Tagged: genealogy

Start Your Own Genealogical FAN Club!

The FAN club is a term coined by renowned genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills. “FAN” stands for “Friends, Associates, Neighbors”, and refers to researching the cluster of people who interacted with your ancestors. This principle is also called cluster or collateral genealogy. Researching people within this cluster can provide insights into your ancestors’ lives, as well as help answer thorny questions your direct research hasn’t been able to resolve (“I can’t find this guy ANYWHERE! Where the heck was he?” or “Which of the six John Smiths in this county is mine?” or “Who was Nathan Pyeatt’s (1787-1812) mother?”). The FAN club is a great tool for proving relationships, establishing identities, and busting through brick walls. Many printed and on-line resources contain case studies demonstrating how you can use records of friends, associates, and neighbors to obtain the answers you’re looking for. Some of the best case studies using the FAN...

Colonial and State Census Records

Censuses are not conducted in a vacuum. They occur amidst internal and external crisis, shifts in cultural interests, and events that become ‘defining moments’. They also reflect growth of the population as well as changing values and interests of Americans. Therefore, they can add valuable information that can enhance your family’s history and should be sought out. Content ranges from statistical tables only, to significant genealogical information, and will vary widely in content depending on the time and place they were taken. Thirty-seven states took censuses separately and apart from federal censuses. The number taken ranges from one census year, such as California in 1852, to 24 years, such as Mississippi between 1792 and 1866. Budget constraints during the Great Depression prevented further state enumerations, although Florida’s last state census was taken in 1945. Non-federal censuses generally have content similar to that of the federal records of the same time period...

“By the Dawn’s Early Light”: Researching War of 1812 Ancestors

The War of 1812 was a military and naval conflict between the United States (US) and Great Britain over British impressment of American sailors (1803), restriction of American trade with France during Napoleonic Wars (1807), and US desire to expand territory (1811). It has been referred to as “the forgotten war” – most likely because there was no clear winner or loser in the conflict. No lands were gained or lost after the Treaty of Ghent ended the war on February 16, 1815. Only 7,000 men served in the United States military when the war broke out. By the end of the war, more than 35,000 American regulars and 458,000 militia—though many of these were only mustered in for local defense—were serving on land and sea in the following locations: Was your ancestor one of those who served? Who Could Serve? Before starting your research, you should answer several important...

Researching the Kids: Babies, Children, and Teens in the Family Tree

Why should you spend time researching the kids in your family tree? Simple! Children are the ones who make us ancestors, and all of our ancestors were children once. They generated records that allow us to trace them from the cradle to the grave. Plus, you may find family information via an ancestral sibling that you can’t find through your direct ancestor. Without the kids, no genealogical research is possible! Let’s start with regional attitudes and time periods that affect records documenting their lives. Settlers in different regions of America brought their own ideas about childrearing with them from different parts of the world. Several factors contributed to these attitudes, including religion, social morés, ethnicity, class, and physical environment. The book Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer provides an outstanding detailed look at these factors and is highly recommended reading. Fischer details the folkways of...

The Internet Archive for Genealogists

History of the Internet Archive The Internet Archive (https://archive.org) is a non-profit that is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. It provides free access to researchers, historians, scholars, people with print disabilities, and the general public. Their mission is to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge. The Archive began archiving the Internet in 1996 It now has over twenty-three years of web history accessible through the Wayback Machine and partners with over one thousand and other partners to identify important web pages. It soon began providing digital versions of other published works. At this time it contains seven hundred thrity-five billion web pages, forty-one million books and texts, 14.7 million audio recordings (including two hundred forty thousand live concerts), 8.4 million videos (including 2.4 million television news programs), 4.4 million images, and eight hundred ninety thousand software programs. It pays to set...

Ancestors and the Weather

You may ask, “What does weather have to do with genealogical research?” The answer is, “A lot,” especially when you start asking yourself questions such as: Where did my ancestors go? When did they move? Why did they move there? The answers might have had something to do with the weather. Brief History of Historical US Weather Data Diverse resources exist for climatological research that can add dimension and understanding to your family history. Unfortunately, historical weather data does not exist for every locale in the US. The National Archives holds records for hundreds of observatories concerned with recording scientific data about the weather, but they are not online. The federal government began taking an interest in the weather in 1818 when it directed employees of the Office of the Surgeon General to keep diaries on the weather. In 1870, responsibility of recording weather data was transferred to the Office...

Farm Directories

Directories are much like today’s telephone books except that they offer a better panorama or “bird’s-eye view” into the makeup of a community or an organization during a particular time period. They offer an abundance of terrific clues and research tips about finding people from the past. Much of this information cannot be found elsewhere. While city directories are a popular tool for finding urban ancestors, researchers should keep in mind that there are farm directories geared toward the rural population. Like city directories, their purpose was to be a tool for businessmen. Not only do farm directories provide valuable family information—especially for those years in between the federal censuses—they also offer a kind of “snapshot” of life on the family farm. Depending on the publisher, you may find various types of information in a farm or rural directory. There were several publishers of these directories, and in today’s blog,...

The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

OK, all you Civil War buffs and genealogists with Civil War ancestors; if you’re not familiar with the Official Records of Union and Confederate Armies in the War of the Rebellion, now is your opportunity to become acquainted with this important set of war documentation of events and persons involved in its military operations. The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies in the War of the Rebellion, commonly known as the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies or Official Records (OR), is the most extensive collection of American Civil War land warfare records available to the general public. It includes selected first-hand accounts, orders, reports, maps, diagrams, and correspondence drawn from official records of both Union and Confederate armies. A second publication, Supplement to the Official Records of Union and Confederate Armies, is also available, which includes specific documentation omitted from the OR as well as...

There Were 102 Passengers on the Mayflower. Was Your Ancestor One of Them?

More than thirty million people can trace their ancestry to the 102 passengers and approximately thirty crew aboard the Mayflower when it landed in Plymouth Bay on 11 November 1620. Do you have a Mayflower passenger in your past? Have you heard family stories suggesting that you have one but nobody has done the research to try to prove it? The best way to find out is to begin researching yourself and work back, documenting the generations as you go. If you’re so fortunate as to identify one or more of these pioneers as an ancestor, you may also wish to join The General Society of Mayflower Descendants, founded in 1897. You’ll also gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the lives of these Englishmen and women who forged a new life on a new continent. The Pilgrims were a group of English people who came to America seeking religious...

Over There: World War I Genealogical Research

In Flanders Fields John McCrae – 1872-1918 In Flanders fields the poppies blowBetween the crosses, row on row,    That mark our place; and in the sky    The larks, still bravely singing, flyScarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days agoWe lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,    Loved and were loved, and now we lie        In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw    The torch; be yours to hold it high.     If ye break faith with us who dieWe shall not sleep, though poppies grow        In Flanders fields. History of US Involvement At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, a cessation of hostilities began with the signing of an armistice between Allied forces and Germany after a devastating war lasting over...