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# Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Series Explores "What Made America?" Through Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., whose "African-American Lives" series have been popular on PBS, is working on another genealogy documentary series to air in February and March.

"Faces of America" uses genealogy and genetics to explore the family histories of 11 famous Americans, using their ancestors’ experiences to draw a picture of American history.

"The many stories [Gates] uncovers—of displacement and homecoming, of material success and dispossession, of assimilation and discrimination—illuminate the American experience," states PBS' announcement.

Four episodes look progressively further back in history. They cover America’s complicated relationship with new immigrants in the 20th century, the “Century of Immigration” and industrialization from the 1820s to 1924 (the year quotas sharply curtailed US immigration), the early settlement of the New World, and how DNA evidence links us to early geographical origins.

The ancestral origins of the show's "cast” span the globe. Gates researches the family trees of poet Elizabeth Alexander (she composed and read the poem at President Obama’s inauguration), chef Mario Batali, comedian Stephen Colbert, novelist Louise Erdrich, writer Malcolm Gladwell, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, film director Mike Nichols, Queen Noor of Jordan, actresses Eva Longoria Parker and Meryl Streep, and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

The series airs 8 to 9 pm Wednesdays from Feb. 10 to March 3, but you can catch a few glimpses now:

See more "Faces of America" clips on PBS’ YouTube channel.


Celebrity Roots | Genealogy Events | Genetic Genealogy | Social History
Wednesday, January 06, 2010 2:01:43 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
May We Suggest Some Genealogy Resolutions for 2010?
Posted by Diane

Studies show (well, at least one study shows) that 66 percent of adults have ever made a New Year’s resolution.

So maybe I risk losing a third of you when I suggest making a genealogy-oriented resolution or two. But wait! If you stick around for the rest of this post, I’ll give you some ideas and link to articles that might be helpful in achieving your family history goals:
  • Back up your digitized photos, too (in the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine, we’ll recommend several photo-sharing websites for backing up family photos).
Resolve to rent one title a month through a nearby Family History Center. You can get more advice on using FamilySearch in our FamilySearch Essentials Webinar recording.
  • Go through your attic and closets and catalog your family heirlooms. You can use our heirloom recording forms to note the items' original owner, provenance, and other important information. 
  • Commit an hour or so a week to volunteering for a records indexing project. Try FamilySearch Indexing or Ancestry.com’s World Archives Project, or see if your local library or historical society could use your indexing assistance.
  • If you’re a beginning family historian, resolve to search the 1930 census (the most recent one available) for every relative who was alive at the time. See our census search tips, and visit a large library to use census microfilm, HeritageQuest Online or Ancestry Library Edition.


Family Heirlooms | Oral History | Photos | Research Tips
Wednesday, January 06, 2010 12:29:49 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, January 05, 2010
NY Museum Offers Digitized National Guard Records
Posted by Diane

Got a New Yorker who served in the state’s National Guard? The New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs has released of 53,671 pages of New York National Guard records, according to a Dec. 29 announcement.

The digitized records in PDF format include 197 issues of the New York National Guardsman magazine (published monthly from August 1924 to August 1940) and National Guard annual reports from the Adjutant General from 1858 to 1955

Many years of the Adjutant General records have a name index. Otherwise, there’s no search of the digitized records, so you’ll need to browse files for the years you’re interested in. Some of the files are pretty big and take a few minutes to download.

The center’s library also has rich genealogical resources offline, including 2,000 volumes of military and New York State history, more than 5,000 unit and soldier photographs, unit histories (some of this material is online), scrapbooks, letters, maps and more.


Free Databases | Military records | Museums
Tuesday, January 05, 2010 9:02:09 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, January 04, 2010
Ancestry.com Improves Wildcard Searching
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.com made some changes to wildcard searching, which might just add enough flexibility to help you finally find an elusive ancestor in the census.

You can now use a wildcard at the beginning of a name you’re searching for, but if you do, the name can’t end in a wildcard. The name must contain at least three non-wildcards.

The two wildcards are ? to stand in for exactly one letter and * to stand in for any number of letters.

See more details and examples on Ancestry.com’s blog.


Ancestry.com
Monday, January 04, 2010 2:55:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Ohio Probate Court Posts Online Records Archive
Posted by Diane

The probate court  for Hamilton County, Ohio—location of our hometown of Cincinnati—launched an Archived Record Search for records from 1791 to 1994.

It's not a database search where you type in a name. Instead, you open image files (PDFs or TIFs) of index books and/or record books for records including:
  • Estates, 1791 to 1984
  • Wills, 1791 to 1973
  • Trusts, 1791 to 1984
  • Guardianships, 1791 to 1984
  • Marriages, 1808 to 1983 
  • Minister's Licenses, 1963 to 1975 (index books only)
  • Birth Records, 1863 to 1908
  • Birth Registrations and Corrections, 1941 to 1994
  • Death Records, 1881 to 1908
  • Probate Court Journal Entries, 1791 to 1837 (no index; you must browse by volume and page number)
  • Physician Certificates, 1919 to 1987 (no index; you must browse by volume and page number)
I spent most of the Bengals' game last night opening and looking through the digitized books. I found a few people who may be relatives—giving me something to add to my 2010 to-do list.

Start by going to the Archive Record Search page and clicking the link for the type of record you’re interested in. On the next page, read the information: it’ll tell you whether the website has the index and/or the record volumes, whether the court has additional index or record volumes that aren’t online, years of coverage, and how complete the records are. 

If an index book is online, click the name of the record at the top of the page. Click on the alphabetical range for the surname you want, which opens the file (it may take awhile). You might have to check several index books if you're not sure of the year you need.

You also might have to scroll through the entire index: In some cases, surnames aren't alphabetized beyond the first letter, or all S surnames with E first names (for example) might be grouped.

Once you find a suspected relative in the index book, note the volume and page number. Then, if the record book is online, go back to the main page for that record and search for a volume and page number to see the record. Otherwise—assuming the record book still exists—you can request photocopies from the court or see if it's on FHL microfilm.

If there's no index book, check the information on the site to see which volumes cover which years. Then type in your best guess of a volume and page number, and start browsing.


court records | Free Databases | Vital Records
Monday, January 04, 2010 9:04:44 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, December 22, 2009
How Your Ancestors' Christmases Looked
Posted by Diane

I went into some of our favorite historical photo archives and found images of Christmases past. Each link will open in a new window:
Posting will be spotty over the next couple of weeks as we spend time with friends and family. We wish warm and happy holidays to all of you!


Celebrating your heritage | Genealogy fun | Photos
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 3:41:15 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, December 21, 2009
Last-Minute Family History Gifts
Posted by Diane

If you’re scrambling to find just the right presents or you’ve finally faced the fact that the family history book you planned to give the year won’t be ready in time for Christmas, consider one of these ideas for a quick, family history-themed gift:

A framed family photo showing ancestors or an old family home. You also could use ephemera, such as a letter (scan and print color copies for framing). My aunt did this with a handwritten poem my great-aunt wrote about relatives who went to fight in World War II.

Write a few of Grandma’s recipes on pretty recipe cards, and give them with a recipe box, a wooden rolling pin or a baking dish.

A filled-in decorative family tree chart. I like this fan chart from MarthaStewart.com or try one of the charts you can fill in and print from The Family ChArtist or MyHeritage.

A photo CD with digitized family photos and documents.

These photo blocks, which Family Archivist columnist Sunny McClellan Morton created for our December 2009 issue. Purchase the wooden blocks at a craft store and cut photos to fit. Use Mod Podge to attach the photos to the blocks.


To make these refrigerator magnets, use clear-drying glue such as Aleene's Clear Gel Tacky Glue to adhere pictures to the backs of glass gems. Let dry, then trim the photo and glue a magnet to the back of the picture.

