Saturday, March 27, 2010

NGS Conference in Salt Lake City, Apr. 28 - May 1

A recent article in USA Today, "History buffs head to Salt Lake City for genealogy events" highlights some upcoming genealogy events, including the 2010 NGS Family History Conference (NGS), to be held April 28 through May 1, 2010 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Sponsored by the National Genealogical Society, the Salt Lake Conference is always a hit for its close proximity to the LDS Family History Library. For more information visit the Conference website

Oh, the Place You'll Go . . .

Adoption has long been one of those sensitive subjects spoken in whispers. It's a complex subject, balancing the early development of a child with the pressing reality of heritage as the child grows to adulthood. Most of us have seen both sides of the story, either in our own families or in others close to us. Knowing one's cultural and genetic heritage is important and can be enlightening, as noted in a recent article on, "Adoption reform in N.J.: Filling in a blank in the family history." In search of her father's birth family, in large measure for health purposes, the writer discovered a cultural history she could not have imagined. One of the most intriguing things about family history is the many places you will go on the journey. And even for those who do not wish to "claim" their heritage -- and some do not -- the knowledge may still fill a few blanks.

A Little Perspective

A recent article on by noted genealogists Sharon Tate-Moody, "New TV show inspires, but remember: It's TV," offers some perspective, especially for beginning researchers, on the current, "Who Do You Think You Are," television series. As the author points out, it all looks so easy, "celebrities do seem to find their forefathers without a lot of effort," but, hey, this is television. "Many hours, days, weeks, perhaps months, went into finding the materials culled into the hourlong (minus commercial time) episodes." The article offers a few practical pointers for new researchers, balancing "real" reality from TV reality.

Are You Ready to Go Pro? Achieving a Certification in Genealogy

If you've ever considered genealogical certification, you may be interested to read Rita Marshall's article, "Are You Ready to Go Pro? Achieving a Certification in Genealogy." The article outlines requirements for certification and accreditation. While board certification is clearly the more rigorous of the two, either will allow you to test your "genealogy chops."

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.

Friday, March 19, 2010

More than a cemetery survey . . .

Some months ago, I wrote about an in-depth history of the cemeteries of Logansport, Louisiana, published by two women of advanced age. Most intriguing was the research behind the book -- more than a cemetery survey, the ladies endeavored to research the families of those buried. This week, an article on, "The history in East Tennessee cemeteries is well-documented thanks to Robert McGinnis," tells the story (along with a video of the interview) of a Knox County, Tennesse man who has documented the cemeteries of 16 East and Middle Tennessee counties, and like the ladies of Logansport, provides research and even documentation on many of those buried. 

An ambitious project it was:

"He's taken all this information and packed it into 34 books that not only tell you which grave is, where and who it belongs to, but it goes one step further. "We add in information like wills, birth certificates, information on deaths, obituaries, marriage records. Fill it out a little bit, give it more of a life story."

What the article did not tell us is where the books could be accessed or which counties had been surveyed, so I did a little research and queried the author. I learned that only four of the 16 counties surveyed have actually been published in book form: Knox, Anderson, Grainger, and Blount. Each county is a multi-volume set, and some volumes are not yet complete. As for accessing what has been published, you can check local libraries for the counties completed. I also found some 17 of the publications under the author's name in the Library Catalog of Family History Library. Some of the information (probably not the complete histories), especially for Knox County, is online.

Smithsonian Commemorates 100 Years on the National Mall

Those interested in modern DNA studies and deep ancestry, may be interested to know of a new and permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian, noted in The Washington Post, "Smithsonian's Natural History Museum opens its Hall of Human Origins." The 15,000-square-foot exhibit opened this week, to commemorate 100 years on the National Mall. Its a story replete with drama, the article says, and "even a little tenderness." 

