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# Thursday, August 04, 2011
Organizing Grandma's Archive
Posted by Allison

Speaking of organization challenges, in the November 2011 issue, I ask for readers’ help with a dilemma: how to sort and store the genealogy archive my grandmother passed on to me. I’m not one to make a mountain out of a molehill ... But this actually resembles a mountain:



For her part, Grandma did manage to loosely organize the collection into boxes for specific relatives or branches of the family.







She also sorted scores of family letters into binders.



Still, some material isn't sorted or labeled. Along with the treasures are random non-genealogy-related items that need to be weeded out. And none of it is stored in what you could call an archivally friendly manner.

I'll admit the prospect of reorganizing and digitizing this mountain of memories has overwhelmed me. So I'll pose the same question to all of you family and professional archivists out there: What's your advice for making this project manageable?

Can't wait to hear your suggestions.

Family Heirlooms | saving and sharing family history
Thursday, August 04, 2011 1:42:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [29]
# Wednesday, August 03, 2011
You Could Win Photo-Organization Help!
Posted by Diane

Got a photo mess like this one on your hands? Old, unlabeled family pictures spilling out of shoe boxes, falling out of albums and deteriorating in the attic or basement?

Show us your photo mess, and you could win a safe place to store your family photo archive, plus expert photo preservation advice from Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor 

To enter, submit a picture of your photo mess along with a short plea (fewer than 150 words) convincing us why you need photo-organization help. You can submit your photo and short story either of these ways:

Family Tree Magazine editors will choose the entry displaying the worst photo mess and the most-convincing plea for help, as well as two runners-up.

One grand-prize winner will receive $250 worth of archival-quality photo-organization supplies and a signed copy of the book Preserving Your Family Photographs by Taylor. Two runners-up will each receive a signed copy of the book.

We’ll announce the winners in the March 2012 Family Tree Magazine. The entry deadline is Aug. 31, 2011. See more Photo Organization Contest details here


Photos
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 10:02:16 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
FamilySearch Adds Records, Launches YouTube Channel
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has added new records from the United States and seven other countries—Canada, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, and Poland—to its record search.

Updates to US collections total 1.8 million records, including the South Dakota 1945 state census, New York court records, Indiana marriage records and Utah Indian Wars service affidavits.

Note that in many cases, the updates consist of unindexed digitized documents, meaning you won’t find them using the search on FamilySearch’s home page. Instead, you’ll need to browse the collections by date or place (however the records are organized).

Click here to see a list of the updated collections, whether each one is indexed, and a link to each collection

FamilySearch also has announced it’s launching a YouTube channel Aug. 4. You can preview it now by watching Genealogy in Five Minutes: Learn From Family (this one’s actually 6 minutes and 8 seconds long), with tips on talking to relatives about family history.

The video is part of what'll be a 24-episode series offering quick tips on various aspects of genealogy. When the channel launches, you’ll also be able to watch inspirational videos, those highlighting the lighter side of genealogy, a series on societies and archives, how-to videos and others.


FamilySearch | Research Tips
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 9:40:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Save Your Genealogical Sanity
Posted by Diane

Do you have dents in your forehead from banging it against a brick wall? Our August Ultimate Collection is designed to save your forehead, your sanity, and your genealogical motivation with solutions to research brick walls such as

  • missing records due to fires, flood and other disasters
  • hard-to-find ancestors in censuses and passenger lists
  • pre-1850, head-of-household censuses
  • ancestors born (or married or died) before vital record-keeping
  • not knowing where to look next

The Family Tree Ultimate Research Solutions Collection has expert advice and ideas for conquering genealogy challenges, including

  • The Family Tree Problem Solver, revised edition, by Marsha Hoffman Rising: It has techniques for approaching real genealogy problems, plus case studies so you can see the advice in action. This edition includes new information about online research and using DNA research. 
  • 101 Brick Wall Busters: Solutions to Overcome Your Genealogical Challenges: This Q&A book answers research questions from Family Tree Magazine readers. 
  • Brick Wall Strategies: Advice and Ideas for Getting Past Research Dead Ends on-demand webinar: Learn how to assess your research problems and formulate a plan of attack for solving them.
  • Reverse Genealogy: Family Tree University Independent Study Course download: This course teaches you tactics to research your family tree forward (the opposite of what genealogists usually do) to find living relatives.

