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# Friday, August 03, 2007
Faster, Better Web Searching for Your Ancestors
Posted by Diane

The following tips will help you target your online ancestor searches. Try them out on our 2007 list of the 101 Best Web Sites for Genealogy—you’ll find these sites in the September 2007 Family Tree Magazine and on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

Take a minute to read a site's search instructions. They reveal tricks such as omitting a given name or including wildcards. In Ancestry.com’s Exact Matches census searches, for instance, a * after three or more letters of a name represents up to six characters.

Use Boolean operators such as + and - to focus search-engine queries: “tom + clancy -hunt” would help weed out results for the author of The Hunt for Red October, who doesn’t happen to be your great-uncle Tom.

Use search engines to find information on a particular Web site. So to locate FamilyTreeMagazine.com’s advice on researching riverboat passengers, you could go to Google and type in riverboat site:familytreemagazine.com. (Note this technique won’t find people in online databases—but see our next tip.) PS: The riverboat advice is on our Now What blog.

• Database searches call up your ancestor’s record only if an indexer entered the same information you’re searching on—so try different approaches. Start by entering all you know about the person. If you don’t get results, search with fewer terms and combinations of terms (such as the person’s name and residence, or his name and birthplace).

Seek alternate name spellings. Check the search tips to see whether a search automatically looks for similar names. Even if it does, try odd spellings: A census taker or an indexer might’ve interpreted the name so outlandishly that a “sounds like” search wouldn’t pick up on it.

• On Web sites with multiple databases, search individual databases one at a time. Those customized search engines often include fields you won’t get with the site’s global search.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Friday, August 03, 2007 12:09:47 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, August 02, 2007
Allen County Library Records To Be Digitized
Posted by Diane

The subscription and pay-per-view records service Footnote.com announced it will digitize records in the Allen County Public Library's genealogy collection. That library, located in Fort Wayne, Ind., has the largest public genealogy collection in the United States.
 
The digitized records will be available free at the library and for a fee on Footnote. (We’ll let you know when we learn which records are up first, and when you’ll be able to access them online.)
 
Footnote has been around since 1997 (it was called iArchives), but made its splash on the genealogy scene early this year, when it announced a partnership to digitize records at the National Archives and Records Administration. It also has agreements with the Pennsylvania state archives, FamilySearch and other repositories.

Update: I spoke yesterday with Footnote's Justin Schroepfer, who said the Allen County Library staff is deciding which records to start digitizing—so of course, he doesn't yet know when you'll see the first images online. Stay tuned. 

A Footnote subscription costs $7.95 per month or $59.95 per year, or you can pay to view an individual record image for $1.95. The site offers a few free databases, including UFO reports.


Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Thursday, August 02, 2007 4:55:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Free Program Searches Google for Surname Variations
Posted by Diane

Family Tree Magazine author Rick Crume tried out a new, free download for your online genealogy searches. Here's his report:

Whenever you discover a new branch on your family tree, you probably head straight to Google for a surname search. You may meet with success, but you could miss out on a discovery if you don’t carefully word your query and consider alternate surname spellings.

So Matt Combs, a North Carolina software developer and genealogy aficionado, has targeted both problems with a new free program for Windows called Surname Suggestion List.

I downloaded the program and typed in my last name—Crume—and then clicked Search. The program produced 45 name variations in three groups: excellent matches, such as Crume, Crum and Crome; close matches, like Crom, Krum and Groome; and longshots, including Croom and Krom.
 
I clicked on Crume and hit the Google Search button. The program searched Google for Crume and genealogy, producing 9,350 matches, several with extensive genealogical information. Adding more search terms, such as a first name or a place, whittles the matches to the most relevant sites. I added Bardstown, that family’s Kentucky hometown, and got 113 matches.

To broaden your Surname Suggestion List search, click the Wider Search button. Then the program searches on ~genealogy, which finds genealogy plus synonyms such as family tree. You also can search on a range of years, but I found that option less useful.

You could go directly to Google and search for a last name and genealogy, but the Surname Suggestion List comes up with alternate spellings you might not have thought to check. I’ve come across Crum and Croom in old documents, but I hadn’t considered variations such as Crom, Krum and Groome.

Of course, Surname Suggestion List doesn’t necessarily cover every possibility. (In this case, it didn’t suggest Croome or Groom.) And it'd be nice if you could search on more than one name at a time. Still, the program is a very handy tool for Googling your ancestors.
—Rick Crume


Genealogy Software | Research Tips
Tuesday, July 31, 2007 4:15:36 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, July 30, 2007
Search Lower Canada Land Petitions Free Online
Posted by Diane

A new Library and Archives Canada land petition database can help you find ancestors who lived in Lower Canada (where present-day Quebec is) between 1764 and 1841.

