google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist: October 2009

Back-up Your Genealogy - Do As I Say, Not As I Do!

Tomorrow is Data Back-up day and I will be the first to admit I am not very diligent about backing up my files. Sure, I know the consequences and I can sit here and tell you all the important reasons why you should back up your files. I have experienced the cold sweat one breaks into when your computer crashes, a virus takes over and you feel you have just lost everything you have spent years working on. However, I can also sit here and tell you I am still constantly reminded by my husband to back-up, back-up, back-up. Only because, it will be him that I will turn to in my hour of need , to pull off some miracle to recapture my files.

I have lost files in past so you think I would have learned by lesson. One thing I believe about backing up files is not only the importance of backing up but I quite honestly I believe we need to back –up in more than one fashion.

I currently use CD’s to back up or an external hard drive. Nevertheless, particularly my genealogy data, I also like to make hard copies and file them in a binder. Backing up the computers in the house, is like taking out the garbage it has become another household task on the To Do list. With five computers in the house covering desktops, laptops and netbooks maintenance of computers and backing up of files has become an important part of life.

Many will debate what the perfect back-up system is. However, I believe several methods need to be considered. I am a little concerned that in years to come, my CD’s or external hard drive will be inaccessible, remember 8 track tapes or the VCR. With ever-changing technology, I can’t help but wonder where we are going to be next. This is why I like to print hard copies of my genealogy research as well. Now many might argue you need special paper that will stand the test of time, printed not copied, the ink will fade. But come on, we have been known to find the oldest of documents in the deepest darkest caves, does the Dead Sea Scrolls come to mind.

Ok I am having a little fun but I do believe in taking all the technology available to an individual today and using it to its fullest potential to keep your genealogy from becoming extinct.

Genealogy News Weekend Update - Oct25th-Oct31st, 2009

Registration Opens tomorrow for 2010 NGS Family History Conference
Online registration for the 2010 NGS Family History Conference will open tomorrow, November 1, 2009.

The 2010 NGS Family History Conference will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mark your calendars for 28 April–1 May 2010.

Whether your family helped settle the nation, migrated across the country, stayed in the same place, or recently arrived in America, this conference has much to offer. The family history resources in Salt Lake City, Utah, will provide a depth and breadth to your research. The Family History Library has an extensive collection of international records. A major focus of the conference will be increasing research skills in foreign countries.

Data Back up Day Contest at Geneabloggers
For the next upcoming Data Backup Day - Sunday, November 1, 2009 - in partnership with Novosoft LLC, GeneaBloggers will be giving away copies of Handy Backup software to three lucky winners (value $39 US)!
Read more:

New to

Honolulu Passenger Lists, 1900–1953
During the first half of the 20th century, millions of people traveled to Hawaii. The Honolulu passenger lists document people who were immigrating to the island paradise to stay, as well as others who were just visiting or passing through on their way to the mainland.

You’ll find U.S. citizens as well as travelers from the Pacific Rim—Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and Canada. The largest percentage of people in the collection comes from the Philippines—many of whom came over to work in Hawaii’s sugar plantations.

Entire U.S. Census goes Interactive with Footnote announced it will digitize and create a searchable database for all publicly available U.S. Federal Censuses, ranging from the first U.S. Census taken in 1790 to the most current public census from 1930. Through its partnership with the National Archives, will add more than 9.5 million images featuring over half a billion names to its extensive online record collection.

Follow Friday- My Go To Website for Passenger Lists

I have two ancestors in my tree who are a royal pain in my...... These two gentlemen James Stapleton and  George Vogel arrived in Canada in the early 1800's. However, ships and countries were not doing a very good job at tracking these early pioneer's arrivals. Some passenger lists do exist for these early days but I'm afraid there are plenty that do not exist. One other key problem,  not all passengers were listed. Often the passenger lists will read the male travellers name but not his wife or children.They may only be listed as wife, 2 sons or family of 4. Slightly frustrating. Where do I go to scour passenger lists; Ship's List.

Every month I stop in at Ship's List to check out the new information added to the database. Ship's List has been online since 1999. They have immigration reports, newspaper records, shipwreck information, ship pictures, ship descriptions, shipping-line fleet lists and more; as well as hundreds of passenger lists to Canada, USA, Australia and even some for South Africa.

One downfall with the site is that you cannot search by the surname of your ancestor. Instead, you have to  open each passenger list individually and scroll through to find the name you're looking for. However, the Navigation bar at the top of the home page will help you refine your search. It can be slow and tedious but I assure you if I were to find these two gentlemen, you would hear my jublilation from here. Click here to begin your search.

On a side note, if your  ancestors settled in Canada in the area known as the Huron Tract then you will be very interested in checking out my article in the November/December issue of Discovering Family History Magazine. Finding Canadian Pioneers of the Huron Tract offers a brief history of the area, an overview of the pioneers who settled this land and a great many resources for seeking them out.

Tombstone Tuesday- Helping Hands

Every time I look at this picture, I have to laugh. Every cemetery is a little different. Finding the tombstone you are seeking can differ from cemetery to cemetery. Most cemeteries are laid out in sections for ease of finding tombstones. Often maps are posted somewhere at the cemetery or online and sometimes you can even find an office with a helpful attendant and an online database.

However, before heading out to the cemetery always do a little preliminary work before wandering a graveyard. I thought I had done my preliminary work prior to arriving at this cemetery. I was able to locate an online database listing names, sections, and the number where the tombstone I was looking for was situated. Unfortunately, when we arrived we were overwhelmed by the size of this cemetery. After driving around in circles trying to find the section we resorted to the helping hand of a maintenance worker. With his map in hand, we followed him in our vehicle. Note even he needed the master map to find our tombstone. We had a good laugh. It was one of those moments.

Please stop by my blog this week and take my Halloween poll, it’s all about genealogists and ghosts. Do you believe?

Do Genealogists believe in Ghosts?

Halloween is quickly approaching and soon trick or treaters will be at our door collecting a little candy and having some fun. In the spirit of the season I felt we should have a little fun as well. As an adult my trick or treating days are done but I love a good ghost story. I am intrigued. Did you know that 1 in 3 people in America believe in ghosts accordingly a 2005 Gallup Poll? With the ever increasing interest in ghost hunters and reality TV shows about the paranormal I would think that this number may be slightly higher by now. So I wondered how many genealogists believe in ghosts.

As genealogists we are conditioned to focus on facts. We want the hard facts in the form of proof, names, dates, documents and so on. Since we are trained to think in facts does that make it harder for the family historian to believe? I am curious how my fellow family historians feel about ghosts.

It goes with out saying we spend a whole lot time in cemeteries, attics and basements looking for information to connect us to our ancestors, according to TV and movies, prime real estate for ghosts. Has anyone ever actually had a ghostly encountered in their genealogical travels? Has anyone ever met up with an ancestor from the past?

There is no shortage of ghost hunters. I understand that ghost hunters are relying on genealogists to help them in their endeavors to either prove or disprove a client’s ghostly experience. Ghost hunters head into haunted homes and hire genealogists to investigate the history of the house and its past residents to help form a back story to a possible spiritual claim. I find it all quite fascinating.

I will say that although I have never seen a ghost I am open to the concept. I have had a couple of experiences that I feel I cannot explain. Was it a past relative trying to connect with me or my imagination?

In the spirit of the Halloween holiday I am extending a challenge to my fellow genealogists to answer my poll. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you had a ghostly experience you can or can’t explain? Looking forward to hearing your comments.

Genealogy News Weekly Update - Oct18th-Oct24th

New Indexing Projects from

They include:
Argentina, Buenos Aires, 1855 census part 2
Canada, Ontario- trust cemeteries 1826-1935(partnered with Ontario Genealogical Society/Toronto Branch)
U.S. Maine 1920 Federal Census
U.S. New York 1920 Federal Census

Recently completed projects include:
Argentina, Mendoza, San Juan Census 1869
Guatemala, Guatemala- Census 1877
U.S. Kentucky – 1920 Federal Census
U.S. Indiana- 1920 Federal Census
U.S. Vermont- militia records 1861-1867

Upcoming GenWise Chats

Saturday, October 24, 8:00am (MDT) (2:00pm GMT)
GENTREK: Seven Stages in Genealogy Growth, Part 3
This week we continue our 4-part series with the next stages in a genealogist's progress. Each one builds upon the others and sometimes we find ourselves in more than one stage at a time. Come see which stages you've gone through and share some of your experiences. Your Chat Hosts, Jayne McCormick and Dae Powell..

Sunday, October 25, 7:00pm (MDT) (Monday, October 26, 1:00am GMT)
Pennsylvania Research Chat: Germans in Pennsylvania.
A brief talk about the German element and an invitation to ask for lookups on German families from my collection of CD church records and county histories. Your Chat Host, Jim Avery..

Monday, October 26, 8:00pm (MDT) (Tuesday, October 27, 2:00am GMT)
GENTREK:Avoiding Genealogy Errors
Regardless of our approach, some general errors will creep in if we aren't prepared. We'll discuss some of these errors and methods to avoid them. Your Chat Hosts, Jayne McCormick and Dae Powell..

Tuesday, October 27, 8:00pm (MDT) (Wednesday, October 28, 2:00am GMT)
Paranormal Chat: Meditation. Genealogy Database Title

New Databases Added to

Casseler Namenbüchlein : Einwohner-Namen der Kurfürstlichen Haupt- und Residenzstadt Cassel nach ihrer Bedeutung geordnet und erläutert (in German)

Geschichte des Geschlechtes der Daude (in German)
Le livre des bourgeois de l'ancienne République de Genéve (in French)
Geschichte der Familie Schenck (in German)
Urkundenbuch der Stadt Rottweil. Erster Band (in German)
Gemeindelexikon für das Königreich Preußen : auf Grund der Materialen der Volkszählung vom 1. Dezember 1905 und anderer amtlicher Quellen (in German)
Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1960, 1963-1974 - Free Index - Updated
1800 United States Federal Census - Updated
1820 United States Federal Census - Updated
Urkundliche Chronik der Familien Bartsch zu Striegau, Liegnitz, Jauer, Freiburg (in German)
Genealogische Tabellen : und die wechselseitigen verwandschaftlichen Beziehungen der Regenten- häuser: Babenberg, der P?emysliden, Piasten, Arpaden, der Häuser Anjou, Luxenburg, Jagajlo, Wasa, Habsburg und Lothringen (in German)
Stammtafel der Familie Bartenstein (in German)
Geschlechtsbeschreibung der Familie Schilling von Canstatt : als Neubearbeitung und Fortsetzung der Geschlechtsbeschreibung derer Familien von Schilling (in German)
Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1954 - Updated

Follow Friday- The Righteous Among the Nations

Last week I informed you of the Holocaust Collection at With the Holocaust at the top of my mind and the fact that I just finished at book called Clara's War by Clara Kramer and Stephen Gantz, I was encouraged to share with you what I learned this week in the hopes it will help someone else in their family history research. Let’s start with the book; Clara was a Jewish teenage girl living in Poland during WWII. She survived by hiding underneath the floor boards of a house owned by the Beck’s along with 18 others. Clara kept a diary during this time and it is from her diary and her own recollections that she tells her story. Her diary is in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

As stated in last week’s post I often wonder about some of my own Polish ancestors who lived through these horrific times. Although they were not Jewish I can’t help but wonder how this war impacted their lives. This book educated me on an organization called Yad Vashem and The Righteous Among the Nations.

Yad Vashem was established in 1953 and is Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The Yad Vashem has collected and recorded the names and biographical details of half of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis. Millions more still remain unidentified. They have taken it on as their duty to persist until all the names are recovered. They have also created a Virtual Wall of Honour called “The Righteous Among the Nations.” This memorial recognizes non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust at personal risk to themselves. On their website you will find the list of those who were saved and those who assisted them. The names are listed by countries and alphabetically as well as some personal accounts are available to read on the website.

I did happen to find a name I was looking for on this site. I contacted the organization and they were able to give me some incites in to this particular story of this individual so that I could verify whether this person was in fact a relative. I realized it was a long shot but of course as family historians we can leave no stone unturned. However, I was not successful.

Instead, I share this story with you today for two reasons; perhaps this organization can help you in your quest for a family member and secondly maybe you know of a Holocaust Victim who survived due to the courage and kindness of an individual. You can submit testimony and send photographs of the victims so they will always be remembered. If you fall into neither category then still pay this website a visit, the stories are moving and worthy of your time and attention.

Tombstone Tuesday- Titanic tombstones

These pictures are taken in a Fairview Lawn Cemetary in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 150 passengers of the doomed Titantic are buried in this cemetary by the people of Halifax who helped in the rescue. Fourty of those 150 remain unidentified. Note in the top picture a tombstone of a young unidentified child. Many bring small toys to lay at the base of this tombstone. This child was later identified as Gosta Leonard Palsson, a 2 year old Swedish child traveling with his mother.She also perished.

Weekend Update- This Week's Genealogy News Oct 10th-17th

This week news worthy events in the genealogy world.
Blog Action Day
First Blog Action Day was a success with a last count over 31,000 blogging in on Global Warming.
I'm curious how many genealogy bloggers were among that group. Keep you posted if I here.

NGS Announces Blog
The NGS sent out a newsletter informing its members it has joined the blogging community. It will no longer keep members upto date with their newsletter Upfront. Now you can subscibe to the NGS blog, click here to subscribe to their feed.

Speaker Announced for OGS Conference 2010

John Philip Colletta, PhD, will be a mainstay of the Ontario Genealogical Society’s Conference 2010.
Based in Washington, DC, John taught classes for the National Archives and Smithsonian Institution for 21 years. He lectures nationally and teaches at Samford University and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. We will all get to hear John’s humour and wisdom during the closing plenary on Sunday afternoon. His topic promises to be quite a sensation: “Hacks and Hookers and Putting Up Pickles: Snares of Yesteryear’s English”.But John’s contribution to Conference 2010 actually begins on Friday afternoon when he will present two lectures in the Professional/Advanced stream: “Stories that Instruct: Using Case Studies to Teach Genealogy Methodology” and “Principles of Good Writing and Good Storytelling”. Then on Saturday, for a special group of family historians, John will be hard at work providing the backbone of the Italian ancestry program. After all, he literally wrote the book on researching Italian ancestry. Sunday won’t be a day of rest, however. In addition to the closing plenary in the afternoon, John will give a two-part morning lecture on “Writing a Narrative History”.

Genealogy Bank Expands Database
At and have in the past month added more than 36 newspapers from 2 states - over 13 million new articles. This new coverage is detailed by website and outlined by state and title.

Blog Action Day 09: Take a Lesson from Your Ancestors

As a family historian considering today's problems with climate change, I can easily draw lines between climate change and its relationship to our ancestors. We can simplified that relationship down to one thing; our carbon footprint.

Our ancestors lead difficult lives without all the modern conveniences we have today but our carbon footprint is far greater then our ancestors. Technology has made our lives so much easier and yet so much more complicated. In the wake of our need to be bigger, stronger, faster in everything we do we have damaged this earth. And now we may have to take a lesson from our ancestors. We have to look back. We have to take a page from our ancestors lives. We have to simplify our lives. Live cleaner and reduce our carbon footprint.

No one is asking you to go back to horse and buggy. Put we can walk, ride a bike, live closer to work reduce your carbon footprint, transportation being the biggest factor in our carbon footprint. If you don’t know your carbon footprint you can go to and find out yours. With this knowledge you can work towards closing the gap between your carbon footprint and that of your ancestors.

For two long it has been all about us and we have stripped this land of its resources. We must simplify our lives. Grow our own vegetable gardens or purchase fresh from our local farmers and markets rather then purchase packaged products or purchase product that has travel around the world to get to your table. We must harness the energy of the wind and the sun to provide our heat and electricity. We have to rethink every step we take and decide if that step is to our own selfish needs or will it benefit this earth. We may not turn this mess around in our generation or even our children’s generation. But it starts with us, our children already are on top of this and with our help each generation will progress until we have reversed the damage, made our lives simpler, cleaner and healthier. It must start with us, it must start today. To learn more visit

Genealogy is about learning from our past. Research of my own history has shown me one thing that not all progress has been in our best interest. It has come at a very high price. Take a lesson from your ancestors, simplify your life and reduce your carbon footprint.

Holocaust Collection Free to View at Footnote

This week I took the opportunity to spend some time at With the release of its Holocaust Collection, I felt compelled to check it out. My only connection to the Holocaust is via my Polish ancestry. Although my Great Grandfather left Poland in 1905 long before this tragic period in time, he left behind two sisters and a brother. In my research of these remaining siblings in Poland, I have come to learn that the two sisters remained in the home village and were married and later buried in the same Parish they were baptized in. However, Stanislaw, the remaining brother is not buried in this Parish nor are his parents and so that raises questions for me as to where both he and his parents are buried. Because I have yet to uncover Stanislaw's story I do speculate as to his life during this time period. He would have been about 44 years old at the start of WWII. Their hometown village of Oscislowo is 50 km outside of Warsaw; they were short distances from two concentration camps Treblinka and Belzec. Knowing that 70,000-75,000 Poles were also exterminated during this Holocaust leads me look to this direction as a possible chapter in my great uncle’s life.

So I decided to take a closer look at the Holocaust Collection.
Do not hesitate to investigate this collection. Even if you do not have any relatives in your genealogy who survived or died in the Holocaust the collection is moving in it self.

The Holocaust Collection is done in partnership with the National Archives. You will find stories of the Holocaust from survivors, stories, maps and facts about concentration camps.
The collection also includes:
German War Crime Records
Captured German Records
Dachau Concentration Camp Entry Registers
Flossenburg Concentration Camp Entry Registers
Mauthausen Death Records
WWII Nuremburg Interrogation Records
Holocaust Era Assets

 Footnote  reminds us that not all records are fully available as of yet but to keep checking back. These records are free to everyone until Oct 31, 2009. If you choose to sign up for a subscription they are offering a reduced rate until Oct 31st, at $55.95 for an annual membership. proclaims to have over 60 million documents and images in its database. Definitely an online resource worth checking out and for the Holocaust Collection alone I have since added this website to my Best Bookmarks Collection.

Wordless Wednesday

The Man Who Started It All
Adam Kowalsky born in Oscislowo, Poland in 1883, died in Preston,Ontario Canada in 1971. My Great-Grandfather, the man whose migration and family history I became intriqued with and encouraged my genealogy journey.

Tombstone Tuesday- My Eldest Ancestor meets My Youngest

Today is Tombstone Tuesday. For a genealogist tombstones are like badges of honour. They reflect our honour and privelege of finding the grave of an ancestor long ago forgotten and being able to place them in your family tree. A very fulfilling experience for many family historians.

Today's picture is the tombstone of My Great-Great-Great-Great grandmother. I found her grave in the Catholic cemetery in Chepstow, Ontario. Susana Whittaker was a Northern Irish Protestant immigrant who married John Phelan an Irish Catholic. They received special permission to be married in Ireland in 1808, since penal laws at the time did not allow such mixed marriages. They came to Canada with their children in 1823 looking to offer their family greater opportunities and to remove themselves from the prejudices that existed in their homeland.

The young girl standing beside Susana's tombstone is my daughter and Susana's Great-Great-Great-Great -Great granddaughter. Never under estimate your children's interest in genealogy. This picture still amazes and moves me!

Pick Your Favourite Genealogy Blog

Family Tree Magazine has opened the voting for the Top 40 Genealogy Blogs. They are categoritzed into groups such as best all around blog, best personal/family blog, best how-to blog and so on. This really helps in narrowing down your picks.
If you read blogs then you know the value and knowledge that can be gained from them and if you write a blog you are fully aware of the time and effort that goes into maintaining one on a regular basis. If you fall into one or both like myself then please show your support to those on the list. I have already cast my vote. But as this list not only serves as a way to recognize some of the leaders in the genealogy blogging world it also showcases some blogs that maybe you haven't  stumbled upon yet. Either way it is worth while to head on over to Family Tree Magazine and check out the list, visit a few blogs and cast your ballot. Click here to vote! Your vote will reduce the list to the Top 80 with the final round being chosen by the editorial staff. You have until November 5th, 2009. The Family Tree Top 40 will be published in the May 2010 edition of Family Tree Magazine. Good Luck to all.