Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reunion Season

I hope you have been taking advantage of family get-togethers over the holidays to gather some genealogical information. We usually think of the summer as the time for reunions...a natural consequence of summer vacations and travel. But why not the winter holiday season as well?

Families everywhere get together as a matter of tradition and there is no reason those gatherings cannot be turned into genealogy least in part.

Here are some websites that might give you some ideas about how to stage a mini-reunion:

Find Latitude & Longitude of any place

Eastman has an interesting article on how to find the latitude and longitude of any place on earth using a free site at
Read the article at and check out the site. Pretty interesting!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dating Old Photographs

Here is a link to a review of a book published by Family Chronicle titled Dating Old Photographs. I'm giving you this link because it describes a very helpful book and it may entice you to want to look at it. The review also suggests that a good way to use the book it to compare your own photographs with its 700 or so pictures covering the period from the 1840s to the 1920s. You will be able to compare clothing and hair fashion, the poses adopted by the subject and the background settings...all of which could help you date your photograph.

If the review strikes your fancy, I have good news. We have two copies of the book in our collection at the Largo Public Library, and at least one of those is circulating. And even better, there is follow-on book titled More Dating Old Photographs that we also have. The books have the call number 929.1028.

Check out the review to get a better idea of the book at

Monday, December 28, 2009

Genealogy Articles in Local Papers

Have you been reading the genealogy articles in the Largo Leader and the Seminole Beacon? They come our monthly, usually near the end of the third week of each month. The subjects of the articles vary widely and are aimed at researchers with all levels of experience so there is something for everyone.

The timing of the articles is handy because you can pick up a copy of the Largo Leader in the Book Mark Cafe at the Largo Public Library on your way to the monthly Pinellas Genealogy Society meeting the third Saturday of each month.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What Immigration Passenger Lists are Online?

This site is a real gem if you are struggling with immigration research. It is a large list of sites that give passenger list information. It includes free as well as fee sites, and its author, Joe Beine, updates it frequently.

The site deals with US arrivals as well as those in other countries such as Australia, Canada, and Brazil. It also offers departure lists from Germany and Ireland to name just two. There are many more intersting links that are well worth exploring.

Check it out at:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Youngest PGS Member is a Hit

Beka Troyer brought her mom, Diana, to the PGS meeting on 19 December. As you can see, she has her membership card proudly displayed...I can only assume from the picture that a PGS membership card, in addition to opening the door to great genealogical opportunities, also tastes good.

And speaking of membership...have YOU renewed your membership yet? Now is the time to do that so you don't interrupt your membership and miss the next great edition of our journal, or forego the opportunity to attend the annual seminar in February at the special PGS member price, or fail to support our comprehensive education program of classes and speakers.

Temporary Free Access to World Vital Records

I just got an email advertising free access to World Vital Records through 28 December. This is a good opportunity to see what the site has to offer in case you were considering a subscription.

Check it out at

Thursday, December 24, 2009

PGS Elections Held

Just a quick news item for those of you who could not attend the monthly meeting on 19 December. The elections were held and this is your new board of directors (the names correspond to the picture...starting with the back row from left to right, and then the front row from left to right):

Education Dir.-Bob Bryan
Webmaster-Ed Deming
Sem. Dir.-Larry Hosmer
Journal Ed.-David Dellinger
VP-Damon Hostetler
Pres.-Peter Summers
Mbrshp. Coord.-Gladys Evan
Project Dir.-Pat Leconte
Corresp. Sec.-Flo Bickel
Finance Dir.-Sally Brown
Recording Sec.-Rosemary Hayes
Treas.-Beth Shields

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Images of West Virginia Vital Records Searchable Online

Dick Eastman covered this announcement in his Online Genealogy Newsletter, and it is worth repeating. Unlike many states that provide online indexes to their vital records, West Virginia has made the images available also.

This is a boon to genealogists and other researchers. It is the result of a collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah. The objective was to make selected birth, death, and marriage records available at the West Virginia Archives and History Web site. This is an on-going project with records being added as possible.

You can access the records at: At the top of the page is a link to an article that describes the project in detail.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Heirloom Show-and-Tell a Success

This past Saturday at the PGS monthly meeting we had an opportunity for attendees to bring family heirlooms to display for all to see and to talk about them a bit.

The event was a huge success. about 15 people brought things like newspapers, swords, certificates, scrapbooks, old photographs, jewelry and other interesting items...all with fascinating stories accompanying them. The picture here shows a small sample.
The event was so popular that we plan to make this an annual event. So those of you who didn't bring your treasures this year will have a chance to show them off sometime next year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter Most Popular

As you've heard before from me, Dick Eastman is going to be our featured speaker at the Pinellas Genealogy Society Annual Seminar on 13 February 2010. Every time I have mentioned that, I have also commented on the popularity and reach of his online newsletter.

Well, now it is official--Dick's newsletter is the most popular online genalogy magazine as determined by Alexa. Alexa is the world’s leading company for measuring Internet traffic. The company monitors the web traffic of millions of Internet sources, including thousands of genealogy sites. Web traffic is objectively categorized based on the actual number of visitors to each web site. From these Internet traffic statistics, Alexa maintains a list of the most popular online genealogy magazines.

We are happy to see Dick get this recognition (although we suspected it all along), and it makes us even more excited about his participation with us at the seminar.

If you are interested in attending the seminar or seeing more information about it, visit our website at

If you would like to see an article listing Alexa's top ten most popular online genealogy magazines, go to:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Caladesi Chapter of the DAR Hold Seminar

On 27 January 2010 the Caladesi Chapter of the DAR isgoing to hold a seminar that will focus on researching Revolutionary War ancestors. This should be particularly interesting to you if you are thinking of gathering your research to apply for DAR or SAR membership.

The speaker will be Debbie Duay, Ph.D. who has over ten years of experience in genealogy. She is the Lineage Research Chairman for the Florida State Society DAR and the Registrar of the Lighthouse Point Chapter.

The seminar is free and will be held from 1 to 3 PM at the Dunedin Public Library.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Scoop on the 2010 Census

Dick Eastman's Online Newsletter has an article about the 2010 census that is very informative. It gives a bit of history about the census in general and also gives some uses of the census that some of us may not be award of.

He then goes on to focus on the up-coming 2010 census and this is where it gets really interesting as he talks about the question content and compares the 2010 census with those of previous years. He even gives a link to the 10-question form that you will be receiving in the mail starting in March 2010.

Check it out at:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Alberta Family Histories

The Alberta Family Histories Society website shows an interesting collection of information for those of you with ancestors from that part of Canada.

It provides links to all sorts of transcribed data (births, deaths, cemetery inscriptions, etc). Of particular interest is the collection of newspaper announcements. Many of the papers from which indexes were made date back to the early 1900's, and in one case, South Edmonton News, from 1894 to 1899 is covered.

The site, like most, is a work in progress. This means that more data will be added over time. When and how much depends on the work of their volunteers. Just as we in the PGS strive to publish genealogy data for Pinellas County for the rest of the world to use, so too is the Alberta Society. This is a vital roll of all genealogy societies, and it is why most volunteers do not even have ancestors from the area in which they are transcribing information. If you are interested in getting involved in such a project, contact our Project Director at (Subject: Request Volunteer Information).

You will find the Alberta site at:

Elections and New Horizons

I usually don't get involved in expressions of philosophy on this Blog, but our pending election prompts me to make an exception this time.

Elections are a time of renewal for an organization. They are a time when the membership expresses their preference for the direction the organization will take. So often, I think, we forget that. Instead, we simply go through the motions of confirming the slate presented. In part we get into this frame of mind because there typically is only one person running for each position, and many of those running are doing so a second or third time. It is easy to think of the voting process as merely the application of a "rubber stamp."

