Archive for the ‘Content’ Category

Finding My People in the US Census

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Just past a very small Idaho city called Arco (of some international scientific fame), but not all the way to a hamlet called Moore, is a place the locals call Lost River. It’s probably called that because the Big Lost River flows through. It’s actually not a big river, and sometimes it doesn’t even flow to, let alone through, the little valley. When it does, it gets lost out in the desert somewhere downstream, between Arco and Idaho Falls. It just flows into the ground.

My mother’s people in Lost River are more constant than the river. So I thought I’d try looking them up in the US Censuses at WorldVitalRecords.com.

In the 1930 Census

First, I found them in the 1930 Census. In the image below, in household #8, Ross O. Babcock is my mother’s father. Bertha A. Babcock is her mother. Agnes J. and “Baby” Babcock are her older sister and brother, respectively. My mother isn’t there, because she was born in 1931. (more…)

News: 1790-1940 US Censuses at WorldVitalRecords!

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

WorldVitalRecords is pleased to announce the release of US Federal Census indexes and images from 1790 to 1930, about 520 million names in all. Add these censuses to our 1940 US Federal Census index and images, and subscribers can now search the largest and most important set of US genealogical records with ease at WorldVitalRecords.com.

Census records document almost everyone who lived in a country when the census was taken. They often include names, ages, addresses, birthplaces, occupation, literacy, and other information. This information can open the door to many additional discoveries about your ancestors.

For more information about the US Censuses, see “What’s in a US Census?” at the WorldVitalRecords blog.

Search the US Censuses at WorldVitalRecords

What’s in a US Census?

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

If you are looking for ancestors who were born in or emigrated to the United States, US Census records are one of your most valuable tools. They don’t provide precise records of births, marriages, or deaths, but they offer a wealth of clues to these events and valuable information as to where and how ancestors lived.

Every 10 years since 1790, the US government has conducted a nationwide census. Officially, the census’s purpose is to insure each state, based on its population, an equitable allocation of seats in the US House of Representatives (US Constitution, Article I, Section 2). But the census does more than just count heads. The government also gathers other information from each person and household — in fact, a slightly different set of information in each census. This data facilitates various types of research by government, businesses, and other entities. Family historians use it to find ancestors, discover where they lived and when, and to gather clues for further research.

The US Census Bureau publishes many different kinds of information, based on the latest census, but, to protect privacy, the actual census records are not released until 72 years after the census. So the 1940 US Census was released in 2012. (This 72-year rule has not always been in place; see below.)

Here’s a quick survey of the US Censuses which are already available, with notes about what was asked; the reported population; a few morsels of history, politics, and technology; and one big fire.

To see notes about a particular census, skip the proper heading below; they’re in chronological order. To see how the census evolved, start with 1790. If what you really want to do right now is search the censuses for your ancestors, follow this link to the WorldVitalRecords US Census collection.

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The 1940 Census: State Status

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

The 1940 Census was released by the United States National Archives just one day ago and already we have many of  them ready for you to search at WorldVitalRecords!

We’ve heard many success stories and look forward to sharing those with you in the coming days. The most common comment is how fast and easy it is to search the new census images using our site.

At the time of this post there are 26 states online at www.worldvitalrecords.com/1940 census.  Our Engineers our working tirelessly to make these important records available to you as soon as possible.

We hope you enjoy your time flipping through the pages of the census and connecting with your past!

Please share your 1940 success stories in the comments below.

Happy Census Searching!

1940 Census States on WorldVitalRecords

1940 Census States on WorldVitalRecords

The 1940 Census: Why all the hype?

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

The 1940 Census – What’s the big deal?

If you’re not a diehard genealogist or family historian you may not have even noticed that the 1940 census is the talk of the town over the past few months.  Yet genealogists around the world are going nuts over the April 2nd release.

Why all the hype? What’s a census?

In 1787, the founding fathers of the United States of America mandated that a census be taken every 10 years to count the entire population of the country to direct taxes and state representation.

Representation and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers…The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.

– Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States

The 1940 Census on WorldVitalRecords.com

The 1940 Census on WorldVitalRecords.com

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Family Stories: Teach and create memories

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Family Stories: Teach and create memories

When we attend conferences, we hope we’ll bring something home that changes our perspective and provides new ideas and opportunities to try new things – or change others – to make progress on our personal family history goals.

If a family history or genealogy conference provides that experience, we are fortunate. However, if we attend an event that opens our minds to countless new ideas, new areas of interest and new methods of researching, then we’re not only merely successful, but that experience can be considered a game-changer.

Steve Anderson

Such was the Story@Home conference held March 9-10.

Generally, I attend an event, come home with knowledge that makes me a better genealogist and person. But following this most recent event, I came home with an entire list of speakers’ names, stories, and faces etched into my brain. Not just one speaker – but all of them – shared their stories.

