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<2008 January>

More Links

# Thursday, 17 January 2008
How not to Begin Your Family History
Posted by Grace

After an excruciatingly long absence, the Genealogue has returned to regular blogging, with a hilarious list of the 10 worst ways to begin your family history.

For example:

4. "My father, Mr. Smith, was probably between eighteen and forty-eight years of age when he met his future wife, Mary [--?--]." 

The list had Allison giggling in her cubicle like a schoolgirl. Click here to read the whole story.

Genealogy fun
Thursday, 17 January 2008 16:16:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 15 January 2008
A Photo Doctor That Makes House Calls
Posted by Allison

On this blog and in our January 2008 issue, we introduced you to some batch photo-scanning services that will quickly and affordably digitize hundreds and even thousands of family photos. The drawback with really old photographs, of course, is you'd have to let those irreplaceable images of your possession.

A Seattle company has the remedy to that dilemma: Memeria will actually bring a high-volume scanner to your house and scan your photos on site—accomplishing in a couple of hours what might take you weeks or months to do on your home scanner, says Memeria president Anthony Miller. "This gives people more time to work on their scrapbooks and genealogy instead of scanning."

The service costs 25 cents per photo, with minimum orders ranging from $50 to $200. Memeria currently serves only the Seattle area, but plans to expand. If you live nearby and are considering a photo digitization project, give the service a look.

Family Heirlooms
Tuesday, 15 January 2008 14:05:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 14 January 2008
Family Tree Firsts—Part Four
Posted by Grace

This weekend I made my first excursion to a Family History Center. Practically every article we publish in Family Tree Magazine recommends going to your local FHC, not only because you have access to the Family History Library’s massive collection of microfilm but also because the volunteers are so helpful!

I gathered my ever-growing file folder of notes and photocopies and headed to the FHC in Norwood, Ohio, to see what I could find. The center is only open for a few hours a day, and since it was a Saturday, there were researchers at nearly every microfilm and computer station.

I struck up a conversation with the volunteers and learned quite a bit about their holdings. The Norwood FHC has many rolls of microfilm on permanent hold from the FHL, and quite an impressive selection of Cincinnati-specific records. They've got most of their rolls of film indexed in the card catalog you see above. (The volunteers recommend asking before you request any roll of microfilm to double-check if it is available locally. You could save $5.50!)

Most of my family is in Northeastern Ohio, but I did find a roll of Cuyahoga County birth records in the local holdings. One of the volunteers retrieved it for me and helped me get set up at a microfilm reader, and I began poking around the index and the recorded births. My great-grandmother's birth record didn't appear to be on the roll, but the index for her year did not seem to be complete. An FHC volunteer told me that births in the early 1900s were often recorded months or even years after the fact, so there's no telling where my great-grandmother would show up.

I did make one big discovery while I was at the FHC—I found out that I get very queasy looking at microfilm. Will this be the end of my genealogy quest?

Earlier in Family Tree Firsts:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Family Tree Firsts | FamilySearch | Libraries and Archives
Monday, 14 January 2008 13:12:02 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 11 January 2008 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 blog (also see'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, 11 January 2008 17:14:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, 10 January 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 for genetic genealogy advice, explanations and resources.

Steve Morse also has created One-Step Tools for searching online databases such as and (you must subscribe to 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, 10 January 2008 13:18:52 (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, 10 January 2008 09:25:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 09 January 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

Genealogy Web Sites | Military records | Social History
Wednesday, 09 January 2008 08:35:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 08 January 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, 08 January 2008 08:14:30 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 07 January 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, 07 January 2008 15:49:30 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, 04 January 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, 04 January 2008 09:29:49 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]