Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Resolutions: Genealogy

1. Organize my file piles! (I need to sort how-to articles, ancestor information, and genealogy club stuff.)

2. Enter data! (Some of the information I located in Salt Lake City in October is still sitting in the tote bag I was using.)

3. Set a weekly date to check FamilySearch for new records. (They post new data often, and new info is starred and color coordinated.)

4. Design migration maps for those ancestors who moved often. (Use census information and narrow searches to a specific state and/or county.)

5. Make a timeline for a brick wall ancestor. (A time line will point out missing information and focus your search.)

6. Consider FANS: friends, associates and neighbors. (Many times these folks turn out to be relatives.)

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Workshop report

At the workshop last night we watched a video that gave us ideas for more successful searches when using Ancestry. There are options available to narrow searches for first names, surnames, and places. These options appear not only in the library editions of Ancestry, but also in the subscription version. There is a detailed explanation of each option.

Several of the videos we've used for workshops have come from the family search website at  You can watch them yourself by clicking "Learn" next to the logo on the home page. On the following page choose "Research Courses" and then select whatever subject interests you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tuesday Workshop

Our final workshop of 2012 is scheduled for December 18. We're featuring a 30-minute tutorial that will provide tips for getting better results while using the search fields on There are many ways to narrow your search so that the result you need doesn't appear as item number 300!

Following the tutorial we'll have time for discussion, searching the internet and/or giving each other help or advice.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Library Items

We have added two new books to the club library. 101 Brick Wall Busters is self-explanatory; the format is "problem/solution" and covers a wide variety of topics. It is a Family Tree Magazine publication.

The second book, Digital Imaging Essentials, was written by Geoffrey Rasmussen, the host for the Legacy webinar series. Its subtitle, Techniques and Tips for Genealogists and Family Historians, indicates it should be perfect for our library.

New this year: Rick Wood has ordered copies of several of the Legacy webinars. He volunteered to have the CDs available to the club during the season. You can sign them out for a two-week period on the magazine/folder sheet.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Social Secretary

Marlene Salter has agreed to continue acting as social secretary for the genealogy club. She sends a card to any members needing sympathy or encouragement during the year. Please let her know of anyone in that situation with a phone call or email.  Site #1443 or email:

Tuesday's workshop

December 11, 2012   7 PM   San Tan room

There will be a video called "Plan Your Way to Success" that will give us more information on how to create a research plan--useful both for beginners and those facing a brick wall. We'll spend the rest of the evening in group activities. Bring computers to use the router if you'd like.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Online family trees

During Tuesday's workshop we discussed the perils of using family trees found online, including those with information we know to be incorrect. One opinion: "Why does it matter; as we should never accept anything found online as true without verifying all facts."

Family Tree Magazine (Feb. 2012 issue) has an article with a few ideas about this problem.

Suggestions from the article: Address the culprit as "dear cousin" rather than "dear moron." Suggest that "I'm pleased my online family tree was useful" rather than "I see that you've stolen my information." Offer evidence of necessary changes in facts rather than an unhelpful "only an idiot could believe Dan Nickel came from Germany."

Food for thought. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Arizona Family History Expo

If you are interested in two days of genealogy classes, there is still time to register for the Expo to be held in Mesa on January 18-19. Website is at where you can read all about it. Pre-registration fee is $79 for both days. $55 for Friday or Saturday only.

Several club members are attending and we will try to car pool or caravan for the event.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Brick Wall Ideas

Write down what you already know about a particular brick wall, reading over your information and notes. Also, enlist a friend to take a look at your information. A new pair of eyes may help.
Do a source check by identifying sources in which your brick wall ancestor would appear and create a to-do list of records you haven't consulted. (vital records, probate, land records, military records, county histories, etc.)
Create a time line of your brick wall ancestor's life. Include every life event you know of, as well as major historical events that may shed light on your ancestor's situation. (Is he the right age to have served in the Civil War?) This will help you see gaps in your research.
Study people associated with your ancestor, including siblings, cousins, neighbors, in-laws, coworkers, fellow migrants and immigrants, and witnesses on documents. This may help to locate a previous residence or the original birthplace.
Consider alternative scenarios. Toss our your assumptions—perhaps what you think you know isn't accurate. Formulate "what if?" questions to form new research theories you can investigate. And remember, spelling doesn't count!