Thursday, May 31, 2007

Civil War Documents at

Search Military Records - Fold3

Today, (formerly a press release about its Civil War records.

Original Documents Found on Provide Unique Perspective on the Civil War

Lindon, UT – May 31, 2007 – Throughout history, people have a tendency to remember the major events and famous people that shaped our country. However, our nation’s heritage is rich with stories of the common man. It is within these stories that we find valuable and unique insights into the history of the United States.

Now available on Fold3 (formerly are details about the brave men and women involved in the Civil War. Fold3 brings to life these stories within millions of original Civil War Records most of which have never been available before on the internet.

Through its partnership with the National Archives has been able to digitize and index records including Confederate Soldiers Service Records, the Southern Claims Commission Records, and the Lincoln Assassination Trial Papers.

Each of these titles features information and details that few have had the opportunity to view.

However, finding these valuable records is only the first step to discovering new insights. “We are providing the tools and content that will eventually create the largest Civil War community on the web.” says Russell Wilding, CEO of Fold3 (formerly are encouraged to highlight and discuss what they’ve found. Members are also able to upload their own photos and documents and create their own “footnotes” by annotating and commenting on the records.

Fold3 brings to life these stories within millions of original Civil War Records to access free samples of these original documents as well as see what Footnote members have contributed.

Fold3 (formerly does indeed have unique Civil War items especially from the Southern states. It also has the Civil War pension index which covers the Union states.

But what is the most unique at is the story pages, user-contributed "footnotes" to the records. These story pages contain photos, explanations, further history, photos, biographies, record annotations and family research.

I think that as more people contribute to the story pages, they are going to make Fold3 (formerly a very unique and genuinely useful resource for family research. See the free story pages at Story Pages

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Searching the Library with Google

Randy Seaver, in his excellent GeneaMusings blog, wrote about the difficulty of searching the Library Archive in Using Ancestry's "Learning Center" is Frustrating .

The FREE Library has thousands of articles written by genealogy experts such as Richard Eastman, Juliana Smith, Michael John Neill, and Kip Sperry but because of the poor search engine many of the articles are virtually inaccessable. Randy asks:

This library archive is a marvelous resource. But the Search capability is badly broken. How can we get it fixed?

I don't know how to get to improve their Library Archive search but I do know a work-around for better searching.

The Ancestry Library can be searched using the Google site search. There are two ways to use Google's site search.

  1. You can use the site search on the free Google Toolbar.

  2. You can use this command in the Google Search Box followed by the search term; i.e. 20th century Note the space after the site URL and the search term.
So, using Randy's example of searching the Ancestry Library for the term "20th century", we can compare results.

Search term : 20th

  1. Ancestry Library Search Engine - 158 hits
  2. Google Site Search - 87 hits 20th

Search term: 20th century

  1. Ancestry Library Search Engine -1,511 hits
  2. Google Site Search - 33 hits 20th century

Search term: "20th century"

  1. Ancestry Library Search Engine - 1,511 hits
  2. Google Site Search - 23 hits "20th century"

The Google Site Search does a much better job of narrowing results than the Ancestry Library 's own Search Engine. Plus when using the Google site search, you can use all of Google's operators such as the +, the -, the tilde , quotes, and the year range. So it would be possible to construct queries such as:

  • "20th century" 1941..1945
  • "20th century" -war
  • "20th century" ~military

See Google Operators for more about Google Operators and their uses.

I personally use the Google Toolbar to do Google site searches. There is less typing involved plus I don't have to remember the command syntax, but both give identical results. Using the Google Toolbar to Search Genealogy Sites

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Google Universal Search

Last week, Google introduced a radical change to its search results with "Universal Search" which will blend listings from its news, video, images, local and book search engines among its web page searches.

Many people don't realize that Google has multiple search engines - a separate search engine for web results, for images, for videos, for news, for blogs, for books, etc. These different search engines are available by clicking on the links about the Google search box.

Google has decided to break down the walls that separate their different search engines and integrate the vast amounts of information available into one set of search results.

Google will roll those changes out gradually and they are constantly tweaking to give the best user experience.

To follow some of the integration and tweaking, you can see a search for I performed last week. The arrow shows where a a link from the Google Video Search Engine has been added to the normal web page results.

Here is the very same search for I did today. The video link has been taken out of the normal web page results and instead a video link has been added to the top blue bar. (See arrow).

Of the two universal search results for, I prefer the second. It doesn't clutter webpage results with video clips, but does let me know that an important video is available.

Watch for constant changes as Google improves its new universal search.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Google Search, Translated

Yesterday, Google launched a new feature in Google Translate that adds machine translation capabilities to search results.

Since my grandparents were immigrants to the US from France and Germany, searching for their genealogy ultimately takes me to webpages which are not in English. Unfortunately, I never learned the languages my grandparents spoke, so my search method involved searching for their names in French-only or German-only webpages, then going to Google Translate to translate a part of the text or the whole web page from their language into English to see if the webpage was of any value to me. Doing genealogy research in a country where you don't speak the language is difficult and Google Translate has always allowed me to understand webpages I otherwise would not be able to read.

Now, Google announced that it has gone one step further with Google Translate. I can conduct, in English, full searches of French and German content and read the search results and webpages in English. This really simplifies the process of Google translation.

Check out Google Translate and then select the "Search Results" tab. There you can choose the language you speak and the language in which to find results. While this brand-new feature is currently available for a handful of major languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic), Google plans to expand this list in the future.

While machine translation is not perfect, it's usually good enough for you to obtain the gist of information in a language you might otherwise be unable to access.

For more Genealogy Google Search Tips, go to Google Genealogy Search Tips.

Monday, May 21, 2007 Always Free Databases

Search Military Records - Fold3

Fold3 (formerly, which has a partnership with the U.S. National Archives, has a number of always-free online databases.

What's Free on Fold3
  • Pennsylvania Archives
    The Pennsylvania Archives were originally published as a 10 series of historical records in 135 volumes, covering the initial colonial settlement through the Civil War. The series contains military, tax, marriage, and land records, as well as documents from American history covering the Revolutionary War and the Whiskey Rebellion. Pennsylvania researchers will be glad to have these archives online and searchable.
    • Early Pennsylvania settlements, from 1664 to 1780.
    • The Revolutionary War (1775–1789).
    • The Whiskey Rebellion (1794).
    • More Pennsylvania history through 1880.

  • US Milestone Documents
    These are the documents that have shaped American history from the 1776 Declaration of Independence to the 1964 Tonkin Gulf Resolution. You can view images of the originals and learn where each document is archived. This collection provides a first-hand look at some of the nation’s high and low points, including the purchase of Alaska, the 1945 surrenders of Germany and Japan, recognition of Israel, censure of Joseph McCarthy, the 19th amendment, and more. Some of the images would be a nice addition to flesh out timelines in your genealogy program or as backgrounds in a heritage scrapbook.

  • Project Blue Book
    Nearly 13,000 government UFO reports from within North America and even around the world are documented in these files. These are text descriptions of encounters or sightings during the years 1947 to 1969. Since the names of people involved in the sightings are excluded, there is little genealogical value. I did think it would be rather funny if a flying saucer has been spotted when I was born or another important day in my life, but I didn't find any. Perhaps you may. What is interesting to note is that most of the sightings that I read were spotted by the military, not civilians.

  • Story Pages
    These user-contributed story pages are completely searchable. Story pages This is such a wide range of articles that I can't really do justice to describing them. Some of the stories I browsed are biographies of Civil War soldiers complete with uploaded photos, Civil War hangings and executions, family research, how-to's, letters, complete yearbooks. You can use the story pages to share photos and

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Examining the full Revolutionary Pension Files at

Search Military Records - Fold3

Fold3 (formerly in partnership with with the U.S. National Archives, is digitizing the Revolutionary War Pension Files to post online. These are the complete pension files taken from the National Archives microfilm publication M804, which includes an estimated 80,000 pension and bounty-land warrant application files. These pension records give full details about each veteran's history and service, as well as information about his family, state of health, and life after the war. Many of these pension files can contain upwards to 80 pages.

To locate a Revolutionary War soldier, you can use the browse menu if you know the state where the soldier served,. You can also use the Footnote search engine but you have to be very aware that there were many surname spelling variations during the 18th century.

I used the browse menu to look for my Revolutionary War ancestor, but since the digitization of the pensions is about 10% complete, my ancestor's records are not yet online. However, I did find my 5th great grand uncle, Harmon Aughe of Chester County, Pennsylvania.

His pension file begins with his affidavit of his duties as a soldier. He says he was drafted while living in Pikeland township, Chester Co.. Pennsylvania and that he was involved in building breastworks. He describes his movements "thence to Chadd's Ford on the Brandywine where the battle was fought...thence to Chestnut Hill and Germantown, where the battle was fought, thence to winter quarters in Valley Forge, Chester Co. Pa.

In these few words, I realized how the history of my country and the history of my family were intertwined. He was present at two early battles we lost to the British, and also wintered at Valley Forge. Valley Forge is the story of suffering, sacrifice and ultimate survival against terrible odds, against hunger, disease, and the cold and became our symbol of the will to prevail.

Further down in his affidavit, Aughey states he knew General George Washington, General Lee and General Wayne.

His affidavit give a lot of genealogy information.. He tells that his date and place of birth is written in the family bible which is now owned by his sister's daughter who lives in another state. He tells of his migration from Pennsylvania to Virginia to Ohio to Indiana. He gives the names of his children and the states where they live.

Unfortunately for Harmon, he also states he lost his discharge papers as he pioneered to Indiana and no one in Indiana can substantiate his affidavit. Because of that and also because part of his war duties were wagon service to carry supplies, his pension claim was disallowed .

At the end of his file is a letter written to NARA during the 1930's inquiring about his war service. The letter doesn't say why the inquiry was made, but I assume it was either for genealogy reasons or to obtain documentation to join the DAR. If so, this letter give the names other descendants of the soldier, possible distant cousins, along his address.

All the names in his pension file are annotated and indexed for easy reference and searching.

I was glad to find the genealogy information, but learning that he survived the winter at Valley Forge and knew George Washington and Mad Anthony Wayne was the most exciting to learn.

If you want to view these fascinating Revolutionary War pensions to read about history as our ancestors lived it, Start Your Free Trial with

Saturday, May 19, 2007

New Always Free Databases has recently added several databases to its list of always-free records.

You can see these and other always-free databases at Ancestry Freebies

The new databases include:


  • Minnesota Divorce Index, 1970-1995
  • Minnesota Territorial and State Censuses, 1849-1905

  • Brandenburg, Prussia Emigration Records
  • German Leaders of Yesterday and Today
  • Wuerttemberg, Germany Emigration Index

    Tuesday, May 15, 2007 Teams with Family Search to Release Revolutionary War Pension Files

    Search Military Records - Fold3

    Yesterday FamilySearch announced that it will provide free services to archives and records custodians who wish to digitize, index, publish, and preserve their collections. This is in addition to the project already underway to digitize and make freely available the 2 million rolls of microfilm stored in the Granite Mountain Records Vault.

    Today we see the first announcement of this collaboration. I suspect there will be many more.

    May 15, 2007 06:15 AM Eastern Daylight Time Teams with Family Search to Release Revolutionary War Pension Files

    Revolutionary War Pension Files Will Be Available for Free at All Family History Centers Worldwide

    LINDON, Utah--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, announced an agreement with FamilySearch, historically known as the Genealogical Society of Utah, a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of
    Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch is the world’s largest repository of genealogical information.

    This new partnership brings together two organizations that will utilize their combined resources to digitize and make available many large historical collections. The first project will be the three million U.S. Revolutionary War Pension files which will be published for the first time online in their entirety.

    “The Revolutionary War Pensions will provide an intimate look into the historical events and individuals that shaped our country’s history,” said Russell Wilding, CEO of “We are excited about this relationship which enables us to put many more historical collections online.”

    The Revolutionary War Pension Files feature original records that include muster rolls, payrolls, strength returns and other miscellaneous personnel pay and supply records of American Army Units from 1775-1783. They provide a wealth of new information for historians and genealogists which they can share with other colleagues and family members.

    “We are excited to partner with to provide historians and genealogists alike a tremendous source of data that will assist greatly in putting puzzle pieces together to create a rich family history,” said Paul Nauta, manager of Public Affairs for FamilySearch. “This affiliation allows us to better meet one of our goals to provide as much data online as fast as possible for those working on their genealogy.”

    Also, as a part of this agreement, will be accessible for free in all FamilySearch operated centers worldwide. FamilySearch has more than 4,500 Family History Centers in 70 countries.

    Since partnering with the National Archives in January 2007, has digitized over eight million historical records. Each month an additional two million documents are digitized and added to the site. estimates that by the end of 2007 it will have made over 25 million digitized documents available on its web site.

    To see free examples of the Revolutionary War Pension Files, go to Revolutionary War Pension Files

    Fold3 (formerly has now begun offering free three-day trial memberships. Start Your Free Trial with

    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Using the Google Toolbar to Search Genealogy Sites

    If you have wanted to search a genealogy site that doesn't have its own search engine, it is possible to search that site using a site search on the Google Toolbar.

    Actually, you can the Google Toolbar site search even if the site has it own search engine to make use of the google operators such as quotes, the + or the -, all of which may not available on a site search engine provided by the site.

    Download the free Google Toolbar, you will notice the Google Search box that is always visible on the Toolbar. In order to use this search box to do site searches, go to the Toolbar Settings, then choose Toolbar Options,, then click on the Buttons tab. Make sure there is a check mark next to Search Site.

    Now look for that same Search Site icon on your toolbar. To search a site, go to the site, enter a keyword into your Google toolbar and click on the Search Site icon on the toolbar.

    It is not necessary, but you can use the Google operators for site searches:
    • Use a plus sign [ + ] before words that you want to appear in your search results exactly.
    • Use a minus sign [ - ] before words that you do NOT want to appear in your search results.
    • Put a name or location in quotes so that Google will search for that exact phrase.

    The Google Toolbar site search is something I use everyday. For more about Google operators and how to use them, go to Google Genealogy Tips.

    You can also use the Google Toolbar to search a page.

    Note: The Google Site Search will work on sites that Google can spider or index. For database sites such as, you will have to use the database search engine.

    Friday, May 11, 2007

    Search Military Records - Fold3

    Fold3 (formerly launched a new website in January 2007 in partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Footnote has already posted close to 9 million NARA documents and is adding 2 million documents per month! And these original documents are found no where else on the web. is the only Web site wholly devoted to making digital images of American historical documents, said Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the U.S. National Archives.

    The National Archives holds 9 billion pages of documents and it has no money to turn them into digital images, so it readily agreed to a partnership with, she said.

    Footnote has a very cool interface with an easy-to-follow browse page. It is quite an impressive site to see.

    The name Footnote is very descriptive as this site encourages users to add "footnotes" or annotations to documents or pictures on the site.

    Footnote also encourages members to add stories, the footnotes to history. You do not need to be a paid member to add or search the stories. Some of the stories I was saw yesterday were high school yearbooks complete with photos and student names, Surname Research Groups, Native American Heroes, & Black Spies of the Civil War. It is quite a diverse group of stories and growing every day. All free and searchable.

    Some of the Footnote NARA Record Collections so far are:
    • Naturalization Records 1792-1966 - Petitions and Declarations for NY, PA, MA
    • Pennsylvania Archives 1625-1880 (a FREE database)
    • Civil War Pensions Index 1865-1899
    • Mathew B. Brady Collection of Civil War Photographs
    • Confederate Soldiers AL, TX, VA
    • Southern Claims Commission
    • Revolutionary War Rolls
    • Papers of the Continental Congress 1774-1789
    • Papers of the Constitutional Convention 1787
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation 1908-1922
    • City Directories for New England States
    You can search and find a thumbnail of the original document and a snippet of what it contains. And if you are interested to see the complete record, Start Your Free Trial with

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    Genealogy Searching with the Google Toolbar

    Google Makes Genealogy Searching Even Easier with its Toolbar.

    One of my favorite uses of the Google Toolbar is to highlight all occurrences of a word on a web page. If you have ever hunted for a name or a word on a very long genealogy web page, you can appreciate what a time saver this could be.

    The Google Toolbar is part of the FREE Google Pack. You can download the free Google Toolbar along with other free and useful software offered by Google. You can choose to download as much or as little of the free software as you choose. When the Google Toolbar is installed on your computer, it automatically appears along with the Internet Explorer toolbar.

    To use the highlight feature, make sure the word you want highlighted is in the Google Search box in the toolbar, then click on the highlight icon. All occurrences of the word are now highlighted in bright yellow on the page. No more wasting time hunting to see if a word on the page. Or even worse, no more leaving a web page thinking a word isn't on a web page because it was overlooked.

    For example, let's say I want to find all occurrences of the surname Schneider on a web page. On web page I want to search, the names are not in alphabetical order making it hard to find each occurrence. When Schneider is typed in the Search box on the toolbar, the name appears beside the highlighter pen on the toolbar. Now I just click on the highlighter pen icon. When it is turned on , the pen turns yellow and the the background of the pen becomes white.

    With the highlighter pen turned on, here is the column of unalphabetized names from the web page. Look at how easy it is to spot each occurrence of the name Schneider with the yellow highlight. And now none of the names will be overlooked. Simple, quick, and a real time saver.

    While I choose to highlight only one word in this example, you can use the highlight feature to highlight multiple words. Each word will have its own color.

    Word Find is another way to find all occurrences of a word on a web page using the Google Toolbar. Click on the search term next to the highlighter pen on the toolbar. Again, the word has to be in the search box of the Google toolbar. Each time you click on the word in the toolbar, you will be taken to the next occurrence of the word on the page. Another great time saver while genealogy searching.

    Hint: If you download the toolbar, and the highlighter pen icon is not visible on your toolbar, go to the toolbar settings, select options, select the more tab, go down to Find on Page, and select Highlight and Word Find.

    For more on genealogy uses for GooglePack software, go to Genealogy Uses for Google Pack software.