Last week on twitter I was having a quick conversation with someone about a website that I utilize from time to time. When the site first went up, genealogists were all over it. Unfortunately, I do not think that it gets the use today that it did originally. This site is Genealogy Wise (GW), and it is run by the National Institute of Genealogical Studies.
GW is run a lot like facebook, it is a social networking site that is just for genealogists. Right off the bat, you have something in common with everyone on the site, you are into genealogy. There is no glazed over, bored look there. Like facebook, GW has many different groups you can join, some freely and others where you have to request. Many genealogists on this site are offering free assistance to those that need it.
When I am looking for a quick out of state look up, for say an obituary, I will post a message on GW, under the group Look Up Angels. But, I am not done there. I will also go to Ancestry.com and post it in their forum for the specific state and county. To top that off, if I am on my A game, I might also post on Genealogy.com and maybe to my facebook and twitter accounts as well.
The point is, that I am getting the information out there to anyone who happens to be reading that day. Sometimes, I have gotten a reply the very next day and sometimes you have to wait. The only thing I want to remind you of is, if you post to multiple sites, please remember which ones and then go and update all the queries that you have the information. It would not be good to have someone go out of their way to do a free look up for you and you already have the information from someone else on another site.
Do you have New York ancestors? Have you utilized Old Fulton NY Postcards?
The first few times I accessed this site, I was more than confused as to how to access the records they keep. What records do they have you ask. NEWSPAPERS. I love old newspapers. On this site, I have found obituaries, quick updates about ancestors leaving town and then coming back as well.
So, you ask what is so confusing about the website. On the right 2/3 of the web page is a ability to page the site owner, look at older photo’s and log in. You do not need to log in to use this site.
On the right side is where you do your research. You plug in the information you are looking for and are given a list of hits to search through. Everything is in small print, so be careful going through these lists. Personally, as I go through my lists, I look at what area the paper is before I open it. If it is in the area my ancestors lived, I will then open and see what I can find.
There are 5,000 hits when I searched for John O’Connell, which is way too many to go through. This is when I get selective and will look for papers that were located near the places John had lived.
There are many different searches that can be performed on this site. If you have ancestors in NY, I suggest you take some time and search here to see if you can find anything in their newspapers.
In the month of November I ventured back into the Chicago Pubic Library. It had been a quite a few years since I had been in the library and I felt it was time. I ventured to the closest library to my house, which has been moved next to the local public grammar school (which has its own hidden code – go to library way before school gets out).
I had some problems with my library card that took a few weeks to straighten out, but while I was at the library I was able to sit at their research computer and look at obituaries in the Chicago Tribune Historical Archive. I spent about two hours scouring this site. I found seven obituaries related to my family and emailed them to myself. This way I could print a copy for my records (read I like paper copies) and transcribe it as well for my blog.
A week later, I was back at a different branch of the library and took care of the problems with my card and then I happily checked out a few books. Later that evening, I went to yet another library and spent another hour and a half research obituaries of my Chicago ancestors. Again, my search was very fruitful and I went home to more emails to print and transcribe.
Well, sense I have everything figured out relating to my library card, I am finally able to access their website. Which made me happy. I can now research from home. Oh, until today when I really looked at the site and found out I did not need to log in. The site is open for everyone to use. I even passes the website on to facebook friend, Barbara Poole, and she immediately found information on one of her ancestors.
The one thing I learned is that we really need to look at our local resources. Do you know what is all open to you? Obviously, I did not. With this find, I am cracking open my paternal German lineage and enjoying all I am learning. With each obituary comes a trip to the local cemeteries so that I can document the stones asap. If I wait, the stone will go forgotten. As it is, I will start making my list of cemeteries/graves for the spring so that I do not forget.
Since this worked for out of state friends, I ventured over to the NY Public Library site, hoping I would have the same luck. Not so much, you must log in the with a NYPL card. Boo, I was hoping to have the same luck.