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<April 2014>

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# Friday, November 22, 2013
A Genealogy Dream in the Making: OCR Software That Reads Old Handwriting
Posted by Diane

Mocavo announced this week that it's making progress on optical character recognition (OCR) software that will read cursive handwriting, which could revolutionize how digitized records are put online.

OCR software is often used to index typeset genealogy records, such as newspapers, city directories and family history books. It lets you search every word in those records, without any person ever having to read the record and extract names and dates.

Current OCR software is pretty good at reading those typeset documents, although it makes mistakes when documents or digitized images have problems such as fading, blurring and ink spots. When I search OCR-indexed records for my last name, I get a lot of irrelevant matches containing the phrase "had had."

OCR software that can read not just typed or printed words, but also cursive handwriting of various languages, historical eras and styles, means digital records could become searchable online a lot faster. Potential benefits include:
  • There would be no need for armies of volunteers to index records.
  • You would be able to search the entire text of documents, not just the names and dates captured by indexers.
  • Full transcriptions of documents would be readily available.
Matt Garner, a developer Mocavo inherited last year when it acquired Ready Micro, has been instrumental in developing the software.

On the Mocavo blog, company founder Cliff Shaw described the process, which first involved developing OCR software that could  "perfectly separate handwriting from typewritten text."

Now, Shaw says, the company is getting closer to the "Holy Grail" of being able to accurately read handwritten text. "With limited vocabularies (potential answers), we’re achieving 90-95% accuracy," he writes.

They still have work to do to achieve the ability to read handwriting of a wide range of styles, and to overcome problems with faded or ink-spotted documents I mentioned above. Read about the software and see examples on the Mocavo blog.

Our Master the Best Genealogy Websites one-week online workshop will make you a research wizard at Mocavo,, and other genealogy websites. Check it now at

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, November 22, 2013 9:54:52 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, October 17, 2013
FamilySearch Partners With Owner D.C. Thomson
Posted by Tyler

FamilySearch is forming yet another partnership with a commercial genealogy company—this time, with DC Thomson, formerly called Brightsolid, owner of the subscription website.

DC Thomson will "deliver a wide range of projects including digital preservation, records search, technological development and the means to allow family historians to share their discoveries." No additional specifics are being offered about the projects.

DC Thomson, in turn, received access to more than 13 million records from, including major collections of births, marriages and deaths covering America, Australia and Ireland. Those records have already launched on About 600 additional collections containing millions of records will follow. Those records will continue to be accessible free at

The organizations have previously collaborated on digitization and indexing projects including the 1940 census and  British army service records.

I wonder how these partnership agreements affect each other. Is FamilySearch trying not to play favorites, or does it have fingers in too many pies? For example, can the records digitized and indexed as a result of's $60 million investment with FamilySearch then be shared with's competitor (which has agreed to give FamilySearch its Smart Matching and Record Matching technologies) and/or with DC Thomson (in exchange for the unspecified projects)?  

As has become FamilySearch's practice with such announcements, the organization has posted an FAQ here. (Question #2 makes it sound a little like findmypast records are launching on FamilySearch, which is the opposite of what's happening.) | FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Industry | MyHeritage
Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:00:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, October 15, 2013
MyHeritage, FamilySearch Form Partnership to Exchange Technologies and Records
Posted by Diane

Genealogy website and family network MyHeritage has announced a long-term strategic partnership with FamilySearch in which MyHeritage will provide its Smart Matching and Record Matching technologies to FamilySearch, and FamilySearch will share 2 billion records from all over the world and family tree profiles with MyHeritage.

By the end of this year, FamilySearch records—including vital records, censuses and more—and family tree profiles will become part of the SuperSearch on MyHeritage, and will be matched with MyHeritage members' family trees.

Some of the content will be available free to MyHeritage basic members, and some will require a data subscription to view. FamilySearch's volunteer-indexed records will continue to be available free through, according to a FamilySearch FAQ.

When technologies are implemented on sometime in 2014, SmartMatching will automatically find connections between FamilySearch user-contributed family trees and MyHeritage family trees, and Record Matching will find historical records relevant to people in FamilySearch family trees.  

MyHeritage members who don't want their family trees Smart Matched with FamilySearch family trees can use the settings under "My Privacy" to turn off Smart Matching with other MyHeritage websites and partners (see instructions in this FAQ).

This comes on the heels of FamilySearch's partnership with, which has putting up $60 million over the next five years to digitize a billion FamilySearch records, in exchange for the records and indexing assistance.

Learn more about the MyHeritage/FamilySearch partnership from this MyHeritage blog post and FAQ. Also see FamilySearch's FAQ here.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | MyHeritage
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 9:19:50 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, October 04, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 30-Oct. 4
Posted by Diane

  • Those researching ancestors in Ireland, may be relieved to hear this announcement from the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO): “In recent weeks stories have been circulated by some within the genealogical community that the new Freedom of Information Bill will restrict access to Ireland's civil registration records. CIGO can categorically state that these rumors are completely unfounded. No such change is contemplated and this has been confirmed by Brian Hayes TD, Minister of State in the Irish government.” Read more on the CIGO website.
  • UK genealogists have launched a free Register of One-Place Studies website, where researchers can register historical studies covering the entire population of a particular place. Click the link for each study for basic details and a link to the study website. Most listings are for the UK, with some from elsewhere.

FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Industry | UK and Irish roots
Friday, October 04, 2013 2:07:16 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 06, 2013
FamilySearch, Team Up To Put 1 Billion International Genealogy Records Online
Posted by Diane and FamilySearch have announced a new long-term strategic agreement that'll bring you a billion international genealogical records.

According to the announcement, "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. ... 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."

(FamilySearch's Granite Mountain Records Vault is the storage facility for master copies of records the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has microfilmed over the years.)

It sounds like will put up the necessary funds, and FamilySearch will provide volunteers for digitizing and/or indexing. It makes sense to me: As tries to expand its global reach, it can utilize the record-duplication work that's already been done. And FamilySearch can speed up its project to digitize its 2.4 million rolls of microfilm.

The announcement was short on details such what record collections would be digitized first or how and where the records and indexes would be accessible.

Past partnerships have resulted in varying arrangements. For example, in 2003 the organizations integrated FamilySearch's free 1880 census index with record images at Today, you can search free indexes at and FamilySearch's results link to record images at (the 1880 census images are currently free on, which as far as I can tell wasn't part of the original agreement).

A 2008 agreement to exchange FamilySearch's high-quality images for select US censuses and's indexes for those censuses resulted in free indexes on, which link to record images on The images are viewable to subscribers and on FamilySearch Center computers.

Read the full announcement about this new agreement on We'll keep you updated on related developments.

Update: Here's an announcement from FamilySearch about the partnership with It links to a Q&A that addresses such issues as "what's in it for FamilySearch volunteers" and "will there be a fee to see indexed records." | FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | International Genealogy
Friday, September 06, 2013 9:54:05 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Can Take PERSI From Most-Overlooked to Most-Used Genealogy Resource?
Posted by Diane

PERSI, aka the Periodical Source Index, may be about to go from one of the best most-overlooked genealogy resources to one of the best most-used.

Brightsolid, the British company behind and other genealogy websites, has agreed with PERSI's creators at the Allen County (Ind.) Public Library (ACPL) to publish the index—and the company plans to make each index entry link to an image of the article it refers to.

Let's back up for a minute and talk about PERSI: It's an index to articles in thousands of genealogy and local history periodicals published in the US and Canada back to 1800. Any of which could contain information that helps you with a family or place you're researching

Allen County librarians began creating PERSI in 1986. It now has about 2.5 million citations and adds 100,000 per year, according to the Journal Gazette.

The index was made searchable on and HeritageQuest Online (which has a more recent version you can search at libraries that offer HeritageQuest Online). You can run a search, and then if you find an index entry that mentions a family or place of interest, you can order a copy of the article from ACPL.

That's been the only way for you to access all those genealogy periodicals. You know, unless you want to subscribe to all of them, and then read them. And then find the periodicals no longer in publication, and read those, too.

Until now. If brightsolid can secure permission from publishers, subscribers will be able to search for articles related to their ancestors, and then link to digitized images of the articles. That can't happen soon enough as far as I'm concerned.

Read more about PERSI in the Journal Gazette.

Don't want to wait? Learn how to use PERSI and other databases in HeritageQuest Online (including family and local histories, censuses and military records) with our HeritageQuest Online Web Guide.

findmypast | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 12:05:01 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 06, 2013
FamilySearch Family Tree (Finally) Opens to the Public
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has opened its Family Tree online family tree service for public use. See?

This is what I saw when I went to Until now, Family Tree was open to only members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and select others, as FamilySearch refined the service.

The long-awaited public debut came without a formal announcement from FamilySearch—I read about it on Genea-musings, whose blogger Randy Seaver read about it on the Larry Cragun Family and Genealogy Blog

The goal of FamilySearch Family Tree is to get everyone working on one family tree, sharing information, comparing research and avoiding duplication. Read more about the development of FamilySearch Family Tree on the Ancestry Insider blog.

From that first page, you can either get started using Family Tree, or access training materials.

If you click Get Started (and you don't already have a tree here), you'll see this:

This tree works a little differently from your five-generation ancestor chart. Each box, instead of holding one person's name and vital information, includes a couple. So both of my parents go in the box to the bottom right of my name, and my husband's parents go in the top box.

I clicked Add Husband in my parent's box and was directed to a search page—the goal is to keep me from adding a new person for my dad if someone else has already put him in the tree.

If you instead click the Add Person tab, Family Tree will still look for that person first. If it finds matches, you can either select the right person or add a new person.

Once you add someone to Family Tree, you can't delete the person, but you can delete certain details about the person. Other Family Tree users can change details about any person (and you can change them back), but they're supposed to explain their reasoning and add sources. Changing a person from deceased to living, though, requires a review from FamilySearch admins before it takes effect.

There's a lot to Family Tree, and this isn't even close to an exhaustive review. You can access a basic user guide plus other training materials here, and look for our upcoming Family Tree Magazine article about FamilySearch FamilyTree.

Have you tried FamilySearch Family Tree? What do you think?

Update: Here's an announcement from FamilySearch about the launch of Family Tree.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, March 06, 2013 9:26:02 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Rumors Fly: Kelly Clarkson Filming "Who Do You Think You Are?" for TLC
Posted by Diane

Genealogy blogger Dick Eastman spotted an online report that the cable network TLC (The Learning Channel) will pick up the US series "Who Do You Think You Are?," which NBC cancelled after last season.

According to the report on the Taste of Country website, announced that singer and "American Idol" Season 1 champ Kelly Clarkson is filming an episode of the genealogy series. referenced mjsbigblog (taglined "American Idol—I love This Cheesy Show), which in turn cited a tweet from a man who met Clarkson in Andersonville, Ga., as well as a brief report from that town's paper.

I hope these folks are right! Rumors of TLC's interest in the series circulated last year, and I think it's a great way for the channel to redeem itself after "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

Celebrity Roots | Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 9:41:56 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, January 18, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Jan. 14-18
Posted by Beth

  • Saving Memories Forever has launched its new free Android app designed to make interviewing and preserving stories through audio recordings even easier. The technology allows users to build story archives they can share and manage through the company's website.

  • FamilySearch has added 7 million new indexed records and images to its collection. Notable additions include the 1.7 million+ indexed records and images in the Slovakia Church and Synagogue Books collection from 1592-1910; 1 million+ records added to the United States Index to Passenger Arrivals, Atlantic and Gulf Ports, from 1820-1874; and the 1.3 million+ records from the United States General Index to Pension Files collection from 1861-1934.

  • The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) announces the creation of a new society to promote the preservation of records in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): The Society of Preservation Patriots. This new group recognizes donors who have contributed $250 or more to the Stern-NARA Gift Fund or the current Preserve the Pensions initiative, a project to digitally capture the 7.2 million images from the 180,000 pensions of those who served in the War of 1812.
Donors will receive a society pin and be listed on the FGS website. For more information, see the Preserve the Pensions initiative or the Stern-NARA Gift Fund. 

Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, January 18, 2013 9:17:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, January 11, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Jan. 7-11
Posted by Beth

  • has updated its 1850 US census collections (correcting some Indiana birth places that were keyed incorrectly) and its City Directories. In addition, Ancestry continues with its indexing of information for the 1940 US census to make it more complete.

  • Genealogy search engine service Mocavo and Family History Information Standards Organisation, Inc. (FHISO) announced that Mocavo has finalized its plans to become a founding member of the organization. FHISO is a standards-developing organization bring the international family history and genealogical community in a self-governing forum to develop information standards to solve today's interoperability issues.
Mocavo will participate with other FHISO members from the global genealogical community in the development of standards for the digital representation and sharing of family history and genealogical information.

  • MyHeritage has released a new version of its free MyHeritage app (v2.0) that now lets users do their genealogy on the go—create and edit their family tree, add relatives and photos, and edit profiles, info and events. The app is available for iPad, iPhone, and Android smartphones and tablets, in 32 languages. If you have an older version of the app, the new app will upgrade seamlessly. Click here to download the app.

Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, January 11, 2013 9:16:27 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, December 21, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Dec. 17-21
Posted by Beth

  •, a UK-based website specializing in British genealogical records, recently added 31 million new records spanning 38 US, UK, Irish and Australian collections. Included are British Army service and pension records spanning 1760-1902 from two British hospitals, as well the War Office; US military records, including Korean War POWs and casualties, and Vietnam War casualties; Irish Catholic Church directory records from 1836-1837; and Australian "Northern Territory" records from 1884-1968.
  • Genealogy software company RootsMagic, Inc. has released a free RootsMagic app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The app, available at the Apple App Store, is a companion to RootsMagic desktop family tree software and the free RootsMagic Essentials software. Features include access to your personal RootsMagic files via iTunes or Dropbox; family tree search and explore capabilities; pictures, notes and sources; lists; and tools and calculators. For more information, click here. 
Users of genealogy software such as PAF, Family Tree Maker and Legacy Family Tree can convert their files into viewable RootsMagic files with RootMagic's free desktop software.

Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, December 21, 2012 7:34:55 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, December 14, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Dec. 10-14
Posted by Beth

  • The Illinois State Genealogical Society has raised more than $40,000 during its War of 1812 Pension Match Challenge. ISGS announced its $10,000 War of 1812 Pension Match Challenge on June 18, the 200th anniversary of the declaration of the War of 1812, and committed to matching any contribution up to the first $10,000 made to the project. announced that it would also match all monies donated during the campaign, resulting in contributions being quadrupled.
The money will be donated to the Preserve the Pensions effort, resulting in 88,888 additional pages of the War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files being digitized over the next few months. The campaign, sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies,, Fold3 and the National Archives, hopes to raise more than $3.7 million to digitize all of the pension files currently stored in the National Archives and make them freely available online.
Files are being digitized as funds become available; many files are currently viewable here

Click here for official rules and click here for the entry form

Genealogy Industry
Friday, December 14, 2012 9:27:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Genealogy Gems Reaches 1 Million Download Milestone
Posted by Beth

Genealogy Gems Podcast, a free 30-minute monthly podcast of genealogy resources, tips and fun hosted by our friend and colleague Lisa Louise Cooke, received its 1 millionth episode download this past weekend.

In early 2007, when Cooke published the first episode, podcasting was in its infancy. "It was like being part of a new Wild West of technology," says Cooke, a genealogist since the age of about 10. She has now published 146 free episodes, available through Apple's iTunes Store and the Genealogy Gems website. What started out as a single podcast episode has turned into a multimedia offering of audio, video, articles, books, DVDs, live classes and online webinars. The Genealogy Gems mobile app (available in the iTunes App Store, and an Android version through gives genealogists the flexibility to hit the road and take it all with them.

"My goal has always been to spend my time sifting through all of that information and chiseling out the gems—the items that are really worthwhile—so that my listeners can have faster and greater success," Cooke says. "Ultimately, the genealogy gems I provide on the show lead to my listeners' genealogy gems: their precious ancestors."

Cooke is also the host of the free Family Tree Magazine Podcast, our monthly online radio show that takes you behind the scenes to learn more about the topics covered in the magazine. Each episode features interviews with genealogy experts and Family Tree Magazine editors on using genealogy web sites, records and resources. Plus, publisher/editorial director Allison Dolan gives you sneak previews on upcoming issues; managing editor Diane Haddad delivers the scoop on the latest genealogy news.

To subscribe to the free Family Tree Magazine Podcast, click here. To listen to an audio podcast via iTunes, click here.

Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Podcasts
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 9:46:58 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, December 07, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Dec. 3-7
Posted by Beth

Over the next several months, CDs, maps, microfilms and periodicals will be added to the catalog.

  • Thanks to the Flip-Pal Cares response team, Hurricane Sandy survivors in Union Beach, NJ, may soon be reunited with family photos that have washed up on the Jersey shoreline.
Last weekend, the rescue team, volunteers and Monmouth County, NJ, Boy Scout troops used donated Flip-Pal mobile scanners to digitally scan thousands of photos, wedding albums and scrapbooks collected from the shoreline, wetlands and piles of hurricane debris. All scanned photos have been posted on Facebook for their owners to claim.


Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry
Friday, December 07, 2012 8:58:34 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, November 30, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Nov. 26-30
Posted by Beth

  • announces the launch of, a new web site featuring more than 800 US newspapers dating from the late 1700s to the early 2000s. With more than 25 million pages, offers historical and present-day newspapers ranging from The New York Times to small town and local newspapers.
The site's search capabilities are specifically designed for newspapers, enabling users to search by keywords, location, time period and newspaper name. A one-year subscription to is $79.95 for subscribers and $39.95 for or members.
There currently are no plans to remove any newspaper content from Most of the newspapers on the new site (more than 15 million of the 25 million pages) are not part of records. is actively producing millions of new pages per month from microfilm, and is working with newspaper publishers and microfilm owners to increase the number of newspaper titles in its production pipeline for

  • The Federation of Genealogical Societies received a $250,000 donation from FamilySearch for its War of 1812 "Preserve the Pensions" Digitization Fund, designed to digitally preserve and index the War of 1812 pension and bounty land records.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, November 30, 2012 9:30:42 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, November 28, 2012
MyHeritage Acquires
Posted by Beth

MyHeritage, the popular online family history network, announced today that it has acquired, a pioneer in collaborative family tree building with its focus on creating the World Family Tree.

The acquisition extends MyHeritage's network to 72 million registered users, 1.5 billion profiles and 27 million family trees internationally. will continue to operate as a separate brand based out of its California office, and the services of MyHeritage and will initially run independently. MyHeritage plans to give respective users the option to collaborate on family history research by enabling two-way information flows between the sites.

Users of both sites will be able to discover relatives and new ancestral connections through MyHeritage's Smart Matching technology, which finds common matches between family trees. In addition, MyHeritage will apply its recently launched Record Matching technology—matching historical records such as birth, death, census and immigration records—to individuals in family trees.

In addition to its acquisition, MyHeritage also announced its $25 million funding round to be used to boost growth of its historical content services and expand its commercial operations worldwide.

UPDATED: Geni CEO Noah Tutak announces immediate benefits to users:
  • Free unlimited profile adding—All users can add as many profiles as they'd like to their tree without upgrading to a paid account. There are no limits to the size of a user's tree.
  • Free Merging—All users can now merge duplicate profiles in their tree (privacy and permission rules still apply).
  • Free relationship paths—Users can discover their relationship to historical figures and celebrities, and even distant relatives.
  • Free family tree chart downloads—All users can now download a high-quality chart of their family tree to their computer at no charge. 
  • No ads—Ads have been removed to provide users with a cleaner, less distracting interface.
  • More privacy—Living people who have not joined Geni will become private and will not be searchable on Google.


Genealogy Industry | International Genealogy
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 10:57:05 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, November 15, 2012
Mocavo Announces Free Scanning Service
Posted by Beth

If you've got piles of genealogical research laying around, or old books or historical documents gathering dust, Mocavo, the world's largest genealogy search engine, has a "get-'er-done" scanning solution for you to digitize your materials.

The company has announced its Free Scanning Service, available now through the end of the year, that will scan members' historical and genealogical materials—books, documents and standard-size paper sheets—to bring them online for their owners and the rest of the Mocavo community.

ReadyMicro, Mocavo's digitization group, will handle the free document scanning. A member's document(s) will be scanned, and he or she will then receive a digital copy of each document. (Member can have their materials shipped back to them for $10/shipment plus the cost of shipping.) The members' documents will also be placed online at Mocavo.

The company's goal is to work with its community to bring all of the world's genealogical information online for free, helping to put everyone's family history within reach.

This scanning service is applicable for:
  • Paper documents
  • Unbound books and books that can have their binding removed
  • Photocopies of original content
  • Notes and paper family trees
This scanning service is not applicable for:
  • Photographs 
  • Moldy or damaged documents
  • Copyrighted materials
  • Non-historical content
  • Very fragile content
  • Small pieces of paper
  • Old newspapers or clippings
  • Documents larger than 11x17 inches
  • Photographs cannot be processed at this time.

Learn more about Mocavo’s Free Scanning Service here.

Genealogy Industry | Historic preservation | saving and sharing family history
Thursday, November 15, 2012 11:56:02 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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 Show notes are on, too.

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Cemeteries | Genealogy Industry | Podcasts | Research Tips
Monday, October 22, 2012 1:10:54 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
European Private Equity Firm to Purchase
Posted by Diane

Online genealogy company, rumored for months to be seeking a buyer, has found one in European private equity firm Permira. announced that company owned by the Permira funds and co-investors has entered into a merger agreement to acquire for $32 per share in cash, in a transaction valued at $1.6 billion. president and CEO Tim Sullivan, as well as its CFO/COO Howard Hochhauser, will keep a majority of their equity stakes in the company. Spectrum Equity will also remain an investor.

The transaction, subject to stockholder approval and other closing conditions, is expected to close in January 2013.

According to the announcement of the agreement, will keep its focus on content, technology and user experience. It'll continue a growth strategy led by content acquisition and technology investment, with the support of the Permira funds and the investor group. It'll also expand its product offerings in areas such as DNA, and build the brand and the family history category on a global basis.

There are no anticipated changes in’s operating structure. will remain headquartered in Provo, Utah, with a continued large presence in San Francisco, Dublin, London and other international markets.

Got Iowa ancestors? Our Iowa Genealogy Crash Course webinar, happening Tuesday evening, Oct. 30, will help you find their vital records, US and state censuses, land records and more. Learn more about the Iowa Genealogy Crash Course in | Genealogy Industry
Monday, October 22, 2012 9:04:57 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 03, 2012 Acquires 1000memories
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy website just announced it has acquired San Francisco-based 1000memories.

1000memories, founded in 2010, has a website where people can store and share digitized photos. Shoebox, the site’s accompanying mobile app for iPhone and Android, lets you use a cell phone camera to “scan” and upload documents to the site.

The app has been downloaded more than 500,000 times since its launch. has already begun incorporating the app into its services. To mark this announcement, 1000memories has launched a new version of ShoeBox for iOS (iPhones), enabling members to post photos directly to ancestors profiles in their member trees.

“This is the first step in a broader plan that will see tighter integration of the two services in the coming months,” according to’s official press release.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Photos
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 11:55:31 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 21, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 17-21
Posted by Diane

  • This week announced the launch of its automatic Record Matching premium service. The service automatically searches the 4 billion records on 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 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]
# Tuesday, July 24, 2012 Officially Launches into US Genealogy Market
Posted by Diane

The website, part of British genealogy company brightsolid, has been online for awhile now with US census records including 1940, but brightsolid today announced the official launch of

In today's press release, brightsolid positioned itself as David to market leader's Goliath. From the release (you can read the whole thing here):
“We’re not used to thinking of ourselves as small”, says Chris van der Kuyl, CEO of brightsolid, the world’s second largest genealogy company. “Our ambitions are big and the launch of is a major market entry. The truth is that it’s a growing market, with plenty of room for both of us.”
“We aim to become the go-to family history site, first for Americans of British and Irish descent, and eventually for all Americans”, says van der Kuyl.
Brightsolid's first product for the US market, the pay-per-view census site, launched in February in conjunction with FamilySearch's RootsTech conference.

Now brightsolid's US focus is on, which will offer family tree building plus subscription or pay-as-you-go access to US census, vital and military records; plus records from the UK, Ireland and Australia.

Those overseas records will include UK censuses, English and Welsh vital records, local parish records, UK passenger departure lists, British military records, Irish vital records and British newspapers.

Learn more about records coming to here.

Update: has an introductory subscription offer of $4.95 per month for a World Subscription (normally $249.95 per year), which gives you access to all the aforementioned content.

Brightsolid, which has 18 million registered users across all its websites and more than a billion genealogical records, boasted a growth rate last year of 75 percent. Last year, the British-focused saw 4.5 million visits from outside Britain, with US residents supplying the largest portion of those visits.

Following up on last month's reports that is seeking buyers, brightsolid also used today's press release to squash any rumors that it wants to acquire | Genealogy Industry | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, July 24, 2012 1:49:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, July 12, 2012 Acquisition Means Changes at GeneTree and
Posted by Diane

GeneTree, the genetic genealogy and family tree building site acquired earlier this year, will close. Customers received e-mail notification to download DNA results and pedigree before Jan. 1, 2013. 

An FAQ page on contains instructions for customers to download information from GeneTree and, if they want, upload it to (you can opt for a free guest account instead of a paid subscription).

If you've ordered a test from GeneTree or have questions about transferring your information to, see this FAQ page on

As part of the deal, also acquired the DNA assets of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, which has collected DNA results and associated family tree data for 12 years. The Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA results databases on the  website will no longer be updated, but they'll continue to be available.

From the statement:

SMGF has decided that AncestryDNA? is better positioned to provide the benefit to the public that is central to SMGF's mission. For this reason, SMGF's DNA-related assets were acquired by AncestryDNA in March 2012. SMGF is very excited to join AncestryDNA , and we are confident that the pioneering work begun at SMGF will continue to grow and have an even greater impact on the future scientific understanding and public outreach of genetic genealogy. | Genealogy Industry | Genetic Genealogy
Thursday, July 12, 2012 2:56:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, June 18, 2012
1940 Census: Big Deal or Not?
Posted by Diane

Genea-Musings blogger Randy Seaver has posted a response to a letter to the editor printed in the July/August Family Tree Magazine. The letter-writer thought that we at Family Tree Magazine, as well as other genealogy organizations, got overly giddy about the 1940 census. He thought that the time spent browsing for an ancestor's listing in the then-unindexed 1940 census yields little to no new genealogical information (now, though, 24 states are searchable by name).

Randy disagreed—you can see why in his post—and he wants to know what others think.

Personally, I've found the census useful. In some cases, I just confirmed what I knew; in others, I found evidence to support educated guesses. And as Randy points out, until you check a record, you don't know whether it'll hold a surprise. I was looking for someone else entirely when I found my grandfather staying at the YMCA in Cincinnati. When the Ohio name index comes out, you can bet I'll be searching for my grandma, who met my grandfather here soon after 1940.

A Family Tree Magazine Facebook fan says she's using the 1940 census to help in her search for living relatives. Another Facebook fan gets a kick out of finding his family members' names, whether he learns anything new or not. So do I! What about you?

census records | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Industry
Monday, June 18, 2012 3:02:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, April 26, 2012 Acquires Addressing Genealogists' Concerns
Posted by Diane

It's been all over the genealogy news since yesterday that plans to purchase for $100 million.

About 40 employees of will become part of

Until the acquisition goes through the regulatory approval process, the companies will continue to operate as separate entities. It's unclear how long the process could take.

In a conference call last night with the genealogy media, CEO Joe Godfrey and president Tim Sullivan addressed issues of concern to many family historians.

Here, I've summarized their comments as they relate to some of the questions I've been hearing from genealogists:

Is just trying to eliminate a competitor?'s parent company Inflection is focusing on public records and people-searching (it owns the people-searching website peoplesmart), diverging from's historical records mission. Godfrey and Sullivan say this acquisition makes sense for all parties.

Current plans call for to remain largely as is. "We see a different experience in It's priced and positioned differently [from]. It's another important service that we can continue to invest in," Sullivan says. He vows to invest in's content and technology.

The acquisition gives the opportunity to offer a genealogy product at a lower price point ( subscribers pay $39.95 a year, to's $155.40).

Nor is the acquisition a response to the entry into the US genealogy market of companies such as brightsolid (owner of and MyHeritage, Sullivan says. He emphasized a positive view of the genealogy category's growth and the increase in competition, saying it's an indication of the health of the category.

Sullivan says may work with Inflection in the future, describing the potential opportunity as "tremendous."

Will the sites be too similar?
Sullivan and Godfrey say there's some overlapping content on and, but that how the user experiences each site's content is different and will remain so. "One thing we won't do is make like the user experience," Sullivan says.

"Even though some content might overlap, the way it is presented will have different value propositions to different users," Godfrey adds.

What will happen with the 1940 Census Community Project?
The project, whose partners FamilySearch, and are recruiting volunteers to index the 1940 census, won't be affected, say both men.

Godfrey encouraged volunteers to continue indexing. "Nothing will change as far as the partnership, and nothing will change as far as making the index available for free," he says.

Sullivan says that when FamilySearch was seeking partners in this volunteer indexing project, leadership discussed it at length and ultimately decided that "it wasn't structured in a way that completely was in sync with what we wanted to do with 1940."

He added that would support's participation in the project.

Does this form a monopoly?
They couldn't elaborate on the regulatory approval process for the acquisition, but neither Sullivan nor Godfrey foresees problems. "We're doing this for the right reasons. There's no negative for consumers," Sullivan says. | | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:51:05 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, April 25, 2012 to Acquire
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site just announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire competitor for approximately $100 million in cash and assumed liabilities. is owned and operated by Inflection LLC, a Silicon Valley-based technology company.

Since’s launch in January 2010 (before that, the site was called Genealogy Archives), the site has grown to more than 380,000 paying subscribers who pay approximately $39.95 a year. offers access to more than 2.1 billion historical records, including birth records, obituaries, immigration and passenger lists, historical newspapers, and US and UK censuses.

Inflection secured the contract with the National Archives to design and host the archives' website for the 1940 census records, released April 2. also is a partner in the 1940 Census Community project, which has FamilySearch volunteers indexing the 1940 census. is using a paid contractor to create its own 1940 census index. I'm curious to see what happens with this.

From's press release: "This transaction will enable to add a differentiated service targeted to a complementary segment of the growing family history category. In addition, will welcome a team of talented engineers, digital marketers, and family history innovators into the fold and also gain access to a proprietary technology platform that has supported’s rapid growth."

Upon completion of the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, including expiration of the HSR waiting period, will continue to operate separately retaining its brand and website. Many Inflection employees are expected to join the team.

We'll bring you more on this story as it develops. | | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 4:40:07 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Monday, April 02, 2012 to Provide Searchable Database of 1940 Census
Posted by Diane

Henderson, Nevada-based announced it's now indexing the records to provide a searchable database and census images to both companies and individuals.

The census images are being added at (I don't see any there yet), and the indexed database will be updated as data entry is completed beginning this week.

You'll be able to search basic fields for free, but you'll need a subscription to run advanced searches. Subscriptions range from 24 hours in length to one year. will license the indexed data, along with the images, to genealogy companies and other interested groups.

The press release claims RootsPoint "has a 15-year track record of delivering a high level of completion and accuracy across many different censuses with a detailed quality control process to make sure records that have faded or have poor legibility are not skipped or misrecorded."

RootsPoint's parent company is Intelligent Image Management Inc. (IIMI). "Indexes from other census work from have been independently tested and determined to have among the highest quality ratings in the industry with an accuracy of 99 percent." says IIMI president Upal Rahman.

census records | Genealogy Industry
Monday, April 02, 2012 4:28:58 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, March 23, 2012
Coming to MyHeritage: More Historical Records, Sophisticated Searching
Posted by Diane

Hosting the 1940 US census is the start of big changes at genealogy site and family network MyHeritage. Those changes will include more records and more-sophisticated searching.

In an interview yesterday, MyHeritage founder and CEO Gilad Japhet called the 1940 census announcement “the first serious signal from MyHeritage that it is strongly entering the historical records market."

"MyHeritage has always been about family trees and photos.”

For at least a year, plans have been underway to change that. has invested half a million dollars into new hardware and a data center to build its new SuperSearch system, which will be released with the site’s 1940 census collection in April. It also will be available on FamilyLink and, which MyHeritage acquired in November 2011.

The company also made a personnel acquisition I’m not free to go into detail about, but you’ll hear more soon.

MyHeritage has used SmartMatching, which Japhet says is a good way to search trees for matches, but less effective when it comes to searching on a last name "in any direction the user wants to go."

The new search system will do a better job of matching trees to records by employing data in approximately 1 billion profiles in family trees from around the world.

The SuperSearch will first compare your tree to other trees, find matches and “imply” information from those trees—but not add it to your tree, Japhet emphasized. But the search will include that implied information to find historical records that match your ancestors.

For example, if your ancestor’s profile lacks a death date, SuperSearch could find the same ancestor in someone else’s tree—using other details such as children’s names to make the match—and use the death date from the other person’s tree to locate the ancestor’s will in MyHeritage collections.

“This has a low false positive rate. It’s a match Ancestry never could have done. Their technology doesn't use the knowledge of all its trees,” Japhet said. He described the “shaky leaf” technology as “a bit naïve” because it requires more similar information, such as name spellings or birth and death dates—information the tree owner might not know—to find matches.

“Whenever new data are added, we compare them to all the MyHeritage trees, so you can sit back and do nothing,” Japhet says. “If you have a person’s family tree, you can do a lot of research on behalf of the person.”

Due to the resource investment, using the new SuperSearch engine will require a subscription, says Japhet. But current MyHeritage Premium and PremiumPlus subscribers, who’ve purchased subscriptions to build enhanced trees on the site, won’t need to purchase an additional subscription to use the search engine for finding trees, photos and free collections (including the 1940 census and the SSDI). Pay-as-you credits also will be available for those who want to view only a few records or just dip a toe into genealogy research.

The 1940 census index also will be free to search via SuperSearch.

Trees will remain an important part of MyHeritage.

“We think family trees are the most important thing. They’re the core of family history. We would love for users to grow their trees on MyHeritage, so we have invested many resources in building tools and services that work with the trees.” Those include the MyHeritage mobile app, printable family trees, family calendars and more.

“Other sites focus on research,” Japhet says, but added that users might give it up when it becomes too time-consuming. “Users discontinue [a subscription] when they can’t use it,” he says, “but they’ll maintain a tree for life.”

Trees also have been helpful in making MyHeritage a site that supports multiple languages—38, to be exact. Because trees can be bilingual, developers have been able to build a store of information about name equivalents in a range of languages.

“You can type in a Russian name and get an English match,” Japhet says. “Or you could type in Alex and the site ‘knows’ Sascha is the translated Russian nickname, and it pulls up a newspaper article in Russian,” he says.

The site translates between alphabets, too, such as the Latin alphabet English uses and the Cyrillic alphabet Russian uses.

To encourage the site’s internationalism, MyHeritage focuses on hiring bilingual individuals. They maintain blogs and provide customer service in several languages.

