Friday, February 26, 2010

The Wonderful World of Blogs: St George Expo Banquet

The St George Expo finished the day with a blogger banquet sponsored by Jean Wilcox Hibben and her business Circlemending,  Her theme, taken from the Wizard of Oz was meant to introduce participants to some social networking tools, namely blogs, Twitter and chat rooms, that can help them further their family history research.

Jean began by talking about how she blogs and what she blogs about.  This was a great introduction to the audience that gave them ideas what they could be doing.  Jean talked about her participation in Geneablogger,,  themes like Tombstone Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday, and Treasure Chest Thursday.  She discussed how one of her photos posted for Tombstone Tuesday resulted in a cousin of a cousin contacting her and providing her with information she didn't have.

Arlene Eakle,, presented some great information about why social networking is so important.  She made the point that never before have genealogists had the opportunity to connect and network with long lost cousins.  Twitter provides you the opportunity to post questions and provide information.  She talked about using Twitter to ask questions like, "Who has a photo of Jack Smith?"  Use Twitter to get your surnames out there and ask questions.

AC Ivory,,  explained about blogs and Twitter, giving the participants a look at how to blog and Twitter.  I think the fact that AC has used Twitter for only a month provided the audience with a fresh view that was helpful to some of the questions they may have had about why someone should Twitter.  AC talked about some of his questions about Twitter and what he had learned by using it.

Well, and then there was me.  I really just provided a super short intro to chats and specifically the GenealogyWise Chat Room.  I have to say I love the opportunities that chat rooms provide and the education and networking provided through that social network experience.

I think the overall message was, don't be afraid of social networking.  Social networking provides genealogists with new opportunities to reach out and find cousins and be found.  Anyone can use social networking, why not give it a try and see how it can further your genealogical research.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2 More Days to the St. George Family History Expo

It's almost time for the 6th Annual Family History Expo. Although the Family History Expos website,, is down due to a problem with their website provider, the Expo will go on. Registration begins at 7am on Friday and the Expo runs from 8am to 6 pm on Friday and Saturday.

There's a lot to look forward to at the Expo. There's the vendors, presentations and the Friday night dinner where will go to the "Wonderful Wizard of Blogs."

Can't go to the St. George Expo? Consider one of the other Expos going on this year. Going to conferences is an important part of adding to your genealogical research knowledge. It's a great way to bust down some brickwalls.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Some Links

Yesterday I presented to the Ventura County Genealogical Society.  I wanted to provide some links that I talked about that didn't get into the handout here so everyone could see them.

Local Catholic Church and Family History at

Religion & Churches, Cyndi’s List at

Women of Vision, Index of Catholic Nuns in Australia at

In Family Search,,  to find Church Records do a library catalog subject or Keyword search for the name of the religion or do a locality search and then click on Church History or Church Records.

Nu? What’s New? A Jewish Genealogy E-Zine

Beverly Whitaker’s Genealogy Tutor on Church Records

Locating Church Records by Val D. Greenwood

Church Records: Genealogical Clues by Myra Vanderpool Gormley

FamilySearch Wiki has various research topics including German Church Records,; Church Records in Albania,; Ireland Methodist Church Records, and more.  Go to the Wiki ( and use the search engine to find the information about the religion you are researching.

Seventh-day Adventist Obituary Index,

Mountain West Digital Library,


Mennonite Genealogy,


Humling, V. (1995). U.S. Catholic sources: a diocesan research guide. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry.

Warner, M. D. L. W., Munnick, H. D., Beckham, S. D., & Munnick, A. R. (1972). Catholic Church records of the Pacific Northwest. St. Paul, Or: French Prairie Press.

Sperry, Kip (2007). A Guide to Mormon Family History Sources. Utah: My, Incorporated.

Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy (1994). Genealogical Publishing, Inc.

Berry, Ellen Thomas and Berry, David. Our Quaker Ancestors: Finding them in Quaker Records (2002). Genealogical Publishing Company.

Church Records by Elizabeth Crabtree Wells, In The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy (2006). Ingram Publishing Services.

Vosburgh, Roydon Woodward. Early New York church records; a report and digest of the records transcribed by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 1918 to 1920.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On the Bookshelf: Finding Oprah's Roots. Finding Your Own

I must confess that I am a big fan of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  I loved his PBS series, African American Lives. So when I was at the library the other day I decided to check out the book, Finding Oprah's Roots: Finding Your Own.

Gates states that he wrote this book as a response to the many people who came up to him and asked about how they too could research their ancestry.  But I would caution that this is not your typical genealogical how to book.  There are no easy to follow instructions that take you from one step to the next.  In this book, Gates uses the power of storytelling, telling the story of Oprah's life and ancestry, to show what you could do with your own family history.  Yes, he talks about resources but they are in the context of how they were used to find information on Oprah's family tree.  This is probably not a book for the beginner because of its lack of clear concise steps.  But it is a good book to remind someone who is already pursuing their genealogy, what can be found.

The best part of the book is the weaving of genealogy with history.  Gates is a historian.  He has looked at  people in relation to trends, migrations, etc.  He talks about genealogy being the study of individuals, their lives, what they have done, how they lived. In this book he takes some of the individual facts from Oprah's history and explains them in the context of what is going on in history.  He talks about one of her ancestors who was able to buy land and farm.  This story is made more meaningful  in the context of Reconstruction and the harsh reality of sharecropping. This is how the story of your ancestor's life comes alive-by including it in historical context.  Adding social history to your family history. 

Gate's book reminds one the importance of adding that social history, learning what was going on in the history of the world and how it affected your ancestor's life. His book is a good reminder that we are genealogists but we are also historians.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On the Bookshelf: The Jews of Sing Sing

I finished reading The Jews of Sing Sing on my Kindle last night.  This book by Ron Arons shares the story of his own ancestor who spent time in Sing Sing as well as other Jewish prisoners who spent time in the famous New York prison. 

This book is the result of an interesting research project that Arons tackled.  He took information he was able to gather about Jewish prisoners in Sing Sing and then conducted genealogical research on the prisoners including looking at census data, World War I draft registrations, newspaper articles, court records, civil registrations and more. 

A few things struck me as I was reading this book.  One is that people have always been pretty much the same.  They are motivated by the same things and they commit crimes as they always have.  This is the story of dysfunctional families, youth offenders, illegal substances and gang activity. Our ancestors were not all angels.

The other thing that I have been contemplating centers around Arons' discussion about bigamy.  He discusses the reason that bigamy occurred in the early 20th century was because of common law marriage, the inability of partners to prove that they were married, and the prohibitive cost of divorce.

I tend to think that bigamy happened a lot more than we realize.  Not only for the reasons Arons cites but also because of the burden of proof you needed in a divorce as well as how easy it was to just get up one day and walk away.  I've seen this in some of the research I've done.  Two of my clients had a fathers and a grandfather who just left one day and never returned.  In one case the father only moved to the next county and in the other he came to America.  But in both cases the men married women without dissolving their first marriage.  Sometimes there may not be divorce papers because the couple never officially separated.

Arons book is available on his website, and on Amazon.  This particular book is available for download to your Kindle.

I'm interested in reading Arons' second book which looks to be a result of what he learned researching The Jews of Sing Sing.  His website says that, Wanted! U.S. Criminal Records, "is your one-stop reference for information sources about criminals from America’s past. WANTED! lists archives, libraries, courts and online sites containing numerous sets of criminal information..." 

Wanted! is only available from Arons' website at .

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Valentine's Day Edition


Happy Valentine's Day!
Yes, it's a great day to spend with the one you love but it is also a great day for some genealogical research!  Why not try to find some marriage records today?  Here are some idea for finding them online.

  • Go to WorldVitalRecords or Ancestry and search by locality or record type to see what marriage records they have available.  Sometimes searching just using a name is not enough.  Search through individual collections and you may receive additional results. 
  • Check out the website GenWed for links to online marriage records and indexes for the United States and the UK.
  •  Check out the website for the state archives/state library for the state your ancestor got married in.  Some do have online marriage indexes, including Washington State and Illinois. Utah has a good research guide to marriage records.
If you can't find the marriage records online remember to check the Family History Library Catalog on FamilySearch for the locality your are researching.  You can then look for marriage records.  Those that are on microfilm can be ordered from your local Family History Center.

You can also look for information about where to order vital records from  They provide information about when vital records began and state and county information that you need to order them.  I recommend clicking on the link for the county website and reading about any requirements for requesting vital records like notarized statements or the need for a copy of your driver's license.

Don't forget to also look for church records in the Family History Library catalog.  Churches might be an additional resource or the only resource for finding proof of a marriage. Contact the church where your ancestor attended, a regional archive of the church, a church's museum or archive, or a university affiliated with the church for possible marriage records.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Google Books and My Library

Anyone who knows me, can confirm that I am a huge fan of Google Books. Whenever I give my presentation on Using Google for Genealogy, I get really excited telling everyone about all that Google Books can do for your research. One of the great feature of Google Books, aside from the digitized books, is My Library. My Library allows you to save books that you have found on Google Books so you can find them easily in the future.  It also allows you to sort the books into categories.

