Dayna’s Genealogy Toolkit

Dayna Jacobs, AG® www.ongrannystrail.com

This toolkit is full of my go-to links that are not record repositories, but rather are tools to help me find, interpret, and organize my research and records. I think you’ll want to keep them handy, too.

Abbreviations & Acronyms for Genealogy

Animated Atlas – U.S. History Timeline

ArchiveGrid – Find libraries and archives near you

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries

Cheat Sheets – Family Tree Magazine

Citation Creator – EasyBib

Earth Point township and range tools

Encyclopedia of Genealogy on EOGN – Terminology defined

Evernote – Organize your research

Free Forms and Charts – Family Tree Magazine

Free Forms and Charts – Rootsweb

Geographic Names Info System (GNIS)

Google Custom Search – AncestorSearch

Historical Map Archive

Internet Archive – For digitized county and family histories

Learning Center – Free online courses at FamilySearch

Linkpendium

Newspapers – Library of Congress: Chronicling America

Railroad Employee Records

Research Wiki – FamilySearch

Town and County Database (Rootsweb)

United States Digital Map Library

USGS Historical Topographical Map Explorer

Vital Records

Worldcat – Items for interlibrary loan

The ICAPGen ℠ service mark and the Accredited Genealogist® and AG® registered marks are the sole property of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists.  All Rights Reserved.

Google Books Reduces its Digitizing and Preservation of old Books while Internet Archive Increases its Efforts at the Same Thing

On Granny's Trail:

I love using Internet Archive, so this is great news on that front.

Originally posted on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter:

An article in The Message states that Google is reducing its efforts at digitizing old books. That certainly is a loss for genealogists, historians, and many others. In what appears to be an unrelated move, the Internet Archive is INCREASING its efforts at digitizing old books, adding 1,000 books to the online collection EACH DAY. Perhaps there is hope for genealogists after all.

In 2004, Google Books signaled the company’s intention to scan every known book, partnering with libraries and developing its own book scanner capable of digitizing 1,000 pages per hour. Since then, the company has digitized millions of old books, creating a valuable archive. Google Books is still online, but has curtailed its scanning efforts in recent years, likely discouraged by a decade of legal wrangling still in appeal. The Google Books Blog stopped updating in 2012 and the Twitter account has been dormant since February 2013.

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Genealogy’s Star: Online Digital Newspaper Collections by State — The Lists Introduced

This post is reblogged from Genealogy’s Star blog, by James Tanner.  There are some great links to lists of online newspaper collections and it seemed worthwhile to just reblog the whole post. I will soon reblog his list of online newspapers by state, or you can just go straight to his blog for it.

There are two preliminary parts to this blog post which include an introduction and a review of the applicable copyright law. Here are the links should you care to review the background and issues of this very interesting topic.

There are quite a few collections of newspapers that cover extensive blocks of time and geography, i.e. they include more than one state’s newspapers. It is important to understand that there is some overlap between these huge online collections, but any thorough genealogical search would necessarily require searching every single collection. Of course, that could become a problem since most of these collections are subscription based and not only does the genealogist have to find all of the collections, they also have to figure out how to access them and possibly pay for the content. I say this so that the potential researcher does not feel comfortable ignoring the subscription based sites and only researching the free online content.

You might also recognize that the effectiveness of the various search engines and the degree to which the optical character recognition programs work affects the ability of a researcher to find specific content using a search. There is really no way that a careful researcher can be assured that there are not important facts about any given ancestor other than to do a page-by-page search, assuming that the online project provides access to multiple pages of the same search. Researchers should also recognize the fact that helpful information may be contained in paid advertising and display advertising in the newspaper digitization project may not have been included, especially if the advertising consisted of images rather than text. But if you come from an old genealogical tradition, you are used to searching microfilm page and page and this is no different.

As it turns out, unlike digital maps websites, there are exhaustive online references to newspaper collections listing each state of the United States in detail. It also turns out that there are a huge number of websites, far more than you could imagine. There are hundreds of websites. Just think what a great opportunity this is. You will never run out of research opportunities.

There are a substantial online lists of available digitized online newspaper collections. See the following websites for lists:

Here is a list of the multi-state online digital newspaper projects that I have found. I do not pretend that this is an exhaustive list, because these collections are sometimes hard to find online and also because new projects pop up frequently. Just because I was unable to find a specific newspaper project for any of the states or territories does not mean that there are no online digitized newspapers from that jurisdiction, any such content may be included in one or more of the large collections.
Now on to the state-by-state list. I am listing the states but still have very limited access to the Web here in Alaska and will republish this shortly with the data. Thanks for your patience.

Animated Atlas American History Timeline, and Other Interesting Timeline and Map sites

The most popular post on On Granny’s Trail concerns the Animated Atlas American History Timeline, so I thought it would be worth revisiting. I’m also posting links to a few other animated maps and timelines, and mapping sites with a twist, like the New York Times Immigration Explorer,  History Pin, and Timeline of Events in the West, There are lots of these kinds of timelines out there, so find one you like and put it in your genealogy toolkit–handy sites that help you organize and interpret your research.  I like the Animated Atlas American History Timeline:

 

 

It is user-friendly and easy to take in visually, with 8 layers that illustrate when states and territories were created, U.S. Presidents in office, major events in society, Native American, the world, science and culture.  New layers available are women and labor.  A handy slider at the bottom zips you through the years.

Having a historical timeline in your toolkit will help you understand the events that affected your ancestors’ lives, and can give you clues about what kinds of records to search.  Was there a war going on? Did the creation of a territory provide opportunity for free land?  Did world events stimulate immigration from certain countries?

Along with historical timelines for the nation, consider finding or creating state and county timelines, and always create a timeline for a family.  That should be one of the first things you do as you begin your research, but it can also be something that will help you when you are well down the road in your research and may have come to a dead end.

Integrate your family timeline with county, state, and national timelines and you may be surprised at the new ideas that emerge for your research.

TIP:  Keep your genealogy toolkit handy by creating a “Toolkit” folder on the “favorites” or “bookmark bar” in your internet browser, or create a  “Toolkit” folder in the Evernote program.

Test Your Knowledge of Texas History with a Virtual Race Across the Lone Star State

On Granny's Trail:

Did your ancestor spend time in the Lone Star State? You might enjoy this race across the state and learn something to help you in your research.

Originally posted on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter:

How well do you know Texas? Starting Monday, March 9th, the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) will celebrate Texas History Month with its first-of-its-kind online social game that will foster your love of Texas history as you virtually travel across Texas, testing your knowledge of the Lone Star state along the way.

This online social game tests players’ knowledge of Texas history as they go on a virtual tour of the state visiting historically significant sites. The Texas State Historical Association will even have some great prizes to giveaway including weekend getaway packages, Texas-sized 60″ Vizio TVs, and Traeger smoker grills.

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“Burned” WWI Personnel File for Allen Lee Millard Gooch

Using the online eVetRecs at the National Archives website http://www.archives.gov/veterans/ I ordered a World War I service record for my grandfather, Allen Lee Millard Gooch.  I knew my chances of getting a file were slim because in 1973 a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, destroyed 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), including 80% of personnel discharged 1 Nov 1912-1 Jan 1960.

Indeed, I received a reply to my request that said my requested records were part of the 1973 fire.  I was sad.  Then, amazingly, I received a thick packet with much, or possibly all, of my grandfather’s file with copies of the “burned” records!  Here is a page:

This record–an “Application for Certificate in Lieu of Lost or Destroyed Discharge Certificate”–proves that you never know just where you will find some of the best information.  This record provides us with:

  1. Full name
  2. Place/date of enlistment and discharge
  3. Military unit
  4. Physical description
  5. City and State of birth
  6. Approximate birth year
  7. Probable residence after discharge
  8. Occupation
  9. Signature

This is only one of many pages in this record, and the others are equally interesting.  I may post some more soon.

This record also proves you should never give up just because you are told a repository burned.  Yes, the records burned, but hey—not entirely!!  Let’s hear it for the 42 fire districts that responded to the alarm and battled the blaze for 2 days.

BONUS

I received an unexpected bonus one day when a box containing replacement medals for my grandfather’s WWI service arrived in the mail:  A Purple Heart, a WWI Victory Medal, and a medal for his participation in the battles of Meuse-Argonne and St. Mihiel.  What a treasure!  I will post photos soon.

To learn more about the Military service records and Official Military Personnel Files go to http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/about-service-records.html

Pre-WWI military records can be ordered here:

http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/pre-ww-1-records.html

The Digital Public Library of America

On Granny's Trail:

This has not even been on my radar before. I’m glad to learn about this online library resource…

Originally posted on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter:

The Digital Public Library of America is one of the most useful online libraries available today. It is new, having been formed less than two years ago. It is not a genealogy library. Rather, it is a general-purpose library that just happens to have a lot of genealogy material in addition to other topics. The Digital Public Library of America’s mission is to make cultural and scientific works more accessible to the public.

At the time these words are being written, the Digital Public Library of America lists 8,416,553 items from libraries, archives, and museums. A search on the word “genealogy” returns a list of 65,707 items available via the library’s online portal.

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