Category Archives: Genealogy Education

Ultimate Packing List for GRIP

Are you heading to GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh) in two weeks? I’ll be there this year taking the Practical Genetic Genealogy course.

Last year I had a great time a GRIP in the Advanced Land Research: Locating, Analyzing, Mapping course. Not only did I learn about land research I also discovered what to bring and what not to bring to GRIP. Staying in the dorms was great. I was able to wake up just in time for breakfast, take a break before dinner and hang out with people in the evenings all within a short distance.

Warning: This list is meant for those who like to pack everything they own and are driving. If you are flying or like to pack minimally, this list is not for you.

The Ultimate Packing List for GRIP:

For the dorms:
(Remember these are dorm rooms and not hotel rooms. Although they are minimally furnished, you might want a few extra comforts.)

  • XL-Twin Sheets – The beds have sheets with possibly the lowest thread count available. The bottom sheet is not fitted and slides around the mattress. If you like your sheets to feel good and not move, bring your own (remember that the beds are dorm beds and are extra long).
  • Blanket – The bed has a blanket. Again it is minimal. If you get cold easily, pack an extra blanket (or a comforter if you are really cold).
  • Pillow – If your head has certain needs for you to sleep, bring your own pillow.
  • Towel – There are towels, but they are thin. Pack a good towel and use the supplied towel as a bath mat.
  • Soap/Shampoo – This is not a hotel. So pack what ever you need to take a shower and hand soap for the sink.
  • Tissues – There was toilet paper, but no tissues in the rooms last year. Although you might want to pack toilet paper with more than one ply if you like that sort of thing.
  • Light – Some of the rooms had desk lights, others didn’t. So pack a small clip-on light so that you don’t have to navigate the room in the dark before bed.
  • Power strip – This is a must for any trip. I think I have stayed in one hotel that had the required number of power outlets for all my stuff.
  • Ethernet cable/router – There is wired internet in the dorm rooms. If you have a tablet or ultra-thin laptop, you’ll want to make your own wireless internet. I brought an old router with me last year and it worked great. If don’t require wireless internet, make sure to bring an ethernet cable to hook yourself up. (The classrooms have wireless internet.)
  • Chargers – You don’t want your devices to die.
  • Clothes – Apparently genealogists on a college campus don’t think it’s appropriate to go to class in their PJs.
  • Sneakers – There is a walking group (or there would have been last year if it hadn’t stormed everyday) and you will want comfortable shoes to explore the campus after dinner.
  • Snacks/Drinks – There is a fridge and microwave in the rooms. So bring some extra goodies to sustain you.
  • Door stopper – If you want to be social, this will keep your door open.
  • Decorations – It is a dorm room. So maybe you want to display your style with a poster, stuffed animal, fancy pillow, or something else.

For class:

  • Laptop/tablet – I know that some people take notes with paper. I don’t understand those people. But I loved having my laptop with me last year and being able to explore websites as they were discussed.
  • Writing utensil – In case you have homework or a worksheet that you have to fill out.
  • Layers – The classroom I was in last year was hot. Another classroom was freezing. So bring layers until you figure out what temperature your room will be for the week.
  • Business cards to give your new friends

What did I forget? Add your packing tips in the comments.

November 14 – Twitter for #Genealogy at ACPL

Want to know more about Twitter?
Trying to decipher symbols like # and @ appear on your television?
Wondering how to become part of the Twitter genealogy community?
Curious how to share your family history in 140 characters?

Come to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana on November 14 at 2PM. As the first in this year’s “WinterTech Series” from the Genealogy Center,  I’ll be presenting “Twitter for #Genealogy.”

We’ll be exploring Twitter terms, like tweets, usernames, hashtags, replys, and more. You’ll learn how to participate in genealogy conferences using Twitter in person and from home. Plus, you’ll be amazed at what the genealogy community able to do 140 characters at a time.

Spend the day at ACPL to take advantage of the 2nd largest genealogical collection in the United States and hear Steve Myers’ present “International Research” at the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana’s meeting at 7PM.

WinterTech brochure (PDF)

Isle of Canes by Elizabeth Show Mills – Book Recommendation

Everyone knows that Elizabeth Shown Mills can write an epic book on source citations. But how many of you are aware that she can also write an epic historical fiction?

I just finished reading her book Isle of Canes. Never before have I seen a fictional narrative include source citations at the end. Elizabeth Shown Mills takes all the sources that she has found while researching the families that lived in the Isle of Canes in Louisiana and interweaves the facts into a captivating story.

The Isle of Canes is a region between the Cane River and the Little River in Louisiana, south of Natchitoches. This region was settled by blacks who gained their freedom in the late 1700s. The mixing of the races (white, black, Native American) and the languages (French, Spanish, English) creates a whole new culture for the citizens on the Isle. These free blacks became enterprising men and women and owned vast plantations and even slaves.Throughout the book, the family lives through slavery, freedom, war, and reconstruction.

Little has been written about this minority of blacks that gained their freedom and became the masters. ESM does a wonderful job of bringing their history to life. I highly recommend reading Isle of Canes.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this review in any way. The above links are Amazon affiliate links. That means that a small percentage of your purchase will come to me. You do not pay more and I do not see your purchase.

Generations Project – Does Anyone Care About Regular People?

When Who Do You Think You Are? was on TV this year, everyone in the genealogy community was ecstatic. Everyone was tweeting and blogging about it. Everyone was commenting about each episode on Facebook. Radio shows were devoted to it. Everyone was excited to see genealogy on television.

Yet everyone complained that they wished that regular people were show on the episodes. There is another show that does this well. But for some reason the genealogy community doesn’t talk about it. The Generations Project on BYUTV has been showing episodes about regular people doing their genealogy for the last 12 weeks. But I haven’t little to no discussion about the show this season.

Does that mean that genealogists don’t really care about watching regular people research their genealogy? If it’s not on network TV during prime time, does it not matter?

I’ve watched every episode of The Generations Project (25 episodes in 2 seasons). I watched them all online on their website. I have enjoyed watching real people research their ancestors’ lives and learn more about themselves. Am I the only one that was watching? Why haven’t you been watching?

I do have to mention that the publicity for the show this season was lacking. Their Facebook page was rarely updated. Plus they kept moving the start date of the season. Did everyone just forget about it or does no one really like it?

Book Review – A Better Place by Susan Smart

I had the opportunity this past week to read and review a new genealogy book. A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario (Amazon affiliate link) by Susan Smart is describes the funeral practices in Ontario from pioneer days to the early 20th century. Susan Smart describes the book as not just focusing on death and dying, but on the aftermath.

The first part of the book shows how burying the dead has changed over time.  This includes a detailed look at a pioneer burial, Victorian funeral customs, cemetery evolution, funeral ettiquette and more. In the second part, the author gives some clues about researching the death and burial of your ancestors.

Many of the overall themes of the book are the same in Ontario as they are in England and the United States. What set this book apart is the details that relate to Ontario alone. The author uses first person accounts taken from family and county histories to illustrate the times. One such story details how a man died in his home miles from the nearest neighbor and how the wife had to find a way to bury him in the middle of winter with only 2 small children to help. I had never thought about how difficult this would be.

Speaking of winter, I knew that it was very difficult to dig a grave when the ground was frozen. Many had to store their dead until the spring. This book details a unique feature of Ontario cemeteries: the octagonal shaped tombs that stored caskets in Ontario cemeteries until the ground thawed. The author states that this design is only found in Ontario.

The book uses many black and white photos to illustrate funeral details. Many of the photos were taken at the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston, Texas. The photos are of the displays at the museum. I would have liked to see photos of Ontario women wearing mourning attire, instead of using a photo of mourning outfits on display. Other photos are of churches and cemeteries in Ontario as well as funeral memorabilia.

As previously mentioned, the author uses lots of family and county histories to give an inside look at Ontario’s past. The bibliography at the end of the book is filled with these sources. It also states which ones are avaiable thorough Internet Archive (at the time the book was written). I downloaded a few that give details of where my ancestors lived. In the second part of the book, the author gives some hints about how to research the death of your Ontario ancestors. I found a few new websites in this section and a few more ideas to help break down my brick walls.

This book gave me a great history of burial customs in Ontario and how they were influenced by the traditions in England and the United States. The resources included in the book will ensure that I continue to learn more about my ancestors’ lives.

If you have ancestors from Ontario and want to know more about their burial traditions, consider picking up a copy of this book. Even if you don’t have Ontario ancestors, this book can provide you with a better understanding of the ever changing funeral customs.

Disclosure: Dundurn sent me a complimentary copy to write a fair review. Amazon affiliate links give me a small portion of your purchase price with no extra cost to you.

Check out more genealogy books that I have read and recommend in my Amazon store.

Book Recommendation – Journey Takers

Yesterday I finished reading The Journey Takers (Amazon affiliate link) by Leslie Albrecht Huber. I highly recommend anyone who is interested in family history to read this book.

Leslie takes readers on the journeys of her immigrant ancestors. I love to how she combines the facts she has about her ancestors, the history of the time and her own visions of what her ancestors were like. It’s a great example for anyone thinking about writing a book on their own family history.

But here is the part I liked the most: She tells about how her own life interacted with her genealogy research. She walks the reader through trying to get research done at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City with a small child. She writes about taking her children on a trip along the Oregon Trail. Anyone who is trying to juggle families and genealogy should definitely read this book.

Check out other books I recommend in my Amazon Store.

Disclosure: I was not paid for this review. I purchased this book for myself. If you purchase the book through the links above, I will receive a small percentage of the price at no cost to you.

Interview with 1940 Census Enumerator

Last spring I came across the BackStory with the American History Guys podcast. The show takes a topic from today and gives it historical perspective across the history of the United States. This podcast entertained my husband and me on our trip to and from FGS this past summer.

The December show took a look at the census. A topic that interests all genealogists. What I found most interesting about this episode was the interview they did with one of the 1940 census enumerators. There is even an extended interview with Al Marquart, who got his census job after being unable to find work after finishing high school. I love that one of the reasons he was hired was because the supervisor could read his handwriting.

Check out the podcast and make sure you listed to the extended interview with Al Marquart. I’m sure it will get you excited about the 1940 census!

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Week 38 – Second Life

Challenge 38 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy written by Amy Coffin is:

Week 38: Investigate Second Life: a 3D virtual world community. Check out the presentation What is Second Life? This learning tool has all the appearances of a video game, but there actually are vibrant genealogy social communities and discussions within the network. Genealogy Wise maintains a group of Second Life genealogists and a calendar of upcoming discussions. You do not have to join Second Life for this challenge. The goal is just to give genealogists exposure to this type of genealogy learning tool. If you have a blog, you may jot down your impressions of Second Life if you wish.

So I have been spending time in Second Life for a year and a half now. I love the genealogy community there and how people from all over the world come together to discuss genealogy. I’ve learned a lot in the various presentations that have been made. I’ve helped others work at solving their brick walls. I have found a cousin. Check out the Union of Genealogy Groups calendar to find out all the genealogy events that are happening in Second Life.

Also new in the Second Life genealogy community is the new Second Life Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists. I was one of the members that helped to get this chapter off the ground. I am currently serving as the chapter’s secretary. We meet the second Thursday of each month at 5:30 SLT (Second Life Time) or 8:30 ET.

Try out Second Life for yourself. It does have a learning curve and requires a good (but not the newest, most expensive) computer, but once you spend some time there you will see what a wonderful community has been formed. Be sure to friend my avatar, Tina Ubble, and let me know you need any help learning about Second Life.

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Week 37 – Roots Television

The challenge for week 37 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy written by Amy Coffin is:

Watch Roots Television. This is a wonderful web site that has the look and feel of a genealogy television channel online. You can watch episodes on various genealogy topics right on your computer. Your challenge this week is quite easy. Watch Roots Television and enjoy. The goal is to practice continuing genealogy education through video. If you’re a blogger, write about one or more of the episodes. What did you learn? Did the video touch on an aspect of your own genealogy research?

See my previous post about Roots Television. I love watching the conference sessions there and wish more were available.

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Week 36 – FHL Catalog

Amy Coffin‘s 36th challenge for 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy is:

Check out the Family History Library catalog. In terms of its library collections, there are no rivals. From this web page, you can search by place, surname, keyword, title, film/fiche, author, subject, and call number. Try all of them. Don’t do actual research with this exercise. Instead just click links and see all the catalog has to offer. Many of these items can be rented for a small fee and viewed at your local Family History Center. You do not have to be a member of the LDS Church to utilize this service. If you write a genealogy blog, tell readers what you found during this exercise, or describe the types of materials you’ve received through this genealogy tool.

Place search is my favorite way to search the FHL catalog. It’s the easiest way to find all the material available for a particular county. Make sure to click on the “View Related Places” button in the top right corner after you do your search. If you search for a county, then it will show the towns in that county. The towns will have new and different records than the county as a whole.

The other way I like to use the catalog is through the film search. If you use the Family Search Pilot or Beta sites, often the transcriptions you find there will reference a film number. Enter that number into the catalog and you can find out where the information was taken from and then you are able to order it for yourself.