Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Family Tree Problem Solver

The Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried-and-True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors by Marsha Hoffman Rising (Family Tree Books, Rev. 1st ed., 2011, Paperback, 255 pages). TFHC Call no. 929.1072 R494.

“This book is not intended for those who are just beginning their genealogical research…[it] is intended to give each reader new ideas for tackling those knotty problems that have been sitting on the backburner of the research schedule for months or even years.” (Introduction, p. 13).

Rising assumes that we are very familiar with the use of land records, probate records, pre-1850 census records, tax lists, etc. She relies heavily on using collateral lines and cluster research and teaches us how to use those records in that context. In addition to the wonderful ideas presented by Rising, the book includes a Forward and an appendix on how to Find Your Ancestors Online by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, an appendix on DNA Facts and Myths by Lauren Gamber, a Glossary of Genealogy Terms from the editors of Family Tree Magazine, and 18 pages of blank forms that the author uses in her research. Each chapter is loaded with examples and case studies from her own research to illustrate the techniques she is teaching.

I am not a beginning researcher, but I am not an advanced researcher either. I have to admit that I did not understand everything that Rising discussed. I did, however, understand enough to put some of her techniques into practice on breaking down some of my brick walls. And for those record types in which I am weak, she recommends several books to help us learn more about them. This is one of those books that I will want to go back to as I encounter new obstacles in my research—an excellent reference book for the experienced genealogist.

Table of Contents. Click image to enlarge.

Contributed by: Sherri Hessick

Monday, November 4, 2013

Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America

Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America by James Webb (Broadway Books, 2004, Hardrback, 369 pages) is a captivating book that surveys the history of the Scots-Irish. They are a fiercely independent group of Scots originating in the border region with England, who later moved to the Ulster Plantation in Ireland, and from there to America, the greater part arriving in the 1700s before the Revolutionary War.  The book begins as the Celtic tribes in Scotland effectively stop the advance of the Roman invaders, who eventually give up their conquest and construct Hadrian's Wall to seal off the territory they could not control.  Subsequent chapters in the first third cover highlights of Scottish military, civic, and religious history in struggles with England and later in the Ulster Plantation--revealing much more complexity than I had been aware of in the face-off among Scots-Irish, English, and native Irish, that eventually led to the great exodus of Scots-Irish to the new world. The latter two-thirds of the book covers the history and migration patterns of the Scots-Irish in America, beginning with their settlement in the rugged hill-country of the Appalachian Mountains, and following them as they were consistently among the first settlers to push the frontiers westward.  The author reveals how many cultural, religious, and civic traditions have their roots in Scots-Irish beliefs and traditions.

The author weaves his personal heritage and family stories with the greater history of the Scots-Irish, giving the book a deeply engaging and personal feel.  This is not your typical family history reference book, as important and useful as those are!  It is a fascinating story to be enjoyed by anyone interested in the undercurrents and hidden forces at work in the history of Britain and America.  

That said, however, in many ways it does serve as a useful reference tool.  In addition to better understanding my ancestral cultural and religious heritage, I found myself learning something in every chapter that gave clues to the potential migration patterns of my Scots-Irish ancestors.  I bought my own copy of the book and have marked relevant information and insights on most pages.  As a result, it no longer seems so puzzling that my Scots-Irish great-great grandfather, a prosperous farmer in Missouri, moved to the western border of Idaho two years before his death in 1922.

A reviewer on the back cover, Tom Wolfe, effectively captures the spirit and content of the book: "James Webb reveals the all-but-invisible ethnic group that has created the core beliefs of democracy American-style: our rights come from God, not the Government; all of us are born equal, and 'born aristocrats' don't exist; and tread on either of those two truths, and we'll fight you down to the last unbroken hyoid bone."

If you have Scots-Irish ancestry, take a look at this book to gain a better understanding of who they were and why they did what they did. Go to call number 973 F2wjs on our shelves and spend a few hours reviewing the content of this fascinating book.

Contributed by: Mary Lee Call

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Genealogical Researcher helps beginners to grow

This is one of the first books I looked at when I started at the Family History Center. The Genealogical Researcher: Neophyte to Graduate by William C. Kleese, PH. D. (Family History Land, 2003, Softcover, comb binding, 135 pages) is derived from seminars given by the author from 1988 through 2002. This book does just what its title promises to do – introduces the new genealogist in beginning research methodologies then expands into more advanced topics used by the experienced researcher.

