* Conference Victims Find Strength in Numbers
* Oklahoma Veteran Records No Longer Public
* Historical Mexican Newspapers to Be Digitized
* Revolutionary Route Seeks National Recognition
* AncestorNews: Traveling Notes
* Q&A: Cherokee Connections
* Worthwhile Web Sites
* Living History
* Expert Advice: Finding Where Your Ancestors Lived


Were you one of hundreds of people who lost money from
the cancelled International Roots Conference, scheduled
for July 14-18 in Dearborn, Mich.?

Conference registrant Clarise Fleck Soper wants to hear
your story. She, too, lost several hundred dollars because
the conference organizers pulled the plug and didn't issue
refunds (or even file bankruptcy). Soper is heading for
Michigan this weekend to seek answers from state authorities
and meet with an attorney to discuss a possible class-action
lawsuit against the conference organizers. Already, she
has received more than 150 e-mails from other registrants,
vendors and speakers. Join the effort by e-mailing her
at and visiting the newly
formed Internet mailing list,


Fears of identity theft have prompted another state to
remove records from public view. As of July 1, Oklahoma
county clerks can no longer allow genealogists and other
researchers to see US Department of Defense Form 214
records, which document military veterans' status and
eligibility for benefits. You can only access these
records if you are the veteran, the veteran's spouse
or child, a guardian with power of attorney, a Department
of Defense representative, a funeral director or other
person authorized by the court to do so. In recent months,
California, Texas and Maine have also yanked vital records
from public scrutiny because of concerns about identity


A Canadian wind is blowing south of the border, and
that's good news for Mexican roots tracers. Cold North
Wind, the company that digitized Canada's Globe
and Mail and the Toronto Star, just signed a $10 million
deal to scan 20 million pages of Mexican historical
newspapers and periodicals. The project will put 490
titles online, covering three centuries of news and
forming the largest portal of Spanish-language
historical newspapers on the Internet. The site will
be accessible to educational institutions by
subscription and completed by 2005. Learn more about
Cold North Wind's newspaper digitization efforts at


The 600-mile route that George Washington's army marched
to victory over the British at Yorktown, Va., may be
designated a National Historic Trail. The National Park
Service is studying sites along the route, which
runs through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut,
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland
and Virginia, according to the Associated Press. If
the park service convinces Congress to name the route
a National Historic Trail, it would help preserve open
space and develop heritage tourism destinations in the
former colonies. Discover the park service's Web site
about American Revolution-related historic sites at


Recently, I had the chance to travel through quite a bit
of the Northern Plains. I drove from San Diego to Salt
Lake City, then to Casper, Wyo., Billings, Mont.,
Williston and Bismarck, ND, Rapid City, SD, Fort Laramie,
Wyo., down through Denver to Santa Fe and Albuquerque,
up to Chaco Canyon, Flagstaff and Sedona, Ariz., and
back home again. In all, I put close to 5,000 miles on
the car.

I'm not much of a souvenir hunter, but I did return with
a box full of books, a laptop loaded with digital photos
and a few thoughts I'd like to share.

First, if your ancestors settled in the Dakotas, you
come from hardy stock. Although it was already May, I
drove right into a snowstorm that lasted off and on for
a week. I've read how extreme the weather can be in that
part of the country, but living it firsthand was a
different story. Fortunately, I managed to keep warm!

While in Bismarck, ND, I went to the North Dakota State
Archives. I don't have family from there, but promised
a friend I'd try to find something on her family. The
folks at the archives were incredibly helpful, and
although I didn't learn much, it did remind me of how
much local information is stored at state libraries and
historical societies--and how willing the personnel are
to help. If you haven't used these resources for your
state, you're missing out. (You'll find a host of
resources for North Dakota and the other 49 states in
the Family Tree Yearbook 2002; to order, visit

While in North Dakota, I also got to visit the new Lewis
and Clark Interpretive Center. They're gearing up for
next year's 200th anniversary of the trek, and have built
a dandy visitor center. One of the center's gems is a
complete collection of Karl Bodmer prints. Bodmer was a
Swiss artist who came to America in 1832, and captured
the everyday life of the Mandan people. It's fortunate
he did, because a few years later nearly all of the
Mandan were wiped out from smallpox. This is one of
only four US locales where you can see the entire Bodmer
collection. The neat part for me was seeing a Bodmer
print depicting the exact spot where I had stood earlier
in the day.

One more North Dakota note before I sign off: I was
walking through the North Dakota Heritage Center and
out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign about a "Nancy
Hendrickson Exhibit." Boy, did I do a double take! It
seems the other Nancy Hendrickson was a North Dakota
homesteader who alone lived in a tiny shack all her
life. In her later years, she started taking photographs
of her farm pets. My favorite is the one of a cat
wearing a war bonnet! The Heritage Center has on display
her "house" (it's really tiny) and her photographic

I was told that North Dakota is the least visited of the
lower 48 states. That's a pity because it has so much
great history. Think about adding it to your vacation
plans! If you've been to North Dakota, let me know. I'd
love to hear your thoughts about your visit.

Check out these North Dakota sites at

P.S. Thanks to all our readers for your kind notes about
my aunt. So many of you wrote, sharing your own family
experiences with illness, that it really made the
situation much more bearable.

--Nancy Hendrickson

* Hendrickson is a family historian, freelance writer
and the author of two astronomy books. Browse the
archive of her AncestorNews columns at


You've got questions about discovering, preserving and
celebrating your family history; our experts have the

Q. I was adopted when I was 5 and had a wonderful blessing
on Dec. 15, 2001, when my half sister called me from
Massachusetts. My siblings (three brothers and two
sisters) had been looking for me for many years. I have
found out that I am a fourth-generation Cherokee on both
my birth mother's and father's sides. How do I begin to
trace my ancestors?

A: Congratulations on connecting with your birth siblings.
To trace any Indian blood, you need to clearly establish
your connection generation by generation to the Cherokee
ancestry. This would include interviewing family members,
checking state and federal censuses; probate records;
birth, marriage, and death records; tombstones;
obituaries; and other records that will pertain to the
time period and geographic location of the ancestors. Do
some online checks to see if you can find others
researching the same families.

You need to place your Indian ancestors into an area where
Cherokee Indians lived or find them interacting with others
of Cherokee ancestry. Not all people with Indian ancestry
identified themselves as Indians, and this may add some
difficulty to proving your Cherokee heritage. You should
read state and local histories for the places where they

There are many Indian-specific records including censuses,
allotment and annuity records. Many of these are available
via the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. There are
some lists and indexes specific to Cherokee families,
including the Dawes, Guion Miller and other rolls. Some are
published in book format, others on CDs, online or on

If you are new to genealogy, you might take classes on the
subject and read some of the guidebooks on doing research.
Also, pick up a copy of the October 2001 Family Tree
Magazine, which offers a guide to tracing Native American

--Paula Stuart Warren

* Warren is co-author of "Your Guide to the Family History


Overwhelmed by the number of family history-related
Web sites popping up? sorts
through them all--whew!--to bring you only the very
best. We recommended the following as Sites of the
Day during the last two weeks:

* Cambridge Dictionaries Online
A quick and easy-to-use online English dictionary.

* American Civil War Research Database
Fully searchable database of US Civil War soldiers
and events.

* Census Online
Web's largest directory of links to online census

* Save Our Cemeteries
Promoting, preserving and protecting New Orleans'
31 historic cemeteries.

* Higginson Book Company
Offers more than 15,000 book and map reprints.

* Burke's Peerage & Gentry Today
Free monthly newsletter from the online guide to
Britain's titled and landed families.

* General Commission on Archives and History--United
Methodist Church
Archives and library of historical records and materials.

* Brigham Young University's Personal Enrichment Courses
Independent-study courses for beginner and advanced

* Census Project--Census Kidz
Looking for volunteer children to transcribe censuses.

* Snips and Clips
Scrapbooking courses, tools and ideas.

* American Medical Association Family History Tools Facts
and forms for researching your family's health history.

* Florida Memory Project
Collection of documents, photographs, diaries and more
dealing with Florida history.

* Ellis Island Immigrants
Learn how to use and access Ellis Island records.

* Tracing Our Roots
A collection of genealogy articles written by a pro.

To view today's Site of the Day, go to and keep checking
daily for more top picks! Suggest a site at


* Asheville, NC--Mountain Melodies

Pull out your blue suede shoes and head to Asheville, NC,
to hear some old-fashioned mountain music. Two festivals
that bring the music of the Southern Appalachian Mountains
to the public will take place this summer. First, hundreds
of the region's best performers put on a show at Shindig
on the Green. Performances showcase big circle mountain
dance, clogging, balladeers, bluegrass bands and songs
played on a variety of Appalachian instruments. Shindig is
a free event that takes place July 13 and 20; Aug. 10, 17,
24 and 31; and Sept. 7.

If you still need more music in your system, check out
Shindig's sister festival, Mountain Dance and Folk Festival.
Entering its 75th year, the folk festival illustrates the
importance of the oral tradition to the Scots-Irish
immigrants who settled the area. The festival will be
held at Pack Place in downtown Asheville Aug. 1-3. Tickets
may be purchased by calling (828) 257-4530. For additional
information on both festivals, call (800) 280-0005 or visit

* Tahlequah, Okla.--Cherokee Culture

Need an activity to preoccupy your children this summer?
Introduce them to the nation's Native American roots with
the help of the Cherokee Heritage Center. The center will
host Cherokee Summer Cultural Day Camp for children ages
8 to 12, July 15-19. Traditional Cherokee games, crafts
and stories will keep the little ones busy from 8 a.m.
to noon. Join your campers on the final day to see what
they've learned and to eat a tasty lunch. The
registration fee for camp is $30. Call (918) 456-6007
or e-mail

For more upcoming living history events, visit


Many of the same sources that help with birth, death
and age information can suggest ancestral residences.
Depending on the time period of the people you are
seeking, a variety of additional sources may help you
identify places of residence at a given time, including
the place to which or from which ancestors moved:

1. Church registers (they may show transfers in or out).
2. County deed, probate, tax and other records, especially
the indexes that you can read rather quickly.
3. Federal military, land, immigration, naturalization and
other records.
4. Membership applications and records of national organizations and lineage societies.
5. Social Security Death Index (deaths after 1936, but not all
6. College transcripts and alumni lists (may include hometowns). 7. City directories, which give current, and occasionally former,
8. Statewide Soundex for 1880 to 1930 US censuses that allows you to survey the reported birthplaces of many people of the same surname.
9. Family and county histories with biographical sketches; use
cautiously and try to verify data.

--Excerpted from "Unpuzzling Your Past" by Emily Anne
Croom, $18.99. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher,
Betterway Books. Available in bookstores or online at