Monday, December 15, 2014

Join Gena and Jean: SCGS Webinar Series

You have to love a webinar. You can watch some great education from the comfort of your home. Throw on the comfy slippers, play some background music, order a pizza and sit back and learn!

Gena and Jean love a webinar too and so we hope you'll join us for the 2015 SCGS Jamboree Extension  Series.

The Jamboree folks say of this year's webinars, "We have speakers from New Zealand and Canada, as well as various locations throughout the US. We have new faces giving presentations as well as several members of the SCGS / Jamboree family returning for 2015."

Gena will be presenting on Finding Your Female Ancestor's Story in the Newspaper on January 21st. Click here to sign-up.

Jean will be presenting on October 21st, The Devil is in the Details: Overlooking Minutiae can Create Lineage Limbo. To sign-up click here.

Sign-up now for all the webinars, they look fantastic!

See you online!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Next Event: Gena and Jean Genealogy Journey Goes to Sea

Are you ready? Let's take this act and go on the ocean!

We set sail on 9 July from San Pedro and return to port on 12 July after a quick stop at Ensenada. What's scheduled? Lots of genealogy networking with like-minded people and the plans for some presentations (first to register get to pick the programs) and some one-on-one consultations with . . .

Gena Philibert-Ortega - talk about social history, out-of-the-box options for locating your elusive ancestors, places you may not have considered as being pertinent to your family history, female ancestors, ephemera, domestic habits of your forebears . . . Gena has the key to unlocking the mind!

Jean Wilcox Hibben - talk about German research, Civil War ancestors, Midwestern family, the music interests of your forebears and where to learn about them, alternative directions for finding the apparently eternally lost . . . Jean has all sorts of tricks up that proverbial sleeve!

L. A. (Butch) Hibben - talk about your tech issues: smart phones, software programs, making the most of apps, using your phone to find the ancestors hidden (in cyber space? well, maybe!), getting the most from an interview, collecting stories from your living relatives . . . Butch has all sorts of devices that can make YOUR devices more productive.

It's time to put that IMAGINATION into gear and become more innovative with your research. Let us help, register today by contacting
Andy and Cory Finch: <> or calling 855-332-0100

Inside cabins start at $489.10; ocean view cabins start at $539.10 - per person, double occupancy (suites also available; check for pricing). This includes all meals, lodging, Gena and Jean (and Butch) activities, taxes, and port fees (tipping is extra).

And we have some great sponsors who will be helping us fund the "extras" on the trip . . . more on them later. 

Space is limited so reserve your spot SOON ($100/person to reserve).

Looking forward to saying "Welcome Aboard!"

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Jamboree Here We Come!

Going to Jamboree? So are we! Here's our presentation schedule:

Jean will be presenting:

 FR029 - "Need Direction? Try City Directories!" More accessible than ever, city directories can fill in blanks between census years, opening new chapters in your family history research. Learn how to find, navigate, and cite this valuable record source.

SU018 - "Family History: Research and Results for the Beginner." Just getting started? Confused about the various types of records, etc.? This lecture will help clarify why to do family history and what’s needed to get started.

SU022 - "Historical Societies: Bridges between People and History." Discover how historical societies can benefit your family history research. On line, as well as in person, society resources will be examined.

Gena will be presenting:

FR000E Friday June 6, 9:45 a.m.-10:45a.m.
10 Tips for Finding Newsletter Content
You have just been asked to edit your society newsletter, now what? Writing and editing a society newsletter is a vital job in the overall health of a society. The newsletter's mission can be a complex one including; informing members, potential members and non-members or upcoming events and projects, exposing members to new genealogical methods, research, websites and technology, providing a place where members can pass along information and get assistance and perhaps even a vehicle for some fundraising. With all that a society newsletter can be, it can feel like an overwhelming job that never ends. Whether you are a new newsletter editor or have been doing it awhile and need some new ideas, the ideas in this session will make your newsletter a must read and most importantly make your job much easier.

SA030 Saturday June 7, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Journals, Store Ledgers and Letters to Aunt Mary: Using Manuscript Collections
Manuscript collections are an overlooked resource in genealogy. Housed in archives, museums and libraries, manuscript collections can provide you with genealogical gems often overlooked when researching solely online. In this presentation we will look at what manuscript collections include and how to find them.

SA009 Saturday June 7, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Using America’s Ethnic Newspapers to Find and Document Your Family
Typically, when we consider newspaper research we narrow ourselves to a city newspaper that served our ancestor’s hometown. But the reality is that there could be multiple newspapers that reported on an area. In a large city, finding a mention of a person can be difficult at best. Ethnic communities often had their own newspapers. Because of possible prejudices, you may have a better chance at finding an ancestor in an ethnic newspaper than a general area newspaper. Join me as we discuss what treasures ethnic newspapers hold and how you can find them on GenealogyBank.

SU002 Sunday June 8, 7:00-8:30 a.m. - Scholarship Breakfast
Of Elephants, Gold, and Dashed Dreams: Researching the California Gold Rush
Did your ancestor come to California seeking their riches in gold? Maybe they came to make money off those with golden dreams. Whether your ancestor was a miner, a merchant or somewhere in between their story can be found in the social history and records.

SU021 Sunday June 8, 1:00-2:00 p.m.
GenealogyBank - Inside and Out
Everything you need to know about
See practical examples of the genealogical information contained in newspapers. Learn about this extensive U.S. newspaper archive with more than 6,500 newspapers from all 50 states, spanning the years 1690 to today.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Family History Hints, Part 15

It is easy to get into the habit of searching for ancestors and ignoring the other people in their lives. Elizabeth Shown Mills speaks of these folks as the FAN club (Friends, Acquaintances, Neighbors). Research for Genealogy Roadshow, and clients (or our own ancestors), includes these all important people.

From the collection of Gena Philibert-Ortega

Always check the neighbors

A lot of times, when we get stuck, we go to the neighbors for help (to feed the cat, bring in the mail, borrow a cup of sugar, take us to pick up our car at the service garage, etc.). That happens in genealogy, too. We love the neighbors. Unlike today, our ancestors often spent huge amounts of time with the neighbors. The neighbors were their cousins, siblings, parents, in-laws, or just people from the old country with whom they traveled to America.

When we get stuck in genealogy, we might go back to an earlier census, locate the neighbors, and follow them around the country, in hopes that our ancestors followed them too (and they often did). Or if a stranger is buried in the plot with an ancestor, we check that person out - it just might be Uncle Fred, whose sister was the mother we were searching for. Or possibly the person who signed as a witness of a document - whom would they get to swear to their allegiance to the United States, or that they weren’t trying to cheat the government, or that they were to be trusted to repay a loan? Why, a cousin, in-law, or other person with whom they connected.

So sometimes the length of time we spend searching is not actually spent looking for the known family, but for someone who is connected to the family in one way or another. After all, cousins have the same grandparents; second cousins have the same great-grandparents, etc., and finding one of those relatives can lead us to just the path we’ve needed from the start.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Family History Hints, Part 14

More on the services of FamilySearch: When we started the research for Genealogy Roadshow, none of the staff was aware of the free website run by the Mormon Church. Education was needed and here is how I explained one of the best resources we used (yup, it's true that some of the best things in life ARE free).

FamilySearch, on-line: A free database (or set of databases) that gives us answers to the oddest questions

This website is open to anyone and everyone. People are asked to sign-in (though much can be done without that step). There are a number of different sections to this site and I am going to talk about them and their advantages over the next few reports. The first, and probably most used by those of us doing research, is the Historical Record Collections (HRC).

In my last post I mentioned that the Family History/FamilySearch Centers provide a place for people to view the microfilms they order from the Family History Library in Salt Lake. But some of the microfilms and microfiche have been digitized and put up on line for viewing, for free, from our own computers. Records from all over the world are among those that can be viewed. When I have spoken of the difficulty of reading these (some of which are searchable, some of which require browsing - see earlier post), these are often the records we are looking at. Let's see what I’m talking about.

Let's say I need to work with the records of Massachusetts from the 1800s. Here is how the search goes:

I went to and chose “United States” from the home page. Then I selected the record collections from Massachusetts:

This is just a partial list of their holdings, but since I am looking for a birth record, I select the second option above (the little camera to the left of the listing means that there are images of the actual records there; those without the camera have only transcriptions on-line). As you can see, there are over 4 million records, but since it doesn’t say “Browse” (as two of the choices have up there), it means that those 4 million+ images are indexed and searchable - Yay!

I enter the name of the person I am trying to find: Rebecca Anna Davis; I am led to the page that includes that entry (but it’s up to me to find it):

Can you find her? She’s on line 43. Her name is spelled in the old style: Rebekah. But it lists her parents and birth date and that’s what I need.

This is really an easy one. Handwriting is legible and the information is entered in pre-determined spots (a template). But not all records are like this. One of our researchers, Linda, has great difficulty in reading the old style writing in old documents (in Spanish). Paper can be in poor shape. Trying to translate from a vernacular that has changed greatly over the years (different idioms) is a challenge. I don’t work in Spanish, but I do work with German document and here is a typical record (in Latin) that I work with:

My ancestor is Maria Trapschug/Trapschuh. Yes, I can read this. She is 5th from the bottom.

This is the sort of thing Linda works with. It takes a lot of time. Often we have to look at how a letter is formed and try to find another example of that letter on the page (written by the same person) to figure out if we are looking at a T or an F, etc.

The moral of the story: our eyes get so tired by the end of the day . . . and yet we keep coming back for more. Indeed, we’re nuts. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Family History Hints, Part 13

One of the first research options many people learn about, when starting their family history quest, is the FamilySearch website. But that one doesn't get expensive advertising like, so if people aren't made aware of it, it can go unnoticed. Such was the case on Genealogy Roadshow, so I took on the task of introducing the staff to the free database collection, their microfilm collection, and the services of the Family History Library and satellite research locations.

Family History Center

Is there a Family History (or FamilySearch) Center near you? And what is it anyway?

Way back in the time BC (before computers) - that would be the 1930s for our story - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, decided that it would be a good idea for everyone in the Church (AKA Mormon Church) to know about their ancestors. The reasons for this are based in the religious tenets of the Church and are a topic for another time and place. So was formed the Genealogical Society of Utah.

The perfect storage place for family records was carved out of the granite hills in the Wasatch Mountains and vault rooms were formed to protect the most precious of documents and records of them for all the rest of time. And the microfilming crews went out to record documents in all the repositories of the WORLD that they could. Wow! Can you imagine?

OK, so here it is, the 1930s and beyond, and records that would be destroyed in WWII have been microfilmed and the reels tucked away safe from the War overseas. Yes, many records were destroyed, but many were preserved because of the Mormon Church’s filming efforts. Soon repositories all over the earth were asking the Mormons to come in and film their records so that they would be safe from natural and man-made disasters (just ask the people in New Orleans about the records that were destroyed during hurricane Katrina - bunches. But were they devastated? No. Why? The copies were safe on microfilms in Salt Lake City). Three cheers for record preservation (I’ll let you do that on your own time).

So many genealogists make pilgrimages to Salt Lake City to view these marvelous records for themselves. Everything is carefully catalogued (see earlier post about browsing and searching record collections) and easy to view. For free. (And the Family History Library in SLC has the most amazing chairs to sit in while viewing at a microfilm reader for, yes indeed, as much as 13 hours straight, at times - breaks are recommended, however.) But not everyone has the time or money to visit the library (originally the Genealogy Library, but now the Family History Library - considered a more user-friendly name - it was changed in the 1980s). What to do? Rent the films desired and have them shipped to your local Family History Center (AKA FamilySearch Center - though the name change here is a bit confusing with lots of controversy . . . don’t ask me about this). Rentals can be done via credit card, on-line, and films are shipped to the Director of the Family History Center (FHC) identified at time of ordering (for Corona, that means they come to me and I take them into the Corona FHC). The cost is a little less than $10 for a single reel (usually with thousands of document images) with a rental period of 90 days. Cheap at 10 times the price . . . to order a single one of those documents from the original repository would take about 4 to 8 weeks’ wait and probably $20+ for just one. Besides, the funding helps pay for the chairs in SLC (wish our FHC could requisition just one of those chairs!).

OK, so here is where we are, 2013. Over 200 film crews (that’s at least 2 people per crew) are filming and digitizing (more and more digital cameras are being used these days) all over the world. Each repository has its own specs, though, and those are written up in contracts. Some say that the records are not permitted to be digitized to put up on line. Others say that the only use can be in SLC, not to be lent to outside FHCs (there are thousands of these around the world and likely over a hundred in California, so there is probably one within a short distance of wherever you are). Some have no restrictions. In all cases, when the films are created, the repository gets a copy and a copy is put in the vault. When needed, another copy is made and sent out the Family History Library or to an outlying FHC. Some films are never used; others are used so often they start to get worn terribly. No problem - the original is still in the vault and never viewed; it is used to make a replacement copy.

No time here to go into the details of how many of these films are now available to us on line. That will have to wait until tomorrow.

One piece of trivia, though: When I said that the Family History Library was originally the Genealogy Library, the other reason for the name change is that so much more than genealogy is done there. You see (and I’m not suggesting a change in the name of the TV show), Genealogy refers to the Names, Dates, and Places of a person and his/her life (bor--ing). But Family History is everything else: the occupations, hobbies, incarcerations, education, awards, military experiences, religions, etc. that make up the life of a person and his/her family. So, I guess, we are really working on the Family History Roadshow . . . but that’s a mouthful.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Family History Hints, Part 12

Ente Provinciale Per Il Turismo. From the collection of Gena Philibert-Ortega

Wouldn't it be nice if the map never changed? Well, that is not practical, of course. The adjustments of boundaries have been necessary to accommodate politics, economics, ethnicities, and other elements. When America was young, it was subject to many, many boundary adjustments, causing the present day genealogist to be alert to historical issues as well as familial ones. And we won't even begin to discuss the boundary changes throughout Europe over the centuries! When we researched the cases for Genealogy Roadshow, we found it necessary to do our homework, which I explained to the staff expecting us to find whatever we sought:

County Lines, City Lines

My 3x great-grandfather was born in Montgomery County, New York. So was his first wife. His second wife was born in Herkimer County, New York. But they were all born in the same town: Stark. How does that happen? Simple: boundary lines change, counties get divided or combined, and some counties disappear altogether. But when that happens, the towns don’t move (though they may get re-named, as do counties, from time to time).

What does that have to do with genealogy? Everything! At least when one is researching for the records of an ancestor who may have been born in one county, got married in another, and died in yet another while never leaving the village in which he was born. So when I do research I must remember to look for records in the appropriate county. I need to know when counties were split or otherwise changed so that I can go to the correct county Courthouse or (if available on line) database. So when I look for the birth record (in this case, a baptismal record) of Edward Freeman, my g-g-g-grandfather, I must go to the library, historical society, and courthouse in Montgomery County. When I search for his marriage record for his first marriage, I also look to Montgomery County. But when I look for the marriage information for the second marriage, I find it in the historical society in Herkimer County.

Genealogists must be alert to the changes that take place in the geographic locations of their ancestors. There are many resources to keep them abreast of this information, but we can’t forget to look for it. And some records may have been transferred to the other courthouse so we should double check there for a probate record (it may not have been filed where the person died). That is why, when we attempt to pull a record from a distance (hiring an on-site genealogist to handle that), we might have to pay more if more than one location needs to be searched.

            Now you know what we do with all our time!