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Family History – now’s the time!

Thanksgiving Day is also National Family History Day.  It’s a natural pairing: that time of year when we gather together for family, food, and fun also marks the perfect opportunity to gather family information.

“Why didn’t I ask questions when I had the chance?”

That’s the #1 rhetorical question we get here in the Archives.  Whether trying to fill gaps in a family tree or hoping to recall or confirm stories from long ago, folks are always wishing they had taken the time to ask questions and record information once upon a time.

National Family History Day was actually declared by the Surgeon General after a Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey found that

  • over 96% of Americans considered knowledge of family history important to their personal health, but
  • less than 30% had ever actively collected family health information.

Wondering why the Surgeon General cares about genealogy?  Well, it’s simple – tracing family illnesses can help predict health risks and encourage preventative action to keep families healthy!  Of course, health questions may not be the easiest ones to address — nor do they necessarily make the best dinner conversation! — but, making an attempt to start talking about family history, asking questions, and recording information might help get the rolling on all fronts.

Here are some quick suggestions for easy ways to record your family history this weekend – or any time you gather together:

  • There’s an app for that!  Few people have tape recorders anymore, but your phone can do the trick instead!  Download a voice recording app such as StoryCorps (read about it in last week’s Wall Street Journal article) or Interviewy.   Have some questions ready (there are tips on the websites & in the article), but you can also just wing it & see where it goes!
  • Bring out old photos to get the conversation started — and while you’re at it, write the names on the back (in pencil or archival, photo-safe ink).
  • Create a Family Health Portrait with the helpful online tool from the Surgeon General’s Office.
  • Keep pencil and paper handy and just write it down!  Every little bit counts!

Need help pulling it together?  Stop by the Community Archives Room and we’ll give you a hand!

We hope you had a happy Thanksgiving – and that you build upon your family history on this weekend — and at every opportunity!

Saturday at the library!

The Gardiner Public Library is a great place to spend your winter!  The library staff wants you to spend some time enjoying the great programs we have booked.  Last Saturday the library was bustling in all the rooms.  We had Story Hour up in our Children’s Room.  We offer Saturday Story Hour the first Saturday of every month and Babies Love Babies Play Time every Friday from 10-11AM.  We had a Henna Happy Hour in our teen section and we also scheduled a Fireside Chat with State Representative, Gay Grant.  Look for more of these chats in the future.
Are you looking for ways to meet other caregivers?  Come join us every Tuesday morning for Tuesday Story Hour (10:30-11:00AM) followed by a craft time with Missy.  Have you just read a great book and wish to talk about it?  Join our Book Discussion Group that meets 6-7PM on January 22nd as they discuss The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.  Are you researching your family and need some help?  Join our Genealogy Meet Ups in our Community Archives Room on 1/22 and 1/24 from 11AM until 1PM.  We even have laptops that you can use!
Don’t hunker down at home waiting for spring to appear….come join us at the Gardiner Public Library.  We love seeing everyone and we are still able to recommend a great book for you to read!
Anne Davis, Library Director

MARVELous Blog The Final Chapter (Plus Week 8)

