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# Friday, September 26, 2014
Genealogy News Corral: Sept. 22-26
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch has kicked off a "Meet My Grandma" campaign to gather 10,000 stories about people's grandmas in 10 days. You can share your favorite story about your grandmother by signing in to your FamilySearch account (or registering if you don't yet have an account). Once you add a story, you also can add a photo, tag people named in the story, and attach the story to someone in the FamilySearch Family Tree.


Ancestry.com | Canadian roots | Cemeteries | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Military records | World War One Genealogy | Australian/New Zealand roots
Friday, September 26, 2014 10:20:05 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, July 07, 2014
New Genealogy Crowdsourcing Initiative: Digitizing War of 1812 Veterans' Gravestones
Posted by Diane

The Federation of Genealogical Societies and cemetery website BillionGraves are getting together on a project to photograph all existing gravestone markers for participants in the War of 1812.

“The images from these markers, coupled with the Federation’s current project to raise the funds to digitize the 7.2 million images of the pensions for those who participated in the War of 1812 are a natural fit,” said D. Joshua Taylor, President of FGS.

The partnership is part of FGS' Preserve the Pensions project, which is raising money to digitize military pension records of War of 1812 veterans. The digitized pensions will be accessible free on the Fold3 website.

An estimated 350,000 men may have served in the war. It's unknown how many have cemetery markers, but there could be as many as 50,000 to 80,000 markers for these veterans, according to the two organizations.

BillionGraves and The Federation of Genealogical Societies are asking anyone with knowledge of a cemetery marker for a War of 1812 veteran to upload an image of the marker to the BillionGraves website using the site's free mobile app (available for iPhone and Android devices). They also hope you'll post about any uploaded images on Facebook or Twitter using one or more of the hashtags #1812today, #warof1812 and #billiongraves.

Read the full announcement from FGS and BillionGraves here.

Visit the Preserve the Pensions project website for more information about making a donation


Cemeteries | Genealogy Web Sites | Military records
Monday, July 07, 2014 10:47:05 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 12, 2014
MyHeritage Employees Digitize a Cemetery to Kick Off Global Initiative
Posted by Diane

To kick off its global initiative to digitize cemeteries, a partnership with the BillionGraves website and app, MyHeritage mobilized 80 employees at its headquarters in Israel to photograph an entire cemetery's worth of gravestones—51,754 images in all.

The employees used the BillionGraves app to digitize and upload stones in Sgula Cemetery in Petah Tikva, Israel. It's one of the country's oldest cemeteries, established in 1888.

The images of the stones, inscribed in Hebrew, are available for transcription on BillionGraves.com.



You can read more about this project and see photos on the MyHeritage blog.

Cemeteries | MyHeritage
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:20:47 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Ancestry.com Releases Find A Grave Mobile App for iOS
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.com has released its free Find A Grave mobile app for iOS7, which lets you search the Find A Grave online cemtery database from your iPhone or iPad, as well as upload gravestone images and information to Find A Grave. The app also lets you request photos of gravestones from Find A Grave volunteers, and fill others' requests.

Here's where you can find a description of the app's features.

You also might get some of your questions answered by reading Ancestry.com's blog post and the comments, many of which come from people who've used the app.

You can download the Find A Grave app for iOS7 in the Apple App Store.

Before you ask—Ancestry.com is working on an Android version, and does not say when it will become available. I have an Android phone, too, so I feel your pain.

Ancestry.com acquired the Find A Grave website last year, with a promise to keep it free and invest resources in improving the site. Producing a mobile app was among the first items on its to-do list.


Ancestry.com | Cemeteries | Genealogy Apps
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 1:47:04 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, February 19, 2014
MyHeritage and BillionGraves Launch Global Gravestone Recording Initiative
Posted by Diane

Genealogy website MyHeritage and cemetery recording site BillionGraves are collaborating to launch a crowdsourcing initiative to preserve information from cemeteries around the world.

BillionGraves offers an app for iOS and Android that cemetery visitors can use to upload gravestone photos and their GPS coordinates to the web. Volunteers can then transcribe the images on the BillionGraves website, making them searchable.

MyHeritage is helping to make the app available in 25 languages and support Gregorian, Julian and Hebrew dates.

Over the coming weeks, MyHeritage users will receive information about how to download the app and participate in this initiative. You can read more about it and see what the app looks like on the MyHeritage blog.

Update: The partners have opened up the website where you can register and get started recording graves.

Researchers will be able to search the gravestone information free on BillionGraves.com (where volunteers have already uploaded millions of gravestone records) and on MyHeritage. Anyone with a MyHeritage family tree will receive free Record Matches to the data.


Cemeteries | MyHeritage
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 4:32:35 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, September 30, 2013
Ancestry.com Acquires Find A Grave
Posted by Diane

We just received an announcement that online genealogy company Ancestry.com has purchased Find A Grave, the site with the largest database of free burial information and photos contributed by volunteers.

Find A Grave will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com, and will continue to be managed by its founder, Jim Tipton.

I already hear people asking if the site will remain free. Yes, says Ancestry.com president Tim Sullivan. From the press release:
"We will maintain Find A Grave as a free website, will retain its existing policies and mode of operation, and look forward to working with Jim Tipton and the entire Find A Grave team to accelerate the development of tools designed to make it even easier for the Find A Grave community to fulfill its original mission to capture every tombstone on Earth.”
I've found family tombstone photos on Find A Grave, and you probably have, too. The 18-year-old site has 100 million memorials to deceased people, and 75 million photos, a significant addition to Ancestry.com's content.

Ancestry.com plans for Find A Grave include a mobile app for uploading cemetery photos (Billion Graves, another cemetery website, has one), improved customer support, an easier editing of already-submitted memorials and foreign-language support.

This isn't the first time Ancestry.com has acquired a free, grassroots genealogy site: You may remember back in 2000, when the company (then called MyFamily.com) purchased RootsWeb. In 2008, RootsWeb was moved onto Ancestry.com servers.

We'll bring you more details as we learn them.
 
 Update: Here's an FAQ on the acquisition from Tipton, who says he realized "Find A Grave had gotten too big to run it as I always have and I also realized that I might not be around some day ... and I wanted to make sure it had a stable home, while still retaining control over how it evolves. But ... I'm hoping this gives me the opportunity to do so many of the things that I've always wanted to do with the site now that I have some real resources behind me."
 


Ancestry.com | Cemeteries
Monday, September 30, 2013 4:27:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Friday, August 02, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, July 29-Aug. 2
Posted by Diane

  • WikiTree, a free family tree wiki, has added a new feature that helps you determine how genetic genealogy could aid your research. It can be difficult to figure out which test will best answer your genealogical question, and which relatives need to take the test. Now on WikiTree, you can choose a commercially available DNA test from a dropdown menu, and the wiki shows you which ancestors you can learn about from taking that test. The feature highlights when a genealogical puzzle could be solved by taking a test, which test would help, and who should take it. See the press release about WikiTree's new DNA feature here.
  • FamilySearch has added more than 1.1 million index records and record images to the free record search at FamilySearch.org. They come from Belgium, Nicaragua, Spain and the United States. Those with North Carolina ancestors will be particularly pleased to see searchable estate files and marriages from that state. I also thought the US National register of Scientific and Technical Personnel Files (1954-1970) looked interesting, though I didn't find any relatives in it.

    You can link to FamilySearch's new and updated databases from here.


Cemeteries | FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Friday, August 02, 2013 2:21:17 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, July 29, 2013
The Mystery Men in the Family Plot: Turning Genealogy Clues Into Answers
Posted by Diane

More than a year ago, I visited my great-great-grandparents' family cemetery plot in Cincinnati. I knew who would be buried there: besides my great-grandparents H. A. and Frances Seeger and six of their children, there were Frances' parents, Joseph and A. Marie Ladenkotter.

But when I got there, I also found these two guys:

Who were Joseph and John Dierkes?

My search for their identities involved using online and offline clues, as Lisa Alzo suggests in our Turn Online Clues Into Ancestor Answers webinar.

Clue No. 1
I noted that a Joseph and a John Dierkes lived in the Ladenkotter household in the 1850 and 1860 census. Besides my great-great-grandmother Frances Ladenkotter (really Francisca), born in 1852, there was an Elizabeth Ladenkotter, born in 1846.

Lisa advises formulating a theory to explain a genealogical problem. After comparing the Dierkes boys' birth years to those of the Ladenkotter girls, I theorized that the boys were A. Marie's sons from a previous marriage. But they also could've been her much younger brothers, or nephews to her or Joseph Ladenkotter, or even nonrelatives.

My census searches for other Dierkes in Cincinnati turned up lots of results. I gave up looking at them; there was no way to tell if any of them were related to John and Joseph.

Clue No. 2
I put on my big-girl genealogist pants and searched the 1840 census. That census is scary because it names only heads of household. Everyone else was counted within age ranges, so it's hard to tell if you've found the right family. (We have a video class about how to research in the 1840 and earlier censuses.)

I found a household for a Joseph Dierkes, containing a male aged 30-39 (that's Joseph) and a female age 30-39. A. Marie was born in May 1812, according to her gravestone, so she would be 28 when the 1840 census was taken June 1. That and the faded census return made this not a slam dunk.

Clue No. 3
Haphazard web searches led me to the Hamilton County Genealogical Society's (HCGS) online marriage index, with information found in newspaper notices, church records, probate court records and reconstructed court records (there was an 1884 riot at the courthouse). An Anna Maria Dirkers and a Joseph Ladenkotter married between 1840 and 1849, according to church records.

The printed book from which the online index came gave the exact marriage date, May 4, 1845. If the Dierkes boys were A. Marie's sons from a previous marriage, this marriage date would fall nicely into a gap between the children's birth years. 

Clue No. 4
If Dierkes (or Dirkers) was Anna Maria's maiden name, the boys were probably her relatives, not sons. I requested the marriage record from the church.

A volunteer sent me the information from the record (the books are too old and fragile to copy)—the marriage place and date, the priest's name, and the names of two witnesses, Herman Henrik Meyer and Maria Hinken. No name other than Dirkers for the bride, although those witnesses could be related.

Clue No. 5
I felt stuck. There was more haphazard searching. Then I found an entry for Anna Maria Ladenkötter in HCGS online death indexes from newspapers. I noticed a name several blank columns away: Weyer. I held my breath and scrolled all the way up the page. Yes, this was a maiden name column. I hadn't thought about a death notice giving a maiden name.

The notice was from microfilmed German-language newspapers. Through the HCGS website, I found a researcher familiar with German and hired him to get a copy. Eight death notices (I got other relatives' notices while I was at it) ended up costing about $50, worth it for something that would've taken me all day and maybe then some. He could have translated them, too, but I wanted to try it.  

I'm still working on that, but it's easy to tell the notice gives the name as "Anna Maria Ladenkötter geb. Weyer." Geb. is an abbreviation of the German word for "born."

I'm betting that male witness to her 1845 marriage is really Herman Henrik Weyer.

Ancestor Answers
John and Joseph Dierkes are very likely Anna Maria Weyer's sons from her first marriage. What would really clinch this—here's where my strategy for turning these online clues into ancestor answers comes in—is to find her marriage record to Joseph Dierkes, death notices for Joseph Dierkes (naming his survivors) or the boys (I have scoured the HCGS index for these, to no avail), and/or baptismal records for the Dierkes boys.  

... And More Questions
I also want to learn why the boys died (just a few years before Cincinnati birth and death registers began). Civil War, I thought, but I can't find them in the Soldiers and Sailors Database or other Civil War records. That's another genealogical problem to tackle.

The recording of our Turning Online Clues into Ancestor Answers webinar will be available soon in ShopFamilyTree.com.

You'll also find online genealogy research strategies in the book Discover Your Family History Online by Nancy Hendrickson.


Cemeteries | Research Tips | Webinars
Monday, July 29, 2013 11:36:43 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, April 19, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, April 15-19
Posted by Diane

Version 7 also lets you use the sites Record Matching service, which automatically searches MyHeritage collections and trees for your ancestors (you'll need a subscription to view some results). Other updates include a more graphical look and support for 40 languages, including Chinese and Korean. Read more details on the MyHeritage blog.
  • There's a new database of burials at Hart Island, the public burial ground ("potter's field") for New York City. The earliest recorded burial there dates to May 1881; however, the database covers burials since 1977.
  • A new PBS series called "Genealogy Roadshow" is looking for people with family history mysteries to be on the show. Check out the casting call here; the deadline is May 12.
  • Heredis is having a sale through April 28 on its family tree software for PC (37 percent off, at $24.99) and Mac (33 percent off, at $39.99). Find out more about the software at the Heredis website.


Cemeteries | Genealogy Software | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, April 19, 2013 2:41:25 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Arlington National Cemetery Launches Burial Database
Posted by Diane

Arlington National Cemetery has unveiled a public database of the 400,000 burials there.

Called ANC Explorer, the database is available online and as a Mobile app. You can search it to locate gravesites on a map; get details including birth, death and interment dates, and branch of service; generate front and back photos of a headstone or monument (where available); and get directions to those gravesites.



Building it led to the first review, analysis and coordination of almost 150 years of Arlington Cemetery records. The Army photographed 259,978 gravesites, niches and markers and instituted a rigorous process to review each headstone photo with cemetery records and other historical documents. The effort grew out of reports in 2010 of misidentified graves and poorly kept records at the cemetery.

Arlington National Cemetery was established during the Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, once the estate of the family of Martha Custis Lee, wife of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Veterans and family members from the Civil War and every subsequent US war are buried on its 624 acres.

The first soldier buried there is Pvt. William Henry Christman of Pennsylvania, on May 13, 1864.


Cemeteries | Military records
Tuesday, October 23, 2012 4:21:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, October 22, 2012
Cemetery Research Tips & More in the October 2012 Family Tree Magazine Podcast
Posted by Diane

The October 2012 Family Tree Magazine podcast, hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems, celebrates Halloween with cemetery research tips, including:
  • Advice for cracking the "tombstone code"—the symbolism in carvings and inscriptions—from contributing editor Sharon DeBartolo Carmack

  • How to preserve the genealogy and history information cemeteries hold, and share those details with others, from Family Tree University instructor and Find A Grave volunteer Diana Crisman Smith

  • Tips for visiting a cemetery (what you can do from home, what to bring and what to look for once you're there) from Family Tree University Cemetery Research 101 course instructor Midge Frazel

  • Tombstone rubbing dos and don'ts with Family Tree Magazine publisher and editorial director Allison Dolan
And Lisa and I chat about some recent big acquisitions in the genealogy world.

You can listen to Family Tree Magazine's free genealogy podcast in iTunes or on FamilyTreeMagazine.com. Show notes are on FamilyTreeMagazine.com, too.

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

↑ Grab this Headline Animator


Cemeteries | Genealogy Industry | Podcasts | Research Tips
Monday, October 22, 2012 1:10:54 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 21, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 17-21
Posted by Diane

  • This week MyHeritage.com announced the launch of its automatic Record Matching premium service. The service automatically searches the 4 billion records on MyHeritage.com websites (which now include World Vital Records and FamilyLink) for matches to people in your MyHeritage family tree. MyHeritage users will receive weekly email updates of new Record Matches and can visit MyHeritage.com to review, filter, sort, confirm and reject matches.
On his Genea-Musings blog, Randy Seaver has some detailed posts about using Record Matching to find information.
  • Genealogy search engine Mocavo has acquired ReadyMicro, a company that develops document digitization technology. On its blog, Mocavo says it's planning several exciting announcements in the coming weeks about offering searchable records and forming partnerships to digitize organizations' records "at a very low cost and even, in many cases, at no cost." Stay tuned ...

