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Writing a State Guidebook from Cover to Cover - FGS Wiki

Writing a State Guidebook from Cover to Cover


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[[Category:Strategies for Vice-Presidents]]
 
[[Category:Strategies for Vice-Presidents]]
 +
 +
== INTRODUCTION ==
 +
 +
Genealogical researchers rely upon state
 +
guidebooks. These books list genealogical and
 +
historical sources for a jurisdiction and tell how
 +
to locate them. The well-thumbed condition of
 +
state guides at the Family History Library in Salt
 +
Lake City indicates their popularity.
 +
 +
Genealogical society members or professional
 +
genealogists are appropriate choices for people to
 +
write state guides since they know the records in
 +
their area so well.
 +
 +
But what is the best way to write one? To take
 +
the potential author from the idea stage to the
 +
conclusion, this article gives examples from the experiences of Connie Lenzen, CG in compiling and writing the Oregon
 +
Guide to Genealogical Sources.
 +
 +
Genealogists know the steps in genealogical
 +
research: form a plan, review published
 +
literature, evaluate and design the project
 +
accordingly, locate new information, evaluate,
 +
and prepare a report. Writing a state guide
 +
follows the same procedure. In this case, the
 +
report is the book.
 +
 +
Research is often a solitary process–just you and
 +
your sources. But when you decide to write a
 +
guide, invite associates to assist you with the
 +
project. I worked with members of a local
 +
genealogical society, the Genealogical Forum of
 +
Oregon. We tried out ideas on each other;
 +
discarded some, modified others, and kept some.
 +
 +
 +
== REVIEW SIMILAR GUIDES ==
 +
 +
The first step is to review other state guides for
 +
format (see References, at end of this paper).
 +
This analysis provides an outline of what your
 +
book should look like. It also pinpoints areas
 +
where you need to locate information. State
 +
guides include some, or all, of the following:
 +
<ul>
 +
<li>a history of the state
 +
<li>maps showing counties and their
 +
formation
 +
<li>a bibliography of TITLES, usually
 +
arranged by county
 +
<li>courthouse resources
 +
<li>Family History Library microfilms
 +
<li> list of archives and their holdings
 +
<li>addresses and holdings of genealogical
 +
and historical libraries
 +
<li>addresses of cemetery associations
 +
<li>vital records sources
 +
<li>Internet resources
 +
</ul>
 +
 +
 +
== FORMULATE A PLAN ==
 +
 +
A crucial step is to decide what the book should
 +
look like; size, number of pages, and type of
 +
binding. The Genealogical Forum of Oregon has
 +
an offset press, so this dictated the page size and
 +
binding. Access to other types of duplicators
 +
might change the product.
 +
 +
The committee felt the easiest arrangement to
 +
read was by county. The initial plan for each
 +
county listing included a condensed history of
 +
the county; genealogical repositories with a
 +
summary of their resources; a bibliography
 +
arranged by topic; courthouse addresses and
 +
holdings; and a list of Oregon State Archives
 +
documents.
 +
 +
We know that it is frustrating for researchers to
 +
learn about a source but not know where to
 +
obtain it. Therefore, the plan also included a
 +
citation for each source listed. The format
 +
seemed good; we would tell readers what was
 +
available for each county and where they could
 +
find it. We realized something was missing,
 +
however.
 +
 +
In addition to county sources, a number of
 +
sources are statewide—such as church records,
 +
land records, military records and vital records.
 +
A new chapter included these. In addition to the
 +
types of statewide records available, it included
 +
a description of major genealogical repositories
 +
in the state of Oregon.
 +
 +
 +
== LOCATE INFORMATION ==
 +
 +
Then we went on to the information-gathering
 +
stage. This is the most time-consuming portion
 +
of the process. An on-site survey of the catalogs
 +
of the major Oregon genealogical libraries and
 +
the Family History Library supplied a list of
 +
Oregon references.
 +
 +
Letters directed to the presidents of all Oregon
 +
genealogical societies resulted in a list of their
 +
local publications. The merged bibliography was
 +
then divided into county sections.
 +
 +
Letters sent to courthouses requested information
 +
about their holdings. A principle rule of
 +
correspondence is to ask short, simple questions.
 +
We wanted to know what indexes and records
 +
were available and what years they covered.
 +
Therefore, those were the questions in the
 +
survey.
 +
 +
Letters were directed to “Deed Records,”
 +
“Divorce Records,” “Marriage Records,”
 +
“Probate Records,” “School Records,” “Tax
 +
Records,” and “Voter Records.” The return rate
 +
on these surveys was excellent: around 80
 +
percent. Several of the non-responding courts
 +
were nearby, so an on-site survey filled in the
 +
needed information. The information obtained
 +
from Wasco County for naturalization records
 +
provides an example of the scope of records:
 +
 +
Office of Circuit Court
 +
Wasco County Courthouse
 +
5th & Washington
 +
The Dalles, OR 97058
 +
<ul>
 +
<li>Declaration of Intent, begins 1855
 +
<li>Declarations, 1859-1989, in Miscellaneous
 +
Papers
 +
<li>Naturalization of Minors, 1894-1903
 +
<li>Naturalization of Adults, 1894-1903
 +
<li>Miscellaneous Record, Citizenship Outside
 +
Wasco County, begins 1875
 +
</ul>
 +
 +
Survey letters sent to historical societies and
 +
public libraries requested information on the
 +
following collections: diaries, manuscripts, and
 +
newspapers. The return rate from this mailing
 +
was poor, perhaps 30 per cent. The information
 +
that did come back was excellent, however, and
 +
unknown genealogical collections were
 +
uncovered.
 +
 +
Finally, historical maps were obtained from the
 +
Oregon State Archives for reproduction in the
 +
book. The Oregon Department of Transportation
 +
furnished county maps showing roads, towns,
 +
and range and section lines.
 +
 +
 +
== PREPARE THE GUIDE ==
 +
 +
The bibliography was separated into logical
 +
categories: biographies and diaries; cemetery
 +
records; census records; church records; city and
 +
county directories; city and county histories;
 +
court records; gazetteers, atlases; maps; land
 +
records; mortuary records; naturalization;
 +
newspapers; probate records; school records;
 +
taxes; vital records; and voters’ records.
 +
A code was assigned to repositories. This was
 +
added to the bibliographic citation. Exhibit A,
 +
below, uses examples from the Lane County
 +
section to show arrangement.
 +
 +
 +
== EVALUATION ==
 +
 +
Evaluation was a continual process. The
 +
committee met once a month to review the
 +
progress of the book. As I drafted each county
 +
section, a person familiar with records for that
 +
county reviewed it. A byproduct of this expert
 +
review was that we later received few critical
 +
letters from readers.

Latest revision as of 07:54, 30 August 2013

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