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# Monday, May 05, 2008
Eyewitness Report: UK's Biggest Family History Show
Posted by Diane

A giant family history show called Who Do You Think You Are? Live just wrapped up in London. Thirty-year British family history veteran Richard Heaton, who volunteered there, sent us this eyewitness account and some action shots:
Who Do You Think You Are is the biggest event of its kind in the UK, with attendance last year of 13,000 visitors. This year the numbers were probably higher still.

But it’s not just the numbers that make this show stand head and shoulders above the rest—it’s the scope of what’s available for visitors. It has representation from many UK local family local history societies, the online research database companies such as FindMyPast, software suppliers and expert lectures.

But it’s also attended by major archives in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland; experts on local history, military history, archeology, conservation, the History Channel; even the London Times digital newspaper archive (below). All under one roof for three days.

Making available a great variety of resources and knowledge—some not immediately connected to family history as we’ve known it—gives the show appeal to a wide audience. The common theme? All exhibitors and visitors share a passion for history.
Over the two days I attended, I had the chance to hold (and of course feel the weight) of a Brown Bess rifle. Chatted to two enthusiasts dressed as Polish Lancers. Sampled lectures covering topics as diverse as Stonehenge, the Battle of Britain 1940, and Jewish family history research.

I also had a good look at the display of military vehicles, including a British WWI tank. I looked at historical objects (below)—coins, bells, buckles, clay pipe bowls and colourful fragments of medieval pottery—once discarded by our ancestors and since recovered from the mud of the Thames River in London. 


But I spent most of my time volunteering to help visitors with research queries, both in the Guild of One-Name Studies booth (below) and as an expert advisor for the Society of Genealogists (both are leading family history societies in the UK). Most visitors I saw came from the UK, but there were a noticeable number of visitors from Canada, Australia, the United States and Ireland.

Visitors’ knowledge levels were equally varied. The success of the UK television show “Who Do You Think You Are?” has clearly encouraged a lot of people to take an interest in their family history. Some were absolute beginners, excited to find ancestors in the UK censuses. Other seasoned researchers were equally pleased to get advice on new sources for 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century research. 
I finished on Sunday, a little tired and a little hoarse, but very satisfied, having had the opportunity in some way or another to assist over 50 fellow family historians.

Genealogy Events
Monday, May 05, 2008 5:21:51 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, May 02, 2008
FamilySearch and British Partners to Digitize UK Records
Posted by Diane

A partnership among FamilySearch, British family history subscription/pay-per-view database site FindMyPast, and The National Archives of Britain will give genealogists access to millions of names of British soldiers and seamen from the 18th to the 20th century. The records include:
The records may include each ex-serviceman's name, age, birthplace and service history, physical appearance, conduct sheet, previous occupation, and in some cases, the reason for discharge. After 1883, details of marriages and children may also appear.
  • Merchant Seamen records from 1835 to 1844 and 1918 to 1941, which will provide the name and the date and place of birth. Many 20th-century records include photographs of the sailors and details of their voyages. Nearly a third of UK families have ancestors who were merchant seaman, according to FamilySearch's announcement.
For this three-year project, FamilySearch staffers will digitize the records at the UK National Archives, and FindMyPast will create indexes and transcriptions. When they're through, the indexes and images will be searchable at FindMyPast and FamilySearch.

I can hear you wondering, “Will they be free?” FamilySearch’s announcement didn’t say one way or the other, but in previously announced partnerships, records are to be free on FamilySearch and partner organizations have the option to provide fee-based access.


FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Friday, May 02, 2008 5:07:14 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
San Francisco's Historic Mission Dolores Cemetery
Posted by Diane

Last week after talking about kids’ genealogy in Sacramento, Calif., I met up with my sister in San Francisco for a couple of days (she lives 20 minutes from me here in Cincinnati, but was also out West on business).

One of my favorite sights was Mission Dolores, the popular name for the Misión San Francisco de Asís since it was founded June 29, 1776. The present mission chapel, built in 1791, is a block and a half away from the first location.



Still home to an active parish, it’s the oldest intact building in San Francisco—the thick adobe walls survived the 1906 earthquake. Next door is the Mission Dolores Basilica, first built around 1876 and rebuilt after suffering severe quake damage.

The walled Mission Cemetery, final resting place for Ohlone, Miwok and other indigenous peoples as well as notable pioneers, is the only cemetery left within city limits.






The cemetery is smaller today than it once was, but has been restored with native plantings.



