Thrifty Thursday – new states added to 1940 Census at Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com has added twelve more states which can be searched for free.  I found out about it from today’s genealogy insider’s blog post.

So I’m interrupting my research plan for Little Eddy to look for my Missouri relatives!  Hopefully I can find my elusive great grandparents:  3 of them have been hiding from me!

The genealogy insider also has links to the full list of states available on FamilySearch.org as well as on Ancestry.

Hope you enjoy this great information which is available free!

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What Do You Mean It Isn’t Free – My Response

Last week Thomas MacEntee wrote a week-long series Genea-Opportunities – 2012 Update where he discussed not only opportunities to earn a living in the genealogy field and their issues but also the perception that everything should be free when it comes to genealogy  [see What Do You Mean It Isn’t Free?].  Because of my present circumstances, my journey of Genealogy in the Recession, this made me a little uncomfortable.  It’s not that I think that everything in genealogy should be free, it’s that right now I need to find the things that are.  I think that this situation presents itself to one degree or another to many researchers sometime during their life.

I have presented many links to websites where the information is/was free.  Sometimes a subscription site is offering access to certain record collections for a limited time.  This is a loss leader for the company, i.e., they are hoping to attract new customers who discover the wonderful information available in those collections, and by extension in the rest of the collections that company offers, and sign up for a subscription.

Many times Webinars are presented as a form of marketing for their presenters and sponsors.  Legacy is a prime example of this.  They have weekly webinars on a wide variety of subjects that offer them an opportunity to promote their Legacy software and the presenter an opportunity to showcase his/her knowledge and professional offerings.  A CD and handout are then available for purchase.   The Illinois State Genealogical Society offers free webinars, charging only for the handouts, because it has found that the cost is covered by new memberships generated.

Sometimes the information is made available by the government and in this case it is funded by the taxpayers.  In the case of federal websites, this is all of us.  In the case of state websites, it is courtesy of that state’s taxpayers (and perhaps all of us, I suppose, if there is a federal grant of some kind involved).

Many times the information is free because of the dedicated efforts of volunteers.  This is the case on findagrave, The US GenWeb Project, RootsWeb, Genealogy Trails, and many others.  I wrote about findagrave on Tuesday’s Tip – Websites for Death Information–Free, of course; I will write about the other sites on Thrifty Thursday.

The tremendous amount of information on FamilySearch, in the Family History Library and in local family history centers is available because of the LDS Church and also because of many volunteers around the world who index, add to the wiki and more.

In the past, I have had subscriptions to Ancestry, fold3, NEHGS and memberships in local genealogy societies.  I certainly hope to again.  At present, I am very grateful for the wide availability of resources available to me at no cost and very appreciative of all the work that goes into making these resources available.

I am taking the opportunity to give back in any way that I can.  I have done quite a bit of indexing for FamilySearch, including the 1940 Census [and the 5 million name day that turned into 10 million!].  I have taken photos and posted memorials on findagrave.  I have responded to many queries on my Ancestry tree, offering information and guidance.  I have taught a class and I have researched and built trees for several people — all free.

And, I hope in some small way that this blog provides some useful information to the genealogy community as well.  Maybe it will even provide inspiration to someone else to give back a little.  I think that there will always be free resources available because genealogists tend to be very helpful people, people who like to volunteer and to help others become passionate about family history.  This doesn’t mean that we always expect a free lunch – just that we are grateful for it when it comes.

Tuesday’s Tip – Websites for Death Information–Free, of course

In my journey of Genealogy in the Recession, I use a lot of websites that are free.  I always used many of them, of course, but I relied most heavily on subscription sites.  My posts about Genealogy with No Budget, free websites and links to websites are among the most popular — I guess there are quite a few people looking to save money but continue to research and write their family histories.  So here are a few more of the websites I turn to often.

findagrave.com
This is the website I search first to — surprise — find a grave. There are several other sites, but this one has been around a long time and often has what I need, including, dates, a photo if I’m lucky, and sometimes obituaries, death notices and more, plus information about the cemetery. I always double check all of this information, though. Often it is unsourced, and as we all know, death certificates are sometimes wrong (darn, those sons-in-law!) and I’ve found a surprising number of gravestones with incorrect dates. It’s often a good place to start looking for a death date, however, and then you can search for a death certificate or social security record.

Social Security Death Index, on NEHGS
One of the free databases on NEHGS’ site American Ancestors, you can find out more in last week’s post Thrifty Thursday-The Free Part of NEHGS.

Missouri Death Certificates
One of the free databases on the Missouri Secretary of State website, Missouri Death Certificates is one of the best resources on the internet.  If you are lucky enough to have ancestors/relatives who died in Missouri between 1910 and 1961 (currently), you will definitely want to bookmark this site.

I have found Advanced Search best. Because names may have alternate spellings, make full use of the options “starts with,” “ends with” and “contains.” I have sometimes resorted to searching individual years, with or without a county, in really tough cases. You may need to try just the first or last name (I hope you’re not searching for Mary Jones or John Smith).  I have found death certificates for Mrs. X X — her first name was not mentioned anywhere!

Remember when searching death certificates that the individual may have died in a hospital, which could have been in one of the big cities rather than within their home county.  Note that even though Saint Louis is an independent city, searching St Louis county does return results for both city and county.  I have often been very glad for that.


Other online Death Certificates

FamilySearch has many Death records, some only indexes, some images.  Here is a  list of Birth, Marriage and Death Collections by state.  No further collection filters are available so you have to look for the death records; those with images have a picture of a camera next to them but not all of these are certificates.  Be sure to check out collections for states you are interested in as there are some browsable collections (no index) and new information is added all the time.  Here are some with images.

FamilySearch also has the U.S. Social Security Index online.  “Name index to deaths recorded by the Social Security Administration beginning in 1962. Current as of May 31, 2012” (as of this writing).  They say there are also a few from 1937 to 1961.

Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records
One of Joe Beine‘s great sites is another place to look for possible free records.

New York City Death Records Search, 1891-1948
This database from Italian Genealogical Group is an index only, but it may have information that you can use.

This list is not exhaustive, of course, but I’ve found it very useful in my research.  If there are websites that you would recommend, please add them here in a comment or e-mail me at 1footplanted@gmail.com

Follow Friday – FamilySearch Indexing “5 Million Record” Day

I received an e-mail from FamilySearch.org entitled “Leave a Legacy: July 2nd Could Be the Day“:

Will July 2, 2012, Be Our First “5 Million Record” Day?

July 2, 2012, is going to be an amazing day! We can feel it! It could be the first day that we achieve “5 Million Name” fame. That’s right. July 2nd might be the day that we index and arbitrate 5 million names (or records) in just 24 hours! No other name transcription project that we know of has ever come close.

Together, we’ve achieved unbelievable success in the past three months. Our highest day for indexing & arbitrating combined—for the last three months and in the history of indexing—was April 30th. On that day, we reached 4.9 million records submitted. Amazing! We nearly made 5 million with just our everyday effort!

To make sure we reach the goal of 5 million records, we’ll need help from every indexer and arbitrator out there. Everyone will need to submit an extra batch or two (or more!) during the day. Remember, though, that our “day” starts at 00:00 Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT), which means 6pm MDT (Utah time), on Sunday, July 1st. Check the Facebook event page for your local start time.

Now, don’t think that we’re focusing completely on quantity and forgetting about quality. Next week, to prepare, we’ll provide ways to improve the quality of your work and suggestions for how to get ready for the big day.

Spread the word! Tell your friends and family about the opportunity to be a part of this history-making event. We may not have another chance like this for years, so plan now to get involved. We need you and everyone else out there to reach this goal!

Look for more details next week. For now, let’s keep on indexing (and arbitrating)! ——————————————————————————-
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I have done quite a bit of indexing of the 1940 Census, recently helping to complete Missouri and get it to the searchable stage.  I like indexing the census, for the most part.  Of course, it can be frustrating, with terrible handwriting, enumerators who refused to follow the rules and images that strain the eyes.

For the most part, though, it is an enjoyable way to spend some time.  Knowing how valuable it is to the genealogy community is a motivator.  Knowing that others in that community are also working hard to complete these states–all of them volunteers–is also a great motivator.

What I like the most about indexing the census is the ability to daydream about the people on the pages.  It is different from looking at the census for my own families, where I am looking for clues and trying to fit the information into a cohesive picture of their lives.

With the census for other people’s families, I’m free to wonder—and to speculate.  Finding someone whose residence in 1935 was in California, for instance, but now he is back in Missouri with his family.  What happened to him?  Is he happy to be home?  Is his family happy to have him back?

And what about the family where three sons are home, all divorced, one with children?  What were the last few years like for that family?

Then there are the names, I love the names.  My favorite so far were twins, Hazel and Basil.  My husband said that with Basil he never knew whether to pronounce the name with a long or short “a.”  Well, with twin sister Hazel, I guess everyone would always know it was a long “a”!

When indexing, I don’t take the time to look at the other columns that aren’t included in the assignment.  They would undoubtedly provide even more grounds for speculation.  Looking at the number of weeks worked in 1939 might provide some insight, especially into those moves, where someone was living somewhere else in 1935…or maybe not.  That is the fun when you just speculate and don’t have to support any conclusions.

Of course, that’s not the way we genealogists are wired.  We want to do the research, search for the clues, and the data, that will provide us with the whole story.  Or as close to it as we can get with an imperfect set of “facts.”

So, this bit of more concentrated time that I have spent with other people’s families in the 1940 census has been great for letting me think about what their lives might have been like.  But it has also been a great tool for getting me excited to go back to my own family and put their information in order and write up some of their real stories.

Familysearch has declared July 2 “5 Million Record Day.”  Their goal is to index and arbitrate 5 million names in 24 hours.  That means that everyone needs to put in a little extra time.  I’m going to be there, with the community of genealogists, contributing in an important way, pushing the 1940 census closer to completion.  And I’m going to be daydreaming about those other families.

Then I’ll be ready to come back and attack my family history.  I hope you’ll join in.