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<2007 June>

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# Friday, 01 June 2007
What's Wrong With Connecticut's Public Records Laws?
Posted by Diane

Connecticut-based Godfrey Memorial Library has become one of the state-approved genealogical societies whose members can get copies of Connecticut birth records.

Access to that state's certified birth records less than 100 years old is limited to the person named in the certificate, legal guardians, spouses, grandparents, grandchildren, certain officials—and genealogy society members.

I suppose we should be thankful the records aren’t closed altogether. But I'm going to complain anyway, and here's why:

First, the law goes against the concept of public records. To get a record, you not only have to prove your identity and your relationship to the person, and pay a fee ($5 to request records from town offices; $15 to request them from the state), you also have to join a special club. Why should genealogists have any more right to a birth certificate than, say, engineers?

Second, the state is, in effect, abdicating its own responsibility to safeguard these records. Instead, it's putting genealogy societies in charge of them. Do you think local genealogy societies are screening members and denying applications of potential terrorists and identity thieves? If someone wants to use your Connecticut birth record for nefarious purposes, do you really think he’ll be scared off by the Godfrey Library's $35 annual fee?

What’s the point of closing the records if anyone can join a genealogical society and get any birth record?

Public Records
Friday, 01 June 2007 17:40:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Ode to Interlibrary Loan
Posted by Diane

Usually I stick to writing prose, but recent family research developments inspired me to go all poetic:

What would I do without thee, interlibrary loan?
Texas prison records were far away, I bemoaned.
The Lone Star State Archives on its Web site
listed microfilm offering ancestral insight.
But alas, how could I travel to Austin
With what the airline tickets are costin’?
Then I spied words lovely to behold:
“Interlibrary loan,” right there in bold.
All I need do was make an inquiry
at the reference desk of my local library.
Nary four weeks nigh, I received the voice mail
The film now awaited—I could barely exhale!
A $5 fee and I, to a microfilm reader,
Ran quicker (well, almost) than Derek Jeter.
Some scrolling and—my ancestor! My very own
Genealogical revelation, thanks to interlibrary loan.

Seriously, if you're searching the online catalog of some faraway library and it has the microfilm you need, and you're considering taking out a second mortgage to make the trip there, see if the library participates interlibrary loan. If it does, print the catalog page and take it directly to your library's reference or circulation desk, and ask to submit an interlibrary loan request.

Want helpful hints on using interlibrary loan? The April 2006 Family Tree Magazine has what you're looking for.

Genealogy fun | Research Tips
Friday, 01 June 2007 08:51:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 29 May 2007
A Few New Databases
Posted by Diane

We put our ears to the ground this week and heard about a few databases recently online:

The Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project
Browse (by year) or search (by keyword) digitized versions of The Jewish Criterion (1895 to 1962), The American Jewish Outlook (1934 to 1962), and The Jewish Chronicle (1962 to the present).

Search results show up as codes (rather than an article title or other clue to whether the match is relevant) consisting of an abbreviation for the newspaper name and the publication year. Click the code to see the article; click again for a larger one. The search uses Optical Character Recognition—a robot that scans articles for words resembling your search terms. Bad scans and stray ink spots can confuse the robot, so you might end up with odd results.

Genealogical Forum of Oregon Indexes
This Portland-based genealogical society has been busy indexing its records. Find your ancestor, then order photocopies of the original records for $5 each.

Multnomah County marriage records, 1855-1907: Browse these records by choosing a year range, then the first surname on the page where your ancestor should appear.

WWI Draft registrations: Browse 176,862, names of Oregon registrants by surname. (Look for a guide to researching WWI ancestors in the November 2007 Family Tree Magazine).

Oregon Obituaries: Many in this growing index were born in the 1800s and early 1900s. Browse by surname; results show the newspaper title and publication date, plus the GFO’s filing information.

Oregonians in the 1890 veterans schedule: Information from this special census schedule can substitute for the burned 1890 US census.

Little Rock National Cemetery
The webmaster of Arkansas Ties photographed the entire cemetery, then posted (for burials through 2002) a surname index to the tombstone photos online. As a memorial tribute, images are available (five per person per week) free by mail.

Boston Streets
This cool site has four sections: Moments (100 years of street scenes); People (city directories from 1845, 1855, 1865, 1870, 1872, 1875, 1885, 1905 and 1925); Places (atlases from 1874, 1898 and 1928); and “Cowpaths” (named for the cute but false story that Boston streets meander because they trace old bovine trails, this map-based tool plots information from the other databases).

You can search the contents of the first three sections separately. Or, plot the location of your ancestor’s city directory listing or a photograph on a Cowpaths map. You start in Cowpaths by assigning different search criteria to up to four map layers—the red Visual Materials layer is for photos—then view the layers together or individually.

I’m finding Cowpaths a bit tricky to use, so be sure to read the instructions you get by clicking Help. I never did get the source of the plotted information to show up in the information display area below the map—let me know if you're more successful.

Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 29 May 2007 16:55:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 24 May 2007
Well, hello there!
Posted by Grace

Welcome to the Genealogy Insider blog, your source for Family Tree Magazine’s user-friendly take on what’s happening inside the genealogy industry. That means we’ll not only give you the news, we’ll also tell you what it means to your genealogy research.

Along the way, I’ll share expert research tips, behind-the-scenes peeks at life inside the cubicle walls of the country's best-selling how-to genealogy magazine, and the occasional random (and ideally, highly entertaining) thought. All with the hope of inspiring and furthering your family history search—and keeping it fun.

So, let’s get this party started!

Thursday, 24 May 2007 12:53:33 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
Nine Steps to Civil War Ancestors
Posted by Diane

The July 2007 Family Tree Magazine makes researching Civil War soldiers doable for anyone, with nine steps to uncovering genealogical records on Union and Confederate ancestors. Here's a quick overview of the steps:

1. Search the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System.

2. Order your ancestor's Compiled Military Service Records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

3. Seek the soldier's pension file, at NARA for Union soldiers and state archives for Confederate soldiers.

4. Look for NARA's records of the first US military draft, enacted in 1863.

5. Consult your ancestral state censuses and the 1890 US census schedule of Union veterans and widows (extant for states alphabetically from Kentucky through Wyoming).

6. Research records of veterans organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic (post records are usually at state historical societies and archives) and United Confederate Veterans (on Family History Library microfilm).

7.  Find cemetery records using sources such as the Department of Veterans Affiars National Gravesite Locator.

8. Get the back story on your ancestor's regiment—the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System can get you started here, too, with its regimental histories.

9. Look for digital maps and images on Web sites such as the Library of Congress' American Memory collection.

You can find thorough how-tos and additional resources for each of these steps in the July 2007 Family Tree Magazine, available now on newsstands and at

Research Tips | Family Tree Magazine articles
Thursday, 24 May 2007 09:45:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
Free Military Records 'til June 6
Posted by Diane has made access to its military records collection free through June 6 to commemorate the anniversary of D-Day, when the Normandy invasion began in 1944. You can both search and download record images (you'll need to register with the site before viewing records).

I found my great-grandfather's WWII draft registration card, which he signed April 26, 1942, when he was 61 years old. This "old man's registration" called on men born from April 28, 1877, to Feb. 16, 1897. It's the only WWII draft registration available to the public.

Now if only I could find a WWI draft registration card for him, which would fill in a big genealogical gap...

Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 24 May 2007 09:24:22 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Wednesday, 23 May 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, 23 May 2007 16:55:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
News From NGS
Posted by Allison

Where better to hold a genealogy gathering than the backyard of America’s first permanent English colony?

For this year’s National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference, last week in Richmond, Va., organizers joined in Jamestown’s 400th anniversary celebration: The keynote session explored virtual resources for studying Jamestown’s history, and a descendant of settler John Rolfe and Pocahontas entertained the banquet audience.

With nearby Civil War battlefields, Revolutionary-era sites and Colonial Willliamsburg, Richmond proved a popular location—around 2,000 genealogists reportedly attended the conference this year, up from recent years’ turnout.

Those who stopped by the Family History Fair in the Richmond Convention Center learned of new and forthcoming genealogical products and services. If you didn’t make it—or missed the announcements—here’s the scoop:

• Visitors to the Family History Library’s booth got a sneak peek at the revamped search interface coming to the FamilySearch Web site. The new system not only integrates information from FamilySearch’s various databases, its results also will link to digitized records—though only a tiny fraction of the library’s vast holdings will be available when the site relaunches this fall. (But more record images will be coming online soon: See “Not-So-Silent Partners.”) Booth workers also showed off the easy-to-use FamilySearch Indexing  system—built to help volunteers index the library’s billions of records for eventual online searching. Indexing efforts have ramped up recently; the 1900 census is now in progress (view the list of current projects).

• Several software manufacturers demonstrated new versions of genealogy programs. Incline Software’s Ancestral Quest 12, for example, adds the ability to input DNA testing results and a summary screen for each individual in your file, among other improvements. Version 12 costs $29.95, or you can upgrade for $19.95. Incline also showed off version 2 of PAFWiz, a $24.95 companion to the free Personal Ancestral File software. Look for a review of both programs in the November 2007 Family Tree Magazine.

GenSmarts 2, a $29.95 utility that analyzes your data and suggests next steps, lets you save and export your reports to more file formats (including PDF). It also introduces new reports and the ability to analyze only selected parts of your file. If you purchased the program this year, you get a free upgrade—earlier purchasers get a $10 discount.

• staffers previewed a soon-to-come edition of Family Tree Maker, produced by parent company The Generations Network. If you use Family Tree Maker, you can expect a significant makeover in the next upgrade. The company also promoted Ancestry Press, an online service that will automatically create a book from your family tree on

The biggest news from NGS was the announcement of several partnerships to make more ancestral data and records available to you online—read “Not-So-Silent Partners” for more on this.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 23 May 2007 14:33:49 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Meet Bob
Posted by Diane

If he looks familiar, it’s because he was our Geared-up Genealogist model in the July 2007 Family Tree Magazine.

Bob is not a professional model—I found him at the Y on a stationary bike. He’s what my mom would call a ham, so I knew he’d be just right. Don't you agree he did a good job of evoking the inimitable mood of a genealogist about to make astounding ancestral discoveries? (That's without jarring even one of the things tucked into all the pockets.)

Bob isn’t into genealogy (gasp!). I'll be sure to pass on any comments you post convincing him he needs to be.

Family Tree Magazine articles
Wednesday, 23 May 2007 12:07:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]