Saturday, January 1, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Your Very Best 2010 Research

It's Saturday Night again (I know, you just celebrated New Year's Eve - are you home for the night?) -- time for some Genealogy Fun (what else is there?)!!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Decide which of your (many?) genealogy research adventures was your "very best" (your definition). 

2)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Status report or comment on Facebook. 

Here's mine:

Without a doubt, it was the Jane Whittle Ancestry problem.  It is described in a series titled The Whittle Research Compendium. 

The catalyst for this research effort was the 1852 California State Census on  I found Rachel "Wadle" with three children including my wife's great-grandmother, Jane born in 1847 in Australia on the census.  From there, several Genea-Musings readers helped me with Australian and English records, and before I knew it I knew the correct names for Jane's parents, their marriage and baptisms, etc.  It was an exciting two months of online and repository research for me, and an excellent example of how a genealogy blog can facilitate research. 

I enjoyed sharing this adventure with my wife and her brother over the Christmas holidays.  To top it off, Linda's brother pulled out some unidentified photographs and portraits, and we figured out that they were Elijah and Jane (Whittle) McKnew!

2011 Genealogy Goals and Objectives

No, silly, I don't have 2,011 specific goals and objectives for the next just seems like I do sometimes.

While I haven't yet tallied up my success at meeting the 2010 set of Goals, I know that I have major FAILs and a few significant successes. 

Plunging on, here are the stated goals and objectives for 2011 (which look quite similar to 2010 and 2009):

1) Research

* Go to the local FamilySearch Center and local/regional libraries more often in order to pursue ancestral information.
* Go to at least one major genealogy repository (e.g., FHL, ACPL, NEHGS) and do research over several days.
*  Keep up-to-date to-do lists for research challenges and up-to-date research logs for significant research tasks.
* Concentrate on brickwall ancestors, but spend time finding family history information for known ancestors.
* Update the Seaver/Carringer/Vaux family database using recently added/updated data collections on Ancestry, FamilySearch, Footnote, GenealogyBank, etc.

2) Data Organization

* Convert items in computer file folders into couple-based digital file folders, including photographs and documents, using systematic file naming protocols.
* Continue weeding out extraneous paper from bookcase binders, and enter useful sourced data into genealogy database.
*  Sort the Carringer/Auble/Smith and Seaver/Richmond paper photograph collections into useful and accessible albums, determine if photos they have been scanned and blogged, and scan the ones that haven't been scanned before or were poorly scanned previously.

3) Genealogy Database

* Continue adding source citations for unsourced information in my database (with author, title, publisher, date, page, comments, etc.).
*  Add specific page numbers to existing source citations.
* Critically evaluate genealogy facts for ancestral families relative to authoritative published material.

4) Education

* Attend at least two genealogy conferences (or cruises) in 2011.  I'm hoping for SCGS Jamboree in Burbank, California and FGS Conference in Springfield, Illinois.
*  Participate in more  bloginars and webinars.
* Obtain or borrow genealogy resource and how-to books of interest.

5) Society Activities

* Attend CVGS, CGSSD and SDGS society programs and seminars.
* Lead CVGS research group effectively.
* Be an outstanding editor of monthly Chula Vista Genealogical Society Newsletter.
*  Keep the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog full of news and information helpful to CVGS members.
* Contribute articles to SDGS and CGSSD newsletters.
* Respond to research queries received by CVGS and CV library.
* Help society colleagues and friends with their research if requested.

6) Speaking and Teaching

* Speak to at least five different local and regional genealogical societies in 2011
* Teach three adult education "Beginning Computer Genealogy" classes for OASIS (4 sessions each, 8 hours total each class)
*  Teach at least one "Genealogy 101" beginners class (4 sessions, 8 hours total) for CVGS
* Speak at local libraries and service groups about genealogy and family history.

7) Writing

* Blog a bit... on Genea-Musings, The Geneaholic, the South San Diego County Graveyard Rabbit, and the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blogs.
* Produce four "Genealogy 2.0" columns for the Federation of Genealogical Societies FORUM magazine.
* Produce four "Digging for Answers" columns for the Online Graveyard Rabbit Journal.
* Publish Volume 24 of the Seaver-Richmond Family Journal (16 pages) in December for the extended family.

8) Real Life

* Take my wife on at least one long vacation trip - perhaps to the Midwest in late summer to attend FGS, and visit Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin family history sites, and hopefully Allen County Public Library.
* Visit our daughters and grandchildren, our brothers and their families, and our cousins and their families, more often in order to make more family history and spread the joy of genealogy research around [yeah, right... they might even read the yearly Family Journal].
*  Exercise more!  Lose weight!  Eat fewer goodies!  Dream on...
* Limit genealogy activities to no more than 10 hours a day... [who put that in? Linda, do you know how to edit this? At least it doesn't say 3 hours]

More of the same, eh?  It's a full plate.  Who knows what life will bring in 2011.  Stuff happens.  I'll adapt.  Or not... 

The beauty of goals and objectives is that they can be changed at a moment's notice.  I am not chained by these goals - they are only guidelines.  You can be sure that if I have a major, unplanned breakthrough through hard work, serendipity or the kindness of others that I'll follow that path. 

I look forward to 2011 - to celebrating my fifth year of genea-blogging, to meeting many more Genea-Musing readers and geneablogging colleagues, to talking with representatives of genealogy companies, to sharing my knowledge and expertise with the genealogy community.

Happy New Year 2011!

I want to wish all of my readers a very Happy New Year in 2011. 

May 2011 bring you happiness, good health, many friends, lots of love and more time to pursue your genealogy addic.., er, passion.

May you complete all of your genealogy and family history goals and objectives (you do have them, don't you?) be satisfied and may extra genea-blessings be provided to you!  Have fun!!!

Friday, December 31, 2010

RootsTech 2011 Announces Keynote Speakers

For Immediate Release – December 31, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY—The RootsTech 2011 Conference announced its keynote speakers today. The national speakers reflect the conference’s focus on creating a forum where genealogy technology users can discover exciting new research tools and technology creators can learn the latest development techniques from industry leaders and pioneers. The conference will be held February 10–12, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Shane Robison, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy and Technology Officer for Hewlett-Packard Company. Mr. Robison is responsible for shaping HP’s corporate strategy and technology agenda and oversees the company’s corporate marketing function. He is instrumental in steering the company’s multibillion dollar research and development investment and leads the company’s merger and acquisition activities. He also has responsibility for worldwide corporate marketing activities, including brand strategy, internal and external communications, digital strategy and, environmental sustainability, social innovation, and customer intelligence

Brewster Kahle, Founder, The Internet Archive. A passionate advocate for public Internet access and a successful entrepreneur, Brewster Kahle has spent his career intent on a singular focus: making information free and accessible through digital means. Mr. Kahle created the Internet’s first publishing system and has helped revolutionize the electronic publishing market. Through the Internet Archive, Mr. Kahle is working to create an online catalog of every book ever created. At the same time, Mr. Kahle cofounded Alexa Internet, a service that collects data on web browsing behavior for future analysis. The services provided by Alexa Internet are used in more than 80 percent of web browsers today.

Curt Witcher, Historical Genealogy Department Manager, Allen County Public Library. Mr. Witcher’s success in community involvement, integration of technology in library science, and collaboration with various organizations has made him a highly visible individual in the genealogical community. His dynamic presentation style has made him a highly favored presenter among a wide variety of audiences. He is a member of the Genealogy Committee of the American Library Association and past president of the National Genealogical Society and of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. He is coeditor of the 1987 through 2000 editions of the Periodical Source Index and was a research consultant for both PBS Ancestors series.

Jay L. Verkler, CEO, FamilySearch International. Mr. Verkler currently serves as president and CEO of FamilySearch, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch has gathered the largest collection of genealogical records in the world. Operations include worldwide image and information collection, product and tools delivery, and patron services in over 4,600 family history centers around the world. Mr. Verkler previously served in various executive positions within innovative Silicon Valley companies such as Oracle Corporation, inCommon Inc., TIBCO Software, Vitria Technology, and Mr. Verkler studied electrical engineering, computer science, and chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as Japanese and Asian studies at Harvard University.

About RootsTech

RootsTech is a new conference designed to bring technologists together with genealogists so they can learn from each other and find solutions to the challenges faced in family history research today. The conference’s activities and offerings are focused on content that will help genealogists and family historians discover exciting new research tools while enabling technology creators to learn the latest development techniques from industry leaders and pioneers.

Media Contact Only
Paul Nauta
RootsTech 2011 Media Relations Chair

2010 Retrospective - My Top 10 Genealogy Highlights

Looking back over 2010, it seemed like a very full year of genealogy activity dominated by writing, teaching/speaking and database work.  The highlights, though, were other, more social events.  I will have other retrospective posts about blogging, but here are my Top 10 genealogy highlights for 2010:

10.  Speaking engagements at Chula Vista Genealogical Society, Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego, North San Diego County Genealogical Society, Escondido Genealogical Society, San Diego Jewish Genealogical Society, Corona Genealogical Society, North Orange County California Genealogical Society.  The real fun is meeting and getting to know researchers in other areas.

9.  Teaching "Beginning Computer Genealogy" classes at OASIS (a senior adult education service) in San Diego (ten students, four two-hour sessions each in February, June and October), two "Genealogy-Be An Ancestry Detective" talks at public libraries, teaching "Genealogy 101" for CVGS in May.

8.  Working in my local societies - I am Newsletter Editor (monthly, 10 pages) and Research/Queries Chair (answer queries and lead a monthly Research Group) for Chula Vista Genealogical Society, and write occasional articles for San Diego Genealogical Society and the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego newsletters.

7.  Writing four Genealogy 2.0 columns for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) FORUM Magazine.  This is an intellectual challenge each quarter to come up with a topic and cogent discussion of a Genealogy 2.0 topic.

6.  Solving the Jane Whittle parentage research problem.  The keys were the 1852 California Census on Ancestry, the Australian newspaper and vital records databases, the England to Australia immigrant information on FamilySearch, and the English Parish Records on FHL microfilm.

5.  Improving my genealogy database by eliminating name and date errors and duplications, adding master sources and source citations to many facts, and standardizing all of the place names.

4.  Having two-plus days to do genealogy research in the Family History Library during my trips to Salt Lake City in April and October. 

3.  Attending the Southern California Genealogical Society Genealogy Jamboree in June in Burbank.  Attending sessions, being on the Bloggers panel, walking the exhibit hall and meeting with other genealogy bloggers was terrific fun.

2.  Attending the Bloggers Day with in October in Salt Lake City.  This was an information-packed day, my highlights was meeting several genea-bloggers I had not met in person before and meeting many of the FamilySearch personnel. 

1.  Attending the National Genealogical Society Conference in Salt Lake City in April.  Attending sessions, walking the exhibit hall, meeting other genealogy bloggers, and seeing snow again were the highlights.

I wrote about all of those activities in my blogs - Genea-Musings, The Geneaholic (a daily journal), and the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe (the CVGS blog). 

On average, I spend about 8 hours each day writing, researching and reading about genealogy and family history research. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back to the Blogging Board...

We're home from our two week visit to see daughters, grandchildren and brothers...1600 miles up and down California and 6 rainy and cold days out of 11.  We stopped in Buellton CA last night at 9 p.m. and the hotel did not have internet service, and we got home at 3 p.m. today and I'm still working through about 70 saved emails and over 200 blogs in my Google Reader.

However, I continue to find blogs worthy of being included in a "Best of the Genea-Blogs" post, but I'm not doing one this Sunday.  So I'll do this to cover the last 40 hours or so:

Web 2.0 and Genealogy 2.0: Discover, Explore, Share by Claire Brisson-Banks on the  Blog.  Click the link for a summary of Genealogy 2.0. 

Looking back at 2010 by George on the Geni Blog.  Another company with a retrospective. 

Favorite Narrative Family History Books by Leslie Albrecht Huber on The Journey Takers blog.  Leslie shares her list - thanks!  I would add Leslie's book to the list.

*  Benjaman Kyle – Close Calls, Conclusion? by Colleen Fitzpatrick on the IdentiFinders Blog.   More on the fascinating search for Benjaman's identity. 

I Need Your Help! What free photo organizing product should I give away in January, 2011? by Sally J. Kitrchens on The Practical Archivist blog.  Sally has a freebie - contribute to her survey - you might win something nice!

The Archives Year in Review by Melissa Mannon on the ArchivesInfo blog.  Wow - what a post full of events that affected archives in the USA.

It’s New Year’s Resolution Time Again – Organize Your Work by Carolyn L. Barkley on the blog.  Excellent resources and helps.

This is much easier than doing a weekly post...maybe I'll just do this every day or two!

Dear Randy: looks backward and forward

I received a Dear Randy email from Tim Sullivan of  Here's the content:

It really has been an exciting year for family history. Today, there are millions of people making more discoveries about their unique family stories than ever before. All of us at are so pleased that you're part of our community – the world's largest online family history resource – and we value your passion and dedication to family history.

In 2010, we added more than one billion records focused on helping you make more discoveries about your family history. We made it easier to find 20th century relatives with our popular 1950 Census Substitute. We added naturalization records from 14 states and military records spanning 150 years, from Revolutionary War pension and bounty-land  applications to World War II prisoner of war records. And we continued to enhance some favorite records, U.S. Censuses, with new search fields (1790-1840) and crisper images and better indexes (1920).

We also worked hard to make it easier to search for and find all the amazing content on, with a redesigned search home page and forms, fields and wildcards to make searches more efficient.

Looking forward, I'm just as excited about 2011. We have fantastic new content collections like the following in the works.

From the United States:
• More naturalization records, 1795-1900s
• Improved 1930 U.S. Census
• More New York, Boston and Philadelphia passenger lists, 1820-1920
• More high school and college yearbooks, late 1800s-1900s
• More passport applications, 1906-1925
• Navy muster rolls, 1939-1948
• Confederate pension applications, late 1800s-early 1900s
• Index to early Pennsylvania land warrants, 1733-1987

From outside the United States:
• UK: London wills, 1600s-1800s
• Ireland: Improved Griffith's Valuation, 1847-1864
• UK: Parish registers, including West Yorkshire and Dorset, 1700s-1900s
• Germany: Brandenburg church records, 1700-1874
• UK: 1911 Census for England, Wales, Isle of Man and Channel Islands
• Sweden: Parish birth records, 1860-1937
• Canada: Voter records, 1935-1983
• Italy: Palermo birth and marriage records, 1820-1905

I hope you find something surprising, inspiring or intriguing in the coming year in one of these new collections – or in the hundreds of thousands of photographs and documents our nearly 1.4 million subscribers are uploading and sharing every week.

I'll say again that all of us at are incredibly excited about the coming year. I hope that we can help you continue your family history journey. I wish you many happy discoveries in 2011.
Best wishes,

Tim Sullivan
Chief Executive Officer

You can watch a short video of Tim Sullivan here.

The "What's Ahead" page on has been updated.  This page has several more databases listed to be updated or added than the ones on the list above.

For the record, there are currently 30,004 databases listed on the Card Catalog.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Some neat Genea-bloggers posts for today

I'm still away from home, so I won't have a Wordless Wednesday post about a family photograph today.  However, in my reading today, I was happy to find these posts that have excellent value to genealogy researchers:

A closer look at FamilySearch "Historical Record Collection" sources by GeneJ on the They Came Before blog.  The implication of this post is that using the FamilySearch Historical Collection source citation may not accurately reflect the actual original record source information. 

*   Putting My Affairs in Order by Tom Fiske on Leland Meitzler's GenealogyBlog blog.  Tom's trying to leave his genealogy work in a readable form, and describes his efforts.  Fortunately, for all concerned, the doctors keep winning and he keeps researching and writing. 

Five Biggest Genealogical Events of 2010 by Michael Leclerc on The Daily Genealogist blog.  Here's an interesting perspective from an "inside genealogy" guy.  I wish all of the companies would post articles like this to help the blog readers suffering from blog overload.  I think that our "genealogy in-basket" overflows!

A Year in Review - Legacy Family Tree in 2010 by Geoff Rasmussen on the Legacy News blog.  Geoff obliges with his month-by-month rundown of activities for the Legacy Family Tree software.  Does this mean that there won't be any hot news from LFT until 1 January?

That's enough for now - thanks folks for covering my lack of blogging by posting excellent blogs!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dear Randy:'s Shared Family Tree

While I'm still enjoying my holidays with the grandchildren, I've been getting lots of email. Here is one from

Dear Randall,

Geni’s mission is to create a shared family tree that connects all of our users. We wanted to share a little bit more about what this vision means and how we are going to get there.

For centuries, people have studied their family history in order to document their ancestors and find new relatives. However, there has never been a great way to share the results of this research with relatives, or collaborate together with others researching common relatives. As a result, the same ancestors are researched over and over again, often from scratch. By combining this research into a single tree that everyone can work on together, users can focus on verifying information and on new avenues of research, rather than spend their time duplicating research that somebody else has already done.

Because users start with their own tree when they first join Geni, they often add relatives that are already part of other Geni trees. All of these duplicates must be merged together to create the one shared tree that we are working towards. Over 45 million profiles have already been linked together on Geni into what is known as the "Big Tree".

In order to help accomplish this goal, Geni Curators can now merge together duplicate public profiles that are in different trees. Public profiles are distant relatives and ancestors (your third great grandparents and beyond) that may be shared by many other users. As public profiles you’re connected to are merged with their duplicates, you’ll instantly benefit from other users’ research, and maybe even meet some new distant cousins.

As always, we take the privacy of your close relatives very seriously. Profiles for close relatives that you’ve added to Geni are private, which means that only you and your family can view these profiles. Only your close relatives can merge your private profiles, and even if your tree is merged with another tree, your close relatives will remain private to you and your family.

A few more things: 
  • You can always export your tree as a GEDCOM file if you’d like to keep a local copy
  • For more on profile privacy, see our Understanding Privacy on Geni page
  • If you have any other questions or concerns about this, please let us know at
 - The Geni Team

The "big" news in this announcement seems to be that the "Geni Curators" can combine "?older" ancestors (third great-grandparents or older, how do they know?) into a large shared "Big Tree."  Theoretically, this helps Geni members find more ancestors based on what other Geni members have submitted.  The questions I have include:

*  If there is a conflict of information, which data is selected for display, and how is the decision made?
*  Is there a discussion process involved - does the curator collaborate or consult with the submitters?
*  Is there an appeal process for curator's decisions?
*  Can a submitter remove his online tree or make it a private tree after it has been shared?

This is the first mention I've seen of something like a "Curator" or "Arbitrator" or "Decider" in a genealogy database.  What other online family tree databases have them?  Is this the future for online shared databases?

Disclosure:  I have a free Geni account, and have a relatively small database on but have not updated it recently or invited family members to join. 

Tuesday's Tip - Use for FREE at Local Libraries or FamilySearch Centers

Today's Tuesday's Tip is to:  Use Ancestry Library Edition (a somewhat different version of the Ancestry historical records) at local libraries that have a subscription, or at some large LDS FamilySearch Centers.

Many local libraries subscribe to's Ancestry Library Edition,. which includes almost all  worldwide historical record collections, but not the Ancestry Member Trees or the newspaper collections.  Here in the San Diego area, the San Diego Public Library branches and the San Diego County Library branches have an Ancestry Library Edition subscription,  Carlsbad Public Library branches do also, and I'm not sure about other city libraries.  I know that Chula Vista Public Library does not have it, but Bonita Library (part of the County system) does have it.  You just have to fight for computer time at these libraries.  Note that it is only on the internal library servers, not on the wireless network at the libraries.

In thirteen (I think) larger FamilySearch Centers (what used to be called Regional Family History Centers) in the USA, and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City,  there is free access to Ancestry Family History Library Edition, which is all collections except for the Family Trees.  These Centers also have free access to many other subscription sites like,, and others.  There is no time limit on these computers unless there is someone waiting to use them, which is rarely the case.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - Probate Records of William Whitney (1683-1720) of Weston, Mass.

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started his own Monday blog theme many months ago called Amanuensis Monday. What does "amanuensis" mean? John offers this definition:

"A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another."

The subject today is the probate file of William Whitney (1683-1720) of Weston, Massachusetts.  He married Martha Peirce (1681-1759) in 1706 in Watertown, Massachusetts, and they had five children:  William Whitney (1707-1789); Judith Whitney (1708-????);/ Amity Whitney (1712-1760); Martha Whitney (1716-1801); Samuel Whitney (1719-1782).

William Whitney died intestate in 1720. The probate records for him are in Middlesex County [Massachusetts] Probate Records, Probate Packet 24,763 (on FHL Microfilm 0,432,082), as summarized below:

His widow, Martha Whitney and Nathaniel Whitney Junior of Weston, were named administrators for the estate on 4 July 1720. Bond in the amount of 300 pounds was posted by Martha Whitney, Nathaniel Whitney Junior and Nathaniel Whitney senior, all of Weston on that date.

An inventory of the estate was taken 5 August 1720 by John Warren, Benoni Garfield and John Warren; the real estate, comprising one mansion house with 34 acres of land plus five acres of remote meadow land, 47 acres of upland and 3 acres of adjacent meadow land, was valued at 360 pounds. The personal estate was apprised at 115 pounds, 17 shillings, 11 pence.

The first account of the administrators was filed 21 July 1727. They charged themselves with the personal estate. Several parcels of land were sold by order of the court to Eben Chadwick, John Warren, and John Warren Junior in order to pay debts to several people. The balance was 41 pounds, 12 shillings, 5 pence after paying the debts and charges, which included 40 pounds to the widow Martha for subsisting for seven years with five small children. An additional inventory dated 24 March 1728 was filed and approved for the remainder of the estate, which included payments to John Whitney and Nathaniel Whitney.

The probate records also contain a guardianship bond of 200 pounds posted by Martha Whitney and Jacob Peirce on 15 August 1720 for Martha to be guardian of her five children, William in his 14th year, Judith in her 12th year, Amity in her 8th year, Martha in her 5th year and Samuel in his second year.

Another guardianship bond of 300 pounds was posted by Lebbeus Graves husbandman and Jonathan Graves housewright, both of Sudbury, for Lebbeus Graves to be guardian of Amity Whitney daughter of William Whitney of Weston, by her choice, on 31 March 1729. Amity Whitney married a Lebbeus Graves of Sudbury in 1730.

This probate file is a bit different from many of the ones I've posted before - William Whitney died intestate at the relatively young age of 37, leaving a wife with five minor children.  The widow and William's brother, Nathaniel Whitney Junior (1676-1730)  (William's father, Nathaniel Whitney (1647-1733) is also mentioned) were the administrators of the estate.    The bondsman for the guardianship for the children, Jacob Perice, was Martha's brother.  Amity Whitney chose Lebbeus Graves (1705-1757) to be her guardian when she was age 16 in 1729, and married him eight days after her 18th birthday in 1730.

My ancestry is through the youngest child, Samuel Whitney (1719-1787) who moved to Westminster in Worcester County by 1742.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best of the Genea-Blogs - 19-25 December 2010

As I mentioned last week, I am on the road visiting my daughters and grandchildren and my brother-in-law's family, so I haven't kept track of my own best of the genea-blogs this past week, and I won't next week either.

Fortunately, Greta and Susan have kept their eyes andm inds wide-open and have written their weekly picks in:

1)  Friday Newsletter and Follow News: 24 December 2010 by Greta Koehl on Greta's Genealogy Bog.

2)  Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere - December 24 by Susan Petersen on the Long Lost blog.