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Turn Your Heart

Edna and Jesse Weybright, married Christmas Day 1911

On Saturday, I gave several presentations on genealogy as part of a seminar celebrating the re-opening of the Family History Library at our church building in Ossining, NY.  One of my topics was "How to Use the Internet to Research Your Roots."  I'm a bit obsessive about genealogy; I've mentioned that here a time or two before.  In case you've ever wondered where your family comes from and would like to dip a toe in the delightfully addictive genealogy pool, here are some links with commentary from my lecture notes.

Helpful resources for getting started:

For the more advanced user:

  • Ancestry.com (subscription fee, but worth every penny if you are homebound; many libraries and Family History Centers have limited access subscriptions that are free for patrons to use)
  • The National Archives (online indexes; indvidual records can be ordered for a fee)
  • Stevemorse.org (Ellis Island and other immigration point searches)
  • One-name.org (fantastic and little-known surname resource)
  • Vital records, including adoption and probate records
  • Newspaper archives
  • Land grant records
  • Military records
  • Cemetery transcriptions

Specialized resources such as

Finally: here's a website that has save me headaches time after time.  Often tombstones will list a death date, then list the exact age of the deceased: 53 years, 8 months, and 6 days, for example.  This handy tool converts that information into a birthdate: awesome.

On Saturday, I discussed all of these resources for a half hour (and probably could have gone on quite a bit longer).  I won't go into that level of detail here, but read the posts I linked to in the first paragraph of this post and email me if you have any questions.  For me, genealogy ranks right up there with family life and writing in terms of personal satisfaction and fulfillment. Give it a try and see whether you agree.

Reader Comments (9)

My! One could spend an indefinite amount of time researching one's roots. How would I find the time??

September 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTC

This is a great passion of the women on both sides of my family. Look forward to diving in myself someday!

September 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

I think I may have to copy this entire post and send it to a ton of people I know! You're brilliant, Luisa!

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterL.T. Elliot

Wonderful resource. You are such an inspiration. This is yet another of your posts I need to bookmark for future and continued reference. (And I LOVE the photo!)

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercharrette

Love Emily's hat! Is she your ancestor?

Calculating dates also gives me fits, though my ancestors' family members' graves are mostly on the other side of the country from me, sigh.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLee Ann

Lee Ann, she is a distant cousin, and it IS the best hat of all time.

Many county GenWeb sites--especially in the East--feature full tombstone transcriptions online--often with photos! I have actually only been to a couple of cemeteries where ancestors are buried; the rest of the data I have gotten through these wonderful resources.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLuisa Perkins

When I am ready to dive in I shall come pick your brain.

I am not ready yet. It may be a while. But you have given me a nudge in the right direction.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEowyn

I too am very fond of Emily's hat. And I like the arm's length distance between the two of them on their wedding day. :-D

Genealogy is one of those things that's already been done in my family. My family has gone as far as they can go, back to a little orphan named Thomas who stowed away on a boat to America in 1609. This ties my hands significantly in this arena. Even so, my dad used his line of work and his connections to do other genealogy for other families. Maybe one day I'll jump in and do something similar. It's so important.

I love that you gave this presentation. You're the absolute perfect person for it. I'm certain you made a difference, and that lots of people are being found now thanks to you.

September 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrillig of Brillypants

Okay, I'm using my husband's computer right now, and realizing that my name is saved here as "Brillig of Brillypants." That must have been the name I chose last time I was on this computer... It was not intentional today. hahaha.

September 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrillig of Brillypants

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