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Thursday, April 11, 2013
Your Ancestor's SS-5: Get It Before It's Too Late
Posted by Diane
It's time to look up your 20th-century ancestors in the Social
Security Death Index and request their Social Security number
applications (SS-5s) if you haven't already.
to close the Social Security Death Index are resurfacing with
a vengeance: President Obama's budget proposal would give the
Commissioner of Social Security license to grant or
deny access to the SSDI and our ancestors' SS-5 forms. It makes the
records' availability subject to a bureaucrat instead of the Freedom
of Information Act.
Other genealogy bloggers have expertly explained why there are more
effective ways to prevent tax fraud and protect the identities of
taxpayers, while also meeting the needs of genealogy hobbyists
and those who use Social Security records to identify survivors of
deceased servicemembers and unclaimed persons. Read more from:
I'll explain what the SSDI is and why it's important to genealogy:
The SSDI is a computerized file of deceased individuals whose deaths
have been reported to the Social Security Administration. It
contains mostly deaths from 1962 and later, though my
great-grandfather who died in 1949 is listed.
You can search the
SSDI on websites including FamilySearch.org
and Ancestry.com (which excludes
recent deaths) and order your ancestor's SS-5 for a fee from the
Social Security Administration under the Freedom of Information Act.
Once you find an ancestor in the SSDI, you can request his or her
SS-5, which requests parents' names, among other information. This
is the only record I've ever found giving my great-grandfather's
how to order your ancestor's SS-5.
Public Records | Vital Records
Thursday, April 11, 2013 12:31:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
5 Strategies to Overcome Genealogy Brick Walls
Posted by Diane
Today I'm sharing five
strategies for dealing with tough genealogy problems in the spirit of next week's Genealogy
Brick Wall Buster's online workshop.
The workshop runs April 19-26 and
offers Family Tree Magazine's best advice for overcoming
research obstacles, plus the opportunity to get expert advice on
your brick wall from professional researcher Lisa A. Alzo.
- Bend the rules of genealogy that say to "work backward one
generation at a time." Skip a generation, identifying your
ancestor's grandparents by using what you know about his cousins
or aunts and uncles; then maybe you can work forward to the
missing link of his parents.
- For immigration brick walls, search passenger lists for
friends and neighbors the person might have traveled with, then
examine the list for your ancestor's (possibly garbled) name. If
you can't find a town of origin, use censuses to see if his
neighbors are from the same country, then study those folks. Here's
how an immigration brick wall came tumbling down for me.
- Once you've exhausted the census and other common sources,
try less-obvious types of paperwork your ancestors might have
left. Land records are one example. Is your brick-wall ancestor
mentioned in school records, occupational records, meeting
minutes or old manuscripts? Use your imagination, your library
and online catalogs, such as FamilySearch's and
the National Union
Catalog of Manuscript Collections.
here to see the program for the Genealogy Brick Wall Busters
workshop. After you complete your registration, you can submit
your brick wall to Lisa via a form in your confirmation email.
- Our contributing editor David A. Fryxell advises, "As Sherlock
Holmes liked to lecture Dr. Watson, 'When you have eliminated
the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the truth.' So consider even unlikely possibilities when
confronting your brick walls: Could there have been two men by
the same name in the county at that time? Might your
third-great-grandfather have married his cousin? Maybe your
great-grandmother remarried between censuses, thus changing
Family Tree University | Research Tips
Thursday, April 11, 2013 10:48:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Help Us Get to 10,000 Likes! (There's Something in It for You)
Posted by Diane
Why should you help Family Tree Magazine get to 10,000 likes on Facebook?
Here are three reasons:
1. I've always wanted to be popular.
2. If the "Microsoft
Word Will Never Understand That My Name is NOT a Spelling Mistake"
page can get 161,707 likes, we can get 10,000.
3. When we hit 10,000 likes, we'll post a coupon of our fans' choosing! Vote
in our Facebook poll for either 30% off a Family Tree
University course or 15% off your entire purchase at
Visit Family Tree Magazine on Facebook to vote for your favorite deal and share it with your friends.
Genealogy fun | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Social Networking
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 2:56:16 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Genealogy Video Tip: Finding Old Land Records in Illinois
Posted by Diane
to Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar Thursday evening,
April 11, picks up where our Illinois
Genealogy Crash Course left off, introducing you to
more-advanced, lesser-known genealogy resources ito trace ancestors
In this video tip from the Secrets to Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls
webinar, presenter David A. Fryxell gives you resources for finding
land records in Illinois, from the days of French, then British,
then Virginia jurisdiction, through the public domain lands era, to
more-recent deed records.
You've still got a couple more days to register for the Secrets to
Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar! Learn
more about the webinar and sign up at ShopFamilyTree.com.
Land records | Research Tips | Videos | Webinars
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 2:55:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Intro to Genetic Genealogy Testing Crash Course
Posted by Diane
Is a DNA test the answer to your genealogy prayers or a waste of
money? Well, it depends on the test you take and how you use the
results. Blaine Bettinger, aka The Genetic Genealogist, will help you
understand how to use genetic genealogy as part of your family
history research in our Intro
to DNA Crash Course webinar on April 25.
... this webinar is for you.
- considered taking a DNA ancestry test
- been overwhelmed by
the options for genetic genealogy tests to take and testing
companies to use
- wondered about the differences among Y-DNA,
mtDNA and autosomal tests
- thought that genetic genealogy probably
isn't worth it for your research, anyway
- taken a test and been unsure
what to do with your results
Participants in the Intro
to DNA Crash Course webinar will be able to ask their genetic
genealogy questions in a Q&A session during the webinar. They'll get a copy of the webinar slides, access to watch the
webinar again as often as desired, and our genetic-genealogy guide
Research Strategies: Going Beyond Surnames.
Here are the webinar details:
Register for the Intro
to DNA Crash Course webinar here.
Date: Thursday, April 25
Starting time: 7pm EST/6pm CST/5pm MST/4pm PST
Duration: 1 hour
Price: $49.99 (sign
up by April 18 to save $10!)
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 2:11:28 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, April 05, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, April 1-5
Posted by Diane
- FamilySearch has added 23.9 million indexed records and images to the free FamilySearch.org, with new browsable image collections from Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, England, Italy, Mexico and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 19.2 million document images from the new collection United Kingdom, WWI Service Records 1914-1920; 2 million index records from the collection US WWI Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918; and almost the 931,000 index records from the collection US New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1925-1942. Search or browse these databases from the chart here.
- In case you missed it (and were wondering), Irish genealogy research company Eneclann has researched Tom Cruise’s roots.
The actor's real last name is Mapother, but Cruise actually is a family
name. His great-grandfather, born in 1876 to Mary Pauline Russell
Cruise and her second husband Thomas O’Mara, took the surname of his
half-siblings and thus became Thomas Cruise Mapother I. Read more and download a copy of the family tree here.
Celebrity Roots | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genetic Genealogy | German roots | Military records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, April 05, 2013 1:44:27 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
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)