Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A new Civil War research database

Thanks to Dick Eastman for introducing me to the Sons of Union Veterans' online grave database. The database contains the burial information, including full name and Civil War unit, for both Union and Confederate veterans. You can read his extensive write up here. I just did a quick search of my own, using a common Connecticut surname - 121 matches, all from Connecticut. This looks like a great research option!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sheila Connolly's Scandal in Skibberdeen

Although it's not mentioned often, I know the mystery lovers among us are thrilled every time we succeed in locating a "genealogical" mystery. There are a few well known ones, such as the Torie O'Shea series. A few lesser known works also weave in genealogical themes. Yet, every time I stumbled across one of Sheila Connolly's books, they always seem to fit the bill.
 Her latest, Scandal in Skibbereen, centers on a search for a missing painting. And of course, the former professional genealogist weaves her training.  To find the missing masterpiece, a New York museum curator and an American born pub owner end up delving deep into a family's history - with a few unexpected results.
   I don't want to spoil a read with any more details, but I highly recommend the novel!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Starting your child off in genealogy?

  If you're interested in starting your child off in genealogy, a great place to start is the Daughters of the American Revolution American History essay contest. Designed for grades five to eight, it asks students to write a short essay about a topic in history.
  Here's this year's:

The year 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of Ellis Island as an immigration station. On a typical day, immigrants arriving on the island could expect to spend up to seven hours in processing activities intended to determine whether or not they were legally and medically fit to enter the United States. Imagine yourself as a child traveling through Ellis Island in 1892. How would you describe your experience to your cousin who has never heard of Ellis Island? 

Imagine the possibilities. You could offer your child a chance to learn about the site through history books - or you could introduce them to an ancestor who visited the site...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Follow Friday: Connecticut Genealogy Research Group

FamilySearch has just announced that their local research pages are changing form. Instead of being focused on one state, they will now focus on an entire region. Visit the Connecticut page (https://www.facebook.com/ConnecticutGenealogy) for more information.

 Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Honestly, I'm not sure. The theory behind the original page - a space for people to share information about localized resources - was a strong one. It's not likely to be replicated on a regional page. Visitors won't have the same level of knowledge or interest in material from another state. At the same time, the local page has never had much traffic. There is a chance this move might work.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Tip: Finding an obituary in the Middletown Press

 I often see online requests for someone to help with an obituary in older versions of the Middletown Press or the Penny Press, its precursor.  The request is actually more complicated than most people think. Except for recent years, the Press has not been digitized. It is only available on microfilm.

  For most researchers, that would make the Connecticut State Library their first stop. The CSL microfilmed many local newspapers as part of a preservation project in the 1990s. While the CSL is a good resource, it would not provide you with a complete picture. The CSL only has records from 1919.
  In this case, Russell Library has the most complete collection available. Microfilms cover most of the paper's run. And, if you do not have an exact date, they have an index to the papers from the early 1900s. Contact them at www.russelllibrary.org. Librarians will do their best to help with your research.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What are your favorite ways to teach kids about their history?

I love teaching - and as a result, end up loving any project that might engage kids and adults in genealogy. I've looking for great kids' genealogy books and finally stumbled across one I love. The Family Tree Detective by Ann Douglas does a great job of highlighting the types of records that can be used to trace family stories. I loved the explanation of what you can learn from old report cards. What are your favorite books?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Those Places Thursday: House Histories in Middletown

 House histories are becoming increasingly popular in genealogy. Instead of tracing a history of a family, you instead trace the history of a home. When was it built? Who lived there? Did it have any special stories? It's a neat way to give depth to your home's stories.
   If that home is in Middletown, your work just got that much easier. The Middletown Room at Russell Library holds the notes for the architectural survey of Middletown conducted by the historic preservation trust in the early 1970s. The trust didn't survey every home in town - they chose representative examples - but for those they did, they made very good notes. You may find information about the home's original style, the amount of land, who built, and much more.
   I've also used the collection to figure out where a family was living when... and why. In one case, the family built a new home, next door to their old one, when their fortunes improved. The detail was something I would never have found on my own. Just think of it as a variation on title searching!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Talented Tuesday: Another hidden collection

 The Middletown Room of the Russell Library (Middletown, CT) is full of fabulous collections you've never heard of...
  This time I'm showcasing a collection that might be of use if your ancestor was ever mayor of Middletown. Each administration kept a scrapbook of important news clippings about events during their term. Instead of being kept in City Hall, they're actually part of the Middletown Room collection. It's a nice way to avoid skimming generations of newspapers. Happy hunting!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Those Places Thursday: Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University has set up a resource page for family history researches. They will help with researching students and faculty of Wesleyan, but admit their resources on the rest of town are limited. Check out the page here.

How do you use Google+?

   I am reevaluating my use of social media. Like many genealogists, I jumped on the Google+ bandwagon. But little by little, I've stopped using it. Why? Because most of us end up simply recopying feeds from our blogs. The rare times I use it, I end up doing exactly the same thing...
  I wonder: is there a more effective way to employ Google+? I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Family Tree Magazine

  Yes, I am way behind on this one! I officially got access to Family Tree Magazine for the first time today.  I have to say that I am impressed. The publication provides a solid background in genealogy. Despite the fact that I do a lot of reading in genealogical topics, I found that the issue I was reading covered records I'd never considered. Who would have thought about poor house records? Many of the other articles felt very timely. I'm in the midst of reorganizing my office space... and guess what one of the cover articles was?