Sunday, December 27, 2009

Church Record Sunday: Online Archive of California

Church records can be found in lots of places that are seemingly unchurch like. A good case and point is the Online Archives of California. Now, this is mostly going to be a resource for those with Californian ancestors, however, it’s a good reminder for everyone to look everywhere when researching your family history.

The Online Archive of California (OAC) is a catalog of participating institutions and their collections. According to their website, “The Online Archive of California provides free public access to detailed descriptions of primary resource collections maintained by more than 150 contributing institutions including libraries, special collections, archives, historical societies and museums throughout California and collections by the 10 University of California campuses.” It’s sort of like searching WorldCat but in this case you are searching through numerous archives in California. For a complete list, see their website at

You can search their catalog by any keyword, including a religion. A good example can be found by searching on the term “Methodist.” Search results bring up manuscript collections, church records, meeting minutes and more (

Once you see a results you are interested in, just click on the title and you will be able to read about that collection, where it is available and in some cases, when it is a digital collection, you will be able to access it from OAC.

This catalog has an impressive collection of church records and collections having to do with religions. It has everything from records about the Catholic church in Poland,, to photographs of San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church,;query=baptist;developer=local;group=Collections;idT=fff78e7e391c4c945814033164080b32.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Year, New Ideas for Gena's Genealogy

As we end 2009, I've thought a lot about the coming year and what I would like to accomplish. And that also brings me to think about what I want to bring to my blog and making it worthwhile to those who read it. It's hard when you blog because you don't know what people think or whether anyone even reads your blog. There are so many blogs out there that it's hard to know where your blog rates in the scheme of things.

As I think about my blogging "style" and what I want to convey to my readers, I've decided on some ideas I will implement in 2010. If you are a regular reader to my blog you may know that I tend to try to post article, websites, and tips that will help you in researching your ancestor. My hope is that these ideas will help you and provide new ideas for your research and new discoveries.

So for 2010 I will continue with Church Record Sunday. This is a series that I developed where I write about church records, websites, and other sources having to do with your ancestor's religious records. I try to highlight all kinds of religions and sources.

I will also start a weekly series 52 Weeks of Genealogy Sources (ok, I'm not very good at coming up with snazzy titles). I will explore 1 resource a week and explain it and where you can find it. These will be sources that can be found on the internet, at a library or an archive. My hope is to bring up some sources that you may not have known about.

Peppered into those postings will be social history websites, books I love and other ideas for your genealogy.

I hope you will take this week leading into the New Year and think about your genealogy and how you want it to be different next year. This is the time to think about lines to research, new aspects of genealogy and history that you want to learn about, conference and events to go too. Now is the time to think of what you want to discover this year and start making plans.

I know I will be....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

WorldVitalRecords is free for the Holidays

Just to let everyone know, WorldVitalRecords is free until December 28th. No credit card is required. Just go to and you can sign up to access the entire site for free. This is a great opportunity to do some research.

Happy Holidays!

*Just in case you are wondering, I am an employee of WorldVitalRecords.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Church Record Sunday: Internet Archive

Tami Glatz, wrote an excellent article about websites for digitized books on her blog, Relatively Curious at Her article, Finding Family Stories in Online Digitized Books provides a great overview of places to find digitized books online that can help you in researching your family.

Digitized book sites can be excellent resources for finding information relating to your ancestor’s religion. It is on these sites that you can find historic journals, church histories and transcribed records. While everyone is probably familiar with my favorite of these sites, Google Books, there is another source that you may also want to check out.

Internet Archive,, is a website that provides many different types of online archival materials including audio, video, music and text. You can also use their Wayback Machine to find cached pages of websites addresses that no longer exist. For genealogists, their collection of almost 2 million digitized books is an important resource for research.

Once you are on the Internet Archive site, click on Texts and then at the top toolbar, click on the link, Additional Collections. Scrolling down this page will lead you to a graphic and link for Genealogy, click on this link ( The Internet Archive’s Genealogy Collection includes texts from Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, University of Toronto, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library. Right now there are almost 12,000 books in this digital library, but my understanding is that there will be more added.

You can browse these titles by author or title. There are fabulous genealogy books that include family history books, vital records, land records, histories and more. I love this resource but there is one tiny feature that I am not in love with. As you are looking at book titles, the website blinks thumbnail views of the book and its contents. These views “flash” like Christmas tree lights. I find this feature difficult to stomach, literally, but it can be turned off. Just scroll down the page and you will see a link for “Turn off thumbnails.”

Some of the titles related to churches that I found include:

A brief account of the parish and church of Wiston, in the province of Canterbury, diocese of Ely, archdeaconry of Sudbury, in the county of Suffolk ([n.d.]),

A brief history of the First Church in Plymouth, from 1606 to 1901 (1902),

Baptisms and admission from the records of First church in Falmouth, now Portland, Maine (1898),

Bachelor Creek Christian Church records; Hanna Cemetery records ... Noble Township, Wabash County, Indiana ([n.d.]),

Baptisms, marriages, burials and list of members taken from the church records of the Rev. Ammi Ruhamah Robbins, first minister of Norfolk,, 1761-1813 (1910)

These are just some of the titles to check out the rest, browse the collection by title. This is an important resource that brings books genealogy resources to you. You can read these books online, download them as a PDF and even download them for reading on other media, like Kindle. Each book, once opened can also be searched individually.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Looking forward to 2010

I love it when there are future events to look forward to. 2010 comes with a bunch of great genealogy conferences to attend. I think conferences are so important because they provide you with the opportunity to network, meet vendors and learn from other genealogists.

The first conference I will be attending is the Mesa Family History Expo, January 22-23. I have written before that I love Family History Expos. I have been attending the St. George one since it began and find it to be a great way to meet people and discover new ideas.

I have been named a Blogger of Honor for the Mesa Expo and feel honored that I would be in the company of so many great bloggers.

Holly Hansen at Family History Expos has been so generous to provide the bloggers with 2 tickets to the event to pass on to their readers. Some bloggers are holding contests. I would love for my tickets to go to someone who really would love to go to Expo but could use the extra help that free admission would provide.

So if you would love to go, please email me and let me know. I will take the first 2 submissions. I will even sweeten the deal and invite you to lunch at the conference to go along with your free admission. This way we can meet, chat about genealogy and eat!

To read more about Expo, click on

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Church Record Sunday: Church Cookbooks

I understand if you’re wondering what Church Record Sunday has to do with Church Cookbooks, but let me explain.

Part of my wanting to write about this comes from having helped host a recipe chat on GenealogyWise this week. I loved hearing the family stories that went with the recipes. Sharing these recipes was the blending of social history and genealogy at its best. I also love the Geneabloggers Cookbook,, that Thomas MacEntee compiled with the recipes and stories from our fellow geneabloggers.

The Holidays remind me of cooking and longing for the women in my family who had their own kitchen specialties. I love women’s history and for me women’s history and women’s stories are linked to the household activities that they took such care in doing. Now, I think those who know me would testify to the fact that I do not enjoy the domestic arts. But when I think of the women in my family tree who I knew, I think of them connected to activities like cooking and quilting.

Women’s history is sometimes located in places we wouldn’t expect. A women’s “genealogy” source I talk about in presentations is the state quilt histories that were done in the last few decades that documented quiltmakers. These books are fabulous because they contain women’s biographies and often pictures as well as their art.

Church Cookbooks are another memento of the work women do. They contain women’s names, stories and their recipes. These cookbooks give us a glimpse into what their lives were like.

The unfortunate thing about Church Cookbooks is they are the step-child of the book world. They are self-published so they do not leave a lasting impression in any standardized indexes or catalogs. There’s no telling who has published one and how many they published. They can be difficult to track down. However, they can be found in places like eBay and used bookstores. But as a source they can be near possible to locate.

Not all sources are perfect and this is certainly the case with the humble Church Cookbook. But it’s a great reminder that we too may have these vintage books with the names of women who are the ancestors of someone else. And these books may be one of the only sources where a woman left her mark.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Church Record Sunday: Pew Deeds

One day as I was chatting with a GenealogyWise member and she told me of how she had been researching family members in a record of pew deeds. In her case, these records from colonial times gave her ancestor’s name and how much they paid for their pew at church.

According to Wikipedia, “in some churches, pews were installed at the expense of the congregants, and were their personal property; there was no general public seating in the church itself. In these churches, pew deeds recorded title to the pews, and were used to convey them.” (Wikipedia article on Pews,

One example of a Pew Register can be found on Google books at

This Register is for St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia from 1787-1791. This list provides the person’s name, which pew they were renting and how much they paid. A small explanation can be found before this list.

You can also find pew records at Family Search ( by doing a library keyword search for pew deed or pew.

This is just one more type of church record that may be available for your ancestor.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

WorldVitalRecords Newsletter

Just to let you know, this is a shameless promotion of myself. But this is a great resource that I think everyone should know about.

As many of you know, I am the editor of the WorldVitalRecords newsletter. This is a free, weekly newsletter that has a lot of great information (in my humble opinion) and best of all did I mention it is free?

Every week there is information about WorldVitalRecords including new databases, review of databases, news from WorldVitalRecords and GenealogyWise and a product spotlight. There is also a feature article having to do with some aspect of genealogy and a GenTip.

This week's newsletter will feature an article from my friend and fellow genealogist, Jean Wilcox Hibben entitled Doing Genealogy Research with a Disability. (Jean's website is at

Upcoming articles will include Getting Started in German Genealogy Research, Getting a Genealogical Education and case studies.

You can subscribe to the WorldVitalRecords newsletter by going to the website,, and clicking on Newsletter found at the top of the page in the blue toolbar. All you need to do is provide you email address and you're set! If you have any problems, please feel free to contact me.