The 1940 census is just the beginning of new content for MyHeritage. Japhet didn’t name any specific collections coming to the site, but he emphasized the global nature of records to be added and said the site would employ crowdsourcing to acquire content. Those who assist with crowdsourcing efforts will gain SuperSearch privileges.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage
Friday, March 23, 2012 7:54:52 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, February 07, 2012
RPAC Announces "Stop ID Theft NOW!" Campaign to Save SSDI
Posted by Diane

As part of its "Stop ID Theft Now!" campaign, today the genealogy Records Preservation and Access Committee (a joint task force of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society) plans to launch a petition drive to help preserve access to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).

Update: Click here to read and sign the petition. (Note: The page took awhile to load for me.)

Click here to read FAQs about the petition and how to electronically sign it. I recommend reading them, as I encountered some hiccups in the process of creating an account and clicking to sign.

Last week, we blogged about genealogists' exclusion from a hearing of the House Ways & Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security. Read about SSDI threats including a bill that would eliminate it here.

The RPAC petition will urge measures that should immediately "curtail the filing of fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from deceased infants and adults."

The SSDI issue came to light after heartwrenching news reports of bereaved parents contending with identity theft when criminals filed tax returns with their deceased children's SSNs.

But eliminating SSDI access won't stop identity theft, say many genealogists. It won't prevent hackers from stealing personal data from government and corporate computer systems, nor will it force the IRS to adopt better practices for preventing and investigating identity theft-related tax fraud, and improving handling of fraud cases.

RPAC encourages family historians and genealogical societies to start by finding out who their representatives are. lets you enter your ZIP code to find out.

Genealogy Industry | Public Records
Tuesday, February 07, 2012 10:29:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Thursday, February 02, 2012
Brightsolid to Launch 1st Pay-As-You-Go Census Records Site
Posted by Diane

Remember how British genealogy company brightsolid was poised to announce plans to launch a new product for the US market? Here it is:

Brightsolid just announced a new pay-as-you-go site for US census records, 1790 to 1930, plus 1940 when it's released later this year. It'll be called, and is already live as as an early beta version that invites user feedback.

This is the first site that will let you search for your ancestors in the cnesus, then purchase the record with their names—a model that'll potentially make census research more affordable and accessible to those who don't want to commit to a genealogy website subscription.

No doubt brightsolid hopes—I know I do, too—that the pay-as-you-go service will lure casual researchers to get more involved in family history research. visitors will be able to search for free. To view documents and download them to their computer, they can subscribe or buy pay-as-you-go credits, which start at $7.95 for 1,000 credits (good for 60 days).

Pay-as-you-go costs could add up if you're not sure you've found your ancestor and have to check a bunch of records, but if you're sure you've found the right folks, this could be your most cost-effective approach.

With the confluence of several factors—a growing interest in family history, economic concerns, anticipation for the 1940 census, and "Who Do You Think You Are?" showing genealogy to the masses— is poised to be a big hit. What do you think? (Hit Comments below to share your thoughts.)

We're joining in the RootsTech excitement with conference specials for everyone! You'll get 20 percent off select online genealogy titles at

census records | Genealogy Industry | RootsTech | Sales
Thursday, February 02, 2012 11:33:32 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Britain's Brightsolid Has Plans for US Genealogists
Posted by Diane

Brightsolid, the British genealogy company with sites including and (for Irish records), has announced that it'll again sponsor the RootsTech conference this year—and that it'll use the conference as a platform to launch a new product for the US market.

Feb. 2, Brightsolid CEO Chris van der Kuyl will address a Brightsolid-sponsored RootsTech lunch with a talk on, “Why Everyone Deserves Their Own Episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and How Brightsolid Will Help You Get There.”

Hmmm ...

Remember that Brightsolid also has joined the 1940 Census Community Project, along with FamilySearch and, which turned some American genealogists' heads.

Of course, we'll let you know what the big news is when it's announced.

The RootsTech conference, organized by FamilySearch, focuses on technology in genealogy. It takes place Feb. 2-4 in Salt Lake City.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | RootsTech
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 3:03:53 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Thursday, January 05, 2012
Genealogy News Corral Catch-up
Posted by Diane

Happy 2012 to you! It was a nice holiday lull, but now it's time to ease back into the swing of things. Here's a roundup of some genealogy headlines to get things started:
  • PBS' Winter-Spring 2012 lineup includes a 10-episode celebrity genealogy series called "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr." premiering Sunday, March 25 at 8 p.m.
Gates will delve into the genealogy and genetics of famous Americans including Kevin Bacon, Robert Downey, Jr., Branford Marsalis, John Legend, Martha Stewart, Barbara Walters and Rick Warren. The show's website is here, though is hasn't yet been fleshed out with any content.
  • A few updates to the genealogy web search engine You can now upload files to your account using Dropbox; just follow these instructions on the blog. Also, if you log in before you search, you can mark off search results you've already looked at with an "I've Read This" button, and you can rank matches as “The Person I’m Looking For," “Maybe A Good Match," “Not Who I’m Looking For” and “Broken Link.”
Finally, the site has introduced Mocavo Plus, an advanced version the site's developer says will get you more-relevant matches with features such as wild card searching, date-range searching, GeoSearching (in the US) and more. Subscriptions cost $9.95 per month or $79.95 (a sale price) per year.
  • The National Archives and Records Administration has launched "Know Your Records" online videos from the popular genealogy how-to workshops hosted at its facilities on topics such as such as census, immigration and military records. Catch the videos on the archives' YouTube channel.
  • The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) announced its schedule of upcoming workshops at its Boston research library. If you'll be in the area, you can learn about the library's resources, local history, researching African-American ancestors and more (NEHGS also is organizing a research trip to Belfast in May). Check out the schedule on the website.
  • Genetic testing site 23andme, which provides test-takers with medical- and ancestry-related analyses, has generated some controversy in changing site policies. Now, those who let their 12-month subscriptions lapse will lose access to their Relative Finder matches, Health Reports and other features that rely on their genetic data. They'll still have access to the raw data. Read more about the controversy on the Your Genetic Genealogist blog.

Celebrity Roots | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy | NARA | Videos
Thursday, January 05, 2012 9:42:06 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, November 21, 2011 Buys FamilyLink
Posted by Diane

Israeli family tree network company MyHeritage has acquired FamilyLink, the developer of family history content sites and

The acquisition doesn't include FamilyLink's We're Related Facebook app, MyHeritage spokesperson Schelly Talalay Dardahsti tells me. FamilyLink CEO Paul Allen won't be joining the MyHeritage team.

MyHeritage will add its first U.S.-based office in Utah, the home of FamilyLink.

The acquisition adds something MyHeritage lacked: the historical records genealogists use. FamilyLink's records will complement the family trees on “We’ll be able to find your mother’s yearbook, your great-grandfather’s will and your ancestor’s immigration record. We’ll do that on a massive, global scale," says MyHeritage founder and CEO Gilad Japhet.

This is MyHeritage’s seventh and largest acquisition since 2007. Read the full press release here.

FamilyLink | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage
Monday, November 21, 2011 4:56:57 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, November 16, 2011
New Leadership at FamilySearch
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch International, which operates the free genealogy website, will have a new chief executive officer. Starting Jan. 2, 2012, Dennis C. Brimhall will succeed Jay L. Verkler as CEO of FamilySearch.

Verkler will assist with the transition for several months as a consultant.

FamilySearch regularly rotates its senior leaders, according to yesterday's announcement.

Under Verkler’s decade of leadership, FamilySearch has become a genealogy industry leader in enhancing online access to genealogy records through technological innovation and partnerships with genealogy businesses, records repositories and societies. Especially notable has been the FamilySearch Indexing project, which has mobilized tens of thousands of volunteers worldwide to index digitized records, making them searchable online.

Brimhall has held positions of increasing responsibility in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sponsors FamilySearch. Before that, he was president and CEO of the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver from 1988 until 2005.

“I am very excited to help lead the work of FamilySearch, to continue the great things that have been done and move forward in new directions as appropriate,” he says.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 8:49:04 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, September 20, 2011
MyHeritage Acquires
Posted by Diane

Family network website has acquired BackupMyTree, the free backup service for family tree data that launched a year ago.

BackUpMyTree automatically finds family tree files on your computer and creates a remote backup. It’s compatible with major genealogy applications such as Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree, Personal Ancestral File and RootsMagic.

So far, BackUpMyTree is storing more than 9 terabytes of genealogists’ data. will continue to support the backup service and keep it free. This marks the growing site’s sixth acquisition to date.

BackUpMyTree creator Cliff Shaw (who also created the GenCircles website and the Family Tree Legacies program and records database, which MyHeritage purchased a few years back) will focus on another venture, genealogy search engine

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, September 20, 2011 10:00:55 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Family History Game Launches on Facebook
Posted by Diane

Move over, Farmville. A genealogy-themed game is now available for play by the general Facebook population.

Family Village lets you create a pedigree chart (or input data from the FamilyLink Facebook app) and “immigrate” ancestors from the chart into your Family Village. You can outfit them in historical attire, assign them jobs, and build out the village with houses, landscaping and more (including heritage-related items like international flags and the Eiffel Tower).

The game also searches several websites for free genealogy records related to the information in your pedigree chart, and let you import those records into a family library. You can invite Facebook friends into your village to check out the library.

Partnerships with additional providers of genealogy records and other content are in the works, says Jeff Wells, CEO of Family Village developer Funium. He cautions, though, that the game is “not a research tool.”

You can play Family Village for free, with the option to spend actual cash (in the form of “game dollars”) on some of your ancestors’ purchases. For example, every ancestor gets a newspaper printed on the day he or she was born. You’ll view the headlines, and you can buy a copy of the whole thing.

The game adheres to Facebook privacy standards, wells says, with privacy settings you can adjust.

Wells got the idea for Family Village when his family didn’t share his excitement over his genealogical finds. “We wanted to do something that would end up being a segue way for people who don’t have the interest to get involved in family history,” he says.

According to Wells, 300 million people play social games each month, and 3 to 4 percent of those players spend money on the games. He’s hoping genealogists’ spouses and teenagers will get interested in Family Village and learn more about their heritage.

Will you play Family Village? Do you think it'll appeal to those already into genealogy, or will other people get hooked on it, too?

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Industry | Social Networking
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 10:45:08 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [10]
# 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

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

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

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
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

If you missed any of the simulcast RootsTech conference sessions, you can now watch them on-demand at 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]
# Wednesday, February 09, 2011
RootsTech Will Broadcast Select Conference Sessions Online
Posted by jamie

RootsTech, a family history and technology conference organized by FamilySearch, starts Thursday in Salt Lake City. If you can't make it to RootsTech in person, you're in luck — eight of the sessions will be broadcast free online.

The digital sessions include some of the keynote speakers and a sampling of technology and family history presentations. The available sessions are:
Thursday, Feb. 10:
  • 8:30-9:00 a.m (MST): A world of Information, presented by Shane Robison, chief technology officer of Hewlett Packard
  • 9:00-9:30 a.m. (MST): Turning Roots, Branches, Trees into Nodes, Links, Graphs, presented Jay L. Verkler, chief executive officer of FamilySearch International
  • 3:00-4:00 p.m. (MST): Digitally Preserving Your Family Heritage, presented by Barry Ewell, founder of
Friday, Feb. 11:
  • 8:30-9:30 a.m. (MST): The Changing Face of Genealogy, presented by Curt Witcher, manager of the Historical Genealogy Department of Allen County Public Library
  • 9:45-10:45 a.m. (MST): Cloud Computing: What is it and How it has Been Used to Create the Next, presented by Brian Pugh, senior engineer at FamilySearch International              
Saturday, Feb. 12:
  • 8:30-9:30 a.m. (MST): Personal Archiving and Primary Documents, presented by Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archives
  • 1:45-2:45 p.m. (MST): Virtual Presentations Round Table and Collaborative Panel Discussion, presented by Thomas MacEntee, professional genealogist and technology specialist
  • 3:00-4:00 p.m. (MST): The Power of PDF: Tools for Every Genealogist, presented by D. Josh Taylor, director of Education and Programs at New England Historical Genealogical Society.  
Interested viewers can watch the live presentations at

Our very own Lisa Louise Cook will be at RootsTech. Check back here for her updates from the weekend.

Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, February 09, 2011 1:20:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, February 04, 2011
Genealogy News Corral: Feb. 4
Posted by Grace

  • In honor of Black History Month, launched five new historical collections containing details about the lives of African-Americans who fought in the Civil War, the transportation of slaves to and from the prominent slave ports of New Orleans and Savannah, GA, and first-person accounts from former slaves. Click here to access these collections.

  • The former Oregon state mental hospital, where the Jack Nicholson flick One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest was filmed, is trying to match cremated the remains of 3,500 former patients and inmates with surviving relatives. The remains were discovered in 2004 in corroding copper canisters, and officials have been able to identify all but four of the canisters. The names, birthdays and dates of death for the former patients and prison inmates have been published online.

  • The Library of Congress will display, starting in early spring, one of the few existing copies of the first map printed in North America. The map depicts the boundaries of the new American nation -- read about it here.

  • has created a synthesized report of online history trends illustrated in a fun infographic. The findings:

    • by far has the most website visitors, clocking in at more than 7 million per year. and come in a distant second and third.
    • Google has digitized nearly 15 million books since 2004.
    • indexed 160 million records in 2010.
    • Sixty-two percent of members are over 45; by comparison, 41 percent of internet users are over 45.

    Read over the entire report on the blog.

African-American roots | Genealogy Industry | Historic preservation
Friday, February 04, 2011 1:29:42 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 13, 2011
Archives Launches Grant Program for Genealogy Research and Preservation
Posted by Diane

Are you working on a family history or historical preservation project for your family or community, but don't quite have the funds to complete it? Subscription genealogy website Archives is launching a grant program that may help.

Each month, a recipient will receive up to $1,000 to help fund a family history research or historical preservation project. The first grant will be awarded at the end this month.

The company is seeking any project that “contributes to the promotion and advancement of family history research and preservation.” That might be document preservation, historical artifact restoration, record transcription or promotion of historical events.

Both individuals (whether amateur or professional) and organizations (such as libraries, historical societies and archives) are eligible to apply.

You can learn more about the grant program on the application page and send questions to

See Archives’ full announcement here.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Historic preservation
Thursday, January 13, 2011 4:22:30 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, October 21, 2010 Deal Closes
Posted by Diane

I just wanted to point you to this blog post from Footnote about the official closure of's purchase of Footnote's parent company, iArchives. From the post:
"You may be curious about how this deal affects members of The plan is to continue to run the way we have always run—continuing to do what we believe is best for our brand, our customers, and our business."
That'll be reassuring to those concerned about the effects of the deal on Footnote. The post adds that "we are excited to leverage some of’s resources and expertise to take to the next level."

You can read the full post on Footnote's blog. | Footnote | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, October 21, 2010 9:59:28 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, September 23, 2010
More on's Acquisition of Footnote
Posted by Diane

Does it feel like’s been on a shopping spree, with this year’s acquisitions of Swedish records site Genline, research firm ProGenealogistsand now iArchives, parent company of historical records subscription service Footnote?

iArchives started in 1994 and provides document digitization services to libraries, universities, archives and newspapers across the country. Footnote launched in January 2007 as a way to bring that content to home users.

We suspect that even more than the Footnote website, values the relationships and contracts that iArchives has already established with record-holding institutions. That would make it easier for to negotiate content digitization agreements.

We love that when it launched, Footnote provided something different for genealogists at a time when online genealogical innovation seemed to have stalled. Footnote’s search interface, records viewer, social networking options and emphasis on history in addition to genealogy still distinguish it from other genealogy database sites.

We just hope Footnote doesn’t turn into another, a site purchased in 2003 and still maintains, but has allowed to languish while it pours resources into the stronger site. We’re also curious how this acquisition will affect another competitor,, which offers Footnote’s census indexes to its subscribers.

The genealogy of the genealogy industry does seem to always lead to Rather than a long explanation, here's a quick sketch of the acquisitions and major content partnerships I could think of ( has formed content partnerships with many organizations; I listed only two). | Footnote | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, September 23, 2010 11:56:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6] to Acquire iArchives and
Posted by Diane announced today it has entered into an agreement to acquire iArchives, Inc., and its subscription genealogy website

The purchase price will be about $27 million in a mix of stock, cash and assumption of liabilities. The transaction, which will make iArchives a wholly owned subsidiary of, is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2010. As part of the transaction, expects to issue approximately a million shares of common stock.

“This acquisition will provide the company with a complementary consumer brand, expanded content offerings, and enhanced digitization and image-viewing technologies,” states’s announcement.

Here’s the full announcement on’s iArchives acquisition.

Update: See our additional commentary on the acquisition here. | Footnote | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, September 23, 2010 8:41:54 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Wednesday, September 15, 2010
FamilyLink to Offer Maps From Historic Map Works
Posted by Diane

In a new partnership, genealogy social networking company FamilyLink, (owners of the World Vital Records subscription site and the FamilyLink Facebook app, among others) will soon provide FamilyLink members with access to the historical maps collection of Historic Map Works.

Based in Maine, Historic Map Works has 1,510,883 online map images. You can search and view maps on the site, but you need credits or a subscription to access advanced features. (Some libraries also offer an institutional version of the site.)

According to FamilyLink's press release, the site will add more than 1.3 million maps and 1 million names from Historic Map Works. FamilyLink users will be able to find homes and properties of ancestors, and to overlay old maps on top of current ones to see exactly where their ancestors lived.

I’m not sure whether the maps will be accessible to FamilyLink’s basic (free) members, or whether they’ll be accessible to members of Family Link Plus, a new subscription membership that provides access to genealogy records. I'll let you know what I find out. Update: Gena Philbert Ortega, FamilyLink's Genealogy Community Director, confirms that the maps will be available to FamilyLink Plus members.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 3:43:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, August 06, 2010 Acquires Research Firm ProGenealogists
Posted by Diane

Subscription site just announced it has acquired Salt Lake City-based professional genealogy research firm ProGenealogists.

The acquisition adds to the research services business launched last year with Expert Connect.

ProGenealogists has been operating for 15 years and employs a roster of more than 30 researchers including Natalie Cottrill, Kory L. Meyerink, Kyle J. Betit and Judith Wight. You may remember some of these names as the researchers who helped celebrities find their roots on the NBC television show “Who Do You Think You Are?”, a partner in the show, “will continue leveraging the expertise at ProGenealogists for similar initiatives in the future,” according to a press release.

The press release also stated that ProGenealogists will “continue to provide premier family history research to its existing clients while extending the reach across the genealogy value chain.”

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | | Genealogy Industry
Friday, August 06, 2010 2:37:58 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, July 16, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: July 12-16
Posted by Diane

  • has completed its acquisition of, the leading Swedish family history Web site. acquired all shares of Genline for approximately 53 million Swedish kronor, about $7.2 million.
  • also has updated its New Search screen to add maps you can click to browse data collections associated with a state or county, as well as access to your recent searches and recently viewed data collections. To use these features, click the search tab on’s home page (if you see a New Search link in the upper right, be sure to click it—these updates aren’t in the old search). See more details and screen shots on the blog.

  • British subscription site has made it easier for you to find birth records on the site. More than 100 million records were re-indexed.  Now, your search results will be in a list of individual names, rather than a range, so you won’t have to view pages and pages of records in order to find your ancestor. In the advanced search, you can now search records from one or more counties. Search birth records here. Fully indexed marriage and death records should follow later this year.
  • Subscription site has launched 16.3 million Parisian birth, marriage and death records dating from 1700 to 1907. French is the second most common ancestry in Canada. Use these links to access the records:
Paris, France & Vicinity Marriages, 1700-1907
Paris, France & Vicinity Births, 1700-1899
Paris, France & Vicinity Deaths, 1707-1907 | Canadian roots | Genealogy Industry | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, July 16, 2010 1:58:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, July 14, 2010
JewishGen, MyHeritage Collaborate on Jewish Family Trees Project
Posted by Diane

Genealogy sites JewishGen and and MyHeritage are collaborating to build the Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP) project on JewishGen.

FTJP offers a central resource for storing and finding Jewish family trees as GEDCOM files.

If you build your family tree with a special version of’s free, downloadable family tree software, your tree will be automatically transferred to the FTJP—with your consent.

You can set privacy controls using tools on MyHeritage. Trees of existing MyHeritage users won’t be transferred.

For help using MyHeritage in your genealogy search, see Family Tree Magazine's MyHeritage web guide, available as a digital download from ShopFamilyTreecom.

You'll find guidance on researching Jewish ancestors in our Jewish research guide, also available from

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Jewish roots
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 3:23:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, June 15, 2010 to Buy Genline
Posted by Diane

The biggest US-based genealogy company will acquire the biggest Swedish genealogy company. Subscription genealogy site has agreed to buy Genline, a subscription site featuring virtually all Swedish church records, for about $6.7 million, according to Global NewsWire.

Read more about the transaction here. | Genealogy Industry | International Genealogy
Tuesday, June 15, 2010 8:12:13 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Award-Winning Article Helps Jewish Roots Researchers
Posted by Diane

Congratulations to Tracing the Tribe blogger and Jewish genealogy expert Schelly Talalay Dardashti, who received a National Genealogical Society (NGS) Award of Excellence for her September 2009 Family Tree Magazine article "Ties That Bind."

The article provides guidance on researching your Jewish roots. Dardashti was honored in the Genealogical Methods and Sources category.

“The award is presented to an individual or nonprofit organization for a specific, significant single contribution ... that discusses genealogical methods and sources and serves to foster scholarship and/or otherwise advances or promotes excellence in genealogy,” according to the NGS announcement.

Need help researching Jewish ancestors? Dardashti’s award-winning "Ties That Bind" article is available in several forms:

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Industry | Jewish roots
Tuesday, May 11, 2010 1:18:47 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Turner Publishing Takes Over's Book Business
Posted by Diane

Independent publisher Turner Publishing will take over's book publishing business, according to an agreement announced today.
Under the terms of the agreement, Turner will assume control of most existing inventory and related publishing contracts for Ancestry Publishing, a division of

Turner, which has a genealogy book line, will be the vendor for more than 100 Ancestry titles, including The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, and 1-2-3 Family Tree.

Turner will support the newly acquired titles with additional marketing and distribution efforts. The agreement also grants Turner limited use of the name for publishing purposes. appears to be focusing on its digital business. Earlier this year, the company announced it would cease publication of 25-year-old Ancestry magazine with the March/April 2010 issue. | Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 11:41:42 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, March 01, 2010
Roots Television Site to Close
Posted by Diane

Roots Television, a website launched in 2006 with genealogy videos, will close March 10—unless an interested party acts quickly to adopt the site.

An e-mail to Roots Television mailing list subscribers from Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, who launched the site along with media producer Marcy Brown in September 2006, said other outlets are now helping to fill the “genealogy channel” void.

“Genealogy is finally going mainstream. Some of you are probably already watching 'Faces of America' on PBS and 'The Generations Project' on BYU,” Smolenyak writes. “And many, I'm sure, have heard of the imminent launch on NBC of 'Who Do You Think You Are?' (a series I'm proud to be affiliated with, and for which, I wrote the companion book). The non-genealogical world is finally waking up to the long overlooked potential of what we roots-sleuths do on a daily basis.”

The message linked to an online article about genealogy popping up in mainstream media such as "The Simpsons," "Faces of America" and “Who Do You Think You Are?”

“I hope that you have enjoyed the hundreds of high quality videos that has produced or selected. From the viewing numbers and kind comments, I know that many of you have. It's been a privilege to give the genealogical community this resource, but this seems the appropriate time to move on,” Smolenyak writes.

The message ended with a note that anyone interested in acquiring the site should contact Smolenyak immediately. will feature some of the most popular videos in the coming days. A few of my favorites: “Heir Jordan," the Unclaimed Persons videos and the Down Under series.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, March 01, 2010 8:12:53 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, February 05, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: February 1-5
Posted by Diane

  • I hope you didn't travel to Washington, DC, for genealogy research this weekend. Because of a snowstorm predicted to deliver up to 24 inches of snow to the area, the National Archives research rooms in DC and College Park, MD, closed at noon today, Friday, Feb. 5, and remain closed on tomorrow. The Library of Congress closed at 1 pm today and will stay closed Saturday.
  • British subscription and pay-per-view genealogy site FamilyRelatives added 5 million new parish records with information on baptisms, marriages and burials in counties in England and Wales, dating from the early 1500s to almost 1900.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Friday, February 05, 2010 2:05:53 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, January 26, 2010
A Look at NBC's New Genealogy Show
Posted by Diane

The trailer for NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" a celebrity genealogy series premiering March 5, is now available. What do you think?

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy Industry | Videos
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 1:00:42 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [27]
# Friday, January 15, 2010
Can Genealogy Save NBC?
Posted by Diane

The genealogy-reality series we’ve all been waiting for, "Who Do You Think You Are?" (WDYTYA), will help plug the gaps in NBC’s prime-time lineup after the poorly performing "Jay Leno Show" ends Feb. 12.

The new series premieres Friday, March 5, from 8 to 9 p.m. ET (the Winter Olympics airs Feb. 12 to 29).

According to NBC's announcement, WDYTYA will conclude by April 30, when "Friday Night Lights" returns early to take the spot.

WDYTYA is an adaption of the hit British show of the same name. NBC’s version will feature actors Matthew Broderick, Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Susan Sarandon and Brooke Shields, producer Spike Lee, and football legend Emmitt Smith.

I got a chance to see a trailer last week while visiting—which has a big stake as a partner in the series—and it looks like it could be good: poignant, suspenseful, historical, and filled with lovely scenery from the US and abroad.

There’s also celebrity appeal (though it’d be nice and perhaps even more powerful and surprising to see how average Joes off the street have great stories in their pasts).

Many professional genealogists had a hand in the series. At last Saturday's dinner, speaker and New England Historic and Genealogical Society researcher Josh Taylor recounted portions of his on-screen conversation with Sarah Jessica Parker (she later named her new twin girls after ancestors). chief genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak has written a how-to book based in part on her WDYTYA work. A companion website will reveal more behind-the-scenes genealogical research.

Will the show be a success? For NBC to consider more episodes, it’ll have to attract viewers who aren’t already into family history and history in general. Many genealogists are hoping that’ll translate into a tree-tracing mania similar to the one after the “Roots” miniseries aired in 1977.

Some, I think, also look forward to the popular validation that genealogy is a perfectly acceptable and interesting way to pass time.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | | Celebrity Roots | Genealogy Industry
Friday, January 15, 2010 10:50:24 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, November 30, 2009
Cyber Monday Genealogy Deals
Posted by Diane

For your genealogy shopping enjoyment, we wanted to share Cyber Monday deals we’ve heard about. These expire Monday, Nov. 30, at midnight, so get a move on. Click comments to add deals you've heard about.
Of course, we'd be remiss not to mention our own Black Friday/Cyber Monday specials. We're offering free shipping on any order size, plus we've marked down many products at Use code FAMILYFS09 to get the free shipping.

Family Tree Magazine subscriptions are deeply discounted there, too, at 42 percent off newsstand price. For an even better discount, check out our VIP program: $49.99 for a year of the print magazine, a one-year membership to Family Tree Magazine Plus online articles, and an exclusive Family Tree Toolkit. All in all, a $61 savings. Details at

Genealogy Industry
Monday, November 30, 2009 8:53:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, August 24, 2009
New Subscription Site: Genealogy Archives
Posted by Diane

A few weeks ago in our E-mail Update newsletter, I mentioned a subscription Web site called Genealogy Archives.

I was skeptical because most of its collections seemed to be free elsewhere online, you couldn’t get even basic search results without a subscription, and there was no information about the site’s owners.

Genealogy Archives spokesperson Julie Hill took notice and contacted me. I had a chance to talk with her and senior product manager Joe Godfrey, and to try out the site.

Turns out GenealogyArchives, which launched this summer, is affiliated with PeopleSearchPro (not the same as PeopleSearch).

Though the subscription genealogy space is crowded, Godfrey believes his approach is unique: Offer family historians a low-priced option with basic content that’s useful to most people, plus links to add-on, fee-based services (such as the option to order a record through VitalChek).

There's also a forum and Expert Advice section with how-to articles, and you can add your family tree or upload a GEDCOM.

Though it's still relatively small, Genealogy Archives added 200 million new records last week, including the 1860 and 1930 census indexes from Footnote, newspaper obituaries (you get a link to the obituary online and/or a transcription of it), and vital records from California and Colorado. It also looks like there’s more customer support information, including FAQs.

Hill points to the site’s living-people sources as unique content not available with other genealogy sites.

On the home page, the Trace Your Family Tree As Far Back As Possible section is a living-people search. You type in your name and age, and if the site finds the right listing for you, you get a tantalizing “We found your family tree” message and a prompt to join the site for $39.95 annually. (The records found may or may not be relatives.)

The Search for an Ancestor section lets you search the site’s historical records and indexes. It’s not as sophisticated a search as you find on competing sites—a first and last name are required; you also can pick a state and add the birth and death year and record type. (The site searches as though you entered an initial for the first name.)

Results give you the number of matches found, but nothing about them, before you’re prompted to subscribe—so it's hard to decide whether or not to bust out the credit card.

Genealogy Archives subscribers can search within a database, which usually adds a few more search fields. Some of the categories are census records, immigration and passenger lists (from NARA’s free Access to Archival Databases listings), newspapers, “Find Famous Relatives” (finds notable folks with your last name—not necessarily relatives) and cemetery listings (actually, obituaries and the Social Security Death Index, or SSDI). 

I liked how SSDI results link you to a list of cemeteries near each person's place of death, which in turn link to the cemetery’s results in Find-A-Grave or from a Google search, and any USGenWeb entries for the cemetery (no guarantee, of course, that you’ll find information from your ancestor’s head stone).

Godfrey says plans call for beefing up the site with higher-quality family tree software. He hopes a redesign will make the site more engaging and make it easier for you to tell what records it has.

To me, that seems crucial for getting subscribers.

Godfrey adds that he’s having “a lot of conversations with a lot of other folks” (i.e., potential partners) about more content. Also, the Genealogy Archives blog promises “members will be blown away by the dramatic upgrades coming soon.”

You can sign up for a free seven-day trial of Genealogy Archives, though you do need to enter your credit card number.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, August 24, 2009 11:20:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, August 06, 2009
Merger Creates Britain’s Leading Genealogy Company
Posted by Diane

UK-based Brightsolid, owner of British subscription and pay-per-view genealogy site, is acquiring the Friends Reunited Group for 25 million pounds (about $42 million).

The completion of the deal is still subject to clearance by British competition authorities. Besides and its microsites and, Brightsolid also operates

Friends Reunited is a 20.6 million-member British social network launched in 2000. Its sister site Genes Reunited, the UK’s largest genealogy site with 9 million members and 650 million names in records, was launched in 2003. The group also has a Friends Reunited Dating site.

See Brightsolid's announcement about the acquisition here.

Genealogy Industry | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, August 06, 2009 8:53:12 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, August 04, 2009 Plans to Go Public
Posted by Diane filed with the SEC yesterday for a $75 million IPO, indicating its decision to go from a firm funded by private equity investors to a publicly traded company.

Its ticker symbol will be ACOM.

“Our revenues have increased from $122.6 million in 2004 to $197.6 million in 2008,” reads's SEC filing. The Provo, Utah,-based company  reports just under 1 million subscribers, about 45 percent of whom have been subscribing continuously for more than two years as of June 30.

The filing gives more stats, an overview of the business, its growth strategies (more content, more features that let members collaborate, more international growth) and associated risks (dependence on subscriptions, a tight focus on family history, and competitors, “some of which provide access to records free of charge”). You can read it here.

This article nicely sums up information from the filing. | Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, August 04, 2009 2:20:31 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, July 06, 2009
The Generations Network Becomes
Posted by Diane

Online genealogy business The Generations Network has changed its name to

The new moniker acknowledges subscription genealogy Web site as the company’s most prominent brand, says CEO Tim Sullivan. "Our company has a long and fascinating history, and we've been through several name changes over the years. But we started with, and it now feels completely natural to let our company once again share the brand with our flagship product."

Here’s a timeline of’s name changes:
1983: Ancestry
2006: The Generations Network

Gotta say that we like the shorter, print-friendlier name—no more bulky references to announcements from “Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of …” in the magazine.

Other properties include Family Tree Maker,,, Rootsweb, MyCanvas and several international genealogy sites. | Genealogy Industry
Monday, July 06, 2009 8:06:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, May 22, 2009
Genealogy News Corral May 18-22
Posted by Diane

Here are some quick genealogy news updates for the week. We hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and get an opportunity to reflect on your ancestors’ sacrifice for their country.
  • British subscription and pay-per-view site added more than 200,000 Canadian civil service records from 1872 to 1918. The records reveal the civil servant's name, position, department, length of service, salary and date of appointment. The earliest ones also provide civil servants' national origins and religion.
  • FamilySearch has added a total of 3.5 million-plus new records to 13 collections on the free FamilySearch Record Search pilot. The additions come from Brazil, the Czech Republic and Italy; and the US states of Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina.
  • The State Library of North Carolina and the North Carolina State Archives have posted a free collection of North Carolina family records including nearly 220 family Bible records and the six-volume Marriage and Death Notices from Raleigh Register and North Carolina State Gazette: 1799-1893.

Canadian roots | Free Databases | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Friday, May 22, 2009 4:38:34 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Blog Reports From the NGS Conference
Posted by Diane

In case you missed one of our posts from last week's National Genealogical Society conference in Raleigh, NC, here's a list. I've added reports from other bloggers, too:
Several folks were Tweeting, too. Read many of the 140-or-fewer-characters-at-a-time updates here.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, May 20, 2009 3:52:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, April 20, 2009
Can Genealogy Web Sites Make it Easier to Cite Sources?
Posted by Diane

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find information about your ancestor on a database site such as, FamilySearch or Footnote, and just click to add the ancestor information and a properly formatted source citation to your genealogy software?

Mark Tucker, the software architect who blogs at Think Genealogy, says the technology exists to make this happen. He created a video to prove it.

It sure looks simple: On a sample Web site he'd set up, Tucker clicks a "quick citation" link next to digitized pages from a family history book. Then, switching back to his RootsMagic 4 software, he shows how the source citation and information about his ancestor has been automatically exported to the software. (Tucker says this also could work in Family Tree Maker 2009 and Legacy Family Tree 7.)

At the end of the video, he encourages you to contact database companies you use to encourage them to adopt this easy method of source citation. You also can take a survey about your source citation needs.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Videos
Monday, April 20, 2009 8:34:15 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Monday, April 06, 2009
We're Honored!
Posted by Diane

We’re excited to be on ProGenealogists’ list of the 25 most popular all-around genealogy blogs, based on Technorati ratings, overall content and industry experience of the bloggers.

(As a former high school student, I know “popular” doesn't always correlate with “helpful”—but I hope in this case it means lots of researchers are finding good advice on the Genealogy Insider blog.)

Subscribe to all the blogs on the list to stay updated on genealogy news and resources. Thanks to ProGenealogists—a professional research firm with experts in a range of areas—for including us! We got this special badge to wear, too.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, April 06, 2009 8:44:20 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, March 20, 2009
Genealogy News Corral, March 16-20
Posted by Diane

Roundin’ up the week’s genealogy news bits. Yee-haw!
Click here to see Family Tree Magazine's Twitter page and follow us (you need a free registration with Twitter to follow someone).

