Sunday, June 5, 2011

This is the Face of Genealogy

In response to a rather insulting picture accompanying a genealogy article in the LA Weeklygeneabloggers is asking us to post pictures of our genealogy, photos of ancestors that we're proud to call family.

This is Molly (VanDyke) Stephens (22 Jan 1877-20 Mar 1944), my 2nd Great-Grandmother, who appears to be a bit camera shy:

Here's a photo of what she looks like when she's not trying to hide from the camera:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sorry About the Lack of Posts...

I am currently experiencing blogging writer's block. I have posted much of substance in the past two weeks. If anyone wants me to write a particular topic, let me know in the comments here. I genuinely want your ideas or even just posting some questions people have been wondering about me or genealogy.

Now, some business related things:

Since closed their Expert Connect service, I haven't gotten many jobs from what I've done so far. I still haven't gotten a job yet, so I just don't have the money to maintain their monthly world service. I was afraid of this happening when they announced its closure frankly.

So, I've made the decision to cancel my subscription for the month of June as of Monday. I'm not going to stop blogging on genealogy related topics and I'm still open for people asking me about doing projects for them.

Once I have a research job contracted or possibly once July rolls around, then I will most likely get my subscription again. When I'm considering going back to school in London in the fall, I need to save every penny that comes my way from the little bit of savings I have.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

This Friday: Geneablogger's Radio

Title: Military Records and Genealogy
Date: Friday, May 27, 2011
More Information:

I'd recommend tuning in and chatting with listeners if you can, but you can download the podcast later if you can't make it. If you click the link to blogtalkradio when the show is broadcasting, at the bottom of the page you will find a chat filled with listeners. I've found it to be a great way to talk with fellow genealogists while also learning about some great topics.

You also have chances at some door prizes if you call in at the right time.

Friday, May 13, 2011

So...You Want to Visit an Archives or Record Office in the UK

I wanted to put down some good tips for travel and research if you're planning a trip to the UK soon in order to research your family history. These are all tips that I feel will help your research, and indeed your whole holiday, go more smoothly.

My Internship at Shropshire Archives, 2008,
Working on a Deed Collection

Money and the Chip and Pin System

Now, I know for a fact my US bank account debit card does not have a chip in it, though reports indicate that may change soon. This makes it increasingly difficult to buy anything with it when I'm in the UK because while my debit card needs to be swiped in order to use it, the chip and pin is used differently. Although some stores will swipe your card, more and more of the stores will not or cannot swipe your non-chip card.

I suggest knowing ahead of time what you'll be doing and taking money out of the ATM/Cash Machine for your copies, travel, and assorted expenses for the day, keeping in mind the fees you will be charged.

It's a good idea to keep some cash anyway because a lot of archives are switching to copy cards that you load or purchase in certain amounts. Keep in mind too that the actual bills only go down to 5 Pounds, so be prepared to have a change purse to keep Pound Coins in. Making sure you have a few Pound coins are also a good idea, especially since you'll need one to secure your valuables in a locker.

Hours of Operation

Check the website of the archives beforehand to make sure they haven't changed their hours and days of operation. Budgets are still strained due to the economy and the institution may have had to reduce the times they are open.

Reserving Microfilm and Computers

You also want to check to see if you will need reserve use of the microfilm machines and computers beforehand. If there is a chance you will be there during a busy period, you'll want to make sure you have access to the records that are microfilmed, particularly those parish and newspaper records that are available in that format, and online access to records that will help you find what you need.

Also, make sure ahead of time if there is a digital camera fee. This is used in a lot of cases in lieu of copying, and many repositories charge a nominal fee for the privilege.

Recommended Items

I would recommend you take the following items with you:

  • Cash, including at least one Pound coin.
  • Pencil and Notebook, including a list of what you need to find.
  • Magnifying bookmark or small magnifying glass.
  • Secretary hand letter guide.
  • Digital Camera.
A lot of archives have a small shop where you can get the letter guide, pencils, and the magnifying aid.

Catalog Searches

I can't stress enough looking through their online catalog, if available, before your trip. Most of the time your time at the archives will be limited, so planning ahead is a good idea. Scour the website of the archives too, to see if anything you want to see is on microfilm, like parish registers. Make a list of what you want to find, and not the reference numbers of any documents you want to see. This is the magical number you will need in order to have one of the archivists on public service pull the document.


Keep in mind that right now a lot of funds are going toward the Olympics being held in London in 2012. In addition to that, the economy is causing a lot of institutions and government bodies to cut funding, and the heritage sector is a prime target. As a result, archives are experiencing reduced staff and less time to do their work. The fees in place are there to make sure the archives can preserve the documents and provide access to their collections.

Additionally, archivists are being asked to do more in less time. If they restrict access to a document, there is a reason for the policy. Please thank them for their help and advice and perhaps buy something from the archives shop. It'll be a good memento of the trip and a lot of their books will help expand details on your ancestor's lifestyle in that area.

ARCHON (A directory of repositories in the UK):


Some News (Or News about News)

I'm hoping that in the next month, I will be announcing my plans to attend school in the UK again. I am applying to the Masters in Heritage Studies at the University of East London. It will get me back there, I hope permanently, because I intend to get a job over there after graduation. When I make this announcement, I will also be trying to expand my business here, including offering my services for people unable to get to London/England, and starting a companion blog about moving and living in the UK. My aim is to earn as much as I can this summer to cover my plane ticket and the first month of living over there when I have purchase necessities such as household goods. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Records and Research: Edith Elizabeth Eckard (No. 10-11)

This series began with a randomly selected document that contains genealogical information. I will then take that information and outline what we can learn from the document and what I would do next to find more information on the person involved.

Previous parts in this series can be found here: No. 1No. 2No. 3-4, and No. 5-9

Document No. 10-11: Passenger Lists
No. 10: 11 Jun 1923, Arrival from Quebec on the Ship Canada

No. 11: 27 Nov 1923, Arrival to New York on the SS. President Garfield

What These Records Tell Us: 
Edith Elizabeth Eckard and her daughter Elizabeth were traveling onward to London from Liverpool. It is possible she planned to visit her Shropshire family on the way to London. However, she states her address in the UK as 16 Southwick, Hyde Park, London (Link: Google Maps). As she lived in London during the 1901 Census with an Aunt, it may have been her she intended to visit. These documents also confirm that she was an American citizen at the time.

On her return journey, she stated she was naturalized by marriage. Since her daughter was a native of the United States, Edith gave her daughters birth as 9 Mar 1914 in St. Louis Missouri. Their address is given as 2741 Dakota Street (Link:Google Maps) in St. Louis Missouri.

Next Step: Check for her original immigration as Elizabeth Edith Brookfield and then double check for any other journeys after she was married.

Resource: Find My Past Ireland

Find My Past Ireland launched May 5th. It seems similar to the Find My Past for England in its setup. Their earliest records date back to the 13th century.

Here is the link for the UK Find My Past:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Resource: My Recommended UK Genealogy Books

2 1/2 year old Quincy models the book I bought this weekend.

Someone in the chat for geneablogger radio during their United Kingdom genealogy show last week asked me about books about the parish chest and records over there in general. I told them I would post a list of books I'd recommend this week.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. This is merely a list of books that I have used in my academic studies.

Information about Records:

  • Herber, Mark D. Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1998).
  • Irvine, Sherry. Your English Ancestry: A Guide for North Americans. (Provo: Ancestry Publishing, 1998).
  • The National Archives Research Guides
  • Tate, W. E. The Parish Chest. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946).
  • The My Ancestor Was Series, which includes the following titles:
    • ...Came with the Conqueror
    • ... a Coalminer
    • ...a Bastard
    • ...a Merchant Seaman
    • ...a Freemason
    • ...a Policeman
    • ...a Railway Worker
    • ...a Royal Marine
    • Agricultural Labourer 
    • Apprentice
    • Service
    • the British Army
    • ...were Baptists
    • ...were Gypsies
    • ...were Jewish
    • ...Londoners
    • ...English Presbyterians or Unitarians
    • ...Thames Waterman
Books to Help Understand What Records Say:
  • Cheney, C. R., ed. A Handbook of Dates: For Students of British History. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
  • Humphery-Smith, Cecil. Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. (Chichester: Institute of Heraldric and Genealogical Studies, 1995). 
  • Ison, Alf. A Secretary Hand ABC Book. (Reading: Berkshire Family History Society Research Centre, 2000).
  • Martin, Charles Trice. The Record Interpreter. (London: Reeves and Turner, 1892).
  • Morris, Janet. A Latin Glossary for Family and Local Historians. (Bury: Federation of Family History Societies, 2002).  Note: available for purchase at
  • Stuart, Denis. Latin for Local & Family Historians. (Chichester: Phillimore, 1995).
Note: You can get quite a lot of these through the National Archives online shop:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Research Requests

I've been alerted by a couple people that the contact form wasn't working well for them. I have tried it and it did work for me in that I got an email sent to me by using the form.

If you have tried to contact me for a research job and I have NOT replied to you within one day, please either comment on a post (preferably this one) or send me an email at branchesfamilyhistory at


Thursday, April 28, 2011

This Friday: Geneablogger's Radio

Friday, April 29, 2011
9 p.m.-11 p.m. CST
Topic: British Genealogy
Guests Include: Audrey Collins, Family History Specialist at the National Archives, Barbara Baker, A.G. and British Reference Consultant at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

I'll be listening in and chatting with people about British genealogy during the program. As many of you know, I studied over there for my Archives Degree (and wish I could go back there to work!), and I'm hoping to get some great ideas for posts here!

Also: Geneabloggers has a post about Royal Genealogy. Looks like Prince William's 27th Great-Grandfather Charlemagne is my 39th great-grandfather. Link: Royal Genealogy

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

"5 Tips for a Successful Research Request"

I recently discovered the old issues of Ancestry Magazine that are posted on google and I wanted to share the link to my article "5 Tips for a Successful Research Request" that appeared in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue on page 14.

Ancestry Magazine, Nov/Dec 2009

Monday, April 18, 2011

St. Louis Genealogical Society Family History Conference

St. Louis Genealogical Society
41st Annual Family History Conference
April 30, 2011
Maryland Heights Centre
2344 McKelvey Road

7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

This will be my first genealogy conference/fair that I've ever been to and I'm looking forward to going. I picked it because a friend of mine is going, the sessions had a mix of online genealogy and offline records classes, I'm local to the area so I don't have to depend upon paying for lodging, and the fee ($50 for registration before April 21st.) was reasonable enough to be a birthday present. Anybody else planning on attending?

Resource: Internet Archive and Connected Histories

Though I tend to find it easier to search for books through Google for the internet archive, I want to highlight it here because I have found a few books through the site that have been very useful. You can view the book in a variety of formats, some easier to to text search than others.

Connected Histories has several databases, a mixture of free and subscription, that you can search in one go for British history sources, 1500-1900. It has quite a few resources that will help the researcher in the area of context when researching your own history.

I also wanted to thank all the people who have stopped by my blog in the past few days from geneabloggers. Thanks for the welcome!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Dear Grandpa (Or the Power of Networking)

Let me tell you a story...

Roy Everett Atchley was born 29th January 1903 in Matthews, New Madrid, Missouri, USA to Noah Ellston Atchley and Carrie Fredonia Parthenia Ellen (Gipson) Atchley. He married Bessie Evans on the 15th September 1924 at Benton, Scott County, Missouri. Their children were Rosella, Lorella, Barbara, Betty, Daniel 'Bud', Jimmy, and Jantha. Bessie Evans Atchley passed away 26 Jan 1943 and is buried in Taylor Cemetery, Essex, Stoddard County, Missouri.

Roy Atchley then married Mary Edith Rodgers on 6th March 1946 in Clay, Arkansas, USA. Their union produced Sandra, my father Roger, and Sherry. Roy Everett Atchley died 14th February 1958, twenty-seven years before I was born. He is buried beside Mary Edith (Rodgers) Atchley in Bernie Cemetery, Bernie, Stoddard, Missouri, USA. My father wasn't yet seven at the time.

His obituary in the Sikeston Herald (27 February 1958) said he attended the Matthews School and left New Madrid County twenty years previous. He owned and operated the Atchley Store in Parma, Missouri, and five of his brothers survived him.

By the time I came to ask what my grandfather looked like, we had a box of unlabeled photographs and with the passage of time, less certainty on my Dad's part to identify any of the men in the pictures as his dad.

It felt weird, being so into genealogy and finding family connections yet I couldn't even produce a photo of my own grandfather. Mom had been told Dad looked a little like him.

I've visited his grave in Bernie, Missouri, where he is buried next to my grandmother Mary, who died when I was five. As much as I didn't remember much about her, I at least had a photograph to point to when I talked about my grandmother.

Fast-forward to this past March, when I gave a presentation on English and Welsh Records to the Jefferson County Genealogical Society. I was nervous, as this was my first non-academic presentation, and truth be told I wouldn't have put myself forward for it if my friend Ladonna Garner hadn't asked me.

Now, a couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a member that hadn't made it to that meeting but recognized my surname. Atchley is after all not very common at all. In fact, I'd wager a good majority of us all descend from the Atchleys of Middlesex County, New Jersey.

As it turns out, the woman who contacted me for information my family is my father's cousin. Her grandfather was the same as mine. I then asked if she had any pictures of Grandpa Roy and she replied in the affirmative.

Yesterday, just in time for my birthday today, I received in the mail two photographs:

Roy Everett Atchley (about 23), Bessie (Evans) Atchley (about 19) [His 1st Wife], and Rosella Atchley (infant).
(Note: This was taken sometime between 31 May 1926 and 1 Nov 1927 when Rosella died of bronchial pneumonia.)

Roy Everett Atchley (in his 50s) and Lorella Atchley, his daughter.

Needless to say, this has made my birthday today one of the better ones now that I finally know what he looked like, and I'm even more of a convert to the necessity of networking in every area of one's life!

I never got to know you, Grandpa. I hope you would have liked me and maybe even would have been proud of me, even if I'm still looking for a job. I like to think I would have liked you a lot. Finally getting to know what you looked like has been the best part of my birthday this year. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This blog is now on Geneabloggers Blogroll!

I figured since I'll be mentioned on the new blog post today, I'd introduce myself to anyone coming through that link. I'll admit I was a bit nervous suggesting my blog, but my mother convinced me it was a good idea.

My name is Megan Atchley. I became involved in genealogy from almost the time I could read, when my mother would have me looking through indexes and books for surnames, but it wasn't until I was studying for my Bachelors in Historic Preservation at Southeast Missouri State University that I realized I could use my love of genealogical research in my future profession. 

I'm currently working on my dissertation about English, Welsh, and Virginian wills in the 17th century that will result in a Masters degree in Archives Administration from Aberystwyth University. I've done a little professional genealogy work and am still open to requests for freelance jobs. It helps me cover dissertation costs while I am looking for a full-time archivist or genealogist position. 

I started this blog for three reasons: 1) I needed something to occupy my time while I'm at home looking for a job. 2) It will give me some exposure for getting paid research jobs. 3) I love sharing what I've learned and want to get more people interested in researching their family.

My posts so far have been on origins of certain records, free online resources, my own family research, and reviews of Who Do You Think You Are. When I'm bored, I take a random record and try to research someone based on what the record tells me in my Records and Research Series. I have it on good authority that someone has gotten me the first season of the UK Who Do You Think You Are for my birthday this Sunday, which I will then review in detail for those who haven't seen themI'm still trying to figure out what I want to do in regards to posts, but I do hope at least some of it might be interesting to others!

So...welcome to the blog! Feel free to comment or contact me via the form after clicking the tab at the top of the page. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Descendants of Colonel Jonathan Latimer Family Reunion

Colonel Jonathan Latimer's appointment of his son Wetherell Latimer to Adjutant, 1783. (Via Footnote

Thomas Latimer, a descendant of Colonel Jonathan Latimer (1724-1806), contacted my family recently because he is organizing a reunion for our common ancestor. Anybody descended from any of Jonathan and Lucretia (Griswold) Latimer's children Hannah, Jonathan, Borodell, Wetherell, Charles, Robert, Griswold, Joseph, and Nathaniel are welcome.

The reunion will be held Saturday September 17, 2011 at the Ocana Community Center in Sumner County, Tennessee. This is approximately one mile from Colonel Jonathan Latimer's original property.

If you're interested in more details, feel free to contact me, and I can pass on Thomas Latimer's details.

Colonel Jonathan Latimer's Sword, currently in the possession of Thomas Latimer

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Free Resource for April 10th-April 24th: Gale Group Databases

In honor of National Library Week, the Gale Group is giving free access to their NewsVault Database for the period of April 10th-April 24th. This resource has both US and UK newspapers from the 17th century onwards. They also are giving free access to their Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transitional Archive as well. 

Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transitional Archive

News Vault

Thanks to Ladonna Garner for the link. 

Records and Research: Edith Elizabeth Eckard (No. 5-9)

This series began with a randomly selected document that contains genealogical information. I will then take that information and outline what we can learn from the document and what I would do next to find more information on the person involved.

Previous parts in this series can be found here: No. 1No. 2, and Part 3-4.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Civil War Soldier: George Washington Lyon

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, I thought I'd share the little I know of one of my soldier ancestors. The sesquicentennial brought him to my mind recently, and in honor of his service, I'm going to be ordering his full military record and pension from NARA soon.

(Source: Tim Crutchfield, via

Monday, April 11, 2011

Resource: Connecticut History Resources

Here are three Connecticut resources that I've used in the past that I thought I would share today.

Connecticut History Online (A lot of images of Connecticut, including the Latimer House in Chesterfield)

Connecticut Society of Genealogists (Several maps from different periods.)

University of Connecticut (Colonial Connecticut Records, 1636-1776)

Friday, April 8, 2011

William Brewster: My 12th great-grandfather

At least one person has asked my lineage down from him by this point so I thought I'd put it here from him down to my great-grandparents (for security purposes). This is on my maternal side.

William Brewster m. Mary
Jonathan Brewster m. Lucretia Oldham
Grace Brewster m. Daniel Wetherell
Mary Wetherell m. George Dennison
Borodell Dennison m. Jonathan Latimer
Jonathan Latimer m. Lucretia Griswold
Wetherell Latimer m. Margaret Anderson
Charles Latimer m. Letitia Thompson
John William "Mack" Latimer m. Tennessee Murphy
Letitia Ann Latimer m. Christopher Ervin Phillips
John Leonard Phillips m. Ella Marshbanks
Leonard Lee Phillips m. Nellie Maud Nicholas

On a related note, if any of you follow the Latimer line, there is supposed to be a reunion occurring in September in Tennessee somewhere near the area Col. Jonathan and his sons settled after the American Revolution. I can get some more details on it if anyone is interested!

Who Do You Think You Are, Season 2 Episode 8

Celebrity: Ashley Judd
Aired: 8 Apr 2011
" English I'm American."

To everyone that has wondered here due to William Brewster: HI COUSINS!!! I will post this weekend on how I'm specifically related. All I will say right now is that I am a descendant through his son Jonathan. Please feel free to visit this space often!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Kansas City Trip Postponed

It's been quiet on the blog for a few days due to the fact that my 2 1/2 year old HP laptop decided to go terminal  on me. It's working enough so that I can get my files and things off of it that I hadn't already backed up, so I'm thankful for that.

I had to take most of the money I had for moving when I got a full time job out of my savings in order to get a Toshiba that has gotten good reviews regarding reliability. I need to put back the money so any money I get will have to go back into the savings account for the time being.

Which is why I am postponing the trip to Kansas City for a month or two unless something changes this month in regards to financing.

I'm still open for researching projects. Feel free to contact me for any job and I can tell you whether or when I can do it. Thanks!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Presentation (Follow Up)

I know this is almost a week late, but I wanted to thank the Jefferson County Genealogical Society for allowing me to present my program at their meeting last Saturday. I had a great time and enjoyed all the great questions members asked about English and Welsh records.

If any of you have more questions, please use the contact tab at the top of this page, and I'll be glad to answer them.

Thank you! (I apologize for this being a bit late. I ended up with a weekend long migraine and then it completely slipped my mind afterwards.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Records and Research: Edith Elizabeth Eckard (No. 3-4)

This series began with a randomly selected document that contains genealogical information. I will then take that information and outline what we can learn from the document and what I would do next to find more information on the person involved.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Records and Research: Edith Elizabeth Eckard (No. 2)

This series began with a randomly selected document that contains genealogical information. I will then take that information and outline what we can learn from the document and what I would do next to find more information on the person involved.

Document No. 2: Marriage License dated 13 May 1913
Link: Link (From Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002, via

Monday, March 21, 2011

Records and Research: Edith Elizabeth Eckard (No. 1)

This series will begin with a randomly selected document that contains genealogical information. I will then take that information and outline what we can learn from the document and what I would do next to find more information on the person involved.

Document No. 1: U.S. Passport Application for Edith Elizabeth Eckard, stamped 28 Feb 1923
Link: Link (From U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925, via

Name: Edith Elizabeth Eckhard
Born: 10 Aug 1888 Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England
Lived in England: Birth to 19 Nov 1904
Married to: Christian Eckhard on 14 May 1913, Husband born in St. Louis, Missouri and resided at 2741 Dakota Street.
Child Traveling with Her: Elizabeth Eckhard, age 8 in 1923

Other Important Facts from this Document:
  • Her reason for returning to England was to visit relatives but didn't specify who.
  • She planned on leaving aboard a White Star Line ship from Montreal, Canada on 2 Jun 1923 
  • Her physical description: 35 years old, 5 feet tall, brown eyes, auburn hair, fair complexion. 
  • Witness to her Identity: Richard D. Elliot has known her for 6 years as of 1923. (Note: Always take note of who is witnessing documents for your ancestors. There is a good chance they are related or close associates.) 

Next Steps: Since she married after her immigration, the next step needs to be a search for her marriage license so that we can find her maiden name and immigration information. With that information, we can find her birth and death records and proceed filling in the the time in between.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kansas City Trip, Mid-April

I wanted to give people a heads up that I'll be heading to Kansas City for a birthday trip to visit a friend around April 17th. I will be able to fit in some time at the Midwest Genealogical Center, so if anyone seeing this needs a record for anywhere in Missouri (I can check for availability of the microfilm.) or Kansas City specific research, let me know through the contact me tab at the top of this page before that weekend and I can get you a bid estimate. Since I'm going there anyway, I won't be charging any travel charges, just my hourly rate and copies.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Quick Tips: North Carolina Vital Records

I just wanted to put the word out for researchers. If you are looking for North Carolina Vital Records that aren't available online because they're too recent, you're going to want to avoid the state level when ordering records for awhile. They have an enormous backlog (I ordered a record in December and still haven't gotten it. When I called in January, they said they'd only gotten to November requests.).

You're far better off ordering your records through the county vital records offices.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Resource: Trafalgar Ancestors

The National Archives has a database of people who served the British side during the Battle of Trafalgar, which includes any service histories and biographies that they've found. (Note: There are  multiple nationalities that served on the British side, and there are even Americans who were serving on British ships. Searching 'America' in advanced search for place of birth, lists 84 people, let alone if you search for specific American locations.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I'm wrapping up my work on the presentation I'm giving to the Jefferson County Genealogical Society on March 19th, including creating some hand outs. This is the reason I've not managed to review another season one episode of Who Do You Think You Are, though I want to try to get to that tomorrow if possible.

Here's the information on the presentation again, just in case you want to attend:

Presentation @ the Jefferson County Genealogical Society (Website: Link)
Date: March 19th, 2011
Time: 9:30 a.m. (Speaker begins between 10:15 and 10:30)
Location: Jefferson County Library, 5680 Hwy PP, High Ridge, Missouri
Presentation Title: Records of England and Wales: An Introduction
Description: Focuses on some of the basics of English and Welsh Genealogical Records for Researchers.
Public Welcome!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Resource: DocumentsOnline

Now that this blog is a month old, I'm going to be easing from my post a day approach. I'm going to try for once or twice a week in order for me to write better posts (in theory). It's also entirely possible that I will post more or less depending upon my schedule and/or health.

This website is part of the National Archives (UK) which allows you to search through several databases, including Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, seals, and Ancient Petitions. You can download images of records, some for free and some, like the wills, for a reasonable fee. Really, I recommend looking around to see what you find. I've purchased a few wills that way and I likely will purchase a few more if I ever make any progress on my dissertation.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I just wanted to drop a quick note about commenting on entries. I don't know if blogger contacts you when I respond because, as far as I can see, I can't respond directly to your comment. I can only just comment to the entry and it appears below yours.

I do try to respond to the comments I get though!

Who Do You Think You Are, Season 2 Episode 4

Celebrity: Kim Cattrall
Aired: 25 Feb 2011
Original Airing Date in the UK: 12 Aug 2009

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Resource: St. Louis Globe-Democrat Clipping File Collection

Since I'm still feeling pretty bad, I'm not going to be posting the Season 1 Episode 2 review today as I intended. I will get to it as soon as my head stops hurting so much. Hopefully somewhat normal service will resume soon.

This is a searchable clipping collection that was compiled by the staff of the St. Louis Globe Democrat of their newspaper from the 1930s to 1986 and is made available through the St. Louis Mercantile Library at UMSL. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Resource: Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project

I'm almost over the cold I caught, but since the pressure in my head still isn't conducive to thinking or writing much, I'd thought I'd share the link to the Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project that was shown on Sarah Jessica Parker's episode of Who Do You Think You Are.

Hopefully tomorrow I might actually watch episode two of season one, and actually write about it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Resource: Welsh Wills Pre-1858

The National Library of Wales has a very helpful database of wills proved before 1858. I'd suggest looking all over this website for plenty of excellent genealogical resources and tips though, but I felt the wills to be a particularly useful resource.

National Library of Wales

(Note: Having spent a lot of time there last year, I recommend having one of their paninis should you visit and need some lunch. Also, take the bus up to the University and walk down the hill. Trust me.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Presidents Day: Presidents in the Census

Since it's President's Day, I thought I'd share links to the census records (1850-1930) that include the President at the time and his household. If possible, I've linked to free sites that don't require paid subscription, but there are a few that require subscriptions.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Quick Tips: Siblings

I suppose one of the benefits of working like this is that when I come down with a cold, I can easily relax for a bit while still managing a little work.'s quick tip is going to be fairly short and sweet as I plan on crashing on the couch for the evening to watch whatever is on TV.

The Importance of Researching Siblings:

When trying to go backwards in your lineage, it may prove beneficial to go forwards by looking into your direct ancestor's siblings. For instance, one sibling might actually have told their children their mother's maiden name, and said name appears on that sibling's death certificate. Pictures and stories may travel down one particular line while nothing is ever mentioned or labeled (personal experience) on the other.

For a more concrete example, I found that a woman's brother in the mid-19th century mentioned her in his will. Now, by the 1850 census this girl was married, but her brother still lived with his parents. Thus, I was able to tie her to the brother and the brother to their parents.

Friday, February 18, 2011

My New England Ancestors

Since I watched Sarah Jessica Parker's Who Do You Think You Are (WDYTYA) episode yesterday, I was thinking about my ancestors that would be in that database. New Englanders kept some of the best and earliest records you can get in the US. I'm going to be looking through the Migration Project files for the following people and a few of their spouses:

Matthew Griswold
Francis Willoughby
Christopher Latimer
William Brewster
Henry Wolcott
William Hyde
Thomas Lee
Simon Lynde
John Newdigate
George Dennison
Robert Lay
Daniel Wetherall
William Oldham
Anne Griggs
Robert Latimer

This is going to take awhile...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are, Season 1, Episode 1

I'll be periodically going through the first season of the US "Who Do You Think You Are" to catch up on what I've missed.

Celebrity: Sarah Jessica Parker
Originally Aired: 5 Mar 2010

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are, Season 1 Reviews (Coming Soon)

I finally got my DVD of the first season of Who Do You Think You Are in the mail as well as my region free dvd player. As soon as I get the connector I need to connect the player to the old tv, I'll be posting my reviews of the previous season and hopefully my reviews of the second season will be all the more detailed!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Resource: Find My Past

For those of you with ancestors in England, this website is extremely useful. It operates on a paid credits system, which is a bit different to ancestry, or a subscription. The site has the 1911 English census available, which Ancestry does not yet have. It also claims to have the most complete BMD (birth, marriage, death) index from when they began national registration in 1837 to 2006, indexes of parish registers, and some military records.

Information on how much the credits and subscription costs can be found here. For those that need a quick currency exchange to know how much it will cost, I've found this tool to be useful during my travels: Link.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Since it's Valentines Day, I thought that I would post a letter that my 9th great-grandfather Matthew Griswold wrote to my 9th great-grandmother Phebe Hyde sometime before their marriage in 1683 that was printed in a magazine article about the Griswold family in The Magazine of American History with Notes and Queries, Volume 11 published in 1884 (Link: Book Passage). I discovered this last weekend, but I fully intend to see if I can find where this letter currently is:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Quick Tips: Cemetery Photography

Here are a few tips for visiting cemeteries in search of your ancestors:

1. Get permission from the cemetery owners to visit if you're visiting a private cemetery. Keep in mind state laws regarding cemeteries on private land in order to know their rights and yours. For instance, Missouri requires that the property owner allow you reasonable access to the cemetery during reasonable hours of the day. (Link)

2. Get a long mirror to angle the sun towards the stone. This will help make the inscription clearer. Turn off your flash as that tends to only create a glare, and be prepared to write down what you see in case no amount of computer editing makes the photo reveal the whole inscription. (Note: I've found taking color pictures and then converting to black and white can help legibility.)

3. If you have to clean the stone in order to see the inscription, use water (the less chemicals in it the better) and a SOFT bristle brush. Gently wipe away the residue.

4. DO NOT use shaving cream to read the stone. Chemicals will only increase the weathering of the inscription.

5. Upload the photo to Findagrave for other relatives to find.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Resource: Scotland's People

I haven't had much of an opportunity to use this website for research, but I wanted to make note of it because you can see the census images for Scotland as compared to just an index of the census records on The site also has indexes for parish registers, vital records, and wills. Credits can be bought to view search results. Also, the 1911 Scotland Census will be available on this site on the 5th of April.

Link: Scotland's People

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Moral, Religious, and Political Societies

While studying for my Archives Administration degree in Wales, I had to complete four miniature papers on various record types, which I figured I'd share here in order that the files could see the light of day again.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Old Poor Law (Part II)

While studying for my Archives Administration degree in Wales, I had to complete four miniature papers on various record types, which I figured I'd share here in order that the files could see the light of day again.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Old Poor Law (Part I)

While studying for my Archives Administration degree in Wales, I had to complete four miniature papers on various record types, which I figured I'd share here in order that the files could see the light of day again.

Part II will include the documents produced because of the poor law. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Resource: Texas Land Grants

Not all land grants your ancestors may have been a part of date from the period that the United States owned the territory, and states such as Texas and Missouri, to name a couple, were owned by other countries who gave out land to settlers. I discovered this website when I was considering a Texas based research project. It is similar to the BLM Land Grant site , just specific to Texas.

Link: Texas Land Grant Search

Tomorrow, I plan on posting about England's Old Poor Law.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quick Tips: Marriage Records

Being that it's Super Bowl Sunday, I didn't feel like writing more than a brief post today. I'm not into sports at all (In fact, I picked which team I'm rooting for by the fact I like the colors and the city of one team over the other.), but I like watching the commercials.

Since I'll be focused on the TV tonight, I'm going to write about some success I've had with marriage records:

Marriage records are incredibly useful in regards to tracing your female ancestors, but there is something else you can determine from the marriage record that can be useful for finding early records of your family. If your family wasn't married by a Justice of the Peace (J.P.), I recommend taking note of who married the couple in question since you can possibly determine what denomination or religion your ancestors practiced.

Once you have the name, do a quick online search using the name of the pastor with the words 'church' and the general location of where your ancestors lived or were married. If that doesn't work, I'd try heading to a library to check out the local history books or indexes of local clergy. Once you know the church, then you can see if they have any baptism, marriage, or death records to further your research.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are, Season 2 Episode 1

(Apologies for how disjointed this review is, I'm still trying to get the hang of it and this is the first time I've watched the US version of the show.)

Celebrity: Vanessa Williams
Aired: 4 February 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

Resource: The Old Bailey Online, 1674-1913

Anyone researching their family history may have to prepare themselves for the fact that at some point one's ancestors were not always squeaky clean models of society. I myself have a rumored horse thief on my father's side and possible counterfeiters on my mother's side.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Resource: General Land Office Records

Public Domain Land

After the American Revolution, the United States took control of the lands that had been previously claimed by each of the colonies west of the Ohio River. In 1785, Congress passed the land Ordinance Act allowed the public domain lands to be sold for profit. When the land was sold, patents were issued to the person buying the property from the U.S. government. The land sold to the settlers form the bulk of the Eastern States Land Records held by the Bureau of Land Management. More than a billion acres of land and 7.5 million transactions are recorded in their office.

Homestead Act of 1862

The Homestead Act was signed into law by President Lincoln on May 20, 1862. This allowed any U.S. citizen or intended U.S. citizen who had not borne arms against the United States to file a claim to 160 acres of land. The homesteader had to live on the land for five years, during which he had to 'improve' the land by building a house and growing crops on the land. Due to the difficult conditions of prairie life, however, many people did not stay the full time. 

The Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 repealed the Homestead Act after millions of applications had been processed for government land. (Note: The Act was extended for ten years in Alaska with the last title under the law being given in 1988.)

For those of you fond of the Little House on the Prairie books, Laura Ingalls Wilder's father Charles Ingalls and her husband Alonzo Wilder filed claims for land under the Homestead Act. NARA has an article about them on their website: Link

You can look up land patents at the Bureau of Land Management: Link

(My 3rd great-grandfather Solomon Osborn Atchley purchased 40 acres in Indiana in 1838.)

Historical Note: Not all land west of the Ohio will have a land patent on this website. Missouri, for instance, was owned by the Spanish and French, and many people went west and got patents from those governments instead.

Bureau of Land Management. "Our Record Keeping History."|01_Our_Record_Keeping_History.

National Park Service. "Homestead National Monument of America.""

NARA. "Teaching with Documents: The Homestead Act of 1862."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ancestry Expert Connect Closing at Midnight

First of all, I'd like to welcome anyone coming to this blog. If you've come because of Ancestry's closing of Expert Connect, I have a few links at the end of this post to alternative sites that accomplish a similar purpose of hiring genealogists for research.

I started with Expert Connect about eight months ago and completed 38 projects in total, which were a mixture of record lookup, custom research, and ask an expert. All of my business came through them, and I am grateful that it gave me a start in researching professionally. The Expert Connect system allowed me to cultivate a growing client base, and I've never had any trouble with any of my clients. It also provided me some much needed income while I am looking for a job as an archivist.

About ten days ago, sent the providers an email stating that, though not considered a failure, the company would be closing Expert Connect to new client requests as of February 3rd. A further email stated that on February 3rd, the Expert Connect page would be replaced with links to ProGenealogists (a company bought) and the Association of Professional Genealogists.

I've had to rearrange what I was doing to get business, hence the creation of the blog. I can't pretend to know their reasons for closing EC, but I'm moving forward. Eventually I plan on joining the Association of Professional Genealogists, and a portion of my fees will be going towards professional development (conferences, equipment, and genealogy courses).

If you are looking for genealogical research and want bids from more than myself I have signed up at two websites that allow for genealogists to bid on projects:

My Profile:
Genealogy Freelancers
My Profile:

Also, Directory of Genealogists is a new site listing for quite a few experts that were previously on Expert Connect and will be live soon:
Directory of Genealogists (At the moment, the list of genealogists resides at GeneaPro: Link)

Education in the United Kingdom (Before 1800)

While studying for my Archives Administration degree in Wales, I had to complete four miniature papers on various record types, which I figured I'd share here in order that the files could see the light of day again. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Resource: Civil War Faces (Library of Congress)

The Liljenquist family donated a large collection of Civil War Soldier photographs to the Library of Congress and the LOC has posted several on a Flicker account here: Link

There have even been attempts to identify some of the soldiers, like this photo of someone's beloved son: Carl, died April 1, 1865...

Though I haven't done it yet, I am sorely tempted to purchase as many old portrait photographs as I can at antique malls regardless as to whether I'm related or know who the person in the photo is. I think the only thing that has prevented me from doing it so far is lack of funds while in college. Seeing them makes me feel sad, like the photos are all orphans that need to be adopted. Anybody else get that urge to buy them like I do?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Baptists of the United Kingdom and Their Records

While studying for my Archives Administration degree in Wales, I had to complete four miniature papers on various record types, which I figured I'd share here in order that the files could see the light of day again. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Resource: Memorials & Monuments in Portsmouth

I found this website when I googled my 11th great-grandfather Colonel William Willoughby. Coincidently, I found this when a year before, I had been in Portsmouth Cathedral and the Royal Dockyards on a pleasure trip. I find him extremely interesting because I already had a minor interest in the Royal Navy at the time, and after generations of my family being in as few records as seemingly possible, as I'm sure you all understand, to find him and his son (Francis Willoughby, Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts) in several government documents was absolutely fantastic to find.

All I'm saying is do a quick Google search of any ancestors with a few location or date parameters, sooner rather than later!

Friday, January 28, 2011

News and a Future Presentation

I wanted to spell out exactly what I'll be doing on this blog in the near future. This is probably more of a help for me I guess, given the blog's sudden and necessary creation, but it'll give a head's up to anyone wanting to keep an eye on this page. This will be my main web presence advertising my family history research service (hence the blog address) for the time being, but I fully plan on posting a variety of genealogical and historical topics.

For instance, I've bought the first season of the American version of "Who Do You Think You Are" on DVD and plan on catching up with what I'd missed, since I'd been in Wales when it was originally airing. When the show starts airing its second season on NBC beginning February 4th, I'll be catching each one and providing a recap for anyone interested enough to read it. Later on, when I've gotten some more business, I'm going to be purchasing the United Kingdom version of the show on DVD and reviewing all four series/seasons of that show as well.

In addition to that, I'm currently brainstorming several different articles that I hope are a mix of being informative and helpful for researchers and other visitors. This is my first run at a public blog, so pardon the dust and bad writing while I'm getting settled into this!

Meanwhile, I've got my first non-school related speaking engagement! I'm busy getting things ready for it right now. I'm very excited and nervous, but I think I'll have that well in hand by March. (Hopefully!)

Here are the details:

Presentation @ the Jefferson County Genealogical Society (Website: Link)
Date: March 19th, 2011
Time: 9:30 a.m. (Speaker begins between 10:15 and 10:30)
Location: Jefferson County Library, 5680 Hwy PP, High Ridge, Missouri
Presentation Title: Records of England and Wales: An Introduction
Description: Focuses on some of the basics of English and Welsh Genealogical Records for Researchers.
Public Welcome!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Your Ancestor's Social Security Application

I have seen a common brick wall for researchers in ancestors born in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Whether it's the partial 1890 census creating a brick wall, a common name, conflicting death certificate information, or the lack of a birth certificate, I would suggest seeing if your ancestor applied for a Social Security Number.

Though we're now given Social Security Numbers at birth, many people had to register for a number when the Social Security Board began giving them out in November 1936. Interestingly enough, the Social Security Administration states on their website that the first "Social Security Record" was created for a John David Sweeney Jr. of New York State. (Source: History of the First SSN Card)

Applicants had to fill in the SS-5 form with the following data:

1) Name
2) Maiden Name
3) Current Address
4) Birth date
5) Birth place
6) Father's full name
7) Mother's full name, including her maiden name

In my case, I had a brick wall in my great-grandmother, Irene (Stephens) Rodgers who was born in 1902 before Missouri's statewide birth certificate registration really took hold, and of course, there was more than one Irene Stephens/Stevens of similar age in Missouri during the 1910 census.

I knew her date of death (1973) and where she was buried, but I hesitated in spending money on ordering a death certificate for one very good reason. The thing about death certificates is that the information on the deceased's parents is only so good as the informant giving the information.

Enter the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). I had trouble finding Irene Rodgers in the database, and then I found a woman with a different surname but correct death date. That was when I found out about her other two marriages that I never knew about. Armed with her social security number, I decided that I would order her Social Security Application. It cost $27.

A couple of weeks later, I received a copy of the form in the mail. The application provided me with the information I needed, and as a result, I found her parents' death certificates, photos of her parents (my great-great grandparents) on findagrave, and extended my family tree back a few more branches. I would definitely recommend giving this a try.

Social Security Death Index (SSDI) (Via Family Search Record Search):
Social Security Application Ordering Form (Via Social Security Administration)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Forming a Research Request

An article I wrote, "5 Tips for a Successful Research Request," appeared in the Nov/Dec 2009 edition of Ancestry Magazine. I submitted it because I saw the need to make a research request quick and easy on the patron and archivist/librarian/volunteer doing the research.

Given that I am now procuring business for genealogical research through this blog, I felt it time to write further on the matter to promote clear communication between myself and clients. If you want me to give you an estimate on a project I suggest using this template in an email so that I can get back to you quickly. Please click the contact me button at the top of this blog to fill out the contact form.

Client Name:
Known Facts:

Here is a sample bid request:

Client Name: Megan Atchley
Objective: Who are the parents of Irene (nee Stephens) Rodgers?
Locations: Stoddard, Missouri, USA; Mississippi, Missouri, USA
Known Facts: 
Irene Stephens
b. Abt. 1902 Missouri
m. Samuel Pleasant Rodgers 22 Feb 1917 Stoddard, Missouri
d. 26 Dec 1973 Bernie, Stoddard, Missouri

I don't know if she had any siblings, and I can't with certainty find her with her parents in a census! Can you help find out their names and basic information?

Link to Family Tree:
Deadline: Open.
Budget: $150-200

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


About Me: 
I started this blog as a way to keep my business researching genealogy for clients. I previously completed research through the soon to be closed Expert Connect feature on, where I maintained a five star rating. I have completed research projects based in various localities for clients all over the United States and the United Kingdom.

As I'm sure many people will begin an interest in Genealogy with a new season of Who Do You Think You Are about to appear on our tv screens, I welcome projects from the long time genealogist with a brick wall to new people just starting to research their family history.

My educational background includes a Bachelors in Historic Preservation, utilizing  historical research in American Records and my graduate education in Archives Administration included courses in the historical records of England and Wales.

What I Do: 
I specialize in Missouri records and basic genealogies up to at least 1850. However, I have and can complete research projects for other locations and time periods.

My services include:
-Record Retrieval
-Multi-Generational Research
-Preparation of Lineage Society Applications (ex. DAR, SAR)
-Consulting and Research Advice

My basic rate is $40 an hour plus copy costs. I require a 10% deposit of the final project fee along with my estimated copy costs (i.e. If I know we need to order death certificates ahead of time, I will include that in my bid.).

If you think I can help you with your family history research, please let me know by clicking the 'Contact Me' link at the top of this blog and filling out the form. I am happy to provide bids for any project you propose.