Sunday, January 31, 2010

Genealogy Assist by US Immigration Services

The Department of US Citizenship and Immigration Services provides a fee-for-service program providing family historians and other researchers with timely access to historical immigration and naturalization records.

Dick Eastman recently reported on this in his online newsletter, and one of our monthly speakers in 2008, a representative from the USCIS, talked about it also. For as little as $20 the USCIS will search its indexes or provide record copies of documents.

These records are available through the USCIS Genealogy Program:
>Naturalization Certificate Files (C-files) from September 27, 1906 to April 1, 1956
>Alien Registration Forms from August 1, 1940 to March 31, 1944
>Visa files from July 1, 1924 to March 31, 1944
>Registry Files from March 2, 1929 to March 31, 1944
>Alien Files (A-files) numbered below 8 million (A8000000) and documents therein dated prior to May 1, 1951

Visit this website to get additional information:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Analyzing an Obituary

Obituaries can be chocked full of valuable genealogical information. Not only can they provide the date of death, but they can also reveal children and grandchildren, places of residence, cause of death, etc.

Miriam Midkiff in her Blog titled AnceStories: the Stories of My Ancestors, leads us through her analysis of an obituary. Although it applies specifically to one of her ancestors, the analytical process and the logic she uses can be instructive to us all.

Check it out at:

Friday, January 29, 2010

Free Online Forms

There are many site that provide free forms for us to download. One from the Western Wayne County Michigan Genealogy Society recently came to my attention. It offers not only the usual census forms, pedigree charts, etc., but also some some that you do not often see. Examples of those are forms for Michigan death records, Ohio vital records, WWI draft cards, and many others.

The forms are nicely categorized and all can be downloaded in pdf format. Check out the site at:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Royal Palms South Cemetery Book Now Available

This month saw the publication of the Royal Palms South Cemetery Book by the Pinellas Genealogy Society.

Royal Palm Cemetery was started by Reginald H. Summer on 80 acres originally owned by George S. Gandy, Sr. (who is buried at the cemetery with his wife). The cemetery is located on First Avenue South in St. Petersburg, FL and was established in 1921. The grounds consist of 55 acres interring over 20,000. The names are listed alphabetically as canvassed in March 2001. Any interments after that date are not accounted for in this work.

The spiral bound book contains 444 pages providing nine pages of colored pictures of various tombstones, including a colored cover and four pages of obituaries. Sections for Russian, Jewish and Dutch graves have been translated for convenience. Included in the book are plot maps showing grave locations, plus aerial and street maps.

The efforts of many society volunteers over the past few years is what made this publication possible, and our thanks goes out to them. It is through their efforts and the efforts of other volunteers working similar projects that we are making Pinellas County genealogy data available to researchers throughout the world. The index to the book is published on our website, and the books are available on request at a modest price.

Copies of this book, as well as all most of our 25 others can be found in the Family History Center at Salt Lake City, the Allen County Library, the Mid-Continental Library, and the Library of Congress. Copies are also routinely purchased by other libraries around the country, not to mention interested individuals. In the near future, a copy of the book will be added to our collection in the Largo Public Library.

Here are the volunteers who helped make this publication possible (given the time span of this project, it is possible that some have been overlooked, and our appologies go out to them:
Trish Burch, Lesleigh Butts, Ann Catlin, Charles & Pat Grandmason, Kerry and Joann McElhaney, Rae Rose, Beth Shields, Alice Groman, H. Stanley Shali, Kyle Cannon and Boy Schout Troop 84, Peter Luginbuehl, Bob McManaway Jean Boyer, Barbara Knibbs, Earl Brigance, Todd Williams, Cesar Tolentino, Bruce & Phyllis Belnap, Jeffrey Cluff, Nancy Keizer, Pat Johnson,Don Conrad, Bob Smith, Diana & Larry Dean, Margie & Gene Fallon, Kari Cannon, Jordan Cannon, Boyd & Cheryl Belnap, Jeffrey Cluff, Kevin Cluff, Diane Griffin,Phil & Virginia Huchton, Gladys Evan, Peter Summers, Pat LeConte, and David Dellinger.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ancestry Advertises Its 1950 Census Substitute

Recently has been advertising its substitute for the 1950 census. More correctly, I suppose, they could also be advertising the 1940 census substitute as well.

