Sunday, October 16, 2005

In a Dark Time

Well, I've done it now. I finally broke down and shelled out the bucks for an membership. Nearly all of the information I've accumulated and posted about my family history on my webpage in the past three years, and here on my blog in the past year, has come from the internet free of charge. So why am I now willing to part with the big bucks? Am I selling out? Do the pay sites suddenly have vital information worth more than ten dollars a month to me? I don't think so, on either count.

The main thing you get with a membership is comprehensive access to several main sets of database records, the largest and most important of these being the U.S. Federal Census Records and the Social Security Death Index. You can search these records without being a paying member; you just can't see the results. Instead all you get is an indication of the number of hits on your search item in those databases. But simply knowing that there are hits can be a very useful clue. When there are hits, the specifics can often be accessed elsewhere free of charge.

Rootsweb and U.S. GenWeb are large free database projects that make relevant portions of the federal census records and other databases available to localized free genealogy websites. Most counties in America have one or more websites that exist solely for the purpose of making records available to people whose roots are in that locality. So if you know what you are looking for and where to look for it on the web, you can usually find it. What and other paysites sell is convenient and comprehensive access.

I guess what's happened to me is that I've reached the point where I've decided I don't mind paying for convenient, comprehensive access. First, I can afford it. Second, it's a worthwhile product. And third, I've reached a point where I can start to make use of some of the vast quantity of information that is related less specifically to my particular ancestors. Comprehensive access allows you to make better generalizations based on peripheral data.

I'm fortunate to have at least one fairly distinctive surname to trace. My last name is not one that you encounter everyday. If you were to canvas all of the phone books in America, you would find fewer people with my surname than you would find listed under Smith or Jones in any one small town in America. And with only a few hundred or perhaps one or two thousand total listings to draw on, it's not that hard to eliminate those that are probably not directly related to me.

While the items that I have found and posted on my webpage are not necessarily always the proverbial "smoking gun" of definitive proof, they are often enough sufficient evidence on which to base an assumption or a supposition. And when a supposition leads directly or even indirectly to a subsequent find, it indicates something about the validity of that supposition.

Now for something completely unrelated, I've added another reciprocal link to my blogroll.

In a Dark Time features some terrific wildlife photography and some excellent commentary and personal reflections on poems by many of the most significant modern American poets of the past century. I include it here because of the entries on Theodore Roethke and Nelson Bentley.


Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

I'm sorry I haven't been by in such a long time. I've been in and out of the blogging world, lost many favorite site lists, but just found some tonight like yours! :)

My daugher graduated high school and began college. It seems spring suddenly jumped to Fall.

I hope this ancestry site brings you lots of useful info. That sounds exciting, rather like wandering into a library made just for you!

Thanks for the link to "In a dark time." I loved the photography and the site in general. I'm rebuilding my blogsite so there's a new photo on the header and in my comments area, but the other ones are not re-done yet.

Since we first "met" on the internet, I still have green eyes, like you ;), but I also opened a different blog to post more of my writing, like poetry and prose that is not on my Good Vibrations site.

I'm rebuilding my blogroll and linked you up. Hope you come by to visit again and the newer site, too.

Craig said...


Thanks for coming by again. Nice to hear from you. Have tried to find you at silverthreads, but can't get your link to work. I'm trying to put up a new post on my family history, but I'm just swamped with census data and civil war records and don't know where to start. Most of it confirms my hunches. I now have a great great great grandfather who came to Wisconsin. He was born in 1794.

SilverMoon said...

Hi There,
I'm delighted that access to the census records has provided such a wealth of info for you! Most of my ancestors were killed in WWII :(, so it's thrilling for me to read when others CAN trace their roots!

If you are ever able to take a break, my other blog is not called "silver" threads. I type on blogs late at night while doing other work, so I apologize if I made a typo.

My other blog is "Silken Threads" where I write as SilverMoon.
It's not hosted at blogspot. Here's the url so you can directly click when you have a break, if you want...since you seem to like a vareity of writing from poetry to humor to quotes & philosophy.

Here's the url:
I defintely understand being swamped and excited! There's a romantic poem up on Silken Threads right now so share it with you wife. :)

On Good Vibrations, there's a light piece on sayings- very light. The last two pieces there have been light-hearted, so maybe the humor will give you a short break. Take care and best of luck with continued research! I'm on my way back to 2 sites I found via you that I adored! P.S. I also signed this post as SilverMoon, so if you click directly on the BLUE name "silverMoon" at the top of the post, you'll be brought to the SILKEN THREADS blog. :)(Oh, That site was doing maintenance last wk, but they are all finished. THat may have been the snafu.)
GEL(Green-Eyed Lady) aka SIlverMoon

Craig said...

So was your family living in Europe during WWII? Your poems are quite sensual and evocative. Just the thing for my nephews and nieces.

SilverMoon said...

Hi- If it weren't for that free stat meter, I wouldn't have known you made it by since I don't see a comment on my site. Glad I was working at my desk again, still designing jewerly from all night.....

Thx very much for the compliments about my poetry. My ancestors lived in Europe because they were born there or moved there from other places like Russia. Then that maniac Hitler slaughtered them. (Not all of my family was in Europe, but most were.)