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.