The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

New Course: Research US Midwestern States Ancestors

By Samuel Augustus Mitchell - Mitchell's new general atlas, containing maps of the various countries of the World, plans of cities, etc. (1867 edition) Wikimedia Commons by Geographicus Rare Antique Maps, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14621278

By Samuel Augustus Mitchell – Mitchell’s new general atlas, containing maps of the various countries of the World, plans of cities, etc. (1867 edition) Wikimedia Commons by Geographicus Rare Antique Maps, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14621278

 

We have a new course starting in May at The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Written by Cari Taplin, CG, Research: U.S. Midwestern States Ancestors is designed to give students a basic understanding of some of the historical events that occurred in each state, especially events that shaped the state’s history, boundaries, laws, and records. The states included in this course were all part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803: Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Each state is unique in its geographical formation, social attitudes, political structure, ethnicity, industry and historical records. The modules included are aimed at giving researchers information to aid understanding of these states individually and to provide tools for researching family history, not only in terms of the individual, but also in their broader social context.

Professional genealogist and course author Cari Taplin, CG points out, “As the country expanded from east to west, our ancestors traveled through and sometimes stayed in the midwestern states. Researching in those states is vital to most family history research. The rich and unique history of each state is interesting and can be very rewarding. Learning about the nuances of the region will improve your research skills and bring life to your genealogy.”

To learn more about this course, see our website. Research: U.S. Midwestern States Ancestors starts May 2nd. Register today!

Societies and Immigrants

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series US Immigration & Naturalization Records
Opening night, Masonic May Festival, Washington, May 23, [19]06. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/pan.6a34800/

Opening night, Masonic May Festival, Washington, May 23, [19]06. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/pan.6a34800/

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

I am a member of a fraternity. No, seriously.  While it may not be as impressive as some of the fraternal orders our ancestors were a part of I am super proud to be a member of a professional fraternity. Best part, these types of organizations keep records. Which is what the last module of the course US Immigration and Naturalization Records taught us.

Module 6 was on the subject of ethnic sources, societies, and newspapers. Once again, I felt left out since it didn’t directly affect my personal story, but the information was very enthralling. I honestly had no idea about many of the sources discussed or the groups that were active in  different ethnic communities. In the future I am sure this information will help me with research into other people’s lineages.

The majority of the chapter was about societies. I liked that our instructor broke them up by the type of society. The sections were: fraternal, ethnic, and charitable. While many people belong to several different types of societies, I thought it was important to note that there was not a standard way they all functioned. Each was formed for a different reason, with a different mission statement, and different entry rules. That being said I did not know so many of them kept such extensive records.

The one I knew kept great records was the Free Masons. I have ancestors who were Free Masons and have worked on locating those records. No luck yet on getting them, but one day I will.

There were a number of Irish ethnic societies. I would guess that is because of the large number of Irish who settled in the United States. Also, many of the charitable societies were also Irish based.  The records available from these groups would be amazing for any genealogist who can find their ancestors among their rolls. Particularly the member biographies that were often written.

I was impressed with the course and learned a lot more about these types of records than I thought I would.  Once again, you never know where you will pick up a new tip. Good luck researching your ancestors and see you online!

Passports and the Immigrant

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series US Immigration & Naturalization Records
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications: Chicago, New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle, 1914-1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 1246000 / MLR Number A1 535; Box #: 4161; Volume #: 1via Ancestry.com

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications: Chicago,
New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle, 1914-1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier
1246000 / MLR Number A1 535; Box #: 4161; Volume #: 1 via Ancestry.com

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

Ok, I am chugging right along through the US Immigration and Naturalization Records course and modules 3 and 4 were very cool.  Module 4 was a lot of new material for me, particularly since I have not spent a lot of time learning about Canadian border crossings. No one in my family (that I have found) ever came through Canada. My husband however is a different story. His great-grandparents nearly starved to death (according to his mother) trying to farm in Alberta from 1920-1922 before going on to Washington state to settle.

While that was very interesting I was fascinated to read about the US passport regulations.  Nowadays we take it for granted that if you want to leave the country you need to get a passport.  It is a very simple process, and they are handy forms of government identification.  I did not realize  that this was not the law until 1941.

Personally, I think passport applications are an underused resource for genealogists and should be used a heck of a lot more. Especially if you know your ancestor traveled a lot, either for fun or for business.  I learned this last year when I helped a friend start her genealogy journey.  Her great-grandfather traveled back and forth to Central America for work and the information on his application actually broke down a huge brick wall on where her family came from. She learned that his father was born in Scotland and what his name was!

The last section of the module was on ports of emigration. One day I am sure they will come in handy for me, as soon as I figure out where those pesky ancestors came from. I did not realize how many ports still have a significant amount of records. With all of the destruction from World War I and World War II. I know that many places have no records left. Needless to say it gives me hope!

Next time I will be talking about the last modules of the course. Should be interesting since one of the subjects will be on fraternal orders. See you online!

Immigrant Origins

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series US Immigration & Naturalization Records
Group of emigrants (women and children) from eastern Europe on deck of the S.S. Amsterdam. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/91482252/resource/

Group of emigrants (women and children) from eastern Europe on deck of the S.S. Amsterdam. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/91482252/resource/

 

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

Oh Module 2, you are my savior! Yes, in this module we delved into strategies for locating those pesky immigrant ancestor’s origins. Now, did it personally help me? No, not yet. I do hold out hope though that this module laid the groundwork for successful future research.

Frequently, it may be said that  these courses pack a lot of information into a short amount of pages. I felt it was particularly helpful that this module was broken into 3 sections:

  • Only the country of origin is known
  • Only the county, district, or region of origin in known
  • Specific place of origin  is known

Seeing as all of my family fall into section 1, I studied the other sections for that day when I have a break through!

In each section the instructor walked us through how to work with the information we have. He talked about clues we could use to find more information. Also listing many resources to research to determine if there are any hidden gems out there. There is even discussion on using foreign record sets when applicable. Unfortunately, you have to know the place name for your ancestor before that is a viable option in most cases.

In section 2 PERSI was brought up.  PERSI, or the Periodical Source Index, is a great tool and I was excited to see it brought up in this course.  If you have never heard of PERSI, the  Family Search wiki has a great entry on it. Created by the staff from the Allen County Public Library Foundation and their Genealogy Center, PERSI is fast becoming a great research tool for genealogists.

PERSI is a subject index of articles that are of interest to genealogists.  Just as a warning, it is NOT an every name or every word index. For my own research, PERSI has lead me to some great articles not only about my family but also the areas they were from. For immigration and naturalization purposes the instructor suggests we use PERSI to look to titles of articles concerning our surnames and the county names our ancestors are from. Then we can retrieve the articles and determine if they hold information for us. Warning, it is such a great tool you can lose hours there.

The next two modules will cover an ancestor’s immigration, border crossings, and emigration records.  Lots of good information I am sure!

See you online!

 

Starting US Immigration and Naturalization Records

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series US Immigration & Naturalization Records
The naturalization of foreigners in New York City - Judge McCunn sitting in the Superior Court, passing on applications for citizenship, Friday evening, October 22, 1869. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3c21666/

The naturalization of foreigners in New York City – Judge McCunn sitting in the Superior Court, passing on applications for citizenship, Friday evening, October 22, 1869. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3c21666/

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

If you live in the United States it is a good chance that you or your family came here from somewhere else. People from all over the world have immigrated to the United States in its 239 year existence making us truly a nation of immigrants. However, for genealogists, learning about those brave souls who traveled here, many times under desperate circumstances, can be the bane of our existence. Why, oh why, couldn’t they just once put down the town they came from!

The course I am taking now  is United States: Immigration and Naturalization Records, which hopefully will help me locate my elusive immigrant ancestry along the way. Or at least I can hope, right?

Looking through the syllabus there appears to be a lot of great information covered. A weakness for me is immigration after 1870. The reason? Well, that is when the last of my and my husband’s ancestors came to the US. Due to that fact I have not invested a lot of time in learning about 20th and 21st century immigration and naturalization.  It will take all I have to pay extra attention in those instances but the knowledge will help me I am sure.

While the course seems to be centered on those of European descent I am hopefull that the section which covers the US laws will still be of interest to others. I mean, everyone who wants to immigrate goes through the same process no matter if they are from Europe or Asia.

The section on naturalization records will be interesting. I don’t know about you, but there are times I struggle to remember which law went into effect when for this topic. It seems for the first hundred years of our country there was a new way to do things every decade. I wonder how the people immigrating here kept up!  This could be a great reason to make a timeline or flow chart!

