Review: Casefile Clues

casefile clues

Recently I was given the chance to look at two recent issues of Casefile Clues which is a genealogy newsletter produced by Michael John Neill.  When first contacted, I thought to myself, “Just what I need, another genealogy-related newsletter.” But was I wrong – Casefile Clues is no ordinary newsletter.  After one issue I was intrigued and could see the value of the case study to my own research efforts.  After the second issue I was hooked.

So what did I like about Michael’s well-written and well-researched efforts apparent in each issue?

A First Rate Research Guide

First, as someone who is working to gain their certification as a professional genealogist, I like learning about different research techniques and areas of research.  A reader of Casefile Clues is given a wide variety of cases covering different time periods and different geographical areas.

For example, the issues I recently read covered a case involving a homestead application in Nebraska.  Now in my own personal research I have never had a need for a “how to” on researching homestead applications.  But who knows when I may need it for clients in the future?  If I do need such a resource, I can turn to the Casefile Clues case to get a better understanding of the records involved and the research process.

I know that if I were a subscriber to Casefile Clues, I could have access to different research topics and easily consult back-issues when faced with many different research situations.

The Value of the Research Process

Second, I love the “CSI” aspect of genealogy.  This was apparent with my recent research project where I helped locate the family of Marjorie Pauline Frost in order to return a 1926 baby book her family once owned.  Many said that while reading the series of posts, they felt they were right inside my head watching the thought process as it happened.

I get that same feeling when reading a case study in Casefile Clues.  Another recent issue dealt with what was assumed to be a wrong name in a 1910 U.S. Census for a Chicago, Illinois family.  As Michael picked apart all the data and organized it in a way which made it easy to do further research, you could just watch the thought process unfold.

The Devil? In the Details, Of Course!

Third, when you work with a case study in Casefile Clues you get not only a well-written narrative but one that is filled with source citations, images of original records and even visual aids such as Google Maps.  Michael’s research expertise is obvious in each issue and he goes the extra mile by sharing every bit of information with you.


I was impressed with Casefile Clues.  So much so, I felt that a $15 annual subscription rate was well worth the information provided in each issue.  I’ve become fairly selective lately in terms of publications that I purchase, organizations that I join and newsletters/magazines to which I subscribe.  I didn’t have to think twice about my subscription to Casefile Clues.

[Disclosure: I was contacted by Michael John Neill in October 2009 and received two recent issues of Case File Clues (at no charge to me) with no obligation to publish a review. I have not been compensated monetarily in any way for this review or any work with Case File Clues. My intention is to give a good review, which does not necessarily mean a favorable review. In my mind a good review is one in which the subject of the review is fully researched and tested and my opinions are given while at the same time remaining fully transparent as to my involvement with the vendor of the product.]

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Save The State Library of Massachusetts Badge

Save Mass Library

Thanks to Dick Eastman of  Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter and others for alerting me to this issue. If you are not familiar with the issue involving the library and its fate due to budget cuts, read Dick’s post and realize that what was achieved in saving the Michigan State Library can also be achieved in Massachusetts.

If you would like to show your support for the State Library of Massachusetts, see the instructions below on how to use the code and create your own badge.

For Blogger:

1. Highlight the text in the box below, right-click and select Copy
2. In Blogger, go to Layout
3. Select Add A Gadget
4. Select HTML/Javascript
5. In the Content area, right-click and select Paste
6. Click Save

For WordPress:

1. Highlight the text in the box below, right-click and select Copy
2. In WordPress, go to Admin
3. Select Widgets
4. Locate Text and select Add
5. In the list of Widgets, locate new widget and click Edit
6. Right-click and select Paste
7. Click Done
8. Click Save Changes

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Genealogy – Goin’ Green

going green

[This post was written as part of Blog Action Day 2009 with the theme being Climate Change.]

While most genealogy bloggers are putting up posts about how climate change has affected their ancestors, as part of Blog Action Day 2009, here are some ways in which you pursue your genealogy research and activities can affect climate change.

Ways Genealogists Can Go Green

  • Print Less Paper.  Go paperless if you can but for many genealogists this is a challenge.  One option is to try and print two-sided documents (check your printer settings).  Another option is to reuse draft copies you would normally discard – print more drafts on the other side.
  • Do More Online Research.  Before automatically heading down to your local genealogy archive, library or society, consider if that same research can be done online either with free resources or your paid genealogy database subscriptions.  We’re not discouraging folks from visiting their favorite genealogy hang outs, but save the visits for research which can’t be performed online.  Consolidating the research into one trip rather than many small trips will save gas as well as wear and tear on the car.
  • Seek Out Online Educational Opportunities.  If you are looking for classes or ways to expand your genealogy knowledge, don’t forget online options.  Check out the ProGen Study Group, GenClass and others who provide similar services to the genealogy community.
  • Use Social Networking Tools To Connect.  Take advantage of blogs, Facebook and Twitter to connect with other genealogists.  Easily locate others who research similar geographic or ethnic lines.
  • Volunteer for Indexing Projects.  Genealogical societies and even genealogy vendors have plenty of opportunities available for those who want to lend a hand in indexing data.  Such efforts mean that online databases are made available to other genealogists and can help reduce research trips.
  • Ask Genealogical Societies and Genealogy Vendors To Go Green.  These organizations won’t have an incentive to change the way in which they offer their services if they don’t hear from their members and consumers.  Send an e-mail and offer suggestions on ways in which they can go green and still provide great services to the genealogy community.

Ways Genealogical Societies Can Go Green

  • Provide E-Newsletter and E-Periodicals.  Produce your monthly or quarterly newsletter electronically and eliminating a paper version.  If this isn’t feasible, provide an “electronic only” option when members sign up for communications from the society.  This will help reduce paper and postage costs.  See CGS Is Going Green (via California Genealogical Society and Library blog) for their recent experiences.
  • Produce the Conference Syllabus on CD. While more and more genealogy conferences are providing their syllabi on CD to participants, more can be done in this area.  Point out to attendees that they can easily search for information in the CD.  Another great incentive is to offer the CD version for free and charge for a print version.
  • Hold More Virtual Meetings.  Instead of or in addition to monthly meetings, consider holding on-line chats or webinars to keep members connected and still provide essential services.
  • Take Advantage of Social Networking.  Expand your society’s marketing capability by understanding and leveraging tools such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter to connect with members.
  • Offer a Green Membership.  A membership which does not involve paper communication and perhaps does not even allow someone to attend meetings could be offered at a lower cost and appear more attractive to potential new members.  Many genealogists belong to on-line only genealogical societies in order to access research databases and periodicals.

How Genealogy Vendors Can Go Green

  • Produce Genealogy Magazines and Periodicals in E-book Formats. Many genealogists would be willing to receive these items via email or a link via email even at the same cost as the print version (although a discount for goin’ green is a great incentive).
  • Reduce Product Packaging.  Offer a download-only version of software or other items instead of incurring packaging and shipping costs.
  • Take Advantage of Social Networking.  Expand your company’s marketing capability by understanding and leveraging tools such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter to connect with your customer base and potential customers.

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee