IN THIS EDITION -- April 25, 2002


Cooking Up a New Swedish Guide


The Family History Library has cooked up a new guide for Swedish genealogists, part of a new series called "Finding Records of Your Ancestors." The first of the two-part Swedish workbook includes 20 pages of step-by-step instructions on finding and using Swedish records, maps, historical timelines, naming customs and tips on using the Family History Library catalog. It covers records from 1860 to 1920; the second part, to be released next year, will cover additional time periods and research strategies. "Finding Records of Your Ancestors, Part A Sweden" costs $3.25 and can be ordered by calling (800) 537-5971 or visiting

The library is working on additional guides for this series, which will be published later this year, including the British Isles, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Spain and Switzerland. A guide to Danish research was released earlier this year.


Ancestry Releases First 1930 Census Index

The 1930 US census was released just a few weeks ago, and as posts digitized images of these microfilmed records, the site is also creating new indexes of them. The first state to appear online was Delaware, and just last week an index of all Delaware residents listed in the 1930 census was posted on the site. These indexes will be particularly helpful since only a few southern states' 1930 census records were Soundexed by the Works Projects Administration. Ancestry promises more records and indexes of other states in the weeks and months to come.

Heirloom Sharing


This week's tip comes from Wendy A. Boughner Whipple of Matteson, Ill.:

"What do you do when an item is precious to a member of the family, but you'd like to have it too? Share it!

"My aunt has her mother's recipe box. I'd be a liar if I claimed I wouldn't like to have it myself, but I understand that it's precious to her. What I did was to ask to borrow it, scan the contents onto my computer, and return it immediately. It took some doing, but eventually she let me take it home with me. I had it for two days before sending it back insured and packed in a mile of bubble wrap.

"I may not have Grandma's box, but I was able to buy the same style box in an auction online. I may not have the recipes, but I have scans of every one of them that I could print out and refill that box.

"I also have a little history. Neighbors' and friends' names are on some of the recipes with dates. The ones that are the most stained and worn are clearly the ones that saw the most use. Most of the recipes are for desserts (cookies, cakes and the like) because Grandma didn't use recipes for many of the things she made. (For instance, she was a southern cook, and fried nearly every piece of meat she and Grandpa ate-you don't need a recipe to fry pork chops.)

"This works for things other than recipe cards. Maybe a cousin has the family Bible. I don't recommend putting that on a photocopier or a scanner. Instead, take lots of pictures with a good camera and a close-up lens. Then you'll have pictures of the information you want, even if you can't keep the book. Treasured photos can be (and should be, for preservation's sake) scanned and reproduced with a good printer.

"Offer to make copies of everything you do for the person you're asking to borrow the things from. I burned a copy of Grandma's recipes onto a CD for my aunt. Pictures can be enlarged, framed, restored, archived and identified as a reference. Share what you have, too, whenever a cousin asks you to share one of YOUR treasures."


Probate and Estate Records


Q. What might I find in probate documents? What should I do first when using these records?

A. Probate documents, also called probate dockets or packets or files, contain many important papers. These papers might include guardianships of minor children, estate inventories, wills, administrations, affidavits, receipts, appointment of executors, lists of heirs, and any number of other records considered by the governmental authorities to be pertinent to the settlement of an estate. Every state or country may have several or all of these records included in the probate record, and some of them may be filed as completely separate documents. Do your research before you head out to locate any type of record, and understand what is and is not included within it.

It is imperative to know whether you are looking at the original papers or a transcription of them. Whether you are using microfilm or paper documents, look at the format of the papers. Are the records in book form on consecutively numbered pages? If so they are not the originals. Most microfilmed probate records were made from the copybooks, not the original probate packets or dockets. A probate packet should be an envelope or file with many pieces of paper that were created throughout the probate process. These papers, but not necessarily all of them, were copied into the books in a standard format, so remember that the books are transcriptions of the original documents and subject to copying errors. When you write to request copies of probate records, make sure to specify that you want copies of the original papers and not the copybooks. It is also important to specify that you want copies of both the front and back of each paper included in the file.

-Excerpted from The Genealogist's Question & Answer Book by Marcia Yannizze Melnyk, $18.99. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher, Betterway Books. Available in bookstores or online at