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Everything Librarians Need to
Know about Helping
Genealogists…
But Were Afraid to Ask!
Presented by Nicole Wedemeyer Mille...
This presentation is based on the book Fostering
Family History Services: A Guide for
Librarians, Archivists, and Voluntee...
Why are librarians afraid of genealogists?
• Their questions go on all day, if you can
even find their question.
• They ar...
Another small detail…
“I don’t know anything about genealogy!”
Overcoming the fear factor
• Get a basic overview of what genealogists
are trying to do
• Start thinking outside the colle...
Why is it popular?
• Interest in American history
• The internet
• Television shows
• Celebrity angle
• Growing number of ...
I. Defining Genealogy and Family History
Genealogy
It’s the study of the vital events in a family
that establish the family’s pedigree; or
linkages between generat...
Family history
It’s a more in-depth expression of
genealogy. It interweaves information from a
number of different fields ...
Linear vs. Cluster
Pelagia Saitta
|
Dorothy Rita McAvin
|
George A. Wedemeyer IV
|
Nicole Alaine Wedemeyer
Cluster Approach
Best Practice
• Work backwards.
• Don’t skip generations.
• Write down what you discover.
• Seek information in sources, a...
What to help them with:
• Finding information
• Understanding what they find—evaluating,
analyzing, translating, etc.
• Re...
What’s a source?
Documents
• Vital records = BMD
• Census records
• Tax lists, voting records
• City directories
• Newspaper articles
• yea...
Asking relatives
Oral history interviews—try to prove the
information.
Recording & Organization
Traditional methods = printed forms
family group sheet
Pedigree chart
Source Checklist
Research Logs
Two basic systems
binders
file folders
Digital Systems
Genealogical software programs
Online trees
Evernote.com
Old system for notes
Photo sharing & digital history sites
Much info on how to organize
• Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies
and Solutions for Every Researcher by
Drew Smith
• YouT...
Questions?
II. Thinking Outside the
Collection Box
• Patrons need to research in many, many
locations and collections.
• Patrons have some information at home.
• Patrons can...
In addition to finding info…
• They need to analyze what they have.
• They need to organize what they have.
• They need to...
Getting started strategies
Find out where they are in the research
process.
Just beginning, somewhere in the middle, or
in...
What to do with beginners
• Give/sell FGS and pedigree charts.
• Find them a basic how-to genealogy book.
• Give them a li...
What does the LDS Church have to do
with genealogy???
Click “Get Help” & “Contact us”
What to do with intermediate folks
• Show them the website which rates
genealogical software programs.
• Find them a how-to organize my research
book, website, etc.
Show them the genealogy style manual.
• Help them figure out how/where to find
research assistance in other localities.
Suggest information on evaluating and
analyzing sources.
o Look for free videos online, such as Family
Search’s “Learning ...
Veteran folks
• Archive Grid/DPLA & other new internet
bells and whistles
• Association of Professional Genealogists
• Cal...
What else can you use besides the
internet?
• History
o Encyclopedias, even old ones
o American Heritage
o 973s, but also ...
Biographical Sources
• BGMI
o Who’s Who in the…series
o Professional directories
o Specialized encyclopedias, such as thos...
Business & General Sources
• Corporate directories
• City directories
• Phone books
• Vertical files
• School yearbooks
Questions?
Take five!
III. Understanding Basic Sources
Government records and documents
o Federal
o State
o County
o Township/borough
o Municipal
Non-governmental records
• Religious institutions
• Businesses
• Social and fraternal organizations
• Educational institut...
What do they typically look for first?
• Vital records—birth, marriage, death,
divorce, and adoption
• Generated at the st...
Ancestry Red Book, 3rd ed.
Accessible full text online on free part of
Ancestry.com:
http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/wiki/i...
Always check Red Book information online.
Vital records only go back so far
• Available dates vary by state, and by
location within states
• Some didn’t begin until...
How to find available dates?
Go to familysearch.com wiki. Search under
the name of the locality. Look at summary
table.
U.S. Record Selection Table
Census Records
• Federal level
o Taken every ten years
o 1790-1940
o Available several places online including
Ancestry.co...
Sample
Census Challenges
• Gaps—some are missing, especially 1890
• Incorrect information recorded
• Problems with the indexing
•...
Obituaries/death notices
Times-Democrat, 1899 May 25, Pg. 2 col. 7
Obit challenges
• Obits from the mid-twentieth century can
be hard to find.
• Obits indexes may not exist for their
locali...
City directories
Directory challenges
• Only some are online, and some online
ones are behind a paywall.
• Missing years
• They may be owne...
Online
• Not everything is online.
• Over 90 percent is still offline.
Major categories of websites
• Subscription databases
o Ancestry
o Find my Past
o My Heritage
There are many more…
• Free websites--Institutional
o FamilySearch
o DAR
o Newberry
o Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne
• Free websites—Volunteer & User-Input
o Rootsweb
o U.S. Genweb
o Genealogy Trails
• Free websites—by individuals
o Joe Beine’s Death Records & Obit Index
Listings
o Tom Tryzinski’s Digitized newspapers
o ...
Best way to find websites?
• Cyndi’s List
What else is there?
• Federal Records
o Immigration & naturalization
o Military
o Land patents
Where are they kept?
• NARA, Washington D.C.
• And several regional NARA archives
What else?
• Religious records
• Maps & atlases
• Wills & probate records
• Archival records—letters, diaries,
pamphlets, ...
Try
• WorldCat/Archive Grid
• Digital Public Library
• Websites of universities, local public
libraries & historical socie...
Questions?
Take five!
IV. Negotiating genealogical
reference questions
• Mindset
• Facts about genealogists
• Breaking down the reference interview
• Referrals
Mindset
• “It’s exciting to watch history come alive
for researchers.”
• “Enjoy the process…”
• “Learn as well as teach.”
...
About Genealogists
• All ages, all genders, but skew towards 60
and over females.
• Most are hobbyists.
• They have a vari...
What they like
• They like a person to guide them, not
signage/written instructions.
• They like to find information by lo...
Barriers to Service
• The library is only open during the day.
• None of the genealogical/local history
materials circulat...
More barriers
• The collection is full of uncataloged
materials and Byzantine finding aids.
• The library website does not...
Reference Interview
• The greeting
o Non-verbal cues/attitude
o “Hello, what may I help you find today?”
Establishing the Contexts
• Geographical context: where they lived
• Chronological context: when they lived
• Socioeconomi...
Questions to ask…
• What was your grandfather’s full name?
• Do you know the name of the town? Was it
Belleville, or just ...
Dates can be elusive
• Try to nail down to at least a decade when
a family lived in a given location.
• If the patron does...
To fill in contexts…
• Consult online trees, census records, and
local histories to try to verify/expand facts.
• Refer pa...
Narrow the focus
Try to head in the direction of a specific
question. This can be challenging for many
reasons.
Types of patrons
• The Newbie—doesn’t know where to start
o “One Quarter Rule”
o Find genealogical classes, both online an...
• The Gusher—talks non-stop
o Fill out pedigree chart during the
monologue
o Have him fill out a reference form
• The Confused—can’t articulate his
question
o Check on this patron often
o At least stroll nearby and make eye
contact
• The Optimist—is sure that someone else
has already written up his family
o Check WorldCat, GB, Internet Archive
o Check ...
• The Disorganized—has a bunch of stuff
which he can’t make head or tail of
o Remind this patron about organization
system...
• The Wounded—is motivated to do the
research because of an emotional issue.
o Offer privacy, discretion, reassurance.
o M...
• The Monopolizer—asks constant, never-
ending questions. Will not work
independently.
o Can’t answer any more verbal ques...
Identify Sources to Meet the Goal
• FHL 1-866-406-1830
• Genealib
• Local historical/genealogical society
• Town historian...
Last step: referrals
• Never guess; make it good.
• Verify via website or phone call.
• Provide contact information.
• Sug...
Sensei
• Specific research skills like using online
catalogs, focusing a Google search, &
even locating a book on a shelf ...
Questions?
V. Programming Ideas
Importance
• It attracts attention to your genealogical
reference service.
• It is an efficient way to instruct several
pa...
“How to Grow Your Family Tree”
• A basic how-to overview
o Define genealogy & family history
o Work backwards
o Linear vs....
o Tell them about local & regional places to
research
Presented by: a staff member, or a volunteer
from the genealogical s...
The “Spotlight On” Program
• Pick a resource: reference tool, archival
collection, or online website/database
o Teach how ...
“The Story of My Life”
• A children’s program
o Create a template that kids fill in with
information about themselves and ...
“Ask Granny”
• The materials for this program are free
and will be emailed to you.
o It can be held at the library, or at ...
Ask Granny flyer
Email to request materials.
Reaching Out to Ethnic Groups
• Identify an ethnic group in your area, and
design a program to help them to do their
famil...
o Sponsor with another local group.
o Could lead to a fabulous oral history
project.
o Serve treats from ethnic restaurant...
Lagniappe
• Genealib listserv
• Dick Eastman’s blog
• Adventures in Genealogy Education blog
• Genealogy for Librarians Pr...
Questions?
Everything librarians need to know to help genealogists but were afraid to ask
Everything librarians need to know to help genealogists but were afraid to ask
Everything librarians need to know to help genealogists but were afraid to ask
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Everything librarians need to know to help genealogists but were afraid to ask

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Nicole Wedemeyer Miller, the co-author of Fostering Family History Services, presents information from her book about how even librarians without genealogy/local history collections can serve genealogists.

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Everything librarians need to know to help genealogists but were afraid to ask

  1. 1. Everything Librarians Need to Know about Helping Genealogists… But Were Afraid to Ask! Presented by Nicole Wedemeyer Miller, Adjunct Lecturer
  2. 2. This presentation is based on the book Fostering Family History Services: A Guide for Librarians, Archivists, and Volunteers, co- written with Rhonda L. Clark, and published by Libraries Unlimited.
  3. 3. Why are librarians afraid of genealogists? • Their questions go on all day, if you can even find their question. • They are attempting complex research, but often know nothing about how to research. • If you answer one question for them, then they ask 100 more. • In short, they are needy.
  4. 4. Another small detail… “I don’t know anything about genealogy!”
  5. 5. Overcoming the fear factor • Get a basic overview of what genealogists are trying to do • Start thinking outside the collection box • Learn about the basic sources they use • Understand how to negotiate the genealogical reference question • Get programming ideas
  6. 6. Why is it popular? • Interest in American history • The internet • Television shows • Celebrity angle • Growing number of retirees
  7. 7. I. Defining Genealogy and Family History
  8. 8. Genealogy It’s the study of the vital events in a family that establish the family’s pedigree; or linkages between generations. It’s the who, what, and where.
  9. 9. Family history It’s a more in-depth expression of genealogy. It interweaves information from a number of different fields into our ancestors’ life stories…It attempts to explain the how and why of our ancestors’ lives. “Joseph "Horace" Ryburn was the second oldest of five brothers and attended University High School in Bloomington, Illinois. In 1892 he purchased 170 acres for $17,000 from Mr. Stewart, with a $5000 mortgage at four percent interest. He and his wife Estella moved to this property after they were married in 1895, and always called it "The Home Place." Horace and Estella's first two children were born there, Florence in 1898 and Madeline in 1900. In about 1902 the family moved to 1213 E. Washington in Bloomington, because Horace had heart problems and so gave up farming. He bought this house for $5000 and then made improvements such as installing French doors for the parlor, and hardwood floors upstairs. The home had gas lighting, but electricity was installed later. There was a water tank in the attic that used a hand pump from the basement to operate it. In the winter, the water went through the furnace to supply hot water. In summer, hot water was heated on the stove.”
  10. 10. Linear vs. Cluster Pelagia Saitta | Dorothy Rita McAvin | George A. Wedemeyer IV | Nicole Alaine Wedemeyer
  11. 11. Cluster Approach
  12. 12. Best Practice • Work backwards. • Don’t skip generations. • Write down what you discover. • Seek information in sources, as many as possible. • Any source can be flawed—be skeptical.
  13. 13. What to help them with: • Finding information • Understanding what they find—evaluating, analyzing, translating, etc. • Recording their conclusions
  14. 14. What’s a source?
  15. 15. Documents • Vital records = BMD • Census records • Tax lists, voting records • City directories • Newspaper articles • yearbooks
  16. 16. Asking relatives Oral history interviews—try to prove the information.
  17. 17. Recording & Organization Traditional methods = printed forms family group sheet
  18. 18. Pedigree chart
  19. 19. Source Checklist
  20. 20. Research Logs
  21. 21. Two basic systems binders
  22. 22. file folders
  23. 23. Digital Systems Genealogical software programs
  24. 24. Online trees
  25. 25. Evernote.com
  26. 26. Old system for notes
  27. 27. Photo sharing & digital history sites
  28. 28. Much info on how to organize • Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher by Drew Smith • YouTube • Genealogy blogs
  29. 29. Questions?
  30. 30. II. Thinking Outside the Collection Box
  31. 31. • Patrons need to research in many, many locations and collections. • Patrons have some information at home. • Patrons can find some information online. • Most patrons need to know “How do I start?”
  32. 32. In addition to finding info… • They need to analyze what they have. • They need to organize what they have. • They need to record and share what they have.
  33. 33. Getting started strategies Find out where they are in the research process. Just beginning, somewhere in the middle, or in deep.
  34. 34. What to do with beginners • Give/sell FGS and pedigree charts. • Find them a basic how-to genealogy book. • Give them a list of genealogy links or show how to access online. • Refer to the Family History Center and other area research facilities.
  35. 35. What does the LDS Church have to do with genealogy???
  36. 36. Click “Get Help” & “Contact us”
  37. 37. What to do with intermediate folks • Show them the website which rates genealogical software programs.
  38. 38. • Find them a how-to organize my research book, website, etc.
  39. 39. Show them the genealogy style manual.
  40. 40. • Help them figure out how/where to find research assistance in other localities.
  41. 41. Suggest information on evaluating and analyzing sources. o Look for free videos online, such as Family Search’s “Learning Center.” o Look at intermediate titles in appendix. o Articles in genealogical periodicals
  42. 42. Veteran folks • Archive Grid/DPLA & other new internet bells and whistles • Association of Professional Genealogists • Call their attention to hot new genealogy titles. • Rootstech
  43. 43. What else can you use besides the internet? • History o Encyclopedias, even old ones o American Heritage o 973s, but also lurking in the travel books, 910s o Federal Writers’ Project American Guide Series
  44. 44. Biographical Sources • BGMI o Who’s Who in the…series o Professional directories o Specialized encyclopedias, such as those covering athletes, science, etc. o Full-length biographies, autobiographies, memoirs
  45. 45. Business & General Sources • Corporate directories • City directories • Phone books • Vertical files • School yearbooks
  46. 46. Questions?
  47. 47. Take five!
  48. 48. III. Understanding Basic Sources
  49. 49. Government records and documents o Federal o State o County o Township/borough o Municipal
  50. 50. Non-governmental records • Religious institutions • Businesses • Social and fraternal organizations • Educational institutions • Commercially published books and periodicals
  51. 51. What do they typically look for first? • Vital records—birth, marriage, death, divorce, and adoption • Generated at the state, county, or municipal level • Could be found amongst home sources.
  52. 52. Ancestry Red Book, 3rd ed. Accessible full text online on free part of Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/wiki/index.ph p?title=Red_Book:_American_State,_Count y,_and_Town_Sources
  53. 53. Always check Red Book information online.
  54. 54. Vital records only go back so far • Available dates vary by state, and by location within states • Some didn’t begin until the early twentieth century.
  55. 55. How to find available dates? Go to familysearch.com wiki. Search under the name of the locality. Look at summary table.
  56. 56. U.S. Record Selection Table
  57. 57. Census Records • Federal level o Taken every ten years o 1790-1940 o Available several places online including Ancestry.com, Heritage Quest, Familysearch.org, Mooseroots,etc.
  58. 58. Sample
  59. 59. Census Challenges • Gaps—some are missing, especially 1890 • Incorrect information recorded • Problems with the indexing • Illegible handwriting • U.S. Censuses before 1850 only list the name of the head of the household
  60. 60. Obituaries/death notices Times-Democrat, 1899 May 25, Pg. 2 col. 7
  61. 61. Obit challenges • Obits from the mid-twentieth century can be hard to find. • Obits indexes may not exist for their locality. • OCR technology still not good enough.
  62. 62. City directories
  63. 63. Directory challenges • Only some are online, and some online ones are behind a paywall. • Missing years • They may be owned by an institution in a far-away locality. • Directories did not cover 100% of the residents
  64. 64. Online • Not everything is online. • Over 90 percent is still offline.
  65. 65. Major categories of websites • Subscription databases o Ancestry o Find my Past o My Heritage There are many more…
  66. 66. • Free websites--Institutional o FamilySearch o DAR o Newberry o Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne
  67. 67. • Free websites—Volunteer & User-Input o Rootsweb o U.S. Genweb o Genealogy Trails
  68. 68. • Free websites—by individuals o Joe Beine’s Death Records & Obit Index Listings o Tom Tryzinski’s Digitized newspapers o Stephen Morse’s One Step Indexes
  69. 69. Best way to find websites? • Cyndi’s List
  70. 70. What else is there? • Federal Records o Immigration & naturalization o Military o Land patents
  71. 71. Where are they kept? • NARA, Washington D.C. • And several regional NARA archives
  72. 72. What else? • Religious records • Maps & atlases • Wills & probate records • Archival records—letters, diaries, pamphlets, ephemera • photographs
  73. 73. Try • WorldCat/Archive Grid • Digital Public Library • Websites of universities, local public libraries & historical societies • Telephone
  74. 74. Questions?
  75. 75. Take five!
  76. 76. IV. Negotiating genealogical reference questions
  77. 77. • Mindset • Facts about genealogists • Breaking down the reference interview • Referrals
  78. 78. Mindset • “It’s exciting to watch history come alive for researchers.” • “Enjoy the process…” • “Learn as well as teach.” • “I do not have to be an expert genealogist to provide good service.”
  79. 79. About Genealogists • All ages, all genders, but skew towards 60 and over females. • Most are hobbyists. • They have a variety of research goals. • They have a wide range of educational levels and research abilities. • They have a wide range of computer skills.
  80. 80. What they like • They like a person to guide them, not signage/written instructions. • They like to find information by looking for a name, but lots of information is arranged by geographic location or record group.
  81. 81. Barriers to Service • The library is only open during the day. • None of the genealogical/local history materials circulate. • None of the staff have any family history training. • There is no service desk in the genealogy/local history room, & no materials are provided to guide independent usage of this collection.
  82. 82. More barriers • The collection is full of uncataloged materials and Byzantine finding aids. • The library website does not mention the “g” word anywhere. • fees
  83. 83. Reference Interview • The greeting o Non-verbal cues/attitude o “Hello, what may I help you find today?”
  84. 84. Establishing the Contexts • Geographical context: where they lived • Chronological context: when they lived • Socioeconomic context: their status in the community
  85. 85. Questions to ask… • What was your grandfather’s full name? • Do you know the name of the town? Was it Belleville, or just near Belleville? • What did they do for a living? • Where did they go to church? • Do you know their ethnic background?
  86. 86. Dates can be elusive • Try to nail down to at least a decade when a family lived in a given location. • If the patron doesn’t know, maybe he can remember how old he was when a family event occurred. • Did any historical event occur when the family was there?
  87. 87. To fill in contexts… • Consult online trees, census records, and local histories to try to verify/expand facts. • Refer patron to home sources. • Tap the oral traditions.
  88. 88. Narrow the focus Try to head in the direction of a specific question. This can be challenging for many reasons.
  89. 89. Types of patrons • The Newbie—doesn’t know where to start o “One Quarter Rule” o Find genealogical classes, both online and live o Refer to local genealogical or lineage group
  90. 90. • The Gusher—talks non-stop o Fill out pedigree chart during the monologue o Have him fill out a reference form
  91. 91. • The Confused—can’t articulate his question o Check on this patron often o At least stroll nearby and make eye contact
  92. 92. • The Optimist—is sure that someone else has already written up his family o Check WorldCat, GB, Internet Archive o Check online trees o Check PERSI o Explain searching vs. research
  93. 93. • The Disorganized—has a bunch of stuff which he can’t make head or tail of o Remind this patron about organization systems, software, & research logs. o Offer information on how to analyze sources.
  94. 94. • The Wounded—is motivated to do the research because of an emotional issue. o Offer privacy, discretion, reassurance. o Make absolutely sure that referrals will be helpful. o Offer to correspond via email.
  95. 95. • The Monopolizer—asks constant, never- ending questions. Will not work independently. o Can’t answer any more verbal questions now, but you can leave another in writing. o Schedule a one-on-one session. o I can’t work with you more today, but you could come in…
  96. 96. Identify Sources to Meet the Goal • FHL 1-866-406-1830 • Genealib • Local historical/genealogical society • Town historians in NY or CT • Eastman’s Encyclopedia of Genealogy • Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness • Reddit, Stack Exchange
  97. 97. Last step: referrals • Never guess; make it good. • Verify via website or phone call. • Provide contact information. • Suggest materials to ILL.
  98. 98. Sensei • Specific research skills like using online catalogs, focusing a Google search, & even locating a book on a shelf by call number. • what a source may contain • Citing information • Locating expert assistance
  99. 99. Questions?
  100. 100. V. Programming Ideas
  101. 101. Importance • It attracts attention to your genealogical reference service. • It is an efficient way to instruct several patrons at once—uber reference. • It gets patrons in the door. • It can be low cost and low fuss.
  102. 102. “How to Grow Your Family Tree” • A basic how-to overview o Define genealogy & family history o Work backwards o Linear vs. cluster o Define a source o Discuss home sources o Recommend how-to titles and websites
  103. 103. o Tell them about local & regional places to research Presented by: a staff member, or a volunteer from the genealogical society, DAR, or FHL.
  104. 104. The “Spotlight On” Program • Pick a resource: reference tool, archival collection, or online website/database o Teach how it’s best used o Present examples o Save 10-15 minutes for questions o Keep it at about an hour
  105. 105. “The Story of My Life” • A children’s program o Create a template that kids fill in with information about themselves and their families o Use Dr. Seuss’ My Book about Me as inspiration.
  106. 106. “Ask Granny” • The materials for this program are free and will be emailed to you. o It can be held at the library, or at a senior center or nursing home. o If you encourage the participants to bring grandchildren, it’s an intergenerational event.
  107. 107. Ask Granny flyer
  108. 108. Email to request materials.
  109. 109. Reaching Out to Ethnic Groups • Identify an ethnic group in your area, and design a program to help them to do their family history. o Identify where they can find information locally, and elsewhere in the U.S., such as an ethnic genealogical society. o Recruit someone to give an overview of this group in your area—religious officiant or a college instructor.
  110. 110. o Sponsor with another local group. o Could lead to a fabulous oral history project. o Serve treats from ethnic restaurant/bakery.
  111. 111. Lagniappe • Genealib listserv • Dick Eastman’s blog • Adventures in Genealogy Education blog • Genealogy for Librarians Pre-conference
  112. 112. Questions?

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