Saturday, May 21, 2016

Searching for Military Records

In a recent article on Ancestral Findings details how the 1973 fire can affect military record availability.

Many U.S. Army or Air Force records (1912-1964) were destroyed at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, in a devastating fire on July 12, 1973.

The article explains how "over 6.5 million records were able to be recovered from the building after the fire, though they were in terrible condition. They were carefully dried, sprayed with mold repellant, and pieces of records that were charred began to be put back together in a painstaking, careful, and slow process."

At the 2015 NGS conference in St. Charles a representative from the Center provided a comprehensive explanation of what has been done to ensure veterans, historians and genealogists have access to the records. He explained that the only way to know for sure whether a record is available is to request it from the NPRC. More than 40 years later many records have yet to be scanned. Instead records are found, copied and preserved by request only.

Organizing with Evernote

Guru Lisa Louise Cooke has shared another helpful tip for using Evernote. A recent Genealogy Gems post detailed the process of organizing your notes into notebooks.

This is another tool I use daily.  The Evernote Web clipper is my best friend as I can quickly scan emails, articles or other Web information and save items I want to read later or add to my files quickly and easily. I use both tags and notebooks to organize my documents. Items are easy to move or delete which means you aren't stuck with keeping a lot of data you don't want. I tag data with multiple tags so that I can easily find it again with Evernote search.

Word Press Upgrades For IOS 6.1

On her blog Moultry Creek Gazette, Denise Olson recently explained the attributes of the Word Press app upgrade.  The app now allows users to "manage Publicize and third-party sharing using the app" and "manage comments using swipe gestures to approve, unapprove or trash them."  Additionally users can tag locations by using map search.

I use Word Press for my own blog and find it an effective platform. Even if you don't blog you can set up a free account and follow genealogy, history and local / regional blogs of interest to you.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

2016 FGS Conference Registration is Open

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) online registration is now open for the 40th Annual 2016 FGS National Conference, “Time Travel: Centuries of Memories” to be held August 31 — September 3, 2016, in Springfield, IL. Register by July 1, 2016, for the early-bird discount here.  visit the conference website for additional details. Also, follow the FGS Voice blog and by subscribing to the FGS Voice Newsletter to keep up with FGS events and conference details.

FREE Fold3 WWII Records 1-15 May

Fold3 is offering FREE access to all of its World War II records to honor veterans this Memorial Day.  Hurry!  Its available only through May 15, 2016.

2016 NGS Family History Conference this Week in Ft. Lauderdale, FL (May 4-7)

The 2016 National Genealogical Society Family History Conference is this week in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  Even if you cannot attend there are several ways you can participate.  The conference program is here.  NGS has a live stream option where several of the lectures will be available for online viewing.  Third, you can follow the event or your favorite presenter via Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase professionally-made recordings of sessions after the event from here.  I attended last year's even in St. Charles.  While there were many great lectures and events, Elizabeth Shown Mills blew me away with her presentation on how she traced her "lost relatives" through a combination of DNA and records.  I was overwhelmed with the information so I purchased the recording so I could go back to it and absorb more of the details of her process.

Finally, many nationally-known genealogists participate in the NGS conference so it is a great time to watch their blogs and websites for news and updates - sometimes gratis "conference extas" can be found.  This year's presenters include Lisa Louise Cooke, Dick Eastman, Pam & Rick Sayre and many others.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Is Pinterest a Useful Tool for Genealogists?

Pinterest, if you have never used it, is a social media site where individuals, groups or organization can post pictures and share them with the public.  As a user you can create boards on which you pin anything that interests you.  I have used Pinterest for a little over a year, but in searching recently have found a few gems.  Here are a few highlights:

  • Organizations such as the Library of Congress, GeneaBloggers, the Allen County Public Library and many other genealogy-related organizations post pictures and graphics.  You can follow their boards or simply create your own.  Many localities also have boards.
  • I have found Pinterest to be an excellent source for dating pictures by comparing my photo with ones on the site that have precise dates.  Additionally, you can often find photos or maps of specific locations in a given time-frame that can hone your research. I have maps of all the counties I research in Missouri on a board allowing me quick access when conducting my research.
  • While pictures are a great resource for genealogists, I have found numerous graphics explaining how to use a website or tool, but also succinct lists of event timelines. I have two - one of WWI and WWII that briefly list countries' entry into war and other relevant historical details that can help to pinpoint a fact as well as providing the context of your ancestors actions. 

While there are many tips on the best genealogy websites, methods of preserving or organizing your artifacts, I simply enjoy the ability to browse and find new things. You might just find the key to breaking through your brick wall might be a "pin" on someone else's board.  Happy Hunting!

Google Offering New Tool to Compete with Evernote & Trello

Google is announcing it has added a new item to its toolbox, called Google Keep.  I regularly use Evernote and Dropbox to keep and share my information so any time I hear of a new tool genealogists can use to quickly and easily save from the internet, I have to check it out. I downloaded Keep today and find it very easy to use, especially if you use Google Chrome as your primary web browser.

Family History Daily has a great how-to article on Keep here.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Ste. Genevieve to Celebrate the 29th Annual ÉCOLE de SOLDAT on April 23, 2016

29th Annual ÉCOLE de SOLDAT (School of the Soldier)
WhenSat, Apr 23rd, 9 am - 5 pm & Sun, Apr 24th, 9am - 12pm
WhereJour de Fete Grounds & Creole House Properties Historic District Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670 
image: Milice de Ste Famille (Redcoats) A  family-friendly, living history demonstration and encampment by French, British and Native American re-enactors. Come to see one of the “10 best undiscovered small cities” in the United States. Admission is free. For more details see here.

Registration is OPEN for MoSGA's 2016 conference!

Annual Conference, August 5-6, 2016

To Register for our Conference:
  • Click here to register online, using a credit card. Be sure to read the brochurebefore registering online so you understand the options.
  • To register by postal mail, print the brochure, fill in the Registration section, and mail in.

Apple's QuickTime for Windows Computers No Longer Supported & Could Pose Hacker Threat

On April 15, 2016, Kim Komando known as "America's Digital Goddess" posted an important message regarding Apple's decision to no longer support the Window's version of its program QuickTime.  Komando recommends removing the program from your computer and tells you how here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Greatest Genealogical Source: Newspapers?

Using newspapers as a genealogical resource is not a new topic, but access is changing...daily.  This month's Family Tree Magazine provides an up-to-date list of websites where newspapers can be found.  Here are a couple of examples in my own family tree where newspapers have been helpful and fun.  First, in my maternal great-grandmother's family, there were eight children who survived to adulthood, but one child died in when he was 25.  I have seen his gravestone in Sedalia, but no one in the family seemed to know how he died.  I found the facts in a brief newspaper clipping on the Library of Congress website Chronicling America.  From the October 22, 1899 evening edition of the Sedalia Bazoo:

Albrecht Raiffeisen died this morning at 9:50 o'clock at the M. K. & T. Hospital, of Typhoid fever. He was sick 33 days. The deceased was a well-known young man, nearly 25 years of age and for some time had been employed on the M. K. & T. work train. His three brothers, four sisters and father and mother survive him.

What a treasure trove of information in only three sentences!  On a lighter note, located on, from the August 26, 1890 edition of the Sedalia Democrat

Charlie Raiffeisen won second prize in the "largest and best" watermelon contest at the Missouri State Fair.  

Newspapers are an excellent source for finding interesting details about our ancestors daily lives. Most online resources are adding new pages constantly.  It can be a challenge to keep up, but you never know what gems you may find.  Happy hunting!

Happy National Library Week!

This week (April 10-16) is national library week.  Hooray!  There is nothing like the joy of getting lost in a book or two or twenty.  Ever since graduate school I seem to read multiple books concurrently often one fiction (usually murder mysteries for me), one inspirational/aspirational (often genealogy-based or business-related) and always history/biography.

I am a political scientist by trade.  I spent a decade in Washington, D.C. playing my part in politics and national security.  These days in particular I do not miss being in the thick of things as the "things" seem rather dire.  In an effort to to stay positive in an election year, I turn to my favorite author of American history, David McCullough.  I just finished The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris; a beautifully written story about Americans, many of whom today are renown artists, writers and inventors, but in the nineteen century were individuals trying to make their way in the world.  McCullough has a knack for telling stories that highlight not only those with names we recognize, but also those Americans of whom you might not have heard but have shaped the country and world we now inhabit.

When current events leave you frustrated or confused my advice is to take refuge in the past.  David McCullough has written of many great events (1776 & Johnstown flood), structures (Panama Canal & Brooklyn Bridge) and people, including Missouri's own President Harry Truman.  Check out his books from your local library. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

National Archives (NARA) is holding a Transcribe-a-thon on April 8, 2016!

On Friday, April 8 at 1 PM - 4 PM in EDT, NARA is holding a a Transcribe-a-thon where volunteers (that means you!) anywhere can transcribe  and win prizes graciously donated by the National Archives Foundation! 

You can register here.

21st Century Grant Deadline is April 30!

April 30 is the deadline to apply for a MoSGA 21st Century Grant of up $1,000. Does your local Missouri society have a project in mind but not enough funds to complete the project? A 21st Century Grant might just be the answer. 

Application and Guidelines are available on the MoSGA website.  To apply, use our online form, print it, and mail.