The Washington State Genealogical Society is asking its members and blog readers to support the state’s Digital Archives in October. We are unbelievably lucky in this state to have a resource like the Digital Archives. What a wealth of information, including historic photographs, BDM records, cemetery directories, maps and land records — many from pre-statehood. All access, all free. Transcribed and indexed by volunteers like you! Click here to join the army of volunteers.
Today, we’re highlighting two Digital Archive transcriber super stars:
Steven Baylor started indexing before there was a Scribe (the super easy online transcription application used to transcribe records). Since official counting began, he has transcribed almost 150,000 records — and growing every day as it’s something he works into his daily schedule. Whenever he has a half hour here or a couple hours there, he sits down and indexes a dozen or so documents. According to Steve who is a former President of WSGS and member of the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society:
“It’s all part of paying it forward. My research has been made easier by others who have spent hours indexing and I’m pleased I can do my part to increase accessibility of public records. Now that my wife has Alzheimer’s, I need to be at home most every day. Indexing is something I can do and still feel like I am contributing to the genealogical community without having to travel anywhere.
Steve started indexing many years ago when he and other WSGS members worked with the Secretary of State’s office to index the 1910 Federal Census of Washington. After that labor-intensive undertaking, the Archives Office began using a “hybrid” system where they would mail paper copies of documents to transcribers who would index them online or on a disk and mail the paper copies back to Olympia. Steve’s wife assisted him by reading names to him while he typed, then she would double-check the finished product before they clicked the send button. Great teamwork!
Charles Hansen started in 2003 when the Digital Archives was being built near the Eastern Washington University campus in Cheney (Charles lives in Spokane). State officials began asking local genealogical societies to donate records to put in the infant digital archives. Charles had some DOS databases (remember DOS????) for early Spokane County births, deaths and marriages. He also had indexed the 1887 Spokane County Census. He generously gave those electronic records to start the digital archives. Shortly thereafter, Archives officials asked for volunteers to help index and volunteer at the archives, so he started indexing — being sent paper copies of the records and a floppy disk with the format to index.
The next transcription and index improvement was Scribe — the online digital application that allows users to become “honorary archivists” of the state’s historically important records. By using Scribe, volunteers are able to add information to the images, making them searchable online. It’s easy to use — just fill in the blanks and save the data. Each record can be viewed by many transcribers, but two transcriptions must match exactly before the record can become searchable.
Charles, a member of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society and WSGS’s Blog Master, has indexed 151,240 records since record counts have begun.
But you don’t have to be a super star like Steve or Charles to make a difference! Any record transcribed or indexed is a record available to the public. To date, I’ve transcribed nine records (yes, 9!), but I’m committed to making these records available for public access. Help me!
To sign up for Scribe, click here.
Last day of the conference, but it was a great one! First thing this morning, WSGS President Ginny Majewski and Vice President Donna Potter Phillips drew Leslie Vogel’s name from the new (and renewed) membership raffle tickets for an Amazon Dot. Congratulations, Leslie. And welcome to you and all our new members!
Keynote speaker Kenyatta Berry provided a thought-provoking presentation, asking us “Where Does Your Story Begin?” She shared her personal history, as well as how to make our own stories compelling. Much to think about…
Wouldn’t you think I would have heard enough about DNA on this third day? Nope. Attended Mary Kathryn Kozy’s “Can You Help Me Find My Cousins? Using atDNA for Family History” lecture. She’s a great speaker and always “delivers the goods.”
I’m sorry to say I had to leave early, missing Kenyatta’s afternoon talk and the afternoon workshops, but I know everyone enjoyed them.
I want to give another shout-out to the amazing volunteers from the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society. This conference is quickly becoming “the” event to go to. Speaking of that….mark your calendar for August 15 – 18, 2018! Don’t miss it!
Close to 400 enthusiastic genealogists from all over the state and beyond gathered in the Byrnes Performing Arts Center in Arlington today for a full day of learning, sharing and networking. Our keynote speaker was Diahan Southard, a native Washingtonian transplanted to Florida. Her three keynote lectures were full of understandable information and inspirational stories about DNA. Repeatedly, she told us, “there is no one else on the earth exactly like you.” Her professional manner (and athleticism!) were admired by all.
In addition to Diahan’s keynotes, conference attendees had the opportunity to attend two additional lectures from the dozen offered. It wasn’t easy to choose, but I finally settled on “Ticked Off! Those Pesky Pre-1850 Census Tic Marks” with Peggy Lauritzen and “Land Records: Using Indexes and Deeds to Move Your Research Forward” with Michele Goodrum. It was a hard choice to make. Who would want to turn down an opportunity to learn about “angst-free” citations (really!) or how to find ancestors who owned slaves? Or what about “Criminals, Paupers and Lunatics”?
Can I say a little about the volunteers? From the moment I drove into the parking lot (thanks to the parking crew), I felt well cared for. A volunteer greeted me with a warm welcome as he swung open the door. There were volunteers at the registration table, packet pick-up, book sales, direction givers, food organizers, and more. And think about how much behind-the-scenes work was done before today! So, if you see a Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society volunteer (and, of course, you will!), thank them for their dedication and making this conference such a success.
A small group of us ended our day with a great dinner at the Moose Creek BBQ in Arlington. Our token male was Daniel Earl, tomorrow’s keynote speaker. What an engaging, funny young man, but don’t take my word for it – show up tomorrow! On-site registrations are still being taken. More information about the conference is available here.
How many times have you heard, “How can we involve the younger generation in our passion for genealogy?” Well, let me introduce you to Kellen Shoe.
I met Kellen at Wednesday’s Meet-and-Mingle at the Northwest Genealogy Conference. He’s just turned 17 years old and is going to be a junior at Arlington High School. And he’s passionate about genealogy!
Kellen’s interest in genealogy began about four years ago. When asked why he became interested in a field not usually associated with youth, he responded that he wanted to know who he was. His mother had never talked too much about her family history, but did write down what she knew. With that information, along with DNA results, Kellen started searching and researching. He can now trace his roots back to Colonial America, coming from England to Virginia and Missouri as early as 1607. He’s full of facts, dates, relationships, some of it a tangled web of children born out of wedlock, half siblings and other delicate family matters.
Kellen is the proud owner of original family letters, some describing the complex relationship of his 2x great grandmother and 2x great grandfather who never married. He’s also got old photos including daguerreotypes. His next big research hunt is to find the half siblings of his 2x great grandmother. With the help of DNA testing, he’s optimistic he’ll find some answers.
While Kellen’s interested in becoming a mechanical engineer, it’s pretty safe to say, he’ll stay interested in genealogy. A future genealogist in the making.
The attendees at today’s “Free Day Wednesday” at the Northwest Genealogy Conference got more than they anticipated. Billed as a beginning genealogy class with accredited genealogist Peggy Lauritzen, the 200-plus attendees were treated to an afternoon with Peggy, local society management classes, vendors and book sales. In addition, a lucky few attended a fascinating “Genetic Networks Workshop” with Diahan Southard.
Sponsored by the hard-working Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society (SVGS), this fourth-year conference is one of the best in the region. Organizers, including conference chairs Lisa and Phil Bartlow, have planned all year to appeal to newbies and veterans, young and young-at-heart. Peggy’s Genealogy 101 class today yielded more than a few ah-ha’s, scribbled notes and mumbled “I didn’t know that’s” from the crowd, even the seasoned veterans. There’s always something new to learn — or relearn!
I was one of the lucky 25 to atend Diahan Southard’s DNA workshop. This is a new class offered by Diahan, but you wouldn’t have known it. Good handouts and exercises, understandable explanations, even a case study (with assignments for us to complete!). She’s a pro — can’t wait to hear her as our keynoter tomorrow.
I visited a few vendors, including the WSGS Membership table, but will do more of that in the next two days. Stopped by the Heritage Quest Research Library to check out the book sales. They brought in 36 boxes of books, pamphlets and resources, covering every country. And don’t forget to check out the Flip Pal — an invaluable aid in scanning old photos. I love mine; I actually use it MORE than I thought I would!
We closed the day with a Meet-and-Mingle at the Gleneagle Country Club. Lots of networking, getting acquainted (and reacquainted) and enjoying a great taco bar. One of the highlights of the evening was Snohomish County Councilman Nate Nehring presenting SVGS President Ruth Caesar with an oversized check for a memorial kiosk at the Pioneer Cemetery, Arlington’s first official cemetery. The identification of those interred has long been an important project for SVGS.
Tomorrow is the official start of the NWGC. Fourteen speakers, including keynoter Diahan Southard, will provide lectures and workshops on a wide variety of subjects — something for everyone. I’m still trying to decide on what classes I’m going to attend after looking through the 180-page syllabus!
Registrations are accepted at the door (Byrnes Performing Arts Center, 18821 Crown Ridge Blvd., Arlington). Arrive early and stay all day!
If you are like me, you may never have heard the term Melungeon before now. According to Wikipedia, Melungeons are a people from the Cumberland Gap Area of East Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia. They are of mixed European, African and Native American ancestry. At our next Meeting, June 13th at 1pm, Jim Johnson, President of the Heritage Quest Genealogical Library in Sumner, will be speaking on the topic of Melungeons. The meeting will be held at the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society Library and is free to attend. Join us in learning about these unique people.
Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society