Arches at Glendalough 2009

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Genealogy Goals for 2011

Well another year over and new one about to begin. What will 2011 bring for us? Here are a few of my resolutions...
1. Volunteer via
            Every time I log on the site I found more and more leads. From my gr-gr-grandmother's death cert to finding family in the RI Census, I love this site. It is going to be exciting to see what documents they extract next. My goal is to volunteer twice a month...a doable goal since I'm on there often.

2. Attend a genealogy conference.
     My favorite conference is the New England Regional Genealogy Conference. This year it will be held in Springfield, MA. Visit for more information.

3. Give back to others.
      I like genealogy so when I can I try to help others.

4. Share my genealogy with others.
     I'm blogging this and have started blogging my family tree. My goal is to blog two family members a month. I have another blog site where I have blogged my grandparents except for my paternal grandmother. She is next. I've included online sites where I found the information about them.

5. Complete my first chapter for my Civil War uncles. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I found some great information on my family in town records. I'm now working on compiling information about them through a variety of sources. Stay tuned for this one.

These are my genealogy goals and I hope to keep to them.
Happy 2011 everyone and may your genealogy searches be successful.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Medical Genealogy Information

Last week my lady friends and I got together for our holiday celebrations. During the course of our conversation, my friend Diana, mentined that she keep a medical genealogy with her for visits to doctors. After inquirying about the information, she pulled out her medical profile. She updates it twice a year and lists every medical event that pertains to her.
Some things she includes are her medications, medical events, and her last visits to her doctors. She has a medical outline of her family on the back including the age of her relatives and their cause of death.
She states that the receptionists are always impressed and it makes her visits to old and new doctors go smoothly. Best of all she keeps the newest one with her at all times.
It's snowing's a good time to create one!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tonight's meeting

The folks at Ocean County Genealogy Society out did themselves again! As I mentioned in my previous post the theme of their meeting was gift ideas. I saw some great ideas...from calendars to books to mouse pads to ornaments. I am inspired!

My genie pal made a beautiful ornament with her grandmother's picture in the middle. On the back of the ornament was basic genealogical information about her grandmother. Another member made gorgeous victorian ornaments that would make anyone envious!

I loved the tribute to "Uncle Bill", the WWII soilder who died five years ago. Each year since his death, his nephews go to a local VFW, place his picture and a glass of beer on the table and honor their family hero. They take pictures of the event and distribute pictures of the event via CDs to famiy members. What had started out with three people has now grown to a huge family event!

There were so many other good ideas! (placemats of family for the little tikes!)

If you are ever in Toms River on the first Wednesday, stop by and see this fabulous group!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Genealogy Crafts

This Wednesday, the Ocean County Genealogy Society in Toms River isn't having a speaker. They are having a Christmas idea exchange. I love idea exchanges because you can walk away with some neat ideas for sharing your genealogy.

With that in mind, here are some ideas I have used over the years.
Christmas cards: I've been making my own Christmas cards over the last ten years. I love working with paper and have some great comments from family and friends over the years. My friend from college recently told me that she likes to see what family design I incorporate each year. I've used old ads from family businesses to pictures for the cover and print my own holiday greeting inside. I purchase blank cards and envelopes from the local craft stores. I also include a small paragraph telling how the card relates to my genealogy.
Wreaths: Lisa Cooke has a wonderful idea on her website for incorporating pictures into a holiday wreath.
Feather Trees: My friend told me about her idea of making mini ornaments from her family pictures and hanging them on her feather tree. I also saw a variation of this in a craft store with a brass tree and ornaments. You only need to add your pictures to create a family holiday heirloom.

At a dollar store I found glass paper weights for one dollar. I glued a picture of my daughter with her boyfriend to the bottom and decoupage the bottom to adhere it. It was a simple gift and one she loved. You can also do the same on the bottom of a glass plate. Add some simple "rub on" stickers to rim.

I found this great "how to" online at that shows you how to make an ornament. This is on my list to try this year.

And don't overlook ideas from Martha Stewart. I've seen several ideas posted that include genealogy. But there are several ideas that could be adapted for genealogy. Look at the craft of the day or easy sewing projects for quick ideas.

The sky is the limit...have fun crafting your genealogy this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Last night I gave a presentation and the question came up about iGoogle. Why use it was the questions? Why not? was my answer.

iGoogle is a neat tool that allows you to create your own iGoogle homepage.Think of it as a daily newspaper with the "frontpage" customized to what tools you use in one location. It places everything you need at one spot instead of hunting down the icon on your toolbar or trying to remember the webpage address.

