Saturday, March 28, 2009

Seeking Lamphier Probate Records in Jefferson county NY

I thought I would play on the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun theme too... and show an example of my research techniques in the FHLC. My current "elusive ancestor" project is to find the parents of Devier Lamphier (1839-1894), who changed his name in 1865 to Devier J. Smith (I have a court record abstract), and is my 2nd great-grandfather.

I want to find Probate Records for Lamphiers (and alternate spellings) in Jefferson County NY, since that is where Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith, the adoptive parents of Devier (according to Ranslow Smith's will written in 1865) moved from in 1843 to Dodge County, Wisconsin. In the 1850 and 1860 census in Dodge County, Devier J. Smith is listed as age 11 and 21, respectively, born in NY.

In the post Using the Family History Library Catalog earlier today, I got up to the Jefferson County NY list of records available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Now I want to find the Probate Records that might help me sort out the Lamphier (and variant spellings) families that lived there in the 1800 to 1860 time period.

On the list of Jefferson county NY records, I clicked on the Probate Records link, and a list of seven items appeared:




From that list, I selected "Estate papers, 1805-1945" from the Surrogates Court for the county to investigate. When I clicked on that, I got:



It appears that these records are the collected papers for cases that were filed for probate. If I want to look at the microfilm numbers for this set of records, I could click on the "View Film Notes" button at the top right of the page, or I could click on the "For a printable version of this record click here ..." link at the bottom of the page. From experience, I know that clicking for the printable record provides me with everything I need to have in order to order some microfilms. I clicked on the link at the bottom:


Here is the list of records available at the FHL. There is a General Index to the papers, early to 1900, on microfilm 0,894,445, Item 3. Then there is a list of the boxes that contain all of the probate case files. There are 100 items on this page, and 312 total on successive pages. Here is the bottom of the first page of case files:


I can click on the "Next Film Notes" link to see the next 100 items. I clicked on it, and scrolled to the bottom of the page to see down to Box M case files:




I've been in these files before - years ago I checked out all of the SMITH files in these records hoping to find some indication of the parents of Ranslow Smith. I had no luck with that. Now I want the L names in the L boxes, but there are 10 films with L case files, so I need to check the index first.

I have the microfilm 0,894,445 at my local FHC already, since I ordered it two weeks ago for the Guardianship files, which are Item 4 on the microfilm. I reviewed it today and found no Lamphier (or alternate spellings). The General Index to the Estate Papers is Item 3 on that microfilm, and I looked at that today also and found several Lamphier Box numbers (but not case file numbers) identified:

* Allen Lanfear - Box L.6
* Hiram Lamphear - Box L.7
* George N. Lamphere - Box L.7
* Isaac Lamfear - Box L.8
* Latham Lanfear - Box L.19
* Abel Lampher - Box L.19
* Nancy Lanphear - Box L.19

So it looks like I need to order microfilms 527,036; 527,037; and 527,039. Note the six different spellings of the last name on that list of 7 names!

I will write about my findings when I have reviewed the contents of the case files.

I hope that this exercise in finding specific record collections has been helpful. It gets a bit complicated, but with patience and help from knowledgeable researchers, it can be figured out and the resources used without having to go to, or hire someone in, Salt Lake City. It would be faster to do it in SLC, of course!

That was fun! I always enjoy figuring out complicated things. No genea-gasms yet - hopefully they will come later!

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Finding FHL Resources

It's almost Saturday Night (SN) - and time for our weekly Genealogy Fun (GF)!

I spent most of the day at the San Diego Family History Center reading three microfilms that I ordered two weeks ago in my effort to solve my Devier J. Lamphear (1839?-1894) mystery - I want to know who his parents are.

On the drive home, I asked myself "what genealogy fun can we have tonight?" and the immediate answer was "why should I have all the fun? I'll help my earnest and dedicated readers advance their genealogy by delving into the LDS Family History Library Catalog (FHLC)." Does that sound like fun? Actually, it really doesn't, does it? But I promise you that if you pursue this tonight you will set the stage for Genea-gasms galore in the next months as you use the FHLC in your research.

In order to help those who have never used the FHLC before, I wrote the Using the LDS Family History Library Catalog post this afternoon. You can use that as a step-by-step procedure to get you to the county of your choice.

Here is the "assignment" for tonight's SNGF:

1. Identify one "elusive ancestor" family (perhaps one you just found, or one you've not found any information about), and the county/state that they resided in. Tell us the family name and the county/state.

2. Go to the FHL Catalog, find the resources for that county/state.

3. Identify at least three items from the FHL Catalog that you need to look into in an effort to further your knowledge about that family's history. Tell us about them.

4. Do you know where your nearest Family History Center is? If not, go here and look for it. Tell us where it is.

5. Are you willing to make a commitment to go to the FHC and rent microfilms in order to pursue that elusive ancestral family? If so, tell us about your commitment.

And later on, when you've reviewed the microfilms and information, you can tell us all about your research findings in a separate post.

I urge each of you to make regular visits to the Family History Library Catalog in your genealogy research, and to use the resources at the FHL/FHCs to further your research. The results may well be many genea-gasms ... hey, genea-gasms are really a lot of fun!!

Using the LDS Family History Library Catalog

....
When I work with genealogy enthusiasts in my local society, and I ask them "how many of you have used the Family History Library Catalog in the past year," I'm always surprised by how few persons are even aware of this resource.

Acting on the premise that "you can tell people what they should do, but then you have to show them how to do it" (which applies to many of my society colleagues, it seems), I've prepared this short, illustrated post on how to get to the FHL Catalog from a standing start. Be patient, there's a method to this madness...

Put www.FamilySearch.org in your web browser address bar, and tap your Enter keyboard button. The old (soon-to-be "classic") FamilySearch home page comes up:



Put your mouse on the "Library" tab on the menu bar, and scroll down to the "Library Catalog" item on the menu, as shown above. click on "Library Catalog." This screen appears.


There are several choices on this page. I wanted to perform a "Place Search" so I clicked on that button and this Search screen appeared:


I entered Place = "Jefferson" and Part of = "New York" because I wanted to search for resources for Jefferson County, New York.


There are three places with Jefferson in their place names in New York. I clicked on the first one that said "New York, Jefferson" and this web page came up (two screens, they overlap a bit):



Here is a set of links for all of the holdings concerning Jefferson County, New York at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City - books, microfilms, microfiches, etc. By clicking on one of the subject links, the user can see what is available.

If you find something that you want to review, then you have several choices:

* You can rent microfilms and microfiches from a local Family History Center for a modest fee and review the information at the FHC when it comes in (usually one to three weeks).

* You can travel to Salt Lake City to review the item.

* You can hire someone in Salt Lake City to review the item for you.

Please note: Very few of these items are online at this time. The stated goal of the Family History Library is to digitize the images of the records in the FHL, then index them, and make them available to genealogy researchers. This effort is ongoing, but it's going to take many years to image and index all of the records.

While the FHL Catalog is online through www.FamilySearch.org,, the typical search engines do not find these resources because they are buried deeply in the web site and require the FHLC search engine to find them. However, in the not too distant future, the www.GenSeek.com web site will contain the Family History Library Catalog items (at a minimum, the list of what's available, with a link to the item if it has been digitized). The powers that be at FamilyLink.com keep saying that GenSeek is coming soon - I hope so! I'm guessing that it will be announced at the National Genealogical Society conference in Raleigh NC in May.

I use the LDS Family History Library Catalog extensively in my own genealogical research. Everyone should be using it. I you are not, please give it a long tryout - you may solve many brickwall elusive ancestor problems using these more traditional genealogy resources.

Dad was a Civil War Soldier

There is a front-page article in today's San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper titled "Dad was a veteran - of the Civil War" by John Wilkens.

The article tells the story of John Harwood Pierce, born in 1848, who enlisted at a young age, survived the war, was an interesting character, married five times, and had five children. His youngest child, Stella Mae Case, is now age 90, married for 73 years, and lives in the San Diego area. Stella's daughter, Barbara, researched her grandfather's life and provided the information to her mother. Barbara said:

"Barbara Case didn't know about any of that when she started her research about 15 years ago. 'Mostly I did it out of love for my mother,' she said. 'I wanted to fill in the pieces for her.'"

Barbara has created a web site that documents the life and work of her grandfather - at www.bushwah.com/names/jpierce.htm. It is a fascinating life story. I urge my readers to visit it and read it. Mr. Pierce was also a poet, including A Ranger's Biography, written in 1890. A stanza near the end seems to sum up his life:

"But could I tell of all my days
And what was done and said
You'll ponder o'er my devious ways,
And the wondrous life I've led.


"A life that has been like my rhyme,
Rude, broken, changing, wild
My lines were cast in storming tones
And I misfortune's child."


The newspaper article mentions the hereditary organizations for the sons and daughters of Civil War soldiers, and quotes my CVGS colleague, Susan Zimmer, saying:

"'I always feel like you owe something to these ancestors,' said Susan Zimmer, president of the local Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War branch, which celebrated its 100th anniversary earlier this week. 'They did something that was pretty brave, went through some pretty terrible times. I think we need to respect that.'"

It's great to see genealogy research, and hereditary organizations, mentioned favorably in the daily newspaper, and even to find another distant cousin (since John Harwood Pierce has at least New England Pierce, Adams and Harwood ancestry - as I do).

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 2: Editing Person Data

....
I downloaded the free RootsMagic 4 beta release in early March, and easily uploaded my Family Tree Maker file to it. In this series, I'm looking at different features of RootsMagic 4. I'm not doing a comprehensive review, just looking at features important to me. Previous posts in this series include:

* Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 1: Navigation

Note that RootsMagic 4 can import a database from the earlier RootsMagic 1-3, Family Origins, Family Tree Maker, Legacy, Personal Ancestral File and GEDCOM formats.

Using my uploaded GEDCOM file, I chose my great-grandfather, Frank Walton Seaver to demonstrate how to edit information about a person. Here is the "Family" View:


Frank Seaver is highlighted in blue. Double-clicking on him, the "Edit Person" screen opens:



The Name field is highlighted, and the Person information on the right of the box can be changed. The user can add a nickname, a prefix, a suffix or check the "living" box. Below this edit area are buttons for Note, Sources, Media, Address and To-Do. General notes for the person are associated with the person's name. There is a mini-word processor capability in the Note area - the user can do some formatting by Cut, copy, Paste, Bold, Italics, Underline, Find, Replace, Spell Check, Thesaurus and Character Map. This is pretty neat.

You can see on the screen above that there are green check marks in the Source column for the birth, marriage and death facts. The user can add notes and media for these facts also.

I highlighted the Marriage fact and I could edit the Marriage information if I chose:



On the screen above, I clicked on the "Sources" button and saw:

My source is a place-holder at this point. I need to edit it using the Source Citation tools provided in RootsMagic 4. I will show this operation in a future post.

When all the editing of a Person's information is complete, the user clicks on the "Close" button and is back to the "Family" View screen (or whatever screen the user was on when s/he double-clicked the person in the first place).

This operation is very easy and intuitive to someone with some experience in genealogy software. The icons used for Note, Sources and Media are easy to get used to.

In the next post, I will try to add a child to this family to demonstrate the process.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Footnote.com's Great Depression Collection - Post 3: Footnote Pages Details

In Post 1: First Views, I discussed the new www.Footnote.com Great Depression collection. The centerpiece of this collection is the 1930 United States Census. In Post 2:The 1930 Census, I searched for my father in the 1930 US Census and showed the Search process and results.

On the last screen of Post 1, the popup box has a "View Person Page" link. I clicked on the link, and the Footnote Page for Frederick W. Seaver, based on the 1930 US Census information, appeared (two screens):



Note that there is a timeline (with significant events and my father's events), a listing of Facts for this person (two sets - one for the person and one for the 1930 census, but they can be edited), a map of the location in the 1930 US census, an area for stories and comments, and links for "Related Pages" and "inks."

I had already added to the Footnote Page for my father when Footnote created a page based on the Social Security Death Index information. I wanted to merge the two footnote Pages into one, if possible.

I clicked on the "Add Page" button by the "Related Pages" area, and a dialog box opened. I entered my father's name in the "Search for a person" area:

I clicked on the "Search Footnote Pages" button and this dialog box opened:

That is the page that Footnote created previously and that I added information to. I clicked on my dad's name and this dialog box appeared:




I clicked on the button for "Is Same Person." That added each Footnote Page to the other Footnote Page in the "Related To" area.

There are still two Footnote Pages and I don't think that there is any way to merge them, at least not yet.

I'm not quite sure how to attach the 1930 US Census page to the Footnote Page - other than to Save the census image to my hard drive, and then upload it to the Footnote Page. I could upload it to both of them.

I am a BIG fan of Footnote Pages. They are a form of wiki where people can view them, edit them, and add to them in a collaborative way. With Footnote Pages created from the SSDI, the World War II enlistments and now the 1930 US Census, there must be close to 200 million Footnote Pages just waiting for all of us to work on them.

Before I add more information about my ancestors to the Footnote Pages created from the 1930 US Census, I want to wait to see if Footnote.com can find a way to combine the Pages created from the three different "seedings." I have several more generations of people in the 1930 US Census and can add to the created Footnote Pages.

I encourage other researchers to add information to, or create, Footnote Pages for their ancestors and relatives. It's a great way to add content, and can serve as a photo repository that should endure for awhile.

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 1: Navigation

I promised to show some screen shots from the RootsMagic 4 beta release several weeks ago, and dropped the ball due to, well, um, memory? Since then, I did download the first fix to the beta release which made the Reports work better.

I'm not going to do a 25-part series on RootsMagic 4 - but I will hit some of my high points and concerns. After I uploaded my GEDCOM file to the program, I took a look at navigating in the program. There are five ways to navigate from one person to another:

* "Pedigree" View tab - of the highlighted person
* "Family" View tab - of the highlighted person
* "Descendants" View tab - of the highlighted person
* "People" view tab - the list of persons in the database
* The Name Index on the left side of the screen

Here is the screen after clicking the "Family" view tab (just above the green background) for one of my families:


At the top is the person highlighted in blue in the family below, with his/her birth, death and marriage data. In the middle area, the father and mother, with their birth, marriage and death data, are shown, with their parents to the right. In the area below the parents are the children of the couple. To the left is the index of persons in the database.

The user can navigate to a child's family by clicking the red arrow to the left of the child's name. The user can navigate to one of the parents by clicking on the red arrow to the right of the parent's name. The user could also navigate to a person in the name list on the left.

Clicking on the "Pedigree" view tab brings up a five generation pedigree chart with the highlighted person in the #1 position.

Navigation in the "Pedigree" view is by the name list on the left or the red arrow to the right of the person's in the fifth generation on the right side.

Clicking on the "Descendants" view tab shows the descendants of the highlighted person:


To navigate to a person's family on the descendants list, click on the person once to highlight him/her, and then click on the "Family" tab.

Clicking on the "People" view tab brings up an alphabetical list of the persons in the database:


The user can scroll up or down in the list of persons and then highlight a person and click one of the other tabs to navigate to that person.

There is one other Tab on that top line of navigation tabs - the "Web Search" tab. I clicked on "Web Search" and then the drop down list to see what genealogy databases RootsMagic 4 can search:



The web sites that RootsMagic 4 searches include:

* Ancestry ($$)
* Ancestry Message Boards
* Family Search
* Find a Grave
* Footnote ($$)
* Genealogy Bank ($$)
* Google
* Live Search
* Rootsweb
* WorldVitalRecords ($$)
* Yahoo!

I think that this list is the longest of any of the major genealogy software programs at this time. I selected FamilySearch, pressed the Search button (top right) and the results from the "classic" FamilySearch appeared in the center panel (this was pretty quick - 2 seconds?):


On the right side of the screen is a list of the databases that the FamilySearch site searched - the Ancestral File, IGI and Pedigree Resource File. For other web searches, the center panel looks pretty much like the web site selected. There is an "Auto-Search" box just above the Search button (top right) that searches the web site you have selected when you click on "Web Search" tab. The user can navigate forward and backward in the Web Search panel using the green left and right arrows on the top left side of the search panel.

There are many other features to be explored in RootsMagic 4. I cannot show all of them in a short series of posts.

In the next post, I will explore how to edit and/or add information to an existing person, and how to add a new person to the database.

Is MyLife.com useful to genealogists?

Ancestry.com removed their United States Public Records Index with current names, and other information from their database offerings this week. Their new Public Records Index database page says:

"If you are looking to connect with living people, you can find current public information and more than 700 million profiles on MyLife.com."

I promised to evaluate it last week and have finally found the time to post my findings. Just how good is the http://www.mylife.com/ "people finder" database?

Here is the home page for http://www.mylife.com/. I have a FREE account. A premium account costs $5 per month (with a year's subscription) or $12 per month (for a three month subscription) - these are reduced rates:


A Search box for a person is right at the top center of the page - the user can input First Name, Last Name, Age, and State. In the left column, under the "Find Everyone" heading, is the opportunity to input your own hometown and state. In the right hand column, you can start your own family tree by inputting the names of your father and mother, which takes you to the Ancestry Member Tree page (which is free to input data). In the center column titled "All in One Place" is a chance to find out "Who is Searching For You," "People We Found For You," "Find Everyone You Know" and "Your Contacts."

Everybody needs to be careful with the "Find Everyone You Know" section - if you permit MyLife to access your email address book(s), then everyone in your address books will receive an email saying that you were looking for them and asking if they want to add their data to MyLife.com also.

I resisted doing everything on this page except for entering my own name, age and state into the Search Box to see what sort of information it provided about me. I tried doing this without the Age, and it would not let me search without an age. Here are the Search results for my criteria:



Two matches - both mine. Name, age, city/state and friends/family are offered. Neither one lists any other persons in the family. There are links for "View profile," "Send email," and "Connect for Free." I clicked on the "View Profile" for the first item to see what information is in the database:


Whoa. It offers nothing more for FREE. In order to see what additional information I have to subscribe and give them my credit card number. There is a handy list on the right that defines what each type of subscription offers:

For the FREE subscription, the user gets:

* Get Alerts When People Search For You
* Get Updates on Friends' Activities
* Share/Post Photos
* Create a Profile to Help People Find You
* Search for Anyone

For the PAID subscription, the site offers these additional features:

* See Who's Searching For You
* Find Out Who Is Trying to Reach You
* See Who's Visited Your Profile
* Get Ongoing Monitoring with Search Scout
* Get Expanded Search Scout Results
* Get Alerts on New Search Results
* View Expanded Personal Profiles
* Leave Comments and Messages
* Send Private Emails
* View Photo Albums
* Get free credit to purchase contact info

Well, aren't those features really special? I'm pretty underwhelmed.

Back to the Results screen, I clicked on the "Send Email" link and this email opened up (note my identifier in the header):


I filled in the form with an appropriate note and sent it off to myself. That was several days ago. I checked my new "Inbox" today (on the first page) and it is empty. I think it's because I'm not a paid subscriber.

I made searches for:
* My name Randall Seaver, which is what is in the phone books. It did not find any person with that name in CA.
* My wife: it found her in Chula Vista with my daughters names listed also, but not mine.
* My brothers: it found them in the places they live with their last two wives listed.
* My deceased mother: It didn't find her at all.

My conclusions about the FREE side of www.MyLife.com as a "people finder" tool:
* It might find living people with an approximate age in the city they currently live in. But then, it might not.
* It might find other residents of the household, but they might be wrong and/or incomplete.
* This is not a very good FREE People Finder service.

Obviously, I cannot determine if the PAID side of the web site will do a better job of finding living people and providing an address and a phone number (which is what Ancestry.com's Public Records Index did).

My opinion is that there are better People Finder web sites that can provide names, addresses, phone numbers, household members and ages than the FREE side of www.MyLife.com. For my genealogy research purposes, the free side of MyLife.com is pretty useless.

"Social Networking for Genealogists" book by Drew Smith

I just saw a tweet on Twitter about Drew Smith's new book, Social Networking for Genealogists, from Genealogical Publishing Company. The description says (in part):

"This book describes the wide array of social networking services that are now available online and highlights how these services can be used by genealogists to share information, photos, and videos with family, friends, and other researchers. Each chapter guides you through a unique category of social networking services using genealogy-related examples. From blogs and wikis to Facebook and Second Life, author Drew Smith shows you how to incorporate these powerful new tools into your family history research.

"Specifically, you'll find chapters devoted to the following social networking concepts and services:

"* Blogs
* Collaborative editing
* Genealogy-specific social networks
* General social networking (Facebook)
* Message boards & mailing lists
* Photos & video sharing
* Podcasts
* RSS feeds
* Sharing personal libraries
* Tags
* Virtual worlds
* Wikis"


That about covers it!! I'm going to order it today and see what I've been missing out on. But I'm wondering if I have any more time in my day to spend on all the things in this book that I'm not doing.

