Thursday, February 4, 2016

Got British Roots? These two webinars might interest you.

I'm using this time while my coffee is brewing to share about some British Isles "webinars" I came across this week and the book (above) that I finally received yesterday.

Tonight from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. EST, the Ontario Genealogical Society is hosting a free webinar presented by Dr. Janet Few entitled "A to Z of Family History: an alphabetical journey through some less well known sources for British Family History." According to Gail Dever, who's blog post alerted me to the webinar, live attendance is limited to the first 100 registrants. You can register here.

Many Geneabloggers have already posted the schedule of talks that will be streaming from RootsTech. You can find it here. One in particular caught my eye, "My Ancestors are from Britain - What do I do Next?", taking place from 6:30-7:30 p.m. EST tomorrow (4:30-5:30 p.m. MST). I will definitely be glued to my computer for both of these presentations.

And finally, a few weeks ago I stumbled onto the website for Holy Trinity Church in Coleford, England. This is the church where I believe my great-grandfather, Arthur William Matthews, was baptized. A book about the history of the church was advertised on the site. Luckily for me, it was also available on Amazon and it arrived yesterday. It doesn't contain any information about my family specifically, of course, but it is a fantastic resource for understanding the time in which his family lived. I'll share more about that this weekend. In the meantime, my coffee is ready and it's time to get to work.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Searching for Mary Matthews - Family Search Wiki

This is my current approach to finding the marriage record of my 2nd great-grandparents, Mark & Mary Matthews, parents of Arthur William, father of Howard, father of Stephen, father of Yours Truly. Following a suggestion from a fellow-member of the Somerset - Ancestors and Genealogy group on Facebook, I am starting my search for Mary by looking for Mark & Mary's marriage record, hoping I will be able to ascertain that it is THEIR marriage record and that it will contain her maiden name.

There seem to be an overwhelming number of sites to find indexed parish and civil records for England. And I'm still not sure if all of the records I'm looking for have been indexed at all. So, I've come to THE WIKI (cue the big booming voice with echo), the learning center if you will, of Family Search which DearMYRTLE first introduced to me and many other beginner researchers in her Beginning Genealogy Study Group of last year.

I am making my way methodically down the list of sites to search, and in-line with my new practices as a result of the Genealogy Do-Over, I am tracking each result in Evernote, and making notes for myself about where I left off and where to pick up when I sit down again to find Mark & Mary's marriage information.

So far, nothing new. But the search continues...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Genealogy Do-Over - Month 2 Preview

Wow, this year is flying by already! It's February 1st and I'm still adjusting to writing and typing 2016.

This month's topics for the Do-Over are Establishing Base Practices and Setting Research Goals.

Establishing Base Practices

Back in cycle 2, I compiled a list of "Best" Practices which you can find in one of the tabs above as well as in these two posts: Part I and Part II.

Setting Research Goals

I set out some fairly specific research goals for this year, but those goals can be broken down into smaller parts for planning purposes and so that I can have that all-important plan each time I sit down to do research. I'll be working on that this week.  I've been using Thomas MacEntee's time management spreadsheet at work and I really like his system. It's simple and easy to adopt but it works. You can see his presentation here and below is part of my genealogy spreadsheet.

Click for larger image

I've also been reading Kerry Scott's How to Use Evernote for Genealogy. I'm hoping I'll have time to finish it by the end of the long weekend for President's Day and then really get into using it more and deciding how I will use it going forward.

Blog posts are something else I would like to add to my planning, but I haven't made any progress for February so far. So, I'll be back, but I don't know when!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Finding Mary's Maiden Name - Flying Blind

I knew that a common last name like Matthews would eventually give me problems.  Given names like Mark and Mary don't help matters much.

Mark and Mary are my 2nd-great grandparents, father and mother of Arthur William Matthews who was born in Coleford, Somerset, England, immigrated to the United States and settled in Pittston, PA.

Searching for information about Arthur hasn't been difficult in the U.S. - except for passenger lists - because I have a lot more information about him.  I have his self-proclaimed date of birth, his address, occupations, avocation, wife's full names, childrens' names and burial information and that was all passed down from my grandfather.

But searching for Arthur's parents and siblings, that is another matter all together. While Arthur left behind some good leads, he didn't give me too much to go on. He did leave this, written about 12 weeks before his death in 1915.

This is a photocopy since the original wouldn't fit in my scanner.

Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful to have it, but it is just a good lead, not solid evidence of anything. For starters, Arthur's death certificate tells us that he died of cerebral meningitis and more than one death notice says he had been in failing health for a some time. At seventy-one years old and in questionable health, having not seen his family for fifty years, I can't assume that any of the information is correct.

And, of course, there is the common name issue. Mary. Why not Loveday or Hepzibah or even Miriam? That would certainly make things easier!

I'm really flying blind here. Parish registers, Bishop's Transcripts, indexes instead of images. Some records are indexed, some are not. And the originals are not exactly a road trip away.

I was grateful for Gail Dever's blog post this week showcasing this week's Family Search British Isles webinars. I was able to listen to Monday's (although there was no sound for the first 15 minutes) and read the handouts for Tuesday and Wednesday and I should be able to listen to today's and tomorrow's. I was also psyched to see this morning that one of the classes being streamed live and FREE from RootsTech is "My Ancestors are from Britain-What Do I Do Next?" next Friday evening (my time). Hopefully something will help me here.

Even researching names like Matthews and Smith, I have been very lucky up until now that I was very certain that records I was finding pertained to the people I was looking for. This uncertainty in searching for Matthews in England is new territory for me and I'll admit that is is a bit frustrating to feel like a beginner again. So if you have any advice, I would be eternally grateful and if you're as lost doing British research as I feel, stay tuned, hopefully we'll learn together!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Genealogy Do-Over-Preparing to Research

Looking back at my Genealogy Do-Over posts from last year, it seems that I sort of merged my Base Practices and Guidelines with my Research Preparation. So, while I have some important practices outlined to guide me as I research,

This hangs over the "computer desk" where I research.
I didn't fully address the preparation for researching. Things like knowing where you left off last time, or exactly what your goals are for a particular session.

I need to work in a tidy environment. If my workspace is cluttered, so is my brain, that's just the way my brain is wired. I must make sure that my desk and surrounding area are ready for work.

In Evernote I am going to make a notebook for each of my 2016 research goals like learning more about researching English records and finally finishing my slide scanning project. One of the notes I will keep in each notebook will be to remind myself where I left off at the end of the previous session and were I wanted to begin in the next. I will also keep notes of progress and any thoughts that I have while I am learning or researching or scanning. That deadly phrase, "I'll remember," has to be something I forget.

And speaking of Evernote, before I watch another Hangout or do another search in Ancestry, it would be a great idea to spend some more time learning my way around Evernote. If all I ever do with Evernote is keep track of information I know I will use in the future but that would be a BSO today, it will be well worth it, but I'd like to know as much about it as possible.

Another big one is to make sure I have adequate time for whatever I plan to do when I sit down. Whether it be an hour for one of DearMYRTLE's hangouts (or 90 minutes for Monday's with MYRT), or to make sure that my scanning time includes indexing, recording metadata, storing the slides, backing up the scans, and taking good notes for the next session.

This list looks a bit short but it feels like a good start and I can always add things as I go. I have a feeling that my next post will be from inside a couple of feet of snow and might have something to do with Evernote.

Stay warm and safe out there!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Scanning Dad's Slides - Dust Removal

I believe that I have now scanned all of Dad's slides at least once.  You would think that would mean I was done, right? Unfortunately, when my Epson scanner (which I love, by the way) arrived without a manual and I was unable to find one online, I just dove right in without enough experimentation, which is my way. As a result, I will be rescanning most of those slides this year.

One of the things that I really should have learned about right away was the dust removal tool. Slides that are anywhere from thirty to sixty-seven years old have collected a lot of really fine dust and the fifteen carousels sitting in my dad's basement for who knows how long were no exception.

When you scan anything in my Epson v370, you start with a preview scan. This lets you size your image and you can see there in the preview what your scan will look like if you color correct and sharpen your image. So when I checked off that box for the dust removal tool, I expected that I would see the dust disappear in the preview. When I didn't see that change, I made the mistake of assuming that the tool didn't work. Actually, the issue was that I didn't understand how the tool works.

When the tool "failed" I attempted to remove the dust from the slides before scanning with a dusting tool that came with my first slide scanner. Unfortunately, since my slides are all in frames, all this did was move the dust around. As my frustration grew and I finally did more Google searches to see what other people might be doing, I learned that dust removal tools work by the way they shine the light through the dust. That explained why I wasn't seeing the results in the preview. When I FINALLY did an actual scan with the dust removal tool on, I was amazed at the results. Almost no dust remained on the final image!

So, lesson learned. BEFORE you invest hours and hours doing anything, make sure that you are happy with the process and results.

At least I can say with this last carousel, that I have finally settled on a process for my scanning, labeling, storing and backing-up that will remain in place as I rescan all those other slides.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - More 2016 Goals

Yesterday's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun prompt from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings fits right in with my last posts about goals for 2016. Randy asks about education plans for this year.

The Olin Library at Wesleyan University
taken by my father in 1955.
1) What are your genealogy education plans for 2016?  Local society meetings or seminars?  Regional or national conferences?  Weeklong institutes?  Genealogy cruises?  Podcasts?  YouTube Videos?  Webinars or Hangouts On Air?  Magazines?  Websites?  Blogs?

2)  How much time do you invest in Genealogy Education?  Why do you do it?

3)  Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

My genealogy education plans for 2016 are based on my research goals for the year. Two of my stated genealogy goals for this year are actually about education; to learn more about researching English records and to learn more about researching Swedish records in order to extend my English and Swedish lines and confirm information that I already have.

DearMYRTLE did some brilliant Google+ Hangout/Webinar series last year. Right now I am catching up on the "Tracing Immigrant Origins Study Group".

Watching her earlier series, "Beginning Genealogy Study Group" taught me about the educational tools available at Family Search, so I will be using those as well.

I also have a membership to Legacy Family Tree Webinars. There are some webinars from 2015 about researching Swedish genealogy that I plan to listen to and I'll have a look through their library for other helpful topics.

I'm not sure how many local meetings I'll be attending this year. It seems that the Irish Family History Forum hasn't posted their calendar for 2016 yet, so I'll have to incorporate those as they come.

And of course there are the many blogs that I read on a daily basis. I've been adding more and more to my feedly account this year, mostly from posts at Geneabloggers.

I'm not sure how much time I invest in Genealogy Education. It varies from month to month but has also increased quite a bit from when I first started. I do know this, though, without genealogy education I'm not going to get much farther along in my tree. Digital records are the tip of the iceberg, and records pertaining to anyone's family can be found in little-known places, so education will always be a very important part of my research if it is to be successful.
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