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# Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Online exhibit reveals lives left behind
Posted by Grace

Until the 1960s, being institutionalized for psychiatric reasons was often a life sentence. Willard Asylum in Upstate New York, which opened in 1869, housed more than 50,000 patients during its operation, and nearly half of those died there.

After Willard Psychiatric Center, as it was later named, closed in 1995, staffers found hundreds of abandoned suitcases and trunks belonging to former residents. A state museum curator arranged to have the trove of trunks and artifacts moved to a warehouse, where Darby Penney and Peter Stastny encountered them in 1999. Along with a photographer, they selected a few of the suitcase owners to research, and the results became a major New York State Archives exhibit, now available to view online at www.suitcaseexhibit.org.

Using the contents of the trunks, including photographs, immigration papers, newspaper clippings and other ephemera, as starting points, Penney and Stastny were able to create comprehensive biographies of nine suitcase owners, which you can read on the Suitcase Exhibit Web site. The profiles are deeply moving. Many of the stories of how the suitcase owners came to be institutionalized are shocking. One patient was committed because her employers described her as "odd, tactless and domineering."

"The Lives They Left Behind" exhibit is on display through Jan. 31, 2008, at the Science, Industry and Business Library in New York City. Visit the library’s Web site for more information. (The exhibit travels to Auburn, NY, and Flint, Mich., next year. Visit the Suitcase Exhibit Web site for details.) The accompanying book, The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases From a State Hospital Attic, is being released in January.

P.S.: If you have an ancestor who was institutionalized, you might find our Now What? Blog post on finding records from state hospitals useful.


Museums | Social History
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 3:24:02 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
PC Magazine Reviews Family Tree Maker 2008
Posted by Diane

Not to beat a dead horse, but has anyone seen PC Magazine’s review of Family Tree Maker 2008?

The reviewer, Lisa Reufenacht, gave it four out of five stars (or circles, or whatever those are). You can kinda tell she doesn’t do a lot of genealogy research. The word GEDCOM is nowhere to be found, and she makes no mention of genealogists' uproar over the software’s functionality problems and missing reports. She also notes Family Tree Maker 2008 is the only genealogy program she knows of offering automatic Ancestry.com searching, apparently unaware that’s because both products come from the same company.

Of course the PC Magazine review is intended for a general audience, one not necessarily composed of genealogical enthusiasts. “Within 10 minutes, I had a family history … going back to my great-grandparents on my dad's side,” Reufenacht says. “I didn't have to search for any of the information—Family Tree Maker and Ancestry.com did everything for me.”

Makes us a little sad to think about users who’ll be at a loss for what to do when Ancestry.com runs out of records (or doesn’t have any) on their ancestors.

Though her review focused heavily on the auto-searching, Reufenacht did hit the nail on the head with this one: Used without a $155.40-per-year Ancestry.com subscription, Family Tree Maker loses some its shine.

Look for Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Rick Crume’s Family Tree Maker 2008 review—from a genealogist’s perspective—in our March 2008 issue, on newsstands mid-January (note our magazine is not affiliated with the software).

You can join the Family Tree Maker 2008 discussion in our Product News and Reviews Forum.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Software
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 2:29:34 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
New Research Helps on FamilyTreeMagazine.com
Posted by Diane

I wanted to let you know about a few goodies we’ve recently added to our Web site.

First is a group of free research guides—let’s call them “kits.” Each kit is a collection of tips, background information, Web sites, books and CDs to help you with these research topics:
At the top of each page in the kit, you’ll see an In This Article list of what’s on that page. At the bottom of each page, use the More on This Topic section to link to other pages in the kit.

For your researching convenience, we’ve also put together a free PDF guide to locations and contact information for FamilySearch’s Family History Centers in the United States and Canada. You can download that from www.familytreemagazine.com/fhcs.


Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy | Oral History | Research Tips
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 10:12:22 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Looking for one's own Peeps
Posted by Grace

The Birmingham Public Library posted this too-cute video about a little guy's genealogy quest:


Genealogy fun | Libraries and Archives | Videos
Tuesday, December 11, 2007 4:37:39 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Monday, December 10, 2007
A Happy Holiday Field Trip
Posted by Allison

Few aspects of our Family Tree Magazine editor jobs are as enjoyable as getting out into the genealogical community and meeting the readers of the magazine—particularly our friends at the Anderson (Ohio) Senior Center Genealogy Group.

The group’s fearless leader, Bill Warden, invited our staff to speak to the group at Christmastime in 2004. Thus began our now-traditional “Editors and Cookies” visit each December, wherein the group members bring their favorite cookies to share, including some from heirloom recipes. (Yum!)

So we were delighted to learn that Bill brought take-out boxes to today’s session so we could bring some back to the office! Check out the spread:



But the cookies weren’t the best part of our visit. Far better is the opportunity to interact with people who are passionate about family history—and in many cases, Family Tree Magazine. It’s truly gratifying to hear how the work we do every day helps people, and to know that we make their hobby more enjoyable.

I think everyone had fun today taking the genealogy personality quiz that will appear in our March 2008 issue. Here is everyone concentrating on selecting their answers…



Although we can’t visit every genealogy group personally, of course, we’d love to hear what you like (or don’t like) about Family Tree Magazine. Post your feedback in our Talk to Us Forum.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy societies
Monday, December 10, 2007 6:19:15 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
DNA Tests Verify Pets' Pedigrees, Too
Posted by Diane

Now four-legged family members can get in on the genetic genealogy act, too. That’s right—owners of mixed-breed pooches can learn about their pets’ pedigrees so they can confidently answer the question, “So what kind of dog is that?”

Fern Glazer, our writer who got genetic genealogy experts to answer readers’ common DNA quandaries for the March 2008 Family Tree Magazine (on newsstands mid-January), uncovered a couple of companies that do doggy DNA testing:
  • Last August, DNA Print Genomics launched Doggie DNAPrint 1.0, a test costing about $100 that examines 204 canine markers obtained from a cheek swab to reveal your dog’s ancestry population (its relationship to four ancient ancestral breeds). The company is also building a purebred database that eventually will let you compare your dog's DNA for accurate breed identification.
  • Mars Veterinary recently rolled out The Wisdom Panel MX test. Using a blood sample your veterinarian takes, the test detects specific combinations of genetic markers that can reveal the breed heritage of your dog.


Genealogy fun | Genetic Genealogy
Monday, December 10, 2007 5:21:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, December 06, 2007
Don't Know Much About Family History, But We Want To
Posted by Diane

Lots of Americans say they’re interested in their family history, but many actually don’t know much about their ancestors, according to an Ancestry.com survey released today.

Seventy-eight percent of survey respondents said they’re interested in learning more about their families, but half could name only one or none of their grandparents, 60 percent didn’t know both grandmothers’ maiden names, and 22 percent couldn’t say what either grandfather did or does for a living.

Half the survey respondents had ever researched their roots.

This may be a bit unexpected: More young people than older people were among the 78 percent wanting to know more about their roots. Eighty-three percent of 18-to-34-year-olds were interested, followed 35-to-54-year-olds at 77 percent and those 55 and older at 73 percent.

Could be the older folks are already doing genealogy and know a lot about their families, so they’re not as worried about learning more.

The research firm MarketTools conducted the survey. Information about the number of respondents and how they were surveyed wasn’t available.

What do you think of the numbers? Click comment to share your two cents.


Genealogy Industry
Thursday, December 06, 2007 1:44:23 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Wednesday, December 05, 2007
1901 and 1911 Irish Censuses Going Online
Posted by Diane

We’ve just seen the first fruits of a project from the National Archives of Ireland and Library and Archives Canada to digitize, index and post online the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses.

You now can search or browse Dublin’s 1911 census records free at www.census.nationalarchives.ie; the rest of the 1911 and then 1901 records will follow.

Search on a name or place, then and click on a match to see a page with the household's residents and links to PDF images of the dwelling’s census return forms (they were a bit slow to load).

What an exciting development, and not only because contributing editor Sharon DeBartolo Carmack tipped us off just in time to slip the good news into our March 2008 Irish research guide before the issue went to press.

The project is creating the only master index to Irish census records—currently, you have to look up the district electoral division (DED) for your ancestor's townland (similar to a neighborhood) and residence, then find the Family History Library census microfilm covering the right DED.

On your relative’s Household Return (Form A) for 1901, you’ll find his or her name, age, sex, relationship to the head of household, religion, occupation, marital status, county or country of birth, and ability to read, write and speak Irish.

All of that’s also in the 1911 census, plus, for married women, the numbers of years of marriage, children born alive and children still living.

You can get a good picture of your family’s economic status, too: On the House and Building Return (Form B), census takers recorded details about dwellings, such as number of windows, type of roof, number of rooms a family occupies, and overall condition.

Though Ireland took censuses every 10 years starting in 1821, the infamous 1922 Four Courts fire took a toll, as did government officials who destroyed old returns once they gathered statistical information. The 1921 count was skipped due to the Irish Civil War, leaving 1901 and 1911 as the only censuses available.


Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy | Research Tips
Wednesday, December 05, 2007 10:48:52 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Ancestry.com Adds Passport Applications
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.com has added a passport applications dating from 1795 to 1925, taken from microfilm in National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) record group 59, General Records of the Department of State.
 
The US government has issued passports to citizens traveling abroad since 1789. But except for short periods during the Civil War and World War I, passports weren't required until 1941.

A non-naturalized immigrant couldn’t get a passport unless he’d formally declared his intention to become a citizen.

If your ancestor’s passport application is among the 1.5  million here, you’re genealogically set. A few I found include the applicant’s birthplace and year, occupation, hometown, length of uninterrupted residence in the United States, date and court of naturalization, reason for travel and appearance (for the man who submitted this application, right down to his “flat” nose).

According to NARA’s Web site, 95 percent of mid-19th century passport applicants were men. A man's wife and children traveling with him were listed on his passport. Likewise, children traveling with only their mother were on her documents.

Later in the 1800s, women more often obtained passports in their own names. By 1923, they constituted more than 40 percent of applicants.

The records are available with a $155.40-per-year subscription to Ancestry.com, or you can order copies from NARA. Note passports issued March 4 and 5, 1919, are missing from NARA’s film and from Ancestry.com's database.

Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, December 04, 2007 9:14:34 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, December 03, 2007
Family Tree Magazine Sponsors Family History Expo
Posted by Diane

Guess what? We’re sponsoring ourselves a genealogy conference!

Family Tree Magazine is the key sponsor for the fourth annual Family History Expo, Feb. 8 and 9 in St. George, Utah.

The conference (formerly the Genealogy and Family Heritage Jamboree) draws speakers from all over the United States, including Trace Your Roots With DNA co-author and Ancestry.com historian Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, Reading Early American Handwriting author Kip Sperry, DearMYRTLE blogger Pat Richley, World Vital Records president David Lifferth, RootsMagic president Bruce Buzbee and others.

The exhibit hall will feature more than 60 exhibitors, including Family Tree Magazine in booth 419. Each attendee gets a free Family Tree Magazine, plus chances to win prizes such as subscriptions and The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists (Family Tree Books, $29.99).

Registration costs $60 in advance (sign up online at MyAncestorsFound) or $65 at the door.

Here’s a little extra incentive: Nestled in the southwest corner of Utah, St. George is a balmy 50 to 60 degrees in February, when those of us in more northern locales are shivering through bone-chilling temps. I thought you’d come around!


Genealogy Events
Monday, December 03, 2007 4:59:23 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]