Wednesday, August 22, 2007

CVGS Research Group - 22 August 2007

We had our Chula Vista Genealogical Society Research Group meeting today, with 16 members in attendance. This was a busy session - everyone wanted to share! At the start of the meeting, I reviewed the Genealogy News highlights for August - read it here on the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog. Then we discussed the research problems and success stories of the attendees.

Penny went to Texas for a family reunion, and met many cousins. She received pages from a 3 volume family history and wanted to know how to find the actual books, because there may be more family information in them. We recommended searching the book offerings at HeritageQuestOnline, Ancestry, Library of Congress, Making of America, and the BYU Archive. We also recommended searching the LDS Family History Library Catalog to see if they are available on microfilm, and also the site to see which libraries might have a copy available for Inter-Library Loan.

Joan just received a 1918 Divorce record for her John Robinson Hall and his wife from the Los Angeles Probate Court - in the mail for free. It even included a false letter stating that JRH died in 1922 (he registered for the World War 2 draft in 1942!). She asked where Los Angeles City directories might be found - she had called the LA Public Library but they would not do lookups for her. We recommended she check with the LDS FHLC for directories on microfilm, for holdings of directories, and to try to find a volunteer who might help her in Los Angeles. Alternatively, she could go to the LAPL and search them herself - she asked for an LAPL research trip!

Lori is a new member, and doesn't have genealogy software yet. We recommended she download Personal Ancestral File from to start organizing her research data. She asked about how to find the name of the ship that brought her great-grandmother from Germany. We recommended checking, and the Ancestry Immigration collection to start with. Other sites to consider are and Lori also asked about how to find what happened to her aunt who left home at age 16 and joined the circus in the early 1900's. She thinks the girl married and settled in Fort Dodge, Iowa. We recommended that she search the records on the site for the specific county, Google her name, search for a death record in the Iowa vital records, and to find an obituary in the local newspapers.

Bob had a great-aunt who died aboard ship in 1903 on a voyage from England to Australia on an English-registered ship. He had checked consular and emigration records at already. We recommended he check newspapers from her home town (not online) and the English Civil Registration records to see if her death was recorded there. There might also be similar records in Australia. This was a hard question, since none of us has much experience with these types of records.

Bill is searching for the parents of Christopher Leininger, who was born in Ohio in about 1850, and his parents were from Alsace. We recommended that he search the census records in order to define the family members and try to find a marriage record, a death record, and then a newspaper obituary, for Christopher, his siblings and his parents. He should try to find a naturalization record for Christopher's father. From some of those records, he may find the name of the ancestral village in Alsace and then search there for earlier generations.

Bobbi reported on her research trip/vacation to northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin - she had 3-1/2 days of family get-togethers and 3-1/2 days of research time and made the most of it. Bobbi took narrative reports to give to her cousins there, and the act of writing them helped crystallize her research goals. She visited the homestead of her great-grandfather and got pictures from a cousin. She obtained the birth certificate of unnamed twins (siblings of her father) who died as infants, township maps and plat maps from several years, many family obituaries, several wills, and voter registration records. She took notes at the family cemetery, and made several tombstone rubbings. She passed these items around to the group - Bobbi sure did a lot of work in a short time!

This was a very lively meeting with so many sharing their problems and success stories. There were several lessons relearned in the meeting, including:

* All genealogy data is not on the Internet - you still have to do repository, courthouse, cemetery and other on-site research in order to define family members and relationships.
* Writing down what you know, and analyzing the body of known facts, is very helpful to determining the information you need to find, and can be very useful in extracting information from family members.
* The society has a number of new members, and members with limited research experience, and the society needs to provide classes and seminars to help them gain knowledge and research experience. Not all of them have computer skills, genealogy software, even genealogy forms. We need to do a better job of helping them through mentors, classes, etc.

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