A Must-See Webinar if you have German Ancestors

Genealogy webinars seem to just keep growing and growing in popularity – and I have watched quite a few over the last year or so. The folks over at Millennia, makers of LegacyFamilyTree, have an ongoing series in which the live broadcasts are free. Then, depending on the presenter, recordings are free with no expiration or free for a limited time, after which you can purchase a CD. I’ve watched quite a few of the Legacy webinars and almost always pick up at least one or two tidbits (or more!). But I have to say that yesterday’s webinar “Researching Your German Ancestors” by Kory Meyerink was one of the most informative and relevant to my research. I have many German-speaking ancestors who arrived in America throughout the 1700s. If you do too, you really should check out this webinar. It’s available to view for free until June 18 at this link.

Have You Found Anyone in the 1940 Census Yet?

I have to say that after a rocky start I made out pretty well yesterday – which was Day 1 of the 1940  US Federal Census release. I started pretty much at 9:oo EDT on the dot trying to access the ED where both my sets of my grandparents lived from the NARA website. After several hours of no luck — meaning the site was too busy and I was not even able to view one image – I tried Ancestry.com. Luckily for me, the state of Pennsylvania was near the top of the queue. By mid-afternoon, some of Chester County was available so I starting looking at North Coventry and South Coventry townships for some “cousins.” I hit the jackpot finding several families.

In the evening Montgomery County, Pennsylvania came online and I was able to access the ED for the 6th Ward of Pottstown. On one of the very first pages was my maternal grandparents with my mom as a little girl!!! A couple pages later I found my dad and his family!! There were really no surprises – everyone in the immediate families were right where they were supposed to be, working in the jobs I knew they had. But it was so cool to view their families and their neighbors and to actually recognize names of people I knew or had heard about!!

If you weren’t as lucky as I was on Day 1, don’t give up. Ancestry is continuing to load the states and seems well-equipped for the volume of people wanting access. (Currently, I have a subscription, but it is my understanding that the 1940 census images will be available for all to view thru 2013.) FamilySearch doesn’t have images for quite as many states uploaded, but they’ll get there — plus they have a small army of indexers! And, of course, since images are becoming available on these other sites,  there will probably be fewer people trying to access directly from the NARA site. So you may have better success with access there too.

Good Luck and Happy Researching!

Finding Enumeration Maps for Southeastern Pennsylvania Counties

This is an update to my previous post “Tuesday’s Tip – Finding an Enumeration District in the 1940 Census” [link]. In response to that post, I received an email from Ken McCrea who has added a utility to his GermanNames website to aid researchers in finding the ED maps for various southeastern Pennsylvania counties and their population centers (cities/town/townships).

Go to his website [link] and at the very top you can click go to “Guides to the 1940 Census for Southeastern Pennsylvania.” From there it is pretty self-explanatory. He is providing direct links to the maps at the NARA Online Public Access site, eliminating the need to formulate a search query. It makes finding the maps a little more straight-forward.

(Almost) Wordless Wedding Wednesday

In keeping with the Geneablogger Wednesday themes of (Almost) Wordless and Wedding, today’s post is a tribute to the 151st wedding anniversary of my 2x’s great-grandparents Charles James and Emma Ibach. They were married in Pottstown, Pennsylvania on February 28, 1861. I don’t have an actual wedding photo, but they are pictured here in a family photo along with one of their daughters. I used my own scrapkit for the layout.

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday’s Tip – Finding An Enumeration District in the 1940 Census

In just 34 days (April 2) the 1940 census will be released.  I have already signed up with FamilySearch.org to be an indexer. If you want to help too, you can get more information at the 1940 Census site: [link].

But what if you don’t want to wait for volunteers to build the name index? With a little effort and persistence there is apparently a way you may be able to find some of your relatives sooner. According to the National Archives site [link], NARA will be releasing  the digital images indexed to the enumeration district level. I wanted to check into this to see how feasible it would be to locate some of my relatives using the this method.

Both my maternal and paternal grandparents lived in Pottstown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in 1940 and I have the exact street addresses. I wanted to see how easy (or hard) it is to find the enumeration district(s).

I started with the Steve Morse Unified 1940 Census ED Finder page [link]. I entered the state and county, but as it turns out, Pottstown was not one of the options on the city/town drop-down list. I had to chose other and enter Pottstown in the adjacent box. Clicking on the “Get 1940 ED numbers” box resulted in the screen below. The red box shows where I had to choose “Other” from the drop down box and then enter the town name. If the city I wanted had been available on the drop down menu, I could have entered the House Number and Street and pin pointed the ED. As it turns out, I got a list of all the ED’s in Pottstown.

In order to get more information about the EDs returned on the search screen displayed above, I clicked the 1940 ED Description radial button and the then the “More Details” button. The result is displayed below:

In reading through the ED descriptions, the boundaries are described in clock-wise rotation. I drew the red box around ED 173, which is the one containing both my paternal and maternal grandparents’ homes. You can get more information (such as the number of residences included in that ED) by clicking on the view button on the right.

The reason I was able to hone in on ED 173 is because I am familiar with the street layout in this area of Pottstown. It would, however, be easier to visualize the EDs if they were drawn on a map. So finding the map was my next step.

As it turns out, you can get an ED map display from the NARA 1940 census research site: [link]. Follow the instructions under bullet 3 on that page. It will advise you to go to the Online Public Access Page [link]. I entered “1940 census enumeration district maps pottstown pennsylvania” in the search box on the Online Public Access page, and got the following map:

By zooming in using the controls at the bottom of the map, it’s easy to confirm that ED 173 is indeed the one containing the addresses that I am interested in. So now, come April 2nd, I have the option of either waiting for the name index or browsing through the images of ED 173.