Everyone likes this picture. It is very good of you. You look so happy and content. I love you Dear.
In 1946, just after World War II, John Yeomans and Dorothy Hulme were married in Paterson, New Jersey. Separated for the duration of the war while John served in the 8th Air Force at home and abroad in England, the couple were reunited and wed in the month of May. After the horrors and anxieties of the years of their engagement, it was time to celebrate, be joyful, and look ahead to the future. In the relief that followed a turbulent time in their lives, they each deserved some happiness and contentment.
As any family historian can tell you, our cups often runneth over with family photos, documents, letters, and facts. How do we organize it all and share it with our loved ones in a way that’s interesting and engaging? It’s all well and good to tell your family members about your latest discoveries, and of course you could always show them your pedigree charts and family group sheets, but what if you could share your information in another way? Like, in a book? That’s exactly what I decided to do for my parents as their Christmas gifts this past year.
Each book was treated as an introduction to three generations of my parents’ ancestors, beginning with their parents and reaching to their great-grandparents. Every section began with a short biographical sketch, complete with an image and important dates like vital statistics, military service, and immigration, and place of burial, if known.
I used Shutterfly* for ease and cost. I was already familiar with the quality of the end product, and I liked the variety of templates and additional background colors, stickers, and borders that were available.
Here are my top tips for creating a family history book of your own:
Consider your audience. Are they a fellow genealogist who gets excited by wills and probate papers, or are they unsure of their family’s roots and has always wanted to see a photo of their grandmother’s extended family? Is this book just for you? Tailor your content and wording accordingly. Both of my parents have dabbled in family history, but neither has taken it to the extremes that I have. A keen interest in history led me to think my dad would likely get more out of seeing documents, while my mom would probably enjoy learning about the context her ancestors existed within.
How will your book be organized? I thought the easiest system to follow would be to treat each generation as a tier and work from most recent to oldest (ie. two parents, four grandparents, and eight great-grandparents). Since traditional pedigree charts list the paternal male first, followed by the paternal female, I followed this convention within each tier. (* BONUS TIP* Make it easier on yourself and be sure to have all of your family photos, documents, letters, certificates, etc. already labeled and organized on your computer. This will save you loads of time when you’re working on the layout!) To further differentiate between each ancestor, I chose to make each background color distinct – every page of my mother’s father was a variation of yellow/orange, every page of my father’s mother was a variation of purple, etc. Which brings me to…
Decide on the look and layout of your book. Do you want the pages to mimic a vintage scrapbook? Do you want the background to blend with the colors in the documents and photos? Do you want a clean white surface to work on? Do you love polka dots and want every page to be patterned in a different polka dot layout? Looking at my collected documents, everything was a variation of sepia, black, white, and grey. Personally, I prefer a fresh look to offset these subtle hues, so I chose a “watercolor ombre” background template, which gave me flexibility to differentiate between ancestors, and provide some color to fill up the empty spaces on the page.
Consider your content. This goes hand in hand with tips 1 and 3 and the previously mentioned overflowing cup of family memorabilia and documents. But it’s worth saying again. Think about what you’ll be presenting in your book. An in-depth biography of select ancestors? Your great-grandmother’s scrapbook, lovingly reproduced in digital format? If you have a clear outline, the task is much easier. As for me, I’ve been collecting family photos, letters, emails, and documents for years. In an effort to make these books more of a conversational introduction and less of a laundry list of factoids, I decided to include photos held by extended family members, email remembrances, and interview responses from an elementary school project. (I’m beyond thankful to have saved those interviews all these years!!) To flesh out the context, I searched for imagery and information about the towns my ancestors came from, period maps, and employment information.
Make a start! Start uploading! I found that once I began putting items on a page, the final layout took care of itself.
And, here are some bonus tips:
Include a pedigree chart. You, as the researcher, know how everyone connects within your family tree. Your audience likely doesn’t, or will need an easy reminder.
Include captions. This can be anything from a full source citation to the name of the ancestor. Also, consider including any humorous inscriptions written on the backs of your photos.
Check places like Google Books and WikiMedia Commons for copyright-free contextual information and imagery.
Contact your extended family! Ask them if they’ll share any family photos or documents they may have in their possession. Even a simple texted image will do.
Keep track of your sources for easy reference!
