Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Century of North Carolina City Directories Now Online

Courtesy of the UNC Library News and Events Blog at

image from directory
Wilmington, N.C., directory, 1940
Before Google or Siri, before the telephone book or even the telephone, humble city directories helped salesmen, businesses, and newcomers contact clients and neighbors.

Now a century’s worth of North Carolina directories is online (here) as part of the City Directories Collection from the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center (NCDHC). The collection features 939 directories from the years 1860 through 1963. They cover 108 cities in 64 counties.

The NCDHC is a statewide digital library based at the UNC Library and sponsored by the State Library of North Carolina. Through cooperative projects with libraries, museums, historical societies, and cultural institutions, it has digitized more than two million pages of North Carolina history since its founding in 2010.

The directories are a valuable tool for genealogists, historians, city planners, and anyone curious about the state’s past, said Nick Graham, program coordinator for the Center. “City directories don’t sound interesting until you realize how much is in them,” he said.
 The simplest directories list residents alphabetically, along with their address and occupation. Some have a reverse-directory feature arranged by address that can help researchers understand how businesses turned over from year to year.

Raleigh, N.C., directory, 1875-76
The most comprehensive directories contain a treasure trove of history, such as local business ads and Jim Crow-era publications that denote the race of each resident. Graham said UNC researchers studied the racial geography of Charlotte in 1911 by creating a map using the directories.

A convenient cross-directory search feature allows users of the collection to find all instances of a single name, business, or industry in the entire collection. Most of the directories come from the stacks of the North Carolina Collection in UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library.

However, a growing number are from public libraries around the state and from other partners such as the Duke University Library. “Local libraries often have things that UNC does not,” said Graham. He invites libraries and historical societies interested in digitizing their city directories to contact him at or (919) 962-4836.

The State Library of North Carolina supports the NCDHC with funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library and Services and Technology Act. UNC contributes the technical and administrative infrastructure and the expertise of staff consultants.

Friday, September 13, 2013

AncestryDNA Ethnicity Update -- They Did Update It Sorta!

Well if you are one of my readers who took an Ancestry Autosomal DNA test, no doubt you probably marveled at the ethnicity that Ancestry reported to you (I didn't realize I that I so  much Scandinavian in me even though over 60% of my lineage is, wait for it, GERMAN. That German part of my lineage must have manifest itself in that 4% uncertain.  When you add that to my Mom's ethnicity, well, as I told the folks at Ancestry, they blew it.

                     My Autosomal Ethnicity                             Mom's Ethnicity
                     British Isles 57%                                         Eastern European 40%
                     Scandinavian 22%                                       Central European 26%
                     Southern European 17%                              Scandinavian 25%
                     Uncertain 4%                                               British Isles 9%

Well this afternoon I saw a bunch of messages on the DNA-Newbie newsgroup that Ancestry has revised their ethnicity calculations.

You can read about click clicking here

Imagine my surprise when I checked my AncestryDNA account and saw that all three of my kits that I manage had that orange button in the upper right hand corner. Yahoo, oh wait that is a search engine!

Well I have looked at all three kits I manage and I can safely say they have put out a much better and accurate product.

Here is my Mom's new ethnic results:

Asia  < 1% 
    Asia Central < 1% .

Europe  96% 
     Great Britain 41% .
     Europe East 28% .
     Europe West 19% .
Trace Regions 8% ..
    Italy/Greece 4% .
    Scandinavia 2% .
    Finnish/Northern Russia 1% .
    Ireland < 1%

West Asia  3% 
 Trace Regions 3% ..
    Caucasus 3%

Much better considering that more than 60% of her paper trail is a German lineage. And here is the new presentation screen:

And now here is my new results:

Asia  < 1% 
 Trace Regions < 1% ..
    Asia Central < 1% .

Europe  99% 
    Europe West 62% .
    Ireland 12% .
    Great Britain 7% .
    Scandinavia 5% .
 Trace Regions 13% ..
    Iberian Peninsula 6% .
    Europe East 5% .
    Italy/Greece 1% .
    European Jewish < 1%

There is also some useful help material available to explain this material on another screen.

The "sorta" in my blog post title refers to the fact that only a handful of the AncestryDNA testers have seen this new feature and not the entire AncestryDNA Universe. So I guess I'm one of the lucky 6000 selected to preview and survey this new stuff. Thanks Ancestry. I do love chatting with you folks from time to time on things I see needing improvement.

Oh, by the way, could you please now work on a Chromosome Browser package for your Autosomal AncestryDNA package. It really would be a great thing to have and make my life as a genetic genealogist a hell of a lot easier. Please, please develop and implement a chromosome browser. Maybe begging will work instead of a hard line.

I hope to have more on this as it becomes available so stay tuned to the Family Roots and Branches blog.

Friday, September 6, 2013 and FamilySearch to Make a Billion Global Records Available Online



Groundbreaking Agreement to Deliver Valuable Historical Content Over the Next Five Years

PROVO, Utah, Sept. 5, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- and FamilySearch International (online at, the two largest providers of family history resources, announced today an agreement that is expected to make approximately 1 billion global historical records available online and more easily accessible to the public for the first time. With this long-term strategic agreement, the two services will work together with the archive community over the next five years to digitize, index and publish these records from the FamilySearch vault.

The access to the global collection of records marks a major investment in international content as continues to invest in expanding family history interest in its current markets and worldwide. expects to invest more than $60 million over the next five years in the project alongside thousands of hours of volunteer efforts facilitated by FamilySearch.

"This agreement sets a path for the future for and FamilySearch to increasingly share international sets of records more collaboratively," said Tim Sullivan, CEO of "A significant part of our vision for family history is helping provide a rich, engaging experience on a global scale. We are excited about the opportunities it will bring to help benefit the family history community and look forward to collaborating with FamilySearch to identify other opportunities to help people discover and share their family history."

The organizations will also be looking at other ways to share content across the two organizations. Both organizations expect to add to the already digitized records shared across the two websites in addition to new record projects to be completed over the next five years.

"We are excited to work with on a vision we both share," said Dennis Brimhall, President of FamilySearch. "Expanding online access to historical records through this type of collaboration can help millions more people discover and share their family's history."

This marks a groundbreaking agreement between the two services. But the two organizations aren't strangers to working with each other; hundreds of millions of records have already been shared and are available on and The companies also announced in early 2013 an additional project where they plan to publish 140 million U.S. Wills & Probate images and indexes over the next three years—creating a national database of wills and other probate documents spanning 1800-1930 online for the very first time.

About is the world's largest online family history resource with approximately 2.7 million paying subscribers across all its websites. More than 11 billion records have been added to the sites and users have created more than 50 million family trees containing more than 5 billion profiles. In addition to its flagship site, the company operates several Ancestry international websites along with a suite of online family history brands, including, and, all designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

About FamilySearch
FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,800 family history centers in 70 countries, including the renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.