Friday, May 1, 2015

Not exactly a new obsession ...

Genealogy, what a time sink!

This is a picture of a woman (far left) who is an ancestress, and I'm glad to say that the one woman who is smiling is the one in my family. This is the Ulry family, and you can see they have their predecessors with them, making a three-generation photo, maybe four, I don't know.

Every decade or so, I get all enthused about genealogy, and each time I add a bunch of information about the fam. Since I have a relative who researches my mom's side, I go in for research regarding my dad's side.

At right is the second page of a ship's manifest. Some of this material is available online for free, other stuff is accessible through paid sites like ancestry dot com. I'm told you can find most of it for free, if you know where to look. On the other hand, some material is only located at the site nearest where it happened.

So my present includes short trips to museums and libraries in nearby counties, and my future involves longer trips to the same institutions, but further away.

Small towns have hinky hours, often Friday through Sunday and the like, so I'm doing some queries through the mail. Lots of online small-town museum and historical society sites have like one person in charge of answering emails, and some never do answer.

And your ancestors will make you curious about unusual topics. I'm curious about what life was like for a person in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War I. I'm curious about what the job of a fireman-slash-engineer on the railroad in the 1920s was like. What was the WPA (Works Progress Administration) all about?

... and my interest in tightwaddery has a new angle. I researched the previous owners of my home (to be found at the local courthouse), and found that at various times, there have been 10 and 11 people living here. This gives lie to my internal claim that I "don't have enough space." How much space is necessary? Do I just have too much crap? "Need" is a relative term.

This is a form that becomes familiar to any genealogist who can go to a library who has a subscription to ancestry dot com. It's a page from the 1910 census.

If you know where your relatives lived in a year that's divisible by 10, you can find out a little bit more about them. After awhile, you learn to peruse them carefully for the minutest detail; those details can be important.

And it gets to be interesting about people's penmanship. Sometimes you need to read over the page to get familiar with the enumerator's (census-taker's) handwriting.

But maybe it takes a special kind of nerd to care. I suppose I'm saying I'm a special kind of nerd! Fortunately for me, there are some folks out there who are better nerds than I am, and when I get stuck, I can ask them for help.

One person in particular, whom I knew in the 80s, was a huge help, and I didn't even appreciate it at the time. She gave me information back then that I'm only just now appreciating. Thanks Claire! You rock!


Allana said...

Have you used HeritageQuest Online that is available through NebraskAccess? You can access it from home at any time of the day. :)

raptorrunner said...

I will now. Thanks, Allana.

raptorrunner said...

Um. The maps are darned cool!