To use My Library you must have a Google Account which is free and just requires your email address and a password. Your Google Account can be used in conjunction with many different Google services including Blogger.

I should begin by saying that if you are not already using Google Books for your genealogy, stop what you are doing and go there now! Search on your ancestor's surname, locality, religion, etc.

The My Library feature allows you to take books that you have found on Google Books and save them on a page where you can peruse them whenever you want.


Once you find a Google Book you are interested in, you can click on it and then save it to "My Library."  My Library is organized according to Bookshelves.  Google has labeled some of the bookshelves as you can see on the left hand side of this screenshot.

Google's labels include Favorites, Reading Now, To Read, Have Read and Reviewed.  Now if these labels don't work for you, you can create your own labels.  In this example, I created one called Missouri, so that I can place all the books I need for my Missouri research on one bookshelf.  This is a great way to organize the books you need for each genealogy project.  Use a bookshelf for each family line or locality.  You can save any book on Google Books to My Library, even those which no preview or only a snippet view.

To read Google's FAQ for My Library see,

Friday, February 12, 2010

Final Call for Papers for Family History Expos in Colorado and Midwest

**Note from Gena- I will be at these Expos presenting and wanted to pass the word along that you can still have a little time to submit to present at these two Expos.

Final Call for Papers, Family History Expo

Colorado Family History Expo. June 25-26, 2010
Midwest Family History Expo, July 30-31, 2010

Family History Expos,, is looking for presenters for their Colorado and Midwest Expos. Please read the following information for more details.

Call for Papers deadline for the Colorado Family History Expo is February 15, 2010. Deadline for the Midwest Family History Expo is March 1, 2010.

To learn more about other upcoming Family History Expos see

Reasons to participate:
• Family History Expos is a beacon in a sea of family history information, every participant makes our light brighter and together we can help many others successfully locate their family history
• Presenters have an opportunity to share their expertise to large groups of family history enthusiasts
• Networking with other professionals and potential clients can grow your business
• Speaking about your family history products and services to attendees in a classroom setting has great impact and lets our attendees get to know you better
• Presenters can sharpen skills by teaching and learning from others
• Consider your time as an investment advertising to let people know who you are
Speaker Emphasis:
• The theme for 2010 will be "Let Your Light Shine!" We want excited presenters who have expertise in a subject and want to share their light of knowledge with others
• Presentations should be submitted for beginner, experienced, and advanced researchers
• Classes directed towards building presentation skills are needed for librarians, family history consultants, and those desiring to become professional speakers
Topics Desired:
• Creating reasonable research goals based on repositories, methodology, skill building and analysis
• Increasing organizational skills using charts, forms, and computer software
• Building strong research skills, analysis, and presentation of findings for all levels of experience
• Discuss Internet and email for beginning to advanced users
• Using social networks to successfully connect with others who have common interests and research goals
• Geographic topics based on location, cultural awareness, ethnicity, immigration, emigration, and naturalization
• Advanced topics focused on special collections, advanced methodologies, and new innovative tools for expert analysis
Submission Requirements:
• Submit up to eight presentation proposals per Expo
• Subject line of email submissions must include Expo Name and Date;
Example: Submission Atlanta Family History Expo November 12-13, 2010
• Please include the following information with your presentation proposals:
Company Name
City, State Zip


Digital Photo

Presentation Title

Audience Level (Beginner, Experienced, or Advanced)

Topic Summary

Detailed Description

Basic Presentation Outline

Special Considerations
Direct questions and submission proposals to
Expertise Definitions:
• (Beginner) ~ Just getting started with family history research or a new research subject
• (Experienced) ~ Have spent time doing research already, familiar with some of the tools, eager to learn more
• (Advanced) ~ Could teach a class or give personal assistance to a beginner, experienced, or advanced researcher
Sample Presentation Titles and Topic Summary:
• 1. Online Pedigree Charts and Other Great Forms (Beginner)
This class will focus on using various charts and forms to aid in the process of basic research. It will guide the student into a path leading to proper analysis of information as they move through the research process. Examples of different forms will be presented.
• 2. The Ethnic Experience (Experienced)
This lecture will focus on US migration routes and settlement patterns. We will examine ethnic and religious migrations and identify the key record sources and maps needed to help you discover your ancestor's movements in America and to accurately document their lives. Many online resources will be investigated.
• 3. Beyond the Basics to Success (Experienced-Advanced)
The focus of this class is on mastering US probate records. We will explore testate vs. intestate estates, types of wills, unrecorded wills, probate proceedings and the myriad related records including administrations, petitions, bonds, inventories, accounts, property divisions, publications, releases, guardianships and a vast number of miscellaneous records.
Additional Information:
In order to keep attendance costs to a minimum Family History Expos does not pay speakers or reimburse for food, travel, or lodging expenses. Presenters will, however, receive the full Expo registration, complete Expo syllabus on CD, and a gift pack.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Free Online Classes at Family Search

There's so much to like about Family Search. Between the Family History Library catalog, the indexed and digitized records, research guides and more, you can spend a lot of time researching your family history.

But did you know that they offer free online classes? If you go to, and then look at the bottom of the page, under the column heading Family History Library, there is a link for Free Online Classes. Click on that link and you will see a list of classes covering:

England Basic Research
Germany Research
Ireland Research
Italy Research
Mexico Research (In Spanish)
Research Principals and Tools
Russia Research
U.S. Research

What a great resource. Go try it! Afterall, it's free.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On the Bookshelf: Finding your Father's War: A Practical Guide to Research

Monday's mail brought with it a book I was looking forward to, to assist me in my research for more information on my family who served in World War II. Finding Your Father's War: A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II U.S. Army by Jonathan Gawne is a research guide and history that will help any genealogist researching for WWII era Army service members. This book does not cover the other branches of military service, although you still might find it useful.

There are lots of photos in this book. He goes into a lot of detail and uses photos to show you the different types of insignia that was used and what they meant. He starts of with a history of WWII and explains what it was like to be in the Army.

I have not finished reading this book but it is a great genealogical reference that I think needs more attention. This book's author has written other military histories but what I like about this book is he is sharing information he has learned in researching his own family.

You can read more about the book at Amazon's website, Though you can purchase it at other retailers besides Amazon.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Want to go to the St. George Family History Expo?

Holly Hansen of Family History Expos has been kind enough to give all the Bloggers of Honor, 2 tickets to the St. George Expo. The St. George Expo is taking place at the Dixie Center on February 26 and 27th. You can learn more about it at

I have 2 tickets to give away. So the first 2 people who email me will receive the tickets.

If you can't go to Expo, remember that you can follow the Bloggers of Honor via their blogs and Twitter accounts. I will be tweeting about presentations, vendors and more as will other bloggers. You can get links to the Bloggers of Honor and their blogs and Twitter accounts from the Family History Expos website.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Church Record Sunday: The Christian and Missionary Alliance Archives

I want to publicly thank blogger Miriam Midkiff (AnceStories, for telling me about this week's Church Record Sunday resource.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance was founded in the latter 19th century by "Rev. A.B. Simpson, a Presbyterian pastor from Canada. Simpson believed that Christ was not only his Savior, but also his Sanctifier, and Healer through dramatic spiritual encounters that changed the direction of his life. Formed as a missionary society and not a denomination, early Alliance congregations were known as “branches” and were made up of members from most major denominations."

The archive located at, provides a variety of online resources including the Alliance Magazine (1882-2006), documents, periodicals, annual reports, timelines and photographs.

If you need more than what is available on their website, their archives is located in Colorado Springs and you can research there or contact the offices for some research assistance.

This is a great website for those who have ancestors who were part of this missionary society. It would be great if more churches followed this example and created online archives for researchers.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

52 Weeks of Genealogy Sources: Week 5, Diaries and Journals

Now I know what you are going to say.  Your ancestor did not leave behind a diary or journal.  That's Ok, mine didn't either.  But guess what, someone who was a neighbor, an associate or some collateral relative might have left some writing behind that describe their life and their community.

One way to find out is by using the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC),  This Library of Congress manuscript collection catalog provides a one-stop source for searching collections throughout the United States.  Now, it does not cover every possible collection in the United States, but it's a great place to start.  You can check out what institutions participate by clicking on the link for List of Participating Repositories on the left hand side column of the homepage.

To search NUCMC, Click on the link Searching on  OCLC WorldCat located in the middle column of the homepage. You can then conduct a search using a keyword.  I would suggest searching on the locality your ancestor lived in.  Then you can see what manuscripts are available for that location.

You might be able to locate diaries and journals by searching the collections of a state historical society, local museums and other regional archives. You may also want to try university libraries in the area that your ancestor lived.

Other people's diaries and journals can provide valuable insight to your ancestor's life and the community they were a member of.  Yes, this is a source that does not have a convenient index, but it can be a true genealogical gem.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Home Sources: Books

We all love books.  But do you have any books that once belonged to other family members?  If so, these can be a valuable home source. 

I have a textbook that was my grandmothers when she was in 6th grade and then a book that was hers as an adult.  It's nice to have a copy of her signature (she wrote her name in both books.)  But what is also nice is that she didn't always go by the same surname as a child (her mother divorced and remarried) and so I have at least one item where I know what surname she was using during what time period.

And what about those "bookmarks" that may have been placed in a book.  Yesterday, while looking through a book from my parents, a postcard from Reader's Digest fell out announcing a gift to them by my great grandmother.  Now, this isn't earth shattering but, if I didn't know the information, I now have a postcard with my parent's names and old address as well as my great grandmother's name.  This would also be important if I didn't know about when my great-grandmother passed away.  I would know from the postcard at least when she was still alive. People use all kinds of things for bookmarks, photos, correspondence, documents, etc... 

So checkout your bookshelf and the bookshelf of family members.  There just might be some great genealogy finds hidden in the  books.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Home Sources: Newspaper Clippings

We all have them. They usually are cut out very carefully so that nothing outside of the article itself can be seen. They may be about a funeral, an anniversary, a celebration or an event. They may even be about our family's darker side, an arrest, a court trial or such.

Newspaper articles are something that almost all families have.  They may be stuck in a scrapbook, photo album or just mingled in with other family papers.  What is important is to gather them up and copy them and use them as clues for your family history.

I recommend that you color copy each newspaper article (the color copy comes out better than a black and white copy) or scan it.  Store the original in an acid free sheet protector and don't let it touch any other articles or papers.  Newspaper isn't meant to last long, it's made from paper that is acidic and thus deteriorates.  That's why they turn yellow.  It will damage any other paper it touches.

These newspapers are often hard for us to cite in our genealogy programs because they lack the information from their original source. You could use online newspaper databases through genealogy providers like WorldVitalRecords, Ancestry, Newspaper Archive, or GenealogyBank to look for newspapers for your ancestor's locality.  You could also see if the state has a newspaper digitization project.  A state archive/library may also have newspapers available on microfilm.  The Kansas State Historical Society,,  has a large collection of newspapers form all over the United States and you can borrow these microfilms through inter-library loan.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Home Sources: Special Occasion Photos

Photographs are great for what they tell us about our families.  Most of us have the infamous unidentified family photos. In those cases we have to see what the photo itself can tell us.

There are photos taken for various reasons and revolving around all kinds of topics; events, celebrations, milestones, family group photos, etc. Since no one writes why they took a photo on the back of the photograph, sometimes we are lucky enough to be able to figure the "why" out just by studying what is depicted in the photograph.

This is one of those photographs with no identifying information.  But upon closer inspection you can tell that this happy couple is posing with a lot of silver.  One could hypothesis that this might be a picture of them with gifts from their 25th anniversary party.  This is a photograph from a collection of family documents, not of my family, I purchased on eBay. And in that collection is an invitation to a 25th wedding anniversary, course that doesn't mean that the photo and that invitation are from the same event.

The gifts on the table also include greeting cards and even a Western Union Telegram. What I especially like is that next to the telegram is a travel iron that someone gave the couple. It is the item that's in the box. (Side note: Can you imagine being at your anniversary and someone gave you a travel iron?  "Gee, thanks." Well it is partially silver.)

This type of picture might also help you identify family heirlooms that you or another family member have inherited.  I have also seen photos like this where a woman has stood next to a  table of her prized collection. These photos are great and they provide us with some ideas of what our ancestor treasured.

The point is, take out those old photos and start looking at them closely to get clues to family events, homes, anything that will help you  learn more about their lives and even provide ideas for documents to further your research. 

Monday, February 01, 2010

St. George Family History Expo is this Month

I will be at the St. George Family History Expo at the end of this month, February 26-27, 2010.  To learn more about Expo, see their website at

It's probably no secret to many of my readers that I have attended the St. George Expo since it began.  I think Family History Expos are a great, inexpensive way to attend a conference.  You will have your choice of speakers presenting on all aspects of genealogy.  The Vendor Hall provides you with the opportunity to try out software, have your family tree printed, talk to service providers and learn more about what's new.

I will be at the St. George Expo, both as a presenter and as a Blogger of Honor.  So please look for my posts on Twitter  about the conference.  You can search for posts tagged with #fhexpo for everything posted about the Expo. My Twitter identification is genaortega.

Let me know if you are attending the St. George Expo.  Hope to see you there.