Sunday, July 31, 2011

Homestead National Monument of America

One evening during the conference, we had dinner at the Homestead National Monument.  The food was unremarkable, but the monument is kinda cool. I hadn't heard of it, but it's actually dedicated to a piece of legislation, the Homestead Act of 1862, which offered free land to anyone who could tame 160 acres of raw wilderness with a house, cultivated crops, and five years of residence.

There are two especially interesting things about the monument.  First, they have a dramatic new building with very well done displays and an interpretive film.  If you go in the evening, you may see a spectacular sunset framed in the windows.

Second, they have teamed with Family Search, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and to digitize and index all the homestead application records at NARA.  Considering that they think that something like 70 million people today descend from homesteaders, and that homestead records can contain genealogically valuable information, I think that's great news!

I also think it's great to see how the National Park Service is trying to reach out to more than just tourists and schoolchildren.  Linking the National Archives' historical records with the NPS historical interpretation resources has a lot of potential to make genealogy a lot more fun.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Land Records and Genealogy Symposium, Nebraska

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Land Records and Genealogy Symposium in Beatrice, NE.  I learned several interesting things, the first of which is that it's pronounced beATriss.

The symposium is a joint venture between the community college in Beatrice and the Homestead National Monument of America, which celebrates the Homestead Act of 1862.  About 1/3 of the presentations focused on land records -- understanding the platting system, knowing what to look for in the deed index and deed book, etc.  Three of the others were on technology -- Google, blogs, social media; I liked the one Thomas MacEntee did on Google the best.  Possibly the most entertaining presentation was on identifying 19th century photographs; even the the event planners, who weren't genealogists, were fascinated.  Gail Blankenou did a fabulous job.

This symposium is offered every two years.  I've only been to one other genealogy conference, so I don't have much to compare it to, but I'd say that it was worth the extremely reasonable fee.  And, when making your lunch choices, go with the lasagna...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hello World

Weeeeeeeellllllll, here I go, starting a genealogy blog.  I've had a website for several years, and the bulk of my research will still go there, but I decided that I would like to start sharing some of the things that don't fit in that format. 

Specifically, my website at will reflect the sum of my information about my family.  This blog will reflect my thoughts on such disparate subjects as the things you'll find in the Smith County KS public library, what it's like to be a new volunteer librarian at a genealogy library, and whether or not I find something genealogical useful to do with Google+

I hope that along the way, I'll write something you might find interesting or useful.  Let me know if I come close!