In Memoriam 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Friday, May 17th, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

It is with the deepest sadness and a profound sense of loss that we report the death of our friend and colleague Carolyn L. Barkley.

Carolyn was the creative force behind our blog,, but she was so much more. She wrote hundreds of articles for the blog, always emphasizing both the conventional and the most current electronic sources and techniques bearing on the topics. Many of her articles were rated by other bloggers as the “best of the week” on the Internet.

Carolyn also wore many other professional hats. She was a master indexer, who indexed a number of our recent reference works, including Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607-1625, by Martha W. McCartney. Carolyn was a longtime staff member of the exhibits at the annual National Genealogical Society conferences and other trade shows. She served as president of a number of genealogical societies and other organizations throughout Virginia. In her professional life Carolyn was a distinguished librarian, who served thirty years as the head of the central Virginia Beach Public Library before retiring.

Above all, Carolyn was a wonderful human being. Quick to smile and possessing a hearty laugh, Carolyn was that rare combination of organizational whiz and kind personal friend. She got things done and she inspired and cared about others. We will miss her immensely.

Reprinted below is the obituary for Carolyn Barkley that appeared in a recent issue of The Virginia Pilot newspaper.

Carolyn L. Barkley (1947-2013)
Virginia Beach – Carolyn Linda (Lopes) Barkley, 65, of Wintergreen, VA passed away on Sunday, May 12, 2013 at Augusta Health. Born December 16, 1947 in Springfield, MA, she was the daughter of the late Olivio and Lois (Smith) Lopes. She was the granddaughter of Clifford F. Smith, long time City Clerk of Springfield, and Mildred Carolyn Abbe. In addition to her grandparents and parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, William L. Barkley, in 2010. Carolyn earned her B.A. from Wellesley College and her Masters in Library Science from the University of Pittsburgh. She was employed by the Virginia Beach Department of Public Libraries for over thirty years. After her retirement, Carolyn continued to work as a freelance editor and researcher. She spent much of her time traveling. Carolyn has been the genealogist for Clan Barclay International, served as President of the St. Andrew’s Society of Tidewater, the Scottish Society of Tidewater, the Virginia Beach Genealogical Society, the Virginia Library Association and many more too numerous to list. Most recently, Carolyn was President of the Wintergreen Nature Foundation. Survivors include her son, Kelley, and his wife, Kimberly (Murray) Powell, of Roanoke; granddaughters Megan Murray, Samantha Kate Powell and Mackenzie Grace Powell, all of Roanoke. A celebration of life service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, at the Waynesboro Chapel of Reynolds Hamrick Funeral Homes, 618 W. Main St., Waynesboro, VA, with Pastor Matthew Coiner officiating. The family will receive friends following the service. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to donate may make donations to the Wintergreen Nature Foundation, R.R. 1, Box 770, Roseland, VA 22967. Relatives and friends may share condolences and memories with the family online by visiting

Published in The Virginian Pilot on May 15, 2013


Searching for Your Collegiate Ancestor 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

With the advent of May, many families are busily planning to attend the graduation exercises for various family members. Such occasions prompt us to consider the role of a college education in the lives of our ancestors. In my own family, my mother, father and I are the only individuals who have a college education, my father and I proceeding on to receive masters’ degrees. The generational immediacy of college attendance and graduation in my family may not be unusual. There are, however, families for whom the opportunity, and perhaps the expectation, that each generation would attend a college or university was commonplace, with offspring registered at birth.

Looking for college records may often be an overlooked step in family research, but it is an important possibility to entertain as we seek to learn more about our ancestor’s lives.

My first experience with collegiate records was during a trip to the National Archives of Scotland (then called the Scottish Record Office) some years ago. At the time I was actively compiling content for the Barclay One-Name Study (now the Barclay Genealogical Database). During the course of my several days in Edinburgh, I discovered a book in a reference section listing many years of graduates of Aberdeen University. As the northeast of Scotland is an area populated by many Barclays, I happily transcribed a long list of graduates for the one-name study (and somewhere in a pile under the eaves that transcribed list awaits the light of day).

What sources are available today if you wish to look for collegians in your family research?

  • School Alumni Lists. This online database is hosted by Rootsweb and includes 284,672 records that encompass 65,350 distinct surnames. The content derives by submissions from visitors to the site. In searching the site, one can perform both general surname and specific surname/given name searches. A surname search for “Barclay” provided a list of thirteen names dating from 1909 to 1979 from schools in Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Oregon, New York, and Minnesota. It is important to note that not all entries are at the collegiate level. Of the thirteen Barclay entries, only one was from an institution of higher education (VPI/Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia); the rest of the entries recorded high schools. A surname search for “Barkley” produced a list of ten names; again, the majority of the entries were for high school. However, one 1948 entry for Purdue University provided additional information including the residence of the individual; the date, time and location of the graduation ceremony; the name of the then president of the university; and the source of the information. I came by this additional information by clicking on the “more information” link.
  • School Alumni Lists at DistantCousin. This site provides access to a “free online archive of school alumni records (Yearbooks, alumni publications, etc.) and scanned images from publications concerning school alumni.” A surname search is possible or you can browse alumni lists by location. My standard “Barclay” surname search identified twelve entries including four Barclays (digitized full-text page images) who appeared on page 34 of the Directory of Former Students of Harvard Living in 1919. That entry included years of attendance and address. An entry in the 1913 Alumni Record of the University of Illinois for an individual from the class of 1887 included the individual’s degree, date and place of birth, parents’ names, marriage date and name of spouse, children’s names and birth dates, and address at the time of publication. I also looked for a Barclay cited in the Vassar College Class of 1925, but was unable to find the referenced entry.
  • Ancestry. A card catalog search for “alumni” provided a list of twenty-two links, not all of them pertaining to colleges or universities. Among them, however, are two interesting British databases spanning many centuries: Cambridge University Alumni 1261-1900 and Oxford University 1500-1886. The fifty-four Barclays included in the Cambridge database represented several colleges, with Trinity the most prevalent Barclay affiliation. By contrast only twelve Barclays were listed in the Oxford database.
  • Cyndi’s List. A search for “yearbooks and annuals” produced 156 links to sites, including yearbooks and alumni organizations and resources. One of the most extensive is the Dead Fred Genealogy Photo Archive. Some links point to school specific sites such as the Case Western Reserve University University Archives Student Yearbook Collection (Cleveland, Ohio), with yearbooks dating from 1867.
  • Family History Library. A subject search for “alumni” in the Family History Library Catalog  provided a list of forty-nine titles, including such interesting ones as Necrology of Alumni of Harvard College; Princetonians: a Biographical Dictionary; The Historical Catalogue of the University of Mississippi 1849-1909, and the provocative Yale’s Confederates: a Biographical Dictionary. If you happen to know your ancestor’s specific college or university, a Google search will assist you in identifying available resources.
  • Notable Alumni by College. If you have a famous person in your family, you will want to check this site. It claims to offer a “complete directory of famous alumni, listed by individual school. Photos and metadata are included in each famous student’s list – although to be clear, the lists are not definitive for graduates, but rather include all notable students who attended a school at one time, not just the prominent alums who graduated with a degree.” You can scroll through an alphabetical listing of famous and not-so famous colleges, universities, and high schools. Included are such surprising (at least to me) entries as Prince Albert II of Monaco, listed under Notable Amherst College Alumni/Students.
  • Printed lists and indices. In addition to the wide range of online databases and archival resources, you will also want to search for printed compilations of alumni information. A recent example is Jean L. Cooper’s Index of Students of the University of Virginia, 1825-1874 (Shortwood Press, 2011), which contained the following entry:

Surname: Barclay; First name: Shepard; Middle Name: _____; Home City/County: Saint Louis; Home State: Missouri; Session Number: 44 and 45.” (A table identifies those particular sessions as occurring between 1 October 1867 and 1 July 1869.)

Talking with family members and reviewing family documents and photographs may document a college or university graduate in your family. Then, with the help of available print and online sources, you may be able to tell the story of the academic life and experiences of your ancestor.

NERGC – Conference Summary 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Saturday, April 20th, 2013 by Carolyn L. | No Comments

by Carolyn L. Barkley

By the end of the third day of any conference, my brain needs some quiet down time in order to process all of the new information to which I’ve been exposed; my feet hurt; I have finally figured out the layout for the conference meeting spaces. I have found that such feelings are shared by almost every conference attendee with whom I have ever talked. Even though I am tired, however, I am re-energized and filled with enthusiasm to return home and apply new methodologies to a few of my research problems.

I believe that genealogists, almost more than any group I know, are committed to continuing education. New skills and knowledge of new resources help us to continue our search for information with which to discover and share the stories of our ancestors. National genealogical conferences may fall outside of the financial resources of many genealogists, particularly when the cost of travel is factored into the total. Regional conferences such as NERGC, however, are the perfect vehicles to provide geographically-focused education at a reasonable cost. In my experience, the quality of the lectures offered at NERGC is comparable to that of the lectures at NGS or FGS, with several nationally-recognized experts invited to speak in addition to state and local experts.

In addition, regional conferences offer local and regional societies and historic institutions an opportunity to recruit members and gain recognition with regard to their collections. With over 850 in attendance, I would hope that many of the societies represented at NERGC were able to offer their expertise to those visiting their tables and gained new members. Volunteers from such institutions also provide innumerable hours of work resulting in well-run, enjoyable conferences. Couple these experiences with opportunities to network with others attending or speaking, and the cost becomes priceless. Just at this conference in New Hampshire alone, I met an individual from my home state of Virginia who asked me to speak at his local society in 2014; met an individual from my native state of Massachusetts who went to the high school where my father taught; and met several of this blogs readers. My friend and roommate was able to make an Italian research connection that will help continue work she began in Salt Lake City last month, as well as information that will assist her in “Jane Doe” research begun as part of her participation in the Boston University Genealogy Research Program.

Conferences such as NERGC are a bargain at the cost. Be aware of similar opportunities scheduled in your area and support them through your attendance and volunteer efforts. You will be the better genealogist for having done so – and you’ll have lots of fun.


NERGC – Day 2 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Friday, April 19th, 2013 by Carolyn L. | No Comments

by Carolyn L. Barkley

My favorite experience from this second day of the New England Regional Genealogical Conference was my early morning lecture entitled “Where the Waters Meet – Exploring Greater Quabbin’s History and Natural History,” which was presented by Michael Tougias, author of several books about New England history and natural history.

The morning started out well with my purchase of Tougias’ Quabbin: A History and Explorers Guide. That action precipitated one of those wonderful “small world moments” that always seem to happen when least expected. As I was waiting to have the book autographed, I heard Michael comment that he was from Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Well, my ears definitely perked up at that, as I grew up in East Longmeadow, the very next town! I just had to share that information with him, as well as the fact that my father had been head of the English Department at Longmeadow High School. (Michael looked about the right age to perhaps have been one of his students.) He searched his memory and acknowledged that, although he had never had my father as a teacher, he did indeed know of him. What a small world it was at that moment this morning in Manchester, New Hampshire!

The Quabbin Reservoir is a sight well-known to any Massachusetts native driving between Worcester and Springfield. What these drivers may not know, however, is the history of the creation of this body of water and the history that was lost in the process.

The growth of the City of Boston, some sixty-five miles to the east, is intrinsically tied to the creation of the reservoir. The city’s rapid growth continually required it to find new and larger sources of water for its populace. By 1896, a metropolitan water district had been created and the search for an additional water source had begun to focus on the sparsely populated and largely agrarian “Three Rivers” area along the Swift, Millers and Ware Rivers. By 1919, the Metropolitan District Water Supply Commission had been created and the scrutiny of the Three Rivers area had become more intense. Eventually, the Swift River Act of 1927 authorized the construction of the massive public works project that would become known as Quabbin Reservoir.

The statistics for Quabbin Reservoir, one of the largest man-made public water supplies in the United States, indicate that it is eighteen miles in length, has a maximum depth of 151 feet, and a capacity of 412 billion gallons. Built at a cost of $53 billion, water was first dammed in 1939 and the first water flowed into Boston in 1941. What those sterile figures cannot convey, however, is the human cost of the construction. The history illustrating that cost is particularly interesting to any of us who may have had ancestors from the several towns lost due to the reservoir’s creation –  ancestors like my great-great-great grandmother, Lucy (DeWitt) Smith, who died in Enfield on 9 November 1861. (I must admit that in my early years of research, I incorrectly thought that she died in Enfield, Connecticut, rather than Enfield, Massachusetts – realizing my error led to much more exciting research opportunities!). I would very much like to know more about her as she is one of my female line brick walls.

Several towns were disincorporated and flooded in 1938 as the waters of the rivers began to be build up behind the new dams. These towns included Dana in Worcester County, and Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott, all in Hampshire County. Any land in these towns that remained unflooded was merged into surrounding towns such as Belchertown, Pelham, Petersham, Hardwick, and Ware. During construction of the reservoir, 7,500 graves were relocated and 2500 people (650 homes) were displaced; every building was dismantled. In some cases, houses were purchased and moved; in other cases, they were bulldozed into their foundations and covered up. Today, only the stonework is visible in those areas above water, as for example, is the Dana town common.

The history of these towns presents a series of interesting obstacles for any researcher, including identifying the present location of their town records. My future search for Lucy will need to determine if all land originally within Enfield’s borders was flooded, and if not, with what neighboring towns did specific portions become merged? Deed research into land owned by both the Smith and DeWitt (sometimes alternatively written as Witt or De Witt) families will need to place their farms accurately within the confines of Enfield to determine if their farms were part of the land that was flooded or land that was merged into another town. I do not know where Lucy (or her husband) were buried, but their names are not listed on Find a Grave for Quabbin Park Cemetery in Ware, Massachusetts, where almost 90 per cent of the relocated graves were located at the time of the reservoir’s construction. Perhaps the land research will help identify other possible cemeteries where their graves might be found.

More information on the Quabbin area can be found by visiting the Quabbin Visitor Center at 485 Ware Road in Belchertown (Hampshire Co.), Massachusetts, and the Swift River Historical Society, located at 40 Elm Street, in New Salem (Franklin Co.), Massachusetts, and  Friends of Quabbin, Inc. Town records are available at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. Print resources include Elizabeth Peirce’s The Lost Towns of Quabbin Valley (MA) (Arcadia, 2003) and Quabbin Valley: People and Places (Arcadia, 2006); Thomas Conuel’s Quabin, the Accidental Wilderness (Univ. of Mass Press, 1990); and J.R. Green’s The Day Four Quabbin Towns Died (J.R. Greene, 2001).

Clearly, I have a new impetus for tackling my Lucy (DeWitt) Smith brick wall once again. Now to find the time!

NERGC Day 1 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, April 18th, 2013 by Carolyn L. | No Comments

by Carolyn L. Barkley

I’m writing this evening from my hotel room in Manchester, New Hampshire, at the end of day one of the New England Regional Genealogical Conference: “Woven in History – the Fabric of New England.” Although I have lived in Virginia for many years (with brief stops in Pennsylvania and West Virginia along the way), my roots are in New England, Massachusetts and Connecticut specifically. Therefore, it is particularly exciting to be surrounded by so many people (word is that registration is more than 850) who are researching in the same general geographical area.

The opening general session, “Millhand Migrations to 19th Century Lawrence and Lowell,” was presented by Sandra MacLean Clunies. It provided an excellent introduction to the conference theme. I was attracted to the topic as my Portuguese grandfather was a loom mechanic in a New Bedford cotton mill (where my grandmother was also employed), albeit in the 1920s. This lecture began what turned out to be a “day about the ladies,” as I attended sessions about research concerning the women in our families.

I was particularly interested in Ms. Clunies’ information about the New England farm daughters, aged 16-25, who were recruited to work in the mills of Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts, in the early and mid-1800s. So many “answered the call” that by 1831, 39,000 women were employed in the several mills that were in operation by that time, mills – Pacific Mills, Atlantic Mills, the Pemberton Mill, and the Merrimack Mill, among others.

Awareness of this movement of young women from the farm to the mill might prove very important to your research. For example, you are searching in the 1830 or 1840 census for one of the New England states and are trying to compare the children’s names and ages you previously have documented in a particular family with the number of children of each gender and age category for a specific head of household identified in the census. You might analyze the enumerated children , however, and assume that the family was not the correct one due to one or more missing females who you expecteto find listed in the age categories 15 to 20 or 20 to 30. If, however, you had been previously aware of the textile recruitment programs and the number of young women who subsequently became employed in the industry, however, your criteria for analysis could be adjusted accordingly.

A lecture by Laura Prescott, “Spinsters and Widows: Gender Loyalty within Families,” provided my second look into research about our female ancestors. This lecture began by outlining the trends affecting women in the nineteenth century: migrational, educational, intellectual, literary, social, industrial, and legal. We often consider “spinster” a slightly perjorative term, however a spinster has had many definitions over time. Ms. Prescott shared the “Spinsters Numeration Table,” originally published in The Idler, and Breakfast-Table Companion (13 January 1838; available now on Google Books) with its humorous look into such definitions.The article states, “…it is from seventeen, however, that the numerals figuring the age of our spinster friends become emblematical of their persons and qualifications…the spinster of 17 – vast notions of a love-match. Enthusiastic… [age] 21 – beginning to understand the meaning of the word younger brother. Anxious to postpone my sister’s debut…28 – Nose a little red before breakfast. Thinks it possible to marry a widower…31 – Waist increase, smiles diminished by a speck upon a front tooth…34 – Flattered by the attentions of a boy of eighteen…” The observations continue until age 55 when, perhaps, an unmarried woman was considered hopeless with regard to her marital future. More serious and significant to our female line research, however, is the fact that the term “spinster,” more than describing a woman’s marital status, may instead describe her legal status as a woman with her own rights and property, a woman who was responsible for herself. (Christina Schaeffer’s Hidden Half of the Family (1999, Genealogical Publishing Co., reprinted 2008) provides a state-by-state listing of women’s rights and when pertinent legislation was enacted.) This legal concept shifts our view of the power of nineteenth-century women through deeds, wills, and personal accounts, and widens the scope of our research to include not only maiden aunts, but also any woman with property, including women with children.

My final lecture for the day was Lisa Alzo’s “Grandmothers, Mothers and Daughters: Researching Your Female Lines.”  This lecture provided a good overview of why the females in our families often represent the most difficult research problems. Perhaps the message that was most compelling in Ms. Alzo’s presentation was that each of us has an obligation to not only research our female ancestors, but to write about them, sharing their stories, and giving a voice to the often silent women in our families. This opinion echoes the RootsTech conference message that every individual has a right to be remembered and cannot be unless his, or in this case her, story is discovered and shared.

This conference is another example of the quality life-long learning experiences that are available to each of us as genealogists. NERGC occurs every two years, with the next conference scheduled for April 2015 in Providence, Rhode Island. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s comments on day 2 from Manchester.

Scotland’s Old Parochial Registers 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, April 11th, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

One of the three “C’s” of Scottish research is church records (the other two being census and civil registration). One of the most extensive collections of church records can be found in the Old Parochial Registers (OPR), which document births/baptisms, marriages/proclamations, and deaths/burials in the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) from the late 1500s through the end of 1854, although the dates for extant registers differ with each parish. As such, these records represent the best source for vital (birth, marriage, death) records prior to the beginning of civil registration in Scotland at the beginning of 1855.

It is important to understand what information can be found in OPR records as the details may vary. First, registration was costly, and therefore unpopular, and thus events often went unrecorded. In addition, the denominational history of churches in Scotland is quite convoluted. If your ancestor was a non-conformist during certain time periods, there will be no record of birth, marriage, or death events in the registers of the established church.

Baptismal registers may provide as little information as the date of baptism, name of the child, and name of the father. If you are looking for a George Duncan, born ca. 1809, who was the son of Charles Duncan, and you don’t know the parish in which he was born, your search will be more difficult and time-consuming. If a baptismal record, in addition to the more basic information as noted above, including the mother’s maiden name, it will be much easier to determine if you have identified the correct child and father combination. Additional information in the register might also include the father’s occupation, residence and the names of witnesses.

Marriage records also vary in content. In addition to the name of the bride and groom, they may document the dates of three (usually) proclamations (notices of upcoming marriage), either instead of, or sometimes in addition to, the actual marriage date. In addition, the parish(es) of the bride and groom, their residences, the groom’s occupation, and sometimes the name of the bride’s father, although seldom the name of the groom’s father, may also be provided. If the bride and groom come from separate parishes, both should be searched.

Burial and mortcloth rental records may be available for some parishes, but are found much less frequently. A mortcloth was the pall draped over the casket at a funeral. Such a pall was often owned by the parish and rented out for a fee. If the parish mortcloth was used, the receipt of the fee and by whom it was paid would have been recorded in the register. Rentals may not have been paid in other circumstances including the funeral of a child, or when a mortcloth was owned privately. The information provided in a burial record may be very brief, perhaps only a surname and a date. Remember also that burial records are not indexed in the microfiche OPR index.

When I first began researching in the OPR, the best access to these records was through the Old Parochial Registers Index on microfiche at the Family History Library or a local Family History Center. The index could locate an ancestor’s parish, document an ancestor’s christening, marriage, or burial date, or identify an ancestor’s spouse or parent. There are several drawbacks in using the OPR fiche, however: it contains christenings and marriages only (burials were not indexed); and the microfiche are arranged by county, the very piece of information that you might not know. For example, I cannot look at all of the records for a christening of a George Duncan, born ca. 1809 (county unknown), without searching through the fiche for each individual county. Obviously if I already knew the parish and/or mother’s name, my search would be much simpler.

Once an entry of interest is located in the index, the microfilm of the original register can be identified either through the batch number for the entry (located in the right-hand column on the fiche) or through the Family History Library Catalog. This index continues to be available both in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and in your local Family History Center. You do not need to go to General Register House in Edinburgh to do this research. If you do, you will be looking at Family History Library film! Save your time and look at documents not available to you on this “side of the pond.”

Today, OPR records are much more accessible, with several research opportunities available, some at no cost, some for a reasonable fee.

  • Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950. This free electronic database has an interesting description in the FamilySearch Wiki: “This index is an electronic index for the years 1564 to 1955. It is not necessarily intended to index any specific set of records. This index is not complete for any particular place or region. This collection may include information previously published in the International Genealogical Index or Vital Records Index collections.”However, the Wiki goes on to state the primary record collections are pre-1855 Church of Scotland and Civil Registration 1855 to 1875. In addition, researchers are prompted to use the following wording as part of any citation of information from this database: “…citing Scotland Registrar General, Registers of births, marriages and deaths, FHL microfilm 232638, The New Register House, Edinburgh, Scotland.” My current research about George Duncan, my great-great-great grandfather, has led me to a hypothesis that he might by George Duncan, born 1809 in Auchterless, Aberdeenshire, the son of Charles Duncan and Elizabeth Middleton, although my reasoning is very circumstantial at this stage in my research. My search for George in this database identified 167 entries for George Duncan, but did not identify a record for a George Duncan, son of Charles and Elizabeth, in the parishes of Auchterless or nearby Fyvie.
  • Scotland Marriages, 1561-1910. This free electronic database includes the same FamilySearch Wiki caveat as did Scotland Births and Baptisms. I searched in this database for a marriage between Charles Duncan and Elizabeth Middleton in Auchterless ca. 1806, information that I had obtained from a family tree on  Once again, I was unsuccessful in searching based on the information currently available to me, and I was equally unsuccessful when I searched for any Charles Duncan who was married in 1806 in Auchterless.
  • ScotlandsPeople. This site is fee-based and in addition to the OPRs, provides access to wills and testaments, coats of arms, Catholic parish registers, statutory registers (civil registration), and census records. In the case of an OPR search, the cost is approximately $11.00, which provides thirty “page credits” and access for one year after your credit card payment is authorized. You may extend your access for a further year and additional page credits can be purchased for about $7.00. Before using the site, read the information on charges carefully to understand their intricacies. Because other known information suggests that George was not married in Scotland, I searched for the marriage/banns of George’s possible parents, Charles Duncan (and variants of Duncan) and Elizabeth Middleton, for whom I had located a specific date and place in an family tree (with no documentation provided). As I had such specific information, I first searched narrowly for a marriage between Charles Duncan and Elizabeth Middleton between 1 April 1806 and 1 June 1806 (the marriage date in the family tree was 6 April 1806) in the parish of Auchterless, Aberdeenshire. There were no matches. I tried several other searches including a very broad search for this bride and groom in all parishes and counties in Scotland from 1800 to 1810. Again, there were no matches. I also searched in the marriages and banns in Catholic registers. This search yielded two marriage records, but neither event occurred in Auchterless, and neither bride’s name was Elizabeth Middleton.

Not willing to give up, I tried one last, very broad search for a Charles Duncan marrying any woman between 1 January 1800 and 31 December 1810 in the parish of Auchterless. Bingo! The entry I received was for 6 April 1806, Charles Duncan to Elisabeth Midleton (please note spelling!) in the parish of Auchterless in Aberdeenshire. The lesson to be learned from this group of searches is that unexpected spelling variants can trip you up every time! Less information can often produce a more successful search. The entire search cost me seven page credits, three to view index entries identified by my searches and five to view the actual register page. I was able to print an image of the original register page at no cost.

You will also want to learn more about pre-1855 church records in Scotland in general and about the availability of specific parish registers. After you identify a possible parish, search for more information about it and its records, including pages for specific parishes on the FamilySearch Wiki. For example, there is a specific page for the parish of Auchterless. You can also consult V. Ben Bloxham’s Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland from Earliest Times Thru 1854 (1872, Brigham Young University Press, 1970). This title is available at the Family History Library (British Book 941 K236) and is also available digitally online.

There are numerous titles providing general assistance with Scottish research. In particular, I recommend the 3rd rev. and updated edition of Kathleen B. Cory’s Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2004). Appendix three in this book is particularly useful as it provides an alphabetical list of parishes with, for each, its district number (Registration Act of 1854), county, the year of its earliest OPR, and its earliest testament or inventory.

Other titles include:


  • Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors: the Official Guide (National Archives of Scotland), 6th ed. (Birlinn, 2012).
  • Linda Jonas and Paul Milner’s A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Scottish Ancestors (Betterway Books, 2002), in particular Chapter nine.
  • Sherry Irvine’s Scottish Ancestry: Research Methods for Family Historians (2nd ed., Ancestry, 2003), in particular Chapter five and Appendix A.



Smile! Using Photographs in Your Research 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Thursday, April 4th, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

Technology in today’s world embraces us with multiple ways to capture a moment in our family’s story: iPhone, iPad, video or digital SLR camera, etc. Although photography has enjoyed a long history, photographs have been available to the average individual for a short period of time, historically speaking.

The basic principles of optics and the camera were known as early as the fifth century B.C.E. More specific interest, however, began in the 1660s when, using a prism, Isaac Newton discovered that white light was composed of different colors. Throughout the 1700s, the camera obscura fascinated scientists interested in creating an image of their surroundings. “The device consists of a box or room with a hole in one side. Light from an external scene passes through the hole and strikes a surface inside, where it is reproduced, upside-down, but with color and perspective preserved. The image can be projected onto paper, and can then be traced to produce a highly accurate representation.”1 Mirrors then create a right-side up image. (Edinburgh, Scotland, features a camera obscura as one of its tourist attractions.)

Additional discoveries ensued. In 1837 Louis Daguerre began creating images on silver-plated copper coated with silver iodide. The image was then developed (taking thirty minutes!) with warmed mercury. This medium fell out of favor by 1860, in part because only one image could be developed from each exposure, and also because the final product tarnished and scratched easily. The daguerreotype was followed briefly (1854-1865) by the ambrotype, an image produced on glass. The date of either of these formats can often be determined in part by the case or mat surrounding the image. For example, a daguerreotype with a plain silk interior dates from between 1840 and 1845, while an ornate foil-stamped mat dates from between 1853 and 1855.

A format which became financially more accessible to the average family, however, was the tintype, produced between about 1854 and 1900. Some of us may have examples of tintype images in our family archives as many soldiers had them taken during the Civil War. Tintypes later became widely available at carnivals from the late 1880s and through the 1890s. Again, the elements of the tintype can help date an image, with a paper mat indicating an image taken between 1863 and the 1880s, while paper sleeves were used between 1880 and 1900. For example, based on its paper sleeve and my knowledge of the couple in the photograph, I believe that the tintype image shown below was taken ca. 1889, the time of my great-grandparents’ (Grace Lillian Dodd and Edward Albert Smith) wedding.

Edward and Grace

Two other formats, dating from the mid- to late-1800s, also brought photographs within the means of many families. These images often included family members, either individually or in groups, to commemorate an important event such as a wedding, engagement, a new baby, death, etc. The first of the two formats was the carte de visite. First developed in France in 1854 by photographer André Adolphe Eugene Disdéri, this type of photograph, usually sepia in color, was printed on thin paper which was then mounted to a thicker paper card. One of Disdéri’s greatest innovations was the ability to place multiple negatives on a single plate, thus allowing the subject of a photograph to purchase multiple copies at a reasonable price. These photos imitated the size of a “calling card” (2.5”x4”). The carte de visite image below is believed to be a photograph of my granduncle, Eugene Henry Smith (born 1866). While I was unsure of his age at the time the photograph was taken, the photography studio’s advertisement on the reverse side indicates 1880, when Eugene would have been fourteen.


The carte de visite began to be replaced in the early 1870s by the cabinet card (4¼”x6½”), although the earlier, smaller format would continue to be produced for another decade. The larger format of the cabinet card proved to be more popular, although the photographic process was essentially the same. A cabinet card may be dated based on the card stock, card colors, borders and lettering. The image below is a picture of my great-grandmother (Grace, again) as a young woman. She was born in 1865 and was married in 1889, so my rudimentary dating of the photo based on the gold advertising text on black card stock dates the image reasonably accurately between the late 1880s and the 1890s.


It is interesting to note that the cabinet cards I have in my family collection usually have been identified with at least a name, and sometimes by both a name and a date. However, I have a sizeable stack of unidentified cartes de visite, suggesting a practice of trading such cards among friends.

Cyndi’s List includes multiple links to articles on photographs and their use in genealogical research. A fascinating website is the intriguingly named Dead Fred’s Genealogy Photo Archive, where you may be lucky enough to locate a relative’s photograph through a surname search, or where you can upload a picture, found at an auction or flea market, in the hope that it may help another researcher.

One of the best sources to assist you in using family photographs in your research is Maureen Taylor’s Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogical Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries (Family Tree Books, 2013).

Other useful resources include:

Dating Old Photographs 1840-1929 by Family Chronicle (Mooreshead Magazine Ltd., 2000).

Family Photographs and How to Date Them by Jayne Shrimpton (Countryside Books, 2008).

Fashionable Folks Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900 by Maureen Taylor (Picture Perfect Press, 2011).

Fashionable Folks Hairstyles 1840-1900 by Maureen Taylor (Picture Perfect Press, 2009).

Forensic Genealogy by Colleen Fitzpatrick (Rice Book Press, 2005).

More Dating Old Photographs by Halvor Mooreshead (Mooreshead Magazine Ltd., 2004).

Photo Restoration Kwick Guide: a Step-by-Step Guide for Repairing Photographs with Photoshop Elements by Gary W. Clark (, 2013).

Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs: How to Identify, Interpret and Preserve Your Family’s Visual Heritage by Maureen Taylor (Betterway Books, 2000).


1 “Camera Obscura” in Wikipedia ( : accessed 2 April 2013).

There but For Grace…Vital Records Can Surprise You 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Monday, March 25th, 2013 by Erica | No Comments

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

My maternal great-grandmother, Grace Lillian (Dodd) Smith, is not someone lost in the deep recesses of my family tree. I knew her well. Born to Frederic/k Oliver and Katie/Catherine/Kate E. (Duncan) Dodd on 20 July 1865 in New Haven, Connecticut, Grace died in 1963, when I was sixteen years old. My maternal grandmother died when my mother was quite young, and my great-grandparents moved into my grandfather’s home in Springfield, Massachusetts, to take care of his two young children – my mother and her younger brother. By the time I came along, it was just my great-grandmother and my grandfather living in the house, and to my young mind, they were old (seemingly ageless) and represented the man/woman/husband/wife nuclear family unit. Obviously such circumstances can be misleading, and I still clearly remember that amazing “aha moment” when I discovered that Grace was in fact my grandfather’s mother, not his wife! For all intents and purposes, however, she was my grandmother (which is what I called her) and I spent my summers with her, watched her make her annual quilt, and learned – although I didn’t understand why exactly – that you didn’t play cards on Sundays. Even today, I envy her ability to make wonderful donuts on a wood stove every Friday (the secret surely was the lard in which they were fried!).

As part of my 2013 New Year’s resolution to spend some time each week, if not each day, researching my own family, I decided that the time was long overdue to further document my Dodd family of New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts. I have pictures and have long heard family stories, such as the one my mother would occasionally tell me about how Grace, her grandmother, had been so tiny when she was born, that she was carried around the house on a pillow. I knew a great deal about her family directly from Grace herself and from my grandfather. Additional information came from family records that she saved and from genealogical accounts that she wrote down. At the outset, then, my records included the following information:

Frederick O. Dodd (son of Frederick Dodd and Lois Lanfair/Lanfare/Lamphiere) was b. in Plymouth, Connecticut, on 19 July 1837. He m. Kate E. Duncan (daughter of George Duncan) on 15 June 1859 in New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. She was b. in England on 27 November 1839, and d. on 7 April 1908 in Springfield, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Frederick d. on 5 July 1902 in Springfield, Hampden Co., Massachusetts.

Frederick and Kate had five children:

  1. Alice Louise Dodd was b. on 8 April 1860 in Connecticut, and d. of consumption, unmarried, on 22 October 1879 in Springfield, Hampden Co., Massachusetts.
  2. Grace Lillian Dodd was b. on 20 July 1865 in New Haven, Connecticut. She m. Edward Albert Smith (son of Edward Sylvester Smith and Cynthia Jane Aldrich) on 31 October 1889 in Springfield, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. He was b. on 19 July 1860 in Belchertown, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts, and d. of a heart attack on 14 August 1940 in Huntington, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts. Grace d. of natural causes on 27 May 1963 in East Longmeadow, Hampden Co., Massachusetts.
  3. Arthur Leslie Dodd was b. on 5 March 1871 in Springfield, Hampden Co., Massachusetts, where he d. of cerebral spinal meningitis on 1 June 1873.
  4. Frederick Clifford Dodd was b. on 11 September 1873 in Springfield, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. He m. Minerva Felicita LaFontaine (mercifully known within the family as “Aunt Minnie”) on 3 July 1903 in Albany, New York. Frederick died on 26 September 1951 in Lynn, Essex Co., Massachusetts.
  5. Gertrude Mabel Dodd was b. on 29 October 1875 in Springfield, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. She married Joseph Henry Spellman (son of Joseph T. Spellman and Johanna T. Boyle) on 29 October 1903 in Springfield, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. He was born on 7 December 1871 in Springfield, Hampden Co., Massachusetts, where he died on 13 November 1942. Gertrude died on 25 December 1951 in Springfield, Hampden Co., Massachusetts.

I will share here my recent research about the two oldest girls, Alice and Grace. I began with Alice – and immediately ran into difficulties. Family papers indicate that Alice’s birthdate was 8 April 1860. Assuming a New Haven residence, I checked vital record indices and registers. I could find no birth record for Alice in the index covering the years 1750-1865,1 however, nor did I find a register entry for 1860.2 She was, however, enumerated in the 1860 population census for New Haven (taken on 4 July) as two months old, born in Connecticut,3 thus corroborating  family information. However, the 1880 mortality schedule for Springfield, Massachusetts, listed Alice twice, with one entry listing her as age 18,4 the other as age 19.5 Her Massachusetts death record established her date of death as 22 October 1879, stating that she was aged 18 years, 6 months and 14 days.6 An age/date converter establishes that date as 8 April 1861,7 which, based on the 1860 census enumeration, we know cannot be true. She would have to have been 19 years, 6 months and 14 days to agree with the 1860 census enumerated data. After completing this piece of research, I believe it is safe to state that Alice was born in Connecticut ca. 8 April 1860 – not 1861. However, she may not have been born in New Haven. Where, then, might the birth have occurred, or perhaps was the birth unrecorded? Further research will have to uncover the rest of the story.

Ever the optimist, I hoped that the search for Grace’s birth record would be less complicated – I should have known better! On 20 July 1865, the vital records state that Dr. P. C. Skiff delivered the second child of Frederick and Kate Dodd8…BUT (drum roll please), that child was listed as Frederick N. Dodd, male. What? That’s Grace’s birthdate! Who was Frederick N. Dodd and why was he registered as being born to her parents on her birth day? [A small note in the register notes that unnamed children appear under the father’s name, but this is Frederick N., not Frederick O., and clearly states “male”]. Remember the story about tiny Grace being carried around on a pillow? While there is absolutely no proof within the records themselves, a combination of family anecdotal information and the facts as given in the official record suggests that Kate might have given birth to twins, the male of whom may have seemed the better candidate for survival and whose birth, then, was registered. Grace, however, proved to have better staying power and was the survivor – by ninety-six years!

At the same time that this discovery makes an interesting addition to the family story, it is quite poignant as this birth entry is the only acknowledgement I have of the existence of this infant twin. I don’t remember hearing about him from anyone in the family, and to date I have discovered no death record or cemetery record for young Frederick. I don’t know how soon after birth he died; nor have I found any indication that after his death anyone in the family returned to the registrar’s office and registered Grace’s birth. Almost forty years later in 1904, however, the infant Frederick’s younger brother, Frederick Clifford Dodd, named his first son Frederick Napoleon Dodd – which seems fitting.

Birth records can help uncover or clarify many stories, like that of Grace and her forgotten twin brother, Frederick. If it were not for the survival powers of Grace – unrecorded Grace – the history of my family would have been quite different. Truly, there but for Grace …

If you are interested in Connecticut research, there are several titles available at The most significant collection of vital records (birth, marriage, and death) can be found in the multi-volume Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records, with the caveat that the records of some towns, such as Enfield and New Haven, were collected and published by other authors.


1 New Haven (Connecticut) Registrar of Vital Statistics, Indexes to Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1639-1914; specifically Index to Births, 1750-1863 (FHL US/CAN film 1405824 item 3) and Index to Births A-F, 1864-1874 (FHL US/CAN film 1405824 item 7).

2 New Haven (Connecticut Registrar of Vital Statistics, Records of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1639-1902; specifically Index to Deaths, 1860-1869 (FHL US/CAN film 1405824 item 5).

3 1860 U.S. census, New Haven County, Connecticut, population schedule, New Haven, Ward 5, sheet 9, page  637 (stamped), dwelling 647, family 85, Alice Dodd; digital image, (, citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 87.

4 1880 U.S. census, Hampden County, Massachusetts, mortality schedule, Springfield, page 61, line 30, Alice L. Dodd; digital image, (, citing NARA microfilm publication T1204, roll 38.

5 1880 U.S. census, Hampden County, Massachusetts, mortality schedule, Springfield, Ward 4, Enumeration District (ED) 316, page 1, line 7, Alice Dodd; digital image, (, citing NARA microfilm publication T1204, roll 38.

6, Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 (database on-line, digital images), Alice L. Doddy [Dodd], #501; citing Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records, Provo, Utah: Holbrook Research Institute.


8 New Haven (Connecticut) Registrar of Vital Statistics, Records of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1639-1902; specifically volume 15: Births 1864-1865, page 80, Frederick N. Dodd (FHL US/CAN film 1405860).




RootsTech – Day 3 with a Look Back at the Conference 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Saturday, March 23rd, 2013 by Carolyn L. | No Comments

The final day of RootsTech 2013 has been as interesting as the previous two days, with surprises along the way such as the interesting mix of conferences which co-existed in the Salt Palace Conference Center today – genealogists, tattoo artists and Harley riders – a pretty eclectic mix with attendees who were pretty easy to differentiate. You wouldn’t wander into a session by mistake!

The day began with humor and an intriguing view into new mobile technologies. If you have a chance to hear David Pogue speak, be sure to make the time. Pogue is the weekly personal-technology columnist for the New York Times and a monthly columnist for the Scientific American, as well as the author of several ____ for Dummies titles and various titles in the Missing Manuals series. He is extremely entertaining, and presents intriguing views of what he terms “disruptive technologies” – those apps that have the potential to change everything. Do you know about the Ocarina, Augmented Reality, Autotune, or Word Lens apps? If you don’t (or even if you do) an autotune YouTube video is a must see. The keynote session was followed by interesting lectures, and my conference experience was complete with a last visit to the exhibit hall late in the afternoon to see if I could beat the odds and win the drawing for a new iPad – needless to say…

My experiences over the past three days, however, have led me to reflect on some of the core messages of this conference and how, at least in my humble opinion, they impact genealogy today. On Wednesday I shared here several themes from the conference:

1)      the process of collecting, preserving and sharing stories is vital to breathing life into our ancestors (as well as providing those stories about our own lives for future generations);

2)      the need to attract a wider community – particularly the younger generation(s) – to genealogy by insuring that family history needs to be an adventure that is both affordable, accessible, and global;

3)      the desire by many beginners is to have instant search responses, often with the work done by others.

First, while some distinguish between genealogy (fact-based and more academic) and family history (anecdotal and less-structured), for me a balance is essential between the two approaches, with the documented facts providing the framework upon which the anecdotal stories provide “local color” and depth of understanding. While I agree that it is important to capture the interest of an audience ever-increasing in number and range of ages, my central concern is how we will translate that new-found interest into quality, authoritative and enduring research-based family history/genealogy. I worry that as we appeal to new learning styles, “Twitterize” our skills, and look for immediate gratification, the pendulum will swing too far away from an ability to think critically, analyze intelligently, know resources comprehensively, and develop sophisticated, yet efficient, research strategies. It may seem wonderful, even magical, to have our family tree compared instantaneously with millions of other trees with the “matches” added to our information automatically, but what does that say about our obligation to analyze the importance and accuracy of that information in terms of our knowledge of our own family? What will happen to the difficult research problem that will never be solved by instant matches?

I don’t claim to have the answers to these questions. However, I believe that research skills should not be defined by one’s generation. Well-documented facts are essential; they will be richly complimented by family stories.  Careful research is a core value that we should all share. We have an obligation to instill that value in those whom we attract to our adventure in any number of new and creative ways. We must all become engaged in and remain involved in our own research, even as we work collaboratively with others; we must constantly learn new skills and must not not rely on the magic of instant matches in which we are uninvolved.

I remember some years ago asking a friend to locate a military record for me at the National Archives. His response was that he didn’t want to deprive me of “the joy of finding the information for myself.” No instant gratification  to be found there, but I would never trade what became, indeed, the joy of finding the information on my own.

Let’s continue to seek the balance between traditional research skills and the adventure of new technologies.

RootsTech 2013 Conference – Day 2 

Filed under: Genealogy Tips on Friday, March 22nd, 2013 by Carolyn L. | No Comments

by Carolyn L. Barkley

Today at the conference began with more exciting news about the future of genealogy. One of the morning’s keynote speakers was Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of I thought it was pretty exciting when he announced that the Ancestry community now serves 2.7 million subscribers and that the site provides access to 45 million family trees, representing four billion people. However, he wasn’t finished – over the next five years, Ancestry will commit $100 million in new digitized and indexed content. But – he still wasn’t finished! He announced a collaborative three-year probate record project between and FamilySearch which will create a national database of wills, letters of administration and other probate documents covering the years 1800-1930! This exciting project will exponentially improve access to a very significant category of records, a project that just five years ago would not have been possible to achieve. Exciting news indeed!

One of my morning lectures proved to be one of the best lectures that I’ve attended since I arrived for the conference: Autosomal DNA for Genealogists, presented by Diahan Southard of Genetic Genealogy Consultant. I am the Barclay Surname Project administrator (FamilyTreeDNA). As such, I often get questions from project members about the various tests available and what the results mean. After reading various articles on the topic, I felt that I could adequately explain basic Y and mtDNA testing, but the addition of autosomal testing to the mix taxed my descriptive abilities. This perceived deficiency has been exacerbated by the emergence of additional testing options (DNAAncestry, 23 and Me, and Geno2.0). In a nutshell, while the Y and mtDNA tests are limited to either a male or female direct lineage in your family tree, the autosomal (atDNA) can provide information on anyone in your tree with excellent accuracy to about the fifth-generation level. Unlike Y and mtDNA testing, atDNA tests cannot be linked to a specific ancestor due to the diverse combinations of DNA that are passed throughout a family pedigree. Obviously my statements here are dramatically simplified and provide just a quick glimpse of the possibilities. I did, however, leave the lecture, believing that I had a much better understanding of the basics of autosomal DNA in addition to a glimpse into the different strengths of the four major testing companies. I recommend that you visit the Genetic Genealogy Consultant site and consider purchasing the two interactive CDs that are available: Introduction to Genetic Genealogy and Introduction to Autosomal DNA. The first CD guides “… beginners through the basics of DNA and family history …” and the second introduces “… the topic of autosomal DNA testing focusing on the major players in the field.” These CDs can be used as personal interactive tutorials or, best of all, may be used “as presentations to friends or family history groups.”

The exhibit hall is the hub of any conference and this year’s RootsTech exhibit area is one of the liveliest of any conference, genealogical or otherwise, that I have ever attended. Huge in space, it offers a demonstration theater with twenty-minute product presentations offered from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. If you want an introduction to a specific technology, the demo theater is the place to be, not only because of the useful information you will receive, but also because it has home theater-style seating that offers such comfort that I found myself staying for several demonstrations in a row – no uncomfortable meeting room chairs here! Topics today included a look at a wonderful Swedish source, ArkivDigital (which has digital images of quite an excellent quality, including a collection of Swedish prison mug shots from the 1850s and 1860s that are simply wonderful); Irish family tree research, Mocavo, using’s Mobile App, a storyteller, and much more. A conference exhibit hall is the best place to see new products (the best new product I learned about today was Evidentia, an citation-based analysis software package to compliment your standard tree-style software, but it looks so good that I am saving my report for a blog article later this spring), learn how to use new technology, talk with the experts, purchase all kinds of genealogy-related items, charge your mobile device, enter giveaways, and snag great freebies. This particular exhibit hall offers many extras that make the conference experience very informative and enjoyable.

photo - Copy

Salt Lake City – with a few more flurries this morning – has been exciting today as well, with the second round of the ACC basketball championship played last night (how about that upset of New Mexico by Harvard!) with the third round scheduled for Saturday. College and university bands playing outside the EnergySolutions Arena have created a festive atmosphere. The Family History Library is staying open until 10:00 this evening for conference attendees and is even serving pizza! Even better, we can get up tomorrow and enjoy another exciting day!