Saturday, December 31, 2011

Czech Research Assistance Available

If you are stuck and need some research assistance for South bohemia or the Czech Republic, contact . You can also call at 727-641-4456. Judy can also help translate old German script, Czech, and Latin.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Heritage and World Vital Records

You may have heard by now that My Heritage has bought World Vital Records. That could be important to us on at least two levels. First, as genealogy researchers, our data availability may be impacted. It is difficult to see how this might manifest itself, in reality it would serve no one's interest to restrict data.

But we may see some version of this in perhaps higher access fees (World Vital Records is a pay site). Or perhaps not. Decisions like that are usually made at coporate levels and we just end up holding on for the ride, and ultimately voting with our purchase or lack of purchase.

About all that is clear to me is that the subscription discount the PGS members enjoy is still substantial...and I confirmed that with the folks at World Vital Records just recently after the purchase took place. There is only one level of subscription to WVR now, and it costs about $149 a year. We realize a savings of a bit over 45%.

If you recall, earlier this year Ancestry bought Footnote (now Fold3)--another site for which our members continue realize a discount (about 50%).

This type of corporate buying and selling is not something that should come as a surprise to us. After all, genealogy is an area of great public interest right now and thus a source of consumer dollars, and that translates to market opportunities. It does not matter what the economic area is, if profits are there to be made, then this sort of capitalist posturing is to be expected.

What I do know is that typically it all shakes out for the best (I know, I know, I'm a Pollyanna), and that your society is doing all it can to secure subscription benefits for you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thinking of Taking a Genealogy Cruise?

Theme cruises are seemingly becoming more and more popular. You know, take a cruise and attend sessions on technology…or genealogy…or whatever.

If you have some curiosity about such things, then Dick Eastman’s review of a genealogy cruise he took in November is worth reading. This one was one week long, was peopled by 200 or so genealogists, and cruised the Bahamas.

Dick is very detailed in his description of what went on, and very positive about the whole experience. Give it read and see if such an event may be in your future.

You can find Dick’s Article at Wholly Genes Cruise is a Success - Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Friday, December 23, 2011

Figuring out an old photo

There is really no shortage of guidance on how to figure out an old photograph, you know, identify when and where it was taken, and perhaps even who the subjects are.

But although there are many books and articles to go to for guidance, do not think it makes the job easy. That’s why I never pass up reading something more on the subject.

Susan Bankhead in her Blog Susan’s Genealogy Blog, gives us a concise ten steps to follow in decoding an old photo. It’s true that the list is a short one, and that you can read entire books on the subject, but you never know what gems you can come across in your reading. Two of the Susan’s listed steps really resonated with me: using city directories as supporting resources, and “keeping the photo in its original order or grouping.” (I’m afraid to say that I am frequently guilty of violating that last one…especially after I’ve digitized it.)

You can read the entire article at 10 Steps to Decoding a Family Photo » Susan's Genealogy Blog

By the way, our speaker at the PGS annual seminar on 11 February 2012 is going to address the topic of old photographs. Check out information about the seminar and especially about the speaker, Colleen Fitzpatrick, at

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Get Website Subscription Discounts Thru PGS

Did you know that you can get a discount on subscriptions to Fold3, World Vital Records, and Godfrey Library? All you have to do is become a member of the Pinellas Genealogy Society!

Members can go to the society's members-only website and find the instructions on how to take advantage of these great deals. You can more than pay for your membeship with the savings you get...up to 1/2 off the normal price.

Check out the websites and then join the society.


World Vital Records:

Godfrey Library:

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Time To Renew Those Dues

OK's time to open that check book and renew your PGS dues for 2012....a whopping $17!

You already know what a great deal that is. For that small amount you keep the PGS involved in its many projects, its educational events, its publications, and its support of genealogy and historical events in the area. It also keeps alive the PGS support for the Genealogy Center in the Largo Publick Library through volunteer consultants and collection maintenance.

You also get access to the members-only website where you can find handouts to all of our classes (around 40 now), past issues of the journal (Pinellas Genealogist), the monthly newletter, subscription discounts to popular internet sites, and a great collection of various handouts. And you get a member discount for the annual seminar (coming up on 11 February 2012).

Our dues are low, our benefits of memberhsip are great...renew (or join for the first time) now. Send your check to Pinellas Genealogy Society, 120 Centeral Park Drive, Largo, FL 33771.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dower versus Dowry

Confused about those two terms? Check out Michael Neill’s genealogy tip at Genealogy Tip of the Day: Dower versus Dowry

Thursday, December 15, 2011

BIRLS Database Available at

The Beneficiary Identification records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) is an addition at, that can be of great value because of it immense scope. It contains both birth and death dates for in excess of 14 million veterans and VA beneficiaries who died between 1850 and 2010.

Here is what Ancestry's dexcription of the database has to say:

"The BIRLS (Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem) Death File is a Veterans Benefits Administration database that lists the names of deceased individuals who had received benefits from the Veterans Administration while they were alive. These include veterans who received educational benefits and veterans’ survivors who applied for benefits. Details listed in the index can include
birth date
death dates
cause of death (unknown, natural, combat, other)
branch(es) of service
enlistment date(s)
release date(s)

"This collection’s scope and the potential for providing birth and death dates make it a significant source for anyone researching ancestors who served in the U.S. Armed Forces."

It is an index only, so don't expect to see any digitized records.

