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<2008 June>

More Links

# Wednesday, 18 June 2008 Starts Volunteer Indexing Project
Posted by Diane

The subscription service is launching a volunteer indexing project that looks to compete with FamilySearch’s records indexing project.

The Ancestry 24/7 Family Circle Blog announced in March that was planning a volunteer indexing initiative. The anonymous Ancestry Insider blogger  recently reported that the just-launched-in-beta World Archives Project will recruit volunteers to index’s digitized records using an online tool. Then will publish the index free. The record images will be part of’s subscription services.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ FamilySearch was first to start a large-scale project for volunteers to index records using an online tool. FamilySearch Indexing is producing both indexes and record images that will be available free (you can access some now at FamilySearch Labs).

Other FamilySearch indexing initiatives will make indexes free online, with record images available free at FamilySearch research centers, or for a fee from record repositories or third-party database sites.

I’m curious how you all feel about—a for-profit business—using volunteer labor. Does the free index make the idea palatable? What about the possibility that actual genealogists will create a better-quality index than currently offers?

Click here to sign up for's e-mail notifications about the World Archives Project. | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, 18 June 2008 16:14:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [12]
New Database Shows You English Ancestors' Jobs
Posted by Diane

You might be able to learn whether your English ancestor was a clergyman, cowkeeper, winemaker, woolstapler or other tradesperson using the British subscription service’s latest addition. Pigot’s Trade directories of town and occupational information cover 27 counties back to the 1830’s (so, before official civil registration began).

Records added to date cover 27 counties from 1830 to 1839. Directories contain  descriptions of towns with population numbers, parishes and main trades and industries. They also list residents’ names and addresses by occupation.

Search the directories by name or occupation, or browse by page. A subscription to costs 37.50 pounds—that's about $73.50.

You can browse a name index to a few Pigot's Trade directories free from this RootsWeb-hosted site (there’s a search here, but it didn’t seem to be working).

I dug up a few links to help you learn more about some of those archaic trades your UK and other ancestors practiced:

Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy | Social History
Wednesday, 18 June 2008 14:02:14 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 17 June 2008
Time Puts Genealogy Site in "50 Best" List
Posted by Diane

Congratulations to our friends over at Geni! The venerable Time magazine picked the genealogy-family networking site as one of the top 50 Web sites of 2008

Time’s writer said Geni turns what can be a lonely pursuit into a collaborative effort with its information-sharing tools.  “Geni makes it easier — and more fun — than ever to create and share your family tree.”

Click here to read the Genealogy Insider blog posts about Geni (and a few random posts a geni search of this blog picks up).

Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 17 June 2008 12:59:16 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 16 June 2008
Free Online Historical Newspapers Through June 19
Posted by Diane

The subscription genealogy database service is making its entire historical newspapers collection free through June 19 to mark the expansion of its newspaper database by 20 million images.

You need to register with and provide your e-mail address to access the collection, but you don’t have to give your credit card number.

This addition doubles the size of the newspaper collection with pages from large- and small-town papers, including The Anniston Star (Anniston, Ala.), Modesto Bee and Herald News (Modesto, Calif.), Raleigh Register (Raleigh, NC) Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, Ohio), and more. Coverage varies by title.

Search the collection by a name and a keyword. You can add a year range and place, but that didn’t seem to affect my search—even though I checked the Exact boxes, results came from everywhere and all years.

Matches are categorized by newspaper title; click a title to see results for that paper. You'll see a snippet of the page containing your search term (some image links, including those in my El Paso Herald matches, seem to be broken), with the publication year on the right. It would be cool if the results were arranged by year, so you could scroll to the time your ancestor lived in that area, but you’ll have to evaluate each match.

The Refine Your Search options aren’t available for this collection, since the article content isn’t indexed by birth or death information, or family members’ names (makes sense, since not all newspaper articles would have that information).

If you’re looking for news of a specific event, try browsing individual papers by date. Go to the newspapers collection listings in the card catalog and enter your ancestors’ hometown in the "Filter by a keyword" box. Select a newspaper title, then scroll down to the Browse by Date option. You also can search the individual title from that page.

Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Monday, 16 June 2008 09:40:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 12 June 2008
Would You Read a Digital Magazine?
Posted by Diane

Right on the heels of Dick Eastman’s blog post about the disappearance of print newsletters and magazines, Everton’s Genealogical Helper announced the debut of its digital edition.

Everton’s is still doing its print edition, too. Ancestry (published by’s owner, The Generations Network) also publishes both on paper and digitally, as does Internet Genealogy. Digital Genealogist is available only online.

I was proud to see Dick’s description of Family Tree Magazine as a “combined online and offline magazine." That’s what we’re going for: We’ve found readers are accustomed to getting information in a variety of ways, so we’re responding with extra online content, our weekly E-mail Update newsletter, back issues and special editions on CD, digital downloads of our State Research Guides, our blogs and online Forum, online videos and our recently launched podcast.

The entire publishing industry is caught up in the “digital vs. print” discussion, with some swearing it's just a matter of time before all print publications go away, and others insisting people always will want to curl up with a paper magazine or book.

Many who commented on Dick’s post said they’d rather read paper. What about you all—would you read a digital version of your favorite genealogy magazine?

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, 12 June 2008 15:59:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Wednesday, 11 June 2008
Conference Wrap-up: New Zealand Genealogical Society
Posted by Diane

The New Zealand Society of Genealogists recently wrapped up a big conference, From Coast to Coast 2008, held May 30 to June 2 in Christchurch.

Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Sharon DeBartolo Carmack and professional genealogist Jim Warren were the annual event’s first American keynote and banquet speakers. “We felt quite honored,” Sharon told us, and she added these notes about the conference:
More than 350 genealogists, “traders” (vendors), and volunteers traveled from all over New Zealand, Australia and the United States to attend the conference. We were impressed not only with the good humor and friendliness of all the attendees, but also the overall level of sophistication regarding genealogical research.
Besides us, 23 speakers lectured on topics geared to New Zealand research, which covered a broad range of ethnic groups representing New Zealand’s melting pot: Irish, Scottish, English, Maori (indigenous peoples) and Chinese.

If you have New Zealand ancestors, the society has a great online overview of resources. Also check out New Zealand GenWeb.

At the banquet Saturday evening, Jim and I presented “Primetime’s 20/20 Dateline: Sharon DeBartolo Carmack Interviews the World’s Oldest Living Genealogist, Ole Smirnoff Bernatelli” featuring Jim as Ole, and it met with uproarious laughter. For Sunday’s dinner, conference organizers Philip Worthington and Fiona Brooker, along with the genealogical society's executive officer, Peter Nash, treated us all to a hilarious version of “It's In the Bag,” a popular game show in New Zealand. I was even one of the contestants, electing to take what was in the bag instead of the money—I won a calculator!
We thoroughly enjoyed the conference and meeting all the attendees. We even got to travel around the South Island of New Zealand in a pre-conference “holiday” with my newly married daughter, Laurie, and her husband, Dash.

Genealogy Events | International Genealogy
Wednesday, 11 June 2008 09:37:27 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 10 June 2008
New One-Step Search Tools Promise Better Results
Posted by Diane

Over at Tracing the Tribe, Schelly Talalay Dardashti blogged about new features on Stephen P. Morse’s One-Step Web Pages.

If you’re not familiar with him, Steve Morse is a kind of genealogical folk hero who creates handy Web tools including highly flexible search forms for third-party genealogical databases.

His newest database search tools include phonetic name matching, which finds variant surname spellings based on how a name is pronounced rather than how it’s spelled, so you get fewer false hits. Dardashti says Morse's Ellis Island Gold form passenger search  and the Dachau concentration camp search will soon feature phonetic matching.

Morse has a long list of tools on his home page, so here, I'm linking directly to several of the new ones:
Stop by the One-Step site to see more database searches, language transliterators, date converters and other goodies. You can learn more about the tools and how to use them in the February 2007 Family Tree Magazine, and see for some of our interview with Morse.

Genealogy Web Sites | immigration records
Tuesday, 10 June 2008 14:21:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 09 June 2008
Borders Concept Stores Feature
Posted by Diane

One feature of Border’s fancy new “concept” stores—now open in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Las Vegas; Noblesville, Ind.; Panama City Beach, Fla.; and National City, Calif.—is a Borders Genealogy Services kiosk where customers can search

A kiosk (shown) is part of each concept store’s digital center, which has staff to help customers download books and music, self-publish their writing—and research their family history.

