Monday, August 8, 2011

Things Learned at Ancestry Day, July 23 (Part I)

A day (or days) spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for genealogy never disappoints and my two-day visit, July 22-23, was no exception.  The highlight of the trip was the day-long "Ancestry Day" held at the Grand Wayne Center on the 23rd, sponsored by the Allen County Public Library.

In each of the five scheduled sessions of the day, we (me & almost 900 hundred other eager genealogists) were met with enthusiastic speakers, timely topics and new gems of information helpful to anyone doing genealogy online and specifically Ancestry.com.  Even those more seasoned researchers among us picked up some new things.  Some of these were:

    1. Using wildcards for searching on Ancestry.com has been available since the site was born, but until now an asterisk (*) could only be used after three letters.  Recently, they added the ability to place an asterisk or question mark (?) as the first letter, but you still need to have at least an additional three characters.  This is exciting for those whose Gage ancestors were transcribed at Page, allowing a search to look like this:    ?age
    2. The National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) will be releasing images of the 1940 census first on their website, without indexes but browsable.  Ancestry and other companies will immediately begin creating indexes to be released on their respective sites at a later time.
    3. For those who post their family trees on Ancestry in the Public Trees area, that information will always be accessible to them, even if they later drop their Ancestry.com subscription.
    4. Try using the Catalog search under the Search tab to locate a specific database or group of databases.  This is especially useful if you are searching for a common name such as Johnson or Jones, allowing you to filter your results to only that database.  This also allows you to target your searches to that specific database.  Remember to read the complete description of any database you use, learning its scope, limitations, and most importantly, the source of information.
    5. Another option in online family history collaboration, WeRelate.org:   "WeRelate is different from most family tree websites. We take a shared approach to genealogy. By contributing to WeRelate you are helping to build a united family tree containing the best information from all contributors."  I haven't played with this one yet, but at first look it appears to be a genealogical wikipedia.
    6. For those with rare or unusual family history manuscripts or books in their personal collection, consider an exciting possibility from the Allen County Public Library.  They will duplicate the item and have bound a copy for their collection and provide you with an additional bound copy.  The Van Buren District Library has used this service many times and it is definitely a win-win situation, allowing for the duplication of materials at no cost to the owner, and making more publications available to the genealogical public thus preserving it.  Contact the ACPL for more details.
    7. When working with passenger lists, remember that many were created at the port of departure.
    8. Family Tree Maker version 11 is to be released very shortly.
    9. Have you ever noticed while researching at the ACPL that many of the older more rare books are photocopied?  This was the result of an agreement struck between the ACPL and the Newberry Library in Chicago whereby about 35,000 volumes in the Newberry collection were duplicated using the process described in #6 on this list.  A win-win - ACPL received a copy of an otherwise rare or out-of-print book, and the Newberry received a bound copy to place on their shelves, and in turn the originals were able to be taken off the shelves and preserved.
To be continued...
    Nameless Picture of the Day
    Group of four young men, one identified possibly as
    Will Spaulding
    Original housed at the Van Buren County Historical Society
    M1781 

    Can you identify the young men in this photo?  Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail.