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# Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Watch African-American Lives 2 Premiere This Week
Posted by Diane

Plan to park yourself in front of your TV tomorrow night to watch "African-American Lives 2," the latest in a succession of Henry Louis Gates-hosted shows that has genealogy experts tracing the roots of well-known African-Americans. The two-part series premieres Feb. 6.

Producers added a twist this year: Everyday folks could apply to have their own pasts explored along with those of 11 VIPs, including actor Don Cheadle, comedian Chris Rock and Olympic athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Of the more than 2,000 applicants, producers selected Kathleen Henderson, a college administrator in Dayton, Ohio.

A week or so ago, Henderson told me a legend her family proudly exchanges at reunions about the source of their Woodbridge surname. “When slavery ended, our ancestor left the plantation and struck out on his on,” she said, explaining that the story got more elaborate depending whom you asked.

“He wanted to shed himself of the remnants of slavery, so he took nothing, especially not the master’s last name. After he left the plantation, the first thing he came across was a wooden bridge, so that’s where the name came from.”

You’ll have to wait until the show airs to find out this freedman’s identity and the truth behind the family legend.

Henderson also says the show’s researchers dug up some information on her father’s mother that “blew my mind.”

On the "African-American Lives 2" Web site, you can meet Henderson, quiz yourself on source documents the researchers used, hear from genetic genealogy experts, and see the show participants’ ancestral events plotted on a historical timeline.

Henderson sees what she learned as a springboard for more discoveries. “It’s part of a chapter, or it’s the first edition. It answered a lot, but it set up more questions for us.”

 Check local air times on the show's Web site.


African-American roots
Tuesday, February 05, 2008 2:22:22 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, January 31, 2008
World Vital Records Launches International Collection
Posted by Diane

Starting Monday, Feb. 4, FamilyLink's World Vital Records subscription database site will be outfitted with a new, gargantuan World Collection of international records.

Built through partnerships with more than 20 record-holding organizations, the World Collection has more than 1.5 billion records from about 35 countries, including England, Canada, Australia, France, Ireland, Scotland, Hungary and Portugal. It’ll double World Vital Records’ offerings.

Some of the new collection's major components:
  • UK census records (1851 to 1901) from FindMyPast.com, to be posted county-by-county through out the year, including record images
  • newspapers from Australia, the Bahamas, Chile, Ecuador, England, Ireland, Canada and Mexico
Other partners include Archive CD Books businesses in Canada and Australia, Irish reference publisher Eneclann, the Godfrey Memorial Library in Connecticut, UK records site British Origins and Australian book distributor Gould Genealogy.

The World Collection, which includes the US Collection records already on World Vital Records, costs $149.95 per year, but you can sign up for $99.95 until Feb.4. [Note: We've just learned of a new World Collection discount—$119.95 if you sign up by Feb. 11.]

The US Collection by itself costs $49.95 per year, or you can get two years for $79.95 if you sign up by Feb. 4.

We're going to give the World Collection a whirl and report back. If you try it, click Comment and let us know what you think.


Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Thursday, January 31, 2008 5:02:03 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Great Registers are Great California Resource
Posted by Diane

California’s “Great Registers”--the voter registration lists counties published by law every two years—are now searchable on the subscription database service Ancestry.com.

They contain more than 30 million names of people who registered to vote from 1900 to 1944 (and through 1968 for a few counties). Their frequency makes them great for filling gaps between federal censuses.

Search by name and county, then click on a name in the results to see a digitized images of the registration books page showing that person. You’ll see his or her name, occupation, address and party affiliation. Some registers show an age, and early ones may give naturalization details. This one is from 1916.



Women received the right to vote in 1911 in California, so you won’t see them in the Great Registers until 1912.

Ancestry.com's images came from the collections of the California State Library in Sacramento—where you can access the lists from 1866 to 1898, too. Local libraries and genealogical societies in California often have Great Registers for their areas, and many counties' lists are on Family History Library microfilm (you can borrow it though your local Family History Center).

Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Thursday, January 31, 2008 9:23:01 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, January 30, 2008
25,000 Acres of Civil War Battlefields Protected
Posted by Diane

The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), a group that preserves Civil War battlefields from encroaching development, did some math and announced its 2007 stats.

Last year, CWPT secured the permanent protection of 1,616 acres at 12 battlefields in five states: Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia

One of those site is the Glendale battlefield (also called Frazier's Farm) in Henrico County, Va., where three Confederate divisions converged the retreating Union Army June 30, 1862.

An estimated 75 percent of Glendale's core fighting area is now preserved, at a price of $4.1 million. CWPT works by purchasing acreage or conservation easements (legally enforceable preservation agreements with landowners).

CWPT's 2007 totals pushed it past the 25,000 milestone: Over two decades, the group has protected 25,289 acres of battlefields at 99 sites in 18 states.

On tap so far for 2008: Passage of the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program, which reauthorizes government funding for matching grants to preserve Civil War battlefields.


Historic preservation
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 3:10:58 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 29, 2008
New Online Magazine Highlights African-American Genealogy
Posted by Diane

The Washington Post today launched The Root, an online magazine for African-Americans.

It covers current events and culture, but its name says genealogy. So does its editor—Henry Louis Gates, the Harvard University history professor who became a household name after helping Mae Jemison, Oprah Winfrey and other well-known African-Americans find their roots in PBS' 2006 series “African-American Lives.”

One of the online magazine's three main sections, Roots features an article on getting started, a video about ethnic DNA testing and several book recommendations. It also has video clips from this season’s "African-American Lives 2," in which Gates works with more famous folks and one applicant from the ranks of everyday citizens.

