Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Who’s in the top ten overall listings? St. Louis, thank you very much:

“Drawing from a variety of available data resources, the America’s Most Literate Cities study ranks the largest cities (population 250,000 and above) in the United States. This study focuses on six key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources.”


Note: Kansas City is ranked No. 9 in the Library Support, Holdings, and Utilization category!


The latest round of bailouts isn’t the first time Uncle Sam has stepped in, and isn’t likely to be the last, either. But federal bailouts have sometimes proven to be very good investments:



Mark your calendars for the 2009 Owsley Family Historical Society Annual Meeting, June 11-13, Louisville, Kentucky

Details at our revised website.

Save the date, make plans, and tell your relatives we'll gather in Louisville in June for three days of Owsley/Ousley/Housley family sharing, history, and fun. We'll begin with the traditional Thursday evening dessert social--bring photos, new genealogical finds, and tall tales. Our outings include a very special visit to the Frazier International History Museum founded by Owsley Brown Frazier, Louisville philanthropist and former Vice-Chairman of the Brown-Forman Corporation. The Museum brings together two collections--the founder's priceless collection of historical objects--from the family Bible of Daniel Boone to the "big stick" of President Theodore Roosevelt AND displays and artifacts from Britain's Royal Armouries (including the Tower of London). The scope of the museum is from the Battle of
Hastings in 1066 (in which our ancestors took part) through Teddy Roosevelt's Presidency and his subsequent African safari--set in over 100,000 square feet of a restored historical building.

We'll also visit a gem for genealogical research, the Filson Historical Society's Library. The extensive collection focuses on Kentucky, the Upper South, and the Ohio Valley (gateway to westward expansion). Holdings reflect origin and destination states for the migrants: Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and
Missouri. The Library has over 3,500 family histories, nearly 4,000 Kentucky genealogy files, 840 newspapers, much original sheet music, and a Civil War collection. Open days: Monday through Friday and first Saturday.

An optional riverboat dinner cruise on the Ohio River is planned for Friday evening. Service is buffet style and there's an open bar. And we should be on the river for sunset.

As always, we end the annual meeting with our Saturday evening banquet. Come early, stay late--there's so much to do and see in Louisville. Sights include the Speed Art Museum, Kentucky Derby Museum, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Farmington Historic House Museum, and Locust Grove (last home of General George Rogers Clark
circa 1790-- and stopping point for Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their return from the Pacific).

Marion Baumgarten


If you’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano (or have a family member who does), but don’t have time for lessons (or money to buy a piano), there’s always freeware program Simple Piano to get you started:


Note: Always check downloaded programs with your security software before installing-- better safe than sorry!


If you’ve decided that you’d like to make movies of family reunions / holiday gatherings / vacations, etc, Kim Komando offers helpful tips for choosing quality affordable camcorders:


Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Department of Justice statistics on capital punishment in the U.S.:


Note: Did you know that there's a 92 year old man on Death Row (as of 12-31-2007)?


The website of the Office of the Pardon Attorney (that's the
President's pardon attorney, mind you):


There's also an A-Z of major pages within the website of the
Department of Justice:



That's Online Parish Clerks of Lancashire- meaning they're adding
transcriptions of Lancashire parish records on an almost daily basis:



Listings for the Burnham Cemetery (Howell County, Mo)-- courtesy of Lisa Budd:



Listings for the Epps Cemetery (Howell County, Mo)-- courtesy of Lisa Budd:



Tamura Jones recently posted some best genealogy blog awards. Congrats to Randy Seaver on his well-deserved Best Daily Genealogy Blog win for Genea-Musings. I’m thrilled to see that MoSGA Messenger won Best Genealogy Society Blog. While it’s certainly true that MoSGA Messenger is an official society blog, and also true that I have been sent ideas for possible posts by a number of MoSGA members, especially Journal Editor Bob Doerr, I in fact wrote the vast majority of posts appearing on the blog, and have done all the actual posting (1,628 at last count). So maybe knowing that somebody else is posting on close to a daily basis will help keep Randy posting at this year’s furious level in 2009…

Tom Pearson

The genealogy blogs recognized by Tamura include:

* Best Genealogy Society Blog: MoSGA Messenger
* Best Daily Genealogy Blog: Genea-Musings
* Deepest Genealogy Development blog: Louis Kessler's Behold Blog
* Best Commercial Genealogy Blog: The RootsMagic blog
* Best Genealogy Software News Blog: Geneanet Genealogy Blog
* Best Genetic Genealogy Blog: The Genetic Genealogist
* Best Genealogy on MacOS Blog: MacGenealogist
* Best Blog: 24-7 Family History Circle
* Funniest Genealogy Blog: The Genealogue

To read Tamura’s entire post, go here:

Randy Seaver's comments on the awards are here:

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Unique, high quality posters tailored to you and your family heritage-- for more information please visit:

Mark Meatte
Jacksonville, Florida

Note: I checked out Mark's site-- posters do look impressive!


Does your genie society or other organization need a marketing plan? Look no further-- free sample marketing plans and how-to articles:



That's right-- there's a Confederate cannon at Walnut Grove (Mo) High School. It weighs 1,186 pounds, and was cast at the Augusta foundry in Georgia. It's a 12-pounder Napoleon smoothbore (so-called because it fired round solid shot weighing approximately 12 pounds each). Fred Hall at Walnut Grove High School is spearheading a drive to restore the cannon's carriage to its 1863 appearance.

Periodicals mentioned in this blog are available at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri. Contact them if you'd like a copy of an article mentioned in this blog:


If you have British Columbian ancestors hanging on your tree, this will be great news: a large chunk of the archives (December 1850-June 1910) of the British Colonist newspaper (still publishing today as the Victoria Times-Colonist) is available online-- for free:



Tips for squeezing all you can out of a visit to a local center or to the big enchilada in Salt Lake City:



Fabulous exhibit at the Newberry Library runs until January 19, 2009- if you're to be in Chicago in the next few weeks, stop by and gawk:

"Artifacts of Childhood: 700 Years of Children's Books explores the Newberry's little-known collection of books and manuscripts created for and by children. The exhibition showcases aspects of the interaction between children and books and includes approximately 65 works, drawn from the Library's collection of thousands of children's books in more than 100 languages, from the fifteenth century to the

Artifacts of Childhood features such treasures as: the first illustrated edition of Aesop's Fables (1485); the first edition of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865); a nineteenth-century collectible story, La Fille de L'Exile, that is similar in format to Pokemon cards; and ABCs from 1544 to 1992.

These and other materials allow exhibit visitors to traverse time, space, and cultures to trace continuity and change within the history of children's books, to examine changing attitudes towards children and childhood, and to understand the importance of the study of the history of childhood through children's books."


Friday, December 26, 2008


This guide may prove helpful to researchers who need to check between years when the federal census was enumerated:

Genealogy Research Guide - State Census Records



You'll be able to in 2009-- dozens of new books about Mr. Lincoln are in the publishing pipeline:



Which state has the best claim to Abraham Lincoln bragging rights:

Kentucky, where he was born and spent his early childhood;

Indiana, where he lived from ages 7 to 21;

or Illinois, where he worked as an attorney and made a political name
for himself?

An Indiana newspaper columnist says it's Indiana-- what do you think?



If you (or someone you know) could use a brief but well-written and balanced intro to the life of our 16th president, look no further-- James M. McPherson has come through for you:



Carolyn Barkley turns her attention to death records in this week's new article on the Genealogy and Family History blog. Have you tapped into all the sources of death records pertaining to your ancestors? Are you using them effectively? Visit the blog today and find out!


Thursday, December 25, 2008


The Independence (MO) Family History Center has closed its doors as of December 20, 2008. The over 7,000 films on indefinite loan, plus microfiche, will be moved to the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri, on December 26, 2008. They will be available for viewing at the MGC after that date. Patrons will be able to continue to borrow microfilms and microfiche from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City on indefinite as well as short-term loan in the new location. The Midwest Genealogy Center has been an affiliate library with the Family History Library for many years and looks forward to providing extended services for the Family History Center patrons.

Midwest Genealogy Center

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


If you could ask any ancestor one question, what question would you ask which person?



