Genealogy Boot Camp – Quick Tips

Genealogy Boot Camp

Here are a few tips that every genealogist should know.

Using an online index

Researchers using an online index sometimes try to tell the computer everything they know about their deceased ancestor.

Assuming that the computer will sort through all of the facts and narrow down the hits to just their ancestor – they will type in the person’s full name, complete dates of birth/death, nicknames and any other facts that might be helpful.

Sometimes – less is more.

What you want to do is try multiple approaches as you interrogate the index.

1. Search on the full name: first name, middle name, surname.
Give it a try and see if it promptly gives you the results you want. This is particularly effective if the parts of the name are distinctive, uncommon words.

2. Not finding your guy? Then – try again. This time search on only the surname. Or – if the first name is distinctive – search on just the first name. 3. Notice that once you have made your initial search you may narrow down your search to only the obituaries, marriage notices or birth announcements.

Click on Obituaries and the computer will bring you only the 55 obituaries – instead of all 2,651 article results for “Starbird”.

This is a handy tool for speeding up your search.

4. Be careful not to narrow your search too much.

It is common for new researchers to only search the “local” newspaper published in the town where their ancestor once lived. That is a common mistake.

Newspapers routinely published information about people living far from the town where the newspaper was published.

For example – Chloe Starbird – wife of John Starbird died in Portland, Maine – but her obituary appeared in the Boston Semi-Weekly Advertiser (16 March 1822) – published in another state. Newspapers routinely published articles about people who lived in other counties; or other states. Their mandate was to fill the newspaper with news every day and to expand their circulation base. So – editors routinely added birth, marriage and death notices for individuals – providing their readers with the news they needed.

Notice that in this same example from the Boston Semi-Weekly Advertiser (16 March 1822) – that there are obituaries for individuals from Portland, Maine; Dublin, New Hampshire; Sturbridge; Shrewsbury; Bolton; New Braintree; Barre, Vermont; Zanesville, Ohio and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Think big – search all of GenealogyBank – then narrow your search by region, state or town.

Genealogy Boot Camp: Getting Started

OK Team – it’s time to get down to basics and make sure we haven’t missed clues and information that would help us to accurately document our family tree.

Welcome to Genealogy Boot Camp: Core training

Day 1. Home Sources
OK recruits – you will need the basic equipment.

First – get that old laundry basket and let’s put it to good use.
Put this laundry basket where you will see it every day – but where it will be safe. Perhaps a room you don’t use everyday – like the dining room – that should be a good place – or perhaps on the bed in the spare bedroom.

Now, here is your first assignment:
Begin gathering the family history information that you have in your own home.

“But – I don’t have any information about my family!”

OK recruit: put your laundry basket in a visible, safe place and let’s see what we can find in your house.

Step One: Go from room to room in your home looking for items that have clues about your family. As you see something of value – take it and put it in the laundry basket. You should expect to spend one week on this task – do NOT try to do it all at once.

- Photo albums
- Family mementos
- School yearbooks
- Family Bible
- The envelope with family clippings
- Grammie’s recipe book
- The old wooden spoon
- Dad’s World War I medal
- The box with the old family letters and photos
- Baby books
- Old family cups, plates
- History of Gilmanton, NH – Why do we have that?

“I have an old cedar chest with some old clothes & a comforter made by my great-grandmother – I don’t want to move them.

If some of your family treasures are too large or fragile to move – write down a quick description on a 3×5 card and put that in the laundry basket.

Tips

Why should this take one week?

You’re busy. Don’t burn yourself out. During this week as you go around the house in your normal daily routine – be thinking about clues. What do I have in my home that would tell me more about the family? Pick it up and put it in the laundry basket. By the end of the week you’ll have plenty of clues.

Back in the early 1960s I drove over to White Plains, NY to visit my cousins: Genevieve and Burt Shaw (Genevieve M. (Smith) Shaw 1871-1967) – Burton C. Shaw 1866-).

When I arrived Burt was off getting a haircut – Cousin Gen said that he would be right back. We spoke about the family and got caught up on current events.

But, still – no Burt.

As I asked about the family history – Cousin Gen was so apologetic that she didn’t know more about the family history. But as we waited I asked her about the things in the living room. There were framed pictures and photos on most of the shelves and tables. Who were they? She was a steady stream of detail about the family.

And what about the old piano; the old rocking chair; the painting in the corner. Everything had a story and a family connection.

I had written down pages of notes – all the while she repeated that she could no longer remember the details of the family history.

Cousin Burt never did come home that day – but she was a goldmine of information.

So - Step One – Gather Your Home Sources. Once you have them – in hand start to write down the facts and clues and document your family history.

More newspapers go live on GenealogyBank – 26 States

GenealogyBank adds more newspapers from 26 states.

If you haven’t searched GenealogyBank in awhile – it is time to sign-up and discover your ancestors. Do it now!

We have more than doubled in size in one year!!

We make it easy – you can even search all of GenealogyBank for free. Do it now.

AL. Huntsville. Huntsville Gazette*. 1881-06-18 to 1894-12-29
CA. San Francisco. Elevator*. 1872-11-16 to 1898-06-11
CT. Mystic. Mystic Journal. 1859-03-12 to 1862-12-27
CT. New Canaan. New Canaan News-Review. 2009-11-05 to Current
CT. New London. New London Gazette and General Advertiser. 1825-01-05 to 1826-12-27
CT. Middletown. American Sentinel. 1826-04-05 to 1833-03-06
CT. Middletown. Middlesex Gazette. 1829-01-07 to 1834-01-23
DC. Washington. Colored American*. 1898-03-12 to 1904-02-27
DC. Washington. Daily National Intelligencer. 1850-10-16 to 1852-12-31
DC. Washington. Grit*. 1883-12-21 to 1884-10-18
DC. Washington. Washington Bee. 1893-01-07 to 1910-06-25
IA. Fort Madison. Daily Democrat, The. 2009-12-19 to Current
IL. Quincy. Quincy Whig. 1868-05-03 to 1876-12-30
IN. Indianapolis. Freeman. 1895-09-21 to 1911-02-11
KS. Fort Scott. Fair Play*. 1898-04-22 to 1899-06-16
KS. Hutchinson. Blade*. 1919-12-20 to 1922-04-01
KS. Kansas City. Advocate. 1916-01-07 to 1921-12-30
KS. Lawrence. Western Recorder*. 1883-03-17 to 1884-11-06
KS. Topeka. Capital Plaindealer*. 1936-09-20 to 1938-08-06
KS. Topeka. Kansas Whip*. 1934-12-21 to 1955-09-30
KS. Wichita. Wichita Post-Observer*. 1953-01-23 to 1953-12-25
KY. Frankfort. Palladium. 1802-07-01 to 1803-12-24
LA. New Orleans. Times-Picayune. 1950-04-05 to 1961-05-15
MA. Boston. Boston Daily Advertiser. 1860-01-03 to 1889-12-31
MA. Boston. Boston Journal. 1884-07-01 to 1884-12-31
MA. Cape Cod. Cape Cod Chronicle, The. 2009-10-02 to Current
MA. Gloucester. Gloucester Telegraph. 1842-01-01 to 1842-12-31
MA. Springfield. Hampden Federalist. 1821-01-03 to 1823-03-05
MD. Baltimore. American and Commercial Daily Advertiser. 1801-01-31 to 1809-4-24
MD. Baltimore. Maryland Journal. 1785-06-28 to 1794-11-28
MI. Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo Gazette. 1915-08-03 to 1921-02-23
MI. Shelby, Utica. Shelby-Utica News. 2009-10-07 to Current
MN. St. Paul. Appeal*. 1908-09-05 to 1923-11-24
NC. Albemarle. Stanly News and Press, The. 2009-10-10 to Current
NC. Newbern. Newbern Sentinel. 1826-01-07 to 1828-06-12
NC. Yadkinville. Yadkin Ripple, The. 2009-10-02 to Current
NJ. Trenton. New Jersey State Gazette. 1796-10-18 to 1799-02-19
NY. Brighton, Pittsford. Brighton-Pittsford Post. 2009-10-04 to Current
NY. Goshen. Orange County Gazette. 1806-05-20 to 1814-09-20
NY. New York. Irish World. 1893-09-02 to 1905-04-08
NY. New York. New York Herald. 1869-05-21 to 1869-07-21
NY. New York. New York Herald. 1895-07-14 to 1895-08-08
NY. New York. New York Herald-Tribune. 1856-07-01 to 1877-06-15
NY. New York. Spectator. 1823-11-18 to 1824-10-26
NY. Poughkeepsie. Dutchess Observer. 1820-11-01 to 1821-12-26
NY. Dover. New-Hampshire Republican. 1825-01-03 to 1825-09-27
OH. Chillicothe. Scioto Gazette. 1801-08-02 to 1814-04-28
OH. Cleveland. Plain Dealer. 1967-12-01 to 1970-09-10
OH. Logan. Logan Daily News, The. 2010-01-10 to Current
OH. Marrietta. Ohio Gazette. 1806-04-24 to 1811-12-09
OH. Sandusky. Sandusky Register. 1849-10-02 to 1850-02-15
OH. St. Clairsville. Ohio Federalist. 1816-08-15 to 1816-12-05
OR. Ontario. Argus Observer. 2009-10-02 to Current
OR. Portland. Oregonian. 1948-12-20 to 1962-12-15
PA. Philadelphia. Democratic Press. 1808-03-28 to 1818-06-30
PA. Williamsburg. Virginia Gazette. 1766-03-16 to 1774-12-29
PA. Williamsburg. Virginia Gazette. 1775-02-03 to 1776-07-26
RI. Warren. Herald of the United States. 1796-01-02 to 1812-12-12
SC. Charleston. City Gazette. 1825-05-02 to 1825-08-31
TN. Nashville. Nashville Gazette. 1819-05-26 to 1827-02-14
TN. Sevierville. Mountain Press, The. 2009-10-02 to Current
TX. Big Spring. Big Spring Herald. 2009-10-02 to Current
TX. Brownwood. Brownwood Bulletin. 2009-12-03 to Current
TX. Dallas. Dallas Morning News. 1979-02-01 to 1979-05-31
UT. Salt Lake City. Broad Ax*. 1895-08-31 to 1897-01-30
VA. Amherst. Amherst New Era Progress. 2009-10-02 to Current
VA. Amherst. Nelson County Times. 2009-10-02 to Current
WA. Seattle. Seattle Daily Times. 1953-01-01 to 1969-09-30

Books of the Week – Donald Lines Jacobus

Millions of books are going online.
Entire libraries – that never close; a
vailable 24/7.

It is now possible for genealogists to read, download and keep genealogies, local histories – publications of all types and sizes. Instantly accessible online and easily stored on your personal laptop or handheld computer.

Donald Lines Jacobus (1887-1970) – well known as the Dean of American Genealogists was writing since he was a young boy. The New Haven Register 18 May 1900 carried a remarkable, lengthy article about his discussion of Biblical and Classical genealogy – written at the age of 12. Click here to read the entire article. It is published online in GenealogyBank.

Jacobus was a prolific writer and his books are going online.

You can read some of his earliest publications – The Lines Family – about his mother’s family that was published in 1905


and The Wilmot family of New Haven, Conn., published in 1904 by the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

You may even read his book of Poems published in 1914 by the Harty-Musch Press, Inc. in New Haven, Connecticut.

Milestones in the Wilderness (1914)

Take full advantage of what the Internet has to offer. You will find thousands of published genealogies & local histories online at:


Internet Archive
Google Books
Family History Archive

and GenealogyBank is your best source for online newspapers – over 4,200 newspapers and 260,000+ digital books and documents online.

It is a great day for genealogy!

Newspapers from 10 States added to GenealogyBank

GenealogyBank announced today that it has added more newspapers from 10 States: Connecticut; Iowa; Michigan; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Oregon; Tennessee; Texas and Virginia.

Argus Observer (Ontario, OR)
Obituaries: 10/02/2009 – Current


Big Spring Herald (Big Spring, TX)
Obituaries: 10/02/2009 – Current

New Canaan News-Review (New Canaan, CT)
Obituaries: 11/05/2009 – Current

Daily Democrat, The (Fort Madison, IA)
Obituaries: 12/19/2009 – Current

Shelby-Utica News (Shelby, Utica, MI)
Obituaries: 10/07/2009 – Current

Stanly News and Press, The (Albemarle, NC)
Obituaries: 10/10/2009 – Current

Yadkin Ripple, The (Yadkinville, NC)
Obituaries: 10/02/2009 – Current

Brighton-Pittsford Post (Brighton, Pittsford, NY)
Obituaries: 10/04/2009 – Current

Logan Daily News, The (Logan, OH)
Obituaries: 01/15/2010 – Current

Mountain Press, The (Sevierville, TN)
Obituaries: 10/02/2009 – Current

Brownwood Bulletin (Brownwood, TX)
Obituaries: 12/03/2009 – Current

Amherst New Era Progress (Amherst, VA)
Obituaries: 10/02/2009 – Current

Nelson County Times (Amherst, VA)
Obituaries: 10/02/2009 – Current


It’s a great day for genealogy!

