Monday, October 27, 2008

A lead to Eislingen...

Posted by Craig on 10/27/2008 0 comments
The FamilySearch Labs project is certainly an exciting one, as it provides glimpses of what genealogy research might be like on the Web in 5-10 years from now (and beyond).

Millions of records are being digitally scanned and transcribed onto the site. Volunteers can sign up to help create the indexes at FamilySearch Indexing. I've already transcribed about 1,700 names to help with the effort. It's easy to do and it's fun to help.

I've had success with the new indexes before, and I had success after poking around the site tonight. Fellow Württemberg researchers who might be familiar with the region I'm about to address - the Jagstkreis/Donaukreis area - I'm sure will appreciate this.

I checked the new Germany birth/marriage indexes (1700-1900) for members of my Biser/Bieser family. My 4th-great-grandfather Andreas Bieser was born in a small village called Wäschenbeuren in 1799, and his family had lived there for over 150 years.

The index turned up a new lead for me and a new town: Eislingen. My ancestors Joseph Bieser and Eva Hockenmaier, who were both born in Wäschenbeuren and married there in 1722, had 10 children, but I've only found 3 (Michael, Lucia, Anna) to date to remain in Wäschenbeuren. I've long wondered what happened to the rest.

Apparently, two relocated to Eislingen. Elisabeth Bieser married Xavier Mayrhoefer in Eislingen in 1754, and the record states she was the daughter of Joseph and Eva. It's a match. A younger child of Joseph and Eva is also found, and his parents again are identified on the marriage record (thankfully) - Anton Bieser married Ottilia Gassenmayer in Eislingen in 1770.

Just like that, I have a new town to research. If I'm interested in later checking out possible descendants of Elisabeth and Anton, and distant relatives of mine (and I am if I get the chance), I can order Eislingen records and go at it. There's a number of Bieser's in the Midwest and elsewhere in the U.S. that I'd love to connect to, and perhaps Eislingen's where I need to start.

It's all thanks to the FamilySearch Labs project. It's a great one. Check it out some time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My 10-year anniversary...

Posted by Craig on 10/22/2008 0 comments
I started researching my family history in Oct. 1998. It's now Oct. 2008.

It's been a wild ride and a quite enjoyable experiencing learning about my family's past and being able to connect with so many relatives - both immediate and distant.

The Internet has lent itself perfectly to such a hobby. There's no question about it. This is where I've made the majority of my people-to-people connections. While some people joke that genealogy is all about "dead people," I think it's the exchange between living people - and learning more about their lives - that makes it so special.

As a wise man from Connecticut, John Payne, commented in my first blog entry - we're all related if you go back far enough. It couldn't be more true. And when you have two people as different as, say, Barack Obama and my girlfriend Nicole - and they're distantly related - and you're able to prove that - it's just so much fun to trace your family's past to see who you might be related to and where your ancestors fit into history.

For now, I celebrate. But once you catch the bug, there's no going back. There's no question about it; this will be a lifelong hobby for me. I look forward to what discoveries and links the future will bring!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Social networking and genealogy

Posted by Craig on 10/10/2008 10 comments
Punch the word 'genealogy' into the growing social networking site Ning, and you'll find dozens of results.

Ning allows Internet users to create their own social networking site. People are using that to create sites for their own families, for genealogy and technology, and for researching family history in general.

Then there's Facebook, which of course has taken off exponentially in the last few years. There's applications that users can put in their profiles, like "We're related." Here's what mine looks like:

Is this the future of genealogy? I mentioned in my last entry that it seems to be dying down in popularity on the Web. But maybe that's because it's just growing in new areas, like social networking.

Social networking and genealogy are obviously a natural marriage. They make sense to go together. Long lost cousins have the chance to create profiles, post their respective trees, and connect. It opens up exciting new doors in the world of genealogy. And I think there will be a lot more of it to come in the next few years.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why is genealogy on the decline?

Posted by Craig on 10/01/2008 0 comments
Not long ago, it was heralded as the fastest growing hobby in America - thanks to the revival genealogy got through the Internet. Heck, that's how I got really hooked into the hobby - when a distant cousin of my dad's, Shannon Courtney of New Mexico, contacted us looking for info.

My interest in genealogy started as a school project and it gained legs thanks to computers and the Internet. I was able to chart my family history through Family Tree Maker (I now use Reunion) and contact people across the globe to try to make connections through the Web.

But why is this incredibly popular hobby on the decline? At least that's what Google Trends tell us.

Google Trends tracks stats for the most searched terms and most popular Web sites. Here's what comes up when "genealogy" is punched into this database:

Why the downward spiral? Is it the economy? The War in Iraq - people's attention being diverted to other things? Maybe something else? I can't put my figure on it. Anybody have any thoughts?

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