Links, 10.3.11

As I type, the chill of fall is in the air, finally. How’s that for an well-worn opening sentence? Next thing you know, I’ll be starting off with “It was a dark and stormy night.” Sheesh. Better just start listing links.

Information please: A gaggle of new databases went up at Here is one rundown, from Leland Meitzler.

Um, easy?!?: Sharon Tate Moody takes a sharp look at a well-meant genealogy-for-beginners pep talk and makes the excellent point that while genealogy is certainly fun, it is not always easy.

Workshopping it: For those of us having genealogy fun here in New Jersey, Jersey Journal columnist Daniel Klein has our back with a look at the fall season of genealogy workshops in the Garden State.

Delaware finds: Meanwhile, a little further south down the road, Delaware residents (Delawarians?) can access Delaware naturalizations from 1796 through 1850 on by using a portal through their state library and their state library cards. Sweet.

Online gold: Everyone searches online, but not everyone has James Tanner’s laser focus. Read his case study of how a well-chosen variety of online sources can make effective headway in documenting an ancestor. Also this week, Mr. Tanner reassured us Mac users that You Can Do Genealogy On a Mac.

And they all lived happily ever after. There, you’ve had your official timeworn ending sentence, too. Have a nice week.


Links, 9.26.11

Jumping right in …

Gravestone spiff-ups: Out of Bangor, Maine, an article in which the ever-treacherous gravestone-cleaning wars are revisited. In this case, water, a natural bristle brush and elbow grease are the recommended cleaning agents. Discuss.

Washingtonians: The National Society of Washington Descendants got together in Annapolis, Md., over the weekend. An interesting article ensued in which members reflected upon the nation’s first President, even though strictly speaking, nobody there was descended from him, as he had no children. But they are all descended from other Washingtons in George’s family, and most important, they all had a good time.

Census milestone: CNN does a nice job explaining why the release of the 1930 Mexico census is a bonanza for so many family historians.

Jamaican studies: A profile of the UK’s Patrick Vernon describes how his passion for uncovering his family’s Jamaica roots led to his founding the Every Generation website, which focuses on family history for the African and Caribbean communities in Britain. (While it seems to have interesting info, I haven’t linked to Every Generation because, frustratingly, it keeps kicking off Google warnings about the site harming my computer. Anyone know what’s up with that?)

Biz buzz: launches online forums devoted to Irish genealogy topics. Press release here. Also, in case you missed it, acquires the BackupMyTree service. Here’s their press release.

Willing it: Kenneth Thomas of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asks whether you’ve put your genealogy files in your will. If you haven’t, it’s something to consider.

Homeless suitcase: Now, that’s sad — Four months after spreading the word about an orphan suitcase full of vintage family memorabilia, Hartlepool (UK) resident Edward Powell hasn’t been able to locate any descendant to claim it. The suitcase has marriage and birth certificates, a diary and a Bible, among other items.

Immigrants’ chronicler: The Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Oscar Handlin, whose pioneering studies of immigration helped changed perceptions of its role in American history, has died aged 95. The New York Times obituary pays tribute and notes his innovative use of such resources as census data and immigrant newspapers in making the case that immigration is the “continuing, defining” event in U.S. history.

Here’s to the rest of the week — may it be full of interesting discoveries, or at least neater filing cabinets.

Links, 8.22.11

Looks like our most recent big news is the transformation of into … Fold3? What sort of name is that? It sounds like something to do with origami. Or poker. Anyway, it doesn’t sound like genealogy, is my point. Marketing is so weird sometimes.

On to the links:

Footnote notes: So starts tweaking Footnote, which it acquired last year — giving it a new name, and putting its emphasis exclusively on military records. More from Michael Hait and Dick Eastman (interesting comments here, too). Megan Smolyenak considers the Footnote changes in tandem with developments with Google News Archive with a twinge of trepidation.

Disappearing acts: This article on tracking down “runaway” husbands (and wives) offers encouragement for those tracking down people who made themselves vanish, whether it was to get married in the first place against their parents’ wishes, or to leave a marriage they no longer wanted.

Revolutionary: Reporter Cheryl Wills writes about the “ancestral revolution” born of  the current genealogy boom.

Channeling: The Deseret News reports on the expansion and refurbishing of FamilySearch’s YouTube channel.

Case study: Nice book review out of Bowling Green, Ky.: Librarian Nancy Richey takes a look at The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation and explains why it’s a great example of exciting progress in African-American family history research.

Here’s wishing you all a productive week.

Links, 8.15.11

Not that I’m having a terrible August, but I must say it drags on a bit. I keep asking whether it’s Sunday when it is, in fact, the previous Saturday, or even the previous Thursday. I am reasonably sure, however, that today is Monday, and therefore a good time to post links.

Eyecatching: I hadn’t seen the Western History & Genealogy blog of the Denver Public Library, but it strikes me as a nicely thought-out and well-presented example of a library highlighting its resources. For example, this Manuscript Monday meme, which features examples from the library’s manuscript collections.

Reunited: Megan Smolenyak has started rescuing orphaned heirlooms again. Yay!

Submerged: Severe drought reveals the remains of a long-forgotten cemetery in Texas where freed slaves were buried in the Civil War era (see also Dick Eastman).

Unsettling: Well, OK, here’s a hazard to family revelations that hadn’t occurred to me: British actress Emilia Fox, two weeks away from her due date, discovers via the UK Who Do You Think You Are that her great-grandma died in childbirth, delivering a stillborn baby. Not the sort of thing I would have wanted to dwell upon at that stage in pregnancy.

Debatable: Uh-oh, Dick Eastman wades into the tombstone touch-up controversy with How to Read Unreadable Tombstones. Go ahead and read it. Then go have a fight with somebody about it.

Useful: Newspaper columnist James Beidler reviews what sounds like a wonderful resource: a Surname Atlas of Germany.

That’s it for now. Enjoy the week!

Links, 7.25.11

Hope everyone made it through the heat wave that sat on so much of the U.S. last week (what rudeness!). Hereabouts, we discovered a renewed fondness for the Italian ice (supermarket version), although I could have done with the more authentic city versions too, which I remember as highlights from childhood  trips to Brooklyn.

Successful conferencing: Congrats to Fort Wayne (and the merged talents of the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, the Allen County Genealogy Society and on the success of  the first-time Ancestry Day conference. The linked article also touts the conference’s role in generating publicity for the city’s downtown restaurants and businesses.

Old New York: The New York Times had an interesting profile of Andrew Van Dusen, real estate broker, genealogy hound and descendant of some of Manhattan’s first settlers. There’s a nice little research twist at the end, too.

Sharing is caring: Tonia at Tonia’s Roots reviews a webinar on Sharing Genealogy Electronically, finding it intriguing and informative.

Remote possibilities: I read a little too fast the other day and thought Dick Eastman had penned something called What’s Happening with Family Search? A Lesson for All of Us. I cringed — was scandal ahead? I’d have saved myself the worry had I really read the first part of the headline — Carol Smith’s Remote Presentation. Lots of good points on how easily available technology can bring expert appearances to local genealogy societies at a fraction of the cost of a traditional speaker engagement.

Tree talk: Apropos of my bullet-pointed glance at the New York Times‘ fretting about 21st-century family research, I notice a post from gay parent and genealogy enthusiast Veronica Rhodes on Creating a Modern Family Tree.

Mapping it: In case you missed this, as I did: The US Geological Survey is releasing a trove of historic topographical maps of the U.S. from 1884-2006. (h/t Leland Meitzler.)

Enjoy the week, which hopefully will be short on sweltering.

Midweek Links (Gadzooks!), 7.20.11

Seriously, I have always wanted to say “Gadzooks!” on the blog. There, that’s out of my system. You can come out of hiding now.

Midweek links? Has it taken this long to find links? I could say: “Oh, wow, it’s summer; gosh, isn’t news slow,” but the news isn’t the only slowdown here, dear readers. Perhaps I got dozy digesting calories from my stupendous birthday cake, of which more later. Also, with schoolkids home and schoolkid amusements to plan (or not plan, and get nagged about for not planning), genealogy suffers. I have so far failed to tempt them into an enchanting field trip to the New York City Municipal Archives microfilm room. They would rather go to the beach! Can you imagine!??!

