Maine State Library genealogy club on-line: Machine Magic Mondays

Since the Maine State Library is closed for safety reasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve taken the genealogy club on-line.

Every Monday, at 1 p.m. eastern time, we’re having a session devoted to using technology to make your life and genealogy easier. Want to get notifications of future meetings? Sign up here (yellow box on upper right).

Recordings of past sessions:

Spreadsheets for genealogy

Browser extensions

Phone and tablet for genealogy

Google Drive for genealogy

Making email less overwhelming

Information overload ~ hurts so good ;-)

My brain is into full overload mode. The presentations at Rootstech have been wonderful ~ and have given me IDEAS! Lots of IDEAS! {We should probably have a moment of silence here for the sanity of my department head at the library..…}

Note: I’m trying out some of the blog features, so I’m writing this late afternoon Friday but I’m going to try to schedule it posting for later this evening. Let’s hope it works.

I still haven’t gotten closer than sixth cousins on FamilySearch’s relative finder app. Looking at who I do match with, it seems to be people descended from siblings of my ancestors. My lines stayed in New England, while my matches’ lines either were early Utah pioneers directly, or (more commonly) had settled in central New York or the Midwest for a couple generations before coming to Utah.

The most interesting and potentially useful session I went to today was about English parish chest records, which isn’t a type of record I’ve used that often. I’ve used the Scottish and Quaker equivalents, so I’ll be eager to look into these. The parish chest records (other than the baptism/marriage/burial registers) are less likely to be on line, but the notes from overseers of the poor, illegitimacy investigations, and settlement/residency examinations have great details if you can track them down. I’m going to try to find some good samples to put in the English genealogy program that I’m doing at the state library March 20.

Rootstech Day 1: so far, so wonderful!

The Rootstech conference conference started today ~ and so far, so wonderful!

I chose a couple of the presentations to go to because a couple of my favorite bloggers were speaking. I figure that’s as good a reason as any to pick a session, right?

Roberta Estes, of DNA Explained, talked about using various DNA tools. Some very helpful information about a fast-changing field. I really need to do more with some of the new tools at both the DNA testing companies and at the third party sites like DNA Painter. (Can someone invent a 36 hour day? That would help so much!)

Lara Diamond, of Lara’s Genealogy (and one of the absolute best at integrating research and stories in her blog), talked about using Russian Empire records. While the sample record types she talked about were very Russian, her techniques for figuring out which records are worth a deeper look would be helpful for anyone working in a language they don’t know.

I also went to a session on creating a surname table. The presenter puts the surname data together in a slightly different way than others; I’ll need to ponder how her technique might be helpful in my research or for patrons to use.

The Family History Library was open late tonight ~ until 11, as opposed to their usual 9. I headed over there, expecting it to be very busy, as the only ‘competition’ from Rootstech was the exhibition hall preview. But the library was almost empty ~ yeah! I got a microfilm reader with no issue, and (since copies/printouts are free there this week because of Rootstech), I had some fun ~ I now have a copy of the whole 1837 Danvers MA local census, for example.

I also spent a couple hours in the U.S. books section, in the NJ and PA books, working on my Weston/Horton line, which anyone reading this who has been to my presentations is familiar with ~ that’s the couple with the newspaper ad about the neighbors knowing more than the husband about why the wife has left him. No major revelations, although I discovered a very local genealogical society publication has transcribed Mary [Cady] (Weston) (Tracey) Miles’s diary, which I’d taken notes on during a trip to Susquehanna County PA years ago. It’s nice to have the full transcript {yeah for free copies!}

Despite my usual night owl tendencies, I actually didn’t stay until 11 ~ well, I did, according to my eastern time body, but not the mountain time clock 😉

Salt Lake City ~ for the FIRST time!

I’ve been to Scotland four times, Ireland twice, and Boston more times than I can count to track down my family, but I’d never been to Salt Lake City.

Fortunately, everything came together for me to attend Rootstech this year. Even more wonderfully, I flew out here on Sunday, so I had Monday and today to explore all the genealogical goodness before the start of the conference this year.

I’ll get to the Family History Library (FHL), but first…. the FHL closes at 6 on Mondays, so ~ being me ~ I headed over to the Salt Lake City public library yesterday eveing. It’s gorgeous! A well-planned out modern building ~ lots of light and glass, with plenty of space for books and tables to work at. Looks like some really well-thought out programming, as well, from the various brochures I saw. I think I might be in love 😉

The FHL is also amazing. I’m spoiled, having started my genealogy research with many trips to NEHGS in Boston, which has a tremendous collection, and now I work at the Maine State Library, which also has a fairly comprehensive collection about all things Maine.

I brought a couple of my more intractable genealogy research problems with me, to see if I could find anything on the two families. On these personal research tasks, most of my progress was in eliminating possible sources 😦 Oh, well!

The FHL is amazing, though ~ well organized, friendly staffing, clearly labeled, and easy to figure out. I really liked that it has all the glitzy ‘family history is fun’ stuff on the main levels, so that the other four levels are pretty much dedicated to research.

One of my pet peeves at a library (yes, I have several) is a lack of signs. Neither the FHL or the SLC public library had this issue! For an introvert like me, signs definitely beat having to ask a person where a room is or how to do something.

Another real plus: the staff seems well-trained. The people I talked to were not script driven ~ unlike the cable company, once they realized I wasn’t a beginner, they adjusted to what I was asking about, or called another staff member over who was more knowledgeable about the subject of my question. Over the years, I’ve been to too many libraries where that doesn’t happen.

I will brag a bit: MSL’s open stacks print collection on Maine family and local history is larger than the FHL’s!

The conference starts tomorrow ~ for some reason, night owl me signed up for a class (with an extra fee) at 8 a.m. I’ve tried to stay on eastern time so I might actually be able to stay awake and learn something 😉 Fortunately, Rootstech had early registration this afternoon, so I can just head directly to the class.

Upcoming genealogy programming

Join B.J. , the genealogy reference specialist at the Maine State Library, at these events around Maine; contact each library for more information.

Thursday, December 19, 6 p.m.:
Thomas Memorial Library, Cape Elizabeth
Getting Started with Genealogy

Wednesday, January 22, 2020 (time to be announced):
Mexico Public Library
Getting Started with Genealogy

Wednesday, February 5, 2020, noon:
Merrill Memorial Library, Yarmouth
Maine State Library Genealogy Resources

Thursday, February 20, 2020, 6:30 p.m.:
Norway Memorial Library, Norway
Getting Started with DNA and Genetic Genealogy

Sunday, March 15, 2020, 1 to 4  p.m.:
Albert C. Brown Library, China
Three hour workshop on researching your family

Fall presentation schedule

As part of my job at the state library, I give presentations around the state on genealogy and related topics. Upcoming programming schedule:

Tuesday, September 17, noon: Portland public library

Thursday, September 19, 3 p.m.: Treat Memorial Library, Livermore Falls

Tuesday, September 24, 12:30 to 4: Libby Library, Old Orchard Beach ~ longer program on tracing an ancestor through his/her whole life

Wednesday, October 2: Fogg library, Eliot ~ on DNA

Tuesday, October 8, 3:30 p.m.: Carver library, Searsport ~ on getting started and Maine State Library resources

Wednesday, October 16, 1 p.m.: South Portland library

Thursday, October 24, 6 p.m.: Baxter library, Gorham ~ on DNA

Wednesday, October 30, 6 p.m.: Windham library

Tuesday, November 5, evening: South Berwick

Thursday, November 7, 6 p.m.: Pittsfield ~ on preserving your own history

Contact me or the host library for more details.

At the library #52ancestors

I’m writing this at the library. In fact, I write frequently at the library, given that I work in one.

I turned my love of libraries and my obsession about genealogy into my career. In my mid-40s, I was at a crossroads. Both my parents had died, so I had inherited a bit of money, and I’d had a series of jobs that I liked but that weren’t anything wonderful.

I decided that my mid-life crisis was going to be going to library school and moving to Maine, both of which I’ve now done.

When I announced to my friends on Facebook that I was going to library school, the response was about equally divided between ‘perfect for you‘ and ‘aren’t you already a librarian?

So now I get to spend every {work} day in the library and I get to help lots of other people find their ancestors. It’s a pretty good life 😉