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.