To get to the database, type "BIRLS" in to the title field when you search the Ancestry card catalog.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Immigration and Emigration

You ever get confused about whether somebody is emigrating or immigrating?  A tidy little article for you to read then, is one by Susan Ferrell Bankhead on her blog Susan's Genealogy blog.

She neatly explains the difference, gives you a way to remember it, and includes a handy research at tip.

Read it at I Before E or E Before I: Immigration and Emigration » Susan's Genealogy Blog

Monday, December 12, 2011

Exciting PGS Meeting Saturday, 17 December

Be sure and mark you calendar for the 17 December meeting of the Pinellas Genealogy Society!

This will be our holiday party, so be sure and bring something to contribute to the festivities. It is also the time of our annual elections.

But wait....there's more! Bring your heirlooms to show and tell about. We will have tables available for you to display your heirlooms, so bring those old photos, old books, swords, and what-have-you. This event is always popular and is a great venue to show your stuff.

In addition, we will have several short presentations, one of which will be explanations of how you can get significant subscription discounts, if you are a PGS member, to Fold3, World Vital Records, and the Godfrey Library.

This is going to be fun and packed meeting and you don't have to be a member to attend and enjoy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why Do We Do Genealogy?

In speaking with groups about getting started in genealogy, I often spend a few minutes talking about why do it the first place. I have my own ideas about this that I share with folks, but recently I ran across an article that gave me some brand new perspectives on the subject.

Diane Boumenot in her Blog, One Rhode Island Family recently wrote an article titled “10 Things I’ve Learned About Genealogy.” it is a wonderful read that tucks away in those 10 things some unique perspectives on why to get involved with genealogy. One that I especially like is where she says it combines several interests into one hobby (history, reading, writing, libraries, databases, Familys, antiques, cryptography, and bookmaking).

Checked out what Diane has to say at 10 Things I’ve Learned About Genealogy « One Rhode Island Family, and see if you can add to her list.

Friday, December 9, 2011

War of 1812 at Fold3

Fold3 has recently announced that it has finished digitizing the War of 1812 pension files for soldiers whose last name begins with the letter "A," and they are now starting on the B's.

This is great news and shows progress in making these important documents available on line. And, did I mention, access to the files is free, whether you have a subscription to Fold3 or not.


Don't forget, if you go to Fold3 and like what you see to the extent you wish to be a subscriber, you can get a significant discount if you are a member of the Pinellas Genealogy Society. Go the to members-only page to see what the discount is and how to get it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Learn About Vital Records at Wiki

The Wiki is a great resource for information on doing searches, the types of records available, etc. In fact, there is so much information available there, any description falls miserably short of indicating its true value to researchers. You have to get in and nose around.

One entry that is singularly helpful is one dealing with vital records (birth, marriage, death) for the various US states. Once you select your state of interest, you get a page telling you where the various records are kept and for what years. You also get direct links to appropriate databases (if you are a subscriber). If you are not, make note of the database title for your next trip to the public library. Also listed on the page are links to information pages for other records (such as probate, land, military, etc.) relative to that state.

Check it out at All about genealogy and family history - Category:U.S. Birth, Marriage, and Death Records - Wiki

Monday, December 5, 2011

Putting Flesh on the Bones

Susan Farrell Bankhead offers several tips and references to use in breathing some life into our ancestors; that is, going beyond the standard birth, marriage, death data that we usually hunt for.

It is always a challenge to do this if we don’t have written family diaries, memoirs, or histories from ancestors themselves, but with some guidance, such as Susan’s, and some work we can do it. It will require some general research and digging, but the rewards are worth the effort.

The article gives some great references, and after seeing the types of resources Susan offers, you can probably come up with some of your own after a little time in a library.

Check “Susan’s Genealogy Blog” at Not Just a Name and Date: Flesh on the Bones » Susan's Genealogy Blog

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New Version of Roots Magic Released

Roots Magic 5 is now available. The cost to a new user is $29.95 and an upgrade for a current user is $19.95.

You can read all about it at the Roots Magic website: .

You can also see a recorded webinar about its features at: .

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps

Randy Majors gives us a great map utility that allows us to see the historic location of modern day locations.

The site shows a large scale map and under the map are the directions for its use. Essentially all you need to do is fill in the search box with the name of a modern day place (city or county and state) and the date of interest to you. The map will then redraw showing that city and its location within the historic county appropriate for the time you specified. At the top of the map will appear a short description of the area that often gives information on the origin of the political boundaries.

Hats off to Randy for this one. Check it out at Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps - NEW beta

Friday, December 2, 2011

Manatee Genealogical Society Meeting, 6 December

The Manatee Genealogical Society will hold a meeting on December 6, 9:30 AM to noon at the Manatee County Central Library, 1301 Barcarrota Blvd. W., Bradenton, Florida.

The program will be “What’s In Your Attic? A Show and Tell About Your Family Treasures.” If you wish to actively participate, call Jean Morris at 941-722-5156 about your topic or item. The Computer Special Interest Group will discuss “Using Google Scholar for Genealogical Research.” Get all the details at

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Getting the Kids Involved in Genealogy

Getting our kids, or grandkids, involved in genealogy is an objective of many of us. It is a challenge, but one worth aspiring to.Janet Hovorka in her Blog “The Chart Chick” (gotta love that title, don’t you?) has posted an interesting article on her own approach to doing this.

Actually it is the first of what sounds like it may be a series of articles…we can only hope. It is great reading, and she makes the point that it is only a start, and not all the answers.

If you enjoy the article, bookmark the Blog address and visit frequently yourself. You can find Janet’s article at The Chart Chick: True confessions.