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Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Tabloid Divorces Have Nothing on These Ancestors
Posted by Diane
week I promised to tell you how I got my
third-great-grandparents’ divorce record.
It went on my genealogy to-do list after a random search of
historical newspaper website GenealogyBank resulted
in newspaper notices when my third-great-grandmother filed for
divorce in 1879 (below), and again when the divorce was granted
two years later.
You know when you think something is going to be a big ordeal so
you procrastinate, then when you finally get the ball rolling it
turns out to be a piece of cake and you wish you did it ages ago?
I had checked FamilySearch.org,
Ancestry.com and USGenWeb to see if I could get digital or
microfilmed copies. Nope. So I thought I’d have to figure out
which of the two county courthouses to go to, find time to make
the trip, get a babysitter, search out the records, and so on.
When I started planning a visit and called the courthouse (after
first checking online for info on old records), the nice lady
there said, “Oh, we don’t keep records that far back,” at which
point I may have made strange choking sounds. Then she continued,
“You’ll have to call the state archives in Frankfort.”
I checked the Kentucky
State Archives’ website and learned it does have divorce
records from the time and place I needed, and you can print
a request form to fill out and
send with a $15 fee. Easy peasy.
A few days later, I had an email from a state archivist. The file
was 103 pages(!) and I’d need to send an additional fee for copies
of the whole thing.
When I called to pay over the phone, I asked the archivist what’s
typically in a historical divorce file, just to make sure I wouldn’t be
ordering a bunch of blank pages. She flipped through and said it
looked pretty meaty, with lots of depositions. “We’ll get this
copied today and sent out tomorrow,” she said.
After a few days impatient days, The Big Envelope was in my
mailbox. The first page had this on it:
I spread out the pages on the counter, squinting at the
handwriting and trying to glean all the clues I could—such
as my third-great-grandmother's maiden name—while protecting
them from my 2-year-old's applesauce splatters.
"Meaty" is an accurate description. So far I've found all the
makings of a tabloid-worthy divorce: accusations of cruelty and
mental instability (along with a physician's testimony about my
ancestor's "cycles"—I guess doctor-patient confidentiality was
still in the future), custody fights, and insinuations of an improper relationship between my
third-great-grandmother and a younger man.
I'm still going over the papers and I'll blog more later about
genealogical clues I discover (that way I can call it work).
Thinking about researching your ancestors' court records? Click here for FamilyTreeMagazine.com tips on finding the right courthouse.
Then check out our courthouse research guide digital download, available in ShopFamilyTree.com.
Depending on the type of court records you're looking for, you'll also find in-depth help in our Using Guardianship Records in Genealogical Research video class with Marian Pierre-Louis and our Using Criminal Court Records on-demand webinar with Judy G. Russell.
court records | Female ancestors | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 9:11:39 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, February 04, 2013
Simple Tips for Solid Genealogy Source Citations
Posted by Diane
This guest post on simplifying source citations is from Family Tree Magazine
contributing editor Sunny Jane Morton, one of the expert
instructors for our Virtual
Genealogy Conference, happening Feb. 22-24:
I know great genealogists who never share their
research because they’re scared of source citations. They dread
going back through their files to identify exactly where they
learned a birth date or the name of Granddad’s church. They
worry they didn’t copy down every little piece of publication
information, like a volume number or editor’s name. And
formatting footnotes sounds exactly NOT like the way they want
to celebrate finding their family.
My presentation “Simple Tips for Solid Source Citations” focuses
on a process of managing sources all the way through the
research process to prevent most of those fears. What I'll show
you is a way of thinking that makes us better researchers: more
aware of our sources from the get-go, more organized and more
confident in our conclusions.
First, I’ll talk you through the process of evaluating sources
the first time you use them. I’ll talk about what information to
gather, both from the source and about the source.
One valuable tip I share is how to find full source information on websites like Ancestry.com,
some less user-friendly data sites. You’ll see different ways of
capturing source data, whether you’re a paper-based person or a
paperless person (or a combination). I’ll show you how to store
source data in a way that links it to the information you
found in it, so you don’t scramble years later
to put the two together.
Finally, I’ll talk about options
when you’re ready to write—yes, we’ll talk a bit about footnotes
and Why They Are Not So Scary.
By the end, you’ll know how to handle sources well and, better
yet, you’ll want to! Don’t miss out on learning this core skill
during the Virtual
I love the idea of managing sources from the start—so you
can evaluate how reliable the information is, easily
create a source citation and keep that citation with the data you found. I'm looking forward to Sunny's video class!
The Virtual Genealogy Conference is sponsored by
Ancestry.com | Family Tree University | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Research Tips
Monday, February 04, 2013 9:19:33 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, February 01, 2013
Genealogy News Corral: Special Black History Month Edition
Posted by Diane
In honor of Black
History Month this
month, today brings you a special African-American
history-themed news roundup:
To find African-American genealogy events near you, check with your local
genealogical or historical society, or public library.
- An interactive
online map—a companion
to the PBS "American Experience" documentary The
the story of the abolitionist movement in America. Powered by History Pin, the Abolitionist
Map of America has images, documents and videos from
dozens of libraries, museums and
Cincinnati, located on the boundary of free
states, was a major Underground Railroad stop. Our Public
Library of Cincinnati
and Hamilton County Genealogy Local
images and recordings on
subjects such as the site of local antislavery newspaper the
the focus of two anti-abolitionist riots in 1836; and the
Harriet Beecher Stowe
House, where the Uncle Tom’s Cabin author lived with her family
periods of time from 1833 to 1836.
Check out FamilyTreeMagazine.com articles on researching African-American roots here.
African-American roots | Ancestry.com | Fold3 | Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives
Friday, February 01, 2013 1:45:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Genealogists Win With FamilySearch/OCLC Partnership
Posted by Diane
Two indispensable genealogy resources are joining forces, resulting in a win for genealogists wanting to access offline family history materials.
FamilySearch and OCLC (the Online Computer Library Center) have
reached an agreement to list the holdings of the FamilySearch genealogy catalog in WorldCat,
the OCLC's online search portal to
catalogs from 74,000 repositories in more than 70 countries.
Under this partnership, OCLC will incorporate data from
FamilySearch’s catalog into WorldCat, and FamilySearch will use OCLC
cataloging services to continue to catalog its collections in
WorldCat. FamilySearch will also incorporate WorldCat results into
search results returned by FamilySearch genealogy services.
combined, instead of searching WorldCat for family and local
histories and other sources, then searching FamilySearch for
genealogy records, you'll be able to run a search at either site for results from both.
That'll also make it easier to see when a library near you holds
copies of FamilySearch genealogy resources—including printed books,
which FamilySearch doesn't circulate to its local FamilySearch
On WorldCat, you can set up a profile to create your own
bibliographies, review materials, and more. WorldCat also has a Facebook app so you can search
from within Facebook.
Get the most out of WorldCat by downloading
our WorldCat search tutorial for genealogists from
ShopFamilyTree.com for $1.99.
Once you find materials you want to borrow from the FamilySearch
Family History Library, you'll need to plan a visit to a
FamilySearch Center. Click
here for our tips on doing genealogy research at FamilySearch
Read more about the FamilySearch/OCLC partnership in the organizations' press release.
FamilySearch | Libraries and Archives
Friday, February 01, 2013 9:44:20 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Beat Your Military Research Brick Walls
Posted by Diane
Your great-great-grandfather's military pension records could have
the answers you want about his Civil War service and the widow he
left behind ... if only you could find the records.
Or maybe your military genealogy brick wall is one of these:
Our next webinar, Expert
Tricks for Beating Your Military Brick Walls, may be for you.
Allen Lambert, a military research expert and chief
genealogist at the New
England Historic Genealogical Society, will show you the best
strategies for solving difficult military records research
problems—and he'll tackle real-life brick walls of webinar
- the 1973 fire
at the National Personnel Records Center, which destroyed
most records for Army personnel discharged from 1912 to 1960,
and air force personnel discharged from 1947 to 1964
- privacy restrictions for post-WWI soldiers
- service in a lesser-known war, without widely available or
- service during peacetime, rather than a specific war
- several similarly named soldiers, any one of which could be
your relative (at $80 a pop, you won't be ordering that pension
unless you know it belongs to your guy)
- a POW
- a female ancestor in the Army Nurse Corps, Cadet Nurse Corps,
Women Airforce Service Pilots or other unit
- ... or you just don't know what records are available with
regard to your ancestor's military service, or how to get them
You can either submit your military brick-wall questions when you
register or during the live Q&A session. Here are the details:
Click here to learn more about the Expert
Tricks for Beating Your Military Brick Walls webinar!
- Date: Wednesday, Feb. 20
- Starting time: 7pm EST (that's 6pm CST, 5pm MST and 4pm
- Duration: 1 hour
- Registration: $49.99 (but save $10 if you
register before Feb. 13)
- Includes: participation in the live event, the ability
to watch the webinar again as many times as you like, a PDF of
the presentation slides and our
"Brick Wall Busters: Proving Military Service" handout.
Editor's Pick | Military records | Webinars
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 11:06:44 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Free Access to Fold3.com's Black Genealogy Records in February
Posted by Diane
Fold3 is providing free access to its Black History Collection
of historical and genealogical records for the month of February—Black
History Month in the United States.
Those records document slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the
World Wars and the Civil Rights Movement. Here's a sampling of the
record sets in the collection
Some of the record sets, such as the Southern Claims Commission
records (Southerners' reimbursement claims for property Union troops seized during the Civil War) and WWII draft cards, also will
- Court Slave Records for Washington, DC
- South Carolina Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale,
- US Colored Troops Civil War service records
- Southern Claims Commission records
- The Atlanta Constitution newspaper
- WWII "Old Man's Draft" Registration Cards
Visit the Fold3.com
Black History Collection home page to see samples of the
records and links leading to more information about each collection.
You'll need to set up a free registration to access the collections.
On the Black History
Collection home page, click on the link in the blue box to get
If you're tracing black ancestors, you'll find tips and advice in
guides at ShopFamilyTree.com, including:
here to see all the African-American genealogy research helps at
African-American roots | Fold3 | Free Databases
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 1:20:42 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, January 28, 2013
I Found the Maiden Name—But What Is It??
Posted by Diane
So I finally got my hands on a copy of the
divorce case for my my third-great-grandparents, Thomas and Mary Frost (more later about how I got it). As I hoped, it has
her maiden name!
There's just one problem—I can't read it, exactly:
Alanis Morrisette would call this situation ironic.
I searched Ancestry.com for Mary Wol*am (the wildcard * can stand in
for more than one letter). Some of the possibilities are Wollam,
Wolam, Wolham, Woldham, Woltam and Wolfram.
I even found an 1850 census record for a Wollam family living in
Ohio with a Mary of the right age, born about 1840. But this family
has no Matilda, one of Mary's sisters, who gives her name but not
her age in a deposition for the divorce case. The same family (I
think) in later censuses doesn't have a Matilda, either, and is no
longer in Ohio. (My third-great-grandparents married in Cincinnati
I can't find a family in the census that fits Wolham, my first
thought when I read the name. And no luck yet in my search for a
Wol-something-am (or a Frost) marriage record.
I've looked through the rest of the 103-page file for another
maiden-name mention and can't find one, though the writing is
really hard to make out in places. I need to spend some quality time
with the document.
Are you searching for a female ancestor's maiden name? Check out our
new Family Tree University course Finding
Female Ancestors (I'm planning to!), which starts this
week—it's open for registration through Friday. You'll get help
developing a research strategy for female ancestors, teasing out
maiden names and more.
the link to learn more about the Finding Female Ancestors course.
court records | Female ancestors
Monday, January 28, 2013 12:30:21 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, January 25, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Jan. 21-25
Posted by Diane
- Just a reminder: You have until Monday at 11:59 p.m. ET to register for our Family Tree Magazine VIP giveaway! Some lucky person will win a free one-year VIP subscription, which includes a subscription to the print magazine, a Family Tree Plus membership (giving you access to exclusive how-to articles on our website), tuition discounts at Family Tree University, 10 percent off every ShopFamilyTree.com order, and our Family Tree Toolkit. Register here for your chance to become a Family Tree VIP for free!
- The Minnesota Department of Human Services is gathering bids for a project to digitize 5 million pages of old adoption records dating as far back as the late 19th century. The records are now on about 2,000 rolls of microfilm and likely include thousands of adoptions (the exact number isn’t known because files vary in length). Adoption records in Minnesota become public after 100 years, according to TwinCities.com, and 2017 is the 100-year anniversary of the law mandating adoption recording.
- You might’ve heard about HBO's upcoming fictional genealogy series, "Family Tree." It stars Chris O’Dowd as a Brit who occupies himself by investigating his family history after he loses his job and his relationship. Thanks to contributing editor Rick Crume for sending me a link to an Entertainment Weekly article about the show. Do you plan to watch?
FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun | Genealogy societies | Public Records | Vital Records
Friday, January 25, 2013 11:14:37 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Last Chance: Save $50 on our Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference
Posted by Diane
Hi, all! Just wanted to let you know that our $50 off your Virtual Genealogy Conference registration promotion ends Friday night, Jan. 25! To take advantage, click here and enter the code WINTERVCEARLY at checkout.
Family Tree University’s Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference takes place Feb. 22-24.You get an all-access weekend pass 15 half-hour video classes, live chats with genealogy experts, an attendees-only message board and more. It’s a great option for people who want to get better at doing genealogy without having to take time off work or pay the travel expenses.
Click here to see the Virtual Genealogy Conference video class topics and chat schedule.
Click here to register for the Virtual Genealogy Conference.
Remember, you have until tomorrow, Jan. 25, at 11:59 p.m. ET to save $50 with promo code WINTERVCEARLY.
Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Thursday, January 24, 2013 2:11:22 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Search Irish Vital Records Free on Thursday Jan. 24
Posted by Diane
Researching ancestors in Ireland? Flex those typing muscles: Tomorrow, Jan. 24, Irish genealogy website findmypast.ie will let you access 21 million Irish vital records free in honor of its first Irish Family History Day.
This according to the Irish news websites IrishCentral and siliconrepublic.
The vital records, new on the site, range from the 1800s to 1958. Read more about them here.
Findmypast.ie is a website from brightsolid publishing, which also operates findmypast.com (US), findmypast.com.au (Australia and New Zealand) and findmypast.co.uk (England, Wales and Scotland), among other genealogy websites. When you visit from the United States, you may get a pop-up suggesting you use the American site, but you can just close it and carry on.
Also, if you're in the United States, be mindful of time zone differences when you plan your search session(s). Findmypast.ie is based in Dublin, which is five hours ahead of the US East Coast.
Update: Now that Irish Family History Day is upon us, I found more information about this offer. Visit findmypast.ie's Irish Family History Day page for a promo code that gets you 50 free credits to use the site's pay-as-you-go records. The code is valid through Jan. 31.
Free Databases | UK and Irish roots | Vital Records
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 12:04:31 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)