Category Archives: Tips

Civil War Widows’ Pension Digitization Project At The National Archives; YouTube Embedded 5 Minute Video On How The Project Is Done; Very Touching Footage

Hi Everyone!

National Archives LogoIn my various readings I happened to come across that there is a YouTube video from the National Archives that gives some insight into how the National Archives is going about digitizing the Civil War Widows’ Pension documents they have in their possession with the help of many volunteers.

Here is the embedded video that is worth looking at.  I think you will like it and be touched by what is going on with this project.  It is nice the National Archives made this so we can become aware of their activities.  Please read my comments that follow the embedded video:

For many of us, we have volunteered to digitize genealogical materials.  If done through FamilySearch we digitize and index documents that are in fact already in digitized form.  We receive a file that contains images.  We fill in the blanks on what we read from the image into an Excel Template form and we send the material back when we have completed that particular file.

The YouTube video from the National Archives about the Civil War Widows’ Digitization Project gives us an entirely different view of how a digitization project appears when you are actually working with the original paper documents.

You will hear from the volunteers as well as the coordinator of the project from the National Archives.   You will hear about the papers that are found in the paper envelopes.  Some are paper-clipped together requiring special processes to un-clip without damaging the paper.  Some of the paper pieces had been glued together requiring assistance of the National Archives Conservator to separate without damaging the paper.  Some of the pages are in pieces also requiring the Conservator to re-assemble without further damaging in preparation for digitization.

There are 1.28 million case files.  Volunteers are completing about 30,000 case files per year.  The volunteers are logging in a total of about 700 hours per month.   If you do the math, it will take these volunteers and many more generations to come about 42 years to complete the digitization process for all of these case files!

The National Archives coordinator noted facing such a daunting task that “You have to start somewhere!”

It is a very touching 5 minute video that is well put together.  The files represent the real lives of real people and the suffering and the deaths that are described in materials the volunteers read through.  You can really tell that the volunteers really love what they are doing.

For many of us we have advanced our own research by accessing online, indexed material.  That material often got there through the hard work of volunteers transcribing and digitizing.  One particular volunteer in the video expressed her need to contribute her time and energy as a measure of “giving back” because so much of her genealogical online success was due to volunteers digitizing genealogical materials.

I hope you enjoyed the video!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Re-Post Reminder: New Season Of “Who Do You Think You Are?” Starts On Tuesday Evening, July 23, 2013, At 8 PM Central Time On The Learning Channel (TLC); Check TLC Website For Show Information

Hi Everyone!

Who Do You Think You Are?I just want to remind all of you that the new season for “Who Do You Think You Are?” will be starting on the cable channel The Learning Channel (TLC) on Tuesday evening, July 23, 2013, at 8 PM Central time.

Previously, when the show was on NBC, they dedicated a portion of their website to the show so that you could always get updates on the show and view online videos of the shows that had been broadcast.  TLC appears to be doing the same for this show as it unfolds during this season.  You can find the information for the show on TLC at:

“Who Do You Think You Are?” Website At The Learning Channel (TLC)

You will find some “teaser” videos on some of the upcoming “stars” that will appear on the show this season, as well as some “biographical” information on two of the upcoming stars to make an appearance on the show, Kelly Clarkson and Christina Applegate.

There will only be 8 episodes of the show for this new season on TLC.  NBC for a season previously had about 12 episodes.  Maybe the lesser amount of shows for this season is because of the transition to the new cable channel as they get their feet planted firmly in the ground for this show!  I hope if all goes well this season that there will be another season and that season will hopefully be “fuller”
with more episodes.

Only time and viewership ratings will tell for what happens next year!

Here are the “stars” that will appear on the show during the 8 episode run for the season on TLC.  The order is alphabetical and does not represent the order of the shows as they appear to the best of my knowledge:

  • Christina Applegate
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Cindy Crawford
  • Zooey Deschanel
  • Chelsea Handler
  • Chris O’Donnell
  • JIm Parsons
  • Trisha Yearwood

It has been over 1 year since we saw the “last” episode of this wonderful genealogy show in May 2012.  That seems like an eternity ago.

It has now been “raised from the dead” and given new life on this cable channel.

Make sure you mark down the date and time and plan to DVR it.  If you miss that, it looks like the website for the show will allow you to revisit it and view it online.  It appears you will also be able to see each episode on the website after it views initially on TLC.

Now is the time to reconnect with some TV help and entertainment to motivate you in your own genealogical research efforts.

Mark your calendar for Tuesday evening, July 23, 2013 at 8 PM central time on the The Learning Channel (TLC) on cable.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Family Tree DNA Has A Big Sale On Family Finder Testing Product; $99 Instead Of $199; Sale Ends July 26, 2013

Hi Everyone!

Family Tree DNABarb P. a participant at our monthly genealogy programs, has made me aware of a “gigantic” sale taking place at Family Tree DNA.

Their best know genealogically oriented DNA testing product is known as “Family Finder”.  Normally, this product has been advertised at a $199 cost.  Right now, through July 26, 2013, the test is being offered at a remarkable price of only $99.  That is a 50% discount!  But you have to act now as the sale is only in place until the noted July 26, 2013 date.

Barb P. has been an active participant with Family Tree DNA.  She has previously purchased and participated in the “Family Finder” product offered by Family Tree DNA.  She has been very happy with what the test offers and has made some fascinating discoveries with the results she has been given.  Your results provide you with contact information on anyone in the database that has also taken the test with Family Tree DNA and is indicated as having genealogical DNA connections with you.

She knows what she speaks of about the fantastic sale that is currently taking place on the “Family Finder” product especially when she previously paid the much higher price herself.  So she knows a great sale when she sees one and wants to be sure that you are aware of this sale.

If you have been on the “fence” waiting to take a DNA test for genealogical purposes, then the time may be now to jump in with both feet at a 50% savings!

But the sale is only on until July 26, 2013!

Here is the web site for Family Tree DNA so you get an overall view of the company and the products they offer for DNA testing:

Family Tree DNA

Here is a link to information about the specific product called “Family Finder” they offered that focuses on genealogical information:

Family Tree DNA/Family Finder

Here is the text description of the “Family Finder” product from the Family Tree DNA site:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Family Finder

NEW! Discover close relatives and your ethnic percentages with Family Finder!

Family Finder uses autosomal DNA (inherited from both the mother and father, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc.) to provide you a breakdown of your ethnic percentages and connect you with relatives descended from any of your ancestral lines within approximately the last 5 generations.

Results Include:

genetic matches with relationship ranges, visual tools to show matching DNA, and ethnic percentages. Family Tree DNA does not charge a subscription fee. We will continue to update you about new matches and other information regarding your results.* [Read More].

Should I Take Family Finder?

If you are interested in using DNA for close genealogy relationships (within the past 5 generations) that cross gender lines or if you are curious about your ethnic percentages, Family Finder is the right choice!**

** Due to the nature of autosomal DNA, the test does not specify from which branch of your family tree your matches or the percentages of your geographic heritage derive.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

You can obtain the test for the $99 sale price by simply following the “Purchase A Test” link from the “Family Finder” product description website link above.

Discover your connections to anyone else that may have submitted their DNA with Family Tree DNA and has a match with you.  Even if you initially do not see matched results you will now know that as more and more genealogists submit their DNA sample that at some point in the future you may discover the magic match to another fellow researcher, with both of you sharing that common connection.

Time is now running out until the end of the sale on July 26, 2013.

Maybe now is the right time for you to get your DNA tested while you can save 50% compared to the normal cost.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Using Google Powerfully For Your Genealogy Research (Part 2); Devin Ashby Video On Using Google Alerts And Google Books

Hi Everyone!

Google LogoGoogle is one of the most powerful tools that exists for genealogists and their research.  We feel great when we do some simple searches and get some great results.  But we may be leaving so much more on the table and settling for basics!

I recently made a post noting that there is a wonderful series of YouTube videos put together by Devin Ashby on using Google to get the most out of that search resource when doing your genealogy research.

I want to continue highlighting those videos put together by Devin Ashby.

Here is Part 2 of the five-part series put together by Devin Ashby.  This one runs about 9 minutes.

The developer focuses on using Google Alerts and Google Books in this video.  You can use Google Alerts without having a Google Account because you submit your e-mail address to them when you establish the alert of interest to you.  If you have a Google Account, you receive Alert information within your account.

Google Books is a great source of genealogical information because historical books containing genealogical information might often be outside of the scope of copyright protection, thus making them candidates for digitization within Google Books.

You do not need a Google Account to access and use Google Books.

Take a look and listen to what Devin Ashby says about Google Alerts and Google Books.

Here is the embedded video from YouTube, Part 2 of  Devin Ashby’s series on getting the most out of Google in your genealogical research:

Take a look at it and see what you think.

Enjoy the above video.  I hope to be making future posts about these great videos to help you in your research efforts.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Upcoming Events From The Swedish American Museum In Chicago For July 2013; Genealogy Program, Saturday, July 27, 2013, 10 AM To Noon Visit To The Wilmette Historical Museum

Hi Everyone!

Swedish American Museum LogoI recently received the July 2013 Newsletter from the Swedish American Museum.  The Newsletter is called the “Cirkular”.

Here is the July 2013 newsletter I received from the Swedish American Museum:

July 2013 Swedish American Museum Newsletter “Cirkular”

The newsletter highlights many of the upcoming programs and events that will be occurring at the Swedish American Museum.  There are many programs that are more cultural in nature than genealogical.  But if you are doing Swedish genealogical research, these cultural events are still important to you.

The museum does present genealogy programs.  The one mentioned in this newsletter notes that there will be a genealogy program on Saturday, July 27, 2013 that will take place at the Wilmette Historical Society between 10 AM to Noon.

Here is the text description from the newsletter about this genealogy program to the Wilmette Historical Society:

“The Nordic Family Genealogy Center at the Swedish American Museum will host a genealogy session on Saturday, July 27. Tentative plans for this session include a visit to the Wilmette Historical Museum. To learn more about the Nordic Family Genealogy Center visit our Swedish American Museum/Nordic American Genealogy Center. You may also e-mail the Center or call the Museum at 773.728.8111 and leave a message for the Genealogy Center volunteer.”

I also noted another program on the same date, July 27, 2013 at 11;00 AM that is titled “A Dream of America – Swedish Immigration to Chicago”.  While not formally noted as a genealogy program in the newsletter, the topic is certainly one of interest to genealogists with Swedish ancestral connections to immigrants arriving into Chicago.  Here is the text description of this program as noted in the newsletter:

A DREAM OF AMERICA – SWEDISH IMMIGRATION TO CHICAGO

Saturday, July 27, 11 a.m.

permanent exhibit pic 2

“Please join the Museum for a guided tour of our permanent exhibit, A Dream of America: Swedish Immigration to Chicago, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 27. This fascinating tour starts in the mid-1800s in Sweden and takes the visitor on a journey from Sweden to the New World, providing insights into the struggles and triumphs of Swedish immigrant life in Chicago. Cost for the tour is $4 adults, $3 seniors and students, and Museum members are free. Space is limited, and reservations are recommended.  Please call 773.728.8111 or e-mail Museum@samac.org to reserve your spot.”

The Swedish American Museum is very active in all things Swedish, including genealogy.  You can visit their website directly from the link above within the description of the program that will take place on July 27, 2013.

If you have Swedish ancestral connections, you want to make a connection with the Swedish American Museum located in Chicago, IL to see what resources they have that can help in your own Swedish research.

Look through the newsletter for the many and varied programs and events being offered by the museum during July 2013.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“How To Find A Revolutionary War Patriot?” Posting By Dick Eastman; Very Concise And Informative To Help You Discover Revolutionary War Patriots And “Loyalists”

Hi Everyone!

Revolutionary War 1776I was looking through Dick Eastman’s Online material today and saw that he had a very wonderful post on “How To Find A Revolutionary War Patriot?” at his site.

Here is the link to the Dick Eastman post:

“How To Find A Revolutionary War Patriot?” Post By Dick Eastman

For my own personal research my ancestral connections will never take me back to the Civil War or the Revolutionary War.  I wish that could happen but I need to deal with reality.

For many of you, there may be a wonderful ancestral connection leading you back to ancestors that may have already been born by 1760 and who were living in our original 13 colonies at that time.  Male ancestors that fit that requirement are often prime candidates for some involvement in the Revolutionary War period activities.

Congratulations if you have already established the Revolutionary War connection to your ancestors!  If you have not yet made the connection, then the Dick Eastman article is a nice short, sweet and concise guideline full of tips in a short amount of text space that can help you uncover your Revolutionary War connections.

The article also presents some information about how to pursue discovering information on Revolutionary War ancestors of the time that may have been identified as “Loyalists”, those that still gave their allegiance to the King of England and did oppose the Colonial Revolution.

You know genealogy research can take you down paths that produce results that may not be to your liking.  Your ancestor  may have been one that did not want to gain freedom from England but one that rather wanted to still be connected under the terms and conditions of the “colonial” mindset.

Have an open mind in your research.  Let the facts create the story for your ancestral connection.

Revolutionary or Loyalist!

You make the discovery.

Military Pension records are often the best source to discover on ancestors and their connection to the Revolutionary War.  The posting by Dick Eastman is loaded with insights into the military pension process in 1778, 1818, 1823 and 1832 and 1848 all of which are important to be aware of and how they may have affected a Revolutionary ancestor of yours.

I enjoyed the posting by Dick Eastman a great deal and wanted to make you aware how much good research help is packed into such a short post.  It is a fast read that really provides a great deal of information to help you in your pursuit of uncovering information about your Revolutionary War ancestor.

I only wish I had the ancestral connection to that time period!

Maybe you do!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Reminder: New Season Of “Who Do You Think You Are?” Starts On Tuesday Evening, July 23, 2013, At 8 PM Central Time On The Learning Channel (TLC); Check TLC Website For Show Information

Hi Everyone!

Who Do You Think You Are?I just want to remind all of you that the new season for “Who Do You Think You Are?” will be starting on the cable channel The Learning Channel (TLC) on Tuesday evening, July 23, 2013, at 8 PM Central time.

Previously, when the show was on NBC, they dedicated a portion of their website to the show so that you could always get updates on the show and view online videos of the shows that had been broadcast.  TLC appears to be doing the same for this show as it unfolds during this season.  You can find the information for the show on TLC at:

“Who Do You Think You Are?” Website At The Learning Channel (TLC)

You will find some “teaser” videos on some of the upcoming “stars” that will appear on the show this season, as well as some “biographical” information on two of the upcoming stars to make an appearance on the show, Kelly Clarkson and Christina Applegate.

There will only be 8 episodes of the show for this new season on TLC.  NBC for a season previously had about 12 episodes.  Maybe the lesser amount of shows for this season is because of the transition to the new cable channel as they get their feet planted firmly in the ground for this show!  I hope if all goes well this season that there will be another season and that season will hopefully be “fuller”
with more episodes.

Only time and viewership ratings will tell for what happens next year!

Here are the “stars” that will appear on the show during the 8 episode run for the season on TLC.  The order is alphabetical and does not represent the order of the shows as they appear to the best of my knowledge:

  • Christina Applegate
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Cindy Crawford
  • Zooey Deschanel
  • Chelsea Handler
  • Chris O’Donnell
  • JIm Parsons
  • Trisha Yearwood

It has been over 1 year since we saw the “last” episode of this wonderful genealogy show in May 2012.  That seems like an eternity ago.

It has now been “raised from the dead” and given new life on this cable channel.

Make sure you mark down the date and time and plan to DVR it.  If you miss that, it looks like the website for the show will allow you to revisit it and view it online.  It appears you will also be able to see each episode on the website after it views initially on TLC.

Now is the time to reconnect with some TV help and entertainment to motivate you in your own genealogical research efforts.

Mark your calendar for Tuesday evening, July 23, 2013 at 8 PM central time on the The Learning Channel (TLC) on cable.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

A Very Pleasant Discovery Finding Digital Copies Of Genealogical Society Newsletters Online

Hi Everyone!

Paperwork Swamped Clip ArtI have been doing some file drawer, desktop and shelving unit “clean-up” and “clear-out” work over the last few days in anticipation of my move to the Reference Office from the Extension Services Office.

Like all of our own lives regarding “stuff”, I found plenty of old paper copies of various genealogical society newsletter material.  In fact, much of it was still associated with my predecessor who had been subscribing to these materials on behalf of the library at least 15 years ago.  We are talking paper newsletter material going back to the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Being a genealogist, we develop a very thin skin on disposing of materials we have “archived” forever.  What if someone asks that one-in-a-million question and I realize I pitched that one document that could have helped answer it?  Good genealogists always second guess what should be kept and what should be discarded.  But at some time, you do run out of space and you have to make some tough decisions.

With stacks of these old newsletters staring me in the face, I thought that I should take a look at the website of these existing societies and poke around to see what they had online for historical and archival newsletters.  Digitization projects within these societies often involve the digitization of their own previously printed newsletter material.

It was just wonderful to find one society after another in which you could find their historical archives contain digitized files of their previously published paper copies of their newsletters!  I looked at my paper copy and looked at their digital file and I had match after match.

Knowing that there was an online source easily accessible and some open to text searching just made me feel that much easier about actually making the effort to discard all of the personal copies of these paper newsletters accumulated over the past 20 years.

Kudos to these societies and what they have accomplished in digitizing their material that often went back 40 plus years!  Converting that material and making it searchable allows the researcher to access material that might normally be impossible if you had to revert to actually browsing through and reading paper copies of these

Whether you are a member of an individual genealogical society or not,  be sure to determine whether that society has a digital historical archives on their website.  You should be able to search individual issues or combinations or all of them to see if perhaps articles were previously written that may have some connection to names or places that you are researching.  These are wonderful resources that contain some great information to help you in specifics related to your own searches.  It is now that so much of this is seeing the light of day and is digitally searchable within the online archives of these various societies.

Some societies may make much older versions available readily while not making the most recent few years unavailable.  That should be expected.  You will find that happening frequently.

Some societies may have the material online as just the image of the page and not be searchable, so you can at least browse the Table of Contents to discover articles of interest.  Some have Surname indexes in each issue.  Even if not searchable by text, you can often find these as a page that is easily read to see if their might be surnames of interest to you.  Then you can go to the page where the surname occurred.  Some societies may only provide access to a Table of Contents historical view and not the full article.  Some societies may only allow “members” to access the material.  So you will see a mixture of what is available.

But the bottom line is do not omit looking at a society website to see what they do have from a historical archive context about their newsletter publications that you can access.

You can always determine if a society exists either geographically in an area of interest for your own research (e.g. generally at the county level), or if a society exists based on a broader term that matches your own areas of interest (e.g. Polish Genealogical Society) by using the Federation of Genealogical Societies website.  You can find the society at:

Federation of Genealogical Societies

Here is a link within the society that allows you to search for societies of interest to you or just browse through the listing of member societies:

Federation of Genealogical Societies/Society Hall

So what started out as a concern for me of discarding old print genealogy society newsletters, turned into a rather nice discovery knowing I could at last discard old material that could be retrieved if needed digitally from genealogy society websites.  You may not discover this good fortune for every society as some may still not have converted older newsletters to digital format.  But the ones I had all had a digital presence on the web.

At least for now I won’t have to think I will be appearing on the TV Show “Hoarders”!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

 

 

Family Tree DNA Video From YouTube; Discover What Family Tree DNA Can Do For You In Your Genealogy Research

Hi Everyone!

Family Tree DNAYou can’t help but hear about having your DNA tested for genealogical purposes.

One little cheek swab inside your mouth is all that is needed.

One recent handout that I had noted that there are at least 38 companies that provide a DNA analysis.  Once your DNA is analyzed by these companies, you will get some insights into how your DNA compares to others that have submitted their DNA to the company.  You will then see if anyone is a “match” to your DNA and can make contact with them to continue possible determination on the relationship.

