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Friday, July 12, 2013
House Histories: Do You Believe in Ghost Signs?
Posted by Diane
This was a totally unexpected find: I was casually searching
the Library of Congress
website for old images of Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine
neighborhood, where several ancestors lived. This
photo popped up in my results:
The building closest to the camera was once my great-great-grandfather's cigar store and family home. The picture is part of a group of shots from the neighborhood, taken in 1982
for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). There's an
accompanying PDF document with history and architecture notes.
When I opened the giant high-resolution TIFF of the image, I saw
Do you see it, too? It's a "ghost sign"—the outline of some of the
letters from the store's "H.A. Seeger Cigar Manufacturer" sign. Here's a closer look at part of it:
My mom once drove us kids by the building, and we saw where the letters had been. I've often wished we took
a photo during that stop—the building's been renovated and
that ghost sign is gone. So this is an extra-special find.
This copy of a photo from my family collection shows what the sign
looked like back in the day:
In an earlier picture I've posted before, the sign's lettering was different and there was no street lamp or window on the first floor. If I can figure out when those updates happened, it'll help me date this photo.
Time to learn more about this building. Are you researching an ancestor's house? Our guide to constructing a house history is a $4 download in ShopFamilyTree.com.
Here's how found the photo: On the Library of Congress site, I searched for the term Cincinnati German and limited my
results to "Photo, Print, Drawing," like so:
The group of pictures was second in my search results. Not everything in the LOC catalog is digitized online, but luckily, these are. I knew
to click on it because the streets in the description are the
ones around the building.
list more websites with databases of old photos here. Many state and local archives digitize photos for online memory projects, too.
You can learn more about finding, identifying and preserving old photos from
our Photo Detective Collection, with study materials from photo
historian Maureen A. Taylor and digital photography expert Nancy
Libraries and Archives | Photos | Research Tips
Friday, July 12, 2013 11:11:44 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Genealogy News Corral, July 8-12
Posted by Diane
An online petition to release the 1921 Canadian census is circulating. You
can read more about it and link to it on the Olive Tree Genealogy
Canadian roots | Celebrity Roots | findmypast
Friday, July 12, 2013 10:18:57 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Using Evernote to Organize My Genealogy Research
Posted by Diane
My former method of genealogy research organization was to email myself notes
and records, or use notekeeping gadgets on my
But with the emails getting buried in my in-box and the impending retirement of iGoogle, I wasn't very organized.
Then I started hearing more about the Evernote
web clipper and note-taker, and we began planning an Evernote
for genealogists webinar with Lisa Louise Cooke (it's July
25—more details below).
So I gradually started using it, like this:
- I set up a Genealogy notebook "stack", and within that,
notebooks for branches I'm researching.
- When I need to put a record to request on my genealogy to-do
list, I make a note in the appropriate notebook (usually I just
copy and paste a catalog record and URL from a repository
website) and tag it with the last name, the repository or
website, and other relevant tag.
- Next time I plan to visit some repository, or if I want to
focus on a particular family, I can pull up all my notes with
the right tags, and there's my to-do list.
Here's a peek at what it looks like. Everything in one place, and
viewable from anywhere:
- If I'm away from home, I can add a note using the Evernote app
on my phone. I can snap a picture of a record or photo and
attach the image to my note.
I'm feeling a lot less scattered, genealogy-wise, these days. I also
use Evernote to keep my grocery list and save business cards, and it
helped me get organized for our vacation last month. It's free,
unless you need a LOT of storage.
I'm sure there's a lot more I could be using it for—sounds like you
can share notes with other researchers and relatives, perform
text-recognition of images to make them searchable, annotate images
using something called Skitch, set up tables, and more.
So I'm looking forward to the webinar with Lisa. It's called Organize
Your Research With Evernote, and it's on Thursday, July 25 at
7 p.m. ET (that's 6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. PT).
And you can save
$10 if you register now (this early registration offer expires
Genealogy Apps | Research Tips | Webinars
Thursday, July 11, 2013 10:25:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Keys to Creating a Great Family Tree Website
Posted by Diane
Do you want to share your genealogy research and connect with
cousins through a family history website? Or maybe you want to
improve the genealogy website you already have.
The best family tree websites share these key elements, says Nancy
Henrickson, adviser for Family Tree University's Make
a Free Family Website in One Week online workshop:
To make sure your site is on track in these areas, Nancy suggests
asking yourself these questions:
- Adherence to best practices
- Consistent updating
- Is the site about a single surname or everyone you're
Will you include images?
- Is it clear to site visitors what the site is about?
- Is this a research-based site?
Do you know the goal of this site?
Have you created logical categories for your posts?
Is the site easy to navigate?
- Have you made it easy for people find out how to contact you?
- Have you thought about how to organize data?
Will you have a photo gallery?
Is information presented in small bites vs. large areas of text?
- Have you added ALT tags to your images?
- Have you clearly titled each post?
- Have you selected well-defined tags for each post?
In the Make
a Free Family Website in One Week online workshop (July
24-31), you'll watch video classes and receive guidance from Nancy.
By the end of the workshop, you'll have built a basic genealogy
out more on FamilyTreeUniversity.com.
Do you update your site at least once a week?
Do you have a plan for what you'll post?
- Are your images resized at 72dpi?
- Are your images in .jpg format?
Have you cropped images to highlight the important areas?
Editor's Pick | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Tech Advice
Tuesday, July 09, 2013 12:52:45 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Watch a Preview of "Who Do You Think You Are?" on TLC
Posted by Diane
Excited for the fourth season of "Who Do You Think You Are?"
premiering July 23 on TLC? Here's a video preview.
It's longer than
the teaser that was released at the end of June, and drops clues to
the family history surprises in store for some of the celebrity
guests. You'll see them in the video: Kelly Clarkson, Zooey
Deschanel, Chris O'Donnell, Christina Applegate, Jim Parsons, Cindy
Crawford, Trisha Yearwood and Chelsea Handler. (We
posted here about who these people are.)
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Videos
Tuesday, July 09, 2013 12:23:45 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, July 05, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, July 1-5
Posted by Diane
- You can search for Oregon ancestors in the digital archive at Historical Oregon Newspapers.
The newspapers come from more than 20 Oregon cities and date between
1848 and 1922. Search all the papers on the home page, or click the
Search tab to run an advanced search. You can click a city on the
Oregon map to browse papers from there.
The site is part of the
Oregon Digital Newspaper Program, and you'll also find these papers
digitized on the Library
of Congress' Chronicling America website.
FamilySearch has recently added more than 50.1 million record images
to its free FamilySearch.org
record search. They come from Belgium, Brazil, China, Czech
Republic, England, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Spain, and
the United States. The largest updated collections include Belgium
Civil Registrations, Spain Municipal Records, and the US Public
Records Index collection. See the complete list of
new and updated collections, and click through to them, here.
FamilySearch | Newspapers
Friday, July 05, 2013 1:27:53 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Find American Revolution Ancestors in SAR Applications, Free Through July 7 on Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane
Researching ancestors who fought in the American Revolution?
Ancestry.com has made its collection of Sons of the American
Revolution Membership Applications free through July 7.
The collection has 145,000 applications for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution
(SAR) lineage society, based in Louisville, Ky., that were approved
between 1889 and Dec. 31, 1970.
Applications contains pedigrees and
supporting genealogy information that the applicant used to prove a
relationship to an ancestor who supported the cause of American
Independence between 1775 and 1783. The supporting information could
include church records, Revolutionary War pension documents, court
records, deeds and more.
You can search for anyone named in an application—the applicant, the
Patriot, or anyone who links the two. You also could search for a
SAR member number.
Note that the database doesn't contain data on every man who fought
in the American Revolution—only on those named in SAR applications
approved from 1889 to 1970.
here to search Ancestry.com's SAR membership applications. You'll need to register for a free Ancestry.com account to view records.
Ancestry.com | Military records
Friday, July 05, 2013 9:05:07 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Putting It All Together: The Write Your Family History Value Pack
Posted by Diane
I've been doing genealogy research since I started at the magazine
10 years ago (in more earnest in recent years). Lately as I update
my family tree, I have this niggling thought: How do I put it all
I don't want to just record family history. I want to package it all
up in words and pictures, to both summarize and detail my ancestors'
lives, and make it easy for people to see all those
connections and family events.
This is a comment I've heard in one form or another from many of
you. Here's something that might help: Our Write
Your Family History Value Pack. It has articles and tools
that'll help you carry out a family history writing project, big or
small, from start to finish. This value pack includes:
more about each of these components here. Buying them together
in the Write
Your Family History Value Pack saves you 66 percent!
- Writing Your Family Memoir independent study course from
Family Tree University
- Seven Tips to Write Your Family History article download
- Personal Historian 2 software on CD
- Writing Life Stories book download
Your Family History Value Pack also comes with 25 percent off
an instructor-guided Family Tree University course (such as Write
Your Family History: Create a Captivating Record of Your Family’s
Story or Creating a Family History Book: Guidance for Assembling and
Printing a Family Keepsake).
saving and sharing family history | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, July 02, 2013 1:40:01 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Did You Know ... ?: Declaration of Independence Edition
Posted by Diane
Like any group effort, the writing and adoption of the Declaration of
Independence involved some give-and-take and even drama.
These seven facts relay some of the Declaration's back story:
- The youngest signatory was 26-year-old Edward Rutledge, who
was initially opposed to independence from Britain, but voted to
adopt for the sake of unanimity. He later was captured by the
British but eventually released. Good old Benjamin Franklin was
the oldest, at 70.
- Signatory Richard Stockton also was captured by the British
and recanted his signature under duress.
- In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas
Jefferson, a slave owner, included slavery among his list of
grievances against King George of England:
"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself,
violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the
persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating
& carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere"
This grievance was edited out at the request of
delegates from South Carolina. This
Wikipedia article discusses how rebuttals challenged the
document's "all men are created equal" claims and the impact on
- In what might resemble a writer's worst nightmare, the
members of the Continental Congress spent two days editing
Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence. He sent
copies to several friends with changes indicated, and Henry Lee
consoled him, "I wish sincerely, as well for the honor of
Congress, as for that of the States, that the Manuscript had not
been mangled as it is."
- Whether the Declaration was signed on July 4 is up for debate.
The version of events generally accepted by historians is that
Congress adopted the Declaration on July 4 and its president,
John Hancock, signed, along with his secretary. On July 19, a
handwritten copy was produced to bear all the delegates'
signatures; most signed Aug. 2. The
Library of Congress website shows all this on a timeline for
- Gen. George Washington read the Declaration of Independence to
his troops in New York City on July 9. Soon after, they
destroyed the statue of King George III at the foot of Broadway
and used the lead to make musket balls.
- Of the 200 broadsides John Dunlap of Philadelphia printed on
the night of July 4, 1776, 26 are known to survive. One was the
flea market find of a lifetime: In 1989, a shopper discovered the
broadside behind a framed painting he bought for $4. In 2000, it went for
$8.14 million at auction.
even more about the Declaration of Independence at the National
Archives Charters of Freedom exhibit.
Let genealogy expert and "Who
Do You Think You Are?" researcher D. Joshua Taylor help you
find your Patriot ancestors in our Researching
Revolutionary War Ancestors video course.
NARA | Social History
Tuesday, July 02, 2013 11:51:34 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, July 01, 2013
Ancestry.com Surveys Users on Old Search
Posted by Diane
In light of the online commentary over the impending discontinuation of Old Search, Ancestry.com
has set up a survey to gather your feedback on the site's search
Ancestry.com spokesperson Matthew Deighton said the company wants Old Search
users to know that it plans to preserve the functionality
of the Old Search, and merge it into one consolidated search
In a note
to distributed to bloggers Friday, Ancestry.com asked users to take the survey. It also linked to an educational
video about the current (aka "New") search experience and to an
article with a side-by-side explanation of achieving the same
results with New Search as Old Search.
The note also says that some of the functions Old Search fans have
lamented losing are present in New Search (I added the bullets to
"Many of the recent concerns and comments have cited
functionality that actually exists in current search, as well as
in old search—specifically:
Ancestry.com's note here and take
the survey here.
- Our current search experience allows users to view search
results as a list of ranked records or as a consolidated list
- Our current search experience allows users to do 'Exact
- Our current search experience allows users to specify a
'Collection Priority' to filter results by country. "
Monday, July 01, 2013 12:58:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)