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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Can You Really Trust That Cause of Death?


Last night, 7 January 2014, we sat and watched The Poisoner's Handbook, an episode of the American Experience series on PBS. I strongly recommend that every genealogist and family historian working with death records watch this episode to gain a better understanding of how "unnatural" deaths were investigated at the turn of the 20th century.

Some interesting information that I did not know, was that in New York City, a coroner's position was considered a patronage position. This meant they could influence which funeral home handled the remains and even how the circumstances of the death and the cause of death were handled in the coroner's report and resulting death certificate.

The Poisoner's Handbook traces different types of poisoning crimes and explains how two pioneers - Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler - changed the entire science of how causes of death were investigated and reported. In fact, some of Gettler's research - especially that of carbon monoxide poisoning - is still used almost 80 years since its first publication.

So while go back and look at some of my early New York City death certificates in my research, take a look at this excellent film:
© 2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year and New Beginnings


So what will 2014 bring for me as I continue on my quest of building a genealogy business? What about personal goals? Any predictions for 2014? It's all here . . .

Business Objectives

One sign of a successful business, in my opinion, is one that is adaptable and can deal with change as a means of growth. In 2013 I spent quite a bit of my time - up to 50% - providing consulting services to clients. This advice was mainly focused on marketing and reaching the genealogy community.

In 2014, I've restructured my offerings to get away from hourly billings and more towards "products" that focus on content marketing. Examples include blog posts, articles, marketing copy, and webinar development.

I've come to the conclusion that I love to write and many of my clients agree that I write rather well. So that's where the focus is in 2014. In addition, writing is a good partner to the goal of "more passive income" which means "write it once and wait for the royalties." So where I can I am willing to forego an upfront payment and instead take an author or editor royalty on the sale of the finished product.

Publishing

I've been fortunate enough to learn the ins and outs of self-publishing over the past year; to the point of having nine of my own e-books available for sale at Amazon. And I've translated my skills and experience in using the Amazon Kindle Publishing platform to edit and publish the entire Legacy Quick Guide series in Kindle format.

Look for more e-books from me and from other genealogy authors on the Kindle platform as well as other formats in 2014.

Travel

A big year for travel including trips to Australia, Burbank, Indianapolis, New York, Palm Springs, Richmond, St. Paul, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Sandusky, Southern Illinois, and local Chicagoland cities. Much of the travel will be related to genealogy conferences and speaking engagements. Given that I traveled over 50,000 miles in 2013, I may come close to doubling that amount in 2014.

Presentations

Having delivered over 80 individual lectures in 2013, mostly in-person, I'm looking forward to about the same number for 2014. I'm happy to report that I've been able to greatly increase the number of webinars offered, especially to genealogy societies across the United States. This is an indicator, at least in my eyes, that more and more societies are comfortable with the concept of webinars and are using them to bring more speakers to their members at a better price point.

In terms of topics, I now have close to 80 different topics from which to present, with many new subjects. I'm excited about some of the new lectures such as 7 Habits of Highly Frugal Genealogists and the new "super powers" series.

Personal Goals

I'm not done putting together my personal goals and some of them, frankly, are too personal to put in a blog. Taking better care of myself is an overarching goal which encompasses reducing my weight, getting more exercise and staying on top of chronic medical issues. Last year was a real eye-opener for me in terms of medical issues and I count my blessings each and every day that I can get up each morning on my own, dress myself, feed myself and earn a living.

One Word: Gratitude

Well maybe more than one word but I am so thankful that I'm pursuing my dream of running my own business and helping others learn more about genealogy and family history. Other words and phrases that I'll be using as my mantras for 2014 include:
  • Gravitate towards good
  • Stay glad
  • Go big and go home (you can do both)
  • Get out there
  • Go far
And I'll focus on putting the "gee" back in genealogy. I hope that 2014 brings you all that you want and more not just in terms of genealogy but life in general!

© 2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 24 - Advent Devotional 2013

Tuesday, 24 December 2013


Stories simply written can teach many lessons. "The Story of the Other Wise Man" by Henry Van Dyke proves this point clearly. The story is simply this. A well educated astronomer and physician by the name of Artaban has planned to join his colleagues, the three wise men, to go in search of Jesus Christ, the new born king of the Jews. Artaban starts off to meet Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. He brings with him three gifts: a sapphire, a ruby and a pearl. His colleagues are bringing the Christ Child gold, frankincense and myrrh. Artaban was to meet the three wise men in ten days. He never meets them. The wise men saw Christ in Bethlehem. Artaban never sees the child. Artaban fails to meet the three wise men and Christ because along the way he is delayed.

Why didn't he meet the wise men at the appointed time? He met a man along the way who was sick and dying. Artaban ministered to him, took care of him and restored him to life. But in doing so he missed the three wise men who had to leave without him. And so the search for the person of Christ was something Artaban had to do on his own. He gives the sapphire to a small caravan to help them go across the desert. He takes counsel from a scholarly Jewish Rabbi who tells him that the new born king is not to be found in a palace, nor among the rich and powerful. His kingdom is a new kingdom, the royalty of perfect and unconquerable love. Artaban followed the counsel of the Rabbi and though, as Van Dyke says, he found more to worship, he found many to help. He fed the hungry, he clothed the naked and healed the sick and comforted the captive. His ruby was given to a soldier to protect a small child from being slaughtered. His last gift, the pearl, was given to prevent a young woman from being taken into slavery.

The quest for Christ continues for some 33 years. One day, at Passover, people were talking about a crucifixion that was taking place. The earth started to quake. The sky darkened. Artaban and the young woman he had given the pearl to sought shelter. A heavy tile struck Artaban on the head. He was badly injured. Then Artaban, with blood all over his face, seemed to be whispering and saying, "not so, My Lord, for when did I see you hungry, or thirsty and gave thee to drink? When did I see a stranger and take thee in? For 33 years I have looked for you and never saw your face." And the voice that prompted all the words of Artaban became more clear and strong and said, "as often as you did it to one of these, my brethren, you did it to me."

There is no doubt that the other wise men found the king. But Artaban also found him in his own way. There is no doubt in reading this Christmas story that the author was telling us that there are so many Christ-like people in our own life that have to be ministered to.

The journey of Artaban to see Christ is a reminder that Christ, in the person of the homeless or the forgotten elderly, is in our midst. Van Dyke has told us that the most beautiful words that we can hear are the words "as long as you did it to them, you did it for me."

May all of us experience and hear these words as we journey to find Christ.

Source: Spirituality for Today, December, 1995, Volume 1, Number 5
Photo: Artaban, The Fourth Wise Man

View all Advent Devotional 2013 posts here.

© 2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee