Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring -- Time to Get Organized

One more word on getting our ducks in a row -- how are you at organization? The "Spring is season to get records in order," on the Broomfield Enterprise, suggests now is the time for some genealogy deep cleaning and organization, and if you aren't sure where to start, the article offers some easy tips. My own goal is to one day be organized enough so that when I want something, it's not enough to say "I know I have it," I want to be able to walk to and and put my hands on it. I'm on that path. I've learned to compensate for short-term memory loss and now have a system -- what I'm lacking is space. So once I get that figured out, I may be able to realize my goal. 

Labels: ,

Friday, April 2, 2010

April Fooled: Three Hoaxes That Make Jokes Out of Genealogical Research

As Lincoln said, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time." Unfortunately, "some" do become victims of frauds and hoaxes. In every field, it seems, there is someone (or several) who profit or take pleasure in duping others. Genealogy is no exception.  In her article, "April Fooled: Three Hoaxes That Make Jokes Out of Genealogical Research," Rita Marshall explores some of the more infamous genealogy frauds in history, some that being perpetuated to this day. And new ones abound. The moral of the story is be aware and do your own due diligence so you can recognize a fake when you see it.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pacific Northwest Genealogy

In his article, "Pacific Northwest Genealogy," Alan Smith provides a brief introduction to the research of ancestors in the Pacific Northwest, with a primary focus on Washington and Oregon. The Pacific Northwest region, bounded on the West by the Pacific Ocean, actually covers a much larger area, including the Canadian province of British Columbia, southwestern Alaska, Idaho, western Montana, and northern California. The main point made in the article is the recent history of American settlement, "The family researcher does not have to begin tramping through Northwest records until after 1841, when Americans, who were now part of a sixty-five year-old nation first began trickling into the area." Of course, indigenous peoples occupied the land almost since time immemorial, with European explorations dating back to the late 1700s, and early missionary movements of the early 1800s, all influencing the great Westward Migrations to come.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 26, 2010

What is DNA from a Genealogical Perspective, Part II

DNA science is replete with a lot of terms, some of them almost unpronounceable, so understanding their meaning and relationship is not a given. In his article, "What is DNA from a Genealogical Perspective, Part II," Alan Smith provides some clarification. And while the genetic function of the DNA "parts" is important and interesting, the article makes the point that genealogists are primarily concerned with the hereditary aspect of DNA and what we can hope to learn from DNA testing that will advance our research.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Review of the Basics for Beginning Researchers

Published earlier this month on, here is a nice overview for beginning researchers on how to get started on family history.  The article, "Genealogy 101: How can I research my family's roots?" provides some good points, like, "Get out of the house," "Don't disregard anything you find," and Trust, but verify." In fact, it might even be a good refresher for those of us who have been doing this awhile.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Ten Questions of the 2010 Census: What They're Asking and Why

Yes, it's time once again for the U. S. Census. Some people have a real aversion to answering census questions, and that has been true historically. Of course, for genealogists, the census past is often the cornerstone of their research. This week, in her article, "The Ten Questions of the 2010 Census: What They're Asking and Why," Rita Marshall takes a look at the 2010 census and ponders some important questions. This year's census is abbreviated, to say the least, which begs the question, what will that mean to researchers 72 years hence (when this census goes public), who will be missing key information we have come to rely on so heavily. 

Not to worry. We live in the information age. It has been said that todays' generation is the most documented generation in history. The federal government itself has enough social programs and registrations to document us cradle to grave and everything in between, and in some cases, in utero and beyond the grave, all placed into databases and searchable. Add to that the wonders of modern technology benefiting the individual, literally thousands of digital photos, movies, and voice files on the home computer; blogs for all occasions; and the proliferation of social networks revealing way too much about too many people. The data is out out there. As the author says, "Will we even still need the census as a genealogical tool by 2082?" 

But wait . . .  we may live in the information age but it's also an age of rapid change -- can these records be preserved over the decades when every 18 months or so a new technology makes the old one obsolete. Backing up your data in an age of rapid change. It's something to consider . . . sooner rather than later.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 5, 2010

Brief refresher of online genealogy resources

A recent article on, "Genealogy: Internet handy for genealogy research," by Tamie Dehler, provides a nice little refresher on some very useful, free online genealogy resources, with some emphasis on land records, but touching on vital records, as well.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, January 29, 2010

LiveRoots in the news

Our own Genealogy Today, LiveRoots website received honorable mention recently is an article on NewsOK, by Sharon Burns, "Site may help people break through walls." 

"Family historians and genealogists who hit walls searching for information about ancestors should try Live Roots at, a genealogy search engine. . . . The project, under development by D’Addezio and Genealogy Today, offers access to one-of-a-kind family history files working in sync with genealogy providers and files collected by D’Addezio."

As noted, the December/January edition of Internet Genealogy features an article by Tony Bandy, who discusses this site. 

For a first-hand look, come visit the LiveRoots website.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, December 11, 2009

Genealogy on Film: Industry on Parade

It is said the "old times" were simpler times. Whether that is true or not is debatable. Seems the same lament is repeated in every age. Even so, those of us that lived in the 1950s tend to think it was, indeed, a simpler time. Life did not seem to be set on fast forward back then, although we may be viewing it from a child's point of view. In many cases, it's too late to ask our parents. 

In her article, "Genealogy on Film: Industry on Parade," Judy Rosella Edwards explores a fascinating resource from the 1950s, a collection of films showcasing the industry of America and Americans. As the article points out, the workers in the film were actual workers on the job -- not actors: hence, simpler times. In today's promotional films (including folksy commercials), you can pretty well bet actors are playing the roles. The genealogical value of the Industry on Parade film, given its scope, is pretty amazing, and certainly worth checking out the titles to see if any of the films fit the time and place of your ancestors. 

More and more we are seeing film being made available as a genealogical resource. The WWII ‘United News’ Newsreels, being one example. Edward's article brings to our attention yet another area to explore -- documentaries and other films featuring real people, mostly without "staging." It may take some sleuthing to find out what's available and where, but then, that's what we do.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, December 4, 2009

Three Reasons You Need Local History Books

In our heart of hearts, we know the benefit digging into local history books. But with more information available online, we may be less inclined to head for the library. Also, as Rita Marshall points out in her article, "Three Reasons You Need Local History Books," when were are enjoying a great bit of success in our research using other resources, it's easy to bypass the often "thick, somber history books detailing a town's history." And yet, local histories often contain hidden gems we that are hard to anticipate. The article offers insight into different ways local histories might be used. It's also important to note that many local histories can be found online at no charge; it's worth entering the title into your favorite search engine to see if the book you seek is offered in full text format -- some offer previews only. However, not all local histories will be offered online, free or otherwise, which means, back to the library: it's worth the trip.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 27, 2009

Taking a tip from the estate gumshoes

"It's all about spreading the net as wide as possible." A recent article out of The Sydney Morning Herald, "Unorthodox sleuthing helps trustee find beneficiaries," recounts the process taken by the NSW Trustee and Guardian, the public trustee of unclaimed estates. "Using everything from cemetery indexes and census data in several countries," the trustee was able to locate a rightful heir. "This was one of our most interesting cases because it required research in so many countries." Persistence pays.

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Genealogy of Communities: Prostitution

Most genealogists want to know the full story of a family and do want to account for all family members, even those with questionable occupations. In her article, "Genealogy of Communities: Prostitution," Judy Rosella Edwards explores the task of researching this very elusive community. Prostitutes often were listed by first name only, and many were hesitant to give their true names. Even so, as the article points out, becoming familiar with the trends and patterns and learning to "read" census records, this community can be researched with positive results.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Taking a wrong path in research and setting it right

GenWeekly welcomes our newest writer, AnnMarie Gilin-Dodson. Her first article, "Lessons Learned: Get it Right the First Time," addresses the problem faced by many researchers at some point, taking information at face value and going down the wrong path. It may not even be misinformation given to us by someone else, but our own assumptions that can lead us astray. I recently erred in taking at face value and assuming to be the direct line ancestor, the one person with our family name who bought property in an area at the right point in time. As the research continued, evidence began to suggest this person was, more than likely, the son and not the father, as I had believed. In going back over my research, If I had taken more time in analyzing each piece of evidence and not rushed to judgment, I would have discovered the one piece of information that ruled him out as the direct line ancestor. Much of what we do is trial and error, but in an effort to help us "get it right the first time," the author suggests developing a formalized plan for various stages of research, and provides a checklist to help us get started. I cannot say the list would have helped me avoid my own error, but it does address the Assess/Analyze stage of research, the very place where we need to take the greatest care and make sure the evidence supports our assumptions. The message is valid and the checklist a good starting point, which you can modify and add to based on your own experience.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

NGS article cautions of e-mail data loss risk

Technology is a wonderful thing, but not without its risks. An article on the NGS Upfront blog (the Upfront newsletter is now in blog format), "Set Your E-mail Free," by Editor, Pam Cerutti, reminds us that e-mail is at the same risk for data loss as social networks, photo sites, and blogs themselves. We've cautioned about these risks in several articles on GenWeekly. Backing up data has been our primary theme. Cerutti writes,

"You may have heard about Verizon's sale of its internet services in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont a few months ago. Some readers may even be the victims of the sudden switch of their e-mail addresses from to Neither Verizon nor FairPoint notified all customers in time to tell their family, friends, and business contacts of their new e-mail addresses. Many people not only lost all e-mail they had stored on Verizon's servers, but they also lost new messages that were sent to their void Verizon addresses. Furthermore, when FairPoint took over those accounts, their servers were initially overburdened, causing still more lost e-mail messages."

It's true. Companies go out of business. Companies are sold. Systems crash. What happens to your data is everything goes away suddenly? We hope you are 1) saving your e-mail messages (including contact information) and any documents or photos you may have received to your local computer; and 2) transferring whatever data and sources your have received to your genealogy software program . . . or are at least printing it all out. Then, if a company goes belly-up, you've at least preserved your data. But, as the article points out, there are other, equally important issues, that come with a change in your e-mail provider -- be sure to check it out.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Genealogy of Communities: Logging Camps

In this second article of her series, "Genealogy of Communities: Logging Camps," Judy Rosella Edwards makes the point that lumberjacks were not the only occupations present in logging camps, but doctors, cooks, and others were also engaged. And pretty much, you wanted to be young and unattached.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Genealogy of Communities

Most of us are aware that a variety of non-traditional communities exist in our society, and have existed in the past, places where are drawn together for one reason or another, possibly employment, but the people are generally unrelated. Take the California Gold Rush, for example. Researching family members who might have been part of such a community is the subject of a new series by Judy Rosella Edwards. In her first article, "The Genealogy of Communities," Edwards introduces these "intentional" communities, so-called because they are artificially created outside the traditional family community, and suggests the first steps to researching them. Additional articles in the series will cover specific types of communities, including logging camps, fishing camps, seminaries and prep schools, etc. Even if your community of interest is not covered, and it would be hard to detail them all, the techniques and resources explored will certainly transfer over. 

Labels: ,

Friday, August 21, 2009

What the heck is "data rot" and why do we care?

If you have ever experienced a system crash, you know how devastating it can be -- the challenge of trying to reconstruct information that has been damaged or irretrievably lost is the computer user's nightmare.  As beneficial as computer technology is, and it's revolutionized the field of genealogy, it still comes with a powerful caveat: be aware of "data rot"; that is, the deterioration of the medium on which information is stored (CDs, DVDs, hard drives, magnetic tape, etc.) and the problem of accessing data when medium and the equipment to run it becomes obsolete. "The Ten Commandments on floppy? Where would we be?" explores the issues and what can be done to preserve valuable information.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lots of free data still available online

Is free genealogy a thing of the past? asks Kimberly Powell in her article, "101 Ways to Research Your Family Tree for Free." Apparently, the answer to her question lies in the title to her article, lots of free data is still available. Check it out to be sure you are taking advantage of the many free resources available.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 10, 2009

Map Reading 102

Reading a map is not easy. Ask all the frustrated drivers who have to stop and ask for directions, or turn to their digital navigation system! They still need to pass Map Reading 101. In her very informative article, "Map Reading 102," Judy Rosella Edwards lets us in on some lesser known map reading strategies.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Specialty publications, another place to look

A recent GenWeekly article highlighted the value of newspapers, beyond the obituary. This week we look at and beyond the traditional newspaper. In her article, "Digging Through History's Pages: Using Newspapers and Other Periodicals To Find Ancestors," Rita Marshall explores specialty periodicals, in addition to newspapers, how they can aid your research and where to find them.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 3, 2009

Historical Pageants As a Genealogical Tool

We often talk about the value of non-traditional sources and encourage readers to visit the Genealogy Today, Family Tree Connection database, absolutely THE place for researching non-traditional sources. In her article, "Historical Pageants As a Genealogical Tool," Judy Rosella Edwards provides a little background on historical pageants and their value, in particular, pageant programs, for historical data. Event programs are also known as "ephemera," printed items intended for one-time use. As it turns out, these one-time use items, in some cases, have become highly collectible, and can also be valuable clues for pinpointing an ancestor in time and place or indicating something of his or her life. Of course, in addition to the program, local newspapers carried news of local pageants, a more traditional source of information. Two for the money.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Newspaper Treasures -- Beyond the Obituaries

"Newspapers are gold mines for obituary information," says Judy Rosella Edwards in her recent article, "Newspaper Treasures," and they are, indeed. In addition to the more familiar genealogical use of newspapers in finding obituaries, birth and marriage records is the reporting of everyday events -- events that may contain significant information and leads. The article suggests ways you can digitize any information you might find, for personal use. I might also add, today we are lucky to have a wealth of newspapers already digitized: many  are subscription-based but may be available for free through local public libraries and Family History Centers. Some newspaper sites and other commercial sites that contain newspapers, offer trial subscriptions for a nominal fee. Newspapers are a valuable resource definitely worth pursuing.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Beyond the Paper Trail: Discovering Family History with Different DNA Tests

Molecular genealogy, the study of DNA to help genealogical research, has made big strides over the last few years, but some answers are still out of science's reach. Learn what you can and can't learn from the different genetic tests, and which ones may be right for you. In this her first article, "Beyond the Paper Trail: Discovering Family History with Different DNA Tests," Rita Marshall queries experts in the field and brings us up to date on this exciting and promising new branch of genealogical research.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Wonders of the Family History Center

Almost anyone who has done genealogy for awhile has either heard about or utilized one of the many Family History Centers to be found around the world. In her article, "The Wonders of the Family History Center," Judy Rosella Edwards explores the role of the local Family History Center today, when so much information is available online so easily accessed in the comfort of one's own home. Considering the vast archive from which the Family History Center draws and the many services it provides, it is not likely to become outdated anytime soon. 

Labels: , ,

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Will the Real Mr. Snider Please Stand Up:
Finding Your Ancestor's Misspelled Name

The misspelling and misinterpretation of surnames is a classic problem for genealogists, one that never ceases. No matter how seasoned the researcher, surnames continue to challenge. In her article, "Will the Real Mr. Snider Please Stand Up: Finding Your Ancestor's Misspelled Name," Gena Philibert-Ortega continues her discussion of the surname challenge, suggesting ways to circumvent an all too common problem.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Role of Genealogy in History

Although the popularity of genealogy has grown exponentially in the past decade, it has been an important in the lives of many cultures since ancient times. In her article, "The Role of Genealogy in History," Melissa Slate touches on several such practices. 

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Facebook for Genealogists

Most family history researchers are familiar with the more popular social networking sites dedicated to genealogy, sites aimed at connecting families and providing a platform for sharing information. Another branch of social networking are the sites previously thought to be the domain of the young, used by teens and college kids to connect with friends, Facebook being the most popular today. However, the demographics on Facebook have expanded to include pretty much everyone, regardless of age. Facebook is the place to find people and to be found by others. Its popularity has made Facebook a real powerhouse in connecting people. In her article, "Facebook for Genealogists," Gena Philibert-Ortega, explores how Facebook can be used to enhance or advance your genealogy, lending encouragement, perhaps, to those who have yet to dip a toe in Facebook waters. 

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Using Business Cards for Your Genealogy

We are familiar with the convenience and effectiveness of business cards as way of communicating and networking. Business cards, however, are not limited to business community. In her article, "Using Business Cards for Your Genealogy," Gena Philibert-Ortega suggests printing and distributing business cards as a way of networking in genealogy. There's something about the material quality of a business card that people tend to hang onto them, especially those that may have some relevance down the road. Not only can they be used to help people remember who you and know how to get in touch with you, but also to communicate your research interests. The article discusses the benefits of using business cards for genealogy and suggests various methods for having them printed.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: From Ship to Shore

If you're having trouble "making ends meet" in this day and age, or if your finances are "touch and go," you might be amused and interested to know where those terms derive and, perhaps, take heart that at least you're facing these dilemmas on dry land. In her article, "Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: Ship to Shore," Jean Wilcox Hibben explores the language of the ships at sea. Recognizing the meaning behind such sayings might also give us a greater appreciation for our seagoing ancestors and those who traveled by sea to a new land -- it wasn't all smooth sailing, to be sure . . . but they made it and we are here. There's a lesson in there somewhere. 

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Using eBay in Your Genealogy

In her article, "Using eBay In Your Genealogy," Gena Philibert-Ortega provides a basic introduction to the eBay auction web site, and offers suggestions on various ways eBay can be used in doing genealogy. In addition to finding deals on genealogy reference books, eBay may also be a resource for finding information and/or photos on individual families. And while eBay is a valid resource for such materials and can benefit those who have the bidding savvy and financial resources, I find it a bit sad to see such personal items auctioned off in such an impersonal way. The hope is that some of those items might find their way into the hands of family members who will treasure them.

Labels: ,

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weathering the past

A column earlier this month on, "What does the weather have to do with genealogy," encourages us to examine how weather may have affected our ancestors. The article notes, the 1595 writings of a minister named John King, "Our years are turned upside down; our summers are no summers; our harvests are no harvests." The article continues: Something was happening to the earth which greatly affect our ancestors. Temperatures were getting colder. The article goes on to explore the "Little Ice Age," and what was happening during this time period. My own family lived through the 1930s dust storms and I remember my mother telling how she just cried trying to keep the dust out. Many suffered lung damage and died  -- those caught outside in the storm, if they didn't perish, may have been blinded. So, indeed, weather has something to do with genealogy.  Again, local area histories and local newspapers, in addition to family letters and journals, are a good place to begin exploring the weather in your ancestors' time and place.

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 8, 2008

Making a Living in New Orleans

In her article, "Making a Living in New Orleans, Judy Rosella Edwards explores business enterprises in the city as early as 1823, by some accounts, second only to New York City. "Many of the business houses bore the name of their owners," a fact that can help family history researchers, in addition to a number of little known sources cited and linked in the article.

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Group offers DNA guidelines

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) has asked the question, "How accurate is your family tree," questioning the accuracy of modern DNA testing, as reported in Science Magazine. According to the article, there is a building concern among geneticists and others that the tests performed, both by companies and in academic labs, may not be very accurate, largely because they match samples to "reference" populations of a particular ancestor who may or may not perfectly fit the desired profile. Although not mentioned in the article, one high profile case that comes to mind is that of talk show host, Oprah Winfrey, who stated in 2005 that DNA testing proved her to be of the Zulu tribe. However, research and further testing done as part of Winfrey's participation in the television show, "African American Lives," showed otherwise.

"Even in the best databases that exist today, we know we have only a small sampling of human genetic diversity," says Michael Bamshad, who studies genetic variation at the University of Washington, Seattle.

At its annual meeting, a 10-person ASHG committee released five recommendations that aim to bring more accuracy, oversight, and collaboration to commercial and academic ancestry testing efforts. But it's unclear what effect the recommendations will have.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Researching the veterans in your family tree

This week, in an article on, Kimberly Powell asks the question, "How Much Do You Really Know About the Veterans in Your Family Tree?" The author challenges readers to spend this week researching the many narratives, photos, histories and perspectives that can help fill out that veteran's personal story, and cites a good many resources for doing so. She writes, "Learn the history of any battles in which they fought. Learn what life was like at home for the family members they left behind. But most importantly of all, explore veteran oral histories - a treasure trove of feelings and personal recollections left behind by other men and women who experienced the same wars, battles, struggles and triumphs as your veteran ancestor."

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 18, 2008

To Catch a Thief

Many researchers joke about finding a horse thief in their family tree. How about a horse thief detective? An interesting "society" was formed in the United States during its formative years and into the twentieth century that has left a body of records sure to be of interest to genealogists. The article, "To Catch a Thief," tells the story and provides a few tips and hints for tracking down the records.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 13, 2008

Consider a Family History Camp

Here is a great idea. Because everybody has a story to tell and to retain for future generations, as reported on, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum will host a Family History Camp the week of June 23-27. Adults and children can attend the week long practicum that will immerse them in such tricks of the trade as instructions in interviewing techniques; collecting and preserving family photographs and documents; using digital media for collecting and storing data; creating a family tree; and developing a family Web site. This might also be a great idea for those so-called "staycations" now gaining in popularity with gas prices so high and keeping us closer to home, for reunions, or any community or organization looking for summer activities.

For those interested in the Kalamazoo event, the event has a limited enrollment. Call the museum at 373-7965 or visit for details about registration.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ancestry announces new partnership with National Archives

As announced on, " partners with National Archives," those interested in finding out whether their great-great-great grandfather was a German farmer or an Austrian shoe cobbler may have an easier time doing so, thanks to a new partnership between and the National Archives. The D.C.-based Archives and the genealogy Web site signed an agreement Tuesday that would allow to digitize many of its records and make them available online for family tree enthusiasts.

“The National Archives has, truly, billions of documents and without partnerships like this, they have no really good way or substantial budget to digitize them themselves,” said Tim Sullivan, chief executive of

Under the agreement, will make INS passenger arrival and departure lists between 1897 and 1958 available. Researchers will also be able to find death notices for U.S. citizens abroad between 1835-1974.The company previously worked with the Archives to put census records online, Sullivan said, and will put up additional information as their relationship progresses.

