Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday at Family History Expo

Today was the first day of Family History Expo in Sandy, Utah. Lots of great opportunities between the speakers, exhibitors and participants.

I, along with a few of the other Bloggers of Honor, tweeted about the Expo as well as tweeted from some of the presentations. You can read my tweets @WVRNewsletter on Twitter. I will also try to put them together and post them here in a few days.

The Exhibitors range from providers of genealogical data like Ancestry, WorldVitalRecords, Footnote and Family Search. Allison Stacey from Family Tree Magazine is here. Several exhibitors offering to print and create large wall charts (pedigree, descendant, picture, etc). I gave a copy of my PAF file to Janet Hovorka at Generation Maps and she is going to work her magic and create a great chart for me. You can check out her blog at Other vendors inlcude those who provide digital scrapbooking supplies, photo organizing and more.

At times when I have not been able to go to a conference for one reason or another, I have purchased a syllabus. The Family History Expo syllabus is on CD and it is over 400 pages of great handouts. I would highly recommend buying it. There are so many great speakers here and you can benefit even by checking out the links that the handouts provide. The link to buy the syllabus is,

I am just one of the Bloggers for this event. You can read about the other bloggers at I know that Lisa Alzo has tweeted from a session or two. Renee Zamora has tweeted from several sessions including the banquet. Ancestry Insider has tweeted and blogged (and yes he does look like his Simpson character). Take advantage of the links for all the bloggers on the link above and follow their tweets to get a sense of being at the conference without being at the conference.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Getting the Most Out Of Genealogical Conferences

I am getting ready to attend two genealogy conferences in the next few weeks. Family History Expo will be held in Sandy, Utah on Friday and Saturday, August 28-29. For more information, please see their website at

I am honored to be a Blogger of Honor for this conference. As such, I will be reporting from the conference on this blog and the WorldVitalRecords Blog as well as various Twitter accounts including my own, GenaOrtega and my work accounts, WVRNewsletter and GenealogyWise.

I will also be attending the FGS Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, September 2-5, I am honored to be participating in a forum with George G. Morgan and Drew Smith, Open Forum: Blogging, Social Networking, and Podcasting on Wednesday, September 2nd from 5:00-6:00pm. It’s amazing to me that I was asked to be a part of this and I look forward to talking about genealogy and social networking.

Having said that, my opinion is that genealogy conferences are vital to the life long learning that a genealogist must spend time acquiring. Without this learning, you miss out on new resources, websites and techniques that can help you find your ancestors.

Now, I realize not everyone can attend a conference. I believe that there are still a great deal of online educational opportunities available, which I will address at a later date.

How do you make the most of the opportunities you do have to go to a conference? Here are some ideas:

Network, Network, Network
When I am at a conference I’m scanning participant’s name tags for ancestral surnames. I’m talking to other conference goers in between sessions, asking what presentations they went to and what they learned.

I even use this chance to speak to my genealogical heroes. I approach them and tell them how I love their book or ask a specific question about research that I think they may be able to provide some insight. No, I don’t sit there and grill them about my grandfather’s land grants. I ask a quick question like, “Why would a man in 1850’s North Carolina sell all his land to his kids.” Speakers are busy so you don’t want to tie up all of their time but there’s nothing wrong with asking a quick to the point question.

Exhibit Hall
Use your time at the conference to visit genealogy vendors and have them demonstrate their products, ask for help with their search engine, check out the books for sale and purchase resources that are hard to find. During conferences, exhibitors tend to place items on sale as a “conference special”. Use this time to get a discount on an item that you have been wanting.

Don’t Skip Sessions
It can be tempting to go use the hotel pool or see the local sites but don’t skip sessions. This is your opportunity to invest in your genealogical education-use it. Even when you think that you know everything about the subjects being presented. I have sat in on many “beginning” genealogy lectures, even lectures that I present to groups, and picked up additional ideas or websites. Everyone approaches a topic differently.

Read The Syllabus, All Of It
When you are waiting in between sessions, eating lunch or even relaxing in the hotel at the end of the day, read the handouts from all of the sessions. These handouts provide valuable insights including bibliographies and websites. Even in sessions that have nothing to do with the research you are doing, you may find an approach, a technique or a website that may be of help.

Follow Up
When you get home, make sure you follow up on those new websites you learned about. Check them out and share what you learned with others through your genealogical society newsletter, Twitter, Blogging, Facebook or just by telling your friends. Sharing information also helps you to remember it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Social History Saturday: The work of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

On my Kindle I am reading the Laurel Thatcher Ulrich book, Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History. I love Ulrich's writings and this book is no exception. I'm not yet done with the book, so I am not in a position to write an educated review but I did want to provide some information about Ulrich's work that help inform your research on your female ancestors.

Here is a bibliography of Ulrich's books:

Ulrich, Laurel. Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750. New York, N.Y.: Knopf, 1982.

Ulrich, Laurel. A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. New York: Knopf, 1990.

Ulrich, Laurel. The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth. New York: Knopf, 2001.

She has an article in: Cott, Nancy F., and Elizabeth Hafkin Pleck. A Heritage of Her Own: Toward a New Social History of American Women. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979.

Her article is entitled: Vertuous women found: New England ministerial literature, 1668-1735/ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

Ulrich's work provides readers wtih insights about the lives of our female ancestors.

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich has a great website that is very helpful in learning more about historical research. DoHistory, The site's purpose is to, "piece together the past from the fragments that have survived." By using the example of Martha Ballard, a 19th century midwife, Ulrich takes you through ideas about how to reconstruct the lives of your ancestors.

Click on the link "On Your Own" at the bottom of the website. Then check out the History Toolkit.

Tutorials include: How to read 18th Century Handwriting, What to with a Diary you've Found, How to Read Probate Records, How to Search Deeds, and How to Read a Graveyard.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WorldVitalRecords Subscription for 50% OFF

Today is your last day to get FREE access to more than 1.2 billion ancestral names. But it's not too late to SAVE BIG.

Now get 50% OFF your membership, where you'll enjoy access to thousands of databases—including Birth, Death, Military, Census, And Parish Records—to help you build your family tree.

Hurry! This incredible offer ends Friday, August 21st. Select the US Collection at $19.95 or the World Collection at $59.95.

To take advantage of this offer click here, or call customer service at 1-888-377-0588 (M-F, 8am-5pm MDT)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Church Records Sunday: Bible Records Online

There are so many wonderful people out there who are rescuing Family Bibles from second hand stores, online auction sites and the dumpster and then putting the information online. The following are just some of the places to search to see if someone has found the old Family Bible that was once a treasured keepsake to your ancestors.

Please feel free to add additional sites in the Comments section

Ancestor Hunt,

Canada GenWeb,

Sayler’s Collection of Family Bible Transcriptions,

Newfoundland Bible Transcriptions,

Genealinks (Links to other sites with Bible record transcriptions),

Cyndi’s List, Family Bibles,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Social History Saturday: The Boy with the US Census

As I was looking for audio and digitized books I ran across this book, The Boy with the US Census by Francis Rolt-Wheeler was published in 1911. The story is that of a young census taker and the people and situations he encounters as he goes about his enumerating duties.

This book is actually part of a series that all begin with the phrase “The Boy with” and include the U.S. Survey, U. S. Foresters, U. S. Mail, U. S. Inventors, U. S. Trappers, U. S. Miners, and the U. S. Explorers.

In the introduction, the author hints at the danger a census worker faced. And he ends with the purpose for writing this book, “To show how this great Census work is done, to reveal the mysteries its figures half-disclose, to point the paths to heroism in the United State to-day, and to bind closer the kinship between all peoples of the earth who have become “Americans” is the aim and purpose of the Author."

This book is not written as a history book, it is listed as a piece of fiction and it is written in the form of a novel. While it may contain some fictionalized accounts, the 28 photographs used in this book were provided by the US Census Bureau and other government agencies. These photographs represent situations that a census taker would encounter including child labor workers in a cotton mill, with an the telling caption “Eight Years Old and Tired of Working”. The pictures in this book are great, including a picture of a census punch card, a tabulating machine, a family arriving at Ellis Island, living conditions in the south, workers at the Winchester Rifle company and so much more.

To read more about the history of this book see

This book is available in many different forms on the internet (for sale and in free digitized versions.) You can look at it in its digitized form on Google Books at

This is a great book and I look forward to reading the other books in the series. As a side note, the author, Rev. Francis Rolt-Wheeler was an Episcopal clergyman whose wife in 1915 filed for divorce on charges of cruelty against her husband, he encouraged her to kill herself so that he wouldn’t have to take care of her. The newspaper clipping about the divorce allegations is a great reminder to us as genealogists that all kinds of information can be found in the newspaper, including the details of divorces. To see the New York Times clipping,

Friday, August 14, 2009

WorldVitalRecords Free Access Extended

I blogged about the free access promotion for WorldVitalRecords earlier this week. This promotion has been extended along with the special pricing they are offering on their United States and World Collections. This free offer and special subscription price is extended until August 18, 2009.

This week alone, WorldVitalRecords has added almost 19 million names on records ranging from newspapers, directories, histories and vital records.

You can subscribe to the World Collection for $59.95 and to the US Collection for $19.95.

Sign up for either offer online or by calling customer service at 1-888-377-0588.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Free Access at WorldVitalRecords Opens Site Allowing for Free Public Access to More Than One Billion Family History Records

With the addition of the largest number of records to be released in a single day since the site launched in 2006

PROVO, UT, August 11, 2009 –, an online family history resource, today announced the addition of the largest number of records to be released in a single day since the site launched in 2006. To commemorate this milestone, for the first time WorldVitalRecords is offering free public access to its entire online collection of historical and genealogical records beginning August 11 and continuing through August 13, 2009. The public will have unlimited access to more than one billion records in over 11,000 databases from around the world including newspapers, census, birth, marriage, death, immigration and military records; family trees; stories and publications; and yearbooks.

“As a genealogy enthusiast, I’m thrilled that people can go to one place like, try family history research for free and find their parents or grandparents, and see how simple it is to start tracing back and discovering stories that bring family history to life," said Jim Ericson, Vice-President of Marketing for Family Link. “This is a rare opportunity to delve into the records and discover information about your family and ancestors you may have never known.”

Featured records in this release include:

Historical Newspapers
Through a partnership with Newspaper Archive, WorldVitalRecords is adding access to pages from a variety of newspapers from all over the United States, dating from 1759 through 1923. This collection features images of entire newspapers from the western frontier, the Midwest at the turn of the century, and the long-time standard of our nation's news, "The New York Times" which includes over 7 million names. Newspaper Archive produces the largest historical newspaper database online, and the collection is fully searchable by keyword and date, and individual pages can be saved or printed.

According to Gena Philibert Ortega, Genealogy Community Director for FamilyLink, "Part of the fun of family history is uncovering details about our ancestors’ daily lives -- the events of the day, the goods and the services they bought. Newspapers allow us to better understand our ancestors."

Immigration Records
Living in a country of immigrants, ship passenger lists and other records documenting immigration can be an essential part in learning more about your family history. It is a thrilling experience to see their names transcribed on paper the day they entered this country through the Port of New York. Browsing and searching these passenger lists is a perfect way for someone to start researching their family history. This record collection provides documentation of over 150,000 passengers who arrived on nearly 8,000 ships at one of the busiest ports in the United States, New York, from 1820-1832.

In partnership with the website, WorldVitalRecords is doubling its collection of digitized yearbooks. This collection features university yearbooks from the late 1800 to mid 1950’s. houses the largest collection of old college yearbooks on the Internet. Universities featured this week include Duke University, University of Oklahoma, Iowa State and the College of William and Mary.

Vital Records, Military Records and Tax Lists
Other records being released on the site include birth, marriage, tax lists, military records, and death records from Maine, North Carolina, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Focused on helping users discover and share their family history, WorldVitalRecords adds new records to their online collection everyday.

About is simplifying family history research by providing many easy-to-use tools and resources to discover and connect with others interested in family history. WorldVitalRecords provides access to more than one billion international and U.S. records provides affordable access to genealogy databases and family history tools used by more than 258,000 monthly visitors. The site registers 3.6 million monthly pages views and serves tens of thousands of paying subscribers. With thousands of databases—including birth, death, military, census, and parish records— makes it easy to fill in missing information in your family tree.

WorldVitalRecords is part of the, Inc. network of family-focused interactive properties including, GenealogyWise, WebTree, WorldHistory, and the We’re Related and My Family applications on Facebook.
Mary Kay Crocker
(801) 592-5575

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Church Record Sunday: Moravian Church

Have Moravian ancestors? You may be interested in the website Moravian Genealogy Links at

This website provides information on Moravian Church History as well as links for online genealogical resources and libraries and archives to visit.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Museum of disABILITY History

I was reading about Eunice Kennedy Shriver's failing health,, which made me think of all the work she has done on behalf of those who are disabled and that made me think about Rosemary Kennedy.

Rosemary Kennedy, sister to Eunice, was incapacitated by a lobotomy in her early 20's. Many of us have ancestors or family who have been subjected to asylum's, risky procedures and incarceration for mental health issues.

The Museum of disABILITY History,, has a great website that includes interactive displays and a library of collections having to do with the historical aspects of disabilities.

The home page explains:

This online wing of the Museum of disABILITY History complements our freestanding "bricks and mortar" Museum and our traveling exhibits.

The Museum of disABILITY History is dedicated to advancing the understanding, acceptance and independence of people with disabilities. The Museum's exhibits, collections, archives and educational programs create awareness and a platform for dialogue and discovery.

The Museum of disABILITY History is open Monday-Friday, 10:00AM – 4:00PM, or by appointment. The Museum is closed on holidays. Admission is Free. For Group Tours, please call to make an appointment. The Museum is located at 1291 North Forest Road, Williamsville, NY...

The Museum is...dedicated to the collection, preservation and display of artifacts pertaining to the history of people with disabilities.

Those with New York ancestors, may be interested in the map of New York institutions from the 1600's to 1950 ,

You can search their collections online at A search of the collections on the term "women", brings up some great historical books, reports, newspaper articles and postcards. While the books are not digitized, they do provide the complete citation so that you could go on to look for it at Google Books or World Cat.

By clicking on the the button on the left side "Random Images' you are provided with random images of items from the collection.

This is a great website to learn more about the history of people with disabilities and get a better sense of how people in years past were treated or how they weren't treated. A must for genealogists who have any ancestor who was blind, deaf, physically or mentally handicapped.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Church Record Sunday: Your Early American Ancestor

Do you have ancestors that lived in America during the colonial period or later in the 19th century? There's no doubt that church records can provide lots of great information about your ancestor's life. How do you find out more about the religion that your ancestor was a part of? Learning about the religion can provide you with a better understanding of how your ancestor lived and believed. By taking time to learn about your ancestor's religious life, you will be better able to find the corresponding church records.

This great website by professional genealogist Beverly Whitaker, Genealogy Tutor, includes everything from links to information about religious groups that existed in Colonial times through 19th and 20th century America.

Beverly provides everything from links to church websites, to histories of various religions, to essays. And she provides information about Christian and non-Christian groups. Use this great website as a starting place to learn more about your ancestor's religious life and then look for records in the Family History Library Catalog (do a keyword search for your ancestor's religion), church archives, local denominations and university libraries.