31 December 2013

Rootstech 2014 ... a place to be 6-8 February 2014! [date corrected]



It won’t be long now before RootsTech 2014 is underway, 6-8 February 2014. The National Genealogical Society (NGS) is again a proud sponsor of this event.

The session list is now available.  You can check out some videos from the 2013 conference.  Can’t attend, here is a list of official bloggers who will be covering the conference.

Some information regarding who attended RootsTech 2013 ...
  • Over 6,700 registered attendees from 49 U.S. states, six Canadian provinces, and 23 additional countries.
  • 13,600+ views of live-streaming sessions on RootsTech.org.
  • 100+ bloggers from Australia, Canada, Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • Hosted by FamilySearch, official sponsors included: Ancestry.com, findmypast, MyHeritage, Archives, Backblaze, Dell, Mocavo, BYU, FGS, NGS, NEHGS, and APG.
  • Over 120 exhibitors and vendors with booths and displays in the Expo Hall.
  • 1,500+ youth, ages 12–18, attended RootsTech 2013 and participated in classes and activities.
I’m not yet seeing information on whether there will again be live-streaming of some sessions (e.g. a parallel virtual experience) and if there will be, such information will probably become available 2-3 weeks before the start of the physical conference.  If there is live-streaming, I suggest you read, RootsTech Conference: 10 Tips to Make the Most of Your Virtual Experience (2013, the Armchair Genealogist).

Planning to attend and not yet registered?  The early bird discount remains available until 6 January 2014.

If you are registered, have you downloaded the mobile app?  You can download the RootsTech mobile app from the App Store or from Google Play . If you don't have an iPhone, iPad, or Android device, there is a web app.

Watch for more details on the Upfront with NGS blog, via the blogs of the aforementioned official bloggers and on the RootsTech website.

Did you attend RootsTech 2013?  What advice would you give to those planning to attend in 2014?  What did you find most helpful?




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30 December 2013

Slaves were used as collateral with banks and were sometimes insured; invaluable records when extant



Recently on the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) members list there was a discussion about how slaves had been used as collateral with banks prior to the civil war.

This discussion also included reference to the insuring of slaves by their owners for damage to them or their death.

Though it is painful to be reminded that those who were enslaved were considered property, when you are researching ancestors who were enslaved or the families who owned these slaves, every bit of documentation can be invaluable to learning more about our ancestors.

I was familiar with slaves being insured and that some of the records are available to researchers which document this practice.  I was not familiar with slaves being used as collateral until I read this article Chase apologizes over use of slaves as collateral  (published in 2005). You can search on slaves + collateral + banks and you will find similar published statements from Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) and other banks as well as other financial institutions (e.g. Lehman Brothers).  Though there are some registries of information about insured slaves (see below), I have not identified any databases for slaves used as collateral.

Learn more about how to use the Slave Era Policies (AAIS via Viewpoint Magazine, 2012) to benefit your research.

Some resources for pursuing these records are:
+ Slavery Era Insurance Registry [California] – represents records from many insurance companies and slave owners from the bulk (if not all) of slaveholding states. Gives information on location, owner, policy type and company providing insurance.
+ Slavery Era Insurance Policies Registry [Illinois] – similar scope as the CA registry. I saw that some entries actually give a date of death for an enslaved individual as well as information on occupation, slave holder and location.
+ Report on Slavery Era Insurance [Iowa] – no data registry appears to have been created
+ Slavery Era Insurance Policy Report [Maryland] – no data registry appears to have been created
+ Slave Life Insurance in Virginia and North Carolina (via JSTOR) -- an article that you can access for free if you register for My JSTOR
+ [Virginia] Unknown No Longer (search results slave life insurance policies)
+ [North Carolina] Third Annual Report of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (1849) (search on slave & a few claims are listed)
+ Digital Library on American Slavery (subject = slave insurance)


Have you used these registries?

What did you learn?

Are you aware of other such resources?  If so, please share!






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27 December 2013

Ancestors Ahoy – Is There A Genealogy Cruise In Your Future? by guest blogger Thomas MacEntee


If you haven’t considered taking a cruise and adding genealogy to the mix, you don’t know what you’re missing! Several genealogy vendors offer yearly cruises to destinations both domestic and international; normally these cruises are open to the public. Usually there are 300+ genealogists in the group on board a larger ship with up to 3,000 people. The group attends genealogy classes while the ship is at sea and it is just like being at a genealogy conference. In addition, there are organized social activities, the chance to share meals with other family historians and more. In addition, attendees get to see all the regular on-shore sites as the rest of the cruise goers!

Genealogy Cruising – The Basics

So, what makes a cruise a “genealogy cruise?” A vendor such as a genealogy software company or a publisher or even just a group of genealogists, contracts with a cruise line to fill a specific number of cabins on a cruise. Usually, there is a discount provided for the cruise although the organizers will factor in their own costs of paying speakers, providing handouts and lecture materials, and organizing social events.

There is always an educational component involved in a genealogy cruise: attendees or “cruisers” go to lectures usually while the ship is at sea. Lectures are held in a conference center or for larger groups in the cruise ship’s theater or even nightclubs. The lectures are the same content and format as you would find at a national genealogy conference, and in fact, many of the lecturers are well-known genealogy presenters.
Realize that educational topics are not always focused on a specific software program, even if the cruise sponsor or organizer is a software company such as RootsMagic or Legacy. In addition, topics may also be tied to the ports of call that the ship visits during the cruise.

For many, the ability to network with a large group of genealogists during meals and throughout the duration of the cruise is the most valuable part of the genealogy cruise experience. It is not unusual to make new genealogy friends, swap research tips and resources, or even locate a cousin during a cruise!

Bringing a Spouse or a Friend

Cruise lines don’t always make it easy to travel solo; often you will need to pay a “single supplement” to the cruise organizer or the cruise line. One way to avoid this upcharge is to travel with a spouse or invite a friend along.

Your travel companion does not need to be a genealogy fanatic like you – many of the cruise organizers offer a “non-genealogy” rate that is the basic cruise rate. This means your spouse or friend won’t be able to attend the classes or special events related to the genealogy group. However, you will be able to eat meals together and take advantage of all the other offering such as excursions and shows.

Non-Genealogy Activities

Since most of the classes and special events organized for the genealogy group take place while the ship is at sea, you’ll be able to take advantage of all of the activities that the cruise has to offer. This includes shows, sports and water activities, social events as well as the offshore excursions once you reach a port of call.

Upcoming Genealogy Cruises

Several vendors already have cruises planned for 2014, 2015 and beyond. Below is the latest information on different cruises that have a focus on genealogy and family history:

·       Unlock the Past Cruises 2014
Southern Australia 4-13 February 2014 – Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas
British Isles 19-29 July 2014 – Marco Polo
http://www.unlockthepastcruises.com/

Unlock the Past is an Australia-based genealogy company that has organized several successful genealogy-focused cruises. Not all cruises originate out of Australia, but many do. Upcoming destinations for 2014 and 2015 include Australia, the British Isles and the Baltic countries.
·       Legacy Genealogy Cruise 2014
Asia 1 Cruise 26 October – 9 November 2014
Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong – Celebrity Millennium
Asia 2 Cruise 9-23 November 2014
China, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam – Celebrity Millennium
http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/CruiseInfo_2014.asp

Legacy Family Tree is a popular genealogy database software. The company behind the product, Millennia Corporation, organizes an annual cruise open to the general public, not just Legacy users. Some classes during the cruise focus on using the Legacy software, but the vast majority of lectures cover general genealogy topics.
·       Genealogy Cruise by Cruise Everything
7-14 December 2014 – Eastern Caribbean, Celebrity Silhouette
http://www.cecruisegroups.com/genealogy-cruise-2014.html
Hosted and organized by genealogists Gary and Diana Smith, this new genealogy cruise by Cruise Everything also features Dick Eastman and Jana Sloan Broglin, CG.

© 2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Bio: Thomas MacEntee is a genealogy professional specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and as a means of interacting with others in the family history community. For more information visit http://hidefgen.com.


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23 December 2013

Through Her Eyes -- Winds and Whispers of the North, by guest blogger Jeannine Ouellette


For the past 30 years, I have researched women’s lives with enthusiasm — their ways of knowing, of doing and of being. I’ve written articles, poetry, hosted television segments on women’s development and published a book with the University of Ottawa Press on women’s ways of learning.

Lately, I’ve immersed myself in women’s history, more specifically, French Canadian Northern Ontario women’s history. I am on a quest to learn about my own historical roots through the eyes of the women who have pioneered the North. Beginning in the late 1860s, thousands of French Canadian families emigrated to Ontario from their native Quebec including my two grandmothers—Maria Lemire Guénette from St-Bruno-de-Guigues and Rosa Paul Ouellette from Drummondville. These brave souls left their families and their birthplace to create a new life amongst the tall, dark shades of green in the rugged, isolated and largely Anglophone Northern Ontario landscape.

It wasn’t long before Genealogy Avenue unexpectedly crossed paths with History Road! Before 2012, I had given only fleeting thoughts to my genealogy but my research on French Canadian women pioneers awakened my curiosity about my own ancestors. As I compiled information, gathered data and collected photos to tell the stories of French Canadian women who had been part of the “herstory” of Northern Ontario since the time of colonization, I opened a file with the name “Ouellette” and began paying attention to my own ancestors.

About six months into my research, I wrote an article about my memére Rosa who was quite a creative businesswoman in her day. Having moved to Northern Ontario in 1934 at the age of 30, with five children in tow, one on the way and quite a few more to come (15 births, 13 children lived to adulthood), I learned that her adventurous spirit knew no bounds.

Charles and Rosa Ouellette, their wedding day on July 26, 1922 in Valleyfield, Quebec
Image provided by Author

Since I no longer live in Northern Ontario, my research presents multiple challenges as I am far removed from municipal archives, local libraries, historical society meetings and family gatherings where the lives and stories of women are told.  When I do get my eager hands on a book or a site about French Canadian pioneers in Northern Ontario, I am often left wanting by its lack of relevant content for my research as most publications and resources have silent pages when it comes to women’s experiences and historical contributions.

Nonetheless, I have persevered and am pleased to have published 185 articles on my research blog thus far! Although it may not seem like an impressive number, it is quite a feat considering the significant lack of material that I must contend with and the fact that Ontario's francophone community represents less than 5% of the province's total population.

I have since found out that I am a descendant of Anne Rivet, a King’s Daughter who arrived in New France in 1666 and married my ancestor René Hoûallet on March 8, 1666. Like Anne, I too seem to be guided by the light of hope that whatever challenges burden my research path, I will cross the river of knowledge and find the New World!

My research may be but a whisper on the timeline of history but the inspiration comes from the female wind of the past. Beginning in the late 1860s, thousands of French Canadian women have walked and felt the Northern land before me. They have planted cultural roots, sang the French language and echoed traditions passed on to through their daughters and sons for 400 years.

As I learn more about my Ouellette ancestry, how can I not feel honored by Isabelle Barré’s sacrifice in Paris when her son René Houâllet, my first ancestor to come to Canada, left la mère patrie never to return? Or be admiring of Anne Rivet’s adventurous spirit, widowed, poor, yet coming to New France to start all over again with René? And Rosa, my paternal grandmother, who left her family in Drummondville at age 30 and never went back home because the circumstances of her life did not allow for traveling?

Our collective narrative is etched with the spirit of the Great Women of yesteryear—their challenges, their courage, their losses and their triumphs. It is a privilege to showcase them on my blog. Visit me at http://femmesdelaroute11.wordpress.com.


Jeannine Ouellette has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education. She is the author of two blogs related to women’s history: “Les femmes de la route 11: les Elles du Nord” and Women in Ottawa: Mentors and Milestones.




