Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Selecting Records to Research

By TCGS Member, Connie Estep

John Covey taught the May genealogy class which covered selecting records for your search. The first step is choosing a category of sources. The two main types are original sources (examples: birth certificates, city indexes, census) and compiled sources (examples: published family histories, periodicals). John provided a four page handout with many examples of original and compiled records. Click here to download a copy of the handout.

The next decision is to select the type of record. The handout has a list of different kinds of information with the types of records to search. From these select specific records, as you review them, make your notes on a research log.

Reference to research logs has come up in several of these classes. You can find a sample log at www.byub.org/ancestors/charts/pdf/researchlog.pdf. This one may be printed and filled in. There are several plusses to keeping a log. Most importantly, the log documents the source of the information. If you do not find the information you searched for in a source it’s a good idea to record that on your log also. By referring to your research log you can save valuable time in selecting records you have not looked at before.

Documents have different kinds of data. Usually a document will give the location of the event it is documenting. Depending on the event other information may also be on the document. My birth certificate gives my parents’ names, occupations, birthplaces, how many children my mother had before me and a reference to how many previous children of hers had died.

When beginning my family history search I started with Yakima city directories because a number of my relatives arrived in Yakima in the early 1900s. This let me gather the easiest information first. I didn’t keep a log, just made a list of my “hits”. Later I had to go through them again as I didn’t remember which names I had searched for unsuccessfully. The second time I took photos of each page with hits, and made notes of people I searched for unsuccessfully for each directory.  

For me this provided a great overview, including where family members lived, their jobs (and often employers), the names of their spouses, and sometimes if they paid county taxes. Since the directories often included county listings as well, I could see the ones farming in nearby communities.

The last section of this class was reference tools; this is a great section to review.  Political boundaries can change. A person born in our area in 1888 would have been an Oregon Territory resident, since Washington State wasn’t established until the next year. County boundaries can change as population fills in; Benton County was made from pieces of Yakima and Klickitat Counties in 1905. Gazetteers can help you find such changes. There are many other types of references listed as well.

The Beginning Genealogy classes are scheduled through December (except July and August) before monthly TCGS general meetings from 6:15-6:45 p.m. This third class was attended by 32 people and continues with a well thought out research plan.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Don't Forget Church Records

By TCGS Member, Connie Estep

Church records may be able to fill in our research blanks, especially since governments did not always require recordings of births, marriages, and deaths. Richard Kyle, Librarian and Resource Specialist for the Yakima Valley Genealogical Library, discussed on-line access to church records.

Church records vary by denomination and may include births, marriages, deaths, christenings, baptisms, and confirmations.  Sometimes they will have newsletters that could provide a more personal glimpse. Kyle recommended FamilySearch Wiki as a starting place. For U.S. church records go to familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Church_Records. The Wiki is searchable by country and denominations. (In case you haven’t used it much, the Wiki has a treasure trove of genealogy help, from basic concepts to very specific details. It is well worth the time to get to know this site.) For many years the Catholic Church allowed the LDS Church access for copying records. They no longer allow this. Google is also a good place to search for church records.

Kyle also recommended cyndislist.com that many of us are familiar with, plus two I never heard. Gengophers.com he said has a faster interface than FamilySearch. The other one, MooseRoots.com, he also said was very fast. These are both free sites; MooseRoots requires registration and log-in. Both sites offer a paid subscription to avoid pop-up surveys.

Kyle also discussed searching U.S. Census records not yet indexed or for family members not showing up in indexes. Since the censuses are handwritten lists they can be hard to decipher. These lists were made by the census takers (enumerators); each enumerator had a district. To search the handwritten lists you need to know not only the city the person lived in but also the address or the general neighborhood to find the right enumeration district.

Both the National Archives federal census website (archives.gov/research/census) and the FamilySearch Wiki provide specific information (finding aids) to help your census research. I played around a bit with both archives.gov and the FS Wiki and found the Wiki was recently upgraded. If you have problems with the Wiki, try the federal site.

To record information from the hand written lists, Kyle recommended downloading census research forms and hand writing the information to make it easier to refer to. With each census the list of questions was usually changed somewhat.

Kyle also discussed resources of the Yakima Valley Genealogical Library (available for our free use).  Go to yvgs.net for more details. Fifty-one people attended this meeting.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

It's A Wrap - Archived Document Contest Winners

This last year we have been entertained and amazed with various entries to the Archived Document Contest. The contest began 1 April 2015 and ended 31 March 2016. The goal of the contest was to prove that not all genealogical records are available online while simultaneously celebrating computerized genealogy.

The contest was open to the public. All that was needed to enter the Archived Document Contest was a scanned image of a document that was not found online. Individuals wanting to enter the contest uploaded these scanned images to the TriCity Genealogical Society Facebook page with an explanation of where the document was found and how it tied into the researcher’s family history.

Each month entries were bundled together and sent to a panel of judges. The judges reviewed each entry and selected one entry as that month’s winning entry. Prizes typically encouraged computerized genealogy and included digitized subscriptions to magazines like Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy. Other prizes were subscriptions to online databases like Mocavo, Newspapers.com, and Fold3.

True celebration, however, came in the excitement of what was discovered by the documents that were found in offline repositories. As we read the entries we cheered for many tender facts that would not have been discovered by simple queries entered into large databases.

There were a total of 33 entries submitted. The majority of these documents came from family archives, but not necessarily the archives of the home. Many important documents came from collaboration efforts and were provided by relatives who were excited to share their treasures. Here is the breakdown of where documents were found that were submitted to the contest.
·        Family Archives - 13
·        Family History Library and Family History Centers – 9
·        Government records (city, county, and state) – 4
·        National and State Archives – 4
·        Local non-government agencies (funeral homes, museums) – 3

It is important to note the variety of repositories that held information shared in this contest. The Archived Document Contest showed us that when researching family history all of these repositories should be explored.  

All winning entries were automatically entered into a separate contest to determine the winner and runner-up for the full year. The first place prize was a one year subscription to Ancestry.com. A runner- up prize was a one year subscription to Find My Past.

The judging panel had a very difficult job in selecting the two winning entries from a collection of twelve entries that were already deemed superior. They did select Margie Stein Beldin’s entry submitted in April 2015 and Loren Schmid’s entry submitted in February 2016.
Margie Stein Beldin -
Archived Document Contest Winner

You can read Margie’s entry by going to http://tinyurl.com/MSBIreland or you can read the TCGS blog article about her entry at http://tcgs1961.blogspot.com/2015/05/archived-document-contest-april-winner.html. She shared with us her struggle of reading old handwriting found on a preprinted form. In her search she collaborated with other researchers, asked assistance from an expert genealogist, kept her research current by reading various publications, and emailed the National Archives. She never gave up and she was rewarded with her 2nd great grandfather’s Declaration of Intent. She is also awarded a one year subscription to Ancestry.com. The judges felt that Margie had used many traditional research methods in order to fulfill her quest.

Loren Schmid -
Archived Document
Contest Runner-Up
Loren Schmid, on the other hand, won the runner-up prize for using more modern techniques. In his February 2016 entry he shared how DNA research opened up many doors. You can read his entry by going to blog article about her entry at http://tinyurl.com/zwo6l4k. There is a TCGS blog article about Loren’s entry at http://tcgs1961.blogspot.com/2016/03/susan-davis-faulkner-to-purchase.html. Loren shared with us the success that can be found by using DNA to find researchers to collaborate with. He also gave us wonderful examples of how collaboration can be enjoyed and reciprocated.   

Thank you to everyone that participated in this contest. Those that submitted entries helped us to learn from their success stories. A huge Thank You goes to our panel of judges. Their input was essential to the success of this contest. The Judges were Bill Floberg (Chairman), Mary Kay Walker, and Walt Wood.