Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Day I Was Born- Saturday Night Fun

The weekly theme created by Randy Seaver of Geneamusings theme for this week consists of the following:

1) What day of the week were you born? 

On February 10th, which was a Sunday morning. My parents had gone to an Aces basketball game the night before followed by dinner when my mother said she had had enough and wanted to get out of there NOW!

2) What has happened in recorded history on your birth date (day and month)?  

1840     Queen Victoria married her cousin Albert von SaksenCoburg
1855     US citizenship laws were amended so that all children of US parents which were born abroad were  
granted US citizenship
1933     Hitler proclaims the end of Marxism
1940     Tom and Jerry [the cartoon] created by Hanna and Barbera debuted by MGM
1947     World War II peace treaties signed
1990     South African President de Klerk announces that Nelson Mandela will be free on February 11

3) What famous people have been born on your birth date? 

1893     Jimmy Durante (comedian)
1929     Jim Whitaker (first American to climb Mount Everest)
1939     Roberta Flack (singer- famous for song "If Ever I Saw Your Face")
1950     Mark Spitz (nine Olympic Gold medalist, swimmer)
1958     Sharon Stone (actress)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Space Shuttle- 25 Years Later

Time moves so quickly, yet some experiences remain intimately connected no matter how far in the past, and the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger was one of them for me.

Still enamored by all events space related (I always watched the space launchings and landings starting in  childhood when the men landed on the moon on our old black and white TV), I couldn't wait to watch the launch that cold January morning.

I knew the astronauts by name (Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Greg Jarvis, Ellison Onizuka, and teacher Christa McAuliffe) and was so impressed with NASA because of the diversity of the crew and of course that we had a teacher on board. Christa had an infectious smile and laugh whenever she was interviewed that just pulled me in all the more.

Feelings that ran from anticipation, fear, excitement, shock, tears, and anger were all part of my day. The images that have always remained with me included the dismay on the face of Christa McAuliffe's parents as they continued to look to the skies for an answer that would never come and the students siting in the auditorium with their noisemakers who appeared to believe the disaster was a joke at first, but so accurately demonstrated the emotions we all felt that day.

Who can forget the immortal words of of President Reagan that night when he spoke of how they were now
                                           "touching the face of God."

The Flood of 1937

Patricia Sides, the Archivist/Historian at Willard Library here in Evansville gave a presentation Thursday (January  27) on Evansville during the 1937 Flood titled "Water, Water, Everywhere" before approximately 40 guests as well as library staff during the lunch hour.

Pat did a very good job with the presentation, combining photographs from the ever growing collection that Willard has (many which are available for view online) with newspaper, oral, and other written accounts about the flood and the effects this devastation had on our city and so many others that were based on the Ohio River from Pennsylvania and other points east down the river to the Mississippi.

My parents were children at the time of the flood and I had the opportunity to ask my mother her recollections this week, not sure what she remembered. My mother told me that the house that she grew up in was not one of those flooded, so instead her father brought home a co-worker's family with two small boys who were not as fortunate. My grandmother was a hard worker and a spiritual woman, but I can only imagine how different that house must have been with three energetic children who my mother said would run around the circular layout of the main floor repeatedly. Mom also said that they kept their bathtub full of water everyday, which she didn't understand, and that men would come everyday and open the covers over the sewers to check the water level because they were blowing all over the city. (I learned today that because the water plant was well under water clean water was brought in for consumption, thus the full bathtub. The American Red Cross was very fearful at the time that there would be an epidemic of typhoid and/or scarlet fever, so precautions were taken very seriously),

Aerial View of Evansville (Knecht 2108) Courtesy of Willard Library

Listening to Patricia Sides in the presentation and in watching the photos, I gained a larger perspective for all that occurred here.

I didn't know that at one point the National Guard was brought in and martial law was enacted in order to protect property and people. Many people had evacuated. (Tonight my mother told me of a friend of hers that was on the last railroad train leaving the city and that water was actually lapping the wheels as they were moving down the track). I know of a family closer to Cincinnati  in which part of the family went to Indianapolis and the family never was able to reunite.

Patricia reminded us that this flooding came on the heels of a year of serious heat, a time of depression, and that the flooding was coupled with ice storms, snow, and other weather events. So much went on in this city during that time, and those of you that lived in adjoining areas know the story well. Because of the popularity of the session, Willard Library will repeat the presentation in the evening in April for those who could not attend today. I think I am going to attend again. As we all know, the more knowledge we have about the daily lives our families lived, the better.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Now For My More Rational Side

I have had many hours to think this whole situation regarding Ancestry and the rapid demise of Expert Connect in favor of promoting its acquisition of ProGenealogist as its research base, not all of them good I have to admit, but its time to look at what this change can offer.

I spent some time connecting with family and friends, connected with Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers and  High -Definition Genealogy  among his many other activities, and read the blogs of Marian Pierre- Louis (Roots and Branches), Kerry Scott (Clue Wagon), and Amy Coffin (We Tree). I also went to several of my message boards to read the opinions of other researchers (those who used Expert Connect and those who did not), which I must admit was at times insightful and at others quite frustrating.

The very last move I made was to go to the ProGenealogist site and look at it from a professional perspective and as a prospective client. One of the areas I always prided myself on as a strength in my life was the ability to look at an issue from every single angle.This served me very, very well as a Masters Level Social Worker who worked with very traumatic children/teenagers that the world considered were going to be the next serial killers (I'm not kidding. Some of my kids were the ones that have would have been on TV shows today. Working with them and seeing their angle, connecting with their parents, getting along with judges, etc. helped increase that strength.)

Anyway, I have looked at all the angles and now believe I am at a better place with the whole situation, but not completely. Researchers and clients were not treated respectfully or professionally by Ancestry by the way the program was shut down.

 I believe that researchers who worked with and for Expert Connect should have received a more professionally written letter prior to the information being sent to our clients. Would the word have leaked out? Absolutely, but I suspect a great percentage of our clients would have received the word personally from their professional researchers FIRST instead of becoming alarmed or dismayed. 

The more I look at various items from Ancestry it is clear they knew this was coming before Monday afternoon. Further warning instead of 8 days would have been more professional. I know that the bidding situation on Expert Connect probably played a role in how they needed to shut the program down, but I also think they could have simply put up some information for potential clients to let them know that they needed to  look at a shorter time frame.

I do appreciate the fact that Ancestry is allowing professionals the opportunity to make private arrangements with clients if projects cannot be completed within a certain time frame, or even if we choose to do so immediately. That I consider the one positive for researchers.

Expert Connect was not a perfect system, nor is the professional genealogy field itself, and I am sure that allowing a subsidiary to conduct all the procedures, deal with the customer service, etc. is better for Ancestry.  For as many successful stories and situations there were on Expert Connect there were some problems (the Ask a Question to a Professional section comes to mind here).

The Pro Genealogist site still contains reference materials for all of us to access, a newsletter to subscribe to, and the most detailed description of the the research procedures for potential clients that I have ever seen. Costs may be a concern in the future, and I will be interested to see what effect this has on the research profession. For all they can do, unless they hire hundreds (at least) of professionals, not all research can be completed by them nor at Utah. We all know that there are many items that are not microfilmed, or if so, still may need to be viewed in person for many reasons.

What will I do?

Continue with my Pro-Gen class (and catch up with all my assignments)
Complete the work I am currently assigned and do a bang-up job in the process
Continue to do all I can to increase my knowledge of all things Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, especially in my geographic area given that this region plays such a huge migration role for so many families
Get may face out there in a variety of means
Attend more conferences

In the meantime, consider this:

         There are two ways of meeting difficulties: you alter the difficulties, or you alter yourself to meet them.
                                   - Phyllis Battome 

This is my final word on this issue. Now its time to move on and ahead.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When Ancestry Owns The World Part II

Late last summer I wrote with some trepidation about Ancestry acquiring the professional genealogy company known at the time as ProGenealogy. I questioned why this already well connected organization needed to go out and buy a company when Ancestry had already developed an in house professional research service known as ExpertConnect.

Researchers throughout the United States and the world contracted with Ancestry to provide research services to customers needing assistance beyond the "shaking leaf." I need to admit as I write this that I have provided some limited services on the site since its inception, so I do have some bias, with successes and times of mixed results, however I always felt as though I was treated with respect by the employees working in the department and must say that here as I finish my impressions of the "Big Guy."