It sounds like a simple process.  However, your understanding of your results can still be complicated, scientific and just plain difficult to comprehend.

Once again I like to turn to material that exists on YouTube for help in learning about something that you simply do not deal with every day.

Family Tree DNA is one of the companies that exists that can do DNA analysis for you.  They are one of the larger of the 38 companies that provides this service.  And in the world of DNA analysis, you often have to go with the larger companies that have the most participants in their database.  This increases your chances of possibly having some match with an existing participant when your DNA is compared to others.

The website for Family Tree DNA notes that they have about 639,000 records on file from those that have submitted DNA to the company.

I was not having much luck in finding other statistics from other DNA testing companies for comparative purposes.

You can visit Family Tree DNA on the web at:

Family Tree DNA

There is no one universal across the board comparison of DNA results for you among all of the various companies.  Your results will be based on comparing your DNA to others in that same database.  If a potential relation to you also tested DNA but with another company, your DNA will not be compared to their DNA in that other database.

I have recently been going back to YouTube to see what I can find that can help you better understand the DNA Genealogy process.  I did discover that one of the top companies, Family Tree DNA, also known as FTDNA, has a “channel” on YouTube.

In their channel you can find a variety of videos that not only promote them as a company and the work they do, but do give the unfamiliar researcher some insight into what the entire DNA genealogy is and what it can provide.  So though these videos are “teaching” videos they are in the same regard an “infomercial”.

You can still learn a whole lot about something you never previously understood from such a program!

On their FTDNA Channel, the company has many videos.  Some are shorter in length, under 3 minutes, some are longer in length, about 23 minutes.  The shorter ones may be extracts of some of the larger ones for convenience.  I have not compared each short one to see if it is contained in a larger one.

I thought that sharing a larger one produced by this company would give you a fuller picture of what the company offers as a service and what it can do for you in your genealogical research efforts.

If you want to try to clear some of the “cobwebs” and “confusion” about DNA and genealogy then give the following 23 minute video from Family Tree DNA a chance.  I think it will give you the insights you are looking for and not overwhelm you with scientific analysis that can only make things more difficult to digest.

Here is the video I was referring to.  You can view it right in this blog post:

You can also visit YouTube directly and use the search term “ftdna channel” to discover many more videos on the subject.

Be informed on the subject.  DNA and Genealogy is only going to be getting larger, more powerful and less expensive over time.  The more people in the DNA pool, the better your chance of making connections to relatives, many that you are aware of, and some that are going to be the “surprises” and “discoveries” of the day.

I hope you enjoyed the “promo” from Family Tree DNA!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Using Google Powerfully For Your Genealogy Research; Some Very Informative YouTube “Teaching” Videos On How to Get The Most Out Of Google For Genealogy Research

Hi Everyone!

Google LogoGoogle is one of the most powerful tools that exists for genealogists and their research.  We feel great when we do some simple searches and get some great results.  But we may be leaving so much more on the table and settling for basics!

You can always use the “Search Help” function at the bottom of a Google page containing search results to learn more about Google.

But do we really ever?  Probably not.  So we become satisfied with the results we get even though with a little learning and experimenting we can make our searches on Google even more powerful and productive.

I did come across some very nice “teaching” videos on YouTube that are geared exactly for using Google for your genealogical research.  There are a series of these “teaching” videos for you to go through and pick up some Google search tips geared towards genealogical research.

You can do a search within YouTube using the term “google genealogist” to find these great “teaching” tool videos.

Here is the first one that I found in the series at YouTube.  I found at least a 5-part series of these videos to learn more about how to use Google for your genealogy research.  Each video runs anywhere from about 7 to 10 minutes.

The first one also presents the viewer with some good introductory information on what Google is and what it can offer as services.  This is good to know, especially if you do not have a Google Account and may not be aware that Google is far more than just a search engine!

Take a look at it and see what you think.

Our Google searches can always be better but you need to know how to best construct your searches.

Enjoy the above video.  I hope to be making future posts about these great videos to help you in your research efforts.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library