I have several tabs on my iGoogle. One tab hosts my genealogy links. It is like a "frontpage" newspaper for all of my genealogy links. From this page I can search and read Eastman's newsletter. It makes it easier for me to have my links together on a webpage than tucked into my favorites/bookmark list. It also allows me to access my iGoogle page from any computer anywhere in the world. ( It even worked when I was in Ireland last year!)

Each feature on iGoogle is called a gadget. It is easy to place them on your page and to move around. Using the calendar gadget allows you to list important dates in your family history or to keep track of your busy genealogy schedule. The notepad gadget can help you list your notes for your genealogy research. In a library in CT and forgot to print out you "to do" list for genealogy? You can access your iGoogle page from a library computer and print out your list. Want to collaborate your findings with your fellow researchers or cousins? You can note your findings on your iGoogle page and share it! Better yet, you can even access your iGoogle page through your phone! Which is easier to carry- a laptop or a phone? And best of all, it is free!

Please take a look at the online videos through or Googling "igoogle."

Try it, you might like it!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Civil War Substitutes

Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. (AKA to southerners- the "War of Northern Aggression")There's a buzz in the genealogy world about Civil War Pension files being digitized. (Some widows' files are have been completed at And the National Parks' site has a list of events by state marking this anniversary.

Often when there's an anniversary like the Civil War some clever genealogist finds a way to promote and show a record collection that others didn't look at or think research to research in. I'll admit it-I am jealous of these people. The ideas and strategies that pop up often make me think, "Gee, I should have thought of that!" But I may have found one of those resources.

I've been studying my gr-granduncles' pension files. Four of them served in various regiments in the Civil War from the state of Connecticut. When the 135th anniversary of the Civil War came, I was lucky enough to find some great records in the card catalog at Connecticut State Library. One catalog held cemetery and death information for soldiers. Also found was a microfilm of money paid to the poor families of CT Union soldiers. But it wasn't putting "meat" on the uncles and I put the information aside.

Recently I decided to look for sources other than the pension records for these uncles. One of the items on my "to do" list was to look at the town records where my family lived. Let me tell you that was when the fun began.

At first these records seem mundane...50 cents for a tax abatement, money for the poor, money paid for road and bridge work. But once you look closer and compare the information to the Civil War pension records then all kind of things pop up!

In 1861 the town of Preston, CT paid Hannah Sholes money for boarding a poor lady. This was exciting for me because 5 years later one of my uncles boarded with her son who ran the home after his mother's death. The reason? The uncle was becoming ugly and threatened people. (The poor man was caught between Northern and Southern forces and had a percussion explode near his head.) Hannah Sholes' son later testified that he (my uncle) was fine before the war but wasn't the same after he returned home.

The Town of Ledyard listed bounty amounts for the volunteer soldiers from their town. One of my uncle's family received $30 in May and another $30 in August of
1861. There was also a line item that the town was compensated by the state of Connecticut for the soldiers' families in 1862. And money was paid to compensate one of the selectman for outfitting a poor soldier from the town serving in the military.

The best find was in Groton Connecticut. There, like in Ledyard and Preston, were reimbursements for families. But in the 1865 town record recorded a list of money paid to the substitute soldiers! (Even the librarians were surprised to see that!)

In all, these records hold a tremendous amount of information. Using the town records with the strategy of a timeline and a pension file can help you get the meat on all your ancestors!

Children and Genealogy

Many times I am asked about children and getting them interested in genealogy. "How do you get them interested?" is a common question I hear. It's not that difficult if you pay attention to the child.

1. Know the age of the child and what they are capable of doing. A four-year-old grandchild may be happy helping you putting flowers on the grave of your grandparents but at the age of eight may find it not interesting at all.

2. Know their likes and dislikes. A bookworm child may find the cemetery boring and the athletic child would be stifled in a library.

3. Take time to listen to them. You may be surprised that they are interested and may not express it.

4. Their interests change. One child may not be interested at first but may change their minds once they see/hear a sibling or cousin talking enthusiastically about the great adventures you have had.

5. Don't push. Not every child is ready to take a walk through an old town or cemetery.

6. Make it fun. Allow them to help you read microfilm or browse through a book at the library. Make up plays about the ancestors and have them act the play for the family using puppets, dolls, or other items.

7. Let them own their research. If you are lucky enough to have a child who is willing to help you, make two copies of what you both find. Chances are they'll remember the research if they are active and involved in the research.

8. Let them teach you. Ask them to show you slowly how to create a blog, scan a picture, or the newest technology trick. You'll be surprised how effective it is get their interest.

9. Let them use and have fun with the genealogy. Sometimes it is the little ones who can cut to the chase and make the ancestors come alive. Plays, posters, teas, and dress-ups are just a few ways that you can get them involved. Scan copies of your ancestors and let the children play with the scanned copies. The more familiar gr-aunt Blanche is to them the more interested the children may be in having fun with genealogy.

So what are you doing still reading this blog? Go out and have some fun with your children. And who knows, they may have some fun too!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Changes to my new blog

I'm hopeless! I tried to blog 365 and I only posted once on my new blog. Not enough time. Right now my genius of a husband is peppering me with suggestions for the blog. He had me chuckling with a reference about Monty Python's "Bring out your dead!" and "cemetery tales." I'm certain he'll think of something!

Meanwhile it is exciting to see how many people are eager to learn tools for research.I gave a talk last week and show the group some great things Google has for genealogists to use. For example, using their tools for maps I was able to create an interactive map for my students to use in the classroom. Check it out the link or click on the title of this blog

It was easy and fun to use.

Monday, May 31, 2010

I tried!

I tried! I wanted to do 365 days of genealogy but it didn't work! I plan to revamp my idea and try it again once school ends.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Blog!

I posted my new blog of 365 days of family history! It was created as a way to challenge me about my family and share the information I have with others. Visit Day one done, 364 days to go!
As expected I have learned that I will need a huge notepad. Just by posting my grandmother's information, I missed documents! Timelines and blogs will get results!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Little old ladies and genealogy

Yesterday I had a delightful time in Avalon NJ teaching genealogy to a group of seniors. They were a lot of fun and enthusiastic! The fact that they threatened to tie me down to a chair and hold me in genealogical hostage didn't matter. It was rewarding to teach a group of people with a common interest.

Which leads me to today's to get the most out of your genealogy. If you have the opportunity to teach others a technique or strategies you will learn something yourself.

For years I had my gr-gr-grandmother's death certificate. The person giving the information about her death wasn't clear. I knew the name was "Lilly Dart" because gr-gr-grandmother's youngest daughter was Lilly and married to a Dart. What made the name difficult to read was that something was written on top of "Lilly." When I showed the copy of the document to the class yesterday it dawned on me that the writing on top of "Lilly" was the beginning of Daisy-Lilly's older sister! I'm still not certain who gave the clerk the information but at least I was able to figure out the name!

The recommendation I gave to my participants is to always look at with fresh eyes or with a friend. Advice given and heeded as well!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Blog

On Tuesday I hope to unveil my new blog. I gave it a lot of thought and was inspired by the movie Julie and Julia. I hope to do it daily and have my information out there for others to see. I still plan to use this blog as my "teaching genealogy blog." After all there's always something new to learn.

I am teaching the basics of genealogy this weekend. It's hard for people to understand that there is more to genealogy than what is on the internet. By showing them how create genealogy charts to demonstrating the various documents genealogists use I hope I can make them understand howe this hobby is a rewarding one for them.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The smoke has cleared

After I posted my last blog I discoverd I had numerous ideas to blog! The format I decided upon will be a "sister" blog to this one. I will still post information to this one but will try to post my new one daily. Look for more information to be posted on this blog about the new one! :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Putting it together

One of the problems I am having is deciding how to best put my information together. A few years ago I compiled the family information with what I knew then and self published a booklet. There were many major mistakes with it including the lack of sources! Yikes! Nowadays I document everything-even if I find it on a website. Documentation is vital!

So I am pondering how to do this so that more people can view my information or collaborate with me. Do I submit it to a commercial paid site? Or do I try something different? I like different and am thinking of new ways to contribute to the genealogy world.Unique would be great.

Stay tuned as the smoke rises from Jersey as I ponder how to do this!

Monday, April 5, 2010


Too often we look at our old pictures and don't recognize the people in them. Sometimes the urge is to toss them. Don't despair, hang on to them.

Twice I had incidents where people had copies of the same pictures that I had. My husband's cousin in Idaho had a copy of the picture that my mother-in-law copied for me. My husband's grandfather identified the people in the picture. The cousin had no clue who the people in the picture were but thanks to Pop she now has the names.

Last week my cousin had two pictures that I already had. One was given to me by our great-aunt; the second was from my second cousin's family. Also in the pile of pictures was one of our greatuncle. This greatuncle's son only had one picture of his dad. Because he had that one picture, I was able to identify his dad.

Maureen Taylor writes a wonderful daily blog and for Family Tree Magazine. Each week she explains in great detail how to identify people through clothes and setting by using pictures she finds or have been sent to her. Visit her site at Maybe you too can find great hints about photos.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Historical and Genealogical Societies

Today I received a historical society's newsletter and marveled at the genealogical information loaded within the pages. Although they generate the letter with a historic perspective most times their pages contain tidbits of information to help genealogists. From items from their collections to upcoming events historical societies can be a valuable source for family historians.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Brickwalls or Dropped Keys?

Every genealogist has them...the proverbial brick wall. But are they truly brick walls? It is my opinion that they are no brick walls in genealogy but a case of trying to find the one key that unlocks the door.

We often use the basics-vital records, census, newspapers, and online sources to help us look for family. Are we looking at all the possibilities?There is so much more information in land records, court records, and other sources that we forget to look at them. Repositories hold vast collections and not everything is online. I often tell my students to compare sources online as being the size of one hand and the rest of your body is the information still waiting to be uncovered in archives, libraries, and other repositories.

As I mentioned in my other posting, I love timelines. Often when I am stuck on my research I'll go through and transcribe my findings. Many times I'll find something I missed when I'm compiling my information on the timeline.

So what's the best way to find those keys to the doors of information you want? Learn! We are life-long learners. Whether it is a sharing information through a blog or attending a conference you may find someone who has the "key" to the door you want to open. Attending conferences and genealogy meetings gets you off the Internet and meeting people with information. And sometimes it is the chance encounter that can help you solve your genealogical puzzle.

Another idea is to think outside of the box. Think the impossible happened? Other than aliens giving our ancestors a ride into outer space sometimes it is the impossible that is possible. I once heard a story where someone couldn't find their ancestors and followed a train route to only discover them at the end of the line.

So what are you waiting for? Get out your keys and start unlocking those doors.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Everything you have learned can be traced back to elementary school. You learned how to read, write, add and subtract in the primary grades. By the time you reached third or fourth grade you began to learn tools that carried you forward in life. Timelines are one such tool.

If genealogy had a beginner's primer, timelines should be the one technique that is taught. Timelines are wonderful for helping you learn and visualize place and time in history. Why not apply them to your family history?

I'm a huge fan of timelines. It's my favorite technique to use in genealogy research. And it's so easy to use.

Suppose you couldn't find the information you needed to get your research past your brick wall. By examining the information you do have and placing it in chronological order you will quickly realize that you have missing information. Whether it is a census record you never examined or a military pension you didn't order, you will discover that by utilizing a timeline your genealogy research may be back on track.

I format my timelines using a word document. I have used a spread sheet as well. Keeping it simple I create the first column for the date, the second column listing the event, and the third for the source where I found the information. By saving it on my computer, I can add or delete information by inserting rows. At the bottom of the document I keep a place for my notes which allows me to write what items I need to view the next time I'm at a repository or online.

I print my timeline and bring it with me if I'm in a repository that only allows paper. And by having it with me, I can spend less time looking for my notes and more time on genealogy research. The best part is that I can update my information when I get on my computer and email the timeline to others researching the same line or place it in my genealogy files.

There are millions of timelines online available for your use. There are templates to help you get fancy with your information and others that are straight forward. Don't overlook your genealogy software. Many come with features that allow you to create timelines.

Whether you make your own, or use an online site, you will realize that timelines will help your genealogical research.

Google Newspapers

If you haven't used Google News yet, I highly recommend it. Last year I heard Dan Lynch speak about this resource in Connecticut. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled over the back issues of the New London Day! (New London, CT 1880-1990) Although they haven't digitized the complete run I still was able to find over 100 articles on my family. I've learned new things about my grandmother that I never would have known. (Sadly I never knew her-she died before I was born.)

And pictures! I found two new photos of my grandmother's family-one of her brother and another of her cousin. I could definitely see the family resemblance!

The best way to access the search feature is to...
1. Click on "news" on the Google home page.
2. Next to the search box, click "Advanced News Search."
3. Once you are on the page, look for the "News Archive" and click on the link.
4. When the page loads look for "Advanced Archives Search" next to the search box and click that link on.
When I got to the Advance Archives search page, I just typed in my grandmother's maiden name and in the source box, I typed in "The Day."

I did discover one drawback. It doesn't always pick up all the names. In one search, I typed in my grandfather's first and last name. Twice his name was not coming up in searches when clearly his name should have. (I found his name in two articles with my grandmother's name.) Makes you wonder what else they are missing?!

Regardless its a great tool.Play around with it. It's lots of fun!

Genealogy shows

With all the excitement buzzing around about the new TV shows, I feel that genealogy may gain popularity comparable to the Roots series. It is exciting to see people discover their past and embrace it.