Researching to write a family history narrative

Dale Spaulding discovered remarkable stories when he was researching his family for over 30 years. But he got a little worried that these really uniquely American stories were going to be lost to time if he didn’t do something about it. Maybe you have some of those same fears. It was his determination to preserve that family history that was really the driving force behind why he sat down and wrote a book about it. It’s called Fortitude, Preserving 400 years of an American Family’s Faith, Patriotism, Grit, and Determination. (This affiliate link helps support this free content.)

Dale joins me to share how he went about getting started researching his family tree to prepare to write his narrative. He also shares what motivates him to keep on researching. 

Watch the Video

Show Notes

Downloadable ad-free Show Notes handout for Premium Members

What is a Family History Narrative

  • Creative Nonfiction
  • More than Genealogy Names/Dates
  • Stories about your Ancestor’s Lives
  • Begin with Dramatic Event (Leaving the Old Country)
  • Project Entails Exhaustive Research
  • The Why? Legacy to Pass to My Descendants

Getting Started in Research

  • Nail Down the Genealogy Data
  • Caution on Ancestry.com
  • FindaGrave.com
  • Seek Corroborative Record Evidence
  • Meticulous Documentation – Source Notes (Watch Source Citation for Genealogy)
  • Become a Student of History

Research Tips

About Dale Spaulding

Dale R. Spaulding is a lifelong student of history. He’s discovered remarkable stories of his family’s long and rich past during thirty-plus years of research. Concerned that these uniquely American stories would be lost to time, he was determined to preserve them for generations to follow – one of the reasons he authored Fortitude: Preserving 400 Years of an American Family’s Faith, Patriotism, Grit and Determination.

Dale Spaulding, Author of Fortitude

Dale Spaulding, Author of Fortitude

During his career, Dale navigated the oceans and seas of the world in his twenty-two years of service in the U.S. Navy retiring as a Lieutenant Commander. Following the Navy, he was a software quality engineer and technical fellow at The Boeing Company. Dale then served as director of a national church planting organization.

Dale is a graduate of Auburn University and the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Now retired, Dale and his wife Nancy reside in Virginia and they have two sons and four grandchildren. He is passionate about his faith, his family and his country.

Visit Dales website: https://dalespaulding.com

Resources

Downloadable ad-free Show Notes handout for Premium Members

Stay tuned for upcoming videos on Dale’s writing process. 

More Videos & Show Notes:

 

Trove: Australia Digitized Newspapers and More

This free video (below) introduces Trove, The National Library of Australia’s online catalog and digital archive for all things Australian. Trove digital archives genealogy

If you have roots in Australia, I hope you are using Trove. When I first covered it in the Genealogy Gems podcast a while back, it was a fairly new resource and I shared how it is chock full of 76 million digitized newspaper articles. Now that number exceeds 200 million records! The site has expanded its other content, too. If you haven’t looked for your Aussie roots on Trove recently, you’re really missing out!

Trove helps you find and use resources relating to Australia. It’s more than a search engine. Trove brings together content from libraries, museums, archives and other research organisations and gives you tools to explore and build.

Trove is many things: a community, a set of services, an aggregation of metadata, and a growing repository of fulltext digital resources.

Best of all, Trove is yours, created and maintained by the National Library of Australia.

Australian genealogy congress bannerThat’s how the site introduces itself, and it sure lives up to its claim. As shown in the video below, Trove lets you search among “zones” of online content:

  • digitized newspapers; journals, articles and data sets;
  • online and offline books, audiobooks, theses and pamphlets;
  • pictures, photos and objects;
  • music, sound and video files;
  • maps, atlases, charts and globes;
  • diaries, letters and personal papers;
  • archived websites;
  • people and organizations; and
  • a zone for user-created lists.

You can browse these zones individually or search them all with a single click. You can search for just items available online, in Australian-only content, or just in libraries you specify. Creating a free user ID allows you to personalize your experience and participate in online forums. From my U.S. perspective, it would be like having the Library of Congress main website and all its offshoots such as Chronicling America rolled up together with WorldCatArchiveGrid, Internet Archive and its Wayback Machine–but focused entirely on my country.

When it comes to those nearly-200 million newspaper articles, you can search these by keyword or browse by newspaper title, state, date, category (article, ad or list) or tag. Refine search results by place, title, Newspaper Book Covercategory, whether illustrated, decade and even the length of the article. You can even sign up to receive alerts to newly-posted material that matches your search criteria.

Remember, newspaper research in genealogy isn’t just about obituaries or wedding anniversary announcements. It’s about understanding the daily lives of our ancestors, and I share more strategies on uncovering these gems in my book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers (available as an e-book or in print).

Here’s a video from the National Library of Australia with an overview of Trove:

Click here to search newspapers on Trove now.

MORE Australia Genealogy Gems

New Australia Genealogy Records Online

AncestryDNA in Australia and New Zealand

Assisted Immigration: Queensland Passenger Lists

 

 

HeritageQuest Online Gets Better With Ancestry’s Support

HeritageQuest Online improvesHeritageQuest Online is now even more worth the trip to your local library to access for free, now that its new interface is powered by Ancestry.

