Friday, October 29, 2010

Celebrate Family History in the Coming Holiday Season

Are you wondering what you can give to a family historian who has everything? Hoping to share your excitement about genealogy with family members? FamilySearch may have just come up with the answer. It's one that won't break your budget. This week the organization announced the availability of two new DVDs that will be of interest to genealogists of all experience levels. I must admit that I have not seen the finished products, but I was privileged to have been present for the two live events that were captured for these DVDs. They were recorded at the National Genealogical Society Annual Conference in April in Salt Lake City. I was particularly impressed by "A Celebration of Family History". I will admit that I was part of the "positive response" mentioned in the promo on the linked webpage.  I sought out a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for the conference and suggested that an opportunity would be lost if a DVD of the event was not made available. My order for both disks is already in the mail. If you can only afford one, I would suggest Celebration which is appealing on many levels. However, at the price of under $5 each, both are a steal! 

French Family History Records Free This Weekend

Dick Eastman passed along an announcement that may be useful to many of you in his Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. The item is titled "Millions of French Family History Records Free This All Saints Day Weekend on" For details follow the link above to Dick's post from last night.

National Archives and Change

Last Friday I blogged about a new online ordering process for documents being implemented by the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Is that just the tip of the iceberg of change underway?  Dick Eastman in a recent post in his newsletter referred to NARA's reputation as "an agency that has long been known for changing slowly, if ever." David Ferriero, the relatively new Archivist has characterized himself as "Collector in Chief" and taken a number of other steps to update the stodgy image of the agency he heads.

AOTUS: Collector in Chief

Check out his blog post, "Open to change," this week and see what he has in mind. What do you thing of the proposals he makes? He ends his post:
"I am calling on all of you to be champions of change as we move forward. Staff, researchers, and citizen archivists will need to be flexible and forward looking, open to the challenges, and ready to participate.
Are you in?"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

1852 California State Census on has announced the availability of the 1852 California State Census for its U.S. Deluxe and World Deluxe Members. It is also available in the Ancestry Library edition at about 2,000 locations. If you have ancestors who came to California in the Gold Rush or were already there, this may give you a chance to document their presence. Although the 1849 California constitution directed a census to be taken in 1852, in 1855, and every 10 years after that, the 1852 census was the only one that was completed. 

Ancestry's announcement explains the importance and limitations of this enumeration:
"The gold rush would bring about 300,000 people to California between 1848 and 1854. The 1850 U.S. Federal Census tallied California’s population at 92,597. The 1852 California state census count came in at 260,949 (neither census would include the entire Native American population). Not only did the 1852 census provide a record of an additional 150,000 people, but records from three counties from the 1850 census - Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Santa Clara - have since been lost or destroyed. In addition, the accuracy of the 1850 census was called into some question because of the rapid growth and mobility of the population at the time as miners poured into the state. Three counties are missing from the 1852 census records: Colusa, Sutter, and Marin. Also, the images for Butte County are included, but due to the condition of the images no names were able to be captured from them.

For the most part state censuses were taken in years ending in "5" so they would fall halfway in between the federal censuses. Sometimes they asked for information that the national enumerations never asked. A couple of examples sometimes included were how long have you lived in this community and in this state. Ancestry also has one or more state census for the following states: 

Friday, October 22, 2010

US National Archives Ordering Process Goes Digital

The process for ordering documents from the US National Archives has now gone digital. According to a mailer distributed by the National Archives Trust Fund Board, you can now "order online at and get your digitized National Archives records faster and at no extra cost!" Of course as with most thing the devil is in the details. The statement quoted above is limited by "Some exclusions apply."

However, this appears to be a significant step in the direction of faster service to the genealogy community. The mailer you can:

Enjoy the convenience of ordering Nation Archives documents online. Pay the same as you do for paper copies and get your digitized documents faster!" (again some exclusions apply) "Digitized records of most interest to genealogists include--
* Immigration and Naturalization Records
* Land Files
* Military Service and Pension Records
* Court Records
* World War I Draft Registration Cards
* Native American Records
* Census Pages"
You are invited to call 800-234-8861 for details if you do not find what you want to know on the order page.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Footnote and Ancestry

Four weeks ago Dr D reported that there had been agreement for Ancestry to acquire iArchive along with its flagship database Footnote.comThis morning came a notice that the deal officially was completed today. As you may know there has been speculation among the genealogy community as to whether Footnote would continue to operate independently or would be absorbed into Ancestry. As of today the former option is being pursued.

The following is extracted from an email sent to current Footnote customers: 
"The plan is to continue to run the way we have always run" 
"It has been exciting to see grow over the past 4 years. started with only 5 million historical documents and today we have nearly 70 million searchable documents, over 1 million members, nearly 100,000 Footnote Pages, and over half million annotations added." 

