Census Records: Your next step after the “shoebox papers”

After you have recorded the oral history and personal documents, I recommend your next step in researching your family history should be finding and recording the information on census records. These records are a snapshot of your family at the time the census was taken and contain a wealth of information that can be used to describe the lives of your family.

When I initially started my research, I used the names to extend my family tree back through the generations. However, the records are much more than a list of names and a head count of the population. I use the information found in the columns that are beyond the names to bring my ancestors alive. Here are examples of using this information:

    • For each address I obtain a picture of the residence and insert the picture into the family history near the narrative listing where my ancestors lived. I feel this gives more insight to the neighborhood where they lived and brings more life to family histories. Early pictures were obtained by traveling to the location and using a camera. My current methods include using Google Maps Street View o find the image of the homes. Printing or downloading this image is not an available option but using the snipping tool program on Windows computers allows me to capture the image and save it for use in my family histories.
  • If the family moved across the continent as the land was settled, I include a map showing the year and the location with connecting lines to show the westward movement.
  • Explore the local and American history for the time period around the census record for events that may have affected your ancestor. This research may uncover reasons for relocations, change of occupation, causes for early deaths or other events in their lives.

Another New Book – a short eBook


 cover - final I tried to rest after publishing Write Your Family History but found inspiration for my second eBook. Once I got the idea, the urge to get it written and published could not be stopped.  It was published two weeks later and I think it will prove to be a great research tool. 

Title and Description:Deciphering the 1790-1840 U.S. Census Records: Two case studies

This book is based on a portion of my program on the census records and the eBook allows me to discuss more details of the two case studies I use to analysis methods to decipher the early U.S. census records


Available on Amazon.com



My new book – Write Your Family History is now available

My new book Write Your Family History: Easy Steps to Organize, Save and Share is now available on Amazon.

Genealogy research should go beyond finding documents and filling in charts. This book outlines a simple process that will aid genealogy research and will also create pages of information that can be easily read and understood by all family members. Your research will become faster and more accurate and your family can enjoy the family history.


Price $17.99


Click here to order

New Portal for Polish Research

PGSA.org has announced its new web page that lists 46 domestic and international web sites that are related to Polish Genealogy research.  Some you may already know and have tried some of these. However there are many that are new in the last few years and may help unlock the door to your Polish heritage. The most interesting new pages are sponsored by Polish Genealogical groups that have indexed many records and are committed to adding scanned images as soon as possible. Volunteers in Poland have been visiting archives and churches collecting images to be indexed and uploaded to their new sites.  The Polish groups also make this information for free. None of the sites require a subscription fee to gain access.

This is PGSA’s first step to increase awareness in the resources that are available in Polish Genealogical research.

Go to PGSA.org and click on the link under “Compendium of Polish Digital Web Sites.”  This is a great site to get started or to renew your efforts to find your Polish roots.


Beginning my research

I begin organizing my research by using standard genealogy charts to capture the relationships and the names of family members. I also quickly start writing a summary for each direct ancestor. In the summaries I include all the information that I find in the documents. Each document is a snap shot of the life of an ancestor and I try to capture each detail found in the document. This method helps me gather, correlate, and analyze my information.  I also make sure that my entries in the summaries identify where I found each fact. Including the sources and this step helps me draw better conclusions about the accuracy of my information and also helps me find clues that point to more sources.

One important benefit that I enjoy from my summaries is that they make my research efforts more efficient. Information that I needed to continue my research is more readily available and using summaries have reduced the time needed to find more documents.

Another very important benefit that my summaries offer is that they make exchanging information with family members easier. A ring binder with a titled cover invites family members to open and read. The summaries can be easily understood by family members and reading them sometimes brings out memories of family stories and offers to send copies of pictures and documents to me.


United Polish Genealogy Society Conference

For those of you who have started your research for your Polish ancestors, here is an exciting trip and conference that can jump start your efforts.

The United Polish Genealogy Society Conference will be held in Salt Lake City starting on May 2through May 5. Salt Lake City is called “The Genealogy Capital of the World” and the Family History Library is a fantastic place to find the U.S and Polish records that may lead you to your Polish ancestors. The equipment found at the library is the most up-to-date and the knowledgeable library staff can truly bring success for your genealogy efforts. The library staff has scheduled three orientation classes for conference attendees and conference sessions are scheduled to allow attendees ample time to use the resources available found at the Family History Library.

 Nationally known genealogist Joshua Taylor will give the keynote speech for the Monday banquet. Mr. Taylor will also give presentations on New Tools for Research and Creating a Family History Website. Noted Polish researcher Ceil Jensen will speak at three programs on Midwifery, Immigration Agents and Manor House Records. Ceil and Joshua will be joined by four other knowledgeable speakers who will give programs on Polish topics covering Advance research methods, Maps, Gazetteers, Polish petition records, Notary records and new LDS filming projects in Poland.

Another highlight of the conference is the appearance of the Wesoly Lud Polish Folk Dance Company on Saturday night at the 850 seat Little Theater at the LDS Conference Center. This will be the first appearance of a Polish Dance group at a UPGS conference and if you have not had the opportunity to see a live performance of a Polish Folk Dance group this is another reason for attending the conference.

Plan to stay at the Plaza Hotel. The hotel is located next to the library and offers a free shuttle from the airport. The conference committee has also arranged for the discounted room rate of $85 per night.

The resources available at the Family History Library are the largest in the world and are growing daily. A trip to use these resources and to hear such knowledgeable speakers should be on your “To-Do” list.

Life is short. Please consider attending the UPGS conference. Your efforts in attending the conference will be rewarded with a wealth of new information for your family history.

More program details and registration information can be found on their website at:


Who will write your family history?

We all have family stories that give insights into the lives our ancestors. Some are entertaining and others are more historical in nature. Many others are celebrations of our ethnic and cultural heritage. Pieces of these stories are lost as families pass them down from generation to generation. Writing a family history will save them for many generations.

You may hesitate writing down these stories because you do not consider yourself a writer or you cannot see how your family history is important to save. However, it is important for you to understand that someone in your family should capture and save the oral histories, do the research to try to confirm what the accurate story is and do the research to increase the knowledge of your ancestor’s lives. All of our immigrant ancestors contributed to America’s history and their stories should be saved for our grandchildren. Our family histories should give clues of their roles and this will help us understand our roots.


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