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# Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Family Reunion!
Posted by Diane

I’m in Madison, Wis., for the reunion of Patricia Skubis and her fourth cousin, Birgit Mose. Birgit traveled here from Denmark after Pat entered our family reunion contest with MyHeritage.

She and her daughter Christine were waiting with a sign at the airport when Birgit stepped off the escalator. 

I’ll bring you more of their story in an upcoming Family Tree Magazine.


Family Reunions | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 11:27:31 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Monday, August 29, 2011
City Directories: Watch and Learn
Posted by Diane


Even if you missed the Family Tree University Summer 2011 Virtual Conference, you still can learn our expert instructors’ secrets and strategies with on-demand video classes from the conference.

Videos are about 30 minutes long and compatible with Macs and PCs. This snippet from Maureen A. Taylor’s class City Directories: Key to Your Family’s Past shows a demo of the free city directories on the Internet Archive website.

Other classes cover

  • Irish research
  • German newspapers in the United States
  • using naturalization records
  • platting your ancestors’ property
  • pre-1850 censuses
  • digitizing your family’s documents
  • … and more

You can get the Virtual Conference videos individually or in tracks (Tech Track, Ethnic Track or Research Strategies Track), or get all 17 videos in one fell swoop.


Editor's Pick | Family Tree University | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Monday, August 29, 2011 11:43:49 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
Updated: Free Immigration Records on Ancestry.co.uk and Ancestry.com Through Sept. 5
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.co.uk, the British sister site of Ancestry.com, has made its immigration collection free today through Sept. 5 (you will need to register for a free account on the site).

Update: I just heard from Ancestry.com that its collection of U.S. and International Immigration and Naturalization records also will be free through Sept. 5. That includes arrivals at US and Canadian ports, naturalizations, passport applications, and more.

Click here to start searching the collection on Ancestry.com.

The Ancestry.co.uk collection includes many of the same records: arrivals at US Atlantic and other ports, records of early US immigrations, US naturalizations, the Irish Emigrants in North America collection, etc. To see the list, go here and scroll down to the Included Data Collections box.

Click here to start searching the Ancestry.co.uk immigration collection.


Ancestry.com | Free Databases | UK and Irish roots
Monday, August 29, 2011 8:41:17 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
Free Immigration Records on Ancestry.co.uk Through Sept. 5
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.co.uk, the British sister site of Ancestry.com, has made its immigration collection free today through Sept. 5 (you will need to register for a free account on the site).

The collection includes arrivals at US Atlantic and other ports, records of early US immigrations, US naturalizations, the Irish Emigrants in North America collection and more. To see the list, go here and scroll down to the Included Data Collections box.

Click here to start searching the Ancestryco.uk immigration collection.


Ancestry.com | Free Databases | UK and Irish roots
Monday, August 29, 2011 8:41:11 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [22]
# Friday, August 26, 2011
Get Google Tips in Free Webinar
Posted by Allison

I'll bet everyone reading this blog uses Google to help with their family history work in some fashion, from ancestor searches to emailing cousins. But are you taking advantage of all its genealogy tools? Do you have a search dilemma that's driving you crazy?

Lisa Louise Cooke will tackle those questions in a free 30-minute webinar called Ask the Google Guru. Tune in Thursday, Sept. 1. at 1 p.m. Eastern time to hear Lisa's tips. You can submit a question in advance on the registration page.

That day, we'll also be releasing the Ultimate Google for Genealogists Collection of training tools by Lisa:
Watch for details on ShopFamilyTree.com. And be sure to register for the webinar! If you can't make it Thursday, you'll be able to watch the recording online afterward.

Genealogy Web Sites | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Friday, August 26, 2011 5:05:04 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [10]
Genealogy News Corral, August 22-26
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch added to collections from seven countries, including 6 million record images from Mexico. Other additions include parish register records from Belgium and England, and church book records from Russia. New records were added from eight US states: Maryland, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. Click through to the new and updated collections from here.
  • UK family history site Genes Reunited has released a variety of military records from WW1 and the Second Anglo-Boer War. Collections include Royal Naval Officers' Medal Roll 1914-1920, New Zealand WWI Soldiers, Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919, and records with 258,800 names of men and women who fought during the Second Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902.
  • Subscription genealogy site Ancestry.com has expanded its US school yearbook collection, adding nearly 25,000 new yearbooks. It now totals more than 35,000 books with 155 million records from 1884 to 2009. The books come from high schools, junior highs, academies, colleges and universities. They're also are available on the Canadian-focused Ancestry.ca.
  • Jill Barone of St. Petersburg, Fla., won the Red Star Line Museum's "Do You Know This Girl?" social media contest. Barone wins a trip to Antwerp, Belgium, for the official pre-opening festivities of the Red Star Line Museum in May 2012, and a $1,000 shopping spree at Diane Von Furstenberg's Antwerp boutique. The museum will open in spring 2013.

