Genealogy Shows on TV  

Posted by Abba-Dad in

Like pretty much everyone else who's into genealogy I have been following the wave of new shows already shown on TV or coming soon to a screen near you. I have a few comments and wanted to share my thoughts with my readers.

Faces of America - I was very excited about this show, but overall I am a bit disappointed. I am not sure that the format of cutting a slice in time and then connecting the different stories to it is very appealing to me. I would probably prefer to go deeper than wider. The show is well done, but barely scratches the surface of what is possible to research. I guess PBS was trying to get wider appeal to its audience of non-genea-nuts.

I watched the first two episodes with my wife, who is a non-nut. I am not sure she was 'that' interested. Some historical facts are absolutely mind-boggling and could have been more throughly presented. For example, the fact that on one hand allied forces were liberating Jewish survivors from Nazi concentration camps compared with the incarceration in concentration camps of American citizens who happened to be of Japanese descent would have been interesting. How could something like this happen? How is it possible that this took place in America?

In any case, I like the historical aspect of the show, but as I've read elsewhere, I would have liked more meat on the bones. How were these resources located? How were these 'Book of Life' volumes put together, how long did it take and how much did it cost? Maybe that's just my curiousity...

The Generations Project - This is a fantastic show! The host is terrific and the filmed segments really show how any person can have an interesting ancestry. I would have liked to see a little more of the research, but perhaps that would have caused the show to be a little dull. I love this show and I think everyone reading this should tune in and watch it.

Who Do You Think You Are? - I am really looking forward to this show. I think that doing an episode on each celebrity is a better format than 'Faces' and will allow the viewer to follow the storyline better. It looks to have the most polished production as well, but that probably comes with a much higher price tag.

I will probably have more to say once WDYTYA starts. But so far, I love the new genealogy themed shows that are starting to sprout everywhere. Enjoy!

Commercial Traveler  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , , , , ,

I've been going over old census entries to see if I can find new clues as well as cite my sources properly. While this is somewhat tedious, I've already found a lot of information I've overlooked in the past. Here's an interesting example, the 1930 US Census for my wife's great-grandfather Saul Hytowitz and his family. Here's the interesting bit:

These are the columns 25-31 that deal with occupation, employment and veterans. I couldn't figure out what his occupation was from the handwriting although I can clearly see he worked in the shoe industry. Luckily, I ran across a blog post on Ancestories that had a link to a website that details the instructions for the census enumerators. And then I found this:

217. Distinguish a traveling salesman from a salesman in a store; the former should be reported as a commercial traveler.

I knew he was a shoe salesman because I found that out in the 1930 Pittsburgh City Directory and other sources:

But I didn't know he was a travelling shoe salesman. And guess what? His son Joe does the exact same thing.

A few other interesting things:

1. The city directory shows Saul owning the house on Straka Street with his children renting space there. The 1930 census says he's the one renting the house for $73 a month. I wonder which one is right. I wonder if he bought the house sometime during the year.
2. I just noticed that Saul's parents, Jacob and Rose are also in the city directory. Didn't see that before.
3. The veterans section of the census shows that Saul was a veteran and served in World War I. His son Joe was also a veteran. I need to figure out how to get their service records. I didn't notice that before either.

UPDATE: Steve Morse has a great little page that deciphers the occupation codes in the 1930 Census. I entered 4290 and got 'Commercial travelers' in 'Retail store or retail trade'.

2010 Census Idea  

Posted by Abba-Dad in ,

I saw the great 2010 Census ad on the SuperBowl last night and that gave me a great idea. First, check out the ad:

So anyway, that got me thinking. I don't really remember filling out a census form or talking to anyone in 2000. I think I got something in the mail, but not confident that I filled it out or mailed it in. I know I will be a lot more prepared this time around in 2010.

So my idea is to save my 2010 Census info in my genealogical database. And maybe even ask all living relatives in the tree to send me a copy of their forms. This way I will be 72 years ahead of the curve. And when I eventually pass this burden on to someone else, they won't have to wait until 2082 to see who we were and what we did. I can do the same thing every decade. Imagine my great-grandson's surprise when he is handed an antique flash drive that includes every census the family has taken in the past 70 years...

If you want to know what the 10 questions that will be asked, you can check out the interactive form guide here.

My question about doing this is - is it legal? From the 2010 Census site I got the following:

Census information is protected by law, and everyone who works for the census must swear that they will never disclose any personal information. Penalties for any employee who might share that information are severe: up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. By law, the Census Bureau can’t share your information with anyone — including other federal agencies and law enforcement. Your information is safe.

But does that mean I can't share my own information or ask relatives to send me their forms? I don't think so. Obviously if it's in a genealogical database that is not properly protected, this information might leak and cause all sorts of issues for some people, but the same can be said about all the info I already have about living relatives, right?

What do you think of this idea? Isn't it a great way to get a lot of information about your current living relatives that you might already know? I didn't see any question that might seem to personal.

Let me know in the comments!

Snooki Sunday  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , , ,

I am not sure what the appeal is with the awful show called Jersey Shore, but I guess MTV has to air something since they don't show videos any more. So the whole Snooki phenomenon has gone insane and with it a couple of sites that let you download a PNG file of the orange one where you can insert her into other images (site 1, site 2).

I decided to have a little fun and add Snooki to some historical images. If you decide to make your own, post a link in the comments!