Hints & Tips

On this page you will find some things I’ve pulled together with Hints and Tips on various aspects of genealogical research.  For an organized look at websites for Genealogy, visit my page on Pinterest.  Hope you enjoy!



A record gets created, possibly distributed, used, maintained and then disposed of.  If the record you are looking at has significance for you, the disposal method might be to Permanently Store it.

When you start to organize your own papers, you’ll want a system.  Start by identifying the stage of life for each document:

Active Record—you are using it today and in the near future

Semi-Active Record—used for reference or occasionally

Permanent Record—needs to be kept forever

It is the Permanent Records that need to be archived.  Using archival quality folders, sleeves, and boxes will help to preserve your permanent records.  However, you will want to find the best location for these materials, regardless of their container.  Do your best to keep the materials:

  • In temperatures below 72 degrees
  • In humidity between 30 & 50 percent
  • In a dark area

Heat, water and acidity are enemies of all types of paper.  Remove staples, paper clips, and rubber bands, unless absolutely necessary.  Newsprint is especially susceptible to deterioration and you may be better served to keep a photo copy of the original article.

You may want a Permanent Record of something other than a document or photograph.  Memorabilia may tell more stories than anything else you save.

Whether you have artwork, dishware, fabric items, jewelry, or toys from the past, keep them clean and properly stored.

Talk to your family about the items around your home that are most important to you.

At a minimum. write a paragraph or two about where the article came from and why it is important to you.

After all, your memories are the most valuable part of any family archive that you create!

Archival Suppliers:

  • Conservation Resources www.ConservationResources.com
  • Gaylord Brothers www.Gaylord.com
  • Hollinger Metal Edge www.HollingerMetalEdge.com
  • Talas www.talasonline.com
  • University Products www.UniversityProducts.com


Levenick, Denise May. How to Archive Family Keepsakes  Learn how to preserve family photos, memorabilia & genealogy records. Cincinnati, Ohio : Family Tree Books, 2012.

Mannon, Melissa. The Unofficial Family Archivist  A Guide to Creating and Maintaining Family Papers, Photographs, and Memorabilia. No Publisher Information,  2011.

Sagraves, Barbara. A Preservation Guide  Saving the Past & the Present for the Future. Orem, Utah : Ancestry, 1995.

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World War I Draft

About World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

This database contains an index and images of World War I draft registration cards completed by approximately 24 million men living in the U.S. in 1917 and 1918. Information that may be found for an individual includes: name, place of residence, date and place of birth, race, country of citizenship, occupation, and employer.
In 1917 and 1918, approximately 24 million men living in the United States completed a World War I draft registration card. These registration cards represent approximately 98% of the men under the age of 46. The total U.S. population in 1917-1918 was about 100 million individuals. In other words, close to 25% of the total population is represented in these records.


On 6 April 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and officially entered World War I. Six weeks later, on 18 May 1917, the Selective Service Act was passed, which authorized the president to increase the military establishment of the United States. As a result, every male living within the United States between the ages of eighteen and forty-five was required to register for the draft.

The period of 1880-1920 was a high immigration period to the United States. Young men were required to register for the draft regardless of their U.S. citizenship status. Of course, not all the men who registered actually served in the armed forces, and there were some who served in the war but did not register for the draft.


The World War I draft consisted of three separate registrations.

First Registration. The registration on 5 June 1917, was for men aged twenty-one to thirty-one—men born between 6 June 1886 and 5 June 1896.

Second Registration. The registration on 5 June 1918, was for men who had turned twenty-one years of age since the previous registration—men born between 6 June 1896 and 5 June 1897. Men who had not previously registered and were not already in the military also registered. In addition, a supplemental registration on 24 August 1918, was for men who turned twenty-one years of age since 5 June 1918.

Third Registration. The registration on 12 Sept 1918, was for men aged eighteen to twenty-one and thirty-one to forty-five—men born between 11 Sept 1872 and 12 Sept 1900.

The complete registration included men between the ages of 18 and 45—males born between 1873 and 1900—who were not already in the military.

Registration Cards

Each of the three separate registrations used a slightly different version of the draft registration card. Because different cards were used, the information included in each varies.

The card used for the first registration (sometimes called the Twelve-Question card because of twelve questions on the front) includes this information: name, age, address, date and place of birth, citizenship status, employer’s name and address, dependent information, marital status, race, military service, and physical appearance.

The card used for the second registration (sometimes called the Ten-Question card because of ten questions on the front) includes this information: name, age, address, date and place of birth, father’s birthplace, citizenship status, occupation, employer’s name and address, dependent information, name and address of nearest relative, and physical appearance.

The card used for the third registration (sometimes called the Twenty-Question card because of twenty questions on the front) includes the name, address, age, date of birth, race, citizenship status, occupation, employer’s name and address, name and address of nearest relative, and physical appearance.

 The Cards Today

The original records are kept at the National Archives—Southeast Region in East Point, Georgia. Microfilm copies are at the National Archives regions that serve their respective states. In addition, some large libraries have the film of these cards for their own state.



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Massachusetts Land Records

Registry of Deeds Overview… 1

Massachusetts is divided into 21 registry districts with an elected Register of Deeds responsible for each office. Documents related to the ownership of real estate within the district are recorded at the Registry of Deeds.

Recorded documents are assigned a sequential identifying number (known as the book and page number) and are then scanned into the registry’s computer system. The resulting images are available for viewing on and printing from public access terminals at the registry and at your home or office over the Internet. In addition, all registries microfilm all recorded documents and most continue to produce record books containing document images on paper. In most cases, original documents are returned to the land owner. To assist customers in finding relevant documents, registries create a searchable index that contains the names of all parties to a document and the property address.

1 State of Massachusetts. Registry of Deeds and Secretary of State’s Office  (http://www.masslandrecords.com : accessed 29 September 2010).


Registry records date back to 1731 and all the records are available for public inspection and use at the Registry.  Some very old record books have been “retired” but those records are available on microfilm and online from 1731 to date. Click un-indexed property search for record books.


Besides deeds, mortgages, liens, tax liens, bankruptcies and so on, there are leases, plan maps, a small library and atlases of the Cities and Towns located in the Worcester Registry District.

Declaration of Homestead

A “homestead estate” in Massachusetts can potentially protect the family home from creditors’ claims of up to a maximum of $500,000.00 by protecting the property from execution, attachment and forced sale so long as the owner occupies or intends to occupy the home as his/her principal place of residence There are three types of Homestead:  Regular Homestead, Elderly, and Disabled Person’s Homestead.


When your mortgage is paid off, a mortgage discharge should be recorded with the Registry of Deeds in order to clear your property’s title.

A discharge is a document (usually one page) issued by the lender, with a title such as “Discharge of Mortgage” or “Satisfaction of Mortgage.”


Real property in Massachusetts is subject to a lien for estate taxes upon the death of anyone who has a legal interest in the property.

For a majority of estates, there is no estate tax actually due, but unless a release of estate tax lien form is filed with the Registry of Deeds, there is a claim against the title of property owned by the decedent for ten years following his or her death.

Read  the Entire Deed!

You may learn of your ancestor’s financial associates, that their property was a town ‘landmark’, that their land was later subdivided, or that the Registrar or Notary was another ancestor!

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North American Conflicts

(adapted from Wikipedia.org)

17th Century

  • War between the Huron and the Iriquois
  • 1634-38 Pequot War
  • 1640 French and Iroquois Wars
  • 1675-78 King Philip’s War
  • 1680 Pueblo Revolt
  • 1689-97 King William’s War

18th Century

  • 1702-13 Queen Anne’s War
  • 1715-17 Yamasee War
  • 1744-48 King George’s War
  • 1754-63 The French and Indian War
  • 1763 Pontiac’s Rebellion
  • 1764-1771 War of the Regulation
  • 1774 Dunmore’s War
  • 1775-1783 American Revolutionary War
  • 1774-76 Boston campaign
  • 1775-76 Invasion of Canada
  • 1776 New York Campaign
  • 1777 Saratoga Campaign
  • 1779 Sullivan Expedition
  • 1785-95 Northwest Indian War
  • 1791-1804 Haitian Revolution
  • 1794 Whiskey Rebellion

19th Century

  • 1810-21 Mexican War of Independence
  • 1812-1814 War of 1812
  • 1813-1814 Creek War
  • 1817-1818 First Seminole War
  • 1832 Black Hawk War
  • 1835-36 Texas Revolution
  • Battle of Gonzales
  • Battle of Bexar
  • Siege of the Alamo
  • Massacre at Goliad
  • Battle of San Jacinto
  • 1835-1842 Second Seminole War
  • 1837-38 Rebellions of 1837
  • 1838 Missouri Mormon War
  • 1844-46 Illinois Mormon War
  • 1846-48 Mexican-American War
  • 1847-1901 Caste War
  • 1850-51 Mariposa War
  • 1854-58 Bleeding Kansas
  • 1855-56 Puget Sound War
  • 1856 Tule River War
  • 1855-58 Third Seminole War
  • 1857-58 Mormon Rebellion
  • 1859 Mendocino War
  • 1860 Pyramid Lake War
  • 1861-65 American Civil War
  • Battle of Gettysburg
  • Battle of Chickamauga
  • Battle of Chancellorsville
  • Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
  • Battle of Antietam
  • Battle of the Wilderness
  • Second Battle of Bull Run
  • Battle of Stones River
  • Battle of Shiloh
  • Battle of Fort Donelson
  • 1862 Dakota War of 1862
  • 1863-65 Colorado War
  • 1865-66 Fenian Raids
  • 1868 Grito de Lares, Proclamation of Puerto Rico’s Independence from Spain
  • 1868 Grito de Yara, Proclamation of Cuba’s Independence from Spain
  • 1869-70 Red River Rebellion
  • 1872-73 Modoc War
  • 1885 Northwest Rebellion
  • 1892 Homestead Strike
  • Spanish American War
  • 1898 Battle for Santiago, Cuba
  • 1898 Bombardment of San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • 1898 U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico through Guanica
  • 1898 Battle of Sugar Point, the last major battle of the American Indian Wars

20th Century

  • 1910-21 Mexican Revolution
  • 1914-18 World War I
  • 1926-29 Cristero War
  • 1939-45 World War II
  • 1953-59 Cuban Revolutionary War
  • 1994-95 Zapatista Uprising

21st Century

  • 2001-present War on Terrorism


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Photographs provide a wonderful window into the lives of our ancestors.  Unfortunately, often times the marking on the back of a photograph is  not descriptive enough.

Genealogical research skills and knowledge help you to read the clues in a photograph along with family and historical data in order to  help determine who the subject of an old photograph might be.

There are three situations when this might be helpful:

  1. Photo of an unknown group
  2. Names on the back but no knowledge of who is who
  3. Unrecognized name on the back

There are four ways to get clues as to the originality of a photograph:

  1. Clothing and Hair Styles
  2. Format of the photograph
  3. Photographer’s Studio mark
  4. Perceived age of the subject

There are five steps to identifying the subject of a photograph:

  1. Identify the medium (requires having the original photograph)
  2. Determine the ethnicity of the subject(s)
  3. Establish the timeframe of the photograph
    1. Review hair and clothing
    2. Look at jewelry
    3. Review the furniture
  4. Review every aspect of the photograph for clues as to occasion, class, location, photographer, and more.
  5. Contact the historical society for the determined location of the photograph

Photographic Historical Timeline1

1837: Louis Daguerre creates images on silver-plated copper

1851: Wet plate collodion photography process was published but not patented.

1854: Adolphe Disderi develops carte-de-visite photography in Paris

1855-57: Direct positive images on glass (ambrotypes) and metal (tintypes or ferrotypes) popular in the US.

1861-65: Mathew Brady and staff (mostly staff) covers the American Civil War, exposing 7000 negatives

1889: Improved Kodak camera with roll of film instead of paper

1900: Kodak Brownie box roll-film camera introduced.

1907: First commercial color film, the Autochrome plates, manufactured by Lumiere brothers in France

1924: Leitz markets the “Leica”, the first high quality 35mm camera

1 Greenspun, Philip. “History of Photography Timeline.” PHOTO.NET: A COMMUNITY OF PHOTOGRAPHERS (http://photo.net/history/timeline : accessed 29 September 2010).


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