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Florida Ancestors, by Aisha Taylor

W

elcome to the Florida Ancestors Page! I'm Aisha Taylor, Coordinator of Florida records and resources. The goal of the Florida Ancestors page is to help you locate records and learn about how to conduct genealogical research in Florida. Our site will include state resources, county resources, and special African-American collections. I'll also bring you news from the genealogy world. Finally, I hope to provide step-by-step guides and tips for you to share your family history. I've got big plans, including video tutorials! I hope you enjoy this site! Happy genealogical surfing!
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Join Lowcountry Africana ~ Unearthing Treasures: Tracing African American Ancestors at the South Carolina Historical Society

Benseman Bible

Please join Lowcountry Africana for a very special seminar at the South Carolina Historical Society, "Unearthing Treasures: Tracing Your African American Ancestors at the South Carolina Historical Society" on Saturday, November 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

What's special about this seminar is that seminar content will be customized to meet attendees' research interests and research experience. We will also work with registrants ahead of the seminar, to identify records at the South Carolina Historical Society that may be helpful for their research.

We will spend the morning learning how to decipher meaning from plantation journals, maps, plats and photographs. After lunch, the remainder of the seminar will be spent conducting hands-on archival research with assistance from seminar leaders and archivists.

We are excited to be able to offer such a quality research experience in a free seminar. We hope you will join us to explore the stellar collections at the South Carolina Historical Society!

The seminar is FREE. Lunch is $10. Space is limited to 30 participants so please reserve now! To register, please call Virginia Ellison at 843-723-3225 ext. 11.

Seminar Flyer With Logos
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Searching Online Records for Florida? Don’t Forget These Valuable Resources!

FamilySearch Florida Collections (current to Feb 2013)

Title

Records

Last Updated

Florida, Births and Christenings, 1880-1935 20,227 10 Mar 2012
Florida, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865 285,975 21 Apr 2012
Florida, Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865 25,416 21 Apr 2012
Florida, Confederate Veterans and Widows Pension Applications, 1885-1955 Browse Images 26 Sep 2011
Florida, Death Index, 1877-1998 5,187,074 10 Feb 2012
Florida, Deaths and Burials, 1900-1921 24,800 27 Apr 2010
Florida, Deaths, 1877-1939 471,800 29 Mar 2010
Florida, Divorce Index, 1927-2001 3,012,178 29 Feb 2012
Florida, Key West Passenger Lists, 1898-1920 Browse Images  *16 Jan 2013
Florida, Marriage Index, 1822-1875 and 1927-2001 11,718,373 14 Jan 2012
Florida, Marriages, 1830-1993 571,766 9 May 2012
Florida, Marriages, 1837-1974 859,969 26 Mar 2012
Florida, Probate Records, 1784-1990 Browse Images 27 Sep 2012
Florida, State Census, 1885 110,864 27 Mar 2010
Florida, State Census, 1935 1,599,085 27 Mar 2010
Florida, State Census, 1945 2,249,138 27 Mar 2010
Florida, Tampa, Passenger Lists, 1898-1945 50,103 21 Dec 2012

Florida Message Boards ~ Ancestry.com

Message boards or forums are a great place to engage with others researching in our area of interest.

AfriGeneas States Research Forum

You can post your FL-specific queries here!

AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum

This board is reserved for discussion of the Enslavement Period, slave genealogy, documents pertaining to slavery, and techniques for finding the last slaveowner and the first slave ancestor.

Free Persons of Color (FPOC) Forum

This is the hosted message board of the Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware website. This is the place to discuss issues pertaining to ancestors who were either born free or emancipated prior to the Civil War.

Florida GenWeb

The purpose of FLGenWeb is to preserve and educate the public about Florida's rich heritage and to help families discover their ancestors.

Florida Digital Newspaper Library

The Florida Digital Newspaper Library exists to provide access to the news and history of Florida. All of the over 1,376,000 pages of historic through current Florida newspapers in the Florida Digital Newspaper Library are openly and freely available with zoomable page images and full text.

Florida History Online

From  Daniel L. Schafer, Professor Emeritus of History, University of North Florida, Florida History Online is an educational website intended as a resource for teachers and scholars, students at all grade levels, and the general public. It offers free online access to transcribed Florida history documents.

Floridiana on the Web ~ USF Libraries Digital Collections

An astoundingly rich collection of digitized manuscripts, oral histories, historical photographs and full text articles on Florida history. All back editions of the journal Florida Historical Quarterly are available as searchable full text.

