Marti Kerkhoff Wallace is one of my Facebook friends. I don't know Marti personally, but we have a mutual friend (Hi, Mike!). From reading Marti's Facebook status updates, I can tell that she is a 21ster, a modern genealogist. I asked her if she would share a 21ster viewpoint by answering a few questions. She readily agreed! Let's hear what Marti had to say...
When did you get into genealogy research, and why?
(If you answered “yes” to #2 above, then skip this question.) If not, do you think belonging to a genealogical society would interest you? How about if they offered historical records for your ancestor’s home town? How about if they offered webinars on how to do research? What else might entice you to join?
Would a society class or seminar about genealogy be something that you may attend in the future? What kinds of topics would be of interest to you? What isn’t of interest to you?
I would love to find a class or seminar that would be helpful. I would be very interested in Catholic German immigrants and what brought them specifically to Cincinnati. I would also be interested in a seminar concerning their work lives. For example, I have been trying to find info about hat makers in Cincinnati in the late 1800's. I can't find anything. I'd love to find info about the machinist business in Cincinnati in the late 1800's. I've found a little bit, but I'd love to know if there was an organization they would have belonged to.
Does a society’s website (or internet presence in general) influence your opinion of them? Does it influence your decision on whether or not to become a member? For example, does the ability of paying for a membership &/or publications on their website (e.g. through PayPal) make or break your decision to join?
A website always makes a HUGE impact on me. How easy is it to navigate. How easy is it to find info? For example, the Hamilton Co. Probate Court archive website is difficult to find info. In many instances, you have to slowly go through and try to figure out which book # you need. Then you have to try and find the page #. I've done this, but it's VERY time consuming. An index would be very helpful. I know that there is information on that site that I haven't found yet, but I can't get to it because I have to figure out the volume # and page #'s I need. As opposed to putting in a name or date and going through the info that way.
[UPDATED 09.18.12 at 12:40PM EDT: I would like to make clear (which I didn't in my written response) that I LOVE that the Hamilton Co. Probate Court has their archived records online. Without this, I probably wouldn't have found out (yet) that my great, great grandfather became a naturalized citizen at age 64. I had tears streaming down my face when I stumbled across this info. I also wouldn't have read the "estate" records of my people. :) But it can be time consuming (yet well worth the time) to track down that info as you try to find the volume # or the book # you need and then find the page # with the actual document. When I find a "new" person in my tree and if he/she lived and/or died in Hamilton Co., it's one of the first sites I go to in order to find information.
I'd like to thank those Hamilton Co. employees who took the time and energy to put this information online. It's invaluable to those of us searching for our people.http://www.probatect.org/courtrecordsarchive/bukcats.aspx]
I hate to spend money on stuff that's not a "sure thing." So that always holds me back from joining a society or club. I spend so much on genealogy already (my Ancestry monthly payment, my Fold3 payment, etc.), that I can't justify spending more unless I KNOW it will help me find info I need.
Do you have any recommendations for societies that are trying to attract 21sters?
Name Indexes!!! So important. A variety of ways to search: By name (with variations of spelling), by date, by city, by city of birth, etc. Also, links to the actual document. Not just the info of the name and date... I love to see the actual scanned document. [From your keyboard to God's ear, Marti!] :)) It's amazing what other info you may come across (places of birth, godparents, etc.).
That was the end of my question/answer session with Marti. And guess what? We did it all online! *** THANK YOU MARTI *** for taking time out of your busy schedule to give me valuable input.
Also I would like everyone reading this to know that my goal is not to criticize any society. My motive for this blog post was to learn what 21ster's are looking for. I'd like this blog to be a safe place to discuss ideas in a very respectful manner. Marti has certainly done that, and I hope I have too.