Archive for the ‘Family History’ Category

Zoom ClassesFor those of you who have been missing the classes at your local FamilySearch Center, you might want to attend one of the virtual classes being taught by the teachers at the St. George FamilySearch Center.

Classes are taught through the ZOOM app., Monday through Friday at 10 am and 2 pm.  Occasionally there will be late-afternoon or evening classes. It helps to have Zoom already on your computer, but that isn’t necessary.

To find out what classes are being taught go to familysearch.org/wiki and in the search box enter st. george utah, or open the following link

You will first see a link to show you the schedule of classes for the month, followed by a link to the current classes for that day. When you click on a class for that day the zoom app will open the class and you will be able to attend virtually. Once the class for the day has been taught, the option to link to the class goes away. Handouts for many of the classes can also be found on the wiki page. As always if you need help with the Zoom app you can go to YouTube.  Enjoy staying home and learning.

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union jackIf you are researching at all in the British Isles, you may want to check out British History Online, which has made its digital collection of primary and secondary sources free during the pandemic. This includes free access to all BHO content and it will remain free until 31 July 2020. This site houses records from England, Ireland, and Scotland and includes records from 1300 to 1800 AD.

If your ancestors came from the British Isles, now is the time to do a deep dive into this website, British History Online. Set a bookmark for this site as a reminder to explore it over the next few months. There are lots of websites free online at this time. If the British Isles isn’t one you are interested in – do a Google Search using your area of research and the word free.

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Photo Distater 2.jpgAs I watched the recent news showing people evacuating  from fires and floods. I noticed one thing they had in common was that they were grabbing their photo albums, which to me meant they were trying to save their memories and family history. What would you take if you had minutes to evacuate your home, not knowing if it would be standing when you returned? Hopefully, most of us have an evacuation plan, and have gathered our critical papers and put together an emergency kit of some kind. But what about your Family History?

How do you save all those years of pictures, histories, letters and documents that you have collected and that mean a lot to you? Besides natural disasters, there are man made ones, such as computer viruses and backup failures, which can wipe away years of work.

We are fortunate in today’s world to have a variety of ways to save and retrieve information. Pictures and photo albums can be digitized by scanning or photographing with your digital camera. You should also share copies of those really old photos with cousins and websites such as FamilySearch to help insure that other copies are preserved and available.

Documents such as birth, marriage, and death certificates can be treated the same way. You might also consider copying those obituaries and old letters you have tucked away. The same goes for special items you may have, like grandma’s old treadle machine or grandpa’s old horse hair rope. A picture will allow you share the treasure, even if the article is lost.

If your information is stored digitally you can save it on an extra external hard drive or a removable flash drive. If you are using an external drive, it will still be vulnerable to viruses if it is continually attached to your computer, so attach it only when necessary.

  • Make a plan.
  • Copy pictures and documents and save them several different ways in digital format, and on backup drives, or off site in a program such as Dropbox
  • Take pictures of family heirlooms.
  • Make several copies to store at different locations, preferably away from your home.
  • Check your backups occasionally to make sure they are working.
  • Share – what you give comes back to you, sometimes literally.

There are, of course, some commercial web sites that will back up your system for a fee. Whatever you decide and even if you never have a disaster to deal with you will have peace of mind if you take time to make certain you won’t permanently lose your valuable family information.

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If you are stumped in your Family History ResearchBest brick wall.png you might want to take a look at some of the following.

  •  City Directories – occupations, etc. – Cyndi’s List
  • State Censuses –FamilySearch, look in Search Records
  • Tax Lists – shows property ownership and substitutes for Census –
  • Mortality Schedules – 1850-1880 list people who died the year prior to the census – Heritage Quest free with your library card number from most libraries
  • Newspapers – even the ads can be valuable – Genealogy Bank $ subscription or check your local Family History Center for free newspaper sites.
    • Look for ethnic newspapers that apply to your family.
  • Church Records – can tell when people moved in and out of an area –
  • Court Records – in the US at either a County or State Courthouse.
  • Funeral Home Records –
  • Historical Societies – [may be worth joining temporarily]-
  • PERSI [Periodical Source Index] Index is free at Find My Past
  • School Records –
  • Fraternal and National Organizations – [such as Elks, Masons, Grange]
  • Old Photos – Dead Fred
  • Library of Congress
  • NUCMUC [National Union Catalogue of Manuscript Collection]
  • State Archives and University Libraries [see blog July 2016]
  • Maps such as Dave Rumsey Maps and Perry Canstaneda Library Map Collection
  • Newberry Library interactive ‘Atlas of County Boundaries’
  • Google Books has great collection of digitized historical and genealogical books-
  • Google News Archives
  • Internet Archive

These sites and record groups often get overlooked. I have found them to be very valuable, so maybe they will help you also.


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google earthGoogle Earth is a free mapping program that lets you travel the world, the oceans, and even outer space, all from your home. It is more than Google Maps as it allows you to see and overlay layers such as adding roads, rivers, and railroads, and historic maps to your earth view. The program can be downloaded free and will work on both PC and Mac operating systems.

I always want to see the land where my ancestors lived, I like to find the distance between the town they lived in and the town where other family members lived. If they lived close to a county or state border, they may have created records in that different place. The Kinner’s of Whitehall Township, New York,  sometimes married in the bordering state of Vermont, and as they also lived nearly on the border of Ft. Ann Township, they also created records in Ft. Ann.

I often find old plat maps that show the division of land with the name of each owner labeled on their property, and I sometime find old historic maps that identiy, each land owner in the area on their property. I save the map as a jpg. and then overlay it on Google Earth to show where that property would be in today’s world. Images can be adjusted so the scale of both the map and Google Earth are the same.

There are websites that will automatically overlay images onto Google Earth. The BLM [Bureau of Land Management ]Website at http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/search/ has early land records including bounty land, and has a Google Earth function built in. Historic Map Works, also has a built-in overlay function. If you set a free Google Earth sign-in you can save your searches, and revisit them without re-creating the search. From an old Missionary Journal, I was able to track the travels from town to town of an early missionary, and create a virtual tour of the towns he preached in, which was then sent to other family members. I recently found a KMZ  file online of the Scottish Clans showing where there Clan Lands were originally located. By overlaying it on Google Earth, I was able to find the areas of Scotland where my ancestors lived, and track their migration.

As a long time user and teacher of Google Earth, I was pleased to find that Google Earth Pro is also now free. While I can do most of what I want on Google Earth, Google Pro allows higher resolution printing, and has a spreadsheet that lets you  map multiple addresses at once. It also includes a movie maker which will allow you to create video presentations. You can also get an app to use Google Earth on your phone or tablet. Enjoy!

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