Sign up now and see what you’ll find about your family!

GenealogyBank – Where Everybody Knows Your Name

I had a basic question yesterday that reminded me of one of the core values of GenealogyBank – it’s flexible search engine.

A woman wrote asking for the obituary notice of her father – who had died in December 2008 – but she had not included her father’s name. So I wrote back asking her for that detail.

While I waited for her response I thought - you know, GenealogyBank’s search engine can find his obituary even without knowing his name.

Here’s how I did it.

Step One.

I first entered what I knew – the name of his daughter and the month/year that he died. I left all of the other search fields blank. I reasoned that the obituary would likely include the name of his children and close relatives – in this case, the name of his daughter.

Step Two

There was only one hit that met that search criteria.

Step Three
Bingo – it was the correct obituary.

Tip: Be flexible in your searches.

GenealogyBank indexes over 4,200 newspapers published over the last 300+ years. You may search by the name of the deceased or by other persons named in the obituary or news article. Search on every clue.

GenealogyBank adding more newspapers

GenealogyBank announces that it is adding 10 more newspapers from 9 states.
These newspapers will be added by the end of this month.

We will also be expanding the coverage of 15 newspapers that are already represented in GenealogyBank.

It’s a great day for genealogy!

And …. the month is still not over…. we have even more newspapers that we will be announcing in the days ahead.

Sign up now and see what you’ll find about your family!

AK. Anchorage
Anchorage Gazette. 1992-12-01 to 1993-01-01

2 issues; 54 pages

CT. New Haven
Black Coalition Weekly. 1972-03-06 to 1972-09-14
13 issues; 139 pages

IL. Chicago
Second Ward News. 1935-12-14 to 1938-04-02
12 issues; 66 pages

IL. Chicago
Spokesman. 1933-01-07 to 1933-03-18
10 issues; 86 pages

KS. Kansas City
Plaindealer. 1932-05-20 to 1958-11-07
709 issues; 5,761 pages

MA. Springfield
Springfield Republican. 1923-12-30 to 1946-09-26
16,861 issues; 293,612 pages

MI. Grand Rapids
Afro-American Gazette. 1991-01-01 to 1995-08-07
117 issues. 2,785 pages

NY. Albany
Sojourner-Herald. 1995-04-01 to 1998-11-01
27 issues; 463 pages

OR. Portland
Oregonian. 1923-01-01 to 1948-12-19
8,543 issues; 277,615 pages

PA. Allentown
First World News. 1993-11-01 to 1995-04-01
2 issues; 116 pages


GenealogyBank is adding more back issues to these 15 newspapers:

CA. Los Angeles
Los Angeles Tribune. 1959-01-02 to 1959-05-15
53 issues; 1,430 pages


CT. Middletown
Constitution. 1856-01-01 to 1856-12-03
34 issues; 134 pages

IN. Terre Haute
Wabash Courier. 1837-05-25 to 1850-08-24
173 issues; 697 pages

KS. Topeka
Plaindealer. 1899-01-06 to 1912-06-28
368 issues; 2,153 pages

KS. Wichita
Negro Star. 1920-05-07 to 1950-12-29
1,210 issues; 5,116 pages

LA. New Orleans
Times-Picayune. 1893-06-25
1 issue; 24 pages

MA. Boston
Boston Journal. 1893-05-02 to 1893-08-31
99 issues; 876 pages

MI. Kalamazoo
Kalamazoo Gazette. 1872-03-26 to 1916-07-25
2,716 issues; 13,429 pages

NJ. Trenton
Trenton Evening Times. 1972-12-30 to 1993-03-15
13,724 issues; 614,338 pages

NY. New York
New York Herald. 1879-05-31 to 1896-04-26
681 issues; 12,364 pages

NY. New York
New York Herald-Tribune. 1856-01-01 to 1876-12-30
2,357 issues; 20,881 pages

OR. Portland
Oregonian. 1868-12-29 to 1907-05-25
1,069 issues; 10,533 pages

PA. Philadelphia
Aurora General Advertiser. 1800-01-01 to 1800-11-11
13 issues; 53 pages

TX. Dallas
Dallas Morning News. 1978-09-17 to 1978-12-28
26 issues; 1,703 pages

WI. Milwaukee
Milwaukee Star. 1968-03-02 to 1974-10-03
189 issues; 4,444 pages

Portland, Maine newspapers 1786-1898

Baltimore newspapers 1775-1922