The data they are referring to is their growing collection of city directories. Those publications contain at minimum the names and addresses of the people in the covered cities. They offer information about employment and spouses also. For instance in the 1947 city Directory for Ashland, Wisconsin, my father is shown with his address, his place of employment, and his job there. In the same listing is my mother and her occupation and place of employment.

If you have not looked at this growing collection of city directories, you may want to check it out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Registration for PGS Classes

Where ever we advertise our classes, we also advise you to register for the classes you wish to attend. We do this for two reasons. First, there is limited seating in the class room (we can seat about 20). If there is an overflow that the room cannot handle, priority goes to those who registered. Admittedly, there is little probability of this happening. Even though we have come close a couple of times, we have not turned anyone away yet.

Second, if a problem arises and the class has to be cancelled, we can send an email to those who registered and possibly avoid a frustrating trip to the library.

Registration only applies to the classes held in the Local History Room.

Here is the information on how to register: Email Bob Bryan at or call at 595-4521 to reserve your seat for Local History Room classes.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Big Prizes at PGS Seminar on 13 February

I have told you about the upcoming Annual PGS Genealogy Seminar before and highlighted our speaker, Dick Eastman, author of arguably the most widely read online genealogy newsletter. I have given you detailed information about the four breakout sessions from which you can choose. And we have gone on at length about the book sale and the continental breakfast.

One thing that I have mentioned, but without much detail, is the fact that there will be prizes given out during the seminar: door prizes and raffles.

We are collecting a sizable number of prizes, but I would like to make three of the aware to you. We will have offering two world deluxe annual memberships to and a copy of Family Tree Maker 2010 either as raffles or door prizes! Those three items alone have a value of about $650.

There are many reasons to attend the seminar: the speakers, the books, the food, the networking with other genealogists....but don't forget the prizes.

You can get a seminar registration form from the Genealogy Center at the Largo Public Library or at the PGS website (

Inter-Library Loan an Often Over-Looked Resource

We all know about inter-library loans, and may all have used that service at one time or another. I mention it here only because it may not come immediately to mind when we are searching for genealogy sources.

We may look in the library catalog for a particular book, or we may look on line through Google Books, or eBay, or name just a few sources. But if we don't find the book locally or we don't find it digitized on line, how many of us forget that it may still be easily available through inter-library loan.

My personal experience with the service has been very rewarding. In one case I got a book about my family when I truly did not expect to. Only 18 copies of the book were published so I thought no library would part with it. I tried anyway and was rewarded by having the book to myself for a full month! And just this past week the Library at the University of Georgia came through with another book that had a limited distribution.

You can request an inter-library loan yourself using the computer (at the library or at home). Although this capability exists, the most sure-fire way to get the request made is to ask for assistance from a librarian.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Individual Assistance Avalible by Corps of Volunteers

Did you know that one of the benefits of membership in the PGS is that you can receive individual help in many different areas of genealogy. Those areas range from different aspects of genealogy research to using technology in your genealogical pursuits.

Below is the list of areas in which help is available. You can get a contact point for each of them by asking a consultant at the Genealogy Center of the Largo Public Library, or by looking on the PGS website: (you will find it under "Volunteer Spotlight" and then "PGS Help Desk."

