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# Friday, March 30, 2012
1940 Census: So Many Records, So Few Eyes
Posted by Diane

This man is:

A) Taking his 1940 census searching WAY too far.

B) Brilliant.

Want to speed up your census search (without buying more computers)? Get tips and watch our free video on finding family in the 1940 census.

Also check out our upcoming Family Tree University course Finding Ancestors in the US Census: Online and Offline Strategies. This genealogy course is $39.99 for the April 30 session only—a $60 savings off the regular price!


census records | Genealogy fun
Friday, March 30, 2012 2:00:52 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Genealogy News Corral, March 26-30
Posted by Diane

  • More than a million Westminster Parish baptism, marriage and burial records dating back to 1538 now available on subscription and pay-as-you-go site findmypast.co.uk. The records come from 50-plus Westminster churches. More Westminster records will go live over the coming months, along with cemetery registers, wills, rate books, settlement examinations, workhouse admission and discharge books, bastardy, orphan and apprentice records, charity documents, and militia and watch records.
  • The 2012 Houston, Texas, Family History Expo takes place Friday and Saturday, April 6 and 7. The keynote speaker is Family Tree Magazine's own podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke, and instructors include frequent contributor Lisa A. Alzo. You can register online or at the door, for the whole conference or just one day, or even a single class. Learn more on the Family History Expos website.

Archives.com | census records | Fold3 | Footnote | Genealogy Events | MyHeritage | UK and Irish roots
Friday, March 30, 2012 11:49:57 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
This Sunday on "Finding Your Roots:" Barbara Walters and Geoffrey Canada
Posted by Diane

Remember to watch "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr." this Sunday evening at 8 p.m. ET on PBS. It'll feature the family histories of tv journalist Barbara Walters and Geoffrey Canada, president of the Harlem Children’s Zone.

Bonus: You'll also see  New England Historic Genealogical Society senior researcher Rhonda McClure in action solving Canada's ancestral mysteries.

Here's a preview video in which Canada visits the farm where his enslaved ancestor Thomas lived.

Watch Both Sides of Slavery on PBS. See more from


African-American roots | Celebrity Roots | Genealogy societies | Videos
Friday, March 30, 2012 11:32:25 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, March 29, 2012
This Friday on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Rita Wilson
Posted by Diane

This Friday on "Who Do You Think You Are?", Rita Wilson explores her roots in Greece and Bulgaria.

In this preview video, shot in Plovdiv, Bulgaria (also part of the historical region of Thrace, which I learned about while editing the May/June Family Tree Magazine article on Greek genealogy), Wilson uncovers a secret about her father's past:

 

Here, she meets her uncle for the first time. Word of advice: Grab a tissue.


Incidentally, Bulgaria can be a difficult place to research genealogy, as we pointed out in the September 2007 Family Tree Magazine. If your ancestors hail from there, this show may hold some valuable tips.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Videos
Thursday, March 29, 2012 12:03:45 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 28, 2012
1940 Census Classes and Events
Posted by Diane

The National Archives is webcasting its 1940 census opening ceremonies next Monday, April 2 at 8:30 a.m. As the big day gets closer, the link to view the ceremony will be posted at 1940census.archives.gov.

If you’re on Twitter, go to the early bird tweet-up beforehand, where you can meet the ceremony speakers and chat with a genealogy expert. RSVP to 1940census@archives.gov.

The archives also is hosting and participating in 1940 census workshops across the country. View the Washington DC events schedule here, and events around the country here and here.

Libraries and genealogical societies all over the United States are holding their own workshops to help you find ancestors in the 1940 census. Here's a sampling—check library and society websites for classes near you:

  • California: Live it up in Oakland at a 1940 Census Party, organized by the African-American Genealogical Society of Northern California, the California Genealogical Society and Library, and the Oakland Family History Center. The event is April 9, 2012, from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Oakland Family History Center. Learn more an d register here.

The Allen County, Ind., public library is holding Introduction to the 1940 Census workshops April 2 at 2:30 p.m. and April 7 at 10 a.m. Get more details on the library's events calendar.

Attend Searching for your ancestors in the 1940 Federal Census April Thursday, April 12, at 3:15 at the New York Public Library in New York City.
  • Tennessee: On April 14, the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville will host a seminar on the 1940 census April 14 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. It's free, but reservations are required due to limited seating availability. Click here for contact information.
Looking for an online learning opportunity? Try these from Family Tree Magazine:

census records | Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives | NARA | Videos
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 9:23:46 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Finding Your Ancestors' Probate Records
Posted by Diane


If you have dead ancestors, you should learn about probate records, it's been said. Probate files can be rich sources of genealogical information, and even poor folks might've left them.

So I hear, anyway. I haven't actually used probate records. Like many genealogists, I'm not quite sure how to approach them. And I need to get my act together fast, because I'm headed to the Cuyahoga County Probate Court this month

Good thing our Using Probate Records live webinar, presented by professional researcher Marian Pierre-Louis, is Thursday, April 5 at 8 p.m. ET.

Using Probate Records webinar

Marian will show you: 

  • What probate records are
  • How to find probate records
  • Different types of probate records
  • What you'll find in a typical probate record
  • How to make it easier to access probate records
  • Why probate records are critical to your genealogical success

Here's the basic info on the Using Probate Records webinar:

  • Date: Thursday, April 5, 2012
  • Starting time: 8 p.m. Eastern (7 Central/ 6 Mountain/ 5 Pacific)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Price: $49.99 ($39.99 special if you register before April 2)
As usual, registered attendees will be able to download the presentation and slides to view again whenever they want. Click here to register for the Using Probate Records webinar in ShopFamilyTree.com.
 
court records | Editor's Pick | Webinars
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 12:09:38 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, March 26, 2012
Eight Excuses to Tell Your Spouse, Kids, Coworkers and Friends So You Can Search the 1940 Census in Peace
Posted by Diane

Start memorizing these excuses now! You'll need them to roll right off your tongue next week when you're forgetting about dinner, ignoring the house and putting off work in order to search the 1940 census:

Your spouse:

  • "I'm just trying to deal with some schedule problems. Sorry it's taking so long."

  • “Can it wait? I’m busy doing taxes.”

Your kids:

  • “I was on the internet ordering you presents just for being so good. Now go do your homework before I change my mind.”

Your coworkers:

  • “___ , hold my calls. I’m going to be tied up with the Washington account all day.”

Your boss:

  • "I was just pulling together those names—er, I mean numbers—you requested." (Important: Have a spreadsheet open you can click to if your boss pops up over your shoulder.)

Your friends:

  • “Can’t make it to choir practice/book club/happy hour on Monday—I’ve got a nasty case of enumeritis.”

  • “I can’t talk right now. I'm spending time with relatives.”

  • “Tonight’s not good. I have a date with Steve Morse.”

Want to speed up your census search? Get tips and watch our free video on finding family in the 1940 census at FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

Check out our upcoming Family Tree University course Finding Ancestors in the US Census: Online and Offline Strategies. This genealogy course is just $39.99 for the April 30 session only—a $60 savings off the regular price!


census records | Genealogy fun
Monday, March 26, 2012 3:40:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates: Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis
Posted by Diane

I guess you can feel good about plopping down on the couch for another hour of TV-watching if it’s for work. And if it’s history-related.

Last night’s "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.," traced several ancestors of Harry Connick, Jr., and Branford Marsalis. (Watch it here if you missed it or look for a rebroadcast this week on PBS.)

The show spent quite a bit of time on the two men's childhoods and friendship in New Orleans. I was especially excited to see them at the Musician’s Village, a Habitat for Humanity community the two sponsor and where I got to help build houses several years ago. The show also has Connick and Marsalis playing at Preservation Hall, which I visited on the same trip.

Back to the genealogy: Gates presented Harry and Branford each with a “Book of Life,” basically, a scrapbook of the records the show’s researchers found.

Researchers discovered that Marsalis’ surname came from a white Dutch slave owner in Mississippi. A son of that man's slave married Marsalis’ great-great-grandmother Lizzie—but her son Simion, Marsalis great-grandfather, was three years old when that marriage took place. Simion’s father was likely Lizzie's previous husband, a man named Isaac Black.

I was glad we saw an archivist looking... and looking ... and looking for records of one of Marsalis' ancestors at the New Orleans Public Library and in cemeteries before he finally found something. That's reality.

Connick was relieved to learn his Irish ancestor, a famine immigrant named James Connick, didn’t own slaves—but was disappointed that he fought for the Confederacy for three years.

Gates explains that it wasn't necessarily because James supported slavery. His work would've dried up during the war, and there may have been no other way to make a living. The researchers found a military pension record for James, though it doesn't seem to indicate what kind of injury he might've suffered.

Connick's fifth-great-grandfather, David McCullough from Pennsylvania, was an infamous privateer on the ship Rattlesnake. He captured ships in the West Indies and would send the bounties back to the United States. The British crown had a 5,000-guinea reward on McCullough's head.

To demonstrate how varied our heritage is, Gates had black friends from his local barbershop guess their percentages of African, White and Indian heritage, then had them take DNA tests (the show didn’t explain margins of error). Most weren't too far on their white and black percentages, but had overestimated their American Indian blood. 

Immediately after the Harry Connick Jr./Branford Marsalis episode was another featuring Newark, NJ, mayor Cory Booker and US Rep. John Lewis. I had to get to bed at that point. You can watch this one online, too.

"Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr." is airing Sunday nights at 8 ET on PBS.


African-American roots | Celebrity Roots
Monday, March 26, 2012 11:18:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Helen Hunt
Posted by Diane

In Friday’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” Helen Hunt explored her father’s side of the family tree. I caught parts of it between severe weather updates, and finally yesterday I was able to see the whole thing on Hulu (shortly before watching "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.").

Hunt's family tree seemed full of distinguished ancestors. She starts with her great-grandmother Florence Rothenburg—a name later changed to Roberts, which a historian explains would’ve made life easier for the Jewish-American family—in New York City in 1900.

After her husband died, Florence took her four small children to Pasadena, Calif., a move that seemed strange for a newly widowed woman. But it turned out that California was home for Florence.

Florence’s father was one of the Scholle brothers, clothiers who started out in New York. Florence’s father (Hunt's great-great-grandfather) William Scholle opened a branch in San Francisco to serve the Gold Rush pioneers.

He built the business to the point he was listed in a newspaper article about local millionaires. In 1890, he was an investor, along with Isaias Hellman, Levi Strauss and others, in the Nevada Bank (it merged with Wells Fargo in 1905).

That was Hunt’s dad’s mother’s family. Next, in Portland, Maine, she learns about the paternal side. Her great-great-grandmother was Augusta Hunt, a local leader in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

Hunt was almost reluctant to learn more—her impression of the WCTU was that of a group of teetotalers who wanted to restrict everyone else’s freedoms. But a historian explained the extent of alcohol abuse at the time and the suffering it caused, particularly for women and children.

As part of the WCTU, Augusta supported a variety of causes, including female suffrage—and she lived long enough to see the 19th amendment passed. An obituary stated she was the first woman in Portland to cast her vote.

I noticed Hunt's voice-overs in this episode would say “I’m meeting so-and-so, whom I’ve asked to research my ancestor so-and-so.” Past episodes have been presented more as a collaboration between the celebrity and researcher (whether or not that was actually the case), with the celebrity doing more active searching. I wonder if this is a new approach?

I appreciated all the history in this episode and the lesson to learn historical context before making assumptions about your ancestors. Ironically, early on we learned that Hunt’s grandmother—Augusta’s daughter-in-law—was killed by a drunk driver when Hunt’s dad was 5 years old.

The scene in which Hunt goes home to share everything she learned with her dad didn’t make the final episode. For those who love this part of the show, here’s the deleted scene:

If you have New York City ancestors, check out our New York City Research Guide, a digital download in ShopFamilyTree.com.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Monday, March 26, 2012 9:52:20 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, March 23, 2012
1940 Census, Simplified: What You Really Need to Know, in 7 Key Points
Posted by Diane

You've been hearing about the 1940 census from several organizations that'll be hosting the records, and all that information coming at you from various sources might seem confusing.

To help you digest all those details, I'm summarizing and simplifying them here into what you really need to know about where the 1940 census records and indexes will be. Here it is:

1. On April 2 at 9 a.m., the only place you'll be able to find online 1940 census records for the entire country is 1940census.archives.gov. This website was made possible through the National Archives' contract with genealogy company Archives.com.

2. Shortly after the initial release, other websites will begin adding the records as fast as they can. Those include:

3. For the first week to several weeks after April 2, the only way to find your ancestor's 1940 census record will be to browse by enumeration district.

You can find out what an enumeration district is and how to pinpoint the right one by watching our free video on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

4. Three separate projects to index these census records by name will begin ASAP after the records are released:

The 1940 Census Community Project is recruiting volunteers to do the indexing; Ancestry.com and MyHeritage are using paid contractors to do their indexing work.

5. Each site will add its index one state at a time, as states are completed. No site has specified the order in which states will be indexed, so at this time there's no telling when a particular site will add your ancestor's state. It could be weeks or months before a given site posts the index you need (so you'll want to check all the above sites periodically).

6. Ancestry.com is completing its index in two phases: a basic name index to be released first on a state-by-state basis, then a more-detailed index with additional information to follow. This means you may have access to a searchable basic name index for your ancestral state earlier on Ancestry.com than on another site.

7. Watch out for sites that try to charge for access to 1940 census records. There is no need to pay for 1940 census records. They'll be available online, free, at the sites mentioned in No. 2.


Get help finding your ancestors in the US census with these resources from Family Tree Magazine:


Ancestry.com | Archives.com | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage
Friday, March 23, 2012 3:07:17 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]