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# Monday, February 25, 2008
How to Find Research Guides on FamilySearch
Posted by Diane

If you have ancestors from Finland, you’ll want to download the free Finnish genealogy research guide FamilySearch has just added to its Web site.

FamilySearch’s excellent online research outlines are among our go-to resources when editing Family Tree Magazine articles about tracing ancestors in this or that place, and we often recommend the guides in our articles. They cover how to do research, historical background, genealogy terms to know, writing request letters, and much more.

But the guides are linked in different places on FamilySearch, so sometimes it's hard to find the right one. Here’s our quick guide to finding FamilySearch guides:
  • Start by clicking the Search tab at the top of the page. Then look in the blue bar under “Search”:

  • Now, for an alphabetical index to the FHL’s research outlines, letter-writing guides, word lists, beginners’ guides, census worksheets and more, click Research Helps. This index is sorted by place, but you can use the links on the left to sort it by title, subject or document type.


Click a document title to access the guide’s content online. Or, click PDF to download a PDF with the information, or click the item number (in the right-hand column) to order a copy mailed to you. Not all the guides have all three options.

  • To get steps for finding the FHL’s microfilmed birth, marriage and death information by place and year, click Research Guidance, then click on a place.

On the next page, choose a tab for historical background, advice for beginners, and research strategies for various records. This information is drawn from the above-mentioned research guides.

  • For in-depth, full-color PDF guides to a selection of ancestries, look on the home page under "Get Started With Family History" and click the word guides. From here, you also can follow links to separate directories of the word lists, letter-writing guides, forms and more.


Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy | Research Tips
Monday, February 25, 2008 5:47:46 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, February 21, 2008
The Five Ws of Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Researching ancestors in Canada?

Lisa A. Alzo, who wrote a guide to Canadian genealogy research for the May 2008 Family Tree Magazine (on sale March 18), sent these five questions you should ask yourself (though we think they’d be helpful for research all over the globe):

Canadian research has much in common with research elsewhere—your best chances for success will come from having laid a solid foundation. That means being able to answer the genealogical version of the Five W’s:
1. Whom are you researching? Be equipped with all the names your relatives were known by, and all the possible spellings.

2. What do you want to learn? This will give you some insight into what record you need to locate.

3. Where should you look? Canada’s a big country and records were mostly created and stored locally, and under an area’s geographic name at the time.

4. When did it happen? As in other places, different types of Canadian records were kept starting at different times. If your research starts before certain records were kept, you’ll need to find an alternate record to study. And what’s more, the way variousrecord groups were created and stored changed over time.

5. Why do you need a particular record? For example, maybe you want that marriage registration to learn the names of the couple’s parents. Knowing that can help keep you focused and open up possibilities for research in other records.
Look for Alzo’s advice to finding and using genealogical records in the May 2008 Family Tree Magazine.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Research Tips
Thursday, February 21, 2008 4:01:49 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The World's Longest Family Tree?
Posted by Diane

Chinese philosopher Confucius (who tradition holds was born 551 BC) has 2 million recorded descendants in 83 generations, says one of that number, Kong Dewei, in China Daily.

Dewei is a member of the Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee, which will publish the fifth edition of the family register next year. For the first time, it includes women and those living outside of China. Each person paid 5 yuan (about 70 cents) to register; the committee has stopped soliciting names.

People without pedigrees proving descent could take a DNA test to compare with Confucius’ genetic signature, which scientists in China discovered in 2006.

It may sound as though Confucius, whose proper name was Kong Zi, was particularly prolific, but all I could find (in the Handbook of Today’s Religions) is that he had  a son and a daughter—I guess that's what 2,500 years can do for your family tree.

The descendants have held noble titles and governmental posts throughout history. The main lineage fled from their ancestral home in Qufu during the Chinese Civil War, but now the Temple of Confucius and the Confucius Mansion (the residence of the philosopher’s descendants) are tourist attractions.

Now, if only I can figure out how to set up a genealogy compilation committee for my family ...


Asian roots | International Genealogy
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:47:32 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, February 18, 2008
Cooking up Stories of Presidents' African-American Chefs
Posted by Allison

NPR aired a fascinating Presidents Day segment in the Kitchen Sisters series about George Washington's and Thomas Jefferson's slave chefs—and the little-known culinary contributions they and other African-Americans have made to White House history.

You can read a synopsis and listen to the story online.

If you aren't familiar with Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva's Kitchen Sisters series, it's dedicated to exploring and preserving social history through food. Browse the archive for other stories of interest to family history and pop culture buffs, including "America Eats: A Hidden Archive of the 1930s" and "The Birth of the Frito."


African-American roots | Social History
Monday, February 18, 2008 11:30:03 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, February 15, 2008
Abe Lincoln's Summer Retreat Opens
Posted by Diane

Anderson Cottage was the Camp David of its day—a summer retreat three miles from central Washington where Abraham, Mary Todd and Tad Lincoln escaped the White House.

Other presidents used the cottage, too, but none as frequently as Lincoln. The 16th president lived there for months at a time during the summer, risking his life during his daily commute to the White House. In August 1864, would-be assasin's bullet left a hole in Lincoln's stovepipe hat.

The home, built in 1842, had become a rundown office building for the nearby Armed Forces Retirement Home when it was rediscovered in the late 1990s. The National Trust for Historic Preservation led a seven-year, $15 million restoration.

Now, after a seven-year, $15 million restoration, President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldier's Home opens to the public on President's Day, Feb. 18. Visitors can tour the four-bedroom, two-story, stucco-covered brick Gothic Revival cottage for $12 (purchase tickets ahead of time online).



Read about the restoration on the site’s blog and get more house history in the Lincoln's Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers' Home, by Matthew Pinsker (Oxford University Press, $15.95).

