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# Friday, April 11, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, April 7-11
Posted by Diane

  • The British Newspaper Archive, a partnership between D.C. Thomson Family History (owner of the findmypast websites) and the British Library, has a new, free iPhone app called Here & Then. It shows you newspaper articles about what happened on this day in history,  amusing news blurbs from history, and historical news articles related to today's headlines. Download the app from the iTunes store.

  • Findmypast has announced an initiative to release 100 databases in 100 days. The databases will come from around the world and so far include the Birmingham Pals WWI battalion, Glasgow Pals, Liverpool Pals and more. Learn more here. In related news, subscribers to the British site Findmypast.co.uk are up in arms about site updates many say make the site harder to navigate and search. The new site was rolled out to international customers over a year ago, but only recently introduced to UK customers, according to a Q&A on the problems

  • Professional genealogist and house historian Marian Pierre-Louis has started a new podcast called The Genealogy Professional. It provides guidance on running a genealogy business for professional genealogists and amateur researchers considering going pro. Shows are broadcast weekly, released every Monday through the Genealogy Professional website as well as iTunes and Stitcher.
  • British genealogy site Origins.net has updated its free Devon Wills Project index to include more than 300,000 Devon wills from 1164 to 1992. Not all of the original wills referenced survived WWII bombings; the index tells you whether an original, copy, transcription or abstract of the will survives and how to access it. Search here.



findmypast | Genealogy societies | Podcasts | UK and Irish roots
Friday, April 11, 2014 1:35:22 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Polish Genealogy Research Challenges and Tips
Posted by Diane

If you have Polish ancestors, the country's historical partitions and border changes have probably presented some genealogy research challenges. Here's an example of why:
  • If your ancestors lived in eastern Poland, records from 1868 to 1917 will be in Russian. Records from 1808 to 1868 generally should be in Polish.
  • As for western Poland, controlled by Germany while Russia ruled the east, records generally will be in German or Latin (the language used by the Catholic Church), although you may find some in Polish.
  • In Galicia, the part of the partition ruled by Austria, most records will be in Latin, although some will be in German and Polish.
  • The present is almost as confusing: Poland had 49 wojewodztwo, or provinces, until a January 1999 reorganization. There now are 16. The old provinces frequently had a city with the same name as the province.

In our Polish Genealogy Crash Course webinar on Thursday, April 24, Eastern European genealogy expert Lisa A. Alzo will show you US records to help you locate your immigrant ancestor's town or village in Poland, what Polish records you should look for, and the leading websites and library resources for tracing Polish roots.

You can learn more about the Polish Genealogy Crash Course and register at ShopFamilyTree.com.

You'll also want to explore the Polish genealogy websites on this list, and bookmark this chart of Polish-language genealogy terms.



International Genealogy | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 2:18:18 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Cigars and Sewing Machines: Finding My Ancestor's Estate Inventory in Old Court records
Posted by Diane

So this was exciting: I found the estate inventory for my great-great-grandfather H.A. Seeger, who died Aug. 18, 1923, in Hamilton County, Ohio, court records digitized on FamilySearch.org.

This collection isn't yet indexed and can't be searched, so I've been browsing. I'm still trying to figure out how the records are organized, which according to our upcoming Mastering Genealogy Research in Court Records online course, can vary by county and time period.

Many of the volumes have indexes in the front (usually grouped by first letter of the last name, and then sometimes by first letter of the first name). In slowly clicking through volumes around dates of family marriages, deaths and other events, I found H.A. named in the index of an inventory record volume for 1923. I went to the page number listed. 

The estate inventory separates the contents of H.A.'s cigar store, which one of his sons took over, from the household goods in the residence above the store.

He owned $230 in store inventory and equipment, including "2 doz. Lucky Strike," "14. pkg. Old Va. cheroots," "lot miscellaneous stogies" and $15 in penny candies.

In the house was a chiffonier (I had to look this up—it's a high chest of drawers, which may be the one now in my uncle's house), a sewing machine (probably belonging to H.A.'s wife, who died in 1916, or one of their daughters) and other goods, totaling $54.25 in value.

