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# Friday, February 06, 2009
101 Best Web Sites: African-American Roots
Posted by Diane

In observance of Black History month, this week we’ll highlight Web sites from our “Best for African-American Researchers” category:
  • Lowcountry Africana: This free site focuses on records that document the heritage of African-Americans in the historic rice-growing areas of South Carolina, Georgia and northeastern Florida, home to the distinctive Gullah/Geechee culture. Records include those of the wealthy Drayton family, which owned several plantations, plus Freedmen's Bureau and Freedman's Bank papers.
See the rest of the 101 Best Web sites on FamilyTreeMagazine.com, or go right to the African-American roots sites.

See our African-American genealogy research toolkit here.


African-American roots | Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, February 06, 2009 1:55:06 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Logging Lincoln's Life
Posted by Diane

A plethora of parties are planned to honor the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth Feb. 12. (That’s also the 82nd anniversary of my grandma’s birth and the ninth anniversary of my nephew’s birth, so I’ll have to divvy up my celebrating.)
  • Go to the Lincoln Bicentennial Web site to find local observances, get facts on the 16th president’s life and download the text of his speeches and letters.
  • Historical records site Footnote is showcasing its Abraham Lincoln "person page" with a timeline, stories and digitized photos and articles (including a reward poster seeking assassin John Wilkes Booth and accomplices John H. Surrat and David C. Harold).  
Rumors persist that Thomas Lincoln wasn’t Abraham’s biological father. They’re addressed in Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes and Confabulations Associated With Our Greatest President by Edward Steers Jr. (University Press of Kentucky), available for preview through Google Books. Link to it from our Google library.
You may be a cousin and not know it—supposedly, Abraham Lincoln kept quiet about his family because he believed his mother was born out of wedlock. No one's found records to prove or disprove his suspicions. But maybe he didn't have to worry so much: the fact we're celebrating 200 years later shows actions speak louder than ancestry.

Celebrity Roots | Social History
Wednesday, February 04, 2009 3:48:09 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, February 02, 2009
Genealogical Lightning Strikes Twice
Posted by Grace

Diane wasn't the only one getting lucky with Footnote in the office today—I found my great-grandfather's naturalization papers in Footnote's Northern Ohio naturalizations collection!

My great-grandfather's witnesses on his petition for naturalization have opened up a few new avenues into discovering Wasyl's life. (I don't recognize either of the names.) I feel lucky to have found such a great photo of him—I only have one other—and a signature, to boot? Goldmine!



I had a little fun with Google Maps, too—it turns out that Diane's great-grandfather and my great-grandfather lived a mere 2 miles from each other on Cleveland's West Side around 1940. Maybe they once met!


Family Tree Firsts | Footnote | immigration records
Monday, February 02, 2009 3:45:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
New FamilySearch Records Span the Globe
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch (the folks behind the Family History Library and branch Family HIstory Centers) has added a bunch of records to its record search pilot—40 million, to be exact, since Jan. 5.

Most are international, among them birth, marriage, and death records for the Netherlands and Ireland. Here’s a list:
  • Argentina: 1869 national census
  • Canada: 1916 census of the prairie provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta)
  • Costa Rica: church records, 1595 to 1992
  • Germany: burials 1500 to 1900
  • Ireland: Civil registration indexes 1845 to1958
  • Mexico: Aguascalientes Catholic church records, 1616 to 1961
  • Netherlands: births and baptisms, marriages, and deaths and burials
  • Philippines: marriages
US additions include San Francisco-area funeral home records (1835 to 1931) and updates to the databases for the 1820, 1850 and 1880 federal censuses, as well as 1850 slave and mortality schedules.


FamilySearch | International Genealogy
Monday, February 02, 2009 1:43:05 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Naturalization Records Found—O Genealogy Joy!
Posted by Diane

My grandfather’s resume says his father was naturalized in 1944 in Cleveland. So a couple of years ago, I sent off a Freedom of Information Act request for those records to the Citizenship and Immigration Service. No dice.

Then when I noticed the subscription records site Footnote was posting citizenship papers from the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern District, I started eyeing the “percent completed” bar as it ticked upward.

Every once in awhile, I’d search. Still nothing. I wondered if my grandfather fibbed, thinking he’d have a better chance at a job if his dad were a citizen. (Grandpa made himself 10 years younger on the same resume.)

Friday I tried again. I clicked on a match, even though the first name was all wrong. And it was my great-grandfather! His address and birth date; his wife’s death information; and the kids’ names and birth dates confirmed it. Looks like his name in Syria was Fadlallah. I knew him only as Mike in US records—I guess if you're gonna Americanize your name, you might as well go all the way.

Best of all, his picture’s on the 1942 declaration of intention (also called “first papers”). I’d never seen him.



Also part of the file was an oath sworn by two associates and a 1944 petition for naturalization (“second papers”).

Naturalization papers state the immigrant’s date and port of arrival, and ship name (though I’m pretty sure my great-grandparents didn’t really sail on the SS Unknown). Now it’ll be a piece of cake, I thought, to find them on a passenger list.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Aside from getting creative with passenger list searching (I’m going to try Steve Morse’s Ellis Island One-Step Search), here are some things for follow-up:  
  • Naturalization papers give birthplaces for the applicant's children, so I'll look for birth records for my great-unces and great-aunt. 
  • The declaration of intention says my great-grandfather filed first papers in Cleveland in 1918—they would’ve expired without being followed up by second papers within seven years. I didn't find a 1918 record, so I'll look into what's going on with that.
  • Research the guys who swore oaths on my great-grandfather’s behalf.
See FamilyTreeMagazine.com for guidance on locating your ancestors' naturalization records.

Footnote's naturalization records collection is here.

Family Tree Firsts | Footnote | immigration records
Monday, February 02, 2009 9:42:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, January 30, 2009
More African-American Records Coming to Footnote
Posted by Diane

The subscription records site Footnote announced the launch of its Black History collection this week.

Records currently in the collection have been on Footnote for some time, but expect to see more soon as webmasters add new digitized records from the National Archives and Records Administration. The new records will be free during February, spokesperson Justin Schroepfer tells me.

Here’s what you can look forward to:
  • Records of the US District Court for the District of Columbia Relating to Slaves, 1851-1863: These include slave schedules, manumission papers and case papers relating to fugitive slaves.
  • Records for the Emancipation of Slaves in the District of Columbia, 1862-63: These meeting minutes, docket books and petitions pertain to slaves’ emancipation.

  • Registro Central de Esclavos 1872 (Slave Schedules): These registers of slaves in Puerto Rico list the enslaved person’s name, country of origin, name of parents, physical description and owner’s name.

  • Records Relating to the Suppression of the African Slave Trade and Negro Colonization, 1854-1872: These are letters, accounts and other documents.
  • Correspondence of the Military Intelligence Division (MID) Relation to "Negro Subversion," 1917-1941: These document the MID's monitoring of African-Americans involved in labor and other social movements.
The new records will join the Colored Troops service files, Amistad case files, Southern Claims Commission petitions and others already in the Black History collection. Some of these records (such as the Amistad case files) are free; others are available with a $69.95-per-year Footnote subscription.


African-American roots | Footnote
Friday, January 30, 2009 4:05:46 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 29, 2009
Ellis Island Hospital Documentary Airs in February
Posted by Diane

Forgotten Ellis Island, a documentary based on film producer Lorie Conway’s book of the same name about the immigrant hospital at America’s busiest port of arrival, is set to air on many PBS stations Feb. 2 at 10 p.m. (It'll air Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. in some places.)

See the Forgotten Ellis Island Web site and check local TV listings for updates. (The online schedule for our PBS affiliate let me set up an automatic e-mail reminder.)

I interviewed Conway for the November 2008 Family Tree Magazine, and the Ellis Island hospital is among my favorite topics I’ve covered. Conway shared photos and stories of immigrants treated there, revealing the hospital’s history and how the staff handled patients' varying cultures, languages and illnesses—while trying to balance a mission of humanity with a duty to protect the US population from diseases.

As mentioned in the November 2008 article, patient records are missing except a few documents scattered in other files.  The hospital buildings are under the care of Save Ellis Island and awaiting restoration.


Family Tree Magazine articles | immigration records | Social History
Thursday, January 29, 2009 11:42:11 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Reality Show Set for April Premiere
Posted by Diane

A genealogy-reality TV show-in-production we highlighted in the September 2008 Family Tree Magazine has a premiere date: April 20 at 8 p.m., according to the Hollywood Reporter. It'll air on Mondays.

Modeled after Britain’s successful “Who Do You Think You Are” series, the show will have professional genealogists tracing the roots of celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker and Susan Sarandon.

See a description on NBC’s Web site.

Celebrity Roots
Thursday, January 29, 2009 8:46:59 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Wednesday, January 28, 2009
We’re All Atwitter
Posted by Diane

… and by that I mean you can now follow Family Tree Magazine on Twitter

What’s Twitter, some of you might ask. It’s a free social network that lets people communicate via short messages (140 characters or fewer) called tweets.

Go here to see our Twitter page. Under “Following” on the right, click the icons to see Twitter pages we’re following.

To join Twitter, you first create a profile and search for others to follow. A genealogy search brings up bloggers, enthusiasts, libraries and publications, who tweet about news, their research, what they’re doing and random thoughts. When you log in to your profile, you can tweet and view the tweets of people you’re following.

This is just the basics. For more details, go to Twitter’s home page


Genealogy fun
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 11:40:03 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Winter Wonderland
Posted by Diane

It’s a wintry wonderland here at Family Tree Magazine HQ. We’ve seen it all in the past day and a half—snow, sleet, ice, freezing rain, weird little white pellets.

The office is closed in honor of this layer cake of winter precipitation. My car is a Corolla-shaped white lump, but the backyard looks lovely and Janie’s thrilled.


Genealogy fun
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 8:15:14 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]