State Archives of Florida ~ Florida Memory Project

The Florida Memory Project website presents a selection of digitized historical records that illustrate significant moments in Florida history, education resources for students of all ages and archival collections for historical research. Notable online collections:

Resource Guide ~ P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History

Excellent guide to online resources for Florida history and genealogy

Florida Cemetery Index

There were 12,071 names from 83 cemeteries in the database as of 1 August 2000.

City of Tallahassee ~ City-Owned Cemeteries Burial Records

Looking for someone who you think might be buried in a City of Tallahassee-owned cemetery? Here's where to start. Also included is a wonderful comprehensive guide to researching ancestors buried in private cemeteries, not in the five owned cemeteries and operated by the City government. Here you will find links to the largest funeral homes in Tallahassee, area churches, and other helpful resources for researching ancestors buried in Tallahassee. See also their page of links to information about cemeteries in general.

The Obituary Daily Times

The Obituary Daily Times is a daily index of published obituaries. It is distributed Freely, often twice a day by email, and usually has over 2500 entries a day. You can search the database anytime with their online search engine.

WPA Life Histories from Florida

First-person accounts of life in Florida collected during the Great Depression.

Alachua County Ancient Records

493,813 Page Images of early Florida records. 14,890 Pages have been transcribed. As Alachua County was an early seat of government in Florida, this collection has records from across Florida, not just Alachua County. You can volunteer to index records, too!

Elmer’s Genealogy Corner

Madison County, FL marriage, divorce, cemetery, voter and obituary records

What Are Your Favorite Florida Resources?

Which FL resources do YOU recommend? Please add a comment with your favorites!

Technology Tuesday: WorldCat and Google Books

We're all looking for ways to save money on our genealogy resources. Today we'll look at two sites that can help you save money on books!
 

WorldCat

One way to do save money is to check out books from the library, rather than purchasing them. Worldcat is a free site that allows you to search libraries all over the world for books you want. You can search the catalog without creating an account. However, if you have an account, you can create lists (like favorites), bibliographies and reviews.
Once you find the book you want, WorldCat will link you to the library catalog. WorldCat also links you to places where you can purchase the book.
 

Google Books

You'll often see Google products for Technology Tuesday. Here's another that you'll find useful: Google Books. Google books provides free access to many published books. You can download PDF versions of the books and search the text by keyword. You'll find genealogy resource books, but you may even find documents about your ancestors! For example, I found the same documents that I'd found on GenealogyBank.com (for a fee) for free on Google Books. In addition, I was able to save the entire document in PDF form, rather than page by page in GenealogyBank.com.
 

Bonus:

Google Books links to WorldCat to find the book at a library!
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County Spotlight: Duval

According to wikipedia.org:
 
Duval County was created in 1822 from St. Johns County. It was named for William Pope DuVal, Governor of Florida Territory from 1822 - 1834. Alachua and Nassau counties were created out of parts of Duval County in 1824. Clay County was created from part of Duval County in 1858. Part of St. Johns County south and east of the lower reaches of the St. Johns River was transferred to Duval County in the 1840s.
 
If you have relatives from Duval County, you might start with the US GenWeb page for Duval County. The page is a bit dated, but they have a list of cemeteries, links to maps and other genealogy pages, and links to Jacksonville area research.
 
Next, head over to Linkpendium, which has an extensive list of links related to Duval County. Linkpendium is built by the users of the site, much like Cyndi's List Duval section.
 
Finaly, check out these links for even more info:
 
Rootsweb Duval Page
Jacksonville Public Library African-American Genealogy Resources
Florida Afriacn-American Heritage Page
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Book review: Nicknames Past and Present, by Christine Rose

 
Do you have a nickname that you use instead of your given name? You may even sign documents using your nickname, rather than your given name.
 
Well, our ancestors did the same thing. Let's say Dorothy Smith went as Dottie Smith back in 1885. She signed official papers that way and gave her name in the census as Dottie.
 
One day, Dottie's great-great-granddaughter is searching for her in the census and can't find Dottie, though lots of Dorothy's seem to fit the other data she has.
 
And, while Ancestry.com does search for nicknames, they don't catch all of them.
 
If you've ever had this experience, Nicknames Past and Present will help you. It's a simple book that lists names and their nicknames. I found a lot of nicknames that I would never have traced back to the given name listed.
 
The book is available on Amazon for $9.95: Nicknames Past and Present, by Christine Rose
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Technology Tuesday: Publishing your family history

 
If you've been researching your family for a while, you probably want to share what you've found with your cousins. Well, you don't need a book publisher and publishing your family history doesn't have to be expensive. There are services on the Web that can publish on demand for free. All you have to do is upload your book! One such website is Lulu.
 
Using Lulu, you can publish your family history in print or as an e-book for free. All you have to do is convert your book into PDF format (Lulu offers a guide on how to do it) and upload. You can have the books delivered to you or sell your book through Lulu. Lulu also offers paid services such as editing, design, marketing and retail distribution.
 
Don't forget to be a good steward of your family genealogy and cite your sources!
 
Lulu is at http://www.lulu.com
 
Happy publishing!
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Technology Tuesday: Google Alerts

Google Alerts


This week, a quick tip on how to use Google to tell do automated searches for you. You'll need an account with Google to set up alerts. If you don't have an account already, go to Google.com and sign up by clicking "Sign in" in the top right of the page. You'll see a box that asks you to sign up if you don't have an account already.

  1. After logging in, go to http://www.google.com/alerts.
  2. Fill out the form. You can elect to receive alerts by e-mail or create a feed that is viewable in Google Reader or another feed reader.
  3. Click "Create Alert".

That's it! Now, Google will tell you when something pops up about your ancestor. Try using some of the search tips listed on Google's site to make your searches more effective.
 
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Searching for Land Records in Florida: Federal Land Grants


In my last post on the Florida State Census, I talked about finding your ancestors between censuses. Another way to keep up with your ancestors between censuses is to follow them through their land records.

Our ancestors bought, sold and leased land to family members and other members of the community. Through land records, you can discover who your ancestor had relationships with and start to see what role he or she played in the community. There are many types of land records, including mortgage deeds, records of sale, and liens. For part one of this discussion, well talk about finding Federal Land Grant records on a free website, the Bureau of Land Management.

Bureau of Land Management


Head to the BLM General Land Office Records site to search land patents for a patent record belonging to your ancestor. Land patents document the transfer of land ownership from the federal government to individuals. For our purposes, we will focus on land patents filed just after the Civil War. Lets use my fourth great-grandfather, Major Reddick, as an example of how to use the BLM site. Use the screen demonstration or the instructions below to find your ancestors land patent.
 

  1. Go to the General Land Office Records site at http://www.glorecords.blm.gov.
  2. Click "Search Land Patents".
  3. Type in your zip code and click continue.
  4. Select the state to search. For Major Reddick, select Florida.
  5. Type in a last name, like Reddick. Remember to try different variations of the last name.
  6. To narrow your search, type in a first name, like Major.
  7. Click "Search".
  8. The results show the state, county, issue date, land office and the identifying numbers for the parcel of land.
  9. Click the patentee name to view more information about the patent. You'll need this information if you want to request original documents (the patent application) from the National Archives.
  10. Click the Legal Land Description tab. Note the Aliquot Parts, Sec./Block, Township, Range, Meridian, State and County. In the next post, we'll show you how to interpret this description and map it using Google Maps.
  11. Click the "Document Image" tab to view the scanned image of the land patent. You can save this image to your computer (right-click and select "Save image as...") or print it. You can also order a certified copy of the document.
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State Census Records Fill the Gaps

Although genealogy experts recommend that we start our research with records at home, those of us doing research away from our ancestral home often start with the internet. And, of course, that usually leads us to census records.

The United States Census Bureau has conducted a census, or a count of the population, since the late 1800's. The census is conducted every 10 years, providing not only a count, but demographic information on every citizen in the country. The most recent US Census available to the public is the 1930 census (1940 will be available in 2012). You can access the census records on many sites, both for free and for a fee. In another post, we'll discuss the differences between the free and paid websites and why you might want to pay for information.

You'll find rich information on your ancestors in the Census records, but what if you want to know what happened in the 10-year gap? What if the US Census records you need were among those lost to fire? What if you can't find someone that you are absolutely sure lived within the 10-year gap? Try the State Census records.

Florida is one of several states who conducted a State Census every 10 years, between the years of the US Census. Not all counties are included, but it's worth taking a look at the 1885, 1935 and 1945 State Census records for Florida. Take a look at the sites below to access them:

Ancestry.com Free index with registration, fee for images
FamilySearch (pilot) Free (1885 not indexed, images only)

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