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 9, 2008

Update to U.S. vital records online

Vital records are those primary source documents genealogists have spent many hours, many dollars, and, at times, much frustration researching and acquiring. Today, the task is much easier (though not always less expensive), and the hope of finding a key record is much higher, thanks to the massive digitation efforts underway in many camps across the globe. In her article, United States Vital Records Online," Gena Philibert-Ortega observes, provides an update on vital records available in the U. S., noting, at this time, she is referencing only actual vital records documents, not all documents in which vital information may be found. So take heart -- even if the information you seek is not in vital records documents, it may well be someplace else. Among the records available online, a great many are indexes, which are subject to error. As the author points out, the information in indexes may vary across information providers. Information in one index may not include information revealed in another index, or information in one may be in error and another more accurate. So it's not all cakes and pies, kids. Even though more records are increasingly made available, considerable research is still required -- it's just a little easier today.

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tax Records Online

Like it or not, this is the time of year our thoughts turn to taxes. But it may not be all bad, when we stop to consider our forbears, also, paid taxes. In her article, "Tax Records Online," Gena Philibert-Ortega has put together a partial list of tax records -- mostly free -- accessible online. As the article points out, tax records won't give you a lot of detailed information, but they do provide one more way to pinpoint your ancestors in time and place, and may suggest other family members living nearby. Where the census was taken in ten-year increments, many tax records were taken annually, and tax records for the years before the census began can be especially useful.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 29, 2008

Online resource for local history and biography

In a recent column, Mary Penner helps readers appreciate and use the Google Books resource. "Google Book Search is a regular pit stop in my genealogy journey." A few keyword searches can steer you toward a genealogical windfall. Launched just a few years ago, the project reportedly scans 3,000 books a day; exact numbers of scanned books aren't public knowledge, but computer users, with just a few mouse clicks, have access to well over a million books on the site. While Google Book Search has its critics, primarily those concerned with copyright issues, the ambitious digitization project can certainly benefit family history researchers.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Utilizing newsgroups as a genealogy resource

While some researchers may shy away or be unaware, a particular set of tools used in the computer field, Newsgroups, Mailing lists and Bulletin Boards, can be valuable in sharing problems in genealogical research. In his article, "Newsgroups and Genealogy Resources," Alan Smith seeks to clarify terms and simplify the process of accessing available information in this "growing resource."

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Genealogy Fundamentals

Those new to family history research often get ahead of themselves, seeking to jump right in and gather information on an ancestor of interest several generations back -- maybe to solve the family mystery or prove a relationship. What the novice researcher may not realize is that genealogy works from the present to the past, starting with the individual researcher. YOU are No. 1 on your own pedigree chart. Or, if you are trying to help someone else, placing that person in the No. 1 spot. The process is so much easier when you begin with yourself and work back, starting with what you know and, as you go along, researching and filling in what you don't know. The clues build upon themselves, generation by generation. In the article, "Genealogy Fundamentals," Donnie Boursaw discusses this and other fundamental elements for those just getting started on their family history.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ancestry adds new records to its African American Collection

Announced in a recent press release,, has expanded its online repository of African-American family history records with two new collections that provide unique insights into African- American family history: Freedman's Marriage Records and Southern Claims Commission Records.

"While these documents depict the horrors of slavery, they also provide invaluable information that help uncover ancestors' life stories," said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for "These documents further cement the fact that African-Americans can discover their family's heritage, even those ancestors enslaved prior to the Civil War. We're seeing an increasing interest among African-Americans in tracing their roots, especially as collections such as these are made available and accessible online, rather than stored away in archives."

Users can explore the African-American Historical Records Collection and begin piecing together their family tree at

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tips and strategies for tackling your brick walls

Often at the beginning of a new year we set out to tackle some of our old brick walls. In her article, "Taking Your Brick Walls Head-On," Gena Philibert-Ortega provides a tips and hints for taking a fresh look and developing new strategies.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Remembering Martin Luther King and our African American ancestors

In her article, "African American Resources," Gena Philibert-Ortega reminds us, as we remember this month the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., it may be as good time to look at a few resources for those with African American roots. While so far, I have found no indication of African American roots in my own family, my grandmother did tell of an old couple living nearby "that had been slaves," whom she remembers fondly from her Texas childhood, just at the turn of the twentieth century. The two or three incidents she recalls are endearing, and so it has been my personal quest to find evidence of this family, although we have nothing but first names and a general location to go by. This update of resources may provide new avenues of research.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Online resources available to advance your genealogical education

As we look toward the new year and the beginning rounds of genealogy conferences and seminars, you may want to consider getting a head start on your genealogy education. In her article, "Genealogy Education," Melissa Slate offers some online "resources to enhance your genealogical learning."

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 announces beta release of Genealogy Maps

Plot your family history using Google Maps. In a press release today, the Beta release of their new Genealogy Maps. These new tools take location information already present in GEDCOM or online family trees, and provide a unique graphical view of a family history: Ancestor Map shows all known locations of an individual's ancestors, showing many generations at one glance; Family Map displays where the parents and children of an individual were born, allowing the family historian to step-by-step through the family's past just by following the links to each family member; Descendants Map provides a single view, showing how an ancestor's offspring spread throughout the world.

"We aren't trying to be the leading research site, or provide the largest database of names to search," explained Vandana Rao of TribalPages, "What we do is help you present your family history to the world. These new Genealogy Maps are a great new way to do that. Seeing where your ancestors came from and where their families ended up is a very powerful experience."

TribalPages is one of the last online services offering completely free online family trees, with no trial periods or gimmicks. "We're happy to provide these Maps to our free family trees, " says Rao, "We feel that the more usable and powerful our platform is, the more likely our free customers will choose to pay for the additional photo storage and premium features our paid sites provide."

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

National Oprhan Train Complex Now Open

In her article, "National Orphan Train Complex Opens," Melissa Slate says it is estimated that around two million people are descended from an Orphan Train rider, children orphaned for one reason or another who were shipped across the country and to Canada and put up for adoption. The Museum offers resources for those who have . . . or suspect they have . . . orphan train ancestors.

Labels: ,

Monday, October 15, 2007

Redesigned Canadian Genealogy Centre web site benefits users

In a recent press release , Library and Archives Canada (LAC) announced three new online products to assist genealogists and family historians to access information on their ancestors in both LAC and other Canadian collections. Chief among these is the newly redesigned Canadian Genealogy Centre website, at The website makes available Canadian collections of immigration, military, public service, land and census records and provides advice and guidance to researchers. It was voted one of the world's 100-best genealogy websites by Family Tree magazine.

"The new Canadian Genealogy Centre website provides easy access to records of significant interest to Canadians," said Librarian and Archivist of Canada Ian E. Wilson. "The search tools allow Canadians access to a very personal piece of Canadian history-a piece relating to somebody's own family-with the click of a mouse." Mr. Wilson added that the new website and search tools demonstrate how LAC's priorities in digitizing its collections and in working through partnerships with other institutions, benefit Canadians wherever they may be.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Researching Your Seventh-Day Adventist Ancestors

It goes without saying that church records are among the most valuable resources in genealogy. Many early church records have been microfilmed and are readily available, while others are more elusive. In her most recent article, "Researching Your Seventh-Day Adventist Ancestors," Gena Philibert-Ortega offers a variety of options for researching ancestors belonging to this church, organized in the mid-nineteenth century.

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 28, 2007

Courthouse records are under-utilized but rich in data

In her article, "Meet Me At the Courthouse," Melissa Slate offers some insight on the wealth of information to be found in courthouse records, "a very under-utilized resource." The distinction between Civil and Criminal records is explained, along with the types of documents that might be found.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 21, 2007

Genealogy recap and prediction for the future

In a Computerworld article, "Coming Soon: The Mother of All Genealogy Databases." Mike Elgan writes, "I've always found genealogy boring. But it's about to get exciting, very exciting, and for everybody." The article summarizes where genealogy has come in the last 10 years, and what the author finds exciting is his prediction of where it will go in the next 10 years.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Survey suggests ancestors' lives not so different from our own

An entertaining article in the The Guardian, "Happy in our Skeletons," reports on an survey that reveals "you are far more likely to discover that your grandparents weren't married or your great uncle was married twice - but at the same time - than you are to learn that Prince William is your third cousin." The article makes the point that we tend to romanticize the past, but people then lived pretty much as we do today, with the same temptations and foibles -- it just wasn't as public.then as it is today, owing to modern news media and modern forms of documentation.

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 14, 2007

Researching Libraries From Home

It is no secret the Internet has revolutionized genealogy, making it easier for researchers to locate records in far-flung places. In her article, "Researching Libraries From Home," Gena Philibert-Ortega explores online access to library holdings, showing it is now possible to "conduct research virtually anytime and, with a laptop computer, anywhere." The article provides links to key resources for accessing books and information at libraries worldwide.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Researching Extinct Counties in Virginia

As noted by Melissa Slate in her article, "They Came and They Went: Extinct Counties of Virginia," one stumbling block that beginning genealogists often encounter is the changing boundaries within the regions that they are researching. Boundaries may have changed many times during the course of a location's history, so it cannot be emphasized strongly enough to research the backgrounds of the localities in which you are doing your research. . . . Virginia is a particular challenge for researchers." The article provides information on specific counties in Virginia--many of which no longer exist, which experienced boundary changes.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ancestry DNA service in Beta

Not to be outdone, has launched a beta version of its new DNA Ancestry service, according to an article on Currently the service offers three genealogical tests, two Paternal Lineage tests (Y chromosome 33 marker and Y chromosome 46 marker), and a Maternal Lineage Test. Prices range from $149-$199, depending on the test, as reported on If you've already had your DNA tested with another company, DNA Ancestry has a function that will let users add their test results to the DNA Ancestry database and allow them to connect with others who share their DNA.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kudos to SMGF web site

Announced this week, Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF), a non-profit scientific organization, has been named by Family Tree magazine to its annual list of the 101 best family history Web sites in the Sept. 2007 issue. The free, online SMGF database ( is unique because it can link an individual’s genetic profile to specific ancestors by name going back a half-dozen generations and further.

Any individual can query the SMGF database for genetic-genealogy information for free by obtaining his or her DNA profile from a commercial genomics laboratory and then entering the results into the Web site’s database search menu. A DNA sample is usually taken with a simple swab of the inside of the consumer’s cheek. For those who wish to contribute their records to the foundation’s database, the process is free, convenient and confidential. Simply request a kit on the SMGF Web site and then submit a DNA sample and an accompanying four-generation pedigree chart. As SMGF’s free database grows, personal genealogy success stories become more frequent.

For those who are still a little fuzzy on all this DNA stuff, the Sorenson web site also provides a great teaching tool, helping the lay person understand how it works. The site provides information to help you learn as little or a much as you care to know, from the very general, Understanding DNA to the specifics on Y-Chromosome DNA and Mitochondrial DNA, plus a heads-up for the new kid on the block, Autosomal DNA -- where did you get those big brown eyes?

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Be willing to "look beyond" preconcieved notions in spelling

Spelling variation is a common problem for researchers, to say nothing of outright errors in spelling and transcription error. In her article, "Looking Beyond 'Your' Spelling," Shelley Poblete explores some common causes of spelling variation and error, in addition to providing tips on using "wild card" and Soundex searches to help you get past spelling variation and error. One of the big things for researchers is to keep an open mind in all things, and be willing to "look beyond" preconceived notions whether in time, place, or what you consider to be the "right" name" or the "correct" spelling of a name. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Genealogy in the Park

GenWeekly welcomes a new writer, Judy Rosella Edwards. Her first article, "Genealogy in the Park," provides a nice blend of research tips and local history to illustrate the point that local area parks may be a good place to look for research clues. Many parks are named for an individual in the community, either someone who is distinguished in some way or someone who has donated money to build the park -- a story to discover if that someone is your ancestor. Edwards suggests that parks, like cemeteries, can be "read" by those who can see beyond the grass and trees. And you might even want to look beyond the park . . . consider applying the same principle to the names of streets and buildings in your area of interest. The article suggests a new way to look beyond the books at local area history.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Genealogy plays role in researching heart disease

In Salt Lake City, LDS Hospital researchers say genealogy could provide some of the answers to the causes of heart disease. KUTV, a local television network, reports that researchers have been pouring over family history databases and now hope to take their efforts a step further. Doctors say there is no doubt that heart disease is genetic. Now they're hoping pedigree charts from families with history of heart disease will help answer some questions. Right now the database has about 10 million names, and researchers have collected blood samples from 15,000 patients with family histories of heart disease. For more on this story, see the Salt Lake Tribune article, "LDS Hospital looks at family history for heart disease clues."

Labels: ,

Friday, March 2, 2007

Where in the world is Grandpa Jones?

Wonder no more. With the aid of modern GPS technology, you may be able to pinpoint Granpa's location down to a hair's breadth. In his article, "GSP and Genealogy," Alan Smith provides a little background and information on Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and gives researchers some idea of how this very cool satellite technology can be applied to genealogy. An important point Smith brings into the discussion is documenting, suggesting there may come a time when "GPS location" becomes a standard notation in our genealogical records — one more bit of key information to pass on down the line.

Labels: , ,

GenWeekly -- Delivering a Fresh Perspective for Genealogists