Free App, E-Book Celebrate Constitution Day

Today the United States celebrates Constitution Day! On this date in 1787–225 years ago–delegates finalized and signed the historic document that became the U.S. Constitution.

In celebration, the National Archives Center for Legislative Archives has launched a free mobile app, e-book and even companion tools for teachers: lesson plans and teaching activities.

“Congress Creates the Bill of Rights” is described at the National Archives website, where you can download the e-book and teaching resources. The e-book is also available in iTunes and the iBookstore for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. The app is available for download on iPad at the App Store.

A press release describes the app as “an interactive learning tool for tablets that lets the user experience the proposals, debates, and revisions that shaped the Bill of Rights in the First Congress. Its menu-based organization presents a historic overview, a one-stop source that includes the evolving language of each proposed amendment as it was shaped in the House and the Senate, a close-up look at essential documents, a ‘time-lapse’ display of the creation of the First Amendment, and more.

Congress Creates the Bill of Rights eBook presents a historic narrative focusing on James Madison’s leadership role in creating the Bill of Rights and effectively completing the Constitution. Starting with the crises facing the nation in the 1780s, the narrative traces the call for constitutional amendments from the state ratification conventions, and takes the reader inside Congress as the House and the Senate worked to formulate a set of amendments to send to the states.”

Did you have ancestors who were at the Constitutional Convention? Contribute what you know at the Signers of the U.S. Constitution Project at Geni.com. The goal of this project is to build “single, documented profiles” of those who signed.

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 233

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 233

with Lisa Louise Cooke
September 2019

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In this Episode

Today we’re going to take a look at what so many records and record collections have in common: they are often Lists. Now that may sound pretty straight forward, but there’s a lot more to Lists than meet the eye.

A list of names, places or other information has a lot to tell us and can be used in unique ways. Professional genealogist Cari Taplin joins me in this episode for a conversation about what is so lovely about lists.

My Summer Vacation

If you’ve been following me on Instagram – you can find me here on Instagram or by searching for genealogy gems podcast in the free Instagram app – then you know that I’ve spent a bit of my time this summer getting a taste of some of the work many of my ancestors did and probably that many of your ancestors did: farming.

Bill and I have a close friend who owns his grandfather’s 1904 homestead in North Dakota. A few years back Bill went up there to help them open it back up and get things up and running. This year we helped them harvest their crop of oats. (They even have a sign in the field that says, “These oats will grow up to be Cheerios”)

Cheerios in the farm fields

Of course, we used equipment that our ancestors may not have had. I learned to drive the combine, and I turned the field with the tractor. But in many ways, things haven’t changed all that much.

One of the things that really struck me was how the farming community out there pulls together.

Now to put this in perspective: the 240-acre homestead is about two miles down a dirt road from Canada. The house has fallen into disrepair over the decades, so our friend bought an old farmhouse in the nearby town where he grew up. That town has a population of just over 50 people!

North Dakota Farmland

North Dakota farmland. Photo Credit: Lisa Louise Cooke, Genealogy Gems

So, we’re talking about a pretty remote location, and folks are scattered on various farms miles apart. But when a tractor was in need of repair, within the hour a neighbor would be pulling up ready to crawl under it alongside our friend to work on it till it was fixed. When a piece of equipment was needed that he didn’t have, it would soon be rolling down the road from a neighboring farm to pitch in.

Everyone had one eye on the sky at all times to watch the ever-changing weather, and there was such a commitment by all to make sure no neighbor was left with unharvested crops before a storm hit.

So even though the combines of today are motorized massive machines with air conditioning and stereos, the work ethic, the commitment and the community was unchanged from when his granddad first filed his homestead claim. Bill and I felt really blessed to be a part of it.

Think of us next time you eat your cheerios.

Farm selfie

Farm selfie

MyHeritage

MyHeritage.com is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click the logo above to get started.

GEM: Interview with Cari Taplin

If you’ve been doing genealogy for any length of time, then you have probably encountered a list. They come in all shapes and sizes, and at first glance they may seem very straight forward.

