Thursday, December 30, 2010

PGS Classes for the Week of 2 January 2011

Here is a list of the classes coming up for the week beginning 2 January (they are all held at the Largo Public Library):

Internet Site Exploration--4 Jan., 1o AM. (A free-roaming session where we check out sites of interest. Bring the URL of one of your favorites to share with the group.)

Getting the Most Out of Jan., 6 PM. (Learn all that this huge, free site has to offer. Learn the basics and learn about the new features being added all the time you may not be aware of.)

Digital Cameras in Genealogy--5 Jan., 10 AM. (Learn how to use this valuable tool to support your research, especially in low-light environments like libraries and archives.)

Photo Restoration and Management Using PhotoShop Elements--6 Jan., 10 AM. (Get familiar with the photo editing and management capabilities of this powerful piece of software--which is available on the computers in the Genealogy Center. Bring a photo of your own (put it on a USB drive) to have worked on during the session.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Joe Beine's Site for Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records

Joe Beine continues to keep his great website on searchable death indexes and records up to date with new additions. If you have not checked his site lately, do so at

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Germanic Seminar in March

This notice was received from Caron Rooksby of the Manasota Genealogical Society:

Manasota Genealogical Society will meet Tuesday, January 4, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00, at the Manatee County Central Library for a presentation by Dr. Daniel Stephens of the Life Long Learning Academy at the University of South Florida and a US National Park Ranger entitled “The Spanish Influence in Florida.” Special Interest Group to follow with "Importing Genealogical Photographs to Your Computer."

Information: Jean Morris (941)722-5156. On-line:

Monday, December 27, 2010

What Genealogy Program Should I Use? Which Will Last?

Those two questions can be heard again and again from both new and experienced genealogists...I have been known to ask them myself.

In a recent edition of his Online Newsletter, Dick Eastman has written an excellent and detailed answer to those two questions. He even goes on to address what he sees as the future of genealogy programs and record keeping.

It will take some time to read the article because Dick as give the subject extensive treatment, but it is worth the effort. So go get a cup of your favorite beverage, and then set back and read the article at

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays to All

I want to take a break from the usual content of this Blog and wish all our readers a Happy Holiday. I hope you can take this time to unite with family and share your many blessings.

I am always very emotional during the holidays. I believe a good part of the reason for that is the fact that I am a genealogist. Although everyone cherishes family at this time of year, I think that we genealogists do so with an intensity that is born of our research. We think of family as an unbroken line of people that stretches from us to the very distant past. Our research has made those who came before us a real as if we had met them personally. When we celebrate our living families at holiday time, we at the same time celebrate all those other absent family members.

This is a gift really...a sense of family enriches us. Since family is so paramount in our lives, how blessed we are that our avocation has opened to us a broadening of family that has made us all that much richer. I hope you are able to share this gift of ancestral family with your living one.
On behalf of your board of directors, I wish you all the joy of the holidays and the comfort that comes from family...present and past.

[And when you are with family, don't forget to pump them for genealogy information!]


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dropbox -- A Very Useful Utility

At some of our genealogy classes and workshops, the subject of a utility called Dropbox has come up. I know several of you are using it, as am I, and find it great as a way to sychronize files between computers and as an online backup.

Dick Eastman, in his Online Newsletter, has written a couple or reviews of the product that might be worth your looking at if you are not already a Dropbox user. You can find his latest review at

I'm using Dick's review of Dropbox to introduce another piece of news. We are in the process of building a new class focusing entirely on genealogy computer utilities. This will involve an exploration and explanation of many programs, like Dropbox, that are available to make research and record keeping easier.

Keep checking the PGS class calendar on our website so you don't miss this. It should roll out sometime in the spring. The PGS website is at

Monday, December 20, 2010

Police Chiefs of the Past in Eau Claire, WI

This is a very specialized collection of information: past police chiefs in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. But if it applies to you, it is pure gold.

Eau Claire police detective Todd Johnson undertook the task of collecting information on the city's past police chiefs, and as an historian, apparently got caught up in the project.

You can read some of the stories he has unearthed and see a list of the past chiefs at

Send in Those Queries

PGS members can publish queries in the PGS Journal, Pinellas Genealogist. All you need to do is send them in to the publisher.

The journal goes to all of the other members as well as to about 15 organizations across the country, so it gets a wide distribution. It is a wonderful way to spread the word and get help with some of those brick walls you have encountered.

Just take a minute to write a few and send them in. It's one of those research investments that can yield unexpected and profitable returns. If you get on the stick and do this by the end of December, your query will be published in the next edition of the journal.

Send your queries to with the subject line of "PGS Journal Query."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

PGS Board Members--2011

At the general meeting of the Pinellas Genealogy Society in December 2010, the annual election of officers took place. Six of the twelve board positions stood for election this year.

Shown is a picture of the board as we move into 2011. From the left, the officers are

Ed Deming--Web Master
Flo Bickel--Corresponding Secretary
Millard Russell--Vice President
Sherrie Hellrung--Projects Director
Bob Bryan--Education Director
Diane Clemmons--Membership Coordinator
Beth Shields--Treasurer
Rosemary Hayes--Recording Secretary
Sally Brown--Finance Director
David Dellinger--Journal Editor
Larry Hosmer--Seminar Director
Peter Summers--President
Congratulations to all.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Record Those Sources...Don't Make Me Tell You Again!

In a recent edition of his Online Genealogy Newsletter, Dick Eastman wrote an interesting piece about recording sources. Dick's history with this subject is like most of ours; that is, when we started out in genealogy we didn't pay as much attention to recording sources as we should have, and we regret it to this day.

Newbie or experienced researcher, you will find Dick's article informative. Perhaps it will give you the motivation you need to conscientiously source your findings. You can read his article at

Don't forget, the Pinellas Genealogy Society teaches a free class at the Largo Public Library on this very topic. Check the class calendar (near the top of the home page) at the PGS website for presentation dates. The site can be found at

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Database Identifies Revolutionary War Soldiers Who Fought At Saratoga

Thanks to Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter for this alert.

A new computer database (constructed by a local genealogy and history group called Heritage Hunters), contains information about 16,000 of the roughly 17,000 American soldiers who fought in Saratoga County, New York in 1777.

The database is available at the Saratoga National Military Park if you visit there. An ongoing project is to add GPS coordinates to the records so you can identify approximately where on the battleground any particular soldier was located.

The database is also available on line at

You can read all about the project at

The information provided includes place of enlistment, rank, unit, and dates of service, and sometimes other notes of interest.

Each records also contains a reference for the information posted.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If You're Irish, Chech out "Irish Central"

If you have Irish in your background, you may find something interesting at the website "Irish Central"...perhaps even if you are not Irish as well.

The home page is at

Although the site deals with a lot of modern day Irish topics, you can click on the "Roots" tab at the top of the page for things more genealogical.

For instance, one article gives you a list of the most popular Irish baby names in the US. You can hunt around for it (after all, that's half the fun), or go directly to

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Big Doings at the PGS Genealogy Meeting on 18 December

The Pinellas Genealogy Society general meeting on 18 December is one you do not want to miss. It is held at the Largo Public Library at 11 am, preceded by a "Computers in Genealogy" discussion group at 10 am. Both are free and open to the public.

This meeting will feature some society business (annual elections) as well as events of more general interest. Our second annual family heirloom display will also be part of the program. Tables will be available for members and guests to display their heirlooms for all to enjoy. Last year this was a big hit. The heirlooms were interesting as well as seeing some of the measures people had taken to preserve them. Refreshments will also be available to celebrate the holiday season.

If you have not attended a society meting before, this is a good one to see what we are all about, and if you are an old hand, this meeting boasts a distinctly different format from what you usually see. Put this event on your calendar and join us for this annual event.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Continuing Census Improvements From

Ancestry continues to make improvements in its census offerings, and this is a reason to revisit your search attempts at that site. If you have not been successful in finding your ancestor in previous searches, it is worth the time to retry occasionally to take advantage of the improvements.

For example, in October the site announced that it now has new indexes for 1920 U.S. Census, including 20 million alternate names as well as new and improved indexes for 1790-1840 with additional fields.

