Honoring Our Ancestors Newsletter

December 16, 2005

By Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Boy, is this a great time to be a genealogist or what?! It seems every time I turn around, there are some new toys available for us. In this issue, I'll highlight a few recent arrivals as well as a couple we can look forward to. Here's hoping that at least one is just what you've been waiting for – and that you and yours have a terrific holiday season!

In this newsletter. . .

New Toys!

In no particular order, here are a few new toys you might want to check out, depending on your particular interests:

  • Internet GenealogyI've always enjoyed Family Chronicle magazine, so I was delighted recently to receive a preview issue of a new magazine that Halvor and his gang (that is, the publishers of FC) are launching in February. It's called Internet Genealogy, and I know it's going to be a keeper because the cover highlighted two of my favorite, but least-known online resources.

  • If you have any Swedish roots and are interested in finding your "old country” cousins, you'll want to check out Sveriges Dödbok 1947-2003, a searchable CD containing records for 4.7 million individuals who died in Sweden during this time period. Data includes first and last name; street and postal address; place of birth; place of death; marital status and maiden name. Based on tax records, it's like a Sweden's Social Security Death Index, but with more information! These and other items for those interested in Swedish genealogy are available for purchase at Genline.com – a terrific resource that makes me jealous of those of you with Swedish roots!

  • Looking for a last minute gift for the genealogist who has everything? If he or she has a sense of humor, you might want to snag a copy of Christopher Dunham's new book, The Genealogist's Glossary. Aptly touted as being for "every family historian who has ever laughed at the archives or giggled in a cemetery,” this brisk read includes 21 of Chris's Top Ten lists, such as Top Ten Inappropriate Census Questions and Top Ten Ways to Confuse a Genealogist. To get a taste of what you're in for, check out Chris's blog at http://genealogue.blogspot.com/.

  • If you've got Scottish roots, you might want to take advantage of a special that ends on December 31st for The Scotsman Digital Archive. The good folks at The Scotsman have created a searchable, digitized archive of all their issues from 1817 to 1950! Those who subscribe for any length of time will have the length of their subscription doubled if they sign up before the end of the year, so maybe you'll want to give yourself a gift to start the new year off right!

  • I've had the privilege a few times of being one of the judges for the Southern California Genealogical Society's annual contest. The best of the entries from the contest's first five years (2000-2004) are now available in a just-released book, Celebrating Family History. Perhaps one or more of the stories will inspire you to finally stop procrastinating on writing your own family history!

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Angel Island Museum and Genealogical Research Center to Be Built

Angel Island Immigration Station"Ellis Island was created to let Europeans in," said Robert Barde, deputy director of the Institute of Business and Economic Research at the University of California, Berkeley, who is writing a book on immigration. "Angel Island was created to keep the Chinese out." Between 1910 and 1940, some 175,000 Chinese immigrants (approximately 75% of Chinese immigrants to the West Coast) were detained and interrogated here.

That sums up why it's so important that the President just signed the Angel Island Immigration Station Restoration and Preservation Act into law – after a 35-year effort by the nonprofit Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. The funding (up to $15 million) will be used to create a museum and research center, as well as for the preservation of several structures. At present, the immigration station is closed to the public, although it is a national historic landmark.

To learn more, see these articles by Dick Eastman and Patricia Leigh Brown.

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Irish Census Records to Go Online

We'll have to be patient – it's going to take one to three years – but thanks to an agreement between the Irish and Canadian archive offices, the Irish 1901 and 1911 Census Records are all going to be put online – and made available for free! It's estimated that 70 million people around the world claim Irish roots and all of us will be chomping at the bit for December 2006, when the first phase of the 1911 Dublin census will be released. The records include name, age, sex, marital status, occupation, county and country of birth, literacy level, ability to speak Irish, the number of years women were married, and the total number of children born. For those of us who have struggled with Irish research, having these records in easy reach will be a tremendous benefit. Learn more by reading this article.

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Check Out the Changes at Honoring Our Ancestors

Honoring Our AncestorsWe've made some changes at the Honoring Our Ancestors site and invite you to check it out. You'll find cleaner pages and drop-down menus across the top to help you find what you're looking for a little more quickly than before.

Also, you might enjoy taking a peek at the new photo gallery that includes snaps of everyone from Colin Powell to Flat Stanley. We've also added a map to show where I've spoken (19 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada – and counting!). And if you're interested in submitting a story for possible use in an article, book or TV show, you'll find submission forms for tales involving DNA, orphan heirlooms, lost loved ones and brick walls.

And of course, the old stand-bys – such as the Honoring Our Ancestors grant program and the Library of many of my articles are still there. I hope you'll find something useful and come back to visit from time to time.

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HOA Contest!

I need your help. As I just mentioned above, we've just completed a bit of a revamp of the Honoring Our Ancestors site. I'd like to thoroughly road-test it, so if you've got a few minutes to surf the internet, I'd like to invite you to explore the site and email me telling me:

  1. anything that didn't work the way you expected

  2. what you liked best about the site

  3. what you liked least about the site

To make it worth your while, I'm offering two prizes. One is a copy of the hot-off-the-presses book, The Genealogist's Glossary, by Christopher Dunham, cited above.

The other – as a small tribute to the Angel Island Museum and Genealogical Research Center legislation – is a copy of On Gold Mountain, signed by best-selling author, Lisa See (the inscription reads, "I hope my family history inspires you to think about your own. Lisa See”). If you haven't read this book, you'll want to. It's perhaps the most amazing true family history tale you'll ever encounter. I know folks say this all the time, but you really won't be able to put it down.

Winners will be selected randomly, but please specify your preference between the two books if you have one. Thanks in advance for your help and feedback!

The Genealogist's Glossary by Christopher DunhamOn Gold Mountain by Lisa See

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Honoring Our Ancestors Grants

Congratulations to the November and December Honoring Our Ancestors grant awardees – Friends of the Garden City Historical Museum in Garden City, Michigan and the Holder DNA Project Forum. I decided to deviate from my recent cemetery kick and donate to a new museum in support of their annual calendar fundraising initiative and to a DNA surname project.

Please visit the Honoring Our Ancestors Grants page to read about our awardee projects, and how you can apply for a grant to support your genealogical project.

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Recent Articles by Megan, Published in Ancestry Daily News

December 15, 2005: DNA Database Diving
You have your DNA test results in front of you. But how do you make sense out of it and what do you do with all these numbers? In this article, I share a number of online resources that you can use to get some meaning from your results.

December 8, 2005: Have You Already Been DNA-Tested?
You could have been tested – and not even know it! If a blood relative has had a Y-DNA test done, you might be represented by that sample. Read this article for some tips on where to look to find out if there's already a project based on your surname, and what to do if you have already been tested.

November 21, 2005: Let Your Fingers Do the Shopping
The holiday season is here, and that means it's time to shop! Check out this article for gift ideas for all of the genealogists on your shopping list. From books to toys to apparel, these online resources will come in handy...and help you avoid the holiday crowds!

November 11, 2005: Where's Parmo?
While reading Andrew Carroll's Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters – and One Man's Search to Find Them, I was inspired to do some sleuthing into the whereabouts of WWI solider, Parmo Thomas Ferck. That's right, Parmo was his first name! This article recounts how I was able to trace his background and locate his surviving family.

You can read many more articles of genealogical interest, by category, at the Honoring Our Ancestors Library.

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Upcoming Events

I had a great time speaking at State Farm Insurance in NJ and at the Monmouth County Genealogical Society in NJ recently.

If you plan to be near any of the events where I'll be speaking, I would love to meet you. It's always a kick for me when folks tell me they read this newsletter, Ancestry Daily News or whatever, so don't be shy about introducing yourself!

  • January 17, 2006 - Haddon Heights, NJ - Haddon Heights Historical Society - "Remembering Our Ancestors"
  • January 21, 2006 - Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Public Library - "Trace Your Roots with DNA"
  • March 11, 2006 - Port Charlotte, FL - Charlotte County Genealogical Society - "Real World DNA" and "Reverse Genealogy"
  • March 18, 2006 - Ft. Pierce, FL - Treasure Coast Genealogical Society - "Trace Your Roots with DNA" and "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options"
  • March 23, 2006 - Camden County, NJ - Camden County Historical Society - "Trace Your Roots with DNA"
  • March 29, 2006 - Tavistock, NJ - Haddonfield Historical Society - "Remembering Our Ancestors"
  • April 8, 2006 - Stony Brook, NY - Genealogy Federation of Long Island
  • April 10, 2006 - Elkins Park, PA - Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia - "Real World DNA Testing"
  • April 22, 2006 - Richmond, VA - Virginia Genealogical Society - "Real World Y-DNA Testing" and "Beyond DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options"
  • September 2, 2006 - Boston, MA - Joint Genealogical Speakers Guild and International Society of Family History Writers and Editors luncheon at the FGS conference - "Finding Your Voice: Speaking and Writing in the Genealogical World”

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Please forward this newsletter to your family and friends who are interested in genealogy – thank you!

Wishing you an abundance of genealogical serendipity!
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak


Note: You are receiving this because you have demonstrated an interest (e.g., you have a story in one of my books, applied for a grant, attended previous events, etc.) or subscribed via my website, but please let me know if you do not want to receive any further emails, and I will promptly remove you from my list. And rest assured, this is my personal list and not shared with anyone else! Thanks, Megan

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