Elaine Turk NELL
Means Family Historian
Member of the
NC Chapter Association of
Elaine Turk Nell 2007
2007 Newspaper Research: An untapped genealogical resource
Newspapers are often untapped genealogical resources.
However, they are filled with gems such as obituaries & death notices,
birth, engagement, marriage & anniversary announcements, society &
community news & gossip columns, school news, community & school
& church activities, graduation announcements, legal notices (divorces,
estate settlements, wills, judicial actions, etc.), public announcements,
advertisements, unclaimed mail, real estate sales, military news, and
Many old newspapers have been abstracted or transcribed in book form,
on the internet, and some are now available online through subscription.
Even more are available on microfilm at public libraries, archives, universities,
and the LDS Church’s Family History Center as well as the Library
of Congress. The U.S. Newspaper Program lists the largest microfilmed
newspaper repository in each state at their website: http://www.neh.gov/projects/usnp.html
Many of these are available through your public library via inter-library
Finally, remember that there are not only local & national newspapers
but religious newspapers as well, often sponsored by church denominations.
Some of these have been indexed or abstracted.
Brick Wall Solutions For Hard to Find Family
you have worked almost a year or more on your family history
and now you think you are at a complete loss and can't proceed
any further. You have hit that famous 'Brick Wall" in genealogy.
That brick wall could be in reference to one individual
or a whole branch for which you have no documented information.
However, by using the following five ideas; you could very
possibly have a major breakthrough in that 'wall'.
thing is to organize what information you have even if you
have done that all along. Many times just going over names,
dates, locations, stories and photos again while you categorize
them into notebooks or on a family tree database will turn
on a light bulb of a connection or a tie-in to another relative
you haven't considered earlier.
consider researching siblings within that difficult branch.
Your great grandfather may have had a rather common given
name like John, but his brother could have had an unusual
given name, like Rufus. Also the siblings could have been
more accomplished or noteworthy, so possibly easier to locate.
In addition, by checking great grandfather's cousins if
known and his in-laws could provide additional clues.
make sure there is accurate information on the individual
and that it comes from as many diverse sources as possible.
For example, you believe an ancestor was born in Haverhill,
Massachusetts. Did each census record you locate confirm
that? On their death certificate and obituary was the same
birth location written? Were any children born in the same
location or a place nearby?
the ancestor's parents immigrated to the United States,
where did they first settle? Was it close to where you thought
your ancestor was born? Located that parent's naturalization
papers, it will list any children and where they were born.
Obtain a copy of the ancestor's social security application
(form SS-5), if they lived after 1936, and compare the birth
place. By verifying just one item like a birth place might
lead you on the correct ancestral path.
one of the biggest stumbling blocks can be the various spellings
for surnames and given names. Especially the further back
in time you research the less likely an ancestor was literate,
so the spelling of a name would have been based on how a
clerk thought the name should have been written. However,
even our ancestors chose to spell and / or pronounce their
name differently over the years. Using the Soundex for surnames
can be very helpful.
Soundex is an index of sound codes for names, first used
in the 1930s. The index groups a name with similar sounds.
Each code is a series of a letter then three numbers with
the letter representing the beginning letter of the surname
(example: K620). The three numbers stand for the consonants
in the name, never the vowels or 'H', and 'W'. Most databases
will allow you to mark if you want the Soundex used when
looking for a surname. Also play around with the spelling
of a name, could there have been two 'f's' in the spelling,
or was the ending 'sen' instead of 'son'?
Fifth idea, be flexible in your date search. Sometimes you
have the idea that your grandmother was born in May 1898
and you only looked for records with that month and year.
Keep in mind, as your grandmother got a little older she
could have easily given a different birth month and year,
especially on census records.
her parents had married in February 1898, she might not
want it known as the first child, she was born only 3 months
later. Not just the ladies, men have changed their ages
also, especially on marriage applications, making themselves
younger or older. So always move that scale of a birth year
several years either way when researching an ancestor. Plus
the birth month could have been altered for legitimacy purposes,
so also adjust the search of months.
is my hobby.. and addiction. For the last 20 years I have
been researching, even before there was the internet. Along
the way I have found many resources and shortcuts that I love
to share with others.
free to visit me on http://www.genealogysoup.com
where you can sign up for my monthly newsletter and receive
my "Commonly Used Genealogical Forms" ebook to use in your
would love to hear from you!
Permission Granted by the Author.
Means Family Historian
NC Chapter Association of
© Elaine Turk Nell 2008
All Rights Reserved
to Return to
Get Genealogy Information
of us eventually hit a brick wall in our genealogical research.
