EricaErica L. Collins

All articles by Erica

 

African American Genealogy – Finding Your Roots

Editor’s Note: The following piece from our archives by the late Carolyn L. Barkley contains excellent resources and tips for researching African American Genealogy. Over thirty years have passed since Alex Haley’s Roots captured the imagination of the nation and helped fuel an explosion of interest in genealogical research. During the intervening years, thousands of
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Lighthouse and Life-Saving Service Records

Editor’s note: This formerly archived post by the late Carolyn L. Barkley explains the historic background of the United States lighthouse system, and how the interrelated management of the lighthouses and life-saving stations is crucial to utilizing records to find your relatives. If your ancestor was a lighthouse keeper or a member of a life-saving station crew,
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Holland Land Company Records: Land Research in Western New York State

Editor’s note: The following post from our archives, written by author Karen E. Livsey, provides insight into the information contained in her two volume work, Western New York Land Transactions: Extracted from the Archives of the Holland Land Company. Ms. Livsey is the Library/Archivist at the Fenton History Center in Jamestown (Chautauqua Co.), New York, and she
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Suffer the Little Children – Orphan Trains in America

In this post from the archives by the late Carolyn Barkley, the history and role of America’s orphan trains in a children’s diaspora is discussed. If you are having trouble tracing a child in your family history during the time period of 1853-1930, looking into the orphan trains may help you in your search. It is dark
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Old Parochial Registers of Scotland

In this archived post by the late Carolyn Barkley, she delves into the usefulness of old parochial registers of Scotland, including what they are and resources to utilizing them. 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
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In Memoriam, Carolyn L. Barkley

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
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Collegiate Records As Tools For Researching Your Ancestors

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,
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Who Built Mount Rushmore?

A few observations before beginning to write about the workers who built Mt. Rushmore. First, this article would probably have been more appropriate for a Labor Day post, but as a blogger with five years worth of postings (think 260 articles); I have to seize a blog topic when it pops into my mind. Second,
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Get Thee to the Courthouse – Why Visiting in Person is Still Necessary

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I think that we genealogists may be in danger of falling victim to the need for instant satisfaction. The ability to look at records on Ancestry or FamilySearch, or any number of online resources, is seductive. We like the fact that we don’t have to leave the comfort of our own
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Contemplations on Music and Family

By: Carolyn L. Barkley My recent fourteen-day road trip across country and back gave me plenty of time to muse about a variety of matters and how they may have affected our lives and those of our families. Time and again, my mind pondered the role of music in my family and the continuity it
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Är dina förfäder svenska? Swedish Research at the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center

by Jill Seaholm Jill Seaholm, this week’s guest blogger, was born in Moline, Illinois, to extreme 100% Swedish-American parents. At 14 she was lucky enough to go on a family trip to visit distant relatives in Sweden, and, while there, became hooked on all things Swedish. At Augustana College she majored in Scandinavian Studies, studying
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Ohio on My Mind

By: Carolyn L. Barkley Ohio has been on my mind frequently in the past few days. Several Facebook friends have reported that they are participating in the Ohio Genealogical Society’s annual conference, Expanding Your Ancestry Through Technology, this week. In just under two weeks, I will be traveling to Ohio to attend the National Genealogical
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Using Your iPad to Write Your Family History

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I will begin this article with a major disclaimer. With the exception of my iPod and my iPad, I am a devoted PC user, and foresee no possibility of moving over to the Mac side of the technology world beyond the two devices I just mentioned. Don’t get me wrong. I
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Revisiting Revolutionary War Resources

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I frequently hear myself say that the Revolutionary War period is not my favorite time period in which to research. I’m unsure precisely why that might be, but perhaps it is due to my continuing feeling that I don’t know enough about this period in American history, or perhaps it is
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It’s a Grave Matter – Cemetery Resources

By: Carolyn L. Barkley Some of my more enjoyable moments have occurred in cemeteries – and if that doesn’t mark me as a genealogist, I don’t know what does. Cemeteries have atmosphere: smooth slate stones in centuries-old New England church yards, the overgrown brambles and almost unreadable stones of a long-undisturbed southern family plot, the
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Understanding a Coat of Arms

By: Carolyn L. Barkley   This article was first published in January 2009. So-called “family coats of arms” are still be sold to the unwary, so as I’m traveling this week, I thought that reprinting this article would be informative.   It is the time of year when, in many parts of the country, Scottish
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A One-Step Approach to Research

By: Carolyn L. Barkley Your online research is only as good as your search strategy and search skills. As more and more online sources become available, the knowledge required to wring essential information from a multitude of sources becomes more difficult as each has its own search structure and eccentricities. Lectures, books, and articles are
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Put Some Green in Your Genealogy

By: Carolyn L. Barkley   One of the most satisfying things about writing this blog has been the unexpected connections with those of you who are reading it (hopefully every week!). The following article has become my standard Saint Patrick’s Day article, updated as new information or insights have become available. To my Holdcraft contacts
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Podcasts for Genealogy

By: Carolyn L. Barkley   I freely admit that I am not a cutting-edge type of person with regard to new technologies. This tendency has become more pronounced with retirement, as I am no longer presented with new hardware or software by a progressive municipal IT department. Thus, I have only begun to listen to
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Are You a Deltiologist?

By: Carolyn L. Barkley If you aren’t, you should be – and this term does not refer to some strange profession pertaining to the Army Corps of Engineers! A deltiologist is a collector of postcards, and speaking as a genealogist, postcards can provide interesting visual documentation for your research. Deltiology is considered to be one
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Baptismal Records – Helping to Scale Your Brick Walls

By: Carolyn L. Barkley Have you ever looked at an online family tree only to find that the birth dates of the children in the family seem to make no sense? This situation may be caused by someone entering baptismal dates instead of birth dates (in much the same way that a marriage bond date
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Go West, Young Man!

By: Carolyn L. Barkley My family was not afflicted with wanderlust. Once they arrived in this country, their traveling energy seemed to evaporate. To be sure, they moved around a bit within Massachusetts, and a few made the “long trek” from New Haven, Connecticut, upriver to Springfield, Massachusetts. Otherwise, they hunkered down in the same
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Looking Back on RootsTech 2012

By: Carolyn L. Barkley While I attend national genealogical conferences regularly, February 2012 was my first visit to a RootsTech conference – and one that I will repeat. As I entered the door of the opening session room on the first day of the conference, the pulsing beat of  rock music filled the space, announcing
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What’s In Your Attic (or Basement)?

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I’m writing this article at the beginning of my second week in Salt Lake City. I’ve spent a very full week amongst my ancestors, filling in the gaping documentary holes in my family tree. This next week will feature several days of further research, plus attendance at the RootsTech Conference (stay
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Searching for Your Collegiate Ancestor

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I’m writing this post from my hotel room overlooking the Salt Palace, site of next week’s RootsTech Conference, in Salt Lake City. I’m looking forward to a week of research before the conference – a few client problems to solve (note the positive attitude)–spending most of the time working on my
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Why Did You Get Started in Genealogy?

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I think that curiosity motivates genealogists. Remember the adage, “curiosity killed the cat?” I recently read an extension of that statement, written by contemporary fantasy novelist, Holly Black: “If curiosity killed the cat, it was satisfaction that brought it back.” The interplay between curiosity and the satisfaction realized in ferreting out
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World War II Records Research

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I recently worked with a client’s manuscript in which his father’s letters home during World War II played a prominent part. That project was followed almost immediately by my discovery of two long letters written by my father during the war, the first including details of his troop train ride between
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Your Most Important New Year’s Resolution – Get (and Stay) Organized

By: Carolyn L. Barkley     I find it hard to believe that it’s once again time for my annual get-organized-article. Facebook has recently been full of genealogists working on their goals for 2012. Are you one of them? If so, I hope that one (or more) of your goals has to do with organization
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Ringing in the New Year

By: Carolyn L. Barkley As I was growing up, I do not remember my family celebrating New Year’s Day with any special customs. It was only after I left for college and heard about New Year’s Day experiences from roommates and friends (particularly traditions having to do with food) that I realized that anything was
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Rhode Island Resources

By: Carolyn L. Barkley As a school student, I was always curious about the founding of Rhode Island. Growing up in Massachusetts, I had learned that the first settlers who traveled from Holland and England did so in order to practice their religion free from persecution. Apparently, however, while seeking such freedom for themselves, they
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Who Were the Huguenots?

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I have had little experience with genealogical research in continental European countries as my family research is almost entirely British Isles-based. Yes, my father’s parents did come from Portugal, but that country is on the fringes of the European mainland (and at this stage in my family research, I have done
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Researching Merchant Mariners

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I have never been quite sure of the definition of a “merchant marine.” My curiosity has led me into a little research, and caused me to wonder about what records might be available about ships and individuals involved in this career. Historical information is often located (thanks to the power of
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Give the Gift of Genealogy

By: Carolyn L. Barkley The holiday season is here and it’s time (or perhaps past time) to put your gift list together. As we research throughout the year, or as we attend conferences and exhibits, we see books, software, and other items that might be the perfect gift for another genealogist – or even for
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Fold3.com is Essential To Your Research

By: Carolyn L. Barkley Almost exactly three years ago, I posted an article entitled “Footnote.com – A Gem of a Resource.” Proving that nothing is immutable in the world of technology, Footnote evolved and changed during the intervening time period, making an update appropriate. In 2010, Ancestry purchased Footnote. Many of us, as subscribers, wondered
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Did Your Ancestors Celebrate Thanksgiving?

By: Carolyn L Barkley Thanksgiving Day is a week away. For those of us born in the United States during the mid to late twentieth-century, Thanksgiving has been a consistent part of our national pantheon of holidays. Its celebration, however, has not always been a part of our heritage, and would have played (or not)
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I Been Workin’ on the Railroad Resources for Railroad Employee Research

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I recently attended a Nelson County [Virginia] Historical Society program presented by Clann Mhór, a local organization dedicated to documenting “the many workers who labored for ten years on the thirty-mile-long Blue Ridge Railroad from Ivy to Staunton, Virginia.” This railway includes four tunnels through the mountains, and its longest tunnel,
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Revolutionary War Federal Pension Resources

By: Carolyn L. Barkley How well do you know your Revolutionary ancestor? (Notice that I didn’t ask how much do you know about him – somehow I think that’s a different question.) If he had a federal pension (or his wife received a widow’s pension), the information included in the application for that pension may
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Pennsylvania Research

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I have lived most of my life in three out of the four commonwealths (Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia – but not Kentucky), with only my two-year residency in West Virginia in the early 1970s breaking this pattern. What exactly is a commonwealth and how does it differ from those entities referred
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Basic Resources for Canadian Research

Genealogyandfamilyhistory.com is pleased to be back . Please enjoy this article that was posted on 7 October, just before the site was taken down for maintenance. The next new post will be available on Friday 28 October. By: Carolyn L. Barkley Due to some serendipitous planning, my summer included two major trips, the first to Scotland
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Using Insurance Records in Genealogical Research

By: Carolyn L. Barkley Methods to reduce the risk of commercial loss were practiced as early as the Chinese and Babylonian traders and merchants who traveled at least two or three millennia B.C. The process of insuring against health issues, accidents, loss of life, accidents, and disasters such as fire and flood developed throughout the
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Genealogy Columns in Newspapers: Important Resources for Your Research

By: Carolyn L. Barkley Columnists have contributed articles of genealogical interest to newspapers for many years. Although today we often turn to online sources first, it is helpful to be aware of printed newspaper columns, both past and present, and how they can support our research. These columns, combined with news and announcements of genealogical
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AmericanAncestors.org – An Essential Resource

By: Carolyn L. Barkley Despite the fact that I often write about my husband’s ancestors in Virginia and the Carolinas, my own maternal ancestors were all solidly rooted in New England. They were not the adventuresome “go-west-young-man” type of individuals. Migrations from Rhode Island to Connecticut, or from Connecticut to Massachusetts, were about as venturesome
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Genealogy a la iPad

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I frequently suffer from technology envy when I see new hardware or software being used by colleagues and friends. Such feelings often prompt me to buy a product – but then I invariably procrastinate in its installation, mostly out of concern about my technical abilities (no IT department support now that
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And Never the Twain Shall Meet – Using Divorce Records in Your Research

By: Carolyn L. Barkley Many genealogical researchers probably have not considered using divorce records as part of their research. First, there is the belief (basically the same one that applies to the possibility of having criminal ancestors) that “it couldn’t happen in my family;” second, there may be no anecdotal stories in the family about
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Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I have written about the records of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the DAR Library in Washington, D.C. on more than one occasion. On June 30th, Ancestry.com sent an email announcing the addition of a database providing access to 145,000 Sons of the American
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Some Thoughts – and Resources – on Scottish Research

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I recently returned from a two-week vacation in Scotland, after an absence of more than ten years. For me, experiencing Scotland is a soul-renewing experience. While I was there this year purely for pleasure – no research this time – the trip offered the perfect excuse to revisit and update the
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Peering into Royal Lineage Research

By: Carolyn L. Barkley I have often viewed royal lineage research with more than a little skepticism. As a newly-elected genealogical society president, I can remember inviting visitors to a society monthly meeting to introduce themselves and tell a bit about the focus of their research. A man stood up, identified himself, and told us
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Adoption Record Research

By: Carolyn L. Barkley The popular press, through its frequent reports about celebrities as Madonna and Brad Pitt and Angela Jolie, makes adoption seem in vogue. Reunions between birth parents and their children are reported as human interest stories in magazines, newspapers and on television. The issue, however, is much more immediate for the over
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Weekend Research Tour to Albany, New York

By: Kathy Merithew This post is the last in a series of three guest articles while the regular blogger has been enjoying a vacation in the Scottish countryside. Kathy Merithew is a genealogist and retired librarian (Virginia Beach Public Library, Virginia Beach, Virginia). A resident of Mathews County, Virginia, she researches in Rhode Island, New
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Research in Kentucky Historical and Genealogical Periodicals

by Don Rightmyer This post is the second in a series of three guest articles while the regular blogger is enjoying a vacation in the Scottish countryside. Don Rightmyer is the editor of ‘Kentucky Ancestors,’ the genealogical quarterly of the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, Kentucky. Curt Witcher, senior manager of Genealogy and Special Collections
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