31 January 2014

Upfront Mini Bytes – Federal Reserve, RI, Austrian Newspapers, South GA, Mordecai School (NC), New Netherland Ships Passengers, Guinness Archive, and Northeastern AL

Welcome to our newest edition of our bi-weekly feature Upfront Mini Bytes.  In Upfront Mini Bytes we provide eight tasty bits of genealogy news that will help give you a deeper byte into your family history research. Each item is short and sweet.  We encourage you to check out the links to articles, blog posts, resources, and anything genealogical!

We hope you found the past editions helpful.  Use your favorite search engine with “Upfront with NGS” “Mini Bytes” or use this Google search link.

Do you have questions, suggestions for future posts, or comments?  Please post a comment or send an e-mail to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org.

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Whether your ancestors worked for the Federal Reserve or you have handled US currency, you might be interested to learn more about the 1913 establishment of the Federal Reserve, its purpose, and how it functioned.

Is there Rhode Island (RI) ancestry in your family tree? Check out the RI online digital archive here.  This article (Boston.com) provides a nice overview. 

How neat that a bunch of Austrian newspapers are online at the Austrian National Library website. Here is a list of the currently available newspapers (and magazines).  Remember that the Austrian empire and its borders changed quite a bit through time.  You may also want to read about the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary.  Many of us with Polish, Galician, Ruthenian, Czechoslovakian, Ukrainian, and other eastern European ancestors will find that they lived within the borders of Austria-Hungary at the time of their emigration to the US, Canada, etc. You can currently search the editions from 1700-1872. The website is in German, though Google translate easily made it accessible to this non-German speaker. The native language of each newspaper is stated.

If you are researching South Georgia, make sure to check out The Digital Library of Georgia.  It recently added the Vienna News to the South Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive. The South Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive now provides access to sixteen newspaper titles published in ten south Georgia cities (AlbanyAmericus, Bainbridge, Brunswick, Cuthbert, Thomasville, Tifton, ValdostaVienna, and Waycross) from 1845 to 1922.

Do you have an early 19th century prominent North Carolina family in your lineage?  Were there any daughters of school age c. 1809-1818?  If so, maybe they attended the Mordecai school in WarrentonNorth Carolina --a girls' school that was in operation from 1809-1818. About 500 women born roughly between 1795 and 1805 attended the school for at least one half-year term. The blog, The Mordecai Female Academy, looks into those who attended.  It presents the attendees alphabetically and is currently up to the Ds.

Olive Tree has reconstructed ships' passenger lists to New Netherland (present day New York) covering 1624-1664 from various sources.

If I really wanted to get my husband interested in genealogy, I might just introduce him to The Guinness Archive which preserves the historical records of the Guinness Brewery at St. James's Gate in Dublin from 1759 to the present.

Here’s a great resource for those researching family who lived in Northeastern Alabama. The staff and volunteers of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library system have created an obituary index.  Current coverage starts in 1819 and comes forward to about 2005.







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30 January 2014

Official Blogger and Social Media Press Registration Announcement for the NGS 2014 Family History Conference



The National Genealogical Society (NGS) announces the opening of Official Blogger and Social Media Press registration for the 2014 Family History Conference, which will be held 7–10 May 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.

In recognition of the important media role played by bloggers and social media press, NGS invites bloggers and social media writers to register at http://goo.gl/hSRnU5 for official Social Media Press designation for the NGS 2014 Family History Conference. Social Media Press includes bloggers, micro-bloggers, and other social media. Registration is now open and will close on 21 February 2014. NGS will notify accepted Social Media Press by 1 March 2014. For more information on the NGS Social Media Policy, see http://goo.gl/Sigp7P.

NGS recognizes the number of engaged and talented bloggers who regularly write about the release of new records, upcoming events, research methods, tools, software choices, and other items of interest to the genealogical community. The special designation, Social Media Press, by NGS for the 2014 Family History Conference recognizes the daily contributions social media writers make to keep the field of genealogy current, particularly with news that is not covered in the mainstream media.

Official Social Media Press will have a limited license to select and use the designation and logo Official Social Media Press or Official Blogger for reporting conference events from acceptance through post-conference reporting. Other benefits of official recognition will include receipt of a press kit upon conference check-in and access to the Press table located in the Wi-Fi area just outside the exhibit hall. In addition, NGS will award a $50 registration credit for the NGS 2015 Family History Conference to the five Social Media Press authors who provide the most comprehensive coverage at the 2014 conference. The award recipients will be announced before the end of May 2014.




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29 January 2014

Yippee -- Global RootsTech Conference Announces FREE Online Broadcast Schedule



SALT LAKE CITY-RootsTech, the world's largest family history and technology conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 6-8, 2014, announced today that 15 of its popular sessions will be broadcast live and complimentary over the Internet. The live broadcasts will give those unable to attend in-person worldwide a sample of this year's conference content. Interested viewers can watch the live presentations at RootsTech.org. The fourth-year conference has attracted over 10,000 registered attendees in-person, and leaders expect over 20,000 additional viewers online.

The streamed sessions include a sampling of technology and family history presentations. Following are the broadcasted sessions and speakers. All times are in mountain standard time (MST):

Thursday, February 6
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Top 10 Things I Learned About My Family from My Couch by Tammy Hepps
1 p.m. to 2 p.m., FamilySearch Family Tree: What's New and What's Next by Ron Tanner
2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Intro to DNA for Genealogists by James Rader
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Genealogy in the Cloud by Randy Hoffman
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sharing Your Family with Multimedia by Michael LeClerc

Friday, February 7
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Storytelling Super Powers: How to Come Off as Your Family's Genealogy Hero by David Adelman
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Tweets, Links, Pins, and Posts: Break Down Genealogical Brick Walls with Social Media by Lisa Alzo
2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Getting the Most Out of Ancestry.com by Crista Cowen
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Finding Family and Ancestors Outside the USA with New Technologies by Daniel Horowitz
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Do It Yourself Photo Restoration by Ancestry Insider

Saturday, February 8
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Become an iPad Power User by Lisa Louise Cooke
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results by Josh Taylor
2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., A Beginner's Guide to Going Paperless by Randy Whited
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., How to Interview Yourself for a Personal History by Tom Taylor
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Five Ways to Do Genealogy in Your Sleep by Deborah Gamble

About RootsTech
RootsTech is a global family history event where people of all ages learn to discover and share their family stories and connections through technology. The first annual conference was held in 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hosted by FamilySearch and sponsored by leading genealogical organizations, the conference includes hands-on demonstrations and forums to provide a highly interactive environment and accelerate learning. Content is geared to young and old, beginner to advanced levels.





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Genealogy Indexer -- a neat little website that just might have what you need


Facebook and all that is posted there often leads me to new resources that I was not aware of.

A case in point was that yesterday I saw someone mention a new database being posted -- A list of 56,000 people repatriated to Bialystok during 1945-1950.

With some of my roots in eastern Poland and the Ukraine, I’m always curious when a resource from Eastern Europe is mentioned, especially for Poland. Though I have no ancestors who lived in Bialystock, I was curious and wanted to see what website had this data.

It ends up that the data is housed on Genealogy Indexer which was created in August, 2008 by hobbyist genealogist Logan Kleinwaks. That means this website has been around for over 5 years!

It is self-described as “... 350,000 pages of historical directories (business, address, telephone, etc., primarily from Central and Eastern Europe), 28,000 pages of 64 yizkor books (memorials to Jewish communities destroyed during the Holocaust), 32,000 pages of Polish and Russian military documents (lists of officers, casualties, etc.), 35,000 pages of community and personal histories, and 13,000 pages of Polish secondary school annual reports and other school sources. More genealogical resources are being added daily.”

As you can imagine, I had some catching up to do and so spent a bit of time looking around his website.

You can search across the entire database on the main page (see image above). Here are the search results for Malecka.  From this you will see that as its name implies, this website “Indexes” records held and made available by a variety of institutions.  As such an aggregator, it gives you one-stop searching across some pretty obscure and yet invaluable databases. 


I thought the reference to the Galician Schematism [Schematyzm Galicyjski] was interesting.  I was curious as to what is that?  I found an answer via the Glenview (IL) Public Library blog – the equivalent of our Yellow Pages.

I personally found it helpful to click on each “collection” as listed in the upper left corner.  This immediately gave me a sense of what locales and time periods are currently available for each class of records.

There is a lot listed!  If you are researching Eastern European, Russian, and ancestors from neighboring countries, you just might find a gem here.

Is there a particular database on this website where you found your ancestors listed?






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28 January 2014

These Incredible Animated GIFs Are More Than 150 Years Old



With the incredible cold experienced recently (and still) by many and more snow on the way for the mid-Atlantic and ice forecast for the deep south, today’s post is just something light and frivolous and yet historical!  A nice distraction from mother nature.

An article in Wired back in December bearing the title These Incredible Animated GIFs Are More Than 150 Years Old starts out with ...

More than 150 years before Buzzfeed uploaded its first cat GIF, people were already captivated by looping animations. In those days, of course, there was no photoshop or screen grabbing, no Tumblrs and Twitter to help craft and share the perfect GIF. Rather, artists relied on optical tools—things like zoetropes, phenakistoscopes, thaumatropes and other gadgets with very strange names to bring their illustrations to life.

Check out these interesting and sometimes almost disturbing animated images (equivalent to modern-day GIFs) as enjoyed by our ancestors.

I did a Google (TM) search on phenakistoscopes and there are quite a few images to be found if you feel you need more distracting!


 ... and here are thaumatropes ...


... and zoetropes ...


Are there other forms of entertainment enjoyed by our ancestors that we might want to take advantage of when winter weather keeps us indoors?








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27 January 2014

Ramblings from a train ... using travel as an opportunity to "see" the world as it is now and as it was!

Copyright 2014 Diane L Richard

I am writing this piece as I sit on a train.  Literally, I am on the Carolinian (train 79) and we are between Fredricksburg and Richmond in Virginia.

I love riding the train – there is a tranquility when I see so much untouched landscape.  I know that so much history has taken place along this route.  Every time I take this train, I see new things and have a greater appreciation for all that there is to see.

I am surrounded by individuals who are reading books (print or digital), listening to music, napping, working on their laptops (and often listening to music).  All I hear is the sound of the heat flowing into the rail car and the whistle blowing as we approach a crossroad.  It is very quiet and that often leads to contemplation.

How often in our hectic world do we take the time to notice and appreciate the roads we travel or the places we go?  Do you think of what life was like in earlier times?  Whose ancestors may have lived or died at that same spot?  History and people are all important to our research. 

Copyright 2014 Diane L Richard

On a train, I get to see the new, the abandoned and the historic.  I get to see the cultivated, abandoned or virgin forests along the way.  I have traversed many water bodies (small streams to pocosin (fancy word for a type of swamp in NC) to larger rivers) that we so effortlessly cross on the train. What we cross in seconds were huge obstacles (and time consuming to cross) for those living in the 18th century.

Most of my fellow travelers have not even looked out the windows as we journey!  There is so much to see ... much to contemplate ... much to learn.

Its one thing to know about the great Dismal Swamp (at the VA/NC line just east of where the train runs) and it’s another to cross mile after mile of pocosin and really gain some insight into what an obstacle this landscape was and continues to be both as one tries to navigate the terrain or to farm. 

Copyright 2014 Diane L Richard

As you cross disused and abandoned rail spurs, often leading to long abandoned or now nonexistent structures, you are reminded of industries that used to exist and employed many.

You pass through small towns where once-proud railroad stations used to sit, now converted to restaurants, offices, or something else as the trains no longer stop in these communities. 

You pass what once were vibrant main streets and now are mostly composed of abandoned storefronts.  You see efforts to revitalize these once busy locales in hopes of making them again an important hub in people’s lives.

Copyright 2014 Diane L Richard

You see wonderfully restored historic houses that preen in the sunlight whose neighbors have fallen into complete disrepair. You see new condominiums being built next to old cottages.

You see such untouched beauty!  I imagine some of it was just as it was in the 1700s when settlers first moved into the area or earlier when the

Besides the above, here are some of what else I have observed on my journey today – water towers of all sizes, a Civil War monument (Fredricksburg), ramshackle barns and buildings, cotton and other crop fields, abandoned factories, freight trains, main streets, college campuses, quaint country churches, dilapidated farm machinery, a colorful sunset, graffiti, lots of barren trees, railroad crossings, piles of railroad ties, trailer parks, cemeteries (from large and orderly to abandoned and un-kept), etc.

Next time you are traveling – whether by bus, train, car, airplane, boat, etc – try to not just view your journey as a means to get from point A to point B.  Use it as an opportunity to really look at the landscape that you are passing through.  I think you will find that you will gain a new appreciation for those who have and do live along your travel route. 


I don’t care how many maps I have looked at, how many documents I have examined or the countless county histories I have read, every time I take this train and look out the window, I gain an invaluable and intimate view of an ever changing  and yet often the same landscape.  A priceless experience ...



Editor's Note: Yes, the photos are not crisp.  Yes, they were taken by a cellphone camera.  Yes, they capture the often grimy windows and imperfect nature of taking images from a moving train.  And, most importantly, they provide a literal window into all that can be experienced by just really "looking" out at the world as we travel it.


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24 January 2014

Anniversary of the CA Gold Rush -- Did your ancestors participate in this or earlier Gold Rushes?

c. 1846 NC Map showing "Gold Region"

Today is the anniversary of the start of the “Gold Rush.”

“James Marshall, a carpenter, discovered gold in the American river in California in 1848. The resulting 'gold rush' attracted approximately 300,000 people looking to make their fortune.” (This Week in History (PBS))

Did your ancestors seek their fortune by participating in the CA gold rush?  Share their story !

Some resources to learn more about this time period :
+ The Gold Rush (American Experiences, PBS)
+ Gold Rush (California State Library)
+ California Gold Rush (About.com, Kimberly, Powell)
+ California Gold Rush (Fold3.com)

Note that CA was not the only state to have a gold rush.  In fact, North Carolina had a gold rush which took place much earlier followed by a Georgia gold rush.

Learn more about the gold rush in North Carolina via The History of Gold in North Carolina (UNC-TV). Access some of the records that survive for NC by searching the State Archives of North Carolina online catalog MARS for the term gold mine.

Are you aware of other gold rushes which occurred?  Where? When? What records might be extant?




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23 January 2014

National Cemeteries, State Veteran Cemeteries and Confederate Cemeteries all honor those who served

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery

Many communities have them and you are maybe like me and take for granted their existence, beyond Arlington cemetery (across the river from DC) – National Cemeteries.

My curiosity was peaked when I read The History of the U.S. National Cemetery System (on A Grave Matter).  It was fascinating to learn that it took until 1906 for “legislation passed that allowed the re-interment of Confederate soldiers in national cemeteries.”  Until that time only Union soldiers were interred in National Cemeteries.  Read more about Arlington Cemetery and the Confederate soldiers buried there.

Do note that a veteran does NOT have to be buried in a National Cemetery and many are not!

Additionally, besides the National Cemeteries (list of) there are also state established veterans cemeteries (list of).

Back to the Civil War and those who served the Confederacy. It ends up that in Raleigh (NC) where I live, that a Confederate cemetery was created in 1866 as a final resting place for Confederate Soldiers whose remains had to be removed from the Raleigh National Cemetery where only Union soldiers could be buried.

Census Diggins, Oakwood Confederate Cemetery
Raleigh was not the only place to establish a dedicated Confederate Cemetery.  Here are a few others I identified:
+ Washington Confederate Cemetery (Rose Hill, Hagerstown, MD)
+ Kittrell Confederate Cemetery, Confederate General Hospital Number One, Kittrell Springs, NC
+ Civil War Monuments of the South – Confederate Cemeteries
+ Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania [VA] Confederate Cemeteries – when I worked in DC while in college, I would visit these cemeteries

Are there deceased veterans in your family?  Are they buried in a National Cemetery or another cemetery dedicated to those who have served?  If the latter, tell us about such a non-National Cemetery where military veterans are buried.

Don’t forget to use the Gravesite Locator (US Department of Veterans Affairs) to hopefully learn where your ancestors who served in the military have been buried.






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22 January 2014

Historic preservation maps can be invaluable to genealogists


Whether you are doing a house history, learning the history of a locale, helping with an application for a historic property, etc, historical context plus documentary & non-textual resources are invaluable.

I stumbled across a neat GIS web service (aka map) (HPOWEB) for NC created by The North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office

“This service was created by the State Historic Preservation Office as an aid to planning and research. Site locations and boundaries are drawn from georeferenced scans of National Register and historic property survey maps supplemented with aerial photography, county tax parcel layers, and other sources. Data layers in this map are updated daily from the current HPO geodatabase. ARCHAEOLOGICAL DATA ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THIS SERVICE.”

It’s a really neat resource to see what properties have been identified.  Run your cursor over any shape on the map and you will see more details about the identified property and if it is listed in the National Register, there will be a link to its application.


This information can be invaluable to genealogists.  For example, assume my family lived in the vicinity of a structure which had been identified as existing at the time when they lived in the area.  If there are extant records for that historic property, might there be a mention of my family?

Has your community, county or state created a similar map showing identified historic properties?




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