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# Monday, October 12, 2009
History Next Door
Posted by Diane

Staying up late the night before you return to work after a vacation does not prolong the vacation.

I’m trying to jump back in the saddle after leaf-peeping in Maine and New Hampshire (with a side trip to the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Waterbury, Vt.), and sightseeing in Boston.

Having grown up in a Midwestern suburb, I find it remarkable that some people leave their homes or offices every day and walk by a 350-year-old cemetery, or the meeting hall where the assembly began that resulted in the 1773 Boston Tea Party, or the church where patriots hung two lanterns in 1775 to warn colonists that British soldiers were on the way.

One stop on the Freedom Trail, which links Boston sites instrumental to the Revolution, is Copp’s Hill Burying Ground in the North End, just up the hill from the Old North Church.

The oldest surviving inscription on a stone at Copp's Hill is for the two-week-old son of David Copp and his wife, Obedience. The baby died Dec. 22, 1661.


An informational marker pointed out interesting gravestones, including this one, created from another, previously carved gravestone. You can see the old inscription, upside-down on the back:


And here’s the front of the reused stone, marking the grave of Theodore James, who died Sept. 25, 1815:


It’s hard to tell in this photo, but the inscription on Mary Waters’ tombstone gives the names of her husband when she died and her former husband.


You can search Copps Hill interments at Find-a-Grave.

You can read Copp’s Hill historical markers online at the Historical Marker Database. Start with this one, then click the links under Other Nearby Markers.

For Lisa Louise Cooke's demo on using photo-editing software to improve the readability of your gravestone photos, see our video page.

Ask and answer cemetery research questions in Family Tree Magazine’s Cemetery Central Forum (note you must register with the Forum to post).

Cemeteries | Social History
Monday, October 12, 2009 11:27:09 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, October 09, 2009
Stupid Inventions of the Past
Posted by Grace



From LIFE magazine (who knew it was still around?), a slideshow of 30 dumb inventions. I'd like to think my ancestors survived being put in a baby cage.

Genealogy fun | Social History
Friday, October 09, 2009 12:14:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Michelle Obama's Slave Ancestry Video
Posted by Allison

As we reported earlier, our friend and professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak appeared on CBS' Early Show this morning to talk about Michelle Obama's slave ancestry.

Though perhaps not unique among slave descendants, the stories Smolenyak uncovered about Obama's ancestors Melvinia and Delphus are certainly interesting. Here's the video of the CBS interview:


 
African-American roots | Celebrity Roots
Friday, October 09, 2009 11:40:18 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, October 08, 2009
Genealogist Finds Michelle Obama's Slave Ancestor
Posted by Grace

Family Tree Magazine contributor Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak and The New York Times have uncovered documents revealing first lady Michelle Obama's great-great-great-grandmother, a slave named Melvinia. Through probate records, photographs and local histories, the sleuths have pieced together a picture of the life of Melvinia, who labored on farms in Georgia and South Carolina, and her first son, Dolphus—Obama's great-great-grandfather—who became a carpenter and owned his own business in Birmingham, Ala.

The story is absolutely fascinating. You can learn more about it in The New York Times, in ABC's news report, and make sure you watch the below video from Roots Television.




African-American roots | Celebrity Roots | Female ancestors | Videos
Thursday, October 08, 2009 12:36:44 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, October 07, 2009
First International Black Genealogy Summit Coming this Month
Posted by Grace

October brings an exciting first in African-American genealogical history. The International Black Genealogy Summit (IBGS) Oct. 29-31 at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind., will be the first mass gathering of all black historical and genealogical societies in the US, Canada and the Caribbean.

"Pulling all the black genealogy societies together has never been done," says conference co-chair Algurie Wilson. "We've all met in our own backyards, but not together. But I've got people coming from everywhere."

IBGS kicks off with a free Thursday pre-conference with workshops, a movie, and extended research hours. Friday and Saturday will be packed with lectures, exhibitors, vendors, and social time (download the schedule here).

