Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The History of Housekeeping


Family Saying Grace, by Anthonius Claeissins

Old & Interesting is a not very old website, but it is rather interesting.

It bills itself as a site about the "history of domestic paraphernalia". It is all about how people have kept house through the ages, using everyday items that we now think of as antiques, if we think of them at all.

If you want to build a mental picture of how your ancestors cooked, cleaned themselves, cleaned their clothes, cleaned their homes, made the beds, kept warm, and stored food then this is the site for you.

There's a whole page on the History of Ironing Boards!

And if you're interested in historical oddities, like cooking without fire or 14th century baby walkers, then you'll also find Old & Interesting an informative and entertaining site.

Even if it's just to explore some of the wonderful images and uncluttered prose, this site is well-worth a good explore.



Don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and  NewspaperArchive. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Historical State Census Records

Some sort of strange census machine
 (photo courtesy of Marcin Wichary, CC-BY)

I'm guessing that the plural of census is either the awkward-sounding censuses or the pretentious-sounding censii, but I'm too lazy to look it up, so I'll just roll with census records.

There are a ton and a half of state census records available online, mostly name searchable and all free of charge. Some records go back right to the days when the state was first settled, others focus on particular sub-populations like Indians or war widows and, of course, many are general census records for the entire population.

Without further ado:

The Kansas Historical Society Name Index includes the 1895 state census, and a bunch of other good stuff, including a directory, of sorts, of pioneer women.

The Maryland State Archives Census Indexes cover 1776, 1778, 1870 and 1880, with straighforward name lookups.

The Idaho State Historical Society houses the oddly-named Idaho non-population census for 1870 and 1880 which recorded workers in specific industries, along with 1890 Idaho state census. These are PDFs that you can download and search. You'll find a lot of Chinese names here, reflecting the immigrant workers in the mining industry.

Minnesota seems very keen on census-taking, as the Minnesota State Census Index includes records from ten censuses/censii between 1849 and 1905. Your online search provides preliminary information, and you can then order a full copy of the census record for a fee.

The Washington State census collection has a zillion online censuses from 1847-1910, but that's because they're listed by county. Happily, you can search them all at once at the Digital Archives Search.

New Jersey's online archives have some very cool records, including the N.J. 1885 Census and a very unusual tabulation of 100 years of legal name changes...how often do you see that!


The North Dakota State University Archives includes the Dakota Territory 1885 Census where you can look up names and order census copies. Take a look at the other databases available on the left side of the page.

Search the Colorado Census of 1870, which is actually the excerpt from the federal census. There are quite a number of other historical records here as well.


There are doubtless online census records in other states as well, but this is as far as I've gotten in cataloging them. Stay tuned for future updates...



Don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and  NewspaperArchive. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Free Military Records For Veterans' Day

A determined World War II infantryman.

Wouldn't it be nice to get free access to three centuries of American military records with more than 100 million names on file.

Of course it would. And now you can, for a few days, at least. In honor of Veteran's Day, the entire military collection at Ancestry.com is available free of charge between November 11 and November 14. Just head to their site and click on See all Military Records to dive in.

Want to see George Custer's or William Tecumseh Sherman's hand-written application letters to West Point? They're there! Looking to explore family history from the Revolutionary War, Civil War or any of the other conflicts that have involved United States fighting forces?  This is the place to do it and, for a few days, anyway, do it at no charge.

A very happy and proud Veteran's Day to all.


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Don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and  NewspaperArchive. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots..

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Good Freebie from Ancestry.com


You're all familiar with Ancestry.com, no doubt, the biggest, baddest online source of family history information in the universe.

It's a subscription service, and we don't do fee-based sources here at Free Genealogy Tools. But there's a good deal of free content that Ancestry.com has made available.

One of my favs is Ancestry Magazine, a print magazine that ran for 25 years before it ceased publication in 2009. A lot of the content is available online, and there's some awfully good material here, like the list of the Top 300 Genealogy Sources at home, in public records and online.

Here's part of  the Top 300 list:  things you ought not overlook in your family papers:
  • Address books
  • Adoption papers
  • Application copies (for jobs, schools, organizations)
  • Autobiographies
  • Autograph albums
  • Awards
  • Baby books
  • Baptism/christening records
  • Bibles
  • Biographies and biographical sketches
  • Birth certificates
  • Birthday books
  • Cassette tapes, DVDs, and videos of family members
  • Cemetery deeds
  • Christmas letters
  • Citizenship/naturalization papers
  • Contracts
  • Death certificates
  • Deeds
  • Diaries
  • Diplomas
  • Embroidery
  • Employment records
  • Family e-mails
  • Family histories
  • Family newsletters
  • Family tree charts
  • Funeral books and records
  • GEDCOMs/family trees
  • Journals
  • Heirlooms
  • Home computers
  • Hospital records
  • Insurance papers
  • Jewelry with engravings, insignias, or photos
  • Leases
  • Letters (old and recent)
  • Letters of administration
  • Licenses
  • Marriage certificates (civil and religious)
  • Marriage licenses
  • Medals and trophies
  • Membership cards, papers, pins, insignias
  • Memorial cards
  • Military records and certificates
  • Missionary records
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Obituaries
  • Online sources including message boards
  • Passports
  • Pension records
  • Photographs
  • Postcards
  • Resumes
  • School records
  • Scrapbooks
  • Service medals
  • Social Security cards
  • Tax returns
  • Telegrams
  • Titles to homes, cars, etc.
  • Traditions/family stories
  • Wedding invitations
  • Wills
I'm sure there's at least ONE item on there that you hadn't thought about, eh?

The wonderful magazine collection at Google Books also has old issues of Ancestry Magazine going back to 1994.

Worth a look.


Don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and  NewspaperArchive. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots..