Saturday, May 17, 2008

Carnival of Genealogy #48 Features ... Smart Moms!

The 48th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy was posted tonight by Jasia on her Creative Gene blog - the Carnival post is

The subject of this Carnival is Mom, how'd you get so smart? It's a tribute to the wisdom and knowledge of our beloved mothers and mother figures. There are 23 tributes to mothers, all of them written from the heart. My own submission was "How did mom get so smart?"

Please go to the Carnival and read all of the posts - you'll enjoy it!

The topic for the next Carnival of Genealogy is: Swimsuit Edition! Why should Sports Illustrated have all the fun? This is your chance to show off the bathing beauties in your family. Pull out the old photos of Grandma Moses in her seaside bloomers, Auntie Mae in her pin-up girl suit from the 1940s or 50s, cousin Paula in her psychedelic bikini from the 1970s, or even yourself in your Speedo! Let's have some fun here! Memorial Weekend is knocking on the door and that means the start of the summer sun, sand, and seaside season so let's get in the mood with summer fun photos. What? You don't have any swimsuit photos you dare to share? No problem! Tell us your best family beach stories instead! The deadline for submissions is June 1st.

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

CGSSD Meeting today - Discovering Genealogical Treasures

I posted the program summary the other day about the Michael Kratzer talk on "Discovering Genealogical Treasures in Attics, Yard Sales, Swap Meets, and Internet Auctions." Needless to say, this was different! Michael is from Orange County and volunteers at the Huntington Beach FHC when he's not hunting artifacts, photos and other treasures.

He started his talk off with "I used to be a normal guy – we took vacations in Hawaii, we rode bikes for recreation, we had friends and family over for fun and games on the weekend, etc." Then he discovered genealogy research, and collecting family treasures. Now he collects other people's family treasures too.

Michael had a number of books, papers, photos and artifacts laid out on the table beside him, while he went through a nice presentation showing some of his most interesting treasures, each of them with a story behind them. He talked about visiting museum gift shops, historical sites or societies,

He does research on the person who is featured on or owned the artifact - and often sends the research to relatives in hopes that more treasures will be shared. Michael has visited many areas of the country in his treasure hunts, visited close and distant relatives, and likes to show his collection at family get-togethers.

This was an interesting presentation that went quickly - the audience received insights into how to find the artifacts, obtain them, study them, display them, and preserve them.

I was late to the first part of the CGSSD meeting, but didn't miss much in the FamilyTreeMaker meeting. Lance talked about organizing your files in directories on the computer, how he doesn't like Microsoft Vista, how he doesn't use FTM 2008, how FTM 2008 looks and feels (he does have it!), and how to split your FTM file to create a file with only part of a larger file.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A quotation challenge

See if you can figure out the genealogy quotation on John D. Reid's Anglo-Celtic Connections blog in this post -

John has to approve comments so perhaps he will hold all of the responses for awhile.

I think I got it - I believe it's true, too!

This may start a whole new meme! Thanks a lot, John!

CVGS Research Group summary

The May meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society Research Group was Wednesday at the Chula Vista Library, with 11 members in attendance.

We went around the table at the beginning of the meeting to see what each person was doing in their research.

* John tried to find his ancestors in the 1776 Census book for New Hampshire, but struck out.
* Dearl has a collection of the US state resource guides from Family Tree Magazine available.
* Dave was able to GEDCOM his data files into FTM 8.
* Myrna described her recent trip to New England and walking cemeteries all over western CT and MA.
* Bobbie is working on her father's German Titus line, and is looking for a living male to do a Y-DNA test.
* Virginia received a surname book and family newsletters from a distant cousin.
* Shirley has been adding to her Pearsall database with information from surname books.
* Dick is trying to find his father's military records from World War 1, and made his uncle's criminal and prison records into a timeline.
* Julie wondered where she could find cemetery records in Texas.
* Joan went down to the Social Security office recently and is now confident that SS does not know John Robinson Hall's death date.
* Randy shared his Russell Smith research status, the email from his newly found second cousin, and the SCGS Jamboree program.

Randy then shared a bit about the genealogy news for the month, especially the new Ancestry and FamilySearch Record Search databases, and passed around examples of the different records.

Joan shared the military pay records that she got from the National Personnel Record Commission in St. Louis for her John Robinson Hall. He apparently was in the Air Service from 1918 to 1920 and again around 1930. She had to pay $50 for these records on about 8 pages. Shirley made a handwritten timeline for the records and gave it to Joan to help sort them all out. Joan is still searching for a death date for JRH, who probably died in Philadelphia after 1942.

Myrna shared her search for Bounty Land records on the site with examples for several of her ancestors. She also sent away for the War of 1812 Widow's Bounty Land Warrant for Elias Beach of Huron County, MI. She received many pages for $25, which provided the widow's maiden name, the wedding date, and former residences of the family. Myrna also mentioned that she looked again at some older papers and gleaned a few clues and leads from them with this new information at hand. She passed out a one-page summary of her BLM and BLW pension research.

The group suggested that Julie find the US Genealogy Web site ( for her Texas counties of interest to see if they list cemeteries in the county, or have transcriptions from the cemeteries. She could also check and to see if her family is listed.

This was a very spirited meeting, and everyone was amazed at the records found and the research in progress. I found it interesting that the papers shared by the group today were all obtained the "old-fashioned way," by writing to a repository and receiving a package of paper.

Ancestry Adventures at Borders Bookstore

Borders Bookstores announced their "Concept Store" on 14 February 2008 in Ann Arbor MI, and Dick Eastman was probably the first to notice that the announcement included a sentence:

"Customers interested in tracing their roots can access 'Borders Genealogy Services' provided by, and because many Borders customers are authors looking to publish their own work, the Digital Center also includes 'Borders Personal Publishing' powered by"

In March, DearMYRTLE also wrote about the Concept Store and the opening of a store in Las Vegas that included this sentence:

"The store blends digital and Internet options with a fresh new look, enriching in-store services, and a number of exciting features to create a uniquely satisfying customer shopping experience. "

My CVGS colleague John Finch told me the other day that a new Borders Bookstore had opened at the Westfield Bonita Plaza shopping center in National City, and that they had on their computers for patrons to use.

Rather than stay in a warm house today, I chose to go to the shopping center today for lunch and to check out the new Concept Store and see what they had for family history researchers. I am really impressed!!!

First, they do have Ancestry Institution (which is an Ancestry World Deluxe collection, minus some features, such as DNA, Publish and Store) on three computers in the central technology area, plus six more computers scattered around the books and other products. You can check out the historical records, family trees, stories and publications and photos and maps sections. The Ancestry capabilities are identical to what are at the 13 Regional Family History Centers (including San Diego). At this time, a customer can print out pages for free in this store! The guy who I talked to said someone was there for three hours the other day and printed a whole handful of papers.

The central technology area has several kiosks - one for Family History, one for Personal Publishing using Lulu, and one for creating Photo Albums. In the Family History area, there is a book display for family history books, including "Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008," "Finding Your Mexican Ancestors," "Finding Your Irish Ancestors," and several others.

They are also selling FamilyTreeMaker 2008 software (plus a training DVD and several other e-books) in three different forms -

* $29.99 with a one-month Ancestry US Deluxe subscription.

* $69.99 with a three-month Ancestry US Deluxe subscription.

* $99.99 with a six-month Ancestry US Deluxe subscription.

Each of those is a pretty good bargain if you want FTM 2008 and an Ancestry subscription.

This seems like an excellent marketing strategy by both Ancestry and Borders. Ancestry gets people interested and sells their software and subscriptions, and Borders makes something from the sales. And it's a one-stop shop for people who want to make a photo album easily, or publish a book easily. However, they are not offering Internet access.

My second thought was how can my genealogy society take advantage of this opportunity, and I thought of:

* Encourage our members to use the Ancestry Institution down at Borders - the more people who use it, the longer they will keep it. Even if they charge for printing at some time, it is still a bargain. It's also closer and more accessible for our members who don't want to go all the way to or on the freeway to the FHC.

* Determine if Borders will refer patrons to our society if they ask about it. Perhaps we can put our brochures in the Family History area.

* Offer beginning genealogy classes to Borders patrons - see if they will take signups for classes at the library.

* See if they want a "genealogy consultant" on a regular basis to help people use Ancestry. Sounds like fun!

To top it off, they have a coffee shop inside the Borders store and the food court is right outside the front door. I may go shopping more often! Linda will be surprised by my newfound eagerness to go to Plaza Bonita - I always go to the bookstore anyway while she shops for gifts, jewelry or clothes.

It was interesting to see the emphasis on technology items - CDs, DVDs, photos, e-books, audio-books, genealogy, etc. in addition to the traditional book selections. They aren't selling expensive hardware (not computers or cameras) but they are selling MP3 players, photo frames, music by the song, CDs, DVDs, movies, etc. They are also selling "bring-it-in-services" and software.

The fellow I talked to said that Borders Concept Stores were scheduled soon for Riverside, San Francisco and Seattle ... and many more locations, I'm sure.

UPDATE 5/17: Schelly Talalay Dardashti in comments pointed our her Tracing the Tribe blog post back in February about this super store - she even called the company for more information, which resulted in a list of locations. Read Schelly's post here.

Lisa Louise Cooke commented that "On March 1, 2008 I published Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #43 which featured an extensive interview with Dylan Barrell, Director of Digital Business at Borders, all about Ancestry at Borders. To listen to the interview go to www.GenealogyGems.TV, click PODCAST and go to Episode 43, or you can find it in iTunes. Lisa Louise Cooke, The Genealogy Gems Podcast." You can find Lisa's post at

Cousins finding me

One of my main reasons for writing my genealogy blogs, having a genealogy web site, and putting family tree information online is to provide enough Google crumbs for cousins who search for Seaver ancestors (or my other ancestral surnames) to find me. The hope is, of course, that I can share my research with them, and they will share their research and family information with me.

This works pretty well. I think it could work even better if I made a specific genealogy web site with smaller pages than the current site has. I just haven't done it due to the amount of time it will take to create.

In recent months, I've had the following types of emails from correspondents:

* A second cousin once removed found my Richman/Richmond data on the web sites and contacted me. My Seaver family lost track of her Shaw family in the 1940's due to a sibling conflict. We each have pictures and information that the other hasn't seen.

* A historian in Michigan is researching the Auble family, one part of which settled in Kent County, and wants to use my online genealogy report to document the ancestry of the Aubles there.

* A researcher in Michigan found the Seaver ancestry of her relative on the web site and provided information on the family that moved to Ontario in about 1790. I had no information on this family.

* A Kemp cousin in Ontario contacted me with additions and corrections to my Genea-Musings post about my Abraham James Kemp family. We hadn't corresponded for several years, and she found my blog.

* A correspondent asked if I knew the ancestry of Mehitable Dill born in 1808, based on my web page information.

* Several emails come each week asking for more information as a result of my posting a Personal Family Tree on I need to be more diligent in answering these, because these requestors may have more information for me.

* Two Feather researchers saw my blog post about Cornelius and Mrs. Feather and shared their information and frustration that none of us can find anything more on this line.

* The fellow who had the key information about Cornelia Bresee's birth date contacted me and is looking for the source he found it in.

* A researcher in Idaho found my web site report on my wife's Leland family and contacted me with updated information.

* Occasionally I get a notice from and that someone has added information or has matched one of the persons in the Seaver database that I have posted on these sites.

* And many more over the years!

If my email archive is passed on to my heirs, they will be tremendously confused by the number of contacts and variety of information shared by and with other researchers. I need to save my email archives into directories so that the important contacts can be saved rather than die when my hard drive does.

My point here is that putting your genealogy information on the Internet, in a controlled way that protects privacy of living relatives, can provide a means for other researchers, and even close cousins, to contact you and share information.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

New York Ancestors web site

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston announced today the launch of a new Web portal highlighting the wide variety of New York resources available on their award-winning Website, This new portal, located at, will direct members to a wide range of databases, publications, and articles focusing on New York state research.

What databases are on the new web page? Here's a list:

* Albany County First Settlers of, from 1630 to 1800
* Records of St. Paul's (P.E.) Church, Syracuse, New York, 1830-53
* First Settlers of Schenectady, from 1662 to 1800
* New York Wills, 1626-1836
* Death Notices from the New York Evening Post, 1801-1890

* Marriage Notices from the New York Evening Post, 1801-1890
* The Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Volume 1 [Dutchess Co., NY]
* Record of Deaths and Marriages from the Albany Argus, 1826-1828
* Otsego County, New York, Newspaper Records
* Marriages Published in the Christian Intelligencer of the Reformed Dutch Church From 1830 to 1871

* Marriages Performed by Rev. Ezekiel W. Mundy in Syracuse, New York
* Marriages of Dutchess County, New York
* Marriages and Deaths in New York State from the New Canaan [CT], Era
* Jacob Benson, Pioneer, and his Descendants (1915), by Arthur T. Benson
* Guardianship Records of Onondaga County, New York

* Genealogical and Biographical Notes on the Haring-Herring, Clark, Denton, White Griggs, Judd, and Related Families
* Estate Assessment Roll, Thurman, New York - 1806-1809, 1812
* Deaths Published in the Christian Intelligencer of the Reformed Dutch Church From 1830 to 1871
* Death Records of Rensselaer County, New York, 1847-1851
* Abstracts of Wills, Administrations and Guardianships in NY State, 1787-1835
* Abstracts of Wills in Onondaga County, New York, 1791-1841

There are also articles about New York research at

Of course, you have to be a member of NEHGS to use the databases at the site.

NEHGS is offering a $15 (single member is $75 a year) discount for new memberships through June 30, according to the www.newyorkancestors.,org web page. between now and June 30, 2008. Alternatively, you can receive a free copy of the book, "New York Essays" by Marian S. Henry. This offer is only available for new memberships and only by calling the membership department at 1-888-296-3447.

I am a member of NEHGS and enjoy the publications, but I find that the online databases are frustratingly difficult to use.

ISFHWE Award Winners

DearMYRTLE, Dick Eastman, Leland Meitzler and probably others have listed the ISFHWE award winners from last night's Banquet and Awards Dinner at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Kansas City.

The Winners of the 2008 International Society of Family History Writers and Editors Excellence in Writing Contest are:

Category I - Newspaper Columns

** First Place: Mary Alice Dell, "Land Ho" - link.

** Second Place: Julie Miller, "Dear Lucy, Love Phil: A Cotton Family Legacy" - link.

** Third Place: Mary Penner, "Union Vets Joined Posts Across Nation" - link.

Category II - Articles

** First Place: Colleen Fitzpatrick, "Clues Left Around a House" - link

** Second Place: Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak: "Found! Serial Centenarians" - link

** Third Place: Schelly Talalay Dardashti: "Planting the Family Tree" - link.

Category III - Original Research Story

** First Place: Hazlehurst Smith Beezer, "Dr. James Hill: Skeleton in the Hall Family Closet"

** Second Place: Terry R. Barnhart, "Unraveling the Mystery in Ginghamsburg"

** Third Place: Nancy Waters Lauer, "When a Brick Wall Crumbles Onto the Wrong Path"

Category IV - Want-to-Be Writer/Columnist

** First Place: Debra A. Hoffman, "Bricks & Mortality"

** Second Place: Harold Henderson, "City Directories as Clue Factories"

** Third Place: J.H. Fonkert, "Celebrate Minnesota's History by Starting Your Own"

I want to add my congratulations to these writers for earning these awards in competition with their peers. I note that there are several genealogy bloggers on the list, including Schelly Talalay Dardashti, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, and Harold Henderson.

When they make these awards, I would really appreciate that they would note where these efforts have been published - the book, newspaper, periodical or web site. The only one I've read is Megan's in Ancestry magazine.

UPDATE 5/19: Gary in Comments provided links to some of these works. I've added them to the list above. Thanks, Gary! I looked for the others and didn't find them online.

Family Tree Magazine - July 2008 Table of Contents

The Table of Contents for the July 2008 issue of Family Tree Magazine (Volume 9, Issue 4) includes:


* Recharge Your Research - Try these 12 techniques to give your genealogy a jump start - and break through those brick walls, by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack - page 16

* Your Ancestors Slept Here - Want to add a family history twist to your summer travels? From Colonial quarters t Civil War cabins, these historical lodgings let you rest your head where your forebears did, by Sunny McClellan Morton - page 22

* French Made - Follow our five-step research guide, and say bonjour to your French roots, by Nancy Hendrickson - page 26

* Charmed Life - Create your own genealogical serendipity by using these five methods to connect with distant cousins and find long-lost heirlooms, by Maureen A. Taylor - page 32

* Apple Picking - In the market for Mac genealogy software? Choose the best programs for you with our exclusive comparisons and ratings, by David A. Fryxell - page 46

* Dwelling on the Past - Three professional historians share their secrets for bringing bygone days to life and understanding your ancestors' world, by David A. Fryxell - page 54

* Top Shelves - Check out what you're missing at genealogical libraries large and small: Our Libby awards highlight the strengths of collections across the country, by Lauren Gamber - page 58


* Branching Out - What's new in discovering, preserving and celebrating your family history, including: special report on online etiquette; social networking applications for genealogy; endangered Civil War battlefields, by Diane Haddad - page 8

* State Research Guides - quickly access the essential facts, advice and resources you need to find your family anywhere in the country. In this issue - Ohio and Florida -- page 37.

* The Toolkit - Reviews and roundups of the latest, greatest family history resources: checkup on software for recording family health history; The Master Genealogist 7 review; quick guide to online passenger-list collections; Google Book Search; The Book Report, by Allison Stacy - page 74


The full table of contents is on the web site The Hendrickson and Morton articles are offered online. You can also download a PDF of the 7 page list of web links from this issue.

There is an excellent Genealogical Source Checklist on page 20, as part of the Carmack article. Perhaps FTMagazine will eventually put it on their web site for researchers to use. I've already scanned a copy for my own use.

As always, there are many excellent research tips in these articles, and a nice list of libraries to visit on your travels!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Family Photographs - Post 5: Massachusetts Seaver family

I'm posting old family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but they won't be wordless posts like others do - I simply cannot have a wordless post.

Here is one of the more interesting images from my Massachusetts Seaver family collection:

This picture was probably taken in Leominster, Massachusetts in about 1919 (I'm guessing that the little girl is about age 2). The setting may be the Seaver family home at 290 Central Street in Leominster.

The people in the picture are (left to right):

* Roy Mansour (in back, I have no clue who he is - a boyfriend of Evelyn perhaps?)

* Edward R. Seaver (in front, 1913-2004, son of Fred and Bess Seaver, my uncle)
* Frederick W. Seaver (in back, 1876-1942, my grandfather)

* Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver (in back, 1882-1962, my grandmother)

* Geraldine Seaver (in front, 1917-2007, daughter of Fred and Bess Seaver, my aunt)

* Evelyn Seaver (in back, 1901-1999, daughter of Fred and Bess Seaver, my aunt).

I have no pictures of the complete Fred and Bessie (Richmond) Seaver family with all of their children.

I had no clue who the fellow on the left was until I saw the picture in Aunt Gerry's album labeled with the name Roy Mansour. He looks pretty dapper, doesn't he? Is he trying to curry favor with Fred by wearing the same type of hat?

This photograph is in the possession of Randy Seaver, and was obtained from the Seaver family photograph collection handed down by his parents.

Genealogy Industry Announcements

It's the first day of the National Genealogical Society conference in Kansas City, and there have been a number of important announcements by the major genealogy database players. They include:

* TGN CEO Tim Sullivan's letter " Global Content, Product, and Marketing Update - May 14, 2008" by CEO Tim Sullivan was published today here.

* FamilySearch announced today - in "FamilySearch Teams with to Publish Historic Civil War Era Records" - its records access agreement with to publish two significant Civil War Era databases online—the 1860 U.S. Census and Civil War Pensions Index. The two relevant collections will provide free online access to millions of names of individuals from the 1860 to 1865 period in the United States. The completed databases will expand FamilySearch’s growing, free U.S. Census collection online and Footnote’s Civil War Collection. The full announcement is here.

* FamilySearch announced today - in "FamilySearch Engages to Add Features to Popular Online Family History Library Catalog" - has teamed with, Inc. to improve the user experience of the Family History Library Catalog for millions of people worldwide by adding new Web 2.0 functionality and enhancements. The improvements will also enable users to spend research time more efficiently by directing them to the information that will generate the quickest results.’s improvements to the catalog will make it searchable by major online search engines and allow users to annotate item descriptions—increasing their accuracy and enriching the content. The full announcement is here.

* FamilySearch recently announced - in "FamilySearch Teams With, Inc. to Bring German Collection Online " - an inaugural project in concert with, Inc., to digitize and index a valuable German genealogy collection containing over 3.5 million names from the period of 1650-1875. The Brenner Collection contains 3.5 million names on more than 750 rolls of microfilm, representing between 900,000 and 1.5 million images. A final count will be determined once all of the records have been indexed. The complete Brenner Collection database is scheduled to be online at by the end of this year, although segments of the database will be launched in the interim. The press release is here (but not on FamilySearch!).

If there are more announcements, I will post them here.

Usually, these announcements happen while I am out of town and with limited Internet access. I guess I faked everybody out - I was going to go see my new granddaughter this week but I was too sick to go. I'm sure they planned the NGS Conference knowing about my travel plans. Or not?

TGN's Tim Sullivan - Update

The Generations Network press release titled " Global Content, Product, and Marketing Update - May 14, 2008" by CEO Tim Sullivan was published today at

This is a comprehensive summary of the recent new content, their planned new content and the improvements to the "user experience" at

The important information, for me, is about the planned new U.S. content, which includes:

* Historical newspapers – We will soon be doubling the size of our historical newspaper collection with the addition of 20 million images and over 1 billion names. In addition, within the year we will release another installment of newspapers.

* Cook County, Illinois Birth, Marriage, and Death Records (1871-1988) – This collection of vital records includes 24 million names, beginning in 1871 following the great Chicago fire.

* U.S. Yearbook Collection – 6 million names and more than 6,000 yearbooks from various schools across the United States.

* U.S. City Directories – 50 million names and 1 million images.

* Florida State Census (update) – 4 million names added to the Florida State Censuses representing the years 1867, 1875, 1935, and 1945

On the International front, they will add new content for:

* Chinese Jiapu Collection (2000 BC-1950s) – More than 1,200 Chinese family histories containing more than 2 million images in total.

* Bremen Ships Content (1815-1917) – A detailed collection of more than 20,000 birth, death, desertions, and passenger registrations, which complements the existing Bremen content in the U.S. passenger list collection.

* British Army Service Records (1914-1920) – Service records for more than 1.2 million British soldiers who fought in WWI.

* Canadian Passenger Lists (1865-1935) – 8 million names of immigrants and other travelers arriving to Quebec and other major ports during that time frame.

* French Vital Records (1798-1902) – 12 million names found in original parish and civil records dating from the 1700s through the early 20th century.

* Deutsche Telecom (1881-1981) – An estimated 70 million names contained in German phone books.

* Australian Free Settlers Collection (1826-1922) – 9 million names of free settlers and travelers to Australia.

* Como Italian Tribunals (1866-1936) – 10 million names in Civil Registration Records from the province of Como.

* Inbound UK Passenger Lists (1878-1960) – 20 million names of those passengers traveling to the UK.

Mr. Sullivan says that these are only part of their planned new content. Read the whole press release. This is great news - I can hardly wait for some of those databases.

I truly believe that we are in a "golden age" of online genealogy resources that has been made possible by competition - Ancestry, WorldVitalRecords, Footnote, GenealogyBank, FindMyPast and other commercial sites along with FamilySearch, WeRelate, MyHeritage and other free sites are racing to digitize and index as many genealogy records as possible. I'm rooting for all of them!

CGSSD Meeting on Saturday, May 17

Linda Hervig, the VP of Administration and Publicity for CGSSD, sent this notice to CGSSD members:

The Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego (CGSSD) meets on Saturday, May 17, 2008 from 9:00 am to noon.

9:00 - Brief Announcements and user groups for FTM, Macintosh and RootsMagic

10:15 - A break and refreshments

10:30 - Announcements followed by Program “Discovering Genealogical Treasures in Attics, Yard Sales, Swap Meets, and Internet Auctions.” by Michael Kratzer.

Family History and Genealogical Research can be so much more than a collection of names, dates, and Family Group Sheets. After compiling all those Birth Notices, Marriage Announcements, Death Certificates, and Obituaries, then what?

Join Michael Kratzer as he retells how he has discovered what he considers are hidden Genealogical Treasures waiting to be found in the most unexpected places. New and used books, photos, family business advertisements, ancestral heirlooms, artifacts, and memorabilia can enhance and enrich your enjoyment of your personal Family History Library and Archives.

Michael has been adding to his personal Family History Archives for over 15 years. A graduate of Orange Coast College and a certificate holder from the University of California at Irvine, he has held managerial positions in Southern California based manufacturing enterprises, primarily in the Metal Finishing trade. He lives in Costa Mesa with his wife Brenda, and volunteers his time assisting other family researchers at the Huntington Beach Family History Center.

We meet at the Robinson Auditorium complex on the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus in La Jolla. From North Torrey Pine Road turn at Pangea Drive into UCSD. Free parking is available in the parking garage on the left; use any A, B, or S space. Signs will mark directions to our meeting room. Please refer to our website; or the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies website for driving directions and a map.


I look forward to learning how to spend more of my time prowling attics, swap meets, auctions and yard sales. This may be an opening to a whole new genre of blog posts!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Flat Stanley went to WDYTYAL!

I was watching the videos over on and noticed that there were a number of interviews done by Dick Eastman of prominent genealogists in attendance at the Who Do You Think You Are, Live! conference. All very interesting, and, um, proper.

But there was also a video of Flat Stanley, who is one of my favorite video genealogy heroes. His visit to WDYTYAL is shown here - it runs only 4:50 but is informative and funny. Enjoy!

I got curious about Flat Stanley - I even wondered if he was only a piece of cardboard or was he a real person. Interestingly, there is a Matt Flatt Stanley who is in the US Public Records Index on I wonder if this fellow is related to the famous video star, Flat Stanley of genealogy fame?

The "Magic of Genealogy" Moment - a "Genea-gasm"

Kimberly Powell on her About:Genealogy blog wrote about this subject, and highlighted a recent article in the 4 May 2008 issue of the Seattle Times newspaper - it was titled "In a German pub, genealogy takes living, breathing form." What a breath-taking and superb "magic of genealogy" story!!! I had tears in my eyes from reading it.

