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# Friday, October 12, 2007
Our Photo Detective in the Wall Street Journal!
Posted by Diane

Family Tree Magazine’s very own Photo Detective, Maureen A. Taylor, is featured in today’s Wall Street Journal, right there on the front of its Weekend Journal section.

The article tells the stories of several families whose photos Maureen has used to fill in a missing piece of the past. Several of the pictures, such as this one showing three young ladies, have been featured in Maureen’s Photo Detective column in Family Tree Magazine and her Photo Detective blog on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

You also get a sense of the research that goes into each photo analysis. Maureen draws on her burgeoning library of obscure reference books; guides to historical uniforms, clothing, accessories, fraternal insignia, artifacts and other items that show up in our ancestors’ photographs; a closetful of antique photos; other historians' insights; and a store of knowledge that comes from studying history and analyzing thousands of images over the years.

See a portion of the article on the Wall Street Journal Web site.

In Family Tree Magazine and her Family Tree Books, Maureen shares tips you can use to glean family history clues from your own clan's photos. Here are some links to get you started:

Photo Detective blog
Here, Maureen analyzes readers' photos, gives advice on preserving old images and more.

Photo Detective Online Archive
Maureen has been identifying images on FamilyTreeMagazine.com for years! Access those articles here.

Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs, 2nd edition
In this book, Maureen offers in-depth advice and examples to help you analyze your own family's photographs.

Dating 20th-Century Photographs: Links
Maureen recommended these Web sites in a June 2006 Family Tree Magazine article on analyzing and preserving more-recent images.

Photographic Mystery—Solved!
Another photo success story, showing the value of consulting your relatives when researching family photos.

Now What? Online: Dating Foreign Photos
Some things to look for in images taken overseas.

Software for Organizing and Editing Photos
Maureen and other Family Tree Magazine authors recommend these programs for fixing up and storing digitized images.

The Photo Detective
Maureen's Web site, where you can submit photos and ask questions and find out where to see her presentations.


Celebrating your heritage | Family Tree Magazine articles
Friday, October 12, 2007 1:25:07 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Family Tree Maker and Ancestry Press
Posted by Diane

News from The Generations Network about its Family Tree Maker software and AncestryPress service:

The company still plans to release a Family Tree Maker 2008 update this month, calling it a “top priority.” It’ll include fixes for program crashes, data corruption, import and merge bugs, Internet corruption issues, and report complaints (version 2008 lacked some reports, including the all-in-one Genealogy Report, from previous versions).

Ancestry’s blog also has a long list of users’ desired features and their status (for example, in the October update, being considered for future updates, not being considered). Take a look and let us know if your most fervently wished-for update is there!

We’ve heard speculation that some reports were missing from the software because manufacturers were releasing the AncestryPress self-publishing service.

It takes information from your Ancestry Family Tree (which you can create free) or your Family Tree Maker 2008 data (choose to keep it personal if you don’t want it publicly viewable in Ancestry Trees) and creates pages that include illustrated family tree charts, timelines and family group sheets. Then you customize the book with text, images, backgrounds and more.

You can print the book from home, making the service free, or have Ancestry print a book up to 100 pages on nice, glossy paper and bind it with a professional-looking cover. The AncestryPress site was irritatingly unhelpful, though, in giving no discernible prices for ordering a book through AncestryPress. I’ve sent off an e-mailed question; I’ll let you know when I hear.

You also can keep your book project stored in AncestryPress and invite others to view it online. There’s no way to download it, though.


Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 1:36:38 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Utah Brand Books and Software Try-outs
Posted by Diane

Things just haven’t felt the same lately without a new announcement from FamilySearch, so I was glad to hear these updates:

• As part of its records digitization program, FamilySearch has digitized Utah’s historic brand books. You can access the images free at the state archives’ Web site.

City slickers may or may not know brand books show the identifying symbols more than 42,000 Utah ranchers branded onto their livestock (ouch!). Ranchers had to register their brands and ear marks with the state agriculture department.



Books from about 1849 to 1930 are digitized, with images linked to a full text search and name index. Each entry in the brand book can include an illustration of the brand, the name and county of the person registering it, registration date, and the location on the animal’s body.

• At your next Family History Center (FHC) visit, you can log your finds on its computers using the same commercial software or utility you have at home. Or, you can try out a new program—free. Here are the programs newly available on FHC computers:

Genealogy software
  • Ancestral Quest
  • RootsMagic
  • Legacy Family Tree
Genealogy utilities
  • Personal Historian (helps you write about your family)
  • Family Atlas (creates maps based on your family data)
  • Map My Family Tree (creates maps based on your family data)
  • Genelines (helps you create ancestral timelines)
  • Pedigree Analysis (submit your family file for research advice)
  • PAFWiz 2.0 (add-on tools for for Personal Ancestral File)
  • PAF Insight (performs advanced functions for LDS church members using Personal Ancestral File)
  • PAF Companion 5.2 (generates reports for Personal Ancestral File)
Check out the January 2008 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands Nov. 13, for our software panel test results of four popular programs.

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Tuesday, October 09, 2007 9:17:28 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, October 05, 2007
The Museum of Online Museums
Posted by Grace

Got a few hours to blow? Take a gander at the Museum of Online Museums, a Web repository of collections ranging from the banal to the bizarre.

Browsing through the list, I'm learning about things I never even knew I was interested in. Among the gems:

The Penny Postcard Archive has hundreds of scans of pre-1940 postcards, organized by state and county.

The Lost Formats Preservation Society documents data storage methods gone by the wayside. (You surely know the eight-track, but do you know the four-track?)

• In the Pre-and-Post War American Advertising Galleries you can view more than 7,000 ads from 1911-1955 divided into the categories of beauty and hygiene, radio, television, transportation, and World War II.

The WPA Calendar Project shows off the gorgeous 1939 calendar created by the Federal Art Project.

• And just for fun, the Condiment Packet Gallery.

Click here to visit the Museum of Online Museums.


Genealogy fun | Social History
Friday, October 05, 2007 5:24:36 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, October 04, 2007
Hear WWII Stories from Veterans History Project
Posted by Diane

The Library of Congress, which houses the Veterans History Project (VHP), has created Experiencing the War, a companion Web site to the PBS series The War. That series, created by Ken Burns, tells the story of World War II through footage, photos and recollections of people who lived it. (It’s had me glued to the television for the past two weeks.)



The interviews cataloged on Experiencing the War don’t appear in The War, but they’ll add to what you see on TV. The site groups WWII vets’ interviews to correspond to the series’ seven episodes. You get a photo and vital stats for each veteran, then you can watch the whole interview or selected clips.

If you're more of a page turner than a clicker, WWII stories from the VHP also appear in the new Library of Congress World War II Companion by Margaret E Wagner, Linda Barrett Osborne and Susan Reyburn (Simon & Schuster, $45), along with narrative, photos, maps and charts.

See the VHP Web site to browse stories from other wars back to World War I. You also can get information on participating in the VHP by contributing your own wartime experiences, interviewing a veteran or donating war-related letters and journals.

Genealogy Web Sites | Military records | Social History
Thursday, October 04, 2007 4:15:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 03, 2007
GenealogyAgent.com Automates Web Searches
Posted by Diane

Minnesota genealogist Doug Barry has created a service that searches the Internet for your ancestors and e-mails you a monthly report on its findings. This could make it easier to monitor ever-changing Web sites for ancestral information.

GenealogyAgent.com searches message boards, family Web sites, Ancestry.com's public Member Trees, GenCircles, FamilySearch and other sites. (It’d be nice to see a list of all the sites the “agents” search for you.)

You can have GenealogyAgent.com look for two ancestors free for a year. Each additional Ancestor Monitor costs $14.60 annually.

To set up a monitor, first register, then enter your ancestor’s basic information: name (maiden for women), nicknames, and birth and death years (you can choose a range). After saving this to your account, add places and family members’ names.

Each monthly report shows the sites searched, search terms used, and any changes related to those terms since the last search. As with any online search, there's no guarantee the results reported pertain to your ancestors.

Results for sites without search functions (for example, family sites that may list ancestors’ names and dates right on their pages) show up in a Web Page Monitor section. “The email goes on to explain how to log into GenealogyAgent.com to see the changes,” says Barry.

Results for sites that have searchable data (such as FamilySearch and Ancestry.com Member Trees) are in a Searchable Site Monitor section. To see full search results, you click a link that takes you to the site to execute the search yourself. You may need to register with some sites to see results, and of course, this won't get you around subscription fees in any paid sites.

How the GenealogyAgent.com service works can be difficult to grasp, so if you’re considering it, you’ll want to take the site tour and set up your two free monitors. I’ve created one for a "difficult" ancestor and the other for someone more cooperative. I’ll let you know if anything turns up.

A few other free tools from the same webmaster:

Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, October 03, 2007 2:17:08 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, October 02, 2007
SMGF DNA Database About to Balloon
Posted by Diane

If you've taken a DNA test to learn more about your ancestry, have you searched the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation DNA database lately?

The nonprofit Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) just announced it’s on course to collect more than 30,000 DNA samples by the end of this year, for a total of more than 100,000 samples and corresponding genealogical records. Mitochondrial DNA (passed from mothers to their children) makes up the bulk of the additions.

The growth is partly due to SMGF’s efforts to collect DNA internationally, including in Panama, Mongolia, Thailand and Africa.

The new DNA and genealogies will pad SMGF's test results database, which contains information about more than six million ancestors from 172 countries. You can search it for free.

You also can contribute your DNA and pedigree by requesting a test kit. Note you won’t get test results—for that, you’ll need to use a commercial service. (Sorenson Genomics no longer offers commercial tests through Relative Genetics. Back in June, The Generations Network acquired Relative Genetics and its Y-Match results database.)

See SMGF’s FAQ for more details on contributing DNA, and watch upcoming Family Tree Magazines for our answers to your genetic genealogy questions.


Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, October 02, 2007 2:57:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 28, 2007
Oktoberfest in "Zinzinnati"
Posted by Diane

German is the ancestry Americans most often claim, and Family Tree Magazine’s hometown, Cincinnati, could run for flag-bearer. We're so German that one of the city's oldest neighborhoods is called Over the Rhine.

Our Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, which I attended last weekend, is the biggest Oktoberfest outside Munich. We’re proud of our world record for the largest group chicken dance: In 1994, the visiting Crown Prince of Bavaria led 48,000 of us in tweet-tweeting our hands and flapping our elbows to Der Vogerltanz. (We held the title until 1997.)

This year, BallinStadt, the Hamburg emigration museum that opened in July, even sent someone to tell Oktoberfest revelers how they could learn about their German ancestors’ departure for America.

Our Oktoberfest is also a gold mine for lovers of goetta (prounounced get-uh), aka "Cincinnati caviar." The story is German immigrants brought us this peasant dish, meant to stretch meat supplies.

Goetta is mostly ground pork and pinhead (steel-cut) oats seasoned with bay leaves, rosemary, salt, pepper, and thyme, then boiled, sliced into square patties and fried. My mom made it for breakfast, but any time is goetta time at Oktoberfest:









In summer, a local Goettafest offers even more variety, including, for the truly devoted, goetta fudge. Tasty.

Hungry? You’ll find recipes for goetta here and here.

Celebrating your heritage | Genealogy fun
Friday, September 28, 2007 4:32:32 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, September 27, 2007
Facebook Adds A Family Tree Application
Posted by Diane

If you have a Facebook account, you can add an application called Family Tree to your profile that lets you, well, create a family tree. It’s from a new company called iFamily that specializes in developing applications for Facebook.

So far this is more a fun way to share your relatives’ names than a genealogical tool, since you can enter only basic information. You also can select up to three “heritages” (based on ancestral countries of origin) and designate Favorite Family Members (but maybe make sure the unchosen ones can’t access your profile).



Once you add the Family Tree application, you can view others who are using it, but you can’t see their trees—only the heritage and favorite relatives information is visible. Of couse, you need a Facebook profile before you can do any of this.

Family Tree developers promise GEDCOM imports, tree sharing and a family finder are coming.

Even without those genealogist-friendly attributes, Facebook's Family Tree app could be a cool way for the social networking set—which tends to be younger and probably hipper than most—to get into family history research. Users have downloaded the application 20,000 times and created more than 62,000 family tree profiles.

Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, September 27, 2007 1:58:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Wednesday, September 26, 2007
New Grand Army of the Republic Records Resource
Posted by Diane

If you read the July 2007 Family Tree Magazine article on Civil War ancestors, you know Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) records are a promising resource—some 40 percent of Union veterans joined their local GAR posts.

But you also know the GAR wasn’t a centralized organization, and post records are dispersed among state archives and historical societies (sometimes with microfilmed copies at the Family History Library), with sporadic indexes.

GAR help is here: Missouri historian Dennis Northcott is compiling a book series transcribing information from GAR death rolls. The three books he’s published so far include name, military unit and rank, death date, and post information for 90,000 GAR members in several Midwestern states: Illinois; Indiana; and Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. (Note if your ancestor moved, he would've joined a post in his new state, not the state from which he served.) Now Northcott's working on Ohio and Pennsylvania.

He's posted all the names from the series on his Web site. If you think you've found your ancestor, you can order the book ($30) or look for it at your library.

Armed with the GAR post location and information from the bibliographies in Northcott’s books, you can start your search for GAR rosters, meeting minutes and other records.

For more research resources, see our online Civil War genealogy roundup.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Military records
Wednesday, September 26, 2007 1:02:48 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]