July 28, 2015

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 125: Research at the Public Library

Premium podcast 125 with library cardThese three quick tips and a new podcast episode can help you research your family history at the public library, which is both free and convenient!

In Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 125, now available to Premium members in the members-only section of our website,  Lisa Louise Cooke welcomesCheryl 5 (2) Cheryl McClellan, the genealogist for the Geauga County Public Library system in Ohio. They chat about how to use your library card to check out your ancestors, not just books!

Cheryl shares seven great tips for researching at public libraries. Here are three of those tips:

  • Generally, using the Library Edition of a genealogy subscription database like Ancestry Library Edition or MyHeritage Library Edition is a little different than logging in at home as a subscriber. However, Findmypast Library Edition lets users login as a free user and build a tree on the site, so you CAN attach records while researching in the Library Edition.
  • HeritageQuest Online is a database available only at libraries, with quick access to U.S. census records being an absolute plus. Cheryl shares what she loves about it.
  • Library websites for your ancestor’s hometown may have a page of genealogy links to digital memory websites, obituary projects, etc. Sometimes they have indexes to local records, too!

We’ll also catch you up with mail from our readers and listeners, share new tips on using Gmail and Evernote and more.

Genealogy Gems Premium MembershipIf you’re ready to become a Genealogy Gems Premium member so you can access this and ALL previous Premium podcast episodes, as well exclusive full-length video tutorials on Lisa’s most popular topics (think Evernote, Google and Google Earth, and organizing your files), click here.

Old Artifacts Become New Again: Jewelry with Found Objects

necklances closeupWhat old family artifacts do you have that would make a great piece of jewelry?

Recently I heard again from Gems follower Jen McGraw, whose question inspired a recent blog post on researching in state capitals. “I make necklaces with vintage postage stamps (from the 1890s thru 1970s) or vintage skeleton keys,” she told me. “I would love to make one for you and give it to you as a gift of thanks for your info and help.” She asked what countries I’m interested in (she has stamps from just about everywhere) and what color metals I wear, then custom-created this gift for me. (She does this for others, too: here’s her Facebook page.)

FullSizeRender (1)A public thanks to Jen–I love this new necklace! What fun to see how she has incorporated these old stamps and keys into new jewelry. Jewelry with found objects is unique and trendy, but I love it because it can be a real conversation-starter. The colorful designs on stamps and their history can say something about the wearer’s family history. To me, old keys symbolize unlocking the fascinating mysteries of the past.

I have blogged before about incorporating family history into jewelry, like this post about turning a piece of found jewelry (a single earring) into a unique hair accessory. I love hearing about YOUR creative displays and jewelry, too: feel free to send your pictures and stories!  Click here to read our blog posts about crafts and displays, or follow my Pinterest board on Family History Craft Projects.

How to Reconstruct Your Early Childhood Memories and Stories

Most of us don’t recall our early years well. How can we tell our life’s story if we don’t remember the first chapter?

I’ve learned to use whatever scraps the past gives me. That’s what I did in a scrapbook I put together a few years ago that reconstructs my early childhood. I realized when looking through this album that I actually cobbled together the past from four different sources, only one of which was my own memory:

my childhood my parents memories1. The family slide collection. I grew up in the 1970s, when slide photography was all the rage (at least with my dad). Several years ago, I scanned all the slides. My digital copies of the slides became the main narrative for the album.

2. My parents’ memories, captured in an oral history interview. One day, I got both my parents on the phone at the same time. I asked them to look through their CD of the family slides as I looked through my copy. As we looked at each picture–even the not-so-great ones–I asked what memories surfaced. Different things came to mind for each of them, which was fantastic. They captioned the photos for me, filling in the stories behind the pictures.

my childhood my baby book3. My baby book. My parents already had my 11-month old brother by the time I came along. So Mom didn’t have a lot of time to write much down. But there are a few gems in my baby book: my mom’s memories and memorabilia from when I was born. These filled in more gaps in my childhood story.

my childhood my memories4. My own vague childhood memories. All these pictures and memories jogged loose fragments of my own memories. They are still fragmented; some don’t make much sense or tell a whole story. But taken together with everything else, they help reconstruct my childhood enough that I have a much better sense of it now.

The family historian in me made sure I identified the source of each story in the album. My parents’ memories are tagged as such, as are excerpts from my baby book. I typed up my own memories and put them in my own voice.

