Saturday, March 31, 2007 and the DNA test Survey

This morning I took the survey at DNA Survey

The company wants to

"to gauge your interest in a DNA testing service. This service could help you find and identify distant relatives, learn about your ancient ancestry or find common ancestors"

I've always been intrigued by the idea of DNA testing but didn't know exactly how it would help further my genealogy. I already know the towns in Europe where my grandparents were born. Interesting to me, among the normal survey questions for assessing interest, I found this as one of the multiple choice answers:

"If a DNA test can break through a dead end in my family tree research, I can't wait to take a test. "

I wonder if this is just marketing hype? Or can a DNA test really break through a family tree dead-end? I remember the famous Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemming DNA test. Although the descendants of Sally Hemming could prove that a "male" Jefferson fathered the clan, they could never say for sure whether it was Thomas Jefferson or his brother. Still, they proved they were part of the Jefferson clan.

I assume that the more people who participated, the better the results of the DNA testing. So having it as part of an subscription would be a great thing as it would attract a large audience.

I might know where my grandparents were born in Europe, but I have a lot of other dead ends in my family research. Wouldn't it be great if a DNA test helped knock down some brick walls?

Friday, March 30, 2007 Canadian Border Crossings has added the Canadian Border Crossing (1895 to 1956) to its already huge immigration collection at Canadian Border Crossings, 1895-1956

PROVO, Utah, March 28 /PRNewswire/ --, the world's largest online resource for family history, today announced the addition of the first and only online collection of more than 4 million names of individuals who crossed the U.S.-Canadian border between 1895 and 1956.

This is an important but often overlooked immigration route since passage was generally cheaper to travel to the U. S. via Canada. It was also an easier way to gain access to the U.S. so some passengers arrived in Canada with the intention of heading straight to the United States.

These new records at include both immigrants who first sailed to or settled in Canada before continuing to the U.S. as well as U.S. and Canadian citizens (after 1906 only) crossing the border.

The records include more than 100 ports of entry including Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Detroit, Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto.

Some of my Irish ancestors immigrated to the United States via Canada. They lived in Canada for 10 years before entering the U.S. in 1840, well before records were kept for Canada/U.S crossings. But my ancestors chose Canada for the same two reasons people did much later. First, the fare was cheaper and second, as Irish citizens traveling to Canada in the 1830s, they would still be under the UK.

More passenger lists can be found at Passenger Lists to USA including the Great Lakes Crossings from Canada to the US.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Should Unsourced Data be Put Online?

My friend, Lorine, asks on her blog Should Unsourced Data be Put Online?.

Although the purist in me wants every bit of information in my family tree to have impeccable primary sources, I know in the real world of genealogy it doesn't always work like that.

Lorine uses the example of a "a page ripped from an old bible (unsourced, origin unknown)" as an unsourced document that might be the "clue that leads us to facts, to sources that will either verify or disprove the original clue".

I think that every document has a source, even a page ripped from an old bible of unknown origin. As long as the web page clearly states: "Source: page torn from an old Bible, author unknown, found in an antique shop in New Jersey", I believe the document deserves a place online.

It is up to the person using the information to evaluate and assign a surety level to the source - a surety level means how sure you are about the information. Some genealogy programs even have an entry for surety level, but even if yours doesn't, you can always add a note to the source. I like to use a number system for a surety level. I use a high number for information that comes from a primary source, a medium number for information from a secondary source, and a zero to indicate that I am not sure how convincing this source of information is.

But even with a low surety number, that scrap of paper torn from the Bible may hold the key - a previously unknown name or location - to finding those records with primary sources.

And most important, by being listed on the Internet, that page torn from the bible might find its home and provenance. Perhaps somebody owns the original Bible from which that page was torn and knows that when Great Great Grandpa disowned that branch of the family, he tore the page with those names from the family Bible.

So that torn Bible page, author unknown, could not only lead to finding primary sources to support the data, but could also help reunite the missing page with the original Bible in addition to a family reunion of two branches of the family tree that had been lost to each other for over 100 years because of the disowning.

OK, I'm dreaming, but the genealogy world is full of serendipity such as this.

So, is unsourced data found on the Internet reliable? Maybe yes, maybe no. The key is to verify it to find out if it is. But without information like the torn Bible page ever being posted on a web page, you'd never even know this info even existed to be verified.

This type of data may lead to some wild goose chases, but I'd like to be the one to decide if it is worth the chase or not.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Family Roots Radio

Want to learn about genealogy as you work on your computer or go for your morning walk?

Tune into

Every Thursday at Thursday at 1pm Pacific (4pm Eastern), you can tune in to listen to the show.

If you can't listen to the show live, you can download it to your computer and listen to the show via your computer or MP3 player. Or subscribe to the show via iTunes.

Each show is an hour long, and hosted by the well-known genealogical author, speaker and researcher, Kory L. Meyerink. The show features how-to research tips designed to assist all levels of genealogists.

In addition to answering general questions from listeners, the show includes prominent genealogist guests, such as Matt Helm, Myra Gormley, and Leland Meitzler.

The show explores effective ways to use software and the Internet in the pursuit of family history. It also spotlights data-rich websites so you can look at the website and learn as you listen to the broadcast.

Archives are available for all the shows.

Alachua County Florida Clerk of Court Website

If you are reasearching Florida ancestors from Baker, Bradford, Charlotte, Clay, Citrus, Columbia, Desota, Duval, Gilchrist, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Suwannee, or Union counties, you may want to check out the wonderful Alachua County Clerk of Court website at

Since the above counties were all once part of Alachua county in 1830, the "ancient" records on the Alachua County Clerk of Court website may cover these present-day counties. You can check out the census map on the site to see when the above counties were part of Alachua County. It wasn't until 1925 that Alachua County took on its present shape.

Some of the records found at this Alachua County Clerk of Court website are:
  • Marriage Records from 1837 through May 1973;
  • Partial Deed Index;
  • Partial Mortgage Index;
  • Virtual Museum;
  • Books with Online Images;
  • Record of Physicians Certificates;
  • Marriage License Records;
  • Will books;
  • Plats Recorded before 1940;
  • 1850 Census;
  • 1860 Census
  • Partial 1870 Census.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Using Google's Dictionary in Genealogy

Did you know you can find definitions of words and phrases using Google? Google has always had a dictionary, but it has never been well publicized. There are 3 different ways to access the Google dictionary:

Method 1
Type a word such as apoplexy into the Google search box and on the Google results page on the right hand side of the blue bar you will see:
Personalized Results 1 - 100 of about 1,320,000 for apoplexy [definition] (0.29 seconds)

Click on the word definition to receive the word meaning. This generally only works for definitions of single words.

Method 2
Into the Google search box, type in the word define followed by a colon, then the word or phrase you want defined. There is NO space after the define:

This method will work definitions of one word:

For Latin terms found in wills:
define:ab nepos

For words with hyphens:

For multiple words:
define:relationship chart

For acronyms:

For words no longer in common use:

For words found in old documents that have multiple meanings:

Method 3
Google now allows asking a question in the search box to access the Google Dictionary. Type this into the Google search box:

What is apoplexy?

What is a perpetual calendar?

Google will give web definitions at the top of the search results. You can also click on "More definitions" for further variations, and the websites where the definitions are found.

I find it easier to use Google's dictionary than to pull a dictionary book off the shelf to look up a word. And since Google has terms in its dictionary that are no longer in common usage, it is actually better than some dictionaries for genealogy use.

Give it a try, and I think you'll be hooked.

Easy Google Genealogy Searcher
Use the Easy Google Genealogy Searcher for effective genealogy internet searches.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

If Only These Walls Could Talk,,,,
Historic Haile Homestead at Kanapaha Plantation, Gainesville, Florida

You may have heard people say "If only these walls could talk..." Well, at the Haile Homestead the walls actually do talk, but perhaps not in the way you think.

Probably one of the most unique records of family history in the United States are the "talking walls" at the Historic Haile Homestead in Alachua County, Florida. Every room and closet in the 6,200 square foot house has writing on the walls done by the Haile family who resided there. The family started writing on the walls when they first moved into the house in 1856 and continued to write for over 50 years. The writing includes recipes, names of visitors, heights of their children, business records, and personal thoughts - all together over 12,500 words - a written testimony to the Haile family life in an earlier century.

Today the Haile Homestead is one of the oldest surviving houses in Alachua County and is listed on the National Register. The 10 room house was home to Thomas Evans Haile, his wife, Serena Chestnut Haile, and their 15 children. The Hailes came to Alachua county from Camden, South Carolina in 1854 to establish a 1,500 acre Sea Island Cotton plantation which they named Kanapaha - a Timucua Indian word for palmetto leaf. The home is a typical South Carolina style Classic Revival plantation home. The Homestead later became the site of house parties attended by some of Gainesville’s most distinguished citizens who also contributed to the "talking walls".

Rumor is that one of the Haile children started the tradition by writing his name on the wall. Maybe we shouldn't be as quick to scrub our own walls when our children do the same. It could be the beginning of a unique family history to be enjoyed by future generations.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Oldest Written Records of American Origin In U.S.

From the March, 2007 issue of St. Augustine (Florida) Catholic Online issue

The diocese of St. Augustine preserves in its archives the oldest written records of American origin in the United States. These are the Spanish parish records of St. Augustine, dating from 1594 to 1763.

The first pages record baptisms, marriages, and burials (1594-1638). Subsequent Spanish registers carry the data forward to 1763 and from 1784 to 1821.

The Catholic Foundation will eventually make these archives accessible to qualified historians.

To read more about the St. Augustine, Florida records, go to
Preserving a Rich History (PDF file)

Florida Genealogy Database Searches

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Searching the 1925 Iowa State Census

Iowa State Census Collection, 1836-1925
Free access is available until the end of March, 2007

Check all Six Pages
Today I made a very interesting discovery about the 1925 Iowa state census. It includes the parents of all those enumerated including their age, place of birth, and the mother's maiden name. What a treasure if you don't know the parents name or the mother's maiden name. To find the parents names, click on the Next icon at the top of the page to turn the page.

Click on the Next icon once again to find military service (whether Civil War, Spanish American War, or World War I), occupation, and church affiliation.

The enumeration of each family is recorded on 6 pages so it would be easy to miss all the data if you don't click on the Next icon to see all the pages.

Using the Search Box
If you can't find someone when you search the census, you may have entered too much information.

  • You will find many of the first names are initials or abbreviations (such as Wm. for William) instead of the whole first name, so if you can't find someone using the first name, try an initial instead or leave it blank.

  • There are many places where the census taker has entered the county, but not the city. If you can't find someone at first, try entering county only without the city.

The Iowa state census has a lot of information not found in the federal census. If you have ancestors or relatives that have lived in Iowa, you will want to take advantage of this free access to the state census available until the end of March.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Atlantic County New Jersey Digitized Records

The Atlantic County Library of New Jersey has a Digitized Records Collection at (URL updated)

The Atlantic County library is home to thousands of historic documents which they are posting on-line as an ongoing project. This collection includes:

  • Newspaper
  • Immigration (1890-1930)
  • Civil War
  • Wills

Since my grandparents had lived in Atlantic City, NJ for about 15 years, I thought I would take a look.

Historic Newspapers
The site has about 10 different newspapers digitized. They look interesting, but they are large PDF files that are not searchable. These will take quite a bit of time to peruse but it appears to concentrate on Atlantic County happenings, so I think it will be worthwhile to take the time to do so.

Civil War Muster-Out Records
The Civil War section has the muster-out records of Atlantic County's US Civil War Veterans. This section also includes links to Civil War-era newspapers. While this is a great collection, it won't be of any value to me because my grandfather immigrated to the US after the Civil War.

Immigration Records
The immigration sections has thousands of immigration records (declarations and letters of intent) from 1890-1930 that they are indexing and posting to their website.

I've searched a long, long time for my grandfather's passenger list from Germany to the U.S. I knew he immigrated sometime between 1885 and 1889 based on information I found in the US census of 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930, but as it tends to do, the census gave me conflicting information from year to year. I have previously searched the passenger lists using every search trick I knew, but with no luck. I used to joke that he must have swum over, but I can't say that anymore, because here I found a digitized image of his declaration of intent!!!! The declaration says he was on the ship Hammonia which arrived in December of 1886, but when I checked Ancestry, it has no passenger list for the Hammonia in Dec, 1886. I'll have to send for his naturalization papers which should tell me the exact date of immigration. This is a great find for me. I had previously thought he was naturalized while he lived in Philadelphia. No wonder I had never found him.

This section has Wills, Letters of Administration and Guardianship, and Minutes of Orphans Court Records. I did a quick check and didn't find anything, but I'll have to come back later when I have more time to peruse.

If you have anyone who has ever lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey, this is a wonderful collection. Happy Searching.

Additional New Jersey Database Searches

Monday, March 19, 2007 Always-Free Databases

Although occasionally opens some of its paid databases to be free for a short time, one of Ancestry’s best kept secrets is that it also offers always-free databases.

Take a look at the wide variety databases you can explore for free with no strings attached at

Ancestry Free Databases

This portal page to the Ancestry free databases has been around a long time, but since these free databases are sometimes difficult to find on the Ancestry site, I thought I would mention it again. The pages shows the free general databases first, then the specific geographic databases.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Regal Blood Flows Through The Veins of Many Irishmen

If you are an O'Neill, O'Gallagher, O'Boyle, O'Doherty, O'Donnell, Connor, Cannon, Bradley, O'Reilly, Flynn, (Mc)Kee, Campbell, Devlin, Donnelly, Egan, Gormley, Hynes, McCaul, McGovern, McLoughlin, McManus, McMenamin, Molloy, O'Kane, O'Rourke or Quinn, you could be a descendant of the most powerful rulers of Ireland.

Trinity College's genetic lecturer Dr. Dan Bradley study found that three million men of Irish descent and one in fifty Americans can trace their ancestry to King Niall.

Regal Blood Flows Through The Veins of Many Irishmen

On St. Patrick's Day, everyone feels a little bit Irish. Officially, 34 million Americans can trace some of their ancestry to Ireland. But did you know how many can claim royal Irish blood? Well, using DNA tests, scientists at Trinity College in Dublin discovered some very regal results.

With its ancient castles and folklore, many in Ireland had long claimed royal descent. ... many traced their line back to a 5th-century Irish ruler named, dauntingly, Niall of the Nine Hostages. The common Irish surname 'O'Neil' means grandson of Niall, but some thought he was more legend than history. That is, until old King Niall met modern DNA testing.

Read the complete article
O'Neill DNA story & testing

Surname Origins.

Google Quotes & Dashes

Many people know to use quotes to find an exact phrase in Google. But did you also know that you can get exact phrase results using dashes in between words?

If you type John Paul Jones into Google without quotes or without dashes, you may receive search results with John and Paul and Jones on the same page not necessarily John Paul Jones together.

So, when searching for a web page that contains an exact name, an exact phrase, or an exact book title, use quotes or dashes to get a web page that has those exact words.


"John Paul Jones"


"to be or not to be"

Book Title:

"Biographical Annals of Franklin County Pennsylvania"

Whether using dashes or quotes, these queries are identical to Google and will give you the same Google results.

I find the dash method easier to type because I don't have to use the shift key, but try both to see which you feel more comfortable using.

Genealogy Google Search Ideas
Learn more Google tips and tricks for searching your ancestors.

Friday, March 16, 2007

NEHGS Free Irish Genealogy Databases

When I heard the New England Historic Genealogical Society was offering access to its Irish databases free (for a limited time) to the public, I went over to take a look.

The free databases include:

  • Atlases, Maps and Reference Materials - An Hibernian Atlas
  • Census, Tax and Voters Lists - Protestant Housekeepers in Counties Antrim, Derry, Donegal, and Londonderry, Ireland — 1740
  • Church Records - Index to the Marriage Licence Bonds Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland
  • Newspapers and Periodicals - The Search for Missing Friends in the Boston Pilot
  • Societies and Organizations - Charitable Irish Society of Boston
Unfortunately for me, the databases are for a few specific Irish counties, none of which are the counties of my ancestors. I didn't find any of my Irish ancestors in these databases, but these are robust databases, so perhaps you will. However, I did download a beautiful map of County Waterford dated 1798. The map actually shows tiny Portlaw where my Powers ancestors originated. The Hibernian Atlas contains all the Irish counties.

The website doesn't say how long the databases will remain free. It only says "for a limited time", so you might want to head on over soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2007 Digitizes Iowa State Census Records Digitizes All Readily Available Iowa State Census Records From 1836 to 1925 is giving free access to the Iowa State Census Collection, 1836-1925 until the end of March, 2007

More Than 14 Million Records Offer Insight Into State and Family Histories From Notable Natives, John Wayne and President Herbert Hoover, to the Settlers of the 1830s .

PROVO, Utah, March 15 /PRNewswire/ --, the world's largest online resource for family history, today announced that it has digitized and indexed all readily available Iowa State census records from 1836 to 1925. Researchers spent more than two years manually entering each name from actual early handwritten documents, bringing nearly a century of Iowa State history to life at the click of a mouse. In total, the collection features more than 14 million Iowa State census records and more than 3 million images, making the first and only online source to provide access to all publicly released Iowa State census records. "Census records are the backbone of family history.

They're more than just names and numbers. If you look closely, they tell stories," said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for "The Iowa state census records, in particular, provide a wide range of snapshots into the lives and lifestyles of Iowan ancestors. With these records now available online, Iowans can dig deeper into their state and family histories."

Apparently some famous folks hail from Iowa - Wyatt Earp and Buffalo Bill Cody, John Wayne, born Marion Morrison in May 26, 1907 in Winterset, Iowa, and Johnny Carson, former host of the Tonight Show. Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States, can be found in the 1885 state census. Free access to the Iowa State census records collection will be available on through the end of March.

State census usually are usually enumerated on different years than the federal census and so offer additional information to the genealogy researcher.

Iowa Database Searches

Genealogy is a Hot Topic according to Stephen Colbert

You know genealogy is a hot topic when the hottest US political satirist tells us that, well... "genealogy is a hot topic."

Stephen Colbert on his Colbert Report at the Comedy Channel did a satirical bit about When Ancestors Attack ... blinded by revelations when Ancestors come back to haunt descendants.

His progressive satire is US-centric, and sometimes is a bit silly, but if you want to hear political satire about

  • Barack Obama's white ancestors owned slaves
  • Al Sharpton's great-grandfather was owned by the Thurmond Family
  • Mitt Romney's Mormon ancestors were polygamists
go to
Caution: Video stream of satire from Comedy Central

Stephen Colbert mentioned these genealogical tidbits were discovered by, but unfortunately he called the site, unrelated to and a site that consists solely of sponsored links. But maybe his mention of genealogy will bring some additional people to our interesting hobby of genealogy.

And I guess the old adage is true - if you want to learn about your family tree, run for politcal office.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Centre County and Clinton County Pennsylvania Biographies

Centre County and Clinton County Pennsylvania Biographies

Biographical Sketches and Genealogies have been extracted from the book History of Centre & Clinton Counties, published by John Blair Linn, 1883

PA Biographical Sketches include:

Alexander, Elizabeth; Alexander, James; Alexander, James; Alexander, Josiah; Alexander, William; Alexander, William; Allison, Archibald; Allison, Matthew; Allison, William; Anspach, John; Antes, Philip; Austin, Jane; Bailey, Richard; Bailey, William; Baird, Jane; Baird, Nancy; Baker, Samuel; Barber, James; Barnhart, Henry; Barnhart, Jacob; Barnhart, Mary; Bathurst, Antes; Bathurst, James; Bayard, Dr. A. W.; Bear, George; Beaver, James Addams; Bechdol, David; Bell, John; Benner, John; Benner, John; Benner, Philip; Berry, Jacob; Bierly, Anthony; Bierly, Anthony Jr.; Bierly, John; Blair, David; Blair, Eleanor; Blakely, Elizabeth; Boal, David; Boal, Elizabeth; Boaz, John; Boggs, Andrew; Boggs, John; Boggs, Robert; Boggs, William; Bollander, Stephen; Botorf, Jacob; Brady, William Perry; Brew, Thaddeus; Brisben, William; Brisbin, John Jr.; Brisbin, John Sr.; Brungart, George; Brungart, Jacob; Brungart, Martin; Bryson, Robert; Buchanan, General George; Buchtel, John; Burchfield, William; Burnside, James; Burnside, Thomas; Caldwell, Jane; Caldwell, Thomas; Callahan, Charles; Cambridge, Constans; Cambridge, John; Campbell, Cleary; Campbell, David; Campbell, James; Canfield, Dr. Ira; Carner, William; Carson, Margaret; Cathcart, William; Chambers, Elijah; Chambers, James; Conser, John; Cook, Martha Walker; Cook, William; Cooper, Rev. Samuel; Corman, George; Crothwaite., Robert; Curtin, A. G.; Curtin, Dr. Constans; Curtin, Roland; Curtin, Roland Jr.; Dale, Christian; Dale, Henry; David, Daniel; De Hass, John Philip; Dobbins, Dr. Daniel; Dougherty, James; Downing, Thomas; Dubbs, Oswald; Dubbs, Oswald; Duncan, David; Dundas, Isabella; Dundavy, D.; Dunlap, Col. James; Dunlap, John; Eckley, Eli; Elder, A. M.; Ellenbarges, Jacob; Ertle, Valentine; Etters, John; Etters, John; Etters, Mary; Everhart, William; Everly, Christian; Ferguson, Thomas; Fetzer, Michael; Fisher, Rev. Peter; Frank, George; Furey, John; Furey, William; Gast, Christian; Gast, Christian; Gast, Nicholas; Gill, William; Glenn, John; Glenn, John; Graham, George; Gramly, Adam; Gramly, Francis G; Gramly, John; Gray, John; Gray, John L.; Gray, Peter; Gray, Peter B.; Green, Joseph; Green, Joseph Jr.; Green, S. Miles; Gregg, Andrew; Gregg, John Irwin; Hale, James T.; Henning, John

