My First Jamboree — Part 3 (The Finale)

I was so torn as to which session to attend first thing Sunday morning. Megan Smolenyak? Stephen Morse? I opted for an update on RootsMagic 5 — I have RootsMagic, but admittedly don’t have a lot of time to devote to it. I selected it for maintaining a fully sourced family tree, so working with it is no quick exercise. I hoped the session would renew my  interest in the process. There were a lot of newbies in the crowd, so the discussion stayed pretty basic, but I was impressed nonetheless and was glad to hear that a reader is under development for the iPad, which should be released later this summer.

Next, I attended Thomas MacEntee’s session on Illinois ancestry. I didn’t get to go to FGS in Springfield, Ill., last year although I really wanted to because my Corley line called Illinois home for many years. His session was chock full of Illinois history and resources for seeking various kinds of records. I can’t wait to dig into all of the information he revealed to us.

The next session was by Curt Witcher and he was in full snark mode, which was really funny to watch. He gave us the perspective of the librarian/archivist on the receiving end of so many genealogists’ queries and their rambling stories. I’m not sure how many in the crowd were swayed to edit themselves next time they go to a repository seeking information, but his examples of research query letters (one 6 pages long!) were priceless.

The final session I attended was “The Frugal Curator” by Denise Levenick — I learned so much! Her how-tos for creating boxes and bags for preserving various family heirlooms will be so useful. I can’t wait for the release of her book later this summer.

Sadly, it was then time to finish packing and check out of my room. I made quick work of it, ordered room service for an early dinner and then turned in my room keys. I had about 2 hours before the shuttle would pick me up to return me to LAX. Luckily several genealogy bloggers remained in the lounge and so I had a great time hanging out with them until it was time to depart. Laughing with and learning from some great friends — what better way to end a conference?

Guest Post: Finding Community Cookbook Collections

Note from Missy: Below is a guest post by my friend Gena Philibert-Ortega on using community cookbooks to further your genealogical research. How fun it would be to discover a new-to-you recipe once cooked by an ancestor or relative. Enjoy!

By Gena Philibert-Ortega

(c) 2012 Gary Clark, http://www.PhotoTree.com. From the collection of Gena Philibert-Ortega

During this week of guest posting about food and family history, I’ve mentioned the importance of community cookbooks. In my opinion, community cookbooks are an important source that is overlooked in genealogical research. Researching these cookbooks can yield names, addresses, photos, ethnic origins and family history. In addition to the information about an individual family member you also glean clues about the organization that published the cookbook, their history, local business advertisements and other gems. In one church cookbook where I found a list of those buried in the church cemetery. This type of information can help you recreate your female ancestor’s community.

Community cookbooks like other genealogical documents do have their down side, they can be difficult to find.  Many repositories have not considered them worthy of archiving so to find a collection for your ancestor’s locality can be difficult.

To begin your search, as with any genealogical search, start with the homes of relatives. In some cases they may have a copy of a cookbook that they or another family member contributed to. From there consider checking available bibliographies, archival/library collections, digitized book sites and online auction websites. If you are in the area where your ancestor lived, you can expand your search to local library collections, used bookstores, antique and thrift stores.

Two bibliographies that may assist you are:

Cook, Margaret. America’s Charitable Cooks: A Bibliography of Fund-Raising Cook Books Published in the United States (1861-1915). Kent, Ohio, 1971.

Driver, Elizabeth. Culinary Landmarks: A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825-1949. Toronto [Ont.: University of Toronto Press, 2008. I

Collections of community cookbooks can be found in libraries.  I have links to these collections on my blog Food.Family.Epherma.  The following is a list of just a few of these collections:

Los Angeles Public Library

William L Clements Library, University of Michigan

University of Illinois Library

Radcliff Institute, Harvard University, Schlesinger Library

While a library or archive in your ancestor’s locality might hold the promise of a collection of community cookbooks, another place to search is an Internet auction site like eBay.  Community cookbooks are well represented on eBay.  These cookbooks run the gamut of church, school, and organizational books spanning the 19th and 20th century.

When searching on eBay, make sure to try various keywords so that you search can be as comprehensive as possible.  Some search terms to try include “community cookbook” “church cookbooks” or “charity cookbooks” “fundraising cookbooks.” You can also specify a type of cookbook in your search like “Grange Cookbook” or “Methodist Cookbook.” Consider creating an alert for an ancestor’s locality, church, membership organization  or a cookbook search to be notified by eBay when new items come up for sale.

One book that explores community cookbooks is the book, Recipes for Reading: Community Cookbooks, Stories, Histories edited by Anne L. Bower.  A preview of this book is available from Google Books.

(c) 2012 Gary Clark, http://www.PhotoTree.com

To read more about community cookbooks, please consult my new book From the Family Kitchen. I also spotlight recipes from community cookbooks weekly on my blog Food.Family.Ephemera

Tuesday’s Tip: Local History News Alerts

This past weekend, there was a huge celebration in the town of Easton, Md., surrounding the placement of a sculpture of Frederick Douglass in front of the Talbot County Courthouse. Douglass once gave a very famous address on the steps of that courthouse.

The events this weekend got me thinking about the likelihood of similar events taking place in towns across the country. With all of the patriotic holidays during the summer, there are many celebrations of local and national history throughout the country during this season.

Local newspapers tend to preview such events with articles about area history. What a great way to learn about the hometowns of your ancestors! Might your ancestor get a mention? Here’s one way to find out: set up a Google News Alert for your ancestors’ hometowns and add keywords like ‘history’ to the search string.

Use the AROUND operator to make results more relevant. When I did a search for “San Antonio” and “history,” the results weren’t what I’d hoped for. I changed the search string to ‘”san antonio” AROUND(5) history’ (meaning where ‘history’ appears within five words of ‘San Antonio’) and got much better results.

You can add other keywords to the search string too. Were your ancestors farmers? Miners? Play around with other keywords to narrow your results.

I had trouble getting relevant results from one of my searches. You can click on Advanced Search to narrow the results by source location OR by coverage of a certain location.

I tried out a Google News search for one of my ancestral hometowns, Elizabethton, Tenn. I typed ‘Elizabethton Tennessee history’ into the search bar. The results varied from calendar items for workshops at local history landmarks to an article on local sports history. I set up a news alert so that future articles about the area come to my attention.

When you set up the news alert, you are presented with a number of options that will affect the results you receive. You can have the alert cover everything from blogs to video. I usually select “Everything” from the Type drop-down menu. Likewise, I also select “All Results” under Volume.

I have dozens of news alerts set up for my day job, and I find it can be overwhelming to receive all of those emails. Since I already have Google Reader set up for keeping track of genealogy blogs, I elected to receive these local history updates in my feed there, rather than receiving still more email.

Don’t forget to navigate around the Google News results using the menu on the left. I hit Archives and found articles about presidential candidate Herbert Hoover visiting Elizabethton in 1928. Another article, from 1957, detailed the homecoming of conjoined twins (joined at the head, no less), who had been successfully separated just in time to return home for Christmas that year. Note that some of the archive hits may require payment to view the full article, depending on the publication.

None of these stories involve my ancestors, but what great snapshots of local happenings over the years.

It also pays to search for county names and not just town names. I found this article on a flood that swept through Elizabethton (spelled ‘Elizabethtown’ in this article, which is why it didn’t show up in my previous search) in 1901 by searching for “Carter County.” Surely my ancestors were affected by this flood.

Another interesting find was this reprint of a letter by Abraham Lincoln.

Another bonus to performing these searches is you may discover newspapers you didn’t know existed. This could lead to more fruitful searching later on.

Tuesday’s Tip: SearchTempest.com

I’ve already discussed a couple of finds I acquired by searching eBay, but there’s another site out there that can offer a treasure trove of family items — Craigslist. This is a site for folks to post items for sale, services offered, etc. It has a notorious reputation for certain of its listings, but that shouldn’t deter you from looking for family heirlooms therein.

Craigslist can be hard to search because it will try to zero in to your locality. You can force it to bring up sites for other locations, but it’s hard to search them all at one time.

Enter SearchTempest.com. This site allows you to search for items on Craigslist and eBay across a wide geographic area.

Click for a larger version

I entered my last name and zip code on the homepage, but set the “within” option to 3500 miles. This brought up search results on Craiglist from a variety of areas. It also gave me a list of localities where items were not found, which could come in handy in certain circumstances. I liked the way the Craigslist results were separated out by locality.

Click for a larger version

I learned about this service at a training session I attended last week by AIIP member Cynthia Hetherington. Genealogy was not the topic of the session, but you never know where sites like this will come in handy in our trade!

Using CrossOver to Get RootsMagic Working on a Mac

I waffled over purchasing RootsMagic recently because I really wanted the software, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to use it on my Mac laptop, where I do most of my personal genealogy research. After talking with the RootsMagic staff at their FGS10 booth though, I was informed that a program called Wine could make running RM on a Mac possible.

I visited the Wine website and quickly became flustered. Luckily, there is a neatly packaged version for newbs like me, created and maintained by CodeWeavers. It does cost money to permanently install this easy-to-use version of the software, but I’ve tried the trial version and am sold after getting both it *and* RM4 up and running on my Mac in less than 15 minutes.

The process to get them both working was quite simple. I clicked on the Try Now button here. Then I filled out the form and clicked on the resulting link to download Crossover. After the .dmg file downloaded, I clicked it to install per usual. After it installed and launched, I was prompted to load the installation CD for the Windows software I was trying to run.

I popped in the RM4 CD and Crossover told me it didn’t recognize the software but that I could continue to install it as “Other Software.” This I did and before I knew it, Windows-esque install screens were popping up, prompting me through the process to install RM4. I was a little weirded out when I was asked whether I wanted to install RootsMagic on my C: drive (does my Mac have a C: drive?), but I kept on rolling as if I were truly on a PC and before I knew it, RM4 had launched!

Now I’m following the tips in the RM4 guidebook I also bought at FGS10 and everything has run super smooth. I hope this helps anyone else who wants to use this software but also has a Mac!

Using Gist to Keep Up With It All

Recently, an Internet meme began on the topic of what kinds of technology we use to get things done. I’m not sure how comfortable I am sharing all the gadgets and settings that I’m using, but it has spurred me to write this post about a really neat service I just found out about.

Sample Gist Profile Page

I’m using Gist to keep track of my contacts these days. One of the most valuable aspects to Gist is its ability to track a variety of web content by  your contacts. This could include articles they write, blog posts, tweets, etc. All of these items appear in one place when you view a contact on Gist. This is particularly handy for keeping track of contacts with multiple online identities (*ahem* Thomas MacEntee).

Gist Dashboard Highlighting One Contact

You can connect Gist with Gmail, Outlook and Lotus Notes to keep track of the folks you email the most. You also can link it to your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts and it will start tracking your connections on those services too. In addition, you can upload a .csv file with contacts who may not be covered by the services above.

Gist Contacts Tagged with "genealogy"

The result when you are done is a one-stop shop for finding out what all your contacts are up to — from Tweets, to blogs to articles to Facebook posts. I’m going to start using it to keep track of the blogs I follow.

By connecting Gist with your email account, it also can help you track your current conversations with each contact. Alternatively, if you haven’t heard from someone in a while, you can look them up on Gist to see what you’ve missed.

I’ve set up two separate profiles on Gist — one for my genealogy business (to help me keep track of blogs and my clients) and one for my work at the University of Maryland (mainly to help me keep up with my press contacts).

You can customize how you view your contacts by tagging and rating them. Gist can store email addresses, phone numbers and multiple links associated with each contact.

You can create a public profile and then start connecting with other Gist members as well. I have not gotten this far yet, but assume it would lend yet another layer of depth to the amount of information this tool can offer to you.

There are several tutorials available on using Gist features. I recommend checking out the Gist blog and Twitter feed if you’re interested in learning more. You should read their privacy policy too, if you have concerns about giving access to your information.

Here’s my public profile on Gist: http://gist.com/baysideresearch

Census Searching: Ancestor Not Home? Ask the Neighbors

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

I finally had a chance to do some personal genealogy research last night and so I headed to Ancestry.com to look for tidbits. While researching my paternal line, I found Benjamin William Franklin CORLEY (my great-great-grandfather) and fam in the 1880 and 1860 censuses in Tower Hill, Shelby Co.,  Ill., but had no luck finding them in 1870. I was relatively sure that they hadn’t left the area only to return again before 1880. I decided to look for one of my ancestors’ neighbors in 1870 instead and then check the nearby pages to see if my fam turned up.

I went back to the 1880 census and looked to see who their neighbors were that year.  A NICHOLS family was the next on the census sheet. That’s a rather common name. Next was John SHARROCK. Perfect!

Benjamin William Franklin Corley and fam in 1880. John Sharrock is two households down. Click on the image for a larger version.

I searched for John Sharrock in the 1870 census and was able to find him in the same town and county. The censustaker there that year seemed to have some creative spelling ideas and his handwriting left quite a bit to be desired. No wonder I was having trouble finding my family!

The censustaker wrote “Spirock.” His handwriting/spelling left a bit to be desired.

I scanned a couple of pages back and forth and then found what I was looking for (sort of). Due to his lengthy name, Benjamin William Franklin Corley often appears as B.W.F. Corley in various records. Well, I found what looked to me like a B.W.F. CANBY, but was indexed as CAULY two pages past Mr. Sharrock/Spirock.

Below the scan of the image on Ancestry is a typed index of the information appearing on the page. In the bottom left-hand corner is an “Add Update” button. I clicked on this to update the spelling of the household surname in the census index.

Any index is going to have inaccuracies, especially one that is based on sloppy handwriting and questionable spelling. I’m glad to see this feature on Ancestry that allows for researchers to help contribute to making the index more accurate!