What I’m Reading These Days – Part 5

I’ve been a fan of Robert Ragan’s for quite a while. His Treasure Maps website subtitled Genealogy resource page – Your guide to free search tips, articles, and family tree information is chock-full of great, easy-to-understand tips and tutorials. I signed up to receive his free e-mail newsletter, and encourage my Online Genealogy students to do so as well. He also offers all his tutorials for sale on his Pajama Genealogy Research System on CD, which includes much more than what you’ll find on his website. Back in November 2006, he began a blog, and this week, he’s got a handy new tutorial video on it: “A Google Search Tip that Every Genealogy and Family Tree Researcher Should Know.”

You would be amazed at all you can learn through Robert’s website, newsletter, and blog. He is a very good teacher, and his simple tips and tricks really make the basics of online searches so much easier! I encourage you to take a look and sign up for his newsletter. I guarantee you will learn something!

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What I’m Reading These Days – Part 5

I’ve been a fan of Robert Ragan’s for quite a while. His Treasure Maps website subtitled Genealogy resource page – Your guide to free search tips, articles, and family tree information is chock-full of great, easy-to-understand tips and tutorials. I signed up to receive his free e-mail newsletter, and encourage my Online Genealogy students to do so as well. He also offers all his tutorials for sale on his Pajama Genealogy Research System on CD, which includes much more than what you’ll find on his website. Back in November 2006, he began a blog, and this week, he’s got a handy new tutorial video on it: “A Google Search Tip that Every Genealogy and Family Tree Researcher Should Know.”

You would be amazed at all you can learn through Robert’s website, newsletter, and blog. He is a very good teacher, and his simple tips and tricks really make the basics of online searches so much easier! I encourage you to take a look and sign up for his newsletter. I guarantee you will learn something!

5 Tips for Michigan Internet Research

As part of the 18th Carnival of Genealogy, I am sharing five simple tips I’ve discovered while tracing my family tree in Michigan via the Internet over the past eight or nine years. Many of these tips can be used for research in other states as well.

  • *Use county genealogy websites – whether you use USGenWeb or USGenNet or websites unaffiliated with any genealogy network, find out what’s available for the county of your interest. The Michigan county sites I’ve found most helpful, with tons of transcribed data, contacts for lookup volunteers, county histories and biographies, and many useful links include the ones for Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Newaygo, Genesee and Lapeer Counties. Tip: For most county sites on USGenWeb, you can type in the following URL for quick access: http://www.rootsweb.com/~xxyyyyyy, in which “xx” is the two-letter abbreviation for the state, and “y” is the county name, up to 6 letters.
  • *Use genealogy society websites. I’ve found that the sites for the Western Michigan Genealogical Society and the Flint Genealogical Society are chock full of transcribed data that surpasses even that found on the county genealogy pages. The WMGS, which covers six western Michigan counties, has an obituary index database from 1910 to the present, and is currently adding names found in engagement, marriage and anniversary announcements from area newspapers to this database. In addition, they have Kent County Marriage Records Index from 1845 – 1929, as well as 16 other detailed databases! The FGS has a wonderful cemetery index database that covers more than just Genesee County cemeteries. They also have data currently being added to their birth, marriage, and death index databases from the 1860s through the early 1900s. Both societies have holdings, resources, and other interesting links that are very informational. Tip: Use Cyndi’s List to find genealogical societies in the locales of your ancestors’ homes.
  • *Use the International Genealogical Index (IGI) to find abstracts of Michigan vital records. Go to www.familysearch.org and choose the Search tab near the top of the page. Then choose International Genealogical Index in the left-hand menu. Next, enter the first and last names of the person you wish to search, and choose North America, United States, and Michigan for your search locale. I have been very lucky to find a lot of collateral relatives as well as some direct ancestors listed in the IGI. Check the source of each record to make sure it is an extract of a county record, not one submitted by a church member. The former tends to be more accurate than the latter. Tip: I make a list of all the family members whose records I find in a particular county on the IGI, then go to my local Family History Center to order the microfilm(s) of the county records so that I can view and print copies for myself.
  • *Use state and county vital records indexes. The Genealogical Death Indexing System (GENDIS) is provided by the Michigan Department of Vital Records and Health Statistics, and contains an index of many county death records from 1867 to 1897. Several county clerks’ websites contain vital records indexes as well, including Muskegon and Genesee Counties. A listing of all Michigan county clerks websites can be found here. For more vital records indexes online, visit Joe Beine’s website. Tip: It’s often much less expensive to order vital records from a county clerk’s office than from a state’s Department of Health.
  • *Check out Michigan County Histories. With 202 volumes in 170 histories online dating from 1866 to 1926, you’re sure to find a relative, if not an ancestor, if your roots extend back into Michigan’s pioneer days. These scanned images contain not just county histories, but township histories, biographies, photographs, maps and military lists from the Civil War. Many other states have embarked or are embarking on similar projects. Google your state’s archive website to discover more. Tip: If you’re searching for a common surname in the MCH site, choose the Boolean or Proximity search to narrow down your search. To view an image after searching, click on Results Details, followed by the hyperlinked page number. If there’s a lot of text on a page image and you’re having trouble finding your surname on it, choose the text format from the drop-down menu near the top of the page. Voila! Your search term will be highlighted!

There you have it: five simple tips for doing Internet research in online Michigan resources. Happy Surfing!

P.S. I just added another post on a similar topic, “Recommended Reading for Michigan Research.”

5 Tips for Michigan Internet Research

As part of the 18th Carnival of Genealogy, I am sharing five simple tips I’ve discovered while tracing my family tree in Michigan via the Internet over the past eight or nine years. Many of these tips can be used for research in other states as well.

  • *Use county genealogy websites – whether you use USGenWeb or USGenNet or websites unaffiliated with any genealogy network, find out what’s available for the county of your interest. The Michigan county sites I’ve found most helpful, with tons of transcribed data, contacts for lookup volunteers, county histories and biographies, and many useful links include the ones for Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Newaygo, Genesee and Lapeer Counties. Tip: For most county sites on USGenWeb, you can type in the following URL for quick access: http://www.rootsweb.com/~xxyyyyyy, in which “xx” is the two-letter abbreviation for the state, and “y” is the county name, up to 6 letters.
  • *Use genealogy society websites. I’ve found that the sites for the Western Michigan Genealogical Society and the Flint Genealogical Society are chock full of transcribed data that surpasses even that found on the county genealogy pages. The WMGS, which covers six western Michigan counties, has an obituary index database from 1910 to the present, and is currently adding names found in engagement, marriage and anniversary announcements from area newspapers to this database. In addition, they have Kent County Marriage Records Index from 1845 – 1929, as well as 16 other detailed databases! The FGS has a wonderful cemetery index database that covers more than just Genesee County cemeteries. They also have data currently being added to their birth, marriage, and death index databases from the 1860s through the early 1900s. Both societies have holdings, resources, and other interesting links that are very informational. Tip: Use Cyndi’s List to find genealogical societies in the locales of your ancestors’ homes.
  • *Use the International Genealogical Index (IGI) to find abstracts of Michigan vital records. Go to www.familysearch.org and choose the Search tab near the top of the page. Then choose International Genealogical Index in the left-hand menu. Next, enter the first and last names of the person you wish to search, and choose North America, United States, and Michigan for your search locale. I have been very lucky to find a lot of collateral relatives as well as some direct ancestors listed in the IGI. Check the source of each record to make sure it is an extract of a county record, not one submitted by a church member. The former tends to be more accurate than the latter. Tip: I make a list of all the family members whose records I find in a particular county on the IGI, then go to my local Family History Center to order the microfilm(s) of the county records so that I can view and print copies for myself.
  • *Use state and county vital records indexes. The Genealogical Death Indexing System (GENDIS) is provided by the Michigan Department of Vital Records and Health Statistics, and contains an index of many county death records from 1867 to 1897. Several county clerks’ websites contain vital records indexes as well, including Muskegon and Genesee Counties. A listing of all Michigan county clerks websites can be found here. For more vital records indexes online, visit Joe Beine’s website. Tip: It’s often much less expensive to order vital records from a county clerk’s office than from a state’s Department of Health.
  • *Check out Michigan County Histories. With 202 volumes in 170 histories online dating from 1866 to 1926, you’re sure to find a relative, if not an ancestor, if your roots extend back into Michigan’s pioneer days. These scanned images contain not just county histories, but township histories, biographies, photographs, maps and military lists from the Civil War. Many other states have embarked or are embarking on similar projects. Google your state’s archive website to discover more. Tip: If you’re searching for a common surname in the MCH site, choose the Boolean or Proximity search to narrow down your search. To view an image after searching, click on Results Details, followed by the hyperlinked page number. If there’s a lot of text on a page image and you’re having trouble finding your surname on it, choose the text format from the drop-down menu near the top of the page. Voila! Your search term will be highlighted!

There you have it: five simple tips for doing Internet research in online Michigan resources. Happy Surfing!

P.S. I just added another post on a similar topic, “Recommended Reading for Michigan Research.”

Firefox’s Scrapbook Extension – Keeping Track of Online Research

One of the (many) benefits of subscribing to Smart Computing magazine is receiving e-mail newsletters with links to some of the upcoming issue’s articles, available online to subscribers only. Of interest is an editorial on a new Firefox extension called “Scrapbook.” According to the article, “With the Firefox ScrapBook extension, you can store copies of relevant information, pages, and entire Web sites in one spot: the same browser window you use to track down answers.” For researchers, it’s a great way to keep track of one’s sources while researching online. You can capture the entire page in a screenshot-type image and then save in a menu for later access, similar to bookmarking. You can also pick and choose to capture only select parts of the webpage, including tables, text, and single images. The menu appears in a left-hand sidebar, along with any folders and subfolders you create to organize them.

I plan to try this extension out, and will report back on my progress.

I also recommend checking out the above article when it appears on newsstands, or better yet, subscribing to Smart Computing. Here’s a list of ten great reasons to subscribe.

Firefox’s Scrapbook Extension – Keeping Track of Online Research

One of the (many) benefits of subscribing to Smart Computing magazine is receiving e-mail newsletters with links to some of the upcoming issue’s articles, available online to subscribers only. Of interest is an editorial on a new Firefox extension called “Scrapbook.” According to the article, “With the Firefox ScrapBook extension, you can store copies of relevant information, pages, and entire Web sites in one spot: the same browser window you use to track down answers.” For researchers, it’s a great way to keep track of one’s sources while researching online. You can capture the entire page in a screenshot-type image and then save in a menu for later access, similar to bookmarking. You can also pick and choose to capture only select parts of the webpage, including tables, text, and single images. The menu appears in a left-hand sidebar, along with any folders and subfolders you create to organize them.

I plan to try this extension out, and will report back on my progress.

I also recommend checking out the above article when it appears on newsstands, or better yet, subscribing to Smart Computing. Here’s a list of ten great reasons to subscribe.

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.