Free Updates

Let us tell you when new posts are added!

Email:

Navigation

Categories
November, 2014 (16)
October, 2014 (20)
September, 2014 (17)
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

<November 2014>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2627282930311
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30123456

More Links








# Friday, August 22, 2014
Smithsonian Launches Website to Crowdsource Old Document Transcriptions
Posted by Diane



The Smithsonian Institution has joined the crowdsourcing revolution: It launched a Transcription Center website where volunteers can help transcribe thousands of document images, such as Civil War diaries, letters from artists Mary Cassatt and Grandma Moses, and old American currency.

Over the past year, nearly 1,000 volunteers participated in a beta test of documents in high demand by researchers, resulting in about 13,000 pages of transcriptions. 

According to the Smithsonian’s press release, “In one instance—transcribing the personal correspondence of members of the Monuments Men held in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art collection—49 volunteers finished the 200-page project in just one week.”

A Reddit community devoted to the Applachian Trail transcribed the 121-page digitized diary of Earl Shaffer, the first man to hike the entire length of the trail. Hiking enthusiasts, naturalists and other researchers now can search the digital version, helping to preserve access while protecting the fragile original.

Another volunteer reviews each completed transcription before it’s certified by a Smithsonian expert. To participate, register here and click Tips for quick instructions. You can choose a project by theme (such as American Experience or Civil War Era) or by contributing repository.


Museums | Social Networking
Friday, August 22, 2014 11:11:06 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, October 01, 2013
How the Government Shutdown Impacts Genealogists
Posted by Diane

The government shutdown means that some of you who had big genealogy research or historical travel plans are up a creek:
US mail will still be delivered, so research requests sent to non-federal repositories won't be affected.

For the sake of those more profoundly affected and for genealogists' sake, let's hope this gets resolved soon.


Land records | Libraries and Archives | Museums | NARA
Tuesday, October 01, 2013 9:09:51 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Monday, August 19, 2013
Chris O'Donnell visits St. Louis on "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Posted by Diane

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's "Who Do You Think You Are?" because actor Chris O'Donnell stops in St. Louis, my stomping grounds during college and briefly thereafter.



Although I wasn't researching genealogy in earnest at that time, I did have an appreciation for St. Louis' rich history and I loved to visit the Missouri History Museum. I wonder what St. Louis sites will make an appearance in the show?

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, O'Donnell met with Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center archivist Dennis Northcott, whom I've had fun chatting with at genealogy conferences. (Hey, I'm one degree from Chris O'Donnell!)

On Tuesday's episode, O'Donnell also visits Fort McHenry in Baltimore (I'm predicting a War of 1812 connection), the National Archives in Washington, DC, and the Smithsonian Institution.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" (the US version) airs at 9/8 Central on TLC. If you miss it, episodes are being posted to the show's website after they air. With getting ready for the FGS conference in Fort Wayne, Ind., this week, I might have to avail myself of that option.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Libraries and Archives | Museums
Monday, August 19, 2013 11:28:10 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Battle of Gettysburg 150th Anniversary: Honor Civil War Ancestors With a Virtual Visit
Posted by Diane

With the beginning of July (can you believe that's already next week?) arrives the 150th anniversary of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg.

It lasted from July 1-3 and involved 160,000 soldiers on both sides, with casualty estimates (also for both sides) ranging from 46,000 to 51,000. Civilians hid in their homes as the fighting happened around them.

Although the Battle of Gettysburg is considered a turning point in the war—it put Gen. Robert E. Lee was on the defensive—the Civil War dragged on for nearly two more years.

The astounding numbers of dead at Gettysburg led to the establishment of the Soldiers National Cemetery there. At the cemetery's dedication on Nov. 19, 1863, President Lincoln eloquently spoke the 10 sentences we know as the Gettysburg Address.

If a visit to the Gettysburg battlefield (perhaps for the 150th anniversary commemoration) isn't on your agenda, you still can pay a virtual visit to honor the memories of your Civil War ancestors and see the world through their eyes. Here are some ways to do it:
  • Visit the Gettysburg Foundation website to view photos of the Gettysburg Battlefield and the Gettysburg Cyclorama—French artist Paul Philippoteaux's 360-degree, life-size "painting in the round" by that depicts Pickett's Charge.

  • See photos and soak up history (and plan a visit, if you're lucky enough) at the Gettysburg National Military Park website.
  • The Stone Sentinels website shows you photos of more than 1,200 Gettysburg Battlefield monuments to units, individuals and others; plus farms and other buildings. You can browse monuments to units by the state where the unit was raised, or take a tour using a monument map.

  • The Nationwide Gravesite Locator lets you search for burials of veterans and their family members at Gettysburg National Military Park (choose Gettysburg from the Cemetery dropdown menu and then enter at least a last name).
Did your Civil War ancestor fight in the Battle of Gettysburg? See the July/August 2013 Family Tree Magazine for our seven-step guide to researching Gettysburg ancestors.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Military records | Museums | Social History
Tuesday, June 25, 2013 1:09:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Ellis Island Immigration Museum Archive Relocated
Posted by Diane

The National Park Service has moved treasures from the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York Harbor to a federal storage center due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Oct. 29, the hurricane flooded Ellis Island and water filled the basement of the Immigration Museum, which houses the Great Hall where millions of immigrants started their lives in the United States.

Fortunately, the water didn't touch the museum's archive of records and immigrant artifacts, which were located elsewhere in the building. But it did knock out the island's electricity, wreaking havoc on the museum's carefully controlled climate and causing mold to grow on the artifacts and condensation to build up on walls.

You can learn more about the move and see photos and a video in this TribecaTribOnline article.

Both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty (on nearby Liberty Island) remain closed. Park Service plans call for reopening, but a date is yet to be determined.  You can get updates on the Statue of Liberty Hurricane Sandy Recovery page.


Historic preservation | immigration records | Museums
Wednesday, February 06, 2013 11:06:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, September 24, 2012
Get Free Admission to 100s of Museums Across the Country on Sept. 29!
Posted by Diane

This Saturday, Sept. 29, is Museum Day—when hundreds of museums across the country open their doors and let you visit for free.

You do need to sign up for your free tickets on the Museum Day website (each ticket is good for admission for two people). Tickets will be emailed to you; print them and take with you to the place you visit on Museum Day.

Click here to find a participating museum near you.

A few I like for the history-minded:
  • Out West in Nevada, you can step into your Silver State ancestors' shoes at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City, which features American Indian artifacts, fossils, a recreated ghost town and underground mine, and more.
  • At the Western Heritage Center in Billings, Mont., you can see special exhibits on Montana Women at Work and how the railroad shaped Billings. One of the museum's galleries replicates a 1930s dude ranch lodge.
Have fun!


Museums | Social History
Monday, September 24, 2012 2:02:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, January 13, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Jan. 9-13
Posted by Diane

  • All 397 US national parks will offer free admission Jan. 14-16 to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. You can visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia, the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, or the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC—just a few of the many national parks that have ties to Dr. King or the Civil Rights movement. 
Use the directory at NPS.gov to find a park.
  • Library and Archives Canada has added digitized images of Upper Canada land petitions (357,831 new images in all) to its website. First search the index here (use the search link at the left; the one on the bottom didn't work for me) to find the microfilm number you need, then use the “microform digitization” research tool to you can browse the image page by page.
  • FamilySearch has added 119 million new, free records to the record search at FamilySearch.org (that includes about 64 million indexed names and 55 million browsable images). They come from more than 30 countries including Australia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and the United States. See the full list of new and updated databases here.

African-American roots | Canadian roots | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Museums | Social History
Friday, January 13, 2012 4:54:31 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Thursday, November 03, 2011
Search 30,000 Names From Holocaust Musuem Records—Free
Posted by Diane

Material from four museum collections containing information on more than 30,000 victims of Nazi persecution is now searchable online for free at Ancestry.com.

The database is the first searchable collection resulting from the World Memory Project, a partnership of Ancestry.com and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The records contain information on thousands of individuals including displaced Jewish orphans; Czech Jews deported to the Terezin concentration camp and camps in occupied Poland; and French victims of Nazi persecution.

World Memory Project contributors use software from Ancestry.com to index museum records. The indexes are free to search on Ancestry.com. The museum retains the original records and provides free copies of them upon request. To date, more than 2,100 contributors from around the world have indexed almost 650,000 records.


Ancestry.com | Free Databases | Jewish roots | Museums
Thursday, November 03, 2011 9:06:11 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, September 16, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, September 12-16
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch released more searchable records this week, including  more than 6 million Hungarian Catholic Church records, 4 million Mexican civil registrations, 1 million new Chinese genealogies (1500 to 1900), and Quebec notarial records (1800 to 1900). US additions come from California, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Washington and the Virgin Islands, plus 1942 WWII draft registrations. See the full list and link to each database here.
  • Family tree site Geni introduced its $4.95-per-month Geni Plus service as a level between the free Basic and $12.95 Pro memberships. Genealogists’ frustrated feedback after changes to those memberships led to Geni Plus, intended for social genealogists who want to collaborate with other researchers. It's "designed to give these members more power to build their personal family trees while discovering some of the benefits of working with others on their family history," says CEO Noah Tutak. Features include unlimited relatives in your tree and GEDCOM exports for any profile you can view on Geni (up to 100,000 records). See Geni’s blog for more details
  • Subscription British records site Findmypast.co.uk added a million 20th century merchant navy seamen records—the first time they’re accessible online. They list crew members of UK merchant ships from 1918 to 1941 and include photos.
  • This from the New York History blog: If you’re planning to visit Ellis Island and see where many immigrants first entered America, you can download a $1.99 cell phone tour taking you through the immigrant experience. Read more here.

