Our SEVENTH Year as a Local History Site has been another year of progress of which we can be proud. 2003 started with 8,111 pages on the site, and we are ending with 10,856. We have truly become the central storage and display location for countless unique local history artifacts rescued from attics and now made readily available for anyone anyplace in the world who needs to see them. Unique school and Bible and legal records relating to the people of our area as well as countless one of a kind photos have come back to us from neighborhood attics locally and far distant "treasure trunks" all over the country. We try not to think of the thousands of such records that have been lost and destroyed over time, but are grateful instead for those which have survived, and whose continued preservation is ensured by publication on our site.
History Books - A few highlights of the year are the addition of many chapters of our nineteenth century county histories and the near completion of some. We had delayed putting these on the site in previous years out of concern for the local historical societies that sell the reprints for funding. But other sites will and are putting them online if we do not. We would rather have them on our own site where we can direct people to the historical societies for their own hard copy and where we can fulfill our own purpose of being a fully developed and interlinked local history library. We will continue that project in the coming year and hopefully bring most of them to completion. Special commendation goes to J. Colin Clark who filled in the chapter gaps in Heverly for us and who is now doing the same on the Craft.
Cemeteries - My most major and far-fetched "pipe dream" in last year's Site Review was the Woodlawn Cemetery records. Sherry Nichols jumped right on that project and we have many thousands of them already on the site as a result of her efforts and leadership. She is a trooper. She is also nearing completion on Maple Grove after several years in process. In general, we had a smaller than usual number of new cemeteries read by our local group this year. Whereas cemetery readings in the summer of 2002 were hampered by incessant extreme heat, in 2003 it scarcely ever stopped raining. However, looking at our progress since the site was established, we are extraordinary for certain. Of the 740 cemetery listings presently on the site, some 500 are from earlier readings and many are outdated for cemeteries still active. But, well over 200 of our listings have been done expressly for the site including many never before read, and many others updated from earlier listings. That is a spectacular example of mobilizing our local history buffs around our common goal.
Census - We added many new census transcriptions this year. Several new and committed transcribers joined our effort, and Carlton Wolfe continues in his multi year effort of transcribing for us. 1870 is his present project. One of my hopes expressed in last year's review was for lots more tax record transcriptions. That has not happened, but we continue to hope and guide in that direction.
Vital Records - Pat Raymond continues to transcribe records for site publication at the Bradford County Court House and Kelly Kimball is working on the Tioga County front. Hooray for them both. Good stuff !!!
Directories - We made terrific progress this past year in getting our local directories on site. For Tioga County we have both the 1908 and the 1899 nearly done. For Bradford we have parts of the 1900 and the 1907 and more to come. For Elmira we have several city directories on site now, dating back to 1857, and many more to come. They have all been invaluable to our researchers. Many thanks to Steele Memorial Library for allowing us to borrow and scan their city directories for the site. We very much appreciate their support for our purpose and their cooperation in helping us achieve it.
Special Features - We had at least three special focus months this year. In June we put out an effort on identifying and collecting dated logos of our local photographers. The purpose is to help people date local photographs using the information collected in that section of the site. It is an ongoing project and is and will be as successful as our contributors make it. The more people share with us for that section, the greater its effectiveness will be. It is a reminder that the site is for giving as well as for taking. It is fully dependent, as the site in its entirety is, on the willingness of those who use the site to be a part of its growth and development and to share the resources they have available whether many or few.
We did one month of Business Histories as a special feature. This section gleaned few submissions. I interpret that as a shortage of material and proof that it is a segment we need to develop further. Business is the core of society. It preceded the schools and churches and all other public institutions. It gives us a glimpse into the goods and services our predecessors had available at any given time and reflects the culture and lifestyle as accurately as any other aspect of society does. I will be pushing for more business history coverage in the future.
