Saturday, March 31, 2012

Patents - Your Inventive Ancestors

Did your ancestor invent something? You might be surprised if you've never previously searched the U.S. Patent Office database for your ancestor's name. My brother Jeff and I have recently been discussing our Smith ancestors, who operated a large glass bending and beveling company in Newark, New Jersey during the late 19th and early 20th century. Jeff discovered that our great-grandfather, Charles Henry Smith, had a patent for a glass-beveling machine (Patent #673298, issued April 30, 1901). I decided to see if great-granddad (or any of the other Smiths) had any other patents associated with the business, so I searched using Google Patent Search at, and discovered an earlier patent (#373695, issued November 22, 1887) for a glass bending and annealing furnace. If you've discovered a patent among your ancestors, why not tell me about it in a comment?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Citing sources on a blog

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity last Monday to present a webinar for the folks of the Georgia Genealogical Society on the topic of using a blog as a genealogical research log, and the questions asked by attendees (where there wasn't enough time to answer them during the presentation) were sent to me by Linda Geiger, so that I could address them here on my own blog.  So here we go:

The question was asked whether or not one would cite sources on a blog.  Absolutely!  You could do this in one of two ways.  You could either do it somewhat formally by following an accepted standard (such as the one documented in Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained) and including that at the end of the posting (or parenthetically in the text of the posting adjacent to the fact being cited), or somewhat informally by providing the details for the citation as part of the discussion of the information and its source.  Because the typical blog posting is generally only about a screenful in length, either method would work.  What is important is that the reader can accurately link the citation to the information provided in the posting. You don't want to run the risk of the information getting separated from its source.

For instance, I might talk about my great-great-grandmother Mary Ann Reilly Smith, and refer to some facts about her life in this way: "I recently learned some new information about my great-great-grandmother from an article entitled "One Woman's Work" in the (Newark, NJ) Sunday Call, September 28, 1890, page 9, column 3.  It said...".  Even better would be to include a link to the source or to include the image of the source itself in the posting.