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# Tuesday, March 25, 2014
What Does Your Last Name Mean? How to Find Out
Posted by Diane



Our Unpuzzling Ancestral Names Value Pack made me curious about my family surnames and whether things I heard growing up about where a name is from or what it means are true. Here's how I checked out a few of the names I'm researching:
  • Haddad: My maiden name, inherited from my great-grandparents who immigrated in 1900, is the Lebanese equivalent to Smith. I Googled surname Haddad and one of the results was this Wikipedia page.
  • Seeger: I looked up this name, which comes from my German ancestor H.A. Seeger, in the last name search on Ancestry.com, which uses surname meanings and origins from the Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names (a reference you also might be able to find in a library). It also maps where in the United States most people with that name lived. The name is German and Dutch, "from the Germanic personal name Sigiheri." 
  • Norris: This name, which belonged to my Irish third-great-grandfather Edward Norris, is a place-based name for someone from the North or who lived on the north side of a settlement. It also could be a French occupational name for a nurse. According to the Irish Times' mid-1800s surname distribution search, most Norrises lived in County Waterford, with next-door Tipperary and Kilkenny as runners-up. Family lore says Edward came from County Cork, which also is on the list and borders Waterford.
  • Frost: This surname, from my English third-great-grandfather, gives me fits in online searches. Besides all the weather reports, it's a pretty common name. It helps to add place names, genealogy and -weather or -winter to my searches. The name could be English, German, Danish or Swedish, and it's based on a nickname for someone "of an icy and unbending disposition or who had white hair."
  • Reuter: Google wants to show me Reuters news reports if I forget quotation marks (as in "Reuter") when searching for this name online. It's a German name, possibly for "someone who lived in a clearing or an occupational name for a clearer of woodland." 
  • Ladenkotter/Ladenkoetter: Does anyone have ideas about this German name? It's not in the Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names or on surname sites, and web searches turn up mostly my own posts. I even tried typing the name into Google translate to see if it means anything in German (it doesn't). On the plus side, it's unusual, and just about any Ladenkoetter records I find are for a relative. Update: If you have German roots, the comments about this name's origins (including one from A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Germanic Ancestors coauthor Ernest Thode) are insightful. Thank you to Mr. Thode, K. Hewett and Fawn!

Here are seven more surname research tips from FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

The Unpuzzling Ancestral Names Value Pack has resources for searching names, understanding naming patterns, figuring out how surnames changed over time, and discovering surname origins and meanings. Learn more about it in ShopFamilyTree.com.


Ancestry.com | German roots | Research Tips
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 2:57:22 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Genealogy Tips for Tracing Female Ancestors
Posted by Diane



March is Women's History Month, so it seems a good time to share tips and facts from Legal Genealogist Judy G. Russell's "Female Ancestors and the Law" chat for our Family Tree University Virtual Genealogy Conference last month.

You can get in-depth advice on researching women in your family in our Finding Female Ancestors Family Tree University course, which starts Monday, March 24. We also have a Discover Your Female Ancestors value pack with an Independent Study version of that course, plus a video class, a cheat sheet and more. 
  • Judy opened the chat with this interesting tidbit: Under common law, a girl could be betrothed at age 7. She was entitled to dower at age 9. She couldn’t choose a guardian until she was 14 or serve as executrix until 17, and wasn’t of full age until 21. But she could be married off at age 12.
  • A married woman was called a feme covert, which literally means a woman hidden behind the identity of her husband.

  • Judy recommended Black's Law Dictionary as a good resource for finding out what laws governed women's lives in the places your ancestors lived. It was first published in 1891, and you can see the 2nd edition, published in 1910, for free here. Look for printed editions at large libraries and law libraries.

  • A widowed woman would have to be named guardian of her own children in a probate court, or the court might name a male relative to look after the children's inherited property (even if they still lived with their mother).
  • An underage woman usually had to have a male guardian's permission to marry. Look for a record with the couple's marriage record.

  • Early divorces often had to be approved by state legislatures; look for these records in legislative records (usually at a state archive).

