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Volunteer at a Family History Day

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Yesterday was a beautiful crisp fall day (okay, that would be by Florida standards) and our county genealogy society's semi-annual community help day.  Ten of us volunteered to assist and we were busy for 6 hours with no break.  That's awesome!  Clearly there is a growing interest in genealogy and I met several people who shared delightful stories of their family and had burning questions needing answers.
If you contemplated becoming a volunteer at a genealogical event but feared you couldn't because you weren't a professional genealogist you're sadly mistaken. That old saying "Two heads are better than one" is a classic example of why you would be helpful.  Here's some tips for first time volunteers:
Be prepared as time is limited.  I always arrive early so my work area is ready.  My society furnishes plenty of extension cords but yours may not.  I bring my research baggie (see Research Tips), laptop with power cord, Kindle, and pad of paper.  Make s…

Ancestry Ghost Hints

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It's October and my surroundings are beginning to look creepy with Halloween quickly approaching.  One thing that greatly disturbs me more than the skeletons and witches on every corner is my Ancestry.com ghost hints.
If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, a ghost hint is the term used for those pesky hints that were once available and no longer are.  There are several reasons for their occurrence - an individual may have uploaded media and then removed it or made it private or Ancestry may have discontinued the database for the hint.
Every so often I go through the hints as sometimes I miss a new database that Ancestry has added and the hints can give me some information I may have missed.  The ghost hints, though, remain and give a false number of the hints that are available.  I've clipped below the grayed out hints that appear on my All Hints page:
As you can see above, there are 7 and all of them are records.  When I look at the hint counter, however, it shows…

Why Sharing Your DNA is Important

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There has been much controversy lately regarding law enforcement's use of DNA results from public sites to solve crimes.  I've even had a Client who requested the removal of results due to media coverage.  Here's my top five reasons to keep your DNA public:

You're reconnecting with close family that may hold the key you otherwise wouldn't ever uncoverYou've gained collaborators who care about the line you're interested in learning more aboutYou gain health information that you otherwise wouldn't obtain so you can make better lifestyle changes, if needed, to enhance your quality of lifeBy sharing your information, you're being altruistic in helping othersYou're leaving a footprint for future genealogists I understand the cons.  No one likes to snitch on family but the real truth is that withholding your DNA results is not going to alter people who make poor choices need to make restitution for their actions.  The serial killers who have recently …

Lineage Society Application Tips

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Most of my client work this past summer has been for assistance in joining a lineage society. The reasons for the interest varied; one elderly gentleman wanted to give memberships to grandchildren as holiday gifts, several had affiliating with an organization on their bucket list and decided the time was right to pursue membership, and a few wanted to memorialize an ancestor.

In most of the cases of the clients who contacted me, they didn't need much help.  They actually didn't need me at all which I told them.  Joining a lineage society is not difficult although some have more stringent requirements than others in validating the provided evidence. 

If you're thinking of joining, you will first need to establish a relationship from yourself to the ancestor who would qualify for the society.  That means, proving you're connected to your parent and your parent is connected to your grandparent and so on until you reach the qualifying ancestor.  For most people, obtaining…

Add Death Cleaning to Your Genealogical Toolbox

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I'm sure my faithful readers are wondering why my posts have been scant lately.  The summer has just been a whirlwind!  Travel, family stuff and work have kept me away from this blog.  I'm happy to report that the past month I've been doing my own version of Swedish death cleaning. 
If you aren't sure you know what that is, check out this older NBC article.  I'm not planning on dying any time soon but the opportunity presented itself (pre death as an opportunity, hmmm) for me to unload many family treasures that have been held on to for generations and pass them along to a younger family member that is interested in them.  Hoorray! 
It's a mixed blessing seeing these items go.  Holding the old recipes cards of long deceased female family members in my hand always stirred in me that connection of past to present as I prepared a much loved family dish.  I'll miss that but I'm happy to know that not only the past and present are at play with this decision…

A Loss for Tampa Bay

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The John F. Germany Public Library in Tampa, Florida holds one of the largest genealogical collections in the southeast United States.  I visit often and have always found the staff to be professional and helpful.  Last month, my visit there saddened me.
I planned to drop off some donated books and as it was thundering, decided to park in the adjoining parking garage.  It was mid-day and the lot was just about filled.  I thought I was lucky to find one of the few remaining spots on the top floor.  I took the elevator to the tube that joins the garage with the library.  When I approached the library doors I was shocked to find them boarded up.  I guessed that the facility was being renovated.  I walked a level down and then half way around the block to enter from the front.  Stopping at the information desk, I asked for the acquisition clerk who was expecting me.  "I'll have to take you up because the elevator needs a key for that floor," was the response.  I thought tha…

The U.S. - A Nation of Immigrants

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Although my family lore claimed I had Native American blood, DNA has proven that the legend was not true.  I seldom (well, have never) written about current political issues as that is not the point of my blog.  That changes today.

If you reside in the United States, you have an ancestor who once emigrated here.  You're probably also a mutt like me - that great melting pot permitting people to marry due to love and not by ethnicity alone has created a wonderful mix of blended cultures, customs and genetics.

I'm blessed that my family has been here awhile.  My most recent immigrants were my maternal grandparents, John and Mary Kos[s] who naturalized in the 1940's.  My grandmother visited the Old Country nearly 50 years after she had emigrated here with her parents and was so thankful they had made the difficult journey in her childhood, she promptly kissed the soil when she arrived back in the states.  My grandfather had no desire to return, even for a short visit.

Because…