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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.

Threats 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 mother's name.

Here'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)  #  Comments [3]
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.
  • 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 her name." 
Click 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.


Family Tree University | Research Tips
Thursday, April 11, 2013 10:48:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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 ShopFamilyTree.com.
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)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Genealogy Video Tip: Finding Old Land Records in Illinois
Posted by Diane

Our Secrets 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 Illinois.

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)  #  Comments [0]
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.



If you've:
  • 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
... this webinar is for you.

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:
  • 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!)
Register for the Intro to DNA Crash Course webinar here.

Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 2:11:28 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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)  #  Comments [0]
# 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 ancestral divorce filing in Texas and a revealing divorce case in Kentucky.



Mastering 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 the estate….”

  • Be observant. In addition to the records you came for, keep an eye out for clues to other court records about your family.

  • 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)  #  Comments [2]
# 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 
  • 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 Illinois
  • offer advice on the  Illinois research problems from webinar attendees (submit questions in advance or during the webinar)
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.

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)  #  Comments [0]
Civil War Confederate Records Free on Fold3 in April
Posted by Diane

Got Southern ancestors? Military records website Fold3 has announced that to commemorate Confederate History Month, it's offering free access to all of its Confederate records for the entire month of April.

Those free records include:
  • 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
You'll need to register for a free Fold3 account in order to view the records. Start searching Fold3's Confederate records collection here.


Civil War | Military records
Tuesday, April 02, 2013 1:02:54 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# 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 collection. View 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)  #  Comments [0]