Saturday, April 7, 2007

Light blogging this weekend

First of all - I want to wish my Christian readers a Happy Easter.

I have spared you the ordeal of reading about funny or strange Easter and Bunny related census records. Somehow, it didn't seem appropriate.

Angel Linda and I are celebrating our anniversary (it was 2 weeks ago when we were at our daughters house) this weekend - hanging out in downtown San Diego for 3 days. We went to the Padres' home opening night last night (they lost 4-3 to the Rockies) . This afternoon we will go to the Omni Hotel right next to Petco Park and play tourist and fan for 3 nights (kind of our own version of spring training, only a lot closer to home!). We have tickets for the Saturday night and Monday night games. We hope to go to the Midway (aircraft carrier) Museum on San Diego Bay on Monday. I will try to work on a query or two at the SD Public Library on Monday. Then there are the Gaslamp restaurants, antique shops and shopping at Horton Plaza.

I will have the laptop with me, access to email, and wireless internet access at the hotel. I'm not sure how much free time I'll have to do research or post notes.
I'll be back in the Genea-Musings saddle on Tuesday night.

While I'm gone, consider commenting on some of my recent posts concerning society blogs, use of computers in genealogy, etc.

UPDATE: Sunday, 7 PM: We checked into our hotel on Saturday afternoon, took a nap (!), went to dinner at the corner fish and chips restaurant, and went to the game - my Padres won 3-2 in the 9th over the Rockies. It was cold in the stands - 55 F... It was nice walking just one block to our bedroom instead of taking the trolley and getting home about 45 minutes after the game ends.

Today, we had our breakfast in bed, and went to the Midway aircraft carrier museum. The ship has been here for about two years, and they have done a wonderful job displaying it. There is a self-paced walking tour where you listen to an audio narrative on earphones - about 70 stations in all. There are docents on the flight deck that actually catapulted or landed airplanes on the deck - they were great. It was cool and misty today, and we had a sandwich at the carrier's Fantail Cafe. We got back to the hotel at 1 PM and watched the Padres game on TV - I napped for an hour, woke up to find it still 0-0, and my Padres won again in the 10th, 2-1. We went out to dinner, walking among the crowds leaving the game, and ended up at Trophy's, a sports bar. Melissa was a wonderful waitress and we had a nice meal. We topped it off with a visit to the Marble slab ice cream parlor and a walk around the Gaslamp District, looking for a place for dinner tomorrow. We got back at 6 PM, and Linda went for a swim while I checked my email, Bloglines and decided to tell the weekend story here. Absolutely no genealogy done today....yet! Tomorrow shows promise, though! may be useful

Have you checked out They have an interesting concept here - you enter your family members that are in the 1880 US, 1881 UK or 1881 Canada census, and they will tell you if you have a distant cousin who also have these people in their ancestry. They use those census records because they are free to access on the LDS site.

The potential benefit here is tremendous - it is probable that you don't know of these cousins, and they may hold vital information that could help you in your genealogy research.

The basic membership is free - the site says:

"Basic membership of LostCousins is free, and will remain so indefinitely provided that we can continue to grow through word of mouth recommendations. Not paying for advertising keeps our costs low, and enables us to offer free basic membership."

If you subscribe (10 pounds for one year), you can initiate contact with a lost cousin, benefit from extended matching, and access to member support functions. You can enter the code 1776 when you register and receive a free upgrade to subscriber status until 30 April 2007.

They have a Buddy system to help new members:

"The LostCousins 'buddies' give their time and make use of their knowledge and experience to help other members. This free service has already solved problems and provided new leads for numerous members - perhaps you could be next!"

They recommend that you input this data to the site:

* Don't just focus on one line - enter all your ancestors who were recorded in the censuses we support
* Enter blood relatives too, especially if they're living in a different household
* Looking back at earlier censuses will help you identify other relatives who you can then find in 1880 or 1881
* Encourage your friends and relatives to join - the more members we have the more matches there will be

The data that you enter for each person in the 1880 US, 1881 UK or 1881 Canada census includes:

From the census records:

* Census Film/Roll number
* Page Number
* Forename
* Surname
* Middle initial or name
* Age

From your own data:

* Corrected surname
* Corrected forename
* Corrected middle names or initials
* Corrected birth day/month/year
* Baptism date/month/year
* Maiden name
* Relation (direct ancestor, blood relative, etc)
* Certificates held - BMD

After you have entered your data for the direct ancestors and blood relatives in your database, then you can go to the "My Cousins" link and the site checks the available data to see if anybody else in their system has the same people. If they do, then you have found some Lost Cousins.