Learning to break through these can be a challenge, but with
further genealogical education, doing so is often possible.
There are many opportunities for learning ways to sharpen
our skills in the field of genealogy. In addition to going
to local genealogical societies’ meetings & workshops
and taking correspondence & on-line courses (on-line courses
are available through the National Genealogical Society and
through the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, for
example), consider attending workshops and conferences sponsored
by state genealogical societies. Most states’ genealogical
websites list upcoming workshops & conferences that they
will be hosting throughout the year.
There are also several annual national conferences where many
of the nation’s best genealogists teach. Some of these
are the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Conference in
the States, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)
Conference, the Institute for Genealogical & Historical
Research (IGHR) at Samford University, the National Institute
on Genealogical Research (NIGR), the Salt Lake Institute of
Genealogy, and the Brigham Young University Conference on
Family History and Genealogy. Another available conference
is the Regional In-depth Genealogical Studies Alliance (RIGS
Alliance), which focuses on research at regional branches
of the National Archives.
In addition to being wonderful opportunities for learning
and improving research methods, attending genealogical workshops
and conferences is a fun way to network, make new friends,
and often find new relatives. Another great thing about attending
them is that while you’re there, no one looks at you
like you’re a Martian when you want to talk about your
family history and your most recent tromp through a family
cemetery! I highly encourage you to attend as many of these
opportunities for genealogical education as you can. They
are invaluable in breaking through those brick walls. There
is always something new to learn in the field of genealogy.
Just when we think we’ve searched everywhere for Grandpa,
there’s another avenue to try.
Below are websites for the national conferences discussed
Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy:http://www.infouga.org/site/
BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy: http://ce.byu.edu/cw/cwgen/
Other opportunities for genealogical education:
National Institute for Genealogical Studies: http://www.genealogicalstudies.com/
National Genealogical Society:http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/
The NGS Home Study
Course and their on-line courses are well-known for quality
Family History to Improve Your Health.
Genealogy, the practice of finding your ancestors and charting out
your family tree, has become one of the most practiced hobbies worldwide.
People of all ages are digging into old family records and getting
back to their roots with a myriad of different tools and websites
available to assist this growing passion. One aspect of genealogy
that is less well known, but may be even more beneficial to you
than collecting interesting family stories, is charting your family
A family health history is similar to a family tree in that it organizes
your ancestors in generational groups showing parent-child relationships,
as well as marriages and siblings. However, a family health history
differs from a typical family tree pedigree in that it records certain
health issues, illnesses and disorders individuals in a family have
had, and shows trends of those illnesses and disorders through families.
Doctors have long known that certain disorders can ‘run in
families’. For example, an individual with a strong family
history of heart disease has a 9.8 times greater risk for heart
disease than an individual without a family history of the disease.
Charting a family health pedigree can make health trends and patterns
in the family easier to spot. This of course, can be key to preventing
health problems from ever developing.
A clearly marked family health history will indicate to you the
need to make smart dietary and healthy living choices, as well as
be particularly motivated to get tested and screened for family
diseases on a regular basis. Sharing and discussing your family
health history with your doctor will help you to catch and treat
any problems in the early stages before it is too late.
new website called ItRunsInMyFamily.com
will help you create your family health history online. Start your
family health history today!
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved
in Texas Research
Wondering where to begin in Texas research? I have been researching
my maternal Munselle family since 1984, and have been working
in partnership with a Munselle relative, Nancy Cunningham of Dallas,
Texas, for about 20 years.
We have a Munselle website at
We offer assistance and guidance to anyone from the
Munselle or related families who is working on their family history.
During the past year, we have made significant progress using
the free Texas death certificates available on the database, Texas
Deaths: 1890-1976, from FamilySearch Record Search at http://pilot.familysearch.org/.
If you are
hoping to fill in the gaps in your family history, this is an
excellent place to begin. One caveat: the information on these
death certificates was usually provided by relatives, who could
(and did) make mistakes. Take the time to verify data on the death
certificates by checking it against other family and historical
records. It is also a good idea to search for all possible variations
and spellings of your ancestor's name. Many of our most elusive
ancestors have turned up in the death certificates under unusual
variations of both first and last names. Can't find a female ancestor?
Look for her under 'Mrs. John Smith'.
Another resource that I use systematically is The Handbook of
Texas Online at http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/search1.html
I would recommend this site to any Texas researcher. Not only
will it tell you what county any Texas city or community is in,
it will provide interesting background about where your ancestors
lived, and help you to place them geographically.
