Saturday, April 27, 2013

Poll: How do you share?

I've been pondering this problem for a bit and I'm not sure how to fix it, so I wanted to post a question to you. What's the best way of regularly sharing my findings with the residents? I've been spending a lot of time in Photoshop cropping and manipulating the records to get the important information on one page of paper and then printing the result. Unfortunately, this is a rather time-consuming process, but I don't know how else to do it: Printing the documents in their raw format will be illegible. (Think of printing a census record on a single page). I've thought about the idea of displaying results on a tablet that we could then zoom in and out with, but I can't really leave that with the residents either. It's nice that I can leave behind a paper copy they can review while I'm gone, but I'm just wondering if anyone out there has an idea for a better way to do this. What are your thoughts?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Financial Friday: Donations

I debated whether I should include a button for donations, but in the end gave in as I could see this becoming an expensive service to produce. I feel like I should provide an explanation of where those donations will go.

Right now, I've personally paid for a 6-month membership to Ancestry which will end in September 2013. I only subscribe off-and-on (sometimes not for an entire year at a time). Primarily, donations would help with membership fees to this site, the bread and butter for my research. For just access to US records, this is $155 for an annual membership, or $23 per month.

In the rare event that there happens to be donated money beyond this, I have a few ideas for how those funds could be used:

*) Subscribing to a newspaper archive service would be a plus. Some newspapers are available on Ancestry, but there is next to nothing in the Cleveland area. This would cost roughly $20 per month or $70 per year.

*) Upgrading the Ancestry account to include international records. I don't really see enough value in this yet, but after working with more residents, I may have enough of a research backlog to begin looking in international records. Right now, the need is simply not there.

*) There are some other ideas like obtaining vital records, creating keepsakes once most of the research is complete, etc. I list these last as these are things I feel the nursing home may be willing to pay for.

I've decided that the Donate button is way too prominent though, and I've figured out how to move it to a separate page in Blogger, so I will work on doing that soon too. Donations aren't really the goal here.

I did want to send a shout-out to Laura for being the first one to donate, followed by my parents. As you can see from my shopping list, it's much appreciated! Thank you!

Just a reminder that Silver Branches is not an official charitable organization, (that is, donations here are not tax-deductible because I have not filed for a 501(c3) ) but I assure you that the funds will go to advancing this project and providing meaningful information to the nursing home residents.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Second Visit with ML

Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to stop by and visit with ML again. She's doing well - and quite the popular lady! As I arrived, someone else was finishing up a visit with her, and while I was there her son also came by for a visit. It was neat seeing him too - the only record I have of him is on the 1940 Census when he was just a baby.

She was interested to find out there were many more relatives than she ever realized. She had previously looked in phone books to find other Poniatowski's, but because the females changed their names after getting married, she didn't know anything about them. It sounds like there are quite a number of new relatives to research! She is getting excited to meet her relatives and asked me to get their phone number for her. It will be a lot of fun when I can bring everyone together!

I remember last week after I met with her thinking "I don't know how much more I'll be able to find." Boy was I wrong! A genealogist's job is never done.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Launch Day Thanks

I more or less officially launched my blog late last night and have been enjoying the "likes" and comments rolling in on Facebook.  It's all been very positive and it reinforces my idea to contiune this project!  I hope I can create enough interesting content to keep you coming back.  Let me know what topics you'd like to see me share!

Post-War Polish Letter

I thought readers may be interested in reading the actual letter sent from Poland to the U.S.  It really captures the emotions of this time:

Borowiczki, Poland
February 18, 1920

My dear children:-
     Your letter I have received.  I am well and wish you the same.  You are inquiring how we are getting along.  You know that your Father died and I am all alone in this town with Bienkowskis.  My dear children, I am begging you not to let me stay along with other people, but come to me as soon as you can.
     Of course you know that our home has been destroyed and has to be remodelled and other things taken care of and you can pay for this after selling some of your other property, and go back to America, taking me with you.
     Concerning the money that you have sent to Warsaw, I was told at the Bank that you are the only one to whom they will give same.  I am informing that a lot of changes happened in our town.  A number of people have died.  The whole family of our friends Chenkis have died.  Your uncle has been taken prisoner by Russians during the war and we have not heard from him.  I cannot write any more, but will wait until you arrive to me.

The application also mentions...

In the last letter which he received from the Department some thing was said of sickness and disease spreading in Poland, he states that, said is not the case in the part of Poland where he intends to visit, but he must go, and he is taking this risk on his own shoulders.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Check Ahead!

While doing more research for ML, I found another wealth of information that the other members of her family hadn't found yet: the FULL passport application of an uncle. Sure, they had the first page, but they were missing 4 additional pages of information! How could this be?

Ancestry only indexes the first page of a passport application. This means to find the other pages, you have to use the "next page" buttons within the document viewer. This gave some incredible details including a photograph of the family.

One of the most interesting bits of information attached to the application was a translated letter from Poland describing the situation after World War I. Homes destroyed, family missing, a relative captured by Russians, etc. All this provides a backdrop to why this relative needed to go back to Poland, sell his things, and bring his mother-in-law back to America.

So, when viewing records, don't forget to check the next page! You never know what else might be attached to that first page.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Multiple Sources

I feel like sometimes I put too much stock in They might be the most comprehensive source, but that shouldn't be the only source one uses. I often times will check with, however I was still looking for more. On a whim, I decided to do some additional searching on, thinking it would be identical to my search results on I couldn't have been more wrong!

Through this search, I was able to find ML's grandfather's death certificate, already indexed and searchable. This gave me the names of her great-grand parents! What a find! In addition, through searching here, I have been able to find an unknown aunt. Females are harder to track down due to the last name changing when they get married, however another indexed death certificate proves that she was also related.

The information about the aunt was actually missing from the reports given to me by ML's distant cousin, so it also goes to prove one more thing: Just because someone else has researched a family member, it doesn't mean there's nothing more to find!