Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Learn more about Indiana vital records

Did you know that the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library has a blog in addition to the monthly e-zine "Genealogy Gems"? Well, it does, and the most recent post, by John, advances our knowledge of how to work with Indiana vital records sources, especially in Lake and Allen counties, two of the most populous in the state.

One thing we almost always learn from such careful examinations is that the popular derivative sources (in this case the typescript WPA indexes and the database derived from them) are not always complete, or as simple to use as one might think. There's more going on here than the usual problem of derivative sources being copied at several removes from the original records. Check it out!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not finding Frank Adams

Do you have what it takes to spend 40 years researching a missing grandfather? Don't miss Joseph F. Martin's wonderful story of his search in Michigan and Illinois and beyond, in the National Genealogical Society newsletter "Up Front."

This article is a form of "research travelogue," reviled by some genealogy journal editors for following chronology rather than logic. But it has its place in our literature, if only because it is closer to the actual experience of research and as such provides unique learning opportunities.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ohio Genealogy News Summer 2010

Ohio Genealogy News can stand up to most states' top-line quarterlies. This quarter features the society's new library (grand opening outside Mansfield July 23) plus:

Tacy Arledge Lewis on "Ohio Tax Lists: Practical Applications" including where to find them;

news of Ohio vital records, including three indexes at FamilySearch Pilot website; and

news of Ohio newspaper digitizations from Logan, Mount Vernon, and Perrysburg.

You really do not want to be without this magazine if you're researching Ohio people.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Belich's "Replenishing the Earth" reviewed

If you want to see the difference between a blog post and a published review of the same book, you can compare this 2009 post and my review published in the current APG Quarterly, the publication of the Association of Professional Genealogists. Replenishing the Earth remains an amazing new macrohistorical take on the mass settlement process of which the Midwest formed one part.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Two new books from University of Chicago Press

The University of Chicago Press has gone a little gruesome this time around, at least in terms of books of potential interest to genealogists:

Michael Kammen's Digging up the Dead: A History of Notable American Reburials

Robert Elder's Last Words of the Executed (organized by era and method of execution).

Unlike Kammen, Elder's work is said to include "both the famous and the forgotten." I have not seen either of these books in person.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Methodology Monday with Least Observed Principle of Citation

Rereading the first two chapters of Evidence Explained, I was struck by how many of us are so intimidated by the general principles and intermediate techniques that we don't notice or remember the following prominently placed injunction -- even though author Elizabeth Shown Mills has called attention to it often in online forums:

"Once we have learned the principles of citation, we have both an artistic license and a researcher's responsibility to adapt those principles to fit materials that do not match any standard model." (p. 41)

In other words, the 885-page book is less like a straitjacket and more like a collection of clothing patterns: adjust to fit, once you understand why the pattern is the way it is.

Friday, June 11, 2010

June 2010 Indiana Genealogist

The latest issue of Indiana's genealogical quarterly, under new editor Laura Pinhey of Bloomington, has two records-based articles by Meredith Thompson, one on delayed birth records (a potential resource for births 1860-1930) with a list of counties whose records have been microfilmed and identifiably labeled by the Family History Library, the other on using probate records as a good substitute for vital records. Dawne Slater-Putt offers some clippings from Kokomo newspapers 1919-1941 on the city's minor-league offerings in the old Negro Leagues of baseball. The issue is available on line in PDF format to members.

Twenty of the issue's fifty-four pages are devoted to lists: members of the Indiana State Teachers Association attending the 1882 annual meeting in Indianapolis, and male inhabitants of Liberty (1937) and Morgan (1943) townships in Porter County. Of course, back in the day it was essential for state and local publications to print these sorts of lists, but they look like dinosaurs in the age of online databases. The Indiana society is a national leader in posting databases on its web site, now up to 288 (with more quite possibly added since this was written); these would have fit there perfectly well.

If more of us Indiana members had produced articles about our research, they could have occupied that space in the quarterly, added to its value, and been eligible for a $500 prize. Can we crowd the editor's mailbox?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

more online death indexes

I'm a week late with news of additions to Joe Beine's indispensable "Online Searchable Death Indexes." He's added links pertaining to sixteen Midwestern counties:

Illinois: Christian, Cook, Montgomery, Sangamon
Indiana: Clark, Clinton, Floyd, Hendricks
Michigan: Kalamazoo, Oakland
Ohio: Lorain, Mahoning
Wisconsin: Dane, Forest, Marathon, Pierce

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NGS doctor files

Kerry Scott over at Clue Wagon has a happy post on the good results she had from the National Genealogical Society's AMA Deceased Physician Research with a medical relative surnamed Sykes, who got his start in Wisconsin and Illinois.

My experience with this service has also been positive. (Some of the same raw material is available on FHL microfilm.) As Scott says so well, "If you already have an Ancestry subscription, your very next purchase should be an NGS membership…that’s where you’ll learn to do it right."

If your MD research target attended medical school, take a look in local archives or successor institutions. Some of these places had publications, and some of these publications tracked alumni after graduation. Such publications live on even if the institution itself is long gone. (Chicago's Hahnemann Medical College is an example; it was a homeopathic stronghold in its day but gradually became more broad-minded before being merged out of existence.) If available, this resource can make a nice combination with the American Medical Association and related records retrieved by NGS.