30 September 2014

My Genealogy Sabbatical Year

If you could spend each of the next twelve months living in one of your ancestral locations and researching on-site, where would you go? 

Join me as we dream up our genealogy sabbatical years. The rules for the genealogy sabbatical year meme are that you have enough money to support yourself and you are free of regular life responsibilities. There is nothing that will distract you from your mission, family history immersion research. 

Month 1: Connecticut         
My first stop would be the state of Connecticut. It isn’t far from New Hampshire, but life responsibilities keep me from spending an extended amount of time there. My paternal grandfather’s lines are embedded in Connecticut for generations. My mother’s parents’ families settled in Connecticut in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Both sides immigrated to Connecticut, her mother’s from Prussia, today Poland; her father’s mother’s family from Ireland to Canada to Vermont and then to Connecticut; and her father’s father’s family from Ireland.

Month 2: Massachusetts
The second month would find me next door in Massachusetts. My paternal grandmother’s roots are here. Her mother’s family came from Northern Ireland in the late 1800s, while her father’s family has been here for generations.

Month 3: New York
I was well into Northern Ireland in my mental trip planning, when I realized that before I headed to Ireland, I must go to New York. My grandfather’s maternal grandmother died with child at a young age so we didn’t learn a lot about her family from family lore. Her mother’s maiden name was Diamond, which brought us the only family story I have heard which was that she was related to the family of the Diamond match company. I have not found that connection. The Diamonds and Murtaghs most likely arrived in New York between 1830 and 1840. My Murtagh 2x great grandfather's headstone indicates he was from Old Ballinacargy, County Westmeath, Ireland

Months 4-5: Poland and Germany
After gathering all that I can in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York with a possible side trip to Rhode Island during one of the first two months, I would spend the next months in Poland and Germany. Both of my maternal grandmother’s parents came from the area of Włocławek near the Wisła or Vistula River. While I can get along in German and can roughly translate Russian, I would need assistance with Polish records. Luckily, per the rules of the genealogy sabbatical year, I can afford to hire a guide or a local genealogist.  Germany is included in this research plan because these grandparents were Germans from Russia, or Prussia, or Poland, depending on the year. While further research is needed to determine their German ancestral origin, part of my family fled the Soviets before WWII and went back to Germany, where they ended up living in the East until 1990 when the two sides reunited shortly after the wall began to come down in 1989. There is both modern and ancient family history to pursue, including known living relatives.

Month 6: Canada
From Poland or Germany, I would fly back to Canada and visit Quebec and Ontario. My grandfather’s grandfather was born in Montreal, while the family was migrating from St. Columban, Quebec to Vermont. The story is that the family arrived in Canada in the late 1820s from Freshford, Kilkenny,Ireland. I am hoping to hunt down some records regarding their early time in Canada and firm up the connection back to Ireland.

Month 7: Northern Ireland
From Canada after a possible stop south of the boarder in Vermont, I would head to Northern Ireland. My grandmother’s mother, Mabel Hill, was born in Belfast and Mabel’s father, William Hill, was born in Ballymoney. The Hill family had been there since at least the early 1800s. They were Presbyterians. They were most likely English or Scottish. William, his wife Annie, and Mabel oft repeated for American records that they were English. William’s middle name was McPherson. Annie’s maiden name was Connor(s) and had family living in Scotland. I hope to find Annie’s birth record and learn more about where her family’s origins as well as the origins of the Hill family.

Month 8: Ireland
From Northern Ireland I would head south to Ireland in pursuit of my Catholic forebears. I have two known possible towns to explore. Hopefully further research in New York and Connecticut would reveal more information about the origins of my grandfather’s father’s family. They were Smiths, so it shouldn’t be that difficult.

Months 9-10: Scotland and England
Until now during my genealogy sabbatical year I have been working on locating the ancestral origins of my great through 3x great grandparents. If I have learned enough in Connecticut, Massachusetts and in Northern Ireland, I may be able to head to Scotland and/or England to learn about the places from which my earlier ancestors hailed.

Months 11-12: Revisit or Recap
I would use this time to revisit the documents, narrative research notes, photographs and connections I have amassed throughout the year. I would focus on organizing and filing or displaying as well as editing the narrative research notes. The notes would serve as a basis for my finding reports. 

Time for Your Genealogy Sabbatical Year
How would you spend your genealogy sabbatical year? Where would you go? What would you do? Dream big!

Have fun dreaming and planning and let us know where you will be. 

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

22 September 2014

How to Find a Genealogy Record Group on Almost Any Website

Have you had trouble relocating a genealogy record group on a website? My hard-to-find record group is the New England Petitions for Naturalization 1787-1931 on FamilySearch.org. I can easily find the Index for this collection, but not the images. When I use FamilySearch.org, I usually search by locality as follows; 
  • hover over search
  • click catalog
  • click places
  • fill in United States, New England
  • click on Naturalization and citizenship

The images are not listed. What to do?

Collection or Record Group Finding Shortcut

In the search bar of your browser, enter the collection you seek enclosed by "" followed by site:website address.

The top three search results will take you to the access point for the petition for naturalization images. The catalog page for this collection of images shows it is catalogued by the New England states, but not by New England. 

What is your hard-to-find genealogy record group? Remember to try searching with "collection name" site:website address

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

04 September 2014

Photo Scanning - ScanMyPhotos.com Review

This summer ScanMyPhotos.com offered a great deal; $99.00 for a postage paid box to hold 1,800 of my photos for scanning. Their website shows that they are still offering this deal. 

My family and I have used FotoBridge for slide scanning and were happy with their service. I wrote a review in 2011. This time I decided to try ScanMyPhotos.com and sent photos for scanning, so this is not an apples to apples comparison, but a review of the ScanMyPhotos.com service and scanning results. I am not being paid and was not asked for this review. I ordered my $99 box on 25 June 2014 and received it very quickly on 27 June. 

The $99 price was my incentive to go through my old magnetic albums and remove the stuck on photos from the yellow tinged pages. Before I removed the pictures from the pages, I snapped an iPhone photo of each page. 


ScanMyPhotos.com requires that photos be grouped by size. Because most of my photos were already organized chronologically (something I have been doing since the age of 9) I did not want to lose that organization to size grouping. ScanMyPhotos.com offers a scan in order option for an additional fee of $50. When I double checked this price today, I found some confusing links. One link reported that they no longer offer this option, while another indicated the price was $315. I contacted customer service and they do still offer it, but the price is now $55

This is a picture of a large group of mixed pictures being sorted by size. The smaller photos pictured, or wallet type photos, can not be scanned. Photos must be at least 3"x3". 

For the scan in order option, each group of photos must be clearly numbered. I used index cards before each group and included a additional information such as years. Only elastic bands can be used and not plastic bags. The directions indicate that if plastic bags are used, the photos will be returned unscanned. I did not like the sole use of rubber bands. When I sent the photos I was careful to put the elastic bands around the photos in one direction, the short way, or the way that all photos were the same. When returned all of the photo groups were bound in two directions causing some damage to the photo edges. I also did not love how the photos were repacked into the box. The groups were bent in several cases. Luckily none of the damage was too severe. 

The only other damage I found was that a corner of one photo was torn. I received the photo minus the small corner piece, but the piece is visible in the scan. The artifacts are part of the original photo and not caused by the scan. I cannot say for certain that there wasn't a weakness in the photo in that spot. 

Because of the elastic bands around the photos, the way they were packed back into the box and the fact that one of the groups, group 10 below, although scanned correctly was not regrouped correctly, I feel that my photos did not get super duper careful handling.  


Because we had a big family event, I added the $40 fee to rush my order. I did not write down how many days it took, but it was super fast. 


In conclusion, if you have a large number of photos to be scanned and they are not already in chronological order, ScanMyPhotos.com would be a good option. I feel that they do a better job with the photos grouped by exact size. They had difficulty keeping everything in order for the return. For the money, the $99 box for 1,800 photos is an exceptional value. 

Comparison to FotoBridge.com

Today's price on FotoBridge.com for 2,000 photos at 300dpi is $349.95, a significant difference. The package at FotoBridge.com includes 2 jpg sizes, one at 300dpi and one web ready for uploading to social media sites and sharing via email. The photo size allowed has a broader range from 2" x 2.5" to 8.5" x 12". Important to me for my next order is that FotoBridge.com requests that photo groups be grouped, if possible, by size and that the groups be sealed in plastic bags, no nasty rubber bands required! Scanning in order does not require an extra charge. An additional service they offer is text note archiving wherein they scan the reverse of each photo and link it by name to the front. This seems reasonable at a cost of $99.

Please remember, there is always a risk of loss or damage when sending photos away to any company

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

03 September 2014

Family History Stories

Just a quick hello to say I have been enjoying organizing photos and memories for telling more family history stories. 

What have you been working on?

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

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