Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ways I Use One of My Favorite Sites, Findagrave

10 WAYS I USE ONE OF MY FAVORITE SITES, FINDAGRAVE is one of my favorite genealogy web sites; it probably is the one I use the most. I am by no means an expert, but having been a member for almost 10 years I have explored it quite a bit. 

1. Check Findagrave before going to a cemetery anywhere for requests. I am a photo volunteer; I take photos anywhere in my county and sometimes a bit beyond. However even when travelling, if I go to a cemetery, I check Findagrave before I go for photo requests. I have fulfilled requests all over Nebraska. I have been known to spontaneously stop at a cemetery and check the requests on my phone.

2. Virtual Cemeteries: I use virtual cemeteries to split up my families. I have one for my dad's line (Jorgensen), one for my mom's line (Seggerman), one for my husband's dad's line (Sparrow), one for my husband's mom's line (Patterson), one for my step-mother-in-law's family, one for one of my uncle's family. I may use more. You can put anyone's memorial into these and divide however you like: by family, by location, by military service, etc.

3. Transcribing cemeteries: I am working on photographing ALL the cemeteries in my county and putting them on Findagrave. Currently I have about 5 done. I started this 3 years ago when my son was little in an effort to lose weight. Well it's been fun, but the weight hasn't gone anywhere. You can put your info into an Excel template and then submit it, or you can submit one-by-one. I don't like to duplicate memorials that are already there, so I go one-by-one. A bit more time consuming, but worth it I think. I also periodically download my transcriptions to a tab-delimited (Excel) file. Under your contributor tools, you can download data from any cemetery saved as "My Cemeteries" or any Virtual Cemetery to a tab-delimited file which then you can open in Excel (or some other spreadsheet or possibly database).

4. Request photos: I live in the middle of the USA and rarely (if ever) get to either coast. Therefore I make photo requests for relatives so someone closer might fulfill them. Gravestones can have valuable info on them besides DOB (birth date) and DOD (death date). Some have place of birth, relationship to others, military service, time of immigration, etc. If I don't have (or don't think I have) a photo, I try to request it right away while I am on that memorial; otherwise I may forget. Also if another person has already requested one, you cannot also request so you may want to review all your memorials periodically in those cases. I wish there was a way you could request it too, so Findagrave would also notify you and the original requester. Maybe if they read this, they will. (Hahaha)

5. Obituaries from newspapers you receive or peruse online: Usually by the time I get to checking, someone else has already posted the obituaries on a memorial on Findagrave. There are a few of these people who seem to do this VERY quickly. It's still a good idea if you subscribe to a newspaper or read one regularly online to check to see if there is a memorial on Findagrave, and if not, create one and put the obit as the bio. Note: I don't include the survivors listed in the obit on Findagrave for privacy reasons; you can suit yourself. Some people do NOT want their info online, especially if this might include their mother's maiden name, etc which might be used as security questions. NOTE 2
: I NEVER EVER use mother's maiden name as a security question and would advise that to everyone else.

6. Famous people: When visiting a cemetery, I also click on the famous people to see if their gravestone photo has been added. If not, I go look for it. I have added gravestone photos for 3 "famous people" that I can remember, and possibly more. There are many things you can do under the Famous Grave section on Findagrave's homepage. You can search born on this date, died on this date, interesting monuments, interesting epitaphs, etc. I have seen the one interesting monument in Nebraska in person, and it is deservedly in that category.

7. Suggest a correction: If you have more info on a person or want it transferred to you, I suggest using this feature. I (personally) have over 5000 memorials so I don't remember them all, and I am NOT related to them all. (See above about transcribing cemeteries.) I am not in the top contributors, so there are people with more than that. Findagrave's policy is that a relative have a memorial if possible, however do not go into great discussion with your 4th cousin whether you should have it or they should. Then use the Virtual Cemetery feature and let by-gones be by-gones. However if the memorial is your parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent then you or a close relative should have the memorial. I am happy to transfer to a relative or add info. When I request I usually say, please consider transferring if this is not a relative and then I state my relationship to the person. Most are considerate about transferring.

8. Virtual Flowers: I don't leave many virtual flowers and usually just on my family, but this is a nice feature by which one can remember a lost loved one. Some people "randomly" leave virtual flowers on many memorials, which somewhat annoys me, as if they leave one on mine, sometimes I check later to see if that's a relative that I need to offer to transfer the memorial.

9. Link relationships: I love this feature and love when they added it. I remember the older days of Findagrave it wasn't there. This is great when tracing a family. If you know a person's parents or children, try to link them with the link relationship option. Sometimes I will be tracing a family and when those links are there, I can get 3-4 more generations back. If I am not sure, I don't add the relationship. Most times when two people are listed on a gravestone and one is/looks male and one is/looks female, they were probably married. However as soon as I "guess" on that relationship, I will probably guess it wrong, so I just don't connect them. If someone who knows the family or has the info via an obit or other source contacts me via the suggest correction, I am happy to add those relationships.

10. Questions?? I am by no means a Findagrave expert but I have been a member for nearly 10 years, about as long as I've been doing genealogy. If you have questions, first I recommend checking the FAQ (frequently asked questions), then contacting Findagrave by email.

Hope you enjoyed this and that it may have helped you in some way.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Review of NSGS May 2011

May 15, 2011
Should probably have posted this last week, but I just didn't get around to it.

Last weekend I went to Nebraska State Genealogical Society (NSGS) annual meeting and conference in Nebraska City so I thought I would summarize my weekend.
I arrived in the nick of time on Friday morning as I rushed out of my house that morning to give last minute instructions to my babysitter (my mom/his grandma). They were just beginning the conference.

First up was a welcome and we had a short history of the remarkable building, the Methodist Church in Nebraska City, which is the oldest Methodist church in the state. Then they introduced the main speaker, Gail Blankenau and she began speaking on German parish records. Almost every attendee had German ancestors so this was very pertinent. I learned a few German words and more about how to research my German line, and a few good web sites. Next was a break for wonderful treats and to visit the (5) vendors! Okay maybe it was a few more than five, but there weren't many. Then we had an overview of what's available at the Nebraska State Historical Society Library in Lincoln. Check out their web site to check out databases and records. Then we had a wonderful lunch, and a few awards were presented.

After lunch, we tried to Keep Up with the Jones....and Smiths...and..... We learned techniques for researching common names. Two useful tips were researching the WHOLE family and remember LOCATION! Much easier to research a Rufus Smith than a John Smith! Last on Friday, we were graced by the presence of Barbara (Kagi) Mayhew, an early settler of Nebraska City. That was quite informative and interesting, but probably not of interest to anyone reading this. We were done by 3:30-ish. Many of us went to check in, and a few went shopping. Later than evening at 6 pm we took a tour of Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City, the oldest cemetery in Nebraska. Prior to the tour I spent about an hour walking around the cemetery, taking photos. The tour was very interesting and my favorite part of the weekend. At 7:30 pm I was ready to leave the cemetery and get some supper and rest.

Saturday Gail spoke 3 times on Using Land Records, Rich Resources for Poor Ancestors and Dating and Identifying your 19th century photos. We also had Dean Podoll speak about Notable Nebraskans During the Civil War. Gail remarked how land records have helped her when many other records give dead ends.

It was good to talk and socialize with others who enjoy the same thing I do. I learned a lot and had a good time. This would be a long post if I summarized everything I learned. Now I am excited to get back and research and try to identify some old photos. Next year we will be in Grand Island May 2012.

The most interesting gravestone in Wyuka Cemetery, Nebr City
(It is correct in my files but gets rotated when I upload to my blog.)