Dancing in the Aisles and Other Matters

A few days ago, I promised to write more about Ceil Jensen’s multimedia presentation that she promised would have us dancing in the aisles.  At the Monday evening banquet of the United Polish Genealogical Societies Biennial Conference in Salt Lake City, Ceil showed us the video she made of her adventures in the Polish Archives, complete with some great Polish music!  Everyone enjoyed the presentation and it was worth the wait!

Ceil visited several archives with Kasia Grycza, a charming and skilled genealogist and tour guide in Poland.  Just type Kasia’s name into your favorite search engine and you’ll find testimonials from people who have hired her to act as their guide and genealogical consultant in Poland.  Kasia arranged for Ceil to visit civil and church archives in Poland, and was even able to arrange for video interviews with the archive directors.  Everyone in the video was thoroughly interesting, informative, and at times the interviews were absolutely hilarious (and you thought there was nothing funny about visiting archives)!  Sadly, Ceil showed us the unfortunate state of the archives that operate with low budgets in facilities that lack climate control to preserve the valuable documents they house.  Between the individual interviews, Ceil included music that certainly had everyone’s feet tapping and added a festive tone to the entire presentation.  Thanks, Ceil, and I know we all look forward to seeing more of your videos in the future!  By the way, Ceil has just published a new book called “Detroit’s Polonia”.

A couple of people have left comments on this blog, asking for summaries of the presentations at the conference.  For the first of these summaries, I’ll start with the last presentation:  the keynote speech at the banquet presented by Joseph B. Everett, who currently works for Ancestry.com and who spoke on “New Databases and Features of Ancestry.com”.  I had actually met Joe before, when he worked as a Supervisor on the International Floor at the Family History Library.  During two separate visits to the FHL in the past, he helped me translate Russian documents relating to my Niedzialkowski ancestors.  The amazing thing, though, is that he even remembered me from those two isolated occasions!  Wow, the guy has a good memory!

Some of the new features Joe talked about included the complete England and Wales Census collection, the doubling of the Historical Newspapers collection, and the addition of new Canadian Records.  In connection with the Historical Newspapers collection, he pointed out that, when searching this collection, one should enter the search terms, including names, in the keyword box.  The Historical Newspaper collection is not indexed for First Names and Last Names, so the search engine just looks for the keywords anywhere in the newspapers.  Joe gave us examples of how to search for newspaper articles and census records for Lt. Col. Francis S. “Gabby” Gabreski, a World War II Ace Pilot.  It was quite an interesting story.

One other point Joe mentioned was that Ancestry.com has added the ability for researchers to add alternate names, add comments, or report image errors for some of the databases, including census records.  I actually took advantage of this new feature, since my grandfather, Kostanty Niedzialkoski, was indexed in the 1920 US Census as Kostanty Pudgealkoski!  The alternate names that users add are then available to all users, so that poorly transcribed names won’t be a brickwall for future researchers.  I have attached an image of the 1920 Census record for my grandfather so you can see why his name was so badly transcribed in the index.  Click on the image below to view a larger image.  Kostanty is enumerated on line 77, and my grandmother Helen is on line 78.

Kostanty Niedzialkowski in the 1920 US Federal Census

Kostanty Niedzialkowski in the 1920 US Federal Census

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Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko

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