The Genealogy Journey

The newbie genealogist's resource for books, mags, databases, and -- of course -- any free research stuff to be found on the Internet.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Historical Panoramic Maps and Your Town

I’m not claiming to be one of those women who is actually good with maps, but I do enjoy looking at them. My interest started about ten years ago when I browsed an antique store in Conyers, Georgia. I found a basket of old prints and one of them was a map of Georgia from 1881 (shown on the right).

(Sorry about the flash reflection. A photographer I am not!)

Thanks to a tip from a member of the GEN-NEWBIE forum (, I found a treasure trove of panoramic maps from the 1847 - 1929. For those of you that don’t know, panoramic maps illustrate the streets and buildings of both small towns and large cities in intricate detail. The scale may not be right, but they’re fun to look at -- like a glimpse of your town right after your plane takes off. The cars look like ants and the houses like Chiclets:

To view these maps, go to:

Select the Maps link, followed by the Panoramic Maps link. (I found the areas I was interested in by selecting the “Geographical Location” link.)

As you’ll see, this Web site is a bonanza for American history buffs. And of course, where there’s history, there’s genealogy. (Or vice versa.)

~Mary Kaye

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Free Gift for Your Grandchildren

Doesn’t it seem like the word “free” is overused today, especially on the ‘net? Don’t you hate it when you see the word “free” in an advertisement or headline, only for it to turn out you have to fulfill a convoluted series of steps just to get your free thing-a-ma-jig?

1. Purchase the product on a full moon in a month that includes the letter “u.”
2. Photocopy the UPC code.
3. Tattoo the UPC code to your forehead.
4. Kiss your social life good-bye.

And don’t you hate it when you’re lured to a Web site with the promise of something free, only to find out you’ve been subjected to lame, early morning humor?

Here is a refreshing antidote:

This site sells products for grandparents who think that toys for kids today are junk (and they’re right). This includes stuff like wooden toys, wagons, and rocking toys. But they’ve also included a form that allows you to enter information about yourself and your life, questions like:

- What are some of your memories of your parents?
- What were your childhood hobbies?
- What were your holiday traditions?

After you fill out the form, click the “Create Story” button. Your story displays in a plain format, which you can either print or copy into a word processor.

This looks like a quick way to jot down your memories, but be careful – this isn’t a word processing program, so if your computer hiccups just as you’re typing the last sentence, you’ll lose all of your information. To avoid this, you can copy what you’re typing into Notepad or a word processor and save it as you work. (You may think this will never happen, but when it comes to computers, Murphy’s Law rules.)

Happy memory hunting!

~Mary Kaye

Monday, February 06, 2006

Two Genealogy Magazines: Family Tree and Family Chronicle

A while back I told you that I had picked up two genealogy magazines from Border’s bookstore. Here are my thoughts on both:

Family Chronicle
The articles in Family Chronicle seemed a bit more focused on how history could have influenced your ancestors, such as articles on our ancestor’s migration patterns and a description of poorhouses. But it also included matter-of-fact information on DNA testing and finding your way through the revamped Ellis Island database.

One-time purchase: $6.95
Yearly subscription (6 issues): $27

You can try out Family Chronicle with a free issue. You don’t have to pay the invoice unless you want to subscribe, so there’s no risk to try it. Also, the publishers of Family Chronicle have a new magazine, Internet Genealogy magazine. If you want to keep up on the new databases that are coming online, check into this at You can also download a preview issue of Internet Genealogy.

Family Tree
Family Tree had a more modern layout, at least on the cover page and table of contents. You’ll see what I mean if you view both covers online. I didn’t see any historical articles in this issue, but some appealing articles were on watching out for junky genealogy databases and the latest on upgrades to Family Tree Maker and Legacy Family Tree software.

One-time purchase: $5.99
Yearly subscription (6 issues): $24

If you subscribe to Family Tree from their Web site, you’ll get a bonus gift: Family Tree Magazine's 2006 Genealogy Guidebook. Plus, this site has a “101 Best Undiscovered Web Sites” – links to great genealogy sites you’ve probably never explored.

Each magazine has its own “personality,” so if you can afford it, get both. I wish I had an unlimited budget for all of these magazines! That’s a subject for another day … budgeting for genealogy.

~Mary Kaye

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Learn How to Research Your Family Tree – Free Online Course

I don’t know about you, but some of these genealogy Web sites I visit are so noisy. Cluttered with ads and graphics, it’s difficult to even read the text, so I usually click off. So it was a relief to run across this clean and simple site:

It’s hard to believe, but you can take the entire course online and … it’s free! Some of the material covered includes:

- Working with search engines and databases

- Vital records and federal census records

- Other sources that can reveal key information

- Finding information through discussion lists and message boards

It’s great to sit down with a book for the evening, and it’s fun to click around the Web for information on our ancestors, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone tell you what to do and how to do it. Because the course is designed to be interactive, you’ll be more likely to take the steps to reach your goals. There’s something about the online course format that really pushes me to try hard. (I guess it could be that I’m competitive against myself!) I’ve taken a few online courses and never regretted it.

This is one I’m definitely going to list in my links.

~Mary Kaye