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# Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Ancestry.com Adds Millions of Quaker Genealogy Records
Posted by Diane

If you're researching ancestors who belonged to Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), you'll want to know about a new collection on Ancestry.com:  The Quaker Collection has birth, marriage, death, disownment and memorial records from meeting minutes spanning more than 300 years.

The collection also includes the classic Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy by William Wade Hinshaw, college yearbooks and alumni directories, periodicals and more.

About 85,000 Quakers live in the United States today, according to the Ancestry.com press release. In the 1700s, nearly half of all residents in the Mid-Atlantic States were Quaker. 

Well-known American Quakers include Pennsylvania founder William Penn, Revolutionary War Gen. Nathanael Greene, frontiersman Daniel Boone, abolitionist Levi Coffin, suffragist Susan B. Anthony and social activist Jane Addams.

Family Tree Magazine's guide to researching Quaker ancestors, part of our Religious Records series, explains the structure of preparative meetings (similar to a congregation), now called a local meeting; monthly meetings (similar to a parish), which served as the major record-keeping unit; quarterly meetings; and yearly meetings.

Ancestry.com estimates the site now has more than 75 percent of American Quaker records in existence, thanks to help from Earlham, Havorford, Swarthmore and Guildford colleges, which were founded by Quakers, and the British national archives.

Search Ancestry.com's Quaker Collection here.


Ancestry.com | Church records
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 2:56:28 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Zooey Deschanel on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Quaker Genealogy Tips
Posted by Diane

On last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" actress Zooey Deschanel traveled to Pennsylvania to learn more about her fourth-great-grandmother Sarah (Henderson) Pownall's abolitionist activities.



Toward the beginning of the episode, Deschanel was presented with a long family tree of names and dates, perhaps to help viewers transition from the present back to a fourth-great-grandparent. Then the show turned its focus to Sarah Pownall.

My favorite quote from this episode is after Deschanel read an antislavery statement Sarah Pownall signed. Deschanel said "Yesterday all I had was a family tree. Now I have an identity for this woman." Names and dates are nice, but the more you get to know about your ancestors' lives, the more those names mean to you.

You're lucky if you have Quaker roots—Quakers kept good records, and you'll find plentiful printed and online information.

Once you know your Quaker ancestor's name and location, a good resource to start is the Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy by William Wade Hinshaw (Genealogical Publishing Co., available on CD and searchable on Ancestry.com), which abstracts monthly meeting records.

Also search the Quaker genealogy websites we list on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

Our guide to researching Quaker ancestors, from our Religious Records series, is available in ShopFamilyTree.com.

If you missed Zooey Deschanel's episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" it's available for viewing on the show's website.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Church records | Research Tips
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 10:24:57 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Archives.com Launches Millions of Lutheran Church Records
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site Archives.com has released its collection of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) birth, marriage and death records, which genealogists have been anticipating since Archives.com announced the digitization project nearly a year ago.

The collections, appearing online for the first time, total nearly 4.6 million records from about 1,000 rolls of microfilm. The records date from the mid-1800s through 1940 and include births, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, deaths, and burials.

You usually have to know which church your ancestors attended in order to request the record from the church or find it on microfilm. Because these ELCA records are indexed by name, though, you don't have to know the church before you start your search.

Details in the records vary by church, but they often include parents' names, dates and places of the event, and other biographical details. Many of the churches has concentrations of immigrants from Norway, Sweden or Germany as members—so the records could be the key you need to start researching ancestors in Europe.

You'll learn how to find additional records of Lutheran ancestors—including congregational histories, communion lists, synod publications and more—from our guide Religious Records: Researching Lutheran Ancestors, available in ShopFamilyTree.com. 


Archives.com | Church records
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 2:02:42 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Find Ancestors in Free Online Swedish Church Records Aug. 25 & 26
Posted by Diane

Heads up if you're researching ancestors in Sweden: Swedish genealogy records site ArkivDigital is offering free access to its database of more than 36 million images of Swedish church books and other records this weekend, August 25 and 26.

You'll need to register with the site and install the site's software—check out the free access instructions here (scroll down for a link to a beta version of the software that lets you use English).

I can't tell for sure from the site, but it looks like you browse the books rather than search by name—so you'll need to have a good idea of where and when your ancestor lived in Sweden. To find out whether the site has records for your ancestor's county and parish, click the county name on the right side of this page.


Church records | Free Databases | International Genealogy
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 3:13:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Digitized Lutheran Church Records Coming Soon to Archives.com
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy website Archives.com has formed a partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to digitize and index 1,000 reels of the church's microfilm containing millions of the church's baptism, confirmation, marriage, and funeral records.

The parish register ledger books document Lutheran congregations throughout the United States from 1793 to 1940.

The records will become available at Archives.com later this year. I'm crossing my fingers it'll be in time for our guide to genealogy research in Lutheran records, which will be in the July/August 2012 Family Tree Magazine.

The guide is part of our new religious records series, which so far has covered Catholic (in the March/April 2012 Family Tree Magazine) and Jewish (in the May/June 2012 Family Tree Magazine) genealogy research.

See the full announcement about Lutheran records on Archives.com here.


Archives.com | Church records
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 3:13:56 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, June 22, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: Religion
Posted by Diane

On a site called Baptists and the American Civil War: In Their Own Words, I found a diary entry by John Beauchamp Jones, a novelist and reporter who went to work for the Confederate government in Richmond. (The site is a digital project by historian Bruce T. Gourley, executive director of the Baptist History and Heritage Society.)

June 22, 1861, Jones wrote about a chance meeting with Confederate president Jefferson Davis. It begins “Fighting for our homes and holy altars, there is no intermission on Sunday.”

He goes on to describe a chance encounter with Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the office on a Sunday, helping Davis find a letter in his secretary’s office. You can read the entire diary entry here.

A bit from Life in Civil War America about the Baptist denomination of the time:

On the eve of the Civil War, Baptists were one of the largest denominations in the country and among those that were considerably more widespread and influential in the South than in the North.

At the time of the war, there were some 11,219 Baptist churches in the country, with about two-thirds in Southern states (an especially telling proportion when one considers that the white population of the North was about three-and-a-half times larger than that of the South). Value of Baptist church property was an estimated $19,746,378.

In 1845, Northern and Southern Baptists split over the issue of slavery, and the latter formed a separate denomination under the Southern Baptist Convention. 

Other large denominations at the time included Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans and Roman Catholics, though Americans were active in many faiths. Interestingly, Abraham Lincoln was the first US president to use the phrase "One nation under God," but he wasn't baptized and never joined a church.

Here's our listing of organizations for researching religious records.

You can nominate a Civil War event for this series—just click Comments below or e-mail me.


Church records | Civil War | Social History
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 3:45:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, April 18, 2011
Using Indexed Records on FamilySearch.org (and a Question for You)
Posted by Diane

Here’s that post I promised on tracking down my grandfather in Texas church records using indexed information in FamilySearch.org

I kept up with my Google blog reader (sometimes at 3 a.m.) while on maternity leave, so I noticed the regular record updates at FamilySearch.org. That’s how I got a surprise hit on my grandfather while casually searching collections from states my ancestors lived in.

The match, from the collection Texas Births and Christenings, 1840-1981,  has indexed information (so, no image of the record itself) from a church baptismal register in Gonzales, Texas:

The information was close to a baptismal certificate I already had from our family papers. In 1960, my grandma wrote the church where my grandfather was baptized to request the baptismal record. Apparently she needed it so my grandfather, who didn’t have a birth certificate, could participate in his company pension program. Here’s what the priest sent her:

I was never 100 percent confident in the birth information on this certificate, since it was created when he was almost 60 and my research gives two birthdates and places for my grandfather. So I was excited when I saw on FamilySearch.org the microfilm number for the original baptismal register (circled in red above).

I ran a Family History Library online catalog search for the film number and found this catalog record: 

It's hard to read here, but the baptismal register is from Sacred Heart Church, formerly called St. Joseph, in Gonzales, Texas, part of Archdiocese of San Antonio. (Note the 1960 baptismal certificate says St. James Church at the top.)

I printed this catalog page and took it to the FamilySearch Center to rent microfilm no. 25152. 

When the film came in, I quickly found my grandfather’s record (thanks to the page number provided in my FamilySearch.org search result). Here’s the first page, with my grandfather at the bottom:

My great-grandfather Mike Haddad appears in a few records as "Fadlo" (probably short for his pre-immigration name)—I believe that's why he's recorded as "Daddlod" here. 

And the second page, with columns for the sponsors, the minister who performed the ceremony, details on the person's Confirmation (another Catholic sacrament, usually received around age 13), and “remarks.”

See the note on the far right in the Remarks column? That reports my grandfather’s marriage t0 my grandma in 1942 in Cincinnati.

The handwriting was uniform throughout the entire book. From the title and publisher pages, 

it looks like this was a blank register book printed in 1944, which someone later filled in with information from diocesan church records going back to 1883.

My guess is that the (?) in the sponsor column next to Saida’s name—a symbol also appearing by several other names on the page—means the person who copied the original records into this book couldn’t quite make out the handwriting.

In 1960, when my grandma sent her request to St. Joseph, she must've provided her marriage information. Then the priest who answered her letter would’ve looked at this book in order to fill out the baptismal certificate, and added the marriage details to the notes column. 

So this still isn't the actual record that was created in 1902 when my grandfather was baptized, but I have more confidence in that 1960 baptismal certificate (and the birth date it provides) now that I've seen where that information came from.

One question: Why does the baptism certificate sent to my grandma in 1960 say "St. James" at the top, when the church register is from St. Joseph (later changed to Sacred Heart)? Perhaps the diocese routed all records requests like my grandma's to St. James? What do you think?


Church records | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Research Tips
Monday, April 18, 2011 11:23:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Tuesday, February 22, 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 3 Recap
Posted by jamie

Spoiler Alert: If you don't already know what happened during Rosie O'Donnell's episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” you are about to find out.

Rosie O'Donnell often asked her grandmother about a specific photo hanging in her house, but her grandmother was tight lipped about the woman. O'Donnell knew she was somehow related to her, but didn't know much beyond that. So she began her "Who Do You Think You Are?" journey by researching the mystery woman.

She starts looking in the 1900 census, finding her great-grandparents Michael and Ellen Murtha. The census indicates Michael was born in French Canada and his parents were born in Ireland. O'Donnell steps back father to the 1880, but shows Michael living in Brooklyn with a different woman — his first wife Anna.

This leads O'Donnell to Manhattan, where she finds the death certificate for Anna Murtaugh, a variation of the Murtha surname. The cause of death is listed as an explosion of an oil lamp. O'Donnell searches neighborhood newspapers for write-ups about the incident, discovering Anna was holding her infant daughter during the explosion.

Catholic church baptismal records revealed Anna's daughter to be Elizabeth Murtha, who lived through the accident and eventually had many children and grandchildren. Tracing the line forward, O'Donnell is reunited with Elizabeth's grandchildren, her second cousins. They confirm that the mysterious photo is Elizabeth's mother Anna.

After solving that mystery, she travels to Quebec to search parish records for Anna's husband and O'Donnell's great-grandfather Michael Murtha, listed as Michael Murtaugh in baptismal records. Michael's parents are listed as Andrew Murtaugh and Anne Doyle. O'Donnell searches a local newspaper to find the obituary for Anne, which lists her birthplace as Kildare, Ireland. For more on searching newspapers, see our Finding You Family in Old Newspapers on-demand webinar.

O'Donnell then heads to Ireland to find out more about the Murtaughs. Many people emigrated from Ireland at the height of the potato feminine, and Andrew and Anne were among them.

Searching Poor Law Union minute books for a mention of the family, O'Donnell discovers two men sponsored the Murtaughs passage to Canada. The Poor Law Union only provided assisted immigration for severely impoverished families during the feminine. To qualify for assisted immigration, a family would have to live in a work house for at least a year. For more on tracing your Irish roots, see our Irish heritage research guide.

"WDYTYA" airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode, and post a comment to be entered to win in our Discover Who You Are sweepstakes!


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Church records | Female ancestors | Newspapers
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 10:48:38 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Taking Our Own Research Advice
Posted by Diane

Picking up research tips is among the fringe benefits of working for Family Tree Magazine. And the advice works! Here are two examples from my genealogy search:

For our August 2010 article on church records research (subscribers start getting this issue at the end of May), Sunny McClellan Morton interviewed Catholic records expert Ann McRoden Mensch.

Then and there (doing genealogy on the job is another fringe benefit), I went to Mensch’s Local Catholic Church and Family History Genealogical Research Guide, surfed around until I found information on the Cleveland archdiocese, clicked a link and filled out the archives’ online request form.

(Update: the Catholic research guide has moved since the August issue went to press. Many links to state information on the new site don't seem to be working, but see the Comments on this post for instructions on how to access the old site.)

A few weeks later, I received in the mail a copy of a funeral register from my great-grandfather’s church in Cleveland, showing his name (it's hard to make out here, but he's third from the bottom).



Last year, while editing our November 2009 federal records article by David A. Fryxell, I realized that that same great-grandfather—who wasn’t yet naturalized in 1940—would’ve had to register with the government under the Alien Registration Act.

That day, I requested his Alien Registration form (form AR-2) from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service’s online Genealogy Program. The record, showing his first name as “Fablo,” supports my case that the “Fadlo Hadad” I found on a 1900 passenger list is the right guy.

Our November 2009 issue is available in ShopFamilyTree.com; it’s also digitized on our 2009 annual CD.

Family Tree Magazine Plus members can access Fryxell’s article on our website.

Church records | Family Tree Magazine articles | immigration records | Research Tips
Wednesday, May 19, 2010 3:02:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]