Tuesday’s Tip: City Directories and Their Impact on Your Genealogy Research

Aha MomentI attended some excellent workshops during Houston’s Family History Expo in 2012 that offered great advice and tips on dealing with brick-wall ancestors (great or small) when we hit them in our family research. One session that really helped a lot, or at least helped me find ancestors that tend to go missing between census decades, was — City Directories and How to Really Use Them — presented by Dae Powell at ShoeStringGenealogy.com!

Now I’ve used city directories with my research before I attended Dae’s workshop. But what I took away from his session was — “how often” — I should be using them with my research! So when he recommended doing city directory searches year by year because they’re “excellent fillers between the Federal Census decades,” anyone in this session looking my way would have seen a giant yellow light bulb appear above my head – LOL! This was my “AHA” moment about the real use of these directories with my research! I have not been doing city directory searches year by year for every ancestor. If truth be told, it never occurred to me that these directories were an excellent resource for tracking changes that occurred within families such as –

which family members were still there and which ones were not due to — a move, a marriage, death, etc.”Because information was collected at the time of the event – often by actual house to house canvassing — it carries the same evidential weight as many “original” records.” [1]

Below are some other quick tips Dae Powell gave during that session that I tweeted out to my genealogy friends on Twitter:

City Directories Session at Family History Expo 2012

Click to learn more about this session at Family History Expo 2012

This session with Dae Powell really did change the way I use city directories with my research! As I began using them more, I noticed that they also provided: excellent historical information about the city, a reverse directory (a listing of residents by address if searching for your  ancestor’s names doesn’t work), cemetery listings, church & clergy listings and much more!

So where can you find city directories? According to Dae, city directories may be found —

[i]n public libraries in the regions they cover.  In university libraries, at the LDS Family History Centers, and even some have been scanned for commercial use online.”

Need to acess Houston’s City Directories online? Surf on over to the Houston Public Library’s digital collection at this link – http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/cdm/search/collection/citydir

To locate city directories for other regions of this country online, check out the links below for assistance and information:

1. Ancestry.com (for paid subscribers) – http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2469
2. Cyndi’s List – http://www.cyndislist.com/directories/general/
3. Fold3.com – http://www.fold3.com/s.php#query=City+Directories
4. DistantCousin.com – http://distantcousin.com/directories/

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Source Citation:

1.  Powell, D. (2009, October 21). Another Look at City Directories. SHOESTRING GENEALOGY: City Directories. Retrieved June 15, 2013, from http://shoestringgenealogy.com/article/City_dir.htm

 

Was April 2012 a great month for genealogists?

Month of AprilWas April 2012 a great month for genealogists? I truly believe it was! If nothing else, it was one of the BEST and most EXCITING months for me in the world of genealogy!

It began with the most anticipated genealogical event to date — the release of the 1940 United States Census on Monday, April 2, 2012 at 9 AM sharp Eastern Standard Time! Despite the overloaded databases the first few hours and days by so many genealogists trying to access these records, I’ve been able to successfully search the census records and find new and existing family members, as well as, identify those who went MIA in earlier records. But more importantly, these records have given me some great insight into how much my family and America has changed since the 1940s!

Next, Family History Expo 2012 rolled into H-town. With sessions like — “New Avenues in Genetic Genealogy,” “Google Earth for Genealogy – Rock Your Ancestor’s World,” and “The Challenges of Genealogical Research in Ghana” to name a few (you can see other sessions I attended via my online conference directory at Lanyrd.com), I came away with some excellent research techniques and best practices that will certainly enhance the accuracy of my genealogical investigation and much more.

Last, but certainly not least, the results of my genetic DNA test are in– woo-hoo! That’s right! The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test that I ordered from Family Tree DNA during the first quarter of this year is back and I look forward to sharing those results with you in the coming weeks. Now, take one look at me and my family tree and it doesn’t take a genius to know that my ancestral origins are in Africa. But knowing more about the geographical region and the possible subculture groups that make up my ancestry is what makes genealogy via DNA so fascinating!

So . . . do you think April 2012 was a great month for genealogists? How successful were you in locating your ancestors in the 1940 Census when they were released last month? Have you tried DNA testing yet? What other genealogy activities did you delve into the month of April 2012? Share your thoughts with me!

Road Trip: Houston Family History Expo 2012

Family History Expo

In a few hours I will be heading out for an information packed two day genealogy conference.  That’s right, I will be attending the Houston Family History Expo 2012. This year’s theme is – YOUR FAMILY HISTORY STARTS HERE! – and I understand that Lisa Louise Cooke, producer of the Genealogy Gems Podcast and this year’s opening keynote speaker, will be on hand to get us all fired up and ready to engage in all things “genealogy” this weekend . . . woo-hoo!

This will be my first Family History Expo, so I’m excited about going and look forward to learning a great deal. I’m especially glad to know that Family History Expo, Inc. responded to our soft economy and lowered the cost of this event making it very affordable for anyone who plans and wants to attend. If you registered early, the cost was only $69 for both days and $99 if paid at the door (which is still an affordable fee for those making the decision to attend at the last minute).

According to Family History Expo, Inc., “… a few reasons why you don’t want to miss this event, registered attendees can take advantage of the following bonus items:

*  Free personalized genealogy wall charts for attendees (made from
your personal files) valued at $19.00 or more.
*  Class Handouts Syllabus include materials from three Expos with more
than 300 pages of research guidance.
*  Free online class offered by Genealogical Studies valued at $89.00
*  Download, view and study class handouts before the event so you can
come prepared with questions.
*  FamilySearch developers, consultant training, and expert researchers
from the Family History Library will be there teaching classes.
*  Ask-the-Pros booth where you can bring personal research and
genealogical questions to discuss with our professional researchers
$50 value.
*  Exhibit area filled with vendors who have unique products and
services, family historians and genealogists love to learn about.
*  Speakers and vendors from throughout the United States, Canada,
Israel, and Africa. A unique opportunity to increase skills and
networking with other researchers.
*  Meet bloggers who will be talking about the event via twitter, blogs,
and other social media.
*  Amazing door prizes each hour and grand prizes at the end of the
Expo! People qualify to win prizes by attending classes”

. . . .and much more!

Conference registration and Exhibit Halls open at 1 PM CST and I will be checking in at that time. To see a list of workshops that I plan to attend this weekend, check out my conference session picks at Lanyrd.com, my favorite social conference directory – lanyrd.com/cgqwc. Feel free to join me at Lanyrd.com and list the sessions you will be attending, or tracking, as well if you like. You can check out my reaction as a first-timer at this conference on Twitter by following me (@claimingkin) and here’s my hashtag for this event #fhexpo