Have you ever experienced “genealogy serendipity?” Here’s a great book about it!
Recently, I came across an old blog post by my friend Geoff Rasmussen, in which he talks about discovering family gravestones while on a cruise.
A cruise doesn’t seem like the most likely place to discover ancestral grave markers. But his cruise ship stopped at Bar Harbor, Maine, near where several generations of his family lived.
Geoff stepped off and followed his instincts, his GPS device and–he believes–his ancestors themselves. In the short time he had for a shore excursion, he found the long-elusive graves of several relatives in several cemeteries, including distant great-grandparents.
Sooner or later, many of us experience “genealogy serendipity” moments like these. It’s that moment when an ancestor seems to be sitting on your shoulder, leading you to information about her. Or when an uncanny number of coincidences put you in the right place and time to make an important family connection. It can be downright eerie sometimes!
I’ve had my fair share of those types of experiences. I’ve talked about them before on the podcast, like in the free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 106, when I recounted the numerous buy medicine online paypal unusual happenings during my recent trip to England! And before that, in Episode 39, about how my great-grandmother Lenora Herring’s crazy quilt came into my possession. The story really wasn’t about the quilt. It was about listening to and following the guidance of my ancestors, even though in the moment the path wasn’t clear.
We all need a little inspiration now and then to stay on the genealogical journey. That’s why I am so happy that Geoff took the time to write more of his fabulous stories down. His new book, Kindred Voices: Listening for our Ancestors, is chicken soup for the genealogical soul indeed. This is a gem of a book! Geoff writes that his purpose is to “further energize” us as genealogists, and “give new meaning to the experiences” we have with genealogy serendipity. These are his true stories of feeling the presence of his ancestors as he looks for them.
We love passing along book suggestions! Have you seen the ones we’ve recommended for the Genealogy Gems Book Club? Check them out! And thank you for sharing this book recommendation with others you think will enjoy it. You’re a gem!
How can you share family history stories and memories without boring your relatives? Catch this free video preview of a new Premium video class that inspires YOU on how to inspire THEM!
If you are researching your family tree but haven’t shared it with your family in a way that sparks their interest, then you are only experiencing half of the joy of genealogy! And if your descendants don’t grasp the importance of their heritage, your hard work may tragically find it’s way to the city dump when you are gone.
New Video Filled with Inspiration
Don’t just collect your family history and store it away in binders and files! In her newest Genealogy Gems Premium video, Lisa Louise Cooke shares several projects–displays, multimedia shows, crafts–even a sweet treat to eat! The World War II display shown here is just one of her ideas.
She’ll inspire YOU on how best to inspire your family’s interest in your heritage.
Watch the free preview below on how to share family history with the non-genealogists in your life. ( Genealogy Gems Premium website members can watch the whole thing here (along with more than 2 dozen videos) as a perk of their membership. Premium website members also have access to our monthly Premium podcast and all archived episodes. Click here to learn more! And keep scrolling down to click on more blog posts with great ideas for sharing your heritage.
Thanks for sharing this post with others who will want a little more inspiration on how to share family history with loved ones. Just email the URL or post this article on your favorite social media channel.
Every week we blog about new genealogy records online. Which ones could be the key to busting your genealogy brick walls? New this week? Vital records for Delaware, South Dakota, Illinois and Texas. Italy civil registrations. Newspapers from Indianapolis, Louisville KY and San Bernadino CA. Immigrant passenger lists for Mississippi ports.
DELAWARE VITAL RECORDS. Over a million images of vital records from Delaware (1650-1974!) have been added to a 3-million strong collection you can browse at FamilySearch. Images of birth, marriage and death records for the city of Wilmington, Delaware are also newly browsable on FamilySearch. These date mostly to 1881. Birth records end in 1919; marriages and deaths in 1954.
ILLINOIS BIRTH CERTIFICATES. Over 370,000 births from Cook County, Illinois (home to Chicago) are now indexed at FamilySearch. These span 1878-1938; more records will be added on an ongoing basis.
ITALY CIVIL REGISTRATION. FamilySearch continues to churn out newly-digitized Italy civil registrations to its free site. They’re not indexed yet, but these are newly browsable: Arezzo (back to the 1300s!), Bergamo, Cremona, Enna, Imperia (San Remo) and nearly a million images for Pescara. Birth, marriage and death records may all contain important genealogical information.
U.S. IMMIGRATION–MISSISSIPPI PORTS. Indexed images of passenger arrival records at the ports of Gulfport (1904-1964) and Pascagoula (1903-1935, 1955-1964) are now available to Ancestry subscribers. According to the database description, “they typically include the name of the vessel and arrival date, ports of departure and arrival (as well as future destinations on a ship’s itinerary), dates of departure and arrival, shipmaster, full name, age, gender, physical description, military rank (if any), occupation, birthplace, citizen of what country, and residence. For military transports, you may find the next of kin, relationships, and address listed as well. Later manifests may include visa or passport numbers.”
SOUTH DAKOTA BIRTHS AND MARRIAGES. Nearly 700,000 indexed records comprise this new FamilySearch collection. The collection spans 1843-2014.
TEXAS MARRIAGES. About 1.3 million indexed records and related images have been added to a Texas county marriage records collection at FamilySearch.
Please help us spread the word about these new genealogy records online! Thank you! You are a gem!
Preserving old family letters is one of the best things you can do to be sure their precious content is available to future generations. Follow these easy steps from The Archive Lady, Melissa Barker, to organize and preserve the old correspondence in your family history archive.
Writing letters has become a thing of the past! If you are fortunate enough to have a collection of old family letters, you have a true treasure.
In addition to digitizing them, physically preserving them is one of the best things you can do to save the genealogical information contained in those old family letters. Here are some simple steps to preserve the old letters that you may have.
Preserving Old Letters in 4 Easy Steps
1. Arrange letters chronologically.
You can go by the date on the letter itself or by the postmark date on the envelope.
It is important to put your old letters in chronological order because sometimes there is information in those letters that continue from letter to letter and you want to make sure you read them in the order originally written.
If you have groups of letters from different events such as WWII letters, college letters, or vacation letters, you could group them together and then organize each grouping by date.
(Courtesy Houston County, TN. Archives.) Old letters like these need careful preservation.
2. Unfold old letters.
Once you have put your letters in chronological order, it’s time to do some preservation work.
I am asked all the time about letters and whether to leave them folded and in their envelopes. I can tell you that all archivists remove the letters from the envelopes and archive them unfolded. The creases made by folding and unfolding letters can cause damage and eventually those creases get weak and can cause the letters to tear into pieces. It is always best to unfold old family letters.
3. Encapsulate the old letters.
The term encapsulates means “to enclose something or to completely cover something.”
Now that you have unfolded and flattened your letters, you will want to encapsulate them in archival safe sleeves that can be purchased at any online archival supply store. Look for reputable preservation supply companies like Gaylord.
An encapsulated letter
Be sure to put the envelope with the letter in the same sleeve so that it doesn’t get lost or mixed up with another letter that it doesn’t belong to. When you’re working with many letters in a collection, the letter can easily be separated from the envelope. But envelopes may include crucial details such as dates, the identity and address of the writer, and interesting postmarks, so you want to keep them together.
4. Filing and storing old letters.
After you have put your letters in chronological order, unfolded them and encapsulated them, it is now time to file and store them.
Archivists prefer to put their encapsulated letters into archival file folders and then into archival boxes, being sure to keep the chronological order intact. (Click here for Gaylord’s Family Archives Document Preservation Kit, complete with archival folders and an archival box.)
This process gives you three layers of protection for your letters to ensure they are completely preserved and protected from bugs, dust, and anything else that could get to them and damage them.
Following these guidelines to preserving your family letters will ensure they are protected and saved for you to enjoy and for your future descendants to enjoy!
Next step: Digitize your old family letters.
Old letters can fall prey to many unfortunate situations. Ink can fade and paper can crumble. If this happens, the messages on your old letters may eventually be lost, despite your best efforts. It’s also possible that the entire file folder full of the original letters could be lost, damaged, or even destroyed!
Digitizing your old family letters lets you digitally preserve the content for future generations. It’s the best way to added another layer of protection. Duplication is a fundamental key to preservation.
In the free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 144, host and producer Lisa Louise Cooke talks with The Family Curator Denise Levenick about digitizing and organizing your family history.Click here to hear their conversation and start preserving your own family letters and other original documents.
You’ll Never Regret Preserving Your Old Family Letters
As you can seem it’s actually pretty easy to preserve your old family letters. I encourage you to get started today so that you’ll never have regrets in the future.
About the Author:
Melissa Barker is a Certified Archives Records Manager, the Houston County, Tennessee Archivist and author of the popular blog A Genealogist in the Archives and an advice columnist. She has been researching her own family history for the past 27 years.
Images courtesy of Melissa Barker and Houston County, TN Archives.
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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:
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:
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.