We had a great time last night. Week 3 covered a lot of ground including becoming a detective while reading census records, soundex calculations and some free family tree software called “Family Tree Builder”.
We started out with a slide of one of those “jokes” where all the letters of every word are jumbled other that the first and last letter. There were 4 paragraphs. When the slide came up, at first everyone just stared. Then after a few seconds, a couple of people started to be able to make out the first few words. As others joined in, reading the jumbled words became easier. By the end, everyone was reading aloud. It was a lesson in being broadminded with the spelling of family names in the records we find or with how you search for records in the first place. Here’s the reading:
“I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to arscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitllraed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!”
Next was the 1930 census that showed my grandfather’s family. There are 2 interesting things here: 1) It showed his mother, who lived in Canada, as a resident in his household in Springfield, MA. Previously, I thought her husband died in the mid 1930’s but could never find an actual date. But the 1930 census listed her as a widow. Thus, I now knew that he had died in the 1920’s and I was able to redirect my searches. Well, that was over 10 years ago when “searching” was a little more challenging, but the info was very helpful at the time. 2) There was a boarder in the household whose occupation was “painter”. Although he was married, his wife wasn’t with him. While this is pure speculation, I wove a story about this being the the Depression Era and Charlie, the boarder, was probably a friend of my grandfather who found work in Springfield and lived there until the work ran out. Not necessarily fact, but a good story line!
Soundex codes! Everyone now knows what they are, why they were developed and how to use them. Even though no one REALLY needs to know how to calculate them, that’s what we learned last night. The reason I felt this was important is so that a new genealogy researcher will now enough to use Soundex as a tool and what to expect for results. Virtually all genealogy web search sites will offer the option to filter using Soundex.
Finally, “dit” names….. Now there’s a challenge to someone searching French-Canadian ancestry!