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.