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.