But make no mistake, an election, regardless of its form or content, is an exercise of choice. This Saturday is the PGS memberships' opportunity to make their choice. So attend the meeting and enjoy the holiday food and fellowship, take in the heirloom displays that people are going to bring, get excited about the drawings for free membership and in-home computer assistance we do, but also be prepared to vote and actively participate in the renewal of our society.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why Vital Records are Vital

George Morgan (a frequent speaker at PGS monthly meetings) wrote an article for titled "Obtaining Vital Records." The article covers topics such as why seek out those records, where to find them, what to ask for when you order them, and how to interpret them.

This is a good, detailed article on the subject of vital records, and will be of value for experienced as well as neophyte researchers. Vital records are key to our documentation efforts, and George's article addresses basic issues about them.

Check out George's article at:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Birth Date Calculator

The Long Island Genealogy website has a nifty date calculator that might come in handy. It will determine the date of birth if you provide the date of death and the person's age at death.

Check it out at:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Elections and Food

The meeting at the Largo Library on 19 December is going to see lots of activity. It is the meeting where we hold our annual election of officers, so be sure to come to show support for those going into office.

We are also going to have tables set up for people to use to display their family heirlooms...see the post for 7 December for more information on this event.

The meeting is also a time for our holiday party. This, of course, requires food.

So cook up a dish for everyone to share, pack up your family treasures to show off, and join your friends at the 19 December meeting.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Drawing for Free Year-long PGS Membership

At the meeting coming up on 19 Dec 2009 we will have another in a series of four drawings for a free yearly membership in the PGS. One drawing has already taken place and two others will take place, one each at the January and February 2010 meetings.

To enter you have only to renew your dues to the Society and complete the membership questionnaire. In early November we sent letters to all PGS members with the forms and a pre-addressed envelope for return. At each month's general meeting a name will be drawn from among the forms that have been returned since the previous month's meeting. The person's whose name is drawn will be given a free year's membership in the PGS.

Remember, the only way to win is to renew your dues and return the questionnaire.

Review of FamilySeach Indexing Project

The FamilySearch Indexing Project (through Dick Eastman's Online Newsletter) provides an update that is most helpful.

For those of you not familiar with it, the indexing project is a familySearch initiative to index genealogical data worldwide, often with accompanying images. On the family search website you can find this project under the "Record Search" tab and then further by clicking on the drop-down menu selection of "Record Search pilot." (By the way, we cover this aspect of the family search website and our class "Getting the Most out of FamilySearch"; if you haven't attended that class lately, you're probably missing some great new information about that resource.)

Dick Eastman's news article gives a good overview of current indexing project status as well as new projects that have recently begun. Check it out at:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Brick Wall Strategies

I ran across an interesting article at concerning brick walls. It outlines various steps that one can take to get through those research blocks that we all experience at one time or another.Perhaps the suggestions in the article are not going to be new, but it is also likely that we would all benefit from her review of the basics.

The article suggests that we should first review what we already have in terms of information. For a fact I know this works. By going back and carefully reading military pension files that I have had for some time, I've found additional information that I previously overlooked that was of value in continuing my research. Perhaps we have all done this even with a record as basic as the federal census.

The article also suggests that we go back to the original source for information. The supposition is that there might be additional material that we did not record from that source the first time we visited it.

These are but two of the several suggestions that the article gives. I suggest you check it out at:

Friday, December 11, 2009


I hate to harp on this subject, but renewing your dues is of critical importance. As I have pointed out in other forums, the reason we have been able to keep our dues at the paltry level of $17 a year is because of the size of our membership. The more members we have, the easier it is to keep our dues at that low level.

And look at all the services that your dues support: classes, journal, newsletter, speakers, help at the genealogy desk in the library, various projects that make local genealogy data available to the world, speaker's bureau, field trips, collection development, etc.

Our educational program is second to none in the state, and I would also measure it against other programs nation-wide.

So take a minute and renew your membership. Send your dues to the society at the address below, or bring them to the next meeting (19 Dec at the Largo Public Library).

Here's the address: Pinellas Genealogy Society, 120 Central Park Drive, Largo, Fl, 33771

Ancestry Boasts Better Census Images

This was recently written by and featured in Dick Eastman's online Newsletter:

"Today we’ve launched enhancements for six U.S. Census collections – in addition to the improvements on six censuses released a few months ago. In all, we’ve gone through more than 200 million records to improve images and many indexes.
"Enhanced and clearer images are now available for the 1790-1900 censuses, and indexes have been improved for the 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1900 censuses. All of the images have a cleaner, crisper look. And occasionally names can be read that were illegible before—either because they were too light, too dark, too blurry, too faded, or covered in tape, etc."

If you haven't looked at the census lately, perhaps you should revisit them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Digital Library...An Example

The Allan County Public Library is well-known in genealogy circles. It has one of the largest collections in the United States.

It has introduced an initiative to increasingly digitize its collection and make those resources available to its patrons online. This is arguably a vision of the future of libraries.

You can read the fascinating article about the service at:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Florida Pioneer Descendants Certification Program

This program is sponsored by the Florida State Genealogical Society (FSGS). It honors descendants of Florida pioneers at both a state and county level.

Eligibility for award of a certificate is as follows:

1. Any person who shall provide documentary proof satisfactory to the committee, establishing a solid chain of evidence that he or she has an ancestor who settled in Florida (present boundaries) before the state was admitted to the union, 3 March 1845.
2. Any person who shall provide documentary proof satisfactory to the committee, establishing a solid chain of evidence that he or she has an ancestor who settled in a county of Florida (present boundaries) before the county was formed.

If you are interested in participating in the program, you can get more information on it at: The documentation requirements are quite precise, but the FSGS provides a workbook to help a person through the process. There is a fee for the certificate and to file an application. Before it is all said and done, you will probably spend about $60. But regardless of the time and the cost, having the certificate and the formal recognition of your ancestor as aFlorida Pioneer can be very gratifying.

After a little bit of research on your own, if you are interested, let me know (; Subject: "Florida Pioneer Certification).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Family History Center to Close for the Holidays

Just a heads up...the Family History Center (9001 106th Ave, Largo, FL) will be closed for the holidays from 12 December 2009 Through 4 January 2010.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Heirloom Day

This is your chance to show off a bit. At the meeting on 19 Dec at the Largo Library we are going to showcase family heirlooms. Bring yours to the meeting and show them off. Not only will it make you proud, but it may give others some ideas of family items they may have but have not thought of preserving.

We will provide tables to display your items. It may be helpful to make up some explanatory signs that explain your treasures in case you are not there to give may be looking at another's contributions.

This is the first time (at least in my memory) that we have done this as a meeting, and it is shaping up to be a fun event.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Census Records on Line...Many Choices....soon?

Beau Sharbrough has published an article on his blog, The Unofficial, where he reviews the status of both Footnote and FamilySearch to put US Federal Census indexes and images on line. Footnote is a pay site, and FamilySearch is pay-less.

It is an interesting article, especially since Ancestry and HeritageQuest are already in the hunt, and you have both fee and free sites in the mix.

You can read Beau's article at:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

PGS Endowment Now in Place

On the 27th of November, Sally Brown (the PGS Director of Finance) and I met with Julie Scales, the Pinellas Community Foundation Executive Director, to finalize the establishment of the PGS Endowment Fund.

The PGS has always been in a position to accept donations both from members and others, but now we have a specific place for donations to go that will, over time, increase their value and enable the PGS to benefit from them over the long term.

If you have any questions about the fund, please let me or Sally know and we will be happy to answer them. And if you are looking for a tax-free donation to make before the end of the tax year, keep the PGS Endowment in mind. We have already had some people donate to the fund and would welcome more.

Here is a photograph of Sally handing the signed Letter of Agreement to Julie (on the left).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Evaluate Conflicting Information with Discrepency Charts

Michael Neill writing for tackles a problem all of us are confronted with at one time or another: conflicting information.

The PGS offers a class that deals with evaluating evidence and Michael's article fit right in with that. The title of the article is "Organize the Inconclusive with Discrepancy Charts," and it gives you a couple of examples of his use of the charts.

The discrepancy chart is a way to display all of the relevant information you have about an event, where it comes from, and what the source characteristics are. In other words, it is an evidence evaluation tool. You can see what Michael has to say on the subject at:

Our next class on evaluating evidence (we call it "Elements of Genealogical Proof") is at 10 am on 7 December at the Largo Library.
This program is sponsored by the Florida State Genealogical Society (FSGS). It homors descendants of Florida pioneers at both a state and county level.

Eligibility for award of a certificate is as follows:

1. Any person who shall provide documentary proof satisfactory to the committee, establishing a solid chain of evidence that he or she has an ancestor who settled in Florida (present boundaries) before the stae was admitted to the union, 3 March 1845.
2. Any person who shall provide documentary proof satisfactory to the committee, establishing a solid chain of evidence that he or she has an ancestor who settled in a county of Florida (present boundaries) before the county was formed.

If you are interested in participating in the program, you can get more information on it at: The documentation requirements are quite precise, but the FSGS provides a workbook to help a person through the process. There is a fee for the certificate and to file an application. Before it is all said and done, you will probably spend about $60. But regardless of the time and the cost, having the certificate and the formal recognition of your ancestor(s) as Florida Pioneers can be very gratifiying.

After a little bit of research on your own, if you are interested, let me know (; Subject: "Florida Pioneer Certification).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 Learning Center Offers Webinars

If you have not checked out the Learning Center, you may be missing some wonderful opportunities to increase your skill in using the Ancestry site, as well as sharpening your research skills in general.

The site lists all of the webinars (a catchy phrase for on-line seminars) that Ancestry has presented. Initially you can watch a webinar "live" as it is being presented. After it's initial presentation, it goes into the archives which you can access for viewing at any time.

The topics range from those that help you get more out of your searches on the Ancestry website ("Best Strategies for Searching"), to topics of more general interest ("European Research: Tips and Tools for Success").

You can see the entire selection at:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Census Tools Free for Download

In case you have not been to one of our census classes lately (we have two of them: "Census Tracking" and "Census Time Lines") or our class on using Excel in genealogy, you may have missed hearing about this helpful website.

From this site you can download about 40 different spreadsheets that may help you consolidate, coordinate, manage, record, and otherwise sort out the rafts of information that you find in the census record. If nothing else, you get very clean and readable census forms which you can refer to as you squint at the illegible headings in census images on line.

Check out the forms and other census insights at:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We Are Still Short a Few Adopt-A-State Volunteers

We still need some volunteers to "adopt" the following states: Wisconsin, Tennessee, Mississippi, Maryland, and Delaware. These states have been orphans too long...dig deeply and adopt one!

This is an important job. A volunteer in this area agrees to visit their state section in the library a couple of times a month to ensure that the shelves are neat and that the books appear in the correct order. If you have ever been frustrated because you could not find a reference book on the shelf where the catalog said it should be, you know how important this job is. It does not take a lot of time, but the service to researchers is huge.

If you are interested, see me or send me an email at with "Adopt-A-State Volunteer" in the subject line.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Changes Coming for the Genealogy Center

In the next few months you are going to see some big changes in the Genealogy Center of the Largo Public Library. These changes are driven in part by the need for more shelf space to accommodate our expanding collection.

The family history section of books (those with the 929.2 call numbers), are going to be moved to the opposite end of the Genealogy Center--in the area of the microfilm cabinets. And room will be made for them there by moving out the US Census microfilm. That resource has been eclipsed by Internet access to the same images on sites such as Ancestry, Heritage Quest, and Family Search, to name just a few. The online indexing and image availability has rendered the old microfilm collection obsolete and virtually never used anymore.

When the family history collection is moved, there will be more room for it in its new location, as well as more room for the state sections of the collection to expand also.

Executing this plan is going to make things a bit unsettled for a while, but in the long run it will serve to improve the value of the collection to researchers.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Terry and Jim Willard Talk About Attacking Dead Ends

At the GPS general meeting on 21 Nov., Terry and Jim Willard spoke to us about overcoming research obstacles. They first examined some of the more prevalent causes of dead ends (such as the absence of primary source document, name changes, gender problems, etc.).

This was followed by an approach to attack those dead ends by constructing and executing a good research plan. Jim explained the S-O-L-V-E acronym to remember the steps in doing this: Survey the problem, Organize your information, Locate relevant material, Verify you data, and Evaluate your findings.

This was a very helpful session and I hope you were able to attend. Here is a picture of Terry and Jim getting ready for their presentation.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Books Await You in the Genealogy Department

I've posted this news in a previous post, but it is worth doing again in case some of you failed to see it. Over the summer we had more than $5000 of new books come into the Genealogy Center. This was a combined effort between the Largo Public Library and the PGS: we suggested the titles and the library bought the books.

The purchases concentrated on the "Old Northwest"; that is, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana, but other states were included also. And, for the first time is such a buy, we concentrated on the publications of local genealogy historical societies societies. As a consequence, the topics were much like the data our society transcribes and makes available to researchers: cemetery canvases, funeral home records, vital statistics for that area, etc. This product of this book buy may save you a trip to a courthouse, or at least make such a trip easier and more profitable.

Regardless of that, check out the state section of the collection of interest to you. You may find that some useful new references have been added since you last looked.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Want to Adopt A State?

If you do, we have several opportunities for you to consider. These states still need to be adopted: Wisconsin, New Jersey, Maryland, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

If you choose to adopt one of these states, you will be expected to tend to that states portion of the stacks in the genealogy collection at the library. Once or twice a month you should "read the shelves" in that state area to ensure that books have been filed in the correct order--after all, a mis-filed book is essentially a lost book. You will also see to it that the state area is straightened up and that the books in that section have the appropriate state sticker attached.

It's a pretty simple job, but one that is tremendously important to researchers trying to find a reference book.

If you are interested in this type of volunteer work, contact me at and put Adopt-A-State in the subject line of the email.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Roots Magic Essentials Released

This will be of particular interest to those of you who are curious about using Roots Magic genealogy software, or those who have not yet made up your mind about which software to invest in.

Here is what Roots Magic has to say about the free product: "RootsMagic Essentials shares many of the same features with the full RootsMagic software including clean and friendly screens, the ability to add an unlimited number of people and events, pictures and media management, the SourceWizard to write your source citations for you, powerful merging and clean-up tools, dozens of reports and charts, support for international character sets, FamilySearch integration, and the ability to share data with other people and software programs. The full version of RootsMagic is available for purchase and includes features not available in RootsMagic Essentials. \

"RootsMagic Essentials is available now for free at Users of other genealogy software products will find it easy to experiment with RootsMagic Essentials using their own data. RootsMagic Essentials can directly import data from PAF, Family Tree Maker (through 2006), Family Origins, and Legacy Family Tree. It can also read and write data using the popular GEDCOM format."

Dick Eastman is in the process of running user tests of the product, so check with his newsletter in the future. When I see it, I'll post a link on this Blog to his opinion. Right now it appears that the Essentials package is a good basic program, but don't try to use it as a full-fledged genealogy software program.

Here is a hot link to the Roots Magic site:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Free DAR Online Databases

This is something to get excited about. The DAR has made accessible for free the DAR Genealogical Research System on its public website. There is too much there to describe in this post. Let me tell you what I did to give you a flavor for what you can do.

