Monday, January 27, 2014

Why Iowa is Special

Iowa was my home for a while.  I found it fascinating geographically, historically and genealogically.    I enjoyed looking at the fields of soybeans, changing to their golden color in the fall, farm yards with squealing pigs and rolling hills of terraced farming.  Often I would imagine how my ancestors (and yours) saw the land when they first arrived when Iowa was a territory and then a new state.  Unbroken ground ... a new life ... a challenging life.

Having spent so many years in Nebraska, I soon realized that things were a bit different in Iowa when doing research. Some courthouse records are referred to differently and some are the same.  Nebraska's recording of names of parents, including mother's maiden names, does not particularly hold true in Iowa.  You may luck out and find the names!  Naturally the records are older in Iowa than in Nebraska.

One major difference is in the census records.  Those records, although some are not completely extant, begin in 1836.  Iowa took state enumerations every few years, making it very easy to keep track of your Iowa ancestors.  Combine that with the federal census and you have a wonderful profile of your ancestor, including migrations and family additions or deaths.  The last census taken in Iowa was in 1925.  Because of the information contained in that census, it is extremely valuable to researchers. You are lucky if you can identify ancestors or relatives on that enumeration because it lists names of parents, including mother's maiden name, along with place of birth and marriage and ages if living.

These are just some of the items that you can read about in my new book, Iowa Genealogical Research.  The book contains 416 pages and is spiral bound.  It is a great reference book for anybody doing research in Iowa.  There are hundreds of URLs for Internet sites, along with addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers.

This is the link to order the book online,

Friday, January 24, 2014

Iowa Genealogical Research

Today I received the shipment of my new book, Iowa Genealogical Research.  It is long last for sale! The book contains 416 pages, endnotes, and thousands of Internet URLs and is spiral bound.  The chapters are:

Settlement and Statehood
The Mormon Trail and Settlements
Ethnic Settlements
Native Americans
Iowa's Large Repositories and Archives
Courts and Records
Iowa Counties
Census Records
Religious Records
Transportation ... Steamboats and Railroads
City Directories
Orphan Trains
Institutions and Hospitals
Wars and Military Records
Genealogical Societies, Historical Societies and Museums
FamilySearch Centers
Iowa Libraries
USGenWeb, USGenNet and Genealogy Trails
Iowa Publications and Histories
Maps, Research Addresses

There are examples of documents in the book, which enhances the reader's knowledge of records that can be found pertaining to Iowa.  If you are researching in Iowa, this book is a must for your genealogy library.

The book sells for $29.95 plus $5 shipping/handling.  You can order it online at my web page Genealogy Works.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Use the FamilySearch Wiki

Do you remember using an encyclopedia?  If you were lucky, your parents purchased a set to be used at home.  Otherwise, you made a trip to the library.  
FamilySearch Wiki for Pennsylvania

If you didn’t know something or didn’t understand something, you looked it up in an encyclopedia.  Today it is even faster and better and a whole lot cheaper. 

Genealogists should be using the FamilySearch WIKI.  I cannot recommend it enough.  In order to do your research you have to study and learn.  The WIKI gives you abounding information to prepare for your research.  

On the opening page smack dab in the middle you will see a search box.  You can search by place or topic, such as Ohio, military records, probate, chancery court, naturalizations, etc.  As you have learned, not every state or county is alike in their legal system and jurisdictions.  Therefore, after you have read all about probate records in general, go to a state that you are researching in, such as Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania.  
Links to more information

I did just that for Pennsylvania and there are 1,659 wikis for Pennsylvania!  So, I clicked on just Pennsylvania.  Along with key information, unique features, maps, etc. is a listing of key topics and other topics.  Click on probate and now you will learn even more.  Pennsylvania wills have been filed with the “register of wills” in each county, where they are recorded in indexed books.  There is more good information.  I also see that some are available online at  I will need to check that.  Scrolling on down is a link to the Pennsylvania probate record in the online collection of the FamilySearch Historical Records.  Do I need to write a letter to a courthouse or go to Salt Lake City to use microfilm?  Maybe not!  It might be that I’ll find what I need online.  If not, I’m prepared to rent microfilm or write letters. 

Some of the Wiki articles are more informative than others.  For example, there is a Massachusetts Genealogy Guide complete with maps and historical data time line.  Even more interesting information is found in the county guides.  You can click and click your way through information that will make you a better genealogist and insure that you are going to succeed in your research. 

Make a practice of using the FamilySearch Wiki.  It’s a good thing!  

Monday, September 30, 2013

Whoa! Genealogy World

It is a whirlwind with speeds equivalent to a tornado.  Every day there is something new, something changed, something added.  If I miss a day, it's catch up time until my brain is saturated with technology ... more than I ever want to know.  I am somewhat addicted to blogs and Facebook and webinars and podcasts.  Why?  Will my genealogy research and life continue without them?

I have been researching since I was a teenager in high school.  This was proper researching as my mother hired a mentor who had great genealogy knowledge and research skills to instruct me "the right way."  She didn't tell me what to do, she led me in the right direction and allowed me to make my decisions (right or wrong) and evaluate the source, information and evidence, thus reaching a conclusion.  I'm no spring chick ... my 70th birthday is fast approaching.  I've been at this genealogy "stuff" for a long time!

After all these years of research for myself and clients, why should I care about technology and networking?  The primary reason is that if I don't care, my research comes to a halt.  Yes, I'm still researching and will until I can't remember my name.  Of course, that may be soon as I sometimes can only remember what happened to my ancestor in 1849 instead of what I'm doing in 2013.

How much knowledge do we need to do proper genealogical research?  What is proper genealogical research?  That's the division point between the novice and the experienced and professional genealogist.  Are we trying to educate the world?  Maybe!  I have learned early on that I can't get enough genealogical education.  The key to success is how we educate.  My local genealogy society has started a monthly study group.  The topic is anything they wish to discuss with a theme each month.  They are like sponges and I delight in hearing their questions and their comments that they are learning.

HOWEVER, there comes a time that I have to put to practice what I am learning, be it technology, digital imagery, or techniques for retrieving information.  A few years ago while lecturing at a conference, a genealogist told me that she knew what she wanted to do with a particular source, if she just knew where to locate it.  Are we just listening, sharing and relying too heavily on social media and Internet for the answers?  Are we not applying any of the skills we learned from school-days?  If a teacher in high school asked you to find an answer, you did it or at least attempted to do it.  Why are you suddenly mentally blocked when it comes to genealogy?  When is the last time you actually applied what you are learning?  When I lecture I stress to those attending to go home and practice what I preach.

In some respects I envy the beginner who is entering information on a pedigree chart for the first time.  They are seeing their ancestry with "new eyes" for the first time.  How many of us old-timers have actually looked back to the beginning of our pedigree chart in awe?  Each day I try to wean myself from the social aspects of genealogy and the webinars and podcasts and blogs and look at my own ancestry.  There's a lot there, so I mainly review some of my notes with a new outlook and then apply all the new education I have received in this new 21st century world of genealogy.

My genealogy world is spinning, pulling and tugging and I am learning and whirling every day.  Each day I have to say WHOA! and remember why I am doing genealogical research.  That's when I practice what I have learned and continue to learn.  I am sure that if I miss a new database or the latest digital information, my colleagues and genealogy friends will notify me.  That's the blessings of social media.  The true blessing is to actually do genealogical research.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Midwest Family History Expo 2013

For the second year the Family History Expo is returning to Kearney, Nebraska.  This event will be held on September 6th and 7th at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, 110 South Second Avenue in Kearney, NE; phone 308-237-5971.

The Expo is a great place to learn, share and create memories.   This is the 10th Anniversary of the Family History Expo and owner, Holly Hansen, is giving complimentary booths to all Nebraska societies that would like to display fliers and handouts or sell their books.

Keynote speaker James L. Tanner will get everybody excited about locating records and putting their minds to work about genealogy.  He wrote the book The Guide to FamilySearch Online and will also be doing a number of lectures.
James L. Tanner
Keynote Speaker

For those who are anxious to know about Swedish, Scandinavian and German research, professional speakers will guide them through the process.  Some of us will be speaking on United States records.  I will be presenting three lectures per day on military records, doing good research, land records, territorial and state census, Czech ancestry and maps.

As usual, there will be an Ask The Pro area.  It's free ... just bring your questions.  Between classes, you will want to visit the vendors and visit with others about genealogy.

I am looking forward to seeing you at the Family History Expo in Kearney!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Family History Expo Day One

Here I am in Colorado Springs blogging about the Family History Expo.  I will go to the vending area before too long to see if I can help with anything and chat with genealogy friends.  I don't make a presentation until this afternoon.  The topic is Genealogy on a Shoe String Budget.  Now who doesn't like something free!   Everything I talk about in the lecture is FREE or almost free.
Iowa newspaper from
Chronicling America

One of my favorite web pages (free) is Chronicling America at the Library of Congress web site.  Yesterday they added over 600,000 newspaper pages.  First timers are from the states of Iowa, Michigan and West Virginia.  They have made additions to those of Hawaii, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.  Can I skip the Expo and just "play" with the newspapers?  Don't think I had better do that.

At 2 a.m. this morning I was unable to sleep.  That's when I start checking for Dick Eastman's newsletter in my e-mail box.  I think this is becoming a 2 a.m. habit.  If you subscribe, check it out.  One of his posts is about and yes, it's free.  If you love looking for ancestors and relatives in the press, check it out.  They have 1,205,603 individual newspapers and 1,141 titles.  I checked it out at 2:15 a.m. and discovered some interesting news about ancestors.

Maybe between lectures today I could sneak in a quick nap and a quick search of the newspapers.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

State Guides, Records and More

I have discovered a handy web site that provides a lot of links to various sites of genealogical interest.  It's Bobbie's Genealogy Classroom.  The titles of headings are State Guides, The Records and Research Advise.  While some of the links are better than others, the overall quality of the web page is very good.  

Since I research in South Carolina, I was particularly interested in the guide for South Carolina Ancestors.  Not only is there a link to the Family History Library Wiki for South Carolina research, but also a guide to basic genealogy guides for the state and maps.  Who doesn't love maps for their research?  I was impressed with all the links to formation maps, settlement maps, maps of counties and parishes and links to atlases.

Some of the titles under "The Records" are Church Records, Apprenticeship and Indenture Records, Naturalization, Probate Records, Tax Lists and Vital Records.  As an example, the Probate Records contains information about important things to know about probate.  It also has online lesson links for more information and how to locate them.

All genealogists need help and advise.  I was particularly interested in the section on Quaker Ancestors.  There are links to major Quaker record repositories, information on Hinshaw's 6 volume Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy and much more.  If you enjoy using Google, there is a good learning guide to Google Genealogy.

Be sure to link to Bobbie's Genealogy Classroom for great genealogy connections.