Cari Taplin, a certified genealogist out of Pflugerville, Texas, says it’s worth taking the time to really examine lists carefully because there may be more there than meets the eye.

Cari Taplin genealogist

Cari  currently serves on the boards of the Association for Professional Genealogists and is the Vice President of Membership for the Federation of Genealogical Societies. As the owner of GenealogyPANTS, she provides speaking, research, and consultation services, focusing on midwestern and Great Lakes states and methodology.

Types of Lists

Nearly every time we sit down to do genealogy research we run into a list. There are loads of them out there. Here’s just a starter list of the lists you might run into:

  • indexes of any kind
  • city directories
  • tax lists
  • petitions
  • censuses
  • church membership
  • members of a club or society
  • fraternal organization member lists
  • community groups
  • committees
  • lists in newspapers like hotel registrations, letters at post office
  • hospital admittances and discharges
  • cemetery books
  • event participants
  • jurors
  • estate sales
  • militia rolls
  • voter lists
  • land lottery winners
  • school class lists
  • yearbooks
  • agricultural lists
1850 census

Census records are examples of lists

Significance of List Construction

Of course, not every list is alphabetically organized by any means. We might run into a list of prison inmates listed by number, or burial sites listed by plot or location. The information can be organized in many different ways.

Cari says that the way the list maker decided to organize the list tells us a lot about the information.

For example, a list that is alphabetized might be an indication that it is a recreated list. Other ways that lists may be constructed include chronologically or by location.

Here are follow up tasks you can do:

  • Evaluate for potential error
  • Locate the original source

 

List Explanation or Instructions

Understanding the thinking behind how the list was constructed is also important.

The U.S. Federal Census is a great example of a list that has other background documents such as the enumerator instructions. We don’t see these instructional documents unless we go looking for them. The instructions provide background on the creation of the list, and that can help us get more out of it.

Research Tip: Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000. From that page you download the PDF of enumerator instructions.

Here’s an example of how understanding the census enumerator instructions can help you better understand how to interpret it:

In 1900 the census was answered as if it were a particular day. This means that if someone died a few days later, they may still be listed as alive in the 1900 census. If you know that they died that year, you now have more information that it was after the enumeration date.

Genealogy websites like Ancestry, FamilySearch and MyHeritage often provide background on the creation and purpose of their record collections.  

Tax List example: there are laws behind them. Look up the statute. Google to find summations of tax laws at the time. Keep in mind that they might be in order of location.

When analyzing a list, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What was this list created for?
  • Why is it in this order?
  • What does that then tell me about these people?

What’s we’re really talking about is educating ourselves
so that we’re not contributing to the errors that get out there.
It’s an investment in accuracy.

Context

It can be tempting to just scan the list, grab your ancestor out of it, and move on. But if we do that, we could be leaving a lot of genealogical gold behind.

“Evidence mining requires attention to detail, including details that might initially seem insignificant.” ––BCG, Genealogy Standards, #40, p. 24

Here are some ideas as to what we should look for:

  • Sometimes it’s just a name (example: petition lists)
  • There might be columns at the top – pay attention to those details for more understanding
  • Other people in the list: the FAN Club (Friends, Associates, Neighbors.) Look for those names in other documents.

 

Organizing Your Research and the Data Collected from Lists

Cari uses spreadsheets to organize her genealogical research project data.

Come of the benefits of using a spreadsheet are that you can:

  • easily sort the data
  • easily manipulate the data
  • visualize the data in different forms

Free Download: Read How German Address Books at Ancestry.com are Helping Bust Brick Walls and download the free spreadsheet template.

Addresses found in German Address Books marked in the spreadsheet

Addresses found in German Address Books marked in the spreadsheet

Explore the Bigger List

Often times you do a search, and you find a single record. But that single record is actually part of a massive internal list, an indexed list from which the search engine is pulling.

An example of this is when you run a search for your ancestor at the Bureau of Land Management website (BLM).  After finding your ancestor’s record, you can then run a search by that land description to find other people who owned land and possibly lived nearby.

