KDP Writing Weekend #1: How Did I Do?

2013 0818 writingIn looking back over this intensive writing weekend when I put in a minimum of 21 hours writing on my KDP, I discovered some new/old truths which may help others of you who are also procrastinating about certification….

Truth #1: starting is the hard part.  While I may not be having all the “fun” that Judy Russell did when she wrote her KDP, I did find it liberating to get started. (You can find her webinar by clicking here.)

Truth #2: Mix it up!  I did some reading, some writing, some citations until I found, I really wanted to tackle the genealogical proof summary–and so I did that all day Sunday.

Truth #3: Take breaks.  I didn’t take enough of them but should have taken a few more–maybe even a nap.  These can be as small as watering the plants (Lord knows they need it.) or going to a picnic. They were great ways to disengage the mind.  I even played a few computer games.

Truth #4:  Get some sleep.  I missed on this one.  I didn’t go to bed until 1:00 am most nights and woke up groggy the next mornings.

Truth #5: Take time to read the BCG Application Guide, to remind yourself of what you might have forgotten and re-read Genealogy Standards. (It’s just dawned on my that I don’t have the latest edition on my iPad.)

Truth #6:  Make sure you have Numbering Your Genealogy and Evidence Explained close at hand.  I cannot tell you how many times I opened both.  For a while I thought I was catching a breeze but it was only the fluttering pages of those two books! :-)

Truth #7:  I stunned myself how organized I was when I first started researching my family. I have used Master Genealogist (sigh) since 2002, and my goal then, as it is now, is to find every source with the desired evidence within 20 seconds or less and I can!!  I found a critical 1978 letter that I forgot even existed — in 20 seconds.  Course, I also found that I had misfiled a probate file and now I have to go back and get it. Most of the sources I am missing, I never had.

Truth #8: Don’t store your BCG envelope next to a window.  It can get wet.  Luckily, none of the truly important stuff did–but still–where was my head?

Truth #9:  I found myself losing focus on Sunday at 8:30 pm.  So I quit and watched WDYTYA and went to bed.  It was time.

Truth #10:  Do it again!  The next KDP Writing Weekend #2 is scheduled for Labor Day.  3.5 days!  I don’t know if I can stay focused that long.  I may have to mix it up with some library work.  We’ll see.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  Well, you pretty well know, but I also structured the OGSA program for the 2016 conference in Excel and sent it off to the Board for their review, attended a PS-APG picnic, prepped my next presentation on “House Histories–Thank You Taxman!” for the Northwest Genealogical Conference (NwGC). I present on Saturday.  Saw a Call for Proposal that looked right for my librarian friend and I to apply for. (She and I have been looking for some time to find the right venue for us to present–we are going to sit down and brainstorm a presentation.)


The BCG Application Guide. Board for Certification of Genealogists: Washington, DC, 2011.

Board for Certification of Genealogists. Genealogy Standards. Nashville, Tennessee: Turner Publishing, Company, 2014.

Curran, Joan Ferris, Madilyn Coen Crane and John H. Wray. Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2008.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: City History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Third edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015.

KDP Writing Weekend #1: 7-9 August 2015

2013 0818 writingOK, I know I need to start writing the KDP (Kinship Determination Project).  There is an extra motivation–I will probably have to return about 13 books about “my family” to the library in the next few months.  If returned, I may have difficulty getting them back and I certainly won’t be able to check them out for weeks/months at a time.

So, I have decided that I will schedule two KDP Writing Weekends.  One will be this coming weekend (schedule below) and another will be over Labor Day weekend.  And, why, you ask, would I pick these two weekends?  Because the Hubby will be out of town and it will be just me and the cat.  Although Ollie sometimes walks across the keyboard, in general he is a pretty good writing companion.

Here is my proposed schedule.  On Monday, I will report in a short post, how I did:

August 7, Friday

6:00 – 8:00 (with 20 minutes out for dinner) I will review my books, my Evernote file, and my emails (pre-Evernote, I emailed myself articles about “the fam.”)

8:00-8:30 break

8:30 to 10:00  I will write.

August 8, Saturday

7:00 -7:30 read paper and eat breakfast

7:30 – 8:30 print business cards and extra speaker flyers for the PS-APG chapter table at the NwGC in a week.

8:30 – 11:30 write

11:30 – 12:00 lunch

12:00 – 3:30 write

3:30 : leave for PS-APG picnic in Sumner and have a good time.  Don’t forget to take business cards and speaker brochures with me to the picnic to give to table coordinator.

Take the rest of the night off

August 9, Sunday

6:00 -6:30 have breakfast

6:30 – 9:15 write

9:15 get ready and go to yoga

12:30 – 3:30 start writing again

3:30 – 5:00 take a “Get Out of the House Break.”  This might be a drive over to Discovery Park and a walk to the lighthouse or it might be just a walk by the water.  We’ll see.

5:00 – 6:00 dinner

6:00 – 9:00 write!

KDP Writing Weekend is complete.  I have no goal for how much I will get done or what parts.  We shall see. Your thoughts, comments and criticisms about the schedule would be most welcomed.

Wish me luck.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: Had lunch with Luci Baker Johnson about the “Digging Deeper” series.  She has an idea about the third year of the series that involves my helping out. Could be a great season about House Histories.  Was contacted by a Midwest conference that wants me as a speaker in a year.  Looks like it will happen.  Planning a trip to Peru (Fall 2015) and another to Italy (Fall 2016).  Ramping down my work with SGS but volunteered to do desk duty while Janice is giving her “Finding your Slave Owners” talk which I would have attended anyway.


What’s New in the ‘Hood: Eastside Heritage Center

Eastside Heritage Center
2105 Bellevue Way
Bellevue, WA
Ph: 425.450.1049
Tuesday (10:00 am-4:00 pm), Thursday, Friday and Saturday (10:00 am-2:00 pm)
Tuesday is usually research day, but you can also make an appointment

As part of Historic Seattle’s “Digging Deeper” series of tours of locally available repositories, a group of ardent individuals visited the Eastside Heritage Center (EHC) to learn about the Center’s holdings, and archival and access policies.

First of all, you need to know that this was SeaFair weekend. That’s when the Blue Angels perform and cigarette boats race, entertaining hundreds of thousands of people along the banks of Lake Washington. To give you an idea of how big this is, they close down a section of I-90 for this event!

You also need to know that I live on the west side of Lake Washington and EHC, as it’s name implies, is on the east side of Lake Washington! A recipe for disaster, if not in the going to the Center then certainly for the return trip. That’s the bad news.

The good news was that I left for the east side prior to the closing of the interstate and, since most Seattle-ites sleep in on the weekends, I beat even the most rabid of the SeaFair fans. It was just the usual bad traffic on the alternate route home coming back home! Whew!

EHC exterior Winters houseThe EHC houses their collection in three different locations but their most publicly accessible is the Winters House, a 1929 Mission Revival and former home of Fredrick and Cecilia Winters, flower growers. Twisted columns mark the front entry to the house and decorative tile is  under foot and around important features of the house such as the fireplace. Attendees commented about how the house was not so grand as to not feel like a home.

EHC interior collectionIf you have any connection to the near east side communities of the Puget Sound area of Washington, I recommend you give Sarah Fredrick, Collection Manager of EHC, a call and discuss what the EHC has which might help you.

Here are some of the items that you might find of interest:

  • The John Way collection: EHC has the papers and artifacts from Dr. Way’s long career as a medical practitioner and civic citizen in Redmond. This is a new addition to their collection.
  • Textiles: Broadly defined, this collection includes linens and women’s and children’s clothing.
  • Quilts: Many came into the collection in the 1970s and 1980s when the need for provenance was not as well documented.
  • Photographs of the area: Many are located on King County Snapshot page hosted by UW but some are also located on their own website. If you are on the UW site and looking for east side photos, you can improve your chances by selecting the collection from EHC.
  • Lake Washington/Bellevue Reflector: EHC has the only known complete set of this paper that was published until the 1930s.
  • Oral Histories: EHC has over 300 and is still actively collecting these.
  • Lakehill community: Lorraine McConaghy donated her research materials to the center after the completion of her academic work.
  • The Colman Diaries (1886-1900). Check out Historylink for more information on the Colman murder and then check out the diary itself, which led to a renewed effort to attempt to resolve the murder. The diary when transcribed by EHC volunteers yielded clues that had not been revealed before.
  • Organizational Archives: Included in the collection are a number of groups from the area including Bellevue Schools (some), Overlake Service League, Bellevue Chamber of Commerce (1954 — early 1980s), etc.

