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<2007 July>

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# Friday, 13 July 2007
NYG&B Controversy: Members Decry Voting Proposal
Posted by Diane

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

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

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

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

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies
Friday, 13 July 2007 16:46:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Hamburg Museum Details Emigrants' Experience
Posted by Diane

Between 1850 and 1939, more than 5 million Europeans left for the New World via Hamburg, Germany. They're honored in that city’s BallinStadt Port of Dreams museum, which opened July 4.

The museum is in a reconstruction of BallinStadt, an emigration facility—amenities included living quarters, churches, a synagogue and a kosher dining hall—that served 2 million emigrants. (The original building was destroyed during World War II.) Most of those outbound passengers were Eastern Europeans.

Exhibits relate the journeys of specific emigrants. Walk up to life-size models of the passengers, and they’ll “speak” about their migration experiences.

Similar to the Ellis Island museum we enjoy stateside, BallinStadt’s main entrance hall boasts a family history center. Visitors can search genealogical databases including Hamburg emigrants. Unlike Ellis Island, though, the Hamburg emigration lists aren’t free on BallinStadt's Web site. Instead, the site directs you to, where the records are part of the $155.40-per-year US Deluxe records collection.

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has microfilm of the lists, called Auswandererlisten 1850-1934. You can borrow the film through your local Family History Center.

Read more about Hamburg and other ports' emigration records in the February 2006 Family Tree Magazine.

Read these articles for more information on the BallinStadt museum:

Research Tips | Social History
Friday, 13 July 2007 09:03:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 10 July 2007
Try Family Tree Maker 2008 in Beta
Posted by Diane

If you're a technologically adventurous genealogist who loves being first to play with the latest gadget, you can give the next incarnation of Family Tree Maker a whirl.

Family Tree Maker 2008 is slated for official release in August, but The Generations Network is letting you download a beta version now at

(Editorial aside: What's with the erratic version naming? Things were moving along fine with 1 through 11, then we got year names with versions 2005 and 2006, then back to numbers with Family Tree Maker 16, and now we're on version 2008. Is this just to confuse users into thinking they've missed an upgrade?)

Files created with the beta version may or may not open in the release version. Among other warnings (it's almost like the genealogical equivalent of bungee jumping): The beta Family Tree Maker 2008 will stop working August 24, so you should export any stored GEDCOMs before then.

We hear the program interface is radically different with this release, so we're curious about your thoughts. Post them here or on the Product News and Reviews Forum.

Genealogy Software
Tuesday, 10 July 2007 12:05:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Monday, 09 July 2007
BYU Gets Free Ancestry Library Edition
Posted by Diane

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

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

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

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

Genealogy Industry
Monday, 09 July 2007 15:04:57 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 06 July 2007 Adds More Emigration Records
Posted by Diane has added another decade to its collection of outbound passenger lists from the UK, upping the coverage to 1890 to 1929. Eventually, the database will reach 1960.

These emigration records could be useful if you can’t find your ancestors in US passenger lists—if they departed from or traveled through a port in Britain. (Many immigration routes took passengers through British ports, so it may be worth a try even if your roots aren’t British.)

Two cool features of FindMyPast's search:
1. You can add the name of a traveling companion (such as a spouse or child) to your search.
2. If the site doesn't find any exactly matching records, it will show you near matches and point out the differences (see below).

You can search for free, but to see record images, subscribe to the Voyager (about $50 for 30 days) or Explorer ($251 per year) package. Or, go the pay-per-view route: Record views cost as little as 3 units, which you can buy in packages starting around $10.

Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 06 July 2007 16:37:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1] Gets into Scrapbooking
Posted by Diane

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

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

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

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

Genealogy Industry
Friday, 06 July 2007 15:32:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 03 July 2007
New Orleans Heritage
Posted by Diane

After my trip to build houses in a hurricane-ravaged New Orleans neighborhood, I’m slightly tanner, much better with a hammer, and more knowledgeable about the Crescent City’s history and culture.

Our volunteer group worked on the Musicians’ Village, a Habitat for Humanity project in the Upper Ninth Ward that celebrates New Orleans’ musical heritage.
Amidst all the construction, I did get to see a few historical places, including:  

Preservation Hall has been a popular place to hear old-school New Orleans Jazz since 1961. Only a hundred people at a time can pack inside. I sat on the floor about a foot from the band and had to duck the trombone a couple of times.

The Louisiana State Museum has history exhibits in the Cabildo (see an inside view below; it was the seat of government under Spanish rule), where the Louisiana Purchase agreement was signed in 1803. A genealogical tidbit I picked up there: Don't overlook New Orleans as your immigrant ancestors' arrival port. Many Europeans who wanted to settle along or west of the Mississippi River heard they’d have an easier time reaching their destinations from New Orleans.

New Orleans has strong Catholic roots. A church has stood on the St. Louis Cathedral site since 1718. The current building (below, with the Cabildo on the left) was finished in 1793 and overhauled during the 1850s. (Read more about Louisiana churches from John Kendall’s digitized History of New Orleans.)

On my list for the next visit: The National World War II Museum, St. Louis Cemetery and the New Orleans Public Library genealogy department. (We cover this and other Louisiana repositories in The April 2005 Family Tree Magazine's Louisiana State Research guide.)

Social History
Tuesday, 03 July 2007 08:36:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 02 July 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, 02 July 2007 16:54:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 29 June 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, 29 June 2007 11:11:17 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 28 June 2007 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, 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’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, also unveiled two new Web sites for overseas researchers. and 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, 28 June 2007 13:17:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]