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<2007 August>

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# Friday, 24 August 2007
Family Tree Magazine, Simpsonized
Posted by Diane

I guess some people don't have enough ancestors to look for, so they go and research the genealogy of cartoon characters. You can see the family tree of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie on The Simpsons Sites. It lacks source citations and dates, but the researchers did manage to get images of everyone.

And you can masquerade as a member of the Simpson family tree at Simpsonize Me. You upload your photo, then customize your face, hair, clothes and accessories. The Family Tree Magazine staff made a Friday afternoon of it (hey, we worked hard this week).

So here we are: Kathy, art director; Allison, editor; Diane, managing editor; Grace, assistant editor and Pet-i-gree, faithful sidekick.

Genealogy fun
Friday, 24 August 2007 15:10:17 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, 22 August 2007
More New Stuff Spotted at FGS
Posted by Diane

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

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 22 August 2007 16:07:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 21 August 2007
Made-Over Family Tree Maker Software Debuts
Posted by Diane

The Generations Network released Family Tree Maker 2008, successor to Family Tree Maker 16, after a brief (and unexpected) beta release period.

(The beta version stops working Aug. 24, so export your GEDCOMs now, folks.)

The new version got an extreme overhaul from the previous one, with a pretty look and new features including:
  • An interface that combines elements of a pedigree chart and a family group sheet  (here's the family view)

  • The ability to merge data from anywhere on the Web into your tree
  • Standardized criteria for rating genealogical sources
  • A place-name dictionary with more than 3 million locations
  • Lists that show people and events associated with a particular place
  • Timelines for your ancestors’ lives
  • Data imports from other programs, including Personal Ancestral File, The Master Genealogist and Legacy Family Tree
Read what Family Tree Magazine readers thought of the beta software in our online forum.

Family Tree Maker 2008 costs $39.95, or $54.95 with The Official Guide to Family Tree Maker 2008. As far as I could tell, an upgrade from Family Tree Maker 16 isn’t available, but we're checking on this.

Note Family Tree Magazine is not affiliated with Family Tree Maker software.

Genealogy Software
Tuesday, 21 August 2007 16:04:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Monday, 20 August 2007
NARA Record Request Fees Go Up Oct. 1
Posted by Diane

We’ve known it was coming since the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) proposed last February to raise its reproduction fees for records you order.

The good news is, it could’ve been worse.

Effective Oct. 1, NARA will charge $75 for a Civil War pension file of up to 100 pages, plus $.65 per additional page (for longer files, staff will contact the requestor with a price quote before filling the order). NARA will charge $50 for pre-Civil War pension files regardless of page count, and $.75 per page to copy other records.

While still a steep increase from the current $37 for a Civil War pension file, these fees are less than the $125 and $60 NARA originally proposed for Civil War and pre-Civil War pensions, respectively. (Still, save some cash by sending your request before October. The July 2007 Family Tree Magazine has instructions for ordering Civil War pensions.)

In the Aug. 17 Federal Register, national archivist Allen Weinstein attributes the change to public comment-inspired alterations in formulas for calculating document reproduction costs. Though its average pension file order was for 106 pages, 65 percent of orders were for files less than 100 pages.

NARA received 1,281 comments during the 60-day comment period. About half the commenters identified themselves as genealogists.

Looks like some comments hit a nerve by saying NARA’s proposal exaggerated actual copying costs. Weinstein wrote, “We firmly reject allegations that the  fees are being raised capriciously for the purpose of supplementing funding for the agency or reducing the number of reproduction orders received.”

He added it’s not practical to compare NARA’s photocopying costs with those of other entities because of archival document considerations including file retrieval and replacement, paper fragility, separating papers from fasteners, placing non-standard-size documents on copiers' glass platens and ensuring image legibility.

Weinstein said NARA lacks funding for digitizing all the Civil War pension files. The agency considers them prime candidates for a digitization partnership, but “there is no near-term alternative to the current process for fulfilling fixed-fee order requests for reproductions of Civil War pension files.”

Libraries and Archives | Public Records
Monday, 20 August 2007 10:25:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Saturday, 18 August 2007
FamilySearch starts new records-access project
Posted by Diane

In the next two years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' FamilySearch will release free online indexes for a long list of genealogical records—150 million images total. Thousands of volunteers are already working fast and furiously on FamilySearch projects to index digitized records, so the church is turning to another source for help with this one: businesses such as The Generations Network, Footnote and others.


For what’s known as the Genesis Project, FamilySearch—the church’s records-scanning arm—has put out a “request for information” seeking interested commercial service providers and records repositories.


FamilySearch will digitize the records, which spokesperson Paul Nauta says is the most expensive part of putting records online, and service providers would index them. Indexes would be free on FamilySearch and on the service provider’s and/or record repository’s Web site.