Ancestry.com | Canadian roots | Genealogy Web Sites | Military records | Museums | UK and Irish roots
Friday, August 26, 2011 1:14:46 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
Nature's Wrath
Posted by Diane

The National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) Washington National Records Center in Suitland, MD, is closed today, Aug. 26, and Mon., August 29, due to building damage from Tuesday’s earthquake. According to a NARA blog, the earthquake didn’t damage records there.

The center holds records of Federal agencies located in Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It also has records of Federal Courts in Washington, DC.

Hurricane Irene makes it a double whammy for NARA’s Washington, DC, -area facilities, and archives along the East Coast are in the storm’s projected path. Keep tabs on closures at NARA facilities by checking its operating status page and Facebook pages. In the DC area, call 301-837-0700.

Here's NARA’s emergency preparedness page, which also includes information on dealing with water-logged photos and documents after a disaster. Our thought are with those who live in the area—be safe. 


NARA
Friday, August 26, 2011 1:06:48 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Thursday, August 25, 2011
Last Chance for August Deals at ShopFamilyTree.com
Posted by Diane

August is coming to a close and so are the month’s specials on genealogy books, webinars and more in our online store. You've got a few more days to take advantage! Here are three of the items we’re discounting through August 31:
  • Brick Wall Busters Value Pack (101 Brick Wall Busters: Solutions to Overcome Your Genealogical Challenges, Brick Wall Busters: Solutions to Real-Life Stumpers on-demand webinar and Research Remedies CD) discounted 58 percent
 
 

View all of the month's specials, see the August Deals page at ShopFamilyTree.com.


ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Thursday, August 25, 2011 2:08:22 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Museums Offer Free Admission Sept. 24
Posted by Diane

Get ready for Museum Day Saturday, Sept. 24, when hundreds of museums across the country will offer free admission (good for up to two visitors per household).

Participating museums include such history-related sites as the 1810 Goundie House in Bethlehem, Pa.; Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Ill.; Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn, NY; Museum of Women's History in Billings, Mont.; and the Historic New Orleans Collection in New Orleans.

You’ll need to fill out an online form and select the museum you want to visit from a dropdown menu, and you’ll get your admission ticket via email.

Print the ticket and take it with you when you visit. Each ticket is valid for two people to visit one venue, and there’s limit of one ticket per household.


Genealogy Events | Museums | Social History
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 1:38:28 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Brick Wall Tips From the Virtual Conference
Posted by Diane

It was a busy Family Tree University Virtual Conference weekend for us and for our Virtual Conference instructors, Supermoderators Thomas MacEntee and Nancy Hendrickson, and the conference attendees. Thanks to all participants for a great event!

If you missed it, you can order the Virtual Conference video classes for on-demand viewing at ShopFamilyTree.com

One of my favorite parts of the conference was the live chats, which buzzed with research tips, questions and inspiration. For example, Thomas’ Saturday evening chat, Pick Thomas’ Brain: Ideas on Creative Approaches to Genealogy, was chock full of advice.

I’ve pulled some comments from the chat to share here (I made some edits and added topic headings so the Q&A is easier to follow).

On brick walls:

  • Thomas: First, very often I think what we call a brick wall isn't really a brick wall . . .

  • Joan: What do you mean by a brick wall not being a brick wall?
  • Thomas: To me it is a matter of perhaps not having all the right tools at one's disposal. Or it could be a matter of going back and rechecking spelling, surname variations, etc.
  • Allison FTU: A true brick wall is when you have exhausted every possible avenue for research and there is no more information

In many cases, what we refer to as a brick wall is really just an exhaustion of ideas

  • Patricia: A Brick Wall to me is having a timeline just end with no leads. Just solved 2 of my brick walls by reviewing current finds in detail as if I was looking at the finds for the first time.

On ancestral adoptions:

  • Terri: My brick wall is my grandmother, born and adopted in 1900. I thought her SS application might help, but she apparently fibbed on the application! Gave her adopted info as official

  • Kerry: I've used church records to find babies who were baptized prior to their adoption. Not all were adopted at birth.

  • Allison FTU: If you know what area she was born in, you might try guardianship records.

  • Terri: Are guardianship records civil records, private institutions, what?

  • Allison FTU: Guardianships are typically court records. So you do need to know which county to look in.

On going beyond well-known resources:

  • Carol: I have a line that went to Nebraska. FamilySearch and Ancestry seem to have nothing and GenealogyBank only later years. Any links for Nebraska?
  • Thomas: What time period? Were they Homesteaders?
  • Carol P: Late 1800s to early 1900s

On ordering ancestors’ vital records:

  • Mary Ann: When I look for birth, marriage, and death certificates in the US, I am taken to sites where it is free for 7 days and then you pay. Is there a good site to find these certificates?
  • Thomas: I personally don't recommend those sites. In most cases, if you know how to order them directly from the state or county, it is better and cheaper. What do others think?
  • Mary Ann: Yet, the states’ [vital records office websites] are sending me to those sites.
  • Kerry: I totally agree; I'd much rather order directly from the source.
  • Terri: I have seen some states that use a private online payment service for their records, but there's generally an option to pay the vital records office directly.
  • Kerry: Some states (Minnesota, for instance) house records at the state historical society, and you can order (and in some cases, view) them online.
  • Thomas: Did you know that some societies have a vital records service where they will, for a much cheaper fee, pull the records? Illinois State Genealogical Society does this for Illinois Death Certificates.
  • Mary Kay: Or borrowing microfilm from your local FHC.

On hard-to-trace immigrants and F.A.N. clubs:

  • Christine: Ancestor arrived in 1750 from Rotterdam, based on PA baptism records which are German Lutheran—don't have a clue where to start across the pond. Strategy much appreciated....

how to get from point of departure (Rotterdam) in 1750 to where he might have lived...

  • Thomas: Have you tried the F.A.N. club approach? Friends, Associates, Neighbors?

Elizabeth Shown Mills uses that F.A.N. club term all the time.

Last night on my radio show, Gail Blankenau from Omaha who specializes in German Parish Records used the term "10 up and 10 down" meaning always go up 10 lines from what you've found and down 10 lines as well.

  • Allison-FTU: Christine, have you heard of something called manumission records?

In Germany during the time period, emigrants had to pay a tax to be released from serfdom. The resulting records are manumissions

There's an often-referenced index to German manumissions by Werner Hacker ... let me see if i can find a link

  • Christine: Would they have been microfilmed by the Family History Library?

On online research tools:


Family Tree University | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | immigration records | Research Tips | Social Networking | Vital Records
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 9:50:10 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Friday, August 19, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, August 15-19
Posted by Diane

The big news this week, of course, was Footnote’s new military focus and name change to Fold3, the free 1940 census images and index to hit Ancestry.com mid-April 2012, and the hullabaloo at Geni.com. Among this week’s other happenings:
FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software
Friday, August 19, 2011 11:08:38 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [17]
# Thursday, August 18, 2011
New Name, New Content Focus for Footnote.com
Posted by Diane

The subscription genealogy website formerly known as Footnote.com will now be called Fold3.

Ancestry.com, which acquired the site along with its parent company, iArchives, last year, is rebranding it with the new name and a new focus on military-related content.

Historical military records have always been one of the site's strengths. The name Fold3 refers to the third fold of a flag in a traditional flag-folding ceremony, which is said to represent the sacrifices of military veterans.

Military records currently on Fold3 come from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War and others.

“We have already begun expanding Fold3’s robust military collection to include new pension application files and draft cards,” says Brian Hansen, Fold3 general manager.

Don't worry—Footnote.com's nonmilitary records, such as city directories, naturalization documents, the Pennsylvania Archives collection and more, will remain on Fold3. Ancestry.com spokesperson Heather Erickson tells me they'll be in an “Other Collections” category.


Ancestry.com | Fold3 | Footnote | Military records
Thursday, August 18, 2011 2:02:32 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Last Call for Virtual Conference!
Posted by Diane



We’re super excited about the start of our Summer 2011 Virtual Conference tomorrow! But that means it’s your last chance to register. And you can save 20 percent by entering code FTU0811 at registration.

Seven reasons to register:

  • Your all-access pass lets you download the videos to watch again later (or see them for the first time if you missed one), as well as download PDFs of the presentation slides
  • Tour the virtual exhibit hall (answer quiz questions to be entered into prize drawings).

  • Log in any time during the conference to watch classes or chat (9 am Friday, Aug. 19, to 11:59 pm Sunday, Aug. 21)
  • Participate from anywhere you can access the internet
Learn more about the Summer 2011 Virtual Conference and register here.

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Thursday, August 18, 2011 9:53:39 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, August 17, 2011
1940 Census Will be Free on Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy website Ancestry.com has decided to make the 1940 census images and index—which will be on the site after the 1940 census is opened next year for research—free to search and view through 2013.

That’ll be more than 3.8 million images with 130 million records. Even better, they’ll be indexed by 45 fields, meaning you’ll be able to search on the name, street address, county, state, parents’ birthplaces and more.

The records won’t be on Ancestry.com right when the census is released April 2, 2012. Ancestry.com’s press release says they’ll commence “streaming onto the website in mid-April 2012.”

Can’t wait until mid-April? The record images will be available first on the National Archives’ website, but they won’t be searchable right away by name. Click here to see our post about finding your ancestors’ 1940 census enumeration district.

Get help with your census research—including preparing for the release of the 1940 census records—in the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine.

Visit FamilyTreeMagazine.com for tips on researching the 1940 census and our free video on how to find your ancestors in the records.


Ancestry.com | census records | Free Databases
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 2:16:37 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Where to Find Historical Newspapers Online
Posted by Diane


I realized how important old newspapers are to genealogy when I stumbled across this 1924 article about my grandfather on GenealogyBank:


What a find! The article has so much "what was he like?" detail that I wouldn't have found elsewhere. So I wanted to share some resources from contributing editor Rick Crume’s November 2011 Family Tree Magazine cover story on researching ancestors in online newspapers. 

In the article, Rick provides a chart with the essentials on 15 large online historical newspaper collections—some free, some by subscription or with society memberships, some available through libraries—including:

He also notes where the sites' collections overlap, and offers some advice on finding other, smaller collections of newspapers:

The November 2011 Family Tree Magazine also has articles on using published family histories, researching English roots, finding cultural and ethnic heritage organizations, tracing ancestors in Chicago and Portland, Ore., using Mocavo.com and more. The issue hits newsstands next week, but you can order it now from ShopFamilyTree.com

For even more help finding ancestors in old newspapers, check out Family Tree University's Newspaper Research 101 class.


Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles | Newspapers | Research Tips
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 2:47:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Geni Draws Fire For New User Permissions
Posted by Diane

Geni, a world family tree site where users can build family trees by creating profiles for relatives and ancestors, has made big changes to what paid and free members can do on the site.

In this blog post Aug. 11, Geni announced that free, “Non-Pro” members can no longer add new profiles to the “historical” tree (any public part of the Geni tree) or merge profiles. Free members still can add to their private trees.

Geni Pro subscribers, who pay $4.95 per month for a one-year membership, now “have full permission to add on to, edit, and merge profiles in the historical parts of the tree,” according to the blog post.

Pro users also can search through all the 110 million public profiles on Geni to find relatives to add to their trees. Free members can search and find only their close relatives in the historical tree, as well as profiles they added and profiles they follow.

"Close relatives" means 4th cousins and closer, as well as third-great-grandparents and closer. In-laws are included.

“I'd like to make it clear that Basic (free) users did not lose their ability to view or edit any profiles as part of these changes," says Geni CEO Noah Tutak. “In fact, we did not change view or edit permissions at all. What we did is align permissions in the historical, public sections of the tree, beyond close relatives.”

But comments on Geni's blog post are largely negative. A common theme: Many members, some of whom have added hundreds or thousands of profiles to the site, feel Geni is cutting them off (without advance notice, according to the comments) after encouraging them for years to build its historical tree.

“Losing control” of their public data strikes fear in the hearts of genealogists. They don’t like to idea of others merging their ancestors without having to compare notes first. They have visions of mistaken merges and incorrect names and dates replicating themselves across the internet.

Tutak thinks Geni’s changes will reduce such errors. “These changes were designed to restrict merging to a smaller group of more engaged users, with the goal of increasing data quality,” Tutak says. “If a merge is made in error, the same set of tools are available now as in the past to correct mistakes. In the near future, we'll provide even more robust tools to undo merges that will make correcting these mistakes, which are extremely infrequent, even easier”

Several Pro users commented that they’ll no longer be able to entice relatives—who aren’t likely to purchase Pro subscriptions—to collaborate on building their family trees.

“A member with a free account can build out a large enough tree to get a good feel for the quality of Geni's tools and decide whether or not they would like to use Geni for their entire tree,” says Tutak.

“The number of users contributing to the world [public] family tree is a small percentage of our overall user base, and so far we haven't seen a slowdown in the growth of the tree due to these changes.”

Family tree sites have struggled for years with how to build accurate trees that are large enough to attract additional contributions—that’s why we're still waiting for the trees feature on the new FamilySearch.org to be publicly available. Skewing benefits toward paying users—who, theoretically, are more heavily invested and knowledgeable—is one approach. It’s also likely to anger free members. Many comments on Geni's blog predict that the site won't survive this change.

You can read genealogists’ opinions on the changes at Genea-Musings  and Dear Myrtle


Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 12:57:49 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, August 12, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, August 8-12
Posted by Diane

  • Congratulations to Lisa Louise Cooke, podcaster and blogger at Genealogy Gems (and Family Tree Magazine podcast host). Appadvice.com named Lisa’s Genealogy Gems Podcast app a must-have in the Hobby category of its AppList. Appadvice.com reviewers called it “a great resource for both amateur and professional Genealogists … The interface is easy to use and the type and controls are larger, making this application ideal even for older users.”

The Genealogy Gems podcast app features streaming of the Genealogy Gems podcast, plus show notes and bonus material. It’s available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad (at the iTunes store) and Android phone (in the Marketplace).

  • FamilySearch added 4.3 million record images this week, nearly half of those to its Hungary Civil Registration, 1895–1980, collection (my husband is a quarter Hungarian, so this moves up his tree a few notches on my to-do list).
Other new records come from Austria, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Panama, and the US. Note these record images aren't yet indexed, so you'll need to browse them. See the updated collections and link to them from here.

Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software
Friday, August 12, 2011 12:00:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: McCulloch's Proclamation
Posted by Diane

Confederate States Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch, having won a victory Aug. 10, 1861, at Wilson’s Creek, Mo., issued a proclamation to the people of Missouri Aug. 12. He asked them to pick a side. “Missouri must now take her position, be it North or South," he wrote. 

Missouri, a border state, supplied troops (nearly 110,000 to the North and 40,000 to the South) and equipment to both sides. Separate state governments represented each side during the war, and both the Union and Confederacy considered Missouri theirs.

Initially, Missouri tried to stay neutral by remaining in the Union but not contributing men or supplies. After Wilson’s Creek, Union Gen. John C. Fremont imposed martial law, but the remnants of the elected government voted to secede.

The state suffered from its own internal war, in addition to the larger one. “Conflict in Missouri was characterized by savage guerilla warfare that led to the destruction of entire towns,” writes Michael O. Varhola in Life in Civil War America

Learn more about Missouri in the Civil War in Varhola's book and at the state’s sesquicentennial website.

Also, the free Missouri Digital Heritage (one of our 101 Best Websites for genealogy) has a Civil War section with several collections of digitized records, newspapers and research guides that’ll help you trace ancestors of the era and walk in their shoes.

See Missouri research resources at ShopFamilyTree.com here

Get research guidance for Civil War service members from Missouri and elsewhere in our Family Tree University course Civil War Research: Find Your Ancestors in the War Between the States, with instructor Diana Crisman Smith. The next session starts Aug. 29. (You can use code FTU0811 to get 20 percent off tuition.)


Civil War | Family Tree University | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Social History
Friday, August 12, 2011 11:09:38 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, August 11, 2011
Your Advice for Organizing Family Archives
Posted by Diane

Last week, Allison fessed up about her so-far-untouched mountain of boxes inherited from her grandmother, full of genealogy records, pictures and news clippings, with some nongenealogical stuff thrown in for good measure.

 

A bunch of you chimed in with advice, encouragement and stories that’ll benefit other overwhelmed family archivists. The gist of your advice is:

  • Take your time. Baby steps!
  • Sort by family, people or place.
  • Digitize.
  • Archival storage.
  • Share.
  • Consider donating what won’t be kept.

Here are some more details from your suggestions and stories. To read the full comments, go to Allison’s “Organizing Grandma’s Archive” blog post and click Comments at the bottom. 

  • Claire suggested making an inventory of the items: “Tackle one box a week. Label the first box 1, the second 2, etc. Go through the contents and list everything in a notebook under the appropriate tab. For example, in the Anderson-Dugan tab, you might have:
John Dugan birth certificate, box 1
Photo of Anderson family reunion 1930, box 1

"At some later date you might relocate everything to a better storage system," Claire adds, "but at least for now you'll know the contents of each box.”

  • Joseph Martin would allow more time: “I count 15 boxes in your stack. Give yourself two months to sort and organize one box. In less than three years, you will be done.”

  • Renee advises scheduling small chunks of time (30 to 50 minutes) a few times a week, so things don’t feel overwhelming. “I wouldn't begin to move things around until you document how the documents appeared, since what folder they were in or what they were next to can have bearing on the meaning of the document. I would take photos of the box and each item in the box as you unpack them.”

She also recommends digitizing as you go. “If you re-create the folders and boxes digitally, you'll always know the exact order they arrived in. You can then tag them or make digital copies and reorganize them according to your preference. It will make you familiar with what's there and you won't have to reorganize the actual papers. You can just store them (or toss, if needed) and work with the digital copies.” 

  • Patti McElligott describes her system of 3-inch binders for each family name, with each family member on a tabbed index sheet. Paper records for each person go inside clear sheet protectors behind his or her tab.
Patti’s tip for labeling photos: “Take a stack, and anytime you are sitting down, write on the back the who, what, where etc. There are pens made for this that will not damage the pictures.”
  • Cheryl Hughes was also left with an archive like Allison’s, but from several different relatives and families. She’s been working on it for 10 years. “I still get boxes, as I am thought of as the 'picture person' of all these families,” Cheryl says.
She separated papers from the pictures, and had some of the old photos and tintypes restored and copied. “I am copying all pictures to CDs or SD cards and having prints made to share with other family members … the originals are in safe, acid free boxes, with copies in albums.” 
  • Micki Gilmore’s inherited archive is smaller. “I plan to digitize. There are some great scanners out there,” she says, and plans to tackle one box at a time.
  • Diane Hart has been digitizing photos all summer. “The photos are on discs, and then I view them on a slide show on my computer. They look so nice! … From photos I received from my 83-year-old aunt, I made a disc for her with a very nice identifying label, printed a thumbnail photo gallery of disc contents, and included my contact information. Then I drove miles to deliver this to her, and we watched the slideshow. She absolutely loved it! She is the only living child in my Dad's family of 13.”
  • S. Lantz is using Clooz software to keep track of her archive. “[It] allows you to tag names in your genealogy name list with each item (photos, census, documents, books, etc.). If you assign a unique number to each item, you can run an individual report that will list all of the items tied to that individual.” 
  • Juanita Dean uses photo boxes and tabbed dividers to organize her photos by place, then event. “If you look at the photos yearly, put them in a larger box that is handy to share for reunions, otherwise use archival boxes to put them away.”
  • I love Ardith Hale’s words: “The Chinese say you can move a mountain one spoonful at a time.” She advises Allison catalog and digitize, then sort.
“I have been given a huge store of pictures, which we went through with my mother to assign names, then sort by family. Each family gets theirs. Older ones are being digitized, copied and spread around so that hopefully somewhere there will be a copy. Unidentifed ones are kept together in the hope that some reunion or gathering can attach a name.”
  • Shasta says “Take your time, think of a plan, and execute it slowly, a little bit at a time … I managed to scan our family photos by doing a few each day, a little extra when I had time.”
If you're looking for more advice, the January 2011 Family Tree Magazine has Denise Levenick's (she's the Family Curator blogger) guide to organizing a family archive like this one.

Feel free to keep sharing your stories about sorting through family collections—we love to hear 'em.

Family Heirlooms | Photos | Research Tips | saving and sharing family history
Thursday, August 11, 2011 9:35:48 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Civil War Witness Trees
Posted by Diane

Workers at Gettysburg National Military Park last week were cutting up a fallen oak tree on Culp's Hill, a key location in the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, when they hit 148-year-old bullets.

Battlefield trees like this one, still bearing scars and bullet wounds, are called Civil War witness trees. (Another kind of witness tree is found in public land states—a surveyor would blaze a tree near a section corner as evidence of the section boundaries.)

I hadn’t heard the term until I read about the Gettysburg discovery, and it makes perfect sense: Eyewitnesses are long gone, but these trees stood on the battlefields when our ancestors dug trenches, reloaded guns, charged the other side, were injured and died.

Many witness trees are famous and were captured in contemporary drawings or Mathew Brady’s photographs, for example:

  • Burnside Bridge Sycamore at Antietam, Md.
  • Appomattox Courthouse Pin Oak in Virginia
  • Copse of White Oaks near Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, Pa.
  • Southern Magnolias at Andersonville, Ga.

You can see photos of these and other trees at The Bivouac website

Sections of the Culp’s Hill tree with bullets will be displayed in a museum at Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Daily blog has posts about witness trees, with lots of photos and directions for finding them.

Here are some Civil War resources from Family Tree Magazine:


Civil War | Historic preservation | Social History
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 9:12:35 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Research Help for Illinois Ancestors
Posted by Diane


If you have Illinois ancestors, here’s an important acronym to know:

IRAD

It stands for Illinois Regional Archives Depository, a statewide records management system that divides the state into seven regions and helps you access genealogical records. 

IRAD is just one of the Illinois resources Thomas MacEntee will introduce you to in our Illinois Genealogy Crash Course webinar, Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. Eastern (6 Central, 5 Mountain, 4 Pacific). 

MacEntee, a Chicagoan, creator of the GeneaBloggers website, and author of the November 2011 Family Tree Magazine Chicago research guide, will cover important Illinois history, including migration patterns:

“From 1800 to 1840, many migrated to southern Illinois from Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Virginia,” he says. “After 1830, they came to central Illinois from Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The period from 1840 to 1920 saw a flow of immigrants to the Chicago area. A great migration of African-Americans from the South to Chicago and other northern cities took place from 1920 to 1970.”

You’ll also get information on essential Illinois records, including the marriage return, and other websites where you can do research on ancestors from the Land of Lincoln.

Be sure to take advantage of our Early Bird special, which saves you $10 off your Illinois Genealogy Crash Course webinar registration.


Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Tuesday, August 09, 2011 4:24:06 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, August 05, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, August 1-5
Posted by Diane

  • Genealogist Michael Hait has started the Ancestry Errors Wiki to keep track of the site’s “errors in imaging, programming or organization.” For example, one contributor noted that on Ancestry.com, “In the 1840 U. S. federal census, the city of Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, is incorrectly listed in Edmonson County, Ky.”

You can search the wiki or use a drop-down menu to find errors by state. Have you discovered such an error? Click here for instructions on adding a page to the wiki.

  • Ancestry.ca now includes UK Railway Employment Records, 1833 – 1963, a collection containing the employment-related records of British railway workers dating back to the early 19th century. These records from the British national archives give employee names, home station, date of birth, information on their career progression, salary increases, rewards, conduct, and notes from superiors. Search the database here
But less than 1 percent of Egypt’s modern-day residents belong to this haplogroup, according to iGENEA, and it’s unknown how King Tut’s ancestors got to Egypt. The company is hoping its search for King Tut’s closest living male relatives will lead to an answer. If you order a test from iGENEA and match King Tut on 16 markers, the site promises your money back and a free upgrade. 
  • The 31st annual International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) conference starts next Sunday, Aug. 14, in Washington, DC. Online registration is closed, but you can register on-site. Click here for more information

Ancestry.com | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy | Jewish roots
Friday, August 05, 2011 1:06:05 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, August 04, 2011
Organizing Grandma's Archive
Posted by Allison

Speaking of organization challenges, in the November 2011 issue, I ask for readers’ help with a dilemma: how to sort and store the genealogy archive my grandmother passed on to me. I’m not one to make a mountain out of a molehill ... But this actually resembles a mountain:



For her part, Grandma did manage to loosely organize the collection into boxes for specific relatives or branches of the family.







She also sorted scores of family letters into binders.



Still, some material isn't sorted or labeled. Along with the treasures are random non-genealogy-related items that need to be weeded out. And none of it is stored in what you could call an archivally friendly manner.

I'll admit the prospect of reorganizing and digitizing this mountain of memories has overwhelmed me. So I'll pose the same question to all of you family and professional archivists out there: What's your advice for making this project manageable?

Can't wait to hear your suggestions.

Family Heirlooms | saving and sharing family history
Thursday, August 04, 2011 1:42:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [29]
# Wednesday, August 03, 2011
You Could Win Photo-Organization Help!
Posted by Diane

Got a photo mess like this one on your hands? Old, unlabeled family pictures spilling out of shoe boxes, falling out of albums and deteriorating in the attic or basement?

Show us your photo mess, and you could win a safe place to store your family photo archive, plus expert photo preservation advice from Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor 

To enter, submit a picture of your photo mess along with a short plea (fewer than 150 words) convincing us why you need photo-organization help. You can submit your photo and short story either of these ways:

Family Tree Magazine editors will choose the entry displaying the worst photo mess and the most-convincing plea for help, as well as two runners-up.

One grand-prize winner will receive $250 worth of archival-quality photo-organization supplies and a signed copy of the book Preserving Your Family Photographs by Taylor. Two runners-up will each receive a signed copy of the book.

We’ll announce the winners in the March 2012 Family Tree Magazine. The entry deadline is Aug. 31, 2011. See more Photo Organization Contest details here


Photos
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 10:02:16 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
FamilySearch Adds Records, Launches YouTube Channel
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has added new records from the United States and seven other countries—Canada, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, and Poland—to its record search.

Updates to US collections total 1.8 million records, including the South Dakota 1945 state census, New York court records, Indiana marriage records and Utah Indian Wars service affidavits.

Note that in many cases, the updates consist of unindexed digitized documents, meaning you won’t find them using the search on FamilySearch’s home page. Instead, you’ll need to browse the collections by date or place (however the records are organized).

Click here to see a list of the updated collections, whether each one is indexed, and a link to each collection

FamilySearch also has announced it’s launching a YouTube channel Aug. 4. You can preview it now by watching Genealogy in Five Minutes: Learn From Family (this one’s actually 6 minutes and 8 seconds long), with tips on talking to relatives about family history.

The video is part of what'll be a 24-episode series offering quick tips on various aspects of genealogy. When the channel launches, you’ll also be able to watch inspirational videos, those highlighting the lighter side of genealogy, a series on societies and archives, how-to videos and others.


FamilySearch | Research Tips
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 9:40:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Save Your Genealogical Sanity
Posted by Diane

Do you have dents in your forehead from banging it against a brick wall? Our August Ultimate Collection is designed to save your forehead, your sanity, and your genealogical motivation with solutions to research brick walls such as

  • missing records due to fires, flood and other disasters
  • hard-to-find ancestors in censuses and passenger lists
  • pre-1850, head-of-household censuses
  • ancestors born (or married or died) before vital record-keeping
  • not knowing where to look next

The Family Tree Ultimate Research Solutions Collection has expert advice and ideas for conquering genealogy challenges, including

  • The Family Tree Problem Solver, revised edition, by Marsha Hoffman Rising: It has techniques for approaching real genealogy problems, plus case studies so you can see the advice in action. This edition includes new information about online research and using DNA research. 
  • 101 Brick Wall Busters: Solutions to Overcome Your Genealogical Challenges: This Q&A book answers research questions from Family Tree Magazine readers. 
  • Brick Wall Strategies: Advice and Ideas for Getting Past Research Dead Ends on-demand webinar: Learn how to assess your research problems and formulate a plan of attack for solving them.
  • Reverse Genealogy: Family Tree University Independent Study Course download: This course teaches you tactics to research your family tree forward (the opposite of what genealogists usually do) to find living relatives.

The Ultimate Research Solutions Collection is $59.99, a 67 percent discount, during August. Only 39 (and counting down) are still up for grabs, so get yours while you can!


Editor's Pick | Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, August 02, 2011 11:26:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]