Sunday, November 4, 2012

Learning in Salt Lake City

Less than a month ago I spent nine days in Salt Lake City.  My time was primarily spent in the Family History Library.  As a consultant for a group of genealogists, I discovered that I should have been cloned.  I put on miles going from floor to floor to give them advise and suggestions.  Eventually everybody settled into a routine of research.

We learned that a week in genealogy paradise is not enough time.  We also learned that the best information is found in the late afternoon or evening of the last day in the library.  Having researched all week, it is time for the "happy dance pay off."  We learned that the library consultants on each floor are extremely helpful, particularly on the International Floor.

I had some German church record copies in my hand, when I decided to chat with a German consultant.  I asked him if he'd like to move to North Platte, Nebraska ... no, I didn't think so.  I asked him how I would be able to translate some of the difficult handwriting.  He had the answer.

1.  Go to the FamilySearch web site.  Sign in.
2.  Click on Learn.
3.  Click on Discussion Forum.  Locate the area you are researching, such as Eastern Europe.  Leave a message with a jpg attachment of the document you cannot read.
4.  Within a short period of time somebody in the genealogy world will return with answer(s).

5.  It works!!  I tried it.

As you probably know the books are being digitized.  The empty shelves on the main floor family genealogy section are very noticeable.  The books have been taken apart and digitized.  Supposedly you should be able to locate them by clicking Books on the home page of FamilySearch.  I soon realized that some books that have been digitized are not there ... yet.  In that case, I recommend trying the Catalog (same home page).  My preference is to use the old or previous version of the catalog.  You can then enter the name of a book, author, location, surname, etc. and determine if it has been digitized.
By clicking on the appropriate area, the book in pdf format will be downloaded to your computer.
Some of the empty shelves on Main Floor. 

digitized books

It seems to be a continual catch up phase with FamilySearch. I discovered several books placed in High Density on the International Floor that were not listed as such in the catalog.  It is important (another tip) to inquire if you cannot locate a book.

The library was full of genealogy groups, people attending genealogy conferences and people like us who were there to find all the answers.  We had fun and took some breaks such as going to the Cheesecake Factory for a sugar high.  The week went by too fast.  Memories and more research will keep us busy until 2013 when we will start thinking about another trip to Salt Lake City.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Research on the Go

Family History Library - Salt Lake City, UT
October is a busy month for me.  I am traveling toward the eastern part of Nebraska on Monday to deliver a genealogy presentation.  Because it is so light and easy to use, I will be using my iPad for the Keynote presentation.  It works great by using my iPod as the clicker.  I upload my Keynote presentations to it via iTunes.

I will be home about three days and I fly to Salt Lake City ... yes, to spend hours in the Family History Library.  I am hosting the Nebraska Genealogy Tours.  Those in my tour group will join me Monday morning at the library.  We are all staying at the Plaza Hotel.   I will have a couple days to get caught up with personal research.

Once again, I am traveling light by taking my iPad and leaving the laptop at home.  I have all of my film numbers and book call numbers on Bento, syncing between my main computer and the iPad.  All of my Reunion genealogy files will be updated before I leave home.

There is one application I cannot live without on both the main computer, laptop and iPad and that's Evernote.  If you have never tried it, consider doing so.  I have to-do lists, projects and even maps on it.  It worked great in April when I was on the east coast.  I placed maps on it with instructions to various places I was researching.  For my trip next week I have placed jpgs of various maps that I will need, showing counties, jurisdictions, provinces, etc.  Evernote now allows me to capture photos of books or documents and syncs them so when I arrive back home they will be waiting for me on my main computer.

I have a flash drive for my iPad so anticipate it will get used a good deal in microfilm reader/printers in the library.  In addition I can take photos and transfer them from my digital camera to the iPad.  They can then be used on blogs or sent to my friends and family via e-mail.

In addition to all of this I have some other good stuff on the iPad, such as Good Reader and PDF Printer.  Another application I like is eWallet.  It stores my passwords along with the corresponding web sites.  I have some ebooks for reading, if I find time, as well as videos on the iPad.  They are, of course, about genealogy!  I also have Sticky Notes and Reminders ... hope I don't forget to use them.

