Idea for Genealogy Society Project in 2015: Documenting Local Cemeteries

Are you looking to revitalize your genealogical society in 2015?

photo of the Common Burying Ground and Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island

Photo: Common Burying Ground and Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island. Source: Wikipedia.

Looking for a project that will make a landmark contribution to family history with strong appeal to the members of your society?

Pay it forward and document a local cemetery in your area—and put that information online. Make it a team effort to record and document every person in one of your local cemeteries.

Genealogical societies have long documented local cemeteries, often publishing their results in journals, card file indexes and published books. Now it’s time to put this information online with the 21st century tools that are so widely available.

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Consider the local cemeteries in your area. Make a plan: select one cemetery and work together to put the images of each tombstone and genealogical information for that cemetery online.

Points to consider:

  • How many persons are buried in the cemetery you select? Make sure that it is a reasonable number so that your society can complete the project, building enthusiasm to tackle the next cemetery in town.
  • Make sure that the information carved on each stone can be easily read. Take sharp, clear, close-up photos of each tombstone. Some stones have inscriptions on more than one side, so be sure to include images of all sides.
  • Where should you put these grave images online?
  • You want to put them online with no copyright restrictions. Put the images in the public domain so that they can be copied and freely used by all interested relatives and family historians.

Some of the popular online cemetery sites copyright the images added by volunteers, and do not permit these same images to be posted or used by genealogists on other websites or to be published in family history books.

When you post an image online, be sure to state in the image description that the tombstone images your genealogy society generates are fully in the public domain and available for any individuals to use.

I suggest that you post each image to multiple sites like: FamilySearch; Facebook; Flickr; Pinterest; Find-a-Grave; BillionGraves, etc. By putting each individual tombstone image on multiple sites you can ensure that the image will remain freely available and permanently online in the public domain.

Why these free sites? By putting the images and information on multiple, free sites like these, you ensure that the genealogical information is:

  • Easy to find
  • Widely indexed on the search engines
  • Easy for interested relatives to add to that person’s story—posting more information, photographs and documents
  • “Mainstreamed” so that your society’s efforts are permanently preserved and findable

Make this one of your society’s goals for 2015.

Let us know what your society’s other goals are in 2015.

Related Articles:

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Garland County (AR) Public Library Closing Genealogy Room

The Washington Times recently reported that the Garland County (Arkansas) Public Library has decided to focus on providing the public with online genealogy record collections, and to transfer the majority of their print book and hardcopy genealogical materials to two institutions: the Garland County Historical Society and the local genealogical society—the Melting Pot Genealogical Society.

photo of the bookshelves in the reading room of the Melting Pot Genealogical Society

Source: Melting Pot Genealogical Society

Why did the library staff decide to do that?

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According to the Washington Times report, John Wells, the Library Director of the Garland County Public Library, said:

We’ve noticed a dramatic decrease in the use of that [Genealogy & Local History] room. You’d walk by, and no one was in there. A lot of what was used in genealogical research is now available online. They’re not using that stuff here when they can sit at home and do it all day long.

article about the Garland County (AR) Public Library closing its Genealogy Room, Washington Times newspaper article 31 August 2014

Source: Washington Times (Washington, D.C.) 31 August 2014

So with that in mind the three libraries put their heads together and decided to consolidate the physical genealogy library materials where they would be getting more use.

Is this a new trend?

Anyone know of this happening in other public libraries?

Related Library Articles:

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Remembering ‘Roots’ Author Alexander Murray Palmer Haley

Alex Haley (1921-1992) was a famous African American author who had more impact on genealogy than any other person in the past 50 years. He was born 11 August 1921. Haley would be almost 92 years old if he were alive today.

After the release of his book Roots: The Saga of an American Family (New York City, New York: Doubleday) 37 years ago—on 17 August 1976—and the launch of the eight-part television mini-series on ABC-TV in January 1977, the genealogy world was forever changed.

He was 55 years old when Roots was published.

Alex Haley Roots Book Cover

Image credit: Wikipedia.org

From that point on the number of genealogical societies in the U.S. skyrocketed from 400 societies to over 4,000. Public libraries and state archives across the country were flooded with family history researchers using their book and microfilm collections.

Some major milestones to keep in mind: the first laptop wasn’t invented until 1981 (Osborne); Google was launched in 1995; and GenealogyBank was born 19 October 2006.

One man can make a big difference.

Recently Alex Haley’s nephew Christopher Haley participated in a DNA study and was surprised to learn about his Scottish roots. Hosted by Megan Smolenyak, this episode of Roots Television shows the family reunion of the Haley and Baff families:

How Is Your Local Genealogical Society Doing?

photo of a presentation made during the 2013 RootsTech genealogical conference

Credit: RootsTech

The Reading Eagle (Reading, Pennsylvania) ran an interesting article about the dropping membership of the Berks County Genealogical Society.

According to the article this local genealogical society is feeling the impact of dropping memberships at the same time interest in genealogy is soaring. Instead of joining local genealogical societies, new genealogists seem to be going directly to the Internet to ask questions, learn the basics of genealogical research and search for their ancestors.

The national genealogical conferences like the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society annual conferences have seen a drop-off in attendance since 11 September 2001. Meanwhile the annual RootsTech conferences have seen a surge in attendance during the three years this family history conference has been held.

At the same time, online weekly webinars like the Legacy Family Tree Webinars have 1,000 people attending, and podcasts like the Genealogy Guys Podcast are seeing each episode downloaded over 4,000 times. That is way more than the number of genealogists attending the annual meeting of a large city or state genealogical society…and they are pulling that many of us every week.

How is your local genealogical society doing?

Is it growing?

Is there excitement?

Is it fresh?

Is there a buzz?

When I attended my first genealogical society meetings 50 years ago in the early 1960s—the meetings of the Stamford Genealogical Society (now called the Connecticut Ancestry Society)—the focus was on outreach and training. Their chief projects were having the genealogical society members submit their family tree charts (which were put in binders and cross indexed), and producing the quarterly journal. They were good, effective meetings. We all looked forward to them. It was like an extended family.

The genealogy world changed in 1976 with the publication of Alex Haley’s Roots and the launch of the companion television series in 1977. Genealogy has not been the same since. We went from 200 genealogical societies in the United States to over 4,000 societies.

FamilySearch Indexing has well over 100,000 indexers, all volunteers, who are creating over 1 million indexed genealogy records every day.

How is your local genealogical society doing?

What is your society doing to keep itself fresh and exciting?

Share your ideas and best practices.

Post them here today in the comments.

Jans Family Uses Genealogy to Pursue 300-Year Land Claim

The family of Anneke Jans has been pursuing a genealogy project for over 300 years.

During all this time the family has been working hard to track down every single one of Jans’s descendants.

They are doing this not so much from a love for family history—but rather, to sort out the heirs to a contested land grant that was given to Jans by Britain’s Queen Anne in 1697!

collage of newspaper clippings about the 300-year land claim pursued by descendants of Anneke Jans

Collage of newspaper clippings about the 300-year land claim pursued by descendants of Anneke Jans

These three newspaper clippings from GenealogyBank’s historical newspaper archives help tell this unusual genealogy story.

The historical newspaper article on the right outlines the disputed property. It was published in the Cabinet (New York City, New York), 14 August 1833, page 3.

In 1888 the family intensified their efforts by organizing an unusually-named genealogical society, the “Anneke Jans Bogardus Literary Association,” which gathered all of the genealogical records of the family to help them properly document the descendents of the family.

The old newspaper article on the left reports on this incorporated genealogical association. It was published in the Evening Repository (Canton, Ohio), 20 June 1888, page 6.

Almost one hundred years later a descendant, William Brower Bogardus, placed a notice in a Texas newspaper announcing that he “has extensive collections” of records on the descendants of Anneka Jans Bogardus. That notice was published in the Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 20 October 1983, page 50-A.

Hmm…I wonder if William has all the records of the “Anneke Jans Bogardus Literary Association” since it started in 1888?

Genealogy Search Tip: Searching by Topic in GenealogyBank’s Database

Being a genealogy site, most people use GenealogyBank by searching on the name of an ancestor. But there are other ways to search for genealogical information in GenealogyBank’s online database.

Did you realize that you can search using any topic or search terms? It is not necessary to always enter an ancestor’s name for every search you do. GenealogyBank makes it easy to research a specific historical event, place or war battle.