  • Prenuptial agreements, often found with deeds or court records, weren't uncommon, even early on.
  • Land records are excellent for researching women. A husband had to sell land, even if the wife had inherited it from her father, but the wife had to sign off on it. That's called her "dower" right (not to be confused with a dowry), and it was intended to provide some means of support for a woman whose husband had died.

  • "Property" transfers of slaves, usually in chancery or equity courts, also can be a source of information on female heirs.
  • Chat participants have had luck finding maiden names in children's birth, marriage and death records; and in male ancestors' wills. Several said that sons in their families received the mother's maiden name as a middle name.
  • One chatter reminded us not to assume that someone listed by initials in a record (such as M.A. Smith) is male.
I also wanted to share this post from the New York History Blog, about a New York law, in effect until March 20, 1860, that kept married women from having any legal control over money they earned.

PS: Here's where you can find out about our Fall 2014 Virtual Genealogy Conference, happening Sept. 19-21.


Female ancestors | Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 3:31:53 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
New Genealogy Webinars: Make Evernote Effortless & Using DNA To Solve Family Mysteries
Posted by Diane

I wanted to make sure you know about two webinar learning opportunities we have coming up, on using Evernote for family history and on genetic genealogy:

     

The first one, this Thursday, is Making Evernote Effortless with Lisa Louise Cooke. An expert on using Evernote to organize research and streamline workflow, Lisa will talk about
  • creating source citations in Evernote
  • accessing your Evernote notes faster with tools like shortcuts and quick keys
  • setting reminders
  • sharing notes
  • hacking the mobile version to add the web clipper to your tablet's web browser

You'll learn how to use Evernote to stop researching haphazardly and start organizing your approach and your findings. Click here to register.



Next Thursday, March 27, we have Using DNA To Solve Family Mysteries with the Genetic Genealogist blogger, Blaine Bettinger. He'll help you
  • understand more about genetic genealogy
  • figure out which test to take to solve which types of research problems
  • how to interpret your test results
Blaine has written on genetic genealogy for Family Tree Magazine, and I have to say he's a very good explainer of things—great at turning complicated genetic genealogy information into concepts my brain can wrap itself around.

Click here to find out more and register.


Genealogy Apps | Genetic Genealogy | Webinars
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 1:37:54 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, March 17, 2014
Talking in German Genealogy, Digital Libraries & More in Our Free March Podcast
Posted by Diane

In the March 2014 free Family Tree Magazine podcast, host Lisa Louise Cooke talks with German genealogy expert James M. Beidler about tracing German-speaking ancestors. Jim shares tips from his new book, The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide.

Podcast listeners also can tour of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) website with DPLA executive director Dan Cohen, and get tips on unpuzzling US county boundary changes with Family Tree Magazine contributing editor David A. Fryxell.

Lisa also chats with Family Tree Magazine publisher Allison Dolan and myself about solving genealogy research problems.

This Family Tree Magazine Podcast episode is sponsored by EpiGenealogy, a research service for tracing family health history. Host Lisa Louise Cooke is the founder of the Genealogy Gems website and podcast.

You can listen in iTunes or on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

Click here for show notes, which include handy links to the websites mentioned.

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Genealogy Web Sites | German roots | Research Tips
Monday, March 17, 2014 10:38:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, March 14, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, March 10-14
Posted by Diane

  • Orders for FamilySearch microfilm and microfiche numbered above 1,881,705 will be restricted for a two-week period in early April. Half a million rolls of film plus numerous microfiche cabinets at the Granite Mountain vault will be relocated into newly renovated space. As a result, the Family History Library won't be able to order the affected film and fiche. Film and fiche numbered below 1,881,705 can be ordered as usual. Read the notice on the FamilySearch blog.
  • Planning research at the National Archives in Washington, DC, or College Park, Md., in April? You might be able to plan your itinerary around one of the archives' free genealogy programs, such as an introduction to research in the archives' records (April 2), nonpopulation censuses (April 16),  tracing immigrants from the West Indies (April 17), or a "Help! I'm Stuck" consultation (April 26). Find times and locations on the National Archives' website.


FamilySearch | Free Databases | NARA
Friday, March 14, 2014 1:34:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Site Mocavo Lets You Try Gold Features FREE This Weekend
Posted by Diane

Genealogy website Mocavo is letting free Basic members try all the Mocavo Gold features for free this weekend.

Gold-level benefits include searching across all Mocavo databases at once (with the free Basic account, you can search one database at a time), receiving "discovery alerts" when records match your uploaded tree, downloading and printing documents, and more.

The free Mocavo Gold access period ends Sunday, March 16, at midnight. You'll need to sign up for a free Basic membership to try out the Gold features. Read more about this offer on the Mocavo blog.


Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, March 14, 2014 8:04:56 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, March 13, 2014
Search Irish Wills Index Free on St. Patrick's Day
Posted by Diane

The Irish Origins website is making its Irish Wills Index (1484-1858) free to search and access on St. Patrick's Day.

The index contains more than 102,000 names from records (original documents, copies, transcripts, abstracts or extracts) at the National Archives of Ireland.

Each index entry contains the name of the person leaving a will, or being covered by a grant of probate or administration. It also contains the person's address, sometimes an occupation, and the place where the document was proved (i.e. a diocesan or the Prerogative court). Almost half of the index entries name an executor and that person's address.

The free period runs from March 17 at 12:01 a.m. to March 18 at 8 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time.

I used this Time Zone Converter to figure out that in my local East Coast Time, that's March 16 at 8:01 p.m. through March 18 at 4 a.m.

When the time comes, you can search and access the Irish Wills Index 1484-1858 here.

The Irish Origins website also will take the opportunity to offer a 36 percent discount on its Irish Origins Monthly subscriptions, which let you access censuses, wills, directories, burials, marriages, electoral registers and more. Click here and use promotional code StPatrick2014.


Free Databases | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, March 13, 2014 11:14:42 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Free Irish Records on Ancestry.com Through St. Patrick's Day
Posted by Diane



Think you might be Irish every day of the year—not just on St. Patrick's Day? To help you find out, subscription genealogy site Ancestry.com has opened up its collections of Irish records for free through March 17.

The free records include
  • church and civil indexes to Irish births and baptisms, marriages, and deaths (these are from FamilySearch)
  • the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses
  • Catholic sacramental registers
  • Quebec vital and church records from the Drouin collection
  • Griffith's Valuation
  • New York Emigrant Savings Bank records
  • Irish Canadian emigration records
Search the Irish record collections here. You'll need to register for a free Ancestry.com account (or log into your free account) to take advantage of this offer. The free period ends Monday, March 17 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Ancestry.com also is offering its AncestryDNA test, which can break out your Irish ancestry from the rest of the UK to show you where your roots might lie, for $89 (10 percent off).

Get help finding your ancestors on Ancestry.com in Family Tree University's How to Maximize Ancestry.com One-Week Workshop, starting March 21. Learn more about it here.

Also see our four tips for discovering ancestors in Ireland on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

Ancestry.com | Free Databases | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, March 13, 2014 8:01:09 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, March 12, 2014
MyHeritage Employees Digitize a Cemetery to Kick Off Global Initiative
Posted by Diane

To kick off its global initiative to digitize cemeteries, a partnership with the BillionGraves website and app, MyHeritage mobilized 80 employees at its headquarters in Israel to photograph an entire cemetery's worth of gravestones—51,754 images in all.

The employees used the BillionGraves app to digitize and upload stones in Sgula Cemetery in Petah Tikva, Israel. It's one of the country's oldest cemeteries, established in 1888.

The images of the stones, inscribed in Hebrew, are available for transcription on BillionGraves.com.



You can read more about this project and see photos on the MyHeritage blog.

Cemeteries | MyHeritage
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:20:47 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
US National Archives to Close Three Facilities
Posted by Diane

The US National Archives and Records Administration will close three facilities over the next two years as part of ongoing budget adjustments, according to a statement by Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero.

The three closures are:
All employees at the affected facilities will have the option to continue working with the National Archives, with relocation expenses paid for workers at the Anchorage location.

These moves will save the archives about $1.3 million annually.


NARA
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 8:57:38 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]