Monday, February 16, 2015

Black History Month Event at the Toledo Public Library

Please join us for this upcoming eve4nt at the Toledo Public Library celebrating Black History Month.

Location- Toledo Public Library- McMaster Center= 325 Michigan St., Toledo, OH

Date- Saturday, 28 February 2015

Time- 1- 4 pm.

Topic- The Great Migration: Mapping your History


D. Willie L McKether, Asst. Prof of Anthropology at the University of Toledo will explain the event in American History popularly called "The Great Migration" which took place in the first half of the 20th century, when millions of African americans moved from the rural South to the urban North and West.

Journey Genealogy Group addresses specific challenges African Americans face when researching their roots.

Donna Christian of the Library's Local History Department will discuss resources that are available including genealogical databases.

Hope to see you there. For more information check out our website at

Friday, February 13, 2015

Challenges with my genealogy

Was thinking the other day on what some of the challenges are that I face when conducting my research on my own family. Thought I would share some of these thoughts.

The biggest one is time. Sure I can do a lot of it online at night, but I find that a lot of the clues to my brick walls are offline. This means travel. So more and more I depend on the Internet. It is a wonderful thing this Internet and the constant upgrade of new sources. It amazes me that sites like Family Search and Ancestry add millions of records every week. The ability to access new records that I may never found the old way are now so much easier. Take for example the Catholic church records that I am able to access for Toledo. Just amazes me. I don't know about you, but when you can limit the human factor sometimes it makes the process of doing research much easier. One of these days I will make the travel to do the offline.

Another challenge is how to go about doing online research correctly. With all the information online if you don't come up with a research plan first it is very easy to wander. Forcing myself to make a research plan first is very difficult. It must be done. Knowing what records you have looked at previously helps you identify new ones to research. Old databases are even being updated. Important to know the date you last used the database.

Software for me can also be a challenge. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable on this element of my research, but I still struggle with it. Constantly having to update programs I find confusing. Knowing the ins and outs of the programs are so important. Dealing with some of the bells and whistles in the programs also can be confusing. Some programs are set up to search the internet to provide clues in your research. I have yet to find one that comes back with solid information. Software and technology related to genealogy is changing on a daily basis.

Finally the shear volume of the data and information related to genealogy on the Internet can be overwhelming. You have blogs, message boards, groups, etc etc. Which ones really bring you the information you need? I am a big believer in keeping it simple, but with the Internet this can be a challenge.

Would love to hear some of your thoughts on the challenges. As always don't forget to click. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Understanding all the resources

Yesterday I had some free time and decided to do some research on my own family. For a long time I have had a line in my family with the surname Geller that has been a tough one to trace back. I decided that I need to take a look at what I had researched in the past and take a look at records that were new. What I did follows.

The primary person that I was doing research on was Albert Geller who lived in Toledo, Lucas, Ohio from about 1870 until his death in 1898. My early research had indicated he was born in Albany, New York in 1848. Previously I had done research primarily using Census records and was unable to identify a possible family in this area. The reason for my research in Albany was the stories I was told as a child. I had to look at it from a different angle.

My first step was to look at records that I had not used before, but were on the Internet. Research for me always starts on Family Search. I went to the collections for Ohio and looked at what was new that I have not researched before. In my case it was the Catholic diocese records in Toledo. These records have to be looked at page by page. It is not in the search database. Using Google Maps to determine the nearest Catholic Church in the area I was able to determine that St Mary's was just down the street. I also knew that Cavalry was the Catholic cemetery in the time frame I was looking for Albert.

My family is not Catholic, but I felt it was a strong possibility since Albert's wife was French. Through this search I was able to find their interment records in Calvary and death records at St Mary's. The death records gave me a clue to his mothers name which was Julianae. This led me in a different direction.

Checked City Directories on Ancestry to determine if other Geller's were living in the area close to Albert. I was able to find a Joseph. This led me to a census search. Found a Joseph living in Monroe Co., Michigan. In a family unit led by Adam with a wife Julianne. This would confirm a clue I had on Albert that said he was born in Michigan. This was listed in Church records. This was a major break through for me. Joseph listed left Toledo at the time that another Joseph born in Monroe County moved to Wayne County. My Albert fits into this family group time wise.

Needles to say I need to do more research. This is a lesson for me to look at all the resources and the Internet is always changing. We all should be evaluating what we have looked at and what is new. The Internet is a fabulous thing for our research.

Monday, January 26, 2015

What do you find to be the biggest challenge when doing your genealogy?

Recently I got the ideas to post a survey on both Facebook and Google+ asking the above question. In this survey you had to select five ideas and see how they rated. Over the next few days I will be talking about the results.

The highest response of the ideas given was that most people found it challenging to locate the records that they are looking for on their family. As we all know finding records of any kind can be a challenge and frustrating process when researching our ancestors. A couple things came to mind that hurts us when locating records.

First one would be the lack of preparation when trying to resolve a problem. Many times we look at our brick walls with blinders on. We don't formulate a plan on how to tackle the problem. When I first started doing my genealogy I had this problem as well. Slowly though I figured out there had to be a better way. I started putting together a timeline that included in chronological order of all the information that I knew about a particular person. For me this allows me to see the gaps in my research. Then I needed to do some homework. Where had I not looked before? What records should I use to solve this problem? What are some of the limitations I might have with finding the record or information I seek? Once I was able to answer these questions I would make a list of sources I should consult. This list I would keep to make sure in the future I did not complete double work. This is a constant and ongoing process that needs to be updated. This is called a research plan. In my own situation I keep a sheet in each of my family groups so I can consult it when I go back to trying to resolve that particular challenge.

After administering on various genealogy websites for over five years I have fielded hundreds of questions that relate to record location. Why can't I find my ggrandfathers birth certificate for 1832? Why don't they have probate? They always spelled their name this way. You know what I mean. A lot of these questions can be answered by simply doing your homework or heaven forbid ask someone. The Internet and the numerous message boards make this process very easy. Even I ask questions when I don't know, which is often.

The final thought I have about the challenge of locating the records by many genealogist is the idea that if it is not on the internet it does not exist. This is wrong. Majority of records even today are still off line. The answers to our families questions still lie in the libraries, archives and genealogical societies that have been keeping these records well before the internet. One of the large challenges is getting the records online and available. This takes humans. Computers still do not have the ability to read handwriting and typing. Some day, but now. If you don't do more offline research you are cheating yourself.

So my suggestion on the locating of records is simple. Do your homework. Check your past research. Make a list of new possible resources. Don't assume you have looked everywhere. Ask someone that may be more knowledgeable in the area you are searching. Understand that it is not done in a few hours. Mine has taken over 30 years. Make sure to do offline research, because it is not all on the Internet.

More tomorrow. Make sure to click.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Using Ancestry DNA- Buyer beware

Thought some would find this post interesting.

Friday, January 23, 2015

the best place for Genealogy and DNA research is?

This will be our final installment on DNA and it's use in Genealogy. I find this subject fascinating and seems to be changing constantly. I hope in some small way that I have helped your reach a better understanding or at least helped you in deciding on having your DNA testing done.

It is my feeling that the best testing is to complete a surname study with people that share the same surname or variation to your surname. This will clear up a lot of your research by showing you the patterns that other people have with their DNA and having the ability to compare the genealogy work that has been completed. When starting this type of testing make sure to decide what you are trying to learn. Example would be determine the relationship of all the Davey's in the world or just the Davey's that lived in Michigan.

Second item is to identify the test center to complete this test. This is where you will want to do your homework on all the companies out there that are offering this service. Many of the test services will help with coordinating the Surname studies. This is a big plus.

Next you will need to gather a group of like minded people that have indicated some interest in the surname you are seeking information on. A great place to get people of interest is the many Surname message boards on the Internet. This will give you a great pool of candidates for the study.

Once the people start to submit their DNA tests you will need to coordinate it. Biggest thing to do is keep others aware of what's going on with the project. A great way to accomplish this is to create a mailing list or website to communicate. Finally respect other's privacy.

Next week I will be writing about a recent survey that I conducted and found fascinating. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

How do I understand the results of mtDNA testing?

Now to explain some ideas on understanding your test results of your mtDNA. These should also help in deciding what test to take.

Test occurs in two separate areas of your mothers DNA. The two testing areas are known as Hyper Variable Region 1 and Hyper Variable region 2. These both tests are then compared to what is known as the “Cambridge Reference Sequence”. The differences of the two are what is used in this test. The results will allow two different persons to identify a common ancestor, but this could go back as far as 1000 years. (You do the math)That's a lot of people. The second result may identify potential family groups as well as ethnic origins.

Tomorrow I will talk about what is best for our genealogies. Remember to click.