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# Friday, January 11, 2008
Ancestry.com Tree Migrations Hit a Rough Patch
Posted by Diane

I was surfing around, seeing what’s going on, and came across an issue causing quite a stir.

A few weeks ago, The Generations Network announced it was shutting down the technologically ancient Online Family Trees system, which members have used since 1999 to store genealogical information online free.

The company will focus on the newer, also free Ancestry Family Trees system, introduced in 2006.

OFT users have until March 2008 to migrate their trees to AFT. It seems the migration process has been rife with problems, as you'll see on the Ancestry.com blog (also see Ancestry.com's 24/7 Family History Circle blog).

OFT users have complained of lost notes (notes are private in AWT, or take the form of stories and comments), data transfer errors and displeasure with the AWT system.

The Generations Network's blogger, Kenny Freestone, says a heretofore unknown GEDCOM format problem has caused errors in about 30 percent of the migrations from OFT to AFT, and that the problem will be fixed.

In the meantime, if you have a tree on OFT, don’t delete it (migrating your tree doesn't automatically delete it), and go ahead and export a GEDCOM and save it to your hard drive.

Note this doesn't affect the files in Ancestry World Tree, which contains the same files as RootsWeb's WorldConnect.


Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, January 11, 2008 5:14:19 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, January 10, 2008
Morse Adds One-Step Tools for Genetic Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Steve Morse, creator of the One-Step search tools Web site, has added genetic genealogy utilities to his site.

Rather than find matches in genetic genealogy databases (we’d love to see that utility), these free tools help you learn more about your DNA test results. Three of the tools work using data from the FamilyTreeDNA Web site, so customers of other companies will have to pass on those. The tools include:
  • FamilyTreeDNA Markers: Use this one to view your Y-chromosome test results from FamilyTreeDNA—just enter your kit and code numbers.
  • Haplogroups: Anyone who's taken a Y-DNA test can get a pretty good idea of his haplogroup by entering his STR marker values. (If you're a FamilyTreeDNA client, just enter your kit and code number.) As Morse explains, haplogroups are defined by SNP markers, but you usually don’t get SNP values in a Y-DNA test report. STR marker values, though, can predict a haplogroup.
  • Group Chart: Here, you can generate a DNA chart for a group of people for easier test results comparison. Each group member must have tested with FamilyTreeDNA.
  • Distances: FamilyTreeDNA clients can use their group chart (generated with the Group Chart tool) to compute the genetic distances among members of the group.   
  • Migration Details: Select your haplogroup from a dropdown menu to get a description of your ancient ancestors’ migrations across the globe. You’ll see shifts in haplogroups and the mutation numbers that defined the shifts, along with the geographic location and time range the mutation took place.
  • Migration Map: Select your haplogroup to generate a visual representation of the migration details described above.
See the DNA toolkit on FamilyTreeMagazine.com for genetic genealogy advice, explanations and resources.

Steve Morse also has created One-Step Tools for searching online databases such as EllisIsland.org and Ancestry.com (you must subscribe to Ancestry.com to see search results from its databases). You'll find hints for using the tools in the February 2007 Family Tree Magazine


Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Thursday, January 10, 2008 1:18:52 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
"No, not a gerontologist"
Posted by Grace

Schelly Talalay Dardashti has posted a question on her Tracing the Tribe blog: How do people react when you tell them you're a genealogist?

As Schelly writes:

Do they ask how many babies you've delivered—thinking you said gynecologist; what caves or oil fields you've discovered—confusing you with a geologist; or simply think you are strange for happily shlepping through cemeteries looking for dead people (which, you must admit, is a good place to find them)?

Read the whole hilarious post and post your own comments by clicking here.


Genealogy fun
Thursday, January 10, 2008 9:25:42 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Blog Readers Await WWI Soldier's Letters
Posted by Diane

A British war blog is getting a lot of attention lately. What’s unusual is that it’s from World War I—in a way.

On WWI: Experiences of an English Soldier, blogger Bill Lamin is posting letters his grandfather William Henry "Harry" Bonser Lamin wrote from the trenches in France, Italy and elsewhere in Europe during World War I. Each letter appears 90 years to the day after it's dated.

Readers don’t know whether a letter is Harry’s last, just as Harry’s family—sisters Kate and Annie; brother, Jack; wife, Ethel; son Willie; and niece, Connie (whom Harry and Ethel cared for)—didn’t know.

The letters, which Lamin found in his parents’ home, are filled with battle descriptions, complaints about tight quarters and spare rations, thanks for parcels from home, and requests for more missives from family. Harry dated this letter July 14, 1917:
I’m in good health but we have had a rough time this last week or two going on working parties at night digging trenches and one thing and another. One night we were between our lines and the Germans but we all came out alright. It’s a bit rough but it might be worse.
Lamin supplements the letters with photos, updates from genealogical research on the family, and details from the battalion’s official war diary, which you also can read in a separate blog. (Learn more about British battalion and unit war diaries here.)

If you want to find out more about an American WWI soldier, see the WWI research guide in the November 2007 Family Tree Magazine and use the WWI resource toolkit on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.


Genealogy Web Sites | Military records | Social History
Wednesday, January 09, 2008 8:35:44 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Web Updates on Geni, NEHGS
Posted by Diane

We got some updates on a couple of genealogy Web sites this week:
  • The free family networking site Geni has added two features for members. Now you can create a visual history of events in your life by setting up a timeline. Each timeline event, in turn, has its own page, where you can add more information, photos, attendees’ names and comments.
And a new family news page lets you track the latest goings-on in your family—additions to the family tree, birthdays, photos, discussions and more. All your family members’ new events are automatically included on the news page unless the member opts to keep something private. Or, relatives can post directly to the news page.
You can see what these features look like by visiting Geni’s blog.
  • The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) ended 2007 with another 3.2 million-plus names in its online databases, thanks in part to more than 100 volunteers who help scan and digitize the paper collections in the society's Boston library.
New databases include Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (and a project to add record images is halfway complete), early New York probate records, Connecticut vital records, Massachusetts census records (1855-1865), and New York calendar of wills (1636-1826).
NEHGS marketing director Tom Champoux says in 2008 you can look for significantly more records from Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and Maine.

Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, January 08, 2008 8:14:30 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, January 07, 2008
The Best Scrapbooking Blogs
Posted by Grace

If you're the crafty type, you're probably at your best when you're among creative people or when you stumble across something beautiful that makes you cry out I want to do that. What's that old saying—no scrapbooker is an island?

The March issue of Family Tree Magazine's Preserving Memories column was conceived while thinking of the crafter in dire need of inspiration. Our very scientific process of visiting approximately a bazillion blogs resulted in this list of five fabulous sites.

Bookmark these babies and enjoy!

Lessons from the Scrapbook Page: On this inspirational blog, you can watch the latest installments of Real Women Scrap TV.

Mad Cropper: Keep up-to-date with news from the scrapbook world and plenty of step-by-step projects.

Memory Makers Blog: The editors of our sister magazine give you a peek at their latest pages (like the one you see at right).

SimpleStudio: Simple Scrapbooks serves up advice plus lots of layouts and photos.

Sprague Lab: This "studio of scrapbook alchemy" focuses on computer-assisted scrapping.


Celebrating your heritage | Genealogy fun
Monday, January 07, 2008 3:49:30 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# 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]