Archive for category Genealogy Resources

Tuesday’s Tip: Using Diaries in Your Family History

Posted by on Tuesday, 30 April, 2013

It was Christmas Eve in Oxford, Connecticut and it snowed dreadfully. John, the first born of John and Jane Doe was born on that fateful day in 1856. How would you like to be able to describe the day when one of your ancestors was born?

Not everyone is going to have a 18th or 19th century diary written by their ancestors or even a close relative. Even if you do not have access to a diary of your ancestors, it is possible a diary of a neighbor or someone living in the same town is available today. In the Diary of Laura Davis transcribed by Oxford, Connecticut’s historian Dorothy DeBisschop it describes the weather of most days at the start of each entry. It did indeed snow dreadfully on December 24th, 1856 in Oxford, Connecticut at least according to Laura’s diary.

Here in Connecticut and New England in general, the vital records that were kept and survive today are very good. However in some areas such as upstate New York vital records started very late. Even after vital record keeping started, it was not always reported and there may be gaps. Diary entries may be the only mention about a particular date to a birth, marriage or death.

Here are just a few vital records contained within the Laura Davis Diary mentioned above;

  • Nov 2, 1856: Charles son of Bennett Scoville died aged 6 months
  • Nov 7, 1856: Daughter of Cyrus Sanford burned to death
  • Dec 9, 1856: Lyman Johnson buried
  • Dec 18, 1856: Orlando Cables died
  • Dec 19, 1856: Henry, son of George De Forest, drowned in Falls Pond, Seymour
  • Dec 29, 1856: Mrs. Henry Church gave birth to a son
  • Dec 31, 1856: Henry son of Mrs. Harison Tomilinson (sic) died

These are the vital records from just two months of her diary. If you can find the diary from someone in the same town at the same time period as your ancestor lived, it may just provide that hidden piece of data you’ve been looking for. You can also glimpse into daily life of the townsfolk; attending festivals and learning about the relationships of friends and neighbors and perhaps see a mention of your own ancestor in a neighbor’s diary.

Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to search for a diary from the time and place your ancestor came from, where would these hidden genealogy nuggets be found? Here are a few places to start your quest to find that diary.

  • The local historical society:
  • Most areas will have a local or county historical society where diaries of it’s citizens would be stored in their archives. The state archives or library may only be interested in prominent citizens of the state and thus a diary of a common citizen may be more likely to be archived at the local level.

  • The local town historian:
  • Find out who the local town historian is and contact them. They are most likely working very closely with the local historical society, but they may have further information and insight into where some local diaries may be kept.

  • The state historical society or state archives:
  • Although the diary of a common person may be more commonly archived at the local level, don’t overlook the possibility that a diary you’re interested in is stored at the state level.

  • Academic Libraries:
  • Find out what major colleges or universities are close to the town where your ancestor lived. Contact the college library to see if they have diaries in their archives.


Hidden Genealogy Nuggets Website is Two Years Old Today

Posted by on Monday, 29 April, 2013

Two years ago today was the first day Hidden Genealogy Nuggets was put on line. There has been a lot of developments on the website since then. Over twenty thousands records mostly in Connecticut have been made available within our search engine. Free Ancestry Search at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets. There is also an index to Newtown Connecticut Birth, Marriage and Death Records which have been put on-line.

We started a blog about a month later, but didn’t really start posting regularly until the start of 2012. We have recently been named one of the top 40 genealogy blogs of 2013 by Family Tree Magazine.

Some of our blog posts have dealt with getting the most out of unusual records;

We have a few series of blog posts dealing with a variety of subjects including;

  • Genealogy by the States
  • This is the most recent series of posts. Each week we highlight an ancestor or connection to a particular state. If there’s no connection to that state, we highlight a resource of interest for that state.

  • School Records
  • School Registers can be a great genealogy find. They can have birth dates and identify relationships which you might now find elsewhere. This series transcribes various school records from towns in Connecticut.

  • Genealogy Interview Questions
  • During this past Christmas season, our blog highlighted series of blog posts to prepare questions you might ask your relatives. Each post focused on a different subject matter. The subjects included the games your ancestor played, the sports they played, Sunday Supper and more.

To all of you who’ve been visiting this site regularly and reading our blog posts, I would like to thank you for visiting. I hope you have enjoyed the blog posts and the rest of the website. I look forward to another year.

Tuesday’s Tip: Hidden Genealogy Nuggets Records Search

Posted by on Tuesday, 23 April, 2013

Did you know there are two different search engines on the Hidden Genealogy Nuggets website outside of this blog.

The first search engine Free Ancestry Search at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets contains more than 15,000 records which are mostly from Connecticut. These are records which I have personally indexed and have put into a database. There isn’t an image to the original document, but when you look at the details, you will see a link to the facility which has the original document. The records here could be old city directories, town reports, marriages and more. I have not added an index to the school records I’ve been transcribing, but I hope to add it soon. It does not have sophisticated search capabilities and needs the complete spelling of the last name for records to be returned. I may when I have some time over the summer enhance the search feature along with adding records to the database.

The second search engine Newtown, Connecticut BMD was created and is maintained by Bob Pittman. He, along with a number of additional volunteers have indexed the vital records from Newtown, Connecticut. This search engine has a more sophisticated search capability which includes using a soundex option.

If you have Connecticut ancestors and Newtown Connecticut ancestors in particular, be sure to check these capabilities out. I would love to hear any feedback regarding these searches.

NERGC 2013 – Day 3

Posted by on Sunday, 21 April, 2013

Yesterday was the last day for me at the New England Regional Genealogy Conference (NERGC) for 2013. Over the past three days I’ve attended met up with and spent some times with friends I haven’t seen in a while, attended a lot of lectures, met a lot of great people and a whole lot more. I’m already looking forward to NERGC 2015 which is being planned and will be held in Providence, Rhode Island.

The first lecture of the day I went to was by David Ouimette. I had heard one of his lectures already so I was very excited about hearing him talk again and I was not disappointed. His lecture was about “But She Died in Upstate New York in the 1850s: How can I Identify Her Parents?”. If you have any ancestors in upstate New York at that time, like myself, you know how difficult it can be. There are no vital records for the time period and other available records seem to be pretty scarce. Using indirect records from New York and some direct records of neighboring areas, including Vermont and Canada, he was able to determine who the parents were in this case study.

The second lecture of the day I went to was entitled “Bittner Bastards of Bavaria” and was given by F. Warren Bittner. It was supposed to have been a lecture on “Documents to Narrative: Writing to Engage your Reader. I was really looking forward to the lecture about writing, but the Power Point had gotten corrupted and Warren needed to make the change at the last minute. Even though I was a little disappointed about not getting to hear the lecture about writing, Warren is a very entertaining speaker and he mixed in some writing topics along the way of telling the case story about his ancestors in Bavaria.

The last lecture I attended for the day was “Demystifying Digitizing: Scanning and Photographing for Family History”. It was given by Kathy Bolduc Amoroso of the Main Historical Society. The Maine Memory Network is going through a series of scanning projects to digitize a lot of Maine’s historical documents. Instead of scanning a document at a particular DPI, they have scanned documents so that they can reproduce an image on 11″ by 14″. This seems to have come out to about 40mb per image when utilizing a tiff format. She recommends saving the original scan in a tiff format as well as the lessor quality jpeg format.

There were two more slots of lectures which were available, but I decided to get an early start on the 3.5 hour ride home. The ride home was uneventful and even though I had a lot of fun, I was looking forward to getting home and relaxing.