Archive for February, 2010

Artist at Work: Kevin Menzie creates our “How Genlighten Works” illustration

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

I came across this video on Kevin Menzie‘s blog today. Kevin runs Slice of Lime, a design, web development and strategy firm in Boulder, Colorado. SoL’s done a huge portion of the front-end design work for Genlighten. As you may recall from previous posts, they created our logo, this blog, and the basic design palette of Genlighten itself. (I’ll take credit/blame for the navigation, architecture, and feature set.)

The video shows part of the design process for one panel of the “How Genlighten Works” illustration on our homepage. It’s accompanied by some very pleasant background music which Kevin also composed. Enjoy!

Creating a monitor icon from Kevin Menzie on Vimeo.

Surname Saturday: Guilford

Saturday, February 27th, 2010


Here’s what Dean’s been able to learn so far about his GUILFORD ancestors.

1. Dean Richardson

2. Roberta Matthews Knapp

3. Kenneth Guilford Knapp, born 07 January 1906 in Worcester, Worcester, MA; died 8 Sep 1974 in Bradenton, Manatee, FL.

4. Rosamund Guilford, born Jun 1874 in Williamsburg, Hampshire, MA; died 1942 in Westfield, Union, NJ.

5. Andrew Guilford, born 1839 in Conway, Franklin, MA; died 14 Sep 1876 in Williamsburg, Hampshire, MA.

6. Ebenezer Morris Guilford, born 24 Dec 1813 in Williamsburg, Hampshire, MA

New FamilySearch and several Ancestry Member Trees also point to Ebenezer Morris being the son of Ebenezer Guilford and Mary or Polly Packard. We haven’t been able to document that connection to our satisfaction yet.

The image at the top of this post is from the 1860 US Federal Census for Williamsburg, Hampshire, MA and shows a “Morrison Guilford” married to Sally and living next to their sons Lewis and Andrew.

If anyone researching the Guilfords of Massachusetts comes across this and has information to share, We’d be very grateful to hear from you. Thanks!

Follow Friday: Jean Hibben’s Circlemending blog

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

jean_wilcox_hibbenI first met Jean at the St. George Family History Expo last year. She and her husband Butch had an exhibit booth near mine, and Butch played tunes on his saw occasionally throughout the day in the exhibit hall. That got my attention and I was soon able to visit their booth and get to know them. We met again at the Colorado FHE a few months later. I found we had several things in common: in particular, she grew up in Wilmette Illinois where we now live! That led to Jean and Butch giving one of their marvelous musical/historical programs to members of our Stake in Chicago not long afterwards.

Jean’s blog  — Circlemending — combines the two main passions that my wife and I share: genealogy and music, particularly folk music. Jean frequently melds the two topics together marvelously in her posts. An example: she writes about the banjo that belonged to her great grandmother, which she had restored and now plays in her presentations.

Jean shares photographs, artifacts, dates, and places from her own family history (mostly via popular geneablogging memes like Tombstone Tuesday and Wordless Wednesday.) But you can tell she’s most in her element as a writer when she leans back and tells her ancestors’ stories. No doubt her Ph.D. in folklore has something to do with that.

If you’re looking for a pleasant, relaxing geneablog experience with a warm and entertaining storyteller who’s also a board-certified genealogist, you can’t do much better than Jean’s Circlemending blog. Give it a try!

Another vote for “On-Demand Digitization of Historical Documents”

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Like so many other historical archives, the National Archives of Australia is facing a budget shortfall. Their solution? They’re closing smaller regional offices and relying more on an existing service that lets patron request records via the web:

According to the Director-General of the Australian Archives, Ross Gibbs, the proposed closures were consistent with a growing reality that very few people walk into the NAA offices to peek into the collection.

The overwhelming majority make contact from their desk, ask the archivists to find what they need and send it to them.

This negates the need for regional offices. It is possible to store the documents in a central location and send them wherever they are needed. Last year more than two million people logged onto the NAA website and many requested documents that were scanned and emailed to them.

Welcome to the digital age.

Indeed. Here at Genlighten, we kind of like the idea of having people log on to a website and request documents that are scanned and uploaded to their accounts on that site.

Quote from the article “Priceless: National Archives in the digital age” from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website. Via EOGN.

Wordless Wednesday: Big Wheel

Thursday, February 25th, 2010


Tombstone Tuesday: Walter F. Knapp and Rosamond F. Guilford

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010


Walter Ferdinand Knapp was born on 16 October 1872 in Easton, Aroostook County, Maine. He was the son of Hiram Loring Preston Knapp and Mary E. Gilbert.

Walter married Rosamond Fannie Guilford on 24 April 1897 in Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

Rosamond was born in June of 1874 in Williamsburg, Hampshire County, Massachusetts to Andrew Guilford and Harriet Amanda Fisk(e).

Walter died of typhoid fever on 4 December 1906 in Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Rosamond died in 1942 in Westfield, Union County, New Jersey. They are both buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Florence, Hampshire County, Massachusetts.

The image shown here was added to Find A Grave by P.K. Magruder on 21 January 2010. It is listed there under Memorial #46943655.

Nine Questions with Kathy Zavada

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

will_county_mapOn most Mondays, I publish brief e-mail interviews with some of our lookup providers. This week Kathy Zavada was nice enough to respond to my interview invitation.

From Kathy Zavada‘s Profile

Kathy specializes in Will County, Illinois research, especially for Irish ancestry. She has experience with probate records, estate and guardianship extracts, cemetery transcriptions, newspaper article lookups and more.

Nine Questions with Kathy

1)    How did you get started doing genealogy lookups/research?

Always interested since high school. I am adopted. Once I had children, I started looking for natural parents for health records. Made a promise to myself to help others if I was able to find info which I did.

2)    Do you have a genealogy “superpower”? If so, what is it?

Civil records of all sorts because I worked as a bureaucrat for many years. Able to assimilate records out of order, put them together in order due to mnemonic memory. My daughter says I have an unofficial degree in paper pushing.

3)      Describe a tricky research problem you’re particularly proud of having solved?

Locating my natural birth record. Adopted in one county, natural birth record in another. Got court record of adoption
in one county, then able to locate natural birth record in another.

4)    What are the ideal elements you like to see in a well-formulated lookup request?

Specific location I work in, names, and general time frame.

5)    What’s the most interesting record source or repository you’ve utilized in your area?

Will County probate/estate and guardianship records since they begin in 1838 and predate birth & death records by at least 40 years. Records contain listings of heirs, exact dates of death, listing of household items, and other interesting items found nowhere else.

6)    What technical tools do you use to produce the digital images you provide to clients?

Digital camera and Microsoft Picture It!

7)    Any new lookups you’re considering offering?

None currently

8)    What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started as a lookup provider?

Start out small, don’t bite of more than you can :)

9)    What other passions do you pursue when you’re not at the archives doing lookups/research?

Granddaughters, knitting, science fiction movies, and history

Lookups Kathy Offers

“Just in Time” Genealogy Document Digitization

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

In a fun blog post entitled “The Genealogy Instant Answer Line“, Arlene Eakle educates her impatient (and by implication, naive) clients on just how long it’s going to take to pole vault them over their brick walls:

Please do not expect to have your 20-year problem resolved, with documentation, with full analysis, with pertinent comments and follow-up in supporting sources, in 20 days.  Not happenin’–with your ancestry nor anybody else’s.  When you engage me to solve your hardest-to-find ancestor and link him to an unknown family unit, allow sufficient time for me to do it.

I love this kind of candor. Arlene’s obviously a truly professional genealogist who’s going to be completely straight with you. And she’s clearly right. You probably wouldn’t have come to her for help unless yours was the kind of problem that needed her unique divergent thinking skills and research expertise, applied over months, not days.

But what if the “Instant Answer” was available from a single offline document?

Would it be realistic to expect to have that document retrieved on the same day you decided you wanted it? What about if you wanted it in an hour? A few minutes?

“Just In Time” On-Demand Genealogy Document Digitization

Consider the following (admittedly contrived) scenario. You’re browsing the Family History Library catalog online  at about 9 pm Central time on a Thursday evening. You notice there’s an FHL film (say 1671673) that has a pretty good chance of holding the marriage record for your great-great-grandparents. It hasn’t yet been digitized and indexed on the FamilySearch Record Pilot, unfortunately. You could go to your local FHC tomorrow and order it for $5.50. It’d probably arrive in 2-3 weeks.

genealogy_pagerBut what if you wanted to know RIGHT NOW if film 1671673 contains that marriage record, or if you should try a different research avenue instead, all without interrupting your genealogy flow? What if you could log onto a website, enter that film number, and immediately see a list of people who were at the FHL right this minute and who could go pull the film for you? What if the researcher you selected could then browse through the film on a reader, locate the marriage record you’re after, scan it directly to a digital image, and upload that image to the website for you to view and download, all within about 15 minutes of receiving your request?

We have the technology…

As it turns out, this scenario is completely plausible. In fact, here at Genlighten we’ve already begun building the infrastructure to make it real. It will probably end up relying on web-enabled smartphones and make use of Twitter’s APIs. Clients who want this kind of near-real-time response will need to pay a premium for it. But the cost of this service will still be comparable to that of requesting the film.

So… are you interested?

Can you think of a situation where you might use this? How much would an “Instant Genealogy Answer” be worth to you?

Surname Saturday: Trafford

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

benjamin_l_trafford_ny_times_24december1883Here’s what I think I’ve learned so far about my TRAFFORD ancestors.

1. Dean Richardson

2. Roberta Matthews Knapp

3. Roberta Trafford Matthews born 05 July 1907 in Leonia, Bergen, NJ; died 19 September 1987 in Emmaus, Lehigh, PA

4. Sarah Caroline Trafford born 21 April 1868 in Manhattan, NY; died 27 March 1933 in Springfield, Hampton, MA

5. Benjamin Trafford born 5 August 1835 in NY; died 23 December 1883 in Little Silver, Monmouth, NJ

6. Abraham Trafford born 31 December 1804 in NJ; died 27 August 1871 in NJ

7. Samuel Trafford born 1750 in Shrewbury, Monmouth, NJ; died 22 June 1806 in Shrewsbury, Monmouth, NJ

8. Samuel Trafford born 1725 in Monmouth county, NJ

Some of the later data we have is from Historical and genealogical miscellany: data relating to the settlement and settlers of New York and New Jersey, Volume 4 by John Edwin Stillwell.

The Benjamin Trafford obituary shown here was published in the New York Times on 24 December 1883. It’s the first genealogy document I encountered relating to my ancestors. My wife found it on microfilm at the BYU Genealogy Library shortly after our marriage. It’s fair to say that my interest in genealogy and family history dates back to that experience.

I’m particularly fond of this sentence from the obituary:

He amassed a fortune, but through his generous habits and high living, coupled with disastrous speculation, he lost his property and had recourse to journalism as a means of gaining a livelihood.

We were later blessed to gain access to a marvelous collection of correspondence between Benjamin and his wife Cecelia during Benjamin’s various Civil War enlistment periods. My mother has in her possession a trunk that Benjamin supposedly carried with him during the war.

Family lore indicates that the Trafford name was originally de Trafford on the other side of the Atlantic. I’ve yet to uncover any evidence documenting this speculation, though it certainly seems plausible and I haven’t tried particularly hard.

I’d love to hear from any one with Traffords among their ancestors who could help me make the de Trafford connection. I’d also be interested in receiving help locating the “work on military tactics” mentioned in the obituary that Benjamin is supposed to have authored.

Follow Friday: Taneya’s Genealogy Blog

Friday, February 19th, 2010

taneya_facemangaIt’s high time I offered my Follow Friday endorsement of Taneya’s Genealogy Blog. Taneya Koonce is an absolute dynamo when it comes to online genealogy content. She maintains six separate blogs covering newspaper research and specific county resources for numerous localities in North Carolina. She runs her own TNG-powered personal genealogy site. She’s the webmaster for seven different USGenWeb sites, including the main one for North Carolina. All of these sites display a professionalism in content, design, and functionality that is sorely lacking in many Geocities-era pages out there on the web.

Her main blog covers pretty much every topic you’d expect from a top-tier member of the geneablogging community: her own surnames and favorite research localities; reviews of books, genealogy gadgets and web resources; geneablogging memes like Tombstone Tuesday and loads of personal research stories. Her stellar NCGebWeb work gets frequent mention too.

In a recent post, she riffed on Amy Coffin’s “52 Weeks to Better Genealogy“ challenge and talked about how she’d reached out to the WorldCat folks and even snagged a guest blogging stint as a result.

Of course, I’m a little biased, since Taneya is one of our providers and offers genealogy lookups for Tennessee. But if you don’t already have Taneya’s Genealogy Blog bookmarked or subscribed in your feed reader, I heartily recommend that you do.