Genealogy Research

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8 Tips to Discover Your Irish Ancestors

Posted March 17, 2015 by Amanda | 2 Comments

Are you searching for your Irish ancestors? With millions of vital historical records destroyed and droves of Irish immigrants settled all over the world, many people researching their Irish heritage may find it to be a frustrating and challenging pursuit. In the U.S. alone, there are over 36 million people with Irish ancestry. That’s over eight times the population of Ireland! Here are a few tips to help you with your Irish genealogy research: Talk to your relatives - The… Read the full story

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7 Things You May Not Know About Winston Churchill

Posted January 24, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death. Considered one of the greatest leaders in history, Churchill was a master orator and statesman. In honor of this momentous anniversary, here are some things you may not have known about Winston Churchill: 1. He comes from an aristocratic family Churchill was born into the aristocratic family of the Dukes of Marlborough, a branch of the Spencer family. His 6th great grandfather was John Churchill, the… Read the full story

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The Boston Molasses Disaster

Posted January 15, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment

Ninety-six years ago today, one of the strangest disasters in history occurred in Boston, Massachusetts. On January 15, 1919, 2.3 million gallons of molasses poured down the streets of Boston, killing 21 people. The Boston Post, January 16, 1919 The tragedy became known as the Boston Molasses Disaster. The disaster occurred at the Purity Distilling Company facility in the North End neighborhood of Boston. During this time, molasses was the standard sweetener in the country. It… Read the full story

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Genealogy Research: Tips to Stay Organized

Posted January 14, 2015 by Amanda | 2 Comments

We’ve all been there – surrounded by a mountain of paper work as we’re trying to break through that brick wall or uncover that elusive ancestor. A snippet of a newspaper or an old photograph can easily get lost amongst the clutter. How can you avoid getting lost in the mess of research? Check out these tips to stay organized and help you keep track of your family history research. Do it as you go The best way to stay… Read the full story

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Surnames: The Meaning Behind the Name

Posted January 8, 2015 by Amanda | 3 Comments

What’s behind a name? Typically, surnames are passed down through many generations, creating a web of connected family members. The use of surnames is common in most countries around the world, but did you know they didn’t always exist? During the 13th and 14th centuries in Britain, hereditary surnames were adopted, first amongst the aristocracy and then eventually everyone. These early surnames were often derived from patronymics, places, personal characteristics and occupations. Because of this, surnames can give… Read the full story

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Thanksgiving: Tips for the Holiday

Posted November 25, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
Happy Thanksgiving feature

This Thursday, everyone across the United States will be celebrating Thanksgiving. One of the busiest holidays for travel, people from all over return home to celebrate the holiday with their loved ones. While feasting on your Thanksgiving meal this year, take this opportunity to involve your relatives in your family history research. And perhaps create even more lasting family memories! Here are some tips for working family history into your celebrations this year: Before the big day, ask… Read the full story

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60 Years Ago, Ellis Island Closed Its Doors

Posted November 12, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Do you have any ancestors who came through Ellis Island? 60 years ago today, Ellis Island closed its doors after welcoming 12 million immigrants to America. Located in Upper New York Bay, Ellis Island served as the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States from 1892 – 1954. On January 1, 1892, a 17-year-old Irish girl named Annie Moore became the first immigrant to set foot through the famous immigration center. She was traveling… Read the full story

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Genealogy: Unusual Deaths

Posted November 7, 2014 by Amanda | 2 Comments

Any genealogy researcher will tell you that death certificates and obituaries hold a great deal of valuable information for your family tree. These often contain the name of the deceased, place of residence, place of death, the names of family members and cause of death. It’s always fascinating when you stumble upon an unusual cause of death. Here’s a clipping from The Ocala Evening Star dated April 3, 1908. A woman, Mrs. Anna Ferrer of New York, laughed herself to death while attending… Read the full story

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Unusual Terms for Your Family Tree

Posted October 10, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

In many languages, what we call our family members is dependent on age and gender and can get pretty complicated to the non-native speaker. In comparison, the English words we use can seem pretty straightforward. Typically, English uses mom and dad, brother and sister, aunt and uncle, grandma and grandpa, etc. And words such as ‘cousin’ are used generally and can refer to a male or female cousin from your maternal or paternal line. Seems pretty easy right? But… Read the full story

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Genealogy Research: Mugshots

Posted October 1, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
mugshot (1)

Do you have any black sheep in your family tree? If your ancestor has an arrest under their belt, police reports may exist that will give you very interesting insights into your relative’s history. Not to mention that a mugshot would be a unique addition to your genealogy record collection! The mugshot was invented by Alphonse Bertillon, a French police officer and biometrics researcher. He applied the anthropological technique of anthropometry to law enforcement, creating an identification… Read the full story

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Patents: George Eastman and the Roll Film Camera

Posted September 4, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Do you remember the days when cameras used film rolls? Today most of us take photos digitally, either with our phones, tablets or a digital camera and it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always so easy to snap a picture. Nearly fifty years after the world was first introduced to the daguerrotype, American inventor and entrepreneur George Eastman sought to find a way to make photography less cumbersome and easier for the average person… Read the full story

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Remembering a Hollywood Legend

Posted August 13, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
Bacall, Lauren

Yesterday, Hollywood lost yet another iconic figure, actress Lauren Bacall, who passed away at the age of 89. The husky-voiced actress was considered one of the greatest actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924 in the Bronx, New York. She was the only child of Natalie Weinstein-Bacal, who later legally changed her surname to Bacall, and William Perske. Both of her parents were Jewish. Her mother emigrated… Read the full story

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The Badge of Military Merit

Posted August 7, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

As we learn more about our family history, some of us may have the fortune to discover the military records of our ancestors. One of the oldest military awards still given to members of the U.S. military is the Purple Heart. Did you know that the Purple Heart was originally known as the Badge of Military Merit? On August 7, 1782, George Washington, then commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, ordered the creation of the Badge of… Read the full story

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The First U.S. Census

Posted August 1, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Have you found ancestors in the United States census? Census records are one of the most important resources in genealogy. With the information provided in these records, finding a relative in the census will often open doors to additional discoveries. The very first U.S. census was conducted on August 2, 1790. Every household was visited by a census taker to record information each person who was within the household on the census day. In the… Read the full story

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Genealogy Research: Obituaries

Posted July 31, 2014 by Amanda | One Comment

While researching your genealogy, you will come across lots of records that will help you solve the puzzle of your family history. One of the best resources for family history information are obituaries. Obituaries can contain a wide range of information for the deceased, including: First and last name Maiden name Birth and death dates Cause of death Names of family members Birth and death location Place of burial Religious affiliation In many cases, obituaries… Read the full story

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Video: Your Family Tree Explained

Posted July 9, 2014 by Amanda | One Comment
Your Family Tree Explained — CGP Grey

One of the best things about Geni’s World Family Tree is the ability to discover how we’re all related to each other and to historical figures and celebrities. While you are finding these new connections, you may see relationships such as “second cousin once removed” or “sixth cousin twice removed.” With all the talk about “cousins” and “removes,” do you ever wonder, “What exactly does this mean?” This short video created by CGP Grey gives… Read the full story

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A Look Back: V-E Day

Posted May 8, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Do you have World War II veterans in your family tree? On May 8, 1945, the Allied nations celebrated Victory in Europe Day. Millions throughout Western Europe took to the streets to celebrate the unconditional surrender of the Nazis, which effectively marked the end of World War II in Europe. Check out some interesting facts about V-E Day: The official act of military surrender was signed on May 7, 1945 After the suicide of Adolf… Read the full story

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Harry Houdini Registers for the Draft

Posted April 29, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
Houdini Showing How To Escape Handcuffs

Have you come across a World War I draft registration card in your genealogy research? These draft cards can hold a wealth of genealogical information. In 1917, the United States passed the Selective Service Act, which allowed the government to raise a national army through a nationwide draft. From 1917 – 1918, every male between the ages of 18 – 45 living in the United States were required to sign up for the draft, regardless… Read the full story

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Tax Records in Genealogy

Posted April 15, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin While we all dread doing our taxes year after year, there’s at least one good thing about them – when it comes to genealogy, tax records can hold a variety of information about our relatives. If there’s one record you can rely on for consistency, it’s the annual tax records that are diligently recorded and kept. These records… Read the full story

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Using Historic Maps for Your Genealogy

Posted April 4, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Do you know where your ancestors once lived? Over time, the names of streets and cities change and borders shift. Landscapes and towns continue to develop and before you know it, what was once a family farm or local schoolhouse, is a parking lot today. When researching our genealogy, it’s important not to overlook the value of historic maps, which can provide a vast number of clues and new leads for you to investigate. Bronx, New… Read the full story

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7 Tips for Interviewing Relatives

Posted March 27, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

As we conduct our genealogy research, it’s important not to neglect one of the most invaluable resources we have at our disposal: our relatives! Sharing family history and memories through the intimate knowledge of your family members is a great way to learn about earlier generations of your family. It’s important not to wait too long to connect with your relatives, distant and close members. Once a relative passes away, their memories and stories are lost… Read the full story

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5 Jobs Our Ancestors Had That Are No Longer Around

Posted March 20, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

It’s no surprise when we’re researching our genealogy that we come across an occupation that has disappeared from the current job market. As technology advances over time, occupations that were once commonplace get rarer and rarer, until it eventually becomes obsolete. Check out this list of some unusual occupations that our ancestors once labored in that we no longer see today. Knocker-ups Before the invention of the alarm clock, a knocker-up was a profession in… Read the full story

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Family Heirlooms

Posted February 13, 2014 by Amanda | One Comment

What’s your favorite aspect of genealogy? For many, one of the best parts is getting to learn the stories behind the items family members leave behind. Reaching far beyond what a census record or land deed can tell us about our ancestors, family heirlooms gives us a more personal connection to who are ancestors were as individuals. Chances are your family has accumulated many family heirlooms throughout the years. These are a great place to… Read the full story

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Where to Find What Your Ancestors Looked Like

Posted January 16, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

If you’re lucky enough to have old photographs of your ancestors in your possession, then you already have a unique peak into the past. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case when researching your family history. Never fear – there are plenty of other ways you can find out what your ancestors may have looked like. Let’s examine a few places you can find a photo or description of how your ancestors may have looked. Naturalization… Read the full story

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Discover Your Family History in Postcards

Posted January 3, 2014 by Amanda | One Comment

Many people send postcards to loved ones while on a family vacation, traveling or just to say “hello.” Today, we often send short messages to each other digitally through text messages or emails. While new technologies have made communication virtually instantaneous, the custom of sending a handwritten messages is becoming a lost art. There’s nothing quite like discovering an old postcard from your relatives written in their own hand. A postcard not only provides you with… Read the full story

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The End of Prohibition

Posted December 5, 2013 by Amanda | No Comment
Evil spirits be gone! Prohibition shut down St. Louis Breweries but didn't stop the flow of alcohol

Eighty years ago today, Prohibition ended in the United States, lifting the national ban of alcohol throughout the nation. Between 1920 – 1933, the production, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages was prohibited across the country. Although the motivation to pass the 18th Amendment to the U.S. constitution was to curb the adverse effects of drinking on society, the Prohibition had the unintended consequence of stimulating a rampant underground of organized and widespread criminal activity. The… Read the full story

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Death Certificate of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Posted November 15, 2013 by Amanda | No Comment

One of the most important records in genealogy is an individual’s death certificate. Bursting with vital information, death certificates can be that key document to unlocking your family’s long standing mysteries and brick walls. Let’s discover what information can be found in death certificate by taking a close look at the death certificate of Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Laura Ingalls Wilder Laura Ingalls Wilder was born February 7, 1867 in… Read the full story

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Guess Who Signed Clark Gable’s Military Discharge Papers?

Posted November 7, 2013 by Amanda | One Comment

Soon the United States will be celebrating Veterans Day in honor of the men and women who provided their services in the armed forces. Do you have veterans in your family? Military records are an excellent source of genealogical information. Let’s discover at what loads of information discharge papers can offer by taking a closer look at the report of separation for Gone With the Wind star Clark Gable and spot an interesting piece of trivia. During World… Read the full story

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A Little Fresh Air – An Odd Invention of the Early 20th Century

Posted September 12, 2013 by Amanda | One Comment

There have been a great many products invented over the years and if you have any imaginative inventors in your family, you may have come across some of their patents during your family history research, some successful, some maybe not so successful. Generally speaking, new inventions intend to provide improvements or benefits to a person’s life. During the early 20th century, people began to move in larger numbers into the cities. Attracted by the promise… Read the full story

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The Homestead Acts

Posted August 22, 2013 by Amanda | One Comment

While researching your family history, it is not uncommon to find your ancestors moving from place to place. As genealogists, it is important to know what historical events may have occurred to better understand the factors that may be behind a family’s decision to move afar. During the late nineteenth century, the United States government passed a series of laws that gave an applicant ownership of land at little or no cost. Known as the Homestead… Read the full story

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Interviewing Your Relatives

Posted July 16, 2013 by Hiromimarie | 2 Comments

Are you starting your family tree on Geni, but you don’t know a lot about your family history? Whether your goal is to simply create a small tree, or find a way to connect to the World Family Tree, one of the best things to do is to interview your relatives. Your relatives can share their knowledge of your family history with you and help you build your family tree. Plan some time to meet… Read the full story

