Beautify Your Family History Research Binders – Dividers reimagined

Putting It All Together

This project is very near and dear to me. I have actually applied these changes to my parents’ binder and I will be changing all my binders over to this format one by one. The side benefit to working on this project is that I have pulled all my documentation into one place (the binder) and it has become a far better Life Story Book.  You be the judge. Here is my research binder after its transformation.

(This was made for my own personal use, but if you see some digital scrapbook paper that catches your eye, I will post a list of my digital papers that I used at the bottom of this article. Some of them are rather old, but I will try to give credits where I can find the information!)

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Tutorial Alert!

I am so excited to bring you this third tutorial that looks at the finishing touches that can be added to your Research Binders that will give the tabs a much needed update. Gone are the old tabs with the names typed so tiny that you can hardly read them. This tab system is simple, beautiful and very effective. (And I love how much nicer the whole book looks and feels!)

If you love the look of the dividers, they are an Avery product (Avery® Durable Write-On™ Plastic Dividers With Erasable Tabs, 8 1/2″ x 11″, Multicolor, 8 Tabs) and widely available at office supply stores. My favorite page protectors to use are the heavy weight non-glare sheet protectors. They are easy on the eyes and give added protection to the document.

 

Like the Beautiful Borders?

Binder w borders

If you see some borders on pages, I haven’t left them out of the tutorials on purpose; I promise! They are Welcome gifts that I send out to anyone that signs up to be a part of my Life Story Community. I am commited to transforming all our rich family documentation into amazing presentations that will captivate our family’s attention. That’s the goal, right?

Results

This has been a project that has made a profound difference in my own Research Binders. As we digitize everthing in our lives, there is still a place for hard copies — they can be viewed any place and any time — even if we don’t have wi-fi! I will be re-working all my albums in addition to any digital Life Story Books that I prepare.

I’d love to see some of your own updates – please post them to my FaceBook page, “It’s a Life Story”, email me[Michele at Lifestory dot com], or tweet me a picture[ at MicheleKerr on Twitter].

Better Yet

I would love to hear any stories of family members’ reactions to the binders!

 

As promised

Here is a list of some of the digital scrapbook papers that I used in my own personal family history research binder: 

Title pages & Parents Marriage Photo Page & Childhood Photo Page = Becky Higgins’ Heritage Edition  – designed by Celeste Knight:  http://www.digitalprojectlife.com/products/heritage-edition-full-collection

Work Photo Pages = Julie Mead’s Family Yearbook paper – http://www.scrappersguide.com/vol1_yearbook.html (This was a 2007 kit, so I’m not sure if this is still available.)

Beautify Your Family History Binders – Photos Are Up Next

Step Two_Photo Splendor title_Canva

Welcome to the second of three tutorials where we look at making a few changes to our Research Binders in order to make them a bit more reader-friendly. 

I’ve got a some information following the tutorial in case you find that you have any questions. Hopefully, I’ve addressed them all but feel free to send other related questions my way! If you haven’t seen the first tutorial in this series, you might want to read through that as well since I address a lot of basic information that you might not see in this second tutorial like background papers and using Picasa tools.

As I have explained in the first video, I am showing you the changes that I have made to my own personal family history research binder. I love the digital scrapbook papers that I have used. If you see some that catch your eye, you can find out where I got them at the bottom of this tutorial!

Video #2 – Beautify Your Family History Research Binders – Photos are Up Next Using Picasa

 

While working with clients for almost ten years, I have given back many a research binder filled with lots of wonderful documents detailing the lives of their ancestors. When I hand over those binders, one of the first things that I usually suggest is that they add family photos to the album to bring it to life. Today, I’m suggesting that we can take a couple more steps that might result in the binders actually being looked at by family.

Disclaimer alert!

The idea that your research binders won’t be enjoyed without sprucing them up doesn’t apply to everyone. This is just a trend that I have seen over quite a few years and a large majority of clients! They either do all the work themselves or have hired it done only to find out that no one in their family seems to care. To their family member’s credit, I also know that family history is something that we all have to be in the right place and time to want to become involved.  — I’m suggesting that we can nudge things along if we try a few things within our binders.

In my first tutorial I ended with the thought that we would all “love to lure our younger family members into looking at their family history and taking an interest.” Well, if you have ever watched the younger family members scanning their phone “feeds” of Instagram or FaceBook or whatever app they are fond of, you will quickly see that what gets their attention has to have something that draws them into the story or picture.

I’m not suggesting that we need to change our book solely for the younger family members, but that we can reach more generations if we combine those valuable documents with photos and stories – kind of tying it all together into an easy-to-digest format.

Stories – Got them?

Of course, there is always a little ground work to do before heading into any project and this one is no different. We need to have stories before we can incorporate them into our research binders. As you are pulling together the photos that you want to add to your binder, I suggest that you take copies of those pictures and make a few visits to family members that either knew the people in the photos or were actually in the photos themselves. Then I would prepare to make some notes as they reminisce about the event that was happening or something in particular that sparked a memory. It is these little bits of stories that make such an impact when adding it to your family history binder.

While I have your attention, I’d also suggest that you take this opportunity to get a video or audio record of your interview. Then I would save those clips to be enjoyed at a later time and possibly even added to a digital version of your binder.  (Just thinking ahead!) It also helps to be able to listen again and catch everything that was mentioned without having to stop the flow of the story as it is being told. Lastly, I suggest that you go ahead and leave the copies of the pictures you have been looking at with the family member as a thank-you. Of course, if you send them a copy of your finished page that includes their story, that would be even better!

No Pics? No Problem  — but Time is Wasting.

If this is where you are lacking, then again, I would make a point to contact all the family members you can get to and see when you might visit them.  Take along your smart phone and an app like “Heirloom” to scan the pictures. If you don’t have to take the photos out of their sight, it is more likely they will relax and then you can proceed with listening to their stories. Don’t be surprised if you don’t leave them with a real good feeling – talking with your family about their past makes them feel important as well as loved. A win-win situation in my mind!

I’ve said it before, but most of the older family members that I interviewed several years ago have all passed. If I hadn’t taken the time, I would have missed out on all their stories. Lesson learned the hard way.

Organization strategy – Who Needs It?

That title is laughable, I know. Once you start to collect any family documentation, stories, and or pictures, you quickly find out that you will need some type of organization. It can get crazy real quick.

 

To keep things simple, I would have a main folder on your computer titled with the Project name such as “Julian Family” or “Genealogy of John and Susie.” Then within that main folder, I would add the Surnames that you are starting with. Within each Surname folder, I would add the names of both the husband and wife that heads up each generation in a Last Name, First Name order such as “Julian Nathan.” And then, within each of those folders, I would add folders that have titles such as:

  1. Childhood through High School Years
  2. Marriage
  3. Military
  4. Organizations
  5. Family
  6. Death
  7. Land records (if you have enough that warrant a separate folder)
  8. Work / Business

Here’s an example of what my folder looks like:

Contained within Childhood folder_cropped

These are all simply suggestions and obviously they are based on a more recent generation – in fact these are the same titles that I used with my father’s folder. Just take a few minutes to jot down some ideas of what you think might work and then look through your binder to verify that it all makes sense. There is nothing worse than starting to organize things and quickly realizing that it just doesn’t work!

Once you are set with the format, then you can begin to scan the documents you have already located or download them directly into the folder that they belong. There are a lot of organizational plans for family research, but if you are going to try and tie them together for a presentation, this works well for me. I can have a visual idea of everything that I want to include in the binder and it is easy to pick and choose what I need!

Picasa – Love for Photos but Definitely Not a Word Processor. Did I mention it’s FREE?

As long as we all go into this project with the idea that we are going to keep costs to a minimum – FREE, then we can come to terms with the limitations that we will encounter. Picasa is a very user-friendly photo editor and photo management software. I’ve been using it for years even though I also have Lightroom and PhotoShop. It’s quick and easy to move around in and you don’t have to take a refresher course everytime you want to use it! By the way, I also have PhotoShop Elements and it is an excellent bridge product between Picasa and the full-blown Photoshop, but my focus with this tutorial was on FREE and EASY.

So, when you are preparing to tie the photos together with stories and documentation, you will want to have an idea of exactly what you want to get across with each page. In the page that I’m demonstrating with this tutorial, I am enlarging a section of a 1940 census so that I can see what was entered for my family. In my description of the census, I will explain the column entries and if I have any background information, I  will add that in as well. All the stories for that one page can be kept in one document for easy retrieval and then saved in the appropriate folder as well. As I’m working in Picasa, I can then simply copy and paste (Control-V) into Picasa.

This might take a bit of trial and error but it is really worth it and you will quickly get an idea of how much you can add to get the desired effect. You might need to adjust the size of type if you want to add more to a line.

Important Point for Adding Text

The important point here is that you will want to manually add RETURNS into your text so that it will pick up on the returns when it gets pasted into Picasa. Otherwise, it will become one long line of text and you will need to place the returns manually within Picasa. I think you will agree that doing it ahead of time is a good thing! You can always adjust the end of a line by deleting the <return> and adding it back at a different spot, but experiment first.

One other thought: When you paste your text in Picasa, it will be huge and you will need to shrink it down. That works for me, but it might take some getting used to when you are starting out!

Final Thoughts

I never know if anything I ever post will help anyone. But I can sincerely see the difference it has made in my own family history research binders and I am hoping that it might prove helpful to someone else. You might choose a different path to change up your binder, and I’m OK with that. I’d love to hear about the changes you have made and what has worked. And if you have taken it to a family get-together and have some reviews on how well the change-ups worked, I’d love to hear about that as well!

Digital Papers

Here is a list of some of the digital scrapbook papers that I used in my own personal family history research binder: 

Title pages & Parents Marriage Photo Page & Childhood Photo Page = Becky Higgins’ Heritage Edition  – designed by Celeste Knight:  http://www.digitalprojectlife.com/products/heritage-edition-full-collection

Work Photo Pages = Julie Mead’s Family Yearbook paper – http://www.scrappersguide.com/vol1_yearbook.html (This was a 2007 kit, so I’m not sure if this is still available.)

 

Our Family Research Binders need to be brought out of their closets! Let’s get them to the point that they see lots of light and are enjoyed by even more family members.

Beautify Your Family History Research Binders – First Up, Title Pages

Title Page graphic_canva

Make-over Alert!

Let’s face it – most of our family history binders need a little bit of help when it comes to eye-appeal. But who has time for that, right? Our research binders are a result of months, if not years’ worth of hard work and now I want you to think about how they look?

Well, let’s look at it from the opposite angle; we have to do something in order to draw the elusive family member into our stories. Plunking our tomes of family history research into their laps and expecting our loved-ones to want to read them might be asking a bit too much. Or haven’t you experienced the eye-roll when you have tried to do just that?

Maybe I’m over-exaggerating a bit much — but then again, maybe not… What draws you into reading a magazine? The cover most certainly.  And once you have started to look at a magazine, it had better have some pictures as well to break up the stories, am I right? You know I am.

Let’s make just a few easy changes and see if you don’t love your binder even more! I am suggesting that we change up the title page, add some pictures in a beautiful way and make-over those ugly tabs that we are so used to seeing! It’s not that hard and I, for one, am more than willing to try something so easy if one or more of my family members might be tempted to open up their own family history.

Three Simple Changes

It’s really pretty easy. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be breaking this down into those three DIY parts: 1) title page make-over, 2) adding photo pages with stories or at least captions and some comments, and 3) a major tab re-do that will instantly change the feel of your binder. And to help with the Title Page Make-over, I have decided that a video might work best. Before you check it out, you will need to install Picasa, a free photo editor/management program. We are going to use it kind of like design software.

Picasa is easy to set up and you can get it Here. This easy to use software can scan your computer to add all your photos and you can also use the folder manager (in Tools) to decide which folders to continuously monitor. I have been using Picasa for years and it is my go-to photo archive manager as well as a quick editor. For my purposes this time, I’m using it as a design program on a very simple level. Of course, you could purchase Photoshop Elements or even Photoshop, but for my purposes with these changes, Picasa fits the bill.

Video Alert!

This week we are making changes just with the title pages.


If you are interested in purchasing the same digital papers that I am showing, here is the link to Becky Higgins Project Life Heritage Kit.

[Please note that if you are not feeling comfortable enough to purchase Becky Higgins whole Heritage kit designed by Celeste Knight ($21.99) then you can easily just start with the title cards, journaling cards or filler cards. Individually, they are $3.99 each. There is a lot available online for free as well; just google “free digital scrapbook kits.” One of my favorite sites is ScrapGirls.  I would suggest that you watch the video and then decide. Also remember that you purchase once and use many times!]

If you do purchase a digital kit, you will need to download the kit and unzip the files. No problem! Here are the directions for that as well.  In order for Picasa to show your new papers like photos, you need to make one quick change once you have Picasa up and running:

Go to Tools and choose Options. Then click on File Types and click on all the formats available. Click on OK and you should be good to go! If you don’t do this little step, you might not see all the beautiful papers that you just downloaded .

Now that you have the house-keeping all done, give it a try!  I would love to see what you come up with for a title page.

One more reminder: You aren’t making this only to please yourself; remember the goal. Wouldn’t we all love to lure our younger family members into looking at their family history and taking an interest? For inspiration, you might look around at Pinterest or Instagram to see what is catching their eyes!

Over the next two weeks, I will be posting new videos and/or tutorials on how you can spruce up your own family history research binder. I hope you give the ideas a try and please let me know about your success stories!

Simple Steps to Posting in Instagram

Instagram Canva w screenshot

I know that a LOT of people know how to post in Instagram – this tutorial is not for you!

If you have Instagram but don’t know what to do next, let’s break it down. Follow along as I take you through a posting step-by-step!

 

  1. First step is to download and open up Instagram where you will be asked to sign up for an account. While you are doing that, I would suggest that you go ahead and upload a head shot of yourself to be used in your profile. (I keep the same headshot on my phone so that I have one whenever I want to set up a profile.) Remember, that when you are making a post anywhere, it is a lot more fun to be in a conversation with at least a photo of the person you are contacting! Leaving the photo blank just seems a bit creepy to me – so make sure to add one!

 

You can find lots of direction on what to add as your written profile, but at the very least, I would suggest that add you a few of your interests. As it relates to genealogy, I would add the surnames that you are working on as well. Of course, if you have a website and/or blog, you would want to put that URL in your profile as well! Once you start to look for other people to follow, you will start to see how valuable it is to be able to read a short blip on them and see if they line up with some of the same interests!

 

Once you have the account set up and you are ready to post, follow along with me as I show I posted a photo to my own Instagram account.

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  1. Your Instagram account is still open, right? Now look at the middle part of the bottom menu on your screen and you will see a square icon with a circle inside. That’s the button that you will want to tap in order to go to your camera roll or the camera itself and locate your photo to be used in the post.

 

So, this is Instagram and I’m just going to remind you that Instagram is all about the photo. You can add a message in the comments but really, it is still all about the photo. So when you are getting ready to post a photo, have some fun with it and try different angles as well as a few shots to decide which one you like best. If you love your photo, then that’s really all that matters at the end of the day. I wouldn’t suggest that you try to be just like everyone else.

 

I like to take photos of the little heirlooms that I have accumulated over the years so that I can share the stories that go with them. I will take the photo of the object or upload the picture that I want to use so that it is in my camera roll in my phone before making a post. This just makes things go smoothly and the picture can be edited in any app such as PhotoShop Express or simply using the filters within Instagram.

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  1. Once you have clicked on the photo that you would like to make your post about, then click on NEXT up at the top right of your screen. Here is what I think is the bread and butter of Instagram: the built-in filters! The little boxes at the bottom of the screen with the alphabet letters in them are the filters. Feel free to click on them all to see which one makes you happy when you look at it! If you click on the little sun icon just on top of the filter boxes, you can adjust just how much of the filter that you would like to use. Simply touch and drag the small blue circle to the right or left until you are satisfied with the look. Then either tap the “X” or “Y” button depending on whether or not you want to keep your changes.

 

If you look real close to the filter boxes, you can see a very blurred image of your photo and you will have a general idea of what the overall coloring will be with each filter – it just makes it a bit easier to not have to go through them all. Warmer filters catch my attention so I might only click on the ones that have some color that is pleasing.

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If you click on the odd little disc (tool?) icon at the right, just above the filter boxes, it will take you to even more tools such as straightening, brightness, contrast, warmth, etc . I would just open them up and start to play with them until you get a feeling for what each one does. You always have the option to cancel the changes by tapping the “X” button or to accept the changes by tapping the “Y” button.

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My favorite button to play with is the vignette and the tilt shift button. I actually used the tilt shift on this photo in order to give it a bit of depth. Play around!  Have some fun and always know that you can simply start over if you end up with something you aren’t happy with! Simply tap the back button!

 

Once you are done with your editing magic, tap the NEXT button on the top right hand side of the screen.

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  1. Your photo is done and now you are down to just adding your caption! Go ahead and tap within the box where the words, “Write a caption” are found and your keyboard will come up. Here’s where I love to add my little story (ok… sometimes it is a not-so-little story… but it is really for me and my kids so I’m writing about the object or the photo until I am happy with the story.) I have figured out that the posting looks easier to read if I don’t add any hashtags to clutter it up. Those can wait and be added as a comment after I have made my post. (I’ll quickly discuss hashtags at the bottom of this tutorial.)

 

Finished writing? Then simply tap the OK link at the top right-hand side of the screen and it will take you to the final staging area.

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  1. Aha! You have now made it to the point that you can tap the SHARE button at the bottom of the screen and it will post. Yay! To me, they all feel like little presents that I am sending off in the mail. And once you have shared the post, it will show up in your NewsFeed (the little home icon). You have the ability to add hashtags now as a comment.

 

As hard as I try to be perfect, I always find a typo in my caption, so I have become very comfortable in using the Edit function! In order to edit the caption, tap on the ME icon (the head and shoulders) and you can now see all your own posts. Tap on the posting that you would like to edit and there will be three little horizontal lines at the bottom of the screen. Tap those lines and in the little pop-up menu, you will see the edit tool. Click on that and you can then make changes to your caption. It always feels good to know you have options, right?

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  1. Now that you have your posting, let’s talk a bit about hashtags. They are everywhere but once you think of them as little tags or search tools, it will start to make perfect sense! With my postings, I want to add the person’s name that I am posting about. After I have made several using my mother’s name as a hashtag (full name,) then I can pull all the postings up at one time to look at everything posted about my mother.

 

Here is where is gets really powerful! If you are in contact with relatives and they begin to post their own photos or memorabilia to Instagram and you use the same hashtags, you can now pull up their postings and yours to look at the whole collection!

 

You can search on more general hashtags such as “#recipes” or “#family” to locate a world-wide conversation going on. And if you see something that interests you, I would click on that photo and look at the person’s profile to decide if you would like have them added to your news stream.

 

It is definitely a learning process to get comfortable with everything, but once you get to that point, then it is quite a bit of fun to look and see what others are posting!

  1. One more thing… Once you have 60 postings, you can choose to have your Instagram printed off by a company called Chatbooks. It costs $6.00 per book and as you get 60 pages accumulated, they will print off each book. I am looking forward to getting to that number. My hope is that I can print off the captions as well as the photos and then have a book about our families that I can pass down to the children!

 

The bonus to all of this is that my children seem to really enjoy looking at the my Instagram postings and reading the captions when they have a few minutes. (They range from ages 12 to 26.) I’m not above doing whatever it takes to attempt to make them interested in their own family history!

 

Yes, this all takes a bit of work, but at the end, I have done it for myself and my children and descendants down the road. They’ll have these treasures and the stories behind them to last forever!

Are you on Instagram? What are you favorite things to post and what do you enjoy looking at? I’d love to hear!

Day One Journaling Tutorial: It’s your own Life Story

Day One Canva w Screenshot-

I know that we all like to think that every event will be saved in our memories forever – how could we ever forget? – but trust me, they will fade and suddenly you are left with only a general memory and not all the little details that made it so special. 

Day One App — explained in detail.

As promised, here is the step-by-step tutorial for the Day One app that I mentioned in my recent post titled “Its a Life Story Challenge.” (you can re-read it here!) Whether you are a parent, scrapbooker, and/or family historian, the Day One app is well worth the cost ($4.99 for iPhone and iPad.) Again, for some of you, this will be way too detailed, but I know that there are some that might find my tutorial very helpful so here we go…

Step One:  After loading the Day One app onto your phone, you will first get a black and white screen.  Always intimidating but absolutely no problem!

One Day app Step one pics

To get started, just click on the little camera icon to be whisked away to your camera photos or photo stream! The fun part is deciding which photo you are going to choose to represent your post. This app doesn’t have any editing features so I would suggest doing any fix-ups or cropping before you load it up.

One Day app Step one pics-2

Once you have selected your photo, it will come up with a little message box that asks, “Would you like to change the entry date / time to the Photo’s time?”  I like to revert back to the photo’s date and time so that it keeps a record of the exact day and time that I took the photo(its metadata.) If you are using a scanned photo, it won’t have the correct date so you can then enter it in or at least type in your best guess. Don’t worry too much because you can easily change it later! With this date feature, I can easily miss a couple of days and then enter them at a more convenient time (sooner than later!) and it will appear with the correct day and time.

 

Step Two: Journaling! Don’t let this intimidate you. Think of this as your own little place to write where you don’t have to worry about who might be looking and judging you. This is a safe place to write down some of the little details that occurred when this picture was taken. Sometimes, I only add one picture for an entire day and that’s ok as well. I am capturing my life and this doesn’t have to be perfect.

 

Some people like to have journaling prompts and others like to just write freely. I would just suggest that you include people’s names and the places where the picture or story are taking place. Maybe it would make the process easier if you think about your writing as if you were telling a friend of yours the story (Maybe a friend that doesn’t know anything or anyone in your life or circle of friends.) If you do this, I think that you will find that you put a little more detail in your writing naturally!

One Day app Step two pic

 

Once you have finished your journaling for this picture, you will hit DONE at the top right of the screen. Voila! You have written your first post. Believe me, they get easier with each one. In fact, I find that I am really looking forward to taking a few quiet moments to do this every day or every other day. What I am not doing is putting any more pressure on myself to have to do it every day.

 

I want this to be a present to myself and a gift to my children down the road.

So, what if you want to add two or three pictures or even more? That’s alright as well. It’s your journal and you can do whatever you want, right? There are days that I have been pretty busy, especially on a recent vacation, and I wanted to capture several small stories of the day and the people with me. It is very easy to just add another picture and I’m off telling another snippet of a story.

One Day app Step three

Step Three:  Once you have made your first post, you will see the photo and the journaling directly below the picture. If it is longer than will fit in that little tiny space, then you can simply scroll down and the rest of your story will unfold. Excited? I was thrilled on my first post and actually, I get a little happy after each one!

 

Let’s take a look at the bottom of the screen at the black menu bar. The first flag icon on the left is a link that takes you to the Day One website where you can post your entry online. For me, I am keeping my journal on my phone and backing up to my Dropbox.

 

[Note: You can set up the Dropbox feature back at the main screen by hitting <-Timeline <-Menu and then Settings and Sync. You will need to have Dropbox set up before you do this so you can enter your Dropbox information. If you are not familiar with Dropbox, it is a cloud storage that gives you access to your files from any of your devices: computer, mobile phone, or tablet. And the best part is that the basic storage plan is free!]

 

Back to the black menu bar. You will see an up arrow and a down arrow that will allow you to easily scroll through your entries. On a touch screen device, you can also swipe your finger up and down on the screen and it will move through the entries.

One Day app Step two pic-2

The (+)Plus sign brings up a choice to enter another picture or simply enter text. (Some times there just are not any pictures taken during an event, but it is still wonderful to journal about it!)

 

Step four:  We have made entries but what if we want to print them out? This is where it gets fun again. Let’s look at the little black menu bar at the bottom again. You will see a row of three dots (***) and upon tapping that feature, you now have options! Lots of them.

 

The best part of this whole app is that it can make my entries into a single PDF that I can save or print out and keep. Now I have something that I can hand down to my children. I can pick and choose which pages to keep as well. [Remember that with a PDF, you can delete pages and also choose which pages to print.]

 

There are other options that you might like to explore as well, including uploading directly to your Twitter account. I like the idea of this being a separate part of me and keeping it under wraps until I am ready to share it with my four children. I might even think about having it printed and bound into books for each year. Who knows, but the good news is that I am doing it. It is easy and combines both of my passions for photos and family stories.

 

Step Five:  Remember that black and white screen that you got when you first opened up the app?

 

One Day app Step five pic

You can always go back there by selecting  <–Timeline <-Menu. You can access the timeline directly from here as well as a calendar and photos and even any tags that you might want to add.

 

[Note: Tags are a great thing to think about adding up front or as you enter a picture. If you ever would like to see all your “Beach” photos or entries, you could simply go to this area and select the “Beach” tag and all your beach entries would show up in date order. Yes, this is a very good thing as Martha Stewart would say! You don’t even have to go hunting for a picture in your archive of when you went to a particular beach, you can simply select the tag. So, of course, you have to tag your photos when you are making your entries or go back and tag them later for this feature to work. That is why it is a good thing to think about it before you begin your journaling experience. You might even write up a basic list of tag names that you might think you would like to search on at a later point depending on your own needs! Names, places, activities, etc. Just look for the tag icon when you are entering your journal entry. It will prompt you at the top of the screen to enter a tag.]

 

As a scrapbooker for over twenty-some years, I have a passion not only for the pictures but the stories behind the photos. And, try as I may, there are times when I don’t get all the pictures into albums… Ok, maybe even years… but if I find a group of pictures within my photo archive (which is massive,) I could then go back to my journal and find that day. Guess what? All the details are now written down!  (Or I can use my tags as well as long as I keep using them.)

 

And if you don’t scrapbook, how does this apply? Ok, well, your children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren would be ecstatic to be able to poke around your journal and get an idea of all the things that you did on a daily basis. As a family history researcher, I would LOVE to be able to read my ancestors’ thoughts as they went about their daily lives. I can find the documents and possibly photos, but it takes a lot to be able to put yourself into their shoes and imagine what all they endured.

 

It’s those stories that give me strength and a foundation to live my own life. A bit melodramatic, yes, but I think that I am pretty spot-on when it comes to that desire to understand my ancestors better. I want my children to have a sense of what I was thinking as I went through part of my life. I’m fifty-three, ok, fifty-four, and I WISH that I had kept better journals during the time that I was raising my children. Now, as we are down to the last one at home, I can only hope that they will enjoy this small look into my life!

 

I’ve talked about it before… my mother passed away in 2000… and I still find myself looking for little tidbits of her writing or old letters that remind me about a particular time. If I don’t get anything else done in my own life, I am determined to leave a part of myself to my own children!

 

Please share this with your circle of friends as a gentle nudge to get started with our own Life Stories! It’s never too late — until it is too late!

Reality hits – Talking with your older generations just can’t wait

Interviews_CanvaCan I ever say it enough that we all need to talk to our older family members? I’m always telling others this, but it wasn’t until I wrote out a simple Tweet yesterday that it hit like a bullet just how important it is to interview our older family members.

 

I started out casually browsing through my Twitter feed and came across a tweet that took me to an article posted on Crestleaf.com’s Blog titled, “Breaking Genealogical Stereotypes: Interview with D. Joshua Taylor.” You can find the entire interview here.

 

I have listened to quite a few talks by Mr. Taylor and of course have been watching him on Genealogy Roadshow so it caught my attention. In the article, Crestleaf asks what is important when interviewing relatives.

D. Joshua Taylor responds that you ask the person:

  1. Who was the oldest relative you knew,

  2. Ask them about their childhood, and

  3. Ask them to give you a memory about yourself.

 

These are three wonderful interview questions and ones that we all need to jump on sooner than later. While I am still a newbie at Twitter, even though I have had an account since it started, I responded back with this:

 

“Thanks goodness I took the opportunity to interview as many of my elderly relatives early on. They’re all gone.”

Now, staying away from judging my tweet for its brilliance or lack of, this short couple of statements stopped me for a moment after I hit “send.” You see, I had make the attempt to talk to all my elders and my husband’s older family members several years ago – within the past fourteen years. Why specifically “fourteen?” That’s easy. My mother passed away from non-hodgkins lymphoma in 2000.

 

Suddenly, she was gone. Way before that we had even had discussions on what she might do if she outlived my father. And now my mom was the one that was gone. Always planning on having her around until she was past her eighties, she was gone at age 70. With her went all the stories of her past that I vaguely knew about but never had asked specifics.

 

I’m terribly sorry to be such a downer in this writing, but sometimes it takes a shocker like loosing a parent to jolt you into action. Lots of good came from this loss of my mother  because in a way, I might not have thought too much about trying to interview all my relatives. What’s funny is that I probably wouldn’t be in the position that I am today with my family history research if she had lived a long life. I wouldn’t have felt the need to get those interviews.

 

What would I have missed? My great-aunt on my father’s side described both of her grandfathers and gave me quite a few details about her own father, my great-grandfather. I would have never had these details by simply searching through records and books. They wouldn’t have told me that all four generations of Julian men, including my father, were very focused on work. They worked long hours to the point that family time was cut short, but they all felt a great need to push themselves to finish what was at hand. They needed to get the job done.

 

Of course I knew this about my father, but after talking with her, it all suddenly made sense. And it made even more sense when I looked at myself and my brother with this knowledge. What I had held as a slight grudge against my father for always working, became something that was bigger than him – it was “in his DNA” as you might say.

 

Lots of other priceless stories came from these interviews, too many to tell all at once. But the striking thing about this is that they are all GONE. Every last one of them has passed away. Can we take the chance to not get the family stories written down somewhere for the future?

 

Finding out about your family’s history and their stories, gives you a foundation to live on.

So, my advice this time is to not fret about getting all the questions answered at once from your older family members. As Nike says, “Just Do It!”

It’s a Life Story Challenge

LifeStory Challenge_2

 

Up for a challenge?

This one doesn’t take a lot of time, money or even effort, but the rewards will be payed forward for generations. Let’s get started!

Routine Change #1:  Day One App

Day One is a photo/journaling app (aka Diary) and it has become my newest best buddy. How could this possibly relate to family history, right?

Well, technically, the definition for family history is the study of genealogy and everything else in our lives including our “background, location, and circumstances.” In my mind, our family history starts with ourselves. My youngest daughter taught me this most important lesson when she would ask me to relate my own childhood stories to her in place of bedtime stories.

I can remember thinking that I didn’t have anything remotely interesting to tell her, but it turned out that she did love to hear all about my childhood and kept asking for more every night for quite a while. That was a big wake-up call to me and has had me thinking that not only do I need to work on my line of ancestors but I also need to keep working on my own life story.

Day One Canva w Screenshot-So, back to the Day One app.  At $4.99, it is definitely the most expensive app that I have ever bought (available for both Apple and Android devices) but it has some very luxurious features that make me feel happy when I use it. How about that for a description!

It politely reminds me to journal about my day and allows me to add pictures as well as descriptions of the photo. This way, as I am capturing all these great photos of my day-to-day life, the stories are being kept as well. See where I’m going with all of this? It is the stories that our children and grandchildren and/or descendants want to know about.

I search records all the time getting facts with names, dates and places, but the real treasure, in my mind, is when I find a story!

Two more points that are critical for this app is that it will sync with a dropbox account (free cloud storage for the basic level) and it can be saved off as a PDF. Now, if you think about it, you can print books that contain all your entries and have a beautiful story of your life start to unfold.

Routine Change #2:  Instagram

 

Ok, this one also makes me just feel happy when I do it as well! It’s Instagram; plain and simple. Oh, I have had my Instagram account since about the time they started it back in 2010. Over the years, I have posted a couple of pictures and followed quite a few people to see all their beautiful posts but I haven’t ever figured out exactly what I would post. Until now…

I had an epiphany recently and it all seemed to make perfect sense. I am now posting pictures of all the wonderful things around our home that have a special meaning to me and my husband. Things like the christening gown that my mother wore, or the train clock that my husband’s grandfather owned, or the plates that my mom had accumulated. Yes, the list goes on and on which happily means that I will have quite a few things to post for a long time.

Instagram Canva w screenshotWhile my youngest daughter gasped that I wrote a fairly long description for my first entry, I am not letting that intimidate me. It is not like on Twitter where you have a defined number of characters. I can go ahead and give a description of the item as well as any stories and history information that I might have. Some will be short and some will be longer—I’m ok with that! This isn’t necessarily for anyone else’s eyes but my daughters, son and close relatives.

Here’s the absolutely best part of all of this: I can print a Chatbook from my postings on Instagram and I will have yet another priceless treasure documenting all the things that mean so much to me. Actually, they are not worth all that much moneywise – only memories and attachments to family that make me feel good when I see them! Once again, it is all about getting our own family stories down to be enjoyed some day down the road.

The interesting part of this is that I think my children will really enjoy these little insights into the things that they have  grown up with.  I’m betting that for the most part, they couldn’t tell me much about any of them. Hey… it’s not for not telling them, alright? I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that they really want to know all this but when bombarded with all the studying that they have to do as well as work, they just don’t have time or a brain that is ready to take on anymore information.

There is the beauty in this! They can look back at my postings anytime and browse through the pictures and read as much as they want. And, they will be able to look at the Chatbooks I’m going to print as soon as I have a year’s worth – maybe for Christmas? And don’t forget hashtags when writing – I am going to give each family member a hashtag that I will use so that later, I can pull up all the entries that I have posted for each one. Now, how is that for something really cool? (I know that I am dating myself by using the word, “cool” but it just is!)

So you see, with these two really simple routine changes and you can rest assured that your own Life Story will carry on for the total pleasure of future generations.

Once again, I realize that for some of us, these new tools don’t seem so friendly, so tutorials will be coming shortly on the Day One App and Instagram for Family History. I’ll get into the details how to download them as well as how to get started to use all the different functions. When I have them ready to go, I’ll send out a note in the next newsletter!

