I have found that one of the most important things I can do as a genealogist is to keep up with current events. I like to hear about new technologies, new websites and databases, and news around the US about the records that are available - or being restricted. I like to read about other genealogists' work, and how they solve problems, and about where they research. All of this information helps me to help my clients. So, to get an idea of where I get my news, here is a list of my favorite genealogy blogs:Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter: http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/
If you have time to read only one blog, this one should be top priority. Dick Eastman has been writing this newsletter since 1996, and it's full of news and helpful information.Midwestern Microhistory: http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com/
My friend Harold Henderson writes about "Genealogy and family history in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and neighbor and feeder states". Since I have ancestors in Michigan and Ohio, and have done research for clients in all of these states, this is an important one for me.
Planting the Seeds: http://michaelhait.wordpress.com/Michael Hait, a certified genealogist in the Delaware/Maryland area writes about the process of becoming a professional genealogist.Genealogy Roots Blog: http://genrootsblog.blogspot.com/As someone who uses Online Searchable Death Index and Records (http://www.deathindexes.com) on a regular basis, I need to know when updates are published. This blog notifies me of updates.GeneaWebinars: http://blog.geneawebinars.com/I've found that watching webinars is another good way to learn something new, on my own time, at home on my computer. This blog lets me know about upcoming webinars and how to register for them.Randy Majors: http://randymajors.com/Randy Majors is all about maps - he has some great tools on his blog that I need to use more often!Clue Wagon: http://www.cluewagon.com/Kerry Scott (who used to be a Human Resources executive) is hilarious and down to earth.Up Front with NGS: http://upfront.ngsgenealogy.org/
The official blog of the National Genealogical Society - this keeps me informed about new videos & publications.Marian's Roots & Rambles: http://rootsandrambles.blogspot.com/Marian Pierre-Louis has done some great webinars for Legacy Family Tree, and writes interesting and informative articles on her blog.These blogs represent a fraction of the 38 blogs I subscribe to on Google Reader. Which is informing me that I have 163 articles still unread, and more are being added every day.Now, if you'll excuse me - I have some reading to catch up on!
For every estate inventory you find online (for example, those of Revolutionary war veterans) there must be thousands, if not millions, of others in files, in boxes, in books, tucked away in dusty (or well-kept) corners of courthouses and state archives. Among the 476 pages of photocopied material I brought back from my visit to the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh is an estate inventory for Mary Stacy, deceased, widow of Buckner Stacy, who lived in Montgomery County, North Carolina. This was dated March 31st 1849, and is a fascinating look at a time and place long vanished:
1 pot, oven & hooks
2 baskets of grind stones
11 bushels cotton seed
5 bushels corn
1 sow & 8 choice shoats [young hogs]
1 coffee mill
1 lot crockery
1 pr. sheep shears & scissors
1 pr. steelyards & candle moulds
lard stand & contents
1 Bed & furniture
100 lbs. bacon
1 lot sugar & coffee
Most of these items sold for just a few cents; the most expensive item on the list was the wagon, which sold for $22. The names of the community members who bought these items are illuminating, too - many of them were the sons-in-law of Mary & Buckner, and a granddaughter, Eliza Stacy, bought a looking glass for 92 cents.
Along with this inventory, I also brought home an inventory and a will for Buckner Stacy, who died in 1842. His much shorter inventory included:
1 black mare 24.60
1 bay mare 70.85
1 dark red cow 7.00
1 black heifer 2.26
10 head of sheep 9.00
These last items were obviously slaves. One of the stipulations in Buckner Stacy's will was "that my executor should expose to publick sales my negro man West and the proceeds be applied to pay my debts".
Yes, it was a different time and place.
As of today, we're just 140 days away from the release of the 1940 US census on April 2, 2012! This release is historic for a number of reasons, first and foremost is that it will be the first census released as free digital images at the National Archives
website. The images will be there, but until the census is indexed you'll have to browse the images to find the families you're interested in. FamilySearch is now recruiting volunteers to help with the indexing of over 132 million names. You can sign up here. And you can even pick the state you're most interested in! I picked
Michigan. (You had to ask?)
This is the second post in my series about records that are not online, and perhaps never will be. In preparing to start compiling my portfolio for certification, I decided on the family I want to write about: my paternal grandmother Ruby Chase Reed, her father Henry Hickox Chase and his mother Mary Ann Hickox Chase. Each of them have fascinating stories, and I'm fortunate to have lots of original records that I received from my grandfather's estate in 1974. In looking over the records, I realized that I didn't have some basic information - such as wills or probate records. So I wrote, and then called the Manistee County Probate Clerk to see about getting those.
I had known that Henry Hickox Chase died in the Traverse City State Hospital in 1940; what I didn't know was that the Manistee County Clerk had a treasure chest of papers, waiting to be discovered. She described it on the phone as a packet of guardianship records, and just said that there were "lots" of papers. It would have cost me $1 per page to have them photocopied, so I emailed my cousin (who lives in Benzonia County, the next county north to Manistee County), and asked if she could do me a huge favor and go the courthouse to take digital photos. She and her husband drove down that very afternoon, and took 75 digital photos of the papers, some of which were too fragile to be photocopied.
Courthouses all across the country are filled with papers like these!
The recent explosion of records available online to trace your family history may lead to a false sense of security, that you've found everything there is to find on your family. This is the first part in a series highlighting how many records there are that are not yet (and perhaps never will be) online.
There may be census records, birth, marriage and death records galore, in many different online sources, but something you won't see much are digitized images of wills and probate records. In one of the many boxes at the North Carolina State Archives is a file folder for one such will. James Oliver, Revolutionary War veteran, wrote his will in 1829. In it he named his beloved wife Susannah, along with his children: John Oliver, Polly (who married William Goff), Susannah (who married James Lumbrick), Sally (who married William Shepherd), Samuel, Elizabeth, and Nancy (who married Thomas Barker). In addition, one of the witnesses to the will was Peter Oliver.
You won't find this online!
I am, by my very nature, a lifelong learner. Although I love attending conferences and institutes in order to improve my genealogical research skills, those only happen once or twice a year. I've found some great ways to continue learning in the meantime, and one of those is watching webinars. Watching a webinar (or web-based seminar) on your computer is sometimes even better than being at a national conference - you don't have to do all that walking, you can watch at midnight in your pajamas and slippers, and (if you're watching a recorded or archived webinar) you can stop it to go get lunch or let the dog in. I've found webinars to watch in a couple of different places online. The blog GeneaWebinars has a calendar and a fairly up-to-date listing of upcoming webinars. Legacy Family Tree
has sponsored some terrific webinars. A few professional genealogists, such as Michael John Neill
and Michael Hait
, present webinars for a low fee. A couple of months ago, I saw an announcement for a webinar on Selective Service Records of World War 1, sponsored by the Friends of the National Archives, Southeast Region in Atlanta. It was a simple matter to sign up with my name, email address, city and country.
When I clicked "Submit", I was greeted with a Registration Complete screen, with a link to click on when the webinar was about to start. However, there was no need to save that page, because I also got an email with that link in it. Most webinar producers are thoughtful enough to send a confirmation email, a reminder email the day before, and a last reminder email a few hours before the webinar begins. I like reminders! I usually check into the webinar about 5 minutes before it begins. Sometimes there will be an introductory
few minutes, explaining how you can participate in the webinar, by either calling in on your phone, or typing a question for the presenter. If you happen to miss the live broadcast, very often the webinar is archived on the hosting website for several days. For example, I missed the live broadcast of Marian Pierre-Louis' "Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents" on November 2, so I watched it the following day. All I had to do was click on the link
, and the webinar began playing in the browser window. This was an excellent webinar - Marian stated what she would be covering, and told us of getting the background information on this family. She included photos of original documents such as deeds that provided clues:
and showed us how seeing the places on a map make a difference in our conclusions about the family and their removal to another town. And for the grand finale, she revealed how she discovered that Nathan Brown was descended from Roger Williams, the founder of Providence, Rhode Island! Webinars are great fun, and you can watch them at home, at your own convenience
. I'm signed up for several upcoming webinars, including:
- "It is Well With My Soul: Finding Ancestors Amid the Rubble of Disaster and Misfortune (Thomas MacEntee, Nov. 9, on Legacy Family Tree)
- "Creating a Shareable CD with Legacy and Passage Express software" (Jefferson Shupe, Nov. 16, on Legacy Family Tree)
- "Tracing Immigrant Ancestors" (Lisa Alzo, Dec. 7, on Legacy Family Tree)
- "Military Personnel Records" (Kevin Pratt, Nov. 14, on Friends of the National Archives, Southeast Region)
- "Digital Books and Sites for Genealogists" (James Tanner, Jan. 4, on Legacy Family Tree)
- "Pilgrims and Patriots: Discovering Your Massachusetts Ancestors" (Marian Pierre-Louis, Jan. 18, on Legacy Family Tree)
What a great way to learn something new!!