Monday, August 31, 2009

Cemetery Books Reshelved at the Largo Public Library

There has been an aspect of book organization in the Genealogy Department of the Largo Public Library that for some time has made researching cemetery data more confusing than it needed to be. There were two places you could go to find cemetery books: in the individual state sections where the books were cataloged according to the county in which the cemetery was located, and in the 929.5 section, which is at the very back of the stacks in the genealogy department.

Most researchers looking for printed material spend their time in the portion of the stacks that contain books for their area/state of interest, so it made sense that the cemetery books should be shelved by state and county. This summer that change was made: the books were re-numbered and appropriately shelved, thus bringing together in one logical organizational scheme all of our cemetery books.

So if you had not discovered the cemetery books in the 929.5 section, you should browse your state areas of interest again. You may discover a great resource you previously overlooked.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Selected NYC Birth Records Online

Thanks to Dick Eastman in his Online Genealogy Newsletter for this information. New York City birth records are now online for selected years. Here is part of Dick's article:

"Thanks to both the German Genealogy Group and the Italian Genealogical Group, an index to New York City births 1901-1907 is now available online. The records were indexed by volunteers representing many different ethnic groups.
"The index is a great convenience but, of course, it is only an index. Genealogists should first find the records of interest in the index, then consult the original records on microfilm to obtain all the details. Images of the original birth records are available on microfilm at the New York City Municipal Archives with copies available through the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City and Family History Centers around the world.
"You should also realize that many births of these years were not reported simply because many took place at home and were never reported to authorities.
"You can find the New York City Birth Records from 1901 through 1907 at both and at"

This is only part of Dick's article. You can read the whole thing at:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pointers On Researching Deed Records

Sharon Tate Moody, writing for the Tampa Tribune, gives some great tips about researching deeds at courthouses.

She points out that all indexes are not the same, so knowing some of their idiosyncrasies can save you time, and more importantly, can save you from over looking an important document.

You can read the entire article at:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Genealogy on NatGO

The National Geographic Channel is going to air a program on Sunday, 30 August at 9 PM called "The Human Family Tree." It is going to involve the use of DNA to ultimately show we are all leaves on the same family tree. Check it out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Books For The Library

Over the summer a huge number of new books were added to the library genealogy collection. They mostly apply to the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. A few books from some other states in that area and east of the Mississippi were also included, but the bulk were from those listed states.

This book buy was unique because those states have generally not seen much procurement action in the past, even though they are part of the library's geographical area of interest, which essentially are the states east of the Mississippi River.

The buy was unique also because most of the books came from local sources: genealogy and historical societies associated with the counties in those states. So there are many cemetery books, transcribed birth records, obituaries, etc. In other words, books that are the product of projects much like the ones the PGS undertakes to make local data available to researchers regardless of where they are.

The third uniqueness of this buy was the fact that the list of books was put together by the PGS and then acted upon by the library. It was a good, cooperative effort, and thanks goes to PGS member Gary Coil who, as our primary collection developer, put together the original purchase request.

Another book buy this summer that is now finding its way onto the shelves is not as large as the one described above but is still significant. It is focused on Jewish genealogy. Those books are now showing up in the Jewish genealogy section as well as related sections such as those dealing with Poland, Russia, Lithuania, etc. Another PGS member was instrumental in identifying those books...thanks goes to Emil Isaacson.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Good News for Everton's

From all reports it does not look hopeful for Eventon's Genealogical Helper. In Leland Meitzler's Genealogy Blog, he gives us the latest on the attempts of the magazine to stay afloat. Leland was the last editor of the magazine and so has stay connected to the publications situation.

We have many issues of the Helper at the Library, and even though some of them have some age on them, they are great resources for how-to's, data, print resources, and Internet resources.

As many of you know, I published a couple articles in Everton's in late 2008 and early 2009, and so have a personal as well as genealogical interest in the publication's future. I also made a personal connection to Leland in the process, and wish him well in the future.

You can read the latest at Leland's Blog:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Using Google Alerts

In a recent post I mentioned Google Alerts. It occurs to me that many of you may not have gone to Bob Bryan's class on searching with Google and so may not know what Google Alerts here goes.

Alerts are searches that you have Google do for you continuously. When Google gets some hits when doing the search, it sends you an email with the search results. The content of that email looks exactly like the usual Google screen you would see any time you do a search yourself. The links are live and you can click them from within the email to check them out.

You can get to Alerts from the main Google home page. In the upper left corner of the screen click on "more," and then click on "even more" in the drop-down menu that appears. At the top of the list in the next screen that comes up is a link for "Alerts." Click this and then just follow the directions.

You can specify search terms, the type of search (comprehensive, just Blogs, etc), how often the search should be done, and the email address the results should be sent to. You can establish as many alerts as you wish, but remember that the number and frequency of alerts will be reflected in you email inbox. From this page you can also manage your alerts: change them, cancel them, etc.

I have several comprehensive alerts that are executed weekly. Here are two examples of the search terms I'm using: (1) <"Peter Summers" Wisconsin> (this is looking for web entries that may relate to my Wisconsin ancestor); (2) which keeps me up to date on legislation that may affect our access to genealogy records and data). Both of these are rather broad searches, but I figure I would rather ignore hits rather than miss some.

Alerts are a way to have technology do some work for you in the background.

If this was interesting to you, you should consider attending our 13 February 2010 annual seminar. Our primary speaker is Dick Eastman, one of today's leading genealogy technology and resource experts. He is going to include "Using Google in Genealogy Research" as one of his presentation topics.

In the months and weeks ahead we will be telling you more about our seminar. Right now, mark it on your calendar (13 Feb 2010) and then continue to look for information about it here in this Blog as well as on our website <>.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Genealogy Agents Can Search For You <> can actually search genealogy sites for you. It will monitor several genealogy sites based on information you give it about your ancestor, and when new data is found, will send you email reports.

The agent does more than just scour genealogy sites for information on your ancestor, it keeps track once information is found and alerts you if that information is changed (updated). It is a bit like Goggle Alerts, but with a bit more focus on genealogy and a lot more discrimination in terms of changing data.

This is a fee service, but like all services, if you need it, it's worth it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Looking for "Black Sheep"?

If you have some black sheep ancestors you have been hunting for, what more logical place to look for them online than at

There you will find links to both free and pay sites leading to all sorts of pirates, criminals, felons, scofflaws, etc. Some of the records are recent as well as historic. Warning: it is easy to spend a lot of time following leads at this site.

So if you are looking for prison records, outlaw and criminal biographies, historical court records, executions, insane asylum records, pirates and buccaneers, etc for the USA, UK or Canada, give this site a try.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Free Public Records

This website may give you some records you have been searching for. You can search by state, county or city and see what records are available...and some of them may even be online.

The archives may not go back to the 1800's in many cases, but record availability is at the mercy of each archive so you never can tell. You can get a view of some very recent public records also if you desire. It is really a may not find anything of value or you may find a gem....but you will probably have a bit of fun during your search.

On some of the pages you will find an enticing box asking you for an individual's name to search on. Read the box carefully--it may say "advertisement." Some group is asking you for money for the search they will perform. You can't get into trouble with this. If you see a cost associated with a search, just back out of the screen and make a note no to get lured in again. But you may need that sort of help, and if you do, it is there. Generally, searches will net you one of three things:
1. Free public records databases or lists
2. Contact information for public records holders
3. Paid access to public records

Check out the site at:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Did You Miss Hearing Hank Jones at Our 2009 Seminar?

If you did miss the chance to hear him, you can make up for it at The South Bay Genealogical Society seminar on 28 Jan 2010. The seminar will be held at the Sun City Center Community Hall and will cost $45 ($40 for SBGS members)

You can get all the details at

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Florida Genealogical Society Seminar

The FGS in Tampa is going to hold its annual seminar from 8:30 am to 4 PM on Saturday, Sep 26, 2009. It will be at the Dale Mabry Campus of Hillsborough Community College.

The speaker will be Elizabeth Shown Mills, a distinguished, genealogy expert, speaker, and author. We refer to Ms. Mills books Evidence and Evidence Explained in our classes on documenting sources.

The cost is $40 ($35 for FGS members). Box lunches will be available for purchase at HCC on the day of the conference.

You can read more about the seminar as well as get directions at:

Family Tree Maker 2010 is Available

The newest version of Family Tree Maker (version 2010) is now formally available for $39.95 with free shipping (for a limited time).

The Family Tree Maker site provides an extensive list of features. If you are a current Family Tree Maker user, you will probably be able to distinguish between those that are new versus those that are just being carried forward from previous versions.

It will be a while before we start covering this new version in our FTM Users Group. If you are one of the early purchasers of FTM 2010, perhaps you would like to share your experiences.

If you have not attended that session, you should consider it...even if you don't use FTM. There is always lots of good information being exchanged. It is held at 10 am the first Saturday of the month at the Largo Public Library.

Here is where you can get the scoop on FTM 2010:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Alien Files" will See the Light of Day

Alien files on some 53 million people will be transferred from the Department of Homeland Security to National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) starting in 2010. This will be a boon to genealogists. Currently the only way to see those records is to submit a Freedom of Information Act request. Once the records are transferred to NARA, they will be opened to the pubic and permanently preserved.

Janie Lorber has written an article about this topic in The New York Times, online edition. You can read the entire article at:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mini-seminar hosted by Suncoast Genealogy Society

Mini Seminar 2009
Sat. Nov, 7, 2009
at the
Palm Harbor Library

Speaker: Donna Murray
"Collateral Relatives"
"Underused Resources & Marriage Records"

$15 SGS Members (early registration)
$20 Non-members (early registration)
$25 at the door if space is available

Make checks payable to: Suncoast Genealogy Society
Mail to: John Mangan
809 Hammock Pine Blvd.
Clearwater, FL 33761

For further information contact: John Mangan (727) 667-0457

Naturalization Records on Ancestry

Here is an entry from the Monthly Update:

Naturalization records are key to helping you discover your immigrant ancestors and ethnic origins. In January we released indexes to 3 million naturalization records around the country. In February, we released 2 million original naturalization records from Pennsylvania, California, and New York. And this month, we’re adding about 350,000 records from 15 new states: Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

If you don't have a personal subscription to, you might want to check this database out at the library, especially if you are researching the state listed above.

Monday, August 17, 2009


This is a new blog that will be of interest to all genealogists. It is "NARAtions" from the National Archives. And by "new" I mean NEW. The first post was made on 12 August 2009!

Expect to see entries on the issues of public access to records, digitization, etc. So when new sets of records are available on line, this is where we will be able to get the early word. The site is also meant to encourage us to share our opinions, and ideas.

Check it out at:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Face Recognition from Picasa

In know some of our members are using Google Picasa to organize their photos (in fact, we even teach a course on how to do that). If you are one one those, a post on the Ancestor Search Blog may be of interest.

In the post you are given an explanation of face recognition software included in Google Picasa Web Albums. Essentially, if you post photos in the web album, Google's software can scan those photos and, using its face recognition software, pick out the photos that have the same people in them. A little thought can reveal how this can help identify unknown people is some photos.

If that is not all clear, read the blog where the author explains her use of the software. The post also has attached to it some comments from readers where they tell of their own experiences. You can read the blog at:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Kudo's to Damon for a Great Field Trip

The field trip today to the old Pinllas County Courthouse was outstanding. Damon, in his position with the county government, was in a unique position to get us into the courthouse when it would otherwise have been closed. We were able to roam around (under guidance by Damon, of course) to see the various court rooms, chambers, administrative spaces, even the atic and the gym.

The trip was even for valuable because Damon was able to augment the sights with much detail on the history and renovation of the building. Thanks, Damon, for an entertaining and interesting time.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Courthouse Field Trip

Tomorrow, 15 August, the PGS is sponsoring a field trip to the Pinellas County Courthouse. Damon is going to be the leader of this event (about a year ago he lead a similar trip and it was very well-received). We will meet at the Old Courthouse, 324 S Ft Harrison in Clearwater, specifically, in the Court yard west of the building at 11 am.

I hope many of you will choose to take advantage of this event even though you may not be doing any Pinellas County research. Although all courthouses are not alike in what records they keep and how you access them, there are enough commonalities that becoming familiar with one courthouse can pay you dividends in your dealings with others. This is one of those great opportunities to sharpen your general research skills.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Scoop on Podcasting

In his recent Online Genealogy Newsletter, Dick Eastman has written a good explanation of podcasting. He also provides links to several sites that provide genealogy podcasts.

Once you get the hank of dealing with podcasts, they are easy to listen to and best of all, you can listen to your favorite ones according to YOUR schedule since the casts are saved on line and available when you are.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Scanning and Preserving

In her Blog, Tina's Genealogical Wish List, Tina Lyons gives us a step-by-step account of how she went about preserving some old photos she had in a scrapbook. You may be facing a similar project that could benefit from her approach.

Her first step was to photograph the album as she found it so she could reconstruct it if necessary. This is a step that we usually don't think about as we focus on simply scanning the pictures.

You can read the article at: