Thursday, February 26, 2009

Have You Looked at Prologue?

Prologue is the name of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) quarterly publication. Although it costs $24 a year to subscribe to the magazine, you can read archived issues back to 1975 for free. The articles are rich in U.S. history, news about the National Archives, and databases to check out.

Here is the link that takes you directly to the Prologue archives page:

But while you are there, go to the NARA home have and look around a bit. There are links galore to get lost in:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

PGS Supports African-American Heritage Celebration

Pinellas Genealogy Society will be at the African-American Heritage Celebration held on 28 Feb 2009 at Heritage Village. We will have a table with information about PGS activities and resources. You are invited to come by and support this event held from 11 AM-5:30 PM. More information is available at

Heritage Village is located at 11909 125th Street N., Largo, FL 33774. See for a map.

South Carolina African American Records to Be Published Online

Dick Eastman's Online Newsletter had the following article:

The following announcement was written by Lowcountry Africana and The South
Carolina Department of Archives and History:
Lowcountry Africana and The South Carolina Department of Archives and History today announced plans to digitize and publish freely online more than 25,000 historic documents of interest to researchers of African American genealogy and history.Under the new agreement, Colonial and Charleston, South Carolina estate inventories dated 1732-1867 will be digitized and indexed in detail, including the names of more than 30,000 slaves. Inventories of estates in early South Carolina probate records often listed slaves in family groupings. They also detail the material possessions so important for researchers of social and cultural history. "South
Carolina has one of the richest sets of early government records of any of the original states,” said Charles Lesser, Senior Archivist at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.” This new cooperative effort will revolutionize access to an especially important segment of those records," concluded Lesser.

If you wish to read the entire article in Eastman's Newsletter, you can find it at the following address:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ethical Wills are a Way to Pass On a Family Heritage

Kevin Simpson has written a fascinating article in the Denver Post about ethical wills. In short, these are documents (also audio and video recordings) that pass on to family members a person's beliefs, philosophies, and guidance. In doing so they also become treasures that following generations can benefit and learn from, but which also will bring to life the person who originally did the writing.

As I read the article I was struck by two thoughts. First I wished that my great grandfather had left such a document...what a treasure that would be! Second, it made me consider my responsibilities in creating such a document for my descendants.

In March we are starting a Writer's Workshop, and this will certainly be one of the topics of discussion.

You can find Kevin's article at:

New Census Class: "Census Perspectives"

Many of you have been to our census class titled "Census Tracking." Now there is a new census class called "Census Perspectives." If you have been to the first one, you will certainly benefit from the new one. If the tracking class can be thought of as "Census 101," the perspectives class is "Census 201."

This new class goes into depth on much of the information found on the census besides what is needed to track people from one census to the other. It looks at information categories such as property, marriage, occupations, military service, immigration, education, and naturalization.

The class follows those categories through the census years by examining the actual instructions given to census enumerators in order to understand the responses given by our ancestors. And time lines are constructed for each of the areas to see what is revealed by changes in them from census to census.

If the tracking class looks at the census as a series of snapshots, the perspectives class looks at the census as a motion picture.

The first of these new classes is offered on Tuesday, 3 March at 6 pm in the Local History Room of the library. If you are interested in attending, notify Bob Bryan [ or 727-595-4521] to reserve a seat. The class is free but seating is limited.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gloria Beek Honored

Gloria Beek was honored at this year's annual PGS seminar on 14 February 2009 with the Unsung Researcher Award.

This award is presented annually to individuals who have made a significant contribution in support of PGS Objectives and the field of Genealogy. Gloria, a long-time member of the society, gives freely of her time volunteering with the group that is primarily responsible for the society's direct support of the Largo Library. Among other efforts, she has worked on the manuscript collection and the rare book collection. She was also singularly responsible for our successful transfer of ownership of a signed Carl Sandburg letter to the National Park Service, and of a collection of King family documents to the Library of Congress.

The trophy that Gloria is holding in the picture is displayed in the Genealogy Center of the Largo Library. It displays the names of all past recipients.

Congratulations, Gloria. The award is well-deserved.

Roots Magic User's Group

This coming Saturday, 28 February, the Roots Magic User's Group will meet in the Local History Room at 12 PM. Normally this group meets the 4th Saturday at 10 AM, but schedule conflicts require the change for this month.

This meeting is meant to be mostly a Q&A session, so bring your questions/problems about using the Roots Magic program. The meeting will be of interest to current users of this popular genealogy program as well as those who may be considering using it in the future.

Manasota Genealogical Society Meeting

The Manasota Genealogical Society is sponsoring Tom Kemp as its speaker. The topic will be "Core Online Genealogy Resources--The Ones You Will Actually Rely On."

If you are interested, here is the time/date/location information:
Date: TUESDAY, March 3, 2009
Where: Manatee Central Library, 1301 Barcarrota Blvd.
West Bradenton, Florida
Time: 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Monday, February 16, 2009

1914 County Maps by State Available Online

This website is a treasure. Check it out for 1914 county boundaries for every county in every state. Here is the address:

Genealogy Meeting, 21 February 2009, features Paul Enchelmayer

Our speaker for the meeting on 21 February will be Paul Enchelmayer.

His topic will be "Unconventional Genealogy Research: Of Privies and Progenitors." This will presentation will include "outhouse archaeology", eBay tricks, and Internet phonebooks as well as other "non-traditional tools" used to solve family history mysteries. The talk also includes a brief look at genealogy blogs, podcasts, RSS services, and other "WEB 2.0" services."

This will prove to be an entertaining as well as informative presentation that may well open our eyes to sources that we have not previously considered.

Join us at the Largo Public Library at 11 am to hear Paul. Don't forget that at 9:45 before the general meeting is our Computers in Genealogy discussion open Q&A forum.

Both the discussion group and the general meeting are open to the public.

2009 PGS/Largo Library Genealogy Seminar

The seminar on 14 February was a great success. Comments during and after the event were over-whelmingly positive. Hank Jones (the primary speaker) made 4 presentations, 4 additional break out presentations were offered, 2 new instructional CD-ROMs were introduced at special seminar prices (see the PGS webpage if you are interested in those), the book sale was huge, and there was plenty of time for attendees to mingle and get to know each other.

A special thanks goes out to all of the volunteers who worked so hard to bring this event to a successful conclusion. You cannot appreciate the amount of work and the pressure involved in staging an event like this unless you are in the thick of it. And a special pat on the back to Damon Hostetler, Seminar Director, who coordinated all of the diverse efforts. Thanks to you all.

We confirmed just this past week that our primary speaker for the seminar next year will be Dick Eastman. Most of you probably are familiar with Dick through his online genealogy newletter and his podcast interviews with makers and shakers in the world of genealogy. We are very pleased that he will be able to spend time with us. The date of the 2010 seminar is 13 February. Put it on your calendar now.

Making a Breakthrough in African American Research

Ancestry's weekly online journal had this announcement that may be of interest if you are involved in African American research:

"Making a Breakthrough in your African American Research,presented by Marjorie Sholes; Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 9 PM EDT.
African American research poses unique challenges. That’s why and Wal-art have partnered up to present a free, one-hour webinar on researching your black roots. African American research specialist Marjorie Sholes will take you step-by-step through the process she used to trace one of her own ancestors, showing you the tips and tricks she discovered along the way. In particular, she’ll focus on how to identify slave owners to unlock the history of your slave ancestors. You’ll also learn what resources are available on and elsewhere to aid in your

Here is the address to go to register for the seminar:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


This is the last month to renew your PGS dues without missing an issue of The Pinellas Genealogist. If your dues are not paid by the monthly meeting on 21 February, your membership is suspended and your name is removed from the journal mailing list.

Please don't let this happen! We want your continued support. Renew this month....send your check for $17 to the PGS (mailing address is shown below), or bring it to the meeting on 21 Feb (and hear the great program we have arranged--see the preceding post to this Blog).

Here is the mailing address:
Pinellas Genealogy Society
120 Central Park Drive
Largo, FL 33771

Change in Topic for PGS Meeting on 21 February

We have had a change in topic for our speaker, Paul Enchelmayer, scheduled for the PGS monthly meeting on 21 February. Here is the new topic:

"Unconventional Genealogy Research: Of Privies and Progenitors"
Outhouse archaeology, eBay tricks, and Internet phonebooks are just some of the
non-traditional tools used to solve family history mysteries. The talk also
includes a brief look at genealogy blogs, podcasts, RSS services, and other "WEB
2.0" services.

This will be an interesting and entertaining talk, and has the potential of opening research avenues some of us may not have considered.

The meeting is at 11 am in the Jenkins Room of the Largo Library, and is preceded at 9:45 am by the Computers-in-Genealogy discussion group. Join us.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Etymology and History of First Names

Here's a fun website. If you were ever wondering what the first names of your ancestors mean and what their historic linkages are, this site is for you. You can browse the names or search for a particular name. And more than English names are represented: there are French, Spanish, German, Indian, African, Biblical,.....well, you get the idea. The list goes on and on.

Check it out at

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Get a Handy List of Circulating Books

Available now on the desk in the Largo Library Genealogy Center is a list of circulating genealogy books. The circulating books are kept on the first row of shelves and are marked with a piece of green tape on the spine...and, of course, circulating means you can check them out and take them home. Most of the book in the genealogy collection are for reference only and must be used in the library.

We had some wonderful volunteer help lately that produced the list. We thought that it would be convenient for local researchers to have the list at home for reference. Drop by the genealogy desk the next time you are in the library and pick one up.

Friday, February 6, 2009

1891 Canada Census Online

From Dick Eastman's Newsletter, 5 Feb 2009
Census of Canada, 1891
The following announcement was written by Library and Archives Canada:
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce the launch of a new online database, Census of Canada, 1891. Through this online database researchers can access digitized images of original census returns featuring the name, age, country or province of birth, nationality, religion, and occupation of Canada's residents at the time of the 1891 Census.
The database is available 1891 Census marked the third regularly scheduled collection of national statistics. Information was collected for Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia and the North-West Territories (which at the time covered much of modern-day Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, northern Ontario, northern Quebec, Labrador, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut).The 1891 Census also marks the launch of a new feature that allows visitors to suggest a correction to a record. This will be launched on a wider scale in the next few months.Library and Archives Canada gratefully acknowledges the contribution of, without which this project would not have been possible.Additionally, the contributions of many LAC staff were instrumental in the success of this project, and their efforts are much appreciated. For more information, please contact us at

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Survey Maps of Ireland

If you have Irish ancestors, this may be of interest to you.

At the left end of the genealogy desk in the library (left end as you face the desk) is a box containing survey maps of Ireland. The dates of the surveys range in the early 1900's.

This is an often-overlooked resource. Check it out.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pictures of Old County Court Houses Available

Here is a resource I bet you didn't know about. In a binder at the right end of the counter in the Largo Library Genealogy Center are pictures of county court houses taken from old newspaper articles. They are organized by state and then by county. Not all of the court houses in the country are represented, of course, but you will find more than you would expect.

Ask the genealogy consultant at the desk to get the binder for you. You can then use your digital camera to take a picture or use the copier to reproduce the photo to take home for your files.

I'm not sure who put this collection together, but who ever it is deserves our thanks.

Monday, February 2, 2009

African-American Research Challenges and Helps

The Asheville, NC newspaper, Citizen-Times, has an informative article about the challenges of African-American genealogical research. It also provides some sources that those interested in the area may not be aware of.

You can find the article at:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pennsylvania “Right to Know” law goes into effect

Those of you involved in Pennsylvania research may find this interesting.

The state of Pennsylvania has a new “Right-to-Know” law, effective January 1, 2009. The main point of this law is its presumption of openness. Citizens no longer have to prove that a record is public and that it should be released. Instead, a government agency must presume that the record is a public record unless there is legal citation why that record should not be available to the public.

In other words, vital statistics records are subject to the Right to Know Law unless there are statutory provisions enacted to the contrary. For instance, there are statutes protecting adoption records and birth records from disclosure and the Right to Know act would not pre-empt those. Also, the Right to Know act has an exception for any record that identifies the name, home address or date of birth of a child 17 years or younger.

Here are a couple of places you can go for detailed information: