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.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Colorado Family History Expo

A fantastic program is planned for the Colorado Family History Expo which will be 2nd and 3rd August 2013 in Colorado Springs.  It will be held at the Hotel Elegante Conference & Event Center, 2886 South Circle Drive.  
Location of Hotel Elegante Conference & Event Center

The expo begins on August 2nd at 1:00 pm with keynote speaker James L. Tanner.  He will share the Top 10 Techniques that you need to locate your ancestors.   This years conference in Colorado Springs will features a track of Scandinavian classes by Ruth Ellen Maness, AG and Kathy Meade.  

Sponsors are FamilySearch, 50 Plus Marketplace News, and Celebrating Family History.  There will be exhibits by RootsMagic, 4 Cats Ink., Family Roots Publishing, Genealogy Presentation and Genealogical Institutes. has partnered with the Family History Expo to prepare each registered attendee a FREE 24"x18", 24"x32" or 24"x36" fan chart with the attendee's personal genealogy.  There is a 10% discount on any order purchased by using the discount code FHE10.  Attendees must pre-order the chart before the event to be delivered at the Expo.  Order by July 30th at  

The Colorado Family History Expo will be a great genealogy event.  I will be one of the presenters and look forward to seeing genealogy friends and making new genealogy friends.  

See 'ya in Colorado!  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Genealogy Discoveries

in front of the Family History Library
Home one week from Salt Lake City and I am still sorting through photocopies and looking at scanned documents.  This will continue for some time.  You don't go to the Family History Library for two weeks and come home empty handed.  It was truly two weeks of discoveries.

What is your attitude when you crank a reel of microfilm?  Are you optimistic or pessimistic?  Even if you do not find anything pertinent on that reel of microfilm, you at least know nothing is in that group of documents.  However, when you begin cranking and see this message, it's difficult to assume anything but that your ancestor's name is going to be under that smeared ink or on a page so faded you cannot begin to read it.  Intermittent?  When wasn't my ancestor intermittent?

After a week of research I requested microfilm from the Vault.  It was soon discovered that the film has been scanned.  It is still not on the digital images of FamilySearch ... perhaps soon.  I am glad I went ahead and ordered the film.

Another discovery was that new books are frequenting the shelves on the Third Floor which now contains all United States books.  Yes, some are being digitized, but it was exciting to locate new books.  The Canadian books have been removed to the Main Floor which also contains what remains of the family histories/genealogies.  The other floors remain much the same as they have been in years past.

I am told that patronage of the library is down because people "think" everything is online.  Get a clue!!  Not everything is in the Family History Library and NOT everything is on Internet.  There were noticeably less people using the library than in others years I have been there.  Also noticeable was the cut back in hours on Saturdays.  I heard a few complaints about it not opening until 9 am on Saturday mornings.  Do you remember when the library was open at 7:30 am and closed at 10 pm?  Those were the days!!  The days of putting tooth picks in your eyes to stay awake until the last minute.

As usual it is fun to visit with people waiting to be first in line at the front door each morning.  That's a great place to share information.  One morning I was visiting with a young man about a Minnesota death certificate that arrived at my house after I arrived at Salt Lake City.  My daughter called and attempted to read it to me.  She proclaimed that the man's father had an unusual name that looked that Don or Doun.  Her daughter looked at the document and quickly told me that man's parents were both of the same name ... Don't Know.  It happens!  No place of birth other than Austria left me rather clueless as to where to look.  The young man waiting to get into the library laughed at my story and then recommended that I visit the web page, Dalby Database.

The Dalby Database is a great place to look for Minnesota records, such as marriages, cemeteries, city directories, birth records, newspaper information, church records, obituaries and histories.  In 1981 after suffering a heart attack, John Dalby of Faribault, Minnesota, not able to return to work, started doing genealogical research, walking cemeteries, indexing books and all that stuff genealogists desire.  His information is now online in magnificent databases.  Nope ... still no clue about Mr. and Mrs. Don't Know.

Truly genealogy is a daily discovery for me.  I don't have to be in the Family History Library (but that would be nice).  I can do genealogy at home, in other libraries, courthouses, graveyards  ... well, you get the idea.  I hope you are making genealogy discoveries today.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Learning in Salt Lake City

Today is my third day in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  I am having good luck and a great time.  Pacing myself because I am here for two weeks.

It's a great place to learn about genealogy and history.  What a thrill to find Grandpa Cogburn on the 1825 Tax List of Washington Co., Georgia.  He was on a brief listing of Departees.  I knew that sometime between 1820 and 1830 he had moved to Talbot Co., Georgia.  He was not on the 1826 Tax List for Washington Co., Georgia, so appears he moved in 1825.

The library is fairly quiet, nothing like in October when so many tour groups are in the library.  No long lines in front of the library each morning.  They have moved the Canadian books to the Main Floor.

More to do tomorrow and I am hoping for more Genealogy Good Luck!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

American States Ancestry

If you have ever wished to have a comprehensive web page, American States Ancestry web page certainly comes close to providing your wish.  It is a listing of "mostly" free US Ancestry-Genealogy Resources.  Once you wade through some of the advertisements, you will soon discover state website information and links.

Some of the links by state include the USGenWeb Project, Genealogy Trails History Group, Trails to the Past, American History and Genealogy Project and the American Local History Network.  There are also a number of links that are not connected with those projects.  The content varies, such as cemetery records, vital records, military records, message boards, surnames and more.

Be sure you check out the Google Command Operators for improving your search results.  If you are doing foreign research, look at the links that will help you, such as Wales, Germany, etc.

One thing I did not find is a link to the databases on  But, we all know how easy that is to locate on Internet!  There are enough interesting links to click on, you should stay busy for a while.
Just add it to your list of favorites to keep in mind while doing genealogical research.