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Tuesday, March 25, 2014
What Does Your Last Name Mean? How to Find Out
Posted by Diane
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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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.
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)
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
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
- 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
- Early divorces often had to be approved by state legislatures;
look for these records in legislative records (usually at a
- 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
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
- One chatter reminded us not to assume that someone listed by
initials in a record (such as M.A. Smith) is male.
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)
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
source citations in Evernote
- accessing your Evernote notes
faster with tools like shortcuts and quick keys
- 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
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.
- understand more about genetic genealogy
- figure out
which test to take to solve which types of research problems
- how to interpret your test results
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)
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
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
Click here for show
notes, which include handy links to the websites mentioned.
↑ Grab this Headline Animator
Genealogy Web Sites | German roots | Research Tips
Monday, March 17, 2014 10:38:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
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
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)
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)
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)
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
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.
- 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
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
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)
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)
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.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 8:57:38 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)