From there, the Mapping and Family Tree links both go to a free family tree builder (you must register to use it). The DNA link, after flashing past a disclosure faster than one could hope to comprehend the first sentence, takes you to Gates’ AfricanDNA testing and research service.

I’m hoping to see this site grow—especially considering its name, there’s so much more to African-American genealogy research and resources than it currently covers.


African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 3:58:41 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, January 25, 2008
Search Great Western Railway Shareholders on British Site
Posted by Diane

British genealogy database site FindMyPast has added the first names from an index to Great Western Railway Shareholders.

This release has records dating from 1835 to 1910. Ultimately, you’ll be able to search information on 290,000 people—including 77,000 shareholders, plus executors and spouses—dating from 1835 to 1932.

Most of the records cover shareholders’ deaths, since the change in share ownership had to be registered. If your ancestor’s in here, you could see his or her name; address; date of death, probate, marriage or other event; and the names of the other parties.

The Great Western Railway, built so Bristol could compete with Liverpool as a commercial port, was founded in 1833 and became the Western Region of British Railways when the railway was nationalized in 1948. It linked London to the West Country, South Wales and the southwest England.

FindMyPast registered users can view details on shareholders with seven pay-per-view units ($14.30 for 60 units) or an Explorer subscription (about $178).

The original shareholders’ records are at the Society of Genealogists’ London headquarters.


Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, January 25, 2008 3:50:31 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 24, 2008
SeqWright Launches Genome Profiling Service
Posted by Diane

Someone else wants to map your genome. Houston-based SeqWright Inc. just launched SeqWright GPS, a genomic profiling service that evaluates your miniscule genomic variations called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, or SNPs (“snips”).

Similar to the recently launched 23andMe, SeqWright customers can use online tools to learn your risk for certain diseases, compare your traits to those of family members who’ve been tested and explore your ancient ancestry. You won’t learn whether you’re related to someone, but rather, which broadly defined population groups you most likely come from.

SeqWright’s Web site is less friendly-looking than 23andMe's, which obviously benefits from Google’s financial investment, and doesn’t make quite as much effort to explain scientific lingo. At $998, SeqWright’s test is $1 less than 23andMe’s.


Genetic Genealogy
Thursday, January 24, 2008 4:04:29 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Reconstructing East German Records
Posted by Grace

East German citizens were aware the Staatssicherheit (Ministry for State Security) could know everything about their lives. At its peak, the Stasi, as it was familiarly known, employed 91,000 agents in the country of 16.4 million and had hundreds of thousands of informants. But it was not until the GDR began to crumble in 1989 that the concept became palpable, Andrew Curry reports in Wired magazine.

It was discovered that the Stasi had generated enough paper to fill 100 miles of shelves, and it indexed and cross-referenced 5.6 million names in its central card catalog. In the Stasi's final days, officials destroyed about 5 percent of its records before citizens stopped them. Truckloads of paper were taken to industrial shredders, and as the end neared, agents began ripping files by hand. They stored the scraps in paper bags in the archive.

In the mid '90s, a team started piecing the 45 million torn pages together manually, at a rate that would have led to completion in about 700 years. But a new scanning project looks like it will lead to the files being recreated—and shared with the public—much sooner.

Funded by the German government, the Fraunhofer Institute has created a method for double-sided scanning of the scraps and sorting the images by color of paper, type of paper and method of writing. If the pilot project for 400 bags of scraps is successful, it will get the go ahead for tackling the remaining 16,000 bags of paper. It's estimated to cost about $300 million, but the archivists say it's worth it. Wired reports:

Günter Bormann, the BStU's senior legal expert, says there's an overwhelming public demand for the catharsis people find in their files. "When we started in 1992, I thought we'd need five years and then close the office," Bormann says. Instead, the Records Office was flooded with half a million requests in the first year alone. Even in cases where files hadn't been destroyed, waiting times stretched to three years. In the past 15 years, 1.7 million people have asked to see what the Stasi knew about them.

To read the entire fascinating article, click here.


Libraries and Archives | Social History
Wednesday, January 23, 2008 1:13:14 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Changes for FindMyPast; FamilyLink
Posted by Diane

Two news bits on the genealogy biz:
  • Scotland Online, parent company of the genealogy data service ScotlandsPeople, has purchased the UK records site FindMyPast with plans to “establish a world-class online network of family history resources.”
ScotlandsPeople has birth records, censuses, vital registrations and wills from Scotland. FindMyPast (the former 1837Online) is known for its British vital registration, census and outgoing passenger records. Each company’s online resources will be unaffected by the merger and niether will relocate its headquarters, according to an announcement.
  • Back stateside, the genealogy database and social networking business World Vital Records is changing its name to FamilyLink. The renamed company will still call its database site World Vital Records, and its social networking site FamilyLink.

Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, January 22, 2008 8:39:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, January 21, 2008
Sites About Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement
Posted by Diane

Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day—that’s today—by learning a bit about the man who received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. These are some of my favorite Web sites about King and the history of the movement:

Civil Rights, 1954 to 1963
This timeline links to King's “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and John F. Kennedy’s June 11, 1963, speech supporting passage of the Civil Rights Act.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
This Web site for PBS’ program explains the laws that enforced segregation from the end of Reconstruction through the 1960s.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Home Tour
Take a virtual tour of the home at Atlanta’s 501 Auburn Avenue, King was born Jan. 15, 1929.

Civil Rights Walk of Fame
Meet other leaders in the Civil Rights Movement.


Social History
Monday, January 21, 2008 9:15:26 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]