Who is living who knows something about your childhood? Parents? Step-parents? Grandparents? Aunts or uncles? Friends of the family? What family artifacts or albums may be in the attic, basement or on a shelf? Ask them to help give you back your own past!

Resources:

Family History for Kids Starts WITH the Kids

Family History Genealogy Made Easy PodcastOur free Family History Made Easy podcast offers great episodes on topics related to this post: Lisa covers finding family history at homeinterviewing skills, and how to contact long-lost relatives (episodes 13 and 14).

Genealogy Gems Premium members can listen to Premium podcast episode 116, which has an interview with Laura Hedgecock, author of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life(Click here to learn more about Premium membership.)

 

 

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. Do any collections below relate to your family history? Please share with genealogy buddies or societies that might be interested! This week:

BRITISH NEWSPAPERS. Over 800,000 new articles have been added to the British newspaper collections at Findmypast. You’ll find coverage from 19 new newspapers, along with over 138,000 new articles in The Berwick Advertiser, over 108,000 in The Sheffield Evening Telegraph and over 60,000 in The Falkirk Herald. Click here to read more about the additions.

CANADA YEARBOOKS. Ancestry just released over 1 million Canadian yearbook entries between 1908 and 2010. These span middle school to college years and can help fill in an ancestor’s younger years while pinpointing a family residence for that year. Note: these records were indexed by OCR and may contain errors. Be sure to browse them as well as search!

ENGLAND SYNAGOGUES. TheGenealogist has released online 99,500 records of London synagogue seat-holders spanning the years from 1920 to 1939. Eighteen synagogues and affiliated guilds, societies and charities are represented. These include “names of gentlemen eligible for office, life member of the council, women who are seatholders in their own right and seatholders who are not eligible to vote….These fully indexed records allow family historians to search by name, keyword, synagogue and address and with one click see an image taken from the pages of Seatholders for Synagogues in London.”

US SOCIAL SECURITY. This is a critical update to our ability to access information in U.S. Social Security applications! This Ancestry index from applications and claims for 1936-2007. “This database picks up where the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) leaves off by providing more details than those included in the SSDI,” says the database description. “It includes information filed with the Social Security Administration through the application or claims process, including valuable details such as birth date, birth place, and parents’ names. While you will not find everybody who is listed in the SSDI in this database, data has been extracted for more than 49 million people.” Some data will not appear for newer records; click the above link to read more about it.

 

NEW! Try this now! U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index

Ancestry Publishes U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007

The new U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index 1936 – 2007 is a critical update to our ability to access information in U.S. Social Security applications, and perfect companion to the SSDI.

“This database picks up where the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) leaves off by providing more details than those included in the SSDI,” says the database description. “It includes information filed with the Social Security Administration through the application or claims process, including valuable details such as birth date, birth place, and parents’ names. While you will not find everybody who is listed in the SSDI in this database, data has been extracted for more than 49 million people.” Some data will not appear for newer records; click here to read more about it and access the index.

Let’s take a look at the difference between the SSDI and the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index. (Click here to read a great article by the Legal Genealogist about the limitations of the SSDI.)

First a search on Charles A. Burkett in the SSDI:

Social Security Death Index SSDI

As you can see, the information is fairly limited. And there’s something else very important missing here. In the Suggested Records list on the right, the new U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index is not listed. This is an important reminder that we must not rely solely on the bread crumb trails on any genealogy website to lead us to all online available records.

Now I’ll search for him in the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index:

U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index

And now I have his mother’s and father’s names!

Check back tomorrow (and every Friday) here at the Genealogy Gems blog for our full list of new and updated records from around the web.

 

WDYTYA? Premieres Sunday, July 26 at 9/8c

WDYTYA? Who do you think you are Jennifer GoodwinActress Ginnifer Goodwin (from ABC’s Once Upon A Time) knew nothing about her paternal grandfather John Barton Goodwin’s family because he refused to talk about his parents. In the premiere episode of the brand new season of TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are? she goes on a journey to uncover the truth behind her great-grandparents’ story, and is shocked to discover turbulent lives filled with court cases, drugs and incarcerations.

Like many new moms, Ginnifer became even more interested in learning about her family history after the birth of her son, Oliver. In this episode, she starts her search for information with her dad, Tim, who recalls that his father’s parents were named Nellie and John “Al” Goodwin, and that for some unknown reason, John Barton (Tim’s dad) was abandoned when he was just 11 years old. The last time he did any research, Tim found a 1910 Census return in which Nellie, Al and John Barton are living in Batesville, Arkansas.  Ginnifer wonders what could have happened for Nellie to have let an 11 year old leave her home, and heads to Arkansas to see if she can find some answers with the help of some very talented genealogists.

ginner

Local records in Batesville reveal that Nellie’s maiden name was Haynes, and a search for her marriage record returns a result for Nellie and a man named J.D. Williams, and another great grandfather Al Goodwin!

Ginnifer wondered what happened with Nellie’s first marriage that she eventually married Al Goodwin. Was Nellie a young widow?  The local genealogist explains that death records of this time are incomplete and advises Ginnifer to visit the Independence County Courthouse to search for evidence for the other alternative to the end of a marriage: divorce records.

Next week: We’ll share some additional discoveries not covered in Ginnifer’s episode. Stay tuned!

HeritageQuest Online Gets Better With Ancestry’s Support

HeritageQuest Online improvesHeritageQuest Online is now even more worth the trip to your local library to access for free, now that its new interface is powered by Ancestry.

For the past few months, library patrons have been getting used to a new version of HeritageQuest Online. This online genealogy resource, available only at libraries or through their websites, “has a new interface powered by Ancestry, enriching the search experience and streamlining the research process,” as described by a company press release a few months ago.

“The intuitive interface provides a fresh user experience that will be familiar to Ancestry.com users,” states the release. “A new Image Viewer offers basic and advanced capabilities without any plug-in, making it easy to share images with family and friends. Image resolution…is significantly improved with the addition of greyscale and color. The Research Aids resources for learning opportunities for novice, intermediate, and advanced searchers.”

Other bloggers have commented on the improved user interface, but what caught my eye was a more detailed, mouthwatering description of all the census extras and other new HeritageQuest Online content (from its site):

  • “Now available for searching is the entire U.S. Federal Census collection from Ancestry.com including supplements (e.g., 1940 Enumeration District Maps) and several schedules (e.g., non-population schedules) previously not included for searching.
  • 20,000 city directories have been added to the existing city directories in the Book collection, increasing the size of the Books collection to more than 45,000 titles.
  • Expanded content in the Revolutionary War Collection. The entirety of the NARA Series M804 is now included here, providing access not only to the previously available “Selected Records” (Series M805) but now also to the “Non-Selected” records of each file.”

Finally, four of the six HeritageQuest Online data collections (Census, Books, Revolutionary War, and Freedman’s Bank) have “brand new search pages with limits, exact matching options, and additional fields for searching.”

Resources:

5 Genealogy Resources to Look for at YOUR Public Library

WorldCat for Genealogy: 40 Million Records and Digital Gateway

Premium podcast 125Genealogy Gems Premium members can learn more about using HeritageQuest Online and other fantastic resources in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 125. (Premium membership required: learn more about that here.)

How 75-Year Old WPA Records May Help You Find an Ancestor

WPA Church Record Inventory Sheet, Eliam Baptist Church, FL. Click to view.

WPA Church Record Inventory Sheet, Eliam Baptist Church, FL. Click to view.

Got a research brick wall? A “national temp agency” created resources that may help you find your family history in obscure historical records.

During the Great Depression, so many Americans were out of work that the federal government launched the Works Progress Administration (later renamed the Works Projects Administration, thankfully keeping the “WPA” acronym intact).

I think of the WPA as a national temp agency that put thousands of residents to work on bookkeeping, building and conservation projects around the country. It’s the same concept I use when my kids want to earn some spending money: I give them a list of back-burnered chores: weed the flower beds, inventory the pantry, wash the walls.

The federal government did this on an enormous scale. Their “inventory the pantry” chores included jobs like indexing immigration and naturalization records and inventorying extant church records. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Let’s use the church records inventories as an example. In several states, WPA workers used a standardized form to capture data about church congregations. Included were:

  • the church name(s) and address, pastor name, details about the building(s), race and size of congregation;
  • a brief history of the church; and–even better–
  • the description and location of existing records, like minute books, financial records, and registers of baptisms, marriages, members and deaths.

The original inventories, where they still exist, have been scattered. They were not collected and maintained by any national agency. But some were published and some are now online. For example:

WPA handout blurbChurch records inventories are just one type of helpful resource compiled by WPA workers. Learn more about WPA records from leading genealogical expert Paula Stuart-Warren–and get the full version of her detailed, helpful handout–in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 2. (A Premium membership required to access–and it’s totally worth it! Click here to learn about its many benefits.)

Evernote for Genealogy: Should Evernote Be My Digital Archive?

Evernote digital archive“If I put a PDF copy of a newspaper article or a jpeg photo into Evernote, can I get a copy back? I am putting them there for safe keeping and an easy way to archive them but I want to be able to use them in other places in the future.”

Recently Pam sent me the excellent question above. She’s been using Evernote for a couple of years, she says, “but not very well.” I’ve heard that before! I like how she’s now thinking carefully about not just organizing her genealogy research materials (which is important!) but also digitally archiving them effectively.

As I told Pam, folks have tried to accomplish this in a variety of ways. Here’s my two-cent’s worth on how I look at it.

First, I don’t save newspaper articles to PDF because you have to have a Premium Evernote in order to annotate PDFs and have OCR applied to them. (At least the last time I looked last week.) Personally, I prefer web clipping the article as a note and saving it directly to Evernote.

I haven’t found a simple free way to export a PDF that has been saved to Evernote back out as a PDF. This is a weakness of Evernote. (Click here for a blog post about this.)

organized videoIf you are keen on saving items to PDFs, I would suggest not bothering to store them in Evernote. If you really want a “note” of the item in Evernote, you could use this technique: First, save the PDF to your hard drive (using my Hard Drive Organization Premium Videos).

click_PDFThen right-click the PDF and “Create a Shortcut.” Drag and drop the short cut into a note. Now with one click of the shortcut in the Evernote note, you can instantly open the document on your hard drive and make any additional notations in the note about the item.

If you would rather save the PDF to a cloud service such as Dropbox rather than your hard drive, you can right click the PDF in Dropbox and select “Share Dropbox Link” and then paste that into a note. This, again, gives you one-click access to the item.

I don’t worry about making Evernote the holding tank for absolutely everything. Sometimes other technologies and services are better suited for the task at hand. But it’s pretty easy to create connections so that Evernote is still your central service. There is another alternative called CloudHQ, which can help you export items, but it is a paid service, and I don’t think the value is there for the price when you can use the method I’ve already described.

To get more answers to questions like these about using Evernote for genealogy I invite you to follow this blog.

Resources:

  • Ultimate Evernote Education abbreviatedEvernote for Genealogy Quick Guides for Windows and Mac will help you begin using Evernote immediately and effectively.
  • Become a Genealogy Gems Premium member to access the Ultimate Evernote Education: a series of videos that take you from beginner to advanced user.

Join the Family History Relay Race: FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event

FS Worldwide Indexing Event 2015The FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event: It’s like a big, happy relay race for family historians: a display of skill with record-setting accomplishments and the coming together of a community for a cause.

Last year, 66,511 FamilySearch indexers helped set a new record for the most people indexing in a 24-hour period. Their efforts resulted in more than 5.7 million records being processed in a single day!

This year, we encourage you to participate in FamilySearch’s Worldwide Indexing Event from August 7-14, 2015. “You have one week to participate by indexing at least one batch in the language of your choice,” said FamilySearch in an invitation to current indexers. “If you are fluent in French, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish-our focus languages for 2015-please help index records in one of those languages. Let’s help our friends in other countries to find their ancestors too! All it takes is one batch indexed sometime during the week to be counted.” (Special training is available.)

I’ve learned that indexing for others feels great, but I get something out of it, too. I use indexing to become more familiar with different record types, like naturalization records, border crossings or church registers (my favorite record type) from different places or time periods. I become better at reading old handwriting and picking out genealogical details from old documents–great skills that help me in my own research!

Last year, more than 18,000 new indexers joined the fun during the 24-hour challenge. Why not do the same this year? Click here to learn more about FamilySearch volunteer indexing or read the articles below to learn about other indexing opportunities out there.

Resources:

how to start a genealogy blogFind Your Ancestor in Freedmen’s Bureau Records–Or Help Others Do the Same

Want to Help Index De-Classified CIA Records?

Volunteer Gem: He Indexed Milwaukee Journal Obituaries Himself