Friday, February 24, 2012

Storing my Genealogy Research

File:Stack of Copy Paper.jpg

[Image by Jonathan Joseph Bondhus]

Marian Pierre-Louis of the Roots and Rambles Blog has been discussing the format she keeps her genealogical information in (with a follow-up on paper vs. digital) and how it relates to reviewing and analyzing your research.

I seem to follow the same basic pattern she does.  My information is stored as follows: 

  • Print outs in sheet protectors in 3-ring binders, divided by family. 
    • This includes pedigree and family group sheets, vital records, census records and obituaries.  These print outs go into the binder  upon entry into my genealogy program.
  • Legacy Family Tree genealogy program
    • Used to keep track of all of my information in an easy to see format.  This is particularly useful for distant cousins who I have limited information on, such as census records.  Also on my laptop are digital copies of all records I have used which are in a folder and tagged with metadata on the family and record type.
  • Microsoft OneNote
    • This allows me to make research plans, type out conclusions and show my methodology into my findings (particularly when using GPS).  This is one of the areas I need to focus on more this year.

Why do I have so many ways of keeping my information? 

  1. In order to do any type of analysis, I need the papers out in front of me.  I am very much a paper person and see more when I can look at and hold the item in my hands.  The papers also allow me to spread out a large amount of documents in front of me to compare information.  These are all things I cannot do easily with digital copies.
  2. There is an ease of looking at the conclusive information in a genealogical program and of looking at my thought process in a word processing program (my writing is awful…) that is not available on paper.  I can easily update a birthdate and reprint a new family group sheet much easier than I could re-write one (and with much less possibility of error).  By tagging research logs and reports I can find all the work I have done on an individual or family.
  3. One of my favorite things to do with the information I find is to show it to my family.  Although we could all gather around my laptop, it is so much more enjoyable to flip through a binder on the family and look at all of the documents relating to our ancestors life.

What format do you keep your research in?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

39 Days and Counting!

I am very excited to have been chosen as a 1940 US Census Blog Ambassador!

In 39 days the 1940 US census will be released to the public.  If you are anything like me, most (all?) of your census research has been through on sites such as  These census records have been digitized and indexed and make it tremendously easy to find your ancestors.

When the 1940 US census images come online on 2 April, they will just be images, no index, no ease in searching.  This is where you can help!  Sign up to be an indexer and you will help create an index for all researchers to use.  Sign up now to get some practice by indexing other records through FamilySearch Indexing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Motivational Monday: 20 Feb 2012

Some goals for this week:


  • Finish searching the SSDI for relatives

  • Continue with Karpinski & Szydlik research plans


  • Post 3 times to my blog

  • Write up a research plan for my Sanderson relatives


  • Spend 1 hour putting genealogy papers into their proper binders

  • Finish organizing my spare bedroom


  • Read Going Home

  • Reread ProGen chapters on research plans

Saturday, February 18, 2012

SNGF: Ancestral Name Roulette

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun by Randy at Genea-Musings is:

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) What year was your paternal grandfather born?  Divide this number by 100 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."

2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ancestral name list (some people call it an "ahnentafel"). Who is that person?

3) Tell us three facts about that person in your ancestral name list with the "roulette number."

4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook status or a Google Stream post, or as a comment on this blog post.

5) If you do not have a person's name for your "roulette number" then spin the wheel again - pick a grandmother, or yourself, a parent, a favorite aunt or cousin, or even your children!

My roulette number is:

1) 1933/100=19.33 rounded to 19

2) Number 19 on my ancestral name list is Jozefa "Josephine" Szydlik (1886-1973), my great-great grandmother.

3) ---She was born somewhere in Poland on 26 Sep 1886.  I just ordered her SS-5 and am hoping for the exact place of birth in the next 20 business days;-)

---She was married to Franciszek "Francis" "Frank" Karpinski and they had 6 children, Florence, Thaddeus, Genowefa, Roman, Stanislawa and Alfreda.

---Her parents were Thomas Szydlik and Barbara (last name unknown) and she had at least two siblings, sister's Stefania and Apolania.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness Day


According to GeneaBlogger's, today is Random Acts of Kindness Day.  There are multitude of ways to practice random acts of kindness.  I am a big fan of paying the toll for the car behind me on the highway.  Over the holidays, we had a huge chain of people paying for the next person in line's drink through the drive-thru at work, with one guy paying triple his drink cost to keep the chain going.

In genealogy, some of my favorite ways to help people out are through taking tombstone photos in an area they are unable to get to.  I have been a volunteer with and Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (now a Facebook group) and have helped dozens of other genealogists by taking photos of tombstones in the Syracuse area.  I highly recommend participating in one of these types of programs, as it gives good genealogy research karma and helps you with your research practices.

Have you ever participated in a random act of kindness?  How will you be celebrating it today?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Finding the Karpinski Family: Step 3, The Cursory Online Search, Part 1

Please check out step 1 and step 2, if you have not already read them.

Step 3

You now have all of your information together and have spoken to any relatives related to your subject search, it is now time to broaden your horizons to the internet.  Every month, more and more information is placed online for genealogists, saving us time and money.   Additionally, despite what shows such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” show, most genealogists do not have the money to jump on a plane and go to the archives of a small village in their homeland.  Many of those archives will also tell you that their information is available online or through the LDS Family History Centers.  Traveling to distant (and not so distant) locales and seeing where your ancestors lived and worked is rewarding and enjoyable, but it is best to start at home and expand as needed.

Time for a Research Log

Over the course of your research you will look at hundreds of websites, books and documents.  Some of these will have information you want or need and some will not.  It is important to keep track of these items so you do not repeat your search and so that you have the correct source citations for every piece of information you have.  Often times, what you do not find in a document is just as important as what you do.

This is where a research log comes in.  There are a variety of research logs you can find on the internet and in genealogy books and programs.  Programs such as excel, RefWorks or EverNote also work for this purpose.  I prefer to keep all of my information in the notes section of my genealogy program.  The best research logs is the one that you will actually keep up with.  Start this at the beginning of your research and you will be ahead of 99% of the other genealogists I have met.

The Cursory Online Search: Recommended Sites

There are a billion websites which change daily; how do you know where to start?  Some of my favorite sites to begin looking at are:

You can search for a surname (particularly if it is an unusual one), a person’s full name or something such as “surname AND genealogy” “surname AND Buffalo, New York” or “surname AND birth year”.  Make sure to check out advanced search options and to view the help or FAQ for Boolean search options, which are different for every site.

My Cursory Online Searches

The Cursory Online Search: Karpinski

The Cursory Online Search: Szydlik

Tombstone Tuesday: My Favorite Cemetery Photograph

This month's Graveyard Rabbits Carnival asks:

“What is your favorite cemetery photograph.  One where you are the photographer. Show us the photo!”

My favorite cemetery photograph I have taken is not of a tombstone, but these stairs in the The Old Loyalist Burial Grounds in Saint John, New Brunswick.  With how the sunlight hits the stairs and is in the background, it makes it look like you could walk right into heaven.  For a few more photos from this cemetery, check out this post.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Who Will You Look for in the 1940 Census?

Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog asked "When the 1940 census becomes available in April, who will you look up first?"

Since this is the first census my grandparents will be on, I will search for them first.  The very first person will be my grandma Casell, as she has been with me every step of the way on this genealogy journey and I know how excited she will be as well to see herself on the census.  After that, I will look for my paternal grandparents, which will probably be easiest to find, since they lived in small towns and then my grandpa Casell, who was in the orphanage by this point, so should be very easy to find as well.

After this, I will start looking for my great-great grandparents who were still living at this time: Elizabeth Fink Gress, Joseph Acquard, jr., Francis and Josephine (Szydlic) Karpinski, John and Anna (Zeaphfel) Nuwer and Edward and Lidwina (Pautler) Roll.  I will probably wait on other relatives until the indexing is done, at least in the city of Buffalo.  For some of the small towns, I expect to come upon them a bit easier, but we shall see.

I have also signed up to help transcribe the census through the 1940 Census Project and hope you will, too!

Finding the Karpinski Family: Step 2, Talking to the Family

Please read Step 1 first.

Step 2

The second step of the research process is talking to family members about your subject.  If you are brand new to genealogy, you will want to interview as many family members as possible, starting with the oldest (I know this sounds morbid, but these are the people who have the most information about past generations and who will likely become a past generation first).  Additionally, no one wants to replicate another’s research, as this would be a waste of both time and money, so by taking the time to speak to your relatives and do a cursory online search (step 3), you will limit this.

Talking to the Family

For this project, the only person I know to speak to is my great aunt Dottie.  She has done a lot of research on the Acquard family and is where I received the information on the Karpinski’s.  The information I received via email was:

“Here's the info I have on your great-grandmothers (Stella Karpinski Acquard) mother and father.

Francis (Francixaek) Karpinski (Karpinska) born September 16, 1880 in Poland and Died May 22, 1943 married to Josephine (Zozefa) Szydlik who was born September 26, 1886 in Poland and died April 4, 1973 in Warsaw NY.  Both are buyed[sic] in St. Joseph's cemetery on Rt. 16 in Holland NY. There headstone reads S.P. Mama Josefa 1886-1973 and S.P. Ojciec Franciszek 1880-1943 Karpinska.  He died of cancer and she died of asthma.  He had a brother Stephen. I do not know who his parents were.  Hopefully, you can find some information on him.

Josephine Szydlik Karpinski's parents were Thomas & Barbara Szydlik.  I do not have any other info on them.

Josephine had 2 sisters that I know of Stepania Szydlik who married with last name Stankiewicz.  No first name known.  Her other sister Apolania born in 1892 in Poland and married with last name Kaczanowski.  She died January 4, 1963 in North Collins NY.

In 1987 I received a letter from Apolonio Stankiewicz

address: ulico.Wojsko, Polskiego 37/20; 77-100 Bytow; woj. Stupsk.  She is a cousin that used to write to my Mom.  However, she writes in Polish and I can't read or write it so I had a terrible time communicating with her.    I also have an name and address for Barbara Stelmaszczyk, ul. Krabowska 14; 42-600 Tarnowskie Gory; Polska .  I have a picture of a girl from 1957 with the name Picowszs Kaminia.

Good Luck.  Not sure if any of these people are alive but their children or grandchildren should be.”

One email and I have a lot more information.  Things to look into:

  • Visiting the cemetery in Holland next time I am visiting Buffalo to see the gravestone mentioned.  I can also see what info the cemetery has on the family.

  • Josephine’s sister’s first and married names and some of their children’s names

  • Francis’s brother’s name

  • More spellings of first and last names.  Need to look at a Polish genealogy book for some standards.

  • Addresses in Poland.  Finding hometowns in the ancestral country can be difficult, this should help.

Our next step will be a cursory search of this family online tomorrow.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

SNGF: Two Degrees of Separation

For this weeks Saturday Night Genealogy Fun by Randy Seaver:

1)  Using your ancestral lines, how far back in time can you go with two degrees of separation?  That means "you knew an ancestor, who knew another ancestor."  When was that second ancestor born?

2)  Tell us in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, in a status line on Facebook or a stream post on Google Plus.

Nuwer Line: I remember my great grandpa, Albert Nuwer (1906-1989).  He would have known his grandmother Elizabeth Zwilling Zaepfel, who was born in 1847 and died in 1929.

On the Acquard Line: I have a photo of myself with my great grandma, Stella Karpinski Acquard (1916-1987) and I think I remember going to a dinner with her where we had the most generations in the room (I need to ask my mom about this).  She would have known her parents, born in 1880 and 1886.  I have not yet found her grandparents vital statistics, but it is possible I will be able to push this back.

On my mother's side, all of my great grandparents had passed on before I was born.

For the Whitehead's, however, I do know my great aunt Lois would have met two of her great grandmother's (though not remember said meeting, most likely), Barbara Fleeman Fink who was born in 1846 and died in 1929 and Sophia Passel Gress who was born in 1846 and died in 1928.

On the Casell side, I met my Grandpa Casell (who I do not remember) who would have known his great grandmother Katherine Weiss Eichhorn,who  born 1849 and died in 1936.

This is pretty amazing to think about.

Finding the Karpinski Family: Step 1, What I Know

A new season of Who Do You Think You Are? is on, life here has slowed down after the holidays and I miss genealogy.  In the past, I have always focused on my mother’s family, as I have relatives who have traced my father’s side back many generations.  Looking at my database, however, it is easy to see that not all lines were traced back multiple generations.  One of these lines is the Karpinski’s, my paternal grandfather’s mother’s line.

I am going to document my search for this family on my blog for a variety of reasons.  First, the whole point of a is to show the research I have done, get help for problems I can’t solve (especially since I have never done Polish research before), and hopefully meet cousins.  Second, if you are brand new to genealogical research, this can show you one method a genealogist takes to find their family.  You can follow along, see what conclusions you come to and then use that information to search for your own familySmile

Step 1

Step one for any genealogical search is to start with what you know.  Although it can be easy to say “Well, I heard we are related to *insert famous person here* so let me start with them and connect backwards to my family” or “I have always been curious about my 3rd great grandmother who has the same first name as I do, so I am going to go to and search for her”, these are not the best methods to do historical research.  Always begin with yourself and move backwards through time.

Write down as much information about each person as you can, including vital statistics, alternate name spellings and nicknames (particularly for immigrant ancestors), spouses, children, religion, occupation and organizations they belonged to.  The more you have, the easier it will be to find them in records and to know that you are looking at the right “John Smith”.

What I Know

What you know can be listed in a wide variety of ways.  The most basic way is in a simple list format:

Me: Amanda Acquard Perrine

Father: Dad Acquard (no, that is not his actual first name… I tend to keep that info off my blog for living people)

Grandfather: Theodore Frank Acquard

  • b. 21 Sept 1933, Bennington Center, Wyoming County, New York
  • m. 12 July 1958, Alden, Erie Co., NY
  • d. 29 Nov 2009, Cheektowaga, Erie Co., NY

Great-Grandmother: Stanislawa “Stella” Frances Karpinski

  • b. 6 May 1916, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY
  • m. 28 Dec 1931, Bennington Ctr., Wyoming Co., NY to Florian Dana Acquard
  • d. 26 Jan 1987, Batavia, Genesee Co., NY of Thyroid Cancer
  • buried: Bennington Ctr., Wyoming Co., NY
  • other: 6 children, remarried to Walter John Acquard 30 Aug 1952 in Bennington Ctr. after death of Florian.  Walter was Florian’s brother.

Great-Great Grandparents:

Franciszek “Francis” Karpinski

  • b. 16 Sep 1880, Poland
  • m. Unknown
  • d. 22 May 1942, NY
  • buried: Holland, Erie Co., NY
  • other: 6 children (Florence, Thaddeus, Genowefa, Roman, Stanislawa and Alfreda)

Jozefa “Josephine” Szydlik

  • b. 16 Sep 1886, Poland
  • d. 4 April 1973, Warsaw, Wyoming Co., NY
  • buried: Holland, Erie Co., NY
  • other: Her parents were Thomas Szydlik and Barbara (last name unknown).  They had 3 children (Jozefa, Stefania and Apolania)

As you can see, this can get lengthy and confusing.  As such, genealogists use forms such as pedigree charts, family charts and genealogy programs to keep all of their information organized (I recommend Legacy Family tree, it’s free and tremendously simple to use, but also offers a lot of power).

Here is my pedigree chart for Stella:


Here is a family group sheet for Franciszek:


This is much more organized and easy to understand.  Once these are completed, I print them out and place them in my research binder, along with family group sheets for Stella and for Thomas Szydlik.  The printed sheets also have all of my sources for the information (in this example, all of the information I have was provided to me by my Aunt Dottie).

Now it is time to start researching, starting with your relatives.  Please read about this step tomorrow!

Back to Basic: July

July went quick! GRIP  went virtual! I attended (most) of the sessions in Documentation and then continued my citation work with my ProGen a...