So it is off to another course!  See you online!

Finishing Up US: Probate Records

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series US Probate Records
Probate court room, Wayne County Building, Detroit. Library of Congress. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a09788

Probate court room, Wayne County Building, Detroit. Library of Congress. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a09788

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

I have to say I had a lot of fun digging through the online probate resources for my family members after completing the US: Probate Records course.  I limited my afternoon search to online repositories since research into probate records for my family would take a plane ride or many long hours in a vehicle. With that being said, I think I hit the jackpot in a couple places.

If you are in the same predicament that I am where your ancestors lived in different states, don’t forget that you can find books online. First place I always try is Google Books. They have quite a few older research books on there that you can read and download. Next I try WorldCat  because I might get lucky and see that a nearby library has the books I am looking for, or maybe they will inter-library loan it to me. Of course, don’t forget the Internet Archive for those out-of-print genealogy books.  I have found so many great resources on these pages and I know you will too!

Since the majority of my family have lived in Indiana I decided to start there. Lucky for me, the books that are quoted as references to this section are now online at Ancestry.com. In fact, as I wrote this blog, Ancestry.com released their new probate collection. So, yeah, I went there and hit the jackpot.  Right now I am at a 25% success rate on searches for my Indiana ancestors but I am finding things!

With so many probate records now online with Ancestry.com I think I will be searching here for a while.  When those sources dry up I will need to look at physical locations. I guess that means a road trip is in my future!  Poor me.

If you are working to your American Records Certificate you will take this course. I enjoyed it and thought the information was presented well and in an easy to understand manner. If you are still learning what probate means, how inheritance works, and have a ton of questions you will get a lot out of this course.  As a history lover I enjoyed the background information and may need to beef up my research bookshelf on that subject. I have room next to my small collection of obituary books.

See you online!

 

Learning More About Probate in the States

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series US Probate Records
Probate notice for Mary Pitman, single woman. Library of Congress.  http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.02917

Probate notice for Mary Pitman, single woman. Library of Congress. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.02917

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

Up to this point in the US: Probate Records course we have learned a lot about the history and laws of the U.S. concerning probate situations. There were a lot of terms, examples, and information in the first three modules but I managed to make it through. The next two modules contained a directory of states which broke out information even more and concluded with a bibliographic resource list in Module 6.

The directory will be a useful tool for me in the future as I research my family across the country. Each entry gave a brief description of what information you can usually find, where it is typically located and any interesting facts about the state. Particularly useful is the information on lost record locations. We all know of counties or towns that have lost records due to natural disasters or war. There are records still being lost today due to fire, flood, or neglect.  It makes us look outside of our comfort zones for more potential records, but it is nice to know some of the possible problems up front before you start looking for something that no longer exists.

Finally, in Module 6 the course concludes with a directory of websites and books that are useful for research in each of the states. It is not a complete listing because let’s face it, that would be hundreds of pages long!  This listing contains larger inclusive books for the states and in particular indexes.  A few states do not have listings though since they only had county books or websites and nothing for statewide research.

I think I will take the weekend and see what I can find for some of my ancestors in the resources listed here. It will be a great way to put what I learned into practical application.  Look for my next post to see what I found!

See you online!

 

Learning More About the Law

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series US Probate Records
Law Library of the Library of Congress in the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b17241

Law Library of the Library of Congress in the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b17241

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

The first three modules of the course US: Probate Records covered a lot of historical information and background on probate records in the U.S.  It was fascinating to learn about why and how the laws concerning probate records evolved over time from Colonial to the modern era.  It was obviously just a scratch of the surface since each state and jurisdiction is different but now students in this course have a great foundation to build on.

Being originally an English colony, many of the U.S. laws are based on the English ones brought over with the colonists, particularly the idea of common law. Now, I grew up hearing this word bandied about frequently. Mainly it was in reference to  common law marriages, but still it is a term that many people are familiar with. Familiar, yes, but I would guess that not everyone knows exactly what it means.

According to the course “common law governed the land.”  It appears to have evolved here in the U.S. as a way that the land is divided (there are actually multiple ways covered in the course) after a person’s death. However, each colony, and now each state, had their own laws and ways they liked to conduct probate matters. Which is why we all know nothing is ever as simple as it seems. If we are going to do extensive research into probate records we, as good genealogists, will need to brush up on the laws and regulations of the state we are researching in!

