Wednesday, May 30, 2007

CVGS Menu for June 2007

The CVGS meeting "menu" at the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe for the month of June features (all meetings are held at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library):

Monday, June 4 from 10 AM to 12 noon in the Family Research area - CVGS members are available to assist researchers.

Wednesday, June 6 in the Conference Room -- Come and see the Board members wrestle dates, programs, finances, classes and everything else into order.

Monday, June 11 from 10 AM to 12 noon in the Family Research area - CVGS members are available to assist researchers.

Wednesday, June 13 from 10 AM to 12 noon in the Family Research area - CVGS members are available to assist researchers.

Monday, June 18 from 10 AM to 12 noon in the Family Research area - CVGS members are available to assist researchers.

Wednesday, June 20 in the Computer Lab -- the Computer Group will meet, led by Shirley Becker. We will probably visit more web sites and/or Ancestry databases.

Monday, June 25 at 10 AM in the Auditorium -- the General Society Meeting, with a short business meeting, followed by a presentation by Anne J. Miller titled "Overcoming Obstacles that Interfere with Finding Your Ancestors."

Wednesday, June 27 at 10 AM in the Conference Room -- the Research Group will meet, led by Randy Seaver. We will review the genealogy news for June, hear research problems of the attendees and try to help, and hear research success stories. Randy will try again (and probably fail again) to connect to the library wireless network.

Saturday, June 30 at 10 AM in the Auditorium -- the Special Saturday Meeting, with program announcements followed by a presentation by Alan Jones on "The Magic of Rootsweb."

As you can see, we have a lot on our plate this month. We invite you to come to our Monday table meetings in the Family Research area of the library - we can help you get started in genealogy research or talk over your research problems.

Our speaker meetings are designed to provide interesting and helpful presentations by professional genealogy speakers.

The Computer and Research Groups are to help you overcome research roadblocks and get ideas for further research.

Visitors and guests are welcome to all of our meetings and events. We do hope that you will join our active and fun group of dedicated genealogy researchers.

Come experience the thrill of Genealogy and Family History Research at the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rootsweb - FREE and WONDERFUL data

I posted a list of my Top 10 favorite genealogy web sites here back in April. Number 2 on my list was the Rootsweb Genealogical Cooperative.

My humble opinion is that the suite of products and services are the best FREE genealogy resources on the Internet. I use the following all the time:

1) WorldConnect database - over 480 million names (some duplicated) in over 400,000 databases (some duplicated, all user-submitted, at

2) Rootsweb/Ancestry Message Boards -- over 161,000 boards, with 17 million posts - at

3) Social Security Death Index - 79 million names - at

4) Free Web pages at Rootsweb - these include the FreePages (user-submitted), regional resources (including genealogy society) and other pages - at There is a surname index when you click on a first letter range.

5) USGenWeb Archives searching - at

6) Rootsweb Mailing List Threaded Archives at

7) Rootsweb Mailing List Search at

8) Surname Resources at Rootsweb at

9) US County Resources at Rootsweb at

10) The Rootsweb Guide to Tracing Famly Trees - articles at

These are all very useful FREE resources that anybody, at any experience level, can use effectively to search for research performed by others. The USGenWeb Archives are the only resource listed that provides transcriptions of primary information, however.

Have you used the Rootsweb databases to their fullest? If not - try them out and you may be pleasantly surprised.

World War II Army Enlistment Records

I've been browsing through the Military Records trying to find NEW databases that might contain meaningful records. One of the databases is the World War II Army Enlistment Records for 1938 to 1946. There is a treasure trove of information in them.

I don't have any close family members who enlisted in the Army, so I chose one of the Seaver men on the list.Here is what is in these records (some of the information may vary depending on rank):


Name: Guy R Seaver Jr
Birth Year: 1918
Race: White,
citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Vermont
State: Vermont
County or City: Orange
Enlistment Date: 27 May 1942
Enlistment State: Vermont
Enlistment City: Rutland

Branch: Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life

Education: 1 year of high school
Marital Status: Single, without dependents
Height: 70
Weight: 166


You don't get to see the actual document. Ancestry has put all of the data into an index and you see what they have transcribed. However, there is a lot of information there. Unfortunately, only the birth year is provided, not a birth date, but you do get a height (in inches) and a weight (in pounds), and their residence when they enlisted.

This is one more set of very useful data for 20th century research.

Veterans Administration - National Gravesite Locator

Arlene Eakle posted about military gravesites and cemetery research recently, including the Veterans Administration Nationwide Gravesite Locator. Her post provides excellent tips on where to find cemetery records, plus reasons to use the NGL web site if you are looking for the graves of military veterans and their spouses.

However, the web site address that Arlene gave for the Nationwide Gravesite Locator was wrong - the correct URL is

The web site says:

"Search for burial locations of veterans and their family members in VA National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, various other military and Department of Interior cemeteries, and for veterans buried in private cemeteries when the grave is marked with a government grave marker.

"The Nationwide Gravesite Locator includes burial records from many sources. These sources provide varied data; some searches may contain less information than others. Information on veterans buried in private cemeteries was collected for the purpose of furnishing government grave markers, and we do not have information available for burials prior to 1997."

This information includes all military markers in all 112 military cemeteries, and to private cemeteries since 1997. The database doesn't include data on military markers placed in private cemeteries before 1997.

I put SEAVER in the surname search box and was rewarded with 120 hits, including my mother and father, and my uncle and his wife.

Read all of Arlene's post - she has good advice for finding cemetery records.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Suggestions for Genealogy Researchers

I was asked recently what suggestions or guidelines that I would recommend to beginning or returning genealogy researchers. I found several such lists on the Internet (see for many of them).

But I decided to do my own - let's call them "Suggestions for Genealogy Researchers:"

1) Thou shalt interview all of your living family members, and collect or borrow their family papers, photographs, books, etc..

2) Thou shalt learn to use the "tools" of the profession - pedigree chart, group sheet, time line, forms, software - and put your data on them.

3) Thou shalt educate yourself about genealogy and family history, and join local, regional or national genealogy societies.

4) Thou shalt work backwards in time in your research - one generation at a time.

5) Thou shalt learn to use the scientific method - collect data, hypothesize, analyze, identify needed data, find new data, then do it again - to evaluate all of your evidence.

6) Thou shalt visit all repositories (libraries, genealogy societies, historical societies, etc.) in your locality, and those where your ancestors lived.

7) Thou shalt use the Internet to find what other researchers have posted - web sites, databases, message boards, mailing lists, etc.

8) Thou shalt understand that the Internet does not have ALL genealogy and family history data - and won't for a very long time.

9) Thou shalt use the data of other researchers - from repositories, books, periodicals, or the Internet - as a "finding aid" only, not as gospel truth.

10) Thou shalt strive to find primary information, original source documents and direct evidence of all names, dates, locations and relationships.

11) Thou shalt apply the Genealogical Proof Standard to all of your work.

12) Thou shalt share the fruits of your labor with other researchers, including sources and evidence evaluation.


Of course, each one of those "suggestions" has been the subject of blog posts, periodical articles or even books in past genealogical times.

Military records on

Following Wednesday's announcement of the Ancestry Military Collection at, I went searching for a list of the databases included in the collection.

There is a search box for the whole collection at You can input a surname and refine the search with a given name, a state, a particular war, etc.

A complete list of the databases can be found at There appear to be over 700 entries in this list.The indexes for all of the databases appear to be free to non-subscribers.

If you do not have a personal subscription to, you can find a library that has Ancestry Library Edition available for use in the library. In Chula Vista and San Diego City and San Diego County, the public library branches all provide this database.

Useful database links

I often want to use the Card Catalog or see what new databases have been added recently. For some reason, Ancestry does not make these links easy to find on the home page - They do have the "all databases" link at the bottom of the home page. If you click on the "Search" tab, you can find a link to the Card Catalog and All Databases in the right hand text box on the Search page.

So as a service to all users, here are some helpful links (and now I can find them easily!):

1) Ancestry Card Catalog: In this search, you can use names, locations or key words to search for entries for your family searches.

2) Ancestry List of New and Updated Databases: list is very useful if you haven't kept up to speed on new additions to the database list.

3) Ancestry List of All Databases (24,538 today): Here This list is ordered by number of names in the records. You can search by record type by clicking on a topic in the left text box. This list also denotes which databases are FREE to non-subscribers.

If you don't have your own subscription, the Chula Vista Library provides FREE access to Ancestry Library Edition on their public and database computers.

Calling San Diego area genealogy researchers

Did you see the front page article today in the San Diego Union-Tribune titled "90 million U.S. war records go online; genealogists cheer"? Have you found all of the military records of your ancestors? Do you ever wonder how they lived their lives? If you live in the San Diego area, then you can find answers to these questions by joining a local genealogy society.

If you are looking for help in starting or continuing your genealogy research, or your family history research, please consider attending the regular activities and meetings of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS).

CVGS features (all meetings are at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library, 365 F Street in Chula Vista at 10 AM) the following activities:

1) Monthly society programs with a guest speaker on the last Monday of each month (except for May and December) - held in the auditorium.

2) Quarterly society programs with a guest speaker on 5th Saturdays - held in the auditorium.

3) Monthly Research Group on the 4th Wednesday of each month (except December) - held in the Conference Room.

4) Monthly Computer Group on the 3rd Wednesday of each month - held in the Computer Lab.

5) Beginner and refresher genealogy classes in March and October

6) Computer Skills class for genealogists in April

7) 5 Research trips each year to San Diego repositories or societies

8) A surname list, featuring member ahnentafels, on the CVGS web page.

9) Research assistance in the Family Research area of the library every Monday (except when there is a society meeting) from 10 AM to 12 noon, and 2 Wednesdays a month from 11 AM to 1 PM.

Membership is $20 for new members, and includes a monthly 8 page newsletter, email notification of genealogy news and program announcements, classes and research mentoring. The CVGS web site is at and the society blog is

The Chula Vista Library has Ancestry Library Edition (from for FREE patron access on their computer system - both the public computers and the database computers in the Fiction area). For instructions on access and use of Ancestry Library Edition, please ask the Reference Desk at the library.

CVGS is a friendly and helpful group of dedicated genealogists who can help you get started or get up-to-speed on research techniques, genealogy resources, and local repositories.

There are program flyers announcing all of our monthly programs posted on bulletin boards and available in slots at the Chula Vista, Bonita, National City, Lemon Grove and South Bay libraries.

For more information, please contact President Randy Seaver (email, phone 619-422-3397).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

CVGS Research Group meeting on 5/23

We had our monthly CVGS Research Group on Wednesday, with 16 attendees, including 3 visitors. It was an interesting and genealogy focused meeting!

I led off with the Genealogy News highlights for May - you can see it here at the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe. There was a lot of news this month!

We hooked up my computer to the projector, but couldn't access the Internet. Unfortunately, the wireless signal was too weak to use again. I had saved the CV Genealogy Cafe blog pages to my flash drive, so we used that to demonstrate the CVGS blog information.

Joan has a difficult problem - her John Robinson Hall (born 21 Mar 1886 in PA) has a marriage record in 1917 and a World War I draft registration in 1918 in California, but then there are no other records for him. He apparently abandoned the family in the 1920's. However, the marriage record lists his father as John S. Hall, born in Ireland, and Mary McLaughlin, born in PA. Joan would love to find a birth certificate and a death certificate, but has been stymied to date. We suggested trolling for the family in the 1900 census - and if in PA then writing for a birth certificate in that county. City directories might determine the approximate years they resided in PA.

Barbara wanted to know how to find an accurate list of children of an ancestor - one record says 16 children, but they can find records for only 14 children. We suggested listing the children by birth year and seeing if there are "holes" that might indicate a child that died young. Then, if they know the locality, they could look for cemetery records in that locality.

Bill was a visitor, and wondered about his Young family that received land in Ireland in the 1650 time frame. We suggested he review the British Isles Research Guide and some UK sites such as

Elsie was a visitor, and was amazed at the level of knowledge in the group. She recently asked me to research her family, and I have found several generations. She needs to do more research to find additional information.

Susi and her daughter-in-law have been researching the Allen family of Henrico County VA and Boone and Green Counties KY. Littleberry Allen (b 1803) wrote a long document that identifies his siblings but not his children. They also have records for a Berry W. Allen (born 1854) whose mother is Sarah Ann Moody, but they don't know Barry's father's name - the assumption is that his father is a son of Littleberry Allen. They have found Berry in the 1880 census, but can't find him in the 1860 or 1870 census.

Martha received some land deed data from Frederick County MD about her Burkett and House families, but there is not enough information to identify siblings or parents of her Burkett House. We suggested looking for church records and probate records that might identify family groups.

We passed around examples of a Social Security SS-5 application, a World War I draft registration card, a list of deed abstracts, and several other papers in the "show and tell" part of the session.

We packed a lot into 90 minutes today! It was exciting to have such a good turnout (20% of our membership).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Genealogy News - May 2007

Here is the Genealogy News summary for CVGS readers for May 2007:

1. Announcements:

a) At the NGS Conference, World Vital Records announced that they were partnering with Quinton Publications, Historic Ellis Island Passenger Records and FamilySearch.

b) At the NGS Conference, FamilySearch announced that they were partnering with World Vital Records, Footnote, and Godfrey Memorial Library. The content on these sites, and the index to the content, will be available for free at the Family History Library and the Family History Centers.

c) FamilySearch also announced that they intend to add 80 billion new records to thier web site through a "Records Access program." The church is creating partnerships with various archives and other records depositories in a move to become the world's premier international "clearinghouse" for family history.

d) There was an announcement (first posted on DearMYRTLE's blog) that FamilySearch is also partnering with Kindred Konnections and HeritageQuestOnline.

2. Databases

a) will digitize the entire set of Revolutionary War Pension Files (HQO has selected pages, not the complete files).

b) added US-Mexico Border Crossings Collection, 1903-1957 (need subscription for index and records)

c) added Minnesota Divorce, 1970-1995 and Minnesota Territorial and State Census, 1849-1905 (the index is free, need subscription for census records)

d) has added many databases with military records - RevWar through World War II (many have free index, need subscription for records)

e) ProQuest has added Civil War Era historical newspapers and government records to their subscription site, which includes ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

3. Other genealogy news

a) and the LDS Family History Library have worked out a way for subscribers to use their personal subscriptions at LDS facilities.

b) sent notices to Michael John Neill to withdraw his record images that were obtained from Ancestry from his web site, or face legal action. There may have been other web sites warned. Michael did so and other bloggers decided to withdraw theirs also.

c) The Dick Eastman seminar on 12 May hosted by SDGS/CGSSD was successful - see Steve Danko's summary of the meeting here.

d) has offered a 7-day free trial. They have also dropped their subscription prices to $7.95 per month and $59.95 per year.

I will update this if more breaking news crashes through this week.

Research Group on Wednesday, May 23

The next CVGS Research Group meeting will be on Wednesday, May 23, at 10 AM in the Chula Vista Civic Center Library conference room, hosted by Randy Seaver. We will try again to connect to and use the library's wireless system.

The meeting will have the following segments:

1) Genealogy news for May - and there is a lot of it!

2) Research problems that the attendees want discussed. The group will analyze the problems and suggest further research opportunities.

3) Research successes that the attendees want to tell about - what they found, how they found it, suggestions, etc.

4) Questions about areas of traditional or online research. The group will share what they know about the issue.

If you have a research problem, or a research success, please come and share them with the group.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Next CVGS Program is Monday, May 21

The next regular meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society is Monday, May 21 at 10 AM in the Library auditorium. Note that this is the third Monday - the last Monday is May 28 - Memorial Day - and the library is closed for the holiday.

Please enter through the Library Conference Room to sign in, gather the handouts, purchase a raffle ticket, have a snack and a drink. Pick up your new CVGS nametag from Dearl if you haven't already received it.

After our normal society business meeting, the program will be about "Naming Customs" presented by Bernice Heiter, a member of CVGS. The summary of the program is:

"The presentation will consist of naming patterns followed by most families during the 17th and 18th Centuries, customs which many of us in genealogy find baffling and frustrating today. Tips will be given on ways to overcome this dilemma. Naming customs in various cultures will be discussed, including some family names, or surnames, such as the French-Canadian "dit" names, some name endings used in certain nationalities, and finding the correct family name in Spanish and Portuguese family names."

Please join us for this meeting. Visitors and guests are always welcome to all of our meetings.

Using Google Books

At the CVGS Computer Group meeting today, we investigated using Google Books. Google Books contains millions of digitized books - some are "full view," some are "limited view," and some are "snippet view." The "full view" has the entire book, while the "limited view" has only some pages from the book. The "snippet view" shows you just a few sentences. Books that have copyright protection, and that the copyright holders have not permitted full access to, have "snippet view" only. Some published books are not available. More information about the different view capabilities of Google Book Search is available at

How do you get to Google Books and use it? Follow these directions:

1) Go to the Google web site at

2) Click on the "More >>" link above the search box. This opens a small box - click on the Books" link.

3) The Book Search box appears. You can input up to 10 words to describe a book. Use quotes around phrases that you want to search. For instance, I wanted to find a History book on Jefferson County, New York I would use [history "jefferson county" "new york" ] in the search box.

4) Using the Jefferson County NY search entry, I got a list of 900 mentions of these terms in books. The first entry is the book "A History of Jefferson County in the State of New York, from the Earliest Period to the Present Time" by Franklin Benjamin Hough, published in 1854. This book is out of copyright, and a "Full View" is available for me to read, print or download.

5) When I select this book, I get Page 9 on my screen. There are zoom in, zoom out, and two page buttons at the top of the page image. I could move to another page by clicking on the left or right arrows just above the book page image. I can put my cursor in the book page field and type in another page number and it will go to that page (if it exists).

5) Note that there is a "Download" button on the far right of the screen - this book is 22.1 mb in PDF format. I could download it, save it to my hard drive, and read it at my leisure.

6) There are links on the right margin for "About this book," "Contents," "Buy this book" and "Find this book in a library."

7) There is also a search box below "Search in this book" - you could input a surname or town name in this search box and get pages with those search terms. In the Jefferson county book, I input the surname "Bell" and a list of pages where that term appears is provided in a list on the right margin - with links to the page.

8) Perhaps the most useful feature in this Google Book search is the "Find this book in a library" link on the right hand margin just above the "Search in this book" box. Click on this link.

9) A page, obtained from WorldCat (the World Catalog of Library holdings) opens with a list of libraries where this book is available to be reviewed in paper format. You can input your own city or a distant city in the "Enter Location Information" box at the top of the list.

10) The list of libraries provides the library name, the distance from your home city, and some entries have a link (Book) to the library catalog so that you can get the call number. For the Jefferson County book, the libraries at SDSU, UCSD and Carlsbad have this book.

Google Books are not the only source of online digitized books, but it certainly has the best user interface and the link to the WorldCat makes it extremely helpful and useful.

Isn't this cool?

Using Google Maps

At the CVGS Computer Group meeting today, we discussed and demonstrated using Google Maps to see streets, highways, mountains and other terrain. The zoom in/out capability and panning the image were also demonstrated.

Most of the attendees looked for their current house, ancestral family home, or a cemetery. In addition to the streets, you can select "Satellite" and see a satellite image of the area, or choose "Hybrid" to see the satellite image with the streets overlaid on them.

I often find myself going far afield when I use these maps - several weeks I spent an hour or so "flying over" the entire coast of New England looking for geographical features associated with my ancestors homes. I wish that Google added a topographical feature also so you could see the relative altitude of surface features.

How do you access and use Google Maps? Follow these directions:

1) Put in your browser address line.

2) On the Google page, select the link for "Maps" above the search box - that leads you to

3) Insert a street address with a city or town, and the state, or just a town or city with a state, in the Search Box. I put in "Leominster MA" in a recent search. I also put "290 Central Ave Leominster MA" for a house address. Then press the "Search Maps" button.

4) A street map, with a fairly large geographical area, appears. You can zoom in or zoom out by clicking on the + and - boxes in the upper left hand corner. You can also move the image right, left, up or down by clicking on the arrows in the upper left hand corner. The "ladder" in the upper left hand corner defines how much zoom power you are using. If the indicator is at the top of the zoom ladder, you can't zoom in any further.

5) You can also pan the image by putting your cursor on the map, holding down the left-hand mouse button and moving the mouse right, left, up or down.

6) If you want to see a Satellite image of the map, click on the "Satellite" button in the upper right hand corner of the image. If you want to see the streets superimposed on the satellite image, click on the "Hybrid" button in the upper right hand corner.

7) Just above the map image, there are links to allow you to Print, Email or Link to the map you have on the screen. Click on them and follow the directions.

8) Just below the Google search box are links for "Find Businesses" and "Get Directions" - you can input a term like "cemeteries" in the "Find Business" box and see a list of the businesses on the left hand side of the page and the map displays the locations of the businesses. If you click on "Get Directions" you can enter a destination in the Google search box and the map will show you the route with driving directions on the left hand side.

Google Maps is a terrific tool for finding ancestral locations - the towns, ancestral homes, cemeteries, genealogy societies, etc. Using the zoom feature with the "Hybrid" feature you can see what the terrain around your target looks like, down to individual houses if you zoom in far enough.

Monday, May 7, 2007

CVGS Surname List

One of the projects that the Chula Vista Genealogical Society is working on is a members' Surname List.

We have Ahnentafels (a list of ancestors numbered like on a pedigree chart) from about 15 members, and are going through the Society's collection of 5 generation pedigree charts to add more to the surname list.

The Surname List is posted on the CVGS web site at

The surname list itself is surname first, then given name, then birth and death years, if known. By clicking on the surname in the list, the reader goes to the Ahnentafel submitted by the member. If desired, the reader can contact the society to be hooked up with the member who submitted the Ahnentafel.

The Ahnentafel lists are given name first, followed by surname for each person in the Ahnentafel. The reason we did it this way - with the full names, dates and places of the ancestors - is so that the Search Engines, like Google, will pick it up. Most people search for people using first name then last name, and often search for the names of married couples. Our system works pretty well - we get queries occasionally from researchers with a common ancestor to our members.

If you are a CVGS member and want to submit your Ahnentafel, please contact Randy or Shirley and we will help you submit it for editing.

Specific Topic Online Research Lists

I really appreciate lists of resources on specific topics. Sites like Joe Beine's Death Indexes (, Birth and Marriage Records ( and Military Indexes ( are wonderful aids to genealogy researchers.

Other researchers and bloggers have made resource lists - I've been reading Valorie Zimmerman's genealogy blog for some time at . On her current page she has lists for:

1) Newspapers at

2) Ontario at

3) Timelines at

4) Creating Simple Websites at

5) Continuing Education for Genealogists at

6) Genealogy Blogs and Podcasts at

7) Maps at

8) Epidemics at

9) Ireland at

10) Old Photographs at

You get the idea - you can check Valorie's blog index at

My hope is that this blog can have lists of specific topic online resources so that the CVGS members can quickly find what they need to find online.