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# Monday, July 02, 2007
Preview FamilySearch's New Record Search
Posted by Allison

You’ve probably heard about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ ambitious plans to index and digitize all the millions of records in its collection and make them available for free on its FamilySearch Web site.

Now you can get a taste of what’s to come: FamilySearch Labs has added its new record searching interface to the roster of projects the public can preview.

FamilySearch spokesperson Paul Nauta says this system will let genealogists search Family History Library microfilms that have been digitized to date, as well as digital images of genealogical records as they’re acquired from the field. The system also allows for quicker posting of the indexes being generated by volunteers through FamilySearch Indexing. It'll be part of the new, revamped FamilySearch site the church plans to roll out this fall.

To see a demo, go to FamilySearch Labs and click Record Search, then select the link to watch the Getting Started video. You can also get a sneak peek at the  Pedigree Viewer (for online family trees) and Life Browser (for saving and sharing photos and stories).

Click Comments below for information from Diane on how the search works.


Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, July 02, 2007 4:54:32 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, June 29, 2007
Occupations of Our Ancient Ancestors
Posted by Allison

If our ancestors scoured today’s help wanted ads, they’d probably find many modern jobs baffling (Application Systems Support Engineer? Analytics Consulting Analyst?). But their occupations are often equally bewildering to us, especially the further back in time you go.

Case in point: This morning, I heard a radio interview with Vicki Leon, author of Working IX to V, a new book about professions in the ancient world. Consider a few of the career opportunities for our long, long ago ancestors:

  • Flabellifer—Primary job function is carrying a fan and flapping it on command.
  • Sandaligerula—Seeking highly motivated sandal remover. This position is responsible for changing boss’ street shoes and party slippers, and ensuring he or she is wearing situationally appropriate footwear at all times.
  • Praepositus camelorum—Only the best in beast supplying need apply. Must demonstrate proven ability to track, capture and supply animals used in Roman gladiatorial contests and circuses.
  • Armpit Plucker—Steady hand and high tolerance to shrieking strongly preferred.
You’ll find a glossary of occupations your more-recent ancestors might’ve worked on our Web site, and a guide to researching employment records in our April 2005 issue.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Social History
Friday, June 29, 2007 11:11:17 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, June 28, 2007
Ancestry.com Adds Indian Censuses, French and Italian Sites
Posted by Allison

From 1885 to 1940, the US government required American Indian reservations to take annual censuses of their members. Those census rolls, microfilmed by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), serve as a good starting place for genealogists investigating American Indian ancestry.

“For the early years, they help bridge a difficult identity transition, listing both an individual’s Indian name and their English or Christian name,” explains professional genealogist James W. Warren, a specialist in American Indian research. Some rolls record annual births and deaths—creating a “vital-records snapshot” of the tribe. “And for many years, they list each individual’s number on the previous year’s census roll, helping researchers identify maiden names and make multigenerational connections,” says Warren.

To use the microfilm (film M595), you have to know what tribe your ancestor belonged to find him in the records. But this week, Ancestry.com added the 1885-to-1940 Indian censuses in searchable, digitized format—offering more flexibility to find ancestors if you don’t know every detail (or it wasn’t recorded as you think it would be). You can search by name, tribe, birth date, family members and other parameters. The new collection is part of Ancestry.com’s US Deluxe subscription ($179.40 per year).

Warren warns that despite the federal mandate, there are record gaps for most reservations and agencies. “But an amazing number of rolls are available,” he says. “Combined with other records generated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian census rolls help make reservation-affiliated American Indians the best-documented ancestors in the United States for this time period.”

If your family belonged to one of the so-called Five Civilized Tribes—Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek or Seminole—this collection won’t help you. Instead, you’ll want to use the Dawes rolls, the official roster of those tribes' then-members, created from 1898 to 1907. Both the applications and final enrollment records are available on microfilm (film M1186) and digitally through NARA’s Archival Research Database. (Try Access Genealogy for an easier-to-search index.)

