Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I've moved my blogger across town to this site:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Digital State Archives site

I just stumbled across this useful site, which attempts to round up statewide digitization projects:

Maybe now I'll spend less time searching Google for these projects.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mapping Land Records Using Earthpoint

When I worked as a genealogy reference librarian, researchers often came to the desk with an old land record and wanted to know the exact location of the land their ancestor purchased. This was usually a bit of a pain, as it involved finding a map of the particular state showing the townships, ranges and sections.

But I just discovered a handy online tool from Earthpoint that makes the process much easier. It takes a land description and maps it on Google Earth.

So, for example, I found a General Land Office record from 1825 showing that James Gillespie purchased a particular piece of land in Stark County, Ohio.

Specifically, he purchased land in Section 26 of Township 17-N and Range 6-W, based on the Ohio River meridian.

I entered this information into the Township and Range search tool on Earthpoint:

Then I clicked the "Fly on to Google Earth" button. (This only works if you've installed Google Earth on your computer.) The program then creates a KLM file that opens automatically on Google Earth. It marks the location of Section 26, Township 17N and Range 6W with a purple boundry:

Going back to the original land record, I see that James Gillespie's land was the western half of the southwest corner of Section 26; so it was approximately the area I've circled here:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Privacy for Ghosts

In many places, medical records are closed in perpetuity for reasons of privacy. This means that even records that are, say, 150 or years old are closed to researchers. This makes no sense to me, and I've always thought there should be a provision in state laws that all government records will be open after a certain date. After all, what kind of harm can come from allowing historians and genealogists to look at records that are twice as old as human life expectancy?

On her blog, Paula Stuart-Warren highlights an example of heavy-handed use of privacy laws; in this case, HIPAA* being applied to the records of a Civil War soldier. (Via Midwestern Microhistory)

*HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Not to be confused with HIPA, the Hawaii Island Paddlesports Association. They bear no responsibility.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

ALA Online Genealogy Course

I'll be offering my online course, Genealogy 101 though the American Library Association starting in November 9. The course runs through December 23. For more information, visit the ALA-RUSA blog.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Upcoming Talks

Greetings from Ann Arbor!
I'm back to blogging after an extended summer break to announce a few upcoming talks.

I'll be speaking about new internet sources for genealogy at the Western Wayne County Genealogical Society in Livonia on October 19. There's more information here.

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, I'll be giving two talks at the Michigan Library Association's annual conference in Lansing. One is on "Hyper-Local History" and the other gives tips for "Surviving a Genealogy Reference Interview." The conference program is available here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Farewell to the Newberry Library

Saturday was my last day of work at the Newberry Library. I left because my wife got a good job at the University of Michigan, and living in Ann Arbor seems like a good change for our family. But I'll miss the staff and patrons of the Newberry- it's a really great place. I was there for a decade: from 1999-2009. It was a period where genealogy research methods changed dramatically, so it was an interesting time to work in the Local and Family History department.

Luckily for Chicago-area family historians, the current genealogy staff at the Newberry is really excellent. Matt Rutherford is the new curator, and I think he'll do an great job.

I'll be taking care of my daughter and doing some freelance research work in Ann Arbor in the near term. I hope to have a new research website up soon. But I'll also continue to blog here.