Sunday, June 5, 2011

This is the Face of Genealogy

In response to a rather insulting picture accompanying a genealogy article in the LA Weeklygeneabloggers is asking us to post pictures of our genealogy, photos of ancestors that we're proud to call family.

This is Molly (VanDyke) Stephens (22 Jan 1877-20 Mar 1944), my 2nd Great-Grandmother, who appears to be a bit camera shy:

Here's a photo of what she looks like when she's not trying to hide from the camera:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sorry About the Lack of Posts...

I am currently experiencing blogging writer's block. I have posted much of substance in the past two weeks. If anyone wants me to write a particular topic, let me know in the comments here. I genuinely want your ideas or even just posting some questions people have been wondering about me or genealogy.

Now, some business related things:

Since closed their Expert Connect service, I haven't gotten many jobs from what I've done so far. I still haven't gotten a job yet, so I just don't have the money to maintain their monthly world service. I was afraid of this happening when they announced its closure frankly.

So, I've made the decision to cancel my subscription for the month of June as of Monday. I'm not going to stop blogging on genealogy related topics and I'm still open for people asking me about doing projects for them.

Once I have a research job contracted or possibly once July rolls around, then I will most likely get my subscription again. When I'm considering going back to school in London in the fall, I need to save every penny that comes my way from the little bit of savings I have.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

This Friday: Geneablogger's Radio

Title: Military Records and Genealogy
Date: Friday, May 27, 2011
More Information:

I'd recommend tuning in and chatting with listeners if you can, but you can download the podcast later if you can't make it. If you click the link to blogtalkradio when the show is broadcasting, at the bottom of the page you will find a chat filled with listeners. I've found it to be a great way to talk with fellow genealogists while also learning about some great topics.

You also have chances at some door prizes if you call in at the right time.

Friday, May 13, 2011

So...You Want to Visit an Archives or Record Office in the UK

I wanted to put down some good tips for travel and research if you're planning a trip to the UK soon in order to research your family history. These are all tips that I feel will help your research, and indeed your whole holiday, go more smoothly.

My Internship at Shropshire Archives, 2008,
Working on a Deed Collection

Money and the Chip and Pin System

Now, I know for a fact my US bank account debit card does not have a chip in it, though reports indicate that may change soon. This makes it increasingly difficult to buy anything with it when I'm in the UK because while my debit card needs to be swiped in order to use it, the chip and pin is used differently. Although some stores will swipe your card, more and more of the stores will not or cannot swipe your non-chip card.

I suggest knowing ahead of time what you'll be doing and taking money out of the ATM/Cash Machine for your copies, travel, and assorted expenses for the day, keeping in mind the fees you will be charged.

It's a good idea to keep some cash anyway because a lot of archives are switching to copy cards that you load or purchase in certain amounts. Keep in mind too that the actual bills only go down to 5 Pounds, so be prepared to have a change purse to keep Pound Coins in. Making sure you have a few Pound coins are also a good idea, especially since you'll need one to secure your valuables in a locker.

Hours of Operation

Check the website of the archives beforehand to make sure they haven't changed their hours and days of operation. Budgets are still strained due to the economy and the institution may have had to reduce the times they are open.

Reserving Microfilm and Computers

You also want to check to see if you will need reserve use of the microfilm machines and computers beforehand. If there is a chance you will be there during a busy period, you'll want to make sure you have access to the records that are microfilmed, particularly those parish and newspaper records that are available in that format, and online access to records that will help you find what you need.

Also, make sure ahead of time if there is a digital camera fee. This is used in a lot of cases in lieu of copying, and many repositories charge a nominal fee for the privilege.

Recommended Items

I would recommend you take the following items with you:

  • Cash, including at least one Pound coin.
  • Pencil and Notebook, including a list of what you need to find.
  • Magnifying bookmark or small magnifying glass.
  • Secretary hand letter guide.
  • Digital Camera.
A lot of archives have a small shop where you can get the letter guide, pencils, and the magnifying aid.

Catalog Searches

I can't stress enough looking through their online catalog, if available, before your trip. Most of the time your time at the archives will be limited, so planning ahead is a good idea. Scour the website of the archives too, to see if anything you want to see is on microfilm, like parish registers. Make a list of what you want to find, and not the reference numbers of any documents you want to see. This is the magical number you will need in order to have one of the archivists on public service pull the document.


Keep in mind that right now a lot of funds are going toward the Olympics being held in London in 2012. In addition to that, the economy is causing a lot of institutions and government bodies to cut funding, and the heritage sector is a prime target. As a result, archives are experiencing reduced staff and less time to do their work. The fees in place are there to make sure the archives can preserve the documents and provide access to their collections.

Additionally, archivists are being asked to do more in less time. If they restrict access to a document, there is a reason for the policy. Please thank them for their help and advice and perhaps buy something from the archives shop. It'll be a good memento of the trip and a lot of their books will help expand details on your ancestor's lifestyle in that area.

ARCHON (A directory of repositories in the UK):


Some News (Or News about News)

I'm hoping that in the next month, I will be announcing my plans to attend school in the UK again. I am applying to the Masters in Heritage Studies at the University of East London. It will get me back there, I hope permanently, because I intend to get a job over there after graduation. When I make this announcement, I will also be trying to expand my business here, including offering my services for people unable to get to London/England, and starting a companion blog about moving and living in the UK. My aim is to earn as much as I can this summer to cover my plane ticket and the first month of living over there when I have purchase necessities such as household goods. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Records and Research: Edith Elizabeth Eckard (No. 10-11)

This series began with a randomly selected document that contains genealogical information. I will then take that information and outline what we can learn from the document and what I would do next to find more information on the person involved.

Previous parts in this series can be found here: No. 1No. 2No. 3-4, and No. 5-9

Document No. 10-11: Passenger Lists
No. 10: 11 Jun 1923, Arrival from Quebec on the Ship Canada

No. 11: 27 Nov 1923, Arrival to New York on the SS. President Garfield

What These Records Tell Us: 
Edith Elizabeth Eckard and her daughter Elizabeth were traveling onward to London from Liverpool. It is possible she planned to visit her Shropshire family on the way to London. However, she states her address in the UK as 16 Southwick, Hyde Park, London (Link: Google Maps). As she lived in London during the 1901 Census with an Aunt, it may have been her she intended to visit. These documents also confirm that she was an American citizen at the time.

On her return journey, she stated she was naturalized by marriage. Since her daughter was a native of the United States, Edith gave her daughters birth as 9 Mar 1914 in St. Louis Missouri. Their address is given as 2741 Dakota Street (Link:Google Maps) in St. Louis Missouri.

Next Step: Check for her original immigration as Elizabeth Edith Brookfield and then double check for any other journeys after she was married.

Resource: Find My Past Ireland

Find My Past Ireland launched May 5th. It seems similar to the Find My Past for England in its setup. Their earliest records date back to the 13th century.

Here is the link for the UK Find My Past:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Resource: My Recommended UK Genealogy Books

2 1/2 year old Quincy models the book I bought this weekend.

Someone in the chat for geneablogger radio during their United Kingdom genealogy show last week asked me about books about the parish chest and records over there in general. I told them I would post a list of books I'd recommend this week.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. This is merely a list of books that I have used in my academic studies.

Information about Records:

  • Herber, Mark D. Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1998).
  • Irvine, Sherry. Your English Ancestry: A Guide for North Americans. (Provo: Ancestry Publishing, 1998).
  • The National Archives Research Guides
  • Tate, W. E. The Parish Chest. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946).
  • The My Ancestor Was Series, which includes the following titles:
    • ...Came with the Conqueror
    • ... a Coalminer
    • ...a Bastard
    • ...a Merchant Seaman
    • ...a Freemason
    • ...a Policeman
    • ...a Railway Worker
    • ...a Royal Marine
    • Agricultural Labourer 
    • Apprentice
    • Service
    • the British Army
    • ...were Baptists
    • ...were Gypsies
    • ...were Jewish
    • ...Londoners
    • ...English Presbyterians or Unitarians
    • ...Thames Waterman
Books to Help Understand What Records Say:
  • Cheney, C. R., ed. A Handbook of Dates: For Students of British History. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
  • Humphery-Smith, Cecil. Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. (Chichester: Institute of Heraldric and Genealogical Studies, 1995). 
  • Ison, Alf. A Secretary Hand ABC Book. (Reading: Berkshire Family History Society Research Centre, 2000).
  • Martin, Charles Trice. The Record Interpreter. (London: Reeves and Turner, 1892).
  • Morris, Janet. A Latin Glossary for Family and Local Historians. (Bury: Federation of Family History Societies, 2002).  Note: available for purchase at
  • Stuart, Denis. Latin for Local & Family Historians. (Chichester: Phillimore, 1995).
Note: You can get quite a lot of these through the National Archives online shop:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Research Requests

I've been alerted by a couple people that the contact form wasn't working well for them. I have tried it and it did work for me in that I got an email sent to me by using the form.

If you have tried to contact me for a research job and I have NOT replied to you within one day, please either comment on a post (preferably this one) or send me an email at branchesfamilyhistory at


Thursday, April 28, 2011

This Friday: Geneablogger's Radio

Friday, April 29, 2011
9 p.m.-11 p.m. CST
Topic: British Genealogy
Guests Include: Audrey Collins, Family History Specialist at the National Archives, Barbara Baker, A.G. and British Reference Consultant at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

I'll be listening in and chatting with people about British genealogy during the program. As many of you know, I studied over there for my Archives Degree (and wish I could go back there to work!), and I'm hoping to get some great ideas for posts here!

Also: Geneabloggers has a post about Royal Genealogy. Looks like Prince William's 27th Great-Grandfather Charlemagne is my 39th great-grandfather. Link: Royal Genealogy

Tuesday, April 26, 2011