Have you encountered a 'brick wall'? Our tried-and-true approach
to this problem is to send out targeted queries to all possible
related message boards. Be creative in your search for message
boards; try to think of
connected surnames and geographical areas that you may not have
queried previously. In addition to the message boards on Ancestry,
Genealogy.Com, I have had considerable success with Cousin Connect
Research in Texas can be challenging and frustrating, but it is
also fascinating and rewarding.
(That is a zero after the "t" in tourgirl.)
Means Family Historian
NC Chapter Association of
© Elaine Turk Nell 2008
All Rights Reserved
to Return to
Get Genealogy Information
Were your ancestors urban dwellers? If so, you may find city directories
helpful in your research, especially for years between the available
Federal Population Census. While they’ve been around since
the 18th century (mainly in large cities), directories from those
early years are not plentiful. The largest number of city directories
still available cover the latter 1800s to the present.
City directories are not the same as telephone directories. Like
telephone directories, city directories list residents’ names,
dwellings, and businesses. However, city directories were printed
long before telephones were invented and provide additional information
that telephone directories do not. This is information that may
help you break through those brick walls. For example, often a wife’s
name is listed in parenthesis after the name of the male head of
household. Likewise, an entry for a widow sometimes gives her deceased
husband’s name. Ah! So that was grandpa’s name! Residents’
occupations are usually listed, sometimes along with their business
addresses (if they were business owners) or the name of their employer.
You can then take that information and locate where it is in the
business section of the city directory and sometimes find ads for
the company. Knowing where your ancestor worked may open up a whole
new area of records.
One of the most unique features about city directories is that they
can be used to examine households from year to year. If someone
else is listed in the household with your ancestor, closely consider
that this person may be a relative. Likewise, if someone by the
same surname lived in the same house as your ancestor, even if it’s
in later years after your ancestor moved to another locale, this
person could also a relative.
Most city directories have cross indexes in the back which can be
used to identify neighbors as well as local businesses and churches
that are nearby. Use these to find new avenues to explore. If you
do not know where your ancestor attended church or where he/she
is buried, check records of nearby churches and their cemeteries.
Neighbors may be relatives, or perhaps they migrated with your ancestor
or witnessed some of his/her court documents. Neighborhoods provide
a whole new realm of research. Remember that our ancestors did not
usually move to new locations alone. They almost always migrated
with family, neighbors, and/or members of their church congregation.
So, where do you find city directories? Local libraries and/or archives
are logical places to begin, especially those with special collections
sections or a genealogical & historical collections. Some original
directories are available, while others may be on microform. Some
have been transcribed or digitized and are available online at websites
such as Ancestry.com, Footnote.com, and DistantCousin.com. The Library
of Congress <http://www.loc.gov/index.html> has the largest
collection of city directories in the United States.
Don’t miss out on the treasures of city directories. They
can help break through those high brick walls!
asked my friend to explain the Ancestry DNA test and help me understand
how to use the results. He is not a certified GenDNA expert, however,
he has been studing the DNA process .(webmasterGetGenInfo)
like to categorize this DNA information into short-term (less
than 1000 years) and long-term (more than 1000 years). I make
the break at 1000 years because that is when surnames became common
and there is at least the hope of finding documentation.
1000 years you are really looking more at anthropology than genealogy
unless you tie into some royal or historical lineages.
Short-term you want to try to match up with people who have the
same genetic markers as you do for three reasons.
if you get an exact match, they
may have some information about your line that you didn't have.
Hopefully, they have research that allows you to add generations
to your family tree, but the chances of that happening is slim.
it may help you focus
your research. For years I was looking for one of my lineages
in VA, and DNA showed that I should have been researching in Maryland.
it will get you in touch with people that are interested in the
same lines. I would suggest you enter your data in a public data
base to see if you come up with any genetic matches.
That's a fairly big database and you may connect with others there.
Long-term you are working with your haplogroup. Ancestry.com has
said you belong to haplogroup H. That is a very common haplogroup
and there is a lot
of information out there about it. I am in haplogroup W which
rare so not so much available.
on haplogroup H and I think you will find scads of discussions
about your deep ancestry (going back 10s of 1000s of years).
it doesn't add a thing to your family tree but still very
interesting. I would highly recommend reading Bryan Sykes book
"The Seven Daughters of Eve." It is very entertaining,
because he describes what the
it was like for the women in the seven most common haplogroups
to live back in prehistoric times.
can read just the chapter about Helena which is the name he gives
to haplogroup H women
if you go to the National Geographic Genographic Project you will
be able to see the migration path of the various haplogroups.
pretty interesting to see where your ancestors came from and how
Well, that should get you started.
– Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved
The following comments are a result of an article
posted on this website entitled: What Next?:
"Surnames general began about 1,000 years ago and primarily
in Ireland. Jewish populations, for the most part, did not have
surnames until about 200 yrs ago. Even my Welsh ancestors didn’t
until 1698 when they came to America.
There’s some DNA statement in the “Answers to basic
DNA Questions” article which need clarification:
1. You do NOT need an exact match to be closely related for Ydna;
you DO for mtDNA and even then the common ancestor could be tens
of thousands of years ago..
2. One must test before they learn of their Haplogroup( see below)
so it is not of much interest for people to Google haplogroups
that are not theirs.
3. Mitosearch is the public database to enter your test results,
ONLY for mtDNA (all female lines). Ysearch, Ybase and Y-chromosome
are for Ydna only."
genetic genealogy Blog
Coordinator for the International Society of Genetic Genealogists
(ISOGG*), manages eleven DNA Projects and several email lists
on Rootsweb and Yahoo.
.......Copyright 2009 Emily Audition
- All Rights Reserved.
Resident Genealogy Columnist
Member of the
NC Chapter Association of Professional Genealogists
MEANS Family Historian
© Elaine Turk Nell 2009 All Rights Reserved
Furthering Your Genealogical Education
............... in Trying
With financial concerns around every corner in the recent global
economic downturn, many genealogists are left wondering how to pay
for continuing their genealogical education. Although national conferences
and institutes are extremely appealing and worthwhile, they can
also be expensive endeavors, especially when food, lodging, and
transportation are added. Although often less expensive than on-sight
conferences & institutes, online genealogical courses and those
offered by correspondence can still be expensive. So, what’s
a genealogist to do? What other options are out there?
Faced with an upcoming layoff in my own family, I recently made
the decision to forego attending the National Genealogical Society
Conference in the States, which was held in nearby Raleigh, NC last
month. Having never been to an NGS Conference in the States, I looked
forward to attending it since the location was announced a few years
ago. I even booked my hotel room last fall in anxious anticipation.
Shortly thereafter, however, I learned that my husband is to be
laid off later this year. So, when the time came to register for
the conference itself, I added up the hotel bill for 5 days, the
known food costs, and conference fees and decided I’d best
rethink the idea. There would also be additional food and miscellaneous
costs, and who could resist buying a few genealogical or historical
books while there? I pondered this awhile, really grieving the thought
of not attending. Then it occurred to me that some of the lectures
might be recorded as they used to be at other conferences using
a company called Audiotapes.com. Sure enough, they were! I could
buy CDs of lectures for $12 each from Jamb-inc.com, which has provided
this service for recent National Genealogical Society Conferences.
That decided it for me. While I would greatly miss the experience
of being there, the genealogical companionship, and especially the
lecture handouts, I could at least have the lectures on CD to listen
to again and again and to loan to others too. Most of all, I’d
save hundreds of dollars, and with the economy like it is, every
Genealogical lectures on CD and tape are sometimes sold by genealogical
and historical societies too. For example, the North Carolina Genealogical
Society sells recordings of some genealogical lectures given by
well-known genealogists David Rencher, Helen Leary, and Mark Lowe.
In addition to listening to genealogical lectures on CD or tape,
genealogists can always pour over more books! Your local public
and/or university library, especially the genealogy and/or special
collection section(s), may offer opportunities for you to read genealogical
methods books for free. You will likely be limited to reading some
of them on-site rather than checking them out though, and your selection
may be limited as well. A solution for this may be Interlibrary
Loan through your local public library.
The National Genealogical Society moved its genealogical collection
of over 20,000 books to the special collections department at St.
Louis County Library about eight years ago. Previously, the collection
was only available by loan to NGS members, but now that it is housed
at the St. Louis County Library, it is available to the public free
through Interlibrary Loan. Not only do they have books on genealogical
methodology, they also have thousands of family, state, county,
and local history books as well as abstracts of various records.
So, the next time you find yourself fretting about the economy’s
effect on your genealogical education, try some of the above ideas
to brighten your spirits and help you break down those brick walls!
Websites mentioned in this article:
Audiotapes.com: http://www.repeatperformance.com Click on Genealogy
Note: Many of these are recordings of lectures from several years
ago. Keep in mind that
while some topics & genealogical research methods are timeless,
others are time-
sensitive. Often it’s better to go with more recent lectures
to be safe, in which case it
would more appropriate to use Jamb Tapes below.
Jamb Tapes, Inc.: http://www.jamb-inc.com Click on Genealogy
North Carolina Genealogical Society: http://www.ncgenealogy.org
Look under the Publications Tab, then click on NCGS Tapes &
NGS Book Loan Collection: http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/library_book_loan_collection
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