3 Facts About Ice Cream on National Ice Cream Day


Happy National Ice Cream Day!

Unless you’re lactose intolerant, there’s a good chance you enjoy ice cream for dessert. Ice cream is a favorite worldwide and according to IceCream.com, New Zealand, the United States, Australia, Finland, and Sweden eat the most ice cream. The website also claims that 87% of Americans have ice cream in their freezer at any given time. [1] That’s a lot of people eating ice cream! 

What do you know about the frozen dairy treat? Here are 3 facts that might surprise you.

The United States has Enjoyed Ice Cream for a Long Time

You need a freezer to enjoy ice cream, right? Well we depend on them in today's world but it’s said that the Ancient Romans enjoyed ice treats long before modern refrigeration. In the United States, early Americans  enjoyed ice cream too, they just had to be careful about how they prepared and briefly stored it. Blocks of ice were used to keep the dessert cool for our colonial ancestors. The problem of keeping it cold was solved by 1790 when New Yorkers enjoyed frozen scoops at the first ice cream parlor. [2]

Not Every Frozen Dessert is Ice Cream

Do you like frozen custard, gelato, or frozen yogurt? 

According to the website the Kitchn, ice cream’s ingredients of milk, sugar, cream, and egg yolks are cooked, then cooled down and finally churned at a high speed which incorporates air which also increases its volume. Gelato, on the other hand has more milk and less cream and eggs and it’s churned at a slower rate which affects the volume.[3]

Ice cream may not always incorporate eggs but frozen custard always includes egg yolks. Frozen yogurt uses cultured milk instead of cream and unlike ice cream it does not have  a minimum fat requirement.

Some Flavors are not so Sweet

Chances are if I asked you what your favorite flavor of ice cream was, it would be something sweet like chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla. But historically sweet flavored ice creams weren’t the only choices. 

Though possibly more mythology than fact, First Lady Dolly Madison is said to have enjoyed oyster ice cream. Whether she really did enjoy the savory dessert or not we do not know but the 1824 cookbook, The Virginia Housewife:, or Methodical Cook by Mrs. Mary Randolph  includes  a recipe for Oyster Cream that instructs the home cook to “make a rich soup…strain it from the oysters, and freeze it.” You can find this and other more familiar sweet ice cream recipes from this cookbook on Google Books. And you can read more about the historical Oyster Ice Cream controversy.

Whether oyster ice cream was a thing for our ancestors or not, we do know that other savory ice cream flavors have existed. Some of those savory flavors that you can enjoy today include ice creams that use vegetables, cheese, and even alcohol for flavor. One example can be found at the Gilroy Garlic Festival held every year in California. As you can imagine, it  is famous for its garlic ice cream. Curious what that might taste like? One taster describes it as vanilla ice cream with a heavy garlic taste. A mixture of sweet and savory that might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Whether you love chocolate or prefer to try something more savory, Happy National Ice Cream Month!



[1]”The Straight Scoop on Ice Cream,” IceCream.com (https://www.icecream.com/icecreaminfo: accessed 11 July 2019). 

[2]”Ice cream: An American Favorite Since the Founding Fathers,” PBS (http://www.pbs.org/food/features/ice-cream-founding-fathers/: accessed 11 July 2019). 

[3] “What the Difference Between Ice Cream and Gelato?,” Kitchn (https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-ice-cream-and-gelato-word-of-mouth-119657: accessed 11 July 2019).


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

French Ancestors? Learn about Bastille Day


In some cases historical revolutions lead to yearly celebrations culminating in fireworks, parades, picnics, and other celebrations. The American Revolution led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In the United States we celebrate that event every  4th of July. The French Revolution also led to a holiday but in this case the holiday celebrates the heroics and the power of the people as they destroyed a symbol of France’s rulers. France’s  La Fete National or The National Holiday is known as Bastille Day in English speaking countries. This national holiday, celebrated on July 14th, commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789. Celebrations in  France include a military parade that has taken place since 1880. The largest military parade in Europe find French military personnel and the military participants from other countries marching along the Champs-Elysees. 

What was the French Bastille and why was it destroyed? Simply, it was a military fortress and a prison. Although Louis XV locked up those who disagreed or angered him in the Bastille but by the time of his grandson's reign in 1789 the prison only held a handful of prisoners. However, it  had something much more important to the revolutionaries who had just acquired guns. It stored  gunpowder.

The French Revolution was a time of economic depression suffered by France’s citizens with no relief from their  leaders, the privileged and out of touch Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Modern people wrongly ascribe the harsh, sentiment “let them eat cake” with France’s queen as proof of her cluelessness about the plight of ordinary citizens. Although she didn't actually utter that phrase, the actions of the monarchy negatively affected the citizens and the storming of the Bastille  led to the end of the Bourbon monarchy and the execution of the King and Queen which in turn ushered in the French Republic. The Bastille was destroyed and souvenirs of it were shown throughout France as a symbol of the destruction of the Bourbon monarchy.


Interestingly enough, Bastille Day isn’t just a holiday celebrated in France. It’s also celebrated in other parts of the world including the United States who benefitted from France’s financial backing during it’s own fight for independence from Britain. In 2018, the bilingual website France-Amerique counted 150 events in the United States celebrating Bastille Day. These celebrations included food, music, and all things French. This Bastille Day I’ll be near San Francisco where they have been celebrating the holiday for 139 years and have a website dedicated to that yearly celebration.. This year’s festivities include French food, a car show, live music and events.

Take a few minutes to Google a major city near you and the phrase “Bastille Day.” Chances are you may find a celebration near you. If you'd rather celebrate from home, consider a family get-together that includes some French inspired Bastille Day recipes.

Learn more about your French ancestry in these Legacy genealogy classes.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

Using Google Arts & Culture for Genealogy Inspiration

You’ve heard the familiar saying, “a photograph is worth a thousand words.” In my opinion this is especially true when we are discussing family history. Let’s face it, not everyone enjoys genealogy and your family may be  less than thrilled to hear about names, dates, and places or to see the latest addition to the 15 generation pedigree chart you’ve been updating for 20 years. But to show them images of historical events and explain how an ancestor was part of that event, that interests even the non-genealogist amongst us.

Not everyone inherits the ancestral family photos but that doesn’t mean we should automatically give up on using images. Consider historical images that depict a place or an event in place of a familial image. Historical image are also important to our family history because they provide much needed content to helping our present-day family understand our family’s historical lives. For those who enjoy posting a link to information for their family members to peruse, consider sending family members the link to Google Arts & Culture.

Google Arts & Culture

Google Arts Home

For many people, Google Arts and Culture is an unfamiliar product from the familiar search engine service. Their About web page states, “Explore collections from around the world with Google Arts & Culture, created by Google Cultural Institute.” That really doesn’t tell us much but Wikipedia provides more information about the 10 year old project, “...an online platform through which the public can access high-resolution images of artworks housed in the initiative's partner museums.[1] There’s much you can do on this website including taking a virtual tour of Machu Picchu or learning more about the British Museum  to exploring your favorite artist like Frieda Kahlo but for our purposes let’s focus on how we can use it for our genealogy.

Google Arts British Museum

If we are talking about genealogically significant images we are essentially talking about historical images. To find these on the Google Arts & Culture website go to the top left of the website and click on the three horizontal lines which will reveal a drop-down menu. Near the bottom of that menu is the link Historical Events, click on that link. Now you will be on the Historical Events page and at the top of that page, under the title is the option to view results three ways, All, A-Z, and Time. There are benefits to viewing the collection using any of these options, however the Time option places the results in chronological order using a timeline at the top of the page. I would suggest using this to easily find images for the time period you are looking for.

Google Arts Historical

Discovering History


Google Arts Historical Time

By clicking on the space between years you can move the timeline and see photos that correspond to that time period. For example, currently for the time period between 1850 and 1900 I can view images relating to the American Civil War, the Franco-Persian War, and the Second Boer War. Other historical events in this collection include the Dred Scott legal case, the Victorian era, and the Siege of Paris and many more.

Google Arts Boer

Clicking on the Second Boer War collection reveals a web page with the dates of the war and a description as well as a “story” and over 500 images. You can click on individual images to enlarge each image and view catalog information.

Google Arts DDay

June 6, 2019 marked  the 75th anniversary of D-Day and Google Arts and Culture has tens of thousands of images of World War II including D-Day. These images can help your descendants understand what their military ancestor faced during the war years.

Now, I know your question at this point is  “can I use these images in my family history book/website/blog/etc.?” Google Arts & Culture is not the copyright holder of these images. Each image contains information about the original contributor (library, museum, archive, etc.) and they are the copyright holder (or have obtained permission by the copyright holder). Make sure to consult the individual repository’s website about copyright and publishing permission. However, at the very least you can share links on social media to the Google Arts & Culture website collection with your family via email, social media,  or on your website.

Give it a Try

Should you use historical images? Yes! And historical images are just what you need to help your family better understand what life was like in a different era. Google Arts & Culture is one way to do that.


[1] “Google Arts & Culture,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Arts_%26_Culture: accessed 19 May 2019).

3 Things Non-Canadians Don't Know About Canada Day


Canada Day is July 1st. Are you celebrating? If you’re living in Canada or a Canadian, chances are the answer is an enthusiastic yes! For those who aren’t familiar with this Canadian holiday, here are three facts to introduce you to the celebrations.

  1. Canada Day, originally known as Dominion Day, celebrates the British North America Act which united the British provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia with Quebec and Ontario on July 1, 1867. The uniting of the federation was somewhat influenced by the American Civil War. There was a concern by some in Canada that a weak federation could make Canada vulnerable to the Americans. They also saw the cause of the Civil War due to a weak American federal government.[1]


  1. It’s celebrated a lot like the American 4th of July but it’s not an “Independence Day.” It’s easy to assume that Canada Day is the Canadian equivalent of the United States' Independence Day but it's celebrated for a totally different reason. July the 4th has to do with the United States’ independence from Britain but Canada still had a strong connection to Britain after 1867. In fact, it wasn’t until 1982 that the Canada Act transferred power to the Canadian Parliament.[2] If you’re in Canada, you can expect fireworks, parades, BBQ’s and other celebrations on Canada Day that are reminiscent of the 4th of July celebrations.


  1. It’s not the only Canadian holiday on July 1st. Yes, Canada has two holidays on July 1st. The other uniquely Canadian day, is Quebec’s Moving Day. Canada Day celebrations in Quebec may not be as exuberant because of Moving Day which is the  traditional day that people move.  According to the Montreal Gazette newspaper, 80% of  residential leases end on June 30th and 100,000 Montreal residents are expected to move either on July 1st or around that time.[3] This practice stems from colonial times and the concerns that tenant farmers not face eviction during winter months. To avoid moving in the cold weather, leases ended on May 1st. The day was later changed to July 1st.

Happy Canada Day! It's a great time to also do some genealogy and if you are ready to learn more about your Canadian ancestors, Legacy has  webinars that can explain everything about your Canadian roots. 


[1] “Why Canada Day is not the same as Canadian Independence Day,” Time (https://time.com/4828595/canada-day-150-years/: accessed 17 June 2019).

[2] Ibid

[3] “Watch: Why is July 1 Moving Day in Quebec?” Montreal Gazette (https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/watch-why-is-july-1-moving-day-in-quebec: accessed 17 June 2019).


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

Make Sure to Ask

Make Sure to Ask

When I was growing up, I worked at my local city library. I was a Reference Page which meant that I worked in the basement and retrieved magazines for patrons doing research, amongst other things. The magazines in our holdings ranged from the newer popular magazines to bound volumes dating back 100 years. The library’s  basement also housed  some of their archival collections. That archive included all kinds of items from documents to material items like textiles. It was a wonderful place to work for someone who loved to read and had lots of questions about history.


Because of my early job experience, I know that libraries, archives, and museums often have great collections kept out of the public’s view. It’s not that they are trying to hide them, it’s just that they don’t have the storage space in the public places to store everything. And quite frankly some of the items, while important, are not “popular” and rarely requested. Because of this, sometimes the public or interested researchers don’t know everything a repository has. I was reminded of this recently after I presented to the Pomona Valley Genealogical Society which meets at the Pomona (California) Public Library.

The Pomona Public Library has been around since the 1880s but their current building dates to 1965. The Library is old enough to have a basement and their basement  includes bound periodicals, like the ones I retrieved as a teenager,  and their special collections  as well as the collections of the nearby genealogical and historical societies.

When the president of the society asked if I wanted to see their collection, I had to say yes. Afterall I absolutely love library basements. They had stacks of everything from genealogical periodicals to family group sheets donated by members over the society's 50 year history.

Because I’m always anxious to pass on information about great collections, I asked, “how do people know  what you have?” Like most collections the answer is not simple. Most people don’t know this collection exists. Most societies don’t have the volunteers or time to make information about their vast collections available. Just like libraries and archives, there is simply not enough time, money or people to make collections easily available to everyone.  While The Pomona Valley Genealogical Society has an  ongoing indexing project that is available in printed form from the reference librarian, there’s no digitized version of what they own.


It’s important to remember that not only is not everything online but online catalogs don’t tell the entire story. It’s by making contact with societies and repositories in the places where your ancestor lived that you can learn more about what is available. If you have not done this, most likely you have not done a thoroughly exhaustive search of what is available for your ancestor because there are clues in the basement.

Take some time to locate the repositories and societies in the place your ancestor lived. Search their online catalog, digital collections, and finding aids but then contact them and ask about what other collections they house that might be helpful to your research.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

Genealogy in Unlikely Places Online

One of the aspects of the Internet I love the most is finding genealogically relevant information in places that are not genealogy related. When we limit our research to only genealogy websites we miss out on relevant information found on websites focused on art, history, geography, and other related topics.

A whole book could be written about these “unlikely sources” but for now let’s explore four websites and what they have to offer.

Getty Research Institute – Research Guides and Photographers

I love exploring California’s  Getty Museum in person but even better is their website, the Getty Research Institute. There is so much to look at here including catalogs and digital collections but let me just point out a few items a genealogist might be interested in. In the Research Guides and Photographers collection there is an article titled, A Nation Emerges: 65 Years of Photography in Mexico.  This article includes a bibliography, glossary, history, chronology, and even a list of photographers  with biographical information. Included in this list of photographers are those who had studios in El Paso, Texas but photographed Mexico and the people of Mexico. For fans of artist Frida Kahlo, her father Wilhelm Kahlo is listed.

Getty Research Institute Guides

Don’t forget to also explore their digital collections catalog as well. Follow The Getty on Facebook  to learn more about their collections and to watch Facebook Live presentations.

Digital Public Library of America

I’m always amazed at what I find on Digital Public Library of America. Remember that while it is a fabulous catalog of images, you can also limit your search to “text.” A recent search I did to find vintage Los Angeles postcards resulted in images for a Missing Person postcard and another regarding a group of men who broke out of jail in Missouri.


DPLA Missing Person

Looted Cultural Assets

During the Nazi period of 1933-1945, the Nazi’s not only looted art and heirlooms but they also stole books.

Looted Cultural Assets is a database of names found in those books, scattered throughout various libraries, and reunite them with the owner’s family. An online database allows you to browse by name, object type or collection. Browsing by name allows you to click on a name and see a digitized image of the book page with that name on it.

This German website can either be translated via an online translation tool like Google Translate or by selecting English at the top right-side of the website.


Looted assets
Looted assets

Sampler Archive

One of the points I always make when I present on researching female ancestors is that it’s important to search using the records they left behind. Women did leave behind material culture that has genealogical value such as quilts, cookbooks, and needlework samplers . One place to search for women’s name is the website Sampler Archive that documents the makers of needlework samplers. From the top right of the Sampler Archive website you can browse the collection by contributor, which currently includes the DAR museum, Rhode Island Historical Society, and the Winterthur Museum. You can then browse through the sampler results which include a thumbnail image. This is such an important collection of young girl’s and women’s names that would otherwise be lost.

Sampler Archive

Where have you found genealogically relevant materials online in unlikely places? Please share your favorite finds in the comments below.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

What’s New At Your Genealogy Society?

What’s New At Your Genealogy Society?

Genealogy societies are so important for family historians. The continuing education, research assistance, field trips, library collections, and other membership benefits make them a must-have resource. One of the things I love about traveling to societies to present is I get to see what they are doing to help their members. Societies are implementing some great ideas to help members and visitors learn more about their ancestors. The following are just a few of the ideas I’ve heard about recently. Maybe these will give you ideas about something new your society should try.

Virtual Meetings

It’s no surprise that attending meetings in person is difficult for some when you take into consideration your members' jobs, family obligations, and even health or mobility issues. In addition, your society membership should include not only those who live near your meeting place but also those who live far away but whose ancestors were from your hometown.

In order to accommodate everyone, more and more societies are adding a virtual option to their websites. These recordings are either live video recordings of meetings or archived recordings of only the speaker (make sure to ask the speaker’s permission before recording or uploading their presentation to your website). Either way, it’s a great member benefit and takes into consideration everyone’s needs. Platforms like Zoom, Go To Meeting,  YouTube, or just using a mobile device to record and post a mp4 file can make this a reality for your genealogy society.

A Meeting Before the Meeting

Increasingly, genealogy society meetings are becoming much more than just a short  business meeting with an educational presentation. Many societies provide time before the main meeting to network, socialize, and even hold mini-lessons or SIGs (Special Interest Groups). In the case with societies that have two presentations back-to-back, this arrangement provides some flexibility for the society to host a 2-hour workshop given by the same speaker or 2, 1-hour talks by different presenters. In the case of one society I presented to, they meet weekly. They hold one general meeting with a paid speaker and the other weeks are dedicated to helping members, having informal discussions and lessons.

Taking Your Genealogy to The Next Level

Have you considered offering a meeting where members study a genealogical book in depth? The Pima County Genealogy Society in Tucson, Arizona  did just that by offering a special class where members could participate in group study of the book Genetic Genealogy In Practice by Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne. The group, led by two instructors, studied each chapter together and were assigned homework. At the end of the nine weeks they participated in a “graduation” at their regular meeting. What a great idea for learning more as a group! This in-depth study provided members with an experience in addition to the DNA SIG most societies have.

Consider holding your own group study with other genealogical texts such as Val Greenwoods, The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy or Dr. Thomas Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Documentation or Mastering Genealogical Proof. If you need some ideas for how to hold such a group, check out the study groups genealogist Dear Myrtle  has conducted online using Mastering Genealogical Proof and The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.

If a group study is too much for your society, you could always have a Book Club SIG where members read and discuss books that are genealogically relevant. These don’t have to be serious texts they, could involve memoirs, history, or even fiction. Some ideas include:

  • White Like Her: My Family's Story of Race and Racial Passing by Gail Lukasik;
  • Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro
  • Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind by Sarah Wildman
  • The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah;

Prepare Members for Success

Does your group take a field trip to a major genealogical library or archive like the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah or maybe the Allen County, Indiana Public Library’s Genealogy Center? Many societies near me are taking time six months or more ahead of the trip to prepare members for a successful research experience. They are meeting regularly to provide insight into research at the facility and everything the person needs to know to research there. They then have members pick projects to research and prepare by using the online catalog, preparing research logs and research plans so that they are ready to go as soon as they arrive. No wasted time and members feel like they aren’t lost.

What’s your society doing? Is it time for something new? Maybe your society has a great idea they should share with others? Please feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear about your society!


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.


A Look at a Few Online World War II Databases

A Look at a Few Online World War II Databases

Want to research your World War II ancestor? Aside from ordering military files from a government archive or searching genealogy websites for records, there are countless online images, databases, and digitized collections that can help you.  When searching for  resources, make sure to utilize archives, museum, and library websites for the country you are researching. The following websites provide just a sample of what is available online.

World War II United States Military Records

The FamilySearch Research Wiki page, World War II United States Military Records, 1941 to 1945  is one of the first places US researchers should peruse.  The Wiki contains links for FamilySearch collections as well as collections found on other genealogy websites. Don’t forget to explore the links on the left-hand side of the wiki page for different record sets including Pension Records, Prisoners of War, Service Records, Soldiers Homes, and Unit Histories If you don’t see your favorite collection, consider contributing that information. Afterall, it’s a wiki and wikis and their users benefit when information is shared.

JDC Archives

For those with Jewish ancestors, the JDC Archives has various digitized images with over 500,000 names in their collection that can be beneficial to family historians. “The JDC Names Index  is an indispensable resource tool for genealogists, personal historians, and scholarly researchers alike. Here you can search for relatives, friends, ancestors; anyone worldwide who has received JDC aid, financial or otherwise.” Beginning in the early 1900s and continuing on through the World War II years you can find names from immigration, refugee, ship, and orphan lists.            

An example of the information found in these lists is Refugees in Polish Border Areas, 1938-1939 which is described as "Lists of Polish Jews expelled from Germany by the Nazi government into the Polish border town of Zbaszyn and others expelled from the German client state of Slovakia to towns in the no-man’s-land across the border in Western Galicia, receiving assistance from the JDC in 1938-1939." The list includes name, birth date, occupation, former residence, marital status and name and address of relatives in the United States.

JDC List
"List of Persons Posessing Relatives in the U.S.A."

UK National Archives Research Guide

The UK National Archives Research Guide, Second World War  will help you better understand what records are available to research your World War II era English ancestors but it also includes links to online collections such as Allied Expeditionary Force papers (1943-1945) and Cabinet Papers (1915-1978). Related National Archives Research Guides you can access from this page include: British Army operations in the Second World War; Royal Air Force operations; Royal Navy operations in the Second World War; and War crimes 1939-1945.

Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada's Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947 includes 44,097 references to individuals who were killed in action, died as a result of an accident or illness while in service, and those who subsequently died of injuries from their service. However, this database does not include information about those who survived the war nor "the locations of overseas postings or list battles in which an individual may have participated." The page also includes suggestions for searching the database.


World War II Nominal Roll 

For those with Australian roots, the the World War II Nominal Roll website honors the "men and women who served in Australia’s defense forces and the Merchant Navy during this conflict." Searchable by "name, service number, honours, or place," this website includes services records of one million individuals who served. The information provided can also include next of kin and date/place of birth.

WW2 nominal roll

Lastly, don’t forget to review Legacy Family Tree World War II webinars and their handouts for other websites and collections. Good luck with your research!


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

Three of My Favorite Genealogy Finding Aids

If you’re familiar with archival research you’ve heard the term “finding aid.” An archival finding aid describes the content of a collection, providing you enough information about that collection so that you can decide if it is something you need to explore for you research.

There are other kinds of “finding aids” as well. On the Internet, there are several types of finding aids that help us locate what we need. For example,  portal websites like Cyndi's List and Linkpendium provide website links categorized according to subject or topic which can help us find resources quickly. Numerous genealogical finding aids exist that can help us find a record or a resource which is helpful especially in cases where the record set is available in multiple places.

Knowing about what finding aids exist can help you more easily find what you need and know what is available for researching your genealogy. Here are  three of my favorite finding aids newspapers, records, and journal articles.

The Ancestor Hunt  


Ancestor Hunt

Need to find a newspaper? The Ancestor Hunt is a great finding aid for newspapers from Canada and the United States (there are also links to free Australian and other international newspaper websites). Newspapers are a must for your research but the problem is they can’t all be found in one place. The Ancestor Hunt is a finding aid complete with links categorized according to place and website (covering both free and fee based websites). At the time of this writing, there were over 23,000 links to free newspapers online. This volunteer work by Kenneth R Marks also includes how-to tutorials and other genealogical resources.

FamilySearch Research Wiki 

FS Puerto Rico

Go to FamilySearch’s Research Wiki and type in the name of the location you are researching (state, county). Chances are you’ll be taken to that place’s “genealogy” wiki page. From that page, on the right-hand side  you will see a clickable list of Record Types. Click on these to learn more about the record type and where to find those records (available both on FamilySearch and on other websites). While some wiki pages have more information than others (remember it’s a volunteer effort), start with the wiki to fully understand what records exist and where they can be found.


Google Scholar

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is not by definition a genealogy finding aid but it’s a good place to find journal articles rich in historical detail  that will help you learn more about your ancestor's life. These topics might provide history or details the place your ancestor was from, their occupation, or the membership group they belonged to.

Your  keyword search on Google Scholar will provide you a list of results for articles  that are freely available online or as a digital book available on Google Books. In some cases, you will need to find a copy of the article or book  through Interlibrary Loan, a library, or by purchasing that specific article from the publisher or JSTOR. This is a resource you use to learn more about your ancestor’s life since it’s probably unlikely that they will be mentioned by name, unless they were famous, infamous, or you’re just lucky. Use Google Scholar to add that “flesh” to their story.

Google Scholar can also search Google Patents and case law.

What Are Your Favorites?

So that’s just three finding aids I think you’ll find valuable. What are some of your favorites? How do you use finding aids to enhance your genealogy research?


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

5 Digital Collections to Explore for Women’s History Month

I love the Internet. What a great time to pursue our family history when we can easily explore, find, and study documents from around the world from the comfort of our homes. Lucky us. Unlike previous generations who may have been limited in what they could find due to travel restrictions, time, or even money, we have the opportunity to view digitized records that can shed light on all aspects of our ancestor's lives.

The following digital collections are some of my favorites but not because my foremothers are prominently mentioned. Just the opposite. They are my favorites because they allow me to learn more about their time period, what they may have  experienced, and provide me a better understanding of researching her life. Take some time to peruse the following websites and they might become some of your favorites as well.


Women Working,  1800-1930 from Harvard Library              


Working women homepage

Though it's a relatively recent field of study, women's history is inscribed across all of the Harvard Library holdings gathered since 1638. I love that first sentence of this collection's  introduction. Women’s stories are everywhere and this collection proves that historically women weren’t just housewives. The online collection includes “over 650,000 individual pages from more than 3,100 books and trade catalogs, 900 archives and manuscript items, and 1,400 photographs.”

Click on the homepage's "Explore this Collection Online" button and you have the option to search or browse images that include magazines, pamphlets, and other materials. Limiting your Search by Creator/Contributors can help you to browse the collection. There’s so much to love here, one of my favorite collections has to do with Lydia Pinkham but  I also love perusing the many books and magazines that give perspective on working women’s lives.


Women’s History from the Library of Congress

Library of Congress

2020 marks the anniversary of American women receiving the vote which seems like a good time to learn more about the fight for suffrage (Did you know that women in some states had the vote decades before the 19th amendment but not all women had the right to vote once the amendment passed?). Library of Congress has quite a few historical suffrage collections that will help you better understand that fight.


She's Good Enough

Social history involves learning about our ancestor’s everyday life and one way to do that is through music. The Library of Congress had a suffrage music collection that can help you understand what was going on during the early 20th century. “She’s Good Enough To Be Your Baby’s Mother, She’s Good Enough To Vote With You” is one such song that provides some interesting insight to this era.


Duke University Libraries Digital Collections          

Duke University

There’s a lot to like about the Duke University Libraries Digital Collections but for this post I want to focus on their Women’s Travel Diaries. Why is this important? Did your ancestor migrate, take a trip, or live somewhere you don’t? These diaries can shed some life on that time and location. “The diaries in this digital collection were written by British and American women who documented their travels to places around the globe, including India, the West Indies, countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as around the United States. There are over 100 diaries of varying length.” You can browse or search for items of interest. I personally love reading period diaries that help me better understand what life was like for a previous generation.


Virtual Archives, Resource Guides and Databases from Nova Scotia Archives

Nova Scotia Archives

This digital collection is fantastic for all that it offers genealogists with Nova Scotia roots. Not you? That’s okay, check it out and then consider what an archive where your ancestor lived may have and then look for it! This one has digitized documents focusing on suffrage, women of Digby county, as well as a recipe collection, and Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Case Files 1759-1960.

I realize that most people reading this don’t have Nova Scotia ancestors but it’s a great example of what archives are adding to their websites and a reminder that we should look for archives in the region we are researching.


Feeding America from Michigan State University

Feeding America Simmons Book

Of course you knew there was no way we would get through a list without my mentioning one cookbook website?! And I love this one because it includes the first cookbook written by an American woman (Amelia Simmons) which sheds important light on what your early American ancestor was eating and what foods they had access to. (Be sure to read what she has to say about peacocks.) Seek out cookbooks in this collection for ideas about what foods and recipes your female ancestors would have been familiar with.

So those are some of my favorites. Try them and let me know what you find. I’d also love to hear about digital collections featuring resources on female ancestors that you have found.


Happy Women’s History Month!


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.