You can find known Mission Dolores burials listed at FindaGrave. Read a bit more about the cemetery’s past in the transcribed historical newspaper articles on SFGenealogy.com.

Cemeteries | Historic preservation | Social History
Friday, May 02, 2008 9:03:39 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, May 01, 2008
Missouri Opens Digitized Records Site
Posted by Diane

Missouri has launched a kind of one-stop shop for finding digitized historical records, abstracts and indexes from the state archives as well as libraries, universities, historical societies and other repositories throughout the state.

The Missouri Digital Heritage Initiative divides collections by subject area (some record sets appear under multiple topics). Genealogical material is mostly in the Family and Faith category, but you’ll also want to explore Military Records, Newspapers, Sports and Recreation and other topics. (To see a lineup of all the record sets, click All Collections at the bottom of the Collections main page.)

What will you see? Photos, maps, birth and death records, naturalization records, coroner’s inquest abstracts, a state supreme court case index, newspapers, Civil War letters and more. Here’s an ad page from an early 1900s Hannibal, Mo., city directory:

A few collections, including penitentiary and some land records, are still in progress. Some items are hosted on Missouri Digital Heritage; for other collections, you’ll be taken to partner sites. All the records are accessible free.

The Missouri Digital Heritage Exhibits section links to online exhibits about the Missouri State Lunatic Asylum, the state fair, Lamar, Mo.-born Harry Truman’s Whistle Stop Campaign, and more.

Another feature you won’t want to miss: The link to Missouri’s Local Records Inventory Database, where you can search inventories of local government records located primarily in county and municipal offices. You won’t find information about your ancestors in this particular database, but you can find out what office holds the records you need and what years are available. Search on a county name and keyword such as birth or probate.

Genealogy Web Sites | Public Records | Social History
Thursday, May 01, 2008 9:59:12 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Haunting Holocaust Albums Online
Posted by Grace

Tracing the Tribe pointed us in the direction of a US Holocaust Memorial Museum online exhibit of haunting scrapbooks from the Auschwitz concentration camp complex. Very few photos of Auschwitz during wartime exist, and what makes these even rarer is the subject matter.

"Auschwitz through the lens of the SS" shows the Nazi leadership's daily life at the camp: eating blueberries, dancing to accordion music and taking day trips to recreation areas. The scrapbook, donated to the museum last January, was likely created by SS-Obersturmführer Karl Höcker, was stationed at Auschwitz from May 1944 until January 1945.

One section of the online exhibit compares the SS-centric album with the only other known album from Auschwitz, which contains haunting photos of prisoners. Höcker's album contains no pictures of prisoners at all.

On a somewhat related note, I saw "The Counterfeiters" recently, which is a fictionalized retelling of Operation Bernhard. The Nazis used prisoners at Sachsenhausen to forge British banknotes, eventually producing nearly 9 million of them. The movie, which won Best Foreign Film at this year's Oscars, takes some liberties but is really interesting. Read more about Operation Bernhard here.

Update: Click Comments for the Tracing the Tribe blogger's news about Yad Vashem's May 1 online photo archives debut.

Museums | Social History
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 9:37:49 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, April 28, 2008
Green Genealogy Tips
Posted by Diane

I was out of town for Earth Day (April 22), but since any day is a good day to be green, here are some ideas for environmentally friendly genealogy research:

Kill lots of birds with one stone (figuratively, of course). If you’re headed to a repository or Family History Center, search the facility’s Web site ahead of time to see what resources it has. Then plan to complete as much of your genealogical to-do list as possible—thus saving a second fossil-fuel-burning trip.

Make it a road trip. Grab a few fellow society members and carpool to libraries and cemeteries. It’ll be more fun that way, too.

Pack out recyclables. If you’re doing research where recycling isn’t available, take home your plastic water bottles and empty soda cans. Or get a reusable bottle and fill it at the drinking fountain.

BYO mug. Instead of taking foam cups, bring a reusable travel mug for coffee. Some shops give you a small discount for using your own mug.

Don’t waste juice. Turn off your desktop or laptop between research sessions—computers draw energy even in sleep mode.

Recharge it. Power your digital camera and other handheld devices with rechargeable batteries. And don’t throw out spent batteries with your regular garbage: They’re considered hazardous waste. Drop them off at a local collection center (click for help finding one, or check with your community's department of environmental services).

Use less paper. Genealogy by nature involves accumulating paper. Many printer manufacturers recommend against printing on the back of used paper (though we’ve done this successfully on our home inkjet printers). You can use scrap paper for taking notes at the library, or recycle it.