This would be an excellent Carnival of Genealogy topic (are you reading, Jasia?). Here is just one of my "Magic of Genealogy" moments:

In 1990, I had been pursuing my genealogy and family history for two years - down to the FHC every Saturday, off to local and regional libraries, writing query letters, reading genealogy magazines, and dutifully entering my data into PAF. I had found quite a bit from all of my searches. I had even started my Seaver-Richmond Family Journal and sent it to my extended family members - aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, etc.

My aunt and uncle, Jan and Ed Seaver (my father's only brother) were going to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary by visiting their hometown of Leominster, Massachusetts. They were going to renew their vows in the church they were married in, visit the old Seaver homes, Evergreen Cemetery and celebrate with family and friends at the place that they had their reception in nearby Sterling, the Twin Oaks restaurant. This was arranged by their children Peter Seaver and Joan (Seaver) King, and was a smashing success. There were four generations of relatives there - 22 in all, including my brother Scott and myself.

The "Magic of Genealogy" moment came during the week after the reception. I had been told that the Richmond's who came to America in the 1850's had owned a dairy farm on the west side of Putnam, but the Seaver family had lost contact with their Richmond cousins in the 1940's. On a whim, Scott and I traveled to Putnam, Connecticut to search for our Richmond ancestors in the Grove Street Cemetery there. We checked into the Holiday Inn (next to the cemetery), and went out for a walk. We found two Richmond family stones that just gave us names and dates. After dinner, I cold called the two Richmond names that were listed in the telephone book.

The first call was to Thomas Richmond, and I talked to his widow, Helen, who told me that her husband had died years before, and that I really needed to talk to her son, Russell Richmond, who lived near the family farm, which had recently been sold. She also said that Russell had all of the family history data!

I called Russell, and spoke to his wife, also a Helen, who said that Russell was profoundly deaf, but would be very happy to meet with us and talk about family history. We made a date to meet in the morning, and he came and we went into the cemetery with him. Fortunately, he spoke clearly and could lip read. He knew where all of the family stones were - we had missed some of them! He then escorted us to the family farm on Richmond Road in Putnam. The farm had been sold several years before to a young man who raised turkeys and organic vegetables on the "Good Earth" farm. We took some pictures of the farm buildings and Russell told some stories about the people who had lived there.

Then we went to Russell's log cabin home across the road from the farm, and met his wife, Helen. Russell brought out the collection of family papers and pictures that had been handed down from his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents (James and Hannah (Rich) Richmond, who had emigrated from England in 1855-6). I asked if we could go to some place where I could make some xerox copies of some of the papers and pictures, and we went down to a drug store and I made perhaps 30 copies of pictures and papers.

The actual "Moment" was seeing the James Richman family pictures and hearing Russell tell me who each person was - including my great-grandfather, Thomas Richman.

Needless to say, Scott and I enjoyed our day with Russell and Helen Richmond and their hospitality. I was able to use much of what we gleaned from the papers and pictures and was able to find more information in later years about the families in Hilperton in Wiltshire through LDS microfilms and our 1993 vacation to Hilperton - but that's another of my "Magic of Genealogy" moments.
My "Magic of Genealogy" moments always seem to include a chill in my body, a tremendous feeling of thankfulness, and tears of joy. I call them "genea-gasms." It's embarrassing, but I cherish each one of them. Actually, I can hardly wait for the next one!

New LDS Research Guides for England and Scotland

I read on Miriam Midkiff's Ancestories1 blog and on the DearMYRTLE blog that there are new LDS Resource Guides for England and Scotland. I didn't get the LDS press release notice last week, so I went looking for them on the LDS web site,

The new England Resource Guide (for records between 1837 and 1901) can be found at Finding Records of Your Ancestors, England, 1837 to 1901. This is a 32 page PDF document.

The description says:

"If your ancestor lived in England between 1837 and 1901, the following steps will help you find the records of his or her family. These instructions will show
you which records to search, what to look for, and what tools to use. One piece of information will lead to another until you have identified each family member and filled out a family group record."

The new Scotland Resource Guide (for records between 1837 and 1901) can be found at Finding Records of Your Ancestors, Scotland, 1855 to 1901. This is a 26 page PDF document. The description is similar to the English description.

The copyright notices on these documents say 1998, 2008, so they have been updated recently.

There are many more documents like this on the LDS Resource Guides site here, including Resource Guides for African American, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Jewish, Mexico, Norway and Sweden.

Note that these documents are somewhat different from the Research Outlines found here. The Research Outlines cover a specific locality (all states, many countries, some record types) and all records for all times. Unfortunately, not all of the Research Outlines are in PDF format.

There are also Reference documents here that cover historical backgrounds of specific states and countries, all in PDF format.

There are Step-by-Step Guides for specific topics - most of them dealing with state vital records indexes and collections, and federal census records, here in PDF format.

Many of these documents are available in paper form and can be purchased for a reasonable cost at an LDS Family History Center.

"How-to" documents like this can be invaluable for genealogy researchers who are just starting their research, or for those who are not familiar with records in specific locations. I have downloaded many of the PDF files to my hard drive and have transferred them to the hard drive on my laptop for easy reference at a genealogy repository or society meeting.

If you have not read these LDS guides and documents, you should! They may help you understand the records that are available and where you might find them.

Monday, May 12, 2008

SCGS Jamboree - June 27-29, 2008

The Genealogy Jamboree sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical society is coming soon - June 27-29, 2008 in Burbank CA, at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. The web site with the program and more information is at

The program description says:

"The Southern California Genealogy Jamboree and Resource Expo is a three-day gathering of genealogists, family historians, experts, novices, exhibitors, vendors, genealogical society leaders, speakers and others who are interested in tracing their roots.

"The 2008 Genealogy Jamboree, produced by the Southern California Genealogical Society, is expected to draw over 1200 participants. There will be more than 75 presentations and panel discussions, 31 lecturers, a room full of exhibitors and vendors, and plenty of opportunities to network and socialize."

You can download, or read, the program here.

There will be a "Genealogy Bloggers Summit" from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday, June 28th. The program description says:

"SA-07 Genealogy Blogger Summit [Steve Danko, Schelly Dardashti, Dick Eastman, Leland Meitzler, George Morgan, Randy Seaver, Megan Smolenyak]. The genealogy blogging and podcast community has been keeping savvy readers up to date on all the news affecting genealogists and family historians. How do they get the information? How is it disseminated?

"How have bloggers changed the flow of information between vendors and their customers? How can family history blogs help exchange information and locate cousins? Come hear this exceptional group of information leaders. Sponsored by"

I am honored to be included in this august group of "information leaders." I look forward to sharing a stage with all of those famous bloggers, but I'm wondering if I'll ever get a word in edgewise? It will be fun to meet all of these bloggers - I've only met one genealogy blogger so far (Gena Phillibert-Ortega)!

In this time frame, who is the competition? From 9:30 to 10:30 am, none other than Arlene Eakle, Wendy Elliott, John Humphrey, JoAnne Rockower, Jana Broglin and Bennett Greenspan. From 11 am to noon, they are Arlene Eakle, Wendy Elliott, John Humphrey, Michael Booth, Elaine Alexander and Colleen Fitzpatrick. Those are formidable speakers with interesting topics - who is going to want to hear about Blogging?

If you attend the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree, please come introduce yourself as a reader of Genea-Musings and tell me what you like best about this blog.

I hope to live-blog the Bloggers Summit in addition to posting talk summaries each day for the sessions I attend.

The American Genealogist - July 2007 Table of Contents

The latest issue of The American Genealogist journal arrived last week. It is Volume 82, Number 3, Whole Number 327, dated July 2007 (published March 2008). The Table of Contents includes:

* "Origin of Accused Witch Mary (Williams) (King?) Hale of Boston and her Brothers Hugh, John, and, Possibly, Nathaniel Williams "by Michael J. Leclerc and D. Brenton Simons - page 161

* "Damning with (Very) Faint Praise" - page 171

* "Sarah (Parker) Williams, Wife of High Williams of Boston, Massachusetts, and Block Island, Rhode Island" by Michael J. Leclerc - page 172

* "Damning with Almost No Praise at All" - page 177

* "A Proposed Ancestry for Edward Ball of Christ Church, Middlesex County, Virginia" by Ronald A. Hill - page 178

* "Damning a Clerical Sinner" - page 186

* "The Perry Family of Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire: Shared Ancestry of Six Massachusetts Immigrants: John Perry of Roxbury, Isaac Perry of Boston, Mary (Perry) Heath of Roxbury, Phebe(Perry) Desborough of Roxbury, John Reddington of Topsfield, and Abraham Reddington of Topsfield and Boxford (continued)" by William Wyman Fiske - page 187

* "William Rogers of New London, Connecticut: Privateer and Pirate" by Brent M. Owen - page 196

* "The Parentage of Alice Tiler, First Wife of Thomas Sherwood of Wethersfield, Stamford and Fairfield, Connecticut" by Leslie Mahler - page 211

* "Damning Self-Aggrandizement" - page 213

* "Asa Bacon and the Shaking Quakers: Bacon Migration (1644-1850): Massachusetts-Connecticut-Massachusetts-New York-Indiana (continued) by Ronald A. Hill - page 214

* "Chamberlaynes in the Ancestry of the Betts Family of Newton, Long Island" by John Blythe Dobson - page 227

* "Damning the Aristocracy" - page 232

* Editorial Notes and Observations - page 233

* Book Reviews - page 234

This periodical has some interesting articles and excellent examples of New England research. As always, this issue unravels several difficult research problems. It also has a number of "short items" that are "damning" something or other - all either curious or humorous.

TAG is a labor of love by the editors, David L. Greene, Ph.D. and FASG, Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, and Joseph C. Anderson, FASG.

I have subscribed to TAG for about 15 years now, and have quite a "stack" of them. I often take one out and read it when I have an hour to kill - just to review research techniques and to marvel at how others have solved difficult research problems. I wish I could solve just one of my difficult research problems and submit an article to TAG!

"My Jewish Journey to America" at SDGS on Saturday

I attended the San Diego Genealogical Society meeting on Saturday. The speaker was Dr. Franklin Gaylis on "My Jewish Journey to America." But the talk was more than about his journey to America, it was a wonderful story about researching his Jewish ancestors in Lithuania and Latvia.

Dr. Gaylis used the computer setup to show slides and video clips from his family's genealogy trip to the Baltics, where they found several ancestral homes. His ancestral family left Lithuania around 1900 to settle in South Africa, and his family migrated to the USA about 20 years ago.

Dr. Gaylis explained how access to the Baltic countries, which had been almost impossible before the fall of the Iron Curtain, became possible in recent years. He hoped that they could learn a little bit more about the little towns where their ancestors lived until they were encouraged or forced to leave because of persecution. Many who remained were killed in the Holocaust. His family didn't know if they had lost family in Latvia or Lithuania. All they knew were the names of the shtetls (little towns where Jews lived) where the family had lived. With the Internet, information about Lithuania and Latvia became available to them here in America.

