Thursday, April 30, 2015

550. Ancestry And My Family

                The last time I looked (a minute ago), said they had 15+ billion records. I thought “Wow! That’s a bunch!” Then my common sense took over, and I thought a little more, and I arrived at “Let’s have a little fun here!”
                How many countries are there in the world? It looks like 196 from most accounts. So, 15 billion divided by 196 is 76.5 million. Now, more common sense tells us that many of these are small and have minimal records, so let’s figure the main research countries in Ancestry might have 100 million records each.
                How many of the world’s countries were significant sources of American immigrants? I would guess not over 50. So, 50 times 100 million is 5 billion. And we have whacked Ancestry down by 2/3.
                So looking over my research, I find that my immigrant ancestors have come from five foreign countries. And…we are down to one billion records. Continuing our process and judging where I do most of my research, I would figure that Ancestry has more American records than the other four combined, so let’s say I’m searching through 3 billion U.S. records. Still sounds impressive, doesn’t it?
                Of course, out of 50 American states, I have only found my folks in about 25, so we are down to 1.5 billion records. If we concentrate on direct ancestors and first cousins, we have cut out several more marginal states, so let’s round that figure off to 1 billion. See where we’re going here?
                How many counties are there in this country? Wikipedia says 3,144, or an average of 60 or so per state. So the 20 or so states where I research have around 1200 counties. And that means that Ancestry may have about 833,000 records per county.
                My experience has been that I only have relatives in an average of 5 counties per state. So my potential searchable records, 833,000 records times 5 counties times 20 states, is..ta da..83.3 million. Still with me?
                We could go further. How many of these are unique to Ancestry? As in, why should I pay Ancestry for records I can get for free on FamilySearch or Find-A-Grave, or GenWeb? All the census records are free, most cemeteries are free, many military and vital records are free. Can we cut my total in half?
                So I’m paying Ancestry over $150 annually for perhaps 40 million undiscovered records. And my 10-12 surnames might be 1/100 % of those. Whew! That 15+ billion number is really not very impressive at this point in the game. And even a lot of Ancestry is free to me at the local public library branch.
                I might be better off just driving to those counties and visiting the genealogy library. Wow, what a revelation! Grandma might have been right all along!!
New records showing on Ancestry right now. The ones that apply to me? ZERO.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

549. GSMC Webinar Wednesday, May 6

Genealogical Society of Marion County
 Webinar Wednesday

May 6, 2015         2:00 pm to 3:30 pm

GSMC Library  9370 E. Washington Street, Indianapolis
(On the Memorial Park Cemetery Grounds)

Overcoming Destroyed or Missing Records
Presenter: Karen Clifford
            Were you told that all the records in the courthouse were burned so you cannot go any further on your ancestor's line? Or have you searched many times at the local repositories only to discover that the records are missing for the years you need? This presentation will cover a handful of proven research techniques that may help you to overcome your destroyed or missing records.

Workshop is Free; No reservation required; Printed Handouts Provided
Coffee, Tea, Soft Drinks Available
[Info: Contact Ron Darrah at]

Sunday, April 26, 2015

548. IGS Makes Significant Progress

   I just returned from an enjoyable two days in Terre Haute, Indiana, participating in the 2014 Seminar and Conference of the Indiana Genealogical Society. Keynote speaker Judy Russell presented four engrossing workshops, and the second track by local area specialists was also well attended.
   The local host Wabash Valley Genealogy Society furnished numerous services and many great volunteers to make the event run smoothly, and the Indiana State University venue was unique and functional. The conference attendance exceeded expectations, and most attendees rated the experience as excellent.
   Next year's conference will be held April 15-16, 2016, at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne. Planning is already underway.
   During the mid-day IGS business meeting, an interesting handout, shown below, illustrated some of the progress the Society has made in the last year.
   [Disclaimer: I am the Corresponding Secretary of IGS.]

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

547. Will State Fumble Archives Site Again?

    It's not looking good, folks. Just when you think the State of Indiana can't do anything more stupid, they prove that you are the stupid one for believing that they have hit the cellar on stupidity. Case in point: We may have the money (finally!) to build a halfway decent State Archives, and where do they propose to put it? Why, crammed into a skinny little canal-side lot that is totally without parking. Where do they get these people? And how can we plug that pipeline with concrete?
   Clamp your peepers on this (edited) article from the Indianapolis media:

Indiana may build $25M Archive On Downtown Canal
Indianapolis Business Journal   April 18, 2015    Kathleen McLaughlin

(Photo courtesy of Canal Park Advocates)

                A grassy strip along the east side of the canal, where people gather to hear concerts at the Indiana History Center, is the most likely site for an Indiana State Archives building. Indiana is working on plans to build a $25 million state archives building on the Central Canal downtown, taking up green space and adding another institutional user to the Canal Walk.
                The canal site, across from the Indiana History Center, beat out three other locations the state evaluated, including a vacated American Legion building on North Meridian Street, a strip of land on West Washington Street, and a site between the Indiana State Museum and NCAA headquarters, State Archivist Jim Corridan said. “It’s being highly considered as the location,” Corridan said.        (Who did the beating out--Abbott and Costello?)
                Archivists and researchers are thrilled that 200 years’ worth of historical records—including the 1816 and 1851 constitutions—could finally move out of a warehouse with no climate control to a downtown spot that’s easily accessible to the public.
                But the canal site is drawing some opposition from a citizens group that wants the space preserved as a park. The location also raises the question of how the archive will serve canal users who aren’t stopping by to research the state’s history.      (There's an interesting point!)
                “We need to continually add more vibrancy to the canal with increased foot traffic,” said Sherry Seiwert, CEO of civic booster group Downtown Indy.
                The canal-side site isn’t necessarily the cheapest place to build, but it makes the most sense for information-seeking patrons, Corridan said. It’s convenient to the State Library on Ohio Street and the not-for-profit Indiana History Center. In addition, archivists will be able to ferry documents through the underground tunnels that connect to the Statehouse, he said.
                The canal stretches between the state-owned White River State Park and city land. Downtown Indy has a pending contract to manage events on behalf of the city, and Seiwert said she’s begun meeting with canal stakeholders.
                Seiwert was aware of the state’s plans to build on the canal, but she said she hadn’t yet spoken to any state officials. She declined to comment on the merits of the archive project before seeing designs or knowing other details.
                Jeff Hutson Favorito, owner of Old World Gondoliers, assumes the new archive will draw some visitors, and he thinks the building is a good use of a marginally attractive green space. “This is a good fit with us because we celebrate history and culture,” he said.  (We're taking advice now from gondoliers?)
                Indianapolis and the state agreed to a land swap that will give the state control over the entire long, narrow bank. The city will receive a state-owned parking lot, which is needed for the proposed 21c hotel, next to Old City Hall.
                Corridan said the canal-side location works well with other museums because the archive will have its own exhibit space. “The Legislature has been very strong on making sure people have access to things in our collections,” he said.   (As long as they don't have to drive there!)
                State planners are also aware that the canal is mostly used by joggers, dog walkers and strolling families. There has been some discussion about the possibility of incorporating a retail use, such as an ice cream shop, into the design, Corridan said. But such a use couldn’t take up much building space or threaten the integrity and security of documents, he said.
                The archive sees about 2,500 visitors a year in its current location, and Corridan predicted the canal site would at least double that. He admitted, however, that it’s impossible to make a good estimate because the archive has never been housed separately, or with such prominence.
                Parking would be in metered spots on the street, or patrons could use the Indiana History Center parking lot, Corridan said.  (Don't you love this comment!)
                The Senate-approved version of the budget bill contains $25 million for the project, from design to furnishings. Corridan said the building will be about 60,000 square feet, which is enough to accommodate existing records and 40 years of growth.