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Entries in research tips (29)


Only 2 more days!

Are you ready for the 1940 census?! The details of the 16th United States Census will be revealed for the first time Monday April 2, 2012! Thats just 2 days away!

This great video is from the National Archives. To learn a little more about the 1940 census, read my previous post!


Get Ready for the 1940 Census Release! 

Picture from the US Census BureauI am so excited, in just 5 days the 1940 census will be released to the public!! For genealogists and others interested in researching their family tree this is a huge deal. Mark your calendars! On April 2, 2012, after the mandated 72 year wait, detail collected by the 16th United States Census will be available to the public.

Over the past 72 years America has really changed. The US Census Bureau has created an infographic displaying some very interesting comparisons of America 1940 vs. 2010. From population size, education, top industries, to details about housing- it was a different world! For example, in 1940 78.9% of rural/farm households had an outdoor toilet, only 17.7% had running water, and only 31.3% had electricity! Click here to take a look, I found it very interesting! This time period was a turning point in American history, just getting through the Great Depression and right before WWII.

You might be wondering what information can be found in the 1940 census. The standard census information was taken: address, name, gender, age, education, place of birth, and occupation. A new feature to this census was an indication (circled X after the name) of who in the family was giving the census information. Another interesting new feature is the additional questions for individuals on lines 14 and 29. If your ancestor just happened to be the person occupying one of these 2 lines of the census page, they were required to give more detailed information. Such as: birthplace of father and mother, language spoken at home early in childhood, if a woman- has she been married more than once? If so, age at first marriage. You will find this information at the bottom of the census page. I'm really hoping I find an person on one of these lines! There are 40 lines (or people) to a page, and as it turns out about 5% of the population were required to answer these additional questions. To download a blank 1940 Census Form and see the questions and format for yourself, click here.

How can you get your hands on the 1940 census? A few ways, for free! will be offering the 1940 census for FREE through the end of 2013. You will be able to search through the 1940 census AND view the original images. On you can always search for free, but unless you are a subscriber, you normally can't see the original document (where most of the details are located). is another site you will be able to search for free. Both of these sites indicate that they are working to release the databases with a name index, meaning you can search through the records with a persons name to locate them.

The National Archives will also have the census available on April 2, 2012 at 9am, but here they will not have a name index. Instead, you will search by enumeration district. To know the enumeration district, you will have to know the individuals address. To learn how to search this way and how to compile this information before April 2nd, please visit the National Archives "Start Your 1940 Research" page. You might wonder why you would go through all the trouble of using this method for searching when will have a name index. Sometimes names are misspelled, either by the census taker or the person transcribing a document. So if you have trouble locating a person by name, go ahead and try using their address to find them!

After writing this and learning all this great information, I'm even more excited! I'm going to start getting myself ready for the release by making a list of everyone I"ll be looking for on April 2. If you have any questions, tips, or resources you'd like to share, PLEASE contact me or leave a comment!


2011 Holiday Gift Guide For The Family Historian 

Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner

This handy mobile scanner will give your family historian the ability to scan pictures and documents where ever they go! With Flip-Pal you can even scan pictures that are hanging on the wall. So many times I have been visiting with family and we look at old pictures or interesting documents and I struggle to take pictures with my cell phone or camera. Often times I can't get the settings right to get a nice clear image. I don't have one of these yet... :) But I've heard great things. Price $149.99


Family Tree Maker

Family Tree Maker software allows you to export your family tree directly to your desktop. Set up is really easy and they have versions for PC and MAC. Once your family tree is loaded to the software, you can access your tree even when you don't have an internet connection! There are tons of great reports, charts, and diagrams you can customize and print to give your research a professional touch. Price For PC: FTM 2012 $29.99 FTM "complete" $59.99 For Mac: FTM for Mac 2 $55.99 Gift Memberships

The perfect gift for anyone who loves using to research family history. With a paid subscription you have access to billions of historical records! You can choose a duration and start date for the membership. The recipient will receive an email alerting them of their membership on the membership start date you select. You will have the chance to print out the gift certificate to give to the person if you'd like. **This type of gift is only for people who DO NOT already have an active membership. See the gift membership FAQ for more information.** Price for 12 month U.S Membership: $159 Price for U.S 6 month Membership: $89


The Family Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman Rising

I found this book at the library and found it to be a very helpful resource! From "Has your family history research hit a brick wall? Inside you will find: Ideas on how to find vital records before civil registration, Tips for finding "missing" ancestors on censuses, Instructions for investigating collateral kin to further your pedigree, Work-arounds for lost or destroyed records....and much more! This revised edition also includes new information about online research techniques and a look at the role of DNA research. Plus you'll find a glossary of genealogy terms and more than a dozen templates for charts and logs to help you organize and record your research." Price: $15.76 (



Archival Photo Pages, Sleeves, and Binders

Archival materials are always a great gift for your family historian. You definitely want to encourage their motivation to organize and preserve your family pictures and documents. Every time pictures and papers are touched oils from your hands will slowly start to degrade the materials. By giving the gift of binders, plastic sleeves, archival can help guarantee these precious family memories will be preserved for the next generation. You can buy these materials many different places, I'm linking to one well known site- Light Impressions.

Nov092011 DNA Testing- What Can DNA Tell Me About My Ancestors? 

Last week I received an email from with a great freebie offer- a free DNA test kit! I didn't have a particularly strong interest in DNA testing and to be completely honest, I wasn't quite sure what I could learn or why I would want to explore this method of research. But genealogy isn't cheap and a freebie is hard to pass by! I just got the kit in the mail yesterday so I figured it's time to see what this is all about.

On the DNA Testing website I see there are 3 different DNA tests you can choose from, Paternal Lineage, Maternal Lineage, and a combined test for both Paternal and Maternal DNA testing. Pricing ranges from $149-$358.  From reading the FAQ section I learned that a female can only test the maternal lineage, whereas a male can take both the maternal and paternal. If I submit the DNA sample for the maternal test I will find out the ancient ancestry of my mothers side, but it won't help me find living family matches. From the site: "The Maternal Lineage test differs from the Paternal test in that it cannot validate a family relationship -- so even if your maternal DNA is an identical match with another participant it can only prove that you may have been related thousands of years ago." With the paternal test you can find matching genetic cousins, levels of relatedness with other DNA groups, and learn the ancient ancestry of my paternal line from up to 100,000 years.

When I activated my test online I indicated that I will be providing the DNA. In hindsight it might have been better if I asked my dad to provide the test sample for the paternal test. I might try contacting them to see if I can change this, it seems like the paternal test would provide me with better information for growing my family tree. My maiden name is Wright and it's been difficult sifting through this popular surname for relations!

The kit looks very simple, cheek swabs for collecting the DNA sample and instructions for collecting and getting your sample processed. 

Find out more about Genetic Genealogy: webinar: Genetic Genealogy Made Easy

A book I found, DNA and Social Networking: A Guide to Genealogy in the Twenty-First Century by Debbie Kennett looks like a good resource for learning more about DNA and it's relevance in genealogy research.

Stay tuned for an update after my (or my dads) sample is processed. I'll be exploring the DNA groups and services from and other DNA projects out there. Have you done any DNA testing for your genealogy research? What did you find out? I'd love to hear about your experiences!

* I am not being paid by for this review or for sharing my experience. I received the free test kit because I am a subscriber of I am sharing my experience and thoughts on my blog to help others learn about genealogy research and DNA testing.