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<February 2015>

More Links

# Friday, February 27, 2015
Genealogy News Corral: Feb. 23-27
Posted by Diane

  • Subscription site Findmypast added several new UK, Irish and Australian record collections for Findmypast Friday, including 1832 cholera victims, British Trade Union membership registers,  Irish newspapers, New South Wales cemetery transcriptions and more. Read more about the updated databases on the Findmypast Fridays home page.

FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Events | Genealogy TV | UK and Irish roots
Friday, February 27, 2015 3:41:26 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Group Genealogy Effort Underway to ID Mystery Photo of Buffalo Soldiers
Posted by Diane

Genealogist Luckie Daniels, a blogger at Our Georgia Roots, is leading an effort to identify a recently discovered mystery photo of African-American Buffalo Soldiers.

(Here's a larger version of the image.)

A Taos, NM, woman discovered the old photo sandwiched behind an illustration in a cheap frame she'd purchased years ago at an estate sale in Los Angeles. (A good reminder to look inside old framed images you might be planning to get rid of.) An auction house appraiser told her the 10 men in military uniforms were members of the US Cavalry, 9th Regiment, Company G.

The Buffalo Soldiers were the first peacetime all-black regiments of the regular US Army. They originally were members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, raised in 1866, but eventually included the 9th Cavalry, 24th Infantry and 25th Infantry regiments.

Historians disagree on exactly how they came to be called "Buffalo Soldiers," a name that likely originated from the Indians these soldiers were known for fighting. 

When the owner of the photo recently visited the Taos News for an interview about the image, Daniels, a staff member there, happened to be nearby. She started the blog Where Honor Is Due to centralize the efforts of interested researchers across the country. "All insights and leads are welcome," she says.

The blog's most recent post shares an image of 9th Cavalry Troop L wearing baseball uniforms, spotted in a video produced by the New Mexico History Museum and PBS, which might help narrow a time frame and location for the mystery photo. Buffalo Soldiers began playing competitive baseball around the 1890s.

You'll find a good introduction to this story on the Taos News website, and you can keep up with the ongoing research at Where Honor Is Due (here's the first post).

African-American roots | Military records | Photos
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 10:37:56 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Friday, February 20, 2015
Genealogy News Corral: Feb. 16-20
Posted by Diane

  • MyHeritage is adding millions of Scandinavian genealogy records to its collections, most of which aren't available anywhere else online. The entire 1930 Danish census (which includes Greenland and the Faroe Islands) is now on the site. All other available Danish censuses from 1787 to 1930 will be added over the next two years, as well as parish records from 1646 to 1915.
Also being added are Swedish household examination rolls from 1880 to 1920. About 22 million of the 54 million records are already on MyHeritage, with the remaining records scheduled to go online before the end of June 2015. Read more details on the MyHeritage blog

The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) has added an Early Irish Birth Index to its website. The index contains more than 5,000 records of alternative sources for birth information in Ireland—censuses, newspapers, diaries and more. The birth  index is available only to IGRS members, however, its free to search for just a surname and view the number of matches. IGRS also has a marriage database that anyone can search for free.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | MyHeritage | UK and Irish roots
Friday, February 20, 2015 12:26:03 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, February 19, 2015
FamilySearch, NEHGS Form Resource-Sharing Partnership
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch and the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) have announced a new resource-sharing partnership, and at the same time NEHGS revealed changes coming to its website.

Under the multi-year agreement, FamilySearch will provide NEHGS with more than 2 billion records from its global collections at and its online Family Tree. These records will be added to the newly upgraded, as well as an online family tree experience NEHGS is planning for the site.

The FamilySearch records NEHGS will add to its website include US census transcriptions (1790–1930); civil registrations for Italy, Germany, Scotland, and the Netherlands; English birth, christening, marriage, and death record transcriptions dating from the 15th century through 20th centuries; and census and vital records for states across the United States.

In return, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members will get free access to the genealogy databases at LDS church members can register for this access on the website (where they also can get free access to, Findmypast and MyHeritage).

Additionally, NEHGS will provide millions of its records to FamilySearch, including US and Canadian cemetery records, old tax records, early American military records, early New England marriage records, historical newspapers, and more.

FamilySearch | Genealogy societies
Thursday, February 19, 2015 1:49:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 18, 2015
"Genealogy Roadshow" Episode 6 Investigates Family Mysteries in Philadelphia
Posted by Diane

Last night's "Genealogy Roadshow" visited the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. This was the last regular episode this season, but it looks like next week, we'll see a "Best of Genealogy Roadshow" season finale with highlights from both seasons.

The stories, along with genealogy tips and resources gleaned from them, included:
  • A Methodist minister had heard that her ancestor was a horse thief and counterfeiter who'd given his spoils away, Robin Hood-style. Kenyatta Berry revealed that the great-grandfather, Ed Harmon, was indeed part of "Boss" Buck's gang of horse thieves in an area known as the Pennsylvania Wilds. Newspapers and court records recounted how gang members were arrested for trying to sell counterfeit money. There was no evidence, though, that the gang gave away their money, but Berry said later records did indicate that Harmon managed to become a law-abiding citizen.
  • Mary Tedesco helped a family get to the bottom of the story about a great-grandfather, Charley Flynn, who'd gone missing. Tedesco noted that the show's researchers were suspicious when they discovered the July 18, 1929, date of birth for Flynn's younger son was the same date Flynn's wife gave as her husband's death date. They found no evidence he died that day or even that year—but they did find a 1989 obituary with a matching name and other details. Charley appears to have simply left his wife in 1929, and later married another woman.
  • A young lady with her aunt and uncle brought a family story that their relative had started the world's longest-burning fire. It turned out that her great-great-grandfather, a miner, had been involved in a long, contentious strike in Ohio. A small group miners set the New Straitsville mine on fire, not expecting it to be burning more than 100 years later. The only person to admit his involvement never named his accomplices.
  • A woman with a family story about a seafaring ancestor found out her third-great-grandfather John Griffis was indeed the captain of a merchant ship, who was authorized by Congress to act as a privateer during the Quasi-war with France from 1798 to 1800. His ship's arrivals and departures were reported in newspapers, helping Roadshow researchers trace his whereabouts.
  • An African-American family had a story that a formerly enslaved ancestor, Orin Fulp, was fathered by a slaveowner. Berry traced him back in census records, comparing his 1910 listing as "mulatto" to his 1880 listing as "black." She pointed out that former slaves didn't always take the last name of their owner, but in this case, post-slavery census records show Orin farming on land he'd purchased near other Fulp families, white and black. (Use our guide in the January/February 2015 Family Tree Magazine to trace enslaved African-American ancestors.) No paper records provide a conclusive link, but a DNA test showed a match between the guest and a white family, suggesting her family story is true.

You can watch the Feb. 17 episode of "Genealogy Roadshow" on the PBS website.

I almost forgot: You can apply online to have your family mystery investigated on next season's "Genealogy Roadshow."

African-American roots | Genealogy TV | Jewish roots
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 12:39:24 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Exploring Your Family Tree in FamilySearch's New Family Discovery Center
Posted by Diane

Something cool I got to try during last week's RootsTech/FGS conference in Salt Lake City is the new FamilySearch Discovery Center, which I can best describe as an interactive museum about your family history.

The Discovery Center I visited is the pilot, located inside the FamilySearch Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Another one will be in Seattle, and a third will be in the Museum of the American Revolution, to open in 2017 in Philadelphia. Each center's exhibits can be customized to its location.

You'll get the most out of a visit if you have a FamilySearch family tree, but you can get a taste of the experience even without a tree. Either way, you'll receive images from your visit via email.

When you arrive, sign in on an iPad, either with your FamilySearch login, or as a guest by entering your name, birthdate, and sex, and taking a selfie. Then you carry the iPad with you from station to station, docking it at each one. Stations use your name, ancestor information (if you have a FamilySearch family tree), and uploaded images and stories to help you experience your family history.

For example, the first station showed me the meaning of my first name, stats on my first and last name, and events from my birth year (you can customize this to show highlights from any year during your life).

Another station used an Xbox Kinect-like device to let you pose in the ethnic dress of your ancestors (depending where they're from) and take a snapshot. If you have a FamilySearch family tree, the ethnicities are chosen for you based on birthplaces in your tree. Otherwise, you can choose from about two dozen.

Here I am as a (somewhat idealized) German fräulein.

The station below maps your ancestors' origins and places of residence as recorded in your FamilySearch family tree. On the touchscreen, you can pan around the map, select profiles from your family tree, and view photos and stories for those people. 

This one is really best if you have a FamilySearch tree. Otherwise, you'll see a map with statistics on immigration over time.

The next station takes you inside a room that evokes a time machine, with a large curved screen showing a living room in a home, and a large touchscreen that displays your FamilySearch family tree. The living room changes to reflect the time period of the person you select in your tree, and you see stories (not from your tree) about objects on the screen.

Although this station has an impressive setup, it was less personal than the others. My tour guide told me this exhibit is being tweaked because visitors aren't spending much time here.

Two story recording rooms—one for individuals (on the left in the photo below) and one that also can accommodate groups—let you record your answers to a personal interview conducted by a man on a screen.

You can choose a group of questions based on your age, and some of them are pretty deep (for example, what do I consider my greatest accomplishment and my worst failure, and what have I learned from each). In the future, people might be able to get their questions ahead of time, so they can think about the answers. You can bring photos on a flash drive to view and talk about, and your interview will be emailed to you.

The final station is a review, showing you the screenshots of your experience that you'll also receive later by email (that's me below in Armenian dress, the closest option to my Haddad ancestors' origin in Syria).

I found the Discovery Center a fascinating experience, one with the potential to get visitors excited about their family stories and help them leave a legacy of their own.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1:29:05 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, February 13, 2015
News From FamilySearch's RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch held a dinner Wednesday for members of the media attending the RootsTech conference, happening in Salt Lake City through Saturday. Outreach director and chief marketing officer Shipley Munson shared an overview of the upcoming conference, news, and background on RootsTech's "Who Inspires You?" theme.

Munson gave an estimate of 20,000 registered attendees here, and said that's a conservative number. Every US state except West Virginia is represented, and attendees have come from 35 countries. Saturday will be Family Discovery Day, when members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attend special classes with their children.

RootsTech's selection of some keynote speakers and themes focused on topics such as storytelling and family togetherness has drawn criticism for the departure from the event's original purpose to unite genealogy and technology. Munson seemed to acknowledge this by referring to the "lifestyle" and the "genealogy" audience members at the media dinner.

He explained the conference's "Who Inspires You?" theme by talking about a book called The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler, a psychology professor at Emory University. His research team found that family history knowledge is an important component to family health and confident children.

"Family history is more than genealogy. It's about the collection of stories and photos that give meaning to families," Munson said. "The highest form of family history is the story, and you are the storytellers."

The FamilySearch Family Tree has about 1.1 billion people. The hints that match records to people in the trees is 98 percent accurate. FamilySearch is testing a new indexing system using character recognition software to create the "A-run" index for printed records, with a second pass by human indexers.

Next, FamilySearch's David Pugmire gave an overview of the FamilySearch Innovator Showdown, a competition among those who've introduced new genealogy technology tools and apps. Four finalists, chosen at Tuesday's Innovator Summit, will compete for $25,000 in prize money:

  • ArgusSearch: A Google-like search engine that allows any user to search within any documetn, even most handwritten ones
  • GenMarketplace: A place where you can post a genealogy lookup or other job, and the price goes up (to a maximum price you choose) until someone claims it and does it for you.
  • Lucidpress: An app that lets you create publications for print, digital presentations and video
  • Storyworth: A tool that lets you record family stories a bit at a time, via your responses to regular emailed prompts
A live audience and judges will choose the winner after Friday morning's keynote presentation by former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events

Friday, February 13, 2015 10:41:09 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, February 10, 2015
New Site Combines Social Networking and Genealogy
Posted by Diane

One website celebrating its debut at the RootsTech/FGS conference is This private social network for families combines the real-time sharing capabilities of social networking with genealogy tools.

And if you're among the first 10,000 users to sign up, you'll receive a free account for life, says spokesperson Jackie Enterline. She adds that the site might consider ways to "monetize" in the future, such as premium subscriptions. features include:
  • A family tree builder where you can add names, relationships and other details
  • Invite family members by email or through a social network importer
  • Memory sharing through stories and uploaded media
  • Record search: is working with FamilySearch to make the digitized records on available to users, and tools will be available to FamilySearch members.
  • A "mobile-first" design for using the site's tools on the go is a "game-like," mobile-friendly way for family members to share memories, says chief executive officer Harrison Tang. "Rather than one family member doing all of the genealogy work, parents, children, cousins, siblings, aunts and grandparents alike can piece together their information, such as looking up historical records, adding recent photos or documenting precious memories on the timeline.”

Here's what the family tree area looks like:

And a record uploaded to the tree:

Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 2:17:14 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
RootsTech 2015 Sessions You Can Watch Online for Free
Posted by Diane

Feeling left out because you can't go to this week's RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City? You can get in on some of the action by going online to watch the sessions RootsTech livestreams for free.

Although I haven't seen an official RootsTech announcement about the livestreamed sessions, the FamilySearch blog did post a list of 20 "can't-miss" sessions and indicates which ones you'll be able to watch on the website. Just visit the home page at the time listed (be sure to translate it from Mountain Time into your local time zone). 

Sessions expected to be available for online viewing, and the times you can watch them, are:
  • 30 Pieces of Tech I Can't Live Without by D. Joshua Taylor, Feb. 12 at 11 a.m. MT

  • Building a Genealogy Research Toolbox by Thomas MacEntee, Feb. 13 at 1 p.m. MT

  • The Write Stuff: Leaving a Recorded Legacy; Personal Histories, Journals, Diaries and Letters by Valerie Elkins, Feb. 13 at 4 p.m. MT

  • The Global Family Reunion: How You Can Join the Biggest Family Ever by A.J. Jacobs, Feb. 14 at 8:30 a.m. MT

  • Finding the Living among the Dead: Using the Internet to Find Your Living Cousins by Amy Archibald, Feb. 14 at 10:30 a.m. MT

The list of RootsTech sessions you can watch online may grow over the next couple of days, so keep an eye here and on Last year's livestreamed sessions also were available online after the conference, which may again be the case this year. 

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 11:04:54 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, February 06, 2015
Free Access to's British Genealogy Records This Weekend
Posted by Diane

Do you have ancestors from Britain? is offering free access this weekend to its entire UK collection (these records are normally part of's World Explorer subscription).

The hundreds of UK records databases in this offer include
  • censuses of England, Scotland and Wales
  • digitized local and family histories
  • court records
  • parish records
  • civil registrations (government registers of births, marriages and deaths)
  • military records
  • passenger lists (incoming and outbound)
You can see a list of all databases included in the free offer by scrolling down on this page.

The free access ends Sunday, Feb. 8, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

You'll need to set up a free registration with the site (or log into your account if you have one) to view records that match your search. Start searching's UK collections here. | UK and Irish roots
Friday, February 06, 2015 10:00:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]