Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Don't Keep Quiet About Your Research

Tell everyone in your family you are researching your family history: after all, it’s their history, too! Santa brought a very special gift to me this Christmas. My first cousin once removed – my mother’s first cousin, knew I was doing research so …. He took it upon himself to re-visit the cemetery in Pennsylvania where so much of our family was buried. I’m sure I met him a long time ago but do not remember where or when but he remembered that I was doing research. He had visited the cemetery previously but the office was closed, the gravestones and property were in deplorable condition and we gave up ever finding more information on any of our relatives there.

Well, surprise! The former cemetery owners repurchased the property, re-opened the office, weeded and mowed, and righted the stones! Bill spent quite a bit of time getting all the plot records and even sketched out the plots. Then, the biggest thing – he sent the information to me. I now have 13 burial cards from Montrose Cemetery that I never had before and lost hope of ever seeing.

So – Merry Christmas to me!

I write this to let you know that you, too, may have a relative who still lives in the area of your mutual ancestors and might be willing to do a little leg work for you, too.

The other “take away” is that cemeteries change hands and what might have once been a lost cause can suddenly be a treasure trove of information. So don’t write off any avenue of research forever. It would be wonderful if the same thing would happen in Cobb Creek Cemetery in Philadelphia but I’m not hopeful. Just the same – I’ll keep checking.

Happy New Year and Happy Hunting!

(Regular weekly blogs will now resume.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday gift giving

Sorry for the posting delay but we were out of town visiting the kids! Arizona was gorgeous this time of year and we visited some amazing historical sites and walked back in time through an old (circa 1000 A.D. cliff dwelling.) I bet there were some stories there!

I wanted to share some gift giving ideas with you – both for other genealogists and your own family. First, many subscription sites have sales this time of year. Either the annual subscriptions are discounted or the subscription terms are extended. Now that the free access for the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is gone, if you are feeling particularly generous, how about giving a gift subscription to Ancestry.com? A six month US membership is $12.95 per month. You don’t have to give the whole world or even a whole year.

Worldvitalrecords.com (now a MyHeritage site) offers annual and monthly subscriptions for 89.99. The annual subscription includes free Family Tree Builder software CD. A month’s subscription is 16.25 so you don’t have to break the bank to give a month’s worth of searching before committing to a year. The 3 day trial is just not enough to figure out what databases you will want to use.

Fold3.com (now part of Ancestry.com) is 79.95 per year and includes the ability to upload your own information for sharing with other researchers. Fold3 refers to the third fold of a flag representing the veterans for the service and sacrifice.

Genealogy Bank is 69.95 for a year and has a lovely 30 day trial. This site is great for printed articles and has one of the most current SSDI’s I’ve seen.

Americanancestors.org (the old NEGHS.org) is great for those of us with New England, New York, and increasingly – just American Ancestors. They even have gift certificates!

OK – that’s enough for the websites, now onto what you can give from your own research. How about a family chart? It’s a little late to order the fancy ones but the office stores like FedEx office will print on large paper. We did a 30” by 6’ family tree roll for some relatives one year. The best thing you can do, though, is set the recipient as the “home” person before preparing the chart so the relationships are specific to that individual. I know that Family Tree Maker software accommodates this very well and won’t mess up your work. Just don’t forget to set it back before you start researching again.

You could also print some of the documents you have to make the family history come alive. If you’ve scanned photos into Picasa, then the movie and CD features can make the gift very special.

Have a great holiday season and Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We will always remember

For those of us in the United States, this is a memorable day. The attack on Pearl Harbor solidified the US’s involvement in World War II. This anniversary reminds me that our veterans and their spouses are getting old. If you have not taken the time to ask them where they were on Pearl Harbor Day – today’s the day. If you were alive for Pearl Harbor Day – it’s time to write down your remembrances.

Don’t forget that many served on the home front in volunteer capacities not just as enlisted personnel. Get the stories from the women! These are the stories we don’t read about. What jobs did the women hold until the men came home? How did this affect their lives and choices.

The Library of Congress has a Veteran’s History Project: http://www.loc.gov/vets/ for recording your stories. There are even forms and interview questions. Don’t wait. We are losing this opportunity. There are also Honor Flights from across the country to Washington, D.C. for veteran’s to visit the WWII memorial. I’ve read about some of the flights not being able to get enough WWII veterans and so they are filling the flights with Korean Conflict veterans. This is not to belittle the Korean Conflict service but to point out how precious the time is for the WWII stories.

If it were not for a stop by our home on his way to a reunion with his unit,  I never would have heard about my Uncle Jim’s two narrow escapes. The harrowing tale of being shot down behind enemy lines and living off raw rabbit meat for a month in a French cave might have died with him.

If I had not hung around my Dad while he was cleaning out desk drawers one day, I would never have seen and read (and since transcribed) his WWII strike journal which detailed each of his Air Corps missions. The patch below and photo were part of his collection. Dad - Clifford Ralston Beach Jr. is the young man on the left.

Enjoy your genealogy research but don’t forget to preserve the stories for future generations.

Happy Hunting!