52 Weeks to a Better Genealogy, Week 21: Maryland State Archives

I visited the Maryland State Archives for a client this week, in search of an elusive marriage record that the client’s family had sought for more than 60 years. I did my homework beforehand and knew exactly what to ask for when I showed up. The archives website provided all the information I needed to prepare ahead of time.

From the homepage, I clicked on Reference and Research in the left-hand sidebar. In the How to Find Specific Records section, I clicked on the link for Marriage Records.

There is an enormous amount of historical background available on this page! Be sure to read the information on how and when the state and counties started tracking marriages — it will make your search that much more fruitful if you are armed with this knowledge.

Since I knew the exact date and county of the marriage record I sought, I found the appropriate date range (Marriage Records 1776-1886) and then clicked on the links for the appropriate county (in this case, Talbot).

Here’s an example “Pull Slip” for one of the records I needed to search. I printed these pull slips out and took them with me to the archives. It was hard for me to tell from the information given in what format the records would be, so I was able to go over the pull slips with one of the archives staff. Some of the records were available online (some password protected and some not; the archives staff make the password available upon request).

In this particular case, I found two records referring to the marriage in question. One was a hand-written copy of the index and licenses transcribed from the original in the year 1861. I was able to view scans of this index online at the Archives and printed out the pertinent pages for my client. The other record contained the original pages from the county marriage license files, preserved and stored at the Archives. I was able to page through the book and take photos of the pages my client needed.

It was useful for my client to have both versions of the record. Why? She had found the marriage license indexed on Ancestry.com, but one of the surnames was spelled completely different. The client felt certain it was the right record because the other name, the date and the location all were correct. It appears the Ancestry.com record was indexed based on the 1861 hand-written copy, where we could see that a spelling error was introduced after comparing it to the original record, which showed the correct spelling of the name.

My email to the client after my trip to the archives elicited a “Yippee!” and “That’s it!!!!!  This is the proof my mother was seeking in 1950!!!!” (What a priceless feeling!)

If you are seeking similar records from a Marylander ancestor, I highly recommend exploring their site to see if you too can find the tools there to break down your brickwall. There are folks like me who can go to the archives for you to search for records (advisable if you need someone to do a bit of extra hunting because of missing or misinformation, as in the case above) or you can order them yourself.

I’ve posted previously on how to order death records from the MSA. If you live in Maryland, I highly recommend stopping by the archives and getting acquainted with all they have to offer. Be sure to use their web site first to make your trip a productive one!

52 Weeks to a Better Genealogy, Week 5: WorldCat

Ha! Finally caught up. I must profess my love for WorldCat — I use it all the time when helping patrons at the Internet Public Library because it’s the easiest way for me to tell what libraries are closest to them (if they’ve given me their location). It’s easy enough to show folks how to look up a book on this service and locate the closest copy, even if they haven’t given me their location.

If you find a book on Google Books, you can click through from there (use the “Find in a library” link) to see the book’s WorldCat results including which libraries near you may have it. Often when I stumble upon a book this way, I check out the subject headings for the book (see the red box below; click on the image for a larger version):

If you’re really lucky, the subject headings for your book will include surnames — click on the related headings for more titles focused on these subjects. It’s a serendipitous way to discover new resources.

52 Weeks to a Better Genealogy: Inter-Library Loan

I’m late (again) for this weekly series, but I’m also going to take a different spin on the original mission from We Tree:
“Learn about your local public library’s inter-library loan (ILL) policy. Pick a genealogy-related book that you want to read that is not in your library’s collection. Ask the librarian how to request the book from another library. Find the different library systems from which you can request books through your own library, as this can dramatically increase the number of genealogy books to which you have access. If you have a genealogy blog, write about your experience with requesting items through your library’s ILL service.”

I’ve used and am a huge proponent of inter-library loan (ILL) services. Through my volunteer work with the Internet Public Library, I constantly refer patrons to their local libraries because even if their library doesn’t have a particular book that they may need or want, they usually can request it via inter-library loan.

The state of Maryland actually maintains a fleet of vehicles for this purpose (and if I could find my spring 2008 class notes, I could tell you exactly how many). The other morning, I saw a van belonging to the Eastern Shore Regional Library heading west on Route 50 here on the Shore. I wonder if they were transporting books for the ILL program.

Here’s how the ILL loan process works at my library: once I determine that a book I need is not available in my library’s catalog, but is available at another library in the system (either via WorldCat [more on this in a future post] or on Marina, the state’s library holdings database), I simply call or email the library and ask them to request the book for me. They also can request books from out-of-state institutions, but there is a $5 charge for this (still cheaper than having to buy your own copy of most books!). The hitch is that if a book is in high demand, you may have to wait a while before it becomes available to send your way.

I’ve also used the ILL system within the University System of Maryland libraries. I work on the College Park campus, but when I needed a book at one of the campuses in Baltimore, I was able to request that it be sent to one of the libraries on the College Park campus for me to pick up. Way more convenient!


Requesting Vital Records from the Maryland State Archives

Today, I’ve been requesting copies of vital records for some of my kin. One item I requested was my paternal grandmother’s death certificate.

First off, why would I do this? It may sound morbid, but there can be a lot of rich genealogical information in this document. The death certificate will typically list the date, time, location and cause of death. In addition, it will include the name of the deceased’s spouse, the names of their parents, Social Security number and place of residence. If the death was related to a medical condition, the recent history of the condition may be discussed. The name of the cemetery/funeral home that accepted the remains may be listed.

My paternal grandmother passed away in Chevy Chase, Md., in 1943. I was able to determine where her death certificate would be held by reviewing the Maryland State Archives web page about vital records. Had my relative passed away after 1968, a different state office would have held the death certificate.

For death records held by the Archives, users search a digital collection for the deceased individual. Click “Search MD Vital Records” in the top-left corner and then select the repository that will contain the record you are after. Mine was “DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS (Death Record, Counties, Index) 1910-1951 MSA SE 7.”

Clicking on that link brings you to an index broken down by date and then alphabetically. Clicking on the range pertaining to my ancestor and then narrowing down still further to the initial of her last name brought up an alphabetical list of index card images.

Each card contains the name, date of death, county, race and age of the deceased. Clicking on the index card for your ancestor brings up the form for requesting the death certificate itself. You have the option of ordering a simple copy or a certified copy.

While filling out the form, you’ll be asked to enter your personal information and re-enter the information of your ancestor (as a means of verification). Unfortunately, you can’t submit the form online. You must then print out the form and send it in with your payment (currently, $12 for a plain copy and $25 for a certified copy).

And then you wait. I’ll report back when I receive the death certificate!

Scrappy Saturday: Traditional Scrapbooking Ideas

CM Traditional Challenge #1 Example

Last week, I posted about getting into digital scrapbooking via Creative Memories’ digital challenges. For those who hold physical trimmers and paper near and dear, there are also plenty of options.

CM’s Project Center has a section devoted to traditional scrapbooking, including a Project Idea of the Day. The projects include traditional scrapbook pages and other ways to use CM’s materials.

CM has also started a challenge series for traditional scrapbooking. Challenge #1 was posted on Facebook just this week.

As always, please contact me if you have questions about CM products!

Scrappy Saturday: Go Digital with CM’s Digi Challenges

I’m going to try a new blogging theme–Scrappy Saturday–to let you all know what’s out there for those interested in either digital or traditional scrapbooking. This week, my focus is getting into digital scrapbooking by participating in various online challenges being run by Creative Memories.

What you’ll need:

* try it before you buy it by downloading a free version first!

You can find out about ongoing Digi Challenges by following the CM team on Facebook. Check out their Events tab for the current challenges.

I’m participating in the 365 Project: I take at least one photo everyday and then create a one- or two-page spread at the end of the week. At the end of the year, I’ll have all of the highlights of 2010 ready to publish as a Storybook.

If that sounds daunting, there are plent of mini challenges you can participate in to get the feel for digital scrapbooking. These challenges are a great way to get to know the software and the different capabilities that are there for designing your own pages and using existing designs.

My response to Digi Challenge #9

I recently completed Digi Challenge #9. A layout was provided and all I needed was to select two of my photos to include. I got to pick 4 different papers and 3 embellishments to complement the photos. Then, I needed to fill in one journaling box and I was done. It’s fun to see how others responded to the challenge as well.

If you’ve been thinking about trying digital scrapbooking, but don’t know where to start, try out one of these challenges and see where it takes you. Digital scrapbooking is fast and easy. You can more easily share the results of your digital creations with far-flung friends and relatives than you can with a traditional scrapbook.

One extra benefit to using CM’s digital scrapbooking software is that you create archived versions of your photos and designs with their system almost without having to think about it. By regularly backing up your CM files, you’ll ensure your memories are safe for years to come.

If you have questions about CM’s digital scrapbooking products, please drop me a note!

2010 Calendar How-To

You can create a beautiful 2010 calendar in about 30 minutes with Creative Memories StoryBook Creator Plus 3.0. Below is a step-by-step guide for creating a traditional calendar. You can also use the predesigned pages in the software or create your own embellished pages for more intricate designs. Each calendar page is perforated so you can remove the 12×12 photo after the month is over and add it to a scrapbook, album or wall display. Click on the photos below for larger versions.

select-12x18calendar-smStep 1 — Create a New Project: Open StoryBook Creator Plus 3.0 and select “Create a new project.” Choose “12×18 Calendar” under project type and then select your preferred format (predesigned or basic). Click Next.

add-photos-smStep 2 — Add Your Photos: In the next step, you will select your photos for including in the project. Hold down the CTRL button to select multiple photos at the same time. Click “Get selected photos.”

selected-photos-smSelect Next.

insert-from-memmgr-smAlternatively, you can load photos from Memory Manager. To select photos from Memory Manager, create the project and then select the Insert tab at the top of the window. Click the Photo icon and select “From Memory Manager 3.0.” Follow the prompts to insert photos onto the pages of your project.

name-project-smStep 3 — Name Your Project: Give your project a name, select the location where it will be saved and click Create.

blank-project-smStep 4 — Design Your Calendar: Now you’re ready to dig in. Before you is the January 2010 page. Click on the Photos tab in the right-hand window.

insert-photo-smDrag the desired photo(s) to your calendar page and arrange. Resize, if needed, by clicking and dragging the corners of each image.

aspect-ratio-smUse the Aspect Ratio menu to reshape the photo to fit the square shape of the page by right-clicking on the photo, selecting “Aspect ratio” and clicking on Square.

insert-textbox-smStep 5 — Add Important Dates: Customize your calendar by writing in birthdays, holidays and other special information. Use the zoom bar in the bottom-left corner of the window to zoom in on the days of the month. Insert a text box by selecting the Insert tab at the top of the screen and clicking on Text. Drag the box to the desired location and resize.

resize-text-smDouble-click on the text box and type in your information. To resize the text, highlight the text with your mouse. Select the “Format Text” tab at the top of the window. Click on the text-size button and select the desired text size.

finished-calendar-smStep 6 — Repeat: Save your work by clicking on the Save button at the top of the design window. Click on the Pages tab in the right-hand window and select the next page in your calendar. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 for each month.

click-order-smStep 7 — Order Your Calendar: Click on the Home tab at the top of the window. Select the Order icon and click “Order this project online.” You will have an opportunity to preview your calendar. You then will be asked to log in to the Creative Memories Digital Center (you can create a new account if you don’t have one already). If you are asked for a Creative Memories Consultant ID number, please enter 65148777.

order-smThe CM Digital Center will open in your browser window once you login. Click on My Projects and select Calendars. You should now see the Calendar you just created in StoryBook Creator Plus 3.0. Select it and click on “Add to Cart & Checkout.” Follow the prompts to complete your purchase.

Visit my Creative Memories site for more digital and traditional scrapbooking ideas and products. Questions? Email me!