Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top 100 Most Popular Genealogy Websites - 2012

Genealogy In Time Magazine gives us an article about the 100 most popular genealogy websites that is a great read.

The article explains the methodology used to come up with the list, and then gives you the following information on each site: rank, website name, category, country, free or pay, Alexa traffic rank, website address.

The article concludes with several insights gained from the survey. For instance, genealogy forums are the second most popular category; three genealogy society websites made the list; and more than half of the top 100 are free.

If nothing else, this is a good article to read just to be sure there is not a website out there that you are not aware of, but which can help with your research.

Check it out at:
Top 100 Most Popular Genealogy Websites

Friday, December 28, 2012

Why Join A Genealogy Society

An article recently appeared in the blog Finding Our Ancestors by Terri that is worth a look. It has to do with why belonging to a genealogy society is a good idea.

There is much talk in the blog world about the usefulness of genealogy societies in this age of instant, mass, and omnipresent communication; and online data access. This article puts the issue into perspective.

Give it a look at:

10 Reasons to Join a Genealogy Society | Finding Our Ancestors

Saturday, December 22, 2012

“Must See” Site for African American Research

The website titled Lowcountry Africana is a necessary stop if you are doing African American research. The site deals with African American genealogy and history in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

You can find videos, online books, tips on getting started in your research, and more. You will even find a listing of South Carolina slaveholders. When you expand one of the listed names, you are taken to a relevant article giving slave information or information about the slave owner’s genealogy.

Check it out at:

Low Country Africana

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Complicated Hunt for Obituaries

James Tanner in his blog Genealogy’s Star gives us some personal examples from his own genealogy of the “illogical” place and time that peoples’ obituaries can appear. Sometimes they can be published well after a death, and sometimes they will appear in newspapers well-removed from the actual place of death.

James’ article alerts us to those possibilities and offers some search considerations. Read his article at Genealogy's Star: I read it in the newspaper

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Transitory Nature of Memories

Sharon Tate Moody, writing for Tampa Bay Online, gives us an article that will appeal to those of you with a scientific bent.

She brings together some of the tenets of genealogical research and findings of scientific studies that speak to the effect of the passage of time on the accuracy of memories.

The article is a good read and can be found at:

Memories fade faster than you think |

Sunday, December 16, 2012

School Yearbooks: A Source To Be Remembered has added to its growing collection of school yearbooks. This collection is well-worth checking out because you never can tell what schools have contributed to the collection: the size of the community or the school does not dictate what institutions are represented.

This from Ancestry: "While yearbooks may not provide information about the vital events that are usually associated with genealogical research, they do provide other information about individuals' lives. This information helps place people in historical context as well as provides detail that helps turn individuals, sometimes only known by names and dates, into actual people."

To find the collection, search the catalog with the key word "school." With recent new additions, the collection has over 200 million records.

Ancestry is a subscription service, but you can get to it for free from your public library.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lots of Tips

The Genealogy In Time Magazine has consolidated some of its “tips of the week” into one idea-packed article. It covers topics from census to photographs to family Bibles.

Check it out at:

Genealogy Tip of the Week

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Register for the 2013 PGS Seminar

Time is counting down to register for the 2013 PGS seminar on 9 February. Here's the low-down on pricing:

Members can register for $40 and non-members for $45. But this only applies until 2 February. After that, all pay an at-the-door price of $50.

Registering early includes lunch, while the late registration does not.

So there is ample incentive to register early. You can find a registration form in our brochure available at the Genealogy Center of the Largo Public Library, and you can also find one (along with lots of seminar information) at the PGS website:

You can also find more information about the seminar in previous blog posts for the following dates: 30 October, 10 November, and 20 November.

Monday, December 10, 2012

An Approach to English Genealogy

The online Genealogy In Time Magazine recently featured the first of a multi-part guide to English genealogy. It is very detailed and well worth the read.

The article takes a chronological approach to the subject; that is, it first examines the types of records that exist in a given time period, and then goes into how one would find those records.

You can find Part I of the article at:
A Date Guide to English Genealogy (Part 1)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Naturalization Records

Becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States was a huge event in the lives of our ancestors. Naturalization certificates were prized possessions. They were often proudly displayed in frames hung on parlor walls. If you are lucky, you have one of those certificates in your possession that was granted to one of your immigrant ancestors. You would be fortunate not only because it has survived in your family through the years, but because it is the product of a “minority event;” that is, most immigrants did not become naturalized citizens.
If you know that your ancestor became a naturalized citizen, whether you have the naturalization certificate or not, there is considerable documentation you can get surrounding that event. The certificate itself is the end point of a process that took several years and several pieces of paper. The laws governing the process changed over the years, but in general the process consisted of three steps and four major documents.
The first step in becoming a naturalized citizen was to file a Declaration of Intention to become a citizen. This declaration was also referred to as “first papers.” The purpose was to formally renounce any allegiance to a foreign power and to declare an intention to become a citizen. This was normally completed soon after arrival in the US.
The next step was to file a Petition for Citizenship—called “second papers.” A person normally had to wait five years after previously filing the declaration before the petition could be entered. Seven years was the outside limit. After that amount of time, if no petition had been filed, the process would have to start all over again. The purposes of the petition were to confirm that the naturalization requirements had been satisfied and to request the granting of citizenship.
The next step was the signing of an Oath of Allegiance, which again renounced any allegiance to a foreign power in favor of allegiance to the United States. That was followed by the presentation of the Certificate of Naturalization.
Another document entered this process after June 1906: it was the Certificate of Arrival. After the second papers were submitted (on which the applicant stated the immigration date, port, and ship arrived on,) a verification clerk at the port of entry would locate the manifest, confirm the information, and complete the certificate of arrival. That would be sent back to the naturalization court. This step was added to the process to help prevent naturalization fraud: prevent ineligible aliens from becoming citizens and preventing more than one person from claiming the same arrival record as a basis for naturalization.
The courts played the major role in the naturalization process. Each of the submissions had to be done at a court of record. It was the court where the oath was signed, and it was the court that granted the final certificate. Not surprisingly then, any search for documentation should start at the appropriate court. Unfortunately there may be many courts involved since the process usually started under the jurisdiction of one court, and finished under the jurisdiction of another because of the movement of the applicant. The best bet is to find the court that issued the certificate, since it will have all of the earlier papers as part of its record.
The documents created during the naturalization process contain a wealth of genealogically significant information. You can discover name changes, wife’s family name, date and place of birth, occupation, immigration date and port, and names and ages of children to name just of few of the significant pieces of information. Of course, some of the documents are more information rich than others: first and second papers contain more relevant information than does the oath, for instance.
The documents also change in character over time. Early documents are mostly hand-written, contain less information than later versions, and vary from court to court. After 1906 there is more standardization through the use of pre-printed forms, and more information is called for from the applicant.  
Increasingly, naturalization records are being found on line, but that is surely the exception rather than the rule at this point (you can find some at and Another place to go for help in your search is the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Their website is You will not find online images at that site, but for a fee the USCIS will find the documents for you.
The Pinellas Genealogy Society offers a class on finding  and using naturalization records. Check the class calendar page at its website for more information at

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Germanic Genealogical Society Seminar To Be Held 26 January 2013

This comes from the Southwest Florida Germanic Genealogical Society:
The Southwest Florida Germanic Genealogical Society, Inc. is proud to announce its 2013 German Seminar, "Your Elusive Immigrant Ancestor" on Saturday, January 26, 2013.
It will be held at San Antonio Catholic Church, 24445 Rampart Blvd., Port Charlotte, Florida with Warren Bittner, Board Certified Genealogist, Independent Genealogical Researcher and Lecturer.
Mr. Bittner, holds an M.S. in History and works full-time in genealogical research, lecturing, consulting, and writing. He was assistant director of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in 2010. He is the former German Collection Manager for the Family History Library in Salt Lake where he planned microfilming, indexing, and internet publications. Mr. Bittner brings twenty years of in-depth European and American archival research experience to each of the day’s lectures shown below:
Reasonably Exhaustive Search to Find an Impossible Immigrant – See how the principle of “Reasonably Exhaustive Research” is used to find a “brick wall”immigrant family despite repeated dead ends and misleading clues.
German Historical Maps & Territories – Learn about the historical boundary changes in Germany and how to find records for the various regions.
German Marriage Laws and Customs – Learn how German marriage laws changed 1500-1900, about tight marriage restrictions and customs.
Beat the Children With a Fresh Birch Stick so the Animals Don’t Get Worms - Reading for Historical context - How to find books to read about your ancestors to understand their own world on their own terms.
Registration begins at 8:15 a.m. with the Seminar starting at 9:15 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required - No Walk-ins. Pre-registration by January 19, 2013, includes a home-prepared German meal.
SWFLGG members pay $30.00 for their registration and non SWFLGG members pay $35.00.
Additional information and a registration form can be downloaded from our website

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Search Tip for FindAGrave

Michael John Neill in his Search Tip of the Day offers a “trick” in searching the Find A Grave website…he uses Google!

Check out that time and more ate Search Tip of the Day--Almost Every Day: Lazy Trick for FindAGrave

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The "Why" of Genealogy by Thomas MacEntee

Thomas MacEntee, Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador, is a genealogy professional specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogy research and as a way to connect with others in the family history community. He shares his thoughts on why we search for our ancestors.
As I’ve become more involved in the genealogy community and I’ve built up my own genealogy-related business, I find I am often asked to give interviews. I like being interviewed and I will reply to almost any request for an interview as long as the questions are genealogy-related and it helps bring more people into the family history community.
In addition, after moderating many panels for genealogy conferences and events, plus hosting my own radio show, it is fun to be on the other end of the microphone, as it were, providing my thoughts on genealogy.
The Question: Why Do You Do Genealogy?
Invariably, one question is almost always on the list provided by the interviewer: “Why do you do genealogy?”
My usual response “Well, why not do genealogy?” gets a few laughs, but really doesn’t stress the importance of why I and millions of others are obsessed with tracing their ancestry and heritage. Do you ever get so wrapped up in the “hunt” that you sometimes lose focus as to why you want to know more about your ancestors? Is “doing genealogy” such a large part of your life that the motivational factors sometimes defy description? Do you have trouble putting into words what researching your roots means to you?
I’m Not Crazy, Really. I’m Just Genealogy-Obsessed
Many of my friends not only call me “genealogy obsessed,” but whenever I mention my latest find or how I recently visited a cemetery, they think it is just one more mile post on the road to “Crazy Town.”
They fear that I’ve become the equivalent of an ancestor “hoarder” and that they’ll have to tunnel through 20 years’ worth of genealogical records to find my body one day. When I use terms like “citing sources” or “ahnentafels” to them I may as well be speaking in tongues. The fact that I can draw a four generation tree of my family from memory does not mesmerize them. It only gives them hard evidence in the form of a written document to be used when and if I should be committed.
I don’t think it is really that bad. However, when I attempt to explain the things I do (which seem normal as a genealogist), I get frustrated. It is like trying to explain to someone why you follow a certain spiritual path or a specific faith.
Genealogy Is a Journey of Faith
Could the passion for genealogy actually be similar to one’s own faith, one’s own spiritual compass? In my eyes, faith is something that evolves over time, just as one’s passion/obsession for genealogy also evolves. Both represent a journey often to a destination unknown. Let’s look at the similarities…
·         If we’re lucky, we discover genealogy when we are young, either through an older family relative or at school.
·         Our family members may have stressed the importance of knowing our heritage, of telling family stories and sharing old photos.
·         We may have dabbled with different hobbies in college, but we always came back to genealogy.
·         We attend weekly or monthly gatherings where we meet with other genealogists and discuss what genealogy means to us.
·         Our community has leaders and those who preach about various aspects of genealogy. Some are so popular that we pack classrooms and worship them as idols.
·         We keep the family traditions and place them in context by explaining to others in the family the origins of certain customs and practices.
·         Old documents and records not only feed our obsession, but we often hunger for more and are willing to volunteer our time indexing them and advocating for their unfettered access.
·         You know another genealogist either when you see them or the minute you start talking to them. There is a certain kinship, a certain bonding as you swap surnames and discuss your brick walls.
See, it really isn’t such a far-fetched an idea after all. Genealogy brings meaning to our lives in so many ways that, again, we can’t often explain it, even to our close loved ones. It is a path, a journey and has its own strange practices and routines.
* * *
So how do you put all this in words when attempting to answer that “why” question? It might just be easier to “show” rather than tell. I’ve learned that once I can show a person photos, stories and how my ancestors fit into history, I get to see that arched eyebrow, or that glimmer in the eye. Then I know I’ve started to make sense.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Federal Census Fun

If you want a fun, informative and interactive adventure exploring 220 years of the US Federal Census, go to the following link:

1940 U.S. Census Release | Federal Census Data

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

“Sketchy” Sources Have Their Use Too

Harold Henderson, Writing in Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, gives us an insight to the value of those less-than-credible sources we often run across…you know the type…online family trees, for example.

His point is that they can provide leads, if not proof. Harold ends his piece with a comment that is now on my list of favorite quotes: “Leads document our chase, and later on higher-quality sources document our case…”

Read the full article at:

Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog: Cite Your Low-Rent Sources!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

More Than Just The Obituary

Here is a great tip from Michael John Neill, especially for those of you who like to peruse old newspapers. It has to do with what can appear in print some time after the obituary.

You can find the tip at:

Genealogy Tip of the Day: Not Just an Obituary

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Free Search of UK Burial and Cremation Records

The website Deceased Online is a fee site, but allows a free search. After the search you can decide if you wish to buy credits to get more information.

Deceased Online is the first central database of statutory burial and cremation registers for the UK and Republic of Ireland -- a unique resource for family history researchers and professional genealogists.

Until now, to search these records you had to approach about 3,000 burial authorities and nearly 250 crematoria in the UK alone, each independently holding their own registers, mostly as old fragile books. No official central repository exists.

Deceased Online is changing this.  They are making it possible for burial and cremation authorities around the country to convert their register records, maps and photographs into digital form and bring them together into a central searchable collection.

The growing database, holding records mainly from the 1850s onwards, can provide invaluable information for researching family trees, and can reveal previously unknown family links from other interments recorded in the same grave.

You can access the site at:

Burial records, cremation records, grave maps, genealogy and ancestry at Deceased Online

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Schedule of Events for the 2013 PGS Seminar

Here is the schedule of events for the PGS seminar to be held all day on 9 February 2013:

Speaker: Sharon DeBartolo Carmack
8:00 AM
Registration; continental breakfast
8:40 AM
9:00 AM
Cryptic Clues in the Bone Yard
10:00 AM
10:15 AM
Love Letters, Diaries, and Autobiographies: Lets Leave’em Something to talk About
11:30 AM
12:30 PM
Break Out Speakers
Peter Summers: Topic "The OTHER Census Documents -- Explore census records created beyond the population listing we normally use."
Debbie Hagner: Topic TBD
Debra Fleming: Topic TBD
1:30 PM
1:45 PM
The Silent Woman: Bringing a Name to Life
2:45 PM
3:00 PM
Flesh on the Bones: Putting Your Ancestors into Historical Perspective
4:00 PM

For a bio of Sharon DeBartolo, the featured speaker, see the post for 30 Oct 2012.

You can find pricing and additional informaton at the PGS website. There you will also find a registration form. The website address is

Sunday, November 18, 2012

National Archives Raises Prices

The National Archives recently raised it prices. Probably the increase that affects us the most that concerning the ordering of records.

Use the following link to get to the page that shows the increase for ordering various military records:

Once you are on that page, click on the link for "Military Service and Pension Records."

If the above link does not function, use this longer one:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Check Out the ProGenealogists Website

The ProGenealogists website offers many articles and tools to promote your genealogy research. There is a lot of free stuff if you explore the “Research Tools” tab at the top of the page. Check it out at:

Professional Genealogists in Utah - Worldwide Research | ProGenealogists

(Thanks to Randy Seaver and Genea-Musings for this tip.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Topographical Maps Can Pay Off

William Dollarhide, writing in the Genealogy Blog of Leland Meitzler, gives us a detailed explanation of the use one can make of a topographical map, specifically the 7.5 map series of the US Geological Survey.

His article explains the maps well, and gives many examples of how they can be used to further genealogical research.

The Pinellas Genealogy Society has two classes that explain the uses of several different types of maps, as well as give suggestions about where to find them. “Topo” maps are one of those included in the discussion.

If Dollarhide’s article sparks your interest at all, check out the PGS class list (on the society website to be sure you don’t miss the next time one of those classes is scheduled.

You can find the article at the following address:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Question Everything…Even Birth Certificates

Sharon Tate Moody gives us some things to consider in our research, even when that research involves birth certificates—records we tend to take at face value.

Sharon, writing in Tampa Bay Online (, gives us several examples of where the information on birth certificates can be misleading, or flat wrong. She points out that the only primary evidence on a birth certificate is that concerning the live birth of the child…nothing else.

Check out the article at:

Take time to check out birth records |

Saturday, November 10, 2012

PGS Annual Seminar To Be Held 9 February 2013

The Largo Public Library cosponsors the Pinellas Genealogy Society annual seminar. In addition to the featured speaker, Sharon DeBartolo Carmack (see 30 Oct post for her bio), there will be other activities for attendees:

The annual book sale will be in the rear of the conference room.  The tables will be open before the seminar and during break periods.

A representative of the society and membership information will be available at a table in the lobby.

Lunch will be provided as part of your advance registration.

Great door prizes and raffles will be offered throughout the day.

If you are in need of a place to stay overnight during the seminar, the Hampton Inn offers a discount.  For details, see page or our special events page.

   For pricing, registration form, and additional information, see the PGS webpage at . You can also drop by the Genealogy Center at the Largo Public Library and pick up a seminar brochure.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Congratulations to Sharon Tate Moody

Eight years ago this month, Sharon's column, "Heritage Hunting" appeared for the first time in The Tampa Tribune. I have enjoyed her articles immensely, and have often referred to  them in this blog for your enjoyment and education as well.

Keep up the good work, Sharon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

FamilySearch Add Texas Death Records

The FamilySearch website has recently added new images of Texas death records for the period 1890-1976. The records are also indexed.

These are state-wide records and include delayed certificates, foreign deaths, and probate obituaries. There are almost nine million images in the collection. You can search the collection by using the following link:

Search Results— — Free Family History and Genealogy Records

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Way to Uncover Family Stories

Sharon Tate Moody in one of her articles for Tampa Bay Online gives us a personal experience where she used a family portrait to spark memories of long-ago events in her aunt.

Knowing how to ask relatives questions to help them reveal those long-buried memories is a skill a family historian needs. This article gives some ideas about that and does it in a compelling way.

Read Sharon’s article at   Use props to pry out family stories |

Friday, November 2, 2012

Online Birth and Marriage Records Indexes - Updated

Joe Beine has a number of great indexes of websites dealing with specific topics that he keeps updated. One of those is an index of online Birth and marriage records.

He has recently updated those indexes and posted the changes on his Genealogy Roots Blog. The blog post will give you a link to the indexes themselves.

Genealogy Roots Blog: Online Birth and Marriage Records Indexes - Latest Additions and Updates

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

PGS Annual Seminar Features Sharon DeBartolo Carmack

The 2013 PGS seminar takes place on 9 February 2013 at the Largo Public Library from 8 am to 4 pm and will feature Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. Here is some information on Sharon's background:

She is a certified genealogist, has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction Writing. She is a partner in the research firm of Warren, Carmack & Associates where she specializes in Irish and Italian genealogical research, offers consulting, writing, and editing services for a variety of nonfiction projects, like memoirs, biographies, family histories, social histories, essays, and annotated letters and diaries.

Sharon is the author of sixteen books, and hundreds of articles and columns that have appeared in nearly every major genealogical journal and publication. Combined her books have sold about 115,000 copies. Her work has also appeared in literary journals.

Sharon has, for the past twenty years, extensive and varied editing and mentoring experience including her position as the executive editor of F+W Media’s Family Tree / Betterway Books line, where she acquired and edited more than 40 titles. She is also a contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine and an assistant editor for Brevity.

Sharon teaches nonfiction writing classes for Writer’s Digest University, and genealogical research courses for Family Tree University. She also hosted Roots Books, a talk-show that aired on, which won a Telly Award in 2008.
Along with an MFA with Distinction in Creative Nonfiction Writing from National University, Sharon has a BA in English from Regis University (summa cum laude), and she holds a Diploma in Irish Studies from the National University of Ireland, Galway.
Sharon is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Her awards and honors include APG’s Grahame Thomas Smallwood Jr. Award of Merit (1990); the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ Award of Merit (1992 and 2002); and in 1998, Sharon was made a Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association for her “outstanding contributions to the genealogical community and for the production of articles, books, and lectures that are an exemplary blend of her expertise in history and genealogy.”

For the price of the seminar and a registration form, go to the Pinellas Genealogy Society website at

Monday, October 29, 2012

Scottish Genealogy Web Site

The site Scotland’s People has been around for ten years now and bills itself as one of the largest online sources of original genealogical information. It features Scottish census records, wills, birth and death certificates, and more.

It is a fee site, but you can do a name search on all of their records for free.

Check it out if you have Scottish ancestry. Find it at Genealogy Scottish family birth records census ancestry Scotland uk - ScotlandsPeople

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Attend Family History Assistance Day on 10 November

From 12-4 pm on 10 November the Pinellas Genealogy Society is holding its semi-annual event called Family History Assistance Day. Here is the opportunity to gather together the genealogy information you have and sit down 1-on-1 with a research helper to fill in the holes in your research, or even just get you started if you are new to the field.

The event takes place in the Jenkins Room of the Largo Public Library, Largo, Florida; and no reservations are is first come first served.

In addition to the research help there will be a couple classes offered on Evaluating Your Evidence. You can sit in on the class before or after your assistance session, or as you are waiting to be helped.

This is the 4th time the event has been offered and each time it has increased in popularity. Mark the 10th of November on your calendar and join us for an afternoon of fun and productivity.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ann Wilson Honored by the PGS

President David Dellinger Making the Presentation to Ann
Ann Wilson was presented with an Honorary Lifetime Membership in October. She was one of the earliest members of our Society, having joined the predecessor organization called Florida Society for Genealogical Research (FSGR).
In those early years, Ann helped canvas cemeteries, and she worked with Dorothy Boyer, first editor of the Society’s journal.
Ann and her late husband provided space for the Society’s first library and opened the doors one day a week to anyone who wanted to work with the Society’s holdings.
After her husband’s death, Ann became a home missionary, donated her personal collection of genealogical works to FSGR, and moved away for a short while.
She returned to the Largo area, and membership in what had become the Pinellas Genealogical Society.
We honor Ann for her significant contributions over more than 40 years of membership.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kansas Historical Society Archives Online

Kansas Memory is the Kansas Historical Society  online archives of documents, photographs, and more. It recently added 250,000 images to the site.

The site is rich in information and easy to navigate, with several filters available to narrow your search. A quick look reveals documents from the early 1800’s to the 2000’s.

If you have Kansas ancestors, or ancestors who passed through Kansas on the way further west, you may profit from exploring this site. Check it out at Kansas Memory

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Back to Adam

James Tanner in his blog Genealogy’s Star addresses genealogies that go way way back…perhaps to Adam. Actually, his article addresses the issue “again.” He has written about such research before and liberally references some of his earlier writing.

It is a good article on the challenges and pitfalls in researching early times (certainly before 1500), and it provides some helpful links for those interested in doing so.

Most intriguing (and revealing) is James’ concluding thought":

”The tragedy of the "back to Adam" issue is that it diverts resources, time and effort from legitimate research and give novices a very unreasonable expectation. One of the common questions asked of me is "How far back have you done your genealogy?" Not how well have you done your genealogy, not how valid are your conclusions, but just how far. Genealogy is not a competition sport.”

The article is well-worth reading. You can find it at Genealogy's Star: Back to Back to Adam

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Free Newspaper Archives in the US

The Free Newspaper Archives website lists many free sources of online newspapers. The site organizes the links by section of the country (western, northeastern, etc.) to make the search easier.

At the bottom of the home page are some other interesting links you may want to follow… “European Historical Newspapers,” for example.

Check it out at Free Newspaper Archives in the US

Friday, October 19, 2012

Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center - Genealogy Center Surname File

Here is a database you may find helpful. It comes from the Allen County Public Library and consists of names and contact information for individuals who have visited the Genealogy Center of the library since 1998 and have provided the surnames they were researching. The database is updated quarterly.

Check it out. You may find a researcher on the trail of one of your ancestors. The website is Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center - Genealogy Center Surname File

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to Use National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC)

The NUCMC is found at the Library of Congress website <>. Borrowing from the site, here is what it is about:

”The mission of the NUCMC program is to provide and promote bibliographic access to the nation's documentary heritage. This mission is realized by NUCMC production of cataloging describing archival and manuscript collections held by eligible repositories located throughout the United States and its territories. The program's mission is further realized by the provision of free searching, via NUCMC gateways, of archival and manuscript cataloging in OCLC WorldCat.”

If that is a bit too “governmenty” for you, then you may get a lot from Diane Beumenot on the One Rhode Island Family blog. She outlines her use of NUCMC with some clear examples. After reading her post, you can see what a valuable resource it is. Check out her article at How to Use NUCMC to Perform a Miracle « One Rhode Island Family

Monday, October 15, 2012

Another Take on Organizing Your Stuff

James Tanner in his blog Genealogy’s Star has shared his approach to organizing his genealogy documents. It is a computer-based system than relies on scanning and naming (including the assignment of “metadata”). What it does not entail is the use of traditional folders or binders to store his paper files.

This is a straight-forward approach that may seem “gutsy” to some of you, but which is worth the read. You can find the article at Genealogy's Star: A Note on Organization

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Headstones Provided for Union Civil War Veterans

An act of Congress in 1879 allowed for the government to provide headstones for soldiers buried in private cemeteries. The information about such provisions for the period 1879 to 1903 was recorded on cards and subsequently put on microfilm. The information on those cards is now available online through a volunteer effort.

The information provided includes name, rank, company and regiment, place of burial (including the cemetery’s name and where it is located), date of death. Most of the burials were in private cemeteries, but some were at National Homes for Disabled Soldiers.

Keep in mind the limitations of this database: Union only, private cemeteries (mostly), and death between 1861 and 1902 (approximately).

NOTE: there are a few War of 1812 veterans included in the list.

Check it out at Genealogy Trails - Cards of Union Civil War Headstones

Friday, October 12, 2012

Upcoming Events for the Lee County Genealogy Society of Florida

"Establishing your genealogy along with developing a social history" given by Mary Helen Griffin Halloran, author of "A Mississippi Family..." on developing a written social history using your family records.
When: Thursday, October 18, 2012, 10:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Where: Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall, 4141 DeLeon Street, Fort Myers, Florida.

Don't forget the November 3, 2012 Fall Seminar "DAR Research" given by LCGS and Estero Island Chapter of the NDAR, Debbie Duay, speakeer. Pre-Registration is required:
Contact Arlene Pulner at (239) 245-7712 or

Thursday, October 11, 2012

MillionShort, A Different Approach to Searching the Internet

MillionShort is a unique search engine: it allows you to remove the most poplar websites from consideration in your search. At first this sounds antithetical to a good search, but a little thought will reveal how it may be a good thing.

Often when we search for an ancestor’s name, it will be found in obscure websites, and those hits, if they are listed at all, are shown well down the list. In fact, they may be so far down the list that you never even look at them. MillionShort gives them better visibility.

The search options allow you to choose the number of popular sites to ignore during the search. The options range from remove none to remove one million.

This can be a fun and profitable exploration. Try it at MillionShort

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Facebook and Genealogy

Sharon Tate Moody, writing for (Tampa Bay Online), describes for us her use of Facebook to promote her family connections and genealogy.

She started out not thinking she would have any serious use for Facebook, but then discovered ways to make it work to promote her research and her connectedness to family. Her “conversion” is not necessarily unique, but is well-worth reading about if you are not familiar with the possibilities that Facebook presents.

Read Sharon’s article at Facebook is a friend to genealogists |

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Finding a Woman’s Maiden Name

William Dollarhide, writing in Lelan Meitzler’s Genealogy Blog, gives us a list of 90 places you may find information about a woman’s maiden name.

This may be just the nudge you need to break through one of your brick walls. You can find the article at

Friday, October 5, 2012

Incorporation Ledgers Indian Territory & Oklahoma Territory Incorporation Registers

Those of you who have ancestors from the Oklahoma Territory who established businesses will be interested in this website. The Oklahoma Secretary of State and the state historical society have partnered to digitize the territory incorporation records from 1890 to 1907.

Here is the explanation of the site offerings from the site itself:

”The Incorporation Records for the Oklahoma and Indian Territories have been digitized in a joint project with the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Oklahoma Secretary of State's Office. The ledger books were generated by the Territorial secretary as new businesses and municipalities began conducting business. There are 27 volumes of Oklahoma Territory Incorporation Records and 15 volumes for Indian Territory. Some examples of the entries found in the ledgers include: Agreement & Incorporation, Incorporation Amendment, Appointment of Agent, Dissolution, as well as lease and mortgage transactions. The entries begin in 1890 and continue until statehood is established in 1907.”

As an example, I found that the L. C Smith and Brothers Typewriter Company in 1907 executed an incorporation…and a PDF of the document is available for viewing and download.

You can find the database at OHS Research Center | Incorporation Ledgers Indian Territory & Oklahoma Territory

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Understand the Source Before You Look at the Records

An article recently published by Audrey Collins in the blog The Family Recorder contains some great advice for us. Her point is that before we get involved in looking for data in the many databases available on line now, we should be sure and check the description and especially the source of that data.

For instance, we may start to search for a birth record in a database containing Wisconsin births from 1880 to 1890, and not realize that the county we are interested in is not included. A careful reading of the the database description and the data sources could have revealed that.

This is a well-written article and is worth you time. You can find it at: The Family Recorder: Online records - never mind the description, look at the source

Monday, October 1, 2012

Family History Assistance Day Is Coming Up

From 12-4 pm on 10 November the Pinellas Genealogy Society is holding its semi-annual event called Family History Assistance Day. Here is the opportunity to gather together the genealogy information you have and sit down 1-on-1 with a research helper to fill in the holes in your research, or even just get you started if you are new to the field.

The event takes place in the Jenkins Room of the Largo Public Library, Largo, Florida; and no reservations are is first come first served.

In addition to the research help there will be a couple classes offered on Evaluating Your Evidence. You can sit in on the class before or after your assistance session, or as you are waiting to be helped.

This is the 4th time the event has been offered and each time it has increased in popularity. Mark the 10th of November on your calendar and join us for an afternoon of fun and productivity.

New Italian Immigrant References Added to Collection

If you have Italian immigrant ancestors you may be interested in a recent addition to the print collection in the Genealogy Center at the Largo Public Library. The two newest volumes of the Italians to America series have recently been acquired. Those two volumes cover the time-frames June 1904 to March 1905, and March 1905 to April 1905.

These additions bring the set up to date with a total of 28 volumes. Check it out the next time you are at the library.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Confused by Original Records, Image Copies, and Derivatives?

Elizabeth Shown Mills has produced a “Quick Lesson” on original records and derivatives that is well worth a good read.

She explains the differences between originals and various derivatives (such as certified copies, clerk’s copies, transcripts, extracts, and more). She then helps guide the reader through an understanding of the “quality” of each. The salient point she makes is that an exercise in good judgment on our part is always necessary. While there are principles we need to follow in the evaluation of our sources, there are few hard and fast rules. Her article is filled with examples of this.

The article is a bit long and the topic is technical…and the whole discussion is essential to good research evaluation.

You can find the article at Evidence Explained | QuickLesson 10: Original Records, Image Copies, and Derivatives

Thursday, September 27, 2012

TA View of Really Big Online Genealogical Databases

James Tanner writing is the Family Search TechTips blog gives us an informative take on really big online genealogical databases. heads his list (as one might suspect), but he goes on to list a total of ten.

He includes a little about each one and then goes on to give some tips about searching them. You may find some new ideas in the article, but if not, it gives a good over-view of the “big hitters” in the on-line genealogy world, as well some great refreshers on how to deal with them.

You can find James’ article at The Ins and Outs of Really Big Online Genealogical Databases

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New York State Archives

The website of the New York State Archives is a treasure trove of information in itself, but now it has entered into an agreement with that makes it even more accessible.

If you go to the home page and then click on “Find Family History Records,” you are taken to a page where you can use to do a search of many records sets from the state archives. You have to register for a free account, but the instructions are clearly explained on the site.

Note, this does not give you unlimited access to Ancestry, but it does give you free access to this part of it. If you have an subscription, the New York Archives contributions are already included in any Ancestry search you do.

Start your exploration at New York State Archives Homepage

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A One-Name Study May Be For You

A one-name study is research into the genealogy and family history of all persons with the same surname and its variants. It differs from other genealogy pursuits in that all of the people in the study need not be related.

This may be an advantageous line of research for you, because one of your missing links could be revealed. If you are new to the idea of this approach, the Guild of One-Name Studies has a website that can point the way to various on-going one-name studies as well as give you additional information.

Check it out at The Guild of One-Name Studies

Friday, September 21, 2012

FGS Seminar Features D. Joshua Taylor

The 3 November 2012 all-day seminar offered by the Florida Genealogy Society features D. Joshua Taylor, the internationally recognized genealogy researcher, author, speaker and featured expert on the television show “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Taylor's subject area,
“Becoming a 21st Century Genealogist," will include these topics:. Going Digital: Organizing Your Research Files Electronically
. New Tools & Ideas in Research
. Legends & Fairy Tales: Finding the Roots of Your Family Legends
. On & Off the Net: Locality Searching

The cost for FGS members is $35 and $40 for non-members.  The seminar will take place at the University of South Florida (Tampa Campus), Marshall Student Center, Room 2708 (Plaza Room).

For more information, visit the website:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Unique Brickwall Solution

The GenealogyInTime Magazine has an article about a study of marriage ages for men and women in the United States that leads to an interesting way to infer a missing birthdate for a spouse.

The article provides a graph and chart that shows, for different time periods, the typical age difference between husband and wife. So, if you have nothing else to go on, this gives you a way to form a working hypothesis about the birth date of one spouse if you know the birth date of the other. It won’t necessarily be precisely accurate, but it will give you a date to guide your research efforts.

You can read the article at Marriage and Age Differences .

The study itself was conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Library and Archives Canada on YouTube

The Library and Archives Canada now has its own channel on YouTube. They only have ten or so videos posted at this point, but more are sure to come. Among those available, you can watch a video on seaching the website as well as one giving an orientation of the physical archives, and another is available on the subject of immigration.

If you have a YouTube account, this is a channel you will want to subscribe to. Check it out at

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Your Interviewing Job Never Stops

Of course we all know the importance of interviewing living family members to get the memories of their experiences and other family members. But we need to realize that the job of interviewing never stops…even for those we have already interviewed extensively. New information we get can be just the key needed to unlock even more memories in the person’s mind.

William Dollarhide, writing for Leland Meitzler’s Genealogy Blog, makes this point very well. He gives some personal examples of interviewing successes as well as lessons learned. It is well worth the read, and you can find the article at If You Never Ask the Question

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Family Trees on

If you sign in to you will see a link on the search page to “Trees.” You may also have heard of an opportunity to search “Family Tree” on the website. Well, those two “trees” are not the same. The first is visible to all users of the website, and the second you have to register and sign in to see.

If this is a bit confusing, James Tanner in his Blog Genealogy’s Star, attempts to un-confuse us. He explains the difference and gives step-by-step instructions on how to get access to both (whether you are a Church member or not). It is easy to do and something you want to do to get the most from the FamilySearch website.

You can read James’ piece at Genealogy's Star: Signing in to and Family Tree

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Soldiers and Sailors System Has a New Look

Those of you interested in finding Civil War ancestors are probaby familiar with the Soldiers and Sailors Database managed by the National Park Service. But are you aware that the website has gone through a complete make-over?

The search screens are new and several new categories for research have been added. In addition to information on soldiers (both Union and Confederate), sailors, cemeteries, prisoners, battles, and units; now you can find information on politicians, activists, spies, noted civilians, and more.

As before, the site is still a work in progress with only two POW camps and two cemeteries detailed, but the new site has much to offer.

Check it out at

Don't forget that PGS offers a class on finding your Civil War Ancestors, in which use of the Soldiers and Sailors Database is covered in detail. Check the class calendar frequently to see when it is being offered next. < >

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Aerial Photos of Britain

Here is a great website for those researching British ancestry. It is a collection of aerial photographs of Britain taken from 1919 to 1953. It is useful for getting the “lay of the land” where your ancestors may have lived.

The interface is slick. The home page presents a slide show while the location of the scene is shown on a map to the right of the slide. If you choose the link to browse images, you are presented with a map of Britain with the photographed areas marked. You then drill down until you have the photograph you want.

There is lots more to the site, and you can find it at Britain from Above | Rescue the Past

Friday, September 7, 2012

History and Value of Family Bibles

William Dollarhide, has an article in the Genealogy Blog about family bibles. He starts with a brief but interesting history of Bible publication starting with Gutenberg in 1454, and then moving to Martin Luther and King James I.

Bibles are treasures to genealogists, and Dollarhide explains why by outlining it’s place in family history, education, and legal matters. He gives an example of tracking down a family Bible from his own family. That process of finding the family Bible is the focus of the article.

This is a valuable and informative article. You can find it at Who Has That Family Bible?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How Rich (or Poor) Was My Ancestor?

You may have noticed the dollar value of property, real or personal, listed in some census records—for instance the 1860 US Census. You may also have then wondered what that translated into today’s dollars.

That sounds like a rather straight forward question, but it apparently is not. Harold Henderson in the Midwestern Microhistory Blog gives an explanation of some of the problems in determining present value, and he also gives some suggestions on how to get an idea of the relative worth of your ancestor’s holdings.

Check it out at Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog: My ancestor had $1000 in 1860 -- was he rich?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Don't Forget Those Artifacts

In our research we usually concentrate on looking for documents such as birth and death certificates and marriage licenses…they are, after all, the stuff of genealogy. We also thrive on finding old photographs because they help us identify ancestors and sometimes even relationship among ancestors.
But what about old cameras, old books, furniture, eye glasses, desks, tools, and even houses? Those also can have a value to us genealogists although we don’t always stop to think of it. They can carry family history that is just as important to us in giving "life" to our ancestors as those documents that we spend so much time trying to find. And just like photographs, they can stimulate memories from the living members of our families that might never see the light of day without such a prompt.

We genealogists become antique collectors because we are commentators of family history. Antique dealers treasure such items because of their monetary value; we treasure them because of the stories and history about our families that they carry…their value to us is intrinsic. An old corncob pipe may not be worth very much money, but if we know that it belonged to our great-great grandfather, and that it was his chief pleasure to sit on the porch in the evenings and smoke it while telling stories with the family after working the farm all day, then it has great value.