Watch the FamilySearch video on the batch search technique that Lisa mentioned.

What Constitutes Proof?

“Evidence mining requires attention to detail, including details that might initially seem insignificant.” – BCG, Genealogy Standards, #40, p.24

Review the Genealogical Proof Standard in the show notes for Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 232.

2 men with 1 name

When everyone in the family wants to name their children after Grandpa, you can end up with a lot people in a county with the same name. You need to tease them apart.

Questions to ask:

  • Who did they associate with?
  • Who were their siblings?
  • Where were each of them located?

All of these things can help differentiate them. A spreadsheet is an excellent tool for this.

The Yearbook List Example

Very often the list of names is the full list of students. However, not every student necessarily had their photo taken. Count the names and then count the photos to verify you have the right person. Search the Ancestry Yearbook collection to try and find another photo of the person to compare.  

Cari’s Main Message

Don’t skip over a list because it’s lacking some identifying information. You still need to record it. You may come back to it one day!

Visit Cari Online: Genealogy Pants

 

Profile America: The Gregorian Correction

Wednesday, September 11th. This was a day that didn’t exist in Colonial America in 1752, as the familiar calendar underwent what is called the “Gregorian correction,” switching from the ancient Julian calendar to adjust for errors accumulated over centuries.

After September 2nd, the next day was September 14th. The British parliament’s Calendar Act of 1750 had also changed New Year’s Day from March 25th to January 1st. As a result, the year 1751 had only 282 days. Since then, with leap years built in as in 2020, the calendar has remained constant.

Sources: 
Calendars timeline, accessed 6/6/2019  
Calendar Act  
Calendar riots  
Printing services, County Business Patterns, NAICS 32311  
Printing employment, Annual Survey of Manufacturers, NAICS 32311  

News: Watch Lisa’s new MyHeritage Education Center

Visit the MyHeritage Education Center to watch videos and read article to help you get more out of using MyHeritage. Watch the presentation at the MyHeritage Education Center: How to Find Your Family in Newspapers with SuperSearch

Download the Show Notes PDF in the Genealogy Gems Podcast app. 

 

American Slave Records in New and Updated Genealogical Collections

American slave records contained in the Digital Library on American Slavery at the University of North Carolina Greensboro have recently been updated. Also in new and updated genealogical record collections this week, records from Australia, United States, and Ireland.

dig these new record collections

United States – North Carolina – American Slave Records

An expansion of the University of North Carolina Greensboro University Libraries’ Digital Library on American Slavery has added bills of sales. These records index the names of enslaved people from across North Carolina. When complete the project will include high resolution images and full-text searchable transcripts. This digital library also includes other important record projects such as:

Race and Slavery Petitions Project – A searchable database of detailed personal information about slaves, slaveholders, and free people of color. The site provides access to information gathered over an eighteen-year period from petitions to southern legislatures and country courts filed between 1775 and 1867 in the fifteen slave-holding states in the United States and the District of Columbia.

North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements, 1750-1840 Project – Online access to all known runaway slave advertisements (more than 2300 items) published in North Carolina newspapers from 1751 to 1840. Digital images, full-text transcripts, and descriptive metadata, are included in this searchable database.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database – Among other things, this database identifies 91,491 Africans taken from captured slave ships or from African trading sites. It includes the African name, age, gender, origin, country, and places of embarkation and disembarkation of each individual.

People Not Property – Slave Deeds of North Carolina – When complete, People Not Property – Slave Deeds of North Carolina will include high resolution images, and full-text searchable transcripts. Though still in the working stages, they hope to open the project to states beyond North Carolina, creating a central location for accessing and researching slave deeds from across the Southern United States. Keep a watchful eye on this exciting endeavor!

Australia – Victoria – Court Session Records

Over 3 million Victoria Petty Sessions Registers records have just been released in association with Public Records Office Victoria to coincide with Australia Day (January 26th) 2017. This collection includes both transcripts and scanned images of original court registers. If your ancestors had a run-in with the law, you may find them here.

Victoria petty records and american slavery records

Snapshot of Victoria Petty Sessions Record from Findmypast.

This collection covers both civil and minor criminal cases. The Court of Petty Sessions’ brief was wide, making these records a powerful resource for those with Australian ancestors. Your ancestors may appear as a witnesses, defendants, complainants, or even as a Justice of the Peace. Cases include merchants who had not paid duty on their goods, to workers suing for unpaid wages. Debts were also collected and disputes settled. Public drunkenness was a common offence, as was assault and general rowdiness.

The registers available in this collection cover the years between 1854 and 1985. Transcripts will list the event date, your ancestor’s role (whether plaintiff, defendant, etc.), cause or reason for the case, the court it was held at, the date, and a brief description. Images may provide additional details.

Australia – Queensland – Passenger Lists

Also at Findmypast, Queensland Custom House Shipping 1852-1885 passengers and crew with over 107,000 records of passengers and crew that made voyages between 1852 to 1885.

These transcripts list information taken from original documents held by the National Archives of Australia and will allow you to discover your ancestor’s age, nationality, occupation, date and port of arrival, date and port of departure, and the name of the ship they sailed on.

United States – New York – Passenger Lists

The collection New York, Book Indexes to Passenger Lists, 1906-1942 at FamilySearch consists of images of the indexes to passenger manifests for the port of New York. The indexes are grouped by shipping line and arranged chronologically by date of arrival. Additional images will be added as they become available.

United States – Ohio – Tax Records

The records included in the Ohio Tax Records, 1800- 1850 at FamilySearch contain both the index and images to taxation records as recorded with the County Auditor of each county. The records in this collection cover the years 1800 to 1850. However, the majority are from the years 1816 through 1838. Entries are recorded in voucher books and one person per page. Included are the following Ohio counties:

  • Ashtabula
  • Belmont
  • Carroll
  • Columbiana
  • Guernsey
  • Harrison
  • Jackson
  • Jefferson
  • Monroe
  • Trumbull
  • Washington
tax records and american slave records

Snapshot of an Ohio Tax Record via FamilySearch.org

Governments created tax records that vary in content according to the purpose of the assessment. Most are based on personal property, real estate, and income. They are particularly useful for placing your ancestor in a particular area year after year, hopefully leading you to other helpful records.

United States – Massachusetts – Revolutionary War Index Cards

FamilySearch has updated the Massachusetts, Revolutionary War, Index Cards to Muster Rolls, 1775-1783 collection this week. These index card abstracts are of accounts, muster and pay rolls, and descriptive lists and accounts, of soldiers who served in Massachusetts companies and regiments during the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783.

Examples of Card Abstract Types

  • An Account -Mass. Archives Depreciation Rolls
  • Company Return – Coat Rolls Eight Months Service
  • Continental Army Pay Accounts – Continental Army Books
  • A Descriptive List – Mass. Muster and Pay Rolls
  • Lexington Alarm Roll – Lexington Alarms
  • List of Men Mustered – Mass. Muster and Pay Rolls
  • List of Men Raised to Serve in the Continental Army
  • Muster and Pay Roll
  • Muster
  • Order for Bounty Coat – Coat Rolls Eight Months Service Order
  • Order – Mass. Muster And Pay Rolls
  • Pay Abstract – Mass. Muster and Pay Rolls
  • Pay Roll
  • Receipt for Bounty – Mass. Muster and Pay Rolls
  • A Return
  • Statement of Continental Balances

Ireland – Newspapers

This month’s enormous Irish Newspapers update at Findmypast contains over 1.2 million articles. Seven brand new titles have also been added including the Leinster Leader, Donegal Independent, Kildare Observer & Eastern Counties Advertiser, Wicklow News-Letter & County Advertiser, Longford Journal Wicklow People, and the Ballyshannon Herald.

Newspapers are a great source for vital information when records cannot be found. To learn more about using newspapers for genealogy research, read Lisa Louise Cooke’s top-notch tips in Everything You Need to Know About How to Find Your History in Newspapers.

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