Family documents such as letters, diaries, and even original land deeds, like the one pictured, are hiding among the manuscript collections held by archives, university libraries, historical societies and other repositories around the world. Since they are generally not easily accessible, especially online, many people overlook this wonderful family resource.
U.S. State Archives Online - Record Collections, Finding Aids, and Catalogs
10 Questions to Ask a Research Facility Before You Visit
Two new free online study group options are now available for discussing and learning from the book Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, GG, CGL, FASG, FNGS. This book is published by the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and is now available. It can be ordered directly from the National Genealogical Society here, and will also be available at next week's NGS Family History Conference. I blogged about this book last fall under its then working title, after taking a course taught by Dr. Jones at the British Institute based on exercises from the pre-press copy. The press release from National Genealogical Society also describes the new book:
I'm excited to be presenting at and attending the 2013 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference next week in Las Vegas, Nevada. For those of you who will also be attending, I've highlighted a few tools to help you plan and make the most of your experience:
1) The 2013 NGS Conference Syllabus is now available online for registered attendees. I encourage you to browse through it now so you can start thinking about which sessions you most want to attend, and either print pages for the sessions you wish to attend, or download a copy to your tablet, computer or other device if you desire. To view and download the syllabus, log in to the NGS website at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/2013syllabus. Please allow up to 10 minutes for the download to complete as the file is very large. Attendees will also receive a digital copy of the syllabus at conference check in. You can prepare for the conference before you leave home by viewing and printing syllabi for the sessions you would like to attend. NGS will not have syllabus printing stations at the conference, although you can print from your flash drive syllabus at the LVH business center for 30 cents per page in black and white, plus an additional $1 to open a file and print from a CD or flash drive.
From the Naturalization Act of 1790 through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, a large number of laws placed restrictions on naturalization and immigration in and to the United States. A knowledge of the laws that regulated immigration and citizenship is important for understanding the conditions under which your ancestors may have been granted or lost their citizenship, or records which may have been created based on their alien or citizenship status.
This Timeline of Major U.S. Immigration & Citizenship Laws is not exhaustive, and does not include all acts that temporarily extended the provisions of earlier acts, or affected a small segment of the population.
Civil registration of births, deaths, and marriages in France began in 1792. Because these records cover the entire population, are easily accessible and indexed, and include people of all denominations, they are a vital resource for French genealogy research. The information presented varies by locality and time period, but often includes the individual's date and place of birth and the names of the parents and/or spouse.
One additional bonus of French civil records, is that birth records often include what is known as "margin entries," which can lead to additional records. From 1897, these margin entries will often include marriage information (date and location). Divorces are generally noted from 1939, deaths from 1945, and legal separations from 1958.
The best part of French civil registration records in my opinion, however, is that so many of them are now available online. Records of civil registration are typically held in registries in local mairie (town hall), with copies deposited each year with the local magistrate's court. Records over 100 years old are placed in the Archives Départementales (series E) and are available for public consultation. It is possible to obtain access to the more recent records, but they are not usually not available online due to privacy restrictions, and you will generally be required to prove, through the use of birth certificates, your direct descent from the person in question. Many Departmental Archives have placed portions of their holdings online, often beginning with the actes d'etat civils. Unfortunately, online access to the indexes and digital images has been restricted to 120 years by the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL).
So how to find and access them? Read More...
Many U.S. census records provide details beyond the basic names, ages and relationships. Hidden among the census columns may be additional clues, from a street address to the age of a mother at the time of her first marriage, which could lead you to research in new records. As with all genealogy research, look at every single detail on the target census page (and the pages surrounding it as well) and ask yourself what it tells you about your ancestor. Do the marriage age, occupation, number of children, etc. all make sense with what you know about him or her? If you spot an anomaly that makes you pause, then follow it up - it could just be an error in the census, or it could be the source of a new discovery about your ancestor. While the article I've linked to here is specific to U.S. census records, the technique applies to census records in all countries.
"I have avenged my ancestors," said Acadian novelist Antonine Maillet in 1979 about her novel "Pélagie-la-Charrette." In this work and another novel "La Sagouine," Antonine tells the stories of the men and women disenfranchised by the 18th century Acadian expulsion.
Antonine Maillet is just one of many descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who settled in Acadia, a colony of New France, encompassing the present-day Canadian Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, as well as portions of Quebec and the U.S. state of Maine. Despite the long, troubled history of the Acadians, it is often possible to research Acadian ancestors back to Acadia, if not to France. This is due, in large part, to the efforts of Acadian genealogical pioneers such as Acadian genealogist and Canadian archivist, Placide Gaudet; clergy such as Patrice Gallant, Hector Hébert and Clément Cormier; and most recently, Stephen White, author of "Dictionnaire génealogique des familles acadiennes," who have compiled a variety of published reference works on the early Acadians and their descendants.
When researching Acadian and Cajun ancestors it is easy to get lost in a maze of people of the same name. For this reason it is important, as with all genealogy research, to begin with what you know about your own family and work backwards step by step, fully researching each generation before going back to the next. Learn more about Researching Acadian & Cajun Ancestors in North America, and then take your research online with these Online Acadian Genealogy Databases & Records.
Genealogy webinars are a great resource for online learning and education, especially for genealogists who find it difficult to make it to genealogy conferences and other live events. A wide variety of genealogy-focused webinars are available online for free each month, many available to the general public. Here are some highlights of the many free genealogy webinars available for April:
- April 3 - Evidence: Guidelines for Evaluating Genealogical Evidence with Linda Woodward Geiger, CG, CGL. Sponsored by Legacy Family Tree Webinars.
- April 6 - Break Down Brick Walls with Home Sources, with Denise Levenick. Sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree Extension.
- April 9 - Developing Research Plans While Staying on Track in a Modern World, with J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA. Sponsored by the Association of Professional Genealogists.
- April 9 - Digging Through Documents Word by Word, with Debbie Mieszala, CG. Sponsored by the Illinois State Genealogical Society.
- April 10 - That First Trip to the Courthouse, with Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL. Sponsored by Legacy Family Tree Webinars.
- April 17 - Trip the Tree Fantastic: Intriguing Family History Trips for the Whole Family, with Janet Hovorka. Sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree Extension.
- April 24 - What's New at FamilySearch, with Devin Ashby. Sponsored by Legacy Family Tree Webinars.
- April 30 - An Autosomal DNA Primer: Sex Doesn't Matter Any More, with Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL. Sponsored by the Association of Professional Genealogists.
This is by no means a full list of all of the free webinars available this month. Visit websites such as GeneaWebinars, or the website of your local societies to find others of interest.
Beginning with the Congressional Act of 16 September 1776 and the Land Ordinance of 1785, a wide variety of Congressional acts governed the distribution of federal land in the thirty public land states. Various acts opened up new territories, established the practice of offering land as compensation for military service, and extended preemption rights to squatters. These acts each resulted in the first transfer of land from the federal government to individuals.
This Timeline of Major U.S. Public Land Acts is not exhaustive, and does not include acts that temporarily extended the provisions of earlier acts, or were passed for the benefit of individuals.
It is a sad reality that most Jews researching their families will eventually discover relatives who were victims of the Holocaust. Many of you may already know of these ancestors. If at some point you want to know more about what they endured, or are searching for relatives who may have survived the Holocaust, there are a number of Holocaust databases and resources available to help you learn more about the Holocaust, its victims, and its survivors.
If you need help getting your family tree back to ancestors who may have been impacted by the Holocaust, or want to take your family tree back even further, here are some of my favorite free online Jewish genealogy databases to get you started as well as a beginner's guide to researching Jewish roots.
Related: Is My Surname Jewish?