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<2007 October>

More Links

# Wednesday, 17 October 2007
The Generations Network Bought for $300 Million
Posted by Diane

A private equity firm has purchased a majority interest in The Generations Network (TGN, formerly, parent company of, DNA Ancestry,, RootsWeb and others.

Spectrum Equity Investors, already a partial stakeholder in TGN, will pay $300 million for its majority interest. Two of its partners will join TGN president and CEO Tim Sullivan on the new board of directors. Other terms of the purchase weren't disclosed.

Private equity firms buy companies hoping to make money off them, and that’s probably a good bet here. The Generations Network online properties have 900,000 paying subscribers, and receive 8.2 million unique visitors and more than 429 million page views a month. According to the Internet news site TechCrunch, TGN rakes in around $150 million in revenue annually.

Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, 17 October 2007 08:28:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 16 October 2007
DNA Ancestry Emerges From Beta
Posted by Diane’s DNA Ancestry site has emerged from beta offering Y-DNA and mitochondrial tests (ranging from $149 to $199) and promising Ancestry Member Tree users will soon be able to add their test results to the information in their trees.

Public trees are searchable, so theoretically, you could find the name of a candidate for your great-grandfather, take a DNA test and see if you’re a match to his descendant.

DNA Ancestry seems user-friendly, with streamlined test ordering, and genetic genealogy information (including sample test result reports) linked on the right side of the home page. You also can listen to Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak,’s chief family historian and co-author (with Ann Turner) of Trace Your Roots With DNA (Rodale, $14.95), talk about genetic genealogy on NPR.

People who get tested with DNA Ancestry are automatically notified of matches in its DNA database. You’ll be able to enter results from other labs in the database, which isn’t yet available but will be free.

Of course, you’ll want to take the site’s marketing with a grain of salt. An ad on says “Looking for your ancestors? Just say ‘aah.’” Kind of gives the impression you take a test and boom, you know your missing ancestor’s name and place of birth.

Yes, you might take a test and immediately learn you unquestionably match a cousin who knows your family history back to the Dark Ages. But we’re not to the point where that’s possible for all. You’ll probably need to plug your test results into several databases before finding a match, and those matches may be iffy enough that you have to do more genealogical research before you can say for sure whether and how you’re related.

You can get more details on DNA Ancestry on its FAQ page and blog. Look in an upcoming Family Tree Magazine for our article featuring  answers to genealogists' pressing genetic genealogy questions.

Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, 16 October 2007 11:15:36 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 15 October 2007
Batch Photo Scanning Services
Posted by Allison

For our January 2008 issue, contributing editor Rick Crume wrote an article about methods for scanning family photographs—a process that often can be tedious and time-consuming. One option Rick describes in the article is batch photo-scanning services. You ship off your pictures to the company, which then scans and delivers your digital images and originals in just a few days. These services are economical, too; you can get up to 1,000 photos digitized for as little as $50.

The catch, of course, is you have to let your pictures out of your possession. If you’re like me, you might not feel so comfortable entrusting your precious memories to UPS or the postal service. So this type of service might not be the best choice for irreplaceable historical photos.

On the other hand, if you don’t scan or otherwise copy your favorite photos—from yesterday and today—you risk losing them should they become victims of a flood, fire or even the family dog. If you have duplicates of photos, batch scanning seems like an ideal solution for getting them digititzed.

In addition to photographic prints, many services will also scan 35 mm slides and negatives. Depending on the service, you can get your scans on a CD, DVD, USB drive or even have them stored online.

Here’s a sampling of the services we’ve found. Know of any others? Post a comment.

30 Minute Photos Etc.


Digital Pickle


Larsen Digital



Family Tree Magazine articles
Monday, 15 October 2007 14:03:55 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Friday, 12 October 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

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 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, 12 October 2007 13:25:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 10 October 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, 10 October 2007 13:36:38 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 09 October 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, 09 October 2007 09:17:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 05 October 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, 05 October 2007 17:24:36 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 04 October 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, 04 October 2007 16:15:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 03 October 2007 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. searches message boards, family Web sites,'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 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 to see the changes,” says Barry.

Results for sites that have searchable data (such as FamilySearch and 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 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, 03 October 2007 14:17:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 02 October 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, 02 October 2007 14:57:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]