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# Monday, September 10, 2007
Famillion Touts Celebrity Connections
Posted by Diane

Another free genealogy social networking site called Famillion has been in the news. It’s headquartered in Israel (as is MyHeritage, which recently purchased Pearl Street Software).

Famillion, which has family tree building capabilities, photo albums and profile pages, says its Tree Merging Technology will locate overlaps in trees and suggest relationships (this sounds similar to the SmartMatching feature in Pearl Street’s languishing GenCircles pedigree database).

Famillion also just announced a GEDCOM upload to ease the job of entering family information.

The site looks slick and its “connect the world” tagline is noble, but the webmasters seem drawn to hyperbole. The About window says “You might… find connections to the world's Albert Einsteins, Madonnas and Bill Gates. You may find yourself chatting with Angelina Jolie.”

Somehow I think Angie’s a little too busy with Brad, Maddox, Zahara, Shiloh and Pax to chat me up online.

That claim and the celebrity photos on the home page smack of a too-obvious attempt to capitalize on America’s Hollywood obsession. The same could be said of MyHeritage and its celebrity lookalike photo search, though that site redeems itself with downloadable genealogy software and a search engine.
 
On the plus side, maybe non-genies will come to these sites looking for celebrity connections and get hooked on exploring their own mere-mortal family histories.

Meanwhile, we’ll research celebrity roots if we think they commingle with our own, but we’re too busy climbing brick walls to be genealogical paparazzi.


Celebrity Roots | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, September 10, 2007 10:42:11 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, September 07, 2007
Ancestry.se and More Swedish Genealogy Resources
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.com has launched a Swedish Web site, www.Ancestry.se. Accessible with a $299.40-per-year ($29.95 per month) World Deluxe membership, the site contains Swedish emigration records with 1.4 million names, and vital records from 81 Lutheran parishes in Sweden’s Varmland County.

The same records are also available through Ancestry.com’s US records collection ($155.40 per year). Note they’re not linked to digitized original records.

The original emigration data comes from a CD called Emigranten Populär. Data were culled from various records including passport lists, passenger lists and correspondence. For more on what you can learn from the records, see Ancestry.com’s “about” page for that database.

You can buy a version of the database on a two-CD set called Emigranten for $190 from Göteborgs-Emigranten in Göteborg. Other Swedish record sources you can check out:
  • Emigrantslistor, passenger-list information from 1851 to 1940 the police department kept for Stockholm. The Family History Library has this on microfilm, as well as emigrations through other Swedish ports.
  • Emibas, a CD of 1.1 million emigrants listed in between 1845 and 1930. It’s available from Ancestors Swedish.
  • Genline has digitized virtually all Swedish church records and made them searchable in its database. Access costs around $370 for a year; you also can buy shorter subscriptions and take advantage of special offers.
  • SVAR, a division of Sweden's national archives, offers a smaller collection of digitized church records, as well as some censuses and vital records (click the English icon on the Web site). It costs about $146 per year, with shorter subscriptions and other packages available.
For more help, use our Swedish online ethnic toolkit and see the October 2006 Family Tree Magazine (sold out from our back issues store, but ask for it at your library).


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Friday, September 07, 2007 5:03:05 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, September 05, 2007
New Resource for Newspaper Personals
Posted by Diane

Speaking of newspapers (see below), the webmaster behind the GenealogyBuff search engine has helped start a site called PersonalButPolite.com with transcribed personals columns from old papers.

It's free to search or browse by place. The site's small, but you can submit your own transcriptions by e-mail. See the PersonalButPolite Update blog to keep track of additions.

Personals then were a far cry from today's "man seeking woman..." ads. You could find short announcements of local residents' comings and goings and births and deaths, as well as people looking for lost friends.


Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, September 05, 2007 10:33:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Research Family Reunions in Newspapers
Posted by Diane

Next time you're using a database of historic newspapers, try this tip from Tom Kemp, of the GenealogyBank subscription newspaper site: Look for articles about your kin's family reunions.

Society pages in old newspapers would report on local gatherings, often with names of the family patriarch and out-of-town or well-known attendees. You can download a few examples from GenealogyBank's free downloads page.

Search for family surnames and the words family reunion. Try adding a place if you get a lot of hits. Kemp also suggests searching for reunions of high schools and colleges and military units.

A subscription to GenealogyBank costs $19.95 per month or $89.95 per year. Many public libraries offer cardholders free access to its sister database, NewsBank, through their Web sites.

Other resources include Ancestry.com's newspapers ($155.40 per year in the US Records Collection) and the growing newspaper databases at World Vital Records ($49.95 for two years).

You'll find more options for finding newspapers both online and in libraries on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

Also see the newspaper research guide in the February 2007 Family Tree Magazine.


Family Reunions | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Wednesday, September 05, 2007 10:12:12 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Ancestry.com Launches DNA Beta Site
Posted by Diane

Back in June, The Generations Network (TGN) acquired Relative Genetics and its test results database from Sorenson Genomics. (See our blog report.)

Now we’re seeing the fruits of that union on the DNA Ancestry beta site. There, you can order Y-DNA tests for $149 (33 markers) or $199 (46 markers), or mtDNA tests for $179. On the overview and ordering pages, you get information on the tests, and you can see a sample test results report. Trace Your Roots with DNA (Rodale, $14.95) co-author Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak became TGN’s chief family historian early this year, so expect good-quality background information.

Those with a free Ancestry.com registration will be able to search a test-result database and enter results from other companies’ tests.

The Relative Genetics site will be phased out by the end of 2007. See DNA Ancestry's FAQ page for more information.

Look for more genetic genealogy help in upcoming issues of Family Tree Magazine. Also see the October 2006 Family Tree Magazine’s user-friendly testing guide (sold out from our back issues store, but ask for it at your library).


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, September 04, 2007 9:24:34 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, August 31, 2007
The State of Genealogy in Germany
Posted by Grace

We don't need to tell you that genealogy's a big deal. But for the sake of backing up the argument, here are some numbers. A poll released by The Generations Network in 2005 said 29 percent have created a family tree—that's more than 80 million people. Ancestry.com alone has 760,000 subscribers.

Now, about one in six Americans reported having German ancestry in the 2000 US Census—more than 43 million people.

Considering how many US genealogists might be rooting around in the archives of Baden-Wurttemberg and Brandenburg, it seems surprising that only about 30,000 Germans are tracing their family roots, according to German news channel N-TV.

But the lack of fervor in Deutschland has deep-seated roots.

Genealogy was at its most popular in Germany during the Third Reich—it was a way of proving Aryan heritage. Because much of the general population associated the hobby with national socialism, nearly all genealogical organizations were disbanded in 1945, and the hobby still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many Germans.

With the advent of Internet-driven research (and perhaps with the influence of countries like the United States and United Kingdom, where genealogy is big business), it seems like Ahnenforschung is making a comeback. TV stations are producing genealogy-focused programs like "Die Spur der Ahnen" ("The Trace of the Ancestors") and "Vorfahren Gesucht: Abenteuer Ahnenforschung" ("Ancestors Sought: Genealogy Adventure"). For those fluent in Deutsch, a German-language blog affiliated with Ancestry.de gives an interesting take on family history.

So now I’m curious—what's the state of genealogy in other countries? Leave a comment!


Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Friday, August 31, 2007 2:49:10 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, August 30, 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 NewspaperArchive.com, 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 NewspaperArchive.com 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: http://www.worldvitalrecords.com/recentcontentlisting.aspx. 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, August 30, 2007 9:55:47 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9]
FindMyPast.com 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.



FindMyPast.com 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 FindMyPast.com with a different "skin," so when you search Telegraph Family History, you're really searching FindMyPast.com's collection of British census, vital and emigration records.

Telegraph Family History launched Friday, bearing a “powered by FindMyPast.com” 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 FindMyPast.com. 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 www.findmypast.com/media/subscriptions.jsp for information.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, August 30, 2007 8:55:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, August 28, 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 books.google.com. 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, August 28, 2007 9:31:31 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, August 27, 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, August 27, 2007 11:00:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]