For more help, read the National Archives’ helpful guide to tracing American Indians in federal records.

In other news, Ancestry.com also unveiled two new Web sites for overseas researchers. Ancestry.fr and Ancestry.it bring the genealogy conglomerate’s databases and resources to French- and Italian-speaking users. To learn more, read the announcement.


Genealogy Web Sites | American Indian roots
Thursday, June 28, 2007 1:17:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Brainteasers for Genealogy Buffs (With a Cash Prize)
Posted by Allison

I love puzzles. I’ve frittered away more hours than I care to admit filling in Sudoku grids and crosswords. (By the way, what’s a five-letter word for “impish fairy”?) In high school, my peers ribbed me for being probably the only teenager to faithfully complete the cryptoquips in the daily newspaper.

Now there’s a Web site catering to people like me—that is, addicts of puzzles and family history. GenealogyPays, the brainchild of consultant and professional genealogist Daniel Lynch, will launch an inventive online contest involving genealogy-themed rebus puzzles July 1. Even if you’re not a puzzle junkie, the potential $15,000 reward for solving the grand-prize puzzle will probably entice you to give the site a look.

It’s like “Concentration” with marketing and philanthropic twists. The rebus is obscured by a grid. As advertisers buy up squares of the grid, the portion of the puzzle underneath those ads are revealed to contest participants. The ad money goes into the grand-prize pool, which will total $30,000 if all the ad spaces sell before someone solves the puzzle. Whatever the prize amount, GenealogyPays will split it 50/50 between the winner and one genealogical society he or she chooses from those that register on the site.

So how do you win? Be the first person to submit the correct answer to the question posed in the puzzle. You need to register (free) to participate. In addition to the grand-prize, the site will offer monthly, weekly and bonus puzzles. Learn more and see a sample rebus on GenealogyPays’ How Does This Work? page.


Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 10:50:52 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Project to Bring SC Slave Lineages Online
Posted by Diane

For African-American genealogists, breaking through the brick wall of slavery can require thorough, painstaking research into the records of the slaveowning families—with no guarantee of success. You can’t simply log on to a Web site and expect to find meticulously researched and reconstructed lineages of slave families that connect all the dots for you.

But that’s exactly what three organizations plan to create for descendants of the slaves of Charleston, SC’s Magnolia Plantation and others operated by the Drayton family. In a project funded by the plantation’s foundation, the University of South Florida’s all-volunteer Africana Heritage Project will pore over the Draytons' plantation journals to re-create the family trees of its slaves. Those family files will be posted on genealogy wiki WeRelate, where family history researchers will be able to access them for free. Africana Heritage Project founding director Toni Carrier says the files—in GEDCOM format—will appear gradually as the research progresses. "We aim to have the first batch up by mid-July," she says.

Magnolia Plantation is also collaborating with the Africana Heritage Project on a new Web site to be launched in March 2008: Lowcountry Africana will document African-American heritage in South Carolina, Georgia and northeastern Florida’s historic rice-growing region—in particular, its unique Gullah/Geechee culture. The site will feature slaveholding families’ plantation records, a searchable database of primary historical documents, name indexes to Lowcountry history and genealogy books, historical photographs and more.

Carrier encourages genealogists and families with ties (or suspected ties) to Drayton family plantations to contact her organization. "We would love to invite them to join this exciting journey of discovery," she says.


African-American roots
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 1:28:31 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, June 22, 2007
Fun with iGoogle
Posted by Diane

I got a blast from the past—well, from last year, anyway—when Lisa Cooke e-mailed that she's started a Genealogy Gems podcast.

Cooke and her family had applied to be guinea pigs on PBS' "Texas Ranch House" reality show, which aired in May 2006. She's a veteran genealogist, too. So for the June 2006 Family Tree Magazine's Branching Out news column, I asked her how it felt to be transplanted to 1867 and walk in her Western forebears' shoes.

Hot and sweaty, but satisfying, it turned out. Fast foward 150 years and Cooke is dispensing research advice through her podcast.

I just listened to this week's session about creating a genealogy iGoogle page. Kind of like making your dream home page, with tools ("gadgets") that will search for GEDCOMs, find genealogy blogs, keep your research to-do list, and lots more.

Once you start your page, click Add Stuff and then type "genealogy" into the iGoogle search box to find the gadgets.

Here's my iGoogle page, so far:


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, June 22, 2007 5:20:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Put Your Family in its Place
Posted by Diane

You want to walk in your relatives’ footsteps this summer. See the places they lived. Go where they went. But how do you find where those were? In the July 2007 Family Tree Magazine, Fern Glazer suggests the following resources to help you pinpoint the places your family frequented.

Censuses: These enumerations provide a snapshot of a family, including the names, ages and occupations of household members, relationships among them and immigration information. The city and county are at the top of each page; the address is on the left. Look at every census during your relative’s lifespan.

City directories: Most American cities (and some rural areas) published directories annually or biannually beginning in the mid-1800s. These alphabetical listings of residents include names, street addresses and occupations.

Some directories include addresses for businesses and public buildings, maps and advertisements. Ads may provide clues about family businesses and details about the neighborhood. To locate city directories for your family’s area, visit USCityDirectories.com. Your local library probably has directories for your city. Some large libraries have other towns’ directories; if yours doesn’t, you may be able to borrow them on microfilm through interlibrary loan.

Telephone directories: If you want to find a person or place in more-modern times—say, in the years after the telephone was invented—you might have luck consulting the phone book. Or search US and international listings, including yellow pages, e-mail directories and fax listings, by name, address, phone number or ZIP code at Infobel.

See the July 2007 Family Tree Magazine for more trip-planning advice, including how to map ancestral addresses and create an itinerary even your grumpy brother-in-law can appreciate.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Research Tips | Social History
Wednesday, June 20, 2007 10:30:11 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, June 18, 2007
Ancestry.com Re-enters the DNA Business
Posted by Diane

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

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

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

Relative Genetics spokesperson Peggy Hayes says the free Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation database, which isn't part of Relative Genetics, is not part of the partnership. "SMGF will continue its mission as a philanthropic organization," she added.

Ancestry.com's DNA tests will cost less than $200 and be available later this summer. Sorenson's labs will provide the testing kits and analyze customers' DNA.

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

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

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


Genealogy Industry | Genetic Genealogy
Monday, June 18, 2007 10:39:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, June 15, 2007
Tombstone Rubbing Tips
Posted by Diane

We added a Cemetery Central forum to the FamilyTreeMagazine.com message board! Go to http://www.familytreemagazine.com/forum/forums/forum-view.asp?fid=23 to post your graveyard research stories and questions.

I opened it up with the tale (and resulting helpful hints) of creating this tombstone rubbing for the December 2006 Family Tree Magazine:



Maybe you'll have some tips to add to the collection. I'd love to see your tombstone rubbings and photos, too!

Family Tree Magazine articles | Research Tips
Friday, June 15, 2007 9:45:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Tracing the Lost Colony Through DNA
Posted by Diane

Genetic genealogy could help researchers figure out what happened to the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island, NC.

It’s one of America’s most enduring mysteries: What happened to the 100-plus settlers who landed on the island in 1587? When the governor, John White, was finally able to return there in 1590, he found it deserted and, inexplicably, the word Croatoan carved into a tree.

Theories abound: Spanish explorers destroyed the settlement, the colonists tried unsuccessfully to return to England, they assimilated into American Indian groups.

The last speculation is what Brighton, Mich., genetics lab DNA Explain, along with the North Carolina-based Lost Colony Center for Science and Research, will study. Researchers will test the Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA lines of people identified through genealogical research as possible descendants of Roanoke colonists. For comparison, they also may test the colonists’ known relatives in Britain.

Well, my curiosity is certainly piqued!

Have you solved a family mystery through DNA testing? Let us know by posting a comment.


Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, June 12, 2007 12:14:36 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]