Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Who Do You THink You Are?"

>>>>>>5 MARCH, 8 pm, NBC (Ch 8)<<<<<<<<<

Follow the heartwarming journeys of Sarah Jessica Parker, Emmitt Smith, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Broderick, Brooke Shields, Susan Sarandon and Spike Lee as they embark on a journey to discover the story of their ancestors. From Salem witches to French royalty to former slaves, the stories they uncover hold fascinating twists and turns that are at times touching, at times heart wrenching and always revelatory.

Are you interested in embarking on a similar journey to find out “who you are”? The Pinellas Genealogy Society can assist you. It offers an extensive series of classes open to the public that can take you from genealogy beginner to experienced researcher. It offers guest speakers at monthly meetings (also open to the public) that talk about a wide variety of genealogy topics. It also provides personal help at the Genealogy Center of the Largo Public Library, which houses the largest and most complete genealogy collection in the county and one of the best in this part of the state.

Visit the PGS website for a complete calendar of events and other information about programs, projects, and advantages of membership:

Stop by the Genealogy Center at the Largo Public Library to see what it offers, and to pick up numerous handouts to get you started or to augment your current research.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Another Take on the Census

Jule Miller, writing for the Broomfield Enterprise, has produced an interesting piece on the census. The census is discussed in an historical context, but then moves into the modern day with the 2010 census.

The author talks about the 10-question census form and the impact that will have for future generations trying to use the forms in 2082 to find things about us. It is an entertaining article, but also one that, as researchers, causes us to ponder the impact of today's privacy issues.

You can find the article at

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Law Student's Impression of Genealogy

A Blog entry by Elizabeth Zamora in "HLS in Focus: The Official JD Admissions Blog at the Harvard Law School" shows a law student's impressions of a presentation on genealogy research.

There is probably not much in the article that genealogy researchers with a bit of experience don't already know, but what is interesting is what emerges when looking at our hobby through a legal lens. Elizabeth is struck by how far reaching our legal system is. "Not only does the law have a great deal of influence on how we live our lives from day to day, but it also influences the way that our descendants will be able to find information about us years from now and the kind of picture that these documents will paint for them."

You can read the entire article at

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Census Tools Spreadsheets

One of the classes that the GPS conducts deals with the use of spreadsheets in genealogy research. A website called CensusTools is mentioned in that class as a source of spreadsheets already constructed that are helpful in dealing with census data.

Dick Eastman, in his online newsletter, recently featured the same website. Dick's write-up is extensive and gives a good overview of the tools that Gary Minder has assembled. Actually, the spreadsheets cover more than just census data. Gary now has 40 spreadsheets for census, cemetery and passenger manifest data; and all of the downloads are free.

You can read Dick's article at
You can visit Gary's site at

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

PGS 2010 Seminar Revisited

The 2010 PGS Seminar was held on 13 February and was a success. After some scrambling because Dick Eastman, the featured speaker could not make it due to bad weather, the event went without a hitch. Two plenary sessions and three break-out sessions were featured along with raffles, book sales, guest organizations and more. Here are a few pictures of the event.

In the top picture, Bob Gorges accepts the Unsung Researcher Award for Karen Keegan.

In the bottom picture, Peter Summers gives an award to Joan Baker, first place winner of the PGS annual writing

Monday, February 22, 2010

Manasota Genealogical Society Features Thomas Kemp on 2 March

The next meeting of the Manasota Genealogical Society will be held on Tuesday, March 2, 2010 from 9:30 am-12:00 noon at the Central Public Library. The guest speaker will be Thomas J. Kemp, M.L.S., Director of Genealogy Products at His talk is entitled: 21st Century Online Resources for Genealogists.

Following the guest speaker, a Computer Special Interest Group will meet and is open to all who are interested in learning what's new in genealogy on the Internet.

For more information, please call Jean Morris at (941) 722-5156 or visit the web at:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Godfrey Scholar Sign-Up a Success

The PGS had enough members at the monthly meeting yesterday who were interested in the Godfrey Scholar program that we got enough subscriptions for a 20% discount off the listed annual price. Here is the text of an email from Alice Charest (who is organizing this effort) for those members who may want to participate:

We have enough people signing up to give the $9.00 discount (20% of the $45 red).

The price is:
Red 1 yr. = $36 2 yr. = $72
Blue 1 yr. $71 2 yr. - $144
Green 1 yr = $86 2 yr. $172
Gold 1 yr. = 116 2 yr $ 232

Those who gave me a credit card number are all set. Those who gave a check without price, please note the price above to put in your checkbook. Those who haven't paid can pay me at the Gen. Dept on Wed. morning. I will sent all of the applications and money to Godfrey Memorial Library and they will send you a subscription number for you to use to access the database.

Thank you all for your interest
Alice R. Charest

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Website for "Who Do You Think You Are"

Those of you who are excited about the buzz you have heard on the new TV show titled "Who Do You Think You Are" will be happy at this news. The show now has its own website available.

The show debuts on 5 March on NBC 8 pm, Eastern Time. The website gives a good overview of the premise of the show and of the celebrities whose genealogy will be explored.

You can find it at:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dealing with Family Lore

We have all faced the intrigue and the challenge of family lore...those stories that get handed down from generation to generation. They may be true or they may not be, of course.

Katrina McQuarrie in her Blog titled Kick-Ass Genealogy has a post that speaks to the process of dealing with those family tales. It leads us through three step: preliminary considerations, research, and the aftermath.

It is a well-written article with some valuable guidance. Besides, don't you just love the name.

Check it out at:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Genealogy Gems Podcast

Louise Cooke has a genealogy podcast that contains hint, tips, and genealogy news. If you frequently listen to the podcast by the Genealogy Guys, you may find Louise's podcast a helpful addition.

You can connect to the podcast at Her GenealogyGems website homepage is at The home page gives you a good explanation of what podcasting is all about and also gives you instructions on how to use them.

Here's how I use podcasts: You can listen to them directly from the originating website, but I choose to download them to my computer (where I can listen if I choose) and then further download them to my cell phone. Whenever I am standing in line for a while or going for a walk, I simply listen to the podcast. Not all cell phones will allow you to do that, of course, but if you have an mp3 player, you can do the same thing.

Godfrey Scholar Discouts for PGS Members

We want to let you know about a new benefit of membership in the PGS. Our members can realize a discount on the subscription fees for access to the Godfrey Memorial Library databases online known as the Godfrey Scholar Program.

The normal annual subscription rates are:
>Red Subscription ($45): Includes Premium Databases (Ex: 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, Early American Newspapers, Accessible Archives 19th Century Newspapers, London Times Digital Archives, American National Biography, OCLC World Cat). Plus unique resources comprised of Godfrey's own digitized in-house content, donated genealogical books, research materials and projects (Most cannot be found anywhere else on the web). Plus the Godfrey Collection (4,000 genealogies, biographies, memoirs and funeral sermons). Plus Godfrey Search (A search engine for a variety of indexed published materials).
>Blue Subscription ($80): Includes all the Basic Content plus
>Green Subscription ($95): Includes all the Basic Content plus World Vital Records U.S. Collection.
>Gold Subscription ($125): Includes all the Basic Content plus and World Vital Records U.S. Collection.

If the PGS has from 10-19 subscribers, you get a reduction of $4.50 off the list prices, and if we have 20 or more, the reduction is $9.

At the annual meeting on 20 February, Alice Charest, PGS member and Godfrey representative, will give a short explanation of the Godfrey resources, answer questions, and sign up those who wish to accept this offer, assuming that the above minimum number of subscribers has been met.

If you are interested and will be attending the meeting, there will be an opportunity to contact Alice there.

If you are interested and will not be attending the meeting, let Alice know with an email note (please type “Godfrey interest” in the subject line of your note). Alice’s email address is:

Send Alice a note only if you are truly interested. Once we see how many want to subscribe we can determine the size of the discount and you will be contacted with information on how to proceed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Michigan Research

If you have roots in Michigan, this site may be of value to you. It allows you to search for photographs, maps, spoken histories, and documents, and you can narrow your search by specifying the type of media. The collection shows the actual digitized documents and includes some death and birth certificates among others.

The site also has an impressive collection of Civil War manuscripts that apply to Michigan soldiers.

Check it out at:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dick Eastman Stranded in the Northeast

You may have seen Dick’s newsletter announcement that he was snow-bound at home and could not appear at our seminar on 12 February. Do not despair…the seminar in on!

We have been in constant contact with Dick as the weather picture developed and held out hope until as late as last night that he could get here. But at the same time, we were developing an alternative plan for the seminar. That event is just too big and multi-faceted to consider canceling.

So we have a full array of speakers offering a variety of technical and traditional topics in genealogy research and data management. In fact, we are offering more presentation choices now than we were before. And don’t forget the other great venues we are offering: book sale, guest organizations, publications sales, CD-ROM classes, door prizes, raffles, and continental breakfast. Some of the prizes at stake include two annual international subscriptions to and a copy of Family Tree Maker 2010…those alone have a value of about $650.

So if you are registered, come enjoy the seminar and we will fondly think of Dick, cold and snowy, up north.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

300 Genealogy Sources some time ago published a list of 300 "top" genealogy sources. The list is not a series of hotlinks to websites, it is a list of source categories (such as birth certificates, adoption papers, etc.).

The value of the list, whether you are an experienced researcher or not, is that you may see a source that has escaped your attention, or perhaps in one you have simply forgotten about.

You can peruse the list at:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Genealogy Help From the Government

A short while ago on this Blog (see the 31 January post) I talked a bit about genealogy assistance we can get from the US Immigration Service.

The website has an article dealing with this same topic. However, rather than telling the specifics of how to get the service, it recounts a woman's experiences in using the service to get information on her grandfather. This first-hand account makes good reading, and it gives a sense of what can be accomplished using the service.

You can find the story at:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Digital Library at North Carolina State Library

Those of you who have roots in North Carolina may be interested in this link...and even if you don't have roots there, the history recounted is fascinating.

The State Library of North Carolina has an impressive collection of digitized books and documents available on line. The topics include the influenza outbreak of 1918, various state publications, many family histories, and much more.

You can browse the collections or search them for key terms. Check it out at:

Monday, February 8, 2010

African-American Research Portal at the Allen County Library

The following is reprinted from Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter:

"For quite a number of years, February has been recognized as Black History Month. It is a great time to recognize the abundance of resources available for African American family history research. It is also a good time for all to recall again and appreciate anew the importance of researching ancestors in an ethnic context. Ethnicity was a determining factor in where your ancestors settled, and may have influenced what schools their children attended, what churches they attended, and what newspapers announced their births, weddings, burials, and social activities. I often refer to the ethnicity of ones ancestors as a research "fingerprint" that can guide us to clues and sources. Engaging in African American genealogical research can be particularly challenging. Millions of African Americans can trace their ancestry back to slavery, increasing the importance of exploring property records as well as researching the European-American families associated with the slave families. In recent times, these challenges have been met with a dramatically increasing number of resources.

"A good way to get a handle on the many online resources as well as many thousands of print resources is to engage the African American Gateway compiled by the staff of the Genealogy Center of the Allen County Library. You can select a state, region, or country of interest as well as a number of subject categories. Upon selection, one is presented with two links--one to online resources and one to a bibliography of books, periodical titles, and microfilmed records from the Genealogy Center's vast collection of African American materials."

You can access the portal at:

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Probate Records at the Family History Library

At one time or another we have all considered the desirability of getting our hands on a copy of an ancestor's will or the appropriate probate records. The place to look for them is in the probate or surrogate court of the county in which your ancestor died. That prospect has always seemed a bit daunting, hasn't it? Well, that search may be easier to do than you might think.

Many of those records have been microfilmed by the LDS church and can be borrowed through the local Family History Center.

On the site, navigate to the "Library" tab and then select "Library Catalog" from the drop down menu. Click on "Keyword Search" and in the search box enter the name of your county of interest and the word "probate." You might also try the search with "will" replacing "probate...or another word that communicates the same idea.

