What is the first step in doing genealogical research? Look anywhere and you will find this advice, “Start with what you and your living relatives know.” Sitting down together with friends and family for Thanksgiving dinner gives many of us a rare opportunity to reminisce about our lives. When dinner is over, sit in a quiet corner with an older person and record a conversation using the StoryCorps app on your smartphone.

Yes, I know, many of you who are reading this are the ‘older person’ and you might not even own a smartphone, but read on. The Great Thanksgiving Listen was designed as a learning tool for students 13 and older to record and preserve the stories and voices of older relatives. It’s all about listening. If you have a teenager in your family, they might have already heard about this project from their history teacher but anyone can participate. If the person being interviewed agrees, the recording will be saved to the StoryCorps archives at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Go to to read about the project, download the app, and

“Help StoryCorps archive the wisdom of generations.” 

An Important Indexing Project

Have you heard of ‘The Freedmen’s Bureau Project’? The Freedmen’s Bureau was established after the Civil War to help enslaved people transition into free citizens.
FamilySearch International, in partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society and the California African American Museum, has launched this initiative to index this wealth of information as quickly as possible. They are looking for as many volunteers as possible. You do not have to commit to any specific amount of time or names.
Go to to view a video explaining the project and see how easy it is to register with FamilySearch to start indexing these important records.


Madison County (VA) Chancery Court Records Scanned

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce that digital images for Madison County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1794-1912, are now available online through the Chancery Records Index <> on LVA’s Virginia Memory <> website. Chancery cases are useful when researching local history, genealogical information, and land or estate divisions. They are a valuable source of local, state, social, and legal history and serve as a primary source for understanding a locality’s history. Read more about the collection at:

Handy Forms for Researching Deeds at the Courthouse

Before you take that trip to the courthouse to research your ancestor’s property history, have a look at this: Land Records elements. It contains definitions of terms used in deeds, and describes the types of land records you might encounter.

When you’re ready to go, print out a few copies of this handy form and take them along: Abstract of Deed. The prompts will better your chances of walking out of the courthouse with all the information you need.

Making History: Transcribe Launches Today! — Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia officially launches its new transcription project today! Check it out here:

You can read more about the project over on Out of the Box (the Library of Virginia’s blog):

The current project centers on the Civil War 150 Legacy Project. Thousands of documents were scanned, but transcription of the documents is slow because of the lack of people to do it. The LVA seeks to harness the power of crowd sourcing to solve this problem, as they have done with the Virginia Chronicle website.

In the coming weeks and months, Transcribe will become a part of the larger umbrella called “Making History” — a new home to user engagement efforts. “We’ll be watching how things progress and start working toward the approval process for completed transcriptions, adding content to DigiTool where that’s an option, and adding more content to Transcribe.”

Feel free to publicize the project to your friends and acquaintances. The LVA will be using #TranscribeTuesday on social media to regularly advertise the project and recruit volunteers.