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Monday, September 17, 2012

Useful Calendar Tools

I spend a lot of time looking a parish records in Norway from 1700-1900 AD. Many of the older records name the liturgical name for that particular Sunday instead of the calendar date. This requires some interpretation and the following is a description of what I have used in the past. I previously posted this to the Trondelag listserv at and on Dick Eastman's member pages.

If you are struggling with date conversions as I have many times, try these bookmarks.

I keep these bookmarks handy when I am looking at the digitized parish records. They are very handy for figuring out dates. Sometimes I have to go back or forwards a few records to find a recognizable liturgical date, but then I can usually figure out which date I need. For example, I might find a baptism a few records back that occurred on Palm Sunday, and then be able to figure that the Sundays after refer to Easter, Misericordia Domini (1st Sunday after), Jubilate (2nd Sunday after), Cantate (3rd Sunday after), etc. It seems a good portion of the year is counted by the numbers of Sunday after Trinity so often you can count from there.

This bookmark lists the liturgical/ecclesiastical dates and their meanings:

This bookmark lists when the 
liturgical/ecclesiastical dates occur in any given year (Click on the Back to Ecclesiastical Calendar to get to the year entry form):

And finally, this bookmark gives a one page calendar for any given year. It's very handy for counting those dates like 15th Sunday after Trinity. You simply choose a year and click Make Calendar (in the current webpage layout, it is the very top choice on the page). You get a printable one-page calendar in a new window. 

The link above is great for figuring out dates in other cases also, for example, when looking at news articles where you know the publish date and the article refers to next Tuesday as the day for a funeral service, it is easy to figure out what the actual date is the article is referring to.

Since I posted these links a few years ago, I have found an app, called RC Calendar which claims to be a liturgical calendar from 1970 to 2300 and beyond. I found that it seems to be equally good before 1970 even by a few hundred years. I haven't done a huge sampling to check the dates but I am satisfied so far with its calculations. This app works on iPhones and iPads and it looks like it is made for other mobile devices also.

I wish you good luck figuring out those dates!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Finding Treasures at

I love books of all kinds but I especially love books about family history. I have a few sites that I visit to find books but I love I have found too many books there and I usually have to pull several out of my shopping cart before I check out. describes themselves this way:
"Launched in 1996, AbeBooks is an online marketplace where you can buy new, used, rare and out-of-print books, as well as cheap textbooks. We connect you with thousands of professional booksellers around the world and millions of books are listed for sale. Shopping on AbeBooks is easy, safe and 100% secure - search for your book, purchase a copy via our secure checkout process and the bookseller ships it straight to you." 

A recent find for me was for a little town in Brookings County, South Dakota called Sinai. I was aware there was a history book. I even had copies of of some pages that related to my family in that area. But for some reason, I still wanted to see the book. I tried to find it in libraries and online but was not having luck. Then I checked back with and one day it was there. I quickly ordered it and was not disappointed.

Paging through the book I found a large photo of my grandfather. He was listed as the coach of a local young man's baseball team in the 1935.

If you have a lot of family in one specific location, a county or town history might give you a lot of information. They can be particularly good for finding women's maiden names, where families moved from or to, or other hard-to-find information. Like all "found" information, it needs to be verified. But these local history books certainly point you in the right direction.

The Sinai History Book is new enough that it is still under copyright and not available anywhere as a free digital download. But that is something to keep in mind when you are looking for books that you are interested in. And that is a topic for another day.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Unexpected Gems - Find A Grave

One of my go-to sites of late has been Find A Grave. This site, with the help of graveyard enthusiasts and garden-variety genealogists (like me), just keeps getting better and better.

I've had occasion to use it as a source for birth, death, marriage or other events several hundred times in my family file. What I love is when I find someone has posted a picture. Sometimes it is just a picture of the cemetery entrance, sometimes it is a picture of the headstone of the person I am looking for. But sometimes, it is a picture of the person, their family, or even their obituary.

The obituary can lead me to finding even more information about other family members and is a priceless find whenever it happens.

If there isn't a photograph of the headstone, you can put in a request for one. I recently joined the site as I feel I have used it so much I should give back. One way of giving back is to review photo requests that are in your area. If you enjoy tramping through cemeteries and finding the headstone you are searching for, this area of volunteerism may be for you, too.

The site has a fabulous list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and is worth going through. Here is an example on one question and answer, in an area that I continually try to improve on: providing sources for my data in my family file.

From the Find A Grave website FAQs:
How do I cite Find A Grave in a bibliography?
Please feel free to cite Find A Grave in your bibliographies, lists of references, etc. in whatever format you deem appropriate. Please note that, while Jim Tipton is the creator of Find A Grave, he is not the author of all of the content. If the information you are referencing includes a "bio by XXXXXXX" line, please cite that author as well. 
Sample citation: Bio Author. "Web Page Title". Find A Grave. Date of (your) access.
Sample citation: Bio Author. "John Doe". Find A Grave. 6-1-2008.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Making Time for Research

I have set myself a very lofty goal: I will create a book showing the genealogy for each of my children's great-grandparents. That amounts to eight books. I have almost finished one, complete with many photos, stories, newspaper articles and, of course, the documented genealogy. But that leaves seven to go.

There are many obstacles: only one of the eight families has more than just a couple of photos. Two of the great-grandfathers died young and so the stories they had are long forgotten. Travel for research is limited. But the greatest obstacle is T-I-M-E.

I normally don't spend a lot of time researching in the summer as I spend time golfing, fishing, reading and hanging out at the cabin. This past summer I started something a little different. I started spending my time at the breakfast table doing some genealogy as well.

I don't try to do any in-depth data entry or source work. But I might find a site or two online that has good information about one of my eight families. Then when I come back to spend a little more time, at night or on the weekend, I have a list of sites marked to go back and review.

So this blog is my "research log," if you will, of sites that I have found proven to be valuable to me in my research. Sometimes little treasures come in the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times.