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<2008 May>

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# Wednesday, 21 May 2008
The Genealogy Insider is Turning 1!
Posted by Diane

Seems like just yesterday Family Tree Magazine entered the blogosphere with our very first post on the Genealogy Insider. But time flies, and that was almost 365 yesterdays ago: May 23, 2007.

To celebrate our blogiversary this Friday, we’re taking a quick look at highlights from our first year:
  • A few of the names we tossed around when the Genealogy Insider was still an idea: Blog Wild, Twigged Out, Theories of Relativity, Root Points. We settled on the name that says "genealogy" and "news."
  • We’ve published 243 posts (not counting this one), around 4.7 posts a week.
Stay tuned for more first-blogiversary developments!

Family Tree Magazine articles
Wednesday, 21 May 2008 12:15:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Free Military Records 'Til May 31 Mark Agreement
Posted by Diane

To celebrate the signing of a five-year digitization agreement with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), The Generations Network (TGN) will make’s military records collection free May 20 through May 31. (Normally, you'd need an subscription at $155.50 per year.)

Some notable records in that collection include the Civil War pension index, Revolutionary War and War of 1812 bounty land warrants, and WWI and WWII draft registration cards.

Now for the new agreement: NARA and TGN already have been collaborating to digitize records, but now TGN staff and equipment will be on-site at NARA to speed up the process.

TGN will index the records and make them available to subscribers; access will be free in all NARA research facilities. TGN also will give NARA copies of the record images and indexes.

Digitizing will start with Immigration and Naturalization Service passenger and crew arrival and departure lists (1897 to 1958) and death notices of US citizens abroad (1835 to 1974). Neither record set has been available outside NARA research rooms.

In the future, look for immigration, birth, marriage, death and military records.

NARA also has non-exclusive digitization partnerships with other organizations, such as FamilySearch and subscription historical records site Footnote. You can see details of those partnerships on NARA's Web site.

Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Military records
Tuesday, 20 May 2008 11:22:16 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
Genealogy: For the Dogs?
Posted by Diane

In last week’s E-mail Update newsletter, we announced the opening of our CaféPress shop, where you can get Family Tree Magazine T-shirts, tote bags, mugs and other sundries.

Janie begged for a dog T-shirt. She thought it looked delicious. I caved, so here she is modeling it.

Janie learned two things: First, the dog T-shirts run small—she’s about 38 pounds and the large is a bit snug (we also got some human T-shirts and they seem true to size).

Second, it’s very difficult to eat your T-shirt while it’s on your body.

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 20 May 2008 09:20:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 19 May 2008
Video: Sneak Peek at the Midwest Genealogy Center
Posted by Diane

While in Kansas City last week for the National Genealogical Society conference, we ventured a few minutes down the highway to Independence, Mo., where we were lucky enough to get a peek at the Mid-Continent Public Library’s genealogy branch and its soon-to-open Midwest Genealogy Center.

Around the beginning of June, the 12,000-square-foot genealogy branch will move its overflowing resources into the 52,000-square-foot genealogy center. But you'll get an insider’s peek at both facilities—and learn what you can look forward to after the move—in our short video. (Note the genealogy branch will close May 27 through June 1 while staff members pack and unpack.)

And you’ll see why the library’s genealogy collection makes it one of the July 2008 Family Tree Magazines Libraries to visit Before You Die.

Libraries and Archives | Videos
Monday, 19 May 2008 15:13:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Saturday, 17 May 2008
Could you be an Osmond?
Posted by Diane

Are you a little bit country … or a little bit rock and roll? Genetic genealogy company Genetree might be able to help you decide.


Genetree just launched a Web site about its partnership with the Osmond family (maybe you can name them all, but for the record: Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie and Jimmy) as they get ready for their anniversary tour.


Genetree is joining the tour for a bit and promoting a $149 mitochondrial test (which comes with a souvenir Osmond photo). You can compare your results with the Osmonds’ genetic profiles in Genetree to see if you might be related. Keep in mind a mitochondrial test won’t pinpoint common ancestors within a genealogically researchable time frame.


Big fan? Scroll down the site and check out Osmond family photos, which you can click for dates and IDs.

Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Saturday, 17 May 2008 12:15:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 16 May 2008
What's Happening on the FamilySearch Site
Posted by Diane

You may have heard whisperings about a new FamilySearch Web site underway, and wondered what it's like and when you’ll get a crack at using it. Today we got some information to share.


FamilySearch Labs is testing a variety of tools FamilySearch hopes to include on its Web site. The challenge, spokesperson Paul Nauta told us, is that each tool requires different architecture. FamilySearch’s main site (at hasn’t changed yet because its architecture must be updated to accommodate all the cool new features in the works. Eventually, the tools will be built into that site.


But you already can use some of these features on the domains where they’re being tested:

  • Record Search is a tool for searching the first digitized records—including censuses, church records, Civil War pensions and more—coming from FamilySearch’s many partnerships with repositories and digitization companies. It has a microfilm reader-like viewer (minus the elbow-busting crank) that lets you zoom in on an image, nimbly move around, and switch from black on white to white on black.

  • Family Tree (previously called Pedigree Viewer), which lets users build an online, collaborative family tree, is available in demo version to the public. It’s being rolled out gradually to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints locations, after which it’ll go public.

  • FamilySearch Indexing is the site volunteers around the world are using to create indexes to digitized records. It’ll tell you how you can volunteer, too.  

Those are the main tools, but there are a couple of others you can try at FamilySearch Labs.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 16 May 2008 13:19:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, 15 May 2008
Seen and Heard at NGS …
Posted by Diane

There are the big National Genealogical Society conference announcements, then there are the news tidbits you pick up around the exhibit hall. Here are some of those:


Look for Genetree, the genetic genealogy-meets-social-networking Web site, to add Y-DNA testing to its mitochondrial DNA testing services in the not-too-distant future.


Arphax Publishing has put out the first three books (each covering one county) of its Texas Land Survey Maps series (another book will come out each week). You may find them extra helpful because Texas, a state-land state, didn’t follow the same survey methods you’re used to seeing in public-land states.


The new is kind of like eBay for genealogical research services: If you need someone to go to a courthouse or get a birth certificate for you, post a request. If you can provide the service, submit a bid. A rating system lets researchers rank how you did.


The New England Historic Genealogical Society has launched, a portal to the organization’s Empire State resources. Spokesperson Tom Champoux says the group wants people to know resources cover more than just New England.


The Oregon-California Trails Association created Paper Trail (I love a good pun), a database of names and other information from thousands of 19th-century trail-related documents.


Irish researchers can find a helpful Irish Roots Cafe podcast at


Next week, and NARA will hold a press conference to announce a new, large-scale digitization partnership.

Genealogy Events
Thursday, 15 May 2008 18:03:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Sneak Peek: New Midwest Genealogy Center
Posted by Diane

Last night, the not-quite-finished MidContinent Public Library’s Midwest Genealogy Center (which tried very hard to be open in time for the conference) hosted a recption to give National Genealogical Society conference attendees a chance to preview the new facility.


At 52,000 square feet, it’s more than four times the size of the current Genealogy and Local History Branch. That library was already a tremendous resource—in our July 2008 issue, we designate it one of the nine genealogy libraries to visit before you die—but the spacious new digs will make it’s materials and staff even more accessible and useful.


Tuesday, editor Allison Stacy and I took a look at the current genealogy branch (it’s truly bursting at the seams) and got our own hard-hat tour of the in-progress Midwest Genealogy Center. We’re putting together a video for you, but in the meantime, here are some pictures from last night’s reception.


A light-filled atrium is the first thing Midwest Genealogy Center patrons will see.



Here you can see the curved circulation desk and future public lounge (lower level). The upper level will be mostly open stacks.



These reception attendees stand in the future periodicals area.



Researchers can get staff help in two consultation rooms (right); a large classroom will host public programs.


Other rooms will house rare books, a computer lab (with equipment for digitizing your family photos or video tapes), microfilm cabinets and a microfilm reading room.

Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives
Thursday, 15 May 2008 10:44:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Breaking News From the National Genealogical Society Conference
Posted by Diane

The National Genealogical Society Conference just got underway here in Kansas City, Mo., and already the announcements are flowing:

  • FamilySearch and subscription records site Footnote announced they’ve reached an agreement for FamilySearch to provide free access to the Civil War Pensions index and the 1860 US census. You’ll be able to search indexes for both collections on FamilySearch as the project is completed, users will be able to search. Footnote subscribers can view the record images on Footnote ($59.95 per year) ; anyone can access them free at the 4,500 worldwide FamilySearch Family History Centers (FHCs).
  • FamilyLink (which brings you the World Vital Records subscription databases) is helping FamilySearch improve the usability of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Family History Library Catalog by adding Web 2.0 functionality and enhancements.

The catalog is a listing of the genealogical resources in the Family History Library, including millions of microfilms, microfichfiche and books from more than 110 countries. You can borrow film and fiche (books don’t circulate) by visiting an FHC.


Improvements include making the catalog searchable by major online search engines (such as Google) and letting users to annotate descriptions in the catalog. You'll be able to conduct a “guided search” with tools that will help you decide what you want to learn about your family, point you to relevant records, and help you get and use them.


You’ll also be able to browse the catalog, sort search results and perform multiple searches at once. A nifty tool will search your online family tree to determine which lines have the highest likelihood of success based on known sources (and maybe there’ll be a “pep talk” tool for those other lines).

  •  The Generations Network (that’s’s parent company) CEO Tim Sullivan has written a “letter to the public,” basically a review of newdatabases and services (such as DNA testing and Ancestry Press). He also offered news about upcoming features such as a historical newspaper collection doubled in size, more than 6,000 school yearbooks and new US city directories containing 50 million names. 

Ancestry Hints will send you automatic notifications when finds matches between people in your tree and its record databases. More user-friendly member profile pages also are in the works. You can read the whole thing on the Web site


International sites on the way include China (with Chinese family histories from the Shanghai library) and a Spanish-language sites.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 14 May 2008 13:53:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
I believe in genealogy miracles
Posted by Grace

Seattle resident Jan Burak Schwert and her husband traveled to Konstanz, Germany, to trace his ancestry. They hoped to find Schwerts in cemeteries, but they ended up snagging a live one. Read her story of serendipitous genealogy finds here, and add your own in our comments!

Via Tracing the Tribe

Family Reunions | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, 14 May 2008 11:09:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]