Area of Interest
Becoming a Certified Genealogist
Canada (Eastern)
Canada (Ontario Leeds & Grenville Counties)
Computer Basics for Genealogy
Digital Photography
Email Questions
Excel Spreadsheet
Family Tree Maker Program
General Genealogy Questions
German Research
Getting Started in Genealogy
Internet online research
Mayflower Society
Colonial Dames
DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution)
UDC (United Daughters of the Confederacy)
DUV (Daughters of Union Veterans)
DAC (Daughters of American Colonists)
Midwestern US Research
New England Research
Organization of computer files
PAF Program
Photograph Editing, Restoration
Roots Magic Program
Spain and Latin America (research and translation
Swedish Research—Genline, Emibas, Swedish Census 1890
The Master Genealogist Program
Translators – French
Translators – German
Translators – Spanish
Word Processing
Writing & Publishing Family History
Native American Genealogy

Friday, January 22, 2010

Class List for March-May Available

Advanced copies of the new class list are available as a handout at the Genealogy Center of the Largo Public Library, and it will soon be publish on the PGS website calendar.

There are some brand new classes offered on this list that you may be interested in:

>Descendant Research
>Developing a Research Plan
>French-Canadian Genealogy
>Intro to and
>Searching the Internet for online books
>Tours of the Genealogy Center

In addition to those, we are offering many popular classes from previous "terms." In total, the PGS is offering 34 classes in the period from March through May. We are proud of our education program, and hope you will take advantage of it by attending several classes.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Writing For Records Pay Off

In his Genealogy Blog for 10 January of this year, Joe Beine gives us an account of how he obtained a marriage record from a church in Germany that was not available at the Family History Library. He accomplished that by writing to the church.

All of us know that courthouses and churches and archives hold documents available nowhere else (gasp...not even on the Internet!). But admit it...sometimes it seems like a lot of trouble to make the effort to give the facility a call or write a letter. Joe's article can provide some motivation to overcome that inertia. His success story in finding a German marriage record is both interesting and inspiring.

You can read the article at:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Suncoast Genealogy Seminar--27 March 2010

Suncoast Genealogy Society Announces
Suncoast Mini Seminar 2010
March 27, 2010
Palm Harbor Library Community Room
2330 Nebraska Ave, Palm Harbor
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
(Registration 12:30PM)
Debra Fleming

Heritage Quest - An Underutilized Resource!

For additional information Contact: Ann James
Phone: 727-791-1983

-------------------------Registration Form-------------------------
Please Print
Name _________________________ Address _________________________________
City___________________________ State_____________________ Zip ___________
Phone # _______________________ Email ___________________________________

Make checks payable to:
Suncoast Genealogy Society, Inc
Mail to: Ann James
2850 Chancery Lane
Clearwater, FL 33759
SGS members $10 in advance, $15 after March 15
Non-members $20
$20 at the door if space allows

Pre-registration must be made by March 15th 2010

eBay and Genealogy

I'll admit that I am not a user of eBay...but that might change.

In a recent article in his online newsletter, Dick Eastman showed a list of the genealogy-related items that he found for sale there. Those items included books, CD's, maps, and city directories, to name a few.

You can even set up eBay to watch for items that you specify. That is like Google Alerts, where you have Google do a specified search for you and notify you of the results via email. It does the work for you in the background, and eBay has a similar capability. Dick's article goes into detail on how to set up such a feature. (On this Blog, go to the post for 25 Aug 2009 for a blurb on using Google Alerts.)

You can read all of Dick's article at:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Writer's Workshop to be held 19 January at the Largo Library

The Family History Writer's Workshop will be held at 6 pm on 19 January. The topic with month will be writing pieces to accompany your photographs. So bring a photo with you to practice on, because we will be doing some writing during the evening. Esther Meinhardt will be leading this session.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

FamilySearch Classes Online

Did you know that you could take some classes online from the website? Currently the following classes are available.

England Beginning Research
Germany Research
Ireland Research
Italy Research
Principios básicos para la investigación genealógica en Hispanoamérica (México)
Research Principles and Tools
Russia Research
U.S. Research

There are no special requirments that you must meet to take the schedules, no exams, no fees. Each class consists of several lessons that include a video that you can view online or download to your computer. There is also a class outline in pdf format you can download for each lesson.

Each of the classes listed above is a hot link, so simply click on the class title you may be interested in and you will be taken to the "home" page for all of the classes listed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Getting Started--in English Genealogy

Sarah Freeman, writing for the Yorkshire Post, has produced an informative getting-started-in-genealogy article. It is aimed at the newspaper's English readers, but it therefore give anyone with English ancestry some valuable information.

She covers the basics of getting started (start with yourself and work backward, talk to living relatives, etc), but she also addresses wills, military records, census records, and vital records as they apply specifically to English ancestors.

You can find Sara's article at

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Renew Your Membership

There are still a number of members who have not renewed their membership for 2010! I know this is simply a function of the press of the holidays, entertaining visitors escaping the snow, etc. But your continued participation is important to us.

Dues are only $17 a year. They have remained that low because of the size of our membership, so your continued support is vitally important to all of the other members.

And look at all you get for that paltry sum: classes, speakers, field trips, newsletter, website, Blog, huge selection of research material, research assistance (1-on-1 if you desire), journal, seminar, classes on CD-ROM, cemetery and funeral home publications, networking opportunities, etc.

In addition, you can save money as a member: you get a reduction in price for the seminar and CD-ROM classes. And the journal (a professional class journal, I might add) is available to members for free. Think of it this way...if you attend the seminar and buy one CD-ROM class, you just about pay for your membership.

So please renew. Bring $17 to the next meeting or send it to Pinellas Genealogy Society, 120 Central Park Drive, Largo, FL 33771.

If you have paid your dues, remind your friends to pay theirs...they have been as busy over the holidays as you have been, and may need a friendly reminder.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Draper Manucripts Hold a Wealth of Information

Finding names of our ancestors and their dates is wonderful and very addictive, but it’s equally fun to find out what life was like for them. If one or more of your ancestors lived on the western frontier during or just after the America Revolution, you’ll have a wonderful time reading through the Draper Papers. Those papers cover the period between the French and Indian War and the War of 1812. The collection consists of research notes, letters, correspondence, and interviews of people who lived in the Trans Allegheny West—Western Carolinas, West Virginia, Kentucky, and the Ohio River Valley. Google “Draper Papers” and follow some of the links. Check out for a more complete description of the collection.

Using the collection requires a bit of effort, but can be well worth it. It is massive—491 volumes on 123 microfilm reels, and isn’t indexed. Many scholars have worked on guides which are indexed. The best of these is Josephine Harper's detailed Guide to the Draper Manuscripts, for sale from the Wisconsin Historical Society. The original collection is at the University of Wisconsin, and microfilms are available. Copies of the microfilms can be found in Florida at several locations: Florida State University (Tallahassee); Miami-Dade Public Library (Miami); University of Central Florida (Orlando). The closest to us is the John F. Germany Public Library in Tampa. If you search their catalog on line, you will find 6 titles from the Draper collection. The Family History Library at Salt Lake City also has the microfilm collection so you should be able to order selections from our local Family History Library. And a quick check of shows it has three full-text volumes from the collection on line.

One of our members, Jane Jacobson, was excited to read an interview Draper did with her great-grandfather’s grandmother, Jane Williamson McNulty. She was the daughter of Colonel David Williamson, commander of a group of volunteers from Washington County, PA. Not only did she relate stories about his career, she even described him as being of medium height with light brown hair and blue eyes. She also mentioned many of the men associated with his troops. How often do we find out details like that about our distant ancestors?

The Largo Public Library has a copy of a book compiled from word of mouth stories taken from Draper interviews: Indian Warfare in Western Pennsylvania and North West Virginia at the Time of the American Revolution. It was edited by Jared C. Lobdell, call number “973.343 Indian”. Reading this little book gives you a picture of life on the frontier during the Revolution and names of many people not found in other sources.

My thanks for Jane Jacobson for this informaiton. If any of you have items you think would be of general interest, send them to me at and I'll try to get them on the Blog.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

PGS Classes for Next Two Weeks

Here is a listing of the classes and events for two weeks starting 10 January 2010. I know they are on lists at the library and the website, but for your convenience, here goes (they are all at the Largo Public Library and open to the public...bring a friend):

Digital Cameras in genealogy--how to use this valuable tool.
6:00 PM, Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Documentation--how to document sources (includes what information to document and a look at using genealogy software to help do the job).
6:00 PM, Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Computers in Genealogy Discussion Group--9:45 AM, Saturday, January 16, 2010 (this immediately precedes the monthly meeting which is listed next.

Monthly meeting--11 AM, Saturday, January 16, 2010 (The speaker will be Damon Hostetler, the topic will be "What Happens When You Put Meat On Them Bones."

Painless Publishing for Genealogy—e-books, print on demand, et. al. ('s not TRULY painless, but it's much easier than you might imagine and you don't want to miss out).
6:00 PM, Monday, January 25, 2010

Family History Writers Workshop--focus is on actual writing with hints, tips, techniques.
6:00 PM, Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Genealogy numbering systems and how to use them--Ahnentafel? Henry? Register? Modified Register? Come and see what they are and how to use them.
10:00 AM, Thursday, January 21, 2010

RootsMagic User Group--(bring your questions/problems, or simply attend to see what this competitor to Family Tree Maker is all about).
10:00 AM, Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

PGS Class Change

Some of you may have seen a list of PGS classes that had an error on it. At 6pm on 25 January Bob Bryan is teaching a class on publishing ("Painless Publishing for Genealogy--ebooks, print on demand, etc.).

That class was erroneously publicized as taking place on 18 January. Change your calendar entry to the 25th if you were intending on attending that class.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

State Census Records at Ancestry and FamilySearch

Miriam Midkiff has done a service for us all. In her Blog, AnceStories: The Stories of MY Ancestors, she has enumerated all of the state censuses made available to us through and

This is helpful because there are some differences in the coverage. It is also helpful because the states censuses covered by FamilySearch are more or less buried in their Pilot Search Project. Unless you remember to frequently check on what that project has added, you could easily miss valuable new entries.

You can check out Miriam's listing at:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Image Storage Formats and Media...What To Do?

"Here's the bottom line: Storing images today in a common format (JPG, GIF, TIFF, PDF, etc.) on any sort of common storage media is an excellent method of making sure that the images remain available for future generations of genealogists. In theory, creating images today in a common file format and storing those images on CD disks, DVD disks, or even online, ensures that such information could remain available for 100 years, 200 years, or even longer."

That statement was made by Dick Eastman, our seminar speaker on 13 February 2010, in a recent article in his online newsletter. The article is an in-depth discussion of the problems genealogists face when deciding how to store images...microfilm, digitally, paper, pdf, jpg, disc, USB drive, etc.

Dick, as most of you know, is a technology-oriented guy, and that background gives him a unique perspective on the problem of image storage. The quote above is his "bottom line," but reading the entire article to see how he got there is well worth the time. The issue he addresses is of great importance to us all.

Dick's article is at:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

German Research Seminar

A seminar on "The ABCs of Basic German Research" with Larry Jensen, AG, BS will be presented on 27 February from 9:15 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. by the SW Florida Germanic Genealogy Society in Port Charlotte. Pre-register by 19 February. Read more about it and register at Presentations include:

The ABC's of Basic German Research.
The importance of maps in German Genealogical Research.
Understanding the Historical and Cultural Background of the Area of Research.
Understanding the Use of German Reference and Research Tools.

Genealogy New Year's Resolutions

This time of year it is not unusual to run across other people's New Year's resolution lists. Whenever that happens and especially if the list applies to genealogy, I pay particular attention. It is on lists like those, made up by other people, that I am reminded of some important genealogical tasks that have become buried under the press of normal, day-to-day existence.

