Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Genealogical Treasures in Reminisce Magazine

I had a chance to look at a Reminisce Magazine yesterday.  If you haven't seen this magazine you should check it out. This magazine has everything from postcards, advertisements, photos and such about the United States from the 1920s to the 1950s.You can check them out at their website and even subscribe to their free newsletter.

What struck me was that in the back there was a reader's section and some of the readers had written in and were sharing photographs, looking for descendants of those pictured. 

Just goes to show you that genealogy and your ancestor's stuff is out there.  It's just a matter of finding it!

Monday, March 29, 2010

52 Weeks of Genealogy Sources: Week 8, 40 Ways to Find Vital Record Information

I was going through some old papers and found this list I started.  Now some of these documents may not give you an actual date but they may give you a clue. For example, land deeds aren't going to provide a death date but they may show a widow and/or her children selling land after her husband dies. An ancestor may be shown paying taxes year after year and then he disappears from the tax roll.

In some cases you can find the documents listed through an online subscription site or you may find them by researching at a library, archive or museum.  Don't forget to use NUCMC and PERSI as you research.

40 Ways to Find Vital Records Information

1.  State Vital Record Certificates
2.  World War I Draft Registration
3.  World War II Draft Registration (Old Man's Draft)
4.  Midwife Diary
5.  Military Pensions
6.  Birthday Books
7.  Scrapbooks
8.  Social Security Death Index
9.  U.S. Federal Census
10. State Census
11. Religious Census 
12. Newspapers
13. Cemetery Records
14. Funeral Home Records
15. Grave Stones
16. County History Books (Mug Books)
17. Land Records
18. Plat Maps
19. Funeral Cards
20. Photographs
21. Divorce Records
22. Passport
23. Military Records
24. Immigration Records
25. Minister Journals
26. Church Records
27. School Records
28. School Census
29. Journals/Diaries
30. Cemetery Transcriptions
32. Work Pension (i.e., Railroad Retirement)
33. Mortality Schedule
34. Freedman Bank Records
35. Ship Passenger Records
36. Alumni Lists
37. Yearbooks
38. Needlework Sampler/Quilt (Friendship Quilt with names and dates)
39. Medical Records
40.  Tax Records

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Records of Immigrants

I'm re-reading Lou Dennis Szucs' book They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins. One of the ways Lou recommends finding immigration information is through church records. She points out that when someone came to America they would have found some comfort in attending a religious congregation that mirrored the one back home, i.e., spoke the same language, others in the membership also were immigrants, etc.

Her advice continues about using church records, "Whenever possible, study immigrant church registers; patterns sometimes emerge that will identify the foreign emigration point for an entire group. For example, while looking for an immigrant in Catholic church records in a small Indiana town, a genealogist searched baptism and marriage entries in several ledgers.  The native towns for many of those receiving the sacraments were noted in the church registers, as were the native towns of the witnesses and sponsors. (Szucs, Loretto Dennis. They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, 1998. Page 61),

What struck me as I was reading this is that you need to "think outside of the box" when it comes to records.  You may have in your mind that you need to look at church records for vital statistical information like birth, marriage and death-but they may offer you much more than that.  That's why it's so important to seek out many different kinds of records and see what they may say about your family and their community.  Look for patterns, not just what the document appears to say.  Look for other records that document your ancestor's collateral kin, friends and neighbors.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

52 Weeks of Genealogy Sources: Week 7, Family Legends

We all have them.  You know, the story that ties your family in with some famous or infamous person.  Maybe your family story includes a royal line.  Maybe you are not related to a famous person but your grandfather just hung out with the person. Although family legends are not a "source" they are a clue, be it true or false, that needs to be researched.

But how do you go about researching that family story passed down several generations?  Here are some ideas to help you prove or disprove that tale.

    * If the person was an entertainer, they may have had a name change or have used several different names.  Some biographical information about them may have been embellished.

    * Family stories about celebrity relations might have snowballed over time and may not resemble the original story.

    * Research for famous relations most likely means research into collateral relatives.

    * Through the Freedom of Information Act, you can request information from the file of a deceased family member. The FBI's web site has instructions and forms for accessing that information at These FBI files can also be accessed through The FBI's web site includes an alphabetical listing of historical figures, famous people and criminals whose FBI file you can look at online. Celebrities including Gracie Allen, Desi Arnez, Gene Autry, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and the Beatles are part of this online database.

    * As you research, put together a timeline and consider what types of documents the person should be mentioned in.  Famous people should show up in newspapers in the locality where they work/live and throughout the U.S.  Depending on what they were famous for, their story may be told in a specialty museum, or in a historians’ history or biography.

    * Some family stories are common to many families.  For example, I have had numerous people tell me that their great-grandfather rode with Jesse James.  So how do you confirm such information?  Ask various family members and see where the story is consistent or falters a bit.  Try to get as much detail as possible because you will need to research the ancestor and Jesse James. Consider what parts of the story could be true or waht doesn't hold up to muster.  For example, was grandpa the right age to have been a contemporary of Jesse James? Was he living in the same places as Jesse James? Is there any proof of his doing other activities during this time period? 

    * The best part of being related to someone famous, or infamous, is that most likely historians/scholars have written books about them.  Seek these out.  Also look for scholarly articles written in journals.  Then check out those bibliographies and read those books too.

Need some websites to check out?  Try these-

Celebrity Family Trees Celebrity Trees
Presidential Family Trees
Celebrity Genealogy

Random web sites that include famous people listings

Find a Grave
Political Graveyard 
Genealogical Relationships of US Presidents

Libraries and Such

California Libraries Catalog
World Cat
Museums USA 
American Association of Museums

Books and articles

Finding your Famous and Infamous Ancestors by Rhonda McClure.  ISBN: 9781558706545
Researching your Famous and Infamous Ancestors by George Morgan

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Church Record Sunday: The Association of Religion Data Archives

According to the About page for the Association of Religion Data Archives, "The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) strives to democratize access to the best data on religion. Founded as the American Religion Data Archive in 1997 and going online in 1998, the initial archive was targeted at researchers interested in American religion. The targeted audience and the data collection have both greatly expanded since 1998, now including American and international collections and developing features for educators, journalists, religious congregations, and researchers. Data included in the ARDA are submitted by the foremost religion scholars and research centers in the world. Currently housed in the Social Science Research Institute, the College of Liberal Arts, and the Department of Sociology at the Pennsylvania State University, the ARDA is funded by the Lilly Endowment, the John Templeton Foundation and the Pennsylvania State University."

This website has a bunch of great articles and facts that can help you learn more about your ancestor's religion.  From the homepage, click on the button on the left labeled The Learning Center. Under Learning Resources check out Research Tools.

Under Research Tools you will find information about American religious denominations including a family tree which shows where different denominations came from and groups that are outgrowths, including the Baptists, Lutherans, Mennonites, Methodists, Presbyterians, UCC, and the Restoration Movement. Information such as statistics and surveys are also part of this section of the website. Check out the Religion Dictionary located in the Learning Center for definitions having to do with religious terminology and churches.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Have You Checked Out Google Translate Lately?

Google has a great free service that was called Language Tools. It was located on the right hand side of the Google search box under the link for Advanced Search. But now Google has improved what you can do with this feature and moved it under the "more" link at the top of the Google homepage.

Now called Google Translate, Google will still help you translate text and websites and now provides you even more options. You can also use your Google Account to access the Translator Toolkit.

I've used Google Translate to translate letters I have written, comments from Spanish speaking family members posted to Facebook, and even to read foreign gravestones. This free service is a great addition to your genealogical research.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Researching Pioneer Women: A Few Links

Today is International Women's Day and we are in the midst of Women's History Month.  It seems like a good time share some links about researching your female ancestors.

The following are some links for researching the pioneer women in your ancestry.

Manuscript Collections and Digital Collections

(Available through Ancestry or Heritage Quest).


Kansas State Historical Society--Large collection of newspapers from throughout the United States, available through interlibrary loan.


Jeffrey, J. R. (1979). Frontier women: the trans-Mississippi West, 1840-1880. American century series. New York: Hill and Wang

Armitage, S. H., & Jameson, E. (1987). The Women's West. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Peavy, L. S., & Smith, U. (1996). Pioneer women: the lives of women on the frontier. New York: Smithmark.

Holmes, K. L., & Duniway, D. (1983). Covered wagon women: diaries & letters from the western trails, 1840-1890. Glendale, Calif: A.H. Clark.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Church Record Sunday: Archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

What a terrific website the Archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is. Aside from their archival catalog and their archival bookshelf, digitized books you can download, there are great digital exhibits for you to peruse.

Those with Evangelical Lutheran Chicago ancestors will be interested in their Genealogy Guide for Chicago located at . Categorized into Synods,Councils, Regions and Churches you can look at maps, vintage photographs and information about the various churches. This is a great resource; it would be fabulous for other religions to copy.

Other digital exhibits include, In the Face of the West Wind: Rural Churches in the Midwest; Images of Luther and It Didn't all Begin with Ordination (a look at women in the church's history).

One of the digitial publications they have is the periodical Lutheran Women's Work, with issues digitized from 1921-1954. According to the website this periodical contained, "...feature articles pertaining to missions, sections on home and foreign mission work and missionaries, a young woman's page, department bulletins, convention reports, and the monthly program for auxiliaries."

When searching this website don't forget to check out the drop down menus on the top gray toolbar. These links include information about the Archives and their resources, their holdings, bibliographies, links, and even genealogy information and how individual churches should preserve records. The archives does have some microfilm available for loan.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Genealogy Conference Time

There are so many great opportunities for attending conferences during this time of the year.  Here are two that I've received information about.  I love conferences because it is a chance to learn and flex your genealogical research muscle.  The following is from Family History Expos and NGS.

Immigrtion Expo
March 18, 2010

The spirit of migration is alive and well. The past, present, and future of international migration will come together in one location on March 18, in Salt Lake City at an unprecedented Immigration Family History Expo. To register, please see our website at

World Trade Center Utah President and CEO Lew Cramer will join the Center’s Executive Vice President and COO, Elizabeth Goryunova in an opening address at the event to be held at Historic Masonic Temple, 650 E. South Temple. At the door registration begins at 8 a.m., the day’s session will begin at 8:30 a.m. Cramer and Goryunova will focus on the importance of migration, immigration, and emigration today and in the future.

“I love tracking the movement of peoples throughout the world it is a thrilling and invigorating experience,” Holly T. Hansen, president and founder of Family History Expos, Inc. said. “It’s also a necessary process for those who want to come to a deep understanding of their ancestors and themselves.”

The Immigration Family History Expo, hosted by Family History Expos, Inc., will feature notable speakers throughout the day. The event will culminate with author, producer, and director Lorie Conway’s in-depth look in to the history of immigration to America. Her presentation will include a special screening of Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America’s Immigrant Hospital.
 Other notable speakers include:

  • Brigham Young University Professor Fred E. Woods. Woods has held a Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding since 2005. Woods has also been a visiting professor at several universities and has lectured at many academic institutions in the United States and internationally. Professor Woods is the author or co-author of seven books and many articles, including three dozen on the topic of Mormon immigration/emigration in the 19th century. He is the editor and compiler of the Mormon Immigration Index CD released by the LDS Church in 2000. Dr. Woods will release his Mormon Migration website this year from the BYU Harold B. Lee Library.
  • Arlene Eakle, PhD, president and founder of The Genealogical Institute, Inc. Eakle is a consultant, lecturer, author and researcher specializing in the geographic areas of New York, Southern U.S., British Isles, Switzerland, and parts of Germany.
  • Kory L. Meyerink, MLS, AG, FUGA, vice-president of ProGenealogists, Inc. in Salt Lake City. Meyerink has worked with Ancestry and the Salt Lake City Family History Library. He is past president of the Utah Genealogical Association and founder of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. Meyerink is a nationally-known speaker, editor of Printed Sources, and adjunct faculty for BYU and San Jose State University.
  • Holly T. Hansen, Family History Expos, Inc. Founder and President, is a lifelong resident of Croydon, Utah. She has been a family history educator for more than 15 years. Although she sponsors elaborate events, she also enjoys helping people one-on-one as they learn how to make technology work for them. An author, lecturer, and editor, Hansen devotes time every day to education.

8:00 a.m. Registration Begins
8:45 a.m. Welcome and Recognition of sponsors by Donna Brown
8:50 a.m. Keynote Address by Lew Cramer and Elizabeth Goryunova

9:30 a.m. Grand opening of Exhibit Hall
10:00 a.m. An Immigrant’s Story by Holly T. Hansen
11:00 a.m. Break
11:30 a.m. Finding your Ancestor’s Immigration Records by  Kory L. Meyerink, A.G.
12:30 p.m. Lunch Break
1:30 p.m. Before Ellis Island: Using Little-known and Under-used Emigraton-Immigration Sources to Find Specific Places of Origin for your Ancestors by  Arlene H. Eakle, Ph.D.
2:30 p.m. LDS Immigration to American in the 19th Century by Fred Woods, Ph.D.
3:30 p.m. Break
4:00 p.m. Forgotten Ellis Island by  Lorie Conway
4:30 p.m. Screening of Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America's Immigrant Hospital
5:30 p.m. Book Signing and Prize Drawings
Exhibitors will be at the event to offer hands-on demonstrations and techniques and technology to help researchers trace their roots.
Extend Your Visit
Many researchers are planning to spend two extra days at the renowned Family History Library to apply all they have learned at the Immigration Family History Expo. Extend your stay and join us for this informal gathering at special rates negotiated by Family History Expos, Inc. for you at these Salt Lake hotels:
Baymont Inn and Suites - Salt Lake City Hotel
2080 W North Temple
Salt Lake City
, Utah 84116
Crystal Inn Hotel- Suites
W 500 S

Salt Lake City
, Utah 84101

Shilo Inn - Salt Lake City

206 South West Temple

Lake City, Utah 84101

Salt Lake Plaza Hotel at Temple Square

122 West South Temple
Salt Lake City
, Utah 84101

Red Lion Hotel

161 W 600 S

Salt Lake City
, Utah 84101
Marriott Hotel Downtown Salt Lake City
75 South West Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
For links and details visit our website at
To register for the Immigration Family History Expo visit today or contact Family History Expos, Inc., PO Box 187, Morgan, UT 84050, 801-829-3295, .

Our Sponsors include:
FamilySearch, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree,, Generation Maps and Ancestral Quest.

April 28- May 1, 2010

Register now for the 2010 NGS Family History Conference today! The early-bird registration discount ends on Monday, 8 March 2010. In addition to enjoying a $35 discount, only early birds have the opportunity to order a printed syllabus. (Everyone will receive a syllabus on CD.) NGS members get even deeper discounts, so this is a great time to join. 

The opening session at this year’s conference will be held on Wednesday morning, 28 April 2010, at 8:00AM. The keynote address is the premier of a video tour that provides a behind-the-scenes look at the world-famous Granite Mountain Records Vault. FamilySearch stores microfilmed and digital genealogical information at this archival facility located in the mountains outside Salt Lake City. This secure facility was designed to protect the collection of genealogical records from decay, natural disasters, and manmade calamities. The vault includes 65,000 square feet of space carved 700 feet into the side of a solid granite mountain. The climate in the facility is carefully controlled to maintain optimal storage conditions for the records, which represent 100 countries and 170 different languages. The Granite Mountain Records Vault currently stores approximately 3.5 billion images on 2.4 million rolls of microfilm, plus nearly a petabyte of digital data. And there is still room for growth as FamilySearch continues to preserve and share the records of the world. The vault is not open to the public, so conference attendees will be treated to something they cannot see in person.

Following the video, Jay L. Verkler, president and CEO of FamilySearch and managing director of the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, will continue the tour with an exploration of trends and resources that will enable these and other records to be viewed worldwide.

All full-conference registrants will be entered in a drawing to win a seven-night stay at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel at Temple Square, courtesy of the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, which is located right next door to the Family History Library. Be sure to attend the opening session to find out if you are the winner. The winner must be present at the opening session to claim the prize.
Registration details and the conference program can be found online at

Thursday, March 04, 2010

52 Weeks of Genealogy Sources: Week 6, Lunatic Inquest Book

Now before everyone gets mad at me for suggesting that they had ancestors who would have been listed in such a source as a lunatic inquest book, hear me out.  Our ancestors were institutionalized for lots of reasons.  They may have been sent to a mental health hospital because of being elderly with no one to take care of them, because they were poor, because they were obnoxious teenagers, because of a medical condition like epilepsy, even because they were (gasp!) a woman!

Now these kinds of records might be in a courthouse, state archive or as a transcription found in a book.  I've seen a book of those committed to an asylum at the courthouse.  I've also seen records from the local mental  hospital at a state archive.

So the other day I was looking through some records on WorldVitalRecords* and noticed Graves County, Kentucky Lunatic Inquest Book, 1894 - 1901This is a transcription, not a digitized image of the court records. What struck me was the descriptions of those listed. 

These records hold a lot of information including information on family members, income, and behavior.  Here's one example from page 13 (the image says a different page number but the page within the database is 13).

This particular woman sleeps with "two guns...and won't sleep without the weapons." While we don't have an official diagnoses for her, the information provides a picture of her life.  The cause of her raging seems to be chalked up to "female troubles."  We are also told that the way she is restrained is  "Only by holding her and scaring by threats."  Those suffering from mental illnesses, or even those where were institutionalized with little reason, were not always treated very well or with any respect.

My main reason for sharing this resource is to remind you that there are a lot of sources out there and you may not consider some of them because they don't seem applicable.  But just with my own ancestors and that of a cousin I have seen those that were institutionalized for being a woman, for being elderly and for being an immigrant.  No, I'm not a psychiatrist but reading their records, it becomes apparent that the era's  prejudices and lack of legal protections allowed all sorts of people to be institutionalized.  

One time I was speaking to a medical records supervisor at a psychiatric hospital and she was telling me that for their records dating back to the19th century she had tons of records of women who were institutionalized simply because they were women.  Their husbands had the power, and right, to institutionalize them with little evidence.

*I am an employee of FamilyLink which owns WorldVitalRecords and I do have a free subscription to the site.