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# Tuesday, February 12, 2013
I think I've got it!, or, Cluster Genealogy Works!
Posted by Diane

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my third-great-grandmother's hard-to-read maiden name in her divorce case file from 1879 to 1881. Many of you offered suggestions for searching for her family in the 1850 and 1860 censuses—thank you!

I tried those searches and I kept examining the case file for clues ... and I'm 98 percent sure I have the maiden name! It shows that cluster genealogy works. Here's how it happened.

I saw this in my third-great-grandmother Mary Frost's testimony:



Her oldest child—my great-great-grandfather—George, stayed with Mary's sister (unnamed here) and worked for the sister's husband, George Hartke, in his grocery store.

I searched for George Hartke on Ancestry.com and found this in an 1878 city directory for Covington, Ky.:



I then found his family in the 1880 census, under "Harke":



My great-great-grandfather is listed in the household as "nephew." Interestingly, he's double-enumerated in his mother's household in 1880:



I turned my focus to George Hartke's wife and Mary Frost's sister, Elizabeth. Death records often name parents, especially in the 20th century (Mary's doesn't, though), so I looked for Elizabeth's. Lo and behold:


Let's take a closer look:



Elizabeth's Oct. 22, 1931, death certificate reports her parents as Henry Wolking and "Eliz." Evers, both born in Germany. I did some more census searching and believe the informant, "Mrs. Henry Harke," is Elizabeth's daughter-in-law.

I still haven't found the Wolkings for sure in 1850 and 1860 census records. My best candidate so far is this Wolkins family in 1850:



The father's name doesn't match, which isn't great but also isn't a deal breaker—he could've gone by his middle name or the census taker could've talked to a neighbor, or Mrs. Henry Harke could have been wrong on the death certificate. This family does have a Mary, Tilda (the divorce records refer to Mary's sister Matilda) and Lizzie of the right ages.

Learn more about how to use cluster genealogy in your research from our on-demand webinar, Using Cluster and Collateral Searches to Beat Brick Walls, presented by Thomas MacEntee. It's available in ShopFamilyTree.com.

Originally posted at the Genealogy Insider blog.


Ancestry.com | census records | Female ancestors | Research Tips | Webinars
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 11:48:11 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
How to Use Google for Genealogy
Posted by Diane

You've probably searched for information on your ancestors using the Google search engine, but have you also waded through a flood of irrelevant search results to (maybe) find useful genealogy information?

Have you taken advantage of Google's other free tools, such as Google Scholar and Alerts? Language tools?

In Family Tree University's next webinar, Lisa Louise Cooke, author of The Genealogist's Google Toolbox, will show you how to research your family tree using these and other Google tools.



Our Googling Your Genealogy live webinar takes place Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time (that's 6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain and 4 p.m. Pacific). You'll learn:
  • Basic and Advanced Google search techniques to hone in on your family (even if they had a common name)
  • How to set up timesaving Google Alerts
  • How to use Google Scholar, Google Patent and other tools to find genealogy information
  • How to leap language barriers with Language Tools
  • ... and more
Webinar registrants will receive a PDF handout of the presentation slides and access to watch the webinar again as many times as you like. You'll also get Family Tree Magazine's Step-by-Step Guide to Google article.

Click here to register for our Googling Your Genealogy live webinar with Lisa Louise Cooke (sign up before Feb. 21 to save $10!).

Editor's Pick | Research Tips | Webinars
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 11:02:33 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, February 11, 2013
African-American Genealogy Resources
Posted by Diane

Black History Month started in 1926 with "Negro History Week," set during the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. February was first celebrated as Black History Month at Kent State University in 1970; the US government first recognized the celebration in 1976. The UK observed Black History Month beginning in 1987 and Canada's House of Commons followed suit in 1995.

This month shines a spotlight on those researching African-American ancestors—and the challenges that slavery and segregation have placed in their way. These are some of our favorite FamilyTreeMagazine.com resources to help you face those challenges and commemorate the lives of your ancestors:
Looking for more in-depth advice on how to research your African-American ancestors? Try these:


African-American roots | Family Tree University
Monday, February 11, 2013 11:31:46 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
We're Giving Away a Copy of Family Photo Detective
Posted by Diane

Here's our Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor's new book about researching your family photos (and those mystery photos that might or might not be your family):



... and you could win a copy by entering your name in our Family Photo Detective giveaway.

What's inside Family Photo Detective? You'll learn how to:
  • Determine whether you have a daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, cabinet card or other type of image
  • Use clothing, accessories and hairstyles to help date the image
  • Research photographer imprints
  • Compare facial features in multiple photos to help identify individuals 
  • Interview family members for information
  • Use photo props and background to add context
The Family Photo Detective giveaway ends Feb. 28 at 11:59 p.m. ET. And if you refer a friend who enters (by sending the link in your entry confirmation), you'll get two extra chances to win. Good luck!