Targeted record groups include US and British censuses, US county naturalizations, Spanish parish registers, German SS records from the National Archives and Ukraine L’viv church records.
Those entities could choose to charge for access to digitized record images; the images would be free at the LDS church’s Family History Centers.

In other FamilySearch news:

  • FamilySearch’s Family History Library, Allen County Public Library and the Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library are joining to digitize and index 100,000 books in the libraries’ holdings of local and family histories from all across the country. It’ll be the largest collection of its kind on the Web with free access at the BYU library's site. Read more on FamilySearch.
  • Next up for the FamilySearch Indexing Project is the 1930 Mexico Census, Revolutionary War Pensions and Land Warrants, Irish Civil Registration and 1900 US census records for more states.

For more information on FamilySearch records access initiatives, look for the November 2007 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands and Sept. 11.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Saturday, 18 August 2007 10:39:11 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 17 August 2007
Genealogists Solve Audiocassette Mystery
Posted by Grace

Radio station WFMU posted an audio clip on their blog earlier this week—a 60-minute interview between a young woman and a 100-year-old lady, recorded in 1978. (The audio was captured from a cassette tape found at a Goodwill store.) The lady talked about early life in Kansas and her tips for playing the stock market. While the interview revealed some clues, there was no definitive identification.

Sounds like a job for a genealogist! Chris, who maintains the great Web site The Genealogue, did some digging with the little information revealed in the first half of the tape—she never married, her family settled in Newton, Kan., where she still lived in 1978, and her father emigrated from Germany. Using some free databases and a HeritageQuest search, he came up with a name for the woman and he issued a challenge to his readers—can you track down this centenarian?

A half-dozen people (including myself) had confirmed his identification by lunchtime. I won't give away the answer if you want to try to solve the mystery yourself.

Listen to the audio clips here.
See the Genealogue's challenge and the answers here.

Genealogy fun
Friday, 17 August 2007 15:13:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
What's New From the FGS Conference
Posted by Diane

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 17 August 2007 14:48:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 16 August 2007
FGS and RootsTelevision Honor "Roots" 30th Anniversary
Posted by Diane

Chris Haley, nephew of Roots author Alex Haley, strolled into this morning’s Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference opening singing the Banana Boat song (the one that goes “Day-o”). Turns out it’s the 30th anniversary of the publication of Roots, the book some say propelled genealogy fervor to the big time.

The younger Haley—special guest of the genealogy-focused Internet tv station RootsTelevision—is associate reference director for the Maryland archives, makes films and acts (which is why he looked perfectly natural singing the Banana Boat song at 8:11 a.m. to a roomful of people who for a split second didn’t quite know what was happening). You want to see a love of family history personified, that’s him.

Later, Haley turned the tables and interviewed me for RootsTelevision. Snippets will be on the site along with those from other interviews.

RootsTelevision also has added 24 channels, each with segments specializing in a different genealogy topic. All but one are free and you can watch all of it at your convenience.

Genealogists get their own version of YouTube, too: You can upload your genealogy videos to RootsTelevision's RootsTube.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 16 August 2007 18:08:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Heaven at Allen County Library
Posted by Diane

Yesterday, the first day of the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Fort Wayne, Ind., the staff at the nearby Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center shelved 11,460 books and other materials.

That's just a fraction of the largest public library genealogy collection in the country, and conference attendees are eager for the chance to search for ancestors between lectures.

Astounding is a good word for the center. Yesterday we toured some of the giant collection of 350,000+ books (including 55,000 family histories; an impressive array of county histories, school yearbooks and records indexes) and 513,000 “microtexts” (microfilm and microfiche). Those include censuses, passenger lists and more.

Hoosiers and non-Hoosiers come here for the resources covering counties across America, plus countries overseas. The library’s staff are the folks behind the Periodical Source Index, too, which references genealogical and historical periodicals dating back to 1800.

Soon you can see more details in a video of the tour in an online video—we’ll let you know when you can see this truly quality visual experience.

Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives
Thursday, 16 August 2007 17:30:27 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
New Genealogy Society Fundraiser Announced
Posted by Allison

As the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference kicked off yesterday, the society announced partnerships with several genealogy companies, including our own Family Tree Magazine.

These partnerships are designed to help FGS and its 500-plus member societies earn much-needed funds for programs, volunteer projects and other efforts to benefit and grow the genealogical community. When individual members of FGS societies purchase the partners’ products, those companies will donate a portion of the sales back to the societies.

Family Tree Magazine initiated the partnership program with FGS, and we’ve launched a Web site that makes it easy for member groups to participate in our fundraiser. Societies can go to and download a button to put on their Web sites. Then individual members can visit to society’s site to sign up for a $24 new subscription, and we’ll donate $6 of the proceeds to that member society and $6 to FGS.

Further information and FAQs are on the Web site.
Other partners include genealogy records Web sites Footnote and, and Legacy Family Tree software.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Thursday, 16 August 2007 12:06:00 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]