Thursday, April 30, 2009

The subject of clients and expectations of time and end-result

I thought I would touch upon a more business related topic for today. For most of the group who consider themselves "transitional" genealogists, the topic of clients can be a loaded gun. There are so many unknowns associated with taking on work, whether pro bono or paid, and while books such as Professional Genealogy by Elizabeth Shown Mills help to understand the ethics of your professional-client relationship, amongst other things, the only real way to learn the ins and outs is by doing.

Right from the beginning though, one of the most important things to do is make sure the expectations are clear to both parties. That relates to how long the job will take as well as what will be accomplished. But how does the transitional genealogist know how to estimate an appropriate time expectation? Well, one of the best ways that I've discovered is by listening to the pros on the yahoo APG email forum. One of the threads today is a discussion of client expectations and the subject of estimating time, as well as cost. By listening to what the professionals have to say you can get a sense of what works and what doesn't. When a client approaches you to do a large-scale project, while it may sound like an exciting opportunity with a large paycheck attached, you have to look realistically at what such a project would involve. A popular way to approach projects is to have a 4 or 5 hour introductory/exploratory block. This first block of time would be meant as a way for you to assess the road ahead as well as to give your client an opportunity to take a look at your work. If they feel confident that you can find what they're looking for, or to produce a quality product, they will continue to hire you and tell their contacts as well. It's a win-win situation for you both. Once you've taken that time to get acclimated to the major players, their locations, their history, etc. and after you present your findings to your client in the report, you can then start to work with your client on priorities, ie. what it is that they would like to focus on first and work from there. The client can decide on tracing one person at a time in 5 hr blocks, or have you go for a family group in 10 hr blocks, etc. As a professional, you must keep in mind that while the client is paying you for your time, they also rely upon your expertise and efficiency to get what they are looking for in a timely manner. On the other hand, it's up to you to make sure that the client knows that asking for a 300 year long family history isn't something that can be done in a matter of a few hours so making sure that realistic expectations of time and end-result are vital to the success of the business relationship.

There are a number of questions that experienced genealogists may have in regards to clients once they make the decision to go out there and start a business. As soon as you are approached by a potential client though, you must make sure that all expectations are clear. Contracts, clearly stating how much time is going to be paid for and even how that time is going to be spent, are the best way to handle this. There are great examples of how to make the expectations clear and something that both parties agree to in Professional Genealogy as well as the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. Anyone hoping to build a genealogy business should have and study copies of both books. There is a great chapter by Patricia Law Hatcher included in Professional Genealogy all about time management which is definitely worth a read.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Attention Ohio researchers...Add this one to your list

I was working on my Bromagen line tonight and came across another great local archives center to add to the list. This one may be the best that I've ever come across, maybe. The Greene County Ohio Records Center and Archives only charges a nominal fee for photocopies, their turnaround time is quoted to be about 7-10 days, they accept email inquiries and requests, and their list of holdings is really impressive. I'm going to order either a deed or a will today (they do ask that you only make one request at a time) and see how it goes but I have a few things I'd like to order from them so I'll definitely follow up and let you all know how well it goes. Here's the link if anyone is interested:

Another great Tennessee site

A few days ago I mentioned the very positive experience I had with the Knox Co Archives. This morning I came across the site for the Tennessee State Library and Archives and there is a page with some great general info for state-wide research, including a few explanations of exceptions in some of the larger cities, including Knoxville. No matter where in the state your work takes you though, you should always check to see if the individual county has it's own Archives, Historical Society, etc. and check their holdings. Generally, you can find the same info that's available from the State and much much more. Here's the link, hopefully it will be a good general guide for anyone with some roots in TN:

Making some connections...and an important caution!

I had a pretty good weekend as far as making some cousin connections. I was contacted through by a new Bromagen cousin which is great news. That family line is really an interesting one, I have a feeling I'll be posting some specifics on that family group (with ties to VA, OH, and IN) in the near future. Then this morning I woke up to an email from someone related through my McKeever line. That one was pretty surprising because I haven't made any connections with that line up to this point. This person also found my posts through I can't say enough good things about the boards on ancestry for this reason. I've found people who help when you're stuck and now found about 4 or 5 cousin connections as well. It really is a great resource, if you're careful that is. One of the dangers of is that there is a ton of unvalidated, undocumented information floating around there. It's great to connect with someone and exchange info but you have to remember to either get their source and assess its reliability or treat it as undocumented and seek out the proof yourself. Using a family or county history published in the 19th century is not necessarily proof positive that the info is correct. Do not assume that just because something is published that it is correct info unless there is a reliable source/sources cited. You all probably already know all this anyway, but it's something that is important to remember when using the forums at the popular sites like ancestry.

