25 July 2014

Upfront Mini Bytes – Adoption, Chicago, Tribal Maps, Odd French Linguistics, Surname Distribution, Tips for Reading Old Handwriting, Historic Photos, and Digitized Australian Newspapers

Editor’s Note: After a brief moratorium, Upfront Mini Bytes are back!

Welcome to our newest edition of our periodic 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 [email protected].


The Adoption History Project has a neat online archive.  Many in our family history community are adopted or are researching adoptions involving ancestors.  It has subsections labeled: Timeline, People & Organizations, Adoption Studies/Science, Topics in Adoption History, Further Reading, and Document Archives.  There is a lot of helpful material here, especially when you are seeking historical context.
Have roots or connections to Chicago?  Checkout This Clever Map Compares Chicago Before and After the Great Fire. You can overlay two maps: “One, culled from Google Maps’ API, shows Chicago of (roughly) today. The other is a color map of the city drawn in 1868, three years before the Great Fire.”

2010 Census - Tribal Tract Reference Maps are available from the US Census Bureau. These give you a very detailed perspective on tribal census tracts and tribal block groups as delineated to support 2010 Census data dissemination. The maps also show the boundaries and names of American Indian reservations, off-reservation trust lands (ORTLs), Alaska Native areas, Hawaiian home lands, states, counties, county subdivisions, places, and much more.  A great resource to match against historic maps and visualize how reservations have changed through time.

If you are doing French genealogy, be aware of some Linguistic Oddities. “Beyond the study of name-mangling in parish and civil registrations is the issue of odd terminology ... Reading civil and parish registrations is repetitious work and just as we begin to doze off, invariably, an odd term will snap us awake, even make us laugh. But these terms can be baffling as well, so today we give a mini-lexicon.”

Appreciating where surnames might be found can often help us advance our genealogy research.  One tool that might help you is PublicProfiler WorldnamesAt this site, you enter your surname (or the one that interests you) and run a search to determine the world-wide distribution of the name.  Do know that you need to enter an email address and indicate gender to get started.  The coverage is North American, Europe, the UK, India, China, Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina. The map shown is for Barna which fits my ancestor’s migration from Galicia (Poland near the borders with the Ukraine and Slovakia (previously Kingdom of Hungary).

Though not “new” definitely important to our research: Tips for reading old handwriting, Tips for Reading Old Records: Handwriting, Spelling, and Boundaries, and Deciphering Old Handwriting.  If you want to test yourself on Early American Handwriting, play this “game” to decode the messages of handwritten documents.  How did you do?

A fun visual bit of history, 14 Amateur Photos Taken With the Very First Consumer Camera. “Introduced in 1888, the Kodak No. 1 was the first camera marketed to average consumers. And thanks to a new set of images from the National Media Museum, we can now see what kinds of photos these early amateurs shot.”

Trove is a wonderful collection of digitized Australian newspapers.  It includes National, Regional, and State newspapers.  As of earlier this week there were 13,683,606 pages consisting of 131,943,198 articles available to search, covering from 1803 to 2007. Learn more about the Australian Newspaper Digitsation Program.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to everyone that responded to the Upfront Mini Bytes survey.  Based on your feedback, this feature will continue with the same format and frequency.

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