Or click here to learn more about Twitter.
  • Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter got a makeover (or maybe a makeunder, to those keen on the new subtle colors). Go on over and have a look.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Friday, March 20, 2009 2:34:01 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, March 13, 2009
Genealogy News Corral
Posted by Diane

It’s Friday and time to round up the week’s genealogy news bits.
  • From Research Buzz’s Tweet yesterday, the National Library of Scotland has two new resources. One is a digital archive of images including WWI photos, Walter Macfarlane’s collection of genealogies of ancient Scottish families (compiled around 1750), and items from the first printing presses in various Scottish towns.
The library's new digital maps collection gives you access to high-resolution images of more than 6,000 county, town and military maps dating from 1560 to 1935. also added more city directories covering 1935 to 1945, which you can use as a kind of 1940 census substitute. (Don’t be alarmed—the 1940 census isn’t missing. It’s just not yet available, and won’t be until 2012, when we’ll all have a big party outside the National Archives.)
  • Dick Eastman and others have blogged and Tweeted about the New York Times' Immigration Explorer Map. Choose a foreign-born group and a year, and see  where in the United States people from that group were congregating at the time.  It's fun to play with, and if your ancestors have gone missing  for a span of time, you might get some clues for where to look. | Genealogy Industry | immigration records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, March 13, 2009 2:42:03 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 25, 2009
FamilyLink Raises $2.85 Million in Capital
Posted by Diane

Look for continued growth from, owner of World Vital Records, FamiliyHistoryLink, the soon-to-come and the We’re Related social networking application (which is not related to the wiki We Relate).

The company has raised $2.85 million in “Series B” funding (the second round of preferred stock in a private company offered to venture capitalists). The initial round of funding in August 2007 brought in $1.25 million.'s announcement also notes the company turned profitable late last year. Thirty people work at its US offices in Seattle; Boulder, CO; and Provo, Utah. It has development offices in India and the Philippines.

Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 11:50:31 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Are Digitization Projects Skipping Your Ancestor?
Posted by Diane

Genea-Musings blogger Randy Seaver brings up a seldom-raised issue: the quality and completeness of records digitization projects between the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and its partners Footnote, FamilySearch and

His post stems from a discussion on a professional genealogists’ mailing list. A list member experienced with NARA records did a spot check: She noted the first 25 names on a NARA microfilm reel of Civil War pension index cards and searched for those names in’s pension index database. She found just one of the names. (I can hear you thinking "I knew it!")

The researcher said the cards that didn’t scan well from the microfilm were left out of the database (’s source information states 1 percent of the cards are “missing;” she puts the percentage higher).

The researcher also questioned the wisdom of scanning colored documents in black and white, pointing to Footnote's Civil War widows' pensions project.

A NARA staff member explained that partner digitization projects use original records or the highest-quality “master” microfilm and are subject to quality controls. Other, non-partner projects may have digitized records from second- or third-generation film, resulting in poorer images.

He also said NARA does make original records available, even after they’re digitized, to "researchers who need to see them."

A respondent from commented that the microfilmed Civil War pension index cards were particularly difficult to scan because some cards were on dark paper, and the technology available at the time was inferior to today's.

See Seaver’s entire post here. He raises good questions at the end.

It’s easy and comforting to assume genealogy databases have every surviving document in a particular record set. This is a reminder that’s not always the case.  

Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, January 06, 2009 12:52:18 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Monday, December 01, 2008
What Your Favorite Genealogist Really Wants From Santa
Posted by Diane

Funny how a weekend that seemed endless when I woke up that first free day passed by so quickly. But it was nice and full: celebrating with friends and family, walking the dog (I was at home during daylight hours!) and finishing 85 percent of my Christmas shopping.

With the onset of holiday shopping season, may we suggest these gifts for the family historian in your life:
  • Membership in a local genealogical society (do a Google search or see Society Hill for contact information)
  • Gift certificate to a Web site such as Snapfish or Shutterfly, where your favorite genealogist can turn old photos into photo books, collages, picture mugs, notecards and more
  • a chauffered trip to a research repository or genealogy workshop, maybe with lunch (your treat)
  • a day at a history museum
What’s on your genealogy wish list this year? Click Comments (below) to tell us (then slip your significant other the link to this post!).

For readers in Family Tree Magazine’s hometown of Cincinnati, our company is holding a warehouse sale that includes how-to books on sewing, writing, woodworking, painting and tons of other hobbies—including, yes, genealogy. Click here for the location and directions.

No matter where you live, you can check out this bargain book selection online at

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Industry
Monday, December 01, 2008 3:08:32 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Thursday, November 20, 2008
FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage Offer Discounted DNA Tests
Posted by Diane

The family networking and genealogy site MyHeritage and genetic genealogy company FamilyTreeDNA just announced a partnership that promises DNA testing discounts for you.

The arrangement continues the trend of merging social networking, genealogy and DNA, on sites such as Genetree, and Familybuilder.

The FamilyTreeDNA-MyHeritage offer includes these discounted DNA tests: 
  • 25-marker Y-DNA: $129 (FamilyTreeDNA doesn’t usually offer a 25-marker test, but its 12-marker test costs $149)
  • mtDNAPlus, which tests mitochondrial DNA and estimates Native American and African ancestry: $129 (this beats FamilyTreeDNA’s regular price of $189)
  • mtDNA and 25-marker Y-DNA: $219 (compare to the regular price of $229 for an mtDNA and 12-marker Y-DNA combo)
The offer page says the specials are for MyHeritage users, though it doesn’t look like you're required to prove you’re a member of MyHeritage.

You can read more about these and other genetic genealogy companies in previous Genealogy Insider blog posts. The DNA toolkit on offers advice on choosing the right test for your research questions.

Genealogy Industry | Genetic Genealogy
Thursday, November 20, 2008 9:45:19 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, November 13, 2008
Genetic Genealogy Companies Under Fire
Posted by Diane

Genetic genealogy testing companies aren't doing enough to make sure you understand the limitations and implications of DNA testing, says the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG).

The organization, whose 8,000 members include geneticists, scholars, genetic counselors, nurses and others, today issued a statement with recommendations for the genetic genealogy industry.

It was prompted by the rising popularity of genetic genealogy. According to the ASHG, a half-million Americans will spend $100 to $1,000 per test this year.

ASHG faults tests designed to determine ethnic ancestry, rather than the Y-DNA tests that estimate whether you’re related to someone. "Rarely can definitive conclusions about ancestry be made beyond the assessment of whether putative close relatives are or are not related," reports the statement.

That's because such tests compare the genetic contribution from a tiny slice of your family tree against a reference database that uses DNA samples from modern-day individuals to represent populations that existed eons ago. A lot of population shifting and combination has happened since then.

No standards exist for statistical analysis and how results are reported to you, says the statement. "Perhaps the most important aspect of reporting confidence in ancestry determinations is to accurately convey the level of uncertainty in the interpretations and to convey the real meaning of that uncertainty."

As genetic ancestry testing expands to cover inherited medical conditions, ASHG is concerned patients may misconstrue the results of these often-inconclusive tests when making medical decisions.

The organization joins a growing chorus. States such as California and New York have come down on genome profiling companies including 23andMe and DNA Traits for providing medical testing without involving individuals’ doctors.

A year ago, the New York Times doubted the accuracy of ethnic DNA tests after its reporter received varied and conflicting test results from five companies. Bert Ely, a geneticist who helped start the African-American DNA Roots Project with high hopes in 2000, shared his findings that most African-Americans have genetic similarities to numerous ethnic groups in Africa—making it impossible to match African-Americans with a single group.

An article in the Oct. 19, 2007, Science magazine cited these problems:
  • Limited information in companies’ reference databases might lead them to draw the wrong conclusions. (Today’s ASHG statement said these databases “reflect a woefully incomplete sampling of human genetic diversity.”)
  • Some companies’ databases are proprietary, making it hard to verify customers’ test results.
  • Tests trace a small percentage of a person’s ancestors and can’t pinpoint where they lived, or the specific ethnic group they might’ve belonged to.
The ASGH ancestry testing recommendations include the following:
  • The genetic genealogy industry should make a greater effort to clarify the limitations of ancestry testing. Consumers must understand more about ancestry testing.
  • Additional research is needed to further understand the extent to which the accuracy of test results is affected by the makeup of existing human DNA databases, geographical patterns of human diversity, chromosomal marker selection and statistical methods. 
  • Guidelines should be developed to facilitate explanation and counseling for ancestry testing.
  • Scientists analyzing genetic ancestry test results should take into account the historical, sociopolitical and cultural contexts under which human genetics evolved.
  • Mechanisms for greater accountability of the ancestry testing industry should be explored.
Part of the problem may lie in the complex science involved. The explanations are difficult for laypeople to understand (I'm a layperson, and I'll admit it); but in simplifying them for marketing materials and test reports, DNA companies may downplay the tests' limitations.

Do you have a handle on what genetic genealogy testing is all about? Click Comments and tell us about your DNA testing experiences. For information on how DNA can (and can't) aid your genealogy research, see our DNA toolkit.

Genealogy Industry | Genetic Genealogy
Thursday, November 13, 2008 9:36:49 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Update Your Christmas Card List
Posted by Diane

Two recent genealogy industry name changes to note:
World Vital Records created, then chose as its new corporate name (World Vital Records stuck around as the name of the company's database service). The name change lets become a full-on corporate Web site while remains a networking site.

Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, September 23, 2008 10:53:39 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, September 22, 2008
MyHeritage: Facebook for Families?
Posted by Diane

MyHeritage, the Israel-based genealogy site that made a splash a couple years back with its celebrity look-alike photo search, has made another step toward its goal to be “the Facebook for families.”

(This right after Footnote launched its “Facebook for the deceased.” Facebook has to be feeling really good about itself right now.)

MyHeritage just acquired Kindo, a London based, internationally focused online family networking service that’s reminiscent of Geni. Part of the deal has MyHeritage setting up operations in London.

Also boosting MyHeritage’s social networking aspirations is a recent $15 million venture capital investment (including funds from a former Facebook investor).

One more update: The site's new photo tagging technology uses the facial recognition feature that powered the celebrity look-alike search to let users automatically tag the people in their photos (similar to what Google is doing with its Picasa software).

Genealogy Industry
Monday, September 22, 2008 5:02:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 18, 2008
A Tale of Two Indexing Projects: Comparing FamilySearch Indexing and the World Archives Project
Posted by Diane

With two biggest organizations in genealogy seeking volunteers and historical records for their indexing programs, comparisons and questions about competition are inevitable.

Nonprofit FamilySearch began rolling out FamilySearch Indexing in 2006. Volunteers around the world use an online application to view and index digitized records.

Subscription data service launched a similar program, the World Archives Project, this year. A recently announced partnership with the Federation of Genealogical Societies has societies providing volunteer indexers.

FamilySearch released a statement last week about the two programs. Though it started by welcoming all efforts “that provide more economical access to more genealogical and historically significant records,” subsequent claims that FamilySearch produces “More quality indexes, faster” and offers “Greater free public access to images” (among other assertions) struck a defensive note.

Read the whole statement on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

A little competition would make sense: If FamilySearch makes genealogical records free, wouldn’t lose customers? Will FamilySearch lose indexing volunteers to the World Archives Project?

No, both organizations insist. When I questioned FamilySearch, spokesperson Paul Nauta replied “FamilySearch believes the introduction of records access initiatives will only serve to improve progress toward making the world’s genealogical and historical records more available economically—an underlying goal of FamilySearch Indexing.”

World Archives Project manager Christopher Tracy also downplayed any competition and emphasized the shared goal of increasing records access. “There’s plenty of work. Billions and billions of records out there haven’t been indexed,” he says.

“They have a great community and they’re bringing more and more people into the [genealogy] space,” he adds of FamilySearch. reiterated his points in its own written statement.

The organizations collaborate on indexing the US census, and they’re avoiding indexing the same records. “Each company has strategic relations representatives that speak or meet regularly to help accomplish these goals,” Nauta says.

So, now that the air is clear, how do the two programs compare? We’ll break it down:

Records access for the public
  • FamilySearch Indexing: All record indexes and many record images will be free to anyone through the FamilySearch Web site. If FamilySearch isn't able to secure permission to put certain images on FamilySearch's public site, you can access them at a local Family History Center.
  • World Archives Project: All record indexes will be searchable free on Images of those records will be available to’s paid subscribers, and they'll be free at public libraries that offer their patrons Ancestry Library Edition.

Benefits to volunteers (aside from the warm fuzzies of helping genealogists)
  • FamilySearch Indexing: Qualified volunteers (those who’ve keyed 900 names within a 90-day period) will receive free access to all record images, even those not on FamilySearch's public site.
  • World Archives Project: Active indexers (who've keyed at least 900 records a quarter) will get free access to all record images, and can vote on which records the project should index. Active indexers who subscribe to will receive a 10 to 15 percent discount on renewals.

Benefits to partnering organizations
  • FamilySearch Indexing: Organizations that provide records for digitizing and indexing receive free copies of the record images and indexes.
  • Genealogical societies that index a record set receive a copy of the images and indexes, as well as free advertising from (I'm not sure what form the advertising will take).

Other comparisons
Both programs have each record indexed twice, with an arbitrator to resolve differences. Having been around longer, FamilySearch Indexing has more record sets you can choose to index. Its indexing utility is Mac-compatible;’s is PC-only.

The two programs’ indexing utilities work differently, and you might try both and decide you prefer one over the other. We’d love to hear about your experiences using the utilities—click Comments to post. | FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, September 18, 2008 9:07:03 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Friday, August 29, 2008
Family Tree Maker 2009 Released
Posted by Diane

The Generations Network just announced the release of Family Tree Maker 2009. It’s largely version 2008 with all its patches plus improved functionality, but it does have some new features.

Those include charts and reports, such as hourglass, bowtie (shown below), 180-degree fan and others (in case you’re wondering, there’s no need to be signed up with Ancestry Publishing to generate these reports).

Automatic backups and more-powerful global data manipulation are other updates. See the full list of new features.

Several patches are planned for Family Tree Maker 2009 that'll add book-building, better integration with the subscription data service, an improved relationship calculator and more.

Senior product manager Michelle Pfister says planning these patches will let TGN stick to a regular schedule of new releases (which retail distributors require) while putting final touches on what's covered in the patches. It also lets Family Tree Maker fans look forward to more features throughout the year.

Are there Family Tree Maker fans left after the problems many users had with version 2008? Yes, say Pfister and the software's development manager Mark LeMonnier. More than 300 users beta tested version 2009—an increase over version 2008 testers—and you can expect better functionality as a result, says LeMonnier. “Performance and stability have been our main focus,” he adds.

The 2009 version will read Family Tree Maker files back to version 4 (which takes you to the mid-1990s). To learn more about it, see

If you purchased Family Tree Maker 2008, don’t buy version 2009—registered 2008 users are eligible to upgrade for free. If that’s you, during early to mid-September, you’ll receive an e-mail with instructions and a coupon code good for 2009 in the Ancestry store.

The offer will be available for a limited time, but Pfister says there'll be follow-up e-mails, so if you just ordered 2008, you still have time to register the software and be eligible for the free upgrade.

Get more information on the free upgrade offer on’s blog. (By the way, note Family Tree Magazine is not affiliated with Family Tree Maker software.)

Here are a couple more Family Tree Maker 2009 views:

The people and family view

A family tree report you can generate | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software
Friday, August 29, 2008 9:57:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Olympian Phelps Joins Ellis Island Fundraising Campaign
Posted by Diane

Olympic swimming phenom Michael Phelps is the newest member of the We Are Ellis Island campaign, which is raising funds to restore the South Side of Ellis Island.

On the campaign Web site, you can watch a promotional video featuring Phelps (hard to recognize with facial scruff and a few inches of hair) and others.

Phelps’ ancestors immigrated through Ellis Island. A campaign spokesperson told me she doesn't yet have full details on their names and immigration dates, since Phelps signed on and shot the video just before leaving for Beijing.

Ellis Island's well-known immigration museum opened in 1990 on its North Side. The largely abandoned South Side was home to a state-of-the-art hospital where sick immigrants were treated—and sometimes ordered to return home.

Look for the November 2008 Family Tree Magazine article on Forgotten Ellis Island, a documentary and book about the hospital, and the patients and staff who spent part of their lives there.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Industry | Historic preservation
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 5:28:19 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, August 20, 2008
This Week's Genealogy News Roundup
Posted by Diane

Here's a smattering of genealogy biz news from this week:

Footnote raises prices: Citing its greatly increased offerings, Web site improvements and the challenging economy, historical records site Footnote has announced it’s raising subscription prices to $11.95 for one month and $69.96 for a year (up from $7.95 and $59.95, respectively). The changes don’t take effect until Sept. 1, so if you’ve been meaning to join, now’s the time. World Archive Project hits milestone:’s volunteer indexing initiative, the World Archives Project (now in beta) has 650 active keyers who’ve already indexed more than 100,000 records—17,500 of those by one lightning-fast typist. The Wisconsin mortality records project is on track for completion in September.

World Archives’ project Indexers will receive free access to the indexes they’re creating; record images will be part of’s subscription databases. See our blog post for more on the project.

FamilySearch Indexing keeps chugging along: FamilySearch added 2 million-plus new images or indexed records this week to its free pilot Record Search databases.

Among them are Ohio WWII draft registration card images, marriage indexes for 14 more West Virginia Counties, and an index to the Coahulia, Mexico, 1930 census.

FindMyPast adds 3.2 million parish marriages: The UK family history database FindMyPast has enhanced its Parish Records Collection with 3.2 million marriage records dating back to 1538. Burial records already are in the collection; baptism records are still to come.

The parish records are available with an Explorer subscription, which costs 54.95 pounds ($109) for 6 months or 89.95 pounds ($178) for a year. Learn more about this collection in this Genealogy Insider post.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, August 20, 2008 9:19:44 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, June 20, 2008
Family Tree Who?
Posted by Diane

How did anyone find out stuff before the Ancestry Insider? The anonymous blogger posted yesterday that The Generations Network (TGN) is suing Millennia Software and Utah design firm BTH2 over similarities between the packaging of TGN’s Family Tree Maker 2008 and Millennia’s Legacy Family Tree 7.0. BTH2 designed both packages.

