In the September 2012 issue of “Family Tree Magazine”, they have listed their annual 101 Best Websites pertaining to genealogy.  They’ve provided a brief overview of each website including whether it is a free or paid resource.  In addition, they’ve divided their list into several categories, such as heritage heavyweights, American heritage, ancestors out west, and more.

Here are a few from their list. 

Under “Heritage Heavyweights”, there is the well-known Ancestry.com.  Ancestry offers access to a variety of online databases.  Their resources range from vital records and census information to immigration and military service history, as well as a host of other databases. One of the most recent additions has been the fully indexed 1940 U.S. Federal Census.  Although not a free service, they do offer a 14-day free trial. This is a great way to explore their resources without making a commitment. Also, the library edition of Ancestry (ALE) is available for free at all Jacksonville Public libraries. For access visit the branch that is closest to you.

Another major and ever expanding resource is Familysearch.org.  This is a free service that may be searched from your home, office, or on-the-go.  Like Ancestry, it provides searchable indexes to census records, vital records, and more.  Familysearch has been digitizing their collections and making the records available for viewing on their site.  This initiative is a continuing endeavor, and they are constantly adding new records to their service.  Unlike transcriptions, you get to view a copy of the actual document.  This alone makes Familysearch an online destination that you may wish to visit frequently. 

The Library of Congress also is listed as a heavy weight genealogy heritage site.  Their resources include the online catalog and their digital collections.  An example of their online collection is the “Chronicling America newspaper” collection http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/newspapers.  Here you may search newspaper pages with dates ranging from 1836 through 1922. Searching options include searching by state, newspaper title, and by keyword.  Keyword search terms are highlighted in red on the results pages of your inquiry. However, not all states are covered in this collection.  For more information regarding the Library of Congress and to explore their vast holdings and links, visit their website at http://www.loc.gov/index.html.  

Under the “Eastern Seaboarders” heading, they reference several websites.  The Florida Memory Project www.floridamemory.com is a great resource for Florida information.  This site provides a searchable index to Spanish land grants records in Florida, Confederate pension applications, and WWI service cards.  Their materials also consist of thousands of digitized photographs as well as WPA stories, guides, video and audio collections in addition to links to other documents and exhibits.   

For those interested in their civil war heritage, there is the Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System site www.itd.nps.gov/cwss. This website allows the searching of both north and south ancestors covering 6.3 million names from both sides of the war.  In addition, information pertaining to battles, regiments, prisoner of war, and cemetery records are listed as well as other links.

Here is a short list of some of the other sites they feature:

They list many others and provide general overviews.  To review the entire list, see this issue of “Family Tree Magazine”.  This publication is available in the Genealogy collection at the Main Library, as well as Mandarin, Pablo Creek, Southeast, University Park, and West Regional branches.



Time:  10:00 – 11:30, Multipurpose Room II:

Speaker:  Karen Rhodes

TitleBare Bones: Getting Started in Your Genealogy

Description:   How to start with family documents you have at home, the importance of citing sources, and where to go for help


Time:  10:00 – 11:30, Multipurpose Room III:

Speaker:   Margo Brewer

Title:   Land Records: Just Scratching the Surface

Description:  A presentation of information about what county land records you will find in a courthouse. County land records hold more than just deeds.


Time:  1:00 – 2:30, Multipurpose Room III:

Speaker:  Ann Staley

TitleHatched, Matched and Dispatched: Vital Record Research

Description:   Have you found “delayed” records, burial permits, sexton reports, church records, etc.? Learn how to locate and use other types of records in your search for vital record information.


Time:  1:00 – 2:30, Multipurpose Room II

Speaker:  Karen Rhodes

TitlePaleography: Interpreting Old Handwriting (covers Spanish and English colonial documents)

Description:   Uses example documents from the 16th through the 19th centuries to illustrate characteristics of old handwriting such as archaic letter forms, abbreviations, and “creative” spelling. Demonstrates with Spanish and English documents how some forms and techniques were common across European languages.


TUESDAY, JULY 24th, 2012

Time: 10:00 – 11:30, Multipurpose Room II:

Speaker:   Karen Rhodes

TitleUsing Blogs, Podcasts, and Twitter for Genealogy

Description:  What are blogs, podcasts, and Twitter? Introduction to the genealogy “blogosphere,” the best podcasts, using Twitter to network with other genealogists (also covers Google+). Live on the internet.


Time:  10:00 – 11:30, Multipurpose Room III:

Speaker:  Margo Brewer

Title:  Getting Down and Dirty with Land Records: Looking Beyond the County Courthouse

Description:  We will explore Federal Land Records, including Homestead, Military Bounty, etc.


Time:  1:00 – 2:30, Multipurpose Room III:

Speaker:  Ann Staley

TitleAnalyzing, Organizing and Sharing:  Using Software to Your Advantage

Description: Do you feel like you have lost control?  Put technology to work for you with software applications that can be used to analyze, organize and share your genealogical data.


Time:  1:00 – 2:30. Multipurpose Room II:

Speaker:  David Fuller

TitleNative American Research – An Introduction

Description:  Many people believe that they have Native American ancestry. The belief may be based upon family stories, physical attributes, etc. Learn how to start your Native American ancestry research.


WEDNESDAY, JULY 25th, 2012

Time:  10:00 – 11:30, Multipurpose Room III:

Speaker:  Margo Brewer

Title: The Basic Military Records

Description:  We will look at Compiled Military Service Records, Pension Files, etc.


Time:  10:00 – 11:30, Multipurpose Room II:

Speaker: Amy L. Giroux

TitlePre-1850 Census Research – Determining Parentage

Description:  How do you determine parentage from early records when no direct evidence exists? A case study using the Genealogical Proof Standard will show you how to analyze the evidence found in pre-1850 census.


Time:  1:00 – 2:30, Multipurpose Room III:

Speaker:  Margo Brewer

Title:  Military Records: Now That You Have Them, What Do They Mean?

Description: Understanding Military Records and the Acts that created them


Time:  1:00 – 2:30, Multipurpose Room II:

Speaker:  Amy L. Giroux

TitleCemetery Research – A City of Stones

Description:  Walking a cemetery’s stones to find your ancestor’s grave can be a rewarding experience. Learn how to locate your ancestor’s burial site


THURSDAY, JULY 26th, 2012

Time:  10:00 – 11:30, Multipurpose Room II:

Speaker:  Arnold Weeks

Title: Genetic Genealogy

Description:  Are you considering being tested? How do you have it done? How much does it cost? What can you learn from the results? These are just a few of the questions that will be answered in this program. We will explore the use of DNA testing to extend paternal and maternal lineages. DNA basics will be briefly discussed. Current DNA testing services, surname projects, and other genetic genealogy issues will be presented.


Time:  10:00 – 11:30, Multipurpose Room III:

Speaker:  Ann Staley

Title:  Genealogical Research: Online Resources – for Free!

Description:  In today’s economically challenged world, free is good! There are many choice websites that have digital images, databases, text files, etc. available free to use.


Time:  1:00 – 2:30, Multipurpose Room II:

Speaker:  Arnold Weeks

TitleHealth and Heredity

Description:  This program will examine the impact of family ancestry on personal mental and physical health. Current trends in DNA research and testing will be reviewed as they pertain to the program topic. The importance of creating and maintaining a family medical pedigree will be discussed in detail.


Time:  1:00 – 2:30, Multipurpose Room III:

Speaker:  Amy L. Giroux

TitleListen to the Land – Understanding Your Ancestor’s Property Records

Description:  You may not find a lot of names, birth dates, or vital record information in property deeds. However, you can determine relationships and other helpful items from property records.

We recently received some new books for the collection.  Two of them are a part of Quillen’s Essentials of Genealogy.  The third is the North Carolina Gazetteer by William S Powell and Michael Hill.

The first is Mastering Immigration and Naturalization Records by W. Daniel Quillen.  This volume provides a good guide for finding records for immigrant ancestors.  Mr. Quillen covers some of the basics, and provides a chapter of history in order to give a little background.  Also included is a case study.  The book can provide some helpful hints and places to look for information on your immigrant ancestor.

The other volume we received in this series is Mastering Census and Military Records, by the same author.  The basic layout is the same as the volume on immigration.  It can hopefully help the researcher make the most of census and military records, and can provide helpful hits on their use.  Also, information is provided on what to expect in the records, and what kind of information will be provided.

The other book that we recently received is the North Carolina Gazetteer.  It serves as a dictionary of different places and geographic features found in the state.  It should serve as a useful guide for those living outside North Carolina and doing North Carolina research.  It may even help those living in North Carolina too.  So if you need to know where Giles Creek is, this would be the book for you.

So stop by and take some time to browse the collection.

When conducting family history research, never forget newspapers.  Newspapers are an amazing gateway into a period of time, a location, and events of the past.  They provide information ranging from local births and marriages to who’s who in society and world events. 

During the early years of America, life for the most part took place at the local level.  The community was the center of activities. Many important subjects were discussed in venues such as town meetings, religious gatherings, social functions, and assembly of community leaders. Newspapers allowed a glimpse into the issues of the day, the mindset of the people, and where the country was in its development. 

As with many records and documents, the format of newspapers has evolved.  More newspapers are being produced in electronic format making access to them much easier and more beneficial for researchers. For family history researchers, this is important – particularly regarding historical newspapers.

One such project is the online historical newspaper collection of the Library of Congress. This online resource is called “Chronicling America” at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov. The site provides access to information pertaining to historic newspapers as well as digitized images.  The time period covered is from 1836 to 1922. It encompasses newspapers currently from 26 states and is searchable by keyword.  It provides descriptive and digitized images of pages from historic newspapers, and is expected to eventually cover all U.S. states and territories.

In addition to the scanned newspaper pages, it also provides access to a directory of newspapers.  The directory is called the “U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690 – Present”.  The directory is searchable by state, county, and city.  An important function of this search capability is that it reveals what newspapers were printed where and when. For example, if you want to know what newspapers your hometown published, the directory may be a valuable tool.  Furthermore, it allows you to see which libraries carry that newspaper.  

To search “Chronicling America” and to learn more about this resource, please visit the Library of Congress’ website at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.

The Special Collections Department of the Jacksonville Public Library and the Jacksonville Genealogical Society, Inc. are planning a four day genealogy training session. 

The dates of the Genealogy Bootcamp are Monday through Thursday July 23rd – July 26th 2012.  The training will be held at the Main Library located at 303 N. Laura Street in downtown Jacksonville. 

There will be four classes taught per day.  Two will be presented in the morning and two taught in the afternoon.  Tours of the Genealogy Collection and Special Collections will be offered as well. 

Registration will be required due to limited seating, and this event is free and open to the public.

As the event draws near, more details will be forthcoming.

On November 1st, 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) instituted a change on what records will be used as source material for adding records to the Public Death Master File (DMF).  It is the DMF information that is used to update the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).  The DMF file “is a file of all deaths reported to SSA from sources other than States, beginning around 1936.”  Such sources include family members, funeral homes, hospitals, state and federal agencies, etc.  The change that the SSA is making is that the agency is no longer disclosing protected State records. 

“Section 205(r) of the Social Security Act prohibits SSA from disclosing State death records we receive through our contracts with the States, except in limited circumstances.  Therefore, we cannot legally share those State records on the Public DMF.”  For information regarding the law, please see Section 205r link –  http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/ssact/title02/0205.htm

This change will decrease the number of death records added to the Public DMF.  They expect this number to decrease by 1 million on an annual basis, which they are saying will be 4.2 million records.  Please click on the following link for a FAQ sheet regarding this change http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/ci/fattach/get/601/

How does this impact genealogy and family history research? It simply means that the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) still is a viable source to check; however, its inclusiveness and effectiveness will dimension to a certain degree over time.

When conducting genealogically research, there are a variety of records that hold valuable information.  One of these record types is military records.  There are a myriad of custodians of military records.  For example, soldier and sailors discharge papers may be found in the local county courthouse.  Military service records also may be found in state archives, libraries, and genealogical and local historical societies.  They may be found abstracted in books, genealogy journals, newsletters, and quarterlies, as well as among family documents, and entities such as the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Brief Overview of U.S. Wars

The American wars timeline dates back from the 1600s beginning with the colonies up to modern times.  Major United States military wars include the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, Mexican-American War, the U.S. Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf Coast War, etc.  Evidence resulting from these campaigns includes military rolls & rosters, service records, pension files, land bounty warrants, draft registrations, and others.  With these records, we may document our ancestors and family member’s military service. 

 Where May I Request My Ancestor’s Military Service Records?

As mentioned earlier, evidence of our ancestor’s military service may be found in a variety of locations.  However, many records of military service may be found in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).  Veterans may request copies of their service records.  Immediate family members or next-of-kin may request copies of their deceased family member’s service records.   Limited access to these records is available to the public.

 A.  National Archives at St. Louis:

The combined collections of the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) and the National Archives at St. Louis house military and civilian records from WWI to present time, including Naval & U.S. Coast Guards records dating back to 1884.

 B.  National Archives in Washington DC:

The National Archives in Washington DC houses military and civilian records dating back to the Revolutionary War.   The time period covers 1775 to 1919, and the dates vary depending upon the type of military unit.

For more information about these collections and instructions on how to order these records, see http://www.archives.gov/research/military/

Also for military records on the county/state levels, such as service in a state militias and volunteer groups, check with the state archives for that location as well as local historical societies, libraries, and state projects such as the Florida Memory Project.