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

Posted September 12, 2013 by Amanda | One Comment
babycage

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
homesteaders2

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
piechart1

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  YourGeneticGenealogist.com. 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 | 26 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 YourGeneticGenealogist.com. 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
migrationpatterns

We’re excited to bring to you part 2 of  YourGeneticGenealogist.com 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 YourGeneticGenealogist.com. 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

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Naturalization Records

Posted June 9, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment
Petition for Naturalization - Maria von Trapp

Naturalization records are an important resource for genealogists. These records hold valuable information not only about their names and ages, but also where they came from. They provide important clues that may lead you to new paths and discoveries. Let’s take a brief look at what information naturalization records hold. Declaration of Intentions In the first steps toward naturalization, your ancestor would need to file a declaration of intentions, also known as “First Papers.” These… Read the full story

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School Records as a Genealogy Resource

Posted June 2, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment
University of California, Berkeley - Class of 1875 Yearbook

When researching your genealogy, school records may not be one of the first resources that come to mind. However, you may be surprised to realize how information found in school records can help supplement your research with other documented sources. They can even provide clues to other areas to search. Let’s take a look at how school records can help you. Record of attendance Teachers often wrote notes recording why a student was absent for… Read the full story

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Your Family Bible

Posted May 26, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment
428px-Family-bible

While census records and other official documents are excellent resources for your ancestor’s vital information, none compare to having your family Bible in your possession. Family Bibles provide not only great genealogical information, but also offer an intimate connection with your ancestors. Contained in these Bibles are family records written in the hands of your own relatives and passed on from generation to generation. What can I find in my family Bible? You will find… Read the full story

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What is a Gazetteer?

Posted May 19, 2011 by Amanda | 5 Comments
New England Gazetteer

Using historic maps as a resource in genealogy can be very valuable, however, sometimes you may discover that the town or village you are searching for is not on the map. Did you know you can also use gazetteers to help you locate places where your ancestors may have lived? If you’re unfamiliar with gazetteers, here’s a brief look at what they are and how they are useful to genealogists. What is a gazetteer? A… Read the full story

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Tracing Your Mexican Heritage

Posted May 5, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment
Flag of Mexico

Today is Cinco de Mayo, a holiday primarily observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture. We thought it would be interesting to take a look at some useful resources when tracing your Mexican ancestry. Talk to your relatives The best way to begin your search is by first asking your family questions. Find out as much as you can about the names and relationships of your ancestors, birth/death dates,… Read the full story

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Using Patents as a Genealogy Resource

Posted April 28, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment
Drawing for a "flying machine" patented by O. and W. Wright on May 22, 1906 (patent #821,393)

Have you discovered that your ancestor was an inventor? Did you know that their patent records can provide you with some great genealogical information?  Let’s take a look at how patents can be an excellent genealogy resource! Genealogical information found in patent records include: First and last name of the inventor Each patent in the U.S. must contain the first and last name of the inventor or co-inventors and their address. You may be able… Read the full story

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Guest Post: Genetic Genealogy

Posted April 26, 2011 by Geni | No Comment
relativefindersnapshot

Today, we present a guest post about the possibilities of genetic genealogy by Andrea Badger. A while back, I briefly wrote about Relative Finder, a service offered by the DNA company 23andme. This program is able to search for segments of DNA that you share with other customers in the database. These shared segments of DNA imply a common ancestor – these people are your genetic relatives. When I first got my 23andme results over… Read the full story

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Fraternal Organization Records and Genealogy

Posted April 21, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment
Symbol of the Freemasons

While researching your family history, you wonder what an acronym in your ancestors’ records or a symbol on their tombstone signifies. It’s possible that your ancestor was a member of a fraternal organization. While the practices and ceremonies of these types of organizations are secretive, you will find that many people will identify themselves in some way that they are a member of an exclusive organization. These membership organizations have been around throughout history and… Read the full story

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City Directories

Posted April 14, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment
texas directory

City directories are one of the most often overlooked resources in genealogy. However, this resource is actually filled with very useful information for your genealogy research. Since city directories were published annually, they are an excellent way to track down the location of your ancestors in between census records. Here’s a quick look at how city directories can help you in your family tree research: What can I find in city directories? Your ancestors’ surname… Read the full story

