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Friday, August 22, 2014
Smithsonian Launches Website to Crowdsource Old Document Transcriptions
Posted by Diane
The Smithsonian Institution has joined the crowdsourcing revolution: It launched a Transcription Center website where volunteers can help transcribe thousands of document images, such as Civil War diaries, letters from artists Mary Cassatt and Grandma Moses, and old American currency.
Over the past year, nearly 1,000 volunteers participated in a beta test of documents in high demand by researchers, resulting in about 13,000 pages of transcriptions.
According to the Smithsonian’s press release, “In one instance—transcribing the personal correspondence of members of the Monuments Men held in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art collection—49 volunteers finished the 200-page project in just one week.”
A Reddit community devoted to the Applachian Trail transcribed the 121-page digitized diary of Earl Shaffer, the first man to hike the entire length of the trail. Hiking enthusiasts, naturalists and other researchers now can search the digital version, helping to preserve access while protecting the fragile original.
Another volunteer reviews each completed transcription before it’s certified by a Smithsonian expert.
To participate, register here and click Tips for quick instructions. You can choose a project by theme (such as American Experience or Civil War Era) or by contributing repository.
Museums | Social Networking
Friday, August 22, 2014 11:11:06 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Best Facebook Comments Re: Ancestry.com DDoS Attack
Posted by Diane
In case you haven't heard, Ancestry.com was down part of Monday and
most of yesterday, and intermittently today, due to what the company says was a DDoS (Distributed
Denial of Service) attack. Find A Grave and RootsWeb also were
In such an attack, multiple perpetrators use "bots" to bombard a
website with traffic, so that the site can't respond to legitimate
traffic. Both Evernote
and Feedly were targets of DDoS attacks last week; their
attackers demanded payment to stop the attacks.
On its Facebook page and in a statement,
Ancestry.com said the attack has been neutralized, but users may still experience intermittent outages or slowness while the site recovers.
They should clear their cookies and cache before logging back
on. Family Tree Maker users should switch the program's sync
setting to manual until service is fully restored.
No Ancestry.com members' family tree or personal data were compromised in the attack.
The site outage drew Facebook comments ranging from supportive to accusations of site mismanagement and demands
for refunds or subscription extensions. There were lots of capital letters
and exclamation marks.
Someone even suggested the real
reason the site went down is all the dads taking advantage of the
Father's Day subscription special. (Way to spoil it for the rest of us, dads!)
But I'll focus on the clever Facebook comments I saw. These appeared in response to Ancestry.com Facebook page
ancestry deleted their cookies and emptied their cache?
Old Search is exacting its revenge.
2.5 of my captivity.. my captors torment me with comments
about "intermittent" outages. Withdrawal symptoms are
setting in ... eyes blurry from staring at screen, mouse
hand shakey ... I have even tried gardening ... sorting my
books alphabetically ... even cleaning shower recess ...
family is getting concerned
MyFamily, MyCanvas, Genealogy.com, Mundia and the Y-DNA
and mtDNA tests, and the internet gods retire you!
can't get on the site. What am I supposed to do, actually
get some sleep or something?
am I supposed to discover which vastly wealthy relative
I'm related to now?
And this is the winner, which West
in New England blogger Bill West posted on his own Facebook
And lo, the servers of Ancestry were beset
by the Plague of DDOS, and then were the genealogists locked out
from the Realms of Ancestry. Neither could they work on their
family trees, nor add photos nor memorials to Find A Grave. Then
great were the lamentations of the genealogists, and many were
beset with frustration, weeping and gnashing their teeth in the
outer darkness as they waited for the servers of Ancestry to
once more open unto them.
Meanwhile, others turned to worshiping the false idol,
Subscribe to Family Tree Magazine.
Sign up for our free, weekly email newsletter full of genealogy news and tips.
Ancestry.com | Social Networking
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 2:15:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
How to Connect With Genealogists on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube
Posted by Diane
I'm old enough to remember Web 1.0, when you could view online content, and that was about it.
Wow, have things changed.
Now, we learn about genealogy not only from those with the
wherewithal to create and maintain a website, but also from each other, through
social media. Friending and following your fellow genealogists can
lead you to new genealogy resources, strategies, stories and
Plus, it feels good to participate in a community of people as
passionate about something as you are.
Yesterday we announced our roundup of 40 genealogy Social Media Mavericks to follow on blogs, Facebook, Twitter,
Pinterest and YouTube. You can see the roundup in the March/April
2014 Family Tree Magazine article by Lisa Louise Cooke of
Genealogy Gems, and on
These mavericks are great "curators" of online
genealogy information. They share news and research advice, provide
inspiration, ask thought-provoking questions, and offer insight
into historical records and photos. I'm glad they're around to help
us manage the intimidating amount of online family history
Of course, there are a lot of other influential social media
channels. If you're new to social media, or you're just beginning to
add it to your genealogy bag of tricks, Lisa suggests using these
Social Media Mavericks as a starting point. Then branch out to
individuals and groups that meet your research needs.
For example, on Facebook,
I've joined groups and liked pages related to places my ancestors
lived and the orphanage where my grandfather grew up.
Here are ways to connect with researchers on Facebook, Pinterest,
blogs, YouTube and Twitter:
- Once you sign up for Facebook,
in the "Search for people, places and things" box at the top,
type a term such as German genealogy. Don't hit Enter.
You can choose from the options that automatically appear, or
click See more results at the bottom of the list to see more
groups (open or closed, meaning you must request to join),
pages, people, events and apps related to your search terms.
- On Pinterest, try entering
genealogy into the search box at the top left. You'll see
pins related to your search. Click the Boards tab to see other
Pinners' boards with genealogy in the title, or click Pinners to
see pinners with genealogy in their name. If you've registered
for Pinterest, you can repin a pin or follow a board or pinner.
Otherwise, click on a pin to link to the source blog or website
(although not all pins link to more information). (Here's
our guide to using Pinterest for genealogy.)
- To find blogs about ethnicities or places of
interest to you, use the GeneaBloggers search
or run a web search on a topic and genealogy blog.
- YouTube lets you search for
videos using the search box at the top of the page. Once you
find a video you like, you can click the red Subscribe button
(if you're a YouTube member) to make it easy to find that
- On Twitter, you can use the
search box at the top to find Twitterers to follow (similar to
Facebook). Use a hashtag (#) to search for posts tagged with a
particular topic. For example, search for #rootstech to find
posts about the RootsTech genealogy conference.
- Finally, ask your genealogy friends (on Facebook and in real life) who they follow and friend. If your friends find it helpful, there's a good chance you will, too.
Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips | Social Networking
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 3:24:13 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, February 14, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 10-14
Posted by Diane
Happy Valentine's Day and President's Day weekend!
We don't often think about slavery in northern US states, but a new
website called Mapping
Slavery in Detroit documents a University of Michigan project
to explore the history of slavery in Detroit. A chart shows stats on slaves and free African-Americans from censuses in 1773,
1779, 1782 and 1810, and an interactive map shows slavery-related
A Facebook post led me to a website about an Underground
Railroad route along a road I often travel here in Cincinnati. Hamilton Avenue Road
to Freedom has background information, a map, photos and more.
African-American roots | Celebrating your heritage | Social History | Social Networking
Friday, February 14, 2014 12:36:20 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, February 13, 2014
8 "Next Steps" For Starting Your Genealogy
Posted by Diane
This week, I had the pleasure of Skyping with a class of sixth
graders working on a genealogy project. Here's a photo their teacher Tweeted:
They'd already interviewed family members and done some research
into census records, so after talking a little bit about how I got
interested in genealogy and answering their questions, I suggested
some "next steps" they could take.
We had to stop before I could really unleash my inner genealogy geek
(lucky for my captive young audience!). I'll add to the list here for you
with tips from our Family
History Starter Kit.
I think these tips work for all ages, whether
you're starting from scratch or you've done a little genealogy and you want to
make sure you covered these steps:
- Look around your house (or your parents' or another relative's
house, with permission) for "home sources": old photos, letters,
yearbooks, military discharge papers, etc.
- Try to find a relative in World War I draft registration
records. This draft captured about 23 percent of the US
population in 1917 and 1918; all men living in the United States
between the ages of roughly 18 and 45 had to apply. That means
if you had relatives in the United States at that time, there's
a good chance you'll find someone. WWI
draft records are free on FamilySearch.org. (And with the
centennial of the start of World War I coming up, it's a good
time to learn about the experiences of ancestors of that era.)
- Find an old map of the place your family lived, and see if you
can locate their home and where they went to school or work. It
gives you a picture of the neighborhood and helps you see how
it's changed. The David
Rumsey website has a huge collection of maps you can
search by place and download for free (registration is required
for very high-resolution versions).
- Go to the library in your ancestor's hometown or visit the
website and browse the local history and genealogy collection.
All libraries are different, but you might find old city
directories (which are like telephone books, not that today's
grade schoolers remember those), newspapers, books about the
area, surname files of papers related to particular families,
indexes to local records and more.
In the general genealogy advice category, I would add:
- Search for relatives' graves in sites like Find A Grave, Interment.net and BillionGraves. Also look
for death information in the Social Security Death Index, also
free on FamilySearch.
- Run a place search of the FamilySearch
online catalog so you an see what type of records are
available for the places your family lived. See what's digitized
for free at FamilySearch.org
for those places, too. Continue your place-based research by
exploring the USGenWeb Project
state and county pages for places your family lived.
- Make a family tree chart so you can see how everyone in your
family fits together. You can do this on paper on a
five-generation pedigree chart, in a genealogy software
program, or on a family tree-building website. There are many
websites where you can build a family tree (usually, for free),
Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, Geni, and Tribal Pages. Find other
options listed at
- Start a research log with your genealogy to-do list of records
you want to look up and databases you want to search. A
spreadsheet works well for this, and you can note the record,
ancestor's name, repository or website, and other pertinent
- Gather information not only on parents, grandparents,
great-grandparents, etc. (your ancestors), but also on aunts,
uncles and cousins (your collateral relatives). Collateral
relatives' records could have information about your ancestors,
and they'll help you find distant relatives who are still
- Keep track of where you found each piece of new genealogy information. Write down the type of record; title of the microfilm, book, or online collection and website where you found it; author and publisher (a person and/or an organization); date and place of publication; the page number with the information; and date you accessed the website (if applicable).
What "next steps" and general advice would you suggest for a beginning genealogist?
History Starter Kit is great for folks who want to start
researching their family history or who've done a little genealogy
and aren't sure what to do next. The collection of how-to books,
downloads and printed lessons have a friendly approach that guides
you through those first steps—they're full of tips you can start
using right away to discover your family history. Learn
more about it here.
Genealogy for kids | Research Tips | Social Networking
Thursday, February 13, 2014 9:46:08 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
African-American Genealogy and Slave Ancestry Research Group Blogfest!
Posted by Diane
Look for more African-American genealogy blogs to come online in the
next couple of weeks: Our
Georgia Roots blogger Luckie Daniels, who started the
Genealogy and Slave Ancestry (AAGSAR) Research Group (a closed
group hosted on Facebook) in August, is planning the AAGSAR Blogfest
for Jan. 5.
Daniels' goal is to bring all the AAGSAR community members online
with a blog or family website, creating a fantastic source of
information and inspiration for African-American family history researchers. "We
very well could see the likes of 75-plus new genealogy blogs online
before 11:59p.m. Jan. 5," Daniels says.
a list of AAGSAR genealogy blogs here, and look for it to grow on Jan.
African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Wednesday, December 25, 2013 8:53:05 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
New: Place My Past Website Maps Your Family Tree
Posted by Diane
A new website called Place My Past (currently accessible to those who are invited) looks to be a hybrid of a family
tree site, a mapping site and a social network.
Depending on your membership level, Place My Past lets you explore
places and events using map tools; upload, share and view historical
maps; trace your family's geographic roots; and explore their
movements over time.
Users sign into the site with a MyHeritage account (so you'll need
to create a tree on MyHeritage if you don't have one) and the site
will import and plot your family tree on its map.
Although it's open by invitation only right now, you can ask to be notified by email when the site officially
To give you an idea of what the site does, Place My Past created
this US map with events from the Kennedy family tree.
When I clicked on Lancaster, Pa., a little pop-up had a city
profile and gave me a link to view family events there.
Besides Events, you also
could see media attached to that location and others following it.
Explore the site here, or take a tour (with comments pointing out features and tools).
There are three levels of Place My Past registration:
- A free Guest registration lets you view the site's main map with
location details and "anonymized" information about people and
- A free Member can upload family trees; add and update people,
places and events; and view public information from other members.
- For $4 per month (billed as $48 per year), Subscribing members
can view family migrations; upload and share historical maps;
follow people, places and events; and connect with other members.
Love old maps? Learn five ways to use old maps to solve genealogy
research problems in our webinar
Five Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research With Old Maps,
taking place this Thursday, Dec. 12, with Lisa Louise Cooke.
Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage | Social Networking | Maps
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 1:42:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Online Genealogy Milestones for WikiTree, FamilySearch and Us!
Posted by Diane
Two—no, make that three—genealogy organizations have reached
milestones this week:
- WikiTree, a genealogy community
with a goal to build a free worldwide family tree, now has 5 million
ancestor profiles. The site's founders say its "slow-growth"
approach—encouraging the careful addition of profiles over "bulk" uploads—makes this milestone an important
You can hear from WikiTree founder Chris Whitten in the January
2013 Family Tree Magazine Podcast, hosted by Lisa
Browse or search the profiles by surname here. If you want to build a tree there, start with the "How WikiTree Works" page.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Social Networking
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:49:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Awww, Shucks. We Like You, Too!
Posted by Diane
Family Tree Magazine
has reached 10,000 likes on
Facebook! We're thanking our Facebook fans by sharing a
ShopFamilyTree.com coupon code
good for 15% off
your next purchase, plus free
if used before May 1.
ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Social Networking
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:45:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Help Us Get to 10,000 Likes! (There's Something in It for You)
Posted by Diane
Why should you help Family Tree Magazine get to 10,000 likes on Facebook?
Here are three reasons:
1. I've always wanted to be popular.
2. If the "Microsoft
Word Will Never Understand That My Name is NOT a Spelling Mistake"
page can get 161,707 likes, we can get 10,000.
3. When we hit 10,000 likes, we'll post a coupon of our fans' choosing! Vote
in our Facebook poll for either 30% off a Family Tree
University course or 15% off your entire purchase at
Visit Family Tree Magazine on Facebook to vote for your favorite deal and share it with your friends.
Genealogy fun | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Social Networking
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 2:56:16 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, October 12, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 8-12
Posted by Diane
- Ancestry.com has released a new Ancestry Facebook app that
helps you use Facebook to add to your Ancestry.com family tree. The
app lets you use your Facebook credentials to log into Ancestry.com,
get hints about Facebook members who may be family, add family
members on Facebook to your Ancestry tree and send copies of your tree to those relatives (which they can use to
start their own trees on Ancestry.com). Watch a
video of how the app works and get the app on Ancestry.com.
Note that when you add information from Facebook to your
Ancestry.com tree, you grant Ancestry.com permission to use the
information according to its Terms and Conditions and Privacy
- Our Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor's book The Last Muster:
Images of the Revolutionary War Generation, will soon
become a historical film! Visit LastMusterFilm.com to
learn more about the project and how you can help the stories of the
book's subjects come to life through a donation to the Center for
- FamilySearch is holding a Genealogists Say "Thanks!" video
contest. Submit a video sharing an ancestral find in
FamilySearch indexes and thanking FamilySearch volunteer indexers
for their work. Five winners will each receive a $25 Visa gift
card and have their videos published on teh FamilySearch indexing
Facebook page. The submission deadline is November 5; see
the FamilySearch blog for contest rules and other details.
- British genealogy website Genes Reunited has added a Keepsafe
feature where the site's members can store digital copies of
their family records, photos and memories. Keepsafes can be public,
private or shared with select others. Also new are Relation
Profiles, where members can view and edit details about people in
their Genes Reunited family trees. Check out the recently
revamped Genes Reunited here.
Ancestry.com | Celebrity Roots | FamilySearch | Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Web Sites | Photos | Social Networking | UK and Irish roots
Friday, October 12, 2012 11:04:26 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Finding Female Ancestors, Searching Online and More: Tips From Virtual Genealogy Conference Experts
Posted by Diane
We're holding live, free Facebook and Twitter chats with our Family
Tree University Virtual Genealogy Conference expert presenters to
give you sneak peeks at the genealogy tips you'll get from this
online family history conference.
We've got three chats to
- Today, Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 4:30 p.m. ET, join our Tweet-up on
Twitter with Gena Philibert-Ortega, who'll be talking about social history and tracing immigrants (we'll be
using hashtag #FTUVC).
Remember to translate the chat times into your time zone. You
don't have to be a Facebook or Twitter member to see the chats, but
you must be a member to post a question.
- Stop by our
Facebook page Thursday, Sept. 13, at 1 p.m. ET to get
Rick Crume's advice on tracking down ancestors in UK civil
registration records and Ireland's Griffith's Valuation.
The chats we've already had are chock-full of research help! Here's where to find them:
Tree University Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference,
taking place online Sept. 14-16, gives you access to 15 video
classes, live chats, our exclusive conference message board, and
our virtual exhibit hall (where you can win prizes by being part
of our exhibitor scavenger hunt).
learn more, visit FamilyTreeUniversity.com. (Pssst!:
You can save $50 on conference registration with coupon code
Family Tree University | Female ancestors | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | immigration records | Research Tips | Social History | Social Networking
Wednesday, September 05, 2012 12:34:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, June 15, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, June 11-15
Posted by Diane
- MyHeritage announced
that it has reached the milestone of one billion MyHeritage.com profiles. The billion profiles are in nearly 23 million
family trees. MyHeritage.com has more than 63 million registered
users who add about a million new profiles every day. About half
of the billion profiles belong to living people.
Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | MyHeritage | Social Networking
Friday, June 15, 2012 10:08:24 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Direct Me NYC Helps You Find New Yorkers in the 1940 Census
Posted by Diane
The New York Public Library (NYPL) has developed an online tool to help you find New York City relatives in the 1940 census and find out more (or share what you know) about the places they lived.
Reading about it makes me wish I had family in New York City in 1940.
At the Direct Me NYC site, you can look up relatives by last name in digitized 1940 New York City phone books.
Then once you have the person's address, you can enter it into a search field to find the census enumeration district (ED) number. Clicking the ED links you to the census records on the National Archives 1940 Census site.
In addition, Direct Me NYC pins the address to both a 1940 map and a contemporary map, so you can see how the area has changed. You also can attach a note to the pin, such as memories, names of those who lived there, what the neighborhood was like, or questions for other researchers. Such a neat tool!
"As people use the site, we’ll build a cultural map of New York in 1940 that will assist both professional historians and laypeople alike," says NYPL spokesperson Kate Stober.
census records | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips | Social Networking
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 8:38:51 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, March 16, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, March 12-16
Posted by Diane
- Genealogy and family network website MyHeritage now has a feature that lets members easily create family calendars. You can choose from 15 designs and 28 languages, and create a calendar in one click. It's automatically decorated with your family photos and populated with birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and other events from your MyHeritage.com family site. You can add or change events and photos, too, and purchase your calendar for as low as $19.95 plus shipping.
- Family tree wiki site WikiTree.com has started a Genealogist-to-Genealogist Sharing Network (aka G2G). It'll allow researchers (whether or not they're WikiTree members) to ask other genealogists for help on topics such as general genealogy, research brick walls, or how to use WikiTree.
- FamilySearch added 20 million new, free records to FamilySearch.org this week for Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, and 13 US states. The release includes 9 million California death records and 5 million Nevada marriage records. See the list of updated databases and link to each one here.
- Florida International University (FIU) has acquired Felix Enrique Hurtado de Mendoza's collection of thousands of books,
handwritten and typed letters, photos and other primary documents
relating to Cuba and Cuban genealogy. They include rare 17th- and
18th-century books, out-of-print publications, and thousands
of unpublished genealogies and family manuscripts. FIU is now raising
funds to create a Cuban center for genealogy centered around this
collection. Read more about the Felix Enrique Hurtado de Mendoza collection here.
FamilySearch | Fold3 | Hispanic Roots | Military records | MyHeritage | Social Networking
Friday, March 16, 2012 9:54:45 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, October 13, 2011
How to Use Google+ for Genealogy
Posted by Allison
Google has given genealogists some very helpful tools—Google Earth, Book Search and News Archive to name three—but maybe you’re nonplussed by Google+.
This new social networking tool has taken the genealogy world by storm, and we won’t let you be left out if we can help it. Our next webinar, Genealogist's Guide to Google+, will show you how to use Google+. Your registration for the live event even includes 30 days of one-on-one tech support from instructor Kerry Scott.
You’ll learn how to get started, set up your “circles,” and take advantage of the genealogical possibilities on Google+. Here’s a sampling of tips Kerry will share:
- Fill out your profile and upload a picture before you start adding friends. If you don't, people may mistake you for a spammer.
- Most genealogists will add you to their circles even if you're a complete stranger … but only if your profile indicates that you're into family history.
- You can have people in multiple circles. Is Aunt Millie into genealogy? Add her to your Family and Genealogy circles, so she sees the cute kid pictures and the big research breakthrough you had at the library last weekend.
- If you're posting something to a specific circle to keep it from being public, make sure you use the "lock this post" feature to prevent others from sharing it. Otherwise, one of your carefully selected circle members can share it with anyone.
The hour-long webinar takes place Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. Eastern (that’s 7 Central, 6 Mountain, 5 Pacific).
In addition to the month of tech support, attendees will get access to the webinar recording to view again as many times as they want,plus a PDF of the presentation slides.
Learn more and register for the Genealogist's Guide to Google+ webinar at ShopFamilyTree.com (for a limited time, our Early Bird registration special saves you 20 percent!).
Editor's Pick | Social Networking | Tech Advice | Webinars
Thursday, October 13, 2011 9:23:10 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, September 16, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, September 12-16
Posted by Diane
- FamilySearch released more searchable records this week, including more than 6 million Hungarian Catholic Church records, 4 million Mexican civil registrations, 1 million new Chinese genealogies (1500 to 1900), and Quebec notarial records (1800 to 1900). US additions come from California, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Washington and the Virgin Islands, plus 1942 WWII draft registrations. See the full list and link to each database here.
- Family tree site Geni introduced its $4.95-per-month Geni Plus service as a level between the free Basic and $12.95 Pro memberships. Genealogists’ frustrated feedback after changes to those memberships led to Geni Plus, intended for social genealogists who want to collaborate with other researchers. It's "designed to give these members more power to build their personal family trees while discovering some of the benefits of working with others on their family history," says CEO Noah Tutak. Features include unlimited relatives in your tree and GEDCOM exports for any profile you can view on Geni (up to 100,000 records). See Geni’s blog for more details.
- Subscription British records site Findmypast.co.uk added a million 20th century merchant navy seamen records—the first time they’re accessible online. They list crew members of UK merchant ships from 1918 to
1941 and include photos.
- This from the New York History blog: If you’re planning to visit Ellis Island and see where many immigrants first entered America, you can download a $1.99 cell phone tour taking you through the immigrant experience. Read more here.
FamilySearch | Hispanic Roots | International Genealogy | Museums | Social Networking | UK and Irish roots
Friday, September 16, 2011 4:49:42 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Brick Wall Tips From the Virtual Conference
Posted by Diane
It was a busy Family Tree University Virtual Conference weekend for us and for our Virtual Conference instructors, Supermoderators Thomas MacEntee and Nancy Hendrickson, and the conference attendees. Thanks to all participants for a great event!
If you missed it, you can order the Virtual Conference video classes for on-demand viewing at ShopFamilyTree.com.
One of my favorite parts of the conference was the live chats, which buzzed with research tips, questions and inspiration. For example, Thomas’ Saturday evening chat, Pick Thomas’ Brain: Ideas on Creative Approaches to Genealogy, was chock full of advice.
I’ve pulled some comments from the chat to share here (I made some edits and added topic headings so the Q&A is easier to follow).
On brick walls:
- Thomas: First, very often I think what we call a brick wall isn't really a brick wall . . .
- Joan: What do you mean by a brick wall not being a brick wall?
- Thomas: To me it is a matter of perhaps not having all the right tools at one's disposal. Or it could be a matter of going back and rechecking spelling, surname variations, etc.
- Allison FTU: A true brick wall is when you have exhausted every possible avenue for research and there is no more information
In many cases, what we refer to as a brick wall is really just an exhaustion of ideas
- Patricia: A Brick Wall to me is having a timeline just end with no leads. Just solved 2 of my brick walls by reviewing current finds in detail as if I was looking at the finds for the first time.
On ancestral adoptions:
- Terri: My brick wall is my grandmother, born and adopted in 1900. I thought her SS application might help, but she apparently fibbed on the application! Gave her adopted info as official
- Kerry: I've used church records to find babies who were baptized prior to their adoption. Not all were adopted at birth.
- Allison FTU: If you know what area she was born in, you might try guardianship records.
- Terri: Are guardianship records civil records, private institutions, what?
- Allison FTU: Guardianships are typically court records. So you do need to know which county to look in.
On going beyond well-known resources:
- Carol: I have a line that went to Nebraska. FamilySearch and Ancestry seem to have nothing and GenealogyBank only later years. Any links for Nebraska?
- Thomas: What time period? Were they Homesteaders?
- Carol P: Late 1800s to early 1900s
On ordering ancestors’ vital records:
- Mary Ann: When I look for birth, marriage, and death certificates in the US, I am taken to sites where it is free for 7 days and then you pay. Is there a good site to find these certificates?
- Thomas: I personally don't recommend those sites. In most cases, if you know how to order them directly from the state or county, it is better and cheaper. What do others think?
- Mary Ann: Yet, the states’ [vital records office websites] are sending me to those sites.
- Kerry: I totally agree; I'd much rather order directly from the source.
- Terri: I have seen some states that use a private online payment service for their records, but there's generally an option to pay the vital records office directly.
- Kerry: Some states (Minnesota, for instance) house records at the state historical society, and you can order (and in some cases, view) them online.
- Thomas: Did you know that some societies have a vital records service where they will, for a much cheaper fee, pull the records? Illinois State Genealogical Society does this for Illinois Death Certificates.
- Mary Kay: Or borrowing microfilm from your local FHC.
On hard-to-trace immigrants and F.A.N. clubs:
- Christine: Ancestor arrived in 1750 from Rotterdam, based on PA baptism records which are German Lutheran—don't have a clue where to start across the pond. Strategy much appreciated....
how to get from point of departure (Rotterdam) in 1750 to where he might have lived...
- Thomas: Have you tried the F.A.N. club approach? Friends, Associates, Neighbors?
Elizabeth Shown Mills uses that F.A.N. club term all the time.
Last night on my radio show, Gail Blankenau from Omaha who specializes in German Parish Records used the term "10 up and 10 down" meaning always go up 10 lines from what you've found and down 10 lines as well.
- Allison-FTU: Christine, have you heard of something called manumission records?
In Germany during the time period, emigrants had to pay a tax to be released from serfdom. The resulting records are manumissions
There's an often-referenced index to German manumissions by Werner Hacker ... let me see if i can find a link
- Christine: Would they have been microfilmed by the Family History Library?
On online research tools:
Family Tree University | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | immigration records | Research Tips | Social Networking | Vital Records
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 9:50:10 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Geni Draws Fire For New User Permissions
Posted by Diane
Geni, a world family tree site where users can build family trees by creating profiles for relatives and ancestors, has made big changes to what paid and free members can do on the site.
In this blog post Aug. 11, Geni announced that free, “Non-Pro” members can no longer add new profiles to the “historical” tree (any public part of the Geni tree) or merge profiles. Free members still can add to their private trees.
Geni Pro subscribers, who pay $4.95 per month for a one-year membership, now “have full permission to add on to, edit, and merge profiles in the historical parts of the tree,” according to the blog post.
Pro users also can search through all the 110 million public profiles on Geni to find relatives to add to their trees. Free members can search and find only their close relatives in the historical tree, as well as profiles they added and profiles they follow.
"Close relatives" means 4th cousins and closer, as well as third-great-grandparents and closer. In-laws are included.
“I'd like to make it clear that Basic (free) users did not lose their ability to view or edit any profiles as part of these changes," says Geni CEO Noah Tutak. “In fact, we did not change view or edit permissions at all. What we did is align permissions in the historical, public sections of the tree, beyond close relatives.”
But comments on Geni's blog post are largely negative. A common theme: Many members, some of whom have added hundreds or thousands of profiles to the site, feel Geni is cutting them off (without advance notice, according to the comments) after encouraging them for years to build its historical tree.
“Losing control” of their public data strikes fear in the hearts of genealogists. They don’t like to idea of others merging their ancestors without having to compare notes first. They have visions of mistaken merges and incorrect names and dates replicating themselves across the internet.
Tutak thinks Geni’s changes will reduce such errors. “These changes were designed to restrict merging to a smaller group of more engaged users, with the goal of increasing data quality,” Tutak says. “If a merge is made in error, the same set of tools are available now as in the past to correct mistakes. In the near future, we'll provide even more robust tools to undo merges that will make correcting these mistakes, which are extremely infrequent, even easier”
Several Pro users commented that they’ll no longer be able to entice relatives—who aren’t likely to purchase Pro subscriptions—to collaborate on building their family trees.
“A member with a free account can build out a large enough tree to get a good feel for the quality of Geni's tools and decide whether or not they would like to use Geni for their entire tree,” says Tutak.
“The number of users contributing to the world [public] family tree is a small percentage of our overall user base, and so far we haven't seen a slowdown in the growth of the tree due to these changes.”
Family tree sites have struggled for years with how to build accurate trees that are large enough to attract additional contributions—that’s why we're still waiting for the trees feature on the new FamilySearch.org to be publicly available. Skewing benefits toward paying users—who, theoretically, are more heavily invested and knowledgeable—is one approach. It’s also likely to anger free members. Many comments on Geni's blog predict that the site won't survive this change.
You can read genealogists’ opinions on the changes at Genea-Musings and Dear Myrtle.
Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 12:57:49 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, May 23, 2011
June 9 Is Ask Archivists Day on Twitter
Posted by Diane
Got a burning question only an archivist could answer? Here’s a great opportunity to ask it: On Ask Archivists Day, a worldwide Twitter event taking place June 9, you can pose an archival question for archivists to address.
Start by following @AskArchivists on Twitter (you'll need a Twitter account, of course). Then on June 9, tweet your question and include the hashtag #AskArchivists. You can direct your question to any archivist who’s joining in, or to a specific participating archive—for example, including @USNatArchives in your tweet directs your question to the US National Archives.
Participating archives in the United States and Canada are listed here (the list is still growing). So far, they include the National Archives, Library of Congress, New York Public Library, North Carolina State Archives, Association des archivistes du Québec, Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management, plus many college and university libraries.
Get more Ask Archivists Day details on the Ask Archivists blog, and of course, by following @AskArchivists on Twitter.
Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives | NARA | Research Tips | Social Networking
Monday, May 23, 2011 11:14:51 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, May 19, 2011
And the Winners Are ...
Posted by Diane
We’re thrilled to announce the winners of our “How I got interested in genealogy” contest with world family tree site Geni.
The winner of the grand prize—a two-year Geni Pro account and a year of Famliy Tree Magazine—is Sadie Morgan of Rossville, Ga.
The second-prize winners, who’ll receive the Family Tree Magazine "Beginners Guide to Genealogy" digital download and a three-month Geni Pro Account, are:
- Kim Cotton
- Lori Pilla
- Laura Ramsay
We're contacting the winners to deliver your prizes. Congratulations to them, and thank you to everyone who entered. We enjoyed reading about how you got into genealogy! (You can see the entries on the Facebook pages for Family Tree Magazine and Geni.)
Genealogy fun | Social Networking
Thursday, May 19, 2011 11:00:34 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, May 02, 2011
You Could Win a Year of Family Tree Magazine and a Geni Pro Account!
Posted by Diane
We’re getting together with world family tree site Geni to give you a chance to win a Geni Pro Account and Family Tree Magazine subscription!
Now through May 8, write a post on the Family Tree Magazine Facebook wall or Geni Facebook wall describing how you first got into genealogy.
One person who posts will be randomly chosen to win a one-year subscription to Family Tree Magazine and a two-year Geni Pro Account.
Three runners up will win a copy of the Family Tree Magazine "Beginners Guide to Genealogy" digital download plus a three-month Geni Pro Account.
Here are the contest rules:
- No purchase necessary.
- Winners will be chosen randomly.
- Odds of winning are directly related to how many people enter the contest.
- One winner will be chosen to win the grand prize. Three will be chosen to win the secondary prize.
- The contest starts at 12AM ET May 1st, 2011, and it ends at 12AM ET May 8, 2011.
- You are responsible for anything in regards to the legality of entering a contest in the area in which you live.
- Rules can be updated at any time without notice.
- The winners will be notified via their provided contact information the week following the end of the contest.
- The winners have seven days to claim their prize.
- One entry per person.
- You must have a free Geni.com account.
- To be eligible to win, you must live in the United States.
Genealogy fun | Social Networking
Monday, May 02, 2011 1:03:17 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
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)
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)
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Favorite Historical Tweeps
Posted by Diane
Twitter has tons of historical trivia to offer. These are some of the fun-to-follow history tweeps I’ve been enjoying (click Comments below to share your favorites):
This online reenactment of the American Revolution will tweet a day-by-day account of the war for eight years.
Tweets of Old
Funny tidbits from old newspapers “attempt to reveal the lives of our predecessors through the tweets of yesteryear.”
Get “today in history” tweets every day, such as this from July 7: “Houdini performed overboard box trick 1st time today in 1912 in East River”
American History Fun Facts
Follow for history trivia, quotes, fun facts and stories from American history.
Humorous Twitter messages from the history books, or, what famous people from history might have tweeted. From Johannes Gutenberg on Oct. 3, 1439: “Finally finished invention. Disappointed to learn that no one can read.”
A secret delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 reports on the events through Twitter: “7/25/1787: Convoluted proposal after proposal on how to elect the president. Make up your minds people!”
Did you know that during the bitter Adams-Jefferson election of 1800,
Martha Washington called Jefferson “one of the most detestable of
mankind.” Get more off-the-wall trivia (not all of it historical) from the
folks behind Mental Floss magazine.
From the Massachusetts Historical Society, peek at John Quincy Adams’ diary, a line at a time.
Monticello staff tweet from Thomas Jefferson’s diary entries 200 years later.
Genealogy fun | Social History | Social Networking
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 9:42:13 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Saturday, April 24, 2010
NARA Social Media Scavenger Hunt Starts Monday
Posted by Diane
Get your game face on for the National Archives and Records Administration’s Civil War–themed social media scavenger hunt, starting at noon next Monday, April 26.
The hunt celebrates the new Discovering the Civil War exhibit opening April 30 at NARA’s Washington, DC headquarters. It’ll send participants scouting for answers across the National Archives' social media sites, including more than a dozen Facebook pages and Flickr, YouTube and Twitter sites.
Visit NARA’s main Facebook page Monday for the scavenger hunt kickoff. Those who complete the hunt and submit their answers will be entered into a drawing for four Discovering the Civil War t-shirts from the NARA gift shop.
For more details and rules, see NARA's facebook page.
Genealogy fun | Libraries and Archives | Social Networking
Saturday, April 24, 2010 5:00:18 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, April 16, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: April 12 to 16
Posted by Diane
- Going to the National Genealogical Society conference starting April 28 in Salt Lake City? Stop by the Generation Maps exhibit hall booth Wednesday, April 28, from 2 to 5 p.m., for a Family ChArtist debut party. They’ll have refreshments, discounts, drawings, and demos of this online service for creating family trees.
- Archives.com (formerly GenealogyArchives) released a free internet search feature that scours several online genealogy resources, such as FamilySearch. To use this search, go to Archives.com and run a search on the homepage (if you’re a member of the site, you must be logged out). Web results will be listed below a summary of Archives.com results.
- You can get a seven-day free trial membership to search Archives.com’s own collection of 1.2 billion records and create a family tree on the site. Regular subscriptions cost $39.95 per year.
- British subscription and pay-per-view genealogy site Familyrelatives.com released a new batch of school and clergy records. School records might range from student registers to mini-biographies. Clergy lists name 200,000 members of Anglican and Catholic clergy for England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
- The Library of Congress will preserving every public tweet since Twitter’s inception in March 2006—that’s billions and billions of Tweets. See the library’s announcement for more details and some interesting discussion.
Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Social Networking | UK and Irish roots
Friday, April 16, 2010 1:05:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Genealogy Pages to Fan on Facebook
Posted by Diane
As more and more genealogy organizations create profiles (called fan pages) on Facebook, you can keep tabs on societies, repositories and businesses just as easily as you stay in touch with friends.
Once you’ve "fanned" an organization (see how-tos at the end of this post), its status updates show up in your feed just like your friends’ updates do. They’ll include fun facts, resource highlights, research tips, news, event information, sale announcements and requests for feedback. On the organization’s page, you’ll see wall posts from other fans who share your interests.
Here are some types of organizations to consider fanning (to give you examples, I've included links to some fan pages I found):
You can fan an organization by going to its fan page and clicking the “Become a fan” button at the top:
If your feed tells you that your friend Joe Smith became a friend of the Springfield History Museum, you can click the accompanying link to become a fan, too, or to visit the museum’s fan page. Similarly, if you get a notification that someone suggested you become a fan of an organization, you'll see a “Become a fan” link and a "Learn more" link.
To search for fan pages, type an organization’s name into the search box in the upper right corner of your Facebook page.
If you want to unfan an organization, that’s easy, too: Just go to the fan page and click “Remove me from fans” near the bottom of the left margin.
Thursday, January 21, 2010 3:33:54 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
March 2010 Family Tree Magazine and Your Genealogy Resolutions
Posted by Diane
The March 2010 Family Tree Magazine hit newsstands Jan. 5 with articles I think will mesh nicely with 2010 genealogy resolutions you may be formulating. For example:
Resolution: Polish your genealogy research skills.
Article: Assess your genealogical fitness level with the survey in “Shaping Up,” then read how to brush up in areas where you need more knowledge. Links direct you to a range of classes (with plenty of free options), websites, books and organizations that can help researchers from beginners to experts learn a thing or two.
Resolution: Enhance your family’s story with social history
Article: Learn how ancestors came into the world in “We Deliver for You,” an overview of childbirth practices in your grandmothers’ and great-mothers’ days. You’ll also find out about birth, hospital and midwives’ records.
Resolution: Break through your brick wall and figure out whatever happened to Great-great-grandpa.
Article: Maybe a weather event, epidemic, workplace accident or other disaster befell your forebear. “Flirting With Disaster” helps you find death records, newspapers and other sources that may name victims of unfortunate occurrences.
Resolution: Get with the times and equip yourself to digitize photos, record oral histories, back up your hard drive and more.
Article: “Go Go Gadgets” (my favorite title in the issue) explains what to look for in seven tech tools: an Internet connection, all-in-one printer/scanner/copier, digital camera, external hard drive, digital voice recorder, GPS unit and USB flash drive. For each device, we include a chart comparing popular models.
Resolution: Get with the times and figure out Twitter.
Article: Our Toolkit Tutorial illustrates the anatomy of a Tweet, defines Twitter terminology (such as tweep and hashtag) and gets you started on this fast-paced social network.
Resolution: Keep your family connected.
Article: A family website is one way to stay in touch. Our MyHeritage Web Guide outlines how to use a tree on MyHeritage to do research and connect with kin.
The March 2010 Family Tree Magazine has even more articles, including a guide to tracing Puerto Rican roots, facts about color photography and new sources helping African-American genealogists overcome research obstacles.
Look for the issue in your favorite bookstore, or visit ShopFamilyTree.com to purchase a digital download or order a print copy.
African-American roots | Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles | Social History | Social Networking | Tech Advice | Vital Records
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 2:54:31 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Share Ancestry.com Finds on Facebook and Twitter
Posted by Allison
Ancestry.com added a nifty new feature yesterday: You can now share records with your Facebook friends or Twitter followers in one click.
Simply click the Share This Record link in the Page Tools box on the record page (where you land after clicking a search result, not the image viewer), then select Facebook or Twitter from the drop-down menu.
Type a status update message and submit—the record and a link to it will show up on your Facebook wall or in your Twitter feed, like this census page I shared on Facebook.
For now, the feature only works with historical record images. But if response warrants, VP of Product Eric Shoup says it will be rolled out to photos, stories and other areas of the site.
Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Wednesday, October 07, 2009 2:27:32 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, October 05, 2009
Family Tree 40 Blog Voting is Open
Posted by Grace
Voting is now open for the Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy Blogs (“Family Tree 40” for short).
Go to FamilyTreeMagazine.com to vote. Voting takes place from Oct. 5 to Nov. 5, and you can vote more than once. We grouped the nominated blogs into categories, and you'll be asked to vote for a specified number of blogs in each category. (We aimed to have you vote for a quarter of the total number of blogs in each category, but rounded the number in some cases because, well, you can't vote for half a blog.)
URLs are included on the voting form, so you can check out the blogs if you want. For those who wonder how the categories were determined, here's a rundown:
All-aroundThe top 80 vote-getting blogs will make it through to a "final" round, and our editorial staff will select 40 blogs from that list. The Family Tree 40 will be announced in the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine and in the Genealogy Insider e-mail newsletter. You also can follow us on Twitter for contest updates (we'll use the hashtag #FT40).
These bloggers give you a little (or a lot) of everything: news, research advice, their own family stories, photos, opinions and more. There’s no one quite like the Genealogue, so we thought about that blog for awhile. It landed in this category because the Genealogue posts a satirical take on genealogy news, holds occasional research challenges and blogs about his own family history every so often.
These blogs primarily cover the blogger's (or, in a case or two or more, bloggers') own research and ancestors. Family historians write what they know and what’s important to them, so this is our biggest category.
Most posts in these blogs cover resources, genealogy events and history for a city, town, state or region.
These blogs focus on cemetery research, gravestone photos and the like.
Content on these blogs is primarily about sharing, researching and preserving family photos and/or heirlooms.
Here, blog content focuses on a particular heritage group, such as African-American, Jewish or Irish. We had some tough decisions in this category, as some family-related genealogy blogs by nature also examine that family’s ethnic heritage.
Blogs in this category deliver a range of genealogy news and information about new resources.
These blogs have instructional content on genealogical resources and methodology. In some cases, bloggers wrote about their own research and ancestors, but framed posts in an instructional manner.
Blogs in this category are written on behalf of a genealogy company, and contain helpful (but not overly advertising-oriented) information on the company’s products, as well as other resources.
Blogs that are primarily about genetic genealogy and family health history.
Click here to get voting!
By the way, feel free to grab either of the little logos below to promote your blog or someone else's!
Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Monday, October 05, 2009 9:37:39 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Hitting the genealogy jackpot
Posted by Jamie
I have previously explained to you the difficulty in tracing the Royce line of my family tree because of issues with my grandfather’s paternity. Well, I have busted through that brick wall and have made my way to my great-great-grandfather James Henry Royse of Fleming County, Ky.
Frequent name, location and even wife changes (every generation in my direct Royce line from my father to my great-great-grandfather has had multiple wives) made my research difficult.
While working at Family Tree Magazine
, I've had to go through the entire catalog of back issues, so I have learned a wealth of ways to trace my roots as well as sharpen my searching skills. One of the back issues suggested looking at forums or joining a Listserv to see who else is researching your family tree. I stumbled across a distant cousin on GenForum who had replied to a post about the Royse family of Fleming County, Ky., in which he referenced an ancestor with a name and birth date similar to someone in my line.
He had left his e-mail address, so I wrote him with all of the details I had about our potential common ancestor. I received a speedy reply that indicated we weren’t talking about the same ancestor, but he did have research on my collateral line. My new-found cousin then kindly made copies of everything he had on my branch and mailed it to me.
I didn’t know what to expect, but when I received the information I raced to open it. At first I glanced over it and saw that the earliest ancestor listed was Thomas Royce, born 1569 in Martock, Somersetshire, England. I then scanned the list looking for James Henry Royse, which my cousin had kindly highlighted for me, and all of the information listed matched my research from the censuses, FamilySearch and other resources I had used on Ancestry.com.
