Remember the Sears Catalog? It’s on Ancestry.com

Sears Catalog Fall 1960, Cover. Digital image from Ancestry.com. Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Sears Roebuck Catalogs 1896–1993. Vol.102–228 K. Chicago, Illinois: Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Back in “the day,” American consumers window-shopped by mail with the Sears catalog. From 1888-1993, the Sears catalog stocked millions of American households and fed the Christmas lists of men, women and children.

Wouldn’t pages from the Sears catalog make a lively addition to your family history posts, pins, pages and  conversations? Ancestry.com thinks so, too! They’ve digitized the catalogs and they’re keyword-searchable here. (Just a word of advice: browse a certain issue or search for a specific product. A keyword search for “bicycle” brings up over 5000 results through the OCR technology used to find matches.)

According to this brief history, the Sears catalog first launched as a mailer for watches and jewelry in 1888. “The time was right for mail order merchandise,” says the article. “Fueled by the Homestead Act of 1862, America’s westward expansion followed the growth of the railroads. The postal system aided the mail order business by permitting the classification of mail order publications as aids in the dissemination of knowledge entitling these catalogs the postage rate of one cent per pound. The advent of Rural Free Delivery in 1896 also made distribution of the catalog economical.”

Here’s one more blast from the American consumer past: Sears kit houses. Have you heard of these? You used to be able to order pre-fabricated homes from Sears. You could customize one of many standard sets of plans, and all the materials would be pre-cut and delivered to your home, “some assembly required,” so to speak. Learn more about Sears kit houses and see images of several designs (1908-1940) here. Did your family ever live in a kit house? Tell us about it on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page!

We Dig These Gems: New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records onlineEvery Friday, we highlight new genealogy records online. Scan these posts for content that may include your ancestors. Use these records to inspire your search for similar records elsewhere. Always check our Google tips at the end of each list: they are custom-crafted each week to give YOU one more tool in your genealogy toolbox.

This week: British POWs in World War I, North Carolina marriages, and church records for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and various denominations in Scotland.

BRITISH POWs IN WWI. Prisoners Of War 1914-1920, with over 43,000 records with images at FindMyPast, consists of “10 series of British Foreign Office documents relating to prisoners held by the Ottomans during World War One. They not only include the names of military personnel taken prisoner–both allied and foreign–but also the names of civilians, merchant seamen, fishermen, diplomatic employees and more.” Some documents “contain the names, ranks and locations of PoWs and provide insights into life in the Ottoman camps. They contain details of requests made by inmates for items including footballs and biscuits, details of visits by foreign diplomats and reports on camp conditions.”

NORTH CAROLINA MARRIAGE RECORDS. Ancestry has a new collection of North Carolina “marriage bonds, licenses, certificates, and registers, as well as indexes and abstracts to the various records from 87 North Carolina counties….Of special interest to African American researchers are records of cohabitation, which were required to be recorded in 1866 in order for the marriages of recently emancipated slaves to be legally recognized.” The records span 1741-2011.

SCOTLAND CHURCH RECORDS. Births, baptisms, banns and marriages, deaths and burials are among a slew of newer records searchable on MyHeritage.com. According to the site, “The records in this collection were taken from Kirk Session material of the Church of Scotland, other Presbyterian churches, and also the registers of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). These parish registers cover a wide range of dates (from 17th to 19th century) and many of them are not to be found in any other record source.” Information listed in these records may include names, family relationships, dates and places of events and details of the parish.

U.S. LUTHERAN CHURCH RECORDS. Baptism, confirmation, marriage and burial records from more than 2000 congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (1875-1940) are now on Ancestry. These have been available on Archives.com but have migrated to its parent site. “The information…varies from congregation to congregation (and sometimes from minister to minister). In some ethnic congregations, you may run into records in German, Danish, or some other language….Within the collection you may also find membership records, with some listing the names and dates of admission, communion records, and how they were received into the church.”
check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064 new genealogy records online

Google tip of the week: If you see a record collection online but don’t have a subscription to the website that hosts it, Google the name of the database. See whether a free site (like FamilySearch) or another site to which you do have access also hosts the same data set or a similar one. Can’t find it? Click on the description of the record collection (you can generally read the description even if you can’t search the records themselves) and read its source. It may come from a book or a resource that’s been microfilmed–something you can search for on WorldCat and borrow to a library near you. This tip is brought to you by The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition–fully revised and updated in 2015!

Countdown to #RootsTech 2014!

RT-Blogger-badge-200sqRootsTech 2014 is next week! If you can get to Salt Lake for it but haven’t registered yet, don’t forget to enter to win a FREE full-access pass from the Genealogy Gems podcast!

Here’s some countdown information from the planners to help you find your way around:

To get your RootsTech name badge and conference materials, stop by Registration Check-In located in the South foyer of the Salt Palace Convention Center. Be sure to bring photo ID. Avoid the lines and check in at your earliest convenience! Registration Check-In is open at the following times:

      • Wednesday 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (Innovator Summit) and 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
      • Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
      • Friday 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
      • Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Family History Library at NightFriday Night Fun at the Library

The Family History Library is the place for a Friday Night Pizza Party.  The largest library of its kind in the world is staying open late for you. Come do some research, find a name, and grab a slice of pizza. There will be an “Open Mic Night” for five-minute story sharing and then catch an episode of The Story Trek, hosted by Todd Hansen, who will be a keynote speaker at RootsTech Saturday morning. Tickets for the pizza are nearly gone, but the library is open late that night for everyone!

Interactive and Hands-on

Be sure to check out the new Family Discovery Exhibit, sponsored by FamilySearch, in the RootsTech Expo Hall. It includes:

  • Photo Scanning Area. Make digital copies of family photos that you can preserve, share, and even upload directly to your FamilySearch Family Tree. There are also plenty of high-capacity scanners that make great digital copies quickly. What to do: Bring the photos you want to scan and a flash drive.
  • Recording Booth – Record Your Story. Video or audio record your favorite family story in one of our enclosed sound booths. Your private recording session includes ten minutes of recording time and you’ll get a copy of it on a flash drive. Enjoy sharing the memory for many years to come. What to do: Think of a family story or memory that you want to capture and preserve. Story helps will be provided on-site.
  • Record a Call – With Someone Who Inspires You. Make a phone call that will last a lifetime. Simply call a parent, grandparent, or someone who inspires you and find out more about their life. Our app will record the conversation and you can take it and treasure the memory for years. What to do: Bring a phone number of a person you want to call and interview, as well as an email address you’d like to send the recorded file to.
  • See Yourself in History. How would you look as a cowboy or as one of the pretty maids all in a row? Have your face (and the faces of your friends) added to one of several fun antique photos and e-mail yourself a digital copy you can share. What to do: Have an email address to send your new photo to.
  • FamilySearch Book Scanning Booth. Get your family book scanned for free. We’ll make a digital copy, you keep the original and a searchable PDF copy for yourself. You can also donate personal works, books that are copyright protected, and books that are in the public domain. Questions? Email bookdonations@familysearch.org.

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