Salt Lake City research

The main Family History Library in Salt Lake City is like no other library I have ever been in.  It is definitely a paradise for genealogists.  Before you take your trip, you should try to organize and develop a plan.  Make a list of the people whose documents you will be searching for and get the FHL microfilm numbers.  Bring a USB drive with you.

I knew that most of what I wanted to find were records of people in New York City.  Although there were a few very specific people for whom I was searching, most of what I was looking for was documentation for people with a few very specific surnames.  I anticipated that there would be fewer than 100 records for each vital record category – birth, marriage & deaths.

The first thing I did was to go to the Steve Morse website, choose vital records, and then open the search for birth records.  I put in the surname for which I was looking and when the search results came up, I copied the whole list and pasted it into a spreadsheet to which I could easily refer.

Now I had a working list of first and last names, dates, certificate numbers and microfilm numbers.  I could remove any records from this list that I knew I was not interested in.

The 2nd floor of the FHL had all the microfilms I needed.  There are huge banks of cabinets all clearly marked holding 10s of thousands (maybe 100s) of microfilms.  I pulled out the first 4 on my list and went to one of the microfilm readers (proscan) that had the ability to allow me to save to a usb drive or to print.  There is a 30 minute limit on these machines, but if there is no line, you can use them for longer periods.

Good luck with your research!

Posted in Uncategorized

Foresnic Genealogy News: Social Security Death access

Many thanks to Dee Dee King for writing a terrific follow up article on the Social Security Death Master File (DMF) rulings, and sending me the link!  As she points out, the “article describes the certification and licensing process and the many limitations of the new DMF.”  Her article lays out the historical background and changes in accessing the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and explains what the new rules mean for researchers. Vol 4 #3 Special DMF Edition

Posted in laws affecting genealogical research

Merging your family story with the story of the places they lived

For me, a genealogy dream come true is finding a cache of historical photos of an area in which the people I am researching lived.  This is invaluable in literally helping to visualize the place(s) they lived.  The more than 800,000 photos released earlier in the year by the New York City municipal archives is a treasure trove.  These photos come from all sorts of resources: the NYPD, the parks department, the mayor’s office, and many more agencies, as well as shots taken by WPA photographers during the Depression. There are maps and drawings, audio recordings and even mugshots from the DA’s office.

Take a nostalgic walk through history by visiting  – be careful though – time will pass in the blink of an eye while you are perusing the pictures, and you can lose whole days!

Posted in Uncategorized

Ever wonder…

…why your female ancestor born in the United States was not a U.S. citizen?  The reason goes back to a 1907 US law which removed a woman’s citizenship if she married a non-citizen!  This was part of the fall-out of fears of masses of immigrants coming to the US.  In 1922, two years after the passage of the 19th amendment  granting women the right to vote, the law was amended – now it allowed women to retain their US citizenship if they married a non-citizen who was eligible for citizenship.  In other words, someone who was not prohibited from becoming a citizen.  That law was later repealed, and a woman’s (or man’s) US citizenship is not revoked due to the citizenship status of their spouse.

Now comes the news: A resolution introduced by Senators Franken (D-MN) and Johnson (R-WI) on March 27 ( ) and currently before the Senate Judiciary Committee, apologizes for the 1907 Expatriation Act. To read more see the Los Angeles Times article at : Original url:,0,5493306.story#axzz2zSDuuEUl


Thank you, Jan Meisels Allen for bringing this to our attention.

Posted in Genealogy news

But what does it mean?

So, you have a photo, and it’s interesting, and it’s old.  But, the photo without interpretation is meaningless without context.  Who is in this photo?  Where is it from?  What is the context?  What exactly is going on here?  The answer to these questions filled in gaps of a story.  A picture is worth 1,000 words, but the researcher needs to find those words!Image


Posted in piecing the puzzle together | Tagged

News from Ancestry and the Italian Genealogy Group

Today I received an email from John Martino, the Project Coordinator for the Italian Genealogy Group  (IGG) that “Ancestry has made arrangements with New York City Municipal Archives to link to their vital records….This was done to promote the records and make them available to more genealogists then we could ever do.  Isn’t that why we took on this task?  We all wanted to help our fellow researchers… Ancestry will not have the actual certificates.  Researchers will have to contact the Municipal Archives to get copies of the certificates.”

I am very proud to have been one of the thousands of volunteers who worked on many of these projects.  The Italian Genealogy Group has done amazing work over the years transcribing and indexing record collections held at local and regional archives.     The full story can be read in the Long Island Newsday, January 16, 2014, page A8.

Posted in Genealogy news

Dutch records and resources

Many thanks to Jan Meisels Allen and to Gershon Lehrer for passing on information to her about these resources:

Jan pointed out as a site with free 
access to newspapers in the Netherlands, and then Gershon sent her 
another excellent free site for newspapers and books:  with newspapers from 1618 - 1995.  There
are over 9 million pages old newspapers from the Dutch East Indies, 
Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles and the United States.  The site 
also has more than 90,000 books[ publications] from the 18th and 
19th centuries-- the (special) collections of the university 
libraries of Leiden and Amsterdam (UvA) and the Royal Library. 
This includes over two million pages from more
than 11,000 old prints from the Dutch-speaking region from the 
period 1781-1800 and in case that wasn't enough, there are also
1.5 million pages from 80 old journal titles from the second half 
of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.

Thanks to Jan Meisels Allen and to Gershon Lehrer
Posted in Genealogy news