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# Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Cincinnati Library Digitizes Sanborn Maps
Posted by Diane

Our friends at our local Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County let it slip today that they’re digitizing their local Sanborn maps and putting them online. They’ve already got two volumes scanned.

Wondering what Sanborn maps are? The Sanborn company published them regularly from 1867 to 1970 to evaluate fire insurance liability in urban areas. Between publications, the company would issue updated maps on single sheets to be glued into a volume of maps.

The maps are detailed street plans at a scale of 50 feet to one inch on large sheets of paper—one sheet shows about four to six city blocks. You can see building outlines, locations of windows and doors, building use (including the names of most public buildings), property boundaries, house and block number, street names, street and sidewalk widths, fire walls, composition of building materials and more.

You can learn a lot about your ancestor’s house and neighborhood, or research the history of your own old house.

Each map volume has a title page showing the publication year and an index of the streets and addresses covered in that volume. You just look up the address or building name to find the sheet number for the large-scale map it appears on. There’s also an index map of the entire mapped area, with the sheet numbers for each large-scale map in that volume. If you don't know the address, you can use this index map to guess the sheet number you need.

Sanborn maps cover most urban areas. Many public and university libraries have Sanborn maps in print or on microfilm for the local area. The Library of Congress has a huge collection. At some libraries, you can access ProQuest’s database of digitized maps (check your library’s Web site or ask at the reference desk).

Back to the Cincinnati library’s collection: Each index page and map sheet is an individual PDF document. First, check the index page to find the map number you want. I was looking for my great-grandfather’s store, H.A. Seeger Cigar Manufacturer, which operated for decades at the corner of 12th and Pendleton in downtown Cincinnati.

I clicked on volume 2, published in 1904, and checked the index:


Then I downloaded sheet 148. H.A. Seeger's Cigars is circled in yellow:


Dwellings are labeled D and stores are labeled S. My relatives probably attended the Roman Catholic church across the street and bought bread from the bakery seven doors down.

More resources: Walking with Your Ancestors: A Genealogist's Guide to Using Maps and Geography by Melinda Kashuba

Free Databases | Land records | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 5:29:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, November 09, 2009
Brick Wall Strategies Webinar Update
Posted by Diane

Every genealogist has a brick wall ancestor, it seems--so just about everyone can use the advice in our next webinar, titled (predictably) Brick Wall Strategies.

I'll be hosting the hourlong session Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. Eastern, and as I began preparing for the webinar, I thought: This would be a perfect time to call in a professional who helps family historians surmount their research obstacles every day.

So I'm delighted to announce that David Allen Lambert, online genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society, will be joining me for as the co-host of the webinar. David will offer advice on participants' specific brick wall problems, and be on hand to answer questions during a live Q&A period.

Other good news: We're extending the early bird rate of $39.99 until Thursday (Nov. 12) at midnight. Register now to receive this $10 discount.

Can't make it on Nov. 18? Take advantage of the discount to get access to the webinar recording (which you can view as many times as you'd like), as well as the bonus materials provided only to participants in the live webinar--including a PDF of the presentation slides and our Genealogy Guidebook of 100+ brick wall busting ideas.

When you sign up, you'll have the opportunity to submit your brick wall problem for a chance to receive personalized advice from David.



More resources:

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Webinars
Monday, November 09, 2009 5:54:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, November 06, 2009
Genealogy News Corral: November 2-6
Posted by Diane

Here's what's in this week's roundup:
  • Databases recently updated or added in FamilySearch’s free Record Search pilot include the Indiana marriage index, Netherlands parish registers (images only so far), 1920 US Census index, Brazil Catholic church records (images only so far), and Italy municipal records (images only so far).
To see details of each addition, click the relevant region on the Record Search Pilot map. Then click the title of the collection in the alphabetical list. (Look for more FamilySearch search tips in the January 2010 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands Dec. 15.)
  • Dick Eastman started a free site called GenQueries for posting your surname research queries (for example, “Seeking information about Eugene and Lilly WOODFORD family, lived in Marion Co., Indiana, in 1900”). You also can advertise genealogy services or societies, and search others’ ads. Read about GenQueries on Dick’s blog.
  • Genealogy and family networking site MyHeritage launched a Family Statistics feature for the family tree sites on MyHeritage. The feature generates statistics, such oldest living relative or most common birth month in the family, based on data in the tree. Family Statistics works for sites on the free basic plan as well as the paid plans.


FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Friday, November 06, 2009 12:24:18 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, November 05, 2009
Editors Pick: Wish Lists in ShopFamilyTree.com
Posted by Diane


Got your eye on a few how-to genealogy books, CDs, digital downloads or other helps in ShopFamilyTree.com?

Now you can keep track of those wanted items—and, if you choose, communicate your hankering to those whose gift lists you’re on—by creating a wish list.

Here’s how:
1. Go to ShopFamilyTree.com. Click My Wish List in the top right corner of any page.
2. If you’ve ordered something before, you might already have an account, and you can log in here. If you don’t have an account, click the “Not Registered? Click Here” link to create a user name and password (you don’t have to buy anything to register).
3. Once you’re logged in, click the Wish List link to go right to your list.
4. Set up a list by entering a description (such as “Diane’s Christmas list”), an expiration date, and deciding whether to keep it hidden. If you check the “private” box, you won’t be able to e-mail the list to others, but you can view and make purchases from it. Click submit.
5. Whenever you’re browsing around in the store and see an item you’d like, click the Add to Wish List button. You’ll be taken to the entry in your list.
Once you’ve added items to your list, click Wish List to see the "E-mail Wish List to Friends" link. (If you made your list private, you won’t see this link. Just uncheck the Private box to see the link.) Now you can type a message and enter up 20 e-mail addresses of people who’ll receive your list.

They’ll get an e-mail that starts with “[Your name] has opened a wish list at ShopFamilyTree.com and wanted to let you know. You can view the list by clicking on the link below.”

Then they’ll see your message and a link to your list on ShopFamilyTree.com.

Editor's Pick | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, November 05, 2009 9:39:19 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Now's the Time to Start on Family History Gifts
Posted by Diane

We don’t mean to rush you into the winter holidays—it was just Halloween—but if you’re thinking of giving family history-related gifts this year, now’s the time to start.

Many such gifts require prep work: For example, you’ll need to gather, scan, digitally touch up and label photos for a photo CD; start laying out an online photo book or calendar; or collect and transcribe family stories. Maybe you want to check another record or two before finalizing a compiled family history.

And by starting early, you can watch for coupon codes and sales; and make sure anything you order online will get to you in time.

As our early gift to you, here’s our December 2006 article with 13 family history gift ideas you can make. The projects range from very quick and easy to moderately quick and easy. The article has supply lists and step-by-step instructions for seven of the projects.

A few more sources of family tree gift ideas:
  • I’m kinda partial to this one: Family Tree Legacies, a book Family Tree Magazine editor Allison Stacy and I put together for recording all kinds of family history information—not just names and dates, but also family stories, news articles, house history, military service details, where people lived and more.


Celebrating your heritage | Family Heirlooms | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Thursday, November 05, 2009 9:07:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
FamilyRelatives Adds A Million British Military Records
Posted by Diane

British subscription and pay-per-view site FamilyRelatives is adding a million new military records spanning from 1808 to World War 1.

They include:
  • The Peninsular Medal Roll (1808-1814), naming some who fought in the Peninsular Wars against Napoleon from 1808 to 1813.
  • De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour (1914-1918), a two-volume set with biographies of 25,000 men. The site currently has 12,500 of the biographies—those of men who lost their lives in the Great War.
  • Harts Army Lists for several years. The lists were published regularly between 1839 and 1915, and give details of war service.
See the full list of new military records on FamilyRelatives.com (scroll down on the linked page). An annual FamilyRelatives subscription costs 30 pounds (about $50). Click here to see pay-per-view options.


Military records | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, November 05, 2009 8:36:29 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Massachusetts State Library in Danger?
Posted by Diane

First it was the Library of Michigan. Now the State Library of Massachusetts is reporting on its blog that the Massachusetts governor’s office announced during an Oct. 29 press conference that the governor is considering closing the State Library of Massachusetts to cut expenses.

A press release about the state's budget gap, which the governor issued the same day, doesn’t specifically mention the library, but it says state agencies have been asked to prepare for additional cuts.

The state library's blog post links to a petition you can sign, and to contact information for the governor’s office.

The Massachusetts Library Association was already planning a rally at the Massachusetts State House today to support libraries, whose funding has declined over the years even as use goes up.


Libraries and Archives
Wednesday, November 04, 2009 1:47:37 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Tell Us Your New Year's Traditions (You Could Win a CD)
Posted by Diane

We’re still taking entries for our November 2009 All in the Family challenge, but only for another week. If we publish your entry in Family Tree Magazine, you’ll win our Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD.

Here’s how to enter:

1. Think of your family’s weird, wacky or wonderful New Year’s traditions. Did you irritate the neighbors by banging pots and pans at midnight? Play board games and watch the ball drop on Times Square? Consume cabbage, donuts or black-eyed peas for luck?

2. Next, describe that tradition in 200 words or less.

3. Send us your description either by posting it to our Talk to Us Forum (you must register with the FamilyTreeMagazine.com Forum to post) or by sending us an e-mail.

Please include your name and your city and state with your entry, like so: Diane Haddad, Cincinnati, Ohio. If we pick your entry, that’ll make it easier for us to credit you in the magazine.

And in that case, we’ll contact you by e-mail to ask for your mailing address so we can send the CD (so keep an eye on your in box).

You have until Nov. 10 to enter. Let’s hear those New Year traditions!


Celebrating your heritage | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Tuesday, November 03, 2009 3:29:36 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, November 02, 2009
It Works! Writing a Family History Narrative
Posted by Diane

I’ve heard the tip that writing your genealogy research into a narrative forces you to organize your information and for theories about what your ancestors did. I’ve even suggested this tip to people—but I never took my own advice.

Until recently, that is, when relatives started asking for copies of records, and I started feeling guilty that I haven’t already shared them.

But I don’t want to just hand over a stack of papers (or more likely, a CD with a bunch of PDFs) and leave people to interpret them on their own. I wanted to tell the family’s story and provide a framework for the records I've found.

And even though I've looked at these records a million times, in creating my narrative I've spotted some holes and tweaked my timeline. A few examples:
  • I realized (duh!) that I had the 1930 census schedule for my great-grandfather and three of his children, but one wasn’t listed with the family. I found him lodging in a nearby town.
  • I realized my great-grandfather didn’t check in at the state prison until after his sons were placed in an orphanage. That's the reverse of what was on my mental timeline.
  • It occurred to me that I should see if the Lions Club that sponsored part of my grandfather’s college education has minutes from the meeting he attended to thank the group.
I didn’t think I’d accomplished much in my research. But now that I’ve laid it all out, I realize how far I’ve come—and I’m inspired to rev up my efforts.

My narrative isn't anything fancy. I just reviewed my records and notes chronologically, and explained what each document is, what it says about our relatives, and any theories and questions it inspires. I’ll update it as I learn more.

A timeline or a research journal also can help you analyze your work. Try these resources:


Research Tips
Monday, November 02, 2009 4:26:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Friday, October 30, 2009
Ancestry.com Cemetery Collection Free Through Nov. 5
Posted by Diane

This just in: Ancestry.com is making its "creepiest collections"—records of cemeteries and gravestones free through next Thursday, Nov. 5. You will need to register for a free Ancestry.com account to view details of your search results.

 Use the search box on this Halloween landing page to access the free databases.

Click here to see the list of cemetery indexes and inscriptions included in this offer.


Ancestry.com | Cemeteries
Friday, October 30, 2009 4:02:20 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]