About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A little violin music, if you please

Most recently, my life has been rather hectic. I know, nothing new; and I hardly have a monopoly on that situation! I have taken on some new obligations in the past month and now realize that, however organized I have been in the past, my skills for staying on task and prioritizing are going to be even more important in 2012.

On 16 Oct 2011 I was appointed the new Director of the Corona (CA) Family History Center, meaning that many bucks will be stopping with me when it comes to scheduling (both the hours of operation and staff meetings, as well as training sessions and workshops). I already knew about many of the obligations that come with this job, but have not been fully aware of the budgeting details, supply- and equipment-ordering, etc. But I am fortunate: my predecessor has been called to other duties, not to another location, so he is still around and involved in the Center, as is his wife, who has been instrumental in scheduling holidays, doing the announcement posters, keeping the books balanced, etc. I am so grateful for her willingness to continue in those jobs! And others have their tasks that they have been doing diligently so that means that the delegation is already in place. I love delegation! Especially since I live 15 or more miles from the Center. One of the great changes that makes this job even more doable is the new ordering system for FHL films - we do it all on-line now (in fact, you cannot even order a film at the Center, except via computer). In case you are unaware (and it is not completely obvious from the FamilySearch catalog web page), to order films to be sent and viewed at your local FHC or affiliate, go to www.familysearch.org/films. In California we no longer call in film orders (one less thing for the Director to be concerned about), but films will still be shipped to me. Nevertheless, I can do this job.

I was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Assoc. of Professional Genealogists. Thankfully, I am already doing things that are expected of Board members so there won't be too many adjustments there. I am looking forward to working with some of the movers and shakers in the genealogy community. And I am extra fortunate in that the incoming President, Kenyatta Berry, is also a Southern Calif. resident. I expect we'll be seeing a lot of each other. She's a great lady and I am pleased to be working with her. I can do this job.

Earlier this year I volunteered to be in charge of SCGS Jamboree's Ask the Expert table in 2012. I was disappointed that there was talk of disbanding that element of Jamboree and wanted to have it get one more chance. It is not till June 2012, but I am already painfully aware of how fast the months are slipping past, so I will be working on this project over the next few months. I will need to develop a committee of organizers and volunteers to answer rudimentary questions from the Jamboree attendees. If you want to participate, please let me know! I am excited about this project; I can do this job.

Also earlier this year I was contacted by the Institute for Genealogical Studies to develop a course for their curriculum. This will deal with family folklore and be considered a more advanced course than the beginning fare they offer. I have my rough outline drawn up and hope to have it put together by the end of the year. It promises to be an enjoyable project as it deals with something about which I am passionate. I can do this job.

The Southern Calif. Chapter of the Assoc. of Professional Genealogists, of which I am still President, will be having its mini-PMC (Professional Management Conference) for APG members on 31 March 2012. It's a great chance for the members to get a little more education that targets their professional needs. We've had great reviews on the programs in the past and I have similar hopes for the one coming up. The SCCAPG board is amazing and everyone pitches in (delegation strikes again). I can do this job.

The Corona Family History Seminar (co-sponsored by the Corona Genealogical Society, of which I am still President, and the Corona Family History Center, of which, as I mentioned above, I am now the director) is scheduled for Saturday morning, 4 August 2012. I work with great people in both organizations and know that they will be helpful as we put this together (did I mention I love delegation?) so I have great hopes for the program. I already have an idea for the speaker schedule, so now I just need to stay focused to keep the priorities from slipping through my fingers and brain. But I can do this job.

As individual tasks and positions, all of the above are quite doable, but when I look at the entire list, I feel rather overwhelmed. Yet my genealogy "families" are all capable and dedicated folks and are so supportive. Yes, I may, from time to time, believe that I need to hear a few strains of a violin, playing a little "woe is me" music, but for the most part, I think the music playing in my head will be more along the lines of a full brass band - a marching one, in fact! Full speed ahead.

So if my blogs are infrequent; if my email replies are a little slow in arriving; if my answer to other requests occasionally is "no" (note: that will rarely be the case for speaking engagements, my first love, unless I am already previously booked); if I disappear for a weekend (never when I'm booked, of course) to have a little down time, now you will know why. But while 2012 appears to be a promise of constant projects, I love the work and I love the people. I also enjoy the traveling and the fact that I am never bored. I can do all these jobs . . . with a little help from my friends!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A funny thing happened on the way to the blog . . . AKA Applications for Headstones for US Military Veterans, Part 2 (of 2)

As my blog followers know, I have been rather lax at keeping my posts even close to up to date. I could give those logical excuses: Lots of writing obligations with stringent deadlines, I had to renew my Certification (BCG - and it was renewed), I have taken on the responsibilities of Director of the Corona Family History Center, I have been elected as an incoming member of the Board of Directors for APG (Assoc. of Professional Genealogists), etc., but that won't explain this latest delay.

I was working on the microfilm reviews regarding military tombstones (see earlier blog post) and I received a very interesting email from my friend and colleague, Marie Varrelman Melchiori, CG, CGL of Melchiori Research Services, L.L.C. Marie sent me the links to three websites (a couple of these links are brand new - or they were when she emailed me last month!) and it took me until today to visit them (see paragraph above for reasons for that delay, please forgive me, Marie).

In examining the materials at these websites, it seems especially necessary for me to pass along the information to anyone in my reading audience; a quick check of these may eliminate a lot of unnecessary busy work, only to get you to an on-line source for NARA microfilm information you are seeking.

Microfilm Publications and Original Records Digitized by Our Digitization Partners.
This links you directly to the NARA website where it lists the micropublications that appear elsewhere on the Internet in digital form. For example, were I to wish information on some of the military headstone card records (series M1845), I can look on this page to discover that the publication is on-line at Ancestry.com. Clicking the link for the series takes me directly to Ancestry and, if I am doing this at the National Archives, it will bring up the site for NARA's institutional subscription to Ancestry (very convenient for those who do not subscribe to this database). Material from the Information Publication, along with options to search or browse the collection are provided.

Why examine the collection? Headstone cards in this series (covering 1879-1903) include the military unit, cemetery name and location, and date of death associated with the veteran. If you suspect an ancestor served in the military and may be buried with a military headstone to mark the grave (placed at time of burial or later), it may give additional information to lead you to his/her military records.

A similar experience occurs when you use that NARA database to locate a film series that is posted on Fold3 - you are directed to the Fold3 site (if at a National Archives, it will direct you to the institution's subscription site), but the search may be more general (instead of listing just the collection you have selected, it may give you a broader search of all related records).

You may also find it helpful to search just the specific website (Ancestry.com or Fold3) instead of doing it through the NARA site. For Ancestry's "Records from the National Archives" searchable collection, go directly to http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/nara.aspx. For Fold3's "NARA Titles Available on Fold3" index (with links to the respective images), go to http://www.fold3.com/page/285692818_nara_titles_available_on_fold3/. In both cases, a full Table of Contents is provided with the listings given in Film Series numerical order. If you prefer to search by series title, you need to use the listing from the NARA website.

On the NARA website (see link above), you have the option of re-sorting the contents by Film Series titles (alphabetically - Click "NARA Film Titles" once for descending - A through Z - and a second time for ascending - Z through A), film numbers (starting with Film Series "A", then "M," then "T"; or backwards - click heading a second time - for T, M, A order), "Partners" (Ancestry and Fold3 - though one still lists the latter as "Footnote"; that will probably be updated soon), and Record Group (e.g., the Record Group I have been discussing is 92, dealing with military deaths, not necessarily during service, however). In this last option, you can also create an ascending or descending list, as preferred, just by clicking the heading.

Suggestion: check on the NARA list first before taking time searching Series-by-Series on the other two sites. It's just a little more efficient.

So there are some ways to locate the elusive veteran ancestor (among other NARA records). If yours was honorably discharged but did not get a government-issued tombstone or memorial marker, consider making that a good New Year's resolution. As we approach Veterans Day 2011 (11-11-11), it's a good time to look into the particulars. Military.com provides links to the forms and other pertinent information to accomplish this.

Finally, let us take some time to make this Veteran's Day a meaningful one. We spend so much time to decorate and create an atmostphere to make Hallowe'en and other secular holidays fun and memorable, but so little to connect to veterans (both gone and still living) and our service personnel on duty today . . . let 11-11-11 be the year to change that!

Thank you, Marie, for your help in getting me up to snuff on the particulars of these links. It is greatly appreciated.