It sounds difficult and laborious, but there are easy ways to go about it:



The last days of the Father of Our Country:



This war was a crucible in which many future Civil War luminaries would be tested:



Alaska celebrates 50 years of statehood during 2009 (it joined the Union in 1959):


Saturday, December 20, 2008


From Genealogy Pointers (12-16-08)


(Sale prices in effect until 11:59 PM, EST, Monday, December 22, 2008)

There is still time to take advantage of our 15% HOLIDAY DISCOUNT. From today through 11:59 PM, EST, Monday, December 22, 2008, you can order any of the books(s) or CD(s) available on our website at a discount of 15% off the current selling price.

To take advantage of this special holiday discount, simply add the SPECIAL CODE word HH08 (all caps, with no spaces) in the Discount Coupon Redemption Box on the "Calculate Shipping and Discounts" page of the check-out process.

You can use your special HH08 discount code as many times as you like, so long as you place your final order by 11:59 PM, EST, Monday, December 22, 2008.

Order now and save on:

* Our complete collection of CDs:

* Over 50 books already reduced in price by 50% for the holiday season:

* Any of the 2,000 Genealogical Publishing Company or Clearfield Company books on our website, including the selected titles in our 50%-off sale now in progress:

Best wishes for a joyous holiday season!



If you are beginning to accumulate a fair amount of paper in the early stages of your research, it's probably time to take stock of what you have and how you plan to organize it--even before you enter the information into a computer database--lest you start drowning in an ocean of paper. Our popular author, Bill Dollarhide, has formulated four simple rules for organizing notes and documents:

1. Use one size of paper for all note-taking---preferably standard 8 ½ x 11 sheets.
2. Separate sheets by the surname of interest. If more than one surname is discussed, make additional copies for those families.
3. Create a surname notebook to store the sheets, and divide the book into sections for the place of origin of the records.
4. Give every sheet a number, so that you can make an index to the records.

Mr. Dollarhide develops each of these tips in detail in his popular book, MANAGING A GENEALOGICAL PROJECT. Making excellent use of charts and tables, he goes on to explain the three main types of descendancy numbering systems for genealogy:

the Register System;
the Record System;
and the Henry System.

Mr. Dollarhide explains the pros and cons of each system and proposes his own technique for combining Ahnentafel numbering with the Henry System.

MANAGING A GENEALOGICAL PROJECT also offers a number of other suggestions for organizing your family history data--with or without a computer. You learn how to solve the paper collection problem, how and how not to take notes, and what to do with your correspondence. One of the most important features of the book is the collection of "Master Forms" (relationship chart, research log, ancestor table, etc.), which you can photocopy over and over again, to enter and organize the information you gather by hand.

So, if you don't know a database from first base and you are wondering how to pull it all together, MANAGING A GENEALOGICAL PROJECT could be the perfect answer to your problems.


The following books also offer suggestions for organizing your genealogy project:


This book shows you how to get started in your family history research; how to organize your family papers; how to enter information into a genealogy computer program so that you can easily manage, store, and retrieve your data; how to analyze the data and place it in various tables, charts, and forms; and how to put together a family history notebook--all the while using conventional records sources with a modern search and retrieval system. This ground-breaking book is also designed as an instructional manual, complete with chapter assignments to serve as review and comprehension checks, computer checklists to give the reader hands-on experience with his or her own genealogy computer program, and website addresses listed at the end of each chapter to guide the reader to valuable Internet resources related to the topics.



Val Greenwood's third edition to his classic text incorporates the latest thinking on genealogy and computers, specifically the relationship between computer technology (the Internet and CD-ROM) and the timeless principles of good genealogical research. It also includes a new chapter on the property rights of women, a revised chapter on the evaluation of genealogical evidence, and updated information on the 1920 census. Arguably the best book ever written on American genealogy, it is the text of choice in colleges and universities or wherever courses in American genealogy are taught.



The National Genealogical Society Bookstore Year-End Inventory Reduction Sale is now in progress:


Select titles are in limited supply, so shop today! For example:

Long Island Genealogical Source Material;
Genealogical Data from the New York Post Boy, 1743-1773;
Lord Mayor’s Court of London Depositions Relating to Americans, 1641-1736;
New York City Court Records 1684-1760;
New York City Court Records 1760-1797;
New York City Court Records 1797-1801;
New York City Court Records 1801-1804;
Petitions for Name Changes in New York City, 1848-1899;
Nineteenth Century Apprentices in New York City;
NGS Genealogical Puzzles.

Best prices for members, but non-members also get a great discount!


Yes, Emma Edmonds really was a woman, but she fooled the Confederates she was assigned to spy on into thinking she was a man again and again:


Note: Emma served as a soldier for a time during the war. So how did she pass the physical exam, you ask? In most jurisdictions, soldier candidates were examined fully clothed: they were really only checked to be sure that they had trigger fingers, an eye to aim with, and their two front teeth (they needed them to bite open black powder cartridges).


Probably not-- but many people are being buried with their cell phones anyway:



By giving you access to a special Plus edition of his online newsletter-- for free (access is free until Christmas Day):



- (+) How to Obtain Information from the 1940 and Later Census Records
- (+) Every Tradition Has a Story by George G. Morgan
- (+) Resources for Revolutionary Georgia & Sleuthing Methods by Lloyd Bockstruck
- (+) Sources to Try: Something Old, Something New by Lloyd Bockstruck
- Google Your Family Tree
- National Archivist Allen Weinstein Resigns
- Help Wanted: TV Show Staff Genealogist
- Bogus E-mail Warning Messages
- Update: Scam: An Online Anti-virus Scan
- Familybuilder Debuts Familybuilder DNA Tests
- The Victoria (B.C.) Times Colonist Back Issues to Go Online
- Schindler’s List & Holocaust Database Amongst 300+ Historical Jewish Collections Launching Free Online
- Video: The Mysteries of DNA
- Know Your Family's Medical History, Know Your Risk
- Jefferson County Newspaper Indexes now Online
- Simon Fowler joins Pharos
- Is a $400 Netbook Useful?


What databases has added to its website in 2008? A very good list at the 24/7 Family History Circle blog:



Well, I would certainly leave for Scotland tomorrow if I could...

My wife and I spent a week in Scotland in 2000, and it was simply wonderful. Friendly people, beautiful scenery, good food, and so easy to get around-- you don’t know how lousy our public transport system is in the U.S. unless you’ve been to Europe. We were able to get nearly anywhere we wanted to go quickly and inexpensively by bus or train.

Anyhoo, if you’re researching Scottish ancestors, this blog post on online sources for Scottish maps should prove extremely helpful:


Note: We want to get back to the U.K. at least once before we shuffle off this mortal coil. My wife wants to see London and some ancestral sites in Wales, and I want to see London, Cornwall, and a town called Dudley-- the ancestral home of my Pearsons.


The Federal Trade Commission just published (December 2008) a lengthy report on the topic:



How are newspapers using the Internet to increase readership / revenues? This report has some answers:


Note: Some of the routes newspapers are taking to try to increase readership / revenues appear to be potentially relevant for genie societies that are trying to increase memberships / use of webpages…

Friday, December 19, 2008


A British traveler’s impressions of the USA in 1883:



Charles Darwin and many fellow English scientists of the 19th century were fascinated by the dinosaur bones, teeth, and coprolites (fossilized dinosaur dung) then being discovered in various areas of Great Britain:



For our men and women in uniform during this holiday season:



Posted by Linda Koch, Reference Librarian at Allegan (MI) Public Library, on GeneaLib:

“There is a wonderful online PowerPoint presentation on how to use HeritageQuest by Edwina A. Morgan, Special Collections Librarian at The Library of Michigan:

At Home with Heritage Quest 2008

This presentation was done at a workshop in 2008 at the Library of Michigan. I was surprised at how many Michigan librarians had never used HeritageQuest. If I had to pick either Ancestry or HQ, Ancestry's larger databases would win hands down, but HQ offers some unique resources and has all the census years. Granted, the lack of an index for 1930 and some other census years is a drawback, but many times Ancestry or HQ will have different quality images or different transcriptions of the same entries. The Native American translations of names in both are often wrong, and a few times one or the other has omitted an entry, especially when a household is continued on the next census page. I use both and search both to cross check names when compiling a surname record, and I sometimes have found "lost" people for patrons who had searched Ancestry but not HQ.

In the books section of HQ, photos of buildings and detailed scenes are often darkened to a point of being useless when compared to the photos in the original book, but many of the books are difficult to find in most collections and offer search capabilities.

I hope that this is helpful. Edwina Morgan has done a commendable job of hitting the main points.”


Linda Koch
Reference & Adult Services Librarian
The Allegan Public Library
331 Hubbard St.
Allegan, MI 49010
269-673-4625; FAX 269-673-8661
open: M-Th 10-9; F & Sa 9-5:30


Pay just $59.97 for this office suite that includes Word 2007, Excel 2007, Access 2007, Groove 2007, PowerPoint 2007, Publisher 2007, OneNote 2007, InfoPath 2007, and Accounting Express 2008-- but only if you meet these preconditions:

“You must have a valid e-mail address at an educational institution ending with the domain suffix .EDU (ie, OR have a valid email address at one of the educational institutions listed here.


You must be a student at a U.S. educational institution and must be actively enrolled in at least 0.5 course credit and be able to provide proof of enrollment upon request.”


Thursday, December 18, 2008


A description of an archive, not a transcription of its records:

Ancient French Archives Or Extracts from the Minutes of Council Relating to the Records of Canada While Under the Government of France by Quebec (Province) 1763-1791. Legislative council, Quebec (Province) 1763-1791. Committee on Ancient French Records, Fran├žois Joseph Cugnet, Samuel Neilson. Compiled by Fran├žois Joseph Cugnet. Printed by Samuel Neilson, 1791. [Original from Oxford University. Digitized Sep 24, 2007. 99 pages.]



Find a blue USPS mailbox near you:



Uncle Sam’s guide to federal benefit programs:



Need a statistic of some sort that’s likely to be kept by a federal government agency? FedStats can help, even if you don’t have a clue which agency compiles that statistic:


List of federal agencies that compile statistics available to the public:



Uncle Sam wants you to be a savvy merry-maker:



Department of State has launched a new website on this subject:


Adoptions in the U.S., 1998-2008:


Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Pioneer Traces (July 2008) includes a transcription of Mercer County residents on the 1883 federal pension roll. Most are Civil War veterans or their widows, although a number of War of 1812 widows listed (and one War of 1812 survivor, Thomas R. Kirk). There are 108 pensioners listed. Of this total, 85 are veterans and 23 are the widows, mothers, or fathers of a veteran.

Periodicals mentioned in this blog are available at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri. Contact them if you’d like a copy of an article mentioned in this blog.


The South Central Missouri Genealogical Society Newsletter 28 (April-June 2008) has an article about the explosion that leveled the Bond Dance Hall in West Plains, Missouri on 13 April 1928. 37 died and 22 were injured by the explosion, the cause of which is undetermined to this day. Some people thought it was an accident: the dance hall was located above the Wiser Motor Company, where gasoline was stored. There was also some speculation that the explosion was deliberately caused by someone opposed to dancing. The dead ranged in age from 17 to 68.

This newsletter also includes an article titled Early Newspapers of West Plains, Missouri. The article notes that the plant of the West Plains Journal was destroyed by fire in 1907. While the owner, J. A. Truex, was insured and thus able to rebuild, the article notes that files were lost in the fire that “would have been a complete and accurate history of the county’s progress for 55 years, and their value cannot be estimated.”

Periodicals mentioned in this blog are available at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri. Contact them if you’d like a copy of an article mentioned in this blog.


“These case files consist of 100 court actions in which Meriwether Lewis, William Clark or other members of the Corps of Discovery are defendants, plaintiffs, or play a prominent role. The majority of cases are disputes concerning promissory notes, debts, and the payment and assignment of notes and debts.”



“These case files consist of 32 court actions that mention Native Americans. The cases primarily involve trade disputes that refer to various tribes living in or around the territory and later state of Missouri.”


Tuesday, December 16, 2008


“These case files consist of 82 court actions that bring the international St. Louis fur trade to life. Fur trade proved to be one of the most profitable undertakings for the territorial entrepreneur. The abundance of animal pelts encouraged a number of colorful characters to move up and down the Mississippi Valley region, playing a key role in the settlement and development of the Upper Louisiana area. St. Louis dominated the Upper Louisiana fur trade; several successful companies, including the famous Missouri Fur Company of Manuel Lisa and partners, were in business there. Unique to the collection are a number of cases that reference Native American tribes and subsequent interaction with fur trades. The cases primarily involve trade disputes, many of which refer to various tribes living in or around the territory, and later state, of Missouri.”



“The suits described in this finding aid were brought by or on behalf of persons of color held in slavery within the St. Louis area from 1814 to 1860. These case files remain part of the larger St. Louis Circuit Court Case File Records Series and are presented here as an artificial, subject-oriented records series to facilitate research in a distinctive area of national, regional, and local history.

All records were created in the course of business by the Circuit Court, its inferior courts, and predecessors as provided for by federal and state law. Upon the separation of St. Louis City and St. Louis County as provided for in the 1875 constitution, the city retained custody of all court records previously produced. These records have remained in the custody of the St. Louis Circuit Court since that time, both in the historic Old Courthouse (constructed 1839-1852) and the Civil Courts Building (constructed in 1930). The records are now housed at the Missouri State Archives-St. Louis.”



Go here for the rest of the story:


FEDERAL MORTALITY SCHEDULES 1850-1880 has them online. You can search the index for free, but you need to be a subscriber to see results.


Saturday, December 13, 2008


Whether you need the services of a mortuary right away, or if you’re just looking for the home that has a file on a dear departed, this site offers lists of funeral homes in all states:


Note: Listings provide mailing address, phone number, and (in some cases) the name, mailing address, and phone number of a nearby florist.


National Archives -- Northeast Region, New York City
Press Release, December 8, 2008


National Archives — New York To Open Records of the State Districts of New Jersey and New York, Provost Marshal General's Bureau (Civil War), 1863-1866.

The Northeast Region's New York City office announces the receipt of over 1,400 volumes of Civil War records previously held in Washington, DC. These volumes document arrested deserters, men enrolled for the draft, enlisted volunteers, and compiled statistics on the physical condition of recruits and military casualties for New York and New Jersey.

"These heretofore obscure records are now available to a wider audience," explains Patrick Connelly, archivist and Civil War expert at the National Archives - New York. "Their use will dispel historical myths, bridge gaps in family histories, and build on our knowledge of communities during the Civil War."

Record Group 110: Records of the Provost Marshal General's Bureau will provide significant insight into the Civil War era for historians and for genealogists alike. The records cover New York (1861-1868) and New Jersey (1861-1868) and are arranged by draft board. The New York volumes consist of records from 31 districts, records for several state mustering points, and records of the Park and Broome Barracks of lower Manhattan. The New Jersey volumes consist of records from 5 districts, staff offices, and the Draft Rendezvous Station at Trenton.

While the detail within the records varies from district to district, they can be simply described as lists, reports, ledgers, and correspondence. Specifically, these records may include Registers of Enlistments, Substitutes, and Deserters; Descriptive Lists of Men Ordered To Report for Duty; Registers of Exemptions; Letters Regarding Medical Examinations of Draftees; and Letters Regarding Service. These series will include both those that served and those that didn't serve in the military. Information about the individuals may include names, ages, occupations, physical and mental characteristics, birthplaces, and family relationships. Additionally, essential information concerning freedmen and the New York Draft Riots are included in several series.

These records will be available for public use on December 8, 2008.

The National Archives welcomes the general public, historians, genealogists, Civil War enthusiasts, and students to research these essential documents of our past. While the microfilm and online resources are available at all times, researchers are requested to make an appointment to use the original documents of Record Group 110.

The National Archives is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 4:30 pm, and the first Saturday of each month 8:30 to 4 pm (computer and microfilm research only). The National Archives and Records Administration - New York office is located at 201 Varick Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY, 10014.

More from the National Archives:

Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (RG 110)


# # #

For additional information, please contact the National Archives at 866-840-1752 or e-mail:


Did you know that this item is now available full-text online?

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995. 3 volumes, 2428 pages.



There’s a large group of guides and finding aids on the NARA website designed to help persons using NARA’s regional branches (like Kansas City [Central Plains Region] or Chicago [Great Lakes Region]):


Here’s what’s available for Central Plains Region:

NARA's Central Plains Region (Kansas City)
· How to use ARC to search for records here
· Guide to Archival Holdings in the Central Plains Region (Kansas City, MO)
· Alien Records (RG 21 and 147)
· Chinese Immigration
· Land Records (RG 96)
· Leavenworth Penitentiary, Name Index to Case Files, 1895-1931(RG 129)
· Leavenworth Soldiers Home (RG 15)
· Native American Records (RG 75)
· Naturalization Records

Friday, December 12, 2008


If you're headed for Old Blighty, and will be in the Manchester area at some point, this may prove of interest:

News from the Police Museum:

The last opening will be Tuesday 9 December 2008. The Museum will close then until the New Year.

GMP Museum & Archives
57a Newton Street
Manchester M1 1ET.

Tel: 0161 856 3287 Email:

Please note this number is for contacting the museum only. To contact the police please ring 0161 872 5050.

Admission Free
Open Tuesday 10.30am to 3.30pm
Last admission at 3.00pm
Other weekdays by appointment for group visits
Closed weekends and public holidays

Please allow 1.5 hours for your visit.
All group visits must be by prior arrangement
Recommended maximum group number 20.

The Museum has access ramps, lift, unisex toilet for visitors with disabilities, Souvenir Shop and toilets.

No refreshments or parking available on site, but please ask about disabled parking.

The museum is a ten minute walk from Piccadilly Railway Station, Bus Station and Piccadilly Gardens Metrolink.


If you’ve got kids below college age, and want to help them keep safe online, you may want to check out the BnetSavvy web site:


You may also want to visit Great Web Sites for Kids:



Academic presses are discovering that they aren’t the only game in town anymore when it comes to the wide distribution of the ideas of academic researchers:



The book that inspired the movie by Stanley Kubrick starring Kirk Douglas:

Paths of Glory: Impressions of War Written At and Near the Front (ca. 1915), by Irvin S. Cobb (Project Gutenberg text):



If you live in, or happen to be in St. Louis on New year's Eve:

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 to Thursday, January 01, 2009
Location: Grand Center
Hours: 6:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m.

First Night® – St. Louis Rings in the New Year with a “Kaleidoscope” of Sights and Sounds in Grand Center

A “Kaleidoscope” of colors, lights, music and dance unfolds on New Year’s Eve in Grand Center for First Night® – Saint Louis, the annual visual and performing arts festival that celebrates the coming of the New Year.

The opening ceremony kicks off at 6 p.m. Wednesday, December 31, at the main stage. Activities and performances continue into the New Year in a diverse mix of colorful, multi-cultural sounds and images, resulting in a vast array of artistic interpretations coming together to create an even more beautiful whole. Grand Center’s streetscapes, parks, churches, theaters and performance centers open their doors for more than 70 indoor and outdoor presentations and activities.

The “Kaleidoscope” celebration culminates in a fireworks display at 9 p.m. and a Grand Finale at midnight.

Grand Center is working in collaboration with Craft Alliance and The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts to provide large-scale art installations, including pieces from The Pulitzer Foundation’s widely popular, The Light Project, and the unveiling of Craft Alliance’s completed 12-foot-high mosaic rabbit sculpture.

Revelers can also enjoy world music at the Sheldon Concert Hall and partake in creatively identifying their place of origin on a large map of the world. Visitors will also be invited to make wishes for the New Year, resulting in a stained glass effect.

With the purchase of an admission button, revelers gain access to all that First Night® – Saint Louis has to offer. Buttons will be sold at the event for $10 for adults and $5 for children. Plenty of parking will be available.

First Night, produced by Grand Center, Inc., continues to be made possible through the generous funding of St. Louis corporations and foundations, including this year’s presenting sponsor, Edward Jones.

Cost: $5 for children under 12 and $10 for adults


Contact: Susan Wedemeyer
Phone: 314-289-1591


Loren Schweninger, ed. The Southern Debate over Slavery, Volume 2: Petitions to Southern County Courts, 1775-1867. Urbana University of Illinois Press, 2007. ii + 397 pp. $60.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-252-03260-8.

Reviewed by Michael Taylor
Published on H-CivWar (November, 2008)
Commissioned by Matthew E. Mason

Between Myth and History: Letting the Past Speak For Itself

Mainstream Americans enjoy their history in black and white. And why wouldn’t they? It is normally filled with moral story lines of liberty versus tyranny that make the retelling easily understandable. Such tales also glorify their country as a monolithic empire, ordained by a supreme being that sets an example of freedom, truth, and justice to the rest of the world. Yet, in contrast, the true story of the American nation is radically different from the popular perception. The best demonstration of this adage is South Dakota’s iconic Mount Rushmore where, on one side of a mountain, the busts of four U.S. presidents majestically ponder the nation they helped to create. Though these men are considered the "quintessential" Americans, they were inherently flawed individuals whose essential humanity was also at the heart of their significance.

Few subjects within the panorama of the American past have been more muddled by popular mythmaking than slavery. Since the conclusion of the Civil War--if not earlier--Americans have been taught only the inhumanity involved, which applied to every slave owner on every plantation in every instance. Since the groundbreaking 1974 book Time On the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery by Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman, coupled with the scholarship of Peter Kolchin and James Oakes, history has offered a much more complex historical picture. The Southern Debate over Slavery: Volume Two-– Petitions to Southern County Courts 1775-1867, edited by Loren Schweninger, Rosenthal Excellence Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, does much to improve our understanding of the most controversial issue of the American past by allowing the primary sources to tell the tale.

In his introduction Schweninger never allows the reader to misunderstand or misinterpret his most important axiom--that the people at the center of these petitions were assets on a ledger and, thus, subject to the same regulations that governed such personal property as farm animals or equipment. Among the best examples is the case of Kentucky plantation owner Lucien Fiemster who filed a claim insisting that a farmer pay damages of $140,000 for failing to return to slaves he "borrowed" and kept in neighboring Arkansas (pp. 140-142). In another case, Louisiana plantation owner James Thompson sued the master of a ship for $1,000 for stealing his property, a “quadroon slave woman Mary Jane” (pp. 194-195). Finally, there is the case of a trio of Alabama plantation owners who brought a suit against an overseer for $1,000 in damages due to his negligence in allowing a group of slave children “to remain without any blankets or other bed clothing, to protect them from the cold of winter” (pp. 282-283). In each of these cases the word "person" never appears, only "property.”

However, the most captivating aspect of this book is how the petitions chosen not only walk the reader through the legal process, but also maintain the primary focus on the nature of the plaintiff’s immediate circumstances. Whether it was slaves arguing for their emancipation, or chipping away at the legal restraints, this aspect of the story is more a mosaic than a linear tale of history. Among the most intriguing petitions is the 1804 case of a South Carolina slave named Peggy who, due to her ability to earn the necessary funds to do so, sued for the right to buy her freedom. Another is an 1829 case in which the Louisiana slave Pressy attempted to hold his family together by demanding an “act of retrocession” that would forbid his master to sell either his children or their parents until they had reached the age of 16. Lastly, there is the 1857 case of a plantation owner who died without children and had instructed in his will that his slaves be freed, in which the slaves not only demanded that their former master’s wishes be honored, but that they each receive a sum from his estate.

In contrast, the legal matters concerning the slave masters centered primarily upon resistance and punishment which, in the end, involved violence. One disturbing petition involved a Kentucky plantation owner who sued for damages to his slave, whose worth had been lessened after being beaten with “implements of torture.” In turn, William Collins, who captured the runaway slave countersued for injuries he suffered in so doing, and also for “improper visits” made by the slave to the wife of a neighbor (p. 310). Another is the 1858 petition of Ezekiel Mills who sought damages from a couple who sold him a domestic slave who “abused and inflicted great bodily pain” upon the plaintiff’s infant children (p. 328). Finally, there is an interesting 1826 petition from Charles Stewart, who sought $2,000 in damages from a Louisiana plantation owner for injuries sustained “from the assaults and wounds inflicted by the negroes” (pp. 132-133). These petitions are compelling demonstrations of the undercurrent of this collection: the measures taken to keep an entire race of people in bondage for the benefit of local and state economies. In turn, it becomes clear how such circumstance created a society that thrived on inequity, which then fostered fear of the inevitable moment when such legal restrictions would no longer apply.

Yet, there are other petitions within this volume that provide breadth and depth to our understanding of chattel slavery in America. As a careful read of the petitions reveals, relations between owner and slave were not as simple or clear-cut as some contemporary histories would like the public to believe. It is apparent that there were regional differences in the very nature of the cases, especially during the 1850s. In the Deep South, for example, petitioners were concerned almost exclusively with the maximum value of their chattel property and, thus, their cases focus on damages; on the other hand, those in the Upper South took the same interest in their bottom line, but their petitions include personal assessments of their slaves’ treatment and well-being. Divorce petitions between interracial couples reveal the degree of social stigma attached to such unions, which often led to serious cases of domestic cruelty. The sale of slave children was another feature of slavery, and the pain of separation was suffered by parents and children alike. Mere paragraph summations cannot do justice to these brutal realities of the system, which utterly expose the myths regarding slavery.

For Civil War historians specifically, the intricate picture of slavery presented within this volume must not be taken lightly. Popular presentations on the subject tend to be stereotypical and shaped into narratives with either/or scenarios that ultimately lack any breadth of vision or depth of understanding. Schweninger has
edited this volume in a manner which allows all sides, literally, to state and defend their case and, in the process, provides historians with a multidimensional view of an issue that led to the splintering of the country along sectional lines. This is not myth, interpretation, or representation. It is a convoluted, chaotic, yet
moving document of a time when human beings owned other human beings and were more than willing to destroy both their nation and themselves in defense of that right. Rarely does history get more compelling than this.

The most salient aspect of the book is that the editor allows an unpleasant piece of the American past to speak for itself. These petitions involve real people under the duress of bondage attempting to free themselves from the yoke of others' will. This volume provides the reader with insight into the true nature of the "peculiar institution” without the intrusion of intermediaries claiming possession of the key to the door the past. This reviewer highly commends the editor of this book for taking the obligatory time and care in his selections, for he has made a vital contribution to primary source scholarship. For serious scholars of both American
slavery and pre-Civil War America this volume is essential.

Citation: Michael Taylor. Review of Schweninger, Loren, ed, The Southern Debate over Slavery, Volume 2: Petitions to Southern County Courts, 1775-1867. H-CivWar, H-Net Reviews. November, 2008.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


If you already use The Master Genealogist program, you can combine it with the Second Site program to make great-looking genealogy web sites the easy way:



A discussion, and recommendations for ancestry testing by the American Society of Human Genetics:



Need help making a big decision, or wish that there were some way to logically narrow down your choices? Now there is (and it’s a free download):



Cyber Security Tip ST07-001: Shopping Safely Online

Online shopping has become a popular way to purchase items without the hassles of traffic and crowds. However, the Internet has unique risks, so it is important to take steps to protect yourself when shopping online.

Why do online shoppers have to take special precautions?

The Internet offers a convenience that is not available from any other shopping outlet. From the comfort of your home, you can search for items from countless vendors, compare prices with a few simple mouse clicks, and make purchases without waiting in line. However, the Internet is also convenient for attackers, giving them multiple ways to access the personal and financial information of unsuspecting shoppers. Attackers who are able to obtain this information may use it for their own financial gain, either by making purchases themselves or by selling the information to someone else.

How do attackers target online shoppers?

There are three common ways that attackers can take advantage of online shoppers:

* Targeting vulnerable computers- If you do not take steps to protect your computer from viruses or other malicious code, an attacker may be able to gain access to your computer and all of the information on it. It is also important for vendors to protect their computers to prevent attackers from accessing customer databases.
* Creating fraudulent sites and email messages- Unlike traditional shopping, where you know that a store is actually the store it claims to be, attackers can create malicious web sites that mimic legitimate ones or create email messages that appear to have been sent from a legitimate source. Charities may also be misrepresented in this way, especially after natural disasters or during holiday seasons. Attackers create these malicious sites and email messages to try to convince you to supply personal and financial information.
* Intercepting insecure transactions- If a vendor does not use encryption, an attacker may be able to intercept your information as it is being transmitted.

How can you protect yourself?

* Use and maintain anti-virus software, a firewall, and anti-spyware software - Protect yourself against viruses and Trojan horses that may steal or modify the data on your own computer and leave you vulnerable by using anti-virus software and a firewall (see Understanding Anti-Virus Software and Understanding Firewalls for more information). Make sure to keep your virus definitions up to date. Spyware or adware hidden in software programs may also give attackers access to your data, so use a legitimate anti-spyware program to scan your computer and remove any of these files (see Recognizing and Avoiding Spyware for more information).
* Keep software, particularly your web browser, up to date– Install software patches so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities (see Understanding Patches for more information). Many operating systems offer automatic updates. If this option is available, you should enable it.
* Evaluate your software's settings- The default settings of most software enable all available functionality. However, attackers may be able to take advantage of this functionality to access your computer (see Evaluating Your Web Browser's Security Settings for more information). It is especially important to check the settings for software that connects to the Internet (browsers, email clients, etc.). Apply the highest level of security available that still gives you the functionality you need.
* Do business with reputable vendors - Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure that you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor. Some attackers may try to trick you by creating malicious web sites that appear to be legitimate, so you should verify the legitimacy before supplying any information (see Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks and Understanding Web Site Certificates for more information). Locate and note phone numbers and physical addresses of vendors in case there is a problem with your transaction or your bill.
* Take advantage of security features - Passwords and other security features add layers of protection if used appropriately (see Choosing and Protecting Passwords and Supplementing Passwords for more information).
* Be wary of emails requesting information - Attackers may attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm purchase or account information (see Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks for more information). Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email.
* Check privacy policies- Before providing personal or financial information, check the web site's privacy policy. Make sure you understand how your information will be stored and used (see Protecting Your Privacy for more information).
* Make sure your information is being encrypted- Many sites use SSL, or secure sockets layer, to encrypt information. Indications that your information will be encrypted include a URL that begins with "https:" instead of "http:" and a lock icon in the bottom right corner of the window.
* Use a credit card- Unlike debit cards, credit cards may have a limit on the monetary amount you will be responsible for paying if your information is stolen and used by someone else. You can further minimize damage by using a single credit card with a low credit line for all of your online purchases.
* Check your statements- Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately (see Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft for more information).

Authors: Mindi McDowell, Monica Maher

Produced 2007 by US-CERT, a government organization.

Note: This tip was previously published and is being re-distributed to increase awareness.

Terms of use

This document can also be found at

For instructions on subscribing to or unsubscribing from this mailing list, visit


Burrus M. Carnahan. Act of Justice: Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2007. 202 pp. $40.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8131-2463-6.

Reviewed by Robert Thompson; Published on H-CivWar (November, 2008);
Commissioned by Charles D. Grear


The Emancipation Proclamation altered the course and the very nature of the Civil War, while freeing millions of Americans from the degradation of slavery. With its publication, the Union’s national war aim changed, adding freedom to the goal of preserving the Union. Over the course of time, scholars have examined and debated the Emancipation Proclamation from many angles, including the purely military, diplomatic, constitutional, and social. Some have criticized Lincoln for his lethargy in issuing it. With so many in chains, they argue, how could he have waited for so many months to set the slaves free? These advocates point out that, as president, Lincoln literally had the power at his fingertips and that he merely needed to pick up the pen on his desk to write the order. Some civil rights advocates, both then and in more recent times, have even accused Lincoln of secretly supporting slavery and of being a racist who only proclaimed freedom for the slaves once he had no choice but to do so.

In this new study, Burrus Carnahan, a lecturer at the George Washington University Law School and foreign affairs officer at the Department of State, argues that nothing could be further from the truth. He does so by examining the creation of the proclamation from a purely legal perspective. Carnahan’s breaks entirely new ground in our understanding of the Emancipation Proclamation. The author carefully examines Lincoln’s evolution from publicly proclaiming his inability to act constitutionally against slavery before the war’s outbreak to crafting a far-reaching executive proclamation that not only altered the course of the war, but also, in Carnahan’s view, made the goal of freedom from oppression an integral part of future American foreign policy. He shows us a Lincoln determined to find a way to emancipate slaves in a manner that could withstand any legal challenge, aiding not only the goals of the war effort but also leading to perpetual freedom for millions of Americans. The result is a fascinating examination of Lincoln’s considerable political and legal acumen and, frankly, his ability to adjust and to learn, altering both the war aims of the nation and establishing his vision for its aftermath.

In his introduction, the author opens with a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville stating that virtually every political question in this nation eventually becomes “a judicial question” (p. 1). Clearly, Lincoln was very aware of this fact. As a result, his desire to free the slaves was muted by deep legal concerns. In his first inaugural, he addressed the issue stating that he had no legal grounds to impede or interfere with the South’s peculiar institution, despite his clear and unambiguous record on the issue, which, at that very moment, was tearing the country apart. However, once Fort Sumter was fired upon, everything changed. Lincoln was urged to act immediately by abolitionists, almost as if to say that, now that the war was underway, what was there to stop him? After all, they might have been heard to argue, what was the worst that could happen? Carnahan demonstrates that, in Lincoln’s mind, there was much that could happen.

Carnahan describes how Lincoln faced a Supreme Court still led by the pro-slavery chief justice, Roger Taney, a Southerner who had issued the infamous Dred Scott decision and the man with whom Lincoln was engaged in legal conflict over the suspension of habeas corpus. Lincoln realized that any policy he might issue with regard to emancipation must be capable of withstanding a challenge in the Taney court. However, Carnahan shows that, even early in the war, Lincoln realized there was a potential avenue for emancipation based on his ability to invoke the law of war as commander-in-chief. As Carnahan demonstrates, at the time, there was no formal international protocol governing the conduct of warfare, and, thus, the law of war was a hazy, undefined legal framework based upon nothing more than the concept of the generally accepted behavior of civilized nations. However, as the author ably traces, in American jurisprudence and policy, the law of war had solid roots, planted by men like John Quincy Adams, which, on several occasions, had been successfully tested in the Supreme Court, including the court led by Chief Justice Taney. Nevertheless, the law of war applied only to belligerents and, as the war began, few in the Lincoln administration wished to accord the Confederate states that status, as it might amount to tacit admission that the Southern Confederacy was actually a sovereign state and not a collection of rebellious states that still were legally part of the Union.

Therefore, the issue of whether the Union was pursuing a war or countering a criminal conspiracy initially blocked the path to emancipation via the law of war. In the meantime, Congress passed a series of Confiscation Acts, which allowed the seizure and use of slaves as “contraband” property. However, Carnahan points out that these laws punished slave owners more than they offered freedom to slaves. Further, Lincoln wanted to do more than merely seize or deny access to “property.” The South’s status would eventually evolve toward belligerent status, as the author carefully outlines, simply because the practicalities of executing the war demanded it. The best example of this process that Carnahan offers is the status of Confederate prisoners of war. As soon as the first battles occurred, Union field commanders asked Lincoln and his War Department what they were to do with captive Confederate soldiers. Were they criminals to be turned over to Federal marshals, or military prisoners of war to be treated according to strict army regulations covering that status? Practicality quickly dictated the latter course, with proactive, enterprising Union officers having already made such moves before official policy was even issued. Before long, the official system of paroles and exchanges between the Federal authorities and the Confederate government was in place. Combined with a host of other issues, this led to the South’s treatment as a belligerent.

Carnahan next ably reconstructs the crafting of the proclamation in a legal context based on the law of war. Lincoln would create a document that served as a weapon of war employed by the commander-in-chief. Lincoln’s basis was that the Constitution “invests its commander-in-chief, with the law of war in time of
war,” (p. 135) a principle that even the Chief Justice Taney had previously recognized. As such, Lincoln could invoke all means to prosecute the war, short of those universally recognized as being cruel or inhumane. Therefore, he could emancipate the slaves held in the South, denying his enemy a valuable resource, and also allowing those now freed the opportunity to fight their oppressors, There was no emphasis on the slaves as property, but, rather, there was now a vision of them as an oppressed people for whom the war offered a chance, as Lincoln wrote, to be “forever free.” (p. 165) At the same time, by articulating the proclamation as both a strategic weapon of war and a national war aim, Lincoln was acting well within the boundaries of his constitutional powers as commander-in-chief.

Carnahan also shows that the effects of the proclamation went beyond the Civil War and freedom for only Americans. Once the proclamation was in place, Carnahan points out that, under the leadership of Dr. Francis Lieber of Columbia College, the U.S. Army adopted General Order 100 in 1863, which, in essence, stated it was now the codified law of war within the U.S. Army that American military force would be used to liberate slaves and place such persons under their protection wherever they might operate. This far-reaching policy would continue as army guidance on the law of war well into the twentieth century. As Carnahan states, “Now freedom would follow the flag” (p. 130). Here, the author postulates that the Emancipation Proclamation did far more than free Americans in slavery, because future tenets of American foreign policy would be built upon its foundation—freeing the oppressed would become a legitimate American policy objective.

With excellent use of notes and appendices, Carnahan’s study is clear, concise, and compelling. He adds immeasurably to Civil War historiography and Emancipation Proclamation scholarship. Further, his work enhances our understanding of Lincoln and the role he played in creating the role of commander-in-chief, as we know it today. It should spark renewed debate and study of the Emancipation Proclamation and further enhance Lincoln’s status as the “Great Emancipator.”

Citation: Robert Thompson. Review of Carnahan, Burrus M., Act of Justice: Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War. H-CivWar, H-Net Reviews. November, 2008.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-- Noncommercial-- No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


What with the increasing number and duration of overseas deployments, it shouldn't surprise you to hear that an increasing number of U.S. soldiers are pursuing college degrees online:



It’s a blog about collecting old newspapers and other paper objects:



A columnist argues that it’s high time we ended the War on Terror:



The Department of Veterans Affairs has scheduled community-based VA medical clinics to open in Excelsior Springs, Sikeston, and Sedalia, Missouri in 2009 and 2010:



If you live in the Springfield, Missouri area, you’ll want to take an evening luminary tour of the Wilson’s Creek Battlefield, when thousands of lighted candles illuminate your drive through the historic site:


Note: Click "Schedule of Events."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


A commissioned study shows an illiterate slave / sharecropper ancestor who lived in the South Carolina lowcountry:



Topics include (to name just a few):

Abraham Lincoln
Art Institute of Chicago
Bloomington-Normal Black History Project
Coal Mining
Historic Maps of Aurora
Historic Quincy Photographs
Illinois and the Civil War
Illinois Constitution
Illinois Historic Aerial Photos, 1936-1941
Illinois State Fair
Illinois State Library
Illinois Veterans History Project
Madison County Genealogical Materials
Naperville Heritage Collection
Oak Ridge Cemetery Interment Records
Oral Histories of Centralia
Vachel Lindsay Collection
World War I- Documents
World War II- Documents



If you’re in the St. Louis area, this New Year’s Eve offering may be of interest:

Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Location: Schlafly Bottleworks
Hours: 5 pm - 1 am
Come ring in the New Year - Schlafly style!
Cost: Free in the Restaurant; $15.00 in the Crown Room

Contact Phone: 314-241-2337


Awful news for the family-- memorable story for the family history book:

A 55-year old Houston, Missouri man has died after being bitten by a rabid bat—- the first Missouri rabies death since 1959:



The course offerings aren’t free, but Pharos can get you off and running whether you’re researching your own line or hoping to start a genealogical research / speaking business on the side:


Note: I’ve got my eye on this upcoming British military research class (starts 20 January 2009):

Military Men and Women: Records of Britain's Armed Forces 1750 - 1920

Just about everyone with British or Irish roots can find a soldier or sailor in the family tree. If you have sailors, soldiers or airmen in your family tree and want to find out more about them, then this course is for you. We will look at the increasing number of resources available online on both The National Archives as well as on commercial websites and those maintained by enthusiasts. The course will also look at researching the original records at Kew and look at resources available at regimental museums, through LDS family history centres and national archives and museums across the Commonwealth. At the heart of the course are the service records for the three services which provide vital genealogical facts and a wealth of helpful detail that can take your research back into the 18th century and reveal the life of your ancestors in the army or navy 200 years ago. The lessons cover what records exist, how to combine records to best effect, what can be achieved on the Internet and what must be done at Kew or elsewhere.

Instructor: Simon Fowler

• An introduction to TNA online resources (data, exhibitions and guides)
• Background to record keeping in the Navy Army and Royal Air Force
• Working with catalogues, TNA, FamilySearch and others
• Viewing documents online and using online clues
• If you can't get to TNA and more useful websites

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Canada


Dick Eastman REALLY likes this new book on becoming a Google genealogy power searcher:


It’s well that he should-- just look at this Contents list:

• Chapter 1 — Search Engine Basics
• Chapter 2 — Interpreting Web Search Results
• Chapter 3 — Advanced Search Techniques
• Chapter 4 — Language Tools
• Chapter 5 — Google Books
• Chapter 6 — Google News Archive
• Chapter 7 — Blog Search
• Chapter 8 — Images & Video
• Chapter 9 — Google Alerts
• Chapter 10 — Google Maps
• Chapter 11 — Google Earth
• Chapter 12 — Google Notebook
• Chapter 13 — The Google Toolbar & Google Chrome
• Chapter 14 — Other Tips & Tricks
• Appendix A — Getting Started in Genealogy
• Appendix B — Top Sites for Genealogists
• Appendix C — Other Internet Search Engines
• Appendix D — Web Search Engine Defined
• Appendix E — Syntax Summary & Quick Reference
• Index


Yes, Time Magazine really means EVERYTHING:


Saturday, December 06, 2008


Note: All programs take place on Saturday mornings.

December 13, 10 AM-Noon. 10 a.m. – Noon. Central Library, Meeting Room 1.
GREAT CIVIL WAR BATTLES: FREDERICKSBURG- a winter battle in Virginia during which reluctant Union Army commander Ambrose Burnside was outwitted and outgunned at every turn by the wiley Gray Fox, Robert E. Lee.

January 17, 10 a.m. – Noon. Central Library, Meeting Room 1.
KILLED BY THE CURE: CIVIL WAR MEDICINE – the injuries and diseases that plagued Civil War soldiers, and the (sometimes fatal) methods Civil War doctors used to try and heal them.

February, 14 10 a.m.-Noon Buder Branch.
CITIZEN SOLDIERS: RESEARCHING YOUR REVOLUTIONARY WAR ANCESTOR – book, microfilm, manuscript, and Internet sources of information about Revolutionary War soldiers and patriots.

March 21, 10 a.m.-Noon Central Library Meeting Room 1.
ST. LOUIS AT WAR, 1861-1865: ARSENAL, FORTS, HOSPITALS, & PRISONS – the many ways in which St. Louis contributed to the Union war effort.

April 18, 10 a.m.-Noon Buder Branch.
4/14: THE PLOT TO KILL PRESIDENT LINCOLN – the conspirators and the conspiracy, Booth’s escape attempt, the trials of his co-conspirators, and the punishments meted out by military tribunals.

Central Library
1301 Olive Street
St. Louis, MO 63103

Buder Branch
4401 Hampton Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63109

Pre-registration is recommended but not required. To register or for more information, please call 539-0381 or email us at Parking at meters downtown is free on Saturdays, and parking on the Buder Branch lot is always free.


Genealogists don't always seize every research opportunity that comes their way. For example: sometimes obits can be real gold mines of information. Witness this obit reprinted in Fayette Facts 37:3 (September 2008):

MEIER, Mrs. Herman nee ROELLING, was born 28 March 1845 in Saxton, Germany, and came to America at age 18. She married Herman MEIER at Elizabethtown, NJ, and they moved to Vandalia 56 years ago. Her husband died eleven years ago. Surviving are her sons, Frank and Edward MEIER of Vandalia. A daughter, Bertha TORKELSON, died 32 years ago in Carlyle. Burial was in South Hill Cemetery. [Source: Vandalia Union, 13 July 1933.]

Here’s a point-by-point look at the incredible number of research opportunities suggested by a single obituary:

MEIER, Mrs. Herman nee ROELLING [1], was born 28 March 1845 [2] [3] in Saxton, Germany [4], and came to America at age 18 [5] [6]. She married Herman MEIER [7] [8] at Elizabethtown, NJ [9] [10] [11], and they moved to Vandalia 56 years ago [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17]. Her husband died eleven years ago [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]. Surviving are her sons, Frank [23] and Edward MEIER [24] of Vandalia. A daughter, Bertha TORKELSON [25] [26] [27] [28], died 32 years ago in Carlyle [29] [30] [31] [32]. Burial was in South Hill Cemetery [33] [34] [35] [36]. [Source: Vandalia Union, 13 July 1933.]

Opportunities for further research:

[1] A Roelling family history.
[2] A church record of her birth (Saxton, Germany).
[3] A civil record of her birth (Saxton, Germany).
[4] A history of Saxton, Germany.
[5] Record of emigration / permission to exit old country.
[6] Record of immigration to U.S. (probably port of NY).
[7] Herman MEIER in 1860 NJ census (Union County).
[8] Herman MEIER Civil War service record (NJ regiment).
[9] Elizabethtown, NJ marriage record (Union County, NJ).
[10] Elizabethtown, NJ marriage record (Elizabethtown newspaper)
[11] Herman MEIER in 1870 NJ census record (Union County).
[12] Vandalia land acquisition record (Fayette County).
[13] Herman MEIER in 1880 IL census (Fayette County).
[14] Herman MEIER in 1900 IL census (Fayette County).
[15] Herman MEIER in 1910 IL census (Fayette County).
[16] Herman MEIER in 1920 IL census (Fayette County).
[17] MEIER in Fayette County history.
[18] Herman MEIER civil death record (Fayette County, IL).
[19] Herman MEIER church death record (Vandalia, IL).
[20] Herman MEIER burial record (Vandalia, IL).
[21] Herman MEIER newspaper obit (Vandalia Union newspaper).
[22] Herman MEIER Civil War pension record.
[23] Frank MEIER in 1930 IL census (Fayette County).
[24] Edward MEIER in 1930 IL census (Fayette County).
[25] MEIER-TORKELSON marriage (in Fayette or Clinton counties in IL).
[26] TORKELSON in 1880 IL census (Clinton County).
[27] TORKELSON in 1900 IL census (Clinton County).
[28] TORKELSON in Clinton County history.
[29] A church record of her death (Carlyle, IL).
[30] A civil record of her death (Clinton County, IL).
[31] Bertha TORKELSON newspaper obit (Carlyle, IL).
[32] Bertha TORKELSON newspaper obit (Vandalia Union newspaper).
[33] Mrs. Herman MEIER in 1930 IL census (Fayette County).
[34] Mrs. Herman MEIER burial record (South Hill Cemetery, Vandalia, IL).
[35] A church record of her death (Vandalia, IL).
[36] A civil record of her death (Fayette County, IL).

Note: Let us know if you spot additional research opportunities suggested by the facts presented in this obit!


From Fayette Facts 37:3 (September 2008):

FORBIS, Margaret Anna, 20 month old daughter of Cecil and Zelma Forbis, died after being hit by her father’s car while he was backing it out of the garage. The little girl wanted to accompany him, and he told her to wait while he backed the car out and then she could get in. Burial was in the new Forbis Cemetery. Survivors include parents, two grandmothers, and one grandfather. A sister died in infancy three years ago. [Source: Vandalia Union, 7 September 1933.]


Is the pattern of color bands on woolly worms actually predictive of how severe the next winter will be? The Missouri Department of Conservation weighs in on this momentous debate:



From Missouri Life magazine:



“Santa in his sleigh, musicians and carolers, and roasting chestnuts—- it’s all part of this celebration of the sounds of the season.

Five choirs, a brass ensemble, a jazz combo, and a harpist will perform throughout Garden grounds. Mulled cider, hot chocolate, and cookies will be available for purchase, and the Garden Gate Shop will be open for holiday shopping.

Don’t miss this year’s special display of gingerbread houses.

Regular Garden admission rates apply. Garden members are admitted free.”

Christmas Carols in the Garden
December 13-14, 2008
1-5 p.m.
Missouri Botanical Garden
St. Louis, Missouri



Safety tips from the Columbia (Mo) Fire Department:



In case you hadn’t heard, Google is trying to do with newspapers what it’s been doing for some time now with books- make them all available on the Internet! You can search its News Archive right now:


Example searches:

A search for “St. Louis 1900s” gets 3,040 results (retrieves articles about St. Louis during the decade 1900-1910).

A search for “Kansas City 1900s” gets 2,050 results (retrieves articles about Kansas City during the decade 1900-1910).

Note: Some articles cited in your search results require payment before the article can be viewed online; you can always attempt to secure the article from another source once you have the citation!


Courtesy of Brigham Young University:


Friday, December 05, 2008


by Steven W. Myers

The State Historical Society of Wisconsin's Draper Manuscript Collection is a unique research source that should interest many American family historians. Assembled by Lyman Copeland Draper, the manuscripts focus on the history of the so-called "Trans-Allegheny West" in the period between the French and Indian War and the War of 1812 (ca. 1755-1815). Although Draper's many intended publishing projects never materialized, he succeeded in gathering a massive amount of source material for future historians through his extensive interviewing and collecting. The results provide an equally important source for genealogists with links to early settlers in the entire Ohio River valley, as well as in the western Carolinas and Virginia, portions of Georgia and Alabama, and parts of the Mississippi River valley.

The manuscripts are largely Draper's research notes and correspondence, but also contain an assortment of legal documents, maps, diaries, family and personal records, business records, land records, court martial lists, muster rolls, order books, and extracts from newspapers and other publications. Draper's notes and collected documents are especially rich on the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, as well as on Indian conflicts in the intervening period. Organized into 491 volumes in 50 series, the complete collection is also available on microfilm in 100 American research libraries including the Genealogy Center.

Using this valuable resource does take some investment of time, since there is no complete index, but Josephine Harper's detailed "Guide to the Draper Manuscripts" (call number 016.978 H23g) provides a good starting point. In addition to detailed descriptions of each manuscript volume's contents and a general index, useful appendices include an index to Revolutionary War pension applicants, an index to
the names of authors, cartographers, correspondents and interviewees, and an extensive inventory of maps present in the collection. Separate, detailed calendars of each document in several series of the Draper Manuscripts have also been published, providing researchers with other useful indexes to at least portions of the collection. Those in print can be found on the Genealogy Center's microtext guides shelves, while calendars for series J, U, CC, DD, QQ, SS, TT, UU, VV,
XX, and ZZ are all available on microfiche in cabinet F-4. Several documentary volumes based on the Draper Manuscripts should also prove useful to researchers and can be identified in the online catalog under the names of the respective authors: Reuben Gold Thwaites, Louise Phelps Kellogg and Jared C. Lobdell. In addition, Karen Green has produced "Index to the Draper Manuscripts: Series NN, The Pittsburgh and Northwest Virginia Papers" (call number 973 D79c). For those who find it difficult to use microfilm, the Genealogy Center also has a printout of the entire Draper Manuscript Collection in bound volumes at call number 973 D79.

One example should suffice to prove the unique value of this important collection. The index to Draper's interviewees in the appendix to Harper's "Guide" references several individuals named Sprott in volume 19 of Series S, Draper's Notes. Draper had interviewed the children of Scots-Irishman John Sprott and provides biographical details as background for his interview notes. In these he writes that John was "born in Co. Down on January 2d 1760" and that his "father Thomas Sprott migrated to Pennsylvania in 1763." Both of these facts have not been found documented in any other source. Perhaps you can solve your own research problem using the Draper Manuscript Collection.

Publishing Note:

This electronic newsletter is published by the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center, and is intended to enlighten readers about genealogical research methods as well as inform them about the vast resources of the Allen County Public Library. We welcome the wide distribution of this newsletter and encourage readers to forward it to their friends and societies. All precautions have been made to avoid errors. However, the publisher does not assume any liability to any party for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions, no matter the cause.

To subscribe to "Genealogy Gems," simply use your browser to go to the website: www.GenealogyCenter.Info. Scroll down toward the bottom of the first screen where it says, "Enter Your Email Address to Subscribe to "Genealogy Gems." Enter your email address in the yellow box and click on "Subscribe." You will be notified with a confirmation email.

Steve Myers & Curt Witcher, co-editors


by Melissa Shimkus

Searching for land patents issued by the United States government is easy thanks to the General Land Office of the Bureau of Land Management website:


An additional valuable source is the series of books produced by Arphax Publishing
and Gregory Alan Boyd titled "Family Maps of…" Each volume in this ongoing series focuses on an individual county. Although not yet complete, the series already features 363 titles for the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. All are available in the
Genealogy Center.

Each book begins with a useful introduction and general maps showing the county's location within the state and in the context of neighboring counties, as well as maps depicting townships, cities and towns, and cemeteries. A general surname index leads you to a "map group" for the township of interest, where you will find details on each land patent in that township as well a map outlining the location of each patent. Once you locate your ancestor on the patent map, it is easy to see which individuals obtained patents on neighboring parcels of land. The map group for each township also includes a road map and an historical map showing waterways, cemeteries, and railroads.

The surname/township index in "Family Maps of Holmes County, Florida" (call number 975.901 H73BO), for example, references two parcels of land for the Moore family in Township 4-N Range 14-W or map group 22. The index to land patents in the section for map group 22 provides details. Elizabeth and John E. Moore had a patent issued on February 21, 1893 for the southwest quarter of section 10, with a portion located in Washington County. The patent map shows that the property of Elizabeth and John is bounded to the north by that of George W. Moore, who received his land patent on the same date. Based on the information gleaned from this book, we now have a specific location for the family's land, another individual to research, and a legal description to extend our property records search.

The "Family Maps" series by Gregory Alan Boyd is an excellent source for land patents in the United States. It provides easy to use indexes and visuals that make researching land patents simple. Genealogists will garner valuable family property information as well as leads for additional research.

Arphax Publishing website:

Publishing Note:

This electronic newsletter is published by the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center, and is intended to enlighten readers about genealogical research methods as well as inform them about the vast resources of the Allen County Public Library. We welcome the wide distribution of this newsletter and encourage readers to forward it to their friends and societies. All precautions have been made to avoid errors. However, the publisher does not assume any liability to any party for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions, no matter the cause.

To subscribe to "Genealogy Gems," simply use your browser to go to the website: www.GenealogyCenter.Info. Scroll down toward the bottom of the first screen where it says, "Enter Your Email Address to Subscribe to "Genealogy Gems." Enter your email address in the yellow box and click on "Subscribe." You will be notified with a confirmation email.

Steve Myers & Curt Witcher, co-editors


A free online guide to web searching, search engines, and directories:



Got a question (on pretty much ANY topic)? You’ve come to the right place:



Welcome to City Directories at DistantCousin

Below is a free online archive of city directory records and scanned images. These databases are searchable from the below search box. Alternately, you may peruse our collection by geographic location, below. Please note that we are adding to our collection on a regular basis. Please check back often for new databases.”



If you can’t decide whether or not to become a Twitterer, this blog post will help you understand what Twitter is, and if it’s a service you actually need:



Blog that covers both military history and wargaming:


Note: This site’s blog roll is a most impressive (and extensive) list of other blogs, online magazines, and websites devoted to the topics of military history and / or wargaming.


World War II content on can be accessed for free for a limited time, so go there soon if you are at all interested:


Note: They’ve made A LOT of recent additions to their WWII content, so take a look if you haven’t visited their site in awhile.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


"Every soldier has a story."

Although countless works of fiction and journalism have examined the soldier’s life in wartime, there has never been an archive of soldiers’ experiences, spanning historic conflicts and other missions, told in the soldiers’ own words.

Now there is. The United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, has established The Center for Oral History, an online research center gathering the personal stories of American service men and women of all ranks – beginning with those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and going back to veterans of Vietnam, Korea, World War II and other campaigns:

Housed by the History department at West Point, the new Center-– which will officially launch in 2009-– is advised by a board that includes documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and 1947 West Point graduate and former Presidential advisor General Brent Scowcroft, among many other eminent historians, journalists, and educators.

General David Petraeus, who recently became head of U.S. Central Command,
welcomed the new Center: “Our army has a proud history, one that is chronicled in innumerable books and films. This Center aims to record our army's history in a different way, through the personal oral histories of our soldiers captured by thorough, thoughtful interviews. This is an exciting prospect,” General Petraeus said.

The Center was conceived to help educate West Point cadets, through the stories of soldiers who preceded them into conflict; but also to create a trove of personal testimony that will assist the work of scholars and historians; and to help build a bridge of greater understanding and empathy between the military and the civilian population it serves. The Center’s web site will be open to all users.

“Oral history delivers a spontaneity and intimacy that you can’t draw from any other research sources,” said the Center’s director, Todd Brewster, a journalist and co-author of two best-selling books with the late Peter Jennings of ABC News. “In the best West Point tradition, we hope our recorded interviews will speak directly to the soldiers of tomorrow while contributing to the policy dialogue going on right now.” The choice of Brewster, who has served as senior producer at ABC News and has written for Time and Vanity Fair, underscores the Academy’s intention to make its new oral history center a resource for the general public as well as the military community.

Among the early projects undertaken by the COH: an oral history of the Iraqi conflict as well as a look back at the West Point Class of ’67, most of whose graduates were immediately sent to Vietnam. The Center will also interview former U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense whose decisions have been so pivotal to the fate of American soldiers.

The Center’s ambition is captured in its motto: “Every soldier has a story. Here is where the story is told.”

Here is a link to additional material about the Center – including a 12-minute video that includes some early interviews of soldiers featured in the news announcement below:

Following is contact info for several persons associated with The Center for Oral History.

James Bourne 212 262-7470

Allan Ripp 212 262-7477

From: H-NET Military History Discussion List [mailto:H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU]
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Entertaining post from What’s Past Is Prologue blog:



Thumb drives and other flash-type drives give the Department of Defense the willies-— such drives make it way too easy for folks with larceny on their minds to make off with valuable data. So they’ve banned the use of flash-type drives with all DoD computers:



Photos of the Great Depression and World War II homefront by FSA photographers (including some color photographs):



An English-German glossary of words relating to the family: