genealogy gifts, Lee family, Virginia,

‘Tis the Season for Genealogy Gifts

Editor’s note: The following is a version of a post originally by the late Carolyn L. Barkley. Her ideas of what to give the genealogist in your life are just as awesome today as they were several years ago when this post was drafted. As technology has improved and prices have changed, some edits and updates were necessary. 

We hope this list inspires you to give the perfect present to both the naughty and nice genealogist in your life.

Genealogy Gift List

Do you have a genealogist on your holiday list? Perhaps, you are a genealogist who needs to provide a list of gift ideas to a family member. Here are five ideas to help your holiday shopping.

Give the gift of books

Thomas Jefferson stated “I cannot live without books.” There are many titles that would be great additions under your tree. Examples include any – better yet, any combination of titles – from the Genealogy at a Glance series from Genealogical.com. These laminated, four-page basic research guides make great research travel companions, weighing little and consuming minimal suitcase space. Library Journal, in its December 2012 issue, includes a “Short Takes” in which it states that “offering vetted online resources, further reading suggestions, and practical tips…these pamphlets will provide novices with a starting point, while more advanced researchers will likely discover in them a detail or two they hadn’t considered.” Currently, there are thirty-one titles in the series including research in the Family History Library, ethnic research (French, Italian, Scottish, Cherokee, African American, French-Canadian, English, Irish, and German), research in various states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Virginia), and several other topics including American cemeteries, Ellis Island, immigration, U. S. federal census records, and Revolutionary War genealogy. The cost is perfect for filling that Christmas stocking – just $8.95 each.

Andrea Wulf’s Founding Gardeners: the Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation is a great book for a cold winter evening. Perhaps one of the best gifts would be a copy of Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (3rd ed., Genealogical Publishing Co., 2010. $59.95), a must-have for anyone’s home genealogical library. Continue reading…

tax lists genealogy

Tax Lists and Genealogy

Are you getting the most out of tax lists for your genealogy research? Do you even know where to start?

As Cornelius Carroll states in the beginning of his book, The Beginner’s Guide to Using Tax Lists, “Tax lists are one of the most valuable, but most neglected sources of genealogical information. They cannot only be used to trace migration and determine the taxable property of ancestors, but they are also important because they can be used to prove parentage when no other records are available. There are also many other uses which many genealogists and historians do not suspect.”

We like having a handy guidebook to lay out the basics of topics that can be overwhelming or take a researcher down a rabbit hole. To this end, we recommend Mr. Carroll’s guide as an excellent starting point for the beginner, or a solid refresher for the more seasoned researcher.

The Beginner’s Guide to Using Tax Lists explains the various kinds of “tax lists,” namely, personal property tax lists, tithables, poll lists, land tax lists, and rent rolls, and it informs the researcher about the genealogical uses of each. For example, tax lists are helpful in determining parentage, birth and death dates, indentured servitude, slavery, manumission, and racial status. They may also indicate the relationship of individuals in a household and their approximate ages. For instance, did you know that, in the absence of other sources, you could establish the approximate ages of the children by following the taxpaying head of household over a sequence of tithables? If not, Mr. Carroll shows you how by using actual Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee tax lists.

If you’re not up to speed on all the genealogical possibilities to be derived from tax lists, or would like to know more than what you’ll glean from a quick Internet search, Mr. Carroll’s diminutive guidebook is well worth the investment.

Image credit: Manumission note, By George Rohm [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. The text reads:  “On this 30th day of April 1828 personally appear George Rice before the ?abricut a justice of the peace in and for said County, and made Oath on the Holy Evangely of Almighty God that James Tooley the Negro man now in my presence is the same that manumitted and let free by Phillip Winebrenner. Sworn before George Rohm”

 

747px-Attributed_to_James_G._Jones_(active_1860s)_-_(Drawing_of_a_House)_-_Google_Art_Project

Drawing Your Home – Another Dimension to your Genealogy

Editor’s Note: The following post is by Joe Roop Brickey, originally entitled “Adding Another Dimension to Your Genealogy.” This article originally appeared in Heritage Quest, 16, no. 3, issue 87 (May/June 2000). It is reprinted here by permission of the publisher. Joe Roop Brickey is a familiar face in the Genealogical Publishing Company’s booth at national conferences. She is a former board member of the Federation of Genealogical Societies [FGS] and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland. She resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Faded photographs are among a genealogist’s treasured possessions. A picture of a family gathered on the front porch of an old farm house, or gathered around the Thanksgiving Day table, may be fun to have, but identifying everyone and establishing when and where the picture was taken can be difficult tasks. When my parents were visiting a few years ago, we sat down with some of the mystery photographs and in the process of identifying who, what, when and where, began talking about the houses and farms – the physical location of the events preserved in the pictures.

Out came a pad of graph paper and pencils. Let’s see, Dad said, You came into the entry hall and the steps to the upstairs were straight ahead, the den to the left and the parlor to the right? Stories came pouring out of my parents. Memories long forgotten came to light in drawing the walls that surrounded them. Before long, both of my grandparents homes were committed to paper, my great-grandparents’ farm came to life, and the town where my father was born and raised had been recreated.

This project is easy and inexpensive. It takes paper, pencils, a BIG eraser, and time. Add a tape recorder for the stories and you are all set. My mother and I began with the home she grew up in. She did not worry about exact room dimensions, but rather the layout of the rooms in the home. The front right corner was the living room where the piano sat on the inside wall. Her parents bedroom was in the right back corner. On the back of the house were the bathroom and a small den. The steps to the basement were off of the kitchen which sat in front of the den, and the dining room was in the middle of the left side, with a small parlor on the left front. “Remember when your grandmother tried to brush her teeth in the dark and put BenGay on the tooth brush?” (Sure I do; Grandmother’s howl could be heard for blocks!) “There was a lilac bush on the corner of the house outside their room.” Yes, soon you are drawing in the yard and before long the names of the neighbors get filled in.

An added plus for this project is that friends have tried it with relatives who have claimed to remember nothing. Something about making a drawing of a childhood home, the street you lived on, or the family farm brings even the “I don’t remember anything” unclear memory into focus. Knowing where the table that now graces my living room sat in my grandparents’ home adds to my enjoyment of the piece. Having a clear picture of the great-grandparents’ sheep ranch makes the stories told about summers there more meaningful because I can “see” it better.

Homes, streets, farms, the list is endless as to what you can create with your pencil and pad of paper. I drew the school where I went to first grade. In the process, the name of my teacher surfaced along with names of long forgotten classmates. Mrs. Perkins was my first grade teacher and she lived just a few blocks from the school. On nice days we would walk to her house and have a picnic in her backyard. Since moving every few years was a part of my childhood, finding a trigger for these memories has been great! I have placed my drawing in the file with the class photograph, along with the things that I remember about going to first grade. Maybe I’m writing my life story without realizing it!

So, when you are talking to a relative, or even a neighbor, feeling a bit stuck, or in a rut with your research, try adding this new dimension to your genealogy. Your best memory of a house can be sent on to a cousin to add details and stories, an aunt may remember a house that is no longer standing, and just maybe, if you are very lucky, someone will finally remember who is the third person from the left in the picture of the family on the front porch. At the very least, now you know about the house behind the family.

Happy drawing!

Related reading:

Arthur, Stephen and Julia, Your Life and TimesThis oral history handbook is a guide that will help you record your life experiences on tape simply by answering questions that will lead you, step by step, through the precious moments of your life. When finished, you will have completed the oral history of your life and times–a treasure for yourself and a gift of love for your family and its future generations.

Light, Sally. House Histories: a Guide to Tracing the Genealogy of Your Home.

Image credit: Drawing of a house, By Attributed to James G. Jones (active 1860s) (artist, Details of artist on Google Art Project) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

genetic citations, DNA

Genetic Citations for Genealogists

As Elizabeth Mills explains at the outset of her latest laminated research aid, Citing Genetic sources for History Research Evidence Style, “Genetic tests are used today in non-scientific fields to help: (1) resolve questions of identity; and (2) determine the correct family unit to which a person belongs. Researchers who integrate genetic testing with traditional document research include biographers, genealogists, and historians; forensic genealogists working with legal firms and court systems; MIA-identification specialists working with governmental agencies to repatriate unidentified remains of military personnel; and unknown parentage specialists.”

Researchers—both professional and hobbyist—who work with genetic data will frequently find themselves reporting their results in online “trees” posted at genetic-testing sites, online databases focusing on a surname or ethnicity, and other reportorial venues. Common terms used in genetic studies include alleles, haplogroups, markers, triangulation, and more.

Besides explaining genetic citations for genealogists, or how to properly cite your genetic findings in a variety of situations, bonus features of Ms. Mills’ new Quicksheet, Citing Genetic sources for History Research Evidence Style include a brief glossary of terms common to DNA research, explanations of the different forms of genetic testing, and the standards for using genetic information itself.

To make the job of citing sources simpler, the author provides a template which shows exactly how you should identify source list entries and reference notes. Ms. Mills also provides examples, or models, of common source types, showing how to use them in a source list entry, in a full reference note, and in a short reference note. On this complicated subject, nothing could be easier to use.

Image Credit: Brainpickings.org

too many books, genealogy books, Collegiate records

Too Many Books!

Editor’s Note: The following post is by Joe Roop Brickey, a familiar face in the Genealogical Publishing Company’s booth at national conferences. She is a former board member of the Federation of Genealogical Societies [FGS] and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland. She resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. Please read her other work on this blog. 

It began innocently enough. I attended the NGS Diamond Jubilee and bought a copy of Val Greenwood’s Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. Six thousand books and an addition of a room to the house later, there are too many books in my collection. I have intruded into the dining room, now known as the library annex.

The question is how do I thin the collection? What do I chose to remove? How do I part with a book that was a “must have” when I bought it? Faced with books two deep on some shelves and piled on the floor, it is well past time to address the overcrowding.

The rules for new books don’t work like the rules for new clothes (if not worn in two years let it go) because you might work on a line for some time, then find that you need the books when you tackle that family again. So how to decide?

To begin, ask yourself questions about the books you are considering for removal.

  • When did you use this book last?
  • Have you ever used this book? Is the book an old edition?
  • Is it falling apart?
  • Is the content of the book still valid or has the material become outdated?
  •  How does this book contribute to the research you are doing?
  • Can you copy a few pages from the book and have everything that is needed from it?
  • Is the book still in print, or is it old or rare?
  • Is this source available on CD? Online?
  • Why did you buy it in the first place? Was it because it was a good deal, the title was intriguing, or do you really think that you can use it in your research? We who love books don’t always have to have a logical reason for acquiring a book. To keep the book when space has become scarce requires evaluating those impulse purchases.

Save six, set one aside – I go through my shelves slowly. Some books are in use fairly often, others have not been opened since they were first purchased. Have I ever really used this book? But I might need it some day! Choices are both easy and hard. The third edition of a book now in its eighth edition is fairly easy to say goodbye to, but the county history for a neighboring county to the one my ancestors lived in is harder. Slowly the pile of discards grows larger.

One way to make this process easier is to insure that the books you remove will have a good home. Donating books to your local library or genealogical society collection is a less painful way to say goodbye. If you should need them again – even though you haven’t for the past eight years – they are nearby. If the library or society is a nonprofit, you should be able to take a tax deduction.

You might have a used bookstore in your community that will buy history or genealogy books. While you usually do not recover what you paid for a book, at least it is money to put towards attending a conference where you can buy new books!

Some people advertise on genealogy blogs that they will give books to anyone willing to pay the postage and handling. Others share with members of their local genealogical society. Does the retirement home in your community have a genealogy club and a place to house a genealogy collection?

It does not hurt to check to see if a book is still in print, or how rare it might be, before letting it go. The Genealogical Publishing Company identifies both the books that are in print as well as those that are temporarily out-of-print on its website, www.genealogical.com. Other book publishers have similar formats. There are a number of sites, such as www.bookfinder.com, that give prices for out-of-print books. You might be surprised how little, or how much, an out-of-print book might be worth.

Whatever you decide, it is never easy, at least for me, to say goodbye to a book. Once I have decided, I try to get the books out of the house and to their new destination fairly quickly. That way I do not go through them again and decide to keep one for just a bit longer.

Done thoughtfully and deliberately, sorting through your books, whether you have 100 or 6,000, it is a way of reconnecting with your collection. You will discover books you forgot that you had, find a second copy of a book, remember an old favorite, and hopefully clear some space for future additions to the collection.

Weeding the collection is a bit painful (the sore muscles from shifting all those tomes), somewhat bittersweet (the expensive book that never helped you), and a bit nostalgic (remembering all the great finds the book holds). Whatever you decide to let go of, the newly gained space is sure to fill up again. Such is the joy of the bibliophile – there are always new ones to tempt us!

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons