Monday, December 19, 2011

Create Your Own Reference Library - Part 2

In part 1 of this topic we discussed key book titles for those family historians who want to start their own reference library.  These items are not of the type that you will look up family names, but will serve as a quick reference to research such as a dictionary might. 

Another part of my personal reference library is what could be called genealogy "shorts."  Since my love affair with family history began nearly 30 years ago, I have managed to collect dozens (probably more like hundreds) of articles from magazines & periodicals, pages or chapters from "how-to" books, conference & class syllabus pieces, handouts, and some online items.  It didn't take long for these to become a massive pile of loose sheets of paper.

There were several ways these could be organized.  Most of us don't have the space or extensive cataloging skills to maintain a library of all of the magazines in their entirety, so we must manage those portions that are to be kept. 

First, it occurred that one could create a spreadsheet of all of the titles/topics, number each corresponding article, and put them in notebooks.  This would do the trick, but would be too time consuming for a larger collection.  The "paperless" genealogist might opt to scan each item, catalog it as a digital file, and make it full text searchable.

I decided on a simpler hands-on categorizing system.  On one of those days that there was so much snow the road could hardly be located, I sat down with these piles and began to organize them into categories.  Certain topics that pertain to my family tree came to the forefront, as unique areas of research will emerge for you. 

The end result was three three-ring binders with tabs for noting categories.  To give you an idea, following are some of the categories from binder number three:
  • Naming patterns
  • Naturalization
  • Newspapers (includes bibliographies of bibliographies)
  • New Jersey
  • Occupations & work-related records
  • Organizations & Societies
  • Pensions
  • Photographs (history)
  • Palatines
  • Passports
  • Patents (inventors)
  • Quakers
  • Rhode Island
  • State records
  • Switzerland
  • Tax records
  • Ships
  • Wars (chronology of all wars worldwide)
  • Witches
  • World War Draft Registration
  • Works Progress Administration (WPA)
  • War of 1812
One example - under Organizations & Societies, there was an item from the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Millennium Conference syllabus (2000) giving a nice list of large societies, their goals, eligibility & documentation requirements, publications, and activities.  Here we learn that the Society of the Descendants of the Colonial Clergy is open to those who can prove lineal descent of clergymen of any Christian church in the original thirteen colonies, and that they have an archives.  This and several other societies noted were entirely new to me.

Granted, today I might go online "fishing" and find some of the things that are in my genealogy "shorts" files, but for the most part this information represents the most useful information in my personal reference library.  It is topic specific, often written by the best and most experienced genealogists in the field, and now organized to suit my particular research needs.  Does it get any better? 

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown child
Photographer - M. V. Chapman, Benton Harbor

Can you identify the child in this cabinet card?  Do you have knowledge of the photographer? Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.