Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ancestry's Commercials

Have you noticed that has changed their advertisement?? Remember how their commercial used to say "You don't have to know what you're looking for. You just have to look."? Well, that just enraged many, many professional genealogists & librarians. YES! You do have to know what you're looking for or you will end up with a very fractured, inaccurate family history! So many us of groaned and moaned for several years. I don't know if Ancestry heard our complaints or it was just time for a new commercial, but their ads have changed.

Now they proclaim that their leaf, that shows up to lead to possible new links, is "called a hint." This is much better! See the link:!client/ancestry-com

But if you have ever been to Gettysburg, you know that this re-enactment in their commercial is inaccurate on many levels. First of all, the ad shows a relatively flat landscape and Gettysburg has rolling hills. The place was packed the day of Lincoln's speech. And there are no concretely proved pictures of Lincoln giving his address.

There is one very blurry photo that pictures a very tall man surrounded by throngs of people, most of whom are other men. Lincoln is suppossed to be the bare headed man in the middle. And it could be. But the picture is so blurry that it could be any tall man. To me, that man's face is fuller than any other depiction I have ever seen of Lincoln. This picture is at the Smithsonian and is attributed to Photograph: Mathew B Brady/Bettmann/Corbis

Also, the scenario with the photographer is bogus. I haven't researched it myself, but others have:

After all this complaining it is only fair to state that I do not hate Ancestry.  It is one of my favorite genealogy databases and I use the Library Edition nearly every day at work and for my personal research.

Some people may see the criticisms as harsh and too bogged down in details. But genealogy research is all about the details. And if you are the #1 genealogy company in the world you better get them right!

Saturday, November 15, 2014


The Medina Library is very fortunate to have a large collection of Medina High School Yearbooks. The earliest dates to 1913. We thank the many, many people who donate them to the library! One member (you know who you are, Anne!) calls me whenever she sees Medina yearbooks at any of the antique shops. Thank you also!

A few years are missing from our collection. So if you frequent antique shops or flea markets, keep an eye out for these years: 1934, 1959, 1966, 1976, 1994, 1999.  

Think about this for a minute...

Tracking down the yearbook for your great grandparents. First, there will be a picture. Probably a photo that you have never seen before. You will discover what school activities they were involved in. Was your grandfather the class president or the class clown??  Was grandma in the dramatic club or the Honor Society? You will see their fellow students. Did any of them play a role in your grandparents lives after school? You just don't know what you will discover!

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Are you a huge fan of the Finding Your Roots television show like I am?  Do you try to NEVER miss an episode? That would be me!

But I work every Tuesday night, and so I never see the episodes as they are aired. Luckily for me, and anyone else who has a standing Tuesday night commitment, PBS, who hosts the show, makes the episodes available on their website,

I am watching the current episode that aired just last night on my iPad during my breaks. And I can catch up on the ones I missed while I was on vacation. Don't you just LOVE PBS??

Monday, November 10, 2014


But not tomorrow! Tomorrow is November 11th and all of the Medina County District Libraries are closed for Staff Development Day. Once every two years the library dedicates one day to training their staff on new library developments and technology. We see fellow staff members that we never get to see and we network about system-wide issues. It is a very rewarding day!

But every other Tuesday for the past year, either Lisa Rienerth or I, has staffed the Franklin Sylvester Room from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.. We answer members genealogy questions, great and small. From "My father's cousin's grandson is what relation to me?", to "Help me find my immigrant grandfather who stowed away on a boat."  Last week I worked on a version of the later question and it was a fascinating journey for both of us. The great grandfather was Greek and we did find his home town and date of naturalization. And we were thrilled!

These sessions are challenging and gratifying. For the newbies, we get an opportunity to start them on the path to a incredible journey of discovery. For the seasoned researcher, we offer a fresh set of eyes and a different perspective on their problem. For the member with a brick wall, we often refer them to resources and archives they did not know about.

But, PLEASE, don't arrive at a quarter til 4 and expect us to do miracle work for you! We're good, but we are not miracle workers!!

Friday, November 7, 2014

In Honor of Veterans' Day

In honor of Veterans Day, the Medina County Veterans Service Center is displaying military items in the cabinets outside of the Franklin Sylvester Room. These items date from World War II. It is a wonderful display and highlights many of the services the center offers to our local veterans.  Remember to thank a veteran for serving our country.

Wonder why the cigarettes???  They were included in the C Rations handed out to soldiers and sailors. Common perception at the time was that smoking cigarettes was calming in times of stress. More information can be found here:  My father, who joined the US. Navy near the end of the war always smoked Lucky Strikes. I wonder if this is the reason why. Luckily, this practice was discontinued in 1972.

The Sep/Oct 2014 issue of Family Chronicle Magazine talks about how sending cigarettes overseas to the soldiers was considered a vital part of the war effort during World War II.

I am so glad that the practice of handing cigarettes to service members was discontinued before four of my siblings and I served in the military!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Jean Cooper Post Card Collection

Jean Cooper, a long time library volunteer, donated her collection of Medina Post Cards to the local history collection. Focusing strongly on post cards of Medina City Schools, the collection also depicts local landmarks and industries. Originally kept in a 3-ring binder, the collection will eventually be digitized. For now it is on display in the cabinets inside the Franklin Sylvester Room. Take a look! How many of the buildings do you recognize?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

You might be a genealogist if...

How many of you are fans of Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck if…” comedy routine? Okay, I am probably revealing my own ancestral background. LOL! But how about adapting it for genealogy? As you might imagine, I am not the first one to think of this.  But here is my list:

You might be a genealogist if...

·           Your children fling their arms out the car window yelling “Cemetery!” every time you pass one.
·        You have a room in your house dedicated to family history files. 
    You troll Amazon listings looking for the latest genealogy books.
·        You have a poster-sized family tree chart hanging on your wall.
·        Your vacations are planned around family research trips.
·        You have had your DNA tested.
·        You have stayed up half the night looking for "just one more record!"
·        You know the two letter abbreviation for every US state.
·        You know every county in your state.
·        You know how to use 6 different types of microfilm machines.
·        You have already written your own obituary. And the obituaries of all your closest family members.
·        You know which channels, nights and times Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots  are on.
·        You cry at the end of every episode of Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots .
·        You know that genealogy is an addiction. And you don’t care!
And finally…

 Feel free to add your own!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New microfilm machines at the Medina Library


The new STImaging microfilm machines at the Medina Library

In October the Medina Library purchased two new microfilm machines. 
The library staff are still learning many of the new features but we would be thrilled to show you how to use them. The new machines use a large format screen and computer to manipulate the images. It is the software that comes with the package that does all the magic. 

Besides being able to view, print and save images, you can send the image to your drop box, Google Drive or Family Search. And the options for editing the image are incredible.

Call the library at 330-722-4257 to set up a one-on-one session to learn how to use the NEW STImaging microfilm machines!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

DAR Patriot Index

Good morning!
Yesterday, a co-worker asked me where the library's  DAR Patriot Index was. It was still listed in the catalog and a member was asking for it. The co-worker, being very efficient, had already checked all the possible and improbable places looking for it. I remembered the set but couldn't remember where it was until later.

I had discarded it (and somehow not removed it from the catalog) because of various postings like this one: that said that all the records were now online at the DAR web site: and that the old printed indexes were inaccurate and had soldiers listed whose service had been disproved.

This information was relayed to our member who replied that she has had trouble with the online index not listing ancestors for whom she has proved Revolutionary War Service.

Has anyone else had problem with the online DAR Patriot Index? Should printed indexes be retained when they have been superseded by online indexes?

Weigh in with your experiences and opinions!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Librarians Seminar at OGS

Just came back from the Ohio Genealogical Society's Annual Librarians Seminar on October 17th. They had a full house of participants and a full house of presenters. A great day as always! I always come away from these seminars fired up with great new ideas to try out. THIS year I am going to find the time to implement some of them!

Tom Neel, Library Director for OGS, did a interesting presentation on Court House Records. I have already used information I learned from Tom.

Derek Davey of Toledo talked about Social Media and Libraries. He is the one who got me fired up to resurrect this blog. Let's see if we can get this site rolling! He really emphasized that we need to remember that the new genealogists are very tech savvy and we need to move beyond the brick & mortar mentality. Once we engage them virtually, we can get them in the doors!

Aaron Turner, yearbook czar for OGS, talked about Omeka software for content management. He used it to digitize the Ohio Story radio program scripts. For someone with next to no money, Omeka is a great option.

Phil Sager of Ohio History Connection and Marcus Ladd of Miami University talked about Contentdm of OCLC. It is expensive and you do it their way or you don't do it. It is very locked down. Did I mention that it is very expensive???

Michael Sabiers put in a plug for Office 365 products.

Eric Honnefer is the Document Conservator for Bowling Green State University, Center for Archival Collections. He shared important resources for archival supplies and standards. He shared anectdotes from his many years of experience  and was a very entertaining speaker.

I would ask that the organizers use a less offensive image to adorn their promotional flyer for this program next year...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

While reading the latest issue of Family Chronicle magazine, this situation was recounted by author Wendy Carlson:

Recently a woman contacted Wendy saying she had just started doing her family history and gotten a subscription to She kept seeing Wendy's name pop up while researching her ancestors. She explained that she was stuck and gave Wendy the names where her family tree stopped. Wendy explained that the woman was stuck because that was where Wendy herself was stuck in researching those families. Later, Wendy noticed that the lady had added many generations to that family line. Wendy contacted her asking how she had broken through the brick wall. "Ancestry did it for me!" was the woman's reply.

As many of you know Ancestry has a feature that pops-up with a little leaf when there is a possible match to your family tree. The woman had been adding these matches to her tree even though they didn't belong. Wendy explained the importance of verifying information and gave her a list of possible sources.

But how many unsuspecting people are out there, new to family history research and hearing Ancestry's commercial claim "You don't have to know what you're looking for, you just have to look!", believe it??? These folks are adding strangers to their family trees and adding chaos to other people's research.

It is time for Ancestry to "man up" and change their advertising. Yes, you DO have to know what you're looking for! And yes, you do have to know what you are seeing when you look at other people's trees!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Lineage Society...

For years I resisted the lure of joining a lineage society, labeling them "elitist" and old-fashioned. But lately, I have been reconsidering the idea. Not because I want to join the ranks of the elite, but because I want to test my genealogy skills.
Having worked on my own family history for over 30 years and helped others research their family at the library for over 20 years, you would think I would feel fairly confident of my skills. But applying for a lineage society takes the research to a different level because your work won't just be viewed by family members who may not know any better. Your work is reviewed and judged adequate or not by other genealogists. So I have been toying with the idea.
And I think I have found just the society to start with: The Sons & Daughters of World War II Veterans I only have to prove I am my father's daughter and that he served in WWII! Now, all I have to do is come up with the $125 fee!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Benefits of Genealogy

Several genealogy articles lately have cited the study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology that showed that thinking about your ancestors and what they have conquered before taking a test can increase your score. Our ancestors overcame severe illnesses, wars, loss of loved ones and economic depressions.
"So when we think about them, we are reminded that humans who are genetically similar to us can successfully overcome a multitude of problems and adversities."
Reminds me of Oprah Winfrey. She once said that the reason she liked reading Toni Morrison's novels was that it showed her what it was possible to overcome. What better example of a success story than Oprah Winfrey??

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Who do you think YOU are?

The new season of the NBC show will commence this Friday. This season profiles the family histories of such celebrities as Tim McGraw, Lionel Richie and Rosie O'Donnel. Tune in for fun travels down incredible research trips.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This is a charcoal portrait of Franklin Sylvester. It hangs on the right wall as you enter the Medina Library's genealogy and local history room. Franklin Sylvester was a local entrepreneur and cattleman who donated $10,000 to build the first library in the city of Medina. We honor his gift by naming the room the Franklin Sylvester Room. Sadly, Franklin died just months prior to the opening of the library in 1907.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Look at some of the cool door prizes
we will have at the Genealogy Lock-In...

USB Hub -Do you know what it is and what it does??

4 pack of pens


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Genealogy Lock-In at the Library

Curious about who is in your family tree?

Wondering how to get started on a search?

Join members of the Medina County Genealogical Society
and staff of the Medina Library for an After-Hours Genealogy
Lock-In at the Medina Library.

You will have full access to the Franklin Sylvester
Local History Room and the library’s computers.

Explore the features of
Learn about Google for Genealogists
and discover the resources at the
Western Reserve Historical Society.

Light refreshments will be served.
Space is limited and reservations are required.

Friday, September 25, 2009
6:30 – 10:30 p.m.
Call 330-722-4257 to Register

Thursday, May 22, 2008

World War II Records... has allowed temporary (May 20-30) free access to the World War II military records on their site: You will have to register to view any of the records.

Coverage is not 100% complete, I could find my father-in-law and his uncle, but could not find my own father or my great-uncle. But remember, many of the U.S. military service records from this time period were destroyed in a fire in the 1970s.

Enjoy them while you can!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Serendipity in genealogy...

Liz Barr, one of Medina's pages, found some old papers in a book in the Medina Friends' booksale. The papers were dated Apr. 22, 1926 and appear to be an English Literature
composition and were signed by Donald Bittner.

I checked the Medina phone book and found about half a dozen Bittner's listed. But Bill Bittner, now retired, was for many years, MCDL's insurance representative. I called and left a message on his voice mail about the papers and asked if he knew of Donald Bittner.

Today I found a phone message for me that says Donald Bittner was Bill's father and he will be thrilled to have the papers!! A strange string of events will help connect a son to his father's past!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Genealogy is everywhere!!!

Recently, while visiting colleges with my daughter, we had the opportunity to view the archives at Denison University. Family history states that my great great grandfather Daniel Kinikin attended Denison back in the 1850's when it was still Granville College. Surprisingly, we didn't have to don white cotton gloves, hand over our purses or wear medical masks upon entering the archives. When I asked for the student lists for that time period, I was handed a thick bound book and told where I could make photocopies. Make the copies myself?? Que Horror!!

The book covered the years 1833 through 1879. Each of the little Commencement Programs, consisting of about 15 very frail pages each, had been bound together in this one book. Besides the graduating classes, they listed every student that attended.
We started with the year 1855 since Daniel was supposed to have attended before the Civil War started. Luckily, Kinikin is not a common name. In fact, I can safely say that anyone with the name Kinikin is a relative.

The class lists were divided into graduating students, Classical Students and English Students. The archivist explained that the college had a prepatory school that got the students ready for the more rigorous Classical studies. These were called the English students, as in, similar to the education a secondary student in England would have.

It was in these English Students that we found a match. Not to Daniel Kinikin, but to James Kinikin. He attended in 1857 and 1858. After his name in the 1858 program was an asterisk. A note at the bottom of the page indicated that James was deceased. As these programs were printed for the commencement exercises, it meant that James had died during the school year.
We made our copies of the information, not sure how it would fit into the family tree, but knowing it would somehow.

We continued looking through the lists, but never did find Daniel Kinikin listed. When we got home, a search of my genealogy files found James. He was Daniel's older brother. As Ohio did not require death certificates to be filed until 1867 and tombstones from that time period often don't survive until the present, we had stumbled upon the only written evidence of what had happened to James Kinikin.

How did James Kinikin's scholastic record get attributed to Daniel Kinikin?? We may never know. My daughter says that Daniel DID go to Granville. Undoubtedly to visit his brother James!