Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday Genealogy Sale

What better gift to give this Christmas than your own story! Here are some great discounts (available through Sunday) on books to guide you in recording those memories you wish to share with your grandchildren (or children):

From Grandmother With Love (45% off)
Grandma's Keepsake Journal (45% off)
Grandma's Thoughts (45% off)
Grandmother's Journal (25% off)
Grandmother's Memories To Her Grandchild (35% off)
Mother's Memories To Her Child (35% off)
The Secrets of my Life (45% off)

PLUS, free gift (picture above) with purchase! Note: supplies are limited.

Friday, November 26, 2010

After Thanksgiving Specials for Genealogists

I just can't get myself to use the term Black Friday. It just sounds so negative, and finding something you really would like to have at a great price is a happy event.

According to Wikipedia, "the day's name originated in Philadelphia [back in 1966], where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving."

Here are several special deals (available through Sunday) in the Marketplace at Genealogy Today (supplies are limited):

A Grandparent's Journal (35% off)
A Mother's Keepsake Journal (25% off)
Ancestral Songs ... by Steve Lanza (40% off)
DK Millennium Family Tree Record Book (25 % off)
Your Story (25 % off)

PLUS, free gift (pictured above) with purchase!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This Week I Joined the Association of Professional Genealogists

I first learned about the APG while attending my first genealogy conference in Portland, Oregon, (NGS 2001) but always had the impression it was limited to being an association for people who researched for a fee.

Recently, two of my friends, DearMyrtle and Tami Glatz, enlightened me to the fact that APG has a much broader scope. Members include family historians, professional researchers, librarians, archivists, writers, editors, consultants, indexers, instructors, lecturers, columnists, booksellers, publishers, computer specialists and geneticists.

A visit to the APG web site helped me understand where I fit into this mix. One of the objectives -- to engage in activities which improve access, facilitate research and preserve records used in the fields of genealogy and local history -- pretty much defines what I've been doing for the past decade here at Genealogy Today, and through my most recent project, Live Roots.

I jokingly call myself the "Fred Sanford" of the genealogy world, as I travel around the country collecting what people (those selling the stuff I purchase) consider "junk" from estate sales, auctions, book/ephemera conferences, and, every once in a while, literally off a garbage pile (that's a story for another blog post).

The APG's own roots are in Utah, where in the early months of 1979, a group of members of the Professional Chapter of the Utah Genealogical Association joined to begin an independent organization, whose goals were to support professional genealogists in all phases of their work.

I'm looking forward to enjoying many of the benefits of APG membership, and hope that I'm able to contribute something back in support of their objectives.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Genealogists Still Like Books, Right?

Seems the focus these days is always on databases, but we also need tools to help us locate items which haven't been transformed into searchable data. When I talk about my Live Roots project to groups, everyone "oohs" and "ahhs" at the way it can locate data, but they're often shocked it's just as capable of locating digitized AND printed books.

This morning, I updated the Live Roots Catalog with the latest books available from a variety of providers (including free online books). This meta-catalog is the source behind the "Resource Results" in the Live Roots Search Engine (also available at Genealogy Today as "Resource Search"), and currently has over 232,000 entries.

What makes this search engine interesting for genealogists and research librarians, is that it's a single catalog which emphasizes the overlap between publishers in the results. What also surprises most visitors... only 25% of the listings are fee-based! And, the system gets updated daily with new entries.

Here's a partial listing of the publishers included:
The +API notation on some of the listing above indicates that you can also perform a real-time search of the publisher's web site. Likewise, you can perform real-time searches of WorldCat,, Abebooks, eBay and the Family History Library Catalog. And all without retyping your search query!

I'm always looking for additional publishers to include; if I've missed any please let me know.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

War Ration Book Collection Reaches 10,000 Name Milestone

Back on September 12, 2006, I scanned my first World War II Food Ration Book, and today, the ten thousandth book hit the bed of my scanner! It was an arbitrary goal set after purchasing the first two books at the Summit Antique Center (Summit, NJ), and learning about their significance in U. S. history. (See "Web Site Launches Online Registry of War Ration Books")

With a little bit of digging around the Internet, I learned not only about the books and the rationing program instituted during World War II, but that there was a society (named Society of Ration Token Collectors) whose members collect and study all of the items (books, tokens, newspaper articles, pamphlets, etc.) related to food rationing. And it was by corresponding with SRTC members, that I discovered there really wasn't any significant collection of these books. They said the largest collection was about 900 books. The SRTC members have been very supportive of my project, many contributing books and one even drove all the way to New Jersey in 2007 to spend a day studying the books I've collected! (See "Ration Book Researcher Visits Genealogy Today Archive")

Each of the book formats (there were four series of books) includes stamps and a cover that captured information about the person the book was issued to. When the books are filled out properly, they offer great details about the individual. Some of the books I've collected include nothing more than a name, but I still index and post an image of them. (See "No News is Still Good News, Right?")

While ten thousand is (genealogically speaking) a small number for a collection, consider that there were millions of books issued, dispersed across the country to every U. S. citizen (even infants). There was never a central repository; the books were simply to be disposed of when the program ended. It's remarkable that so many people held on to them.

The Registry of War Ration Books, a free collection at Genealogy Today, is fully indexed on first and last name, plus year and location. Donations are welcome; visitors may send images and/or the actual books. Oh, by the way, the image above is the 10,000th book!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Genealogy Exclusive: B. Kolb & Sons Ledger (1925-1932)

Here's another handwritten funeral home ledger! It documents the funerals between 1925 and 1932 from B. Kolb & Sons Funeral Directors business in New York City. This is one of three ledgers that we own from this funeral home.

It doesn't look like a ledger from the outside; that's because it's actually a three-ring binder. The original ledgers must have fallen apart, as the ledger pages have been three-hole punched and stored in binders.

What I find most interesting about this ledger is that the listings include the burial permit numbers and dates, some of which go back to the mid 1800's. There are also a few with burial plot diagrams drawn on the page.

As with all of the resources in the Genealogy Today Subscription Data collection, the names indexes may be searched free of charge. To see a listing of the surnames from this ledger and/or search for a specific name, visit B. Kolb & Sons Funeral Ledger. A subscription for full access is only $32.95 per year.

This is the second handwritten ledger we've made available. The first was Lynn & Freeman Funeral Ledger (1926-1934) which was posted last week. Additional ledgers will be released in the coming weeks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

When Wedding Bells Ring, Genealogists Listen

Everyone loves a good wedding; whether it's the ceremony or the reception that follows, there's usually something for everyone to enjoy. However, for genealogists weddings represent the merger of two family trees.

When researching family histories, marriage documents often provide the missing link between two family lines, especially when the bride's maiden name is unknown.

When I travel around to book shows and auctions, I often stumble upon all sorts of marriage documents; actual marriage certificates or licenses, intent to marry documents, and even marriage invitations. You can search these treasures in my Marriage Certificates and Announcements collection in the Genealogy Today Subscription Data service.

This week I uploaded several dozen additional document images, including an interesting one from 1843. It's a handwritten letter from Timothy P. Gillett, pastor of the Congregational Church in Branford, Connecticut, that was sworn to in front of Samuel Frisbie, Justice of the Peace. The letter appears to be a marriage certificate replacement for Ezekiel BUTLER and Lydia FRISBIE who were married in 1788.

You never know what you'll discover when you search the records at Genealogy Today! In addition, to this collection, there are a few other Marriage Records in the subscription database, and some Free Marriage Records in our archives section.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Genealogists Really do Improve with Age!

After you've been researching your family history for a dozen or so years, it's easy to forget that in the process you've probably become a better genealogist. So what? Well, if you've stuck on a brick wall ancestor for quite a while, you might want to consider starting over from scratch, re-evaluate any documents you've found on the person, and re-search all relevant data resources.

I regularly apply this thinking to my Genealogy Today Subscription Data project. It was started in 2003, and over the years I've improved many of the steps of the process of taking an original document from paper to digitized data. Likewise, scanning technology and software continues to improve.

Every so often, I spend several hours revisiting the documents handled in "the early days". This past week, I discovered several documents that were "insufficiently" transcribed. There were no inaccuracies, but there was more data in the document that could have been captured in the process. Tomorrow, they'll be re-uploaded along with all the new documents for the week.

A while back, I did a similar exercise with my own family research. Using the tree building tools at I started with a blank tree, added my parents and grandparents, and let the features that Ancestry provides do the rest. When you step back and allow yourself to ignore your own internal knowledgebase, sometimes you'll stumble across a new fact or two.

So, while indeed it is a tremendous challenge just keeping up with all the new resources arriving online, don't forget to periodically go back and retrace your roots. There are over 5,000 original documents in my subscription database, and anyone may search the name indexes for free.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Advice to Genealogists: Look Everywhere!

When I tell people that one of the unique aspects of the Genealogy Today Subscription Data collection is that it focuses on "small documents", I often get puzzled looks.

Here's an example of a small document -- barely a document, it's just an old postcard -- that I transcribed last week. It's from The Canadian Mutual Aid Association, and it's a dues assessment mailed out to members. What's special about it is that included are details of the deaths of four recent members; including the date of death, their residence, age and cause of death.

Mutual aid/benefit groups were the precursors to insurance companies as we know them today, and they would send out "bills" to the members to cover the costs associated with recent claims. On the web site, all entities that have an insurance flavor to them are listed on an Insurance Records page. An annual subscription is required for full access to these records, but anyone may search the name indexes for free.

Surnames of the deceased mentioned on this particular document: CAMPBELL, GESNER, HICKS and THUELL.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Military Holidays Highten Passion for Genealogy

Whether you win or lose, war has a tremendous impact on families and the generations that follow. While we all learn about wars in school, knowing that an ancestor was involved in a particular war, and their contribution and/or sacrifice for many is often a driving force behind starting a genealogical project.

Today is Veteran's Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in Canada, both holidays honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their nations. Steve Johnson's article, "The History of Veterans Day", provides a great explanation of how the U. S. holiday was developed. Toby Shaw has an article, "Remembrance Day - History and Tradition", that sheds light on the Canadian holiday.

If you're looking for additional Military Records to search through, we have added quite a few unique resources to our Subscription Data collection.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Genealogy News - Monthly Edition (October 2010)

Catch up on the top stories mentioned in The Genealogy News service throughout the month by reading the Monthly Edition! Visit our News Center at to download the PDF for October 2010.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ancestry Releases UK Military Medals Records

The Live Roots system just detected these newly released databases on

UK, Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-1920
This database goes a step beyond medal rolls by providing researches access to more than 25,000 citations for recipients awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, Great Britain’s second highest military honor for noncommissioned officers and enlisted personnel, in the years surrounding the Great War.

UK, Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972
This database contains lists of more than 1.5 million officers, enlisted personnel and other individuals entitled to medals and awards commemorating their service with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines between 1793 and 1972.

UK, Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1949
This database contains lists of more than 2.3 million officers, enlisted personnel and other individuals entitled to medals and awards commemorating their service in campaigns and battles for the British Army between 1793 and 1949, in Europe, Africa, China, the Middle East, and elsewhere during the height of the British Empire.

Disclaimer: In compliance with guidelines published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on December 1st, 2009, please be advised that Genealogy Today LLC (the owner of this site) has an affiliate agreement with (and/or the parent company) and may receive commissions from banners and links hosted on this page.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Arrest Warrants for Ancestors, A Genealogical Find

This week, I scanned and uploaded images from five vintage arrest warrants into the Criminal Mugshots and Wanted Posters collection. Dates on these warrants range from 1816 to 1820, and they are all from Rockingham County, New Hampshire. Here are the names (with links to the records online):

An annual subscription is required for full access to these records and the corresponding images. As with all handwritten documents, there is a greater margin for error on the interpretation of names.

I love these kinds of documents; they give a snapshot into the lives of our ancestors and the challenges they faced (or fled from). You can expect to see additional arrest warrants added to the collection in the near future.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Genealogy Exclusive: Lynn & Freeman Funeral Ledger (1926-1934)

For the first time, I've transcribed data from an original handwritten Funeral Record ledger book into the Genealogy Today Subscription Data collection. In addition, images from the ledger pages will be made available to subscribers as a result of a recent system upgrade. While the ledger itself is not labeled, papers found within tie it to the Lynn & Freeman funeral home in Portsmouth, Ohio. This ledger contains entries from 1926 to 1934, with a few from 1917. Most of the entries are legible, although overall I'd say the handwriting is sloppy in general.

As with all of the resources in the Genealogy Today Subscription Data collection, the names indexes may be searched free of charge. To see a listing of the surnames from this ledger and/or search for a specific name, visit Lynn & Freeman Funeral Ledger. A subscription for full access is only $32.95 per year.

Additional ledgers from other funeral homes will be added to the collection in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Genealogy Today expands Subscription Data service to include more Images

This week, the Genealogy Today Subscription Data service was enhanced to support additional image types, including group photos, partial document and full document images. In the past, only individual photos were made available to subscribers. Along with this enhancement, several new document collections were expanded to include the corresponding images; the Marriage Certificates and Announcements collection includes original certificates, printed announcements, intent to marry letters; and the Criminal Mugshots and Wanted Posters collection includes a variety of crime related materials.

Database listings may now have multiple images attached. For example, mug shots will include images of both sides of the document. To avoid delaying the release of new listings, some images will be available upon request. Subscribers will be prompted to fill out a short request form and the images will be posted online within two business days.

With this exciting change to the database service, subscribers should expect to see several new types of original documents and resources added in the near future.