Celebrating your heritage | Genealogy fun
Monday, December 21, 2009 10:56:03 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, December 17, 2009
Genealogy News Corral: December 14 to 18
Posted by Diane

Hello, everyone. Here are some quick updates on genealogy news this week:
  • Ancestry.com has made some changes to how you browse to records in its collections, including removing an ad to make more room, moving the “Browse” box to the top of the home page for each collection, and including the entire collection description rather than a link to see the rest (this one isn’t yet implemented for every collection). See more on the Ancestry.com blog.

Ancestry.com | International Genealogy
Thursday, December 17, 2009 5:38:45 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Editor's Pick: January 2010 Family Tree Magazine
Posted by Diane


The January 2010 Family Tree Magazine is on newsstands and at ShopFamilyTree.com (in print and digital form)—and it’s our Editor’s Pick this week.



Why? Well, I’ll tell you:
  • It’s our 10th anniversary issue—yes, we’re now in double digits.
  • It’s got our pretty new logo on the cover.
  • The cover also features a photo of reader Sandra Simon-Rosa’s grandmother Marjorie May-Newell, which we chose from all those submitted for our Ancestral Cover Photo.
  • It comes wrapped with a free CD from genealogy website MyHeritage, containing Family Tree Builder software.
  • It debuts our new design, which lets us include tips and quick facts in boxes, so they’re easy to find at a glace
  • The new design features additional resources with every feature article in a “More Online” box. To keep things simple, they’re categorized into free content, Family Tree Magazine Plus content, and products from ShopFamilyTree.com.
  • It has our first Genealogy Insider column (replacing Branching Out), which works with this blog and our e-mail newsletter to take you behind the scenes of family history news and trends.
  • The new Document Detective column (replacing Brick Wall Busters) points out clues and next steps to be gleaned from genealogy records.
  • A Family Archivist column (replacing Preserving Memories) focuses on ways to preserve and share your family’s stories, artifacts and heirlooms. Each installment has  project card with simple steps for an archival preservation project.
  • A Time Capsule on the last page of the issue (replacing Uprooted) gives our ancestors a voicewith excerpts from letters, journals and other historical writings.

Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles
Thursday, December 17, 2009 9:37:29 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Ohio Town's House History and Genealogy Meet on Free Site
Posted by Diane

What started as a survey of house histories has turned into a website with genealogy information for an entire community.

In 1995, the women’s club in Terrace Park, Ohio—a village of 2,267 residents and 1.25 square miles—asked every resident to fill out a survey about the history of local buildings.

Leland Cole designed an online home for the data: the Terrace Park, Ohio, Building Survey website. Now Cole and his wife, Carol, add to the site with help from the women’s club.

In all, the free site describes about 925 buildings. You can find all kinds information, including when a house or other structure was built, what it’s made of, its uses, changes made, owners’ names and ownership dates, notes about resident families from maps and phone and city directories, and more.

Most listings have links to photos of the property, a deed index and owners’ census transcriptions from 1810 to 1930.

The page for 203 Marietta St., for example, tells you the original owners, the West family, occupied the house from 1890 to 1951. Samuel Adams West was an attorney; his family was related to Oliver Robertson of 602 Miami Ave. The page gives birth and death dates for many occupants, transcribes their census records, and has photos showing how the house has changed over the years.

You can use the Terrace Park building survey site in several ways:
  • Click Search to search for a person’s name or other words in building descriptions. You’ll get a list of results for related buildings; click one to see information for that building.
  • Click Street Index to browse to a street name, then click the house number you’re looking for.
  • Use the links on the left side of the home page to browse the site’s deed records, census records and burial information.
  • Click Related Information to read background material on the community and local organizations.
Researching your ancestors’ neighbors and associates is one way to get around genealogical brick walls, and it gives you a really good picture of how your ancestor lived. Cole's site—the only one of its kind I've found —provides rich detail for people with Terrace Park ancestors.

To find historical and genealogical information from your ancestral hometown, try clicking around the county's USGenWeb site, visiting the local historical or genealogical association site, and running a Google search on the county or town name and genealogy


Cemeteries | census records | Free Databases | Land records | Vital Records
Wednesday, December 16, 2009 3:44:25 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]