Thursday, June 30, 2011

Redlands Family History Center Newsletter June 2011

Millions of Civil War Records Now Available on FamilySearch Website
SALT LAKE CITY | 11 May 2011 | As the United States marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, history buffs and people who had ancestors involved in the conflict can access millions of records recently published on the website. And millions more records are coming, as volunteers enlist in an online campaign over the next five years to provide access to the highly desirable historic documents. FULL STORY
To help index Civil War records go to

FamilySearch Adds South Carolina Genealogy Resources
FamilySearch has announced new South Carolina genealogy resources to mark the National Genealogical Society Family History Conference, going on now in Charleston, SC:
South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers, 1732-1964 have been added to the FamilySearch record site (this collection hasn’t been indexed, so you’ll need to browse the record images).
South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977, also have been added (also browse-only).
A South Carolina section is now in the FamilySearch Research Wiki.
Probate records can be helpful in researching African-American ancestors, because probate files of slave owners often contain inventories of their slaves.

U.S. Social Security Death Index on
The U.S. Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is now on The data is current as of October 2010. The most current updates will be available soon.
To search it, you can either search all historical records, and matching records from the index will be included in your search results. You can also search only the Social Security Death Index.
To search the Social Security Death Index without having to return to the blog for the link, follow these steps:
~”What’s New” at FamilySearch

FamilySearch as an Archive
The technical infrastructure necessary to provide access to FamilySearch’s digitized records is immense. FamilySearch is digitizing, providing access, and preserving the world’s genealogical records, said Ed Donakey in a session at the NGS Conference last Thursday. Donakey is strategic relations manager for FamilySearch.

Donakey briefly touched on one item, maintaining the Internet connection of the website’s four datacenters. FamilySearch uses redundant connections so that the website can continue to function even if an Internet connection fails. An East coast datacenter has six Internet connections. In case a particular Internet provider should fail, the six connections are distributed among several Internet providers, including Qwest, Sprint, and XO. If all six connections failed, website operations would transfer to a Utah datacenter. It is connected with three lines to the Internet. Even if eight lines failed, would still have full speed access, said Donakey.

“Digital preservation is imperative for us,” Donakey said. Preserving digital records has many unique problems not suffered by microfilm preservation. The ways in which you can lose digital records is hellacious. (That’s my word, not Donakey’s… We’ll, actually, it’s not my word either. But I digress…) Failures include media failure, hardware failure, software failure, communication error, network error, hardware obsolescence, software obsolescence, operator error, natural disaster, and economic failure.

The solutions are not targeted to archivists only. “FamilySearch wants to provide the tools, technology, and infrastructure for local, national, and international archives and end users to preserve their key data,” said Donakey. “We’re doing everything we can to preserve these records for our posterity.”
~Ancestry Insider

An Easy Way to Add Maps to a Genealogy Project
Would you like to include U.S. maps in your family history projects, but can't find what you want? The National Atlas is a map-making platform sponsored by the Federal Government that lets you build your own maps. You can create maps that capture and depict patterns, conditions, and trends of American life. You can use the National Atlas templates to create maps that cover all of the United States or just your area of interest. In the National Atlas Map Maker you can assemble, view, and print your own maps.
~Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter as reported in "Generations", Washington DC Family History Center Newsletter.

Get to Those Stones Now!
Are there any pre-1900 tombstones you have not transcribed, photographed, etc.? Look through your records, your database, etc. Put getting the transcription from the stone on your priority list. Old stones do not last forever and the information may literally fade away before you get to it. And be careful relying totally on published transcriptions. Sometimes in an attempt to be helpful, people added information to the "transcription" that really was not on the stone.
~Michael John Neill,,

Naturalization Papers Finding Aid
US Naturalization records can be very helpful when doing genealogy research, but can frequently be very difficult to find. Naturalizations before 1906 could be done in any just about any court in the country, and were not standardized. After 1906 the federal government took over the Naturalization process and all forms became standardized nationwide. The locations of all Naturalization files post-1906 are generally in set locations based on where the person naturalized.
Some files will generally only be found if you do a search through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services which holds the entire C-File (certificate file) for naturalized citizens (records from 1906 onwards). Ordering a search online is time-consuming process and expensive.
To access Naturalization records without going through such a long and expensive process, Mr. Trauring has created a chart of NARA's naturalization paper files which shows all the states, cities and date ranges. His blog entry and finding aid are found at: Naturalization Table
~Generations, Washington DC Family History Center Newsletter, May 2011, taken from "Naturalization Papers Finding Aid", by Philip Trauring, bloodandfrogs blog

Black Loyalist Web Site
Black Loyalist is a repository of historical data about the African American loyalist refugees who left New York between April and November 1783 and whose names are recorded in the Book of Negroes. In this first stage, the site concentrates on providing biographical and demographic information for the largest cohort, about 1000 people from Norfolk, Virginia, and surrounding counties.