Yesterday the bottom fell out towards my impressions of "Mr. World." I came home from a day at a local courthouse (whose records by the way are not all living in Utah) to open my email with 3 frantic messages from clients questioning why Ancestry is closing ExpertConnect! This was before I even knew the news for myself that Ancestry was closing the service. That news came a few emails later.

Yes, with a total of 8 days notice, researchers were honored with an email to state that Expert Connect was closing effective February 3 and we were encouraged to do whatever we needed to close our current projects or make private arrangements.

I could not help but think how curious that date was knowing that the second season of "Who Do You Think You Are" is premiering on February 4th and that I am sure there will be several commercials for the "shaky leaf" as I would expect given the increased interest. After thinking about it a little more, I went to the Progenealogist blog today, and lo and behold (as my grandmother would say)- it has a whole new look!!!

It now is an Ancestry research service! What do you know! What I find interesting is that for Ancestry all the answers are in Utah. It is an interesting site. They list the prices of all their competitors, tell you in absolute detail (and I mean detail) what they cover, etc.

The rest I will let you read for yourself.  However, should you need a researcher for southern Indiana, Kentucky or southern Illinois, let me know.  

My calendar is going to be free soon (and I go to courthouses) (Sorry, sometimes I just can't help myself).

Your Library Has Databases- Tuesday Tip

I am in the process of determining which databases, magazines, journals, and societies that I am going to remain attached to at this time of increasing gas prices, food, and the need to keep a child in college. I also would like to go to one of the major conferences this year- God willing!

Can you imagine how surprised I became at myself when I discovered or rediscovered that my local genealogy library had its own subscription to one of the newspaper archive databases that I could use at my leisure from home instead of paying a monthly fee? All I need to do is enter my library card code whenever I want to use it.

My local public library also has access to other databases that will assist in cutting my costs and allow me to allocate those funds to other priorities (including some late fees, darn it). For example, there was an obituary from our local newspaper a year old that would cost a fee to acquire through Scrips, but by accessing the local library and checking its databases I was able to obtain the obituary for free.

January might be a good time to check your local repositories to see which databases you can access for free. Also, many genealogy societies provide access to other online databases through your membership. That might be a way to consolidate as well.

Good luck! Just wish I would have caught this one sooner!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Thankful Thursday- Suggestions Come From Our Blogging Friends

One of the greatest aspects of blogging in this genealogy sphere is the interaction that comes in getting to know other researchers going through all the ups and downs of this crazy field we love right along with us.

One of those people is Amy Coffin of We Tree fame who has given all of us reasons to learn more about our families through the past years in the series named "Jump Start Your Genealogy Blog: 52 Ideas, 52 Weeks", "52 Weeks to Better Genealogy", and this years series "52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History" which just began and is one I would strongly encourage for everyone. There is no pressure to complete all the prompts, just join in when you can.

There are many of the prompts I have completed, but many more that I missed and I think I will some day go back and actually use some of those I missed for further learning.

But that is not why I am writing this today- SOURCES is.  I have a family program on my computer as many of us do, and when I was trying to decide about keeping Family Tree Maker or moving to another program Amy was one of those who sent a message my way. When I went back and read some of her entries she was lamenting the chore in which she was going back through her program and citing each fact and coming along quite well with the process (I say with clenched teeth).

That's when I knew what I was going to do, and that's why I am thankful for Miss Amy (no big head my dear).

I purchased my new program and I am only entering people and data as they are fully sourced, no matter how tempting it gets to jump the fence early.  So, my name went first, followed by all the data off my birth certificate, and so on. If I do not have records to source a fact, then I am not entering the information yet. Instead, I use my "working tree" which is FTM 2010.

I like it this way. I feel more in control of the data on the tree and know that I can show how it got there. Thanks, Amy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy/History- Week #1 - New Years Memories

Did your family have any New Year's traditions?

Yes we do, and of course it centers around food. Don't so many traditions?  I cannot say when this special meal started, and ironically, after spending the day with part of my family on New Year's Day when I was asking a million questions about everything under the stars, I can't believe I never asked about the origins.

But this is what I do know:

My parents (actually my father) sold Wearever cookware for years before I was born and when I was very small. Actually he won an award one year for being the top salesman in the nation, but even today he just shrugs that off. He and my mother would load up the cookware and go to a person's home and cook them a meal in it, then Dad would go back the next day and cook breakfast in the Wearever for a second meal to show them how they could easily cook a meal on top of the stove with good cookware.

Now I can tell you that in my own household I have personally gone through 4 sets on non-stick cookware and too many skillets to name, but my parents are using that same set of Wearever and it still looks brand new.

Every year on new Year's Day we get together at their home for a meal of roast, cabbage, turnips, black-eyed peas (for luck), cooked raisins, steamed carrots, and my favorite- riced potatoes with gravy. Riced Potatoes are actually baked potatoes that have been put through a special collander that turns them into rice. The meal always ends with granny cake.

It's a good time to relax after all the craziness that came from Christmas, a chance to sit back and enjoy family and a still moment before the daily grind gets back in the way sending us all in so many different directions. 

Thank God for Wearever.

My Intentions for 2011

  After reviewing the successes and mis-steps from my 2010 Genealogy Goal Plan, I spent the past several days deciding what I would write on this blog as my 2011 Genealogy Plan, knowing that once it is out into the netherworld, reality must play a role.

I kew I didn't want to write a book or make too many goals that were beyond sanity, so I decided to change this up a bit, and am going to break it up into quarters. So, for the first part of the year, these are my goals:

- Scan as many of the photos and documents in immediate family members possessions as possible
- Catch up and stay current in my Pro-Gen class
- Continue to follow the recent leads on the McDaniel/Munsey side of my family
- Visit White County, Illinois and Ohio County, Kentucky

If my health will cooperate and the good Lord deems appropriate, in about 3 months I will come back with an update on this list and make another set of goals for the next 3 months of 2011.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Where Has The Time Gone?

One of the best aspects of genealogy (and the worst in honesty) is the fact that there is always one more bend in the road to take before stopping for the night, one more index to compare, just one more article to read, and so it goes...........  and has commenced in my life over the past several months.

I have learned that I can have fantastic weeks of being a blogger only to fail short then at scanning some of the slides from the 1960's that my mother has recently entrusted to me. Or that my organization soars as my completion of Pro-Gen assignments get behind. Rearranging my den/office to be a true office with desk, reference materials, and space to complete reports and research means that several boxes now sit in our living room screaming for some attention.  And on it goes......

I have taken the past couple of days to look back at the extensive list of goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2010, an ambitious list I must admit, but then as you can see that's the way I roll. Today I will look at the positives, my pats on the back. Tomorrow I will make a new plan.

-Joined several genealogical and historical organizations related to professional and personal skill building
- Significantly built up my genealogy library with not only reference material but I have also been lucky
   enough to come across a few rare books about the family as well
-I have made interviewing my parents a priority this year and carry a portable digital recorder in my purse at
 all times. You would be amazed at what can be done in 5 minutes. I also put the recorder down in front           of my plate at Thanksgiving to catch all the stories.
- My brother and I completed the DNA testing process on my father
- I have completed establishing the binder system for my records that stay at home, now knowing exactly
  where to find "X.s marriage" record if I have a copy.
- 1/2way through the process of completing the mini binders for my mother and myself to carry anywhere
- I did take my first class at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies and liked it (planning for more)
- I also have tried several of the workshops on FamilySearch (assisting with early writing, research analysis,
        and more)

I am particularly pleased with two areas of my goals for 2010:

Breaking through a brick wall that seemed impossible 6 months apart is crumbling under my feet and I am thrilled! Enoch McDaniel had parents, and so did his wife! Further information on this family will be shared in later posts, but just knowing they didn't just land on Earth is cause of celebration on this special day.

I also spent time focusing on the Raley line of the family, but there is much left to do. The reunion trip to St. Mary's County, Maryland for my mother, my daughter, and myself was special not in the actual reunion itself (newcomers had do some fending), but in the celebration of family and heritage and all that makes each of us who we are. There is much to learn of my Maryland roots, and Massachusetts, and.....

That's another day.