Made any comments?

Hey, just a heads up that I try to keep on top of comments. The site is a little weird about it though and I don't get any kind of notification when someone makes a comment on the site so I have to be diligent about checking all the areas. If I find a comment I generally post it as just another comment in the same area though so if you posted recently and were waiting for a reply, just go back to the post where you left your comment and a reply should be there. Thanks to everyone for their kind words and for your feedback! I really appreciate it!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Any Tennessee researchers out there?

I've just started poking around at a branch of my in-laws' family and the search quickly took me to Tennessee, a state I have never been in let alone done any research on. Fortunately the family was from Knox Co and that seems to be a good county to work with. Right off the bat I found a site for the Knox Co Archives at
which has a good running list of popularly requested holdings as well as an online Marriage Index. The staff was very helpful and even helped me understand what it was I was looking for and what information would be provided after I sent an email inquiry. Beyond having a helpful staff though, the charge for photocopies and shipping of marriage records is very reasonable ($3.80 uncertified/$6.80 certified for marriage records) and the turnaround time was quite timely. Although I still have a ton to learn about genealogy in Tennessee, my first experience with records from the Knox Co Archives was definitely a good one.

Friday, April 24, 2009

We're growing!

I just wanted to thank everyone for checking out the site. In just over a week, we've broken the double digits in followers and I've gotten some great feedback and support as well. I'd love to hear what you all think. I'm going to try and cover as much as I can but if there's something that you would like to know more about, let me know and I'll look into and post whatever may be helpful. But I wanted to say thanks for reading and thanks for the support!

A couple days off...

Well, with the first week of the blog behind us I took a couple days off to get caught up with some reading and to think about some new things to talk about. There really is a lot going on in the gene-world. I read two great articles on impressment and seamen protection certificates this week (again on the NGS website, hint hint for those of you who still haven't joined) The first was by Ruth Priest Dixon called Merchant Seamen Records: Genealogical Use and Availability" and the second was by John P. Deeben called "Maritime Proofs of Citizenship: The Essential Evidence behind Seamen's Protection Certificates, 1792-1875". There are two ancestors of mine who are said to have been impressed during the War of 1812 and I've been doing some research on trying to prove the family lore. Henry Sargent of Kittery, ME is said to have been "impressed" (as the unsourced page states) and sent to Dartmoor Prison until the end of the war. The same paper says that Charles Thomas Cazaiette Stevens was impressed and taken aboard a British Man-of-War and later spent time in a prison in Bristol, England. Henry's plight seems like it would be easier to prove since there are more specific records to search for, while Charles' situation is a little different and not as specific (just as a side-note, I've spent a little time researching British POW prisons during the War of 1812 period and was able to confirm the existence of a prison used to house American POWs in Bristol, called Stapleton Prison, however, no one at the Archives in Kew or with the Bristol Historical Society can tell whether records from the prison during this time still exist). In any case, learning about these protection certificates was really interesting and something that everyone with a mariner in their ancestry should take a look at.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Speaking of the NGSQ....KY research guide

I was just talking about how important it is to join the National Genealogical Society in a previous post and yesterday I received the newest volume of their periodical, the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, or NGSQ. The spotlight this time is Kentucky and for anyone who is interested in KY family history this is a must have. The research guide by Betty Cummings Cook, CG is a great introduction to navigating the records in Kentucky and the inclusion of two KY case studies in the same volume serves to illustrate the methods and records discussed in the guide. The combination of research guide and case studies arms even the Kentucky novice with a sense of confidence in tackling KY records and makes this volume a must-have. Just another example of how important genealogical periodicals are (especially the NGSQ) whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Must-have resource! In book form and now downloadable from too!

After a long overdue bout of procrastination, I caved and ordered a copy of Elizabeth Shown Mills' book, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. This is a must have resource for anyone working on family history, whether you're a closet hobbyist of a pro. If you're not conviced, just think of it this way. You're putting a lot of time and effort into compiling a family history/tree, whatever you want to call it, and you want that work to be handed down for the family members of the future, right? Well how are those future family members supposed to find the sources you were talking about, or to get their own copies or know where to view the original if you don't tell them where you found it. That's where citation comes in. The examples in this book cover all the bases and tell you what information is vital to preserving the source. You can purchase the book at all the usual suspects,, through,, etc. but now (if you're unfamiliar with it, you need to go take a look now) allows you to purchase the downloaded version through their website for half the price of the hard copy. So now you have no excuse not to have it...excuse me, now I have no excuse not to have it. And now that I've ordered it I won't be staring at a blank page trying to figure out how to cite a manuscript or a book anymore! Woohoo!

Update on Delaware Co, PA records

Ok, so after reading a great article on PA records, and general history, by Kay Haviland Freilich ("Research in Pennsylvania", NGSQ v. 90, March 2002") I was determined to pin down the tax records of Delaware Co, PA which the article mentioned had been transferred to Neumann College in Aston. I sent an email to the library inquiring about the tax lists and received a reply this morning saying that they have been transferred again to the Delaware County Historical Society and for me to contact them. I thought, no problem, I've seen their website before (I was actually going to post it here on the site) but when I went to go to the page, it appears that their site has been closed down. It used to be at So my next step will be to try and email the owner of the site at to see if they may know of the tax lists and/or the status of the DCHS website. Keep an eye on the comment section for this thread for an update.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

NGSQ Archive Index and online articles: Goldmine!!

If you're stuck on a problem, chances are someone else has faced it as well and it doesn't take a whole lot of luck to find that the case study has been published through a genealogical journal. The National Genealogical Society (link is below in the link list) publishes a periodical called the NGS Quarterly and members of the Society have access to its Members section which includes an index of NGSQ articles as well as pdf versions of articles from the more recent volumes (generally those published within the last 5 yrs). These articles are a goldmine of information covering everything from searching for family bibles, geographic record issues, and case studies where you will probably be able to find answers and/or inspiration to those sticky road blocks. If you're not a member, you should definitely think about doing so.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Working my through the ins and outs of tax lists

So I'm currently attempting to get copies of tax lists from two different time frames from two different states. New Hampshire tax lists (I'm specifically looking for tax lists for Dover, NH 1800-abt 1817) remain in the town/city clerk's office while Pennsylvania tax lists (specifically for Delaware Co, PA between about 1840-1875) appear to be kept at the county level. Both are proving to be difficult to access from outside their respective states. For the NH part of the problem the lists a film including land grants and tax lists for Dover/Strafford Co in general, however these relate to the 17th and 18th centuries. They also have a film with the lists from the 1798 tax but Dover was not among those towns included in the lists. On the PA side, the following are the list of films available under the heading "taxation":
Additional tax transcripts of townships formerly in Chester County, Pennsylvania and now in Delaware County, Pennsylvania from 1781-1789 Chester County (Pennsylvania). Board of County Commissioners
Chester County taxes, 1781-1789, for that part of the county which became Delaware County Chester County (Pennsylvania). Collectors
Delaware County, Pennsylvania; the taxables in the assessment list of 1715 and Swedish inhabitants 1693 Williams, Richard T., d. 1983
Delaware County, the Delaware Bay and early settlers in the seventeenth century Williams, Mildred C. (Mildred Corson)
Index of wills and administration records of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, 1789-1850 Williams, Richard T., d. 1983
Listing of inhabitants in 1722, Dalaware County, Pennsylvania Iscrupe, William L
Tax list of Chester County, 1768 : pertaining to the inhabitants of Chester County, including the present-day county of Delaware

None of which pertain to the time frame I'm looking for, abt 1840-1875. So pretty much, as I have been unable to location published indexes for tax lists fitting my time frame, it looks like my only option in both cases is to hire someone to go through the index for me. For those who may also be searching for an on-location professional researcher, the following sites are the best places to find them:

The Association of Professional Genealogists

Board for Certification of Genealogists

Through these two sites, you will be able to location highly trained and qualified genealogists with varying rates who will give you the best results in your search.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Photo time cont'd

So here's a photo of Emma (nee Stevens) Biever. She was the sister of Charles T Stevens, shown below on the right. The resemblance between the two is pretty pronounced to my eyes. Both share a round face for one. You can view a larger version of the photo by clicking on it.

