Friday, February 28, 2014

City Directories. The book you just can't put down!

City directories can be a source of some fascinating information about your ancestors. First of all everybody is listed alphabetically so you can find all your family members (or possible family members) in one spot.You can see which sons and daughters got married and are still living in their parents' home with their spouses and children (much like the census). But it will also show you the children who married and moved to another address. City directories give you a little compact snapshot of where your family was in a certain year. All living together and loving life!

So you say the city directories give you much of the same information that you might find in a census. This is true. But you can find the in-between years with the city directories. You may find a more detailed description of where your ancestors worked. If they owned the company, you will find that noted. You might also be able to determine when a person died or left the area.

But more than that you will see the life style of your family in the ads that make up the first part of the directory. Next there will be a section that will give you clues about where to look for records for your ancestors. Lists of churches, cemeteries, schools, organizations/clubs, to mention just a few.

Now lets go back and take a look at a Toledo, Ohio city directory from the early 1900's to get an idea of what my family's life was like back in the good old days.

Here is a wake up call. There were 2 high schools for the whole area. I had never heard of either one of them. So does this tell me there weren't that many teenagers in the area at that time or does it tell me that only a select few went on to high school? By the way, if you are looking for teenagers in this time period, the schools were Mann High School and Mitchell High School.

The primary schools and secondary schools taught students in two languages - English and German. This tells me there were a lot of German immigrants in the area. But it also raises the question of when did this stop. Was it the first world war? 

There was a Home for Friendless Women. Missing a female ancestor? This might be a place to look. But more importantly, why friendless women?

There were several orphan homes. Another place to look for an ancestor. But, again, why so many orphan homes.

There was a Babies' Home. There is only one question here and that is -- why?

As you can see there is much to be found in a local city directory. There are so many questions and so many clues. It will be like a book you cannot put down.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We Are All Related

Ever wonder why when you attend a genealogy conference everyone is friendly. You can easily start a conversation with the person seated next to you at a lecture. You strike up a conversation in the library with total strangers. You step into an elevator and everyone treats you like a long lost relative. Well, the reason is because you probably are. Related, that is!

But are we and can we prove it? And when I say prove it, I don't mean because Aunt Emma said so.

A really great concept came into being a few years ago. It was the idea of cluster or sideways genealogy. Personally, I believe this is the only way to successfully trace your family. Yes, you have to trace your parents to parents to parents, but eventually if you are going to have to go sideways to break down those ever present brick walls. And this is when your family expands.

I have noticed lately that there are efforts to really expand our families into  one big colossal, ginormous family tree and just connect everyone. Granted, the further back you go, the less people you find. So eventually you are going to run out of ancestors and your family trees are going start overlapping. 

We all know that there is a lot of undocumented information out there online. We come across it every day. It can be as blatant as someone's 4X great grandfather who was born in 1772 and died in1775. The problem is that when this information goes into a worldwide family tree, that branch of the family is totally worthless.

Please understand I am not against this concept of the world wide family tree. I think it could be a great way to tear down brick walls. To cross the ocean back to the old country. It is just that there is such an opportunity for misinformation and we all need to be so aware of it. 

I encourage you to contribute to these worldwide family trees. But please verify the information you find on these trees. It goes back to the basic rule of an application to a lineage society. Do not enter any information that is not on the document you have in your hand.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Where Memories Are Made

The first conference I went to. . . . I packed my entire office. That was the last time I ever did that. OGS, Akron 2005.

How can I forget the OGS Conference in Cincinnati when I bought so many books in the exhibit hall that I stalled an elevator between floors on my way to check out from the hotel.

And then there was the OGS Conference in Columbus when my grandson decided to be born early. Watched that on unfold on Facebook.

And we don't talk about the time in Columbus when my Suburban was rear ended while I was in a lecture about Genealogy software programs.

You can be sure that if you attend a conference, be it your first or your tenth, there will be memories. 

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This year's conferences - OGS, NGS and FGS - are beginning to look like excellent memory-makers, especially the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference at Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio. There is something for everybody including the kids. Take the whole family. Enjoy the fantastic indoor water park. Your kids and grandkids can explore the wonderful world of genealogy in the exhibit hall. On Friday you can all enjoy an honest to goodness Ohio pig roast. Perhaps your family can attend a lineage society's luncheon. (Guests are welcome to attend special events).

And, on Saturday, OGS has scheduled the Junior Safari Expedition Camp. Family history for kids ages 5-18. This will be a fun way for the youngest members of your family to find out what "this genealogy thing" is all about. 
Admission in $30 and includes a fun afternoon at the water park. 

The OGS Conference runs from 30 April - 3 May 2014.
For the discounted early registration you must have your registration in by March 30,2014. You can register online and pay with a major credit card. 
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This year the National Genealogical Society will hold its conference in Richmond, Virginia at the Greater Richmond Convention Center and the Marriott Hotel. With 4,000 room nights already reserved, this conference is looking like one of the most popular conferences in recent years. And, why not? The conference is surrounded by American history. The Colonies, the Revolutionary War, Civil War. Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Washington D.C. to the north. 

Unfortunately, all six downtown conference hotels are completely booked. There are hotels available in the suburbs and near the airport, but there are no shuttles available. Rental cars are available at discounted rates from Dollar Rent A Car. Parking in the convention center parking garage is $6. Other garages in the area are more expensive.

Roommate connections are available on the NGS website.

March 24, 2014 is the final day for early registration. You can register online at 

The conference brochure is available online. There is too much going on at this event to even begin to cover here so check it out online.

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The Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference is in San Antonio, Texas, this year. I have never been to San Antonio, but I have spent a lot of time in Fort Worth, Texas, at horse shows and I must say Texas is one of my favorite states. Love the people! They are so friendly. Love the land, you can see forever. However it can be hot there and this conference runs from 27-30 August 2014. So my first piece of advice is hydrate. Drink lots of water.

I have been to two FGS conferences and I would highly recommend that you attend this conference if at all possible. You will not be disappointed. There is a huge variety of topics with some of the best speakers in the world of genealogy. Great door prizes and special events. 

One of the best parts of the FGS conference is Societies Day. If you are an officer or want to be active in the genealogy community, you will want to attend this part of the conference. This year, for the first time, there will be a half-day workshop designed to bring your society up to speed in the 21st century with management principles that will help promote your group. 

The schedule for this conference is still being finalized so you will have to wait a little for all the great details of this conference. Registration begins in March 2014. In the meantime you can make your online hotel reservations at the Marriott Riverwalk.

I must admit these three societies have planned some amazing events for this conference season. It will be difficult to choose. But I promise. you will make memories wherever you go.