Genealogy Research

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20 Family History Questions You May Not Think to Ask Your Relatives

Posted September 30, 2016 by Amanda | No Comment
20 Questions You Should Ask Your Relatives

When getting started on your family history research, one of the best places to begin is your family. Your living relatives are an incredible resource for your family’s genealogy. While it’s important to make sure ask basic questions about names, birth dates and locations for the person you are interviewing and for other relatives, it’s also just as imperative to get them to open up with stories about their lives or your family history. Image: Powerhouse Museum, Flickr Some of… Read the full story

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9 Tips for Photographing Gravestones

Posted September 21, 2016 by Amanda | No Comment
9 Tips for Photographing Cemeteries

Overtime, the information on gravestones may deteriorate and disappear forever. Taking photographs of these markers now is essential to preserving them for future generations. This fun activity is perfect for genealogists and family historians. Here are some tips to keep in mind for your next adventure to the cemetery: 1. Ask for permission Before taking your first snapshot, make sure you have permission to take photographs in the cemetery. A quick search online for the cemetery’s website or a… Read the full story

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Genealogy Research: Don’t Overlook City Directories

Posted September 13, 2016 by Amanda | No Comment
boston1889_directory_blog

Remember receiving the yellow pages on your door step? Now that we have the Internet at our fingertips, we see these books less and less. However, years ago, thick city directories were one of the few ways a person could look up the names and addresses of local businesses and residents. Old city directories provide a snapshot of a time and place, which makes them a perfect resource for genealogy researchers. 1889 Boston, Massachusetts city directory / MyHeritage SuperSearch Directories… Read the full story

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Genealogy Research: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Posted July 7, 2016 by Amanda | 4 Comments
Genealogy Research: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Whether you’re just getting started researching your family history or have been doing genealogy for years, everybody makes mistakes. But if you have them in mind, you can take steps to make sure you don’t make some of the common mistakes that befall genealogists at some time or another. Here are five common genealogy mistakes for you to avoid: 1. Making assumptions One of the easiest and most common mistake to make is to make assumptions about… Read the full story

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10 Reasons Why You Should Collaborate on Geni’s World Family Tree

Posted June 3, 2016 by Amanda | One Comment
10 Reasons Why_blog

Thanks to the collaboration of millions of genealogists and family historians, Geni’s World Family Tree has over 100 million profiles connected. That’s 100 million people connected to a single family tree! Here are 10 reasons why you should be collaborating in the World Family Tree now: 1. Work with others in projects Why research alone, when there’s an entire community who is just as passionate about genealogy as you? Who better to work with than individuals… Read the full story

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Memorial Day: Remembering Our Military Ancestors

Posted May 30, 2016 by Amanda | No Comment
memorialday

Today the U.S. celebrates Memorial Day to honor of the men and women who have died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Many people will take this time to visit cemeteries to honor our fallen soldiers. The holiday is often celebrated with large parades and family barbecues as we also welcome the unofficial beginning of summer. Image: Kathleen T. Rhem, U.S. Army This long weekend also presents a great opportunity to research your military ancestors. Here are a few ideas on… Read the full story

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Spring Cleaning: Organize Your Genealogy Research

Posted March 29, 2016 by Amanda | No Comment
cleaning

Now that spring is officially here, it’s the perfect time to do a little genealogy spring cleaning. Take a break from your research to reorganize, refresh and get yourself in the best shape before tackling your next genealogy hurdle. Image: Nationaal Archief, Flickr Here are some quick tips to get started on your genealogy spring cleaning: Time to scan old documents and photos! Do you have a pile of old documents and photos that you’ve been meaning to… Read the full story

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Women in World War I

Posted March 25, 2016 by Amanda | One Comment
factory

World War I was an interesting time for women. As millions of men were off fighting in the Great War, women back home entered the work force in droves. It was the first time in American history that many women began to take on the jobs traditionally held by men. Before the U.S. entered the war, women were relegated to the home or to domestic work. In 1914, when World War I broke out in Europe, the traditional… Read the full story

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Middle Names in Your Family Tree

Posted March 10, 2016 by Amanda | 3 Comments
middle_name

What’s in a middle name? Not everyone has one and its significance varies between different cultures. If you come across someone with a middle name during your genealogy research, a closer investigation may give you fascinating insights into family traditions, your ancestors or even clues to missing branches. While the concept of a “middle name” has been around since the Middle Ages, it was not until 1835 that the phrase “middle name” first appeared in the Harvard University… Read the full story

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Uncover the Maiden Names of Your Female Ancestors

Posted March 3, 2016 by Amanda | No Comment
wilson_women2

Are you having trouble searching for your female ancestors? Documentation for women is often difficult to come by in the historical record. Often times, name changes and omissions in favor of male relatives make it difficult to track down your female ancestors. Image: Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Archives The month of March is designated as Women’s History Month. In honor of the month long celebration, here are some ways you can uncover the maiden names of your… Read the full story

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Tips to Get Started on Your Family Tree

Posted February 17, 2016 by Amanda | 2 Comments
Back to Basics: Tips to Get Started on Your Family Tree

Learning about your genealogy can be a rich and rewarding experience, but many who are eager to discover more often find they are at a lost as to where or how to begin. Family history research doesn’t need to feel so overwhelming. Check out these tips on how to get started on researching your family tree: 1. Start with what you know The easiest way to begin is to start with the information you already know…. Read the full story

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Newspapers: Wedding and Anniversary Announcements

Posted February 12, 2016 by Amanda | No Comment
GoldenWedding-bl

Have you found your ancestors’ wedding or anniversary announcements in old newspaper records? These happy announcements can be a wonderful treasure trove of genealogical information. They may also hold stories of the love your relatives shared on their special day. Many of these may even include a photograph of the happy couple! We’ve uncovered a few lovely examples below. Check them out: Sisters married on the anniversary of their parents’ wedding The Ogden Standard, February 14, 1920 A… Read the full story

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Remembering Rosa Parks

Posted December 1, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment
parks2

Sixty years ago, Rosa Parks became one of the defining symbols of the American Civil Rights movement when she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. This simple act of defiance sparked a wave of non-violent protest for equal rights. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was riding home from a long day at work on a segregated bus. She had been working as a seamstress at a Montgomery department… Read the full story

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Photos: The Great Depression

Posted November 3, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment
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The Great Depression had a devastating effect on the population in the United States. In an effort to document and highlight the impact of the Depression and rally support for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, the Farm Security Administration (FSA) hired eleven photographers to document the conditions of rural America. The powerful photographs captured the lives of impoverished farmers and families during the era and resulted in some of the most iconic images of the Great Depression. Walker Evans… Read the full story

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Tips to Decipher Old Handwriting

Posted September 26, 2015 by Amanda | 4 Comments
marriagerecord_bl

While researching your family history, you may come across many old handwritten records that are hard to read. Although genealogists would love to see clear, easy-to-read penmanship, you’ll find that that is not always the case. From the census enumerator with the sloppy cursive to your ancestors’ flourished writings in old journals, handwritten documents can sometimes feel impossible to decipher. Image: 1912 Catholic Church marriage record from Mexico Time and patience are key to understanding exactly what is written on the page. Check… Read the full story

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History of Labor Day

Posted September 4, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment
laborday_parade

This Monday, the United States celebrates Labor Day in honor of the contributions and achievements that workers have made. Celebrated on the first Monday of each September, Labor Day was created as a result of the Labor Movement of the late 19th century. Today, the holiday also symbolizes the end of summer and is celebrated with parties, parades and community events. Working in bottling factory / Library of Congress The origins of Labor Day can… Read the full story

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The 19th Amendment Ratified

Posted August 18, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment
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Ninety-five years ago, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, guaranteeing women the right to vote in the United States. The Lowell Sun, August 18, 1920 The long struggle for women’s equal right to vote began with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lurcretia Mott, the event was the first women’s rights convention of its kind to be held in the U.S. It was here that Stanton first met Susan B. Anthony, who would play a pivotal… Read the full story

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10 Family History Questions to Ask Your Grandparents

Posted August 15, 2015 by Amanda | One Comment
ask_grandparent

When researching your family history, one of the greatest resources at your disposal are your living relatives. Your grandparents and other older relatives may just be your closest connection to earlier generations of your family. When your grandparents pass, their knowledge and memories of your family’s history disappear forever. Interviewing your elderly relatives now is not only great for capturing and preserving their stories for future generations, but also a wonderful way to get to know… Read the full story