I then read the whole document through and learned a great deal about my family. My ninth-great-grandfather, Robert Royce, was a constable and was elected to the First General Assembly of New London, Conn. My seventh-great-grandfather, John Royce, and sixth-great-grandfather, Moses Royce, both had trouble with Indians, as John died from an Indian attack on his Pennsylvania farm and Moses’ wife was kidnapped by Indians, never to be heard from again.
My fifth-great-grandfather was quite a character. Arron Royce/Royse fought in the battle of Fort Duquesne during the French and Indian War with Col. George Washington and General Braddock. They were captured by the French, and Arron, Daniel Boone and Washington all escaped. He also served as a captain in the Revolutionary War (apparently, I need to get my Daughters of the American Revolution
application ready). Arron also is responsible for changing the family name from Royce to Royse, after a fight with his brother John that caused Arron to even move to Fleming County.
This all leads back to my great-great-grandfather James. His son, Allen Taylor Royse, who isn’t in my direct line, decided to change our family name back to Royce. That explains why some census years and other records list the last name as Royse in some cases and Royce in others for James’ family.
Full-fledged fact or family folklore? We shall see. Of course this all needs to be verified through my own research, but that shouldn’t be too hard as my cousin cited all of his sources. And even if he hadn’t, at least his research would have been a great guide for me to trace my family tree.
Family Tree Firsts | Social Networking
Wednesday, September 16, 2009 12:16:39 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, July 16, 2009
GenealogyWise Is Down
Posted by Diane
GenealogyWise, FamilyLink's social networking site that has surged in popularity after just over a week online, is down this morning. We'll keep an eye on it and let you know what we hear.
Update: FamilyLink CEO Paul Allen tweeted that GenealogyWise is down due to a DNS (Domain Name System) problem, which is being fixed, but it'll be awhile before the site is available again.
FamilyLink | Social Networking
Thursday, July 16, 2009 8:45:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, July 10, 2009
Genealogy News Corral: July 6-10
Posted by Diane
Some of the genealogy news bits we rounded up this week:
- The Genealogy Guys will record their podcast before a live audience at the Federation of Genealogical Societies
conference. The audience will get to submit questions for
possible inclusion in the podcast. The conference is Sept. 2 to 5 in
Little Rock, Ark.; the podcast recording is 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept.
3. Look for location information at the conference.
- Geni is offering a free two-week trial of its Geni Pro premium service, which includes more stats, matches and member collaboration than the free basic service. (Geni Pro subscriptions are normally $4.95 per month.)
- Ancestry.com’s subscription-based Canadian site, Ancestry.ca, has added French Deaths by Guillotine 1792-1796, with 13,000 names of French citizens executed during the Reign of Terror. The names come from a book written in 1796 by a French journalist.
- ProQuest, the creator of the HeritageQuest genealogy service, ProQuest Historical Newspapers and other databases for libraries, is working on a new search platform that’ll make I easier to find information related to your genealogy search. Expected launch is 2010.
The company is also adding Boston’s Jewish Advocate (1905 to 1990), Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent (1887 to 1990) and the Detroit Free Press to Proquest Historical Newspapers.
Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy | Newspapers | Podcasts | Social Networking
Friday, July 10, 2009 4:08:53 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
FamilyLink Launches "Facebook for Genealogists"
Posted by Diane
FamilyLink has launched a new social networking site especially for genealogists called GenealogyWise.
Randy Seaver, whose Genea-Musings blog clued us in to the quiet launch of GenealogyWise, has posted some screenshots and thoughts. FamilyLink likely invited a small group to join so the site will already be lively when an official announcement goes out.
GenealogyWise does appear to be buzzing with activity. Similar to Facebook, you create a profile, find friends, set up groups, upload photos and invite people to events. There’s also a discussion forum, blog and video areas any GenealogyWise member can contribute to, a genealogy search (this links you to the World Vital Records subscription site), a store (also goes to World Vital Records) and a chat area.
FamilyLink is also owner of World Vital Records, the We’re Related and MyFamily Facebook applications, WorldHistory.com interactive history site, and several other ventures.
Interestingly, FamilyLink has another genealogy social network, FamilyHistoryLink, launched in 2007 as FamilyLink (it was renamed when the company took FamilyLink as its corporate name). FamilyHistoryLink still wears a beta label and looks dated in comparison to GenealogyWise. I wonder if FamilyLink will phase it out?
Facebook has a well-established genealogy community, with more than 500 genealogy groups and several genealogy applications. Can GenealogyWise compete?
Would you stick with the all-encompassing Facebook, switch to GenealogyWise’s dedicated genealogy network, or use both—or neither? Let us know by clicking Comments below.
FamilyLink | Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 11:01:37 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, June 26, 2009
Genealogy News Corral: June 22-26
Posted by Diane
Here are some of the news items we rounded up this week:
The conference is Sept. 2-5 in Little Rock, Ark.
- The New England Historic and Genealogical Society is organizing a few genealogy research trips, led by expert genealogists. Groups are headed to St. John’s, Newfoundland, July 12-19; the NEHGS Library in Boston Aug. 10-15; Edinburgh, Scotland, Sept. 20-27; and Salt Lake City Oct. 25-Nov. 1.
Find more details and prices on NEHGS’ events calendar.
- Keep an eye on Miriam Midkiff's city directories portal Online City, County and Rural Directories. This week, she's added links to directories from more than a dozen US states and several Canadian provinces.
Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Friday, June 26, 2009 3:13:56 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
New Networking Features Coming Soon to Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane
I got a preview yesterday of Ancestry.com’s new Member Connect feature, a collection of social networking tools that will roll out in the next month or two along with the new image viewer.
The idea behind Member Connect, explained Ancestry.com product manager David Graham, is to put you in touch with others who are interested in the same family lines.
Some aspects, such as being able see who's commented on records, are similar to those on records site Footnote.
Member connect has a few components integrated into Ancestry.com searches and family trees:
- When you search and view a record, you'll see member names of Ancestry.com users who’ve edited the record (for example, by entering an alternate transcription of the name), or saved the record to a tree or shoebox.
You’ll also get suggestions for related message boards (such as the Roberts surname board for your search on Jeremiah Roberts) and people who’ve listed related research interests in their profiles (for example, others looking for Robertses in Muncie, Ind.). Then you can visit that person’s tree or contact him through the site.
- A tab in your Ancestry.com member tree will show you other members’ ancestors who may match people in your tree. If the match looks promising, a Connect button links the trees and shows you more details—including buttons highlighting new or conflicting information. You can remove the connection altogether, or click the buttons to decide what to do with each fact: keep the new information out of your tree, it as an alternate fact, or use it to replace your information.
You also can contact the member with the matching tree through Ancestry.com to thank him or ask about any errors. This way, the “good data” in Ancestry.com trees will become more prominent than erroneous data, Graham says.
Graham promises Ancestry.com will respect your privacy if you don’t want people to see whether you’ve saved a record to your shoebox or added someone new to your tree. You’ll be able to set privacy preferences in your account profile.
- As you link to others’ trees, you build a network of researchers—called “connections”—who share your genealogical interests. More tabs show you your connections’ activity related to people common to both trees, including updated information and records and new records added.
People on your trees whom Ancestry.com believes are living (no death date and born less than a hundred or so years ago) won’t show up as potential matches.
Update: We've added Member Connect screen shots and a link to Ancestry.com's preview page here.
Ancestry.com | Social Networking
Wednesday, June 17, 2009 1:21:07 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, June 15, 2009
Flexible Family Trees Among Arcalife Features
Posted by Diane
We recently got a guided tour of Arcalife, a family tree-building site based in Britain that launched in beta at February’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in London. The site is growing by as many as 3,000 members a month, and is gaining a foothold on this site of the Atlantic.
You get 500 MB of storage with a free account. Paid accounts come with more storage and features.
I’ve been playing around with Arcalife, and though (as for most any beta site) some functions are under construction, it looks promising. You can or will be able to do some cool things, including:
- Build a flexible family tree with people on “nodes” you can move around to change the shape of your tree. You can add siblings, step-parents, partners and other family members who wouldn’t make it onto traditional trees, and set up a profile for each one. You also can modify two individuals’ relationship.
- Print your tree with an easy-to-use tool that lets you resize the tree, print on multiple pages, and see where the edges of pages will fall.
- Invite relatives to add to their Life Archives (or you can do so on behalf of deceased people) by following writing prompts designed to tease out everything from “Rules We Live By” to “First Real Job.”
- Also under Life Archives, fill out Life Experiences for your ancestors and use them to generate a scrolling timeline set to music. (The timeline feature is “limited” for free accounts.)
- Create a memoir in easy chunks by answering a series of questions.
- Upload photos and video in the Media Archive (under Life Showcases) and turn them into a gallery or “Life Cube” slideshow (also limited for free accounts). You can import photos from Facebook and other social networking sites.
- Search the FamilySearch Record Search Pilot and the rest of the Web from within Arcalife.
- Generate a virtual time capsule of images and stories, choose people to send it to and designate a future date to unlock it.
- You’ll eventually be able to use fee-based services for conducting oral history interviews, printing large family trees, converting photos or videotapes to digital and more.
Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Monday, June 15, 2009 1:53:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
10 Ways to Use Twitter for Genealogy
Posted by Diane
Twitter isn’t just a place to exchange meaningless thoughts in 140 characters or fewer. For plenty of people, it’s a place to meet and learn from people who share your interests. Genealogy, for example.
Here’s how family historians can use Twitter in their research:
1. Find other genealogists. Click Find People to search for folks with genealogy in their username. If you regularly read a blog, look on the blog for a link to Twitter. Once you find people you like following, see who they follow (listed on the right side of the person's Twitter profile).
2. Learn about research resources. Many bloggers (including yours truly) feed their posts to Twitter, so you click the "tweet" to see the whole post. You’ll also pick up tips in people’s tweets about the latest records they’ve found.
3. Get opinions on genealogy Web sites and products.
4. Ask questions. You can just throw it out to your followers, or direct your question to someone using @ and the user name, like this: @FamilyTreeMag.
5. Be heard by people who work at genealogy companies. Use Find People to search for the company name.
6. Get links to how-to advice. Tweets are 140 characters at most, but people often link to helpful articles they’ve found online.
7. Hear about industry news. It’s like having thousands of eyes and ears looking for even obscure and not-yet-announced stories. If you see RT in a tweet, that means someone is repeating the tweet of someone he or she follows—you can see how the news gets around.
8. See how funny genealogists can be. One to follow: @TheGenealogue
9. Find events. Genealogy societies, libraries, museums, and conferences often tweet upcoming events.
10. Get cheap stuff. Many companies use Twitter to publicize sales and giveaways (some are exclusive to Twitter followers). Online backup service @Mozy, for example, has regular Twitter giveaways.
To sign up for a Twitter account, go to Twitter.com and click Get Started—Join. Then follow Family Tree Magazine at @FamilyTreeMag.
Research Tips | Social Networking
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 3:53:01 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, May 18, 2009
New Podcast Episode Has Census Tips and More
Posted by Diane
The latest episode of the free Family Tree Magazine podcast delivers census records help, genealogy social networking tips and more.
In this May 2009 episode, Curt Witcher, who manages the renowned genealogy department at the Allen County Public Library, chats with host Lisa Louise Cooke about special “non-population” census records and how to glean important genealogical information from them. Contributing editor David A. Fryxell serves up creative tips for using the census. And Justin Schroepfer, marketing director for historical records subscription site Footnote talks about I Remember, a brand new Facebook application just launched this month.
Listen now at FamilyTreeMagazine.com or in iTunes. Click below for RSS subscriptions options:
↑ Grab this Headline Animator
census records | Podcasts | Social Networking
Monday, May 18, 2009 2:02:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, May 04, 2009
Create Facebook Pages for Family With New Footnote App
Posted by Diane
has created a new Facebook
app that lets you create an “I Remember” Facebook page for someone, with photos and stories about the person. Others can add memories, too, by writing on the person's wall.
Here's an example of an I Remember Facebook page:
What's written on the Facebook I Remember page also shows up in the Comments section on the person’s Person page on Footnote:Go here to learn more and download the free I Remember app to your Facebook page
Footnote is a subscription-based historical records site, but it also has free social networking features that let you create Footnote Pages about people, places or events.
You must be be a registered Footntoe member—but you don't have to subscribe—in order to create or add to a Footnote Page. You can search existing Footnote pages here
Footnote | Social Networking
Monday, May 04, 2009 3:03:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, April 27, 2009
Be First to Try FamilyTeller Online Community
Posted by Diane
We first met Matt Unger over the Internet when associate editor Grace Dobush covered his Papa’s Diary Project blog—
where he transcribes and annotates his grandfather’s diary one day’s entry at a time—for the May 2008 Family Tree Magazine
Unger sent us a note this week—seems he heard from a lot of people asking for advice on creating similar projects with their own family materials. They inspired him to put his Web development and publishing background to work on an online community called FamilyTeller
In Unger's own words, FamilyTeller “will allow people to more easily scan, organize, annotate and share family artifacts on the Web.”
Can you beta test this new service? For a discounted subscription rate, you’d get assistance digitizing and uploading documents and photos, automatically catalog and organize them, try a few transcriptions, create a blog-style Web site to share with your family, and more—as well as, of course, provide feedback on your experiences with the site.
Benefits include lifetime discounts on subscription and service fees, plus the chance to influence what the site will be like.
Wanna try it? Fill out this online form
and Unger will contact you.
Celebrating your heritage | Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Monday, April 27, 2009 9:20:25 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Obama Cousin Prank Pays Off for FamilyLink
Posted by Diane
Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Wednesday, April 01, 2009 3:19:54 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, March 27, 2009
Genealogy News Corral, March 22-27
Posted by Diane
Here's our roundup of the week's genealogy news:
- It moved around a bit, but NBC’s "Who Do You Think You Are?" premiere looks to be set for April 20.
- With help from actor Richard Dreyfuss, the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) announced this year’s list of the 10 Most Endangered Civil War Battlefields—Gettysburg, Pa., Cedar Creek, Va., and Spring Hill, Tenn., all made the unfortunate cut.
Want to help? You can start by helping spruce up battlefields on CWPT’s Park Day April 4.
Genealogy Events | Historic preservation | Social Networking
Friday, March 27, 2009 3:35:41 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Facebook Targets Families With New Groups Page
Posted by Diane
blogger pointed out Facebook
's new landing page for members to set up private groups for extended family.
You already could set up private groups; this is just a way to get families to do it. Facebook may be trying to capitalize on the success of genealogy applications such as FamilyLink
’s We’re Related and FamilyBuilder
’s FamilyTree.The landing page is here
(you’ll have to log in to Facebook if you’re not already). It lets you name your family group and invite relatives already on Facebook and those not yet on Facebook. Then you can share photos and information just with this group.More details and commentary on AllFacebook
Family Reunions | Social Networking
Friday, March 27, 2009 8:54:43 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)