Checking Out Local Papers

This week as I browsed through my local newspaper, I was reminded of how helpful it can be to check newspapers from the areas in which your ancestors lived. Our paper runs a series called “Past Times” and it includes headlines from seventy-five, fifty, twenty-five, twenty, ten, and five years ago, as well as an old photograph. This week’s photo was a beautiful old photograph of fifty-five children who had made their First Communion at St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Whiting, Indiana, in 1918. Even in the newsprint, the faces were very clear. Launches Largest U.S. Military Records Collection Available Online — Free Until June 6th

Memorial Day 2007_edited-1.bmp is announcing it has launched the largest collection of U.S. military records available and searchable online, featuring more than 90 million names that span more than four centuries of American history from the 1600s through Vietnam.

This U.S. Military Collection includes exclusive record sets such as the only complete collection of WWI draft registration cards and commemorative military yearbooks and newspapers. Combined, the records bring to life the stories and sacrifices of the millions of brave men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Inside the U.S. Military Collection’s U.S. Military Collection captures all major wars and conflicts from American history, including the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts as well as the Spanish-American War and the War of 1812. Continue reading

Jamestown Photos

I’m sorry this week was a little slow on the blog, but today as I was going through some emails I found these pictures that I received from the Jamestown 400th anniversary celebration last weekend and thought I’d share them with you. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Jamestown 400th Anniversary-Ancestry BoothJamestown 400th Anniversary

For those of you interested in learning more about Jamestown, the Ancestry Store has a collection of books on sale. Click here to browse. (Sale only runs through May.)

Weekly Planner: Investigate Siblings, Cousins, Aunts, and Uncles

Too often we have tunnel vision in our quest to find our ancestors and we overlook extended family members. Choose a sibling, cousin, in-law, step-parent, step-child, or some other collateral relative and see how much you can learn about him or her. You’ll be surprised at how often the information you gather on seemingly distant family members aids in your direct-line research.

Using Ancestry: Tracking Siblings Forward, by Juliana Smith

Margaret Howley Dyer, Juliana's great-grandmotherIn last week’s column, we talked about various search techniques for the U.S. federal censuses at If you’re still looking for that difficult someone, you might want to check out the comments that have been added to the blog.  A number of readers added their own search tips and reading them has inspired me to delve into my family history again. This week I pulled out one of my tougher lines–the Howleys.

I have to admit, that although I periodically work on this family, it typically gets thrust back into the recesses of my cabinet because it’s so darn frustrating! These people really weren’t very good with dates. In the few census enumerations I’ve been able to find for my second great-grandfather, Thomas Howley, he only ages five or six years between the ten-year federal enumerations. Quite a feat, but he makes up for it by aging seven years between the 1880 census and his death in 1884. Argh!

His wife Jane wasn’t any more consistent. I have her in every available federal census between 1860 and 1910 and using the ages given, her dates of birth range between 1831 (which is correct) and 1840. Her immigration date, where given, is also “give or take ten years.” (You can see why they tend to get put back in the cabinet!)

I resisted the urge to file them away this time. As I browsed through the binder that holds all the records I’ve found on that family, I noticed that I only had scattered information on Thomas and Jane’s children, with the exception of my great-grandmother, Margaret. I have a few census listings and my mom was fortunate enough to obtain correspondence from family members confirming several of the daughters’ married names. But a glance at a timeline of the family reminded me that in several cases the children carried on the tradition of “blurry dates.”

I set out to fill in the blanks as best I could with missing census records for each family member. As I went along, I was reminded of how important it is to complete census work on each and every family member. We should be gathering every single clue from these records that are now so readily available.

Of course I had census enumerations for the siblings for the years they were at home with the family, but in most cases, once they married and moved on, I stopped looking for them. Duh! These are the children of my “brick wall” ancestor too. I need to be collecting all of their vital records too, and the census is a great place to start that search. Let’s review… Continue reading

The Cause of Death Was . . . by George G. Morgan

celtic tombstone.jpgI saw a news story recently about medical studies verifying that coronary disease is hereditary. Now, you may not think that this is earth-shattering news, but Intermountain Healthcare’s LDS Hospital has begun a remarkable study. On 9 May 2007, it launched the Intermountain Genealogical Registry, a lineage-based population database containing the pedigrees of more than 10 million individuals–the largest in the United States–who have lived or whose descendants have lived in the intermountain region of the United States. The purpose of this groundbreaking new database is to enhance the discovery of genetic factors that contribute to cardiovascular diseases through the study of a large population of patients in which cardiovascular diseases appear to cluster in certain families.

Meanwhile, the Genome Project continues to identify specific genes that cause or contribute to physical attributes in families and individuals, including a predisposition to develop particular medical conditions. If you are considering having your DNA tested, it is possible that the results will connect you to other persons to whom you are genetically related. As a result, you may also begin studying death certificates and causes of death much more carefully–not just casually or academically, but for clues to possible susceptibilities that you, yourself, and your descendants may have. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Browsing the Stacks, from Maureen Taylor

books.jpgWhile I love browsing online, it just isn’t the same as scanning the shelves at a public library. The other night when looking for a different book, I came across a handy little volume. “Frew’s Daily Archive—A Calendar of Commemorations,” by Andrew Frew (McFarland & Company, 1984), is a daily accounting of special days and holidays. A list of commemorative days for each May includes well-known events such as Kentucky Derby Day and Mother’s Day but how many of us knew that this month is also known for the Festival of the Hare. That one will take a little more research. Under each day for a given month are holidays celebrated and notable events. For instance I learned that on 8 May 1878, Paul Hines of the Providence Greys made the first Major League triple play on record. That’s a bit a baseball trivia to file away for the future. Maybe that’s not useful to your family history, but knowing that Minnesota joined the Union on 11 May 1858 might help you date a photograph of your relatives posed on their front porch waving the flag. 

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