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Alfred Hitchcock Travels Abroad

Posted January 25, 2013 by Amanda | One Comment
Hitchcock - Immigration Form

Genealogists know that passenger lists and travel documentation can hold a great deal of genealogical information. Here’s an interesting one that I thought I’d share. Recently, I came across this immigration form for legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. Check out the title of the document: Information Sheet (concerning passenger arriving on aircraft). I have to say this is the first time I’ve seen an immigration form for a passenger arriving via airplane! When you take a… Read the full story

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World War II Ration Books

Posted December 27, 2012 by Amanda | 4 Comments
War ration book no. 3

Have you come across ration books in your genealogy research? Perhaps your relatives received ration books during World War II. Did you know that these books could hold significant clues into your ancestry? During World War II, ration books were distributed to families by the Office of Price Administration (OPA) to help regulate food shortages as a result of the war. Between 1942 – 1947, the government issued four different series of ration books. Each… Read the full story

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Albert Einstein’s Declaration to Become a U.S. Citizen

Posted October 26, 2012 by Amanda | 4 Comments
Albert Einstein

Do you have ancestors who became naturalized citizens? A great place to hunt for information are in the pages of your ancestor’s naturalization records. Information such as birth date, birth place, physical description, race, residence, relative’s names and birth dates, port of entry and even a picture can be found all in one place. Below is Albert Einstein‘s declaration of intention to become a citizen of the United States, submitted January 15, 1936. Read on… Read the full story

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T.S. Eliot’s World War I Draft Registration Card

Posted September 26, 2012 by Amanda | No Comment
T.S. Eliot WWI draft registration card

Today is poet T.S. Eliot‘s birthday! In honor of his 124th birthday, check out T.S. Eliot’s World War I draft registration card. Did you know WWI draft cards hold lots of genealogical intel? Six weeks after the U.S. declared war on Germany, the Selective Service Act of 1917 was passed, which authorized the federal government to raise a national army for the American entry into World War I through conscription. Between 1917 – 1918, every… Read the full story

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Passport Applications Hold Lots of Genealogical Data

Posted September 14, 2012 by Amanda | 7 Comments
Walt Disney Passport Application

Did you know that you can find very valuable information in U.S. passport application records? Passport applications hold a large amount of genealogical data that can be incredibly useful to your family tree research. Information such as birth date, place of birth, current residence, parental information, photo and signature are almost always found in passport applications. Let’s take a look at a real life example below! Here is a copy of Walt Disney‘s passport application submitted August… Read the full story

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DNA Testing for Genealogy – Getting Started, Part Four

Posted August 8, 2012 by Geni | 26 Comments

We’re excited to bring to you a special guest series by genetic genealogist CeCe Moore. Some of you may recognize her from her popular blog She’ll be providing a great overview about DNA testing for genealogy. Here’s the final installment of her very informative series. Enjoy! We have covered the three types of DNA tests for genealogy over the last few weeks, but there is one more aspect of genetic genealogy that should not be… Read the full story

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DNA Testing for Genealogy – Getting Started, Part Three

Posted August 1, 2012 by Geni | 24 Comments
Autosomal DNA chart

We’re excited to bring to you a special guest series by genetic genealogist CeCe Moore. Some of you may recognize her from her blog For the next few weeks, she’ll be providing a great overview about DNA testing for genealogy. Enjoy! This week we are finally going to discuss my favorite type of genetic testing for genealogy – autosomal DNA. For the past two weeks we have covered DNA tests that are solely informative of one… Read the full story

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DNA Testing for Genealogy – Getting Started, Part Two

Posted July 25, 2012 by Geni | 10 Comments

We’re excited to bring to you part 2 of blogger CeCe Moore’s DNA Testing for Genealogy series. For the next few weeks, she’ll be providing a great overview about DNA testing for genealogy. Enjoy! Last week we discussed the Y-DNA test that only traces your direct paternal line back in time, but there’s good news for you women who felt left out. Did you know that there is also a DNA test that traces your direct… Read the full story

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DNA Testing for Genealogy – Getting Started, Part One

Posted July 18, 2012 by Geni | 35 Comments

We’re excited to bring to you a special guest blog post by genetic genealogist CeCe Moore. Some of you may recognize her from her blog For the next few weeks, she’ll be providing a great overview about DNA testing for genealogy. So without further ado, here’s part 1! Enjoy! Interest in DNA testing for genealogy has reached an all-time high thanks to its increasing sophistication and the resulting visibility in the media. We hear about… Read the full story

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A Telegram to John F. Kennedy

Posted July 13, 2012 by Amanda | No Comment
Harpo Marx congratulates John F. Kennedy

Between 1861 – 2006, Western Union delivered telegrams all over the U.S. They reached their peak in popularity during the 1920s and 1930s, when sending a telegram was cheaper than placing a long distance call. Telegrams in genealogy are great because it gives you a glimpse into the lives of your ancestors, albeit in very short statements. Despite their length, many carried some valuable genealogical information. Often, relatives used them to alert family members of a death… Read the full story

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The 1940 U.S. Census is Coming Soon!

Posted March 21, 2012 by Amanda | 3 Comments
1940 Population schedule

The release of the 1940 U.S. census records is less than two weeks away! Are you excited to get your hands on these documents and upload them to your family’s Geni profiles? Let’s take a look at what you can expect to find in the 1940 census records. Standard information from census records: Name Age Gender Marital status Race Education Occupation Place of birth Citizenship Place of residence Home owned or rented? Value of the home?… Read the full story

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Alexander Graham Bell and the First Telephone

Posted March 7, 2012 by Amanda | 2 Comments
Alexander Graham Bell

On this day in 1876, inventor Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for the telephone. Credited with creating the first practical telephone, his invention would revolutionize the way people communicate for years to come. Bell’s research on hearing and speech were profoundly influenced by his mother and wife, who were both deaf. This work led to his experimentation with hearing devices. He was inspired to improve upon the telegraph and sought to develop a mechanism… Read the full story

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School Census Records Offer Lots of Genealogical Info

Posted January 18, 2012 by Amanda | No Comment
Clay County, Minnesota school census records 1915

Did you know that school districts take a census each year to determine the state’s allocation of funds to each district? Many of these documents have been digitized online and if you’re researching your family tree, it may be worth while to trace down your ancestors in the school census records. You may find lots of valuable genealogical information to help build your family tree. What can I find in school census records?  Names of… Read the full story

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Voter Registration Records and Genealogy

Posted July 28, 2011 by Amanda | One Comment
Voter Registration Card 1902

While researching your genealogy, voter registration records may not be the first resource that springs to mind. However, you’d be surprised how this often overlooked resource can help supplement your research and provide you with clues in new directions. As you build your family tree on Geni, you may want to take time to look into what you can find about your ancestor’s voting history. Important things to keep in mind:   In the United… Read the full story

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Finding Records in Funeral Homes

Posted July 14, 2011 by Amanda | 6 Comments
record of funeral

As you build your family tree on Geni, you may want to research funeral home records to help supplement the information on your tree. Often overlooked in genealogy, funeral home records may contain information not found in death certificates or tombstones. They can offer great genealogical information and perhaps help you fill in some missing pieces.

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Getting to Know Your Ancestors

Posted July 7, 2011 by Amanda | One Comment
Exterior of a locket dated between 1861 - 1865

One of the most rewarding aspects of genealogy is learning about who your ancestors were as individuals. It’s important to remember that genealogy isn’t only about scouring through documents in libraries and online resources. Chances are you have a few heirlooms in your family. These items are a great place to begin learning more about your ancestors’ lives, while at the same time, getting your family more involved in their genealogy.

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Researching Bounty Land Warrants

Posted June 30, 2011 by Amanda | One Comment
Bounty Land Warrent

Do you have an ancestor who served in an early American war? Your ancestor or their heirs may have been given free land, also known as bounty land, as a compensation for their services. Similar to pension records, bounty land warrants can offer genealogists valuable information to add to their family trees. Let’s take a look at what you might find. What are bounty land warrants? Issued by the federal government from 1776 to 1858,… Read the full story

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Special Census Records

Posted June 23, 2011 by Amanda | 2 Comments
1850 Slave Schedule

Every genealogist can attest to how valuable population census records are to genealogical research. But did you know that there are other types of census schedules out there? While these “special” schedules may not hold as much information as population schedules, they can often help supplement other sources and point you into new directions. Let’s take a brief look at a few of the other types of U.S. census schedules: Agriculture Schedules Agriculture schedules can… Read the full story

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Do You Have a Criminal in Your Family Tree?

Posted June 16, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment
Police report on the arrest of Rosa Parks

Discovered that your ancestor has disappeared from public records for a period of time? Wonder why your family doesn’t want to talk about a certain ancestor’s past? If you’ve heard stories or rumors in your family about an ancestor’s criminal activities, you may want to investigate those claims further by finding documentation. Criminal records make a fascinating resource for genealogical information. What types of criminal records are there? Police report/arrest records Court records Probation records Execution records… Read the full story