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<2010 August>

More Links

# Thursday, 05 August 2010
How to Write Your Family's Story
Posted by Grace

In our upcoming August session, Family Tree University will teach you how to write right in the new class Writing Your Family Memoir: Create a Captivating Record of Your Family’s Story. Frequent Family Tree Magazine contributor Sunny McClellan Morton will teach the class, which includes advice like this to get your creative juices flowing:
In personal/family memoir or narrative family history, you, your family, and ancestors are now characters in a story. Obviously, you're not creating characters out of your imagination—you have real-life people to portray. But you can—and should—borrow the characterization techniques fiction writers use.

One of the first things a fiction writer learns is to reveal characters to the reader bit by bit, not all at once as can be seen in so many family histories:
"Felice Vallarelli was born on 28 March 1880 in Terlizzi, Bari, Italy."
When we meet someone in real life, no one stands there and reads us life statistics (or if he did, we would consider him a terrible bore). Why should we meet you or your family that way? Reveal your characters slowly—through their actions, how they dressed, their beliefs, and so on.
In four weeks, you'll develop a solid outline and structure for your family history book. (And when you've completed the book, check out Nancy Hendrickson's Creating a Family History Book, which goes into the self-publishing process.) The course starts August 16, so sign up today!

Celebrating your heritage | Family Tree University | Oral History
Thursday, 05 August 2010 10:51:58 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Conferencing and Researching in Knoxville
Posted by Diane

Will we see you the week after next at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Knoxville, Tenn.? I hope so!

The conference takes place Aug. 18-21 at the Knoxville Convention Center. Besides taking classes—many of which will highlight local topics, such as research in the old frontier states and Cherokee Indian heritage—attending social events and capitalizing on local research opportunities, you can try genealogy resources and shop for books and supplies in the exhibit hall.

The exhibit hall (which has free admission) is open Thursday 9:30 am-5 pm, Friday noon-7 pm and Saturday 9 am-5 pm. Stop by booth 316 and say hi to Family Tree Magazine editors Grace Dobush, Allison Stacy and yours truly. Also check out our latest CDs and books, including the funny tombstone photos in Grave Humor (you might even get to meet author M.T. Coffin).

Click here for the full lineup of FGS events and here for a press release.
See the FGS Conference News Blog for updates.

My grandfather lived in Nashville around 1942, according to his father’s petition for naturalization, so I’ve been perusing the East Tennessee Historical Society website to see what resources I should use while in Knoxville.

The East Tennessee History Center at 601 S. Gay Street (about a mile from the convention center) houses the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection of the Knox County Public Library and the Knox County Archives, in addition to the Museum of East Tennessee History.

On the McClung Collection website, you can search indexes to local obituaries (1991-present), marriages (1901-1950) and delayed birth registrations (1861-1945). Search more digital materials here.

Microfilm in the McClung collection includes selected records from 31 counties in East Tennessee and six in Middle Tennessee, 1,500 volumes of county records transcribed by the WPA, land grant indexes, military records, 500 volumes of the Draper Manuscripts and more. You can acquaint yourself with the collection at the center’s open house, 2-8 pm on the Tuesday before the conference.

Update: The East Tennessee Historical Society is offering extended research hours during the conference:
  • Tuesday, Aug. 17: 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday-Friday, Aug. 18 - 20:  9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 21: 9 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Learn more about area research locales on the FGS conference blog.

Before you go, prepare to research your Tennessee ancestors with our Tennessee State Research Guide, available for $3 from (You can get all the state guides on CD or in book form.)

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Research Tips
Thursday, 05 August 2010 09:49:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 04 August 2010
Yearbooks Free on World Vital Records 'Til Aug. 12
Posted by Diane

I just got an e-mail from subscription site World Vital Records that its large collection of high school and college yearbooks is free until Aug. 12.

You can search the entire collection at once, or one yearbook at a time by choosing the first letter of the school name and scrolling (or using your web browser’s Find function) to find the yearbook you need.

In searching for my grandfather in the University of Texas at Austin Cactus yearbook (I didn’t find him), I noticed that some of the images are a little pixelly. Was it just me, or did others find this? Look for the Smooth button in the upper right corner of the image viewer, which helps a little. I was still able to make out the names.

Here’s a yearbook page before Smooth:

and after Smooth:

Need help searching World Vital Records databases? You'll find it in our World Vital Records Web Guide digital download, available from

Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 04 August 2010 11:30:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 03 August 2010
9 Things to Find Out About Your Family Heirlooms
Posted by Diane

There’s a family story on my mom's side about a dent in a silver pitcher Mom inherited from her dad’s mom. I don't remember how the story goes, but it has something to do with my grandpa and his brother arguing.

Luckily, I can go home tonight, call my mom and ask her to repeat the details (at which time I’ll write them down). But that opportunity won’t be around forever, so I’m planning to start keeping track of the specifics and stories about the heirlooms in our family.

