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<2014 May>

More Links

# Wednesday, 07 May 2014
New Genealogy Webinar: Making MyHeritage Work for You
Posted by Diane

Much earlier than the Elvis came along in Tupelo, Miss., in 1935, a baby girl named Elvis was born in 1817 in England.

With the recent announcement from MyHeritage that the website now includes 5 billion historical records, folks there had fun searching the site for famous names—including James Bond, Elizabeth Taylor and others—in the site's birth, marriage, death, immigration, military and other collections. Fun facts they found are in an infographic on the MyHeritage blog.

MyHeritage, which also owns the World Vital Records and Geni websites, has quickly become a formidable family history resource. So quickly that many genealogists aren't familiar with the research potential in the site's record collections, Super Search search engine, Record Matching tools, and family trees.

Making MyHeritage Work For You Webinar

You can find out how to discover your ancestors with MyHeritage and its sister sites in our Making MyHeritage Work for You webinar with Gena Philibert-Ortega. It's happening Thursday, May 22, at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. PT). The webinar includes
  • a tour of the MyHeritage and World Vital Records historical record collections, photographs and family trees
  • how to use the Super Search and Record Detective features
  • how to use the site's tools to connect with cousins
  • how to create a family website, chart, timeline and calendar on MyHeritage
  • how to use
Everyone who registers for the webinar will receive access to view the webinar again whenever you want, plus your own copy of the presentation slides. 

Learn more about the Making MyHeritage Work for You webinar here.

MyHeritage | Webinars
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 14:48:21 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 02 May 2014
Genealogy News Corral: April 28-May 2
Posted by Diane

  • has added The Collection  which details the crimes of thousands of boys admitted to three institutions for children in West Yorkshire, England. The records, which date between 1779 and 1914, also contain information on nearly 400,000 adult offenders. You can find them in separate collections of reformatory school records, prison records and police records.
  • The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is seeking genealogy bloggers, societies, writers and editors to be ambassadors for its 2014 conference, happening Aug. 27-30 in San Antonio, Texas. You can see the requirements and benefits, and register, on the FGS conference website. | Genealogy societies | Genetic Genealogy | MyHeritage | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 02 May 2014 10:30:21 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 01 May 2014
What to Bring When You Hit the Road for Genealogy
Posted by Diane

This time of year marks the start of genealogy road trip trip season, whether it's to a conference—the National Genealogical Society annual conference is in Richmond, Va., May 7-10—or to a library.

As you plan this year's genealogy travels, here are things I've found useful to bring (or not bring) when attending conferences and going to libraries over the years:
  • Extra layer. No telling whether a conference classroom or library will be sweltering or over-air-conditioned, so bring a sweater.
  • Early-bird mindset. If you want to sit somewhere in particular for a class, arrive early to secure your spot. For some speakers, such as Elizabeth Shown Mills or Tom Jones, it's a good idea to arrive early if you want to sit at all.
  • Extra bag. "I wish I had another bag" is a common comment by genealogists who pick up freebies and make purchases from Family Tree Magazine at conferences. Carry an extra tote bag around with you for purchases, handouts, syllabi, etc.
  • Small comforts. Other things you might wish you had include hand sanitizer, tissues, a bottle of water (concessions can be pricey), address labels (for entering prizes at a conference), Dramamine (to help with microfilm reader motion sickness), your headache remedy of choice, gum (for a conference; it's usually a no-no in libraries), and more-comfortable shoes.
  • Drink and a snack. I rarely want to stop my research to go get lunch, and sometimes there's no place to get lunch even if I want a break. You can leave water and a granola bar in the car for consumption outside, if there's no snack room.
  • Only what's allowed. Visit a repository website ahead of time for info on what you can bring inside, whether you can use a cell phone or digital camera to photograph records, and how you'll make copies (such as on a photocopier or scanner). Also double-check hours, any special closures, and whether materials are pulled from storage at particular times.

  • As little as possible. It doesn't always work, but I try to carry around only the "stuff" I really need at the library, so I'll have less to keep an eye on and can minimize fumbling around. Usually I have:
    • my phone to access my tree, attached records and research log (I download any important documents to my phone in case I can't get a signal at my destination).
    • a little purse with my phone, a flash drive for digital copies, bills and change for copiers or copy cards
    • a pen or pencil and a notebook with my prioritized list of materials I need to find, with pertinent notes about the people I'm looking for
    • depending where I'm going, maybe a tablet in a computer bag, but I do tend to be more of a paper-and-pen note taker
  • Knowledge from the locals. If you're going to a repository, cemetery or conference that's new to you, ask local genealogists what you should know before you go. You might get inside info on the best place to park and eat lunch, staying safe, or a librarian who's especially knowledgeable in your research area. If you don't know anyone to ask, a genealogy pal might be able to put you in contact with a helpful person, or you could friend the local genealogical society on Facebook.
  • Back-up plans. Plan where you'll park, and where you'll park if you can't find a spot there.

Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips
Thursday, 01 May 2014 09:51:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, 30 April 2014 Adds Millions of Quaker Genealogy Records
Posted by Diane

If you're researching ancestors who belonged to Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), you'll want to know about a new collection on  The Quaker Collection has birth, marriage, death, disownment and memorial records from meeting minutes spanning more than 300 years.

The collection also includes the classic Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy by William Wade Hinshaw, college yearbooks and alumni directories, periodicals and more.

About 85,000 Quakers live in the United States today, according to the press release. In the 1700s, nearly half of all residents in the Mid-Atlantic States were Quaker. 

Well-known American Quakers include Pennsylvania founder William Penn, Revolutionary War Gen. Nathanael Greene, frontiersman Daniel Boone, abolitionist Levi Coffin, suffragist Susan B. Anthony and social activist Jane Addams.

Family Tree Magazine's guide to researching Quaker ancestors, part of our Religious Records series, explains the structure of preparative meetings (similar to a congregation), now called a local meeting; monthly meetings (similar to a parish), which served as the major record-keeping unit; quarterly meetings; and yearly meetings. estimates the site now has more than 75 percent of American Quaker records in existence, thanks to help from Earlham, Havorford, Swarthmore and Guildford colleges, which were founded by Quakers, and the British national archives.

Search's Quaker Collection here. | Church records
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 14:56:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 28 April 2014
Finding My Great-Great-Grandfather's 1879 Deed Record
Posted by Diane

Don't tell anyone, but I almost did Dora the Explorer's "We Did It!" dance at work the other day. You might know it if you have small children or grandchildren.

You might even have done this dance if you're a genealogist who finally found the old property record you've been looking for.

I will explain. My genealogy research day last December included a trip to the Cincinnati History Library & Archives to find my great-great-grandfather's H.A. Seeger's deed for this property in its microfilmed deed books.

From searching city directories, I knew my ancestor began living at 112 Abigail St. (the address has changed over the years) about 1880. The librarian showed me the microfilmed deed book indexes and explained they don't cover all the records, so if I didn't find what I need, I should ask about finding the deed by location.

I checked indexes for several years before and after 1880. This took awhile due to the handwriting and the number of S-surnames (loosely alphabetized by first name). H.A. Seeger wasn't there.

Another librarian helped me with the location search. Or more correctly, I looked on and nodded and tried to answer his questions as best I could. We used a map to find the subdivision name and the lot number, and scrolled through a microfilm index for this subdivision. H.A. Seeger's name was listed with book 421 and page 623. He's fourth from the bottom in this fuzzy photo of the screen, which came in handy later:

My librarian friend handed me the microfilm covering that book and wished me luck. Only the record in that book on that page wasn't H.A. Seeger's. I didn't even recognize the names. I checked adjoining pages, I checked deed numbers instead of page numbers, I  checked book 412 and on page 632 in case some indexer transposed the numbers. Then I ran out of time.

FamilySearchorg recently updated its Hamilton County, Ohio, collection with land and property records. They aren't indexed yet, but I thought I'd see what I could find.

I checked my snapshot of the index, and I didn't find deed book 421 in FamilySearch's collection. I was about to close the site when I scrolled down to see the other records—and I came across a mortgage book numbered 421. I clicked, typed 623 in the image number field, flipped another page (image numbers are usually a little off from page numbers because of the cover and other front matter), and there was H.A. Seeger's record.

(If you're researching in Hamilton County, this genealogical society web page and the PDFs it links to are extremely helpful in understanding the confusing numbering of property record books. There are both a deed and a mortgage book numbered 421.)

He purchased the property May 27, 1879, from Joseph and Agnes Otten with a loan of $200 from the Woodward Bau und Leih Verein (Building and Loan Association). The record describes the location of the property, the building, and the terms of H.A. Seeger's repayment. A note on Dec. 3, 1889, says he paid it off. It gives the book and page numbers recording the plat and recording Joseph Otten's purchase in 1864, adding two items to my genealogy to-do list.

Want to do find your ancestor's land records and do a "We Did It!" genealogy dance of your own? Get in-depth help from our online course Land Records 101: Using Deeds, Plats, Patents & More, with Diana Crisman Smith. It starts May 5 and runs four weeks. See a course outline and register at

court records | Family Tree University | Research Tips
Monday, 28 April 2014 12:23:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 25 April 2014
Genealogy News Corral, April 21-25
Posted by Diane

  • The Ohio Historical Society (OHS), which also serves as the state archives for my home state of Ohio, is changing its name to the Ohio History Connection as of May 24. The society's research found that many people interpret the name as exclusive and antiquated. Besides the state archives, OHS runs the Ohio Memory website and 58 museums and historical sites across the state. It's also undertaking a newspaper digitization project. Read more about the name change here.
  • FamilySearch has added more than 10.7 million images of records from Australia, Brazil, England, France, Italy, Peru, Spain and the United States. You can see the list of updated collections here. Remember that if a collection has a 0 in the "Indexed Records" column, you'll need to browse those records instead of searching. Click on the collection title to get to the page where you can browse or search it.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, 25 April 2014 14:08:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 23 April 2014
11 Family Reunion Keepsake Ideas
Posted by Diane

Family reunion season is in the summer, which means now is a good time to think about details such as any mementos or souvenirs you'd like to create, whether to remember the reunion or for attendees to take home.

Here are some ideas for both types of keepsakes. Some will do double-duty as activities to keep folks busy and talking during the event:
  • A family tree thumbprint poster for each person to add his or her unique mark. You would need the blank tree, colored ink pads, and baby wipes so people can wipe off the ink. A printable blank tree is part of our Instant Family Reunion Deluxe Kit in (it also includes a planning checklist and book; coordinated templates for pretty name tags, signs and other materials, a decorative family tree you can type in and print copies, and more).

  • A family cookbook, consisting of recipes handed down and relatives' new favorites. You could have contributors send recipes ahead of time and paste them into a Word document to print and share, or have people bring recipe cards you can collect, copy and share. Or go fancier and create a cookbook on a photo book website. Most sites let you share your photo project so others can order copies for themselves.

  • A quilt made of squares contributed by each person or family. You would need fabric markers or paint and cloth squares, and a handy person to sew them all together later on. You could auction off the quilt to raise money for next year's reunion (and then the winner could bring it back to be auctioned again for another relative to keep for the year).

    If you want families to be able to take something home, you could have them create two squares, one for the quilt and one to keep and frame. 
  • A scrapbook, with pages created by each family (ask attendees to bring their family photos). You can scan the pages later to share.
  • An autograph album, with the signature of each reunion attendee.
  • An ongoing album with photos from each reunion, which a designated person could keep, update with new photos, and bring back each year.
  • A large group photo, like this one or even this one. You can have reprints made for each person, or email digital copies (if a professional photographer takes the shot, be sure to get his or her permission first).
  • Have the children interview their grandparents and record it, or have someone write down the questions and answers on an interview form (part of the aforementioned Instant Family Reunion Deluxe Kit). You can create a video or compile the forms into a book to share.
  • T-shirts with your family name and an old photo or a group shot from a previous reunion. It might be fun to have fabric paint or markers so people can personalize their shirts.
  • A family calendar with birthdays and anniversaries marked, and perhaps important dates in family history. You can download calendar templates from the internet at sites such as this one or use the ones available with your word processing software.
  • Plants from Grandma's garden. You could root cuttings ahead of time, then distribute them in small flower pots.

What reunion goodies has your family created? Click Comments below to tell us.

The Instant Family Reunion Deluxe kit is on sale in April in Check it out today—fewer than 50 are left.

Family Reunions | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 16:07:33 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 22 April 2014
10 Tips for Genealogy Spring Cleaning
Posted by Diane

Sweeping, mopping, dusting ... I could do without that kind of spring cleaning. When you already sweep the kitchen floor twice a day (I have two toddlers and a shed-happy dog), you don't get excited about deep-cleaning.

But genealogy spring cleaning: Now that's a different story. Looking through my research, labeling folders, filing documents and giving files consistent names sounds like heaven.

Whether or not it sounds heavenly to you, the tips readers sent for our Genealogy Spring Cleaning Contest will help you get—and keep—your research organized. Here are the winning tips and some of my other favorites (we're compiling a free download with categorized additional tips from the contest, and we're also planning on featuring some in a Family Tree Magazine article).
  • Anita Boynton, who won our grand prize, will get a free registration to the Family Tree University Organize Your Genealogy online course. She says: "I color coded my four grandparents' lines, so that I can easily grab a folder or whatever as I need it. I used red, yellow, blue and green, so I can easily use colored pens, pencils, binders, stickers, etc., to sort, tag and mark boxes and pages, color-code categories in my Outlook email browser for tasks and contacts, etc."
Our two runners-up each received our How to Archive Family Keepsakes e-book by Denise Levenick.
  • Luanne Newman's tip helps her keep an ongoing timeline of ancestral residences: "As I find dates pertinent to an ancestor, I enter it into an Excel file. For instance, my grandfather was a chef in Chicago and as I run across correspondence from an employer or information on his draft card, I'll put the employer's name and the date he was employed there. I have a file for each relative to update when I find fun facts. 
  • Herbert Boring has a tip for keeping track of master copies of records and forms, "A lot of the time when I can't find a copy of a paper, I just make more copies until I don't know what the original is. When you make or get the first copy of something, make a small mark on it with a yellow highlighter. It will not show up when you make a black-and-white copy, so you'll always know which is the original."
A few other tips that resonated with me are:
  • I have written up a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for my digital files. This way I am saving photos and documents the same way and I'l be able to find them later. » Tina Telesca
  • For future generations and their organization—I am collecting autographs from family members.  I take my autograph book with me at family get togethers, reunions, and whenever we have a chance to visit family out of state. » Marsha Landry
  • I file all documents, photos and other items in chronological order in binders using sheet protectors. Each binder starts with a couple's marriage and ends with their death. As each of their children marries, a page is inserted directing reader to a new binder starting with the marriage of that child. » Jan Rogge
  • I've scanned all of my parents' and grandparents' photos to Flickr.  It only costs about $25 a year, and that way the photos are safe if my house gets blown away by a tornado.  I've created "sets" for each grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.  If a family member is interested, I can send the link to the person they're inquiring about. I have the majority of pictures labeled with who they are and other information. » Melissa Hull
  • I have a great little multi-sectioned notebook in which I've dedicated a section for each family I am researching. I no longer have bits of paper and post-its wandering around my research space. It fits inside my purse so I can bring it with me. » Sharon Sommier
  • As I receive papers, I make a goal to scan them right away. The original then enters my folder that is building up continuously. Once that folder is full, the sorting begins.

    For digital materials, I have a folder on my computer desktop.  There's nothing like a good movie to sit there and watch while sorting through, documenting information and putting them into their digital folders! » Sarah Stout
  • I used OneNote to organize all those pieces of information that just don't fit into the family tree—at least not yet. I have a scribbler called Family History with tabs for each family surname. When I find information that I'm unsure fits,  I enter it under the appropriate family tab then on the individual's page. I make sure I put the source, so when I want to go back to that information I know where I can find it.
You can make other scribblers, such as research logs, genealogy general information or anything else you'd like to keep track of. » Ellen Thompson-Jennings
And Carolyn Hoard has the honor of submitting the funniest tip. I have a feeling most genealogists can relate: "Shut your office door when people arrive. Don't forget to migrate stuff into your storage room. Close the door fast, before it escapes!"

Research Tips | saving and sharing family history
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 11:41:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 18 April 2014
Genealogy News Corral, April 14-18
Posted by Diane

Happy Passover and Easter to you! I hope those of you observing either holiday are enjoying family traditions your ancestors held dear. In this week's news corral:
  • The US National Park Service is kicking off National Park Week with free entrance days Saturday and Sunday, April 19 and 20. The parks are full of opportunities to discover history at places such as Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado and the Wright Brothers National Memorial in North Carolina. (As an aside, I went looking for a few history-related parks to mention here and I'm realizing how many are always free. Of the 401 national parks, 133 usually charge an entrance fee.)

Genealogy Apps | NARA | Social History
Friday, 18 April 2014 13:39:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Genealogy Q&A Time: The Genealogical Proof Standard
Posted by Diane

Q. What is the Genealogical Proof Standard? Do I need to worry about it if I research my family history as a hobby?

A. The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is a set of guidelines the Board for Certification of Genealogists developed to help researchers draw sound conclusions about their ancestors. It has five elements:

  • Reasonably exhaustive search
  • Complete and accurate citation of sources
  • Analysis and correlation of the collected information
  • Resolution of conflicting evidence
  • Soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion

Certified genealogists do a lot of work to show they understand the GPS, but anyone can use the guidelines to be as sure as possible they're tracing the right ancestors and sharing accurate family information. The GPS is outlined here, with bullet points about how each element contributes to the credibility of your research.

For example, to conduct a reasonably exhaustive search, "finding multiple sources for a single piece of information, such as a birthplace, is key," writes Sunny Jane Morton in the October/November 2012 Family Tree Magazine guide to using the GPS.

“If you look at just one source, you won’t see that there’s more than one possibility for what happened,” Elizabeth Shown Mills explains in the guide. Mills is the author of source analysis references including Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian (Genealogical Publishing Co.).

“We know that when there are multiple eyewitnesses to an event, the accounts differ," she adds. "In historical research, there’s no such thing as the final answer. All we can do is gather the best evidence possible and make a decision.”

In following the second element of the GPS, complete and accurate citation of sources, Mills recommends "For every ‘fact’ we gather, we need to consider why we are accepting it as ‘fact.’ What is there about this source that makes it credible?”

Chances are that with your family commitments, job, volunteering and other activities, you don't get to spend as much time  as you'd like on your genealogy research. Using the GPS as a guide will help you make sure that the time you can spend is devoted to researching your ancestors and honoring their true experiences. 

You can purchase Family Tree Magazine's GPS guide as a download here, or Family Tree Plus members can read it here.


Family Tree University's Source Analysis One-Week Workshop, April 18-25, will show you how you can use the Genealogical Proof Standard as you evaluate the reliability of your genealogical sources, resolve conflicting information, and draw conclusions about your ancestors' lives. Learn more about it at

Family Tree Magazine articles | Family Tree University | Research Tips
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 12:10:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]