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Thursday, January 16, 2014
Genealogists Mourn Incinerated Records in Franklin County, NC
Posted by Diane
When genealogists talk about "burned records," we usually mean a
courthouse fire that happened accidentally or during a Civil War battle.
But the term has taken on a new meaning in Franklin County, NC, where
thousands of historical records, long-forgotten in the courthouse
basement, were systematically incinerated last month. As word gets out, genealogists
and historians across the country are expressing their shock on social media (see links to bloggers' reports below).
Here's the short version of what happened:
Last May, a new county clerk discovered the records in a state of
disarray in the basement, along with assorted trash,
mold and water damage. The local heritage society
formed a plan to inventory and preserve the records, lined up volunteers, and secured the
necessary funds and space. Members had started the work when they were ordered to stop and wait for further
instruction. At some point officials from the state archives and
various county departments were allowed to remove an unknown number
On Friday, Dec. 6, after the end of the workday and without notice
to anyone, a crew in hazmat suits cleared out the basement and
burned the records in the local animal shelter's incinerator.
Explanations from local officials have mentioned
hazardous mold, privacy concerns, official record retention
schedules, and possibly others I've missed in reading articles and
blog posts. The county manager, who authorized the incineration, has promised a written
What was lost? No one was able to do a complete inventory of the
but examples of the basement's contents include an 1890s naturalization document, 1890s chattel
mortgages, post-Civil War to Prohibition-era court dockets, and a
letter from a WWI soldier serving abroad asking the court to make
sure his sister and his estate were looked after.
Several bloggers are following these events and the backlash in
She's also posting about media
coverage and public response.
- Renate at Into the Light is a member
of the Franklin County Heritage Society who witnessed the
records being carried out of the courthouse basement to be
her story and see photos.
court records | Genealogy societies | Historic preservation | Public Records
Thursday, January 16, 2014 9:48:34 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
My Genealogy Organization Score: C
Posted by Diane
In light of our Organize
Your Genealogy in a Week online workshop (happening Jan.
24-31, and see below for a chance to win a registration), I thought it would be fitting to show you my genealogy
First, there's this:
When I started researching genealogy, I printed or photocopied all
the records I found. I still get the occasional record on paper (which I scan). For
these, I have binders. One for my dad's side, one for my mom's, and
one for my husband's family.
I have another small file of "stuff," such as papers from a great-aunt,
receipts for my mom's school books when she was little, and my
It's all jumbled together and needs organization
and better storage containers.
Most records I get now are in digital form. How can I put this? I won't even show you. Some of it's on our laptop computer, some of it's on our desktop, and some of it's attached to emails waiting to be filed. Some things are in two or three places.
My plan is to get all my digital files onto one computer. I've been
pretty good about updating my tree online and attaching records, so
at least the information is in an organized form. (From my "In Case I Get Hit by a Bus" to-do list, I do need to share my password with a genealogy-minded someone.)
As for my research log ... well, I need to be better about pausing
in my research to update my to-do list. I've been using Evernote,
but I want to see whether I'll be more consistent if I use a Google
So I give myself a C when it comes to genealogy organization. How
about you? Could you use some help keeping track of what
genealogy information you have and what you need, and putting it into
some kind of order that makes sense?
The aforementioned Organize
Your Genealogy in a Week online workshop has on-demand
webinars and video classes, written lessons, and expert advice from
To Archive Family Keepsakes author Denise May Levenick via the
conference message board (also a good place for sharing tips with
We're giving away a free registration to the Organize Your Genealogy in a Week Workshop! Click here to enter your name before Jan. 21 at 11:59 ET.
The workshop is Jan. 24-31 at FamilyTreeUniversity.com—check it out here.
Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Research Tips
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 1:05:11 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, January 10, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, Jan. 6-10
Posted by Diane
- A new, free online archive called Ireland's Memorial Records
lets you search information from printed volumes naming 49,000 Irish
soldiers who died during World War I. The database is a partnership
of the Irish government, Google-Europe and the In Flanders Field
Museum. Search it here.
- FamilySearch has unveiled a new FamilySearch Indexing
website, which looks more consistent with FamilySearch.org and
better integrates with that site.
- Early bird pricing for FamilySearch's
RootsTech conference has been extended to Monday, Jan. 27. Register
FamilySearch will live stream a selection of (as-yet-unannounced)
presentations from the conference, taking place Feb. 6-8
in Salt Lake City. You can watch live on the conference website (Salt Lake
City is on Mountain Time, so be sure to translate session times into
your local time). After the conference, you'll be able to watch
recordings of the videos on the
- Beginning Saturday, Jan. 11, the Texas State Library and Archives
in Austin has expanded its hours to include the second Saturday of
each month, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Regular hours are 8 a.m. to 4:45
p.m., Monday through Friday.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives | Military records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, January 10, 2014 2:58:21 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, January 09, 2014
Setting and Achieving Your Genealogy Goals in 2014
Posted by Diane
You probably have a few genealogy tasks you'd like to accomplish in
2014—specific records to request, lines to trace, stuff to organize,
photos and letters to scan, stories to share. Writing down these genealogy goals
makes it a commitment. It's the first step to making them happen.
Another step is gathering the knowledge you need to follow through.
That's where our Achieve
Your 2014 Genealogy Goals Premium Collection can help with
tools including our desktop calendar, How To Archive Family
Keepsakes book, Time Management for Genealogists course and
2013 Family Tree Magazine Annual CD.
For inspiration as you spell out your 2014 genealogy goals, take a
look at what these bloggers want to accomplish this year:
Your 2014 Genealogy Goals Premium Collection is available only
in January, and only as long as our limited supply lasts, so check
it out now in ShopFamilyTree.com.
at Nick Gombash's Genealogy Blog: write more, apply for
membership in several military-related lineage organizations,
focus research efforts on Polish families from two places with
hard-to-access records, and others
Thursday, January 09, 2014 10:38:15 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Four Ways I've Found German Ancestors' Birthplaces
Posted by Diane
Finding a birth place for your ancestors from Europe is the
genealogical Holy Grail, because it opens up the possibility of
finding overseas records, particularly church records.
For German ancestors, our German
Genealogy Crash Course webinar next Thursday, Jan. 16, has
information about resources that can help you trace your roots back
to Germany. It also gives attendees a chance to ask questions of
presenter James M. Beidler.
In case any of you are ready to throw in the towel on finding your ancestor's place of birth, I wanted to share the places I
found birthplace information (unexpectedly, in a couple of
- My fourth-great-grandfather Edward Thoss was a founding member
of the Covington (Ky.) German Pioneer Society, which I was
surprised to discover on
the Kenton County Public Library website through a Google search. The overview
there gives his birthplace as
Langenweisendorf, Schleiz. The library has a 25th anniversary
book, published in 1902, which lists "Langenweizendorf
I believe this should be Langenwetzendorf.
- My third-great-grandfather Joseph Ladenkotter immigrated in
1836 from Rheine, in the district of Steinfurt. I discovered this from the Passenger and Immigration
Lists Index, 1500s-1900s (it's in print at many
libraries, or search
it on Ancestry.com), which in turn led me to a list of
emigrants called Auswanderungen aus dem Kreis Steinfurt
(Emigration From the County Steinfurt) by Freidrich Ernst
Hunsche. I searched WorldCat
and found this publication at the Allen County
Public Library, so I ordered copies
through the Genealogy Center 's Quick Search service.
- The obituary of my third-great-grandmother (Joseph's wife)
Anna Maria Weyer, printed in the German-language Cincinnati
Volksfreund newspaper, gave her birthplace in Schapen. (The alphabet chart in our German
Genealogy Cheat Sheet helped me read it.)
For a couple of other families, I've had luck by finding people I'm
related to and contacting them about their research. Here's a map of
birthplaces I've found so far. That cluster in northwest Germany is my Cincinnati ancestors; Edward Thoss is the one in the bottom right corner.
- My great-great-grandfather H.A. Seeger was born in Steinfeld, as noted in his 1907 passport application, which I
Ancestry.com. I had no idea he ever traveled overseas, so
this was a thrilling find.
Besides the German Genealogy Crash Course webinar, we also have a
couple of seats left in Family Tree University's German
Genealogy 101 online course. It's starting this week, though,
so you should register ASAP.
Family Tree University | German roots | Webinars
Wednesday, January 08, 2014 2:04:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, January 03, 2014
Your First Genealogy News Corral of 2014
Posted by Diane
This is a catch-up genealogy news corral—aside from a day spent at
the Kenton County (Ky.)
Public Library and the Cincinnati History Library
and Archives, I didn't do much genealogy over Christmas and
New Year's. Here's a summary of what's been happening in the
- Family Tree DNA announced it has fully integrated X-chromosome
matching into Family Finder, its autosomal DNA test. On their
matches page, Family Finder test-takers can use a filter to
display only X-chromosome matches, or X-Matches. You'll find a
good explanation of this feature, and a link to more information
on X-chromosome inheritance patterns, on
the DNAeXplained blog.
- The National Genealogical Society has issued a call for papers
for its 2015 family history conference in St. Charles, Mo. (just
down the road from of my college stomping grounds in St.
Louis). If you're interested in lecturing at the
out the guidelines on the NGS website and mark the April 2
submission deadline on your calendar.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | UK and Irish roots
Friday, January 03, 2014 3:03:34 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, January 02, 2014
Genealogy Research Identifies Faces in Historic Murals
Posted by Diane
Genealogy detective work and crowdsourcing, led by our local Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper,
a hometown history mystery: the identity of factory workers in
16 huge mosaic murals in Cincinnati's Union Terminal train
station, now the home of local history museums and the Cincinnati History Library
and Archives. (Fourteen of the murals were moved to the
airport when the train
station concourse was demolished, and nine of those will be
moved again, when the airport terminal they're in is demolished.)
The murals, created by Winold Reiss in 1933, depict industrial
scenes of unnamed workers in unnamed factories. The main part of the
article tells how the newspaper, with help from local
history buffs and readers, identified the workers using the
artist's reference photos, Union Terminal financial records,
genealogical records, interviews, and nearly 3,000 emailed
Of course I turned to the worker profiles right away in hopes of
finding a relative. I didn't, but it was fascinating to read about
each man and the work he did, and to compare his image in the mural
to the reference photo. You
can read their stories and see the murals and photos here.
Thursday, January 02, 2014 11:58:14 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
How to Start the Day Right: Coffee and Genealogy
Posted by Diane
The promise of hot coffee was about the only thing that made me drag
myself out of bed before dawn this morning, with three inches of
snow on the ground and more falling as I got ready for my first day
back at work after the holidays.
But I've been looking forward to showing you what my thoughtful
husband gave me for Christmas:
That's the 1860 census with the household of my
third-great-grandparents Edward and Elizabeth (Butler) Norris on the
coffee mug, and several photos and records from research on my
Haddad side on the mousepad.
To make them, Greg sneaked into my digital files and uploaded several
images to a photo-gift website. He even used the file name of the
census record to make sure the right family was displayed.
I hope you're starting the year with genealogy inspiration around
you. Happy New Year!
Thursday, January 02, 2014 10:36:01 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
10 Genealogy Resolutions for 2014
Posted by Diane
In January, we at Family Tree Magazine typically note an uptick in
family history interest, perhaps a result of holiday nostalgia and
If you're feeling inspired to preserve family
memories or kick your genealogy research into a higher gear, we
suggest making (and keeping) a few of the following resolutions in
You could resolve to:
- Scan old family photos and other mementos, and share them
with relatives. Be specific—resolve to scan one item every
Saturday, for example. How
to Archive Family Keepsakes has instructions for
digitizing and organizing old photos and other family treasures.
- Set up a genealogy research log and to-do list database using
a cloud service such as Evernote or Google Drive, and faithfully maintain
it to streamline your genealogy workflow.
- Organize your records—on your computer and in your file
a way that makes sense for the way you research. Schedule
30 minutes once a week or once a month to file accumulated
papers. (For serious assistance, consider our Organize
Your Genealogy Independent Study Course Download.)
- Finally call great-aunt Betty and ask to talk about your family history.
- Pick a family and, for each place they lived, run a place
search of the Family History Library online catalog.
Records that are digitized on the free FamilySearch.org will be
linked. Otherwise, order promising film online for viewing at a
nearby FamilySearch Center.
- Commit an hour or so a week to volunteering for a records
indexing project. Try FamilySearch
Indexing or Ancestry.com’s World Archives
Project, or see if your local library or historical
society could use your indexing assistance.
- Join a genealogical society for your hometown or
for a place where your ancestor lived.
- Reach out to other genealogy researchers online through genealogy
message boards, blogging,
posting an online tree, or using a social networking site such
as Facebook or Google+. If you
find someone with common research interests, propose a research
- Start a family history tradition: Institute an old family
recipe night, for example, celebrate an ancestor's birthday, or
make an annual day trip to the family hometown.
- Start writing your family history. Take it one ancestor at a
time. Our intensive eight-week Write
Your Family History online course will get you well on
your way, or start smaller with the prompts in our
It would be a lot to keep all of these resolutions, so think about what you
really want to accomplish this year.
Once you make your resolutions, you'll find the how-to help you need to follow through in
Tree Magazine and at ShopFamilyTree.com,
and you can post genealogy questions to our Facebook page
or email them to me.
Research Tips | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, January 01, 2014 9:50:11 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
African-American Genealogy and Slave Ancestry Research Group Blogfest!
Posted by Diane
Look for more African-American genealogy blogs to come online in the
next couple of weeks: Our
Georgia Roots blogger Luckie Daniels, who started the
Genealogy and Slave Ancestry (AAGSAR) Research Group (a closed
group hosted on Facebook) in August, is planning the AAGSAR Blogfest
for Jan. 5.
Daniels' goal is to bring all the AAGSAR community members online
with a blog or family website, creating a fantastic source of
information and inspiration for African-American family history researchers. "We
very well could see the likes of 75-plus new genealogy blogs online
before 11:59p.m. Jan. 5," Daniels says.
a list of AAGSAR genealogy blogs here, and look for it to grow on Jan.
African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Wednesday, December 25, 2013 8:53:05 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)