Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fun and Echos at the National Archives

So the other week I was down in DC for a few days and we went to the National Archives.

Back in the old days children, when you wanted to do research on your family tree, you didn't sit on your behind in front of your computer in mismatched pajamas drinking wine...oh wait, is that just me? But anyway, there was no internet, and if you wanted to see original records, you had to go to an archive, maybe local, or maybe in salt lake, or maybe the National Archives.

I went there a couple times back in the 1990s on saturdays. It was a vast room filled with microfilm machines and lots of people hunched over spinning through them at very fast speed, then abruptly slowing down when something relevant was spotted, then speeding up again. You had to get there early (since it was a saturday) and claim your machine. You were only supposed to pull one film at a time, but everybody would sneak a couple from the rows and rows of little boxes.

One thing I miss about using the machines is you got a really big view of whatever record you were staring at, not a little computer screen. Also, I would often put a piece of paper over the screen and trace someone's handwriting if it was something I couldn't read, so I could go back later to my notes and see exactly what was written.

So on a lovely Saturday afternoon we headed over to visit the National Archives. First we went to the museum part and saw the Declaration of Independence and Constitution and all that stuff. You weren't allowed to take any pictures with flashes and the guards really worked hard to put the fear into you. If you took a picture with a flash, they would come and get you and take your camera, your first born and your left leg.

A lady standing in front of us went to take a picture of her companion (not any of the documents) and the flash went off. Several of us actually gasped out loud and we looked around waiting for SWAT guys to drop from the ceiling and take her away. But nothing happened. So I think they were just trying to scare us.

After the museum part, we headed over to the library part just for old times sake. The security guards not only x-ray'd all our stuff, but they actually took the serial numbers from our cameras and cell phones.


Out of all the national monuments we visited while down there, this one was the most difficult to get into with all that, and they told us it was to protect us in case there were thefts.


I still don't get that. Are there a lot of shady researchers and genealogists skulking around the library at the National Archives? Stealing jewels and making deals and stabbing partners in the back?

Anyway, so we found the library and microfilm area and...there was no one there.

It was totally empty. There were two girls, clearly interns of some sort, sitting at the desk in the microfilm reader room and they seemed pretty surprised to see us.

But, it was a saturday afternoon!! Where was everybody????

I guess with so many records available online now, there's just not as much of a need to travel there in person and search. It seemed like such a waste, all those machines, all those records right there and no one was using them! I felt vaguely nervous about it. If it's empty, will they take it away? I hope not!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

If you bring me a hotdog, I'll work another 2 hours

It was a wonderful Memorial Day long weekend, beautiful weather, I spent time roaming in a pretty little cemetery, all good.

There was one day where I was at my sister's house, helping to put together a swingset/fort/slide/rockwall.

It looked a bit like this:

JUST KIDDING!!!!! :-D There was actually really good barbeque as well, which I think is represented by the flames under satan's bum.

I squeezed in some genealogy research before going to my sister's house and came across a conundrum (of course! I was leaving the house and unable to delve into it!).

I have a great-great uncle Nickolaus Domelle.

I have a copy of a marriage certificate for him, showing that he married a Francisca Traum on May 14, 1910 in Philadelphia at St. Peter the Apostle Church, 1019 N. Fifth St.

I had always thought that Francisca had died, because by Nickolaus's 1919 Declaration of Intention he is married to a Barbara (no maiden name given).

Then, I finally get that batch of social security applications I was talking about the other week, and I have their only daughter Elizabeth's social security application.

She lists her mother as "Barbara Traum".


So now I'm thinking okay, it could be Francisca decided to go by the name Barbara, which is not an uncommon thing for immigrants to do, I've seen lots of census's where people altered their names to sound more american, or they swithed to using their middle name, things like that.

Or, maybe Barbara is a sister of Francisca? Or cousin?

I searched the 1910 census for Philadelphia, naturally, there is one of each. A Francisca and a Barbara. One is a maidservant in Philadelphia, one is a maidservant in Bucks county.

The 1920 census for Philadelphia shows Barbara married to Nickolaus, and she does give a middle initial of "T", which I now know stands for Traum:

So then I went to Ellis Island. They are both there too. Both came over with cousins, not parents or siblings. Both had a final destination of Philadelphia.

According to the Ellis Island records, "Franziska" is the right age for my Barbara, and the Barbara is about 8 years too old. But I can't just take that as gospel because people lie about their ages all the time. Shocking, I know.

Both are German. Both are from Hungary. Both are from Retfel, a town I have yet to locate on modern maps or find the alternate names for.

Now, Franziska came over in 1907, which matches my 1920 census information. Barbara came over in 1906.

Maybe Franziska was her proper name, she used it when traveling to the United States, she used it for her marriage certificate, but in her real life she always used Barbara.


I think I have myself convinced that Franziska used the name Barbara, but I'm not really sure yet. Maybe I'll do some more searching on this one next saturday. Before I go to my sister's house to finish putting together the fort/swingset/slide/rollercoaster.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that I make it out alive!

Monday, May 18, 2009

"And none will hear the postman's knock Without a quickening of the heart. For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?"

Well, actually, my postman doesn't knock. But he does make fun of me for how many packages I receive. I've tried telling him that I feel it is my duty to keep the economy going, but I don't think he's buying that.

So last week right before I went on my little trip to Washington DC I finally got some social security apps that I had requested. I sent my request in JANUARY! And got them mid-MAY! It's sort of a weird little anomaly - I can get my great-grandfather's death certificate in a couple days, but the social security app takes months.

What's up with that Social Security Administration? Are you so under-funded that you are still working with copiers and typewriters? Are you really that busy looking up genealogist's requests? If it's as busy as the library at the National Archives this last saturday, I would think that you would have time to figure out the cure to cancer while simultaneously coming up with time travel for the masses (sans butterfly effect of course) and a pill to make me thin, blond, tan and young (with the only side effects being the sudden ability do math in my head and riverdance. at the same time). Anyway, if you let me know how I can help, I'll be so happy to do it.

Meanwhile, how exciting, I got some info for my Domelle side of the family that has been difficult to research. And how geeky am I that I now can link "Domelle" to my own little surname page??? :-D

Here's who I got:

Alvin Robert Bozung - he's the son of my great-great-Aunt Lena Domelle Bozung. They lived in Ionia County, Michigan. He was only 18 when he did his application (1943) and was listed as "Unemployed". In my other records, he's listed as a WWII veteran, so I have the feeling he went off to war soon after this was filled out.

Martin Domele - He's the son of my great-grandfather's cousin John. They didn't have the extra "L" in Domelle. Who knows why, but it's very consistent in the records. He worked for the Appleton Electric Company in Chicago Illinois. He filled his application out in 1936, which is a good thing, because sadly, just 3 years later he died of a Ketroperitoneal Sarcoma.

Anthony John Domelle - This guy is my mystery Domelle. I have a great-Uncle Tony, who is also named Anthony John, but he was born in 1913, and this guy is born in 1899. But it is just too much of a coincidence, he is clearly related to my family, there just aren't extra Domelle's running around. Plus, his address is in Illinois, and all my Domelle's started out in the Illinois/Indiana/Michigan area. My great-great-grandfather is Adam Domelle, so maybe this Anthony John is the son of Adam's brother or something like that? We'll just have to see.

Mary Ann Domelle - She is my great-Aunt. Never married and apparently very artistic. Her application is signed: "Miss Mary Domelle". I had never had a middle name for her before, so I was happy to see the "Ann". I think it may have actually have been "Anna" for her Aunt Anna Domelle Tischler, but that's nit-picking. In 1937, the year of her application, she was working at "Montgomery Ward & Co." at 618 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. She was only 21 and living in the big city, I wonder if she was living with relatives, or alone? She was born in Indiana where her father and uncles had moved (from Chicago) to do farming.

Elizabeth Domelle - Only daughter of my great-great-uncle Nick Domelle and his second wife, Barbara Traum. She was working at Fuhrman & Forster Co. in Chicago, also living in Chicago. The year of her application is 1936, she was only 19 years old.

In case you were wondering, Fuhrman & Forster was a meatpacking plant. I hope Elizabeth worked in the office and not the factory floor!

Anna Domelle Tischler - They typed it as "Domlle" on her application. Twice. But here's the cool thing. She is my great-grandfather's sister. She came over unmarried through Ellis Island. I always knew that my great-great-grandfather was named Adam Domelle, she even listed her dad as her closest relative back home on the ship's passenger list. But I've had a lot more trouble with Anna's mom. My grandfather said his grandmother's name was "Christine Rizer". I found one record (my grandfather's uncle Nick) where she was listed as "Kristina Reiser". But now, I have Anna's social security application and she lists her mom as "Christina Risa". One important note, this app was typed, so it was an SS worker typing out what Anna said. But now I know I have something to work with - the Risa, Rizer, Reiser name. And it looks pretty certain that her name was Christina. yay!

Ferdinand Adam Tischler - This is my great-great-Aunt Anna Domelle Tischler's son. He has helped me greatly by listing a middle name for his mom Anna, which I had not seen before. He lists her as "Anna Magdaline Domelle". Magdalena was a very popular name in the region they came from, so it makes sense. Ferdinand lived in Michigan and worked at the Belding Foundry. On this app, his middle name is spelled "Adom", but since his grandfather's name was Adam, I'm making a bet it was supposed to be the same.

Here's a picture of the main street of Belding, Ionia County, Michigan in the 1940s:

And finally,

John Peter Tischler - Son of Anna Domelle Tischler, older brother to Ferdinand. He was also working in the Belding Foundry in Michigan. His application listed his mom's middle name as "Madeline", so it was fully anglicized by then.

Yay, lots of information! I'll be filling in my software as well as updating the Domelle wiki pages.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Came, I Saw, I Wiki'd

I was lured into joining Twitter not long ago because I didn't want to be left out. But I still maintain my rebel status because I refuse to follow Oprah or Aston Kutcher. I don't do too much on there, mainly I follow genealogists, a couple of twittering cats, and some pseudo-Christopher Walkens (I like to think my tastes are eclectic, which is a much nicer word than inconsistent or weird).

Whilst reading my tweets one day, I came across a genealogy wiki different from the one that I entered myself into before, this one you could create pages for each of your family members. I was intrigued and intimidated at the same time.

After registering, and with encouragement from the gentleman in charge of it, I dove in and started to create some pages for my Domelle line. I have to admit, I was scared! I don't know why, it's not like any mistakes I made couldn't be fixed and the world wasn't going to come to an end if I did something wrong. I know, I am a little uptight, I like things to be Right and Correct and if you aren't going to do it Properly, then don't bother doing it At All. The best part was that when I would go in the next day, magic elves (aka, Robin) would have fixed my grossest errors and explained to me how to do it right the next time. What a great guy!

And so, I debut for you, my in-progess collection of wiki pages on my Domelle family:

Domelle surname page

My great-great-grandfather: Adam Domelle
My great-grandfather: William Domelle
My great-great uncle: Nickolaus Domelle
My great-great aunt: Anna Domelle
My great-great aunt: Lena Domelle
My 1st cousin 3x removed: John Domele
My 2nd cousin 2x removed: Anthony Domele
My 2nd cousin 2x removed: Martin Domele

There is lots more to do, more info to fill out, more citations for information, but I think it's turning out pretty cool. And it gets the info out there in a way that others may understand better, rather than looking at my genealogy reports.

And I encourage others to try it out! I am a pseudo-technical person, I sound like I know what I'm talking about, but when it comes down to it, I don't actually know much at all about the guts behind things (like html, xml, shtml, abcdml, blahblahblahyoupeoplearemakingthisupml) on the web. But it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be once I dove in. I now know the power of these thingies: <> and these thingies: [].

The most amazing part though, is that it's actually helped me at work! Who knew? Suddenly I realized that I could actually contribute to our internal wiki because I actually knew how it worked now. I was in there today, creating new pages and linking and feeling awfully productive and contributory.

Hm. All Dis Infermashun Hard Tu Digest.
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Smile for the Camera - All Creatures Great and Small

This edition of Smile for the Camera suggests that we talk about family pets, so here goes:

I can't argue the fact that I am a cat person. There, I said it. Sometimes I feel like people make assumptions about you - dog people are friendly, gregarious, not afraid to get dirty. Cat people are prissy and clean and librarianish. Not that there's anything wrong with being librarianish, I actually like librarians and might even be one in the future. And I am not saying I don't like dogs, I have known some wonderful dogs in my life. I even worked at a vet for a short while during my mis-spent youth and there were a few dogs there that I totally fell in love with. But something else happened to me while I worked there....I developed an unreasonable aversion drool.

I'm sorry!!!! I'm not saying there's anything wrong with doggy drool! It's natural, it just happens! While I worked there, I never had a problem with all sorts of bodily fluids getting on me, some of them actually chunky if you really want to get gross. But dog drool??? AUGH! Blech! Urg.

One time a couple came in with their dry-mouth St. Bernard puppy. What a perfect little doggy he was!

But back to my main topic. Yes, I do love cats. I can laugh for hours at lolcat websites, it just never ceases to amuse me. Thank goodness I'm easily amused, can you imagine stomping through life sniffing at other people who laugh easily at dopey things? Poor fools.

I started off young with cats. This picture is of me and Rainbow. At least I think it's Rainbow. We were renting a farm that had barns and everything and the place came with a lot of resident cats. Even then I was being pushed out of bed by the cat.

After that we spent a lot of years in apartments and I always longed for cats. Once I was an adult (so to speak) and out on my own, I was able to indulge myself again.

One of the cats I've owned is this one, NooNoo. If she knew she was named for the vacuum cleaner on Teletubbies she would probably never show her face again because she imagines that she is far too dignified and princessy for that kind of nonsense. One of her things is that any time you put a pillow on the floor, she will perch on it. NooNoo rarely relaxes, she's always perching somewhere, like a vulture, waiting and watching. This particular pose is one I like to call "sausage kitty" because it appears she has no legs.

My sister also inherited a love for cats. Despite being allergic, she has three, yes, three cats. She had them in a tiny apartment, fortunately now she lives in a house.

The black one is Phoebe, who is dignified and probably related to NooNoo. Mels is the white one, she is sweet and kind and loves to moosh her face into your feet. Danny is the laid-back orange cat. Phoebe has never cared much for Danny, or for Mels for that matter, or pretty much for anyone or anything, other than my sister and her hair which Phoebe likes to gnaw on while she sleeps. While my sister sleeps, that is, not Phoebe. Notice the laser beams shooting out of Phoebe's eyes in this picture at the back of an uncaring Danny's head. Like most men he is totally unaware and uncaring. I say that with love and affection, men. Really. I love you guys.

Sadly, Danny passed away just this week. He had health problems and has gone to kitty heaven. But not to worry, my sister is determined to continue the fight to the death with her allergies and has adopted a new member of the family, Ginger. She's peppy and kittenish. The kitten I mean. Actually, so is my sister. Phoebe, naturally, dislikes Ginger. But in Phoebe's old age, she's loosened up, she actually headbutts my nephew now. And if you are a cat person, you know how significant that is. Another 4 or 5 years, maybe my niece will get the same. :-) Cats are great.

"There is, incidently, no way of talking about cats that enables one to come off as a sane person."
- Dan Greenberg

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Importance of Not Being Esoteric

So anyway, I was told by someone-who-shall-not-be-named (Hi Dad!!! wave-wave-wave) that my tags for this blog were....ahem...esoteric.

I cannot tell a lie, I had to look it up.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, it means:
1a: designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone
b: requiring or exhibiting knowledge that is restricted to a small group: difficult to understand
2a: limited to a small circle
3: of special, rare or unusual interest

huh. Someone-who-shall-not-be-named is calling me difficult to understand? Somewhere around here there's a metal container for heating food making comments about the coloring of a container that heats water shaped in such a way as to make a high-pitched noise once the water is boiling. Yeah that's right, I went there! :-)

Now, normally I would think it's cool to be part of a small exclusive group, but I guess if it's a blog on genealogy, it would probably help to provide metadata that is understandable by most, if not all.

Oh yeah, I tend to use the term metadata because that's what I say at work. We used to use "keywords" in the old days, but now we are too cool for that because we are so way more technical than we used to be and now we use "metadata". Except that the next standard we'll be using for submitting data to FDA uses "keyword" again. So much for moving forward. But I won't think about that until tomorrow, or maybe next year.

By the way, is it "metadata" or is it "meta data"? I've seen it written both ways by people who are infinitely more technical than me. With the english language, we tend to create new words by smooshing together two old words. For a while we might put a dash in between, but then we'll lose the dash and have a whole new word. Remember when we wrote "E-mail"? That's too many letters of course. Now we write "email". I figured we were way past writing "meta data", but maybe I'm ahead of myself.

I've also noticed also that other places in the wide world of the internet also use the phrases "labels" and "tags" for keywords and metadata. Can we pick just one please? I'm going to vote for "tags" because it's only one syllable and really short so I don't have to spend so much time typing. I know, I know, you're wondering, 'how can she care about keeping words short and not typing when she just goes on and on about nothing?' I guess it's all part of my esotericness!

So I will go in and make adjustments to my tags for my blog so that others can more easily find what they might possibly be looking for, because after all, I really do want things to be easily found. Otherwise, I won't be helping others who might be interested in the same thing topics I am!