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<2007 August>

More Links

# Thursday, 30 August 2007
Search Newspapers Free Until Sept. 6 on World Vital Records
Posted by Diane

Genealogy database site World Vital Records will provide “increased access” to the collection of, the largest online subscription newspaper database.

By “increased access,” World Vital Records webmasters mean they’re extracting vital information in newspapers dating from 1759 to 1923, resulting in half a billion records, and making it searchable on the World Vital Records site.

The first release of the data—40 million records—went up Aug. 27, and data for more titles were posted today. World Vital Records gives 10 days of free access for each site addition, so start searching.

After 10 days, databases are available with a World Vital Records subscription, which costs $49.95 for two years.

Find the data on World Vital Records’ Browse Databases page. For now, you have to search each title individually. You can search by name, place, year and keyword, and results are linked to (supersized) images of the original articles.

Update: Based on the comments, it looks like some are having trouble accessing the free newspaper databases in World Vital Records. To review: Each new database is free for 10 days after World Vital Records adds it. After the 10 days are over, you must subscribe to access that database.

To find the free content, use this link: Next to each database listed on that page, you can see how many days of free access remain. Click a database to search it. You don't have to register with the site to search it, or to view the results of your search.

Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 30 August 2007 09:55:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9] and the Telegraph Launch White Label Site
Posted by Diane

If genealogy Web surfers think the new UK records site Telegraph Family History seems familiar, well, they're right. has produced the first white label genealogy database site, for the Telegraph Media Group, publisher of the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

A white label product is one a company produces for another company to brand and market as its own. Telegraph Family History is basically with a different "skin," so when you search Telegraph Family History, you're really searching's collection of British census, vital and emigration records.

Telegraph Family History launched Friday, bearing a “powered by” graphic. You'll need a free registration to search the records, but you must pay to see detailed results.

It also has researcher and author Nick Barratt’s Family Detective columns investigating famous Brits’ pedigrees. Barratt is a UK family history media magnet who appears on the BBC series "Who Do You Think You Are?"

You can subscribe to Telegraph Family History for the same prices as The Explorer package gives full access to all records for about $250 per year. You also can purchase pay-per-view units starting around $14. See for information.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 30 August 2007 08:55:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Are Your Ancestors in Google Book Search?
Posted by Grace

Copyright fights aside, one of my favorite search tools is Google's Book Search, at By typing in keywords just like in a normal Google search, you get results from all sorts of out-of-print and hard-to-find books.

I use it to research the histories of areas that aren't well-represented online, and to check dates when I don't quite trust Wikipedia. Some books show up in the results as full page scans with searchable text. Other books are restricted to just showing a few preview pages or a few paragraphs of excerpts. Some are downloadable as PDF documents. (Even if you can't see all of the information, Google gives you the publisher's information that gives you a head start on finding it at your library.)

Because I have a fairly uncommon surname, Dobush, I tried searching for it. Google Book Search turned up some academic works by people with my last name, as well as some Jewish history books (which is intriguing, because that side of my family is Catholic as far as I know). But the best find was a 1916 book titled "Songs of Ukrania: With Ruthenian Poems."

The book's old enough to be in the public domain, and I was able to download a PDF of it. There in the index, under the subheading Robber Songs, is an epic poem titled "The Death of Dobush." It describes an Alexa Dobush as a Carpathian Robin Hood who stole from the rich to give to the poor. Leads to chase for that side of my family tree just got a lot more interesting!

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Tuesday, 28 August 2007 09:31:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 27 August 2007
Genealogy Companies Merge, You Get Free Stuff
Posted by Diane

A genealogy industry merger is resulting in freebies for you. The Israel-based family networking site MyHeritage has finalized its purchase of software and database company Pearl Street Software, and it’s making Pearl Street’s products free.

Those include the $29.95 Family Tree Legends software and Family Tree Legends Records Collection, which debuted for $29.95 per year in 2005 with a variety of indexes to military, vital, court, biography and other records. Pearl Street also ran the pedigree site GenCircles, known for its SmartMatching technology that matches up duplicate search results for an ancestor. Lately, as owners looked for a buyer, the company's sites have stagnated and customers have noticed dwindling support services.

MyHeritage first made a splash back in 2006 with a facial recognition tool that found users' celebrity look-alikes. More gimmick than anything else, it nonetheless got attention from legions of Web surfers and doubtless padded the site's registered users stat to the current 17 million. (Facial recognition's genealogy application: It could match your uploaded photo of Great-Grandma with one your long-lost cousin submitted.)

The just-revamped MyHeritage is now available in 15 languages andhas a free Immersive Family Tree you can use to post your genealogy. Its “Megadex” search will look for surnames in online databases (results link you to the originating site, where you must be a subscriber to access paid content).

The new Look-alike Meter shows you which parent a child resembles more. And now you can create a collage of your famous twin. (I was a fan of TV’s recently concluded “Gilmore Girls,” so imagine my delight with my 83 percent resemblance to the show's Lauren Graham.)

GenCircles and Family Tree Legends will remain online for now, but MyHeritage is joining the sites' databases. To access the free software and record collection, visit Family Tree Legends.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 27 August 2007 11:00:23 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# 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]