Sunday, December 11, 2011

Genie world abuzz with RootsTech decision: no books

For the past 24 hours, the genealogical world has been abuzz with a decision by the organizers of RootsTech that there be no book vendors at the conference. See Leland Meitzler's blog at

RootsTech, on its Facebook page, is thanking people for their (negative) comments and saying that it is going to revisit the issue. This is good news for the attendees, but has to leave a very sour taste in the mouths of book vendors who, months ago, sent in exhibitor applications, ordered more inventory, etc. 

Polly Kimmitt said it well: "We're supposed to be building a bridge between the worlds of genealogy and technology, not drawing a line in the sand." Thomas MacEntee is considering "Do Books Still Matter in Genealogy?" as the theme for his upcoming GeneaBloggers Radio show on Friday night. 

I'm a cautious person... always have been. (That should be obvious, considering I started this blog just a few months ago — after attending some lectures and READING A BOOK.) When I first became interested in genealogy, I wanted to learn "how to do it right." I wanted to learn the proper way to complete charts; learn the terminology; learn the basics. And at the time, that meant learning by reading a book. 

Today's genies have no fear of plunging right into technology, learning as they go. When it comes to technology, I'm FOR SURE not first out of the gate, but neither do I bring up the rear. 

I am (as I suspect many other genealogists are) somewhere in-between... we have a foot in each world, and aren't ready to jump blindly in either direction. We realize the benefits to ourselves, and to societies, in using new tech tools and embracing change. We'll take a bit of time to test the waters, accepting what technology we feel we can handle, and deferring on what seems beyond us right now. But I think we'll always still want the chance (and choice) to be able to "dance with the one that brung ya" as we took our first genealogy steps.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ahhh, December; a time to reflect on what was accomplished (genealogy-wise) this year. 
  • Completed my first year as editor of the Indiana Genealogical Society newsletter. Both the newsletter and quarterly are now strictly online publications, at a time when many other societies are hurting due to costs involved in publications printing and mailing. IGS garnered kudos this year for its $10,000 Matching Grant toward the FGS War of 1812 "Preserve the Pensions" project. IGS is also adding to both free and members- only online databases, which is drawing many members from beyond Indiana.

  • At 2011 Jamboree: Lou Szucs, Tony Burroughs,
    Jana Sloan Broglin, and Curt Witcher
  • Attended my first Jamboree in Burbank, California. (How. Awesome. Paula, Leo and crew have this down to a science.) I had to go halfway across the country to see four of my favorite people.

  • Served on the Publicity Committee for the FGS national conference in Springfield. Kudos to FGS national conference co-chairs, Paula Stuart-Warren and Josh Taylor; host society chairs, Susie Pope and David Kent Coy of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, and all the volunteers who worked so hard to provide an excellent conference experience. We saw many "first-timers" there.

  • Found where Dad's great-aunt Katherine was buried. That was a BIG break because I also found out who she married. Just goes to show how often online resources are updated. If at first you don't succeed...

  • Continued volunteering for Unclaimed Persons, and also began helping Families for Forgotten Heroes.

  • Started this blog. I don't let it bother me to have gone six weeks between posts. It's called Round Tuit Genealogy for a reason! I'll try to post more regularly next year... but enough about that. Save it for the requisite "New Year's Genealogy Resolutions" post.

  • Upgraded to a smartphone. Two more for the "Resolutions" post:  1) Program it properly so I don't have a bazillion unknown contacts; 2) watch the video tutorials.

    There are probably things I've done that I've forgotten for the moment. There also are things I should do next year, to be included in my "Resolutions" blog post (which I shall write whenever I get a Round Tuit).

    Happy holidays, and take the time to preserve some family memories, or make new ones.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What Dad Saw

Dad (Matthew Herrick) is in the swing;
older brother Billy is standing.
Last week, we remembered our Dad on what would have been his 92nd birthday. I marvel to think of the events that overlay his lifetime. From Charles Lindberg to the Space Shuttle; from silent films to computerized animation; from the Great Depression to ... uh ... another depression-ish ... thing?

Dad was 28 when Orville Wright died. He was 62 when he learned how to fly.

When he was a boy in Ohio, his family didn't have electricity. It would have cost too much to run the wire to their house, and Grandpa didn't have the money, so they used oil lamps. Dad wound up becoming an electrician, bringing light and power to homes and buildings.

Dad's family didn't have a bathtub either. He used to tell us how his folks would load the three boys in the car to visit family friends, Mr. and Mrs. Dicks. There, Grandma would fill a tub and all the boys took their baths. Years later, Dad would tile the bath and install a shower in our home. (Kids, this was in the days when homes had only ONE bath. Can you imagine!) Later on he built a half-bath upstairs.

He spoke of how one schoolmate was teased for bringing bean sandwiches for lunch, but he didn't laugh because he and his brothers ate bean sandwiches too. How his folks would try to bring in extra money by sending him door-to-door with a wagonful of grapes from their arbor — he refused to eat grape jelly for the rest of his life!

How his dad, out of work, sold their Ohio home to Mr. Johnson, the local storekeeper, because Johnson was the only one with any money. Grandpa moved the family to Chicago since that's where his mother lived, in a large old house where she rented rooms.

Dad told us how his father continued to pound the pavement for work, at a time when the whole country was hurting. Desperate, Grandpa went to a police station and explained his plight to an officer. The officer asked if Grandpa had ever applied at a certain company.

"They're not hiring; I've been there a hundred times," Dad relates Grandpa as replying to the officer.
"Make it a hundred and one," said the officer cryptically.

Grandpa returned to the company, where a crowd of men all hoped to find work.
A call went out: "Is there a Charles Herrick here?"
And Grandpa went to work.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FGS 2011 is history

I love conferences, especially FGS because the society management seminars are so helpful. (Officers, if your society is not growing, or is withering on the vine, you should listen to those sessions. CDs or MP3s are available!) I was honored to be a member of the Local Publicity Committee. A ton of planning goes into this event!

A quick synopsis:
  • Sunday: Went to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. It was very interesting! Thanks to ALPL for being part of the conference, and encouraging us to visit.
  • Monday: Watched the Springfield Labor Day parade; shopped at the used book store; helped pack more than a thousand goodie bags. 
  • Tuesday: Librarians Day sessions; press conference run-through; FamilySearch bloggers' reception.
  • Wednesday: Plenary and society management sessions; Old Fashioned Prairie Social with ice cream, music, games and prizes.
  • Thursday: Breakfast program; keynote address by the Archivist of the United States; press conference and media interviews. As editor of the Indiana Genealogical Society newsletter, I had 2 reasons to be proud: IGS president, Michael Maben, presented a check for more than $24,000 as the IGS Matching Challenge supported FGS's "Preserve the Pensions" project to digitize the War of 1812  pensions. Also, FGS presented Curt Witcher with the first genealogical tourism award to recognize The Genealogy Center's impact on the city of Fort Wayne.
  • Friday: Sessions; did a stint on the registration desk and as a room monitor; 35th anniversary gala.
  • Saturday: More sessions; another room monitor stint; marveled at the large Ancestry Day crowd; saw youth from FamilySearch Kids Camp; went to the Dick Eastman dinner.
  • Sunday: Farewell brunch, with laughs and tears as we listened to J. Mark Lowe recall 9-11 (many of us were at FGS in Davenport). Visited Lincoln's home; browsed an antique mall and meandered back home.
  • Monday: unpacked; answered e-mails; attended a fundraiser. I was lucky enough to have Monday as a vacation day. Some volunteers went right back to work.
I haven't even mentioned the many other lunches and dinners with old friends and new. Bennigan's saw some of us so often, we should get frequent flyer miles. I put on 5 lbs., and must have brought back another 30 lbs. in materials, books and merchandise. No wonder I'm tired.

Thanks to FGS president, Pat Oxley; national co-chairs, Josh Taylor and Paula Stuart-Warren; Illinois State Genealogical Society co-chairs Susie Pope and David Kent Coy; the intrepid publicity committee (Thomas MacEntee and Julie Cahill Tarr, thanks for letting me be a part); and everyone else who volunteered or assisted.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Longer than having a baby!

For the past year or so I've been a bit player in the Federation of Genealogical Societies' 2011 Conference, "Pathway to the Heartland." You know what? Giving birth to a national conference is a lot like having a baby, except the planning takes longer.*

Proud parents are national conference co-chairs, Josh Taylor and Paula Stuart-Warren. Proud godparents are Susie Pope and David Kent Coy, co-chairs for the local host society, the Illinois State Genealogical Society. I guess that makes FGS president, Pat Oxley, the doting grandmother, and all the FGS and local committee chairs are beaming aunts and uncles.

Everyone involved has worked hard to give the conference goers, Librarian Day attendees, Ancestry Day registrants, and FamilySearch Kids Camp participants the best life possible. The parents have planned and prepared as much as they can. Just as real parents discover, some things you just can't plan for; you deal with them as they happen. 

This child grows quickly: a week later, it's over until next year, when the whole process repeats itself in another city. Of course, planning for the next child has been underway for awhile. Conference parents examine what worked and didn't with the older children, and with this child, so they can do better next time.

Many "family" members are already in Springfield, soon to be joined by the rest of the clan, preparing for the delivery. If you're attending, perhaps we'll meet. Please say hi! If you've been involved at all in the birth of this baby, a big thanks for all your efforts. Virtual cigars all around!
(*Disclosure: I don't have kids. Also, to you who have had difficulty conceiving; who are adoptive and adopted; and who have lost children, I am sensitive to your situations, and ask that you take this post in the light-hearted way in which it was intended. )

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Welcome to Round Tuit Genealogy

Truth be told, I'm in it for the beads :)  
Thomas MacEntee says the Geneabloggers get beads.
I want beads too! So I'm blogging.


I write in my journal too infrequently to think that I can blog regularly — I've been known not to write for a year or more; hence the name of my blog. It's a family story; the kind that goes on so long, we nearly forget the point. The kind my siblings tell; the kind that make their spouses groan.

See, Dad always said, "I'll get around to it." Usually this involved building something. For an electrician, he was one heck of a carpenter; one heck of a (fill in any trade here). He built two bedrooms, a bath, a walk-in closet and a ton of storage space in the unfinished attic of my childhood home. He built little wooden boats for my niece and nephew to float on the pond in the park. He built a picture frame, a bar in the basement, shelves for his workshop... so many things. No elaborate plans, either. A quick pencil sketch on a piece of scratch paper, and that was it. And darned if his projects didn't turn out exactly as he envisioned. 

He was not one to boast of his handiwork, but not content to do a less-than-perfect job. He'd actually cringe if he saw construction that didn't measure up to his standards. 

An uneven wall? "Pitiful; just pitiful."  

Or a building on which he worked more than 60 years before. I don't recall exactly what he hated about the building, but we'd hear about it every time we passed it. He'd almost cover his eyes, it pained him so much. Which could prove dangerous, since he was the one driving.

Where was I? (Oh, right; Dad...Perfectionist...Get around to it.) Anyway, Dad's insurance agent once handed out a little promotional wooden disc that was stamped "Round Tuit." Dad collected a bunch of them and passed some down to us. When he died in 2010, I think we buried a Tuit with him... an inside joke, as it were.

Not only did I inherit one of Dad's precious Tuits, but also his procrastination and pack rat tendencies (which, if we genies call it "archiving," gets us a reprieve. Or so I'm told). If Dad's perfectionism kept him from calling the Maytag repairman when it was something he could fix just as well (and for a lot less), it was Dad's procrastination that kept us going to the Laundromat for years. 

Being frugal ("Cheap is the word you're looking for") was second nature to him, being a child of the Depression. Dad's pack rat tendencies included such items as four electric motors and a set of wheels from a supermarket cart. Because he was going to build a (fill in the blank again), once he could get a Round Tuit.

So that's the story of how this blog got its name. It may be about family, sometimes. It may be about genealogy, most times. And I'll blog whenever I get a Round Tuit. 

(Hey, you Geneabloggers going to FGS — can I get beads now?)