Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Were They Optimistic as They Rang in the New Year 100 Years Ago?

In an editorial cartoon appearing in the Washington Herald depicted the start of a new year with great optimism, displaying a Wright Brothers airplane labeled "1909" on the crown and "Hopes," "Successes," "Happiness," and "Peace" across the wings.

On the ground, a bearded old man wielding Time's scythe labeled "Disaster" and "Ruin" retreats into the distance in a open automobile labeled "1908." View the original image and read more about it at the Library of Congress' Chronicling America website.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Top Ten Genealogy Favorites for 2008

1. Favorite New Blog (New to me that is!)
George Geder: Genealogy – Photography – Restoration. George’s blog features captivating photos, and a keen use of technology. A fave post: Great Grandmother Harriet Geder Chillin’ George’s ancestor is chilling “tin-type style.”

2. Favorite Way to Spend 5 Minutes Having Fun Online
The Facebook News Feed, which serves up quick updates on all those genealogists out there on Facebook. Joining Facebook simply requires an email address and a password and a LOT of genealogists have gotten on board. You can visit me at Facebook and join the Genealogy Gems Podcast Fan Page.

Wanna learn more? Try the Facebook Bootcamp for Genea-bloggers Blog where contributing editors Miriam Robbing Midkiff, Thomas MacEntee, Moultrie Creek, footnoteMaven, Terry Thornton, and Kathryn Doyle answer your questions about how to use Facebook, and blogging in general.

3. Favorite Genealogy Conference
Hands down the Mesa AZ Family History Expo was my favorite genealogy conference that I attended in 2008. I did a marathon of video interviews for the new Family History Expos TV channel on YouTube.

I got to meet some online friends for the first time: Mark Tucker from ThinkGenealogy Blog, Listener Amy Urman who I interviewed several months ago for Genealogy Gems Premium Episode 3 about using private investigation techniques to find your living relatives, Bruce Buzbee from Rootsmagic (who’s about to launch a new version,) and Scott Huskey of Photoloom a new fave of mine that uses your family photos to visually represent your family tree. Holly Hansen and her crew at Family History Expos sure now how to put on a fun and informative shindig!

4. Favorite New Online Tool
I started using an online newsletter service called Constant Contact and I love it! Not only is it now super easy to email my listeners, but I can add color and photos and images. Sign up today to receive the new and improved Genealogy Gems Podcast e-Newsletter.

5. Favorite Online Gadget
Page2RSS which allows you to create an RSS feed for any website that doesn’t have an RSS feed. I featured Page2RSS in Premium Episode 6, teaching listeners how to monitor updates to any genealogy website in their favorite RSS reader or iGoogle homepage.

6. Favorite Controversial Posting
You gotta admit that Dick Eastman knows how to stir things up once and while. On May 22, 2008 he posted a blog article called I Have a Complaint Concerning Many Genealogists which he prefaced with “Warning: This article contains personal opinions”. Eastman not only shares his opinions with his readers, but also generated a ton of opinions from readers - a whopping 222 Comments were posted. Eastman wrote a follow up blog commenting on the hoopla on May 26, 2008 which generated another 52 comments. The topic that riled everyone up: Folks griping about having to pay for access to records online.

7. Favorite Family History Ebay Find
Photograph dated 1895 of the first automobile exhibition in England featuring Sir David Salomon sitting in his first “horseless carriage” along with Gottlieb Daimler, automotive pioneer. And standing next to the horseless carriage? Harry Cooke, my husband’s great grandfather who was Sir David Salomon’s “right hand man” and owner of Cooke’s Carriage and Motor Works in Tunbridge Wells, Kent!

8. Favorite Family History Song
The Family Tree by Venice
From Episode 38 published January 6, 2008

9. Favorite Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode
By the end of 2008 I had published a total of 65 podcast episodes so I’ve given some thought to which one is my favorite. I’d probably have to choose The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 39 featuring the segment called Heritage Quilts. This is my favorite personal story and I enjoyed sharing it. It also resulted in the largest number of listener emails, some very detailed about their own personal and heartfelt family experiences.

10. Favorite Unexpected & Somewhat Misunderstood Genealogy Blog Post
The Genealogy Insider’s April 1 blog post featuring a mock magazine cover just in time for April Fools. A few folks didn’t get it, but it made me do a double take and then roar with laughter!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

New Florida Census Collection Online

PROVO, Utah, Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- According to historical documents available as part of's new Florida State Census Collection, actress Faye Dunaway, famous for her performances in "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Mommie Dearest," was a four-year-old living with her parents and brother in Florida in 1945 and NASCAR co-founder William France, Sr., was already in the car business by 1935, listed as a mechanic living in Daytona. Now others with Florida roots can make discoveries about their own relatives., the world's largest online resource for family history, has digitized and indexed the 1867, 1875, 1935 and 1945 Florida state censuses, which contain more than 3.8 million names and 75,000 original images. This is the first time these censuses have been indexed, making the information easily available and searchable online.

Florida is one of only two U.S. states (South Dakota is the other) to have completed a census as recently as 1945, which means many Floridians can potentially find their parents -- or even themselves -- while searching the collection and building their family tree. Using powerful search tools, users can easily discover the name, address, place of birth, level of education and occupation of family members and others living in the same household, as well as locate and view digital images of the original census documents handwritten decades ago.

"With the addition of our new Florida State Census Collection, never-before-discovered family histories will be found at the click of a mouse," said Gary Gibb, vice president of U.S. content for "Censuses are one of the best resources for tracing your family history and is adding the 1945, 1935, 1875 and 1867 Florida state censuses to the largest and most complete census collections available on the Web."

Some famous Floridians found in the Florida State Census Collection include:

-- Faye Dunaway -- Four-year-old Faye Dunaway is found in the 1945 Florida census along with her younger brother, Mack, and their parents. According to the census, her father, John, was serving in the Army, while her mother was involved in "defense work."

-- Janet Reno -- This former U.S. Attorney General is found as a 6-year-old in the 1945 census living in Dade County with her father, Henry, who was working as a reporter.

-- Edith Ringling -- Edith Ringling, wife of Ringling Bros. circus founder Charles Ringling, is the only family member noted to be living at the Ringling Estate during the 1945 Florida census and her occupation is listed as circus proprietor.

-- William France, Sr. -- NASCAR co-founder William France, Sr., was already in the car business at 25 years old. The 1935 Florida census lists him as a mechanic in Daytona.

-- Abraham Lincoln Lewis -- Florida's first African-American billionaire and his wife are found in the 1945 Florida census, retired and living in Jacksonville, Florida. also offers a wide expanse of other Florida historical records, including the 1885 Florida State Census, a Florida Marriage Collection (1822-1875 and 1927-2001), the Florida Death Index (1877-1998), Florida Passenger Lists (1898-1951) and Florida Land Records.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

FamilySearch Adds 15million + Records to Record Search Pilot

FamilySearch added over 15 million new indexed records to its Record Search pilot—all from the 1850 and 1870 U.S. Censuses. The records are linked to the digital images of the originals. The new records can be searched for free at (Click Search Records, then Record Search pilot).

1870 Census:
Added 7 new indexed states (KY, MN, MO, NY, TN, VA, and WV)

1850 census:
Population: Added 3 new indexed states (AL, IN, and MO)
Slavery: Added 3 new indexed states (AL, MO, and SC)
Mortality: Added 3 new indexed states (AL, IN, and LA)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Records Previously Only Viewable on Microfilm Just Released by UK National Archives

News from the UK National Archives:

"More than 600,000 records of births, baptisms, marriages and burials have been added to the searchable online service at BMDRegisters. These records were previously only viewable on microfilm as the RG 8 series.

Among the extensive collections you can find:

Maternity records from the British Lying-in Hospital, Holborn, 1749-1868

Registers of burials in the Victoria Park Cemetery, Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, Bethnal Green Protestant Dissenters Burying Ground and many more

The archive of the Russian Orthodox Church in London, 1721-1927: these records include births, marriages, deaths and conversions, as well as comprehensive general records on the day-to-day running of the church."

If this information was helpful to I hope you'll share it with your friends and genealogy society. Society Newsletters are welcome to reprint Genealogy Gems News Blog articles with the attribution "by Lisa L. Cooke, The Genealogy Gems New Blog at"

Recommended Collection: New York Public Library Now on Flickr

I LOVE a good photo! And today the New York Public Library has just added a LOT of good photos ("good" being a major understatement) to

NYPL dips it's toes into the Flickr Commons today by posting 1,300 items from various areas of its diverse photographic collections.

From the NYPL: "Consider this a sort of appetizer course, a sampler of collections accessible in greater breadth and depth on the NYPL Digital Gallery, and on-site in our network of libraries. Lush images of modern dance pioneers; haunting early cyanotypes of algae (the first photographic works to be produced by a woman); majestic geographical surveys taken along the Union Pacific Railroad, iconic Depression-era images taken under the Farm Security Administration's famed photography program; Berenice Abbott's epic documentation of 1930s New York for the Federal Art Project; stunning 19th century vistas of the Egypt and Syria; scenes and portraits of Ellis Island Immigrants, the Statue of Liberty under construction... These and more are now available to view, tag and discuss in the Flickr Commons, and are offered as an invitation to explore further on the NYPL's own website or in our physical libraries. After this initial road test, we expect to post many more images into the Commons pool."

Since we have an ancestor in our family who directed orchestras for the silent movies, my current fave NYPL collection is "Production Photographs from the Early Cinema." featuring amazingly clear shots of the faces that Grandpa Cooke set to music.

Listen to Family History: Genealogy Made Easy to learn how to uncover your family history. Subscribe to the free weekly podcast in iTunes or listen from the website.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ellis Island Special Discount Starts Today

I just got word from The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation that starting today they are offering a very special promotion: 25% off the cost of any of their heritage documents: passenger record, ship passenger manifest or ship picture. I can't think of any gifts that you could give those hard to buy for relatives that would be more unique or meaningful.

Once you locate the documents you want, you could then present them in the Elegant Heritage Document Holder. (Photo left)

Another unique gift option: The Annual Holiday Ornament called Liberty 2008: Arrival. This year's ornament is beautiful, made from copper from Lady Liberty's Centennial Restoration. And it will be the last to plated with the historic copper.

If you're the last-minute kind of shopper, you've waited for just the right time: A Meaningful, Affordable Gift that will be in your family's possession for generations. And you will have the pleasure of knowing that you will be supporting The Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

New Podcast Episode Ready For Listening

Have you been wanting to get a subscription to one of the major genealogy records sites, but just not been sure about taking the plunge? Then tune in to Episode 7 of the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast.

We start of with a great conversation with genealogist and author Lisa A. Alzo who shares her inspiring story.

Then we jump in to the world of paid subscription websites, cutting through the murky waters and focusing in on how to decide what you really need.

We finish up with my 3 Top Tips for Utilizing Subscription Websites.
Listen to Episode 7

Family History: Genealogy Made Easy is you guide through the genealogical process:

Episode 1: Get Inspired! Get Started!
Guest: Margery Bell, Asst. Director, Family History Center

Episode 2: What Your Relatives Can Tell You
Guest: Cath Madden Trindle, Certified Genealogist, FGS Board Member

Episode 3: What Do We Work Backwards? And Our First Online Record
Guest: Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Genealogy Blogger and Instructor

Episode 4: Tracking Down Death Records
Guest: Dick Eastman, Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Episode 5: Scouring Your Home For Clues
Guest: David Fryxell, Author & Publisher

Episode 6: An Overview of Genealogy Records
Guest: Barry Ewell, Genealogist & Lecturer

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Friday, December 12, 2008

183,698 more newspaper pages now online!

On Dec. 11, the National Digital Newspaper Program added 183,698 historic newspaper pages (including 14 new titles) to the Chronicling America Web site, hosted by the Library of Congress.

The site now provides free and open access to 864,509 pages from 108 titles, that were published in 9 states (CA, FL, KY, MN, NE, NY, TX, UT, VA) and the District of Columbia between 1880 and 1910.

Six additional states--Arizona, Hawaii, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington--will be contributing content in 2009.

Chronicling America is a project of the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress....Read more about it at the website!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Spread a Bit of Vintage Christmas Cheer

Looking for a fun way to send holiday cheer online?

Head to the United Kingdom's National Archives Send An e-Card web page.

There you can pick from a variety of vintage Christmas postcards (and even one for New Years from 1879) that you can personalize and send to your friends.

I mean, where else could you find Santa delivering pints along with presents!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Curt Witcher of The Allen County Library Talks Census Records on Episode 55

Genealogy Gems Episode 55 is Now Available:

I got a chance to talk with Curt Witcher, Manager of The Allen County Library, The Genealogy Center while attending the Federation of Genealogy Societies Conference in Philadelphia, PA this last Sept. 2008. Curt comes on the show to talk about the wide range of census records that many genealogists are missing.

Also in this episode I share with you some terrific new Google gadgets specifically created for genealogists!

And finally we play another round of Name That Tune!

You can listen directly from the Genealogy Gems web site. Or better yet, subscribe for free to the show in iTunes.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database Debuts at Emory

'Voyages' sheds light on hidden history of 12.5 million slaves

ATLANTA, GA - Emory University - Dec. 5, 2008:
Visiting professor Jelmer Vos and geospatial consultant Stacey Martin use the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database to see a geographic display of the African regions and ports of the slave trade.A group of international scholars will gather at Emory Dec. 5-6 to celebrate the debut of "Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database" as it begins its own maiden expedition.

Two years in the making at Emory, the free and interactive Web-based resource documents the slave trade from Africa to the New World between the 16th and 19th centuries, says David Eltis, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of History and one of the scholars who originally published "The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade" as a CD-ROM in 1999. He and Martin Halbert, director of digital innovations for Emory Libraries, directed the work that made the online "Voyages" project expandable, interactive and publicly accessible.

"'Voyages' provides searchable information on almost 35,000 trans-Atlantic voyages hauling human cargo, as well as maps, images and data on some individual Africans transported," says Eltis.

The conference, which also marks the bicentennial of the end of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1808, will feature presentations by Eltis' graduate students who have worked on the database, with leading scholars commenting on their papers. Other sessions include "The Slave Trade, the Web site and Atlantic History" and "The Slave Trade, the Website and the Classroom."

David Brion Davis, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus and founding director emeritus of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University, will give a keynote lecture on "Camparing the Paths to American and British Slave-Trade Abolition." Following Davis' talk will be the formal launch of the "Voyages" database by Rick Luce, director of University Libraries.

Database Establishes Links Between America, Africa

Funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, "Voyages" is based on the seminal 1999 work, "The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade." That CD-ROM included more than 27,000 slave trade voyages and has been popular with scholars and genealogists alike. However, it is no longer available and had several limitations.

"Everyone wants to know where their ancestors came from," Eltis says. "There are more data on the slave trade than on the free migrant movement simply because the slave trade was a business and people were property, so records were likely to be better. What the database makes possible is the establishment of links between America and Africa in a way that already has been done by historians for Europeans."

Adds Halbert: "The digital and Web-based Voyages publication is intentionally collaborative and can grow and change over time. Scholars who discover new information can add it to the database, and thus share it with their colleagues. In addition, researchers can download the database in a format compatible with the SPSS statistical package."

Slave Trade Database in the Classroom

Halbert, Eltis and their team also collaborated with educators from public and private middle and high schools to create lessons plans and other materials, so that K-12 teachers can take "Voyages" into their classrooms. These and other resources on the site, such as images, introductory maps and essays, help visitors appreciate the reality of the slave trade, says project manager Liz Milewicz.

Henry Louis Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and writer/producer of the PBS documentary "African American Lives," credits "Voyages" with shedding an important light on the hidden history of 12.5 million slaves.

"The greatest mystery in the history of the West, I believe, has always been the Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the New World," he said. "Their ancestries, their identities, their stories were lost in the ships that carried them across the Atlantic. The multi-decade and collaborative project that brought us [the Voyages] site has done more to reverse the Middle Passage than any other single act of scholarship possibly could."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Records for Illinois & Ohio, as well as GA, KS, NC & TX

FamilySearch has added four new indexed states GA, KS, NC, and TX)to their 1870 Census.

Nearly 575,00 ILlinois Cook County Marriage records have been added. This datab ase currently includes years from 1900 to 1920.

For Ohio FamilySearch has added the Diocese of Toledo, Catholic Parish Records 1796 to 2004 which includes 101,982 searchable digital images. Also, Ohio Tax Records 1816 to 1838 including records from Columbiana, Guernsey, Harrison, and Jefferson Counties.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Those Genealogy Gals Are At It Again!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

A little vintage Christmas Cheer this time starring:

Lisa Cooke of The Genealogy Gems Podcast, Family Tree Magazine's Allison Stacy & Diane Haddad, genealogy podcaster DearMYRTLE and genealogy blogger Miriam Robbins Midkiff

Monday, December 1, 2008

Excellence in Genealogy Awards Available from the National Archives

Two awards to be granted for articles based on National Archives records

From the National Archives: In celebration of its 75th anniversary, the National Archives announces two awards to recognize significant achievements in genealogy research, based on records from the National Archives.

The National Archives is known worldwide as a treasure chest of genealogical information. Each year, millions of people use Federal records in the National Archives to search for their family roots. Census schedules, ship passenger arrival lists, citizenship papers, military pension files, land patents, and court records offer detailed evidence to flesh out family histories. This competition provides an opportunity for students to share their research "treasures" with the public.

The awards are $1,000 for first place; $500 for second place. Winning articles may be published in Prologue, the quarterly magazine of the National Archives, and/or on the National Archives web site.

To be eligible, an applicant must be either an undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in an accredited institution of higher learning; have completed at least one semester; and have not yet advanced to candidacy, if in a Ph.D. program. An applicant does not have to be an American citizen, but must be attending an American college or university. Permanent National Archives employees are not eligible.

Awards will be announced at the National Archives annual Genealogy Fair on April 22, 2009.

Applicants are required to submit:
1. Cover sheet that includes the following:
o Name and contact information
o Proof of enrollment at an accredited academic institution
o Signature giving permission for the article to be published.

2. An original, unpublished work between 1,000 and 3,000 words that demonstrates the use of National Archives holdings to conduct genealogical research. The essay must be typed and include a works-cited page or bibliography. End notes are suggested but not required.

Submit applications to:
Diane DimkoffDirector, Customer Services Division
Room G-13700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408

Essays may be submitted in-person or via e-mail before 5:00 p.m. EST March 1, 2009 or via regular mail (postmarked by February 25, 2009).