Free Updates

Let us tell you when new posts are added!

Email:

Navigation

Categories
August, 2014 (18)
July, 2014 (16)
June, 2014 (18)
May, 2014 (17)
April, 2014 (17)
March, 2014 (17)
February, 2014 (16)
January, 2014 (16)
December, 2013 (11)
November, 2013 (15)
October, 2013 (19)
September, 2013 (20)
August, 2013 (23)
July, 2013 (24)
June, 2013 (14)
May, 2013 (25)
April, 2013 (20)
March, 2013 (24)
February, 2013 (25)
January, 2013 (20)
December, 2012 (19)
November, 2012 (25)
October, 2012 (22)
September, 2012 (24)
August, 2012 (24)
July, 2012 (21)
June, 2012 (22)
May, 2012 (28)
April, 2012 (44)
March, 2012 (36)
February, 2012 (36)
January, 2012 (27)
December, 2011 (22)
November, 2011 (29)
October, 2011 (52)
September, 2011 (26)
August, 2011 (26)
July, 2011 (17)
June, 2011 (31)
May, 2011 (32)
April, 2011 (31)
March, 2011 (31)
February, 2011 (28)
January, 2011 (27)
December, 2010 (34)
November, 2010 (26)
October, 2010 (27)
September, 2010 (27)
August, 2010 (31)
July, 2010 (23)
June, 2010 (30)
May, 2010 (23)
April, 2010 (30)
March, 2010 (30)
February, 2010 (30)
January, 2010 (23)
December, 2009 (19)
November, 2009 (27)
October, 2009 (30)
September, 2009 (25)
August, 2009 (26)
July, 2009 (33)
June, 2009 (32)
May, 2009 (30)
April, 2009 (39)
March, 2009 (35)
February, 2009 (21)
January, 2009 (29)
December, 2008 (15)
November, 2008 (15)
October, 2008 (25)
September, 2008 (30)
August, 2008 (26)
July, 2008 (26)
June, 2008 (22)
May, 2008 (27)
April, 2008 (20)
March, 2008 (20)
February, 2008 (19)
January, 2008 (22)
December, 2007 (21)
November, 2007 (26)
October, 2007 (20)
September, 2007 (17)
August, 2007 (23)
July, 2007 (17)
June, 2007 (13)
May, 2007 (7)

Search

Archives

<September 2014>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
31123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
2829301234
567891011

More Links








# Thursday, July 24, 2014
Genealogy Tips From the “Who Do You Think You Are?” Premiere With Cynthia Nixon
Posted by Diane



Who watched the season premiere of "Who Do You Think You Are?" last night? (Warning: Spoilers ahead!)

The show followed Cynthia Nixon's search along her paternal line and this discovery: Her third-great-grandmother Martha Curnutt killed her abusive husband in 1843. Only the second woman held in the Missouri state penitentiary in Jefferson City, Martha gave birth in prison more than a year after entering, suggesting she was raped. The prison's mistreatment of Martha and her baby inspired a long list of people, including prominent local politicians, to petition for her pardon. It was granted two years into her sentence.

You can see part of Cynthia Nixon's visit to the old prison on the site of the building where Martha was held in this clip. Check back on the "Who Do You Think You Are?" website for the full episode.

As is typical for celebrity guests on "Who Do You Think You Are?" Nixon crisscrossed the country to visit archives, and benefited from the extensive legwork and expertise of researchers. Yes, it would be great if we all could get these perks! But the rare, priceless publicity the featured archives and researchers receive is good for those archives and people, which is good for all of us genealogists.

It takes a little longer to do this type of research on your own, but it is possible. Here are a few of the genealogy takeaways I picked up from the show:
  • Use a variety of genealogical records together: Researchers started with censuses and moved back and forth between death certificates, marriage records, military pensions, court records, county and local histories, newspapers and pardon records.
  • Look to military records in the mid-1800s: When Nixon wonders why Martha appears in the 1850 census husbandless and with three children who have her maiden name, a New York state archives researcher says he always considers military records during this time period.

    Martha’s son Noah (who isn't in Nixon's direct line—cluster research at work!) was the right age to serve in the Civil War, and a pension record based on his service could be rich in family details. A Civil War pension index on Ancestry.com lists a pension Martha filed as a parent dependent upon her son's support. Civil War pensions aren’t microfilmed or digitized (except for a small number on Fold3.com), so Nixon went to the National Archives in Washington, DC, to get the record. (The rest of us might hire an on-site researcher or order copies for $80.) Sure enough, she learns that Noah died in the war, and his father died in 1842.
  • Use local histories and contemporary accounts: Local history books and newspapers provided several clues. A county history said Martha had killed her husband, and a newspaper article described the circumstances of the husband's "unnatural" treatment of her and his statement one morning that she'd be dead by sunset. A book by another prisoner at that time describes Martha's experience.

    Such books and newspapers might be at a state archives (the Missouri State Archives in this case) or historical society, a public or genealogical library, or even online at sites such as Google Books or Chronicling America
  • Ask for help: You don't have to be a celebrity or a film crew to get expert advice from librarians and archivists. They probably won't do extensive research for you, but if you succinctly explain your problem, they can direct you to resources and get you started using them. 
What did you think of this episode? Did you pick up any genealogy research tips? You'll find a ton of help getting your genealogy research started in our new summer 2014 Discover Your Roots guide—learn more about it in ShopFamilyTree.com.

Update: You can find out more about the genealogy research conducted for this episode on Ancestry.com's blog.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | Research Tips
Thursday, July 24, 2014 10:09:38 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Friday, June 20, 2014
Genealogy News Corral: June 16-20
Posted by Diane

In addition, to commemorate Juneteenth, FamilySearch has added to its collection of records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, or the Freedmen's Bureau. These document the post-Civil War era and include marriage records legalizing marriages of former slaves, labor contracts, military payment registers and more. Read more about the records in FamilySearch's announcement and link to the Freedmen's Bureau collections (which FamilySearch.org organizes by state) here.
  • The Civil War Trust is launching a fundraising campaign to save the North Anna area of the Jericho Mills battlefield in Virginia. Matching grants, donations from private foundations and other funding means the trust already has 90 percent of the purchase price needed to acquire the area. It likely will eventually be made part of the Richmond National Battlefield Park. Learn more about North Anna and the campaign to save it on the Civil War Trust website.


African-American roots | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | FamilySearch | Genealogy TV | UK and Irish roots
Friday, June 20, 2014 11:08:18 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, May 23, 2014
Genealogy News Corral: May 19-23
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch has updated the Civil War record collections at the free FamilySearch.org and created a landing page with links to them, as well as to wiki articles about researching Civil War records. Civil War collections include service records, Army Register of Enlistments, Confederate pension applications, soldiers' home registers and more.
It's important to note that for some collections, such as Civil War service records, you can search an index on FamilySearch.org, but the index links to the record image hosted on Fold3.com, where you'll need a subscription to view it.


Civil War | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, May 23, 2014 11:53:03 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, May 16, 2014
Genealogy News Corral: May 12-16
Posted by Diane

  • The genealogy series "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.," which traced the ancestry of well-known Americans using DNA combined with traditional research, will return to PBS on Tuesday, Sept. 23, according to PBS' recently released fall lineup.
The lineup doesn't mention "Genealogy Roadshow," the 2013 series that researched genealogy claims in the families of non-famous folks. It's looking like the US version of this series isn't coming back. (Ireland's version will return.)
  • The Civil War Trust has released a new Battle App, this one for the Atlanta Campaign, which began 150 years ago between the forces of Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. Available for iOS and Android, the App takes users on a virtual tour with videos, maps, photos and more. You can download the Atlanta Campaign and other Battle Apps using the links on the Civil War Trust website.
  • British and Irish genealogy website Origins.net now has a new, full index plus digitized images for the 1881 census of England and Wales, covering all counties. The records are available with a subscription to Origins.net.


Celebrity Roots | Civil War | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy TV | UK and Irish roots
Friday, May 16, 2014 10:38:56 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Free Civil War Records on Fold3 Through April 30
Posted by Diane

Historical military records website Fold3 is opening up its Civil War collection for free from April 14 to 30 in commemoration of the start of the war in April 1861.

The military collection includes

  • service records (Union and Confederate) for soldiers from more than 50 territories and states
  • Union pension index cards
  • some Union widows’ pension files
  • Navy survivors certificates
  • Army registers
  • court records of compensation to former owners of freed slaves in Washington, DC
  • Southern Claims Commission records
  • investigations into subversive activity
  • and other records

Read more about this offer on the Fold3 blog.

Click here to search Fold3's Civil War records collection.

Fold3 has records of US wars from the Revolutionary War up through Vietnam, plus nonmilitary records such as city directories, naturalizations, passport applications, Indian censuses and more. Get help finding ancestors on Fold3 in Family Tree Magazine's downloadable Fold3 Web Guide, available in ShopFamilyTree.com.

Find more resources for tracing Civil War ancestors in our listing on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.


Civil War | Fold3 | Free Databases | Military records
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 10:28:22 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, February 28, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 24-28
Posted by Diane

  • The free family tree website WikiTree has teamed up with author A.J. Jacobs to find cousin connections for the Global Family Reunion, to be held June 6, 2015, in Queens, NY. The "megareunion" will be the subject of Jacobs' next book as well as a documentary. It's open to the public, and attendees with a proven relationship to Jacobs get a bracelet and will be in a photo. To learn more about the reunion, go here. To find out more about helping WikiTree research those relationships, register for WikiTree, and then go here.
  • Fficiency Software has announced a new search technology called Family Relationship Searching, available through its MyTrees.com subscription family tree website. The company says the technology will help you quickly find an ancestor in the site's database without wading through so many false matches. To search, you enter information about your ancestor and his or her person's family members. You also can specify exact or phonetically similar spelling. Visit MyTrees.com here.


Civil War | Family Reunions | Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, February 28, 2014 2:39:26 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, January 24, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, Jan. 20-24
Posted by Diane

  • British subscription and pay-per-view genealogy site Origins.net now has record images and searchable indexes to the entire 1901 census for England and Wales. The site already has the 1841, 1861 and 1871 censuses. It will add the1851, 1881 and 1891 censuses in the coming months, to cover the full range of censuses from 1841 to 1901. Search the 1901 census here and the rest of the census collection here.

  • The University of Texas at Austin is digitizing and preserving more than 800,000 documents and photographs from the Central Lunatic Asylum for Colored Insane, a mental institution for African-Americans founded in Petersburg, Va., in 1870. Next up is finding resources to put the images online. It sounds like documents with individuals' names would have limited access, with more availability for papers such as annual reports. Read more on UT's alumni magazine website.
  • The Department of Defense signed a $5 million agreement with T3Media to digitize thousands of historical photos, many discovered in obscure places on base or offices that are closed or relocated. T3Media will have a limited period during which the can charge for access to the images (those inside the Department of Defense will get free access). Read more on Defense.gov.


African-American roots | Civil War | FamilySearch | Historic preservation | Military records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, January 24, 2014 2:16:31 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, July 24, 2013
You Don't Have to Be Kelly Clarkson to Research Your Civil War Ancestor
Posted by Diane

Did you watch “Who Do You Think You Are?” last night?



In the season premiere on TLC, singer Kelly Clarkson traced her third-great-grandfather Isaiah Rose from Marietta, Ohio, to his imprisonment at the notorious Andersonville Civil War prison, and back home after his escape. There, he served as county sheriff and a state senator.

The story is common: Lots of Americans have Civil War soldier ancestors, many of whom were held at Andersonville and other prisons. The genealogy research is very doable—and you don’t have to drive around the country like Clarkson did, or meet with a slew of Civil War experts.

It’s neat for "WDYTYA?" viewers to see the original historical records, but the same records Clarkson used are available online or by ordering from repositories. For example: 

Note that many public libraries and FamilySearch Centers offer patrons the use of Fold3 and Ancestry Library Edition for free.

These are just a few of the available resources for tracing your Civil War ancestor. You'll find many more Civil War genealogy resources, tools and how-to information in Family Tree Magazine's Civil War Genealogy Value Pack, which happens to be on sale now—click here to learn more about it.

All that driving from place to place adds historical interest to the show, but it's not realistic for most of us. Thank goodness it's also not necessary for researching in Civil War records.

PS: TLC shared on Facebook where you can watch the whole episode online.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | Libraries and Archives | NARA
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 9:59:15 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, July 19, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, July 15-19
Posted by Diane

  • Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers and High-Definition Genealogy has launched a new website, Hack Genealogy. With the tagline, "Repurposing today's technology for tomorrow's genealogy," it'll focus on emerging technology inside and outside the genealogy industry, and how it applied to your family history research.
  • The Civil War Trust has released a Civil War In4 video series to answer frequently asked questions about the American Civil War in a modern, digestible format, and in four minutes. So far, the series has 13 videos; watch them at civilwar.org/in4.
  • The General Society of Mayflower Descendants has named its first ever executive director, Walter Louis Powell. The appointment comes after a yearlong search, and is part of a program to modernize the 116-year-old organization. Powell has worked as an historic preservation consultant, and as a visiting history instructor and interim director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV. 


Civil War | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, July 19, 2013 9:11:01 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, May 17, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, May 13-17
Posted by Diane

  • Next Tuesday, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership will hold a tree planting ceremony in Gettysburg, Pa., to kick off its Living Legacy program: a plan to plant or dedicate a tree for each of the 620,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War.

    Taking part will be 7th- and 8th-graders from Gettysburg and Hartford, Vt., who've been researching and writing about soldiers from their hometowns. Each group will plant a tree to honor one local soldier, and the soldiers' stories will be available to smartphone users through QR codes on the trees. You can watch a video about the project here.
  • Ancestry.com has changed its search results page to highlight key features, load the page faster and require less "stuff" to be downloaded to your computer. The new design lets you filter categories with one click, gives you tabs (instead of a pulldown menu) to switch between the record view and category view of search results, and bolds database titles. See before and after screenshots on the Ancestry.com blog.


Ancestry.com | Civil War | Genealogy societies
Friday, May 17, 2013 1:31:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Civil War Confederate Records Free on Fold3 in April
Posted by Diane

Got Southern ancestors? Military records website Fold3 has announced that to commemorate Confederate History Month, it's offering free access to all of its Confederate records for the entire month of April.

Those free records include:
  • Confederate soldier service records
  • Southern Claims Commission records: claims filed by Southern citizens for property seized by Union troops
  • Confederate Amnesty Papers: Confederates' applications for pardon to President Andrew Johnson
  • Confederate Citizens File: claims filed with the Confederate government by Southern citizens
  • Union Citizens File: Union Army records of provost court papers, orders, passes, paroles, claims for compensation, etc.
  • Civil War subversion investigations
  • Confederate Casualty Reports
  • Confederate Navy Subject File: papers including paymasters' vouchers relating to ships, personnel and more
You'll need to register for a free Fold3 account in order to view the records. Start searching Fold3's Confederate records collection here.


Civil War | Military records
Tuesday, April 02, 2013 1:02:54 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, March 01, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 25-March 1
Posted by Diane

  • The new Legacies of British Slave Ownership database holds the names of 46,000 slave owners in British colonies who received compensation for the loss of "property" when Britain abolished slavery in 1833 (it outlawed the trade in 1807). The database doesn't name slaves, but it could aid those who are tracing African ancestors by researching the slave-owning families. Search the database here
  • The Civil War Trust's annual Park Day takes place Saturday, April 16 at more than 100 participating battlefields in 24 states. Volunteers help clean and maintain these important Civil War sites by raking leaves, picking up trash, painting signs, clearing trails and more. To learn how you can help, visit the trust's Park Day page and click on the name of the participating Civil War site you're interested in (note that some sites are holding their volunteer events on alternate dates).
... and don't forget about the Heirloom Registry Online Scavenger Hunt taking place next week. Have a good weekend!


African-American roots | Civil War | Historic preservation | Italian roots | UK and Irish roots
Friday, March 01, 2013 11:05:04 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, October 19, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 15-19
Posted by Diane

  • Look for a new blog soon from the Library of Congress: To complement its Civil War in America exhibition, the LOC will debut a new blog in November to chronicle more than 40 folks from the North and South whose lives were affected by the war.

    Posts will use first-person accounts such as diaries, letters and published memoirs. “Bloggers” will include people such as Robert E. Lee, Clara Barton, Stonewall Jackson, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant,  Walt Whitman, Elizabeth Keckley, Eugenia Phillips and John F. Chase. You can find the blog starting Nov. 12 at blogs.loc.gov.
  • Military records website Fold3 reached a milestone this week when when the site exceeded 100,000,000 images of historical records. Read more about this achievement on the Fold3 blog. The site, which launched in January 2007 as Footnote, has worked with partners including the National Archives, Allen County Public Library, FamilySearch and others to digitize records. Ancestry.com purchased the site in 2010 and last year rebranded it Fold3.com.


Got Iowa ancestors? Our Iowa Genealogy Crash Course webinar, happening Tuesday evening, Oct. 30, will help you find their vital records, US and state censuses, land records and more. Learn more about the Iowa Genealogy Crash Course in ShopFamilyTree.com.


Ancestry.com | Civil War | Fold3 | Free Databases | Libraries and Archives | Military records | Newspapers
Friday, October 19, 2012 3:08:37 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, June 01, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, May 28-June 1
Posted by Diane


  • Think you have a relative who served in a household of Britain's Royal Family? (Perhaps as Chocolate Maker to the Queen or Strewer of Herbs?) In celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, British genealogy website findmypast.co.uk, in association with the Royal Archives, has added a collection of Royal Household Staff Lists. It covers royal residences across the United Kingdom such as Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and St. James’ Palace, and includes 50,000 staff records from the reign of King Charles II to King George V (1660 to 1924). Details you might learn include the person's occupation, age, length of service and salary.
  • The Civil War Trust is holding its annual photo contest. You can enter your Civil War battlefield photos in five categories for prizes including publication of your image, a trust membership, and registration to the trust's annual conference. Enter before Aug. 26 by uploading photos to the Trust's Flickr group—be sure to tag your image as directed in the contest rules. (Last year's winning photos are pretty impressive—view them here.)
  • UK cemetery site DeceasedOnline.com has added records for 120,000 mostly rural Scottish burials. The records comprise from 99 cemeteries and burial grounds, with the oldest dating back to 1526. That brings the total of Scottish cemeteries with records on the site to 250. Once you search for a record, you can use pay-per-view credits or subscribe to view the full information it contains.


Cemeteries | Civil War | UK and Irish roots
Friday, June 01, 2012 2:14:49 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, May 21, 2012
Friday on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Paula Deen
Posted by Diane

On Friday's final episode of the NBC genealogy show "Who Do You Think You Are?" TV chef Paula Deen crisscrossed the state of Georgia tracing her maternal roots.

Deen's parents died when she was a young woman, so not much family information had made its way to her. The show focused on her third-great-grandfather John Batts, a slaveowning planter and member of the Georgia legislature from 1857 to 1860.

Batts' son William (brother to Deen's great-great-grandmother Eliza Batts) fought for the confederates in the 12th Georgia regiment during the Civil War. The Georgia Archives actually had letters he'd written home, as well as letters from his commanding officer. These missives gave Deen an intimate view into William's experiences and his family's reaction after he was killed in action.

At Fold3—the first time I can remember this subscription site being shown on WDYTYA?—Deen finds John Batts' application for a pardon from the US government. Most of the South was covered by President Andrew Johnson's blanket pardon, but wealthy planters like Batts had to swear loyalty and provide documentation they'd freed their slaves.

Tax records at Emory University show John Batts' fate. Things went downhill for the family after an economic depression in 1873. Deen and a researcher note declining values of John's personal and real estate until 1879, when the records show all zeros. A newspaper article reveals that John, sadly, had committed suicide.

Although "Who Do You Think You Are?" won't be returning next season, GeneaBloggers reports that for the first time this season, the episode came in first for viewership in its time slot and was the third-most-watched show for the evening.

These two short videos show research not included in Friday's episode, about Deen's fifth-great-grandfather Joel Walker, an early Georgia settler in the Savannah area.


You can watch the full episode about Paula Deen's family history journey here.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | Fold3
Monday, May 21, 2012 9:27:01 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, May 04, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, April 30-May 4
Posted by Diane

  • Canadian historians and genealogists are concerned over the impact of budget cuts on federal libraries and archives. Library and Archives Canada will have to eliminate 20 percent of its workforce, and government libraries housing archival collections in the transport, immigration and public works department will be closed. Read more about the cuts on the CBC News website
  • The National Park Service (NPS) has launched a new Civil War website where you can explore the war and historic sites associated with it. On the home page, you can see a timeline, find NPS sites to visit and link to the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. Click Stories for history about the war; click People for introductions to the era's central figures, and click Places to virtually visit the NPS' war-related sites.


Canadian roots | Civil War | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Friday, May 04, 2012 3:23:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, April 20, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, April 16-20
Posted by Diane

  • Military records subscription site Fold3 has added records relating to the Sultana disaster. That's the steamboat whose boilers exploded April 27, 1865, killing 1,700 (mostly Civil War Union soldiers recently released from Confederate POW camps). The ship was carrying 2,200 passengers—far more than the 376 she was built for. Records include lists of former prisoners who survived and those who died. The records are free to search, at least for the time being.

  • The Center for Jewish History (CJH) has announced a partnership with Jewish genealogy expert Miriam Weiner's Routes to Roots Foundation (RTRF). CJH will incorporate RTRF’s Eastern European Archival Database and Image Database into its online catalog, expanding access to genealogy resources from Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. Weiner will serve as senior advisor for genealogy services at CJH's Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute.

  • Besides adding 1940 census records and coordinatng the 1940 Census Community Project, FamilySearch has continued adding other records to the free FamilySearch.org. The new resources include seignorial records from the Czech Republic; city records from Nördlingen, Bavaria, Germany; church records from Estonia, Portugal and Slovakia; and marriages from New Jersey. See the updated colelctions and click through to them here.

  • Remember to watch "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr." this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on PBS, which will feature actors Robert Downey Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The European-immigrant stories in both stars' pasts are common to many Americans.

  • NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" tonight will repeat the popular Reba McEntire episode. Next Friday will be an all-new episode featuring actor Rob Lowe.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | FamilySearch | Fold3 | Jewish roots
Friday, April 20, 2012 12:41:19 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, November 04, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 31-Nov. 4
Posted by Diane

  • The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) has a new website that's easier to use and enriched with expanded content. Additions to the eLibrary (accessible to members) include more than 500 NYG&B member biographies from the early 20th century, book two of the 1855 New York state census for Manhattan's Ward 17, 32 digitized books and more. Information also accessible t nonmembers includes research guides, News You Can Use with new resources for New York research and a Genealogical Exchange query board.
  • Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., an important Union fort in the Civil War, has been designated a National Monument. It was nicknamed "Freedom's Fortress" for Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler’s 1861 declaration that escaped slaves who reached Union lines would be deemed contraband of war and not returned to their masters. More than 10,000 enslaved men and women made the journey there by war's end. Learn about Fort Monroe during the Civil War here.

Civil War | Genealogy societies | Historic preservation | NARA
Friday, November 04, 2011 2:59:10 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, September 29, 2011
New Genealogy Records on FamilySearch.org
Posted by Diane

It might be time to revisit the free FamilySearch.org if you haven’t been by lately: Among the oodles of recent record updates are collections from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Estonia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Honduras, Poland, South Africa and Spain.

To see all the recently updated records, click the region of interest on the FamilySearch.org home page. Next, click the blue “Last Updated” heading on the right.

 

The list of record collections will be resorted to show recently updated collections at the top:

For example, some recently updated collections from the United States are:

  • Arkansas births, christenings, marriages and deaths
  • Georgia death index
  • North Carolina estate files
  • Idaho: Clark County records (marriage affidavits, naturalization records, declarations of intention, deeds, patents, brands and marks, mining records, probate records and estate files)
  • Illinois probate records
  • Indiana marriages
  • Ohio: Cuyahoga County probate files
  • Oregon: Columbia County records (land and property, marriage, and naturalization records and indexes)
  • Tennessee county marriages
  • Utah probate records
  • Washington state Army National Guard records
  • Washington state county records

US Civil War records are also gathered onto a Civil War landing page. These include Confederate pensions ad service records for various states, Union Provost Marshal Files, Union Navy Widows' Certificates and more. To see them all listed, go to the Civil War landing page and click the “More” link beneath the “Find your ancestors in the following collections” list. 

This Civil War page also links to bios on some famous faces from the era and links to how-to information. 

Remember that not all of the collections on FamilySearch have been indexed yet. The organization’s policy is to provide researchers with online access to record images as quickly as possible, and get volunteers working on the indexes in the mean time. 

When you see a “Browse Images” link for your collection of interest (such as the Quebec notarial records, above), you’ll need to have a good idea of when and where your ancestor was living when the record was created. Then you’ll go through the record images one by one, similar to scrolling microfilm.


Civil War | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Research Tips
Thursday, September 29, 2011 9:51:20 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 22, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: Lincoln and Fremont
Posted by Diane

It’s high time I did another installment in our series that looks back at what was happening Civil War-wise exactly 150 years ago.

Sept. 22, 1861, President Lincoln wrote a letter to Illinois Sen. Orville Hickman Browning defending his response to an order of John C. Fremont, commander of the Army's Department of the West.

Fremont had declared martial law on Aug. 30 and freed slaves in Missouri. Lincoln wanted him to rescind that order because it didn't comply with the Confiscation Act Congress passed on Aug. 6. The Confiscation Act allowed the federal government to confiscate property used to aid the Confederate cause, including slaves. The act didn’t go so far as to free slaves, though; rather, it merely removed their owners’ claim to them.

Sept. 11, Lincoln modified Fremont's order to conform to the Confiscation Act.

He wrote to Browning that "Fremont’s proclamation, as to confiscation of property, and the liberation of slaves, is purely political, and not within the range of military law, or necessity."  

Civil War resources from ShopFamilyTree.com:


Civil War | Social History
Thursday, September 22, 2011 3:52:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, August 12, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: McCulloch's Proclamation
Posted by Diane

Confederate States Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch, having won a victory Aug. 10, 1861, at Wilson’s Creek, Mo., issued a proclamation to the people of Missouri Aug. 12. He asked them to pick a side. “Missouri must now take her position, be it North or South," he wrote. 

Missouri, a border state, supplied troops (nearly 110,000 to the North and 40,000 to the South) and equipment to both sides. Separate state governments represented each side during the war, and both the Union and Confederacy considered Missouri theirs.

Initially, Missouri tried to stay neutral by remaining in the Union but not contributing men or supplies. After Wilson’s Creek, Union Gen. John C. Fremont imposed martial law, but the remnants of the elected government voted to secede.

The state suffered from its own internal war, in addition to the larger one. “Conflict in Missouri was characterized by savage guerilla warfare that led to the destruction of entire towns,” writes Michael O. Varhola in Life in Civil War America

Learn more about Missouri in the Civil War in Varhola's book and at the state’s sesquicentennial website.

Also, the free Missouri Digital Heritage (one of our 101 Best Websites for genealogy) has a Civil War section with several collections of digitized records, newspapers and research guides that’ll help you trace ancestors of the era and walk in their shoes.

See Missouri research resources at ShopFamilyTree.com here

Get research guidance for Civil War service members from Missouri and elsewhere in our Family Tree University course Civil War Research: Find Your Ancestors in the War Between the States, with instructor Diana Crisman Smith. The next session starts Aug. 29. (You can use code FTU0811 to get 20 percent off tuition.)


Civil War | Family Tree University | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Social History
Friday, August 12, 2011 11:09:38 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Civil War Witness Trees
Posted by Diane

Workers at Gettysburg National Military Park last week were cutting up a fallen oak tree on Culp's Hill, a key location in the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, when they hit 148-year-old bullets.

Battlefield trees like this one, still bearing scars and bullet wounds, are called Civil War witness trees. (Another kind of witness tree is found in public land states—a surveyor would blaze a tree near a section corner as evidence of the section boundaries.)

I hadn’t heard the term until I read about the Gettysburg discovery, and it makes perfect sense: Eyewitnesses are long gone, but these trees stood on the battlefields when our ancestors dug trenches, reloaded guns, charged the other side, were injured and died.

Many witness trees are famous and were captured in contemporary drawings or Mathew Brady’s photographs, for example:

  • Burnside Bridge Sycamore at Antietam, Md.
  • Appomattox Courthouse Pin Oak in Virginia
  • Copse of White Oaks near Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, Pa.
  • Southern Magnolias at Andersonville, Ga.

You can see photos of these and other trees at The Bivouac website

Sections of the Culp’s Hill tree with bullets will be displayed in a museum at Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Daily blog has posts about witness trees, with lots of photos and directions for finding them.

Here are some Civil War resources from Family Tree Magazine:


Civil War | Historic preservation | Social History
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 9:12:35 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, July 26, 2011
In the Trenches
Posted by Diane

As the former capital of the Confederate States, Richmond, Va., is ringed by Civil War battlefields. I was determined to visit one of them on a recent road trip to see family. I settled on Cold Harbor, one of several sites that make up the Richmond National Battlefield Park.

The Battle of Cold Harbor, May 31-June 12, 1864, was part of Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, during which Confederate troops defended Richmond with six miles of trenches.

I picked up a brochure and map at the small visitor center, then we drove the short park loop and walked a trail tracing over and around the remains of trenches soldiers dug 150 years ago. (My husband gets props for pushing Leo’s stroller up and down the gravel path in Virginia humidity).

The ground looked like corduroy. Markers explained how for days soldiers would crouch in misery in the trenches. They dug “zig zags” between lines of trenches so they could retrieve supplies without getting their heads blown off. They would top the trench with a header log and shoot through a narrow gap below it.

This depression is a rifle pit occupied by a Union soldier. It was the closest position to enemy lines, just 50 yards from Confederate rifle pits.

Most fighting at Cold Harbor took place June 1-3, when Union forces launched assaults. They were unsuccessful. "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made,” Grant wrote in his memoirs. “No advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained." 

On June 3 alone, nearly 6,000 Union soldiers were killed or wounded, most in just an hour’s time. Both sides’ casualties over the two weeks totaled 16,000. A nearby creek was named Bloody Run. According to the brochure, Cold Harbor was the beginning of modern trench warfare, showing how trenches, supported by artillery, were practically impenetrable.

I have to admit that my eyes tend to glaze over when faced with a battlefield map full of lines and arrows. But standing in the places where soldiers took cover in trenches, hid in rifle pits and charged across fields opened a small window into the past and helped me understand what happened 150 years ago. 

You can listen to a podcast tour of the Battle of Cold Harbor, with vivid battle descriptions, on the Civil War Traveler website

See our slideshow of Civil War images on FamilyTreeMagazine.com here and get resources for researching Civil War ancestors here

You also can sign up for our Family Tree University course Civil War Research: Find Your Ancestors in the War Between the States with instructor Diana Crisman Smith. The next session starts Aug. 1, and you can use code FTU0811 to get 20 percent off your tuition.


Civil War | Family Tree University | Historic preservation | Social History
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 4:30:47 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Thursday, July 21, 2011
150 Years Ago in the Civil War: Battle of Bull Run
Posted by Diane

The first major battle of the Civil War took place July 21, 1861, near Manasses, Va. The First Battle of Bull Run, also called the First Battle of Manasses, involved 15,000 Union and 14,000 Confederate soldiers.
 
The Confederate victory sent Union troops retreating toward Washington, DC. Michael O. Varhola, the author of Life in Civil War America, reports that 460 men were killed and 1,124 wounded on the Union side, and 387 killed and 1,582 wounded on the Confederate side.
 
This was the battle where Confederate Gen. Thomas Jonathan Jackson, relatively unknown until then, got the nickname “Stonewall” for standing his ground.
 
Soon after the battle, President Lincoln replaced Gen. Irvin McDowell with Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan. The North was shocked by the loss, and both sides began to realize they were in for a longer, bloodier war than expected.


Civil War | Genealogy Events
Thursday, July 21, 2011 8:28:44 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Thursday, July 14, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: Blockade of Wilmington
Posted by Diane

July 14, 1861, the U.S.S. Daylight under Commander Samuel Lockwood, initiated the Federal blockade of Wilmington, NC. It was the last major port to be blockaded in the strategy to close Confederate ports.

The South used small, fast ships to try to slip past the Union Navy, and over the course of the war, five out of six blockade runners were successful in evading the blockade. But because of the runners’ small size, drastically less cargo got into and out of the South.

The whole country experienced food shortages, but the blockade made things more severe in the South. Prices soared and people got creative about stretching foodstuffs. According to Life in Civil War America, some butchers even sold dressed rats. But in case you’re eating this over lunch, these examples from the book of making do are easier to digest:

When salt was unavailable to use as a seasoning, things with a salty flavor could be used, such as a pinch of wood ashes or a wild plant called coltsfoot, and soldiers sometimes used a dash of gunpowder.

And ...

Chicory, acorns, beans, beets, bran, corn, cornmeal, cotton seeds, dandelion root, okra seeds, peanuts, peas, sugarcane seeds and wheat berries were variously parched, dried, browned or roasted and used to make ersatz coffee. Other versions used tubers like carrots or yams, which were cut into small pieces, dried, toasted ad then ground up.

Civil War | Social History
Thursday, July 14, 2011 11:26:18 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, July 01, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, June 27-July 1
Posted by Diane

  • If you have an iPad or iPhone, here’s a more educational way than Angry Birds to pass the time, especially on the Fourth of July: MultiEducator’s History on the Go apps  use images, contemporary accounts, multimedia presentations and documents to help you learn about the American Revolution, Civil War, Constitution and Federalist Papers, and more. They’re available for about $5 through the Apple iTunes store (the Constitution app is free).
  • The Civil War Trust, a battlefield preservation organization, has announced Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy, a campaign to raise $40 million for the permanent protection of 20,000 acres of battlefield land over the next five years. An average of 30 acres of battlefield land are lost each day, according to Battle Cry of Freedom author James McPherson.

Civil War | Genealogy Web Sites | Social History
Friday, July 01, 2011 1:18:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, June 28, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: First US Naval Officer Killed
Posted by Diane

June 28, 1861, the Pawnee arrived at the Washington, DC, Navy Yard carrying the body of Capt. James H. Ward, the first US Naval officer killed during the American Civil War

The previous day, Ward, who was in command of a flotilla in the Chesapeake Bay, send a landing party to meet Southern forces at Mathias Point in King George County, Va. They met resistance, and Ward was shot after he moved the ships in to cover for the landing party as it retreated.

At the beginning of the war, the US Navy had just 90 ships; it grew to 670 ships and 50,000 sailors by mid-1964. The Confederate Navy had 130 warships and 4,000 men at its largest.

Dramatic events such as battles and shore bombardments were the exception to the rule for sailors, according to the book Life in Civil War America:

“Sailors spent the majority of their time performing routine duties or combating the effects of tedium. Running a ship required constant if monotonous activity; unlike soldiers, seamen tended not to have much idle time on their hands. An exception to this was, of course, Union soldiers on board blockading ships, who often complained of boredom in journals and letters.”

You’ll use different resources to trace a Civil War sailor than you would if researching a soldier. Start with the resources in this free FamilyTreeMagazine.com article on tracing Union and Confederate sailors.


Civil War | Military records
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 4:51:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Friday, June 24, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, June 20-24
Posted by Diane

  • The National Genealogical Society has created The NGS Weekly, a “newspaper” that pulls feeds from various genealogy blog posts. You can subscribe to get e-mail notifications when the page is updated.

Civil War | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Friday, June 24, 2011 1:21:58 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]
# Friday, June 17, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: East Tennessee Convention
Posted by Diane

A second round of East Tennessee Convention meetings was held June 17-20, 1861, in Greeneville, Tenn. Delegates from East Tennessee and one county in Middle Tennessee drafted a memo to the Tennessee government asking permission to leave the Confederacy and form an independent state aligned with the Union.

The Tennessee legislature rejected the convention’s request, and the governor stationed Confederate forces in East Tennessee.

Late in 1861, Scott County resolved to break away from Tennessee and form the Free and Independent State of Scott. The law remained on the books until it was re-discovered and repealed in 1986, though neither the Union nor the Confederacy had ever recognized the state.

As early as the 1840s, Andrew Johnson, then a Tennessee state senator, introduced state legislation—which failed—calling for East Tennessee to separate from the rest of the state. After the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, Unionists and secessionists campaigned for their causes throughout the state. Early referendums failed on whether to hold a convention discussing secession, but June 8, 1861, Tennesseeans voted in favor of an ordinance to secede. Most eastern counties remained heavily against.

According to Life in Civil War America, more battles were fought in Tennessee than any other state except Virginia. After the Union victory at Fort Donelson in 1862, Johnson became the state’s military governor.

Remember, you can nominate a Civil War event for this series—just click Comments or e-mail me.


Civil War
Friday, June 17, 2011 12:22:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Monday, June 13, 2011
Visit National Parks Free June 21
Posted by Diane

The US National Park Service will waive all entrance fees on Tuesday, June 21, the first day of summer. 

Among the beautiful and historic sites you could visit are Civil War-related places such as Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home, the Gettysburg battlefield and Appomattox Court House. 

You could convince Dad to take the day off work and celebrate a late, budget-friendly Father’s Day (Father's Day is next Sunday, June 19).

Use the Find a Park feature to find parks by name, location, activity or topic. If you scroll down and click a state on the US map, you'll open a page that shows you all the National Parks in that state.


Celebrating your heritage | Civil War | Museums | Social History
Monday, June 13, 2011 3:06:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, June 09, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: US Sanitary Commission
Posted by Diane

June 9, 1861, the US War Department sanctioned a "Commission of Inquiry and Advice in Respect of the Sanitary Interests of the United States Forces." Abraham Lincoln signed the US Sanitary Commission into law a few days later.

The new agency coordinated the volunteer efforts of women who wanted to contribute to the Union’s war effort. Members worked as nurses, ran Army camp kitchens, operated soldiers' homes and lodges, made uniforms, organized fundraising “sanitary fairs” (including art exhibitions or teas) and more.

The group had more than 4,000 local branches, according to Life in Civil War America.

The Sanitary Commission was disbanded in May 1866, and is often considered the forerunner to the American Red Cross.

Looking for records? The Historical Society of Pennsylvania holds a collection of records from the Sanitary Commission Philadelphia Branch, a major hub of commission activity, mostly correspondence, receipts and financial papers.


Civil War
Thursday, June 09, 2011 4:19:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, June 03, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: Battle of Philippi
Posted by Diane

This June 3, 1861, battle, which resulted in a Union victory, was part of a campaign by Maj. Gen. George McClellan, then commander of the Department of Ohio, to protect mostly pro-Union western Virginia and secure railroad bridges.

What may be the first battlefield amputations were performed on the Confederate side. Horrible as it was, this common battlefield surgery, which generally took about 15 minutes, saved many lives, according to Michael O. Varhola in the book Life in Civil War America

One of the patients was 18-year-old James E. Hanger, who lost his leg. After returning home, he crafted an artificial leg from barrel staves with a hinge at the knee. He was commissioned to manufacture prosthetic limbs for other wounded soldiers and patented his device. He founded what is now the Hanger Orthopedic Group, still a leading manufacturer of artificial limbs.


Civil War | Genealogy books
Friday, June 03, 2011 9:52:20 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, May 26, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: Postal Service Suspended in the South
Posted by Diane

The Civil War started 150 years ago in April, but the sesquicentennial actually stretches over the next four years. So we’re starting a series of blog posts to highlight various events in the war. Today's installment:

On May 26, 1861, US Postmaster-General Blair issued an order suspending postal service in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas as of May 31.

Mail for the shuttered offices was to be forwarded to the dead letter office, except in Western Virginia, where mail was to be sent to Wheeling.

To cope with increased mail during the Civil War, says author Michael O. Varhola in Life in Civil War America, the US Postal Service began dividing mail into first-class, second-class and third-class.

Congress also authorized the use of postage stamps as change after the US stopped issuing coinage. Due to hoarding, coins nearly disappeared from circulation. When the gummed stamps proved hard to use and unpopular, Congress approved glueless stamps called “postal currency.”


The book Life in Civil War America is available in print, as a digital download and as individual chapter downloads. Browse these items and our other Civil War resources at ShopFamilyTree.com


Civil War
Thursday, May 26, 2011 4:39:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, May 11, 2011
FamilySearch Creates Civil War Records Collection
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has gathered its Civil War-related records into a collection you can access free at FamilySearch.org/civil-war. Some records were already available on FamilySearch.org; others were just added to coincide with the National Genealogical Society Family History Conference in Charleston, SC.

Among the Civil War databases are:

  • United States, Civil War Soldiers Index: These index cards contain 6.3 million names of Union and Confederate soldiers and African-American sailors, along with basic service information (this information also is on the National Park Service’s Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System website).
  • Confederate pensions for those living Arkansas (1901-1929), Louisiana (1898-1950) and Missouri (1911-1938): Browse these databases by last name.
  • Civil War Pension Index Cards: These are index cards for pension applications of veterans who served in the US Army between 1861 and 1917.
  • 1890 Census of Union veterans and widows of the Civil War: Browse by state, county and town; enumerators creating these special schedules sometimes listed Confederate veterans, too.
  • United States, Registers of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914: This database, still being filmed and added to the site, names Army “regulars” (those who enlisted during peacetime—so generally, not men who enlisted to serve in a war). Browse by name.
  • Arizona Service Records of Confederate Soldiers of the Civil War, 1861-1863: This index links to record images at subscription site Footnote.com (you’ll need a subscription to view the documents).

See the full list of Civil War databases here (click the More » link).

You can search the Civil War records from the FamilySearch/Civil War page (note the search won’t include the browse-only collections, which aren’t yet indexed), or click on a database title to search or browse just those records.


Civil War | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Military records
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 9:20:07 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, April 22, 2011
Our Third Life in Civil War America Sweepstakes Winner
Posted by Diane

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, each week we're giving away Family Tree Magazine's Life in Civil War America book! Our third winner is Barb Stevens,m who posted a comment to this blog:

My husband's ggg grandfather Conrad Tschummi—and his son, same name, served in a CT unit in the Civil War. The father made it home safely, but his son died of disease. I did research at our CT State Library and found they had the original handwritten records of the entire tour of duty listing injuries, deaths, pay, punishments for not following the rules—I could follow the entire tour by these original records. They are incredible and a find I never dreamed ever existed.

Due to the fragile condition of the large, rolled sheets of paper and the fact that they probably won't be safe to unroll many more times, I paid to have them copied by the library and now they are safely in a roll in a large mailing tube.

Anyone looking for Civil War documents, ask at the facility if they have any records kept off site like they do in CT. These were brought to me to read in an enclosed and guarded area and I actually had tears in my eyes as I read them.

To enter, like Family Tree Magazine on Facebook and share on our wall a few details about a Civil War ancestor, or a tidbit from our Life in Civil War America webinar or Life in Civil War America book. You can also enter by posting a comment on any Genealogy Insider blog post about Life in Civil War America (like this one).

Each Friday in April, a winner will be chosen from that week's comments and wall posts. The winners will each receive a copy of the Life in Civil War America book.

The sweepstakes started April 6, and runs through April 29.

Need more details? Read the official rules here


Civil War | Genealogy fun | Military records
Friday, April 22, 2011 2:57:07 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, April 15, 2011
Our Second Life in Civil War America Sweepstakes Winner
Posted by jamie

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, each week we're giving away Family Tree Magazine's Life in Civil War America book! Here's our second winner:



To enter, like Family Tree Magazine on Facebook and share on our page a Civil War ancestor story or a tidbit from our Life in Civil War America webinar or Life in Civil War America book. You can also enter by posting a comment on any Genealogy Insider post about Life in Civil War America (like this one).

Each Friday in April, a winner will be chosen from that week's comments and wall posts, and they will be notified by an announcement on Family Tree Magazine's Facebook page. The four winners will each receive a copy of the Life in Civil War America book. Check our Facebook page and Genealogy Insider blog frequently for upcoming posts where we'll comment on and/or answer the questions we receive about Life in Civil War America.

The sweepstakes starts April 6, and runs through April 29.

Need more details? Read the official rules here.
Civil War | Genealogy fun
Friday, April 15, 2011 11:15:35 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [10]
# Monday, April 11, 2011
Our First Life in Civil War America Sweepstakes Winner
Posted by jamie

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, each week we're giving away Family Tree Magazine's Life in Civil War America book! Here's our first winner:



To enter, like Family Tree Magazine on Facebook and share on our page a Civil War ancestor story or a tidbit from our Life in Civil War America webinar or Life in Civil War America book. You can also enter by posting a comment on any Genealogy Insider post about Life in Civil War America (like this one).

Each Friday in April, a winner will be chosen from that week's comments and wall posts, and they will be notified by an announcement on Family Tree Magazine's Facebook page. The four winners will each recieve a copy of the Life in Civil War America book. Check our Facebook page and Genealogy Insider blog frequently for upcoming posts where we'll comment on and/or answer the questions we receive about Life in Civil War America.

The sweepstakes starts April 6, and runs through April 29.

Need more details? Read the official rules here.

Civil War | Genealogy fun
Monday, April 11, 2011 1:34:21 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 8 Recap
Posted by jamie

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

Actress Ashley Judd has proud southern roots. Her mother Naomi Judd and sister Wynonna Judd are country music superstars, and Ashley is an eighth-generation Kentuckian on her Judd line. So she got a few surprises when exploring her father's family.

Judd began her search by meeting with her father Michael Ciminella in Louisville, Ky. While looking at a photo album, Ciminella tells Judd about Elijah Hensley, an ancestor who fought in the Civil War. Judd searches for Elijah on Ancestry.com, discovering Hensley served in 39th Kentucky Infantry for the Union.

This leads Judd to the State Archives in Frankfort, Ky., where she finds Hensley's muster cards, indicating he enlisted at age 15 and was captured 32 days later. He was held for about five or six months in a prison in Richmond, Va., and was released in a broad exchange of Kentucky prisoners. He was later wounded in the Battle of Saltville and taken prisoner a second time. He was discharged in 1865 because of disability.

The search continues in Saltville, Va. Muster cards indicate Hensley's right leg was amputated on the battlefield by medics. An historian demonstrates what the amputation would be like, horrifying Judd. He also explains that Hensley's regiment would have retreated at the battle and left those injured to be taken prisoner by the Confederacy. Judd then reads a brief write-up about Hensely, indicating he worked as a farmer in Kentucky after he was honorably discharged. (For more on tracing your Civil War roots, see our Ultimate Collection.)

Judd then heads to New England Historical Society in Boston, Ma., to research her paternal great-grandfather William H. Dalton. Death records indicate Dalton's grandparent were E. & E. Brewster, a long-standing New England surname. NEHGS researches trace the Brewster lineage back 12 generations to William Brewster, who was born in 1566/7 England and was bailiff to the Archbishop of York. He immigrated to America in 1620, coming over on the Mayflower and signing the Mayflower Compact. (For more on Massachusetts research, see our state bundle.)

The travelers on the Mayflower were fleeing religious persecution, so Judd travels to York, England, to find out more about Brewster and the Pilgrims. She discovers William Brewster was a gentleman who attended Cambridge and looked after the archbishop's affairs.

Around 1607, Brewster became a central figure of the Puritans, a group of religious radicals who wanted to separate from the Church of England. He was summoned to court for speaking out against the Church of England and tries to flee the country. He first travels to Boston, England, and is soon jailed. Judd looks in his cell where a plaque dubbing him the "pilgrim father" hangs.

Brewster was imprisoned for months; upon his release, he traveled to Holland, where there was some degree of religious freedom. About 10 years later, Brewster obtained a charter from King James to settle Plymouth.

"WDYTYA" airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Civil War
Monday, April 11, 2011 10:56:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Friday, April 08, 2011
Free Footnote.com Civil War Records
Posted by jamie

Footnote.com is offering free access to it's Civil War collection April 7 - 14, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the war between the states.

The subscription website has worked with the US National Archives to bring millions of original records online for the first time. Researchers can access soldier records, photographs, original war maps, pension files, court investigations, slave records, Lincoln records and more from a one-stop search box.

Click here to search the Footnote.com Civil War database.


Civil War | Genealogy Web Sites | Military records
Friday, April 08, 2011 10:18:41 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, April 06, 2011
South Carolina Genealogy Crash Course
Posted by jamie



Researchers with South Carolina roots have 500 years' worth of records to explore. We'll show you how to navigate Palmetto State resources from early Colonial days to the 20th century in our South Carolina Genealogy Crash Course live webinar.

During our live webinars, audio is delivered over your telephone or computer speakers. Power Point presentations and desktop or document sharing are presented over the Internet. This is like a talk-radio program with visuals on the web. You'll be able to have a live Q&A chat with the speakers.

From the South Carolina webinar you'll learn:
    •    Essential South Carolina history
    •    Details on vital records and immigration in the state
    •    What ethnicity-based records your ancestor may have left
    •    The best websites for South Carolina research

Registration for the live session includes:
    •    Participation in the live presentation and Q&A session
    •    Unlimited access to the webinar recording
    •    PDF of the presentation slides for future reference

The webinar is April 20, 7 p.m. EST, and will run for one hour. If you register before April 13, you'll receive 20 percent off. Click here to register for the South Carolina Genealogy Crash Course live webinar.

Civil War | Editor's Pick | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 2:06:35 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Enter the Life in Civil War America Sweepstakes
Posted by jamie

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, each week we're giving away Family Tree Magazine's Life in Civil War America book! Simply like Family Tree Magazine on Facebook and share on our page a Civil War ancestor story or a tidbit from our Life in Civil War America webinar or Life in Civil War America book. You can also enter by posting a comment on any Genealogy Insider post about Life in Civil War America.

Each Friday in April, a winner will be chosen from that week's comments and wall posts, and they will be notified by an announcement on Family Tree Magazine's Facebook page. The four winners will each win the Life in Civil War America book. Check our Facebook page and Genealogy Insider blog frequently for upcoming posts where we'll comment on and/or answer the questions we receive about Life in Civil War America.

The sweepstakes starts April 6, and runs through April 29.

Need more details? Read the official rules here.


Civil War | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 12:51:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [17]
Free Ancestry.com Civil War Records
Posted by jamie

To mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, Ancestry.com is opening up millions of Civil War records, including the 1860 and 1870 US censuses, for free searches April 7 – 14.

The American Civil War Research Database is Ancestry's effort to compile and link all available records of soldiers who fought in the Civil War. The collection contains state rosters, pension records, regimental histories, photos and journals.

The database is divided into soldier records, regiment records, battle histories, and officer records. By searching soldier records, you can discover the soldier's name, residence, date of entry, regiments, companies, rank, promotions, transfers, events (such as POW, wounded, etc.) and how and where the soldier exited the military (discharge, desertion, muster out, or death). Some states also include in their official records a soldier's birthplace, age at enlistment, occupation, and physical description.

Click here to search Ancestry's American Civil War Research Database.


Ancestry.com | Civil War
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 10:29:15 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Sunday, March 27, 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 6 Recap
Posted by jamie

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

 "Who Do You Think You Are?" has been on hiatus for a few weeks, so I've really been jonesin' for the NBC family history hit. And Steve Buscemi's episode delivered a one-two punch of drama and mystery that had me on the edge of my seat.

Buscemi, a native New Yorker, began his genealogy journey by meeting with his parents. His family wanted to know more about his mother's ancestry because Amanda Van Dine, Buscemi's mother's mother, took her own life in 1928, leaving a void on in the family tree.

The death certificate of Amanda Van Dine's mother, Jane Van Dine, reveals her parent's names, Julia Vanderhof and Ralph Montgomery, as well as her address when she died. Coincidentally, the address is now a restaurant Buscemi frequents.

The 1880 census lists Jane Montgomery as an 11-year-old live-in servant in Camden, N.J. A researcher explains to Buscemi that it was common for children to enter the workforce, especially poverty stricken families.

Buscemi then searches Ancestry.com's user-uploaded family trees to find more on Jane Montgomery's parents. Another user has posted a tree with information about Ralph Montgomery, who was born in 1834 in Milton, Pa. Buscemi contacts the person who made the tree, to get more info from them.

In the mean time, he heads to Harrisburg, Pa., to visit state archives. Ralph Montgomery is listed as a dentist in tax records, but the 1860 census indicates he was a grocer and married to woman named Margaret with two young children. Buscemi is stunned to learn his great-great grandfather had a family before he married Buscemi's great-great grandmother Julia Vanderhof.

Buscemi then takes to microfilmed copies of the Pennsylvania Telegraph to try to learn more. He discovers a small snippet about a suicide note signed by Ralph Montgomery found near the Susquehanna River. Clearly, he did not complete suicide, but this must have been a particularly trying time for Ralph Montgomery.

Court records reveal Ralph Montgomery was charged with assault and battery in 1859, but the charges were later dropped. He disappears from tax records in 1861, the year the Civil War began.

This leads Buscemi to search military records. Muster cards reveal Ralph Montgomery enlisted in Pennsylvania's 91st regiment. He deserted June 1962 in Alexandria, Va., a common occurrence for a citizen army, and returned August 1962. He fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg, a bloody loss for the Union. After fighting another battle, he deserted for the last time. (For more on the war between the states, see Life in Civil War America.)

The special Civil War veterans schedule of the 1890 Census lists Ralph's first wife Margaret as a widow; she assumed Ralph was dead when her husband never came home.

Buscemi then get a hold of Ralph Montgomery's New Jersey death certificate. The document indicates he was a dentist and died of tuberculosis. He was buried in strangers row, where indigent or unknown people were buried in unmarked graves.

Buscemi then returns to Brooklyn to meet the person who posted the Ancestry.com family tree. Carol Olive, Buscemi's third cousin, reveals Julia Vanderhof, Ralph Montgomery's second wife, remarried to Charles Brandenburg. Her children who were working as servants, including Jane, are again living with their mother in Brooklyn in the 1892 New York census. (For more on Empire State ancestors, see our on-demand webinar.)

"WDYTYA" airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode.

And if you haven't already, check out the bonus scenes for each episode of "WDYTYA?" on Hulu.com.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War
Sunday, March 27, 2011 10:39:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Free Civil War Webinar
Posted by jamie

Good news, family historians! We're offering one of our interactive online seminars for free to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Learn what life was really like during the war between the states for the soldiers who fought and died in the conflict, as well as the civilians they left behind at home. Take a virtual trip back to the 1860s with Michael O. Varhola, the author of the new book Life in Civil War America, to discover what your ancestors wore, said, ate, earned, did for fun and more.

Registration for the live session includes:
* participation in the live presentation and Q&A session
* access to the webinar recording to view again as many times as you like
* PDF of the presentation slides for future reference
* coupon for purchase of Life in Civil War America or 2011 Civil War desk calendar

The Life in Civil War America webinar is scheduled for April 6 at 2 p.m. Click here to reserve your spot.

UPDATE:
If you cannot attend the free webinar when it is being broadcast, you can still access the recording and handouts afterward by registering for the webinar. Click here to register.


Civil War | Webinars
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 12:21:02 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Saturday, March 05, 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 5 Recap
Posted by jamie

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

Singer-songwriter Lionel Ritchie explored his great-grandfather's history on his episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Richie began his journey at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where his mother, father and grandmother were professors. Gathering clues with his sister, Richie uses his grandmother's Social Security application to find her father's name — John Louis Brown.

He heads to his grandmother's birthplace of Nashville to learn more about J.L. Richie searches an old marriage registry and finds J.L. married Volenderver Towson on April 6, 1890. An archivist then shows Richie a copy of a divorce complaint, revealing J.L. was 50 when he married the 15-year-old Towson. A judge grants the divorce because J.L. abandoned his young wife for over two years.

Perplexed, Richie searches city directories from the 1880s, which list J.L. as a member of a black fraternal organization Knights of Wise Men. The group, founded in 1879, offered financial benefits to all members for illness and death. The Knights of Wise Men was a prototype of modern organizations that propelled the Civil Rights Movement, and J.L. was the national leader of the group.

According to an 1891 Chattanooga, Tenn., newspaper article, the Knights of Wise Men eventually collapsed because the group had to pay out a large amount of death benefits at once during a small pox epidemic; the treasurer then ran off with what was left of the money. For more on researching African-American ancestors in newspapers, see our Family Tree University independent study course here.

A 1929 Chattanooga city directory reveals J.L. was caretaker at a black cemetery, Pleasant Gardens. J.L.'s death certificate indicates he was buried in that cemetery. The document also lists J.L.'s father as Morgan Brown and his mother as unknown.

Richie visits Pleasant Gardens, distraught to see the graves overrun by weeds and grass. J.L. is buried in the pauper section of the cemetery, where most of the graves are unmarked.

Richie then finds J.L.'s pension application. At first he thinks J.L. was a soldier in the Civil War, but he was actually body servant — a butler to soldiers. Slaves were hired out for this dangerous job, and free blacks did it for low pay. J.L.'s owner was listed on the pension application as Morgan W. Brown, meaning J.L. could have been a slave and his owner could have also been his father. Learn more about tracing slave ancestors here.

At the Nashville Public Library, Lionel discovers there are two Morgan Browns in the area: Dr. Morgan Brown and his son Morgan W. Brown. Dr. Brown's journal reveals he owned a working slave plantation and one of the slaves, Mariah, gave birth to a son, Louis, in 1839, an unusual notation for a master to make in his journal. Dr. Brown was about 80 years old when Louis was born, but his son Morgan W. Brown was 39 at the time. It is still unclear which Morgan Brown is J.L.'s father.

Dr. Brown wrote his will during Mariah's pregnancy, granting Mariah and her child freedom, land and money for education of the child upon Dr. Brown's death. It is unclear if the executor of the estate, Morgan W. Brown, carried out Dr. Brown's wishes. For more on researching African American ancestors, see our guide here.

"WDYTYA" airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Civil War
Saturday, March 05, 2011 11:15:03 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, February 18, 2011
News Corral: Feb. 18
Posted by jamie

Ancestry.com has improved its 1910 US census collection to include clearer images, alternate names and mother's and father's birthplace search fields. The best part? You can search the collection for free through Feb. 21.

ProGenealogists released its annual list of the 50 most popular genealogy websites. Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, FindAGrave.com, FamilySearch.org and Genealogy.com round out the top five sites. FamilyTreeMagazine.com even made the list. See all the sites here.

Think your ancestors greeted each other with a friendly hello? Think again. The first documented usage of "hello" is in 1827, and it was used attract attention or express surprise. It wasn't until after the telephone came into regular use that "hello" was a common greeting. Read the entire history of the word here.

The New York Times is celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War by posting collaborative blogs in a section called Disunion. The blogs utilizes contemporary accounts and historical assessments to chronicle the Civil War as it unfolded 150 years ago. Stay up-to-date on the posts by liking Disunion on Facebook.

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has been jokingly lobbying for an invite to the royal nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton with no success. But, much to Degeneres' surprise, she is actually related to Middleton -- the two are 15th cousins. Because of the connection, DeGerenes is now awaiting her save the date.


Ancestry.com | Celebrity Roots | census records | Civil War | Genealogy fun | Social History
Friday, February 18, 2011 11:06:16 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, February 11, 2011
Genealogy News Corral: Feb. 11
Posted by jamie

The General Registrar Office of Scotland will release 1911 census records April 5. This enumeration contains the names, addresses, ages, occupations, birthplaces and marital statuses of more than 4.7 million Scots. Subscription website ScotlandsPeople will have the data available online in full color.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies has scheduled its annual conference for Sep. 7–10, in Springfield, Il. This year's theme is Pathways to the Heartland, and David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States, is scheduled as the keynote speaker. Click here to read more about the conference or to register.

Facebook application We're Related will integrate with a FarmVille-like application to create an online game for players to explore their family trees and build an online community. While players construct houses, start businesses, immigrate family members and assign jobs, Family Village matches inputted data with relevant real-world documents—such as census records, newspaper articles and marriage records—about the user's living and deceased relatives. Players can then examine the records, print them, or store them in their personal game library. Click here to play Family Village on Facebook.

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies has acquired GenealogyWise.com, a social networking website for genealogists. As a result, the site will gain new features, like allowing users to sit in on live meetings digitally.

Archives.com announced two January winners for it's new monthly grant program. Columbia County, Pa., Historical & Genealogical Society will use its grant to transcribe marriage license dockets 1921 to 1939—an estimated 9,000 bride and groom names. Myron McGhee will use his grant to travel to Alabama to interview residents, review deed transcriptions and scan photographs to test a hypothesis that his black ancestors roots are related to a white family in the area with the same name. Each recipient will receive $1,000 for their genealogy project.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a digital copy of a map used by Abraham Lincoln to coordinate military operations with his emancipation policies. The map illustrates the slave population density in 1860 America geographically, and is available for view here.


African-American roots | census records | Civil War | Historic preservation | International Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Friday, February 11, 2011 3:43:52 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 09, 2011
New "Life in Civil War America" Book
Posted by jamie


Whether your fourth-great-grandfather served in the Civil War or your ancestors watched from the sidelines, gain insight into their experiences with Life in Civil War America by historian Michael O. Varhola.

His new book takes readers back to the war between the states, illuminating the sweeping changes and cultural norms that shaped the everyday lives of soldiers and civilians. Discover what it was like to sit around the campfire cooking hellfire stew and "throwing the papers" with fellow soldiers. Or see how it was on the home front, passing the time with war worries at a starvation party, where the only refreshment served was water.

Inside the cover you'll find:
  • a look at the social and economic realities of daily life in the Union and Confederacy, from big cities and small towns to plantations and communes
  • an explanation of military life in the army and navy, from rankings and regiments to duties and dress
  • the typical diets of soldiers and civilians, including period recipes, food preparation and the impact of shortages and inflation on rations
  • definitions of common terms, slang and idioms of the era
  • dozens of Civil War photographs and illustrations plus an appendix on the role photography played during the war
  • a quick-reference timeline detailing the events of the war
  • tips for researching ancestors who fought in the Civil War
  • information on Civil War resources, books, periodicals, websites and historic sites
Life in Civil War America is now available on ShopFamilyTree.com at a special 33 percent discount.

Civil War | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Wednesday, February 09, 2011 2:53:01 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, December 30, 2010
Civil War News Corral
Posted by jamie

  • A retired CIA code breaker deciphered a 147-year-old message between Confederate officers. The dispatch indicates Maj. Gen. John G. Walker would not be sending additional troops to reinforce the Confederate hold on the Mississippi River. The same day, the Mississippi River fell to the Union.

  • Historians found a myriad of errors in Virginia history textbooks, and many of the errors relate to the history of the Civil War. The books include incorrect dates for the Battle of Bull Run and the end of slavery, as well as erroneous figures for the amount of men who led Pickett's Charge.

  • The United States Postal Service is celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War by releasing commemorative forever stamps depicting the major battles in the war. Souvenir sheets of two stamps will be issued annually, and the first set will be available April 12.

  • Members of the Cincinnati Sons of Union Veterans are working with a civil war preservation group in Georgia to restore a monument in Chickamauga National Battlefield Park. The monument marks where Gen. William Haines Lytle, a member of one of Cincinnati's founding families, was killed while leading union forces in a counterattack.

  • Many states are facing cutbacks and budget turmoil, leaving little funding for Civil War sesquicentennial celebrations. New York, North Carolina and other states have yet to allocate any money for the festivities, but Virginia and Pennsylvania are leading the charge with budgets of $2 million and $5 million.

  • Family Tree is celebrating the Civil War sesquicentennial with our latest book Life in Civil War America and with a special issue of Family Tree Magazine. Look for it on newsstands March 8.

Civil War | Historic preservation
Thursday, December 30, 2010 11:16:38 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, October 11, 2010
NOAA Releases Free Civil War Map Collection
Posted by Diane

I was surprised to get an announcement about a new collection of Civil War maps, charts and documents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but it actually makes perfect sense:

Under the auspices of the NOAA is the Office of the Coast Survey, which president Thomas Jefferson established in 1807 to produce nautical charts that would provide for maritime safety, defense and the establishment of national boundaries. By the start of the Civil War, the Coast Survey was a leading scientific agency, charting coastlines and determining land elevations. It still surveys coasts and produces nautical charts today.

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in 2011, NOAA has gathered materials the Coast Survey prepared during the war years into a free, online collection called Charting a More Perfect Union.

The collection, which will help you visualize terrain, ports, and coasts as they were from 1861 to 1865, includes:
  • 394 maps and nautical charts used for naval campaigns, and troop movements and battles. You can search the maps by keyword(s), state or region, year or chart number. If you click Search without entering terms, you’ll get a list of all the documents in the collection (not in alphabetical or chronological order).
In your map search results, click to preview the map, such as this map of Atlanta, in the site’s image viewer:



Links in your list of search results let you open a high-resolution version of the map as a JPG or a MrSID (a kind of graphic file). A Cincinnati-area map I found opened very slowly as a jpg, but it enlarged to incredible detail. You can right click (on a PC) or control-click (on a Mac) and choose Save As to save the map to your computer.

Find more Civil War resources in our Civil War genealogy toolkit.

Research your Civil War ancestors with help from our guide, available in the July 2007 Family Tree Magazine digital edition.

Civil War | Free Databases | Military records
Monday, October 11, 2010 1:43:04 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The Hand-in-Jacket Pose in Old Pictures
Posted by Diane

Flipping through our copy of Hallowed Ground magazine, I was struck by several photos of Civil War army officers posed like this unidentified soldier:

Civil War soldier
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

I’ve seen photos like this before, and I always thought that the men were imitating the painting of "Napoleon in his Study." The emperor, I’d heard, clutched his torso because of a stomach ulcer.

But it seems odd (at least to me) that when you have what would’ve been a rare opportunity to capture your likeness for posterity, you'd decide to undo a couple of coat buttons and stick your hand inside the opening.

When I looked into it, I learned that men who posed this way weren’t necessarily imitating Napoleon, and that he wasn’t sticking his hand in his coat because of an ulcer (though he did have one, according to Napoleon.org).

I found many explanations online, such as “he didn't trust anyone and liked to keep his hand on his wallet” and “painters at the time charged by the limb.” But experts on Napoleon Series site’s FAQ say that the hand-in-jacket pose was  “a common stance for men of breeding” and appears frequently in 18th-century portraiture. Even some ancient Greek and Roman statues have hands in togas.

Napoleon probably didn’t actually sit for the painting; an admirer commissioned that work and the artist painted it from memory.

After consulting historians about the hand-in-jacket pose, author David Feldman writes that certain gestures were indeed part of photographers’ standard poses. For example, you’ll often see two men posed shaking hands or with hands on each others’ shoulders, meant to convey a friendship or familial relationship. Holding a Bible and pointing off-camera are other standard poses.

The historians also suggest that putting a hand in a jacket, or on a table or other object, also might’ve been a way of keeping the hand still for long sitting times.

Here’s Gen. George B. McClellan and his staff:

Civil War Ge. George B. McClellan
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Civil War resources from Family Tree Magazine:

Civil War | Photos | Social History
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 3:34:49 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]