Friday, August 26, 2011

It's Not All Online: Ordering Family History Library Microfilm

The Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City literally has a mountain of genealogical records. Some are available online at FamilySearch. But, most are only available to order and view at your local Family History Center (FHC). Family History Centers are located in the Latter Day Saints’ churches throughout the country.

You don’t have to be a member to use a FHC. In fact, most of the people researching at FHCs are not members. Finding an FHC near you is easy at FamilySearch Centers. Simply type the city and state where you live and click 'Search.' If there is more than one, select a FHC that has hours that are convenient for you.

Now comes the fun part - finding the records of your ancestors! I am looking for the Griffith's Valuation Revision Lists that I learned about in Mary Ann Faloon’s presentation. To find out what microfilms the FHL has, I’ll check their online catalog. It is generally best to search by the place-name for the country and county where your ancestor lived. There may be additional records for smaller administrative divisions that you will want to explore as well.

The format for searching place names is to start with the country or county and then work down to the smaller divisions. For the U.S., it is not necessary to include the country. So, if searching for Cincinnati, you would enter Ohio, Hamilton, Cincinnati. To search for Ballymartle, Ireland, you would type in Ireland, Cork, Ballymartle. Entering only a state and county will list county-wide resources.

Searching for Ireland, Cork, produced a long list of microfilms. “General Valuation Revision Lists, Kinsale Union (Cork), 1855-1956” was found in “Ireland, Cork – Land and Property.” Clicking on the record brings up additional information. There are often multiple microfilms in a collection. A detailed list of what is on each film is in the description. I’m looking for the Ballymartle Electoral Division which is on FHL BRITISH Film 829111 Item 2. Many microfilms have multiple items. So, when I get this film, I’ll advance the film to Item 2.

Great – I found the records I was looking for! Before I leave the catalog, I’ll review the list for any other interesting titles and also check under Ireland, Cork, Ballymartle to see what local records are available. I  found, The Land and the People of Nineteenth-Century Cork: the Rural Economy and the Land in Question. Books are not available on interlibrary-loan through the FHL. A quick check on WorldCat, indicates the book is at the University of Cincinnati.

To order a microfilm you will need to know the title: “General Valuation Revision Lists, Kinsale Union (Cork), 1855-1956” and the microfilm number: “BRITISH Film 829111 Item 2”. Take this information and the film rental fee of about $5.50 to the local FHC (fees vary by location).

Before you fill out a microfilm request form, confirm the film is not already on-loan at the local FHC. The helpful FHC staff will answer any questions. Your request will be sent to the FHL and in 4-6 weeks, you will get a call letting you know that your film has arrived.  Film can be viewed at the FHC but cannot be taken home. 

The initial rental fee allows you to view the film for a short time. If you haven’t finished with the film before it is due, you can renew it or place it on indefinite hold. Not all Family History Centers keep ‘indefinite hold’ microfilms permanently. If you place a film on ‘indefinite hold,’ be sure to let the staff know that you are still using the film actively. Once you have finished, you can request that the FHC keep the microfilm permanently or tell them that you no longer need the film.

Online ordering of microfilms is available for some, but not all areas. See FHL Film Online Ordering Now Available in Cincinnati for information about ordering online.

Happy Hunting!

This is the first in a series of posts that will feature repositories and resources that are not available online. If have any suggestions or would like to feature a repository, please contact Liz Stratton. It is not necessary for you to become a blog contributor. I am happy to post the blog for you with your by-line. Thanks!

Submitted by Liz Stratton; Updated 27 November 2012.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What I Learned Reading The Tracer

I was excited to receive my August 2011 copy of The Tracer.  It seems that every time I dig into my copy lately, I find something directly related to my research.  This edition was no exception.  I've been researching my ancestors who served in the Civil War, some of whom were German.  So of course I was drawn to Don Heinrich Tolzmann's article on Germans in the Civil War. Mary Ann Faloon submitted and article on "More Irish Genealogy Learning Opportunities Available from Home" and Jim Dempsey helped us get a better handle on Probate Court records.  What really caught my eye in this issue, however, was Judy Craven's article on "The Mystery of Passenger #171 . . ."

Scanning the article, I realized that Judy had included a list of 204 passengers from Bremen to Cincinnati in 1852.  Better yet, many of the passengers came from the Oldenburg region of Germany with town names so familiar I can rattle them off in my sleep.

My Vonderheide ancestors emigrated from Holdorf, Germany.  The first family of "my" Vonderheides that came to Cincinnati were included in Judy's list.

Click to view in larger size.

Although not in my direct line, this Herman and Elisabeth were the aunt and uncle of those who were to arrive 29 years later.  They probably were the link that made my g-grandparents decide on Cincinnati.  Judy questioned in her article whether or not Arnold Muthing, passenger #171, could actually be her great-grandfather, Adolph, using his brother's name.  Judy went on to describe her evidence for why she had concluded that "This must be Adolph!"

How did this impact me?  First of all, I grew up in Pleasant Ridge and was in a Girl Scout troop with Carol Muething.  Her mother, Mildred, was one of our leaders.  A quick phone call to Judy confirmed that she knew that family well and that they were related to her.  Secondly, I was encouraged to think that if Judy could find Vonderheides on a Passenger List that I should be able to also. 

For years it amazed me that I could not find "my" family in Germans to America or on a passenger list.  After all, I knew more than most.  I had a copy of  my gg-grandfather's naturalization papers and I knew they had arrived in the U.S. in June, 1881 when my g-grandfather was 7 years old.  Encouraged by Judy's success, I searched one more time.  Here is what I found:

Click to view larger size

The person who transcribed this record recorded the name of passenger #157 as H. o. d. Heide, age 42. Here is the transcription for his wife and three children:

Click to view larger size

My Vonderheide family of 1881 included Hermann Heinrich (age 42), Elisabeth (age 43), Joseph and Heinrich (Henry) twins (age 11) and August (age 7).  The ages for the parents were correct.  Elisabeth could have had the nickname of Liselle.  What was clearly "Heinr." on the original record was transcribed as "Heiur", and "August" was transcribed as "Margurt".  The poor transcription of the names was understandable, but the ages were clearly wrong.  And how did they EVER decide that their surname was HeideHeide?

I have overwhelming evidence that this is the exact time frame for the arrival of my ancestors in Baltimore.  I have the Naturalization record, a written family history and census documents that all support this date.  I'm not surprised that the people responsible for recording the names of the people in steerage were not too concerned about getting the ages of the children correct.  Everything else fits.

So I want to thank Deb Cyprych and Judy Craven for their work on The Tracer and publication of this article.  Without their contributions, I would have never solved this mystery  -- The Mystery of Passenger #157 and his family. And Judy can add her name to the list of HCOGS members from this area.  Anybody for a DNA test?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why Google+ Could Be a Boon for Genealogists

Patricia Van Skaik
Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton Co.
AKA DigiGenie
A few weeks ago my nephew invited me to sign up for google+.  Google+ is the new social media application that is part of the google product line.  Although still under development and testing, more than 25 million "early adopters" have already signed on.

Many genealogists/bloggers immediately recognized it's ease of use and set about inviting members of the genealogy community to join their "circles."  As a member of the facebook community, I know that my genealogy friends may not find it interesting to read about how the potty training is going with my grandson.  On the other hand, other "friends" may be bored to tears with my latest genealogical breakthrough.  The "circles" feature in google+ enables you to easily separate all of your contacts into different groups.  Contacts can be placed in one circle (i.e. family), or more than one circle (, bloggers, etc.)  You are free to set up as many circles as you want and identify them with any tag that is meaningful to you. When it comes time to post a comment in your "stream" you can easily choose what circles or individuals you want to be able to see that post.

A second feature that I find particularly appealing is one called "hangout."  It is similar to using skype.  You click on the "hangout" function and you can have an online conversation with up to 10 people.  You can decide if you want to use video, audio, text, or any combination.  While in hangout mode, the person doing the speaking is in the center of the display with the other participants displayed below the speaker.  The software will try to identify the speaker and switch to the speaker accordingly.  You just have to be willing to play with it.

To that end, Pat Van Skaik, Liz Stratton and I met at the library to try out the technology with each other.  We had a great time placing each other in circles, posting messages and using the hangout function while sitting in the same room.  Pat, in her role as DigiGenie is in the process of writing an article about how google+ could work for the genealogy community.  We'll post a link to her article after it is published.

So if you want to play, email me at  I'll put you in one of my circles and send you an invitation to google+.  We can hangout together.  I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

For a better understanding of google+ and its features, go to this link:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Genealogy, Tips and Techniques with Karen Everett

Photo Credit:
A true sign that fall will soon be here is the announcement that HCGS Education Director, Karen Everett, is announcing her annual presentations.  The sessions are held in three different libraries, making commuting easy.  Check the offerings below, sharpen your pencils, and consider attending one of Karen's always well-received presentations.

Monday, Oct. 3, 6PM "Genealogy, Tips and Techniques" Karen Everett, HCGS Education Director and PLCH Librarian. Location:  Forest Park branch library, 655 Waycross Road.

Thursday Oct. 13 - 7 PM "Genealogy, Tips and Techniques" Karen Everett, HCGS Education Director and PLCH Librarian.  Location:  Anderson Township branch library, 7450 State Rd.

Monday, Oct. 17 6PM "Genealogy, Tips and Techniques" Karen Everett, HCGS Education Director and PLCH Librarian.  Location:  Northside branch library, 4219 Hamilton Ave.

Sunday, August 7, 2011