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# Monday, August 09, 2010
Sources for Free Online Family and Local Histories
Posted by Diane

I’ve been editing the Published Genealogies classes for Family Tree University, and I wanted to share these sources of free online family histories and local histories.

I've listed sources with broad geographic coverage first, followed by sources focusing on a particular state or locality. Of course, this list isn’t comprehensive—libraries and societies all over the place are putting books online. Click Comments below this post to add sources you know of.

Broad coverage

BYU Family History Archive: More than 17,000 items from the Family History Library, Allen County Public Library, Houston Public Library Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Mid-Continent Public Library Midwest Genealogy Center, BYU Harold B. Lee Library, BYU Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church History Library

eHistory.com: Find The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (aka the OR) and other mostly military titles

Google Books: Zillions of searchable books on all topics (many are free to read, especially older books, but books still covered by copyright may have limited or no preview)

HeritageQuest Online, accessible through public, state and university libraries that offer this service (ask at your library’s reference desk): More than 25,000 searchable family and local history books

Internet Archive: millions of books from libraries around the world

Library of Congress: Many books from the 1500s and 1600s about early explorations and world cultures, as well as US works including a farmer’s almanac with handwritten notes by George Washington

Making of America at quod.lib.umich.edu/m/moagrp and digital.library.cornell.edu/m/moa (different material is found on each site): Material covers Acadians, individuals and families, geographic areas and more

Project Gutenburg: Browse “bookshelves” on topics such as slavery, suffrage, witchcraft, bestsellers and more

State and local coverage

Digital Library of Georgia: The Anne Fannie Gorham Civil War diary, Living in Savannah scrapbook project, oral histories, titles from the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library and more

Historic Pittsburgh: City directories, local and church histories, University of Pittsburgh alumni directories and more

The Kansas Collection Books: Transcribed (rather than scanned) books from and about Kansas’ past

Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Digital Library: The history and genealogy section includes county histories, city directories, ships’ log books, The Black Brigade of Cincinnati and more

Quinnipiac University Digitized Connecticut History Books: Biographies, regimental histories, local histories and more

Wisconsin Historical Society Digital Collections: Pioneer memoirs and interviews, books on state history and more

The Family Tree University Published Genealogies course covers how to find and use genealogies in your research. The next course starts August 16—see FamilyTreeUniversity.com for more information and to register.


Family Tree University | Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Monday, August 09, 2010 1:37:46 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, August 06, 2010
Ancestry.com Acquires Research Firm ProGenealogists
Posted by Diane

Subscription site Ancestry.com just announced it has acquired Salt Lake City-based professional genealogy research firm ProGenealogists.

The acquisition adds to the research services business Ancestry.com launched last year with Expert Connect.

ProGenealogists has been operating for 15 years and employs a roster of more than 30 researchers including Natalie Cottrill, Kory L. Meyerink, Kyle J. Betit and Judith Wight. You may remember some of these names as the researchers who helped celebrities find their roots on the NBC television show “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Ancestry.com, a partner in the show, “will continue leveraging the expertise at ProGenealogists for similar initiatives in the future,” according to a press release.

The press release also stated that ProGenealogists will “continue to provide premier family history research to its existing clients while extending the Ancestry.com reach across the genealogy value chain.”


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com | Genealogy Industry
Friday, August 06, 2010 2:37:58 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy News Corral: Aug. 2-6
Posted by Diane

  • Families is a new app for the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad that works in conjunction with  the windows-based family tree program Legacy Family Tree. You can transfer Legacy family files from your PC to your mobile device, then view and edit them. (You’ll need to download a free program called Families Sync to your PC in order to transfer the files.) Families is available at the Apple App store. Learn more on the Families website.

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | UK and Irish roots | Vital Records
Friday, August 06, 2010 1:40:59 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, August 05, 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, August 05, 2010 10:51:58 AM (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 ShopFamilyTree.com. (You can get all the state guides on CD or in book form.)


Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Research Tips
Thursday, August 05, 2010 9:49:20 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, August 04, 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 ShopFamilyTree.com.

Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, August 04, 2010 11:30:43 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, August 03, 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 FamilyTreeMagazine.com. 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 FamilyTreeMagazine.com. For more guidance, see these resources from ShopFamilyTree.com:


Family Heirlooms
Tuesday, August 03, 2010 4:31:16 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, August 02, 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 University.com:
You also can visit FamilyTreeUniversity.com 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, August 02, 2010 3:21:51 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, July 30, 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, July 30, 2010 9:33:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, July 28, 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 About.com 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 Ancestry.com, 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 Ancestry.com’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, July 28, 2010 5:34:22 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]