Saturday, July 23, 2016

Missouri History Encyclopedia

Many Missouri researchers may be aware of the great resource the six volume set of the Missouri History Encyclopedia.  Published 1901, the set is organized alphabetically with vol 1 (A-Ci), vol 2 (Ci-Ga), vol 3 (Ga-La), vol 4 (La-Nu), vol 5 (O-Sl), and vol 6 (Sm-Z).

There are a various websites that have the books digitized and I find it useful to go between the sources for maximum search options, especially with older books that do not have an index.  Ancestry has it here.  Ancestry is focused on people so if you know a specific name you can look it up with the search function.  That said, I don't find it easy to browse on Ancestry, instead I use Google books or  Google is great because you can type in any search query and may find page numbers for town, maps or other details you seek.  This set is on Google Books, but if  you do not find a book there, you can go to and download the full book via pdf, save it to your own computer and go directly to the pages you seek.

If you want a hard copy of one or all of these volumes reprints can be purchased on

Canada, Oh Canada!

My husband and I returned this week from a 2000+ mile trek to visit family in Ontario, Canada, where most of his family resides.  We spent last week helping to prepare his mother for a move into a new apartment and discovered a few genealogical gems along the way.  

I thought I would share some of the great Canadian resources I have found useful.  As in the United States, the Canadian Archives, divided by provinces, is an excellent place to begin or continue your research.  The Ontario website is informative and gives access to numerous free online databases. From the English homepage you are given the option to explore several viable avenues listed under "Family History" and "What We Have." Both of these subheadings lead to the many databases and research guides the province has to offer, which includes, birth, death, immigration and marriage records, maps and photos, as well as detailed collections for World War I, the War of 1812, Patents and Black History records.

Some of the other provinces are not quite as easily accessible online as Ontario, however; each has a genealogy or archive website where you can learn the best avenues for your research.
 British Columbia 
 New Brunswick
 Newfoundland & Labrador
 Nova Scotia
 Prince Edward Island

Happy Hunting!

Friday, July 08, 2016

Papers of the War Department 1784-1800

This past weekend I found a great new historical reference - well, new to me anyway.  George Mason University has yet another great source for American History. is a project of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media that has digitized documents from the U.S. War Department long-considered lost since November 8, 1800 when a fire nearly destroyed all records of the department.

The project and the results open a window to historians that shed light on numerous aspects of U.S. policy for which the War Department was responsible including Indian Affairs, Naval Affairs, Veterans Affairs, militia and regular Army.  You can follow the progress of the project by reading the blog here.

FindMyPast is Offering a 50% Off Special through July 15th

Genealogy website FindMyPast is offering 50% off their 1-month World Subscription through July 15, 2016.  The site is known for its United Kingdom offerings, but after acquiring Mocavo earlier this year has expanded its U.S. portfolio as well.  Check it out here.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Las Vegas Man Finds Copy of the Declaration of Independence

Here is another great story of why we shouldn't throw away old papers and photos! The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that a man discovered a rare piece of American history.  The story can be found here.

Missouri State Genealogical Association Announces Two 21st Century Fund Awards

MoSGA announces the granting of two 21st Century Fund Awards.  The 2016 award winners are:

Black Archives of Mid-America, Inc. will receive a grant of $496.80 for archival supplies to preserve the “Muhammad Speaks” Collection of over 100 newspapers dating from 1969 to 1985. “Muhammad Speaks” was one of the most widely circulated African American newspaper publications in the United States.  A finding aid will be placed on the Black Archives of Mid-America’s website.

St. Charles County Historical Society will receive a grant of $990.00 to purchase a scanner to digitize the many genealogical records acquired by the society when the Genealogical Society of St. Charles County merged with the St. Charles County Historical Society in 2009. The merger resulted in a large collection of genealogical materials. The Historical Society intends to organize, scan and place these records on the society’s website for researchers worldwide.

The awards will be presented at the MoSGA Annual Luncheon, Saturday, August 6th, during the Association’s Annual Conference, August 5-6, Columbia MO. Conference information is available on the MoSGA website. 

The 21st Century Fund was established in 2005 during MoSGA’s 25th Anniversary. Grants of up to $1,000 are offered to Missouri societies, libraries and/or archives to promote the preservation and publication of Missouri genealogical data. 

The 2017 grant cycle begins July 1, 2016. Grant application and guidelines are available here.

The 21st Century Fund is supported by generous donations from the genealogical community.  If you wish to make a tax deductible contribution, please send it to MoSGA, 21st Century Fund, PO Box 833, Columbia MO 65205-0833.  Thank You!

Martha L. Henderson, Chair

21st Century Fund Committee

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Genealogical Gleanings about Yourself

I had the good fortune to have dinner with a couple of friends visiting from the Netherlands this week.  Over the meal we caught up on our lives, a conversation that led to the discussion of aging parents, the artifacts of our lives and genealogy.  One of my dinner companions stated that he and his siblings had given their mother a book in which to record the details of her life.  The book interspersed facts with memories and questions about what life was like at each milestone.

It got me to thinking about the issue we all face - what about the details of our own lives?  Every time I head to Missouri I visit my parents and we often visit other relatives, cemeteries and go in search of yet another unanswered genealogical question.  Only in the last few years have I started talking to my parents about their lives and mine.  Even in the years I was at home, it has been valuable and fun to ask the questions such as why did you pick this land? this house? this town?  What made you decide to take this job? this car?  Their answers have provided a depth of understanding of my family during my lifetime, as well as before.

To get started look with your own life story check out Diane Haddad's Blog, Genealogy Insider the post from May 31, 2016 here.  It provides a list of 16 questions you should ask yourself.

Family Search History Books Accessible on the Digital Public Library

I use Google Search daily and find it especially helpful when I reach a brick wall in my research. Twice in the the last few months I found hits on Google that led back to sources in the Family Search library.  The sources I was seeking were history books written about a specific community, in this case Lindsborg, KS.

Then on June 22 on Diane Haddad's Blog Genealogy Insider announced that Family Search and the Digital Public Library had signed a deal to incorporate Family Search's digital library on DPL.  I have used DPL for several years and find it very user friendly and often has digitized version of books helpful to my research.

The DPL website catalogs more than 13 million digitized sources from libraries across the US.  Adding the Family Search collection with further ease access to these useful sources.  DPL is free, requiring only the creation of an account.

TIP: While I found the local history book I was seeking on Family Search, I quickly realized that - as with many local histories the book contained no index.  I decided to see if anyone else had done one for this substantive local source.  I discovered that indeed, the local historical society had indexed the book and in this case it was even online.  I suggest the next time you find a great source that has no index it is worth your time to look online and even contact the local historical society as they often maintain family files and thus, find it useful to provide an index to local resources.

Combining local resources with online discoveries often provides optimum results - saving you time and effort.  Happy Hunting!

The National Security Archive at George Washington University

One of the biggest challenges for a genealogist is to understand the context of history surrounding their ancestors' lives.  What was happening, how did it affect individuals and families and how did these events unfold?

A great source for gaining understanding of American history and international events is the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

According to the website:
Founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars to check rising government secrecy, the National Security Archive combines a unique range of functions: investigative journalism center, research institute on international affairs, library and archive of declassified U.S. documents ("the world's largest nongovernmental collection" according to the Los Angeles Times), leading non-profit user of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, public interest law firm defending and expanding public access to government information, global advocate of open government, and indexer and publisher of former secrets.
 What is music to the genealogist's ears is that the Archive provides "evidence-based research and primary source documentation."  There are no opinion pieces here, only facts gleaned from 
US Government documents. Through Freedom of Information and declassification requests the Archive provides insight into the events we and our ancestors may have experienced.

The website contains more than 450 "electronic briefing books" of newsworthy documents on major topics in international affairs.  You can gain access to the information by visiting the website, visiting the reading room on the GWU campus or checking to see if your local library subscribes to ProQuest which includes the Digital National Security Archive.  Finally you can subscribe to their email service that provides updates and information about their research here.

Friday, June 17, 2016

MyHeritage Releases New Family Chart — the Sun Chart

MyHeritage has released an innovative new type of chart — the Sun Chart — available for free to all MyHeritage users. Called the "Sun Chart," the main ancestor (selected by the user) is shown in the center of the chart, with multiple generations of descendants in outer concentric ringsIt can be classified as a descendant fan chart, but it isn't limited in the number of generations and is unique to MyHeritage in that it also includes photos, making it the only descendant fan chart with photos that you will find anywhere. 

The Sun Chart is designed to plot as many descendants as possible on the smallest chart possible. Charts that include hundreds or even thousands of people can now be prepared in this compact circular format and hung conveniently on the wall.

Non-MyHeritage users can easily import their tree to MyHeritage (as GEDCOM) and generate this chart. Check it out here.

TIP: Military Research Begins with the Service Historical Centers & Museums

This week I took the Military Records III: Post Civil War Course the IGHR  at Samford University in Birmingham, AL.  I learned how to identify and trace units; a vital piece to understanding any soldier or sailor's service.  

One of the best places to start your search is with the services historical centers.  All have research guides and tons of information online.

The Army's is in Carlisle, PA and can be found online here.
The Navy's is at the Naval Yard in Washington, DC and can be found online here.
The Marine Corps is in Quantico, VA and online here.
The Air Force is in Montgomery, AL at Maxwell AFB.  Details are here.

Last Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research held at Samford University

This week I have been attending the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research  (IGHR) at Samford University in Birmingham, AL. It was a real treat to attend this year as the program is moving to the University of Georgia in Athens, GA in 2017.

Samford University has been home to IHGR for 51 years and we were treated to a peek into some of the great history at last night's banquet with key note speaker Elizabeth Wells, who has been head of Samford Library's Special Collection Department for 38 years. 

The Collection is a rich source of Alabama and southern genealogical resources as well as a notable Irish history collection. If you are visiting the South or live here as I do don't miss this collection. It's open to the public.

Friday, June 03, 2016

News from May

May was a crazy time for my family.  My nephew graduated from high school in Aurora, MO and is headed to Mizzou in the fall.  My brother retired after 27 awesome years of teaching high school.  Then my husband and I celebrated his BIG birthday in Hawaii.  All the events required planes, trains and automobiles, which left little time for genealogy, so I have spent the last week trying to catch up. I found a couple of newsworthy items to share.

Check for recently added or updated collections.  A couple of them were jackpots for my research.  My Spencer family line represents my greatest brick wall; however; I found Elias Spencer's (G2 Grandfather) probate records (1852 & 1855) Crawford County (MO) were added to the Missouri Wills and Probate Records 1766-1988.  Not all of the records are indexed.  When I saw that Crawford County was included, I had to search page by page, but it paid off as I found part of his probate and a likely new relative named Nathaniel Spencer.

Another updated database, helpful to many Missourians with German heritage is the German Immigrants 1712-1933. When looking at this page you can check out the related databases that contain specific regional German records.

Finally, some World War II draft registration cards from the fourth round in 1942 have been added. These cards often provide little known details including occupation and employer, as well as family and address information.

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.