Friday, August 31, 2007

Searching for Catholic Marriages in NYC . . . continued

"Searching for Catholic Marriages in New York City, Part Two" is the second of a two-part article by Kevin Cassidy on the challenges of researching Catholic marriages in New York City. This part, takes a general look at marriage records in Manhattan, comparing civil and Catholic marriage records, and suggesting ways to make the best of both to find those elusive New York City marriage records.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Utilizing Genealogy Societies

Most family history researchers appreciate the value of consulting genealogy societies in their quest for information. The business of genealogical societies is the preservation of historical records within the local area; thus, being on-site in your area of interest, genealogical societies are a valuable resource. In addition to conducting original research within the area and publishing indexes, compiliations, and periodic journals, genealogical societies also compile libraries of information related to the area. In her article, "Utilizing Genealogy Societies," Gena Philibert-Ortega provides information on contacting genealogy societies in your area of interest, as well as tips and hints for requesting information.

GenWeekly writer releases new book, "Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra"

Congratulations to Gena Philibert-Ortega, a regular contributor to GenWeekly, on the release this week of her first book, "Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra," an Image of America Series.

More than 20 cemeteries and burial places are featured in Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra. Gena Philibert-Ortega also shares the history of the county that surrounds them, through the 200 vintage images that fill the pages.

Philibert-Ortega hopes her book “will serve as a catalyst to better understanding our history and respecting those who came before us.”

"Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra," is available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665,

Highlights of Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra:
  • Features information on little known cemeteries in Inyo and Mono Counties
  • Includes information on the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake, which almost destroyed the town of Lone Pine
  • Describes the history of cemeteries in Bishop, Bridgeport and Big Pine
  • Shows gravestones and gives information about the meaning of the Victorian imagery on them
Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States. Its mission is to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America’s people and places. To see if a book has been done on your town, visit

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

WorldVitalRecords and NewspaperARCHIVE announce partnership

Announced in a press release today,, the largest newspaper database available online, has partnered with World Vital Records Inc. to provide increased access to records from newspapers ranging from 1759-1923. has allowed us to extract this information from their newspapers that cover the first 160-years of their collection,” said Yvette Arts, Director, Content Acquisition, World Vital Records, Inc.

Once the material from has been launched, the data will be available for free at for a ten-day period. Beyond that trail period, the collection will be available to subscribers at

Friday, August 24, 2007

Searching for Catholic Marriages in NYC

GenWeekly welcomes our newest writer, Kevin Cassidy. As a result of his own inquiry, Cassidy discovered that, despite New York City law, many Catholic parish marriages in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century went unreported to civil authorities. Curious to understand the depth of the problem, Cassidy undertook a personal study. For his first article, Cassidy reports on the findings of this study, in two parts. The first, "Searching for Catholic Marriages in NYC, Part One." explains the dilemma, citing New York City marriage law, and undertaking a study addressing the questions, How Many NYC Catholic Wedding Were Recorded with Civil Authorities? Understanding the dilemma may shed new light for researchers and provide new avenues for locating the elusive marrage record.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pennsylvania State Library Hosts Genealogy Event, Sep 29

Announced in a press release yesterday, the State Library of Pennsylvania will celebrate Genealogy Day on Saturday, September 29, with exhibits and information sessions. This free event will bring genealogists together from throughout central Pennsylvania for a day of learning and independent research. Genealogy Day will feature information sessions on various subjects. There also will be an exhibit area where local societies can share their information. The State Library is located in the Forum Building, Commonwealth Avenue and Walnut Street, in Harrisburg. For additional information, contact Marc Bender at the State Library at (717) 705-6272 or For more information on Pennsylvania libraries, visit the Department of Education web site.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Heraldry and Coat of Arms

Although it may be tempting to send off for that complete heraldry and coat of arms, supposedly representing your family name, you may want to "Hold your enthusiasm," cautions Alan Smith in his article, "Heraldry and Coat of Arms." There may be more to the story than surname alone -- it's worth checking it out.

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?

Monday, August 20, 2007

North America Local and County Histories to Go Online

As noted on the FamilySearch web site, three genealogical libraries have pooled their collections in a massive digitization effort. Thousands of published family histories, city and county histories, historic city directories, and related records are coming to the Internet. The Allen County Public Library (ACPL) in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library, and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City announced the joint project today. When complete, it will be the most comprehensive collection of city and county histories on the Web—and access will be free at

Once digitized, the collections will have "every word" search capability, which allows users to search by name, location, date, or other field across the collection. The search results are then linked to high quality digital images of the original publication. Digitization efforts have begun. New additions will be noted and hyperlinked in the Family History Library Catalog at as they are digitized.

Scots of New Zealand Exhibition

According to a recent article on TV3 News, "Te Papa launches Scottish Kiwis exhibition," around fifty per cent of New Zealanders can claim some Scottish ancestry, so Te Papa is expecting lots of visitors to their latest exhibition. The Scots in New Zealand exhibition opened Saturday. The Scottish were one of the biggest immigrant streams to New Zealand and with a recent flurry of interest among descendents and academics, Te Papa has launched a two and a half year exhibition on the Scots. Over the next few months, the exhibition will be brought to life with Scottish games, dancing and of course the pipes.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

New Mexico Death Index Project

A column in the Albuquerque Tribune, "Death records mark beginning points for genealogists," summarizes a few New Mexico online resources. Of particular interest is the New Mexico Death Index Project. As stated in the article, "volunteers extracted names, ages and counties from thousands of state-issued death certificates from 1899 to 1949. You'll find alphabetical links to the index. The index includes name, death date and age. Most of the ages have three digits, such as 486. . . . That means he died at age 48 years and six months. For later deaths, be sure to follow the link to the Death Index, Part II." Of course, this is an index only, so you still have to go one step further to obtain the actual death certificate, which the author notes are on microfilm in the Special Collections Library in downtown Albuquerque. However, being a privacy state, New Mexico presents more than a few challenges for researchers. Records less than 100 years old are available only to immediate family members or those who can demonstrate tangible legal interest. But the index is open to all and puts you one step closer than you might have been.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Forgotten Records of the Civil War

While we may all sing the woes of taxation -- and it has been historically so -- early tax lists are a valuable resource, locating people in time and place who, in many case, might not be found otherwise. In her article, "Forgotten Records: Tapping the Power of Civil War Income Tax Records," Melissa Slate sheds light early income tax records, some of which survive. As noted in the article, many such lost or forgotten records exist, it is through the efforts of earnest researchers that such records rise to the surface, to the benefit of all.

Family Tree Maker 2008 released this week announced the release of Family Tree Maker 2008, a completely redesigned version of its No. 1 selling family history software. Family Tree Maker 2008 boasts an intuitive new interface and dozens of new features built on an entirely revamped, modern platform - the result of a two-year, back-to-the-drawing- board development process.

First released in 1989, Family Tree Maker ranks in longevity among Microsoft Windows (first released in 1985) and Adobe Photoshop. Family Tree Maker 2008 is now available for sale online at for $39.95. The program is also set to be released in select retail stores in October 2007.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Oklahoma Centennial - Celebrating 100 Years of Statehood

Oklahoma celebrates its 100th anniversary of statehood on November 16, 2007, and all across the 46th state, communities and organizations in preparation. According to the state's Centennial web site, many are creating monuments, fountains, parks or cultural facilities that reflect local or state history, while others are restoring historical sites and structures. Most are planning special commemorations or are enhancing traditional festivals and annual events.

Libraries, museums, historical societies, cultural venues and schools are also preparing for 2007. And Oklahoma's rich and diverse heritage will be highlighted with American Indian, African American, Latino, Asian American and European American customs, traditions and artifacts on display throughout the year. While festivities have been underway all year, it's not too late to join in the celebration.

The Centennial year kicks off November 9-19, 2006 in Tulsa with concerts, expos, exhibits, a parade and eye-popping fireworks and laser displays. Then the Macy's 2006 Thanksgiving Day Parade will provide a preview of things to come when the Centennial float, Oklahoma Rising, makes its way (loaded with Oklahoma celebrities) down New York City's famed Broadway Avenue. Oklahoma rings in the New Year as the state leads the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1, 2007, and marches onto television screens around the world with two magnificent floats.

Oklahomans and visitors to the state will traverse Oklahoma in 2007 as hundreds of towns and cities offer up Centennial celebrations, commemorations and dedications. Two major events in 2007 will encourage both Oklahomans and visitors to gather to celebrate Oklahoma history and heritage: The Centennial Expo, September 13-23; and the Centennial Parade on October 14, 2007.

Statehood Day, November 16, 2007, will begin with historical reenactments in Guthrie, the state's first capitol. Activities will include the presidential proclamation of statehood, the inauguration of the first state governor, the ceremonial wedding between the two territories, and an inaugural parade. The day will conclude with festivities in the capitol city, Oklahoma City, including The Spectacular, which will feature live entertainment by internationally recognized Oklahoma performers. To learn more and see a calendar of events, visit the Oklahoma Centennial web site.

Southwest Oklahoma Genealogy Jamboree, Oct 13

As noted on, The Southwest Oklahoma Genealogical Society (SWOGS) and Lawton Public Library will hold a Genealogy Jamboree to commemorate Oklahoma's Centennial year and celebrate Family History Month, October 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Center for Creative Living, 3501 Dr. Elsie Hamm Drive, Lawton. This event is an opportunity to hear about some of Oklahoma's history that is often overlooked.

Also, the SWOGS Oklahoma Centennial Lecture Series "Civil War Along the Red River” will conclude at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Museum of the Great Plains, 601 NW Ferris, Lawton. Civil War historian Patricia Rochette's topic will be "North Texas and Indian Territory During the Civil War.” Rochette is an authority on the Civil War in the Red River region. She is author of the book "Bourland in North Texas and Indian Territory During the Civil War.” Rochette studied and transcribed more than 200 documents pertaining to Col. James Bourland and the Red River area Texas militia brigades. Through her work, new light was shed on topics such as the North Texas Brush Battalion, Bourland's Border Regiment and the 1862 Tonkawa massacre at Anadarko.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Genealogy Blogs

The global water cooler -- blogs are where the world exchanges ideas, information, and opinion. Everything from food to politics to local news is covered in the blogs, to say nothing of special interest topics. In her article, "Reading the Blogs," Gena Philibert-Ortega provides a quick review of popular genealogy blogs, including their focus and value to researchers, with links to the source.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Family History Library offers classes on Dutch research, Aug 18

As noted in the Desert News, "Family History Library offering Dutch class," the Family History Library for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is offering classes in Dutch research for those with ancestors from Holland. The classes will include topics on gazetteers and maps, civil registration records, church records and Internet research. Classes will be Saturday, Aug. 18, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. To register for the free classes, send an e-mail to or call 240-4950.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Northern Utah Genealogy & Family Heritage Jamboree, Sep 15

My Ancestors Found and the Ogden Regional Family History Center are once again joining forces to bring a genealogy and family heritage jamboree to northern Utah, as noted in the Deseret News. The conference will be held September 15 at the Ogden Marriott Hotel, 247 24th St. Pre-registration is $40 for the full-day event. Tickets will also be sold at the door for $45. Register online at web site.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Find-a-Grave announces partnership with WorldVitalRecords

In a press release yesterday, Find a Grave announced its partnership with today, bringing more than 16 million grave records free to access online at Find A Grave has grown over the past 12 years with more than 200,000 individuals contributing valuable information such as lists of cemeteries, names, photographs, and additional burial information.

Genealogy expert, Leland Meitzler, applauded the new partnership. “Cemetery records are critical for genealogy. The bottom line is that in many cases, the cemetery is the only place you will find a record of some folks. For some babies a cemetery is the only place where something was recorded that they actually lived,” Meitzler said. “Infant mortality was rampant, even . . . just a few decades ago. In my own case, I have a number of children’s death records, and the only place I found them was in the cemetery.”

Friday, August 10, 2007

Who Are the Scotch-Irish?

While we've all heard the term "Scotch-Irish" or "Scots-Irish," we may not know exactly what it means or to whom it refers. In her article, "Who are the Scotch-Irish," Melissa Slate revisits the history of the Northern Ireland and explains events prompting immigrations to the U. S. in the early 1700s.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920

As reported on Web User, "WWI pension records online," a collaboration between the National Archive and genealogy site has seen the pension records of one million men who fought in the great war posted online. Now all the pension records that exist - many were destroyed by fire after bombing raids in the Second World War - are online. managing director Simon Harper said: "The completed British Army World War One Pension Records provide vital information on this brave group of men and are an important resource for anyone interested in researching virtually any soldier who sustained illness or injuries whilst serving in the First World War."

According to Ancestry web site, each file typically contains date and place of enlistment, tours of duty, medical history and former occupations, and may also "contain next of kin information.

England & Wales Birth Marriage and Death Indexes 1837-2005

Noted on the web site is the addition of its Birth, Marriage and Death Index collections - registration records of every Birth, Marriage and Death recorded in England and Wales for 2005. With 1 million plus names, is currently believed to be the only site where you can view the complete Birth, Marriage and Death records for 1837 to 2005 inclusive.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

LDS Church in New Zealand makes appeal on proposed legislation

According to an article on Scoop Independent News, "LDS Champion access to Ancestry," the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New Zealand warns the proposed public records legislation, BDM amendment, could deliver unplanned negative consequences.

In a submission to the Select Committee, on the proposed Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Amendments Bill, Elder Spencer J Condie, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the New Zealand Area warned politicians that the amendment could place a barrier to efforts to strengthen family bonds.

According to Elder Condie tracing family ancestry is an important cultural and spiritual experience for many New Zealanders. “The concept of forming links between the generations – what the Maori call ‘whakapapa’ is fundamental in Christian theology (Hebrews 11.40),” he said. “That’s why we have invested to support genealogical research.”

The Church has established over 50 Family History Centres across New Zealand as well as joint operations with the Auckland Library, the National Library and the Panmure Genealogical Society. These centres are staffed by both LDS and non LDS volunteer consultants who assist patrons to access the millions of names available through microfilm, CD Roms and Internet sources. Access to these resources is provided free of charge.

In its submission to the select committee the Church, acknowledges the intentions of the sponsors of the bill, but warns that unintentional negative consequences could result from its passing. The submission argues that the bill could create a barrier to strengthening family bonds or even make bonafide genealogical organisations at risk of criminal prosecution.

The article continues with the complete text of Elder Condie's statement to the Select Committee.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Early farming history

While the amount of ground a family farmed, on the surface, might not seem too significant, having that information might tell you something about your ancestor's life. In her article, "20 or 40: How many acres do you work", Judy Rosella Edwards explores the significance of twenty acres of land in the mid-nineteenth century.

Monday, August 6, 2007 adds new German language records

A number of German records -- written in German -- have been recently added to databases, among them the Mecklenburg-Schwerin Census, 1819. According the the web site, the 1819 census was the first general census of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. The complete census has survived and the entirety of it is contained in this database, including an electronic every-name index to it, as well as images of the original census records. Information recorded in the census includes: name, gender, birth date, birthplace, marital status, and religion. Because the records are in German, Ancestry recommends using German when entering search terms. For those researching German records who do not speak German, it's good to become familiar with the common terms used for a particular record type, to help zero in on family names and locations.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Family Tree Maker beta release available to the public

As noted in The Clarion-Ledger, "Family Tree Maker offering a free trial run," Family Tree Maker has announced the upcoming release of Family Tree Maker 2008, the next generation of the one of the world's best-selling genealogy programs. This new software is touted as a complete rewrite of the old program which has enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best for beginning genealogists available. The release date for the new software is August 2008, but in a very unusual move the company is offering free copies of the beta program now for anyone who wishes to give it try before making the purchase. Most beta program studies are conducted behind closed doors which makes this free public test very unusual. The beta program can be downloaded and installed by simply clicking the link at

That said, the article goes on to note certain caveats that go along with the beta release - some things you'll definitely want to be aware of as you add new content to the program, not the least of which, the beta program ceases to function when the new software is released. Whatever you do, back it up!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Index to Irish Marriages, 1771-1812 online

The Index to Irish Marriages, 1771-1812, has been added to the database. According to Ancestry, this database was originally published in London in 1897 and contains the names and marriage dates of Irish and English marriages. The information in this database was abridged from the pages of “Walker’s Hibernian Magazine,” from its first issue in 1771 until its discontinuance in July, 1812.

Thursday, August 2, 2007 announces partnership with Allen County Library

In a press release today, announced a new partnership with Allen County Public Library (ACPL), the largest public genealogy library in the United States, to digitize millions of historical records, making them available online for the first time at The ACPL collections feature unique American and international records including family histories, city directories, military records and historical newspapers.

As part of the partnership, all ACPL records digitized by will be made available at the library for free. For those that cannot travel to the library, these records can be accessed from a personal computer with a membership.

“We’re excited to partner with the Allen County Public Library and are fortunate to be working with some of the finest archives in the United States,” said Roger Bell, president of “The content from ACPL is a valuable addition to the millions of records we currently have on our site.”

In addition to the ACPL, has agreements with The National Archives and Records Administration, the Pennsylvania Archives, FamilySearch, the Center for Research Libraries, and local archives in Goffstown, N.H., South Boston, Va., Harris County, Texas, and others.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Strategies for tracking a disappearing ancestor

We all have one or more disappearing ancestors who "are there one census and, like magic, have disappeared the next." My second-great-grandfather is one such ancestor. For forty years we can track him with surety; then, after 1860 he drops from the record entirely. And while we can track the migration of his children from East Tennessee to Texas, we find no record of him. It is reasonable to assume he died between 1860 and 1870, except no record can be found. Also, because he remarried after his first wife's death, and at last record we find him living in Virginia with his second wife, in close proximity to some of her children, it's a distinct possibility that if he did migrate, it was with her family. So the next step is tracking totally unrelated family members in order to find any clue to this elusive ancestor; and this we have been attempting to do, but with no success thus far, given the common names of family members. But the search continues. In her article "Where Did They Go," Melissa Slate outlines the problem of disappearing ancestors and offers good advice on understanding possible reasons for their disappearance and key strategies for tracking them.