Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Historian's Tale

I am officially jealous of all genealogists who haven't read the great Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. They have a thrill coming regardless of whether they have ancestors in post-Revolutionary Maine.

Not only is the book a riveting read, each chapter is preceded by the laconic workaday diary entries from which Ulrich recreated a world through research. For those working on certification, in terms of putting a bare-bones ancestor into her historical context, one could view this as the world's best kinship determination project. In my world, anyone who has written a book of this quality can die happy.

I have been a fan for a long time, but it came as news to me that Ulrich grew up Mormon in small-town Idaho, or that she came to history relatively late in life. These days she has a project reaching back to her own roots . . .

(Hat tip to History News Network.)


Harold Henderson, "A Historian's Tale," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 30 October 2014 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Monday, October 27, 2014

Do We Have the Genealogy Reflexes We Need?

Elizabeth Shown Mills calls them "mindsets." Thomas W. Jones calls them "dispositions." By whatever name, they go a long way toward explaining why some people have 20 years of experience in genealogy, and others have just one year's experience repeated 20 times.

Genealogy is not just about what we know, it's about how we react. If we're disposed to react in a useful way, then we're more likely to learn what we need to know about genealogy and about our families.

Recently I tried to boil down the important genealogy reflexes to a short simple list. So far I've got them down to five. If we have to travel light, I think we could manage with just the first two. What would you add or subtract?


1.When I learn a new genealogical fact, I ask, "How do they know? Where did that come from?"

2. When I make mistakes, I appreciate being corrected. Sometimes I seek out correction (from a friend, an editor, or a credentialing body).

3. When I see a strange word in a document, I find out what it means.

4. I look for clues everywhere, but I don't trust any clue by itself.

5. I attend conferences and institutes within reason, even though I think I've heard it all before . . . because, chances are, I haven't.




Harold Henderson, "Do We Have the Genealogy Reflexes We Need?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 27 October 2014 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]





Thursday, October 23, 2014

NERGC early bird registration for next April is open

Are you looking forward to spring already? April 16 and 17, 2015, I'll be speaking at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. Early Bird registration is open and the program brochure is now online.

My talks will be on combining property and probate records in New York state research, and "Why We Don't Write and How We Can." If those aren't your cup of tea, check out the many other offerings under advanced research, DNA, technology, skillbuilding, maritime, photographs, colonial New England, "They Went West," military, family stories, researching women, ethnic research, and more. Twelve of the 71 speakers are board-certified genealogists (CG), three are fellows of the American Society of Genealogists (FASG), and one is an accredited genealogist (AG).



Harold Henderson, "NERGC early bird registration for next April is open," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 23 October 2014 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Monday, October 20, 2014

Is your down-and-out Chicago ancestor in this database?



"Forty-four-year-old Adam Huber of 2026 N. Paulina became a 'social cipher' around midnight Saturday, March 17, 1894. According to the Sunday Tribune, the immigrant German carpenter had been beating his wife, Katherine. Then his son George intervened, shooting his father in the chest and killing him instantly.
"Huber's death certificate, prepared the next day by Cook County Coroner James McHale, bears the laconic notation: 'Co. Undertaker. Dunning.' Perhaps because the family was left without resources, Huber was buried at taxpayers' expense in Dunning Cemetery, the county cemetery on the semirural far northwest side of the city.
"There may have been a grave marker--but if there was, it did not last long. Huber's remains vanished into the cemetery, along with those of thousands of other people--the poor, the insane, the tubercular, the stillborn, the vagrants--whose only crime had been to die in Cook County without friends and without money." (Harold Henderson, "Grave Mistake," Chicago Reader 21 September 1989)

Barry A. Fleig is doing what many genealogists dream of -- making sure that no one is forgotten. Over more than 25 years of diligent activity he has collected many records of those buried in the "potter's field" on Chicago's northwest side. Now his work (in an on-line database) and much more information chronicling these forgotten and abandoned burials is on line at Cook County Cemetery at Dunning, Chicago, Illinois. The database contains about 7800 names but Fleig estimates more than 38,000 were buried there over the years beginning in 1854.