Look for more biographies from Centre and Clinton Counties as this is an ongoing genealogy project.

Google's Number Range Search

If you are not sure of the year for your search query, Google allows you to search for a range of years.

Use the number range operator if you are not sure of the exact year, but do have an approximation. Just add two numbers, separated by two periods with no spaces in between, into the search box along with your search terms. This should find any mention of your keywords if it matches any one of the years in the number range.

If you search for

Robert Powers obituary 1920..1925

Google will return matches for the years 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, and 1925.

Or search for

Jacob Wagner ship passenger list 1880..1890

Google will return match for Jacob Wagner on any passenger list between the years 1880 and 1890.

Or use the number range to search for a person and location using their year of birth and year of death.

Mary Ellen Jones Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1866..1941

The results using a Google numrange will give any occurrence of your keywords that matches one of the years in the range.

You may be more comfortable using Google syntax. Numrange: is just another way of saying the same thing and gives the same results. Note the colon after the word numrange and a dash between the years, all with no spaces in between.

Robert Powers obituary numrange:1920-1925

Google Numrange works for any type of number: years, money, zip codes, temperature, but those making genealogy searches will probably be most interested in searching a span of years.

Genealogy Google Search Ideas
Learn more Google tips and tricks for searching your ancestors.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Picasa - Google's Free Photo Organizer

I just recommended Picasa, Google's FREE photo organizer software, to a friend, telling her how it helped me find photos and images I had "lost" on my computer, and then has since kept me organized. But until we started talking about it, I had forgotten how good Picasa really is.

Picasa sorts photos on your computer into visual albums organized by date with folder names you can recognize. Picasa makes sure you keep your photos organized even if, like me, you have put off trying to organize them because the task seems so overwhelming.

You can drag and drop to arrange your albums and make labels to create new groups. With Picasa, your pictures stay organized.

You can use Picasa instead of your usual software to move photos from your camera to your computer. And you can share photos straight from your computer to make CDs, send pictures through email, and print in color or black and white.

Click on a photo and you can crop, straighten, fix red eye, correct the contrast , or click on the I'm Feeling Lucky button which I found out "enhances dark and bright colors in a photo and adjusts both color and contrast to optimal levels in one click."

There are all sorts of visual effects which can be added to a photo including adding sepia tone, sharpen or soften the focus, or turn a color image into B & W.

If you are a blogger who posts ancestor photos or images of documents, you can crop an image, edit it, brighten it up for publishing, then click on BLOG THIS to add it to your blog where you can then add text.

Picasa is a great way to organize, write captions for your photos, edit, and backup your photo collection. Best of all, it is totally free, thanks to Google.

If you don't have Picasa, why not download it, and enjoy finding all those forgotten photos on your computer. And let Google do the organizing.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Google and the Tilde ~

On the post Google's Blog Search for Ancestors, I suggested using ~genealogy with a keyword to find blogs that are only about genealogy.

But what does the tilde ~ mean when used directly in front of the keyword genealogy?

The tilde ~ is Google's newest operand. It means that you can search not just for a keyword but also its synonyms; that is, words having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word. So by using ~genealogy, you will also find pages that use the words family history, family tree, or ancestry. Not every genealogy web page or blog entry actually uses the word genealogy so using the tilde is a way to expand your search.

You can use the tilde with other words to find synonyms. Search for ~obituary to find blogs or web pages that use the word and death notice.

I tried the tilde with locations and got mixed results. While ~NYC found New York City and New York, ~Philly seemed to find only Philly results.

On my keyboard, the tilde key is the key to the left of the number 1 key. Use with the shift key

Genealogy Google Search Ideas
Learn more Google tips and tricks for searching your ancestors.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

First Names, Redux

How Popular is your First Name? reported on first names based on the 1990 US census.

The Social Security web site also has a database of US first name popularity.

At first glance, the website seems a place for new mothers to find baby names because at the top of the page is the most popular baby names list for 2005. But look a little lower on the page, and you can get a list of up to 1000 of the most popular names for any particular year of birth starting with 1880. You can also follow the popularity of a birth name over the years. I entered 127 years - the maximum - into the box labeled Years.

Look up your own first name on the US Social Security site. Where you born in the time frame when your first name was the most popular?

How can this be used in our genealogy? Could we use name popularity as a clue to a starting place when searching for a time period of someone's birth? A first place to look based on probability?

A female named Mildred was most likely born around 1910 when the name Mildred was in the top 10 list. In 1927 the name Mildred gradually starting losing its popularity. In 1910, 1 in 8 newborn baby girls was given the name Mildred. Today, 1 in 972.

A female named Madison was probably born after 1985. In 1984 Madison as a female first name wasn't even on the radar. It all started with the lovely mermaid in the movie Splash who took her name from a street sign in NYC. Today Madison is in the top 10 most popular list.

Location distribution is also important, but the Social Security site only has data for 1960 and later. Still, I find my own name very popular in North Eastern states (where I was born), but not anywhere on the lists in the South or Western States. Could name popularity by location also give us some clues to look for areas of birth?

If nothing else, it is fun to look up family names in the database. Yet I can't help but think that we may not see clusters of popular names in the future with the advent of the Internet. Wanting a name that is unique and original, some new mothers today look at the baby name databases online to make sure they pick a name that is NOT on the most popular list.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

How Popular is Your First Name?

What are the most popular female names found on the 1990 US census? This is a very different list from the most popular baby names of today because the 1990 census lists includes all ages - from newborns to those who are over 100 - everyone who was on the 1990 census

Most Popular Female First Names on 1990 US Census

  1. MARY
  3. LINDA
  7. MARIA
  8. SUSAN
  11. LISA
  12. NANCY
  13. KAREN
  14. BETTY
  15. HELEN
  16. SANDRA
  17. DONNA
  18. CAROL
  19. RUTH
  20. SHARON

Wait a minute? Where is Emily, Emma, Ashley and Madison, the popular baby names of today? As it turns out, Emily ranks 99 overall, Emma is 134, Ashley is 725, and Madison is a lowly 2,029.

Are there really more females in the US named Dorothy than Emily? There sure were when the 1990 census was taken. I suspect it has to do with demographics. With the exception of Jennifer, all the names on the list are the popular names given to Baby Boomer babies, those born between 1946 and 1964, when the birth rate was very high.

You can go to the US 1990 census database at
to search for the popularity of your own name.

You will get a result that looks like this (my first name):
KATHLEEN 0.424 24.468 36

This means that KATHLEEN ranks 36th in terms of frequency of all US female first names (1990).

The first name, KATHLEEN, is possessed by 0.424 percent of the 1990 US census population sample.

24.468 percent of the sample population is covered by KATHLEEN and the 35 names occurring more frequently than KATHLEEN. Another way of saying this is that almost 25% of the US females have the same 36 first names!

Surname Distributions

Friday, March 09, 2007

Family Tree Forgeries

In the early 1900's, a genealogist scammer by the name of Gustav Anjou created hundreds of fraudulent genealogies and family trees for unsuspecting clients. Each family paid thousands of dollars to Anjou, in those days, a small fortune.

All the fradulent Anjou manuscripts have similar characteristics. They are in typescript manuscript form and begin with a two or three page history of the surname, with almost all genealogies going back deep into the European lines. All were written between 1900-1941 and may or may not carry the authors name or date and place of publication.

Anjou was a master at combining families to create one related family tree. Sometimes, he took a valid family tree and without proof appended it to the family tree of his client. Or sometimes, he added wills, births, marriages, and deaths that were his inventions into existing records. It is hard to tell where his falsification begins and ends because his forged genealogies have much proven material also.

Unfortunately, many of these manuscripts still sit on the shelves of the Family History Library of Salt Lake City, Utah and the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana with no indication that these are known forgeries.

Because the unwary clients believed they had a true genealogy, they and their descendants have republished these fraudulent family trees over the years in family books, the Mormon Church Ancestral Files, Family Tree Makers's World Family Tree Cd's, and the Ancestry World Tree. The cycle continues today as unsuspecting people download family trees from the Internet.

If you find a family tree on the Internet, even if the information has a source, don’t take it at its face value. It should be verified personally. Gustav Anjou’s forgeries have worked their way into many family trees on the web today.

For more information about Gustav Anjou and a list of his known forgeries , go to

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Google Alerts & Genealogy Queries

Google Alerts lets you automate your Google genealogy queries, sending you an email whenever any new content about your query is added to the Google index. This makes it easy to keep up with your Google genealogy searches and not miss any new sites without having to perform the same Google searches over and over.

Google Alerts

Create a set of keywords, and Google Alert will run a search each day, and automatically send you an email alert when the query produces *NEW* results. So before taking advantage of the Google Alerts, you will want to first run the query in Google to thorougly examine all the old results.

You can use all the advanced search features that Google offers such as quotes, math signs, etc, as you would in a regular Google genealogy query. To take full advantage of Google Alerts, you can learn about advanced Google search features for genealogists at Google Hints and Tips for Genealogists .

I’ve been using Google Alert for a while now and have been pleasantly surprised at the results. Not only have I found previously unknown Web Pages that fit my query, but I have also found archived Rootsweb mailing lists that I never would have thought of searching.

You can set Google Alerts to perform a search once a day, once a week, or as it happens. You can search the Web, Blogs, Groups, News or Comprehensive (all). I have been using Comprehensive, but most of the results I get are from the Web.

You can search for your surnames, or ancestral town, or whatever, whomever, and wherever you are researching. With unlimited alerts allowed, you can set up an Alert for individual people in your database. You can search for records you hope someday may be transcribed and put on the web.

Google Alerts

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Google's Blog Search for Ancestors

Google has a blog search in beta. Now you don't have to search each blog individually, but can search all blogs (and only blogs) at one time.

Today, many of the top genealogy sites announce their new databases on their blogs - with surnames. Other blogs are devoted to research on particular ancestors - so a search of genealogy blogs could help you find repositories of otherwise unknown family tree information.

Search for ancestor surnames, genealogy topics, locations, or relatives.

Google says:

Blog Search is Google search technology focused on blogs. Google is a strong believer in the self-publishing phenomenon represented by blogging, and we hope Blog Search will help our users to explore the blogging universe more effectively... Blog Search enables you to find out what people are saying on any subject of your choice.

You can choose to search posts from the last hour, last 12 hours, last day, past week, etc. so that you don't duplicate your searching effort.

You can also subscribe to 'blog alerts" to automate your blog queries for surnames and ancestral towns. You will receive an e-mail when your query keywords are found in a blog.

To create a query so that only genealogy blogs are searched, be sure to add ~genealogy to the query along with your surname or other keyword.

Google Blog Search
Easy Genealogy Google Searcher, Part II
The blog search is also part of the Easy Genealogy Google Searcher, Part II

Monday, March 05, 2007

BYU Computerized Family History & Genealogy Conference

If you are anywhere near Provo, Utah, don't miss Brigham Young University's Annual 2007 Computerized Family History and Genealogy Conference March 16 and 17, 2007, held at the Conference Center on BYU campus.

Learn how advancements in computer programs are revolutionizing genealogical and family history work.

The featured presenters for this conference will be Dick Eastman, editor of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, and Alan Mann, manager of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

For more information, go to

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Easter Date Finder

Easter, April 8, 2007 will be here soon. Just take a look at this year's calendar and you can find the date.

But what if you are trying to date a photo from years ago that is simply marked Easter, 1948?

Or if you are reading an old newspaper clipping that says a wedding took place on the Saturday after Easter, 1922?

Or a death happened on the day before Easter, 1887?

How can you determine those dates? It is easy with the online

Easter Date Finder
Just enter the year to find the date on which Easter fell.