thegenealogygirl


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Preparing for RootsTech 2018 – A Few Tips

rootstech 2018

RootsTech 2018 is coming right up.

 

I will be attending once again this year and I can’t wait!  Many of my plans are taken care of, but I’m still working on the two most important items:

1 – Selecting classes to attend and printing the handouts.

2 – Making my FHL research plan for my free time.

Let’s talk a little bit about those two very important items.

 

Class Choice & Handouts

It’s important to carefully look over the RootsTech schedule, you can find it here.  The RootsTech app allows you to create an electronic schedule of classes.  If that works for you, great!

I use the app, but I also make a detailed paper schedule for each day of the week.  Why?

There are so many reasons.  My perspective changes throughout the week.  Sometimes I attend a class that is so incredible, I decide I want to go to every class taught by that teacher during the rest of the week.  And, unfortunately, the opposite has happened.  I attend a class taught by someone and decide to skip any other classes taught by that person.  Sometimes a class is full by the time you get there and you need a backup plan.  And then sometimes a presenter isn’t able to be there for one reason or another, and once again, you need a backup plan.  Sometimes I have selected more than one class on a specific topic, but the first one I attended was so detailed that I decided to change my later plans and learn about another topic of interest to me.  There are lots of reasons you might decide to change your schedule during the week.

I try to choose three classes I am interested in for each session.  I make myself a schedule in Google docs.  I rank my three choices as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice.  Sometimes I add a note to remind myself of what I hope to learn from a specific class, like – “maybe I can learn some tricks that will help me track down John Costello’s immigration records?”  I include all relevant data in my document – classroom, teacher, class title and description, etc.  Here is a sample page from my schedule for last year:

RootsTech 2017 schedule

Notice that I even added information about streaming sessions and times when the class is being offered again during the week.  Those are important factors to consider.

I spend time making my schedule really user-friendly for me.  I print out my schedule for each day, staple it together and then this is the part that works especially well for me – I use a different colored folder for each day.  I use a few large paperclips to paperclip the schedule to the front of the folder.  And then on the inside, I have ALL of the handouts for each of my class choices – 1st-3rd.  I write on them so that I know which handout is for which class.  The handouts are paperclipped together by session, with the first choice class in the front of the stack.

Seems excessive right?

Well, there is plenty of downtime in between classes and while you wait for the general session to start.  I try to always be one class ahead on my final decision.  What does that mean?

Well, while I wait for the general session to start, I look over my three choices for the class after the general session.  I skim the handouts, finalize my decision, make any necessary adjustments to my backup plan (like switching my 2nd and 3rd choices), and then look at the map so I know where I am going after the general session ends.  While I wait for the first class to start, I go through the same process to prepare for the next session.

I love having the printed handout to write on, but I also bring a notebook in case I want to write more than will fit on the handout.

I add one more very important list to my schedule – a list of exhibit hall goals.  That might include things like purchasing DNA kits, getting coupons from specific vendors, meeting someone at their booth, purchasing some specific books, or learning about a new tool, group, or tech item.  Having a list of exhibit hall goals that is printed is really helpful for me so that I don’t forget anything.

 

FHL Research Plan

One of the best parts of being at RootsTech is the opportunity to do some research at the Family History Library.  It’s really important to have a plan for that research time.  And a backup plan, and a second backup plan, and even a third backup plan…

Last year, my top priority was getting a long list of South African probate files.  I had a detailed list of film numbers and reference numbers to help me locate the items quickly.  I had double-checked and finalized that list on Monday.  On Wednesday I was in the library going through those microfilms.  When I got to the 6th probate file, I had some trouble locating the file on the microfilm and went into the FamilySearch catalog to make sure I hadn’t written the microfilm number down incorrectly.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that all 400+ microfilm in that collection were suddenly online and viewable from home when just on Monday they were not!  Thankfully, I had several backup plans and quickly shifted gears.

Just like I like having a physical, printed schedule for each day of RootsTech, I like to have a physical, printed research plan so that I can have it in my hand as I wander the library looking for things.  It’s much easier for me to glance at a piece of paper and make notes on that, check things off, etc, than to have to keep pulling up a list on my phone or on the computers.

I have lots of work to do to get my class schedule and research plan prepared, but it will be so worth it!  The more time I spend preparing, the more I learn during the sessions, and the more I find in the library.  Preparation makes the week even better.

Are you attending RootsTech?  If so, do you have any favorite tips to share?  Happy Monday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery today!

 

 


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52 Ancestors – Finding Andrew Brown’s Parents

Thankerton-Gardens-00027

Thankerton, photo by Frieda Oxenham, used with permission. Originally posted here.

 

Short lives, lived by people with common names, before civil registration began, are difficult to trace.

Difficult, but not impossible.

My fourth great-grandfather, Andrew Brown, led one of those short lives, with a common name, before civil registration.  Learning his story seemed impossible when I first began researching my Scottish ancestors many years ago.  But it was not, in fact, impossible – just slow and difficult.

For many years, the only trace of Andrew came from the records of his wife and children.  Until I found him on a marriage record, the first record I found in which he appears for an event about his own life.  As years passed, additional bits and pieces were gathered.  Some were promising, others confusing, and plenty were missing.  Last year I found a handful of records that tied it all together.  But I was still missing two highly desired documents.  Just last week, I found one of those two records.  The remaining item, still missing, was for his child.  But the record that was found helped clear up some mystery surrounding that child.  So now it is time to tell the story of Andrew Brown from the beginning.

 

A Challenging Beginning

 

Andrew Brown entered this world in 1828 at a disadvantage.  He was born to unmarried parents at a time when illegitimacy was considered shameful.  His baptism record states:

 

Brown       James Brown in the parish of Liberton and Margaret Thomson in this Parish a natural son named Andrew born August 18th bapd Decemr 21st 1828″1

 

Natural son.  Not lawful son.  A slightly kinder way to say that Andrew was illegitimate.

My Scottish family members were poor.  They were usually laborers, servants, or miners.  There were many illegitimate births in the Scottish branches of my tree.  Those children, precious to me, but labeled and shamed, were often raised by grandparents.  The mothers did not always go on to marry.  The stigma had a lasting effect.

But for Andrew, his birth did not prevent him from being raised by his mother.  Nor did it prevent his mother from marrying.

Six years after Andrew’s birth, his mother Margaret married John Baillie on the 17th of October 1834 in Wiston and Roberton, Lanark, Scotland.2

While discovering that marriage cheered my heart, finding Margaret, John, their children AND Andrew living together in Wiston and Roberton on the 1841 Census3 filled my heart to bursting.  Not only did John Baillie marry a woman who would have been labeled as a fornicatrix, but he welcomed her young, illegitimate, son into their home.  In my family, that is unprecedented and has been matched only once more.  At least, in the records I have found so far…

 

Beginning His Family

 

On the 15th of June 1849, Andrew married Mary Robertson in Wanlockhead, Dumfries, Scotland.4    Andrew was living in the parish of Wiston, Mary in the parish of Sanquhar.  A record for banns can be found in each parish.5

Mary was older, but exactly how much older is difficult to determine.  In reviewing the records of her life, she has an approximate birth year that ranges from 1821-1827 making her somewhere between one and seven years Andrew’s senior.

Andrew and Mary’s first known child is William Brown, born in about 1849 in Muirkirk, Ayr, Scotland.6

In the Spring of 1851, Andrew is found living as a servant in the household of David M Lapraik in Muirkirk and working as an agricultural laborer.7  Mary and William are also in Muirkirk, living in the village.  Mary is listed as a handsewer.8  Both Andrew and Mary are listed as married despite being in separate households.

Andrew and Mary welcomed their second child, Alexander Robertson Brown, 27 September 1851 in Pettinain, Lanark, Scotland.9  I hope this move provided a job and living arrangements that kept the family under the same roof.

Exactly twenty-five months later, a third son, Andrew Brown, was born to Andrew and Mary on 27 October 1853 in Covington and Thankerton, Lanark, Scotland.10  On the baptism record for Andrew, son of Andrew, an address of Mainz is listed.  This becomes very important in the quest to find Andrew Brown’s death record.

At this point in 1853, Andrew and Mary have three known children – William, Alexander, and Andrew.  In FamilySearch, there is a fourth child listed for Andrew and Mary.  A daughter named Catherine, ID# KNHZ-Z8V, who is listed as being born in 1854 in Scotland.  I can find no trace of Catherine.  Is she really their daughter?  I don’t know.

 

Death & Leaving Mary to an Uncertain Future

 

Three-hundred-and-sixty-four days after the birth of Andrew, Andrew Brown dies on 26 October 1854 in Covington and Thankerton, Lanark, Scotland.11  That record holds little information and reads:

 

Octr 26        Andrew Brown, Mains        aged 25

 

With the overwhelming number of death records for an Andrew Brown born in 1828, the address of Mainz/Mains was a crucial detail to tie this death record to my Andrew Brown.

Twenty-five years is a short life.  Andrew spent his years as an agricultural laborer or ploughman.  For part of those years, he lived in the beautiful area of Covington and Thankerton as seen above.  I am glad to know he lived and worked in such a lovely place.

His death left Mary as the widowed mother of at least three young children.  She would go on to have a daughter named Christina Greenshields Robertson, twenty-eight-and-one-half months after the death of Andrew.12  Like Andrew, Christina was illegitimate.  For many years, other genealogists listed Christina as a Brown, daughter of Andrew and Mary.  But she was not.

Like Andrew’s mother Margaret, Christina’s illegitimate birth did not prevent Mary from going on to have a second marriage and additional children.  But that is Mary’s story, not Andrew’s.

In just twenty-five years, Andrew was able to experience work, marriage, and fatherhood.  I hope that he experienced joy.  I hope that he loved and was loved.

At the end of his life, Andrew left behind a widow and at least three sons.  Those three sons would go on to give him a large posterity.  The last time I counted in 2014, I knew about 169 descendants of Andrew.  As of today, I have identified 188 descendants.  There are likely many, many more, but Andrew left behind sons with the surname of Brown and tracking everyone down has not been simple.

Thank you, Andrew, for being part of my story.  And thank you for helping me find the details of your birth, childhood, and adulthood.  I felt your nudges and now your story has been told.

 

 

 

Happy Monday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery this week!  Have you considered joining the 52 Ancestors challenge?  You can learn more here.

 

 

Thankerton photo originally posted here.

 

 


  1. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Births and baptisms (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 25 May 2017), entry for Andrew Brown baptism, 21 December 1828, Wiston and Roberton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 660/ 20 24, p. 24 of 130. 
  2. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Banns and marriages (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 25 May 2017), entry for John Baillie marriage, 17 October 1834, Wiston and Roberton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 660/ 20 109, p. 109 of 130. 
  3. 1841 Scotland Census, Lanarkshire, Wiston and Roberton, enumeration district (ED) 1, page 14, line 920, Newton Toll, John Baillie Household; database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 January 2018); citing Original data: Scotland. 1841 Scotland Census. Reels 1-151. General Register Office for Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland. 
  4. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Banns and marriages (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 25 May 2017), entry for Andrew Brown marriage, 15 June 1849 in Wanlockhead, Banns registered in Sanquhar Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 848/ 20 196, p. 196 of 209. 
  5. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Banns and marriages (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 23 January 2018), entry for Andrew Brown marriage, 15 June 1849, Wiston and Roberton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 660/ 20 123, p. 123 of 130. 
  6. 1851 census of Scotland, Ayrshire, Muirkirk, 607/ 2/ 14, p. 14 of 37 (stamped), lines 4-5, Village, Mary Brown Household; image, Scotland, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 23 January 2018). 
  7. 1851 census of Scotland, Ayrshire, Muirkirk, 607/ 4/ 11, p. 11 of 15, line 10, 36 Hall, Andrew Brown in Household of David M Lapraik; image, Scotland, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 23 January 2018). 
  8. 1851 census of Scotland, Ayrshire, Muirkirk, 607/ 2/ 14, p. 14 of 37 (stamped), lines 4-5, Village, Mary Brown Household; image, Scotland, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 23 January 2018). 
  9. Pettinain Parish (Lanarkshire, Scotland), Old Parish Registers OPR 653/1-3, p. 66, Alexander Brown baptism, 2 November 1851; FHL microfilm 1,066,603, item 3. 
  10. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Births and baptisms (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 5 November 2010), entry for Andrew Brown baptism, 6 November 1853, Covington and Thankerton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 634/00 0020 43. 
  11. Scotland, “Search Old Parish Registers (OPR) Deaths and burials (1553-1854),” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 14 July 2009), entry for Andrew Brown death, 26 October 1854, Covington and Thankerton Parish; citing OPR Registers no. 634/ 20 66, p. 66 of 66. 
  12. Scotland, “Statutory Births 1855-2016,” database, Scotlands People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : accessed 14 July 2009), birth entry for Christina Green (Greenshields on image) Robertson, 12 March 1857, Pettinain in Lanark; citing Statutory Registers no. 653/ 6. 


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Finding “Hidden” Records on FamilySearch

FamilySearch_Logo

If you are reading this, you are most likely familiar with searching for records on FamilySearch.  What you may not be familiar with are three types of “hidden” records you can utilize on FamilySearch – images that aren’t indexed but are part of a partially indexed collection; browse collections; and digitized microfilm collections in the catalog.

Hidden Record Type 1:

Images that aren’t indexed but are part of a partially indexed collection.  I will use some Québec records as my example.  Let’s start with the Québec search page on FamilySearch:

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.52.32 AM

 

You will notice at the top of the page it reads, “Québec Indexed Historical Records”.  It is important to note that not everything in this list is completely indexed.  As I scroll down the page I can see a list of Québec records, which also includes larger collections that have Québec records in them.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.52.49 AM

 

Only a few collections are showing until I click “Show all 21 Collections”.

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As I scroll down the list, I am looking for any collection that has a camera beside it.  That means there are images in the collection.  Close to the bottom is a collection entitled, “Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1979”.  It has a camera icon which means there are images in the collection and it lists that there are 79,535 indexed records in the collection.  The question I have is, are there more records in the collection that aren’t indexed?  I simply click on the collection to go to the search page.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.54.15 AM

 

Once I am on the search page I scroll to the bottom.  The collection has a browse option at the bottom that reads, “Browse through 1,399,175 images”.  This means that in this collection of 1,399,175 images, there are a little over 1.3 million records that are not indexed.  If I click that “Browse through 1,399,175 images” button, I can search the records like digital microfilm.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.54.29 AM

 

I get this list of parishes to help me navigate the images.  I noticed one today that I have never seen before:

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.54.40 AM

How’s that for a parish name?  😉

Here is a parish that I regularly search:

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.54.56 AM

I click on the parish name again and get this:

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Then I can click on one of the date ranges and get this:

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.55.17 AM

It is basically a digital microfilm.  This particular collection is tricky to navigate because it contains such a large span of years and the years are written out like this “one thousand seven hundred forty seven”, except they are written in French.  Despite it being a bit trickier to navigate, it is totally worth it.  I get faster every time, it just takes a little practice.

Any collection that contains images has the potential to contain more images than indexed records.  If everything is indexed in a collection, you will not see the browse option at the bottom of the search page.  MANY indexed collections contain images that are not indexed.

Hidden Record Type 2:

Browse collections.  These collections are also accessed from a main search page.

We will go back to the Québec search page and scroll to the bottom.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.52.32 AM

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These collections are labeled as “Québec Image Only Historical Records”.  Most locales have several of these browse collections.  None of the records are indexed yet.  I clicked on “Quebec Notarial Records, 1800-1920”.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.53.28 AM

You will notice that I have no search box, just the “Browse through 4,956,093” images link.  When I click that I am taken to this page:

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.53.38 AM

From here I can select a location, I chose Iberville:

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Then I choose a range of documents:

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 11.12.59 AM

Then I am once again looking at a digital microfilm.  This particular collection would be hard to use unless I have a time frame and location in mind for the record I am seeking.  That information would come from other good research.

Hidden Record Type 3:

Digitized microfilm collections in the catalog.  This particular type of record is brand new to me.  In fact, I have no idea when FamilySearch started doing this.  They snuck it in recently.  I discovered this record type while I was using microfilm at the FHL in SLC.  I had a list of Estate Files I was looking for.  I had found 6 and went looking for the 7th file when something wasn’t quite right.  That led me to look at the catalog entry for the microfilm to double check the information I would expect to find.  I thought maybe I had written the microfilm number down incorrectly.  This is the page I went to:

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I scrolled down to find my microfilm number in the collection of 419 microfilm to see this list:

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Ummmmmm… see those little camera icons on the right?!  This entire collection was digitized AFTER I had made my list of microfilm to search just shortly before going to the library.  When I click the camera I get a digital microfilm that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 11.20.01 AM.png

What on earth?!  When did FamilySearch start doing this???  The craziest part is that the images aren’t on the South Africa search page, not in the same grouping you can find here.

So.

Check the catalog, and check it again, and check it again.  I know that the rate of digitization far exceeds the rate of indexing but apparently FamilySearch can’t keep up with cataloging in an orderly fashion either?

One important last thought – FamilySearch often has images available that go away once the entire collection is indexed.  If you find an image that is important to your research, PLEASE, don’t assume the image will always be there.  Save a digital copy of that image.

And while we are on the subject of disappearing images, it is important to know that the contractual agreements that FamilySearch enters into with the owners of records can change at any time.  In fact, several collections that matter to me and my research are no longer available.  FamilySearch still holds the microfilm, but they are under lock and key because the contracts were renegotiated.

 

Have you been using these three types of “hidden” collections on FamilySearch?

 


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Defined: Indexing

gg, what is indexing

Indexing is vital to genealogy work.

Without indexers you wouldn’t be able to search for genealogical records from the comforts of your own home.  Without indexers you would be using only microfilm, microfiche, complied histories and other tangible media items.  While these items are wonderful and still have their place – a very important place – indexers have significantly reduced the amount of time it takes to make amazing genealogical discoveries.

Indexers make genealogy

So.  Much.  Better.

Hug an indexer today.  Or even better, be an indexer today!