17 December 2012

Mystery Monday: What Does It Say?

It's mystery Monday and I need help to solve this one!

I located a marriage record for Martin Michalak and Agnes Sobcak from 1885. The entry is in the records of the Janowiec Roman Catholic Parish in Poland.

The word highlighted below should be the name of the town where they are from, but I am having difficulty deciphering it. Any ideas?

04 December 2012

Tech Tuesday: Dropbox Saved My Research

This summer, I downloaded Dropbox on my computer. Since then, I have use it to store my research files. I have read many blog posts advocating for Dropbox use amongst genealogists for a variety of reasons, including back-up, portability, and sharing of files.

Occasionally, I would open one of my files from another computer or my iPhone. It is a nice feature, but not one I required. That is, until my computer fell victim to a static shock a few weeks ago. Using my husband's computer for a few days, I was able to log in and download whatever files I needed. When I replaced my computer, the first thing I did was download Dropbox. I logged in and there were all of my files. I was up and running again with no data loss thanks to Dropbox!

18 October 2012

Thankful Thursday: Expanding the Tree

Over the last few months, I have not done much genealogy work at all, yet I have been working to expand my family tree. My husband and I are expecting our first child in March!

While I have been too exhausted and sick to work on anything, I have been thinking a lot about my genealogy...especially the women in my family. I realized how little I know about what their experiences with pregnancy and raising a family were like.

As I am slowly getting my energy back and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my little one, I think this is an area I'd like to spend time exploring. I would really like to know what this was like for my female relatives when they were in Poland and how it was different when they came to the U.S.

19 August 2012

Tech Tuesday: More on Microsoft OneNote

I have been asked to provide more information from my previous post on using Microsoft OneNote for research notes. You can read my original post here. Following are some of the features I use most often.

Integration with Microsoft Outlook
If you use Outlook and have OneNote, with the click of a button you can transfer a copy of an email (with attachments) or a meeting/appointment from your calendar as a new page in OneNote. This is an excellent way to store these items with other relevant materials. The added benefit is that you can easily add your own notes to the newly created page. For example, if you have an entry on your calendar to view microfilm at the Family History Center, you can transfer that to a page in OneNote and type your research notes on that page. The more information you put in your calendar entry, the less you have to re-type in your research notes.

Page Layout
The page layouts in OneNote are more flexible than in Word. You can click anywhere on the page and start typing. This means you can create blocks of text anywhere on the page and drag and drop them to move their positioning, all without impacting the positioning of existing blocks. Creating tables in OneNote is much easier, as well - simply hit the tab button to create a new column. You can insert files, or even draw directly over what is already typed on the page.

Notebook Organization
What differentiates OneNote from other Microsoft products is the ability to organize individual pages into binders, complete with dividers. For example, I might take the calendar entry with my research notes from above and put it into a surname binder under the divider heading of the individual's name. You could do the same with client files - perhaps the binder would be named after the client and the dividers would be separate projects. Rather than a multitude of separate files, all documents can be stored in one place.

Extracting Information
Selections from OneNote can be printed or emailed. You can also copy and paste to other programs, whether it be Word, or a new email using your own email provider. If you have a research report format already in a word processing program, you can copy and paste out of OneNote into your existing document. OneNote is also fully searchable, so if your organization system is less than perfect, there is no need to waste type paging through your notebooks.

Hopefully this additional information will help you decide whether OneNote would be useful to you in your own genealogy research organization. I don't use it all the time, but have found it to be a good tool in keeping myself organized.

27 June 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Poznań Project

Researchers with ancestors from Poznań (formerly the Prussian province of Posen) may benefit from the Poznań Project. The site is a marriage indexing project using parish records from the area between 1800-1899. Volunteers have entered over 800,000 records so far.

The database is searchable by groom, bride, region, time period, and record type (Catholic, Protestant, or Civil). First names can be chosen from a list, which encompasses Latin, Polish, and German spelling for the same name. For example, one can choose "Stanislaus/Stanisław" to return entries for both variants. Regions are listed in Polish, but the site offers a table to view each in German.

My search for Martinus/Marcin Michalak and bride Agnes/Agnieszka in Żnin from 1883-1887 is shown below.

To the right of the pink line is an option to "Get Original Record." Clicking on that button takes you to a screen that shows the archive where the original record is located and the address to write for a copy. Keep in mind that responses will likely be in Polish. Most records can also be found on Family History Library microfilm, and the language used will vary.

 Lukasz Bielecki. Poznań Project. Database. http://poznan-project.psnc.pl/project.php : accessed 26 June 2012. 

14 May 2012

Mappy Monday: Kartenmeister

I recently deciphered the last residence of my second great-grandfather's second wife from her entry on a passenger arrival list as Sielec, Germany. I looked up the Sielec, Germany entry on Kartenmeister.com to determine where it was located and to find out some general information on the city.

Kartenmeister provides the spelling of the name of the city in both Polish and German (in this case, the same), as well as the German and present-day provinces. A link to Google maps shows the location and coordinates. There is also information on parishes in the area and where civil registration was held. I was able to use the parish information to order microfilmed church records. The entry even provides the population (314 people in 1905) and any local landmarks.

Besides the research value, Kartenmeister has the potential to connect you to other researchers. There is a list for each city of surnames and the email addresses of those researching them. You can be added to the list, so that if anyone else is researching the same surname in the same location, you can contact them. The surname list is also searchable for all locations.

“Information on German City of Sielec,” online database, Kartenmeister (Kartenmeister.com : accessed 12 May 2012).

09 May 2012

The Genealogy Bug and the Loyalist

I have been crazy about genealogy for quite some time now and my family takes an interest in my findings, but not the research process itself. My mother-in-law recently located her mother's Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) membership number and, lo and behold, now has the genealogy bug. I am very excited to have someone genuinely interested in genealogy research and I love being able to answer the questions she emails to me.

I have read that the father of her Revolutionary War Patriot ancestor's wife was a Loyalist. The idea that our ancestors were disagreeing on politics long before Sunday afternoon debates at my grandparents' kitchen table had never before crossed my mind, but genuinely intrigues me. I registered for a webinar I found on the Geneabloggers website called Fighting for the King! Researching Your American Revolutionary War Loyalist Ancestor, presented by Kathryn Lake Hogan of LOOKING4ANCESTORS. Hopefully I will be able to determine whether what I read is valid or not, and have something interesting to discuss with my mother-in-law.

29 March 2012

Those Places Thursday: Decker Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland

“Local tradition holds that Baltimore's Polish community began in 1868, when a small group of Polish Catholic immigrants with only sufficient funds to pay their passage to America, settled in the eastern section of the city, known as Fell's Point. These first immigrants found not only an abundance of affordable housing but also opportunities for work. There was a need for unskilled workers in port related activities, such as stevedores and carters as well as new industries as canning, slaughterhouses and fertilizer plants. Once established, these immigrants wrote those they left behind to emigrate to this land of opportunity.”1
Decker Avenue, where Martin and Frances Michalak lived in 1920 and 1930, is part of the Fell’s Point community of Baltimore. Based on the names, approximately half of the heads of household were the same between the two decades. Statistically, the age of the population was not significant different between the two decades, suggesting that those who moved onto the street by 1930 were young enough, or had enough young children in their households, to offset the aging population from 1920. This is evidenced by the Michalak family themselves. In 1920, the household consisted of Martin and Frances (ages 59 and 47), Martin’s daughter Ida and son-in-law Stephen (both aged 24), and Martin’s grandchildren (0 and 1 years old).2 By 1930, Martin’s family was no longer living with them, family tradition is that the Stephen moved his family to Delaware for better work opportunities. So, by 1930, Martin and Frances had taken in renters Edward and Mary Sas (ages 23 and 26) and their son Edward (age 2), in place of the young family.3

All of those who were not born in the United States immigrated before 1914, which aligns with the decline of the number of people not born in the United States from 1920 to 1930, of about half. There was also a significant drop in the percentage of the population that could not speak English, from 17% to only 4%.

There is a shift in the work performed by the residents of Decker Avenue from 1920 to 1930. The shipyard industry that held nearly half of the working residents fell significantly in favor of work in factories. The occupations in 1930 suggest more skilled labor, as many held specific titles, such as “machinist”, rather than the generic title of “labrorer” in 1920.

I am looking forward to comparing the population of Decker Avenue in 1940 after the census is made public in April 2012 for a broader view of how this community changed.

End Notes

1. Polish Community History. PolishCommunity.com (http://www.polishcommunity.com/PolishCommunity1/polish_community_history2.htm : accessed 26 February 2012).

2. 1920 U.S. Census, Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland, population schedule, Baltimore, pages 14-B, 15-A, 15-B, 16-A; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 February 2012); National Archives and Records Administration, T625.

3. 1930 U.S. Census, Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland, population schedule, Baltimore, pages 15-B, 16-A, 16-B; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 February 2012); National Archives and Records Administration, T626.

16 January 2012

Motivation Monday: NGS American Genealogy Course

Although my blogging has been a little sparse lately, one thing I have not been neglecting is research. I have been busy working on the National Genealogical Society's American Genealogy home-study course.

My personal research time has been spent completing the assignments. I have learned a lot, especially about resources in my local area. The course encourages using your own ancestors as the subjects of your assignments, but allows for deviations when you are required to use local resources and you are unlucky enough (like me) to live in a different area.

The title of the course is American Genealogy, but my interests are primarily with my Polish ancestors. The benefit here is that I am getting exposure to some of my neglected family lines and the later lessons involve immigration and naturalization, so eventually I will be able to focus on some of the documents left behind by my Polish families.

Some of the assignments involving families in my local area have provided me with additional motivation I did not anticipate. I realized that I have a desire to learn more about the individuals listed on a deed record or a family listed on church records who are not related to me. I suppose it is the burning curiosity that grips all genealogists--the need to know more and answer our questions about those who were here before us.

My biggest motivation right now is to earn my certificate for this course and continue to develop my skills by practicing what I learned.