Go for paperless copiers. At some repositories, you can use copiers to scan a record and e-mail it to yourself or burn it to a CD. Ask at the information desk, and have someone show you the equipment.

Recycle printer cartridges. Many office supply stores discount new cartridges if you bring in used ones. Some charities take them, too, for fundraising purposes.

Save trees and your back. Attending a genealogy conference? If possible, opt to get the syllabus on CD or as a PDF. The upcoming National Genealogical Society conference (May 14-17), for example, will make the syllabus available to attendees as a PDF.

Isn’t it cool how doing greener research also can save you time and money? Click Comments (below) to add your own tips.


Research Tips
Monday, April 28, 2008 11:24:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
Delving into DNA
Posted by Allison

No matter how much experience you have in genealogy, you're always a beginner with some type of research or resource. Right now, I'm a newbie at genetic genealogy: I took my first DNA test last week. If you're contemplating diving into your own gene pool, watch this video of my experience to learn what you're in for:



Genetic Genealogy | Videos
Monday, April 28, 2008 10:15:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, April 25, 2008
We're Famous!
Posted by Grace

Family Tree Magazine's gotten some mentions in the blogosphere lately:

The Genealogue mentions our partnership with Tamagotchi.

• The anonymous Ancestry Insider did a profile on us—unprovoked!—in which things we do are described as being endearing and a rearranged Simpsonized staff photo is included! The Ancestry Insider's obviously got crazy good Photoshop skills. If anyone knows how to make Tamagotchized portraits, please let us know.


Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, April 25, 2008 3:44:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, April 24, 2008
Six Hints for Google Books Search
Posted by Allison

In our July issue, we have a Toolkit article on Google Books Search: a functionality within Google to comb the contents of all kinds of books the company has digitized in conjunction with libraries, publishers and authors.

I've been playing around with Books Search to create a video demonstration of how it can help genealogists (watch it on our You Tube channel), and decided to share a few hints I picked up:

  1. For best results, limit your search to books only: From the Google home page, click the more link in the top frame, then select Books.

  2. Type a surname plus subject:genealogy in the search box to look for published family histories. Not that your results will also include books authored by people with that surname, even if that family isn't the primary focus. By searching for genealogy as the subject, you'll avoid lots of hits on books where the word genealogy just happens to appear in the text.

  3. Search by county and local history books by typing the state, county or city name (use quotation marks around an exact phrase) and the word history in the search box. For example: ohio "wood county" history.

  4. On the results page, look at the end of each listing for Full View, Limited Preview, Snippet View or No Preview Available. This tells you how much of the actual book you'll get to see.

  5. If the book is too big or takes too long to download, an alternative is to save it to a personal Google library you create. You have sign up for a free Google account to use this feature.

  6. For books with limited or no viewable pages, use the Find This Book in a Library link to go to WorldCat, where you can enter your ZIP code to locate it in a library near you or where you can get it on interlibrary loan.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Thursday, April 24, 2008 10:03:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Family Tree Firsts—Part Five
Posted by Grace

This weekend I reached another milestone: attending my first genealogy conference, hosted by the Ohio Genealogical Society.

It was seriously awesome to meet so many Family Tree Magazine readers (especially the one who said her favorite part of the mag is "Preserving Memories").

Although I spent most of the weekend helping out at our exhibitor table (see below), I also got to attend a few of the sessions. I sat in on "Pig Blood in the Snow: Court Records Can Solve Problems" mostly because of the name—but also because our upcoming September issue includes an article on court records. I also really enjoyed Jeffrey Alan Bockman's "Using Maps in Genealogical Research." I now know better than to believe Grandma's story about having to walk 4 miles to school each way.

Kenny Burck, first vice president of OGS and German research aficionado, was certainly the most decorated genealogist I met last weekend.

All his various badges, medals and pins denote memberships and lineages. (This would be a great picture to try out photo tagging on!) Can anyone top Kenny?

Later, I struck up a conversation with Hans-Friedrich Coordes, who was at the conference representing the KfTN, which tracks down relatives and ancestors in Europe. (I'm a fluent German speaker and like to practice every chance I get!) He was in Cincinnati only for the weekend, but he made an incredible genealogical discovery in the little time he had.

Another exhibitor told him she had ancestors with his surname—from the same town in Ostfriesland Hans-Friedrich is from, even. After comparing some names, they determined they were not-so-distant cousins. He was blown away.

Have any of you made great connections at a conference?


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


Family Tree Firsts | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, April 22, 2008 5:24:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]