21 September 2006

Improved census images at Ancestry.com

I went back today and compared a scan I did of an 1841 UK census entry with the entry at Ancestry.com. The different was outstanding. I remember spending HOURS upon HOURS looking for the family originally when barely half the census page could be read. The images at Ancestry.com were enhanced and are a significant improvement over what I got from the microfilm.

The images are not the same size, but there is no doubt which one is better.

Take a look:



My problem with delayed birth certificates

It is always more difficult when things do not make sense.

My great-grandmother-in-law had four children born in Chicago early in the twentieth century. The oldest two have delayed birth certificates which incorrectly state they were twins (filed on different days no less), the third has no birth certificate, and the youngest has a relatively correct certificate filed at the time of his birth in 1914 in Chicago.

We've posted the images to our site

along with an article discussing the records:


Confusion is frustrating and on a positive note, challenging.


20 September 2006

FGS 2007 UFO Ancestors Lecture for $1.99 at lulu.com

My "UFO Ancestors" lecture from the FGS conference in Boston has been posted on lulu.com and can be downloaded for $1.99. It was there all along and I missed it...why? Because I did a "find on page" for my last name "neill" and that's NOT how my name got spelled on the site. It listed as "neil" but it is me.


See? Even genealogists spell names incorrectly sometimes ;-(


17 September 2006

FGS 2007 Searching lecture posted for $1.99 download at lulu.com

Those who missed the recent FGS conference in Boston can download recordings of most of the lectures from the lulu site. My Searching Techniques lecture has been posted at:


Downloads are only $1.99. Hopefully my UFO ancestors lecture will be uploaded in the near future.


14 September 2006

My Irish Problem

The Annie Moore story got me to thinking about my own Irish Annie:

Annie Murphy....

I know little about her other than she was born in Ireland ca. 1840 and was in St. John New Brunswick in 1865 when she married Samuel Neill. Samuel (and his brother Joseph) left for Hancock County, Illinois, around 1870, where many of their descendants still live today.

Annie is not known to have had any family move with her to Illinois. Any suggestions are welcomed. Anyone wanting to know what little more I know about the Neills can see more information on the site.

First Person Through Ellis Island

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (with some help) has found the true story of the first immigrant through Ellis Island. The results were featured in the New York Times


Of course, New York had millions of immigrants through Castle Garden before Ellis Island....the story of the research into Annie Moore is interesting, but basically boils down to two things:
  • don't assume previous research and conclusions are true
  • research the siblings

13 September 2006

Ancestry.com sweepstakes

Ancestry is having a sweepstakes to visit your ancestral homeland. You might want to give it a try by entering. The only problem is that you already have to know the country where your ancestor came from. Heck, if they could just tell me where my Ira Sargent was born, I wouldn't even bother with the trip. ;-)

12 September 2006

1856 Probate Manual

A few years ago I wrote a column about an 1856 Illinois probate manual. While this might seem like really dry reading, genealogists can benefit greatly from reviewing such material in detail. An understanding of applicable inheritance and probate laws can prevent one from making incorrect conclusions and suggest when additional follow up may be needed with other records.

The article can be linked to at:



11 September 2006

Genealogy Computer Workshops in 2007

The details of our 9th annual Genealogy Computing Week have been released. 2007 will be the 9th year Carl Sandburg College has offered a week of computer genealogy workshops.

This year our offerings include:
Using Genline for Swedish Research
Using Ancestry.com
Promoting, Preserving and Publishing Your Information
Military Research Online

Our week of workshops begin on 5 March 2007.

We have had attendees come from 10 states over the past nine years. We try to offer day long sessions not usually seen at national conferences. Our registration fee per day is around $35, which is the same as it was the year we started the workshops.

More information can be found at:



08 September 2006

Family History Day-St. Charles, MO 4 Nov 2006

I will be presenting the Family History workshop in the St. Charles, Missouri, area on 4 November 2006. This all-day event is sponsored by the St. Charles County Genealogical Society and the St. Charles Community College.

More information can be found at:


Registration is very reasonable.


07 September 2006

Lecture Downloads FGS 06

Many of the lectures at the recent FGS 2006 conference in Boston were recorded and can be downloaded to your computer, ipod, etc. at a very reasonable cost. So far, only the Wednesday lectures have been downloaded, but more are on the way.


We'll post an update when later sessions are added.


05 September 2006

FGS 07 in Ft. Wayne

The Federation of Genealogical Societies' 2006 conference in Boston is barely over and some of us have already focused our attention on next year's conference.

In 2007, FGS travels to Ft. Wayne, home of the Allen County Public Library, which will be showcasing not only its outstanding genealogy collection, but also its extensively expanded and remodeled digs.

The conference will be held at the Grand Wayne Center - Fort Wayne, Indiana, August 15-18, 2007. Mark your calendars now. A wonderful choice of sessions, extended hours for the library, and an exhibit hall full of genealogical wares await those who join us in 2007.

More information will be posted on the FGS website as it is developed.



02 September 2006

Proposed change in NARA hours

At the recent FGS 2006 Conference in Boston, the Records Preservation and Access Committee (http://www.fgs.org/rpa/) announced their concern over changes in the hours in the research rooms at the National Archives. This concern was conveyed to Dr. Allen Weinstein in a letter from David Rencher, Chair of the Records Preservation and Access Committee.

These changes would eliminate evening hours at the National Archives.
These changes would eliminate Saturday hours at the National Archives.

Many genealogists who travelt to DC to research rely on these evening and Saturday hours to reach their research objectives.

You can read (and sign) an online petition opposing these changes at:

You can learn more about the Records Preservation and Access Committee at: