Monday, December 28, 2015

Research Filing Systems

Need some inspiration for organizing and filing your research? There are multiple methods for organizing your research. You just need to find the one that works best for you.

Many prefer to file their research in folders. It's often the fastest and most intuitive way to organize. Blogger Jennifer Jensen describes her simple system of color-coded family folders here.

An example of surname binders from genejourneys
Another popular filing system involves creating surname notebooks. Here are some notebook tips from DearMyrtle:
  • Create a notebook for each major surname. You can also combine several smaller surnames into one binder and when one surname gets too larger, you can move it into it's own binder.
  • The first tab in your surname notebook should be labeled "Direct Lines." Start this section by grouping all of your direct line family group sheets together chronologically. 
  • After each family group sheet, include your documents (bmd certificates, photos, military and immigration papers, censuses, etc.) for that specific family.
  • You should have another section devoted to your collateral lines. These would be group sheets and documents for your parents' siblings, your grandparents' siblings, etc.
  • DearMyrtle also suggests having a tab in your binder labeled: "Research (not proven)." Here you can include the research you're doing on people who you suspect to be ancestors but haven't proven the relationship yet.

Whatever filing system you choose, you need to remember to be consistent and always file your documents as soon as you get them!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Family Tree Maker & Genealogy Software

Ancestry recently announced that they will be retiring Family Tree Maker. The software will be available for purchase through December 31, 2015 and Ancestry will continue to provide technical support until January 1, 2017.

Ancestry Member Trees will still be available (and you can create one even if you don't have an Ancestry subscription).

If you're looking for genealogy software, here are a few good options:
Also visit Family Tree Magazine's Genealogy Software Guide to help you pick out a new program. 

There's a good Genea-Musings blog post that explains what Family Tree Users should be doing now and what your future options are.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Genealogy for kids

The holidays can be a great time to introduce the kids to family history. Here are few genealogy activities for kids:
  • Share family stories and photos.
  • Make a family tree or a timeline for an ancestor.
  • Interview grandparents. Here are some sample questions
  • Teenagers or older kids can record an oral history with a family member on a smartphone.
  • Learn what your surname means and learn a few words in your ancestors' native language.
You can also get crafty:
Use Pinterest to find more great ideas!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Catholic Church Records

Roman Catholic Churches have traditionally kept extensive records about their members. These
records are particularly useful when civil records are unavailable. If you're researching Roman Catholic ancestors, here are some of the major records you should be looking for:

These are usually kept at the local church and contain records of sacraments such as baptism and marriage. Baptismal records generally include the date of baptism, the child's full name, the parents' names (along with the mother's maiden name), and the godparents' names. Marriage records include the marriage date and the names of the bride and groom (with the bride's maiden name). Marriage records may also include the parents' names (and mothers' maiden names), and information about residences and occupations. Marriages often occurred in bride's parish so look for marriage records there.

Deaths, Burials, and Cemetery Records
Some parishes kept records of deaths and burials. Especially look for death records in the church had its own cemetery. These records contain the date of death, date of burial, and sometimes the place of birth.

Marriage Banns, Dispensations, and Validations
Banns were announcements made in the parishes of a bride and groom three consecutive Sundays before a wedding was to take place. They only state an intention to marry and not that the marriage actually took place. Banns were used to help uncover any information about the why the couple may be ineligible to be married. A dispensation would be needed if an individual was not catholic or was a recent convert, or if the couple were closely related by blood or marriage, or if the bride was pregnant. Dispensation or validations of a marriage can be found at the diocese or sometimes at the church.

Status of the Souls or status animarum
Some churches created parish family books which include marriage, birth and death dates as well as migration information for family members.

Church Histories
Church and local histories, anniversary booklets, catholic newspapers and organization meeting minutes may all include information about your family.

Religious Order Records
If you have an ancestor who joined a religious order, there may be records of your ancestor and the family at the order's headquarters.

You can find Roman Catholic Church records at the local parish or the diocese. FamilySearch also has a large digital collection available for browsing online as well as many church records on microfilm.

Catholic Church records for Chicago from 1833-1925 are available online. You can browse this collection by parish and date.