Thursday, May 27, 2010

City Directories - have you revisited this record group?

At our usual Tuesday night live chat in Second Life this week, we discussed the use of historical city directories as a resource ripe with info for genealogists. City directories began to be kept for major US cities in the early 1800s, long before the use of telephones. If you want to determine if your ancestors continued to live in a specific place between federal and state census enumerations, city directories provide a ready reference.

Quite by accident, Ol' Myrt here ran across this particularly telling page from the Des Moines, IA 1897 City Directory Page 543 posted online at (Click image to view a larger version of the image.) While not every directory is as forthcoming, researchers can expect to find residents in alphabetical order, including addresses and occupations. However, then following entries are even more forthcoming:

  • Stone A D Mrs, died Feb 5, 1897.
  • Stone Thomas A, moved to Panora, Ia.
  • Stoner Almira P (Wid Abraham), res 933 Walker.
  • Stookey David J. grocer 1500 e Grand ave. res 1448 Capitol av.
Note in the last example, "res" is the abbreviation for residence and that the grocer's business address is listed in addition to his residence. Other abbreviations include:
  • bkpr = bookkeeper
  • carp = carpenter
  • lab = laborer
  • plstr = plasterer
  • rms = rooms
  • wks = works


Hopefully, you are convinced of the value of city directories, so now it is a matter of locating them. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
  • originals in local public library, where your ancestor lived
  • originals in regional or state archives, where your ancestor lived
  • microfilm or microfiche copies at the Family History Library, available through local Family History Centers (over 4,700 directory titles, with multiple years are part of the collection)
  • FamilySearch Wiki (specify city directory to obtain info about directories beyond US borders)
  • digital versions online at (specify city directory, also includes non-US directories); DistantCousins (also helpful info about research); GenealogyToday (some listings require membership, some reference other websites), to name a few.
  • Google Search (specify city directory)

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

APG Award: nominee deadline 1 June

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was received yesterday from the APG Association of Professional Genealogists. Please address all remarks to

APG will be awarding its fourth "Professional Achievement Award" at the Professional Management Conference, Knoxville, Tennessee, Tuesday, August 17, 2010. Past recipients are Elizabeth Shown Mills in 2007; Sandra Luebking in 2008; and Lou Szucs in 2009.

Nominations for this award can be made by individual APG members, by APG chapters, and by the APG Board of Directors. The Awards Committee will select the award recipient from the nominations. Selection is approved by the Executive Committee. Nominees not selected in a given year may be nominated again in another year.

A member in good standing in APG for at least one year prior to the nomination is eligible.

The criteria for this award is to have a record of exceptional professional achievement with contributions to the field of genealogy through individual excellence and ethical behavior in one or more of the following categories: published research, teaching, public presentations, innovative organizational leadership, writing or editing for professional publications, or successful business achievement by creating valuable products or services; and commitment to advance and promote the highest standards of the field.

Send your nominations to the APG office ( by June 1, 2010. Include a summary of how the person you are nominating has contributed to APG and/or the field of genealogy.

Kathleen W. Hinckley, CG
Executive Director
Association of Professional Genealogists
PO Box 350998
Westminster, CO 80035-0998
(303) 465-6980
FAX: (303) 456-8825

NARA: Civil War in 3-D on 10 June

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was received late yesterday from our friends at the National Archives (US). Please also note the NARA is now using Facebook and Twitter. Amazing!

National Archives Presents "The Civil War in 3-D" on June 10 Special program to highlight stereoscopic images of the War. 3-D glasses included!

Washington, DC. . . On Thursday, June 10, at 7 PM, the National Archives presents "The Civil War in 3-D," a special program inspired by the new major exhibit Discovering the Civil War. This program is free and open to the public and will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building. Use the Special Events entrance on the corner of 7th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.

Presented in partnership with the Center for Civil War Photography, this illustrated lecture will feature 170 stereoscopic images taken during the Civil War. Bob Zeller, president of the Center for Civil War Photography, and John J. Richter, director of imaging for the center, will present "Lincoln in 3-D." Audience members will be given 3-D glasses to enable them to step into the tableaux of many of the most famous photographs of President Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.

Stereoscopic images in the fully digitized show include portraits of Lincoln, photographs of both of his inaugurations, his visits to Antietam and Gettysburg, his summer home, the White House, the city of Washington, the hanging of the assassination conspirators, and more.

Discovering the Civil War Part One, Beginnings, is on display in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, through September 6, 2010. The exhibit peels back 150 years of accumulated analysis, interpretation, and opinion to reveal a Civil War that is little-known and even more rarely displayed. The exhibition offers visitors the chance to join researchers in unlocking secrets, solving mysteries, and uncovering unexpected events in the Civil War records of the National Archives. Museum Spring/Summer hours (through Labor Day) are 10 AM to 7 PM, daily. The exhibition is presented by the Center for the National Archives Experience and the Foundation for the National Archives.

For information on National Archives Public Programs, call (202) 357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events online at:

To request an accommodation (e.g., sign language interpreter) for a public program, please email or call (202) 357-5000 at least two weeks prior to the event.

# # #

For more information about Discovering the Civil War or to obtain images of items included in the exhibition, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at (202) 357-5300.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

READER'S FEEDBACK: Code of Conduct

From: HowlandDavisII


I read with interest your column about a Genea-Bloggers' Code of Conduct as well as the linked column by Thomas MacEntee.

As a result, I have a question for you. I am not a genea-blogger but I do gather information from various genealogy columns, chapter newsletters, etc., to email an Electronic Report to members of our chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. Some of the columnists, such as Dick Eastman, have a very clear statement that is to follow any column or information that is copied. I have contacted others asking whether I can reprint columns or parts of columns. However, I occasionally see a column of interest and there is no information about contacting the writer for permission, etc. I use Dick Eastman as an example, saying that the information was copied from a column of [columnist X] and that his columns are found at

Do you feel that what I have done is adequate or should I not quote the column at all if I cannot contact the writer?


Ol’ Myrt here cannot think of an occasion where it would be appropriate to quote someone without providing a link to the original location of the material. This permits your readers to view the quoted text in context. Fortunately, Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace 2nd Edition provides examples.

Contacting the writer will ensure you are not putting your society's publication in jeopardy by using material without authorization.

... and that you are giving credit where credit is due.

Happy family tree climbing!

Myrt :)


Your friend in genealogy.

Footnote: open access to newspaper collection

Historical newspapers continue to be an essential record group for family history research, not only for mention of a specific ancestor, but for developing an understanding of the social and cultural influences of the time.

Our friend just posted an email to Ol' Myrt here which reads:
I wanted to let you know that for the month of May all the historical newspapers on will be open to the public. A free registration is needed to view the images.

To access the newspaper collections visit

On Footnote you will find newspapers ranging from small towns to major cities and dating back to the 1700’s. Whether a historian or a genealogists, historical newspapers are one of the best resources that provide a unique window into the past.
So check out this special free access at Footnote.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

FamilyInsight: New file formats

For those of you curious about using Family Insight to bridge to newFamilySearch, you'll be interested to note the following from the 1 May 2010 Family Insight newsletter:

FamilyInsight: Adding New File Formats

We are also currently beta testing a version that will work with Family Tree Maker 2010 file and Ancestral Quest file formats. We are in development of versions that will work directly with RootsMagic and Legacy files. You will be able to use FamilyInsights Compare and Sync to compare your PAF file to your cousins RootsMagic file. You will be able to trim and save a file for your aunt that works with her program even if you use a different program.

What does this mean? Do I need to stop using PAF? This means that you can use the program that works best for your needs and still have access to FamilyInsight. If PAF is your favorite program then by all means keep using PAF 5. If you like one of the other programs then you can choose the program that is best for you. We are often asked which program is best. There is no one database manager that is the best for everyone. We do not recommend one program over another. In the future we will be offering other programs on our website, but it will still be up to you to make the choice of which program you want for your personal use. They all have their own strengths and the easiest to use for one person may not be the easiest for someone else.

We are actively searching for Mac programs to work directly with their files. Family Tree Maker has announced that they will be releasing a Mac Version and we will work with that program when it is released. We are also pursuing other Mac options to work with.

Now that Get My Ancestors is in the Tools menu of FamilyInsight, you will be able to save your Get My Ancestors file in any of the formats that FamilyInsight saves to. This is only applicable to the version that is in the tools menu of FamilyInsight. The Get My Ancestors stand alone program will only save to a PAF file.

We look forward to adding more formats in the future to FamilyInsight.

It is also good to review the webinars hosted by Ohana, located at:

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

FGS: War of 1812 Pension digitization

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: My husband serves on the FGS Board, so I've been hearing a lot about this project. Consider having your local genealogy society identify 1812 pensioners buried in your area, and donate perhaps $20 per soldier to this worthwhile preservation initiative. For further information, contact

The Federation of Genealogical Societies Launches National Fundraiser, Preserve the Pensions! , to Digitize the War of 1812 Pension Files

SALT LAKE CITY — With the approaching bicentennial of the War of 1812, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, a non-profit genealogical organization headquartered in Austin, Texas, is pleased to announce a national fundraising initiative to raise $3.7 million to digitize of the War of 1812 pension files. The digitization process will enable online access by historians and family researchers to the memories and biographies of those who fought to protect our nation’s independence. This announcement is being made at the start of the National Genealogical Society’s 2010 conference, an event that will draw more than two thousand genealogists to Salt Lake City, Utah.

The War of 1812, often referred to as America’s second war for independence, significantly shaped this country’s identity both internationally and domestically. Many remember the War of 1812 as the war that give us the “Star-Spangled Banner” and the burning of the White House. Some of the great leaders of our country, including three presidents, took part in this conflict. Nearly 300,000 men served, including members of at least eighteen Native American tribes.

The pension records for the War of 1812 consist of more than 7.2 million documents in 180,000 files. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) receives more than three thousand requests per year for War of 1812 pensions, placing them among the most requested sets of records. Digitizing these valuable records will preserve the originals by removing them from continued heavy use. It will also make the images of the records much more widely available. NARA reports these important historical records already have been conserved and readied for digitization, so scanning could start as soon as funds are received. With the cost for digitizing and saving a single page from a pension file being fifty cents, supporters will see progress from the earliest days of the fundraising initiative.

Genealogists, historians, and scholars of military history have long appreciated the value of pension files. A typical pension file may contain documents that describe a veteran’s service as well as why he, his widow, or his dependents qualify for a pension. In the cases of widows’ and dependents’ filings, there are typically a number of documents proving the claimant is related to the veteran. The testimony of a veteran’s comrades can provide unique and valuable data on what military life entailed, the rigors of everyday camp life, and details of particular skirmishes and battles. One may discover numerous details of an ancestor’s life in these pension files, some of which may be many dozens of pages long.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies is committed to projects that link the genealogical community and advance the cause of preserving records and making them more accessible. The Federation will be working with the genealogical and historical societies nation-wide, particularly in states where War of 1812 activities took place, as well as the many War of 1812 societies and bicentennial commissions, to raise awareness about this vital preservation and access project and to raise the funds necessary to complete the project.

Those interested in contributing to the Preserve the Pensions! Project or wanting additional information should contact the Federation of Genealogical Societies via their website at, or contact Curt Witcher at 260-421-1226 or