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Thursday, April 04, 2013
10 Tips for Researching Genealogy in Court Records
Posted by Diane
I'm pretty excited about our new Mastering
Genealogy Research in Court Records course from Family Tree
University. I've found this to be one
of the most intimidating areas of genealogy research, but also
one of the most rewarding—my court records finds have included an
filing in Texas and a revealing divorce
case in Kentucky.
Genealogy Research in Court Records instructor Sunny Jane
Morton shared these tips for a productive visit to
the courthouse (and why you might not need to make a
special trip to the courthouse, after all). The
first session of this class starts April 8, and if you want to
register, you can use code FTU0413 to save 20%.
- If you're traveling to a courthouse or another
repository to research county-level records, download and fill
out a Research
Repository Checklist. It'll help you plan your visit,
bring appropriate materials and leave extra stuff behind.
Bring this checklist with you to the courthouse, along with a County Research Resources worksheet (available to course participants) listing which office has which types of records and what
records you’re looking for.
- Arrive as early as possible in the workday. You never know how
much time your research will take.
- Dress professionally but in comfortable, washable clothes. You
may be on your feet a lot of the day in tight, hard-to-reach or
dusty spaces. Yet, you'll get the respect you deserve as a
researcher when you look presentable.
- Carry a minimum of materials with you. There probably
won't be a secure place to set up a laptop computer or table
space where you can spread out your notes.
- Confirm copying policies ahead of time. You may be permitted to use a wand scanner or the digital
camera on your phone, or you may have to buy a copy card. Some
places permit only taking notes.
- When you need to ask the staff a question, think of the most
direct way to ask. Don’t share your family history. Say, “Where
would I look for an index to probates or intestate proceedings
for 1912?”, not “My great-grandfather died in 1912 in Chester
Township and I think my great-grandmother was the executor of
- Be observant. In addition to the records you came for,
keep an eye out for clues to other court records about your
- Be thorough. If you don’t find what you expect to, ask a clerk
a specific question. “Where else other than deed books might I
find someone disposing of land between 1843 and 1846?” You might
be shown a separate book of sheriff’s sales if your ancestor
fell behind on taxes.
- If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask politely
whether someone in the county offices has a lot of experience
with the historical records. If that person is available, he
or she may be able to tell you whether an ancestor could have
married by banns, or how likely it
was that African-Americans would've had their deaths reported or
estates filed during the Jim Crow years.
- Finally, not every court record requires a trip to the
courthouse. You might discover that records you need are microfilmed or digitized at the state archives or FamilySearch.org. In
some cases, a combination of online research, microfilm rental
and requesting copies from the courthouse will suffice.
court records | Family Tree University | Research Tips
Thursday, April 04, 2013 9:25:57 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Insider Secrets & Unique Records for Genealogy Research in Illinois
Posted by Diane
Hit a brick wall in your genealogy research into your
Illinois ancestors? Or you just need a little push beyond basic records to take your family tree to the next level?
We're about to introduce you to sources
that can help you dig deeper into your Land of
Lincoln family tree.
In our Insider Secrets to Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar, Family Tree
Magazine's founding editor David A. Fryxell will
Plus, webinar participants will receive Family Tree Magazine's newly
revised Illinois State Research Guide and our Chicago City Guide. Participants also get a PDF of the presentation slides and access to
view the recording again as often as desired.
- take you on a tour of unique record sets including court
records, tax records, military rosters and more.
- show you how to navigate the Illinois State Archives
- share resources for cluster and collateral searches in
- offer advice on the Illinois research problems from
webinar attendees (submit questions in advance or during the
Click here for more information about the Insider Secrets to Beat
Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar. Register on or before April 8 to save $10!
Update: Webinar registrants also can save $15 on our State Research Guides CD or eBook, with guides to researching genealogy in every US State.
Editor's Pick | Webinars
Tuesday, April 02, 2013 1:49:21 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Civil War Confederate Records Free on Fold3 in April
Posted by Diane
Got Southern ancestors? Military records website Fold3 has announced that to
History Month, it's offering free access
to all of its Confederate records for the entire month of
Those free records include:
You'll need to register for a free Fold3 account in order to view
the records. Start searching Fold3's Confederate records collection here.
- Confederate soldier service records
- Southern Claims Commission records: claims filed by Southern
citizens for property seized by Union troops
- Confederate Amnesty Papers: Confederates' applications for
pardon to President Andrew Johnson
- Confederate Citizens File: claims filed with the Confederate
government by Southern citizens
- Union Citizens File: Union Army records of provost court papers, orders, passes,
paroles, claims for compensation, etc.
- Civil War subversion investigations
- Confederate Casualty Reports
- Confederate Navy Subject File: papers including paymasters' vouchers relating to ships,
personnel and more
Civil War | Military records
Tuesday, April 02, 2013 1:02:54 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, March 29, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, March 25-29
Posted by Diane
There's lots of free stuff in this week's genealogy news roundup:
Do you love finding out about people's heirlooms? Were you one of the thousands of people to attend the "Antiques
Roadshow" taping in Cincinnati last summer? I
was! The three episodes filmed here will be broadcast Mondays
April 1, April 8 and April 15, at 8/7 central on PBS.
- More Cincinnati news: The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton
County genealogy department has added two more volumes of its Sanborn
Fire Insurance Maps to its free Virtual Library. Volumes 7 and
8, which cover Norwood and eastern neighborhoods in 1917, conclude the set that staff began digitizing four years
ago. I've already made a note in my research log to dig further into this
the maps here.
Get research tips for solving your genealogy brick walls in our weeklong workshop Genealogy Brick Wall Busters: Tips and Advice to Overcome Your Genealogy Brick Walls, April 19-26.
Family Heirlooms | Free Databases | Libraries and Archives | NARA | UK and Irish roots
Friday, March 29, 2013 10:02:47 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, March 28, 2013
History at Your Fingertips
Posted by Diane
Did you know that your California Gold Rush ancestors from the
East Coast traveled around six months and spent about $200 to make
That the city of Vicksburg, Miss., didn't celebrate Independence Day from 1863, when residents surrendered on July
4 after a 47-day Union siege, until 1945?
That during the Oklahoma Land Rush of April 22, 1889, two cities of
10,000 residents each (Oklahoma City and Guthrie) sprang up in
less than a day?
Genealogist's U.S. History Pocket Reference by Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Nancy Hendrickson delivers
fascinating facts such as these, plus timelines, charts (one, for
example, summarizes the dates, causes and outcomes of the major
Indian wars), maps, important dates (including censuses), and
lists of popular foods, books, music and trends. It encapsulates
historical phenomena you might need a refresher on, such as the
Triangle Trade and Bleeding Kansas.
An awareness of the events your ancestors witnessed can unlock
records in your family history research and provide context for the records you've already discovered.
This conveniently sized
book is chronologically organized into historical eras for easy
browsing of the time periods important to your genealogy
research—and to your understanding of your ancestors' lives.
more about The Genealogist's U.S. History Pocket Reference
Genealogy books | Research Tips | Social History
Thursday, March 28, 2013 8:26:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Archives.com Launches Millions of Lutheran Church Records
Posted by Diane
Subscription genealogy site Archives.com has released its collection of Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) birth, marriage and death records, which
genealogists have been anticipating since
Archives.com announced the digitization project nearly a year ago.
The collections, appearing online for the first time, total
nearly 4.6 million records from about 1,000 rolls of microfilm. The
records date from the mid-1800s through 1940 and include births,
baptisms, confirmations, marriages, deaths, and burials.
You usually have to know which
church your ancestors attended in order to request the record from
the church or find it on microfilm. Because these ELCA records are
indexed by name, though, you don't have to know the church before
you start your search.
Details in the records vary by church, but they often
include parents' names, dates and places of the event, and other
biographical details. Many of the churches has concentrations of
immigrants from Norway, Sweden or Germany as members—so the records could be the key you need to
start researching ancestors in Europe.
You'll learn how to find additional records of Lutheran ancestors—including congregational histories, communion lists, synod publications and more—from our guide Religious Records: Researching Lutheran Ancestors, available in ShopFamilyTree.com.
Archives.com | Church records
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 2:02:42 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, March 25, 2013
Genealogy Records for "Hearing" Your Revolutionary War Ancestors' Voices
Posted by Diane
Did your ancestors fight in or witness the Revolutionary War
firsthand? Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Maureen
A. Taylor shares the records she's found especially helpful in doing
research for her forthcoming documentary "Revolutionary Voices: A Last
Muster Film," a project with award-winning documentary producers Verissima Productions:
- Diaries and letters: This is Eleazer Blake, an
apprentice in a wheelwright shop in Rindge, NH, who kept a
In his diary, he mentions the Battle of Lexington and
Concord as well as details of his everyday life. These statements
let you relive parts of his life. Though your Revolutionary
War-era ancestor may not have been a diarist, the writings of his
contemporaries will help you understand the tense times he lived
- Pension applications: While some men exaggerated their
wartime exploits in their Revolutionary War pension
applications, other documents make for painful reading. James
Allen Jr. of Maine applied for a pension several times, but
lacked proof of his service. Allen’s brother submitted a
deposition with a plea on his brother’s behalf: “I have no doubt
my brother served in the Army of the Revolution as he has always
stated to me, and I know that he has for the last 20 years or
more been trying to obtain a pension.” (The November
2008 Family Tree Magazine has online resources for
pension and other military records, as does our Family Tree
University course US
Military Records: Trace Your Ancestor's Service.)