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Understanding Probate Records

Posted April 7, 2011 by Amanda | One Comment
probate_docs

Probate records are an excellent source of genealogical information. Today, let’s take a closer look at probate records and how they can help enrich your genealogy research. What are probate records? Probate records are documents compiled by a court after someone has died regarding the division of their estate. Among some of the documents you may find in your ancestor’s probate records are: A death certificate Will Guardian ship petitions for minor children List of heirs… Read the full story

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Using the Chinese Exclusion Act Records in Genealogy

Posted March 31, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment
chinese exclusion acts

If you are researching your Chinese heritage in the U.S. and your ancestors had immigrated to the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a great place to look is the Chinese Exclusion Act case files. In 1882, the United States passed the Chinese Exclusion Acts to limit the number of Chinese immigrants coming into the country. Ten years later, the Act was modified to require all Chinese residents to obtain a certificate… Read the full story

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American Civil War Records and Genealogy

Posted March 24, 2011 by Amanda | 4 Comments
american-civil-war

If you have ancestors who fought in the American Civil War (1861-1865), finding their military records may provide you with valuable genealogical information.  Let’s take a look at how military records can help further your genealogy research as you build your family tree: Service Records Finding your ancestor’s service records can provide you with some helpful information, however, they can be a bit limited. You will likely find your ancestor’s name, their rank and unit,… Read the full story

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Finding Your Irish Ancestors

Posted March 17, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment
IrishFlag1

Due to Ireland’s tumultuous history, many vital historical records have been destroyed. Although researching your Irish heritage may prove to be very difficult, take heart in that it’s not as hopeless as you might think. Here are a few general tips on how to get started in your research: Start with your living relatives Begin your research with your close family members and work your way back generation by generation. A large number of Irish… Read the full story

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The Social Security Death Index and Genealogy

Posted March 10, 2011 by Amanda | 2 Comments
Social-Security-Administration-300x300

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a wonderful resource to locate the genealogical information of your ancestors. This enormous database holds records for over 77 million people. In 1935, the United States passed the Social Security Act, which would provide federal assistance to the elderly, the unemployed and widows. The deaths recorded in the SSDI are those reported by relatives to either request survivor benefits or to stop benefits to the deceased. While you… Read the full story

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Genetic Ancestry: Sharing Your Results

Posted March 4, 2011 by Geni | 2 Comments

With the latest version of their product, 23andMe tests over one million SNPs all over your genome. That’s a million points of data about what makes you who you are from a biological standpoint. That’s pretty impressive just knowing that. When you factor in that the testing kit, the processing, the analysis, and one year of updated results come in at about $260 USD, it starts to become more compelling from a consumer standpoint. Now,… Read the full story

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Court Records in Genealogy

Posted March 3, 2011 by Amanda | 2 Comments
Arizona_Court_Records

While court records may be a little more difficult to research, they may yield some unique information you may not find anywhere else. Before you jump into these documents, you will first need to have an idea about what type of court records you are looking for and in what location. This is key to knowing which archives to search. Remember, county, state and federal cases are archived at different levels. Here are a few of… Read the full story

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Cleaning Up Documents Digitally

Posted March 3, 2011 by Geni | 2 Comments
Crop

Documentation is extremely important to genealogy. Sadly, the documents we find are often in pretty bad shape. First thing we need to do is get them scanned. Once we have a digital copy of the original document, we can start touching it up to be more legible. To get started, you’ll need some image editing software. Some of the more affordable applications are Photoshop Elements, Acorn, Pixelmator, and The GIMP. Now, open up your image… Read the full story

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Looking Through Land Records

Posted February 24, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment
landpatentrecord

The purchase and sale of land is one of the most well documented sources you may find in your genealogy research. In the U.S., the sale of public land can be traced back to the beginnings of westward expansion and the passage of the Homestead Act. In many cases, you can even trace the ownership of land back to when America was first colonized and land grants were distributed to early settlers. After the American Revolutionary War, the… Read the full story

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Finding Church Records

Posted February 17, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment
church

Although church records may not have been kept with genealogy in mind, these records can provide genealogists with vital information to help fill the gaps in their research. Even if your ancestor was not a regular attendant, you may find detailed information on births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials. How do you go about obtaining these records? If you’re lucky enough to have access to your family Bible, you may be able to gather enough… Read the full story

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Genetic Ancestry: Viewing Your Results

Posted February 17, 2011 by Geni | 2 Comments
23 relative finder

So, now that you’ve ordered your kit, taken your test, and received your results, how do you put them to good use in your genealogy research? Well, it depends on which company you decided to do your testing through. I have personal experience with 23andMe, so that is the example I’ll use today. Before you do anything else, go to the mechanism that matches people with similar DNA. 23andMe calls this feature “Relative Finder.” This… Read the full story

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Genetic Ancestry: Intro to Personal DNA Tests

Posted February 16, 2011 by Geni | One Comment
23andMe

Our DNA holds the answers to a lot of questions. Ancestry is one of them. When we have our genome analyzed, we can compare our data to the community aggregate as well as known-relations. DNA testing provides us the ability to see who we’re related to, and how closely. Family Tree DNA and 23andMe are two of the most well-known direct-to-consumer DNA testing companies. They both offer Y-DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, and Autosomal DNA tests. Family… Read the full story

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Making a Tombstone Rubbing

Posted February 10, 2011 by Amanda | One Comment

Making tombstone rubbings is an easy and fun activity to preserve the headstones of your ancestors. Before embarking on your adventure to the cemetery, make sure to first get permission from the proper authorities. Some cemeteries have banned this practice in order to preserve fragile headstones and prevent further damage. Once you have permission, it’s very important that you check the structural integrity of the tombstone. Do not attempt a rubbing on a stone that… Read the full story

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Researching African American Genealogy

Posted February 3, 2011 by Amanda | One Comment
freedmans bureau school

February is Black History Month in the U.S., where we celebrate and remember the past and present achievements of African-Americans. If you are researching your African-American heritage, finding documentation about your ancestors before 1870 can be a challenge. Here are a few resources you may find helpful in your research: U.S. Census Records Census records from 1850 and 1860 included special slave schedules, which provide the name of the slave owner and the number of… Read the full story

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A Look at DNA in Genealogy

Posted January 27, 2011 by Amanda | 6 Comments
dna

Although DNA testing has been around for a while, only recently have genealogists started using DNA to help trace the origins of their ancestors. While DNA testing cannot give you specific information (names, dates etc.), when used in conjunction with your other research, genetic testing can help us prove/disprove ancestral lines while also leading us in possible new directions to pursue. Let’s take a quick look at how DNA testing can help you trace your ancestry…. Read the full story

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Clues in Historic Maps

Posted January 20, 2011 by Geni | One Comment
Kopie (3) von OrteliusWorldMap1570

Historic maps can offer you a wide variety of clues and new leads to investigate. A great genealogical tool, maps help us to locate our ancestors and follow their path as they moved. Maps let you visualize where your ancestors lived, went to school, traveled, worked and buried. In your research, keep in mind that the names of locations and boundaries change quite often over time. There are several resources you may use to help… Read the full story

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Searching Through Old Newspapers

Posted January 13, 2011 by Geni | 2 Comments
old-newspaper

You may be thinking that your ancestor wasn’t famous or “important” enough to get their name mentioned in the press. However, you might be surprised at what you can find about your ancestor in print. Let’s take a closer look at where you can find information in old newspapers to further your genealogical research. Birth/Death Notifications, Marriage Announcements These types of announcements were very common to print and it’s very likely you may find your… Read the full story

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Discovering Your Female Ancestors

Posted January 6, 2011 by Geni | No Comment
diaries_two_open_1020

If you are trying to trace your female ancestors, chances are you’ve hit some road blocks and difficulties locating them in documented records. Before the 20th century, law and tradition focused record keeping primarily on the male head of the household. Unfortunately for us, this means women are often missing from official records, making their genealogy all the more difficult to trace. Here are a few other places you can search for your female ancestors:… Read the full story

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Deciphering Old Handwriting

Posted December 30, 2010 by Geni | No Comment
old handwriting

Reading old documents can be a great challenge for genealogists. Overtime, language conventions and handwriting styles have significantly changed. Time and patience are required when trying to understand your ancestor’s handwriting. Here are some quick tips on how to make deciphering old handwriting a little bit easier: First read the document in its entirety and pick out any familiar words or phrases. Remember, be patient. You should read the document several times to get a… Read the full story