The week of Thanksgiving I was given a choice of blogging or not blogging.  At the time, not blogging seemed to work better for me, but now I plan to do the week 8 blog about Ancestry Library Edition and the final few questions of the blog exercise – Blog 11.
Ancestry Library Edition looks very similar to the paid for version of  This is a site that I am rather familiar with, so I may jump around a bit more than I have when learning the other databases.  Please accept my apologies up front on this!  Ancestry Library Edition is available free of charge to Maine library users, but you must be in the library to access the site.
The home page of Ancestry Library Edition looks pretty straight forward – a place to search for an individual using first, middle and last name as well as where a person may have lived and their estimated birth year.  You are also given links to several census collections as well as other pertinent collection databases.
The first piece of this exercise is to look up my own name.  I do this, first just my name – 781,379 results.  I add Maine as a place I have lived and narrow my search to 588,906 individuals.  I add my birth year and narrow the results further to 215,247.  By adding my middle initial I am again up to 249,256 results.  Scanning the page results, I pick myself out on the first page (I DO know who I am!).  The U.S. Public Records Index, Volume 1shows several places that I have lived – interesting.  I narrow my search by clicking one Birth, Marriage & Death.  
The second piece of this exercise is to search for a grandparent in the U.S. Census.  I type in my grandfather’s name, year of birth, and Maine – 51,342 results.  I Narrow by Category using Census & Voter Lists.  My results are now 5,475.  I find my grandparents listed on the first page – 1940 and 1930 United Sates Federal Census.  I find my grandfather in the 1910 United States Federal Census.  I click View Image for the 1910 census.  A window pops up letting me know how to move around the census page.  This is a nice, helpful thing for new users to this site.  The image of the census is extremely small, but with the help of both the Zoom and Magnify buttons I am able to move around the page and find my grandfather, his parents and siblings listed in the 1910 census.  On this page there is a listing for the Source Citation, Source Information and Source Description– all of these are very important and helpful to anyone doing a family history search.  
The last piece of this exercise is to look at Photos and Maps for photos of Maine.  This isn’t quite as intuitive as it could have been.  From the home page, I click on the Search tab; this brings me to a new page, filled with a variety of Special Collections which include Photos and Maps.  After clicking on Pictures I do a keyword search for Maine. 1,190,449 results – YIKES!  I take a few minutes and scroll through some of these images – yearbook images, Library of Congress photo collections, baseball players, passenger ship images, and many more that I will explore another day.
The final post – Number 11 – wonders what my biggest discovery was?  I think the biggest discovery was how little I know about what is available through the MARVEL databases!  I am in awe of how much is available for anyone with a valid Maine library card!  We are incredibly lucky to have this resource.
I don’t know about my fellow bloggers, but I have been using the databases that we have explored more than I expected.  It has been interesting to notice that I have used whichever experience I have blogged about within a few days of my research.  I am so glad I took part in this exercise, and I intend to continue with my research, so stay tuned!

MARVEL Blog – Week 10

Back to the MARVELous Blog assignments, what will we discover this week?  It looks like a have a choice.  My options are Academic Search Complete ; Masterfile Premier ;  MiddleSearch Plus or Primary Search.  I’m sure that I will look at ALL of these, but for now, I look at Masterfile Premier.

First I take a few minutes to glance through and see what publications are available as resources.  At this point, all I can say is “WOW”!  Truly an amazing and broad range of resources in this database.  There are both PDF and HTML formats of complete articles.
I stumble on a transcription of Ulysses S. Grant’s second inaugural address!  Hmmm… I type Inaugural in the search bar.  There are at least five pages of articles ranging from Jefferson Davis’ Inaugural Addressto Traces of Inaugural Life.  I narrow my search using Primary Search Documents.  Now my results are mostly United States Presidential Inaugural Addresses.  A nice resource for the history buff in each of us!
Next, I move to EBSCO’s eBook Collection.  Here I can browse by Category, view Highlighted books or investigate Featured eBooks.  In the search bar I type in the word Hypnosis.  There are 16 eBooks in my results.  Clicking on several, I see information about each title, and “Most Relevant Pages From This eBook”.  I find this helpful as a way to decide which books I want to look at further.  Not quite as familiar as looking at the index when I hold a print book in my hand, but very helpful in this instance.  I put a couple of eBooks in my folder, open my folder, and look at one as eBook Full Text.  Opening one of these items, I am pleased to discover how user friendly the eBooks are.  Using the Arrow I can flip through the pages, I am also able to type in a page number and jump directly to that page.  Very nice!
The Blog directions tell me to search Constitution Day.  This brings 16 results.  Changing my search by adding quotation marks, I now have one result – Historical Dictionary of Taiwan (Republic of China).  I’m guessing that this isn’t what the Blog Discovery is all about.  I double check that I haven’t refined my search more than necessary, no, all is open and clear of restrictions.  I’m not sure what I missed, but this didn’t seem to work as expected for this search.
Next I am told to use the Advanced Search feature and search for items about Western history.  I type Nebraska in the search bar – at least five pages of results.  On the Right side of the results page, I open the Category window.  Here I narrow my search a bit – opting for only categories using the word History, Biography and Genealogy.  Updating the search my results screen is down to only four items.  This is much easier to scroll through, and use as recommendations for folks interested in Western history.
This is certainly another great resource, and I have only explored the tip of it!!!
Now I take a few minutes to see what others have discovered throughout our MARVELous blogging experience.  It is certainly interesting to read other posts on the various discoveries we have all made.  This has been a MARVEL-ous experience for sure!