Don't forget about women of the Revolutionary era: They left behind personal writings, pension documents and memoirs
as well. The stories of their lives as daughters, wives and widows
can also be found in materials left by their fathers, brothers and
Tree Magazine's Ultimate Tracing Female Ancestors Collection
can help you learn more about the women in your family tree.)
- Memoirs: Seneca chief Chainbreaker, also known as
Gov. Blacksnake or Tash-won-ne-ah, dictated his life story
to a neighbor, relating how he served for the British in the
bloody Battle of Oriskany in New York. George Avery wrote in his
memoir that being taken prisoner at Royalton, Vt., in 1780 was a
turning point. “I felt the evil of my life and the Divine
Justice of Providence.” Use WorldCat,
which includes the
National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (1986 and
later), to help you find published and unpublished memoirs in
You can hear more life stories about the Revolutionary War
generation by following Maureen's Revolutionary Voices: A Last
Muster Film project. Find
out how you can help make the film happen here.
Female ancestors | Military records | Research Tips | Social History
Monday, March 25, 2013 8:23:48 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, March 22, 2013
Genealogy News Corral: RootsTech 2013 Edition
Posted by Diane
Because the genealogy world has turned its eyes to Salt Lake City
and FamilySearch's RootsTech
conference, this edition of the Genealogy News Corral focuses on
news from the conference.
- In his keynote talk this morning, Ancestry.com president Tim
Sullivan made several announcements:
Over the next five years,
Ancestry.com will commit at least $100 million to digitize
and index new content.
Over the next three years,
Ancestry.com and FamilySearch will collaborate to digitize
and index 140 million+ pages of US probate records spanning
1800 to 1930. He called this the organizations' "most
ambitious collaboration" yet, and added the caveat that
permission to put records online must be negotiated with
repositories holding these records.
Ancestry.com is about to release new version of its iPhone
iPad app with enhanced social media sharing, the ability to
compare trees and other features. A third of new Ancestry.com
registrants are through the site's mobile apps (there's also
one for Android), and half of users over last 2 months come to
Ancestry.com through a mobile device.
The Ancestry DNA database contains 120,000 DNA samples and
has delivered more than 2 million fourth cousin relationships.
To increase the size of the database, the price of the test
will be lowered to $99, whether or not you're a subscriber.
(Update: Sullivan didn't include this in his keynote, but Ancestry.com has announced that test-takers can now download their raw DNA data.)
- In addition to a new logo unveiled to RootsTech official
bloggers, FamilySearch will redesign its website with an emphasis
on photos, as a way to engage more people. It'll also add a fan
chart view to its online Family Tree program. Blogger Renee Zamora has lots of details on the
information presented during the dinner.
- According to the
Ancestry Insider, who attended Wednesday's dinner for the
bloggers, FamilySearch is experimenting with broadcasting
sessions to 16 satellite locations in seven countries (with
translation where necessary). If successful, next year the
number will be expanded to 600 locations. That increases to
potential reach of the conference to 120,000 people.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | RootsTech
Friday, March 22, 2013 1:43:20 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, March 21, 2013
FamilySearch News From RootsTech
Posted by Diane
conference is going on now through Saturday in Salt Lake City, and
FamilySearch is taking the opportunity to make some
- More than 6,700 people were pre-registered for RootsTech,
which is huge for a US genealogy conference. The number is
helped by the conference's location in Salt Lake City, home to
the Family History Library and to many members of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for whom researching
genealogy is a religious calling.
- About 2,000 teenagers signed up for a youth program on
- FamilySearch will soon be available in nine languages for
access by more people around the world. This is consistent with
the organization's increasing focus on historical records from
places besides the United States.
More RootsTech news to come!
Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:42:34 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Discover the Best Websites for Irish Genealogy Research
Posted by Diane
Having a hard time making progress with your Irish genealogy search?
Maybe you're not looking in the right places. Our March 28 webinar,
Irish Genealogy Websites, will help you find ancestors using
websites that provide key resources for Irish research.
In this sneak peek video, Irish genealogy expert Donna Moughty talks about Irish
civil registrations and the indexes on the
free FamilySearch.org, as
well as other sites.
Irish Genealogy Websites webinar is Thursday, March 28, at 7
p.m. ET (that's 6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT and 4 p.m. PT). Attendees have
the opportunity to ask Donna your Irish genealogy questions during
the Q&A session. They'll also receive a copy of our Irish
research guide, a PDF of the presentation slides, and a link to view
the presentation again as many times as they want.
here for our Best Irish Genealogy Websites webinar.
Editor's Pick | UK and Irish roots | Webinars
Wednesday, March 20, 2013 3:59:54 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)