Monthly Archives: July 2010

Are We Entering The Genealogical Dark Ages?

Warning: This blog post contains A LOT of opinion pieces.  In this post, I am responding to this article, entitled The Coming Genealogical Dark Ages on the Mormon Times website.  To help you understand this blog post more, please read the article first.

So are we entering into the genealogical dark ages?  Are our ancestors’ lives doomed to forever be undiscovered?  Will all the records be destroyed?  Will we stop appreciating the stories and memories of our elderly ancestors?

Well…. Yes and No.

There is no doubt that things can sometimes seem pretty bleak in the world of preservation and historical access.

  • States are beginning to restrict access to vital records.  I can understand restricting vital records to a degree but restricting them for a ridiculously long amount of time (like 150 years) seems overdone.   While some restriction is understandable, it is important that we don’t let fear take over.  We need an open, candid discussion between the politicians and historians so that we find a happy medium where everyone is happy.
  • Curt B. Witcher made the claim that courthouses are undergoing “random sampling” in which they keep a random sample of records and destroy the rest.  While I’ve never heard of this, I sadly do not doubt it.  More libraries, archives, and societies need to create space and become dedicated to preserving these records.  It is also important that more copies of documents are made – be them digital, print, microfilm, or another medium.  If anything were to happen to the original, at least we will have a copy.

But while things can seem really bleak, there are moments when I just know the we are in the midst of the genealogy enlightenment.

  • Genealogy is beginning to go mainstream in the media.  TV shows such as Who Do You Think You Are and BYU’s The Generations Project are bringing awareness of genealogy to people who may not have cared about their family history.  More and more people are wanting to connect with their ancestors and histories.  More people are asking questions.
  • More and more records are online than ever before.  Companies like and are digitizing and putting records online for easy access at home.  Volunteers are societies, archives, and even at home are indexing records.  It really is amazing how much information is at our fingertips.
  • Genealogists are constantly fighting for record access and preservation.  And we will continue to fight.

My take on this is that genealogy is NOT doomed.  I think that is just too much of a “glass half empty” point of view.  What do you think?


Announcing My Own Mailing List!

I have thought a lot lately about how I can “shake up” my genealogy presence on the internet.  After a lot of careful thought, I’ve decided to dive in and the result is….

My Own Mailing List

The goal of the mailing list is to offer another way for me to connect with the genealogy world.  I can share my best genealogy research tips and suggestions that is delivered straight to your email.  Plus I can share with you the most up-to-date information as I begin rolling out new e-books, guides, videos, and more!  Those who are subscribed to the mailing list will know what is going on before anyone else.

The Plan Thus Far

My goal is to send out the mailing list twice a month (around the 1st and around the 15th).  I don’t want the mailing list to become annoying or overbearing, which is why I choose twice a month.  In a few months I will reassess how the mailing list is doing and decide whether a more frequent (or less frequent) mailing list will be worth it.


There is a little box in the upper right hand sidebar where you can join the mailing list by entering your name and email address.  The first email will go out around August 1st.  I promise you that I will never ever sell your email address or give it away or in any way make it easy for spammers to find you.

So what do you think?  Do you like the idea of the mailing list?  What would you like to see in the mailing list?

*The above photo is from Flickr, belongs to Markus Rodder, and is used thanks to a creative commons license.


Syncing Your Paper Files to Computer Files

My latest big organization project has been syncing my paper files with my RootsMagic files and scanned images.  I want my paper files to include everything that my computer files have and vice versa.

Trust me – this has been no easy undertaking.  It is taking a lot of time, lots of patience, and many post-it notes.

As I go through each page of my binders, I mark with a pink post-it notes any facts, events, or sources that is not in my RootsMagic file or my scanned images.  Using yellow post-it notes, I mark every fact, event, or source (where it will go) that is in my RootsMagic file but not in my binder.

Once everything is marked, then I can take my time adding each source, fact, or event where it belongs and slowly removing my post-it notes as everything is entered.

How do you sync your paper files with your computer files?


Happy Blogiversary to Me!

My little blog has turned two today!  Happy Blogiversary to me!

I just want to say that I am so proud of what this blog has become:

  • a place to keep the stories of my ancestors alive
  • a place to find lost cousins and family
  • a place to share my knowledge with others
  • a place to share my ups, downs, biggest joys, and heart-break
  • a place to connect with friends

I love my blog.  My blog would be nothing without all of my readers and subscribers and commenters.  Thank you so much for giving this blog a sense of community.

Happy Blogiversary to Elyse’s Genealogy Blog

Photo above is from Flikr and is property of hfb.


10 Things I Can’t Live Without

Following in Thomas MacEntee’s footsteps,  I have decided to create my own Meme.

The Meme is called 10 Things I Can’t Live Without.  The goal is to write a list of 10 things related to genealogy that you can’t live without.

Here’s my list of 10 things, in no particular order:

  1. My Laptop, Toshi. (Yes, my laptop has a name!)  I don’t know what I would do without a computer.  I am seriously addicted to my computer and love it as if it were my baby.
  2. The Internet. I love the internet.  I am online all the time and love being able to connect with people from all over the world.  The internet is a beautiful thing.
  3. RootsMagic 4.  I have tried many a genealogy program, and this one is by far my favorite.  Bruce Buzbee, the owner and creator, is also one of the nicest guys on the planet.
  4. While there are times when frustrates me or does something that I disagree with, I also couldn’t live without it. was the first genealogy website that I went to.  I also greatly enjoy doing my genealogy in my comfy pajamas at any time – day or night.
  5. I love Footnote’s military databases.  It is great to be able to see the images of the pension files.  I couldn’t live without it.
  6. Blogs. I love blogging and I love reading other people’s blogs.  I learn so much from other genealogists and I love the inspiration it can give me.  The Geneablogger community is a great one to be a part of.
  7. Facebook. I am a Facebook addict.  I love the sense of community that I have with other genealogists.  With Facebook, I have the opportunity to interact with my friends on a genealogy and non-genealogy level.
  8. Twitter. I love the link sharing and information that I get from Twitter.  Its a great resource for genealogists.
  9. Mozy. I sleep better at night knowing that my genealogy files are safe and backed up.  The first 2 GB are free and you can get unlimited storage for only $5 a month.  Talk about a deal!
  10. Family History Centers. Now that I can drive, I am loving going to the two local family history centers to do research.  I love meeting the people there and looking at the microfilm.  It is so much fun and informative.

Honestly…I could definitely go on and on.  This list could easily be very long.

I’m curious – what are the 10 things you can’t live without?


What I Do Meme

* Hardware: Toshiba Satellite L450 Laptop with Intel Celeron 900 @ 2.20 GHz, RAM 2.00 GB

* External storage: 16 GB Flashdrive

Online storage: DropBox (free)

* Backup: Mozy (I L-O-V-E Mozy – and 2GB of storage free) and DropBox

* Printer: HP 1200 All In One (printer, copier, scanner)

* Phone: an LG something or other

* E-mail: Gmail (and I LOVE Gmail)

* Mobile device: see Phone above

* Mobile media: iPod Mini (they don’t make these anymore, so the link goes to the iPod Nano)

* eBook Reader: Kindle for the PC

* Browser: Google Chrome

* Calendar: Google Calendar

* RSS: reader is Google Reader, burner is Feedburner

* FTP: Filezilla

* Text editor: Microsoft Office Word 2007, OpenOffice Writer, and Notepad.

* Graphics: Picasa

* Screen capture: Snipping Tool

* Social media: FacebookLinkedInTwitter

* Social bookmarking: StumbleUpon

* Social profile: Retaggr

* URL shortener:

* Office suite: Microsoft Office 2007Google Docs

* Accounting: Excel

* Firewall: Windows Firewall

* Virus protection: ESET NOD Antivirus 4

* Spyware: MalwareBytes

* File cleaner: CCleaner (cleans temp files and junk off your system)

* Genealogy database: RootsMagic 4 (I couldn’t live without this program)

* Genealogy tools: Surname Suggestion List, Microsoft OneNote (organize ideas, create lists, brainstorm)

* PDF generator: I just use Microsoft Word 2007

* Music player: iTunes

* Blog: WordPress

* Car audio: Just the radio – the tape deck doesn’t work so I can’t even use one of those tape things that hooks to your iPod to play the music.

* Other tech stuff: Um…nothing noteworthy that I can think of here.  Except PayPal.  I love using PayPal.

Thanks Thomas (of Geneabloggers) for this wonderful Meme!


Surname Saturday: Harney

Harney was my maternal grandmother’s maiden name.  Here is my Harney ancestral like, beginning with  my earliest known Harney ancestor, Friedrich Harney.

Friedrich Harney (1846-1911) m. Margaret Becker

-William Frederick Harney (1880 – 1956) m. Ethel Janice Weston

– Margaret Harney (1916-1998) m. Maxamillian Adolph Doerflinger

– Sharon Doerflinger (1959 – 2010)



I’ve Hit The Genealogy Jackpot

I want to apologize for not posting much recently but I’ve been super busy with packing, moving, and unpacking.  My aunt and cousin came to visit me from Seattle the week before I moved, and were kind enough to bring a few boxes that belonged to my mom and have been in their house for over a decade.  When we moved from Seattle to California (almost ten years ago), we only packed what we could fit in our car and drove to California.  Everything else stayed in my aunt and cousin’s house.  We promised that we would go back, rent a truck, and move everything else later.  My mom never got around to going back.

Now that my Mom has passed, everything is mine.  It is a long process trying to go through everything – figuring out what can be donated, what to trash, and what to keep.  One of the boxes that my aunt and cousin brought was an old green metal box with the “PERSONAL” written on it in permanent marker.  I was wondering what could possibly be in there that was important enough for the word PERSONAL and yet unimportant enough that she hasn’t needed it in ten years.

I opened it and quickly realized that I hit the genealogy jackpot.  There were receipts and letters documenting the division of my grandparents’ estate and the planning of her funeral after my grandma passed.  There were hospital and doctor receipts and letters from my mom’s pregnancy with me, which will come in handy for my medical history since my mom had a lot of complications with her pregnancy.  But the real jack pot came when I found a manila folder (the only one in the entire box) that said “Family Documents”.

Staring straight at me was my grandfather’s baptismal certificate from a church in Montana.  I looked behind that to find my grandparents’ marriage certificate.  I found my grandmother’s confirmation certificate.  I found my grandpa’s social security card (which looked brand new – as if it had never been touched).  I found my grandpa’s old tax forms which showed his salary information when he worked at McDonald Douglas (an Airplane company).  I found my grandpa’s teaching credential to teach aircraft welding at Santa Monica City College.  I found baptism certificates for my mom and each of her siblings.  I found receipts and letters regarding my Uncle Gene’s burial in 1961.  And this was all just the tip of the ice berg.

I instantly began screaming.  “DAD!!!!  DAD!!!  LOOK!  LOOK AT THIS!!!”  I was jumping up and down.  I never imagined that these records still existed or that I would ever see them.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was elated, excited, and full of energy.  My mind was running with the possible information these records would hold.  I never imagined any of this would ever happen.  It was a miracle.  I felt like I was in pure heaven.

Unfortunately, with the move, I haven’t had the chance to really look at the papers or scan them.  But trust me, by the end of summer, they will be scanned.  You will be seeing these certificates soon.