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Monday, November 18, 2013
How My Sister Tracked Down a Family for Old Photos Found in a Thrift Store Dresser
Posted by Diane
Lawyers and genealogists have a lot in common (just ask the Legal
Genealogist), including investigative skills. My lawyer sister
used hers recently to find a home for a collection of family
It's a happy story, so I asked if I could blog about it.
A stranger called my sister, Jen, at work, about old
photo albums, papers and trinkets she found in a dresser she bought at a St.
Vincent de Paul thrift shop.
(Reminder to double-check inside any furniture and behind picture frames before you donate them!)
The woman looked for a name, found Jen's married surname
with a photo, googled it, and found Jen's profile on her law firm's website.
Jen went to pick up the stuff.
She pored over it with her husband
and his sister. It was a big collection. "There were nine photo albums of old black
and whites from about the early 1900s to the 1960s, plus an album of
color photos from the 1970s and '80s, old Disabled American Veterans
and American Legion hats and pins, and Freemasons certificates and
mementos," Jen says. (She didn't take a picture; the box pictured above is just for illustration.)
Except for the one photo, which showed my brother-in-law's
great-aunt and -uncle, none of the items appeared to be from his
Another name appeared a few times amongst the items
(not included here for privacy purposes). Jen googled the
names and came up with two obituaries for a husband and wife. One was fairly recent and
mentioned no surviving children, only unnamed nieces and nephews.
Jen put on her lawyer hat and reasoned the family might still be
dealing with an estate. She visited the Kenton
County (Ky.) Property Valuation Administrator's website and
found a home listed under the deceased couple's names. She googled
the address—it was for sale. Then she tracked down the real estate
agent in charge of the listing, contacted him with an explanation
about the stuff, and asked him to forward her contact information to his
A few days later, one of the nieces called Jen. "I described what
was in the photos and what some of the names listed in the photos
were, and it was all familiar to her. She came to the
office to pick everything up, and was super excited about getting
The niece is related to my brother-in-law, at least through
marriage, because his great-aunt and -uncle are her relatives, too. Happy ending!
Family Heirlooms | Research Tips
Monday, November 18, 2013 1:44:14 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, November 15, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Nov. 11-15
Posted by Diane
- FamilySearch has added
more than 3.2 million indexed records and images from Austria,
BillionGraves, Brazil, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the
United States. See the
full list of new and updated collections here; just click a
database title to search or browse (for unindexed records) the
collection for free on FamilySearch.org.
- Harvard University is launching a Colonial North America project to
digitize some of the 30 million pages of 17th- and 18th-century
manuscripts in its libraries. They include journals, Harvard
administrative records, student notebooks and more.
Collections at Harvard and other repositories, including the
Massachusetts Historical Society and the Boston Public
Library, will be digitized for the Colonial Archives of North
America project. These projects will make it possible to virtually
reunite Colonial-era documents that were scattered over time. Read
more about these projects in the online Harvard Gazette.
- The National Genealogical Society (NGS) is seeking nominations for
its National Genealogy Hall of Fame. Nominees must have been
deceased at least five years, have been actively involved in
genealogy in the United States for at least 10 years, and have made
significant contributions to the field. The nomination deadline is
Jan. 31. See nomination guidelines and download the nomination form
on the NGS
- MyHeritage has enhanced its record extraction feature by letting you extract information from a historical record on the site directly to a multiple family tree profiles related to that record. For example, if you find a census record for a family, you can extract the census information into your MyHeritage family tree profiles for all the household members. Learn more about this feature on the MyHeritage blog.
FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives | MyHeritage
Friday, November 15, 2013 1:22:06 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Expert Answers To Your Genealogy Research Questions
Posted by Diane
Elizabeth Shown Mills, author of the must-have genealogy source
analysis and citation reference books Evidence!
Explained, is answering New York Times reader
questions about family history research.
In these genealogy-focused articles in the paper's "Ask An Expert"
series, Mills offers advice on online genealogy research, finding
old records, DNA testing, and Jewish and African-American
Here's a rundown of the topics you'll find
- Part 1: In
the first installment of the series, published last week,
Mills answers questions on starting genealogy research (she
recommends our Family
Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman Rising,
available in print and as an e-book); genetic genealogy; and
using online family tree sites.
(As an aside, The Family Tree Problem Solver is part of our limited-time, nicely discounted Ultimate Genealogy Problem-Solver Collection, which also includes video classes and written lessons on tracking ancestral migrations, telling apart same-named individuals in records, cluster research and more.)
- Part 2: Questions
addressed in Part 2 involve Jewish families
from communities with "memory holes" created by the Holocaust; Holocaust survivors who migrated to Argentina; old family photos (Mills suggests the
work of Family Tree Magazine's Photo Detective, Maureen
A. Taylor); source citations; genealogical
numbering systems; railroad employees; genealogy in India; and becoming a professional genealogist.
- Part 3: In next week's installment, Mills will answer
questions on researching enslaved ancestors and doing genealogy
in New York.
Still have questions? Family Tree Magazine's genealogy experts answer readers' research questions in each issue, and we also include genealogy Q&As in our weekly Genealogy Insider email newsletter. You can submit your genealogy question by posting on our Facebook page or emailing us.
Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:21:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Making the Most of Fold3.com: My Relative's Civil War Service
Posted by Diane
Did Veteran's Day get you thinking about your ancestor's military
service and how you can learn more about it?
One research option is the subscription genealogy website Fold3.com, which has records on
conflicts from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War,
Indian Wars, Civil War, Spanish-American War, world wars I and II,
the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. (Although the site switched its
focus to military records a few years back, it also has some
nonmilitary records, such as city directories, American Indian
censuses, naturalizations and more.)
When we started working on a webinar
about researching on Fold3.com, I went looking for family
members' records there. Here's a page from the compiled military
service record (CMSR) for my third-great-granduncle Frank Thoss
(brother of my third-great-grandfather Louis Thoss), a private
A, 53rd Regiment, Kentucky Infantry.
Frank's widow filed for a pension in 1886, according to this pension
index card, so I can send for a copy of the application from the National Archives (select
widows' pensions are digitized on Fold3).
You can search Fold3 for your ancestors' names, and view records with a subscription (some libraries and FamilySearch Centers
let patrons use Fold3 on their computers, so check out that option).
Free Fold3 collections are
marked with a small green "Free" in the site's database listing.
Get help finding your ancestors' records on Fold3 in our Making
the Most of Fold3.com webinar, on Thursday, Nov.
21, at 7pm ET (6pm CT/5pm MT/4pm PT).
Presenter David A. Fryxell will show you
All webinar registrants will receive a PDF handout of the
presentation slides, plus access to watch the recording again as
often as you want.
the site's collections, including lesser-known records that might
have information on your family
how to navigate the site
the best strategies for searching it (the search works
differently from other genealogy sites you might be used to)
when you should browse instead, and how to do it
how you can find records on ancestors who never actually served in
here for more details on the Making the Most of Fold3 webinar, and
to register for your seat.
Fold3 | Military records | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 2:45:47 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, November 07, 2013
Search Canadian Old Military Records Free Through Nov. 11
Posted by Diane
In honor of Canada’s
Remembrance Day, which coincides with Veterans Day
in the United States, subscription genealogy website Ancestry.ca is
providing free access to more than 4.4 million military records
now through Nov. 12.
The records come from the First and Second World War, the Rebellion
of 1837 and the War of 1812.
You'll need to register for a free Ancestry.ca account (or log into
your account, if you've already set one up) in order to view records
that match your search. Learn more about
Ancestry.ca's free military records offer and start your search
Researching ancestors in Canada? The tools in our our Canadian
Genealogy Value Pack (now on sale for $18 off) will get you
started. Find Canadian immigration records with our Canadian
Immigration Records video class or our Canada
Immigration Genealogy Guide download.
Canadian roots | Military records
Thursday, November 07, 2013 9:07:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
Genealogy Resources To Be Thankful For
Posted by Diane
It's a month of being thankful—in daily Facebook posts, at the
Thanksgiving table, and in our 11
Online Genealogy Resources to Be Thankful For webinar on
Nov. 20. Here are some of the genealogy resources I'm
thankful for (in no particular order):
- Other genealogists! They've shared tombstone photos,
burial records, baptismal information and genealogy happy
dances, and helped me fill in blank spots in my tree. Recently,
a genealogist I emailed about a possible connection (I found his
online tree with a Google
search of the last name, city, and the word genealogy)
helped me figure out the correct German birthplace for my
- An organization that's digitizing genealogy records,
mobilizing millions of volunteers to index them, and making them
available free online has to be on a genealogist's thank-you
list. I'm talking about FamilySearch.
I check the site regularly for new and updated
collections in the places my ancestors lived. To do this for your research, scroll
down on the search page and click the world region of choice. Then choose the state or country
from the filters on the left. Click Last Updated on the right to
see what's been added recently.
- I'm thankful for subscription-based resources, too.
They make possible all the research I wouldn't get done if
I had to travel to the places my ancestors lived. And that's
most of my research—these days, it's hard to get out of the
house child-free, period. Ancestry.com,
GenealogyBank, findmypast, MyHeritage—whichever one has
the records you need is the right one for you. To save some
money, see if your local library or FamilySearch
Center offers free access to any subscription sites.