Other items that may have value to your family are those associated with ancestors’ hobbies or jobs, such as nurses’ uniforms or scissors, pocket watches or cuff links, dried flowers or pressed ones, etc. The list is virtually endless. Often it just requires us to change our focus during our research to recognize the genealogical values of such things.
My family, for instance, treasures a small marble topped table that belonged to my great grandmother. She, as a child, as well as her children and her children's children all, at one time or another, did their arithmetic homework on its top. They wrote directly on the marble with a pencil and then erased their figures to begin again, making the top dull and even wavy in spots. The table is valuable because of the history it carries…because of the role it played in the life of our family, and its imperfections add to the value.
Even houses can hold genealogical value. Parents and grandparents may have wonderful childhood memories about living in a specific house. Another set of stories that might be connected with a house deals with when it was first purchased. Our homes typically are the most expensive possessions we have, and committing to such an obligation for the first time usually impresses itself indelibly on our minds. Those types of memories deserve to be recorded and even amplified with appropriate photographs. They give a broader and deeper understanding of our families and the lives they led.
Treasures of this type are probably scattered with members of your family. A brother may have an old family desk; a cousin may possess a hall tree that once was a great grandparent’s. And of course there is always our own basement or attic that can hold an item waiting to be discovered.

Once an item is found and we discover the story associated with it, don’t forget to write that story down and also record when, where, and who told the story. And when you are recording the story and its source, don’t forget to describe the object that started it all, its location, and take a picture of it as well. Completely documenting sources applies equally to documents and artifacts alike. An excellent source to guide source documentation is Evidence Explained: Citing history sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Second Edition) by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., Baltimore, 2009.
The Pinellas Genealogy Society offers a class on documenting sources that may be of value to you. Check the website at for more information.

So broaden your field of view during your research and consider family possessions as well as documents. The result will be a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the lives your ancestors led.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Search Tips

James Tanner in his Blog Genealogy’s Star has come through with another great article. This time he shares with us his “rules for optimizing online searches for genealogical information.”

We have all seen lists of search tips, I’m sure. Most genealogy sites even provide a link to a “how to search” page. But James’ seven rules are not of the common variety. He includes items like don’t get distracted, stick to it, and know when to stop.

This is worth your time, and can be found at Genealogy's Star: Navagating the Maze

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Land Record Research

William Dollarhide recently wrote an article about land records for Lelend Meitzler’s Genealogy Blog. He points out that property records are some of the most complete records sets we have about our ancestors. Even when courthouses and their records were burned, property records were typically quickly reconstituted, because without them, defending ownership as well as buying and selling land becomes difficult.

For a more detailed explanation of why land records are important to genealogists, read the article at If He Owned Land, There’s a Deed

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

South Bay Genealogical Society Seminar Features John Colletta

The South Bay Genealogical Society is sponsoring a seminar on February 19, 2013 at the Little Harbor Resort in Ruskin Florida. The featured speaker is Dr. John Philip Colletta.

Dr. Colletta's topics will include
--Breaking Through Brick Walls: Use Your Head
--The County Courthouse: "Your Trunk in the Attic"
--Turning Biographical Facts into Real Life Events, How to Build Historical Context
--Discovering the REAL Stories of Your Immigran Ancestors

The cost is $40 for SBGS members and $45 for non-members. Doors open at 8:30 AM and reservations close on February 8, 2013. For more information or to make a reservation send an email to

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Suncoast Genealogy Society Seminar Scheduled for October 27

The Suncoast Genealogy Society Fall Mini Seminar is scheduled for October 27 at the Palm Harbor Library. Registration begins at 12:30 PM.
The speakers this year will be Patti Schultz and Pam Treme. They will talk on "Paint and Genealogy-Create Uniqe Captures of Pages from a Website to Add to Your Research," and "Next Generation-Who Will Continue Your Research?"

For additional information contact Ann James at 727-791-1983 or

Solve Those Brick Wall Problems

The GenealogyInTime Magazine recently published an article on brick wall solutions—50 of them. It starts with a quote attributed to Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.” How appropriate when applied to some of our research challenges we call “brick walls”!

The article addresses categories of solutions: names (maiden names, middle names, aliases), geography (changing jurisdictions, searching by village), local resources (schoolhouse records, poor houses), and migration (port of entry, land records, place of birth).

I’ve only listed some of the topics. There are actually 26 of them. At the bottom of the last page is a link to part two of the article where the next 24 suggestions are found. The categories for those suggestions are death, family, military records,and general. 

This article may contain just the tip you need. You can find it at 50 Best Genealogy Brick Wall Solutions

Sunday, August 26, 2012

View of Genealogy’s Major Players

Recently James Tanner in his Blog Genealogy’s Star, wrote an overview of the “giants” of the genealogy world. In his view, the “giants” include,,, and

His treatment of each includes some of their history, recent acquisitions, and possible strategies in some cases. It is well worth reading if you want some help in making sense of what we see happening in the marketplace. You can find James’ article at Genealogy's Star: Movement among the giants

Friday, August 24, 2012

War of 1812 Pension Application Files Free at Fold3

This is the two hundredth year anniversary of the War of 1812. As a consequence, that war is receiving more attention than it usually does…it is often referred to as “the ‘other’ war” or the “forgotten war.”

There is a huge effort underway to digitize the War of 1812 Pension Application Files. The work is being done by Fold2 with funding provided by the Federation of Genealogical Societies. At this point only about 3% of the files have been digitized, but they are free for viewing at Fold3. This is a site worth checking regularly because you can’t tell when your ancestor’s records will be added. While you are there, there are a couple other 1812 record sets that you can look at too.

Check it out at War of 1812 Pension Application Files - Fold3

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Planning to Visit an Archive

You have probably seen articles on how to plan a research trip, how to prepare for a visit to a cemetery, etc. But how about preparing for a visit to an archive?

The thought of going to an actual archive can be intimidating to some people, but help is here. The Society of American Archivists has produced some guidance on effectively using archives. It covers such topics as the difference between archives and libraries, how to plan a visit, and usage guidelines.

If you wish, there is also a PDF version of the guide that you can download. You can read the article at