28 August 2009

"Longtime volunteer leaves $25,000 to Newfields Public Library"

That is the headline from an article that tells how Barbara Bechtold Byrne (Bobbie) willed that $25,000 to the library in Newfields, New Hampshire. As the article on the Seacoastonline.com states:

"The library was also a place where Byrne could delve into the books and historical records dedicated to two of her favorite topics — Revolutionary history and genealogies.

'Her goal was to promote this area — the history and genealogy of the town — going back to Colonial days," Chris said. "She wanted to make sure we kept that history from the very early days alive.' "

Read the full story here. What a wonderful legacy in this time when so many libraries, archives, and historical societies are struggling to preserve history with diminishing town, county and state funding.

27 August 2009

Don't let it get away

You just received an email with an attachment. That attachment is a copy of your great grandparents marriage certificate. Maybe tomorrow you will find an online obituary that has some neat family details.

As you look at the item your mind fills with ideas on research possibilities that flow from the details on the record. Maybe you have 3 questions based on what you just read. The dryer buzzes and you are off to hang up those permanent press shirts. Then off to the hardware store or to choir rehearsal. By the next time you have the time to look at those documents again, those first research ideas or questions to ask may not pop back into your mind. You remember that you had a wonderful idea on what to look for but it just won't come back into your thoughts.

Put it in writing
We have all been at that place and hopefully learned a lesson. Immediately jot down the ideas and questions that pop into your mind. Those first impressions are important. That's why I have paper and pencils/pens in many places in my home. It's much easier to write down my first thoughts. In some ways, this is the beginning of your research plan.

This can also be the start of a list of questions to ask Aunt Mary the next time the two of you have a cup of coffee and talk about the family.

Don't lose these notes -- keep them with the document or in a folder or computer file with your other "to do" items.

These may be the best impressions
Often those ideas that first appear are among the best ones. Get them down in writing, but don’t let that be the end of your analyzing and planning process.

26 August 2009

Wordless Wednesday -- Kay Rowan

Kay Rowan 16 November 1916 - 26 August 2000 (9 years ago today) with her grandniece Katie Warren Dougherty.

19 August 2009

Reservations now open for StoryCorps at the FGS Conference!

StoryCorps is coming to the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference: Make your reservation today!

StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening, is coming to 2009 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas on September 2-4.

By recording the stories of our lives with the people we care about, we experience our history, hopes, and humanity. Since 2003, tens of thousands of everyday people have interviewed family and friends through StoryCorps. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to take home and share, and is archived for generations to come at the Library of Congress. Millions listen to our award-winning broadcasts on public radio and the Internet. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, creating a growing portrait of who we really are as Americans.

To learn more about StoryCorps visit their website. <www.storycorps.org>

Visit the FGS Conference Blog www.fgsconferenceblog.org for full details on making a reservation.

One important reminder -- Wednesday, August 26th is the last day to register online for the conference. You may still register at the door beginning at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1st. Visit FGS' website at www.fgs.org to register.

18 August 2009

Tombstone Tuesday -- only because of a kind student

Back in the 1990s I was teaching a class at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. That was pre-PowerPoint days! I don't remember what the class topic was but it included an overhead of a letter from a cemetery I had contacted in the 1980s.

It was from Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, California. A lady in the class, Shirley, said that this cemetery was right by her house. As the years have passed, Shirley and her cohorts from Montana have become special friends of mine.

Fast forward to 2002 when the Federation of Genealogical Societies was to have its conference in Ontario, California. Shirley gave me an offer I could not resist -- when I arrived there she would drive me to the cemetery to visit the graves and take pictures. The graves are of a great granduncle Frederick Slaker and his family. Frederick is a brother of my great great grandmother Emma Slaker Stuart. The other sibling was Louis Slaker. The are Germans who settled in Wisconsin. Fred and Lou and their families ended up in the Los Angeles area.

More than just drive me to the cemetery, Shirley went there ahead of time, got a map, and scouted out the area where the graves are located. All this because I taught a class.

17 August 2009

What is a genealogical consultation?

I have received some questions in regard to my appearance on TV last week. A couple people want to know what a genealogical consultation is and how does it help someone working on their family tree.

That's an easy one to answer. It's as simple as hiring a professional genealogist to sit down and give you what ends up being a private class based on your own family. If you are new to genealogy, a consultation can help you get started. If you have been doing some work, the consultation helps you learn about more sources, where they are found, what else you need to know, and many other things. It's a time to ask all sorts of questions and get some answers that are directed specifically to your own research. These consultations can take place in someone's home, at a library or a restaurant.

Some consultations can be done as working sessions at a genealogy library or courthouse. No matter the place, it is reasonable to expect to pay for 2-3 hours minimum for an in-person consultation where you bring all your material with you and you take notes. If you desire a written report that will increase the time. If your consultation consists of you sending the professional consultant your materials, that person doing a thorough review and analysis of what you have, and preparing a report reviewing what you have done and what is suggested for the next steps, be prepared for several more hours of time. It takes almost as much time to prepare the report as it does to analyze the materials.

Who do you hire?
  • Someone who has been researching family history for quite a while.
  • Someone who knows about online resources
  • Someone who knows about all the other important resources found in courthouses, archives, libraries, churches, and historical societies
  • Someone who can review what you already have or have found and help you tailor a reasearch plan -- sort of a "to do" list for genealogy shopping.
  • Someone who knows how to evaluate sources for their importance and accuracy
  • Someone who continues their education in genealogy and history and hasn't been stagnant in the field.
  • Someone who can look at the broader picture -- in other words who knows enough to help you get your ancestors out of the town, county and state you have them in.
  • If you need help only in research in another country, that person needs to have a working familiarity with resources particular to that place.
  • The consultant may be someone with access to a variety of databases that you don't have.
  • The consultant may know of some obscure indexes, guidebooks, databases or even another professional that may be just what you need for part of your family history work.
  • The professional may be a whiz at things electronic and can help set up your databases, software, and other options.
A consultation usually ends up saving you a lot of money down the road since you will now be better prepared for the continuing research process. And before you ask, yes, I am a genealogical consultant for hire. My area of expertise is the U.S. and Canada. It's one of the most fascinating aspects of my business.

14 August 2009

A County Fair, A Pony, Babies, and a Wedding

I knew I had this picture somewhere. Organizing my bookshelves helped to find it. The 78th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is "Ride 'Em Cowboy - Share Your Pony Pictures." This event is sponsored by Jasia of the Creative Gene blog.

I don't always have the opportunity to participate in the various themes, special postings, carnivals, and other wonderful Geneablogger events but this one came at the perfect time. I will be participating in-person at a large event involving Geneabloggers at the FGS Conference in Little Rock in a few weeks.

Way back in 1958 my Aunt Jeanie and Uncle Bill took me to the Ramsey County Fair. Imagine what happened to my ten year old ego when the St. Paul Sunday Pioneer Press published a picture of me! Apparently I even had to circle my own picture so I would recognize myself.

My aunt and uncle are at the very back of the picture. Bill is holding their oldest son, Rick, and Jeanie is obviously very pregnant. In fact, that baby, my cousin Maureen, was born on August 11th. I am so glad I found this picture today as Jeanie and Bill's youngest daughter, Patti, is getting married tomorrow. I know my Aunt Jeanie would be so proud and is looking down at Patti and smiling.

August 26th deadline for FGS Genealogy Conference

It has been almost a year since we began telling people about the 2009 edition of the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Little Rock. The local host, the Arkansas Genealogical Society, is waiting for us. The Statehouse Convention Center is a beautiful place. Now it is less than 3 weeks till the conference begins on September 2d.

Four days of learning about genealogy, how to use the records, where to find the records, new online databases and digitized images, an Exhibit Hall full of things to browse, buy, subscribe, and join. Whew! The presenters at the scheduled sessions are among the top genealogists, librarians, and archivists. As always happens with FGS Conferences, the registrants are coming from all over the U.S. and some from Canada. If you are a beginner, this conference is the place for you. If you are already well into family history research, this conference will serve your needs, too. If you are at a point where you have already used all the "usual" resources, this conference even has sessions for you.
  • Online registration ends August 26th!
  • August 26th is the last day to add luncheons, the banquet and the Night at the Ballpark.
  • August 26th is the last day to register online for the APG PMC which is geared toward professional genealogists.
  • Yes, you may still register at the door. See you there.

13 August 2009

Appearance on Twin Cities Live

I did my bit on TV yesterday. The staff at Twin Cities Live was great. I took my almost 16 year old granddaughter with me. The male host of the show, John Hanson, took her to meet the afternoon drive on-air personalities, Moon & Staci, from KS95 radio station. Talk about a neat experience for a teen. I told her she owes me for life.

I jump at chances to share the wonderful experience of researching family history. If you are interested in seeing me in action in various places around the U.S. check the links in the right hand column for my upcoming appearances.

If you have any interest in seeing the segment, it is at: http://twincitieslive.com/article/stories/s1080536.shtml?cat=10698. The is supposed to be a link to an 11 page handout about genealogy that includes many live links. You can read this directly by clicking here.

National Archives Launches Blog

August 13, 2009

New blog to focus on online public access to records of the U.S. National Archives

Washington, DC . . . On Wednesday, August 12, the National Archives launched the NARAtions blog to begin a discussion with researchers on the future of online public access at the National Archives. The public is invited and encouraged to share opinions on ways to enhance the online researcher experience and to increase access to archival materials.

This online community will continue to be a work in progress as we develop new features and content. Questions will be posted to invite discussion, and the blog welcomes feedback and suggestions for new questions to raise. The blog will also inform researchers about newly available online records descriptions and digitized archival materials.

We would like to hear from you! What sort of things would you find valuable from NARAtions?

* Should we allow the public to tag descriptions in our online catalog? Why or why not?

* What groups of photographs should we post on Flickr next, and why?

* Do you have a favorite NARA photograph or document? Is it already available in our catalog or on our website?

The URL is http://blogs.archives.gov/online-public-access/. Please visit often and share this web address with others.

11 August 2009

Minnesota Genealogical Society Conference

The Minnesota Genealogical Society's North Star Genealogy Conference takes place September 18 & 19, 2009. The educational sessions will be held at the Minnesota Genealogical Society Library and Office location at concord Avenue in South St. Paul. The main speaker is Clare Mire Bettag, Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer. Clare is a nationally known genealogical educator. I count Clare as a friend and colleague and she is a fantastic lecturer.

For all the details on Clare's presentations and some by other speakers visit the MGS website by clicking here.

August 12th on Twin Cities Live

If you happen to be within viewing range of Twin Cities TV station KSTP on Wednesday, August 12th, you might catch a glimpse of me on Twin Cities Live. The segment features two half-sisters who met because of "an afternoon on the Internet." Ancestry.com was apparently the impetus for the connection. The station wants me to tell the viewers how to get started in family history research. How much info can I squeeze into a few sentences? I do hear you folks laughing at the thought of me trying to say only a few sentences. I just happen to be overly passionate about the subject.

08 August 2009

Are you registered for the FGS Conference?

If you are registered for the FGS Conference in Little Rock, there is some exciting news for you on the Conference News Blog. Keep watching the blog for lots of news during August.

07 August 2009

Religious distribution in the U.S. today

Today's Boston Globe has a story about the distribution of religions in the U.S. today. You can read the entire story here. The story is accompanied by a series of maps showing the distribution of Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Mormons, and those who consider themselves non-religious. I saw a few states that surprised me, but overall the map is what I expected.

This is the work of the polling company, Gallup. Gallup has a more complete article here. The survey was compiled via telephone.

For historic religious distribution maps check these websites:
  • The Library of Congress website has scanned images of religious distribution in 1890.
Many such maps and atlases can be found in map libraries and in the reference sections of public, historical and university libraries.

1930 Census Free during August at Footnote.com

I received this press release from Footnote.com yesterday. Today on Facebook, Footnote.com is saying that they are receiving a lot of traffic and that the site is operating a bit slowly but they are working on improving it. Footnote is a great subscription site. Just browse their content list that is constantly expanding.

1930 Census Free Through the Month of August

Dear Footnote Member,

The 1930 US Census is one of the most powerful resources available to anyone who wants to learn more about their ancestors.

During the month of August, we're giving everyone free access to Footnote.com's one-of-a-kind, interactive 1930 US Census.

With Footnote's interactive census, viewing, downloading and printing images from the census are just the beginning. You can also add images and comments, spotlight interesting finds, create pages for your ancestors and tell their stories.

Let your family and friends know by simply forwarding this email to them or by pointing them to

The Footnote Team

04 August 2009

Google expands its "News Archive Search"

Have you used Google's newspaper archive search? It is one of my favorite search capabilities for obituaries and other newspaper items. Many of the links that pop up are to other websites that require a fee. Many of these do have subscriptions for home users. Your public library may have subscriptions to these sites.

Google has also been digitizing newspapers and has recently quadrupled number of articles included in "News Archive Search."

Try some searches here.

See the full notice on Google's own blog.

Louisville Public Library floods

Libraries have so many challenges today. It's impossible to miss the stories online and in print that tell the drastic news of budget, staff, and hours cuts. Hurricanes and tornadoes still wreak havoc. The Louisville Free Public Library has now suffered flooding with "three feet of water in the basement" and "thousands of books have been damaged." Where does the money come from for such repair and replacement in today's economy?

Read the article in the Courier-Journal.com

03 August 2009


This is a new press release from Ancestry.com:

Collaboration with the American Jewish Historical Society and the Routes to Roots Foundation offers online access to more than 200,000 Jewish records

PROVO, Utah, August 2, 2009 -- Ancestry.com, the world's largest online resource for family history, today announced an addition to its Jewish family history record collection through collaboration with two leading organizations committed to the preservation of Jewish heritage.

Ancestry.com has aligned with the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS), which maintains millions of records that bear witness to the contributions of the American Jewish community to life in the Americas from the 16th century to the present, and Miriam Weiner's Routes to Roots Foundation (RTRF), an internationally-known firm that specializes in Jewish research in the archives of Eastern Europe. Through relationships with these two organizations, Ancestry.com is digitizing and putting online a unique collection of records that can now be searched alongside the large collection of Jewish records already accessible on Ancestry.com.

"Ancestry.com built the largest online collection of Jewish family history records last year, through its collaboration with JewishGen and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee," said Gary Gibb, Vice President of Content for Ancestry.com. "Now with the addition of records from the AJHS and Routes to Roots, Ancestry.com will be able to offer an even more diverse collection of Jewish-related documents that will help people discover their life story."

The American Jewish Historical Society documents that have been digitized as part of this relationship include six remarkable collections:
  • Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records, 1878-1934 - applications for admission; and discharge ledgers
  • Selected Naturalization Records, New York City, 1816-1845 - declaration of intention for New York County; contains name, age, birthplace, nationality, place of emigration, occupation and place of intended settlement
  • New York Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records, 1860-1934 - applications for admission; and discharge ledgers
  • Industrial Removal Office Records, 1899-1922 - records of Jewish families and individuals who were assisted in moving from harm's way in various countries
  • Selected Insolvent Debtor's Cases, 1787-1861 - approximately 2,000 cases, some containing an inventory of assets
  • Selected Mayor's Court Cases, New York, 1674-1860 - 6,000 selected briefs that include summons, complaints, affidavits, and jury lists
"We believe the value in the American Jewish Historical Society's extraordinary holdings lies not only in what we have, but in how we make it accessible," said Evan Kingsley, executive director of the AJHS. "Ancestry.com provides a new and important online access point that makes AJHS' archives that much more valuable. The more our collections are used, the better we're fulfilling our mission."

Ancestry.com has also put online Miriam Weiner's Routes to Roots' Eastern European Archival Database, a significant historical collection that includes references to Jewish and civil records from archival holdings in Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine.

"The Eastern European Archival Database is the result of a twenty-year journey to help record and preserve Jewish materials from five countries," said Miriam Weiner, founder of the Routes to Roots Foundation. "Through this important collection people will be able to discover a variety of documents including property records, census lists, vital records and Holocaust records, which will help them walk in the footsteps of their ancestors."

Along with the records from AJHS and RTRF, Ancestry.com will also launch two new collections from JewishGen, including Lithuania: List of Donors of Charity from HaMagid (1871-1872), the Persian Famine donation list printed in the Hebrew newspaper HaMagid, and Hungary: Jewish Census (1848), a survey of Jews in Greater Hungarian countries including Hungary, parts of Slovakia, Croatia, Ukraine and Romania, among others.

To search through all the new Jewish record collections and Ancestry.com's entire Jewish Family History experience visit http://www.ancestry.com/JewishFamilyHistory.

About the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS)
Founded in New York City in 1892, the American Jewish Historical Society's holdings include 20 million documents, 50,000 books, paintings and other objects that bear witness to the remarkable contributions of the American Jewish community to life in the Americas from the 16th century to the present.

About the Routes to Roots Foundation
The Routes to Roots Foundation was established in 1994 with the goal to survey, study, research, inventory and document Jewish material, archives and Judaica in Eastern European archives. The organization fosters and promotes the study and preservation of Jewish genealogical material and assembles, catalogues, publishes and disseminates information from research and study of Jewish materials and compiles, maintains and updates library and/or archive of collections of Jewish historical, cultural and genealogical information.

About Ancestry.com
Ancestry.com is the world's largest online resource for family history and has digitized and put online over 4 billion records over the past twelve years. Ancestry users have created over ten million family trees containing over one billion profiles. Ancestry.com has local Web sites directed at nine countries, and more than 8 million unique visitors spent more than 5 million hours on an Ancestry Web site in May 2009 (comScore Media Metrix, Worldwide). For more information on Ancestry.com and its other family history resources, visit http://corporate.ancestry.com