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# Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Using Genealogy Resources at State Libraries and Archives
Posted by Diane

One of my favorite pieces of advice for genealogists who aren't sure of their next research step or don't know where to find a particular record is to browse around the website for the state library, archive or historical society, and just see what's there. My "Best of" pick for 2003—Rick Crume's article from the August 2003 Family Tree Magazine— explains why:
At libraries and archives on the state level, you'll find birth, marriage and death records, plus state censuses, tax records, business records, county records, maps, family papers, and photographs and oral histories. Most state archives also have programs to microfilm newspapers dating back to the first issues published in the state.

While they usually focus on their own states, many of these libraries and archives also have important holdings for other states. The Sutro branch of the California State Library, for example, and the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) house two of the nation's largest collections of genealogical books. WHS also boasts one of the largest collections of newspapers in the United States and extensive holdings of African-American and American Indian newspapers.

Every state has at least one organization in charge of preserving its heritage. Sometimes, a state library houses books, while a separate state archive stores records and artifacts. Other states preserve all these resources in a single facility, often called a state historical society. In addition to official state-run archives, some states, especially in the East, have other repositories operated by private, nonprofit organizations.

To take the best advantage of state libraries and archives, you'll want to visit in person. But even if you can't, you can still access many of these resources from a distance through interlibrary loan, the Internet and the library's reference services.

Almost every state library and archives has a website packed with useful genealogical information. Some sites, such as the Library of Virginia and the Florida State Archives, feature searchable databases and document images—with just a few clicks, you might find an abstract of your ancestor's will or digitized pages from the family Bible.

Before making a trip to the state capital, check the online library catalog for family histories, local histories and manuscripts. The site also may have a listing of newspaper holdings organized by county and town.

Many state libraries and archives make microfilmed newspapers and some books available for a small fee via interlibrary loan. Read the lending policies on the facility's website, then print the references to items you want to borrow and request them at your local public library.

Just like local public libraries, state libraries and archives offer a range of reference services. Staff may accept research requests by phone, mail or e-mail. Usually, there's no charge to answer a simple question, such as “Do you have Clay County court records from the 1880s?” But you may have to pay a fee to get an archivist to check indexes and make photocopies. Keep your question brief, and be sure to include a name, place and date, for example: “Can you check the index to the book Old Tioga Point and Early Athens by Louise Welles Murray for the name William Parry, and copy the pages where he's mentioned? He lived in Athens from 1822 until the 1850s.”

Some state library websites have a form for submitting research questions. If you need more-extensive research than staff can handle, they may have a list of area researchers for hire.

Faced with budget cuts, many state libraries and archives are reducing their services and need your support. Let your elected officials know that you value these services and want them to continue. Of course, the best way to support state libraries is to use them.
Related resources from Family Tree Magazine:


Family Tree Magazine articles | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 9:45:31 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Boston Groups Launch African-American Genealogy Initiative
Posted by Diane

Tom Champoux of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) sent more information on the society’s new African-American genealogy website, which I blogged about last week.

Turns out AfricanAmericanAncestors.org is part of a joint initiative to bridge the gap between New England’s rich regional history and the stories of African-American families rooted there. Besides NEHGS, partners include Boston’s Museum of African American History (MAAH) and the New England Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS-NE).

The site’s launch celebration was attended by nearly 100 people, including Black Roots author Tony Burroughs, MAAH director Beverly Morgan-Welch, AAHGS-NE president Leona Martin, and Association of Professional Genealogists vice president Kenyatta Berry.

In the coming months, the three organizations will plan new programs, education opportunities, and other special events to highlight each group's areas of expertise while providing researchers of African-American family history with access to content, tools and resources.

Related resources from Family Tree Magazine:


African-American roots | Genealogy societies
Tuesday, February 09, 2010 12:07:47 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
History's Big Snows
Posted by Diane



This Cincinnati snowfall is nothing like what some of you have seen recently (and that’s before today’s new round of weather).

Wintry weather always gets me thinking about my ancestors who immigrated from Syria and tooled around the South for awhile before moving to Cleveland, situated in northeastern Ohio on Lake Erie. What a shock that first lake-effect snowfall must’ve been.

While you’re hunkered inside waiting for the snowplow to come by (or thanking your lucky stars you live somewhere it doesn’t snow), check out these sites on big snowstorms throughout history:

The Digital Snow Museum
This site has links to information about a whole list of storms, starting in 1717, with photos and illustrations.

1816, aka “The Year Without a Summer”
The Long Winter of 1880-1881
  • This National Archives’ Prologue magazine article describes in part the Winter of 1880-1881 in De Smet, Dakota Territory.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder (one of my favorite authors) wrote about the near-constant blizzards in The Long Winter. Read about the book and see a photo of a train stuck in the snow—a phenomenon that cut off many towns from much-needed supplies—in this Wikipedia article.
Have Snow Shovel, Will Travel: A History of Snow Removal
Did you one of the first mentions of using a snowplow use comes from Milwaukee in 1862? A team of horses pulled the plow attached to a cart.

Historical snow events in Ontario

History of big winter storms in the Baltimore/Washington, DC, area

National Snow and Ice Data Center: Notable Winter Snowstorms
This page also has a few pictures taken during the Great Blizzard of 1888.

The Minnesota Climatology Working Group has pages on the state's historic snowstorms in April and May.

Oregon’s Top 10 Weather Events of the 1900s
You’ll find several types of events listed, including snowfall totals for storms in January, 1950. At the top of the page, see similar links for California, Utah and Washington State.

Social History
Tuesday, February 09, 2010 10:25:05 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, February 08, 2010
GenealogyBank Doubles Newspaper and Records Collection
Posted by Diane

GenealogyBank’s latest new content has brought the size of the historical newspaper and records subscription site to double what it was a year ago. “One year ago we had 174 million articles. Today we have 480 million newspaper articles in 4,300 newspapers,” writes spokesperson Tom Kemp on the GenealogyBank Official blog.

He also includes a partial list of titles and coverage dates. You can find a full list organized by state on Genealogybank

If you’ve searched GenealogyBank’s historical newspapers before, you can used a pull-down menu on the advanced search page to limit your search to content added since December 2009 or January 2010

Get more GenealogyBank search help from our GenealogyBank Web Guide, available as a digital download from ShopFamilyTree.com.


Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers
Monday, February 08, 2010 10:56:53 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, February 05, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: February 1-5
Posted by Diane

  • I hope you didn't travel to Washington, DC, for genealogy research this weekend. Because of a snowstorm predicted to deliver up to 24 inches of snow to the area, the National Archives research rooms in DC and College Park, MD, closed at noon today, Friday, Feb. 5, and remain closed on tomorrow. The Library of Congress closed at 1 pm today and will stay closed Saturday.
  • British subscription and pay-per-view genealogy site FamilyRelatives added 5 million new parish records with information on baptisms, marriages and burials in counties in England and Wales, dating from the early 1500s to almost 1900.


Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Friday, February 05, 2010 2:05:53 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, February 04, 2010
NEHGS Launches African-American Genealogy Site
Posted by Diane

I just noticed on Facebook that the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEFGS) launched a new site focused on researching African-American genealogy.

AfricanAmericanAncestors.org has links to how-to articles, online exhibits, President Obama's family tree, and NEHGS databases of genealogical records containing information on African-Americans (note that you'll need an NEHGS membership to access search results). 


African-American roots | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, February 04, 2010 12:36:01 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Editor's Pick: Search Engine Tips and Tricks Webinar
Posted by Diane


You know the search engine commercial where a guy’s wife asks him if he got the tickets to Hawaii, and he answers “Hawaii 5-0. 'Book 'em, Danno!' Aloha! Mele Kalikimaka …”? (Watch it here.)

