Monday, August 22, 2011

Resources for Genealogists and Family Historians

Over on Genea-Musings, Randy Seaver has posted Comments on the 1940 U.S. Census RFQ and SOW.* What this means is that the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is looking for bids on the work of indexing the 1940 U.S. Census.

Near the bottom of the post, Randy Seaver offers his opinion regarding free access to these records, and the agreements between the NARA and various commercial sites. In this context, he stated, 
I think that NARA will eventually host the census on its own site, with one of the name indexes available from some provider for use in a NARA facility.  That's the type of agreement they made with,,, etc. to permit indexing of other NARA databases they are free to access in a NARA facility.

It was this mention that made me realize that I may not be taking full advantage of the NARA's free resources. A quick check of the NARA's site turned up Resources for Genealogists and Family Historians, which provides a wealth of online resources.

While on the NARA site, I also learned that my belief that I'd have to go to Washington, DC to access these records may have been incorrect, since they have a number of regional sites around the country; not all of these sites offer the same resources, so if you are planning a visit to one of the regional centers, make sure the records you need are available there.

I live in Tucson, so the nearest NARA site for me is the National Archives at Riverside, CA (Pacific Region), approximately 440 miles from my home. The NARA reports:
We hold historically valuable materials created and collected by Federal agencies and courts in Arizona, southern California, and Clark County, Nevada. These records constitute a major resource for the study of Native American history, Naval history, westward migration, Asian immigration, civil rights, and other subjects.
Since most of my recent ancestors are from the eastern half of the US (my dad was born in Florida, and my mom in Ohio), this doesn't help me much. However, my husband does have some ancestors who lived in these areas. So, if I plan a trip to this location, I'll be focusing on my husband's family.

Like my parents, my dad's parents are from distinctly different regions. For my dad's mother's line (Herrington), the National Archives at Atlanta will be most useful, as most of her close ancestors were from the South. My dad's father was born in Pennsylvania, so to follow his line, I'll have to head north to the NARA's Mid Atlantic Region (Center City Philadelphia), where records for Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia are maintained. My mother's father (Rote) was also born in Pennsylvania, so while I'm there I can try to track down more information about him. Her mother (Craun), however, was born in Indiana, so to track down this branch, I'll have to head over to the Regional Archives for NARA's Great Lakes Region, which are housed in Chicago, Illinois.** Great! Although I was born in Chicago, my parents left when I was a baby and I've wanted to visit for as long as I can remember.

* RFQ = Request for quote; SOW = Statement of Work
** Lines referenced: LLOYD, HERRINGTON, ROTE, CRAUN

Monday, August 15, 2011

Genealogy Links

This weekend, I've come across a number of genealogy links, as a result of my Google+ account.

A number of Google+-specific websites have sprung up since the Google+ service became available, among them Google+ for Genealogists. In addition, at least a few notable genealogists are on Google+:
I'm sure there are more, but those are the ones I'm specifically aware of.

I love the Genealogy Software Reviews site. There's a short description of each software product, plus a rating system powered by users.

What fun to discover the GenealogyInTime website. This is an online magazine offering free articles. You can sign up to receive their free, weekly email newsletter, which lists all the new offerings of the week; the resources page offers some great resources; and the Genealogy Twitter Reader allows you to follow genealogy tweets.

The British genealogy site GenesReunited has added family history articles to their offerings, and launched a new Facebook quiz app, designed to help you discover which of several historical periods you are best suited for.

There are many factors that contribute to our health and well-being, as well as to the health problems we may encounter throughout our lives. The answer to the old Nature vs. Nurture questions is both! You can help make trips to your physician's office easier, and keep track of important medical information about you and your family by storing your healthcare data online. The article "Discovering a Family Health History Tool – A Summer Journey" on the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) blog recommends the My Family Health Portrait, offered by the Surgeon General’s office, to help you create a record of your family's health, which you can store on your computer. The My Family Health Portrait offers integration with Microsoft HealthVault. I've tried them both out; My Family Health Portrait is simple to use, but is limited in the health conditions covered and offers fewer features than Microsoft HealthVault. Microsoft HealthVault, on the other hand, encourages you to enroll in a number of third-party programs, which can be seen as either a bonus, or an annoyance.

Published in 2005, but still quite interesting (and new for me), the New York Times' "Geographic Society Is Seeking a Genealogy of Humankind" article, by Nicholas Wade, describes a joint project by the National Geographic Society and IBM to "reconstruct a genealogy of the world's populations and the migration paths of early humans from their ancestral homeland in Africa."

One last resource is an Australian site,, where you can either search for, register, or both, the surnames for which you are searching. Once a surname has been entered, any search performed for that surname through the website will automatically create an email, so you can contact others who are also researching that name. If the surname(s) for which you are looking are extremely common, this might not be the site for you, but it seems likely to be helpful for uncommon names.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Few Things About My Cousin's Crafty Daughter

My favorite cousin and I have been having fun catching up on things. In the process, I learned that her daughter has a blog, My Crafty Condition, on which she recently posted A Few Things About Me. Being a bit behind in my own posts here, I thought I'd share her post, and add a few things about myself, mostly following her lead.

  1. I don't think I've got the same mole that my cousin and her kids share.
  2. My belly button is also an innie. So much so, that when I was pregnant it never turned inside out, as so many women's do.
  3. I got my first pair of glasses when I was ten, shortly after complaining that sunlight gave me headaches.
  4. In high school, I wasn't all that fond of history classes, although I had enjoyed reading historical novels since elementary school (I also read mystery, fantasy, and science fiction novels). So far as I was concerned, my teachers and textbooks took entirely the wrong approach by focusing on names, dates, countries, and trends, instead of what it was actually like to live in past times and places.
  5. I don't remember ever getting detention; although I could be wrong about that. I do remember that when I was in either fourth or sixth grade, I was nearly sent to the principal's office for insisting that there was, too, such a thing as negative numbers.
  6. My favorite girl scout cookies are the mint chocolate kind.
  7. Whenever I can get away with it, which is most of the time in the casual desert Southwest, I wear sandals that I can just slip on. When I do have to wear real shoes, I think I put my socks on first, then my shoes.
  8. Aside from my husband and our kids, my nearest family (excluding relatives I've never met) is slightly over 320 miles away, and most of my family is thousands of miles away. When I was a kid, my parents used to take me and my brothers to Florida nearly every year, but I haven't been able to manage that. I miss seeing my cousins.
  9. When I was a kid, everybody called me Pam, and I hated my name. When I was in my late teens or early twenties, I figured out that it wasn't my name, but my nickname that I disliked, and I've gone by Pamela, ever since. I never had a nickname until I met my current husband and he took me to meet his lama (my husband practices Tibetan Buddhism) and his teacher said that my name Pamela, was the same as the Tibetan name, Pemala, which is the diminutive of Pema, and means lotus. Ever since, Pema has been my husband's nickname for me.
  10. When my children were babies, I used to dance around the living room with one in my arms. They're too big, now, and I don't dance nearly enough.
  11. When I was in college, I joined a belly dance club for the exercise, only to have my teacher and classmates talk me into making a costume and dancing with them in public. We danced on campus and at local festivals. After doing something like that, any fears I might once have had of dancing in public are a thing of the past.
  12. I'm way too clumsy to even consider getting onto a treadmill while wearing heels.
  13. I used to wear heels, even though I knew they were bad for my feet; my favorite pair of heels were a pair that had once been my mother's. Now, I usually wear flat-soled shoes, Birkenstocks, or sandals with a heel of less than 1/2 inch. My feet insist on it.
  14. It takes about half a glass of wine for me to start feeling the effects of the alcohol, so I rarely drink more than a single glass. I love sweet drinks, and I'm usually just as happy with a non-alcoholic alternative; for example, I'll usually drink a "nada-colada," instead of a piƱa colada.
  15. I never liked horror movies and used to avoid anything that was likely to have gore in it. Even the scene at the beginning of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country turned my stomach, once I realized that those pink/lavender blobs were actually Klingon blood. Strangely, I didn't have the same issue with reading gory scenes. However, since becoming hooked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and then its spin-off Angel, my tolerance has increased to something that resembles that of normal people.