Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Iowa Genealogical Society’ Category

More stuff! Overhead projector transparencies! A while back I looked at one section of my office library shelves and realized that two entire 45-inch shelves were filled with 3-ring binders of old presentation materials. These are from the years when I enjoyed giving genealogy presentations to various local groups. I spent hours and hours researching and preparing for these public speaking events.

Specifically, the notebooks on my shelves dated 1999 through 2004. The binders were full of my notes, reference materials, handouts, publicity flyers, and the transparencies. I remember how I carefully stored them in sheet protectors and discretely numbered each one in case I ever dropped the pile and had to put them back in order! I wonder how much money I spent on boxes of blank transparencies and sheet protectors? To each event I generally transported a screen and a very nice, but large and cumbersome overhead projector purchased at an Iowa Genealogical Society garage sale (when I began using PowerPoint, I donated the projector back to IGS–they probably didn’t want it any more than I did).

My strategy with the overflowing binders on my shelves:

1) since I no longer enjoy preparing and giving presentations, and
2) since some of the material is out-of-date,

I decided to scan and toss! The likelihood that I will give any more presentations is very small, but, just in case, I will not have to start from scratch should I want to reference any of this material.

As I went through the binders I was quite surprised to discover some valuable information that I can use for reference in my upcoming writing projects; thus, it was worth the time to review my research from more than a decade ago! And, by scanning it, I can reference what I need without having the notebooks cluttering my office.

I admit it: I saved some paper materials from four of my favorite presentations, but the transparencies have gone to the landfill to deteriorate over the next million years. Too bad we haven’t always been as aware of the permanency of these materials as we are today.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

More “stuff!” This time it was the stack of notes and syllabus materials from all of the conferences I have attended. As most of the material went into our recycle bin, I made a spreadsheet of the conferences, dates, topics, and primary speakers. Interesting! I have attended conferences regularly since 1999: most Iowa Genealogical Society (IGS) fall conferences, IGS spring conferences, five national conferences, some regional conferences and two national institutes. In all, the list includes 35 educational events in 17 years.

Not only did I learn from the speakers, I developed many contacts through networking with other attendees. I always paid for the expensive conference meals so I could sit at tables with other serious genealogists and ask my questions. When vendors lugged books to the conferences, I overspent my budget to purchase abundantly! Once home, I studied many of them cover to cover. I also purchased tapes from the national conferences and have listened to many over and over.

My parents always encouraged me to “take advantage of opportunities!” Today I am a much better genealogist for having attended, listened, talked, and studied.

Read Full Post »

Continuing in the quest to find hidden genealogical resources:

Buena Vista County Genealogical Society
221 West Railroad
Storm Lake, Iowa 50588

712-732-7111
Open Thursday 2-4 p.m. and by appointment
http://www.stormlake-ia.com/bvchs/resources.htm

Energy! We met with Kristen Watts; she is young and energetic! Kristen recently became librarian after my long-time friend, Janice Danielson, needed to downsize and move out-of-state. Janice had been librarian for years, perhaps twenty years or more. She knew this library backwards and forwards, but we were impressed with Kristen’s knowledge, skills, and ideas.

Located in an old building that is part of the historical society, this library is stuffed to the gills. Two collections are especially large: original probate files and original newspapers.

The probate files occupy many filing cabinets and have been indexed (publication available for purchase from the society).

The Storm Lake newspapers have been digitized by Advantage Preservation and are available on the Storm Lake Public Library website: http://stormlake.advantage-preservation.com/. The Alta Advertiser newspapers have not been digitized, however, the society has created a finding-aid index of births, marriages, deaths, and major events. The library also has copies of the Aurelia Sentinel newspaper published in neighboring Cherokee County.

Kristin explained that sometimes the volunteers feel a little like orphans, accepting whatever someone else doesn’t want. However, this has given them an “edge;” they have a unique collection.

The society’s cemetery survey publications were created in 1988-1990 and desperately need to be updated. Kristen said work is progressing. She is scanning the current publications and converting the PDF files to WORD documents using a free version of ABBYY finereader 6.0 Sprint. Then she is walking the cemeteries and adding the new information to the document. Sometimes the conversion process isn’t perfect, so she has a little cleanup to do, but it is so much faster and easier than retyping everything.

