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Thursday, March 19, 2015

I Stand Corrected ... Upon Further Investigation It is the Full Pension File on HeritageQuest Now

HeritageQuest Rev. File
Wednesday something started to bug me so I did a bit more investigation. After some looking and comparing between images at HeritageQuest and Fold3, I have realized that HeritageQuest does now have digital images of the complete U.S. Revolutionary Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files.

Upon initial investigation it looked like nothing had changed. The first page after the file summary cover said "Selected."  Now if I had done what I did yesterday, I would have seen that, yes, more digital images of pages have been added.
HeritageQuest Rev. File Selected

One thing that did not help is that it has been almost ten years since I used the actual microfilming of the complete files while at the Allen County Public Library. I failed to remember how those files were presented on the microfilm. As the descriptive pamphlet explained: first the summary cover of the file was filmed; next were "Selected pages" for files of larger size; followed by the "Nonselected" pages of the file. When the digital collection at HeritageQuest was updated recently that Nonselected portion was added.
HeritageQuest Rev. File Unselected

Now there are still differences between the Revolutionary Pension/Bounty-Land collections at HeritageQuest and Fold3. One difference is image quality. The images at HeritageQuest are black and white while the images at Fold3 are grayscale. Just a little tweaking in PhotoShop will brighten the grayscale images at Fold3 making them even better. 


HeritageQuest Rev. Pension File
Fold3 Rev. Pension File


Another difference is that the Selected/Nonselected Header Cards used for the microfilming were not digitally imaged in Fold3's collection. (I'm guessing to save server space and I believe because the header cards are not actually in each file at the archives.) So your total image count for each file is going to differ by two when comparing files at HeritageQuest and Fold3. Of course, the file I used for comparison had to be an exception. At HeritageQuest there are 44 digital images for Caleb Foster's file. At Fold3 there are 43 digital images for Caleb Foster's file. The difference should have been 2 accounting for the two headers that were not filmed by Fold3. Using the filmstrip view I can see that a header was not accidentally filmed by Fold3 so it must be an actual page. To figure it out, I will have compare the images at HeritageQuest and Fold3 page by page to see if there is a missing page or if one page was filmed twice. HeritageQuest does not show each file's total page count while Fold3 does show each file's total page count.

The third difference is that HeritageQuest does not have an every name index like Fold3 has with its collection.  HeritageQuest simply indexes the soldier/pensioner (and widows) who applied for pensions. I again tested this with my Robert Rider of New York. He does not have his own file but he appears in the files of others.


HeritageQuest Rev. File Results
Fold3 Rev. File Results


As you can see there are no hits for him at HeritageQuest (just a guy of the same name from Massachusetts) while at Fold3 my Robert Rider can be found in three files (the fourth is for that guy of the same name from Massachusetts.)

So if you are looking for a soldier/pensioner or widow HeritageQuest will work but do check the collection at Fold3 -- you might find your guy mentioned in someone else's file and learn something new like I did years ago. 

If only we could locate that bible of Robert Rider to which Caleb was referring when stating his birth in his papers. We still can't figure out what Caleb would be doing in Robert's bible.

©2015, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

They're Here!!!!!!!! Michigan Death Certificates 1921 to 1939 are Now on SeekingMichigan.org

I've checked several times a day for a couple months. And the one time I go to bed early so I'm rested for the next day, look what happens ... the Michigan Death Certificates for 1921 to 1939 go live online.

These long awaited images are at the Archives of Michigan website a.k.a. SeekingMichigan. 


SeekingMichigan.org Website Screen Capture
Once there, click on Advanced Search in the upper right corner of the webpage. From there you will see a listing of the various collections available. The one you want is: Death Records, 1921-1952 OCLC LOADING.

Because specific search fields do not automatically load when you select a collection to search, you need to do a little trick. 

Click to check on the box for the Death Records, 1921-1952, and click to uncheck all other collections that are already showing a checked box. (Generally, advanced search starts with just the Death Records, 1897-1920, pre-checked.) Then select search with no information filled in. Once the results page appears click on advanced search to return to the search page. Now the specific search fields are loaded for the Death Records, 1921-1952, collection.

SeekingMichigan Screen Capture
The specific search fields available for this collection are: County; city/village/township; Last Name; Given Name; Death Year; Death Month; Death Year; Age; Father's Given Name; Father's Last Name; Mother's Given Name; Mother's Last Name. That's more fields than are available for the earlier death records collection for 1897-1920.