When New France became a British colony in 1763, the land-distribution system changed. New lands were now granted as part of townships instead of as seigneuries (the term for land the Crown granted to landlords, who in turn leased it to settlers).

With the change, many settlers submitted land petitions to the governor. The Lower Canada Land Petitions database indexes their petitions for grants or leases of land, as well as other administrative records. The site contains more than 95,000 references to individuals.

Search it by surname and given name. Try spelling variations and surname-only searches, since there’s no Soundex searching.

Some records are linked to digitized images, but in most cases, matches show a year, volume and page number of the original record, and a microfilm number. Use the information to request microfilm copies from the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec (Quebec national archives).

You can access the Canadian national archives' Lower Canada Land Petitions and other databases from the Canadian Genealogy Centre Web site.


Canadian roots | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Monday, July 30, 2007 8:34:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, July 27, 2007
Funny Census Entries From Readers
Posted by Diane

We got a kick out of the funny census listings Family Tree Magazine readers submitted for the September 2007 All in the Family column. I wish we had enough space to print them all in the magazine.

But there's plenty of space here, so I offer these additional humorous census entries to brighten up your Friday (to submit ancestral look-alikes to the current All in the Family contest, see the Talk to Us Forum): 

Boy/girl
Madison P. Glenn was born in February 1869, in Van Wert County, Ohio. Madison was 4 months old when the census enumerator visited and marked column 5 (for sex) as F/M.

Madison’s gender must have been a mystery to the parents Clark and Elizabeth Glenn, to my fourth-great-uncle and -aunt, or to the neighbor who might’ve helped complete the form. Since Madison isn’t listed in any later censuses, we never did find out how things developed.
Cherie P. Bowers
Byron, Mich.


Size-wise
My favorite census entry exhibits the creativity enumerators used when families weren't at home. I can't help but wonder, what if this family had had 10 children? What if they’d been Irish or Italian? What would the enumerator have come up with instead? From the 1889 Washington Territorial census:

Name of Persons          Nativity
Dutchman, Mr.            Germany
------- , Mrs.                   "
------- , Little                  "
------- , Small                 "
------- , Smaller              "
------- , Smallest             "
Lisa Oberg
Shoreline, Wash.


Another gender-bender
My grandmother's family of nine siblings was known for playing jokes on each other. Once, my great-uncle Llewellyn Brown (born 1882) was lampooned in a formal manner. In the 1901 Canadian census, I found Loouella instead of Llewellyn. I thought it might've been a spelling error, but he was also listed as dtr. My guess is Llewellyn’s sisters were less interested in the accuracy of the official census than in perpetuating another round of family humor.
Marie Tovell Walker
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Was her mother named Goose?
The funniest name I've come across in the census is a woman named Bo Peep, listed in the 1910 census of Harrison County, WV, with her husband Lee Maxwell. I did a little further research and sure enough, there she was in a West Virginia marriage index: Bo Peep K. Smith. Her husband was a farmer; I wonder if he raised sheep?
Maggie DeFazio
Pittsburgh, Pa.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Friday, July 27, 2007 10:44:39 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Search Online Mortality Schedules for Free
Posted by Diane

Bill Cribbs, the man behind the GenealogyBuff.com free genealogy search engine site, has gathered hundreds of counties’ online transcribed mortality schedules and made them searchable at MortalitySchedules.com.

For the 1850 through 1880 US censuses, enumerators recorded names of and other details about people who’d died within the past year. These mortality schedules may be the only death record for some people, especially in states that didn’t require recording of deaths until later.

You can browse MortalitySchedules.com by state or search on one or more keywords, such as a name or place. (If you want matches to contain more than one keyword, select “Find all words” from the dropdown menu.)

When you click on a match, you'll be taken to the Web site that stores the transcribed records. What you see varies depending how the data was transcribed and digitized.

You may get a chart or a text file listing a few details of deaths in that enumeration district, or you may get the whole shebang: the deceased’s age and marital status at death; death date, place and cause; birth date and place; physician’s name; parents’ birthplaces and more.

This 1880 schedule is on one of the chock-full-of-data library Web sites recommended in the September 2007 Family Tree Magazine Indiana State Research Guide:


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Tuesday, July 24, 2007 2:49:08 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, July 23, 2007
NYG&B Update: Member Voting Eliminated
Posted by Diane

At the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society’s (NYG&B) July 19 meeting, a proposal to change the bylaws to eliminate member voting passed. The tally was 1,401 in favor to 227 opposed.

Decision-making authority now rests with the nonprofit’s 15-member board of trustees. Read our coverage of the controversial proposal and NYG&B chairman Waddell Stillman’s comments.

We’ve heard (but haven’t confirmed) that several members may file a class action lawsuit and/or ask the New York attorney general to investigate the vote, based on member assertions they didn’t receive proxy ballots in the mail.

The contentious meeting (read an eyewitness account from attendee and proposal opponent Dick Hillenbrand) shed no light on the board’s plans for the society’s library and other assets. A synogogue recently purchased the NYG&B headquarters and will lease space to the society for two years.


Genealogy societies
Monday, July 23, 2007 9:31:24 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, July 20, 2007
Traditional Recipes: Burgoo, Anyone?
Posted by Diane

Our Family Tree Magazine coworker Kathy, who has deep roots across the Ohio River in Kentucky, is yawning from a weekend preparing burgoo for the family reunion cookoff she dreamed up.

Burgoo is a big thing around here, but somehow I hadn’t heard of it. It’s a thick stew that's traditional in Kentucky, especially at church festivals. (This 1900 postcard shows group burgoo preparation.) It's even served at the Kentucky Derby alongside mint juleps.



The ingredients list spans the barnyard, with beef, chicken and pork. Vegetables include potatoes, corn and five kinds of beans; pickling spices and hot sauce are among the seasonings. The chef can substitute freely and toss in pretty much anything on hand, though, then cook it for a day or so.

Kathy’s recipe originally made 75 gallons. She cut it down but still ended up with enough for most of the tri-state area (and several lucky coworkers).

She had to do some research to adapt measures and cooking methods to modern times. For example, the recipe called for a “number 10 can” each of ketchup and tomatoes. A Google search gave the equivalent: 6 lbs, 6oz (that’s a lot of Heinz).

Apparently Kathy’s relatives got really excited about the cookoff. One family spent all Saturday together, some out back roasting meat and others inside peeling potatoes. (That clan won a ladle and bragging rights.)

A little good-natured cooking competition can spice up a ho-hum family reunion and beef up the family history element. Need help gathering and preparing old recipes? The December 2004 Family Tree Magazine features an article all about that, and FamilyTreeMagazine.com offers an excerpt plus a handy old-fashioned-to-new-fashioned measurement conversion guide.

And if you just have to make burgoo right now, here are some recipes.


Family Reunions | Family Tree Magazine articles
Friday, July 20, 2007 3:01:53 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, July 19, 2007
FamilySearch Adds Jewish Genealogy Resource Page
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has created a new page especially for people researching Jewish ancestors.

The page links to the new Knowles Collection, information genealogical author Isobel Mordy compiled on thousands of Jews from the British Isles. You can download the database as a GEDCOM to open and view in your genealogy software. FamilySearch staffers are adding to the database regularly.

Other resources include an updated Jewish genealogy research outline, a Jewish records guide and links to other Jewish research Web sites.


Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, July 19, 2007 8:31:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, July 18, 2007
New Group Aims to Keep Public Records Open
Posted by Diane

Five genealogists have started the Keep Genealogical Records Open Workgroup (KGROW). Their goal is to educate government officials and the public about the truth behind identity theft- and terror-related efforts to close public records.

“We find there’s no evidence that open public records contribute to identity theft or terrorism to any measurable degree," says KGROW co-chair Jean Foster Kelley.

Her statement echoes the December 2006 Family Tree Magazine special report on public records (available as a PDF file at www.familytreemagazine.com/dec06/publicrecords.pdf). Our research indicates public records pose little identity theft risk; the major culprits are stolen financial documents and corporate data breaches.

States have passed 616 record closure laws since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Now state public records laws must comply with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which could negatively impact your attempts to find relatives’ birth and death records. States can—but aren’t required to—make concessions for genealogical research.

KGROW, a project of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) Florida chapter, will prepare a position paper and solicit support from the APG, news media and other organizations.

For more on public records access, see Family Tree Magazine's December 2006 special report. If you know of a threat to records access in your state (such as excessive fee hikes or record restrictions and closures), inform your fellow researchers on the new FamilyTreeMagazine.com Public Records Alert Forum.


Public Records
Wednesday, July 18, 2007 1:54:25 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]