Feathers of snow brushed across the living room window as Grace read her bible. It was an afternoon ritual rarely missed and though the pages of the little bible had frayed from wear, Grace discovered new inspiration with each new read.

As she folded the ribbon across the crease to mark her spot, Grace flipped to the back page to pen a new entry: "We had the first snow on the 10th of November 1972."

Family bibles are considered goldmines by family historians, often imparting details of births, deaths and marriages. They are a primary source of record for many and even lineage societies such as the DAR deem family bibles as valid and truthful identification of genealogical material.

But the discovery of my paternal grandmother's little bible tickled my heart as I read her daily notes. It is void of genealogical value. No elaborate family tree of ancestral details, just daily happenings and little thoughts that floated from pen to paper on an average day, of an average year, to an average woman.

I have discovered that on the 19th of May 1972, my grandmother got her hair permed and on the 5th of October 1972, my Aunt Irene visited my grandparents and left on the 10th.

Turning the pages, I discover that "Truman died on the 26th day of December 1972" and "Johnson died on the 22nd day of January 1973" and somewhere in between, a family member "left for overseas."

Dates of president's deaths, Vietnam war deployments, weekly hair appointments and autumn snows--a year in the life of my grandmother squeezed amidst the pages of a little tattered bible.

A sort of daily journal, unremarkable yet precious to me. It captures a life in its simplicity and that alone holds intrinsic value and I shall treat it as such.

Search out your family bibles and if you find one filled with beautiful, elaborate trees forthcoming of ancestral value then rejoice in the discovery. But if you are fortunate to run across a little tattered bible, ripped at the seams from daily use, you may turn the pages and realize a simple day in the life of your grandmother.

And feel grateful in the discovery because sometimes, daily simplicity holds great value too.

For websites with downloadable family bibles for genealogical research, look for: Ancestor's Hunt and Bible Records Online.

Keep searching for answers,


A Call From Home


The Bridge of Tears. The bridge that Donegal immigrants crossed on the way to the Londonderry Port.
If you are of Irish descent, you are being called home.

The Gathering: a year long calling from your ancestor's homeland asking you to return, even if you have never been, because Ireland knows if you are a part of the Irish Diaspora, then your heart surely belongs to them.

The Irish Government along with private partners, businesses and the tourism industry, have designated 2013 as The Gathering: a yearlong celebration of Irish music, heritage, festivals, sporting events that they hope will call home many of the Irish Diaspora around the world.

It begins in Dublin in January 2013 and festivals and events are sprinkled throughout the country until the end of the year. But The Gathering is not just carnivals and fairs. It is history lectures, genealogy sessions and clan reunions; a yearlong focus of discovering or rediscovering your Irish roots.

The Irish Diaspora are Irish immigrants and their descendents living in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada--even as far away as Argentina and South Africa. They are more than 80 million people, Irish born or of Irish descent, living outside Ireland: a little country of a mere 6.4 million today.

A country that over 160 years ago was tragically shattered by famine and poverty; bled dry of its people who were pulled away by a basic need for survival.

There will be many who cannot go but that does not mean if not there, The Gathering cannot be experienced. I expect the event will reach out through the Internet and we will hear more as the year approaches. I sense Ireland understands their Irish Diaspora have begun searching for their ancestors and in turn, the country is slowly opening its vaults.

PRONI and Irish Genealogy (a government sponsored website), are making more ancestral records available and free to the public. It is a constant appeal by the Irish Genealogical Society to the Irish Government, pleading their case that Irish descendents "own" their ancestor's records: a principle of public ownership and right of access.

Our desire to grasp hold of our family history and feel our ancestral heritage continues to expand and blossom. And it is refreshing that an entire country is calling us back.

To gather up its flock and perhaps open its vaults so we can experience a bit of our Irish ancestors at home and maybe...even abroad.

Keep searching for answers,

I stole a visit inside my childhood home last week and was stunned to discover the house and entire community moved ten miles away!

Impossible? Not in the world of genealogy. Ancestry.com has been diligently indexing the names on the 1940 US Census records; millions now fully searchable. And my state, Oklahoma, has been completed.

Unexpectedly faced with the 1940 US Census of both my parents, I swiftly magnified each, skimming along as I read of my parents, grandparents and great-grandmother.

Neither census revealed features unknown to my family history except for one surprising and unusual element: the address. The little unincorporated community of the house where I grew up was within the township boundaries of a Tulsa suburb that is at present, ten miles away.

Seventy-two years of city, county and US Post boundaries have evolved, dissolved or shifted and family homesteads, especially those in rural communities, may have different addresses on the 1940 Census than today. Chalk it up to the fascinating and frustrating world of genealogy: everything old is new again.

Surprised at my little discovery, it was a simple reminder that if we hope to go forward into the digging of family history, we have to keep our minds open and inviting to all possibilities. Everything and nothing is as it seems. Proud family stories are suddenly dispelled; great-grandfathers had 2nd, sometimes 3rd wives and county boundaries shift from census year to census year.

And this is supposed to be fun?

You betcha. Genealogy is a hobby that continues to reveal surprises even of our closest, immediate family and in order to stay in the game, we have to be ready when it comes.

Delight in the shifting of facts and go with the flow.

You do not have to have an Ancestry.com membership to search the 1940 US Census. All fifty states are complete and fully searchable and Ancestry.com has provided a neat trick, highlighting each category as you glide along. It allows greater readability and interpretation of results.

The world of genealogy is exploding with new ancestral records every day and the ride continues to twist and turn.

We just have to remember to turn with it.

Keep searching for answers,

(Two other great resources to search the 1940 US Census are FamilySearch.org and the National Archives.)
Loving the beauty, art and of course, food of France, I subscribe to a French travel magazine for Americans. And this month, wouldn't you know it, an article on French Ancestry is highlighted.

The author of the article takes his readers with him as he ventures back to France to search for his father's family from the South Western end of the Cote d'Azur.

The author and family researcher, Chris Granet, reconnects with the charming homeland of his father. He provides a glimpse into the process of searching for French ancestors, noting the vastness of genealogical records within the archives of most of France's 101 Departements.

I am proud of my Irish and Scottish Ancestry but I drool every time I glance at French surnames on my family tree. Stumbling my way through the French language since high school French Class, I dream of a life in France, but occasional short trips will have to suffice. And though I am certain my family's culture was heavily influenced by our Irish Ancestry, I like to think the small bit of French on our tree added whimsy and flare.

I have struggled with the identity of my closest French ancestors: the parents of my paternal great-great-grandfather. The little dark-haired, dark-eyed Frenchman from Arkansas left few clues, strangely absent from census records until 1870. And though I have worked my fingers raw, few records have been found. Just my father's descriptive notes of a French grandmother, one census record stating my ancestor's mother was born in France and few fragments more.

Deeper along the lineage, French Huguenots dot the branch as it moves toward the 1600's but for me, I always search for the details of my closest immigrant ancestors--it just feels more real and touchable.

So I continue my struggle, hoping some day to stumble upon the identity of my French great-great-great-grandparents living only a couple of hours away (minus about 160 years.)

In a salute to my French Ancestry, I began a page of links for French genealogical websites. Though the search can be cumbersome due to obvious language barriers, they are worth looking at if you have any inkling of French Heritage. And of course there is quite a bit of information on French Huguenots.

The French Genealogy Blog is well done and in English; informative with fabulous research tips. Also, numerous real French Ancestral Records can be found on Family Search.org.

The Huguenots France.org has an English option, as does Huguenots Picards and several other sites seem friendly to non-French researchers.

If not already, I highly recommend becoming familiar with the geography and Departement Divisions within the country--obtaining a good map for reference while researching is highly recommended.

So take a look at my new French Links Page and come back often as it continues to build. I hope it gives you a peek through your French ancestral window and in time...mine too.

Keep searching for answers,

(Source: France; North America's best-selling magazine about France. September 2012