Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Monday, July 2, 2012


Beginning Genealogy - Using Records to Tell the Stories of Your Ancestors

When: Saturday, July 7, 2012

Where: Sacramento Central Public Library
828 I Street
(916) 264-2920

Click below for flyer

Saturday, April 28, 2012



Latter Day Saints Family History Center
2745 Eastern Ave, Sacramento, CA

May 2 - - Linda ToddHave you tried using Mocavo to search for your family history? Mocavo is a search engine that only searches genealogy specific blogs and websites. Come learn how to use this genealogy search engine and possible locate some of your missing information.

May 9 - Understanding the Basics of Cloud Computing for Genealogists - Marian Kile
Cloud computing is using the Internet for functions that we used to do on our local computer. Marian will explain more of Cloud Computing, its terms, advantages and drawbacks. She will cover a number of different types of Cloud Computing so we can decide which one might work best for us.

May 16 - Irish Research - Part 1 - Ron McDowell

May 23 - Irish Research - Part 2 - Ron McDowell
The Sacramento German Genealogical Society provides research assistance with tracing German ancestors every Thursday from 1:00pm-5:00pm in the Center.

Downtown Central Library
828 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

April 29, Sunday, 1:30 pm to 3 pm
Genealogy - How Much Proof Is Enough?
Adult Program

May 6, Sunday, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Genealogy - American Migration Trails: Eastern United States
Adult Program

May 20,
Genealogy - The Website
Adult Program


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Planning a Research Trip

Have you gotten to the point where you feel you have explored and exhausted all digitized, local records and resources? Perhaps, you just want to go pay homage to the locality of your ancestors? Well, maybe a research trip might be in order.

Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you how rewarding it can be to travel back to the location of your ancestors. In fact, I just got back from one of my many research trips to South Carolina. I was able to find many crucial records that are not available locally or online. As well, it can be spirtually rewarding to step foot on the very ground that your ancestors stepped. Also, actually seeing the town, the home and the area helps to put the story of your
ancestor(s) in prospective.

Here are some tips for planning your research trip:

1)Decide on mode(s) of transportation
2)Decide where you will stay (with relatives or hotel lodging) If you have it, utilize AAA or other discounts
3) Obtain map(s) and directions of the areas you plan to visit
4) Find out the what repositories house the records that you are looking for, i.e, courthouse, clerk of courts, archives building, local library, etc.
5) Find out the addresses and hours of operation of the places you plan to visit
6) Plan an itinerary with an agenda of where you plan to be during the time you are there
7) Make a list of the people you are researching and where each record is possibly located
8) Take folders, plastic coverings, pens, pencils, markers, writing pads, flashdrives, quarters, dimes, paper bills. Other options, scanner, laptop or tablet computers
9) Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. If visiting old cemeteries, you might consider wearing boots
10) Review location policies and guidelines in advance
11) Take a camera, videocamera, batteries and chargers
12) Be extra nice to the staff at all repositories. You may need their help once you've returned home

Here is a small clip from my recent research trip.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

1940 Census Countdown -Only 2 days left

On Monday, April 2, 2012, the long awaited 1940 census will be released. For the first time, it will be available to the public to search free of charge by the National Archives.

The 1940 census will be released online on April 2, 2012.
Please bookmark this page:
This is where you will be able to access the digitized census records starting on April 2. The digital images will be accessible free of charge at NARA facilities nationwide through our public access computers as well as on personal computers via the internet.

You can go here to obtain information to prepare for the census:


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Episode 1: Our American Stories

Mark your calendars and set your DVRs. The latest Gates series, the 10-part “Finding Your Roots,” premieres Sunday at 8 pm on PBS, and it's easily his most ambitious says the New York Times. All I know is there is another great genealogy show that promises to inspire the masses to trace their ancestry. Check out the preview:

Watch Preview on PBS. See more from Finding Your Roots.

On Sunday evenings beginning March 25, Henry Louis Gates Jr. returns for his fourth season on PBS with Finding Your Roots. With a format that blends two notables each week and places greater emphasis on genetic discoveries, this series will peek into the past of 20 high profile individuals: Kevin Bacon, Tyra Banks, Cory Booker, Angela Buchdahl, Geoffrey Canada, Margaret Cho, Harry Connick, Jr., Robert Downey, Jr., Sanjay Gupta, Samuel L. Jackson, John Legend, John Lewis, Branford Marsalis, Yasir Qadhi, Condoleezza Rice, Michelle Rodriguez, Kyra Sedgwick, Martha Stewart, Barbara Walters and Rick Warren. And yes, in case you're wondering, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick are cousins, so the six
-degrees phenomenon will definitely be on display.


One celebrity, Wanda Sykes recently discovered her colonial family history. One of her ancestors, Elizabeth Banks was an indentured servant who received Thirty-nine lashes “well laid” on her bare back and an extension of her indentured servitude was Elizabeth Banks’ punishment for “fornication & Bastardy with a negroe slave.” Click link below to see full New York Times article.

Watch full episode below:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Slave Marriages

During slavery, most slaves were not able to legally marry since they were considered property and therefore less than human. They were however, in many cases encouraged by slave-owners to informally marry since it was believed that married men was less likely to be rebellious or to run away. Also, the slavemaster felt that marriage meant the procreation of children and some even offered freedom to slaves who produced at least 15 children.

This is a sad and awful truth that many of our ancestors had to endure. In addition, since slave marriages had no legal standing, it meant no protection from the abuses and restrictions imposed on them by slaveowners. Slave husbands and wives, without legal recourse, could be separated or sold at their master's will.

Couples who resided on different plantations were often only allowed to visit with the consent of their owners. However, in some of the slave narratives that I have read, some men preferred it that way. As John Anderson explained, "I did not want to marry a girl belonging to my own place, because I knew I could not bear to see her ill-treated." Moses Grandy agreed he wrote: "no colored man wishes to live at the house where his wife lives, for he has to endure the continual misery of seeing her flogged and abused without daring to say a word in her defence." As Henry Bibb pointed out, "If my wife must be exposed to the insults and licentious passions of wicked slave-drivers and overseers. Heaven forbid that I should be compelled to witness the sight."

Most slaves married without the benefit of clergy but instead the marriage ceremony was often performed by other family members and only with the master's permission.

It also was not like the other traditional marriages that took place during that time. Instead, most slaves "jumped the broom." This was a practice in which the couple before being pronounced as man and wife, they literally jumped over one or in some cases 2 brooms, one for each person into the land of "holy matrimony."

These were the lucky ones, some marriages consisted only of the slaves simply getting the master's permission and moving into a cabin together." Hence, comes the term, "shacking up."

After emancipation, a lot of slaves became legally married even though by that time, they often already had a house full of kids.

The federal government also established the Freedmen's Bureau to help former slaves get established in the society as free men. One of the services provided by the Bureau was to record marriages that had taken place during slavery.

Several of my own ancestors did just that even though in a lot of cases, they already had grown kids.

These are some couples that  became legally married after slavery ended:

1. Oliver and Edy Williams Clayton "re-married" 7/24/1869 in Caddo parish after slavery ended and they already at least 3 children at this time. The oldest known was 8 years old so they had been together at least that long.

2. Levi and Mary Clay Green renewed their vows on September 24, 1872 in Bossier Parish. At that time, they had about 8 kids.

3. David and Mariah Pressley Hines (Hinds) exchanged their vows again on April 1, 1873 in DeSoto Parish. They already had at least 3 children at that time and another (My g-grandpapa Isam) on the way.

We have definitely come a long way from back then and we are truly blessed for having come so far. It must have meant a lot for these former slave couples to legalize their marriages.

However, I believe that in the eyes of God, they were already bonded and their love and commitment to each other and their families are eternal!

One of the places you can find marriages for your ancestors, log onto and search marriages for your state and county. If the marriage records for your area are not digitized, contact your County or Parish Clerk of Court. These are usually inexpensive to order.

Click on the image below to see a testimony of the joy the formerly enslaved when they legally married!

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Black Loyalists were former slaves or free negroes who in exchange for the promise of freedom by the British Government during the American Revolutionary War, promised to fight against the American Colonies.  In an effort to fortify the British forces, some  Generals issued proclamations declaring that slaves who joined the British Armies would be freed despite threats from outraged Virginia slave owners who decreed that runaway slaves would be executed.

Slavery in England had been abolished in 1772 after a decision from Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice of the King's Bench, but this decision did not apply in the colonies.

The Black recruits formed regiments such as the Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment, Sir Clinton's Black Pioneers, Jersey Shore Volunteers, the King's American Dragoons, the Jamaica Rangers, and the Mosquito Shore Volunteers. Many of these regiments won key battles.

However, as history records it, the British lost the War to the Americans and unfortunately many former British Black Loyalists were returned to their former Masters or sold back into slavery. In addition, the approximate 2500 slaves of White Loyalists, remained slaves until 1834 when slavery ended in the entire British Empire. Hence, the British did not hold up to their end of the bargain that they made to these former slaves.

However, some generals were insistent that the former Black British soldiers be rewarded for their service. There were over 3,000 free African Americans who migrated to Nova Scotia primarily and are listed in the Book of Negroes, a book that documents the Black Loyalists. In 1793, these Blacks were taken to Florida, Nova Scotia and England as free men and women. Their names were recorded in the "Book of Negroes" by General Carleton. The group of refugees who arrived in Nova Scotia were the largest group of people of African descent to arrive there at any one time. Included in the "Book of Negroes" was a Mary Braveboy. Braveboy is one of my ancestral names on the paternal side of my family tree. Mary was aged 44 at the time of her relocation and she traveled on the ship,"Thames Abraham Ingram," to St. Johns River which in New Brunswick.

From many of these free and enslaved Africans descended the Black Canadian culture which exists today. They have made a significant impact on the Canadian culture. There is documented evidence, that game of Hockey was created by descendants of these Africans. The story is documented in George and Darril Fosty's book,"Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes." They populated towns such as Halifax, Annapolis, Birchtown, Shelburne and New Brunswich.

However, after the war many Black Loyalists were evacuated to London and were included in the population of the Black Poor. About 4,000 of these former Black Loyalists migrated to Sierra Leone in 1787 and about 1100 more migrated there directly from Canada and are known as the Nova Scotian settlers. Today, their descendants are known as the Sierra Leone Creole people of Freetown, Sierra Leone.

These Black Warriors had a very proud history. They demonstrated tremendous bravery in their quest for freedom although for many, it never came.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Henry Louis Gates finds his Ancestry thru DNA

Q&A: Henry Louis Gates Jr. on the Mysteries of His Genome

The Harvard professor and PBS host reveals his ancestry

Photograph by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Dubois Institute for African & American Studies, used genetic analysis to explore his ancestry—and those of Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock, and others—for the PBS television series African American Lives. In March he returns to the subject with a new series called Finding Your Roots, which features such celebrities as Barbara Walters, Martha Stewart, and Robert Downey Jr. As I did for a feature in this week’s issue, Gates had his own genome sequenced. Here he discusses his unexpected heritage, his health, and how genetic data made him cry.

Why did you have your genome sequenced?
Ever since I watched Roots, I’ve dreamed of tracing my African ancestry and helping other people do the same. I was also trying to solve the mystery of why my father’s father looked so white that we called him “Casper” behind his back, because he looked like a ghost.

Was genome sequencing your first foray into genealogy?
No, I’ve been able to trace my genealogy with paper records back into the 18th century. It turns out one of my ancestors fought in the Continental Army, so I was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution. I’ve used a company called African Ancestry to try to identify what part of Africa my people came from. And I’ve had analyses from and that look for signature sequences in your DNA, called haplotypes, which can pinpoint what part of the world your distant ancestors come from.

So what did you find?
It turns out that I’m descended on my mother’s side from a white woman who was impregnated by a black slave, and on my father’s side from an Irishman who conceived with a black woman named Jane Gates. I have an Irish haplotype called Ui Neill that goes back to some fifth century king. I was searching for African roots, and they led to an African kingdom called the United Kingdom.

What did your genome sequencing add to that?
My father and I made genetics history. We were the first African-Americans and the first father and son anywhere to have their genomes sequenced. You get half of your genome from each of your parents, so [Harvard genetics professor George Church] subtracted out my father’s DNA, and that gave us a partial reconstruction for the genome of my mother, who died in 1987 at the age of 70. You might ask, What could be so emotional about seeing a bunch of colors on a bar graph? But it was like seeing my mother recreated in a most intimate way. My father cried and I was moved to tears as well.

What did you learn about your health?
I didn’t find anything alarming. My father lived to be 97 and played bridge every day up to the end, so I’ve got a 50 percent chance of living a long life like him.

Lauerman is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Since 1790 to the year 2010, the United States Government has collected census information every 10 years to document the people residing in the country at the time of the enumeration.

However, there is a 72 year privacy act so currently census records are only available until 1930 but the 1940 census will be released on April 2, 2012.

In genealogy, these records are a valuable resource for reconstructing the lives of your ancestors. The reason why is that each census schedule represents a point in time or chapter in the lives of the people listed on the schedules. Each record tells a story about the person(s), where they were and to a great extent who they were.

While the early census schedules only listed the head of household, subsequent ones also list the other members of the household.

It is important to point out that census records from 1790 to 1860 only listed free persons. Hence, most African Americans unless they were free persons of color were not listed in the Southern states. Most were not enumerated until 1870 census, 5 years after slavery ended. However, if you are African American, you should always check the prior census  records anyway since your ancestors may have been a free person of color or non-black person.  Also, for certain Northeast states such as Vermont, freedom came early as 1777 for African Americans so again it is important determine when slavery ended in the state where your ancestors resided.

So what can these records tell you? A whole lot. There is a wealth of history hidden in these records.

You can learn the paternity of known ancestors will may enable you to locate different branches of your family. You can also find out when your ancestors were born, where and some census records give the birth places of their parents. The names of their spouse and children, their ages and  their birth order are also provided on most census records.

You can also learn the occupations of the members of the household and whether they were educated.  The location where your family was living and whether or not the Head of Household owned or rented property is documented on most census records.

Again, census records are like a snapshot of your ancestors lives at a particular point in time. By locating them on multiple census  records over the span of their lives, you can follow the progression  and changes that occur over time with their family structure. Review of a series of records on a particular family can reveal a newly married couple, a growing family with a few children, a household full of children, the children leaving home to start their own family, empty nesters and finally widowed spouses.

Below is excerpt from a census schedule:

Hence, if you are interested in finding out about your family history, census records are a good place to start. These records are available on a variety of websites including and

Karen Burney

Latest Videos « Good Day Sacramento


Tuesday, February 21, 2012



Genealogy Databases
The Sacramento Public Library subscribes to the following genealogy database:Ancestry Library EditionThe Ancestry Library Edition database is available for in-library use only at any Sacramento Public Library location. You can access it by clicking on the "Research Tools" link on the library's online catalog page, and going to the "Do It Yourself" section.  It is free to access and the first 5 pages are free to print at ALL county libraries.

At the heart of Central Library’s genealogy programming is an extensive collection of non-circulating genealogy books and periodicals, covering a wide range of family history subjects. The materials in this collection, mostly belonging to the Genealogical Association of Sacramento, are available for use during library open hours on the 2nd floor in the Genealogy Center.

In support of this collection, Central Library offers the following services:

Upcoming Genealogy Events
Book a Genealogist
Beginning Genealogy Classes Genealogy Computer Classes
Spring Genealogy Lecture Programs
Lectures Given by Genealogy Specialists.
Central Library is pleased to offer ten free genealogy lectures throughout the year, given by genealogy specialists from Northern California. These 1 ½ hour programs are held on Sundays during the months of January, May and September, with a beginning genealogy program held in February. Registration for these programs is preferred, by calling the library at 916-264-2920 or visiting the “Events” section of the library’s website at

The Book a Genealogist Program
Central Library’s volunteer genealogist is available to
meet with you individually at the library to help you get started on or resolve problems with your family history research. Registration is required for these 45-minute appointments. To reserve your appointment time, please call the library at 916-264-2920, visit any branch of the Sacramento Public Library, or go the “Events” section at

Genealogy Computer ClassesThese classes are offered periodically by library staff in the 3rd floor Technology Lab at Central Library. Current topics for these classes include “Introduction to Online Genealogy,” “Introduction to Ancestry Library Edition Database,” and “Social Networking for Genealogists.” For more information or to register for these classes, please call the library at 916-264-2920, or visit the “Events” section at

Online Genealogy Research Guide
The Online Genealogy Research Guide lists websites and contact information for archives, societies and other resources that will help you in your genealogy research.
Sacramento Newspapers on MicrofilmThe Central Library is also the home of a collection of archived newspapers that are relevant to the Sacramento area, including the Sacramento Bee and the Sacramento Union. Issues of these two newspapers dating back to the 1850s are available on microfilm at the 3rd floor Periodicals desk at the Central Library.

The Sacramento Room
The Sacramento Room, located on the 2nd floor of the Central Library, offers resources to genealogists doing Sacramento and California research. Sacramento Room collection highlights include Sacramento city and county histories, city directories, school yearbooks, maps, photographs and books by local authors.

If you have questions about Central Library's genealogy programs, please contact the library by calling 916-264-2920, or send an e-mail message to


Sacramento Regional Family History Center

 2745 Eastern Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95821

HOURS: M 10-4pm, T 10-9pm, W 10-6:30, TH 10-9:00pm, F 10-4:00 pm

The Center has free online access to the following subscription websites:,, 19th Century British Library Newspapers Digital Archive, Newspaper Archives, Alexander Street Press – American Civil War Research Data, FindMyPast, Fold3 (formerly Footnote), The Genealogist, Genline Family Finder
Godfrey Memorial Library, Heritage Quest Online, Historic Map Works Library Edition
Paper Trail, World Vital Records and more.

Cost of printing is only ten cents a copy OR bring a flashdrive to save research

ORDER Microfilm

Family History Research Classes are conducted on Wednesday afternoons at 2:00pm-3:30 pm and Wednesday evenings 7:00pm-8:00pm. You can register at the Center or call 487-2090.

The Center conducts a “Writers Workshop” at 5:00 pm on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. You can register at the Center or call 487-2090.

The Sacramento German Genealogical Society provides research assistance with tracing German ancestors every Thursday from 1:00pm-5:00pm in the Center.

For more information, go to the following link:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Here are 50 genealogy websites for you to explore your roots. Most are free but some are paid. Combined, they provide a vast variety of research databases. Happy hunting!

1. – Millions of names in 250,000 pages, along with links to free data; especially useful for Native American information, and some data.

2. African American research site with various records and resources

3. $ – (New) The new name for the NEHGS website and their 3,000 databases. 

4. – Free genealogy search engine linking to free data.

5. $ - is the leading genealogical data site, and includes articles, instruction, and reference help.

6. - Share genealogy research, community pages, family photos & records more for free.

7. $ – A major new subscription data site, launched in July 2009 and already with more than a billion names.  

8. - Links to free census records.

9. - A large free queries website.

10. – The best subject catalog of genealogy webpage links.  - Site of the largest lineage society; includes their library catalog and 32 million name index.

12. - Lists of links to United States death records, by state.

13. - An online archive of genealogy records and images of historical documents.

14. - Database of 24 million New York passenger arrivals that is free to search. Actual passenger list images can be printed or purchased.

15. - Less than four years old and full of instruction and guidance for genealogists.

16. $ - One of the most popular FaceBook applications helps people identify and network with their family and search billions of records.

17. - This major data website sponsored by the LDS Church includes the IGI, census records, the library’s catalog and a growing collection of historical records from throughout the world, along with instruction and reference help.

18. - DNA testing service focused upon family history test types.

19.  – (New) Website for popular magazine that includes shopping, links, and research tools.

20. - Homepage for's genealogical software. - This database of 57 million cemetery inscriptions adds about a million per month and often includes tombstone photos.$ - (Back in) 650 million British records of many types [formerly]. $ - In conjunction with the U.S. National Archives, Footnote offers data, original records images, and more. $ - A major data site, includes family trees, instruction and reference help. $ - 1 billion exclusive records from 4500 newspapers and historical books. – A free genealogy search site with hundreds of data sources. – 50,000 links to free sites, arranged by state and county. - Includes instruction, reference articles, and some unique data collections. - Five year old site with free U.S. data contributed by volunteers.  - (Back in) A European collection of 400 million names in family trees, community, and submitted records. - A DNA ancestry cataloguing project with 675,000 users. – Free, with the world’s largest collaborative family.

33. Large collection of genealogical information pages for England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man. $ - Census, PERSI (the periodical index), books, all free to you at many libraries $ - Grassroots created data site with compiled family trees, and some extracted records. (29>22>19) – Nine million genealogy links organized by state/county and surname. - Hosts family websites for sharing photos, genealogy, and more. - Focuses on genealogy community building and networking. – (New) A directory of obituary databases and archives on the web.

40. State-by-state directory of obituaries and obituary resources.$ - A family tree sharing and collaboration website. - Comprehensive source of U.S. political biography that tells where many dead politicians are buried. – (New) Free family history messaging forum with almost 3 million mostly UK messages. – One of the largest, free, user-contributed data sites, includes 575 million names in family trees, also instruction and reference help. - Interactive directory of free genealogy websites and data. – A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of Europe. - Family trees hosting with 300,000 members and 80 million names.  - Historical and genealogical web hosting service. – A large collection of free data, arranged by state and searchable across the entire collection. $ - The data collection provided by Family Link, with over a billion records, as well as instruction and reference help.