Thursday, June 29, 2006

Book Review: The Source - A Guidebook to American Genealogy

You may not be aware that before Ancestry was a provider of online genealogy databases and family trees, they published genealogy books. In 2006 they updated one of their major reference works (and later put it online as a wiki -- see below). The Source - A Guidebook to American Genealogy (edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking) is now available in a third edition. It has been expanded and revised to include both online and offline resources. The Source is essentially a guidebook through the vast maze of records created about people over time and place. We like to call these genealogy records.

The early chapters cover the basics of genealogy research, using offline records, and the Internet. Then there are separate chapters on the following types of genealogy records: businesses and other organizations, census records, church records, court records, city and other directories, immigration records, land records, military records, newspapers, and vital records. Special guides include: African American research, colonial English, colonial Spanish (for Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas), Hispanic, Jewish American, Native American, and urban research (for finding lost people in large cities).

Descriptions of Two Chapters
Rather than try and cover this entire book - it's over 900 pages long - here's a brief look at two of the book's chapters...

Immigration Records... The chapter on immigration records has useful information about ship passenger lists, border crossings (from Canada), naturalization records, alien registrations and passports. This section was put together by some of the best experts in the field of immigration records, including Kory Meyerink and INS historian Marian Smith. Genealogy speaker and author Megan Smolenyak contributed a helpful four-and-a-half page guide to using the Ellis Island Database. And they even recommend a visit to my own online Guide to Passenger Lists on the Internet.

A section called "American Sources for Documenting Immigrants" suggests helpful places to look for records that document immigrants, some of which might name that all important place (village, town, city) where your immigrant ancestor came from. Knowing this can help you pursue further research in foreign records. A later section covers foreign sources that also might help determine immigrant origins.

Census Records... The chapter on census records discusses the importance of the census to genealogy research, and has tips for searching in census records online and off. Questions asked in each census are given for each census year, along with specific research tips. Two small sections offer "Suggestions for Microfilm Searches" and "Suggestions for Online Searches." There are also two helpful tables for dealing with census indexes - "frequently misread letters" and "phonetic substitutes." Microfilm and soundex are discussed for offline searching.

There is also a section on non-population schedules and special censuses, including mortality schedules, veterans schedules, state and local censuses, African American and Native American censuses, and others. A helpful table at the end of the chapter, "Potential Census Substitutes," offers suggestions for other types of records to look for.

This book is like having several specialized guides combined into one large work. You could build a fine genealogy reference library by starting here.

The Source: Book and Online Versions

Order a copy of the book from Amazon: The Source: A Guidebook Of American Genealogy

A digitized version of The Source can be found online at: The Source - A Guidebook to American Genealogy Wiki

Advertising Disclosure: The owner of this blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Veterans Affairs Adds to its Cemeteries Database

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has added 1.9 million burial listings to its cemeteries database. These are for military veterans buried in mostly private cemeteries, who have VA grave markers. The database already included more than 3 million graves in national cemeteries, bringing the total in the database to about 5 million graves.

VA has also added maps to show many of the grave locations for those buried in VA national cemeteries, in state veterans cemeteries, and Arlington National Cemetery. The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to add approximately 1,000 new records to the database every day.

The database is online at... Veterans Affairs Military Burials Locator

For more helpful military databases see... Online Military Indexes, Records and Rosters of Soldiers

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Paul McCartney at 64 - Liverpool and Irish Roots

"When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now..."

Beloved former Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney, is having a birthday today. He was born James Paul McCartney on June 18, 1942 in Liverpool, England.

Liverpool is one of Europe's most prominent ports. In the 19th Century millions of immigrants left from Liverpool to live in North America and other places. I personally have ancestors who left from Liverpool and arrived in Philadelphia in July, 1880. Liverpool is also where many Irish emigrants came after sailing across the Irish sea to England. John Lennon and Paul McCartney are both of Irish Liverpool stock.

In 1967 the Beatles recorded a little song called "When I'm Sixty-Four," which was written by Lennon & McCartney, but it's mostly Paul's composition. He actually based it on a melody he wrote back in Liverpool when he was sixteen. Now the maestro has made it to the magical age of his Sgt. Pepper song. Being age sixty-four must have seemed very far away in the Summer of Love.

"When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be."

Paul's parents were James McCartney and Mary Patricia Mohin. Both are of Irish descent (Paul's maternal grandfather was born in Ireland). Paul's mother died when he was fourteen and Paul found solace in music, fueled by a newly acquired acoustic guitar. Paul wrote the song "Let it Be" in 1968 after having a dream about his mother.

"I read the news today, oh boy..."

Paul McCartney has been in the news quite a bit lately with all sorts of fuss being made over his separation from his second wife. But to me that's his personal family issue and really none of my business. I hope he sorts it all out and fares well. He has brought much inspiration and joy to many people.

"Birthday greetings, bottle of wine..."

"Of course, when [Beatles producer] George Martin was sixty-four I had to send him a bottle of wine." -Paul McCartney

Happy birthday, Sir Paul. May you live to be 164. And even if you don't make it quite that far, 100 years from now they'll still be talking about you and those other three lads from Liverpool. Cheers...

References and more information...
Paul McCartney - Many Years From Now by Barry Miles (book)

Irish Genealogy Guides and Resources

Finding Ship Passenger Lists 1820-1940s - Arrivals at US Ports from Europe

Friday, June 09, 2006

St. Louis Genealogy Records and Sources

This article was updated on 13 September 2020.

"Now you go through Saint Louie... Joplin, Missouri... and Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty..." (from "Route 66" by Bobby Troupe)

Photograph of the S.S. Admiral on the Mississippi River, St. Louis, MissouriSt. Louis is the home of Budweiser, the unbeatable St. Louis Cardinals, the Gateway Arch, and the S.S. Admiral (once upon a time a great way to take a cruise on the Mississippi, later a floating casino, now scrapped). And it's a hub on the fabled Route 66 from Chicago to LA.

Your host, the Genealogy Roots Blogger, was born in St. Louis. Here are some of my favorite online St. Louis genealogy sources that you might find helpful if you've got St. Louis ancestors.

Basic Online Guide
Here you can find links to online indexes and sources for military records, probate records, cemeteries, church records, ordering vital records, and more... St. Louis, Missouri Genealogy Resources

St. Louis Death Records
This webpage has more than thirty links to various online St. Louis death indexes, including St. Louis Post-Dispatch obituaries, Catholic, military and Jewish cemetery databases, and more... Online St. Louis, Missouri Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries

I've already blogged about this database, but here it is again... Missouri State Archives Death Certificate Database, 1910-1969

St. Louis Marriage Records and Marriage Licenses

Missouri Military Records
The Missouri State Archives has a searchable database where you might find some of your Missouri military ancestors: Missouri Soldiers Database: War of 1812 - World War I

For more military records see: Online Military Indexes and Records

St. Louis Naturalization Records
There are some great online indexes for St. Louis naturalizations, done in the federal court or local courts. For information on these see... Finding St. Louis Naturalization Records

To New Orleans and up the Mississippi - Finding Immigration Records
Some immigrants to Missouri (and other nearby states) arrived at the port of New Orleans and traveled by riverboat up the Mississippi River to St. Louis. This was more common prior to the Civil War. After the Civil War many train lines were built, making it easier to travel from the East Coast to inland cities. The New Orleans Passenger Lists Quick Guide is a helpful starting place for locating New Orleans passenger records. For help with other ports see: Finding Passenger Lists 1820-1940s

St. Louis Genealogical Society
St. Louis Genealogical Society Members get access to a collection of online databases, including a large collection of St. Louis cemetery burials, indexes to some St. Louis church records and more.

Two Libraries
Both the St. Louis City and County libraries have genealogy resources within their walls and on their websites.

Population Shifts from the City to the County
St. Louis City and County separated from each other on August 22, 1876. At this webpage you can see how the population of St. Louis has shifted from the City to the County over time: Population of St. Louis City & County, Missouri, 1820-2010

And... Our Beloved St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals Official Website

If you're just passing through, perhaps on your way from Chicago to L.A. on Route 66, be sure to stop at a Steak 'n Shake and order a Steakburger.

Happy Searching!