I signed up for a Basic membership - you fill out a form and receive an email with a password, then go back and Login (you can change the password if you wish). I used the code 1776 and am a subscriber for free until 30 April 2007.

I entered 8 of my ancestors, including several with English birth. The process is pretty simple - you fill out a form, submit it, and confirm it. You can correct it any time. You can see a list of all the people you have entered.

I clicked on "My Cousins" to see if any other member has submitted the same people to Lost Cousins, but I had no matches. I will add more persons later - I've only just begun!

I think that this site has tremendous potential, but it needs to reach a critical mass before it will be really helpful. That means that many of us need to use it and perhaps it will then help us.

Try it - you may get lucky and find a Lost Cousin or two.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Bringing Society members into the Online world

Our recent CVGS member survey asked 26 questions about the experience, knowledge and skills of the members. We had 24 responses (about 30% of the membership). Of the ones who responded (mainly "active" members who attend meetings and programs regularly), 50% have been doing genealogy for more than 10 years. My best estimate, based on knowledge of the members who didn't respond, is that probably 75% of our members have been doing genealogy more than 10 years, and probably 40% for more than 20 years.

Every one of our respondents have a computer - 87.5% with a PC, 12.5% with a Mac. My guess is, based on my knowledge of the membership, that about 75% have a computer of some sort, and they have email access (our email list is about 70% of our membership).

Our respondents claimed that their "Internet skill level" was:

None - 0%
Poor - 12.5%
Fair - 50%
Good - 25%
Great - 12.5%
Expert - 0%

We asked how often they go on the Internet to pursue genealogy research, with these responses:

Daily - 20%
Several/week - 12%
Weekly - 32%
Monthly - 32%
Rarely - 4%

I guess one conclusion here is that many of our members have a life outside of genealogy! I also think that perhaps 50% of our members do no online research at all.

One of the questions we should have asked, but didn't, was "How would you describe your overall Computer skills?" Meaning, dealing with files, folders, Windows or other operating system, etc. We held a 4-session "Computer Basic Skills for Genealogists" class last year, and just started another one last week. The attendees were all, I think, survey respondents. I was surprised by the low level of computer skills demonstrated by the class attendees. In the main, these members struggle to do basic computer tasks. They can get on the Internet, they can do email, they can write documents, they can run their genealogy software, but they don't know how to create folders, save web pages, or put web info into a document using Copy and Paste. Our Basics class should help with that.

The conclusion I draw from our survey results, and my own observations, is that only about 20% of our membership have the computer skills to effectively work online. In addition, another 20% or so go online occasionally and try to do research, but are hampered by their lack of computer or Internet skills.

We are trying to improve our members research skills, by doing the following:

1) Teaching Basic Computer Skills in a special class
2) Using the online genealogy tutorial to help them learn how to use web sites, databases, message boards, etc.
3) Using our Computer and Research Groups to model effective online research and introduce new databases
4) Bringing in program speakers for specific online research presentations
5) Demonstrating/teaching genealogy software capabilities (60% of our respondents have FamilyTreeMaker)
6) Hosting an all-day seminar on Online Genealogy Research using our society members.

The hope is that this plan will "grow" more of our members into effective online researchers, able to mentor new members or members wanting to improve their skills. We hope that the planned classes and programs will bring in new members from the community if we can market them effectively.

One benefit of being a fairly small society is that we can know almost every member, and therefore can have personal contacts with them and offer specific help to them. Larger societies don't have that luxury.

Do these survey results match your experience in your local society? What else should CVGS be doing to improve the research capabilities of our members? What has worked for you?

Hall of Randy's Genealogy Heroes

I posted yesterday about my Genealogy Hall of Shame, so I wanted to post about my own Genealogy Hall of Fame.

There is already a National Genealogy Hall of Fame at They are selected by the profession based on their life's work serving genealogy - researching, writing, teaching, leading, etc. I greatly appreciate these people who dedicated their life's work to genealogy and family history.

My candidates for my own Genealogy Hall of Fame - I'm going to call it the Hall of Randy's Genealogy Heroes - are those who serve the profession and hobby of genealogy selflessly - they give of their time and knowledge to help others.

The Hall of Randy's Genealogy Heroes includes:

1) People who volunteer at a local, regional or national society - the ones that do the work to make programs and events happen.

2) People who try to help other researchers improve their knowledge and skills - mentors, teachers, writers, etc.

3) The long list of volunteers at the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness web site (

4) The many volunteers who host and manage USGenWeb and WorldGenWeb sites.

5) The volunteers who monitor Rootsweb mailing lists and administer Rootsweb message boards.

6) The people who transcribe, abstract and index records at repositories or cemeteries.

7) The people who rescue family Bibles and other treasures at estate sales or bookstores, and try to hook them up with family.

8) The people working on the FamilySearch Indexing projects.

9) The people transcribing public domain books and/or records for free online posting - people like Janice Farnsworth, Ray Sears, Jane Devlin, John Slaughter, and others.

10) The many people who have done family research over the past 160 years - and documented their research in books, periodicals and web sites.

11) The many LDS people who have entered data into the IGI extracted from primary source documents.

Who else? I am quite sure that I have overlooked many people on my list - please tell me who I should add and I will consider it.

Do Blogs "Work" for Genealogy Societies?

One of the topics that my local society Board of Directors has discussed is "Would a society blog do a better job of informing and helping our members?"

Theoretically, a genealogy society blog might post information about:

1) Society programs and meetings
2) Society classes and special events
3) Local genealogy repositories
4) Member profiles or biographies
5) Member questions and queries
6) Local, regional or national genealogy news
7) Research Articles by members
8) etc.

The questions that need to be answered include:

1) Would our members read it and use it?
2) How is this different from a society web site?
3) Does it replace a society newsletter?
4) Who will do the work?
5) how much personal information should we include?
6) Should the blog be accessible to members only?
7) What should be included on a genealogy society blog?
8) etc.

We recently surveyed our membership about their genealogy experience, use of traditional and online resources, and asking for ideas on how to better serve them. The results are instructive to these questions, and I will post some of them in later posts.

I went looking for blogs already online for other genealogy societies. Chris Dunham's Blogfinder has a list of about 25 genealogical, historical and surname societies at Many of the ones on this list have had few posts for awhile. There are some that are posting regularly. The best one I found was the Birmingham Genealogical Society . They have program announcements, program news, information about local resources, etc. Are there other genealogy society blogs that are active and not on Chris' list? Please tell us about them!

Do you have opinions about this? What is the best way to transmit society information to society members? What is the best way to help all of a society's members with their research? I would appreciate hearing from you on this topic.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

National City Library Local History Room

One of the hidden gems on the list of San Diego genealogy/history repositories is the Local History room at the National City Public Library. National City is a city of about 60,000 people tucked between San Diego (population of about 1.2 million) and Chula Vista (city of about 220,000 people) with no room to grow. The city built a new library several years ago, and with extraordinary foresight, they included a large Local History Room to house the historical material.

Unfortunately, the Room is only open Tuesday through Thursday from 2 to 5 PM, so people need to plan their trip there.

In addition to the National City historical material there (quite a bit, including diaries and notebooks about the founding Kimball family), the Room has several vital databases, including:

1) San Diego City Directories - almost complete from about 1900 to 1984. They also have several San Diego Suburban directories but nowhere near all of them - too bad!

2) Card file to the National City Record newspaper, and the National City Star-News newspaper from about 1900 to 2000 (approximately). There is a separate card file for obituaries. You can search microfilms of the newspapers and print the page images. Since the NC Star-News differs from the Chula Vista Star-News only on the front page - the card catalog serves as an index to the CV paper as well (except for front page news).

There are a number of large maps and pictures in the Room. One of the neat maps they have is a photo of National City from about 1950 - it measures about 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide. You can see every house on every street. I mentioned to Matt, the docent, that he might be able to figure out the date of the map by finding blocks with only a few houses on them, getting the addresses for those houses, and checking the city directories to see when newer nearby houses were built.

I went there today to try to find information for three queries received recently by CVGS. Unfortunately, I struck out on all of them, but I enjoyed the search, marveled at the resources in this wonderful room, and appreciated the help from Matt.

The Chula Vista Library has a small local history room with some of the City Directories, and the Chula Vista Star-News on microfilm, but there is no index. There are also microfilms of the San Diego Union-Tribune from about 1975, but there is no index after 1980. There is a small Chula Vista Historical Society with limited hours - I haven't visited them, but I need to.

The downtown San Diego Library has more city directories, and the San Diego Union newspaper on microfilm, with an index for 1930 to 1980, but it is difficult to park during the week in an undesirable section of town. The San Diego Historical Society in Balboa Park has wonderful resources for the whole county, but costs money to enter and has parking problems.

I am very appreciative of the work that National City has done to protect and preserve the heritage of the city, and I love the easy access to the library and the Local History Room resources.

The Genealogists Hall of Shame

One of my CVGS colleagues suggested that a special place in Heck be reserved for certain people who make genealogy research too difficult, do stupid or damaging things, or embarrass the profession/interest/hobby/obsession.

After thinking for a few minutes, I wrote down a few candidates for my version of the Genealogy Hall of Shame:

1) People who throw out official original records without letting repositories claim them or copy them.

2) People who publish research based on the research of others without asking or crediting the original researcher.

3) People who close access to old records while claiming identity theft concerns.

4) People who discard family papers, Bibles and photographs without considering donating them to a local society.

5) People who ask for "all of your data" on a surname or ancestry

6) People (census-takers, court clerks, etc.) with very poor handwriting.

7) Repositories that practice poor housekeeping and don't protect their records

8) People who practice "extreme genealogy" - by harassing or attacking people, stealing DNA, etc.

9) People who steal, hide or or damage books, records, tombstones, artifacts or ephemera that cannot be replaced.

10) People who invent or distort historical records for the purpose of embellishng a genealogy or family history.

What have I missed? What can be said better? Tell me in the Comments and I'll add or edit the list above.

Have you had experience with any of the above? Were you able to save some records from the Shame-folks? Tell us about that too!

Accessing Ancestry at the FHC/FHL

As feared and anticipated, access to at the LDS FHL and the FHCs was restricted on Monday, April 2. In addition, people with personal Ancestry subscriptions could not access Ancestry using an LDS network, since the IP Addresses of the LDS wireless networks were being used. Needless to say, an uproar ensued.

Leland Meitzler at the Everton's GenealogyBlog reports that and the LDS are working on permitting access to using personal subscriptions at the FHL or in the FHCs. Leland's post is at

The last paragraph of the Ancestry release reads:

"Ancestry and the FHL are currently exploring solutions to allow people to gain access to their personal accounts at the Family History Library while still protecting the privacy of customers. Rest assured that we (Ancestry and the FHL) are working on a resolution–but there is not yet a timetable for its completion."

Previously, on the APG list, several work-arounds were suggested. I thought that the most promising was to use an "Anonymizer" - a program that hides the IP address of the user. I tried two of them -- and and could not get to the login! told me my Internet Explorer was not recent enough (I'm using IE7.0) and said the URL I input ( was not a good URL. On the APG list, someone suggested using Tor ( - which is free, but requires a download to use it. I did not try that before I saw Leland's post.

I think we all need to wait until Ancestry and the LDS get this sorted out. I hope that Ancestry subscribers will be able to use their personal subscription in an LDS building in the near future. That is the RIGHT thing for Ancestry to do, and I think they will get it done.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Have you visited Forensic Genealogy?

I posted yesterday about the "Live Man with a Dead Horse" picture, and provided a link to Colleen Fitzpatrick's web site at

Colleen has a weekly quiz on her web site - it's always a photograph of a person or a place and the challenge is to answer the questions she asks about the photograph. The idea is to hone your forensic skills by analyzing the picture, trying to find it on the web using search engines, and using your knowledge and experience of history, geography, society or other areas.

I try to read the quiz every week or so, but have slacked off in analyzing them. The quiz page is

For example, the quiz question this week is "What is the zodiac sign of the passenger?" You will have to go to the web site to see the picture since I don't have permission to post it here.

While you are on the quiz page, take the opportunity to read some (or all) of the previous quiz pictures and questions. The research that Colleen and the quiz masters put in to analyze the picture is amazing. This is a wonderful web site and pastime! The thing I like most about it is that it is unique - there are no others like it - and it presents an intellectual challenge that is fun to work on and solve.