One list I recently read was by Tina Lyons, another blogger. She has revealing entries about promoting her research that are more than likely on nearly every one's list, as well as some other, less universal items.

Take a look at Tina's list and perhaps you will be encouraged to make your own, or at least be reminded of some things you should be paying more attention to.

Tina's list is at:

Monday, January 4, 2010

Medical Family Tree and Genetic Testing

I'm sure by now that all of us have heard of constructing a medical family tree. This "medical genealogy" may reveal patterns of diseases that run in your family. The question then is "What do I do with that information?"

Fred Cicetti in has written an article on just that topic. He suggests that genetic testing could be the next logical step. This testing can reveal mutations that raise the risk o f developing a certain disease, and can convince people to take preventive actions if any exist. This is quite sobering when you consider, Fred says, that almost one-third of known diseases have genetic links.

But before you rush off to action, you can read the entire article at:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Some Interesting Classes This Week

Thought I'd give you an alert about some classes coming up this week (all at the Largo Public Library).

On Monday, 4 January at 6 PM there will be class on "Getting Started in Genealogy." I know most of you are past that stage, but you may know of some one who may be interested in seeing what our obsession is all about. If you do, send them to the library on Monday.

On Tuesday, 5 January at 6 PM the class will be one called "Census Time Lines." This class takes an in-depth look at the census. It tracks questions as they are asked over the various census year, it examines the instructions given to the census takers, and it explores research opportunities uncovered by our ancestor's responses over several census years. Examples of question areas covered are property values, immigration, education, occupation, military service, and others. This is really an advanced census course.

On Wednesday, 6 January at 10 am the class will be "Descendant Research." This examines the value of researching collateral lines and shows useful techniques in doing so. You can often uncover things about you direct-line ancestors by researching the brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles.

Our educational program is one of the prime benefits of PGS membership, so consider attending some classes, and suggesting that your friends drop in also. Remember, they are free and open to the public.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Upcoming FGS Meeting (Tampa)

Our friends at the Florida Genealogy Society in Tampa have sent a note telling us of their meeting is February. Here is what's happening.

"The February monthly meeting will be held at 10:30 AM on Saturday, February 6th, 2010, in the auditorium of the John F. Germany Public Library. The speaker will be Donna M. Moughty, professional genealogist and lecturer. Donna's presentation is titled "Sources for Irish Records." Learn to use U.S. resources to focus on finding the right place and time in Ireland to pursue your Irish ancestors."

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Resolutions

It's the beginning of a new year and a great time to get those New Year's resolutions up to date. What better time than now to formally resolve to accomplish some of the genealogy goals you have been thinking of but have been putting off.

In case you need some help, here are a few that would probably find their way onto most of our lists:
>Get organized. File that stack of stuff that has been collecting into appropriate folders, binders, etc. The stack will not get any smaller on its own, and its "stack-ness" places in peril of being lost everything that is in it.
>Go to a genealogy class. Yes, I know you have been to classes already. But you will be surprise what you will pick up from the discussion when you attend a class you have already been to. And our classes change over time. Don't be put off by a familiar title...sign up.
>Read a book on Genealogy. Expand your horizons. It doesn't matter what your background is, you will more than likely learn a trick or two reading about Jewish or African-American or Native-American genealogy. Or what about a book on DNA testing? Are you sure you know what that's all about? You can take this a step further: after you have read the book, write a short review of it for our journal, Pinellas Genealogist.
>Help another genealogist. No matter how small the assistance given may seem to you, it can be huge for the person you have helped. If you need some suggestions about how to extend yourself in this way, contact myself or Pat Leconte at

So there are a few starters as you formulate your own list. Bring together this season of renewal (New Year) with your favorite hobby (genealogy). You will be surprise at what you can accomplish.