Artifacts on eBay – A Must Read

I recently read a fascinating story in The Weekly Genealogist, the online edition published by about stolen artifacts being sold on eBay. The blog, Rare Colonial Documents Found on eBay, originally published by the Smithsonian, is a must read if you search for documents on eBay as I do.

Although I knew that each state has laws regarding record retention, it never occurred to me to search them when I discovered something that just wasn’t quite right. I assumed (ahem, wrongly!) that the document must not be an original or had been disposed by the government and some nice person saved it from a dumpster.

I discovered my several times great grandfather’s indenture records on eBay a few years ago. There were other individuals listed on what appeared to be a court ledger page. The price was steep and I didn’t buy it. I did cite where and when I found it and using the snipping tool, saved a picture of it. The seller was overseas and it never dawned on me to report him/her. Now I know better.

12+ More Genealogical Gems to Use


Originally published on on 20 Dec 2015.

Last post was my 12 most favorite free genealogy sites and today is my 12 favorite paid sites. I have placed these in alphabetical order and not by preference:

1. – since they own just about everything in the genealogical world it’s very hard not to  subscribe to them.  I do have issues with their new website, phantom hints, relationship help that comes and goes, removal of records and not adding new databases but for now, I still use them.  Just learned there is an AARP discount and I will be going after that when I renew in 2 months.  Complete access is $389.00 per year.  OUCH!  

2, Association of Professional Genealogists – “an international organization dedicated to supporting those engaged in the business of genealogy through advocacy, collaboration, education, and the promotion of high ethical standards.”  Subscribers are $45.00 annually, Professional Members $100.00.  Well worth it for the webinars, journal and eNewsletter! Additionally, members get discounts to many paid sites.

3, Board for Certification of Genealogists – Even if you have no desire to become a Certified Genealogist this site is valuable!  Check out the Skillbuilding, Work Samples and Genealogy Standards which are free.  If you decide to become certified, the cost is $75.00 initially, followed by $300.00 when your portfolio is submitted (1 year deadline).  

4. – Similar to Ancestry with different records.  Cost varies depending on plan purchased.  I got a year free due to being a member the National Genealogical Society but it would have cost me $99.95.  Since I’ve had trouble uploading my tree I won’t be purchasing this anytime soon but it was nice for a year.  

5. – an owned site, currently I’m not a member but I join periodically.  For military history it’s a must have.  If you’re an ancestry member it’s currently $39.95 a year – half the regular price.  So maybe, I’ll upgrade….

6. JStor – is a digital library with books and journals (about 1700) that are intellectual in nature.  Many libraries and educational institutions are members so check out if you get an alumni password.  If not, some access is free (but not much) and you can purchase an article if you have to, cost varies.   

7. New England Historicand Genealogical Society – the database, is free, however, if you are planning to visit the library in Boston, it is not free.  This is a nonprofit organization that also offers research assistance (for an additional fee but discounted), an awesome magazine, journal, weekly email update and seminars.  Well worth it for $89.95 a year.

8. National Genealogical Society – the journal, the magazine, the conference, the discounts, the store – wow, that’s a lot of genealogy goodness.  Annual membership is $65.00.

9, Radaris – the place to find the living! “Radaris is a universal people directory and an information indexing system about people.”  Trying to find long lost cousin Joe – this site will help.  If you just want a report it will cost .95.  Premium memberships can cost up to $49.95 per MONTH.  I only purchase a report if I’m desperate as I usually can find people through other methods – Facebook, Linkedin, etc.

10, Spokeo – a more inexpensive way to find the missing – A 6 month membership is $4.95 per month.  They do offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee that I’ve never tried so I can’t attest to what that offer is.  I don’t currently belong to this, either, but I’ve gleaned info from this site to help me locate free information in the past.  

11 Your Local Genealogy Society – because you need to hang out with people who get excited about your finds.  Mine offers trainings and research help for novices.  Cost is $17.00 a year.

12. Your State Genealogy Society – or whichever state your ancestors’ resided.  My state offers a wonderful journal, newsletter, links to sites around my state, posting for help and webinars.  For $25.00 a year it’s the best deal around!

Bonus – The sites mentioned above are not the only for pay genealogy sites around but the ones I use the most.  Every couple of years I join but until they add some new newspapers, I’ve maxed them out.  I would highly recommend them, though, if you haven’t ever been a member.

Yikes!  I totaled the amount and I’ve spent $776.85 this year.  Guess when I retire Ancestry will be accessed only from the library.  

Visiting the New England Historic and Genealogical Society

Originally published on on 18 Nov 2015.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of researching at the New England Historic and Genealogical Society in Boston, Massachusetts.

New England Historic & Genealogical Society, Boston, MA Nov 2015
New England Historic & Genealogical Society, Boston, MA Nov 2015

If you’re planning a first visit, here’s some tips I found useful:

  •  The library is SMALL but filled with tremendous resources that you might not find anywhere else.  Don’t let the size fool you!  Obviously, the holdings are fantastic if you have New England relatives but there is also a sizable collection of Long Island and New Netherlands.  My most awesome find was from Indiana, though, so don’t discount other areas!
  • COST is free if you’re a member (about $90.00 a year) and $20.00 if you aren’t. Click for Info on Joining! I highly recommend being a member for the following reasons :  First, if you’re planning on spending a few days, it’s cost effective.  Second, as a member you get a lot of perks you wouldn’t get with a day entrance fee – those wonderful journal articles that the society puts out, discounted fee on accessing a genealogist, training opportunities and so on.  Third, you’re helping the society keep the materials available to everyone.
  • BE PREPARED (Yay, Boy and Girl Scouts!) Seriously, know what you’re trying to find before you get there so you don’t waste valuable research time.  You can do a search of the card catalog online at .  If you haven’t registered, which you can do even if you don’t join the society, it’s easy and if you save the search items, you can email them to yourself so you have it on your phone and tablet when you arrive.  It saves results with the FLOOR listed so you know exactly where you need to look.  Emailing saves a tree, time and having to juggle more stuff in the stacks!  (HINT:  Many of their holdings are digitized so you can peruse the text online and focus on books in the library that you can’t view from home.)
  • To get familiar with the library you can watch their video, which I did, but if you’re short of time you’re fine if you don’t watch it. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page for the video. (HINT:  Start on the 7th floor which is reference because those are the books you can’t easily find elsewhere.)
  • Getting there is simple – I took a cab from Logan Airport because I had my heavy bag that I couldn’t check into the hotel since I arrived too early.  It was $23.00 without tip.  Another option is to take the subway, called the T, which is super easy to navigate, inexpensive and available right from the airport to Copley Square.  It’s a short walk. There are also parking garages close by if you drive which I would recommend against.  I learned to drive in Chicago and I drive in New York City but I never ever drive in Boston.  Those narrow streets and congestion intimidate me!
  • Lockers are available but they are very small and my large purse didn’t fit.  The website says NO SUITCASES so I packed light, stuffing everything in the bag, thinking I could get away with a purse.  I mentioned this to one of the employees and she laughed and said they wouldn’t have minded the suitcase.  Oh, well.  Since the flights were overbooked and there was no space in the overheads it all worked out anyway.  Across from the lockers is a coat rack so I hung my coat (Wicked Boston cold last weekend, it was 89 degrees when I left Florida) and put my bag on the floor in the corner.  No one messed with it.
  • Check the website for hours and days opened, especially with the holidays approaching.  I arrived shortly after 10 AM.  There were few patrons researching and no one in the stacks so I was able to accomplish a lot in a little time.
  • When you arrive there is a welcome counter to your left where I was given a map.  They will check your membership before permitting you entry.  Once you’re checked, you will be directed to the elevator.
  • I was greeted by a wonderful genealogist on the 7th floor – she welcomed me, was willing to help me get started and was open to answering any questions I might have. She had a client so another genealogist took over for her.  He was very professional, too, and gave me the wireless access.  I always bring just my Kindle as I find it’s a light, space saving alternative to a laptop.  With access to my online tree I can fact check right in the stacks.  The internet was spotty, though.
  • The stacks are narrow and dark.  There is a small counter in the midst so you can put your finds on the counter and snap a picture of the page.  You can also use their copy machine or save to a thumb drive but my smart phone’s camera is good with low light so I could happily click away.  I like that approach because I tend to look at many volumes and it wastes time to carry them to a copier, wait for the copier to warm up, and you know the rest.  Read an interesting article in Family History Daily that recommends the use of other devices.  View here for other ideas but I’m good with my phone.
  • BRING PENCILS – they don’t allow pens.  I did print a concise list of the books I wanted to see and wrote my notes, mostly negative findings, on the margin to transfer to my tree notes later.  Here’s an example:  “No Adams, Cole or Dennis.”  To me, that means those are the surnames I checked out but there were no references in the index to them.  That way, I know later if there was another surname I overlooked and I’ll not have to recheck the source in another library for what I’ve already checked.
  •  BRING A MAGNIFYING GLASS or have an ap on your phone.  I miss my young eyes, I really do!
  • BRING POST IT NOTES.  You can quickly flag pages to take pictures of findings without having to flip back and forth to the index and they’re reusable.
  • Once I finished with the 7th floor I moved to the 5th.  No warm and fuzzy welcome there – two young ladies didn’t even look up from the desk when I entered.  What’s cool about these stacks is there is a light switch from the aisle you can turn on to get more overhead light.  Very useful!
  • After you’ve checked out your pre-identified books you may have additional time to look over the stacks.  That’s how I discovered my most intriguing current genealogical mystery.  Hmmm – why would my husband’s grandmother be enrolled in school at age 7 by someone named Frank?  Have NO ONE named Frank in that line.  It could be Frank’s name is an error or the record is for someone else in the area with the same name as hubby’s grandma (not likely, though, since I’ve been over the census numerous times without finding another with her name and she has an unusual first and middle name!).  Immediately texted hubby and asked “Who’s Frank?”  He didn’t know so now I’m on a hunt to discover more.  The book was a transcript of school enrollment for the late 1800’s in Indiana.  Must find the original record to make sure Frank is correct!
  • Food and directions – ask at the front desk on the first floor.  The first person there was a volunteer not from the area but she was so sweet she phoned someone to help me.  I ate at a pizza place inside the YWCA but there’s many places to get a quick bite.  I only stopped there because I was freezing and it was half way to my hotel so I could eat and warm up for a bit.

S    I’ll definitely come back after my portfolio has been submitted and spend time trying to uncover more of our New England ancestors.  So much to look at and so little time!

My finding at NEHGS also confirms what professionals emphasize – you have to look high and low to find proof.  I can’t explain why I found my husband’s several times great grandfather from New York’s place of burial in Salt Lake City and his Indiana grandmother’s school enrollment in Boston.  What’s strange is I looked for the burial records in numerous places in New York and never found them.  I never looked for school enrollment records in Indiana so I can’t say that they don’t exist there, I just find it odd to find it in Boston.  My point is check as much as you can about everyone everywhere you go.  I also find it interesting on Who Do You Think You Are celebrities fly from place to place to trace their families. Lucky for them, their family records are ALWAYS where they lived.  Clearly mine are not!