Monday, July 6, 2015

So Many Free Databases, So Little Free Time

The holiday season is bringing out the best in the paid subscription genealogy database providers! In celebration of Independence Day is providing free access to its Revolutionary War collection until July 15, 2015!

This includes Revolutionary War Pensions and Revolutionary War Muster Rolls among others.

You can access all the databases from the main page of their Revolutionary War Collections.

Have fun!

AncestryDNA Sale Ends Tonight

AncestryDNA is having a 20% of sale that ends tonight at 11:59pm Eastern (New York) time.  The last sale over Father's Day weekend was only 10% so this is a good discount. The regular price is $99 and with this sale it's $79.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

What Keeps Us from Writing?

This morning I was thinking about blogging and what keeps us from writing. I was thinking about both blogging as a genealogist hobbyist and as a genealogy professional.

If you say to yourself that you want to blog, but you don't, what are the underlying reasons for why you're not blogging?

I want to be blogging more, especially on this blog but I haven't made it happen quite yet. So I am closely looking at my own motivations too.

Time Commitment

Many people say they want to blog but they don't have the time. I'm with the folks that say there is no such thing as too busy. It's like in personal relationships when you ask someone for help but they say they are too busy. What they are really saying is "You're not important enough for me to spend my time helping you." I so strongly believe that. (And we should think about our relationships the next time we are the ones who say that to someone.) We always make time for what we want to do most or for the people who mean the most to us.

When you say you are too busy to blog, you are really saying "I'm not disciplined enough to make a commitment" or "Blogging is not important enough to me to make the time in schedule."

This leads us to our next theme...


When you don't make a commitment to blogging you are saying "I don't really value blogging." So we need to understand what exactly we want to get from it and why we think we won't get that result.  Perhaps as hobbyists we are hoping to connect with distant cousins or as professionals we are trying to build our businesses or show our expertise. Perhaps we simply want to find a vibrant community of folks to interact with.

If we believe that we won't really benefit from our efforts then we definitely will not continue the effort to do the work.

How can we demonstrate to ourselves that blogging is worthwhile and valuable?


Maybe we our afraid of what will happen if we put ourselves out there. Maybe it is self-doubt that what we have to say is not interesting enough. Or fear that we will share too much.


I think this really ties back to the time commitment issue but what if we just get so distracted that we have a hard time staying focused? I think that discipline is one of my issues. I WANT to blog - so how come I'm not doing it every day?  If it's because I'm busy then how come I'm not reserving a specific hour every day to blog? Does life truly get in the way or do I let it get in the way?

Mood/Writer's Block

Sometimes I don't "feel" like writing and sometimes I feel like I can't NOT write! If I had better discipline I would force myself to write all the time. Sometimes it just doesn't happen.  Sometimes I just stare at a blank screen and no ideas come to me. If I could get over this aspect of myself I could probably write more frequently and more consistently.

What motivates you to blog? What are the true underlying reasons as to why you're not blogging? Have I left out anything in this discussion?  Let me know!

photo by Ramunas Geciauskas

Monday, June 29, 2015

FREE Access to Great Migration Databases for 4th of July Week!

Hopefully everyone will be getting at least one day off during the 4th of July holiday weekend. If you get the full week, all the better for doing more genealogy! You can celebrate by researching your very early ancestors thanks to the New England Historic Genealogical Society which will be offering one week of free access to the Great Migration databases. Full information and details are below.

