30 December 2008

Accomplishments and Resolutions [Personal]

'Tis that time of year again, and a good opportunity to re-gauge direction in this meandering experience we call life.


I didn't take the time to propose any formal resolutions for 2008, but I made a good set of accomplishments this year that I will list here for posterity's sake:

1. My first article in a genealogy journal was published in the Summer of this year. The California Genealogical Society blog was kind enough to post about my article, since I am a member there. I was excited that the article was published, even though when I read back on it, it seems a little stilted. Ah well, if we don't see room for improvement, I suppose we'll never see reason to try it.

2. I lost thirty pounds this year, in about four months. I had a good diet and started running, all of which combined to finally get me back into wearing a belt! Both endeavors have been pretty shoddy during the past month, but I aim to keep them going next year, as you'll see below.

3. (Almost) debt-free! My husband and I paid off our car loan this year, so now all I owe is a mountain of cash for my under-utilized (but personally appreciated) graduate degree. What with other matters more pressing, I think trying to pay off the student loan early can wait. I'm proud of our accomplishment in this regard, though. It is very freeing to start off the month by paying yourself and your future, instead of some creditor.


I have a modest five things I hope to accomplish in 2009:

1. Run a 5K

2. Run Bay to Breakers

3. Attain beginning conversational skill in Mandarin

4. Publish another genealogy article

5. Finally get all of the data in my database properly organized, reviewed and cited!

Remarkably, it's number five that seems like the real doozy!!

24 December 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All! [Personal]

Sorry for the lack of posts this month; December came crashing down on this family like a sledgehammer, but we escaped without too much damage! Long and short of my experiences this month: this year's flu is a lingerer, the DMV is a time-consuming bureaucracy, and the housing crisis can come home to roost even if you're a renter. Luckily, we're now all healthy, our car's registration records are all sorted out, and we have (as of today) rented a nice, much larger home into which we'll be moving come January 15th. In short, God has been good to us, despite the trying month we've had.

In that spirit, I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year, or just a generally peaceful, loving and wonderful holiday season. It's been a trying year for everyone in this country, but I look around and realize how blessed I am with the love of family, the camaraderie of friends, and the endless gifts of sharing, interest and kindness from the online genealogy crowd. You guys have been supportive, inspiring, and just generally awesome. I look forward to spending 2009 with you all!

I'll be back after the New Year with some new series, and, if everything goes right, some online tutorial videos. In the meantime, I'll be taking some time to rest!

08 December 2008

An Experiment in Online Research [Random]

(Sorry about the lack of a post on Friday of last week. I had what amounted to one of the MOST hectic weeks on record for me, including a sick toddler and multiple runs to the DMV (long story). At any rate, I think I'm back and on track now, so hopefully things will resume as normal... )

I decided to conduct a bit of an experiment and just have fun researching some of the inhabitants of the lovely Rose Hill Cemetery which I posted about on my Graveyard Rabbit blog last week. I wanted to see how much I could dig up on these individuals just using the resources available to me online.

Since I can't afford to order any records right now, and since holidays have me too busy to get out to the library, these research results should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, I am amazed at what I was able to dig up with some good online resources and a few hours.

My first subject was little Walter Holt:

I was unable to find out anything directly about Walter (I need to run to the California Genealogical Society or the Pleasant Hill Library Genealogy Section to see if there is information on his death and burial). But I was able to find out A LOT about his family, and how the course of their lives played out.

The Holt Family

I began by locating the family in the 1900-1920 census enumerations in Woodland, Yolo, California, using the names of the parents from Walter's grave marker. The 1900 census shows three Isaac Holts residing in California, and only one with a wife named Julia, to whom he had been married 27 years. In 1900, the couple is enumerated with daughter Grace, born February 1880 in California.

