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Scott_J on Family Tree Circles

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Genealogy Abundance, Week 37: State Archives

Here’s this week’s challenge:

Week 37: State Archives Which state (or federal or government) archives repository is your favorite? Have you been there in person? What does their website offer to visitors? Share any advice you can to potential visitors who may visit the archives in the future.

Write a journal on FamilyTreeCircles about your favorite state archive.

When you do, please put “State Archives” in the journal title somewhere so I can be sure to see it and feature it in this week’s FamilyTreeCircles blog post about it.

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy created byAmy Coffinis a series of weekly blogging prompts courtesy ofGeneaBloggersfor genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more.

This week’s journals

3 comment(s), latest 3 years, 3 months ago

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 35 Genealogy Friends

Thanks to everybody who participated in week 34, Genealoy Challenges.

Here's week 35:

Week 35: Genealogy Friends. Genealogy friends are wonderful people. Don't you agree? Tell us about a genealogy friend in your life. How did you meet? Do you share any common ancestors or research interests?

Just open up a new journal and write about whatever comes to mind related to this week's questions.

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy created by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts courtesy of GeneaBloggers for genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more.

1 comment(s), latest 3 years, 5 months ago

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 34, Genealogy Challenges

Thanks to everybody who participated in week 33. I hope you found that interesting and fruitful.

Continuing on with the blogging prompts, here's week 34:

Week 34: Genealogy Challenges. Which genealogy challenge has given you the best sense of accomplishment? What was the research problem you had to hurdle? What steps did you take that led to success? Do you have any words of encouragement for others who are facing their own genealogy challenges?

Just open up a new journal and write about whatever comes to mind related to this week's questions.

FamilyTreeCircles member Ngairedith is ahead of the game this week and has already posted one:

Ngairedith's Genealogy Challenge

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy created by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts courtesy of GeneaBloggers for genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more.

52 Weeks of Blogging Abundance: Week 33

This past week, I had a phone conversation with Thomas Macentee, a professional genealogist, speaker, and otherwise a really great guy from Chicago, Ill. Thomas runs the excellent website and service,, which is a network of over 2000 Genealogy blogs. (I'm a member with my own genealogy blog here on FamilyTreeCircles.)

I contacted Thomas to see how we might work together to help foster the growth of more genealogy bloggers.

The first thing we came up with is that Thomas was kind enough to allow me to use the 52 Weeks of Blogging Abundance genealogy blogging prompts. Every week there is a new topic to act as inspiration for a blog post, or to simply think about and reflect on in your own genealogy research.

As FamilyTreeCircles is essentially a blogging platform (which is just a place to write online), I thought it would be fun for people to use these weekly prompts here on FamilyTreeCircles.

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy created by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts courtesy of GeneaBloggers for genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more.

We're more than halfway through 2012, and we'll be starting on week 33. But that's ok. There isn't really a sequence here, just a new idea every week.

Week 33: Ancestor Legend. What is your favorite ancestral legend or family lore? Who originally told the story and what was the claim? Have you been able to prove the story true or false? What steps did you take to do so?

Just open up a new journal and write about whatever comes to mind related to this week's questions.

I'll be posting these blogging prompts here each weekend for the upcoming week. I'll also be including these in the weekly newsletter. If you'd like to get these prompts in your email along with other newsletter info, make sure you're signed up for the FamilyTreeCircles newsletter.

3 comment(s), latest 3 years, 6 months ago

The 1940 U.S. Census Index is Complete announced on Friday that the 1940 U.S. Census is 100% indexed.

You can now search the entire 1940 index for free, all 48 states (Hawaii and Alaska were not states yet) plus territories. A free account is required, but word is that Ancestry will make this index free through 2013.

According to

Our indexing came up with 134,395,545 people counted. Most reports on the 1940 census give the U.S. population as 132 million and change, so you may be wondering where the extra 2 million people came from. Two words: Puerto Rico. OK, and Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Panama Canal Zone. They were all included in the 1940 U.S. census and add another 2.1 million or so records to the final count.

I've found all of my grandparents. How about you?

Search the 1940 index directly here.

5 comment(s), latest 1 year, 11 months ago

Looking for Guest Bloggers and Writers for FamilyTreeCircles

Here at FamilyTreeCircles, we have a large community of genealogy hobbyists and professionals. Our user base is growing toward 100,000 and we have an opt-in mail list that exceeds 10,000 members.

We're looking for bloggers and genealogy experts who are interested in reaching an audience of genealogy new-comers, enthusiasts, and professionals alike.

Writing for FamilyTreeCircles is a great opportunity to help establish yourself as an expert in the genealogy community.

If you are interested in contributing genealogy-related articles to the FamilyTreeCircles blog and email newsletter, please contact me at [email protected] or through the Private Messaging system on

Help Support FamilyTreeCircles

When I started FamilyTreeCircles nearly a decade ago, I never imagined it would grow to nearly 100,000 members. It's humbling to be able to provide a resource that has brought so many people together in the common interest.

FamilyTreeCircles has always been a labor of love for me, but with the growing membership, usage, continuing to add new features, and fighting spammers, costs grow as well.

What you may not know about me is that as an entrepreneur, I actually run another web startup. This takes 60-80 hours of my time every week, and I have little left for much else. If you're interested, that's a web publishing platform called Shareist. I think it is a great resource for genealogists.

I would never have been able to even get this far without the patience and support of the people who use FamilyTreeCircles every day, and particularly those who volunteer to help moderate the activity. It's truly a wonderful community. I'd like to not only keep things running, but do even more.

For example, one thing that I've tried to start up several times, but have not been able to do so because of the costs is a periodic newsletter with great genealogy stories and content, as well as featuring fun stuff from FamilyTreeCircles members. But the cost of doing so has been prohibitive. I'd love to be able to do this as well as continue to add more features.

From the start, I promised that FamilyTreeCircles would be a free resource and I have no intentions of going back on that. Over the years, I have received generous offers from people that they would be more than willing to pay for this resource.

In response to that, I've finally added a way to do that, for those with the means to do so, while keeping the service free for the rest.

If you enjoy FamilyTreeCircles and want to see it continue on as a strong and independent genealogy resource, I hope you'll consider contributing even a small amount to its upkeep and further development. If you cannot, no hard feelings here.

Go here: FamilyTreeCircles Patronage

Thank you very much!


4 comment(s), latest 3 years ago

Pearl Harbor Day, and My Own Great Uncle Lost at Sea in WWII

Today is Pearl Harbor Day here in the U.S., the anniversary of the day Japan executed a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in 1941, killing and wounding thousands, and ushering the U.S. into World War II.

I can imagine that day must have felt a lot like 9/11 to the people of the US, though news surely travelled much more slowly in 1941 than it did 60 years later in 2001. Most Americans surely learned about it in the daily newspaper.

While I had no family members directly affected that day, the course of events led to both my Grandfather and my Great Uncle serving in that great war. I think of my poor grandmother who had both a brother and a husband serving in the war. My grandfather returned home after the war (thankfully, as I would not otherwise exist), but my grandmother's brother did not.

Corporal Arnold Gene McIlwraith was an Engineer gunner on a B-24. He was on flight from Mather Field in Sacramento, CA to John Ridgers Field in Hawaii on Feb 28, 1945 when his plane went missing somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

I discovered this image recently in the Missing Air Craft Reports (MACR), available in the National Archives, and indexed on

What's odd to me is that by my reckoning, the coordinates on the report put their airplane well beyond Hawaii, close to Japan.

Did routine B-24 flights from CA to HI have them going via Japan? I don't even think their plane's final point was in range from California. I guess we'll never know.

5 comment(s), latest 3 years, 11 months ago

Explaining Genealogy to my Five Year Old

This evening, I sat down to dinner with my family and said to my five year old son, Alex, "Do you know who the Pilgrims are?"

"Yeah, they had a very tough boat ride," he said. "And then they were friends with the native Americans."

"That's about right," I said with a big smile. It was all my wife and I could do to contain ourselves.

Then I said, "So, do you know what a 'great-grandfather' is?"

He looked at me sort of puzzled.

You see where I was going with this? My goal was to explain to him that his 11th-Great grandfather, actually two of them, were on that boat ride.

Then I pulled out a piece of paper, and drew a short family tree starting with him. His little brother, who was listening intently said, "Hey, where am I?" So I added him in, and their big sister Sarah as I knew that was next, though she wasn't there for the discussion.

I pointed at the first stick figure and said, "OK, this is you...and this is me and your mother."

Then I pointed to my parents and said, "Who are they?"


Then I pointed to his mother's parents...


Wow, he's getting it.

Then I drew two more lines and stick figures for my grandfather and grandmother.

"Who are they?" he asked.

"That's my grandfather and grandmother."

"What are their names?" he said, more interested than I expected.

"Robert and Helen," I replied, "That's where you got your middle name. They are my grandparents and they are your great grandparents."

Then what he said next floored me.

"Does it keep going Dad? Who's above them?"

OK, here we go. This was easier than I thought. I drew the next two above my grandfather.

"And what were their names?" he asked excitedly.

He was truly interested in these people and their names and then he started asking if they were still alive. I explained that they were born a very long time ago.

"Vickery Baker was born in 1797. That would make him over 200 years old today."

His eyes lit up, "wow."

I kept going and drew the tree, only including the line up to Stephen Hopkins, and explained who he was.

"Was he the boss of the ship dad?" (heh, 5 year olds have their priorities.) "Well, no."
"How old would he be?"
"About 420."

Alex then wrote, "40020" at the top of the chart, which is his version of Four Hundred and Twenty.

"Does it go all the way back to the cavemen, Dad?"
"Well, I suppose it does, Alex..."

Which sort of blows my mind to contemplate that.

Here's the entire chart. It starts at the bottom right.

As I was going through this exercise, I realized that I had never actually drawn that tree by hand. What a shame that I had never done that, and that I couldn't do it from memory. And while I did know that I'm 13th generation Mayflower ancestor, I couldn't have told you without looking it up that the male line includes one Hopkins, Five Snows, and Five Bakers before it changed to my surname with my father.

I'm not sure who learned more, my son or me.

I look forward to more genealogy sessions with Alex.

7 comment(s), latest 3 years, 10 months ago

Announcing: New User Profiles on FamilyTreeCircles has been around for over 7 years now, and has been in a constant state of development.

I'll be the first to admit that most poorly crafted area of FamilyTreeCircles has been the user profile pages. And as I've been making improvements to the platform, I'd also say that it's been the most neglected.

This week I've taken steps to resolve that with an entirely newly designed user profile.

Your Own Home Page

Your user profile on FamilyTreeCircles is now your genealogy homepage. Your own journals and posts are featured prominently in chronological order, newest first. Until now, your own journals were relegated to a list, and reading them was an exercise in clicking around a lot.

Now your homepage is a very easy-to-read list of all your journals. As you post journals, your latest ones appear at the top.

This makes it very easy for other FamilyTreeCircles members, and even people searching the Internet for the information that you write about, to find and read your journals.

That means more people see your journals, which means that your information and your own queries are seen by more people, resulting in a higher chance that you'll connect with distant cousins and researchers looking for the same ancestors.

Here's what the new profile page looks like:

Hey, This Sounds and Looks Like a Blog

Essentially, your FamilyTreeCircles profile page is a blog. Blog comes from the words Web Log. A blog is quite simply a web page containing a log of your writing. Web log...weblog...'blog.

The writing activity that you do posting Journals on FamilyTreeCircles is no different than that of "bloggers" that we hear so much about.

Now in addition to how your journals were seen before in the activity lists, your information is organized like a blog and you get all the benefits of blogging:

  • Research: By getting your and your genealogy research out there, people who are researching the same ancestors will find you. You may even break down some brick walls just by posting them for others to find and help you out.
  • Sharing: Posting your genealogy information helps others, and many times it comes back
  • Connecting: There are countless connections that people make with distant and lost relatives through publishing a blog.
  • Community: The genealogy blogging community is a friendly, helpful group of genealogists, professionals and hobbyists alike. By starting a blog of your own
  • Fun: Writing can be a fun, creative way to express yourself. Some people even think it's therapeutic.

The good news is that just by signing up for FamilyTreeCircles, you now have a blog.

How cool does that make you?

View your new profile here. Or click on the "Your Home" link in the header.


Here are a few great FamilyTreeCircles profiles to take a look at for inspiration:

38 comment(s), latest 6 months, 3 weeks ago