The Book Quest Continues, by Megan Smolenyak

Wow!  Who knew there were so many terrific books out there with a genealogical theme?  A thousand thank you’s to all of you who posted recommendations or emailed me with suggestions after my last article (!  Looks as if I have a homework assignment that could last for life!

I haven’t yet had a chance to go on one of my book-buying binges with the shopping list you all contributed (don’t worry – I’m going to “force” myself to snag some soon!), so I hope you can tolerate another article with a couple of books from my current stash.  Once again, I’ve decided on a pair of non-fiction books with something of a genealogical theme. Continue reading

APG Names Journal Editors

I received the following press release from APG last week. Congratulations to Anastasia and Laura!

The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) has named Anastasia Sutherland Tyler copy editor and Laura G. Prescott reviews editor of its quarterly journal that serves more than 1,700 members worldwide.

Tyler, of Tigard, Oregon, will edit copy and help develop a style manual for the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ). She is  editor of Ancestry Monthly, an e-mail newsletter, produced by The Generations Network, Inc. (formerly, Inc.) of Provo, Utah, for more than 400,000 subscribers. She is also currently associate editor/writer of The Generation Network’s Ancestry magazine and serves as an editorial services writer/editor in the company. Tyler taught a computer and print publishing course at Brigham Young University (BYU) and was managing editor of the university’s BYU Studies journal for academic professionals. At BYU, she received a B.A. degree in English with an emphasis on editing.

Prescott, of Brookline, New Hampshire, will be responsible for reviews of new publications and products that assist and inform members in the profession. She is a professional researcher, genealogy project manager for the Nickerson Family Association, and a freelance writer and speaker. She was marketing division director of Heritage Books, Inc., Westminster, Maryland, and marketing director and genealogy outreach project manager to libraries for the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

A key membership benefit, APGQ, under the direction of managing editor Matthew Wright, provides news about the organization and chapters as well as articles that help professionals grow and become more successful. Started in 1979, APG ( is the world’s leading professional organization of family history and related professionals.

New Collaborative Features Added to Trees at Ancestry

While I was out of the office last week, Ancestry launched some new features to the trees, which allow contributors to online trees to add photos and document images, making it easier for families to collaborate and share family treasures.  Below is the press release announcing the changes.


Now the Entire Family Can Add Photos, Stories and Other Family Treasures to a Shared Family Tree

PROVO, UTAH – December 21, 2006 – To celebrate the holiday season,, the world’s largest online family history resource, today introduced new site features that make building family history something a family can do together. The new site enhancements let amateur family historians everywhere get the whole family involved in the creation and preservation of their personal family history. Now, anyone can build a family tree for free and invite their loved ones to contribute photographs, stories, cherished family documents, and personal memorials to a shared family tree, whether they live in the same home or are spread out across the world.

A family historian can either keep these personal memories and archival photos private on their family tree, or they can choose to share their family history with the world on, contributing to the largest collection of online family history records. When they are shared, these historical family photos and scanned documents then become searchable on and available for family members, far and wide, to discover and add to their own family legacies.

When getting together with loved ones for the holidays, family members can bring their favorite family photos and memorabilia and take advantage of the time together to collect pieces of their family stories. Home sources such as photographs, family Bibles, documents (birth, marriage, or death certificates, etc.) and other heirlooms are often the best place to start when building a family tree. Searching through these keepsakes could reveal fascinating details about a family’s past. Continue reading

Weekly Planner: Stir Up Conversation

During this holiday season as you’re enjoying time with family, spice up conversation with copies of records you’ve found. Check out the free historical newspaper sample pages online at These actual news accounts of historical events are bound to get the conversation and memories flowing. And check out the letters to Santa that appeared in newspapers from the 1920s and 30s. They are bound to stir up memories of Christmases past. Who knows? Maybe among those memories you’ll find a clue you can use in your family history quest!

AWJ Editor’s Update (28 December 2006): The problem has now been fixed and the images are available. –Juliana

A Mailbox of Memories, by Maureen Taylor

holiday mailbox.jpgI can’t wait to open my mailbox during the holiday season. It’s like opening a treasure box every time someone sends a note telling me about their year. There are a number of people who are in touch only once a year and seeing their handwriting makes my beat-up letter box the bearer of memories.

The tradition of sending holiday greetings is centuries old. The first Christmas greetings weren’t cards but letters, something similar to those mass-produced notes written by families today. Instead of printed missives, they were handwritten, but those holiday wishes have a lot in common with the ones handed out today because they shared family news.

According to the Encyclopedia of Christmas by Tanya Gulevich (Omnigraphics, 2000), the first cards celebrated New Year’s, with the earliest surviving example from 1466. It was a fad that didn’t last. The holiday cards we send today began in England only in the 1840s. These small, non-folding cards included decorative elements such as flowers and lace because their designs actually evolved from Valentines. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Looking for Help in the New Year?

from Loretto D. Szucs 

Are you anxious to get your research off on the right foot in the New Year? Help may be as close as your local society and now is a great time to join.

If your research interests lie elsewhere, that shouldn’t stop you. Help may come in the form of a periodical delivered via snail mail or e-mail, online conferences, discounts on research services, online classes, exclusive access to online databases, and in a variety of other ways. If you are in the area, check to see when their next meeting or conference is planned.

As an added bonus, when you are on a society membership list, you can be counted as someone with an interest in family history. When legislation arises that threatens the records we use, these membership numbers can be used to exert influence over those we vote into (or out of) office.

Check out the societies that are out there for your area of interest and see what they have to offer. You can find many societies through the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ Society Hall.

Click here for a printer friendly version of this article.

Your Quick Tips, 25 December 2006

Cemetery Essentials
I had recently submitted a tip about getting “extra” photos at the cemetery while doing volunteer photos, and it crossed my mind that it might be a good idea to list some “essentials” to take along with you. The list below is only a starting point and others may have ideas as well.

  • First and foremost is water! To drink and to wet down the old stones; it makes them much easier to read. I use a one-gallon pump sprayer and carry water bottles in my car as extras.
  • Some sort of ground cover–a blanket or old quilt works well–and will keep you dry and clean.
  • Bug repellent in the warm weather.
  • A sharp knife to carve the grass away from those stones that are flat in the ground and overgrown.
  • A soft brush, to remove the surface dirt and mold. Spray first with the water and gently run the brush over the surface; do not scrub.
  • A wooden Popsicle stick, to get some of the moss out of the lettering.
  • An old towel or two to dry off the stone if it has water puddles.
  • A foil, car windshield reflector; this will help to direct the sun to the face of the stone if you are on the shady side of the cemetery.
  • I also carry a small pry-bar to help loosen those stones that are broken and embedded in the ground. I only use it when I have permission to do so–from the owner who has requested the photo, or from the individual who maintains the cemetery. I put a folded towel between the bar and the stone so as not to damage it.

Another thing to remember–no rubbing, no scraping, no shaving cream, no chalk–no kidding! Also never, never use bleach or any other chemical substance on any stone–WATER only.

Of course, don’t forget your camera, making sure your memory card is in it, and the batteries are fully charged. Depending on your location a few other ideas would be a cell phone and a GPS.

Bonnie Selig Continue reading

Year End Summary of The Year Was…

We’ve now covered one hundred and thirty-one years in The Year Was . . . series, ranging from 1765 to 1969. Here’s the complete list as of 31 December 2008:

The Year Was 1765
The Year Was 1770
The Year Was 1776
The Year Was 1780
The Year Was 1786
The Year Was 1788
The Year Was 1789
The Year Was 1790
The Year Was 1794
The Year Was 1800
The Year Was 1803
The Year Was 1805
The Year Was 1806
The Year Was 1807
The Year Was 1808
The Year Was 1809
The Year Was 1810
The Year Was 1811
The Year Was 1812
The Year Was 1813
The Year Was 1814
The Year Was 1815
The Year Was 1816
The Year Was 1817
The Year Was 1818
The Year Was 1819
The Year Was 1820
The Year Was 1821
The Year Was 1822
The Year Was 1823
The Year Was 1825
The Year Was 1826
The Year Was 1827
The Year Was 1828
The Year Was 1829
The Year Was 1830
The Year Was 1831
The Year Was 1832
The Year Was 1833
The Year Was 1834
The Year Was 1835
The Year Was 1837
The Year Was 1838
The Year Was 1839
The Year Was 1840
The Year Was 1841
The Year Was 1842
The Year Was 1843
The Year Was 1844
The Year Was 1845
The Year Was 1847
The Year Was 1848
The Year Was 1849
The Year Was 1850
The Year Was 1851
The Year Was 1852
The Year Was 1853
The Year Was 1854
The Year Was 1855
The Year Was 1857
The Year Was 1859
The Year Was 1860
The Year Was 1863
The Year Was 1864
The Year Was 1865
The Year Was 1866
The Year Was 1868
The Year Was 1869
The Year Was 1870
The Year Was 1871
The Year Was 1872
The Year Was 1873
The Year Was 1875
The Year Was 1876
The Year Was 1877
The Year Was 1879
The Year Was 1880
The Year Was 1882
The Year Was 1883
The Year Was 1884
The Year Was 1885
The Year Was 1886
The Year Was 1887
The Year Was 1888
The Year Was 1889
The Year Was 1890
The Year Was 1892
The Year Was 1893
The Year Was 1894
The Year Was 1895
The Year Was 1896
The Year Was 1897
The Year Was 1899
The Year Was 1900
The Year Was 1901
The Year Was 1902
The Year Was 1903
The Year Was 1906
The Year Was 1907
The Year Was 1908
The Year Was 1909
The Year Was 1910
The Year Was 1911
The Year Was 1913
The Year Was 1914
The Year Was 1915
The Year Was 1917
The Year Was 1918
The Year Was 1920
The Year Was 1921
The Year Was 1922
The Year Was 1923
The Year Was 1924
The Year Was 1925
The Year Was 1927
The Year Was 1929
The Year Was 1930
The Year Was 1933
The Year Was 1934
The Year Was 1935
The Year Was 1936
The Year Was 1938
The Year Was 1939
The Year Was 1941
The Year Was 1943
The Year Was 1947
The Year Was 1952
The Year Was 1955
The Year Was 1960
The Year Was 1964
The Year Was 1969