  • British burial records site DeceasedOnline has added records from London's Charlton Cemetery, opened in 1855. Records include scans of burial registers and some photographs. You can see a list of all the cemeteries included on the site here. You can search the site and get basic search results free; purchase credits to view additional details and records.
  • Don't forget to enter our giveaway for a year's subscription to our Family Tree eBooks website—it's a digital library of dozens of ebooks on genealogy, history, heirloom identification, sharing and preserving your family history, and more, plus many issues of Family Tree Magazine. Click here to enter by September 30!


Cemeteries | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage | UK and Irish roots
Friday, September 21, 2012 2:27:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, June 08, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, June 4-8
Posted by Diane

Read our article about the Ellis Island Hospital Complex on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
  • Genetic genealogy company 23andMe, exhibiting at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree this weekend, announced it'll release four new genealogical features for beta testing in the coming weeks. Those are family tree building on the site; Ancestry Painting, which breaks down your ancestry based on approximately 20 world regions; the My Ancestry Page, a "dashboard" summary of your ancestry; and the Relative Finder Map View plotting where in the world your matches are.
Learn more about these upcoming features on 23andMe's Spittoon blog.


Cemeteries | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy | Historic preservation | Social History
Friday, June 08, 2012 1:55:58 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, June 01, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, May 28-June 1
Posted by Diane


  • Think you have a relative who served in a household of Britain's Royal Family? (Perhaps as Chocolate Maker to the Queen or Strewer of Herbs?) In celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, British genealogy website findmypast.co.uk, in association with the Royal Archives, has added a collection of Royal Household Staff Lists. It covers royal residences across the United Kingdom such as Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and St. James’ Palace, and includes 50,000 staff records from the reign of King Charles II to King George V (1660 to 1924). Details you might learn include the person's occupation, age, length of service and salary.
  • The Civil War Trust is holding its annual photo contest. You can enter your Civil War battlefield photos in five categories for prizes including publication of your image, a trust membership, and registration to the trust's annual conference. Enter before Aug. 26 by uploading photos to the Trust's Flickr group—be sure to tag your image as directed in the contest rules. (Last year's winning photos are pretty impressive—view them here.)
  • UK cemetery site DeceasedOnline.com has added records for 120,000 mostly rural Scottish burials. The records comprise from 99 cemeteries and burial grounds, with the oldest dating back to 1526. That brings the total of Scottish cemeteries with records on the site to 250. Once you search for a record, you can use pay-per-view credits or subscribe to view the full information it contains.


Cemeteries | Civil War | UK and Irish roots
Friday, June 01, 2012 2:14:49 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, October 18, 2011
'Tis the Season for Old Cemetery Tours
Posted by Diane

Do the Halloween pumpkin patches and candy sales have you in the mood for ghost-hunting in a cemetery? You’re in luck: ‘Tis the season for old cemetery tours.

These events offer the chance to take in interesting local history, nice scenery and slight spookery. You can find tours by day or night, for free or a fee (they often serve as fundraisers for historical societies).

A Google search or visiting the website of a local historic cemetery or historical society will help you find tours near you. Here are some tours around the country that my searches turned up:

  • Oct. 29, the Historical Society of Long Beach (Calif.) holds a nonscary tour of Long Beach Municipal Cemetery and Sunnyside Cemetery, featuring actors in period garb delivering graveside presentations (based on sources such as obituaries, newspaper articles and oral histories) about the person who lies at rest. General admission costs $18, with specials for society members and students younger than age 18.
  • Riverside Cemetery (which has an online burial database), established in 1887 in Macon, Ga., holds its Spirits in October series Oct. 20-22 and 27-29, with cemetery tours and more. Advance tickets are required; admission costs $10 to $20.
  • Capturing the Spirit of Oakland at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta features nighttime tours with historical accounts from cemetery “residents” and candlelit mausoleums. Tickets must be purchased in advance; admission ranges from $10 to $17.50.
  • Elmwood Cemetery in Kansas City, Mo., has a free Halloween Tour Oct. 30.
  • Historic All Hallows Eve cemetery tours with costumed interpreters are happening on Halloween evening at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, Va. Adults: $7; children 12 and younger, $5.

Cemeteries | Genealogy Events | Social History
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 11:04:18 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, April 08, 2011
Genealogy News Corral: April 8
Posted by jamie

Kodak has sold assets of its microfilm products and equipment business to Eastman Park Micrographics. Kodak will continue supplying current microfilms, as well as to provide service and support for microfilm equipment and Eastman Park Micrographics will take over Kodak’s data conversion services business, which converts data between analog and digital formats. Read more on Kodak.com.

The Cincinnati Railroad Club is digitizing its 70,000-item collection, a project estimated to take three years to complete. Most non-copyrighted materials will be available online, including geomapping of the library’s thousands of original photographs. Read more on BizJournals.com.

Newport Beach Library is considering a revamp that would maintain the most of the library's current services, but ditch the books. The proposal is a reflection of the economy and patron habits. Read more on the LATimes.com.

The city of Chicago is relocating about 1,200 graves from the 161-year-old Bensenville cemetery to expand O'Hare International Airport, but not without controversy. The city hired a genealogist to track down the closest living relative for those currently occupying the graves, but isn't contacting every descendant, leaving some family members in the dark about their ancestor's final resting place. Read more on the ChicagoTribune.com.
 
Season one of "Who Do You Think You Are?" is now available on DVD. Re-watch all your favorite celebrities discover their roots on NBC's family history hit. Read more on BroadwayWorld.com.

If you missed any of the simulcast RootsTech conference sessions, you can now watch them on-demand at RootsTech.org. Bonus video interviews with conference speakers are now on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel.
 


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Cemeteries | FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, April 08, 2011 3:02:08 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, December 02, 2010
Archives.com Adds Millions of Records
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site Archives.com has added more than 40 million new digital records and 110 million scanned newspaper pages dating back to 1753.

The new record collections now available on Archives.com include:

  • 40 million indexed vital records from states including Texas, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, and Utah. These represent a 25 percent increase in the site’s US vital records. Information you’ll get varies by state, but generally includes the child’s name, sex, birth date and place, and parents’ names.
  • 110 million newspaper pages from Newspaper Archive, dating back to 1753 and containing billions of indexed names.
  • 300,000 indexed burial records through a partnership with cemetery mapping company Names In Stone. In the search results, users can view burial information and click the View Full Record link to see supplementary fields and a cemetery map on NamesInStone.com (no additional payment or membership required).

Since its July 2009 launch, Archives.com users have spent more than 2 million hours on the site and performed 50 million searches. Users can search all records, search by record type (such as marriage) or state, or search by collection name. A subscription costs $39.95 per year; a seven-day free trial is available.


Cemeteries | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers | Vital Records
Thursday, December 02, 2010 8:38:48 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Putting the Ha! in Halloween
Posted by Diane


Put a little ha-ha in your Halloween with the funny tombstone photos in our book Grave Humor, by M.T. Coffin. To quote the FatallyYours.com book reviewer: “It’ll delight you with its witty jokes, quirky gothic illustrations and funny photos.” Aw, shucks.

This is my favorite stone—we found this unfortunately named lady in a local cemetery.

(See more funny tombstones from the book—and pictures other folks have submitted—at GraveHumorBook.com.) 

And I love our skull-people alter-egos (that's me, fourth from left):

You can get even more skull people in our 2011 Grave Humor Desk Calendar

Grave Humor is available from ShopFamilyTree.com. (Until October 31, you can use the code HISTORY10 to save 15 percent.)



Cemeteries | Editor's Pick | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, October 27, 2010 10:00:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, August 26, 2010
Introducing GraveHumorBook.com!
Posted by Diane


Funny stuff! On GraveHumorBook.com, the companion website to our latest book, Grave Humor, you can:
  • See funny tombstone photos (some from the book, some sent in by our fellow funny gravestone enthusiasts)
  • Meet the author, Mr. M.T. Coffin.
  • Download free Grave Humor wallpaper for your computer, iPhone or iPad
  • Submit photos of the funny gravestones you’ve encountered in your cemetery adventures
  • ... and, of course, buy a copy of Grave Humor for your very own (on sale now for $8.79!) 

Grave Humor


Cemeteries | Editor's Pick | Genealogy fun
Thursday, August 26, 2010 9:01:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, August 12, 2010
Genealogy Q&A From Our Ask the Editors Webinar
Posted by Diane

Thanks to everyone who attended last night's free “Ask the Editors” webinar! We had a blast, and we hope to do it again.

I wanted to share the questions attendees asked—and our answers, of course, enhanced with links to resources we mentioned and a few new ones. But first, because Allison, Grace, Lindsay and I started the webinar with an introduction, blog readers can “meet” most of us on our FamilyTreeMagazine.com staff page. Get to know Lindsay here. And now for the main event:

Q. How would I find a 1905 death certificate from Mexico?

A. Civil registrations in Mexico (akin to vital records in the United States) started in the mid- to late-1860s, though records may not be complete. In most cases, records were kept on the municipio level and you can request copies from the local civil registry (addresses are in FamilySearch’s Mexico research outline). Older records may have been transferred to a local or state archive.

Before writing, see if the record is in an online index or on microfilm. Many Mexican death records are indexed on the FamilySearch Record Search Pilot Site. Search the Family History Library online catalog for microfilmed civil registration records or indexes, as well.

You’ll find more advice in our Mexico Research Guide digital download, available from ShopFamilyTree.com.

Q. I can't find my ancestor’s birthplace. Different censuses give different locations, and I don’t know his parents’ names. Where should I look?

A. It’s not unusual for a person’s birthplace to be inconsistent from one census to the next. The trick is to go beyond census records. Many sources will give a place of birth, so continue researching the person in any record you can get your hands on. Bibles, baptismal records, newspaper birth announcements, military records, passports, naturalizations and death records are a few sources that often name a person’s birthplace.

See which places are mentioned most often, and focus there. You may find online birth indexes such as those for Arizona, Minnesota, Missouri or South Dakota. Websites such as Ancestry.com and FamilySearch often have vital records indexes, too.

Get in-depth information and online search demos in our recorded webinar Vital Records: Researching Your US Ancestors' Births, Marriages and Deaths, available from ShopFamilyTree.com.

Q. How do you trace a child named Jane Doe who was a foundling, and was adopted?

A. Adoptions weren’t always formalized in courts—sometimes a relative or neighbor would take in the child. For a formalized adoption, look into guardianship records (court records of hearings to determine who would care for a minor). Also look for an amended birth certificate, changed to reflect the child’s adoptive rather than biological parents.

