May 29, 2015

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? And does the Google search tip we’ve added at the bottom help you out?

This week: Kansas newspapers, WWI records for the U.S. and Canada and a unique collection of mid-1800s Shaker photographs.

KANSAS NEWSPAPERS. Subscribers to Newspapers.com can search a newly enlarged database of Kansas newspapers. It “currently has more than 190 papers from almost 90 Kansas cities for a total of 4.3 million pages.” One paper dates to 1840, 20 years before statehood.

SHAKER PHOTOGRAPHS. The Shaker Museum Mount Lebanon (New York) “has launched a newly digitized online catalog of historic photography as a part of its ongoing effort to make available online a full catalog of its collections,” says this press report. Photos include “scenes of Shaker villages from the mid-late 19th Century, as well as a collection of stereograph images from this early period.”

CANADA WWI MILITARY RECORDS. Ancestry recently posted a new collection ofmore than 17,000 historical military records (featuring more than 470,000 images) revealing the First World War military experiences of many Canadian soldiers. The Canada, Imperial War Service Gratuities, 1919-1921  collection contains records of Canadians who fought and served in the British Imperial services.” Note: the above link goes to Ancestry.com but the database is also available on Ancestry.ca.

U.S. WWI PHOTOGRAPHS. The National Archives (U.S.) has a newly digitized collection online: American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917-1918. According to the site, “This series contains photographs obtained from the U.S. Army Signal Corps, Federal and State government agencies, as well as private sources, such as the American Red Cross and the Central News and Photo Service. The photos depict the unity of the nation and how overwhelming the war effort was, including pictures of public gatherings, peace demonstrations, parades, and activities of libraries, hospitals and first aid stations.”

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Google tip of the week: Some databases are hosted on multiple genealogy websites.  For example, The New England Historical and Genealogical Society has been receiving a lot of new databases from FamilySearch. Ancestry has recently posted several databases from JewishGen, which also hosts them on their site. One site may have the search tools you prefer;  another may be more convenient because you can attach records to your tree on that site. Use Google’s site search tool to see if the database is on a particular site. Enter the keywords in quotes, then the word “site:” immediately followed by the URL without the www. (There is no space between site: and the website address.) A search for the Canadian database above in Ancestry.ca looks like this: “Imperial War Service Gratuities” site:Ancestry.ca. This tip is brought to you by the newly-revised 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke, which has an entire chapter on site searching and resurrecting old websites.

 

Using the NEW Internet Archive for Genealogy? Free Video Tutorials!

Internet Archive homeAre you using Internet Archive for genealogy? Internet Archive is exactly what it sounds like: a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, and more.

Founded in 1996, the Internet Archive offers:

  • over 150 billion web pages (archived in the Wayback Machine),
  • about 240,000 movies,
  • over 500,000 audio items (including over 70,000 live concerts),
  • over 1,800,000 texts, 1600 education items, and over 30,000 software items.

There’s no way we can show you in a single blog post how to find everything you’d want for genealogy on Internet Archive, from family histories to all the U.S. censuses (search from the home page on “Census of the United States” plus the year) , to a digital book collection from the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center. Its resources are so huge you can easily get lost or distracted: you start by looking for something related to your ancestors and find yourself listening to an old radio program.

Your best bet is to schedule yourself an hour to just start browsing! (Try not to get TOO distracted by the movie and audio archive, unless this is where you want to be. Maybe pick something and start listening, then open a new screen and keep searching for family history goodies.)  Lisa has already zeroed in on some items: “I searched within the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center collection on Internet Archive and found a couple of old digitized books about Huntingdonshire, England that I can’t wait to comb through in search of Cookes!”

Before you start digging, we recommend this series of free new videos by Internet Archive. The site has changed over the past six months–great news especially for those who access it via a mobile device. Our Tip: We’d start with these short videos, in this order:

email thisWhat will YOU find on Internet Archive for your family history? Share your discovery on our Facebook page or email us at genealogygemspodcast@gmail.com with what you’ve found!

