Friday, October 24, 2014

Alaska’s Darned October 1867

Records say the darnedest things

We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about our pasts.

Yet sometimes records have anomalies.
Some are amusing or humorous.
Some are interesting or weird.
Some are peculiar or suspicious.
Some are infuriating, even downright laughable.

Yes, “Records Say the Darnedest Things.”

Alaska’s Darned October 1867

Most genealogists know that in 1752 the calendar changed from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. Most also know that the calendar change occurred in different years in different countries. “Julian and Gregorian Calendars,” in the FamilySearch Wiki lists the years for several countries.

Most genealogists may not know about the oddity that is Alaska.

Stephen Morse, creator of the famous One-Step Website, wrote an excellent article titled “The Julian Calendar and Why We Need to Know About It.” It appeared in the March 2014 issue of the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly on pages 36-42. Along with a general discussion on the conversion to the Gregorian Calendar, Morse wrote about the weird situation that occurred in Alaska when it was transferred from Russia to the United States.

The day before the transfer was Friday, 6 October 1867 in Russia. Russia was still on the Julian Calendar. The day of the transfer was Saturday, 7 October 1867, in Russia. That date corresponds with Saturday, 19 October 1867, Gregorian Calendar.

However, like a modern day traveller who gains a day flying from Russia to America, Alaska gained another day! It had two Fridays in a row. That made the official transfer day Friday, 18 October 1867, Gregorian Calendar. 

This is the Alaskan Calendar for October 1867:

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6  
          18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Darned Alaskan October 1867!

Other Sources

“State of Alaska.” Alaska TourSaver. : accessed 24 May 2014.

Wikipedia contributors. "Alaska Purchase." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. : accessed 26 May 2014.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ICAPGEN Conference Coming 1 November 2014

ICAPGEN provided the following press release about their upcoming conference. (I’m not doing very well on my two article goal this week, am I.)

The annual family history conference co-sponsored by ICAPGen and the Center for Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University will be held on Saturday, November 1, 2014 in the Joseph F. Smith building on the BYU campus. Come celebrate 50 years of genealogical credentialing with some amazing classes on accreditation, professional research, methodology, technology and DNA research. The luncheon speaker will be David Rencher. Lunch is included in the low price of the conference. It will be a great day! Go to to see the conference schedule. Sign up for the conference online here:

Or to view the conference schedule go here:

About ICAPGen:  The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists, internationally recognized as ICAPGen, is a professional credentialing organization dedicated to testing an individual’s competence in genealogical research. The organization is administered by a board of qualified Commissioners with many years of experience. Professional credentials with ICAPGen provide numerous benefits. For additional information go to

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Free Genealogy Toolkit Family History ToolkitThis last week, released a free genealogy toolkit. It is simply a PDF file containing a list of (and links to) free resources offered by I’m all over free. Some may lead to free resources that lead to subscription resources, such as state resource guides. But that should be surprising to no one. Any credible guide to genealogy today is going to end up, sooner or later, pointing you to resources on’s subscription website.

Here’s a sampling of the available offerings listed in the toolkit:

  • Free Charts & Forms
  • Ancestry Red Book: American State, County & Town Sources (Online reference)
  • Irish Research in the U.S. and Ireland (Free downloadable PDF guide)
  • 5-minute Finds (Short videos)
  • County Look-up

Download your free genealogy toolkit from


P.S. Earlier this month I decided that I need to re-balance my weekends. That means less time writing this column and more time in other aspects of my life. The goal is to write no more than two articles each week. There is always so much to write about and I like writing this column so much, we’ll see how well I do.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Mailbox: Ancestry Library Edition

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Ancestry Insider,

My wife and I have been asked to teach a class of newbies “How to use AncestryLibrary” and while doing a little research on the difference between the library version and,  I looked in the card catalog for each and found that claims 32,396 collections (25,698 of these are USA) while the CC for the library version claims 9,853 collections (3,872 are USA).

The Library version also has this “Ancestry Library Edition is available in the U.S., the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland and Norway, and provides access to billions of historical documents, millions of historical photos, plus local narratives, oral histories, indexes and other resources in over 30,000 databases that span from the 1500s to the 2000s.”

Which of these is really true and which is just hype?  Seems to me that the last statement is a form of “bait and switch” if the CC is correct.  If the CC is not correct, then there must be a lot of databases NOT cataloged in the library version–why?

Harry Dell

Dear Harry,

I asked’s Kim Harrison to answer your questions. Her response follows. (I’ve edited it slightly, so blame me for the english erors.)

---The Ancestry Insider

From Kim:

Ancestry comes in all sizes and shapes to fit our customer needs. Here is the break out of the different types of Ancestry being delivered.

Ancestry Library Edition:

This is offered by ProQuest to libraries. The content is U.S. and International. It has some limitations and restrictions:

  • You cannot build online trees.
  • The Ancestry Library Edition cannot be accessed remotely (at home). [You must visit the library.]
  • There are some U.S. Content exclusions. These are titles that are already offered in the library setting by other library vendors. For example: 70 Genealogical Publishing Company titles (these titles usually are abstract or indexes affecting some of the east coast states), some county histories (these are offered by ProQuest in HeritageQuest), Gale (now known as Cengage) titles (Filby’s Ship & Passenger List and Biography & Genealogy Master Index [BGMI]), and some newspaper content that we licensed from ProQuest (such as their ProQuest Obituary database).
  • Community features are not available, such as sending messages to other members, posting on message boards, buying DNA products, and so on. Most of the message boards are read only.

Ancestry Institution Edition:

This edition is offered in places that have a special relationship with Ancestry such as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), FamilySearch, and state archives. There is no content exclusion in this offering. However, this offering can be restricted by regional interest. In the U.S. this offering is restricted to U.S. only for K12 schools.

As with the Ancestry Library Edition, it cannot be accessed remotely (at home). You cannot build online trees. And there are the same restrictions on community features.

This is offered to the individual for at home use. Content offerings can be purchased by region of interest such as the U.S. The World Explorer subscription includes all international content. offers the most robust of what I call the “connection” features:

  • Share and build online trees
  • Use message boards
  • Interact with company experts using social media sites
  • Explore your DNA ethnicity and matches with others that share your DNA makeup

All these editions have:

  • the same search functions, including filters
  • the same ability to print, cut & paste, save to jump drive, or e-mail home
  • the same Learning Center

Friday, October 10, 2014

Serendipity in Genealogy from NEHGS Readers

NEHGS asked readers about their tales of serendipityIt is as though our ancestors want to be found. Uncanny coincidences. Olympian luck. Phenomenal fate. Tremendous intuition. Remarkable miracles. We call It, “Serendipity in Genealogy.”

In its Weekly Genealogist newsletter, the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) asked recently if readers had had an experience of sheer luck or serendipity which had allowed them to break through a brick wall. They gave the results In the 1 October 2014 issue. About 4,000 readers responded to the survey. Of those, 72% said yes, 23% said no, and 5% said they didn’t believe in luck (which is another way of saying no).

Several readers emailed their stories or posted them on the NEHGS Facebook page. Newsletter editor, Lynn Betlock, shared some of them. One was researching one ancestor at the National Archives and found a document—misfiled—for a brick wall ancestor. In similar fashion, another reader was researching one ancestor only to find a brick-wall ancestor as a witness to a wedding far away from where they were known to be.

Read these short accounts for yourself in the newsletter and on the Facebook page.