Blog » In The Community The official blog of Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:14:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Spotlight: Texas State Genealogical Society Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:06:02 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> texas-state-genealogical-societyThey say things are bigger in Texas. The Texas State Genealogical Society certainly lives up to that. They are one of the local hosts for the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ annual conference, being held this week in San Antonio. Recently, I spoke with TSGS president John Wylie and learned what makes the society so strong.

TSGS has numerous programs, including five different heritage certificates (First Families, Gone to Texas, West Texas Pioneers, Descendants of Texas Rangers, and Descendants of Greer County, Texas). They also have a robust publishing program, several writing awards, and a grant program.

However, people shouldn’t think of TSGS as a big local society. Not only can individuals join, it is also an “umbrella organization,” serving more than 130 local societies across Texas. TSGS has grown from a few dozen “very active” people, into “an alliance of local societies, all working for the same goals of education, preservation, access and developing leadership skills,” according to John.

Those volunteers working together for common goals have benefited the entire genealogical community in Texas. They have worked together in support of  bills in the Texas legislature in 2013; all of them passed. There was a bill that the organization opposed. It died in committee. As John told me, “Everyone with Texas ancestors will benefit from that quiet effort.”

A spirit of embracing change and growth is at the heart of TSGS. If you would have asked John six years ago what the strengths of the society’s team were, he would have said their offerings of genealogical presentations and the books they published. Now, TSGS is a society with a strong social media presence (including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) and has embraced technology. Use of that technology has lead to discussing metrics and using tools such as Google Analytics to measure the success of their efforts. John added, “While we’re not forgetting the people who made TSGS what it was, we’re focused on those who will make it what it is intended to be.”

As you might expect, TSGS is not content to rest on its laurels. “After we finish co-hosting the FGS conference, we won’t stop to take a breath until we’ve hired our new quarterly editor and are back to our publication schedule.” I suspect that they won’t stop to take a breath even after that.

Texas State Genealogical Society at a Glance:


Address: P.O. Box 7308; Tyler, Texas 75711-7308

Membership Information: Membership is open to any person or organization that is interested in researching and preserving genealogical and historical records. Personal memberships are available for individuals or families. Genealogy societies, historical societies, and family associations are considered Partner Societies. Dues as of 2014 are $25.00 per year.

]]> 1
Dick Eastman Discusses How Tech Has Changed The Family History Industry Tue, 26 Aug 2014 17:59:24 +0000 Jessica Murray Read more]]> Dick Eastman, author of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, began recording his family history research in the 1970′s on a mainframe computer he built. Needless to say, he knows a lot about technology and the positive impacts it has made on family history research.

Dick shares the newest evolutions in family history technology with the availability of apps on your mobile and tablet devices. He recalls his exhaustive research days at archives and then spending hours later on verifying the research he collected. Now he can verify his research while at the archives and saves countless hours because the quality of software has improved and made searching indexes much easier.

Dick goes on to share why he believes blogging technology has revolutionized genealogy, which now gives experts across the industry with specialized knowledge an opportunity to share their research.  Having these niche experts so easily accessible may help us overcome that brick wall we’ve been trying to climb.

See Dick Eastman’s entire interview here:

]]> 2
Answering the Big Genealogy Puzzle With Tom Jones Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:56:43 +0000 Jessica Murray Read more]]> Tom Jones, editor of National Genealogical Society Quarterly and author of Mastering Genealogical Proof, encourages family historians to contribute to research by taking a DNA test.

What should be our first priority is to do what future generations cannot do.” Tom notes advancements in indexing will make discovering information from the internet easier for future generations. However, the most important information — things like photographs, family stories and DNA — could be lost if not passed down.

Tom likens genealogy research to a giant puzzle; some pieces have badly damaged pictures and other pieces are missing completely. Each of us is working to reassemble the big picture as best we can. Tom says, “Of course, it works a lot better if we help each other.

See Tom’s full interview below:

]]> 1
What We Are Reading: August 22 Edition Fri, 22 Aug 2014 19:28:37 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> As summer winds down, many of us find many things still on our “to do” list. I wanted to redo my flowerbeds and do some landscaping in my backyard. Maybe this fall… But one thing that I’m happy to keep on my “to do” list is “Read more genealogy.” It has a permanent place on the list because no matter how much I read, there’s always more to explore – and I’m fine with that!

Here’s what we’ve been reading this week:

Abraham Lincoln’s ‘Blind Memorandum,’” by Michelle Krowl, on Library of Congress Blog. It’s easy to look back on history and see some things as inevitable. We might see Lincoln’s re-election in 1864 as inevitable, but he didn’t. Read Lincoln’s own views on what he would do if he lost.

John Joseph McBride: A Victim of Proofreading,” by Sally Knudsen, on SallySearches. Sally shows why you should look for as many records as possible. A simple typo in an obituary could have derailed her research.

Samuel Stillman Glover Ex-communicated and the Reason Shocked Me,” by Brenda (Glover) Leyndyke, on Journey to the Past. Brenda shows how digging deeper into church records gave her an up-close insight into the life of her ancestor.

A Society on the Grow,” by Jenny Lancot, on the Federation of Genealogical Society Voice. You might have heard that some genealogical societies are struggling. Learn how one society is re-invigorating itself.

World War I Letter From a Soldier to His Sweetheart,” by Colleen G. Brown Pasquale, on Leaves & Branches. Colleen’s grandmother carefully kept a love letter from a soldier who was fighting in WWI. It’s a beautiful letter — and wasn’t written by Colleen’s grandfather…


]]> 2
What We Are Reading: August 15 Edition Fri, 15 Aug 2014 15:24:50 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> It’s hard to believe, but the schools in my area started classes this week. I remember when I was in school, it was unusual to start before Labor Day. (Now get off my lawn!) The kids shouldn’t be the only ones reading. We should all join in the fun!

Cincinnati Union Station

Cincinnati Union Station

Here are some of the things that we were reading this week:

Is Your Lost Family Bible on Fold3 in a Pension File?” by Jim Long, on LongBranch Genealogy. Jim found pages from his ancestor’s family Bible in a War of 1812 pension file. Not a transcript – the actual pages! (And it’s another reason to help out the Preserve the Pensions project!)

Lessons Learned from Photographing 1000 Tombstones,” by Lynn Palermo, on The Armchair Genealogist. Lynn learned a lot while working on a photo project at her local cemetery and shares tips about photography and tombstone research.

Our Cincinnati Union Terminal,” by Cheri Daniels, on Journeys Past. Cheri takes us through her family’s close history with Cincinnati’s beautiful Union Terminal. What are some of the places that your ancestors are closely tied to?

The Stories We Need to Read,” by Angela Y. Walton-Raji, on My Ancestor’s Name. Angela shows how reading historical fiction can give us insight into the lives and situations of our ancestors. She also has some recommendations for good books.

]]> 2
Painful Memories and Warm Embraces in Episode Five of Long Lost Family. Sun, 10 Aug 2014 00:40:49 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> Last week’s episode of Long Lost Family was probably the most emotional yet. But it doesn’t stop there. This week Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell worked tirelessly to reunite more long-separated families. In episode five we’ll witness two reunions that are healing the pain of the past.


Sheila Thomas and Jacqui Denton

Growing up in London, Sheila was raised in a working household. She left school at age 15 to work as a receptionist and it wasn’t long before she fell madly in love with a married man. She became pregnant and at only 17, she was frightened and unsure of what to do. Unable to ask her boyfriend for help she told her parents everything.

They quickly took charge of the situation and Sheila had to quit her job and leave her boyfriend. She was sent to a mother and baby home and it was there, on Boxing Day 1967, that she gave birth to a baby girl she named Jacqueline. It never dawned on Sheila that her baby would be taken from her. She was distraught when she realized that her precious child would be given up for adoption. She never recovered and despite going on to be happily married, she never had any more children.

