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52 Weeks Of Personal Genealogy History

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Identifying Your Old Family Photos

Years ago I was given boxes and boxes of old photos. These old family photos are a treasured part of my family history. Sad to say many of them were not labeled on the back with names, dates, or places. The photographs have a story to tell...but about whom? Who is this person I am looking at.
Solving the mystery faces and places in your old family photographs requires knowledge of your family history, combined with good old fashioned detective work. When you're ready to take on the challenge, these are the steps to take.
1. First I need to identify the type of photograph. Not all old photographs are the same. By identifying the type of photographic technique used to create your old family photos, it is possible to narrow down the time period when the photo was taken. Daguerreotypes, for example, were popular from 1839 to about 1870, while cabinet cards were in use from about 1866 to 1906. Ambrotypes in 1851. Ambrotypes were presented in mounts and cases in the same fashion as daguerreotypes and because of this they are commonly mistake for daguerreotypes. America was the favorite place of production. Early tintypes were cased like daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. It is difficult to tell an ambrotype from a tintype when it is under glass in a case. Uncased tintypes are readily identified by the thin metallic plate holding the positive image. Occasionally tintypes are found on plates that are brown or red instead of black. They were made in a variety of sizes the most common being 2½ x 3½ inches, the same size as the carte de visite paper prints which were popular 1860. They were the size of the visiting cards and were highly popular and collected.

The setting or backdrop for a photograph may be able to provide clues to location or time period. Early photographs, especially those taken prior to the advent of flash photography in 1884, were often taken outside, to take advantage of natural light. Often the family may appear posed in front of their family home or automobile. You may have photos with that same home or car that you have the name on.

Photographs taken during the 19th century were not the casual snapshots of today but, generally, formal affairs where the family got dressed in their "Sunday best." Clothing fashions and hairstyle choices changed from year to year, providing yet another way to determine the approximate date when the photograph was taken. You need to pay special attention to waist size and styles, necklines, skirt lengths and widths, dress sleeves and fabric choices. Women's clothing styles tend to change more frequently than men, but men's fashions can still be helpful. Menswear is all in the details, such as coat collars and neckties. There are books that you can buy or get from the library to help you identify the time period of the clothing.

Check both the front and the back of the photograph for a photographer's name or imprint. If you're lucky, the photographer's imprint will also list the location of his studio. This can narrow down your search some if you know where different ancestors lived. Ask the members of local historical or genealogical society to determine the time period the photographer was in business.

Once you have been able to narrow down a location and time period for an old photograph, your knowledge of your ancestors comes into play. Where did the photo come from? Knowing which branch of the family the photo was passed down from can narrow down your search. If the photograph is a family portrait or group shot, try to identify other people in the photo. Look for other photos from the same family line which include recognizable details - the same house, car, or furniture. Talk to your family members to see if they recognize any of the faces or features of the photograph. This is one big key.. talk to the older family members while they can remember or are even still with you.
If you still aren't able to identify the subjects of your photo, create a list of the ancestors which meet all of the possible criteria, including approximate age, family line and location. Then cross off any people who you have been able to identify in other photos as different individuals. You may find you only have one or two possibilities left!
Good luck on your quest to identify family members.

Friday, June 12, 2009

1911 census in United Kingdom

Thanks to Kimberly Powell's blog for this information about 1911 Census
2.4 million people in Wales were recorded in the census taken on the night of April 2, 1911. Today the records of those people living in Wales in 1911 are being made available online for the first time at http://www.1911census.co.uk/, where they join the 1911 census records from England first released in January 2009.
The 1911 census is the most detailed census since UK records began, and the first for which the original census schedules have been preserved - complete with our ancestors' own handwriting. Completed by all householders in Wales and England on Sunday, 2 April 1911, the census records show the name, age, place of birth, marital status and occupation of every resident in every home, as well as their relationship to the head of the household. Because these records were released in advance of the scheduled 2012 date, certain sensitive information relating to infirmity (e.g. 'deaf', 'dumb', 'blind', 'lunatic' etc.) and to children of women prisoners is not yet available.
Search results offer access to both transcribed text versions, and high quality color images of the original handwritten census returns. This is a subscription-based site; searches are free, but you pay as you go to view each record - 10 credits per transcript and 30 credits for each original household page. Visitors to the website can buy 60 credits for £6.95. Findmypast.com vouchers are also valid on 1911census.co.uk.
An additional five counties have been added to the National Archives of Ireland's Census of Ireland 1911 Web site. Census returns for Cork, Donegal, Galway, King's County (Offaly) and Wexford join those from Antrim, Down, Dublin and Kerry that were released last year. Best of all, these census records, including the searchable index and digitized images, are free!
The 1911 and 1901 Ireland censuses are the only surviving censuses that cover the entire island of Ireland open to the public. They are also unusual because the original household manuscripts, filled out and signed by the head of each household on census day, survive. The surviving census returns of most other countries only include enumerator books, with family details transcribed by the census taker from the householder returns (introducing the opportunity for additional errors).
The latest news from the National Archives of Ireland indicates that they hope to add the following additional counties by mid-July: Armagh, Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Fermanagh, Kildare, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo and Waterford. Hopefully, followed in mid-August, by Londonderry (Derry), Longford, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Queen’s County (Laois), Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Tyrone, Westmeath and Wicklow.
In September, the site will be revised to include full transcription of all of the data on the household forms for 1911, including religion, occupation, relationship to head of family, literacy status, marital status, county or country of origin, Irish language proficiency, specified illnesses, and child survival information.
The National Archives of Ireland also hopes to launch the 1901 Ireland census, with all data transcribed, late in 2009.

Genealogy Goal of the Day

One of my plans for this year is to take time out from my genealogy research and spend some time documenting my family history quest. Most of us spend hours on end documenting our ancestors, but spend little time on documenting our own lives. I plan to start a genealogy journal and take notes on cemetery visits, travels, phone calls, and other family history research efforts for others to learn from later. I plan to include correspondence and details on new-found cousins I come across. This will be the time I can write down stories of great "finds" as well as disappointments when I am still at a dead end. I hope that my passion for family history will be an inspiration to future generations.

The Fun of the Hunt for Family

Tonight I planned to spend some time at Ancestry.com and search for more information on one line of my family. I keep hoping to hook up with some one who shares the same John Lockwood that I do. He was my great great grandfather and served in the Civil War, Calvary from Wisconsin. I have a picture of his wife with my great grandmother but none of him. He haunts my thoughts and I am continuing to search hoping to make a link with someone else who knows him. \
Well tonight still nothing new on him. Instead worked on his wife Betsy's parents , Augustus and Henrietta Eddington. I started to down loading census reports and printing for my family note book and now we have a new mystery. There are two children listed with another last name. First thought is of course great great great grandma Henrietta may of been married before. The fun of a new mystery. The search goes on. That is the fun of genealogy. The mysteries never end.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What's on my mind tonight

My family research is more than names & dates. I think that sometimes we are in the rush to get our lines to go back as far back as we can that we forget to take the time to learn more about the people our ancestors were and the times they lived in. One of my goals this year is that I plan to take time to record family stories, either electronically or on paper before this oral history is lost forever. There are not many left older than me but I have cousins who knew family I did not. I hope to visit with them in person or through emails and get stories and remembrances that they have. Another thing I plan to do is try to find at least one additional record on each of my direct ancestors, choosing a record which will hopefully tell me more about them than I already know. Census records can include interesting information such as your ancestors' occupation, education level and property value. Wills and probate records can provide you with all sorts of fascinating information including debts, friends and even the bed covers and pots and pans your ancestors owned. Tax rolls, immigration records and land records are other good sources for information about the lives of your ancestors. We can also chart our ancestor's life against a historical timeline and learn more about wars, plagues, crop shortages, big storms and other noteworthy things that our ancestors may have experienced.
One example is the other night as I researched the records on http://www.ancestry.com/ for a great great great grandfather of mine I found that the Wisconsin Janesville City Directory 1884 to 1885 was listed and that it gave me his address during that year. I passed near Janesville and never even knew he lived there being I just found his name this year at http://www.ancestry.com/ and using their census reports.
I need to come up with a list of places I want to visit in the future as I pass through the states my ancestors lived. If any one out there wants to share their methods I would love to hear from you. I also would love to search local antique stores in that area looking for postcards from the 1900's or earlier that may show the area. I could also go on http://www.ebay.com/ to search for these postcards, but I love antique stores the best. These are just a couple of things on my mind tonight. Have a great night and keep digging for your roots.

Week 8 of Getting Organized

Go to http://www.ancestry.com/ and sign up for mailing of your surnames. I daily receive general emails and updates. These can be interesting to read whether they are your family line or not

Week 7 Starting to Organize your photos

Each of these steps will be an on going part of the family research but a great way to at least get started with each part. For example I have been working on Step 6 all along. As I find more information this step keeps continuing.
Now on to Week 7
Take that huge pile of photos that you gathered earlier and start to search them by generations, vacations you took, special family gatherings etc. Put these for now in large brown envelopes that are clearly labeled. DO NOT THROW AWAY... PRECIOUS PHOTOS ... This process will help you determine how much work you have in the future. As you take new photos continue this process.