Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Women's Research Resource: American Women's History A Research Guide

Sometimes the biggest challenge in researching a topic is finding resources. Once you Google a phrase or keyword, what do you do next? In researching female ancestors, it is vital to research the historical era for what laws affected women and how women's lives were impacted by their roles as mothers, wives, daughters, widows, church members, employees, volunteers and more.

The website American Women's History: A Research Guide provides researchers with links to primary and secondary sources focused on women's history collections. One of the many great things about this site is the Subject Index which allows you to look through various subject keywords that describe women's lives and then find links. A link to the search engine for the Discovering American Women's History Online provides researchers with a digital collections of materials having to do with American women's history. This collections is searchable by keyword but also browseable by state, time period, subject, and primary source types.

A link to the Women's History Sources Blog provides you with a steady diet of new sources and ideas. This is a good one to add to your Google Reader.

Monday, November 28, 2011

New RootsMagic 5 Software Released

 **Note from Gena: I'm a big fan of RootsMagic so I was very happy to see this announcement when I woke up this morning.


Latest Version of Genealogy and Family Tree Software Now Available to the Public

SPRINGVILLE, Utah. — November 28, 2011 — RootsMagic, Inc. today announced the official release of RootsMagic 5, the latest version of the award-winning genealogy software which makes researching, organizing, and sharing your family history easy and enjoyable.  With this release comes an update to the popular “RootsMagic Essentials” free genealogy software.

Family History Made Easy

A July 2009 review of RootsMagic 4 by Family Tree Magazine said, “Probably the best all-around genealogy program, RootsMagic offers a winning combination of features for both casual and serious genealogists.”

Throughout it’s 10-year history, RootsMagic has helped people research and share their family trees with innovative features such as moving people from one file to another with your mouse, a SourceWizard to help you document your work, creating a Shareable CD to give to family and friends, and running RootsMagic off of a USB flash drive when you are away from home.  RootsMagic also received the award for “Easiest to Sync” from FamilySearch for their work in interfacing with that system.

New Features

RootsMagic 5 adds many new features while making existing features even easier to use.  “This release includes something for everybody,” said Bruce Buzbee, president.  “Whether you’re a grandma wanting to share your family history with grandkids or a professional researcher trying to organize your work, RootsMagic 5 has something new for you.”  New features include:
  • Timeline View - put a person’s life in context with events from their own life and from the lives of family members.
  • CountyCheck - confirm and correct the existence of a county, state, or country on any given date from a multi-national database.  It can even show you online maps of county boundaries for that date.
  • Research Manager - avoid “reinventing the wheel” by keeping track of research goals, sources, and results that you have collected on a person, family, or place
  • “On This Day” List - bring your family history to life and view family events along with famous births, deaths, and historical events for any given day of the year.
  • Media Tagging - tag your media with people, families, sources, or places.  For example, tag an image of a census record with the people, families, and places mentioned in the record as well as the census’ source citation.
  • Plus over 80 other enhancements and features

Free “RootsMagic Essentials”

RootsMagic 5 is also available in an updated, free edition named, “RootsMagic 5 Essentials”.  RootsMagic Essentials contains many core features from the RootsMagic software and the two products are fully-compatible with one another.  “Many people are curious about their family history and don’t know where to begin,” said Michael Booth, vice president.  “RootsMagic Essentials is the perfect way for someone to get started, risk-free.”  RootsMagic Essentials is available for download at

Available Now

RootsMagic 5 is now available online at or by calling 1-800-766-8762.  New users may purchase RootsMagic 5 for only $29.95.  Users of previous versions of RootsMagic and it’s predecessor, Family Origins may purchase RootsMagic 5 for the upgrade price of only $19.95.

About RootsMagic, Inc.

For over 20 years, RootsMagic, Inc. has been creating computer software with a special purpose- to unite families. One of our earliest products- the popular “Family Origins” software, introduced thousands of people to the joy and excitement of family history.
That tradition continues today with “RootsMagic”, our award-winning genealogy software which makes researching, organizing, and sharing your family history fun and easy. “Personal Historian” will help you easily write and preserve your life stories. “Family Reunion Organizer” takes the headaches out of planning those important get-togethers. And “Family Atlas” creates beautiful and educational geographic maps of your family history.

For more information, visit
Source: RootsMagic, Inc.

What's on My Kindle: November 2011

I've posted before about my obsession with reading and some of the books that I have on my Kindle. For those who are concerned about the loss of "real" books due to eReaders, take heart, not only do I buy copious amounts of digitized books for my Kindle and iPad, I also buy books from new and used booksellers both online and in brick and mortar stores. My family is currently waiting for me to die under a stack of books in the next big earthquake.

I am always interested in what other people are reading so I thought I would once again share some of the titles that I currently have on my Kindle. The following is simply a list, not a review of books. I review books for the genealogy newsletter GenWeekly so some of the books have been reviewed there. I read mostly non-fiction and my tastes encompass social history, religious history, food history, quilts,  women's history and genealogy. Feel free to leave a comment about what book/s you are currently enjoying.

Just a note: I've linked the title below to make it easier for you to find. I in no way benefit from the links, I am not an Amazon affiliate.

True Miracles with Genealogy by Anne Bradshaw (both volumes 1 and 2)

Genealogy Using Chicago Maps and Property Records by Jennifer Holik-Urban

The Big Genealogy Blog Book by Amy Coffin

Food and Everyday Life on Kentucky Family Farms, 1920-1950 by John Van Willigen and Anne Van Willigen

The Ballad of Tom Dooley: A Ballad Novel by Sharyn McCrumb

Legacy: The Story of Talula Gilbert Bottoms and her Quilts by Nancilu Burdick

Civil War Resources on the Internet by Nancy Hendrickson ( I actually have most of Nancy's ebooks)

Storied Dishes:What our Family Recipes Tell us About Who We Are and Where We've Been by Linda Murray Berzok

Stand Facing the Stove: The Story of the Women who gave American the Joy of Cooking by Anne Mendelson

Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America by Maureen Stanton

Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine by Andrew Smith

Now it's your turn. What's on your bookshelf?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Church Record Sunday: Unity Archives

Unity was founded in 1889 by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore "as a healing ministry based on the power of prayer and the power of our thoughts to create our own reality." According to Unity's website there are approximately 900 Unity Churches today.

Unity Village in Missouri has a Library and Archive. While checking out the library and archive webpage, don't forget to look at the Archive Research Guide located at the bottom of the page. One of the categories of records listed is denominational records.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Someone Posted my Family History Back to 1600 or Don't Believe Everything You Read

Many years ago when my brother was in middle school he shared a lesson that his teacher had just taught about the Mormons. They were studying 19th century American history and she decided to include religious groups in that history. So he retold how she taught about Joseph Smith's martyrdom. This was a story that included exciting chases on horseback, hangings and more. Very exciting...but none of it was true.

Now this story was not in his state issued history book so I'm not sure where she came up with it. (Mind you this is long before the days of the Internet.) Her story was similar to one that I have read in a 19th century "autobiography" that was done  by an author who reportedly left "Mormonism." These 19th century autobiographical novels/anti-Mormon literature were very dramatic, often plagiarized and included some fuzzy history. Any source, no matter what it is, needs to be evaluated for potential problems.

So I ended up writing a note to his teacher explaining that her story, while exciting, was not historically accurate. I then provided the real story about the death of Joseph Smith with sources. My brother gave it to her the next day and she quickly replied that my version was just one story of how Smith died. At the time it was a good lesson for me that some people, even when given historically accurate evidence will deny that information.

Now, Joseph Smith was a historical figure who can be studied. People witnessed his death, both those who killed him and those who were Church members. While there might be different versions of that core story, the "facts" remain the same.

Fast forward to present day. I'm reading a book the other night and it talks about the prophet Joseph Smith's time in Utah. So I reread the same sentence about five times to make sure I'm reading it right. (Right about now anyone who knows about the Mormon church should be scratching their heads). This was a book that I had been enjoying. It had some interesting historical "facts" that I felt could be useful to genealogists up until that point. I found myself perplexed over how a book with historical "facts" could have got something so wrong.

I am telling these two instances as a cautionary tale. First, as we have all heard don't believe everything you read. This is not just a pithy saying. Anyone can write a book. If the person hasn't cited any sources than what they have written is hearsay. If you want to use it for your genealogy, then you need to verify the information and not take it at face value, even if it is something that the author says they witnessed. It's sorta like what one of my friends use to tell people, do you want to research your Johnson family or someone else's? If you take everything you read at face value you might find out 5 years down the road that you researched someone else's family.

So while it is nice to believe that all your genealogy, back to the olden days, was done by someone else and they posted it on the Internet for you, if there are no sources then it is nothing but words on a page. Use it as a clue but do your own research to verify, no matter how good it looks or who the person was. This is a lesson many genealogists know. But in addition, no matter what type of  book you found some information that is useful to your research, I don't care who the author is, if it isn't cited, do your own research to verify it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories 2011  
First, I want to wish my readers a very Happy Thanksgiving. No matter how you spend it this year, I hope it's a time to reflect on family, memories and the future. I hope eating a lot of good food is also part of your day.

On my other blog, Food.Family.Ephemera, I posted some questions you might consider reflecting on and then writing down so that your descendants will know more about your life. You can find that posting, Thanks for the Memories: Thanksgiving, here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Church Record Sunday: Database of Early American Jewish Portraits

There is so much rich information being added to the internet by historical societies, museums, archives and libraries. This content encompasses images, documents and transcriptions.

An interesting digital collection is the Database of Early American Jewish Portraits found on the website for the American Jewish Historical Society. According to the website this collection is of "all known American Jews before 1865 in oil and watercolor, supplemented by a comprehensive collection of silhouettes and early photography."

This collections is searchable by subject name, artist name, portrait date, or keyword. You also have the option to sort by name or date.