Working on the principal that enslaved African Americans were not just a faceless, nameless, undifferentiated mass, but individuals with complex life experiences, this site seeks to provide as much biographical data as can be found for the individual people who ran away to join the British during the American Revolution and were evacuated as free people in 1783.

The project emerged from the research of Cassandra Pybus for her book Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty. The web site was created by Cassandra Pybus, Kit Candlin and Robin Petterd and funded as a pilot project in 2009 by the Australian Research Council.
The Black Loyalist Web Site is available at
Irfanview is one program that can be used with graphics, saving images to your computer and then opening them up to crop as you want and make copies. It downloads for free at and is on the computers at the Family History Library in SLC and on our computers at Redlands FHC (The desktop icon is a squashed red cat with a black mask.) Staff members can help you capture images at the center to save on your flash drive or print.

Once an image is saved in a file and Irfanview is on your computer:
Click on Irfanview - then the word 'File' - then open - then go to where you have the image saved and click on that - then click on the image - then put your cursor in the upper left corner, left click, hold and drag diagonally to the bottom right corner, which creates a box. You can trim the edges this way, or select just portions of the image you want either printed or saved (you can move any of the lines in or out, if you hover your cursor over the line, and when it becomes a double arrow do a left click, hold and drag in or out - then go to 'file' again and choose either 'save as' or 'print'. When you print, you have the option of making a header or footer to label the document image you will be printing. ~Family History Expos Newsletter

Bits and Pieces
Question: Where can I get blank Family Group Record forms?
FamilySearch Wiki - Search for "Family Group Record", select "Use Appropriate Forms". Under Family Group Record, click the blue "Family group records" link.
PAF - File > Reports & Charts > Family Group tab > Blank Form
RootsMagic - File > Print Reports > Reports > Blank Reports > Family group sheet
Legacy - Reports > Report Menu (charts) > Family tab > Blank Report
Ancestral Quest - File > Print Reports & Charts > Family Group tab > Blank Form
~Logan FHC Newsletter

Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces contains free photos of faces and places in history. Over 50,000 vintage photos. Search by surname or topic. You can also share your ancestral photos and help build the site for others.

Don't Neglect the Online Trees, WorldConnect, FamilySearch and a variety of other sites have user submitted family trees. Virtually all of them contain errors. Some of them contain many errors. But don't ignore them completely. Sometimes even a very careless researcher stumbles upon something that we have overlooked. Don't take anything in the online trees without documenting it elsewhere, but consider the fact that one of them may have the clue that you need.
~Michael Neill, Genealogy Tip of the Day

Label Your Flash drive
Please label your flash drives if you are going to bring them to the Center or anywhere else you may go. They are so easy to leave in the computers. If we knew who they belonged to, we could call and let you know. One suggestion is to use a small mailing label. Another is to rename the actual drive. (Right-click the drive and select rename.)
~Logan FHC Newsletter

Check Out the Sponsors
If your immigrant ancestor was a member of a denomination that practiced infant baptism and you have not determined who the sponsors were for all of his or her children, you could be missing out. There's a good chance that sponsors were somehow related to the parents and if the parents cannot be traced across the pond, perhaps the sponsors can.
~Michael John Neill, Tip of the Day

Free Online File Converter
Bookmark this site. It converts files from hundreds of formats to any of hundreds of other formats. Want to convert a DOC file to a PDF file? Online-Convert will do that. Want to convert an audio MP3 file to WAV format? Online-Convert will do that. The site has many, many other formats available as well.
If you can’t find the conversion you need, you can contact the site owners and they will try to help you. Best of all, the service is available free of charge.
You can find it at
Continue reading "Free Online File Converter" »
~Posted by Dick Eastman on May 16, 2011

War of 1812 -Preserve the Pensions
The Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Archives, and the genealogical community have started a project to digitize the War of 1812 pension files—a fitting beginning to the bicentennial commemoration of this important war. These images will be available for free.
Contributions to this project have already made these files available.
This initiative seeks to raise $3.7 million. Preserve the Pensions! seeks to raise the bulk of the funds before the bicentennial of the start of the war and finish digitization before the bicentennial of the war's end in 2015. With 7.2 million images in 180,000 files, there is much digitization to do.
~Ancestry Insider

You'll Send Us to the Poor Farm!: Resources for Researching Poor Farms
by Gena Philibert Ortega
I thought I would provide some resources that might help you learn more about poor farms and what it was like for ancestors who were living there.
The first source you should check when researching poor farms is the website for The Poorhouse Lady, aka Linda Crannell at Driven by the knowledge that her grandmother spent her early years in a poorhouse, Linda has developed a comprehensive site devoted to the history of poorhouses and references to poorhouses in various states. On her site you can read about laws governing poorhouses, read about poorhouses in your state, and peruse the bibliography she has put together on the issue of poverty. MORE
~GenealogyWise Newsletter

Google’s Picasa Tip by Gena Philibert Ortega
Google's Picasa software, available for the PC, and the Mac, is a free photo editing software program that allows users to organize, correct and edit photos. It can be difficult to keep information with documents and photos but one genealogist told me that he uses Picasa's text option to add source citations to digital images of documents. He takes his digital camera to libraries, archives and the Family History Center and uses his camera to take photos of the documents and microfilm images. He then uploads them to his computer and uses Picasa to add source citations. You can learn more about Picasa's features by clicking on the link "Watch a video introduction" located on the homepage.
This is a great way to organize your research. Not only can you add it to folders on your computer. (I have surname folders and then folders in those surname folders for the couples or individuals I am researching) but you can also keep track of what that document is by adding a source citation right onto the digital image.
~GenealogyWise Newsletter

This Table at This Moment: A Providential Encounter
By Carol Kostakos Petranek, one of the Directors of the Washington DC Family History Center and a Volunteer at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
April 20 was a beautiful, sunny day and the public was streaming into the tents erected in front of the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. NARA’s annual Genealogy Fair was well underway, and this was the fourth year that I organized exhibits for both our Washington, DC Family History Center and

Our laptops were humming with wireless internet, and was yielding an amazing number of “hits” as we searched for ancestors of the various people who stopped by our booth. As the hours elapsed, our volunteers talked themselves hoarse. Over 3,000 people came to the fair on that first day, and we talked with hundreds who were seeking to learn more about the Church’s most popular website.

Ron Able and Terry Willard, from the Washington DC Family History Center, assist patrons

The volunteers at our booths didn’t have a specific strategy for approaching or helping patrons; whoever was available would assist an individual. And that is what made my encounter with Michelle especially providential.

It was lunchtime, and people were standing two and three deep at our booth. After helping one patron, I impulsively left the back of our table and walked into the crowd, offering to answer questions or assist with a computer lookup. It was at that moment that a lovely African-American woman caught my eye and approached me. Her name was Michelle, and she had just started researching her family six weeks ago. She related, with great animation, that she was amazed at the amount of information she was finding online. “I’m descended from one of the first African-Americans who went west on the wagon train with Brigham Young,” she said excitedly. Stunned, I asked if she knew the name of that ancestor. “Green Flake,” she replied.

As she hurriedly sketched a 6-generation pedigree chart linking herself to this pioneer, I knew that our conversation was not happenstance. For six years, I had been the Chairperson of the Black History Month commemorations held at the Washington Temple Visitors’ Center. Among the many people who had participated in those events were Darius Gray and Margaret Young, historians who had delved deeply into the records and written extensively about the first black families to settle in Utah (see interview). Foremost among these pioneers was Green Flake, a former slave and convert to the LDS Church who rode in the first wagon to enter Emigration Canyon on July 21, 1847.

“I can connect you with the historians who have researched this family extensively,” I said emotionally. “They have photographs and a complete family history about Green Flake and his descendants. They have written books, a play and numerous articles. They can tell you everything about him. ” Her eyes widened as she threw her arms around me. “What are the chances,” I asked, “that you would come to this very table at this very moment and just happen to talk to me rather than anyone else at our booth?”

We stared at each other, speechless. And then she hugged me again.
~Thank you Marcia Green