Another good resource is newspapers. Finding an abandoned child would be a newsworthy event and may have received press coverage and follow-up articles. Also see the resources in our adoption toolkit and the “Early Adopters” article in the February 2007 Family Tree Magazine (available as a digital issue).

Q. How do you find a grave site when the cemetery doesn’t know where the stone is?

A. Try looking in the cemetery for plots of relatives and those of the same last name, since family members are often buried together. Also search for burial indexes, many of which were created years ago—perhaps before the cemetery lost track of the burial record or the stone was overgrown. In the 1930s and early ‘40s, the Works Progress Administration indexed cemeteries in many communities; you’ll find a free WPA cemetery database at Access Genealogy and printed indexes at public libraries and the Family History Library. The Daughters of the American Revolution also has collected cemetery and other records for years.

A webinar attendee suggested the researcher look for burial permits, which many counties would issue before a grave could be dug, as well as funeral home records. Just this week, I got a letter from a reader who found a permit that a deceased’s relative's second husband had obtained to have the remains moved to his own family plot.

Q. Several of my lines have “daughtered out.” What is your advice for researching women?

A. Our female ancestors just don’t show up in as many records as our male ancestors did, so sometimes you get to a point where you can’t trace a family line back past a woman. Allison emphasized the importance of not focusing just on the female ancestor, but also researching her husband, children, siblings, parents and neighbors. Records of these people may lead you to a maiden name and other information about the woman. Because people often married those who lived nearby, researching the husband’s family may lead to records of interactions, such as land transactions, with your female ancestor’s family.

See our list of records that often reveal details about female ancestors.

Q. What will increase my chances of success in your photo calls?

A. As Allison explained in the webinar, which photos end up in the magazine or another project is partly luck, for example, say we need a wintry photo for a January calendar page, and you’ve sent in a photo of kids sled-riding on a snowy day. Or sometimes a project calls for a vertical or horizontal orientation.

Another thing we look for is a photo with a clear focal point to draw the viewer’s eye. “Compelling” is a good word to describe a photo that makes someone want to pick it up and look at it longer. (We’re always happy when someone picks up the magazine!) Pleasant, open expressions on faces (we know outright smiles are rare in old pictures), a steady gaze, or cute kids are often compelling. Photos with unusual or surprising subject matter also can be compelling.

If we’ll be reprinting the photo at a relatively small size, we’ll want to make sure viewers can still easily discern the subject matter in the pictures (in this respect, photos of large groups of people might be at a disadvantage). But we hope you’ll upload your photos to our Flickr pools regardless—we love seeing them, as do others.


Cemeteries | census records | Female ancestors | International Genealogy | Photos | Vital Records
Thursday, August 12, 2010 3:30:10 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, May 07, 2010
Scavenger Hunt Photo Challenge!
Posted by Grace

Do you live near West Texas? We're looking for an adventurous genealogist to take a photo for us in the Pecos Park Cemetery in Reeves County, Texas, to use in our upcoming book, Grave Humor.

Our target is Robert Clay Allison, who has an especially humorous epitaph: "He never killed a man that did not need killing." The cemetery is at 120 E. First St., Pecos, TX.

Take a high-res digital photo of the man's gravestone over the weekend, and we'll send you a copy of Grave Humor when it comes out. E-mail your image to ftmletters@fwmedia.com by Monday to win!


Cemeteries | Photos
Friday, May 07, 2010 10:27:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Ohio Town's House History and Genealogy Meet on Free Site
Posted by Diane

What started as a survey of house histories has turned into a website with genealogy information for an entire community.

In 1995, the women’s club in Terrace Park, Ohio—a village of 2,267 residents and 1.25 square miles—asked every resident to fill out a survey about the history of local buildings.

Leland Cole designed an online home for the data: the Terrace Park, Ohio, Building Survey website. Now Cole and his wife, Carol, add to the site with help from the women’s club.

In all, the free site describes about 925 buildings. You can find all kinds information, including when a house or other structure was built, what it’s made of, its uses, changes made, owners’ names and ownership dates, notes about resident families from maps and phone and city directories, and more.

Most listings have links to photos of the property, a deed index and owners’ census transcriptions from 1810 to 1930.

The page for 203 Marietta St., for example, tells you the original owners, the West family, occupied the house from 1890 to 1951. Samuel Adams West was an attorney; his family was related to Oliver Robertson of 602 Miami Ave. The page gives birth and death dates for many occupants, transcribes their census records, and has photos showing how the house has changed over the years.

You can use the Terrace Park building survey site in several ways:
  • Click Search to search for a person’s name or other words in building descriptions. You’ll get a list of results for related buildings; click one to see information for that building.
  • Click Street Index to browse to a street name, then click the house number you’re looking for.
  • Use the links on the left side of the home page to browse the site’s deed records, census records and burial information.
  • Click Related Information to read background material on the community and local organizations.
Researching your ancestors’ neighbors and associates is one way to get around genealogical brick walls, and it gives you a really good picture of how your ancestor lived. Cole's site—the only one of its kind I've found —provides rich detail for people with Terrace Park ancestors.

To find historical and genealogical information from your ancestral hometown, try clicking around the county's USGenWeb site, visiting the local historical or genealogical association site, and running a Google search on the county or town name and genealogy


Cemeteries | census records | Free Databases | Land records | Vital Records
Wednesday, December 16, 2009 3:44:25 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Wanted: Funny Tombstone Photos
Posted by Diane

You’re pacing a cemetery, intent on finding an ancestor’s grave, when you see a headstone that makes you do a double-take. Maybe it even elicits a chuckle—or causes you to stifle a chuckle, depending on who's around.



Maybe the deceased or his family wanted to make a final, lasting statement, like this man, who campaigned until the bitter end (reader Ruth Anne Nelson sent us the picture for a 2006 All in the Family challenge). Or maybe the humor is coincidental. Either way, naturally, you photograph the stone.

Post that photo to our Funny Tombstone Photos Flickr group, and we might publish it in an upcoming book about funny tombstones and/or in Family Tree Magazine. You also could win an Amazon.com gift card!

And even if you don’t have a photo, show us your sense of humor by writing knee-slapping captions for others’ pictures—we’ll put the funniest ones in the book, too.

The submission deadline is March 31, but submit earlier for more chances to win a gift card.

You'll find the submission instructions—for submitting via Flickr or e-mail—with the gift card drawing details, and, of course, funny photos, on our Funny Tombstone Photos Flickr page. (You may need to scroll down a little to the About section.)

The fine print: By submitting, you verify that you are the copyright holder of the photo or caption. You also grant F+W Media, Inc., permission to use your contribution in any and all print and electronic media.


Cemeteries | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, December 02, 2009 11:20:51 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, October 30, 2009
Ancestry.com Cemetery Collection Free Through Nov. 5
Posted by Diane

This just in: Ancestry.com is making its "creepiest collections"—records of cemeteries and gravestones free through next Thursday, Nov. 5. You will need to register for a free Ancestry.com account to view details of your search results.

 Use the search box on this Halloween landing page to access the free databases.

Click here to see the list of cemetery indexes and inscriptions included in this offer.


Ancestry.com | Cemeteries
Friday, October 30, 2009 4:02:20 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, October 12, 2009
History Next Door
Posted by Diane

Staying up late the night before you return to work after a vacation does not prolong the vacation.

I’m trying to jump back in the saddle after leaf-peeping in Maine and New Hampshire (with a side trip to the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Waterbury, Vt.), and sightseeing in Boston.

Having grown up in a Midwestern suburb, I find it remarkable that some people leave their homes or offices every day and walk by a 350-year-old cemetery, or the meeting hall where the assembly began that resulted in the 1773 Boston Tea Party, or the church where patriots hung two lanterns in 1775 to warn colonists that British soldiers were on the way.

One stop on the Freedom Trail, which links Boston sites instrumental to the Revolution, is Copp’s Hill Burying Ground in the North End, just up the hill from the Old North Church.

The oldest surviving inscription on a stone at Copp's Hill is for the two-week-old son of David Copp and his wife, Obedience. The baby died Dec. 22, 1661.


An informational marker pointed out interesting gravestones, including this one, created from another, previously carved gravestone. You can see the old inscription, upside-down on the back:


And here’s the front of the reused stone, marking the grave of Theodore James, who died Sept. 25, 1815:


It’s hard to tell in this photo, but the inscription on Mary Waters’ tombstone gives the names of her husband when she died and her former husband.


You can search Copps Hill interments at Find-a-Grave.

You can read Copp’s Hill historical markers online at the Historical Marker Database. Start with this one, then click the links under Other Nearby Markers.

For Lisa Louise Cooke's demo on using photo-editing software to improve the readability of your gravestone photos, see our video page.

Ask and answer cemetery research questions in Family Tree Magazine’s Cemetery Central Forum (note you must register with the Forum to post).

Cemeteries | Social History
Monday, October 12, 2009 11:27:09 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, August 12, 2009
UGOs (Unidentified Genealogical Objects)
Posted by Diane

Yesterday evening, our company had a trade show, wherein each community (genealogy, writing, woodworking, crafts, etc.) displayed its latest how-to publications and resources.

The Family Tree Magazine staff enjoyed showing off our CDs, webinars and forthcoming Family Tree Legacies book, and sharing genealogy tips with coworkers. I think one guy is searching the free 1911 Irish census as I type this.

The best part was our guessing game. For a chance to win a prize, our colleagues guessed the identity of this object, commonly used in the course of genealogy research:



Here were some of their guesses (obviously, we’re dealing with some wise guys here):
  • “toddler’s crayon”
  • “fossilized chocolate cake”
  • “worry stone” (over those unsolved brick walls, we presume)
  • “paper weight”
  • “scrubber to get your pen started” (huh?)
  • “thumbprinter thingie”
  • “It’s used to help you separate papers. You rub your fingers on it so you can easily rifle through your records”
  • "a secret listening device"
  • “a template for drawing circles for names on your family tree”
  • “a starter for the center of your family tree”
What’s your guess?

The correct answer is tombstone rubbing wax, used for making impressions of tombstones. The astute Holly Davis, an editor over at The Artist’s Magazine, is the winner of a scrapbook album kit!

For step-by-step instructions on making tombstone rubbings (including ensuring the stone is sound), see this FamilyTreeMagazine.com article.

And to avoid arrest while making said tombstone rubbing, read our Now What? blog post.

Cemeteries | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, August 12, 2009 2:05:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, July 31, 2009
Burr Oak Cemetery Tombstone Images Posted Online
Posted by Diane

The Cook County (Ill.) sherrif’s office has set up a public database to help families affected by the shocking crimes at Burr Oak Cemetery.

In July, authorities announced that about 300 graves in the historically African-American cemetery near Chicago had been dug up, the bodies dumped, and the plots resold. Four cemetery workers are accused of the crime.

Those looking for relatives’ grave sites at the cemetery can search an online database of tombstone images. So far, it has 9,500 names from the roughly 100,000 grave sites.

Searchers can type in a name or browse by year. There’s also a link to view photos of markers with unknown burial years.

Read more about this tragedy in the articles linked here.

Examiner.com's African-American genealogy writer, Michael Hait, takes a close look at the database here.


African-American roots | Cemeteries | Free Databases
Friday, July 31, 2009 2:04:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, June 08, 2009
The Mystery of the Stray Headstone
Posted by Diane

About a year ago, a headstone appeared on the side of a road in the city of Weed, Calif.

Jennifer Bryan, a member of the Siskiyou County Genealogical Society in Yreka, Calif., is trying to find out where it belongs. The stone has never been set into concrete, she says, but it is engraved:
William C. Vann
Dec., 7, 1910 - May 5, 1972
“We’ve checked with all the local cemeteries, monument stone carvers and funeral homes, and haven’t been able to local where this headstone belongs,” Jennifer writes. “We realize this may be a ‘rejected’ headstone, or perhaps it was lost in shipping and the engraver has created a new one for the family by now.”

But in case William C. Vann’s family (or maybe a delivery truck driver who got in a bit of hot water) is wondering what became of his headstone, Jennifer and her fellow society members are asking for your help.

Anyone researching a Vann family, possibly in California, that William may have belonged to? Got a theory how the stone came to be on the roadside? Click Comments (below) to post here.

Here’s a photo of the stone:



Cemeteries | Genealogy societies | Vital Records
Monday, June 08, 2009 12:17:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [18]
# Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Search Burials and Cemetery Maps on New Site
Posted by Diane

This site is just getting off the ground, but it’ll be really cool if it takes off.

Names in Stone is a cemetery mapping site—you can search for a grave and get a map showing where it is in the cemetery and whose plots are nearby.

Only a handful of cemeteries are covered as yet, mostly in Utah, Idaho, Nevada and California.

You can encourage larger, managed cemeteries to participate, or map smaller, volunteer-run cemeteries yourself and upload the data. (Get instructions on the site. More mapping tips are on an associated blog called Grave Mappers.)

It’s free to search on a name and see available details from that person’s headstone—could be birth and death dates, burial date, parents’ names, military service, etc.—as well as the grave location (shown below), cemetery name, cemetery map, address, GPS coordinates and driving directions.



You can purchase virtual gravestone décor; you decorate the stone yourself by dragging and dropping images of flowers and swags.

Paying members ($7.95 per month, $39.99 per year) can save searches, save a “cemeteries of interest” list, be notified of matches to automated searches and receive discounts on gravestone décor.

Cemeteries | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 9:10:23 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, December 05, 2008
Search Burials in Two English Counties (Mostly Free!)
Posted by Diane

Richard Smart wrote me from across the pond about an organization he directs, The National Archive of Memorial Inscriptions.

On its Web site, you’ll find a database of 170,000 names from 580 burial grounds in Bedfordshire and Norfolk, and it’s added to regularly.

You can search by name, a death date range, age range at death, county, and place. Wildcards work: ? stands for one letter; * (asterisk) substitutes for any number of letters.

You get quite a bit of information for free—first and last name, burial ground and county, and date of death. Buy the full inscription for 4 pounds (about $6), and for most records, add historical text, a photo of the church and/or a plan of the graveyard for 1 pound (about $1.50) each.

Fuzzy on the details of your ancestor’s burial, or want to see who else is in a graveyard?

Smart shared this tip for browsing: “If you enter any place from the Availability page, in either Bedfordshire or Norfolk, into the Place box on the home page, you will get free of charge a listing of all the data available from that place, except for the actual inscription.”


Cemeteries | UK and Irish roots
Friday, December 05, 2008 8:40:06 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, May 02, 2008
San Francisco's Historic Mission Dolores Cemetery
Posted by Diane

Last week after talking about kids’ genealogy in Sacramento, Calif., I met up with my sister in San Francisco for a couple of days (she lives 20 minutes from me here in Cincinnati, but was also out West on business).

One of my favorite sights was Mission Dolores, the popular name for the Misión San Francisco de Asís since it was founded June 29, 1776. The present mission chapel, built in 1791, is a block and a half away from the first location.



Still home to an active parish, it’s the oldest intact building in San Francisco—the thick adobe walls survived the 1906 earthquake. Next door is the Mission Dolores Basilica, first built around 1876 and rebuilt after suffering severe quake damage.

The walled Mission Cemetery, final resting place for Ohlone, Miwok and other indigenous peoples as well as notable pioneers, is the only cemetery left within city limits.






The cemetery is smaller today than it once was, but has been restored with native plantings.



You can find known Mission Dolores burials listed at FindaGrave. Read a bit more about the cemetery’s past in the transcribed historical newspaper articles on SFGenealogy.com.

Cemeteries | Historic preservation | Social History
Friday, May 02, 2008 9:03:39 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]