Thursday, October 30, 2014

Two Days Later Would Have Been Too Late

imageIt 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.”

Judy Russell, “The Legal Genealogist,” shared a simple story of serendipity recently. See “Legal Serendipity.”

A couple of days prior to that she shared a touching story she titled “Finding Evan.” Recommended reading.

Monday, October 27, 2014

NARA Online Genealogy Fair

imageThis week the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) is holding a three day genealogy conference, of sorts, on the internet. If you’ve ever watched a YouTube video, you have enough technical smarts to attend.

Day 1: Tuesday, October 28
Watch live video stream on YouTube
Captioning on Streamtext 

Day 2: Wednesday, October 29
Watch live video stream on YouTube
Captioning on Streamtext

Day 3: video stream: Thursday, October 30
Watch live video stream on YouTube
Captioning on Streamtext

If you wish to ask questions (which you can do since this is a live event), you’ll have to get a Twitter account and learn how to send messages to @USNatArchives with hashtag #genfair2014. (I wonder if NARA checked that hashtag beforehand. Oh well. A little Indonesian music really livens up a genealogy fair.)

Sessions teach about Federal records, including citizenship, immigration, Indian, military, Federal land records, and the NARA website. There are two general interest sessions: introduction to genealogy and preserving your own records. Wednesday at noon (Eastern Time) Quinton Atkinson will teach about and at 2 pm Carol Petranek will present about FamilySearch.

The schedule and handouts are and will be available online. More information is available on the NARA website.

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.