Photo time

So I figured what these pages needed right now was some personalization and some photos to lighten things up. One of the things I've gotten really interested in while working on family history research is comparing photos of family members. I've really gotten into looking at likenesses of ancestors and comparing them to likenesses of their descendants. So this may be something I continue on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. I'm going to start with this photo, probably taken around 1910, of my Great Grandfather, Charles LeRoy Stevens, and his father, Charles T. Stevens (b. 1858 Melrose, MA d. 1926 Chicago, IL). For those of you interested in Bromagen family history, Charles LeRoy is the son of Charles T Stevens and Lillie Bromagen, daughter of James Bromagen, granddaughter of Elias Bromagen and Cassandra McNulty of Ohio and possibly VA.

Pretty much from the time I first saw this photo, I never could find much resemblance between father and son. Later in life, Charles LeRoy did show more of a resemblance but I always figured he must have inherited his mother's look from his likeness in this early photo of him. Without a known image of Lillie Bromagen though, or either of her parents, I'll never be able to put the two together. In any case, Charles L and Charles T each seem to have their own look.

Now let's compare this photo of Charles T. Stevens to his sister Emma (nee Stevens) Biever and their mother, Caroline (nee Heal) Stevens Van Wormer.....

Great site for Eastern PA research

The Delaware Co, PA Archives office has a pretty decent website with the ability to search for administration files, wills, Orphan's Court files, marriages, and naturalizations. The site is located at and the staff there is really helpful and will answer questions via email, which is really handy. I've ordered several copies from them with no trouble, plus the prices and wait-times are reasonable. Considering the close proximity to Philadelphia, the Delaware Co Archives may be worth checking into for those researching in Eastern PA.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Helpful websites for Illinois research

For anyone doing Illinois research, including work in Chicago, the IRAD site is one to bookmark

They have a few online databases, some by surname others by location and type of records, and tell you where you can find various records including, marriage, naturalization, coroner's inquest files from Chicago and more.

A good supplement to this site for your search for vital records in Chicago (and Cook Co in general) is the Cook County Clerk's genealogy site at While they do not have all of their vital records digitized yet, it is possible to search the names of those whose records have been listed on the site. If you cannot find a person and/or event that should have occurred in the area you can request a manual search. They charge $15 for the first record ordered and full ordering instructions can be found on the website.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Taking the initiative

So under the umbrella of educational opportunities I've been lucky enough to get involved with two online study groups. One is a monthly discussion of selected articles published by the National Genealogical Society's periodical, the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. I've been in the group since the fall of 2008, so not too long, but long enough to know that I've fallen into a great thing. If nothing else, it's a way to talk with others about the attributes of the Genealogical Proof Standard in action. As a visual learner, I couldn't ask for anything better than that because seeing it being done in print is a great way for me to learn how to do it in my own research.

The second group that I have just started this year is the third Pro Gen online study group. I waited several months for the group to start hoping that I would be able to grab a spot and sure enough, I did. So far we've had one discussion and it's already proving to be an invaluable resource. Not only do the group members get that interaction with others in the field that they may not otherwise have access to, but you also get the sage advice of a certified genealogist, or "CG", at each of the group discussions. The first discussion covered professionalism and ethics. Talk about a loaded gun. Seeing as how most of us fall into the category of "transitional" genealogist the discussion was essential to our ability to understand how a professional conducts his/her business as well as their research with clients as well as colleagues. With that discussion under my belt, on to next month's topic: educational opportunities! My favorite topic!

So getting down to the nitty gritty

So since this is my blog, I am going to do some shameless advertising and list some of the surnames I've been working on. Some have had more attention than others but most, if not all, still have records to be collected so, as is so often the case with genealogists, I'll be working on these names forever.

Stevens (NH; MA)
Ward (Salem, MA; NYC)
Savery (MA)
Jacobs (NH)
Gilkison/Gilkeson/Gilkerson (KY; IN; IL)
Bromagen/Bromagem (OH; IN; MA; IL; DC)
Hopkins (MA; ME)
Kleinert (IL)
Siegmund (IL)
Dellibac (IL)
Taylor (PA)
McKeever (PA)
Flower (PA)
Sargent (ME; MA)

Genealogist in training vs. the military

So what do you do when you need to get the experience only possible by taking on clients, in this case on a pro bono basis, but you're constantly moving around every 3-4 years? That isn't really sufficient time to get the knowledge of the area you're living in down well enough to take on clients but it also doesn't help get you closer to the records that you may need to continue in your own family research. Welcome to my world. When we first moved to our current duty station about 3 1/2 years ago, we had quite a bit to figure out. Getting our kid in a preschool, getting settled in our own place, figuring out where everything was, etc. Your usual just moved in kind of thing. But then I re-focused on my own family research and later on genealogy in general and wanted to take my experience to the next level by taking clients but since none of my research has been focused on this area, I'm next to clueless about the records here so I wouldn't be much good even as a pro bono genealogist in this area. So there went my opportunity to expand my knowledge base. Now with another move within the next 6 months staring me in the face, I think I need to attack this differently. This time I'll try to get acquainted with the area I'll be in, get to know the records and the history, and get involved with the historical and/or genealogical societies there. If I get involved right from the beginning maybe by the time I'm ready to head out on the next move I'll have gained more of that experience and professional acumen that I've been desiring.

Something tells me I need to get organized...

So pretty much I'm a disorganized genealogist. I haven't figured out how to keep track of everything efficiently. I have one accordian file with alphabetized tabs to keep info from my own family. Obviously it's overflowing and ripping and needs to be replaced with a better system, I just haven't figured out what it is yet. To supplement that file, I have about 5 or 6 spiral notebooks that are each designated for notes and to-do lists by surname. The notebooks work pretty well however, when I'm in the middle of something and come across some info that needs to be jotted down right then I pretty much just grab whichever notebook is closest and then everything ends up getting all mixmatched anyway. Then there is the pile of legal-sized photocopies that do not fit in the accordian file. Even if they were the right size though, they probably wouldn't fit into the filled to the gills file folder. So they just sit in an out of the way pile, unorganized and completely disjointed from the rest of the info. I also have a file just for "client" work, however I've only had about 3 projects and nothing really warrenting a file of its own. So it pretty much just sits there collecting dust. Then we can't forget about the pieces of scrap paper riddling the computer desk with various notes, websites, tidbits of random information, etc. Computer program to hold my computerized information....HA! We won't even get into that here.

I could use one of those people I see on talk shows and on HGTV who come to your house and organize a room for you. I'm not sure even they would know how to fix this though. It is a quandry.

Some sites I visit often...Ok daily

I am not currently taking any official courses but I still find that there are too few hours in the day. Most of my day is spent on the computer working on whatever I feel like working on that day. It could be looking up info on a specific family group or branch or it could be researching the field in general. I look for sites that give info on educational opportunities and information about upcoming conferences that I may be able to go to, and info on how to hone my skills, and info on new databases or new transcriptions and indexes online. The BCG site, at, is always a popular site to visit as well as that of the National Genealogy Society located at Both are great to check up on because they have so much information available. The BCG site has a skillbuilding section with references to helpful articles. My favorite part of the NGS site is being able to download the articles. I didn't find out about the NGS until last year so having the ability to access articles prior to my joining NGS is really allowing me to get caught up in a way. The other site that I can pretty much count on visiting on a daily basis is I could spent hours, and sometimes do, trolling around that site checking and double checking for records. Census, passport, newspapers, oh my!
Another useful site for genealogists looking for information is From there, you are able to search for ancestors, check out the microfilms available to order from the LDS, and even view scanned images of original documents through their record search pilot located at A listing of their available records is available by clicking on the location you're interested in. The Philadelphia cemetery return records available through that site are one of my favorites!

The beginning...

Well, after reading the posts on an endless number of genealogy blogs with all kinds of emphasis, it occured to me that none were really reaching out to the "Genealogist in Training". By that term I mean the serious genealogist who is striving to become a professional by turning what may once have been a "hobby" into a career, but whose overall skills may not quite be up to professional standards yet. I'll probably be posting about everything from my experiences, past and present, to questions that I have, to whatever may be irking me on that particular day. Most importantly, I hope that this blog will reach out to others in the same boat.