SeekingMichigan Screen Capture
If you perform a search using one field, remember to remove the second search field line or you will get an error. (Click on remove to the right of the line.)


SeekingMichigan Screen Capture
Once on the results page, to see the death certificate click on the thumbnail image. The image viewer is the same and has not been updated. You can enlarge your view, expand the viewer in the browser, pan/move around the image, or rotate the image.

SeekingMichigan Screen Capture
Digital images of the certificates can be downloaded in a choice of three different sizes: small, medium and large. The file is saved as JPEG (jpg) image.

Remember that the search capability of SeekingMichigan is limited. There is no Soundex and wildcard use does not always seem to work.  So think of it as exact search only and try different spellings. (Ask yourself, how could someone have read this name?)

FamilySearch Screen Capture
To get around this, try searching the Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952, collection on the FamilySearch website. This is an index to this collection but there is no direct link to the images at SeekingMichigan. FamilySearch uses a fuzzy search and catches different spellings. If you find the one you want in the index at FamilySearch, put that spelling into the search at SeekingMichigan.

I wouldn't be surprised if an index with links to the images appears on Ancestry.com at some point. Having an index database at Ancestry.com like there is for the earlier Death Certificates for 1897-1920 would give us Soundex search capability.

Finally, remember that even though the collection says 1921 to 1952, you will only see actual images up to the year 1939 due to Michigan laws. With each coming year, another year of death certificates will be release for viewing.

Have fun finding your ancestors and relatives!

©2015, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.

Monday, March 16, 2015

HeritageQuest from ProQuest Gets Remodel and Upgrades Thanks to Partnership with Ancestry.com

Image Capture of HQ website
Have you visited HeritageQuest lately? 

About 10 days ago, the site got a makeover and some new research tools for patrons to utilize.

Michigan residents can access HeritageQuest from home through the mel.org which is the Michigan Electronic Library website. The service is free for Michigan residents who access the site using their Michigan Driver License/State Identification Card or participating Michigan Library Card. Many other states have similar setups though the state access website would go by a different name.

HeritageQuest is offered as a subscription service for institutions by ProQuest. According to a press release earlier this month, "The enhancements are a result of the expanded partnership and distribution agreement between ProQuest and Ancestry announced last June [2014.]"


So what is different or new?



Image Capture of HQ website
With regards to the CENSUS on HeritageQuest, gone are the former census images and the limited search capabilities. Now HeritageQuest is utilizing Ancestry's census images and search engine -- every name indexed with the power of Exact, Soundex, Phonetic and Wildcard search capabilities. (The internet might be a little slower at night with more researchers and their bunny slippers staying up late to get find just one more relative in the census before calling it a night or morning.)


With regards to the FAMILY AND LOCAL HISTORY PUBLICATIONS, there are a quite a few changes. The collection has been expanded and now includes city directories. There has also been a major redesign of the search engine. Results will give a thumbnail image of the hit, and hits will be highlighted. Choosing People, Publications or Directories presents you with different search parameters.

Image Capture of HQ website
Image Capture of HQ website

Image Capture of HQ website
I am not sure if I like these new search engines because my test results were not encouraging. Using the People Search, I entered Pazzi Lapham in the First Name and Last Name fields. If I just left things as is, I got way too many results. (I've done this search prior so I know what I should get and 5,624 results means anything and everything barely close to what was entered in the search fields came up as a result.) If I changed both fields to exact, I got not one single result. (I know this is wrong.) So I tried "Pazzi Lapham" in quotes in the Keyword field and got the results I expected to see the first time.

Unfortunately it looks like my favorite way to search is no more. The Publications Search no longer has a keyword parameter field -- only the People and Directories Search has it now. My favorite way to search was to put just a word or two in the Title search field (like a State or County name) and generally a surname in the keyword field. I often found things using this method that would not come up in other searches. I'll have to see if my second favorite way to search (keywords only) works the same under the new People Search as it did under the old Publications Search.


Image Capture of HQ website
With regards to the US Revolutionary Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, this collection has NOT changed. These are still digitized images of the selected microfilming of these files. That means only certain pages from each file were chosen to be microfilmed. The search engine to this collection is not an every name index to any name that appears in the files. It is only an index to the soldiers/pensioners for whom files exist.

There had been some mention that these were now digitized images of the complete files meaning every page microfilmed. But I did a couple tests and my results say otherwise. In a search for the file of Caleb Foster of New York, the first page after the image of his file cover (looks like an index card) is an inserted sheet of paper that says "selected" indicating this is the selected filming.

A second test was for an ancestor's brother, Robert Rider of New York who served and never requested a pension or bounty-land for himself but did write affidavits for his fellow soldiers. Robert did not come up in the old HeritageQuest Revolutionary Files search and still does not come up on this revised website. But Robert does come up as a result on Fold3's collection because it has an every name index to the digitized images from the filming of the complete files. Though Robert does not have a file himself, because it is an every name index Robert's name appears because he is mentioned in other soldier's files. So my tip here is if your ancestor does not come up in a search at HeritageQuest, check Fold3 -- many libraries have subscriptions if you don't have one yourself.


Image Capture of HQ website
With regards to the Freedman's Bank collection, there appear to be more search parameters to utilize on this updated website. Earlier this year or late last year, a couple more locations were added. It is not clear if all surviving records have been added to this collection making it complete or not.


Image Capture of HQ website
With regards to the PERidoical Source Index (PERSI), this collection is now an archive version. The search engine to this collection has not been updated. The information in this collection which covers articles from the years 1800 to 2009 has not and will not be added to because the contract for PERSI online is now held by FindMyPast. So if you use this collection, remember it only goes up to the year 2009. Regardless, there is a lot of information there to utilize. Categories to search under remain: People, Places, How To's and Periodicals.

For newer articles from the year 2009 and forward, you will have to access PERSI on FindMyPast. If you don't have a FindMyPast subscription yourself, go visit your local Family History Center (FamilySearch Center) at an LDS Church and ask to use their portal services to access FindMyPast for free -- just pay for printouts or bring a USB drive with you.
Image Capture of HQ website

With regards to the U.S. Serial Set, it too has not changed and is still using the old HeritageQuest search engine. This collection is used to find memorials, petitions and private relief actions of the U.S. Congress.

In addition to HeritageQuest's collections, there is now a Research Aids collection and a Maps collection. 

Image Capture of HQ website
The Research Aids collection consists of a variety of tips and guides covering six major research areas: Getting Started, Census, Beyond the Basics, Immigration, Military and Ethnic. Essentially this is a learning area where you can expand your genealogy and research knowledge.



Image Capture of HQ website
The Maps collection allows you to see boundary changes for individual states or the entire United States through the decades from 1790 to 1920. The title of the collection is, Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920. It is a good tool for seeing changes at the country or state level.


For another boundary change resource that covers a greater time period, try the Newberry Library's online Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. In addition to the online interactive version, you can download data files to use with Google Earth.

Have fun exploring these changes.

Side Note: I am still working on my Clean-Up My Act. It is slow work but I am making progress. I am currently working on cleaning up my sources in my new file/program that did not transfer between programs very well. I'll explain more later.

©2015, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Another New Database on Ancestry.com -- Michigan Marriage Records 1867-1952

There's another new rabbit hole to investigate on Ancestry.com this month. Today, Ancestry.com added the database Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867 - 1952.

Though the online index goes up to 1952, you will only find actual images of the records up to the year 1938 due to Michigan laws. So you get 13 more years of images (FamilySearch.org has images up to 1925) and 27 more years of index and transcribed records.

Oh, what fun! Could the posting of the additional images of the Michigan Death Certificates (up to 1938) on SeekingMichigan.org be near? One can only hope!

©2015, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Quaker Records for Canada Just Added to Ancestry.com -- Hip, Hip, Hooray!!!!

It was not there last night but today not so long ago I discovered that Ancestry.com has added Quaker Meeting Records, 1787-1988, for Canada.

This database collection includes not only digital images but also an searchable index. YEAH!

Based on what I have seen in the database, the records were digitized from the black and white microfilm copies of the original books. I used a set of these same microfilms while at the Archives of Ontario on a trip a few years ago. I made a lot of progress in my research from that trip and now I expect to make even more thanks to this searchable index.

I have already discovered what appears to be a request for a removal certificate for my fifth great grandfather. (I'm not sure if we found this on our trip since I have not finished processing my finds.) His son with the same name had long returned to New York. And only one child lived in this particular area and none of his family carried the same name as my fifth great grandfather. So it is looking good that I found him. I just need to analyze everything more carefully.

Of course that leaves the question still: what happened to fifth great grandmother? Hopefully, I'll find out soon.

As a side note, I am still working on my Clean-Up My Act but my progress was severely slowed by a presentation I was asked to give earlier this month and participation in creating a beginning genealogy workshop. Just last night I was able to make some progress on the next Clean Up My Act step I had planned to take a few weeks ago. Hopefully, these Quaker records are not too much of a "follow the bunny down the hole" distraction and I keep to my intended Clean up My Act work this week.

©2015, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

First Special Service Force from World War II Receives Congressional Gold Medal of Honor

Two days ago, the First Special Service Force from World War II as an entire unit received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. The elite strike force, composed of U.S. and Canadian soldiers, was also known as "The Devil's Brigade."

Gentleman, both living and those passed on (including cousin Emil), congratulations and thank you for your service.

©2015, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Genealogy Do-Over Year? Not Quite. Instead I'm doing a Genealogy Clean Up My Act Year

What is a Genealogy Do-Over and do I need one? 


Start My Genealogy Over From Scratch?
It is a learning experience spearheaded by professional genealogist Thomas MacEntee who owns High-Definition Genealogy and leads the GeneaBloggers community among other things. Essentially those taking part in the learning experience, which began January 2nd, will follow MacEntee "as he basically starts his genealogy research from scratch but includes sound research practices and methodologies as well as new templates, tools and the latest technology to create a better body of family history research." The Do-Over is just starting the third of the thirteen week program.

I thought about this for a while after it was announced December 15, 2014. Do I need a Genealogy Do-Over? And the more I thought about it, the more I thought: No.

But I do need a Genealogy Clean Up My Act Year.


What's the difference? Well, first I am not frustrated by past research practices. When I seriously started my genealogy 20 or so years ago I started on a good base. I read how-to books. I took a genealogy class offered at one of my local libraries. (My mom and sister took one the year before offered through the local adult community education of the community college.) Both had good instructors. And I joined a local genealogy group -- actually two of them though one no longer exists.

All of these things I did at the beginning taught me what original resources to look at (vital records, census, cemeteries, probate, land, etc.) and good research practices to follow (record what you know and how you know it so you know what you don't know and can find back what you found in case you or someone else needs to look at it again.) It also ingrained into me: 1. Do not just accept what is printed in a book (especially a family history without sources) or what someone says without proof; 2. Do your own research so you know whether a fact is right or not; 3. Cite your sources. Later I would add: 4. Don't stop at an index, transcript or abstract -- seek out the original source yourself if you can do so because there is likely more information to be learned.

Does this mean my genealogy is perfect? No. As many are aware: researching is more fun than entering and documenting what you found. So I have more research done than what is entered into my genealogy program. But what is in my genealogy database is well researched and pretty-well documented though not in the current way due to changes in genealogy programs over the years. Putting it all aside does not make sense to me.

So my Clean Up My Act Year begins for me with my genealogy program. My main genealogy database has been on an old mac computer in an older version of a genealogy program I loved dearly. Before I can begin anything else I need to get that genealogy database into a genealogy program on my current computer, a PC.

This monumental task, that I have been picking at for several years, is what has been hindering me from doing a lot of things I want to do.

  • Have my research in one spot, not multiple files that are slivers of the whole tree. (See the next bullet.)
  • Be able to work on something for more than two hours at a time. (The limit of the battery -- long story there.)
  • Have my program tell me a relationship rather than having to figure it out on paper. (A minor problem which is the result of slivered files.)
  • Be able to better add photos and document images to the database. (Older programs do not support this well.)
  • Publish an article or book on certain branches of my family. (That is my big goal.)

The first time I made a GEDCOM from the mac program to take to the PC program I discovered a big problem with the transfer on top of the thousands of errors in the transfer report. Since I used slashes in the name field to indicate name variations I ended up with wrong names for a lot of people. What I had not known prior is that in GEDCOM language anything between two slashes / / indicates a surname. So Laas/Claas/Lars JENSSEN became Laas CLAAS which is obviously wrong. The new program saw Claas between the first set of slashes and completely ignored the later correct set of slashes for the right surname, JENSSEN.

After fixing that problem I noticed a problem with the transfer of the prefix title and suffix title. Once I fixed that I knew my note fields were the biggest problem and the cause of so many errors in the transfer. The old mac program I used supported multiple note fields meaning I could define one for research, one for land, one for probate, one for military, etc. Though the older PC version of the mac program supports the same multiple note fields, current genealogy programs usually support just one note field. Though there is one program that supports three note fields it still meant I had a lot of work to do in order to not completely lose that information. So that is where I stood for a long time. Occasionally working on the note fields and not getting any further.

The Genealogy Do-Over inspired me to commit myself to a Genealogy Clean Up My Act.


Act 1, Scene 1 -- Get My Genealogy Database Ready to GEDCOM.
Started: Dec. 29, 2014 - Completed: January 18, 2015
I finally analyzed and made a doable, trackable plan for how to check and manually merge the note fields of 7,000+ individuals in my database so each only used the one main note field for that person. Clearly, working here and there in the file and not knowing for sure who I had adjusted did not work.

Tracking My Progress Using My Pedigree.
I decided to follow the path of my pedigree. Starting with my parents I checked the note situation for them and all of their descendants. When completed I used a removable sticky note tab to mark that section completed on the cascading pedigree printout. Then choosing one branch I worked my way back by each "grandparent set" checking their note fields and those of their descendants. Doing it this way helped to not forget any collateral relatives. This task took a long time but there was no way to do it automatically.

Once I finally got through everyone, I did searches for anyone with any text in the note fields I had emptied. Since very few note fields contained the same text, I used a "Wheel of Fortune" method to check the fields: Find any note of this kind containing this letter. The letters I used to check each note field were: e, a, i, n, s. And it turns out I missed a few or mistakenly condensed the notes to the wrong field. So it was good to perform a search to check my work. In the process I also discovered about six unconnected persons floating in my file. These are ones without parents, spouses or children. So rather than let these "Clooneys" float in space I connected them where they should have been connected. I also performed a specific search for unconnected persons in case any did not have text in a note field. I think two unconnected individuals are duplicates so I added a specific text phrase to their note fields so I can seek them out again once I have their papers/information in front of me.

I completed this work yesterday, made the GEDCOM and brought it into a "modern" genealogy program.

Act 1, Scene 2 -- Clean Up the New Database Made from the GEDCOM
Started: January 18, 2015 --
I wish I could have brought the GEDCOM into an empty file I have set up with all my program preferences already set but unfortunately the program I am using will only let you bring a GEDCOM into a fresh, new file. I guess this is one way to protect your database from becoming a mess. So my first step was to make sure the program settings for this database file were what I desired. (Each database file can have some different settings so I compared my options to screen captures from a database file that is already set up with my preferences.)

Now just because I cleaned up my database prior to making the GEDCOM it does not mean that I ended up with a perfect, new database file ready to go. No, that would be too easy.

Though all this work in the old program reduced thousands of errors to just twelve in the GEDCOM transfer, which I can handle manually, at present I have two major tasks ahead.

  1. Clean up/fix the existing sources so they conform to the newer way sources are handled in GEDCOM. (I could not do this in the old program.)
  2. Clean up/fix the formatting of the text in the Note Field. (The majority of the time formatting such as bold, italic, etc is lost during GEDCOM transfers.) 

I have combined these two tasks into the same "scene" because some text from the notes will now end up in the source citations and a summary of the event/source will end up in the note field in more of a narrative format, hopefully. To keep track of where I am in this "scene" I have determined that printing out my source list from my old program and using it as a guide will help me in accomplishing this next task in the new program.

That is where I currently stand with my Genealogy Clean Up My Act Year -- Act 1, Scene 2. So what do I see ahead for Cleaning Up My Act Year?


Though I do not have a full agenda/task list, I can see that once the new database file is cleaned up and ready for use then the next "Act" will be cleaning up and organizing the genealogy files on the computer. The basic structure of my file naming and organization is already present and the majority of the files conform to my naming method. But it is those errant files from researching binge sessions that will need to go into the correct Add-to folder for each branch. I have Add-to folders so I do not mix my files already attached in my genealogy program files with those that have not been. This is one way I know what I need to do yet for this not so fun side of genealogy. (I'll likely explain my filing naming/organization method later.)

From there I will need to merge the slivers of my tree already in separate files of the modern genealogy program into my new main database file. I want to do this last so I can better manage any duplicate sources between the database files.

Once I have my digital base/foundation reconstructed then I can better get down to researching and cleaning up that process, Act 3 perhaps? Or should scanning or other matters be Act 3? I will keep an eye on the Genealogy Do-Over tasks/agenda for ideas I may want to incorporate once I am to the point of being able to incorporate them. I felt I could not call this my Genealogy Do-Over because by the time I am done cleaning up the Do-Over will be done.

Now that said, I am not saying that I will not be doing any research while working on Act 1. I do have to keep up with all those new database collections being released.


©2015, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.