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Genealogy HowTo

May 8, 2014 - Your Genealogy C.R.E.W. - How Joining a Genealogy Society Will Get Your Research on the Road to Success!
   by Dana Elliott

Let's face it - most people's idea of genealogy, even for those immersed in the hobby, usually involves solitary hours in front of a computer or in a library or courthouse digging through dusty records. The only interaction that may encourage, one would assume, is a 'Gesundheit' from the next carrel over when you sneeze, or maybe a smile at the copy machine.

But does family history research really have to be such a lonely - and lonesome - undertaking? The answer is a resounding: No! You will find genealogy societies in just about every country, every state and many different countries. What's more, you will find that a little hobnobbing with fellow genealogists is more than just social fun - it may be just the thing to put your research in the fast lane to success. After all, every good race car driver has a pit crew of his or her own - if you want to make that finish line and break down that brick wall or write that family history, you would do well to find a C.R.E.W. of your own!

Sep 9, 2013 -

How to Photograph Tombstones   
by Megan Churchwell
Headstones are monuments to our ancestors, linking you directly with your past. When researching your ancestry, a good-quality photograph of the headstone can be invaluable. However, achieving a clear photo of an old, weathered stone can be difficult. This is even true in cases when the stone is easy to read while you're standing in front of it. With some careful planning and patience, however, it is possible to achieve clear images of even the most worn tombstones.

Jun 13, 2013 - Finding Immigration Records
   from England to Canada, the United States, or Australia by J. P. Hancock

If you have been researching your family history very long chances are that you will need to retrace your family's footsteps not just in time, but across an ocean. The great news is that it has never been easier to discover immigration records. On the downside, there is such an array of information that it can sometimes seem daunting to find your particular needle in the haystack. However, as with all family history research, a little preparation and a methodical approach will pay dividends.

I live in England and, thanks to some of the websites I list in this article, I have managed to trace ancestors and living relatives to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. This has been one of the most rewarding parts of my research, made all the more satisfying since I was working with an incredibly common surname. My discoveries did not happen all at once, but over a period of years. Here are some tips and suggested resources for tying up the transatlantic loose ends in your family tree.

Mar 3, 2013 - 5 Tried and True Tips for Overcoming Your Genealogical Brickwalls - Part 1   

Sooner or later you are going to run into a brickwall when researching your ancestors. I have several brickwalls in my research. I decided to review the methods other researchers have used to overcome their genealogical brickwalls; then design a method that might help me have success in breaking down my brickwalls. This article summarizes the steps I developed to help me find those elusive brickwall ancestors.

Sep 21, 2012 - Look Up Your Ancestors: Using City Directories   
by Aubrey Fredrickson
The Library of Congress website describes city directories as being "among the most important sources of information about urban areas and their inhabitants." Were any of your ancestors inhabitants of urban areas? Chances are, at least some of them were. (We're not just talking about big cities. City directories were also often published for smaller cities.) That means that city directories could be quite important to your research. If you've never examined these valuable records, your ancestors might just be waiting for you to look them up. In this article we will discuss why city directories are so valuable to genealogical research and how to go about finding them, as well as some other useful tips.

Jun 24, 2012 - Something about Mary: On the Biographical Trail of an Elusive Authoress
by Larisa S. Asaeli

   My research journey is not typical for genealogists or family historians; it is the journey of a family historian turned scholar. As part of my dissertation research on reform rhetoric I am looking for clues to the mysterious identity of a nineteenth-century Christian novelist, Mary Lund. Eminent scholars in the field of women's rhetorics and literary studies have also searched for details of Mary's life -- and have found nothing beyond the actual books she wrote.... I could not find any biographical information about Mary in my initial searches until I thought about genealogical databases.

Mar 21, 2012 - 5 Tips for Overcoming The Curse of The Common Surname
   My maiden name is Smith and if that is not common enough my grandfathers also had common first names like Charles, William, and James. As I have struggled to locate my Smith ancestors, I discovered that there are a few strategies that can greatly increase the likelihood that I would actually find them. Applying these 5 tips in your research methods can also increase your success in finding not only your Smiths but those ancestors who do not have common names.

Oct 14, 2011 - Canadian Genealogy Online - Part 1 - Civil Registrations and Censuses   

The best records available online for researching your Canadian ancestors include civil registrations, census records, church registers, and cemetery records. The Canadian Researcher is blessed with the availability of a plethora of genealogical records; because of the meticulous record keeping of the Catholic Church, many French Canadian records dating from the 1700s are also available.

Identifying the place in which your ancestors lived and the time period they lived there will help you to discover which online records will be of help to you. If you are searching in a time period other than the ones mentioned here, or your ancestor's name does not come up in the searches, try visiting the websites of other genealogy libraries for the province where your ancestor lived. You can find links to these libraries on MyTrees.com in the Resources menu.

May 4, 2011 - *   
***8 Tips For a Successful Visit to the Family History Library***
Every year about this time my husband and I take a short 2 day trip to the Salt Lake City Family History Center. And every year I search for new ways to get more research done in those 2 days than in the previous year.

On past trips I have often felt overwhelmed by just the thought of the number of resources that were available for me to view. I have found that if I don't prepare myself before visiting the Library, the research outcome will not be very productive. Here are some things I do before going to the FHL that have helped me to be more successful.

Feb 26, 2011 - Free for the Asking: Where to Look for Free Genealogy Help   
Genealogy can be a consuming hobby, for your wallet as well as your time. As more and more genealogists turn to the World Wide Web to uncover their family trees, more and more sources--both free and paid-- are becoming available online. While there are many worthwhile paid services that can give you access to family trees, vital records, and research assistance, there's quite a lot of free family history help out there as well. In this article, we will discuss how you can find free help to grow your family tree. We'll focus mainly on online sources, although we'll end with a few offline suggestions as well. Keep in mind that not all of the fabulous genealogical resources out there are available online, or for free. But hopefully, these suggestions will be able to help guide you to some of those free resources that are out there.

Nov 6, 2010 - Capturing the Memories One Question at a Time   
As technology becomes more affordable and ever more present in our lives, new avenues of preserving family history are opened to us. Previously, we've published articles on digital photographs, online scrapbooks, oral histories, and digital voice recorders. Each of these tools represents a layer of memories that can be added to our family history, but perhaps the most comprehensive way to record a memory is to preserve it on film. In this article, we'll discuss some easy ways to conduct video interviews with family members.

Aug 19, 2010 - Ten Methods for Finding Your Female Ancestors   
Unfortunately, researching our female ancestors is often much more difficult than researching their male counterparts. Not all records list women's names and fewer still give a maiden name. So, how do you go about filling in the details of the feminine half of your family tree? In this article, we will suggest ten methods for locating information on your female ancestors.

Jun 26, 2010 - Putting Together a Great Family Reunion   
Welcome to summer and all the fun of gardening, sitting out in the sun, and...family reunions! Reunions are genealogy in the making. Not only do they provide an opportunity to bond with family members and make wonderful memories, but they can also be a great way to connect with past generations by sharing your precious genealogical finds. How can you do all this? MyTrees.com has some wonderful tools to help you make the most out of this summer's reunion.

Mar 31, 2010 - Larisa Asaeli reviews "Eyewitness to the Civil War: The Complete History from Secession to Reconstruction",    by Stephen G. Hyslop, Ed. by Neil Kagan.
If you are like me, more interested in people than battles and troop movements, then is the perfect book to complete your personal family history library. Published by the National Geographic Society, this book details the critical years leading up to, including, and after the American Civil War, with the major emphasis on the years 1861-1865. Stunning visually and content rich, this coffee-table book is not one that will sit gathering dust.

Dec 4, 2009 - *** Family Traditions - Discovering Your Heritage   
As genealogists, we can discover valuable clues about our ancestors by researching the roots of our holiday traditions. What a great way to celebrate our heritage -- and it may even help us learn something about our family tree. Families sometimes continue traditions even after their meaning and origins have been forgotten. Rediscovering where these traditions came from may help us to find the places from which our ancestors came.

Oct 1, 2009 - What's in a Name? Part 3: Heraldry and Your Family Crest
   You've probably heard the word heraldry before, but have you ever wondered what it really means? You may have seen products advertising a coat of arms for your surname, also sometimes called a family crest. How can a person know if a Coat of Arms for their surname is legitimate? One of the many vague notions we have about heraldry is that a coat of arms may be inherited. And just about anything that can be inherited has instant appeal to us as genealogists because it can tell us something about our family and maybe even help us trace our ancestors. In this final article of the "What's In a Name" series, I'll attempt to straighten out some of our beliefs about heraldry, particularly as it applies to genealogy.

Aug 8, 2009 - What's in a name? Part 2: Your Surname**    To the family historian, a surname is a precious gift handed down from generation to generation. It links us to our ancestors as well as to the generations that will come after us. It tells us who we are and where we have come from. Do you want to know more about your surname? Where did it originate and what does it mean? We'll be talking about the history and meaning of surnames in this article, as well as addressing some concerns about how to search for your ancestors when the surname spelling may have changed.

Jun 3, 2009 - A Family Migration Study
   by Karen Clifford, AG®, FUGA
"On the back of an old photograph found in a family album was listed the name of Benjamin, born 1908. There were five other children in the picture, with the youngest, Ben, seated on what appeared to be his mother's lap. According to the stamp on the picture, the photographer was in a town in California. Benjamin looked to be nearly two years old. How could more details be learned about Ben's family? He was the end of the line for this researcher."

Karen Clifford, professional genealogist, uses a case study to show how migration studies can be used to solve genealogical mysteries. Learn what clues to look for in records and what questions to ask yourself as you follow your ancestor's trail.

Apr 1, 2009 - Migration Helps Solve Genealogy Problems
   by Karen Clifford, AG®, FUGA
"Today researchers are confronted constantly with decisions as to which family, parent, or spouse is the correct person to add to the known family tree to extend it another generation. Sometimes the possible contending individual lives a long distance away and it doesn't seem likely they belong to your family."

In this article, professional genealogist Karen Clifford explains how you can use the principles of migration to identify which ancestor belongs in your family tree.

Jan 28, 2009 - Online Scrapbooking and Your Family Tree
   by Aubrey Fredrickson
Photographs are a valuable part of family history. Family pictures can become treasured keepsakes whether they're of living family members or long ago ancestors. But how do you ensure that those precious photographs are seen and cherished, rather than hidden away in the shoe box under the bed?

Nov 27, 2008 - Preserving Family Stories Using a Digital Voice Recorder(with Buying Guide)   
by Kaye Nelson and edited by Aubrey Fredrickson
In this age of remarkable technology, there is another way to record memories -- digitally. No, we're not talking about digital cameras. We're talking about digital recording devices, for capturing not only the names and dates of family history, but also the priceless sound of a loved one's voice.

Oct 10, 2008 - Digitizing Old Slides and Photos Using Flat Bed Scanners
   by Justine Dorton
No written series on digitizing old photos would be complete without a thorough round-up and discussion of flat bed scanners - you know, the ones that everyone felt so completely compelled to buy back in the late 90s, but nobody really knew why? There were good reasons back then and there are good reasons today.

May 22, 2008 - The Process for Finding Your Ancestor's Homeland
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
Perhaps you have had the opportunity in the past to identify a new ancestor in the United States. Maybe you went so far as to trace that ancestor to the place he or she arrived in America. But as you tried to make the leap to the original homeland of the ancestor, you found many individuals with the same name--so many, in fact, that you could not tell who the proper ancestor was.

Nov 29, 2007 - Learn About Migration Patterns
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
Many experts have shared their experiences with migration in various excellent resources. Learn how to use migration patterns to find your elusive ancestors. References and links to some of the many authoritative resources are included in this article

Aug 12, 2007 - Migration Studies Help Extend Family Lines
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
A closer look at your ancestor's movement patterns, as evidenced in some of the same records used to link those families together, is one way to extend the family even further back in time. Plotting of these movements is called a "migration study" by family historians.

Dec 24, 2006 - New Records for Tracking Your Scottish Ancestors
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
One "hot" item at the FGS Conference was the introduction to the Scotland's People Center by presenter, Joanna O'Rourke. She enthusiastically explained that all the records are being digitized at the key official genealogical records providers such as the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS), and they are being made available to the public in Scotland. For those of us in the U.S., the exciting news was that these original records will be made available online to those who wish to pay.

Apr 8, 2006 - Is Your Family History Data at Risk?    There are few things that cause greater stress than finding that your Family History data, which took 25 years to assemble, cannot be accessed due to some computer failure. How can you evaluate if you have sufficient backups of your data? And what is the risk that the backup will also be readable and contain all of your data? There are so many factors to consider when calculating the risks of data loss; computer hardware, computer programs, storage media, virus vulnerability just to name a few.

Jun 17, 2005 - Your ancestors may be Hiding in the Ancestry Archive Index, masquerading as some other surname because of a misspelling.
   Your ancestors may have always spelled their name in a certain way, but believe me those who actually recorded their names, like census takers, county clerks, and tax collectors, could have spelled it in numerous other ways. It may be that your surname was spelled phonetically, or characters may have been left out or added. Character reversals are especially common when names are extracted for an Index like those you find online.