So, at least for now, it looks like both will continue to operate as they had been operating. Will it continue? Is this a model of how other acquisitions such as Genline will be managed? Stay tuned for the rest of the story in future months.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Search Ancestry a New Way

The blog has announced a new way to search that tries to collect the ten most likely "hits" for a person for whom you are searching. Your search can be modified on the fly and you can link to related individuals as you go. After you get used to it I think you will like it. It is still being tweaked at this time and feedback is being solicited. Try it out soon and get your chance to help refine this very powerful tool before it goes prime time.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Maps of Missouri

The University of Missouri Libraries are developing a great resource for genealogists and other researchers. Among other images in its Digital Library are great collections of maps. I will mention only two of these in this post.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Company published detailed maps of cities and towns to enable insurance companies to assess risk. These are great for finding buildings during the last half of the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century. If your Missouri ancestors lived in one of the almost 400 towns covered by this series, you may be able to find them in one or more of these maps.

If on the other hand, your ancestor lived on a farm, you will want to check out the Plat Book collection that covers almost all the entire state of Missouri.These were published in 1930 so the locations shown were ownership of land prior to that time.

These are just two collections contained in this impressive Digital Library. You also will want to explore the other treasures that can be found here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Huntington's Early California Population Project

Thank you to Martha Graham for her tip about this site:

"The Early California Population Project (ECPP) provides public access to all the information contained in California's historic mission registers, records that are of unique and vital importance to the study of California, the American Southwest, and colonial America.

Within the baptism, marriage, and burial records of each of the California missions sits an extraordinary wealth of unique information on the Indians, soldiers, and settlers of Alta California from 1769 - 1850."

While the site is very data rich if you are researching early California ancestors, it is difficult to navigate. The site is free but does require registration. This cooperative project is made possible through major grants from:

The John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation
Additional support was provided by:

The Dan Murphy Foundation
Giles W. & Elise G. Mead Foundation
USC / Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Family Bible Index

To many, Family Bibles are considered the Holy Grail of genealogy research. For those few lucky researchers who are able to find one, these can be a very thrilling and useful discovery. 

"Index to Early Bible Records" currently lists over 6,000 Bibles that have been placed online from a variety of locations or are available from the Family History Library or the DAR Library.

Bible records are not always the "Gospel" truth when it comes to family information. It must be evaluated with the same scrutiny as any other source of information. The first thing to check is the copyright date of the Bible. If it is later than some of the information included in it, then even a "Bible record" is NOT a primary source. Those events were not recorded at the time or near the time of the events it lists. It is a good sign if the entries appear to have been made with different pens. That is one indication that events were recorded at different times--hopefully as each event occurred. With those caveats in mind, explore this Index, and good luck in finding one for your family.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

FamilySearch Announces A Substantial Update

The following is the beginning of a press release from FamilySearch last week:

At the end of last week we released another substantial update to the FamilySearch Beta website. In addition to the four major updates outlined below, we’ve made a large number of improvements under the hood that aren’t really visible to users of the site but make a big difference in the overall performance and function of the site. Here’s the quick list of updates.
  •    Redesigned Home Page
  •    Brand New – Getting Started Section
  •    Redesigned Learning Resources including online Research Courses
  •    Just Released - FamilySearch Center Section

Friday, October 8, 2010

Minnesota Marriage Index

A new Minnesota Official Marriage System (MOMS) is now making good headway. Although it is described as a work in progress, it seems to be well on its way to completion. It is intended to be a state wide index that is the front end for online ordering of the marriage certificates. The index seems to be flexible and in itself contains much genealogical information.  My own quick exploration was limited to Hennepin and Nicollet Counties. Based on the several searches I conducted it appears the coverage extends forward in time until it overlaps with the Minnesota Marriage Collection, 1958-2001 already online at I also found some records from the last quarter of the 19th Century. A more compete description of the project has been prepared by Park Books and can be found at "Minnesota Marriages Records"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Free Genealogy Software

Today in the Plus edition of his daily genealogy newsletter, Dick Eastman did his annual update of his favorite free genealogical toys. Topping the list is his favorite free genealogy software. For Windows users they were "RootsMagic Essentials (, click on “RootsMagic Essentials”) and Legacy Family Tree 7.4 (" Dick can't decide which one he likes best. "They are both great programs but are quite different from each other." He continues, "I am amazed that these companies produce such good software free of charge. You might want to upgrade someday to the paid versions but many people never will." I should clarify that if you want to download the free version of Legacy you need to chose the "Standard" edition.

Dr D is a Windows kind of guy and uses the full version of RootsMagic as his software. He also has the full version of Legacy on his computer but never could find enough of interest to bother to switch to it for daily use.

For those of you who are of the Mac persuasion, Dick only has one recommendation. "The only free Macintosh genealogy program I would consider is Personal Ancestry Writer II (often called PAW2U).... However, it does not contain all the advanced features of the free Windows genealogy programs, such as RootsMagic Essentials and Legacy Family Tree 7.0. Personal Ancestry Writer II is available at"

To read about the rest of Dick's "My 65 Favorite Free Applications, Webapps, and Software Tools for Windows and Macintosh" you need a subscription to the "Plus" edition of his newsletter. The basic edition is delivered daily to your email box free of charge.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Irish Records Now Online

County records are coming online in Ireland every two or three months. County Limerick is the most recent to join this effort. Today the Irish Family History Foundation's Online Research Service (ORS) announced "the availability of an additional 100,000 birth, death, marriage and census records from Limerick Genealogy covering the parishes and districts of County Limerick."

Thus County Limerick joins most of the rest of Ireland in this project. In order to see if the county in which you have an interest has provided online access to its records, check out the
 interactive map. These records are made available on a pay as you go system where you can pay with your credit card to be able to download records. You can search for free but a nominal amount will be deducted from your deposit if you view the actual record and download it. It is similar to contacting a vital records office here and paying a small fee to get a copy of the record except the entire transaction is online.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"More Moores" My Fantastic Find

My "Show and Tell" later today at the San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society will be about more MOORES I found in August. This will be during a segment of the program reserved for members to share a recent "fantastic find".

I have long known that my paternal great-grandmother's parents were Andrew Jackson and Nancy (RICHARDSON) MOORE. However, trips to the courthouse and library in the county in which I believed them to have died did not disclose when exactly they died or in fact whether or not they actually died there. I knew they were in the 1880 Census and not in the one taken in 1900.

In August I was surfing in I was curious about whether researchers who posted family pictures there tended to give credit to those who were the source of those pictures. I knew that pictures I had posted on password protected sites, available only to family members, had subsequently shown up on Ancestry. I was pleased to discover that cousins do tend to acknowledge the source of the pictures they post. In the midst of my exploration, I made a serendipitous fantastic find. At first it was thumbnail size and I mistook it for a picture that had been give to me by a cousin several years ago; but when I enlarged it I realized it was a different picture taken the same day. [Click on the photos to see the entire picture in a new window.]

This picture had been posted on Ancestry by Kathy Reedy who I have since discovered is a second cousin-once removed. Her picture included only the men of the family--A. J. MOORE and all his sons. The picture I had received years before included Nancy and two of their three daughters as well:

I have always loved this picture for a variety of reasons. First of course because it included two of my great-great grandparents. I also have a fondness for it for some of the detail. Douglas MORSE, the second cousin who originally gave me the picture was fascinated by the mechanical wheelchair which seems advanced for the time--probably around 1890. In addition someone had forced all the men to take off their hats for the photograph. Note that several of them are stacked on the ledge in the upper right of the picture. But Papa would not part with his hat. Notice that he is holding his in both photos. And then there is the mischievous little girl who sneaked into the picture by climbing onto the ledge near where the hats were stacked.

After finding the photograph of the MOORE men in Kathy's tree, I was able to find a picture of the tombstone of A.J. and Nancy on Find A Grave. Now I knew where and when they died and it was right in the area in which I had been looking for years. They are not even listed in the tombstone list that had been done for their cemetery. I was also able to contact a fourth cousin who also descends from this couple and find the cemetery where A.J.'s parents were buried in another part of Missouri.

Through my newly found cousins I have found other old photos including one that included my great-grandmother along with her two sisters when they were much younger than in the above picture. I have also found pedigrees that extend both A.J.'s paternal and maternal lines back many generations. It will take me many years to verify some of these lines but I now have a treasure map to guide my search.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Comments to Posts on this Blog

Thank you "Anonymous" for your supportive post. It is always reassuring to find that Elizabeth Shown Mills agrees with one's position. However, in reading your comment, I realized something about the capability or lack of capability of this blog. URLs listed in comments apparently cannot be made clickable.  Elizabeth's original 2005 post "Re: Kissing Cousins", can be linked in an original post but not in a comment about a post. That's unfortunate. It is also unfortunate that readers don't even see comments unless they read the fine print at the end of posts and see the "Comments" button there. If you are interested in following the links listed in the comment posted yesterday by Anonymous, the easiest way would be to follow the link to Ms. Mills' post and  then click on the links therein. Some of them may not pertain directly to "half-cousin" as content on some of the sites has changed over the five intervening years.

Comments are always welcome to posts on this site.