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  • Historic U.S. and Canada Atlases, 1591-2000
  • North Dakota State Census, 1915 & 1925
  • Southern Claims Commission Records

Weekly Planner: Glean Family History Information from Holiday Greetings

Those holiday newsletters from family members contain a wealth of information to be mined. News of weddings, newborn babies, anniversary celebrations, the loss of a loved one–all are part of your family history. Save these greetings and enter the information you find in them in your genealogy database, citing the sources. Family newsletters are a real holiday “gift” to family historians!

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The “Original Record”–Points to Ponder, by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG

Oral history, family stories, a clerk in a courthouse, a website, a volunteer in a library–for the most part people mean well when they pass on information to you or others. Do you need to verify the family story from Aunt Maggie who is sharp as a tack? Wasn’t it neat to find the nicely typed index or abstract of records going all the way back to 1845? It is so much easier to read. However, here are some points to ponder if we want to figure out the real story.

The Typewriter
Is an 1855 record or index typewritten? If so, it is likely not an original record or index because common usage of the typewriter did not begin until the 1870s. Early versions of a “typewriter” cropped up over time, but were not commercially available until the Remington I (also known as the Sholes & Glidden Type Writer) was first sold in 1874.

Courthouse Records Were Burned
What if the story is that an original record was destroyed in a courthouse fire in 1882 or destroyed in 1862 during the Civil War? Yes, courthouses and other buildings were destroyed during the Civil War, fires happen, buildings are swept away by floods, but there may be times when such a story is convenient rather than true. If has an index to marriage records back to 1870, obviously the records weren’t destroyed in 1882. Read county and town histories and local newspapers for details on disasters. Check online catalogs of state archives to see if a set of records was transferred there. Continue reading

Sharing Family Lore, by George G. Morgan

I have often wished that it was possible to share all the things I’ve learned with a younger or less experienced person. It’s not that I feel superior to him or her in any way, but I would love to teach them a lot of human lore that could save them time, trouble, and perhaps even danger and grief.

The North and South American Indians were assumed to be ignorant savages by the first European explorers, but how wrong they were. The indigenous people had centuries of knowledge that helped assured their survival, even with primitive tools and weapons. They had a culture of knowledge, lore, religion, and traditions that sustained them. They passed this culture intact from generation to generation using stories, demonstration of skills, and repetitious practice. The Indians were, in many ways, far more intelligent and advanced than the Europeans. In fact, without the Indians’ assistance and instruction, the settlers could not have successfully hunted nor could they have raised many of the crops that kept them from starving in the unfamiliar new environment.

We seem to have lost a significant portion of the knowledge and lore that was passed down through families. Yes, we have schools, colleges, and universities to teach the masses. However, who is there to teach the younger generations the skills that could maintain their lives if there were no grocery stores, kitchen appliances, GPS devices, and computers? Not one child in a thousand knows how to harvest and grind flour and make bread. Very few could plot a travel route for themselves using the stars. And how many do you think could build a rudimentary house without a calculator, power tools, and nails and screws? Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Looking at Passport Applications, from Michael John Neill

J. Simeon Gentry applied for a passport to visit Cuba in December of 1919. There are two additional applications filed directly after his. The first is for his wife Lena, who indicates she is accompanying her husband on a visit to Cuba. The second application after Simeon Gentry’s is one for Dora Deatherage. All three were submitted in the same month and all three were acknowledged in a Knox County, Illinois, court on the same day. Based upon the relative ages of the applicants (and a look at the 1900 census), it appears that Dora Deatherage could be the mother of Lena Gentry. If individuals were traveling together, their applications might have been recorded in succession—make sure to look at records before and after the individual you find. The applications may not state they are traveling together, but look at their residences, destinations, and dates of application for further clues.

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The Year Was 1834

The year was 1834 and the year of a great fire at Westminster Palace in England. Home to Parliament, many records were lost in the conflagration which began with an over-stoked furnace. Records from the House of Lords had been moved to the Jewel Tower, which survived the fire, and other valuable records were saved by a clerk by the name of Henry Stone Smith, who tossed records from the window of the burning building.