Thankfully the first module included a glossary of terms for the students to use. While I think it could be a bit more comprehensive it was a good general list and I referred back to it frequently. I am considering making a copy of it and adding to it as I research. This is something I have done with other research areas and I find it handy and very helpful.

Also, check out this great resource from the FamilySearch website, Glossary of United States Probate Terms. A great addition to the terms and ideas covered in this course. Of course, these past few modules remind me that I really do need to get a copy of Black’s Law Dictionary for my bookshelf.  You can find it online, but I still like physical books for many things.

See you online!

 

My Favorite Course: Research: American World War II Ancestors

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series My Favorite Course

It’s difficult for me to choose just one course as my favorite. I have a unique position among those who will write about their favorite courses on this blog. I was a student of The National Institute for Genealogical Studies before I started my work here. Currently, I read through the courses as they are turned in by the instructors. This allows me to see the latest courses and resources before they are added to the website.

Because I am so familiar with the 200+ courses The National Institute offers, how can I choose just one? So I decided to write this post about a course that students may not be as familiar with. Research: American World War II Ancestors- Part 1 and Part 2.

Woman machinist, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif . Flickr the Commons. Library of Congress.

Woman machinist, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif . Flickr the Commons. Library of Congress.

These courses, authored by World War II researcher and author  Jennifer Holik, provide students with a look at all facets of researching World War II and its effect on Americans, on the battlefield and the home front.

The description for these two courses are:

There are many records that were created during World War I that are similar in World War II. Learn what led to the start of World War II, how the U.S. became involved and the military records available. They did not all burn in the 1973 fire! This course will move from military records for the Navy, Coast Guard and Marines to civilian jobs including the USO, Merchant Marines and others. You will learn how to research the service of your military ancestors through numerous sources

In Research: American World War II Ancestors-Part 2 we begin with records from the Army, Army Air Corps, Marines and National Guard and explore military and other records that can assist you in conducting World War II era research. We explore life on the home front and the role of women in World War II including their service in the military. A case study gives ideas for piecing the life of you World War II soldier’s story together.

Do you have ancestors and family living in the United States of America during the World War II years? Then you owe it to yourself to learn more about their lives. Check out Research: American World War II Ancestors- Part 1 and Part 2 today.

Finishing Up US: Migration Patterns

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series US: Migration Patterns
A historic mile marker on the National Road, the first federal highway (now U.S. 40) across the United States, in Triadelphia, West Virginia. Library of Congress

A historic mile marker on the National Road, the first federal highway (now U.S. 40) across the United States, in Triadelphia, West Virginia. Library of Congress

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

Well, US: Migration Patterns was an amazing course. I have enjoyed each course I’ve written about, but this one really made an impression on me. Lots of great information, charts, maps, tables, plus history. You can’t forget the history part. If you think you can as a genealogist, well, you are going to miss a lot of things.

Recently I was asked who should take a course like this. Frankly anyone with US ancestors, but particularly those who know they have roots that started in one area and then moved to another. Too vague? Let me explain a little bit.

Migration is a natural process and at times needed. Your ancestor may only have moved a few miles.  Maybe they moved a few states. Understanding the why, when, how or where-to is key when you are researching. While researching your family, you also get to see a bit about historical events that influenced their lives, social history too.  It all works together, you just have to take the pieces and collate them.

Those ideas were presented in easy to understand concepts and pieces throughout the modules. I know many of you will appreciate that. Sometimes courses can be so full of information that it is difficult to internalize and remember it all. Not in this case.

In fact, I have started looking over a few of my brick wall cases that I think will benefit from me taking this course.  It helps that most of my family were in place by 1870, but they still had to get there. Many of the possible record types they could have left a trace in I have not searched yet. No kidding, I have a three page list of things I think I should look at for one family alone.

Needless to say, I think I will also appreciate my cross country trips more. I even may stop a few more times (if the family will let me) and take pictures of these areas that were common for travelers over the centuries. Driving over the Cumberland Gap is an experience, and as a child the daunting task those pioneers undertook was lost on me. Not so much now that I have driven it myself.

Well, it is off to the next course US Probate Records.  See you online!!

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