Friday, March 7, 2014

Growing My Genealogy Skills - The GenChat

I LOVE technology. I guess anyone that has been reading along with me knows that!! My newest genealogy experience was to go to a #GenChat. If you are a Twitter user you will recognize the hashtag that is needed for Twitter Communication. To simplify, let me just say that if you click on the #GenChat link above, it will not be long before you will be chatting away with folks with a common interest.  You probably have already noticed the badge of the left that gives a shout-out to the chat.

Jen Baldwin, our virtual (and real) leader, does a great job of keeping it all moving along. She not only sets up the topics so they are known ahead of time but also plans questions to keep the topic going so we all learn something new from each other.  Although I am a fairly new at genealogy and very new at genchatting it is clear that many of the participants are old hands in finding the history of their families. Also for a newbie it is wonderful to see the camaraderie that exists in this online environment.  The topic for the last chat was the NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) which according to Google explores our national history through documents, photos, and records. Even if you are not into genealogy it is an amazing site to explore. There are regional offices and amazing resources for teachers.  But I digress... not unusual for me, is it?  Back to the GenChat.

The chats last an hour, and the time flies by very quickly. At the close of the hour we are given our 'assignment' (no grading, no collecting, just suggestions) based on the topic of the night. At the NARA chat the assignment was "CHALLENGE: Identify one record set that might help you at NARA, learn how to access it and write it up."

As one who had never used the NARA sites it was an interesting experience. First I looked up local office, learned their hours and read about available resources. I was really happy to see they invited email requests for information. My local office is about an hour away from where I live. I have collected quite a few cards showing the record number and date of naturalization for some family members.  Here are the steps:
1.Call and ask how to go about the process.
2. Prepared my email with list of names ( birth date, date of naturalization, the number) and my home address.
3. Press Send and wait.

But you don't wait very long.  Very shortly an email came back explaining that these records were available through the county office and the number to call. Surprise! The office is in the Daley Center located in downtown Chicago. When I called the gentleman in charge could not have been more helpful. Bring a phone with a camera, he said, as no cameras are allowed. We will bring you the document books and you take photos of the pages. If I wanted them printed out they would be more than $20.00 apiece. So this next Monday AM I am off with my smart phone  to collect the naturalization papers.

I haven't gotten down to the NARA office yet but I certainly am looking forward to making the trip.

It is an amazing time in which we live, isn't it? How lucky some of us are. No matter our age or where we are, there is always something new to learn and the Internet to take us on our journey.

I haven't forgotten about the trip from Warsaw to Krakow. See you soon.

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