As my friend Lisa Louise Cooke would say ... Pretty Cool!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Genealogy Societies Are Meant to Survive

Not all genealogy societies are thriving.  Some are on the brink of disbanding and others are surviving on a small number of attendees.  At the same time there are genealogy societies, large and small, that are not only surviving but thriving.  What is the difference?  What is one doing right and the other doing wrong?  

Genealogy societies come in all sizes and purposes.  There are local (town, city) societies, county societies, area societies, state, topical and national societies.  The purpose for all of those are different and yet the same.  When organized, they proposed to interest people in genealogy.  There was also the intent to get people together who share a common interest … genealogy.  

Interests and objectives have changed in the last twenty years.  People are involved with their families and both spouses work.  Time is of importance and getting together to discuss genealogy or hear a short program about genealogy is not of utmost importance.  Genealogy is still seen as something people do when they retire.  Once they retire the older generation is gone and the stories and artifacts are also gone.  That is when I hear, "I should have started this research years ago."  Could organized societies appeal to the younger, active, busy individuals?  If they annoy attend meetings, perhaps they can attend a one time event, such as a genealogy fair or a workshop.  Reach out to them and eventually they will find time to join the society.  

Why should genealogists take time out for a couple hours of get-together in the name of a genealogy society?  After all, they have computers, databases, digital images, blogs, social media … everything they want in front of them.  Does Internet have everything they need?  Do they understand the techniques of research, how to evaluate a record or what type of evidence is in a document?  Can the genealogy society supply this information?  Do you have genealogy computer classes?  Consider developing a computer interest group that will draw the genealogy computing folk back to the society.  However, remember that you should still reach out to the members who do not own a computer … yes they are still doing genealogical research.  

Yes, genealogy societies can supply information and offer assistance to members.  A good deal of the time, they fall short.  Does your society welcome new members?  Do you actively solicit new members?  Several years ago I attended a genealogy society meeting and was not introduced or spoken to during the meeting.  I went away knowing that I would never return to the meeting.  A simple "Welcome" would have been enough for me to pay my dues and join and society.  

Is your society a "good-old-boys club?"   The recycling of officers and those reluctant to step aside for new officers are signs that the society has turned into a clique instead of a society.  Should there be term limits to office holders?  Officers are telling me that they can't find anybody to take the office.  Maybe if new members were welcomed you would eventually build up a roster of potentials for offices.  Don't scare them off by asking them to take an office within the first year of their membership.  A few years ago I wrote to a genealogy society telling them I would be willing to take an office.  I am still waiting to hear from them and don't think I will be hearing from them.  A relative did the same thing and was told they would welcome her support and help and send her information about what she would be doing.  Many months later, she has received nothing.  Her task was to solicit new members.  If somebody willingly assumes an office or responsibility, do not ignore them.    

If you have an office in a genealogy society, it is your obligation to fulfill the responsibilities to the fullest.  If for some reason you are unable to do this, please step up to the plate, acknowledge the problems involved and then ask for help or resign.  Sometimes we get in over our head or family issues or health issues cause us to slow down.  Don't slow down at the expense of the genealogy society.  Perhaps you can remain in office but allocate duties to others for a period of time.  

What are the goals and needs of your genealogy society?  Are you providing incentive for members to return to meetings?  Do you show an interest in them, welcome them and listen to their needs?  Are your programs meaningful?  Or does most of your meeting involve the business of the society, leaving a brief time for a program?  Reevaluate your meetings and find ways to stimulate members.  A few meetings devoted to helping each other with research can be interesting, but not at every meeting.  Not everybody wants to attend genealogy meetings devoted to social gossip or the reading of minutes.  Listen to your members.  Ask what they want.  

Does your society have a presence in your community, area, county or state?  Do you advertise your meetings?  This can be something as simple as a community announcement in the newspaper or TV.  You can also send out e-mails informing members and potential members of the meetings.  If they don't have e-mail, take the time to send them a letter or make a phone call.  Periodically have events that draw attention for prospective new members.  This can be an open house at the library, a genealogy fair or a booth at a county fair.  Does your community have a welcoming committee for new arrivals in the community?  Make sure information about the society is in that welcome basket.  Talk to your Chamber of Commerce about your organization and how you can appeal widely to the community.  

Start a blog or Facebook group for your society.  These are great ways to call attention to your society, particularly if you do not have a newsletter or publication.  Let people know that your society needs them as much as they need the society.  It's a two-way street.  If your society opts for a blog or Facebook group, be sure it is maintained and kept up to date.  People will not read it faithfully if it months old or there is no action on it.  

There is a genealogy society here in Nebraska that has no officers and no dues.  It is thriving.  They have no treasury, no minutes, just informative meetings.  They were organized a few years ago in hopes that people would come to learn and enjoy.  Volunteers send out notices about the meetings and put posters up each month in business windows.  Their programs range from interesting to awesome.  Month after month they draw anywhere from 75 to 100 or more people to their meetings.  If they can do this, so can your society with officers and structure.  

Go get 'em!!  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Saving Memories Forever

At the Illinois Family History Expo held last week in Springfield, IL, I had the privilege of meeting Harvey and Jane Baker.  They are a delightful, friendly couple who have developed a new service, Saving Memories Forever.  With this Internet service you can record life stories of relatives and share them.

Recording begins with their iPhone app which is available in the iTunes store (Saving Memories Forever).  This provides interview questions to answer and does front end recording and uploading to the website.  In November their app for Android will be available.

Through the website you can listen to the stories, share them with relatives as well as attach photographs and text files.  Don't have an iPhone?  You can upload directly in MP3 format.  An example of this would be using the MP3 Skype recorder to interview a relative and then uploading it to the Saving Memories Forever website.  Your site remains private, but you can invite others to listen.  Family members can talk about a relative who is deceased, providing not first hand knowledge, but preserving those memories that we have all been told.

The website has a free area as well as a premium (fee) area.  With the premium service you can attach 20 files of photographs and text documents to each story.  This service also allows unlimited storytellers, unlimited sharing and additional search capability for $3.99 per month.

Unfortunately when you visit their web page, you will not be personally meeting the Bakers.  But I can assure you they are sincerely interested in genealogy and the preservation of records.  This is a unique service that spans the globe for sharing family memories and information.  Should you be at a genealogy conference where the Bakers have their product on display, be sure to stop by and say hello.  In the meantime, check out their web page.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Family History Expo At Work

Woodruff Hotel in Nauvoo, IL
Temple at Nauvoo, IL
On Tuesday afternoon of last week I left for Illinois to speak at the Family History Expo.  My Utah friends picked me up here in North Platte.  On Wednesday evening we were in Nauvoo, Illinois.  What an interesting place!  We stayed at the Woodruff Hotel which is restored.  From my second floor room I could look out at the Temple.  That evening we attended the pageant.  If any of you are going to Nauvoo, make certain that you attend this inspiring event.  The next day we visited the jail at Carthage, Illinois, then found our way to Springfield, Illinois.

Holly Hansen - first day of the Illinois Family History Expo
Getting set up and prepared for a Family History Expo takes time, but it is worth the endeavor.  Once we see the smiles on people's faces and hear their comments, we know the job was worth every minute.  Holly Hansen does a fantastic job of putting on the Expos.  Not only did I present four classes, but also worked the Ask A Pro table.  One thing I noticed was that people think that a one time check of databases  such as and FamilySearch is enough.  These large databases and others change almost daily.  Check them often.

While visiting with vendors and attendees I met a lady who has relatives who connect with my Wilson family in the northeastern Tennessee counties of Carter and Johnson.  Over the lunch break she went home and came back with a book about these folk.  I was surprised to see the author was a man I had corresponded with in the 1960-1980 time period.  Of course, I wanted the book.

Once I was home yesterday, I started searching Internet for anything pertaining to the author or book.  Eventually I found an e-mail address for the author.  He answered my e-mail within a very short period of time.  This morning I put a check in the mail for his book.  The Expos take work, but they also work for us.  Invariably you will find somebody who will network with you in your research, or you will learn something significant from a class you are taking.

The next Family History Expo will be in Kearney, Nebraska Sept 7th-8th.  The Midwest Family History Expo 2012 will be held at the Holiday Inn Convention Center.  Be sure to check out the details and take advantage of the early bird registration special.  I will be the keynote speaker and will present four classes.  FamilySearch will be there as well as many other vendors.  Bring your money, bring your genealogical problems and bring yourself ... fun times are ahead in September!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Illinois Family History Expo

The Illinois Family History Expo will be held August 3-4 in Springfield, Illinois.  If you have never attended a Family History Expo, now is your opportunity to sign up.  It is a great place to enhance your research skills, shop for genealogy items, visit with the professionals and make new friends.  The event will be held at the Crowne Plaza Springfield, 3000 South Dirksen Parkway.

The events begin at 1 p.m. on August 3rd and end at 4:30 p.m. on August 4th.  Keynote speaker will be Bernard E. Gracy, Jr. who is the External CTO and VP Business Development, Volly at Pitney Bowes.  Gracy is also an accomplished amateur genealogist.

Some of the topics presented will include vital records, photo retouching, online library catalogs, civil war research and naturalization research.  Throughout the day the attendees can select from various tracts.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about what thrills you the most ... GENEALOGY!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Preserving Your Food Heritage

Gena Philibert-Ortega's new book
My friend, Gena Philibert-Ortega, has written a book on food and heritage.  When I heard that she was writing and collecting for the book, I thought of all the recipes in my family that have been passed down.  Maybe we all need to preserve them for our descendants.  Do you have a treasure trove of family recipes?

Are you one of the lucky genealogists?  Are you  the one person  who inherited the family heirlooms? Maybe you have the family recipe cards, community cookbooks or even the silverware and table linen.  How can you preserve the stories behind these items so that future generations will understand their significance? 
The following are just a few ideas for preserving the stories and names of the owners of these items so they can be enjoyed by all family members.

One way to gather and share in a family’s heritage is through a scrapbook that includes recipes and photos of your family in the kitchen, eating meals, and celebrating. You can create a paper scrapbook that includes copies of photos and recipes along with notes. 
An alternative to a physical scrapbook is a digital scrapbook. Several websites exist for helping you create a digital scrapbook or you can create one using a scrapbook or design software program.

A Family History Book
Consider creating a short family history that includes only a generation or two, complete with narratives telling the story of your female ancestors. In addition to the dates and places important to their lives, add stories of your family and their food traditions. You can also add interest by including photos of you re-creating the dishes with step-by-step instructions. 
Once you create the family history you can print it or provide a digital copy to share with family members. Most office supply and photocopy stores can print out copies of your book and provide various binding options. Family history books don’t need to be complex or costly. There are options available for a variety of family history books. If you are looking to create a book that will be professionally published, look towards a printer that specializes in family history books. Another printing option is to use a print on demand publisher who will only print copies when they are ordered by you or your family. This saves money over traditional publishing methods.

A Family Cookbook
Buttermilk Soup from the Collection of Gena Philibert-Ortega.
What better way to share family recipes and traditions than by creating a family cookbook that combines recipes passed down from earlier generations with the recipes of present-day family members? You can print the book using a cookbook printing company or you can create the book on your own and take it down to your local printer to be duplicated. The benefit of using a specialized cookbook printing company is that they can assist you with the formatting including adding sections, formatting recipes, adding recipes, uploading content online and other considerations. 
Family cookbooks don’t need to be limited to recipes alone. Include the name and photos of the recipe’s contributors, stories about the recipe and other relevant family history photos. Also consider including a pedigree chart or family group sheets as part of the book. If the cookbook is presented in some type of three-ring binder, recipes can be added to the volume at a later date, allowing for additions as they are discovered or written down. 
Technology has provided us with great ways to share information with others. Many family historians use a website to post their research and their family trees. Another way to share family food history is by writing a blog. Within a matter of minutes, you can start a blog that shares family food memories, photos of family kitchens, dishes, linens, and other food related items. Want to invite others to contribute to your blog? No problem, you can invite other relatives to be co-authors of your blog and share what they have found. One benefit of a blog is that if the blog is made public, rather than private, search engines will include your blog in their hit results, making it easier for other family members to find you and share what they have as well. 

Family Food History Archive
Catalog and preserve cookbooks, recipe cards, kitchen tools, linens, aprons, china, and silver to create a family food history archive. This archive can include photographs and written observations that document food traditions and food-related heirloom and artifacts. Prepare a page for each item that includes the following information: 
  • The name of the item 
  • A physical description of the item (size, weight, color, markings, condition)
  • Where it came from  (any story related to how it was obtained)
  • The chain of ownership (who originally owned it, other owners, who owns it now)
  • Any special stories attached to the item (how it was/is used)
  • Where the item is located now (whose home it is stored in, how it is displayed)
  • Any condition concerns (holes, damage)
  • Photograph of the item
The final product can be in the form of a scrapbook (digital or physical), notebook, album, or electronic document sent to other family members. Include heirlooms that you own but also ask to collect information on heirlooms owned by other family members. The final product will provide a nice history for family members as well as a practical guide to what family heirlooms exist and descriptions should a disaster occur.

These are just a few ideas for preserving the stories behind your family’s food history. For more ideas check out Gena's new book From the Family Kitchen.  You can also find the book on Google Books and look at some of the pages.  Be sure to check out Gena's food blog, Food.Family.Ephemera and her Virtual Book Tour
How have you preserved your family’s food history?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Three Cheers for Reunion 10

As an avid Mac user, I have anxiously awaited a major upgrade of Leister Pro's Reunion software.  At last it is available.  I am not disappointed in the least.  There are some things they could have added, such as conformity to Elizabeth Shown Mills' sourcing in Evidence Explained.  Some researchers use her sourcing and some do not.  However, most of the commercial genealogy software, if not all, have the benefit of using her methods an styles.

Reunion 10 - Family View
Tree View Pedigree - Reunion 10
There are so many new features in Reunion 10 that your head will be spinning.  After downloading Reunion 10, I began converting my existing Reunion 9 family files.  This appeared to go without a hitch, but took some time since I have many family files.  Once I opened a file, I was greeted with photographs and photographs.  If you have a photograph for a person, whether the parents, grandparents or children, it will appear on the Family View.  The Tree View allows you to see the information in a pedigree or hour glass format.  It is great for understanding the pedigree of a person.

What used to be a menu bar across the top is now the Sidebar on the left of the Family View.  Clicking on any of the features, such as Tree View, Charts, Find, Change, etc. will bring up a more extensive menu.  In addition, you can navigate to other important menu items such as Multimedia, Relatives, Places, Bookmarks and Clipboard, all of which appear to the right of the Family View.  You can open and close that area as needed.

Reunion 10 - Places 
Two features I enjoy are Places and Web Searching.  After clicking on Places in the sidebar, all of the places you have entered will pop up to the right.  You can then locate them or GEO code them.  Reunion uses either Google Maps or Bing to show the location.  You can correct locations directly from the Place list.  In addition by clicking on one of the locations, you will learn who has that location within your family file.

Where relatives lived - Aylesford, Kent, England.
In the rectangle showing your ancestor there is a small inverted triangle on the top right side.  Opening that produces a number of options, such a showing all of the places for that individual and locating the map.  Under Search the Web you van determine the areas you wish to search.  Some of those listed are, FindAGrave, World Connect, World Vital Records and Fold3.  Experimenting with this produced some records I did not have, probably because I had not gotten around to checking Fold3.

If you have used Reunion in the past, this should not produce a learning curve.  However, it does take time to explore all of the option and features, then put them to use.  It is helpful to watch the three videos available on their web page.  They are The Top 10 New Features in Reunion 10, Changes in Reunion 10 and Installing Reunion 10.  If you also have an iPad, you do not need to upgrade the software as it will continue to upload from either Reunion 9 or Reunion 10.

Thanks Leister Pro for upgrading Reunion!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Do Yourself A Good Deed ... Use Deeds

1750 Survey
As a genealogy volunteer, I am copying hundreds of family files which amounts to thousands of pages.  For the most part the files consist of family group sheets, notes, sometimes photographs and family stories.  Fortunately for somebody interested in the file, some also contain copies of documents such a funeral home record, marriage certificate and probate record.

I have made over 5,000 copies of papers and have yet to find a deed.  Why is that?  For the most part people don't understand the value of using deeds in their research.  Apparently for some people, they can be scary.  Deeds are not boring pieces of paper.  If used properly and understood, they carry a lot of weight for the genealogist who is searching for information and clues.

The purchase and sale of land can provide the researcher of a clear picture of their ancestor's lives.  The first ownership of land is made either by grant or purchase from a government, proprietor or crown.  Second land ownership of land is through the sale of land by a company or individual.  Your ancestor may have never experienced first ownership of land.  Even so, the records should be checked.

When checking land records in a courthouse or on microfilm (such as at the Family History Library or a Family Search Center), look first at indexes.  These come in a variety of forms, but basically you will want to look at the indexes by grantee and grantor.  The grantee is the person buying the land and the grantor is the seller.  Land indexes can also be found in numerical books.  While a good deal can be said about using land records, to further understand metes and bounds, rectangular survey, state-land states, public-domain states, bounty land, as well as terms in deeds, researchers should read one or more excellent books.  I would suggest:

The Source, A Guidebook in American Genealogy, ed. Loretto Dennis Szucs & Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, published by Ancestry

Locating Your Roots, Discover Your Ancestor Using Land Records by Patricia Law Hatcher, published by Betterway Books

Courthouse Research for Family Historians by Christine Rose, published by CR Publications

Books such as these can be found in libraries with genealogy collections and can also be purchased from genealogy book sellers, many of which have web pages.  Any or all would be a great addition to a genealogist's library.

By tracking ancestors through deeds, you will determine where and when they were living at given times.  When a man purchased land, if married, the wife will not be named as a grantee.  He may be shown as a single person.  However, when he sells the land he will be shown with his wife's name, if he is married.  Should he be shown as single as a grantee and with a wife as a grantor, start searching for a marriage in that area.

Quite often I have seen a deed where the grantee is shown living somewhere other than the location of the property.  In that case you have a better idea where to look for him in "further back" records.  In the case of
state-land states there may be detailed information about the acquisition of the property, taking the sale back to the original grantee.  The state-land states consist of the original thirteen colonies plus Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, and Hawaii.  All the rest are called public-land states.

You may locate a dower release attached to the deed.  This is the wife's acknowledgment that she agrees to the sale and terms.  She went to the courthouse to have the deed registered and was interviewed separately as to her wishes.  The purpose of the dower release was to release her from a lifetime interest in the property, also referred to as the "widow's third."   A few years ago I read a letter a man wrote to his father stating that the only way his wife would agree was if he agreed to buy her a new dress!

So you go to the courthouse or crank up a reel of microfilm of deeds and find all the good information.  What you are seeing is a copy of the actual deed.  That record went to the party or parties involved.  Scout through family treasures and you may find an original deed.

Try looking at deeds ... read every bit of them and add the information to your notes and records.  You will be surprised at what you will find.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Trip to Salt Lake City

Join me for a fun-filled week in October at the Family History Center in Salt Lake City.  You will arrive on Sunday, 14 October and depart on Sunday, 21 October.  Each participant makes their own travel arrangements, either flying, taking the train (Amtrak) or driving.  A block of rooms are reserved at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel next door to the library.  Participants will receive discount rates on their rooms.

As your tour director, I will provide you with a pre-consultation on Sunday afternoon or evening (for late comers Monday morning) and I will be available throughout the week for advise, help and consultation.  The cost for the consultation service is $150.  If you book the tour prior to 1 August 2012, you will receive a $50 discount.  The discount is good only until the trip fills up or for registrations postmarked by 1 August 2012, whichever comes first.  There is a minimum of 15 persons and a maximum of 20 persons for the trip.

With over 45 years of genealogical research experience in professional research, I can guide you through a week of research to achieve success.

Find your ancestors in Salt Lake City, join your friends and make new friends.  For the Nebraska Genealogy Tours brochure and registration form, e-mail at  Check out my web page, Genealogy Works.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Kansas Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Carbondale, KS 1892
In the late 1860s the Sanborn Map Company of Pelham, New York began surveying the business districts n towns and cities of the United States.  This would provide insurance underwriters with detailed information that would be necessary to assess their liability for insurance purposes.  The survey included the size, shape and construction of homes, commercial buildings and factories.  Property boundaries, names of streets, the use and buildings, along with house and block numbers was included.  This makes the use of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps very appealing to the genealogists.

The University of Kansas houses and provides access to a collection of Sanborn maps for 241 towns and cities in Kansas ranging from 1883 through the 1930s.  The maps from 1883-1922 have been digitized and can be viewed at their website.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Beloit, KS 1911
While it may take some time to search through the maps, it is worth the time if you have Kansas ancestors.  Once you locate a map of interest, it can be adjusted for viewing, making it smaller or larger.  You can also select a size for exporting the map, or make a printer friendly copy of the map.  In a small thumbnail group at the top of the screen you will see other maps in the set for the same location.

If you do not have Kansas ancestry, be sure to check for other Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps in a search on Internet.  You may be surprised at what turns up!