Monday, June 29, 2009

Blacksheep Sunday - The USGenWeb Project

The USGenWeb Project has been around for more than 12 years. It is a project that encompasses all fifty States, and the District of Columbia.

The premise of the Project is to have a site established for each county level jurisdiction, and be a resource for FREE genealogy data, either by on-site content, or by links and references.

It is a volunteer driven project, with over 2,000 volunteer 'coordinators' who maintain sites in 3,141 jurisdictions. There is always a county somewhere that needs a volunteer or two to make it work.

What it takes to be a 'member' is a willingness to spend time managing a website for a county, usually one you have resources in, or have ancestors connected to.

The structure is similar to real life, there are State groups who manage the county localities, within their state. All states link to the national web page, located at

In addition to localities, it is sometimes found that special topics cross county and state lines, therefor the USGenWeb has established several "Special Projects" to highlight these areas.

If you have some time and want to get more involved in making a difference in your localities of interests, please visit the website and look around.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Black Sheep Sunday - The Gather, Family Holidays and Remembrances

Fathers day.

A great time to think of and if possible talk with our fathers.

Also its one of the holidays where we all should really make an effort to get those stories and write them down. We all must face a time in our lives when those stories will no longer be available to us.

I think that our forefathers in the USA really valued Family tradition, and respected their progenitors.

Think of our holidays and what they are celebrating.

Genealogically speaking almost any of our holidays can be applied as genealogy connected.

Of Course - Mother's day, Father's day, Memorial Day, Veteran's day, Thanksgiving are days of remembrance. And we have holidays of gathering, Christmas, the other seasonal gatherings, and The Fourth of July, and ethnic or religious gatherings as well, like Cinco de Mayo, and All Saints day, and Easter.

Anytime the family gathers can be a time to fill in details.

We all have special days for ourselves, Birthdays, anniversaries, and traditions of personal remembrance, such as remembering the passing of a loved one.

With the advent of digital media there are many ways of making long lasting records of our remembrances. We can make photographs, and share them, diaries and journals, scrapbooks, build a family tree either in long hand or using a program, make video records, etc.

With a little preparation you can add to your personal remembrance project, and get others involved, too.

You can - like so many of us have done in the past - create a family event just for that purpose. Give plenty of warning to the other participants so they can prepare as well. It is especially nice to invite those who you haven't seen in a while, and even those who may be family blacksheep. Arrange to have a story telling time, and have a video recorder of some kind to capture the stories for later transcribing. Bring all your Identified and unidentified family photos, and have a "who is this" circle. This also prompts storytelling.

You might want to consider having your materials and photos on several CD-roms for distribution, and ask to copy others. (If this is the case a scanner and a laptop will be handy).

Do family traditions as a goal, the meat is the data but the desert is the family lore.

If there is a factual dispute ongoing in your family, bring your supporting sources for others to read and decide for themselves.

If there is a family blacksheep you know about, you can avoid direct discussion and leave the clues around for others to "discover" and put together for themselves, if you are known as the family historian they will report their "finds" to you and you will have a different view to add.

If you can organize, plan and accomplish a successful "gather" then it can be a recurring event, and can be a new tradition to add to your family's heritage.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Black Sheep Sunday - The International BlackSheep Society of Genealogists [IBSSG]

The International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists (IBSSG) is an Association of Genealogists who have found "blacksheep ancestors" in their direct family lines, or under the "One Degree Rule" of the Society.

The One Degree Rule is: If a person lived in the family domicile of an ancestor, and the actions of that individual affected the family, as if they were a ancestor, or member of the immediate family, then that individual's acts can be used for membership qualification under this rule.

The Society was formed in late 1997.

The mailing list for the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists (IBSSG) is, a combined topic list, where most of the activity occurs. the Society list requires you to subscribe before posting, non-member posts are held for approval, and since answers will likely be posted ON the lists, you should consider joining to see them.

Subscribing to Blacksheep

Subscribe to Blacksheep by sending a NEW email from the address you wish subscribed to: adding the word SUBSCRIBE as the subject or body. If you want a daily digest of the list instead of individual emails, contact:

A note of caution, the list is a high traffic list, and the topics are NOT limited to genealogy, but should have a connection to genealogy. Being a society, we like to be friendly with each other, it is a club.

Qualification for the Society membership (and the right to use IBSSG after your signature in genealogy correspondence) is granted on the main list ( by posting the following:


Subject: Qualification request

Body should mention the following: Your relationship to the individual Why you think he or she is a Blacksheep of the Family Whether or not the acts were of a social or criminal nature, unless it is obvious.

IMPORTANT If the individual is living, or the acts are still having an immediate effect on your family, or disclosure may lead to danger to anyone, please do not submit the details publicly.

Our Tender Lambs Corner is set up for the PRIVATE submission of this type of qualification, please write our Tender Lambs Coordinator (TLC) Sue Bates ( to submit directly to her confidentially. What you submit under the TLC program is entirely private. Only Sue will know, and will announce your membership without details.

Purpose and Goals

The purpose of the Society is to discuss family blacksheep in order to learn more about them and share information about your "Black Sheep" with other members of the IBSSG! Many times having a Black Sheep in the family leads to a family "wall of silence" and research into the family becomes very difficult. Our Goal is to help find alternate routes to information sources, and to "normalize" the view of the blacksheep as a person, who has a place in the FACTUAL history of the family, without regard to behaviors.

Remember, the acts may be embarrassing to others in your family, but within the Society, you are not alone! Many of us have similar situations, and can relate (actually many of us are related) to the problems in doing this research.

Jeff Scism, IBSSG