Family History Month 2012

Family History Month 2012

It’s Family History Month 2012 at the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research (another one of my favorite months of the year) . . . woo-hoo! Below is a list of  EXCELLENT events and programs taking place the whole month of October 2012:

Genealogy Basics Boot Camp

Saturday, October 6, 2012 1:30PM-3:00PM

Interested in your family history, but not quite sure where to start? Found some information, but need to know what else is available? Join the boot camp for an exercise in genealogical research resources! This session focuses on starting genealogical research by examining basic tools, such as the pedigree chart, and basic research strategies. Learn about the different genealogical materials available to researchers and how they lead to other sources. Reservations required. Please call 832-393-2600. Adults/Teens.

Crossing the Wide Blue Seas: Passenger Lists of Our Ancestors

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 2:00PM-3:30PM

Since the discovery of the New World, ships have been bringing passengers to our shores to start new lives. Some of these voyages were well documented and some not. In this talk we will be discussing how to find evidence of your ancestors on passenger lists. Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600. Adults/Teens.

Beginning German Research

Friday, October 12, 2012 10:30AM-12:00PM

Do you have German roots but are unsure about how to get started researching records outside the United States? Are you trying to find the town of origin from which your ancestors came, and what records are available for that town? This session deals with basic-level German research, with a focus on church and civil records and how to find them and use them. Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600. Adults/Teens.

1st Louisiana Guard: Free Men of Color in the Civil War

Co-sponsored by the Afro American Historical Genealogical Society – Willie Lee Gay Chapter (Houston)

Saturday, October 13, 2012 10:30AM-12:00PM

This presentation will feature case studies involving the Civil War pension files of two free men of color, Casimir SAM and his cousin Martin WHITE, who served in the 1st Louisiana Guard, later the 73rd Louisiana Colored Troops. Learn how valuable Civil War pension files can be in researching the lives and family history of your ancestors. Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600. Adults/Teens.

South Carolina History, Formation of Counties, Sources, Special Research Problems, Hints!

Saturday, October 13, 2012 2:00PM-4:00PM

Learn about several helpful research sources (online resources, South Carolina Archives, and collections in other repositories) and hints on organizing your research. Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600. Adults/Teens.

City Directories

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 6:00PM-7:30PM

Have you ever wondered why people use city directories in genealogy? Learn how they can be useful in your research, how to use them effectively and where they may be found today. Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600. Adults/Teens.

 1st Annual Genealogy Lock-In – Discover History for Yourself

Friday, October 19, 2012 2:00PM-5:15PM – three pre-event virtual presentations

Friday, October 19, 2012 6:00PM-12:00AM – Lock-in and optional presentations. Two are virtual; the last one is an in-house speaker.

In celebration of Family History Month in October, the Houston Public Library’s Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research will be sponsoring its 1st Annual Genealogy Lock-in at the library. This event is free and open to anyone interested in genealogy.

This event will showcase the library’s genealogy collection. It’s a great opportunity for both the novice and the experienced researcher to learn more about genealogy and to pursue their individual family’s history. The Lock-in will include genealogical advice, instruction, and light snacks.

We are pleased to announce that this year’s Lock-in will be held in conjunction with the same type of event being held at four other libraries across Texas. These libraries include: The Texas State Library and Archives Commission; Special Collection Department of the Denton Public Library; Genealogy, Local History, Texana, and Archives of the Plano Public Library; and the West Waco Library and Genealogy Center.


Registration for the pre-event sessions and for the lock-in MUST be made in advance.

The pre-event programming during the day is open to everyone, even those not planning on attending the extended hours Lock-in. All three sessions will be virtual. You may sign up for any or all of these sessions. Registration is limited to 50.

I.     Resources of the Southwest Regional Archives (NARA)


Aaron Holt, Archives Technician

He will discuss the resources of this great national institution. Learn about Indian records, national records, business and other records of genealogical value.

II.     Using the Treasures in FamilySearch


Lynell Moss of the Plano Family History Center

Learn about all the tools currently available on and seven tips for getting better results when searching the more than 1250 collections in Historical Records.

III.     Ancestry Library Edition: What’s New


Edward Loera, ProQuest Database trainer

Listen to Mr. Loera highlight what’s new in content and features and provide us his insight on how to best use this premier resource for genealogical research.

There will be three optional presentations during the Lock-in. These sessions will be virtual, except for “Unusual Resources”. You may sign up for any or all of the sessions . You must be signed up for the Lock-in to attend any of these three classes. Registration is limited to 100.

IV.     Genealogy 101: How to Get Started in Genealogy


Cheryl Smith, Genealogy Librarian (Plano)

She will speak on filling out a pedigree chart, where to find information, software suggestions, Internet sites, and more.

V.     Resources of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission


Sara Hayes, Reference Librarian, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Learn about genealogy resources available on-site and online from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in Austin.

VI.     Unusual Genealogy Resources


Susan Kaufman, Manager, Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Houston Public Library

Susan will provide an overview of unusual resources and not often used sources that can give a deep insight into your family history.


Lock-in attendees do not have to stay until midnight. You can come to the lock-in (if you are registered) any time between 6:00PM and 10:30PM.

This event is for adults/teens.

Security will be provided, and reservations will be checked.

For more information, contact Sue Kaufman, Clayton Manager, at 832-393-2602 or Please use LOCK-IN for the subject line.

Lineage Day

Saturday, October 20, 2012 10:30AM-4:00PM

Visit with representatives from many genealogical and historical lineage societies to discuss their organizations. Get some hints that can help you identify those ancestors for entry into those societies. Representatives include, but are not limited to, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the Republic of Texas, and Cherokee Nation. No reservations needed. Adult/Teens.

 Unusual Resources

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 6:00PM-7:30PM

Learn about some very unusual record groups for genealogical research, sources not often thought of. Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600. Adults/Teens.

 Beginning English Research

Saturday, October 27, 2012 10:30AM-12:00PM

An overview of some of the records you might find most useful when looking for your ancestor from England, such as census and civil registration records, parish registers and much more. Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600. Adults/Teens.

 Quick Start your Genealogy! Overview of Genealogical Research Tools

Wednesday, October 31, 1:00PM-3:30PM

1:30PM-2:00PM HPL Catalog

2:10PM-2:50PM Ancestry Library Edition; FamilySearch

3:00PM-3:30PM Ordering microprint from Salt Lake City

Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600. Adults/Teens.

Family History Book Sale

October 1-30 2012

The Clayton Library will be holding its Family History Book Sale in October. All Clayton’s duplicate family history books will be available for sale. These are donated books that we already own; the copies offered for sale have never been part of our collection.

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
5300 Caroline Street
Houston, Texas 77004
Phone: 832-393-2600

Library Hours are:
M Closed | T 10-6 | W 10-8 | Th 10-6 | F 10-5 | Sa 10-5 | Su Closed


Tuesday’s Tip: Five Steps to Getting Started with Your Family Research

My return to family research with the launch of this blog in 2011, prompted a few family members and friends to ask questions about my research process. The number one question they all wanted to know was — how did I get started with my family research! Getting started is not as difficult as you think. Thanks to new technology and the digitization of so many records which are now available online, getting started with your family research could not be easier. So regardless of your method (using a computer to manage family research, or maintaining paper files of family data organized and stored in cabinets or binders) the basic steps with getting started are the same. Below are five steps anyone can use to get started with their family research.


Record everything you already know about yourself and your family on a Family Group Sheet and Pedigree Chart.

A Family Group Sheet allows you to list all of your family members and pertinent details about them. I recommend that you complete a Family Group Sheet for “everyone” during your research process. I’ve provided a link to a Family Group Sheet I use below. Download it and make as many copies as you need for your research. [1]

Family Group Sheet (complete online then print or save for your files)

A Pedigree Chart allows you to list information about your “pedigree” — such as your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. Below is a link to a Pedigree Chart that I use regularly. Download it and make as many copies  of it as you need for your research. [2]

Pedigree Chart (complete online then print or save for your files)

Once you have listed everything you know about your own immediate family, proceed backwards in time, one generation at a time, listing ancestors on your chart and group sheets.


After filling in your group sheets and charts with as much information as you can, look for “Home Sources” that may provide additional information — such as names, places, and dates — in your research. Useful home sources include birth, marriage, divorce, and death certificates; newspaper obituaries; funeral programs/memorial cards, and much more.  I’ve provided a link to a Genealogical Source Checklist I refer to daily. Download this document and refer to the “Family and Home Records” for source ideas to information about your ancestors. You may want to check with other relatives (if possible) also to see if they have any home sources that may help with your research. [3]

Genealogical Source Checklist

Be sure to reference all of your home sources so you will know exactly where your information came from.


Set aside some time to interview relatives such as your parents and other older members in your family. It’s time to go beyond just collecting names and dates; you are actually ready to collect stories that will breathe life into your research. Therefore, it is very important that you ask close-ended and open-ended interview questions that will help you capture the kind of facts and information you need for your research.

Closed-ended questions encourage short, to the point answers.

Open-ended questions encourage a full, meaningful answer. They are questions that do not have a simple yes, or no, or a number for an answer.

I’ve provided a link to 175 close-ended and open-ended genealogy interview questions compiled by Tracey Carrington Converse that I use below. Download these questions and use them to plan and prepare for your family interviews. [4]

Genealogy Interview Questions

Some folks prefer to take detail notes during the interview. Others prefer to use a tape recorder or a video recorder to capture the interview. Regardless of the method/technology, be sure you are comfortable with it prior to the interview. Record everything you’ve learned from your interviews to your group sheets and charts and don’t forget to reference all relatives who give you information.


By now, you and family members have completed your group sheets and charts with as much information as you can locate and remember. Now it’s time to turn to other sources to locate missing, incorrect, and incomplete information about your ancestors. So, the hunt begins with you selecting an individual, a family, or a surname from your family group sheets and/or pedigree chart to look for information. Refer to the Genealogical Source Checklist I mention above for a full list of sources to research for your ancestors. Consider using this checklist to plan visits to libraries with genealogy collections, historical societies, family history centers, and archives to locate family information. Explore the Internet for information and leads on your ancestors. When you run out of vital records to research, use historical sources by studying the geographical and historical background of the towns, counties, cities, and states where your ancestors lived.

Be sure to make a record (paying close attention to call numbers, volume and pages numbers) of all the sources you read, review, and use in your research. Take pictures. Make photocopies when necessary. I’ve provided a link to Family Tree Magazine’s Note Taking Form that I use below. Download it and make plenty copies for your files! [5]

Note-Taking Form


As you begin accessing and using a variety of new sources in your research, you are going to locate information that will require you to evaluate it for its accuracy and usefulness. Therefore, each time you locate information about your ancestors, you must ask yourself:

  • Is this the information I’m really looking for?
  • Are there some inconsistencies with this information with regards to what I already know and have found?
  • Did this information offer any clues to more useful information and leads?

In short, the evaluation of all information you find is what helps you to connect the relationship dots in your family tree!

Organize your research! So which organizational method is best – binders, computers, notebooks, or folders? Ask a group of genealogists this question and you will soon learn that ALL of these methods are the best – LOL! I organize my research via binders (which are handy enough for me to take along on trips to libraries and archives) and online via my computer. So I can say with certainty that the best method is always going to be the one that fits your personality and style. Regardless of which method is best, the key here is having a system that will allow you to find family information when you need it!

Last, but certainly not least, as you compile your research in those infamous binders, notebooks, folders, and online, etc. — be sure to share your research! Genealogy is a lifelong activity that will connect you to new relatives and give you a deeper appreciation of your heritage.

Well, that’s it!

When you have gone as far as you can in researching a particular individual, a family, or surname – stop and take a break. Then return to Steps 4 – 5 again with another new individual, family or surname from your family group sheets and/or pedigree charts.


Source Citations:

1. Misbach Enterprises. (2010). Family Group Record. Misbach Enterprises. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from

2. Misbach Enterprises. (2010). 5 Generation Pedigree Chart. Misbach Enterprises. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from

3. Family Tree Magazine. (2008). Genealogical Source Checklist. Family Tree Magazine. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from

4. Converse, T. C. (n.d.). Interview Questions. Genealogy Records Service. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from

5. Family Tree Magazine. (2002). Note-Taking Form. Family Tree Magazine. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from