Historic preservation | Social History
Friday, February 15, 2008 4:56:02 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, February 14, 2008
Free Photo Scanning for Social Networkers
Posted by Allison

It's a Valentine's Day gift for family history lovers: Through Feb. 29, ScanMyPhotos.com. is offering free scanning of up to 1,000 4x6-inch photos—all you'll pay is the $19.95 shipping fee (compared to the regular price of $49.95).

What's the catch? The offer is open only to members of several major social networking sites: Facebook, MySpace, Blogger and Flickr (a photo-sharing network). You also have to be a US resident, and the offer's limited to one freebie per person or address. In exchange, ScanMyPhotos.com. asks that you post a review of its service. See the press release for further details.

if you've been thinking about testing the social networking waters but haven't taken the plunge, here's a good incentive.


Family Heirlooms | Historic preservation
Thursday, February 14, 2008 1:02:54 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Search Site for Shelby County, Tenn., Family
Posted by Diane

Derrick Minck, register of deeds over in Shelby County, Tenn. (home of Memphis), e-mailed me about the plethora of genealogical records available on the Register’s Web site—somewhat unusual for a county government site. (Heads up, fellow Mac users: The site came up in Firefox but not in Safari.)

If you’ve got Tennessee ancestors, stop by and look for
  • Property records: “We have indexes and images dating back to 1812,” Minck writes.
  • GIS: You can search by name or address and see an aerial property photo linked to property data.
  • Archives: Search Shelby County birth (1874-1906) marriage (1820-1910) and death (1848-1956), records—and yes, folks, most matches are linked to record images.
You also can search indexes for Tennessee marriages (1980-2005), divorces (1980-2005) and deaths (1949-2005), with links for ordering copies. Circuit (1893-2000) and chancery (1945-1997) court, naturalization (1856-1906) and Memphis 1865 census indexes are there, too.
Search each record set from the home page. Now staff is scanning Memphis city directories from 1859 to 1924, and Minck says they’re almost ready to post 1859 through 1881.


Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Public Records
Wednesday, February 13, 2008 3:01:51 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, February 11, 2008
Family History Expo Slide Show
Posted by Allison

For those of you who couldn't make it to the Family History Expo 2008 in St. George, Utah, last weekend—and those who want to relive the fun—watch this slideshow of images from the event:



Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun | Videos
Monday, February 11, 2008 5:05:09 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Saturday, February 09, 2008
News and Notes from the Family History Expo
Posted by Allison

The first day of MyAncestorsFound’s Family History Expo 2008 saw a flurry of activity in the exhibit hall—here at the Family Tree Magazine booth, I barely had a moment to catch my breath. But today I had the opportunity to cruise the hall and learn about new developments in the industry.

The buzzword for this event has been “New FamilySearch”—referring to the highly anticipated revamp of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ genealogy Web site, which is scheduled to go public in early 2009. Several classes focused on how the new system works, and what it means to genealogists. Developers from AncestralQuest, PAFInsight and RootsMagic genealogy software gave demos on how their programs will “sync” with the New FamilySearch.

Here’s a snapshot of other news:
  • Newcomer FamilyPursuit is a Web-based family tree program that aims to make it easy for families to collaborate on recording and researching genealogy. It’s currently in a public beta phase—you can get sneak peek at its features on the Web site, or sign up to become a tester.
  • Milennia Corp. is preparing to release version 7 of its Legacy Family Tree software in March. The new edition will add wall charts and source templates, among other features
  • GenealogyBank, the subscription Web site for historical newspapers, government records and primary documents, is adding hundreds of Hispanic newspapers to its collection.
  • Ancestry DNA, the genetic genealogy arm of data megasite Ancestry.com, will be adding surname groups this spring, along with groups for different geographic locations and haplogroups.
  • Add Family Tree and Me to the list of companies offering decorative family tree charts. Owner Shirlene Dymock aims to provide designs elegant enough to display in your living room—see samples of the layouts, backgrounds and frames online.
  • Online genealogy TV channel RootsTelevision has now posted all the episodes of both PBS “Ancestors” series. You’ll also be able to catch interviews from the Expo on RootsTelevision.
  • Podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke was also busy doing interviews during the Expo. Among the conversations to be featured in upcoming episodes: Richard Black of the Godfrey Memorial Library, Kathy Meade of Swedish church records Web site Genline, and presenter Kathryn Lake Hogan speaking about immigration resources. Visit Genealogy Gems for details on subscribing to this free online radio show.
  • Speaking of Swedish records, Meade tipped me off to a recent news story on genealogi.se about a reinterpretation of Swedish law that would allow more-recent church records to be digitized and posted online—shrinking the 100-year waiting period to 70 or 85. Watch this blog for announcements on where and when those records may become available to you.


FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Videos
Saturday, February 09, 2008 11:08:17 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, February 08, 2008
Pirating Genealogies
Posted by Allison



Arrr, where’re me ancestors? Hundreds of family history enthusiasts are here at the two-day Family History Expo 2008 in St. George, Utah, to answer that question. The event kicked off Friday morning with the “Pirates of the Pedigree” keynote address, and appropriately, costumed volunteers are on hand in the exhibit hall to assist vendors and attendees.

Put on by Utah-based research firm MyAncestorsFound, the Expo features a variety of classes and an exhibit hall packed with genealogical products and services—including sponsors FamilySearch, Cherry Creek Radio, Ancestry.com, World Vital Records, DearMYRTLE, TheSpectrum.com, Generation Maps, Footnote, RootsTelevision, Godfrey Memorial Library, and our very own Family Tree Magazine.

Stay tuned for news and observations as the Expo continues.



Genealogy Events
Friday, February 08, 2008 5:15:28 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]