Sunday, October 29, 2017

Day Twenty-Nine: Oh, My! Ohio!

Don't think it was with one monstrous leap that I flew from "M" to "O" in my Fall Cleanup project. Rather, thanks go to the fact that this is, after all, the weekend, when there always seems to be more time for cleaning.

The folder for "M" did indeed present a tedious review of some old printouts of early online genealogical publications. Still, I couldn't help myself: I had to look at every page, to insure I wasn't throwing out anything priceless. I confess to saving one item: a genealogy joke especially designed for history lovers of the antiquities kind.

The letter "M" kept me busy for many more reasons than just reviewing The Missing Links editions for 1999 onward. Keep in mind, I have two major family lines claiming their own files in that folder.

One of those lines was for my McClellan family in territorial Florida. Starting with my third great grandfather, George Edmund McClellan, I've been able to track almost all his descendants down to the present day. But before that? Nothing. He's one of my persistent brick walls. Yet, buried within the "M" folder, today I found some helpful notes from a distant cousin.

The only reason I met this McClellan cousin back in the 1990s was courtesy of the old Family Tree Maker policy allowing a customer to request the name and address of the submitter of a matching family tree. My file folder included a stack of photocopies of material later sent to me by this cousin. I couldn't help myself: I started working on that material right in the middle of the cleaning process. Talk about getting sidetracked.

Following that, my roots in New York City presented a file with information on how to access records in The Big Apple, 1990s style. "Reclaim the Records" hadn't yet come of age when I was stowing paper in that NYC file folder. A lot can happen in twenty years, making most of that file's contents modern day recycling fodder.

But when it came to "O"—oh, what a stash that file was. Remember, it was for my mother-in-law's family that I had tried my first tentative steps in online research. (Before that, I had done years of extensive work on another family constellation based in California, but that was working the process the old-fashioned way.)

Many of the pages in that file for Ohio included references to websites with promising resources. While I made mental notes that many of the resources now could be accessed through more modern, updated websites, there were a few such notes that I just had to set aside and check out. Call it the pull of The Bright Shiny.

I remembered using one of those websites mentioned in those notes. It was a useful section on the site of the Ohio Historical Society. Back then on that site, a researcher could pull up a digital copy of old death certificates of Ohio residents if the person had died within the right set of years in the early 1900s. Now? Well, I had to take a look.

Sadly, the web address didn't lead to the right page. Searching the site internally didn't bring up the page, either, despite there being a link provided for the right topic. It led to an error message.

I couldn't just walk away and be satisfied with that answer, though, so I googled it. According to Joe Beine's site, there were other, updated, resources to obtain the same stuff. The Ohio Historical Society still has an option to search the death index, though it is a stripped down version of what I remember using, back in the 1990s. Forget that, though: FamilySearch itself promised a version with "name index and images of Ohio statewide death certificates" for the same date range as I remember seeing before. Only caveat: once entering a name, the website requires that I sign in, then pops up to tell me I need to access the records at one of three types of family history centers.

Strangely, after all that, it gives me the image anyhow.

It would be unreasonable to assume that any resources gleaned from projects tackled nearly twenty years ago could come from sites now still viable, of course. And that's what enables me to blitz through all these file folders so blithely in this cleaning task. As in any other field, there is a constant state of flux in the realm of genealogy. What's changing is certainly not those static records of people now no longer in their own dynamic state, but how we locate the information we seek about them—a good reminder to always be on our toes about being fresh with our own continuing education efforts.

Above: "Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning," 1891 oil on canvas by French Impressionist artist Claude Monet; courtesy Google Cultural Institute via Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Two more days...will you make it? There is always November:)

    1. Yes, that's true: there is always November. But...but...I don't want to be cleaning in November! It's time to be on to other things!

  2. Ohio death certificates are online at FamilySearch and the images are much clearer than we were ever able to print at the State Archives before they were available at FS. The Ohio Historical Society is now known as Ohio History Connection. I always found their website and online catalogue cumbersome to use. I think they've changed it in the past several years. I hope it's better than it was!

    1. It's interesting, Nancy, that I used to be glad for the resources at the Ohio History Connection. But now, I don't find myself using them much. As online resources evolve, it's logical to seek out the best options, and I guess FamilySearch won out on that one--at least for now.


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