FamHist Blog

Family History Research Hints and Tips

Georgia Death Certificates Online

Another great announcement for family history researchers came out this week. The State of Georgia and the great folks at FamilySearch have worked to put images of the Georgia Death Certificates from 1919 – 1927 online with free access by researchers.

You have to love the States and FamilySearch who have partnered to put Death and other records online for us. Here’s a hearty ‘Thanks’ to FamilySearch and the states involved in these projects.

Here is the official announcement of the new Georgia Death Certificates posting:


Georgia Death Certificates Now Viewable Online

Some 275,000 certificates from 1919 to 1927 linked with index and images

“SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—FamilySearch and the Georgia Archives announced today that Georgia’s death index from 1919 to 1927 can be accessed for free online. The online index is linked to digital images of the original death certificates. This free database will open doors to additional information for family historians and genealogists with Georgia ties. The index and images can be searched and viewed at www.GeorgiaArchives.org (Virtual Vault link) or labs.familysearch.org.


The names of Georgia’s deceased from 1919 to 1927 are now very much alive, searchable, and viewable online—and for free. The online index to some 275,000 Georgia deaths is the result of a cooperative effort between FamilySearch Record Services, the Georgia Archives, and the Georgia State Office of Vital Records and Statistics.


FamilySearch digitized the records, and volunteers from both FamilySearch and the Archives used FamilySearch indexing technology to create a searchable online index from the digital images of the original historic documents. “These death records are obviously a gold mine for genealogists and historians. Certificates include age, county of death, parents names, occupation, gender, race and cause of death; these documents open all kinds of possibilities to researchers,” said Georgia Archives director, David Carmicheal.


The deceased person’s name, birth and death dates, sex, spouse and parents’ names and location of death were extracted from each certificate for the searchable database. The linked image of the original death certificate can reveal additional interesting facts and clues for the family historian─like the names and birth places of the deceased person’s parents, place and date of the decedent’s birth, marital status, occupation, permanent residence, and place and date of burial and cause of death.


Before making the certificates viewable online, Carmicheal said patrons had to order copies through the mail for a fee or visit the state archive’s office in person. The new online database will make it quicker and easier for patrons to get the information they are seeking.


“It is always exciting for family historians when they can freely search a vital record index online like the Georgia death records. The link to the original death certificate is an added bonus—it saves you time, money, and provides rich genealogy data,” said Paul Nauta, manager of public affairs for FamilySearch. The users just type in an ancestor’s name that died in Georgia between 1919 and 1927. They will see a brief summary of information from the ancestor’s death certificate with a link to also view the original image. Additional state indexes are currently in production.


The Genealogical Society of Utah, doing business as FamilySearch, is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch maintains the world’s largest repository of genealogical resources accessed through FamilySearch.org, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries.


FamilySearch is a trademark licensed to the Genealogical Society of Utah and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.”

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26 October 2007 Posted by | FamilySearch | Leave a comment

Another Genealogy Research Deal

I talked to one of the folks at Footnote today asking if they had any good ‘deals’. It seems that I found the right person in the right situation because he gave me a short duration annual subscription ‘deal’ to Footnote.com for my blog readers. The offer only lasts through Sunday, November 18th, so if you have any friends or family who are interested, pass the info on to them. They might as well take advantage of it while it is available.

Hmmmm… It just thought about it making a great Christmas gift if you have a family member who is also into family history and history related research. It is that time of the year to be thinking of gifts and my mind tends to dwell on family history ‘stuff’.

Click on this link for a 17% savings on the year subscription. If the page doesn’t immediately show the discount, just click on the refresh button on your browser and it should show up.

The price break is great and because it involves an annual subscription. I suspect we will see a lot of additional content on the site over the next year which increases the value of the ‘deal’.

I’ve pointed you to Footnote pages fairly often in recent postings because I’m using the site and am enjoying the unique materials and views it offers into the world of family history and other historical documents.

If you sign up, be sure to spotlight some images and write story pages about your ancestors or any other ‘historical’ event that you have information about. Here’s a link to a story page that I wrote recently.

Disclaimer: I work for the parent company of Footnote, but don’t get anything from anyone for mentioning this ‘deal’ in my blog. It is simply a ‘deal’ that came from my unsolicited request to Footnote that I’m sharing with other researchers.

26 October 2007 Posted by | Research Tips | Leave a comment

Have You Tiddled Your Wiki Today?

I’ve mentioned creating your own Wiki several times in the past and wonder how many of you are actually using one. I love my various Wiki’s and use them constantly. I’ve found that I use my TiddlyWiki the most. It is simple to use and doesn’t take any special programming or coding knowledge. If you use any coding in your Word documents, you can use a wiki.

My Wiki’s contain my ‘cheat sheets’ among other things. The ‘cheat sheets’ are lists of instructions that I don’t want to memorize, but need to reference frequently. One example is instructions on how to record information for source types that I don’t use very often. Another example is a list of links to family history resource pages that are only used on occasion but that I want at my fingertips, neatly organized and searchable. You know the resource links that I’m talking about. They are in these posts frequently.

TiddlyWiki lets you add a new Tiddler (entry) with one click. How hard is that? Additionally, you may also want to add a journal entry. It is just as easy to create as a wiki entry. Just click on ‘New Journal’ and there you are, a blank formatted page already dated and attributed to you.

You can link all journal and wiki entries by just referencing their titles in the tag field at the bottom of the entries. My entries / articles are all interlinked by subject and the ‘thread’ (topic, conversation, etc.) is easy to follow throughout all of them.

Additionally, you can do a keyword search for any specific word or words of interest. As an example, I tried to remember how many times I’ve written about using acid-free paper and sheet protectors and ran a search. One second later all of my entries containing ‘acid-free’ were listed on my screen and the words ‘acid-free’ were highlighted in all of them.

I also use my TiddlyWiki for research notes. When I create research notes in my Legacy database, I copy them and make an entry in my wiki. In Legacy, the notes are tied to a specific individual, event or place and I typically look them up that way. In my wiki, I can search them by topic, location, year, names, etc., covering all the entries at once.

How easy is it to install TiddlyWiki? It is simple. Just click on the “download software” on the left side of the page and then right click on the link “this link to empty html” and save it to your desktop or to a folder on your hard drive. If you saved it to a folder, make a shortcut to your desktop and/or to your Start menu.

TiddlyWiki is really just a big long web page. There are many links on the TiddlyWiki page to help ‘beginners’ and ‘experts’ alike.

After you save the TiddlyWiki page and start using it, remember to hit ‘save’ after each of your entries and to ‘BACK IT UP’ often. You’ll quickly find that your wiki will become an ‘enhanced’ extension of your memory and you know how it feels to loose your memory, so back it up – often.

I’m frequently asked how often to back up your family history records or by extension, your wiki. I back mine up daily using Mozy. When you make your back up timing decision, you’ll have to determine your threshold of pain. Once you’ve lost your files because you didn’t back them up, you’ll know how far you’ve crossed the threshold.

Download the wiki code and a it a try. Tiddle your Wiki today.

22 October 2007 Posted by | Research Tips | Leave a comment

Family Genie 2.0 Released

There is good news for family history researchers today. Mario at Carpe Geekum has released a new version of the Family Genie tool bar that even further enhances its ability to help us find family history information on the web.

Mario has written Family Genie out of the goodness of his heart to help the family history community. He is asking users for a small donation to help pay his bandwidth and storage costs.

Here’s the announcement:

I am excited to announce the release of Family Genie 2.0. There have been a few new sites added but the biggest change is in the underlying structure to make it compatible with Vista’s Internet Explorer 7 as well as Firefox 2.0.

You can download the latest version at: http://www.carpegeekem.com/familygenie/update/familygenie.zip

As always it is completely Adware and Spyware free. Let me know if you have any questions at support@carpegeekem.com.

Blatent attempt to raise support funds below:

As you may already know, Family Genie is supported solely on donations from its users. At this point we have thousands of users and have only had $35 dollars donated to support its development. If you feel so inclined please make a donation at http://www.mariohipol.com to keep Family Genie alive.

19 October 2007 Posted by | Research Tips | Leave a comment

Story Pages

I’ve talked about adding color to personal histories and family stories in earlier posts. Recently, I created a Story Page on Footnote about one of my ancestors, Susanna North Martin, who was hung as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.

The court documents related to her trial and eventual execution for the mythical crime are full of her own words. They also include both the imagined and false statements of her accusers and the unimaginable mindset of the local government at that time. Reading them gives us a unique insight into the social conditions that existed in Salem, Massachusetts over 300 years ago.

My wife and I have visited the spot where grandma, along with a number of other innocents, was hung. From our current day perspective, I was both saddened and angered as we walked around gallows hill thinking of that sad event.

However, without the accusations, subsequent trial and hanging, grandma Martin’s record would consist of little more than a name and associated dates and places in my database. Her story would have no ‘flesh’ on it… No ‘color’.

Have you been able to add ‘color’ to the life stories of your own ancestors? Start with those closest to you and then work back in time. The key to success is to ‘just do something’ or as the old Nike’ ad said, “Just Do It!

Begin at the beginning by writing your own life history. Then add photos, documents and related memorabilia associated with ‘your’ story. Next, write the stories of your parents lives. Remember to include some of those old family favorite stories that you heard while growing up. Add photos and other pieces of ‘color’ to bring your stories to life.

When we read grandma Martin’s Story Page on Footnote … complete with the transcripts associated with her arrest, trial and conviction, … it helps us understand her ‘world’ and society. The old stories become fact in our minds as we view the original pages and handwriting. ‘Color’ fills in between the rows of facts and engages our mind and imagination.

Her tale of legal woe begins with an arrest warrant. It lists her crime, accusers and officers of the court. Click here to read it.

Her story does have a semi-happy ending though. Grandma was pardoned by the legislature of the State of Massachusetts on 31 Oct 2001 …. 309 years after she was hung for being a ‘witch’.
Susanna Martin - Arrest Warrant - Accused of being a Witch - 1692 Salem, MA

18 October 2007 Posted by | Histories | Leave a comment

Books, Burials and Places

The anniversary of the involvement of the United States in World War II will soon be upon us. Most of us have parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and other family members who served in the military during that war and other wars and military actions. Almost all of them qualified to be buried in military cemeteries. Have you searched for information about them in the related cemetery records?

It is easy to do. Just look at the Department of Veteran Affairs, National Gravesite Locator site and create a search for them. I’ve found many records for my own extended family on the site. The records often provide information that I haven’t found elsewhere. Additionally, the site is updated within a month or two of a burial, so if you’ve lost an extended family member and know they or their spouse was buried in a veterans cemetery, search for them today.

If you haven’t looked at the Northeast and Southeast genealogy sites in your quest yet, take a look. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the number of relevant research links you’ll find on the sites. Just click on the state of interest and then click on the county(ies) you want to search to see the related links.

The 1914-1927 Georgia Death Certificates were added as yet another free resource to the LDS FamilySearch Labs site today. To login, simply enter your e-mail address and you’ll be taken to the full list of free resources.

I have ancestors who migrated to Australia from England. You may also have family members who live there or passed through on their way to New Zealand and other points in the southern hemisphere. If so, go to the Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters site and see if you can find their passenger records. My family members were listed. How did you do in your search?

A few months ago, FamilyLink.com was launched as a free site that allows uses to post their ancestry and hopefully find others who have common ancestry. I haven’t used the site other than to look at its design. It may be yet another tool in your research quiver.

Are you constantly searching for U.S. locations? If so, you’ll want to visit and bookmark the Place Names site. Here’s how the site describes itself, “A gazetteer to find countries, cities, towns, villages, mountains, hills, rivers, lakes, islands and other geographic and administrative place names with their location, latitude, longitude and elevation.”

And finally, if you are interested in the family history related publications that are released daily, be sure to visit the Genealogy Librarian News blog. It is constantly updated with new release information and who knows … the new release may be the exact record you have been seeking for years.

Does that sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t a false statement. Several years ago, I visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and found a new book containing the burial records of the Burnt Church Cemetery in Walworth, Wisconsin that had been put on the shelves for the first time that morning. When I opened the book, there they were…. the burial records for my 3rd and 4th great grandmothers and a great-grand uncle.

I had looked for them for 25 years and never thought I’d ever find any clues to help break down that particular ancestral brick wall. The wall came down, at least for one generation and I now hove clues to help me in my quest to find the rest of the family ‘across the pond’. Miracles happen in family history research if you work hard enough. Expect them to happen in your own hard won ancestral quest.

15 October 2007 Posted by | Research Tips | 1 Comment

Genealogists – Deal of the Year

Here’s a deal that won’t be around long and is too good to not pass on to you…

Ancestry.com is selling their Family Tree Maker software for a very discounted price. The ‘deal’ part of the offer is that you get a one-year subscription to Ancestry with the purchase. I think this means that the subscription is to the most expensive “World Deluxe” offering which costs $24.95 a month if paid annually. Even if it is for the U.S. subscription; that cost is $12.95 a month if paid annually.

I personally don’t care for Family Tree Maker and will probably toss the unopened box to get the subscription. Who cares you say? Well, here’s the “But Wait, There’s More” part of the deal….

You additionally get other very valuable software with the package, but first, remember — ANCESTRY.COM- 1 YEAR SUBSCRIPTION FOR $15.49!

Click on this link to access the deal.

Here is what you get for less than $16:

  • Family Tree Maker v.16 ($100 value)
  • A one year subscription to Ancestry.com ($360 value)
  • Concise Genealogical Dictionary ($14 value)
  • Ancestry Reference Library CD-ROM ($50 value)
  • Family Tree Workbook ($20 value)
  • A copy of GenSmarts ($25 value)
  • Historical maps collection DVD
  • A 30 minute consultation from Ancestry

My suggestion on this offer? Jump on it like a duck on a June bug. ASAP – before the offer ends. Word will get out and the shelves will empty quickly. (BTW… I don’t have any affiliation with the vendor in any way).

How did the old commercial go? …. “Try it Mikey!” “You’ll like it!”

Update: 9 Oct 2007

I hope folks were able to get a copy before the vendor realized they had a ‘hot’ selling item. They have increased the price to $29.95 as of 9 Oct.

It is still a good price when you take into consideration the year subscription to Ancestry.

6 October 2007 Posted by | Ancestry | 2 Comments