26 March 2009

Paper or Plastic?

In a banquet speech that must have been at least ten years ago, I made the following comment (which is fiction, by the way):

"After Smithton County had their county marriage records digitized, the county board contemplated what to do with the originals. In an effort to conserve space, save money, and express concern for the environment, they decided to submit them to the local paper recycling center. Board President Wannabee Paula Tician commented 'this allows us to reduce county expenses and even lets dead people help with recycling.' The next time you get to 'choose' between 'paper' and 'plastic,' your great-grandparents' marriage license might literally be 'in the bag.'"

Just something to think about.

Footnote's 1930 Census and "omit" OCR searches

Footnote.com released it's 1930 census index and images today. Interactivity is higher here than with images at other sites. Some will love the interactivity. I'm pretty much a get in there and get the record kind of person--looking at adjacent pages too. I'm not certain how much time I would spend adding images and other sources to each entry for my ancestor.

My parents are not listed in the 1930 Census. My grandparents are, but I'll have to wait until 1950 until my parents are enumerated.

Those who like interacting with the census will really like the Footnote.com index to 1930 and will be pleased to hear they are adding more. More indexes online is always a good thing, but there are ways you can search at Ancestry.com you can't quite do at Footnote.com .

Footnote.com now as an option to "omit OCR searches" from search results. YEAH! There are a few more improvements I would like to see, but this is a step in the right direction.

23 March 2009

1940 Census Substitute?

I am wondering outloud here:

Why did Ancestry.com release what they are calling a 1940 census substitute? The actual 1940 census will be released in 3 years--scheduled for 2012. That's not all that far in the future.

Ancestry released a series of directories for the 1890 era with the same intent several years ago. I can understand that, given that much of the 1890 census no longer exists. Also it would be nice if Ancestry continued to expand this part of their online collection.

There were several privately published census substitutes for states whose 1790 or 1800 census schedules were similarly destroyed. That kind of "substitute" makes perfect sense. In those cases, tax lists were usually used as the substitute.

For 1890 and 1940, use of the word "substitute" is a poor one in my opinion. For pre-1850 censuses, tax lists were a reasonable substitute given the individuals likely listed on each record. Census records only listed heads of household and tax lists generally listed male property owners. During the pre-1850 census era there was a high proportion of census enumerees who also appeared on tax lists. While I do not have concrete proof of this, it seems reasonable.

Fast forward to the substitutes for 1890 and 1940. Those censuses were every name censuses. One of their goals was to list every resident of the United States. City directories make no claim to listing every name living in a town. It seems to this writer that the use of the word "substitute" is a poor one for censuses of the 1890 and 1940 era. I'm glad to have the directories online, don't get me wrong. It is just that the word choice for the title is poor one.

And why we need a "substitute" for a record that will be released just a little over three years is beyond me as well.

21 March 2009

Village Genealogical Society

Thanks to the Village Genealogical Society for having me speak at their seminar today.

I had a good time and I hope all the attendees did as well.

The direct link for the Library of Virginia's Land Patent Search site we discussed is here.

If there is another link you need from the workshop, email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com and I will post it here.

More information about my trip to Salt Lake and Ft. Wayne can be viewed on our site as well:

18 March 2009

Philip Troutfetter's Colorado Divorce

It did not take me as long to find it as I thought.

Regular readers know that I'm searching for information on Phillip Troutfetter, a cousin of mine who owned a newspaper in 1890s Kansas, speculated in land in Colorado, speculated in women in Colorado, worked as a journalist in Cuba, and was involved in mining speculation in Columbia. All before he was supposedly arrested in Boston working as a waiter in a restaurant.

A little searching turned up his divorce in Colorado Springs. The actual records are indexed and are on the index is on the Colorado State Archives website. An email to the archives resulted in the fee for copies.

Philip and Violet are listed as "Troutfitter," which I found with a wildcard search. Thank goodness for those.

Update on Accessing Michigan Vital Records Online

I don't even have ancestors in Michigan and I'm trying to get into this site.

Miriam Robbins Midkiff's blog mentioned a back-door approach to the Michigan death certificates that are currently on and offline.

Visit here:


Miriam's blog entry is here with a few more details, but this link should get you in.


Actually, my wife has an ancestor who was in Detroit in the 1720s, but that's a little early for vital records.

17 March 2009

Seeking Michigan Dot Org

This website, http://www.seekingmichigan.org/(containing Michigan death certificates among other things), has been bringing up "cannot display" messages for several hours now.

Apparently they were the success of their own PR.

Maybe when the initial interest dies down I can have another look.

Suggestion for Footnote

I really like Footnote.com and the images it currently has.

One suggestion I would like to see implemented is the ability to search all but ONE database (or all but two, etc.). For some searches one database or another seems to overwhelm the results and I'd like to search everything but one or two databases.

Just an idea.

16 March 2009

Genealogy Week at Carl Sandburg College Completed

Last week, I completed my 11th annual "Genealogy Week" at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Our numbers were slightly down, but all in all, things went well. Those who want to see our topics can view them on our site (at least until I take them down).

Based upon the interest and response, I am putting together a monthly "problem-solving" class to be offered at the college in Galesburg. Tentatively we will meet once a month to discuss research problems of those in the class. If you live near Galesburg, Illinois, and are interested please let me know.

Genealogy Week 2010 will be 8-13 March 2010. Watch our site for details.

We are also considering a few other offerings in the fall of 2009. Stay tuned--email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com for details when they become available. Suggestions are welcome as well.

Can You Read It?

This comes from a court case in Champaign County, Illinois in the 1860s. It really is not too difficult to read. The individual who signed this document (he was brought up on charges of disturbing the peace or something like that) married a cousin of my wife.

13 March 2009

Genealogy Workshop Near Little Rock

I'm in the final stages of getting ready for an upcoming workshop sponsored by the Village Genealogical Society on 21 March 2009 in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.

Topics are:

Researching the Entire Family
Problem-Solving Applied to Genealogy
I've Found it: Now What?
Tried and Tested Tidbits

There should be something for just about every research level and a handout is included with your registration. The Society is still accepting registrations and would love to have you join them at their workshop.

Those who would like to register still can by contacting the society's workshop coordinator at J44F65@yahoo.com. You might not get a box lunch due to the short time frame, but they are still accepting registrations and can get you a handout. Walk-ins are welcomed, but they would appreciate knowing if you'll be attending so adequate copies can be made.

And regular readers of the blog of my Case File Clues column are welcome to come up and introduce themselves during our breaks in the workshop.

08 March 2009

News from the Back of the Filing Cabinet

Some readers may have noticed slightly fewer blog postings here at Rootdig.com. There are several reasons which I'll briefly explain here.

Ancestry.com's blog has taken on a new format and I am no longer writing regular columns them. It was a good run, but definitely time to make a change. As some of you know, I started writing a weekly column for Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter the last week in December. A few weeks later, we christened the column with the title "Casefile Clues." I love writing weekly again, but it has taken me a little while to get back in the swing of crunching out something every seven days. For the most part my column will focus on documents and families on which I have personally worked. Locating new material keeps me busy. My column is a part of the "plus" edition of Eastman's newsletter at http://www.eogn.com. I am also blogging briefly about the columns on my new site http://www.casefileclues.com. The articles themselves are housed on Eastman's site, but www.casefileclues.com is a way for me to keep tabs on what I have written so that I don't repeat myself.

In a slightly different vein, I started "Genealogy Tip of the Day," a blog with a (hopefully) different short family history research tip each and every day. Readers can post comments and follow up thought there as those items are open to comments.

The "Famous Census" site has also been brought back at http://www.famouscensus.com. Content is added there slowly as time allows. We do have our contests again like we had several years ago. There are several open contests on the site right now, including Frankenstein author Mary Shelley and Country-Western singer Hank Williams Sr., just to name a few. Suggestions for image additions are welcome, but contest ideas usually are self-generated.

I'm also working on my speaking and lecturing schedule for Fall 2009, 2010 and beyond. I will be posting an updated schedule in the next week or so. Anyone interested in bringing me to present at their seminar can contact me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com. Thanks.

04 March 2009

Still Some Room in Genealogy Week in Galesburg, Illinois

There are still some spaces in my week of workshops at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. This is our tenth year of holding the workshops.

Days and Topics are:

9 March 2009-Using Ancestry.com
10 March 2009-Using Footnote.com
11 March 2009-Using FamilySearch.org
12 March 2009-Using Land Records
13 March 2009-Genealogy Problem Solving
14 March 2009-Using Non-English Language Records

Questions can be emailed to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com. Your best bet for registration at this point is to call--there's likely not really time for mail-in registrations to arrive. Every day is $40 (handout included, but lunch is not). Each day is limited to 20 registrants.

03 March 2009

Organization of the Ancestry.com website

I've blogged briefly about this before, but it still frustrates me. I just do not like the organization of the Ancestry.com website. I wanted to look for someone in the 1841 UK census today and going directly to their homepage took me forever by the time I waited for all the things to load up, etc. etc. It just does not feel like it was created by people who actually use it on a daily basis.

I made a page of links that I use quite a bit for navigating through the main databases I use at Ancestry.com. The page is http://www.rootdig.com/ancestry.html. It loads fast for me and goes right to where I want. I need to add a couple of things (one is the 1841 UK census), but I prefer it to the organization of the Ancestry.com site.

Just my two cents.

Adding Some 1841 and 1851 UK Famous Census Images

We are expanding our offerings on our famous census pages and have added some entries from the 1841 and 1851 UK Census. Currently added images are for the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, and Charles Darwin. More are coming and suggestions are welcome at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

Can You Read It?

This comes from a census entry. Interestingly enough, Ancestry.com has the name interpreted "correctly"and it doesn't appear that the right rendering is from a user submission. We'll post the correct version of this name after we've had some guesses or interpretations.
For now, I'm not saying the census year or the location as I don't want anyone using Ancestry.com to find him that way.

02 March 2009

Can You Read It?

It has been a while since we did one of these. This comes from a will ca. 1906 in Champaign County, Illinois. This one should not be too hard.
Ideas can be posted below. I do know what this one is supposed to be.