Webfinder: Spring Cleaning

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STEP 1: Clear out the clutter! – The University of Illinois Extension Service offers practical advice on sorting, organizing, storing, and getting rid of stuff. You’ll find more clutter-busting tips at Live Simple: Rule Your Stuff and Surprising Strategies for Finally Organizing Your Space.

STEP 2: Where to Donate Goods – If you’re doing spring cleaning, you may find things to get rid of that are too good for the trash. What to do with them? Our ‘Where to Donate Goods’ page can help!

STEP 3: Resell that stuff! – Thinking about having a yard sale to get rid of some of that extra stuff? Download the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Reseller’s Guide to screen for hazardous products that should go in the trash instead!

STEP 4: Safeguard your Personal Data – Getting rid of old financial/legal documents, as well as old electronics that may contain sensitive information, can be an important STEP of de-cluttering. But it can also pose a risk to your personal data. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse offers practical advice on how to do it safely! A Pack Rat’s Guide to Shredding [NEW!] includes a printable graphic you can keep near your shredder as a handy guide (2015, Federal Trade Commission).

STEP 5: Recycle! – After you’ve removed all your personal data from unwanted electronic items, what are you going to do with them? If they’re too old or aren’t working, you can e-cycle them! The South Plainfield Consumer Electronics Recycling Drop-off Program accepts televisions, computers and peripherals at the Recycling Center from residents. Included in this program are: computers (desktop and laptop), monitors, televisions, cell phones, copiers, digital cameras, DVD players, e-book readers, fax machines, keyboards, MP3 players, modems, mouses, personal digital assistants (PDAs), printers, scanners, stereo and radio equipment, telephones, VCRs, and any products that contain rechargeable batteries. Click here for more recycling links.

STEP 6: Safe Disposal of Old Medicine – Did you find unneeded and/or expired medicines in your medicine cabinet? It’s NOT a good idea to put them in the trash or flush them down the toilet! Instead, follow these instructions for safe disposal: NJ Project Medicine Drop [UPDATED LINK!] and FDA Consumer Update : How to Dispose of Unused Medicines.

STEP 7: Appraise Old Paintings, Antiques, & Collectibles – Did you find any old paintings, antique objects, or possible collectibles while you were clearing out the attic? Want to find out more about them? The Smithsonian American Art Museum offer some tips and resources to help you. See also PBS’s Antiques Road Show.

STEP 8: Clear Out the Fridge – Kitchen shelves full of old cans? Old food in your fridge/freezer? How do you know what to keep and what to toss? FoodSafety.gov has advice for you. Here are some helpful guides you can print out to keep handy [Links open PDFs]: FDA 1-page Food Storage Chart, NDSU Food Storage Guide with Chart, OhioLine Pantry Food Storage Guide with Chart.

STEP 9: Let the (Green) Cleaning Begin – Once the clutter’s finally gone (well… reduced?) it’s time to start cleaning! Oregon Metro offers these tips for eco-friendly non-toxic cleaning. See also : Rodale’s 8 Must-Haves for a Nontoxic Cleaning Kit and Rodale’s Spring Clean your Kitchen.

STEP 10: Stain Solutions – For tougher cleaning problems, the University of Illinois Extension has lots of good advice! The FabricLink Fabric Care Center [UPDATED LINK!] offers stain removal guides, laundry tips, information about fabric labels & laundry products, and related resources.

STEP 11: *THE REALLY ICKY STUFF* – The U.S. EPA provides extensive help on dealing with Mold, Moisture, and Your Home. More icky stuff? Here’s some information on Bedbugs and Other pests.

STEP 12: Precious Treasures – Heritage Preservation has a wealth of information on caring for family heirlooms, keepsakes, and other heritage objects. See also : CCI Caring for Objects [UPDATED LINK!] and ICON Caring for your Collection [UPDATED LINK!].

STEP 13: Don’t Forget those Electronics! – This 2013 piece from Lifehacker gives you the 411 on how to clean up your computer and electronic gadgets.

Revised March 2016

Webfinder: Genealogy Resources

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African-American Research – Information about Pre-Civil War, Military Records, and Post-Civil War Records at the National Archives, plus links to other helpful resources for African-Americans trying to trace their family history (National Archives and Records Administration). See the Afro-American Genealogical Research Guide for a list of useful print resources (Library of Congress). See also Slave Trade Voyages (Emory University et al.)

American Indian Ancestry [Link opens a PDF document] – Printable guide to acquiring the genealogical documentation needed to establish descent from an Indian tribe for membership and enrollment purposes (2013, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs). See also Native American Records, which includes information about records at the National Archives, and links to many other useful resources (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration).

Civil War Ancestors – Advice on researching ancestors who fought in the Civil War (National Park Service). See also Genealogy Notes: Civil War (2006, National Archives and Records Administration) and Civil War Era Records (FamilySearch.org).

Ellis Island American Family Immigration History Center [FREE REGISTRATION REQUIRED.] – If any of your ancestors came to this country through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924, you can find out exactly when they arrived, and on what ship. Enter the name of the passenger in the space provided, and click on ‘Start Search’ to get a list of matching records.

Family Tree Charts (Printable) – Choose one of three PDF charts to print and fill in with names and dates of your ancestors. See also family group sheets [Link opens a PDF document] and ancestor charts [Link opens a PDF document] (National Genealogical Society), and Library of Michigan Pedigree Chart [Link opens a PDF document].

Genealogy How-To Guide – An excellent step-by-step guide to researching your family history, from Genealogy.com (site includes advertisements). Genealogy Research Tutorials offers ‘simple tutorials that may answer some questions you have about getting started, gathering information from others, or turning professional.’ The tutorials are free, but include some references to publications for sale, and resources available only to members (National Genealogical Society).

Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center – ‘A national clearinghouse for persons seeking the fates of loved ones missing since the Holocaust and its aftermath. We assist U.S. residents searching for proof of internment, forced/slave labor, or evacuation from former Soviet territories on themselves or family members.’ To begin your search, contact your local Red Cross chapter (American Red Cross). See also International Tracing Service (ITS), which ‘serves victims of Nazi persecutions and their families by documenting their fate through the archives it manages. The ITS preserves these historic records and makes them available for research.’

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) – Explains what genealogy resources are available through the U.S. National Archives and how to obtain them. Covers census, immigration, military, and other records, plus FAQs, tips for doing genealogical research, preserving your family records, and more. See NARA’s Ethnic Heritage Resources for online resources specific to various ethnic groups, including African-American, Asian, British, Eastern European and Russian, Hispanic, Jewish, and Native American. Prologue Magazine offers Genealogy Notes on a range of topics such as African American History, American Indians, Immigration & Naturalization, Prison Records, and various wars.

New Jersey Division of Archives and Records [UPDATED LINK!] – Searchable databases of marriage, death, & property records from the 17th – 19th centuries, World War I casualties, and other New Jersey historical records. NJGenWeb: New Jersey Genealogy Organizations provides a list of New Jersey genealogical societies, historical societies, libraries, museums, etc., arranged by town or county. Includes links to websites, where available. See also New Jersey Genealogy (Rutgers University Libraries) and NJ Digital Highway (State of New Jersey). For resources in other states, go to the USGenWeb: States page (run by volunteers) and links to official State Archives [NEW!] in all 50 states.

Preserving Family Records – Information on how to preserve family documents, photos, memorabilia, and home movies (National Archives and Records Administration). For information on how to preserve items that have been damaged in a flood or other disaster, see Save Your Treasures [Link opens a PDF document] (Heritage Preservation; non-profit organization).

Proquest Tips for Tracing Your Family Tree [NEW!] – Advice from a genealogy expert on researching your family history. (2014, from the publisher of Ancestry® Library Edition and HeritageQuest® Online)

Veterans’ Gravesite Locator – ‘Search for burial locations of veterans and their dependents in VA National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries and various other Department of Interior and military cemeteries.’ (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

Vital Records: Replace Your Vital Documents [UPDATED LINK!] – USA.gov page offering information on ways to obtain copies of birth, marriage & death certificates, military service records and more.

Links updated March 2016.