That’s not unlike what can happen when you type your ancestors’ names into a search engine. Instead of your Henry Sommers, born in 1872, you get “Henry Sommer testified before the Senate Judiciary…” and “Kressel, Henry; Sommers, Henry S. …”

Our next webinar, Search Engine Tips and Tricks: Google Techniques to Boost Your Research, will help you avoid the noise and get to meaningful results about your family and the places they lived.



Presenter Lisa Louise Cooke will demonstrate 
  • Tips for phrasing your searches
  • How to tailor your searches to fetch what you're looking for
  • Hints to take advantage of tools such as Google Books and News Archive
The webinar takes place Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 7 pm Eastern. Your registration includes participation in the live presentation and Q&A session, access to the webinar recording to view again as many times as you want, a PDF of the presentation slides, and a bonus handout.

Registration costs $39.99 through Feb. 11. After that, it’ll be $49.99. (Family Tree VIP program members get another 10 percent off.)

Register in ShopFamilyTree.com. After your purchase, be sure to follow the link on your confirmation page to complete your webinar sign-up.

Editor's Pick | Research Tips | Webinars
Thursday, February 04, 2010 10:20:57 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Footnote Adds Vietnam War Records; Makes Them Free This Month
Posted by Diane

Subscription historical records site Footnote has added Army Photos and Unit Service Awards to its Vietnam War records collection, which now totals more than 100,000 photos and documents. It’s free through the end of February.

Army Unit Service Awards include documents relating to Presidential Unit Citations, Valorous Unit Awards and Meritorious Unit Commendations. The  papers contain the unit’s dates of service, duties performed and letters of recommendation.
 
Army Photos show activities of the Army during the Vietnam War. Nearly every photo is accompanied by a caption card describing what was happening and naming soldiers in the pictures. I sent my dad this picture of Fire Support Base Nancy, where he served with the Army Corps of Engineers.



The Footnote Vietnam War Collection also includes the Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial and photos of the Marine Corps in Vietnam.

Related Resources from Family Tree Magazine:

Footnote | Military records
Thursday, February 04, 2010 9:30:51 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 03, 2010
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Website Now Online
Posted by Diane

I’ve been seeing “Who Do You Think You Are?” (WDYTYA) promo spots between shows on NBC, and now the show’s official website is available. Surf over to
  • Watch previews of the show
  • Read about and see photos of the celebrities who find out about their family trees, including Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Emmitt Smith and others.

  • View historical photos of immigrants on Ellis Island.
  • "Start your family tree" by typing in your first and last name. (This opens a new window to start a family tree on Ancestry.com, a partner in creating the show.)
  • Click Exclusives and read articles about genealogy, start a 14-day trial of Ancestry.com's subscription records databases, or type in your surname to learn family facts (such as the distribution of your surname in various censuses—this also takes you to Ancestry.com)
  • Visit the WDYTYA section in NBC's community forum
I hope that once the episodes start, the site shows us some of the behind-the-scenes genealogy research and the historical records mentioned on-camera.

For more WDYTYA details, see our earlier blog post.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com
Wednesday, February 03, 2010 4:17:02 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
We'll Take the National Archives for $200, Alex
Posted by Diane

We’re feeling very prescient right now.

A December 2005 Family Tree Magazine article on the National Archives' regional research facilities spoofed Utahn Ken Jennings’ smarty-pants appearances on the game show "Jeopardy!"

The article, written by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack and James W. Warren, featured a spot-on caricature of "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek by illustrator Thomas Fluharty:



Lo and behold if Alex himself didn't have a National Archives category on the show last week. Here's the rapid-fire question-and-answer ... er, answer-and-question video, courtesy of the National Archives YouTube channel. See how many you can get right!

 
Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun | Libraries and Archives | Videos
Wednesday, February 03, 2010 1:07:03 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]