Sarah recommended researchers wishing to access the collections should call her first to discuss what the collection might contain. You then schedule an appointment to come in and review. Sarah and her volunteers will have the time between your call and your visit to pull relevant documents. Drop-ins, although possible, risk not getting the information that is stored in other locations and, therefore, are discouraged.

EHC interior collection 2The research is conducted and the accessible collection is mostly stored at the Winters House; however, EHC also stores parts of their collection at the McDowell House and in storage. The Center does have scanning and copying capabilities. The house is not fully handicapped accessible; however, I am sure the staff will attempt to assist in any way they can to accommodate your particular request.

If you have ancestors who lived in the communities of Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland and even as far north at Bothell, I recommend a call to Sarah to find out what she might have.

My BIG take-away: there are thousands of small repositories like Eastside Heritage Center all over the US. Their collections are not accessible through Ancestry, Family Search. or even NUCMC, a national catalog for manuscript collections.  Each of these little known repositories are cared for by passionate volunteers and staff people like Sarah. Each also holds a number of manuscript collections which we can only discover by calling and talking to a knowledgeable person. I want to thank Historic Seattle for bringing all of these important collections to our attention through their “Digging Deeper” series.

And, why don’t you make a call today to a historical society or repository in the town of your ancestors and have a chat!  You never know what you might find! This is my guarantee: If you are not making site visits to the areas where your ancestors lived, you are missing significant numbers and types of records.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: I have been consumed by my Fire Insurance Map presentation I am giving at the end of August and again in September. While I am developing that presentation, the use of maps for house histories becomes more apparent. I am adding more sources for my House Histories presentation, which I give on the 15th of August at the Northwest Genealogical Conference. I also worked on my webpage a bit. It is getting closer but for some reason it is not “playing well in the sandbox,” and I need a little assistance from my nephew who put it together.

BR: Ancestors in German Archives

Wright III, Raymond S.; Nathan S. Rives; Mirjam J. Kirkham; and Saskia Schier Bunting. Ancestors in German Archives: A Guide to Family History Sources. Baltimore : Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2004.

Do you have a brick wall involving a German ancestor?  Want to make sure you hae considered all the available records for a particular proof you are writing?  Either issue may drive you to obtain this book.  I have just finished reviewing this book (one does not really “read” this book.) and found it to be quite helpful in identifying archives and the records they hold.

The book begins with a brief overview of the complex history of the the Germany including WWI and WWII.  Then the book describes the organizational structure of the national, state and local archives.  Included are also church and private or family archives, the latter primarily of the German nobility.

Archive rules and protocols are covered which are very helpful due to odd opening/closing hours and pull protocols. Strategies for a successful visit are outlined.

Content for the book was gathered by students at BYU by use of a survey to all identified archives.  Some surveys were not returned, some questions were not answered.

Here is an example of a typical entry:

Niedersächsisches Staatsarchiv Aurich, Oldersumer Str. 50, 26603 Aurich (Tel: 4941-176660, Fax: 4941-176673, Website: http://www.staatsarchive.niedersachsen.de, E-mail: poststelle@staatsarchiv-aur.eidersachsen.de)

What follows is a description of the coverage area, how the archive organizes its holdings and if there are finding aids.  Subsequent entries are of record types of usual interest to genealogists and requests a description of them.  For example, the entry for emigration outlines three different locations where emigration records are held.  The statement describing church records is consistent with my understanding of the filmed records held by the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City for the same area.  However, one cannot tell if the films cover more villages than are held by the FHL If the responding archive has no holdings in that category, the response was “none.”

I was wondering if there were any church records I was missing which may include some pastor notes describing the conflict my ancestor had with the church just prior to his emigration.  (answer: it doesn’t look like it.)  I was also wondering if there emigration records held in Germany.

You might consider taking a look at this book if you have a German brick wall or there is some specific information you are looking for but you do not know where the record may reside.

I got my copy of the book from inter-library loan from the UW Library.  Thank you, University of Houston. And, thanks to Warren Bittner for recommending the book in his German class at NGS 2015.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: finished printing the SGS Bulletin, watched Mark Lowe’s “Tick Mark Censuses” class on Ancestry Academy, had lunch with three local genealogy buddies, and working on three upcoming presentations (NwGC, SGS (2))–House Histories, Insanity in the 19th c., and Fire Insurance Maps.

I love public libraries–even when they aren’t!

Chicago Cultural CenterOn July 15, I had a chance to visit a library that isn’t any more.  Yes, that is correct — it isn’t filled with librarians wheeling racks of books or scholars wading through tomes, or children dashing excitedly to their parent with THE book they want to read.  No, it isn’t a library any more even tho’ the sign on the colonnade says it is the “Chicago Public Library.”   This building has been the home of the Chicago Cultural Center since 1991 and in the past few years it has been completely renovated. Though it isn’t used as a library any more, people were sitting in the open space and reading — some were reading “real” newspapers and others, the digital kind.

A few facts before I show you the photos.  The Chicago Cultural Center is located across from Millennium Park at the corner of Randolf and Michigan Ave.  Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge designed the facility in the Beaux Arts style, a clear homage to the architecture of the Chicago Worlds Fair. The building opened in 1897, displaying spectacular interiors filled with rare woods and marbles and glass and gold mosaics.  The building has the largest Tiffany dome (38′) in the world, composed of over 30,000 pieces of glass.

There are sit down spaces, galleries, and a performance space under the Tiffany dome.

Here is a series of photos of some of the fabulous mosaics in the building.  Truly these are “eye candy” of the first sort.

CCC understairI love the shape of stairs as they cross each other.  The underside of the stairs –all of them– have mosaics of famous authors.  The mosaic “frame” of each author’s name is handled differently on each stair. The closeup photo below is of a different stair with a different frame style for the author’s names than the frame style in the photo to the left. Every stair was different.

CCC understair closeupThe underside of the stairs, close up.  Bryant and Hawthorne are only two of the six writers on the underside of one of the “handles” of this T-shaped stair. Again the green and the gold predominate as a color scheme with accents of deep red, light beige and pink stones.





CCC medallionA mosaic rosette about 8″ in diameter (gives you an idea of the fine detailing of the pieces.)  Notice the shimmer of the gold mosaics and the various types of stone. I think the middle is mother-of-pearl.  There were three of these on every newel post of every stair.





CCC B FranklinA dedication to Benjamin Franklin (b. 1706, d. 1790), “founder of the circulating library.”  Notice the deep, and richly decorated coffered ceilings and the elaborate mosaic frame around the dedication. The lamps aren’t too shabby either!


CCC stair to domeThe stair leading up to the Tiffany dome.  They were practicing for a violin performance that evening.  We were the lucky attendees to the practice session.  Check out my public dropbox for a 21 second treat!




CCC dome typanumOne of the four pendentives at the lower corners of the dome.  I took a photo of this particular corner because it showed the double serpents of medicine.

I hope that you enjoyed this luscious architectural treat as much as I enjoyed visiting the library.


Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  I analyzed Melinda Daffin Henningfield’s NGSQ article “A Family for William Gray of New Madrid County, Territory of Missouri,” about merging multiple men when there is a lack of documents, in this case due to the New Madrid earthquake.1  I also put some information pertinent to my case study into a table so it was easier to analyze.  Several “ah ha” moments were discovered. Finished incorporating the edits for my last SGS Bulletin.  I will print starting tomorrow.

1 Melinda Daffin Henningfeld, “A Family for William Gray of New Madrid County, Territory of Missouri,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, 101 (September 2013) 307-228.

What’s New in the ‘Hood: NC State Academic Library

This post is a bit of a departure from postings about my avocation to one that is more closely related to my vocation. Recently, I had the privilege of visiting the James L Hunt, Jr Library on the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.  This library is a repository for the collection of primarily scientific, engineering and textile related materials held by NC State. Admittedly they have few historic materials, as those are mostly held at the University of North Carolina in Durham, but the design of the building and the spaces, the colorful furnishings and variety of uses all welcome you to sit and learn.

The services offered at the Hunt Library take the Resource Commons at the University of Washington in the Allen Library to a new level by expanding it over the entire 121,000 SF. If you haven’t been to the Resource Commons, I highly recommend you stop in–it’s a hub of activity.

Designed by Snøhetta Architects, here are some of the fun spaces inside the Hunt.

Hunt Lib Game roomThe video gaming room is 22 feet wide and is staffed to assist students in learning different programs or creating new programs of all kinds  it is probably what your “TV room” will look like in the future!  Students use the room to create new games.


