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<2008 May>

More Links

# Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Go Behind the Scenes As Genealogist Searches for Next-of-Kin
Posted by Diane

Roots Television has launched a new show about the role genealogists can play in finding the families of unclaimed bodies at morgues across the United States.

“Unclaimed Persons” is a genealogical "CSI." It follows professional researcher Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak’s work on the case of one deceased man, presenting clues through interviews with his acquaintances and coroner’s office staff. No plot spoilers here; you’ll have to see for yourself how it ends.

A separate video gives more information on Smolenyak’s research.

"Unclaimed Persons" also shows you the beginning of another case you might be able to help solve—and maybe we’ll see how that one ends in a future episode.

Genealogy Web Sites | Videos
Wednesday, 28 May 2008 09:13:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
National Archives Opens Online Digital Vault
Posted by Diane

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is even more than a repository for the census, military and immigration records naming individuals.

NARA also holds pieces of our nation’s collective history—and it just launched a new Web site to display them. Digital Vaults hosts historical photographs, maps, posters and document images from NARA’s file drawers.

You start with an array of small images. Click one and it swirls to the center (above). Click the magnifying glass under it for a closer look and details about it (below).

Then click another document or photo and the screen starts swimming again until that selection surfaces in the middle. If you like an image, more clicks add it to your Collection or link you to related resources at NARA.

Look to the left to see the Filter window, which lets you filter records by time frame, media type (such as Photo or document) and other parameters. Tags lets you view items tagged with certain topics.

Click Pathways at the bottom of the screen to create a challenge for others to follow: You choose records or photos, and use the details about them to write clues about how your picks are related. Click Create to make a poster or movie using records from your collection or from preselected records, then save it or e-mail it to people.

You also can click Search and find, say, all the immigration-, World War II- or Elvis-related items.

Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Social History
Wednesday, 28 May 2008 08:21:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 27 May 2008
Can You Identify This Object?
Posted by Diane

Gold star to anyone who said “the remains of a wooden vessel in Florida’s Hillsborough River thought to be a Confederate blockade runner.”

After two years of searching, underwater archaeologists from the Florida Aquarium have identified the object as the Kate Dale—one of three blockade runners owned by then-Tampa mayor James McKay.

Confederate blockade runners stocked with goods snuck past Union blockades to trade with foreign countries. During the Battle of Fort Brooke in October 1863, troops from Union gunboats traveled up the Hillsborough River and burned the Kate Dale at her moorings, along with fellow blockade runner Scottish Chief.

Read more about the discovery in the St. Petersburg Times.

Historic preservation | Social History
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 16:09:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 23 May 2008
USCIS Genealogy Service to Handle Citizenship Record Requests
Posted by Diane

A rule published in last Thursday’s Federal Register announces the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly the INS) will set up a fee-based Genealogy Program for responding to historical naturalization records requests. The rule takes effect Aug. 13.

Currently, requests are processed through the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act (FOIA/PA) program, which according to the agency, delays fulfillment.

The new program's fees will be $20 for an index search, $20 for record copies from microfilm, and $35 for copies of paper records.

USCIS initially proposed charging $16 to $45 in April 2006. During the ensuing public comment period, the agency received 33 comments, 28 of them positive and many addressing fee levels. You can see a comments summary in the Federal Register announcement.

Records you can request through this program include:
  • Naturalization Certificate Files (C-Files) dated Sept. 27, 1906, to April 1, 1956
  • Alien Registration Forms on microfilm from Aug. 1, 1940 to March 31, 1944.
  • Visa Files from July 1, 1924, to March 31, 1944
  • Registry Files, from March 2, 1929 to March 31, 1944. These records document the creation of immigrant arrival records for persons who entered the United States prior to July 1, 1924, and for whom no arrival record could be found later.
  • Alien-Files (A-Files) numbered below 8 million (as in A8000000). A–files were the official file for all immigration records after April 1, 1944. A–numbers ranging up to approximately 6 million correspond to aliens and immigrants who were in or entered the country between 1940 and 1945. A-numbers from 6 to 7 million date from about 1944 to May 1, 1951.
Documents dated after May 1, 1951, even if they’re in an A–File numbered below 8 million, are still subject to FOIA/PA restrictions.
Starting Aug. 13, you’ll be able to submit requests and credit card fee payments through the USGIS Web site on Form G–1041. For records naming someone born less than 100 years ago, you’ll have to prove the person is deceased.

To request an index search, you’ll need to supply the immigrant’s full name and date and place of birth (at least as specific as a year). To request copies of records, you’ll need to provide a file number.

Before the naturalization process was centralized under INS Sept. 27, 1906, local and federal courts kept citizenship records. See the May 2008 Family Tree Magazine and for tips on finding pre- and post-1906 naturalization records.

Family Tree Magazine articles | immigration records | Public Records
Friday, 23 May 2008 13:26:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Happy Blogiversary to Us!
Posted by Diane

Today’s the day—the Genealogy Insider’s first blogiversary. Not only has blogging here let us tell you about new family history developments, resources and tips faster than before; it’s also helped us stay in closer contact with all of you.

We've also been able to have a little fun here. My favorite blog post of the year has to be our staff's Simpsonized selves, which look remarkably like our actual selves (if we all had jaundice).

If you haven’t already entered our celebratory T-shirt contest, yesterday’s post tells you how. And you’re invited along with us on a quick, nostalgic look back at our inaugural year in Wednesday’s entry.

Genealogy fun
Friday, 23 May 2008 11:06:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, 22 May 2008
Enter to Win a Genealogy Insider T-Shirt!
Posted by Diane

You, too, can be a Genealogy Insider! To celebrate the Genealogy Insider’s first blogiversary tomorrow, we’re holding a drawing for one of our new T-shirts.

To enter, click Comments below and answer these three questions:
  • How many times a week do you read the Genealogy Insider blog?
  • What is your all-time favorite Genealogy Insider blog post? 
  • What family history topics would you like to see the Genealogy Insider cover more often?
We’ll draw one commenter at random to win a short-sleeve T-shirt proclaiming his or her Genealogy Insider status. Remember, you must provide your e-mail address when you post—we’ll contact the winner for a size and mailing address. (Your e-mail address will appear with at, NOSPAM and dot to keep spam robots from harvesting it.)
You have until 5 p.m. EDT next Tuesday, May 27, to post your comment.
Want to guarantee you get a shirt? Genealogy Insider T-shirts and other gear are available in our CafePress store.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Thursday, 22 May 2008 10:19:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [75]
# 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]