Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Paperless" Step 1: Print to PDF

Print to PDF for Genealogists
Yesterday Dick Eastman published an interesting article about going paperless, or more specifically, "paperlite." If you'd love to reduce the paper in your house but aren't sure where to get started I'd really recommend it. It talks about reducing paper in your home, not just in your genealogy life. "Going Nearly Paperless - How to Get Started" is available on the Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter (EOGN) website.

There are several links in Eastman's article including one to a post on How to Geek and this was what I was interested in sharing, specifically. There are a number of ways to prevent paper from arriving at your home and the EOGN article covers many of the first steps to take. Sometimes we're causing our own problem, though. There are times when you need to "print" something for your records. The paperless solution? "Print to PDF."
I have been using this solution for years but I know many people have problems figuring out how to do this. It is actually extremely simple and may already be set-up on your computer. If it isn't, you can get free software to allow you to print to PDF.
And if you're wondering, yes, all you have to do is "print" the document but instead of selecting your paper printer, you choose the PDF printer. How to Geek has a post about installing a PDF printer on a Windows computer with several options presented. This isn't a direct link in the EOGN post but a link from one of those links.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bounty Land Warrant Applications: Why Bother?

Bounty Land Warrant Applications: Why Bother?
This post is for those of you who know bounty land warrant (BLW) applications exist and probably even know you should try and get a copy.
If you don't know what bounty land is you can learn more by simply googling the topic. [If you want a handy reference and more info, try Christine Rose's book Military Bounty Land 1776-1855. This is my favorite "refresher" every time I need to order or identify bounty land for a time period I haven't worked in for a while. Note: This is an affiliate link.] This post is specifically about federal bounty land, there is also state bounty land.
Unfortunately, most bounty land is "unindexed" making it much more difficult to identify than pensions. As a complication, you must know the ancestor's name and service for the unindexed land to be found by the National Archives (NARA) search staff and sometimes slight variations in spelling may result in the request being returned as "not found" even though it exists. Having the BLW number (or application no. in the case of rejected applications) helps.
NARA is creating an index to the unindexed BLW applications but it currently covers surnames starting with A through part of K but is only available on a single computer in the microfilm reading room at NARA I in Washington, D.C. [Update: This index is now available at Fold3. It is "Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Index." It covers A to Ki surnames as of the end of December 2015 and surnames listed as "[Blank]." Here's the catch, everyone is listed as serving in 1812. However, these are volunteers from all eligible wars. Soldiers from 1812 were NOT explicitly picked out for the Fold3 index so don't be confused. You can not verify the war from this index. You can use the BLM GLO website to find an image of the patent which should list the correct service details which you will need to request the file.] The index also leaves a lot to be desired if you want to use it to identify multiple applications (either all variations of a surname or all applications for a unit, which is currently impossible). In other words, when it comes to BLW applications many genealogist ask "why bother?" when it is so difficult to identify.