New Card Catalog

At the time of this post, has 23,775 databases available to search. With a collection this large, sometimes it can be tough to figure out exactly what is available for a particular area. has created a new tool to help you find the information you need with the Ancestry Card Catalog. The Card Catalog is a free tool that allows you to search by keyword or title and narrow that search by date or location.

This database should come with a warning though. (Warning: This database will occupy you for extended periods of time. Do not attempt to use it if you hope to accomplish anything but family history research for the next several hours.) This brief announcement took me hours to write, due to the fact that I kept running across new databases that I hadn’t seen before!  A couple tips I picked up:

  • Use the keyword search. It seems to pick up more than the title and location search. I tried a search for Brooklyn New York and got 125 hits with those terms in the keyword search, and only fourteen in the title search. This is due to the fact that the keyword search searches more fields, including the full description as it is set out in the database. The title search will only search that field. 
  • Try surname searches. Although this is primarily a search of databases, and not the names contained within them, don’t overlook searches using a surname. The Family & Local History Collection includes a lot of family histories and biographical materials that you may have missed. 
  • Even if you think you’re familiar with the offerings at, be sure to check this database out. Because of my work with the newsletter, I have been looking at postings daily for around eight years. I thought I knew exactly what was available for my areas of interest, but I ended up spending hours browsing through databases I had previously overlooked. (Hence the above warning!)

You can find the Card Catalog by clicking on the Search Tab and then clicking on the Card Catalog link on the right hand side of the page under the section “Search Resources” or directly through this link.   

Good luck with your searches!

Photo Corner: Railroad Group

William Herbert Moyer, Reading Railroad, PennsylvaniaI think this idea is great! Thank you for the chance to send this photo. My grandfather, William Herbert Moyer, is bottom center. He worked in Pennsylvania for the Reading Railroad. I am guessing it was taken around 1910-1920. Wish I had more info!

Richard Bodner

Click on the photograph to enlarge it.

Curl Up with a Genealogical Mystery, by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

Recently, I’ve been frustrated by what seems to be an emerging trend–non-genealogists getting their own familLineages and Lies, by Jimmy Foxy histories published as mainstream books in spite of mediocre research.  The most recent I’ve come across presents the discovery of a census record from 1880 as a major find.  This “revelation” is given to the author by an archives since she was unable to find it because the entry was indexed under an unexpected spelling.  I was able to locate the same record on in about 45 seconds, and if I were to give you the names, you could do the same.

I know not to judge a book by its cover and I suppose I should judge it more by its content than the research behind it, but as both a genealogist and writer, I can’t help but consider both aspects.  I’d like to see well-researched books such as Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy & Its Aftermath (by John Philip Colletta) and Isle of Canes (by Elizabeth Shown Mills) get a fraction of the attention that some of these other books receive.  Where are all the genealogically-based best-sellers? Continue reading

Photo Corner: Donat Houle and Lea (Houle) Lessard

Donat Houle and Lea (Houle) Lessard (brother and sister)Here is a picture of my grandfather, Donat Houle and his sister Lea taken around the turn of the century.  I don’t know the exact date and location of the photo, but it was probably taken in Woonsocket, RI.  Here is the information I do have on them:
Donat Houle
  Born:  Dec. 15, 1879 in St. Guillaume, Quebec, Canada
  Married:  Marie Rose Delima Pelletier on June 20, 1904 in Woonsocket, RI
  Died:  Sept 1, 1908 in Woonsocket, RI of Bright’s Disease
Lea (Houle) Lessard
  Born:  1874  in Quebec, Canada
  Died:  1959
Their parents were Joseph Houle and Marie Celina Martel, who were married in Warwick, Arthabaska, Quebec, Canada.  Donat had 6 brothers as well;  Arthur, Willie, Alzear, Henry, Adelard and Domina.
Since my grandfather died in 1908 when my father was only 4 months old, we lost track of his relatives.  My grandmother moved back to Canada to re-marry at some point and left my father in the care of her sisters. 
My father is now 98 and I am getting as much information from him as I can.  His memory is good, but I will eventually have to do some research on my own.
Gerry Houle

 Click on the photograph to enlarge it.

Family History Seminar, 3-4 November 2006, Midway, Utah

There will be a Family History Seminar held 03-04 November 2006. Susan Easton Black (Professor of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University), and Kip Sperry (Professor of Family History, BYU) will be the presenters.

Topics will include writing biographies and personal histories, organizing your family history collections, making the most of your resources, establishing family history databases, using the computer to locate family history resources, using the computer to locate original records, what’s new on the Internet for family history, and successful online research. Continue reading

Weekly Planner: Honor the Moms in Your Family Tree

Robin's eggs (Photo courtesy Juliana Smith)With Mother’s Day coming up this week, it’s a great time to honor one or more of the moms in your family tree. Schedule some time to research an ancestress. You can learn more about her life by reading period newspapers, social histories, or a biography of one of her peers. Write a brief essay on what you have learned and preserve her story for future generations!

Using Preparing for the Message Board Improvements Launch, by Juliana Smith

Last month, there were 28,127,757 page views on the message boards and on April 30 there were more than one million for that day alone! That’s a lot of people looking for ancestors and sharing their research interests!

Message boards have long been popular, and even before we took to the Internet, genealogists had been posting their interests in periodicals and probably on cave walls long before that. (And you think we have it tough entering our data! One date entered wrong and you’d have to move to a new cave and start over.)

There will likely be another surge in popularity as and will soon be updating and improving the message boards, based on the recommendations of community members. Improvements will allow users to create customized views of each thread and select how many posts are displayed on a page. Notifications of posts to your favorite boards will be sent individually or via a digest version. New tools will also help with posts allowing you to edit and spell check your messages. Continue reading

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