The free access is a big draw, which is why Borders is offering it, says spokesperson Kolleen O’Meara. “It allows our customers to also experiment and try new things with experts available to help them. This is a great introduction to genealogy research showing customers how easy it can be.” She adds that digital center staff will be trained in searching

Of course, and Borders are hoping visitors also will buy the “Subscription in a Box,” a one-month membership to, Family Tree Maker software and/or an “Our Name in History" book

Lucky us… one of these new Borders will open close to Family Tree Magazine headquarters by late November.

Genealogy Industry
Monday, 09 June 2008 14:12:16 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, 06 June 2008
48 Hours in Washington, DC
Posted by Grace

While planning a trip to our nation's capital to see friends, I focused mainly on coordinating schedules and figuring out where to eat. But the day I left, I suddenly got really excited about all the museums there are in the District.

Although 48 hours doesn't give you a lot of time to explore, I managed to spend time in two great museums: the Newseum and the National Portrait Gallery.

The Newseum, a museum dedicated to the history of news and journalism, just opened its impressive new building at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. in April. That's the First Amendment inscribed into the front of the building.

Its six levels are packed with interactive exhibits and small theaters. My friends and I spent about four hours looking at everything, but I could have spent another day there easily. Especially in the area full of historical front pages (as seen at right). Declarations of war, unthinkable events and tragic assassinations are displayed alongside incredible achievements, joyous milestones and other turning points in our world's history.

The same hall is lined with mini-exhibits of various aspects of journalism, such as the contributions of black Americans, women and others to the field, and the changing face of the news business. (The Palm Pilot of blogger Jim Romenesko is on display, for example.)

The section devoted to coverage of Sept. 11, 2001, was also really impressive. What looks like a sculpture is a twisted chunk of the radio tower formerly atop the World Trade Center. The walls are lined by front pages from Sept. 12, and videos show news coverage from the day.

Although journalism nerds like myself will probably appreciate the Newseum most, anyone with a taste for history will enjoy spending a few hours there.

The National Portrait Gallery is an absolute powerhouse and a must-see museum even if you're not well-versed in art history. With free admission, there's no reason not to stop in when you're in Washington. The newly reopened atrium (above) is pleasantly cool and quiet even on sweltering summer days.

One big highlight of the collection is the permanent "America's Presidents" gallery. My personal favorite was Norman Rockwell's depiction of Richard Nixon. And it's interesting to see John F. Kennedy's portrait is the only openly abstract painting in the bunch.

It's incredible to think the building, which originally housed the US Patent Office, was almost demolished in the mid-1900s. Its endless corridors and galleries are absolutely gorgeous, and the art it contains is a true national treasure.

If I'd had a little more time to spend in DC, I would have visited the National Archives, Cooper-Hewitt and the Natural History Museum. Next time!

Museums | Social History
Friday, 06 June 2008 09:42:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 05 June 2008
RootsTelevision Show Helps Solve Unclaimed Person Mystery
Posted by Diane

Last week, we blogged about RootsTelevision’s “Unclaimed Persons” show, about genealogists working with coroners to find the families of unclaimed bodies at morgues across the United States.

Part of the show outlined the story of John Finch, a man from Kansas who died in Scranton, Pa., in 1999.  Mysteriously, in his home was the family Bible of an unrelated woman (whose daughter professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak was able to locate).

In 2003, Finch was listed as a survivor in his brother’s newspaper obituary. Smolenyak figured out he had 9 siblings, but none of the phone numbers she dug up panned out. Well, a tip from About Genealogy’s Kimberly Powell has cracked the case.

Powell spotted a brief newspaper snippet about a car break-in, and she thought the automobile’s owner was a likely niece of Finch’s. More research uncovered several possible addresses and she passed them on to the Lackawanna County Coroner's Office in Pennsylvania. Yesterday, John Finch's brother called the coroner's office. John Finch is no longer an unclaimed person.

Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 05 June 2008 16:31:55 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]