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"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Entries in genealogy intro (33)


Data Visualization and Genealogy

The Value of Data Visualization from Column Five on Vimeo.

I just love this video! I find it so inspiring and creative. I'm always looking for ways to simplify and share genealogical and historic information. A Family Tree is a great example of an infographic. You are taking a information that is hard to conceptualize and "drawing" it out in a way to identify the different components. Men from women, generations from older generations, places of birth/death...and so on. When you visualize your family tree, you might be surprised to see connections or patterns you might not have realized without displaying information in a visual way. Another avenue of data visualization I find incredibly relevant to genealogy are maps!

See how I've visualized genealogical and family history data.

I use wrapping paper to draw out family trees.

Tips and strategy for drawing family trees.

How to use Google maps to create a custom genealogical map.


* How to Get Military Personnel Records from the National Archives

Do you have a parent or grandparent who served in the US Military? Want to know more about their service? The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) has millions of records from WWI- present day.

If you are the veteran or the next of kin of a deceased veteran you can use the National Archives eVetRecs online system to start your records request online. You can also download form SF-180 to fill out by hand and send your request via snail mail. Even if you complete the online request, you still have to print out a form to sign and send via fax or mail to the records center in St. Louis.

I've had a great experience so far! When my family found my grandfather's WW2 medals, I immediately wanted to know more. We were limited with information, he is deceased and we didn't have any records or documentation. I completed an online records request and mailed in the signed form about 3 weeks ago. I was so excited yesterday when I checked the mail and found a nice thick envelope from the National Personnel Records Center!

I received many documents, including typed letters of recommendation submitted by a NJ Congressman and Senator to the Army in 1946 on behalf of my grandfather, his division information from WWII, and documentation for his medals. More to come on what I've learned from these documents!

This is a FREE service! Check out the National Archives Website for more information.


* How do you spell that? Understanding Lithuanian Surnames Ufuk Zivana © 2006Are you searching for a Lithuanian ancestor? A goal of mine is to learn more about my mom's Lithuanian roots. I've been researching my maternal great grandparents who emigrated from Lithuania to the US in the early 1900's. Without any knowledge of the Lithuanian language, I have been limited to the variations of their names as found in US records. The spellings are all over the place and I didn't know where to turn for information.

I posted a query on a Lithuanian genealogy forum shared by the Lithuanian Global Genealogical Society and Lithuanian Global Resources "Little Lithuania" to see if anyone could help me in my pursuit. Not only did I get helpful information to understand how Lithuania surnames are constructed, contributors were able to locate my ancestors! Within 24 hours I was lead to a ton of matching records- I still feel like I'm dreaming!

John Peters first responded to my post with a thorough introduction to understanding the in's and out's of how Lithuanian surnames are constructed and pronounced. In Lithuania, the suffix of the surname is modified to fit the gender role (male, single female, married female).

I found his breakdown very helpful and, with his permission, I want to share it with you!

To better understand the examples: My great grandfather's first name was either Laurentius, Lauros, or Roland; the English version of his last name was Alishusky. My great grandmother's first name was either Helen or Alexandra and her last name was something along the lines of Akamavicuis or Acamaviche.

"The surname is spelled today either as Alasauskas (pronounced ah-lah-SOWS-kahs) because the "s" has no marks over it.  The "sh" sound is represented by the letter "s^" ("s" with a little birdie over it, typed "s^" on non-Lithuanian keyboards).  There are several listings in the online phone book for Alasauskas but none for Alas^auskas.  It is possible that over the years, the "s^" has been simplified among Lithuanians to "s" without the mark.  Or it is spelled Olis^auskas and pronounced aw-lih-SHAUS-kahs.  So this may be the spelling of the surname you are looking for.

The letter "c" with no marks over it is pronounced "ts" as in the English word "bits", but never pronounced like the English "c" in "cave."  That "k" sound is represented in Lithuanian by the letter "k".  So the other surname is Akamavic^ius.  The ending "-uis" is an incorrect version of the common Lithuanian ending "-ius".  The letter "c^" is pronounced "ch" as in the English word "church."

As you may or may not know, the endings to these surnames are changed for women, depending on their marital status.  The ending "-iene" is used for a woman married to a man named Akamavic^ius (Mrs. Akamavic^iene).  Their unmarried daughter would be Miss Akamavic^iute.  Likewise, the wife of Mr. Alasauskas would be Mrs. Alasauskiene and their unmarried daughter would be Miss Alasauskaite.  Likewise, the wife of Mr. Olis^auskas would be Mrs. Olis^auskiene and their unmarried daughter would be Miss Olis^auskaite.

The given name for Catherine in Lithuanian is Katarina, Katryna, or Katre, sometimes Kotryna or Kotre. Lawrence or Laurence in Lithuanian is Laurencijus, Laurentas, Laurentinas or Laurynas. It is possible that at one time the short form might have been Lauras. Again, no "-uis" ending, but "-ius" or in this case "-ijus", pronounced virtually the same way.

Lithuanian doesn't use the letter "x" but "ks", so the male name Alexander is Aleksandras and the female version (Alexandra) is Aleksandra.

Helen is Elena, pronounced AH-leh-nah. Peter is Petras; Anthony is Antanas; Martha is Morta; and Cecilia is Cecile or Cecilija (pronounced tseh-TSIH-leeah)."

The different spellings I've found associated with my great grandparents surnames:



It might seem impossible to find ancestors with foreign or commonly misspelled names, but it can be done! You can learn SO MUCH by connecting with other researchers and genealogy communities. When I asked John Peters permission to share his response on my blog, he informed me of his "mission" to help others with genealogy research. He was inspired by the support and guidance he found in fellow researchers through his own personal search. I couldn't agree more! This blog is my way of sharing my "mission" to inspire and help YOU with your genealogy pursuits.


* Touring the streets of my Philadelphia Roots : Stamper Street & South Front Street

Lately, a big chunk of my genealogy research time has been dedicated to tracking down past residences of my ancestors. I've been mapping and researching census and vital records to learn more. Did they own their house? Did they live in a luxury apartment on the Upper East Side? Were they farmers working on their own farm? Is the house still there?? So much to be learned. I took to the streets of Philadelphia to find my Grimm and Nolen Roots...

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