30 August 2009

29 St. George Utah Stakes go live Aug. 31 on nFS

New FamilySearch is being released throughout Utah's Temple Districts by stakes in those districts. 29 of the 44 Stakes in the St. George Temple district will be live August 31st!  That means that all general membership of the LDS Church will be able to sign-in and access new FamilySearch. Happy Hunting!

26 August 2009

U.S. Federal Census Records Made Simple

Probably the most used resource for genealogists is the census record. You have the ability to build the family structure and extract basic vital information by using the data found in these records. The U.S. Federal census records were compiled for every ten year period beginning in 1790.

Censuses were first implemented by Congress and were generally used to determine taxes and for determine apportionment for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the beginning, only the head of household's name was gathered along with a count of people in the household. However, not all people were treated equally! For instance, slaves were counted separately and no names were recorded during the early years. Each census year after 1790, additional information was gathered from the people. It was 1850 before a census asked for the names of every member of the household.

As all census records are “not equal”, neither is the accuracy of the information. There are original documents, hand-written copies of originals and summaries of the censuses. Accuracy was dependent on a number of things including illegible handwriting, the desire of the enumerator to follow the established rules, and the desire of the household members to provide accurate answers to questions. Simply put, some people did not know how to spell names or even know their age. Those things were not as important or as common as they are today. Also, people stretched the truth in some cases to avoid taxes or the law. Some even avoided the enumerator. So don’t think you have the wrong person just because he aged 14 years between censuses, or she only aged 6 years!

Sometimes enumerators were required to make copies of their records which required manually hand-copying their originals to a new paper or form. Some of the originals were even lost or destroyed. Over the years, some census records were destroyed in fires, lost in transport, misplaced or thrown away by mistake. The entire 1890 census was burned in a fire in Washington DC in 1921.

Of the census records that have survived over the past 220 years, copies can be found indexed as well as preserved in both microfilm and digitized images. This brings a new level of frustration to the genealogist. Not all data is indexed correctly, nor are the images all of the same clarity and quality.
Indexes and images can be found online now in both free locations and subscription websites. Each site has its own search engine and level of quality. New technology helps to improve the accuracy and quality and, in many cases, the records are being re-indexed and re-scanned.

Locating Census Records Online - Your first question may be “where can I find them?” To that question I have provided the links and directions to the websites you can use, as well as, links to tips for using census records in your research. So if you haven’t ventured into your own research, give census records a try.

To gain free access to census indexes and images from home:

Heritage Quest online – All you need is to sign in with your library card number from your libraries website. The census images are almost complete.  A few still need to have all names indexed instead of just the head of household name.

            Utah Educators and Students -
You have access to Heritage Quest if you or your child is a registered  user of my.uen.org.  If you are not registered yet, click here.
             K-12 Schools
            Information about access in other states   
Note:  Free access to Heritage Quest is provided at Family History Centers located in various LDS Church buildings around the country.  Use the Family History Center portal: access through the FHC portal of subscription sites located on the computers desktop.

Other free sites with census records:

FamilySearch Records Search - currently has the following census records online 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 (no images), 1900, 1920 (partial index only)

US GenWEB – has some records partially online-some indexed and some images. Access this easily by state through this link.

 National Archives Libraries - If you visit or live in a State that has a NARA location you can access census records. Here is a link to the NARA locations.

Census Finder - locate the available websites that contain free images or transcriptions of census records from all over the world.

Access Census Records By Subscription:   Access to some census records can be of higher quality and easier to use if you subscribe to the companies website.

Ancestry.com has the most complete set of census records available online.  If you have a subscription, click here.   

The LDS Church provides free access to the census images for Ancestry at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and at all other Regional Family History Centers around the country.  See a list and links for Regional Family History Centers

The LDS Church also provides free access to the following subscription websites through the FHC portal at ALL Family History Centers, not just the regional ones.

Footnote.com:   Currently this subscription website has the 1860 and 1930 US census records.

World Vital Records: Contains some indexes.  Most images can only be browsed at the present time.
 One other subscription website contains some images and indexes. That is  Genealogy.com:   Only about half of the census years are indexed.

Tips for using Census records - Use the following links to great sources of information.

US Census explained

Clues in census records, 1790-1840

Cues in census records, 1850-1930

Reading the census  

Federal census facts  

Tips for using Census records at Heritage Quest online

Finding Families in Pre-1850 Censuses

Census Questions and Research Tips

Searching Census Records

U.S. Federal Census Dates

24 August 2009

New FamilySearch begins Release in Draper Temple District

 I received notification this morning that New FamilySearch is only a few weeks away from being implemented to our Stake in the Draper Temple District! Here is a copy of the email.

24 August 2009
To: Family History Consultants in the Draper Utah Temple District
This e-mail is to notify you that within the next several weeks, the stake in which you live will begin using a new Web site as part of the process for preparing ancestral names for the temple. The Internet address for the new Web site is new.familysearch.org. You should be able to register in the new Web site immediately upon receipt of this e-mail. TempleReady will no longer be used for this process.
The attached information packet will help you prepare to help members use this new process once the temple begins accepting the new Family Ordinance Request forms in place of TempleReady disks. Copies of the attached release packet will also be sent by U. S. mail. Center directors will receive their copy directly from the Family History Department. The copy for family history consultants will be sent to their bishop in their normal weekly priesthood mailing. An informational DVD will accompany the copy sent by mail.
Important note: You must have the Adobe Reader installed on your computer to view the attachments in this e-mail. It may be downloaded for free at www.adobe.com. To install the Adobe Reader, click on the Get Adobe Reader button on the Adobe Web site home page, and follow the instructions.
It is important for you to follow the preparation instructions found on the New FamilySearch Utah and Idaho Release section of the consultant registration website. Simply go to consultant.familysearch.org and click on the Click here to go to the Utah and Idaho instructions button to view the preparation instructions.
We will send you a follow-up e-mail announcing the actual release date approximately one week before the release in your stake.
If you have any questions, please contact FamilySearch Support.
FamilySearch Support
Toll-free: 1-866-406-1830

21 August 2009

Volunteers needed at FH EXPO in Sandy

Consultants or friends of consultants: Trying to watch your pennies these days? If you would be interested in volunteering one day of the two-day FH Expos conference in Sandy, Utah next week, contact me below. If you work one day you can attend classes for free on the other day. To see more about the Expo see the article below.

19 August 2009

FHExpos - Reminder of Salt Lake Expo in Sandy, Utah

Just a reminder that the we have a great opportunity next week (August 28th and 29th) to learn some new family history techniques and technologies to help in our family history research and temple work. (See the previous article here).

You have until Monday the 24th to pre-register and save $10. Also new this year is the ability to pay for only one or two classes at $12 each. The Church is also providing free access to the classes presented by FamilySearch if you are a registered consultant. You must have the coupon that was emailed to each consultant.

If you have never attended one of these expo's you need to take advantage of it being here in Sandy. These conferences are the least expensive ones you will ever attend, and, these is a terrific choice of classes to attend with great speakers.

If you are a consultant and have not been trained in using new FamilySearch, please make every effort to be there....you won't be sorry. The free classes for consultants are on Saturday afternoon from 1 to 5 pm.

As soon as you register you have online access to all the handouts for the conference.

Please attend and enjoy!
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11 August 2009

World Vital Records - Free for 3 Days!

PROVO, UT, August 11, 2009 – WorldVitalRecords.com, an online family history resource, today announced the addition of the largest number of records to be released in a single day since the site launched in 2006. To commemorate this milestone, for the first time WorldVitalRecords is offering free public access to its entire online collection of historical and genealogical records beginning August 11 and continuing through August 13, 2009. The public will have unlimited access to more than one billion records in over 11,000 databases from around the world including newspapers, census, birth, marriage, death, immigration and military records; family trees; stories and publications; and yearbooks.

10 August 2009

Google-A Great Research Tool

I taught a class recently on using Google to search for clues to your family history. Frequently I will hear someone ask “where did you find your information?” I’ll often say that I found the data online or I found clues online. A standard response will be “where or how? I’ve tried searching and can never find anything.”

Well, Google offers a number of tools and tricks that you can use to “find” information that you may not be able to find by just searching for a name or a location. These tools are very powerful and can often save you a great deal of time as you try to build your family tree based on all the clues and sources available.

The Web has become extremely powerful and contains a vast array of data. It’s like having 100’s of different libraries and resources at your fingertips. You may not have to travel internationally to get to a parish to find a vital record, nor even travel down the street to visit your local library. As the slogan says “let your fingers do the walking”! In this case, let your fingers walk your keyboard and gather the info you need.

Let’s take an example and walk through it.

I want to find everything I can on a Herman Bridwell (1881-1943) married to Della Poindexter.

I start with a word search on Google for the surname of Bridwell and get 588,000 hits…way to many to go through.

So I add Herman to the front of Bridwell and get 545,000 hits. This still doesn’t narrow down the search enough.

Put Herman Bridwell in quotes to limit the search to a string of words, or rather an exact search. “herman bridwell”. I get 91 hits which is much easier to search through. I immediately find an obituary that has been posted on a message board for a “Herman C Bridwell” who died in 1943 and was 62 years old. The obituary was posted in Kentucky and he had a son named Henry C Bridwell. I find that he was buried in Shady Grove Cemetery in Kentucky. There is no mention of a spouse, but there are several children and one sister listed as survivors.

The next hit is for an obituary on a message board for a Ruby Melton. The poster had added a comment that according to the “Death Records of Henderson County, Kentucky”, Ruby was the daughter of Herman C. Bridwell and Della M. Poindexter. This matches the spouse name I am looking for.

Now I know that Herman has a middle name that begins with a “C”. So now I alter my Google search to “herman * bridwell”. The asterisk is a function that allows Google to search for any Herman Bridwell that has a middle name. Doing this narrowed the search to ten records.

This search result included a USGenWeb Project page that listed a transcription for the “Webster County Death Records – 1911.” I found a death record for a Beulah Bridwell, born and died in 1911 in Kentucky, and buried in the Shady Grove Cemetery. She is listed as the daughter of Herman C Bridwell and Mamie Owens. So my first question is “Is this the Herman C Bridwell married to Della Poindexter or their son, or, did Herman have another wife?” More potential clues.

Let’s try searching another way. “bridwell, herman c”. By reversing the order I may find lists of people that have been alphabetized. I get six hits. I can’t find any additional data.

So now I want to search for any Bridwell burials in Shady Grove Cemetery. I Google “shady grove cemetery” Kentucky herman bridwell. Notice I put the cemetery name in quotes, listed the state and the names without quotes. I get 119 hits and the second hit is again pointing to the USGenWeb Project. I find a listing for Bridwell, Herman and Della! When I click on the link I get a photo of their headstone in the cemetery. I find that Herman’s middle name is Cornelius, Della’s middle name is May and it gives me the names of both sets of parents. There is also a note that Herman was also married to Mamie Owens. All three of them are in the Shady Grove Cemetery!

This last search is giving me too many hits with either Herman or Bridwell and not necessarily both. So I add a plus sign in front of the words. “shady grove cemetery” +Kentucky +herman +bridwell. The plus sign tells Google to find only matches that contain ALL the words that are preceded by a plus sign. This search gave me a link to a 53 page, sourced, family history on the Bridwell family with contact information for the researcher.

This is just an example of one way to utilize Google to help you search for your ancestors.

I put together a quick reference sheet to help you with the most common commands and tools that are available when using Google.

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05 August 2009

Free access to 1930 census during August at Footnote.com

Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Footnote Promotes Census Info

Lindon, Utah-based Footnote.com, the online historical document site, said it is giving the public free access to a portion of the firm's documents--specifically, its 1930 US Census information--during the month of August. The firm said the free offer will allow people to get information about their ancestors, starting today. Footnote offers its library of historical archives and documents based on monthly and annual subscriptions.
posted on Tuesday, August 4, 2009