What’s New in the ‘Hood?–House History Style

This “education thing”–does it ever end?  After the fun time I had today, I hope not!

I signed up recently for a “Digging Deeper:Built Heritage Research” series sponsored by Historic Seattle. [1]  This is a once a month tour of 8 repositories in the Seattle, King County area.  Each tour is conducted by experts from the library or archive and includes a “back of the house” tour of the facility.

So you can all be envious, here is a list of the repositories we will be touring:

  • Patsy MacKay Library, 1117 Minor Ave.
  • Special Collections, University of Washington
  • Sophie Frye Bass Library, MOHAI
  • National Archives (NARA) of Seattle
  • Seattle Municipal Archives, City of Seattle
  • Seattle Room, Seattle Public Library
  • Puget Sound Regional Archives, Bellevue Community College
  • King County Archives

2014 0208 HS MacKay libOur first visit was to the Patsy MacKay Library of Historic Seattle and is the newest of all the libraries we will visit.  Its collection, assembled in the past few years and only now open to the public, is not necessarily unique but it is a “one-stop shop” for journals and books related to historic preservation, neighborhood development and architecture, both residential and commercial.  In the photo to the left is Steve Walsh and me looking for his home on Lake Washington in the 1908 Baist’s Map of Seattle (a competitor of Sanborn).  Because of MacKay Library’s singularity of purpose it is a very browseable collection in a lovely setting. The house itself was built in 1907 for Henry H. Dearborn (1844-1909) and now serves as the headquarters for Historic Seattle (http://www.historicseattle.org). [2]

Having done a locality guide for the ProGen course on conducting House Histories in Seattle I had low expectations of any new information from the presentation, but I didn’t want to miss this library.

Well, as usual….I was wrong.

Eugenia Woo and Luci Baker Johnson of the staff of Historic Seattle presented the online resources available for document retrieval and social history related to doing “house histories.”  Luci was quick to note that the efforts of Historic Seattle and this presentation was to improve the research skills of everyone whether they focused on residential or other aspects of our built environment.  I particularly appreciated the balanced presentation between the document retrieval and social history, the latter usually receiving short shrift.  Lawrence “Larry” Kreisman and others intimately familiar with preservation of our built environment provided additional comments.  The importance of citing your work was also stressed…always a good reminder.

If you are doing commercial or residential histories in Seattle, you should attend this series.  If you do house histories outside of the Northwest, you will find some of these websites have information of interest to you for your research.  You also might have a similar website in your area.  Some of the sites that were new to me included:

  • Seattle Department of Neighborhood Historic Properties database
    If your building or the neighborhood has been researched before, even if it is not on the register, you might find it here.
  • Pacific Coast Architecture Database
    A professor at the UW College of Built Environment has collected the biographies of North West architects and other built environment professionals and their work in this database.
  • Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation
    This online GIS map tool identifies and locates historical sites for the state and the nation. It also has biographies of regional architects.
  • HistoryLInk
    HistoryLink is a peer-reviewed online series of short articles on the people and places of Seattle and Washington.  This site is my “go to” site for regional historical information of all kinds–a sophisticated “Wikipedia”.
  • Docomomo WEWA (love the name!)
    If the modernist movement is your thing, this is the site for you.
  • UW Special Collections architectural records
    I did not know that my own library had such a comprehensive collection of architectural plans and papers for architecture of the North West.

It was great fun meeting new people and even more fun to know that there is always something new to learn.

Thanks Eugenia, Luci and the entire Historic Seattle staff for developing such a great series and launching the series so successfully.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post: recouped from SLIG; signed up for SVAR, the Swedish document site (unfortunately I have yet to get the plug in to work so I can read the documents but my hubby said he is working on it…hmmm, looks like he is watching the Olympics to me!); worked on my ProGen assignment; attended a Women’s Business Center orientation for business start-ups; worked on my business plan and marketing plan (have enlisted MBA daughter to review both); did the brochure for the Spring Seminar (can’t wait for Jeanne Bloom to visit); and am ready to go “on the clock” when SVAR is up and running.  Whew!  Busy month.

[1] Historic Seattle, “Digging Deeper: Built Heritage Research,” syllabus (Seattle: 8 February 2014).
[2] Historic Seattle, “Dearborn House,” brochure (Seattle: undated, but received 8 February 2014).


How am I doing in the Mastering Genealogical Proof virtual study group?

It is going well. I am learning a lot which was the point.

As some of you know I signed up for the MGP (as it is called) class and started taking the course in mid August. I think it goes until mid October.

MPG bookWe are systematically working our way through the book, Mastering Genealogical Proof by Tom Jones, and are presently on chapter 3 after spending two weeks on Chapter 2. It is no surprise that we spent more time on Chapter 2 as it is fundamental to the understanding of the Genealogical Proof Standards (GPS).  Chapter 2 covers the Process Map: Sources (original, derivative and authored works), Information (primary, secondary, Indeterminable) and Evidence (direct, indirect).

We also learned how to write a good research question. My first ones were incomplete but markedly improved. For example, here is a progression:
1. Who is Frederick Eilers?
comment: What I am looking for cannot be identified. it also doesn’t differentiate him from a contemporary Frederick Eilers.
2. When did Frederick Eilers die?
comment: This one is at least measurable but I still cannot differentiate him from any other dead F. Eilers.
3. When did Frederick Eilers who married Eda Berg in 1862 at the German Reformed Church located in Freeport, Stephenson County, Illinois, die.
comment: Now that addresses both the issue of vague question and identifies the exact F. Eilers I am trying to determine the death date.

Another concept I didn’t have nailed until I goofed a couple of time was identifying “authored works.” There are TWO aspects that have to be considered to have the source qualify as an authored work:
1. It must use multiple prior sources
2. The author must draw a conclusion or make an interpretation based on their multiple sources

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: finished my MGP assignment and participated in a chat; participated in my ProGen Class by commenting on others work and participated in our monthly chat. Went to CO on vacation. Attended the NARA Virtual Genealogical Conference. It was very good and I hope they do it again.

Have you done a personal library list?

You might want to consider making a list of all your books in your personal library.  But, don’t stop there….look at it,….really look at it… to see what you have and more importantly what you don’t have.

As an assignment for the ProGen virtual study group we listed all of our books and assessed its strengths and weaknesses.  For me, of course, a strength was my Ostfriesen Ortsippenbüken (compiled parish records arranged by families, not chronologically) of which I have 20 or so for the villages in this geographical area in Germany near the Dutch border and the North Sea (maternal lineage).

What I found I lacked were books that focused on :

  • Germany as a whole
    (purchased: Brandt, Edward R. et al. Germanic Genealogy: A Guide to Worldwide Sources and Migration Patterns. St. Paul, Minnesota: Germanic Genealogy Association. 2007.)
  • NARA collections
    (purchased: Munden, Kenneth W. & Beers, Henry Putney. The Union: A Guide to Federal Archives Relating to the Civil War. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration. 2004.
    and its companion book: Beers, Henry Putney. The Confederacy: A Guide to the Archives of the Government of the Confederate States of America. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration. 2004,)
  • anything related to pre-1850
    (purchased: Wehmann, Howard H., compiler. A Guide to Pre-Federal Records in the National Archives. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration. 1989.)

You can see that I decided to do something about the gaps and purchased a few books.  While 1 or 2 books do not make one knowledgeable, I admit they certainly expanded my base of personal information and reference works.  I may review one or two of these in future blogs, but I will tell you I just got through Germanic Genealogy and I am very impressed with its scope, as it covers most German speaking countries, and not just Germany.

I still would like to have some assistance (webinars?) on the 1800 to 1850 gap.  I listened to a webinar on that time period and was hoping for a “silver bullet.”  I guess one doesn’t exist.

I also want to develop a personal digital library of books (out of copyright) that digitized and available.  Many county histories fall into this category.

The other advantage of having a list of books available is that you don’t buy a book twice.  Well, it didn’t help with that! The good news is that it didn’t sit on my shelf to be discovered after the return date.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post: visited friends in San Francisco, got sick, finished up the latest SGS Newsletter (2 weeks late!  ouch!), finished up two client reports, finished up my February assignment (library list and education plan) for ProGen and started on my assignment for March (research plan) and issued contracts to two new clients.

Do successful genealogists need to have an insatiable curiosity?

I think so!

A few days ago Judy Russell posted a blog about randomly looking at wills and how they piqued her interest because of the untold stories…even tho’ she wasn’t related to any of the individuals there.  They each had a story to tell and no one to tell it. Each seemed to “beg the question” of wanting to know more.  You can read that blog here:


Today, I looked through a new book I had just gotten and I was struck by the same thing.  The book was The Union: A Guide to Federal Archives Related to the Civil War.  I had quickly leafed through this very “dense” book upon its arrival, but decided to pick it up again today.  I stopped randomly on pages 254/5 and started to really read.  Here are some of the items on those two pages that captured my attention, not unlike Judy and her looking at wills and ….wondering:

  • “Papers on the court-martial of Fitz-John Porter”:  Who is this guy?  What is his story?
  • “Papers concerning the health and treatment of Jefferson Davis as a prisoner in Fort Monroe, VA”: You don’t hear much about his imprisonment.  Could you contrast and compare to Guantanamo?
  • “Papers concerning the claims of British citizens residing in the US who suffered property and other losses in war areas”: Was there a post CW “Marshall Plan” for the British?
  • “…the testimony of Union soldiers concerning “outrages” committed by the citizens of Winchester, Va.”:  What outrages?  How bad were they?
  • “List of monies taken from banks and banking institutions in New Orleans”:  I wonder how much?  Was it returned?  Who took it? Was there a punishment for the takers or were they rewarded?
  • “Data concerning officers of the U.S. regular Army who joined the Confederate Army”:  Not much is ever written about that!  What happened to them? Could they go back home? Or, did they go west?  If one wanted to “get away” now, where would they go?
  • “Papers concerning the board to examine Dr. Solomon Andrew’s “aerial machine” “:  Oh, I knew they used balloons for reconnaissance but what is this?
  • “Articles of Agreement between Maj. C.C. Sibley, U.S.A. and Col. Earl Van Dorn, C.S.A., relative to U.S. army officers and men who might become prisoners of war”,:  This probably has to do with prisoner exchanges and the value of a person based on their rank but wouldn’t it make interesting reading?

These are just the selected entries on two pages!  How can one not be mesmerized by each of these or on any of the almost 600 pages of content? What I thought was a dry book listing the collections of NARA related to the Civil War is actually fascinating reading.  And, I thought all I was interested in was the draft riots in New York!  And, yes, I think you do have to have an insatiable curiosity to be a good genealogist–every where you turn there is another story waiting to be told by you.

Happy hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  worked more on Susan’s book, finished up another client’s report who wanted to know the Norwegian village of origin prior to a trip to Norway (I found it!), finished up my Education Plan assignment for ProGen, reentered all my books into website LibraryThing (wish they had an app) in preparation for completing the next portion of the assignment–the personal library list.

Source materials:

Kenneth W. Munden, The Union: A Guide to Federal Archives Relating to the Civil War (Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2004) 254-255.  First published as Guide to Federal Archives Relating to the Civil War in 1962, reprinted under present title in 1986.

Judy Russell, “Questions of Will,” The Legal Genealogist, 15 February 2013 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/2013/02/15/questions-of-will/ : accessed 18 February 2013).

How to pick a Client Report? or….don’t do what I did.

You might have numerous client reports available from which to pick.  I didn’t.  My friend and I are trading services….she is making me a quilt and I am researching one of her family lines.  I really like the product I have been working on for her but, I do believe I “bit off more than I can chew!”

This has been a labor of love but it has been intense.  I have been fascinated by her ancestor who fought in some of the bloodiest of Civil War battles, was hospitalized for “malarial fever” and was in Confederate prison for seven months.  I have learned so much about the Civil War!  While I love the project, I think I should have defined the project a lot smaller.  I have two documents:  one a lineage report and the other a graphic narrative.  I loved putting both together.  But I admit I got so “into it” that I am sure I am doing more than what was anticipated.

Nevertheless, I have a few more hours of coordination of the footnotes between the two documents and the attachments and I will feel that I am very very close to being done.  One thing I cannot forget to do is to review the rubrics and make sure I am address each of them (or at least if I think I am.)  Whoo wee!

I am getting eager to work on my other projects such as the kinship determination report.

So, if there is a lesson here, it is to “think small.”  I am sure this is a classic “beginner” pitfall.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  incorporated the pension record material I got from Veteran’s Affairs into the report, standardized all the footnotes in the Narrative, reviewed the lineage report and noted the footnotes that needed adjustment, accepted a position on the SGS Board as publications chair after September 2012, worked on the program for the Ostfriesen Genealogical Society of America’s conference in Rockford iL in August, did the registration spreadsheet (we already have 7 people signed up…we usually get ~130.), went to NARA Seattle and checked whether my gggrandfather was on a passenger manifest coming into New Orleans (he wasn’t) and worked on my assignment for class which isn’t due until the end of the term on 15 March.

So, how am I doing with my BCG certification process?

Right now I give myself a C+.  I have most of the papers drafted but not completed.  I got through the first quarter of class (I passed).  I am enjoying the people in the class and the project.  I still wish the class moved along a little more quickly and a little more systematically.  Blogging is fun.  It just may be that “hunker down” time of year (snow storm here in Seattle today) but I feel that I have gotten as far as I can with the BCG certification process itself.  I would like to wrap up Mary’s project here shortly for her (I anticipated a February delivery.)

Yesterday I went to our regional NARA and attended two classes:  1.) what is online with NARA and 2.) an overview.  They were very informative.  We even got to go into the stacks which was great fun.  It is amazing what they keep.  Did you know the keep about 1-3% of all generated documents?  Did you know that the Presidential Libraries are under their supervision?   Did you know they will come speak to your group almost for free if you are close in the area?  And, stating the obvious, they only keep Federal documents.  Gee, they even let you make free copies at our NARA!

I also got in a little research:

  1. I found out Jens T. Dahle’s death date.  All I had before was the death year from the tombstone.
  2. I found out the Jens definitely applied and received a pension from the government.  Anna Olina also received the benefit after her husband died until her death in the 1940’s.  I had been directed to the Bureau of Veteran’s Affairs and requested a copy of the record under the Freedom of Information Act (!), but I didn’t know if he actually had a pension or not.  The BVA tells me it may be 2 or 3 months before I get the document.  Obviously, I won’t have it in time to wrap up Mary’s project but I will probably have it for the class project.
  3. I ordered a tape from the Ft. Worth NARA (didn’t even know you could do that) of the original New Orleans entry records.  My mother’s side of the family landed in NY harbor in 1854 (just before Castle Gardens) and then sailed around to NO.  They traveled by paddle wheel boat (probably) up the Mississippi to Illinois.  They were not in the index of names for entry but I am hoping the indexers did a really bad job of indexing and I will find them there poorly spelled. Of course, they may not be there because they come into NYC first but it’s worth a look.

That doesn’t seem like a bad day at NARA at all!  Like you, I have had worst days….those are when you go and spend all day there and come out with less than nothing!  (Course, that has value too, but it doesn’t “feel” so good.)

There were lots of genealogy classes to attend yesterday in Seattle: in addition to the NARA classes, there was a series of classes on the 1940 census and a meeting of my software program interest group (TMG has just has a new version come out.  I need to get it loaded.)

We are staring to ramp up for the conference so you may start hearing more about the planning and organization of that event.  I have asked NARA if they will come from Chicago and teach a couple of classes.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  (and isn’t posted above)….still cannot find a confirmation of my grandmother’s birth.  Called the church hoping their were christening records in the early 1880’s.  I am sure there were.  They are there now.  I have requested a local newspaper by Inter-Library Loan to see if it made the local paper and if there is a paper extant and if extant, if I can read it!

Can the NGS conference assist in certification?

The quick answer is “yes”.

Over this holiday I have had an opportunity to do a little internet cruising, working on some of my assignments and other writing activities yesterday.

On 1 December NGS will officially open its registration for its annual conference in Cincinnati.(FYI: It appears to be open now.)  I am planning on attending.  A few of the classes caught my attention, primarily the all day workshop on BCG certification.  I am anticipating attending that one for sure.  Others of interest are the classes taught by Tom Jones.  I will look closely at any session marked for Advanced.  With the decision to attend the BCG certification workshop, it delays my submission of the portfolio to BCG from April/May to after the conference or May/June.

Any one else planning on going?

I recently received a letter from NARA which told me that they did not have the pension records for Jens but that they existed at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.  I have to requested the information using the Federal Information Act.  The letter from NARA was interesting as it was obvious that NARA felt that these records should be held by them and not Veterans Affairs.  It is interesting that the military records are held by NARA but not the pension records.

While I was looking at some items on the internet I discovered that a close acquaintance from Denver CO, Birdie Monk Holsclaw died in May of 2010.  In the 80’s, Birdie and I understood the power of the computer for genealogy.  We started the Colorado Computer Genealogy group, one of the first in the country.   She and I made contact again about 7 years ago and was very supportive .

Thinking of family in the broadest definition of the term!

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  Of my 9 items on my Thanksgiving Genealogy “to do” list, I have ticked off 6 items, including writing the class quiz, wrote Veterans Affairs, worked on the Chronology for class, wrote an article for the Ostfriesen newsletter about the conference in August, wrote a fun quiz for the same newsletter and wrote up the summary of issues on my Danish ancestor for Helle to give to her friend.  Whew!