© copyright 1998 Slovenian Genealogical Society, all rights reserved
Another summer has passed. For my wife and me, 1990, has been a very stress filled but interesting year. As I write this, my wife's brother has still not been able to escape from that hellhole of hospitality called Iraq. We pray daily he will find a way out. September 1990 was also a time of endings, a time of new beginnings for us. Our youngest, we no longer call him our baby, has joined his older sisters at college, so his mother and I are now rediscovering the life we left 20 years ago. We seem to have time in abundance now to do the things we've always wanted to do, but there is that horrible echo that rings throughout an empty house to keep us from enjoying each other too much, at least for another week or two. By the time semester break rolls around we'll probably be enjoying our newly found freedom so much, we'll be happy to see all three head back to campus.
In the past few days, I've received an announcement from Ancestry, the genealogical publisher. They have published their latest volume, The Library of Congress: A Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research. While I have not had a chance to order or read this volume yet, I must admit that if this book follows in the tradition of The Source" and The Library: A Guide to the LDS Family History Library, it will be a valuable addition to any genealogist's library. NO, I am not a partner in the Ancestry Corporation, and NO, I do not receive free copies of their products. These are 3 books that every public library in the country should have on their shelves. The best way to make that happen is to go in and make the request to the librarian.
The September 1990, issue of LIFE magazine offered a 12 page pictorial and written exhibition on the reopening of the facilities at Ellis Island. While the piece was interesting-the pictures compelling, there just weren't enough stories. In fact, nowhere near enough to warrant purchase of the book by those of us interested in genealogy. I would think that some publishing house would put together about 500 pages of stories and pictures and make it available on a continuing basis at Ellis Island.
A three page story on the Ellis Island reopening in the July, 1990, American Legion Magazine was more informative, but again, just too short for those of us infected with the genealogical virus. A very informative piece appeared in the Sunday, September 2, 1990, New York Times. It conveyed the unpleasant news that while the official opening of the magnificently restored main building has occurred, the money needed to complete the computerized access to the data on 17 million immigrants has not been forthcoming. $14 million is needed, and the corporate sponsors of America have not seen fit to continue their generosity.
Over $20 million has already been raised by individual donors through the purchase of inscription rights for the Wall of Honor. Hopefully, some of this money can be used to complete the genealogically significant computerized portion of the refurbishing project. Why rebuild museum walls if the treasure it was meant to hold in neglected? Will we get a mausoleum or a living immigrant archive? One final note of regret, while the museum itself is a real value, it appears that the short ferry ride to the museum is greatly overpriced at $6.00 per person. This is especially galling in light of the fact that a walking bridge is already in place and could be used by the public if the Park Service would permit it. The bridge was made to serve as a temporary structure, and it could easily be made structurally sound enough to allow the America public that has already paid for the museum to get to it without being financially assaulted.
I found a genealogical gem in an unlikely source, Federal Computer Week, in early September. The article was on computerizing land grant documents in 13 states from the administration of George Washington to Theodore Roosevelt. This will amount to a literal visual archive, preserving records from crumbling paper sources that will never again fade and be retrievable by anyone with access to a desktop PC. The records are being scanned, indexed, then stored on 12 inch double-sided, double density optical disks that can hold 40,000 images per disk. Original document images can be brought up and printed as desired.
The Bureau of Land Management is completing this project, and it appears that the Library of Congress, The National Archive, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Navy is also interested in this off the shelf technology. This would be a very wonderful technology for all the Armed Services to acquire, as well as the Social Security Administration. I wonder when a private company will seize the initiative and start operating this type of data bank. In any event, Bureau of Land Management records should no longer be ignored by genealogists.
The Society would like to thank Mike Vidmar for a copy of an every name index to the SWU publication From Slovenia to America. Indexes like this take a tremendous amount of time and effort, and we appreciate the effort. Mike is also going to donate a copy of the publication to the society. As always, we remind our members that our Society would appreciate copies of any and all Slovenian publications you come across. Many of our immigrant ancestors arrived in this country early in the century. As they pass, many of the Slovenian publications that bear witness to their struggle can be misplaced, lost, or discarded. Please don't let that happen.
Finally, our Society is at one of those important crossroads in the life of any organization. We have the capability of growing steadily and continuing to collect the documentation of the lives of individual Slovenian immigrants, or we must lose some momentum and plan for a lengthy but reduced workload. We need some volunteer help. If you can offer us some quality time, please write. We need several individuals to serve 3 year terms.
We badly need someone to handle memberships. This would involve handling all new inquiries, maintaining our mailing list, and keeping our organization in the public's eye. We would also like to have someone to coordinate our effort in acquiring Slovenian publications, past and present. We could also use some help in organizing our translating, typing and indexing projects. If you'd like to help, write us. Let us know what position you are willing to fill and include an outline of the plans you have for accomplishing this task.