NEHGS Salutes the Nation’s Anniversary with FREE Access to the Great Migration Databases on
Family Historians May Commemorate Independence Day by Searching FREE on for America’s Earliest Settlers, July 1 through July 8
June 29, 2015—Boston, Massachusetts—In a salute to the anniversary of our nation’s independence, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is granting FREE access to all online searchable databases related to the Great Migration. A unique foundation of governance and religion was created by the 20,000 men, women, and    children who crossed the Atlantic between 1620 and 1640, seeking opportunity and relief in New England, in the period known as the Great Migration. These are the Mayflower names, the Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the families that delight and provide rich insights for genealogists and family historians.  Since 1988 NEHGS has  undertaken the Great Migration Study Project, directed by Robert Charles Anderson and scheduled for completion in 2016. The results are open to the public to research FREE during the first week of July 2015 on its data-rich website
A total of nine searchable databases comprise the Great Migration project on, consisting of thousands of records.  Some content highlights include:
1: The Great Migration Begins
The first phase of the Great Migration Study Project attempts to identify and describe all those Europeans who settled in New England prior to the end of 1633. The date was chosen because of the steep increase in migration beginning in 1634 and continuing for the rest of that decade (see Robert Charles Anderson, "A Note on the Pace of the Great Migration," The New England Quarterly 59 [1986]:406-07). As a rough estimate, about 15 percent of the immigrants to New England arrived in the fourteen years from 1620 to 1633, with the remaining 85 percent coming over in half as many years, from 1634 to 1640.
2: The Great Migration Newsletter
This database comprises Volumes 1 through 20 of the Great Migration Newsletter, published between 1990 and 2011. Each 32-page issue contains one or two feature articles, a column with editor's comments, and a review of recent literature on the Great Migration. Each issue also contains a section with detailed coverage of one of the towns settled during the Great Migration, or of a specific critical record, or group of records.
3: The Great Migration:  Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volumes I—VII, A-Y
(7 separate databases)
From 1620 to 1633, only a few hundred people stepped on the shores of New England in any given year. But all of a sudden in 1634 the trend surged upward and as many as 2,500 people immigrated in 1634 and again in 1635. In May 1634, the population of Massachusetts doubled in just one month, and when comparing immigration in 1634 and 1635 to immigration in 1633 and earlier, there was a tenfold jump in annual immigration.
These volumes covering surnames beginning with A through Y, complete a series documenting the watershed years of 1634 and 1635. They trace families and individuals immigrating to New England during those two years – a time of rapid migration and settlement.
Each alphabetical entry for a family or individual includes:
• Place of origin, if known
• Date and ship on which they arrived in New England, if known
• Earliest known record of the individual or family
• First residence and subsequent residences, when known
• Return trips to their country of origin, whether temporary or permanent
• Bibliographical information such as birth, death, marriage(s), children, and other important family relationships, church memberships, and civil and military offices held
The full introduction to these seven volumes is available for download as a pdf file. The introduction includes a description of the methodology used to create the sketches as well as thorough descriptions of the sources used.
The database provides an index to the sketches of 219 Great Migration individuals, and the 7,192 name, 2,040 place, and 249 ship name references contained within those sketches. The images of the original book pages are available from the search results pages.
These Great Migration databases from NEHGS will be open with FREE access to the public beginning Wednesday, July 1, through Wednesday, July 8. Registration at is required as a FREE Guest Member to gain access to these valuable resources. Guest User accounts allow web visitors to use a limited suite of databases and access web content such as making purchases from the online store. Unlimited access to all 450+ million records and other benefits is through membership at NEHGS.
Family historians may start their search for ancestors who came to the country as part of the Great Migration at this site:  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Practical Joke Leads to Obscure but Profound Historical Memory

Each week I listen to a podcast (on-demand radio) show called Reply All. It's a show about nothing (like Seinfield!) that leads to some very interesting stories about the internet that would never occur to a normal person. Genealogists, because of their insatiable curiosity, have a terrible habit of chasing down rabbit holes. Reply All chases a lot of rabbit holes too.

This week's episode, called "Shipped to Timbuktu," is just one of those rabbit holes - yet one with profound meaning.

The show starts off with a practical joke. The target was the Girl Guides (in Canada) known in the United States as the Girl Scouts. The rabbit hole takes us to London to the Girl Guides archives where an obscure reference is found to China. Next we're listening to a Belgian who was in China during World War II. Next we're talking to  82-year-old Mary Previty from New Jersey who will knock your socks off. I can't be more specific because it will ruin the story. I've already told you too much. You'll have to hear the rest of the story from Mary.

This story was profound to me, and I'm hoping it will be to most genealogists, because of three points:
  1. Obscure history from the past (in this case World War II) may be forgotten but is never unimportant.
  2. Oral history is a critical source of memory. We should focus on recording our family, friends, neighbors and community members as part of our everyday activities as genealogists.
  3. The triumph of the human spirit is powerful.
If you get the chance listen to this episode, then let me know what you think. When the part about the Girl Guides is over, stop there. There is a little segment after that. It's a frivolous thing about Star Trek that contains some good-natured profanities that would not be appropriate in the earshot of children.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ancestry Launches DNA Testing in Canada

Press release just out from in Canada announcing new DNA testing services. I'm excited about this because there has been a great deal of immigrant exchange between the United States and Canada. We may find distant cousins in the DNA pool to the north. That means more cousins for you and me! Full press release is below.

DNA test pinpoints genetic ethnicity and helps people discover family origins going back thousands of years
  • AncestryDNA studies a person's entire genome at more than 700,000 different locations
  • Results detail a person's ethnic origins across 26 regions worldwide
  • Service can help users discover and connect with new relatives, linking DNA results to a network of more than 16 billion historical records

TORONTO, June 9, 2015 /CNW/ - Ancestry, the world's largest family history resource, today launched AncestryDNA in Canada. AncestryDNA allows individuals to learn about their genetic heritage and discover new family connections in Canada and around the world.  

When coupled with Ancestry's database of more than 16 billion historical records, AncestryDNA will enable family history enthusiasts and novices alike to discover even more about their own past, including the ability to find entire new cousin matches around the world.

"Historical records on provide an insight into one's recent past, but usually go around 200-300 years, so it's incredibly exciting to be able to offer DNA testing that takes your family history experience back many hundreds and even thousands of years," said Christopher Labrecque, Country Manager for Ancestry Canada. "AncestryDNA enables users to learn more than ever about where they came from and discover new family lines and relatives. It really is the ultimate family history experience."

AncestryDNA details the breakdown of one's ethnic origins, predicting the likely locations of a person's ancestors across 26 worldwide populations, providing a glimpse into one's ancestral past that goes back to a time before historical records began to be kept.

The service also introduces users to new family members through DNA member matches which identifies unknown relatives pulled from more than 850,000 people who have previously taken the test. Many users can expect to be connected with 3rd and 4th cousins, allowing them to further grow their family trees and discover family members they may not have known existed.

In a recent survey, more than three-quarters of Canadians stated they would consider having their DNA tested to discover more about where their ancestors came from. Many said they know very little about their own family history, with 42 per cent indicating that they do not know where their grandparents were born, and 30 per cent stating they do not know where their ancestors lived before coming to Canada.

How AncestryDNA Works

The test uses microarray-based autosomal DNA testing to look at more than 700,000 locations across an individual's entire genome through a simple saliva sample.  The AncestryDNA approach provides a much more detailed look at one's family history than other existing Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA tests that only look at specific branches of a person's family tree.
AncestryDNA kits are now available for purchase for $149 plus shipping at

ABOUT ANCESTRY.CA was launched in January 2006 and is part of Ancestry, the world's largest online family history resource with more than 2 million subscribers across all its websites. More than 16 billion records have been added to the sites and users have created more than 70 million family trees containing more than 6 billion profiles. In addition to its flagship site, the company operates several global Ancestry international websites along with a suite of online family history brands, including,,, and offers the AncestryDNA product, sold by its subsidiary, Ancestry International DNA, LLC, all of which are designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

New Database Featuring Connecticut Naturalization Indexes

On 27 May 2015 added the Connecticut, District Court Naturalization Indexes, 1851-1992 database. Anytime there are new Connecticut records online is a cause for celebration. Connecticut seems to have fewer online records than any other New England state.

At this time, the database is browse-only but it contains 260,508 images that are worth taking a look at if you have ancestors who naturalized while living in Connecticut during that time period.

The Connecticut, District Court Naturalization Indexes, 1851-1992 on

According to the website the "collection consists of card indexes of naturalization petitions in the United States District Courts in Connecticut. Corresponds to NARA microfilm publication M2081: Indexes to Naturalization Petitions for United States District Courts, Connecticut, 1851-1992."

There are 47 rolls in this collection which are divided somewhat randomly by district and sorted alphabetically within that. Some of the links list the same roll number multiple times (Rolls 7, 21, 39, 47), the distinction being the alphabetical separation. For those rolls with duplicate numbers, be aware that in most cases each link is a different record set not a continuation of the same database.