If the results show that the LDS has indeed microfilmed the records you are interested in, you can easily visit the local Family History Center to order the film. First you would order the index, and then the correct film. Probate collections can span scores of microfilm reels, so you almost always have to follow this two-step process.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"Chronicling America" Increased Online Newspaper Collection

The "Chronicling America" site (part of The Library of Congress) has added to its historic online newspaper collection. This site allows you to search and view newspaper pages from 1880-1922 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.

You can view selected newspapers from the states of Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Search capability is available also.

You can get to the site at:

Friday, February 5, 2010

New Genealogy Query Website

Dick Eastman has launched a site for genealogical queries. Using a very simple interface, this is an online database that currently contains over 500 queries. You can search for any term in all of the queries, but they are also organized by surname and by location.

Perhaps most telling about the site is what it says it is most proud of: No fees! No spam! No invasion of your privacy! No account required!

Check it out at

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"American Genealogist" Bibliographies of Published American Genealogies

Here is a hidden treasure I recently came across on the Internet. It is the full text version of a 1900 publication by the American Genealogist. It is a bibliography of family histories published in America from 1771 to "present" (presumably 1900).

The entries are arranged alphabetically by surname so it is easy to find if a surname of interest to you is included. Each entry provides publication information to include number of pages as well as other interesting information that varies by the particular item being described.

The full title of the work is A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF AMERICAN GENEALOGY OR A LIST OF THE TITLE PAGES OF BOOKS AND PAMPHLETS ON FAMILY HISTORY, PUBLISHED IN AMERICA, FROM 1771 TO DATE. This is the fifth edition (earlier ones having been published in 1862, 1868, 1875, and 1897.)

The online text includes an introduction that explains the content. Check it out at

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More On "Cloud" Computing

Dick Eastman revisited "cloud computing," one of his favorite subjects, in a recent edition of his popular online newsletter. I know through discussion with many of you that you are leery of this concept, but everything points to it being the direction that personal computing is headed.

One of Dick's topics as featured speaker at the GPS 2010 seminar (13 February) is "Where is Genealogy Software Headed." If you read the comments he makes in his newsletter, you may be getting a preview of some of his comments that will be heard at the seminar.

You can see the newsletter article at

If you want more information about the annual seminar coming up, go to the PGS website at or search for "seminar" on this blog.

Genealogy Help Avaliable at the Largo Public Library

Most of you are already familiar with the personal genealogy assistance you can get at the Genealogy Center at the Largo Public Library. But we have had a number of new members join the PGS recently who may not be familiar with the service, so I want to take some space to describe it here.

Volunteers, called genealogy consultants, are available at the Genealogy Center generally from about 9:30 am to 3:00 pm Monday through Friday, and from 6:00 to 8:00 pm Monday through Wednesday. Some volunteers are there on Saturday also, but not as consistently. It is a good idea to give a call before you make the trip to ensure help is available.

Consultants will be able to assist you in using the computers to get access to (free if you use it from the library) as well as other library databases, using the new micro-form readers, finding print or microform resources, etc. They can even help you do the actual research if you get stuck.

This service is a very important part of our volunteer program, and those that participate in it are excited about providing assistance where they can.

If you have not spent any time at the Genealogy Center, be sure and drop by to check out the largest genealogy collection in the county, and one of the best in the whole region. And if you are just getting started or otherwise need assistance, avail yourself of the consultants waiting to help you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Being A Good Ancestor

Tina Lyons in her blog, Gen Wish List, addresses a topic that I have often heard discussed in passing that boils down to our "responsibility" to be a good ancestor. Have we recorded and sourced information about ourselves? Or have we been so wrapped up in researching others that we have neglected to do so.

You can read Tina's thought provoking article at

Monday, February 1, 2010

On-line collection of the Historical Society of the Pennsylvania

Those of you with Pennsylvania ancestors may find something of interest in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania website. It offers many on-line images from its collection as well as informative articles, and more are being added...especially in anticipation of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War in 2011.

A casual review of the site shows that most of its offerings are personal papers rather than reams of vital statistics. But those papers can reveal many hidden treasures.

Check out the collection at