Please share this with your friends and family! This is something that we can pass around to almost anyone that has a smartphone or uses a computer. As always, if you have any stories that you would like to share about your own method of journaling, I would love to hear about what works for you!

TurboScan step-by-step. Making your research so much easier!

Step-by-step title_72 dpi 400x200My background is in computers so when I see new things that catch my attention, I am all over it. After catching the livestream from RootsTech 2015, I got really excited because most of what I was seeing all pertained to getting the stories and finding creative ways to share the information.

As we all know, you can do the most impressive amount of research, but if no one looks at it except for the facts, then it kind of like having a sports car that never makes it out of the garage!

One of the problems that I have been dealing with since I started into genealogy some fourteen years ago is getting copies of documents. It used to be that when I would go to a library or courthouse, I would have to find the copier and make sure that I had enough change.  So, I am talking about a lot of quarters or dimes which would flow like water when I came across something that was really important!

Gradually, I figured out the I could take a digital camera and in a special mode, I could take a picture of the page and then download it onto my computer, edit it to make it lighter and easier to read and then crop and print. Compared to making all the copies, I thought I was on the cutting edge.

After I got my first iPhone, I gradually started to find myself without a camera and pulling my phone out to grab a picture.  I mean, who carries cash around anymore for the copiers let alone any quarters? Now, I realized that I am no longer carrying my camera and all my copies are being done on my iPhone. But still, all the pictures have to be downloaded, “fixed up” and then printed out.

Fast forward to the future of scanning and now we have apps like “TurboScan.”

So, here is the scoop.  We can now take pictures, crop them to the size of the page and link them all together to be saved as one PDF file. That alone is worth the price of admission in my mind ($2.99).

Turboscan logo

TurboScan by Piksoft Inc.

 

Got your attention? Wait a minute…

The one problem that I find is that there is a gap between those that are comfortable with all the new technology and those that are not quite as warm and fuzzy about it. If you land on the 2nd side, then here’s the step-by-step on how to TurboScan while documenting your family research:

  1. Obviously, you will need to first purchase the app from the iTunes store or grab it at the Google Store for Androids. Download it, then open the app and you have a perfectly blank screen with three options: Camera, SureScan-3x and Album.

IMG_6254

Click on Camera and hover your phone’s camera over the page that you would like to copy.  If it looks good, go ahead and click on the large circle on the screen to take the picture.  Tips: find the best light in the room that you are in. If you have natural light, then get close enough to pick up the light without being in the sunbeam (My cat loves our front window’s bright sunlight but pictures don’t do as well!)

  1. Your picture will show up on the phone’s screen and is now covered up by a frame adjuster. Take your finger and move the corner circle tabs to fit the outside edges of the page you just copied. Once done, click on the Done button. This will make your copy nice and neat without getting a picture of the table in the background. IMG_6255 Now you have some decisions to make. Your picture shows up in black-and-white mode and by touching the different shaded boxes at the bottom of the screen, you will adjust the contrast. If you really want to keep the color, then it is a click away (bottom, right “photo” tab.) The arching arrows are there to rotate the picture. Once you have it to your liking, click on Done (top right.)IMG_6256
  2. Are we done yet? No way. Let’s do a 2nd page and because you know that you have to have the title page whenever you get a picture of a document. Go ahead , look for the little page on the bottom right with a plus-sign and click on it. You are now ready to take a 2nd scan of another page. [Tip: Always get that copy of the title page of the document you are copying. That piece of documentation is only good if you can re-create it when needed or prove that it once existed. If the year the book was published is not included on the title page, then you will want to get a scan of the page that includes the publishing information as well.]IMG_6257
  3. Yay! You now have two pages that will become one PDF document. Just follow the instructions above for cropping the picture and changing the contrast if needed. Once you take the picture, you will notice that your screen now shows two preview pages. The little red circles on the left are there for easy deleting. Just tap on one and it will allow you to click on Delete to quickly take away an unwanted photo.IMG_6262
  4. Once you are at the screen that shows the multiple photos, click on one and it will take you into a zoom mode. Take a second to zoom in really close to make sure that the text is clear. There is nothing worse than getting home and finding out that your scan is blurry! That is frustrating especially if you have traveled several hours to get to that repository. (Just in case you are not sure how to zoom in, go ahead and touch the screen in the middle with your thumb and forefinger and then open them while still touching the screen. Kind of like flicking something at your sibling!)
  5. For filing purposes, it’s all in the name. Go ahead and name your file while it is fresh in your mind. It’s that little pen at the bottom of the screen. You can add the name and change the size of the document if you want.IMG_6263
  6. Now, here’s where the magic takes place. At the bottom of the screen on the bottom left, you will see the little half box with an up-facing arrow. Click on that arrow and you get options!IMG_6264
  7. In order to “email to myself” you will need to set up yourself in the settings. At the original screen, there is a cog-wheel and that will take you to the settings area where you can add your email.
  8. Once you have your email added, you can now “email to yourself.” If you are copying pages of documents, then it emails the files as PDF’s to you.  Sending a picture? JPEG.
  9. Remember the beginning and one of the options is “SureScan 3x?” This allows you to take 3 pictures at differing settings and combining them to get the best image. I think that the regular picture is pretty good but this is something to experiment with. Don’t worry about getting the picture exactly the same; it seems to allow for movement of the camera and work with the information that it receives to bring you the best image.IMG_6265
  10. Of course you can save your file to your camera roll, but if you think about it, sending it to your email makes a lot of sense since it doesn’t take up important space on your phone and it can be retrieved later via any computer that you would like to open your email in. It can also be shared easily with other family members! Once you are satisfied that you have sent it to your email, then feel free to delete. If you touch the document file that you have just made and emailed to yourself, then you will see the little trash can that will take your image off to never-never land. Remember that this will save space on your phone for all those important photos of family and friends!

I’m hoping this helps. While I love all the new technology, it is moving as such a fast pace and can become very intimidating very fast. For some of you, this is making it way too basic but I know that there might be just a few that will appreciate these steps to be written down!

As always, feel free to contact me with any particular questions that you might have about genealogy research in general and I will try to work them into future posts!

You think you have heard it all?

Subject: Indiana State Library – Indiana Collection

The Indiana State Library is very near and dear to my heart.  As the genealogist for The Society of Indiana Pioneers, we are fortunate enough to have our office located within the Genealogy Section of the ISL on the first floor. As I said last week, I am so lucky to be able to have access to all the books,  computer databases, family and county files whenever I need them.

 

In this article, I would like to cover some of the things that lure me up to the second floor of the State Library almost every time I go.

My top 5 reasons to visit just the Indiana Collections Section (2nd floor) of the Indiana State Library are:

  1. Newspapers on microfilm by county
  2. County Records (Marriage, Probate, and Land Records) on microfilm
  3. County Histories
  4. City Directories
  5. Biography Index

1

Newspapers on microfilm

Newspapers are the window into the world that our ancestors lived in and are an incredible resource to us as family history researchers. The first thing that I think all researchers think of when it comes to newspapers are the obituaries, death notices and marriage articles. This is a pretty strong enough reason, but as you look for those obituaries, take a minute to read some of the articles or sections on the township that your relative lived in and the headlines for the day to get a flavor for what was going on in the area!

 

Where do you get started? You need to know what county and hopefully what city your ancestor lived in so that you can check to see what is available. You can click on THIS (and scroll down) to go to the index of newspapers that the ISL has by each county. It is worth the time to look at the index since it will quickly tell you if the library has the date(s) that you need.  If there wasn’t a newspaper in your ancestor’s particular town, then I would go to the county newspaper or the newspaper where the county seat is located.

 

Here’s a tip: Always start with the day that your ancestor passed away if you know it. Some newspapers took information up until they printed the paper and might have added a death if it occurred early in the day. Then I keep checking for several days after the death date when looking for the obituary. There are times that it might take a week to show up. You will want to also look at the township “chatter” sections because they might give you some information concerning the death or family that came into town visiting, etc.

 

The microfilm readers are a little tricky to get used to so don’t hesitate to ask one of the very helpful librarians to get you started. I have my favorite ones to use which is pretty common! As far as retrieving a copy, you have several options as well. They do have local printers and you pay on the honor system to the librarian when you are done. You are allowed to bring USB drives and plug them into the computers to save your images to take home with you and they can also be emailed as well. Of course, you can also do like I do and take pics with my camera. I like the ease of being able to take the image back with me and not fuss with any of the computers at the library. Just the microfilm machine and me… Again, it all gets back to what you are comfortable with so don’t hesitate to try different things while you are there to see what fits best for you.

2County Records on Microfilm

My next favorite section is the County records on microfilm and I do spend a lot of time in this area. You can find an index of what all is available HERE. When I am looking for a document that ties generations together, I always head to the Wills, Probate  and Estate Records first. It helps to have a general idea of when your ancestor passed away so you can narrow down your research time-frame. As you can see by the picture, each county record is clearly labeled by county and then by section such as wills or marriages.

 

One tip: The drawers in these types of cabinets can be a bit finicky so you need to make sure that all the drawers are shut in order to open one up. There are times that I will find a drawer with just a little bit open and it will keep the rest of the file drawers from opening. Sounds silly but you wait until you are standing there desperately trying to get a drawer open and you’ll thank me for this tip!

 

Indexes are the key to microfilmed records. The WPA Marriage books by county can lead you to the Volume number and page to locate a marriage record. Just a reminder that these are not the fancy marriage records that you might find framed on a wall, but they are the records that are made at the county recorder’s office. Just the facts, thank you!

 

You will quickly see that there might be more than one volume (or copied book) listed on the microfilm. I find that if I need to go to the 2nd or 3rd volume that I can do a quick fast-forward and watch the screen for a black space to come up.  It doesn’t last long, so you definitely have to keep your eyes focused (or slightly unfocused but still gazing towards the screen.) I say unfocused since I get a little dizzy watching the screen whirl by me too fast – but that is just me! If I need to go to the third volume on a microfilm, then I will watch for the 3rd black space and quickly stop. It usually takes just a quick adjustment to check the label and make sure that I have reached the correct volume.

 

For the most part, you will find indexes in the front of the microfilm section but I have also found them at the back. There are also volumes that are simply indexes. Sometimes they cover many decades and you will have to just move through the microfilm until you reach the alphabet letter you are looking for. Each indexing system can be a little different and can range from simply all the “A’s” listed on one page, etc. to a more complicated system.

 

I might also suggest that you check down in the county section of the Genealogy Library on the first floor to see if there are any marriage, land or will indexes already printed. That is a huge help. I do recommend that you go ahead and get the a copy of the original though, because the transcribed or indexed information is only as good as the transcriber! As they used to say in my computer courses in college – “Garbage in, Garbage out!”

 

Indianapolis Newspaper Index

There is really so much to say about all the sections, that it would take a short booklet to cover it all. The Indianapolis Newspaper Index can be found in the “old-fashioned” catalog cabinets that is located right by the librarian’s desk near the microfilm. If you have any Indianapolis ancestors or ancestors that might have been written up in Indianapolis newspapers, it would be worth a look. You can find an online index HERE as well, but if you are in the library, I suggest actually letting your fingers do the walking! When I use these card files,  I think of dedicated librarians laboriously typing up each card noting a name and the newspaper information such as date, page, and brief description. Some of the cards were actually typed up by the WPA workers.  But the sheer dedication to the task at hand is quite unfathomable to me, someone used to using NewspaperArchive and OCR scanning. But as of this time, these particular Indinapolis newspapers have not all been digitized for OCR so this is a resource that I always hope that I can have an excuse to use!

Then you can simply head over to the Indianapolis newspapers on microfilm and easily locate the article you found. Oh, I love indexes!

 

Indiana Biographies

There are also indexed card files for Indiana Biographies located on the 1st floor on the east side of the library in the Grand Hall pretty much by itself. You will know you are in the right place because of the stained-glass. You can find them online HERE but it is fun to actually sift through the cards! Once you have located the book title, write down all the information and take it to the librarian at by the top of the 2nd floor stairs. They are located by the north facing windows and are more than happy to retrieve the book that you have located. These books are located in closed stacks so a librarian will need to retrieve them for you.

 

City Directories

And don’t forget the City Directories and County Histories that are also available on the 2nd floor. Being able to locate your ancestor in a city directory can help to zoom in on when an ancestor passed away or or where they lived and what their occupations were from year to year. You can find the listing by county HERE.

 

County Histories

The County histories are so very interesting once you understand that the biographies that they sometimes hold were given by family members that paid to have their own biography printed. So, when a lineage society suggests that you can’t always use a county history for proof, you really can’t fault them. Many times I have found that a family member gave faulty information either by mistake or on purpose to bolster their family’s history a bit! But, they are invaluable since sometimes the history was taken during the lifetime of the pioneer ancestor and this means that most, if not all of the information, is pretty close to the truth. Once you have a biography found in a county history, then backing it up with extra documentation to bolster it just might be enough to make a circumstantial case. Never give up! You can find a directory of available County Histories HERE.

 

Whew… I am exhausted from these two articles on the Indiana State Library. While you might not have ancestors that came from our state, it is good to know that if our state library carries information on other states, then most likely other state libraries will be very similar.  I haven’t even touched on the Manuscripts and Rare Books area along with so many more great places to do some family history hunting! Take some time and browse around the ISL website. Make yourself at home! I certainly hope that it makes you think that if you haven’t crossed the threshold of a library lately, either local or state, that it might be a good time for a roadtrip!

Good hunting!

Surprises in Unexpected Places

Subject: Indiana State Library Genealogy Section

The Indiana State Library Genealogy Section is located on the first floor of the library. Step on in and near the back you will find the Family History Books by sorted by surname.

The Indiana State Library Genealogy Section is located on the first floor of the library. Step on in and near the back you will find the Family History Books sorted by surname.

Oh, woe is the family history researcher that doesn’t check out all their local resources.

I know that I believe heavily in maximizing what is available through digital resources but hold your horses if you think that I would recommend not hitting our local and state libraries to supplement our research!

Many treasures can be found and it is well worth the trip from wherever you might live to visit your own state library. As an example, let’s take a look at my home state of Indiana to see what gems are available to me and you – all free!

The Indiana State Library (ISL ), which has been in existence since 1825, is one of those treasures that makes you scratch your head in amazement that it wasn’t at the top of your must-visit list.

Here are the top 10 reasons to visit just the Genealogy Section of  your Indiana State Library:

  1. County Records – books
  2. Family History Books
  3. Family Files (loose papers)
  4. County Files (loose papers)
  5. Maps
  6. Feeder State Books and more
  7. Lineage Society Books – DAR, SAR, etc.
  8. Military Books – Revolutionary, Civil War, etc.
  9. P.A. (Works Project Administration) Indexes for 68 of 92 Counties
  10. Database access – Ancestry Library Edition, NewspaperArchive, etc.

I am pretty sure that I have left out even more, but these are the top ones on my radar! Can I get most of these online? Some of these items can definitely be found online with a little digging.

And yes, this is just in the Genealogy Section of the ISL! I’m not even touching on the rest of the massive amount of materials that are available to all of us. Can I say free too many times? You can check out ALL the offerings here.

So, let’s take a look at what makes a few of the sections that I mention above so valuable.

Family History Books

This is the goal of everyone doing their family history research – to get to a point that you can put your own valuable documentation into a book form for others to look at and share. I’m certainly not the first person to gently nudge researchers to do this! And at the ISL Genealogy Section, they have been accumulating family history books for a long time.

As patrons or family members of Indiana families have their own family histories published, many are submitted to be added to the library’s genealogy collection. I have had several clients that have added their own books to the ISL collection for future generations and to be certain that their work will be maintained for many more generations to come. You never know what you might find in these books.

I have located several of my own family lines and it is amazing to read some of the stories that were passed down – but to a different side of the family. If I had not found that particular book, I might have never known about some of the stories that have brought my own family history to life!

3County Records – Books

Each county section is an area that is filled with books that pertain to that particular county (as you would expect, right?) These books can range from cemetery listings to newspaper extracts to will extracts and the list of items just keeps going. You can get a listing of each county and what books are available by going here.

Before hitting the microfilm to look for probate and land records, it is always a good thing to check to see if there are any books on those topics within the county. There have been quite a few hardy soles that have already gone through all the above-mentioned records (either in person or via microfilm) and possibly made indexes. Some probate record books include citations —think names listed in the wills.

If you have ever looked at county microfilm records, they contain filmed copies of the original documents. Some include indexes and some do not. Being able to look at an index that might span several microfilm containers would save you a lot of time. Yes! I’m all for that!

 

4Family and County Files

At the ISL, there are many filing cabinets filled with loose papers that have been submitted over the years by patrons that might not have published an entire book but wanted to leave a copy of some document that they have in their possession that they feel might help other researchers. This section is broke down into family surnames and counties. You can’t really read it well, but in my picture, I was looking for the Julian family folder. I could easily look at the Fulton County folder as well to see what might be available. Of course, you can let your fingers do some walking as well by searching the catalog. Anything that shows up as “uncat” will be found in these file cabinets.  This is a great reason to contact public and state libraries directly in the area you might be researching because they might have a family file on your ancestor!

Feeder State Books

Oh, this is where it gets really good! Before I became the genealogist for The Society of Indiana Pioneers, I made many a trip up the Allen County Public Library (which is the largest genealogy public library in the U.S.)

I LOVE that library! In fact, it is hard to not sing their praises and those of Curt Witcher who is the voice of the library and Senior Manager of Special Collections. I forget how many books come into the genealogy section of the ACPL every day, but it is mind-blowing when you hear the number.

Once I took on the genealogist’s role within the Society of Indiana Pioneers, I quickly became aware of what was all available right there at the Indiana State Library. You see, our office is located within the Genealogy Section of the state library on the first floor.  So, don’t feel bad if you didn’t know what all was contained inside the state library. I didn’t either!

Ok, everyone would guess that the Indiana State Library Genealogy section would contain county records and books, which is does, but just think about all the feeder states that pioneers came from to get to Indiana in the earlier days of our state and country. The ISL has a reputable amount of books from these states as well. I really shouldn’t even say “reputable” since it gives the illusion that there are only a small amount of books from these feeder states. I have personally done research in New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio to name a few. I’m just saying… if you want a one-stop place for research, you need to make the trip to both public and state libraries!

2WPA Indexes

This is a wonderful example of public funds going to project that has lasted for almost 100 years and will continue to be valuable to researchers for many more to come.  A great articleby PBS on the Works Project Administration can be found here. For Indiana, it meant that each county was given  the ability to choose how their allotted funds would be spent.  Sixty-eight of the ninety-two counties in Indiana chose to use their funds for transcribing marriage, birth and death records within the county from 1882 – 1920. Marriage records date as far back as 1850.

The counties that did not use their funds for these indexed records include Blackford, Brown, Crawford, Dearborn, Decatur, DuBois, Fayette, Grant, Jefferson, Jennings, Lawrence, Marshall, Noble, Ohio, Porter, Randolph, Ripley, Rush, Scott, Steuben, Switzerland, Tipton, Union, Wabash, and Whitley.

What can you find in one of these books? Well, as an index, it gives name and/or sex of the child born and the parents listed as well as the birthdate. The book number and page can also be located. If you would like to request a birth certificate for a relative, you can give this information to help retrieve the document.  They are a great first place to look for any Indiana researcher lucky enough to have an index for the county they are researching. With the marriage record information, it is a quick hop upstairs to the microfilm section at the Indiana State Library where you can quickly locate the marriage record you have been looking for!

Databases

I covered a brief description of how to use the Ancestry Library Edition in my article titled, Genealogy Research ONLINE at your Public Library. What I didn’t cover is that each library has their own subscriptions to different databases. For example, at my local library, they have a subscription to Ancestry Library Edition, Heritage Quest, and Fold3. At the Indiana State Library, not only do they include those three databases, but there is a long list of others that you can access while at the library. Check them out here.

Oh, I know… this has been a long article, and the funny thing is that it is only about the Genealogy Section of the Indiana State Library. It doesn’t include all the other collections that are available. I’ll hit on those at another date.

Some might think that the entire Genealogy Section of the Indiana State Library could be found on some online genealogy site like Ancestry.com but you would be very short-sighted to make a statement like this!

I would love to hear stories of treasures that you have uncovered while at a local or state public library!