Hunt Lib lobbyThe commons area has a plethora of furniture options for all kinds of interactive groupings . I loved the colors and the beautiful furniture chosen. Can I take one of the Mies chairs home?



Hunt Lib bookbot

Check out  the “bookbot,” a book robot which takes the book box which contains the desired book from the large bins (which looks like those infinity “canyons” they create in the sci-fi movies) and brings it to the distribution technologist.  The technologist pulls the desired book from the bin, and the bookbot takes the bin back to its original storage location about three stories down. Click here to see the video.  (my first!)

Thanks to David Goodwin, librarian for a great tour an to Lisa Johnson, University Architect at NC State for their assistance is giving and setting up the tour.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  I attended a business conference in 100 degree heat.  Whew! I have been working on my Proof Argument and have a good start on the document.  There are some holes I need to fill to complete my “reasonably exhaustive research” responsibility, the first element of the GPS, but all are do-able.

Research Plans: a Reprise

Clock 4I recently discovered that my posts about “Research Plans” consistently get the most hits of all of my archived posts by readers using the search feature on this blog.  That indicates to me that genealogical research plans continue to be a struggle for readers to understand and to write.  I personally have come full circle about the usefulness of research plans and have a better (but not perfect) understanding of them.

It still takes longer than I would like for me to write research plans; therefore,  I suspect my skill level will continue to evolve. This post marks my personal progress.

You can read the past blogs about research plans here:
11 September 2012: How Do You Do a Research Plan?
4 October 2012: What Have I Learned Lately About Research Plans?
9 March 2013: Have You Done a Research Plan Before?
31 March 2013: Research Plans! I Have Become a Believer

CONCEPT 1:  I first struggled with the time it took to write research plans; it seemed like a waste of time.  I now see how the plan can be the outline for the research report and save time instead of “taking time.”  Research plans keep me focused and serve as a “touchstone” to return to when I veer “off track” while researching a particular problem for a client or my own genealogical questions.

CONCEPT 2: I still like the basic format of the ESM research plan I noted in a previous post and found on: http://www.apgen.org/resources/worksamples.html

CONCEPT 3: You must have a strong research question.1  This question seeks information about identity, relationship or event.  It includes enough information to make the individual “unique in the world,” — to quote Tom Jones.  Thus, there are two parts to every research question:

  1. the identification of the person with enough identifiers to make her or him unique in the world and
  2. the interrogatory–the question you wish to have answered.

In a previous post I decided that my research question would be “What was the death date of Frederick Eilers, second husband of Eda/Ida Berg.” While this is much better than my other examples in the post, I now see that it could still be improved.  Today, I would make the question:

“What was the death date of Frederick Eilers, who married Eda Berg (1811-1889)  in 10 October 1862 in the German Reformed Church in Freeport, Stephenson County, Illinois.”

The addition of the identifiers make Eda and Frederick “more unique” than in the previously developed research question.  Unfortunately, I do not know much more about this relationship than I did back in 2013 when I wrote the research question the first time! (In my defense, I haven’t been looking either.)

CONCEPT 4: I have learned to “write as you go.” By spending time on the research plan and putting it into a format I can use for the client report, I save time in the writing of the report.  Writing client reports used to take 50% of the time allotted for the project.  By doing a research plan first  and then using the research plan as my outline for the client report, I estimate I shortened the writing of the report to about 33% of the time — and that includes the writing of the research plan! It leave more time for research, bringing better value to the client for my work.

Are my research plans perfect?  Far from it but I am getting better.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  attended a business conference in North Carolina and spent vacation time on Cape Cod with  hubby, daughter and her boyfriend.  Great fun.  Presented to the Cape Cod and Falmouth (MA) Genealogical Societies on 19th century emigrant decision making and the changing roles for women during the Civil War.  It stormed so vigorously just prior to the presentation that I was afraid we were going to lose electricity.  Luckily, it didn’t.

1 Tom Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (National Genealogy Society, 2013). See the Chapter on writing the research question.

2Photo take by the author at the Elgin Historical Museum in Elgin, Illinois in July of 2013.  They have a wonderful collection of Elgin watches.  The inclusion of the timepiece on any post indicates that the post relates to the BCG portfolio requirements for certification and is about being “on the clock.”