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 179 Now Available

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family HistoryEpisode 179 of the free Genealogy Gems podcast is now available for your listening pleasure! In this episode, Lisa shares:

  • stories of TWO inspiring family history discoveries: a stash of photos and documents AND a long-lost birth mother;
  • highlights from meeting many of YOU at recent conferences across the U.S., from New England to Texas to Alaska and then to NGS in Missouri;
  • tips on creating an Evernote genealogy library;
  • more on Genealogy Gems Book Club selection The Lost Ancestor (The Forensic Genealogist) by Nathan Dylan Goodwin;
  • and Lisa’s thoughts from recent “Tornado Central” Texas on backing up your computer data.

evernote_libraryThe Evernote tip is easy and SO useful: Lisa gives you a quick idea for creating a list of all the genealogy books on your bookshelf. No, you’re not creating a tedious bibliography–all you do is snap a few pictures and let Evernote do the work. Just click on the episode link at the beginning of this post and listen (or read the shownotes!).

As always, Lisa takes all that genealogy buzz and technology noise out there and distills it down into the best, most usable genealogy gems. That’s what the free Genealogy Gems podcast is all about. If you love it and wish you had MORE podcast episodes to listen to, consider becoming a Genealogy Gems Premium member. You’ll get a full-year’s access to monthly Premium podcast episodes with MORE in-depth news, conversations and inspiring stories–and access to ALL the archived episodes from the past! Premium membership gives you access to an entire series of full-length videos, too. Click here to learn more.

Lost WWII Medals Returned 15 Years After Stolen

Navy/Marine Corps Purple Heart Medal with gold 5/16 inch star and lapel button in presentation case. World War II. Wikepedia Commons image; click to view full citation.

Navy/Marine Corps Purple Heart Medal with gold 5/16 inch star and lapel button in presentation case. World War II. Wikepedia Commons image; click to view full citation.

Fifteen years after a Purple Heart and other lost WWII medals disappeared during a robbery, they have been returned to the family from whom they were stolen.

The medals belonged to James Dillion Adkison, a Lubbock, TX soldier killed at Pearl Harbor in 1943. A niece of James’ told a reporter that “Uncle JD’s” death left a huge hole in the family. Her mother grieved the loss of her brother for years, particularly on the Pearl Harbor bombing anniversary and Memorial Day.

The entire town and police department are credited in this news article for helping to reunite the medals with JD’s family.

heroWe love stories like these! They shine the spotlight on the often-invisible efforts of family historians, antique collectors, and others who try to return lost items to their families. You can click here to read about a WWII dog tag that was returned to a family after many years. That post also tells how you can help a blogger who dedicates efforts to returning lost dog tags to families. It’s inspiring!

 

FREE Live Streaming for SCG Jamboree 2015 Sessions

SCG jamboree 2015 streamingRegistration is now open for FREE streaming live sessions from the 46th Annual Southern California Genealogy SCG Jamboree. Sign up to watch Lisa present two free sessions on Saturday, June 6, “Google Tools and Procedures for Solving Family History Mysteries” and “Update: Google! Everything New that You Need to Know for Genealogy.” Check out the schedule below to see who else you can watch for free. Handouts will be provided!

Friday, June 5
FR007: Be Prepared with a Genealogy Disaster Plan – Denise May Levenick.
FR018: Five Tips for Successful Research in a New Location – J. H.”Jay” Fonkert, CG.
FR019: Genetic Genealogy and the Next Generation – Blaine T. Bettinger, PhD, JD and Paul Woodbury.
FR032: Finding and Utilizing German Church Records – Dr. Michael D. Lacopo.

Saturday, June 6
SA007: Google Tools and Procedures for Solving Family History Mysteries – Lisa Louise Cooke.
SA014: Tho’ They Were Poor, They May Have Been Rich in Records – Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA.
SA021: No Easy Button: Using Immersion Genealogy to Understand Your Ancestors – Lisa A. Alzo, MFA.
SA033: Plotting, Scheming and Mapping Online – Cyndi Ingle.
SA035: Midwestern and Plains States Level Census Records – Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA.
SA047: Update: Google! Everything New that You Need to Know for Genealogy – Lisa Louise Cooke.

Sunday, June 7
SU005: Family History Adhesive: Science and Simple Tech 4 Binding Families – Janet Hovorka, MLIS.
SU015: The Hidden Web: Digging Deeper – Cyndi Ingle.
SU022: Who, What, When, Where? Using Journalism Techniques to Write Your Story – Anita Paul.
SU030: Get to Know Your Geezers – Matthew Hovorka.

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Good to know about SCG Jamboree 2015 streaming sessions:

  • Session descriptions, speaker bios, suggested experience levels and schedule details are provided on the registration site and will soon be posted on the Jamboree website.
  • You won’t be bored between sessions. Videos featuring Ancestry’s crackerjack training team, Crista Cowan, Juliana Szucs and Ann Mitchell, will run during Jamboree breaks and lunches.
  • Because the sessions are sponsored by Ancestry and available for free, you can host viewing parties with one or two friends, or with a room full of fellow society members.
  • If you can’t watch a session real time as it is being live streamed, you will be able to watch it at your convenience before July 5, 2015, from the special Jamboree archive.
  • DNA live-streamed sessions will not be available for purchase on DVD, nor will they be accessible in the SCGS website archive.
  • There’s also a pay-per-view option for those who would like to watch SCGJ’s live streaming sessions from Genetic Genealogy: DNA Day.  (Here’s the DNA registration page.)
  • Registration for the pay-per-view and free Jamboree sessions will remain open through July 5, 2015, when the special archive will close.

Heritage Bracelet Idea: Family History Jewelry

family history jewelry braceletRecently Linda sent us this inspiring idea for making a heritage bracelet. “I made a bracelet for my mother for a birthday present a couple of weeks ago,” she wrote to us. “I printed out pictures of some of her female ancestors and glued them on small pendant photo frames I found at my local craft store. It took a while to figure out a design to get them to stay in place hanging on the bracelet but I think it turned out quite nice.” (Visit Linda’s blog here.)

If you like to make jewelry yourself, you can copy her pattern for this pretty piece of family history jewelry. You can also click here to order a custom bracelet through the Genealogy Gems store. The similar design we offer has 5 photos in it. This kind of gift not only celebrates the past, but becomes an heirloom piece itself.

A custom family history bracelet like this is available for purchase through the Genealogy Gems store.

A custom family history bracelet like this is available for purchase through the Genealogy Gems store. Click here to order!

Love this kind of post? Check out our Pinterest board featuring family history-themed jewelry! Or click here to read a post about a cute hair clip Lisa improvised from a single earring from her grandma.

Ancestry Up for Sale?

Ancestry for saleReuters recently reported that Ancestry “is exploring a sale that could value it at between $2.5 billion and $3 billion, including debt.” According to unnamed sources, Permira (a buyout firm that owns most of Ancestry) “has hired investment banks to run an auction for the company.”

It’s far too soon to say what this might mean for paying customers, users of Ancestry Library Edition and corporate and community partners. The sale of a company can mean possible changes in direction and organization. Ancestry currently boasts delivery of 15 billion genealogy records to 2.1 million subscribers, and has stated its intent to acquire additional records at an aggressive pace. In an ever changing corporate and technological environment we believe it’s important to retain ownership and responsibility of our own data.

Our best advice to those whose master family trees are on Ancestry? Download and backup your data! We’re not being alarmist. This announcement is just a good opportunity to do something we routinely recommend anyway.

First, download your current tree(s) to GEDCOM files onto your computer. Under the Trees tab, choose Create and Manage Trees. For each tree you have there, choose Manage Tree, then Export Tree.

Next, check your sources! The Ancestry help section states, “Any pictures, charts, books, views, or similar items found in the original file will not be included in the [downloaded] GEDCOM. Vital information, notes, and sources are usually retained after conversion.” Check your GEDCOM to see whether your source notes are intact. Then make sure you have copies of documents, videos, photos and other items you may have attached to your tree. You don’t want them to disappear, should there be a hiccup (or worse) in service.

