August 1, 2015

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!

Use Forensic Genealogy Tools: Technology Sheds New Light On History

forensic genealogy toolsThe forensic investigator pulls up to the crime scene and snaps a fresh set of rubber gloves. She props open the trunk of the car and carefully, slowly, sweeps a tube of florescent light back and forth inside the trunk, watching with an eagle eye for the glimmer of something that shouldn’t be there.

It’s a familiar scenario – well, that is, if you watch Court TV or CSI or one of the other of myriad of television shows featuring forensics. If you’re like me, you’re fascinated by this type of investigation. Criminal investigators are not all that different from genealogists: they are  looking for dead people and trying to find out what happened to dead people.

So it will be be no surprise that this recent news item grabbed my attention:

Image from the National Library of Wales website. Click to view.

Image from the National Library of Wales website. Click to view.

Poetry and pictures drawn in the margins of a medieval manuscript–and then erased–have been rediscovered using modern imaging techniques. The Black Book of Carmarthen is the oldest known surviving Welsh language manuscript. Written in 1250, it’s now “throwing up ghosts from the past after new research and imaging work revealed eerie faces and lines of verse which had previously been erased from history,” according to a National Library of Wales blog post.

“A combination of ultraviolet light and photo editing software” were used to better see ancient doodles that had been erased from the margins. The process revealed “images, and snatches of poetry which are previously unrecorded in the canon of Welsh verse.”

We’ve featured several types of forensic analysis as applied to genealogy over the years. In fact, forensic genealogy principles inspired my popular presentation, How to Reopen and Work a Genealogical Cold Case (if you’re a Premium Member of this website you can sign in right now and watch it under Premium Videos).

Criminal investigators are not all that different from genealogists:
they are  looking for dead people and trying to find out what happened to dead people.

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episodes 89 and 90 features Dr. Robert Leonard, a forensic linguist featured on an episode of Forensic Files on TV. It was such a riveting interview that I brought him back for Premium episode 48 where his brother Dr. George Leonard joined us. And way back in the pioneer days of this podcast (2008) Episode 18 featured “Vehicular Forensics.”

vehicular forensics genealogyIt was my genealogical take on using alternative light sources on not the trunks of cars, but rather their faded license plates as they appear in old photos. That episode has been “retired” but will soon be Gems ebook remastered and available for listening (stay tuned to the free Genealogy Gems email newsletter for the publication announcement.) In the meantime you can read about it in depth in my very first book Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies.

Have you looked to see what lurks on the pages and photos of your ancestors? Email me and we may share it in an upcoming blog post or episode.

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: Midwestern U.S. newspapers (Cleveland, OH and Chicago, IL) and records of Pennsylvania coal and canal workers’ and English and Welsh criminals.

CLEVELAND JEWISH NEWS. Technically this isn’t new content, but access to the Cleveland Jewish News is newly free, so it’s new to most of us! You do need to provide your name and email address for free access to 125 years of Cleveland Jewish newspapers. Subscribers have immediate access to all content as it is published; the public can access materials 90 days after they go online.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE ARCHIVE. For a very limited time–during beta testing of its new archive–old issues of The Chicago Tribune are free to search on its Archives website. Click here for their FAQ page or read a more detailed report on the National Genealogical Society (US) blog.

ENGLAND & WALES REGISTER OF CRIMINAL PETITIONS. Findmypast added over 77,000 records to its Registers of Criminal Petitions index to imaged registers of correspondence relating to criminal petitions. Documents usually give the outcome of any appeal and registers note the place of imprisonment.

PENNSYLVANIA COAL AND CANAL WORKERS. Ancestry just posted employee cards and applications from the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company for first half of the twentieth century. “The cards may list name, marital status, occupation, birth date, record date, residence, spouse, nationality, number of children and their ages, citizenship, date range for jobs, who to notify in case of an accident, and pension date. Applications can contain other details, including parents’ names, schooling, employment record, birthplace, and height and weight.”

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064When searching digitized newspaper sites, remember that the search technology used (optical character recognition) is much less thorough for historical newspapers than modern text, especially for capitalized words. Use creative search terms if searches on an ancestor’s name aren’t productive, like the person’s occupation or death date. Click here to learn more about using Google to search digitized newspaper pages, or read Lisa Louise Cooke’s newly-revised and updated book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, available now both in print and e-book format.

Was This My Ancestor’s Neighborhood? Using Google Earth for Genealogy

Google Earth Jones St neighborhood

Jones Street, Olyphant, PA, 1910. Image courtesy of Michael Grayson.

When Lisa blogged recently about Google Earth’s 10th birthday, it reminded me of something on my family history “to do” list. A few years ago I found a postcard of what I thought was an ancestor’s neighborhood. Could Google Earth confirm it?

Lisa uses Google Earth’s powerful 3D renderings of the world’s streets to identify where old pictures were taken. I knew from deeds, a plat map, and addresses on censuses and draft registrations that the O’Hotnicky lived on a certain block of Jones St. (now named Grant St.), around the corner from and behind Holy Ghost church.

This postcard of “Jones Street, Olyphant” looks like its viewpoint is from the end of the block behind the church. This would mean the tall tree shown here was shading–and blocking our view of–the O’Hotnicky home.

Olyphant view Google EarthI opened Google Earth and flew to “117 Grant St, Olyphant, PA.” The initial view, hovering from above, was promising. The camera icon shows where I thought the photo was taken. The left arrow points to the former line of trees, in front of the ancestral address. The right arrow points to the church tower behind.

Unfortunately, when I enter Street View at that exact spot, the new church on the corner and a tall apartment building block the view that would have been seen a century ago. There is no Street View available on Grant Street itself so I couldn’t move up the street toward the church. So I moved into Street View along the side street (parallel to the bottom of the photo).

In the opening between two buildings, Google Earth gave me a glimpse of the church tower. I compared the postcard view with Google Earth’s photo. The church towers look so similar: a simple cross on top, pointed copper roof, arched tower and the building roof line. Even more striking to me is the white frame house. Was this the same white house shown in the postcard view?Olyphant detail view Google Earth

These two visuals taken together–the church tower profile and the position of the white house–seem consistent with my theory of where the photo was taken. Which means that yes, indeed, this 1910 postcard shows the trees in front of an ancestor’s home as they appeared 105 years ago.

Google Earth can fly you to an ancestor’s neighborhood–and whatever clues its current landscape gives you into the landscape of the past. Click here to watch Lisa’s free video about using Google Earth for genealogy!

 

NEW Genealogy Gems Book Club Title: Pioneer Girl (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Pioneer Girl Book ClubWhen Lisa and I were young we read the “Little House” series of children’s books about growing up on the western U.S. frontier. These books continue to shape the way Lisa and I imagine our ancestors’ lives during that era. Well, the “grown-up” version of the Little House series has finally been published!

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill, is our newest Genealogy Gems Book Club. It’s the never-before-published autobiography Laura wrote in the 1930s. The stories and memories she shares in it are the basis for her  popular Little House children’s series.

Across the cover of a dime store paper tablet, Laura scrawled “Pioneer Girl.” Then she filled it with detailed recollections of family, and neighbors, wagon trains and homesteads. In other words, memories of pioneering in an American West that was fading away. Her stories will intrigue–and sometimes stun–any Laura Ingalls Wilder fan.

In the Book Club announcement in Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 181, I asked Lisa what makes this book a standout and a prime candidate for genealogists. Her answer? “The immaculate research that went into it. The stunning example it sets for source citations, which consume large portions of most of the pages. And the often never seen before photos sprinkled throughout that bring the people and times to life visually for the reader.”

Look for more on Pioneer Girl in the coming two months on the Genealogy Gems podcast and website. In September, Genealogy Gems Premium members will get to enjoy Lisa’s full interview with editor Pamela Smith Hill. We’ll play an excerpt on the free Genealogy Gems podcast.

Genealogy Gems Book Club Genealogy Family HistoryWant to see more great titles we’ve recommended? Click here to access the Genealogy Gems Book Club, with best-selling titles: fiction, memoir, history and family histories. OR click here to see our growing list of how-to genealogy titles we love and have featured on Genealogy Gems in the past.

Using Evernote for Genealogy: The New Web Clipper

Evernote web clipper for Safari and Chrome new and improvedDo you use Evernote for Genealogy? Genealogists everywhere are singing its praises and it’s a regular feature here on Genealogy Gems. Well, Evernote just got a little better today.

Evernote has just released a new web clipper and it oozes with awesomeness. It works with Safari, and may be the catalyst for reluctant Windows users to finally say goodbye to Internet Explorer and make the commitment to Google’s Chrome web browser.

My favorite feature (so far) of Evernote’s new web clipper is easy to spot.  The Screenshot clipper that was once only available using the desktop app is now built right into the browser web clipper. You gotta love it!

 

evernote for genealogy web clipper screen shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But it doesn’t stop there. Once you have clipped the desired web content, there are a load of new annotations you can add to highlight what’s important to you.

Watch the video to see it in action:

Here are some key features:

  • The Evernote Web Clipper has been updated on Chrome, Opera, and Safari. You’ll need to restart your browser once it’s updated.
  • Clipping from Gmail, LinkedIn, YouTube and Amazon has been customized to allow you to clip only the parts of the page you want. It saves as a clean and clutter-free note. With Gmail, Web Clipper includes any email attachments.
  • You can share clips right from the new Web Clipper. You can even embellish clips with text and visual callouts.
  • You can assign clips to notebooks and tags right from the clip screen. The more clips you save, the better Evernote gets at predicting where you want it saved.

Click here to get the Web Clipper.
Ultimate Evernote Education abbreviatedDid you know that Genealogy Gems is home to the Ultimate Evernote Education? It’s part of the Genealogy Gems Premium annual membership. For one low fee, members get access to five mini-video tutorials on getting started and five more full-length video classes that progress from beginner to advanced level. Even better, the Evernote series represents only a portion of the videos available to Premium users–you’ll find more on Google searching, Google Earth,  hard drive organization, genealogy research skills and more. Click to learn more about Genealogy Gems Premium membership for yourself or for your genealogy group.

Who do YOU know who wants to learn more about using Evernote for genealogy? Please share this post with them by email or through your favorite social media channels.

How Cloud Backup Helped One Genealogy Gem Get Closer to Living a Paper-Free Genealogy Life

cloud backup for paper-free lifeHave you dreamed of living a paper-free genealogy life? One where there are no sticky notes surrounding your computer screen and–not so much paper piling up on your desk that your actual remaining work surface is about the size of a sticky note? It happens to the best of us! And much of the reason is we haven’t felt confident about our ability to keep digitized versions of the paper truly safe.

That’s all changing, and a long time Genealogy Gem, Michelle, recently wrote in about her journey to living an almost paper-free genealogy life:

“Dear Lisa,

I wanted to let you know that I just purchased Backblaze to back up my files. I thought you might be interested in my story.

school report outlinedI did my first genealogy project in high school in 1971 and got an A+ on it. I’ve attached the title page for you to enjoy. Well, that project ignited my lifelong passion for family history. During the past 44 years, I’ve amassed a LOT of documents, photos, and videos as you can imagine.

This past year I retired and began the task of scanning all of these items for a couple of reasons:
1. I wanted them to be protected.
2. I wanted everyone to be able to use them and benefit from my lifetime of research.

I purchased a few external hard drives for storage but couldn’t bring myself to toss much of the physical items at all due to fear of the hard drives failing. I tried several cloud services but none of them fully met my needs. Then (on The Genealogy Gems Podcast) I heard your endorsement for Backblaze and tried it out. I knew immediately this was the service for me, especially because you vetted it out and I trust you completely. Now I can finally toss all that unnecessary paper and almost live a paper-free genealogy life!

Thank you for all the wonderful things you do for the genealogy community. You are a hero in my eyes.

A loyal friend and listener,

Michelle”

Thank YOU Michelle for writing in, sharing your story about how you are using cloud backup as part of your paperless strategy, and your kind words. Backblaze is the official cloud backup of Genealogy Gems and we truly appreciate their sponsorship which helps keep The Genealogy Gems Podcast available for free to all genealogists.

And Michelle is very lucky because she even has a record, in the  handwriting of her youth, of when she first caught the genealogy bug. Below Michelle shares the rough draft of the foreword to her paper that describes her first encounter with her Grandma on the subject of family history.

“Grandma, how do you remember all this? Do you have it written down somewhere?” 

“No,” she replied, “It’s all in my head”

I couldn’t believe how she knew everyone’s extended family – names, dates, places, and a biography of each one. She had a whole family history living in her head.”

And now Michelle does too! Do you?

kolbe

Annie Barrows Talks Family History and The Truth According to Us

Annie Barrow interviewIf you’ve read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, you know how brilliantly co-author Annie Barrows stitched together letters, conversations and history in her fictional love story and account of the Nazi-occupied island of Guernsey during World War II. I love that book. So I was super excited to hear her talking on The Diane Rehm Show recently about her new book, The Truth According to Us: A Novel.

Of course, Annie read from the opening of her book, which made me put it at the top of my reading list. Then she talked about how history can be so different, depending on who is telling the story and from what perspective. I loved her take on small-town history and family history: how it’s remembered so deeply and passionately by its own, and often so mis-remembered or mis-represented by outsiders.

Here’s the book summary from Amazon:

“In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.

At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues of ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.”

Annie did talk about the Guernsey book, too. I hadn’t realized her aunt wrote the original manuscript, then became too ill to do the rewrites her publisher wanted. So Annie took on the task. As the author of the acclaimed Ivy and Bean children’s series, clearly she was up to the task. But she didn’t dream it would become an international best-seller!

Genealogy Gems Book Club Genealogy Family HistoryThat’s my latest recommendation as the “curator” of the Genealogy Gems Book Club. We recommend mainstream fiction and nonfiction titles that resonate with people who love family history. Up soon on the Genealogy Gems Book Club schedule: our interview with author Nathan Dylan Goodwin, author of The Lost Ancestor (The Forensic Genealogist) (we’ll put the link up on the Book Club page when it’s ready). We also recently published this new companion list of how-to genealogy books we love.

 

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. This week’s findings include a major Cincinnati newspaper collection, Cuban genealogy resources, a burial index for New York City and records for a mental hospital in Surrey, England. Might any of the collections below include your ancestor? Check out our weekly Google search tip at the end of the post, too–it’s about finding images associated with the records you come across.

CINCINNATI NEWSPAPER. Subscribers can now search over a quarter million pages from The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841-1922) at Newspapers.com. This collection covers 80 years of history for one of the largest inland cities in the U.S., which was a major landing spot for Ohio River travelers and home to thousands of German immigrants.

CUBAN GENEALOGY COLLECTION. The Digital Library of the Caribbean now offers access to the Enrique Hurtado de Mendoza Collection of Cuban Genealogy. According to the website description, the collection “includes thousands of books, handwritten and typed letters, photos and other primary documents relating to Cuba and Cuban genealogy, collected over four decades by Felix Enrique Hurtado de Mendoza….: rare 17th and 18th century books, long out-of-print publications and periodicals that few, if any, U.S. libraries hold in their catalogs. Additionally, thousands of unpublished family genealogies and manuscripts make this collection particularly significant.” Read more about the collection in this article, where we learned about it.

NYC BURIALS. One of New York City’s oldest and largest cemeteries has put up  a free database with thousands of burials, among them Civil War soldiers, former slaves and more. Green-Wood cemetery has about  Green-Wood currently has more than half a million burials dating to 1840. Those who find an ancestor in the database should consider ordering a search of Green-Wood’s archival records.

UK HOSPITAL RECORDS. Over 11,000 Surrey, England Mental Hospital admission records (1867-1900) have been newly digitized and published by Ancestry, in partnership with the Surrey History Centre. Each record contains the patient’s name, gender, marriage status, occupation, residence, religion, and their reason for admission (diagnosis).
check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Here’s your weekly Google search tip: don’t forget to look for images associated with the types of record collections you find! Where one record exists, another may also. For example: search “Surrey England mental hospital,” and then when the results come up, click “Images.” You’ll find tons of photos of that hospital, some of them quite old. You can further filter these (or any image results) under Search Tools. Most commonly when searching for old pictures, I will choose “Black and White” under the Color tab (which naturally limits results to mostly older photos) or “labeled for reuse” under the Usage Rights tab (more likely to find images I can publish). This tip is brought to you by The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke: the fully-revised and updated 2nd edition is packed with great search tips like these!