November 1, 2014

Genealogical Double-Dating?!? The Julian Calendar Explained

Julian calendarDo you know about the Julian calendar and how it can REALLY throw your genealogy research off?

I knew about this but I’ve never heard it explained as simply as Margery Bell does in the Family History podcast episode 43, just republished and re-released on the Genealogy Gems website. Click on the link to see show notes from the episode with a great summary of what the Julian calendar is and how it can affect your research.

In this podcast episode you’ll learn things like:

  • the definition of “double-dating” in the historical calendar and how to interpret those dates;
  • the fact that different countries switched over from the Julian calendar at greatly different times;
  • why Washington’s birthdate, as recorded in his family Bible, is not the birthdate celebrated today in the U.S.;
  • why several days are missing from the 1752 calendar;
  • how to translate dates from the Julian calendar to today’s Gregorian calendar.

I hope you enjoy this FREE podcast episode! And why not share it with a genealogy buddy? It’s a great topic for beginning and more experienced family history researchers.

 

How to Record Phone Calls on Skype and Smartphones

stickman_customer_service_anim_300_wht_2125Looking for ways to record phone calls for family history interviews? Janice emailed me to ask that very question, and I gave her some ideas that can help you out too.

“I live in Maine and have awesome century old relatives that love to share stories. Most are in nursing homes and have hours and hours available of awesome family stories. I am limited on traveling because most visits are five hour drives one way.  They love talking on the phone. Is there any recommendation for an app that could record our conversations for historical preservation.  I would love to share these stories with the Maine Memory Network before they are forgotten.”

Mailbox question from Beginning GenealogistHere’s my response:

Lucky you for having these relatives to gather stories from! You mentioned using an “app” so I’m assuming you want to be able to use your smartphone. Here’s a good article with some options for recording from a smartphone.

 

How to record phone calls on Skype

Another alternative is to get a Skype account, and call them from your computer using a headset with microphone. For about $2.95 you can call any phone number (calling another skype account is free) and then you could use the program “Pamela” to record the call. Pamela works seamlessly with Skype, automatically generating the recording when you call. The file is saved on your computer as an easy to use MP3 file. The free version of Pamela lets you record for up to 15 minutes at a time. You can always restart another recording after 15 minutes, or purchase the software for unlimited recording length.

Janice’s response to my advice: “Oh how exciting. I like the Skype idea. I have discovered so many relatives to that were orphaned this would be a great way to capture their lost stories. Thanks a million!”

More Tips for Interviewing Relatives

Family History Genealogy Made Easy PodcastWould you like some tips on how to contact and interview long-lost relatives? Check out these two episodes of the FREE Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast:

Episode 14: How to Contact Long-Lost RelativesConnecting with someone who knows about our ancestors can really boost our research results—and even create new relationships among living kin. But it’s not always easy to send that first email or make that first call. In this episode, we chat with my cousin, Carolyn Ender, who has mastered the art of “genealogical cold calling” by conducting hundreds of telephone interviews.

Episode 15: More Tips for Contacting Distant Relatives. In today’s episode we talk more about “genealogical cold calling” with my cousin, Carolyn Ender, who has conducted hundreds of telephone interviews. Relationships are key to genealogical success and by following 14 genealogical cold calling strategies you will find your research relationships multiplying.

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 171 – Coping with Change and Genealogy Storytelling

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family HistoryThe newest episode of the Genealogy Gems podcast is now ready for listening! This is a really special episode with a story I think many of us can relate to. It’s about a man who started researching the life of a woman he never met–he doesn’t even know who her descendants are. And yet he feels compelled to learn her story. Learn how and why, and about some of his successes and challenges in the podcast episode.

I’ll give you just one little teaser: 99 postcards found in an attic when he was 13 years old got him started.  He’s held onto them for the past 38 years. Recently he finally started studying the stories on their backs. And that’s when he could see that 86 of them were addressed to a Mrs. Lizzie Milligan and postmarked between 1904 and 1925. Who was she? That’s what he is determined to know. And he’s already blogging his discoveries–in part hoping others can help him solve the mystery.

Episode 171 can be found through iTunes or by clicking here.

PERSI Digitized Collections Gaining Ground

ebook ereader for Mac Digital Genealogy books at Google BooksJust over a year ago, we shared the news that the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) was migrating to FindMyPast.com. The big news was that this index to over 2.5 million names and topics in thousands of genealogy, history and ethnic publications would begin to link to full-text articles on FindMyPast.

Well, it’s happening. FindMyPast recently reported: “We’ve added images to the indexes of fifteen different publications in PERSI, including The American Irish Historical Society Journal (1898-1922), The American Historical Society’s Americana (1909-1923) and the Connecticut Historical Society Annual Report (1890-1923).”

Even better, it’s FREE to search PERSI at FindMyPast and view results. If you see something really compelling, you can pay for a-la-carte access (called PayAsYouGo credits) to a detailed indexed entry and any digitized content, or subscribe for full access. But you can least learn whether an article on your topic exists (like “Silas Johnson Methodist minister” or “Swinerton family Salem, Massachusetts”) and where it was published.

Whether FindMyPast doesn’t have an article digitized yet or you don’t purchase access to it, you can still order a copy. Just use the Allen County Public Library’s Article Fulfillment service: it’s only $7.50 USD for up to six articles, plus $0.20-per-page photocopying charge.

Family History Episode 43: The Julian Calendar and Genealogy

Family History Genealogy Made Easy PodcastFamily History: Genealogy Made Easy

with Lisa Louise Cooke

Republished 2014

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-09. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Episode 43: The Julian Calendar and Genealogy “Double-Dating”

If you’re not familiar with how the calendar has changed through history, you might be recording incorrect dates in your family tree!  In this episode, Margery Bell, Assistant Director of the Regional Family History Center in Oakland, California helps us understand the “double-dating” we see in old documents and translate those dates from the Julian calendar to today’s Gregorian system.

The Julian Calendar

In 1582, the Roman Catholic Pope Gregory learned that gradually the vernal equinox wasn’t coming on the “right day.” At the time, the first day of the new year was March 25. This explains why the name of September (“sept”=seven) translates as “the seventh month: and October (“oct”=eight) as the eighth month, etc.

So in 1582, the calendar changed in the four countries under papal authority: Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Polish-Lithuanian state. Gradually over time, everyone else adapted to what became called the “Gregorian calendar,” and is what we use now. But you might be surprised how long the Julian calendar was still used in some places: Greece held out until 1923.

Great Britain changed over to the Gregorian calendar is 1752—and so did its colonies. But here in the North American colonies we were affected by the change long before because we had people here from so many nations in which either calendar might be used.

The solution in U.S. colonial record-keeping was “double-dating.” Maybe you’ve seen a date that reads “3 February 1685/6.” That means it was 1685 by the old Julian calendar and 1686 according to the Gregorian calendar. You’ll see this double-dating used between January 1 -March 25, when the time frame overlapped. You might also see a single date with the abbreviation “o.s.” or “n.s” for “old style” or “new style,” or you might see those words written out. If it’s written in the new calendar style, of course, you don’t have to translate the date.

Why does it matter to a genealogist which style is used? If you don’t translate the date correctly, you’ll get confused about timing. The change from one calendar to the next involved dropping several days from the calendar in 1752, then renumbering the months. March was the first month of 1725, for example, and January 1725 actually came after it—that was the eleventh month! It will look like people have their will probated before they died, or they had a baby before they got married.

Top tips from Margery Bell:

  • If you don’t see double-dating in a colonial document before 1752, assume you’re on the old calendar. See a sample at George Washington family bible with birthdate. (Listen to the podcast to see how his birthday as celebrated today was translated out of that calendar.)
  • Some vital or church records may be written as “the second day of the third month.” If they were following the old calendar, we will “translate” that date incorrectly if we don’t know better. Go back and double-check the sources for your older dates. That includes making sure that any dates you copied from an index (if you couldn’t get to the original record) were indexed accurately.
  • FamilySearch has a lot of data from the IGI, the International Genealogy Index. These older records include a LOT of Julian calendar items but the IGI doesn’t indicate whether that’s true. If you see two different marriage records for the same couple married on two separate dates, translate them and see if one is perhaps the adjusted date and the other didn’t get “translated.”

Genealogy Gems Mailbox

Mailbox question from Beginning GenealogistDon in Oklahoma writes in to ask about how to record the last names of women, and how those names affect Ancestry’s Family Trees to seek out corresponding genealogical records.

Women should be entered in family trees with their maiden names. Then they are linked to men they marry in family trees, and that’s how you can determine their married surname. I double-checked with the Ancestry Insider blogger about Ancestry searches. He says that Ancestry “shaky leaf” hints search on both a woman’s maiden name and all her husband’s surnames. Thanks for that extra tip, Ancestry Insider!

 

Old Photo Solves Genealogy Mystery

Dickson back of photoRecently Genealogy Gems Premium member Scott Dickson of Roswell, Georgia, USA, sent me this great story about how an old photo helped him break through a brick wall on his family tree:

“Lisa,

You talked about discoveries through revisiting old photos. The first day I ever went to a library to research, back in 1989, I found my grandfather’s grandfather in the census.  That’s the last concrete fact about the Dicksons I had found until this spring.  I traced my g-g-grandfather John H. Dickson all over Alabama, Mississippi, and finally Arkansas.  But he died relatively young and never owned anything, so there were few records. Everywhere he lived, however, there was a family close by that really looked like his sister and her husband. I could never prove it, though. I researched them (the sister’s family), but could not document a connection.

Until I was re-scanning photos this spring.  The old ones were done 20 years ago at too-low resolutions, without the backs, etc.  So I was starting over.  One photo was my great-grandfather Robert H. Dickson Sr with another old guy.  My grandmother had written on back the names.  George Williams and Robert H. Dickson Sr.

My granddad had added “cousins”.  That was the clue that cracked it open.  The only way for George to be Robert’s cousin was for him to be George Collier Williams, son of Mary Dickson & Lorenzo Williams.  Mary was the one I always suspected was the sister to Robert’s father, John.  There were no other cousins down any of the other lines that would have been named Williams and would have been the right age.  Mary and John were for sure siblings.  That puts John into a family and I can continue to make progress.  New doors are open!  So, while it might not be a notarized will naming relations, for me, it’s the connection that I have been looking for for 25 years!

Thanks for your shows.  I continue to enjoy them and get inspired.”

Thanks for sharing your inspiring story with us, Scott! It really can pay to go back and LOOK at the backs of all our old photos. And always put clues from various records together! Though the back of an old picture and an old census record may not seem like matching puzzle pieces, in this case he found that they were!

Learn more about scanning your old family photos in this companion blog post, in which Scott shares his best tips.

You Don’t Have to BE a Pro to Train with Them: APG 2015 Professional Management Conference and SLIG

SLIG APG 2015Two back-to-back opportunities for professional-level genealogy education will take place in Salt Lake City in January 2015 (not too long before the RootsTech – FGS joint conference).

The APG 2015 Professional Management Conference takes place January 8-9. The Association of Professional Genealogists hosts, but includes all who want to learn from and alongside the pros. Here’s the skinny:

  • It’s January 8-9, 2015 at the downtown Hilton Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • 16 sessions include DNA, genealogical standards, adoption research, how to cite your sources and more.
  • The theme is “Professional-Grade Genealogy,” and you’ll definitely be learning from top experts in the field.
  • Early-bird registration is open at www.apgen.org/conferences. Registration for virtual access to select sessions (Virtual PMC) will open later this year.

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy kicks off the following week, with week-long, in-depth instruction on more than 10 genealogical subjects. More details available at www.SLIG.ugagenealogy.org.

5 Genealogy Resources to Look For at YOUR Public Library

genealogy at the public library

genealogy at the public library

This week, I’m researching at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which has one of the best public library genealogy collections in the United States. They’ve got more than half a million items on microfilm and fiche and 350,000 more in print. Among these items are nearly 50,00o city directories; 55,000 compiled family histories; most National Archives microfilmed military service and pension records….Okay, I’ll stop before you get jealous.

But in fact, MOST public libraries have some good genealogy resources. Have you checked out the library near you lately? OR the local history and genealogy collection in a public library near where your ancestors lived? You may likely find these 5 great resources:

  1. Access to paid subscription genealogy websites like Ancestry.com Library Edition, HeritageQuest Online, Fold3 and other genealogy databases.
  2. Local historical newspapers–or at least obituaries from them. ALSO access to historical newspaper websites like GenealogyBank.com which may have papers you’ll never travel to see in person.
  3. City directories, old maps and/or local histories for that town.
  4. Surname files. These aren’t at every public library, but you’ll often find them in libraries that have dedicated genealogy rooms. These likely won’t be neatly organized files with perfect family trees in them, but collections of documents, bibliographic references and correspondence relating to anyone with that surname.
  5. Other surprising local history resources. For example, my hometown library in Euclid, Ohio, has online collections of Euclid newspapers, history, yearbooks and oral histories!

Euclid LibraryWhat does your library have? Browse its website or call and ask about its local history and genealogy collections. You might even Google the name of the county with the phrases “public library” and “local history” or “genealogy.” Another branch of the same library system (not in your own or ancestor’s town but nearby) might have just what you need to find your family history!

Family History Genealogy Made Easy PodcastWant to learn more about doing genealogy at the public library? Check out two recently republished episodes of Lisa’s Family History Made Easy podcast:

 

 

Episode 34: Do Your Genealogy at the Public Library, Part 1 Genealogy librarian Patricia VanSkaik talks to us about researching at public libraries. She shares what kinds of things may be at the library (including unique resources), how to prepare for a visit and lots of great tips for making the most of your research time there.

Episode 35: Do Your Genealogy at the Public Library, Part 2 We go deeper into genealogy research at the public library. Genealogy librarian Patricia VanSkaik is back to talk about how to search an online library card catalog including advanced search methods, the unique collections that may be at public libraries, how to ask for exactly what we want, and the obstacles librarians face when it comes to cataloguing large and unique collections that may interest genealogists.

Find a Grave Canada: Now Search by Province!

badge_button_canadian_flag_400_wht_1996Genealogy Gems Premium member Ken Lange recently wrote us about a GEM of his own he’d like to share with everyone. If you’ve got Canadian ancestors, check this out!

Mailbox question from Beginning Genealogist“Dear Lisa,

I just renewed my Premium membership (thanks so much for all you do there, BTW), which reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to pass on to you with respect to Find-A-Grave.

Now, for the most part, we all love Find A Grave, and I’m sure everyone has benefited from information gleaned from the site at some point in time.  However, as a Canadian, I have long been frustrated by the fact that when searching for memorials in Canada, you can’t narrow the search down even to a province… Canada is a big country, and while not at populous as the US, this still leads to unnecessary sifting through records, especially for common surnames.

I don’t know if there are existing tools out there to address this problem, and I’m hoping that Ancestry will fix this sometime soon. But out of frustration a while back I took matters into my own hands and modified the Find a Grave search page for Canadian searches so that you can at least specify a province. Here is a public link to the file:

Find a Grave Search Page for Canadian Searches

I don’t know if it will work with all browsers in all environments, but I’ve had it working in IE, Firefox, and Chrome.”

WOW! This is cool. I recently discovered a Canadian great-aunt on my dad’s side of the family. All I’ve learned so far is that her last name was Maier or O’Maier (depending on how you read the record), that she was born in Canada, and that her parents were born in Germany. She married my great-uncle in Idaho, so I’m guessing she came down through British Columbia or Alberta. A quick search using this interface tells me there are no O’Maiers in Findagrave in either province, but sorts several possible Maiers neatly into both those provinces. I’m still a long way from answers, but I can see how helpful this will be to those with Canadian roots!

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 169: Blast from the Past–Episode 14

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family HistoryGenealogy Gems Podcast Episode 169 has been published–and it’s a blast from the past! I’ve re-published original Genealogy Gems episode 14, inspired by a passage from my grandmother’s journal: a list of the silent films she saw that year and the actors who starred in them.

grandmas diary silent film

Just like today, the stars who light up the silver screen were mimicked and followed for fashion trends, hair styles, decorating ideas, and moral behavior. Understanding who the role models were at the time gives us a better understanding of the cultural influences of the era.  Films are NOT primary resources, but they certainly paint a picture of life at any given time in history.

In this episode, I find out more about the silent movies my grandmother catalogued in her diary, and how they molded a generation. You’ll catch a glimpse of the silent movie era and how it was an integral part of your ancestors’ lives.  You’ll also learn how to find silent movies to watch for yourself!