Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Preserving Your Scrapbooks

As a genealogist and an archivist, I have seen scrapbooks of every shape and size and full of everything from newspaper clippings to very random ephemera.  If you have seen a scrapbook that is more than a decade or so old, you have probably also seen the problems that occur due to the acidity, overfilling and folding of large items.

Today I attended a workshop on preservation of scrapbooks presented by David Stokoe, conservation librarian at Syracuse University's Special Collections Research Center, and CLRC.

David discussed the multitude of items he has found in scrapbooks during his career as a librarian.  Everything from moss to ballet shoes, along with the usual paper items.  He said there is no such thing as a silver bullet in preservation, but there are many things that can help.

First of all, it is recommended you put the scrapbook into an archival safe box (purchased from an authorized archival supplier or made with archival-safe materials in a way shown here.).  This will keep the item in a safe horizontal position and also keep it all in one place.  What you do beyond that will depend on the value of the scrapbook, as well as how and how often it is used.

Genealogists who have scrapbooks made by their ancestors will consider these of high value.  However, these scrapbooks are probably not in high use compared to one at a research center.  David's overall recommendation was reformatting.  In the past this has included photocopying, microfilming or taking photographs of the scrapbook.  Today, it tends to mean digitizing.  Recently, genealogists have become fans of the Flip-Pal mobile scanner.  High on my list of items to buy, the Flip-Pal allows users to "stitch" together scans taken of an item into one image.  You can also use a regular scanner or digital camera to make a digital copy.

Another reformatting option is to take the items out of the scrapbook and put them into mylar (or other archival-type) sleeves.  You can then put these sleeves into a 3-ring binder and people can look through the scrapbook this way.  I highly recommend this idea if you have magnetic photo albums, as the plastic cover and adhesive are horrible for your photographs.

This was a fascinating workshop and I learned a lot!  I now have a long list of scrapbooks, both at work and at home, that I am going to work on preserving.  Let me know if you have any tips!



Monday, April 25, 2011

MLIS Monday: Library of the Living Dead

One of my listserv's had a link to Library of the Living Dead: Your Guide to Miller Library at McPherson College. I cannot even begin to say how impressed I am by this guide.  It is a fun and interesting way to get students to learn about the library.  Great job to the librarians at Miller Library!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

My mom used to sing this every Easter when my sister and I were little.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Wishing for the 1890 Census in NY?

The destroyed 1890 census is a bane of many genealogist's research.  Those of us with New York state ancestors in 40 counties (not Chenango, Columbia, Franklin, Fulton, Jefferson, Livingston, New York (the Bronx and Manhattan), Oneida, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Richmond, Schuyler, Seneca, St. Lawrence, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, Westchester, and Wyoming according to FamilySearch) are lucky - we have a state census that was taken in 1892.

Not only is this census available on microfilm, but it is now searchable with images for most counties at FamilySearch.  It may not have households differentiated or relationships listed, but it does have

  • Name

  • Gender

  • Age

  • Color

  • Country of birth

  • If citizen or alien

  • Occupation

One example in my research was trying to figure out if Maria Tross' husband was living in Buffalo when she immigrated with her children in 1884 from Germany.  There was no 1890 census for me to check, but when I learned about the 1892 state option, I looked there.  There was "Mary" with her two youngest children, but no Wenzel Tross to be found.  This made me want to check further into German records for his death prior to 1884.

If you have not checked the 1892 NY census for your ancestors, go to FamilySearch and check today!Tross 1890 Census

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How Do I Make Money in Genealogy?

My take on the fourth in a week-long series of posts at GeneaBloggers entitled Genea-Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money).

How Do You Make Money in Genealogy? – most readers here at GeneaBloggers and at my other sites know that I am a pretty open and transparent guy when it comes to disclosing my material relationships with other genealogy vendors and organizations. Well, I am willing to spell out what I currently do in the genealogy field to try and make a buck.  I’m not going to give exact dollar figures (because you will be greatly disappointed, believe me), but I will be upfront about some current projects.  I’m hoping my colleagues might consider doing the same.


Seriously, though:

I have recently begun accepting clients.  I do not advertise currently and tend to be found through APG.  After speaking with a person at the the NERGC conference from BCG I am rather determined to take more clients, as I have time.  I am also looking into just assisting people in Western and Central New York for some practice (namely friends and family).  My 3-5 year goal is to make enough money doing research to pay off my and my husbands student loans prior to our retirement...

I have a couple affiliate links, that I have not made any money on yet.  Maybe someday:-)  The main goal for these is to pay for hosting fees.

I would love to start lecturing at genealogy societies and conferences, which would help to pay all of the conferences I [want to] attend.

The one thing I am now making money with is as a contracting archivist.  This combines my degree and my genealogical studies (I assist patrons searching for their family as one job task).  This is providing me with a lot of experience and opportunities.  I look forward to continuing with this far into the future.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Genealogy-What Do You Mean It Isn't Free?: My Take

This is my response to the third in a week-long series of posts at GeneaBloggers entitled Genea-Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money).

What Do You Mean It Isn’t Free? – how do we as a community deal with the perception that everything – and I meaneverything – is free for the taking when it comes to genealogy. From commercial databases, to freely stealing content from a blog or website, to being incensed when a genealogist charges for a webinar or a syllabus.  This will be a no-holds barred looked at why certain perceptions exist in the genealogy community and how they must change in order for the industry to move forward in the 21st century.

I have always been taught that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  We get lucky in genealogy, with many things that appear free:, RAOGK, Legacy webinars, etc.

The problem with this is that none of these are actually free.  Someone, somewhere, is paying.  Legacy can host these webinars because of all the people who purchase their products; RAOGK volunteers are using their gas and time to help out fellow researchers; FamilySearch is part of the LDS church, and members help support it.

We need to treat genealogy like we do any other service and pay for services and items we want.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Careers in Genealogy-"Off the Chart" Thinking: My Take

This is the second in a week-long series of posts at GeneaBloggers that I giving my opinion on.

My bachelor's degree is in political science, but after graduation I started a career in retail management.  Though this wasn't my plan or what I planned to always do, it has taught me valuable skills.

When I began looking for a more permanent career, library science was recommended to me.  In May, I will join the large group of genealogists with an MLS.  Working in a library or archive will allow me to assist others with their genealogy and to bring history, in the form of primary source documents, to children.

I also am working toward doing what Thomas MacEntree calls the "Franken-career".  I would like to lecture, publish and work further with helping companies or genealogists market themselves through social media.  I also am interested in the idea of "curating".  I have never heard this idea before, but it is very appealing to me.  I love researching and trying new things and think I would enjoy disseminating them to fellow researchers.  I also would enjoy being in retail at expos and conferences.  I have more customer service experience than I know what to do this, so this would be a great job.

My dream combination genealogy and library job would be as genealogist (they call all of their librarians by this title) at the New England Historic Genealogy Society in Boston.  As they have begun promoting their New York collections, I keep hoping they will need a Western & Central New York specialist.  If so, I am ready!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Genealogy Blogging – For Fun or Profit?: My Take

This is my take on Thomas' series at GeneaBloggers entitled Genea-Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money).

Why is it just one or the other?  I find it fun to make a profit.  But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Thomas MacEntee, creator of, has brought to light a very timely and important topic this week.  For the next 5 days, I will be giving my take based on the topic he presents.

In every other blogging community I have followed, namely healthy living and mommy blogs, it is well known that if you become a top blogger you will be able to make a profit off of your blog.  Until recently, I had not seen the same happen with GeneaBloggers.

I do not have a problem with people making a profit off their blogs, although I do believe in disclosure statements and telling your readers that you are posting an affliate link.  It does get annoying when nearly every blog you read has the same giveaway/review.  It gets unethical, in my opinion, when bloggers review items positively that you know they do not like or normally support, just because it was free.

Upon graduation, I hope to have a more regular blogging schedule and expand my skill-set to become a more useful resource in the community and, eventually, leverage my skills to become a speaker, webinar giver, etc.  I hope to review books and projects (that I receive at not cost), host giveaways and become a blogger of honor or conference blogger.  Although I started doing this as just a fun, personal project, I now want to take it to the next level.  I do not believe all bloggers want to or should do the same and that that is okay.  It should not be an us-versus-them mentality, just that different people have different ideas and want to do different things, and we should respect each other for our choices, as long as they are being done in an ethical way.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gress Civil War Draft Registrations

[caption id="attachment_955" align="aligncenter" width="625" caption="Joseph & Michael Gress"]Draft Registration[/caption]

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, I have the newly-found Civil War Draft Registration of my great-great-great grandfather, Joseph Gress:

  • Residence:  Eden [Erie County, NY]

  • Name: Joseph Gress

  • Age 1st, July 1863:  22

  • White or colored: White

  • Profession, occupation or trade: Farmer

  • Married or unmarried: Unknown

  • Place of Birth: New York [sic: Germany]

  • Former Military Service: [Blank]

  • Remarks:  [Blank]

and Joseph's brother Michael:

  • Residence:  Eden [Erie County, NY]

  • Name: Michael Gress

  • Age 1st, July 1863:  25

  • White or colored: White

  • Profession, occupation or trade: Farmer

  • Married or unmarried: Married

  • Place of Birth: New York [sic: Germany]

  • Former Military Service: [Blank]

  • Remarks:  [Blank]

Source (Same for Michael, who is 1 line lower): "U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865," database and images, ( : accessed 14 Apr 2011), Joseph Gress, Class I, Congressional District 30, Erie County, New York; citing Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registrations, 1863-1865. NM-65, entry 172, 620 volumes. Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), Record Group 110. National Archives, Washington D.C.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

NERGC: Bringing the Civil War to Life through Library Programs & Curriculum Development

After a wonderful lunch sponsored by ProQuest, we moved on to presentation number 4 for Librarians’ & Teachers’ Day: “Bringing the Civil War to Life through Library Programs & Curriculum Development” by Donna E. Walcovy, Ph.D..  12 April 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and librarians, teachers and genealogists will be celebrating with a multitude of programing.  This was a great presentation.  Donna is a very exuberant speaker and brings cool props!

The presentation begun with Donna showing us a sword from Civil War that began to her cousin, President William McKinley – too cool!  She then told a story of buying one neighborhood boy a Civil War Union outfit and play guns.  She then bought the boy across the street the same items for Confederates.  The boys would then play Civil War in the back yard.  What a great way to get children interested in history.

How else can we introduce children and adults to history?  Journals from the time, Civil War paper dolls, CDs and books with songs from the era, create guides to the Civil War in your area (such as road trips or walking tours), literature, computer games, “You Are There: The Fall of Fort Sumter” CD, and, of course, articles in magazines and websites (particularly the NPS site & the Smithsonian).

Imagine being a young girl reading about the Civil War.  Would you rather read a boring text book about the War or a book such as An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, alias Pvt. Lyons Wakeman, 153rd Regiment, New York State Volunteers, 1862-1864, about a woman who dressed up as a man and fought in the Civil War?  I know what I would prefer, even to this day.  This is one way to “transport” students back to the time period and showing the relationship between what happened in history and the student.

One recommendation which continues on the theme of access is to let Eagle Scouts use your materials for their projects.

Looking for gravesites of your Civil War soldier?  Check Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War gravesite registration.

The presentation ended with my winning the cds” Military Records: Civil War Service Records”.  It was a lucky weekend for me!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

NERGC: Strategies for Making Archival Records Accessible to Genealogists

On Thursday at NERGC I attended the Librarians' and Teachers' Day.  These types of events are always very useful to me both as a genealogist and as a librarian/archivist.  It also counted as 5 hours of continuing education credit.

The first session was Kathleen M. Reilly of the Berkshire Athenaeum's Local History Department, discussing Strategies for Making Archival Records Accessible to Genealogists.

Accessibility is one of my main issues as a librarian and archivist.  As a researcher in Western New York, I understand the problems faced by low to no accessibility of records.

The Berkshire Athenaeum's Local History Department was able to make their records easily accessible during a recent remodel.  One of my favorite changes they made were putting all vital records together, rather than by location.  Considering the constant change of towns and counties, this makes research much easier.  They also have movable stacks and put the vital records and cemetery records on the ends, so that they are always available.

The overall message was to find ways to preserve your collection while making it more available.  This includes microfilming many of their collections, in addition to some digitization.  They also photocopy items such as scrapbooks, to make them available for use.  There are also many indexing projects and finding aid creation in progress.

New England Regional Genealogical Conference

I attended NERGC in Springfield, MA this weekend.  Unfortunately, my hotel did not have internet, so I have been slowly writing up posts on all the session I attended.

I cannot say enough about how wonderful the conference was.  This was my first genealogical conference and if others are this amazing, I picked the right hobby.  I was planning on attending the next conference (in 2013) even before this one was finished.  I was lucky enough to come home to an email that I won a free registration for 2013!  I cannot wait!  My biggest problem with the conference is that it's not annual.

The expo was a little bit too great... I ended up buying 4 books (all of which I, of course, needed;-)).  It was fun to see all the societies and genealogical resource companies.  Since I do not have ancestors from New England, many of these did not apply to me, but I have enjoyed reading through the society newsletters that were given away.

I will post one or two session/workshop summaries a day for the next couple weeks, linking back to this original post.

Workshops attended:

Thursday: Librarians' and Teachers' Day


  • Two Chairs & A Pair of Spectacles: Discovering Your Ancestors in Probate Records: Marian Pierre-Louis

  • The Road Less Traveled: Polish & Ukrainian Research: Jonathon Shea, AG & Matthew Bielawa

  • Business Secrets of Professional Genealogists: We're Human Too!: Laura Prescott

  • Erie Canal Genealogy: The Peopling of Upstate NY & the Midwest: John Philip Colletta, Ph.D.

  • Effective Editing & Writing: Pamela Boyer Saytr, CG, CGL


  • Using Zotero, the Free Citation & Note Manager: Connie Reik

  • Italian Clusters & Chains for Genealogical Success: Shellee A. Morehead, Ph.D.

  • Where is Great-Grandma Hiding? Finding Forgotten Females: Sandra MacLean Clunies, CG

  • Workshop: Solving Genealogy Problems Using Deeds: An Advanced Deeds Workshop: Carol McCoy, Ph.D.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

NERGC: Kids & Collections: Making Meaningful Connections

Liz Shapiro, executive director of the Sharon Historical Society, was the second speaker for the NERGC Librarians’ and Teachers’ Day.  Her presentation was titles “Kids & Collections: Making Meaningful Connections”.  This was an awesome presentation and if you get the chance to here Ms. Shapiro present, I highly recommend it.

Our of our jobs, as librarians,  is to figure out what we have, how it can help teachers and bring families in.  We have to look for that “cool” factor.  Her motto is “Making it real!”

Making  your collection accessible:

  • Their website is “content-rich, designed to emphasize the sharing of our historic collections, including documents, photographs, and other archival materials.”

  • They have great social media (in my opinion): Flickr, wordpress, twitter, fb, google maps, youtube:

  • All cemetery info online.

Create programs, both in school and on-site for children/families.  In school “Goal: to connect students in a personal way with their town.”  On-site “Goal: What you can learn from the “real thing”.  Reach out to home schoolers and  home school networks.  Creating these partnerships doesn’t have to be much more than “show-and-tell” and the give new uses for non-book collections (maps, photographs, primary documents, local history collections, etc.).  In relation to students they:

  • Create programs with teachers/school media specialists.  They go in to the schools and do these for free as part of their civic responsibility.

  • Use glogster, to make posters.

  • Use online primary documents.  By using primary source documents, the students become the scholars, come to their own conclusions.

  • Train kids on proper tombstone cleaning & bring into cemeteries.

  • “With very little prep work, and NO money, the ability to enhance a student’s learning, connect them to their communities in new ways, and build a better citizen for life, are at your fingertips.”  Become the local Mister Roger’s.  Teach children who their neighbors are.  We aren’t doing a good job at this, but should be.

Other cool projects:

  • Local art gallery – ask for 20% donation of items sold.  Only $20 for 4-color postcards (price to artist).  Creates steady stream of changing exhibits.

  • “Culture café” with wireless access, couches, meetings, can eat, hands-on history room for kids.

  • People can sign up to do their own exhibit with the HS collections.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Report Assessment

Man with Rubric

Assessment has been the theme of the past few weeks of my life.  Both in my ProGen group, in one my classes at school (I got to create a rubric for a project) and at work at Starbucks (where my store got a 98:-D).  One of the most important parts of any plan, but often the most overlooked.

The most thought of forms of assessment tend to be surveys and focus groups.  The best way to assess how well something worked is by using a rubric, which gives concrete standards along a scale.

If you are like me, you often wonder whether your genealogy reports are up to the proper standards.  Even if you use reference books, articles or websites while writing them, it can still be hard to tell if you have the correct information in it.  For our March ProGen assignment, we used the BCG rubric to edit everyones research report from the prior month.

Used for genealogists applying for certification, this rubric gives standards for nearly every genealogy report you could need.  It is very simple, but you have to remember, it is very black-and-white.  There is no grey.  Either you have the indicator or you do not.

Let's look at an example.  You have written a research report for a client or yourself.  Looking at indicator "CR6", what is the quality of the sources you used?  BCG wants you to have mainly used original sources and primary information.  Did you?  If yes, then you meet the standards.  If you used some of these sources, you partially met expectations.  If your sources are derivative, with secondary information, you did not meet the standard.  If you can't even tell what type of sources you used, or didn't use any, you need to go back to your genealogy reference books and learn more about sourcing your work and the importance there-of.

I was pleased to see I had hit most of the standards and now that I have this rubric, I believe all of my reports will be meeting or exceeding standards in the future.

Do your research reports meet the BCG standards?  Is there another set of standards you use instead?

Monday, April 4, 2011

MSLIS Monday: A Library Job!

I have recently accepted a job as a consulting archivist for the Jewish Heritage Center of Central New York.  Though part-time, it has, and will continue to, afford me an opportunity to use my archival training to organize their archives.  I will also be able to develop the collection and use my genealogical skills to assist visitors with their research.

It is tremendously exciting!  It is also hard to believe that in just over 1 month I will officially be a librarian!

In other news, I will be attending Librarian Day at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference Thursday and attending the rest of the conference over the weekend.  Will anyone else be attending?

Back to Basic: July

July went quick! GRIP  went virtual! I attended (most) of the sessions in Documentation and then continued my citation work with my ProGen a...