Saturday, June 9, 2007

Irish Research Class in San Diego

There will be a class on "How to Start Your Ancestral Research in Ireland" on Wednesday, June 13, 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM at the San Diego Family History Center (4195 Camino del Rio South in Mission Valley) in the FHC Classroom. Mary Russell, the BIGRA Irish Chair will guide attendees through the basic steps of beginning Irish research. Mary is the recognized "expert" on Irish research in San Diego County.

No sign up is necessary. There is no fee for the class. Handouts will be available for 10 cents per page. The new "Irish Resource List" will be available at cost.

I am really disappointed that I don't have any known Irish ancestry. While it is difficult research, I know I would love to go visit Ireland, find Irish cousins, and generally have a good time there (and at Irish pubs in the US too!). I guess some people just have to carry burdens like this...maybe I could adopt someone's Irish ancestors?

I'm thinking of going to the class if I don't have jury duty.

Reports from the SCGS Jamboree

The Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank (CA) is in full swing - it started Friday afternoon and goes through Sunday afternoon.

I am not there, unfortunately. I thought we would have my daughter and grandsons visiting this weekend, but they are not. So I will go off to the FHC at 10 AM for more image capturing and then to the SDGS meeting at noon.

1) Steve Danko is at the Jamboree, and he is posting reports from the conference. His first report is at He summarizes the talks:

* "State and Territorial Censuses and Substitutes" by Bill Dollarhide.
* "Reverse Genealogy - Finding Your Lost Loved Ones" by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak.
* "Bring 'em Back to Life - Creating an Ancestor Profile" by Drew Smith.

I especially wanted to hear Megan's talk, since I am involved in something similar with the John Robinson Hall research.

Steve has posted his summaries from the second day at the SCGS Jamboree at He attended:

* "Effective Society Management" panel discussion with Drew Smith, Jana Broglin, and Cath Trindle.
* "Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins" with Lou Szucs
* "2007 Update on the Use of DNA in Tracing Your Ancestry" with Bennett Greenspan of FamilyTree DNA
* "Hanging Y-Chromosome Data on Your Family Tree" with Diahan Southard of Relative Genetics
* "Genealogy Resources in the California History Room" (in Sacramento) with Catherine Hanson Tracy
* "The California Gold Rush" - with Chuck Knuthson.
* "Footnote Update" with Beau Sharbrough of

Steve had a busy day!

I have never been to the California Room at the California State Library in Sacramento, but I've been to the Sutro Library (part of the CSL) in San Francisco several times, although not recently. The Sacramento library might be a good place to go sometime.

Steve has written five posts to cover the Sunday presentations he attended.

* The first post is at and describes Schelly's lecture on "Creating Hope."

* The second post is at and describes Drew Smith's presentation on
"What's My Next Step? - The Organized Genealogist."

* The third post is at and describes Leland Meitzler's presentation on "Finding the Women in Your Pedigree." There is a list of 23 sources, which Steve lists in his post. Go read it!

* The fourth post is at and describes Suzanne Russo Adams presentation on "Getting the Most from" This is a fine summary!
* The fifth post is iat and describes the panel discussion on "Publishing Your Family History" with Tom Underhill, Loretto Dennis Szucs and Jim McNamara. There are many good questions and interesting answers here!

2) Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak has blogged about her time at SCGS Jamboree at

3) Susan A. Kitchens described her experiences at the Jamboree at
Susan worked in the vendor area and has some interesting comments.

4) Leland Meitzler posted about his fun at the Jamboree at He was gone so long from blogging that I was concerned that something had happened to him.

Drew Smith podcasted about his experiences at the Jamboree - you can listen to his GenealogyGuys podcast at I listened to most of this the other night and it was great.

Thank you to all of you - good material and interesting discussion. Any others? Let me know!

UPDATED 16 June 8:30 PM.

Friday, June 8, 2007

New Content on GenealogyBank

I got a press release from Tom Kemp of He sent this list of new content in May 2007: 43 newspaper titles from 25 States:

State ----- City -------- Title ---------- Dates ------------------ Collection

** AZ -- Flagstaff -- Arizona Daily Sun - 5/1/2005 to current -- America's Obituaries
** CA -- San Francisco -- San Francisco Bulletin -- 3/2/1860 to 4/30/1868 -- Historical Newspapers
** CT -- Watertown -- Town Times -- 8/31/2006 to current -- America's Obituaries
** DC -- Washington -- Washington Jewish Week -- 6/21/2005 to current -- America's Obituaries
** FL -- Boca Raton -- Boca Raton News -- 3/2/2006 to current -- America's Obituaries
** FL -- Clermont -- South Lake Press -- 7/13/2005 to current -- America's Obituaries
** FL -- Leesburg -- Daily Commercial -- 12/1/2005 to current -- America's Obituaries
** FL -- Miami -- Miami Herald Record -- 3/7/1919 to 6/4/1922 -- Historical Newspapers
** FL -- Sebring -- News Sun -- 4/14/2005 to current -- America's Obituaries
** GA -- Columbus -- Columbus Daily Enquirer -- 7/9/1913 to 10/14/1913 -- Historical Newspapers
** GA -- Columbus -- Columbus Ledger-Enquirer -- 3/15/1916 to 12/08/1922 -- Historical Newspapers
** GA -- Macon -- Macon Telegraph -- 1/1/1905 to 4/30/1905 -- Historical Newspapers
** ID -- Boise -- Idaho Statesman -- 5/1/1906 to 12/31/1922 -- Historical Newspapers
** IL -- Belleville -- Belleville News Democrat -- 12/11/1918 to 8/17/1922 -- Historical Newspapers
** IL -- Chicago -- Inter Ocean -- 1/4/1886 to 12/31/1890 -- Historical Newspapers
** KY -- Lexington -- Lexington Herald -- 5/1/1921 to 5/31/1921 --Historical Newspapers
** MD -- Baltimore -- Sun -- 12/5/1892 to 10/22/1900-- Historical Newspapers
** MD -- Easton -- Star Democrat-- 11/13/2005 to current -- America's Obituaries
** MI -- Big Rapids -- Pioneer -- 4/2/2007 to current -- America's Obituaries
** MI -- Manistee -- Manistee News Advocate -- 3/1/2007 to current -- America's Obituaries
** MN -- Duluth -- Duluth News-Tribune -- 5/1/1905 to 8/31/1922 -- Historical Newspapers
** MO -- Belton -- Star Herald -- 12/14/2006 to current --America's Obituaries
** MO -- Hannibal -- Hannibal Courier Post -- 12/9/1997 to current -- America's Obituaries
** MO -- Kansas City -- Kansas City Star -- 10/25/1909 to 6/30/1921 -- Historical Newspapers
** MS -- Biloxi -- Daily Herald -- 7/1/1907 to 6/30/1916 -- Historical Newspapers
** NC -- Roxboro -- Courier Times -- 11/22/2006 to current -- America's Obituaries
** ND -- Grand Forks -- Grand Forks Herald -- 9/12/1920 to 11/20/1920 -- Historical Newspapers
** NE -- Omaha -- Omaha World Herald -- 5/1/1893 to 3/31/1900 -- Historical Newspapers
** OR -- Astoria -- Daily Astorian -- 5/28/2002 to current -- America's Obituaries
** OR -- Enterprise -- Wallowa County Chiefton -- 6/13/2002 to current -- America's Obituaries
** OR -- John Day -- Blue Mountain Eagle -- 8/1/2002 to current -- America's Obituaries
** OR -- Pendleton -- East Oregonian -- 7/11/2002 to current -- America's Obituaries
** PA -- Wilkes-Barre -- Wilkes-Barre Times -- 1/17/1913 to 8/31/1922 -- Historical Newspapers
** RI -- Charlestown -- Charlestown Press -- 8/3/2006 to current -- America's Obituaries
** RI -- Hopkinton -- Wood River Press -- 8/3/2006 to current -- America's Obituaries
** SD -- Aberdeen -- Aberdeen American -- 3/27/1915 to 7/16/1915 -- Historical Newspapers
** SD -- Aberdeen -- Aberdeen Daily News -- 2/22/1917 to 7/21/1917 --Historical Newspapers
** TX -- Fort Worth -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram -- 4/1916 to 10/25/1916 -- Historical Newspapers
** WA -- Bellingham -- Bellingham Herald -- /1918 to 2/28/1922 - Historical Newspapers
** WA -- Long Beach -- Chinook Observer -- 8/15/2002 to current -- America's Obituaries
** WA -- Olympia -- Morning Olympian -- 3/11/1914 to 12/31/1922 -- Historical Newspapers
** WA -- Olympia -- Olympia Record -- 12/9/1905 to 12/31/1922 -- Historical Newspapers
** WV -- Berkeley Springs -- Morgan Messenger -- 11/19/2003 to current -- America's Obituaries

Summary Totals - 190,110,154 records

  • Historical Newspapers (1690-1977) Over 1,300 titles; 86 Million articles - updated monthly
  • America's Obituaries (1977-Current) 24.3 Million Obituaries; 883 newspapers - updated daily
  • Historical Books (1801-1900) More than 11,700 items - updated monthly
  • Historical Documents (1789 - 1980) Over 116,000 items; Now digitizing October 1914 - updated monthly
  • SSDI (1937 to Current) 79.6 Million death records. Only site to be updated weekly

Remember, you may search the site for FREE and see a brief record. You do need to subscribe to see the entire page or item.


Randy's comments: Unfortunately, a blog format doesn't lend itself to a table like the above. I did my best to separate the items so that they are readable.

GenealogyBank continues to add content monthly, and may have just the historical book, newspaper or document that you need. I love the idea of searching the site for free and seeing a brief record. You can then judge if a subscription is right for you.

San Diego Gen Society meeting on Saturday

The monthly meeting of the San Diego Genealogical Society is on Saturday, June 9, at 12 noon. The meeting will be at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church 8350 Lake Murray Blvd (at Jackson Drive) in San Diego.

The speaker will be Anne J. Miller. Her topics will be "Overcoming Obstacles to Finding Your Ancestors" and "Less Commonly Used Resources."

The program description is:

"Our problem-solving styles and our assumptions, thoughts, and beliefs often make it difficult for us to find our ancestors. While these factors can have a negative impact on our research, recognizing them and learning how to overcome them will result in solving more of those brick wall situations and being more successful in our research.

"Solutions to brick wall situations are often found by using one or more of the less commonly used resources in genealogy. Learning what these resources are, where they are found, and what types of information might be found in them, along with real-life examples, will help us to find more of our ancestors.

"Anne J. Miller began her genealogical quest 19 years ago. She is particularly interested in combining historical resources with genealogical resources to provide a more comprehensive understanding of people and their lives. The focus of her historical research is primarily Southern California.

"She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists as well as national and local genealogical and historical societies. She teaches for the Temecula Valley Genealogical Society and volunteers at the Murrieta FHC. She is a licensed psychologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona."

SDGS programs have two program segments, separated by a snack time, program announcements, and an opportunity drawing. Peter Steelquist does a great job of leading SDGS and editing their newsletter.

I'm looking forward to hearing Anne's talk. I encourage all San Diego genealogy researchers to attend SDGS meetings and join the society.

Microfilm Scanning at the FHC

My post on "Heard at the FHC Today" elicited several comments inquiring about putting microfilm images on a thumb drive. I posted about this last year when I struggled to figure it out, but I will describe the process below because it has been improved.

At the San Diego FHC in Mission Valley, the microfilm reader/printers failed last summer from use and abuse. Rather than repair them again, or replace them, the FHC invested in two microfilm/microfiche reader/scanners hooked up to Windows computers. I haven't been to other FHCs or the FHL recently, but my guess is that many centers have a similar setup.

The process for capturing an image from a microfilm and putting it in your computer is (assuming the machines are turned on):

1) Load the microfilm or microfiche into the microfilm reader/scanner machine and advance the film to the image(s) you want to capture. You may have to select 16 mm or 35 mm on a dial on the takeup reel.

2) Adjust the image to fit the page margins. There is a rotational dial, a magnification dial and a focus dial on the machine below the lens. If you can't get the right sized image, you may have to exchange the lens (my FHC has two of them).

3) The computer has a program called Image Wizard + (see details at for the microfilm/fiche image capturing. Bring that program up. Click on the "Scan from Microfiche/film" tab. Note the "Scan" button in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.

4) With your image on the microfilm reader/scanner screen, press the "Scan" button on the computer. The microfilm reader/scanner will activate and your image will appear on a portion of the computer screen. A thumbnail image will also appear on the left margin of the computer screen.

5) The image may need to be adjusted. After the image loads, you can modify the "Brightness" and "Contrast" using slide scales. Play with this until you are satisfied with the image quality - the image on the screen will change as you play with the slide scales. When you have an acceptable image quality, then press the "Apply Changes" button next to the scales. The modified image will be saved. If you don't move the scales, you don't have to apply any changes. There is a "Settings" button in the lower left hand corner if you need to change the scanning parameters.

6) Advance to the next image on the microfilm or microfiche that you want to capture, and repeat the process. The captured images appear in the left-hand panel on the computer screen.

7) When you have captured all of the microfilm images into the computer program, click on the "Finished Scanning" button in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

8) Click on the "Save" button on the computer program screen. You will get a series of questions to answer about file format (I use .TIF files), file names (I just put in a short source title and let it number each image), the folder where you want to save the images (the computer at my FHC won't let me save them directly to the flash drive, so I save them to the computer hard drive to a folder in My Pictures).

9) Minimize (don't close it!) the scanning computer program. Open the computer hard drive folder with the images and check that all of the images you want are there. Leave that hard drive file folder open on the screen.

10) Install your flash drive into the USB port and click on the "My Computer" icon on the Windows screen. When the list of drives comes up, your flash drive letter should be shown. Click on it and select a folder where you want to put your captured images. Leave that flash drive file folder open on the screen.

11) Now copy the captured images from the hard drive folder to the flash drive folder. Click on the hard drive folder, go to the [Edit] menu and click on "Select All." All of the captured images should be highlighted. Go to the [Edit] menu and select "Copy" (or press Ctrl-C to do the same thing). Then click on the flash drive folder, and go to the [Edit] menu and select "Paste" (or press Ctrl-V to do the same thing). The files should copy to the flash drive one at a time. Click on one or more of them to make sure that they show what you want.

12) After the image files have been put on the flash drive, you can disconnect the flash drive from the USB port (use the icon to "Safely Remove Hardware'). Put the flash drive where it belongs so you don't leave it there.

13) Click on the hard drive folder on the screen, and delete all of the files you saved there. The captured image files should still be highlighted. If they aren't, highlight them again. Then click on the big X to send the files to the Recycle Bin. They should disappear from the hard drive folder. Close the hard drive folder.

14) Back on the computer, bring up the Scanning Program screen again (the one you minimized). It should still show all of the captured images on the left hand margin - they are still saved in the program. You need to delete them so that the next user can use the program. Click on the "Delete" button on the program screen. You will get a list of the thumbnail file images - click on each one and they should appear on the list of images to be deleted (I couldn't find a way to delete them all with some sort of shortcut).

15) Leave the Scanning computer program up on the computer screen, or close it.

16) Rewind the microfilm on the Scanning machine, and put it back in the box and put it where it belongs.

17) Take the flash drive home, and install it on your computer. Copy the captured image files to a file folder on your computer hard drive. Rename them as you wish. Print them as you wish. Email them to your friends. Save them to your backup computer system.

That's it! Only 17 steps - I wrote them out in some detail for clarity (BG). Frankly, it is a difficult process to do the first couple of times, but it gets easier as you do it more frequently. If you are confused, go to the FHC staff and ask for help.

You could also transfer these images to a CDROM using a similar process for Steps 10 through 12.

My FHC requests $1 for each hour of use on the microfilm scanner/computer system. I captured 53 images yesterday in about 40 minutes using the above process. It cost me $1. I will print them out on my home computer and printer.

There are some pitfalls. Some of the image files may be large. I have captured 12 mb files of some dark images with lots of handwriting. You need to know how large the image files are - you find out when they show up in the computer hard drive file folder. If they are too large for the size of your flash drive, then copy only enough to stay within the capabilities of the flash drive.

Be sure that you have emptied your flash drive before you try to copy the captured images to the flash drive (you can do that on the FHC computer, of course, if necessary).

It amazes me that, every time I go to the FHC, so few researchers are using the microfilms and microfiche resources - and even fewer are using the scanner/computer systems. This is now the only way to capture these images - although you could take a digital picture of them from the microfilm reader, or abstract or transcribe them from the microfilm reader.

If hard copy printers are unavailable at your FHC, then researchers will have to use this method to obtain document images until the LDS program to digitize and index the available microfilm and microfiche resources is completed.

UPDATE 6/9, 4:30 PM: I added the name of the scanning program and modified some of the descriptions in the 17 steps after working with it today.

More on Society Membership

Jasia has an informative post discussing the issue of Declining Genealogy Society Membership at her Creative Gene blog.

As longtime readers of Jasia's blog know, she had a long series on this topic last August. Her present post provides links to all of them. They make excellent reading, and are as pertinent now as they were then.

I posted earlier this week about George G. Morgan's recent article on this topic, and noted what CVGS has tried to do over the past several years. The July 2007 issue of Family Tree Magazine quoted Jasia, myself and others about this issue also. I posted about that experience here.

The challenge for all genealogy societies - from the big national societies down to the small local groups - is to attract and keep members, and to serve their interests through conferences, publications, programs, seminars, databases, classes, forums, web sites, blogs, etc. The society formula from 10 years ago is outdated - there is nothing more constant than change.

We had our CVGS board meeting on Wednesday, and at the end we asked ourselves "Are we on the right track?" Some members noted that we are doing so much more than we did just two years ago. Others said that the genealogy world is spinning much faster - new resources appear, old resources change, and it is a mental challenge to keep up with it. There is a sense of challenge, enthusiasm and accomplishment as we work together to serve our members and attract new ones.

Our society is small enough (80 members) that we get immediate feedback on new classes and programs. We have found that we can try out ideas without much financial risk. If something bombs, it doesn't cost us much and is easily forgotten. If something works well, we can build on it. Being small, we have developed camaraderie and friendship amongst the members - we know each other, and share research problems, knowledge, stories, and lunch regularly. We are developing our own in-society teachers, speakers and mentors - 5 of our monthly programs this year will be done by our members. Doing these things with friends and colleagues leads to confidence when success is achieved.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Heard at the FHC today

I went to the local Family History Center today and transferred more microfilm images of the Bresee family data to my flash drive for uploading to my computer hard drive.

I also "tested" the patron computers at the FHC to see if they had added the content from the "partners" yet. I found that they had not, with the exception of Heritage Quest Online, which worked just fine. They have created a "Links to Premium Services" on the Favorites list, with links to the web sites.

So I asked one of the volunteers what the status was of the access to the "partner" sites.

He said that the San Diego FHC would be able to access the premium sites. He thought they were a week away from having access to the contents on Footnote, World Vital Records, Godfrey Memorial Library, and Kindred Konnections. He counseled patience!

He also said that when the additional data on FamilySearch Inc. becomes available that it would be offered to only LDS members initially. The stated reason was to assess bandwidth required before non-members can use it. He said that there were many records (the word "billion" was mentioned) that were in the LDS system but not online yet anywhere. It sounds to me like they will use the LDS members as "beta-testers" of the new system.

All of the above is hearsay, of course, but it sounded probable to me. If anyone has better information, please let me know! I'll be going down next week again - I still have more Bresee images to capture and will check for access to the "partner" premium sites.

My Census Whacking Index

One of the problems with a blog format is that posts "age off" or disappear from the active blog page. They are still in the blog Archives, and can be found by using the Blog Search feature or the post labels. Unfortunately, I am using the "old Blogger" for this blog and have not been able to label every post, nor put the labels on my blog page (yet!).

I am going to start collecting my "theme" posts in summary posts so that I can find them easily, and put a unique label on those posts. Hopefully, you will enjoy these "blasts from the past" as well.

This is the first of my "theme" posts - it concerns the Census Whacks I've put together. Census Whacks are, in my terms, funny or strange names found in the census records. This was one of the things I started out with on this blog, thinking that the possibilities are endless.

Here are my Census Whacking posts to date:

What Were Their Parents Thinking?

Census Whacking #1

More Census Whacking - PG Rating

More Census Whacking - Strange or Funny Names

Census Whacking - Famous Names

More Census Whacking - Strange but True Names

"Different" Occupations in the 1880 Census

More Christmas "Characters"

Valentine Censuswhacking

Funny Names in the Census - St. Patrick's Day Edition

If Mary April Married Claude Fool...She Would be Mary April Fool!

Berry People in the Census

In addition, there are several posts with links to strange or funny names (real or fictional), including:

Who Is Edith Tintwhistle of Great Cockup?

More Curious, Strange and Humorous Names

What were their parents thinking?

Hallowe'en Names

More Odd Names in History

That took over an hour to put together...another waste of time? Oh well, it was FUN.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Have you noticed?

You may have noticed that I've struggled to post several things a day here for the last week. There was a good reason - go to and read about my long weekend (actually Friday through Tuesday).

I got very little useful genealogy work done and had to scramble this morning to get meeting planning and program flyer copying done in time for the CVGS Board meeting today.

I'm still "exhilarhausted" from the time with Lolo. That's a neologism for grandparents meaning "exhilarated and exhausted." I guess it could be "exhaushilarated" too.

Have Genealogists Been Characters in Movies?

I got to wondering if any movie or TV characters have played genealogists or family historians in popular movies. It turns out that there have been a few:

1) James Bond (played by George Lazenby) in On Her Majesties Secret Service (1969) played a stuffy genealogist who was soon overwhelmed by the ladies in Blofeld's Swiss chalet.

2) Strega in Amore (Italian, DVD in 2005) - In this romantic horror movie, a family hires a genealogist to help them assemble the late patriarch's papers. While there, he falls in love with the daughter who is not nearly as angelic as she looks. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide

That's all I could find in a simple Google search. I saw the Bond flick many years ago and somehow missed his vocation amidst the Blofeld girls. The Italian movie may be in English as A Witch in Love.

There are many movies and TV shows that cover families in history - see for a short list submitted by researchers.

Any others you know about? Tell us - I'll add them to the list.

Dear Genea-Man: Why Can't I find my Ancestor in the Census?

Dear Genea-Man: Why can't I find my ancestor in the 1900 census? I know his full name, his date of birth, his parents names, and some of his sibling names.

Genea-Man responds: Even though you know all of those facts, it is possible that the census enumerator didn't get them right - he may have misspelled the names, made mistakes on the dates, or mixed up your family with another family. We don't know who gave the information to the enumerator - was it one of the parents, or one of the children, or the housekeeper, or a neighbor?

Even if the enumerator got most of it correct, what did the indexer see on the census page years later? Was the enumerator's handwriting clear? Did the ink on the page fade, or was the page damaged before it was indexed? Even worse, what if the indexer had a bad day or intentionally messed up? The latter is probably far-fetched...

Based on my own research, and opinions shared by others with me, it appears that perhaps 75% to 85% of all names were enumerated and indexed fairly well. Another 5% to 15% are poorly enumerated or indexed, but are able to be found using the indexes and creative searches. The last 5% to 15% were either not enumerated, or the records are not available or readable, or were enumerated and indexed so badly that they can't be found.

Searchers need to understand that there are differences between the two most popular online census search sites:

1) (a personal-use subscription site, or free at libraries with Ancestry Library Edition) has all of the US Census records available online. They have a Head of Household index for 1790 through 1840 and an Every-Name index for 1850 to 1930. Ancestry lets you put in a birth year and select an age range (plus or minus 0 years, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years or 20 years). Ancestry permits wild cards in the given name and surname fields (a minimum of 3 letters then an asterisk), and permits an exact search (a check in the search box) or a Soundex search (uncheck the box).

2) The other census provider is HeritageQuestOnline which has all of the US census images, but not all names are indexed on HQO. They have a Head of Household index for 1790 to 1820, 1860 to 1880 and 1900 to 1920 only. They have a Head of Household index for the 1930 census for some states, but not all states. The spouses and children in a family are not indexed on HQO. HQO requires a full surname - no wild cards and no soundex-type search can be made. HQO lets you specify age ranges in 10 year increments (e.g., 0 to 10, 11-20, 21-30, etc.). You can get a maximum of 1,000 results on HQO - if there are more then you have to restrict your search to a smaller locality (e.g., All States to State to County to Town).

My list of "tricks to try" for elusive ancestors in the census records are to:

a) Write out the surname in longhand script. For each letter, identify other letters that are often mistaken for that letter (e.g., L and S, R and K, m and n, b and l, etc.). You can then combine letters to create alternate surnames (for example: Seaver could be Leaver, Seaner, Searer, Scaver, Seuver, Seaven, Saever, etc.) You could leave out a vowel (e.g., Sever, Lever, Seavr, etc.) or add a letter (e.g. Severs, Seavers, Seavern, Seavere, etc.) This will result in a list of names to try in the search box (especially on HeritageQuestOnline).

b) Sound out the surname. How would your ancestor have pronounced it? If he pronounced it that way, how would you have written it down? What if the enumerator was a different nationality than the householder? How would a Norwegian spell the New England name Seaver ("Sea-vah") in Wisconsin? This also results in a list of names to try.

c) Can you limit your search to a specific township, county or state? If so, search only in that locality. This reduces the number of results to a more manageable number. If you don't find your target, then expand your search to the next higher governmental division - Town to County to State to All States.

d) Do a search with only the surname. If you know a birth year and birth state, search using those items also. I always use a date range of +/- 2 years for children and +/- 5 years for adults. If those don't work, I expand the range to the next highest choice.

e) Do a search with only a given name and no surname, but with a birth year (and range) and birth state.

f) Do a search without a given name or a surname, but with a birth year (and range) and birth state. You may get too many results in a large city, so this works best if you are searching a small county or if the birth place is not a nearby state.

g) If you know the given names of the children, pick one of the names that is uncommon (e.g., I would use Josephine rather than Mary if that was a choice) without a surname, and use the birth year (with a range of +/- 2 years).

h) Put the given name or middle name initials in the given name field - some enumerators used only initials. You will get results with the initial as either the given or middle name.

i) Did the surname have a prefix like De, Mc, Mac, O, Van, Von, on the surname? The indexer might have listed it by the last part of the surname (e.g., "Knew" for "McKnew").

j) Did the enumerator or indexer leave out a letter in the name? I recently looked for a "Crosby" and it was enumerated and indexed as "Crsby." Try alternative spellings without each letter.

k) Did the enumerator or indexer misspell the given name or abbreviate it (for example Jno instead of John, Geo for George, Goerge for George, Cahrles for Charles, etc.).

l) Was a middle name used as a first name by the householder? This is fairly common.

m) Did the enumerator transpose the householder names (i.e., first name last, last name first) for the head of household?

n) For a blended family, were the children enumerated with the head of household's surname? I've seen this several times.

o) If you are using, then use the wild card search capability. You can put the first 3 letters of each name in the search box and then an asterisk (like Isa* and Sea* for Isaac Seaver) and see a list of candidates. The results list will often show the spelling variation used by the enumerator or indexer.

p) On, you can input additional names on the 1880 to 1930 census. You can input one or all of the father's given name, the mother's given name, the spouse's given name, and their birth places. This can be very effective especially for uncommon names. Of course, if one of those is wrong in the records, you won't find the target.

q) lets you search with an "Exact search" box checked or unchecked. If the box is left unchecked, you will get a long list of results, with the best matches first. I usually check the box and use the other "tricks".

r) Sometimes "less information" works better than "more information." If you know the full name (e.g.) "Frederick Walton Seaver" then you might search for "Fre* Sea*" in a county rather than put the full name into the search boxes and the town/county names. If there are too many results, then reduce them with a birth year and range and/or a birthplace, if known.

s) Have you checked all the available indexes? The Ancestry index and HeritageQuestOnline index were done at different times by different people, and there are many differences between the search terms and the results.

t) As a last resort, and if you are fairly sure where they resided in the census year, you can search line-by-line either online or on microfilm. City directories may help pinpoint a ward or enumeration district in a large city.

The census records are like a haystack. You are searching for a few needles in that haystack. The indexes currently available online are tools we use to find those needles. In many cases, they work wonderfully - we can usually find the actual census image online in minutes rather than weeks (as we did pre-2002 with microfilms).

I know my faithful readers have lots of experience with this type of research - what other tips are useful for searching the census indexes effectively?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

WW2 Young American Patriots (1941-1945) database on Ancestry

I was browsing through the Military Record databases on Ancestry tonight, and was intrigued by the "World War II Young American Patriots (1941-1945)" database (if you have an Ancestry subscription, click here). It has only 58,000 records in it at this time, but I tried it anyway.

The database description says:

"This database is a collection of books compiled to preserve the lives of the American men and women who served in World War II. These books are arranged by state. Currently this database includes the volumes for:
  • Delaware
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

"Each book includes a short account of the War’s influence or affect on the state, which is then followed by biographies of the “Young American Patriots” from that state. The arrangement of the biographical section varies according to book. The biographies are either arranged alphabetically by name of serviceman for the entire state, or are listed alphabetically by county and then by name of serviceman. Some names and biographies were received too late to put in the alphabetical arrangement. These names appear at the end of the book.

"The type of information that may be found in each biography includes:

  • Name of serviceman
  • Branch of military served in
  • A list of foreign countries and theaters served in
  • Birth date
  • Date and place entered service
  • Name of high school attended
  • Religious affiliation
  • Parents’ names and residence
  • A picture"

An example of one of the entries is this one:

"John R. Hall, Jr. RM 1/c. U.S. Navy. Born Mar. 22, 1922. Entered service June 6, 1941. Norfolk, Va.; England; Normandy; Trinidad; Bermuda; Azores; Iceland; Tokyo; Midway; Alaska; Ryukyus; Honshu. Awarded six Battle Stars, Good Conduct Medal. Attended Scott H.S. Baptist. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John R. Hall, Sr., Husband of Mrs. Nan Elizabeth Rippetoe Hall, Box 424, Madison, W.Va."

All in all, this is a pretty neat database. The pictures are all of young men in their prime, who served their country well. When they get all 50 states completed, it should have over 500,000 servicemen in it.

If you had friends or family that served in world War II, go look for them in this database.

Sharing Genealogy Information

Lisa Alzo recently posted a story on her blog The Accidental Genealogist about sharing genealogy information titled "To Give or Not to Give: What Would You Do?" This is an issue that each genealogy researcher faces during their career - first as a requester of information and later as a provider of information.

Lisa's contact told her that someone had contacted him asking "for information about a family line, and he sent some information from his descendancy chart - not everything, but what he felt was fair to share. The person published the information without so much as an acknowledgment to him and after that the correspondence ceased..."

I recall that, back when I started, I wrote several letters to other researchers with my surnames and I asked for "everything you have." Some kind researchers provided it, mostly on paper. I dutifully put all of this information into my genealogy database (on Personal Ancestral File at the time). Publishing a journal article or a book was far from my mind. I wouldn't think of asking for "everything you have" now, of course!

It's a lot easier now to provide "everything you have" than it was back in the 1990 time frame. Now you can attach a database (or a GEDCOM) to an email and another person has all of your database in a flash. I don't know many people who do that, frankly, because of the real concern that their hard-earned data will be further distributed or even put into a book and a profit will be made from it.

What really turned me against sending databases to another researcher was a situation similar to what happened to Lisa's contact. I have a fairly large Seaver/Sever surname database. Over time, I have collected the published works on the Seaver/Sever surname, collected New England vital records, land records, probate records, military records, census records, etc. The information from these resources are included in my Seaver/Sever database. I had a fellow contact me asking for help on his Seaver line, and I sent him a GEDCOM of my database. He thanked me for it, and over time asked questions via email about certain families. After several years, I saw a notice in one of the magazines about a new book about the Seaver/Sever families by this fellow, and I had an opportunity to read the book at the FHC (he had submitted it for microfilming). There was material in that book that had come directly from my own research notes - including my source citations (not all that great, but I recognized them!), probate information, etc. Needless to say, I was highly perturbed...I sent an email complaining, but I didn't hear back from this fellow.

I am now a lot more protective of information and genealogy data that I have found through my own research. I know how long and how hard I have researched for almost 20 years and I am willing to share that data, but only on my own terms.

The bad experience led to my policy about "what to give and when." It is:

1) I post on the Internet only genealogy reports generated by my software program, but I don't include my notes or sources in those reports. The hope is that somebody will find my report and email me asking for more information. This works pretty well! I get several queries each month from the genealogy data posted at

2) When I receive email asking for genealogy data, I will send information from my notes or sources about a particular family or line in a genealogy report format. I don't, and won't, send my entire database. Actually, I made one exception: I sent my Vaux database to two cousins who are writing a book about the family in England and America and I had added lots of census data to the database. They were going to credit me for my contributions.

3) I request genealogy data and information from my correspondents to add to my database - typically the names, dates and places of the spouses or children and grandchildren of the siblings of my ancestors. It's their choice whether to send it to me. I tell them it is going into my database, and I will put their name and email address in my database so that if someone else contacts me about the same family, I can "recall" my earlier contacts and hopefully hook up some cousins with a common research interest. I tell them that I will not post or publish anything about living people. This has worked out pretty well - I get family information to add to the database and they get some ancestral data.

4) What will happen when I'm just a memory to my kids? I've left instructions for someone (my kids, their spouses, or their kids, or hire someone to do it) to distribute my genealogy research to:

a) The LDS Family History Library for inclusion in their microfilm collection - in the form of specific books (e.g. "Descendants of Robert Seaver for 9 Generations," etc.) that include my notes and sources (such as they are - that is another ongoing project here at the Genea-Cave).

b) To the Rootsweb WorldConnect database (or its successor) - GEDCOM files with notes and sources.

c) Create genealogy books, self-publish them and make enough copies for distribution to family members and to certain public libraries (at present, Chula Vista, San Diego, Carlsbad, Sutro in San Francisco, Library of Congress, NEHGS, etc.).

Obviously, I am not done with my research. There is still A LOT to do! Finding ALL records for each of my ancestral families is a major challenge because there are so many that go back into colonial times. I'm working on the sourcing, and finding more data. Frankly, it is not as much FUN as I want to have. The process is going slowly now as my attention has been diverted to blogging, working with CVGS and helping other researchers.

I have not intentionally contributed my genealogy work to any online database yet - such as WorldConnect, Ancestry or Family Tree Maker. My main reason is that I'm not done with it, it is not adequately sourced and I'm embarrassed by that.

Am I selfish in protecting my own research the way I choose? Yep - I think I am. But it's my choice. I think that my methods described above allow me to share my research data with other researchers, but on my terms and conditions.

What are your ideas on this issue? How do you share your data?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Trying to find JRH in Philadelphia records

I've been helping my CVGS colleague, Joan, sort through all of the online resources in her search for John Robinson Hall (JRH - born 21 March 1886 in Philadelphia) - earlier posts are here, here, here, here and here.

The last known record for JRH is in 1942 when he registered for the World War II draft. He gave his sister's name, Florence Pfaff, as his next-of-kin, and he was working for F.W. Baer & Son in Philadelphia.

We don't know his death date, or whether he died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or some other place. He is not in the Social Security Death Index or in the California Death Index.

The next two "targets of opportunity" are Pennsylvania Death Records and Philadelphia newspaper articles or obituaries.

1) Pennsylvania Death Records - for deaths after 1906, these can be ordered from the Division of vital Records, 101 S. Mercer Street, Room 401, PO Box 1528, New Castle PA 16101. A form can be downloaded from which requires a photo ID of the requester and a statement about the requester's relationship to the deceased. The fee for the record is $9 if the date of death and place of death are known, and $34 if the date and place are not known. They will search for a 2 to 10 year period for the extra $25. Additional spans of 2 to 10 years can be searched for an additional $25.

This may be expensive! We don't know when he died after 1942, or whether he died in Pennsylvania. We could ask for years 1942-1951, then 1952-1961, and 1962-1971 (he would be 85 in 1971).

2) Finding useful newspaper obituary information for Philadelphia newspapers is difficult. The Free Library of Philadelphia web site has a list of newspapers and their dates of publication. It says that obituaries and news items were indexed, but death notices were usually not indexed. The Free Library has an extensive collection of old Philly newspapers which can be requested by title or date. Indexes for the listed newspapers are available in the Newspaper and Microfilm Center. However, for the years between 1942 and say 1971, there are no indexes listed for any Philadelphia newspapers.

Plan B was to contact the Temple University Urban Archives at . They have a collection of newspaper clippings from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin from 1920 to 1982. There was an email address on the web page, so I sent a message to them last night. I will report on the results of that search later.

There is one other way to determine how long JRH may have resided in Philadelphia, and that is to consult the Philadelphia City Directories. There are collections of these at several places in the USA, but the best collection is probably in Philadelphia, including at the Free Library. I need to determine if the library staff will do a search for me, or if I need to find someone to do it (a professional, local society or RAOGK).

If anyone has ideas or suggestions for this Philadelphia research, I would appreciate hearing from you!

Della's Journal - Week 23 (June 4 to 10, 1929)

This is Installment 23 of the Journal of Della (Smith) Carringer, my great-grandmother, who resided at 2115 30th Street in San Diego in 1929.

The "players" and "setting" are described here. Pictures of some of the players are here. Last week's Journal entry is here.

