NGS Livestreaming: Decision Time!

microphoneThe deadline for Livestreaming the NGS conference is fast approaching and I have to decide whether to sign up or let it go. NGS encourages those who aren’t able to attend the conference to sign up so you can attend ten of the top lectures without leaving the comfort of your home. But I defied that logic because I signed up last year for the Livestreaming even tho’ I attended the NGS Richmond conference.

My thought process was then and is now:

  • The conference experience would not be enhanced by being in the room at the time the lecture is being broadcast, as these sessions would be in the big rooms;
  • The most popular speakers would have a crowd and I might not get a seat anyway (I don’t like to fight for a seat.);
  • I could then attend other sessions and gain by NOT attending the ones being livestreamed (My “Lost Opportunity Costs” to those of you who remember your Econ 101);
  • I could still watch the lectures at home after the conference for 3 months;
  • I could watch them multiple times at home (which I did do);
  • A Jamba CD (the most usual way for getting a copy of the lecture) just doesn’t do it for me and may not be available anyway, and
  • The cost is not a killer.

Those reasons are a LOT of good ones to sign up again.  But, this time I am going to be a bit more strategic.  I am most interested in the Immigration and Naturalization track.  I will (using my app) see if I have one or five sessions that I would like to attend, which conflict with those lectures in this track.  If I just have one conflict, I will see if I am OK with skipping that one and attending the livestreamed session in person–that would constitute a vote “no” to buy the Livestreaming option.  If I have five sessions competing for my time I will consider that a vote “yes” to sign up for Livestreaming.

I can report that the experience last year was good.  The clarity was fine.  I wish that there would have been a little box with the speaker’s head on the livestream because it looked a bit like a Legacy Software Webinar once it got going. But, I was very satisfied with my experience last year.

It is still a good deal for those who cannot make it to St. Charles as you get besides access to the lectures until the end of August, you also receive a copy of the syllabus (electronic).

I re-reviewed the speakers and I might just go ahead and sign up for both ($115 member rate)!  There is always something good on the program I can attend. I’ll keep you posted as to what I decide to do.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: Been busy!  Worked more on my Case Study and read some Q articles to identify the “rhythm of writing” proof arguments.  Mine draft is still choppy. Evaluated all the submissions to the SGS Family History Writing Contest (13!) and built a spreadsheet to aggregate the scores of all four readers. I turned down a speaking engagement near Tacoma (during the week) and accepted a return engagement to Whatcom County for next fall for another all day seminar.  I worked on the the cover and the content of the syllabus for the SGS Spring Seminar with C. Lynn Andersen, AG on the mid-south states. I also updated my lecture list, something that has to be done regularly, I have discovered.  I also did my monthly report for SGS.  Next week? Put the SGS newsletter together.


Harris & Ewing, photographer, “Inventor of Microphone [Emile Berliner] to Receive Franklin Gold Medal,” 1929. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-hec-35387 (digital file from original negative); Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

BCG Case Study: Movement!

Clock mathAbout five days ago, I started working on my Case Study and I have been steadily working at it since!  Finally, some real progress for.  I wonder if it was because I requested and received an extension of time to my portfolio?  Being “on the clock,” I certainly know that I don’t want to ask for another extension a year from now.1  If that was the motivation–I’ll take it.

I have always liked my BCG Case Study focus.  I am finding it a challenge to get it organized in a way that is very clear and very convincing to the reader. To refresh my memory about writing these proof arguments, I reviewed Tom Jones’s book, Mastering Genealogical Proof.  This became a very good thing to do.  I have taken the Mastering Genealogical Proof class under the tutelage of Karen Stanbury, so I am familiar with the book and have done the exercises.  I learned a lot but this time different topics resonated.

  • Writing a good research question is not as easy as it sounds–at least for me!  I find myself redrafting the question as I write.  Probably not a good attribute. This chapter added some clarity to my writing. (Chapter 2)
  • My comfort with source citations (Chapter 4) has increased but not due to this chapter.  I have gained a new perspective on source citations because of the lectures Dr. Jones gave at the Professional Management Conference in 2015 in Salt Lake City. I need to review those notes and his syllabus again from that conference.  I do “get” the idea that Evidence Explained by ESM is a “style manual” and not a “rule book,” a concept some have difficulty with.
  • I need to spend some time in analyzing my sources–but not too much as I have all original documents.  ( Chapter 5) Also reading some Q articles might help me better understand the amount of analysis of my sources I need to incorporate into my writing.
  • I love tables!  There is not a table I have ever met that I didn’t like!  But, I think I have an overabundance of tables.  🙂 I need to consider what is the best approach for presenting the information  in the best way not resorting to what method I like best, i.e. a table. I suspect I will lose some of the tables and use some of the other tools instead. (Chapter 5)
  • How does one best “close the deal?”  Some proof arguments I read have weak written conclusions–I need to read Q articles by strong writers (Henderson, Bittner, etc.) to analyze what makes a strong proof argument conclusion.  Chapter 6 does a good job answering some of my questions about the issue of conflicting evidence and my Case Study.
  • And when I get to the “Nirvana Point”–the time when I feel I am 90% done with the paper, I want to remember to review the 11 questions in chapter 8 about my genealogical conclusion.  I want to be able to answer “yes” to every one.

The NGSQ Study Group is meeting next Tuesday morning and I plan on being on the call.  I learn much from the collective wisdom of the group and certainly will be especially watchful of the items noted above.  I can then improve my Case Study, which I have been working on so diligently for the past five days.

Happy Hunting!


What I have been doing since my last post:  I have been working on my Case Study.  Woo hoo!  In addition, I have presented to the Eastside GS and Skagit Valley GS.  Both were great fun. Upcoming is Seattle GS and British Columbia GS.  I have put together a presentation on “Insanity in the 19th Century: One Family’s Story.” But, so far no one wants to hear it–yet i constantly have people who tell me that some relative of theirs was in an insane asylum in the 1800s or early 1900s.  Do you know someone who wants to hear it?  I will be working on the SGS newsletter this coming week and printing the Spring Seminar Syllabus. I approached Seattle Public Library to teach some genealogy classes.

1The photo was taken by me on 11 April 2015 at the University of Washington, School of Medicine, 750 Mercer, Seattle, Washington in the CERID lab.

First Things First: a Literature Search

Clock 3I have been working on my Kinship Determination Project (KDP, a component of the BCG portfolio and struggling with the writing, In spite of Judy Russell’s admonition to “have fun,” writing does not come easily to me, but like most genealogists, I like the research and I get the papers written.1  What emerged while I was struggling with writing was I needed a theme to tie the generations together.  Lucky for me, a theme was emerging.

Photo above.2

Now, of course, due to the BCG requirements I cannot write about my KDP theme and certainly not about the family.

For my KDP, the theme emerged after I had picked the family.  Usually, when I decide to write, it is because a theme has picked me!  Often a theme of inquiry has been sparked by an ancestor’s life experience.  In those cases, my writing is not focused on the family, but rather I am writing about the theme.  The KDP is more like the former–it is about the family that has a theme–a twist which makes a difference in how you approach the writing.

I have been looking at the schism between historians and genealogists.  I am trying to understand the basis for the different points of view and to determine if there is any mechanism for narrowing the gap. To more fully understand that gap, I must also understand what constitutes an “academic discipline” and where genealogy succeeds and fails in reaching the goal of being a discipline in the academic sense.

What is the theme?  — the gap between historians and genealogists.  Where do I go for help first? My first stop is the library.  I am lucky — I have easy access to a fine academic library and, sometimes more importantly, several librarians for friends who are also genealogists.

This search in research parlance is a “literature search.”  There are many different reasons for doing a literature search but for this purpose you are trying to find what others have written, educate oneself in the vocabulary and identify the issues.  I also strive to accumulate a library of materials on my topic.

Research Question:  “What elements define an academic discipline and which of those elements does genealogy possess or which are missing?”

I start my search in a orderly way whatever is the topic of my investigation:

  • I read any Wikipedia articles on the topic–yup, I’ll admit of “dipping into the Wiki.”  But I do this to obtain the first level of background and to determine my search terms for the real investigation.
    Result: This was not a place that provided germane information for this field of inquiry.
  • I conduct a simple Google search–this sometimes is too big of a “place” to search, so unless my search terms are narrow, I will sometimes wait until I can use search terms which draw the confines of the results tighter around the topic.
    Result: I found some interesting articles, mostly by Elizabeth Shown Mills on history and genealogy.
  • I search my academic library and specifically JSTOR.  JSTOR is a database of scholarly journal articles from late 1800s.  (I recently conducted a search on Bethlem Hospital and got entries in a British medical journal from 1885!)
    Result: For this topic I found most of my possible sources here.
  • Using my academic library, I search for books on the topic. Many times these are available at my library, on line and through inter-library loan.
    Result: Again, for this topic, genealogy as an academic discipline is not the “right kind of topic” for this media.
  • I identify and search specialty databases.  Recently, iIwas researching an architect on the west coast.  I would check the Pacific Coast Architects Database (PCAD); a health issue might compel me to look in PubMed. Although I have never had great luck with it, I usually also look at ABClio, a social science database.
    Result: This source did not result in any sources on genealogy as a discipline.
  •  I search online newspapers, historic and contemporary
    Result: The discipline of genealogy is not a topic that editors would select.
  •  I then conduct a “do-over”.  I often have learned something along the way that now will make the sorts more fruitful and so I start over.
    Result: After a conversation with a public historian, I did a “do-over” and got several more hits in JSTOR and Google.

I am going to post my findings in a separate blog post as this one is getting longer than I thought it would be! But, not every of my “go-to” sites yields fruit every time for every topic.  Some topics lend themselves to books (Norwegian migration, insanity in the 19th century) and others lend themselves to articles (genealogy as a discipline, Swedish literacy)

But, what I am saying in a round about way is–for me to write my KDP “story” I have to have a theme that ties the generations together.  The theme is not as large as “world peace” but also not as granular as Jed Smith was born and so were his descendants.  I had one family I considered for my KDP where the only theme I could come up with was “unremarkable lives making remarkable decisions”.

So, if you are stuck on writing your KDP, think about your theme and then loosen up those ideas by doing a literature search and see where it takes you.  You might find that the writing comes easier if there is a thread that ties the generations together, because there usually is.

How do you conduct your search for “context”?  What are your go-to sites?  Does your KDP have a theme?  Does that help or hinder?

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: In the next four weeks I am making seven presentations.  I have been toning up the presentations, sending out the syllabi, setting up the web site for each presentation, and testing my computer and projector (had to enlist hubby last night to help get the “presenter view” to show correctly, but I got the remote to work!) Note to self: print evaluations.  I have found most societies do not distribute evaluations and so I bring my own. Had lunch with a librarian/genealogist/friend and discussed the state of the genealogy nation. I volunteered to pull the ProGen group together at Jamboree (CA) in June and to work the APG table at NGS (MO) in May. See you in MO!

1This admonition was repeated numerous times by Judy in her BCG webinar on writing the KDP. I was lucky enough to have heard it but I, like many, will have to wait to have it posted on the BCG website.
2 Isn’t this an elegant clock/compact! I can imagine Mia Farrow in “The Great Gatsby” carrying it or perhaps Lauren Bacall? Photo taken by me of the watch in the collection of the Elgin Historical Museum in Elgin, Illinois, June 2014.

What’s New in the ‘Hood: UW College of the Built Environments’ Library

This is “my” college library!  This is the college where they teach architecture and planning at the University of Washington, my profession presently and for many decades in the past.  On Saturday, 5 April 2015 about 25 of us arrived at Gould Hall on the university campus for a tour of the library of the College of the Built Environments.1  The tour, like the others was sponsored by Historic Seattle and was one of their “Digging Deeper” series. Our Historic Seattle host was Luci Baker Johnson; our Archives host was Alan R. Michelson, Head of the Built Environments Library.

This library is a treasure trove for those of us who love house histories, architects and their work product or neighborhood context, particularly if it relates to Seattle or the Northwest.

DD CoBE audAlan gave us a brief introduction to the collection of this library, one of 16 in the University of Washington system of libraries.  His overview pointed out some of the unique library holdings which include local, national and foreign architectural periodicals, academic books, historic preservation style guides and theses.  Alan also pointed out some of the online resources that would be of value.

A couple of collections or individual holdings caught my eye which I wish to investigate again.

DD CoBE Seattle collAlan and his team have identified all the Seattle resources and placed them in a single area (see left).  This includes a number of books and resources on individual neighborhoods.  I want to come back to see what they have about my neighborhood, Queen Anne. In the collection, the library holds the Folke Nyberg and Victor Steinbrueck’s visual assessment of the neighborhoods of Seattle–in fact, they have many copies.2  Sixteen neighborhoods were assessed by the authors.  I learned that I have an incomplete book on Queen Anne because the maps were published on very fragile paper which falls apart at the creases.  It is a comfort to know that Alan has a stack of these books in his office so the book can be rescued whenever the present copy wears out.  The set is on line at the Historic Seattle website in a downloadable PDF form.

DD CoBE slidesIf anyone ever wanted to know what 130,000 slides looked like here is a picture (left) of only about a 1/4 of the collection housed in the adjacent but independent Visual Resources Collection.  The staff video tapes all the lecturers that come to the College to speak and put them on line.  They are also aggressively digitizing the slide collection.

An online resource Alan started at a previous institution and continued here at UW is the Pacific Coast Architects database,  a record of architects who worked on the west coast with links to their projects, their firm and other individuals connected with their work.  Check it out.

Another resource I found interesting was the Architects and Landscape Architects of Seattle 1876-1959 and Beyond.3  The author, Duane Dietz extracted the names of every architect and landscape architect from Seattle city directories for that time period.  That had to be a labor of love to complete that arduous task but what a wonderful resource to have today!

The library has large tables and chairs near natural light for serious study and casual seating for more relaxed reading in furniture designed by famous designers (ex: Alvar Aalto).  There is a scanner and a color copier which can do large scale prints; there is a charge for printing but not for scanning.

This library should be a stop on your list of repositories if you are researching a particular style of architecture, architect or builder, especially if they were active in the Seattle area.  The library is located on the third floor of Gould Hall at 3949 15th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA.  Call ahead for hours at 206.543.7091 (this is especially true for all university libraries due to their keeping “interim hours”) or email Alan with your questions at

Happy Hunting!


1We toured UW Special Collections last year. You can read that blog by clicking here.
2Folke Nyberg & Victor Steinbrueck, A Visual Inventory of Buildings and Urban design Resources for Seattle, Washington : commenced in 1975 (Seattle: Historic Seattle Preservation and Development Authority, n.d.).
3Duane Dietz, Architects and Landscape Architects of Seattle, 1876 to 1959 and Beyond (Seattle: n.p., n.d.).

BCG Extension: oh, so easy; oh, so needed!

Clock 1I have missed a number of interim milestones in my plan to become certified genealogist through the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). I had committed to using the entire 6 weeks following Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy (SLIG) in January to focus on my portfolio.  Didn’t happen! I think I might have spent 5 hours on it–maybe.  So….if you look at the calendar on the right it is now a year further out. And on the left is a beautiful Elgin watch on display in Elgin, Illinois.  It’s my symbol for being “on the clock!”

BCG certainly makes it easy to extend and I do not think I have met a person yet who didn’t extend at least once; some go through 3- one- year cycles.  I feel I am in good company. (rationalization #1)

I am the victim of my own lecturing success and have been developing presentations, syllabi and websites to support the lectures I give. (rationalization #2)

I am divesting myself of other tasks–I will no longer be on the Board of Seattle Genealogical Society, nor will I be their Publications Director after one more newsletter this April and one more Bulletin.  I have also turned down the City of Seattle and will not serve on the Pike Place Market Oversight Committee–which was a very tough “no!” (rationalization #3-too busy volunteering)

Working against me: I continue to be very aggressive in submitting to national, regional and local conferences and societies.  The latest submission is six proposals to the Ohio Genealogical Society for their 2016 conference in Mason, Ohio.  They turned me down last year, but my resume looks much better this year.  In addition, I have eight proposals into National Genealogical Society (2016, Ft. Lauderdale) and Federation of Genealogical Societies (2016, Illinois). Now, normally they do not pick all of them and in fact, I will be lucky if they pick one.  Presenting this June at Jamboree in Burbank, CA is a great boost–now I have to do a good job–er, “great job.” (rationalization #4)

I truly do need to refocus on the Case Study and the Kinship Determination Project (KDP), both significant papers.

So, wind the clock again and lets get started…but first I have to judge the Family History Writing contest submissions and lay out the newsletter and… and… 🙂

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  Thanks to all of you wishing me a successful outpatient surgery.  Everything went more than fine and exceeded my expectations by a significant amount!  I have been cleaning up a presentation on nonpopulation schedules after changed the method for accessing the records!  Lesson Learned:  ALWAYS review your presentation before you give it and compare it with reality–as reality changes. Has everyone been watching “Cancer: The Emperor of all Maladies”?  If not, check out PBS.  I really thought the book was better than the series but one can also get bogged down in the book.

NGS 2015: Conference Survival 101!

As most know, I was recently named an Official Blogger for the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference to be held in St. Charles, Missouri (local host: St. Louis Genealogical Society) in mid-May.  I am looking forward to it for many reasons including the strong program with many great choices, meeting some old and new friends and rooming with my good friend Karen.

This is my third NGS conference, having attended Cincinnati three years ago and Richmond last year.  I remember being slightly overwhelmed at the first one and thought that first-timers and even “multiple-timers” might appreciate some tips about “Conference Survival!”  Since we are  six + weeks in advance of the conference, this first post focuses on the things you can do now to enhance your experience.

  • Download the mobile app.  I love this app.  I loved it so much back in 2013 that I encouraged another national organization to which I belong to use it also!  I have an iPhone so I went to the App Store for the download.  You will find it by searching for “National Genealogical Society.”  Here is the link:  This year they have added some tool tips–hints for how to use the app.  They can get irritating for experienced users.  You can turn the off.  Did I say I love this app?
  • Once the mobile app is downloaded, start reviewing all the “Sessions” options and make some selections now.  You can browse by day or by track–switch back and forth.  You can develop “My Schedule” by clicking on the star.  Do not worry if you have 5 selections for one time slot; you can add more or remove them at will. For now, your inclusion of these on your Personal Schedule will be great reminders of what you might want to attend.  You will, of course, have to narrow it eventually to one.  That’s the tough part but luckily not something you need to do now.
  • NGS is live streaming 10 lectures split between two tracks for $65 each or $115 for both (members).  Track One is “The Immigration and Naturalization Process” and Track Two is “Methodology Techniques.”  There are two reasons you might sign up for this package–1.) you cannot make it to the conference and this is a way to virtually attend 10 of the lectures and 2.) you are attending but are anticipating a conflict with other sessions you want to attend.  Last year I elected to buy one track. I did not attend these lectures at the conference knowing I could watch them at home. You will have four months of access after the conference. You can find more about this option here:
  • If you haven’t made your hotel reservation, you are out of luck on the most economical options.  The conference site lists the hotels with available rooms here: .  I don’t see a “roommate wanted” list this year. You might want to use you own resources to identify compatible roommates. Don’t forget and   I used the former successfully when my options were few.
  • If you do not tweet, learn how now so you understand the power of the tweet!  Conference hashtag is #NGS2015gen and you can start following it now.  The most immediate updates will be delivered using social media.
  • Sign up for the conference blog–this will get you real-time information about the conference.  Right now each blog posting is highlighting a different repository, speaker or exhibitor.  Just enter your email address in the left sidebar and hit the subscribe button.  You can unsubscribe whenever you wish.
  • Speaking of research…if you plan on doing some research while you are in the area, make your research plans now.  Identify the time you have available and which repositories you will visit based on your research question/problem.  Check out their online catalog and the hours/days of service.  Maybe even give them a call.  You do not want to arrive and find they are closed.  Start gathering your supplies, get your equipment repaired or purchased, and/or take a class on how to use that new laptop even more efficiently. The blog has been reviewing the holdings of different repositories in the area.  If you are not sure which repository to go to for the information you seek, you might read some of the past postings.
  • Load into your smart phone or tablet the apps you will be needing for travel, messaging, or research.  My favorite app is Finescanner!  Finescanner facilitates you taking a sequence of pictures using your iPhone or iPad camera (sorry, Android users–not available) and then assembles the jpegs into one PDF document so your can read them in Evernote or Good Reader!  No more individual jpegs for this girl!.  (When I published this post, it was free at the app store.)  If you use your camera on your phone as a photocopier, then you may find this of help.  If you pay a little more you can get OCR but the reviews are not universally ecstatic. I am not a heavy app user but I also use Google maps, Word (for notes), weather, clock (it’s my travel alarm), Famviewer (has my genealogy database), Booklist (my library–so I don’t buy a book I already have), Evernote & Dropbox (to store documents) and Uber (so I can get a ride even when the cabs are busy.)  You might check out Shoebox for receipts as well.

One more thing…  When at the conference, I challenge you–at least once a day– to thank one sponsor (just stop by the booths) and one volunteer.  Without the sponsor’s financial support and the volunteer’s gift of time, the NGS conference would not be as wonderful experience for us attendees as it is.  So, thank a sponsor and thank a volunteer!  Better yet–when the call for volunteers goes out–volunteer.  It’s easy and fun.

I am getting excited just writing this blog!

If you see me at the conference, don’t hesitate to come up and introduce yourself.  I would love to meet you.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: I had outpatient surgery and am doing terrific. Worked on my syllabi for the next two presentations the first part of April–also checked the websites for each presentation.  We are ready to go.  We have received 8 submissions for the SGS Family History Writing Contest–first ever.  I am very excited. We modeled this after the Southern CA GS Family History Contest.  Thanks to SCGS for running such a great program and granting me permission to track our program so closely to theirs.