The Ultimate Research Solutions Collection is $59.99, a 67 percent discount, during August. Only 39 (and counting down) are still up for grabs, so get yours while you can!


Editor's Pick | Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, August 02, 2011 11:26:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Friday, July 29, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, July 25-29
Posted by Diane

  • Stanford University has put together a cool visual timeline of US newspaper publication from 1690 to today, using data from the Library of Congress Chronicling America newspaper directory. The map shows where newspapers were published during various years and eras, with different-sized and –colored city or town markers to indicate the number of papers published there and foreign-language newspapers. Click on a marker and the names of papers published there appear below the map.

Here’s more information on our blog about Chronicling America. Genealogy expert Timothy Pinnick recommended the site as a resource for finding African-American newspapers in our February 2011 podcast

  • If you’re escaping the heat inside tonight and wondering what to do, give GeneaBloggers Radio a listen. The weekly Friday night internet radio show, hosted by Thomas MacEntee, starts at 10pm EDT, 9pm CDT, 8pm MDT, and 7pm PDT. Tonight’s episode is about capturing your personal family history. Click here to learn more about it and tune in
  • Traveling to the National Archives in Washington, DC, in September? Look into attending the archives’ genealogy programs on Freedom of Information Act requests (Sept. 6), military records (Sept. 7), census searching strategies (Sept. 10) and more. On Sept. 10 from noon to 4 pm, you can make a 20 minute appointment with an archivist for individual help. See the list of September programs and descriptions here.

Genealogy Events | NARA | Newspapers
Friday, July 29, 2011 9:57:36 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9]
# Thursday, July 28, 2011
This Land Is Your Land
Posted by Diane

Do you have an ancestor's deed or land patent? The strange-looking land description containing letters and fractions is called “aliquot parts.” If you can decode the description, you’ll be able to figure out exactly where your ancestor’s land was.

Aliquot parts is an important element in the public land survey system (PLSS), also called the rectangular survey system, which was used to survey and divvy up land starting shortly after the Revolutionary War.

States with land surveyed under the PLSS, called Public Land States, are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

That's everything except the original 13 states, Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas and Hawaii. (Parts of Ohio were surveyed with the old metes-and-bounds system, too.)  

The PLSS established principal meridians—imaginary north-south lines—to serve as the starting point for surveying each 24x24-mile tract. A tract is divided into 16 townships; townships (23,040 acres) contain 36 sections, each 1 square mile (640 acres), like this: 

A section could be split into halves, quarters or other parts. A description of your ancestor’s subdivision on a land record might look like N½ SW¼, which you’d read as “the north half of the southwest quarter.”

Here’s an example of how land might be divided and described in aliquot parts:

This free FamilyTreeMagazine.com article has more information about the PLSS and the Bureau of Land Management’s free federal land patent site.

One of the video sessions in Family Tree University’s Summer 2011 Virtual Conference, Aug. 19-21, is Diana Crisman Smith’s demo on platting your ancestors’ properties using PLSS. Learn more about the conference and register here


Family Tree University | Land records | Research Tips
Thursday, July 28, 2011 9:19:52 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9]
# Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Take Yourself Back to Genealogy School
Posted by Diane


Our next round of Family Tree University courses starts up Aug. 1, and you can get 20 percent off your tuition with offer code FTU0811

These classes start Aug. 1:

A refresher course on how FTU works: You download a lesson each week and work through it at your own pace, then practice your skills in an assignment you turn in to your instructor. You also can communicate with class members and the instructor via a private message board, or on-on-one with your instructor via e-mail. 

Take this opportunity to save a few bucks, bust through some brick walls, improve your research skills and rejuvenate your family search!


Family Tree University
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 11:32:40 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, July 26, 2011
In the Trenches
Posted by Diane

As the former capital of the Confederate States, Richmond, Va., is ringed by Civil War battlefields. I was determined to visit one of them on a recent road trip to see family. I settled on Cold Harbor, one of several sites that make up the Richmond National Battlefield Park.

The Battle of Cold Harbor, May 31-June 12, 1864, was part of Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, during which Confederate troops defended Richmond with six miles of trenches.

I picked up a brochure and map at the small visitor center, then we drove the short park loop and walked a trail tracing over and around the remains of trenches soldiers dug 150 years ago. (My husband gets props for pushing Leo’s stroller up and down the gravel path in Virginia humidity).

The ground looked like corduroy. Markers explained how for days soldiers would crouch in misery in the trenches. They dug “zig zags” between lines of trenches so they could retrieve supplies without getting their heads blown off. They would top the trench with a header log and shoot through a narrow gap below it.

This depression is a rifle pit occupied by a Union soldier. It was the closest position to enemy lines, just 50 yards from Confederate rifle pits.

Most fighting at Cold Harbor took place June 1-3, when Union forces launched assaults. They were unsuccessful. "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made,” Grant wrote in his memoirs. “No advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained." 

On June 3 alone, nearly 6,000 Union soldiers were killed or wounded, most in just an hour’s time. Both sides’ casualties over the two weeks totaled 16,000. A nearby creek was named Bloody Run. According to the brochure, Cold Harbor was the beginning of modern trench warfare, showing how trenches, supported by artillery, were practically impenetrable.

I have to admit that my eyes tend to glaze over when faced with a battlefield map full of lines and arrows. But standing in the places where soldiers took cover in trenches, hid in rifle pits and charged across fields opened a small window into the past and helped me understand what happened 150 years ago. 

You can listen to a podcast tour of the Battle of Cold Harbor, with vivid battle descriptions, on the Civil War Traveler website

See our slideshow of Civil War images on FamilyTreeMagazine.com here and get resources for researching Civil War ancestors here

You also can sign up for our Family Tree University course Civil War Research: Find Your Ancestors in the War Between the States with instructor Diana Crisman Smith. The next session starts Aug. 1, and you can use code FTU0811 to get 20 percent off your tuition.


Civil War | Family Tree University | Historic preservation | Social History
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 4:30:47 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Friday, July 22, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, July 18-22
Posted by Diane

I'm back at it after a short vacation (which involved my first visit to a Civil War battlefield—I'll show and tell next week) to post this week's news roundup. Here goes:
  • The new Black Sea German Research site is for those tracing families who migrated from Germany, Alsace, Poland or Hungary to the Black Sea region of South Russia (now Ukraine) in the early 1800s. Search a database of names, upload your GEDCOM and share historical information at this free, volunteer-run site.
  • NBC is re-running “Who Do You Think You Are?” season 2 episodes Saturday nights this summer. Check your local listings if you missed an episode or want to watch your favorite again.

Canadian roots | Celebrity Roots | German roots | Photos | UK and Irish roots
Friday, July 22, 2011 2:14:46 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Thursday, July 21, 2011
150 Years Ago in the Civil War: Battle of Bull Run
Posted by Diane

The first major battle of the Civil War took place July 21, 1861, near Manasses, Va. The First Battle of Bull Run, also called the First Battle of Manasses, involved 15,000 Union and 14,000 Confederate soldiers.
 
The Confederate victory sent Union troops retreating toward Washington, DC. Michael O. Varhola, the author of Life in Civil War America, reports that 460 men were killed and 1,124 wounded on the Union side, and 387 killed and 1,582 wounded on the Confederate side.
 
This was the battle where Confederate Gen. Thomas Jonathan Jackson, relatively unknown until then, got the nickname “Stonewall” for standing his ground.
 
Soon after the battle, President Lincoln replaced Gen. Irvin McDowell with Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan. The North was shocked by the loss, and both sides began to realize they were in for a longer, bloodier war than expected.


Civil War | Genealogy Events
Thursday, July 21, 2011 8:28:44 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]