Don't forget that if you do not have a personal subscription to Ancestry, you can get free access to it at most public libraries.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Website From the Allen County Library

A while ago the Allen County Library launched a new website designed with the purpose of aiding family research without having to actually visit the library.

The home page gives you links to tips on getting started in genealogy as well as forms to search their free databases and their catalog.

A particularly interesting exploration is the "Pathfinders" tab at the top of the home page. It will lead you to pages that can guide you in conducting research in several differed areas such as adoption, German, Irish and more.

You can find the site at

Thanks to Dick Eastman for mentioning this site in his online newsletter.

Monday, December 6, 2010

RootsWeb Revamps Its SSDI Search

Have you taken a look at RootsWeb's SSDI Advanced Searches recently? ( With a recent revamp advanced searches may be performed on any or all fields in the database:

>Name (first, last, middle initial) using either exact spelling, Soundex or Metaphone. (See "Terms and Definitions" for an explanation of Soundex and Metaphone:
>Birth and Death.
>Last Residence and Last Benefit.
>Social Security Number (SSN)
>Issued by (state)
>Age at Death (field added in new code)

Search results listings have been updated to offer you choices in the display and they are now listed alternately in white and gray to make it easy to follow each entry across all columns. Entries in each field may be sorted in ascending or descending order using the up and down arrows next to each column. For example, if you want to sort the death column for all of the Robert E. SMITHs born in 1904 to show those who died more recently at the top of the results or at the end -- you can click the arrows to get the desired display order.

The above was extracted for an article previously published in RootsWeb Review: 13 October 2010, Vol. 13, No. 10

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Name Thesaurus" Gives You Search Options

A website called "Name Thesaurus" will give you variations of both surnames and forenames. It is easy to use and gives some surprising results.

On the home page you are given a form in which to enter either a surname or a forename (given name), and it is as simple as that. The results page will then list matches that are variations of the entered name, soundex matches, and metaphone matches. If you ever wonder exactly what the soundex and metaphone choices in search engines (such as Ancestry and FamilySearch) look for, now you know. And if you want to manually enter some spelling variations yourself, this site will give you plenty of options.

I entered the surname summers and got 280 spelling variations, 4090 soundex matches, and 366 metaphone matches.

Thanks to Debbe Hagner for this site suggestion. Debbe was the speaker at the November GPS meeting where she talked about breaking down brick walls. This site is one she recommends to help do that.

You can explore the site at

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Digital Files Will Last a Long, Long time...With Good Practices

The debate over when medium is better, paper or film or digital, has been with us for some time now. A good review of the topic with a fairly complete explanation about why he thinks digital media is best, is provided by Dick Eastman in Online Genealogy Newsletter.

The key is following good procedures, such as have been practiced in responsible data centers for years.

Dick outlines those practices and explains how we can put them to use in our own data storage and preservation schemes.

You can read Dick's article at

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Tools in Google Maps

In case you haven't noticed, there are some relatively new tools available in Google Maps. They are not automatically available, however. You have to activate them, but that is a simple process.

After bringing up the Google Maps page on your computer, look in the upper right of the window for the word "new" (probably in red letters). Once you click on that word, a pop up window will open that lists the tools and gives you the option to selectively activate them. A couple of easy mouse-clicks will do the trick.

One tool that I like a lot is the Drag and Zoom option. This one gives you the capability of drawing a box around your area of interest on the map and have the view quickly zoom into that box.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Manasota Genealogical Society Meeting on 7 December

The Manasota Genealogical Society will meet Tuesday, December 7, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00, at the Manatee County Central Library for a presentation by the Rev. Herb Loomis titled “The Genealogy of Santa Claus Post Cards.” A Special Interest Group to follow with "Organizing Genealogical Data in Your Computer."

For further information contact Jean Morris at (941)722-5156. The society website can be found at

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mending a Document Tear

This was recently published in the GenealogyGems Digest, Vol 70, Issue 1:

Preservation Tip of the Month--Mending a Paper Tear by Becky Schipper
To correctly mend a torn page or document you will need a bone folder {A bone folder or bone folder is a dull edged device used to crease material in crafts such as bookbinding, card making and any other craft where a sharp crease is needed} and Filmoplast P paper mending tape, which is acid free. For non-archival paper you may use Scotch Magic Removable Tape #811.

Carefully matching words and or lines and pictures, use a narrow piece of mending tape to cover the tear. It is always best to mend on the back side if you can accomplish a good match. Apply the tape from the inner or spine side of the page and rub towards the outer edge. Use no more tape than necessary; but if the tear is overly long or very jagged you may need to tape on both the front and back. Burnish the tape with the bone folder to make it almost invisible.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Read About the New FamilySearch Beta Website

Nearly everyone is familiar with the website sponsored by the LDS, and by now most of us have poked around the Record Search Pilot page of that website. Now there is a new beta site at that is shortly going to replace the Record Search Pilot and it is available now.

Growing by leaps and bounds, the beta site is being groomed for "prime time" sometime early next year. Regardless of when it loses its "beta" designation, it is well worth your attention now if you are not familiar with it.

The Standard-Examiner website has an article about the project that will help put it in perspective. Read the article at and then go play. Don't get trapped by only paying attention to the search form on the home page. Take some time to explore the links on the right side of the page as well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Honoring Our Ancestors" Website

Megan Smolenyak, our featured speaker at the approaching PGS Annual Seminar in February 2011, has a website that is worth checking frequently. It is filled with articles, links, hints, tips, and more. You can find the site at

While you are at the site, be sure and read a little of Megan's background. I'm confident that you will want to hear her in person on 12 February 2011.

The site also gives you the opportunity to subscribe to her free newsletter. Do it, you'll not be disappointed.

You can get a PGS seminar registration form at, or pick one up at the Genealogy Center at the Largo Public Library.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Unique Family Tree Charts

The website offers some very unique family tree charts. They are not free, but if you have such a need they are worth checking out.

You can see the images and order them at

Roots Magic User Group Will Be Dark This Month

The Roots Magic User Group which usually meets the 4th Saturday of each month will not do so this month, due to the holiday. In fact, it will not meet in December either...for the same reason.

But mark you calendars for the 4th Saturday in January when its activity will pick up again.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Megan Smolenyak to Speak at PGS Seminar

Megan Smolenyak is the featured speaker at the annual PGS Seminar on 12 February, 2011.

She is uniquely qualified to speak on the subject of genealogy, and her achievements in the field have been diverse and widely recognized. She is the author of four books, and probably the best known is In Search of Our Ancestors, that served as the companion book to the 13-episode PBS Ancestors series, and Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History, companion guide to the NBC series. She has also written Trace Your Roots with DNA, In Search of Our Ancestors, and Honoring Our Ancestors. She has served as Chief Family Historian and spokesperson for and founder of, a volunteer group that assists coroners and medical examiners.

Some other noteworthy genealogical accomplishments include the true story of Annie Moore, the first immigrant through Ellis Island, Tracing Barack Obama's roots to Ireland, providing forensic consulting services to the U.S. Army to locate thousands of family members of soldiers still unaccounted for from World War I thru Viet Nam, helping Chris Haley, nephew of Alex Haley of Roots fame, use DNA testing to confirm the family's oral tradition of their ancestry, and figuring out who would be king of America if George Washington had been king instead of president.

Megan is also a popular speaker and TV guest, having appeared on Good Morning America, NPR, Today Show, CNN, BBS Breakfast and many more. She has also written numerous magazine articles and is the recipient of National Genealogical Society's Award of Merit, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and an MBA from George Washington University and a Master’s Degree in Information Technology from John Hopkins University.

You can get a registration from from the PGS website ( or pick one up in the Genealogy Center of the Largo Public Library.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Atlanta Historic Newspapers Online

More than 67,000 pages of several Atlanta, GA newspapers are now online. The cover the years 1857 to 1922.

You need a DjVu plugin installed on your computer to view the images, but the site lets you know if you have to download it or not. If you do, a handy link is provided.

The search screen is complete with the ability to exclude terms as well as search for desired phrases and words.

You can check out these papers at

Thursday, November 18, 2010

PGS Represented at Annual FSGS Conference

Pictures: (1) PGS Banner on Display, (2) Sally Brown and a "customer" at the PGS Table

Sally Brown and I represented the PGS at the annual Florida State Genealogical Society (FSGS) Conference at Sarasota, Florida on 12-13 November 2010. The FSGS is a federation of all of the genealogy societies in Florida, so we are automatically a member, and there are individual as well as society members.

Part of every conference is the opportunity to network with presenters and other attendees. We made contacts with several presenters we will consider inviting to speak at our monthly meetings, and we also talked to several societies about our availability as speakers at their meetings. There are at least three societies that we are invited to speak at each year, and contacting them at this conference goes a long way toward keeping our relationship current.

The principal speaker at the conference was Maureen Taylor (The PhotoDetective). All of her presentations dealt with photographs in one way or another. Her topics were “Discovering Genealogical Clues in Family Photographs,” “Telling Your Family Story: Blogs to Heritage Scrapbooks,” Photographs and Stories From the American Revolution,” and “How to Find Family Photographs On and Off Line.” She is the author of several books about the identification, protection, and use of photographs in genealogy, at least two of which we have in our collection. Maureen also gave personal sessions for those who had questions about specific photographs they brought with them.

Other speakers also made presentations, and some of their topics were as follows:
· Kim Garvey—“Immigration and the Atlantic World Model”
· Michael Neill—“Establishing Your Own Migration Trail”
· Pauline Flewett—“English Parish Chest Records”
· Mark Middleton—“Digital Archiving”
· Pamela Cooper—“Pensions of the Poor”

The above is just a sampling of the presentations. In all there were at total of fifteen breakout sessions in addition the Maureen’s presentations.

Some authors and publishers were at the conference selling their books and we purchased a couple to add to our collection at the Largo Public Library. The titles are
· "You Ought to Write That Down: A Guide to Organizing and Writing Genealogical Narrative" by Paul Drake
· "Preserving Your Family Photographs" by Maureen Taylor

In addition to attending many of the presentations of the conference, we also engaged in some activities to promote the PGS. One of those was participating in the presentation of society banners. This takes place early the first day when each society who brought a banner to the conference participates in a small ceremony of presenting their banner to the crowd and then placing it in display for the duration of the conference. Before the conference ends a medallion is affixed to each displayed banners signifying its presence at the conference. The PGS banner has several of those medallions already.

Another promotional activity we undertook was setting up a display table for our society. The table was identified with our large tri-fold poster with the society logo, and several handouts were displayed as well. The handouts dealt with our Blog and website addresses, copies of our newsletter and journal, lists of books we sell, lists of classes we teach to other organizations, and lists of our CD-Rom classes. We also had registration forms for the society and the annual seminar in February.

In summary, the FSGS conference in my experience has always been a valuable experience, and this year was no exception. I believe that our association with that organization has benefited us, and it has benefited from our support as well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Headstone Photos Online

Allen Wheatley has a hobby that may benefit some of us: he takes pictures of headstones in cemeteries all over the country and posts them online. Here is his explanation: "I started photographing just my relatives in their cemeteries but found I needed to go back often to get newly found cousins. So I switched to getting complete cemeteries. Now I rarely go to a cemetery because of relatives therein, I just enjoy getting all the pictures and sharing with you."

He currently has cemeteries from just over 30 states. There just might be a connection between your ancestors and his coverage. Check it out at:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Online Classes at

I have talked about the online classes available from the website before, but this is such a valuable resource that I feel justified in mentioning it again.

This LDS sponsored website is long on education, but most visitors don't get much past the typical search for names and vital statistics. That is a shame because the research guides and online classes are so extensive and so helpful.

At this point there are more than 80 online classes available, and they are free. They cover a multitude of topics including European research by country, Civil War research, beginning genealogy, and state censuses just to name a few. Of particular interest may be the series of thirty classes on reading and interpreting non-English records.

You can get to the list of classes by clicking on "Free Online Classes" on the home page, or by clicking directly on this link:

By the way, the PGS is offering a class on getting the most out of the website. It will be at the Largo Public Library at 10 am on 30 November.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Family History Writer's Workshop Takes a Break

The monthly Family History Writer's Workshop, normally held on the 4th Tuesday of each month, will take a break for the holidays.

The next meeting will be on 25 Jan 2011 at 6 pm in the Largo Public Library.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Get a Feel for Your Ancestors' Daily Lives

There is an online magazine that is devoted to telling the history of the times in America before 1900. Its articles give you some insight to the events that shaped our ancestors' lives.

The website is an attractive presentation that itself looks like an old newspaper, and the article headlines are hot linked to the full stories. It is published quarterly, and older issues are available (the link is near the bottom of the home page.

If you are interested in searching for a particular topic, there is a search box at the bottom of the home page.

This can be interesting but addictive reading. You can check it out at

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Find Your Ancestor's Ship at ShipIndex

Your immigration research is not done simply because you found your ancestor's name on a passenger list. You also want to get some information about the ship on which he or she traveled. Actually seeing a picture of it and reading about its voyages can give you an idea of the experience your ancestor had.

You can find ship references at the Ship Index website. It tells you which books, magazines, and online resources mention the vessels you're researching. With 142,804 entries in the free database and 1,420,968 entries available with premium access, you're bound to find useful information there. Given that part of the site is closed unless you subscribe, you might run into a dead end occasionally, but it is worth the hunt. Remember, this site gives the primarily references to go look at, not the information itself.

Check it out at

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Reminder: PGS Slogan Contest Ends 13 November

We want a slogan that will elegantly, clearly, and forcefully define our Society. We want to be able to put it on our seal, our letterheads, the newsletter, the journal, on tri-fold handouts, the PGS banner – anywhere and everywhere that the public can associate it with the name Pinellas Genealogy Society.

The person whose slogan is selected will be rewarded with the knowledge that they will go down in the history of PGS. Oh, yes, and there is also a significant and worthwhile prize that goes along with that.You can send in as many suggestions as you like, the more the better. They should be sent by email to If you don't have email capabilities, you can mail them to Journal Editor/PGS Slogan, c/o Largo Public Library, 120 Central Park Drive, Largo, FL 33771-2110.

Deadline is 13 Nov. 2010. Hurry, hurry, hurry!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Classes at the Largo Public Library

Here are the genealogy classes scheduled at the Largo Public Library for the week starting 7 November:

Photo Organization & Basic Image Enhancement using Picasa--08 Nov., 10:00 AM techniques for getting the most from this huge collection of databases--09 Nov., 6:00 PM
Naturalization Records--Many of our immigrant ancestors went on to become naturalized citizens of the United States. This class outlines the naturalization process, the documents produced during that process, the information they contain, and where they can be located--10 Nov., 10:00 AM

All classes are free and open to the public.

Friday, November 5, 2010

GenWriters Helps Family History Writers

If you are thinking of writing down some of your family history, the GenWriters site is for you. It provides hints and tips and links to help you add depth and color to your ancestor's lives as you write about them.

It gives not only guidance on writing, but also links to historic information that can add interest to your family history: some link topics are "Migration Patterns & Trails," "Timelines & Chronologies," and "Wars & the Military."

The site also gives guidance on such topics as getting started to write and the editing process.

Check out this site at

And, of course, if you are writing about your family, or thinking about doing so, drop by the PGS Family History Writer's Group. It meets at 6 pm every 4th Tuesday at the Largo Public Library.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Check Out "Linkpendium"

The website "Linkpendium" is a must stop for researchers. It doesn't provide any data on its own, but it links to a multitude of sources you may be interested in. It is continually updated so new sites are added as time goes on.

Navigation is easy on the site. From the home page you are provided a list of localities and surnames that link to more complete information and further links. For instance, I click on "Wisconsin Genealogy" and then further chose Waushara County and was treated to cemetery listings, county history, lists of Wisconsin Civil War soldiers, links to appropriate RootsWeb mailing lists, and much more.

This is one of those sites you want to revisit periodically. You can see the site at

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 and

The word has been out for a few months now about Ancestry's purchase of Footnote, but the deal was apparently not officially done until a few weeks ago. Footnote sent a note to its subscribers soon after the ink had dried. Here it is:

"Several weeks ago (as part of iArchives) agreed to be acquired by and that transaction has officially closed today [21 October]. As we join forces with there is a huge opportunity to leverage each other’s strengths and move even faster toward our goals. You may be curious about how this deal effects members of The plan is to continue to run the way we have always run — continuing to do what we believe is best for our customers, our business and our brand.
"Now that the deal is officially closed we are excited to leverage some of’s resources and expertise to take to the next level. It has been exciting to see grow over the past 4 years. started with only 5 million historical documents and today we have nearly 70 million searchable documents, over 1 million members, nearly 100,000 Footnote Pages, and over half million annotations added. We couldn’t have done it without our members and the great team at and we are excited for’s support in the next chapter."

