May 24, 2015

Free Civil War Veterans Database: Soldiers and Sailors

US_Navy_031021-O-0000B-001_In_this_Mathew_Brady_photograph,_a_nine-inch_Dahlgren_gun_on_a_slide-pivot_mounting_is_seen_in_operation_aboard_a_U.S._Navy_warship_during_the_Civil_War

Navy Historical Center — In this Matthew Brady photograph, a nine-inch Dahlgren gun on a slide-pivot mounting is seen in operation aboard a U.S. Navy warship during the Civil War. A similar gun, originally mounted on the famous Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia, was recently loaned to the Fredericksburg Area Museum, Fredericksburg, Va., for a three-year exhibit. On March 9, 1862, CSS Virginia battled the Union ironclad USS Monitor in the famous Battle of Hampton Roads, an action in which the two ships fought to a virtual draw and revolutionized sea warfare. U.S. Navy file photo. Released to Wikimedia Commons. Click on image for full citation.

Recently Tom wrote in with a question about a Civil War veterans database:

“I’ve been a listener of your podcast for quite a long time.  Great job.

“We have a grass-roots group trying to locate and document Civil War Veterans buried in Washington state. Is there a good website where I can enter a name and unit identification and get results of the person’s [Civil War] service?  I’m having a really hard time finding US Navy sailors.”

It sounds like Tom is conducting a very worthwhile project! (We added the link above to the website for the project, in case you’re interested.) An excellent resource–still in progress for sailors with only about 20% of them–is The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS).

The site describes its resources as a “database containing information about the men who served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Other information on the site includes histories of Union and Confederate regiments, links to descriptions of significant battles, and selected lists of prisoner-of-war records and cemetery records, which will be amended over time.”

This is an excellent resource for soldiers. As far as sailors go: “The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System currently contains the records of approximately 18,000 African American sailors, though additional records will be added in the future. The information in the Sailors Database is derived from enlistment records and the quarterly muster rolls of Navy vessels. Approximately half of the sailors entered the service at the Navy’s established points of enlistment. For these men and women, enlistment records serve as the primary sources of information. The Howard University research team used muster rolls to fill in missing data or to correct apparent misinformation recorded at the time of enlistment. Information about the remainder of the enlistees was derived directly from these muster rolls. When research uncovered inconsistencies in the data (such as conflicting reports of an individual’s age at the time of enlistment) the most frequently recorded response was used.”

“Descendants of Civil War sailors will find biographical details regarding age, place of birth, and occupation that may help supplement or clarify details from such other sources of genealogical information as birth, death, and census records. Moreover, information about any individual sailor’s enlistment and service is necessary for determining the presence or absence of their pension records at the National Archives.”  Click here to read an article from the National Archives about African-American servicemen in the Navy in the Civil War. I covered the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors database in the free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 149. Be sure to check out the show notes page (click the link I’ve provided.) There you’ll find the information written out for you and the links I discuss in the episode.

Civil War bookIf a Navy ancestor isn’t among those already listed, my first instinct is always to turn to Google searches first. I ran a search in Google Books for free (fully digitized) books meeting the criteria “civil war” “sailors” and there are some resources there as well. Here’s a link to the search results. One example is the book shown here to the left: Manchester Men, which appears to be a published list of those who served from Manchester, N.H. (click on the book cover to read it in Google Books). Learn more about Google searching for “niche” topics like this in the fully-revised and updated 2nd edition of my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.

 

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records online

Every Friday, we blog about new genealogy records online. Might these collections include your ancestors? This week: Civil War stereographs, Dublin workhouse registers, Illinois naturalizations, a Jersey digital archive and Oregon motor registrations and offenses. Don’t miss our Google tip at the end!

CIVIL WAR STEREOGRAPHS. “The Library of Congress has acquired 540 rare and historic Civil War stereographs from the Robin G. Stanford Collection,” says a press release. “The first 77 images are now online, including 12 stereographs of President Lincoln’s funeral procession through several cities and 65 images by Southern photographers showing South Carolina in 1860-61. The images can be viewed in this gallery within the Library’s Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. More images will be added each month, until all are online.”

DUBLIN WORKHOUSE REGISTERS. More than 1.5 million Dublin workhouse registers, 1840-1919 are now searchable for FindMyPast subscribers. Records include both images and transcripts, and may contain names, marital status, occupation, religion, age, birth year, admission year, name of workhouse and (on images) details about family, condition upon admitttance and date left workhouse or died.

ILLINOIS NATURALIZATIONS. Over a half million digitized images are searchable for free at US, Illinois, Northern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1906–1994 at FamilySearch.

JERSEY HERITAGE DIGITAL ARCHIVE. Over 300,000 items are now searchable at the subscription website Jersey Heritage Archives & Collections OnlineFeatured collections include registration cards of 30,000+ Channel Islanders who were there during the WWII German occupation. You’ll also find Jersey parish records dating to 1842 and (under Superintendent Registrar) parish registers from 1540-1842 and post-1842 civil marriage records.

OREGON MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATIONS AND CONVICTIONS for 1911-1946 are now searchable by Ancestry subscribers. Registrations include license number, name and address of the vehicle owner (including county in parentheses), make of car, motor number, model or year of manufacture and type of body. Records of convictions name the offender, date, offense, license number, court, county and the amount of any fines.

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 Tip of the week: Whenever you look at any record of an ancestor, ask what additional documents, images, video footage or historical material this record points you toward. For example, you might learn from an above record that Grandpa drove a 1935 Auburn Speedster or that a relative suffered from the German occupation on Jersey. Google searches on these niche topics can lead you to a Speedster photograph or historical materials (including footage) on the occupation, like this interview with a survivor of the German occupation. Learn how to search for gems like these in Lisa’s totally-revised, updated 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.

Find Old Maps and More: Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 122

Genealogy Gems Premium PodcastGenealogy Gems Premium members can now listen to Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 122! This episode brings to your ears the newest Premium video: Best Websites for Finding Historical Maps.

My favorite take-away from this Premium episode? The shownotes! There’s a FULL-PAGE table on Lisa’s favorite websites for free historical maps. Below is a “teaser” of the table with just the categories shown: the name of the website, how many maps it offers, the geographic coverage, what time frame, whether the maps are available for re-use by you and valuable search tips for each.

Historic maps shownotes teaser

This table can be YOUR key to unlocking the old map treasures you want to pluck from the hundreds of thousands of maps available online.

Newspaper inventionAlso in this Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode, Lisa  is joined by Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard, who talks about fascinating developments in genetic genealogy in the U.K. The episode wraps with some fun trivia: a landmark invention in history that catapulted us into the modern Newspaper Age in the late 1800s. Here’s a patent drawing of that invention: can you tell what it is?? Tune in to the episode to find out.

free_pc_400_wht_2095Not a Genealogy Gems Premium member yet? Take us for a test drive! Click here to listen to a FREE episode of our flagship Genealogy Gems podcast. Click here to watch a FREE excerpt from the Premium historical maps video on using Sanborn maps for genealogy. If you love what you see and hear, consider becoming a Genealogy Gems Premium member so you have access to hours and hours of Genealogy Gems programs!

Family Tree DNA Privacy Update: Why Private Trees?

Private trees FTDNAWhile attending the NGS conference in beautiful St. Charles recently–during a rare calm moment at the Genealogy Gems booth–I slipped over to the Family Tree DNA booth to talk to Taylor Trusty, the FTDNA product manager. There’s been a question on my mind about Family Tree DNA privacy since my last post about them: why are we seeing “private trees” when we use the new global GEDCOM search?

He explained that one of the main reasons is due to the fact that FTDNA has a game plan, and they want to make sure that their privacy settings are going to be able to accommodate these upcoming integrations. So, they have erred on the conservative side. Because the consent form that you signed when you were tested indicated that you would be showing your information to your “matches,” FTDNA is hesitant to show your information to your non-matches, like what happens in the global search. So your name will not show up attached to your pedigree chart in the global search (even to your matches!) unless you change your privacy settings.

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064If you want to change this, click your name in the upper right corner, then click Account Settings, Click on the Genealogy tab and change “Deceased people born in the last 100 years” to Public. Taylor is promising that an email will go out at the end of June encouraging everyone to do just this.

Using DNA for Genealogy Ancestry Family Tree DNA GuidesFor more help using FTDNA, check out my quick guide, Understanding Family Tree DNA, available on its own or as part of my DNA super bundle (click on the image to the left to read about the bundle). This inexpensive laminated guide will help you save time and frustration while helping you get the most out of your investment in DNA for genealogy.

As always, if you’re ready for a personal consultation with me, you can reach me through my website, YourDNAGuide.com. I help people decide what testing is right for their family history questions–and I help them make the most of their results.

Free Video: How to Read a Faded Tombstone Without Damaging the Stone

Tombstone editRecently I heard from listener Tom, who is trying to document Civil War veterans from Washington state. “I am taking pictures of their headstones,” he says. “I currently use just a spray bottle and soft brush to wash away the 100 years plus of dirt so I can better see and photograph the inscriptions. Do you have a better way to clean and photograph or maybe rub the headstones?”

I don’t recommend tombstone rubbings because each time a genealogist does that it wears the headstone down just a little bit more, causing deterioration.

However, I have a better solution for how to read a faded tombstone. I created a free video based on an article I wrote for Family Tree Magazine. It’s called Grave Transformations and you can watch it for free on Family Tree Magazine’s YouTube channel or just watch below. The idea is that instead of touching the headstone at all, you can simply manipulate your photographic images of it instead! Watch the video and you’ll see those faded letters come back into view. It’s pretty cool!

Family History and Genealogy on YouTubeDid you know the Genealogy Gems You Tube Channel has over 70 free videos on a wide variety of genealogical topics? Click to go to our channel’s home page. Be sure to click the SUBSCRIBE button on the channel so that you won’t miss our new videos when they are published!

Google Keep versus Evernote for Your Note-Taking Needs

organize app Evernote google keepGoogle Keep, Google’s note-taking app, is getting better. According to a post on an unofficial Google blog, “Google Keep now lets you add labels to your notes. Just click the 3-dot icon below the note and select ‘add label.’ There are 3 default labels (inspiration, personal, work), but you can add your own labels.” The post goes on to describe the navigation menu, show how to export notes to Google docs and create recurring reminders.

According to the post, “The new features are available in Google Keep’s web app, Chrome app and Android app (Google Keep 3.1).”

How does Google Keep compare to Evernote? Well, I’m a longtime Evernote user who wrote a genealogist’s quick guide to using Evernote (see below) and provides the Ultimate Evernote Education to my Genealogy Gems Premium members. I might be just a bit biased when I say I still whole-heartedly prefer Evernote–but that’s because of what I do with Evernote, which is full-scale organization of my life and genealogy research across all my devices.

One tech writer’s post on Google Keep v Evernote indicates that she likes the simple functionality of Google Keep for quick notes. Yet, she writes, “I’m a big fan of Evernote as well, because of its strong organizing options–tags and saved searches, notebooks and stacked notes–but it can be overwhelming for simple note-taking. It is, however, cross-platform and, unlike Google Keep, more likely to stick around (former Google Reader users might be afraid to sign up for a new Google app that could be pulled suddenly).” I have to agree with this last comment. Actions speak louder than words, and they are evidence worth pondering.

Another post, though it’s a little older, sings a similar tune: “While there is some overlap [with Google Keep], Evernote is still a much more robust product with a bigger feature set and far greater device compatibility. Google Keep has an attractive user interface and is being met with a pretty positive response—an average rating of 4.4/5 stars in the Google Play store so far, but it’s presently nowhere near Evernote’s capabilities.”

Still a third writer has figured out how to use both apps, just for different tasks. For my part, reading through all these opinions reminded me how fortunate we are that technology gives us so many options to help us meet our needs. The challenge is figuring out how to use the powerful tools we have at our fingertips. That’s what we specialize in here at Genealogy Gems.

For me, I’m sticking with Evernote. One of the most compelling reasons in addition to many (cross-platform functionality, synchronization to all devices, OCR…) is that note-taking is Evernote’s primary focus. It’s not one of dozens of products (which is the boat that Google Keep and OneNote are aboard.) Instead, it is the singular purpose of Evernote’s research, development and execution. I like that kind of dedication when it comes to something as precious as my genealogy research notes.

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference GuideAre you ready to harness Evernote’s powerful organizational tools? My laminated quick guides (image left) for using Evernote for Genealogy (for Windows or Mac) will get you started right away.

Those who are ready to take Evernote to the next level will likely LOVE my Evernote video class series, available to Genealogy Gems Premium members. Full-length classes include:

3 Sources for Historic Maps that May Surprise You

Old maps are an essential tool for discovering more about your family’s history. If you have exhausted more traditional sources, here are three places to find maps that may surprise you.

#1 Surprising Finds within the David Rumsey Map Collection

www.davidrumsey.com

You’re probably aware that the David Rumsey map collection website is a terrific source for old maps. But you may be surprised by the variety of maps, some which you likely don’t come across every day. Here’s a fun little tactic I took today to see what it may hold in store beyond typical maps. A search of the word neighborhood reveals that their holdings go well beyond traditional maps. Here’s an example from San Francisco showing a neighborhood in its infancy:
google earth maps for genealogy

And the image below depicts the Country Club district of Kansas City in the 1930s. If your family lived there at that time, this is a real gem.

Google earth for genealogy maps

#2 Google Books

www.books.google.com

If you think Google Books is just books, think again. Historic maps, often unique and very specific, can often be found within those digitized pages. Try running a Google search such as: neighborhood map baltimore. 

Click the MORE menu and select BOOKS. Then click the SEARCH TOOLS button at the top of the results list, and from the drop down menu select ANY BOOKS and then click FREE GOOGLE BOOKS:

baltimore search

Select a book that looks promising. Then rather than reading through the pages or scanning the index, save loads of time by clicking the thumbnail view button at the top of the book. This way you can do a quick visual scan for pages featuring maps!

baltimore history

When you find a page featuring a map, click it display it on a single page. You can now use the clipper tool built right in to Google Books to clip an image of the map. Other options include using Evernote (free) or Snagit ($).

Google Image search for maps google books

#3 Old Newspapers at Chronicling America

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

Like Google Books, the digitized pages housed at the Chronicling America website contain much more than just text. Old newspapers printed maps to help readers understand current events like the progress of war or the effect of a natural disaster. This map from The Tacoma Times in 1914 shows a map of Europe and several quick facts about the “Great War,” World War I:

The Tacoma Times, August 22, 1914. Image from Chronicling America. Click on image to visit webpage.

The Tacoma Times, August 22, 1914. Image from Chronicling America. Click on image to visit webpage.

Here’s one more example below. A search for “San Francisco earthquake” at Chronicling America brought up this bird’s eye view of San Francisco at the time of the major 1906 earthquake. Articles below the map explain what you’re seeing:

The Minneapolis Journal, April 19, 1906. Image at Chronicling America; click on image to see it there.

The Minneapolis Journal, April 19, 1906. Image at Chronicling America; click on image to see it there.

Learn more about using newspapers to understand your ancestors’ lives in my book, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. 

Want more inspiring ideas for finding historic maps? Below is my FREE 8-minute video on using Sanborn maps. This is an excerpt from my Genealogy Gems Premium video, “5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps.” (Premium membership required to watch that full video along with others like “Best Websites for Finding Historical Maps.”)

Link Your Home Movies to Your Family Tree

figure_at_3d_movie_800_13404More old home movies are being digitized and more historical footage is coming online. Do you know how to integrate these with your family tree or blog? Wouldn’t it be great to show that you found great-grandpa in four censuses, the SSDI and a 1937 news reel showing him driving his fire truck? (That really did happen to me. Click here to read about it and see the footage.)

Here a few ways you can share your old family footage online:

1. If you have have a free Google account, then you have a free YouTube channel! You can upload old footage as well as movies YOU make of still images. Then you can use the Share > Embed feature to include the video on your own genealogy blogs. Click here to watch an inspiring video Lisa made about her ancestor, a nurse in training.

2. If you have Legacy Republic digitize your old family movies, you can upload them through your Legacy Republic account into your FamilySearch family tree. (Click here to watch a video about how it works.)

3. Add an online video source citation to your Ancestry tree. Create a new source in an ancestor’s individual profile. The Source Citation section asks for any URL related to this citation. Enter the URL. Then it asks whether you have media items to attach. You will be walked through the process of uploading video from your own computer. If you choose the option to record a video, Ancestry will access your computer’s microphone and camera and record you speaking for up to 12 minutes.

tv_film_icon_400_wht_15178 (1)Wish you knew more about how making or finding family footage? Learn more here:

  • Genealogy Gems Premium members can click here to access a Premium podcast and video on how to create your own family history video (learn more about Premium membership here).
  • Click here to watch Lisa’s free YouTube series about blogging your family history or click here to listen to free Family History Made Easy podcast episodes about genealogy blogging (episodes 38-42).
  • Learn about finding and using old film footage on YouTube and other websites in the updated-for-2015 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox (there’s an entire, expanded chapter on YouTube that inspired my own find of that 1937 newsreel).

 

MyHeritage App Ranks in Top 100–and Gets A Redesign

MyHeritage app updateThe MyHeritage app is growing in popularity around the world, and it’s got a fresh new update!

A “completely redesigned version of our mobile app for iOS and Android” is now available, says Chief Genealogist Daniel Horowitz. “The enhanced app enables families around the world to build their family tree, instantly discover ancestors and relatives, and preserve and share their legacy, all with a better looking and more intuitive interface.” Download the free app here: iOS and Android.

The mobile app is increasingly popular around the world, says Daniel. “So far more than 4 million people have downloaded the MyHeritage app, and its usage is growing worldwide. Within the last 3 months, the MyHeritage app for Android has ranked in the top 100 apps in its category on Google Play in 40 countries. In addition it is currently ranked in the top 5 apps in its category in Denmark and Norway in both Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

“The Android version was recently selected by Google as a ‘featured app’ in more than 100 countries, making MyHeritage the first company in the family history industry to receive such recognition.” Watch the video below about the redesigned app:

how to start a genealogy blogClick here to see why we partner with MyHeritage here at Genealogy Gems. Want to learn about more various genealogy apps? Go to our home page and, from the category list on the left, select “apps.”

We Dig These Gems: New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records online

Every Friday, we blog about new genealogy records online. Might these collections include your ancestors? Today: British apprenticeships, Cleveland Jewish newspapers, Costa Rica civil registrations, Croatia church books, North Dakota state censuses, and Pennsylvania Civil War rosters.

BRITISH APPRENTICE RECORDS. FindMyPast subscribers can now Britain, Country Apprentices, 1710-1808. These nationwide registers for apprenticeships “recorded the tax paid for each indenture for an apprentice. The average apprenticeship was seven years.” Records may include an ancestor’s parent(s), his/her master and the profession chosen.

CLEVELAND OH JEWISH NEWSPAPERS. The Cleveland Jewish News Archives has added digitized newspapers that preceded the Cleveland Jewish News (already online) back to 1893. Among the papers included are these weeklies: The Hebrew Observer (1889-1899), The Jewish Independent (1906-1964 weekly), The Jewish Review (1893-1899) and The Jewish Review and Observer (1899-1964). Subscription required.

COSTA RICA CIVIL REGISTRATION. More than a million indexed records have been added to the free browsable digital images of Costa Rice Civil Registration, 1860-1975 at FamilySearch. This includes “Births, marriages, deaths, legitimizations and indexes created by civil registration offices in Costa Rica.”

CROATIA CHURCH BOOKS. Nearly 3 million indexed records have been added to FamilySearch’s free collection of Croatia Church Books, 1516-1994. Browsable images are already online. According to the collection description, “Records of births and baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials peformed by priests in Croatia. Includes vital records of Jews. These records were acquired from the Croatian State Archive. Baptisms through 1900 can be searched.”

NORTH DAKOTA CENSUSES. Over 350,000 indexed records each for North Dakota censuses of 1915 and 1925 are now searchable for free at FamilySearch. Included in these records are names, titles, relations to heads of household, hold, race, residence and family number.

PENNSYLVANIA CIVIL WAR MUSTERS. Ancestry subscribers can now search Pennsylvania Civil War Muster Rolls, 1860-1869. Says Ancestry, “This collection includes muster out rolls, arranged by regiment and thereunder by company. They list the soldier’s name, age, rank, unit, regiment and company; the date, place, and person who mustered him in; the period of enlistment; and the name of the commanding officer. Other details can include where the soldier enlisted, whether he was drafted or was paid as a substitute, pay earned, money owed to the U.S. for clothing or missing equipment, promotions, capture by the enemy, illnesses, and bounty paid and owed. At the end of the musters, transfers, deaths, and deserters were often listed, typically with details about the circumstances (e.g., where and when transferred; cause, date, and location of deaths; dates and places of desertion, etc.).”

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Here’s a tip: Always read the descriptions for online collections you are searching. The descriptions generally tell you the source of the records; which records are included/missing; what genealogical data you may find in them and tips for searching the dataset. Some websites also suggest related databases. This tip comes to you courtesy of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke, freshly updated and completely revised for 2015!