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# Tuesday, 25 July 2017
New Resource for African-American Genealogy: IAAM Center for Family History
Posted by Diane



The International African American Museum (IAAM), opening in early 2020 in Charleston, SC, will include a Center for Family History dedicated to helping researchers trace African-Americans in their family trees.

It sounds like a long time to wait, but the center's website is already available, with a growing collection of obituary, funeral and marriage records, as well as research tips in a Learning Library and a blog by professional genealogist Robin Foster.

Toni Carrier, founder of the LowCountry Africana website, is developing the IAAM Center for Family History. Staff will assist researchers in finding resources about their families and help with DNA testing.

The $75 million museum and research center will be located at Charleston's former Gadsden’s Wharf, where almost half of all enslaved Africans first arrived in America via the Transatlantic Slave Trade. You can see artist's renderings of the museum here.

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African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites | Museums
Tuesday, 25 July 2017 08:55:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 18 July 2017
Five Ways to Have the Best-Ever Virtual Genealogy Conference!
Posted by Diane

Can you believe how fast summer is sailing by? Which means the Family Tree University Virtual Genealogy Conference is right around the corner, Sept. 13 to 15.

This online event has the excitement and shared knowledge of a genealogy conference, without the expense and difficulty of travel and being away from family and work. Or the pressure to change out of your fuzzy slippers.


Wikimedia commons, Ch2410

You get a weekend of video classes (which you can download to keep), networking with genealogy researchers and experts via our conference message boards, and a live keynote. Classes and Q&A sessions cover genetic genealogy, websites, methodology, organizing and preserving your research, and ethnic research.

I hope you'll join me there. Use coupon code FALLVCEARLY to save $40 on registration! (Code expires Aug. 11, 2017.)

As a seasoned Virtual Conference attendee, I've got a few tips for making the most of the experience:

1. Peruse the program ahead of time.
Most of the conference is on-demand—you log in to watch videos and post to the message board any time during the conference. But Lisa Louise Cooke's keynote presentation on Sunday, "Big Pictures in Little Details," is live, as are the expert Q&A sessions on the message boards. Mark the scheduled bits on your calendar (remember the Virtual Conference is on East Coast Time).

Since you can download the classes to watch again, don't worry if you can't squeeze them all into the weekend. But do try to watch the ones most related to your research during the conference so you can discuss them on the message boards.

2. Free up some time.
The time-saving convenience of attending from home is a MAJOR draw. But carve out some time over the weekend to watch the videos and chat on the message boards. The Virtual Conference genealogy inspiration gets me excited about trying new strategies and resources, so I usually want to spend some time researching, too.

I minimize errands that weekend, and declare a pizza night for the kids. Daddy does something fun with them and we grant them more screen time. Therefore, my children enjoy the Virtual Conference almost as much as I do!

3. Log in on Friday.
Even if you're not planning on doing much conferencing on Friday, take 15 minutes to log in, go over the orientation and click around the conference. Make sure you can download a video. If you have any problems accessing the conference content, just post to the Technical Issues board and we'll address it as quickly as possible.

4. Play along.
You'll get the most benefit out of the classes and opportunities to interact with others if your research is fresh in your mind. Go over your tree before the conference to refamiliarize yourself with difficult ancestors. Make a list of your surnames and places for the surnames message board.

A lot of action happens on those boards! Introductions are made, tips shared, questions answered, brick walls solved, books and websites recommended. We'll even exchange recipes and family stories. Check here often during the conference, post your questions, and answer other peoples'.

5. Get comfy.
Everyone talks about how great it is to do genealogy in your pajamas. NOW'S YOUR CHANCE!! Wear your comfiest PJs and fuzziest slippers. Don't bother doing your hair. Make some coffee or tea, fetch your favorite snack and pad over to your computer. Revel in it.

Visit FamilyTreeUniversity.com to check out the conference details and sign up today. Remember to save $40 (before Aug. 11) with coupon code FALLVCEARLY!


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Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Research Tips
Tuesday, 18 July 2017 09:54:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 11 July 2017
How I Created a Genealogy Timeline To Show My Grandfather's Life
Posted by Diane

My grandfather Joe moved around a lot during his lifetime: Texas, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, back to Texas, elsewhere in Texas, Ohio, more places in Texas, various Ohio cities, South Dakota, Ohio again. 

Timelines organize an ancestor's or a family's family tree data—dates, places of residence, jobs, historical events, children's births—in an orderly fashion. I love them.

So when I was making a photo book about my grandfather as a Christmas present for my dad, I thought a timeline was just the thing to help summarize all those migrations. Matching up the timeline with a map of all the places would be even better.

My Grandfather's Migration Timeline
Here's the timeline and map I came up with:



The right-hand page lists each place Joe lived, with dates and details about what he did in that place. The information comes from my research in censuses, city directories, newspapers and other genealogy records. I'm lucky to have copies of a job application my grandpa filled out with his work history.



Looking at it now, I can see some things I'd change. But overall, I'm pleased with it.

For the map, I first tried customizing a Google map using free numbered place markers downloaded from here (Google's marker options don't include numbers). To create your own Google maps timeline, add a generic place marker to the map, click the paint can to edit the marker style, choose More Icons, then Custom Icon, and select the marker image file from your computer. You'll need a Google account to save the map.

I didn't love the result for my photo book, though, so I imported a map image into desktop publishing software I have access to through work, and added numbered place markers I created myself. Then I exported the file as a JPG to use in the photo book. 



I know a few tricks, but I'm not a graphic designer, so there's probably an easier and more artful way to go about making the map.

Using Timelines in Your Genealogy Research
Timelines are among your best genealogy tools. In addition to helping you easily share genealogical information, they let you: 
  • get an overview of a person or family in historical context

  • sort out a confusing jumble of information you've found in records

  • spot problems (why was Great-grandpa here and Great-grandma over there?)

  • note periods of missing information

  • brainstorm answers to research questions, such as why a relative immigrated or where your great-grandparents met
Our new independent study online course Using Timelines in Your Genealogy helps you take advantage of all these genealogy benefits of timelines.

It'll show you how to use timelines to understand your ancestors' lives and solve research problems, and how to create a timeline by hand or using websites such as Twile and Treelines. Best of all, you can take this independent study course at your own pace and download the videos and research guides to keep.

See all the details for our Using Timelines in Your Genealogy course and register at FamilyTreeUniversity.com.

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Family Tree University | Maps | Research Tips
Tuesday, 11 July 2017 12:43:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, 05 July 2017
Cemetery Superstitions, Little-Known Facts and Genealogy Secrets
Posted by Diane

Do you love everything about cemeteries—finding family burial places, studying the old stones with their intricate designs, taking in the peaceful landscape, discovering old records in the cemetery office?

Then you'll love our new book, The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide, coming in September from Family Tree Books. 



In the Cemetery Field Guide, veteran genealogist, blogger at A Grave Interest, and self-described "tombstone tourist" Joy Neighbors introduces you to different types of cemeteries and helps you find your ancestors' burial sites, understand tombstone symbolism, and uncover cemetery records you didn't realize existed.

Get to know to Joy and find out about her fascination with cemeteries with our Q&A:

Me: What turned you into a tombstone tourist?

Joy: It all began with a picnic. I was on a date with a guy (who later became my husband) who took me to a cemetery with a hamper of great food and a bottle of wine. He spread out a blanket near the lake and we talked about our lives, our views on life and death, and our interest in art, and somewhere in there, I forgot I was in a cemetery. I was just sitting outdoors having an amazing evening.

We married two years later and we’ve been visiting cemeteries ever since.

It was more than 25 years later when I decided to write A Grave Interest and share this forgotten history and art.


Joy Neighbors

Me: How many cemeteries have you've visited during your lifetime?

Joy: I’ve visited everything from huge city cemeteries to a cemetery located in the middle of a highway. Brian (my husband) is on the lookout for cemeteries when we travel. We spot one from the highway and we’ll detour off. Every cemetery is different but they are all worth a visit because you never know what finds are waiting.

Let’s just say I’ve been to thousands of cemeteries, but I’m always looking for the next one to visit.

Me: When I was young, my sisters and I would hold our breath when driving by a cemetery in Mom or Dad's car. What strange cemetery superstition have you encountered?

Joy:As a child, I was told not to count the cars in the funeral procession or your funeral would be the next one to drive by. I was a kid who counted everything: steps, train cars, clouds, so that was tough. 

There are so many superstitions about death and burial. Here are just a few that I’ve come across:
  • Never point at the funeral procession, it will bring bad luck.
  • If it rains in an open grave, it brings bad luck to the family.
  • Flowers and grass grow on the graves of those who have lived virtuous lives. Only weeds or mud will cover the grave of someone who was evil.
  • Never whistle in a graveyard, you are summoning the Devil.
  • Never take anything from a cemetery; the dead may follow you to get it back.
  • If there is thunder following a burial, the deceased has reached heaven.

Me: What's your favorite cemetery (and why)?

Joy:It’s so difficult to choose. If I narrowed it down by size, my favorite large cemetery is Cave Hill in Louisville, Ky. The artwork there is phenomenal and the history is amazing. It’s an older cemetery that has maintained a modern edge with its monuments, sculpture and stained glass. Plus, it’s very haunted. (And yes, I have stories from visiting.) 

For a medium sized cemetery, I’m torn between Highland Lawn in Terre Haute, Ind., and Oak Hill in Evansville, Ind. Highland Lawn has great symbolism on the stones, mausoleums, and a wealth of history. Most of the town’s historical figures are buried there. (It's haunted, too.) Oak Hill has tons of tree stones (my favorite), and rolling vistas with huge oak trees. The Civil War burial ground is one of the best designs I’ve seen.

I love small cemeteries because they're so intimate. You really have time to get to know who’s buried there, and I like to read the stones and wonder what life was like.

Me: Could you share something surprising about cemeteries that you've found most people don't know?

Joy:A cemetery is one of the most exquisite (and inexpensive) places to hold a wedding. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and manicured, and covered with sculpture, architecture, stained glass and other art. It is truly like getting married in an outdoor art museum.

If the cemetery has a chapel, there’s also the advantage of having an indoor wedding option. Cemeteries are just starting to embrace this idea, so if it’s something you’d like to do, don’t be afraid to approach them. 

Me: If readers remember one piece of advice from The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide, what do you want it to be?

Joy:Never stop digging! I loved Nancy Drew mysteries when I was a girl, and that’s how I approach cemetery research. It’s all a mystery; I just have to figure out how to find the clues. And those clues could be hidden in records, family Bibles, photographs, or symbols on stones. Even the people themselves may hold the answers—or the clues.

I hope that the Cemetery Field Guide inspires others to become Tombstone Tourists and enjoy all the history and art that our cemeteries have to offer.

Me: You wrote on your blog that cemetery research led you to a family secret of monumental proportions. You explain everything in the Cemetery Field Guide, but can you give us a hint about what you discovered?

Me again: I'm gonna make you wait for this answer—and to hear about Joy's favorite tombstones of all of her cemetery visits. Stay tuned for more from Joy Neighbors! And of course you can find out more about The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide and preorder it in ShopFamilyTree.com.

Cemeteries | Genealogy books

Wednesday, 05 July 2017 14:40:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]