It is difficult to predict the precise future in regards to footnote. Most likely, in my opinion, it will continue to exist in tandem with Ancestry. There is some overlap in the offerings of the two sites, but mostly they are complementary. It would also be reasonable to expect that Ancestry subscribers will be offered a reduced subscription rate to Footnote.

I personally remain enthusiastic about It offers a great historical perspective through digitized original documents which is often helpful in understanding our ancestors' lives. And where Footnote and Ancestry overlap, Revolutionary War pension applications and compiled service records for example, Footnote's presentation is much preferred.

As you may recall, in the first half of 2010 the PGS offered to its members a reduced subscription rate for Footnote. We intend to do that again in 2011. I had a conversation last week with Brian Hansen, the GM of Footnote, and he was very open to establishing our relationship again in 2011.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reminder: Suncoast Mini Seminar on 6 November

The Suncoast Genealogy Society Announces its annual Mini Seminar for 2010. It will take place on November 6, 2010 at the Palm Harbor Library in the Community Room. The library is at 2330 Nebraska Ave, Palm Harbor, Florida.

The event takes place from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM with registration starting at 12:30PM.
The speaker this year is George Morgan who will talk on two topics: "The Genealogist as CSI" and "Research in the Major British Records Repositories in London."

For additional information Contact: Ann James by phone at 727-791-1983 or by Email at

Military Records Class at Aging Well Center

On 6 October the PGS will present another of its continuing classes at the Aging Well Center (Long Center) in Clearwater (1501 N. Belcher Rd). The class is on military records and will be held at 10 am.

If you missed this class when it was recently presented at the Largo Public Library, you can now catch it again at the Center. The class will focus on what records were made during different historical periods in the U. S., what genealogical information they contain, and where you can find them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Name is the Same....So What!

The website recently published an article that explores the probability that people with the same surnames are related.

Researchers in England found that there is about a 1 in 4 chance that males sharing a common surname would actually share a common ancestor.

The article makes for interesting reading and a link is provided to further research if you are interested. You can find the article at

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Italian Genealogy Research

A recent article published by Michael Cestaro on the Tom Wilt News website, gives some pointers and tips to those starting to research their Italian ancestors. He give useful information about birth, death, and marriage documents.

The article does not go into as much depth as you might like, and it appears that Michael is in part advertising his services, but the article is worth a look if you are researching ancestors in that country. You can read the article at

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Genealogy Roots Blog"...Gateway to Loads of Information

Here is the link to a posting on the "Genealogy Roots Blog" by Joe Beine: I've mentioned Joe's name before, but not in some time so it bears repeating.

This particular blog post is an update to Joe's list of death records, indexes, and obituaries found online. It also give the link to the complete list right at the top of the post.

Joe keeps other lists of genealogy website updated as well: birth, marriage, military, etc. At the bottom of the post is an opportunity to subscribe to the Blog by Email or RSS feed. That means that you can be notified each time Joe updates one of his lists.

PhotoShop Elements to Edit and Organize Photos

We have another session coming up tomorrow night (Wed., 27 Oct) at the Largo Public Library dealing with PhotoShop Elements to edit and organize photos.

If you are interested in attending to see how the program works, don't forget that you can bring one of your own photos that needs work to be used as an example. Put it on a thumb drive and we'll see what we can do with it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Motivation for Immigrant Name Changes

Earlier this year, the website published an interesting article that cited a modern day study about why immigrants may change their names to being more ethnically neutral or more resembling names of their new country.

Although the study was done in the modern day, it is logically tempting to extrapolate its findings to the past. You can read the article at

Oh, and the reason for changing one's, of course.

Friday, October 22, 2010

PGS Slogan Contest

PGS is looking for a few good slogans.

Think: "Be all you can be" or "At 10 – at 2 – at 4" or "E pluribus unum."

We want a slogan that will elegantly, clearly, and forcefully define our Society. We want to be able to put it on our seal, our letterheads, the newsletter, the journal, on tri-fold handouts, the PGS banner – anywhere and everywhere that the public can associate it with the name Pinellas Genealogy Society.

The person whose slogan is selected will be rewarded with the knowledge that they will go down in the history of PGS. Oh, yes, and there is also a significant and worthwhile prize that goes along with that.You can send in as many suggestions as you like, the more the better. They should be sent by email to If you don't have email capabilities, you can mail them to Journal Editor/PGS Slogan, c/o Largo Public Library, 120 Central Park Drive, Largo, FL 33771-2110.

Deadline is 13 Nov 2010. Hurry, hurry, hurry!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

GEDCOM Explained

This post is rather lengthy, but I think it is worth the space. It is an explanation of the GEDCOM format that we use so much. Although we use the term freely, I suspect, based on questions I hear at our classes, that the concept is not all that well understood.

This explanation is one that I think does the job of explaining it well. It was recently published in RootsWeb Review.

"If you have used genealogy software to create a family tree on your computer or you have created a tree online, you are probably aware that you can share your tree data with others who use a different software program because of a file called a GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunication).

"Genealogy software programs are databases and, as such, they arrange the information you input into fields. Each program does this using its own proprietary format. These formats are not compatible with one another. You wouldn't be able to share your trees with people who use other programs were it not for GEDCOMs. Understanding how the insides of a GEDCOM work will help you understand why your file shows up in each program the way it does.

"A GEDCOM is nothing more than a plain text file comprised of all the information you input into your genealogy file. You can open a GEDCOM in WordPad or any text editor. However, you may not be able to easily decipher the text when you attempt to read it in that manner. Think of the file content as being like an outline, where the indented lines explain the line above them. The numbers at the beginning of each line may be considered to be the number of indentations or tabs from the left of the page in a standard outline format. Thus a line beginning with the number 2 would contain details about the first line beginning with number 1 immediately above it.

"A GEDCOM uses "tags" to represent the fields in a genealogy database. Genealogy software programs support GEDCOMs by transferring the data in your file into tags. When you share a GEDCOM with someone using a different genealogy program than the one you use, the program uses the GEDOM tags to assign the data to the proper fields used by the alternate program. Some common tags are, SOUR for source, BIRT for birth, and PLAC for place."

[Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 8 September 2010, Vol. 13, No. 9]

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"We Are All Cousins"

Elizabeth Shown Mills, author of Evidence Explained, was recently featured in a video on You Tube. The title of the video is "We Are All Cousins."

The thrust of her message is that we need to broaden our research to include ethnic, religious, and geographic groups that we may believe do not apply to us. If anything, the application of DNA technology to the field of genealogy shows us that the way we look or the stories we have been told are often misleading indicators of our heritage.

The video is short and to the point: cast a wider net in your research. You can see the video at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Roots Magic User's Group Meeting

The next meeting of the Roots Magic User's Group is at 10 am on Saturday, 23 October at the Largo Public Library.

If you have problems using the software, questions, or just mild curiosity about how it can aid your genealogy record keeping and research, drop by.

Reminder: Writing Competition Ends 31 October

Pinellas Genealogist, the quarterly journal of Pinellas Genealogy Society, is proud to conduct its second annual Family History Writing Competition, BUT TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

Pinellas Genealogist is accepting entries for the annual Family History Writing Competition from members and non-members of the Society. Entries should be based on the author’s research of a family history or a genealogical account of family lines and lives, discussing the steps followed and the conclusions that resulted from the research. Entries may be original, unpublished papers or published papers. If previously published, please submit permission to reprint from the original publisher along with the entry.

Prizes will be awarded to three submissions selected by our judges:

First prize—$50 Second prize—$30 Third prize—$20

The winner will be announced in the winter issue of Pinellas Genealogist. All entries must be received no later than 31 October 2010. The competition rules are attached to this email and are also available on the PGS web site at:

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Courthouse Documents" the Next Class at the Aging Well Center

The PGS class titled "Courthouse Documents" will be taught at the Aging Well Center in Clearwater at 10 am on Saturday, 23 October.

If you missed this class the last time it was taught at the Largo Public Library, or want to refresh your memory on the genealogical treasures that can be found in the nation's courthouses, put this class on your calendar.

The Aging Well Center is at 1501 N. Belcher Rd., Clearwater, Florida. You can see an advanced schedule of the classes the PGS will present at the center by going to

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another Upgrade to the Genealogy Center

The end caps to the book shelves at the Genealogy Center are seeing another upgrade.

Historic pictures from the Largo Public Library collection are being reproduced and place on the end caps to delineate the boundaries of the Genealogy Center. The picture to the right shows library director Casey McPhee standing next to one of the picture displays.

Right now the pictures are temporary, but they soon will be permanent fixtures. Be sure and check them out the next time you are at the Genealogy Center.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Suncoast Genealogy Society Seminar on 6 November

The Suncoast Genealogy Society Announces its annual Mini Seminar for 2010. It will take place on November 6, 2010 at the Palm Harbor Library in the Community Room. The library is at 2330 Nebraska Ave, Palm Harbor, Florida.

The event takes place from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM with registration starting at 12:30PM.

The speaker this year is George Morgan who will talk on two topics: "The Genealogist as CSI" and "Research in the Major British Records Repositories in London."

For additional information Contact: Ann James by phone at 727-791-1983 or by Email at

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How Accurate is DNA Testing for Genealogy?

The online newsletter Genealogy in Time recently published an article that gave some warnings about unrealistic expectations concerning the accuracy of DNA testing for genealogy.

It makes interesting reading, and the best part of all is the conclusion that says " should become an informed consumer and make sure you understand the implications and limitations of such tests."

Perhaps it is the liberal use of DNA testing that we see in various police dramas on television that fools us into thinking that DNA testing for genealogy can be as precise in its results. Whatever the reason for that belief, it is not valid.

DNA testing is what it is our expectations that try to make it into something it is not. Do your research before you invest in any test and be sure you know what you are getting and how to use it. The test results can be helpful or frustrating, and the difference is mostly a function of your own knowledge about the process.

You can see the Genealogy in Time article at

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

School Yearbooks Something to Check Out has an expanding school yearbook collection that is worth looking at. Those books can include interesting things like nick names, interests, and even photos of your ancestors...just the type of information that helps to make your ancestors come alive.

The collection now has recently been expanded to include about 58 million additional records and spans from 1988 all the way back to 1875. It includes yearbooks from junior highs, high schools, universities and other institutions.

If you don't have an subscription, you can visit the library and get access to the site from there for free. Even if you don't have a subscription, you can do the search from home to see what possible matches occur.

Check it out at

Monday, October 11, 2010

Writer's Workshop Meets on 19 October

The Family History Writer's Workshop will hold its next meeting at the Largo Public Library at 6 pm on 19 October.

If you are thinking about writing down some of the family stories you have been collecting, this may be the group for you. Even if you have been writing for some time, you will pick up some skills and ideas from the group discussions and the practice writing sessions. This is not a class...actual writing takes place with a chance to share the product and get ideas on how to improve on what you are creating.

Drop by and see what the group is all about. It may open doors to the next step in your family history research.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Land Records One of the Best Genealogy Resources

Martha Jones recently published an article titled "Land records can reveal family lineages" in the Victoria Advocate that is worth checking out. As the title indicates, she explores the value of land records. Just to wet your whistle, here are some of her opening comments:

"Land records in America date back to the early 1600s. Even as late as the 1850s, nine out of 10 adult, white males owned land and today the figure is more than 50 percent. For genealogists, land records are one of their best resources for tracing ancestral lineages. There is a surname index to virtually every land owner back to the beginning of land sales and acquisition in the U.S. It is estimated that researchers have a 90 percent chance of finding their ancestor in a land-ownership index. This is surely a better percentage rate than searching census records, especially prior to 1850, when genealogical research starts getting more difficult."

Because of the completeness and reach of land records, some say that they are a "better" genealogical source than even the US Census...and as you can see above, Martha hints at this also.

Land records can be such a fertile (but unused) source of information that the PGS has a schedule to develop a class on the subject. You won't see it until next year, but when it is rolled out it will complement our impressive list of 30+ classes already on the books. Keep your eye out for it.

You can check out Martha's article at

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Helpful Links in

This article appeared in a recent edition of RootsWeb Review, the online news letter from RootsWeb. It has a raft of links to great resources available on RootsWeb that you may have overlooked. Take a minute to check them out.

"As stated in Getting Started at RootsWeb, the primary purpose and function of RootsWeb, is to connect people so that they can help each other and share genealogical research. And one of the ways we accomplish this goal, is through tutorials – some provided by the RootsWeb Review columnists, our dedicated RootsWeb staff and others by the RootsWeb family of volunteers.

"RootsWeb Review Archives
You can always find a previously published article or tip in the archives at

A few ideas from the RootsWeb family of volunteers
Want to learn about Native American genealogy? Try Paul Carter's “Cherokee Gen Tutorial”.
Want to know how to get a copy of a soldier's official Civil War military record? See Geoffrey R. Walden's “Compiled Service Records (CSRs) - Civil War Soldiers”.
How about creating web pages?Pat Geary will teach you how to “Create a New Website in Expression Web”.
And don't forget the Webmaster FAQs.
Want to avoid genealogical issues?Read “Twenty Ways to Avoid Genealogical Grief” (originally published in The British Columbia Genealogist, Vol. 17 #1, Mar/88).
RootsWeb's Guide to Tracing Family Trees. And finally, don't forget this almost timeless step-by-step guides created by professional genealogists, Julia M. Case, Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG and Rhonda McClure. Topics include: Using Technology: Software and GEDCOMs; Vital Records: Death, Tombstones and Cemeteries; Taxing Tales; Tracing Immigrant Ancestors; Fraternal Organizations; City Directories and Newspapers; Canadian, French-Canadian, Acadian and French Connections; African American, Native American, Jewish, Unique Peoples (Melungeon, Black Dutch, etc.); Adoption and Orphans Records, & many more."

[Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 11 August 2010, Vol. 13, No. 8]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Copyright Rules

Have you been confused about the rules of copyright? If you are like me, you learn the rules, and then because you don't have to apply them for a while, you forget them.

If that is the case, this might be just the thing you need. Cornell University has created a reference guide that is easy to link to or store on your computer for handy reference. All of the different media and circumstances are presented in a single table that makes the myriad of rules fairly easy to negotiate.

You can see the guide at

Monday, October 4, 2010

Immigration Class at Aging Well Center

The PGS will present a class on Immigration and Passenger Lists at the Aging Well Center at 10 am on 9 October. The Aging Well Center is at the Long Center in Clearwater (1501 N. Belcher Road).

If you happened to miss the class when it was offered at the Largo Public Library or if you want a refresher on this important area of research, drop by and check it out.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Curt Witcher on "Care" of Photographs

This article appeared recently in the electronic newsletter published by the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center.

More "Care" of Photographs by Curt Witcher

"We know how important photographic images are to our family stories, and we all have a strong interest in making sure those images survive long beyond our lifetimes. In addition to caring for the physical photographs, there are ways of employing technology to assure the images are well preserved and available for future generations of family members.

"Digitizing and sharing photographic images is an important 21st century way of preserving photographs. Many are familiar with the acronym LOCKSS, which stands for "lots of copies keeps stuff safe." Today it is relatively easy and virtually free to digitize photographs and make them available in a number of formats and places. First, if several family members are working on the genealogies of related lines, suggest that all researchers make a digital copy of all their photographs and share those on DVDs or flash/jump drives with all other interested family members. Doing that helps protect against a disaster wiping-out a valuable collection.

"Next, look for opportunities to contribute photographic images to virtual web sites. If you have pictures of tombstones, contemplate contributing them to the "Find-A-Grave" website. Consider creating a family page for yourself on won't cost you a cent. Create a family photograph album for yourself on Flickr, and then invite family members to view and contribute. Investigate contributing photographic images to a virtual community album that the local library or historical society might be hosting in the area where your family lived. There are many ways we can employ ever-advancing technology in the care of our photographs."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Coming Crisis in Genealogical Research

Curt Witcher, the manager of The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana recently addressed BYU's Conference on Family History and Genealogy and raised some flags about a genealogical crises he sees on the horizon.

His remarks cause all of us to take notice because even at a personal level we can contribute to the problem/solution. For instance he asks how well we organize and save our Email (since people are writing Email in place of paper letters now). I don't know about you, but that got my attention.

He goes on to mention other examples of what he calls the coming genealogical dark ages.

His talk is summarized in the Mormon Times which can be found at

Curt was the principal speaker at the Florida Genealogy Society Seminar in Tampa on 18 September.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Genealogy Articles in Local Newspaper

In case you have not run across it yet, there is a monthly genealogy article published in the Largo Leader. It generally comes out in the second or third Thursday of the month.

The articles vary from phisolophical pieces ("What Genealogists Can Learn From Cats") to some that are more nuts and bolts ("Planning Your Research").

Copies of the Largo Leader are available free at the Largo Public Library and many other locations around the area.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

FSGS Conference in November

The Florida State Genealogical Society (FSGS) conference is being held in Sarasota this year on 12 and 13 November. This is a large event and one that you may consider attending.

The PGS is a member of the FSGS. In a sense, the FSGS is a capstone society that includes as part of its membership all of the genealogy societies in the state of Florida. Each year the PGS sends a couple of board members to the conference to represent the PGS. In addition to attending the sessions at the conference, we display our banner, set up a display table with handouts about the PGS and its events, and produce a report that is then presented to the PGS membership at a general meeting or is published in our journal. Over the years, the FSGS has even given the PGS awards in recognition of its project and educational accomplishments.

You can get more information about the conference and what it entails at the FSGS website at

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Godfrey Library Online Connecticut Cemetery Project

This announcement recently came from the Godfrey Library:

"Godfrey Library continues to make progress on its Connecticut cemetery project. The library now has 135 cemeteries online from Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven and New London Counties with another 10 being processed. Cemetery size varies from two burials to 8,625 burials. In total there are 104,731 burials and 75,925 photographs. Some of these records appear elsewhere but do not include photos."

Starting this year in about February and continuing until the end of December, PGS members are able to get a discount on a Godfrey membership. If you are interested, see the post dated 16 February 2010 on this Blog for further information. And if you are already a member, check out the site for the database mentioned above.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

DNA and Rules and Regulations

The Huffington Post had a recent article from Megan Smolenyak about real and potential restrictions to DNA information and its impact on genealogists and researchers in general. The title of the article is self-explanatory: "Don't Protect Us From Our Own Genetic Information."

In the article, Megan shares the comments of Katherine Borges. the Director of ISOGG, the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, a non-profit organization of over 7,000 members spread throughout the U.S. and 60 other countries.

The subject is important given the growing popularity of DNA testing for genealogical purposes. You can read the article at:

Megan, by the way, is going to be our featured speaker at the GPS Annual Seminar on 12 February, 2011. You might want to mark you calendar now, and watch for other advertisements as the time for the seminar draws nearer. If you want to find out more about Megan, visit

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Family History Writer’s Group Meets 28 September

Just a quick reminder that the group meets again in the Largo Public Library at 6 pm on 28 September.

The discussion topic this month will be the dreaded one of grammar....BUT it will not be long, and it will not be painful. Instead it will be stimulating as we look at some fun ways to improve grammatically. We are not going to get smart about grammar so much as talk about some ways to get smart...does that make sense...grammatically?

I'd like to try a different approach concerning our "homework." I'd like the group to help its members with any current projects being worked on. So if you are writing a book or a memoir or a story about an ancestor or anything related to genealogy, bring a couple paragraphs of your project to share with us. If you don't have a current project, pick a topic and write a couple paragraphs to share.

Regardless, expect an appreciative audience and some constructive criticism.

If you have not attended this workshop but are interested in doing some family history writing, drop by and check it out. But be aware, this is not a class. This is a workshop, so be ready to do some writing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

World War II Immigration

When we think of the topic of immigration, I bet we usually bring to mind those who arrived in this country between 1750 and about 1920. But, of course, immigration did not stop there.

A web page titled "Love to Know" has a short but revealing article about immigration that occurred during WWII and beyond. It does not contain a lot of detail, but it may prompt you to a new line of research.

Check it out at

Monday, September 20, 2010

Revolutionary Was Pension Applications on

A significant addition to the databases was rolled out this summer. Images of the Revolutionary War pension application files are now available. Previously there were three primary places to go to see those images:, a reduced set on, and the National Archives or one of its regional centers.

In addition to pension files, Ancestry also now has various lists and rosters from the revolutionary period. A quick comparison of the Ancestry and Footnote sites shows that the documents files available are essentially the same, but the ones on Footnote are easier to use. For examples, in a pension file on footnote, you have a clear view of where an individual's file starts and stops. On Ancestry, you have to look at every page until your ancestor is simply not mentioned any more or you run into a header card for the next file. This can be cumbersome when files run to 50 pages or more. Also, in Footnote you can go directly to a desired muster roll for your ancestor, while in Ancestry you have to start at the beginning of a roll of digitized microfilm and plow through it until you stumble across your ancestor.

But regardless of convenience or lack of it, if you have a Revolutionary war ancestor this is a "must" piece of research for you. If your ancestor (or his widow) applied for a pension and it has survived various natural, man-made, and administrative catastrophes; it will contain a wealth of genealogical information that often includes wife's maiden name, names and birth dates of children, comments on physical and economic well-being, an outline of the military service performed, proof of marriage, etc. Of all military records, pension application files are potentially the most valuable genealogically.

The PGS offers a class on military records and goes into depth about how to find and use pension records. Check the calendar page on the PGS website ( to see when it is scheduled.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

New Signs Point The Way In The Genealogy Center

As part of the the reorganization of the Genealogy Center at the Largo Public Library, new signs have been placed on the end caps of the book shelves to indicate what topics are located on any particular shelf.

Before the reorganization this summer, the signs that were there were not very helpful. The addition and movement of books over time made them inaccurate. The new signs are not only accurate, but add greatly to the visual effect of the Center.

Drop by the Genealogy Center to see this and the the many other changes for yourself.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Labonte Volumes Added to the Maine Collection

Eighty-two volumes titled "200 Family Trees From France to Canada to US" have now been added to the Maine genealogy collection in the Genealogy Center at the Largo Public Library.

This huge work was the doing of Father Labonte who donated it to the PGS collection this past year. It traces families that ended up in Maine after originating in France and immigrating to Canada.

It is a unique work in itself, but is also a good companion to the "Maine Family Index, 1900-1912" located on the shelf right next to it. To find the collection, look for "929.2741 Labonte."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Minnesota Marriages Searchable Online

If you have Minnesota ancestors, this is a site you have to look at.

Eighty-seven Minnesota counties are participating in this project to make the location of state marriage records easy to locate. This is an index, do the images of the records themselves. But the beauty of the site is that you can search pretty much the whole state from one place rather than having to search county by county.

You search by Name (bride, groom, or both) and date range. The index identifies which county is the official custodian of the record. Questions and concerns about specific records should be directed to the custodial county, of course. Click on the named custodial county to be redirected to the county website for contact information.

Check it out at:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

PGS Monthly Meeting on 18 September

The monthly meeting of the Pinellas Genealogy Society takes place at the Largo Public Library at 11 am on 18 September.

The speaker will be Peter Summers who will talk about "Census Time Lines." This will be an analysis of family census information as it was recorded over successive census years, and the conclusions about our ancestors that can be drawn or the questions that are posed based on that analysis.

The meeting will be preceded at 9:45 am by a computers-in-genealogy Q&A session.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Website For Genealogy Software Reviews

This is a website that I have mentioned before, but given the number of people new to genealogy that have been attending classes over the summer, it is worth mentioning again. Even I visit the site periodically is see what new software titles may have been added.

It varies of course, but a couple days ago the site boasted having 527 reviews. Now that's a lot of genealogy software!

The reviews are done by actual users of the software and are based on a 5-star system, with five bing the best.

The areas included in the review are:

>Enjoy Using it
>Use it often
>Easy input
>Useful output
>Overall rating

This can be a very informative site if you are trying to stay on top of new genealogy products, and it can be especially helpful if you are actually at the point where you are ready to buy some software. Check it out at:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Atlas Stand In The Genealogy Center

Many of you may recall the section of the first shelf in the Genealogy Center of the Largo Public Library that was devoted to atlases. The books were of all sizes and some had hard covers and some not. That combination of configurations led to shelving problems. No matter what we did, the books looked like a mess, they were difficult to get to, and more often than not when you extracted one atlas, three or four others followed it out and fell to the floor.

As a consequence of the new reorganization of the Genealogy Center, there is now room for a atlas stand. It is located at the end of the computer section. It has a broad top to easily use the selected atlas, and several roll out shelves to conveniently get to those that are stored.

Check it out at the Library.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mea Culpa

Sorry, Folks.

There was a class advertised in the library bulletin called "Internet Explorations" that was to take place today (Wednesday, 8 Sep) at the library. I somehow had the idea that the class was to be held on Friday, 10 Sep. The time was to be the same: 10 am. Consequently, I was not at the library for the class, nor could I respond to the call I got from the library because I was at a meeting in Tampa. Unfortunate circumstances all the way around.

But I plan to be at the library for that class on Friday at 10 am. The problem of course, is that I may be the only one who knows about it...and that's one of the reasons for this post.

This may be a meeting to put on your calendar. Internet Explorations is not so much a class as it is a sharing of cool/productive/interesting websites relating to genealogy that I and the people who attend have run across in the past. Previous sessions have proven to be both fun and helpful as we explore new sites, refresh our Google skills, and share our explorations.

Check it out on Friday, 10 Sep., at 10 am in the Local History Room of the Library.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Digital Books at Hathi Trust

The Hathi Trust website offers a lot of digitized books on line. They are not all genealogy related (you have to search around a bit), but you never know what you will find. Those of you who have Kindles or e-Readers and Nook's and are looking for public domain books to download to your readers will love this site.

From the link provided below, you have the following search options: Catalog, full text, and collections.

After one of those selections it is pretty clear on the mouse clicks to use to display the text.

Check it out at HathiTrust Search Portal!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Class At The Aging Well Center

The next class at the Aging Well Center (at the Long Center in Clearwater) will be a live exploration of the popular website. This site, sponsored by the LDS Church, is one of the largest and most popular genealogy websites. Come to this class to see what it has to offer and learn how to get the most out of the time you spend using it.

If you missed the class when it was presented at the Largo Public Library, drop by the Aging Well Center, 1501 North Belcher Road, Clearwater at 10 am on 11 September.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Suncoast Genealogy Society Meetings

The Suncoast Genealogy Society will now be meeting on the 4th Sat of the month, from 2-4 pm at the Palm Harbor Library. Guests are welcome.

The fall Mini Seminar is going to be on Nov. 6th, with George Morgan as the speaker.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Today in History

The Great Fire of London broke out today in 1666. It burned for three days and destroyed about 10,000 buildings, including St. Paul's Cathedral.

To be a good genealogist you have to be a good historian. Could your ancestors have been affected by this event?

Class at Aging Well Center

On 25 August I mentioned on this Blog and agreement that we had reached with the Aging Well Center in Clearwater. (Refer to that post for the details.)

This past Saturday we completed our third class at the Center. The subject was tracking ancestors using the US Census. There were 22 people in attendance, and I am pleased to say, three PGS members took advantage of this new venue.
It the Center is easy for you to get to, check out the programs we will be offering there and drop in.

To the right is a photo of the group.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Library Databases Now Include "Newsbank"

The Largo Library now has "Newsbank" among its offered databases. It is a focused version that concentrates on back issues of the St. Petersburg Times and about 10 news magazines.

It is easy to get to, just click on the "E-Sources" tab on any library terminal, then hit "databases." From there you can find the database in an alphabetical listing or you can find it under the "News and Current Events" category.

The good news does not stop there, however. You can also access Newsbank from your home computer through the library site ( Just click on the "databases" tab on the home page, ask for the alphabetical list, and then click on Newsbank.

Family Tree Maker User's Group To Meet On 4 September

The FTMUG, which has been taking a break during the summer, is picking up again at 10 am on 4 September at the Largo Public Library. The meeting this month will be held in the Jenkins Room C (this is a one-time change from its usual location of Room B).

If you use the program or would like to see what it is all about, join in. The session will be led by Bob Bryan and Larry Hosmer. The agenda is set by the interest and questions of the attendees.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Classes Offered By The PGS

The late summer is what I think of as the beginning of our education year for the Pinellas genealogy Society. It is from that point and into the winter that we roll out new classes that we have been working on. This year is no different, and I'm excited about the new offerings we have.

We will be adding at least five new classes to our lineup. They are:
>Naturalization Records
>Getting the Most Out of the National Archives Website
>Researching with the US Census before 1850
>Six Key Records in Family Research
>Non-Population Schedules of the US Census

Keep your eye on our class schedule to see when these new classes are going to be offered. You can pick up a copy of the class schedule at the Largo public library in genealogy center, or a look at the calendar page on the Pinellas Genealogy Society website at

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

PGS Classes the the Aging Well Center

At a Pinellas Genealogy Society meeting a few months ago I introduced a new project we were undertaking. The Aging Well Center in Clearwater at the new Long Center had asked us to present several classes as part of its education program. We agreed to do this, and were putting the pieces into place when I made that announcement. Over the summer the classes kicked off.

So far we have conducted two classes with two more scheduled. In all probability we will be conducting more classes into the fall and winter. This is a great opportunity for both the Center and the PGS. There is also an opportunity here for our PGS members. Anyone can go to the classes at the aging well center. The classes are free, but you should call to register. The registration is requested so that the center can ensure it provides enough seating for attendees, but if your decision to attend is a last-minute one, you can register at the door.

If there is a class that you may have missed at the Largo public library, it may well be on the schedule for presentation at the Aging Well Center. If you live in the north part of the county, the Center may be more conveniently located for you then is the Largo public library. At any rate, the classes at the Center provide an additional venue for PGS classes and a wonderful opportunity for the PGS to become known to the public.

The class on 28 August at 10 am is about strategies to us to track your ancestors through the census.

The Aging Well Center is located at the Long Center in Clearwater at 1501 N. Belcher Road. To get information on classes offered, call (727)724-3070 or visit

Monday, August 23, 2010

Roots Magic User's Group To Meet On 28 August

The RMUG will meeting on Saturday, 28 August at the Largo Public Library in the Local History Room. The group took a couple months off during the summer, and this is the first meeting of the new season.

If you use the Roots Magic genealogy program or want to see what it is all about before you make a purchase decision, drop by and join in.

The session is largely unstructured, and follows the interests and questions of the attendees.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Genealogy Center Reorganization Underway

Those of you been at the Largo public library lately have seen that the reorganization of the genealogy center that I talked about a couple months ago is well underway.

>Old cabinets have been moved and remaining cabinets have been consolidated. This has created room for new shelving thus allowing us to spread the collection out to provide needed room for books. We had several linear feet of new books that we could just not put on the shelves because of lack of room. We now have that room.

>The computers had been reconfigured so that the screens are more easily seen by the volunteer on duty. This make it easier for that person to see if somebody is in need of assistance.

>The walled office area has been removed (also making room for those new shelves), and the volunteer desk area is being made into a complete square with room to assist patrons as well as to do administrative work in supportive of the collection.

>Some of the new shelves that had been put up are specifically designed to hold magazines. This allows us to display journals in an appropriate manner... something we haven't been able to do for almost a year.

Those are just some of the major changes that you will notice when you next come to the genealogy center. There is still work being done, so expect a bit of mess in some areas, but that should go away in the (near) future.

Periodically, we are conducting tours of the center, so if you have not been to the center lately and would like to quickly become reoriented, join a tour. The tours will be listed in the class schedule. If there is no tour and you happen to be at the center and would like one, just ask the person at the desk. If I'm around, flag me down and I'll be happy to show the place off.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Family History Writer's Workshop To Meet On 24 August

The Family History Writers Workshop has a meeting scheduled every fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 PM. The meetings are conducted in the Local History Room of the Largo Public Library, and the next meeting is 24 August.

Whether you are an experienced writer or a newbie, this is a fun and exciting group to be a part of. The focus is on doing actual writing in the meetings as well as on your own at home. You don't have to have a major book in mind to find value in this session. Many attendees, myself included, focus simply on writing short pieces that capture their own family memories, or relate pieces of information they have found during their ancestral research.

If you've been thinking of doing some writing about your family, drop in on Tuesday evening to see how this group can support your efforts.

I Need Feedback on Quizes

Okay, I admit it. I've been on vacation and so there haven't been many posts to this blog lately. But now I'm back, and you should see regular entries once again.

I also have to admit that I "cheated" a bit over the summer while I was gone. I composed a series of quizzes and answers, and prepositioned them for posting through June and July. I'd like some feedback from you on if you enjoyed those entries. If you did, I will do that periodically as a matter of course. But I need to know from you. So if you read those over the summer and enjoyed them (or not), leave a comment to this post to let me know. I will proceed in the future based on the feedback I read.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records

Those of you who have been to any of my classes called "Internet Explorations" know I am a big fan of Joe Beine. Joe has several sites that he keeps updated that are great aids to genealogists. One of them is titled "Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records."

The home page of the site is merely a listing of hot links to each of the fifty states as well as to selected big cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Click on any link and you will be taken to another page the lists scads (yes, scads) of links leading to death indexes and records for that state or city. Some of the links are for pay sites, of course, but Joe warns you about them before to commit to a mouse click. Many of the sites listed have a little written about them so you can make an "informed click."

The best part about the site is that Joe is conscientious about keeping it updated. In fact, I belong to a service Joe provides where he sends me an email listing the updates to the list when he makes them.

You can check out Joe's work at:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Common Sense and Genealogy

Sharon Tate Moody, in a recent edition of, published a good article on the application of common sense to genealogy research.

It's an informative article on its face, but even more so when you realize that she is also urging us to take a step back from our research and take a total life view of the ancestor under investigation. Look at birth date, death date, date of children's births, date of marriage, major events in the world and the age of the ancestor when they occurred, etc. This "macro-view" can help set the stage for applying the common sense she talks about. For example did the ancestor die three years before the birth of his child? Was he only three years old when we got married? A little common sense will identify inconsistencies like these.

You can read Sharon's article at?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Answer to Quiz 7/22/10

Here is the answer to the question I posted a few day earlier. Go back to the post on 7/22/10 to refresh your memory on the question.

1. By documenting death dates, you can follow up with focused searching in obituaries, mortuary records, cemeteries, and probate records.
2. It is useful for tracing and documenting genetic symptoms and diseases.
3. It may be the only record of death for some individuals.
4. It may be the only record of the existence for children who have no tombstone.

There are more values, of course, and you can hear about them at a new class the PGS is developing on the non-population schedules (mortality, agricultural, manufacturing, etc). Keep checking the class list at our website to see when it is scheduled in the fall and/or spring.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stretch Your Mind (7/22/10)

This question deals with a non-population schedule of our census: the mortality schedule. Dick Eastman had a good article on this topic which I mentioned in a post on 7/11/10. Go back and check it out if you missed it.

Here’s the question: Can you list at least four reasons the information on US Census Mortality Schedules is of value to genealogists?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Writer's Workshop Meets 27 July

The next meeting of the Family History Writer's Workshop is on Tuesday, 27 July at 6 pm at the Largo Public Library).

Any of you who have thought about formalizing your thoughts, memories, and research findings into a memoir, journal, book, or just the back of an envelope should consider attending this event. The workshop gives you a supportive environment in which to nurture your writing.

There is no attempt to make anyone a professional writer. This is simply a group of people with the common objective of wanting to capture parts of their family history in writing. Whether you are writing for publication, your family, or just yourself, participating will be of benefit.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lee County Genealogy Society DAR Workshop

It's a far piece for most of us Largo residents to go, but perhaps some of our readers closer to Lee County will find the attractive. This notice comes from Carol Rooksby Weidlich, president of the Lee County Genealogy Society:

I’m happy to announce the Lee County Genealogical Society is partnering with the Estero Island Chapter NSDAR in presenting Debbie Duay, Ph.D., Lineage Research Chairman for the Florida State Society DAR in a FREE genealogy workshop titled “Researching Your Revolutionary War Patriot Ancestor”. Please see the attached flyer for more information.

The workshop will be held on Saturday, October 23, 2010 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Lakes Regional Public Library in Fort Myers, FL.

Pre-registration is required. To register contact Marlene Long at

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Attention Genealogists from Illinois

The journals of the Illinois State Historical Society are digitized and available on line. That presently includes all issues from 1950 through 2006.

The collection is not really are just able to browse each issue. When you finally get down to an article of interest to you, it downloads as a pdf file.

As one reviewer said: there is genealogical gold here!

You can browse the collection at:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why we Should Guard Against "The Obvious"

This reminder comes from Genealogy Tip of the Day at by Michael John Neill.

"Just remember that what is obvious to you might not be obvious to everyone else. And that what is "obvious" to you might not even be true!"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tip on the (non-use) of Abbreviations

This tip comes from Genealogy Tip of the Day at by Michael John Neill.

"Abbreviations should be used in your records and transcriptions very very rarely. Will anyone else know what they mean? Will you remember them in five or ten years?"

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mortality Schedules in the Census

In addition to the population schedule (the one we usually look at when we research census records on or there were several years where other schedules were produced. These include schedules for manufacturing, agriculture, and mortality.

Dick Eastman revently wrote an extensive article on the mortality schedule and published it in his online newsletter. In addition to the good information he gives us, there were an extensive number of comments that readers added to the article that were also informative.

The PGS is developing a class on the non-population census schedules....mortality schedules included. Keep your eye our for it on our class list in the fall or spring. You can find the class list at our website ( The class, as all our classes, is free, open to the public, and taught at the Largo Public Library.

You can read Dick's great article at:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

LONDON Family Reunion

We recently received this notice from a London descendant and thought we would pass it along:

LONDON Family Reunion , Sat. August 14 in O'Brien, FL. If you are a descendant of John London of Burlington County , NJ , who died in 1778, or, especially if you are a descendant of his great grandson, Edward C. London, of Jefferson County , PA , 1818-1870 you are invited.

Please contact J. London at or 850-763-8258 for more information, or to simply make contact with some of your cousins.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Answer to Quiz 7/6/10

Check the Blog post of a few days ago to see the question that merits this answer.

This can be a tricky question. The key, of course, is the modifier "major." Any document produced that hinders naturalization will be considered "major" in the eyes of the person involved...that includes denials, continuances, etc.

But for the most part we hear about two major steps that have associated documents: the declaration (also called first papers) and the petition (also called second papers). So there you have it: the answer is "two."

But wait, what about the oath that the person signs after the petition is accepted? And what about the certificate...the one that some many people proudly display on walls and in scrapbooks? OK, so the answer might be "three"....or "four."

But there's more! At one point the government required arrival certificates. These were generated by the government, but the consequences of not having one to support the petition could be great. So the answer might be "five."

All right I admit, the question was probably too poorly worded to come up with a specific answer. But it does show the naturalization process to be a bit more complex than we may have originally thought.

Keep you eyes open. In the near future the PGS will be offering a class on the naturalization process and the very documents that I mentioned here (where were they used, what's in them, where do you find them, etc). The classes, as are all of the ones we offer, are free, open to the public, and taught at the Largo Public Library.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stretch Your Mind (7/6/10)

Here's another question for you. The answer will be posted in a few days, so keep checking the Blog.

How many major documents were normally generated during the U. S. naturalization process?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Anwser to Quiz on 7/1/10

Here is the answer to the quiz posted on 7/1/10. Go back and review it before reading the answer.

I was researching the 1890 Veteran’s Schedule (also called the Veteran’s and Widow’s Schedule).

Since the 1890 census was all but completely destroyed in a fire in January 1921 at the Commerce Building in Washington D.C., this 1890 Veteran's schedule is an alternative means of documenting veterans or widows of veterans from the Civil War and War of 1812 who were still living in 1890. The special census schedule still exists only for the states of Kentucky - Wyoming (the states alphabetically before "Kentucky" appear to have been destroyed). Officially this census documents only Union veterans. Some census takers apparently did not distinguish between Union and Confederate, however, so some surprising finds are possible.