Monday, January 30, 2012

More Midwestern deaths on line

Joe Beine's recent blog post of newly added online death indexes includes the following Midwestern entries:

Illinois -- Vermilion County

Indiana -- Knox County and Southern Indiana

Michigan -- Detroit area (recent)

Ohio -- Cuyahoga, Lucas, and Trumbull counties

Wisconsin -- Wisconsin Medical Journal (WMJ) Physician Obituary Database 1903-2008

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Social media as evidence!

Over at the ProGenealogists blog last month, David Vance commented on how social media worked a century ago in the social columns of local newspapers.

I would be interested in the thoughts of more tech-savvy people on this comparison. (And quite possibly there have been some in the hectic month between his post and this one!)

Vance translated some of the social items into 2012-speak, and it looked to me like the corresponding tweets contained somewhat less genealogical information than their 1912 originals. (Insert your own observation about the 2010 census vs. 1910 census here.)

Meanwhile, here's an example of a top-of-the-line genealogical article that used this kind of source:

Victor S. Dunn, "Social News as a Clue to Ancestry: Hester (nee Rogers) Cunningham of Virginia and West Virginia," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 93 (September 2005): 165-176.

It's available free on line to members of the National Genealogical Society.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Historic Pathways

If you know anything about Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, you don't need me to tell you that her new web site, Historic Pathways, is a treasure chest of the best in genealogy writing and reasoning. It includes links to valued sites and to her many books, but for aspiring practitioners the real meat is in 40 previously published articles and reports, most heretofore unavailable on line. That's my count, and it doesn't include a couple of titles promised but not yet posted. The articles and reports are organized by topic, so some are mentioned several times.

You may recognize some characters from one or more of her lectures, including the article ("In Search of 'Mr. Ball': An Exercise in Finding Fathers" with Sharon Brown Sholars, CG) from which sprang the inimitably titled lecture "Margaret's Baby's Father and What He Taught Me."

[Elizabeth Shown Mills and Sharon Sholars Brown, “In Search of ‘Mr. Ball’: An Exercise in Finding Fathers,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 80 (June 1992): 115–33; digital image at Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways ( : accessed 20 January 2012)]

The Association of Professional Genealogists held an experimental on-line Live Meeting this past week about various educational opportunities. We focused on structured opportunities, some expensive, some low-cost.

We didn't get around to totally free opportunities like this -- and there is nothing like this on the web. If you're short of cash and travel time, and if you're tired of the much-recycled and dubiously sourced material that is easy to find on line, then read and reread these articles until you can give an elevator-pitch summary of each and follow the subtleties of the reasoning. You won't get a certificate or a credential, but you will see the genealogy world with new eyes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

CAFG's Newsletter

The Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy is a relatively new professional group with stiff entrance requirements and a mentoring program. Their newsletter, however, is public, and the January issue of "Forensic Genealogy News" includes two concise and thought-provoking articles. And anyone who want to improve their research skills will find some nifty suggestions for productive practice in Cathi Desmarais's article.

[Catherine Desmarais, "Not Quite Ready for the CAFG Mentoring Program? Gaining
Experience with Forensic Genealogy Techniques," Forensic Genealogy News 2, no. 1 (January 2012):4-5; digital image, Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy ( : accessed 20 January 2012). ]

If you're counting, this is post #827 since this blog was opened exactly four years ago.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Read "The Legal Genealogist" -- It's The Law

You may well have met newly minted blogger J. G. Russell already, whether in a class or on a genealogy discussion list. She's the one who doesn't have to say, "I'm not a lawyer, but . . ." when answering a question about dower or copyright.

An astute attorney and genealogist, now she's blogging at The Legal Genealogist, and it's the place to be for those of us who have recognized (with varying degrees of reluctance) that you cannot do top-notch genealogy without knowing (1) what the law was at a given place and time, (2) what people thought the law was at a given place and time, and (3) how often they obeyed either one.

Recent posts include a reminder of IGHR registration at Samford, Martin Luther King Jr.'s family tree, and a series of posts on how old you had to be to do various things in various times and places. Wow -- that alone is worth the price of admission.

Monday, January 16, 2012

More Midwestern Resources

Today I'm mainly aggregating, not creating!

* Writing in NEHGR's "Weekly Genealogist," Valerie Beaudreault calls attention to a new on-line index to the Wisconsin Medical Journal, 1903-2003. Also a work-in-progress, the Appleton, Wisconsin, public library obituary index for various years.

* Most issues 1899-2005 of the Indianapolis Recorder, an African-American newspaper, are now searchable on line thanks to IUPUI.

* Just one of the best genealogy records blog posts I've seen, about the records of the Chicago Lying-In Hospital, a must-see if you have non-wealthy Chicago ancestors.

* If you need microhistorical raw data on the Black Hawk War, the 40-year-old compilations compiled and edited by Ellen M. Whitney and published by the Illinois State Historical Library, The Black Hawk War 1831-1832, remain the gold standard. If you need a microhistorical narrative -- for instance, to track where an ancestor may have participated in this war -- I have been very impressed by Patrick J. Jung's The Black Hawk War of 1832 (Norman OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007). I have not read it through or purchased my own copy, but I have used it for research (I know, they should usually be the same thing, but not today). The worst thing I can say about it so far is that he cites like a historian (one footnote per paragraph, no matter how many sources were involved).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ohio Genealogy News Winter 2011

"Have You Researched Your Ancestor's Mental Health?" is the cover headline on the new OGS News, the class of the state-level newsletters. Among the contents:

Lisa Long (Ohio Historical Society reference archivist), "Mental Health Records: An Introduction for Researchers" and "Selected List of Patient Records in the Ohio History Center." Don't get your hopes up -- asylum and mental health records are "restricted" no matter how old, according to state law (insert your joke here about the lunatics running the asylum), but there are a variety of workarounds.

Deb Cyprych, "Return of Deaf and Dumb, Blind, Insane and Idiotic Persons in Ohio, 1856" -- a township-level partial census, many of the entries including parents' names.

Susan Zacharias, "Searching the Dead in Stark County: Coroner's Records Online."

Beverly R. Austin and Ronald L. Burdick, "Cleveland Public Library's Genealogy Resources."

Wally Huskonen, "Getting Ready to Research in the 1940 Census," including several tips for identifying enumeration districts as we await its indexing.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hoosier Genealogist: Connections Fall/Winter 2011

Indiana's semi-annual genealogy magazine The Hoosier Genealogist: Connections, from the state historical society, has a number of articles:

Rick Bell, "Below the Falls," a story of early New Albany and other Ohio River towns, tied into the new IHS collection of essays, Full Steam Ahead: Reflections on the Impact of the First Steamboat on the Ohio River, 1811-2011.

Jennie Regan-Dinius, "SHAARD," describing a database of historic properties and cemeteries across the state. Searchable categories are theaters, ISSHI (Indiana Historic Structures and Sites Inventory), cemetery registry, bridges, and National Register [of Historic Places]. Begun in 2009 with federal government support, it remains a work in progress as information both new and old continues to be added.

Geneil Breeze, "Early Settler: Thomas Kirby Warner...," on an early settler of Kosciusko County. I was struck by how various siblings reacted to the deprivations of pioneer life, and came and went accordingly.

Karen M. Wood, "Constructing a Biography," on William S. Hall of Rush County and his role in early stages of school consolidation, beginning in 1873.

Joyce Baggerly, "Family Poetry," with extensive quotations from Margaret Bruner's poems and the Baggerly family.

Glenda Thompson and Judy Ditzler, "The Indiana Boys' School." The Indiana State Archives holds letters and files of the school and a database of boys committed to the institution 1868-1930 is in the works. In the meantime, a visitor to ISA in Indianapolis can view bound volumes of commitment records in chronological order. (Always call first before visiting an archive!)