March 5, 2014
Upcoming Meetings --
Sunday, March 16, 10 a.m. -- Frederick Hertz, Finding David Blumenfeld
Sunday, April 20, 10 a.m. -- Lynn Brown -- U.S. Citizenship Records
Sunday, May 18, 10 a.m. -- Leon Malmed, Secret Story: Hiding in France Under the German Occupation
Sunday, June 15, 10 a.m. -- Steve Morse, The Julian Calendar and Importance to Genealogists
Location: Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright Street, Sacramento
Notes from February 16, 2014
President Victoria Fisch welcomed members and guests and shared information about upcoming genealogy presentations at the Sacramento Central Library, including free consultations. For details,
go to www.saclibrary.org.
Gerry Ross wanted to thank members again for donating the Netflix subscription to Einstein residents. The showing of "Captain Phillips" last night drew great attendance.
Teven Laxer and Mort Rumberg brought in cards to sign for Bob Wascou, who is recuperating in the hospital following surgery. Bob can't yet have calls or visitors but does appreciate cards.
Judy Persin has graciously agreed to take over as interim treasurer, filling in behind Bob.
Teven also noted that the Jewish Film Festival is coming up at the Crest Theater March 6-9. You can preorder tickets -- this is the 14th year.
February Speaker -- Heidi Lyss
"Writing Family History"
Heidi teaches creative writing and has an MFA in creative writing/fiction. Her day job is working for Kaiser in Oakland.
She asked the group, "What do we mean by a family history?" She said we can focus on one person and part of their life, or a family cluster, or include a blend of fact and fiction.
"What do we mean by narrative?" It could be a spoken or written account of connected events, and challenges faced.
"Why write?" It's a natural way to share information --people think in story frames. And in writing in narrative form, we often discover gaps in our research.
Heidi said young adults are not interested in a snapshot approach -- they often want one topic, one story.
Heidi said you should know who your audience is. It's important to what details you include. Is the audience family, friends, specialty groups, local/regional people, the general public?
Who are you writing about? Start with whatever intrigues you or inspires you the most.
How to get started -- With a person, family object, or time period/event.
Then collect information, read stories, especially from that time period. Create an outline if that helps you.
If it involves conjecture, you may want a disclaimer, such as saying this is how you imagined it.
You can do a timeline of historic events (the person arrived at the battle of Fort Sumter …)
You can arrange original texts in sequences, can also write as poems.
recipes, photos, documents, family trees
What was life like in the home?
Other ways to structure your story -- family items passed down through generations, religious or secular holidays and how they were celebrated, maps and places, journeys, letters/journal entries.
Or pose a larger question-- maybe there's something you want to know about your family.
Drafts -- do different drafts, set aside, get feedback
Sharing the story is more important than revising and revising.
Most of the time the final beginning is written well after you've done the first draft.
What's in a story?
People -- do they seem like real people?
Heroic journey -- call to adventure, mention trials, successes and failures
Point of view -- 1st, 2nd, 3rd person
Historical writing -- setting, characters and experiences, voices and use of language
Read contemporary writings on daily life (Mark Twain in Virginia City)
Language -- hone on subsequent drafts
-- show rather than tell
-- search for where you can use strong verbs
-- replace cliches with fresher language
-- check dialogue and make sure it's necessary
Lapham's Quarterly --excerpts on writing about a topic across time. Can find at Barnes and Noble.
Back up files -- also email to yourself. Print out copies from time to time, store in two or more places.
If you sell your book, get an ISBN number.
On copyright questions, websites can help you, such as one from Cornell University.
Heidi concluded: "Just start writing -- writing something and it will be a value to someone."
Some articles that may be of interest:
Inmates Stay Busy at Davis County Jail by Indexing Records for Mormon Genealogy Databases
By Ben Lockhart, Standard-Examiner
FARMINGTON, Utah — Several months ago, Davis County Deputy Chief Kevin Fielding met with a representative from a nearby school who expressed concerns about being so close to the county jail.
Fielding, who oversees all operations at the jail, took the concern in stride.
"Come on," he told her, "let me show you our facility."
After meeting a young lady who was an inmate in the prison and speaking with her briefly, the woman from the school seemed visibly shaken.
"She could hardly even talk to me," Fielding said.
After some prompting, the woman choked out: "She seemed so normal."
Fielding earned a hearty laugh with that anecdote as he shared it Feb. 26 with county jail volunteers, an audience familiar with inmates and able to compare public perception to what they see
on a weekly basis.
Fielding was encouraging volunteers, attending their annual training session at the Davis County Justice Center, to remember precisely who their service was being rendered to.
"The vast majority (of inmates) are pretty decent people, and they want these programs," Fielding said. "Most of them just made a couple mistakes."