The Compleat Database: DNA and Health

Much is said these days about recording family health information, and we know the benefit of providing this information to our family doctor. Many people are even taking DNA tests to better understand their health risks, a practice that is often debated. As genealogists, we are interested in every aspect of our ancestor's lives and are equally interested in our heritage, cultural and physical. Recording this information in the genealogical database is the subject of Judy Rosella Edwards' most recent article, "The Compleat Database: DNA and Health." The article explores the types of information we might want to record and how such information might be used.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Songs of Yesterday: Danny Boy

It wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day without hearing at least one version of the "Danny Boy," a favorite among Irish and non-Irish alike. In her article, "Songs of Yesterday: Danny Boy," Jean Hibben explores the history of the song, including the perhaps unresolvable issue of the song's age, in addition to its origin, and the supposed meaning of its lyrics. What may be surprising to some is the multi-national history of this revered Irish anthem, which does nothing to reduce its charm.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Search Open-Access Text Archive from Live Roots

This online book project, established by Internet Archive, is similar to Google Books and allows you to view close to two million books online, or download a digitized version to your local computer. You'll find a quick link to the new Internet Archive Text Search at the bottom of Live Roots search results in the section labeled "Available Partner Services". This search, along with all of the other integrated real-time searches, allows you to expand your genealogy search beyond the Live Roots catalog.

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Archives Preview added to Live Roots

A relative newcomer to the genealogy marketplace, has been aggregating a variety of vital record sources. Today, I added a search preview for the site, along with cataloging the various resources they have collected so far. There is currently no method for searching a specific resource, only record types (birth/marriage/death/etc). Last year, they launched an article feature called Expert Series -- a variety of well-respected genealogists have been contributing articles. All of the articles have also been cataloged, and I'll be tracking the feature for any new additions.

All Things Irish

Included here in honor of St. Patrick's Day, those interested in Irish genealogy may enjoy The The Small-Leaved Shamrock blog, selected by Family Tree Magzine as one of the top 5 heritage blogs. Focused on the author's personal family history, this blog links to others of the author's blogs, including the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture blog, of more general interest.

Beating the Search Engines and Inside "Who Do You Think You Are"

The ProGenealogist Blog this week, "Be Smarter Than a Search Engine," provides tips for combating the limitations of some search engines. It is hard sometimes to find just the right keyword; in many cases, you know the information should be there, but how to get to it is another question. And we'd all like to learn more about how to pull out those hidden bits and pieces we don't even know about.

As a side note, ProGenealogists in its March 3 blog revealed the company's involvement in the NBC production of "Who Do You Think You Are," and ProGenealogist CEO Natalie Cottrill appeared in the first episode with Sarah Jessica Parker. The blog offers a video of this first segment and indicates it will be posting "individual webpages for different episodes providing “behind-the-scene” insights that will better explain just how we found the clinching document or story that was presented in the show."

What I like about these webpages, covering two episodes, so far, is that it does provide some insight into the research process that can help others doing genealogy. And, if you're lucky, the show might touch on something relevant to your own genealogy -- maybe you had a Gold Rush ancestor and did not know "as many as ten people died for every mile traveled along the route."

Getting a Handle on Genetic Genealogy

The Genetic Genealogist Blog may be of interest to those who would like more information about the relationship of genetic testing and genealogy research. On his About page, the author explains the four types of genealogical DNA testing and his approach to the subject. The blog may be great place for keeping up with what's new in the field and what's being talked about. The blog this week compares the types of DNA testing done on a recent episode of the "Faces of America" program, currently airing on PBS. It's a chance, perhaps, to gain a greater understanding and know more about what's possible as this exciting new field expands.

Research Me, I'm Irish: Five Tips for Tracing Irish Ancestry

In her article, "Research Me, I'm Irish: Five Tips for Tracing Irish Ancestry," Rita Marshall gives some sound and practical advice for researching your Irish ancestors. Chief among her advice is, "Don't go to Ireland. . . . At least not yet." Like any other research, it's very hard to jump in the middle of something until you have found sufficient leads indicating you are researching in the right place. Ireland is especially difficult given the lack of early records. My own family has a line going back to Northern Ireland in the early 1700s. While the chances of documenting this immigrant ancestor in Ireland at that time period looks quite bleak, the article does give some tips on ways to narrow the field.

How to Test for DNA

Can taking a DNA test shed light on your family history? It's hard to generalize, but more and more they are finding that DNA studies can help extend the family tree and possibly shed light on long-standing family mysteries. Of course, you have to know a little about the types of DNA tests and what they can or cannot reveal, as well as who in your family would be the most likely candidate for taking a test. This week, in his article, "How to Test for DNA," Alan Smith examines the process of locating a reputable company and ease with with which a test can be taken.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Is Alice in YOUR family tree?

It may not be such a stretch when you consider authors often base their characters on real people. The inspirations for the works of James Barrie and Lewis Carrroll just happen to be well known. With all the hype over Tim Burton's new Alice in Wonderland, which is certainly a far cry from Disney, prompted one enterprising genealogist trace the original Alice's family tree, according to an article on Oxford Mail, "Rose Hill woman's 'Liddell' bit of Alice in Wonderland." More or less out of the blue, an Oxford woman, Lisa Liddell, received a call telling her she was a cousin three times removed from the original Alice. According to the article Liddell had some prior knowledge of a supposed link to Alice, but it wasn't fresh on her mind. What fictional character would you like most to be related?

Document traces six generations back for some 200 colonial families

A "treasure trove" of colonial data documenting some 200 immigrants of Plymouth, Massachusetts and New Amseterdam (present day New York) has been discovered and is now being offered for sale in the form of eight, 2-foot by 3-foot charts, as reported on, "New Jersey ‘genealogical gold’ is available in Belvidere, Flemington." According to the article, "The data traces the families through six generations. In total, over 3,000 individuals, all related by blood or marriage, are included, providing many genealogical connections for current New Jersey residents. The material was compiled in 1978 by Joseph N. Kearney of the Roadmaps-Thru-History Association in Los Angeles." For those with colonial ancestry, this will be a delight. My own research goes back to New Utrecht, with an ancestor who arrived in 1657, was an early settler of New Utrecht and is said to have died in New Amsterdam. Tracing a line six generations back from 1657 would be something, indeed. The article gives a sampling of names but, alas, our name was not on the list.

Library of Michigan to Lose Genealogy and Federal Document Holdings

Sad to hear --  The Library of Michigan, transferred last year to the Michigan Department of Education and facing severe budget cuts is now forced to narrow its scope and lose its support for genealogy and federal documents, as reported on, "Library of Michigan, Facing Cuts, To Drop Genealogy and Federal Documents." The library is "committed" to finding good stewards, but some are worried the move will limit access, if nothing more than owing to space limitations.

"While most state libraries have genealogy collections, non-state collections are more rare, and Robertson described Michigan’s as one of the top ten in the country, with more than 44,000 volumes of book materials and close to 100,000 volumes of microform."

I have a personal affection for Michigan records. In doing one branch of our family line, I was delighted by the extent of Michigan records available on FamilySearch Labs. While it certainly cannot substitute for a library full of records, it's a good place to start.

The Compleat Database: Non-traditional Relationships

Accurately identifying relationships in genealogy can be tricky business. In her article, "The Compleat Database: Non-traditional Relationships," Judy Rosella Edwards explores the issue of tracking such relationships in the genealogy database. Incorrectly identifying a relationship can lead a researcher down the wrong path, so it is important to cautious in the analysis and make no assumptions.  It is also important to make note of non-traditional relationships in the notes section, if your genealogy database does not provide a specific place.

Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: Weaponry Wording, Part 2

In her second article on the subject, "Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles:Weaponry Wordings, Part 2," Jean Hibben presents the origin for a lot of the very pithy words in our vocabulary. Seems the words of weaponry pack a powerful punch, literally and figuratively.