Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's a Clean Desk, In Comparison?

This morning I was sitting at home minding my own business with a little plan for the day.  I didn't have much energy:  yesterday we drove six hours (round trip) to spend eight hours with our daughters and grandchildren to celebrate one daughter's birthday.  That's a lot of travel in one day and I felt tired.  But I decided that I could at least neaten the table where my computer sits:  clean up, clear out, and put away (or at least organize) the 8" high pile of papers and folders.

Most of the papers were family history-related, so I couldn't do much without turning on the computer to verify whether I'd added the information to RootsMagic.  But you know how one thing leads to another:  I opened RootsMagic, checked my email, then opened feedly to see what was new in the family history blogging world.  (Think little energy, easily sidetracked....)

As I scrolled down feedly I came to The Genealogy Insider post, 17 Genealogy Things To Do If You Have Only a Few MinutesWell, I have a few minutes, I thought to myself.  What can I do?  I stopped at the suggestion to check google books for an ancestor.

Instead of going to google books my mind jumped to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission website; wandered to the Pennsylvania State Archives; and then meandered to the online Farm Census Records -- and my fingers followed every one of those thoughts.  (Between each meaningful stop I explored the Archives to see if there were other helpful resources available.)

At the Farm Census Records I found a surprise.  There were the 1927 Triennial Agriculture Census Manuscripts for Pennsylvania with links to images.  I believe those are new because the last time I looked at ag census records at that site I saw only the 1850 and 1880.

In truth, 1927 isn't far back into history.  I was searching for a recent ancestor, one I might have known had he lived to old age.  It's true that I do already have some information about my grandfather and his farm but I learned more from this census.  (And I do enjoy learning about the lives of my ancestors as opposed to gathering only names and dates.)

So here you have it.  Several hours after reading the post on feedly the pile of papers and folders is still here.  The table with the computer is not a whit cleaner.  I've added nothing to my RootsMagic file.  But I learned that on my grandfather's farm in 1927 he grew 15 acres of oats for grain; had 18 peach trees; owned 30 laying hens; and milked 18 cows without the aid of milking machines; plus 35 additional pieces of information about life on that farm.  I can almost imagine bypassing time to look through a window into his world.  Not just my grandfather's world, but my father's world when he was 14 years old -- the world he never spoke about.

I will clean my desk tomorrow.  What's a clean desk compared to a "view" of my father's and grandfather's farm?

Here's to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission!  And to Diane at
The Genealogy Insider for suggesting searches that take only a few minutes.  (No matter that I spent several hours on this one!) 

Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Oh I can so relate to this! How many days has "clean up the desk" been on my To-Do list????

    1. I'm so pleased to know that this happens to others, too, Wendy.


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