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# Monday, August 13, 2007
Holocaust records on the way
Posted by Grace

Next week, the first batch of digital copies of a major trove of Holocaust-era documents will be transferred to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

Allied forces discovered the files at the end of World War II, and they spent the next 60 years stashed away at the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany.

The museum says on its Web site the first installment includes 13.5 million pages, including records of camps, transportation, ghettos and arrest records. Later in the fall, the nearly 40 million index cards containing 17.5 million names will arrive.

Unfortunately, the archive won't be searchable online, but the museum plans to create a database that will let its own archivists quickly respond to your requests for information. When that database is up (watch the museum Web site for an announcement), queries from Holocaust survivors or on behalf of survivors will have priority.

Looking to explore your Jewish roots? Read more in the August 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine, which you can order here. And check out Tracing the Tribe, a blog all about Jewish genealogy.


Libraries and Archives | Public Records
Monday, August 13, 2007 5:14:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, August 10, 2007
Calendar Proverbs
Posted by Diane

In earlier times, calendar-based sayings helped shape people’s lives. Family Tree Magazine author Nick D’Alto, who put together an article about online calendar tools for your genealogy research (look for his advice in the November 2007 issue, on newsstands Sept. 11), found a few:

Household Chores

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Churn on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday.

The Little House Cookbook, which has recipes and background from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series, explains the logic behind the chore schedule: Clean on Friday and bake on Saturday to have a neat house and fresh bread for Sunday, on Monday you wash the dust and flour off your clothes (and do this hard work after a day of rest), then iron and mend the now-clean attire.

When to Marry
Monday for wealth,
Tuesday for health,
Wednesday best day of all,
Thursday for losses,
Friday for crosses,
Saturday, no luck at all.

Birthdays
Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But a child born on Sabbath-day
Is always bonny good and gay.

I was born on a Sunday, so I suppose that bodes well. Do you know another calendar-based rhyme? Click Comment to share it.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Social History
Friday, August 10, 2007 3:12:48 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Immortalize Yourself Online
Posted by Diane

If you’re like most of us, you think your life story is nothing special. You know what? Your ancestors thought the same thing of themselves, yet 100 or 300 years later, here you are, doggedly seeking every last detail about their lives. 

Maybe your story isn’t the next New York Times bestseller, but one day your descendants will find it fascinating.

Posting it permanently online is one way to make sure they can get a hold of it (and read your version of events). That's the idea behind StoryofMyLife.com, a beta Web site from Eravita, Inc.

Once you register, you write a story and upload your main photo. You can add to the story, add multimedia files and keep an online journal. Anyone can view your pages unless you make them private or place them in a “time capsule” for later release. Family members’ stories are linked.

StoryofMyLife.com is free for active accounts. After six months of inactivity, the site spends three months attempting to contact the account manager for the $1-per-megabyte “Forever Space" fee. Without payment, the story may be removed.

A user can purchase Forever Space at any time, though, to avoid posthumously sticking relatives with the decision to pay up or doom his opus to deletion.

The nonprofit Story of My Life Foundation gets part of the proceeds to use for keeping stories accessible and technologically current, and making grants to gather stories of people otherwise unable to tell them.


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 8:40:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, August 07, 2007
HistoryKat Adds To Its US Postal Records
Posted by Diane

Do you suspect your ancestor was a mail carrier or other US Postal Service employee? Or maybe he committed mail fraud?

If so, a visit to HistoryKat may be in order. New postal records include:
  • index to railway postal clerks (1883 to 1902)
  • index to postal law violators
  • “first returns” listing postmaster appointees (1789 to 1832)
  • separation cards of terminated letter carriers (1863 to 1899)
  • records of substitute clerks (1899 to 1905) and mail carriers (1899 to 1903)
  • ... and more
Soon to come: postmaster appointments (1832 to 1971) and departmental reports (1837 to 1950). These postal records are hard to come by online.

HistoryKat (brought to you by the same folks who run the Genealogy Toolbox Web portal and TreEZy genealogy search engine) also has records of other government employees, the military, and selected state and territorial censuses. Subscriptions cost $24.95 per year.


Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, August 07, 2007 10:21:26 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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]