Blog Entries: 1 to 6 of 6
General Meeting – February 25, 2017
Oral Histories: How to Record Stories of Your Family Members
Courtney Mitchell, Voices in Time
How many times have you thought “I wish I had asked my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. about ... “ or “I remember grandma telling the story of when she and grandpa…”? None of us have perfect recall, so unless we record their stories in audio or in writing, their stories disappear.
During her presentation Courtney pointed out that stories bind and strengthen families. Stories connect the generations. Stories help children have better coping skills. Family history isn’t complete without the stories. We may succeed at recording important dates and events, but having the stories behind the events gives depth to your family ancestry. Research has shown that non-recorded stories are lost after three generations.
Audio recordings preserve the treasure of hearing your relative’s story told in their own voice and convey their emotion, personality and character. There's something of the soul captured in the human voice. Their voice is the treasure! Video recording tends to makes people more nervous and others generally don’t like to watch long videos. Listening to an audio recording engages the imagination and people can listen in snippets. Later you can create slide shows and use the audio to create the soundtracks.
A 90-minute session at your relative’s home seems to work well. It is usually best to only have the person being interviewed and the interviewer in the room. That way there is no one to interrupt or correct them. It’s their story, their memory. You want to capture all of the emotion with the stories.
After the recording is completed, it can be edited into chapters and saved on CDs, flash drives or in the cloud. Courtney suggested using Audacity software to edit the recording. Audacity is a free, open source, cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing. http://www.audacityteam.org/
The advantage of using a personal historian from a service like Voices in Time is they have not heard the stories before so they can draw out the stories and the emotions with prompts and questions. Their professional editing skills can save you the frustration of doing the final production work yourself and you end up with a high quality product.
But whether you want to do the recording yourself or hire a professional service like Voices in Time, just do it!
Pictured are Char Mitts - JCGS President, Courtney Mitchell - Voices in Time, Kathy Elwein - JCGS 2nd Vice President, Program Chair.
General Meeting – January 28, 2017
Researching Germans from Russia
Our first speaker for the New Year was Mike Meisinger who spoke on the topic of “Germans From Russia”. Meisinger, who is half German-Russian, has been researching his German-Russian ancestors for over 40 years and is an expert on the subject. He is a Board Member of the American Historical Society of Germans From Russia. ASHGR “is an international, nonprofit educational organization engaged in researching the history of all German Russians. Volunteers and staff on both local chapter and international levels search for information, translate, and develop a storehouse of knowledge useful to current and future generations.”
The story of the Germans from Russia is a very interesting one that began when Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, was trying to colonize the area along the lower Volga River in an effort to stabilize the region. She issued a Manifesto in 1763 designed to attract other populations in Europe to the area. Catherine’s grandson, Alexander I, made some changes and reissued the manifesto in 1804. By 1897 more than 1,800,000 ethnic Germans were living in the Russian Empire.
In his presentation Mr. Meisinger shared the reasons why some Germans decided to leave their homelands in Western Europe. He explained what was promised in the Manifesto to the colonizers that convinced them to relocate to Russia and the impact that had on the areas where they settled. He also shared stories of the later events in Russia that set off a mass exodus of German-Russians to North and South America. Most of the 115,000 immigrants who came to the United States settled in farming areas, many coming to Kansas. Some believe that Turkey Red wheat was brought to Kansas in 1874 by German Mennonites who had first moved to Russia seeking religious freedom.
These are some resources that can help with researching Germans from Russia.
German / Russian Organizations:
American Historical Society of Germans from Russia
German Russian Historical Society
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Center for Volga German Studies
The Johnson County Kansas Genealogist receives special recognition!
One of the benefits you receive when you become a member of the Johnson County Genealogy Society is a free subscription to their quarterly publication - Johnson County Kansas Genealogist
. Each issue is always both interesting and informative, thanks to the time and effort our quarterly committee and the various contributors put into its publication. Darlene Jerome, the quarterly editor was pleasantly surprised recently when she opened an envelope that arrived in the mail and inside was this Certificate of Appreciation from the Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies Inc. recognizing the Johnson County Kansas Genealogist
as an outstanding genealogy quarterly! Thank You KCGS for this recognition!
Getting the quarterly journal ready for publication takes a lot of time and effort. Hats off to our quarterly committee members Darlene Jerome, Joyce A. Mitchell, Marsha Bennett, and Cathy Lawrenz. Thanks also to those who take the time to write the numerous articles for their outstanding work!
When you become a member of the Johnson County Genealogy Society, you will have online access to the quarterly journals from March 2004 to the current addition. The March 1973, June 1973 and September 1974 issues are also available online and are pretty fascinating to read! Older editions will soon be added to the webpage.
Access to the publication is through the Members link on the left hand side of this page under Secure Download. And if you are not a current member of Johnson County Genealogy Society, you can click on the Membership link for membership information.
If you are not a current member of Johnson County Genealogy Society, click on the Membership link on the left side of this page for membership information.
Thanks, Katie Stramel
Wishing Katie Stramel All our Best!
We were all sad to see Katie Stramel leave her position in February as the Regional Reference/Local History Librarian at the Central Resource library. But we share in her excitement and wish her the best as she prepares for her new role as a new mother to twin boys!
When Katie started her job in May of 2016 she was new to family history and genealogy. But she learned quickly and became an invaluable resource to the Society. One of the many things Katie did was to work with the JCGS Library Volunteer Coordinator, Dorothy Zarda, and the JCGS Librarian, Carol Kuse, to manage the Society’s collection of genealogical materials that are kept in the Genealogy Section and with the volunteers that work at the Genealogy Desk in the Central Resource Library. She also worked with JCGS President, Char Mitts, to see that the various JCGS meetings were scheduled and she coordinated communication between JCGS and Johnson County Library administration.
Katie was immensely helpful getting challenges worked out within the Genealogy Department, including providing two new computers for the genealogy desk at Central Resource Library to help the volunteers service patrons better.
The books within the genealogy area are in the process of being reorganized to make them more user-friendly for our patrons. Over the years, the catalogers have used a couple different ways of cataloging the books, which caused problems when trying to find specific topics. The books have been cataloged by the first letter of the title (like “A” and “THE”), while others are cataloged by author, not by subject matter.
The first updates will be to the Family History surname publications section and will be shelved by the family surname. The vital records and local histories publications will be cataloged alphabetically by state then by county, alphabetically. That is
not the case presently.
Katie ordered magnetic strips that are attached to the shelves, designating where each state is located within the aisles making it easier to find what you are looking for. The state names were also placed with the Dewey Decimal numbers on the end caps of the shelving units.
Dorothy commented “Katie has been a great gal to work with this past year, with a great personality and fun sense of humor. She has been very diligent and when glitches would arise, very prompt in getting the problem worked out. We will definitely miss her, but she has a new career now, being a Mommy to two little boys. We wish her the best.”
In appreciation of all of Katie’s hard work and dedication, Dorothy presented Katie with a cake from the JCGS Board, a cash gift donations from the JCGS library desk volunteers and two beautiful baby blankets lovingly made by Dorthy!
New in the JCGS Library Collection
JCGS recently r
eceived a donation from the Olathe Chapter of the DAR. America's Women in the Revolutionary Era 1760-1790: A History Through Bibliography
is a three volume set edited by DAR Library Director Eric G. Grundset. It is an authoritative guide to women’s and girls’ lives in the era of the American Revolution. This encyclopedic bibliography is organized in different ways to make it as useful as possible. Grunset chose to sort information in volume 1 by topic, volume 2 by geography and the third volume is a chronology that shows how historians’ understanding of these women and girls has developed over time.
This book will be an inspiration to find our female patriots as well as a boon for researchers in women's studies. Again, this is a bibliography of source material. It will show the way to known sources and to sources such as dissertations that are not so well known.
Carol and Bernie Kuse, JCGS library volunteers with the new set of books. Carol is also our JCGS Librarian.
JCGS 45th Anniversary!
2017 is the 45th anniversary of the Johnson County Genealogical Society! The occasion was recognized with a cake at our January meeting.
I was curious about our society’s beginnings and noticed that a copy of the first edition of the Johnson County Genealogist quarterly magazine that was published in the March 1973 was available on our website. So here is some information about how our society came to be that I have taken from that first, typewritten quarterly magazine.
“Our organization was created as a result of a genealogical workshop held last September at the Antioch Branch of the Johnson County Library, and co-sponsored by the Johnson County Junior College. On November 18, 1972, an organizational meeting was held to create a Genealogical Society here in Johnson County. We were incorporated under the State laws of Kansas, December 29. 1972. At the January meeting all of the organizational officers were elected as regular officers of the Corporation, and three new officers were elected, as specified by the By-laws, which were also adopted.”
There were 98 charter members. The original elected officers were President, Leland Adams; First Vice-president, Nancy Grimme; Second Vice-President, Carolyn Jennett; Recording Secretary, Linda Bacon; Corresponding Secretary, Robert F. Cell; Treasurer, Anita Cole; Librarian, Clyde Rinker; Registrar, Lois Scott Parenteau.
Annual dues were $5.00. Meetings were held on the fourth Friday evening of odd numbered months at the Corinth Branch of the Johnson County Library System and the fourth Saturday morning of even numbered months at the Antioch Branch of the Johnson County Library System.
The Society’s genealogical collection was housed in the Kansas Room at the Antioch Library. Donations of Books, manuscripts, magazines or pamphlets were welcome.
Contributions for the quarterly magazine – The Johnson County Genealogist were also encouraged. It was published quarterly during the first week of March, June, September and December.
The objectives of the Society were very similar to our objectives currently –
- To preserve and perpetuate the records of our ancestors.
- To locate, preserve, index and publish public and private genealogical records.
- To acquire a collection of genealogical and historical material for our library.
- To encourage and instruct members in the art and practice of genealogical research and compilation.
- To maintain and elevate genealogical standards.
A little piece of local history that I discovered in that first quarterly magazine was that Johnson County, Kansas was organized August 30, 1855. It was named after the Reverend Thomas Johnson, a Methodist minister who was murdered January 2, 1865 by bushwhackers.
How thankful we are for the vision and ambition that these first members had in establishing the Johnson County Genealogical Society. We are continuing a great legacy. Happy Anniversary JCGS!