Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Research Trip on Saturday, 2 February

The next Chula Vista Genealogical Society Research Trip will be on Saturday, 2 February, to the San Diego Public Library in downtown San Diego. Note that this is a change from our earlier plan to visit the San Diego Family History Center in Mission Valley - they will be closed on Saturday in order to honor Gordon Hinckley, the late President of the LDS church who died recently.

The San Diego Public Library has a nice collection of surname books, locality books and periodicals. The major holdings unequaled in the County include a full set of the American Genealogical Biographical Index (AGBI), DAR lineage books, and the New England Historic Genealogical Register. In addition, there are San Diego City Directories, an index for the San Diego Union, and the complete San Diego Union (since 1868) on microfilm.

If you wish to carpool with the group, we will leave the Chula Vista parking garage (the one between F Street (near Marie Callender's) and 3rd Avenue (near Fuddruckers) on the second level about midway between the entrances at 9:30 a.m. If you wish to carpool, please contact Randy at for a seat.

We will plan a trip to the San Diego Family History Center for Saturday, 1 March, since the Escondido Family History Fair has been cancelled.

"Research in New York State" presentation summary

We had our Chula Vista Genealogical Society program meeting today at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library. This was our first meeting on our new day (last Wednesday) and new time (12 noon to 2 PM). The change (from the last Monday at 10 AM) was caused by the Library changing its open hours. We had 35 in attendance, which is fairly typical of our meetings.

Our speaker today was our own Shirley Becker, who presented "Research In New York State - not in New York City." She used a Powerpoint style presentation with many maps and photos, and reviewed the history timeline from 1609 to 1845, discussed the different administrative entities in New York (county, town, city, village, hamlet - different from all of other states), and covered the different types of resources available for New York State research. I now have a much better understanding of "how things happened" with respect to the Dutch, German, and English settlers, and the events leading to development and settlement of the western part of the State.

Shirley provided a 10 page handout, including a timeline, four pages of New York Internet resources, and five pages of a Bibliography list of books and periodicals by subject.Shirley covered quite a lot in her hour-long presentation, but this subject could easily take 8 to 10 hours or more. In her talk, she showed maps of the New York counties over the years, and made the point that records for a certain town may be in several different counties, especially in the early years of settlement.

The attendees now have a better understanding of the available resources and research techniques used for researching this "Black hole of genealogy research" (Shirley's description!).

Now I have pages of resources to go search through in my pursuit of my elusive New York ancestors.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Free 1900 US Census Index and Images

The Legacy News blog mentioned that the 1900 US Census is available (except for Hawaii and Alaska) at the FamilySearch Labs Record Search web site. Read his post "How good are the Family Search Indexing Indexes?" about his successful search on the site.

You have to be a registered user of this site (it is easy). Once you are signed on, you can search all of the indexed collections or select one of the collections from the list of databases.

I clicked on the 1900 United States Census and put a name in the search box - I used Leroy Thompson, born 1880 in Tennessee (because I can't find him in the 1900 census and wondered if Ancestry and HQO missed him).

The search results came back with 3,900 partial matches, all 3-stars or less (no 4 or 5 stars). It didn't find any Leroy Thompson born in 1880 in Tennessee. I clicked on one of the other 3-star Leroys near the top of the list, and the link took me to a summary page for that person.

I clicked on "View Original Image" and the census page image took a very long time to come up (like three minutes) - I'm wondering if this happens on every image, or just the first one?

There is an image zoom tool in the upper right hand corner, and a thumbnail image in the lower right hand corner that shows the visible portion of the whole page. You can move around on the image by dragging your mouse over the image.

You can navigate to the Next, Previous or any other numbered page in the enumeration district. You can navigate to the Previous or Next match on the list. I saved an image, and it saved as a JPG file (3720 x 3768, 1.240 mb). You can print the image, and you get the full page as a portrait print. Both the Save and Print operations took a long time (like 60 seconds) to work.

This is great news for online researchers. The 1900 US Census is online for FREE, but you'll have to be patient with the system until the bugs are worked out. It will be interesting to see how their servers will react when more people start using this database.

"New York State Research" presentation on Wednesday, 30 January

The next Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS) general meeting will be on Wednesday, 30 January at 12 noon in the Chula Vista Civic Center Library auditorium.

Our speaker will be Shirley Becker, on "New York State Research." Her focus will be on upstate New York research, not New York City.

Shirley calls New York "the black hole of genealogy" and has been working for 15 years on finding her elusive ancestors in New York state. She is very experienced in research methods involving traditional resources and Internet resources.

Shirley is a past President of CVGS and is currently Newsletter Editor and she leads the CVGS Computer Group each month in the Library computer lab.

Shirley hopes that her research problems and her discoveries will give insight and examples to others researching in New York state. Come, and let Shirley give you the benefit of her years of dealing with New York state genealogy.

This will be our first meeting at our new time (Wednesdays at 12 noon) and we may be late getting started. Please enter through the Conference Room in the easterly hallway to sign in, pick up handouts, buy a raffle ticket and have a snack before going into the auditorium. There will be a short society business meeting before our speaker is introduced.

CVGS welcomes guests and visitors. We hope that you will attend our meetings and join our active society.

An Online Research Strategy

I updated my Online Research strategy list of databases and web sites recently, and am working through it to search databases with the names of Russell, David, Lyman and George Smith in specific localities - Rhode Island (unknown County) and New York (Oneida and Jefferson Counties) - in the 1740-1840 time frame.

Here is my Online Research database list -

1) Search the LDS Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File (free) for member-contributed data.

2) Search the LDS International Genealogical Index (IGI) (free) for extracted or submitted data.

3) Search the Rootsweb WorldConnect user-contributed databases (free) for data on the given names in the specific counties in the 1750-1850 time frame.

4) Search the Ancestry user-contributed Family Tree databases ($$, free at some FHCs) - One World Tree and Public Member databases, but not Ancestry World Tree, since that is in the WorldConnect database.

5) Search the GenCircles user-contributed databases (free).

6) Search the We Relate user-contributed databases (free).

7) Search the My Heritage user-contributed databases (free).

8) Search the user contributed World Family Tree database ($$, many on CDs at libraries).

9) Search the Family Finder at (free) (enter name in search box) for user-contributed reports.

10) Search the Rootsweb Freepages at (free) for user-contributed reports.

11) Search the Rootsweb Web Sites at (free) for user-contributed reports.

12) Search the Ancestry Historical Records at ($$, free at some FHCs and libraries), especially census, vital military, land and court records.

13) Search the Ancestry Stories and Publications collection at ($$, free at some FHCs and libraries).

14) Search using the MyHeritage Search engine at (free, links to $$ sites).

15) Search the surname and locality book collection at HeritageQuestOnline (free at FHCs and some libraries, free at home with a participating library card).

16) Search Google Books at (free).

17) Search all Rootsweb databases at (free).

18) Search the USGenWeb archives at (free).

19) Search the USGenWeb State and county web sites at (free). Review the resources available there, especially the vital records, cemetery transcriptions, Bible records, etc.

20) Search the USGenNet user-contributed databases at (free).

21) Search the PERSI (PERiodical Source Index) on HeritageQuestOnline (free at FHCs and some libraries, free at home with participating library card).

22) Search the Rootsweb/Ancestry surname and locality message boards at (free). Post messages on these boards to try to draw responses from other researchers.

23) Search the GenForum surname and locality message boards at (free). Post messages on these boards to try to draw responses from other researchers.

24) Search the Rootsweb mailing list archives at (free). Subscribe to some of the mailing lists and post messages there.

25) Search the Google Web at (free) - especially on genealogy researcher web pages.

26) Search the University of Michigan "Making of America" database at (free).

27) Search the BYU "Family History Archive" book database at (free).

28) Search the New England Historic Genealogical Society databases ($$, free at some libraries) - especially the NEHGRegister archives, the Early American Newspapers, and the NY Will Abstracts 1787-1835.

29) Search the Footnote databases on ($$, free search, free at FHC and some libraries) especially the Revolutionary War Pension files and other military records.

30) Search the databases at ($$, free at FHC and some libraries) especially the historical newspapers, surname and locality books and Everton databases.

31) Search the databases at ($$, free at some libraries), especially the historical newspapers.

32) Submit a request to the DAR Patriot Index at and search the GRC National Index at (free).

33) Search the cemetery sites and (free)

34) Search the database indexes ($$, free search)

35) Search Olive Tree Genealogy at (free, links to $$).

36) Search free online data portals, such as,,, (free, links to $$ sites).

Note that this list does not cover the "traditional" resources found at repositories - libraries, genealogy societies, historical societies, museums, courthouses, and the like. That's another list!

I have updated this list in the past several months. If you have a suggestion for a user-contributed database or a useful web site with databases or information, especially for New York, please let me know in Comments or via email (

Monday, January 14, 2008

Carlsbad (CA) Library Databases

Most San Diego area genealogy researchers know that the Carlsbad (CA) Cole Library in Carlsbad is the best genealogy repository in the county. In addition to the book and periodical sections on the shelves, they have the excellent University of Michigan, Inc. Family and Local History microfiche collection.

This library also has excellent computer resources when you visit the library - the genealogy databases available include:

* Access NewspaperARCHIVE -- Contains millions of searchable newspaper pages, dating from 1977 to 1759. Access NewspaperARCHIVE includes historical newspapers from across the United States, as well as from Canada, the United Kingdom, and other countries.

* Ancestry Library Edition (Available in the Library Only) -- With over 1.2 billion records in over 3,000 databases, Ancestry Library Edition is the most comprehensive online source of information for genealogical and local history research. Included in Ancestry Library Edition are the digitized images of the U. S. Federal Census from 1790 to 1930, the American Genealogical and Biographical Index, passenger lists, and much more.

* Biography and Genealogy Master Index -- Biography and Genealogy Master Index is a great place to begin a search for information about people. It indexes current, readily available reference sources, as well as the most important retrospective works that cover individuals, both living and deceased, from every field of activity and from all areas of the world.

* Footnote (Available in the Library Only)-- Footnote combines original historical documents with social networking to create a truly unique experience involving the stories of our past. The Footnote collections feature documents relating to the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, U.S. Presidents, historical newspapers and naturalization documents.

* Heritage Quest Online - You will be asked to re-enter your library card number/barcode. Heritage Quest provides access to digital images of the U.S. Federal Census from 1790 through 1930, digital images of over 25,000 genealogies and local histories, digital images of revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications, and PERSI.

* New England Ancestors (Available in the Library Only) -- Search over 110 million names in over 2,200 databases from the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). NEHGS is the oldest genealogical society in the country and has created one of the most valuable websites for searching for your New England heritage.

You can access the three databases above that have links shown, but you have to have a Carlsbad Library Card to access them from home.

Since the last time I visited the genealogy database web page, they have added Footnote and the NewspaperARCHIVE databases.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

CVGS Research Group meeting - 1/9/08

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society Research Group had its first meeting at the new time (second Wednesday, 12 noon) at the Library today. We had 11 members in attendance.

Randy briefly reviewed the Genealogy News for December 2007. Then we went into research problems that people have. Randy had the only one presented - he received a manuscript about his ancestor Ranslow's Smith's house/inn in Burnett WI written for the Old World Wisconsin museum, which has the refurbished inn on its property. The manuscript gave the first clue to Ranslow's parents - Russell and Esther (--?--) Smith, which was obtained from newspaper obituaries for Ranslow's brothers, Lyman and George. It said that the three sons were born in Oneida County NY, and that Russell was born in RI and Esther in CT. Randy asked for help with resources in Oneida county NY. The group suggested researching in town and county history books, surname books, RevWar pension files, state censuses, deeds, wills, birth records, newspapers, town historians, historical or genealogy societies, museums, church records, etc.

Dave M. described his trip to see cousins in Georgia. One of them gave him part of a book on the Garrett family of VA/GA and pedigree charts. The cousin will send a FTM file with more family information.

Rita described her trip to New York City where she obtained birth and death certificates for her parents. She had written previously to the Vital Records office, with the appropriate identification information, and had been turned down previously. At the office, she was treated with respect.

Joan showed the denial letter from Social Security to her query asking for the death date of John Robinson Hall based on his SS number. She will write a letter to try to obtain a Work History from SSA.

Bob P. is trying to track a great-aunt from Wales who was emigrating to Australia with her brother. He got conflicting information from a cousin in Australia, who said she never left and was killed in a train crash in England. He will look for records at and the London Times for news of the train crash.

Shirley B. told a tale of woe - her computer crashed and she's been sick. She wanted help from the group about what subjects to cover in her New York State Research talk. The group gave her a list, including geographical divisions, government entities, records held at different levels, town historian functions, settlement patterns, canals and railroads, land records, etc.

This was a lively meeting with lots of comments. Several sets of papers were passed around to illustrate the results obtained.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Genealogy Days in Chula Vista for January 2008

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society events for January 2008 include:

** Wednesday, January 9, 12 noon, Chula Vista Civic Center Library -- CVGS Research Group meets in the Library Conference Room. We will review the genealogy news for August, share success stories and information, and discuss members research problems, and potential solutions, based on the collective knowledge and wisdom of the group.

** Wednesday, January 15, 12 noon, Chula Vista Civic Center Library -- CVGS Computer Group meets in the Library Computer Lab. We will visit some new genealogy web sites and/or Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) databases. This is an opportunity for those members who haven't used computers for genealogy research to practice with a mentor to guide them. It is also an opportunity for members who don't have an Ancestry subscription to dig into the ALE databases.

** Wednesday, January 30, 12 noon, Chula Vista Civic Center Library -- the monthly Society Meeting is held in the Auditorium. This meeting has a short business meeting with announcements of meetings and activities, followed by a presentation on a topic of genealogy and family history interest. At this meeting, Shirley Becker, the CVGS Newsletter Editor, will present "New York State Research." Shirley has a lot of New York ancestry and research experience.

** Saturday, February 2, 9:30 AM, Research Trip to the San Diego Family History Center. We will carpool from the Chula Vista parking garage, on the 2nd floor midway between the Fuddruckers (3rd Avenue) and Marie Callender (F Street) entrances by 9:30. The SD FHC now has access to the World Deluxe edition of,,, and several more databases on their computers.

On Monday afternoons (12 noon to 2 PM) - January 7, 14, 21 and 28 - that Dearl Glenn and probably John Finch will be at the table by the Family Research section of the Chula Vista Civic Center Library ready to help people with their research, discuss a problem or success, or just tell stories.

We welcome guests and visitors to our CVGS programs and events - if you are in the Chula Vista area and want to attend our events - please come and introduce yourselves. If you have questions, please email Randy at rjseaver(at) or phone 619-422-3397.

Genealogy Days in Chula Vista

Due to the modified hours of the Chula Vista Civic Center Library effective 7 January 2008 (on Monday and Wednesday, 12 noon to 8 PM), the Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS) program days and times have had to change.

The CVGS Board took a survey, and over 40 members participated. The Board chose Wednesday as Genealogy Day in Chula Vista. For the near future, CVGS meetings will be:

1) First Wednesday, 12 noon, CVGS Board meeting in Conference Room.

2) Second Wednesday, 12 noon, CVGS Research Group meeting in Conference Room.

3) Third Wednesday, 12 noon, CVGS Computer Group meeting in Computer Lab.

4) Last Wednesday, 12 noon, CVGS Society Meeting with program speaker, in Auditorium.

We will evaluate this schedule after several months.

In addition, CVGS will have volunteers in the Family Research area of the library on Mondays, 12 noon to 2 PM to assist library patrons and members with their research on a walk-in basis.

The Family History area has been revamped a bit by the Library staff - there are more places to sit and a research carrel that is somewhat private for consultations on research. The microfilm cabinets for the San Diego Union-Tribune, New York Times and Los Angeles Times have been moved to be closer to the microfilm reader and printer.

Pennsylvania Death Records Access

Like many researchers, I have run up against the extremely difficult process of obtaining Pennsylvania death records. They are available only to direct descendants and you have to prove the relationship. If you don't know the death year and death location, the process becomes quite expensive ($34 for a 10-year search).

The People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access (PaHR-Access) web site provides an excellent discussion about the present access problems and makes reasonable recommendations (essentially, open death records 50 years or older) to the state. There are sample letters for constituents to write to their state legislators and the governor. The PaHR-Access web site describes the organization:

"PaHR-Access (People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access) is strictly a grassroots organization started in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania in August of 2007. It was first known as People for Better Access to Pennsylvania Historical Records (PBAPHR). The name change took place in early November 2007 to allow for a more pronounceable acronym (i.e. par-access).

"We are merely people who want to literally have better access to Pennsylvania's historical records. Our main concern is the restricted state death certificates. There are no membership dues merely the willingness to help in this effort. PaHR-Access is not affiliated with any political, institutional or religious organization."

Some have argued that having a death index and access to death certificates will cause an increase in identity theft. The PaHR-Access folks refute that argument in the discussion, and say that:

"The Social Security Death Master File (with names, dates, places and numbers, and better known as the Social Security Death Index), which is updated quarterly, is an online identity verification database used to thwart identity theft and fraud. We understand government agencies, banks, insurance and credit card companies use it all the time to verify deaths and to stop the misuse of a deceased person's Social Security number. Expanding our proposed database to include all of Pennsylvania's death records (but with the same limited public access as outlined above) could be used in a similar manner by law enforcement and government agencies. The Division of Vital Records would itself be able to fill requests using the expanded database.

"Having a database of Pennsylvania's death certificates would actually be in accordance with Federal Law 108-458, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Social Security Administration and others, to award grants to States to assist them in computerizing their birth and death records, to develop the capability to match birth and death records within and among States, and to note the fact of death on birth certificates of deceased persons. This is done to stop a person from misusing the birth certificate of a deceased person."

If you are a Pennsylvania resident or researcher, please consider writing one or more letters to support this rational proposal to open Pennsylvania death records.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Worldwide Back at the San Diego FHC

Ancestry and the LDS Family History Library announced two weeks ago that they had agreed to provide the full suite of Ancestry databases at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and at 13 large Family History Centers around the country (including San Diego).

I went to the San Diego FHC on Saturday and tried it out. From all of my testing, it appears that Ancestry Family History Library Edition is the World Deluxe database collection. I was able to access the Canadian and United Kingdom records in addition to all of the USA records. I tried to access Australia, Germany and Italy but it gave me the "we're busy - check back soon" message.

So that is wonderful news. Having the Canada and UK records is a step up for those of us with a US-only subscription. My society colleagues and other San Diego area researchers will be thrilled to have it back after 9 months.

I asked one of the center managers about New FamilySearch and when it might be available to non-LDS members; he said by the end of the year. I also asked him why Ancestry and the FHL agreed to put Ancestry in the FHL and 13 FHCs - he said that it helps both organizations, and that the FamilySearch Indexing projects created both competition and cooperation. I don't know how plugged in he is to the FamilySearch folks, but it was an intriguing comment.