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# Friday, January 23, 2009
News from NewEnglandAncestors.org
Posted by Diane

We’ve gotten a few news items from the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), whose Web site is NewEnglandAncestors.org:
The Nutmegger database will be released in stages, starting this week with issues from 1968 to 1973. Members of both organizations’ Web sites can search them.
  • Last, NEHGS did some math and announced it added 5 million names to the site last year, including a million Massachusetts records and more than 3 million Social Security Death Index records.
In 2009, Web site database development coordinator Sam Sturgis is shooting for one or two databases every week.

Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, January 23, 2009 12:24:36 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
My Ancestral Homes Tour
Posted by Diane

This past Christmas Eve, my mom took me on a tour of the houses where her family lived just across the Ohio River in Bellevue, Ky.

It included my great-grandma Mamie’s home—an old photo made it into a book on Bellevue by Arcadia publishing. Google Book Search does it again:



The house my mom’s dad built on the same street has burned down, but Mom showed me where she babysat and where her best friend lived. A grocery store down the street is now a house. Mom said she’d stop after school, pick out what Grandma needed for dinner, and add it to the family's tab (try that at Super Target).

My Great-grandma and Great–grandpa Frost’s first home looks a lot smaller now than in this photo from around 1925 (Family Tree Magazine readers might remember the picture from our September 2008 house history research guide.)



I remember the house below (Google Maps does it again), situated right by the railroad tracks, where the same great-grandparents lived in their later years.



At Christmas, the whole family—their five kids, at least a dozen grandkids and several of us great-grandkids—would all squeeze inside. Some of those great-aunts and -uncles and second cousins I haven't seen since Christmases at Great-grandma's.

It's neat to be able to visit your ancestral homes in person, but you may not have to drive around to see them. Check out what a FamilyTreeMagazine.com Forum member did with Google Maps.

Celebrating your heritage | Research Tips
Friday, January 23, 2009 10:44:24 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 22, 2009
New Site Helps You Plan Heritage Travel
Posted by Diane

Are you hoping to one day see where your ancestors lived and walk where they walked?

Heritage Travel, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has pre-launched a Web site called GoWithAPurpose.com, focused on heritage travel.

Registered users will be able to post travel reviews, stories and photos—or, if all you can do in these times is live vicariously through others' experiences, you can read their posts and dream about your own trip.

Registration is free. (Funny, the list of interests registrants can choose from doesn’t include "genealogy" or "family history.")

Early-bird registrants also can “participate in an exclusive pre-launch recognition program, and receive special, insider-only benefits.” Advertising and historic tourism organizations will help fund the site.


Celebrating your heritage
Thursday, January 22, 2009 8:12:54 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Free Database: San Francisco Mortuary Records
Posted by Diane

Mortuary records are among genealogy’s overlooked resources, and can provide new details about an ancestor’s death.

Those with San Francisco roots have a free, convenient way to access that city’s mortuary records thanks to an SFgenealogy.com indexing project.

Webmasters Pamela Storm and Ron Filion, announced that their 60 volunteers have completed the first phase of indexing the Halsted Mortuary Records database.

The database includes digitized images of 45,000-plus mortuary records dating from 1923 to 1960, along with an index. (Earlier records are still being processed; later records are being indexed.)

You can search on name and date of death. For the surname, you can choose from search options including Soundex, Metaphone, Double Metaphone and NYSIIS. Read more about these on SFGenealogy.

Here's a shot of a record view page:



According to the webmasters, the Halsted mortuary was one of the oldest and largest in the City by the Bay. Some of its records include re-interments and military burials.

Free Databases | Vital Records
Wednesday, January 21, 2009 9:08:16 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Morphing the Presidents
Posted by Diane

If you want to see a cool blend of technology and history—or you want to remind yourself what Millard Fillmore looks like—watch this video.

It's kind of a visual representation of the transfer of power: The video seamlessly “morphs” images of the 44 presidents from George Washington all the way up to Barack Obama.  It's set to “Boléro” by Maurice Ravel.



Videos
Tuesday, January 20, 2009 12:43:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Monday, January 19, 2009
Do You Know Your Inaugural History? Take Our Quiz!
Posted by Diane

In honor of tomorrow’s presidential inauguration, we’ve set up a a little quiz to test your knowledge of inaugural history trivia.

After you’re through, click Submit to access the answers on our Web site.

Click here to quiz yourself.


Genealogy fun
Monday, January 19, 2009 1:26:46 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
Climbing Down Santa's Tree
Posted by Grace



Cryptozoologists (people who study animals whose existence has not been proven) have traced the evolution of Santa Claus back to his ur-grandfather, Wildman. Santa Claus belongs to the Winterman branch of the family; Reindeer come from the Myth branch; Snow Queens and Elves are two branches of the Folklore crew. Click here to see the whole family tree.

Celebrity Roots | Genealogy fun
Monday, January 19, 2009 1:14:25 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wrapping Up Our Look Inside Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane

If you haven’t already read our series of behind-the-scenes posts about Ancestry.com, here are the links:
Over at the Genealogy Blog, Leland Meitzler created links to posts from all the blogger day attendees.

Clearly, the day was designed to communicate a specific impression: one of a personable, open company. And despite Ancestry.com’s reputation in some circles as a big, bad corporate monster, I gotta say, the Ancestry.com people we met seemed to genuinely care about preserving historical records and making it easier for customers to research family history. They listened thoughtfully to the suggestions of folks in our group, answered questions honestly and were frank about saying when the company has messed up.

So the goal for the day was accomplished. Now to see whether Ancestry.com delivers on the objectives that surfaced in all the presentations we saw. Here’s what to look for:
  • More new content and improved current content (for example, more accurate US census indexes and better images)
  • Technological improvements to both give you better search results and facilitate easier collaboration between users
  • More listening to customers
  • Marketing efforts focused on expanding the customer base and promoting the World Archives Project

  • Consumer education about how to do genealogy beyond using what's on Ancestry.com
  • A happier Family Tree Maker user experience with updates including templates for various types of sources, the return of book building and new report formats

Ancestry.com
Thursday, January 15, 2009 8:29:08 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Closures Next Week at DC Repositories
Posted by Diane

A reminder if you're planning on doing genealogy research in the Washington, DC, area next week: Some repositories will close or change their hours on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 19, a federal holiday) or Inauguration Day (Tuesday, Jan. 20), or both.

For example, all National Archives and Records Administration research rooms will be closed Monday; Washington, DC-area research rooms also are closed Tuesday (but the museum will stay open). The Daughters of the American Revolution Library will close both days.

Call ahead to ask about special hours at the repository you plan to visit. Check Inauguration Day road and bridge closures, too.


Libraries and Archives
Wednesday, January 14, 2009 8:45:10 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Me vs. Court Records at the Family History Library
Posted by Diane

I got into it with some court records during last Saturday’s Family History Library research match. When the final bell rang, the judges put their heads together for a few minutes and declared the score … a tie.

Out of the two cases I was looking for, a criminal trial and a divorce petition, I found the petition.

After much scrolling of microfilm, I located both cases listed in a handwritten index (in multiple indexes, in fact, which was a bit confusing). In a roll of district court minutes, I learned the divorce was transferred to a special district court.

The special district minutes, on a different roll of microfilm, reported the case was dismissed with court costs to be paid by the plaintiff, my great-grandmother (that made me chuckle—she was destitute; I doubt they ever got their money), but didn’t say why.

On yet another roll of film, I scored a pretty good hit: The case file held the divorce petition with my great-grandmother’s accusations against her husband, as well as a court order for the sheriff to serve him. He’d pled guilty to violating local liquor laws and was a guest of the state penitentiary at the time.

His case was even more challenging. The index gave a minute book number and a page number, but neither seemed to match up with the content on any roll of the FHL’s court records microfilm for the county. The trial was in June 1913, yet the case file number in the index corresponded to cases in the 1880s, long before my great-grandfather was in the country.

On the recommendation of the information desk consultant, I checked the 1880s case file film to see if a long-ago court clerk had misfiled the records. A batch of files that would’ve included my great-grandfather’s case file number was missing. There must’ve been a blip in the numbering system at some point.

Then I scrolled through the case papers for 1913—maybe the indexer wrote down the wrong number. Nothing.

The consultant pointed out that keeping track of the papers a court action generated over a stretch of time was particularly difficult before computers. And of course it’s possible the records escaped microfilming or are just gone.

I once requested my great-grandfather’s case records from the county court, but at that time all I knew was the date, not the information from the index, and my letter was returned with the note “found nothing.” Now, having spent hours glued to a microfilm reader getting nauseous from the whirring images, I hope my request didn’t cost the clerk half a day’s work.

I’ll probably risk the clerk’s ire and send another, very polite, request for a search, along with a photocopy of the index page.


court records | Family Tree Firsts | FamilySearch
Wednesday, January 14, 2009 8:02:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]