From the beginning, as Steve Anderson – Family Search’s marketing director –introduced David Rencher – Family Search’s chief genealogist and keynote speaker – the event was filled with memorable stories. David spoke of great successes in finding not just one cemetery full of ancestors but a whole weekend of discoveries. Every time he turned around, another person said, “Oh, that’s my line as well.”

Carol Rice – CEO and founder of CherishBound (the producer of Story@Home) – related her experiences in recording her family stories. She spoke about the women in her family, and through pictures and books, the birth of her company.

Popular blogger C Jane Kendrick and her husband Chup put on a lively show – discussing the “upcoming” Story@Home conference when, in reality, they were already there. They discussed how and what they would present. They “decided” to tell the story of their last child’s birth at home with no midwife or other medical staff present and the special moments they shared together. They truly demonstrated the power of story in sharing their own family history.

Syd Lieberman Storyteller

Syd Lieberman Storyteller

Syd Lieberman – a world-renowned storyteller (and typical father) – told us of his wonderful daughter – and slouch of a son. He walked us through heartfelt stories of both relationships and how each grew over time.  These stories will forever be remembered by that audience. (more…)

A day just for me: South Davis Family History Fair

Monday, March 5th, 2012

A day just for me: South Davis Family History Fair

Normally, I am officially representing World Vital Records and MyHeritage at many events, as part of a team, and staffing a booth. This past weekend, however, I was able to attend the South Davis Utah Family History Fair as just a conference-goer.

While it is always an adventure to go to a show with a team and a display booth, attending as an individual – simply to learn – is a renewing experience. We don’t always have time to attend interesting sessions when we attend events as an official team!

Here are some of my day’s highlights:

The keynote by Karen Clifford (“Uniting Generations: The Changing Face of Family History Research”) demonstrated how time has changed everything from FamilySearch to the way we search, how we share genealogy and collaborate. The great talk stressed that as the modern world continues to make massive and fast improvements in technology, we need to not only keep researching but also to share and collaborate, nicely, online so that the most recent advancements are used to our advantage.

She discussed her son who decided to research his father’s line despite the work going back many generations and the work already “being complete.” As a professor and genealogist, Karen told him “good luck” and hoped he’d find something to do.

In reality, her son found 52 mistakes in the line – some included incorrect LDS ordinance submissions – sealing the wrong husband and wife and other errors. Because he went back and investigated from the beginning, he was able to find new sources of information that were not available 15 years ago. Advances in genealogy proved to be a great asset. (more…)

Recap of the St. George Family History Expo

Friday, March 2nd, 2012
St. George Family History Expo MyHeritage Booth

St. George Family History Expo MyHeritage Booth

The MyHeritage booth at the St. George (Utah) Family History Expo was a huge success. We heard many fascinating stories and met many amazing people during the two-day event. Some people were just starting out, although others had been researching for more than 20 years and just needed a little help.

Many attendees were eager to sign up to family-friendly MyHeritage because of its ability to help them share information with their relatives near and far – that’s what MyHeritage is all about! We are thankful to the people we met and helped.

At the event, Mark Olsen presented to classrooms of genealogists who were eager to learn more about MyHeritage and other social tools. He spoke about ways to use new technology to connect with relatives around the world and preserve family history.

Social technology is a hot topic in genealogy with many books written about these cutting-edge tools. The presentation on Hangouts attracted a full room of conference goers.

Relaying family moments captured and shared across the globe brought tears to the eyes of several attendees. There was a tangible excitement as Mark showed how online free social technology can be used to strengthen family bonds and further research. (more…)

Looking at Marriage Records

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
Marriage

Wedding Picture

February is the month of love – Valentine’s Day – so we are taking a look at marriage records – using Catholic records as an example to show the significant role of these documents in genealogy research.

The Catholic Church mandated that marriage records be kept after the 1563 Council of Trent, which decreed that each parish should keep records on baptism, marriage and death for their parishioners.  These records can contain valuable genealogical data linking together many generations. Each marriage record lists the names of the couple, their places of residence, along with each of their parents and their places of residence. It is possible to jump from one generation to the next using marriage records on their own, as they all tie together. Of course, the problem is whether you can find those records – a topic for another post – but when they are available over many decades, they are perfect for providing essential information which can lead to other parish and diocesan records for more investigative work.

According to the FamilySearch Wiki, you can expect to find in a marriage record:
• Marriage date and place
• Full names of the bride and groom
• Marital status of the bride and groom – single, divorced or widowed.
• Residence of bride and groom
• Ages of bride and groom
• Parents’ names, residence and/or birthplace
• Sometimes the parents’ civil status at time of marriage
• Witness names (more…)

The Dark Side of Family History, and Its Uses

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Recently, I was testing our newspaper collection at WorldVitalRecords.com, looking for search results in the mid-twentieth century. I have an aunt who was killed in 1956 at age 17; I thought she might make a good test case. When I was a child making my first family group sheets, I asked my parents why she died so young. Their answer, as I remember it, was that she was killed in an auto accident on her way home from work at a local drugstore. Such tragedies usually make the newspaper, so I thought I might turn up at least one article about the accident, and possibly also an obituary.

There’s a dark side to family history research. All those ancestors lived, as we do, in a world filled with good and evil, with triumph and tragedy and random chance. I’m not thinking just of the rumors that my mother’s great-great-great uncle what’s-his-name was hung as a horse thief, sad as that must have been for the whole family (if it really happened). What my test search found in our newspaper collection was a few shades darker than that.

There were articles about my aunt’s death in newspapers from Utah to Idaho to California — but they weren’t about an auto accident. For example, on June 27, 1956, a front-page story in the Idaho State Journal (of Pocatello, Idaho) reported that detectives from Salt Lake City and Provo had joined the investigation of “the sex murder” of my 17-year-old aunt. The story explained, “The pretty teenage girl was sexually molested and murdered while on her way home from working at a drugstore June 13. Her body was found in a canal near Vernal [Utah] June 16.”

There was more.

Papers as far away as the Long Beach [California] Press-Telegram picked another UP story a few weeks later. “A 23-year-old service station attendant left a note Wednesday confessing to the murder of a pretty teenage girl and then killed himself on a lonely hillside.” That’s bad enough, but it got worse as I read further. “Her battered, partially nude body was found four days later floating in an irrigation ditch. She had been sexually molested.”

(You’ve noticed by now that I’ve omitted the names of both killer and victim, though the news stories gave them. The names don’t matter to my story, and I don’t want to intrude on her family’s — or his family’s — privacy any more than I have to, in telling the story at all.)

In December of that year the Ogden [Utah] Standard-Examiner ran an article which added a sad detail or two. It was their list of Utah’s top ten news stories of the year. The first was “the miraculous recovery of a girl who lay trapped under a wrecked car for nine days.” The second was “the flaming blast which turned a restaurant in the Utah community of Monticello into a help of rubble, killing 15.” (In case you’re curious, the culprit was a gas valve inadvertently left open in the basement. Don’t do that.) Number ten was the disappearance of my 17-year-old aunt, “the finding of her body in a stream,” and “the subsequent suicide” of her murderer, a local father of two, who killed himself as the police closed in.

I told my siblings of this discovery. They said they had known for years, and they were surprised I hadn’t. They had learned of it from another document of genealogical interest, her death certificate. So I looked that up online, too. The first thing I noticed was an instruction printed in bold type in the certificate’s margin: “Physicians Should State Cause of Death in Plain Terms.” Duly warned, I read through the document.

Birthplace: Vernal, Utah
Usual Occupation: Student
Place of Injury: Street in Vernal City
Injury Occurred: Not While at Work
Was Autopsy Performed? Yes
Immediate Cause (in longhand, which seems more poignant): Death By Strangulation

The response in Part 20b, “DESCRIBE HOW INJURY OCCURRED,” is also in longhand: “This girl was sexually assaulted. Choked about the neck. Struck on the chin. Was found 4 days after disappearance submerged in a canal. Attacker’s suicide note left later states he killed her quickly about 10:30 p.m.” Signed, Ray E. Spendlove, MD.

I don’t tell this dark story to celebrate the darkness, and I would understand if some people avoid family history because they expect or fear they’ll find such things. For my part, I justify this glimpse into the abyss — among others — with these three thoughts:

First, the darkness is real, and it shaped my ancestors and their time, which in turn shape me and my time — in which darkness is also real.

Second, if I want to know my own heritage, I want to know the real, unvarnished history, not some carefully sanitized version that won’t distress a child and that, oh, by the way, isn’t quite true.

The third thought is more complex.

Her parents, my grandparents, were the kindest, gentlest people on the planet. I can only imagine how dark those days — and many days thereafter — must have been for them. Somehow, they overcame it, because when I knew them, not too many years after this tragedy, they were quite cheerful, and they hadn’t moved away to escape the memories. Knowing what they overcame, I admire them now even more than before.

This aunt was a decade younger than my parents, and I was born less than a decade after that gruesome summer. In my childhood, I thought my parents were much too worried about such things as villains lurking in the bushes, waiting to prey upon school children who abandoned the sidewalks and walked through the local park on their way home from school. I absorbed and obeyed that fear for a while, but soon I was disobediently walking home through the park every afternoon, if the weather was good — and if my older sister wasn’t looking. I never saw a villain lurking.

Now a parent myself, I still think my parents were a bit too worried. But now I know why. Their worries came from a source far more personal than the six o’clock news. So I understand my parents more than before, too.

. . . All of which is awfully close to the point of doing family history research in the first place.