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!

Getting Started with Genealogical Research at the Library of Congress

If you are even remotely interested in history, genealogy or books, and you happen to find yourself in the Washington, D.C., area, you must make time for a visit to the Library of Congress (LoC). This post is meant to guide first-time visitors to the main facility in general and the Local History and Genealogy Reading Room, specifically. I hope to delve more deeply into some of the LoC’s specific resources in future posts.

The Local History and Genealogy Reading Room of the LoC is located in the Thomas Jefferson Building, Room LJ-G42, 101 Independence Avenue, SE, Washington, D.C. 20540-4660. It is within walking distance of the Capital South Metro Station. The facility is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; and Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Sundays and federal holidays.

This past August, I visited the Library of Congress to check out a book on my ancestors that I knew was in the LoC’s holdings. Before requesting to see the book, I decided to attend a free class on using genealogical resources at the LoC. These 1.5-hour orientation classes are usually held twice a month, on Wednesday mornings, and are infinitely helpful if you plan to do research at the LoC and in the reading room.

On arrival at the LoC, you must pass through security (rules: http://www.loc.gov/rr/genealogy/begin.html) and apply for a reader card that gets you access to the reading rooms and materials. This process took me less than half an hour.

Librarian Reginald Downs was the leader of the orientation session that I attended. In addition to telling us about the resources available and the protocols for requesting and using materials, he took us on a walking tour of the LoC, including the main reading room and several of the alcoves that would be of interest to genealogists/historians (the original card catalog and the city telephone directory rooms included). Reginald also briefly covered some of the other reading rooms that might be of help to historians/genealogists, including the map collection, the manuscripts reading room, the newspaper/current periodicals reading room and the rare book and special collections reading room.

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When you locate a volume at the LoC that you would like to view, you fill out a call slip and give it to a staff member in the reading room. Once you are an established user, you can request materials ahead of time online when you locate materials in the catalog before you arrive (tips for searching the catalog: http://www.loc.gov/rr/genealogy/tips.html). It takes about 45 minutes to one hour for materials to be brought to you at the room. You can write “HOLD” on the slip and your material will be set aside for you, allowing you to visit another part of the facility in the meantime (perhaps another reading room, or there are two cafeterias inside the facility that both offer pretty good food).

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The reading room has desks available for your day’s research. If your work will take several days to complete, you can request a shelf or room for long-term purposes. Use reserved slips to hold the materials you are working on (this is advisable, because once you return a volume, it can take up to 7-10 days to be re-shelved and, therefore, requested again). You must use your reserved space and materials at least once a week in order to maintain it.

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In addition to desk space where you can spread out the materials you are working with, the reading room also has computers where you can access the LoC’s subscription databases (including Ancestry Library Edition and HeritageQuest Online, among others) and the Internet. Printing from the computers is free. Copying pages from books, on the other hand, requires the purchase of a copy card for use at the reading room’s copier for $.20 per copy. Professional copying services are available at the LoC as well.

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Stay tuned for more details on using specific resources in the reading room in future posts.

If you have published a genealogy, the LoC wants a copy! Learn how to donate materials and help future researchers here: http://www.loc.gov/rr/genealogy/gifts.html