NARA Proposing to Raise Reproduction Fees Significantly

If you’ve been putting off ordering great-grandpa’s Civil War Pension file, it’s time to act. The National Archives is revising its fees for making copies of records. Below are the proposed prices for some commonly requested records:

  • Passenger arrival lists (NATF Form 81) $25.00
  • Federal Census requests (NATF Form 82) $25.00
  • Eastern Cherokee applications to the Court of Claims (NATF Form 83) $25.00
  • Land entry records (NATF Form 84) $40.00
  • Full pension file more than 75 years old–Civil War period (NATF Form 85) $125.00
  • Full pension file more than 75 years old–non-Civil War (NATF Form 85) $60.00
  • Pension documents packet–selected records (NATF Form 85) $25.00
  • Bounty land warrant application files (NATF Form 85) $25.00
  • Military service files more than 75 years old (NATF Form 86) $25.00 Continue reading

German Postcards Now Available at Ancestry

Bingen a. Rhein, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, ca. 1907-15Ancestry has posted a collection of Germany Historical Postcards Collection, c. 1893-1963 online. The database contains approximately 1,498 postcards dating from about 1893-1963 with photos of places in Germany. Information provided about each postcard includes:

  • Place information (city/town, state/province)
  • Caption
  • Postcard era (year range from which the postcard may be dated)

This database is primarily useful for obtaining a photograph or picture of a specific place in time. If you do not already have pictures of the places your ancestors lived, historical postcards are a good alternative to personal photos.

This photograph is from the collection and is from Bingen a. Rhein, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, ca. 1907-15. Click on the image to enlarge it.

New Database: Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1915

Fifth Street, Leavenworth, Kansas, 1867Ancestry has added Kansas State Censuses, 1865-1915 and voters lists for the years 1855-59 to its online offerings. Information available for an individual will vary according to the census year and the information requested on the census form. Some of the information contained in this database though includes:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Relationship to head of household
  • Birthplace
  • Marital Status
  • Place of enumeration

Additional information about an individual, such as their occupation, where from, or whether able to read or write, may be available on the actual census record. Be sure to view the corresponding image in order to obtain all possible information about an individual.

The photograph above was part of a stereograph found in the Photo Collection. It is of Leavenworth, Kansas, ca. 1867. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Sharpton-Thurmond Link Causes Stir in News Media

The recent discovery by Ancestry and the New York Daily News that Al Sharpton’s great-grandfather was a slave owned by a relative of the late Strom Thurmond has captured the interest of the news media. Below is the press release regarding the revelations and you can find links to more press coverage on The Generations Network website.

New York Daily News and Trace Reverend Al Sharpton’s Roots to Ancestors of the Late Senator Strom Thurmond

Rev. Sharpton’s Family Tree Reveals Legacy of Strength, Survival and Triumph Over Slavery

NEW YORK, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire/ — Today the Reverend Al Sharpton joined New York Daily News reporter Austin Fenner and Mike Ward of to announce the first of a series of unique, collaborative stories detailing how Rev. Sharpton’s family history intersects with another family line — that of the late segregationist Senator, Strom Thurmond.

Genealogical detectives from were able to trace the lineage of the Reverend Sharpton to his great-grandfather, Coleman Sharpton, a slave in 1835 Edgefield County, South Carolina. Coleman Sharpton was sent to South Carolina and hired out to work off the “debts of the estate” of Julia Thurmond Sharpton.

“When the Daily News first reached out to me for this story, I was very excited at the prospect of discovering my family roots — but I never expected this,” said the Rev. Sharpton, one of America’s foremost and outspoken leaders for civil rights. “When walked me through my family history, it was chilling to see proof that I am only three generations from slavery — it’s no longer speculation.”

Rev. Sharpton added, “Who would have imagined that I would have anything in common with Strom Thurmond, let alone share roots?” Continue reading

Stop, Look, and Listen, by Maureen Taylor

If you’ve ever wished for an easier way to record family memories without using a tape recorder or video camera, your wish just came true. is a new offering from The Generations Network that will change the way family history is collected. It’s free, fun, and fabulous.

It’s very easy to use. Within just a few minutes I was able to upload several pictures, dial a toll-free number, record recollections for those images, and e-mail that album to a family member. I’m not kidding. Like the product name says it was a snap and like a genie in a bottle–magical! My relative couldn’t believe it. All he had to do was click on the link in the e-mail to listen to my message and look at the pictures.

Snapgenie definitely has that “wow” factor. Here’s what you can do with it.

  • Upload approximately 100 pictures per “album.” This can be done in two ways. Either select the Power Upload button to upload all the pictures at once or select and upload images individually using the “Browse” feature. There are no editing tools in the program (yet) so use your photo-editing software first before adding pictures to your album.
  • Record up to an hour’s worth of memories per album using the toll-free number and access code that you’re given. All you do to move through the images is click on the forward arrows under the pictures. Click and record. You decide how long you want the message to be for each picture. Tip: I planned out what I wanted to say before I dialed the phone.
  • Share with as many family and friends as you like. Just type in their e-mail addresses to send them the album. They can even forward your e-mail on to someone else in the family.
  • There is no limit to the number of albums you can create.
  • Replay your album as often as you like.
  • Use the “Studio” feature to make changes. Delete or add pictures as well as re-record your voice track for the whole album or single images.
  • Add pictures, but don’t forget that you can also include digital files of documents to your album.
  • Here’s a cool tool. If you have a blog, you can use the cut and paste feature to obtain code to add your album to your blog. Family can then use your blog features like Comments to write additional information on the pictures.

Here’s an album of my family photo mystery. Click on the play button in the screen below to take a look and listen.

Snapgenie has taken family history sharing to a new level in this beta version of their product. According to Hoyt Priscock, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development for, there’s a lot more to come.
You can create your own Snapgenie show at ( and soon Snapgenie will be part of your family websites. It’ll turn them into what they ought to be–collaborative endeavors for sharing pictures, data, and oral history. Family members will be able to add their voice to your albums sharing what they know about the items on your site.

Watch for the following future developments:

  • Use the three-way calling feature on your phone to interview more than one person at a time.
  • Record the oral history of the family then illustrate the story later on by adding photos.
  • Family members will eventually be able to leave audio remarks, or voice comments, for each image–not just written comments.
  • Save your album. You’ll be able to buy DVDs of your creation to play on your computer or television.

As Priscock said, “Snapgenie’s a collaborative story-telling tool for the whole family.” I’m completely smitten. There are endless possibilities on ways to use it for genealogical purposes. Try it and see why it’s going to make a difference to your family history.

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Maureen Taylor, is The Photo Detective. She writes about family history and photography on her blog at

Weekly Planner: Start a Photo Swap

scrapbookDo you have unique family photographs that other family members don’t have? Perhaps they have some photographs that you might like as well. Pull out some of your favorite old photographs and make copies to share with family. Send them along with a request that they look through their photo collection with images to reciprocate. Not only will you be sharing your family history and helping to build your own collection, but by disseminating copies of the photographs, you are helping to ensure their preservation.

Stumped? Have You Checked for These Records? Part 4: Old Settlers Organizations

Postcard from Ancestry Historical Postcard Collection: Old Home Week, Medina N.Y., ca. 1893-1907 by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG

Might a story about a relative’s journey across the U.S. or a listing of family birth dates and places be helpful? Such details are often found in the records of pioneer settler organizations. The social aspect of these organizations was a prime factor in their development; many early settlers had survived tough situations, felt a special kinship, and a need to maintain contact. Pioneer Associations, Old Settlers Clubs, and similar groups filled these needs.

Some were begun by the pioneers to commemorate their own pioneer status in the community. Others were formed by descendants of the pioneers. As new settlers arrived in an area, earlier residents felt encroached upon. They may have formed a group with guidelines that made it impossible for these “new kids” to join. Other localities had very loose rules for membership and old settler gatherings became a community-wide event.

Some groups had officers, application forms, and dues. Other were spur of the moment–“let’s have a picnic” and possibly attendees were asked to sign their names, ages, names of family members, when arrived, and where they came from or where they were born. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Read Historical Newspapers for Social History

Lou Szucs, age 2from Jana Sloan Broglin, CG 
Newspapers are the most time-consuming, yet the most rewarding of all research. What a great way to add social history to a genealogy. When using the newspaper, there is more to use than just the marriages, birth announcements, and obituaries. The newspaper gives insight into the day-to-day life of an ancestor. When researching my father’s family, I was able to find information regarding his political affiliation as he had been elected to a county “central committee.” Mention in this small town newspaper’s gossip column let me know my grandma had the measles. A gossip column from the mid-1920s mentioned my grandparents going to Houghton Lake, Michigan, with their friends. Quite a find as I had found a photo from that trip.

Even looking at the ads in the local grocery store let me know how much was paid for items that were used in the home, from meat and potatoes, to balls of crochet yarn.

These newspapers also contain ads for cars and trucks. Did your grandfather drive a specific brand of automobile? Maybe there is an ad for the local Chevrolet or Ford dealer in the town where he purchased that favorite car.

Did your family live on a farm? It is a good idea to check the issues of the newspaper near the county fair. See if great-grandpa had the winning steer or corn, or great-grandma had a prize-winning quilt or pie.

For the youth in the area, check for notes about school plays and the playbill listing the actors as well as a published school “honor rolls” and music competitions. Commencement announcements may list the school faculty and members of the graduating class.

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