Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Home-grown obituaries and online newspaper databases

When my mother passed away last June, my brother asked if I would write her obituary. After my having read and used countless obituaries as part of my genealogical research, this was my first time in writing one, and I was certainly aware that I needed to include all of the most useful information for future genealogists and family historians. This obituary is preserved in the archives of my hometown's local newspaper, the Newberry Observer. Fortunately, the contents of the Observer are available going back to the beginning of 2006 in the Access World News database (a NewsBank product), which I can access from home thru my local public library or thru the academic library at the university where I work. Here is the text of Mom's obituary:

Newberry Observer, The (SC) - June 18, 2007

NEWBERRY - Corinne Martin Smith, 86, of Newberry, widow of George Smith, died Saturday, June 16, 2007. Altha Corinne Martin was born on Dec. 19, 1920, in Newberry County in Moon Township near Chappells. Youngest of seven children, she was the daughter of George Washington Martin and Elizabeth Estelle King. She grew up in the Mollohon Village neighborhood of Newberry and graduated from Newberry High School in 1938. She married George Thomas Smith of Newark, N.J. on Jan. 31, 1943, at Epting Memorial Methodist Church in Newberry. After World War II, she and her husband established their home in East Orange, N.J., but in 1960 the Smiths returned to Newberry, where they lived the remainder of their lives. For many years, Mrs. Smith was employed as a ward secretary at Newberry County Memorial Hospital. Her husband, George, passed away in 1999.

Mrs. Smith was an avid reader of mysteries, and was well known throughout Newberry for her annual Christmas tradition of making cookies to be distributed to friends and local businesses. She was a longtime member of the Mt. Bethel-Garmany Home Demonstration Club, and of Epting Memorial United Methodist Church and its Mary Addison Circle.

Mrs. Smith is survived by her sons William Jeffrey "Jeff" Smith of Newberry and Andrew Martin "Drew" Smith of Tampa, Fla. and by many nieces and nephews.

Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Newberry Memorial Gardens. Memorials may be made to the Newberry County Library, 1300 Friend St., Newberry, SC 29108.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Preservation and storage

While at the nearby Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft superstore yesterday, I purchased a 12" by 12" "E-Z Load Memory Book" manufactured by Pioneer Photo Albums. It advertises itself to be of archival quality (acid, lignin, and PVC free). So I now have a place to put the physical photo of my grandparents' family. Since I won't need the album very often, I've put it on a bookshelf on the other side of my home office. Once I've cleaned out and made some room in the office closet, it may end up there.

The size of the pages means that I can use the same album to store originals of other kinds of documents.

To Do: Go thru existing files and locate, digitize, and store original documents.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Starting points, family photos, scanning, and Paint.NET

One of my favorite family photos is the last picture (to my knowledge) taken of my maternal grandparents and all 7 of their children (including my mother, the youngest of the 7). I was present at the time this picture was taken, and it was taken in the home of my grandparents in Newberry, South Carolina. Because Granddaddy Martin died on 12 November 1964, I know that the photo was taken before then, but I don't know the exact date on which it was taken.

I have scanned a copy of this photo (which had been printed onto an 8.5x11-inch sheet of photo paper) using my HP PSC 950 multifunction printer, and then used Paint.NET (free imaging software) to crop the actual image.

To Do: Preserve the printed copy of the photo using archivally safe storage.

In the photo, seated left to right are Mattie Cleo Martin McLeod (Aunt Cleo), Elizabeth Estelle King Martin (Grandmother Martin), George Washington Martin (Granddaddy Martin), and Altha Corinne Martin Smith (Mom). Standing behind them, left to right, are Walter Lee Martin (Uncle Walter), Anna Naomi Martin Tollison (Aunt Naomi), George Ernest Martin (Uncle Ernest), Marion Virginia Martin LeValley (Aunt Jenny), and Robert Ansel Martin (Uncle Ansel). My mother, who passed away last June, was the last surviving member of this family.

One funny story about this photo worth preserving: Aunt Jenny (my favorite aunt) was not wearing a dress that day (she was likely wearing shorts), so when it came time for the family photo, she needed to borrow the black dress and white plastic belt from her niece (Aunt Naomi's daughter, Billy Jean Tollison Goss). When Aunt Jenny passed away in early 1992, it was then that I first began doing serious genealogical research.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Bad Side

In the same room as the "neat" side of the office (the side with the computer desk, printer desk, and credenza) is the "messy" side, as pictured here. This will be the challenge for 2008.

Organizing and Starting Anew

I've renamed this blog to focus a bit less on my personal genealogy (although I will continue to use the blog for that purpose), but to focus a bit more on the methods of genealogy. Few people will read a blog about someone else's research unless they can learn from the process.

At the same time, I'm long overdue for cleaning up the mess in half my home office. So this blog will also serve to motivate that process. We'll begin with a photo of the good side of the office and another of the bad side.