You'll need the following chart to navigate the links because the information is not available without clicking into each individual link: (Note: I have included the alphabetical breakdown for the roll numbers that appear more than once as a means of differentiating between them. Also, note that there is no roll 38.)

Roll District Records
Roll 1-6 New Haven US Circuit Court c. 1851-1911; US District Court c.1851-1926
Roll 7,
Aach, Irma-Barbieri, Giovanna Amato
New Haven US District Court 1926-1992
Roll 7,
Tercyak, Frances Rek-Zych, John
New Haven US Circuit Court c. 1851-1911; US District Court c. 1851-1926
Roll 8 - 18 New Haven US District Court 1926-1992
Roll 19 - 20 Hartford US Circuit Court c. 1906-1911; US District Court c. 1906-1926
Roll 21,
Aagesen, Elizabeth Swan-Beaulieu, Dionis
Hartford US District Court 1926-1992
Roll 21,
Weber, Olga-Zynda, Frank
Hartford US Circuit Court c. 1906-1911; US District Court c. 1906-1926
Roll 22 - 37 Hartford US District Court 1926-1992
Roll 39
Aarons, Florence May-Arcano, Frank
Bridgeport US District Court 1963-1992
Roll 39
Abdallah, Felia-Yurashus, Agnes
Hartford US District Court, Repatriations, Act of 6/25/1936 from 6/25/1936 to 1/1/1941
Roll 39
Abenes, Arturo Marigza-Zukowski, John
Hartford US District Court, Denied Petitions, 1926-1984
Roll 39
Acheson, Wanda Gail-Yzouvaras, Angeliki
Hartford US District Court Transferred Petitions, 1955-1977
Roll 39
Kaufherr, Minna-Keka, Michael
Hartford US District Court 1963-1992
Roll 39
Yung, Wai Ning-Zyznomirskyj, Wasyl
Hartford US District Court 1963-1992
Roll 40 - 46 Bridgeport US District Court 1963-1992
Roll 47 -
Abbondelo, Mary-Zyko, Kamber Ismail
Waterbury US District Court c. 1972-1988
Roll 47 -
Abella, Oscar-Zywno, Genowefa
Bridgeport US District Court Declarations of Intention
Roll 47 -
Acevedo, Beatriz-Zinovis, Helen Lazaros
Bridgeport US District Court Denied Petitions
Roll 47 -
Altieri, Clemente-Utrilla, Adrian Tous
Waterbury US District Court Denied Petition
Roll 47 -
Aquino, Marianna-Uva, Maria
Bridgeport US District Court Index to Women's Repatriations
Roll 47 -
Bandukra, Usman Abdulgain-Zoumboulis, Vasilios
Bridgeport US District Court Transferred Petitions
Roll 47 -
Mabasa, Ramon Alber-Tee King, Ofelia Benito
Waterbury US District Court Declarations of Intention

Pasquale Cobianchi, New Haven, US Circuit Court c. 1851-1911
US District Court c. 1851-1926,

The index cards list the name of the court as well as the volume and page number of the petitioner. Some of the cards include current address, age or date of birth, applicants signature and town of origin, country of origin. Local abbreviations are used such as N.H. for New Haven so be sure to remember which regional roll you are currently in so that you can interpret the abbreviations correctly.

Michael Dutkanicz, New Haven, US Circuit Court c. 1851-1911

US District Court c. 1851-1926, Once you find an ancestor be sure to check the following index card as it may include information about a name change.

Bernard Wachsmann Austrycker, New Haven, US District Court 1926-1992
Petition followed by name change,

The Hartford County images 1906-1926, Hartford Denied Petitions, the Hartford Repatriation, and the Bridgeport Declarations of Intention indexes contain the bare minimum, listing only the petitioner's first and last name and the volume and page number. The Hartford and Bridgeport transferred petitions include the date of transfer and the city and state where the petition was transferred to. The Bridgeport Women's Repatriation Index simply list the woman's first and last name and the repatriation number.

Samuel Max Gold, US Circuit Court c. 1906-1911
US District Court c. 1906-1926,

 It's a little challenging to work through these indexes but if you have ancestors who immigrated to Connecticut during this time period, it's worth a look.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

NEHGS Announces FREE Access to Databases to Commemorate Memorial Day

The New England Historic Genealogical Society has announced free access to military databases in this announcement:

NEHGS Commemorates Memorial Day with FREE Access to Important Military Databases on

Family Historians May “Honor the Fallen” by Searching FREE on for Patriots on the Family Tree Who Served in Colonial Times

May 20, 2015—Boston, Massachusetts—In the spirit of Memorial Day and to make ancestral research even more productive this holiday weekend, and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) have made several online military databases accessible FREE to all who wish to search for patriots in early American colonial wars.

Colonial Soldiers and Officers in New England, 1620-1775 is accessible FREE this week through next Wednesday, May 27. Prior to the American Revolution, many men served in the militia and fought against Native Americans, the French, and other opponents. Many of these battles were extensions of European wars. This database contains more than 35,000 records of service for individuals in Massachusetts and other New England states who served from the seventeenth century to the Battle of Lexington and Concord. These records, originally published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society with support from the Society of Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, were compiled from many different sources to create as comprehensive a list as possible.

Massachusetts Revolutionary War Pensioners’ Receipts 1799-1807 and Massachusetts Revolutionary War Pensioners’ Receipts 1829-1837 are also accessible through Wednesday, May 27. Many of the soldiers who served during the Revolutionary War were given pensions from the federal government for their service. These manuscript collections at NEHGS contain a number of original receipts with the soldiers’ signatures, acknowledging the receipt of their pension funds. These two searchable databases contain images of these receipts, including the original signatures or marks of the pensioners.

Registration at is required as a FREE Guest Member to gain access to these valuable resources. Guest User accounts allow web visitors to use a limited suite of databases and access web content such as making purchases from the online store. Unlimited access to all 450+ million records and other benefits is through membership at NEHGS.

Family historians may start their search for their ancestors who bravely served in our country’s colonial times at this site:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Serendipity and Why I love Footnotes

I am currently reading a nonfiction book called Soldier Engraver Forger: Richard Brunton's Life on the Fringe in America's New Republic by Deborah M. Child. The timing is coincidentally perfect. I just finished an historical fiction book called The Schoolmaster's Daughter by John Smolens. Both books focus on the American Revolution and start with the siege of Boston. They also both feature a British soldier who has deserted the British Army.

I love to read fiction because it's fun and enjoyable but it's even better to follow it up with a nonfiction book that gives me a sense of what it was really like during the same time period.

As a side note, I should mention, though perhaps obvious, that it's always beneficial to read multiple books on the same topic. You get different perspectives from different authors and they each have their own focus. This provides for a much broader and deeper understanding of an historical event. (On that note, if anyone can recommend any books, fiction or nonfiction, that take place during the siege of Boston I would greatly appreciate it. I would love to read more on the subject.)

Soldier Engraver Forger takes a look at the life of Richard Brunton, a British Solider who did not leave an abundant trail of records for future researchers to find. Author Deborah Child recreates his story through examples of materials culture (such as engravings, bookplates, portraits, etc) and by placing Brunton in historical context by taking a deep look at the social history of the times.

There is much to love about this book (which I will report in greater detail in a review when I'm done) but the thing that is endlessly pleasing me at the moment is the footnotes. As genealogists, we are all a bit enamored with footnotes. We may hate to write them but we sure to do love to find them.

Let me give you two examples from the book:

"Again, in 1771, Milne advertised Gordon as a runaway indentured servant, this time traveling with a wife, Mary, whom he described as "much addicted to drink and a great liar." (pages 31-32, footnote 69)  The quote itself is just wonderful and colorful and transports us back into the lives of  Revolutionary Era Americans. The footnote reveals that this comes from an article in the Pennsylvania Gazette. A good reminder that we should always be doing newspaper research even in the colonial time period.

The second quote immediately follows that last sentence - "In July 1773, Gordon, his wife, and their son James arrived in Boston from Philadelphia. (page 32, footnote 70) That may not look like much of an interesting sentence but I couldn't help wondering "how does the author know Gordon arrived then in Boston?" Thanks to the footnote I was able to find out.

It turns out that this very slight bit of information comes from a book (via one of the co-authors) called Robert Love's Warnings: Searching for Strangers in Colonial Boston by Cornelia H. Dayton and Sharon V. Salinger (2014, UPenn Press). I have long had an interest in the Warning Out Records of early New England. I have also never heard of this book before. I'm a little disappointed that this book was published and didn't hit my radar but I'm absolutely delighted to have found out about it in the footnotes of Soldier Engraver Forger.

That is the wonderful, magical aspect of footnotes. They will lead you to further essential resources that will help with your research. Do you ever ask yourself, when reading a book, "how does the author know that?" I do it all the time and love it when a footnote will answer the question.

The book also has a number of references to articles by Don Hagist in the online publication the Journal of the American Revolution as well as articles from JL Bell's blog Boston 1775. That's a good reminder that there are some tremendous historical resources available no further than our keyboard and the internet.

If you'd like to read some more of my thoughts footnotes, particularly as they relate to genealogical research, you can see a previous blog post The #1 Things that Impacted My Research in 2010.

Friday, May 15, 2015

New Frontiers: Online Access is not Enough

Just like nearly all Americans, I have immigrant ancestors. Some arrived as early as the 1630s and some as late as 1893. I can find ancestors arriving from Europe in every century from the 1600s to the 1800s.

James Quayle Dealey

Because most of my ancestors have been in the United States for quite awhile I've had the luxury of focusing on my American ancestry. I could go so far as to say that it has allowed me to ignore my German, English, Scottish, Dutch and Irish ancestors.

Well, no more. I am headed for a new frontier!

I have just gotten a subscription to, the site which predominantly focuses on British research (or at least that's my impression). This is definitely new territory for me.

I have decided to focus on my Dealey ancestors who left England for Galveston, Texas in 1870. I'm focusing on them because they are more recent immigrants and because our family knows really as much as we need to know about them in the United States considering they only go back four generations.

About ten years ago I did dabble in British research. I learned just enough to be dangerous without really understanding what I was doing and without going too in-depth.

When logging in to for the first time I wasn't really sure where to start. But then I noticed that, similar to, they provide an option of having an online tree. While I have mixed feelings about online trees, they are a perfect place to start when you don't know where you are going. And of course, that's the danger of it.

I started my online tree with my Dealey Family. I admit I am still figuring out how to work the online tree since it's a bit different that the tree. But it is very helpful in providing me with links to document hints.

The problem I'm finding, however, is that (just like can point me to the records, but that doesn't mean I'm necessarily sure what to do with them.

Let me clarify right here that this is not the problem of It's not their job to make me an expert in British records. I need to take the time to figure that out myself.

But what I can see as a fundamental problem in online research is that having access to online records is not enough. You must know what to do with the records once you have found them. I think the disconnect for many new researchers is not knowing where to go to find the background information to understand the records, time period and location they are researching.

For instance, My great grandfather, James Quayle Dealey, is found in the England & Wales Births 1837-2006 record set on This is a register (index), not the original birth records. To their credit, FindMyPast provides a section called About England &; Wales births 1837-2006. This is helpful in that it talks about the index but it doesn't really provide information about where to go next, or where to find the records I'm looking for.

James Quayle Dealey's 1861 birth as found in
the England & Wales Births 1837-2006 record set on

Ironically, this whole process is quite fun for me because it's allowing me to experience what a brand new genealogist in 2015 experiences when they start their journey.

While I know from past experience that there are resources for learning about British research, I wonder what the new researcher will think when the ask themselves "Now where do I find that birth record?"

I'm going to assume the records I need are not on FindMyPast because they don't appear when I search for the surname Dealey. (Admittedly, I haven't gotten as far as figuring out whether they have un-indexed collections similar to but I'm assuming they don't.)

Part of this new journey and experiment is going to be re-creating the experience of new genealogists so I can understand what challenges and obstacles they face. So instead of going straight to resources that I know exist or to experts that I know can help me, I going to put myself in the position of someone who has no connection with the genealogical community or background in research.

The next logical step for me as I try to determine where to find the original birth records is visiting the "Help" section of the website.

That will be the discussion of our next post...