May 4, 2015

CeCe Moore: DNA for Genealogy and Adoption and MORE on Free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 178

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family HistoryThe latest episode of the free Genealogy Gems podcast (Episode 178) has been released and it’s PACKED with gems you can use now to inspire your family history!

CeCe Moore Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 178First, nationally-renowned genetic genealogist CeCe Moore joins me on the show to talk about using DNA for genealogy research, adoption, and the Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. TV show.

I love CeCe’s analogy of using different DNA test providers to “fish in different ponds.” She talks about using different types of genetic tests (autosomal, y-DNA or mDNA) to chase answers to specific genealogy research questions, and the importance of using test results together, not in isolation. Because autosomal DNA is coming onto so many people’s radar, I ask her to explain that in more depth–its uses and its limitations. CeCe shares her favorite tips for people who are getting started and gives us lots of great examples, including a helpful example for African-Americans who are trying to identify a genetic ancestor (who may also have had a slaveholder relationships with the family).

Also in this episode, we announce the newest featured title in the Genealogy Gems Book Club: The Lost Ancestor (The Forensic Genealogist) by British author Nathan Dylan Goodwin. Listen to the episode to hear what this mystery novel is about and why we chose it.

Finally, I share some fantastic new record sets that are online now and ready for you to explore, and a Genealogy Gems listener shares an important update on adoption records in Ohio.

Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems PodcastClick here to listen to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 178. Click here to learn more about this free podcast and see an archive of past episodes. We recently celebrated more than 1.5 million downloads of our podcasts!

New Genealogy Gems Book Club Pick: The Lost Ancestor

the lost ancestor genealogy gems book clubWe are excited to announce the newest featured book in the Genealogy Gems Book Club: The Lost Ancestor  by Nathan Dylan Goodwin.

This is the most recent book in the genealogical crime mystery series by the British author.  It’s classic genre fiction, so much fun to curl up and get lost in! The hero, Morton Farrier, is a forensic genealogist who occasionally takes on a job that leads him into dark and dangerous corners of the past and the present.

In this book, Morton is hired to find out what happened to his client’s great-aunt Mary, who disappeared without a trace a century ago while working as a maid at a grand English estate. We follow Morton to his favorite research haunts, envy his research budget (vital records by express mail!) and wince at the lumps and risks he takes as he uncovers the truth. It’s so fun to read, that when I finished I immediately read the other titles in the series (Hiding the Past (The Forensic Genealogist) (Volume 1) and the novella The Orange Lilies: A Morton Farrier novella
).

Hear a little more about this book in the free Genealogy Gems podcast episode 178.  Next month, Lisa and I will talk about some of our favorite parts of the book. In June, the author will join us on the podcast for an exclusive interview. So start reading and stay tuned!

Genealogy Gems Book Club Genealogy Family HistoryDo you love to read? Do you enjoy family history? Then you should definitely be enjoying our free, no-fuss, no-commitment Genealogy Gems Book Club. We feature our favorite novels and non-fiction titles that we would recommend to anyone who enjoys reading about history and family identity, relationships and history. Click here to see titles we’ve featured in the past and hear our interviews with the authors.

 

WDYTYA: Bill Paxton’s Revolutionary War Roots

???????????????????????????This Sunday evening on TLC, Bill Paxton is the celebrity guest on Who Do You Think You Are? 

I took a sneak peek at the episode, and I love two things about it. First, Bill’s unabashed love for his father, who recently passed away and whom he mentions throughout the episode (“My dad would love this!”). I think of how many of us have lost someone who we wish could hear about our family history discoveries and know that we’re appreciating the past.

Second, of course, the ancestor stories on WDYTYA? always fire my imagination and teach me some history. This episode is no exception. Bill’s four-times great-grandfather Benjamin Sharp was a Revolutionary War veteran who served at the age of 14. As a spy. (How cool is that? How worried must his mother have been?) The show takes Bill to the site of a battle where Bill reads his ancestor’s first-hand account of the event.

But that wasn’t the whole story: Benjamin Sharp still lived a full, rich life after becoming a veteran by age 18. He rose in the ranks of civil service under the young U.S. government. But of course there’s a twist in his later life that dismays Bill and complicates his growing admiration for Benjamin. As most celebrity guests on WDYTYA? conclude, our ancestors were complex people who were just living their lives, not trying to create squeaky-clean legacies their descendants could brag about.

media_icon_like_400_wht_9163If you watch WDYTYA? this Sunday, tell us what you think of the episode on our Facebook page! We’d love to hear from you.

RootsTech Hits the Road! RootsTech Family Discovery Days Coming Your Way!

overhead_freeway_custom_sign_16324Were you among the record-breaking audience of 23,918 attendees at RootsTech 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah? Even if you were, chances are you didn’t catch all the top talks.

RootsTech staffers have announced that over 1000 FREE regional RootsTech events, called RootsTech Discovery Days, will be hosted around the world throughout 2015. “Select sessions and planning resources from RootsTech 2015 have been recorded, translated in 10 languages, and made available online to support…local volunteer organizers,” says a media statement.

“By the first week following the conference, 65 local family discovery day events had already been held, including 27 in Latin America, one in Korea, and another in the Philippines. Over 1,000 more events are expected to be held throughout 2015, significantly extending the reach and impact of this popular conference.”

Click here to search for a RootsTech Family Discovery Day event near you. We notice that there plenty of options across the U.S. and in England, Canada, Australia and South Africa. Where do YOU want to look for an event?

Lisa speaks to a packed audience at RootsTech 2015.

Lisa speaks to a packed audience at RootsTech 2015.

Puerto Rico Civil Registrations Now FREE Online

puerto_rico_flag_perspective_anim_300_wht_5482Do you have family from Puerto Rico? Newly-searchable at FamilySearch.org are Puerto Rico Civil Registrations. Ancestry published these last year for their subscribers. Ancestry describes this as their “largest single collection of Puerto Rican records.”

According to FamilySearch, “The civil registration records in Puerto Rico are an excellent source for genealogical research after 1885. Important genealogical data can be found in these records; see below. The data may even help to find information about an earlier generation.” They include birth, marriage and death records.

The description on FamilySearch indicates that records go back to 1805. But other hints (and a comparison to the Ancestry dataset) indicate that most of the records are for 1885 and later, just like Ancestry’s. Civil registration didn’t start in Puerto Rico until 1885 (before that, look to Catholic church records for BMD data). Of course, like many records, they may contain information about family dates and relationships from earlier in that person’s life.

book_leaning_against_question_mark_400_wht_12575Those who know about Puerto Rico’s connection to the U.S. may wonder why Puerto Rico had civil registrations at a time that U.S. states and territories did not. Puerto Rico was actually a colony of Spain when civil registration started. Only after the Spanish-American War of 1898 did Puerto Rico become a U.S. protectorate.

We Dig These Gems: New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gemsEvery Friday, we highlight new genealogy records online. Scan these posts for content that may include your ancestors. Use these records to inspire your search for similar records elsewhere. Always check our Google tips at the end of each list: they are custom-crafted each week to give YOU one more tool in your genealogy toolbox.

This week: European and U.S. Jewish records; Mexico civil registrations; New York City vital records and New York state censuses and naturalizations.

JEWISH RECORDS. In the first quarter of 2015, nearly 70,000 records have been added to databases at JewishGen.org. These are free  to search and include records from Poland (for the towns of Danzig, Lwow, Lublin, Sidelce, Volhynia and Krakow); Lithuania (vital records, passports,  revision lists and tax records); the United Kingdom (the Jews’ Free School Admission Register, Spitalfields, 1856-1907) and the United States (obituaries for Boston and Cleveland).

MEXICO CIVIL REGISTRATIONS. More than 400,000 indexed records have been added to civil registrations for the state of Luis Potosi, Mexico. Records include “births, marriages, deaths, indexes and other records created by civil registration offices” and are searchable for free at FamilySearch.

NEW YORK CITY VITAL RECORDS. Indexes to New York City births (1878-1909), marriages (1866-1937) and deaths (1862-1948) are new and free for everyone to search on Ancestry. Click here to reach a New York research page on Ancestry that links to these indexes.

NEW YORK STATE CENSUSES AND NATURALIZATIONS. The New York state censuses for 1855 and 1875 (for most counties) are now available online to subscribers at Ancestry. According to the census collection description, “The state took a census every ten years from 1825 through 1875, another in 1892, and then every ten years again from 1905 to 1925. State censuses like these are useful because they fall in between federal census years and provide an interim look at a population.” New York naturalization records (1799-1847) and intents to naturalize (or “first papers,” 1825-1871) are also available online.

NEW ZEALAND PROBATE RECORDS. Nearly 800,000 images from Archives New Zealand (1843-1998) have been added to an existing FamilySearch collection (which is at least partly indexed). Privacy restrictions apply to probates issued during the past 50 years. These records contain names of testator, witnesses and heirs; death and record date; occupation; guardians and executor; relationships; residences and an estate inventory.

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Google tip of the week: Some genealogical records and indexes are created on a city or municipal level rather than–or  in addition to–a county, province or state level. When Google searching for vital and other records like burials and city directories, include the name of a city in your searches. Learn more about Googling your genealogy in Lisa Louise Cooke’s The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. The 2nd edition, newly published in 2015, is fully revised and updated with the best Google has to offer–which is a LOT.

Working-Class Roots? British Trade Union Records Now at FindMyPast

construction_tools_cross_icon_400_wht_15780Do you have ancestors who may have been part of a British Trade Union? They could have been carpenters, joiners, cabinetmakers, lithographic artists, engravers, printers, paper makers, railway servants, watermen, bargement, lightermen, woodworkers, newspaper proofreaders, school teachers, compositors, printers, boilermakers and even local government workers.  Explore these new British Trade Union records at FindMyPast.com:

British Trade Union Membership Registers are now available to browse–257 volumes of them! According to FindMyPast, “These consist of digitized images of original records books from nine different unions. The documents [like admission books, annual reports and membership lists] include details about individual members that can enrich your genealogical research such as payments made, benefits received, names of spouses, profiles of leading members, directories of secretaries and details of Union activities and proceedings.”

Britain, Trade Union Members, Service and Casualties is a new related dataset with over 61,000 entries. It contains the details of members from 18 different unions. The records are a collection of union documents from the war years and do not solely feature individuals who participated in the First World War. The records include daily trade union news and business and frequently acknowledge members who have left for war or joined the services. Many include pages of the union’s Roll of Honour and some include photographs of the members or feature short profiles about specific members. The most extraordinary of the records is the Workers’ Union Record, which regularly features full pages of photographs of service men.

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Here’s a tip: Obituaries can be an excellent source of information about an ancestor’s working life. Click here to see an example of my own relative’s working life in his obituary. Click here to read more about finding recent obituaries, which are coming online in droves (by the million, in newly-indexed and/or digitized format). Learn more about finding obituaries (online or offline) in Lisa Louise Cooke’s book Find Your Family History in Newspapers, available in print or e-book editions.

 

Calling Volunteers: Help Index Italian Civil Registration Records

Volunteers neededIt’s National Volunteer Week in the United States. What better time to put out a call for help? Volunteers are desperately needed to help index the biggest Italian records project yet: Italian civil registration records. At current rates, it won’t be fully indexed for another 100 years.

“FamilySearch’s Italian Ancestors Project is arguably the most genealogically significant initiative ever for Italy and all Italian descendants,” explains Paul Nauta from FamilySearch. “Over 115 million historic birth, marriage, and death records from every state of Italy are being digitally preserved and published online.

“Online volunteers are needed to index these records to make every name easily searchable online for free—over 500 million names from the birth, marriage, and death records, 1802 to 1944.  With the current base of volunteers, it will take over 100 years to complete. With more online volunteers helping, the initiative could be completed in as little as 10 years.”

Watch a short video about indexing these records below, or keep reading below for other opportunities to pitch in during National Volunteer Week:

Click to read Genealogy Gems posts on volunteering by:

Heritage Cookbooks: Recipe for a Sweet Family History

Cover of an 1865 cookbook that's been republished by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Cover of an 1865 cookbook that’s been republished by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Recently I heard from Jillian in Arkansas, USA, who wrote about “a recent – and accidental” family history discovery she made in a family cookbook.

“Not long ago, I was listening to archived episodes of your Genealogy Gems podcast where you and a guest were discussing using an address book as a source for research.

“That tidbit stuck with me, and I began to rummage through my things to see if I could find my grandmother’s old exceedingly edited book. No such luck. Just the other night, while trying to decide what to cook for supper, I found something almost as delightful: my great-grandmother passed several cookbooks to me after her death, many with her own notations.

genealogy gems podcast mailboxWhen looking through it, I noticed that the book wasn’t only a cookbook, but a bit of a history book, as well. It was printed by a group of local ladies, and with each section, there is a drawing of a historical home, and an incredibly detailed description, written by the original homeowner, or one of their descendants. The year is published in the front, the community’s history, and a rundown of the prominent citizens.

“None of my direct relatives were listed, but the unexpected breath of facts–the who’s, where’s, when’s–is invaluable to anyone looking for their loved one in that area. I never would’ve considered a cookbook as a source for genealogy research, but there it was, on a shelf, with my great-grandmother’s other books. And of course, I’m scouring them for relatives right now.”

Thanks to Jillian for writing in: click here to check out her family history blog about heritage cookbooks. The podcast episode she mentioned was likely one of our Genealogy Gems book club conversations about She Left Me the Gun, in which the author used her mother’s address book to learn family history.

Do you love the combination of food and family history? Or browsing heritage cookbooks as a window into the past? I do! I invite you to:

Send Family Birthdays and Events Right to Your Phone

MyHeritage family events calendarOne of my favorite features on MyHeritage family websites is the family events calendar. This calendar automatically populates itself with living relatives’ birthdays and wedding anniversaries. In addition to giving you a streaming calendar feed, you also get helpful reminders of how old that person is turning or which anniversary it is.

As you can see from the image on the right, you can also post new family events: graduations, showers, weddings, and reunions (from a last-minute picnic to a full-scale gathering).

Now you can get those event reminders sent directly to your mobile phone. MyHeritage says, “Enable this feature by going to Account > My profile > Edit site preferences > Family event reminders. Choose the option to recieve reminders via Text Message (SMS) and enter your phone number to start getting reminders of your loved ones’ big days.”

Julian calendarI always wanted to be more like my Uncle John and Aunt Deb, who remember all family birthdays with cute cards in the mail. (Thank you for that!) But I haven’t been organized enough over the years. Sending event reminders to my phone can prompt me to take baby steps forward: to Facebook my cousins when their young children have birthdays, remember important anniversary years and not have to count on my fingers to know how old my brother is turning this year!