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# Friday, January 04, 2008
Find Northern NY Ancestors in Free News Database
Posted by Diane

Did your ancestors live in New York’s Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego or St. Lawrence counties?

Yes? You’ll want to search the Northern New York Library Network’s free Northern New York Historical Newspapers database.

There, access 910,000 digitized pages from 27 newspapers printed mostly during the 1800s and 1900s. The Plattsburgh Republican is the earliest paper featured, with the coverage starting in 1811; Clarkston Integrator issues range from 1920 all the way up to last year.

You can’t search all the papers at once, so click a title from the list, then type your search terms into the box on the left. Narrow your search by putting phrases in quotation marks ("harold smith") and use Boolean tools (such as a minus sign to exclude a word, as in lake –placid).

See the How to Search page for more tips, and Frequently Asked Questions for a trick to limiting searches by issue date.

Matches show sentence fragments containing your search term, so it can be a bit hard to tell whether a result is relevant.

Just click on a match to download a PDF of that newspaper page. You can zoom in, but your search term isn’t highlighted, so get ready for some reading.


Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Friday, January 04, 2008 9:29:49 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 03, 2008
The Master Genealogist 7.0 Released
Posted by Diane

Wholly Genes Software has released version 7 of The Master Genealogist, billing it in an announcement as “the most comprehensive family history software on the market.” New features include:
  • an Associates Window listing all the people connected to the focus person (for example, as witnesses to an event)
  • customizable pop-up reminders to aid in data entry
  • the ability to make annotations on images
  • more-easily customizable sentences in narratives generated from the program
  • relationship calculation through spouses
  • new filtering and reporting options
The company’s announcement also touts a “long list of interface changes [that] make the program easier to use, especially for novice researchers.” The Master Genealogist is known for its intense orientation to detail which, noted Family Tree Magazine’s April 2002 review of the previous version, resulted in a “steeper learning curve” than other programs.
 
The Master Genealogist comes in two editions: The Gold Edition ($59 for a download; $79.95 for a CD plus 400-page user manual) has some reports and publication tools—including HTML output for Web pages—not in the Silver Edition ($34 download or $39.95 CD).

The cost to upgrade depends on the version you own; you can upgrade from version 6.12 for $29.95. TMG 7.0 is compatible with Windows 2000, XP or Vista.


Genealogy Software
Thursday, January 03, 2008 8:47:37 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, January 02, 2008
10 Biggest Genealogy News Stories in 2007
Posted by Diane

Here are the top genealogy developments of 2007… at least in our humble opinion. Got one to add to (or kick off of) the list? Got an opinion which news is the biggest? Click Comment (below) and get it off your chest.

Competition comes back
For a few years there, after industry leader MyFamily.com (now The Generations Network) purchased second-place Genealogy.com in 2003, industry competition ebbed and online innovation slowed. Today The Generations Network is still the giant, but the growth of relative newcomers including World Vital Records and Footnote, plus FamilySearch’s records-digitization initiatives, are keeping the genealogy business on its toes.

Records digitization accelerates
In October, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced it was teaming up with FamilySearch to digitize case files of approved pension applications from widows of Civil War Union soldiers. That’s part of an even bigger arrangement that has FamilySearch volunteers stationed at NARA to scan all kinds of records. Footnote also has agreements to digitize NARA records, and FamilySearch has mobilized thousands of volunteers to index scanned records.

Partnerships proliferate
Organizations are joining forces right and left. World Vital Records, which launched in 2006, has built its genealogy database largely through partnership agreements. That site, Footnote, ProQuest and the Godfrey Library announced in May they’d provide access at FamilySearch’s Family History Centers. Nonprofit libraries and archives, including NARA, are using partnerships to increase records access without blowing their budgets.

Social networking explodes
As contributing editor Rick Crume points out in his January 2008 Family Tree Magazine social networking guide, Web 2.0 has allowed sites to be more interactive than ever. In addition to the popularity of photo- and family-history-sharing sites such as Geni and Amiglia, and genealogy networking sites such as FamilyLink and WeRelate, database sites such as FindMyPast have added social networking features.

Family Tree Maker 2008 disappoints
Surely you’ve seen the comments from customers who bought the revamped genealogy program after a brief beta period, only to be disappointed by missing reports, data importing problems and other bugs. If not, let us help you out from under that rock, and take a look at readers’ comments in our products forum.

DNA testing gets higher profile
Your options for genetic genealogy testing—and the number of companies that’ll test you—jumped this year. The Generations Network hopped on board with DNA Ancestry. Mainstream media regularly weigh in on topics such as newcomer 23andme and the usefulness of testing for ethnic roots. PBS’s "African-American Lives" has brought genetic genealogy to prime time.

NARA rates rise
NARA's new rates for ordering copies of records, which included $75 for a Civil War pension file (up from $37), made us wonder about national priorities regarding the public’s access to historical records. Thank goodness for all that digitization (above).

Everyone’s blogging
It’s not hard to find genealogy news, resources and research updates from people in the know—just go to Google Blog Search and type in genealogy. You might come across The Ancestry Insider (an “unofficial, unauthorized view ...”), Geneablogie (the author’s “exploration of his American family of families”) or one of the tens of thousands of other blogs about family history. Heck, Family Tree Magazine got in on the act, too.

Online videos are everywhere
Thank Roots Television for this one. It actually launched in 2006, but expanded its coverage this year by sending crews to genealogy conferences and on cruises, and adding RootsTube (a genealogical version of YouTube where you can upload videos). Founder Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak says the site's roughly 400 shows (divided into 1,100 smaller chunks) are "pushing half a million video views."

Genealogists get younger
A survey Ancestry.com recently released found younger people expressed higher interest in learning heir family history. Empirical evidence—young people at conferences, youth branches of national societies (see our Web site for links) and Facebook genealogy add-ons—also tells us this. This means genealogy can continue its status among the country’s popular pastimes.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, January 02, 2008 4:12:58 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Monday, December 31, 2007
New Year's Family History Numbers
Posted by Diane

Happy New Year! Here are some facts and figures related to celebrations past and present:

255: years Americans have officially observed the start of the new year Jan. 1
200,000: attendees at the first Times Square New Year’s Eve party in 1904
1 million: Times Square revelers today
98: years New York City has dropped the famous ball in Times Square
5: verses in Auld Lang Syne, literally “old long since”
108: gongs struck in Buddhist temples Dec. 31 at midnight
12: grapes Spaniards traditionally eat to ring in the new year
49: points for Michigan (to Stanford’s 0) in the first Rose Bowl game, in 1902
20.1 million: Viewers of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2006
25: estimated percent of New Year’s resolutions that don’t last past Jan. 8


Genealogy fun | Social History
Monday, December 31, 2007 8:24:57 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Season's Greetings from Family Tree Magazine!
Posted by Diane


... from everyone at Family Tree Magazine! That would be (below, l to r) Grace Dobush, assistant editor; Kathy Dezarn, art director; Allison Stacy, editor; and Diane Haddad, managing editor.

We're spending time with our families and blogging a bit less than usual this week, but we'll be back with all kinds of genealogy news and advice right after the New Year.

Genealogy fun
Tuesday, December 25, 2007 3:08:06 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, December 24, 2007
Christmas Traditions Around the World
Posted by Diane

Well, my stocking is hung by the chimney with care, and there better not be a mouse stirring anywhere.

The stocking tradition probably started in Europe, where kids hung their everyday socks from nails for St. Nick to fill. Here are some other holiday traditions our ancestors from around the world have celebrated:

In France, kids put shoes by the door or fireplace, waiting for the Christ child to fill them with presents during the night.

Dutch children put hay and sugar in a shoe outside the house on the night before St. Nick’s Day. After his horse has a snack, St. Nick (Sinterklaas)  leaves goodies in each shoe.

Dec. 13 in Sweden is St. Lucia's Day, celebrating the patron saint of light. Traditionally, a family’s first daughter would wear a long white dress and crown of leaves, then serve coffee and treats to the family. (Somehow I can’t see my sister ever doing this.)

A sprite-like child with angelic wings called the Christkind ("Christ Child") is delivers presents in areas including parts of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Liechtenstein. Legand has it Martin Luther invented the Christkind to discourage the figure of St. Nicholas.

Christmas in the Philippines starts Dec. 16 with dawn masses called Misas de Aguinaldo (Gift Masses) or Misa de Gallo (Rooster's Mass) On Christmas Eve, families go to midnight mass and then eat a traditional feast.

Between Christmas and New Years Day, Norwegians go Julebukking. People wearing masks and costumes knock on neighbors’ doors, and the inhabitants try to guess the julebukkers’ identities.

Inspired by the sound of a burning log, a London confectioner named Tom Smith invented Christmas crackers in 1847. The colorful wrapped tubes that snap and reveal a trinket when people pull on the ends are universally popular in England and other Commonwealth countries. Australians call them bon-bons.

Mexican children leave notes in their shoes on Jan. 6, when tradition holds the Three Wise Men arrived with gifts for baby Jesus.

In the UK and Canada, Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas (or the next week day, if Dec. 26 falls on a weekend). There are many theories behind its origins. Nowadays, it’s known for great sales.


Celebrating your heritage | Genealogy fun | Social History
Monday, December 24, 2007 2:48:33 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, December 21, 2007
Make the Most of Holiday Communiques
Posted by Grace

From Family Tree Magazine contributor Tara Beecham, tips for using family newsletters to aid in your ancestral quest:

Whether you think it's naughty or nice, many family history researchers use holiday communiqués to gather information for their family trees. Determining how to make this request politely requires both focus and brevity.

"I always think it's best to ask as a direct a question as you can," says Sara Skotzke, a professional genealogist based in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, who has included family history questions on past holiday notes. "You're more likely to get a response." Try asking for something specific that can be verified, she said, such as where a person was born, died or was buried.

Sending a genealogy-themed card such as the "Christmas Wish List" ones for sale here ($5.50 for a set of 12) is a way to humorously request the maiden name of Great-Aunt Anna.

Holiday communiqués are also a good platform for soliciting photos from your relatives. When Skotzke asks for pictures of an ancestor, she explains that she will mail the photo back to its owner as well as e-mail a digital copy. "I'll give them incentive to trust me. I will send them a CD of all of the pictures I have of the family—something they get on the other end for doing something nice."

You also could try sharing information about your own family history in the form of a family newsletter to spark dialogue with distant relatives. If you're unsure where to start, word processing programs such as Microsoft Word usually include newsletter templates that you can fill in and print out or e-mail to your family.

As excited as you may be to make headway on your family tree, don't blindside relatives with questions, cautions Doug Collier, a professional genealogist based in Nashville, Tenn. When he writes to say that he's researching the family line, he asks if he can call. "I've always found straight-up verbal conversations, to an extent, to be most-effective," he says, especially when requesting information from older relatives. "Older people have a wealth of knowledge. Every bit of information, regardless of how trivial it may appear, can and does have meaning."


Family Reunions | Research Tips
Friday, December 21, 2007 5:10:31 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, December 20, 2007
The Perils of Paid Obits
Posted by Grace

Paid obituaries have the strange distinction of being considered matter of record even when the newspaper's editors have absolutely no power over their content. Editor & Publisher put up a humorous description of the errors that can be found when families write death notices. For example:

"One descendant's obit claimed his ancestry could be traced back to the Vikings (an honest mistake; I got suckered by that Web site too). Another claimed to be a descendant of George Washington—not good news to Martha, as she and George had no children."

Lesson learned: Take obituaries with a grain of salt. Click here to read the story.


Genealogy fun
Thursday, December 20, 2007 4:14:27 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
FHL and 13 FHCs Get Ancestry.com Back
Posted by Diane

After losing their free Ancestry.com access last spring, researchers at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Family History Library (FHL) and 13 largest Family History Centers (FHCs) will once again be able to search the subscription site's genealogy databases for free.

FamilySearch and The Generations Network (parent company of Ancestry.com) have reached an agreement that provides free on-site Ancestry.com access at the FHL in Salt Lake City and its regional FHCs in

•    Mesa, Ariz.
•    Los Angeles
•    Oakland, Calif.
•    Orange, Calif.
•    Sacramento, Calif.
•    San Diego
•    Idaho Falls, Idaho
•    Pocatello, Idaho
•    Las Vegas
•    Logan, Utah
•    Ogden, Utah
•    St. George, Utah
•    Hyde Park, London, England

The agreement takes effect immediately.

Providing access at these centers was a financial decision, says FamilySearch spokesperson Paul Nauta. "The money would be best spent right now focusing on those 13 centers that accommodate a significant amount of patron traffic. We do desire to provide expanded access to all of our centers in the future."

If your FHC isn't on the list, see if a public library near you offers Ancestry Library Edition, a version of Ancestry.com databases library patrons can use free at subscribing institutions.

Until April 1, the FHL and almost all FHCs had enjoyed free, unlicensed Ancestry.com access since 2000. When it was unable to negotiate a formal arrangement with the LDS Church, The Generations Network discontinued the service (except a few databases for which contracts did exist and which are still available at all FHCs). See the March 29 E-mail Update newsletter for more details.


FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | Libraries and Archives
Thursday, December 20, 2007 8:43:05 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Just What Is Figgy Pudding, Anyway?
Posted by Diane

In the song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” a crew of carolers demands to be served figgy pudding before they’ll leave—causing generations to wonder: What exactly is figgy pudding?

So I checked around. It’s a British-style pudding, actually resembling more of a cake, which reached its popularity peak as a Christmas dessert in the 1800s.

You can bake, steam or boil figgy pudding. It’s got figs, of course, plus apples, nuts, cinnamon, cloves, butter, sugar, bread crumbs, milk and eggs. Oh, yes—the recipe I found also calls for three strips of finely crushed bacon. Just what I love in a dessert.

The ancestor of figgy pudding (and plum pudding) is a medieval spiced porridge known as Frumenty.

Here’s a nontraditional figgy pudding with persimmons. Bon appetit!


Celebrating your heritage | Genealogy fun | Social History
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 9:08:23 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]