Your Quick Tips, 20 November 2006

Birthday Books
Another more positive way of keeping dates of people we love is to maintain a birthday book. I started mine fifteen years ago and have also added death dates of close relatives and a few friends who have died since 1991. We do not keep a Bible with family dates, but this book is important to me. People always enjoy being remembered on their special day! The book also includes some wedding anniversaries.
Over the past fifty-two years of marriage I have also kept address books, and they are fun to look back through. My mother’s address books are also in a file, because one never knows when that information may be important to a genealogist!
Ruth Lawrence
Georgetown, Texas Continue reading

The Year Was 1863

Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1863The year was 1863 and the U.S. was embroiled in the Civil War. Notable battles that year included those at Chancellorsville, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga. One of the most well-known battles of the Civil War, 1-3 July 1863, the Union Army, led by General George G. Meade met General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Virginia at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to engage in one of the largest battles to ever take place on American soil involving more than 160,000 men.

The battle would result in more than 23,000 Union casualties and between 20,000 and 25,000 Confederate. Later that year, President Abraham Lincoln was invited to speak at the consecration of a cemetery where he would deliver his famous Gettysburg Address, on 19 November 1863.

Earlier that year, on 1 January, Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all slaves held in Confederate states were to be free, and further declared that they “be received into the armed service of the United States.” Following this proclamation, the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer infantry became the first northern all-Black Union regiment. 

Not all of the Civil War soldiers of 1863 were volunteers. In March of that year, the National Conscription Act began a draft registration for men between twenty and thirty-five. The conscription process allowed for wealthy men to hire substitutes or buy exemption for $300. The process angered those who couldn’t afford to get out of service, and following the news of devastating casualties from Gettysburg, when a list of draftees was listed in New York papers, rioting ensued. Mobs attacked the armory and then took to the streets, targeting blacks and abolitionists in a horrific manner. Federal troops, many of them fresh from the fields of Gettysburg, had to be called in to quell the riots.  Continue reading

Photo Corner

Goldie Durbin (1903-1981) and her sister FernContributed by Shirley Waterman Harris, Springfield, IL
Goldie Durbin (1903-1981) and her sister Fern, daughters of John Vincent and Sarah Jane Durbin of Christian Co., Illinois.

Obrey, Raymond, and Dan Waterman, sons of William and Ida Hancock Waterman of Taylorville, IL.Contributed by Shirley Waterman Harris, Springfield, IL
Obrey, Raymond, and Dan Waterman, sons of William and Ida Hancock Waterman of Taylorville, IL. Obrey died of diphtheria in 1912.

Tribune Article Provides Food for Thought for Family Historians

I found an interesting editorial online at the Chicago Tribune website yesterday that I want to share with you. It cites the statistic that “…about 73 percent of the Tribune’s obituaries are about males.”  What creates this disproportionate representation?

The article goes on to give various possible reasons for the disparity, including the propensity to include “men of accomplishment” who are typically business executives, and also the cites the fact that women often live longer than men, and for this reason, at their death, the memory of many of their accomplishments may have faded.

Several obituary writers are quoted, and Trevor Jensen notes that obituaries should be “interesting stories that also reflect a part of society and the community.”

It struck me that we, as family historians, are in essence obituary writers too–and really good ones at that. As we pull together the pieces of our ancestors lives, we are preserving a record of their accomplishments and the impact their lives had, even generations later.

Hopefully, there is no gender disparity in our work, as the lives of our female ancestors can be just as fascinating, and sometimes more so than the males.

The obituary editor of the New York Times, Bill McDonald, is quoted as saying, “…the obit page is not a reflection of the times in which we live. It’s a mirror on the past that is slipping away.” As family historians, we are helping to ensure that, although a person’s life may slip away, their life story can live on. We should feel good about that.

You can read the entire article online on the Tribune website. 

Gender gap, even in death
By Timothy McNulty
Tribune public editor
November 13, 2006

Note: The Tribune requires a free registration to view most articles.

Press Release: Combines Digital Content with On-Demand Publishing to Launch Customized Books on Last Names

2Name in History.jpgLeading Online Family History Company Leverages its 23,000 Historical Records Databases to Provide Books on 200,000 of America’s Most Common Last Names

PROVO, UTAH – November 14, 2006 – When did people with your last name come to the United States? Did they fight for the North or the South? What was their life expectancy compared to the rest of the nation? What did they do for a living? What does your last name actually mean? These and other interesting questions are answered for over 200,000 different last names in a new on-demand published book offering from, the world’s largest online family history resource. These books titled, Our Name in History, chronologically trace a particular last name, telling its unique story through interesting fast facts placed within a historical context. A convergence of content and technology, these customized books leverage’s unrivaled database of historical records to create a unique print-on-demand volume that follows the footprints of a family name across generations.

Our Name in History provides interesting information on a selected last name such as origin, definition, popularity and other relevant historical facts. researchers pored through more than 5 billion names including the U.S. Census, immigration, birth, marriage, death and military records to fill the pages of this unique book that highlights the various details of a family name. Continue reading

New and Coming Soon at Ancestry

Ship.jpgPosted This Week

Weekly Planner: Map Your Ancestral Trail

Create a map of your ancestors’ travels, noting the dates for each location. As you follow the route they took, you may find places where families intersect, or places along the route where they may have left a trail through records. Investigate the transportation options that were available to them. Tracking their route will not give you a clearer picture of their experience, but you may find a new pathway in your research.

Click here for a printer friendly version of this article.

Using Ancestry: Searching Passenger Lists

Muriel Dyer DennisWow! Christmas came early for family historians last week when Ancestry posted a huge addition to its Immigration Collection (which is, by the way, free until 30 November). I began my searches this morning and have not been disappointed! I ran across some interesting items and have a few tips that I’d like to share today.

Low-Hanging Fruit Can Be Sweet
Most of my searches focused on the New York passenger lists that were added for the Ellis Island years. I started with a few family members that I had previously found, but for which I didn’t have printed copies of the record. Ancestry allows you to print either the entire image, or the “current view,” which enables you to zoom in and print enlarged sections of the record. (For these lists, I also set my print preferences to landscape so I can fit more on the page.)

One of the records I needed a print of was for my great-grandmother’s brother, Marton Szkokan. I was able to quickly find his record, but noted that there were actually two entries for the same ship and date. I printed off the manifest and just for the heck of it, clicked on the other entry. What it turned out to be was a “Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry.”  Continue reading