The family trip to Lithuania and Latvia took several years to plan. Dr. Gaylis showed views, and videos, of their very first day after arriving in Latvia - finding the abandoned synagogue in Ludza, and even some records inside the building. They found the home of his great-grandparents, and they met some cousins there. They were welcomed by the President of Latvia, and a Professor at the University of Kaunas in Lithuania in other meetings.

This was not the typical "finding your ancestral home" story. The amazing part was finding that there was still family in the area and they found them the first day - while they were still jet-lagged! They have video of their guides conversing with local people, and showing the family homes and local buildings.

This program took the first hour of the SDGS meeting. In the second hour, we had a "Question and Answer" session with five of us on the panel answering questions "cold" from the audience. Phyllis Quarg, Dona Ritchie, Pam Journey (who acted as moderator), Peter Steelquist, and I answered questions from the audience. This was difficult without any notes or computer helps! My cold and laryngitis made it difficult for me to speak coherently, I fear!

I really enjoyed hearing this "not your usual family" genealogy hunt and hearing about this emotional family story of discovery in Eastern Europe.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

"Smile for the Camera" Carnival #1 is posted!

The first edition of the "Smile for the Camera" Carnival has been posted by footnoteMaven on the Shades of the Departed blog.

This is quite a wonderful collection of posts with pictures and words about Mother Love - Love of Mother. In this inaugural edition of Smile For The Camera we show it, through those treasured photographs. There are 22 entries to this carnival, and each is really special. Thanks to fM for putting this Carnival together, and I look forward to many more.

My own entry to this Carnival was "Mom and Me - I Smile for the Camera." After writing it, I realized that I wasn't smiling, but my mother sure was!

The topic for the "Smile for the Camera" Carnival #2 "takes its word prompts from the romance and weddings of the month of June. So, show us your belles and beaus. Choose a photograph of an ancestor, relative, yourself, or an orphan photograph that shows a memorable wedding, courting/dating, or a photograph depicting young/old love." The deadline for submission is midnight 10 June, 2008 - see the call for submissions for the process.

Best of the Genea-Blogs - May 4-10, 2008

Here are my picks for great reads from the genealogy blogs for this past week.

My criteria are pretty simple - I pick posts that advance knowledge about genealogy, address current genealogy issues, provide personal family history, are funny or are poignant. I don't list posts destined for the Carnival of Genealogy, or other meme submissions (but I do include summaries of them), or my own posts.

* "Catholics, Mormons at Odds Over Genealogical Records?" by Craig Manson on the Geneablogie blog. Craig shares his thoughts on this issue, which are cogent and rational.

* "Genealogy Research at a glance: how my work benefits you:" by Arlene Eakle on the Arlene H. Eakle Genealogy Blog. Arlene offers a glimpse of how she does research for her clients - and has some advice for all of us too about the pace of genealogy research.

* "Trawling the Deep Web" by Jennifer on the Rainy Day Genealogy Readings blog. Jennifer has found some excellent resources for going beyond search engines to find online information.

* "I'm Back!" by Jasia on the Creative Gene blog. Our fave carnival girl took some time off to travel, took some pictures, and shared them with us.

* "U.S. Birth and Death Records" by Holly on the Blogging for Ancestors blog. Holly has tips and links for birth and death record information.

* "TiddlyWiki Basics" and "Putting Twitter to work" by Denise Olson on the Family Matters blog. Denise is the most "tech-ept" person that I read regularly. These two posts describe useful computer tools for everybody if you take the time to work with them.

* "Continuity Plan: Analysis" by Denise Olson on the Moultrie Creek Online Historical Society blog. Denise offers excellent advice on how to prevent genealogy society disasters when bad things happen. Great advice.

* "May 9 - Friday From the Collectors: Why Digital Photo Restoration is Important" by George Geder on footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed blog. George's post gives excellent examples of restored photos and sage advice on how to go about it.

* "Eyewitness: Who Do You Think You Are LIVE!" by Schelly Talalay Dardashti on the Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog. Schelly provides a summary of this major genealogy conference in the UK with many links to eyewitness accounts.

* "My Battle with Footnote" by Taneya on Taneya's Genealogy Blog. Taneya finds interesting material on Footnote and tells us about them - check out her update link for her special find. Did you know that Taneya has 8 blogs?

* "A few new words and one new sign" by Terry Thornton on the Hill Country of Monroe county, Mississippi blog. Terry shares his penchant for writing down exotic and esoteric blog word verification sequences, and tells us about them. Don't we all wish we had thought of this?

encourage you to go to the blogs listed above and read their articles, and add their blog to your Favorites, Bloglines, reader, feed or email if you like what you read. Please make a comment to them also - we all appreciate feedback on what we write.

Did I miss a great genealogy blog post? Tell me!

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers reading Genea-Musings. The world could not do without you - you are absolutely needed, loved and respected. And never forgotten.

None of us would exist without our mothers, and their mothers, and theirs... ad infinitum. Isn't it amazing how all of this works? Thousands of generations ago women had babies, nourished them and nurtured them, probably just as we do today, except they didn't have indoor plumbing, automobiles or iPods.

I read the most beautiful post today by Terry Thornton on the Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi blog - it's titled "An Observance" but it's much more than that. It's a testimony to mothers and Mother's Day - read it and weep. The song "M-O-T-H-E-R" is pretty good too.

Thanks, Terry, for this post, and especially the poem and the song. We all get it, I think!