The inventory also listed bank accounts worth $110.58 and $210.70 (about $4,411.14 in today's money, according to the CPI inflation calculator).

The inventory was notarized Oct. 1, 1923, and filed the next day. Now I'm looking for a will and other probate documents, and I'll use the information in the four-week Mastering Genealogy Research in Courthouse Records online course to help speed up my search. The course isn't just about finding records online, but also what you can find at the courthouse in nondigitized records. It's great for starting your foray into these richly detailed, but often intimidating, genealogical records.

For expert advice on using the free collections at FamilySearch.org—including the unindexed, not-searchable ones—check out our webinar 10 Simple Strategies for Using FamilySearch.org, happening Wednesday, April 16.


court records | Family Tree University | FamilySearch | Research Tips
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 2:14:35 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, April 04, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, March 31-April 4
Posted by Diane

  • Genealogy website MyHeritage has added the Jewish Chronicle, the world's oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper, to its SuperSearch subscription collections. MyHeritage has more than 200,000 digitized pages of the London-based newspaper, dating back to 1841.
Additional Jewish records now being added include the Israel Genealogy Research Association databases (1860-1890) and Avelim (Israel death notices). Read more about these additions on the MyHeritage blog.
  • The Statue of Liberty—Ellis Island Foundation (SOL-EIF) said in a fundraising email that it will expand its collection of free ships' passenger lists on the EllisIsland.org website, with help from FamilySearch. The site will add records from 1925 to 1957 to its current collection, which spans 1892 to 1924. Ellis Island was open from 1892 until 1954, but immigration plummeted in 1924 due to the National Origins Act. The site now holds 25 million names; about 11 million are immigrants and others are ships' crew members and Americans returning from abroad.
  • If I could go back to my youth, I would totally beg my parents to let me do this: The National Archives building in Washington, DC, will host summer and fall sleepovers for children ages 8 to 12. Kids will have fun learning about historical records, then spend the night in the National Archives Rotunda.  Registration opens in mid-May. Learn more here.


immigration records | Jewish roots | MyHeritage | NARA
Friday, April 04, 2014 11:40:23 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
View and "Warp" Old Maps Using NYPL's New, Free Map Warper
Posted by Diane

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has launched a new online tool called the Map Warper, which lets you overlay an old map onto a modern map and digitally rectify the two. 

The Map Warper gives you access to more than 20,000 digitized historical maps depicting places around the world. You don't need to log in to view maps, overlay them, or see already-rectified versions. With an account, you can add your own "control points," which are points that match up on the old map and the corresponding modern map. A map must have at least three control points to be rectified.

I searched for a map of Cincinnati and found one from 1860.

NYPL Map Warper

I created an NYPL account and used the Rectify tab to add a control point where my Ladenkotter third-great-grandparents lived in 1860. The map already had other control points, so I added only the one.

NYPL Map Warper

Then I clicked Warp Image, let the Warper finished working, and clicked Preview Rectified Map:

NYPL Map Warper

You can zoom in and adjust the transparency. Here's a closeup of where the Ladenkotters lived, at Abigail (spelled "Abagail" here; it's now E. 12th) and Spring. It's just below and to the right of the 9.

NYPL Map Warper

You can click the Export tab to download a copy of the original or warped map.

The Map Warper website also has a four-minute video tutorial on using the Warper.



Libraries and Archives | Maps
Friday, April 04, 2014 10:30:27 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, April 01, 2014
8 Ways To Know It's Time To Start Writing Your Family History
Posted by Diane

genealogy stories wedding photo

We research our ancestors for lots of reasons. For me, it's so they'll be known and remembered—not just by me, but also by my family.

Lots of us genealogists have a goal to write our family history. It's one of the best ways to organize research finds, draw conclusions, and neatly package our family history (instead of delivering it in a pile of records, notes and sources).

But we can't wait until we're "finished" researching to start writing. All genealogists know you never finish researching: There are always more relatives to discover and brick walls in the way. So how do you know when it's time to start writing? Here are eight tipoffs:

1. People are curious. For me, it was when people in my dad's family started asking about my research. I brought my binder of records (this was before I kept most documents digitally) to a family gathering. I promised copies to my aunts, and it occurred to me that I should add some context. Their paternal line was small enough that I could write a simple narrative in a Word document (here's more on that), put it on CDs with PDFs and JPGs of records, and hand them out at Christmas. 


2. An important anniversary is coming up. Your parents' Golden wedding anniversary, or a 25th annual family reunion, is a great occasion to put together some form of a family history book. Or consider current events: The upcoming WWI centennial is an opportunity to share the stories of ancestors of that era.

You don't have to write a complete family history—you could undertake one of these smaller, more manageable family history projects. Just give yourself enough time for whatever you plan to do.

3. You've found a story that wants to be told. Maybe your Civil War ancestor's pension record is a windfall of information about his experiences, your father or grandfather told you about surviving the Great Depression, or you strongly identify with your pioneer great-grandmother. My grandfather who died before I was born grew up in an orphanage and put himself through college. These stories hold important lessons.

4. You're at a brick wall. You might think you have to break through the brick wall first, but this is actually one of the best times to start writing. Writing about a research problem will help you analyze what you've found and come up with new ideas. Plus, if you wait until you solve every question, you might never start writing. You might even invoke Murphy's Law of Genealogy: The moment you finish writing your family story, you'll find the record you've been after for years.

5. You solved a brick wall or achieved a research goal. If you finally found your immigrant ancestor's passenger record or identified a mystery photo, celebrate by writing that story and how you solved the problem. It'll help you take stock of your research and figure out your next goal.

6. You need a break. If you're feeling burned out on doing research, or you need to refocus, stop looking for new information. Instead, look through everything you already have and start writing.

7. You feel like you should be writing this stuff down. If you have a nagging feeling that you should be writing about the family history you've learned, there's a reason for it. Obey the voice in your head!

8. You've done some research. You can start writing a story at any point—no need to wait until your family tree is yay big. If you've only gotten to your grandparents, write about them. Or go closer to home and write how your parents met, or how you met your spouse.

In fact, this may be the best way to do it. As you continue researching, connect these smaller stories together and you'll have an ongoing narrative of your family history.

Our Write Your Family History Value Pack has books and lessons to help you plan out and work on your family history book writing project.
 
And if you need guidance on managing source information and citations in your research and writing project, look into our Family Tree University Source Analysis one-week online genealogy workshop, April 18-25, with professional genealogist Michael Hait.



Family Tree University | saving and sharing family history
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 10:14:32 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
6 April Fool's Day Pranks From History
Posted by Diane

Tales of April Fool's Day origins vary. Some say the tradition of playing pranks began about 1562 in France. Pope Gregory introduced the Gregorian Calendar, with the year starting on Jan 1 instead of April 1, but some hadn't heard of or didn't believe the date change. When they still celebrated the new year on April 1, their more enlightened countrymen played tricks on them and called them April Fools.

Today we might set all the clocks ahead two hours or put confetti in a spouse's umbrella (or create an imaginative magazine cover). On a grand scale, some of my favorite April Fool's Day pranks from history include:

1933: The Madison Capital-Times newspaper reported that the state capitol collapsed due to explosions from gases produced by the debates of state politicians. The article was complete with a doctored photo showing the capitol dome askew.

1949: New Zealand radio announcer Phil Shone told listeners a mile-wide wasp swarm was headed for Auckland. He urged them to take precautions such as wearing socks over their pants and leaving traps outside their doors. Hundreds complied. 

1957: The BBC news show Panorama announced a bumper spaghetti crop in Switzerland, with footage of farmers pulling spaghetti strands from trees. Viewers who called the BBC asking how to grow their own spaghetti trees were advised to "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

1976: An astronomer said during a BBC Radio 2 interview that at 9:47 a.m., Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, causing a phenomenon that would reduce the Earth's gravity. Anyone who jumped at the exact moment of the planetary alignment would feel a floating sensation. Hundreds claimed to have felt this sensation.

1977: This one is close to my editor's heart: Britain's Guardian newspaper published a seven-page supplement about an Indian Ocean holiday spot called San Serriffe. The two main islands, Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse, resembled a semicolon, with towns such as Bodoni and Garamondo, a leader named Gen. Maria-Jesu Pica, and a national bird called the Kwote. Guinness, Texaco and Kodak ran ads. Readers called the paper's offices all day for more information, and travel agencies and airlines complained that customers were insisting on vacationing in the islands. The San Serriffe Liberation Front even wrote the Guardian editor protesting the paper's pro-government slant.

1996: Taco Bell took out full-page ads in major newspapers, announcing the company had bought the Liberty Bell and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell. The Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, which houses the Liberty Bell, was flooded with angry calls.

I don't have any stories of pranksters in my family. How about you?


Genealogy fun | Social History
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 8:18:26 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
Family Tree Magazine's Skimpiest Issue Ever!
Posted by Diane


Genealogy fun
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 7:25:42 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, March 28, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, March 24-28
Posted by Diane

Online registration is now open for the 2014 Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference, happening Aug. 27-30  in San Antonio. Register by July 1 for the early-bird discount. I'm especially excited for this one because my dad's dad's family lived for a time in Texas, although conference sessions—taught by many of the experts whose books, blogs and Family Tree Magazine articles you read—will cover topics to help you research across the United States and abroad. Learn more about the FGS 2014 conference, read the conference blog and register here.

Registration also is open for the Indiana Historical Society's 2014 Midwestern Roots conference, Aug. 1-2 in Indianapolis, Ind. Coincidentally, my dad's mom's family is from the Hoosier State. Among the speakers will be Genealogy Gems' Lisa Louise Cooke (who is presenting a pre-conference Great Google Earth Game Show on July 31), Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center Director Curt Witcher, professional genealogist Amy Johnson Crow and other experts. Learn more about the Midwestern Roots 2014 conference and register here.

The Archivist at Pennsylvania's Bethany Children's home, which was established in 1867 and remains in operation today, emailed to let me know that MOcavo has digitized and indexed the home's early records. They're in three collections called Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania, Bethany Children's Home Book of Children One Index, Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania, Bethany Children's Home Book of Children Two Index, and Bethany Children's Home Book of Life Index. On Mocavo, you can search and view records in one collection at a time for free. With a subscription, you can  search and view records from multiple collections simultaneously. Learn more about the Bethany Children's Home records on Mocavo's blog.

The Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is launching a portal to give you access to photos from residential schools dating from 1885 to 1996. The LAC notes that 150,000 Aboriginal children attended more than 130 residential schools around the country. You already can see 65 photos from schools in Alberta, and you'll be able to find more photos by province or territory as they become available. Descriptions are included with dates, school names and locations when available (so far I haven't found any names of students shown in photos).


Canadian roots | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, March 28, 2014 10:24:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, March 27, 2014
Findmypast to Digitize 1939 Register of England and Wales
Posted by Diane

Findmypast.co.uk website owners DC Thomson Family History today announced plans to digitize the 1939 Register of England and Wales over the next two years.

The British government created the register to record information about citizens as of Sept. 29, 1939, as WWII broke out in Europe. It was used to issue identity cards and ration books, and later formed the basis of National Health Service records.

The register contains an individuals' full name, addresses, date of birth, sex, marital status and occupation, and also notes changes of name.

The 1.2 million digital images in the 1939 Register collection will become searchable on findmypast.co.uk within the next two years. Information about living individuals, however, will be kept closed for 100 years from their year of birth, or until proof of death has been authenticated.

You can read more about this project and register to get updates here.

Learn how to locate the place your English ancestors came from with our video class Hedgerow Genealogy: A Three-Step Strategy for Finding English Origins, presented by English genealogy expert J. H. Fonkert.


findmypast | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, March 27, 2014 9:52:17 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]