Follow Friday – 1940 U.S. Census-Looking for Grandmother Seaver

As I said yesterday, I am interrupting my series on making a research plan for Little Eddy (Edward Dwyer) in the Civil War to search the 1940 Census.  Ancestry.com recently made new states available, including Missouri.  Some of my great-grandparents have been eluding me and I have been impatiently waiting for Missouri to be searchable in hopes of finding them.  After spending much of the day looking for various relatives, I was glad to read a post by Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings about his search for his grandmother.

When the 1940 Census images were made available in early April, I easily found both sets of grandparents.  Of my great-grandparents, five died before the 1940 Census.   Of the three remaining, there were two great-grandmothers, Martha Gahr and Emily Cowan, and one great-grandfather, John A French (he had remarried when his children were young so I count his wife as a great-grandmother, too, even if not by blood).  I found Martha Gahr in April by browsing the images; she was in the county where she was supposed to be.  The others I could not find.

With the indexes, John A French and his wife Vernie were easy to find.  They were in Kansas City, Missouri, but not where I had thought.  All of their information was correct, including John’s birth in Indian Territory and his attending one year of college (at Drury, in Springfield).  Vernie had attended two years of college, which I did not know.  I’ll have to ask my mother about this.

Emily Cowan was not in the small town in Missouri that I had supposed when I first looked at the images.  My mother then told me that Emily had moved to Saint Louis to live with her younger son Claude (my mother’s uncle).  I could not find Claude without an index, but with the index he and his family came right up.  But Emily is not there!   As Randy did in his search for his grandmother, I tried all of my census tricks.  She is not to be found.  Perhaps she is one of the names mangled by the enumerator and/or indexer.  I expect FamilySearch to have the Missouri index available soon so hopefully I will be able to search there before long.

Otherwise, I guess Emily will be like Randy’s grandmother, “…one of the 3% that were missed in the 1940 U.S. census.”  Perhaps she was visiting a sister.  I will have to look and see if she turned up with any of them.  For the past several hours (Thursday evening) Ancestry searches have not been connecting very well — lots of spinning.  Maybe everyone was happy with the states that were added and has been searching like crazy.  I hope that tomorrow will be a better day!

Ancestry.com: Problem Loading Page

Follow Friday – Follow-up on the Research Plan webinar, by Marian Pierre-Louis

This week’s Legacy Family Tree Webinar was “Plan Your Way to Research Success” by Marian Pierre Louis.   As usual, the topic was terrific, the host Geoff Rasmussen was great, the price was right (free!) — and the hour and a half with Marian flew by as she gave tips, examples, motivation and more on using research plans to make our genealogical searches more effective and more efficient.  Marian presented a wonderful webinar and I highly recommend it.

On Thursday Marian wrote about it in her blog Marian’s Roots and Rambles: Follow-up on the Research Plan webinar.  She includes a link to the archived webinar, which will be free for about ten days.  There are also links to purchase the CD or a bundle, and a coupon code for a discount good through Monday, July 23.

Here are some of the important points that I took away from the webinar:

  • Search only one person or one family unit (not extended)
  • Keep the focus narrow
  • Keep the focus more narrow the less you know (e.g., for a brick wall ancestor)
  • Writing your research plan necessitates writing what you do know
  • This will lead to what you don’t know
  • Go to FamilySearch wiki or something similar to find what records exist during the applicable time period and location
  • Create a plan to find the information, using research plan forms

Marian’s webinar gives examples of the forms she creates for some of her own research plans.  She uses Microsoft Word for these forms.  I would probably use a spreadsheet.  Marian stressed the importance of using whatever helps you — you need to make it work for the way you organize and think.  Don’t get hung up on the way other people make their research plans. The important thing is to take control of the research process and use forms to help identify what you know & what you don’t know to lead to what you WANT to know.

This webinar is what I needed to think through the use of a research plan.  It will help me focus on creating smaller research projects.  Another important thing that it reinforced is my need to write what I have found, including conclusions, reasons, next steps, stumbling blocks, and why I am perplexed about something.  Then when I come back to that family and that individual, it will be easy for me to remember what I learned and what else I need to search for.

I hope that you will check out Marian’s blog and her webinar.  She has lots of practical advice that you can use in your research.  Here is an example of what you will find.

Thank you, Marian, for a great webinar!

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You may also want to take a look at the list of Legacy’s upcoming webinars.  There are some great ones coming up in the next few weeks that I don’t want to miss.

Follow Friday – Historypin blogpost on My Blog..My Life. My Ancestry

On My Blog..My Life. My Ancestry, kellyvial wrote a great piece on a website I had heard of but not really explored:  historypin.  See Thrifty Thursday ~ Historypin

She does a great job of explaining some of the websites features, so I’ll just say that I’m looking forward to exploring the site.  It looks like that will take some time!  And it is a free site, which is what I am always looking for in my journey of “Genealogy in the Recession.”

When I looked at Collections, the first Featured Collection was of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire by San Francisco MTA Archives.  This was of special interest to me because one of my gg grand aunts, Euphemia Narcissa Johnson Russell Copeland, died that day, Wednesday, 18 Apr 1906.  The headline read:  “DIED OF FRIGHT, Earthquake This Morning Ended the Earthly Career of Mrs. E. N. Copeland”

Aunt Fee was in Watsonville, about 90 miles from San Francisco.  Seeing those photos on HistoryPin really adds to what I thought I knew about that day.  No wonder she died of fright!

Take a look at My Blog..My Life. My Ancestry, especially the post on HistoryPin.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Follow Friday – FamilySearch Indexing “5 Million Record” Day

I received an e-mail from FamilySearch.org entitled “Leave a Legacy: July 2nd Could Be the Day“:

Will July 2, 2012, Be Our First “5 Million Record” Day?

July 2, 2012, is going to be an amazing day! We can feel it! It could be the first day that we achieve “5 Million Name” fame. That’s right. July 2nd might be the day that we index and arbitrate 5 million names (or records) in just 24 hours! No other name transcription project that we know of has ever come close.

Together, we’ve achieved unbelievable success in the past three months. Our highest day for indexing & arbitrating combined—for the last three months and in the history of indexing—was April 30th. On that day, we reached 4.9 million records submitted. Amazing! We nearly made 5 million with just our everyday effort!

To make sure we reach the goal of 5 million records, we’ll need help from every indexer and arbitrator out there. Everyone will need to submit an extra batch or two (or more!) during the day. Remember, though, that our “day” starts at 00:00 Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT), which means 6pm MDT (Utah time), on Sunday, July 1st. Check the Facebook event page for your local start time.

Now, don’t think that we’re focusing completely on quantity and forgetting about quality. Next week, to prepare, we’ll provide ways to improve the quality of your work and suggestions for how to get ready for the big day.

Spread the word! Tell your friends and family about the opportunity to be a part of this history-making event. We may not have another chance like this for years, so plan now to get involved. We need you and everyone else out there to reach this goal!

Look for more details next week. For now, let’s keep on indexing (and arbitrating)! ——————————————————————————-
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I have done quite a bit of indexing of the 1940 Census, recently helping to complete Missouri and get it to the searchable stage.  I like indexing the census, for the most part.  Of course, it can be frustrating, with terrible handwriting, enumerators who refused to follow the rules and images that strain the eyes.

For the most part, though, it is an enjoyable way to spend some time.  Knowing how valuable it is to the genealogy community is a motivator.  Knowing that others in that community are also working hard to complete these states–all of them volunteers–is also a great motivator.

What I like the most about indexing the census is the ability to daydream about the people on the pages.  It is different from looking at the census for my own families, where I am looking for clues and trying to fit the information into a cohesive picture of their lives.

With the census for other people’s families, I’m free to wonder—and to speculate.  Finding someone whose residence in 1935 was in California, for instance, but now he is back in Missouri with his family.  What happened to him?  Is he happy to be home?  Is his family happy to have him back?

And what about the family where three sons are home, all divorced, one with children?  What were the last few years like for that family?

Then there are the names, I love the names.  My favorite so far were twins, Hazel and Basil.  My husband said that with Basil he never knew whether to pronounce the name with a long or short “a.”  Well, with twin sister Hazel, I guess everyone would always know it was a long “a”!

When indexing, I don’t take the time to look at the other columns that aren’t included in the assignment.  They would undoubtedly provide even more grounds for speculation.  Looking at the number of weeks worked in 1939 might provide some insight, especially into those moves, where someone was living somewhere else in 1935…or maybe not.  That is the fun when you just speculate and don’t have to support any conclusions.

Of course, that’s not the way we genealogists are wired.  We want to do the research, search for the clues, and the data, that will provide us with the whole story.  Or as close to it as we can get with an imperfect set of “facts.”

So, this bit of more concentrated time that I have spent with other people’s families in the 1940 census has been great for letting me think about what their lives might have been like.  But it has also been a great tool for getting me excited to go back to my own family and put their information in order and write up some of their real stories.

Familysearch has declared July 2 “5 Million Record Day.”  Their goal is to index and arbitrate 5 million names in 24 hours.  That means that everyone needs to put in a little extra time.  I’m going to be there, with the community of genealogists, contributing in an important way, pushing the 1940 census closer to completion.  And I’m going to be daydreaming about those other families.

Then I’ll be ready to come back and attack my family history.  I hope you’ll join in.