FamilySearch | Hispanic Roots | International Genealogy | Museums | Social Networking | UK and Irish roots
Friday, September 16, 2011 4:49:42 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, August 26, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, August 22-26
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch added to collections from seven countries, including 6 million record images from Mexico. Other additions include parish register records from Belgium and England, and church book records from Russia. New records were added from eight US states: Maryland, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. Click through to the new and updated collections from here.
  • UK family history site Genes Reunited has released a variety of military records from WW1 and the Second Anglo-Boer War. Collections include Royal Naval Officers' Medal Roll 1914-1920, New Zealand WWI Soldiers, Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919, and records with 258,800 names of men and women who fought during the Second Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902.
  • Subscription genealogy site Ancestry.com has expanded its US school yearbook collection, adding nearly 25,000 new yearbooks. It now totals more than 35,000 books with 155 million records from 1884 to 2009. The books come from high schools, junior highs, academies, colleges and universities. They're also are available on the Canadian-focused Ancestry.ca.
  • Jill Barone of St. Petersburg, Fla., won the Red Star Line Museum's "Do You Know This Girl?" social media contest. Barone wins a trip to Antwerp, Belgium, for the official pre-opening festivities of the Red Star Line Museum in May 2012, and a $1,000 shopping spree at Diane Von Furstenberg's Antwerp boutique. The museum will open in spring 2013.

Ancestry.com | Canadian roots | Genealogy Web Sites | Military records | Museums | UK and Irish roots
Friday, August 26, 2011 1:14:46 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Museums Offer Free Admission Sept. 24
Posted by Diane

Get ready for Museum Day Saturday, Sept. 24, when hundreds of museums across the country will offer free admission (good for up to two visitors per household).

Participating museums include such history-related sites as the 1810 Goundie House in Bethlehem, Pa.; Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Ill.; Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn, NY; Museum of Women's History in Billings, Mont.; and the Historic New Orleans Collection in New Orleans.

You’ll need to fill out an online form and select the museum you want to visit from a dropdown menu, and you’ll get your admission ticket via email.

Print the ticket and take it with you when you visit. Each ticket is valid for two people to visit one venue, and there’s limit of one ticket per household.


Genealogy Events | Museums | Social History
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 1:38:28 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# 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]
# Friday, June 10, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, June 6-10
Posted by Diane

  • Manassas, Va., is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas (also called Bull Run) with an event July 21-24 featuring battle re-enactments, living history demonstrations and more, including an appearance by Patrick Gorman (Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood in the 2003 film Gods and Generals). Learn more and purchase tickets at ManassasCivilWar.org

Ancestry.com | Genealogy Events | Historic preservation | Libraries and Archives | Museums | NARA
Friday, June 10, 2011 10:02:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, June 02, 2011
What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?
Posted by Diane

Did you know that in 1943, butter had its own food group? See (click the image for a bigger view):



(and that was before Paula Deen was even born).

From ever-evolving food groups to the War Food Administration during World War II, the government has influenced how and what we eat. The National Archives has a new exhibit detailing those efforts.

"What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government's Effect on the American Diet," open June 10 through Jan. 3, 2012 at the National Archives’ Washington, DC, headquarters, gathers folk songs, war posters, educational films, seed packets and more records dating from the Revolutionary War era through the late 1900s. The hundred-plus items are grouped into themes Farm, Factory, Kitchen and Table.

Here, curator Alice Kamps and Chief Culinary Advisor (how cool a job would that be?) José Andrés talk about their favorite aspects of the exhibition and a surprising discovery in late-1800s files from the Bureau of Chemistry:



Of course, our family heritage and traditions also influence what we eat. Family Tree Books is collecting short essays for a book about real family recipes and the memories that surround them.

If you have a sentimental spot for Aunt Barbara’s snickerdoodles, Nonna’s pasta e fagioli or Mom’s Sunday roasts, see the submission instructions here

Celebrating your heritage | Museums | NARA
Thursday, June 02, 2011 9:40:56 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Ancestry.com and Holocaust Museum to Create Free Index to Holocaust Records
Posted by Diane

Subscription website Ancestry.com and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are launching the World Memory Project to recruit volunteers to build an online resource for information on Holocaust victims.

Volunteers will build an index to the museum’s archives, which hold information on more than 17 million people targeted by the Nazis, including Jews, Poles, Roma, Ukrainians, political prisoners and others.

Ancestry.com will donate the indexing software and project management, and will host the completed indexes, which will be free to search. Holocaust survivors and their families can contact the museum to obtain copies of original documents at no cost.

Since launching the project in beta in February, Ancestry.com contributors have already indexed over 30,000 of the museum’s archival documents, which will soon be searchable free on Ancestry.com.

People from anywhere in the world can help index the remaining records by visiting www.WorldMemoryProject.org and registering to become a contributor.


Ancestry.com | Jewish roots | Museums
Tuesday, May 03, 2011 10:15:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 24, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Sept. 20-24
Posted by Diane

  • The California Family History Expo is coming up Oct. 8-9 in Pleasanton, Calif. The exhibit hall is free, but you must register ($65 in advance; $75 at the door) to attend classes. Here’s a neat option for those who can’t go to the whole conference: If you’d like to attend just a few classes, you can do so for $12 per class. Register on the Family History Expos website
  • The FamilySearch Beta site has added nearly 2 million new digital images of historical records this week from the Dominican Republic, Italy, Jamaica, Spain, and the United States.
Note that not all of the new records are indexed yet, which means that they’re not included in the search, so you may need to browse. Use the filters on the left side of the Collection List page to navigate to the country, then possibly the type of record and/or province, then select the record set you want to browse.


FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives | Museums | NARA
Friday, September 24, 2010 1:10:01 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, August 23, 2010
A Visit to the East Tennessee History Center
Posted by Diane

I blogged a bit a couple of weeks ago about the East Tennessee History Center and the research collections inside. Friday morning while attending the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, I wandered the three or four blocks over to the center for a peek.

The center, renovated and expanded in 2004, is in the old Federal Customs House, constructed in 1874.

The Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, part of the Knox County Public Library, is on the third floor. The staff graciously let me take some photos, which are normally prohibited in the research rooms. The collection covers East Tennessee as well as other regions and states, especially those where folks who left Tennessee ended up.



The reading room was once a Federal courtroom, with the reference desk positioned about where the judge ruled from his bench.



Downstairs on the first floor, part of the Museum of East Tennessee history occupies what used to be a post office. Exhibits—multilayered with documents, artifacts, images, video and audio—start with the Cherokee Indians who inhabited the area and go all the way through the settling of the frontier, the work of the Tennessee Valley Authority and up to the World’s Fair of the 1980s.

Inside an old reassembled log cabin, you could watch a video about the Civil War in East Tennessee.



I especially liked the displays focusing on regional Appalachian crafts such as broom-making, basketry and quilting,



as well as the blue grass, gospel, country and other musical genres that evolved here. 



You can pay a virtual visit to the East Tennessee History Center here

Libraries and Archives | Museums | Social History
Monday, August 23, 2010 10:37:27 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, June 24, 2010
Historical Photo Database Shows NYC's Lower East Side Tenements
Posted by Diane

The Tenement Museum in New York City’s Lower East has launched on online database of more than 1,300 images from the museum’s collection.



Photos show the neighborhood, historic and contemporary photographs of 97 Orchard Street (the restored tenement where the museum is located) and historic portraits of people who lived and worked there.

You can browse, run a basic search by keyword, or run an advanced search on a name, place, year range or other terms. If you click on an image in your search results, you can enlarge it or save it to your favorites (in which case you’ll need to create a free account).

By 1900, more than 80,000 tenements had been built in New York City, according to History.com. About 2.3 million people—two-thirds of the city’s population, many of them poor immigrants—lived in tenement housing. The building at 97 Orchard Street was home to 7,000 people from more than 20 nations between 1863 and 1935.

Author and photographer Jacob Riis exposed the miserable conditions of tenement houses in his book How the Other Half Lives, published in 1890. (Read it on Google Books). The book was instrumental in urban reforms regulating the construction of tenements.

Free Databases | Museums | Photos | Social History
Thursday, June 24, 2010 11:04:06 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, February 12, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: February 8-12
Posted by Diane

  • Neat website alert: The Ministry of Food goes with an Imperial War Museum London exhibit about the British public’s adaption to food shortages during World War II. You can see photos from the exhibit, check out Ministry of Food publications on gardening and cooking, and watch video clips.
And here’s a blog by a woman who’s living for a month on a 1940s British ration diet
  • Ancestry.com has improved Collection Filters in the New Search. When you’re in the Advanced Search, a pull-down menu lets you give priority to matches associated with various countries or ethnic backgrounds. See how it works on the Ancestry.com blog.


Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genealogy fun | Museums | Social History | UK and Irish roots
Friday, February 12, 2010 12:07:06 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 05, 2010
NY Museum Offers Digitized National Guard Records
Posted by Diane

Got a New Yorker who served in the state’s National Guard? The New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs has released of 53,671 pages of New York National Guard records, according to a Dec. 29 announcement.

The digitized records in PDF format include 197 issues of the New York National Guardsman magazine (published monthly from August 1924 to August 1940) and National Guard annual reports from the Adjutant General from 1858 to 1955

Many years of the Adjutant General records have a name index. Otherwise, there’s no search of the digitized records, so you’ll need to browse files for the years you’re interested in. Some of the files are pretty big and take a few minutes to download.

The center’s library also has rich genealogical resources offline, including 2,000 volumes of military and New York State history, more than 5,000 unit and soldier photographs, unit histories (some of this material is online), scrapbooks, letters, maps and more.


Free Databases | Military records | Museums
Tuesday, January 05, 2010 9:02:09 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, August 28, 2009
Genealogy News Corral: August 24-28
Posted by Diane

  • Hundreds of genealogists—your truly included—are packing their bags for the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Little Rock, Ark., Sept. 2 to 5. I’ll write more about the conference in a separate post next week, but in the mean time, you can check out the conference Web site and blog.
  • The National Archives’ marriage records (1815 to 1866) from the Virginia Field Office of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (Freedmen’s Bureau) have been digitized and are now available free at the FamilySearch record search pilot site.
  • Subscription genealogy Web site Ancestry.com and its related international sites will be down for scheduled maintenance for about three hours starting Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 1 a.m. Mountain Time. Portions of RootsWeb, Genealogy.com, MyFamily.com and FamilyTreeMaker.com—which live on Ancestry.com servers—also will be unavailable. 
  • Mark your calendars for National Museum Day Sept. 26, when hundreds of museums across the country will offer free general admission to you and a guest when you present a Museum Day admission card, downloadable from this site.
  • A Deerfield, Ill., documentarian has created a show called “The Legend Seekers,” which traces family legends of regular people. You can submit your family story at LegendSeekers.com, see others' stories and get research tips. Chicago-area residents can watch an episode on WTTW Channel 11 Aug. 30 at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. Aug. 31. (It’ll also run on WTTW Prime—Comcast Channel 243—at 9:30 p.m. Aug. 31, and 4:30 and 9:30 a.m. Sept. 1.)


African-American roots | Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Museums
Friday, August 28, 2009 11:20:36 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, July 31, 2009
Did Your Immigrant Ancestors Sail the Red Star Line?
Posted by Diane

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation folks sent us a note on behalf of a future museum in Antwerp, Belgium, about the history of the Red Star Line.

The Red Star Line was a steamship company that transported thousands of European immigrants across the Atlantic between 1873 and 1935. Museum organizers are looking for individual stories and original photos that'll bring personal history to the museum.

If you know or are a descendant from a person who sailed the Red Star Line from Antwerp to settle in the United States, please e-mail museum staff

The museum is slated to open in 2012, but the Web site is already up and running.

Read more about the Red Star Line, get a list of ships and see photos on RedStarLine.eu. You can view postcards of ships and 1908 menu cards here.

The Belgian Roots Project explains how Red Star Line was a trade name, not a corporation. Scroll down the linked page for a fleet list, then click a ship name for a list of voyages and links to free passenger lists, when available.


immigration records | International Genealogy | Museums
Friday, July 31, 2009 8:53:03 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Free Database of 5,000 York, UK, Prisoners
Posted by Diane

York Castle Prison museum in York, UK, has posted an online a database of 5,000 people who were held there or were victims of crimes, mostly during the 1700s.

The database, which isn’t comprehensive, includes:
  • Criminals sentenced to transportation to America, about 1705 to 1775
  • Criminals executed at York, about 1710 to 1899
  • Debtors who pleaded insolvency, about 1709 to 1813
You can download a fact sheet with details about the York prisoners database, how to search it and recommended resources (including a database of 123,000 convicts transported to Queensland, Australia).

The museum doesn’t have any original records on the prisoners, but the above-mentioned fact sheet tells you where to look for them.

On the York Castle Prison family history page, you can search the database for a name or keyword. You’ll learn the prisoner's name, date of imprisonment and source of the information, and perhaps a short synopsis of the crime (which may name the perpetrator's victims).

William the Conquerer built the original York Castle, which included a jail, in 1068. A county gaol and women’s prison were added in the 1700s; the whole castle was a prison from 1835 to 1929. Now it’s a museum with an interesting Web site that lets you explore the prison and introduces you to prisoners and keepers.

See our online article for more help tracing British criminals in your family tree.


Free Databases | Museums | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 8:35:56 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, July 17, 2009
Colonial Williamsburg and Other Places to Time Travel
Posted by Diane

My ancestors got here after Colonial days, but all the same I enjoyed an afternoon in Colonial Williamsburg earlier this week while visiting family.

The park covers 301 acres with 88 original buildings plus other reconstructed ones. I hadn’t realized Colonial Williamsburg isn’t an enclosed park—rather, it’s a historic part of the city of Williamsburg, Va., with streets closed to cars but otherwise publicly accessible. You can walk around outside and enter shops and restaurants for free; a pass gets you into the park’s other buildings (except private homes and offices) and exhibits.

On our whirlwind trip, we visited the courthouse


... apothecary


... blacksmith shop


... and the magazine and guardhouse, carpenter’s shop and gaol (jail). Exhibit  hours vary, and special programs happen daily at different times and places, so if you’re planning a visit, check the online calendar.

You can see our ancestors’ world at living history centers around the country, such as Old World Wisconsin, Ohio Village, Old Sturbridge Village  in Massachusetts and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City.

Find more museums here or run a Google search on “living history” and the city, county or state you’re interested in.

Celebrating your heritage | Historic preservation | Museums
Friday, July 17, 2009 10:39:10 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, July 09, 2009
Fee-Free Weekends at Historic Parks
Posted by Diane

Want to immerse yourself in history but still save a few bucks this summer? Plan to visit a national park on one of these two entrance fee-free weekends:
  • July 18-19
  • August 15-16
You've got more than 100 parks to choose from, including Georgia’s forts Pulaski and Frederica, Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Indiana, Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in New Mexico, and Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming.

Learn more about National Park Service fee-free weekends here.


Celebrating your heritage | Museums | Social History
Thursday, July 09, 2009 2:01:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Ellis Island Hosts Stars, Expands Museum
Posted by Diane

Our lucky New York-based colleague Guy LeCharles Gonzalez attended the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards yesterday. He got the scoop on the latest Ellis Island exhibits and rubbed elbows with the stars (well, at least he was in the same room).

Here’s Guy’s report:

Emilio and Gloria Estefan (below) accepted the inaugural B.C. Forbes Peopling of America Award in a star-studded 8th Annual Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards ceremony yesterday, hosted by actress Candice Bergen in the historic Great Hall on Ellis Island.



The awards celebrate the lives and work of individuals who immigrated to America and their descendants; with the Forbes honor going to those who arrived through a port other than Ellis Island. It reminds us that America continues to be the destination for those seeking freedom, hope and opportunity.

Accepting the award alongside her husband, musician Gloria Estefan noted the common denominator shared with the day’s other honorees—Joe Namath, Eric Kandel and Jerry Seinfeld—that no matter where they or their families had come from, or when, they all sought to escape some form of tyranny. In America, they’d found a home where they could live freely and pursue their dreams.

Sponsored by the Forbes family in honor of patriarch B.C. "Bertie" Forbes, the Peopling of America award is also named for the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation's newest project: the Peopling of America Center.  

The center will expand the Ellis Island Immigration Museum to include the entire panorama of the American immigrant experience—from native American groups to today's New Americans, whose numbers are growing exponentially.

The new center is an ambitious $20 million effort to make Ellis Island even more compelling and relevant for the coming decades, with the goal of telling all of our stories about being and becoming Americans.

Its precursor, the Peopling of America exhibit, is in the Great Hall's former Railroad Ticket Office, where immigrants could make travel arrangements to their final destinations in the United States. Several displays visually chronicle the more than 60 million people who’ve come to the United States, voluntarily and by force, since 1600.

This map details sources and destinations of the Atlantic slave trade:



This exhibit compares immigration (blue arrows) to emigration (red arrows) by decade:



Other displays include an interactive Map of Diversity, which can show the number of people in each state who claim a certain race or ancestry (based on US census data); maps and charts of historical immigration patterns; and the American Flag of Faces, a "living and interactive exhibit" to which anyone can add a photo (names and captions are searchable online).

See more photos of the ceremony and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum here.


Celebrating your heritage | immigration records | Museums | Social History
Wednesday, May 20, 2009 11:16:27 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Sunday, July 06, 2008
Iowa's Libraries and Museums Assess Flood Damage
Posted by Diane

Freelance writer Dana Schmidt, of Ames, Iowa (you may remember her as a former Family Tree Magazine staffer), sent us this report about how the recent recording-setting floods have impacted libraries in her state:

Now that it’s been a couple weeks since rivers flooded parts of Iowa, we’re beginning to get a clearer picture of how devastating damages are in some libraries, and how other libraries escaped the worst.

In hard-hit Cedar Rapids, where the Cedar River crested at about 31 feet—nearly 20 feet over flood stage, beating the former high set in June 1851—nearly 5 feet of water submerged theground floor of the Cedar Rapids Public Library. According to a State Library of Iowa report, floodwaters rose three bookshelves high and humid conditions have contributed to the loss of the library’s entire adult book collection. The Cedar Rapids Gazette also reports magazines, journals and reference books, which were housed on the ground floor, are likely ruined, and the library may remain closed for a year

The Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids also suffered. Ten feet of water surrounded the building and rose to the ceiling inside. According to the state library, about 20 percent of the museum’s artifacts were removed before the flood, but little of the remaining collection will be salvageable. Museum staff continues to update the Web site with recover news.

Inside Iowa’s New Hartford Public Library (near Waterloo), 18 inches of water covered the floor; it’s expected the building will need to be gutted. The library lost 82 percent of its collection.

In Iowa City, the University of Iowa’s Main Library managed to keep its collection dry, despite basement flooding. Cedar Rapids’ African-American Museum also was affected, but more than 90 percent of its collection is expected to survive. The museum's online flood timeline tells about the museum’s collection preservation efforts.

Do you live in Iowa? click Comments (below) to tell us what you saw.


Libraries and Archives | Museums
Sunday, July 06, 2008 4:42:59 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, June 06, 2008
48 Hours in Washington, DC
Posted by Grace

While planning a trip to our nation's capital to see friends, I focused mainly on coordinating schedules and figuring out where to eat. But the day I left, I suddenly got really excited about all the museums there are in the District.

Although 48 hours doesn't give you a lot of time to explore, I managed to spend time in two great museums: the Newseum and the National Portrait Gallery.

The Newseum, a museum dedicated to the history of news and journalism, just opened its impressive new building at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. in April. That's the First Amendment inscribed into the front of the building.

Its six levels are packed with interactive exhibits and small theaters. My friends and I spent about four hours looking at everything, but I could have spent another day there easily. Especially in the area full of historical front pages (as seen at right). Declarations of war, unthinkable events and tragic assassinations are displayed alongside incredible achievements, joyous milestones and other turning points in our world's history.

The same hall is lined with mini-exhibits of various aspects of journalism, such as the contributions of black Americans, women and others to the field, and the changing face of the news business. (The Palm Pilot of blogger Jim Romenesko is on display, for example.)

The section devoted to coverage of Sept. 11, 2001, was also really impressive. What looks like a sculpture is a twisted chunk of the radio tower formerly atop the World Trade Center. The walls are lined by front pages from Sept. 12, and videos show news coverage from the day.

Although journalism nerds like myself will probably appreciate the Newseum most, anyone with a taste for history will enjoy spending a few hours there.

The National Portrait Gallery is an absolute powerhouse and a must-see museum even if you're not well-versed in art history. With free admission, there's no reason not to stop in when you're in Washington. The newly reopened atrium (above) is pleasantly cool and quiet even on sweltering summer days.

One big highlight of the collection is the permanent "America's Presidents" gallery. My personal favorite was Norman Rockwell's depiction of Richard Nixon. And it's interesting to see John F. Kennedy's portrait is the only openly abstract painting in the bunch.

It's incredible to think the building, which originally housed the US Patent Office, was almost demolished in the mid-1900s. Its endless corridors and galleries are absolutely gorgeous, and the art it contains is a true national treasure.

If I'd had a little more time to spend in DC, I would have visited the National Archives, Cooper-Hewitt and the Natural History Museum. Next time!

Museums | Social History
Friday, June 06, 2008 9:42:52 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Haunting Holocaust Albums Online
Posted by Grace

Tracing the Tribe pointed us in the direction of a US Holocaust Memorial Museum online exhibit of haunting scrapbooks from the Auschwitz concentration camp complex. Very few photos of Auschwitz during wartime exist, and what makes these even rarer is the subject matter.

"Auschwitz through the lens of the SS" shows the Nazi leadership's daily life at the camp: eating blueberries, dancing to accordion music and taking day trips to recreation areas. The scrapbook, donated to the museum last January, was likely created by SS-Obersturmführer Karl Höcker, was stationed at Auschwitz from May 1944 until January 1945.

One section of the online exhibit compares the SS-centric album with the only other known album from Auschwitz, which contains haunting photos of prisoners. Höcker's album contains no pictures of prisoners at all.

On a somewhat related note, I saw "The Counterfeiters" recently, which is a fictionalized retelling of Operation Bernhard. The Nazis used prisoners at Sachsenhausen to forge British banknotes, eventually producing nearly 9 million of them. The movie, which won Best Foreign Film at this year's Oscars, takes some liberties but is really interesting. Read more about Operation Bernhard here.

Update: Click Comments for the Tracing the Tribe blogger's news about Yad Vashem's May 1 online photo archives debut.

Museums | Social History
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 9:37:49 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, March 21, 2008
Smithsonian Develops Photo Initiative
Posted by Grace

The Smithsonian possesses more than 13 million images in 19 museums and 700 collections, organized by discipline. In the past, it's been difficult for researchers—and even curators—to know where all the images pertinent to a topic might be found.

The Smithsonian Photography Initiative aims to change all that, making the institute's massive collection accessible for the general public and inviting history fans to get involved.

One facet of the initiative, click! photography changes everything, is a repository of essays on how the medium has altered the world we live in. Right now, 100 experts' musings can be found on the site; in the fall, click! will invite the public to submit images and comments. (Click here to read about our Photo Detective Maureen Taylor's translation of her own grandmother's wedding portrait and how it changed her perception of Nana from a static portrait to a living woman.)

Enter the Frame encourages Web site visitors to "tag" Smithsonian photographs to make them more easily searchable. When you tag a photo, you apply keywords that describe the image. This could include dates, locations, seasons, topics, descriptions of people in the photo, objects in the photo, etc. For example, the photo at right (from our Photo Detective blog) might get tagged with mourning, black dress, woman, gloves, seated, veil and hat.

Click here to see a list of all the Smithsonian Photography Initiative projects, including click! photography changes everything and Enter the Frame. You can read more about the benefits of tagging in Family Tree Magazine's May 2008 Toolkit article "Tagging Along."

Historic preservation | Libraries and Archives | Museums | Social History
Friday, March 21, 2008 3:29:47 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Online exhibit reveals lives left behind
Posted by Grace

Until the 1960s, being institutionalized for psychiatric reasons was often a life sentence. Willard Asylum in Upstate New York, which opened in 1869, housed more than 50,000 patients during its operation, and nearly half of those died there.

After Willard Psychiatric Center, as it was later named, closed in 1995, staffers found hundreds of abandoned suitcases and trunks belonging to former residents. A state museum curator arranged to have the trove of trunks and artifacts moved to a warehouse, where Darby Penney and Peter Stastny encountered them in 1999. Along with a photographer, they selected a few of the suitcase owners to research, and the results became a major New York State Archives exhibit, now available to view online at www.suitcaseexhibit.org.

Using the contents of the trunks, including photographs, immigration papers, newspaper clippings and other ephemera, as starting points, Penney and Stastny were able to create comprehensive biographies of nine suitcase owners, which you can read on the Suitcase Exhibit Web site. The profiles are deeply moving. Many of the stories of how the suitcase owners came to be institutionalized are shocking. One patient was committed because her employers described her as "odd, tactless and domineering."

"The Lives They Left Behind" exhibit is on display through Jan. 31, 2008, at the Science, Industry and Business Library in New York City. Visit the library’s Web site for more information. (The exhibit travels to Auburn, NY, and Flint, Mich., next year. Visit the Suitcase Exhibit Web site for details.) The accompanying book, The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases From a State Hospital Attic, is being released in January.

P.S.: If you have an ancestor who was institutionalized, you might find our Now What? Blog post on finding records from state hospitals useful.


Museums | Social History
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 3:24:02 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, November 26, 2007
Museum Displays Hair Mementos
Posted by Diane

Happy Thanksgiving! Over the holiday I got a whole bunch of hair cut off and mailed it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which makes wigs for women undergoing chemotherapy.

If I were around a couple of centuries or so ago, I would’ve used the hair to create mementos for loved ones. In this once-popular practice, women wove locks into elaborate wreaths and jewelry, sometimes with beads, embroidery floss and photographs.

You can see more than 400 hair wreaths and 2,000 pieces of hairwork jewelry (rings, bracelets, watch chains, brooches, etc.) at a museum in two rooms of an Independence, Mo., cosmetology school. Read more about it in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Photo Detective blogger Maureen A. Taylor says hair was a common remembrance of friends and deceased relatives. In the August 2002 Family Tree Magazine, she wrote about the 19th-cetury hair clipping-and-autograph album belonging to Helen Marion Adams of Fairhaven, Vt. “Very simply, hair does not decompose; thus the friendship lasts beyond the grave,” Taylor says.

People can get creeped out by the thought of hair locks separated from their owner. The hair museum’s owner says some visitors can’t complete their tours.

I’m not sentimental about my own trimmed ponytails, but keeping hair for a memento doesn’t seem odd to me. As a baby, my dad had beautiful curls my grandma couldn’t bear to cut. When my grandfather finally prodded her into it, she saved every last curl in a shoebox we still have.


Museums | Social History
Monday, November 26, 2007 11:20:30 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]