For the past few months, library patrons have been getting used to a new version of HeritageQuest Online. This online genealogy resource, available only at libraries or through their websites, “has a new interface powered by Ancestry, enriching the search experience and streamlining the research process,” as described by a company press release a few months ago.

“The intuitive interface provides a fresh user experience that will be familiar to Ancestry.com users,” states the release. “A new Image Viewer offers basic and advanced capabilities without any plug-in, making it easy to share images with family and friends. Image resolution…is significantly improved with the addition of greyscale and color. The Research Aids resources for learning opportunities for novice, intermediate, and advanced searchers.”

Other bloggers have commented on the improved user interface, but what caught my eye was a more detailed, mouthwatering description of all the census extras and other new HeritageQuest Online content (from its site):

  • “Now available for searching is the entire U.S. Federal Census collection from Ancestry.com including supplements (e.g., 1940 Enumeration District Maps) and several schedules (e.g., non-population schedules) previously not included for searching.
  • 20,000 city directories have been added to the existing city directories in the Book collection, increasing the size of the Books collection to more than 45,000 titles.
  • Expanded content in the Revolutionary War Collection. The entirety of the NARA Series M804 is now included here, providing access not only to the previously available “Selected Records” (Series M805) but now also to the “Non-Selected” records of each file.”

Finally, four of the six HeritageQuest Online data collections (Census, Books, Revolutionary War, and Freedman’s Bank) have “brand new search pages with limits, exact matching options, and additional fields for searching.”

Resources:

5 Genealogy Resources to Look for at YOUR Public Library

WorldCat for Genealogy: 40 Million Records and Digital Gateway

Premium podcast 125Genealogy Gems Premium members can learn more about using HeritageQuest Online and other fantastic resources in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 125. (Premium membership required: learn more about that here.)

Action-Packed WWII Maps Helped Homefront Families Follow the War

Canada at War by Stanley Turner, 1944. Online at the David Rumsey Map Collection. Click on image for full citation and to access image.

During World War II, millions of people anxiously followed the progress of battles and troop movements that affected their loved ones. Artists and map-makers stepped up to provide colorful, action-packed maps.

Toronto artist Stanley Turner was one of these. He created a series of maps between 1942 and 1945 that were printed and licensed as promotional giveaways to businesses in Canada and the U.S. Today you can find Turner’s maps digitized at the David Rumsey Map Collection.

Stanley wasn’t the only one making these beautiful maps. Read about Richard Eddes Harrison and the big changes in popular cartography during the war in my blog post, “World War II: A Revolution in Map-Making.”

Fast-forward 60 years in time, and the latest revolution in map-making and information-sharing is where? On Google Earth! Google Earth is packed with topography, but also shows us man-made features like roads and bridges, geographic boundaries, historical maps and photographs and so much more. These help us understand things like movements of our ancestors–whether they were troops in World War II or settlers in distant places.

Historic_Maps_VideoWant to learn more about using Google Earth for genealogy (or the Google Earth Pro version that was just released FREE to the public)? Become a Genealogy Gems Premium member. You’ll have access to video classes like these:

  • Time Travel with Google Earth
  • 5 Ways to Enhance Your Research with Old Maps (this class’ retail value alone is $39.95)

Premium Membership is a bargain at only $29.95 for an entire year’s access, plus right now you get the free bonus ebook Lisa Louise Cooke’s 84 Best Tips, Tricks & Tools from Family Tree Magazine. Click here to learn more about Premium Membership.

My Most Amazing Find Ever: Family History on YouTube!

I recently read Lisa Louise Cooke’s 3rd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. I use Google every day and this book has so many helpful new search tips! But I was skeptical about her chapter on finding your family history on YouTube. So skeptical that I immediately opened YouTube to prove her wrong. Can you guess how this ends?

Following one of her tips, I entered an ancestral hometown and state and the word “history.” The fourth search result made my mouth drop open:

This is a 1937 newsreel showing my husband’s great-grandfather, Andrew O’Hotnicky, driving his fire truck with his dog Chief! Though Andrew’s not named, I can prove it’s him. He was the driver at the Olyphant Hose Co #2 during this time. Photos of him match the driver’s face. I have stories and a newspaper clipping about his dog, Chief. A distant relative watched the newsreel and confirmed his identity–and said a young man riding on the side of the truck was Andrew’s son Bill.

My father-in-law buy medication for dogs never knew his grandfather Andrew, who died before he was born. Imagine how thrilled he was to watch that newsreel! I was just as thrilled to find it. I’ve spent years researching Andrew’s family.

Only by following Lisa’s suggestions in the new edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 3rd Edition did I make my best family history find EVER!

The Genealogist's Google Toolbox Third edition Lisa Louise Cooke

Available in the Genealogy Gems Store

My own tip: search YouTube for relatives you already know something about. That way you will recognize them (from pictures or stories) when you see them. A lot of old footage won’t have names with it. I had to know who I was looking at. Once you find something, tag it with your relative’s name. You never know who will connect with you that way (check out the comments section in the above video)!

What can you learn about YOUR family history on YouTube or anywhere in the Google world? Learn how to search widely, deeply and effectively online in The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.

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