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February 28, 2006

Finding names with the Lord's help

For this month's LDS entry I'm linking to 3 amazing stories shared in the August 2005 Ensign. The article is called I Found It!
Whether we search for information about our family members in a cemetery, on an Internet site, or among faded old papers, the Lord will help us.

Three different people share their experiences of being prompted by the Lord in finding names or dates they were looking for. Then a quote is shared from Elder Melvin J. Ballard (1873–1939) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He testified "that the spirit and influence of your dead will guide those who are interested in finding those records. If there is anywhere on the earth anything concerning them, you will find it. … But you must begin to work.”

February 27, 2006

Genealogy Guys Podcast

Once a week there is a 30 minute audio broadcast from the Genealogy Guys. The Genealogy guys are:

George G. Morgan, internationally-recognized genealogy expert, author, and lecturer. His "Along Those Lines ..." online column at Ancestry.com is read by up to 2 million people each Friday. His most recent book, How to Do Everything with Your Genealogy (McGraw-Hill/Osborne) is one of the biggest-selling references in the last 20 years and is being used on several U.S. college campuses as a textbook. His hundreds of magazine, journal, and online articles have appeared all over the world, from the U.S. and Canada to Europe and Singapore. He is a member of more than 20 genealogical societies in the U.S. and the U.K.

Drew Smith, MLS, instructor at the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He, too, is a nationally-recognized genealogical author and lecturer. He is the "Cybrarian" columnist for MyFamily.com's quarterly magazine Genealogical Computing, is a regular contributor to the NGS NewsMagazine, and was the technical editor for George's book How to Do Everything with Your Genealogy. He is a member of the boards of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Florida Genealogical Society (Tampa).

These two have been publishing a genealogy discussion every week for about six months now. You can listen to them on your computer or on an IPOD or other MP3 player. They usually broadcast on Sunday, but occasionally use a different day of the week. You can download and listen to any past sessions via their website. I finally got around to listening to one the other day and it was very interesting.

February 23, 2006

Our Living Tree

I recently received an advertisement from a worker at Our Living Tree. The advertisement is for what their company calls a Celebration Calendar.

We can take your file from FamilySearch or any other gedcom file, add photos, and create a Family Calendar filled with photos on each date you want to celebrate. We like to show different snippets of Family History for each month of the year. Over time, these calendars become part of your family history that you can pass on.

It's a pleasure to have my calendar hanging in front of me everyday as a wonderful reminder of my family. As one of eleven children, it was very hard to remember the birthdays of all my neices and nephews. Now, I get great comfort in knowing I am not going to miss anyone's birthday or anniversary because their photos are right there on the calendar.

Here is a sample of the calendar.


February 22, 2006

Tips for working with Volunteers

A while ago I wrote an entry about Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. This is a great group, and there are several other places to find volunteers. One genealogy volunteer submitted some helpful tips when working with volunteers in the February 17th Ancestry Daily News. Here they are:

1. Be specific in your request. Asking for ". . . anything you can find on John Smith" is asking too much. If you need to know the date of death, place of burial, or want an obituary, then be specific and only ask for what you think the volunteer can find.

2. Don't abuse the generosity of the volunteer. Make sure to search the Web, or call libraries etc. before turning to a volunteer. Volunteers are just that--"volunteers"--and don't have the time or energy to do all your research for you.

3. Don't misuse the volunteer system. If you find more than one volunteer for an area you are searching for information in, choose one, not all of the volunteers. The last thing a volunteer wants is to run into another volunteer searching for the exact same information, in the exact same place, for the exact same person.

4. Don't forget about expenses. Not all records can be found for free, and most volunteers don't live at the library or courthouse. Understand that some may require you to pay their gas, copies, postage, etc. They are not making any money volunteering, but it shouldn't cost them money to help you.

5. Don't expect instant success. Keep in mind that not all volunteers are online all the time. Some check their e-mail at the library on certain days, or with all the disasters in the U.S. (floods, fires, etc.) may not have the ability to check e-mail at all for a week or so. Volunteers have "real lives" outside of volunteering. Normally, you should give at least a week or two to hear back from them. They also may only make trips to the place you need your research done once a week or even once a month, so please be patient.

6. Give the volunteer the information they need to fill your request. You don't have to write a book, but at least make sure to give any names, dates, or places the volunteer would need to complete your request.

7. Check the rules of the website the volunteer is associated with. Not all organizations that give you access to volunteers allow them to look up living people. There are many that do and have links or volunteers to help with that. Be sure of the rules, read the FAQ carefully so as not to waste your time or theirs asking for something they can't help you with.

8. Thank your volunteer. This is the most important tip. Whether you send a thank you e-mail, handwritten card, or sign a guestbook, let the volunteer know you received the information and say THANK YOU. That is all most volunteers want.

Bobbi Dunn
Volunteer for RAOGK, OBITL, OKGenWeb, USGenWeb and more!
Depew, OK

February 21, 2006

Relationship Finder v2

Yesterday I posted websites shared by Dick Eastman on researching the genealogy of U.S. Presidents. Someone named Nate posted a comment to Eastman's entry about a project through BYU called Relationship Finder v2.

If you or a close relative appear in Ancestral File, the Relationship Finder v2 project at BYU will tell you instantly if you are related to US Presidents and a number of other famous people: http://roots.cs.byu.edu/digroots2/.

I decided to try this website since I have many ancestors in the Ancestral File. I found my great-grandfather, Leander Emil Lund, on FamilySearch and located his Ancestral File Number(AFN). Then I entered that into the Relationship Finder and it asked me which groups I wanted to search. The options are:

* Current Apostles
* Declaration Signers
* Early Apostles
* Early LDS
* Eight Witnesses
* European Royalty
* Famous Americans
* Famous English
* Famous Europeans
* Famous Writers
* Martin Handcart Co
* Mayflower
* Military Explorers
* Past Seventies
* Prophets
* Prophets Wives
* Science Technology
* Seventy
* Three Witnesses
* U.S. Presidents

I searched about half of the groups, so it took a few minutes. It then told me that I'm related to Russell M. Nelson, a current apostle in the LDS church. It said Elder Nelson and my great-grandfather are 3rd cousins once removed and that their common ancestor is Peder Larsen born in 1752 in Norway. I called my father immediately and told him the news and he had no idea we tied into Elder Nelson's line either, so it was pretty exciting to find out.

February 20, 2006

President's Day

Yesterday Dick Eastman posted an entry about President's Day suggesting we take this day and research some of the U.S. President's ancestry to see if we're related. He listed different links to websites with lots of information about the Presidents. Here are the links he shared:

Presidential Ancestral Charts at

Genealogy of the U.S. presidents:

Ancestry of George W. Bush:

Presidential Genealogy and Family History:

Ancestry of George Washington:

Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln:

Ancestry of John F. Kennedy:

Gerald R. Ford Genealogical Information:

Ancestry of Rutherford B. Hayes:

February 14, 2006

Finding Women's Maiden Names

About a month ago my mom found a helpful article in the Daily Herald titled, Strategies For Finding Women's Maiden Names. The article was written by LaRae Free Kerr and gives 9 different ideas for locating a women's maiden name. They are:

1. Inspect your own family records
2. Check the family records belonging to other people
3. Find the County (or city) marriage record
4. Check the big databases such as FamilySearch, Ancestry.com and Genealogy.com
5. Search newspapers for your family
6. Search Daughters of the American Revolution Bible records
7. Search Censuses for mother-n-laws, brother-n-laws, etc.
8. Research land deeds
9. Check probate records

To learn more about each step, please visit the article. LaRae also gave one other helpful suggestion.

There is one aid essential to finding female maiden names. It is Reassembling Female Lives, a National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 88, Number 3, Sept. 2000, available for about $7 at NGS Bookstore, 4527 Seventeenth Street North, Arlington, VA 22207-2399 or e-mail to bookstore@ngsgenealogy.org.

February 13, 2006

Genealogical Heroes

Back at the beginning of January Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak wrote an article for the Ancestry Daily News titled, Unsung Genealogical Heroes. I have had that article bookmarked since then in order to read it and investigate the people she talked about. I finally got around to it this morning and Smolenyak has found some people who have done great work for genealogy.

Steve Morse was the first one on the list. He was the only one she mentioned that I've actually heard of. I've written a few articles about his website as well, since I found it listed as one of the top-rated websites by professional genealogists.

Stephen P. Morse's One-Step Database
Stephen P. Morse's One-Step Database Part II

Joe Beine was the next person on the list. He is the maker of the website, Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records. This was the person I was most excited to hear about. Within 10 minutes of going to his online guide to death indexes, I found at least 20 of my ancestors' cemetery records in Grundy County, Missouri. I have lots of new dates and people to add to my file. What a great site.

To find out about the other 3 "unsung genealogical heroes," please visit Megan's article. There are really some great people out there doing generous work for other genealogists.

February 10, 2006

Family Tree

The LDS church, who put together the FamilySearch website, has been working on a whole new system called Family Tree. I first learned a little bit about this project back in September at the FGS Conference in Salt Lake City. Jay Verkler, from the LDS church, was the keynote speaker and talked about this new system.

At the end of December 2005, the LDS church released the first version of Family Tree to a small group of beta testers to test out the system. I have been a part of this testing but have decided not to write about it yet. One of the other beta testers, Renee Zamora, has written some very thorough articles on Family Tree though and if you are interested in more information, the benefits, and future release dates please check with her links:

FamilySearch's New Feature Family Tree
Beta 1 for Family Tree Ends

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