If you want to do something similar, here are nine things to try to find out about each heirloom:
  • Who in your family first owned the heirloom
  • When and how it came into that person’s possession
  • When the heirloom was created and by whom
  • How the heirloom has been passed down in your family (in other words, its provenance)
  • Any stories associated with the heirloom
  • Who owns the heirloom now
  • Who will be the future owner of the heirloom (so generations to come don’t lose track of it)
  • The heirloom’s composition (so it can be properly cared for)
  • For an heirloom with monetary value, a professional appraisal amount (so it can be insured)
You can record your findings on our heirloom inventory form, downloadable free from Also try to take photos of the item and any manufacturer's or other identifying marks to keep with your records.

You'll find articles on preserving family photos and heirlooms on For more guidance, see these resources from

Family Heirlooms
Tuesday, 03 August 2010 16:31:16 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 02 August 2010
New Family Tree University Courses!
Posted by Diane

Just wanted to give you a heads up that registration is open for the next Family Tree University session, which begins Monday, Aug. 16. We've added several new classes:
We’ll also be bringing back a host of popular classes for the August session. You can read about these classes and meet the instructors at FamilyTree
You also can visit to learn how courses work, read genealogy how-to articles, and connect with Family Tree University on Facebook and Twitter.

Family Tree University | Research Tips
Monday, 02 August 2010 15:21:51 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 30 July 2010
Genealogy News Corral: July 26-30
Posted by Diane

Family Tree Magazine’s own Photo Detective, Maureen A. Taylor, will be providing free 10-minute photo consultations in the FamilySearch booth at the FGS conference, Aug. 19-21 in Knoxville, Tenn. You may bring one photo and must reserve a consultation online (looks like Aug. 19 is almost sold out).

Last year, the governor of Michigan announced a restructuring that abolished the state Department of History, Arts and Libraries, which encompassed the Library of Michigan and its genealogy collection. Though the fate of the collection is still unknown, a Library Journal update reports the genealogy collection is still located at the library, which is operating with reduced finding and staff. See the full update here.

Synium Software released Mac Family Tree 6 this week with features including a new tree editor, new reports and charts and integration with FamilySearch databases. The software requires requires Mac OS X 10.5 or 10.6 and runs on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs.

A new Chickasaw Cultural Center opened in Sulphur, Okla., with exhibits including a Traditional Village, Spirit Forest and Removal Experience, as well as a Research Center with genealogical, archeological and photo collections. The Chickasaw, one of the Five Civilized Tribes, were forcibly removed to Indian Territory from their homes in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee in the 1830s.

American Indian roots | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 30 July 2010 09:33:45 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Is Lindsay the Intern a Mayflower Descendant?
Posted by Lindsay

I was hoping after last week’s devastating revelation that I could improve the Rudd family morale by verifying the myth that we are descendants of the Mayflower pilgrims. Like the Uncle Sam rumor, this one has been purported by my mother’s family, so instead of blindly trusting the research (see below), I set about to prove it on my own.

I began optimistically after reading an article that said, “It has been estimated by Gary Boyd Roberts, of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, that there are some 30 million descendants of the Mayflower families.” With 30 million descendants, my chances were looking good!

I started by tracing back through Hazel Silverberg, my great-grandmother. Using, I traced her grandparents, Charles Russell Hall (b. 1853, New York) and Alice Roberts (b. 1865).

My alleged Mayflower link is through Charles Russell Hall’s mother, Anne Green Soule (b. 1826, married to Russell W. Hall). I immediately questioned Anne’s two last names, Green and Soule, especially as her mother’s last name is reportedly Cady. Where did “Green” come from? Did she have a previous marriage? If women were remarried after being widowed or divorced, did they keep their name?

On this page of research (date: 12/10/89), Anne Green Soule has a * next to her name, and written below: “is already verified by some other researcher. They let me see it, but it’s against the rules.” Um, what?

It also says, at the bottom, “Anne Green’s birth and death must be confirmed somehow and then we can be official Mayflower descendants.”

So it would seem—to my astonishment—that there is no actual evidence that we are Mayflower descendants. Great.

My online search of records for Anne Green Soule and Russell W. Hall was fruitless. All I uncovered was an 1860 Census record that listed Russell Hall and Anna Hall (b. 1827, NY)—no mention of Green or Soule. At this point I changed my strategy. Knowing of the abundant literature on Mayflower genealogy, I started Google-ing.

I confirmed my relative’s research from the Mayflower pilgrim (George Soule) to Coomer Soule, Anne Green Soule’s alleged father.

I hit a roadblock when—in the only Mayflower family tree I found that listed Coomer Soule’s children—they were listed:
i. JOSEPH CADY SOULE, b. 27 Jan 1805; m. JULIA KEACH.
ii. LUCY SOULE, b. 11 Aug 1808, Woodstock, Windham County, Connecticut; m. NATHAN BROWN.
iii. EMILY SOULE, b. Abt. 1811
iv. ELIZABETH SOULE, b. 22 Mar 1815; m. LYMAN HAWKS.

Well… where’s Anne? And it doesn’t look like any of those daughters married a “Hall.”

I needed help, so I started digging around’s message boards when I stumbled upon this posting from January 3, 2000:
“Looking for the daughter of Coomer Soule and Nancy Cady who is believe to have married Russell Ephraim Hall, Children William Coomer Hall b. 12/8/1857, m. 12/25/1891 Hattie Alma Cone in Hartford, Windsor Co, VT. William d. 12/29/1938.”

This (nameless) poster seems to share my dilemma. He (or she) is implying that there was a daughter who married a Russell Hall. This couldn’t just be one of my aunts though, because William Coomer Hall is a different child than (perhaps the brother?) my Charles Russell Hall.

Unfortunately, my luck stopped there. None of the responses had valuable information. Help me out, Genealogy Insiders! Where should I go from here?

(My mom’s abandoned Mayflower Society application from 2002).

Family Tree Firsts
Wednesday, 28 July 2010 17:34:22 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
Find Your Genealogical Mr. Right
Posted by Diane

I blogged last year about my ancestor’s 1944 petition for naturalization, and how it refers to his 1918 filing of “first papers” (a declaration of intent to naturalize)—for which he apparently never filed second papers.

It even gave a document number for those first first papers. But the papers are mysteriously missing both from databases of digitized naturalization records and from microfilm of naturalization records from the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907-1946.

So I got all excited when I found a Fadlallah Haddad in a naturalization index from Chicago. Unusual name, right? It had to be him. But when I looked at the record, some of the details were slightly off. And why would he be in Chicago?

Next, I tried a tip from “Finding Mr. Right” by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack in the September 2010 Family Tree Magazine, and searched for Fadlallahs in other records. And there was one in Chicago in the 1930 census, with a household of unfamiliar names. In that census, my Fadlallah was living with three of his children in Cleveland.

So my momentary bubble burst, but at least I’m not chasing after the wrong ancestor.

The September 2010 “Finding Mr. Right” article has much more on how to tell the difference between two same-named people in the same place, even when their ages and other details are similar: how to create an ID table and a chronology of each person, for example, and researching the best records for distinguishing the individuals. Even handwriting and witnesses on documents can be clues to whether a particular person is or isn’t your man.

Other goodies in this issue:
... and lots more. The September 2010 Family Tree Magazine is available now on newsstands and as a digital download from

Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles | Research Tips
Wednesday, 28 July 2010 16:38:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Favorite Historical Tweeps
Posted by Diane

Twitter has tons of historical trivia to offer. These are some of the fun-to-follow history tweeps I’ve been enjoying (click Comments below to share your favorites):

This online reenactment of the American Revolution will tweet a day-by-day account of the war for eight years.

Tweets of Old
Funny tidbits from old newspapers “attempt to reveal the lives of our predecessors through the tweets of yesteryear.”

Get “today in history” tweets every day, such as this from July 7: “Houdini performed overboard box trick 1st time today in 1912 in East River”

American History Fun Facts
Follow for history trivia, quotes, fun facts and stories from American history.

Historical Tweets
Humorous Twitter messages from the history books, or, what famous people from history might have tweeted. From Johannes Gutenberg on Oct. 3, 1439: “Finally finished invention. Disappointed to learn that no one can read.”

A secret delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 reports on the events through Twitter: “7/25/1787: Convoluted proposal after proposal on how to elect the president. Make up your minds people!”

Mental Floss
Did you know that during the bitter Adams-Jefferson election of 1800, Martha Washington called Jefferson “one of the most detestable of mankind.” Get more off-the-wall trivia (not all of it historical) from the folks behind Mental Floss magazine.

From the Massachusetts Historical Society, peek at John Quincy Adams’ diary, a line at a time.

Monticello staff tweet from Thomas Jefferson’s diary entries 200 years later.

Genealogy fun | Social History | Social Networking
Wednesday, 28 July 2010 09:42:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 27 July 2010
July Family Tree Magazine Podcast Episode Now Live!
Posted by Diane

Hello, all! The free July 2010 Family Tree Magazine Podcast is available for your listening pleasure. In this episode, hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke (who also creates the Genealogy Gems podcast), you’ll:
  • Discover some of the best preservation resources online
  • Learn how to submit photos of your Civil War-era ancestors for our 2010 commemorative Civil War calendar
  • Meet Lindsay, Family Tree Magazine’s summer intern and resident genealogy newbie
  • Find out about the Family Tree Sourcebook, a genealogy records reference appearing in bookstores this fall
You'll find the show notes on, and you can listen there or in iTunes.

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Web Sites | Podcasts
Tuesday, 27 July 2010 14:55:51 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]