Showing posts from August, 2020

“I Can’t Research, The Library is Closed”

We say repeatedly, “Don’t neglect books, not everything is online or ever will be.” But what do we do when the libraries are closed?
Good news! You can still search for books. Perhaps the source best known by the public is Google Books. According to the New York Times, Google has scanned over 25 million books.[1] I entered “History of the Ball Family in Virginia” and got hundreds of books and journals. I need to refine my search to determine which Ball family. Ancestry.comhas also published books. Going to Search > Card Catalog > Stories Memories & Histories and entering the keywords Ball and Virginia brought up 17 books including information about the Ball family in Virginia. The first hit was a book containing a biographical sketch of Mrs. Mary Ball Washington, the mother of George Washington. Reviewing the list, I saw others I need to review as I research that line. has digitized hundreds of thousands of bo…

What's a Query and Why Should I Care? #ResearchOpportunity

Queries  Queries used to be a basic tool all researchers needed to craft. Before the internet was available to the average person, queries were sent to newspapers, magazines, newsgroups, and mail lists. Yes, email was around before the Internet! And newsgroups preceded mail lists and forums, although to the consumer, they work similarly. Much of the time we now work alone, or privately with cousins on our shared research. In my opinion, when we work only privately, something has been lost.  First, how to craft a successful query? And then, what to do with it? A query is a question -- and more. A good query starts with an excellent subject line or headline, accurately and concisely describes the person or situation of interest, and ends with a call for action. You can see that in my mother's query, published 25 years ago in The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, pictured above. She stated what she knew and how to contact her with more information. There was a limit of 50 words, so this w…

My Inspiration

Anna Wood Dyer
Anna Wood Dyer BiographyAt a recent virtual meeting, someone asked if others had one ancestor who had inspired them either to start family history or to keep researching.  It didn’t take me long to think of my gggrandmother Anna Wood Dyer as my inspiration.  After briefly relating my discoveries about her, someone suggested she would make a good blog topic.“No problem,” I thought, “I’ll dust off and update one of the biographies I’ve written about her.”  Looking back at the discoveries and development of her life story I realize something else—the timeline of my growth as a researcher.  Throughout this family history quest, Anna has been the most elusive with the least information available.  And yet, at this point I personally feel I know her better because I have had to learn so much about her environment and the events that must have impacted her life.Anna has never seemed like a brick wall, only a weight bearing wall around which a family grew.  I can see beyond to h…

From Annoyance to LOVE

FamilySearch and the GPSFamilySearch is indispensable to genealogists, especially those who follow the GPS - Genealogical Proof Standard. As my inspiration for this blog, Devon Noel Lee said in an email to FamilyHistory Fanatics members, If you want to be a better genealogist, you have to use the genealogy proof standard. If you want to use the GPS in one central location, there's no better place to do that than Genealogical Proof Standard There are five elements to the Genealogical Proof Standard: Reasonably exhaustive research has been conducted.Each statement of fact has a complete and accurate source citation.The evidence is reliable and has been skillfully correlated and interpreted.Any contradictory evidence has been resolved.The conclusion has been soundly reasoned and coherently written. Any proof statement is subject to re-evaluation when new evidence arises. [1] Reasonably Exhaustive Research
Reasonably exhaustive research must include the millions of docume…

When Life Gives You Lemons . . .

OptionsMake Lemonade; or so the adage goes.My response would be . . .lemon meringue pie!No, wait, I would make Lemon Sponge Cake Pie!This was my father’s favorite pie and my mother’s go-to dessert for any special occasion.I don’t remember ever seeing it in a recipe book; Mom had it memorized and I made sure to put it in my collection of favorite recipes when I moved out on my own.(I’ve got to find that old red steno pad.)In 1999, when I moved my mother from Wyoming to live with my sister in Georgia, Mom gave me what she said was her mother’s cookbook.It was an old, hardbound farm implement catalog from 1887 with newspaper clipping recipes glued on the pages.One clipping had the location of Sweetbrier Farm, April 11, 1886.

CluesAs I looked at it more closely a few years later, with some genealogy research experience under my belt, I realized it might have belonged to an earlier generation.My great grandmother Katherine Kinnie had been a cook for a family in Ontario, Canada, and in 1881,…