In the Early Kansas Imprint Scanners (EKIS) workshop, volunteers use scanners to make electronic copies of materials such as books and photographs, proof any text, and then add web designs to include these works in the Kansas Collection. Here's a look at what the volunteers are up to, behind the scenes:
of the State of Kansas, "Orphan Trains," and
the Andreas History of the State of Nebraska
Volunteer Spotlight: Meet John Matthews
Notes from around EKIS
Volunteers continue to be very active in working on Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, thanks in large part to the efforts of associate manager Bob Mills. John Matthews reports that we have gotten nearly two-thirds of this massive project done! To give you an idea, the book is 1600 pages long, and the type is so small that each printed page equals about four typewritten pages. Also, Carolyn Ward is assisting John Matthews with indexing Cutler's chapters, and John continues to update the look of the Cutler's chapters. Bob is working with a couple of EKIS volunteers to see if they can do what most people consider impossible: scanning the very small type in Cutler's, to make transcription easier (up until now, the pages have had to be typed in by the volunteers)...Connie Dipasquale reports that two of the children who used information in KanColl's Orphan Trains gallery to prepare presentations for the National History Day Project have reached the state competitions, and one has reached the county level. We wish them all well....The Andreas History of the State of Nebraska project has also been progressing, and associate manager Connie Snyder says that we have reached the halfway point in transcribing the book! Connie recently received this message from Elaine McDowell: "I really appreciate the page on Cumings County. My grandfather, born 1885, and mother, born 1912, were born there. My mother is 85 years old now. I also saw some of my ancestors names in the church story on Catholic churches. I have a lot of relatives living in the area yet. I will refer to that county and other counties from time to time. Thank you and to all those who spent so much time in putting it together. God Bless" Cuming County, incidentally, was transcribed by Ian Guilliatt, an EKIS volunteer in England.
Volunteer Spotlight: Meet John Matthews
In the early days of EKIS and KanColl, when director Dick Taylor and associate manager Bonnie Bunce were working hard on transcribing and installing chapters from Cutler's History of the State of Kansas in KanColl, a fella named John Matthews volunteered to transcribe a chapter. One thing led to another, and before long John had become an associate manager of Cutler's, reviewing, coding and installing all the Cutler's files in KanColl. John regularly seems to work miracles, turning out huge volumes of exceptional work in incredibly short periods of time on a continual basis, and without his assistance, Cutler's simply would not be where it is today. At the same time, he can always be called upon to help in other ways (he is our resident UNIX expert!) -- he never seems to be too busy or too involved in other things to help anyone with anything. It is our very great pleasure to introduce you to one of the EKIS mainstays, John Matthews:
"I was born in Venezuela to American parents, the oldest of six children and lived there for almost 12 years. We lived on the coast, not far from the island of Aruba, on a peninsula shaped like a head. In that climate we were able to play outside all the time. As with most kids, we had lots of fun and sometimes more than a few opportunities for some mischief. I learned Spanish at an early age, from other children, our maid, and because we went to a bi-lingual school. To this day I credit this upbringing for my liking to travel and meet people from other cultures.
"Our family moved to New Jersey and I quickly acclimated to being an American teenager. We weren't used to pop radio or all the television show but soon made up for all we'd missed. I spent the last year of high school in California as my father had a temporary assignment there, and returned to the East to go to college in Pennsylvania. After spending much more time than necessary, I acquired an engineering degree, married and moved to Minnesota, where there was a certain company that made large-scale computers. I became an operating systems programmer specializing in data communications and networks, and not the engineer I'd studied to be. Also along the way came a son and a daughter, and as they are in their late and mid-teens, I suddenly find more time for myself.
"About the time I was in college I became more aware of my family history, particularly since my maternal grandmother was researching hers and finally co-authored a book on her JOPLING family. Unfortunately as in most cases, I didn't follow up on it very much and when I got really interested, she didn't remember much anymore and the other older relatives had died. I also had a chance to dig for my roots while living in Pennsylvania, so near to where all the MATTHEWS were... but hind-sight is always 20-20, right? Now to make up for all that!
"I got more interested in the family history, and thought someone else in the family would be interested, but no one has really come forward. As the Matthews are Welsh and have only been in this country since 1851, I didn't have much hope in chasing them without at least a trip to Wales. The JOPLING family having been researched, I thought my options were rather limited.
"But since my mother-in-law lives so close, I thought I ought to find something on my wife's side as well, and struck paydirt. My mother-in-law has several papers, some over a hundred years old, listing many family names. I have to credit the Steve Chinn for answering a roots-l query and then the Minnesota Historical Society for having an excellent library and tons of books on the older Eastern families. This information let me find numerous families going back to England in the pre-colonial days. With this luck I thought I ought to try my family again, and on a hunch, checked the MHS holdings for AYARS, my maternal-grandfather's mother's name. Was I surprised! I found several books on the family, and two that mentioned my great-great-grandfather, and one of them even mentioned my great-grandmother, Dollie. You never get over the feeling and the goosebumps that come with a hit like this!
"Well, I started checking into Kansas as I knew the family had been there. Somehow - a nice librarian from Emporia found an entry in Cutler's History of the State of Kansas for my great-great-grandfather. Then I went back to the MHS and found the book in their collection, what a monster of a book, 1600 large format pages, and small type. I noticed it was kind of hard to find people in it as there was not much of an index.
"About this time Bonnie Bunce started looking for volunteers to transcribe (as we call it) HOK, and I figured it was pay-back time, and volunteered to transcribe Davis (now Geary) Co. OK, I thought, that was it...but then volunteered for Riley Co. as there were AYARS in Manhattan... Then I realized this stuff was hard to read, and downloading a large county chapter wasn't going to work. I started working with Dick Taylor, and soon was taking in typing and adding HTML codes, and breaking it into reasonable sized chunks. This has been going on for almost two years now, and I think the end is almost in sight. All of the volunteers have been great to work with, and some have produced an amazing amount of transcriptions!
"Along the way, I volunteered for hosting a GenWeb page in Kansas - for Geary Co., and also Lincoln Co, OK. This Internet genealogy has gotten to be an addiction! I even published a personal web page, with several of my and my wife's family trees, and now get a couple of inquiries a week from people searching the web.
"The best success story is that just a few weeks ago I was contacted by a MATTHEWS relation who found his name on my family tree. This has led to contacts with other cousins, one of which has the actual naturalization papers my great-great-grandfather Matthews received in 1864. I hope to get copies of those soon!
"The HOK project has continued under Bob Mill's care, and I can't forget Carolyn Ward and her students, who not only transcribed two counties, but they indexed them! (You knew this was coming when I mentioned lack of an index earlier, right?) Now Carolyn is leading the indexing project with a vengeance, and continues to amaze me with the time she puts in on it. Please check on Jewell, Montgomery, or Wilson counties to see how well this is going.
"I think the Internet and World Wide Web have been the most important changes in the field of family history, and has connected more people than ever before. While I don't expect to see all the source material on-line, projects like The History of the State of Kansas will make a difference, and getting to know the people involved has been a lot of fun."
20 April 1997