Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Capture those Images - Now!

Three years ago we helped one of our Florida friends find information on his grandparents, married in Cook County, Illinois in early 1900s. My hubby found the marriage certificate on Family Search.org and captured the image. A few weeks ago we received a call from this friend who was in Chicago doing genealogy research. He needed some clarification on the information hubby had found.

Hubby emailed him the image and told him it was available on the Family Search.org website under “Illinois, Cook County Marriages 1871-1920.”

Our friend sent a frantic note yesterday saying he had searched for two hours and could not find this image. Could we please send the exact link? Hubby went to get the link only to find the marriage was listed in the index only. No more image. What happened?

He contacted a trainer at the local Family History Center and her answer is:

“Cook County made a contract with Family Search that their images could only be shown for, I think, two years. After that index only. That was Cook County's stipulation to partner for the project.”

She went on to explain, “If there's a particular one you really want, last I checked it was $7 & you get to immediately download the image.”

She uses the Cook County site - Hubby went to that site this morning to check it out. The price is no longer $7.00, but $15.00 and records prior to 1930 are not there. They have a contact button. He tried that only to learn you can communicate with them ONLY if you have a requisition number. Since we haven’t purchased anything, he didn’t have a number, therefore could not go any further. A present day Catch-22. Later today he will have to pick up the phone and talk to someone about their computer/database issues.

How many times do genealogists get deep into searching, find an image, and figure it can be download later? Especially on sites like Family Search.org. I, for one, now know there is no guarantee an image will be there in the future. 

Capture those images - Now!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hidden History – African American Cemeteries

One of my favorite gifts of a recent birthday was Professor Lynn Rainville’s new book, Hidden History; African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia.

Her story begins in 2008 when a friend (and archaeologist by profession) called her to report damage she and her husband witnessed as a power company crew drove machinery across an old small cemetery.  The couple went through many channels in an attempt to stop the desecration.  The power company employees were only doing what they were told. The execs didn’t care, nor did the local sheriff’s office. After repeated attempts to deal with the authorities, the couple called 911 and reported a crime in progress according to Code of Virginia, section 18.2-127. They were stalled again.  Hence the call to Professor Rainville.

Many early African American cemeteries were not recorded and Professor Rainville set out to change that. Her book describes her journey to locate and document these cemeteries, but also describes how enslaved people held funerals, their rituals, the role of churches and worship. 

She shares stories of how genealogies and oral histories helped her locate several cemeteries, and how finding these burial grounds helped to connect communities and families again. And then the threat ongoing development poses to these small cemeteries.

I highly recommend this book. The back of the book has a form for evaluating an old cemetery and the stones therein. The process is relevant to preserving any abandoned cemetery.