Friday, November 24, 2006

Genealogy Fiction

I think Thanksgiving is a great genealogical holiday. Afterall, it stresses family, being thankful, memories and recipes that have been passed down. Now that it is over and you may have a few days before you decorate the Christmass tree and buy presents, think about taking a break with a good genealogical mystery book.

Fiona Mountain is a British mystery author who has two genealogical mystery books in paperback, Pale as the Dead and Bloodline. These mysteries include a 28 year old 'ancestor detective', Natasha Blake, who uses original records, archives, family interviews and other genealogical methods to solve murders. Pale as the Dead includes a murder that is linked to a Pre-Raphael model named Lizzie Siddal. The newest book, Bloodline includes some interesting twists that date back to World War II Germany.

You can check out Fiona Mountain's website at

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Poorhouse

Poorhouses were our ancestor’s solution to what to do with those who either did not work or could not work because of disability. The site for researching poorhouses is the Poorhouse Story at This is a great site for learning more about poorhouse history and for information on a state-by-state basis.

When researching your ancestor who either lived in the poorhouse or maybe was an overseer, first check out the U. S. Federal Census. Using, search the census for your county of interest and select the term “inmate” in the relationship category. Often those who lived in the poorhouse were described as inmates.

If you are conducting research onsite, make sure to check out county commissioner meeting minutes or other county government meeting minutes. There should be information having to do with whom the county contracted with to run the poorhouse.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Adoption Research in New York

Researching a family tree for someone who was adopted can be tough. It can be even more difficult if you are researching a family tree where one of your grandparents was adopted.

The New York Foundling Hospital began in 1869 by some Catholic nuns who were concerned about the number of children orphaned because of the Civil War. In the late 19th century, The Foundling Hospital found homes for children by using “orphan trains” to send children west.

There are a few ways to access the records of The Foundling Hospital. Ancestry has recently posted the censuses for The Foundling Hospital taken in the years 1870 to 1925. To access this database from the Ancestry homepage, click on the “search” tab. Then click on the state of New York found on the United States map. From the New York page, click on “New York Census Records”. Once there you will find a link for The New York Foundling Hospital. There is also a link for another New York orphanage, The Children’s Aid Society of New York.

The New York Foundling Hospital can provide you with the records of your ancestor. You must provide a death certificate for your ancestor and proof that you are a descendent. To request a record, write to: Yvonne Wintz, The New York Foundling, 590 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10011. Records that you receive may include adoption papers, letters, and notes from visits to the child while in the foster family or adoptive families home.

Veterans' Day

November 11 is the day that we stop and remember all that our servicemen and women have done for us. Veterans’ Day began as a result of World War I. The year after the truce was signed, Armistice Day was celebrated in the United States as a way to honor the veterans of World War I. 20 years later, Armistice Day became a federal holiday. It was after World War II that the holiday’s name was changed to Veterans’ Day.

There are so many resources for remembering and researching the veterans in our family tree. For those who died during war or in peace there are two websites that can help, the American Battle Monuments Commission,, is the site to look up soldiers who are buried on foreign ground. Beginning with the American Civil War, American soldiers have been buried in foreign countries near where they have died during wartime activities. This website allows you to look up a soldier in their database as well as request a picture of their headstone. The Department of Veteran Affairs website,, has their Nationwide Gravesite Locater to find veterans buried in one of our nation’s veterans’ cemeteries. They also have limited listing for veterans buried in private cemeteries.

One of my recommendations for researching veterans is to use the keyword search in the Family History Library Catalog. You can use the keyword search to search for records that have to do with a certain conflict, like World War I. Don’t forget to also conduct a place search for the state and county your soldier was from. The Family History Library has a selection of different types of records that can be of assistance to you, such as regiment histories, personnel lists, and personal narratives.

Of course there are the standard places to look for military files and information on veteran ancestors. The National Archives,, and provides you with access to military files, pensions files, casualty lists and draft registrations.