As a beginner, I liked this book because it explains how to start and record your genealogy. Dr. Kleese provides many examples of different types of records and what information can be extracted from them. The chapter on U.S. Church Records contains diagrams illustrating the evolution of non-Catholic Christian churches beginning with the Church of England in 1534. Other chapters explain how to read a land map and definitions of some census abbreviations and much, much more.

The Genealogical Researcher provides the neophyte genealogists with the knowledge needed to conduct reliable and thorough research into their family history. The book is shelved under call number 929.1 k29x 2003.

Table of Contents. Click image to enlarge.

Contributed by: Scott Williams

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files

Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files abstracted by Virgil D. White (National Historical Publishing Company, 1990-1992, Hardcover, 5265 pages) is a set of 4 volumes which includes an index and lists every Revolutionary War Pension file in alphabetical order by the applicant's name. The pension file number is given and is preceded by S, R, or W (Service, Rejected, or Widow's) indicating the category of the pension file. Following the file number is a summary of genealogical information in the pension file. The State from which the man served, his birth location and date, where the applicant applied, where he served, and where the applicant lived since the Revolutionary War are generally in the file and listed in the abstract. Sometimes reference will be made to the names of the wife and children of the applicant. Occasionally, the wife’s maiden name is listed.
The actual pension records are available online but the  
original records are handwritten and sometimes not very legible or faded out. White’s Abstract is valuable because an expert genealogist has examined the files in light of what they reveal about the history of the patriot, his movements after the war, his health at the time of filing the pension applications and often names wives, widows and family members. Consulting White’s volumes can be a time-saving first step to narrow down the online search for more detailed records. It is also useful for determining at a glance where other patriots with the same surname were located and where they settled after the War.
An example of what information you can find in Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files (click on image to enlarge)
Look for these volumes under call number 973 M28g V. 1-4.

Contributed by: Jeri Martinez

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Census

The reference book Map Guide to the U. S. Federal Censuses, 1790 – 1920 by William Thorndale and William Dollarhide (Genealogical Pub. Co., 1987, Paperback, 420 pages) is a book I go to often. 

Most people find that locating and tracking their families back using census records is probably the easiest way to get started in tracing their families. Questions often arise when a researcher can’t find a family who had, according to family lore, lived for generations on the same land. Census records may indicate a possible move to a different county.

Several reference books list formation dates of counties and the “parent” counties, but viewing the changes as illustrated in this book makes it easier to understand realignment of county boundaries and changes of jurisdiction as the population changed and the area developed. County boundaries for the times of the various censuses (all decennial federal censuses available at the time of publication) are clearly overlaid on the present-day county map, so it is easy to see the actual shifts in boundaries, making known which county to go to for more information of a particular time period.  Additional information about the various census enumerations is also included.

You can find this invaluable reference book on our shelves under call number 973 X2th.

Contributed by: Eloise Dorman

Monday, April 8, 2013

Irish Records

One resource I can really recommend is Irish Records: Sources for Family & Local History by James G. Ryan (Ancestry Publications, 1988, Hardcover, 562 pages).  Our call number for this book is 941.5 D23r.

I was led to this book by staff at the National Library of Ireland when I was researching there. The first 50 pages (Introduction) give a description of types of records listed for each county. There is also a list of research sources and services available for all of Ireland.  This gives the name, address, phone number, and a brief description of what records they hold.  An example would be:
Registrar-General’s Office  8-11 Lombard St.   Dublin 2   Ph (01) 711000
“This office contains all of the official records of births, marriages and deaths for all counties since records began in 1864.  It also has Church of Ireland (Protestant or Episcopalian) marriage records from April 1845 to 1864.  A public research room is available where the indexes to these records can be consulted.”
Using the information above, you can write for a copy of a birth, marriage or death if it occurred after 1864.

You will also find a list of abbreviations used in the text.  Following this, in alphabetical order are chapters for the individual counties, each with a brief history, a list of Census and census substitutes, Church records (both Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic) in alpha order by parish; showing existing records, Commercial and social directories by year, Family histories if any, Gravestone inscriptions, Newspapers and finally Wills and administrations and Miscellaneous sources like libraries, research services and societies for that county.  The final page for each county is a map showing civil parishes and baronies.  There is a Table of contents and a comprehensive Index.

This book will define for you exactly which records are available for a specific place in a specific county.  An example of this is: "County Galway, Civil parish: Dunmore, Map Grid: 11, RC Parish: Dunmore, Diocese: TU, Earliest Record:  b. 3.1833  m.3.1833, Missing Dates: b 3.1864-12.1847,  10.1850- 9.1877,  m. 9.1860-1.1861, Parish Address:   Rev Canon Michael Walsh, PP, Dunmore, Co Galway."

Contributed by: Mary Miner