Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Computer Group at CVGS Today

We had our monthly CVGS Computer Group meeting today at the Library. We use the Library Computer Lab with 15 computer terminals. We filled every seat! Gary hooked the projector up to one of the computers so we are able to show the screen on the wall. Shirley was unable to attend, so I drove the screen on the wall to demonstrate sites and techniques.

Almost everybody works in Ancestry Library Edition at these meetings, since most attendees do not have an Ancestry home subscription. Many of the members are still learning about the myriad databases on Ancestry. Today, I showed them how to find recently added or updated databases and away we went on some of them. I also showed them how to get to the search box to input keywords to find location-specific databases. That worked well for many attendees - they searched on a state or county and found resources.

Several attendees wanted to be able to "Share" the images by sending a link to themselves at their home email address. That works pretty well - you can open the email at home, click on the link to the image, view the image on screen, save it to your hard drive (right click on Windows, select "Save Picture As"), print it out, include it in your software database, etc. But what about the screens that are not images - but a summary from a database? These often have useful information. You can go to the File menu and select Send and send the page or ta link to the page to your home email.

One member found a listing of an ancestor in the War of 1812 pension application index and wanted to know how to find the actual record. We went to the LDS site and into the Family History Library Catalog - the actual pension files and bounty land warrants were listed. She would have to go order the film at the FHC (or go to a National Archives branch). We also visited the site and checked the War of 1812 listing, which includes all of the available Ancestry databases and the state-specific databases that are online. Finally, I recommended that she check the Virgil D. White book on War of 1812 Pension File Abstracts - it is on the shelf at the Chula Vista library. If her ancestor received a pension, then the abstract would provide more information about the soldier and a pension file number. This episode was instructive to everyone - it pointed out (again!) that not everything is on the Internet -not by a longshot - and won't be ever! I did point out that many of the LDS films will be imaged and indexed in the next 10 years or so.

I was able to do some work of my own - I found Angus MacDonald of Spokane WA in the World War I Draft Registration Cards. Unfortunately, it didn't list his birthplace. I was hoping it would so I could narrow the search in the 1881 Canadian census to a set of parents. I also checked the Immigration records for his father, Alec MacDonald, but found nothing definitive. Now that I think about it, Alec immigrated into Canada not the US before 1880, and ALE doesn't have Canadian immigration data. Oh well.

The 90 minutes go by real fast at this meeting - we've had Ancestry Library Edition available for about 9 months now, so the regular attendees are doing their own searches and having success without much help.

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