In both the 1900 and 1910 censuses, Julia states that she has two children alive out of four children birthed. Research in Woodland newspapers (detailed below) indicates that along with Grace, Isaac and Julia's other surviving child was Arthur Edward Holt. Thus the family structure (including information detailed below) is something like this:

Isaac Henry Holt (b. Abt. 1852) m. Julia Canify(1) (b. Abt. 1854)
I. Walter L. Holt b. Abt. April 1873, probably California
II. Arthur Edward Holt b. Abt. 1875, California
III. Grace Mays Holt b. Abt. 1880, California
IV. UKNOWN Holt b. UNK, UNKNOWN location

East Coasters Gone West

According to her obituary(1), Walter's mother Julia (Canify) Holt married Isaac Henry Holt in New Haven, Connecticut in 1872. The couple (she from New York, he from Massachusetts) moved out west to Martinez, Contra Costa, California in 1874. (This information ties the couple back to Contra Costa county where Walter was buried.)

I am still unable to locate the family anywhere in California for the 1880 Census, despite the fact that the couple and at least two of their children should be present at least somewhere in California at the time. Searches in Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Washington also came up empty.

We know that Walter was buried in 1882 in Rose Hill, but that area is located outside of Antioch, which is about 20 miles east of Martinez (the community Julia's obituary mentions as their residence from 1874 until 1886). The father, Isaac, is registered to vote in Contra Costa in 1884(2), but it is unclear where exactly in the county they were residing at that time. Therefore, we can tie the family to California at the time of Walter's death, and we can even point to their residence in Contra Costa, but I cannot confirm the family's residence via the 1880 census, nor can I currently find any direct information on Walter himself (at least online).

Moving On Up

Again according to her obituary(1), Julia Holt and her family moved north to Woodland, Yolo, California in 1886. We find them there, residents of #306 Cross Street, Woodland, California in the 1900-1920 censuses.

At this point information on the family is interestingly easy to find thanks to the small town paper The Woodland Daily Democrat. One of the highlights includes an article I had actually indexed on my website, which concerned the son Arthur shooting his sister Grace in the foot(3):


Last night about twilight, Arthur Holt, who lives with his parents on Cross street, near Cleveland, shot his sister in the right ankle with a No. 22 Ballard rifle. Both claim that the shooting was accidental. The little girl suffered very much from the hurt. Dr. Beebe was called, but did not remove the ball, as it had entered near the ankle joint, and he thought it best to allow it to remain a day or two.

Arthur Holt is about sixteen years of age, and enjoys a very unenviable reputation. The neighbors describe him as being the worst boy that Woodland has ever had the pleasure of raising. The shooting occurred in this way, according to the statement of one of the neighbors, who seems to think it was not altogether accidental:

Mrs. Holt had sent the boy on an errand, and he took the gun with him. As he remained away much longer than was necessary, the mother sent her little girl to find him. She is about ten years old. She met him on Cleveland street near Clanton's corner, and asked him why he had been gone so long. He commenced cursing and said it was none of her business. They walked along together, she expostulating with him and he abusing her, when the gun was suddenly discharged. The little girl screamed, and Mr. and Mrs. Clanton ran out to see what had happened. The little girl was lying in the street, and said she was shot. The boy said, "Oh, for God's sake shut up your crying. You are not hurt. It would not go through your shoe." Nevertheless, she was hurt and the blood was flowing freely from the wound. The little girl was taken to ther home, and Dr. Beebe called. Both claim the shooting to be accidental.

Arthur and Grace

Apparently Arthur eventually grew out of his more malicious phases, as by 1895 he was being commended for his work as a driver with the local volunteer fire department(4). He moved from Woodland about 1898(5), and eventually settled in Oakland, California. He married first Elizabeth Dowell (date unknown) from whom he was divorced in 1904(6). He eventually married Margurite UNKNOWN about 1906(7), with whom he resided in Oakland, Alameda, California. Arthur has not been identified in the SSDI, nor in the California Death Index (this index does not begin listing deaths until 1940). Arthur was mentioned as alive at the time of his father's death in 1932(8). No descendants have been identified from either of Arthur's marriages.

Grace married Johann Christian "Joe" Hedeman in 1907(9). Her husband was the son of C. J. Hedemann, a notable immigrant from Denmark who, among other things, served as Danish consul in Hawaii. Grace is found in the 1910 and
1930 US Federal Census in Honolulu, Hawaii(10). The couple had at least one child, Mildred(11). Grace's date of death has not been identified.

