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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Family Tree Magazine - An Educational Resource

Do you subscribe to any genealogy periodicals?   Family Tree Magazine may  help you learn how to perform a successful research and understand what you have discovered from your research.  It is one of my favorites, and I think you might like it too.

In the current May/June 2014 issue, the widely varied topics include :

  • How to care for heirloom baptismal gowns and wedding gowns
  • How to organize your home workspace for effective genealogy research
  • Search strategies to use when looking for those elusive ancestors
  • Accessing birth records and how to use their information to further your research
  • How to find your German ancestor's hometown
  • Finding information on ancestors of meager means
  • European genealogy websites
  • Searching the 1901 and 1911 Irish Censuses........and so much more.

The U.S. news stand price is $6.99 per issue.  However, if you subscribe, the price is much less.

Compared to every other genealogy magazine that I have viewed, Family Tree Magazine is my personal favorite. I learn something new in every issue.  This magazine is for the novice and the highly experienced researcher.  Visit the website, and see for yourself.  There is so much more to this magazine than meets the eye.  Something you might want to try.

April 2014 issue

Friday, April 18, 2014

Free Access to Civil War Databases on Fold3

It is Easter weekend.  Hopefully most of you will be spending some time with friends and family for the holiday....sharing meals, hunting for eggs, attending church services, and picking through your basket left by the big bunny.

But if things get a little dull, pull out your laptop, tablet or smart phone and take a look at what is free to view on Fold3 at  Until April 30th, free access to the Civil War databases will be available to the public.  This is usually available only to paid subscribers.

This site provides images of Civil War Widow's Pension index cards. Many Civil War photos are available to browse.  Registers of Enlistments and Civil War maps are also available. Confederate casualty reports and amnesty papers are indexed.

Take a look at what is FREE until the end of the month.  Have fun, and Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

What is Ephemera and How Can It Help Your Research

How many businesses did your ancestors own or work for? Did they belong to clubs?  Were there any newspapers articles about your family?  Did they save greeting cards or invitations?  Do you have a collection of family letters and postcards?  If so, then you have ephemera to use for your family history research.

Business cards, letters, menus, newspaper clippings, receipts, brochures, etc. each have a story to tell.  If they were in the belongings of your family members, there was a reason for them to have been kept in a scrapbook, in boxes, and even used as bookmarks.  Here is where your detective skills can be used to the fullest extent.  Vital records and certificates only tell a part of the story of a person's life.  Ephemera fills in all of the details that help to paint a picture about the person's life.

Postcards can tell us where they traveled, or where others in their lives had traveled.  They were also sent for holidays and birthdays.  Some had photos of a town, a school, an organization, and many other things that could provide clues about a family.  Postcards were sent during World War I with photos of the destruction to towns and buildings and neighborhoods. Some postcards were sent instead of letters for official communication.

A Postcard from the Veterans Administration stating that LeRoy Hessler Reif was being placed on a waiting list  for hospital treatment in November of 1949

Letters can add additional facts for family research.  Look for these to contain information about business, family, licenses, insurance and more.
Life Insurance policy issued by the U S. Government
Newspaper articles contain information that provide very helpful clues to your family research.  Articles about clubs, occupations and businesses, wedding announcements, deaths, births and crimes will add a little more color to your research.  It is fun to see your family members in print, sometimes, depending on the reason for their mention in the news.

This article appeared in many newspapers across the United States in March of 1924.
Where can you find ephemera?  Check your homes in every nook.  Bookmarks, shoeboxes, scrapbooks and the like may contain ephemera that has not seen the light of day for some time.  If you have no luck there, then check auction sites.  Goodwill at  and sites like Ebay have become great marketplaces for ephemera.  Yard sales, private collections, antique shops.  Manuscript collections are unpublished papers of individuals, clubs businesses, etc.  They may contains correspondence, autograph books, author notes and so much more.  A good place to look for them would be the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections  World Cat  is a union catalog of libraries.  Search the collections of many libraries for topics.  Vintage book sales, and paper sales are great.  Local historical societies have collections of newspapers and ephemera.  Antique, Thrift and Used Book Stores are other places to look for ephemera.  Online resources include sites that have collections of digitized newspapers, postcards, etc.  Do a general search for these resources in your web browser, then pair down the hits by using more specific search terms.  Try searching for digitized newspapers, yearbooks, menus, etc.
Don't get discouraged.  Make it a fun, detective game.  And invite your family to join in.  Have a contest and give a prize to the persons that finds the most interesting ephemera after a week of search.  Good luck.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

African American Research Resources for the Nelson/Boswell Family and Relatives

In the NGS Magazine, July-September 2012 publication, Pamela Lyons Brinegar, CG, wrote an article entitled, "Researching Nineteenth-Century African American Women."  The following were online resources that Pamela had suggested to enrich your African American historical projects :

Records of the field offices for the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Land
Digital Library on American Slavery
African American Women
Notable Kentucky African Americans
African American Records and Research –

In the coming weeks, I will explore each of these, and reveal if I am successful in revealing additional information regarding my Thomas Nelson/Eliza Boswell family project.  In the meantime, if you are also researching families who might have records in these areas, please try them yourself.