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Pursuing Our Roots

A virtual trunk full of documents

Familysearch has done it again! (If I had a nickel for every time I’ve written that, I’d have $2.85!) I have not been on Familysearch much, due to the fact that the records I need are only accessible from a Family History Center or an affiliate library, both of which are closed as of this writing. So when I got in and saw the menu, I was perplexed. The Search menu starts with Records but then says “Images.” I didn’t know what it meant so I skipped it. My curiosity finally got the better of me, and I clicked on ...

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(Finally) working well with others

I am an only child. My parents were had the foresight to realize that they did not need more than one of me! As an only child, I became very self-sufficient, or at least self-dependent. So my social skills are a mess and I don’t delegate very well … among other flaws. In high school and college, when I had to work on a project in which team participation was required, I was either the person who rode other people’s coattails, or the person who took charge and did all the work. No in-between for me. My report cards, those ...

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Navigating the maze of online documents

A number of people have written to me with the same question, which means it’s a good time to address this for everyone. (Please write questions to me at italianroots@comcast.net at any time.) Readers have looked up films in the catalog on Familysearch.org, and the catalog tells them that the images for those films are online. So they go to look at the images, and Familysearch tells them “Nope you can’t see these!” Well, that stinks! To explain this situation, we need to talk about legal agreements for a moment. Familysearch has to negotiate with each repository of documents for ...

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Getting a grip on your documents

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I’m a stubborn person. Most people who don’t know me well believe I’m stubborn, too! Every so often, I write a column to ask you to do something that I’m not that good at, partly to push myself into getting better as a genealogist. I have been spending a lot of hours going through records I already have, in an attempt to better document my research. Why should we do this? I know where all my copies are. The papers are in piles and in boxes, and the digital images are all named ...

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So where were they married?

Even though I have mountains of genealogy work to do, I am often sidetracked by other projects. These projects start out with a simple question, and then my Problem Solver takes over. If you haven’t met Problem Solver, he’s 9 feet tall, lifts weights and gets his way no matter the cost! So I am looking at marriage licenses for Cook County. The top two-thirds of the page lists the groom, the bride, the date of the license and the signature of the Cook County Clerk. (For a few years, the County Clerk was the future Mayor Richard J. Daley!) ...

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Where’s Waldo buried?

I trust you’re all familiar with children’s book series, “Where’s Waldo,” in which kids are tasked with finding the titular character, who’s hiding in an enormous crowd. I have spent the better part of the past two months playing a genealogical game called “Where’s Waldo Buried?” It’s easy to keep track of the relatives you see frequently or you stay in touch with through social media. However, the relatives in your tree who you’ve never met and haven’t “friended” are another matter. These people may be distant relatives but you do not know them and they do not inform you ...

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What are the odds?

Last Thursday, I stopped at a local microbrewery to try their new chocolate stout. There were eight random seats throughout the place but every one had someone sitting next to them. I picked one at random and sat down. The guy sitting next to me was talking through my head to three men on the other side of me, and they were discussing politics and economics. I had no interest in discussing these subjects with strangers drinking beer with high alcohol content, so I stared at “Wheel of Fortune” with no sound on the TV across the way so I ...

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The mystery of the missing marriages

I have spent a lot of time during the past few months trying to track down Cook County marriage records on Familysearch. I should have spent that time coming up with better ideas for Christmas presents! I was surprised how many couples in my file were born in Chicago and had their children in Chicago, with no marriage records to show for it. It didn’t make sense. Since Familysearch released the 1921-1941 Cook County marriages, I figured I would find everyone in that time period and that would be that. However, I was missing quite a few couples and I ...

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A labor of love

More than 20 years ago, a woman named Cyndi Howells decided that she needed a set of links to her favorite genealogy sites. As with most genealogists who start a simple project, it got out of hand and became much larger and more time-consuming than originally intended. (I can speak with experience on this as well!) She ended up creating her own site called “Cyndi’s List” www.cyndislist.com, which connects to over 300,000 links to genealogy web sites all over the world. What started as a small personal project has become 8-12 hours a day, seven days a week! For free! ...

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Yet another genealogical treasure trove

During all the time I have been updating everyone with more information on familysearch, I seem to have neglected another site with Italian records that everyone who is working with Italian records ought to know about. This site is an ancestry site for Italy, designed to allow us to search and browse Italian civil registration records. It’s not Ancestry.com, it’s an Italian site called Antenati. (Antenati: Gli Archivi per la Ricerca Anagrafica, http://www.antenati.san.beniculturali.it/?lang=en) You can leave the language for the website in Italian if you wish! Antenati contains the same records typically available on familysearch, and on microfilm in the ...

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