CSI Alaska - The Van Zandt Case DNA details

I posted about The Severed Arm and Hand Mystery back in August 2008, which covered the publicity surrounding the identification of Francis Van Zandt as the person whose body parts were found in an airplane crash in Alaska back in 1947. In my post, I lamented the fact that the role of the forensic genealogists was not explained and that I would love to learn about the research process involved.

Colleen Fitzpatrick, who has the Forensic Genealogy web site and is a principal in the Identifinders International company, passed along a link to a Scientific American article titled CSI Alaska: Air crash victim identified after 60 years published 26 March 2009. The article describes the search for a match to the mitochondrial DNA extracted from the body parts.

Read the article for all of the details. There's a fascinating twist to the discovery of an mtDNA match - it wasn't that easy. I love stories like this that show the real benefits of forensic genealogy.

Why do they do this? The article ends with:

"Fitzpatrick said that the experience can help identify the bodies of fallen soldiers from past wars. 'The reason we do this,' she said, 'is to make sure that there is no more Unknown Soldier.'"

Well done!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Footnote.com's Great Depression Collection - Post 2: The 1930 US Census

...
In Post 1: First Views, I discussed the new www.Footnote.com Great Depression collection. The centerpiece of this collection is the 1930 United States Census. I did a little searching for my "peeps" in the 1930 census today to see how easy it was to search and navigate.

I put my father's name in the Search box on the 1930 census screen:



There were only 3 matches for the exact name I input. When I ran the mouse over something, a big black box appeared in the center of the screen (when I came back to this page a minute ago, the box didn't pop up, I wonder if it happens for only the first time a user accesses the 1930 census?):



The box tells you that you can narrow your search by selecting one of the items in the left-hand sidebar - the items are first name, age, place, county, ED, state, estimated birth year, family number and sheet number.


There were three matches on the page. The second one was my father, at age 18 living with his family in Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts. I clicked on his name:


The census page appears in the frame - you can use the scroll bar to see more of the page. You can run your mouse over the page and see the indexed name and a "More Info" link. If you carefully click on the "More Info" link, you can see all of the indexed information for the person in a popup box:



In this case, the indexed information in the popup box included the name, the family number, the age, and the estimated birth year. On the right side of the popup box is the "What's been added" area with links for "View Person Page," "Add an Image," "Add a Comment," "Add a Story," and "Add a Related Person Page."

In the right-hand sidebar is the source citation. For this census image it includes:

"Publication Number: T626
Publication Title: Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930
Content Source: NARA
Census Year: 1930
State: Massachusetts
County: WORCESTER
Browse Description: LEOMINSTER CITY, WARD 5
Enumeration District: 14-226
Description: LEOMINSTER CITY, WARD 5 (PART), BOUNDED BY (N) CITY LIMITS; (E) ABBOTT AVE.; (S) BLOSSOM, WALNUT, ARLINGTON, MERRIAM AVE., VINE; (W) WEST.
Sheet Number: 3a"

Not only are all of the source citation elements provided, but the boundaries of the Enumeration district are provided.

After this morning's post, I went back into Footnote.com to see if the really wild "wild card" worked for every database and not just for the 1930 US Census. It appears that it does. That is really good news for desperate researchers who cannot find their families in the census records. I'm going to look for the elusive Robert Leroy Thompson using the really wild "wild cards."

In the next post, I will explore the Footnote Page created from the 1930 US Census database, and try to connect this image to the Footnote Page that I previously created for my father from the SSDI Footnote Page back in September.

"New" U.S. Public Records Index on Ancestry.com

....
I lamented the loss of the "old" United States Public Records Index (US PRI) yesterday in my post here. This "old" US PRI had records from about 2000 to the present time, and was useful in finding the address and phone number of living people.

In their Ancestry.com blog post last week, Ancestry.com stated that the "New" United States Public Records Index would provide records from 1950 into the early 1990's.

Here is my first look at the "new" US Public Records Index. The Search box for the specific database looks like:



I input my own name (given name = rand*, surname = seaver) in the search box and clicked on Search. The list of matches appeared:




There were 18 matches, including myself. If I run the mouse over my name, the popup box shows some information. I clicked on my name and the detail information summary appeared:



It lists my birth month and year, my address in 1993 and a former address (it says 1972). I was curious about the database details, so I clicked on the "Learn more..." link in the Description box. This page appeared:



Too much detail for you to read clearly, I guess. The important parts of it say:

"Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S. Public Records Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009. Original data: Merlin Data Publishing Corporation, comp. Historical Residential White Page, Directory Assistance and Other Household Database Listings. Merlin Data Publishing Corporation, 215 South Complex Drive, Kalispell, MT 59901.

"About U.S. Public Records Index

"The U.S. Public Records Index is a compilation of various public records spanning all 50 states in the United States from 1935 to 1993. Entries in this index may contain the following information: name, street or mailing address, telephone number, birth date or birth year. For more information about this database,
click here.

"The U.S. Public Records Index is a compilation of various public records spanning all 50 states in the United States from 1935 to 1993. These records are all accessible to the general public by contacting the appropriate agency.

"What types of public records have been utilized to create the U.S. Public Records Index?

White pages
Directory assistance records
Marketing lists
Postal change-of-address forms
Public record filings
Historical residential records

"Please note the following important details about the U.S. Public Records Index:

"People under the age of 18 are not listed in this index.
Because of the historical nature of this index, individuals may be listed in households with prior co-habitants, spouses, etc."

What I noticed while browsing through this database is that:

* There appears to be only one entry for each name. Even though I've resided at my present address since 1975, there is only one entry. There is one entry for my mother (in 1993), and two for Barack Obama (one in 1988 in MA, the other in 1993 in Chicago) - because he had a different middle name in the two entries.

* If there are records for a former address with the same name, a yellow triangle appears by the record and it is listed as another possible place with an earlier year noted.

* I don't see records of known deceased persons, such as my grandparents Carringer who died in 1976/7. Or John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, etc.

* The user can put in a street address, city and state to find occupants of a certain location. The user can input just a street and see a list of names and addresses.

* To narrow a search for a common name, the user can input a birth year and variances. However, if the record did not have a birth year, no match will occur.

Is this database complete, or is there more to come? I'm always a "glass half full" type of guy. My hope was that this database would at least show multiple entries for the same person.

Genealogists want to track a person or a family through time - to know where they were every year, not just in one or two years. This database, as it is presently constituted, provides one or two snapshots in time for a given person. These can be helpful to identify a location to continue a search in a city directory or other public records.

Footnote.com's Great Depression Collection - Post 1: First Views

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http://www.footnote.com/ has released their Great Depression Collection comprised of:

* Information on the Major Events of the 1930's
* The 1930 United States Census (indexes, images, annotations)
* Every Day Life and Major News


The Footnote.com press release announcing this major release can be read on Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter blog here. Dick also has an excellent description of some of the features in a separate commentary here. Diane Haddad posted additional information on her Genealogy Insider blog post here. I'm sure that other bloggers will publish the press release so I won't.

I am a paid www.Footnote.com subscriber, so I went this morning to see what this new set of databases looked like. The home page looks different:



The Great Depression collection is highlighted near the bottom of the home page. I clicked on the link for it:





These pages look so sad, don't they? There are three links on this page, and I visited each of them in turn. Here is the Major Events page:




Here is the 1930 United States Census search page:



Here is the Every Day Life and Major News page:




There are three important issues for genealogists using the 1930 U.S. Census collection release:

1. The user can search for individuals in the 1930 US Census using a given name and surname, including a wild card (*), and narrow the search using locality, state, county, ED, estimated birth year, family number and sheet number. The neat thing here is that the wild card can be used anywhere in the name!!! For example, I looked for my dad, Frederick Seaver, and he was listed if I used "fred* seaver," "fr* seaver," "*red* seaver," etc. This is a much more powerful wild card search than any other search engine.

2. When the user finds a person in the 1930 US Census, they can click on the person's census information and open a Footnote Page for that person. The user can then add vital record information, photographs, links, life events, stories, etc. to the person's Footnote Page. This extends Footnote Pages to more than 100 million more persons - those people that were included in the 1930 US Census. This is a powerful incentive for genealogy researchers to add to already created Footnote Pages.

3. If a person in the 1930 US Census, who now has a Footnote Page, already has a Footnote Page (for example, created from the SSDI Collection) the two Footnote Pages can be linked together, but cannot be merged (at least I couldn't make that happen).

Footnote.com did a very smart thing when they started Footnote Pages - they made it relatively easy for genealogists to add information about their family members and ancestral families. They "seeded" them with the Social Security Death Index in September 2008, and then with the World War II Enlistments in December 2008. That created over 90 million Footnote Pages. This 1930 US Census "seeding" creates more than 100 million more Footnote Pages.

My hope is that more people will add information to the existing Footnote Pages and create more of their own for the Ancestral Families. If this system of Footnote Pages catch on, they can become an excellent repository of documented genealogy research. Currently, the information added to a Footnote Page needs to be uploaded (photos, videos, links), or added by typing it in (vital records, life events, stories, although text can be cut and pasted from another source).

Stay tuned - in future posts, I will provide some step-by-step screens of using the 1930 Census on Footnote.com, the Footnote Page created by the 1930 Census seeding, and then try to link it to the previously created Footnote Page.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CVGS Program Summary - "Using Federal Non-Population Census Schedules"

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The Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS) program meeting today was presented by Everett Ireland CG on "Using Federal Non-Population Schedules." The talk description and Everett's CV are here. There were 30 persons in attendance today.

Everett's talk covered the mortality, agricultural, social and industrial/ manufacturing census schedules taken by the United States since 1790. He discussed why the Federal government used non-population census schedules, when and how they were taken, where to find the existing schedules, and the information that can be obtained from each type of schedule. His six-page handout included a bibliography, examples of census headings, and a great table showing which records are available for each state for the 1850 through 1885 censuses. Not every schedule is extant for every year for every state.

Everett noted that there are fragments of the 1810 Manufacturers Schedule available, most of the 1820 Manufacturers Schedule is available, the 1830 Manufacturers Schedule is not available, and much of the 1840 Industrial (mining, commerce, agricultural, fisheries) schedules are available. For the years 1850 to 1880, the Mortality, Agricultural, Social and Manufacturing schedules are available, but not for every year in every state. In 1880, there is a DDD Schedule for Defective, Dependent and Delinquent persons. The 1885 schedules were done for only seven recently added states and territories. He showed how the Agricultural Schedule could be used to determine how a certain individual's holdings grew or diminished over a 10-year period by comparing successive census records. The presence of both a Population Schedule and an Agricultural Schedule permitted some studies of error and omission rates. One study found that 12% of the records were omitted, misspelled or illegible.

Everett's words of wisdom were to not overlook the non-population schedule, they provide many clues and information, they are hard to find, but offer great rewards to the researcher.There are three books on Everett's bibliography that are available online:

* J.D.B. DeBow, The Seventh Census of the United States: 1850. Washington, D.C. Armstrong Printers, 1850.

* National Archives, Federal Nonpopulation Census Schedules.

* Carroll D. Wright and William C. Hunt, Senate Report, 1900. History and Growth of the United States Census. Washington, DC. GPO. 1900.

This was a helpful and informative program for all researchers in that it offered additional resources for those stymied by the lack of more traditional resources.

"Old" US Public Records Index gone from Ancestry.com

It looks like http://www.ancestry.com/ has taken the United States Public Records Index database down from their collection. They said one week ago that they would do this in an Ancestry.com blog post:

"... we will launch in the next week (or two) the first ever collection of U.S. Public Records (USPRI) database with more than 525 million names, addresses, ages, and possible family relationships of people who lived in the United States between roughly 1950 and 1990. This will be an invaluable tool in piecing together family stories and histories. This new addition will replace the current USPRI database on Ancestry which is mainly profiles of living people. This database is built from a variety of city directories and other public records."

The previous U.S. Public Records Index was for the time period of about 2000 to the present, although the user could never tell what years were included for a specific locality or a specific person. This database was one of the best ones for finding records of living people in my genealogy research when I was looking for my own relatives, or relatives of those researched in the Unclaimed Persons group on Facebook. I do wish that Ancestry.com had just "frozen" the previous U.S. Public Records Index and kept it in place as a historical record rather than remove it entirely from their collection.

There are other "people-finder" resources, however, including the http://www.mylife.com/ which Ancestry.com says they will provide links to at some point in time.

The question I have is whether the http://www.mylife.com/ database will be as efficient in searching for living people as the U.S. Public Records Index was. In my limited experience with the free side of http://www.mylife.com/, I don't think it will come close to providing the same level of information. I will do a comparison later this week of the two systems.

When will the new set of over 525 million names from the "new" U.S. Public Records Index for roughly the 1950 to 1990 time frame become available? Soon, I hope (the note above said one to two weeks). In fact, Gary Gibb wrote on the Ancestry.com blog today (see Comment #75):

"I just talked to the development team and they are in the process of replacing the recent USPRI collection with the historic USPRI collection. It will take a few hours because the new data collection is so large. The replacement actually takes several hours to process. You should be able to test the new database by late tonight (US time)."

These records may help many researchers find their close or distant relatives as they moved from place to place in the more mobile society after World War II, as people went through family upheavals caused by divorce and remarriage, and possible DNA test candidates in our distant cousins.

I look forward to browsing through the new set of records, which will add more records for the last half of the 20th century than we presently have online (I'm thinking only SSDI, some obituaries, some vital record indexes, and some public record indexes are available now).

Family Photographs - Post 48: Proud Grandpa!

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

This photograph is from my grandfather's photo album that I scanned during Scanfest in January:


This photograph was taken in late 1919 or early 1920, and shows my mother, Betty Virginia Carringer (born 30 July 1919) in the arms of her grandfather, Henry Austin Carringer (1853-1946). It was probably taken at the Lyle and Emily Carringer home at 2052 Harrison Street in San Diego.

Betty doesn't look too happy here - in fact, I don't think that I have any pictures of her as a smiling baby.

Austin had to wait 72 years to have a grandchild, and Betty was his only one. He looks very proud and content in this picture. Note the two-hand grip on the baby! I often wonder if Betty played with his bushy moustache and his glasses when she was a toddler.

Reasons Why Ancestry.com's City Directories are Incomplete

I ranted yesterday about discovering that the www.Ancestry.com City Directories for the 1935 to 1945 period were incomplete.

Reader Geolover commented twice on my post, saying:

1) "As John's post would suggest, the gaps and omissions are numerous throughout the database - that is, in many if not most locations. Ancestry bought microfilms and imaged them as-found. Ancestry did not regroup the images by specific Directory (place, year-edition), so it is difficult to determine what is missing without the tedious browsing such as what you did."

2) "Here is a response, from an Ancestry.com manager, to items regarding missing parts of the Directories: Chris Lydiksen, Ancestry.com, Posted on: March 16, 2009 at 9:04 am.

"Regarding situations where the first image shown is not the first page of the city directory (or where the last image is not the last page), our source for these directories filmed them with multiple directories on a single roll, or single directories on multiple rolls. There are thousands more city directories to come and as we release them and piece all the partials together, these instances will diminish."

The Ancestry.com blog thread referred to is U.S. Content Update: 1880 Census Images, 1935-1945 City Directories, Improved Obituaries Collection & Iowa State Census Fix . Read the reader comments and the responses from Chris Lydiksen also.