Give yourself plenty of time. I’m talking months. And, make sure you budget some time for the actual printing of the book.
And my absolute, number one tip… Have fun!!
*This is not an advertisement for Shutterfly. I simply enjoyed using their product.
On October 16, 1879, the S.S. Montana docked at the Port of New York after setting sail from Liverpool, England. Among the passengers who traveled in cabin class were Emma Hulme, a thirty-year-old mother, and her six children who ranged in age from nine to just one month . The family was joining Emma’s husband, George G. Hulme, who had traveled first to the US and settled in Paterson, New Jersey .
Originally hailing from Macclesfield, Cheshire County, England, both Emma and George earned their wages within the textile industry. George was a silk weaver who later rose through the ranks in the silk mills of Paterson, New Jersey to be a loom fixer. Emma, also a silk weaver, soon stayed home to look after her growing family .
In 1879, the Hulme children were headed by John Thomas, followed by Albert, Mary, George Jr., William, and Harry . In 1881, a sister, Lillie, was born in New Jersey .
Emma enjoyed her family’s fresh start in a new land for ten years. She died on 20 August 1889 at the age of forty. At this time, her cause of death or her burial location is not known .
 Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897, microfilm publication M237, 675 rolls (Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Administration, 1962), roll 420, 16 October 1879, SS Montana, List 1177 [stamped], entries for Mrs. Emma Hulme and family; digital images, “New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Gardens and Ellis Island), 1820-1957,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 December 2019), M237, Roll 420, images 758-59.
 1880 U.S. census, Passaic County, New Jersey, population schedule, Paterson, p. 21B [stamped], dwelling 278, family 412, George Hulme family; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 December 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 795, image 42.
 1871 census of England, Cheshire County, Macclesfield, p. 2, George Hulme family; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 December 2019); citing The National Archives, RG10, piece 3674, folio 4, page 2, GSU roll 841867. Also, 1880 U.S. census, Passaic Co., NJ, pop. sched., p. 21B [stamped], dwell. 278, fam. 412, George Hulme family.
 Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897, NARA M237, roll 420, 16 October 1879, SS Montana, entries for Mrs. Emma Hulme and family. Also, 1880 U.S. census, Passaic Co., NJ, pop. sched., p. 21B [stamped], dwell. 278, fam. 412, George Hulme family.
 Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 30 December 2019), memorial page for Lillie Hulme (unknown–24 Jul 1897), Find A Grave Memorial no. 44721403, citing Laurel Grove Memorial Park, Totowa, Passaic County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by Cindy (contributor 15493917) . Date of birth was calculated from headstone inscription.
 “New Jersey deaths and burials, 1720-1988,” database, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 30 December 2019), entry for Emma Hulme, age 40, died 20 August 1889, Paterson, Passaic County, New Jersey.
Hello, 20s! 2020s, that is! As we look ahead, it’s only natural that we reflect on what’s behind. It’s especially natural as genealogists – all that we do is tied to the past!
I started my Origin Story blog and Instagram account, which allowed me to connect with a wonderful, vibrant community of fellow genealogists and history enthusiasts
I joined the National Genealogical Society, and pushed myself to complete their source citations course in preparation for further education
I became a member of a local genealogy society and began making connections with other practicing genealogists
I completed the certificate course in Genealogical Research through Boston University (and earned an A overall!)
I began volunteering at a local library during their genealogy help sessions to provide assistance to visiting members of the public
One thing that struck me during my mental review of the year was how unfocused I became after I finished my certificate course with Boston University. I wasn’t sure what to do or what the next steps would be. I lost momentum on some projects, and wasn’t sure how to begin others. So, in 2020, I’m choosing a word to use as a mantra to help keep me on track: Clarity.
This year, I’ll be striving for clarity in my goals, clarity in my research, and clarity in my intentions. Isn’t it fitting that the year is 2020, the optimal measure of vision?
In 2020, I want to:
Grow the Origin Story audience by committing to regular blogging and posting on Instagram, with a view to launching a Facebook presence later in the year
Grow my personal practice by focusing on German and Slovak research, DNA comprehension, and a commitment to keeping research logs and developing research plans for specific questions
Make headway toward building my research portfolio for future certification
Develop a business plan for launching a genealogy service using Origin Story as a basis
What are your big goals for the year ahead? What are you proud of from 2019? What are you most excited to begin and commit to?
As genealogists, our go-to source of information about our subjects are the records. Not just birth, marriage, and death, but census, city directories, immigration, court documents, wills and probates, land, church, and more. These records were “planted” years ago from the seeds our ancestors scattered throughout their lives. It’s up to us as genealogists to harvest those fruits of information to be evaluated as evidence.
Take the 1900 U.S. census, for example. If you’re viewing the records online via Ancestry, FamilySearch, or similar, you’ll first see indexed information: Name, age, household members, etc. Note this low-hanging fruit, and reach higher by looking at the image of the record. This is where the good stuff is, and can help you to correlate information from other sources or give you clues to further research. The 1900 census records both birth month and birth year of individuals. This can help to identify that you’re looking at the correct John Smith, or it can help eliminate this John Smith from your search. For females, the 1900 census records how many children were born overall, and how many children are living at the time of the census enumeration. This provides clues that there may be more children to be located for this particular female, and it may also indicate a prior marriage. You can infer an approximate marriage date by looking at the information in Column 10 (“Number of Years Married”). You can begin searching for immigration and naturalization records with clues from the columns pertaining to subject’s birthplace, parents’ birthplaces, year of immigration, and citizenship status. Taking a close look at census records can yield a bountiful harvest!
Fill your bushel by digging deeper into immigration records. Arrival manifests may be a single page, or they may be a double page. It’s always worth checking! One of the juciest tidbits found on secondary pages might be the name and address of your ancestor’s nearest relative in the country from which they came, and this relationship if often listed (wife, mother, brother, father, etc.). Now you have some future research steps waiting for you! If the nearest relative is a spouse, you can search for marriage records in that country. From there, you may be able to identify the names and locations of the parents of the bride and/or groom, depending on what information was recorded. You can see if the spouse joined their partner in the U.S. by searching for their appearance on census records and work backwards to find their arrivals manifest.
Don’t be afraid to root around on a deeper level when reviewing and analyzing records. Your efforts may just reward you with a harvest more plentiful than you could ever imagine!
All has been quiet over here for quite awhile, and that’s because I’ve been deep into Boston University’s Genealogical Research certificate course! Now that the dust is settling and my daily routine isn’t reading, note-taking, writing, and research, I’d like to share some of my key takeaways with you in case you’re considering the BU course for yourself!
In a nutshell: DO IT!
You will learn so much, and even thought it requires super hard work and A LOT of your time, you will ultimately be so happy you did it.
BU offers two different online courses, offered three times a year. Their Genealogical Principles course is only seven weeks, but it gives you a flavor of what you can expect as far as workload and time committment in case you’re considering going for the full fifteen week Genealogical Research certificate.
I would definitely recommend starting with Genealogical Principles. I completed the Fall 2018 session – the experience quickly showed me areas I would need some extra help with before I could even think about the certificate course (source citations, I’m looking at you). Each week was spent on a new subject and was packed full of course material, reading, tests, and supplemental videos. A word of caution, however – you should budget more time than BU recommends for your studies, especially if you, like a lot of people, are holding down a full-time job or have additional responsibilities like caregiving. (This is also true for the certificate program.) Life happens, and you should be prepared to anticipate an extremely intensive and totally worth it experience.
(Another thing you should anticipate is that there will be at least one person who will misunderstand what you mean by “genealogical research” and think that you are embarking upon a career in “gynecological research.” I can assure you, the two are very different. )
Currently, the BU certificate program is split into four different modules, made up of individual units that mostly span a one-week time period. There are a few exceptions, but you should expect to work to weekly deadlines. Initially, I felt like the course material whipped past so quickly that you hadn’t had a chance to absorb the information. However, a few weeks into the course, I realized just how much I had learned, and it made all the long days feel so much more meaningful. And now, post-course, I’m able to apply some of my newfound skills to my own family’s research! I’ve been amazed at how quickly and efficiently I’ve been able to locate information, and how easy it was to assess the reliability of that information.
Throughout the last several months of study, I’ve discovered still more areas I’ll need to work on (including source citations). But now I have a sense of direction as to where my next educational venture will take me, and I’ve met an incredible network of people who are right there with me, offering advice, tips, webinar schedules, and encouragement.
My biggest piece of advice if you’re thinking about embarking on either of the BU genealogy courses is this: DON’T GIVE UP!! You can absolutely do it, and you will build a great foundation for yourself. Even if you don’t want to pursue genealogy professionally, these courses can help you develop your skills and habits to make your personal research that much more fruitful.
(This is not, in any way, an affiliate post for Boston University. I just happen to have had a great experience, and want to offer my personal, independent opinion.)
I have a confession: Until last week, I really didn’t know what a gazetteer was. It sounded like a listing for all the fancy people in town, sort of a who’s who of civilization. The reality is, of course, much less glamorous and at the same time, much cooler.
A gazetteer is a dictionary of places.
What? How can a anything with the word “dictionary” in its description be considered “cool?”
As genealogical researchers, we are all about answering all of the questions, right? The whos, whats, whens, and wheres of our ancestry. Gazetteers can help pinpoint those wheres. Coupled with maps, they are a powerful research tool.
At last week’s monthly meeting of the Genealogical Society of North Orange County, presenter Ted Gostin shared his tips and tricks for using gazetteers and maps together to pinpoint the physical location of any given ancestor’s origins. He explained how gazetteers can list any number of location features, including population, topography, agricultural statistics, founding dates, boundaries, churches, and more. Gazetters range from very broad to very specific, from world- to local-level. They’re available in different languages. Different gazetteers include different pieces of information, so once you’ve found your town listed in one, don’t stop there! Keep exploring, because you might find another, far more detailed listing, elsewhere. Ted’s advice was to start searching in the broader gazetteers, and progress to the more specific listings, especially if the town you’re searching for is very small indeed. Also, don’t forget the value of historical gazetteers; they are often far more useful than their contemporary counterparts, especially in the context of historical research.
Most gazetteers are available online, so make the most of your FamilySearch.org accounts and start searching! (If you don’t have a FamilySearch account yet, I highly recommend setting one up. It’s absolutely free!)
The next logical step is to find your ancestor’s location on a map, and you should be paying attention to scale at this point. Most maps are consistent in that they present scale in ratio format (1: 1,000,000). The larger the number on the right of the ratio, the less detail there will be on the map. So a map with a scale of 1: 1,000,000 will be less detailed than a map with a scale of 1: 500,000. The smaller the number, the smaller the area the map with show, and the more detail will be available. You can even begin to see street-level detail once you get to a scale ratio of 1: 100,000.
Many historical maps are available online, so happy hunting!
Many thanks for Ted Gostin and the Genealogical Society of North Orange County for such a fascinating and educational presentation!
In our matrilineal line (the branch of the family tree that traces through the mother’s maternal side only), the earliest known ancestor is Mary F. Lawson of Montgomery, Orange County, New York. Her parents were possibly Benjamin and Ruth Ellen Lawson. (This question of relationship is currently being worked on.) Mary was born in 1855. By the age of 15, she was employed at a wool mill with her brothers and sisters, aged 10 to 17.
Mary was married to David Birkbeck probably about 1871. She would have only been about 16 years old. She had had her first son by the time she was 17. Between about 1879 and 1888, David either passed away or the couple divorced. She married Alfred Stansfield, a British immigrant and textile worker, in March of 1888 in Paterson, New Jersey.
Mary and Alfred had moved to Midland Park by 1900. On that year’s US Census, Alfred’s recorded occupation was a silk twister. Their neighborhood was composed of several mixed immigrant families, many of whom worked in the local textile industry. Mary had, by that time, given birth to 11 children; sadly, only 5 were still alive.
There is an entry for a Mary F. Stansfield in the New Jersey Death Index for the year 1902. Further evidence that this is indeed the correct Mary F. Stansfield is still being pursued, but her failure to appear on any census records after 1900, coupled with her two youngest remaining children residing in the care of their older sister in 1920 indicates that she may have indeed died young at age 46.
Please contact the author for a list of sources used.
In April of 1944, in the thick of World War II, my grandfather arrived in Horham, a small village in Suffolk County, England. His destination was an airbase known as Station 119, where airmen from the US Army Air Force flew missions over Germany and mainland Europe as part of the 95th Bomb Group. As the ball turret gunner of a B-17 Flying Fortress, he was part of a flight crew headed by Lt. Richard Harvey. They flew a total of 34 missions, from May to September of 1944, including the first and third waves of heavy bombers on D-Day.
75 years later, I stepped out of my father-in-law’s rental car and stood in front of the restored Nissen huts that now make up The Red Feather Club complex – a museum housed in the base’s former beer hall, a welcome diorama room/kitchen, the wet lounge and the dry lounge. An American flag was raised and flying over a low memorial. The May sun was shining and our group was treated to a flawlessly clear British sky.
Three incredibly kind volunteers – Beverley, Linda, and Reg – came out to greet us. They had very generously agreed to meet with our group outside of the museum’s regular hours to accommodate our travel plans. I can’t express just how grateful I am for their kindness and hospitality.
Our hosts pulled up my grandfather’s flight records on one of the museum’s interactive screens. I could see all of the missions he flew, which airplane he was on, and photos associated with the missions. We had the entire museum to ourselves, with the freedom to explore the displays and grounds, ask questions, and share stories. We learned about the murals in the bar area that were slowly disintegrating and prompted the start of the restoration projects on the site. We learned about the annual reunions and summer dances held at the museum, complete with live music and services held at St. Mary’s in the village. We heard stories about the local villagers who welcomed the Americans and the children who grew up to become involved in the preservation of this particular chapter in our shared history.
After a few hours roaming the museum and soaking it all in, we were treated to fresh scones, tea, and coffee, a treat any day, but all the sweeter for the amazing company. We were driven down the road to see where the barracks of the 336th Bombardment Squadon used to stand, where my grandfather would have been housed. A few buildings still exist, but most have been torn down over time. Then we were driven up the road a little ways to see and stand on the remains of the runway. Finally, we made our way into the village to see St. Mary’s church and the memorial to the 95th Bomb Group that sits across the road.
It was difficult to imagine the utter quiet and peace of rural Suffolk shattered by thousands of soldiers and hundreds of aircraft. What a different place it must have been so long ago.
I’m so grateful to everyone who has had a hand in preserving this site for the future. The museum is run entirely by volunteers who really go above and beyond. If your family member has a connection to Station 119, the 95th Bomb Group, or you’re simply interested, get in touch with the museum and go visit!
I was born in the era of “Love Story,” when all little girls were named “Jennifer.” (This caused me endless frustration in school when I was known as “Jennifer G.” as opposed to “Jennifer F.,” “Jennifer S.,” “Jennifer L.,” or “Jennifer M.”) I am unique in my family tree in that there are no other occurances of the name “Jennifer” going back in time.
However, my British husband is named for his grandfathers. His given name is unique within his direct ancestral line, but his two (yes, two!) middle names pay tribute to his father’s father (“Paul”) and his mother’s father (“George”). No, not the Beatles. Does the order of his two middle names tell us anything about where in his lineage the names derive? As it turns out, this particular name doesn’t quite follow stricter naming styles, but it does fit with some traditions that can give us a clue into the names of prior ancestors.
A common naming convention in England is to choose names that honor others, most often family. To avoid stepping on anyone’s toes, there were generally rules to this convention that laid out which child would be named for which ancestor. It all has to do with birth order and gender. For instance, the firstborn son in a family would often be named for his grandfather on his dad’s side, while the firstborn daughter would often be named for her grandmother on her mother’s side. Next in line would be the grandfather on the mother’s side, or the grandmother on the father’s side. Then it would be the parent (father or mother), then it would be the oldest uncle/aunt on the appropriate side of the family… basically, if the child were male, names were first pulled from the father’s side, and if the child were female, names were first pulled from the mother’s side.
Scottish naming patterns were somewhat similar, except the names tended to focus on direct ancestral lines rather than branching out into the collateral lines of aunts and uncles. The firstborn son would carry the name of his father’s father, while the firstborn daughter would carry the name of her mother’s mother. The second son would be named after his mother’s father, and the second daughter would be named after her father’s mother. The third son would honor the father’s father’s father, the third daughter would honor the mother’s father’s mother, and so on and so forth.
As the firstborn son, my husband’s first middle name follows tradition to honor his paternal grandfather, and his second middle name follows to honor his maternal grandfather.
What naming traditions do you have in your family? Have you come across any in your research that are particularly unique?