Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Restriction on Social Security Records

As of November 1, 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that requested Death Master File data will no longer contain protected state death records. Posted on genealogist Megan Smolenyak's Roots World blog, the SSA will block out parents' names on the requested form if the Social Security applicant was born less than 100 years ago and if one does not provide proof that the parents are deceased.  Thus, it is possible only to obtain parents' records for those applicants born prior to 1912. Death certificates may have to be sought from some far-ranging locations in some cases.  Some of the 40% of Americans of Ellis Island heritage will be negatively affected in terms of learning the names of parents of immigrants in order to extend their research overseas. This information is an alert for anyone preparing to spend $27 to obtain such records.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

1940 Census free online starting April 2, 2012

In a press release dated November 17, 2011, has announced that it has been chosen by NARA to provide the public with free digital access to the 1940 Federal Population Census beginning on April 2, 2012.
The 1940 Census will be available to the public April 2, 2012 at 9:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time) on a new website created in collaboration between and the National Archives.The collection will consist of 3.8 million images that the National Archives scanned from over four thousand rolls of microfilm. Public access to the images will not require payment or registration, and will be available to any person with internet access. The name and web address of the website will be announced at a later date.
Searching those 3.8 million images may prove challenging at first. According to the press release, “At launch, researchers will be able to search the 1940 Census by address, Enumeration District (ED), and geographic location. Researchers will be able to browse images by ED number directly, or use address or geographic information to locate the appropriate census schedule."

Although no name index will be available at launch, has indicated they will “provide its members access to a fully searchable name index on its website in 2012.” currently maintains an information and roll-out status page titled U.S Census 1940. It provides background information on the 1940 Census and a number of useful links for preparing for your research.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Date for Roberta Bratti Service

In the previous posting, the date for the visitation/memorial and the service for Roberta Bratti was inadvertently left out.  The date for these is Wednesday, November 9, 2011.  We apologize for the omission.

Roberta Bratti Passes Away

We are sad to announce the passing of long-time loyal Society member, Roberta Bratti, who passed away on Sunday, November 6th. Roberta contributed significantly to the Society, having been one of the first members back in 1971 when the Society began.  She is remembered as energetic, vitally interested in genealogy, a fine writer of genealogy, and engaged in many aspects of Society activities.  She co-authored the 3-volume set known as Dennis Vital Records among her other writings, and was also active in the early establishment of a Computers in Genealogy Special Interest Group and on the Publications Committee--insisting on quality standards for anything which the Society produced.

Visitation and memorial will be from 1 to 3pm at Hallett's Funeral Home, at 273 Station Avenue, Yarmouth, near Route 28. The funeral will be from 3 to 4pm there.  We honor her memory and all that she accomplished for the Society.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

German genealogy aids : Featured library resource for November 2011

Our library has a few select resources for those of us with German-speaking ancestors.  The most comprehensive is In search of your German roots, 4th ed. (2001) by Angus Baxter.  This small volume is one of several penned by this author, a noted genealogy expert who died in 2005, covering different ethnic/national areas (we also have the Canadian volume).  It addresses the far-flung history of the Germanic peoples who had significant populations in many countries, and includes separate chapters on Germans in the US and Canada, as well as Jewish records, and the Lutheran Church.  Many archives and record repositories in Germany are listed.

A short history of German place names by Harry Davis (3d edition, 1978) is a charming booklet summarizing the history of German speaking areas with particular attention to the place names characteristic for each historical period or social development.  It has a short list of selected place names explicating their meaning, and a page of “common elements” of place names, such as “au” meaning low area.

Where to look for hard-to-find German-speaking ancestors in Eastern Europe by Bruce Brandt is subtitled “Index to 16,372 surnames in 13 books.”  It covers German populations in Eastern European countries including Poland, Russia, Austria and Romania.  The author includes an order form for further information about the names listed.

In addition, volume 1 of the two notebooks of handouts from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (located above the Research Guides book cabinet) contains the following:
            Germany research outline
            Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934
            Handwriting guide: German Gothic
            German genealogical word list
            German letter writing guide

Of course, Ancestry has indexed many records from Germany and German-speaking countries, as has Family Search.  German states and parishes are increasingly putting records online as well.  As Angus Baxter remarks in the introduction to his book, “[the German-speaking peoples’] passion for order is a priceless legacy” for their descendents.