See a side-by-side comparison and more details from the complaint filed with the US District Court in Utah on the Ancestry Insider blog. (And don't miss the Genealogue's version.)

I’ve gotta say, in an industry where everything is called family tree something-or-other, it’s hard to differentiate yourself.

At last month’s National Genealogical Society conference, I can’t tell you how many people came to Family Tree Magazine’s booth (that's us) asking questions about “our” Family Tree Maker software. We also sent some folks over to Family Tree DNA.

That’s life when product names that say “genealogy” are rare (family tree, family history, ancestry, roots, progeny, gene—all taken). We just hope if you don’t remember which “family tree” we are, you’ll recall that really cool genealogy magazine or Web site you saw once, and recognize it when you find it.

Genealogy Industry
Friday, June 20, 2008 10:32:30 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, June 18, 2008 Starts Volunteer Indexing Project
Posted by Diane

The subscription service is launching a volunteer indexing project that looks to compete with FamilySearch’s records indexing project.

The Ancestry 24/7 Family Circle Blog announced in March that was planning a volunteer indexing initiative. The anonymous Ancestry Insider blogger  recently reported that the just-launched-in-beta World Archives Project will recruit volunteers to index’s digitized records using an online tool. Then will publish the index free. The record images will be part of’s subscription services.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ FamilySearch was first to start a large-scale project for volunteers to index records using an online tool. FamilySearch Indexing is producing both indexes and record images that will be available free (you can access some now at FamilySearch Labs).

Other FamilySearch indexing initiatives will make indexes free online, with record images available free at FamilySearch research centers, or for a fee from record repositories or third-party database sites.

I’m curious how you all feel about—a for-profit business—using volunteer labor. Does the free index make the idea palatable? What about the possibility that actual genealogists will create a better-quality index than currently offers?

Click here to sign up for's e-mail notifications about the World Archives Project. | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 4:14:48 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [12]
# Thursday, June 12, 2008
Would You Read a Digital Magazine?
Posted by Diane

Right on the heels of Dick Eastman’s blog post about the disappearance of print newsletters and magazines, Everton’s Genealogical Helper announced the debut of its digital edition.

Everton’s is still doing its print edition, too. Ancestry (published by’s owner, The Generations Network) also publishes both on paper and digitally, as does Internet Genealogy. Digital Genealogist is available only online.

I was proud to see Dick’s description of Family Tree Magazine as a “combined online and offline magazine." That’s what we’re going for: We’ve found readers are accustomed to getting information in a variety of ways, so we’re responding with extra online content, our weekly E-mail Update newsletter, back issues and special editions on CD, digital downloads of our State Research Guides, our blogs and online Forum, online videos and our recently launched podcast.

The entire publishing industry is caught up in the “digital vs. print” discussion, with some swearing it's just a matter of time before all print publications go away, and others insisting people always will want to curl up with a paper magazine or book.

Many who commented on Dick’s post said they’d rather read paper. What about you all—would you read a digital version of your favorite genealogy magazine?

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, June 12, 2008 3:59:10 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Monday, June 09, 2008
Borders Concept Stores Feature
Posted by Diane

One feature of Border’s fancy new “concept” stores—now open in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Las Vegas; Noblesville, Ind.; Panama City Beach, Fla.; and National City, Calif.—is a Borders Genealogy Services kiosk where customers can search

A kiosk (shown) is part of each concept store’s digital center, which has staff to help customers download books and music, self-publish their writing—and research their family history.

The free access is a big draw, which is why Borders is offering it, says spokesperson Kolleen O’Meara. “It allows our customers to also experiment and try new things with experts available to help them. This is a great introduction to genealogy research showing customers how easy it can be.” She adds that digital center staff will be trained in searching

Of course, and Borders are hoping visitors also will buy the “Subscription in a Box,” a one-month membership to, Family Tree Maker software and/or an “Our Name in History" book

Lucky us… one of these new Borders will open close to Family Tree Magazine headquarters by late November.

Genealogy Industry
Monday, June 09, 2008 2:12:16 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Breaking News From the National Genealogical Society Conference
Posted by Diane

The National Genealogical Society Conference just got underway here in Kansas City, Mo., and already the announcements are flowing:

  • FamilySearch and subscription records site Footnote announced they’ve reached an agreement for FamilySearch to provide free access to the Civil War Pensions index and the 1860 US census. You’ll be able to search indexes for both collections on FamilySearch as the project is completed, users will be able to search. Footnote subscribers can view the record images on Footnote ($59.95 per year) ; anyone can access them free at the 4,500 worldwide FamilySearch Family History Centers (FHCs).
  • FamilyLink (which brings you the World Vital Records subscription databases) is helping FamilySearch improve the usability of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Family History Library Catalog by adding Web 2.0 functionality and enhancements.

The catalog is a listing of the genealogical resources in the Family History Library, including millions of microfilms, microfichfiche and books from more than 110 countries. You can borrow film and fiche (books don’t circulate) by visiting an FHC.


Improvements include making the catalog searchable by major online search engines (such as Google) and letting users to annotate descriptions in the catalog. You'll be able to conduct a “guided search” with tools that will help you decide what you want to learn about your family, point you to relevant records, and help you get and use them.


You’ll also be able to browse the catalog, sort search results and perform multiple searches at once. A nifty tool will search your online family tree to determine which lines have the highest likelihood of success based on known sources (and maybe there’ll be a “pep talk” tool for those other lines).

  •  The Generations Network (that’s’s parent company) CEO Tim Sullivan has written a “letter to the public,” basically a review of newdatabases and services (such as DNA testing and Ancestry Press). He also offered news about upcoming features such as a historical newspaper collection doubled in size, more than 6,000 school yearbooks and new US city directories containing 50 million names. 

Ancestry Hints will send you automatic notifications when finds matches between people in your tree and its record databases. More user-friendly member profile pages also are in the works. You can read the whole thing on the Web site


International sites on the way include China (with Chinese family histories from the Shanghai library) and a Spanish-language sites.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, May 14, 2008 1:53:53 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Catholic Churches Told To Keep Records From FamilySearch Digitizers
Posted by Diane

You may already have heard the Catholic News Service reports that the Vatican has directed Catholic dioceses throughout the world not to allow FamilySearch to digitize or index parish registers.

Father James Massa, executive director of the US bishops' Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, told the Catholic News Service that the directive, issued in an April 5 letter from the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, aims to prevent Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) members, or Mormons, from using the records to baptize the dead.

The LDS Church operates the FamilySearch genealogy Web site.

The letter reads in part, "The congregation requests that the conference notifies each diocesan bishop in order to ensure that such a detrimental practice is not permitted in his territory, due to the confidentiality of the faithful and so as not to cooperate with the erroneous practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Posthumous baptism by proxy is central to the LDS faith: Mormons can offer baptism to their ancestors so families can be united in the afterlife. That’s why the LDS Church digitizes and microfilms records. Generally, FamilySearch negotiates contracts with churches to film their records.

The LDS Church makes the records available to members of all religions for use in genealogical research. And microfilmed Catholic Church registers are the major resource for finding ancestors in Europe before civil (government) registration began, usually during the 1800s.

Jewish groups also have criticized posthumous baptism, especially for Holocaust victims. The LDS Church agreed in 1995 to stop the practice of baptizing Holocaust victims, but some say it continues.

What do you think of the Vatican's directive? Click Comments to post here, or post to our Hot Topics Forum.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, May 07, 2008 12:10:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [27]
# Friday, May 02, 2008
FamilySearch and British Partners to Digitize UK Records
Posted by Diane

A partnership among FamilySearch, British family history subscription/pay-per-view database site FindMyPast, and The National Archives of Britain will give genealogists access to millions of names of British soldiers and seamen from the 18th to the 20th century. The records include:
The records may include each ex-serviceman's name, age, birthplace and service history, physical appearance, conduct sheet, previous occupation, and in some cases, the reason for discharge. After 1883, details of marriages and children may also appear.
  • Merchant Seamen records from 1835 to 1844 and 1918 to 1941, which will provide the name and the date and place of birth. Many 20th-century records include photographs of the sailors and details of their voyages. Nearly a third of UK families have ancestors who were merchant seaman, according to FamilySearch's announcement.
For this three-year project, FamilySearch staffers will digitize the records at the UK National Archives, and FindMyPast will create indexes and transcriptions. When they're through, the indexes and images will be searchable at FindMyPast and FamilySearch.

I can hear you wondering, “Will they be free?” FamilySearch’s announcement didn’t say one way or the other, but in previously announced partnerships, records are to be free on FamilySearch and partner organizations have the option to provide fee-based access.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Friday, May 02, 2008 5:07:14 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Family Tree Firsts—Part Five
Posted by Grace

This weekend I reached another milestone: attending my first genealogy conference, hosted by the Ohio Genealogical Society.

It was seriously awesome to meet so many Family Tree Magazine readers (especially the one who said her favorite part of the mag is "Preserving Memories").

Although I spent most of the weekend helping out at our exhibitor table (see below), I also got to attend a few of the sessions. I sat in on "Pig Blood in the Snow: Court Records Can Solve Problems" mostly because of the name—but also because our upcoming September issue includes an article on court records. I also really enjoyed Jeffrey Alan Bockman's "Using Maps in Genealogical Research." I now know better than to believe Grandma's story about having to walk 4 miles to school each way.

Kenny Burck, first vice president of OGS and German research aficionado, was certainly the most decorated genealogist I met last weekend.

All his various badges, medals and pins denote memberships and lineages. (This would be a great picture to try out photo tagging on!) Can anyone top Kenny?

Later, I struck up a conversation with Hans-Friedrich Coordes, who was at the conference representing the KfTN, which tracks down relatives and ancestors in Europe. (I'm a fluent German speaker and like to practice every chance I get!) He was in Cincinnati only for the weekend, but he made an incredible genealogical discovery in the little time he had.

Another exhibitor told him she had ancestors with his surname—from the same town in Ostfriesland Hans-Friedrich is from, even. After comparing some names, they determined they were not-so-distant cousins. He was blown away.

Have any of you made great connections at a conference?

Earlier in Family Tree Firsts:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

Family Tree Firsts | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, April 22, 2008 5:24:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, April 03, 2008
We're Honored
Posted by Allison

When it comes to recognizing useful genealogical tools and services, we're used to doling out the honors—from our annual 101 Best Web Sites roundup to our "Libbys" libraries awards, coming in the July issue—rather than receiving them. But this week, we've gotten news that two awards have been bestowed upon Family Tree Magazine:
  • In a study of online traffic rankings, Utah-based professional research firm ProGenealogists found to be one of the 50 most popular genealogical Web sites for 2008. Not surprisingly, heavy-hitting data providers and RootsWeb (both owned by The Generations Network) topped the list. Some of the other rankings might surprise you—see the full list.
  • customers selected this blog as the Best Genealogy Reference Tool and Family Tree Magazine as the Most Popular Genealogy Publication in the 2008 Artistry of Genealogy Awards. You can read about all the winners at’s online Photo Preservation Center.
It’s nice to know that genealogists find our tools, tips and information so useful. We’d love to hear your feedback, too (both compliments and critiques): Tell us how you think we can make our magazine, blogs and Web site even better by posting a comment.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, April 03, 2008 10:51:14 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, March 20, 2008
Many USGenWeb Sites Leave RootsWeb
Posted by Diane Genealogy blogger Kimberley Powell reports many USGenWeb project administrators are moving their sites off RootsWeb—a change she says has long been coming, but was hastened by The Generations Network’s (TGN) decision to transfer RootsWeb to’s domain (read more about that move in last week's blog post).

See which USGenWeb state and project sites are moving on Powell's blog. It looks like the relocated sites are adding redirects, and national and state administrators are keeping up with link updates.

A little background: USGenWeb is a network of free genealogy Web sites, one for each state and county. Each state and county site has a volunteer administrator who maintains it and adds information and links, which is why the sites look different. USGenWeb also hosts special projects on the national and state levels, such as the Family Group Sheet Project to post and link to online pedigree charts. National USGenWeb administrators link to the everything from the USGenWeb home page.

The national USGenWeb site and many of the local sites have long been hosted on RootsWeb, which TGN purchased in 2000 and has financially supported—and kept free—since then.

Powell says some USGenWeb administrators have been unhappy with slow RootsWeb servers and the lack of ability to add some of the bells and whistles today’s Web surfers are used to seeing.

Others are uncomfortable with the RootsWeb acceptable use policy—the legalese of which gives TGN license to use the data posted on RootsWeb servers (submitters retain copyright)—or feel the free, volunteer nature of USGenWeb is incompatible with a for-profit host. Of course, the connection was always there, but it's more obvious with ancestry in RootsWeb's URL.

The Family Group Sheet Project’s site, for example, has moved, and its redirect page bears a prominent message that "THIS SITE IS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ANCESTRY."

Read more about what USGenWeb administrators have to say on Powell’s blog, and let us know what you think by clicking Comments below.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, March 20, 2008 7:07:41 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, March 18, 2008
News From the BYU Computerized Genealogy Conference
Posted by Diane

Family Tree Magazine’s contributing editor and technology guru Rick Crume crashed the Brigham Young University Computerized Genealogy Conference  last weekend in Provo, Utah.

He reports more than 700 attendees absorbed nearly 100 presentations and explored a large exhibit area. Here's what Rick had to say about developments he uncovered there:

FamilySearch makeover update
The revamped Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Family History Library Web site, still in the testing stage, is gradually being rolled out to the church’s temple districts around the world. It’ll be open to the general public once data security issues are addressed.

“New” FamilySearch offers collaboration, multimedia and improved searching. It’ll attempt to consolidate all the family information located in several databases on “old” FamilySearch.

As a shared database open for users to collaborate on, the new FamilySearch is fundamentally different from the current site, which doesn’t let you alter data someone else submitted. You’ll be able to submit information to the new site in GEDCOM format, but you can’t download data as a GEDCOM.

Working with other service providers is the new site’s strong suit. Several genealogy programs, including Ancestral Quest, Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic (but not Family Tree Maker or FamilySearch’s own Personal Ancestral File), will let you synchronize the family files on your computer with New FamilySearch. And you’ll be able to use these programs free at Family History Centers for three years.

Progeny’s Charting Companion utilities  will combine family information from the renewed site with photos from another site to create a photo family tree chart. And Generations Maps will let you order a chart made from names on the new FamilySearch.

Work is underway to digitize the Family History Library’s collection. FamilySearch Labs' Record Search already lets you search millions of indexed names.

How many searches was that?
Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of The Generations Network, rattled off a string of statistics on his company, whose divisions include, RootsWeb, and

Amazingly, still ranks as the third most popular genealogy Web site, even though TGN virtually abandoned the site after acquiring it several years ago.

Sullivan noted processes 20 million search requests a day. TGN has invested almost $69 million to digitize records over the past 10 years; $10 million a year now goes toward digitization. In the works: scanning some of the National Archives’ 9 billion undigitized documents.

Sullivan emphasized RootsWeb will remain free despite the change in its domain name to

From the genealogy social networking front ...
Genealogy social networking sites are multiplying like crazy. Geni now has a million registered users. A new entrant in the field, Family Pursuit, lets you and your relatives use a Web-based genealogy program to collaborate on family history research.’s upgraded online family tree, PedigreeSoft, will debut in two or three months with a new URL,

And some new products and services
  • Family Photoloom, which should be available this month, lets you tag faces in photos and link them to genealogical data
  • Heritage Collector lets you organize your digital photos, label people in them and create family history scrapbooks
  • is a wiki that accepts biographies of anyone, famous or not, but the person must be deceased
  •, coming in April, aims to make tracking down your ancestors’ descendants more efficient.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 3:34:26 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, March 13, 2008
RootsWeb To Be Hosted on
Posted by Diane

The Generations Network (TGN) CEO Tim Sullivan announced today that the free genealogy Web site RootsWeb will be transplanted to the domain of the subscription site beginning next week. Instead of going to, you’ll log on to

RootsWeb will otherwise stay the same and stay free, says Sullivan. “This move will not change the RootsWeb experience or alter the ease of navigation to or within RootsWeb. RootsWeb will remain a free online experience.” Old URLs will work; you won’t need to update any bookmarks.

The reason for the change is to get more people to move back and forth between and RootsWeb. According to the announcement, only 25 percent of visitors to visited RootsWeb in January 2008, and only 20 percent of visitors to RootsWeb visited

The Generations Network (formerly, which owns, acquired RootsWeb in June 2000.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, March 13, 2008 4:25:27 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Saturday, February 09, 2008
News and Notes from the Family History Expo
Posted by Allison

The first day of MyAncestorsFound’s Family History Expo 2008 saw a flurry of activity in the exhibit hall—here at the Family Tree Magazine booth, I barely had a moment to catch my breath. But today I had the opportunity to cruise the hall and learn about new developments in the industry.

The buzzword for this event has been “New FamilySearch”—referring to the highly anticipated revamp of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ genealogy Web site, which is scheduled to go public in early 2009. Several classes focused on how the new system works, and what it means to genealogists. Developers from AncestralQuest, PAFInsight and RootsMagic genealogy software gave demos on how their programs will “sync” with the New FamilySearch.

Here’s a snapshot of other news:
  • Newcomer FamilyPursuit is a Web-based family tree program that aims to make it easy for families to collaborate on recording and researching genealogy. It’s currently in a public beta phase—you can get sneak peek at its features on the Web site, or sign up to become a tester.
  • Milennia Corp. is preparing to release version 7 of its Legacy Family Tree software in March. The new edition will add wall charts and source templates, among other features
  • GenealogyBank, the subscription Web site for historical newspapers, government records and primary documents, is adding hundreds of Hispanic newspapers to its collection.
  • Ancestry DNA, the genetic genealogy arm of data megasite, will be adding surname groups this spring, along with groups for different geographic locations and haplogroups.
  • Add Family Tree and Me to the list of companies offering decorative family tree charts. Owner Shirlene Dymock aims to provide designs elegant enough to display in your living room—see samples of the layouts, backgrounds and frames online.
  • Online genealogy TV channel RootsTelevision has now posted all the episodes of both PBS “Ancestors” series. You’ll also be able to catch interviews from the Expo on RootsTelevision.
  • Podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke was also busy doing interviews during the Expo. Among the conversations to be featured in upcoming episodes: Richard Black of the Godfrey Memorial Library, Kathy Meade of Swedish church records Web site Genline, and presenter Kathryn Lake Hogan speaking about immigration resources. Visit Genealogy Gems for details on subscribing to this free online radio show.
  • Speaking of Swedish records, Meade tipped me off to a recent news story on about a reinterpretation of Swedish law that would allow more-recent church records to be digitized and posted online—shrinking the 100-year waiting period to 70 or 85. Watch this blog for announcements on where and when those records may become available to you.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Videos
Saturday, February 09, 2008 11:08:17 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Changes for FindMyPast; FamilyLink
Posted by Diane

Two news bits on the genealogy biz:
  • Scotland Online, parent company of the genealogy data service ScotlandsPeople, has purchased the UK records site FindMyPast with plans to “establish a world-class online network of family history resources.”
ScotlandsPeople has birth records, censuses, vital registrations and wills from Scotland. FindMyPast (the former 1837Online) is known for its British vital registration, census and outgoing passenger records. Each company’s online resources will be unaffected by the merger and niether will relocate its headquarters, according to an announcement.
  • Back stateside, the genealogy database and social networking business World Vital Records is changing its name to FamilyLink. The renamed company will still call its database site World Vital Records, and its social networking site FamilyLink.

Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, January 22, 2008 8:39:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, January 02, 2008
10 Biggest Genealogy News Stories in 2007
Posted by Diane

Here are the top genealogy developments of 2007… at least in our humble opinion. Got one to add to (or kick off of) the list? Got an opinion which news is the biggest? Click Comment (below) and get it off your chest.

Competition comes back
For a few years there, after industry leader (now The Generations Network) purchased second-place in 2003, industry competition ebbed and online innovation slowed. Today The Generations Network is still the giant, but the growth of relative newcomers including World Vital Records and Footnote, plus FamilySearch’s records-digitization initiatives, are keeping the genealogy business on its toes.

Records digitization accelerates
In October, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced it was teaming up with FamilySearch to digitize case files of approved pension applications from widows of Civil War Union soldiers. That’s part of an even bigger arrangement that has FamilySearch volunteers stationed at NARA to scan all kinds of records. Footnote also has agreements to digitize NARA records, and FamilySearch has mobilized thousands of volunteers to index scanned records.

Partnerships proliferate
Organizations are joining forces right and left. World Vital Records, which launched in 2006, has built its genealogy database largely through partnership agreements. That site, Footnote, ProQuest and the Godfrey Library announced in May they’d provide access at FamilySearch’s Family History Centers. Nonprofit libraries and archives, including NARA, are using partnerships to increase records access without blowing their budgets.

Social networking explodes
As contributing editor Rick Crume points out in his January 2008 Family Tree Magazine social networking guide, Web 2.0 has allowed sites to be more interactive than ever. In addition to the popularity of photo- and family-history-sharing sites such as Geni and Amiglia, and genealogy networking sites such as FamilyLink and WeRelate, database sites such as FindMyPast have added social networking features.

Family Tree Maker 2008 disappoints
Surely you’ve seen the comments from customers who bought the revamped genealogy program after a brief beta period, only to be disappointed by missing reports, data importing problems and other bugs. If not, let us help you out from under that rock, and take a look at readers’ comments in our products forum.

DNA testing gets higher profile
Your options for genetic genealogy testing—and the number of companies that’ll test you—jumped this year. The Generations Network hopped on board with DNA Ancestry. Mainstream media regularly weigh in on topics such as newcomer 23andme and the usefulness of testing for ethnic roots. PBS’s "African-American Lives" has brought genetic genealogy to prime time.

NARA rates rise
NARA's new rates for ordering copies of records, which included $75 for a Civil War pension file (up from $37), made us wonder about national priorities regarding the public’s access to historical records. Thank goodness for all that digitization (above).

Everyone’s blogging
It’s not hard to find genealogy news, resources and research updates from people in the know—just go to Google Blog Search and type in genealogy. You might come across The Ancestry Insider (an “unofficial, unauthorized view ...”), Geneablogie (the author’s “exploration of his American family of families”) or one of the tens of thousands of other blogs about family history. Heck, Family Tree Magazine got in on the act, too.

Online videos are everywhere
Thank Roots Television for this one. It actually launched in 2006, but expanded its coverage this year by sending crews to genealogy conferences and on cruises, and adding RootsTube (a genealogical version of YouTube where you can upload videos). Founder Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak says the site's roughly 400 shows (divided into 1,100 smaller chunks) are "pushing half a million video views."

Genealogists get younger
A survey recently released found younger people expressed higher interest in learning heir family history. Empirical evidence—young people at conferences, youth branches of national societies (see our Web site for links) and Facebook genealogy add-ons—also tells us this. This means genealogy can continue its status among the country’s popular pastimes.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, January 02, 2008 4:12:58 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Thursday, December 20, 2007
FHL and 13 FHCs Get Back
Posted by Diane

After losing their free access last spring, researchers at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Family History Library (FHL) and 13 largest Family History Centers (FHCs) will once again be able to search the subscription site's genealogy databases for free.

FamilySearch and The Generations Network (parent company of have reached an agreement that provides free on-site access at the FHL in Salt Lake City and its regional FHCs in

•    Mesa, Ariz.
•    Los Angeles
•    Oakland, Calif.
•    Orange, Calif.
•    Sacramento, Calif.
•    San Diego
•    Idaho Falls, Idaho
•    Pocatello, Idaho
•    Las Vegas
•    Logan, Utah
•    Ogden, Utah
•    St. George, Utah
•    Hyde Park, London, England

The agreement takes effect immediately.

Providing access at these centers was a financial decision, says FamilySearch spokesperson Paul Nauta. "The money would be best spent right now focusing on those 13 centers that accommodate a significant amount of patron traffic. We do desire to provide expanded access to all of our centers in the future."

If your FHC isn't on the list, see if a public library near you offers Ancestry Library Edition, a version of databases library patrons can use free at subscribing institutions.

Until April 1, the FHL and almost all FHCs had enjoyed free, unlicensed access since 2000. When it was unable to negotiate a formal arrangement with the LDS Church, The Generations Network discontinued the service (except a few databases for which contracts did exist and which are still available at all FHCs). See the March 29 E-mail Update newsletter for more details.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | Libraries and Archives
Thursday, December 20, 2007 8:43:05 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, December 06, 2007
Don't Know Much About Family History, But We Want To
Posted by Diane

Lots of Americans say they’re interested in their family history, but many actually don’t know much about their ancestors, according to an survey released today.

Seventy-eight percent of survey respondents said they’re interested in learning more about their families, but half could name only one or none of their grandparents, 60 percent didn’t know both grandmothers’ maiden names, and 22 percent couldn’t say what either grandfather did or does for a living.

Half the survey respondents had ever researched their roots.

This may be a bit unexpected: More young people than older people were among the 78 percent wanting to know more about their roots. Eighty-three percent of 18-to-34-year-olds were interested, followed 35-to-54-year-olds at 77 percent and those 55 and older at 73 percent.

Could be the older folks are already doing genealogy and know a lot about their families, so they’re not as worried about learning more.

The research firm MarketTools conducted the survey. Information about the number of respondents and how they were surveyed wasn’t available.

What do you think of the numbers? Click comment to share your two cents.

Genealogy Industry
Thursday, December 06, 2007 1:44:23 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Tuesday, November 06, 2007 and Peddle Surname Books
Posted by Diane’s BookSurge print-on-demand service is collaborating with to offer the Our Name in History series.

You can pay $29.95 for a book of interesting facts, statistics and commentary about your surname, if it’s one of the 279,000 last names covered in the series. That accounts for nearly 90 percent of US households.

The books' content is based on’s historical records, but don't expect to find information about any particular family.

It's more along the lines of the “Did you know?” tidbits that pop up when you search For example, I’ll look for census records of my great-grandfather and learn “Most Haddad families (47) living in the US in 1920 lived in CT.”

According to the Our Name in History description for a book about my surname (4,872nd most common, says the census bureau), “You'll get a better idea of where people sharing the Haddad name settled and where they may reside today in the United States, Canada, England and other countries.”

If you’re running out of time to pull together those impressive genealogy books you planned on giving relatives for the holidays, one of these surname books could be a somewhat-paler-but-still-sort-of-
related-to-family-history substitute. 

Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, November 06, 2007 12:27:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Civil War Widows' Pension Files to be Digitized
Posted by Diane

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and FamilySearch have announced a partnership to digitize case files of approved pension applications from widows of Civil War Union soldiers.

The agreement will kick off with a pilot project to digitize, index and provide access to 3,150 pension files. When that’s done, FamilySearch, along with records site, plans to digitize and index all 1,280,000 pensions in the series.

Oh, happy day!

That’s a huge step toward easing genealogists’ research and restoring their good will toward NARA, which recently doubled pension file ordering fees to $75. Pensions aren’t microfilmed, so paying the fee, visiting NARA in Washington, DC, or hiring an on-site researcher are currently your only options.

Widows' pension application files often include supporting documents such as affidavits, witnesses’ depositions, marriage certificates, birth records, death certificates, and pages from family Bibles.

According to the announcement, the digitized records will be free at Family History Centers, with an index free on the FamilySearch Web site. Images also may be available for a fee on a commercial site.

The digitized pension records also will be free at NARA facilities, and NARA will get gratis copies of the record images and associated indexes.

This is part of a broader partnership announced today, in which FamilySearch staff will camp out at NARA five days a week with high-speed digitization cameras. Ultimately, it'll mean you have ready access, through FamilySearch and Family History Centers, to court, military, land, and other government records dating as early as 1754.

FamilySearch | Footnote | Genealogy Industry | Military records
Tuesday, October 23, 2007 12:20:43 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Monday, October 22, 2007, Offer Joint Discount
Posted by Diane

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and The Generations Network (TGN) are are tying up a loose end left over from the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in August.

The two organizations announced a partnership at the conference, but until now, didn’t say what their partnership meant for you.

Here’s the answer: You can join both TGN's and NEHGS’ for a special annual price of $155.40, a savings of $75. ($155.40 is the regular price of’s US Deluxe records collection.)

The price, which gets you access to’s US records as well as NEHGS' vital, church, court and other New England records, is good until Dec. 31 and isn't open to those who already belong to both groups.

Additionally, members of can join NEHGS for $60 (a $15 discount), and members of NEHGS can join for $99.95.

Another part of the agreement: databases will include  indexes to NEHGS’ New England Historical and Genealogical Register from 1847 to 2002.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies
Monday, October 22, 2007 1:39:17 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, October 18, 2007
Interview with's CEO Tim Sullivan
Posted by Diane

After yesterday’s announcement that Spectrum Equity Investors had purchased The Generations Network (TGN), parent company of, TGN CEO Tim Sullivan was busy working the phones talking to the media—including myself. The major points of our conversation:
• Your experience as an subscriber won’t change as a direct result of the sale, Sullivan states, “Other than the very rapid pace of innovation we’ve built into our cycle in the past year, and we hope to maintain that, even to accelerate it.” That innovation includes the Ancestry Press and DNA Ancestry services, international sites such as the Swedish, and a Web 2.0 platform for
“The firm that’s buying our company is buying our vision. They like what we’re doing and they want us to keep doing that,” Sullivan says.
• Sullivan said RootsWeb—the free, grassroots site TGN (then purchased in 2000—"is absolutely not going away. We will never charge for what’s on RootsWeb. We’re proud to be supporters of RootsWeb.”

He adds there’s only about a 20 percent overlap between RootsWeb users and users, a number his company would like to increase.
Spectrum Equity’s investment in TGN likely won’t change anything at (anyone remember that site?), which TGN purchased in 2003 and allowed to languish. “We continue to support, but we did make a decision that in a world of limited resources and limited hours in the day, that the best thing we could do was focus our resources as completely as we could on”
• TGN is focused on incorporating new technology, such as wireless photo uploads, into its services, and on globalizing genealogy research. “We just sent someone to China to open an office there and build a Web site for people in China,” Sullivan says.
• A few other upcoming changes to include a “pretty major” overhaul of the search interface, improved tree-building experience, and of course, more digitized records.
• Sullivan wouldn’t say whether TGN would go public, just that the company’s future holds many possibilities and his staff is taking things one step at a time.
Its domination of the genealogy industry often means TGN is the company people love to hate. Sullivan’s aware of that and says “I promise we don’t sit around thinking of ways to make people angry.”

I asked about his pre-TGN genealogical interest. He knew some oral history, including an ancestor who worked with Thomas Edison. “I, like probably everybody, was enamored and fascinated by the stories of those who preceded me,” he says, but he hadn’t yet done research.

Back when he ran the online dating service, Sullivan knew TGN’s then-CEO Tom Stockham and thought he’d check out “Before I knew it, it was 2:30 in the morning, and I had my laptop in bed showing my wife documents I discovered.”

“It was an instantaneous and very strong fascination, but like a lot of people, I didn’t have a lot of time and I didn’t follow up and get engaged right away.” His company’s challenge, he says, is engaging people like himself at that time, who face busy schedules and many choices for spending spare moments.

“We’re never going to make it easy, push-button genealogy. But we’re getting close to that tipping point, where the investment and the effort people put in, they see a return very quickly in terms of satisfaction.”

Update: What do you think of what Sullivan had to say? Join the discussion in the Hot Topics Forum.

Genealogy Industry
Thursday, October 18, 2007 8:40:02 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The Generations Network Bought for $300 Million
Posted by Diane

A private equity firm has purchased a majority interest in The Generations Network (TGN, formerly, parent company of, DNA Ancestry,, RootsWeb and others.

Spectrum Equity Investors, already a partial stakeholder in TGN, will pay $300 million for its majority interest. Two of its partners will join TGN president and CEO Tim Sullivan on the new board of directors. Other terms of the purchase weren't disclosed.

Private equity firms buy companies hoping to make money off them, and that’s probably a good bet here. The Generations Network online properties have 900,000 paying subscribers, and receive 8.2 million unique visitors and more than 429 million page views a month. According to the Internet news site TechCrunch, TGN rakes in around $150 million in revenue annually.

Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, October 17, 2007 8:28:43 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, September 21, 2007
More New Genealogy Social Networking Sites
Posted by Diane

We've come across additions to the genealogy social networking world:
  • FamilyInHistory lets you create a tree by uploading a GEDCOM and adding photos and stories. You can grant others access to contribute images and stories, too. Though you can edit the stories, photos and events on your family’s timeline, you can’t edit genealogical data once it's on the site—instead, you’d need to upload a new GEDCOM.
After a 30-day free trial, FamilyInHistory costs from $8.49 to $18.49 per month.
Before signing on, check out similar free sites, such as SharedTree, Geni (where you can collaborate with relatives on a tree, but can’t yet upload a GEDCOM—a spokesperson told me to expect GEDCOM uploads by the end of the year) or Member Trees (you can build a free tree even if you don’t have an subscription, but nonsubscribers can’t access results of the automated database searches).
  • FamilyRelatives, a site with UK census, vital registration, parish and other records, has added free social networking. FamilyRelatives is more profile-based than most genealogy social networking sites: Rather than build a tree, you create a profile, enter family data (no GEDCOM uploads yet) and attach records (FamilyLink, which debuted earlier this year, works similarly). You can search and view other members’ profiles and leave comments, and the site automatically matches your relatives’ names with the same names in other profiles.
To search FamilyRelatives’ record databases, you’ll need a subscription ($75 for a year) or a pay-per-view account (50 units cost $10; 150 units cost $23.50).
We'll help you choose which social networking site best suits your needs in the January 2008 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands and Dec. 18.

Addition: Yet another new site we've learned of,, is meant to function as Web-based genealogy software and a social networking site rolled up in one. A 30-day free trial lets you create a tree, import a GEDCOM, add 20 photos to an album, invite relatives to join in and surname-search all the site's trees. After the trial, you can opt for a $95.88 12-month or $59.94 six-month subscription.

If you take a pass on paying, you'll be moved to the free basic plan. Niether the trial period nor the basic plan lets you export a GEDCOM from your tree. (It's not clear on the site what other features the basic plan includes.)

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, September 21, 2007 10:26:57 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Campaign Raising Funds for Ellis Island Restoration
Posted by Diane

A “Save Ellis Island” ad on piqued my curiosity today. The ad is part of a national fundraising campaign called We Are Ellis Island that launched Aug. 17.

Genealogists and the American public are intimately familiar with (and grateful for) the Great Hall on Ellis Island, which was restored and opened as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in the 1990s.

Those behind We Are Ellis Island—a nonprofit called Save Ellis Island and Arrow, a division of clothing company Phillips-Van Heusen Corp—hope to raise enough to restore the deteriorating buildings that remain. That includes the three structures of the Hospital Complex (read about them here).

Arrow donated $500,000 to finish restoring the Ferry Building, which reopened April 2.

You can visit the We Are Ellis Island campaign Web site to donate, share your family’s Ellis Island story (you must register first) and upload pictures.

The campaign also includes television and print advertising. All feature photographs of famous folks, including actor Christian Slater, American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee and football star Joe Montana, wearing Arrow apparel and posing attractively inside the unrestored buildings. The celebrities’ Ellis Island stories are among those on the site.

Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, September 12, 2007 4:31:47 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, August 30, 2007 and the Telegraph Launch White Label Site
Posted by Diane

If genealogy Web surfers think the new UK records site Telegraph Family History seems familiar, well, they're right. has produced the first white label genealogy database site, for the Telegraph Media Group, publisher of the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

A white label product is one a company produces for another company to brand and market as its own. Telegraph Family History is basically with a different "skin," so when you search Telegraph Family History, you're really searching's collection of British census, vital and emigration records.

Telegraph Family History launched Friday, bearing a “powered by” graphic. You'll need a free registration to search the records, but you must pay to see detailed results.

It also has researcher and author Nick Barratt’s Family Detective columns investigating famous Brits’ pedigrees. Barratt is a UK family history media magnet who appears on the BBC series "Who Do You Think You Are?"

You can subscribe to Telegraph Family History for the same prices as The Explorer package gives full access to all records for about $250 per year. You also can purchase pay-per-view units starting around $14. See for information.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, August 30, 2007 8:55:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, August 27, 2007
Genealogy Companies Merge, You Get Free Stuff
Posted by Diane

A genealogy industry merger is resulting in freebies for you. The Israel-based family networking site MyHeritage has finalized its purchase of software and database company Pearl Street Software, and it’s making Pearl Street’s products free.

Those include the $29.95 Family Tree Legends software and Family Tree Legends Records Collection, which debuted for $29.95 per year in 2005 with a variety of indexes to military, vital, court, biography and other records. Pearl Street also ran the pedigree site GenCircles, known for its SmartMatching technology that matches up duplicate search results for an ancestor. Lately, as owners looked for a buyer, the company's sites have stagnated and customers have noticed dwindling support services.

MyHeritage first made a splash back in 2006 with a facial recognition tool that found users' celebrity look-alikes. More gimmick than anything else, it nonetheless got attention from legions of Web surfers and doubtless padded the site's registered users stat to the current 17 million. (Facial recognition's genealogy application: It could match your uploaded photo of Great-Grandma with one your long-lost cousin submitted.)

The just-revamped MyHeritage is now available in 15 languages andhas a free Immersive Family Tree you can use to post your genealogy. Its “Megadex” search will look for surnames in online databases (results link you to the originating site, where you must be a subscriber to access paid content).

The new Look-alike Meter shows you which parent a child resembles more. And now you can create a collage of your famous twin. (I was a fan of TV’s recently concluded “Gilmore Girls,” so imagine my delight with my 83 percent resemblance to the show's Lauren Graham.)

GenCircles and Family Tree Legends will remain online for now, but MyHeritage is joining the sites' databases. To access the free software and record collection, visit Family Tree Legends.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, August 27, 2007 11:00:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, August 22, 2007
More New Stuff Spotted at FGS
Posted by Diane

We’ve blogged about Federation of Genealogical Societies conference news from FamilySearch, The Generations Network, RootsTelevision and us here at Family Tree Magazine. We also found these new products and services meant to make your genealogical life easier:
  • World Vital Records has partnered with the National Genealogical Society to provide society management services including member benefits (in the form of World Vital Records subscription discounts), membership renewal processing, online data hosting and a Web platform (on FamilyLink) for member communication.
  • is a not-yet-available service that matches people who have well-defined research tasks that need doing (such as getting an obituary from library microfilm) with experienced—but not necessarily professional—researchers who'll complete them for a fee. Expect a launch by March 2008.
  • FacTree from The Genealogy Shop is a Windows utility for entering data into your genealogy software. The theory is, you type data into an online form that approximates the source document, and facTree puts the data in the right format and place in your software. You can try it free with the 1880 census; other facTree forms cost $3.50.
  • Ages-Online is a Web-based genealogy program you can access from any Internet-connected computer. It has features similar to traditional software and backs up your data nightly, though not all packages support multimedia files. Subscriptions range from $39.95 (Economy) to $109.95 (Deluxe) per year.
  • Several Web sites, such as Geni, Footnote, WeRelate and FamilyLink, have enhanced or added free social networking features that let you upload photos, post research information, build trees and collaborate with other researchers. Watch upcoming issues of Family Tree Magazine for more information on genealogy social networking.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, August 22, 2007 4:07:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, August 17, 2007
What's New From the FGS Conference
Posted by Diane

We’re reporting live from the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference (which is much better than reporting dead).

Here's visual evidence the Family Tree Magazine staff isn't just goofing off here in Fort Wayne:

In conference news, the social networking site Geni (it's pronounced “jeenee”) is exhibiting at its first national genealogy show, and the site has a lot more features than when we first told you about its debut several months ago. That includes various ways to view and navigate through your family tree, image upload and privacy options. It’s a pretty slick site, and it’s free.

The historical records subscription and pay-per-view site Footnote has enhanced its social features, too. Anyone with a basic (free) membership can create a profile, upload photo and documents, annotate them and add “story pages” about ancestors and records. Footnote webmasters made these elements more noticeable by showing the newest user contributions on the home page. You don’t have to pay to see records members have contributed, either.

Footnote users will be glad to hear a new, more-sophisticated search function is in the works.

Subscription Web site (another Web site you may have heard of) has announced a partnership with the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the oldest genealogical society in the country. You’ll hear more details in a few weeks, but the society will share records with in return for discounted subscriptions for its members.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, August 17, 2007 2:48:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Live from the FGS Conference
Posted by Allison

Family Tree Magazine staffers are at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Fort Wayne, Ind., this week. During the conference, we’ll have the opportunity to tour the new Allen County Public Library facilities—featuring the largest public-library genealogy collection in the country—and catch up on the latest products, services and resources for genealogists. We’ll be sharing that news with you throughout the conference, so stay tuned to the Genealogy Insider blog for updates.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies
Wednesday, August 15, 2007 8:57:39 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, August 02, 2007
Allen County Library Records To Be Digitized
Posted by Diane

The subscription and pay-per-view records service announced it will digitize records in the Allen County Public Library's genealogy collection. That library, located in Fort Wayne, Ind., has the largest public genealogy collection in the United States.
The digitized records will be available free at the library and for a fee on Footnote. (We’ll let you know when we learn which records are up first, and when you’ll be able to access them online.)
Footnote has been around since 1997 (it was called iArchives), but made its splash on the genealogy scene early this year, when it announced a partnership to digitize records at the National Archives and Records Administration. It also has agreements with the Pennsylvania state archives, FamilySearch and other repositories.

Update: I spoke yesterday with Footnote's Justin Schroepfer, who said the Allen County Library staff is deciding which records to start digitizing—so of course, he doesn't yet know when you'll see the first images online. Stay tuned. 

A Footnote subscription costs $7.95 per month or $59.95 per year, or you can pay to view an individual record image for $1.95. The site offers a few free databases, including UFO reports.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Thursday, August 02, 2007 4:55:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, July 16, 2007
NYG&B Chairman Comments on Controversy
Posted by Diane

After speaking with New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&B) board chairman Waddell Stillman, I’m updating Friday’s coverage of the controversial proposal to eliminate member voting.

The proposal is a response to members’ attempts to stop the sale of the society’s headquarters building (finalized in March), but Stillman says it’s not retaliation. “We’re updating our form of governance so the society isn’t exposed to a repeat of the loss of funds. If we stood by and ignored the six-figure loss we incurred, we’d be shirking our duties as fiduciaries.”

NYG&B trustees say “a handful” of members delayed the sale, causing a loss of investment income based on the $24 million sale price.

If passed, the proposal will do away with proxy voting system, which Stillman says New York State laws require. (The society must mail ballots to members, who can send back their votes, cast votes at a meeting, or designate meeting attendees to vote on their behalf.) If the proposal passes, the board would appoint new officers rather than hold elections.

Before issuing the proposal, NYGB’s board surveyed other non-profit organizations and consulted with the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), whose members passed a similar measure—after a similar debate—several years ago. NEHGS has an advisory board in addition to its board of directors. “I wouldn’t know what our board would say about adopting that structure, because we didn’t fully consider it,” says Stillman.

He says NYG&B members will still have access to the group’s services and online resources, though he doesn’t yet know what the society will do with its research collections and financial assets. (The board has two years from the building sale date to move.) “After we take care of housekeeping matters and governance … we will face those huge questions and we’ll benefit from all the debate.”

That debate won’t lead to reduced membership, he predicts. “I think people will act in their self-interest and then continue to enjoy the benefits of membership.”

Stillman also posted to Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter blog—visit to read his and others' comments.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies
Monday, July 16, 2007 4:09:11 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, July 13, 2007
NYG&B Controversy: Members Decry Voting Proposal
Posted by Diane

A simmering dispute within the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&B) has risen to a boil as the society’s 5,000 members consider a proposal from the Board of Directors to divest themselves of voting privileges.
The dispute began in September 2006, when the board voted to sell the society’s 58th Street headquarters in New York City. In a letter to members, chairman Henry C.B. Lindh cited a shortage of funds for crucial building upgrades, and said that a sale would let the organization focus on the "research and education that are the core of [its] mission."

Members voted to approve the sale at an Oct. 12 meeting, and beforehand by proxy. The society hasn’t announced its new home, but is permitted to remain in the building for two years
In January, at least one member suggested, in a note on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter blog, that a mail merge glitch may have prevented some members from receiving proxy vote letters. President William C. Johns sent a response denying a problem occurred and calling the e-mail “a fishing expedition attempting to identify any reason to delay or thwart the approved transaction.” (Johns hasn’t yet responded to voice mail messages left today.)
Members launched an e-mail campaign to protest the sale before the New York Supreme Court approval hearing, but the Hampton Synagogue's $24 million purchase of the building was finalized.
In June, the NYG&B sent members and proxy voting materials and a letter about the proposal to remove their voting privileges and leave decision-making power with the 15-member board of directors. (The New England Historic Genealogical Society operates in a similar way, but it has both a board of directors and a larger advisory board.)

In the letter, board chairman Waddell W. Stillman said passing the proposal would streamline the society’s operations and allow faster response to challenges and opportunities. About the NYG&B building sale, he added, “A handful of members, acting to thwart the unanimous vote of the board of trustees and overwhelming vote of the membership, delayed the sale for months. The NY State Supreme Court felt obligated to hear these few dissenters out, long after the NY State Attorney General had endorsed the sale, because our governance system gives each individual member legal standing to object to a proposed action.”

The full proposal was available by request and on the NYG&B Web site members-only section.
That’s when members’ e-mails and message board postings really began to fly, all encouraging members to vote down the proposal. (Supporters of the measure have been quiet.) Some examples we found:  
Their messages express concern over the directors’ intentions for the society’s assets, which now include $24 million in addition to the library, online resources, and publications and education programs.
In-person voting on the proposal will take place at a July 19 meeting at the NYG&B headquarters. We’ll keep you updated.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies
Friday, July 13, 2007 4:46:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, July 09, 2007
BYU Gets Free Ancestry Library Edition
Posted by Diane

Provo, Utah-based The Generations Network (TGN) has agreed to provide Brigham Young University (BYU) libraries on Utah, Idaho and Hawaii campuses with free access to Ancestry Library Edition, an institutional version of

The arrangement recognizes the contributions of BYU—the only US university to offer an undergraduate degree in family history—to TGN's workforce. "We are grateful for the many graduates who are now employed at our company," says TGN president Tim Sullivan. "As next-door neighbors, we will continue to tap the knowledge and experience of professors and students."

Ancestry Library Edition has many of the same genealogy databases as, including censuses, immigration records and military records. If your public library subscribes to Ancestry Library Edition, you can search the databases for free—ask at the reference desk or check your library's Web site.

Back in April, TGN dicontinued free Ancestry Library Edition for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Family History Centers. When they tried to formalize that arrangement in a contract, the two sides were unable to reach terms palatable to both.

Genealogy Industry
Monday, July 09, 2007 3:04:57 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, July 06, 2007 Gets into Scrapbooking
Posted by Diane

The Generations Network (TGN) is taking another step in marketing its subscription databases to the genealogical layperson—in this case, scrapbookers. TGN and scrapbooking supply manufacturer K&Company have joined forces to create a line of products.

Each album in the line comes with a seven-day trial membership to Also available are heritage-themed papers, a family tree poster and a research guidebook.

The partnership attempts to capitalize on scrapbookers’ desire to preserve photos and record memories—and their willingness to spend in the process. An industry survey released in 2004 reported one in four households have a scrapbooker, with 75 percent of them spending at least $25 a month on scrapbooking-related products. The average scrapbooker owns $1,853 worth of supplies. (Do you think she can afford an subscription?)

Each product from K&Company’s line will set a scrapbooker back another $2.99 to $31.99.

Genealogy Industry
Friday, July 06, 2007 3:32:37 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, June 18, 2007 Re-enters the DNA Business
Posted by Diane

It was only a matter of time. plans to sell DNA test kits and add a genetic genealogy database to its array of research offerings.

It’s made possible by a partnership between’s parent company, The Generations Network (TGN), and Salt Lake City-based Sorenson Genomics—one of the country’s largest DNA testing labs, the creator of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) genetic genealogy database, and until now, the owner of consumer genetic genealogy testing lab Relative Genetics.

Relative Genetics will close, and its customers and Y-Match test results database will become part of TGN. will market the tests, with results to be added to’s database, and host the surname projects formerly at Relative Genetics.

Relative Genetics spokesperson Peggy Hayes says the free Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation database, which isn't part of Relative Genetics, is not part of the partnership. "SMGF will continue its mission as a philanthropic organization," she added.'s DNA tests will cost less than $200 and be available later this summer. Sorenson's labs will provide the testing kits and analyze customers' DNA.

The DNA test results database will be free at Former Relative Genetics customers will automatically become registered users, who can access the site’s free services.

The customers will be able to control privacy settings, or opt out altogether by contacting Relative Genetics before July 15. (see Relative Genetics' FAQ page for more on what this development means for customers).

You may remember the GenetiKit, TGN predecessor’s first foray into genetic genealogy. Also a partnership with Relative Genetics, the GenetiKit Y-DNA test kit debuted in 2002 for $219 and faded away a few years ago.

Genealogy Industry | Genetic Genealogy
Monday, June 18, 2007 10:39:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, June 06, 2007
More Genealogy Partnerships to Bring You Records
Posted by Diane

It’s a genealogy love-in. Ever since several new business relationships emerged during May’s National Genealogical Society conference, companies have been announcing partnerships right and left. A few of the latest:
For home users, Kindred Konnections subscription packages range from $7 for 10 days to $100 for a year. You can get free access for submitting your own family files to the site; the amount of free access depends on the size of your file.
  • Connecticut’s Godfrey Memorial Library is giving its members the option to add a World Vital Records (WVR) subscription for $45 on top of the Godfrey annual membership fee.  In return, WVR will digitize and index books, articles and church records from the Godfrey library. Both sites will have the indexes.
A WVR subscription normally runs $49.95 and includes the Everton library, SmallTownPapers, a variety of vital records and  books from Quintin Publications. As is customary for new databases, WVR is making its most recent Quintin addition, Ermatinger’s York Factory Express Journal (journeys between Fort Vancouver and Hudson Bay in 1827 and 1828), free through June 14
Meanwhile, the Godfrey library has reorganized its membership levels and put color-coded portals on its Web site for various subscriptions:
1. “red” portal: $35 for 19th century US newspapers, American National Biography Online, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online, the London Times archive and more
2. “blue” portal: $65 for the "red" subscription, plus

3. “green” portal: $80 for the “red” subscription, plus WVR

4. “gold” portal: $110 for the “blue” subscription, plus WVR

  • WVR and Accessible Archives: Accessible Archives, whose mid-Atlantic-focused databases (including the Pennsylvania Gazette 1728-1800, American County Histories to 1900, African-American newspaper the Liberator and more) have been available only in libraries, will now be ... well, accessible to home users through a WVR subscription. 

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, June 06, 2007 8:48:17 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Not-So-Silent Partners
Posted by Allison

Genealogy is all about relationships, so perhaps it was fitting that several newly forged business relationships were the buzz of last week’s NGS conference. Why all the hype? These partnerships promise to put a plethora of new genealogical records on the Web, and expand online access to existing resources.

Leading the partnership parade is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which has teamed up with World Vital Records (WVR), Footnote, the Godfrey Library and ProQuest CSA to make those organizations’ subscription databases available for free at its Salt Lake City Family History Library and 4,500 branch Family History Centers. (Note: ProQuest’s HeritageQuest Online won’t be accessible in every center—call yours to check on availability.) The church hopes these databases will help fill the void left after the discontinuation of free access in the library and centers (read our coverage).

In addition to on-site access, LDS is collaborating with WVR and Footnote to enrich both sites’ paid content. With the church’s help, Footnote is in the process of posting 3 million Revolutionary War pensions, making the full files available online for the first time. WVR will be posting selected records (likely including—you guessed it—births, marriages and deaths) from both LDS microfilm and the digital document images church cameras have captured in recent years. Although the record images hosted by WVR will require a subscription, indexes to them will be available free on FamilySearch (and you’ll be able to view them free at LDS centers).

In the meantime, WVR is adding content from two more partners: The Ellis Island database of 22 million passengers and crew arriving in New York from 1892 to 1924, courtesy of the State of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation (results link you back to to view the original records), and Quintin Publications’ catalog of 10,000 books—which encompass compiled genealogies, local histories and other material previously unavailable online.

That’s not all: Thanks to a collaboration with LexisNexis, ProQuest CSA is adding portions of the US Serial Set—representing 480,000 page images from 150,000 government documents dating back to 1789—to HeritageQuest Online. Those records complement the censuses, family books and other databases already on HeritageQuest, which is accessible through subscribing libraries.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, May 23, 2007 4:55:47 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]