Weekly Planner: Start a Summer Scrapbook

When I was growing up, each summer our family would create a scrapbook chronicling our activities. Trips to visit family, Fourth of July parades, backyard barbeques, and just hanging out at home were all included. This year, I’ve started a folder of photographs on my computer and am dividing them into various activities. Since gas prices are high and money is tight, we’re spending a lot of time at home this summer, but that doesn’t mean I’m short on content. We’ve been working on a vegetable garden as a family and I have photographs of its progress. Small family barbeques, pool parties, day trips to Chicago and its museums, and playtime with our pets will all be included and remind us of our relaxing summer of 2008. Start gathering materials for your summer scrapbook and begin thinking about how you’d like to remember this year. We have a variety of formats to choose from these days. Products like AncestryPress offer a great alternative to traditional glue and scissors scrapbooks and offers long-lasting results.

Summer Photo Sense, by Maureen Taylor

beach umbrella.jpgThe picture taking season is upon us–graduations, recitals, weddings, and, of course, trips to the beach. But all this good weather also means heat and humidity. Think of them as the troublesome duo for photographers and their pictures. Here’s how to avoid some common problems:

A Gauzy View
Last summer we traveled from humid New England to even more humid Georgia. My husband toted along his digital camera. No problem, right? Well, when he downloaded all his pictures he discovered that the temperature change between the hotel room and the outdoors caused condensation on his lens. The result? All of his pictures were foggy. He forgot to let the camera acclimate to the change before using the device. There are a few ways to try to eliminate this issue. You can let your camera adjust to the difference in temperature and humidity before you take pictures or try tucking a little packet of silica gel (it absorbs moisture) into your camera case (not the camera itself). The long-term issue is a little more of a problem. Continued exposure to this condensation will rust your camera and destroy it. For additional tips look at Digicamhelp.com. Continue reading

Types of Marriage Records, by George G. Morgan

Marriages can be cause for great joy and celebration with families. The binding of two families together provides the opportunity for closer familial ties and, in some cases, the combining of family fortunes. From a genealogist’s perspective, a marriage provides another life event at which time documents were created. However, few researchers really examine the marriage documents and use them as clues to locate other records.

Types of Marriage Documents
There are several types of documents that may have been generated by the announcement and consecration of a marriage. These may include an engagement announcement published in a newspaper, a pronouncement of marriage banns, the issuance of a marriage license, a record in a county marriage ledger, a marriage certificate, the records of a religious institution, or a newspaper marriage announcement.  All of these provide opportunities for information to be recorded for posterity. Let’s look at the types of information each might include. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Genealogical Trip Savings, from Michael John Neill

Summer is travel time and genealogists are no exception. Keeping in mind that what works for one person may not work for another, here are a few quick ideas for stretching your genealogical travel dollar.

Can you take the train? The next time I go to downtown Chicago to do research, I plan on taking Amtrak. While not everyone lives close to an Amtrak station, for me this is an easier option and gets me downtown without the hassles of driving.
Is gas mileage the problem? If one day of research will do you, consider getting a weekend car rental. I have rented a car before on Thursday afternoon, returning it on Sunday. This works well for facilities that are open on Saturday as well as during the week. Many times this qualifies me for a much cheaper rate and I usually get a car that gets better mileage than mine. An added benefit is that if I have car trouble a distance from home, the rental company has to deal with it–not me.
Make digital copies. I love taking digital pictures of records, or using digital scanners (where available) to make copies from microfilm. On recent trips to Salt Lake and Ft. Wayne, I did not make one microfilm or photocopy the entire time. While not all facilities support digitally scanning microfilm, some do, and those who are adept at using their digital camera may even have success photographing microfilmed images. I would suggest that this technique be practiced at home before your trip.
Get advice from the locals. If you will be traveling a distance to perform research in your ancestral hometown, post a question about local accommodations and other info to the message boards at Ancestry. Residents in the area may be able to give you suggestions on the best inexpensive motel, inexpensive activities to occupy spouses and children, and maybe even ideas on how to save money at the courthouse. Network with other researchers at your local genealogical society and with friends in your destination area to get additional ideas.
Are there other locations where you get the same record for less? Does the Family History Library or a state archives have the same record the county has? Do they charge a different fee than the local records office? A vital records clerk is not going to tell you that someone else has the same information or document at half the cost.

How are you saving money on your genealogical travels this summer? Feel free to post more suggestions in the comments section of this blog post.

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Your Quick Tips, 07 July 2008

Secondary Information on Death Certificates
One thing genealogists need to keep in mind is that most of the information gathered in some states for death certificates is given by an informant who may just be a neighbor or doctor. This person may have limited or no knowledge of the person’s family and may not know where and when the person was born.

Iris Stone Continue reading

The Year Was 1808

The year was 1808, and it was a year of the “Rum Rebellion” in New South Wales, Australia (which, interestingly, had absolutely nothing to do with rum, and was not technically a rebellion, but rather a coup). At the time, New South Wales was under the leadership of Governor William Bligh, who most people remember from the mutiny on the H.M.S. Bounty. Although the area was technically a penal colony, by this time most of the population was made up of free ex-convicts and settlers. Governor Bligh had made enemies among some of the locals and within the ranks of the NSW Corps. Many NSW members at that time maintained significant commercial interests in the area, a practice of which Bligh disapproved. On 26 January 1808, the NSW Corps arrested Governor Bligh and held him under house arrest for a year while awaiting a replacement from Britain. The leader of the coup was prosecuted, but received only a dismissal from the military, and it paved the way for a government under new leadership, and with new forces to uphold that government.

At the start of 1808, Finland was part of Sweden and the country was one hole in the net that Napoleon had cast over Europe that allowed British trade to reach the continent. To mend that hole, Napoleon enlisted the help of Tsar Alexander I. In 1807, the two leaders had agreed to divide Europe between the two countries. Russia invaded Finland in February and by the end of the war in 1809 had taken control of the country, creating the Grand Duchy of Finland.

To the south, Napoleon placed his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne after sending 100,000 troops through the country to grab power in Portugal the previous year. The Spanish rebelled and found an ally in the British who sent expeditionary troops led by Lt.-Gen. Sir Arthur Wellesley. The Peninsular War would go on until Napoleon’s abdication in 1814.

In 1808, John Jacob Astor began building the American Fur Company, which would eventually grow to control the fur trade in the U.S. The trading posts and trade routes established by the company helped pave the way to further exploration and settlement of the West.

The start of 1808 also brought with it a ban on the importation of slaves to the U.S., which took effect on 1 January. Despite continued smuggling in some areas, this legislation was important because it slowed the flow of slaves into the U.S. At the time, three-fifths of the slave population was counted with the white population, which affected the balance of representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, with Southern states benefitting greatly from the slave population numbers.

A major source of fuel for the growing U.S. was discovered when Judge Jesse Fell of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, began burning anthracite coal in his home fireplace. Cleaner burning and more economical than wood, this innovation soon spread to other homes in the area. Once transportation became available to transport the heavy fuel from the area, anthracite coal went on to help fuel America’s Industrial Revolution.

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Photo Corner

William Monroe Chapin, who married Theresa Cecelia JaworskiContributed by David Chapin
This is the wedding portrait of my great-uncle, William Monroe Chapin, who married Theresa Cecelia Jaworski on 4 September 1937 at the Church of St. Adalbert in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Margaret Theresa Baker, with the family dog (name unknown), born in Wymore, Gage County, NebraskaContributed by William Overton, Las Vegas, Nevada
Attached is a picture of my grandmother, Margaret Theresa Baker, with the family dog (name unknown), born in Wymore, Gage County, Nebraska, December 1914. This picture was taken in 1917, probably in Wymore or Alliance, Nebraska.

Ancestry Now Digitizing Onsite at NARA

National Archives ext. bandw.bmpBack in May, I blogged about an agreement between NARA and Ancestry that would allow Ancestry to digitize records onsite at Ancestry. I was browsing through the Ancestry blog and apparently that process has begun.

While Ancestry has made digitized copies of previously microfilmed records available in the past, what’s exciting about this is that Ancestry is now onsite digitizing collections that were previously only available at the National Archives. According to the Ancestry blog post by Chris Lydiksen,

Two of the early projects are 1) Death Reports of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974 and 2) Passenger and Crew Arrival and Departure Lists, 1897-1958.

New Homepage on Ancestry.com

Ancestry____logo.bmpToday, Ancestry.com launched a brand-new homepage that logged-in members will see the next time they visit the site. According to the Ancestry blog, 

By combining the two pages into a single new home page, we’ve reduced the number of clicks it takes you go get to the features you use most.  You may have already noticed that since we combined the two pages, there is no longer a separate “My Ancestry” tab, or link in the header. All of the tools and features from the My Ancestry page can now be found on the new home page.

New sections will also keep you informed on new features and records added to Ancestry.com, and one feature I particularly like is the ability to create your own “Quick Links” to your favorite databases, record collections, message boards, and other pages you visit frequently on the site.  You’ll also find your Shoebox items, Recent Activity and a new To-Do List to help you stay organized.

You can learn more about the new home page and submit feedback through this FAQ page that highlights the new features.

UPDATE 07 July 2008: Melissa Philips has posted a follow-up message in response to the feedback they have been receiving. In it she outlines some changes that are in the works for the new homepage. Click here to read her update.