Saturday, April 25, 2009

Red Cross Records of War Casulaties


A relative/genealogist in Arizona called this to my attention.  I think it is great news for genealogists.

The original Red Cross records of World War I and some of World War II casualties have been found in Geneva, Switzerland at the Red Cross Headquarters.  For many years they have been in storage. 

British historian, Peter Barton, was commissioned to research the identities of World War I casualties that were discovered in a mass grave at Fromelles in Frances.  He was allowed into the basement of the Red Cross Headquarters in Geneva and there discovered the records. Barton estimates there could be 20 million sets of details, entered on card indexes or written into ledgers.  

These records deal with the capture, death, or burial of service men from over 30 nations that were drawn into the conflict.  They include the personal effects of the soldiers, home addresses, along with grave sites.  Before the information was sent to the soldiers' home countries, volunteers logged the information by hand.  

According to the Red Cross Headquarters, Peter Barton is the first researcher who has asked to see them.  The paper records he discovered will be conserved and digitised, beginning this fall. More than 2 million pounds has been set aside for the project.  It is estimated that the digital phase of the project will cost around four million Swiss Francs.  The Red Cross hopes to have the archive of information online by 2014 which marks the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of World War I.  

In addition, Barton discovered that careful record-keeping extended through World War II and to more recent conflicts.  He viewed rows of metal shelves containing millions of personal stories and more index cards in boxes.  

With the opening of dusty cardboard boxes and the use of modern technology, we may eventually know who these soldiers were and where they are buried.  We should be thankful that the Red Cross painstakingly recorded the information and more so that they did not destroy the records with time and age.  You can read the complete story about this in the BBC News.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Do You Have A Genealogy Section?


When I travel, I enjoy stopping at libraries and exploring their genealogy sections and collections.  Usually I go online first to determine if they have a web page and then find anything listed that pertains to genealogy or local history.  You can easily do this by going to Google and then entering the name and state where the library is located, along with the name or the library or just library.  Another place to look for libraries with web pages is at LibrarySpot.com.  

Using Internet is also a good way to determine the hours and location of a library before you get there.  If they don't have a web page, look to see if the town, village or city has a web page. Sometimes their library will be listed on that. 

Yesterday I was traveling and decided to visit a library that I had visited about five years ago. At that time they had a nice genealogy collection, not overly large, but with items that pertained to the genealogy and history of the area.  Sometimes small town libraries have genealogy items that will surprise you! 

The library building is new and modern.  There are labeled pendants above the various sections of the library, such as  Fiction, Young Adult, Non-Fiction, etc.  The shelving units had been turned a different way since my previous visit.  By looking at the pendants I saw a state history section.  Lots of interesting books were there, but nothing significantly genealogically related. 

Finally I asked.  What happened to your genealogy section?  The librarian pointed to about five books behind the desk.  Then at the state history section.  With more visiting, I did learn something else.  All of the genealogical correspondence addressed to the library, plus family materials, are filed in a filing cabinet in the library office.  Those are not listed on their web page and had I not asked, I would not have known of their existence. 

They do have microfilm of old newspapers and indexes of marriages and other vital records, which can be extremely helpful.  The librarian told me that all those other things no longer there were not useful to the genealogists.  She said people just want to read microfilm.  Who made that decision? 

If your library wants to dump their genealogy section, be sure you speak out about the value of the collection.  This can happen when library administration changes.  If the personnel are not interested in genealogy, the library may have a sparse to practically no collection.  Where those "no-longer useful" books went, I have no clue.  Perhaps they were sold at a book sale!  

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Feeding Genealogists


If you feed them, they will come.  Of course, it depends on what you feed them.  While genealogists enjoy food, they also survive on research and information.  

My local society, The North Platte Genealogical Society (North Platte, Nebraska), met last night at the Family History Center in the LDS Church.  It was a typical Nebraska windy day and evening with gusts up to 43 miles per hour.  But, they came out in it because they wanted to learn. 

While many genealogical societies are faltering, ours is surviving.  We provide interesting meetings and programs which makes them WANT to get out in just about anything but a Nebraska blizzard to attend.  They don't go home empty handed.  At each meeting they are given handouts that pertain to the program, research tips and news items about doing research. 

After a brief business meeting last night, we took groups of four people at a time into the room that houses the Family History Center.  Some had been there and others had not.  They learned how to use the Family History Library Catalog and how to order microfilm and microfiche. The new FamilySearch was demonstrated and they learned about the readers and printers.  They were shown the indefinite microfilm and the microfiche that remains there.  We presented a world of research materials there and that can be ordered through the center.  

In case you haven't noticed, there are three video lessons on the Family History Library Catalog web page.  They are great for learning more about using the catalog.  

Will they come back to order microfilm?  I hope they do return to the Family History Center.  If we keep feeding them, they will most likely attend the society meetings.  This means our society is alive and well.  


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Reading Genealogy Blogs

If you are a follower of genealogy blogs, you probably realize they come in a variety of appearances, format and at various time intervals.  You can usually subscribe to them, being notified when there is a new post.  Personally, I prefer to read my blogs daily (and sometimes more often) with my morning cup of tea.  

Following blogs will not only be entertaining, but also rewarding in the way of genealogical ideas, tips and news.  Some of the blogs are more family oriented and others are more on the commercial side of research.  Regardless, they all serve a purpose for the genealogist. 

One of my favorites that updates almost every day and usually several times a day is Genealogy Blog written by Leland Meitzler.  If his name sounds families, it should ... he's the editor of The Genealogical Helper.  Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter by Dick Eastman is another daily update worth reading.  You can also subscribe to his Plus Edition, gaining more information.  

Others I think you will enjoy are Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings.  In his words, "Genealogy Research Is really FUN!"  How true!  Michael Neill of Illinois has two informative blogs.  Rootdig.com and Genealogy Tip of the Day are good reads.  

Professional researcher, Arlene Eakle, offers three blogs.  Her main blog, Arlene Eakle's Genealogy Blog always contains interesting and helpful research information.  She has recently added Arlene Eakle's Tennessee Blog which focuses on researching in that state.  For those researching in Virginia, don't miss out on Arlene Eakle's Virginia Blog.  

If you have not met Ol' Myrt, you must stop by her blog and read her posts.  Follow her at DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Blog.  If you teach genealogy or if you are a Family History Consultant, be sure to check out Teach Genealogy Blog.

Some blogs have a definite theme, such as Ben Sayer's blogs for genealogy software.  If you are a Mac user, be sure to follow his MacGenealogist.com blog.  He also writes PCGenealogist.com which focuses on applications for Windows.  

I always enjoy reading The Ancestry Insider blog.  Just who is that guy anyway?  He provides clues that he works for one of the big genealogy websites and is a staff trainer at a family history center.  He does work in the computer industry and you won't want to miss his vital information.  

If you subscribe to Ancestry.com, be sure to read their Ancestry.com Blog.  The posts are written by people behind the scenes who know and understand their product.  Family Tree Magazine hosts the blog Genealogy Insider which contains a lot of links to web pages of interest to the genealogist, plus a lot more exciting information. 

What or who is the Graveyard Rabbit?  Check it out!  From this you will link to the rabbits' blogs.  There are plenty of rabbits blogging.  Here's just a few.  Be sure to read the March 30th blog at The Mount Timpanogos Graveyard Rabbit.  It is quite amusing how they ordered pizza to be delivered to the cemetery.  Others that are fun to read include The Graveyard Rabbit of Northern Virginia and the Jewish Graveyard Rabbit.  

Then there is my family ... we keep genealogy all in the family.  I have two blogs, Genealogy Lines (which you are reading) and Nebraska Roots and Ramblings.  My daughter writes Growing Up Genealogy in which she expresses her thoughts on having a Mom totally devoted to genealogy.  My sister-in-law writes Those Old Memories, sharing family episodes as well as research ideas.  Together my sister-in-law and I write the blog, You Go Genealogy Girls.  Be sure to read about our research trips and antics!  

Can't get enough of those blogs?  You can find listings of them at geneabloggers and Genealogy Blog Finder.  You will be surprised at how many there are on Internet.  

While some blogs change frequently, others may not.  Keep in mind that people are busy ... after all they should be doing their genealogical research!  

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Getting Out of the Rut

Are you stuck in a rut doing your research?  Do you consistently check databases such as Ancestry.com, FamilySearch and others?  They are all great, but there's even more.  Start searching for databases that are on library, historical society and genealogical society web pages.  There are some amazing things you will want to explore!  Here's a sampling: 

downloadable guides in PDF format
Ohio Death Certificates 1908-1953
Cleveland Necrology File (pre 1975) 
Cleveland News Index (1975 to current) 
Inventory of City, Criss Cross and Telephone Directories 

Illinois During the Civil War 1861-1865 
The Mexican-American War 
Illinois Civil War Newspapers 
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society .... and more 

Index of Local Birth, Death and Marriage Announcements from newspapers 
Local Cemetery Records 
Wyoming Genealogy Resources 

Cemeteries 
Churches 
Census, Directories, Tax Payers and Voters 
History
Military 
Biographies 

Obituary Notebook Index 1896 to present (over 32,000 entries) 
Family Surname Index (over 4,400 entries)

Cemetery Index and List 
Obituary Index 1866-2000 

There's a lot more out there, so start Googling for libraries and societies that have web pages and check them out.