they make a request. They ask for records that don’t exist or that I don’t have access to. Some want me to look up dozens of records…in other words, do their research for them for free! Although these abusers (intentionally or not) of the volunteer system are few and far between, they annoy me enough to make me occasionally think I no longer want to do this. Then I remember how grateful I’ve been to those awesome volunteers who’ve gone beyond and above to find me things I would not have been able to access without their assistance, and I realize that I do enjoy passing the favor forward, very much!

One of the requests I recently received was for birth and marriage certificates from a county in Michigan. I sent the requester the following information:

I wanted to let you know the difference between certificates and records. Certificates (birth, marriage, and death) are issued by government offices. They are a piece of paper officially certifying that an event took place based on the records in their office. I am not a government agent; thus I have no access to birth and marriage certificates. A record is a recording of an event, in this case, of a birth, marriage, or death event.

In 1867, the State of Michigan required county clerks to record vital records (birth, marriages and deaths) in libers (large volumes). These were collected by town clerks who basically took a census of the township, recorded their findings, and turned them over to the county clerks to be recorded in the official libers. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City sent representatives to county clerks offices in Michigan and received permission to microfilm many of these libers, usually through the years 1915 to 1920 or so (depends on the county). I have access to copies of these microfilms at my local Family History Center (local branch of the Family History Library) and can look for copies of the records you requested.

Marriage records were actually kept by the district courts (not county clerks) before 1867; they began in 1805, when Michigan was a territory, not a state. The reason they are court records is because in a marriage, two properties (real [land] and/or personal) are brought together, and in the event of death or divorce, the court has to make sure that the properties are then dispersed to the proper parties.

Death certificates were not issued until 1897 in Michigan, the same year marriage licenses were required and divorce statistics were kept. Marriage certificates were not issued until 1897, either, but only by request of the bride or groom. Birth certificates were not issued until 1905. If you order a certificate from the state or county for records earlier than these dates (1897/1905), you are only wasting your money. You will get a copy of the birth record (from the county liber) typed or written onto a blank form and copied onto expensive certificate paper. It is not a copy of a real certificate, because certificates were not given before those dates.

I hope this clears this up for you. I highly recommend the following book: Michigan Genealogy: Sources & Resources by Carol McGinnis. I also recommend the following free resource from the FamilySearch site on Michigan resources: Michigan Research Outline (you can click on the “printable version” link on the right side of that page to print up a booklet of this resource).

I think I may create a “Read This Page First Before Making Look Up Requests” page on my website, and link it to the information I list on the genealogy volunteer websites, like RAOGK. I’ll probably add the above information.