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# Wednesday, February 11, 2009
ProQuest Expands Historical Periodical, Newspaper and Map Offerings
Posted by Diane

These news items come from ProQuest, which provides libraries with services such as ProQuest Historical Newspapers and HeritageQuest Online that are free to patrons.
  • ProQuest is getting together with the Center for Research Libraries (a consortium of 240 college, university and other libraries) to offer digital access to 3 million pages of US trade, special-interest and general periodicals from the 19th and 20th centuries. Magazines include American Annual of Photography, The Labor Journal, American Jewish Advocate and Woman’s Protest Against Woman Suffrage and others.
Even if these titles don’t mention your ancestor, they'll enlighten you about his of her occupation, hobbies and interests, and suggest where to look next for records.
  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers is expanding to include The Baltimore Sun from 1837 to 1985. The span covers Baltimore’s role as a busy immigration and trade center, as well as Maryland’s role as a slave-holding border state during the Civil War.
Check your local library’s Web site or call the reference desk see if it offers access to these data services. You may be able to use them from home through the library Web site.


Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Social History
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 10:39:46 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, February 10, 2009
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Moves Again
Posted by Diane

Our post about the debut of NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" celebrity-reality-genealogy TV series sparked some commentary on what humankind needs more: Another reality show or a hole in our heads.

Looks like you'll have more time to decide whether to watch (or be swayed by the success of the British show of the same name). Lisa Louise Cooke at Genealogy Gems reports the show's debut has been pushed back from April 20 to sometime during the summer. Learn more on the Genealogy Gems blog.


Celebrity Roots
Tuesday, February 10, 2009 8:30:39 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, February 09, 2009
Finding Ancestors on Passenger Lists: What Can Go Awry (and How Not to Let It)
Posted by Diane

I’m 90 percent sure my long search for my immigrant great-grandparents' passenger list has come to an end. A few small but significant details dragged out my search—maybe my “lessons learned” will help you.

I’d searched passenger lists on Ancestry.com, the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, Ellis Island and the Canadian Genealogy Center. I tried crazy name variations, no names and 10-year arrival windows. Once, I realized I was on the 75th page of search results.

Since my ancestors tooled around the South for years, I decided they must’ve immigrated through Galveston and the 1900 hurricane ruined their records.

Then last week’s naturalization record discovery provided a port and date of arrival (New York, Oct. 15, 1900), and my great-grandfather’s name in Syria: Fadlallah.

But I still couldn’t find the passenger list!

So I went to Stephen Morse’s enhanced one-step search for Ellis Island, where you can search by date (rather than just year). First I entered the search terms straight from the naturalization papers. Nothing. I tried other months in late 1900. Nope.

Then the key step: I removed the first name and searched a month at a time. Fadlo Hadad jumped out on a Nov. 4 list. My great-grandfather used Fadlow on his WWI draft registration, and made it his son’s middle name. Could it be a short form of Fadallah? (If anyone’s in the know on this, feel free to comment.)



Beneath Fadlo on the record was wife Maria. My great-grandmother Mary also shows up in various records as Mattie and Marianna. The Ellis Island indexer kindly recorded her as Maria Hadad rather than wife. I probably came across this record early in my research and discounted it because I didn’t recognize Fadlo.

The 10 percent uncertainty level comes from the name, their ages—17 and 21, both two years too old, according to other records—and the origin of Turkey (albeit with the last residence Arabo, as the ship’s Neopolitan clerk recorded it). I do have another record giving Turkey as my Syrian ancestor’s homeland, and I haven't found any other Fadlos or Fadlows close to my ancestor's age in US records.

But I still couldn’t find Fadlo in Ancestry.com’s immigration collection. I searched on Maria Fadlo, and Maria showed up, indexed as Maria Fadlo Wife. Below her in the results was her husband, indexed with Hadad as the first name, Fadlo as the last.

Another look at the list—the ship’s clerk switched from recording passengers last-name-first to recording them first-name-first. The Ancestry.com indexer transcribed exactly what was on the record; the Ellis Island indexer did some genealogical deduction.

So, my lessons learned:
  • Look for evidence of different names your ancestor may have used, and repeat searches as you learn more.
  • Search different databases.
  • Try last-name only searches.
  • Search for women on the first name wife (another lady on the list was recorded the same way).
  • Try switching the first and last names in your search.
  • If you have a rough idea of an arrival date, browse by date.

immigration records | Research Tips
Monday, February 09, 2009 9:05:41 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [9]
# 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]