Weekly Planner: Putting Great-Grandma in Perspective

Spend some time this week learning more about one of your female ancestor’s life. Check censuses for snippets of information like how many children she gave birth to and how many were still living (1900 and 1910 censuses), age at first marriage (1930 census), education and literacy, etc. Look at age and cause of death found on death records.Antoinette Fazzino, ten years old, makes Irish lace for collars and waists after school. (From LOC Photo Collection at Ancestry.com) Was it a prolonged illness through which she continued to take care of her family? Or perhaps one that meant they had to care for her? Compile an in-depth summary of what you know about her from the records you have, and then expand your search outward, documenting new information as you find it. Research the environment or environments she lived in, the climate, and historical events that may have impacted her and her family. Did she go from relative urban comforts to a new home in a frontier? What forms of transportation were available to her? By looking closer at what you have and doing some extra digging (check out Paula’s article for ideas), you can gain a better appreciation for the women in your family tree and throughout history.

Have you found an interesting tidbit about one of your female ancestors? Share your story in the comments section of this post.

Click on the image to enlarge it. Continue reading

Learning More About Women’s History During Women’s History Month, by Paula Stuart Warren, CG

Farmer's wife, Auburn, California, December 1940 (from LOC Photo Coll. at Ancestry.com)Our family recently had the opportunity to take two separate four-generation pictures. One was of my mother, me, my daughter, and her daughter. The other was of my mother, my sister, and her daughter and granddaughter. This got me thinking about the women in our ancestry and more about who they were. A common thread was the strength they displayed.

I sent my daughter an e-mail telling her about some of these strong women in her ancestry and about a few scoundrels too. The next step was to pick a woman in my family to be my female hero. I had a difficult time choosing as there were several; some were not direct ancestors. I never did narrow it down to one, and so I began to think of ways I could honor them.

In My Background
I jotted some notes on them. Several lived well into their 90s, some were widowed at a young age, one taught handicapped children, and another grew up without a mother. One was a poet, and three were successful businesswomen in the early twentieth century. Almost all were very poor and families came before education. Many lost several children at birth or shortly after. One disgraced her family, one was abandoned by her husband, and another raised her own children and her husband’s by his first wife who was deceased. Still others need to have their stories discovered.

Honor Your Women
You probably have similar stories in your family history. Have you honored the women in your family? Perhaps you have written the stories of the females in your family or have thought about it? Did they have siblings, an education, servants, or were they slaves? Did they travel alone from one country to another, raise children on their own, or take in a sister’s orphaned children? Did they travel westward in a wagon or on foot, attend college in a time when it was rare for a female to do so, write poetry, give up marriage to care for elderly parents, or work for some social cause? Did she live without indoor plumbing or electricity? Did a widow work two jobs to ensure a college education for her children? Continue reading

Using Ancestry: Identifying Your Family in Pre-1850 Censuses, by Michael John Neill

One hurdle faced by family historians is working in pre-1850 census records. Although only the heads of household are listed, these records do have value. Head of household census records can provide valuable clues about family structure that may not be available in other records. Census records should be included as an integral part of any research plan for 1790-1850 era research.

Assessment of pre-1850 federal census enumerations needs to be done carefully, as occasionally different interpretations can reasonably be made. It is important to note assumptions and track the research process, so that the logic can be reviewed at a later date by the researcher or by other family members. Let’s take a look at four enumerations for a family as they migrate from Kentucky to Indiana in the 1830s. We will see how even these limited enumerations shed some light on the structure of the family of Augusta and Melinda/Belinda Newman.

Do You Have the Right People?
It is imperative to make sure you are actually tracking the correct family, particularly in years when only heads of household are listed. Generally speaking, this would come from an analysis of census enumerations making certain the family structure is relatively consistent from one enumeration to the next, that the enumerations do not blatantly contradict what is known about the family from other records, and that the migration paths suggested by such enumerations are reasonable. The laws of space, time, physics, and biology should not have to be violated in order for the information to be “consistent.” Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Support Your Local Society, from Jana Sloan Broglin, CG

Support your local society. The title may be a bit of a take-off on the old movie, “Support Your Local Sheriff,” but the meaning is basically the same. Support. Do you support your local genealogical society? Been meaning to go to a meeting but haven’t? Don’t have any ancestors from the area? Think again! Even if you don’t have any ancestors in the area where you live, you can contribute to the local society by helping transcribe records, give speaking ideas for the meetings, or even bring cookies. Remember, someone where you DID have ancestors may be thinking the same thing. Why should I contribute? Wouldn’t you love it if they helped transcribe records you needed in your research?

If you live in a state with an active statewide society, attend those seminars and conferences. Speakers at these events can give insight to genealogical research not only within the state but out-of-state as well. Exhibit halls can have everything from books and CDs to DNA testing and information, and genealogical supplies. Many of the regional and state conferences also have local societies exhibit. What better way to find out about a society than to speak to representatives of that organization? Local society exhibits may also have publications for sale as well as a calendar of their society meetings.

So get out there! Support your local society.

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Your Quick Tips, 19 March 2007

Ruins of the burnt district, from the Canal basin, Richmond, Va., looking east [Civil War], 1865 (from LOC Photo Collection at Ancestry.com) Searching Sideways
Does your ancestor have a common name like George Washington? Searching for a common or famous name will result in thousands of “hits” that can take weeks or months to sift through. Instead try searching sideways. Searching for an in-law or spouse can significantly cut down the time in your research for a common or famous name. In addition, it can provide leads where a brick wall lies. So the next time you’re stuck, try searching sideways.

Terrie Washington-Routh Continue reading

The Year Was 1872

Teton Range from Yellowstone Park, Wyoming (from LOC Photo Collection at Ancestry.com)The year was 1872, and in the U.S., it was an election year. In a landslide victory, President Ulysses S. Grant won a second term, defeating Horace Greeley, carrying 286 electoral votes to his forty-two. In that election, votes were cast by several women, including one Susan B. Anthony. The suffragette was later arrested and in 1873, after her trial, she is fined $100–a fine which she would never pay.

Also that year, for the first time, a woman was nominated for President of the United States. Victoria Woodhull, who grew up amidst a traveling family that sold patent medicines and fortune-telling, was nominated by the Equal Rights party, with Frederick Douglass nominated as her running mate–a nomination he later declined. Victoria and her sister, Tennessee, had with the help of Cornelius Vanderbilt, become the first women to found a banking and brokerage firm on Wall Street. From there, she and Tennie began publication of Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, which tackled many of the issues that interested them such as labor rights and women’s suffrage. It was her advocacy for “free love” that earned her the contempt of many, and amidst attacks on her person, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly published a story revealing an affair between the highly respected Rev. Henry Ward Beecher and his best friend’s wife, along with another scandalous expose. The story landed Victoria in jail on election day for libel and for sending obscene materials through the mail, a violation of the Comstock Act. Continue reading

Photo Corner

Risdon Darracot Gribble, in his Confederate uniformContributed by Barbara Holt Warren, MD, Tucson, Arizona
Attached is a photograph of my great-grandfather, Risdon Darracot Gribble, in his Confederate uniform. He was born 26 April 1836 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and died in Houston, Texas, in 1908. His parents were Joseph Besley Gribble and Margaret James who immigrated to the U.S. from Barnstaple, England, in 1831.

Click on images to enlarge them.

Margaretha Schwab, age nineteen in 1886 shortly after her arrival in New York from Dirmstein, Bavaria.Contributed by R. Burns
This is my great-grandmother, Margaretha Schwab, taken at age nineteen in 1886 shortly after her arrival in New York from Dirmstein, Bavaria. She married a Mr. Stoffel after her arrival but was widowed and married my great-grandfather, Leopold Friederick Schumann, in 1888.

Ancestry.com Digitizes All Readily Available Iowa State Census Records From 1836 to 1925

Ancestry leaf logo.bmpMore Than 14 Million Records Offer Insight Into State and Family Histories   

From Notable Natives, John Wayne and President Herbert Hoover, to the Settlers of the 1830s

Free access to the Iowa State census records collection will be available on Ancestry.com through the end of March.

PROVO, Utah, March 15 /PRNewswire/ – Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online resource for family history, today announced that it has digitized and indexed all readily available Iowa State census records from 1836 to 1925. Researchers spent more than two years manually entering each name from actual early handwritten documents, bringing nearly a century of Iowa State history to life at the click of a mouse. In total, the collection features more than 14 million Iowa State census records and more than 3 million images, making Ancestry.com the first and only online source to provide access to all publicly released Iowa State census records. “Census records are the backbone of family history. They’re more than just names and numbers. If you look closely, they tell stories,” said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com. “The Iowa state census records, in particular, provide a wide range of snapshots into the lives and lifestyles of Iowan ancestors. With these records now available online, Iowans can dig deeper into their state and family histories.”

Searching for Genealogical Gold
Iowa has an exceptionally rich census repertoire, having taken censuses more frequently than any other state in America. The Iowa census collection contains more than 14 million Iowa State census records from 28 state censuses. The state conducted five complete, statewide censuses of all 99 counties and 23 partial censuses, of which all but three contain 13 counties or less. The 1925 census, widely regarded as genealogical gold, is the highlight of the collection, featuring more detail than any other censuses in Iowa or most other states. Unique information available in this enumeration include mother’s maiden name and father’s full name, birthplace and year of marriage, providing invaluable insight and additional clues to help discover family history. Other data listed in Iowa census records include name, age, gender, race, marital status, place of residence, parents’ names and each resident’s war service and citizenship status.

“The 1925 census’s depth and detail is recognized across the country as a one-of-a-kind resource which, to the best of my knowledge, can’t be found anywhere else,” said Theresa Liewer, President, Iowa Genealogical Society. “Although census records are available on microfilm at our library, being able to use the online indexes and access the digitized versions makes it easier to sort through millions of names and find that elusive ancestor who sometimes seems to be deliberately hiding at the click of a mouse.” Continue reading

Megan Awards February Grant

Megan Smolenyak SmolenyakAncestry Weekly Journal columnist, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, has announced the recipient of her February grant this week. Cemetery Surveys, Inc. was the recipient and according to their site,

Rose Birdwell and daughter in law Nikki Neblett started this site by looking for Nikki’s ancestors in Cherokee Co., NC. in 1999. We had a digital camera, so we decided to do every stone in every cemetery that we did, and put it on the internet, so that others would benefit. For awhile, we stayed in just Cherokee Co., but then we started getting requests for other cemeteries in other counties. In two years, we had about 200 cemeteries indexed and online.

Congratulations to this very worthy site! For more information on Megan’s grant program or to submit a candidate, see her Honoring Our Ancestors website.

Drouin Records Posted on Ancestry

Citadelle Et Fortifications, Quebec, ca. 1915-30) from Ancestry Historical Postcards CollectionIn the 1940s the Institut Généalogique Drouin began microfilming records pertaining to French Canadians throughout French Canada and America. Consequently, this filmed set of records has become known as the Drouin Collection. The entire Drouin Collection contains vital, notarial, and other miscellaneous records from Quebec, as well as French Catholic parish records from Ontario, Acadia, and the U.S. The majority of the records are written in French, but some are written in English, Latin, or Italian.

With cooperation and support from experts at the University of Montreal, Ancestry is in the process of indexing the collection. Currently, all of the images are accessible by browsing through time periods and locations. Ancestry will post the index and provide a French interface for improved searching as soon as they become available.

Source Information: Ancestry.com. Quebec Notarial Records (Drouin Collection), 1647-1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.

Click through for descriptions and links to individual databases in this collection. Continue reading