UPDATE 21-22 October: Board for the Certification of Genealogists president Jeanne Larzalere Bloom was quoted in the Chicago Tribune story on this subject earlier this afternoon. See http://bcgcertification.org/blog/2014/10/bcg-helps-explain-chicagos-poorest-burials/



Harold Henderson, "Is your down-and-out Chicago ancestor in this database?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 20 October 2014 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Friday, October 17, 2014

The ultimate Ancestry insider -- part of a Salt Lake City twofer for ambitious genealogists

If I hadn't already signed up for APG's Professional Management Conference January 8-9 in Salt Lake, I'd be scrambling now. Thursday's speaker will be Ancestry CEO Tim Sullivan on the role of professionals in genealogy.

This conference has plenty for professionals who take clients, for professionals who don't make a business of it, and for any genealogist who would like a more serious, substantial conference than the usual fare. It's at the beauteous Salt Lake Hilton, not far from the Family History Library.

The other speakers and topics that already had me convinced:

Tom Jones on citations
Angie Bush on DNA and genealogical proof
Elissa Powell on measuring yourself against standards (workshop) and on setting fees
Angela Packer McGhie on time management
James M. Beidler on finding your niche and on taxes
CeCe Moore on adoptee research (workshop)
Christina Grover on difficult conversations with clients and colleagues
Judy G. Russell on finding the law
Anastasia Harman on improving your writing (workshop)
Kimberly Powell on Scrivener
Ron Arons on mind maps
Thomas MacEntee on self-publishing
Billie Stone Fogarty on becoming a genealogical speaker

For more information and registration (same link as above).

And as long as you're in Salt Lake, check out the classes still open at the five-day Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy the following week. Discounted early-bird registration ends at the end of October, and four classes still have room:

F. Warren Bittner on German research
Paula Stuart-Warren on U.S. research
David Ouimette on finding immigrant origins
John Philip Colletta on researching in original document repositories.


Harold Henderson, "The ultimate Ancestry insider -- part of a Salt Lake City twofer for ambitious genealogists," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 18 October 2014 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The perfect is the enemy of the good . . . and of the getting published

From my new talk, "Why We Don't Write and How We Can" (which is a larger first cousin of my 2012 blog post of similar title):


We genealogists are already trained to be more picky and more detail-minded than normal people, but this good habit can turn against us and strangle our own work if we're not careful. Eventually we have to learn that a "reasonably exhaustive search" that the Genealogical Proof Standard calls for is not the same as an [impossible] "exhaustive search." Similarly, a "soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion" is not the same as an [impossible] "irrefutably reasoned, perfectly written conclusion." In both cases it can take a while, but we need to realize that we are looking for something that is good enough to meet standards, as opposed to perfect.

If you want to hear the rest, show up at the Monroe County Public Library in Bloomington, Indiana, tomorrow afternoon, or at the New England Regional Genealogy Consortium in Providence, Rhode Island, Friday, April 17, 2015. (And if you're wondering, yes, it was proposed for NGS in May 2015, but not accepted.)



Harold Henderson, "The perfect is the enemy of the good...and of the getting published," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 14 October 2014 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Good news for Ohio researchers!

Twentieth-century researchers will be especially pleased to learn that the Ohio History Connection now has an index on line for Ohio death certificates 1954-1963. To see the originals -- what we really need -- we must either travel to 800 E. 17th Avenue in Columbus (a great place to research the many materials still confined to paper or microfilm), or order them from the Ohio History Store.

The death certificate index is part of the Select Ohio Public Records Index, which includes some material now on FamilySearch, and some you may not have thought to look at, such as records of the Boys' and Girls' "industrial schools" 1858-1944.



Harold Henderson, "Good news for Ohio researchers!," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 8 October 2014 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]