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. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

German Immigration Records: Hamburg, New Orleans and Ellis Island

On Tuesday March 29, 2016 Genealogy Insider by Family Tree Magazine Editor Diane Haddad posted a blog about German Immigration Records. The blog provides a helpful timeline regarding those that departed from Hamburg as well as providing the link to those records on  It also got me thinking about my German connections.   

My husband’s paternal grandfather came from Hamburg to Ellis Island only two generations ago, fleeing compulsory military service in an area claimed by both Germany and Russia that today lies in Poland. His lineage is difficult to discern in the geo-political jumble from whence he came with little family memory to provide clues.  Grandpa’s journey is recorded at departure from Hamburg on April 24, 1913 and his arrival 15 days later in New York.  He settled in Michigan and was naturalized in 1931.

On my maternal side, my German ancestors came through New Orleans, records also available on  At the age of 28 my 2x great grandfather Carl C. Raiffeisen came overland, likely by train, from the Rhineland near Cologne to Antwerp, Belgium in November 1849 and sailed to New Orleans.  He then took a steam ship up the Mississippi River to Booneville where he took horse and carriage to his final destination, a farm near Cole Camp in Benton County.  Within two years he had married and established his own farm in Morgan County near Syracuse.

The National Parks Service provides a list of resources from the U.S. Government and private sources for passenger records here, many of which are free.  There are a few listed that are new to me so I am looking forward to exploring new avenues to the past.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Be a Judge for National History Day (April 30th) in Columbia!

National History Day in Missouri is April 30, 2016!  The State Historical Society of Missouri is looking for volunteers for the judging team for National History Day in Missouri 2016.  

The state contest will be held April 30 at the University of Missouri in Columbia. The Society is seeking 150 volunteers to act as judges in both the junior division (grades 6-8) and senior division (grades 9-12).  

Support Missouri students as they express their passion for history through five diverse competition categories: documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, and website.

Top finishers will advance to represent Missouri at the national contest in the Washington, DC, area in June.

"What impressed me most about these young students was their combination of history knowledge and personal initiative."
—NHDMO judge

Judges will be provided a light breakfast, lunch, and a travel stipend of $50 for those living more than 40 miles from Columbia.

To sign up, visit or click Register Now.  

What is the Best Method for Long-term Photo Labeling?

A couple of weeks ago the Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, who was the Guest Speaker at the 2015 MoSGA conference, posted a “how-to” for electronically labeling photos.  We have all been there…staring at the box / book / pile of photos from our ancestors.  Sometimes it feels a little like Russian roulette, when with trepidation we turn over a photo to look at the back to see if just this time we will hit the jackpot and find a date and perhaps even names of those pictured.
Today we are faced with the modern concern of how to label our digital files in an era of ever-changing technologies.  Meta-data, tagging and many other options are out there but how do we chose the one that will last? Even the "best" option today may not be the one that lasts.  

The Legal Genealogist recommended a program and I just had to try it.  I've been trying it out on a few of my photos with large groups.  I love it!  IrfanView allows you to essentially place a text box above or below your photo so that you may add the details for your photo in a way that is visible.  My example will be in the next MoSGA Journal.  Feel free to share yours with us here.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

MoSGA Seeking Journal Editor

The position of MoSGA Journal Editor is now open!

The Journal is published quarterly.  The editor receives $250 for each completed version of the publication, which features transcriptions of Missouri records including county, church, Bible, and cemetery records of great interest to genealogists, historians or anyone with Missouri ancestry.  It also features historical and educational articles contributed by experts in the field. 

Please contact MoSGA President Tim Dollens at for more information or if interested in the position.  Come join the MoSGA team!

Get Ready! MoSGA's Annual Conference will be August 5-6, 2016

MoSGA is gearing up for the 2016 annual conference to be held at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center in Columbia, MO on August 5-6. 

Our keynote speaker will be John Colletta.  I was fortunate enough to meet John at the 2015 NGS conference in St. Charles.  He will be a great speaker for the MoSGA annual event!  

For more details check the MoSGA website.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Nominate Your Favorite Volunteer for One of Our 2016 MoSGA Awards!

Awards season has arrived in Missouri! Take this opportunity to shine the spotlight on those valuable volunteers that make societies survive and thrive! 

Visit our awards page to download a nomination form. Deadline is June 1, 2016.

All nominees must volunteer in a capacity that furthers genealogy and/or historical research in Missouri. The nominee need not be a member of MoSGA nor does the submitter.