Enlightening: Out of Asheville, N.C. comes an interesting article about the Melungeons, whose deep roots in Appalachia have been shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding — a situation that is finally beginning to change with exciting new research.

Loggerheads: I did enjoy the Washington Post’s engaging (and balanced) account of the tug-of-war between the DAR and a tenacious family researcher determined to prevail in a debate over his ancestor’s Revolutionary War status.

Floppy what?!: Oh, my, here’s a question for the ages: What to Do With Floppy Disks? My kids would first need an answer to the question: “What’s a floppy disk?”

YouTubing: Dick Eastman also reports on The Family History Show on YouTube, featuring videos by British experts Nick Barratt and Laura Berry of Your Family History magazine.

Archival: The Irish Echo takes a look at the researchers who field inquiries at the National Archives of Ireland in Dublin — and note, unfortunately, that funding cutbacks mean service has been reduced as well. “People have to wait, or come back if it’s busy,” a genealogist says.

Data retrieval: This blog loves it when New York City databases come to light, like Queens County Probate Records, 1899-1921 at (h/t Leland Meitzler’s Genealogy Newsline.)

Class act: Boston University is now registering for a four-week online course in Genealogical Essentials, aimed at “hobbyists and enthusiasts” who seek a solid grounding in genealogical research practices. (h/t Kimberly Powell.)

Goodbye: Not exactly genealogy news, but I feel obliged to note the passing of Borders, which finally appears to have reached the end of the road. I have fond memories of Borders, even though I could not tell you why I was fonder of it than I was of its megastore rival, Barnes & Noble. Which could be the problem, in a nutshell. That, and the electronic-books thingy. Here is Forbes weighing in with Does a Failed Borders Presage a Doomed Bookstore Business? I noted with interest the observation that Borders’ big mistake “was hiring people to work in the stores who had little or no interest in books, authors or literature.” Which, again,  doesn’t sound much different from my typical experiences at still-surviving Barnes & Noble. But what are you going to do.

Links, 7.11.11

The news flow seems slow this week. Oh well, that’s high summer for you. I did do some interesting digging in Ellis Island records last week regarding my mysterious great-aunt Kunigunde, who remains somewhat mysterious, thanks to the clerks’ um, interesting handwriting. While I’m comparing loops and swirls, here are the links.

Fore-bears: Not human genealogy, but still, an interesting DNA revelation! Scientists have figured out that the modern polar bear is descended not from Alaskan brown bears, as previous thought, but from a now-extinct species of Irish brown bear.

Forensic genealogy? Here’s how a family researcher came up with a lead in a 50-year-old murder case. Now that’s genealogical detective work.

Success stories: There is now an Irish America Hall of Fame, based in County Wexford. Michael Flatley of “Riverdance” fame opened the hall of fame at an emigrant heritage center, which is adjacent to a replica of a famine-era ship, the Dunbrody. Besides Flatley himself, other inductees include Bill Clinton, author Mary Higgins Clark and DNA research pioneer James Watson. (h/t Pat Connors, NY-Irish listserv.)

Guidance: The useful Genealogy at a Glance series has two interesting new titles: African-American Genealogy Research, by Michael Hait, and Ellis Island Research, by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. Check out the publisher summaries for more. These guides are presented in a compact, laminated-page format especially suited to research road trips.  (Via

Census trip-ups:  Tampa Bay columnist Sharon Tate Moody has a cautionary and entertaining column on census data pitfalls.

Hang-ups: In his newsletter, Dick Eastman has a flair for eyecatching headlines, and I certainly bit at Will Telephones Disappear by 2018? Interesting item on whether the country is ready to go cell-phone only. Don’t skip the comments, wherein are some very pertinent observations about the drawbacks of cell phones in areas the communications moguls have deemed unworthy of wiring for high-speed, reliable connections.

Stay cool (where applicable), and have a great week.