Let’s say you know, from an old family letter, that your ancestor fought during the Civil War’s Battle of Vicksburg, and you want to read all you can about the battle to learn something of your ancestor’s actions and understand a little better what he must have experienced.

GenealogyBank lets you do that—by simply searching on the historical Civil War battle without including your ancestor’s name.

Here’s how to search by topic in GenealogyBank’s database.

First, use the “Include keywords with search” box that appears on the search form on GenealogyBank’s homepage, and leave the other boxes blank. Remember: you do not have to search by personal name; you may search on any word that appeared in a newspaper, document or map.

Enter the search term Battle of Vicksburg into the box field and click on the green “Begin Search” button. As you can see on the Search Results Page, GenealogyBank has more than 20,000 documents in our database about the Civil War Battle of Vicksburg, including 17,245 newspaper articles!

Perhaps you want to start your genealogy research by reading contemporary newspaper reports of the famous Civil War battle. Click on the historical newspapers link to access the newspapers’ search form.

Then perform a search on the term Battle of Vicksburg and limit the year to 1863 by putting 1863 in the Date box.

This search query returns 2,983 news articles from our newspaper archive database about the Battle of Vicksburg, all written in 1863, including reporters’ first-hand accounts of the action, official military reports, maps, and other documents about that important Civil War battle.

Plenty of good newspaper readings to help you better understand what your ancestor went through, and thereby flesh out that name on your family tree!

Best Source for Finding Old Marriage Records!

GenealogyBank is your best source for finding old marriage records.

Newspapers regularly published marriage announcements – like this one from the Weekly Pelican (New Orleans, LA) 26 Oct 1889.

Whether you’re looking for a wedding announcement published in 1802, 1862 or 1962 – GenealogyBank is your most comprehensive source.

TIP: Focus your search by the type of article.
In this example in the Historical Newspapers section – limit your search to only the marriage notices. Click on the highlighted topic and only the wedding and marriage announcement articles will appear in your search – saving you time.

Find and document your ancestors in GenealogyBank – the best source for old newspapers & documents on the planet.

Period!

Archivist of the US to speak at FGS Conference

Breaking News:

The Federation of Genealogical Societies has announced that Archivist of the US David Ferriero, will be speaking at the annual FGS Conference – on Wednesday August 18th in Knoxville, TN.

He will be the luncheon speaker at the Focus on Societies Luncheon. His topic will be The Citizen-Archivist. He will also speak about the War of 1812 Digitization Project and have a question and answer period.

That same day he will also give remarks at the Librarian’s Day conference.

The FGS Annual Conference takes place in Knoxville, Tennessee from August 18-21, 2010. “Rediscovering America’s First Frontier” is the conference theme and it is co-hosted by the East Tennessee Historical Society and the Kentucky Historical Society.

Click here for more information on the annual FGS Conference.

Genealogists who make a difference: Doris Cozart

Genealogists who make a difference


Doris Cozart, of Chillicothe, Texas has spent the past 40 years in genealogy – as a publisher, author and researcher. Active in multiple genealogical societies she is quick to help others find the information they are looking for.

Times Record News (Wichita Falls, TX – 21 June 2009).

She has now taken helping other genealogists to the next level.
She has opened a library and is making her extensive collection available to the public.

Hat’s off to Doris Cozart – a genealogist who is making a difference!


1870 Census now online

FamilySerachLabs has now gone live with the 1870 Federal Census.

That site now has the 1850; 1860; 1870; 1880 and 1900 census indexed and available online. These indexes are free.

These are All New Indexes and Images.
I was using the various online census indexes to search for some of my relatives. There was a dark blotch on the page and it was difficult to make out the name. So, I went to the 1900 Census Index at FamilySerachLabs and was very surprised to see that the same image on this page was crystal clear – no blotch. Why – I asked? Answer – FamilySerachLabs made the extra effort to create all new digital images of the census pages.

The 1870 census is available in two formats:
Indexed and Searchable – search every name in the census for these States:

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Dakota Territory, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah.

Browsable – lets you look at the digital images of each page in the census for All States except Kentucky, Vermont and Virginia.

FamilySearchLabs will be putting the rest of these census images & indexes online shortly.