The Year Was 1803

Louisiana (historical map)The year was 1803, the United States of America was twenty-seven years old, and growing in leaps and bounds. On March 1st, Ohio became the 17th state, joining Delaware (1787), Pennsylvania (1787), New Jersey (1787), Georgia (1788), Connecticut (1788), Massachusetts (1788), Maryland (1788), South Carolina (1788), New Hampshire (1788), Virginia (1788), New York (1788), North Carolina (1789), Rhode Island (1790), Vermont (1791), Kentucky (1792), and Tennessee (1796).
(For more statehood dates, see–

After a successful revolt in Saint-Domingue, the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte saw his dreams of expanding his empire to North America collapse. He had acquired the territory of Louisiana in 1800 through a secret treaty with Spain, and now with the Napoleonic Wars draining his coffers, he was ready to make a deal. Through the Louisiana Purchase, the United States bought the territory for $15 million dollars and thus adding an area that now represents one-third of the continental United States. Continue reading

Photo Corner

Stephen Armstrong, 1820-1903Contributed by Cheryl Davisson
Cheryl’s great-great-grandfather, Stephen Armstrong, 1820-1903. He was married to Elizabeth Barringer, and they were real pioneers of the Midwest–the heartland of America. One of his sons was John Hamilton Armstrong, Cheryl’s great-grandfather. Her grandmother was Elizabeth Armstrong Davisson.

Click on the image to enlarge the photograph.

Christen Madsen Biltoft (b. 22 April 1850) and Dorothea Christina Hansen (b. 1 August 1863)Contributed by Kelly, Brisbane, Australia
Kelly’s third great-grandparents, Christen Madsen Biltoft (b. 22 April 1850) and Dorothea Christina Hansen (b. 1 August 1863) are in this photo with their children; the eldest, my great-great grandmother Matilda Maria is at far right and some of her siblings; Peter Vedsted, James Martin and Christopher Adolphus. Christen and Dorothea emigrated separately to Queensland, Australia, from their homeland of Denmark. They had a double wedding on 9 March 1883 with Dorothea’s sister Anna, who married Christen’s brother Jens.

104 Years of British Phone Books Launch Online

UK BT Phone in association with BT today launched online the British phone books, 1880-1984 – the contents of BT’s historical phone book collection. The first records to be launched are the phone books for Greater London, which reveal many fascinating insights into the social history of the past hundred years.

The total collection of the British phone books, 1880-1984 contain in excess of 250 million names, greater than the English, Welsh and Scottish Census collections combined. The 430 London books alone (which include the counties of Surrey, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent and Middlesex), contain over 72 million names.

Family history enthusiasts can now find online exactly where their ancestors once lived and trace them through the years, enabling them to build a more detailed picture of their family history, while social history enthusiasts interested in the new and fast growing interest of exploring ‘hidden house history’ can begin to identify and learn about the previous inhabitants of their homes. Continue reading

New Database: Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1850-2003

Ancestry has just posted a new database that indexes birth, marriage, and death announcements found in newspapers from seven major cities. Below is a list of the newspapers and the years of coverage:

  • The New York Times (1851-2003)
  • The Los Angeles Times (1881-1985)
  • The Boston Globe (1872-1923)
  • The Chicago Defender (Big Weekend and National Editions) (1921-1975)
  • The Chicago Tribune (1850-1985)
  • The Hartford Courant (1791-1942)
  • The Washington Post (1877-1990)
  • The Atlanta Constitution (1869-1929)

Each index entry also contains a link to an image of the newspaper clipping that can be printed or saved to your Member Tree online at

The images can also be browsed by clicking on the Births, Marriages, or Deaths link at the bottom of the page, and then selecting a newspaper and year.

For more information or to search this database, go to the main database page.

Weekly Planner: Database Check-up

Have you entered everything you have found in your family history database? Pull out your files and binders and give it a quick checkup, matching the records and data you have acquired against what is in your database. Is everything entered and are your sources noted? Is it accurate, or does it include a typo like the one I made on my great-great-grandpa Dyer’s photograph, listing a date of death that predates his birth? (Thanks to everyone who wrote in to keep me on my toes!) Take it one family at a time, and don’t be surprised if this little checkup uncovers some new avenues and “aha” moments.

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My Top Five Organizational Problems

by Juliana Smith

One of the biggest challenges faced by family historians is how to keep the growing collection of records, charts, and forms in order. I thought we’d address some of those problems in this week’s newsletter. This is a topic that I feel qualified to discuss, since I have made pretty much every mistake possible in this area at one point or another. Continue reading

Blue Books (Well, most are blue!)

by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG

I am not writing about an automotive directory, government listing of agencies and/or staff, an education directory, or a directory of health, human, or social services. I am most definitely not talking about a recycling directory even though all of these have been called blue books. In my mind, a Blue Book is a directory of prominent residents, a social register of prestigious community members and club members.

A Definition
According to, a Social Register is a directory of names and addresses of the powerful and wealthy individuals who form the social elite, though until recently not necessarily the political or corporate elite; inclusion in the Social Register was formerly a guide to the members of “polite society” in the “social Register cities” such as Boston, Buffalo, Cleveland, New York, Kansas City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and San Francisco. I have seen some of these registers with longs lists of the “best” clubs for both men and women, maps showing the elite areas where the individuals resided, and someone recently told me they had seen one with seating charts of the theaters in the area. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Telephone Interviews

from George G. Morgan 

phoneTake every opportunity to build relationships with all of your relatives, no matter how distant. Telephone calls can be opportunities to obtain information about the family. When talking to a relative on the phone, ask him or her if you can ask a question or two about family. Be prepared to take notes. Don’t overdo this interview.

After the call, flesh out your notes to form a narrative and type it into a document or into your genealogy database. Be sure to note the name of the person from whom the information came and the date of the interview for your source citation.

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Your Quick Tips

Wet Stones
To get a good picture of a tombstone, I wet the face of the stone with regular water in a spray bottle. Most stones have a polished face which repels water and the cut letters and numbers hold water on the surface. This enhances contrast and adds a nice shine to the stone. I discovered this by accident when cleaning a grimy stone and taking a few pictures as it dried. Pictures of the dampened stone were much easier to read.
Guy Harrison
Minneapolis Continue reading