Julia and Isaac

Julia Holt died 03 June 1929 and had an extensive write-up in the Woodland paper(1). According to her obituary, she was buried in the Woodland cemetery.

Isaac Henry Holt died on 29 June 1932 in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he was residing with his daughter, Grace(8). There was no mention about his place of burial in the obituary:


Isaac H. Holt, retired brick mason, who was one of the pioneer residents of Woodland, died in Honolulu June 29th at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Grace Holt Hedeman.

News of his death came in a brief message from Mrs. Hedeman. No particulars were given in the letter.

During his residence in Woodland, Holt lived at 320 Cross Street. His wife died years ago and three years ago he left for Honolulu, where he has since resided with his daughter, Mrs. Hedeman.

Fireplaces and chimneys in many of the older residences in Woodland were constructed by Mr. Holt, who was regarded as an expert in his line.

He was a member of Woodland lodge No. 156, F. and A. M.

The only survivors are his daughter, Mrs. Hedeman, and a son, Arthur E. Holt of Oakland.

Final Notes on Walter

There remains some investigative work to be done regarding Walter himself and establishing the residence of the Holt family at the time of his death and burial. There are a few publications of Contra Costa death notices and burial records which need to be checked for information on Walter. I am hopeful that the identity of the other unknown Holt child may also be obtained by this library research, assuming the child (or young adult) died in this area.

Until then, I am pretty amazed at what great information was found on the family thanks to coverage of their lives through their local paper. I am a HUGE proponent of newspaper research, and I think this research experience is indicative of how newspapers can fill in so much in a research history.


(1). "Mrs. Holt, 75, Resident of Woodland for 41 Years, Dies", Woodland Daily Democrat, 03 June 1929, Page 1, Column 3. Accessed via Newspaperarchive.com. Some supplemental research was run on the surname Canify, but no results turned up. This may be a mis-spelling of another surname, but I'm at a loss as to what!

(2). See "1884 Voters of Contra Costa County" from the Contra Costa County Genealogical/Historical Societies.

(3). "Accidental Shooting", The Woodland Daily Democrat, 28 April 1891, page 3, column 4. Accessed via Newspaperarchive.com.

(4). "Hook and Ladder Company", The Woodland Daily Democrat, 11 December 1895, page 3, column 4. Accessed via Newspaperarchive.com.

(5). "On the Eligible List", The Woodland Daily Democrat, 27 July 1903, page 1, column 4. Accessed via Newspaperarchive.com.

(6). "Events of Interest in Woodland", The Woodland Daily Democrat, 09 June 1904, page 1, column 1. Accessed via Newspaperarchive.com.

(7). See 1900 US Federal Census, ED 106, Oakland, Alameda, California, Sheet 5A, lines 35-36, #612 Eighteenth Street; 1920 US Federal Census, ED 90, Oakland, Alameda, California, Sheet 14A, lines 4-5, #746 19th Street; 1930 US Federal Census, ED 14, Oakland, Alameda, California, Sheet 5B, lines 82-83, #746 19th Street.

(8). "Pioneer of Woodland Dies in Honolulu", The Woodland Daily Democrat, 07 July 1932, page 1, column 4. Accessed via Newspaperarchive.com.

(9). "A Marriage of Interest", The Woodland Daily Democrat, 04 March 1907, page 1, column 3. Accessed via Newspaperarchive.com.

(10). See 1910 US Federal Census, ED 30, Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii Territory, Sheet 10B, lines 44-46, #1269 Matlock Avenue; 1930 US Federal Census, ED 75, Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii Territory, Sheet 1B , lines 72-82, #601 Judd Street.

(11). See 1930 USFC for Grace Hedemann, no. 10 above. Grace is widowed in the 1930 census and enumerated in the household of her mother and father in law, along with her own daughter Mildred.

03 December 2008

Wordless Wednesdays [Random]

Tombstone, Rose Hill Cemetery, Antioch, California. Photo taken 29 November 2008 by Jennifer J. Regan.