On 1 August 1834, the Slavery Abolition Act went into effect, abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire.
Slaves were being used on British plantations in the Caribbean and the legislation provided that adult slaves would be transitioned to freedom via a period of “apprenticeship” that would last for four years for domestics, and six years for agricultural workers. (Public pressure later cut the six year apprenticeships to four years.)

Another important piece of British legislation was the “New Poor Law” of 1834. Your English Ancestry: A Guide for North Americans, by Sherry Irvine, includes the following information on the law:

“The growth in population, the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and hard times in the 1820s all put incredible stress on the parish system of poor relief. The payments over the whole country were becoming astronomical. Various changes were tried, Parliamentary commissions investigated, and the result, in 1834, was the New Poor Law. Parish-based relief disappeared, and administration was handed over to boards of guardians in roughly six hundred Poor Law Unions. Each had a workhouse where life was made as unattractive as possible. New residents gave up all their possessions, including clothing, and were given uniforms; the diet was boring and barely nourishing; families were separated; hours of work were long. The idea was to eliminate outdoor relief and make indoor relief something the poor would do everything possible to avoid. As under the old poor law, unions did not want to pay for support when someone else was responsible, so they actively sought those who had abandoned their families. Issues of the ‘Poor Law Unions’ Gazette’ survive at the British Newspaper Library; they attest to the irresponsibility of the named truants.” Continue reading

Photo Corner

Clifton Wallace Morgan and Anne Evelyn (Boyles) Morgan, Snow Ball 1953Contributed by Kaye K. Holmes
This picture of my mother and father was taken about 1950 at a “Snow Ball” in Chesapeake City, Maryland. My father, Clifton Wallace Morgan died in November 1953 and my mother Anne Evelyn (Boyles) Morgan died November 2007 at ninety-two.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Jean Lois Hobbs, and her father, Walter Raymond Hobbs, after a fishing trip in North Dakota ca 1922-23Contributed by Sandi Stringer, Glen Rose, Texas
This Christmas card is one of my favorite family pictures. It is my mother, Jean Lois Hobbs, and her father, Walter Raymond Hobbs, after a fishing trip in North Dakota. It was taken about 1922-23.

Family History Library and Major Regional Family History Center Patrons to Receive Free Access

Ancestry____logo.bmpFamilySearch and The Generations Network Agreement Give Patrons Access to More than 24,000 Databases and Titles

Provo, UT – December 19, 2007 – FamilySearch and The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of, today announced an agreement that provides free access of to patrons of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the thirteen largest regional family history centers effective today.

With this new agreement, full access will be provided to more than 24,000 databases and titles and 5 billion names in family history records. In addition to the Family History Library, the following 13 regional family history centers have been licensed to receive access to
• Mesa, Arizona
• Los Angeles, California
• Oakland, California
• Orange, California
• Sacramento, California
• San Diego, California
• Idaho Falls, Idaho
• Pocatello, Idaho
• Las Vegas, Nevada
• Logan, Utah
• Ogden, Utah
• St. George, Utah
• Hyde Park, London, England

“We’re excited for our patrons to receive online access to an expanded collection of family history records on,” said Don Anderson, director of FamilySearch Support. “’s indexes and digital images of census, immigration, vital, military and other records, combined with the excellent resources of FamilySearch, will increase the likelihood of success for patrons researching their family history.”

The Generations Network and FamilySearch hope to expand access to other family history centers in the future.

FamilySearch patrons at the designated facilities will have access to’s completely indexed U.S. Federal Census Collection, 1790-1930, and more than 100 million names in passenger lists from 1820-1960, among other U.S. and international record collections. Throughout the past year, has added indexes to Scotland censuses from 1841-1901, created the largest online collection of military and African American records, and reached more than 4 million user-submitted family trees.

Free access is also available at Brigham Young University Provo, Idaho, and Hawaii campuses, and LDS Business College patrons through a separate agreement with The Generations Network. Continue reading