Plus Edition Article

(+) Tracing the History of Your House

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Perhaps you have spent a lot of effort studying your family’s history. However, have you ever considered studying the history of the family’s home – either the home in which you live or perhaps the ancestral home in which your parents or grandparents lived? To be sure, many families may have lived in the same house, sharing the joys and tragedies of family life throughout the years. Are you curious who they were and perhaps what their experiences were? Who built your house? When was it built, and by whom? What did it cost? Who were the previous owners and residents? What did the interior and exterior originally look like? Those questions can usually be answered by a bit of investigation. In fact, you can create a social genealogy: facts about the owners and residents of the house.

House research is quite similar to genealogy research, often looking at the same records: old maps, deeds, and books. Through research, you can discover who lived in your home and probably what they did for a living. In short, you become a house detective.

(+) How to Preserve Newspaper Clippings

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Many family members collect newspaper clippings of marriages, death notices, birth announcements, school graduation announcements, and similar items. If kept under proper conditions, these newspapers clippings may last for generations. The key phrase in that statement is “if kept under proper conditions.”

In fact, there are several things you will want to do to preserve the information:

(+) How to Host a Successful Huge Genealogy Conference

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

I attended a great genealogy, history, and heritage conference this past week with thousands of attendees. I have been to the same conference in the past, as well as to other genealogy conferences that attracted up to 20,000 or so attendees. I also attend some conferences that attract from a few hundred to perhaps 1,000 attendees, all held by organizers who would like to attract many more people.

When I compare the larger events to the smaller ones, I am struck by the fact that there is not a lot of difference in the amount of effort required of the organizers. Attracting 1,000 attendees appears to require about as much work as attracting 15,000. The conference organizers simply do things a bit differently, and the result attracts larger crowds.

I thought I would share my observations. Perhaps these remarks might help increase the attendance of your next conference.

Practice Makes Perfect

(+) How Long Does a Flash Drive Last?

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Flash drives have generally replaced Blu-Ray disks, DVD-ROM disks, CD-ROM disks, floppy disks, magnetic tape, and even old-fashioned punch cards as the preferred method of storing backup copies of computer data. Indeed, these tiny devices are capable of storing as much as 256 gigabytes of data for reasonable prices, and even higher capacities are available, although perhaps at somewhat unreasonable prices. (“Reasonable prices” are defined as prices that are lower than purchasing equivalent storage capacity on CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, and Blu-Ray disks.) If history repeats itself again, even today’s unreasonably-priced flash drives will be cheaper within a very few years.

(+) Endangered Species: CD and DVD Disks

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

CD-ROM disks and the newer DVD-ROM plastic disks have been the standard of data storage for years. However, that is rapidly changing. The disks may last a long time, but it appears that CD and DVD disk READERS are about to disappear.

A well-prepared genealogist will handle the change easily. However, anyone who ignores the change in technology will be left with a stack of plastic disks that are about as useful as the old computer punch cards.

(+) How to Obtain Information from the 1950 and Later Census Records

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Anyone who has been researching U.S. ancestors for very long is probably familiar with the U.S. census records. The census records of 1940 and earlier are publicly available; anyone may view them. However, the census records of 1950 and later are sealed and not available to descendants until 72 years after the date of the census. Or are they?

Click on the above image of a 1950 census form to view a larger version

In fact, genealogists can obtain limited information from the 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and even the 2010 U.S. census records. To be sure, the information available is limited, and the fees are high. However, this service is valuable to some people.

(+) Why We All Need to Ignore Our Old Ideas about Filing Systems

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

A recent discussion in this newsletter’s comments at the end of my Downsizing and Going Paperless article at http://goo.gl/nafMPm has shown that many genealogists do not understand the power and ease of use available in modern computerized filing systems. This article is an attempt to clear some of the mysteries.

Most of us are old enough that we were trained to organize paper files in folders and filing cabinet drawers in some hierarchical manner. For filing papers about people, we were taught to perhaps file first by surname, and then by first and middle names. For locations, we were taught to file first by country, then by state or province, then perhaps by county, then by city or town, and lastly perhaps by street address. And so on and so on. Those systems have always worked well with paper-based files, and many of us tend to use the same thought process when creating computer files. However, these hierarchical filing methods often are not the best method possible with today’s technology. For instance, if you have a filing cabinet for genealogy materials, and you file a note about a particular person under the surname of “Axelrod,” where do you file information about the family’s homestead in Nebraska so that you can find it again when searching for all your Nebraska ancestors?

(+) Communicating in the Cemeteries

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Communicating in the cemeteries??? No, I am not referring to communications with or amongst the “long-term residents” of a cemetery. Instead, I’m writing about communications for visitors to a cemetery. Namely, the genealogists who visit a cemetery looking for information about deceased relatives.

I generally try to visit a cemetery with a friend or two. We mentally divide the cemetery into sections, and then each person searches through his or her section alone. The other friends are doing the same in a different section. I have done this many times and suspect that you have, too. Having two or more people involved increases the enjoyment of the search as well as the safety of everyone involved.

There are disadvantages, however. Upon discovering a particular tombstone, you may have to shout to the other person to make them aware of your discovery. In a large cemetery, the other person(s) may be some distance away, making shouting impractical.

(+) Does Your Genealogy Society Have a Blog?

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Individuals, non-profits, and companies publish blogs for a variety of reasons. Some blogs are launched for marketing purposes; others are posted just for fun. However, I will suggest that all genealogy societies should have a blog. In fact, a genealogy society’s blog is generally much more effective than a static web page or printed and mailed newsletters.

Here are a few reasons for starting a society blog:

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