31    May 20081 comment

Australia immigrant records to go online

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A database of millions of immigrants to Australia (1826-1922) will be made accessible online this week to researchers.

Although most free settlers in Australia were British, migrants of all religions and ethnicities arrived from all around the world, including the United States, Russia, India and China.

The database, with 8.9 million names of passengers and crew arriving in New South Walves as free settlers goes online Wednesday, June 4, at Ancestry.com.au. Last year, the site posted the records of 160,000 convicts who were the first arrivals.

For millions of people, Australia was a dream, a hope, a promise - a chance to escape poverty and overcrowding.

According to a company spokesman, the average Australian has a one-in-three chance of having a free-settler ancestor and that some 7 million contemporary Australians were related to early settlers.

Australia is often thought of as being founded by convicts, but most of the early population arrived as free people to either join relatives, own homes, land, or to find gold. And many prominent Australians are descendants of these settlers.

Let me know when you've used this database and what you were able to find. I look forward to reading your comments.

27    May 20080 comments

Books, books, books

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Wherever we look, there are increasing numbers of books somehow related to aspects of genealogy.

Whether they are family mysteries or historically-focused, there are many books already out that can provide insight into family history research. Readers can expect even more in the way of entertainment as well as reference books.

The younger generations are also getting into the act. North Carolina resident Amanda Burns, 17, started writing "Remember the Dance: The Story of Nora Shanahan" a few years ago when she researched her Irish ancestors on both sides who eventually settled in North Carolina.

The story centers around 15-year-old Nora Shanahan, an Irish girl living in the 1840s during the Irish Potato Famine, caused by a fungus that decimated much of the island country's potato crop.

The New York Times detailed a 2005 book by Carole Cadwalladr, "The Family Tree," about an English family over three generations. It covers DNA, multi-ethnicity, family secrets and much more, all tied together, as the main character says:

''I've been thinking about the trees again. You remember. The trees in the back garden. . . . It's like a family tree, of course. I don't know why I didn't think of that before.''

"Above the door frame is a long, narrow plaque of enameled metal. The black letters set against a white background say Central Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths," is the first line in"All the Names," (Harcourt, 2000) by Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago.

The book won the Weidenfeld Translation Prize for Margaret Jull Costa's translation from Portuguese. It is the story of a low-level clerk in a government office that records births and deaths. When he comes across the birth certificate for a mysterious woman, he becomes strangely obsessed with finding out more about her.

"The Family Tree," (Serpent's Tail, 1991) by Margo Glantz, was originally written in Spanish (1881) and covers her family's dual heritage from pre-revolutionary Russia, immigration to Mexico and intertwining memories of different ways of life.

Are you into murder mysteries? "Death on the Family Tree," by Patricia Sprinkle, hinges on family secrets. The details include priceless jewelry, a German diary, a previously unknown family branch, a burglary and two murders. Some characters have done family history research, another has checked a US census and even uses her own computer to find records.

For a great list of new books on aspects of family history, genealogy and local history, here's a website that lists books in print (back to 2004) as well as those to be published in the future. "What's New in Family History, Genealogy & Local History Books" can be accessed here.

Among reference works available next winter: "Place Names of Illinois" (University of Illinois Press, November 2008) by Edward Callary of Northern Illinois University will detail the origins of names of 3,000 Illinois communities."

"Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide," edited by Ann Durkin Keating of North Central College and coeditor, The Encyclopedia of Chicago. (University of Chicago Press, December 2008). This claims to be a comprehensive, cross-referenced compendium on all 77 community areas, suburbs and neighborhoods (past and present).

There is an entire site, compiled by the Librarians Serving Genealogists list of genealogy-oriented novels, including mysteries, science fiction, hystorical fiction, children/young adults and unclassified here

And if you'd like to try writing your own history, try GenWriters.com, by Phyllis Matthews Ziller, MLIS, which offers many guides, resourcesfor research and social history, writing resources, a page of handy books to investigate, a bibliography of genealogical reference books, a bibliography of family history writing guides, and even a section on genealogy resources for children.

Have you read a book with a genealogical twist to it? Why not tell us all about it? I always look forward to receiving your comments.

6    May 20084 comments

New Jersey records online

Do you have family in New Jersey? Or did your ancestors live there? The Courier-Post newspaper has placed online - with free access - links to many useful databases for family historians and genealogists. You may just find information on your "missing" links.

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New Jersey, 1846

The nation's largest death registry is the Social Security Administration's Death Master File, known by its acronym of SSDI, is an index of more than 80 million names that has helped countless families trace their roots back to the 19th century. It is is now available on DataUniverse, a free public records search offered by the Courier-Post newspaper in New Jersey.

The index is searchable by name, last residence, year of death or birth, and Social Security number.

To access the data, click the Courier-Post Online.

Although updated frequently and holds deaths from 1937, it does not contain everyone who died since then, such as those who did not have a Social Security number, those whose deaths were never reported to the Federal government, and other reasons. The majority are people who died from the 1960s onward when records were computerized.

Not in the database is President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the creator of Social Security, is not because he died in 1945. But Harry S. Truman, Ronald W. Reagan and even Elvis Presley are in the searchable files.

There is a link to order (for a fee) the original social security application documents which can provide many genealogical facts, including address at application, place of work, parents' names, birthdate and birthplace.

The newspaper's collection also offers free access to millions of government records, including New Jersey convicted criminals (if you're looking for your family's black sheep!), public school performance reports, public employee salaries and overtime, property sales and ownership (1999-2006), and links to medical and consumer information on the Web.

Other information provides information on teachers, police, firefighters, retirees, university employees, college entrance scores, campaign contributions and more. Depending on the records, data is searchable by name, address, town or other parameters.

It is definitely worth a look, and it is free.

I look forward to hearing your comments and your experiences using this database.

6    May 20082 comments

Steve Morse: New One-Step resources

Dr. Stephen P. Morse has been interested in genealogy since he was a young boy. He's also the creator of the 8086 chip, the ancestor of today's Pentium processor. Without that little design, you wouldn't be reading this now. But Morse's creativity goes much further.

When the Ellis Island Database came online several years ago, with some 23 million records of immigrants entering through New York, Morse was one of the first to log on. He was soon frustrated by the inefficient search engine and knew he could do better. His tools for better searching have helped many researchers find their elusive ancestors. The rest is history.

His innovative tools for many databases and other aids are neatly cataloged at his One-Step site. Each time a new database is made accessible online, there seems to be a Morse aid to find things better and faster within that resource.

His pages have been very helpful in my own searching and I've found people who just didn't show up using any other technique.

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Dr. Stephen P. Morse

Categories on his site include

Ellis Island (many forms, manifests, ship lists, NY passengers, directories, pictures NARA/FHL roll numbers)

Castle Garden (manifests, ship lists, browser, passengers)

Other Ports (passengers, manifests, ship lists for Baltimore, Boston, Galveston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Hamburg, Canadian, Germans to America, Italians to America, Russians to America, etc.)

US Census (street finder, census codes, rolls, browser, descriptions counties, name searches, changed street names, soundex).

Canadian/UK Census

New York Census (Brooklyn 1925 name index, etc.)

Vital Records (birthdays, public records, addresses, ages, Social Security Death Records, Social Security Numbers, naturalization records, incarceration records, NY birth records, NY groom/bride index, death records, cemeteries, county indexes, Illinois, Montreal, etc.)

Calendar/Maps (Jewish calendar, Moslem calendar, French calendar, zip code maps, maps, latitude/longitude, area codes, country codes, etc.).

Foreign Alphabets (translation, transliteration, Hebrew, Russian, Greek, Yiddish, soundex, cursive/print, foreign Googles, virtual keyboards, etc.)

Holocaust & Eastern Europe (variety of information)

Genetics (FamilyTreeDNA markers, haplogroups, charts, distances, migration, etc.)

Creating Search Applications

Miscellaneous (many other topics and innovations)

One of his newer helps are One-Step searches for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently made available passenger lists of Russian, German, Italian and Irish lists.

Each list is generally of immigrants who identified their nationality as Russian, German or Italian, and who landed in New York, Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans or Philadelphia during the 19th century. The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies created the passenger list indexes; however, they are not complete listings of all these immigrants.

For some tips on how to search these, see the Family Tree Magazine article here.

Morse speaks at many genealogy conferences and meetings in North America; his speaking schedule is listed here. If he will be speaking in your area, try to attend his lecture.

He has written articles for the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly ("Deep Linking & Deeper Linking," "Jewish Calendar Demystified"). He's received many awards including the 2008 Unified Polish Genealogical Societies Thank You Award, the 2007 Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly Excellence Award, the National Genealogical Society Award of Merit, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (2003 Outstanding Contribution Award and 2006 Lifetime Achivement Award), while articles have been written about him in Heritage Quest Magazine, Genealogical Computing and elsewhere.

If you've used Morse's One-Step pages, I'd like to hear from you. I look forward to reading your comments.

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