Here is Week 23:


Tuesday, June 4: Man varnished floor. A took treatment. I went to town, pd on Bldg & Loan $65, deposited $30.71 2nd Lyle gave us, 90 cents on my Accident Policy. Emily took Ma out to her house, she cleaned. Mr. Van Beeber brought her home. Zack called, is going East. Mrs. Garlock & his sister called.

Wednesday, June 5: Painter enameled kitchen $16, varnishing $15. Gave him check for $31. Emily's cleaning house. I went to Ma's house, had Mr. V.B. help, we cleaned weeds, burned up trash. I varnished tables, Ma washed. Mt. Van B brought me home and worked 1 hr taking up cement blocks for Lyle to use. Pd Mr. V.B. to date $2.35, gave him 50con New sink.

Thursday, June 6: A[ustin] went back to work. I wrote to West Shore Investment co. to see why they did not pay $100 as promised. Made curtains for bedroom.

Friday, June 7: Sent delinquent tax notice to West Shore Investment Co.. Got curtains like Emily's for our dining room upstairs 4 for $2.00 and ticking for 2 pairs Pillows $2.13. Made curtains for kitchen from Bedroom old ones. Ma washed outside, I ironed. L[yle] deposited $80 for me.

Saturday, June 8: Ma worked in yard. I put things back in place all I could upstairs. A[ustin] did not go for treatment, lady was sick. I made curtains for 1 window in dining room. Ma mended grass rug. A[ustin] will get $100 more a year from July.

Sunday, June 9: Had Mr. Van B. help for 2-1/2 hr to put furniture and carpets back, & loosen windows. Ma went down to Mrs. Sorrenson's for dinner. She had Mrs. Jones & Miss Setchel. Louis Pinkham got ring that his Grand father left him. I had it in Safty box. Uncle Frank & Ella were down, brought a man & his wife with them. They had dinner with Lyle's then all went out to the camp, then back to Lyle's for tea & started home at 6 P.M. Lyle brought us over some ice cream cake. Lyle put down the slabs W of garage, looks nice. Gas men dug around pole in front of house, it is rotted off, will put in new one. I put some fertilizer on plants & asparagus bed.

Monday, June 10: A[ustin] took treatment at 7:30 P.M. I put Luminum paint on Water heaters. Ma worked on fig tree, watered it, it looks fine.


It was a busy week for Della - I'm concerned about her investment in the West Coast Investment company - I think that this is some sort of annuity, and they never seem to pay on time.

Frank and Ella Kemp are from Georgia Auble's side (Emily's mother) - Frank and Georgia are half-siblings, Frank is the youngest, and his mother was the second wife of Georgia's father, Abram Kemp. Frank lived in Ramona for a while on the Barona Ranch (now an Indian casino).

25th Edition of Carnival of Genealogy is up

As most of you know, the Carnival of Genealogy is composed of blog posts concerning a specific genealogy topic. The latest Carnival is posted at (on Jasia's Creative Gene blog) - the topic is "Who Inherited the Creative Gene in your family?"

It looks like there are quite a few modest genea-bloggers with family members with the creative gene - none of the posts come right and say "it's ME!" Read Jasia's post, and click on the blog posts that make up the Carnival. I always find a new blog or two on the list, and sometimes find a new "favorite" writer.

My own Carnival submission is at

The next Carnival deadline is June 17th. The topic is (appropriately): Fathers... dads, step-dads, grandfathers, or Godfathers, or even someone you thought of as a father figure! To submit an entry to the Carnival, write a blog post on the topic, and submit it through this link. It's easy. And the genea-blogging world will know something about your father or father figure.

OK, now I need to think of something interesting about my father....hmmm.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

News of the Day - 30 January 1866

In my spare time (heh - heh - don't we all have spare time?), I search the newspapers for items about people with the surname Seaver in hopes of adding content to my Seaver database.

I found some interesting articles tonight in The Adams Sentinel for 30 January 1866, published in Gettysburg PA:

John Seaver, of Portsmouth, N.H., accomplished the feat in that city of walking 100 miles in 100 hours, without sleep, completing the task on Saturday evening at 8:30 o'clock. Seaver is now, as he expresses it, "almost as good as new." This is said to be the first time that this feat has been successfully undertaken.

Benjamin Finney, a wealthy farmer at Rockport, Illinois, was recently poisoned to death by strychnine, by his fifth wife, a pretty girl, whom he married six weeks ago.

A girl of fifteen is on trial at Boston for bigamy. Her first husband, married at the mature age of fourteen, is in State Prison.

A Hartford gentleman, who was lunching with some friends on bologna sausage and ale the other day, found the end of a man's finger in the sausage.

The Middletown (PA) Journal says that, last week, while a number of ladies and gentlemen were skating on the dam in the Swatara River, a certain Miss, who had skated up to a place where the ice had been removed, was suddenly, but accidentally pushed by another skater, when the former fell into the water. Her hoops kept her afloat until rescued.

My comments:

I keep finding bits of information about John Seaver of Portsmouth NH, but I've not been able to determine his parentage. On the other hand, nobody has written to me saying they are descended from him, so maybe it won't make a difference that he set a world's record for not sleep walking.

How would you like to be descended from poor Benjamin Finney? He buries four wives and the fifth one poisons him! Who raised all the kids?

They must have had some privacy rules in 1866 - they don't name the young lady bigamist or either of her husbands.

I always wondered what the hoops in dresses were for. The hole must not have been too wide. I've been reading up on costumes as part of my Union Case photo study - the girls sure made the guys work for it, didn't they? Fumble fingered guys probably weren't too successful.