The City Directories 1935-1945 release announcement says:

"Over 2,000 1935-1945 city directories were added today. This is the first installment of directories from this time period to this database. Hundreds more will be added in coming months."

The implication is that what was released is "most" of them. The later statement that "the directories were obtained from microfilm rolls that had more than one, or only part of one, city directory and that there are thousands more coming" comforts me somewhat.

Will the complete run of San Diego City Directories from 1935 to 1945 be included when this collection is finished? I hope so. If so, at least all of the names in the directories will be indexed. I guess "patience" is the watchword again... still.

In a perfect database world, each City Directory would be a separate database, complete from the front cover to the back cover, with all of the pages in between. It is difficult to move around any of these directories using the image numbers (which is the only way to go from page 397 to page 735 for instance), or to cite them as sources (title pages are hard to find!).

It would really help if there was more explanation in the Ancestry.com press releases and blog posts that highlight how complete a database release is, and point out that there might be "holes" in a locality's directory collection. Being upfront about the limitations of the content, indexing or images would reduce some of the anger and frustration in the user community.

Thank you to Geolover for the useful comments.

SCGS Jamboree Program available

The Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) announced that the program for Jamboree 2009 is available as a PDF download for those who can't wait to see who is on the Second Annual Bloggers Panel, and the other presentations, over the June 26-28 weekend.

You can download the 16-page program here.

I'm going to be there, are you? I really look forward to live blogging the bloggers panel (I couldn't do it last year because I was on the panel) on Saturday morning, and the Face-to-Face Facebook meetup on Saturday evening. I'll have to study the program to see what else I'm going to attend. I noted that there are many notable genealogists presenting at this Jamboree that I haven't met yet, and I look forward to hearing their work.

The SCGS Jamboree is the premier genealogy event in southern California. The price is reasonable (especially if you commute), the speakers are excellent, and the exhibits are great.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

1941-1948 San Diego City Directories on Ancestry.com are incomplete

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In some free moments today, I went exploring in the 1941-1948 San Diego City Directories recently added on http://www.ancestry.com/.

I input my father's name, expecting to see entries for each year. Nope. I input my mother's name and expected to see every year. Nope. They were in the 1943-1945 set, but not any others. Hmmm, what's happening here?

You can see what is in each collection by following the links at the top of the Ancestry.com screen. Here is the screen shot for U.S > City Directories > California > San Diego:


It looks like there are directories for 1941-1942, 1943-1945, and 1945-1948. I clicked on the 1941-1942 link, and the first image is:



This Image #1 is page 1230 of the 1941 San Diego City Directory. It is the middle of the Business pages. After these pages come the other county city listings. The last image in this 1941 directory is #215 (I think).

Image #216 is page 5 of the 1942 San Diego City Directory:



The pages up to the last image in this Image Set contain the entire San Diego City Directory (but not the other cities in the county). The last image in this Image Set is #1368, which is page 1198 of the 1942 City Directory - the S listing of street addresses:


Where are the rest of the Street lists and the listings for the other county cities? I went back and clicked on the 1943-1945 set. The first image was of page 881 of the 1943 San Diego City Directory:



Image #1 is the T surname listings of the 1943 San Diego City listings. The 1943 directory ends at Image #899.

The 1944-5 directory starts at Image #903. The last image in this set is #1377, which is page 500 of the San Diego City surnames.

Moving on to the 1945-1948 directory, Image #1 is page 1736 of the Business listings of the 1944-1945 directory. Image #311 is page 2044, the end of the 1944-1945 directory.

Image #312 is page x of the 1947-1948 directory. This image set goes to Image #1344 which is page 1032 (the S Surnames in San Diego City).

It is apparent to me that the San Diego City Directories are woefully incomplete in the current Image Sets. There are "holes" between:

** page 1199 to the end of the 1942 directory.
** page 1 to page 880 of the 1943 directory.
** page 501 to page 1735 of the 1944-1945 directory.
** page 1033 to the end of the 1947-1948 directory.

No wonder I couldn't find my folks in every year! This collection of 1940's City Directories is FAU if they are not complete!

{Rant on]

So WTF happened here? Is this a problem with the microfilms that the Ancestry images were copied and indexed from? Or is it a quality control problem where whole sections of available city directories were ignored? Or were put in some other file that I can't find?

Whatever it is, it needs to either be explained or fixed, preferably the latter. If it cannot be fixed, then the "holes" in the records should be identified and published along with the database explanations so that customers are not mislead into thinking that their family members didn't live where they thought they lived.

Is this only a San Diego problem, or is it endemic to all of the other 1940's era City Directories recently added to the Ancestry.com collection? I urge other bloggers interested in this 1940s-era set of City Directories to do a similar exercise for their area. I'm too POed to do it for another area - it will be NVA for me, anyway.

Why can't an entire City Directory be included in one Image Set? In other words - start with the front cover and end with the back cover, and include all pages in between? None of the San Diego directories I looked at had a front cover or back cover filmed, and didn't have some of the front pages either. This is incomprehensible to me - but then I'm an engineer who tries to think logically and to figure out "how would I do this?"

[I've used some abbreviations above - they are engineer-speak ... email me at rjseaver@cox.net if you want a translation! Maybe we can make my abbreviations a SNGF item? Then your blog could also be PNG at the FHL!] [Rant off]