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# Thursday, April 15, 2010
Help for Busting Genealogy Brick Walls
Posted by Diane


Your family history research is humming along just fine. Then a brick wall stops you cold: You can't find the record you need. Your great-grandmother's maiden name eludes you. You don't know your immigrant ancestor's birthplace.

Our newest book has Family Tree Magazine experts' best answers to your toughest genealogy questions. 101 Brick Wall Busters: Solutions to Overcome Your Genealogical Challenges is now available for pre-order.

Solutions for beginning and veteran genealogists cover formulating research strategies; finding occupational, census, military and other records; pinpointing places; organizing your research; doing online genealogy; working around “burned” records and other losses; figuring out kinship; researching your ethnic heritage; and more.

You also can use the book’s exclusive Records Checklist and Brick Wall Worksheet to help you come up with your plan of attack.

In this excerpt from the introduction to 101 Brick Wall Busters, we share nine ways to confront a dead end in your research:

1. Assess the problem. Review your records one by one to re-evaluate what you know and note the information you’re missing. Identify specifically what you want to learn—a birthplace? A maiden name?

2. Do the first thing first. Don’t try to skip steps by, for example, jumping back to your ancestral homeland before you’ve checked every available US record. Have you searched for your ancestor in every census during his life? Have you looked for his birth, marriage and death dates?

3. Create a timeline. Note your ancestor’s life dates, marriages, children’s births, migrations, jobs and so forth. Add wars, epidemics, mass migrations and other major events that occurred during his life. Look at the timeline with an eye for historical records those events might’ve generated (Civil War service papers? A WWI draft registration card?).

4. Identify potential sources. Make a list of sources in which the information you need might appear. For example, if your ancestor was born before the onset of official vital-record keeping, you might find birth information in church records, newspaper announcements, censuses, naturalization papers, and more. Try running a place search of the Family History Library catalog for your ancestor’s county to get a list of microfilmed records associated with that place—some might mention your ancestor.

5. Use search tricks. If you can’t find your ancestor in an online database, seek out search help. Broaden your search to include alternate spellings of the name (try switching the first and last name, too) and a wider range of dates and places. Use wildcards. Browse the records by place.

6. Research sideways. Research your ancestor’s neighbors, friends, in-laws and the people who served as witnesses on his records. The records of these people might mention your family.

7. Toss out your assumptions. Sometimes the unlikeliest scenario is the right one. Begin exploring theories other than what you thought you knew: Perhaps Great-great-grandpa immigrated through a port other than Ellis island. Maybe Great-grandma did get divorced, marry a second (or third) time and have children at a relatively old age.

8. Ask for help. Sometimes, a second set of eyes with a fresh perspective is just the thing. Ask one of your genealogy friends to review the problem and develop some theories or make suggestions.

9. Brush up. A genealogy how-to book will help you understand alternate sources and strategies for overcoming common challenges. Learn about your ancestor’s life, too. Go back to that chronology and find books related to his experiences: Wedding of the Waters, the Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation by Peter L. Bernstein, for an ancestor who worked on the Erie Canal, or for your Upstate New York LaRosa line, Family and Community, Italian Immigrants in Buffalo, 1880-1930 by Virginia Yans-McLaughlin. You’ll find more potential sources and formulate additional theories about what your ancestor was up to.

Editor's Pick | Research Tips
Thursday, April 15, 2010 10:18:19 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Family Tree University Introductory Offer!
Posted by Diane



It’s time to go back to school—genealogy school, that is. We’re opening Family Tree University with a special offer on our very first course, Google Tools for Genealogists.

In this class, you’ll learn to go beyond simple web searches and take advantage of Google’s other built-in tools, which can be just as helpful for family tree research. You’ll explore four of the tools best suited to help you with your genealogy: News Archive and Timeline, Book Search, YouTube and Google Earth.

Your instructor is Lisa Louise Cooke, whom you know from the Genealogy Gems website, podcast and blog.

The four-week course starts April 26, with one lesson per week. Lessons are self paced—you go through each one at your convenience, then complete and turn in an assignment or quiz at the end of each lesson.

To introduce you all to Family Tree University, this class has a special introductory registration fee of $74.99. Click here for more details on the class and to register.

Family Tree University
Thursday, April 15, 2010 9:20:50 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Getting Ready to Research at the Family History Library
Posted by Diane

Going to the National Genealogical Society conference or one of the other family history conferences taking place the week of April 26 in Salt Lake City?

If so, you’re probably also planning on doing some research at that mecca of genealogy research locations, the Family History Library. The library will be busy and there’s never enough time to accomplish all you'd like, so you’ll want to be prepared by:
Note that catalog listings with the notation “Vault” mean that particular roll of microfilm is kept in the Granite Mountain Records Vault. You’ll need to call or e-mail at least three days ahead of time to have these items sent to the library (for contact numbers and the e-mail address, click this link and see tip number 6).
  • preparing a prioritized research to-do list. Put book look-ups near the top, since these don’t circulate to your local FHL branch Family History Center (FHC). In my FHL research sessions, I’ve found doing book lookups a nice break when microfilm scrolling gives me a headache.
  • updating your family tree charts (whether on paper or in software you plan to take along on your laptop, PDA, USB drive or other device). Also gather paper or digital copies of the records you’ll need to refer to.
If you can’t get to one of these conferences, or your time runs short while you're there, see our tips for using your local FHC. We’ll also explain some of the microfilm rental restrictions you might encounter at FHCs.


FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Research Tips
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 4:57:53 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, April 13, 2010
New Resource for Early Oregon Ancestors
Posted by Diane

Looking for Oregon pioneer ancestors? Check out the Oregon State Archives' free Early Oregonians Database with information extracted from census, death, probate and other records.

Compiled starting in 2004 by archives staff and volunteers, the database holds more than 150,000 entries on people living in Oregon from 1800 to 1860. (American Indians lived in Oregon during those years and earlier, but because of lack of records, few are represented in the database.) Learn more about how the database was compiled in the State Archives' announcement.

You can search by an ancestor's name and the date range; click More Options to add names of the person's parents and spouses. The site returns a maximum of 200 matches, so if your search is too broad, you'll need to narrow it with more criteria.

Your results list shows the person's name and, if known, the date and place of birth and parents' names. Click the name to see more details about the person and others associated with him (such as parents or a spouse mentioned in the database source records) on a screen like this:


Be sure to click each tab and look for source information. In this case, the Census Events tab reveals that the data on this particular James Smith came from the 1860 US census:


If you're researching Oregon ancestors, you'll also want to use the online Oregon Historical Records Index and Oregon Historical County Records Guide. Family Tree Magazine's Oregon State Research Guide digital download ($3) will help you use these and other resources.

Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 8:34:08 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, April 12, 2010
FamilyTreeMagazine.com Maintenance Today
Posted by Diane

Greetings! I wanted to let you know FamilyTreeMagazine.com will be down for maintenance for about 90 minutes between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time today.

This also may affect the Genealogy Insider and Photo Detective blogs and the Forum. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.



Monday, April 12, 2010 10:53:07 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Ancestry.com Upgrades 1920 Census Collection
Posted by Diane

Subscription site Ancestry.com has released an improved version of its 1920 US census collection, with clearer images and a re-keyed index.

The enhanced digital images were taken from microfilm master copies of the original census records. The new index contains 250,000 new names, as well as differences in existing names due to the arbitrated indexing process (two different people would index the records, with a third expert to resolve any differences in the two versions).

The new index also incorporates the new index incorporates about 20 million Ancestry.com user suggestions from for alternate names and corrections.

You can read more on the Ancestry.com blog.

When I saw the news, I hopped online to look for my Haddad ancestors, who've eluded me in the 1920 census. Alas, I didn't find them, but you can bet I'll try more searches later.

For help searching census records, see the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine print edition (which comes with a Census Research Toolkit CD), our Census Secrets CD and/or our Online Census Secrets webinar recording.


Ancestry.com | census records
Monday, April 12, 2010 10:47:16 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, April 09, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: April 5 to 9
Posted by Diane

  • The Georgia Historic Newspapers site has added a free Atlanta Historic Newspapers Archive with digitized pages from 14 newspapers published in Atlanta from 1847 to 1922. You can keyword-search the full text of the whole collection or an individual title, or browse issues by title and year. (You may need to download the DJVu Plugin to view articles.)
  • The Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research in Houston, considered one of the country's best public libraries for genealogical research, is facing a reduction of operating hours due to budget cuts. Hours will likely change to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and closed Friday and Sunday. (Current hours are Monday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Friday, April 09, 2010 9:06:18 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Search Footnote's Census Records Free Through April
Posted by Diane

I just received word from historical records subscription site Footnote that its free census record search will be extended through the end of April. You'll need a free Footnote account to search; you can get one at <www.footnote.com/census>.

Footnote's census collection includes the 1860 and 1930 US censuses, as well as fractions of the 1900, 1910 and 1920 censuses.

Footnote is planning to add the rest of the US census, 1790 through 1930, by the end of the year. 


census records | Footnote | Free Databases
Tuesday, April 06, 2010 11:55:06 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Gets Second Season
Posted by Diane

Woo-hoo! NBC has given “Who Do You Think You Are?” the green light for a second season.

From the NBC press release:
"Who Do You Think You Are?" from executive producer Lisa Kudrow is averaging a 1.6 rating, 6 share in adults 18-49 and 6.8 million viewers overall in "most current" results for its season thus far. In preliminary results for last Friday, "Who Do You Think You Are?" won the 8-9 p.m. ET hour in adults 18-49, marking the first time any regular competitor in this slot has beaten an original episode of CBS's "Ghost Whisperer" in 18-49 rating since November 17, 2006. "Who Do You Think You Are?" has improved the time period by 23 percent in adult 18-49 rating versus NBC's average for the traditional 2008-09 season in "live plus same day" results.
You can watch “Who Do You Think You Are?” episodes on NBC.com.


"Who Do You Think You Are?"
Tuesday, April 06, 2010 7:56:57 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [13]
# Monday, April 05, 2010
Search 1880 DDD Schedules for 14 States on Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy website Ancestry.com has added many states' 1880 special census schedules of “defective, dependent and delinquent" classes, also known as DDD schedules.

You'll know to look for your ancestor in DDD schedules if his 1880 US census listing has a mark in columns 15 through 20, showing whether he was ill or had a physical or mental disability. If so, DDD schedules might give you more information about his condition or reasons for being institutionalized. (Learn more about this and other special censuses in the July 2009 Family Tree Magazine).

Surviving DDD records are scattered among libraries and state archives. (See Family Tree Magazine's downloadable, state-by-state guide to finding DDD records.)

But now you can search many of the records from home: Ancestry.com subscribers can search DDD schedules from California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington Territory.


Ancestry.com | census records
Monday, April 05, 2010 9:30:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]