Downsizing (Part 1) - Getting the Process Rolling

Downsizing (Part 1) - Getting the Process Rolling

It’s a frequent topic of magazine and blog articles, downsizing. Whether you need to downsize to move to a smaller house, to make more room in your current home, or just to be better organized, chances are downsizing is something that has crossed your mind.

It’s also crossed mine as I’m currently in the middle of a large downsizing project. In my opinion, those countless articles about downsizing aren't as applicable to genealogists. I think downsizing is different for the keepers of the family history “stuff." Why? Because our homes are family archives with original documents, photographs, and irreplaceable heirlooms. It’s not about whether we should toss out clothes we haven’t worn in a year. We are talking about our personal belongings plus items that document our family history. For the genealogy-related items, we must carefully consider how to organize these items and what needs to happen to them, such as digitizing and preserving, storage, donating, or gifting to other family members. There’s also the mass of digital files we collect. It can be overwhelming.

One of the most important reasons to downsize and organize our genealogy is so that we can leave it to family members who will appreciate it and not be overwhelmed by the mass of foreign-to-them papers that make little to no sense. Downsizing can mean organizing and keeping what is necessary but not every scrap of paper we ever wrote on (yes, I fall into that category).

When I teach, I talk about genealogists as “information hoarders.” We think every piece of paper or information we ever found will be needed “one day.” (This is something I am especially guilty of). And because of this, we tend to have piles of photocopies and articles that we will never see that “one day” because we can’t find what we need!

That gets me back to the topic of downsizing. What should you consider when facing a long-term or short-term downsizing or organizing project?

Items of Sentimental Value

I’m not a professional organizer, so I reached out to someone who is. Janine Adams writes about organizing your family history on her Organize Your Family History website. As I sat stymied by items with a sentimental attachment, I asked her what I should consider as I start to “downsize.”

"When it comes to sentimental items, the more you keep of any one category, the less special any of it is. Less really can be more when you’re deciding what to take to your new home. Genealogists can have a tougher time letting go of family-history-related items because so much of it feels so special. I encourage you to start with the low-hanging fruit, the genealogy documents you’re storing on paper. If you have time during the downsizing process, you could scan your genealogy papers, so that they take up less space in your new home. Be sure and create a file-naming protocol and folder structure so you’ll be able to find the documents. For non-paper heirlooms, keep those that are really important to you and perhaps find new homes for the others with cousins or other relatives.

It can be hard to let go of stuff, but the key to being able to enjoy your new home is to get in touch with what’s important to you and keep only those items that support that. Making the tough decisions now will help you enjoy your new home more quickly."

I like what Janine said about the more you keep, the less special something is. That struck home with me as I looked at my adult son’s collection of toy trains and realized that I didn’t need to keep all of them to remember his childhood. The same is true for the boxes of genealogy photocopies I have from a cousin’s research, most of which is now online.

So with Janine’s words of wisdom and thinking about my downsizing project, I realized that I needed to start with that “low-hanging” fruit and then go from there. Janine has more tips about going digital with your genealogy on her website.

Now It’s Your Turn

What are your downsizing/organizing problems? What do you need to do with your genealogy so that it can be inherited or gifted to a family member or archive? How have you tackled this problem?

For more details on organizing see the more than 15 webinars on organization in the Legacy Library.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


A New Improved WorldCat to Help You Locate Books

A few weeks ago, WorldCat displayed a home screen banner promising that a new website was coming. The wait is over and WorldCat has a new look and new features that you'll want to explore for your genealogy research, no matter where it takes you.

A New Improved WorldCat to Help You Locate Books

Keep in mind that WorldCat is a worldwide library catalog. According to the new website it features:

  • 405 Million Books
  • 440 Million Articles
  • 25 Million Sound Recordings
  • 10 Million Musical Scores
  • 6 Million Maps
  • 30 Million Theses/Dissertations

What this means for you is a large catalog of materials that can help you learn more about your ancestor.

Membership Has Privileges

Before we look at a WorldCat search, let me reiterate something I have discussed on Legacy Tech Zone videos in the past. You don't have to have a free WorldCat account to use it, but there are benefits to one. All you need is an email address and password. Your experience using WorldCat will be richer, and you will have access to more features.

Transfer

If you already have a WorldCat account, you can transfer it to the new website. You will need to transfer it first before you sign-in. If you already have an account, do not start a new account because you will lose all your saved lists and libraries. Transferring allows you to retain everything you had saved on the old WorldCat website.

A WorldCat Search

Let me show you a search to get a sense of how WorldCat is improved. From the WorldCat home screen, I did a search for Snowflake, Arizona. The default search is Items (look to the left of the search box). But you can change that default search to Libraries or Lists if you have an account.

Homepage

I received 1336 results for my keyword search, which I can narrow down with the tools on the far left. This is a feature that was present in the old WorldCat website and on most library and archive catalog websites.

Search on snowflake

Because I’m signed in to my account and I have designated some libraries as favorites (including the Family History Library) I can narrow my search to show just my favorites. This is great especially when I'm planning a research trip. Narrowing by the Family History Library took my list down to 77 results.

FHL results

Here’s the card catalog view of one of my results. Notice that the list of libraries the book is found in has a makeover and on the right, I can also choose a place to buy the book.

Result

 

Even though I narrowed this list to the Family History Library, WorldCat still shows me other libraries with this book. In that list of libraries, the Family History Library has a green star because it is one of my favorite libraries.

FHL favorite

One of the benefits of WorldCat was some of the features it included like source citations. When you are looking at a result, under the book icon are three buttons. The first icon allows me to add the book to one of my WorldCat lists. This is where having a WorldCat account is critical. 

Buttons

 

Next, the button with a set of quote marks allows me to copy and paste a source citation.

Citation

Finally, the last button is a share button for Facebook, Twitter, email, or a link.

 

Not Just a Book Catalog

Archived

Don’t forget that WorldCat has more than just books. I narrowed my original search to Archival Materials, which opens up some great genealogically relevant records not found on the usual familiar genealogy websites.

Now's the Time to use WorldCat

Have you used WorldCat? Now’s a good time to start. With new, improved features and an updated look, it’s a must-have catalog for the genealogist.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


Visiting the National Funeral History Museum

Genealogists love cemeteries. But what about a funeral history museum? Going beyond finding an ancestor's final resting place and learning more about the records and customs that were part of our ancestor's death is a must. I'm always trying to learn more about the social history of our ancestors' lives. On a recent trip to Houston, Texas, I visited the National Museum of Funeral History to learn more about our ancestors' final days.

Visiting the National Funeral History Museum


National Museum of Funeral History 

The National Museum of Funeral History (NMFH) is a relatively new museum founded in 1992. The idea for the Museum "grew from Robert L. Waltrip's 25-year dream of establishing an institution to educate the public and preserve the heritage of death care."

The exhibits when I visited included:

  • George H.W. Bush Memorial Exhibit
  • The History of Cremation
  • Thanks For the Memories (celebrity deaths)
  • Celebrating The Lives and Deaths of The Popes
  • Day of the Dead / Día De Los Muertos
  • History Of Embalming
  • 19th Century Mourning
  • Presidential Funerals
  • Reflections On The Wall
  • Coffins And Caskets of The Past
  • Historical Hearses
  • A Life Well Lived: Fantasy Coffins from Ghana
  • Japanese Funerals
  • 9/11 And Fallen Heroes Tribute
  • Marsellus Casket Company
  • Jazz Funerals of New Orleans
  • History of Mourning Photography

That's a lot of exhibits! Many of the exhibits were small, but the museum is 30,500 square feet overall. So if you plan to visit, give yourself at least an hour, if not two. However, If you never plan on traveling to Houston, you can still see the museum via a virtual tour. The Museum's homepage includes information on purchasing tickets for in-person visits or virtual tours.

Museums offer much more than exhibits. The NMFH is no exception and includes an online library with articles to read, including:

  • Chicago Funeral Streetcars and Trains
  • Funeral Patent Models
  • Post Morten Photography
  • Spirit Houses of Alaska

Why Visit a Funeral Museum?

Let's address the elephant in the room. A funeral history museum isn't for everyone. Some (including my family) find it morbid and not a fun summer activity. So why visit?

As genealogists, we need to understand better the location, eras, and customs of our ancestral families. Museums like the NMFH do just that. In the cremation exhibit, I learned about the first crematory in the US, 19th-century views of the new "technology," and even saw a list with the names of the first people cremated in the US.

Cremation list

The mourning fashion exhibit included various mourning badges that I was unfamiliar with.

Mourning badge

Questions to Ask When Visiting

Museums should be part of your research plan. No matter what museum you are visiting, ask yourself:

  • What exhibits might help my genealogical or local history research?
  • What sources did the museum use to find the information in their exhibits?
  • How can I tell my ancestor's story in a way that incorporates what I learned at the museum?
  • Does the museum have a library or archive?
  • What publications does the museum offer?
  • What books or other educational materials can be found in the gift shop?
  • Does membership entitle you to publications, discounts, events, or tours?

Museums that focus on a topic provide an educational opportunity for family historians. Historical exhibits offer the chance to experience a specific place in time which can lead to other educational opportunities. Studying the exhibits of a funeral museum provides family historians with a taste of what death was like for our families in the past and might lead to new-to-you record sets.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.


Genealogy Takes a Neighborhood

Genealogy Takes a Neighborhood

Where do you spend the majority of your time researching your genealogy? Most likely you are home alone searching on your computer for names.

Genealogy is often a solitary activity but it doesn’t have to be. To do your best research you should surround yourself with a virtual neighborhood. What does a genealogy neighborhood consist of? It might differ according to the location you research, the research questions you have, or the help you need to be successful.

Think of the neighborhood you live in. Your physical neighborhood has not only your neighbors but also businesses, services, and helping professions. In my personal neighborhood are my neighbors and a few blocks from my home are my eye doctor, grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and the public library. I don’t need all of these services every day but I know where to go when I do need them. Your genealogy neighborhood should be very similar.

What do you need for your genealogy neighborhood? Consider:

Support

We all need a support system that will listen to our successes, help us brainstorm, and be there when things don’t go as expected. In our genealogy neighborhood, this might be family, friends, or other genealogists.

Experts

What questions do you have? What is your brick wall? Genealogy societies near you and in the location where your ancestor’s lived, professional genealogists, researchers, and librarians are some examples of experts you may want to seek out.

Fellow Researchers

There’s a real benefit to joining a community of genealogists whether it’s a society, an online group, or even networking at a conference. Hearing about other people's experiences can benefit your own research. When I started I began by researching with a cousin, then I joined a few societies, from there I became a regular at my local Family History Center where I began volunteering. Little by little I gathered a group of genealogical friends who shared their experiences and benefitted my research.

Tech Help

I remember when it was unique for a society to have a “computer users” group. But today, all genealogists are computer users and most likely spend the majority of their time on the computer. Technology is great until it doesn’t work or you aren’t sure how to use it. Tech help may encompass everything from fixing a computer to better understanding how to use your Legacy software. 

Aside from identifying people or businesses that can help, make sure to take advantage of Legacy webinars that explain how to use technology, websites, and software. Take a look at the Webinar Library for webinars that might help you with your tech questions.

Genealogy is a Neighborhood

Your genealogy can benefit from a virtual neighborhood of people, repositories, webinars, and businesses that can help you do better research. Think about what you could use and start looking for “neighbors” who can help. 

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


What's in Your Genealogy Research Bag?

What's in Your Genealogy Research Bag?

As I write this I’m finishing up my research trip to the Allen County Public Library (ACPL). Last year I wrote about the Genealogy Center at ACPL and everything it has to offer researchers. This year I returned to continue my research.

For some of the researchers here, this is the first time they have used a library for genealogy research. I imagine that can be intimidating. A new researcher has to consider what their research question is, what they want to find, and what to bring. When I research away from home, I have a bag that has, what are for me, “research essentials.”

What’s In My Research Bag?

LibraryResearchBag

Everyone is different, that’s a given. So it makes sense that some research “essentials” will be the same for most genealogists and others are more personal preferences. One thing to consider about your research bag is weight. What I take is influenced by what I can comfortably carry, especially if I have to walk a few blocks to the library. You may have some mobility issues that make a roller bag a better option.

What are My Research Essentials?

IMG_1288

For me they include:

Office-type Supplies

  • Computer
  • Cell phone
  • Flash drive
  • Blank notebook (or two)
  • Pens, pencils, highlighters
  • Post-it notes or post-it tabs

Personal Needs

  • Water
  • Snack (remember you can’t eat in the library)
  • Cough drop
  • Aspirin
  • Eye-drops
  • Face mask (some libraries or repositories may require it)

What you want to pack may differ. To me, these are all essentials. Notice I didn’t discuss your genealogy research materials like charts or reports. It’s easier if you have your research in a software program on your computer or an online tree so that you can refer to it. A mobile app with an online tree makes it easier to take your research wherever you go. 

You need to think not just about research but also about what you need to be comfortable. And speaking of comfort, I always bring a sweater with me because it’s not uncommon for the library to be a little colder than you want. And nothing makes a research trip more miserable than being cold. 

So once you consider what to take, make sure that you also consider what NOT to take. My suggestions include:

  • Any drink that is not water
  • Your original documents/records
  • Valuables
  • Anything you absolutely don’t need

Once again, that list will be different for you and your research needs.

Ready to Research?

Researching away from home requires being prepared. Part of that preparation is your research question and plan but you also need to prepare for your time in the library. Start putting together a research bag now so that you’re ready to research when given the opportunity.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


It’s HOT! Our Ancestors and the Weather

HeatWave

A frequent topic of conversation this summer is the weather. England is experiencing record-breaking temperatures. Heat-related fires are active in Europe. The temperature is in the three digits where I live, and you can believe me when I say I'm extremely thankful to live in a home with air conditioning.

The summer heat has me thinking about our ancestors who didn't have modern-day comforts. My paternal grandparents moved from Los Angeles County, California to a desert city near Palm Springs in the 1950s and didn't have air conditioning. My grandfather worked for the railroad. The railroad company, realizing the difficulty their employees would have getting any sleep in the heat, made available special sleeping containers dubbed "submarines." These were "a one-room dwelling made for sleeping. Wooden frame structures were covered with sheets of galvanized iron and then overlaid with burlap. Water was piped to the roof where it trickled onto the burlap and flowed down the sides, cooling the metal and cooling the interior by 15 to 20 degrees." [1]

How did the weather affect your ancestor? Did they work in extreme weather? Did they move because of their health and the impact of the weather?

Weather, hot or cold, in some cases, led to tragedies for our ancestors. Illness such as frostbite or heat stroke. Hurricanes or tornadoes could destroy your ancestor's homes or precipitate a move. 

Have you considered how the weather impacted your ancestral family? Historical weather information might be found in:

  • Local Histories
  • General Histories
  • Weather websites
  • Newspapers

Searching for information about the United States, the National Oceanic, and Atmospheric Administration hosts historical weather maps on their Central Library website that dates back to 1871. Maps may be downloaded as PDFs. The website says:

The U.S. Signal Office began publishing weather maps as the War Department Maps on 1 January 1871. When the meteorological activities of the Signal Corps were transferred to the newly-created Weather Bureau in 1891, the title of the weather map changed to the Department of Agriculture Weather Map. In 1913, the title became simply Daily Weather Map. In 1969, the Weather Bureau began publishing a weekly compilation of daily maps with the title Daily Weather Maps (Weekly series).

The earliest weather maps featured only a map of the continental U.S. with the day's air temperature, barometric pressure, wind velocity, and direction, and a general indication of the weather for various cities around the country plotted directly on the map.[2]

If you are researching a county outside of the United States, search the Internet for the name of the country and the phrase "weather map."

Googling the name of the state, province, or country you're researching with the word "weather" or "historical weather" may help you find websites and books. For example, the book The Pennsylvania Weather Book by Ben Gelber (Rutgers University Press, 2002) includes historical information on great storms and weather extremes for the state and individual cities. A more familiar book, The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin (Harper Perennial, 2005) traces five families who experienced a blizzard that killed 500 hundred people along the prairie.

Consult digitized books websites and periodical indexes for books and articles. Consider:

Everyday life and all that it brings negatively or positively impacted our ancestors' lives. The weather affected where they lived, worked, and their health. Look for weather data and reports in online resources and books to get an idea about your ancestor's everyday life.

[1] "History of the Coachella Valley," California State University, San Bernardino (https://www.csusb.edu/sites/default/files/Unit_3.3_History_of_CV_Curriculum_Guide.pdf: accessed 19 July 2022). Pg 80.

[2] "U.S. Daily Weather Maps," NOAA (https://library.noaa.gov/Collections/Digital-Collections/US-Daily-Weather-Maps: accessed 19 July 2022).

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.


Google Tips for Your Next Search

Google Tips for Your Next Search

Everyone knows how to conduct a Google search, right? I know I only use a fraction of what Google (or any other online tool or software) offers. I'm always looking for tips to help me make the most of this resource so I can do better searches. Here are three Google search features you may want to use for your next Google genealogy search.

#1 Using Google Internationally

One way to access a country's version of Google is to use the website for that country. When you go to Google to start a search, you are accessing the Google screen for your country based on your IP address. So I'm in the United States and use the U.S. version of Google. If I'm conducting research for an ancestor who lived in another country, I may miss out on results that I would receive if I were using that country's version of Google. So I'm using Google.com, but if I want to use Google for Canada, I could go to Google.ca.

Google.ca

 

Genealogy in Time Magazine has a list of the Google website URL's that you can use. Remember that for best results, you may need to search in the language used in that country.

#2 Learn More About that Source

So you've conducted a Google Search and have your results list.

Poe search

For each result, you will see the URL, the name of the web page and/or website, and a description. You know that, but have you ever noticed three vertical dots to the right of the URL?

Poetry Foundation 3 dots

Click on these dots to reveal information about the website. In this example, I searched Edgar Allen Poe. One of the results is the Poetry Foundation. By clicking on the three vertical dots, I can view the "About this result" screen.

Poetry Foundation Source

This feature might help you as you analyze the results you receive and decide to pursue any specific source.

Another example is the source information for the Wikipedia entry for Edgar Allen Poe. Once I click on the three vertical dots in my Google search I see this box.

Wikipedia

I can then click on More about this Page which provides me even more information to consider using Wikipedia.

Wikipedia about the source

Play around with this feature and see how it might help you make the most of your results.

#3 Always Click on Books

In my opinion, this is a must. When you get your Google results, always click on Books at the top to see the results for Google Books.

Google Books tool bar

You can then focus your search to narrow it to a time period or even look at historical newspaper results.

Googel Books types

Don't forget that you can search Google for an ancestor's name but also consider searching by the place they lived, their religion, or the membership organization they belonged to. Google Books might have a city directory, a local history, or other historical works that can benefit your genealogy.

What Will You Search?

We all could benefit from changing our search habits and trying something new. Don't forget their is a benefit to playing around with your search by adding additional keywords or clicking on features you've never tried. You might be surprised at what new items you find.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 


When is a book a genealogical source?

When is a book a genealogical source?

It’s an unassuming book. It looks more like a marketing piece. Wedding Embassy Yearbook by Macy’s California (a department store chain) is a 130-page hardback. It begins with a store directory for everything the bride needs for her wedding and her first home. After that, the book provides helpful wedding advice about the engagement announcement, the wedding party attire, and etiquette surrounding brides who are widows and “older” (yes, older in this context means 30 years of age. The book states, “The woman of thirty or thereabouts is still sufficiently youthful to wear the traditional wedding gown and veil (p. 111). But for those in their later 30s, you’re better off with a “handsome dress.”)

If you found this in your family library during a decluttering exercise, you might be tempted to throw it out. After all, what genealogical use is it? It might be something you read for nostalgia, but not much else. But if you continue paging through to the back, you find this…

IMG_0688

And this…

IMG_0687

It’s a genealogical source masking as a department store wedding planner. The name of the bride and groom and attendants are here. The list of everyone who gave a gift, several pages, is here. The only thing not here is the wedding date, though judging from the list of when the gifts were received, it was most likely an October wedding. The book lacks a year, and the bride wrote “4” for the year in her list of gifts received and acknowledged. My original guess was that it might be 1964. Further research showed a California marriage index and a newspaper announcement that verified an October 1964 wedding.

This book is a source of many genealogical facts, from the bride and groom to the family members who gave gifts. Combining this with the online newspaper wedding announcement and a state marriage index, one can piece together that moment in time. Other details like the type of gift given provide some social history clues on what young couples received as they started their life together.

Now here’s the sad part of this genealogical record. This isn’t my family. It was given to me by someone who picked it up at a book sale. Why it ended up at the book sale is unknown, but further research uncovered a 1968 divorce for the couple.

The lesson here is that as we declutter our own home or that of a deceased family member’s estate, we need to remember that not all genealogical sources look like genealogical sources. Some look like marketing pieces or plain books, but in reality, they can hold so much more. Be careful as you go through things. It’s a tremendous job, but it can lead to exciting discoveries.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.


Using Popular Culture to Tell Your Story

Using Popular Culture to Tell Your Story

My oldest son and I have been watching a popular TV show set in the 1980s. The show focuses on teenagers during an era when I, too, was a teenager. I've become the resident expert on all things 1980s, including the show's depiction of fashion, music, stores, cars, and just about everything.

Of course, my experience as a teenager in the 1980s will be specific to me, my family, and where I grew up. It will differ in some ways from a re-creation of that time period. But this show has allowed my sons to ask family history-related questions and get something more from the experience than just the entertainment value.

So many TV shows depict a specific time and place. Even watching older television shows (I'm binge-watching The Rockford Files right now) can be a catalyst for discussions of a particular time and place that you remember. (The Rockford Files has led to conversations about clothing, cars, food, and locations in Southern California in the 1970s and 1980s).

How can you use popular culture to interest your family in family history? Consider taking clues from that show to discuss:

  • What you wore
  • Your hairstyle
  • What car/s you or your family drove
  • Food that was popular
  • Stores you shopped in
  • What high school was like
  • Popular slang for that time period
  • Technology for that time period
  • What songs you listened to
  • What activities you took part in
  • Did your work during high school? If so, what did you do?

So many times we think of family history as a pursuit back to much earlier times, but our story is also important. It can be difficult to start a conversation about your experiences, but commenting on the popular culture (television shows, movies, songs) can help start a story that will be remembered even after interest in the show goes away.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

 

 


The Hidden Treasures of Local Unindexed Periodicals

The Hidden Treasures of the Local Unindexed Periodicals

Decades ago, I was volunteering at a Family History Center. One day, the Director made the difficult but seemingly correct decision to toss out all of the aged society periodicals we had collected. Her reasoning was sound, they were taking up room and no one ever used them. At that time, using the new FamilySearch databases and viewing microforms seemed like a better use of time when one was limited by personal time constraints and the hours of the Center.

The problem with periodicals is that they have a limited shelf life. When they are first published, they are appealing and hold the promise of new insights, but after a few months, we tend to consider them fodder for the recycling bin.

While it's true that some genealogy periodicals achieve immortality through their inclusion into the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), that's not true of all society periodicals. However, they still may be available in a physical form at a genealogy library, the society's library, or even an extensive public library,

Last year when I researched at three genealogy libraries (Allen County Public Library, the Family History Library, and the Clayton Library for Genealogical Research), periodicals were shelved alongside the books for a particular county and state. In some cases, they were found at the beginning of the shelf for that location. Easy to find, but still might be passed over for other "more important" resources. Those periodicals were easy to ignore. After all, there is so much to look at in a genealogy library, and it's easy to turn your attention to other resources. Periodicals can be hit or miss and, unless indexed, take time to examine page by page carefully. Although there is likely a table of contents and maybe even an index, why bother?

It's a good question, and the answer lies in the difference between searching and researching. When we search, we are simply doing just that, entering search terms or keywords into a website search engine, and determining which results have value for our research. When we conduct research, real research, we are doing that and carefully studying collections that are not easily searched. We go page-by-page, reading and studying the content to discover mentions of our ancestors or a topic.

Research takes time, and often there are no shortcuts. There's nothing wrong with using an index to find what you need, but that periodical may not be indexed, so you'll have to research it the old-fashioned way, page by page, looking for what you need. At the Family History Library I studied the books for the area I was researching and then one by one I went through the local society newsletters to see if I could find mention of the woman who I was researching.

IMG_8369

IMG_8373

A reasonably exhaustive search requires us to use a variety of sources, including periodicals. These periodicals are valuable and rich in genealogical information such as oral histories, indexes to unique record sets, transcriptions and abstracts, histories, and more. Reading a local society periodical (whether genealogical or historical) can lead you to additional records or help you understand a place in time that you may have been unfamiliar with.

It's easy to feel like you've looked everywhere but take some time to exhaust available sources from the location you are researching, including society publications.

 

Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.