…it’s Friday…this is awesome…and it’s Christmastime. Enjoy!
Republished December 10, 2013
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 10: Deeper into Census Records
We’re going to start off today by continuing our use of U.S. Federal Census Records. Last episode we located relatives in the 1930 census, and today we’re going to push further back in time to follow the census bread crumb trail.
Then in our second segment we’re going to explore some census enumerations that often go overlooked by family historians with Curt Witcher, the Manager of the nationally-recognized Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Curt is a very well-known genealogy lecturer and he has some great tips for tapping in to more obscure census resources. We’ll talk about nonpopulation schedules for the federal census, census substitutes for missing census data (like the 1890 census) and state censuses that may be available, too.
Updates and Links
As I mentioned in the show notes of the last episode, the 1940 census is now available to researchers. Check out those notes for more information. Here are some more updates and links:
- Learn more about nonpopulation schedules and other census records in Ancestry’s online version of The Source.
- The U.S. Census Bureau has online info on state censuses. Learn even more in Ann S. Lainhart’s book State Census Records (Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992). A lot of state censuses are now searchable on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
- A few fragments of the 1890 census remain. These are searchable at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.
- The Ancestry database substitute for the 1890 census I mentioned in the show is now supplemented by census substitute databases on Ancestry for just about every state for 1890 and other years. Search for them in the Card Catalog with the search term “1890 census.”
- The National Archives has a portal for census records, too (what’s in them and how to find them).
Originally designed specifically for the iPad in 2010, the free Flipboard app has moved onto all the major mobile platforms. And this cool new technology has just gotten better with a big dose of genealogy!
I invite you to explore the newly released free Flipboard magazine RootsTech 2014: Where Genealogy and Technology Converge. (Image right: cover)
Genealogy Gems has published the magazine in conjunction with the RootsTech program team in a continuing effort to help family historians embrace new technologies and present RootsTech attendees with the possibilities.
Consider what’s been happening in the mobile space this last year:
- Smartphone usage in the U.S. increased by 50 percent (Kleiner Perkins)
- The number of emails being opened on mobile increased by 330 percent (Litmus)
- Tablet usage doubled in the U.S. (Pew Research Center)
The bottom line: More than ever folks are accessing websites, videos, podcasts, blogs and other online information on their mobile devices. That’s where the free Flipboard app comes in.
The free Flipboard app is a social-network and online aggregator of web content and RSS channels for Android, Blackberry 10, iOS, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8. Content is presented in a captivating magazine format allowing users to “flip” through it with a simple swipe of the finger.
As a genealogy new media content creator and publisher, we’re excited to introduce a creative use of this emerging technology to the genealogy industry. RootsTech 2014: Where Genealogy and Technology Converge is a free magazine available at http://tinyurl.com/RootsTech2014. The magazine pulls together great web content from RootsTech speakers, exhibitors, and official bloggers in one beautiful and convenient place.
This magazine has presented an opportunity to crowd-source the know-how and talent of all of those who work to make RootsTech a success. The magazine offers an exciting look at the RootsTech experience the innovative technologies emerging in the genealogy industry, and a new vehicle for everyone in the RootsTech community to converge! The pages go beyond text and images by also delivering video and audio!
How to Access the Magazine in Flipboard:
- Get the free Flipboard app at flipboard.com, in iTunes or Google Play.
- Set up for your free account
- In the search box at the top of the homepage, search for ROOTSTECH
- Tap “RootsTech 2014″ by Lisa Louise Cooke (you’ll see a magazine icon next to it.)
- When the magazine loads, tap the SUBSCRIBE icon at the top of the page
- Starting at the right hand side of the page, swipe your finger from right to left over each page to “flip!”
Looking for more great genealogy themed Flipboard magazines? Check out two more new issues from Lisa Louise Cooke:
- Using Newspaper for Genealogy and Family History
- Using Historic Maps for Genealogy and Family History
Stay tuned to the Genealogy Gems Blog and Podcast for Lisa’s upcoming exclusive interview with the folks at Flipboard!
The all-star lineup of keynote speakers has been announced for RootsTech 2014. They will inspire everyone to discover and share the stories that connect our families-past, present, and future.
Ree Drummond, blogger and author, The Pioneer Woman
Ree is an award-winning blogger and New York Times bestselling author. Her popular website, The Pioneer Woman, was founded in 2006 and showcases her cooking, photography, and stories about country life.
Annelies van den Belt, CEO, DC Thompson Family History – Annelies is changing the way digital genealogical records are published and organized. Her company hosts 1.8 billion genealogical records across a family of online brands.
Judy Russell, blogger and professional genealogist, The Legal Genealogist – Judy is a certified genealogist with a law degree who enjoys helping others understand the interplay between genealogy and the law. She blogs and maintains The Legal Genealogist website.
Dr. Spencer Wells, project director, National Geographic Genographic Project – The indiana Jones of genetics, Dr. Wells has traveled the world and captured the DNA of more than a half-million people to tell the story of the human journey.
Todd Hansen, TV host, The Story Trek – Behind every door there is a story. This TV series consists of random door-to-door interviews to discover who lives behind those doors and their real stories.
Stephanie Nielsen, blogger and author, NieNie Dialogues – Stephanie’s story of survival and recovery after a plane crash captured the hearts of the nation. She has inspired others through interviews with Oprah Winfrey and on the Today Show.
The fourth annual RootsTech conference, hosted by FamilySearch, will be held February 6-8, 2014 at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to renowned keynote speakers, the conference features over 200 classes, hundreds of booths in a huge Expo Hall, and evening events.
If you’ve got British colonial roots in North America, you know how tough it can be to learn more about your family during that time. That’s why I was excited to read a recent article in the Harvard Gazette.
According to the article, plans are afoot to digitize and make available millions of British colonial documents. Yep, you read that right. Millions. There are still that many colonial-era documents sitting largely untouched in public and private archives, far from the reach of the everyday genealogist.
The Gazette reports not one but two major digitizing projects underway relating to British colonial documents in the U.S. Harvard University is leading the first project, which is already funded and underway. It will capture around 30 million pages of 17th- and 18th-century material from more than 1600 manuscript collections at 12 different Harvard repositories.
As if that’s not good enough news, a much larger project is in the works, too. A larger-scale Colonial Archives of North America has plans to digitally assemble pre-Revolutionary War material from Harvard and several historical societies, archives and Libraries in New England, New York and beyond (including Montreal). I was pleased to see that records relating to businesses, poverty, public health and indigent care will form part of the anticipated collection. These kinds of documents talk about everyday folks and their living conditions. Just what we want for our colonial genealogy. This second project is not funded yet but researchers are confident it will be.
Meanwhile, check out online resources like these for colonial documents:
- Library of Congress’ online resources for Colonial and Early America;
- The John Carter Brown Library’s digital Archive of Early American Images;
- Colonial Williamsburg’s Digital Library; and
- Cornell University Library’s Windows on the Past digital collection.
Here’s a cool website about ancient civilizations. It’s TheAncientWeb.com, and it looks like a fun and easy way to get up to speed on history.
As the title hints, this site is all about deep roots. It covers ancient societies in all parts of the world: North and South America, Europe, the Near East, Africa, Asia and Oceania. You’ll find history and images of artifacts on peoples ranging from Arabians to Vikings!
This is a great interactive tool for brushing up on ancient history. Check it out with your kids or grandkids who are exploring these topics in school or because they’re reading books like the Percy Jackson & the Olympians Series
(based on Greek and Roman mythology).
But this is also a helpful resource if you’re looking to learn more about your “deep ancestry” as identified by DNA tests. You may never know if you descend from a famous (or infamous) warlord, ruler or explorer. But genetic tests are becoming more specific about deep geographic roots. So maybe it’s worth checking out a little Viking warrior fashion or learn about the ancient empire of the Mandingo on this site!
- $1.1 million to “nine publishing projects from the U.S. Colonial and Early National Period, including the papers of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Dolley Madison, and John Jay. Projects to record the Documentary History of the Ratification of the U.S. Constitution and the Documentary History of the First Federal Congress also received funding”
- Nearly $700,000 to “State and National Archives Partnership (SNAP) grants to enable 28 state historical records advisory boards to carry out their mission to support archival education and strengthen the nation’s archival network;”
- Over $500,000 to 7 projects to “digitize World War II Oral History files; the papers of Leo Szilard, the nuclear physicist; the papers of General Oliver Otis Howard, Civil War general, Commissioner of the Freedman’s Bureau, and third president of Howard University; Historical Collective Bargaining Agreements from the 1880s through the 1980s; the Center for Jewish History’s American Soviet Jewry Movement collections; Early Connecticut manuscripts; and 19th century trademark files in the California Archives, including the original trademarks and specimens from Levi Strauss & Co. jeans, 19th century medicines and tonics, and the original trademark registered to Anheuser Busch for its Budweiser lager.”
As you can see, there’s a lot in there to appeal to family historians. Maybe not so much the Levi Strauss and Budweiser artifacts, but I could see many of us being interested in the World War II oral history files; the papers of the Freedman’s Bureau Commissioner; the Center for Jewish History’s files; those early Connecticut manuscripts and more.
The National Archives’ press release doesn’t say where these digitized files will end up. But I’m guessing at least some will eventually be made available on Founders Online, an award-winning database on the papers of “America’s Founders.”
I’ve blogged before about the relatively new Digital Public Library of America (here’s a post introducing the DPLA and here’s one on historical maps you’ll find there). Now the Library of Congress has posted a 31-minute webcast that features the DPLA content director, Emily Gore. She not only demonstrates some great examples of what you can find in the public portal of the DPLA, but also discusses the potential for gathering even more materials (she gives an example using local sources.) It’s a great introduction to the site, and Gore answers some questions from the audience that seem to be on a lot of people’s minds.
Looking for a more basic intro to the DPLA? Check out this introductory video, too.
There’s been a lot of buzz lately over 23andMe’s genetic testing products and services. The company has ongoing issues with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which requires paperwork and data they say 23andMe hasn’t provided. A class-action lawsuit is in the works. But the second issue is creating most of the buzz outside of genealogy circles: the idea that 23andMe’s genetic tests could be used to create “designer babies.”
So why does the FDA, a U.S. regulatory agency, care about genetic genealogy kits? Because they’re marketed as more than that. 23andMe describes their kits as tools for helping users make more informed decisions about their personal health. (See the letter sent by the FDA for more details.)
Bottom line? “FDA is concerned about the public health consequences of inaccurate results from the PGS [Personal Genome Service] device; the main purpose of compliance with FDA’s regulatory requirements is to ensure that the tests work….Therefore, 23andMe must immediately discontinue marketing the PGS until such time as it receives FDA marketing authorization for the device.” (emphasis added)
A news reporter describes his experience with 23andMe as very much about health information, not just ancestry: “I apparently have a higher risk of thromboembolism, Alzheimer’s, age-related macular degeneration, type 1 diabetes, melanoma, rheumatoid arthritis, restless leg syndrome, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, and a number of other conditions I’d never even heard of,” he writes. He adds that the 23andMe site “provides recommendations for lifestyle adjustments and links to medical websites all in the interest of giving me, and others, a chance to review built-in genetic health risks.”
FYI, 23andMe immediately responded to the FDA’s letter with a public statement. “We recognize that we have not met the FDA’s expectations regarding timeline and communication regarding our submission. Our relationship with the FDA is extremely important to us and we are committed to fully engaging with them to address their concerns.”
Many genealogists are wondering what happens next for current 23andMe customers and the products under fire. Legal Genealogist Judy G. Russell’s blog offers suggestions for customers and an interesting legal perspective. The most recent development is a class action law suit that has been filed against 23andMe (read about it on Forbes).
But a bigger story has been unfolding, too: the idea that 23andMe’s genetic testing could be used to select (or de-select) genes in unborn babies. Wired recently reported that “23andMe has developed a system for helping prospective parents choose the traits of their offspring, from disease risk to hair color. Put another way, it’s a designer baby-making system.”
The story explores existing technologies for pre-selecting genes for babies. Wired quotes 23andMe as saying they have no current plans for using their data this way because there’s no existing demand for it. The issue raises strong feelings on many sides of the question. The idea that future generations could sidestep serious genetic medical conditions appeals to many. But a lot of other ethical and social questions come up.
These stories remind me that genealogy–gene-ealogy–is about so much more than the past! It’s also about what we do with our lives now and the fate of future generations.
What do you think? Join the discussion by leaving your comments.
Congratulations to Amanda, the winner of our Family Tree Magazine Digital Subscription Giveaway!
We did the giveaway to celebrate my article in the December 2013 issue of Family Tree Magazine, co-written with Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton. The article is all about collaborating on our genealogy research.
I think it’s cool that Amanda’s big on collaboration herself. She blogs about her research at ABT-UNK. (Yes, that’s the name of her blog: it combines two common genealogy abbreviations for “about” and “unknown.”) Amanda points us to a recent post, “a really good example of collaboration via my blog. The two photos in the post were provided by two cousins of different degrees who found me via my blog, and five different people (so far) have been involved in identifying the people in the “Christmas Cousins” picture. I’ve connected with lots of other kin who found me via my blog (including a distant cousin in Lithuania, who helped me break through a brick wall there), and they have provided a wealth of information and wonderful photographs!”
Congratulations, Amanda, both on winning our giveaway and on your excellent research and blog. Keep it up! And thanks to Family Tree Magazine Editor Diane Haddad for donating the subscription.