Your Quick Tips, 15 October 2007

Cite Those Sources
Back in the dark ages, when I began researching my family, I paid no attention to the space at the bottom of the family group sheet labeled “Source.” What was the purpose? After all, I knew who gave me the information. Little did I realize that my file would grow–and grow–and grow, and the day would come when I’d look at a name and wonder, “Where did I get your name? Is that really your DOB? How do I know? Did I read it somewhere? Did someone send it to me? Who? Why?”
When the importance of sources was made apparent to me, a couple of decades had gone by, and I had a lot of ground to go over again.  Believe me, the time spent on re-doing something that would have been so easily done to begin with was resented. After all, I was getting on in years, and those years were gone, never to be relived.
Now I am considered an experienced researcher and am often asked for advice. The first thing I tell folks just starting out is, “Document! Even if it’s only ‘Aunt Mary said…’ — enter where you obtained your information!”
Wish someone had told me this back in 1964.
Shirley (Turner) Shiver Continue reading

The Year Was 1859

The year was 1859 and in Europe, Moldavia and Wallachia were joined to form Romania. Further west the small Italian state of Piedmont, backed by the French Emperor Napoleon III, was engaged in war with Austria. The war ended with Piedmont gaining Lombardy, but not Venicia, which it had also sought.

Another war began in 1859, but not by statesmen hungry for land; this time it was a pig hungry for potatoes. Boundaries in the Pacific Northwest were still an issue, and possession of the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington was claimed by both America and Great Britain. When a pig wandered into the potato patch of Lyman Cutlar, the American settler shot it. The British owner of the pig was none too happy with the incident and when the British threatened to arrest Cutlar, he was supported by the U.S. 9th infantry. Soon the British had three warships, and thusly the tensions and number of combatants on either side grew. The standoff went on for twelve years and was finally decided by an outside party. In October 1872 Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany made the decision that since it was south of the 49th parallel, the San Juan Islands should be American property.

In the southern hemisphere, Queensland was separated from New South Wales, becoming a self-governing colony.

In the U.S., with the Civil War on the horizon, the road to Oregon statehood was marked by the questions of the day. Oregonians approved a constitution in 1857 and voted against slavery, and also against allowing free African-Americans to reside in the state. When the time came for the territory of Oregon to become a state in February of 1859, it was decided that Oregon would be a free state, even though its senators were pro-slavery.

The slavery issue had reached a boiling point and on Sunday night, 16 October, abolitionist John Brown and a group of his followers raided the armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. They had hoped that slaves in the area would rise up and aid in their cause. That didn’t happen and when the raiders were discovered on Monday morning local militias arrived and Brown and his raiders were trapped in the armory. Colonel Robert E. Lee was called in to rout the raiders and all but five were captured or killed. Ten days after his raid, John Brown was hanged for treason, but his words before climbing to the scaffold would ring true: “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”

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Photo Corner

Carlton F. Bassow, born in Athol, Massachusetts, June 1908, died 1978Contributed by Carolyn F. (Bassow) Landry, Berlin, Massachusetts
This is a photo of my father, Carlton F. Bassow, born in Athol, Massachusetts, June 1908, died 1978. He served in the Army Air Corps as a Captain during WWII, and as a Flight Surgeon, and was stationed in New Guinea for two years. After the war, he went back to his medical practice in Athol, Massachusetts.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Angela Lacirignola, ca. 1929, at her confirmation at St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church in New York City, New YorkContributed by Susan Beyer
This photo is a photo of my mother, Angela Lacirignola, ca. 1929, at her confirmation at St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church in New York City, New York. She was about thirteen years old. 

Wall Street Journal Features Maureen Taylor on Identifying Photographs

I was thrilled to see our friend Maureen Taylor featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal. The article includes a number of stories on how she has helped to identify photographs and there are some great tips that we can all learn from.

You can read the entire article online at and visit Maureen’s website to see hear about more photo mysteries Maureen has solved.

Congrats to Maureen on a really neat story!



George G. Morgan joins Pharos Teaching & Tutors

Pharos Tutors.bmpPharos Teaching & Tutoring has been providing a special way of learning about British and Irish family history – through online courses since March 2006.  Now, George G. Morgan, President of Aha! Seminars, Inc., international conference speaker, best selling author of How to Do Everything with Your Genealogy and the new Official Guide to, and self-confessed “rabid genealogist” joins the list of teachers bringing new subjects to Pharos., aimed at helping North American researchers ‘leap the pond’ to their ancestral roots in Britain and Europe.

George’s first course for Pharos is U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Records: Keys to Ancestral Origins.  The course starts on 30th October and runs for six weeks.  George’s second course-U.S. Genealogical Research Using the Internet-will be run early in 2008. Continue reading

Ancestry Introduces Digital Scrapbooking Application to Let Members Create Personalized Family History Books

Ancestry____logo2.bmpAncestryPress Offers Easy-to-Use Tool for Creating Family History Books, Heirloom Recipe Books and More

PROVO, UTAH – October 9, 2007 –, the world’s largest online resource for family history, today launched AncestryPressTM, a tool that lets users create professionally printed, custom family history books, family recipe books and more. With this new state-of-the-art publishing tool, offers users a one-stop solution to build their family tree, discover historical documents about their ancestors, collaborate with their family members and create high-quality family history books for themselves or family gifts.

In the past fourteen months, users have built more than 3.5 million family trees on In doing so they have created more than 300 million profiles, uploaded 3 million mostly vintage photographs from their personal albums and attached 40 million historical family records they found on AncestryPress provides a simple, easy-to-use way for these users to organize, preserve and display their hours of research in a professionally designed, coffee-table quality book and to share their passion with family.

“Family history is about discovering and telling the stories of the people whose lives shaped our own,” said Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of “For ten years, has been an indispensable resource for anyone interested in family history, from the most serious genealogist to someone just starting to build their family tree. Our members have always asked for ways to preserve and to share their hours and hours of research. Now AncestryPress gives our members the ability to create high-quality books of astonishing beauty and personal significance. We think that this is one of the most unique digital scrapbooking products on the market.”

AncestryPress exports profiles, historical documents and photographs from a user’s online family tree directly into automatically generated page layouts – such as illustrated family tree charts, biographical timelines and document pages. Users can easily customize the look and feel of each page by adding family photographs, changing backgrounds both plain and themed, using drag-and-drop page embellishments, writing text and more.

Beyond family history books, users can also use AncestryPress to create heirloom recipe books, complete with photos and memories of the family members who handed down the recipes, as well as photo pages, suitable for framing, that showcase important moments in their family’s history.

Once a user has finished adding personal touches to the book, they can choose from two simple printing options. Users can print individual pages immediately to a home printer. Or they can have professionally print and bind a full-color, hand-stitched, hardcover book.

Users can build their family tree online at and create their AncestryPress family history book at Web site subscribers can access’s collection of more than 5 billion names in historical records to discover the stories of their ancestors’ lives and add those documents to their family history books. Continue reading

New at Ancestry

Ancestry____logo2.bmpPosted this week:

Coming Soon 

  • U.S. Passport Applications, 1787-1925
  • Historic U.S. & Canada Atlases, 1591-2000
  • Major U.S. & Canada Newspaper Update
  • North Dakota State Census, 1915 & 1925
  • Oklahoma Territorial Census, 1890 & 1907
  • Southern Claims Commission Records 
  • Stars and Stripes, Pacific Theater, 1942-1964  


Weekly Planner: Five-Question Challenge–Fun and Games

chess.bmpIn honor of Family History Month, your challenge is to answer five questions from each Weekly Planner topic–or make up five of your own if you’d like. This week’s topic is fun and games. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What was your favorite game when you were a child? Were you a board game enthusiast? A card shark? Or perhaps a kick-the-can kid?
  • Did you play any particular games with your family as a child? Easter egg hunts? Thanksgiving Day football games? Scavenger hunts? Charades?
  • What were some fun places you visited as a child? Did your family go camping? Did you take family vacations? Was there a local destination that was a family favorite?
  • What activities did you do with family members? Did Grandma teach you to sew? Who taught you to cook? Did you go fishing with Grandpa? An uncle? Who coached your baseball team?
  • Did you enjoy watching professional sports? What was your favorite team? Do you have any special memories of sporting events?

Feel free to share your memories in the Comments section of the blog; or, if you have a blog, post a link to your responses. Your memories may help spark the memories of other readers who had similar experiences. For more interesting questions, see

Previous challenges:

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Using Ancestry: Making Your Tree Bloom, by Juliana Smith

Muriel Dyer APress--Pass. Arr. 1928-resize.bmpAs I looked out the window today, I noticed the leaves on my neighbor’s tree are beginning to turn. While the temperatures here in the Midwestern U.S. are still at summertime levels, there are other signs that fall is upon us. Before we go into hibernation mode, I like to take on some organizing and extra cleaning chores–another spring cleaning if you will. Cabinets are emptied and wiped down, with new shelf paper installed, carpets cleaned, closets tidied, etc. Even the garage gets the once over as we rearrange things so we can store patio furniture. As I look around me at what needs to be done and at my schedule, it seems impossible that I’ll get everything done–at least in this century! Time to panic? Not yet. I’m taking small steps, scheduling one extra chore each day, so that by the time November rolls around I’ll be in good shape. (Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?)

I’m also scheduling a little extra time to tidy up my online tree at Ancestry. Since I had found many records at Ancestry before it was possible to attach records from the site to your Personal Tree, not all of them are linked to my tree. I’m also scanning copies of other records that I don’t currently have in electronic format and adding them as well.

There are several reasons I need to get this done. First, I want the online tree to be as complete as possible. It’s nice to be able to reference it online and see images of the records you need to access without dragging notebooks and files all over. Also, with the Ancestry trees, once I attach an image, anyone I allow to access my tree can view that image. This allows me to collaborate freely with those I choose to invite to my tree–whether they have an Ancestry subscription or not. And with photos and images of records available on the site, even those cousins who previously weren’t interested in family history may come around.

Another good reason to tidy up my online tree is the newly launched AncestryPress. Once you have records and photographs in your tree, you can load it into AncestryPress where it will automatically create pages for a book, using the information you have provided. Then you can go in and customize the pages, creating your own heirloom book. You can print the book yourself, or pay Ancestry to have the book bound for you. I’ve seen samples that my coworkers have created and I have to say that the motivation to create a similar project is keeping me on track with my online housekeeping!

Getting Started
Like my fall cleaning chores, I’m taking it a little at a time, and I’m finding that it’s a great way to review and make sure I haven’t missed any clues. I exported only one branch of my family from my GEDCOM to start my project, and I am focusing on my grandmother’s line for now. Beginning with her, I am working my way back and inventorying each person, one at a time.

If you don’t already have a personal tree at Ancestry, it’s easy to get started. You can begin from scratch by entering information on the person you want to be the start person in your project and then working your way back as far as you can. Or, if you already have your family history project in a genealogical software program like “Family Tree Maker,” you can export the GEDCOM file and make that your tree. Most software packages will also allow you the choice of exporting the entire file, or just select individuals–like I did. Continue reading