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20 December 2013

Seeking Nominations for the 2014 NGS Awards -- deadline for all awards nominations is 31 January 2014


Every year the National Genealogical Society recognizes excellence, scholarship, and achievements in the field of genealogy by presenting awards to organizations and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to NGS programs or have performed exceptional work in the field of genealogy, history, biography, or heraldry. Winners for this year’s competition will be recognized at our annual Family History Conference to be held 7–10 May 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.

Award of Merit: To recognize exceptional contributions to the field of genealogy by an individual or nonprofit genealogical or historical organization over a period of five years or more. The nominee need not be a member of NGS.

Distinguished Service Award: To recognize outstanding contributions to the work of NGS. A nominee must have been a member of NGS for at least one year. This award may be presented to an individual more than once.

The Shirley Langdon Wilcox Award for Exemplary Volunteerism: To recognize a volunteer whose generosity of spirit and time has greatly benefited the National Genealogical Society and the genealogical community in general over a period of years. The recipient must be a member of NGS.

Fellow of the National Genealogical Society (FNGS): To recognize outstanding work in the field of genealogy or the related fields of history, biography, or heraldry, in addition to outstanding service to the National Genealogical Society. A nominee must have been a member of NGS for at least five years.

Complete details and all necessary forms for the awards can be found at the NGS website at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/awards_competitions.

The deadline for all awards is 31 January 2014. You do not have to wait until January to submit a nomination. In fact we urge you to send your entries in now. We have already received a number of nominations. 

You will receive an acknowledgement that your awards nomination has been received. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, please contact Chuck Mason, NGS Awards Chair, at awards@ngsgenealogy.org. You may also contact him with questions at the same e-mail address.


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19 December 2013

Gloves off or on as we handle archival material?



Is it time we took the “gloves off” as we do genealogical research?

The National Archives (UK) posted a piece titled The gloves are off which talks about how more and more patrons are being asked to NOT wear white gloves as they examine documents and other textual materials.  We are much less likely to cause damage with clean and dry bare hands than with gloves.  As a person with small hands, I do have to say that I am incredibly clumsy when wearing gloves of any kind – my fingers don’t often reach the tips, I lose dexterity and I can’t seem to keep a grip on anything!

One exception is photographs where oils and sweat can greatly damage the surface.  Otherwise clean and dry hands is often the way to go.  Do read all the various comments post in response as they are full of really neat information.

What do you think? Gloves on or off when we handle historic textual materials?


Read more about this at:




Editor’s Note: Always check the policies of any particular archives.  Follow their stated rules.  If you are unsure about what to do, ask an archivist!




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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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18 December 2013

Event Focused Genealogy -- are you taking advantage of this research tool?


Sometimes, if we change our view on how we look at things, we “see” something different.

Much of our perspective as we do genealogy and family history research is to focus on the people – while making note of details on where, when and what.  This isn’t always sufficient to fully capture the information to be found in the records of events identified in our research.  After all, our family trees don’t show the “FAN club” we may have identified.

I was reminded of this when I read a post last month by Tony Proctor titled Eventful Genealogy.  As he says ...

The Event is one of the most undervalued entities in a family-history (or any history) collection. Excessive emphasis is usually placed on the Person entity, and virtually none at all on the Place entity. Read how the Event is crucial to binding our information to create a coherent description of the past.

Because of this issue, I frequently create matrices so that I can pull out information from events that extend across often several family lines which are sometimes related via marriage or birth and sometimes just related via geography, business connections, or otherwise. 

We need to be “open” to exploring different ways of examining/presenting the information we acquire.  Though we are often challenged just to find data and information about our ancestors, their lives and the historical context in which they lived, we can also be greatly challenged to exhaustively and properly analyze the data.  Understanding the events in our ancestors’ lives and the context of those events historically, might significantly influence our interpretation of found information.

After all, though people may create history, historic events often shape how they respond.  History doesn’t happen without people.

Has switching your perspective to events vs people resulted in a eureka moment for your research?


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17 December 2013

Smithsonian + Crowdsourcing Digitization = Lots of really neat stuff available to us!



The Smithsonian and its holdings are massive.  If you are fortunate to live in or near DC and/or have a chance to visit there, you can easily spend days, possibly weeks just visiting the Smithsonian museums.  Just a couple of weeks ago I was visiting two museums (the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M Sackler Gallery) which I had never been to before.  I also know that what we see if really the “tip of the iceberg” for what is contained in its massive collection.

In the Smithsonian’s efforts to make more of their collections available to us, it is using crowdsourcing techniques and enlisting “Smithsonian Digital Volunteers” (aka transcribers).  Currently, over 1800 users have or are transcribing over 10,000 documents.  As a volunteer (you will need to signup) you can select either a theme or museum or archive of interest to see what projects are currently available for transcribing.  There is an amazing diversity of projects available.  Though many may not include information about your ancestors, they do have the potential to give you insight into their lives or just introduce you to something you were previously unfamiliar with!

Don’t see a project here that catches your eye, then maybe you want to help NARA and its transcription project!  Don’t forget FamilySearch and its indexing project.  Or, maybe there is a local project like the North Carolina Family Records Online project Genealogy Vertical File Transcription Project.

As you visit various genealogy or family history related websites, see if they might also be using crowdsourcing to expedite making material more quickly available to researchers online.  Might you be able to help?


Editor’s Note: Do check out the Best of Both Worlds, Museums, Libraries, and Archives in a Digital Age – a new e-book exploring “the efforts of many world-class institutions, including his own [the Smithsonian] to use technology to open their collections and programs to the world.”  There is also a short introductory video.

Editor’s Note: Other Upfront with NGS articles about the Smithsonian:

Editor’s Note: Other Upfront with NGS articles about Crowdsourcing:



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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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16 December 2013

Native American Ancestral Research -- Don't Limit Yourself to Federally and State Recognized Tribes!

Image as appeared with Selected Native American Resources in Genealogy

Sometimes it’s the little things that catch our eye.  Last week while doing research at the Government and Heritage Library (GHL) (part of the State Library of North Carolina), I saw a map that reminded me that though the Cherokee nation might be the only Federally Recognized tribe in North Carolina, there are several State Recognized tribes and still other tribes whose territory included North Carolina. 

Source: http://www.native-languages.org/virginia.jpg
A blog post yesterday, Selected Native American Resources in Genealogy, on the GHL blog includes the same map and a list of helpful related resources held by GHL. Though the Cherokee tribe members and ancestors are better documented, when there is family lore that NC ancestors were Native American, you will want to consider the possibility that they were not Cherokee (the most popular tribe mentioned in such lore) and that that they might have been members of the Lumbee, Coharie, Meherrin, Halawi-Saponi and or another tribe.


It’s easy to get focused on the Federally recognized tribes and not know or remember that states like North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia all still have Native American populations and are home to many State Recognized Tribes.  Check out the Federal and State Recognized Tribes list published by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Additionally, there are Native American tribes which have neither State nor Federal Recognition and yet these tribes clearly existed and have descendants today living on what were ancient tribal lands. Recognize though that many tribes may also no longer be resident in states where they once were found. Or, those descendants who remain

Given that there was a Tuscarora war 1711-1715 in NC, this tribe comes to mind for me as one which falls into this category.  This maps shows that there are other tribes which were resident in NC at the time of European contact and so they are also candidates as a source of Native American heritage in your family tree! Access Genealogy has a nice collection of information about Native American populations (The Indian Tribes of North American) including a list of North Carolina Indian Tribes which documents ALL the identified tribes that at any time resided in North Carolina.  This site has many more resources that you will want to check out.

So, when considering Native American ancestry and its possible presence in your family tree, dig into the history of the Native Americans in the state during the time period where your family lived.  Look beyond Federally and State recognized tribes and into ALL Native Americans resident at the appropriate time.  Since intermarrying could have occurred at any time, your Native American ancestry might be from a tribe no longer in existence (as a recognized tribe) and yet was very real at one time.

If you’ve successfully identified/documented a Native American ancestry link to a not Federally or State recognized tribe, please share your story?  

What resources were helpful?  

What suggestions would you offer those attempting to do the same?







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