Genealogy books | Genealogy fun | Photos
Monday, February 11, 2013 10:53:51 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, February 08, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 4-8
Posted by Diane

  • PBS has gathered its African-American history content into one place to help you celebrate Black History Month. Watch programs including Freedom Riders and Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr., take a quiz about miletones in African-American history, get ideas for celebrating the month with kids and more.
  • Know a young genealogist who could use $500 toward genealogy education, plus a free registration to attend the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree? Applications are being accepted for the 2013 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant, created to honor the mother of The Family Curator blogger Denise Levenick. It's open to any genealogist who is between the ages of 18 and 25 and has attended school in the last 12 months. The recipient must attend the 2013 Jamboree in Burbank, Calif., to receive the award. Application deadline is March 18, 2013, at midnight PST. Learn more here.
  • Findmypast.com is giving its registered users the opportunity to watch the BBC show Find My Past, which reveals how ordinary individuals are related to people from significant historical events.  With a free findmypast.com registration, you can watch episodes that first aired during the past 30 days. Thereafter, episodes will be available to the sites subscribing members. Learn more on findmypast.com.
Also new in findmypast.com's World subscription is a collection of 200 British newspapers from England, Scotland and Wales from 1700 to 1950.


African-American roots | Genealogy for kids | Genetic Genealogy | MyHeritage | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, February 08, 2013 3:04:28 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Cold Cases: A Step-by-Step Process
Posted by Diane

Want a closer look at the 15 video classes in our Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference, Feb. 22-24? In the next couple of weeks, several of our expert instructors will stop by to share what you'll learn in their presentations.

Without further ado, here's Lisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, who's put together the class Genealogical Cold Cases: A Step-by-Step Process:
 When it comes to brick walls, sometimes you need to think outside the genealogy box. Cracking a cold case requires a proven process to guide you through the challenging waters. And in looking for a solid process that could drum up new leads, my thoughts continually returned to criminal investigators. They face many of the same challenges you do, even if your ancestor wasn't a "black sheep."

Genealogical Cold Cases: A Step-by-Step Process is a presentation I've been wanting to do for a long time, and I couldn't be more pleased to to present it at the Virtual Genealogy Conference. I'll draw on some of the best ideas from cold case investigators to create a process that can guide you through the lengthy process of breaking through genealogical brick walls.

In each step, I'll give you a cache of strategies you can put into play right away. Each is designed to keep you organized and focused while generating new leads.

So dig out that old cobwebbed case file you'd just about given up on, and join me in the Genealogical Cold Cases: A Step-by-Step Process class at the Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference.

The Virtual Genealogy Conference is sponsored by


Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Friday, February 08, 2013 11:35:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, February 07, 2013
The Virtual Genealogy Conference Sweeps Winner Is ...
Posted by Diane

I'm happy to announce the lucky winner of our Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference sweepstakes!

My fellow Ohioan Maureen Buckel from Hartville has won a registration to the conference, taking place Feb. 22-24.

She'll get access to 15 video classes organized into tracks for technology, research strategies and ethnic ancestors; exclusive live chats with our expert instructors; and a message board for conference participants to exchange questions, ideas and surnames.

Congratulations, Maureen! I look forward to "seeing" you at the conference.

Learn more about the Virtual Genealogy Conference, check out the program of classes and chats, and register here. Only two more weeks are left to sign up!

The Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference is sponsored by


Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Newspapers
Thursday, February 07, 2013 11:10:08 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Find Polish, Czech & Slovak, and Hungarian Ancestors With New Ultimate Genealogy Collections
Posted by Diane

Update: The Ultimate Polish Genealogy Collection is sold out, and we have just a few left of the Czech and Slovak and the Hungarian collections. Get yours while they're still available!

If you're researching ancestors from Eastern Europe, you've probably encountered your share of name variants, translation troubles, records access challenges and other obstacles.

We've got three new Ultimate Collections to help you overcome these research problems:
Each collection has a Family Tree Magazine expert guide, Family Tree University in-depth independent study course, a 30-minute demo-packed video class, our International Genealogy Passport CD, and a language or records reference book.

Here's what you'll get:
  • expertise on how to research ancestors from Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, or Hungary (depending which collection you opt for)
  • strategies for discovering your ancestor's birthplace
  • where to find records
  • techniques for learning immigrants' original names
  • the best websites and offline resources to use
  • language help
Plus, receive a coupon for 25 percent off any future online genealogy course at Family Tree University.

Only 50 of each Ultimate Collection are available, and to further entice you, they're discounted by 63 percent or more.

Check out our new Polish, Czech and Slovak, and Hungarian ultimate genealogy collections to start finding your Eastern European ancestors today.


immigration records | International Genealogy | Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Thursday, February 07, 2013 9:08:09 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Ellis Island Immigration Museum Archive Relocated
Posted by Diane

The National Park Service has moved treasures from the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York Harbor to a federal storage center due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Oct. 29, the hurricane flooded Ellis Island and water filled the basement of the Immigration Museum, which houses the Great Hall where millions of immigrants started their lives in the United States.

Fortunately, the water didn't touch the museum's archive of records and immigrant artifacts, which were located elsewhere in the building. But it did knock out the island's electricity, wreaking havoc on the museum's carefully controlled climate and causing mold to grow on the artifacts and condensation to build up on walls.

You can learn more about the move and see photos and a video in this TribecaTribOnline article.

Both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty (on nearby Liberty Island) remain closed. Park Service plans call for reopening, but a date is yet to be determined.  You can get updates on the Statue of Liberty Hurricane Sandy Recovery page.


Historic preservation | immigration records | Museums
Wednesday, February 06, 2013 11:06:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Tabloid Divorces Have Nothing on These Ancestors
Posted by Diane

Last 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)  #  Comments [2]