Our third special feature was the World War One library in November and December. It is a successful feature primarily because I personally was able to collect a large number of resources for it. I also had many willing typists who helped get those ready for use. However, where guest participation is concerned, it was not successful at all. Very few of our guests sent in materials for it. I had always been under the impression that people wanted more military records and commemoration, but it was not demonstrated in the response to this special feature. I had only one or two notes from guests expressing thanks for it and noting its importance. That is very little feedback for a new special feature. In any case, it is underway and its importance will be measured perhaps by those who will have access to it and value it some time in the future. Researchers not yet born are as important a part of our audience as those who have access to the site now are. I think about it and its significance with a very far-reaching viewpoint. I think that 1917-18 era is probably too close to the present to be of interest to many of our guests whose connection to this area predates it. As with all special features of the site, once established it will be under continued development as new materials are sent in. I am not ready to call it a failure yet, but its success and further development in the future is up to you. My thanks to those who did contribute their artifacts to it and particularly to Don Stanton who demonstrated once again that there is no end in site to his stash of old stuff - and good stuff it is!! I was also able to glean a lot from the multi-generational collection of memorabilia that Creig Crippen donated to us some years back. Every time I dig through those boxes, I find more treasures. What Fun!!! Thanks also to Chester Bailey for loaning us his period scrapbooks. My greatest pleasure in this and other sections of the site is in recreating and recording the culture and lifestyle of the time it represents. The artifacts of those mentioned really made a success of that purpose.
What's New Pages - I modified and enhanced the What's New pages this year by adding a column of links to all 80 township pages and another column of links to the various important subject categories of the site. It is now possible to do all your navigating throughout the site from the What's New pages. I continue to request, though, that you enter the site via its main page at http://www/~srgp/jmtindex.htm so that I can have some idea of the traffic as measured by my primary counter. If you are "sneaking" in the "side doors" or bookmarking the What's New page directly, my statistics, one of my primary motivators and measurement tools, is distorted. Lest you think I am being too kind or considerate of you, let me confess that I have done it for my own benefit as much as for anything else. It is much easier and efficient for me to navigate directly from that page as I am working on the site. Any convenience to you is a side effect of my own attempts to work efficiently. It is also a tool to guide new guests to the structure of this site. New guests find us daily through such search engines as Google, and highlighting the township pages and subject pages is a good way to get them started using the site correctly. Many of our long time guests are still navigating using older and inefficient paths that they used way back when the site was new and less well developed.
Progress on Related Fronts - A large part of my summer time was spent in remodeling my outbuildings into functional (for me) space. My 1860s era granary was remodeled with the intention of using it for a tool and garden shed. However, the carpenters did too good a job so I converted it to summer office space instead. It relieves some of the congestion in the house for the warm months and gives me some space to spread out my work with no naughty kittens to tumble my piles of papers.
|I know where my hammers are||The first corner of the museum - It's a start||The antique tool wall of the museum - All found around the house and barn.|
In our Eighth Year of existence, I hope to continue site development at the same high level pace as we have been doing. I would be less than honest to say that it is always a joy to do it. Seven and a half years is a long time, but I continue to motivate myself by reminding myself of the importance of what we are accomplishing. The results of this massive effort are always a joy both to me and the thousands of people who use the site's resources. The site is truly marvelous, and as much as we have done, it is a mere drop in the bucket of all that can be and needs to be done. My other projects, particularly my long neglected Sullivan-Rutland Genealogy Project, which I consider the most important part of my life's work, continue to tug woefully at my sleeve. It has been on the side line for the many years the site has diverted my time and resources. I keep the idea of our pioneer predecessors always in my mind, and continue with my determination that their lives and culture will be recorded and remembered. They are the most important benefactors of our work although they'll never know anything about it. Fortunately, many others share my vision for the site and are also motivated by its purpose. Our other volunteers are as essential to its continuation as I am. We are eternally grateful to them all whether their participation is large or small.
One of the siginificant events of the coming year will be the Bicentennial of Tioga County's formation. We intend to do some kind of special feature in March to commemorate that.
Site usage continues to grow steadily. As measured by the counter on the site's main page, we had 145,000 visits in 2003. Compare that to 115,000 in 2002 and 100,000 in 2001. One of my associates who uses a counter that records all unique visits to his site, has determined that actual usage increases ten fold when visits to internal pages are counted. Many access the site who never find their way to the main page where the primary counter is located, even though every internal page links to the main one. He is also able to determine that the majority of visits to our genealogy/history sites originate through search engines such as Google. Links from affiliates such as GenWeb and ALHN account for a very minor part of our traffic and none of our identity. We continue to be grateful for the low cost site storage space from Rootsweb. Without that availability the costs of presenting the site would increase enormously. We continue to use the PICO search engine facility. It performs well for us, but of course, the cost increases with every 1000 pages included on the site. To those of you who have contributed to covering that cost and the many other costs of presenting the site, I express my gratitude.
We wish all of you a terrific 2004 and we wish the same to our Tri-Counties site. May it ever grow in both size and depth and continue to be the meeting place of past and future.
|See Also the 2002 Year End Review||Seventh Anniversary Message August 2003|