Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Please Review Cyndi's List

I need your help. It has just been brought to my attention that there are poor reviews about Cyndi's List on Alexa. It looks to me like they are old reviews too - from prior to the site upgrade. Also, possibly not long-term genealogists doing the reviews. I would appreciate any help you might give providing your own review of Cyndi's List. Look under the Reviews tab here: Thank you!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Free Access to Swedish Records this Weekend

I received the following today from Thomas Hermelin, ArkivDigital, SWEDEN:

"The Swedish Genealogical Society celebrates their 25th anniversary the 27th - 28th of August. As usual there will be a big convent and a lot of public genealogical activities, mainly during Saturday and Sunday.

We will of course be there and to make it easy for everyone who wants to try ArkivDigital we will open up our service globally between Saturday 01:00 AM Swedish time until 01:00 AM Monday (probably a bit longer) - that correlates to US time, CST: 7:00 PM Friday 26th - 7:00 PM Sunday 28th.

To be able to take advantage of this free offer one must register at our homepage: and install our software ADOnLine2."

For more resources for Sweden/Sverige:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Historical Perspective is the Key

One of those new Facebook pages popped up last week, "You know you're from Edgewood if..." The purpose is to post trivia and memories about our little town. I've lived here since 1972, so I thought I had some nice old memories until I read a thread by two ladies who have lived here longer. The ladies both graduated from the 8th grade at our local junior high school (the same one I attended, and that my son now attends). They graduated in the mid-1950s. At that time they had a choice of 5 different high schools they could attend: Puyallup, Fife, Auburn, Sumner, or Federal Way. Today, there is no choice for students, because they all attend Puyallup. The surprising part of learning this is that those 5 high schools are in what today represent 5 different cities and 5 different school districts. The genealogist in me started thinking about that.

We often get stuck in our perception of geographical or political boundaries. Some genealogists would hear that their ancestor attended Edgemont Jr. High and they might assume that meant the person then attended Puyallup High School. But, depending on the time period, they might be making the wrong assumption. Even today I have known many students who have transferred into or out of our school district without moving to a different address. So, the assumption that a student attends a specific school because of where they reside would be incorrect.

The important thing to remember is that we should never assume anything. A successful researcher is one that does background historical research in addition to the records retrieval for their ancestor. To truly understand your ancestor and the record you are looking for, you need to be able to put yourself in a position of understanding the time, the place, and the reason that the record was made. Historical maps, topographical maps, and histories written about a city/county/region should all be consulted as part of your regular research routine.

Need some pointers for schools and yearbooks?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New Category: Directories: City, County, Address, etc.

I decided to rename my City Directories category and sort some of the sub-cats into locality specific sections (this is all long overdue). New name and address: Directories: City, County, Address, etc.

I've been working on a lot of links into this site recently. Lots of great historical resources including several county directories. Library Ireland: Irish History and Culture, A free online resource of Irish history, culture, folklore, genealogy, music, literature, biography, and all aspects of Ireland.

Friday, August 19, 2011

You're Probably Not Even Reading This

Remember the Carly Simon song "You're So Vain" and the lyrics "you probably think this song is about you?" Well, this article is for you too. You probably think I'm talking specifically about *you* when I actually mean the collective *you* instead. So, don't take this article personally unless, of course, this really is about *you*.

You don't read. You skim your incoming e-mails, Facebook, Twitter and G+ posts. I don't know if you skip every other word or every other line, but you definitely skim. And once you skim-read something you quickly jot a reply and hit send without reading what you just wrote. Your reply doesn't make sense and it is studded with inaccuracies or misspelled words. All because you don't read.

Three times this week I've sent you a message with details in the body of the message. And you quickly replied asking me for those same details. Seriously? Why don't you read?

Dozens of times each day I reject new links you send me. Some are inappropriate and many are just repeats of what I already have. Why do you do this? You ignore all the guidelines I have in place. Because you don't read! And when I write to ask you not to do this again you reply with something sarcastic or flippant. You need to read and then absorb what you just read.

Because you don't read you end up wondering why no one ever replies to your messages. You wonder why some replies you do get aren't all that helpful. You need to read.

Because you don't read you are missing valuable details and little nuggets that might extend the branches of your family tree even further. You need to read.

Because you don't read, and especially not with any care, you are missing out on so many important topics, so many helpful threads, and so many potential tips and tricks that might be just what you need.

Who am I kidding? You're probably not even reading this.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Change is good. Quit your belly-achin'!

Today Footnote announced it has changed its name to Fold3 ( There is also a slight rearrangement of the web site. Reactions from the public have ranged from "how dare they!" to "I don't like it because --fill in one of several reasons--." Some of the reasons are about the new look, the search function, and possible problems when trying to find things on the new site.

My reasons for concern over news like this are usually very different from others. The first thought I have is, "Oh no. Broken links." I checked and learned that the only change is the domain name and title name, so I can do a relatively easy update on that. My second thought is about the identity of Footnote as a genealogical resource. The name Footnote always felt scholarly to me. It feels solid. And my first knowledge of Footnote was in regard to their unique relationship with the U.S. National Archives. The identity of Footnote, in my mind, was "U.S. government records source." As such I've always held a private wish to eventually see the U.S. land entry files on the Footnote site. Today's news indicates that Fold3's genealogical identity will now be focused on "the finest and most comprehensive collection of U.S. Military records available on the internet." I'm not crazy about the new name, but it isn't a life-altering issue for me. My two questions/concerns were answered, so I'm fine with things.

Getting worked up about a commercial entity online that changes their look, their name, and their functionality doesn't do you any good. They are a business. Of course they are going to periodically switch things up. If they didn't their business would go stale. I'm not concerned with the search function or the arrangement of the web site. I've seen so many changes to so many sites throughout the past 15 years that I've learned there is no point in worrying about them. Changes come. It is part of life. And sometimes changes on a web site are a good thing. It shakes up the way we do things, makes us a think up a new routine, and gives us a new perspective. That new perspective often leads to good things for our research. Falling into a monotonous routine means we stop seeing new things and possibly miss seeing something we really need.

And the final thought I usually have when I see the uproar over things like this is about perspective. Does anyone remember when we didn't have the Internet? Does anyone remember driving to a cemetery/courthouse/library/archives to do research? Does anyone remember that in the old days getting a specific type of record might take you months, postage, shipping, and patience? How spoiled we have become. My great-grandmother lived in a sod house. She raised children, cooked meals, and lived daily in a house made of DIRT. My grandparents all lived through two world wars and the Great Depression. I try to remember them when I find myself unhappy that my microwave light-bulb has burned out or when my cable TV isn't working. Similarly, we need to remember just how far genealogical research has come thanks to the Internet. And quit belly-achin' about changes on a web site that serves up digitized records many of us would never have access to in the old days.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Casefile Clues deal for Cyndi's List Users

Casefile Clues is Michael John Neill's weekly genealogy how-to newsletter. Geared to researchers with some experience it discusses in clear detail research sources, methods, and procedures in an eary to read and follow fashion. Fans of Cyndislist can subscribe to Casefile Clues for 1 year at a discount rate of $14

Deep Linking makes Cyndi's List Unique

I saw this on a Google+ stream from July:
"(P.S. I don't use Cyndi's List so much since most things can be found with search.)"
This statement isn't quite true. One of the unique things about Cyndi's List is that I deep-link into web sites that contain genealogically-specific information. Google doesn't always return hits for pages deep within a web site. Sometimes even I have to look for some links the hard way - browsing and digging my way down through several layers in a web site's hierarchy. Use Cyndi's List in conjunction with your Google searches for a broader success rate.