Weekly Planner: Record School Memories

The school year is in full swing now and children everywhere are creating memories that will likely stay with them for a school bell.jpglifetime. Are you taking time to preserve artifacts from their school years? What memories do you have of your time in school? Was there a teacher who helped change your life? Pull out an old yearbook and take a stroll down memory lane. Our formative school years are a big part of our life, and down the road, your recorded memories will help your family get to know you better.

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Using Ancestry.com: Tips on Using Digitized Books–With a Focus on Local History

I spent part of last weekend working on a review for a new genealogical periodical, which will be edited by Liz Kerstens. Many of you probably recognize her name as the creator of Clooz and co-creator of GeneWeaver, former editor of Genealogical Computing, current editor of the NGS Newsmagazine and NGS’s online e-zine, Upfront. She’s a busy lady!

The first issue of the Digital Genealogist is due out in November, and I had promised Liz a review of a CD from Archive CD Books Ireland.

Archive CD Books are just what they sound like–books digitized on CD-ROM. These particular CDs use Adobe Reader to view images of the pages, and although the viewers are different, techniques for using these digital books can also be used to search the digital books online at Ancestry. Let’s take a look . . . Continue reading

Small Time Criminals in the Family Tree

prison barbed wire.jpgby Mary Penner

Were any of your ancestors idle, dissolute, lewd, wanton, or lascivious? Did they sleep in outhouses, sheds, barns, or unoccupied buildings? Did they habitually neglect their jobs? Were they unable to give a good account of themselves? 

This laundry list of wayward habits, according to the law in territorial New Mexico, identified a vagrant. The broadly-defined vagrancy law further extended its reach to include runaways, brawlers, pilferers, loiterers, gamblers, confidence men, drunkards, and common street walkers.

County jail logs clearly show that vagrancy was a popular pastime in nineteenth-century New Mexico. Vagrants, who accounted for the bulk of the jail population, usually paid a small fine and/or spent a few days in jail.

When we think of criminals in our family tree, we usually look under the rug for the big guns. You know, the black sheep cousins who did time in the big house for impressive crimes such as bank robbery, murder, and horse theft. If you really want to tread down the slippery path of uncovering family scandals, don’t overlook the little guy–the small-time lawbreaker. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Switched Names?

from Michael John Neill

There are many ways a relative’s name can get tangled up in a record’s index. In addition to spelling, phonetic, and transcription errors, there is always the chance that the creator of the original record switched the first and last names of the individual mentioned in the record.

Felix Navigato was a thirty-seven-year-old real estate broker serving as a census taker for the 1930 census in Chicago, Illinois. On 23 April 1930, as a part of his enumeration duties, he visited a boarding house at 415 East 115th Street in Chicago. Most of the residents were Greek immigrants; Navigato was an Italian-American. The possibility that some of the boarders may not have been home at the time of Navigato’s visit increases the chance that something was reported incorrectly.

One of the residents at the boarding house was Panagiotis Verikios. Likely due to the language issues, he is enumerated with the first name of Verikios and the last name of Panagiotis. Locating him with online indexes took some time because of the name switch.

If your ancestor cannot be found in an index, consider switching the first and last names in search boxes and other indexes. Such switches do not happen very often but when they do your search can be frustrated.

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Your Quick Tips, 09 October 2006

Requesting U.S. Passport Applications
Using Ancestry.com Boston Passenger Lists I discovered my great-grandfather returned to Ireland in 1932, at the age of sixty. On the passenger manifest, next to his name and address, was a United States passport number and its issue date. I was intrigued. Why did he go to Ireland at the height of the depression? How long was he there?

I wrote to the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Information Resources Management requesting a copy of his passport application under the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552). By doing this, I saved the $60 fee the Department of State normally charges for this service. The downside is I had to wait five months for the document.
But it was worth it!

I received a copy of his application today and it contains his birth date, place and country of birth; the location and date of his naturalization; his current address; the name of his father and his father’s country of birth; the countries he planned to visit with the passport, the reason for his visit; how long he was traveling for, the port he was sailing from, the name of the ship, the date he was departing; his height, age, hair and eye color; his occupation; his signature; a signature and address for an identifying witness (his brother-in-law in this case); and best of all, a copy of his photograph! There is space on the application for names of a wife and children, with personal data, but these were left blank.

So for those of you with U.S. naturalized immigrants in your ancestry, don’t stop searching for a passenger manifest just for their first trip to the USA. Look for a possible trip home later in life. If you find a passport number and date of issue, you can submit a request for a copy under the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552). You will need to provide credible evidence to indicate the person is deceased, in order to overcome the Privacy Act restrictions. (I used photocopies of his Irish birth certificate and obituary.) You will also need to provide the following information: The passport applicant’s name; passport number; year of birth; naturalization date; place of residence at the time of the application; approximate year of travel; and your name, mailing (postal) address, and telephone number.

Submit the request to:

Department of State
Office of Information Resources Management
515 22nd Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20522-6001

And then just wait patiently–within six months you could have a treasure trove in your mailbox and answers to your questions! In my case, my great-grandfather wished to visit relatives, and stayed there for nine months!

Susan Daily
Missouri Continue reading

The Year Was 1929

The year was 1929 and is probably best remembered for the October 29 “Black Tuesday” stock market crash that signaled the start of the Depression Era.

President Herbert Hoover continued to express optimism with statements like, “Any lack of confidence in the economic future or the basic strength of business in the United States is foolish,” but fortunes had been lost, unemployment rose, and the “Great Depression” would last into World War II.

In Chicago, one of the most notorious crimes of the era takes place on February 14, when seven gangsters who were members of Bugs Moran’s gang were gunned down in a warehouse on Clark Street in Chicago, in what is now known as the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. No charges were ever filed on the infamous murders, but it is widely believed that Al Capone and his gang were behind the crime. Continue reading

Photo Corner

John Richard Burrill,  born 3 January 1886, in Leeds, EnglandContributed by Kris and Ron Burrill
Photo of John Richard Burrill,  born 3 January 1886, in Leeds, England, to parents John Burrill and Alice Firth. He is around the age of three.

 Click on the image to enlarge it.

Rodolphus W. Reeves and friend in their U.S. Army uniformsContributed by Paul Reeves.
Rodolphus W. Reeves and friend in their U.S. Army uniforms while serving as part of the U.S. Expeditionary Force in France in WWI.

October is Family History Month

FH month.JPGIn 2001, October was officially named “Family History Month.” So grab a friend, neighbor, or your whole family and take a few minutes or hours to honor your relatives. Family history doesn’t have to be about searching dusty records and looking for long-forgotten facts; it can be a fun way to discover more about the people who shaped your life and also a way to pay tribute to the family you have now.  Tana Lord has put together ten activities to get your month off to a great start! Read more in the Ancestry Library. 


Family History Can Keep Your Brain Healthy

books.jpgI was browsing around CNN and found an article from a couple months ago that caught my attention. Titled Keeping Your Brain Healthy, it gave several tips from the Alzheimer’s Association that really brightened my day.

Exercise Your Brain 

The first set of tips was geared around keeping your mind active by staying “curious and involved” and continuing to learn. We do that! Curious is one of the first words that pops into my head when I ask myself why I’m involved in family history, and Lord knows we have to continue to learn as we go through the process of researchng our family.

We have to learn geography, history (and not just the overviews from those school history books–we need to get in-depth!), paleography (study of old writing and inscriptions), how to use technology, math (If great-grandpa died Sept. 19, 1954 at age 80 years, 6 months, and 4 days, when was his birthday?), library science, preservation techniques, genetics, and so much more. Continue reading