I could list resources I'm thankful for all day. What genealogy
resources are you thankful for?
- Of course, I want to go to those libraries
and archives and pore over the records and books
they have. I'm thankful that libraries and archives are there to
preserve and organize historical records, with knowledgable
staff who help family historians find what they need. And I'm
extremely thankful for interlibrary
loan, which has allowed me to find ancestors in
microfilmed prison registers and city directories from other
In the 11
Online Genealogy Resources to Be Thankful for webinar,
presenter Gena Philibert-Ortega, will share a feast of resources for
doing genealogy online—and how to get the most out of those
The webinar is Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m.
MT, 4 p.m. PT). As always, anyone who registers
will receive a 25-plus-page handout of the presentation slides, and
access to view the webinar again as many times as they want.
Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | findmypast | Libraries and Archives | MyHeritage
Wednesday, November 06, 2013 2:36:48 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Hooray for the Winner of Our Decorative Family Tree Chart!
Posted by Diane
We have a winner of the framed decorative family tree chart featured
on the cover of the October/November Family Tree Magazine:
of Citrus Heights, Calif., come on down!
We'll create an 11x14 chart with the family names Kathleen provides,
frame the chart and send it on to California.
Want this chart for yourself? It's not hard or expensive: You can go
to ShopFamilyTree.com and purchase a PDF download that
includes three sizes of the family tree chart. You can type in your names, print
the chart, and frame it. You can save your chart with the names in
it, or clear it, add different names, and print another one.
(If you're the hand-lettering type, you also can order a printed
chart on nice paper.)
I think they'd make great genealogy-themed gifts for the holidays, or for a new baby
or married couple. You
can see the family trees in my kids' rooms in this post.
here to see the three decorative family tree chart designs in
Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun | saving and sharing family history
Tuesday, November 05, 2013 2:38:01 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, November 01, 2013
Search Canada's 1921 Census Free on Ancestry.ca
Posted by Diane
Ancestry.ca's free 1921
Canadian census collection is now indexed. That means you can
search the records by name and other criteria instead of having to
know exactly where your ancestor lived, and then browsing by
The census will be accessible free on Ancestry.ca for at least three
years, says spokesperson Matthew Deighton. You'll need to set up a
free registration (or log into your account, if you already have
one) in order to view the records.
The 1921 Canadian census is the country's most recent census available
to the public. It lists everyone in a
household and contains details including birthplace (for a person
and his or her parents), immigration year and religion, says Family
Tree Magazine's Document
Detective George G. Morgan.
Morgan will show you clues in the 1921
Canadian census in our January/February 2014 issue, on ShopFamilyTree.com
and newsstands Jan. 7.
The 1921 Canadian census also is part of the subscription collection on
Ancestry.ca's US sister site, Ancestry.com.
Canadian roots | census records | Free Databases
Friday, November 01, 2013 11:03:33 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 28-Nov. 1
Posted by Diane
- FamilySearch also has made
some minor updates to the online catalog, mostly to add
useful features the old version of the catalog had. But one I'm not crazy about
is that when you search, places are now hidden if the library
doesn't have any related microfilm, books or other titles.
the benefits of hiding places instead of letting you run a place
search that won't have results, but I think negative results can
be useful: Then you know that yes, the place does exist,
and you need to redirect your search to another repository.
Also, sometimes I'll type a place into the catalog just to see
the suggested locations. Now, if the library doesn't have
anything for a location, it won't be suggested.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | immigration records
Friday, November 01, 2013 10:13:05 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Partnerships Add Burial Records and Obituaries to MyHeritage.com
Posted by Diane
Halloween talk of death won't scare many genealogists, who are acutely interested in when, where and how their ancestors died. But what's scary sometimes is the search for
evidence of an elusive ancestor's death.
Maybe this will help:
MyHeritage has joined with the BillionGraves
cemetery records website and the memorial website Tributes.com to add 5.5 million
gravestone images and records, and 3.5 million obituaries, to its
These records are available for free on SuperSearch, MyHeritage's
search engine for historical records on the site. Those with family
trees on MyHeritage will receive Record Matches to alert them to
matches in these new collections. (The Tributes.com obituaries will
tend to be recent deaths.)
In related news, MyHeritage is holding a Halloween
photo contest: Enter your most creative and original Halloween
family photo by Nov. 3, and three entrants will win a one-year
MyHeritage data subscription. Get
details on the MyHeritage blog.
Need advice for finding out about your ancestors' deaths? Try our Death
Records Workbook eight-page download, available for $4.99 in
ShopFamilyTree.com. It has instructions and resources for finding
death records, substitute records that can provide death
information, sample records, and a form to help you organize
your death records search.
MyHeritage | Vital Records
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 1:09:11 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)