"In the workshops, we'll be talking about all the genealogical resources we have," says Wilson. "But besides the workshops, there's great camaraderie. I'm especially looking forward to the banquet and luncheon. We're encouraging African attire. There will be so many beautiful colors. The atmosphere in the room will just be bubbling. I'm also getting an African dance troupe—nobody knows about that yet! I can't wait to hear the keynote speakers, too."

Friday evening's speaker will be Dorothy Spruill Redford, author and nationally recognized interpreter of the African family experience in the South. Hana Stith, curator of the African/African-American Historical Museum in Fort Wayne, will speak at a Saturday luncheon.

Wilson has been encouraged by enthusiastic response despite the difficult economy. "When I talk to someone on the phone and hear their excitement, I realize this is why we're doing it. I've got someone coming on the bus for 17 hours. I'm going to buy that person a drink! That tells you how important it is for us to put this event on."

To Wilson, this event is all about people—both past and present. "I tell new researchers, 'You want to talk to the person next to you. You might find someone looking for the same family tree. You never know what you can discover and more importantly, who you can discover.'"

If you're interested in attending IBGS, visit the conference registration page for more information.
—Sunny McClellan Morton
www.sunnymorton.blogspot.com


African-American roots | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Wednesday, October 07, 2009 2:35:08 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Share Ancestry.com Finds on Facebook and Twitter
Posted by Allison

Ancestry.com added a nifty new feature yesterday: You can now share records with your Facebook friends or Twitter followers in one click.

Simply click the Share This Record link in the Page Tools box on the record page (where you land after clicking a search result, not the image viewer), then select Facebook or Twitter from the drop-down menu.

Type a status update message and submit—the record and a link to it will show up on your Facebook wall or in your Twitter feed, like this census page I shared on Facebook.



For now, the feature only works with historical record images. But if response warrants, VP of Product Eric Shoup says it will be rolled out to photos, stories and other areas of the site.

Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Wednesday, October 07, 2009 2:27:32 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, October 06, 2009
400-year-old Books Return to Germany
Posted by Grace

As a sign of "friendship and trust," the US returned two 16th-century books to Germany today. The tomes were taken by an 18-year-old soldier in 1945, who came across the books in a salt mine in Ransbach, Hessen. He was amazed by the stash—about 2 million books plus 200,000 costumes from the State Opera of Berlin were there, sent underground in 1944 to protect the treasures from incoming troops. (An estimated 15 million books were destroyed in Germany during WWII.) Salt mines were a favorite place to stash valuables because of the mineral's ability to absorb moisture.

Robert Thomas, of Chula Vista, CA, said he was returning the books after six decades "because it's the right thing to do." The US Acting Archivist Adrienne Thomas and German Ambassador Klaus Schiaroth exchanged the books from 1573 and 1593 today in a ceremony in Washington, DC.

US Ambassador J. Christian Kennedy, the US State Department’s special envoy for Holocaust issues, thanked Thomas for returning the volumes, according to the statement.

“I hope his decision to take this step will serve as an example for others in this country and elsewhere to step forward and return such items displaced during World War II,” he said.

Sources: National Archives, Bloomberg, Associated Press, AFP, Hamburger Abendblatt


Historic preservation | Libraries and Archives
Tuesday, October 06, 2009 2:34:08 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, October 05, 2009
Family Tree 40 Blog Voting is Open
Posted by Grace

Voting is now open for the Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy Blogs (“Family Tree 40” for short).

Go to FamilyTreeMagazine.com to vote. Voting takes place from Oct. 5 to Nov. 5, and you can vote more than once. We grouped the nominated blogs into categories, and you'll be asked to vote for a specified number of blogs in each category. (We aimed to have you vote for a quarter of the total number of blogs in each category, but rounded the number in some cases because, well, you can't vote for half a blog.)

URLs are included on the voting form, so you can check out the blogs if you want. For those who wonder how the categories were determined, here's a rundown:
All-around
These bloggers give you a little (or a lot) of everything: news, research advice, their own family stories, photos, opinions and more. There’s no one quite like the Genealogue, so we thought about that blog for awhile. It landed in this category because the Genealogue posts a satirical take on genealogy news, holds occasional research challenges and blogs about his own family history every so often.

Personal/Family
These blogs primarily cover the blogger's (or, in a case or two or more, bloggers') own research and ancestors. Family historians write what they know and what’s important to them, so this is our biggest category.

Local/Regional
Most posts in these blogs cover resources, genealogy events and history for a city, town, state or region.

Cemetery
These blogs focus on cemetery research, gravestone photos and the like.

Photos/Heirlooms
Content on these blogs is primarily about sharing, researching and preserving family photos and/or heirlooms.

Heritage
Here, blog content focuses on a particular heritage group, such as African-American, Jewish or Irish. We had some tough decisions in this category, as some family-related genealogy blogs by nature also examine that family’s ethnic heritage.

News/Resources
Blogs in this category deliver a range of genealogy news and information about new resources.

How-to
These blogs have instructional content on genealogical resources and methodology. In some cases, bloggers wrote about their own research and ancestors, but framed posts in an instructional manner.

Genealogy Companies
Blogs in this category are written on behalf of a genealogy company, and contain helpful (but not overly advertising-oriented) information on the company’s products, as well as other resources.

Genetic Genealogy
Blogs that are primarily about genetic genealogy and family health history.
The top 80 vote-getting blogs will make it through to a "final" round, and our editorial staff will select 40 blogs from that list. The Family Tree 40 will be announced in the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine and in the Genealogy Insider e-mail newsletter. You also can follow us on Twitter for contest updates (we'll use the hashtag #FT40).

Click here to get voting!

By the way, feel free to grab either of the little logos below to promote your blog or someone else's!

 
Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Monday, October 05, 2009 9:37:39 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, October 02, 2009
Genealogy News Corral: September 28-October 2
Posted by Diane

It's Friday, and that means it's time to rustle up some genealogy news:
  • Got St. Louis-area ancestors? Consider subscribing to Genealogy and House History News, a free monthly e-mail update listing additions to the Missouri History Museum's Genealogy and Local History Index (click the “Sign up for the E-mail List” link). If you find a relative, you can order a photocopy of the record.
  • FamilySearch has added a few more databases to the Record Search Pilot, thanks to its hard-working indexing volunteers. You can search indexes and view images of Protestant church records from France (1612-1906).
The 1920 US census index (but not record images) was added for Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and South Carolina.
You can browse images of church records from Italy, Slovakia, Argentina and Mexico (these indexes are still being processed).
To find records associated with the place your ancestors lived, click Browse our Record Collections on the Record Search home page, then click an area of the map.
  • Happy third birthday to RootsTelevision! The free genealogy TV Web site shared a list of its most popular videos, several of which relate to family history happenings that broke into “mainstream” news. See the list on the Og Blog.
My trusty colleagues Allison and Grace will post while I'm sneaking in some vacation next week. I might chime in from afar, or I might be too entranced by autumnal loveliness to make it happen. We'll see.


FamilySearch | International Genealogy | Libraries and Archives | Videos
Friday, October 02, 2009 2:20:23 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, October 01, 2009
New Webinar: Finding Vital Records Online
Posted by Diane

Varying availability and privacy restrictions can put getting your US ancestors’ official birth, marriage and death records among your more frustrating genealogical pursuits.

Help is on the way in our next webinar, Vital Records: Researching Your Ancestors' Births, Marriages and Deaths Online.



This session, presented by Lisa Louise Cooke (known for the Genealogy Gems and Family Tree Magazine podcasts), will cover vital records in the United States, including
  • An overview of US birth, marriage and death records and what's in them

  • Answers to the burning question of why coverage and access varies from place to place

  • Types of vital records Web sites to keep an eye out for

  • Online resources vital records and indexes

  • Even if the record you need isn’t on the web, how to use online resources to get offline records
Participants receive access to a recording of the webinar, PDF copies of the presentation slides, and bonus Family Tree Magazine articles on vital records.

The webinar is Oct. 21, 7 pm EDT. Early birds save $10 on registration—it costs $39.99 until Oct. 8. And the first 10 registrants have the opportunity to submit information for possible use as examples in the presentation.

Click here to register.


Vital Records | Webinars
Thursday, October 01, 2009 5:08:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]