Finally, if you have used AncestryDNA, download a copy of your raw DNA data. Click here to learn how. We especially recommend this step! These tests are expensive. Tests for loved ones who are now deceased can’t be re-rerun. And Ancestry has disposed of DNA samples in the past when the company has switched directions. (Again, not trying to be alarmist, just cautious.)

how to start a genealogy blogIf you have relied on Ancestry or any other cloud-based service to host your only or master family tree, we recommend you do your homework and consider your options. Please click here to read a blog post about keeping your master tree on your own computer at home, and which software may be best for you.

Organize Digital Family Photos: Free Podcast Interview with Denise Levenick

organize digital family photos

I love Denise Levenick’s “getting started” strategies for digital photo organization in the free May 2015 Family Tree Magazine podcast. I have thousands of digital photos on my computer–and that’s just from the past few years!

how to archive family photosDenise Levenick is the author of The Family Curator blog and the book How to Archive Family Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize and Share Your Photos Digitally. Her approach is so practical and forgiving: start where you are. Start small. Take your time. Do a few at a time. Use a consistent and simple file naming and digital file organizing scheme!

Also in this podcast, Editor Diane Haddad chimes into the conversation with 25 keepsake family photo projects. Then host Lisa Louise Cooke wraps up the photo theme with her favorite strategies for navigating the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.

 

Family History: Genealogy Made Easy PodcastAre you ready for some serious hard drive organization? We can help with that! In our free 2-part series, “Organize Your Genealogy Files,” Lisa shares the system she developed about a decade ago to keep her computer hard drive organized. Her system has withstood the test of time: she’s added thousands more files to her genealogy folders as well as folders that organize “the rest of her life.” Click here to go to these episodes of the Family History Made Easy Podcast, episodes 32-33. Genealogy Gems Premium members can also watch the 2-part Premium video series, “Hard Drive Organization.” You’ll learn similar principles but you can watch Lisa do all that digital organizing right on her computer screen!

Canadiana: Canadian Digital Archive and Portal to the Past

CanadianaDo you have Canadian roots? Then Canadiana should be on your list of online resources searched regularly for family history information.

Recently Newswire.ca described Canadiana as “a digital initiative of extraordinary scale,…a joint effort of 25 leading research institutions, libraries and archives working together with the goal of creating Canada’s multi-million page, comprehensive online archive.” Its digital collections chronicle Canada’s past since the 1600s and most of its content is free.

What we especially noticed in a recent peek at this enormous Canadian digital archive:

  • The Héritage Project. This FREE resource “aims to digitize, preserve and make accessible Canada’s archival materials for Canadians and the world. Héritage is also a pathfinder project to determine the best ways to organize and fund ongoing efforts to make all of Canada’s remaining documentary heritage accessible online.” Their large collection of genealogy materials so far includes immigration records, church records, land records, family histories, voters’ lists and more. Military history, government documents and aboriginal records are also well-represented. Tip: check back often! More is coming, like local and regional newspaper digitization and records of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.
  • The Canadiana Discovery Portal. This gateway to digital collections from 40 repositories points to 65 million pages! Sample subjects include  Ontario genealogy and War of 1812 campaigns. This portal is also free to use.
  • Early Canadiana Online, with 5 million images already and expected to grow to 16 million. This part of the website requires a subscription ($10/month or a year for $100) This is “a full-text collection of published documentary material, including monographs, government documents, and specialized or mass-market periodicals from the 16th to 20th centuries. Law, literature, religion, education, women’s history and aboriginal history are particular areas of strength.” The site describes itself as “the most complete set of full-text historical content about Canada, including books, magazines and government documents.” Tip: scroll down on the home page to click the Genealogy and Local History portal, but don’t ignore the rest of the site!

how to start a genealogy blogLike this post? Here’s a few more posts you may enjoy:

If more posts like these are what you’re looking for, sign up for our free email newsletter. You’ll get Lisa Louise Cooke’s free Google Research e-book when you do! From our home page, enter your email in the sign-up box.

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.