01 December 2008

Pimp Your FB Status [Tidbits]

In time for your post-Thanksgiving coma, meet Generatus, the "Social Network Status Generator" for those with no mind or means to get that FB status "just right". Tag clouds available for those who like to feel interactive while really clicking blindly and wasting time!

I look forward to some new and exciting updates from my fellow Geneabloggers!

[Via MakeUseOf]

28 November 2008

Tag Dragging [Quick Tip]

Sometimes, in the course of your research, you open a slew of tabs, and then realize, for one reason or another, that the order of the tabs is less than optimal. Don't forget that in all browsers you can remedy this situation by dragging tabs into an order that more approximately suits your needs.

In this case, I want my ancestry.com tab to move to the second tab position. Just click and hold the tab, then drag the cursor to place you want the tab to be:

Release the button, and voila'!

Your tabs are reordered like magic, and your addled brain has one less hurdle to overcome while doing vast amounts of online genealogy research!

24 November 2008

Read It Later, Part II [Site Review]

Last week, we talked about the online bookmarking tool Read It Later, and how it can help you organize web sites that you want to mark to read, but don't necessarily want to bookmark.

This week I want to talk briefly about another feature of Read It Later, namely its integration with RSS feed reader Google Reader. This feature is only available with use of the Firefox extension, so those who have installed and use RIL on another browser will not find this post of use.

Reading It Later, Blog Style

If you subscribe to a number of different blogs in a number of different areas of interest (as many of us do), you may find that you have a difficult number of blog posts to track and read. Using Read It Later can help maximize the time you spend reading blogs, while minimizing the time spent wading through hundreds of thousands of posts.

Here's a shot of my Google Reader genealogy pane, with the Read It Later Firefox extension installed. Notice the line of checkmarks which has been added to the list-view lines, between the stars and the blog post titles:

While browsing posts in list view I can select blog posts that look to be of interest to me by clicking on the checkmark:

Doing so adds those blog posts to my Reading List, visible here as the last three items on my list:

I can now mark all the items in my genealogy folder as "read" within Google Reader, and I am no longer drowning in unread posts that make for a daunting visit to my RSS Reader!

The Best Part

The excellent thing about this feature, is that when clicked on to read from the Reading List, these items will open on their original site. That is, the integration between RIL and Google Reader means that you can bookmark the pages of the original blog posts without ever leaving the Google Reader environment. Previously, a user would have to see the blog post in Google Reader, click through to the original item on the original blog site, then add the page to the Reading List. The new integrated version accomplishes the same things with much more efficiency!

21 November 2008

Read It Later, Part I (Site Review)

Online bookmarking tool Read It Later takes a slightly different approach to managing your online reading endeavors, one which I find particularly useful. Today I am going to give an overview of Read It Later, and why it may be helpful to you for taming the growing list of "Gotta come back to this!" bookmarks that develops when online research is done. On Monday, I'll examine the tool's integration with Google Reader, and discuss how it can help make blog reading more efficient and manageable.

What It Is

I think the demo video for Read It Later gives a fairly good overview, so let's let them give you some background:

In other words, Read It Later can help you manage those sites, pages, articles, etc. that you come across during your online browsing, but which you don't have the time, mind, or mental faculty to read at the moment. You might ask, "why not just bookmark it?". If you have a bookmark list of hundreds or (like some I know) thousands of links, the answer may be that bookmarks tend to get lost, because there's no easy way to remember to revisit items that you deemed interesting. With Read It Later, you have an organized, cohesive list of items that you want to revisit, which can be accessed at your leisure. As the video shows, once you revisit items, and if you find them useful enough to bookmark, that is easily done. Read It Later ends link purgatory, allowing you to keep or toss links to pages that serve you well or don't serve you at all.

Getting Started

Setup for Read It Later is very easy. Simply visit the homepage and follow instructions which apply to your situation. Firefox users can skip the web interface and go straight for the extension. Other users will have to include bookmarklets as I show below.

In Firefox, as soon as you install the extension and restart your browser, you'll notice a few changes, such as the Readitlater checkmark in the address bar, and the reading list button in the navigation bar (my browser has been altered somewhat, so your browser will probably look different, but as long as these items are present, you can rest assured that your extension has been installed and is operating correctly). Here's how my browser appears with the extension installed; note the checkmark and the button:

In Internet Explorer and other browsers, you'll create an account (takes about two seconds) and log in to your account. Go to the bookmarklets page and install the buttons for Read It Later as follows:

1. Right-click on the first button ("Read It Later") and select "Add to Favorites"; if the browser warns you it "may not be safe", just click Yes and proceed:

2. Select "Links" from the drop-down menu on the window that pops up, and then click "Add". The button should appear in your Links menu. (If nothing is appearing, make sure that your Links menu is active by going to the File Menu, View > Toolbars. Select "Links" if there is not a checkmark next to it.)

3. Repeat steps one and two above until you have installed all three buttons on your Links bar. Your bar should look something like this:

Using Read It Later

Now, whenever you come across a page you are interested in returning to, you can mark this page using either the address bar checkmark (in Firefox) or the "Read it Later" button (in other browsers). Once you do so, the page will be added to your reading list. In Firefox, access this list by clicking on the button in the navigation bar (in other browsers, click on the Reading List bookmarklet):

You can set your options to mark pages as read as soon as they are opened in your browser, or you can opt to manually mark them as read.

As the video notes, users in Firefox can use the extension to one-click bookmarking of sites to a favorite bookmarking tool:


I highly suggest giving Read It Later a try for maximizing online research. Monday I'll talk about RIL's integration with Google Reader as yet another great facet of its organizational potential.

20 November 2008

Graveyard Rabbitin' [Personal]

Just wanted to let everyone know that I am rabbitin' up a storm over at my Graveyard Rabbit blog, Graveyard Rabbit of Contra Costa County!

Thanks a million to Terry Thornton for bringing a fun new endeavor into my blogging mix.

17 November 2008

Automate Your Online Searches-Google Edition [Quick Tips]

Google now allows you to receive updates from their Google Alerts tool via RSS feed. This change updates the tool and removes one of my long-standing grudges against Google Alerts: that they cluttered my email inbox!

If you don't know what a Google Alert is, never fear. I've got a quick tutorial below which will get you up to speed. Give Google Alerts a shot and rest easier at night knowing that the power of technology is scouring the web for you (even while you sleep!) and alerting you to the newest information being added to the web about your research subjects.

What Google Alerts Are

As I rhapsodize above, Google Alerts are automated searches that you can setup through your Google Account. Much like running a regular Google search, these alerts search the web for sites matching your search terms. The beauty of Google Alerts is that the searches managed through Google Alerts run continuously, and you receive updated search results from your alerts whenever new content matching your terms is indexed by Google! How very handy.

Let's set up an alert, and you'll see better what I mean. (Note that you have to have a Google Account to setup and manage alerts. If you don't have one, you can set one up here. You will also need to use or be using Google Reader or another RSS feed reader in order to make use of the RSS feed.)

Setting up Google Alerts

Once you have signed into your Google Account, go to the Google Alerts page to set up your alert.

Once there, enter your search term in the box on the right. (Note that the intial alert set-up form has not been altered to allow you to select an RSS feed; we'll do that later).

I am entering the name of an ancestor that I am researching. Since this is an unusual name, I won't be adding any qualifiers to the search (like "+Charleston" or "+steamboat") to refine it as I would with a more common name:

Ordinarily, if you set up a standard emailed Google Alert, you can select the frequency with which you receive results. However, once you change to an RSS feed, your frequency request will automatically be reset to "as-it-happens".

Once you have hit "Create Alert" you will be taken to this page, where you will see the alerts you have already setup (if any). Click on the "edit" link to the right of the alert you want to change into an RSS feed:

The alert will change to edit mode. Select "feed" from the drop-down menu, as shown, then click "Save":

The alert now shows up as an RSS feed, and can be viewed in Google Reader:

If you don't use Google Reader, you can click on the Feed chicklet to get the alert feed's URL for use in another reader.

Here's a view of my new Google Alert RSS feed in Google Reader:

14 November 2008

Pinpoint Addresses in Google Earth [Site Review]

Digital Inspiration presents a potentially handy tool which allows you to identify the address of any place on Google Earth. The tool is as easy to use as Google Maps, has no fuss, no logins, and no frou-frou beyond its job.

I found good use of this tool to get a current town name for the land where my great-grandfather originally homesteaded in Montana:

The tool may also be helpful in determining more exact locations of properties (city or otherwise) that no longer exist, but for which an old map shows a location. Keep in mind you can use coordinates to locate properties via Google Earth.

Try the tool here.

[Via MakeUseOf]

10 November 2008

Quick Post to Blogger via iGoogle [Quick Tip]

If you use Blogger to wield your virtual pen and muse on all things genealogical, it just got a little easier.

Blogger recently announced the release of the iGoogle Blogger Post Gadget. Meaning as soon as inspiration strikes, you can take it to "print" without even leaving your iGoogle page.

The gadget is a little stark (I'm using it right now). There's no preview, no keyboard shortcuts for things like formatting and anchor links, and no auto-fill when you tag your entry. There's also no access to advanced publishing options like timeset publishing.

Overall, great for a quick jot, but not so hot for more in-depth blogging that requires a more robust feature set. Worth a try though, as anything that makes getting those blog posts out quicker is great, especially if you use your blog as a notepad for research and ideas.

This all reminds me... since iGoogle's massive redesign, we're due for another Site Review on what's new and great (or not so great) about this latest revamp. Keep your eyes peeled for that post coming soon!

07 November 2008

Public Domain Sherpa [Quick Tip]

As a quick follow-up to a previous post on determining copyright status of a particular work, I wanted to note the very handy, very user-friendly calculator with a very cool name, The Copyright Sherpa! Almost fun to use, and totally worth giving it a try.

Also, the Open Knowledge Foundation Wiki has a list of other useful public domain calculators for many countries including the United States here.


06 November 2008

Oakland Genealogy Website

Just a short post to let everyone know that today I've officially launched my newest endeavor, OaklandGenealogy.com.

The bones of the site are up, but like everything else, this site will be growing steadily as I sneak in work while my toddler son is sleeping. Ultimately, I want this site to reflect my "dream" genealogy site for a city. Comprehensive, broad-based, a basket for pertinent information needed and desired by any genealogist researching in a particular city. I am trying to intertwine history and genealogy on this site, creating a site where a researcher can step into their research period in a more visceral way.

The site clearly isn't there yet, but eventually it will be! Please stop by the site, check it out, and let me know what you think. Thanks!

05 November 2008

On President Obama [Personal]

I have been today, like much of last night, crying and feeling amazed.

Whoever you were rooting for in this election, one has to feel pride that America has done something momentous, something that re-establishes and re-asserts the truth of what seemed to be the mythology of our society; namely, that we are a meritocracy, and do not winnow those who seek to excel by their sex, background, or race.

I become truly amazed when I see this election through the eyes of my son. He's 1.5 now; by the end of Obama's first term, he will be in Kindergarten, and understand who the President of the United States is. That it will never occur to him that a black man with a "funny sounding name" could NOT be President, that he will be incredulous that we've only had ONE black president, will make my heart warm all over again.

There is a whole generation of children in this country who are living in a better world not because of Barack Obama and his politics, but because of the voters of the United States, who reaffirmed once again that barriers stand no chance against the progress of this amazing country.

Wordless Wednesdays: Great-Great Grandparents

My great-great grandparents, George Washington Burgess and Maria Ann Boans. Image obtained initially via the Boston Studio Project, now viewable via Nebraska Memories website.

03 November 2008

Covering Your Copyright Back [Site Review]

If you are a genealogist and blog, or if you have any content online which you consider to be proprietary, you may be interested in a few websites which aim to provide easy searching for misuse of your own content on sites across the internet.

CopyrightSpot.com and Copyscape.com are both simple enough to use; simply enter the URL of a page of content you would like to search for (you can also enter the address for an RSS feed), hit search, and the sites report back with sites that have duplicated your text.

No News is Good News?

I used my blog as a trial:.

Both sites got some results, which was impressive, but on a usefulness scale they scored pretty low. Particularly, CopyrightSpot listed a variety of sites which graciously list my blog on a blogroll; as these blogrolls tend to include a snippet of new posts as they scroll through the roll, they come up on the copyright search as potential content crime!

Copyscape came up with similar results, although from some different sites. Because the duplicated text in these cases were dynamic (i.e., they scroll through the roll and then disappear), click-throughs on the results, which would typically highlight occurrences of duplicated text, only resulted in a message saying the sites "appear to have removed your text":

The sites work well enough for what they purport to do (the search engines obviously have no way of delineating real plagiarism from quotes or blogrolls), so are worth checking out for a quick check on how (or if) your content is being used by someone else on the web. In this case, no news definitely is good news!

[Via: MakeUseOf.com]

31 October 2008

Money and Economics in Family History [Reference Shelf]

If you're anything like me, economics and finance have been center-stage in your brain of late. Of course, if I had a dollar for every ancestor of mine who worried, at some point, about their economic and financial future, I'd have a lot of dollars, and would probably still be concerned.

In honor of the money flux we all find ourselves in, here is a list of potentially useful links for researchers looking to round out the dollar-denominated side of their ancestors' lives:

  • Cost of Living and Purchase Power- from the LOC. Links and calculators that answer the question "what is that worth today?". Great for getting a better grasp of the economic identities of your ancestors. You might also try out The Inflation Calculator.

  • Cost of Living-from Harvard University. A 1936 publication covering the cost of living in the United States from 1914 to 1936. Again, cost of living puts the financial situation of your research subjects in perspective.

  • Economic Recessions Throughout History-from EOGN. A great article to bookmark and reference when researching families. Recessions precipitate job losses, movement of households, merging of households, etc... all things that we, as genealogists, are very interested in. You can also check out the Wikipedia list of previous United States recessions for more links and resources on historical economic downturns.

  • Business History Resources-from LOC. Resources, both online and off, related to researching "an old company or extinct firm". Always interesting to learn more about a company for which an ancestor worked. Or, a company for which an ancestor used to work, as the case may be.

29 October 2008

Wordless Wednesdays: Sick in Oakland

Patients being cared for in the Auditorium Hospital, Oakland, California, during the outbreak of the 1918 Spanish Influenza.

Photo via The Online Archive of California, public domain photo.

27 October 2008

New Online Book Resource [Site Review]

Recently launched, Hathi Trust bills itself as the "shared digital future", being a common digital repository that already has over 2 million volumes and 700+ million pages on its servers. According to their site, "HathiTrust was conceived as a collaboration of the thirteen universities of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and the University of California system to establish a repository for these universities to archive and share their digitized collections."

Using Hathi Trust
This site is relatively new, and at the moment there is no single search-interface for works digitized under this cooperative, but their site mentions that this is an ultimate goal. For now, users have to use the search engines of various participating institutions (like the University of Michigan)to find some content, or can browse some of the collection through the Digital Library Interface, also particular to UMich.

Poking around, I found some interesting titles just by running a few easy subject word searches. A search on cemeteries yielded 164 results, including some monument transcriptions from Eastern Europe, and death records of European deaths in Southeast Asia. Numerous volumes record transcriptions from graveyards along the Eastern seaboard. Public domain volumes are full-text, those volumes not in the public domain are "search only", meaning they are not browsable:

Unfortunately, the results shown for intra-text searching on restricted, "search only" items, are uniquely unhelpful (note that you can't see the search results in situ at all):

The breadth of the collections seem to be interesting, and will be of use to most researchers. A quick search on Oakland, California yielded me (among other things) a 1910 report on the urban park system in Oakland California... this from the UMich library! Therefore, even if you don't see an institution from the exact areas of your geographic concerns, you should make an attempt to check out what you can of Hathi Trust to see what you can find. You may be pleasantly surprised.

In Conclusion

It's clear from Hathi Trust's site and the lack of a centralized searching function, that this project is in its early stages, and is first and foremost crafting shared digital depository practices for its central users, Universities and Archives. However, as the ultimate goal is to make the repository "available, to everyone, anywhere, any time", this is a site to watch, and one which, if successful, could give Google Books a serious run for its money.

