Weekly Planner: Catch “Back-to-School Fever”

I love to watch my daughter at this time of year. It’s the start of a new school year and she’s excited about returning to new classes and challenges, planning what extracurricular activities she wants to take part in, and selecting books to read during the silent reading period. Just because we’re out of school doesn’t mean we can’t catch that “back-to-school fever” too! Plan to master a new skill–whether it is a new technology or utilizing a new record group or tool. Help files, reference guides, books, and even online tutorials can be your guides to new skills that will help you locate even the most elusive ancestor.

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Using Ancestry: Ancestry Search Review, by Juliana Smith

This past week it was my pleasure to be the instructor for six classes on Effective Search Strategies on Ancestry.com at the FGS Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I want to thank everyone who was in those classes for their kindness with this rookie speaker and for the enthusiasm they brought to the classes. We had several breakthroughs in the sessions and I was happy to see that many of the attendees left fired up and anxious to try out some new tricks.

As I put together the class the previous week, my biggest problem was how to cram all the information in and keep the session under an hour, and in fact, I was still struggling with that issue up to the night before the first class.

Ancestry currently has more than 6 billion names in 2.5 billion records, and these are grouped in nearly 25,000 databases. It can be challenging to find ancestors in a collection of records this large, but fortunately Ancestry gives us a wide variety of tools to search for the information we need. But some of these tools are very different from each other and recognizing these differences is critical. Used properly the various options available give us a powerful arsenal, but without understanding them fully, we find frustration instead of results.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on creating search engines, algorithms, and all the technical aspects, and you don’t have to be either. But there are some fundamentals that we all should be aware of and understanding these will greatly increase your chances for success.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be running a series of articles on searching Ancestry. Some may be review for many of you who have been reading this newsletter for a while, but even though I use the site very regularly for work, as I prepared for the classes, I was reminded of some details I tend to forget. Continue reading

Why Can’t I Find or Recognize My Ancestral Homes? by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG

Home Sweet Home, by G.F. Gilman, 1877My oldest granddaughter and I recently drove past the house I moved out of three years ago. She said it didn’t look right with a different paint color, missing trees, missing lilac bushes, the enclosed porch now open, and no deck in back. She visited that house often during a period of ten years and remembers it well.

A few weeks ago I was invited to tour the remodeled house. They wanted to know about the house’s history, the past residents, and about what changes had been made. It was a nice tour. Some aspects were quite different, while some have stayed the same.

The new owner wants to compile a history of the house. I knew about a few of the families that have lived there since it was built in 1907. I am surprising him with the 1910, 1920, and 1930 census printouts from Ancestry for this address. I told him that his wife might request something the house had in 1910–a maid!

1234 Elm Street
In your own research on past family homes you may have encountered some roadblocks. Let’s pretend that last year Aunt Susie sent you some older pictures of the family home back in the town where she once lived. This summer you visited the town in the pictures. The reverse side of two of the pictures said “1234 Elm Street.” Once there you cannot find Elm Street. One of the local residents shares the news that in the early 1940s the street names in part of town were changed. Elm Street is now 7th Avenue. Perhaps there is still a 1234 Elm Street but the house doesn’t resemble what you see in the picture that was taken about 1921. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: ChicagoAncestors.org, from Michael John Neill

Those with ancestors in the Windy City may wish to take a look at ChicagoAncestors.org, a website recently put online by the Chicago’s Newberry Library. The site (still in development) allows users to enter in a street address in order to generate a list of resources near that location. Currently the site pulls up Catholic and Lutheran churches, yearbooks (in the library’s collection) and nearby homicides. For churches that are located, links to websites and Family History Library microfilm numbers are also provided.

For those needing assistance with the early 1900s street re-numbering and renaming, a guide to those conversions is on the site as well. Researchers with pre-fire ancestors also have access to a guide for working in that time period. Additional features to the site (such as the ability to add user comments) and churches from additional denominations are in the works.

This is a great resource for those with ancestors in the Chicagoland area. 

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Your Quick Tips, 27 August 2007

Search With and Without the Space
I had been looking for a McKee in the census and I found him when I entered Mc Kee (as in Mc[SPACE]Kee). I had tried many variations of the name, McGee, McKay, but it wasn’t until I added the space that I found them.
Patricia Boen

WorldCat Helps with Missing Source Information…
In addition to Irma Holtkamp’s good suggestions for using WorldCat, I have used it to get the publication information that I failed to write down when I was researching.
Cherie Brumfield

…And Interlibrary Loan
That was a nice article about this wonderful library look-up option. However, no mention was made of the possibility of interlibrary loan within and among various states. This will have the needed book sent to your close library. It is much cheaper than driving to the library that has the book you want. Some books have more than one owner so most likely the closest library may be the cheapest. Your individual local library can give you the specific details you need.
Jane Vaughan
Tampa, Florida

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If you have a suggestion you would like to share with other researchers, send it to: [email protected]. Thanks to all of this week’s contributors!

Quick Tips may be reprinted, with credit to the submitter, in other Ancestry publications, so if you do not want your tip included in a publication other than the “Ancestry Weekly Journal,” please state so clearly in your message.

The Year Was 1823

Champlain Canal, Mechanicville, N.Y.The year was 1823 and following the recent recognition of the independent republics of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico, United States President James Monroe, under the advisement of Secretary John Quincy Adams, went a step further with a policy that we now know as the Monroe Doctrine. This policy asserted that the Western Hemisphere was no longer open to colonization and interference by European nations. The U.S. would now “consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.” Nor would the U.S. interfere in European affairs. The legacy of the Monroe Doctrine can be seen in a number of events throughout U.S. history. 

The world was still searching for a northwest passage to the East and in 1823, an expedition by Sir John Franklin, an experienced explorer who had begun mapping the North American Polar regions in 1818, ran into trouble on a return overland trip. Out of food, ten men succumbed to starvation and cold temperatures, and Sir Franklin narrowly escaped death himself on that trip. He would not be so lucky on a future expedition—his ship set out in 1845 and was never seen again. It is thought that poor food planning and canned meats contaminated with lead contributed to the demise of the crews on that expedition. 

Hunger was an ongoing problem in Ireland in 1823 as it suffered through several years of food shortages.

The completion of the Champlain Canal in 1823 ultimately joined the Hudson River with Lake Champlain, opening the region to development and commerce. Agricultural surpluses could now easily be sent to market from the Champlain Valley and timber and mining industries took advantage of the new route as well.

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Photo Corner

Daniel Fischer, Jr.Contributed by Carmen Major, Sioux City, Iowa
This is a photograph of my grandfather, Daniel Fischer, Jr. I never knew him, but I wish I had. I was told he had a great sense of humor and this picture shows that.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Andrew Jackson Ruddell, Emily M. Bloyd, 1885-90, McDonough County, Illinois

Contributed by J. Alan Woods
Here is a wedding photo of my great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Ruddell, and great-grandmother, Emily M. Bloyd, taken in 1885-90. The couple was married in McDonough County, Illinois.


Who Am I? Ohio Mystery Photo

20070824 OhioGroupPicture.bmpHere’s another mystery photo I received this week. Hopefully since may of the individuals are identified, we’ll find some connections out there! 

This picture was in the possession of my husband’s mother Alice Codding Jensen She was born in LaRue, Ohio and also lived in Prospect, Ohio. Her father went to Iberia College in Morrow County and also lived in Wyandot County before coming to Marion County, so this picture could be from any of those places.

I thought there might be others who would identify family members in this picture and maybe someone else will know the reason for the picture. I believe the man seated in the chair in the center is my husband’s grandfather, George Pitt Codding. A note underneath says, “My father also taught at this same school,” but I don’t know who wrote that. A number of the women have married names, so it doesn’t seem like it would be a school picture, so that statement is a mystery to me.

The persons in the picture are identified as follows:

  • Back row: John Nickelson, Martha Nichelson Van Houten, Oliver Barnhart, Lizzie Boyd Harkins, Unknown, Hattie Boyd.
  • Middle row: Ira Nichelson, Florence Nichelson Biggerstaff, George Codding, Sara Nichelson Williams, Allie Van Houten.
  • Front row:  Unknown, Belle Boyd Otis, ? Williams, Clara Boyd Codding.

Another note says Hattie Boyd and Belle Boyd Otis are daughters of Robert Boyd.

Florence Jensen

National Archives Announces Changes in Copying Fees

August 23, 2007, Washington, DC. . . A final rule published in the Federal Register August 17, 2007, amends the fees for reproduction of archival materials in National Archives facilities nationwide.  In addition to Federal records, this includes donated historical materials, Presidential records, and records filed with the Office of the Federal Register.  This rule will become effective on Monday, October 1, 2007. 

The fees are being changed to reflect current costs of providing the reproductions.  The National Archives current fees were established in October 2000 based on a 1999 cost study.  As a result of a cost study conducted in 2006, fees for copying records must increase to recover costs. This is the first fee increase in seven years. Continue reading

Webinar to Teach Ancestry Search Techniques

Suzanne Adams, AGWatch a pro. Then search like one.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to better use Ancestry’s search technology to find your ancestors? Perhaps you’re totally new to the process. Now is your chance to learn from an Ancestry expert. You’ll learn valuable tips, tricks and techniques that will help you start getting the most out of Ancestry’s search capabilities. Take your genealogical skills to the next level and sign-up today.

This webinar will take place on August 29th at 6pm (MDT). Sign up now, space is limited. You will receive the information on how to take part in the Webinar when you register.

Register Now

Suzanne Adams — Accredited Genealogist
Suzanne Russo Adams, Accredited Genealogist specializes in Italian research. She is a Brigham Young University graduate with degrees in sociology and family history/genealogy. Suzanne currently works as the Professional Services Desk Manager for Ancestry.com, part of The Generations Network (formerly MyFamily.com, Inc.) and previously worked in both Electronic Production and Content Acquisition for more than eight years at Ancestry.com. She currently serves on the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and Utah Genealogical Association (UGA) Boards. Suzanne is also currently pursuing a Master’s degree in European History from BYU.