I put in the name of a Revolutionary War ancestor and up popped his date and place of service, birth, and death; his pension number, and a short description of his service. Also listed were his residence, spouse, and all of the people who have established a formal relationship to him for the DAR.

Dick Eastman has written an extensive review of this capability and you can find his article at:

The link to the DAR site is:

Friday, November 20, 2009

PGS Donation to the Pinellas County African American History Museum

Following the African-American Genealogy presentation by Harriett Thompkins on 10 November, I made a presentation to Sandra Rooks, Executive Director of the Pinellas County African American History Museum. In conversation with Sandra I discovered that the Museum had been given some microfiche records but that they had no reader. We are in possession of three readers that the Largo Public Library was going to dispose of. I could think of no better place for one of them than with Sandy and the Pinellas County African American History Museum

The picture above is of Sandy receiving the reader. We wish them well in its use, and anticipate more interaction between our two organizations.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Social Networking

The latest issue of Rootsweb Review, the online newsletter from Rootsweb makes an interesting observation. The idea of using the Internet for social networking is really not such a new thing at all for us genealogists.

Some of the vehicles for social networking are new to be sure--Twitter and Facebook to name but two. But the idea of connecting with people for the purpose of collaboration on a common purpose is not. Genealogists have been doing that for years in the form of mail lists, bulletin boards, published queries, etc. Modern tools make that pursuit easier, but the pursuit itself is not new at all.

We have a class on getting the most out of the Rootsweb site during which we talk about their online newsletter. In case you are interested, you can subscribe to the Rootsweb Review by following this link:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

PGS is Represented at the Annual FSGS Conference

The PGS was represented at the annual Florida State Genealogical Society Conference in Melbourne, Florida on 13 and 14 November. Play the video below for more information and highlights.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Courthouse Records

We are all familiar with the important roll that courthouses play in the study of genealogy and the pursuit of documentation. In fact, we have a class taught by Damon Hostetler on that very subject.

The Bloomfield Enterprise Online recently had an article authored by Julie Miller that gives a good overview of the many documents one can find tucked away in courthouses. It is a good review and you can check it out at:

Monday, November 16, 2009

PGS Class on African-American Genealogy

On 10 November, Harriett Thompkins, shown in the picture here, presented our first class dealing with African-American genealogy. Harriett talked not only about the unique challenges faced by African-American family researchers, but also about the common aspects of research faced by all genealogists.

Attendees came from Tampa as well as local communities, and they represented PGS members and non-members alike.

The presentation was well-received and will be scheduled again in the Spring. So if you missed it this time around, be sure and check the schedule in the future so you can add it to your calendar.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Charlotte County Genealogical Society Seminar

The Charlotte County Genealogical Society will be holding its 2010 Spring Seminar “Updating Your Genealogy Toolbox” with Dick Eastman on Friday, February 12, 2010.
TOPICS include:
  • Genealogy Searches on Google
  • The Organized Genealogist
  • The Latest Technology for Genealogists
  • Where is Genealogy Software Headed?

Additional information is available on their website –

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Making a Cookbook of Ancestors' Recipies

There is nothing new about the project of collecting recipes from a families history and putting them together in a book. In fact, I know of a couple genealogy and historical societies that are doing just with with the help of their members. It can be a fun and rewarding project.

Here is a website that Chronicles the efforts of one person to put together such a book. In fact, she did it quite successfully. Along the way she learned a lot about the process. She made mistakes, had to redo work, etc. Wendy A. Boughner Whipple is this person and she has published her lessons learned in a book titled: Creating an Heirloom: Writing Your Family’s Cookbook.

The website she offers gives you an interesting overview of the cookbook creation process and is full of information of value whether you buy her book or not. She gives interesting insight into such topics as fonts to use, the use of art work, archiving you work, etc.

Check it out at:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Class on African American Genealogy

Harriet Thompkins, one of our newer members, is teaching a class on African American genealogy at 6 pm on Tuesday, 10 November. The meeting will be in the Local History Room of the Largo Library.

Harriet will use her own experience in researching her family to demonstrate the research techniques and strategies that can be successful in this challenging area. Every African American who has slave ancestors has a built-in brick wall when it comes to surnames. Slaves often adopted the surname of the owners, or neighboring families, or geographic places. Attaching a surname to an individual ancestor takes exceptional patience and research skill....and, of course, some luck.

If that quest is successful, another wall then looms. That is the challenge of tracing the slave ancestor back to his/her country of origin.

This class can be information regardless of your race because the research challenges and frustrations tend to be universal. Although the ways to break down these brick walls may be specific to African Americans, some of the research thought process are applicable to all of us.

If nothing else, attend the class to celebrate Harriet's success in the tracing of her family in the face of great odds.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dues Renewal and Membership Questionnaire

The membership application and questionnaire should be arriving in your mail shortly, if you have not already received them.

We are kicking off our membership renewal drive with this mailing. Each member is provided with a pre-addressed envelope in which to return the questionnaire and his/her membership renewal. Your support is what allows us to continue our services which include publications, classes, annual seminar, research assistance, speakers at monthly meetings, and much more.

The dues continue at only $17 for the year. This is a great deal! We are well below the average for society dues in the state and are pleased that we can continue to offer such a great deal for such a low cost. The size of our membership is what allows us to do that, so your continued support is truly important.

With this mailing we also want to update our membership information files. We are asking everybody to complete the two-sided form enclosed with the letter. The information is used by the Society’s Executive Board to identify speaker topics, class subjects, etc. It also helps us identify skills and experience among our members that may be beneficial as we undertake various projects. If you have already paid your dues, please complete the forms anyway and simply write on the Membership Application form the words “dues already paid.” In the event you have recently joined the PGS and have already submitted the forms, please bear with us and do it again so we can get a clean start at data collection.

We are also doing something to help you remember to return the forms. We will hold a drawing at our meetings in the months of November 2009 through February 2010 from the forms returned in that month. The drawing winners will receive a free yearly membership in the Society. You do not have to be present to win, but you do need to submit a form.

You can use the envelope enclosed in the mailing to return the form, or you can bring it to a meeting and turn it in there. The envelope is pre-addressed so you just have to add a first class stamp.

This is the first time in recent history that the PGS has done a mailing like this, which implies how important membership renewal and membership information is to our successful operation. Please take a moment to complete and return the forms with your continued support.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Footnote Unvails the Interactive Census recently announced that the entire U.S. census records will soon be online at its website. The unique thing about the Footnote offering is that its version allows you to correct, comment, or supplement the original records. You can even add pictures. You can also link people together as relatives, even if they live in different households. All of that capability is new to Footnote.

Dick Eastman (you remember, our primary speaker at the Annual Seminar in February) has written his take on Footnote's offering and is quite positive about it. You can read all of Dick's article at:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Do You Know What is Involved in Becoming a Certified Genealogist?

If you have ever wondered about that, or if you might be interested in becoming one, we have a class coming up for you!

At 10 am on Tuesday, 3 November, one of our members who is a certified genealogist is going to talk about the certification process. Jean Kelley is the person who will give the talk. Jean has been a PGS member for about 5 years, and we appreciate her offering to do this. Not only has she offered to teach the class, but as much as she is allowed by the certification rules, she is willing to mentor those interested in pursuing that goal.

Even if you are not interested in becoming certified, you will find it interesting to know what the process is. At some level or another you may find it interesting to compare your own research progress and knowledge with what is expected of a professional. That comparison may reveal areas of knowledge you have not yet explored.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Computer Installed at the Genealogy Center

The Pinellas Genealogy Society has installed a new computer at the Largo Library Genealogy Center. It is to be used to view the CD-ROM collection, so it is conveniently located next the to CD storage cabinets. It is a "stand-alone computer." That means it is not connected to the Internet, thus emphasizing it's use as a means to view the CD-ROM collection.

There already is one computer the can be used to view the CD-ROM collection (it is the work station immediately to the left of the printer), but that is often in use by patrons doing Internet genealogy research. This second computer will prevent any wait time for those interested in the CD's.

There are instructions located next to the computer, and genealogy consultants are available if you run into problems. Just be patient as everyone comes up to speed on things. The consultants are in a "learning mode" right now too. The instructions, however, have been tested by a couple of different people and should be fairly easy to follow.

The computer I have been referring to as "new" is new to the library, but it certainly is not new in age. The workstation, consisting of a tower, keyboard, mouse, monitor, printer, and battery backup, was brought together by several generous PGS members. Thanks goes to Ed Deming, Flo Bickle, and Sally Brown for donating all the pieces.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Drawing Prizes for PGS Members at Monthly Meetings

If you have been attending the monthly meetings of the PGS, you will have noticed a new agenda item starting with the meeting in September. We now conclude each meeting with a couple of drawings.

One of them is for various prizes (back issues of the Pinellas Genealogist, a Largo Library key chain are examples). Any member who signs in the attendance book and is present for the drawing is eligible to win.

The second drawing is again only for members present at the drawing, but those interested in the prize have to specifically enter their name. The prize is a free, in-home, computer instruction session. The topics of the session are determined by the winner, but suggestions are "how to use a genealogy program" (e.g., Family Tree Maker of Roots Magic)," computer file organization," "recording sources," "using a scanner or camera to capture images," etc.). The topics should be genealogy and computer oriented, but the winner has free-reign after that.

If you have not been to a meeting lately, you have not only missed the drawings, but also the refreshments and the social time after the meeting. It is a great time to compare notes with other researchers and to spend time talking 1-on-1 with our guest speaker.

If you need more information about the meetings, check out our website at:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Family History Writer's Workshop

Every third Tuesday of the month the Family History Writer's Workshop is held at the Local History Room of the Largo Library. The membership of the group is rather fluid with people attending and then taking a break, but there is a core group shown here.
From the left you see Carol, Esther, Diana, Lois, Betty, and Pru.
The meeting has seen as many as 15 attendees, and we expect many of them to return as our northern members come back to Florida in the next month or so.
This is a group of people who have in common a desire to write some aspect of their family history, but it is also a group which through sharing their writing has developed a friendship. Consider checking in to see what this is all about...the only requirement is the desire to write.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

CD-ROM Computer Available in Library

The PGS has just added a computer in the Largo Library's Genealogy Center expressly for reading the CD-ROM collection. We hope the availability of this computer will eliminate conflicts for the single other computer in the Center capable of servicing that collection.

It is located next to the CD-ROM storage cabinets, and has a folder next to it with instructions on how to access the various discs in the collection.

The genealogy consultants are now being trained in how to use the machine, so rely on them for assistance if you need it, and the instructions are being tested for completeness and readability. This is an on-going process, so have patience.

Here is a picture of Damon Hostetler, PGS Vice President and genealogy consultant, having a go at the machine.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Finding Elusive Female Ancestors

Julie Miller has written an extensive article in the online Bloomfield Enterprise outlining the various records that could contain hints to the family names of female ancestors. Her article was also commented on by Dick Eastman in his online newsletter.

Most of the records and strategies that Julie addresses will be familiar to experienced researchers, but a review is always beneficial. For newer researchers, this article will be very helpful.

Check it out at:

Roots Magic Users' Group Meets 24 October

The RMUG will meet at 10 am in the Local History Room of the Largo Library on Saturday, 24 Oct. If you are undecided about purchasing this genealogy program, attending this session and talking with current users may help you make up your mind. And even if you use another program, you can always pick up something useful at a users' group.

This month, in addition to fielding questions, we will focus on navigating the main screen and on using the many media albums available in the program. We will also see how the use of images in those albums shows up on various reports like the family group sheet, individual summary, etc.

If you can't make this meeting, you can catch the next one. The RMUG meets every 4th Saturday of the month.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Copyright Explained

The 14 October 2009 issue of Rootsweb online newsletter, Rootsweb Review, has a very informative article about copyright rules. It explains what is and isn't covered under copyright, how long copyrights last, etc.

It is worth checking out given the need we genealogists have to record and make reference to the research of others.

In time you can read the October issue of the Review on line at the RootsWeb Review Archives. But if you want the latest copy delivered to your mailbox, you can sign up. To subscribe or to read the archives go to

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Civil War Oddity

Dick Eastman in his online newsletter gives us insight to a little-known Civil War action. This event which took place in Saint Albans, Vermont (about 15 miles from the US-Canadian border) is billed at the northern-most battle of the Civil War.

You can read about this fascinating bit of history at:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

PGS in Action

Carol Strobeck and Kathleen Bowersox are shown here at the PGS display table in the Largo Library lobby. They provide handouts and other information to library patrons about the society and genealogy in general. Carol and Kathleen have taken the job of staffing the table once or twice a month to get the word out about PGS in a very personal, 1-on-1 fashion.

Monday, October 19, 2009

PGS in Action

Here are two of our genealogy consultants working at the genealogy desk at the library. Jaqui Jordon has been doing that job for quite a while, and Millard Russell just started last week. They represent a sizable group of volunteers that make the research experience for library patrons as rewarding as possible.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The PGS Needs YOU!

Pat Leconte, our Projects Director, is always on the lookout for members who want to volunteer some of their time for one of our many projects.

This short video gives you an idea of some of the things you can get involved with. If you are interested, contact Pat at

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Ever come across an occupation like these in the census or some other resource: manciple, vulcan, or snobscat?

Here are a couple sites that give you the modern translation for some occupations:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What Did They Mean By That?

Here is a fun site. It translates sayings our ancestor's might have used into today's language. Call me "half a bubble off plumb," but I came across a couple of expressions that one of my ancestors used in her diary. A find like that could "make a rabbit hug a hound."

Check it out at:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tracing Historical County Lines

At one time or another we have all questioned what county a particular town was in historically. That is important, of course, because the county of residence will dictate what courthouse vital records will be found in. If a city changes affiliation from county A to county B in 1855, then vital records and legal documents will be filed in the new courthouse from that date forward, while documents before that date will continue to reside in the county A's courthouse.

There is some software that can help us trace the changes of county lines over time. One of those programs is Animap <> at a price of about $85.

But there is a website that can be of help also. It is <>. This site refers you to related sites depending on the county in question. Some of the sites are free and some may be fee-based.

Nosing around a bit I found a Wisconsin map dated 1857 from a collection kept at the University of Alabama. It was easy to find and it was free.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hidden Surprises at the PGS "Links" Page

Have you explored the "links" page of the PGS website? My guess is that you often overlook it in favor of the calendar page or the databases.

The Links page is an easy way to get to sites of both local and general interest. You can easily click your way to the St. Petersburg Museum of History or Heritage Village or Florida Confederate Pension Application Files. And in a broader view you can easily navigate to helpful sites like the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, Headstone Hunter, or the American History and Genealogy Project.

The next time you visit our society web page ( take some time to check out the "Links" tab.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Petition Drive to Support the Library of Michigan Closes

The petition drive sponsored by the Records Preservation and Access Committee resulted in nearly 7000 signatures before it closed on the 1st of October. You may recall that we gave you information in this Blog on how to add your name if you wished.

Here is a brief update on the situation with the library: The Governor of Michigan has acknowledged the value of the collections, and recent directives and executive orders (Executive Directive No. 2009-5 & Executive Order 2009-43) have taken steps toward preserving the integrity of the treasured records in the building designed to house them for generations to come, but one overwhelming issue remains. Revenues must yet be found sufficient to fund the operations of the Library of Michigan and associated activities in that facility. In other words, the storage area for historic records appears to be intact, but funding of operations is still lacking.

You can read a more detailed account of the current situation at:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Is there a "Loyalist" in Your Line?

I realize that we all relish our patriot ancestors and become all excited when we find the name of an ancestor on a Revolutionary War muster roll or in a Revolutionary War pension index. After all, who would not like to be connected, either directly or indirectly, to such an important time in our history and such an important sacrifice on the part of our ancestors?

But, admit it, there are some of us whose ancestors chose to remain loyal to the Crown....they are the "Loyalists." Although they may not have been on the side of the conflict we may have desired, their sacrifice was just as real, their time in history just as important, and they are still our family.

There is a great deal of information in our library on this group, and there is also an impressive amount on line. The Loyalist Institute is one of those on line sites that has much to offer. The material includes a sampling of manuscripts relating to the Loyalist military, including muster rolls, orderly books, regimental documents, courts martial and memorials. You will find genealogical information including links, sources of information, land petitions and post war settlement documents. And you will also find information on how the Loyalists are portrayed today throughout the US and Canada in Living History organizations, including photo galleries, schedules of events, and information on how to join a group in your area.

I personally have ancestors who fought on both sides of the conflict, so I get to enjoy research from both points of view. That is why the Loyalist Institute is one of my favorite sites.

You can view all of this material at:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Results of a Survey by Dick Eastman

In September Dick Eastman asked his readers to respond to a survey asking questions about genealogy and automation. Dick has recently made the results of that survey available and has also summarized the results in his online newsletter.

Dick is one of the leaders in the convergence of genealogy and automation and this survey is a demonstration of that. It is also one of the reasons that we have scheduled him to be our principle speaker at the PGS Annual Seminar on 13 February 2010 (click this link to see info on the seminar:

Here is where you can read Dick's summary and also follow a link to the full survey results:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Census of the Deaf

Ancestry's online magazine, The Weekly Discovery, recently publicized an interesting census that has just become available. It is the U.S. Special Census on Deaf Family Marriages and Hearing Relatives, 1888-1895. Here is the link: to an explanation of the documents.

The Discovery offers this background: "The records in this collection were created by the Volta Bureau in Washington, D.C., to explore whether marriages where one or both parties were deaf impacted the chances that they would have children who were deaf. Questionnaires were sent to deaf couples and family members of deaf individuals that asked for information on three generations of the family—the couple’s parents and siblings, the married couple, and their children."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Legacy Database at the Largo Public Library

This is one of the "other" databases (other than, that is) which is accessible from the Largo Public Library and from home going through the library website <>. From the home page click on the following screen options: . At that point you will have to log in with your library card number and the last four digits of your phone number. Now you are ready to click on "Legacy: TBLC Digital Collections."

Florida Legacy contains content digitized from the collections of Tampa Bay Library Consortium(TBLC) member libraries, including photographs, books, pamphlets, documents, and newspaper clippings. Fifteen participating libraries have contributed over 50,000 records, including over 5,000 digital images of visual materials.

The first page gives an overview of the site. When you are ready, you can search by key word, or you can browse the collections and images. There are over 40 individual collections that comprise the Legacy database. In all cases you will be presented with complete citations of where the item you searched for can be found, and in many cases there are images available. Most all of the historic photograph collection is digitized.

The PGS has a class on all of the "other library databases" in addition to Legacy. Check the calendar on the PGS website <> to see if and when it is next scheduled. If it is not on the current schedule, keep checking as our courses come up on a rotating basis.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

TRAILS - Tampa History & Obituary Index

TRAILS is a database offered by the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative and is accessible online. To get there first go to then click on the following screen choices: . That will bring you to the search form.

TRAILS contains citations to Tampa Tribune obituaries as well as articles relating to the history of Florida and the Tampa Bay area from several other newspaper and magazine sources.

You can do a quick search, or search on author, title, or subject. To look for obituaries, simply enter a name and/or year of death.

Your search will be rewarded with a list of brief citations. If you click on one, you will get a more detailed citation including the author, article title, page number, date and name of the publication. In the case of an obituary you will be given the name, date of death, and age at death in addition to the location information.

You can obtain copies of the articles by taking the index citation to our library and requesting photocopies through inter-library loan. Check with the librarian, there may be a charge for this service.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Center for Disease Control Points the Way to Vital Records

If you have ever wondered where to write for a state's collection of vital records, or how much it will cost, or what records are kept for what periods of time, this website if for you!

The Center for Disease Control provides hot links for each state that will provide the above information and more. You can get some of the same information from The Red Book in the ready reference section in the library, of course. But that is there and you are most likely at home. On top of that, print resources tend to go out of date whereas on-line resources of this nature tend to be current.

From the main page you simply click on the state of interest (in some cases even the city is listed) and then you are shown the important information for getting records from that state regarding birth, death, marriage, and divorce. Not only are you given where to write and the cost, but also what dates they have records for and other pertinent comments that might be helpful. [Remember, this is STATE level information...counties typically started saving vital records before the state did.]

At the top of the main screen is an alphabetic index and is intriguing. Not all of the links apply to genealogy, but its the type of index that you love to nose around in.

Check it out at <>

Friday, October 2, 2009

PGS Elections in December

Between now and our general meeting on 21 November, the nominating committee will be accepting nominations for PGS board positions. If you are interested in running for office, let Dan Hooper ( or Bill Wallace ( know.

Here are the positions up for election and the terms of office:

2 Years
Finance Director
Education Director
Seminar Director
Corresponding Secretary
Journal Editor

1 Year
Vice President
Project Director
Recording Secretary
Membership Coordinator

Some of the board members are considering running for another term, but that should not deter anyone who is interested in serving. Serving on the PGS board of directors is an honor, and gives you the ability to move the organization to bigger and better things. Seriously consider your level of committment to the PGS and then let the nominating committee know of your interest before the November general meeting on the 21st.

Wiki at

You might ask, "What's a wiki?" It's an online encyclopedia with articles contributed by many different people. The best known is probably, the hugely popular encyclopedia with more than ten times the articles of any printed encyclopedia. has begun a “wiki” devoted to genealogy—primarily “how to” articles. You may view the articles or contribute your own at See the news item about this in Eastman’s newsletter at where he gives a more complete description.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Beyond the Social Security Death Index

Once you find an ancestor listed in the Social Security Death Index, you do not need to stop there. You can request of copy of your ancestor's application for a social security card if you wish. The form is called the SS-5 and it often contains parents names as well as other detailed personal information. Here is a list of the info on the form:

Full name
Full name at birth (including maiden name)
Present mailing address
Age at last birthday
Date of birth
Place of birth (City, county, state)
Father's full name "regardless of whether living or dead"
Mother's full name, including maiden name, "regardless of whether living or dead"
Sex and race
Ever applied for SS number/Railroad Retirement before? Yes/No
Current employer's name and address
Date signed
Applicant's signature

If you are using to search the SSDI, once you find the record you can request the original application from an option to the left of the record showing on the screen. Ancestry will even generate the appropriate letter that you can then sign and send. There is a cost to get the record, but it is only about $25-$30.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Census Tips

If you have an ancestor with an unusual last name, you might try searching the census using the last name only (and don't forget to use "wild cards" in your spelling options), especially if you can narrow down the likely geographic area. That will reduce the "noise" that possible misspellings of first names creates, and it may uncover some other family members living in the same region.

In a like vein, you might try some name-less searches. Search using only the place of birth of your ancestor (again focused on a particular census region). That can reveal friends and neighbors from the same home country. Once you have those names, you can look at their census pages (as well as a couple before and after them) and you may find your ancestor. This is sometimes fruitful if the census taker did "bad" things to your ancestor's name when it was recorded. Remember, during immigration, friends and neighbors and family often traveled together to this country and then ended up living in the same area.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

PGS 2010 Seminar -- 13 February 2010

In an earlier post I told you a bit about out featured speaker for the 2010 seminar, Dick Eastman.

He should be familiar to most of you as the author of one of the premier online newsletters in the genealogical world. He has spent more than 30 years in the fields of both genealogy and computer technology. That combination allows him a unique and valuable perspective that he brings to bear in his newsletter and will make available to us at the seminar.

His topics will be:
>Genealogy Searches on Google
>Where is Genealogy Software Headed?
>The Organized Genealogist
>Photographing Old or Delicate Documents and Photographs

If you have not treated yourself to Dick's newsletter, check it out at:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Some Views on Birth Records

Birth records are where it all begins--in a manner of speaking--and locating them consumes from hours to years of our time as researchers.

Jana Sloan Broglin, writing for the online Ancestry Magazine, gives us a good review of where to look for some of those elusive birth records. It is a good review, event for the more "battle hardened" among us.

Read her article at:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

October is National Family History Month

It was in 2003 that the United States Senate first recognized October as
National Family History Month. In doing so they were encouraging Americans to set aside time for family history research and education. When President George W. Bush signed the Proclamation in support of Family History Month, he said, "Lessons in family lineage are often lessons in courage, endurance, and love. While tracing our roots can be challenging, the rewards can be great - affirming our pride in our history and keeping us mindful of the sacrifices of our forbears."

What more appropriate time could you find to assess your own activities in the area of family history and re-dedicate yourself to honoring your family and its ancestors? Think of ways to promote your own research, such as attending a class that you have been putting off, visiting a new website, reading a "how-to" book on sourcing or dating old photographs. You know, the type of thing that we all seem to have in the backs of our minds to do but never get around to making the time.

This is also a good time to take a measure of activities you can engage in to assist others in their others celebrate their families. Introduce a friend to the hobby of genealogy; bring them to a PGS meeting to introduce them to the society. Commit some time each week or even each month to volunteer at the genealogy desk at the library (send an email to to start the ball rolling). Participate in one of our many projects to make Pinellas County genealogy data available to researchers across the country. And the list goes on and on.

There are ample opportunities to celebrate Family History Month. Use this special month of October to celebrate your family's history, and also motivate yourself to celebrate and promote our hobby.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Crazy For Genealogy Blogs

This falls into the "as-if-you-did-not-have-enough-to-do-already" category. Geneabloggers is a website that helps you keep up with what's going on in the world of genealogy bloggers...lots of them

You can browse through a list of over 600 genealogy blogs (hot-linked for your convenience) and go explore those dealing with topics, families, or geographic areas of interest to you. And, yes, if you scroll down far enough, you will find the PGS blog listed!

I have to give you a warning: this site is addictive.

You will find Geneabloggers at:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Getting Started in Your Research At the National Archives Website

The National Archives (NARA) website can be daunting to the old hands, not to mention how it can over-whelm the first-time visitor. But you can take a shortcut and go right to a "getting started" page that can be the home base during your NARA website explorations.

From this page you can choose links to several groups of most frequently accessed records to include Census, Military, Immigration, Naturalization and Land Records.

The NARA web site has very few actual records online. Primarily site provides research tools, such as microfilm indexes and finding aids, articles and information on where to find the records and how to access them. However, there are a few exceptions. This getting-started page gives you a list of those groups of records of genealogical interest with online images.

Check all this out at:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records

Here is a site by Joe Beine that I check out frequently. Yes, it's on my favorites list, and it is updated fact as of this writing, it was last updated on 21 September 2009!

The website is a directory of links to websites with online death indexes, listed by state and county. Included are death records, death certificate indexes, death notices and registers, obituaries, probate indexes, and cemetery and burial records. You can also find information here about searching the Social Security Death Index online.

The site provides easy navigation by clicking on a state name or on the name of a city in the special "big city guide."

When you click on a state you typically are treated to a list of sites that deal with death indexes and records. Most of the sites are explained a bit so you know if payment is required, if images are provided, etc. Also included in many cases are instructions on how to order documents from state archives and libraries.

Check it out at:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Organizing" Class Cancelled Due to Power Outage

Tonight at 6 pm there was to be a class at the Largo Library titled "Organizing Your Paper and Electronic Files." Unfortunately it had to be cancelled. Just before 5 pm a nearby lightning strike cut the power and set off all sorts of alarms in the library. By 5:45 pm power restoration was nowhere in sight so the decision was made to close the much for the organizing class.

I hung around to intercept as many class attendees as I could recognize to give them a handout and thank them for coming. I found 4. If I missed any of you, my apologies.

The class on organizing is a fundamental one so it will come around again. In fact, it is on the schedule for 17 December at 10 am, so mark your calendar if you missed this one. The schedule for December has not been published yet, so don't look for it just now. Expect to see it in late October or early November.

Monday, September 21, 2009

National Archives on YouTube

The National Archives has established a YouTube Channel. If you enjoy getting lured into the videos of YouTube as I do, you will love the new National Archives offering that will, I am sure, take up hours of your time.

An old saw is that to be a good genealogist you need to be a good historian. This site will help you with both of those. It offers captivating videos from presidential libraries, the space race, WWI & II, to mention only a few.

Check it out at:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Using Photoshop Elements to Touch Up Old Photographs

The PGS is presenting a class at 10 am on Monday, 21 Sep on using PSE to touch up old photographs that you may have in your genealogy collection. Not only OLD photos, of course, but any that may need some maintenance before you commit them to your genealogy computer program album.

If you intend to come to the class, consider bringing on a USB drive any photograph what you want worked on. We can use attendee photos to show the capabilities of the program as well as produce improved photos to take home.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

PGS Membership Questionnaires

We need the cooperation of all of our newer members in something very important. The PGS sends a welcome packet to each new member, and in that packet is a questionnaire that we ask members to complete and return.

The questionnaire asks some questions about level of experience, areas of genealogical interest, preferences in PGS Journal content, etc. It is information that will assist the PGS in serving you better.

So if you have one of those questionnaires laying around uncompleted, fill it out and send it in (or bring it to the next meeting). We want to constantly improve, and getting feedback such as that questionnaire is one way we seek to do that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

PGS General Meeting Coming Up

The September general meeting of the Pinellas Genealogy Society will be held at 11 am on Saturday, 19 September, in the Jenkins Room of the Largo Public Library. The speaker this month will be Brian Mulcahy, Librarian at the Lee County Library. His topic will be "Evaluating Evidence: Do the Facts Fit the Circumstances."

The meeting is open to the public so if you are not a PGS member and want to see what it is all about, coming to this meeting is a good way to do it.

By the way, Brian's topic will dove-tail nicely with one of our classes titled "Elements of Genealogical Proof." One of those sessions is scheduled for tonight at the library, and another session will be scheduled in the future. Check the PGS website to see the complete schedule of class offerings: <>

Monday, September 14, 2009

New York City Mortality Schedules

For those of you who did not see the announcement from, it has now posted New York mortality schedules for 1850 to 1880.

If you are not familiar with them, the mortality schedules recorded information about persons who had died in the twelve months preceding the U.S. federal censuses. They recorded the name of the deceased, gender, age, color, whether widowed, place of birth (usually state, territory, or country), month of death, occupation, cause of death and the length of the illness. What we typically look at when we search the census record is the Population Schedule. But there were other documents produced during the census that have been slower in being indexed and made available to us...the mortality schedule is one of those.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Various Spellings of Surnames

I imagine most of us have at one time or another been plagued by inventive spellings of surnames as we have tried to track down an elusive ancestor. Myra Vanderpool Gormley writing for has some things to share about that topic. Although her specific examples are Scandinavian names, there are lessons for all of us in what she says.

Read her article at

Support for the Library of Michigan

The budget problems of Michigan and how they affect the future of the Library of Michigan have been in the news lately and especially in newsletters and blogs oriented at genealogy. The following following request to lend your voice to support the library is directly from Drew Smith, President of the Florida Genealogical Society and editor of the Federation of Genealogy Societies journal, FGS Voice:

Within the genealogical community, the Library of Michigan has long been recognized as one of the premier state libraries in the country.

The cohesive Library of Michigan collection with over 180 years of Michigan history, literature and culture records and reflects the lives of not only those who remained to raise their families within the state but of millions more whose migration to other parts of the country left their footprints in the soil and records generated by their passage. Visitors come from all across the country to research at the Library of Michigan.

In addressing a $2 Billion deficit in the Michigan budget, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm issued an executive order in July which would abolish the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. As originally proposed, the collections of the Library of Michigan would be scattered and the building built and designed to house the state library would be renovated to house a new function.

In meetings held during the Federation of Genealogical Societies/Arkansas Genealogical Society Annual Conference in Little Rock this past week, the Records Preservation and Access Committee representatives have initiated a petition drive in support of the Library of Michigan. . This is the first time we have exercised this option since 2006, something of an indicator of the seriousness with which the genealogical community views this situation.

The RPAC petition became available for signature on Sunday, the 6th of September. We will close the petition drive on the 1st of October,the date the governor’s order is scheduled to take effect. The earlier one signs, the greater the impact.

Although the prospects for reversing this action are remote, we would not want it to be said that a state library can be closed without its users caring (or for other governors to think it a politically expedient thing to do.)

Genealogists from within and without Michigan are encouraged to sign the online petition found at We then ask that you urge the members of every society of which you are a member to do likewise.

Additional background and the latest developments can be found at the web site of the Michigan Genealogical Council .

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Family Tree Maker User's Group Starts a New Run

After the summer off, the FTMUG started a new series of meetings. Led by Larry Hosmer and Bob Bryan, the group got together at its familiar time of 10 am on the first Saturday of the month. This month Larry introduced the group to the 2010 version of the Family Tree Maker software.

I was heartened to see several first-time attendees joining several of the "old-timers" at the meeting....welcome to all.

If you have not attended one of these informative and free-wheeling sessions, I encourage you to make time in your schedule to do so. You will get something out of the discussion even if FTM is not your genealogy program of choice.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Human Family Tree

In an earlier post to this Blog I mentioned a National Geographic channel presentation of a show titled The Human Family Tree. I hope you had a chance to see it because it was a very clear explanation about how DNA can be used to show general relationships, and it was a revealing view of how closely related we all are. That last was shown very dramatically in the last quarter of the show. The program is being aired several more times, and I recommend you check your guide for show times.

But in case you are interested and can't see the show or your TIVO is on the blink, visit the NatGeo website and see some articles and videos about the topic. You can check them out at:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dick Eastman is the Speaker at the 2010 PGS Seminar

The 2010 PGS Seminar will be held on 13 Feb at the Largo Public Library from 8 AM until 4 PM. I thought I would start giving you information now, even though the actual event is still months away. That way you can make your reservation decision early (this is going to be a popular event so getting a seat early in advised).

For beginners, let me tell you a bit about our primary speaker, Dick Eastman.

Dick is a noted genealogist and speaker who is best known for his online newsletter. We repeat many of his newsletter articles here in this Blog and in email hint-and-tips to our membership. He is also extremely well-versed in the electronic genealogy world; that is, the hardware and software that we use to research and manage our genealogy information.

Dick has been involved in genealogy for more than 30 years. He has worked in the computer industry for more than 40 years in hardware, software, and managerial positions. By the early 1970’s, Dick was already using a mainframe computer to enter his family data on punch cards. He built his first home computer in 1980.

In the mid-1980s, Dick actually went knocking on the door of a rising online star called CompuServe to propose a genealogy forum: a move by which he built a community of family historians over the next 14 years. At the same time, he preached the benefits of technology to an even wider audience of genealogists, including national and international genealogical organizations, and of course, GENTECH, an organization that helped him to spread his message.

In late 1995, before most people had heard of the World Wide Web, Dick had a conversation with Pam Cerutti and expressed an interest in creating a weekly newsletter that he could e-mail to genealogists all over the world. Pam replied, "You'll need an editor." Dick agreed, and Pam instantly became that Editor.

On January 15, 1996, the two launched Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter as an e-mail publication and announced it to 100 surprised friends and acquaintances. The weekly newsletter has since grown into a daily publication, still available in e-mail but also now available on the World Wide Web. The present newsletter is read by more than 40,000 genealogists all over the world. Instead of all articles written by one person, the newsletter now features articles from George G. Morgan, Lloyd Bockstruck, and Michael John Neill, in addition to the many articles by founder Dick Eastman. Other guest authors occasionally publish articles in as well.

We are indeed fortunate to have Dick join us as our primary presenter.

In the future we will give you some more information in this Blog about the seminar to include directions, costs, Dick Eastman's presentation topics, and the topics of our 4 break-out speakers. If you want all of the information now, you can go to the PGS Website and find it there <>. Fliers will also be available in the Genealogy Center of the Largo Public Library and at our monthly meetings at 11 am on the third Saturday of each month, also at the library.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

LDS Records Search Pilot Continues to Grow

The Records Search Pilot on the website is one of those websites that many of us know about, but which we neglect to check on frequently. And frequent checking is necessary because the content of the site is so dynamic.

The way to get to this site is to first go to, hover your cursor over "Search Records" in the menu bar, and then select "Record Search Pilot" that appears in the drop-down menu. You can search this growing collection by ancestor name, or you can elect to browse the entire collection.

The pilot program is so dynamic that it even has its own Blog ( to keep you apprised of changes in its content.

Another way to get introduced to this part of the Familysearch website is to attend our PGS class on using all aspects of One of those classes is coming up on 10 September at 10 am at the Largo Public Library. The class is open to the public, but space is limited, so registration is necessary to ensure adequate seating. To register contact Bob Bryan at or 727-595-4521.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

School Yearbooks Online is a site that may provide a research nugget. It is a growing collection of school yearbooks that are organized by state, school, and year. When you go to a particular state, the available yearbooks are organized into 4 categories: high school, middle school, college, and military. And there is another category entirely titled "Navy Cruise Books."

Although the site requires a membership ($30/year, $5/month), free views of the yearbooks are shown when you find one that may be of interest. This fly-before-you-buy feature is most helpful. And if you find the book you are looking for, the minimal monthly fee is probably well worth the investment.

The collection is not complete, as you might imagine. But it certainly is worth checking out.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Historic Maps at the David Rumsey Collection

This collection of historic maps is truly impressive. It boasts more than 20,000 images available online (out of a total collection of more than 150,000). Although most of the online images are of maps from 18th and 19th century America, there are also several world maps included.

You need a viewer to see the collection and several are available on the site. Probably the easiest to use is the Luna 6.0 Browser: when you click on the browser, it activates with no download...just use it for you session and then it's gone. It will work with IE, FireFox and Safari. Available also is a Java Client that requires a one-time download if you prefer. All of the options are available on the home page and clearly explained.

Here is the easiest way to view the collection: from the home page click on "View the Collection" located on the left of the screen, then click on the Luna Browser option. The next window that appears will give you viewing options on the left of the screen. You can browse the collection by the general categories of where, what, when, or who. And at the bottom of the list is an advanced search option that lets you be as specific as you wish.

Check out this collection at: