library of congress

Utilizing the Library of Congress Genealogy Website

The US Library of Congress (LOC) is the greatest repository of published works in the country including genealogy, local history books and periodicals.  Whether or not you are planning to visit the LOC, located in Washington, DC, in-person soon, it will benefit you to visit its website.

To get on the LOC site, start at its homepage: Allow yourself time to browse the site as a whole. For example, at the American Memory collection you will find a gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the U.S. The site offers more than seven million digital items from more than 100 historical collections – from Ancient Greece to Athens, Ohio. Other popular items that can be accessed from the LOC home page include online exhibits, like one on Bob Hope’s vaudeville career (just to break up your family history research), world cultures, congressional legislation, and a link to an explore and discover area of the Library.

After you tear yourself from the aforementioned diversions (thank goodness for the “back” button), return to the Library of Congress home page. Now scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click on “Especially . . . for Researchers,” which will take you to the Resources and Reference Services page. Next page down to the link, “Local History and Genealogy,” which will bring you to the home page for the Local History and Genealogy Reference Services. Continue reading…

graveyard, grave stone meaning, info graphic

Cemetery Symbolism

Just as the days are grow shorter and the nights longer, Halloween approaches and brings some ghoulishly clever articles along with it. If you find that the falling leaves make you want to visit your fallen fellows, take a stroll around your local graveyard.

Cemeteries can be an incredibly rich source of information for your family history research, and just one of the places where you can collect your dead relatives. Whether you are there for research or just to visit, cemeteries can also be incredibly beautiful, with meaning built into the landscape. Atlas Obscura spent time uncovering the meanings behind some of the most common gravesite symbols, which they compiled into the above infographic. This cemetery symbolism information may not only make you sound quite clever with your graveyard strolling companions, but now you will actually know what that dove or snapped rose means.

The original graphic was created by Michelle Enemark. If you like her work, you can follow her here on Twitter.







A collection of Public Domain images of the Five Civilized Tribes

Federal Records of the Five Civilized Tribes

The following excerpt is from the book, Tracing Ancestors Among the Five Civilized Tribes, by Rachal Mills Lennon. This body of work has been the best-selling guide to a very difficult area of research for over a decade.

Ms. Lennon, M.A., CG, specializes in resolving difficult Southern research problems and reconstructing obscure lives, especially those of Native American, African American, and yeoman white families.

A Board-certified genealogist since 1985, Lennon holds degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of Alabama in architectural history, historic preservation and history, with emphasis on the Southern frontier. She is the author, editor, and compiler of six books, as well as award-winning problem-solving essays and case studies published in national-level peer-reviewed journals.

Federal Records of the Five Civilized Tribes

Historical Background

The history and culture of the American South are unique, owing chiefly to the intermingling of the races and the diverse ethnic backgrounds of countless families. Modern Southerners proudly boast traditions–real or not–of Native American ancestry. Odds are, these traditions lead directly back to the so-called Five Civilized Tribes. The Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians dominated a broad swath of territory from North Carolina to Mississippi before their forced removal westward. Long hailed for their adaptability to “white” ways (hence the designation “civilized”), these nations have gained near honorific status among Southeastern genealogists.

Continue reading…

West Virginia, Missing Ancestors

Missing Ancestors? Check the Feeder States!

Here’s a familiar genealogical conundrum: A researcher has traced his/her ancestors from present-day California back to the Dust Bowl-era in Nebraska, into Missouri just as it was achieving statehood, and finally to Indiana in the 1830s. At that point, the trail has grown cold even though legend has it that the family patriarch was a Pennsylvania patriot during the Revolution. So, how does the genealogist pick up the scent of the missing ancestor at this point?

One way to find missing ancestors is by studying the various migration routes our relatives traveled to their new homes. For instance, before 1800, between Boston, Massachusetts, and Charleston, South Carolina, our forebears followed one of a score or more of tested land and/or river routes. Our hypothetical Pennsylvanian, for example, might have traversed the Southern Road, from Philadelphia to Baltimore, where he could pick up the National Road. This would have taken him into western Maryland, briefly back into Pennsylvania, and then into western Virginia (today West Virginia), before the road leveled off in Ohio and Indiana. By the 1830s, of course, canals and railroads were beginning to compete with roads and turnpikes as the principal means of westward transportation. Continue reading…

Tah-Chee, a Cherokee chief / A. Newsam., Eastern Cherokee

Descendants of Eastern Cherokees

Between May 1905 and April 1907, the U.S. Supreme Court authorized the Secretary of the Interior to identify the descendants of Eastern Cherokees entitled to participate in the distribution of more than $1 million authorized by Congress. The purpose of the authorization was to settle outstanding claims made under treaties between the U.S. government and the Cherokees in 1835-36 and 1845.

On May 28, 1909, Mr. Guion Miller, representing the Interior Department, submitted his findings with respect to 45,847 separate applications for compensation (encompassing about 90,000 individual claimants). Miller qualified about 30,000 persons inhabiting 19 states to share in the fund. Ninety percent of these individuals were living west of the Mississippi River, but all of them were considered to be Eastern Cherokee by blood, that is, descendants of the Cherokee Nation that had been evicted from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee in 1835. (The Interior agent submitted a supplemental report in January 1910 that resulted in another 610 eligibles.)

The Guion Miller Commission prepared abstracts for all of its application findings, and those abstracts (National Archive Record Groups 75 and 123) represent the basis for this series of books by Mr. Jeff Bowen. The author begins with a helpful introduction describing the origins of the Guion Miller rolls and the methodology used in abstracting them. The bulk of Eastern Cherokee by Blood, 1906-1910. Volume I – Applications 1-3000 from the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1910. Cherokee-Related Records of Special Commissioner Guion Miller, by Jeff Bowen, comprises abstracts of the first 3,000 of the 45,847 examined by Mr. Miller. The abstracts, in every case, provide the application number, the applicant’s (head of household’s) name and city of residence, the number of other persons in the applicant’s family, references to family members found in other applications, and the disposition of the application. The researcher will find references to about 8,000 Cherokee descendants in this volume, each of whom is identified in the name index at the back.

By any measure, the series Eastern Cherokee by Blood, 1906-1910 is one of the most important additions to the literature of Native American genealogy in recent years.

Image Credit: Tah-Chee, a Cherokee chief / A. Newsam. By Biddle, Edward C., 1808-1893, publisher, via Library of Congress Common Images.