Maritime Occupations in the US Federal Census

How would you react if you discovered your ancestor's occupation was listed as "wharf rat?"In the 1880 US Census, 19 year old Major Thomas living in Mobile, Alabama is called just that! In that particular schedule, young Major was a prisoner in the Mobile County Jail.[1] Without knowing that wharf rat is a term for someone who loads/unloads cargo off ships, you might have come to a different conclusion.


Back in June, I wrote about records specific for researching seafaring ancestors in the United States. However, clues about their occupation can be gleaned from standard genealogical sources that are not specific to maritime life. When searching for sailors, captains, privateers, etc. it's always good to look at the standard genealogical sources before delving into shipping records because researchers more often than not need certain details to find a record of their ancestor on a maritime voyage.

Since 1850, the United States Census has instructed enumerators to note the individual’s occupation, thus these records are direct accounts of what they did for work. I have been curious, though, as to the diversity of maritime occupations in U.S. Census Records because sometimes the occupations they list are unfamiliar. What I also found unusual in learning about maritime trades is how descriptions of occupations are interchanged frequently. For example, a person who was a seaman, sailor, seafarer or a mariner essentially meant the same thing.

As an example, I searched the 1880 US Federal Census on I used Ancestry because the census search form allows you to search by occupation-only if desired. Below are examples of occupations for seafaring ancestors found in the U.S. Census:

  • Boatswain’s/Bosun’s Mate - Boatswain's mates are senior members of a ship’s crew. They supervise members of the ship’s department related to the hull and deck.

  • Customs Collector - Head officer at the customs house. Administered maritime and navigation laws, trade regulations, and protection of American seamen.

  • Inspector of Customs - There was no official title of inspector in the U.S. Customs Service, so this occupation could encompass the other positions of surveyor, weigher, and gauger. These positions were responsible for the collection of duties, assessment of cargo, and confiscation of illegal goods.

  • Longshoreman - A manual laborer who loaded and unloaded cargo off ships. Other names for this occupation that are recorded in the U.S. Census are dock loader, stevedore, lumper, and wharf rat.

  • Master Mariner - A master mariner is not the captain of the ship, but rather he is second in command and the only one eligible to command the ship in the event the captain is unable to.

  • Oiler - A member of the ship’s engine department.

  • Pilot - Pilots were instructed to navigate other ships through hazardous waters outside the port of arrival. They were required to have a substantial knowledge of waterways, inlets, and other landmarks surrounding a particular port.

  • Ship Commercial Agent - Agents for shipping companies consigned or invested in commercial ships and their cargo as insurance for any loss that would be incurred during the voyage.

  • Ship Caulker - Caulkers worked with shipbuilders; they were specifically assigned to making the hull of a ship watertight.

  • Ship Master - The captain of the ship, but could also be the ship’s owner.

  • Shipwright - A builder and repairer of ships. Other terms for this occupation include shipbuilder, ship carpenter, and ship joiner.

Heading farther back in time and across the pond, there are even more peculiar names for occupations that originate in England. While perusing Rodney Hall’s “Index of Old Occupations,” I found some peculiar job titles held by persons in the maritime world. Shipwrights or ship builders used to be called a chippy. A jerquer was an officer at the customs house who searched ships, while a coast waiter surveyed arriving ships and their cargo. How about aquarius ewar, which happens to be a waterman or riverman, someone who ferried passengers across rivers and through tributaries.[2]

Image source: Library of Congress

Many of these terms have faded with history and are no longer in use. The website for the U.S. Census Bureau provides an index for occupations and industry used in the 2010 Census, which provides how various titles for seafarers are described today.[3] It is important for genealogists to investigate occupation titles when we are unsure or they are unfamiliar. In heavily stratified industries such as maritime, these occupations take on very specific roles and we can learn a lot about their day-to-day tasks at sea or in the harbor. Consider the fact also that your ancestor may have to find work elsewhere when the shipping industry was in a slump or on the decline. In 1860, my 3x great-grandfather Owen O’Neill stated his occupation title as sailor[4], but by 1870 he was working as a farmer.[5]

Have these or other peculiar occupation titles appeared in your own research? What sources did you utilize to find out more about their line of work? Learning about your ancestor’s job is a great way to bring his or her story to life.



[1] 1880 US Federal Census, Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama, population schedule, 7th ward, enumeration district (ED) 142, page no. 19, dwelling 112, line 30, Major Thomas; Accessed on (online database: 29 Jan 2016), image 19 of 66; citing NARA microfilm publication T9.

[2] Rodney Hall, “Hall Genealogy Website – Old Occupation Names,” last updated 22 Mar 2015. accessed 6 Feb 2016.

[3] United States Census Bureau, “Industry and Occupation - Indexes,” accessed 6 Feb 2016.

[4] 1860 US Federal Census, San Mateo County, California, population schedule, Belmont post office (Township no.3), p. 39, Eugine [Owen] O’Neill; NARA Publication M653, roll 65.

[5] 1870 US Federal Census, San Mateo County, California, population schedule, Belmont, p.1, dwelling 9, family no. 12, Owen O’Neill; NARA Publication M593, FHL microfilm 545,586.


Jake Fletcher is a genealogist and blogger. Jake has been researching and writing about genealogy since 2008 on his research blog Travelogues of a Genealogist. He currently volunteers as a research assistant at the National Archives in Waltham, Massachusetts and is Vice President of the New England Association of Professional Genealogists (NEAPG).

Starting Your Tennessee Genealogy Research

If you research North Carolina or Virginia ancestors, you will not find it unusual to track your ancestors to Tennessee.  Do you know the best resources and sites to research your Tennessee ancestors?

Starting Your Tennessee Genealogy Research
Original Photo Source: Library of Congress


First Things First

Just as you would with any other new location you are researching, learn about the county and state where your ancestors lived. Research the county and state lines and any boundary changes that may have occurred during the pertinent time period. Refer to this interactive map of Tennessee’s evolving county borders.

TN Map 1826
Source: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division


Tennessee State Library and Archives

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a natural place to start your Tennessee genealogy research. You will find a variety of resource guides and online digital collections. Examples include Searching for Your Ancestors at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Early NC/Tennessee Land Grants, and African American Genealogical Resources.  Be sure and check the Family Bible project and the historic Tennessee map collection, too.  Take time to explore the Tennessee State Library and Archive’s website as you begin researching your Tennessee ancestors.

Another great resource for Tennessee residents is the genealogy tab at the  Tennessee Electronic Library.  You will need to provide Tennessee zip code and phone number to gain access.

Tennessee Records in the State Archives of North Carolina

Initially, part of today’s Tennessee’s eastern counties were part of North Carolina.  In 1784, North Carolina ceded part of their western lands to the federal government, but set aside land for land grants to Revolutionary War veterans. Land grants for these counties can be found in the State Archives of North Carolina. 

Once Tennessee became the 16th state, the county records for those previously North Carolina counties stayed with the county seats. A few early records for these counties were retained in North Carolina.  Refer to the Records relating to Tennessee in the North Carolina State Archives document for a listing of these records.

For a more detailed explanation of the formation of modern day Tennessee including the State of Franklin, go to the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Umbrella Rock - Lookout Mountain
Lookout Mountain, TN Source: Library of Congress


Tennessee Genealogy Databases around the Web

Sometimes in genealogy research, the researcher needs to think outside the box. In other words, get creative in the search for records and resources to further your research and break down those brick walls.   Examples of good resources for the Tennessee genealogist include:

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but a starting point for the researcher with Tennessee ancestors.

You can also start your Tennessee research by watching these webinars by J. Mark Lowe in the Legacy Family Tree Webinars library:

What are YOUR  favorite Tennessee genealogy resources? Tell us in the comments!

Lisa Lisson is a genealogist, blogger and Etsy-prenuer who writes about her never-ending pursuit of ancestors, the “how” of genealogy research and the importance of sharing genealogy research with our families. Specializing in North Carolina and southern Virginia research, she also provides genealogical research services to clients. In researching her own family history, Lisa discovered a passion for oral history and its role in genealogy research. You can find Lisa online at Lisa




Oh Those Dit Names!

Oh those dit names

Have you experienced the problems genealogists can encounter when searching French ancestors who used dit names? A dit name is an alias or nickname, in essence a second surname, given to a family. This second surname can be used in place of the original surname or it can form a double surname. A dit name doesn't usually apply to one person, but to many members and generations of a family. Dit names are generally found in France and New France (present day Quebec) and can be very challenging for researchers.

The Dutch in New Netherland (present day New York) had something similar with their frequent use of nicknames to identify individuals. Those nicknames often became the established family surname after the English takeover and demand for standard surnames.

A dit name might be derived from any of the following:

* A nickname
* A location of origin
* A physical characteristic
* Land owned
* A name used in the Army
* The first and last name might be combined to form one name
* Various other reasons

For example I have an ancestor who settled in New France (present day Quebec) in the 1660s. His name was Simeon LeRoi.

 His baptismal surname was LeRoi. His dit name was Audy or Ody. In contemporary records we might find him as

* Simeon LeRoi dit Audy (or Ody)
* Simeon LeRoi
* Simeon Audy or Ody
* Simeon Audy (or Ody) dit LeRoi


LFT Dit Name LeRoy dit Ody 1670 copy
1670 Baptism. Translation of underlined portion “Jean, fils de Simeon le Roy dit Ody” Jean, son of Simeon LeRoy dit Ody” Image Source: Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968


Compounding the challenge of finding ancestors who used dit names we also have changes from French to English, or in the case of my LeRoi family, French to Dutch. The LeRoi aka LeRoy surname underwent great changes, becoming LeRoy dit Audy or Ody, Audy and Ody in New France (Quebec). Simeon’s son Jonar left Quebec for New York where his name became Jonas Larroway (with variant spellings). Other changes from French to English were LeRoy in the United States and Canada.

Some of Simeon's sons assumed the Audy dit name as a surname and there are Audy descendants today who are from Simeon LeRoi. Some descendants use the LeRoy surname.

So what is the diligent researcher to do when it comes to entering such a name in a genealogy database? It is considered good practice to choose one standard way of entering the surname. It is equally important to record the name exactly as it occurs in each document you find. Your notes section comes in handy for this. As an example, for my Simeon LeRoi dit Audy, I might opt to use the LeRoy variation but I will record each name as found in various records. If, for example, I find a record with him recorded as “Audy” I make note of that.

It is also a good idea to consult Jetté, René, and Micheline Lécuyer, Répertoire des noms de famille du Québec des origines à 1825. (Repertory of Family Names of Québec from the Beginning to 1825). Montréal, Québec, Canada: Institut Généalogique J.L. et Associés, 1988. This book consists of a list of dit names and if your ancestor is found, it will give you the standardized surname in use.

You can also check for your ancestor’s name at the American-French Genealogical Society website as it contains a very complete list of French-Canadian Surnames:Variants, Dit, Anglicizations, etc. When I look up my ancestor’s dit name of Audy, I find it listed with Roy, LeRoy and Ody

Another place to learn about dit names and to check for your ancestor’s name is at the Family Names and Nicknames in Colonial Quebec website.

If at any time during your research you encounter a stumbling block of an ancestor whose surname seems to disappear, consider the possibility that he may have a dit name.

It's a challenge to trace dit name ancestors but researchers need to proceed methodically and carefully. If you have a dit name ancestor in your lines, be sure you keep all possible name variations in mind such as dit names, accidental name changes, deliberate name changes, spelling variations, and phonetic misinterpretations.


Lorine McGinnis Schulze is a Canadian genealogist who has been involved with genealogy and history for more than thirty years. In 1996 Lorine created the Olive Tree Genealogy website and its companion blog. Lorine is the author of many published genealogical and historical articles and books.






Why you may need to redo every online search you've ever done

 This one image is making me rethink every online search I've ever performed.


In her recent webinar, Read 'Em or Weep: Promise and Pitfalls in Newspaper OCR, Mary Roddy presented a convincing case of why we need to not just think of and use name variants (nicknames or common misspellings) in our searching, but to also carefully study the letter combinations and perform alternate searches based on the limitations of the optical character recognition (OCR) that was used in creating the index.

Now, in English.

OCR is technology used by companies to automatically index digitized documents, like newspapers. While very good, there are some limitations of using indexes that were created with OCR technology, and there are other related limitations that are not the fault of the technology at all. Regardless, the end result is that you might not find your ancestor in the index, even though they may be in the record.

Mary's example of searching for the surname of Roddy in an online Ohio newspaper collection found 7,148 entries. Had she stopped there, she would have missed 155 additional entries for her potential ancestors. This doesn't even count searching for surname variations like Rody, Roddie, Rodey, etc. When we understand some of the limitations of OCR technology, and some of the history of typesetting, we can adjust our search strategies and come up with the right combination of alternative letters and names to search for.

In the example below, the surname of Roddy is shown in the digital image of the newspaper. But searching for the surname of "Roddy" in the index did NOT locate this entry.


Using the techniques Mary explained in this webinar, she instead searched for "rodclv" and successfully located the record.


Are you now starting to think about your own ancestral surnames, like I am? Which of them have the potential to fail the OCR test and thus cause your search to come up empty?

After you come up with a list of alternate spellings for the surname, Mary suggests adding these to a spreadsheet.


If you use Legacy Family Tree, another way to keep track of these surname variations is to add a new unlinked person (Add > Add Unlinked) and give them the surname of "RODDY SURNAME". Then click on their AKA button and add every variation you can think of. Then, anytime you are searching for this surname, open up this person and you have easy access to their list.


With the tips Mary gives in this webinar, including her chart of "How letters might appear", this may be one of the most important classes you view this year. As it is one of our BONUS webinars, you'll need either a monthly or annual webinar membership to view it, or you can watch the brief preview. If you are a subscriber, click here to view the class.


10 Steps to Scanning, Preserving and Sharing Your Photos (Part 1)


If you have been following along with my previous blog posts - 10 Easy Steps to Organizing Family Photos Part I and Part II - you are ready to begin scanning, preserving and sharing those wonderful family photos you just organized.

1. Make a Plan

You need to decide on several things before you even begin to scan your photos. How will you organize your images on your computer? Will you organize by date? By event? By family? By surname? How will you name your files? What format will you use to scan your photos? What resolution should you scan in? What kind of scanner should you use? What is the end goal for your digital images? Are you burning the images to a CD-rom? Saving them to the cloud? The options are endless and you need to have some idea of how you will tackle each of these questions before you begin.


Organize Photos 1-5
Photo credit: Lorine McGinnis Schulze

In the steps below I am going to walk you through making these decisions and starting your scanning project. It’s important that you realize there are many ways to tackle a project such as this one. That means many of your decisions are going to be personal choices.

2. Decide on your Folder Hierarchy

Create your electronic file hierarchy system first, before you begin to reorganize the electronic documents you want to file within it. With your system in place, you easily can drag and drop files into the appropriate file folders, without stopping to create a new file folder.

Set up your file structure within one master folder; this makes backing up and moving stored files easier. I like to create a master folder within the “PICTURES” section of my Mac hard-drive. On my Windows 10 Computer I create a master folder by choosing File Explorer then Pictures Directory.

You may want to create an electronic file hierarchy structure that is the same as your paper file organization. This keeps data organized under one structure instead of trying to maintain multiple structures. Whatever method you choose, be consistent!

* Create subfolder categories. Depending how many photos I have for a surname (i.e. how many image files I end up with) I create subfolders. So for my Simpson family I would have a main folder labelled “Photos Simpson” and then subfolders for each of the children and the parents. In case you are wondering I start the folders with the word “Photos” so they are all together. But for my McGinnis family where I have very few photos I could just have a main folder for that surname.

There is a little “trick” you can use to cut down on your typing and at the same time be extremely consistent. If you set up your subfolders with the surname of each family (for example Simpson), and within each subfolder you have the identical subfolders of “Ancestor <name of ancestor>” “Parents” “Siblings” you can copy and paste these 3 subfolders into every surname folder you have created.

Using my Simpson surname folder as an example, my Simpson ancestor is my grandmother Ruth. I have photos of her, her parents, and all her siblings over many years. So in the subfolder “Ancestor Ruth” I put all photos of Ruth from birth to marriage. In the subfolder “Parents” I put all photos of her parents. In “Siblings” I am going to create even more subfolders with the names of each of her siblings. I have too many photos of them to lump them all together.


3. Understand Scanning Resolution, Image Format & Color vs Black & White

Resolution (DPI): The higher the resolution (this is your DPI) the better the scan is. The downside is that higher resolutions are larger files and thus take up more room on your hard drive. DPI stands for dots per inch.

300 DPI is safe and will give you a decent digital image at the same size as the original photo. If you are going to enlarge your photo you will need to increase the DPI for scanning. 600 DPI is the most recommended for good quality

Remember that you cannot make a blurry photo clear no matter how high your DPI settings are.

Format: The most common image file formats (the most important for cameras, printing, scanning, and internet use) are JPG, TIF, PNG, and GIF

  • JPG files are small, so they take up less room on your hard drive, but their quality is not as good as other formats. Each time you alter a jpg file the quality suffers.
  • GIF – the downside is reduced colors. It uses compression and thus reduces quality.
  • PNG is similar to TIF in that it is lossless but similiar to jpg and gif it is intended for the internet because of its compact files size.
  • TIF is considered the highest quality file type because it is a "lossless" format (ie the file quality remains the same no matter how many times your save it).

The recommended format for photo scanning is TIF.

Color vs Black & White Scanning: Usually scanning in color works best, even for black and white photos. Some badly damaged black and white photos may be better scanned in black and white if you plan on editing or restoring the photos later.

We'll continue with 7 more steps to scanning, preserving and sharing your treasured photos in Part 2.


Be sure to see "Digital Images for Genealogists and Technologists: Scanning, Organizing, Editing, and Sharing Your Digital Images" by Geoff Rasmussen in the Legacy Webinar Library. You can also check out the Digital Imaging Essentials book by Geoff Rasmussen.


Lorine McGinnis Schulze is a Canadian genealogist who has been involved with genealogy and history for more than thirty years. In 1996 Lorine created the Olive Tree Genealogy website and its companion blog. Lorine is the author of many published genealogical and historical articles and books.












10 Easy Steps to Organizing Family Photos (part 1)

10 Easy Steps to Organizing Family Photos by Lorine Schulze

Most of us have them. Family photos stored in dusty albums, or in shoeboxes in a closet or stuffed into desk drawers. At some point we need to sort, organize and digitize those treasured family memories, but where do we start? For many the task can seem overwhelming. Having been in this mess myself, I’ve come up with 10 easy steps to create order out of disorder and to preserve and pass on your family photographs.

  Blog Organizing Photos 1

Step 1: Create Your Plan

Before you begin, decide what your goal is for your photos - what is the final outcome you want? Do you want to scan them? Do you want to share them with family members, and if so, do you plan to share digital copies or originals? Do you want to share them now or at some point in the future? Are you ready to toss those blurry snaps of Niagara Falls or the picture of Uncle Harvey’s dog?

Step 2: How Will You Store Your Photos?

Are you going to store your original photos in archival storage containers? In binders? In acid-free sleeves? If you can afford it, you will need to purchase archival quality boxes or sleeves to preserve your original photos. At some point you have to decide on how you want to organize your digitized (scanned) photos, and where you will keep them.

It is a good idea to make an estimate of what you will need for your project whether that is binders or boxes. You can do an internet search to find what is available. I used an online company - GetSmartProducts. Your choice will also depend on your budget. Perhaps you can’t afford archival quality binders, or storage boxes or sleeves. In the real world we do the best we can, given our circumstances.

Step 3: Decide how you will organize your first preliminary sort.

Yes I said “first” sort. You should do a general, very broad-based sort first. This is a fast way to begin. It also allows you to organize your massive project into smaller chunks that are more easily manageable.

Your first sort should be based on categories – you can choose to sort by families, by years, by events such as weddings or family reunions, or any other category that suits you.

The choice is personal. It also depends on how many photos you have. I have thousands that go back many generations, so I wanted to do a more specific sort to start. Here’s my list:

  1. Lorine from childhood to first marriage, including siblings and parents from their marriage to death
  2. Marriage #1. Photos from wedding day to divorce
  3. Marriage #2. Photos from wedding day to death of spouse
  4. Marriage #3. Photos from wedding day to present
  5. Dad and his family.
  6. Mom and her family
  7. My grandchildren

Bog Organize Photos 2

My husband’s first sort was quite different. He sorted his family photos into 3 very broad categories.

  1. His mother. This included any photographs that were of her ancestors or relatives.
  2. His father. This included any photographs that were of his ancestors or relatives.
  3. Himself from baby to present day.

Step 4: Choose a spot in your home where you can leave your project undisturbed.

You will need a fairly large table and you need to be able to leave your storage items and photos for long periods of time. Organizing, scanning and preserving these photos is not an overnight task. You also need room to spread out and look at your photos to make your first choices of keep or toss.

Step 5: Start sorting!

First write your categories on pieces of paper and place them in front of each storage box. This enables you to quickly spot where that photo of Aunt Sally at her wedding goes.

  Bog Organize Photos 3

Take all your boxes and albums of photos from their hiding places and put them all on your table. Try not to be overwhelmed as you see the piles. You are going to go through them methodically and in an organized way. It will not seem such an onerous task once you get going.

Start with one shoebox or album. Remove each photo and decide whether you are going to keep it or toss it. That’s right – you are going to finally throw out those blurry holiday photos and the photos of every animal you saw at the zoo 20 years ago. 

Trust me, you will feel great once you've done it. Mine went into a large cardboard box for burning.

  Bog Organize Photos purge

Any photos you are keeping go into the categorized boxes. Don’t worry about getting them in order or right way up, just place them in the appropriate boxes. Remember this is your first sort. It’s very broad-based and you will get into refining this sort into further sub-categories later

If there are photos you are unsure of, if you can’t decide whether to keep it or toss it, I advise you to keep it for now. You can always toss it later in this process.

Part 2 of 10 EASY STEPS TO ORGANIZING FAMILY PHOTOS will be published soon.

For other ideas on organizing Family photos I advise you to use your favorite search engine to find articles of interest. There are dozens and dozens of articles available about this topic.

All photos are credit to the author Lorine McGinnis Schulze


Lorine McGinnis Schulze is a Canadian genealogist who has been involved with genealogy and history for more than thirty years. In 1996 Lorine created the Olive Tree Genealogy website and its companion blog. Lorine is the author of many published genealogical and historical articles and books.









Virtually Walking in Your Ancestors' Footsteps


As genealogists we know a lot about our ancestors. But what do we really know about where they lived? Nowadays, thanks to technology, we are positioned to not only learn about where they lived but to actually walk in their footsteps.

Recently, my family started vacationing on an island called Martha's Vineyard. After our vacation week was over I was afraid that I would forget how to navigate all the roads before our return the next year.  When I got home a friend pointed me to some Facebook pages dedicated to Martha's Vineyard. These were mostly featuring photographs but I eagerly followed them, and one in particular called Vineyard Colors. The page very successfully kept my memories of Martha's Vineyard alive and fresh. I didn't have to worry about forgetting about the island, even though I admit it didn't help me much with navigation. As time went by I sought out other sources about Martha's Vineyard on sites beyond Facebook - I checked Instagram, Twitter and Flickr.

As time passed I realized not only could I use this strategy for my vacation memories but it would also work well for genealogy!

Recently, I have been focused on my great grandmother, Caroline Nunge who arrived in America through Ellis Island in 1893. Unlike most of my relatives I knew exactly where she came from - a small town in Alsace-Lorraine called Baerenthal which is now located in France near the German border. My German speaking ancestor settled in Pittsburgh among other German speaking immigrants.


I wanted to know more about this place called Baerenthal where my ancestors had lived. I first checked on Instagram which is a great photo sharing app for mobile devices. You need to set up an account to really make use of this tool but the app is free to download. There are couple ways to search on Instagram. When searching for a place you can either search for it as a keyword or as a location.  They keyword search will bring up any results where people have tagged a post with #Baerenthal. The location search will bring up any posts tagged with a location of Baerenthal. What I'm looking for are mostly scenic photos that will give me a sense what the town looks like. I will ignore all the posts of teenagers and other non-related items. If I find photos of interest I will check who posted them. If they posted lots of scenic shots to their account then I will follow them in hopes of finding more in the future and so my journey begins. The key thing is to find active accounts which you can continue to follow and learn more about your target location.

Virtually Walking in Your Ancestors' Footsteps
On the left is the search screen in Instagram. On the right are the search results.


Flickr is a photo sharing site that is available both as an app on mobile devices and as a website. Flickr is a favorite among photographs and has many thousands of photographs. It is easier to search than Instagram when you want to go deep into a topic. Simply type your place name into the search box and wait a moment for the results. My search for Baerenthal returned over 800 photos! Since Flickr is geared toward more serious photographers I'm less likely to find "selfies" and other types of un-related photos.

Search results on Flickr
Search results on Flickr

Just like on Instagram, photos are posted by users and tagged and if you find something that you like you can follow the account of the photographer. In this particular case I found an account for Moselle Tourism. Moselle is the region (called a Department in France) where Baerenthal is located. This is account is as perfect as I'm going to find when it comes to targeting Baerenthal on Flickr so I will definitely follow it. When I follow the account it shows me future photos in my main feed.

Unlike Instragram, Flickr makes use of "albums" so if you find one photo you like you can click on the link to its album and likely find many more photos on the same topic.

In addition to Moselle Tourism, I also found a wonderful photographer named Raymond Schaeffer who had an album of 27 beautiful photos just of Baerenthal.

Google Street View

Back in 2004 my Uncle Bob visited Baerenthal in an attempt to find traces of our ancestors. When he returned he shared some of the photos that he took. Here is a photo of the the church located in the tiny village. One of the really fun things you can do to follow in your ancestors's foot steps is to use Google Street View. I use this mostly for looking up locations in the United States but it works well in other parts of the world too. I simple typed Baerenthal, France into Google Maps and it brought me to the town. I clicked on what I believed to be the town center and zoomed in.  I then clicked on the little yellow person found in the lower right corner of Google Maps and dragged that onto a street. That brought me into street view. You can then travel the roads as if you were there in person.

Google Maps Street View
Drag the little yellow person icon on a road for street view.

Here's an image that my uncle took during his visit in 2004.

Baerenthal, Moseelle, Lorraine, France. 2004. Photo by Robert F. Walleck

And here's a view of the same location using Google Maps.

Baerenthal, France
Church in Baerenthal, France

It's a slightly different angle but the church looks much the same as when my uncle visited over ten years ago. The advantage with Google Maps street view is that you can explain the surrounding area - you're not limited to a single image from a camera.

Exploring your ancestral village can be a lot of fun using Instragram, Flickr and Google Maps. These are just three tools of many that are available that can help you become acquainted with your homeland. Try them out and see what you discover. Then come back here and share other ways that you have stepped virtually in your ancestors' foots steps.


Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.



Got a complex genealogy problem? Try creating a Mind Map

When you have a difficult genealogy research case, creating a mind map of your ancestor's evidence just might be the tool you need to get you beyond the problem.

Ron Arons, who has a history of using mind maps to solve genealogy brick walls, and is the author of the new book Mind Maps for Genealogy, attended Warren Bittner's recent webinar on complex evidence. Warren's phrase, "web of evidence" struck a chord with Ron, and so did this graphic where Warren showed how he tied all of the evidence together:


It immediately reminded Ron of mind mapping and so guess what Ron did next? He created a mind map of Warren's research. (Click to enlarge.)


In this mind map Ron used different colors to connect the same individuals across different documents. He matched up common data points (individuals' names, locations, etc.) and organized it in clockwise chronological order, creating a timeline. For example, Frederick Behre is connected across documents using a rich/deep blue set of connector arrows, Minnie's connector arrows are in pink, Dora (Fred's wife) is in crimson, and so on. In some cases, Ron connected the same residential address across documents using grey connector arrows.

The end result provides the ability to visualize how the evidence in seemingly unrelated documents fits together, thus giving the researcher a new angle to visualize their problem.

Mfg-coverMind Maps for Genealogy: Enhanced Research Planning, Correlation and Analysis by Ron Arons

Ron also has a new book out on the topic. Mind Maps for Genealogy: Enhanced Research Planning, Correlation and Analysis provides an introduction to the concepts of mind maps. In addition to providing step-by-step instructions for using two of the leading mind mapping products (which also just happen to be free), this book provides numerous examples of how these tools can be used, including with the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), the FAN (friends and neighbors) Principle, and Inferential Genealogy.

Click here to purchase.

Webinars on Mind Mapping

Learn more in our webinar library from both Ron Arons and Thomas MacEntee:

Who are you honoring today?

In the United States we are celebrating Veterans Day, today November 11th.  On this same day the British are celebrating Armistice Day which is also celebrated in France, Belgium and New Zealand. It's a little confusing to me, maybe someone from England can explain, November 11th is also Remembrance Day around the Commonwealth of the United Kingdom. Either way,  nations around the world are using this date to honor those who have served in the military.

Sometimes folks in the United States regard Veterans Day and Memorial Day (held in May) similarly. In fact, each has a different very specific purpose. Veterans Day honors all those who have served in United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day, on the other hand, only honors those who gave their lives in service to their country.

Who are you honoring today?

Most of my ancestors who served in the military were active during the Revolutionary War. I have about seven ancestors that helped to bring about independence from England. If I look to more recent times, however, my father and all of my uncles on both my mother's and father's sides of the family served in the military. My father served as a peacetime naval officer not long after World War II.

The most notable military person in my family, though I can't really claim him because he's not a direct relation (he's my first cousin twice removed) is Submarine Commander, Samuel Dealey. He was the nephew of my great grandfather, James Quayle Dealey. Sam lost his life on August 24, 1944 when he went down with his submarine off of Luzon, Philippines. He received the Medal of Honor and several other recognitions of valor.

Sam is also the only serviceman that I know of in my family that gave his life for his country. All of my uncles and my Revolutionary War ancestors made it home to their families.

No matter where you are in the world today take a moment to think of all the service men and women who have impacted your life.

Submarine Commander, Samuel D. Dealey
Submarine Commander, Samuel D. Dealey

Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.



What Kind of Genealogist Are You?

My husband and I are very different genealogists. I love research. I love the challenge of the hunt, the mystery waiting to be solved. I'll research anyone's ancestry just to have the thrill of following the clues. I just love solving the puzzle. Of course I also love finding my own ancestors!

My husband however dislikes research. He finds it tedious and a lot of work.  He loves finding an ancestor, or better yet, having someone else find that ancestor for him. He's passionate about his ancestry, but avoids the actual research whenever possible. Family lore is enough for him and he feels no need to find sources to verify that lore. If it's important enough to him, he'll force himself to push through the research but he'd rather I did it for him. He always says that if he were rich, he'd hire someone to do all the research for him.

I'd hate that, and in fact I often feel bad that I'm doing so much that I'm not leaving my grandchildren the fun of the hunt!

It seems to me that there are several types of genealogists -


Detective-152085_1280 copy
The Hunter or Detective: This genealogist loves the research. While they want to find their own ancestors, they'll research anyone's ancestry just for the thrill of the hunt. They are easily sidetracked from their own ancestral research by the challenge of solving a stranger's brick wall.

The Gatherer or Ancestor Collector: This genealogist loves to know about their ancestors but doesn't really enjoy the hunt. He/she is happy to have others share what they have found.

The Ancestor Finder: This genealogist loves it all - doing the actual research and finding that elusive ancestor but they only enjoy researching their own family tree, not the ancestry of strangers.

The Hoarder: This genealogist does lots of research, finds new things about their ancestors but refuses to share any of the information.

The Junkyard Collector: This genealogist gets excited over online Family Trees and merges them with his/her own. He/she never verifies anything or checks their facts. Before long they have a mess of unsourced information, conflicting data and facts that don't make sense. They'll have female ancestors having children at the age of 100, or men born 50 years after their spouse or children born before their parents.

The Scholar: This genealogist lives and breathes source citations.  Accuracy is everything to this research. You'll often find this person submitting articles to scholarly journals as the New York Genealogial and Biographical Record. Page after page of red edit marks from the editors don't intimidate them. They'll plow through their article drafts, refining and revising and making each more accurate than the last.

Office-991306_1920 copyThe Analyzer: This genealogist finds a new fact, then studies it and analyzes it carefully before moving on to the next bit of research. They use each fact as a stepping stone to more research. They verify every piece of information they find and they view it critically, thinking about what it actually means and what other clues might be gleaned from it.

The Planner: This genealogist is a faithful keeper of research logs. He/she creates research plans and follows them. They are extremely organized in their research and meticulous about planning before they go on a research trip

The Writer: This is the genealogist who is driven to write the stories of the ancestors. Some publish the books they write and offer them for sale, others write only for their family.

I'm not judging any specific type as the best or the worst except the junkyard collectors who make me shudder and shake my head in bewilderment.

Some of us may fit more than one category. I am definitely a Hunter-Detective and a Writer but I'm also a little bit of a Scholar. I don't live and breathe source citations but I have submitted articles to scholarly journals and I've faced the red editing pen with determination. I'm also an Analyzer.  My husband on the other hand is a Gatherer. He doesn't seem to fit any other categories.

Where do you fit in?

Lorine McGinnis Schulze is a Canadian genealogist who has been involved with genealogy and history for more than thirty years. In 1996 Lorine created the Olive Tree Genealogy website and its companion blog. Lorine is the author of many published genealogical and historical articles and books.


Credit: Images are from Pixabay with License: CC0 Public Domain