20 October 2008

Small Break

Well, a family vacation in Yosemite followed by some family matters have had me out of the blogging loop (the internet loop, really) for about a week, and will continue to do so for the remainder of this week.

RDGR will be back with a normal posting schedule on Monday, October 27th. In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying the transition into fall, and the upcoming holiday season.


15 October 2008

13 October 2008

Live Image Search [Quick Tip]

I am usually a Google girl, but in some things Microsoft's Live Search has the best functionality. Their image search is one case in point. I especially like their option to search by photo or illustration, which comes in handy for certain searches.

As an example, I am running here a search for Oakland +"Lake Merritt". Live search returns the following at the top of its search results:

The power in Live Search's panel is on the right-hand side, where you can use various criteria to modify and refine your search. The option to view solely photos or illustrations is located here:

In selecting "Illustrations" the search returns adjust accordingly:

Note that among the returns are maps for the area in which I am searching. Very handy! You can try it our yourself at live.com.

08 October 2008

Wordless Wednesdays [Random]

Family tree wedding article, found via NewspaperArchive.com. The Oakland Tribune, 27 May 1928, Page A3.

06 October 2008

Free Journal Access [Tidbits]

SAGE journals is offering free access to their journals through October 31st. If you've never given academic journals a look on some of your research interests (cultures, history, events, etc.) you may well be surprised.

Registration gives you access to over 500 journals. The following disciplines have the most potential interest to genealogists:

* Communication & Media Studies
* Cultural Studies
* Economics
* Ethnic Studies
* Gender Studies
* Geography
* Language & Linguistics
* Politics & International Relations
* Sociology
* Special Education
* Urban Studies, Urban Planning & Development

Get the free trial here.

[Via ResourceShelf]

Quick E-Mail Filtering in Gmail [Quick Tips]

Filters are a fabulous tool in Gmail that allow you to tag and autofile incoming email messages. This is great for lists that you may subscribe to (from Societies, from Rootsweb, etc.). This quick tip will show you how to quickly create a filter using a message in your inbox.

In this case, I am creating a filter for the monthly e-newsletter I receive from the California Genealogical Society.

After opening the message you want to create a filter for, begin by selecting "Filter messages like these" from the "More Actions" drop-down menu:

Gmail will take you to the screen below, where you can input the criteria Gmail will use to apply the filter to incoming messages. Gmail will autopopulate the "From" field with the email address from which the message was sent. Since I receive more than just these newsletters from this address, I have chosen to include the subject line associated with these newsletters as an additional criterion. Obviously, the more fields you fill-in, the more specific the filter will be.

After filling in the criteria for the filter, click on "Next Step", and you will be taken to a screen where you will tell Gmail what to do with any incoming mail that matches the criteria you just outlined:

"Skip the Inbox" means that incoming mail to which your filter is applied will not appear in the inbox at all, they will immediately be archived. If you choose to skip the inbox, be sure to apply a label to your message, as this will allow you to find the filtered messages easily, by browsing tags.

You'll also find that upon reaching this screen, Gmail will have searched and will display messages that match your filter settings. You can apply your filter settings on this page to apply to those messages Gmail found by clicking the "Also apply filter to the X messages displayed below".

Congratulations, you've quickly and easily made your email life a little neater, a little simpler, and a littler more organized!

You can read more about filters, labels, and using Gmail as a searchable mailing list archive in this post and this post.

29 September 2008

Facial Recognition Online [Tidbits]

Earlier this month, it was announced that Google's Picasa had launched a facial recognition feature. The feature helps automate the tagging of photos of people, which, obviously, could be a great tool for genealogists looking to organize collections of family photos. There are limitations on the usage of the tagging, all of which are noted in the article linked above.

I ran a quick test with some photos I had already uploaded. The facial recognition worked well enough to find most of the photos of my son right off the bat, and as I tagged photos, it seemed to learn his face more efficiently:

It even started suggesting tags for photos, and, remarkable, the suggestions tended to be from the same family! Picasa had a hard time identifying some photos, especially profile shots.

Head on over to Picasa to give the facial recognition tagging a shot!