Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tech Tuesday: It's not always all there...

  As a Connecticut genealogist, I often hear the comment "everything I need is at the State Library. Why should I go to the town?" In theory, the genealogist is right. Town records were filmed by the Family History Library in the 1940s and 1950s. Going to the State Library can provide a quick shortcut to researching in multiple towns.
   However, as I discovered recently, the Family History Library didn't film everything. I needed to look at Middletown's 18th century land records. The films were easily accessible, but almost impossible to search. Different films covered the same years, and the index was no where to be found. Instead of throwing in the towel, I ended up in the deed vault at City Hall.
  The trip was well worth it. The town's copies of the records were organized by year and the index was easily accessible. Were the microfilms off a different copy? Had the town records been rebound? I have no idea. But if I'd stuck with the microfilm, I never would have found my records. In the town, I found them in minutes.
  Which provided a good lesson. Although some may argue microfilm or digital copies to be "original" sources, they are only as good as the person filming and the copy being filmed. It is easy to leave out records. It's worth double checking when you can't find something.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Follow Friday: Godfrey Library Blog

  I often see questions come up on genealogy listservs about the Godfrey Scholar and the genealogy resources they offer. What's the best way to find out? Turns out they have a blog. Check out their new updates at http://godfreygenealogy.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Those places Thursday: Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut

   Researching Polish genealogy in Connecticut can be a major challenge. Most immigrants arrived in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and while they "made" the census, they may have left few other records of their lives. Most were Catholic industrial workers. In cities, you'll have better luck. Catholic churches were established by about 1910, so church records become an option. City directories and newspapers may provide more details. Small towns are much more of a challenge. Most of these options simply don't exist.
   If you or your family is from the New Britain area, you may have another option for research: the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut. While the society's records are strongest for Poland, they do provide surname connections to other researchers. It's worth a try.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Did you know Connecticut had a precursor to Lewis and Clark?

    At least according to Bill McDonald. Peter Pond was a native of Milford and a western trader. He was one of the early explorers, although he was never recognized for his achievements. It's an interesting story, and one I knew nothing about. Read more about Pond on McDonald's site here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Those Places Thursday: Tracing Your English Ancestors

  Sometime the "oldies" are the best sources. I was recently asked about British genealogy, which I know almost nothing about. I followed my usual procedure of reviewing any genealogy book I could find in my local library. This is how I discovered Colin D. Rogers's Tracing Your English Ancestors: A Manual for Anaylsing and Solving Genealogical Problems, 1538 to the Present. It's an "oldie" (dating from 1989)but delves thoroughly into the available sources, possible problems with these sources, and how to overcome them. You can easily skip the outdated sections - and many resources are now available online. I would highly recommend the read!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Francois Weil Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America

   I finally managed to finish Francois Weil's Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America. I've heard many critiques of the books, as well as many positive reviews. I'd been waiting to read it myself for quite a while.
  Everything said and done, the book was an interesting read. Although it is not presented as such, the book functions as a history of genealogy in white, English America. Family Trees is strongest in its initial analysis. The book convincingly places the average 18th and 19th century genealogy effort within America's efforts to define itself: was the country to be white, European, aristocratic? It falls apart in the later sections. Weil suddenly jumps from European genealogy to the study of Roots. He also adds in a discussion of the professionalism of genealogy - a touchy subject in modern genealogical discussion. Begin the book as a colonial history, rather than a true history of genealogy, and you will enjoy it much more.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tech Tuesday: Ancestry Family Trees

  I've heard all the debate about Ancestry.com trees: they make it too easy to copy bad information, people will add whatever they want, etc. Only rarely do I hear the good comment - that they offer great hints.
  I've been doing some research in a new region lately and had hit a brick wall. I always check Ancestry just in case. I figure that it never hurts... Well, surprise, surprise, a public tree referenced a publication on a family that sounds like it will be a huge help. Since I don't research in this region, I never would have checked that journal. What fantastic luck!
  The longer I research, the more open I become to open-ended searches. I've found graves in other countries than expected - and this time, a set of vital records that wasn't supposed to exist.