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Family History 4 All

 Learn how to trace YOUR family tree.

Newsletter No. 30 - June 2009.

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New on Family History 4 All: Find My Past

I hope this message finds you all in good health. If you have an article or amusing story to share with us then please don’t be afraid to send it for publication…you can remain anonymous if you prefer but we want you all to feel you can contribute if you want to. Just send an with the words ‘Newsletter item’ in the subject box. And we will include it at the first opportunity, subject to editing, if necessary of course.

I'd like to welcome my new subscribers.  I am now offering an eBook to all my subscribers totally FREE and here's the link: Genealogy Guide Please do not tell anyone about this link as it's only for subscribers. If your friends wish to subscribe they will get the guide through this link.


1. Our welcome message.

2. Featured Article – A tale of genealogy, fraud and poverty by John Arthur

3. Latest news from: Family search

4. Next Months Featured Article: Forgotten Entrepreneurs By: Dhyan Atkinson

1. Our welcome message.

 The' Yorkshire Family History Fair' on the 27th June 2009, at York racecourse, was a great success. What a fantastic setting. It was nice to meet some of our subscribers and have a chat. Thanks for the cup of tea Alan and Sue from Berkshire and it was nice to see Richard from Durham.

Our next major outing will be the National Family History Fair at Gateshead International Stadium on Saturday 12th September 2009. More info (Exhibitors etc) This is another Biggie!

Here's a tip for anyone subscribed to Ancestry.co.uk, If you are not happy about the price hike, then tell them you want to close your account. I know someone who did this and he was offered a 50% discount...Nuff said!

2. Featured Article

A tale of genealogy, fraud and poverty by John Arthur

So how do we go about doing this? The first step is to find our own birth certificate and from this we will find out where we were born, who our parents were and when they were married and so on. From our parents marriage certificate we can trace our grand-parents and again from their marriage certificate this will give where they lived, how old they were on marriage, what trade they followed and so on and then by using this information we can then find our great-grandparents and so on back into time. Also by using this information with the help of the many genealogical online sources we can trace without too much difficulty if there were children of these unions. I must add although not difficult the tracing of siblings can be very time consuming. There is certainly no royal road to success just perseverance. Further, I must admit that I have over simplified the above process for clarity as many complications can come into it such as divorce, re-marriage and so on.

However in Scotland statutory registration started in 1855 and prior to this the recording of Births, deaths and marriages was the responsibility of the church and this record is called the Old Parish Record (OPR) and the earliest known record of this dates back to 1555.

So taking Scotland as an example everybody can trace their family back to 1855 and most back to the 18th century and some to the 16th and 17th century and there are many reasons for this. In the first place the spellings of names change through time only becoming the accepted version in the later part of the 19th century but despite this various spellings of family names still exist to the day. So unless we know the form of spelling of the family name we won’t be able to find the ancestor we are looking for. A further problem is the actual record itself and that is as good or as bad as the person who originally made the record in the first place. Some Session Clerks of the Church of Scotland were first class at recording and so they will record for example, for a marriage, the names of the people being married, parents and witnesses along with their trade and where they lived etc. However in some OPR’s all we have are the names of the people being married and that is it. Apart from this records can be lost, destroyed, defaced, and can be simply wrong or confusing and if the family historian isn’t absolutely sure about how to approach or handle records this can cause no end of problems and people can be totally misled. Not only this, but couples have been married under completely false names.

Talking about marriages and the OPR. What people don’t realise is that a couple could be married according to the law of Scotland but never recorded in the OPR. The reason for this is until quite recently a person could be considered married in several different ways without a Church or Civil marriage taking place (Civil marriage was originally consented to by the granting of a Sheriff warrant) and that was by sexual intercourse, by agreement, and by habit and repute. There was also what was called an Irregular marriage which was in fact a form of fraud. The idea was to take advantage of a young lady for sex. Taking Leith as an example. Leith is a port and being a port has seen many sailors and soldiers passing through it over the years and not only this but Leith has many Public Houses. So a Sailor or Soldier visits a Public House and wants a night’s pleasure with a young lady who he fancies. The lady in question says she is respectable and would not consider sex before marriage. The Soldier/Sailor says that isn’t a problem because he had someone that could marry them there and then and so they go to the back room of the Public House where they go through a form of marriage with a so called “Celebrant” and the lady gets a certificate. However the marriage is a total fraud and by the time the woman discovers she is expecting the Soldier/Sailor is long gone. The problem for the woman is because if she can’t produce a valid marriage certificate she couldn’t claim any help from the Parish and that is why if the fathers could be traced the Church insisted on them being properly married. So if this happened to your ancestor the record of the marriage won’t be found in the OPR but in the Kirk Session Records. In this the Church wasn’t being narrow minded it was because in Edinburgh up to the beginning of the twentieth century, incredible though it may sound, the greatest cause of death was starvation and if a woman couldn’t work or get money in some way or another she could well starve to death. Forget about the Shortbread tin idea of Scotland, Kilts and all the rest of it. Scots left Scotland to go overseas because, especially in the late 18th and 19th centuries, to escape from bad housing, disease and shocking working conditions. Visit any Churchyard in Scotland that is reasonably ancient and you will find whole families wiped out by disease and want. As one writer put it writing about poverty in Scotland in the 19th century “Live in misery and die at thirty seven”

So when you come to do your family tree try to find out something of the history of the area of where they lived and if possible try to find the streets mentioned in your certificates in maps of the period in which they lived. That will help to put some flesh on the bones so to speak instead of you just having a name or a list of names.

What is most important is not to have any romantic ideas about your ancestors. They were human beings and lived within the context of their times and it would be wrong to judge them by our standards. If you wish to see what living conditions were like in the past then visit my “The History of Leith Website” at www.leithhistory.co.uk it will surprise you.

___\\\ ** ///___

John Arthur is a Local Historian for Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland

and a Genealogist, married with two sons and has websites at www.lineages.co.uk, www.leithhistory.co.uk

Article Source: http://www.familyhistoryarticles.com

3. Latest news from: Family search

   Millions of Historic Southern Records Now on the Web
14 May 2009

SALT LAKE CITY—FamilySearch announced today it has published millions of records from Southern states to its rapidly growing, free online collection. The collection includes both digital images and indexes. Millions of death records from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida were the most recent additions. Viewers can search the free collection on the Record Search pilot at FamilySearch.org (click Search Records, and then click Record Search pilot).

In the past 18 months, FamilySearch has been diligently publishing digital images and indexes from Southern states. It is part of a worldwide initiative to provide fast, economical access to genealogical records. Fuelled by over 100,000 online volunteers, FamilySearch is digitizing and indexing historical records and publishing them online.

The most recent additions are from the following collections:

  • Alabama Statewide Deaths 1908 to 1974 (Index)
  • Arkansas County Marriages: 1837 to 1957
  • Civil War Pension Index Cards (Digital Images)
  • Florida Deaths 1877 to 1939 (Index)
  • Florida State Censuses: 1855, 1935, 1945 (Digital Images)
  • Freedman Bank Records: 1865 to 1874
  • Freedman’s Bureau Virginia Marriages 1855 to 1866
  • Georgia Deaths 1914 to 1927
  • Louisiana War of 1812 Pension Lists (Images)
  • North Carolina Deaths 1906 to 1930
  • North Carolina, Davidson County Marriages and Deaths, 1867–1984 (Digital Images)
  • South Carolina Deaths 1915 to 1943
  • South Carolina Deaths 1944 to 1955 (Index)
  • Texas Death Index 1964 to 1998 (Index)
  • Texas Deaths 1890 to 1976
  • Virginia Fluvanna County Funeral Home Records 1929 to 1976 (Digital Images)
  • West Virginia Births 1853 to 1930 (Index)
  • West Virginia Marriages 1853 to 1970 (Index)
  • West Virginia Deaths 1853 to 1970 (Index)

FamilySearch has also published free indexes to the 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1920 (partial) US Censuses—all important resources for Southern states research.
David E. Rencher, FamilySearch chief genealogical officer said, “This significant set of records fills a real need in Southern states research. To be able to search vital records across the South by name and locality leverages the best search techniques and greatly improves the odds of success for those researching Southern families.”

During both pre and post Civil War eras, there was general migration from the eastern seaboard, down through the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and on into Texas. “The publication of these records will begin to open up and answer many questions about family members that migrated and were never heard from again,” Rencher added.

With just a few clicks, visitors can now search millions of records online for that elusive ancestor. Or pore through digital images of historic documents that before this time were inconvenient or impossible for many to access because the original documents were located in an archive somewhere in the South.
“There is much more to come,” said Rencher. “FamilySearch has a large collection of records [on film] from the Southern states that still need to be digitized, indexed, and made available for the public online—and we are acquiring new records all the time. It’s a great time to be a family history enthusiast,” concluded Rencher.

FamilySearch is currently working on federal and state censuses and birth, marriage, death, and war records. New indexing projects and searchable collections are added weekly.

Paul Nauta
FamilySearch Public Affairs Manager

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a non-profit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries, including the renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

4. Next Months Featured Article: Forgotten Entrepreneurs By: Dhyan Atkinson

If they were living today, many of our female ancestors would be considered successful entrepreneurs and small business owners with a home-based business. A few generations back it was more commonly thought that women were just “bringing in a little extra money to help the family out.” Many of our female ancestors made significant financial contributions to their families, although often this contributed... Read the full story next month!

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