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Genealogy Research: Address Books

Posted August 7, 2015 by Amanda | One Comment
Genealogy Research: Address Books

Do you still keep a handwritten address book? In today’s world, many people have forgone the old paper and pen for digital preservation of contacts either on the computer or a smartphone. But if you take a closer look at an old address book, you’ll find that they may hold the key to unlocking your family history. Before we carried all our contacts on our phones, we kept the names, addresses and phone numbers of our family, friends and… Read the full story

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The Notorious Lizzie Borden

Posted August 4, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment
Lizzie_borden_blog

Have you heard this popular rhyme? Lizzie Borden took an axe And gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one. Memorialized in this children’s nursery rhyme is Lizzie Borden, who stood trial for the infamous murder of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts. It was 123 years ago today on August 4, 1892 that Andrew and Abby Borden were found in their home. Since… Read the full story

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Genealogy: WWI Draft Registration Cards

Posted July 28, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment
Genealogy: WWI Draft Registration Cards

Do you have ancestors that fought in World War I? On this day in 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Empire invaded Serbia, beginning a war unlike any other. World War I, also known as the Great War, would last 4 years and see the death of over 9 million soldiers. It wasn’t until April 1917 that the United States would enter the war. Six weeks after the U.S. declared war on Germany, the Selective Service Act was passed,… Read the full story

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Modern Names for Old Diseases

Posted June 26, 2015 by Amanda | 2 Comments
sick_postcard

Did your ancestor die from bad blood? Or a fatty liver? Have you found yourself wondering what jail fever could be? Your ancestors’ cause of death can be found in several different historical records, including death certificates, obituaries and probate records. The names of many diseases vary over time and geographical location, so it’s not at all surprising to come across an unfamiliar cause of death or illness during your research. Image: Miami University Libraries… Read the full story

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Patents: The Typewriter

Posted June 23, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment
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Do you remember the days of using a typewriter? After the introduction of the first commercially successful typewriter, the mechanical marvel quickly became an indispensable tool, transforming the way the world communicated in both business and the home. 1868 patent drawing for Shole’s typewriter / National Archives (click to view patent) Although various forms of the typewriter had been around for many years, the first practical and commercially successful typewriter was invented by Christopher Latham Sholes, a newspaper publisher… Read the full story

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7 Unexpected Places to Discover Clues to Your Family History

Posted June 16, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment
7 Unexpected Places to Find Clues to Your Family History | Geni

As genealogists, we’re always searching for clues about our ancestors. Some of the first documents we search for are census records, birth and death certificates, obituaries and other commonly used sources. However, there are many, many other places you can search to find clues to help you breakthrough your brick walls. Check out some unexpected places to find clues to your family history: Image: pixagraphic, Flickr 1. Fraternal organizations Have you found acronyms or symbols on your… Read the full story

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Video: History of 20th Century Hairstyles

Posted June 2, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment
Video: History of 20th Century Hairstyles

Are you having some trouble dating your old family photos? Often genealogists have to look for clues within the photos to try to decipher when a photo was taken. Clothing, decor and hairstyles are just some of the many clues you can pick up while examining an old photograph. Knowing popular fashion trends throughout history will go a long way in helping you date your old photographs. Do the women have a 1920s bob? Or the men a 1950s… Read the full story

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8 Tips to Discover Your Irish Ancestors

Posted March 17, 2015 by Amanda | 3 Comments
8 Tips to Discover Your Irish Ancestors

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
Churchill

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
boston_post2

On January 15, 1919, one of the strangest disasters in history occurred in Boston, Massachusetts when 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 was also fermented to… Read the full story

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Genealogy Research: Tips to Stay Organized

Posted January 14, 2015 by Amanda | 2 Comments
desk

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
baxter

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 | One Comment
Ellis_Island

Do you have any ancestors who came through Ellis Island? On November 12, 1954, 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
died_happy

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
family_group

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 | One Comment
George_Eastman_(F._Church_1890)

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
BadgeofMilitaryMerit

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
1790_census

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
obit2

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
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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
taxes_1856

“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
1896_bronx_NY_map

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
interview

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
knocker_up

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
family-heirloom

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
prison_record

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
hook_postcard

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