Every Friday we’re pleased to offer Legacy Family Tree Webinar subscribers a new bonus webinar just for them! This Friday enjoy “Beyond the Docket Books: Digging for Gold in Probate Packets” by Chris Staats. If you’re not a member, remember the webinar previews are always free.
Beyond the Docket Books: Digging for Gold in Probate Packets
Probate records provide an intimate window through which to view the lives of our ancestors, revealing information about them that make their identities unique.
About the Presenter
Chris Staats is a Cleveland, Ohio-based professional genealogical researcher, presenter, and writer. He has written articles for Family Tree Magazine, Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, and other publications. Chris has given presentations covering methodology, resources, technology, and other topics at genealogical societies and libraries across Ohio. He is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, chapter representative for the Great Lakes APG chapter, and Seminar Chairperson for the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Genealogical Committee.
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Newcomers to genealogy are sometimes confused by the word soundex. Whereas those who have been researching for decades have likely memorized the soundex codes for each of their favorite ancestors’ surnames. With the advent of every-name census indexes, soundex has been somewhat left behind.
A to Zax: A Comprehensive Dictionary for Genealogists & Historians by Barbara Jean Evans, defines soundex as:
A system of indexing surnames that sound alike. Consonants have certain values, vowels are ignored. The first letter of the name and three digits are used, e.g. Evans = E152. This system is used to index the 1880, 1900 and 1910 censuses and some states use the soundex code on drivers’ licenses.
Now doesn’t that sound exciting??? Evans is right – to be able to search the census records, we used to have to translate our ancestors’ surnames into a soundex code. Manuals were written about how to do this.
Here are some coding rules:
1 – B P F V 2 – C S K G J Q X Z 3 – D T 4 – L 5 – M N 6 – R
Do not code A, E, I, O, U, W, Y, and H.
Note that surname prefixes such as van, Von, Di, de, le, D’, dela, or du are sometimesdisregarded in alphabetizing and in coding.
. . . many other little rules
Confused? You don’t need to be. Computers have made this easier – even Legacy Family Tree has a built-in soundex code calculator.
So do we still use Soundex codes?
Not as much as we used to, but still – passenger lists, vital record indexes, and other record groups are still indexed/sorted by soundex code. For example, the Washington state death indexes are arranged this way. To search for my BROWN relatives, I need to know that B-650 is the right code, because all the Browns, and possibly even other surnames are grouped/indexed together.
Calculating this code is easy in Legacy:
Click on the Tools tab.
Click on Soundex Calculator.
Type in the desired surname, and click Calculate Soundex Code.
Locating other surnames with the same soundex code
Perhaps you are researching the Brown surname. Throughout your research, you’ve found and recorded several variants for the surname. Remembering all the variants is hard to do all the time. Legacy’s Search Name List button on the Soundex Calculator will search all the surnames in your family file and give you a list of those surnames that also have the same soundex code as B-650.
Even search engines at the big genealogy sites recognize the value of searching for similarly-sounding names.
At www.myheritage.com/research, click on the Advanced Search link and then click on the Match Similar Names option to pull up this menu of choices:
At https://search.findmypast.com/search-world-records add a checkmark next to Name Variants:
At http://search.ancestry.com click on the “Exact” option below the surname:
At https://www.familysearch.org/search, leave the checkmark box blank:
Clearly, each site has its own tools and vary from a checkmark to using the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex. Experiment with each of the settings in your searching and you may be surprised how your ancestors’ names were spelled.
The recording of today’s webinar “The WPA: Sources for Your Genealogy” by Gena Philibert-Ortega is now available to view at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com for free for a limited time.
The Works Progress Administration left behind a legacy that is used by family historians today. In this presentation we will discuss The WPA, projects under the WPA relevant to genealogy, and how you can research some of those records today.
View the Recording at FamilyTreeWebinars.com
If you could not make it to the live event or just want to watch it again, the 1 hour 32 minute recording of “The WPA: Sources for Your Genealogy” PLUS the after-webinar party is now available to view in our webinar library for free for a limited time. Or watch it at your convenience with an annual or monthly webinar membership.
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Use of the playlist, resume watching, and jump-to features
Annual membership: $49.95/year (currently 50% off until August 20, 2017)
The Protestant Reformation began 500 years ago, in 1517, when Martin Luther posted his now-famous 95 theses on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. With that small act, Luther set off a chain reaction that changed the course of history. For genealogists, that event in 1517 has particular significance. The Protestant Reformation also changed the course of record keeping. Here, we take a look at the movement Martin Luther started 500 years ago and how it affected the world in general—and genealogy research in particular.
The Protestant Reformation grew out of frustrations with the Catholic Church, the all-powerful religious entity of the time. In his 95 theses, Martin Luther, a professor at the local university, detailed his disagreements with the Catholic Church on doctrines such as justification (or how people gain salvation), authority, and the selling of indulgences to absolve sins. The reaction was instantaneous. Within weeks, the 95 theses had spread throughout Germany. Within months, it had reached across much of Europe. Meanwhile, others took up the cause—with Ulrich Zwingli leading the movement in Switzerland and John Calvin leading the movement in France. The Catholic Church reacted with their own Counter Reformation. Part of their response was a series of meetings known as the Council of Trent. Launched in 1545, this council reaffirmed some doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church while adjusting others.
The effects of the Protestant Reformation on society are staggering. Besides the obvious impact on religion, the Protestant Reformation also led to large shifts in the balance of power in Europe. It challenged the authority of the Catholic Church and the Pope while strengthening the power of regional rulers. One hundred years later, one of the most costly wars ever fought in history, the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), waged across Europe. It was caused by the religious schisms that had grown from the Reformation. Some scholars link the formation of public education, the climb in literacy rates, and the development of capitalism in part to the Protestant Reformation. For genealogists, one of the most important results of the Reformation was increased record keeping.
Religion and Record Keeping in the Reformation’s Aftermath
Understanding the religious developments that came from the Reformation helps us understand the religious climate that existed for our ancestors. In the years after Martin Luther’s 95 theses, Protestant churches began popping up across the German-speaking areas of the Holy Roman Empire and beyond. (Germany as a country didn’t exist until much later.) The majority aligned themselves with Martin Luther’s teachings and identified as Lutherans. The new religion spread and soon most of Scandinavia had converted to Lutheranism. The beliefs of John Calvin also gained traction in the Netherlands and some other places.
Some Lutheran parishes in present-day Germany began keeping records in the 1520s, and a few of these records have survived. Other Lutheran parishes began keeping records in the years following. Similarly, the Church of England, which was formed in the 1530s when King Henry VIII broke his tie with the Catholic Church, also began keeping records in this period. Unfortunately, the Thirty Years’ War wreaked devastation throughout Europe, destroying many records that date prior to 1648. The Reformation also brought a change in understanding events recorded in church records, particularly marriage. Martin Luther believed that marriage was not a sacrament, contrary to what the Catholic Church taught. Instead, he placed it firmly in the realm of secular practice. It was partly this belief that led to more careful record keeping as the state began to have more control over and say in marriage.
Around the same time, the Council of Trent revolutionized record keeping in the Catholic Church. In 1564, the council decreed that records of marriage be kept. Later in 1614, the Roman Ritual, published by the Catholic Church, stated that priests were required to keep four registers including those for baptisms and deaths.
The Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War, officially recognized three religions: Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Calvinism. Each prince was given the right to determine the religion of his own state. The result was that many places were largely one religion or another. In what would become Germany, for example, most of the northern states were overwhelmingly Protestant while the southern states remained largely Catholic. The Peace of Westphalia declared that Christians of these three groups were guaranteed the right to practice their faith, even if it was not the chosen state church.
People not belonging to one of these three recognized religions were often persecuted. These nonconformists were sometimes forced to flee from their homes, and they often did not keep standard records partly because these records could provide damaging evidence if found by antagonistic authorities.
Finding and Using Religious Records
Help make more German church records available on FamilySearch by indexing. Find records that are already available by searching the FamilySearch records collectios here.
Most genealogists tracing their families in Europe will find church records to be the backbone of their research. The reason for this is simple: church records often predate other forms of records, such as civil registration, and they often include nearly everyone. Because religion was so closely tied to the state, religion was not generally a choice. Everyone belonged to a church—and usually to the state church. This means that even if your ancestors were poor peasants with no property or influential position, they would still be included in church records. Church records captured the important information needed to trace our families: birth, marriage, and death dates and places.
Church records are easy to find on FamilySearch. Because church records were kept at a local level (by the parish church), you need to look under these local parishes to find them. Visit the FamilySearch Catalog and search by the town where your ancestor went to church. In some places in Europe, most towns had their own church. In other places, people from several small towns came together to attend one church. Learn more by reading FamilySearch’s Wiki for your country. Type in the name of the country, and then look for the sections on Church Records and Church History. The majority of church records in Western Europe and a growing number in Eastern Europe have been filmed or digitized, and those that haven’t been digitized are being digitized at the rate of 1,000 microfilms per day. You can also help to make German Church records searchable by indexing on familysearch.org.
The Protestant Reformation’s effects reached into many areas. It shook up all of Europe and changed religious worship forever as well as challenged the established order and rearranged political powers. This year as we recognize its 500th anniversary, genealogists might also reflect on the role it played in their research.
MyHeritage is proud to announce its first One-Day Genealogy Seminar, to be held on October 29, 2017 from 7am to 3pm EST. It will feature the participation of experts in the fields of DNA, Jewish genealogy, general research techniques, and technology trends for genealogy. The lectures will be broadcast from the MyHeritage headquarters in Israel. The public is invited to join the lectures via Legacy Family Tree Webinars from anywhere in the world for FREE. Later, the recordings will be available to view for free on demand. To register, click here.
Times, topics, and speakers:
7:00AM Eastern – “Filling in the In-Between of the Jewish BMD” by Rose Feldman
8:00AM Eastern – “Jewish Family Research Challenges” by Garri Regev
9:15AM Eastern – “Introduction to the Use of Autosomal DNA Testing” by Tim Janzen
10:15AM Eastern – “Google for Genealogy: Search Tricks to Tease Out Information” by Jessica Taylor
11:15AM Eastern – “Discover Your Family History with MyHeritage’s Unique Technologies” by Daniel Horowitz
12:30PM Eastern – “How to Pass Your Ancestors’ Legacy to Your Grandchildren” by Jessica Taylor
1:30PM Eastern – “Advanced Autosomal DNA Techniques used in Genetic Genealogy” by Tim Janzen
Google Photos, an online photo sharing and storage service, is a good place to store your high-resolution images. Its facial-recognition feature allows you to quickly search your photos for a specific person. And now, you can easily import photos from Google Photos to your FamilySearch family tree.
Click the green plus icon, and then select the Google Photos button.
Enter your Google username and password. You will need to do this only the first time you import photos from Google.
Click Allow to authorize Google to access your information in FamilySearch.org. You will need to do this only once as well.
In the window that appears, select which pictures you would like to import, and click Import Photos.
You can follow the same steps to import photos from Facebook and Instagram to your Memories gallery. If you use the FamilySearch Memories app, you can also use your phone to import your photos from Facebook and Instagram. Soon you’ll be able to use the app to import pictures from Google Photos as well.
The addition of Google Photos to the FamilySearch site makes it easier to preserve and organize your important family photos.