365 Ways to Discover Your Roots: November 2006

365 Ways to Discover Your Roots: November 2006

Make 2006 a breakthrough year for your family tree quest with our tip-a-day research calendar.


1. Roman Catholics celebrate All Saints Day today. Many Catholic parents named children for saints—for first-name information, see Behind the Name <www.behindthename.com/sources.html>.

2. Today in 1889, Congress admitted North and South Dakota (originally part of the Dakota Territory) to the Union. Changing state borders affect where records are, so learn your ancestral states’ histories from Wikipedia <www.wikipedia.org>.

3. Maybe someone in Looking 4 Kin’s <www.looking4kin.com> friendly genealogy chat rooms can help you solve a brick-wall problem.

4. Look beyond standard family tree software to add-ons that locate defunct towns and create pretty charts. Try Progeny Software and The Gold Bug <www.goldbug.com>.

5. Design a family newsletter. Get how-tos at <www.microsoft.com/athome/ intouch/newsletter.mspx>.

6. Chase down those family stories about an American Indian great-great-grandmother. See the April 2004 Family Tree Magazine and <archives.gov/genealogy/ heritage/ native-american>.

7. After casting your vote today, search out your ancestors’ voting records. Contact the county election commission to ask where old records are — probably in a public library.

8. Write up and mail out your family newsletter today.

9. Google offers more than just its well-known search engine: Try Google Earth to explore an ancestral neighborhood, or Picasa to organize the pictures on your PC. Get both these Windows freeware programs from <www.google.com/downloads>.

10. Search the Archival Research Catalog <archives.gov/research/arc> to see NARA’s photograph, map and record holdings. If you want only matches linked to digital images, be sure to click the box.

11. This Veteran’s Day, add your WWII ancestor to the National WWII Memorial Registry <www.wwiimemorial.com>.

12. Learn all about your forebears’ neighbors. With the Historical Census Browser <fisher.lib.virginia.edu/collections/stats/histcensus>, you can see demographic information-sex, age, religion, slavery, education-of counties from 1790 to 1960.

13. Get a reference book to tell you when counties formed, which courthouses have which records and more. Ask friends to recommend their favorites-we like The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists edited by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack and Erin Nevius (Family Tree Books).

14. Photocopy the most helpful family history article you’ve read recently and share it with a genealogy buddy. Ask her to do the same for you.

15. Hunt down a Thanksgiving dish from yesteryear at HeritageRecipes.com <www.heritagerecipes.com/Recipes.htm>. Plan to serve it at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

16. Create a genealogical wish list of software, books and subscriptions you’ve been coveting. Leave it in plain sight of anyone who might give you a holiday gift.

17. Ellis Island closed this month in 1954, after welcoming more than 17 million immigrants to New York. Look up 1892-to-1924 arrivals at <www.ellisisland.org>.

18. Don’t let ancestral nicknames-such as Beth, Bess, Betty, Liz or Lizbet for Elizabeth-trip you up. Broaden your online searches to include nicknames or just a first initial.

19. Hate making small talk? Discussion starters such as the conversation cards at <www.goaskanyone.com> can break the ice and help you learn more about your family at this Thanksgiving’s gathering

20. Generate maps of your ancestors’ hometowns-and get directions for your upcoming holiday road trip—at MapQuest <www.mapquest.com> or Google Maps <maps.google.com>.

21. If you’re surfing overseas Internet sites, try Google’s language tools <www.google.com/language_tools>. You can search for Web pages from a specific country (use the pull-down menu) and translate the text of a foreign-language site (plug in the URL and pick the languages you need).

22. Plan to take your genealogy on holiday day travels: Pack your PDA (make sure to sync your files first), an issue or two of Family Tree Magazine, some society journals and your research binder.

23. Enjoy Thanksgiving Day with your living relatives.

24. Starting holiday shopping today? You’re a brave soul. Put these genealogically beneficial gifts on your list: digital voice recorders, scrapbooks, picture frames, magnifying glasses, software and computer gadgets.

25. Call a genealogical library in one of the places your progenitors lived. Ask what long-distance research services the library offers (checking indexes? obituary lookups?) and how much they cost.

26. Pull out a few mystery photographs and examine the clothing with a magnifying glass. Compare them to photos in Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans & Fashion, 1840-1900 by Joan Severa (Kent State University Press).

27. Publishing your family history doesn’t have to be complicated. Do a Google search for print-on-demand publishers.

28. Visit the Site of the Week featured on our home page-then nominate your favorite site.

29. Focus on lesser-known immigration resources on the Internet, such as the Galveston Immigration Database <www. tsm-elissa.org/immigration-main.htm> and the Famine Irish Passenger Record Data File <aad.archives.gov/aad> (select Irish from the Subject pull-down menu).

30. Time to back up your data. Tidy your paper files while you wait.

From the February 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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