Thursday, December 29, 2011

2 Free Copies of Casefile Clues

You can get two free samples of my genealogy subscription newsletter Casefile Cluesby "ordering" them here. Click "checkout." You will NOT be asked for anything other than your email for the download link. The two copies are free. You can put your real name or call yourself Bugs Bunny if you're more comfortable with that. The download is free, does not require a PayPal account, or a credit card.

There is more about Casefile Clues at

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

August 2012 Ft. Wayne Library Research Trip

We have released details of our August 2012 group research trip to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, 1-5 August. Join us! Details are here

Use Towns at Google Patents

I've found that some names are really difficult to read on the old patents that Google has digitized at Try searching for names of counties, states, and cities instead of, or in addition to names.

I found quite a few references to people in various Hancock County, Illinois, towns searching in this fashion.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Stephen Morse's Websites

If the traditional search interface at your favorite doesn't work for you or you want to make certain that you have not left anything out, try Steve has alternate search interfaces to several popular genealogy websites. They might be worth a try.

Friday, December 23, 2011

January 2012 Genealogy Webinar Schedule Announced

Our series of January 2012 genealogy webinars have been announced:

  • Illinois Research
  • Using
  • Newspaper Research
  • Tips and Tricks for
Sessions are an hour long and registrants who are unable to attend will receive complimentary download links. 
Details and registrations can be processed on our website at Registration is limited.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

1870 Census Search Fixed At

We complained about problems with the 1870 census search at Those issues have been addressed and it is working now. I've got a longer post here about the fix.
Thanks to those who voiced their concern and thanks to those at who worked on the fix.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New Webinar Recordings

Sarah and Susannah-Two 18th Century Virginia Women and Their Property -(NEW!)-This presentation discusses the will of a 18th century Virginia woman and how another family "moved" a widow's life estate from one county to another. Priced at $8.50 for immediate download. Includes recording and PDF of handout. 

Creating Families from Pre-1850 Census Records -(NEW!)-This presentation discusses how to analyze pre-1850 census records in order to determine the family structure that is suggested by those records. Enumerations for one household between 1810 and 1840 are analyzed in order to determine the number of children, ranges on their years of birth, and ranges on years of birth for the oldest male and oldest female in the household. Priced at $8.50 for immediate download. Includes recording and PDF of handout. 

Never Limit Unless it is Beyond Absolutely Necessary

Unless a name is exceedingly common, I try and use as few search parameters as possible. A newspaper in Ohio can "pick up" and run an article from Kansas. can incorrect link an image from a 1938 military roster to a date of 1913, and a newspaper can run a "Days Beyond Recall" column in the 1950s that references an event in 1858.

Avoid limiting your searches with additional search terms unless the number of hits is simply to onerous to manage.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Recording of "Using 'Old Search' at"

We've uploaded our recorded webinar and PDF handout for "Using the Old Search at" which was completed today. Your order can be processed here for only $2.25.We discuss toggling back and forth between new and old search and some of the features of the old search and reasons why I continue to use it.

The webinar doesn't show my face--instead you hear my voice and see the screen as I perform searches. Fortunately the computer and internet were working well for me today. Obviously to do the searches yourself, you'll need your own account. We kept the price low on this one to make it affordable for those who've been confused about "old search."

Registered attendees for today's webinar who missed it can get the download at no charge--just email me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Learn the Old Search at

We've talked about the "old search" on That blog post shows you how to get it on your own site (assuming you have a personal account).

I like the old search and tomorrow (Tuesday 13, December) afternoon [1:30 PM PACIFIC]--this was accidentally left out of the original post is free on my schedule, so I've decided to set up a demonstration of what the old search will do, how to use it and some neat aspects of it. There's a reason why some of us like it. And the price of $1.50 can't be beat (we do have to pay the webinar hosting service something--they don't let us do these things for free). We will go through examples of using the old search--demonstration is the best way.

You can register and reserve your seat here for only $1.50. Confirmations with website link will be sent Tuesday morning.

Join us...and learn how to use the old search before it is too late!

The Old Search At

For those who want the old search at, try this link(and then look on the far right hand side, upper corner).

If that does not work, go to and search for "old search" (put old search in quotes, but not That's how I found this page that had the old search link because I could not for the life of me find it on the home page.

Genealogy Fundamental Webinars

Based upon several attendee suggestions, we've developed (or actually took materials from beginning classes I used to teach) a series of "Genealogy Fundamental" webinars on a variety of topics, including:
  • What's in a Deed
  • 1930 Census1880 Census
  • 1850 Census
  • Cash Land Sales
  • 19th Century Will
More specifics are on our registration page. Emphasis is on analyzing and interpreting the document used as a sample, including "where next?" and citation. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

World War I Draft Registrants Born in 1917

I performed a search on the database of World War I veterans and found quite a few hits for men born in 1917. This time, the problem is not with

When I reviewed some of the 1917 birth entries in the database a while back, I noticed that that was the year that was on their registration card. The post in this image indicates the year on the card is clearly 1917.

Transcribers are told to transcribe what they read--and this card says 1917. Of course draft registrants for World War I could not have been born in 1917--which goes to show that sometimes you must be careful entering in certain parameters, particularly when those details could be wrong on the original record.

And if readers do not know why World War I draft registrants could not have been born in 1917, then a review of either your math skills or history knowledge is in order.

Sometimes the original record was wrong in the first place and it's not the fault of the person or firm who created the index.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Always Make Certain You Know What You Are Searching

FamilySearch released two new databases today:

They are different databases (note that the one for "Union Veterans" includes some War of 1812 veterans as well). In my haste to use the databases, I didn't realize they were two separate databases and I kept wondering why I could find people once and not find them again.

Always pay attention to what you are searching and make certain there isn't something on the site that could confuse you. Double check.

It can happen to anyone.

Buy 1 Get 1 (BOGO) or 50% off sale....

For the next 24 hours, we're having a a Buy 1, Get 1 sale on my 11 recorded genealogy webinars on a variety of topics. Check out the list on this page Coupon code is fifty.

  • Missing 1840 census
  • Using BLM site
  • Using US Passenger Lists at
  • Using US Census at
  • Determining Migration Chain
  • Seeing the Patterns
and more...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

SSDI Entries Not Always Precise

Remember that not all entries in the SSDI are created equally. My grandfather's SSDI entry only indicates a year and month of death.

Consequently if I enter his date of death-7 December 1968 in the search box, he will not be located as the "7" is not one of the fields in his entry.

Always consider making your searches less specific and keep in mind the reality of how many matches you are going to get. There won't be many Cecil Neills in the database to begin with. A death year of 1968 is most likely precise enough.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December Webinars-4 for $25

We have four webinars upcoming in December before we break for the holidays:

  • DeedMapper
  • Pre-1920 Naturalization Records
  • Analyzing pre-1850 American Census Records
  • Sarah and Susannah: Two 18thCentury Virginia Women and their property

If you'd like to sign up for all of them, you can do so at the total price of $25 (save $7--that's lucky!) by using this link on this page. The $25 for all four rate is NOT on the main webinar page. If you can't attend, have connectivity issues, or other problems, you can get the downloadable version of the webinar after it has been recorded and processed.

Signed up for an earlier one, but missed it? Email me at and we'll send you the download link at no charge. 

When To Use Contains

Some websites support the use of "contains" and there are times when it is a good search procedure. Depending up on the location and time, my last name can be spelled:
  • Neil
  • Neill
  • O'Neil
  • O'Neill
  • McNeill
  • MacNeill
A contains search for "Neil" will catch all these last names with one search. Soundex won't catch them all and most sites don't allow a wildcard as the first term.

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick allows a contains search--others do as well. Keep your eyes open, it might be just the search option you need.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Date Your Online Searches

There are databases at both the free and fee-based sites that are "in-progress." If your research does not include the date of the search, you may be searching it again needlessly or missing out on opportunities., FamilySearch, Fold3, GenealogyBank--they all have databases that are "in-progress." Keep track of that search date in addition to how and what you searched.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Spread the News About Our Blogs-Thanks!

If you've found any of our websites/blogs helpful in your searches, please let your genealogy friends know about them. You can sign up for them in Google reader, get them in your email, or join the fan page on Facebook.

Genealogy Tip of the Day

Daily Genealogy Transcriber
Search Tip of the Day
  • Where I post whatever comes to mind--sometimes with opinion and attitude mixed in-we try to leave opinion and attitude out of the other blogs ;-).
  • -- to read older ones or sign up for emails.
Thanks to everyone who has spread the word about our blogs. The ones above are all free (unless you choose the kindle version). Thanks!

Is the Site Searching For Name Abbreviations?

Some database search interfaces will automatically search for common nicknames and abbreviations when a full name is entered.

  • William returns, William, Wm., Will, etc.
  • Thomas returns Thomas, Thos, Tom, etc. 
But check and make certain before you ASSUME the site works that way. And if the site does perform nickname searches remember that they typically are manually programmed in--so your "weird" nickname for Thomas, might not show up.

Experiment if you are uncertain and remember that NOT ALL sites are constructed to automatically perform these nickname and diminutive searches.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

More Brick Walls from A to Z-Recorded Version

More Brick Walls from A to Z -(NEW!)-This presentation is a continuation on the popular "Brick Walls from A to Z" that was released earlier. The alphabet has been reused for additional ideas and quick suggestions for getting past those brick walls--aimed at all levels--with the intent of jumpstarting people's research. Introductory recording price of $6 won't last long. Includes recording and PDF of handout. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Update to Restricted Searches at

This is a short update to the post on restricted searches at is aware of the problem and is working on it. And yes, it is a problem and the search is not working correctly as of the time this post is written. I've had confirmation from an executive at

You can read a little more of my opinion here on my Rootdig blog. I try and keep this blog just for search suggestions, concerns, tricks and tips because I know not everyone wants to read my opinion. The Rootdig blog is where those things are usually posted.  

Read that Description recently released a set of Missouri death records  on their site. Great database,  but make certain you view the list of what is available for the county you need. The title indicates the records are from 1834 through 1910, but coverage is not consistent. Good old Macon County only has records listed from 1880 through 1895 (with no 1894). And I swear when I originally wrote this post they only had a few years in the 1880s.

Always check and make certain what the database actually includes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The U is an N

It never hurts to switch out those "u"s for "n"s, especially when dealing with printed materials that have been digitized.

This search for trantvetter at GenealogyBank resulted in some hits. Trautvetter isn't the most common name in the first place, but 24 is better than nothing!

Are there letters you should be switching out?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Restricted to Locations Not Working at

[note: as of 20 December 2011 this search IS working and the errors reported below are no longer occuring.]
Maybe I'm confused or maybe the searches at are not working the way they are supposed to. I hope someone can point me to the error of my ways.

I'm trying to search for all individuals with the surname of Green in Linn County, Missouri, in the 1870 census as part of the analysis for an upcoming Casefile Clues article. The problem is that I'm getting more results than just those in Linn County.

I think I have everything set to exact so that I would only get matches in Linn County.

There are four screens that follow. The first three are screen shots of my search parameters. The last one is the results page that I got. If something is set incorrectly, I really hope someone can help me out--maybe I can't see it because it is late.

The search results screen includes results from Pennsylvania and states besides Missouri. 

However, if I'm not wrong---I wish would get the search fixed. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan, but not being able to interact with the data in the way I think I am is confusing.

Clark or Tark--Which Is It?

This image was on the Daily Genealogy Transcriber yesterday.

Pretty clearly the last name is Clark.

Not to fault, but just to point out, has it indexed as "Tark."

Just something to think about.

Monday, November 28, 2011

User Guide to the FamilySearch Website

If you are not familiar with all the aspects of the FamilySearch website or just need a refresher, there is a PDF document on the FamilySearch site that may help.

Some of it is pretty basic, but just scanning the table of contents might be a good idea--even for old timers.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Search for What You Know Is In the Database

When experimenting with new search techniques,or just to make certain the site works "the way you think it does" search for a record you know is in the database--but use different search techniques or parameters. Experimenting for other ways to find the already located entry is an excellent way to learn new search techniques.

And remember, when performing a Soundex search on any English language database, there should always be a Soundex match for "smut."

Cyber Monday Discount on Recorded Genealogy Lectures

25% off on all recorded genealogy webinars today! Code and webinar descriptions at

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Do Keyword Searches At Need Caps or Exact or What?

I'll be honest---internet searching has made me lazy with capital letters, often times the case of the letter is ignored. 

I'm searching the 1860 census at nationwide for a William and Matilda Rhodus for an upcoming Casefile Clues article. For reasons that aren't really germane to this post, I searched for William Rhodes as shown below with a keyword of "matilda." This would catch households that had a William Rhodes and a Matilda. I had the exact box checked as shown in this post.

The search came up empty, although I knew there was at least one household in Breckinridge County, Kentucky with a William Rhodus and a Matilda in it as I had already found it.

Yet there were "no results."

When I changed the keyword to "Matilda"I still got no result.

Putting Matilda Rhodus in the keyword box worked with exact checked.
Moral of the story--on the keyword uncheck exact.
And experiment.

We may have additional posts on this topic.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Steady Sledd in Indexes Do Not Equate to FamilySearch

Don't always assume that and FamilySearch are using the "same index." The indexes to the same materials could have been created separately. They do NOT share indexes.

A good example of this was a search I recently conducted for Joshua Sledd in the 1852 California Census

The California 1852 State Census at transcribed his last name as Stedd--as shown in the image below:

FamilySearch indexed the name as Sledd as shown:

It is easy to see how the name was read in both ways when one sees the image.

And the whole reason for the post?

I found Joshua in the 1852 Census index on FamilySearch--which does not have the images.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Are you in the habit of performing an advanced search on for the first/last name of each  husband/wife pair in your genealogy?

I've made quite a few unexpected discoveries doing just that.

Google it to Find it on

I'm impatient and I don't make bookmarks.

I'm not a huge fan of the catalog and search at, of which I am a member. If there is a database I've used there before and I want to find again, I usually search for it on Google.

In the Google search box:

  • missouri marriage index
  • iowa state census
Works wonders to get to those things I know I've used before, but am too lazy to create a big 'ol set of bookmarks for.

My Blogs

For those who don't know, I have three daily sites:

I also have two other blogs:

Rootdig--also free where I blog about general research ideas, things that confuse/frustrate/irritate me, etc. --

Casefile Clues--where I blog about things I'm working on for my newsletter Casefile Clues--


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Genealogy Webinar Topics for December 2011

We've announced our schedule of genealogy webinars in December of 2011. Registrants who are unable to attend can receive (at no charge) download links for the recorded webinar and handout.

Topics include:

  • More Brick Walls from A to Z
  • Constructing Families from pre-1850 Census Records
  • American Naturalization Records Before 1920
  • Sarah and Susannah: Two 18th Century Virginia Woman and Their Property
Each webinar is $8 or you can sign up for all 4 for $28.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Patents on the Bureau of Land Management Site

One good way to potentially if your ancestor had War of 1812 military service in the US is to search and see if a warrant was issued in his name at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website.

Many of the men who were veterans of that war and were living in the 1850s qualified for land that was made available to them at that time. These veterans were given a warrant for a stated number of acres, which could be exchanged for a patent that would give title to a specific piece of federal land. Many veterans never actually claimed any land, instead they sold their warrant to someone who actually wanted to settle.

So your ancestor who never left Kentucky may have a warrant for land based on his War of 1812 service for property that was patented (actually located) in Iowa. The same holds for a veteran from New York State.

When searching the warrants at the BLM site, don't restrict the state. Are you CERTAIN your ancestor's warrant wasn't used to obtain property elsewhere?

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Webinars for Download and Discount Offer

Webinars on the Bureau of Land Management Site and DeedMapper were released today on our website. Thanks to our low overhead, copies of webinars are moderately priced at around $8.50 per download, a third of what others charge.

We also released recently webinars on Using's Census, Seeing Patterns, and other topics.

There is more information and ordering details at:

Save $1 per webinar by using the coupon code tipoff

Pre-Emption Claims on BLM (Bureau of Land Management Site)

Preemption claims will not always be noted as such on the results page at the BLM site.

The search results for John Lake in Chariton County, Missouri, simply indicates the patent was issued as a cash sale as is seen in the screen shot below. There is no mention that it is a preemption claim.

But looking at the actual patent indicates it is a preemption claim by the notation in the upper left hand corner of the patent.
Preemption claims tend to contain more detail in their patent files at the National Archives than do cash sales. John's mentions a few things about his settlement and family, in addition to including testimony from a neighbor. His claim was discussed in more detail in an issue of Casefile Clues

This was one of many aspects of the BLM site that was discussed in my recent webinar on searching the site

But don't assume what is indicated is a cash sale is a cash sale. Sometimes they are not. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Your Pal for Portable Scanning

For a limited time, Flip-Pal is offering customers the opportunity to receive a 10% off coupon code (of purchases of $100 or more) This birthday coupon code is: BDAY11A

You can get more information at Flip-Pal.

Getting Around Those Missing Locations

So far, in my own research I have found several locations that are in the census transcription at, but are not in the "dropdown" list:

  • Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois
  • St. Albans Township, Hancock County, Illinois
  • Bear Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois
There have to be others. Of course these locations are small enough that manual searches of them can be easily conducted--I did it long before we had everyname indexes. However, there are times when I might want to search just for people in these specific locations. That can't be done now with the drop down menu not listing them as a geographic location. 

It is really easy to do. I choose "Hancock County, Illinois" as my location and enter the name of the township in my search box as shown below:
Really easy.

The key is making certain I have the name of the township spelled correctly. In this case, I searched for a last name I KNEW should be there in 1900: Goldenstein. 

This indicated that the township was entered in the 1900 census index of "homes" in as "Bear Creek." Matching it exactly is crucial.

It always pays to check the spelling of the location as well, particularly if a word in the place name could have been abbreviated. In 1900 Saint Albans Township in Hancock is in the index as "Saint Albans." 

In 1910 Saint Albans Township in Hancock County is in the index as "St. Albans." 

Since Saint Albans in Hancock County, Illinois, does not appear in the drop down list of locations at, I'll have to enter it in the keyword box as "saint albans" for 1900 and "st albans" for 1910. Something to add to my personal list of locations for later searching.

I am not certain why it is one way in 1900 and another in 1910. The census forms themselves from 1900 and 1900 are shown below, both indicating "St. Albans." 

At this point, why has them entered this way is not my concern. I have a workaround--that's what matters.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Keyword Searches to Find Mother's First Cousins

I've been playing around with the obituaries at GenealogyBank, partially because my mother sent me something a while back and I neglected to save it.

My grandmother's brother was married in the 1940s to a woman with whom he had three children. They divorced and the mother moved fifteen miles away and never really interacted with the family again. Mom told me that one of these children (her first cousin) died and the obituary was in an online paper in the town where the cousin lived.

Now, several years later, I am getting around to working on it a little more. Problem is that I didn't keep any of the information mother gave me.

So I searched at GenealogyBank, using the name of the uncle in the keyword box:

The article came up in my results. If the name had been more common, I could have searched by state, or put in another keyword. I didn't know the name of the person who died, but I did know the name of the uncle and remembered that he was listed as the biological father in the obituary.

Use those keyword searches and take notes when your mother gives you genealogical information. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It Didn't Match or Did It?

This was accidentally posted to Genealogy Tip of the Day--this is the blog where I meant to post it--so some of you might have just seen this. 

Put me down as confused.
This screen shot shows a search just conducted this morning on the "Illinois County Marriages, 1810-1934" database at FamilySearch.

My search was for a couple where one had the last name Tammen and the other had the last name Johnson. FamilySearch told me there were no matches that matched "strongly."

How do you get "stronger" than the same last names I entered?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Recorded Copies of Genealogy Webinars

I've made digital recordings of several of my recent genealogy webinars, including:

  • Brick Walls from A to Z
  • Pig Blood in the Snow-Court Records
  • Beginning Land Records in Public Land States
  • Seeing the Patterns: Organizing Your Information
  • Barbara's Beaus and Gesche's Girls
  • Determining Your Own Migration Chain/Trail.
Copies can be ordered here at a reasonable rate--handout included. 

Read and Use Descriptions with Care

At the time of this writing the Illinois State Deaths and Stillbirths Index from 1916 to 1947 at contained a description indicating the database was only for Cook County records. It is statewide. This blog post discussed the error in more detail.

Take care with database descriptions. They were written by humans.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Almost Seeing the Card Images of Civil War and Later Pensions at Fold3

You can almost see the card image from the Civil War and Later Pensions at When you click on the "little" view, the card is partially legible--usually. The regiment and unit are displayed in the text and that would really be enough to order the pension from the National Archives.

A search for rampley brought up the following results in the Civil War and Later Pensions at Fold3.

Clicking on the "Quick Look" pulled up the image below:
On this "quick look" the name of the pensioner, and the state and unit can be seen...all without a membership. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Get a Genealogy Webinar for Free

Register for all our September and October 2011 upcoming webinars at once and get one free!

Topics include:

  • Court records
  • Land records in federal land states
  • Organizing information
  • and more!

To get the free webinar, order through this payment link. The  "one free" offer is not on the schedule page.

The schedule and system requirements can be viewed here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No Browse at FamilySearch Means No Images

There are a few databases in the "new" FamilySearch that have no images. Usually if you are unable to browse the records it means that there is an index only and no linked images. It took me entirely too long to figure this out for the 1855 Illinois State Census.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Get Your Old Revised State Statute Books

Many old copies of revised state statutes are available digitally for free on Google Books. Simply point your browser to and search for "youryear yourstate revised statutes" (or something similar) without the quotes.

You'll find more than you thought possible.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Google the Inlaws

Too many matches for your ancestor's name? Don't want to add locations or other search terms? Try searching for your ancestor and the name of a son-in-law or other relative. My search for "thomas rampley james shores" (without the quotes) brought up several hits--a few of which were totally new to me!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

US Pension Payment Cards on from 1907-1933

Here is a brief tutorial on how to use the pension payment cards for free on These cards are for military pensioners in the United States between 1907 and 1933. There's even a link to the PDF version of the National Archives descriptive pamphlet on these cards.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Global Spouse Searches At FamilySearch

Every few months or so, perform a search of your ancestor and his/her spouse at FamilySearch (use the advance feature to get the spouse box to show).You might be surprised at what you discover.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Genealogy Webinars in Sept and Oct of 2011

I'll be presenting a series of genealogy webinars in September and October using You don't have to "join" Gotowebinar or create an account--it's just what we use to bring the seminar to you. Viewing/participating instructions will be sent after registration, along with reminders.

Seminars are an hour long, include a PDF handout, and 30 minutes for questions. Topics are:

  • Court Records
  • Two German Women in Illinois
  • Seeing Patterns and Organizing Information
  • Determining Your Own Migration Trail
  • Introduction to Federal Land States
Attend from the comfort of your own home!

More information is available at

Location, Location, Location

When doing an advanced search at WorldConnect, try using only place of birth and death--no names. To make it a little easier, try just the county of birth/death. That way you'll get people who were born in one place and died in another.

Can be a good way to find others who might have had the same"beginning" and "ending" points as your ancestor.

Friday, September 2, 2011 and the Census

I've been experimenting with their census indexes. There is a post on my site for those who are interested. We will have follow up posts as warranted.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Does Google Search It and Differently?

I don't have an answer, just an observation I stumbled upon today.

I searched for "T M Trautvetter" at Google and received the results below:
One entry in the Clewiston News at the University of Florida's Newspaper collection.

I went to the University's site directly to search directly for "trautvetter," hoping to get additional results. Interesting thing was that I didn't get this result--just two others.

I don't have an immediate answer. I searched for a few OCR variants of Trautvetter, but none of those located it either.

Nearer My Search to Thee

In my own personal research, I use the newspaper archive at the Quincy, Illinois Public Library website. One of the search operators is "near" which allows me to specify how close my search terms need to be. If the search terms are ones that form a name, they need to be within a few words of each other.

The site allows me to search entering the <NEAR/3>, where the search term before and after the near have to be within 3 words of each other. The search for "James <NEAR/3> Rampley" (without the quotes) would most likely find all references to James Rampley, James R. Rampley, James Riley Rampley, Rampley James," etc.

Sites that don't have firstname lastname searches may allow the use of the "near" operator. Check out the help or FAQ of the site you are using for more information.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Living Residences in Obituaries With Keyword Searches

Whether you are searching modern obituaries at fee-based sites such as Genealogy Bank or at's obituary collection, try just keyword searches for names (or just last name) and the name of the city where they resided at the time their relative died.

I've found several this way--free obituary sites likely allow for keyword searches as well.

My "Daily" Blogs

For those who were not aware, I have three daily blogs:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Online Yearbooks Are Not Just About Students recently updated its Yearbook CollectionRemember that you won't only find teachers and students in these publications, you may find advertisements as well. So when searching these materials keep yourself open to the fact that your ancestor might have placed an advertisement in one of these publications. Sometimes ads contain good genealogical clues as well.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Look for the Living in Obituaries

Consider searching for the names of people you know are living in obituaries. A search for my parents (both living) in the current obituaries at Genealogy Bank resulted in two hits--my grandfather's obituary and my uncle's obituary. It wasn't anything I didn't already have, but it got me thinking that I could search for living people in the text of obituaries, hoping to find them listed as survivors.
These searches were performed as keyword searches--not in the names of the deceased.
At's obituary collection, make certain you have the "exact" box checked to get matches that include all the names you enter as keywords.

Back to School Casefile Clues offer 52 for 12

Sunday we're offering a year of my weekly newsletter Casefile Clues for $12. Samples can be downloaded as PDF files here:

Feel free to let others know about the offer--this blog post will be pulled late Sunday night--don't wait. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Not Every Day Anymore...

We're not changing our name (Genealogy Search Tip of the Day), but we are going non-daily as mentioned earlier to some subscribers.

I hate to "make" a tip just to have one for each and every day. So when something runs across my screen, my desk, or my mind that seems like a good tip--we'll put it here. Consequently there will be days when there isn't a tip.

But I don't want to "create" tips just because I HAVE to have one for that day.

Feel free to spread the news about Search Tip of the Day to others who may be interested.


Google Alert for that Address

If your ancestor was a city dweller, consider adding their street address to your set of Google alerts in your account at

Be a nice way to discover the house when it comes for sale, etc. and maybe increase the chance you get pictures.

This blog post mentions a newspaper article that gave me an address and when I googled it, I discovered the home was for sale, price, date built, pictures, etc.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Places at

A quick reminder for those who subscribe to and are searching based upon European locations.

My search of the 1880 census using Germany as a place of birth did not pick up individuals who listed Hanover as their place of birth. You have to be careful using European places of birth and frankly, trial and error is advised as sometimes what works today does not necessarily work tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011's Use of the SSDI

Users of's service to "integrate" Ancestry's data into their trees will want to remember that (at least as this post was written), classifies what is the "last residence" information on the SSDI as the "place of death" in your online tree.

Just to make you aware.

Here's a longer blog post about it .

Saturday, August 6, 2011

If You "Know" the County on a Census

If you are 99% certain of the county where someone lived in a census, consider searches without the first name. Unless the name is very common, I've taken to leaving the first name out--especially after it took me forever to find Harvey Butler written in 1850 as Hervey.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Smihts in That Database?

Have you considered the possibility of transposition errors when searching that online database? Is there any chance that Smith was entered as Smiht?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Are You Saving Your Searches?

Create some type of document where you can track your websearches, particularly any "creative" ones you use at search engines such as Google, etc. You'll never remember later ones you searched for and reviewing the ones you have done will help you to see where they could possibly be tweaked to get better results.

You might even want to consider posting them to a blog so any really bored genealogists could offer suggestions.

That's not likely to happen--but keeping track of them is an excellent idea. You might even want to connect with another genealogist and compare search strategies.

Friday, July 29, 2011

School's Out Blowout-Get Year 1 of Casefile Clues Back Issues for $10!

To celebrate the end of summer school for me, we're offering a discounted rate on year 1 issues of my newsletter Casefile Clues.

Grow your genealogy, see how problems are solved, sources analyzed, and information organized. We focus on showing the method, not just the one way that worked to solve the problem. Our concentration is on clear writing that explains process.

Topics from Year 1 can be viewed here--click back to view this offer page.

Consider Making A Blog

One of the best ways to create "cousin bait" is to create your own blog. You can post content as often as you want, only post what you are comfortable with, include images, etc.

The blog will appear in search engine results and you may locate family members who simply googled a relative's name.

And some will find your site, copy the information, and never ever contact you. If that's a concern, think twice before you post.

Just remember that there are people with a passing interest in their genealogy who are not active in online genealogy groups, societies, message boards,, FamilySearch, etc.

Saturday, July 23, 2011 Submitters Who Don't Respond

I often contact submitters of the online trees at, hoping to make a connection with someone researching the same family.

But don't be surprised if many do not respond. Some apparently have lost interest. Others may take a while to respond and there may be others who are not quite as interested in family history as you are even though they respond.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Indiana Marriage Index to 1850

Housed at the Indiana State Library, this index covers up through 1850. Wildcards are not used, but partial names can be entered, which serves the same purpose. Searching for Wil New is advised when searching for a name such as William Newman.

Soundex is not supported, so be clever with those names and keep in mind alternate spellings.

The searches can be conducted with only one letter in each box--at least when this tip was written. That's really neat as most sites do not allow that.

The database is located here

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chronicling America-Free Digital Newspapers at Library of Congress

3.6 million newspaper pages from newspapers across the United States can be searched on the Library of Congress site

Give it a try if it has been a while.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wild Cards At Family Search

Don't forget that you can use wildcards at FamilySearch too. I was having an awful time finding Mary Demar/Desmarais in the 1892 NY State Census until I remembered that an * works on this site as well.
Screen shot below--but wildcards usually aren't too hard to figure out!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Searching Arizona Deaths for Parents

Death certificates for Arizona are online until 1960. Searches will also search for names of parents--I almost missed this when I saw the search site the first time.

A great way to locate relatives who might have moved out of state and the database and certificate images are free at

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Second Look And Some Time

Are you taking a second look at things? Maybe even waiting a while in between looks? Sometimes reading or analyzing something a day or even a few hours later may make the obvious stand out. Give yourself some time.

This census entry from Davis County, Iowa, originally had me wondering what the entry on line 9 was. Coming back 5 minutes later, it was obvious to me that it was Mary. Sometimes a little time is what you need.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Back to the Original

Have you tracked that online source back to the original record from which is was compiled or digitized? It is often advised to track digital images to determine the original record from which they were created. Some history of the document is always a good thing to know. and FamilySearch have a wonderful set of indexes to actual materials, but sometimes their descriptions of those materials are lacking.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

17.76 Discount on Casefile Clues

In honor of the holiday, we're offering a July4th Special on Casefile Clues--$17.76 for a year and twenty issues from Year 2 (issues 20-40).That's essentially 20 free issues. Jump start your research for less than one tank of gas. 

Offer good through midnight 5 July for those who were actually celebrating the holiday and not on the internet.

Topics here:

  • Volume 2-Number 20--Just One Wife Who Shaves Her Age. Records hinted that a man might have had more than one wife. Despite age discrepancies and first name variations, we've likely proven that there was just one wife.
  • Volume 2-Number 21--1930 Census: Primary, Secondary, Original, Derivative, Direct and Indirect. You'll never look at a census entry the same way again-also shows how in this case, New York became Kentucky
  • Volume 2-Number 22--Finding the Biegers in 1850. Organizing our search and our negative search results in an attempt to find a German immigrant living in Cincinnati in 1850.
  • Volume 2-Number 23--Separating Two George Butlers--working on two men born in Michigan in the same year with a father of the same name.
  • Volume 2-Number 24-A Minor Naturalization
  • Volume 2-Number 25-Genealogical Potpourri
  • Volume 2-Number 26-Looking for Benjamin-Formulating a Census Search
  • Volume 2-Number 27-An 1849 Cash Land Sale
  • Volume 2-Number 28-From 1820-1870 Analyzing Enoch Tinsley's Census Entries
  • Volume 2-Number 29-Middle Name Issues: Finding Henry J. Fecht in 1870 and Passenger Lists
  • Volume 2-Number 30-The Master Reports--An Assignment of Homestead and Dower in the 1890s
  • Volume 2-Number 31-The Parents Sell 10 Acres-an 1880 era land transaction
  • Volume 2-Number 32-Clues from a Pig Murder--an 1820 era Kentucky Court Case
  • Volume 2-Number 33-Civil War Pension Application-Why My Name's Different
  • Volume 2-Number 34-Staying Focused on Divorces and a German Immigrant
  • Volume 2-Number 35-Strategies for a 1820 New York Birth
  • Volume 2-Number 36-First Appearing in an 1847 Marriage
  • Volume 2-Number 37-The Chattel Property Will from Maryland
  • Volume 2-Number 38-6 Marriages, Four Divorces, and Naming All My Siblings-a Civil War Pension File
  • Volume 2-Number 39-A Guardianship from 1870s Documents "of age" children.
  • Volume 2-Number 40-Moving Mother's Inheritance-18th century women's property rights discussion

Take advantage of our $17.76 offer today.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Minnesota Birth Index

The certificates themselves are not online, but the index from 1900 through 1934 is searchable and users can "play" with a variety of search terms, including last name and mother's maiden name.

I probably won't order the records, but I was able to find entries for several cousins using this database at Combining last name at birth with mother's maiden name I found particularly effective.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where to Make Google Alerts

The place to get started creating Google alerts is here: 

It is best to create a Google account to do this, if you do not already have one. It might be good to brush up on a few advanced google search techniques:

Monday, June 27, 2011

How Often Do You Google?

Put a google search on your list for every "stuck" person you have. There will be some for whom you do not find anything ,but there will be others for whom you make significant finds.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Search DAR Database for more than Patriots

Not only does the NSDAR Database allow you to search for patriots, you can also search for other ancestors of members. This search was conducted to search for Archibald Kile, born in Ohio in 1812. The results located him and his wife, one of his children and his father who supposedly was a patriot. All of this will have to be validated, but it was a good clue.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Was The Data Entry "Standardized?"

When some companies index various records, they "standardize" parts of the entry, instead of transcribing it exactly as it appears.

Hence, the abbreviation "Ca" for a place of birth might become "California." The problem is that it could also stand for Canada.

Have you thought about this when searching?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Searching for Birth Place of Parents in 1880 At

Do you know how to search for people living in a certain place who were born in a certain place with a parent born in another place in the 1880 census?

The search interface at for the 1880 allows this (at least in a roundabout way). You can set a search to be for people born in an exact place, living in an exact location and then use the "key word" search feature to search for the place of birth for the mother or father.

I still liked the way this was done on the 1880 CDs the LDS church put out years ago, but I guess this is better than nothing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How Do They Treat Middle Initials?

Find out how databases treat middle names and initials. Not every database incorporates this piece of information in the same fashion.

Read the site's FAQ or experiment.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Image Suggestions at Google

Some last names do not lend themselves to quick google searches. Here are some modifications to consider when searching for images at

  • john lake cemetery
  • john lake tombstone
  • john lake chariton cemetery
  • thomas frame chicago cemetery
  • thomas frame tombstone chicago

Feel free to post additional suggestions to this entry. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Need Michigan Township Names and Numbers

This PDF map from Michigan Department of Natural Resources has Michigan names and the township and range numbers. Wonderful resource, particularly if you are using the Bureau of Land Management website.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Google Image Search for Ancestral Names

Have you performed just an image search at google for your ancestor? For names that are unusual, just use the name. For other names, try adding a county name, town name, etc. and see what results you obtain. You may find more images than you think.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Read That List of Contents

Have you read the list of sources for a database if it is available? The Illinois State Archives pre-1916 death certificate index includes a list of counties and time periods currently included at Always determine if such a bibliography is available.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Names With Apostrophes?

Databases do not always handle names with apostrophes in the same way. O'Neill may be entered in a database as ONeill or O'Neill. Make certain you search both ways or find out how these names are handled.

Friday, June 17, 2011


If you haven't tried Linkpendium's search box, give it a whirl. Like most, it finds uncommon names most easily, but other searches may bring forth results as well.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I generally always use the advanced search form for searching the Social Security Death Index, either at Rootsweb or one of a variety of free online sites.

I don't often search for last benefit city or residence, unless I am absolutely certain of it. And even then, I usually only put in the county or state and see if I get the desired results.

The SSDI is on a variety of sites for free--don't pay for it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When Was the Last Time You Tried Rootsweb?

How long has it been since you tried a search for your ancestor(s) at Rootsweb? If it has been a while, you might want to give it a go here

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Try Unusual Names in Twitter

Some genealogists love twitter--some hate it. Consider searching at for some of your more unsual names. I found a few Trautvetter, Ufkes, and Rampley relatives using it.

Smith and Brown, not so much.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Check Multiple Indexes

On FamilySearch, always determine if there are separate indexes to the same or similar records. For example, there are two finding aids for Indiana marriages:

There are other states with similar situations on FamilySearch.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Card File Index to New York Passenger Lists 1820-1846

Family Search put this National Archives card file index on their site recently. Perhaps the card index will index a name differently from,, etc. Give it a try.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wolfram Alpha Makes Quick Cousin Charts

Want to quickly see how third cousins twice removed are related? Type that phrase "third cousins twice removed" into the search box at

The site will do lots of math stuff too (grin), but the relationship chart is neat as well.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Old State Statute Books on WorldCat

You won't find actual images (usually) but if searches elsewhere have not located old copies of state statute books, try searching on Worldcat http:// These are best located using an advanced search and setting publication years to before 1900.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ignore the Umlaut?

When searching an English-language site or database, you generally can just drop the dots.

Hüls can be searched for by using Huls.

You may be able to impress your friends by making the umlaut appear on your keyboard, but it is usually not necessary to use it as a search term.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Viewing Civil War Pension Index Free at Footnote

A paid account at is not required to view the Civil War and Later Pension Index at An account is required to view the image of the card.

However, using the index, even without an account, will tell you the unit and name of the man/woman who received a pension. That's enough to order the pension from the National Archives.

If you've never played with the index before, give it a try. If you're not certain you are navigating correctly, experiment with Company D of the 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. (click on Illinois, then infantry, then regiment 78, then company D, waiting every time and then waiting for the names to load).

You should see:

  • Riley Rampley
  • John Rampley, his brother
  • Eli Short (who testified in Riley's pension)
  • Milford Maulove (actually Wilford Manlove, who testified in Riley's pension). 
If you have difficulty, post a response here. To see the cards, you need a membership. To see the index you don't. At least when this post was written (grin!).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How Complete is that Database?

Some databases and sets of data are released in stages. Are they still "in process" when you search them? That could explain why the desired person could not be found.

Read the FAQ, "More about this Databases," etc.--that's where you may find information about just how "in process" the database is.

End of Casefile Clues Beginners $7.50 Rate

Effective 8 June 2011, we'll be ending the $7.50 6 month rate for Casefile Clues Beginners. To facilitate bookkeeping, we'll be accepting year-long subscriptions for $17.00.

If you'd like to try Casefile Clues Beginners, subscribe before the change goes into effect.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Query Your Database-Not Your Head

When you learn about a new database or resource, how do you decide for whom to search in that database? Do you pick names out of your head?

It might be a better plan to perform a search of your genealogy database for individuals who meet criteria indicating they may be in the database. When released the Civil War Draft Registrations, searching for men in your database born between the high end and the low end of the registration ages would have been a good idea.

Join Michael at the Allen County Public Library in Ft Wayne

There is still time and room to join me on my annual research trip to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. We have a great time and work on problem-solving and research while the library is open.

For more information visit our original blog post at

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Browse those Subject Headings

Don't forget when you find a useful book in an online library card catalog, browse for other books that have the same subject headings. Usually these are clickable links.

Interesting materials that you never thought to look for can sometimes be found this way.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Looking for a Living Relative Who Is a Notary?

Are you looking for a living relative who is a notary public? Illinois, Rhode Island, and Texas have online listings through their Secretary of State websites:
I found these by performing a google search for "mystate public notary search" (without the quotes). Make certain you are on an official government site (typically the Secretary of State's office) and not a fee-based site. Readers who find others are welcome to post them as followups to this blog post.

Some states provide addresses--some don't.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Searching The Family History Library Card Catalog

I like the related places feature of the "old" Family History Library Card Catalog. That is the feature of the old catalog that allows me to see what a place is a part of and what places it contains. The new catalog does not do that--at least not yet.

Here's a link to the "related places" page for Knox County, Illinois.

Try it for your own locations. One should always be looking for possible records cataloged in regions larger or smaller than the one you thought to search for in the catalog.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

US Newspaper Directory

Have you searched the US Newspaper Directory at the Library of Congress (

Users can also see a list of newspapers digitized through this project here:

Keep in mind that other websites (fee and free) may also have digitized newspapers not mentioned here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Notifications Enabled for Members?

If you are an member, do you have notifications enabled for images or documents you've put in your shoebox or connected to one of your ancestors or family members?

I only link or store documents on those people who I'm "stuck" on--otherwise there would be too many. then sends me a notification when someone else links to the document.

A nice way to connect with others researching the same line.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Database Transcription Policy at Illinois State Archives

Users of databases are reliant upon transcribers to enter information. The Illinois State Archives website has an interesting page entitled "ISA Database Transcription Policy." Give it a look.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Google Advanced Search

Are you using Google's advanced search?

It allows you to craft better searches than just the main page. You can combine exact phrase searches with "all these words," specific domain searches, don't show pages with certain words, etc.

These things can be done from the main Google page (usually) but the advanced search makes it easier.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Searching on is not always the easiest site to search in my opinion. I usually browse using the main page until I get to the era I want for the database I'm searching. Then when I'm on that specific database, I search just that database. Personally I rarely search the entire database because I am not happy with the ways to refine searches. 

If you've had difficulty using you might want to try searching specific databases instead of the whole site. Even that has problems, but I've generally had better luck tackling specific databases.