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# Friday, July 01, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, June 27-July 1
Posted by Diane

  • If you have an iPad or iPhone, here’s a more educational way than Angry Birds to pass the time, especially on the Fourth of July: MultiEducator’s History on the Go apps  use images, contemporary accounts, multimedia presentations and documents to help you learn about the American Revolution, Civil War, Constitution and Federalist Papers, and more. They’re available for about $5 through the Apple iTunes store (the Constitution app is free).
  • The Civil War Trust, a battlefield preservation organization, has announced Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy, a campaign to raise $40 million for the permanent protection of 20,000 acres of battlefield land over the next five years. An average of 30 acres of battlefield land are lost each day, according to Battle Cry of Freedom author James McPherson.

Civil War | Genealogy Web Sites | Social History
Friday, July 01, 2011 1:18:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, June 30, 2011
Free SAR Records on Ancestry.com This Weekend
Posted by Diane

If you have a Revolutionary War-era Patriot ancestor, applications for the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) lineage society are a great research resource.

These applications are worth a search even if you don't know of a Patriot in your family tree, because they name other ancestors who link SAR applicants to Patriots. You may find an ancestor or collateral relative among one of those names.

Through July 4, you can search SAR applications dating from 1889 to 1970 free on Ancestry.com. (After you hit Search, you’ll be prompted to set up a free account to view your results.) The collection includes 145,000 applications.

Click here to start your search (then select the Free Access Weekend logo on the right).


Ancestry.com | Military records
Thursday, June 30, 2011 11:27:29 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
Research Tips for Your Virginia Ancestors
Posted by Diane


Let’s play the word association game. I'll start:

Virginia genealogy.

“Burned courthouses,” you say? “Early, hard-to-trace immigrants”?

Our Virginia Genealogy Crash Course webinar will show you how to get past research brick walls such as

  • courthouses (and their records) destroyed during the Civil War and in fires and floods at other times
  • hard-to-research Colonial-era immigrants
  • potentially confusing land records due to the carving up of Virginia’s enormous original territory into other states, a maze of courts, and many cities that are independent of their surrounding counties 

You’ll also learn about Virginia records including headrights and vital records, and the best websites for Virginia research (including the Library of Virginia, whose Virginia Memory site has digitized newspapers, military records and other genealogical resources).

The Virginia Genealogy Crash Course webinar, presented by Family Tree Magazine contributing editor David A. Fryxell, takes place Wednesday, July 27, at 7 pm Eastern time (6 pm Central, 5 pm Mountain, 4 pm Pacific).

Attendees will receive a link to view the session again as many times as they like, a PDF of the presentation slides, and Family Tree Magazine’s Virginia State Research Guide.

Click here to find out more about the Virginia Genealogy Crash Course webinar—and take advantage of the 20 percent off early bird registration special.


Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Thursday, June 30, 2011 9:44:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Finding Your Ancestor's 1940 Census Enumeration District
Posted by Diane

I read about the How to Access the 1940 Census in One Step quiz  on Dick Eastman’s blog this morning

The quiz, by One-Step Tools webmaster Steve Morse and friends, is designed to guide you through the site’s tools that help you determine your ancestor’s 1940 census enumeration district (ED). This is important because, when the 1940 census comes out April 2, 2012, you won’t be able to search by name. Instead, you’ll need to find the records for the ED where your ancestor lived and view pages until you find him or her.

(If you don’t mind waiting an as-yet-unknown length of time for a searchable name index to be created, probably by FamilySearch and/or a commercial entity such as Ancestry.com, you may not need to worry about the ED. I say “may not” because if your ancestor gets mis-indexed or the census-taker recorded his name in an unexpected way, you still might need to browse the records.)

Anyway, I tried the quiz for a spin and did indeed find the 1940 ED I needed. Here’s how it worked for me:

Question: Do you know where your family lived on April 1, 1940, the official 1940 census day?

Answer: I chose yes. This was my hint to check the address in my ancestor’s 1942 declaration of intention to naturalize:

Question: Did the family move between 1930 and 1940?

Answer: Yes.

Question: You know where your family was in 1940. Were they:
  • in a rural area or a small urban community (under about 5,000)?
  • in an urban area of 5,000 or more?
  • in an institution (hospital, jail, orphanage, etc)?
  • outside the US proper but under US jurisdiction? 

Answer: They lived in Cleveland, Ohio, an urban area of 5,000 or more.

Question: Check to see if the city is on the One Step 1940 Large City ED Finder Tool. Go to this tool, choose the state or possession, and look in the city dropdown box. Do you see your city listed there?

Answer: I clicked the link to the 1040 ED Finder, chose Ohio from the state dropdown menu, and yes, Cleveland was in the city menu. 

Question: OK, now to use the above One Step tool, choose the state and city and then enter the street and cross streets for the house at which your family lived.

Answer: I went back to the 1940 ED Finder, which looked like this:

I chose my ancestors’ street, Franklin Blvd, and was directed to choose a cross street.

Um, cross street? Luckily, at the bottom of the page you can enter a house number and generate a Google, Yahoo! or MapQuest map of the location, like this one:


I chose 47th W. as the cross street and was rewarded with:

The "View microfilm " link gives you a message that the 1940 census images are not available. Looks like Morse is planning to link the ED numbers to the record images when they're released on NARA's website ext year.

I tried other quiz answers, too: 

  • Basically, if you don’t know where your ancestors lived in 1940, you’ll get suggestions for records to check.
  • If you know where they lived in 1940 and they hadn't moved since 1930, you’ll be directed to the site’s 1930-to-1940 ED Conversion tool (EDs changed from census to census).
  • If your ancestors lived in a small-ish town or rural area, the area may not yet be covered in the One Step 1940 ED Finder, in which case you’re directed to National Archives’ ED maps (not yet online). Those will be easier to use if you know the street address. 
  • If you don't know the address in the small-ish town or rural area, you can use the One Step ED Definition Tool to choose a state and county, then search on a community name. If the name is in the definitions, you’ll get back a list of possible EDs where you can start your census search. 

Now, the trick is not losing the sticky note I wrote the ED on.

You can read all about the 1940 census in the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine's Complete Census Guide. Family Tree Magazine Plus members can read the 1940 census article here.


census records | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 2:42:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, June 28, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: First US Naval Officer Killed
Posted by Diane

June 28, 1861, the Pawnee arrived at the Washington, DC, Navy Yard carrying the body of Capt. James H. Ward, the first US Naval officer killed during the American Civil War

The previous day, Ward, who was in command of a flotilla in the Chesapeake Bay, send a landing party to meet Southern forces at Mathias Point in King George County, Va. They met resistance, and Ward was shot after he moved the ships in to cover for the landing party as it retreated.

At the beginning of the war, the US Navy had just 90 ships; it grew to 670 ships and 50,000 sailors by mid-1964. The Confederate Navy had 130 warships and 4,000 men at its largest.

Dramatic events such as battles and shore bombardments were the exception to the rule for sailors, according to the book Life in Civil War America:

“Sailors spent the majority of their time performing routine duties or combating the effects of tedium. Running a ship required constant if monotonous activity; unlike soldiers, seamen tended not to have much idle time on their hands. An exception to this was, of course, Union soldiers on board blockading ships, who often complained of boredom in journals and letters.”

You’ll use different resources to trace a Civil War sailor than you would if researching a soldier. Start with the resources in this free FamilyTreeMagazine.com article on tracing Union and Confederate sailors.


Civil War | Military records
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 4:51:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
Get 'Em While You Can! Tips on Research Trips, Organization, SC Genealogy
Posted by Diane

I wanted to give you all a heads-up that we’re down to the last few days you can get these three ShopFamilyTree.com genealogy helps, at least at deeply discounted prices:

ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 9:44:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, June 27, 2011
Pointers for Finding Your Ancestors' Naturalization Records
Posted by Diane

Fitting that July 4, the day we commemorate adoption of the Declaration of Independence, is a popular day for citizenship swearing-in ceremonies. Big ones happen every year at Monticello, the Virginia home of Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson, and at Seattle Center, among other places.

(My immigrant great-grandfather, who wasn’t naturalized on the Fourth of July, gives his birthday on most records as July 4, 1881—I don’t know if he was actually born that day, or he just knew it was a big day in his new country.)

Here are some pointers on finding your ancestors’ naturalization records:

  • Not all immigrants became citizens, and some waited until long after they first arrived in the United States. Typically, men who were birds of passage (they traveled between their homeland and America several times before settling here) didn't rush to become citizens.
  • Your ancestor could file papers at any courthouse. He could even begin the process in one court and finish it another. Aliens more often applied at county and state courts than at the federal level because the fee was usually lower and it was often closer to home. To find naturalization records before 1906, you’ll need to check municipal, county, state and federal courthouses where the immigrant lived. 
  • After 1906, courts had to file copies of naturalizations with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now US Citizenship and Naturalization Services, or USCIS). You can order copies of these records for your ancestor from the USCIS Genealogy Service
  • Online sources of naturalization records and/or indexes to naturalization records for various parts of the country include subscription sites Ancestry.com and Footnote.com, and the free FamilySearch.
  • Many naturalization records and the indexes have been microfilmed. Search for them in the Family History Library Catalog by running a Place search for the state and county (the city, too, if it's a large urban area), then look under Naturalization and Citizenship. You can rent film through a branch FamilySearch Center near you.

You can see how I found my great-grandfather’s naturalization records here

Other naturalization records how-to resources from Family Tree Magazine include:


immigration records | Research Tips
Monday, June 27, 2011 4:30:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, June 24, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, June 20-24
Posted by Diane

  • The National Genealogical Society has created The NGS Weekly, a “newspaper” that pulls feeds from various genealogy blog posts. You can subscribe to get e-mail notifications when the page is updated.

Civil War | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Friday, June 24, 2011 1:21:58 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, June 22, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: Religion
Posted by Diane

On a site called Baptists and the American Civil War: In Their Own Words, I found a diary entry by John Beauchamp Jones, a novelist and reporter who went to work for the Confederate government in Richmond. (The site is a digital project by historian Bruce T. Gourley, executive director of the Baptist History and Heritage Society.)

June 22, 1861, Jones wrote about a chance meeting with Confederate president Jefferson Davis. It begins “Fighting for our homes and holy altars, there is no intermission on Sunday.”

He goes on to describe a chance encounter with Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the office on a Sunday, helping Davis find a letter in his secretary’s office. You can read the entire diary entry here.

A bit from Life in Civil War America about the Baptist denomination of the time:

On the eve of the Civil War, Baptists were one of the largest denominations in the country and among those that were considerably more widespread and influential in the South than in the North.

At the time of the war, there were some 11,219 Baptist churches in the country, with about two-thirds in Southern states (an especially telling proportion when one considers that the white population of the North was about three-and-a-half times larger than that of the South). Value of Baptist church property was an estimated $19,746,378.

In 1845, Northern and Southern Baptists split over the issue of slavery, and the latter formed a separate denomination under the Southern Baptist Convention. 

Other large denominations at the time included Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans and Roman Catholics, though Americans were active in many faiths. Interestingly, Abraham Lincoln was the first US president to use the phrase "One nation under God," but he wasn't baptized and never joined a church.

Here's our listing of organizations for researching religious records.

You can nominate a Civil War event for this series—just click Comments below or e-mail me.


Church records | Civil War | Social History
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 3:45:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Research Trip Tips in the Latest Family Tree Magazine Free Podcast
Posted by Diane

Hit the road with us this summer! The June episode of the free Family Tree Magazine podcast, hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems, offers up advice for taking research trips and preserving your ancestors' souvenirs.

We’ll also discuss rapper 50 Cent’s journey to South Carolina to learn about his roots, the Early American Roads and Trails website, and our state research webinars.

You can listen through iTunes and on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.


Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Genealogy Web Sites | Podcasts | Research Tips
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 1:19:11 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]