September brought another fine gathering of our Genealogy Networking Group.
We started out by sharing brick walls and breakthroughs. One of the biggest brick walls we all face is “jumping the pond” and researching our immigrant ancestors in their home country. The tried but true rule is, in almost every case, you need to know the home town, village, or parish that your ancestor lived in before s/he immigrated. Knowing that your ancestor came from Prussia or France is not enough.What, then, to do? Comb every source you can find on this side of the Atlantic, looking for a mention of the elusive home town. If you need help figuring out where to look, you can find Resource Checklists online; two of the most extensive are available from Thomas MacEntee’s Abundant Genealogy page and the FamilySearch Wiki.
Several of us shared stories of helping grandchildren with school projects on genealogy or family history. All of a sudden, someone was asking them questions about the family! What fun it was for them to help with research and tell family stories to willing, listening ears!
The theme of our meeting was “Back to Basics.” We took a look at some of the features at Ancestry that are often overlooked or may not be known at all. My favorite is the “card catalog.” Did you even know that Ancestry has a card catalog? It is an electronic list of all of their collections. You can see what collections are new and what have been updated.
We had fun exploring the updated yearbooks collection. We discovered a caveat: sometimes using the search box is not enough. When I searched my grandmother Verna Graf’s name in the Aurora West High School yearbook collection, we only found a mention of her playing basketball her junior year. (way to go, Grandma!)
But when I browsed through the same yearbook, scanning pages looking for her senior picture, I found this gem. Searching online is more than just putting a name into a search box. You really have to dig to find the gold!
Have you discovered anything new in Ancestry or FamilySearch lately? What about sharing your research and family stories with the next generation? Respond to the blog or, even better, tell us about it at our next meeting October 4. Sharing knowledge is what we’re all about!