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<2014 January>

More Links

# Thursday, 16 January 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 of records.

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 explanation.

What was lost? No one was able to do a complete inventory of the records, 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 detailed posts:
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 incinerated. Read her story and see photos.

court records | Genealogy societies | Historic preservation | Public Records
Thursday, 16 January 2014 09:48:34 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, 15 January 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 organization "system."

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 grandpa's Kentucky Colonel card.

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 Drive spreadsheet.

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 How To Archive Family Keepsakes author Denise May Levenick via the conference message board (also a good place for sharing tips with other participants).

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—check it out here.

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Research Tips
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 13:05:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 10 January 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 and better integrates with that site.
  • Early bird pricing for FamilySearch's RootsTech conference has been extended to Monday, Jan. 27. Register here.

    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 RootsTech website.
  • 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, 10 January 2014 14:58:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 09 January 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:  
  • Nick 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
The Achieve 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

Research Tips
Thursday, 09 January 2014 10:38:15 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 08 January 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 cases): 
  • 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 Fürstentum Schleiz." 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, 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.)
  • My great-great-grandfather H.A. Seeger was born in Steinfeld, as noted in his 1907 passport application, which I found on I had no idea he ever traveled overseas, so this was a thrilling find.
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.

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, 08 January 2014 14:04:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 03 January 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 genealogy-sphere:
  • 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 conference, check 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, 03 January 2014 15:03:34 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 02 January 2014
Genealogy Research Identifies Faces in Historic Murals
Posted by Diane

Genealogy detective work and crowdsourcing, led by our local Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper, solved 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 suggestions.

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, 02 January 2014 11:58:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
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!

Genealogy fun
Thursday, 02 January 2014 10:36:01 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Wednesday, 01 January 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 family get-togethers.

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 2014.

You could resolve to:
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Organize your records—on your computer and in your file drawer—in 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.)

  4. Finally call great-aunt Betty and ask to talk about your family history.

  5. 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 will be linked. Otherwise, order promising film online for viewing at a nearby FamilySearch Center. 

  6. Commit an hour or so a week to volunteering for a records indexing project. Try FamilySearch Indexing or’s World Archives Project, or see if your local library or historical society could use your indexing assistance.

  7. Join a genealogical society for your hometown or for a place where your ancestor lived.

  8. 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 collaboration.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 digital download.

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 Family Tree Magazine and at, and you can post genealogy questions to our Facebook page or email them to me.

Research Tips | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, 01 January 2014 09:50:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 25 December 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 200-member African-American 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.

See a list of AAGSAR genealogy blogs here, and look for it to grow on Jan. 5.

African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Wednesday, 25 December 2013 08:53:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [17]