By Nancy Calhoun
Books & More
Genealogists are often perceived as being loners who spend hours pouring over books and computers and visiting cemeteries and courthouses.
While these are frequent occupations, the staff in the Genealogy and Local History department of Muskogee Public Library find genealogists who are sociable have a real advantage in putting the word “success” more frequently into their research notes.
The most obvious means of connection is to join a society. The Muskogee County Genealogical Society provides educational meetings and opportunities, loads of information on its website, and the opportunity to meet and talk with others with the same interests.
Even if you're a transplant and your genealogy isn't based in the Muskogee area, it provides the opportunity to meet others to exchange information and ideas and to explore topics common to genealogists researching anywhere in both the United States and in other countries.
Membership in the society also comes with access to the society's newsletter and quarterly.
Sue Tolbert presented tips on organization and computer research as the last meeting of the society. The November meeting on Nov. 21, will be on DNA, one of the “hottest” topics for today's genealogy community. The 2013 meetings conclude with the annual Christmas party on Dec. 5 which includes a pot luck dinner and plenty of fun, genealogy style, with music and games and, of course, talking about research.
Other organizations in the area offer similar benefits.
The Oklahoma Genealogical Society is a statewide organization which also hosts at least one all day workshop each year, featuring a national speaker.
They also benefit the Oklahoma Historical Society Research Library which is available for all to use.
Several in the area belong to such tribal lineage groups as the Goingsnake society, Cherokee First Families, and the Nancy Ward Descendants.
These groups publish genealogy materials and also host educational and social meetings.
Most genealogists trace their families back to other areas and societies are frequently available in those locations. I belong to both the OGS and the Southwest Oklahoma Genealogical Society, plus to three county societies in Virginia.
While unable to attend out of state meetings in person, I do have access via Internet to some meetings, plus receive publications and visit their resource libraries when I visit the area. They put me in touch with others researching common lines.
National groups include the National Genealogical Society and the Federation of Genealogical Societies. Both offer annual conferences at different locations throughout the United States and other educational opportunities including remote classes.
Special interest groups are also profitable. I belong to three special groups through my DNA test provider.
One is the family surname group, another is for Smyth County, Va., and the third is for a specific genetic group who all descend from a common Roman ancestor who was in early Scotland.
Just having a research “buddy” with whom one can travel or just bounce ideas and “brainstorm” can be immensely beneficial.
Not only can everyone research different resources at once, but the exchange of ideas can be beneficial.
The placing of “queries” is a long held genealogy practice.
National and area genealogy publications in the past were filled with little notes giving some information and asking for more in an attempt to make contact with a researcher working on the same line. I recently made contact with a Smith researcher due to a 10-year-old query placed in a Warren County, Tenn., society quarterly. While these are still used, they are often in an online format and may be in a different format. Genforum, World Connect, Family Search, and others provide this opportunity to connect.
The Family Trees on Ancestry have become a favorite means of tapping into another's information and sharing research.
At one time, this popular feature of Ancestry was not available on the Library Edition, but it has been made available during the past few months. While patrons using the library version cannot build their own, they can see what others have contributed.
Family Search has recently added the family tree aspect to its free website.
As with all information, online and printed, the information presented should be confirmed and documented. But it can provide leads and confirm information already found.
Often family groups visit the Genealogy and Local History Collection at Muskogee Public Library.
Two ladies drove 18 hours straight from Ohio to research recently.
A car full of relatives arrived from Iowa and did intense research for almost eight hours one day.
They arrived not knowing much except one ancestor lived in Muskogee at one time. They left with almost a full one page pedigree chart and with the exciting find of a Revolutionary War patriot.
One of the most valuable assets is the ability to communicate with others who “speak the same language” of genealogy and share the passion for family research.
Get connected with opportunities available at and through the Genealogy and Local History Department at Muskogee Public Library.
Nancy Calhoun is in charge of genealogy and local history at the Muskogee Public Library. Reach her at (918) 682-6657.