Friday, May 11, 2007

Family History TV on your computer


Did you know that you can watch TV on your computer? Many commercial programs provide full shows on their sites, but my favorite WebTV site is RootsTV. Based here in Utah, the programming is created by family history researchers from around the world. When I last counted, there were 23 separate family history channels on this site. Turn the sound up and stroll through the site. Click on the graphics on the right side of your screen to choose the channels.

I can safely guarantee that you'll find programs of interest on RootsTV. If your connection speed is slow, just click on the play button and when the progress bar has partially filled, point to the bar and slide the button back to the beginning. I'm watching the Ancestors TV series as I write this note. Take time to throughly explore the site. There are fascinating stores buried all over the site. If you can't sit to watch a full program, start it running and listen while you work...

Old Photos

If you are like me, you have a ton of old photos that you've: 1. Inherited through the years 2. Found at garage sales or antique shops or 3. Rescued from your grandparents attic / basement, etc. after their death. The old photos are like GOLD -- IF you know the names of the folks in the photos. Unfortunately, most of the time, no one wrote names on the back of these old photos. (We all know that you always write names and dates on the photos you take ... right?) How do you find out who these folks are? Ask surviving 'old' family members as a starting place. If you don't have success there then you may want to....

* Scan the photos and post them on Dead Fred under the 'Mysteries' section. Folks who visit the site may recognize the people in your photos and will post their identities. Be sure to post all the knowledge you have about the photo to help narrow down the possibilities.

* While visiting Fred, troll through the surname section and see if someone has posted photos of any of your ancestors / relatives. I found several of my extended cousins photos there a while ago and knew some of their living descendants. When I alerted them to the photos, they called me 'Santa'. They thought all photos of their ancestors had been destroyed. Good Stuff!

Photos in general

We all take a lot of photos in the course of a year. This year, remember to take photos of old family homes, headstones, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Get in the practice of taking your camera with you to family events, on Memorial Day visits, etc. You'll be happy you did. Once you have the photos, scan them if they are on paper. Link your digital images to people and events in your genealogy database and your reports will look even better.

Homesteading and BLM Lands

Did your ancestor(s) homestead or obtain land in the west from the Federal Government? Take a look at the BLM Land Office Records site. In many cases, the original documents is posted for land patents. If not, the legal description of the property is shown.

I've found many pieces of property that were obtained by my great grandfathers. I was surprised to find that my great grandmother obtained several mineral properties after my great grandfather had died! Who knew? Here's one of the pages showing properties my great grandparents obtained in California. This information has helped me add additional story patterns in their life stories...

* Click on the "Search Land Patents" link on the green bar to start your search...

Veteran's Gravesites

Do you have family members who served in the U. S. Military? They and their families may have been buried in Veteran's Cemeteries. Two years ago, I found one of my long, lost great uncles buried in the veterans cemetery near San Francisco. Last year, the records for an other family members were posted from a cemetery near Seattle.

* To see if your ancestors / family are listed on the site, click here...

Parishes in England

Are you looking for the name of parishes and church buildings in England? If you had ancestors in England the answer is YES. The free Parish Locator program is extremely useful in finding parishes in the UK. In addition to this program, you can find parishes on the web. As an exercise, try finding one of your ancestors using these steps..

* First look on the GENUKI Church Database site. Just type in the name of the town / parish and choose the county. Hit 'Search' and the list will appear. If there were multiple places with the same or similar name, you'll need to click on the down arrow and choose the location you want to get the listings.

* Next, go to the Family History Library Catalog and find the film number for the birth, marriages, deaths in that parish / church. Order the films and search for your ancestor(s) record(s).

Hopefully, you'll find something new. Maybe even a 'new' ancestor.