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# Thursday, November 15, 2007
Project to send data to the moon
Posted by Grace

Archivists and tech guys alike recommend using offsite data backup when creating copies of important records. But a new preservation project's storage location takes the cake.

For a donation of $10, Lunar Legacy will send your story and photo to the moon. That's right, they will send pictures of your dog, your Nana or the Grand Canyon to the celestial body orbiting the earth.

The project is backed by the Google Lunar X Prize, which challenges private companies to send a robot rover to the moon. A $20 million prize will go to the first team to complete a set of objectives including sending video, images and data back to Earth by the end of 2012.

The photos and messages uploaded to www.lunarlegacy.org will be stored on every vehicle that attempts to make the voyage. You can see what people have uploaded so far by clicking here.


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy fun
Thursday, November 15, 2007 1:34:57 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Map Chicago Ancestors on Interactive Site
Posted by Diane

Chicago's Newberry Library has created a Web site to help you with place-based research of your Windy City ancestors.

ChicagoAncestors.org is a searchable interactive mapping site. Type in an address, and you’ll get a map showing the location, along with nearby churches, sites of crimes and more. Roll over the map markers for each place to see data such as addresses, date and type of crime, associated library resources or links to online images. (The data come from sites such as Homicide in Chicago and Jazz Age Chicago.)

There's also a keyword search box, Type in St. Thomas, and you’ll see locations of churches with that name.

You’ll want to read the search tips. You need to use address conversion tools for addresses before 1909, and leave off street descriptors such as Ave. or Rd. For example, I entered 137 DeKoven St., which is where Mrs. O’Leary (whose cow did not start the Chicago Fire) lived in 1871, and got nothing. But after downloading the 1909 street number conversion book (under Tools) as a large PDF, I looked up the address, searched on 558 Dekoven, and got my map.

Wondering if Mrs. O’Leary might’ve attended nearby St. Wenceslaus church, I clicked on its name and got its years in organization and a list of its available records at the Family History Library.

Registered ChicagoAncestors.org users can click to add their own comments to map points or map their own genealogical information and save it to their profile.

Click Tools to get street guides, more maps and other useful links; and click What’s New for updates from the Webmasters.



Here, Mrs. O'Leary's address is the blue star, and the yellow dot is the site of nearby criminal activity.

Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Wednesday, November 14, 2007 5:33:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Just-Discovered Slave Records Go To Pennsylvania Museum
Posted by Diane

A county recorder of deeds discovered historical slavery-era papers in old Allegheny County, Pa., deed books. (Allegheny County is home to Pittsburgh.)

Read in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette how a county employee found the papers.

The office transferred handwritten documents recording the legal status of 56 African-American slaves to the Senator John Heinz History Center. The oldest papers date to 1792, the year Peter Cosco purchased his freedom from John McKee for 100 pounds.

The history center will make the papers available to researchers in its library and online.

You can find tips and resources for researching African-American ancestors in FamilyTreeMagazine.com's online toolkit.


African-American roots | Libraries and Archives
Wednesday, November 14, 2007 9:10:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
MacFamilyTree 5 Released
Posted by Diane

Synium software has released MacFamilyTree 5, promising a speedier database engine and redesigned user interface. It also integrates a Web hosting service so registered customers can upload their family trees in HTML format for free.

The program is compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and 10.5 (Leopard). Download it for $49 or pay $25 to upgrade.

Symium offered MacFamilyTree in beta starting Oct. 1. We review version 4.5, released in July, in the January 2008 Family Tree Magazine.


Genealogy Software
Wednesday, November 14, 2007 9:03:15 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, November 12, 2007
World Vital Records Offers Digitization Services
Posted by Diane

The subscription genealogy database site World Vital Records has expanded its services to include digitally preserving your family mementos. Its new Preservation Packages include
  • converting 8mm, 16mm, miniDVs and VHS tapes to DVD
  • scanning photos and documents
  • digitizing slides and negatives
  • storing digitized images on a secure server
In a World Vital Records user panel survey, 91 percent of members said they were concerned about preserving photos, videos, and/or documents.

Exact pricing isn’t available; Word Vital Records says rates are 50 to 70 percent less than retail value. Call the company toll-free (888) 377-0588 for details.

For information on several batch photo-scanning services and do-it-yourself tips, see the January 2008 Family Tree Magazine and our blog post


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, November 12, 2007 5:53:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Report Urges Opening Adoptees' Birth Records
Posted by Diane

A report released today could help change how—and whether—adopted people can search for their family trees.

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute examined whether adopted people, once they become adults, should have access to their original birth information.

The report’s conclusion is "yes," and it urges all states to follow the eight (Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee) that already allow adults who were adopted to access their original birth records. The institute found that in states with open records, “most birthparents and adoptees handle any contact with maturity and respect.”

You can read the report online and learn about the controversy surrounding opening birth records for adopted individuals at CNN.com.

For many genealogists, an adopted parent or grandparent presents a research brick wall. According to the report, some states have restored access more narrowly, “typically to individuals who were adopted prior to the state's law sealing this information.”

You can get help researching ancestral adoptions in the February 2007 Family Tree Magazine. Also see these links:

Family Tree Magazine articles | Public Records
Monday, November 12, 2007 4:47:54 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, November 09, 2007
High School Posts and Preserves WWII Letters
Posted by Diane

Over on the FamilyTreeMagazine.com Forum, mdrogers posted a message about a project at Clover Hill High School in Midlothian, Va., to collect WWII letters, photos and diaries. The Research and Technology class transcribes the letters, archivally preserves them, and posts the text online at It Took a War.

Each letter is accompanied by a little background about the writer. You also can view photos from the front and read or watch interviews with service members.

“My father was a very patriotic man,” says Rose Young, an Army nurse who was at the Battle of the Bulge. “My brother enlisted in service first, and [my father] was proud to have a son, but how many men had a daughter that went away? So he puffed his chest all the time about the fact that he had a daughter in service.”

What a great way for students to learn about history and research, and what a great site for you to peruse.


Genealogy Web Sites | Military records
Friday, November 09, 2007 4:43:27 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, November 08, 2007
Research London Children's Hospital Records
Posted by Diane

I learned about this cool resource for British ancestors from the ResearchBuzz newsletter about online search engines and databases:

A new Web site provides historical admission record transcriptions from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London.

The free Small and Special database contains information on more than 85,000 patient admissions from the hospital’s opening in February 1852, through 1914.

You can do a simple search on a name and birth year (exact or choose a range) on the home page. Or, click Search on the left of the page to search on other parameters such as patient’s address, admission date and disease.

Results show the patient’s name, age and address; illness, outcome (such as “died” or “relieved”), admission and discharge dates, and case notes (if any). You have to register with the site to see details such as case notes.

Under the left-hand Gallery link, you can browse photographs. Click Library to see articles about the hospital, staff, and patients such as little Minnie Ashman, who suffered from empyema.



Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Thursday, November 08, 2007 9:27:33 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Pennsylvania Debates "Open" Records Bill
Posted by Diane

Pennsylvanians are debating a public records law that could make their state the least transparent in the country.

HB 443 is an apparent attempt to bring public records law up-to-date, especially with respect to electronic records. This much-amended bill doesn’t, as some have reported, close all records with birth dates and addresses. Section 307, which lists records “deemed inaccessible,” makes an exception for personal information of deceased individuals:
“The exemption under this paragraph relating to the disclosure of an individual's home address shall not apply to … any former address of a deceased person. The exemption under this paragraph relating to the disclosure of an individual's birth date shall not apply to the birth date of a deceased person.”
Read the full text of the law on the Pennsylvania legislature Web site.

Currently, Pennsylvania vital records from the past 100 years, stored at the Division of Vital Records, are off limits to all but immediate family. You can request birth and death records prior to 1906 from the county where the event was recorded.

But open-records advocates are denouncing HB 443 provisions that close much government agency correspondence and all government e-mail. That would make Pennsylvania the only state in the nation to take such a step. Other states are either explicitly opening e-mailed correspondence or they don't distinguish between electronic and paper records.

You can read more about this debate on PassOpenRecords.org.


Public Records
Thursday, November 08, 2007 8:18:57 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Family Tree Firsts—Part One
Posted by Grace

Do you remember the first time you made a records request?

I do—it was yesterday.

When I was growing up, I tagged along on trips to state archives and libraries while my mother and her sisters and mother were researching her family line. But my genealogy experience is limited to that and working here at Family Tree Magazine—which, let's face it, is probably the absolute best way to learn about tracing your family's history.

With every resource at my fingertips (namely, every Family Tree Magazine ever printed and our Ancestry.com access), I started to get curious about my Dad's side of the family. I know that most of my great-grandparents emigrated from Eastern Europe, but it gets hazy from there.

My first step (and probably the easiest) was using Steve Morse's One-Step Search tools to see if I could find any of my great-grandparents on any passenger lists. After a brief period of believing my great-grandfather Stanley had changed his name from Wikenty after arriving, I realized that passenger records have two pages and saw that Wikenty was coming to stay with his brother Stanislaw—bingo. (Jumping to conclusions should be the cardinal sin of genealogy.)

I began filling out a printout of our downloadable five-generation pedigree chart with as much information as I knew. Armed with three of my great-grandparents' Social Security numbers (found in the Social Security Death Index) and the requisite forms from the SSA, I mailed off requests for copies of their SS-5 forms, the application for a Social Security number.

And now I wait. With any luck, I'll soon (soon being a relative term) know the real birthdates and birthplaces of my great-grandparents and finally find out their parents' names. In the mean time, I'm really looking forward to the next time I see my grandparents—I have so many questions to ask.


Family Tree Firsts
Wednesday, November 07, 2007 9:47:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]