More than 150 volunteers attended the meeting, receiving both praise for their work with prisoners and training for the coming year. Others will attend their mandatory training later this week;
in all, 216 people volunteer at the jail, excluding contracted employees. Volunteers largely consist of religious instructors, substance abuse prevention supervisors and education counselors.
"These programs really do reduce recidivism," said Deputy Scott Manfull, who supervises each of the programs, noting Davis County holds more such activities than any other jail in the state.
"Every (program) I've asked for, I've got," Manfull told those gathered. "That's because of you guys and I really appreciate it."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is now offering a family history indexing course at the jail in addition to its typical ministry work there. Instructors ask inmates to sift through
records up to hundreds of years old and determine names as part of the religion's genealogy work.
The LDS Church proposed the unique program to the Utah Sheriff's Association in 2012 and worked to provide laptops and other equipment. Fielding said a large concern was restricting live internet
access to the genealogy records themselves, and that the classes took off in 2013 after that security precaution was finalized.
2,255 names were catalogued by Davis County inmates in 2013, and 174,939 were completed throughout the state. The LDS Church said it expects that figure to balloon to about 2 million statewide
The volunteer couple for the indexing course in Davis County, Brent and Chris, asked that their last name be withheld for security purposes. They have been working on indexing with inmates since
August in once per week sessions of no more than 90 minutes. They typically have between six and 12 students attend the sessions; no more than sixteen inmates are allowed in one classroom at a time.
"We emphasize to them that they're doing a service, that anybody can access the names" once they're catalogued, Chris said. "There are several of them that really get into it. It breaks up the
Records from the United States or Great Britain are typically used, but the names have not been restricted to English speaking countries. Inmates work hard to decipher some Spanish and Italian
spellings, and the very oldest English records are also difficult to work through, Brent said.
"With some of this Old English you get to where you don't recognize some of the letters," he said. "Some are very hard to read."
Kane County inmates indexed the majority of genealogical names in Utah during 2013, completing 138,147. Inmates at Weber County's jail and work release locations indexed a combined 6,115 in that
Gaming for genealogy: Helping bring genealogy to a digital generation
Published: Monday, Feb. 10 2014 2:13 p.m. MST
D. Joshua Taylor thinks using gaming with genealogy can make traditional research and documents "come alive."
People often consider family history and genealogy to be more popular among an older generation, but D. Joshua Taylor thinks there may be a way to change this thinking.
People often consider family history and genealogy to be more popular among an older generation,
but D. Joshua Taylor believes there may be a way to change this thinking.
Taylor, president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the data strategy manager for
findmypast.com, told RootsTech
conference attendees on Feb. 6 that he thinks this gap can be bridged by something young people are already doing: gaming.
According to Taylor, gaming has the potential to cross the age and interest gap in genealogy and can show people that family history is about more than just names and dates.
"It will really make family history 'come alive,' if you will," Taylor said.
Taylor highlighted several ways gaming is similar to family history.
Like family history, gaming takes people to "another world" or something outside their present reality. Similarly, gaming and family history both have an element of learning and discovery.
Also like gaming, genealogists are often community centered. Taylor mentioned that genealogists index, help others learn, network and attend conferences — all together.
“If you look at genealogists at all, we’re one of the most generous groups of people with our time. … We like to build communities,” he said.
Games are often rooted in building communities and building friendships, even though they can be based in the virtual world.
Taylor also said there is at least one way in which family history and genealogy are significantly different. Taylor said to keep up interest, a gamer must be able to have an end point where
they "beat the game." Family history work, on the other hand, is never really done.
However, even if a gamer completes a game, there can always be the opportunity to begin another game.
One of Taylor's most compelling arguments for introducing gaming to genealogy was that current family history methods need to speak to a “new generation of genealogists.” The upcoming generation
has been involved in the digital world since birth, and many of them have hardly any experience with physical records.
“We have to build genealogy for a generation that’s never gone into a library, never gone to a courthouse,” he said.
Another argument in favor of gaming's potential is that games could increase the perceived interaction between the historian and the ancestor. The connection between people and records can
be difficult for some researchers to establish, especially when they are young. A game would give historians a seemingly real interaction with past people, events and places.
Taylor also discussed adapting games to help record our "living memory."
“The millenials will probably write about themselves more than any other generation,” he said. However, he then said they will do so through tweets and Facebook statuses, instead of journals.
He cautioned that unless people find a way to capture that living memory, it will be lost. Taylor suggested gaming could be a way to record personal histories without it seeming like a formal
interview or something on a to-do list.
“You can get a lot of information from someone when you don’t tell someone you’re doing a family history interview,” he said.
Alison Moore is a writer for the Faith and Family sections at
is studying journalism and editing at Brigham Young University. EMAIL: amoore@...
See you Sunday, March 16!