About SGES

The Southern Genealogists Exchange Society is located in Jacksonville, FL, but serves the entire U.S. Southeast, and beyond. Our genealogical library is located at 6215 Sauterne Dive, Jacksonville. Visit our website at http://www.sgesjax.com.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

If an Ancestor Died in Jacksonville, Florida . . .

. . . you are in luck!

The Southern Genealogists Exchange Society has been obsessed with death -- that of other people, that is, and recording all sorts of facts about that occurrence in the lives of residents of Jacksonville and surrounding areas.  We have our own hop-to-it graveyard rabbits, and I plan to introduce them to you soon.  We also have an extensive collection of obituaries from a variety of local publications, dating from 1851 to 2009.  One virtue of obituaries is that they often name other family members.  This can provide clues for follow-up and can lead to some important genealogical discoveries.

Obituaries vary greatly in their format and content.  Many are written by family members, and these can contain a great deal of information.  They also may contain a certain bit of hyperbole, so may be approached with caution.

The big lucky news for those who do have ancestors who died in Jacksonville is that the SGES obituary collection is now available through Ancestry.com.  The mounting of the collection was announced in the Ancestry Monthly Update for September 2011.  There are more than 105,000 obituaries in the collection.  Interspersed in the collection are some funeral home records and some newspaper articles about the individuals in the collection.

Ancestry provides the following information about what is in the collection:  The name of the publication in which the obituary appeared, the date of publication, the publication location (that is, whether it was located in Jacksonville proper or elsewhere in north Florida), and the given name and the surname of the decedent.  Other information which may be in the collection (on an entry-by-entry basis; some have it, some do not) is:  The name of the decedent's spouse, the decedent's birth date, the decedent's death date, the decedent's age, the names of surviving relatives, the location of the death and the burial of the decedent, the date and location of the funeral service, the name of the officiating clergy, the decedent's parents' names, and in some cases even an image of the decedent.

The collection is not definitive.  Your obedient servant searched for her grandmother and mother, both of whom died in Jacksonville, and found neither.  Nor did she find her husband's grandfather, his grandmother, or his mother, though she did find his father's obituary.  One must also realize that occasionally, there is no obituary for some individuals.  To the right is a browse function, but it is not functioning.  It says you can browse either by a span of years, selected from a drop-down list, or by the first letter of the surname.  There is, however, no drop-down or other list for an alphabet from which to choose the first letter of the surname, nor is there a box into which to enter such a letter.  This is apparently a programming glitch that needs to be fixed, and your official SGES blogger has notified Ancestry of the problem.

Of course, access to the collection requires an Ancestry.com membership, or access at a public library or other facility, and in Jacksonville at the SGES library.  You can, as with other documents in Ancestry's database, easily attach the obituary you find to the relevant individual in your family tree on your Ancestry account.  When you do find an obituary, it is displayed on a field in which it may be enlarged for easier reading.

This adds another layer to the wealth of information available at Ancestry.com, and SGES is pleased to have provided it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Upcoming Events

We have a couple of events coming up of interest to the genealogical and historical communities at the local level:

On 10 September 2011 is our seminar: "Bringing Your Ancestors to Life," with guest speaker Patricia Charpentier.  This is a hands-on writing workshop, where participants will write brief vignettes of their family history using techniques that Ms. Charpentier will teach during the day-long session.  Volunteering participants will then read their selections to the audience.  Fee at the door is $40.  For more information, visit http://www.sgesjax.com and click on 'Upcoming Events" or call the Society at 904-778-1000.

On 24 September Baker County celebrates their sesquicentennial, sponsored by the Baker County Historical Society.  SGES will have a table at the festival.   The celebration will be in Macclenny, in Baker County, near the junction of U.S. 90 and Fifth Street (coming from Jacksonville, turn right on Fifth Street).  See http://www.150yearsofbaker.com for more information.

On the national level, there are three upcoming events of interest:

Federation of Genealogical Societies Annual Conference, this year in Springfield, Illinois, 7-10 September.  See http://www.fgsconferenceblog.org/ for more information.

32nd Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society Conference, Little Rock, Arkansas, 22-25 September.  See http://bit.ly/naKw6j for more information (that is a shortened URL).

Atlanta Family History Expo, Atlanta, Georgia, 11-12 November.  For more information see http://222.fhexpos.com/expos/.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Southern Genealogists Exchange Society

The Southern Genealogists Exchange Society is one of two dynamic genealogical societies located in Jacksonville, FL.  Though we style ourselves a local genealogical society, and most of our activities take place in the northeast Florida area, we serve the entire U.S. Southeast, and the rest of the country, as well,.  We have members all over the country.

We publish a newsletter, Legacy, which is distributed to members electronically.  We also publish a quarterly, The Southern Genealogist's Exchange Quarterly, which features articles about families, copies of documents, lists of cemetery interments, and other information of use to genealogists and family historians.  The quarterly began as a privately-published periodical in 1957, and has been in continuous publication since then.

We host yearly seminars.  We have had as seminar guests Lisa Arnold from Ancestry.com and George G. Morgan, one of the "Genealogy Guys."  Our seminars cover a variety of topics, with a host of local and national speakers.  Our next seminar is on 10 September 2011, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Riverside Presbyterian Church, 849 Park Street, in Jacksonville.  The speaker is Patricia Charpentier, who will guide attendees in writing down their family histories and memories.  Patricia has been our guest before, and her sessions are lively and instructive.  Start writing your memories now.

Our president is Jon Ferguson.  I am the Education Chair and duty blogger, Karen Rhodes.  This blog will discuss the activities of SGES, its history, and topics of genealogical interest not just to those tracing southern lineages, but -- I hope -- to all.  I also plan to have guest bloggers present their own perspectives on genealogical topics.

For more information on the SGES, including how to join, visit our website.