Sheila felt unworthy to be a mother and never forgave herself for allowing her baby to be taken without a fight. Now 64, Sheila has longed to give her daughter a hug and know that she is happy. Long Lost Family tracked down Jacqueline, who was overwhelmed to hear that her birth mother was looking for her. Her adoptive parents kept her name and when Jacqui met Sheila, her adoptive mother came too. The meeting has given Sheila the strength to move on and put the pain of the adoption behind her.

Stephen Andrews and Janet Johnson

Stephen was adopted in 1964 by Terrance and Betty Andrews. He found out that he was adopted when he was eight-years-old, but it wasn’t until his teenage years that he questioned why he was given away. Now 49 and married with three children, he longed to answer the questions that have plagued him all these years.

When his adoptive mother died, he decided to face his past and see if he could track down his birth mother. His adoption file raised more painful questions. It stated that his birth parents planned to get married, sparking the question again, why did they give him away?

Long Lost Family tracked down Stephen’s birth mother, Janet. She was overjoyed to hear that he was looking for her. She explained that she was only 15 when she got pregnant and that she was frightened and unsure how she was going to support her baby. She went on to marry Stephen’s father and have two more sons. When Davina met Stephen to tell him she had found his mother, he was shocked to hear that he has two full brothers. Davina reassured him that he was not forgotten and when he meets Janet for the first time, she explained in her own words the circumstances of the adoption. Stephen can finally begin to get over the hurt and shame he has felt all these years.

Long Lost Family will air on ITV this Monday August 11th at 9pm. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts on this episode.

]]> 2
What We Are Reading: August 8 Edition Fri, 08 Aug 2014 18:59:23 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> Willie Cohen, 1210 So. 6th St., 8 years of age, newsboy, attends John Hay School. Was selling papers at Phila. & Reading Terminal 10:30 A.M. Monday June 13th, Said it was Jewish Holiday. Max Rafalovizht, 1300 So. 6th St, 8 years old, attends John Hay School, was selling papers at Phila. & Reading Terminal, June 13th, 1910. Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From Library of Congress Photo Collection, 1840-2000.

Willie Cohen, 1210 So. 6th St., 8 years of age, newsboy, attends John Hay School. Was selling papers at Phila. & Reading Terminal 10:30 A.M. Monday June 13th, Said it was Jewish Holiday. Max Rafalovizht, 1300 So. 6th St, 8 years old, attends John Hay School, was selling papers at Phila. & Reading Terminal, June 13th, 1910. Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From Library of Congress Photo Collection, 1840-2000.

It’s the dog days of summer. Sounds like the perfect time to grab a cool drink, find a shady spot, and do some reading. If you have an Internet connection in that shady spot, check out some of the things we’ve been reading this week. (And if you don’t have wifi out there, go back inside in the air conditioning and read them there!)

Damn the Torpedoes! The Battle of Mobile Bay,” by Craig L. Symonds, on Civil War Trust. This week was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay, during which Rear Admiral David Farragut, forcing his fleet into the Confederate-controlled bay, issued the command “Damn the torpedoes…  full speed!”

Finding Time to Write,” by Amber Lanier Nagle, on Amber Lanier Nagle. You know you’re supposed to be writing your family stories, but you don’t seem to have the time. Amber has some ideas on how you can find the time.

Remembrance and Reflection as First World War Sacrifices are Recalled,” by Carline Davies, Patrick Wintour, and Richard Norton-Taylor, on The Guardian. This week was the 100th anniversary of Great Britain entering World War I. Read about some of the commemoration events.

Remembrance: Charlie Payne’s Letter to ‘My Darling Boys’ 23 August 1917,” by Chris Payne, on Chris Payne’s Blog. Charlie Payne, Chris Payne’s grandfather, was in the British Expeditionary Force and wrote this moving letter to his four sons before he went into battle.

Taking a Constitutional,” by Judy G. Russell, on The Legal Genealogist. Judy shares resources for finding early state constitutions and colonial charters — great resources for understanding the records that we use in our research.

William H. Cackley (1783-1860) of Pocahontas County, VA, Lieutenant, Virginia Militia, War of 1812,” by Susan McNelley, on Tracings by SAM. (Note: this is a PDF.) Susan shows the incredible amount of information you can find in War of 1812 pension files. (By the way, have you heard about the Preserve the Pensions project, which is working to digitize those great records?)

]]> 1
The White Glove Debate Continued: What’s Up With the Purple Gloves? Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:43:27 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> If you saw the recent episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Rachel and Kayleen McAdams, you might have noticed them wearing some special accessories. When they visited the Archives of Ontario, they had to don purple gloves when handling a map of land grants in Ontario. So, what’s up with the those?

Dr. Jane Errington with Rachel and Kayleen McAdams at the Archives of Ontario

Dr. Jane Errington with Rachel and Kayleen McAdams at the Archives of Ontario

The purple gloves weren’t intended as a fashion statement. Some archives use nitrile gloves instead of white cotton gloves for handling materials that could be harmed by the oil on your fingers. Nitrile gloves allow for better feeling and often fit better than cotton gloves. This helps reduce the chance of inadvertently tearing or creasing the document when you’re handling it. Nitrile gloves are also disposable, which means that they aren’t holding the dirt and grime from previous research sessions.

You might be wondering about latex gloves. Some people have allergic reactions to latex. Nitrile gloves have gained popularity over latex for that reason.

White gloves, nitrile gloves, bare hands – which is it?! As researchers, it comes down to this: Always have clean hands (even with gloves), use common sense, and follow the rules of whatever archive you are in.

]]> 2
Two searches, one family! Get ready for another episode of Long Lost Family Sat, 02 Aug 2014 09:18:15 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> The inspiring stories on Long Lost Family have brought us to tears on more than one occasion, as Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell worked tirelessly to reunite long separated families. In episode four we will witness a first for the Long Lost Family team.


Inge Dart

Growing up in Kenya, Inge’s life was overshadowed by her domineering mother. It was the last days of the British Empire and Inge was very much in love with her childhood sweetheart, Jeremy. When she became pregnant at 19, her mother banished her half way across the world to have the baby in secret.

Her mother sent her to Surrey in the UK where she was taken in by a couple who looked after her until her daughter was born. She cared for her daughter for ten days knowing time was running out. Jeremy visited and the young couple were overjoyed to be able to spend time with their daughter before she was taken away.

Now sixty-six years old, the loss of her baby has haunted Inge ever since and she now craves the peace she knows will only come when she sees her daughter once more. In one of the most extraordinary searches ever undertaken by Long Lost Family we see a mother looking for the daughter she had to say goodbye to when she was only ten days old. From Colonial Kenya to Northern France, watch what happens when they end Inge’s search and, in a first for Long Lost Family, they take on her daughter’s search for her father Jeremy, who has spent a lifetime yearning for the chance to give his daughter a hug.  

Long Lost Family is broadcast on ITV this Monday August 4th at 9pm. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts on Inge’s emotional journey.

]]> 4
What We Are Reading: August 1 Edition Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:52:00 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> children with book

What does a Civil War descendant, Coca Cola signs, and the Great Lakes have in common? It’s just some of what we’ve been reading this week.


Bitter Sweet Memories, the History of a Family Home,” by Carol, on Reflections from the Fence. The selling of the family home brought back a lot of memories of the things that had happened there. What about the history in the house where you grew up?


Civil War Quick Tip: Really? I Was Fascinated By This Guy’s Story,” by Cindy Freed, on Genealogy Circle. Cindy discovered a Civil War descendant who discovered a link between his grandmother’s attitudes and his Civil War ancestor.


Coca Cola’s Restoration of ‘Ghost Murals’ in Appalachia,” by Lauren C. Steele, on Appalachian History. The sides of buildings used to double as painted billboards. The advertisements are fading away, taking history with them. Coca Cola has started a project to restore some of these historic “ghost murals.”


Even Airplane Crashes Have a Silver Lining,” by David C. J., on Mid-Continent Public Library Genealogy Blog. When we think of finding wreckage in Lake Michigan, we usually think of ships. Turns out, there are a lot of airplanes down there, too — and they are a wealth of aviation history.


History of the Great Lakes States is a website with links to online books, articles, and maps for the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

]]> 3