She also had another technology tidbit: she purchased Dragon Naturally Speaking 9.0 to index newspapers. (This is a voice recognition software that automatically converts the words of a speaker to text. It is my understanding that the user “trains” the software for the specific voice.) I asked her if she has any problems with this and she said some words are a problem, but overall it works great for her. Wow!

Other categories of holdings include (my husband estimates up to 12-14 liner feet for many of these categories):

    *School yearbooks
    *Buena Vista County histories
    *Other Iowa County books
    *Town histories
    *Church histories
    *Civil War and other military information
    *Local society records
    *Phone directories
    *Information for other states

The collection is significant.

When Kristen showed me the obituary collection I was surprised. Each obituary is placed in an envelope and the envelope is labeled with the deceased’s name, birth & death date and the source information: name and date of the newspaper. This was the first time I’ve seen the “envelope” system; I can see some advantages.

This library has moved above and beyond with equipment for library patrons to use: a laptop with printer and a hand scanner as well as the more common copy machine, fiche reader, and microfilm reader.

It was a pleasure to meet Kristen and to pick up several innovative, forward-thinking ideas! While we didn’t see other volunteers during our visit, it was obvious other dedicated people are helping in this endeavor.

Motto derived from the society’s award-winning Fourth of July parade float one year: Got ancestors, we’ve got answers!

Read Full Post »

Another installment in the series to find hidden genealogical treasures buried in Iowa repositories:

Appanoose County Historical and Coal Mining Museum
100 West Maple
Centerville, Iowa 52544

641-856-8040

http://www.appanoosehistory.com

An interesting article about coal mining in the Spring 2013 issue of Hawkeye Heritage (IGS publication)(1) convinced me that we needed to visit this museum.

The museum, housed in a stately old post office building, includes a scale model coal mining operation as well as other coal mining items. The museum also features a Mormon Trail exhibit, and many exhibits relevant to pioneers living in early southern Iowa.

The hidden gem here, however, was in the library: what appears to be a complete set of the Report of the State Mine Inspectors from the early 1880s through 1968. These reports contain a gold mine of information for anyone researching the mining industry in Iowa. Kinds of information that may be included:

    * List of fatal accidents with coroner and juror reports describing accident, manner of death & name of mine, date, name of victim, age, and often marital status
    * List of non-fatal accidents with less information
    * Improvements made to specific mines
    * Names of all mines and locations
    * Descriptions of each county, the mines, railroad facilities for shipping, thickness of mineral deposits, and production quantity
    * Descriptions of each mine in each county
    * Lists of abandoned mines
    * Summary of work completed
    * New mines opened
    * Mines destroyed by fire
    * Strikes
    * Scale testing
    * Complaints

I was elated to find such a complete set of the reports. I have seen miscellaneous volumes as I’ve wondered around, but never this many! (Note: I have also found a few volumes online via Google.) Researchers with Iowa mining ancestors (not just coal, but all minerals) would be remiss to miss this repository.

Reference:
(1) Nollen, Carl, “Iowa’s Coal Mining Museums and Their Resources For the Family Historian,” Hawkeye Heritage, Vol. 47, Issue 1 (Spring 2013), Des Moines: Iowa Genealogical Society, p 15-18. To access this article, go to http://www.iowagenealogy.org ->Library, ->Collections, ->Publications.

Read Full Post »

Continuing the series to find hidden genealogy resources in Iowa:

Jamaica Public Library
316 Main Street, PO Box 104
Jamaica, Iowa 50128
Phone: 641-429-3362

Email: jampublib@netins.net
Hours: Monday thru Thursday, 1:00 to 6:00 p.m.

No website, but an Internet search for Guthrie County Iowa Genealogical Society will find the Guthrie County Historical Village. The Home page gives the Jamaica Public Library and a synopsis of the genealogy collection.

I had heard about this library from a couple of my friends at the Iowa Genealogical Society. By now, I get tips from friends about places I should visit… I love that!

SETTING: Jamaica, small town, population 200, in the far northeast corner of Guthrie County. The exterior of the building is deceptive. At one time one part of the building was the fire station and the other part was a grocery store. Interior walls between the two adjacent main street buildings have been removed to create nearly 1600 square feet of nice library space.

BACK STORY: Many years ago several people attended a beginning genealogy class. As the group discussed the possibility of creating a library, one of the members, the librarian of the Jamaica Public Library, offered her library to house the collection. Thus, the current collection was born.

TODAY: The director was helpful to show us the collection, however, he is a librarian, not a genealogist. So… we dug into the collection.

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION: approx. 141 linear feet of family histories (100+), county and town histories, veterans’ records, obituary notebooks, exchange newsletters from other Iowa societies as well as from other states, genealogy reference books, plus another 12 linear feet of Iowa reference books; plus 14 drawers of 3×5 vital record cards; plus 7 drawers of 3×5 index cards of obituary index; plus 3 more boxes of death records, plus 2 drawers of card catalog entries; plus 2 4-drawer files with century farms, pioneer projects, funeral sermons, and family files; plus 4 boxes of funeral programs/cards; plus 5 drawers of newspaper and census microfilm. I was pleased to see several resources for Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, as well as surrounding Iowa counties. This collection is amazing!

And, did I forget to mention… the librarian thought they had original Wills tucked away upstairs? Eventually, during our 2-hour visit, he took us upstairs to look at something else. Then, we saw the “Wills.” These are actually the original probate packets still in their original drawers! Of course, these have been microfilmed; that is why the county offices could dispose of them, but it is always more exciting to touch the real thing.

I was thrilled to find one thing in particular… A few months ago I was trying to find a specific society newsletter; I had looked and looked, asked and asked as many people as I could think of. Mystery solved! I found it here!

Read Full Post »

Over the past few weeks, besides organizing my library, I’ve been sorting through more boxes. In fact, I have emptied twenty boxes!

What did I find? What did I do with all of it?

Well… One box was filled with Jack and Jill magazines from the 1950s. I looked through some of the issues, then I checked the Internet and found that the magazine is still published and that old issues have very little value. In addition, the issues in my collection were filthy! They felt so grungy that I hated to touch them. I remember they were stored in my parents’ attic for years. Then, when they moved from the farm into town, Mom gave the magazines to me and I have had them in various storage places for more than 25 years. They went into our recycle bin.

Another couple boxes had my old workbooks from elementary school. They were just as dirty and yucky to touch as the magazines. Into the recycle bin they went.

The scrapbooks that I made in elementary school were in the similar condition. Nothing creative here, just mimeographed seasonal designs on construction paper that we cut out, perhaps colored or added some paper fasteners to in order to make moving arms/legs, or paper doilies for a lace effect. Our creations were displayed around the classroom for a week, then we pasted into the scrapbook. Recycle bin.

I had to make decisions, and I just could not keep something that no one would want to touch.

Some boxes included papers from a charter member of our local genealogy society; her daughter gave the items to me after her mother passed away. Where possible I incorporated these items into my collection. I was able to give a few things to the Iowa Genealogical Society. But, still other papers went into the recycle bin. I knew the daughter had given as much as possible to the local historical society before she gave things to me. Some genealogy reference items dating from the 1970s and 1980s were simply out-of-date. I also found a box of items from my great aunt, also a charter member. Those items were treated much the same as those from the other charter member.

The sorting, however, also had some bright sides. I found some family genealogy papers. Many of these papers were in good shape and I was able to file them. My work earlier this fall, to create hanging files, paid off! Now, I could just file papers where appropriate!

As I work through this sorting process, I’m finding it easier to sort through printed material and other papers than to sort through artifacts or photographs.

While twenty paper/file boxes might seem like a lot; this was just a drop-in-the-bucket. Remember, I’ve said before, this project is huge… overwhelming. I’ve been tackling it one piece at a time. I’m definitely making progress, wonder what I’ll work on next…

Read Full Post »

Am I going paperless? Well, not totally… but I’m giving it a try in a couple areas!

Recently, I agreed to two volunteer positions: a 3-year term as Elder on our church board and a 2-year term as Secretary for the Iowa Genealogical Society board.

Also recently, I acquired a slightly used Microsoft Surface Pro tablet, which will transport easily to my many upcoming meetings. (By the way, so far I LOVE this tablet!)

Since I’ve read positive comments about Evernote, a note-taking and organizing software, I’m going to try Evernote as a way to take notes and organize the agenda, notes, minutes and other items from these meetings. I’m impressed with the ability to sync the Evernote files on my tablet with my desktop at home without having to use flash drives.

SO…………… I’m going to see how it goes! With all of our attempts to organize and reduce the paper we already have in our house, I absolutely must reduce the amount of paper coming into our house. Paperless, as far as I can possibly take it in these two endeavors! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Read Full Post »