Saturday, April 28, 2007

New views - new tools

There were several new resources published on the web recently...

Pedigree Resource File - Pedigree View

The LDS Church has made a needed update to the Pedigree Resource Files viewed on FamilySearch. As you recall, the Pedigree Resource Files replaced the older Ancestral File program. Unfortunately, even though the data in these files was easy to find on FamilySearch, you had to 'climb' the related family tree by clicking on the parents name, on
e at at time.. On Tuesday, 13 March, the church announced that they have now added a pedigree view for these records, so you can now see the associated pedigree for anyone in that specific file. The names are all hot linked, so you can click on them directly rather than having to click, click, click up and back to navigate the data.

See the announcement on the church's website.

Indentured Immigrant Servant Database

A commercial research site has added an index of indentured servants who came to America. I can't tell how complete the data is, but it is a great resource. Visit the Immigrant Servants site to search for your family. Look at the bottom of the search results screen for m
ore info on your 'hits'. Be aware that any additional information will only be supplied by the company who hosts the site on a fee basis.

Female Ancestors - Dating Photos by Clothing Styles

Do you have old family photos but don't have any idea what year they were taken? Here are three articles on the Family Tree Magazine website that will help you date them by looking at the style of the dresses worn in your photos...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Find-a-grave and other fun

A tale ... a cemetery tale...

There is a wonderful way to do cemetery research for your own family and repay others who kindly help you in that quest...

If you haven't visited find-a-grave yet, do so. See if you can find a burial listing and maybe even a headstone photo of
your ancestors / family.... Find-a-grave has been around for about 8 years and its popularity is increasing by leaps and bounds... Contributors take photos of headstones in the cemeteries they visit and post the information on the find-a-grave website to help other researchers. They also post cemetery records even if they don't have photos of the graves / headstones. (Free)

Why would anyone want to take the time make this effort? It all boils down to the need to share your time and efforts by helping others if you expect to get any help back .... and that help is almost always greater than your down payment....

I've made postings to the Find-a-grave site for over 6 years. Until recently, I had never made a request for anyone to take photos of headstones in cemeteries that I'll probably never visit. I posted requests for 10 headstone photos in northern California a few weeks ago, and kind volunteers have taken the photos for me. They are now posted both on the Find-a-grave site and on my own website (with permission). Now anyone else can find these headstones with a simple search... The photos mean a lot to me because I've spent considerable time finding and documenting my family in the Calaveras area of California... The headstone photos are helping me put the final touches on their unique and interesting life histories...

If you haven't taken your kids to a cemetery for a picnic lunch and story telling expedition while locating the graves of your family, do it. You'll be happy you did... We have taken our children and now grandchildren to the graves of our family since they were wee tots. The outings are always enjoyable and memorable. Our children have repeatedly told us that some of their favorite memories are of eating their favorite brand of cookies (anyone remember our favorite cookies... HeyDays that you can't buy any longer? Our kids certainly remember these 'cemetery' cookies..) and drinking sodas under the shade of the big tree by the graves. They loved the stories I told them .... stories of the buried Indian baby rescued by their gggreat grandfather... of his interaction with Indians whose pack saddles were full of gold as they returned from their secret mines, etc....

The tradition continues with our grandchildren.... I think your families will enjoy cemetery 'picnics' too...

Here is an example of a headstone photo that I just received from a Find-a-grave volunteer.... showing the headstone of a great grandaunt with whom I have a special affinity even though she died long before I was born...

Bottom line... here's a great way to have fun with your family, do some research on your family and 'pay forward' the help you have received and will receive from others in your own ancestral quest.... So, remember to pack a camera, notebook and pen when you start making your own 'memory excursions' to cemeteries...

PS ... A hint to Mothers ... kids running through a cemeteries will burn more energy off than you'd imagine, so only take them when you want a little peace and quiet for an hour or two afterward..... And ... Remember to leave the cemetery as clean or cleaner than you found it...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tools and Digital Newspapers

Here are a few tools and sites that I've found to be extremely useful.

If you haven't previously downloaded the free 'Family Searcher' program, try it.
I think you'll like this tool written by Kevin Owen. The screen is split top and bottom... the top half will look at a GEDCOM file of your choice on your computer and the bottom half of the screen shows IGI page on Family Search. It is a great tool if you decide to save your file as a GEDCOM or are checking out IGI information on a GEDCOM file given to you by someone else.

And, while we are talking about split screens, remember to download the Free Transcript 2.1 program that I've mentioned earlier.
You'll love this tool when you start transcribing Census Records, Birth / Marriage / etc. certificates.

Here's a great site for old Utah / Idaho newspapers, photos, old books, etc. Digital Collections. I've found a ton of info on my families here including letters to editors, histories, photos, etc. Free access...

And while talking about digital historic newspapers, many of the old newspapers that were printed in Utah are found on the Utah Digital Newspapers site.

Do you have family who came to America from 1830 - 1892? Odds are they went through Castle Garden which was the immigrant processing facility before Ellis Island.

The BYU Family History Resources web site offers a ton of information, but most of it is only accessible through a BYU library card / student card. However, there are links to some good info here that don't require a card..

And lastly, click here to see my genealogy links page....

Weblinks - Sources and Danish Census

Here are the family history website links for the day.

Source examples from Legacy Family Tree

Search Engines: In my experience, both AltaVista and Clusty seem to find the most relevant family history links.

While you are looking for Primary Sources in England, be sure to check out FreeBMD.... Birth / Marriage / Death - England

Danish ancestry? Look here for free access to Danish Census records. They have helped me find many of my Danish ancestors...

If you don't read Danish, then try these two links (part of the above site, but you won't have to hunt for them in a language you can't read).... and

When searching for your ancestors in non-English speaking countries, you may not be able to read the language. However, there are many 'key' words used in family history research... i.e... Mother, Father, Uncle, Aunt, etc... To find the translation of English words to other languages, go to AltaVista and click on the Babel Fish Translation link below the search field. Put your word in the field on the new page and then choose which language translation you want from the drop down list and hit the 'Translate' button. Write down the key words on a 'cheat sheet' .... you'll use them in the future whenever you perform another search in the foreign language or read records that you find... The translations aren't perfect, but will serve your research efforts in most cases...

And lastly, Steve Morse has one of the best genealogical portal pages on the web. Take a look at the various sites he has either written or links to on his site....

Death Certificates on line

Several states have death certificates on line with no associated cost. Check them out if you have family / ancestors who died in the range of years covered by the certificates. Note that many states have birth / marriage and death indexes for free too....

I've printed death certificates from U.S. State websites for a year or more and have saved thousands of dollars by not needing to order an 'official' certificate from the state(s). Typically the images will need to be resized and cropped to fit an 8 1/2 x 11" sheet of paper.

If you don't already have graphics editing software on your PC, Faststone Image Viewer is a FREE application. I use it all of the time even though I have the pro version of Adobe Photoshop. Get your copy while it is still free. (no strings attached .. including no ads, etc.) *Just remember that the menus in Faststone are found by pointing your mouse at the top / bottom and sides of your screen*

A birth or death certificate is a primary source for your family history records, so take a few minutes and find the certificates that relate to your family and print them at home. They typically cost $14 to $60 when ordered from the state archives. (Remember these are 'primary' sources -- you want a copy for your family history source files).

Here are the states that currently have free on line certificates:

Births 1887 - 1930
Deaths 1878 - 1955

Deaths 1910 - 1956

Deaths 1904 - 1954

West Virgina
Birth ... Range of years - check the site
Marriage ... Range of years - check the site
Death ... Range of years - check the site

Additionally, many states have death indexes on line at no cost. See this site for the related links by state:

While some of the states require payment (typically a subscription to, you can avoid this cost by checking for other free sites that contain the data. I'll post links to some of them in future posts..

Be sure to also check the free family history vital records available on RootsWeb and the huge number of cemetery inscriptions and other family history resources available on USGenweb.

The Internet is now bringing huge libraries of family history related information to our homes. Take advantage of these resources and save your research travel expenses for that special family history vacation that you never thought would happen.