Tag Archives: Ancestry

What Kind of Neighbor Are You in The Genealogy Community?

I try to be a friendly, helpful neighbor. I am sure most of you do as well. If any of you follow me on twitter, @Tracingmyfamily, you know that a few weeks ago I was on a rant about those that are not good neighbors.

It started with an innocent email, requesting help breaking down their brick wall. To be perfectly honest, I was thrilled that someone would ask me for help. I replied the same day to the request and asked the sender to please send me ALL the information they have and I would go through it and where it leads me.

I received an email later that day giving me the details of the family in question. I then started a tree on ancestry.com to see what else I could find, I also searched familysearch.org and the records on a state specific web site. (Please understand that I am being vague to protect all sides involved).

I did not find much beyond the information that was given to me. A census record, a few things of that nature. But nothing to take me back any further than what this person had already found. So, I reached out to this person again via email asking for scanned copies of the records that they might already have. I did get a reply that might have answered a few questions I had, but my request for the vital records was ignored.

At this point, I probably put in about 3 hours of research into this family, and did not mind doing it. I then ended up getting sick and quit research all together (including my family). About a week passed and I received another email from said person asking for an update. I replied that I Have been ill and that when I was feeling better I would continue my search.

Fast forward another week, I am still sick and have not moved forward on any research. I receive yet another email, this one was not so nice. The gist of it was they were deeply disappointed in me.

I was more than furious, how does someone that I have NEVER met send me such a mean email. Especially when I was volunteering to help with their research. I ranted on Twitter and most replied that I should be charging and not be doing this for free.

I waited a few days before replying to the email. Which, is very unlike me, I am usually prompt at replying. I wanted to make sure my reply was to the point and not mean in any way.

I finally pulled my thoughts together and began my reply to this person. Using a few bullet points, I explained a few things, such as: I am doing this for free, it took me over 10 years to break a brick wall down and 2 weeks was not enough time, I also have a life which includes family, my research and my business that I need to run as well. My life needs to come before whatever I am doing out of the goodness of my heart. I also advised that if they are looking for prompt answers they should think about hiring a professional to do their research. I then added that I have requested numerous times for vital records which they have not provided to me.

Two days later, I received a reply and to my surprise it was an apology. This person went on and on about how others have said they would help and never follow through.

So, I put this question to all of you. What kind of neighbor are you?

Most people I have met or interacted with in the genealogy neighborhood are helpful. And, to be perfectly honest, I now that my genealogy neighbors/friends are in my corner no matter what I need. From help with my research, to a joke when I need to smile, to a prayer for family/friends/pets when needed.

Please keep in mind when you interact with our genealogy neighborhood, we are a giving bunch. But, we will not tolerate this type of behavior. I believe these saying’s truly fit the situation, “you catch more bees with honey” and “if you cannot play nice, don’t play at all.”

Please help keep our neighborhood friendly!

To pay, or not to pay

Over the past few days I have been looking through Ancestry. com’s service of Expert Connect. Where someone can hire an “expert” to help them with their research. I am all for them having professionals who are looking to find clients to assist. I mean it is only to make it easier for those of us researching our families. I myself would be inclined to ask for a bit of help here and there. But, what has me questioning this service is some of the pricing they are asking for. For instance,  to have someone take a photo of a gravestone could cost you anywhere from $5 to $709. (The $709 will allow this group of experts to travel 999 miles to take this picture.)

 I would pay $5 for a photo, that does not seem unreasonable. Plus, to be able to get the picture quick. This is a definite positive. But $709, why would a person want to pay that amount of money for a photo? I mean, we want the photo’s.  I am sure most people are either willing to wait for some kind person to be able to take this photo, with the services of Find a Grave , Random Acts of Genealogy Kindness, do not forget the message boards on Ancestry or even the groups on GenealogyWise. There are many places one can find assistance with a photo they are looking for. 

I mean for $709 I can drive to the cemetery I need the photo from and take it myself. I mean, same amount of money and I get to see the places my ancestor lived. That would mean more to me, then just having the photograph of a headstone for me.

What does an “expert” mean? According to the FAQ’s on the Expert Connect site, it is a researcher or a professional. A researcher is someone that can go pick up a record or take a photo for you. Professionals must have advanced qualifications, like certifications, education and membership in professional associations.

It comes down to this, anyone of us could be the expert. I know I would not pay an expert $999 for any photo.

So, after some thought. I have decided that I will be this expert and see what happens. If any one needs pictures in the Chicago area, look me up on Ancestry. We will see how this goes. I do not expect to see much here. The jobs that are out there for Chicago at the moment are for research, which I am not a professional, which means I cannot assist.

I wrote this post about a month ago and held off publishing it because I wanted to see if I could find any photography jobs I could assist with. At this point, there have been none. I have even looked in other states and nothing at this point. I will update the post if at any point I find a job for taking photo’s.

Newberry Library, Chicago’s Family History Center

Today we had beautiful weather, a great day to be outside and enjoying the many sites Chicago has to offer. Instead, I opted for a day of research at Newberry Library. First and foremost, drivers beware, parking is costly! Parking meters are now $2.00 per hour with a 2 hour maximum. Local parking garage is $6 for the first half hour and $19 for 2-10 hours. So, if public transportation is an option I suggest taking it. Beware, the library does not allow any bags into the reading rooms. 

As you walk into this impressive building you are greeted by security. You must show your reading card and sign in. If you have any bags on you, security will promptly point you to lockers. Once you have signed in and passed security you follow the stairs to the second floor, which is where they house their genealogical materials. You must check in here with the librarian and he/she will assign you a desk to work at. Each desk seats four people, the staff does a great job at making sure they spread everyone out. It always seems like we are there alone!

The staff is overly helpful. I spent probably a good half hour with their historian today. I was seeking assistance with my Russian research, that I seem to ignore daily. My mother in law’s Grandfather was in the Russian White Army and came to the USA in 1916 (with his family). He was here working with the Russian Artillery Commission. You can read this previous post for information. I did learn today that once the Czar was overthrown the Russian Embassy began paying the salary of the Russians that ended up losing there salary due to this.  They were then given the job of assisting the Russians that were coming to the USA. The Embassy continued paying them until mid 1920′s. What I am trying to find is how Anatoly Porai Koshetz arrived in America, with his family. I have not been able to find any records through Ellis Island, either on Ancestry or Ellis Islands websites. My question was should I continue to look here or should I be looking in Russia. His suggestion was to continue with research in America. He believes something will surface. So for now, I will do that.

What I really want to share with you is the history of the collections in this building. As I stated earlier, this was not my first visit to the Newberry Library. Some of the books/folio’s we requested to look at today were very old, and in great condition. I want to tell you about my 3 favorite.

  1. First I browsed a book form the late 1800′s. The pages seemed to be made of cloth instead of paper. It had a very silk like feel to it. 
  2. I also looked over a few folio’s that were family tree’s, one from the 1800′s, it was the Royal lineage of England. I was in awe as I opened each flap of it. 
  3. Last another family tree folio which was also of the Royal families. This one was from the 1700′s. The tree itself went a few generations before “King Jesus” . 

They were all amazing to look through and honestly I feel privileged to have been able to hold and go through each one of these items. I appreciate the great job Newberry does in preserving history.

Besides the great conversation and research trips from the Historian, my research did not prove to be anything great today. I found a few marriage dates for some collateral lines. Found two ancestors in the DAR index. But that’s about it. 

I have one question for all of my fellow researchers that have their tree uploaded on Ancestry. How do you differentiate your direct line ancestors from your collateral lines? I know in some programs, such as Reunion you can “mark” these ancestors. I need some assistance as to how to make it easier to search my tree on Ancestry. My sister-in-law and I had a 20 minute conversation on the way home as to how we can make this more efficient. Any advice?

Genealogy Technology, Weekly Prompt # 14

Prompt #14 asks us to talk about  what different types of technology we use in our genealogy research and how it is working for us. At this point, I have never replied to a weekly prompt, I figured this would be a good one to start with. Thanks to Thomas at Genea Bloggers for keeping us updated with each weekly prompt. Also thanks to Amy at We Tree for her many ideas to blog about this week.

When it comes to technology, that is where the majority of my research is done. I use many different websites. Ancestry.com, Geni.comfamilysearch.org, and Newspaper Archives.com. Ancestry has helped me connect with many distant cousins, find many census and other records I was looking for. The only issue I have with this site is that the search function could be more efficient. There are a few things that I have had to have someone else look up, give me specifics as to where the records is, so then I can search on Ancestry for it by State and County.I have finally uploaded two family trees, after a few years of membership. With this I have been able to take one line of my tree back even further. Though, the main line I have been working on is still at its brickwall. Ancestry seems to be making changes to their site all the time from adding new sources to now adding the help of proffesional genealogists in the near future (though it is unclear as to how this is going to work at the moment). Geni is a great site for your family to come together and work on the tree collectively. Though, some of us are protective of the work that we have done, you wonder about what is being placed. For our family, the Geni site has brought forward our next generation Genealogist. We have also had luck with relatives that I personally have never met, logging on and sharing things that I did not know. Overall, it is successful for sharing and networking with your family. The Family Search site is not used as often as the other sites for myself. Not to put others off, but I have not had much success finding things on this site. Newspaper Archives on the other hand, has added so much to my family tree this year. Through searching old obituaries, I have been able to find relatives back in NY that I did not know where there. I have made contact with them and hope to be able to meet them this summer. 

Of course, I am on a few of the social networks as well. I started out on Facebook looking for friend that I lost contact with. After I found her and before I could delete the profile, many friends over the years have popped up. So I continued with this site. Which now I use more to network with others that love Genealogy as much as I do. I am also on Twitter, which I am not 100% with. But, I am there and will continue for now. 

I started my blog Climbing the O’Connell Family Tree on Blogger and recently moved it to WordPress. As stated in my last post, WordPress has a crisp, more elegant look, which is why I moved the blog. I started the blog to help track my research, now I use the blog and many of the sites listed to network with others. I feel that through this I have made friends and people I can trust to help me along when needed. 

The one other site that I truly have utilized in my search is the USGenWeb project. With the obituaries I found, this project has helped me find the final resting place for many of my ancestors. I am grateful to all those invested in these volunteer projects that help the rest of us with our research.

To keep everything organized, I have used a few different programs. I started with Family Tree Maker in 1999, which I loved, it searched the internet for me, helped create a web site, and had the ability to put together books. Was there anything not to like for someone just starting in their research. Currently, I am running on a MAC, so Family Tree Maker is no longer an option. I currently use Reunion, which organizes my information and has the ability to input the sources as well. It is user friendly, I have had no real problems or learning curve with it. Also, I love that the company stands behind their product and is great with the support they give their users.

The only thing that I would like to see is more products for the MAC, most genealogy based products are for the PC. Any correspondence I have had with multiple companies advises that it is not in the near future do to economic conditions. As always, we are putting everything on the economy!

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