Colleen presents a great program to genealogy societies and conferences - if you haven't heard her, please try to attend her presentations some time soon.

21st Edition of Carnival of Genealogy is posted

One of my favorite days is when the Carnival of Genealogy is posted. The latest edition, the 21st, is at Jasia does a wonderful job introducing and commenting on each post. There were 11 posters this edition on the topic of "Funny, Foolish, Family."

There are some good stories on the list - I was amused by all of the car stories.

The next Carnival of Genealogy deadline is April 15, and the topic is "Carousel" - anything you want to post about and submit. You can submit your blog posts to the Carnival at using the submission form. I need to think about what I want to submit...I'll have to go look at the archives and see what is funny, poignant or even good - there must be something!

Finishing Phase I of my Cornelia Bresee search

I spent several weeks in March trying to find the parents of Cornelia Bresee (1780-1840) in online records and databases. The "To-Do" list is at and the Index for my completed searches is at .

I have been lax in completing this To-do list, so I decided to do it today.

1) Number 16 on my list is to search Google Web for web pages that might mention the Bresee/Bries families of the Hudson river valley area, especially in Columbia and Rensselaer Counties. I tried:

a) Searching for ["cornelia bresee"] leads to 198 hits on Google for postings of mine on the web and message boards, plus many mentions of my search at the web sites of other researchers.

b) Searching for [bresee family rensselaer york] results in 233 hits - none of them fruitful for my purposes.

c) Searching for [bresee family columbia county york] results in 970 hits - none of them fruitful for my purposes.

I also tried Bries, Brazee, Brazie, Brissy, and Brees using the same counties, and received no useful hits.

2) Numb er 8 on my list was to search Google Books for the Bresee (and variants) surname and also for County records. I tried the same searches as above, and did find one interesting book that at least mentioned the Breese family - in "Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Berkshire County."

In addition, I tried [rensselaer county church records] and [columbia county church records] and found several references that might be helpful, but the reference is sometimes to a single page of the book.

3) The last unfinished item is #17 on my list - searching the "Making of America" database at I input the Bresee (and variants) surname, and found many documents with the names, but few were from New York and most of them I had seen in the previous book searches.

As far as I'm concerned, my online search for the "low hanging fruit" that might lead me to the parents of Cornelia Bresee is completed. There is the chance that someone will respond to my message board or blog posts that can add to my Bresee family knowledge.

I have created a database in FamilyTreeMaker, based on the data gleaned during my online search. Of course, this database was created from derivative sources - the LDS IGI, Rootsweb WorldConnect, message board posts, etc. The challenge now is to go find the original source material to verify the collected data and perhaps to find unique records that define Cornelia's parents.

So the path is clear now - go search the more "traditional" genealogy resources for Bresee (and variant spelling) family data. I will make a to-do list for that too!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

1925 Iowa State Census data on Ancestry

My love-in-law is lucky - part of her family was in Iowa in 1925. Note: my love-in-law is the partner of my brother-in-law...makes sense, no?

I spent an hour tonight going through the Iowa State Census records available on There are census records from 1836 to 1925. I concentrated tonight on the 1925 records because they are the most recent, and hold the most potential for finding additional information on the parents of the people in the census.

The information on the 1925 Iowa census includes:

* Name
* Relation to head of household
* gender
* race
* age
* marital status
* rent or own
* birthplace
* father's name
* father's birthplace
* father's age
* mother's maiden name
* mother's birthplace
* mother's age
* person's marriage location

There are some real goodies there! For instance, I found that Thomas E. Corporon (head, white, male, age 57, married, born MO) had parents Geo W. Corporon (born Canada, age 83) and Jane McClure (born MO, no age). His wife, Anna E. Corporon (wife, female, white, age 55, married, born IA, had parents James Kin g (born MO, no age) and Sarah Bentley (born OH, no age). The previous data from an online source said that her mother was Sarah Johnston, and I had been unable to find her before the marriage in the census.

You can search on the mother's or father's given name and/or surname, so you can find children of specific people in the census. This is especially handy if you are looking for the married name of daughters.

This is a wonderful resource - it's too bad more census records didn't take genealogists wishes into account!

If you have Iowa ancestors in the 1920's, try to access the 1925 Iowa State Census on for the data on those people.

San Diego Seminar with Dick Eastman

Hey, San Diego genealogists - Dick Eastman, the premier genea-blogger and expert genea-technology guy is coming to town for an all-day seminar on May 12.

The seminar is sponsored by the San Diego Genealogical Society and the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego (both of which I belong to!). It will be held at St. Andrews Lutheran Church (8350 Lake Murray Blvd (at Jackson Drive) in San Diego, starting at 8:30 AM (registration) until 3:30 PM. A catered buffet lunch will be provided. Prices are $28 for members of SDGS/CGSSD, or $30 for non-members.

Dick Eastman will make four presentations:

1) "Grandpa in Your Pocket" -- a demonstration of various gadgets that will make your genealogy research easier and do things not thought possible before.

2) "The Internet - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly" -- learn the many great and new things the Internet has to offer as well as the pitfalls and scams. A must for every researcher.

3) "Google for Genealogists" -- learn how to maximize your results in using the world's most popular search engine; find out how to do things you never dreamed possible.

4) "Putting the Genes in Genealogy" -- learn your family history to help your family fight or neutralize inherited diseases; something every genealogist needs to know.

Spaces are limited so make your reservation soon - make checks payable to SDGS and send them to Gloria Osborn (1997 Alameda Tr, San Diego CA 92103). Contact Gloria at globob22(at)

The seminar looks like it will be excellent, and I am going to try to rearrange my flight schedule so that I can attend (we are scheduled to be in Santa Cruz that week before to see the grandsons).

I urge all San Diego area (and even all Southern California) researchers to sign up and attend this seminar. The price is right, the food is good and I know Dick's programs will be excellent.

Tagged by the "Life Balance" Meme

Jasia tagged all of the Genea-blogosphere with the Life Balance meme.

Fittingly, I posted about it at my Geneaholic blog. somehow, it fit! Go read it if you want my pearls of wisdom about this subject.

Shadows of a Live Man

Back in December, the Sheboygan (WI) newspaper published the photo below, featuring a man in a top hat sitting on a supposedly dead horse, with a man and a dog, plus many buildings, in the background. A full summary of the story, the picture, and the early analysis can be found on Sharon Sergeant's Ancestral Manor site.

Together with Sharon, Colleen Fitzpatrick and Andrew Yeiser have analyzed the photo to try to determine where and when the photo was taken. The first installment of their findings have been written up in a newspaper article in the Sheboygan (WI) Press by Jan Hildebrand. Based on the setting, the buildings in the picture, other features not in the picture, and the shadows cast by the men, they determined that the picture was taken in Sheboygan WI on 24 September 1871.
Please read the whole article, Sharon's web site and Colleen's web site for more information.
It seems to me that the shadow lengths can only be determined from the picture above by measuring the shadow of the man in the background with the dog - the shadow appears to extend all the way to the fire hydrant. Measuring the man's height in the picture (which may not be accurate if it's a wide angle lens as Colleen and Andy think) relative to the apparent length of the shadow, the altitude (angle relative to the ground) of the sun is about 30 degrees. The shadows appear to be directly to the east (azimuth angle of about 270 degrees), although it is difficult to tell exactly.
I found an altitude and azimuth calculator for the sun and the moon at Inputting Sheboygan WI and a range of dates, I found that the combination of Altitude = 30 degrees and Azimuth = 270 degrees (east of north, 270 degrees = due west) occurs on about July 21 at 1630 in Sheboygan.
For Colleen's date of September 24 at 1630 local time, the altitude angle is 12.7 degrees and the azimuth angle is 256.7 degrees. If it were this date, I think the shadow would be much longer than what I see (12.7 degrees means the shadow would be about 4.4 times the length of the object, in this case, the man with the dog).
If my measurements are off by say 5 degrees in altitude, that would make it either June 21 at 1605 local time (35 degrees altitude) or August 5 at about 1645 local time (25 degrees altitude).
It's possible that the azimuth angles are not exactly 270 degrees also - they may be off by 5 to 10 degrees - it is very hard to measure that from the photograph.
I'm not saying I'm right and Colleen is wrong - because I cannot be sure what the height of the man is, the length of his shadow or the azimuth angle of the sun. Colleen must have measurements and it would be useful to know what they are and how she calculated the date from them.
If my measurements are roughly accurate, then the approximate date of the photograph is between June 21 and August 5. I'll leave the year up to Sharon, Colleen and Andy.
This was an interesting investigation by everyone!
UPDATE (3 April, 6:30 PM): I've had some emails with Colleen about her calculations, and have tried to explain my comments to her. She provided a marked up photograph with the shadow length of the man sitting on the dead horse, which resulted in a sun altitude angle of about 24 degrees. Based on the calculator at the USNO site, that correlates to August 7 at 1645 for an azimuth angle of 270 degrees.
UPDATE (4 April, 2:30 PM): Colleen has assured me in email that on the large digital image she has of the picture that the shadow of the top hat is visible, and the measurement is fairly exact. She agrees in principle with my methods here and the calculation. She has measured an altitude angle of 23 degrees from the image - that changes the day a bit. In a comment to this post, Steve Danko noted that the same combination of altitude =24 degrees and azimuth angle = 180 degrees also occurs on May 5 at 1636. That is logical, since the sun's path is essentially symmetrical about the solstice in June. Nice catch, Steve.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Della's Journal - Week 14 (April 2-8, 1929)

This is Installment 14 of the Journal of Della (Smith) Carringer, my great-grandmother, who resided at 2115 30th Street in San Diego in 1929.

The "players" and "setting" are described here. Pictures of some of the players are here. Last week's Journal entry is here.

Here is Week 14:


Tuesday, April 2: Election. Ma not able to go. Mrs. Nolan told her yesterday to drink baking soda, 1 tea spoon to 1 qt cold water, was good for the kidneys. Letter from Rose, she would try to come up Wed or Fri afternoon. I washed & ironed.

Wednesday, April 3 (rained in night): Swept. Ma stayed in bed all day, moved around too much yesterday. Betty went to a party, Easter party. Election carried Bonds for Camp Kerney, 5 to 1.

Thursday, April 4 (showered): Letter from Hazel. She was 11 years old, wrote a nice letter, did well in her school work, 6th grade. I went to town, pd on mortg[age] on Fern St. house - 2116 - $65.00. Got some medicine. Ma stayed in bed all day, soacked feet and rubbed with oil & alcohol. Ma better in some ways, but bladder bad yet. Mrs. Baxter called in evening. Mrs. Easterbrook called for a while to see how we liked the way the election went.

Friday, April 5 (cloudy PM): Ma still in bed. Rose did not come, sent card if wet she would not come, it cleared off but toward night cloudy & showered in night. Mrs. Chapman came to see Ma. She had been like Ma but took nito (?) & got over it quick.

Saturday, April 6 (showered in morning): Ma not as well. Got her an Electric Pad $6.00. She likes it very much. Letter from Mary Dyar.

Sunday, April 7: Cold wind all day, Lyle's worked at home in forenoon, then took ride to the country. Took letter & check of $3.00 out to Mrs. Schmidt to pay for water. I did not go out, to cold & Ma had a poor day. Austin has cold.

Monday, April 8 (pleasant & some warmer): Ed over, cut lawns, gave him check of $5.00. He had not been very well. I washed. Letter from Aunt Libbie. Ma in bed yet.


Ma (Abigail (Vaux) Smith) is still sick at age 85 and has a kidney or bladder problem. Several friends have suggested different cures. Della received several letters this week. I don't know who Rose and Hazel are. Aunt Libbie is Ma's sister, Elizabeth (Vaux) Crouch in Long Beach CA. Mary Dyar is a cousin of Della's who lived in the midwest.

10 Wise Genealogy Decisions

I posted 10 of my foolish ways yesterday, and wanted to be positive today - so here are 10 Wise Decisions I've made relative to genealogy research over 19 years:

10) Made or obtained audiotapes of several aunts and an uncle about their family life, including earlier generations they remembered or heard about.

9) Pestered my mother about family papers, photographs, etc. and who people in pictures were, if she knew (she had 4 generations of papers and stuff). Even so, I found many papers, books and ephemera in the house after she died.

8) Joined local and national genealogy societies in order to obtain periodicals and enjoy the membership benefits. I submitted queries to many of the societies for my elusive ancestors in those areas.

7) Used local libraries and the FHC to obtain books (sometimes through Inter-library Loan) concerning my ancestral families and localities. At the FHC, people were very helpful when I started my research - so much so that I went almost every week for many years.

6) Determined early on that the Family History Library microfilms and microfiches were wonderful sources of primary information records; I ordered innumerable films at the FHC, and used them extensively in the "research" phase of my ancestral search.

5) Traveled to ancestral homelands on vacation, and visited family in those places, in order to experience the places and the people. I learned that there are many unique genealogy records in local historical societies, genealogy societies and libraries.

4) Started a family newsletter (19 years worth so far), and self-published two books, in order to share my research finds with my extended family - children, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. I have provided these mainly as Christmas gifts.

3) Put my research results online - in the form of ahnentafel and descendants reports in order to share them with other researchers, and using them to elicit contacts or queries from other researchers.

2) Participated in my local societies when possible - by speaking, volunteering, leading, helping, and creating ways to bring people together to share genealogy methods and research.

1) Pursued continual genealogy education - in the form of reading articles, magazines, or books; attending talks, seminars and conferences; helping friends and family with their family history (and thereby learning about new localities or time frames); searching for and writing about current genealogy events and research techniques.

What wise decisions have you made during your genealogy research activities? I encourage my fellow genea-bloggers to create their own lists and share them with us and the people in their local society.

The Genea-FOOL is gone

Devoted readers may have noticed that Genea-Musings was replaced by the Genea-FOOL yesterday, due to circumstances beyond my addictions. I couldn't help myself.

In my haste to recover from April 1, I forgot to capture the screen of The Genea-FOOL. Oh well - maybe next year.

Have you noticed the color changes on the blog? I've used Orange, Purple, Dark Blue, Red and now Blue for the Genea-Musings header and title backgrounds. And Yellow for the type on the header and post titles. Which colors have you preferred? I really liked the Orange and Blue combination, and thought the Red was a bit too flashy. I like the current Blue and Yellow because it provides good contrast.

Does anybody care? Probably not - it's content that counts, I think.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

I Was a Fool - my Top 10

Looking back on my genealogy "career" this morning while sitting in church, I thought about all of the mistakes I've made over 19 years - what a Fool I was (and still am, in some cases). I usually look at my errors on Sundays (in private prayer time, of course, not out loud - I'm a Presbyterian, one of the "frozen chosen") and on April Fool's Day. I blindly admire my successes on the other days of the year (except for Leap Day, of course) - it's great for my self-esteem and confidence.

Here are my top 10 Foolish genealogy mistakes:

10. Accepting other researchers family group sheets, pedigree charts and GEDCOMs sight unseen and merging them into my own databases. Arghh. It takes years to find all of the errors.

9. Accepting the names, dates, places in the LDS Ancestral File and putting them into my databases without checking them out. I didn't understand that the data might be wrong until it was too late.

8. Finding a name, birth record and parents names for a person that "looks like" it is, and therefore "must be," my elusive ancestor. I have notebooks full of secondary information because I didn't find primary information that proves the relationships before going off on the wild goose chase.

7. Not adding the source citations to my database entries at the time of data entry. This still haunts me - I am going back into my databases regularly to add source information.

6. Spending a LOT of time at the FHC searching the Ancestry databases when I could have subscribed many years ago for 50 cents a day or less.

5. Spending a LOT of time at the FHC searching the Ancestry databases when I could have been searching microfilms for primary information data on my known ancestors.

4. Not attending national, state or regional genealogy conferences to benefit from the wisdom of other researchers.

3. Not taking enough vacation/research trips that included visits to major repositories like the Family History Library (twice), NEHGS (thrice), NYGBS, DAR, Library of Congress (once), National Archives, Allen County, Newberry, etc.

2. Not spending enough interview time with my mother, my aunts, uncle and cousins to hear their life stories, to label photographs and to enjoy their company once I started my research.

1. Not starting my genealogy research until my father and grandparents had died, even though I had considered pursuing it years before they died. I never did interview my father or my grandparents about their lives or their memories.

There are lessons in that list for veteran and newbie researchers alike. I plead with you to heed them and don't make the mistakes that I have made.

What about you - what FOOLish mistakes have you made in your genealogy research?