Nov 5, 2004 - The Name Is the Same.    The ages are about the same. They are in the same state. Are They the Same Person?
By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA

Apr 8, 2004 - Where Did I Put That Paper? A Website Tutorial on Organizing your Genealogy Materials.
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA

Oct 30, 2003 - Just beginning your genealogy research? Here are the 5 Steps to Genealogy Research.
   Find out why the experts say the first resource to search is one like MyTrees.com.

Jul 25, 2003 - Planning Your Research
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
It doesn't take long once you have started your genealogy adventure to become overwhelmed by the numerous resources available to search, and confused as to where to begin searching. Research success cannot be achieved without organizing and establishing specific goals. A Research Planner can help to focus your attention on a specific goal. It helps you plan in advance what you want to do.

May 30, 2003 - LESSON #6: Collateral line research
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
A question that comes up in many research projects is: "Why work on collateral lines?"
First of all, what is a collateral line? This is a line that is not a direct relative. An example would be a great uncle or cousin. There are many reasons to gather information on a collateral line. Sometimes information on an uncle or a cousin can provide the missing piece of an otherwise confusing research puzzle. Consider the following example:

Mar 2, 2003 - LESSON 5: Oral History: A Voice From Our Past
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
Over 30 ago, my husband's grandmother passed away. We were left with fond memories of her life and how her gentle ways filled us with such appreciation for her, but after all this time we had all but forgotten her voice. We were newlyweds when we last met with her and now we were grandparents ourselves. Imagine our surprise this past Christmas, when a cousin sent us a CD filled with her voice recordings, an oral history of her life. It brought tears to our eyes as we remembered her voice and all the memories that went with it. It was the best Christmas gift ever.

Nov 25, 2002 - LESSON 3 - Using Archives and Court Houses Effectively
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA

Aug 7, 2002 - LESSON 2 Solving Genealogy Problems by Developing a Personal Research Team
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
As you may remember last month, we came up with our personal research team. Tim was the traditional genealogist who felt uncomfortable with the computer and the Internet but loved genealogy. He generated lots of ideas and the rest of the team put the Internet and Computer to work to help him achieve these ideas. He would get documents for us, compose letters or find addresses of where to write, and wasn't afraid to follow-up on details when others of the team were busy. His pleasant manner aided the whole team several times, particularly when getting needed information from others.

May 15, 2002 - LESSON 1 Solving Genealogy Problems Using Traditional, Internet and Computer    Sources/Methods
By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
The Olympics just ended in Salt Lake City, where we witnessed teamwork in motion -- a wonderful thing to watch. Teamwork in research can also be successful if family members (even internet families you meet on the web) can divide up the work according to their unique abilities, talents, tools, and experiences. Watch what happens when our "genealogy" family gets together.

Feb 19, 2002 - Was Your US Ancestor Indexed with the Ellis Island Immigrants?    It may surprise you to know that many US Citizens were indexed in the Ellis Island online database. If your ancestor happened to visit another country between 1892 and 1924, and used the Port of New York to return to the US, he would be listed on the ship's passenger list -- called a ship's manifest -- and therefore indexed in the Ellis Island Online database.

Sep 7, 2001 - It's Back to School Time
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
With summer winding down and life returning to a normal routine, it's time to resume research. Karen Clifford introduces us to one of her star pupils and shares some of his secrets for genealogy research success.

Jul 27, 2001 - A Recipe for a Great Family Reunion
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
Summer is Here! This month's focus is on how to best share and save all the family information you gather at your reunions. Helpful hints, How to's, and much more.

Jun 21, 2001 - Hidden Clues within Records
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
While focusing in on your sources and notes you may be surprised by what you will find. This newsletter gives you some great ideas on new and innovative ways to look for hidden clues within records you already have.

May 11, 2001 - Knowing When You Have Found Your Ancestors
   By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
This issue is filled with great ideas that will help you sort through available genealogical evidence. Utilize The Care Formula to know and document the difference between possible finds and valuable facts. Also in this issue, free reminders, pointers on how to add valuable documentation and source notes to your MyTrees on line database.

Feb 19, 2001 - What Do You Really Know About Your Ancestors?   
By Karen Clifford, AG, FUGA
Pedigree analysis, or the analysis of information about individuals and families on our pedigrees, if it is done correctly and completely what are the benifits, helping us understand what is, or may be, inaccurate or missing in our genealogy. Suspect or missing information identifies what research needs to be done. Identifying what needs to be done leads to research objectives and goals to obtain the needed information or documentation.

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