Donna’s Picks: Week of January 4, 2009

The “Donna’s Picks” feature returns after a lengthy hiatus!  I may not have “picks” every week anymore, but I will occasionally highlight other blogs, posts, or articles that may be of interest to my fellow genealogists.  For this comeback edition, enjoy the following links!

History – In this news article from Science Now, read about an interesting archeological find in Germany.  Researchers now believe that the Romans were in Germany for centuries later than previously assumed.

Genealogical Records
– Genealogy and Family History posted an informative article called “Before Ellis Island: Passenger Arrivals at Castle Garden, New York“.  Ellis Island gets more attention, but if your ancestors arrived earlier this article might provide some clues on where to look for evidence of their arrival.

Genealogy Blog
– I would like to highlight one of the “newer” genealogy blogs, They that go down to the sea.  Amy has been blogging since November about her Canadian, Scottish, English, Swedish, and American roots.  “Blogling” Amy describes her blog as follows: “While I like charts and graphs as much as the next researcher, my real passion lies in family stories, treasured family objects, and images.  If there was such a thing as an ‘interdisciplinary genealogist,’ I would be one.”  I am certainly enjoying her stories, and I’m sure you will, too!

Genealogy Blogger Challenge – Miriam at Ancestories asks, “Who Are Our Brickwall Ancestors, and Why Aren’t We Blogging About Them Regularly?” Good question!  From the resultant applause in the comments, we’ll be reading much more about everyone’s “brickwall” ancestors – and hopefully helping each other, as Reagan said, break down those walls!  If you’re not sure how to post your problem, Miriam even provided a very useful format to use.

Blogging – A blog about books and reading I’ve recently discovered called Sophisticated Dorkiness is presenting a “Blog Improvement Project” – “a year-long challenge that will consist of twice-monthly activities to improve your blog.”  Week One’s focus is Setting Goals.  Whether you are a new blogger or have been blogging for a while, if you are looking to improve your work than this project may be the challenge for you!

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness – Finally, over on the PHILLY-ROOTS list, a Rootsweb mailing list, one helpful genealogist has been transcribing and posting lists found in her own newspaper research, such as death notices or marriage license notices appearing on particular dates.  This is especially helpful to other researchers since even non-subsribers can find these names via an archive search of the mailing list.  The researcher, Debbie, closes her posts with “Do a good deed for someone today” – she is certainly doing good deeds for other genealogists – perhaps we can follow her example.  The next time you run across some information that isn’t related to YOUR family, why not consider posting a message to a mailing list so that others can benefit?  There are over 30,000 mailing lists on the Rootsweb-Ancestry network – find one for your surname or locality of interest.  If you don’t want any more email in your in-box, you can subscribe via RSS to read in any blog reader.

cog64That’s all for this week!  Don’t forget the deadline for the 64th Carnival of Genealogy this week (see the end of the 63rd edition for details)!


Donna’s Picks: Week of April 6, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week from blogs about genealogy, writing, and blogging.  Pay a visit to the site if the topic sounds interesting to you, too!

  • Daily Writing Tips advises writers about “Five Words You Can Cut.” Perhaps it’s just that my writing is really quite as bad as that?  (All five words are in my previous sentence.)  It’s a good reminder for writers and bloggers everywhere as it’s so easy to fall into the trap of adding useless words. [4/8/08]
  • Copyblogger proclaims “6 Ways that Bloggers are Like Rappers.” Now, I’m not really into rap, but I had to laugh out loud at the similarities.  Many genea-bloggers are prolific (or at least aspire to be), make guest appearances, are branded by nifty names, call their own shots, and free-style.  But my favorite of the six ways is: gang affiliation.  In the world of genealogy we call it “family”, but we’re otherwise known as a gang.  Fortunately, our happy gang doesn’t have any turf wars!  Check out the post and see if you agree. [4/9/08]
  • Family Matters talks about how “Profiling” can actually help your cousins find you online.  Can fellow researchers find you through your online profiles?  [4/10/08]

Thanks to Terry and footnoteMaven for the link love this week on my “Hats Off” post.  Don’t forget the big deadline this week…no, not TAX DAY, the due date for the next Carnival of Genealogy!  See that and all of the other due dates on the cool genea-blogger calendar put together by Thomas at Destination: Austin Family.  Check back next week for more of Donna’s picks!

Donna’s Picks, Week of March 30, 2008

Well, it’s been a slow blogging week for me and I’m afraid that April will be a bit “light” on interesting and informative posts here at What’s Past is Prologue.  I’ve been sick with two different illnesses, I have two writing deadlines hanging over my head, and I’m due to leave for a genealogy conference in Salt Lake City in little more than a week – and I have no idea what I’m going to research since I haven’t had time to get organized!  Oh, and I have a full-time job, too.  I have to say, when it comes to blogging it’s really hard to keep up with the Joneses, or at least the Seaver’s and the Thornton’s!  But, I’ll at least try to post a few of my favorites from this past week.

Because of my illness, I didn’t do my customary post to hail the arrival of the latest Carnival of Genealogy!  So, if you haven’t seen it already, be sure to visit Jasia at Creative Gene for the 45th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Cars as stars! There were many submissions this time, so get ready, start your engines, and have a fun time reading all of the posts. The next COG topic is:

What traits run in your family? Which of them did you inherit? Do you have your mother’s blue eyes? Your grandfather’s stubbornness? Your aunt’s skill with knitting needles? Is there a talent for music in your family? Or do you come from a long line of teachers? Have you ever looked at an old photo and recognized your nose on another family member’s face?

The deadline is April 15th.  Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using the carnival submission form.  Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Here are some of Donna’s Picks for the week:

  • Craig at GeneaBlogie gave a nice Latin Primer at Catholic Genealogy: Latin Lesson.  I’ve seen many of these terms in records I have researched, but I have to admit that nigrini coloris was a first for me.  I suppose there were no Africans (not to mention African-Americans) in the area of Germany where my Latin church records were.  Thanks for the lesson, Craig. [3/30/08]

Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks!

Donna’s Picks, Week of March 23, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week from genealogy blogs. I was ill most of the week and had little interest in blogging or reading blogs, but I did manage to find several good ones that brought my foggy head out of the clouds. If you missed any of these, be sure to check them out!

  • Dick Eastman had an interesting post on “Back to the Future: 2008” in which he has excerpts from a 40-year-old magazine article about what life would be like in 2008. There were some hits and some misses in their predictions, but it’s a fascinating read. [3/27/08]
  • Randy at Genea-Musings proudly says “Now we know what happened to Virgil” in an interesting follow-up to previous posts. Hasn’t everyone uncovered a fascinating article and wondered what happened to the people involved? Probably, but how many take the time like Randy to wonder aloud on his blog and find the answer! Some great detective work, and thanks to someone finding it on the internet we all can now know exactly what happened to Virgil. [3/28/08]
  • Denise at Family Matters follows on to Terry’s post with a discussion on “Screen Capture”. I personally tend to use “Alt-print screen” and then customize the image in a photo program, but I look forward to trying out some of Denise’s suggestions. [3/29/08]

I hope you enjoy these articles as much as I did. Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks! The highlight of this coming week is sure to be the latest Carnival of Genealogy – I’ve seen some interesting posts so far, so I can’t wait to see the entire collection.

Donna’s Picks: Week of March 16, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week from both genealogy blogs and “other” blogs that had something either related to genealogy or blogging, or was interesting to me for other reasons. Be sure to visit these sites!

  • Also on St. Patrick’s Day, World Hum points us to “Ireland, Mermaids, and a 500-Year-Old Grudge”. While the post links to a NYTimes magazine article, I’d like to give World Hum the credit since that’s where I found it. The story is about a man who fulfills his dying mother’s wish – go to Ireland and look up the family’s history. As the post says, “It didn’t take him long to find out his ‘family was hated all over southwest Ireland.’”
  • The Cafeteria is Closed has an interesting article on “Charles Carroll”. Mr. Carroll was the sole Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, and this article provides some good biographical information as well as his Irish ancestry. [3/19/08]
  • Arthur C. Clarke, one of my favorite authors, died this week at age 90. SF Signal presents Arthur C. Clarke Links and Video with links to some of his fiction that is available online, so if you’ve never read “The Nine Billion Names of God” here’s your chance! [3/19/08]

I hope you enjoy these articles as much as I did. Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks. Also, I wanted to give a big thank you to DearMYRTLE for naming What’s Past is Prologue the Best Blog for the week of March 16th for my post on “Gutsy Women Travelers”. What an honor!

And finally, Happy Easter! From the Easter Vigil’s Exsultet:

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Donna’s Picks, Week of March 2, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week that are related to either genealogy or genealogy-blogging or writing. If you missed these posts, be sure to visit the sites!

  • Lorelle on WordPress presented “Blogging Resources and Sources to Help You Blog”. The article presents a wide variety of resources for researching and writing including using Google Alerts and Reader, Wikipedia, how to separate fact from fiction, library resources, dates, and many, many more. Many of these sites are quite useful to genealogists, so do check it out. [3/4/08]
  • Diane at Genealogy Insider asks “What Is Census Soundex Microfilm?” Not surprisingly, many have never used it thanks to the internet. Learn more about it and view the image if you’re not sure what it is. Sometimes I actually miss those microfilm days! [3/5/08]
  • Thomas at Destination: Austin Family writes about “Funeral Cards” which are a Roman Catholic tradition. Thomas has scanned samples of cards from his family members, so if you’re not familiar with these you can see what they are. I wish I had more of the ones with the photos, but as Jasia remarks in the comments…sometimes that’s all we have left of our ancestors. [3/7/08]

Thanks to Lori for the “link love” to “What’s Past is Prologue” this week!

Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks. I’m sorry I had light blogging this past week, but I have a few things planned this week to honor some of the women in my family tree so stay tuned!

Donna’s Picks, Week of February 24, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week from both genealogy blogs and “other” blogs that had something interested and related to genealogy or at least genea-blogging.  If you missed any, be sure to visit these sites!

FootnoteMaven has a good post entitled “Sign Here Please!”.  She not only collects her ancestors’ autographs, but also explains how to display them quite attractively.  As I am a fellow ancestor-autograph-hunter, this certainly caught my eye. [2/24/08]

Small-Leaved Shamrock writes about “November 1892: PA train explosion makes NYC headlines”.  Not only is the story of Lisa’s 2nd great-grandfather’s untimely death  interesting, but her post reminds us of alternate sources of information we can use to learn more about the lives (and deaths) of our ancestors. [2/26/08]

Web Worker Daily describes Google’s latest offering in “Google Sites Finally Launches”.  This looks like it will be valuable for genealogists, especially genealogical societies. [2/27/08]

Randy highlights how “Genealogy Research shines today” with a story direct from major news headlines about a genealogist who proved that a memoir-author was a fraud.  Dear Myrtle also posted about this story with “Holocaust fraud solved by source documents” and interviews the genealogist in a podcast. [2/29/08]

Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks.  And many thanks to Lisa and Terry for the “link love” they gave “What’s Past is Prologue” this week!

Donna’s Picks, Week of February 17, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week from both genealogy blogs and “other” blogs that had something interested and related to genealogy or at least genea-blogging.  If you missed any, be sure to visit these sites!

Brave New Traveler, which is a blog about travel, had an interesting post called “Can Your Grandparents Teach You About Love?” The writer questions the cynical nature of love in today’s age and looks back to her grandparents and their stories to learn a thing or two about what love really means.  [2/19/08]

Lisa at 100 Years in America also has a wistful post entitled “If only a church could tell stories”.  She ponders what the Legrad, Croatia’s Holy Trinity Church would say “if only its walls could speak” since it has seen so many events such as baptisms, marriages, and funerals since 1780. What genealogist among us hasn’t wondered the same about our ancestors houses and churches?  See her post for more on the church and its story.  [2/20/08]

A writing blog I visit called The Renegade Writer has an interesting post on “Using Word’s Auto-Correct Function for Interviews”.  Since many genealogists use Word to write family history stories (or blog posts), these shortcuts can be used for frequently-used genealogy words like surnames or place names. [2/20/08]

On a related note, you may want to also check out Randy’s musings at Genea-Musings on “Writing narratives in genealogy software”.  Do you use Word or another word processing program, or do you just use your genealogy software?  [2/22/08]

Finally, for a good genea-laugh, Terry Thornton has posted the hysterical results of his poetry challenge by publishing the Anthology of Blogger Poems: 2008 Challenge.  Do stop over and see the many responses to his challenge! [2/21/08]

Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks.  And many thanks to Jessica and Terry for the “link love” they gave “What’s Past is Prologue” this week!  Also, in an example of my Gene Kelly blog converging with the topic of Genealogy, the last of the Kelly siblings has died this week in Alabama.  For a link to the obituary to learn more about Louise Kelly Bailey, see my Gene Scene blog post.

Donna’s Picks: Week of February 10, 2008

Here are some posts from genealogy blogs that I really enjoyed this week. If you missed any, be sure to visit these sites!

On the UPGS 2008 site, the article “Preparing to visit the FHL” offers some great tips on how to prepare for a visit to the ultimate genealogy library in Salt Lake City. The article was originally written by Paul and Janice Lipinski for the UPGS (United Polish Genealogical Societies) conference two years ago and was updated by Stephen J. Danko for UPGS 2008. If you’re planning on visiting the FHL in Salt Lake City any time soon, this article will help you make the most of your visit. [2/10/08]

Dear Myrtle posted an article about the Last Living US WWI Vet. Following the story about the 107-year-old Frank Buckles, Myrt provides a list of ideas for tracing an ancestor’s WWI military service. [2/11/08]

Craig at GeneaBlogie asks “Who was the first African-American Priest?” The answer isn’t as simple as one might think! Read Craig’s biographical portraits of the two candidates: Father James Healy (1830-1900) and Father Augustine Tolton (1854-1897). [2/12/08]

Before My Time offers a fascinating look at The Great Depression with a first-hand account of what life was like during that hard time. [2/12/08]

Barbara at Our Carroll Family History tells us What’s New with the PA-HR-Access. The group is fighting PA lawmakers to obtain greater access to vital records. [2/12/08]

Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks!

Donna’s Picks: Week of February 3, 2008

Here are some posts from genealogy blogs that I really enjoyed this week. If you missed any, be sure to visit these sites!

Lee Drew at FamHist writes about several online tools that come in handy for genealogist. “Zoom, Write, and Learn” discusses Google Earth, Live Search Maps, PAF, Google Docs, ZOHO, and Google Books in a short yet informative post. [2/3/08]

Brave New Traveler isn’t a genealogy blog, but one article this week might prove useful to genealogists. “8 Free Online Resources for Learning A New Language” offers a comprehensive look at some language tools. Many genealogists will eventually have to deal with a foreign language. Whether you’re planning a trip back to the homeland or just want to pick out some foreign words, check out these resources. They’re free! [2/4/08]

This isn’t strictly for genealogists either, but since many of the genealogists who visit this site are also bloggers, it may be useful to some. Lorelle on WordPress has a challenge for bloggers on “Testing Your Blog’s Accessibility”. It’s not just about different browsers or operating systems, but also about making your site readable for everyone – “from cell phone access to color blind.” Click on the link to “Views of a Web Page” and learn about how your blog may not look the same to everyone who views it, and find out how to make changes for the better. [2/7/08]

We all seem to have old family photos full of folks we can’t identify, righ? Jasia at Creative Gene takes a rather, er, creative approach and tries “Using Facial Recognition Software in Photo Identification”. Results were mixed, but it’s an interesting approach that I never would have thought of. Maybe it can help point you in the right direction in determining who’s who in your old photos! [2/7/08]

The Polish Genealogy Project posts about a new “Surname Map” site for Poland. I’ve tried this as well as other sites, and it’s a lot of fun. It can even help in your research if your name isn’t very common.  The blurb for the site doesn’t give the directions, so click on the link – next to “Mapa nazwisk” enter a surname and click the “Szukaj” button.  If your name is in Poland (based on what data source and what years, I’m not sure), a map will appear.  I wrote an article on Surname Maps for various countries Family Chronicle last summer, so I’ll try to put a PDF up soon for my visitors who aren’t Polish.  But some of you non-Polish folks might be surprised…at least one non-Polish genea-blogger listed in my Blog Roll comes up on the map!  [2/5/08]

Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks.  And many thanks to Jessica, Randy, Apple, and Terry for the “link love” they gave “What’s Past is Prologue” this week!

Donna’s Picks: Week of January 27, 2008

Here are some posts from genealogy blogs that I really enjoyed this week.  If you missed any, be sure to visit these sites!

John at Transylvania Dutch has a good article on City Directories including how useful they can be in your research and how to find them. [1/27/08]

In a similar way, Steve highlights Finding Obituaries Online.   Steve lists several online resources as well as the fees to access them.  Now if only of my ancestors actually had obits this would be great! [1/28/08]

Thomas has a wonderfully creative post on genealogical societies vs. stay-at-home genealogists called The Pajama Game: Can a Romance Blossom Between Genealogy Societies and Stay-at-Home Genealogists?  The topic has been discussed recently on several blogs, and Thomas uses the premise of the movie Pajama Game to explore it further.  It’s creative, humorous, and makes some worthwhile points that yes, it is possible for the two groups to co-exist and have a healthy marriage together.  [1/30/08]

Tim reminds us about the value of newspaper articles with Ellis Island Immigration News in 1903.   By using the New York Times archives, he discovered a valuable resource to add perspective to our ancestors journeys. [2/1/08]

After we’ve all been writing about our families in 1908 and 1808, Randy reminds us how to find out what happened on this day, or in that year.  The comments add even more sites to do more of the same and remind us of events that our ancestors experienced in their lives. [1/28/08]

Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks!

Donna’s Picks: Week of January 20, 2008

Here are some posts from genealogy blogs that I really enjoyed this week.  If you missed any, be sure to visit these sites!

At CreativeGene, there are a series of three posts responding to Lisa’s challenge to write about your ancestors in 1908.  Jasia took the challenge a bit further than the rest of us by providing a great summary of the historical and cultural settings of the areas that were her ancestors’ homes in 1908.  Travel back in time and see a snapshot of Detroit, the Galician Partition of Poland, and the Russian Partition of Poland.  Each post has some great photos – and even videos – that help you imagine life in those areas one hundred years ago. [1/25/08, 1/26/08, 1/27/08]

Craig at GeneaBlogie reviews a genealogy-related book, One Drop by Bliss Broyard.  The book recounts the author’s search for her father’s black roots, which were kept hidden from the family.  Craig writes “One Drop is everything a genealogical narrative ought to be–historical, cultural and personal … In short, every genealogist will find something of interest here.”  Thanks, Craig, for another good book to add to my lengthy reading list! [1/26/08] 

DearMYRTLE writes about “giving it your all” with regard to your genealogical research.  She tells us how to “get real” about our research and offers some pointers on how to do just that. [1/26/08]

FamHist makes my list for the second week in a row with a post entitled “Genealogy – Get Them Interested Young”.  Lee has some great suggestions on getting children interested in their own genealogy based on a genealogy “Merit Badge” offered by the Boy Scouts.  I hope to try a few of these out on my nieces and nephews.  [1/24/08] 

Chris started a new “irregular” feature at the Genealogue this week called “Genealogy Hack” which offers tips to solve specific problems.  His tip on saving Ellis Island images of passenger lists will be handy now that the “function is disabled” on the site!  [1/22/08]

Donna’s Picks: Week of January 13, 2008

Here are some posts from genealogy blogs that I really enjoyed this week.  If you missed any of these posts, be sure to check these out!

From FamHist, Fifty Questions for Family History Interviews provided some great examples of questions we should ask our relatives.  I wish I had asked my grandparents these questions.  And I’m sure my nieces and nephews would love to one day read my parents’ answers when they’re no longer here to tell their stories in person.  While it’s not exactly the Proust Questionnaire, they will certainly get your relatives talking about their own history! [1/17/08]

From Genea-Musings, read Online Research Strategy for Russell Smith. We all have an ancestor like Russell Smith that’s still avoiding being found, and Randy offers a very systematic and methodical approach to using some of the best online sources.  I’ve used most of these myself, but without writing it down in this way who knows what I missed?  Try these thirty-six-plus resources the next time you search for ancestors online.  [1/15/08]

100 Years in America posted Snapshots of the World Back in 1908.  Lisa posed the challenge to other bloggers: Where was your family in 1908?  Twenty-one bloggers responded and wrote about their families and the world in which they lived one hundred years ago.  Read this round-up for links to some intriguing posts.  [1/13/08]

At Tracing the Tribe, Schelly writes about Helene Berr: France’s Anne Frank.  Helene Berr wrote a journal describing life as a Jewish girl in Nazi-occupied Paris.  She died in Bergen-Belsen in 1945, and her account speaks of both the horrors and the hopes of the time.  I’m looking forward to the English translation – thanks to Schelly for alerting us all to this worthy read. [1/14/08]

And now for something completely different… The Genealogue has returned!  Chris gives us the Top Ten Worst Ways to Begin a Family History.  Don’t try this at home, kids, but do take the time to read this hilarious parody. [1/16/08]

This concludes this week’s edition of “Donna’s Picks” – I hope you’ll like them too.