Sunday, July 30, 2017

Small, Small World


Disney is right - it's a small world after all!  Just back from my travels through the jungles of Central America with a family member and the similarities I've encountered were quite interesting.

First stop was Grand Cayman; our driver gave us historical insights as he took us around the island.  The cemeteries, above ground, reminded my of New Orleans.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out if you can't go down you go up!  The colorful island flowers left on graves was a custom that I've found everywhere.  It's nice to see the commonality of remembering our ancestors.

Next we visited Honduras which reminded me of the West Tampa neighborhood.  At the beach we met a local who told us about his educational journey from the island to the mainland for high school.  He received a technical degree in air conditioning but was unable to find work so he returned to his birth island.  Sure, wars, religious persecution, natural disasters and limited marriage opportunity influence migration but I've found with my own ancestors, it was mostly the desire to find work that created wanderlust.  I truly believe that Maslow should have put work as a basic need on his hierarchy.  We, as genealogists, need to keep in mind occupation as an important factor for movement.

I love Belize!  Any country that only has 5 working stoplights  and people with a warm and funny attitude is my kind of place.  It was in the jungle, however, where I met 3 guides that shared their love of genealogy.  All had had their DNA done.  Two were 100% Mayan and one was 1/3 Mayan, Spanish and African.  In a remote jungle would be the last place on earth I think I would be talking DNA with someone I met but well, it happened.  Their genealogy is oral which is probably wise since we all know what happens when computers crash. In their case, there isn't electricity close.  I wish I could have the capacity to remember my maternal and paternal lines as well as they do.

Our last stop was an adventure at Tulum, Mexico and spending half a day on Mayan land.  We had authentic lunches in both Belize and in Mexico and I had to laugh at the staple similarities - chicken, beans, rice, and fruit with slight variations in preparation - different seasonings.  When I came back and spoke with family, friends and colleagues I got similar comments which applies to my own family.  If your grandmother was known for a specific dish and your mom and you tried repeatedly to replicate it with no success, well, that seems to be a worldwide commonality.  I cannot for the life of me make my mother's flaky apple turnovers.  She came up with her recipe because she couldn't make her mother's to die for apple strudel.  A friend told me she has given up making her mom's fruit iced tea because she can't get it right, even with her mom standing over her.  The patient guide in Belize gave me the recipe but I bet when I make it, it will not taste as delicious.  Guess I'm just going to have to go back!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Genealogical Kindness Needed


Seriously, folks, I've had my fill this week of dealing with difficult people.  IMHO, life's too short for bad manners.

I have a very large online public tree on several sites.  The reason it's large is because I've done surname studies over the last 20+ years for several lines with unique names - Duer, Harbaugh and Leininger.  Taking the last family history book published, that would be 1947 for the Harbaughs and 1973 for the Leiningers, I've add all the info into the tree from those sources and then tried to prove the info was correct by adding additional citations.  I then tried to update the original works going forward so that family could reconnect.  The Duer information was unpublished; I received it from a family historian about 2010.

The gateway ancestor's for all of these lines died in the 19th century or earlier so some of those included in the tree are far removed from my direct line.  I don't personally know these people.  I made the tree public to help reconnect and aid in correcting any errors.

Three times this week I have heard from distant relatives and the comments/emails were rude.  One woman told me my tree was confusing her.  I offered to help but needed to know what was confusing about it.  She said I had no pictures for a person she was interested in.  Huh?  I understand visual learning but really, you're complaining because there was no picture.

Later that day, someone posted a comment that they were sure I was wrong about a gateway ancestor because they had their Y-DNA done.  I responded to please share and I'd be happy to look further.  No response.  I wouldn't have been concerned if the individual had emailed me privately but to post a comment and then not respond when someone is willing to check further is wrong.

That evening, I hit the trifecta when someone commented on another line that he was certain "you must have made this up."  I was taken aback.  Did you not look at the citations?  Did you not see my comment that mentioned I concurred with other researchers that it was possible two brothers were confused so I included both names as the possible father?

 The old adage we can choose our friends but not our relatives applies here!  That last comment ticked me off so much that I considered making my tree private.  I haven't done so because I think the good outweighs the few thoughtless individuals.

Thanks, dear readers, for reading my rant.  Please help me spread genealogical kindness this week.  It's sorely needed.

I will be taking a much needed vacation so will not have a blog post until I return the end of July.




Sunday, July 9, 2017

Artifacts on eBay - A Must Read


I recently read a fascinating story in The Weekly Genealogist, the online edition published by AmericanAncestors.org about stolen artifacts being sold on eBay.  The blog, Rare Colonial Documents Found on eBay, originally published by the Smithsonian, is a must read if you search for documents on eBay as I do.

Although I knew that each state has laws regarding record retention, it never occurred to me to search them when I discovered something that just wasn't quite right.  I assumed (ahem, wrongly!) that the document must not be an original or had been disposed by the government and some nice person saved it from a dumpster.

I discovered my several times great grandfather's indenture records on eBay a few years ago.  There were other individuals listed on what appeared to be a court ledger page.  The price was steep and I didn't buy it.  I did cite where and when I found it and using the snipping tool, saved a picture of it.  The seller was overseas and it never dawned on me to report him/her. Now I know better.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Goodbye, FHL Microfilm Rental!


So another technology bites the dust...

If you haven't seen the latest news about renting microfilm for use at local Family History Libraries, then you need to check out this link NOW.

I don't rent as much as I used to because the records for the areas where I do the most research are online at FamilySearch or it just never will be and I've had to rely on methods other than microfilm.  My last film request was in March and I've been going through my pending projects  to see if there's any films I'll need soon. Of course, I can't predict the need of the next Client.  Genealogy Murphy's Law will result in a new Client meeting on September 1st for a microfilm need that I wouldn't be able to obtain.

My advice if you're planning to rent is don't delay - you've only got 2 months left and  most likely will be a flurry of activity on the shipping side.  After you get the email from Salt Lake that your films have shipped, make a note to call your local library a few days later to verify the films have been received.

A colleague has concerns that not everything will be available online due to legal agreements previously made with the record holders.  That means, waiting patiently until 2020 will still not allow you to view the films online.  In those cases, you'll have to either travel to Salt Lake or hire someone local to do a look up for you because those films will not be shipped locally any longer.  If your research is extensive and you're on a budget, it would probably be best for you to do the research in person.  My favorite time to go is late winter into early spring as it's not so busy.  I'm thinking I may skip the NGS Conference next year and travel to Salt Lake instead.

If you can't make a trip and need to hire someone, I'd highly recommend asking your local genealogical society for referrals.  If they haven't used anyone, then check out the Association of Professional Genealogist's site.  APG members sign an ethics agreement and in the unlikely event your have a problem, you can reach out to APG for assistance.

I have such mixed emotions about the end of microfilm.  I'm not sure what my attachment is; I sure didn't shed a tear when the world moved from Beta, 8 tracks, my Garmond GPS, or hardwired phones.  Maybe it's because I have so many memories of so many places and so many finds that make me a tad sad about the demise.  Perhaps it's becoming one with the record in a dimly lit room and the comforting whirring sound of the machine as I rewind it speedily.  I'll miss sharing in a happy dance when the stranger sitting next to me makes a phenomenal find.

Of course, there's so many reasons why this move is a good thing.  It's just, well, like the old song says, "Breaking up is hard to do..."  RIP Microfilm Distribution.  1859* - 31 Aug 2017.

*Based on the first patent issued to Rene Dagron