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<2008 July>

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# Monday, 21 July 2008
FamilySearch Team to Make England and Wales Census Indexes Free
Posted by Diane

Thanks to another FamilySearch partnership, indexes to the 1841 and 1861 England and Wales censuses are now searchable free at FamilySearch.

Those are the first indexes made available under an agreement with British companies FindMyPast, the Origins Network and Intelligent Image Management. Other England and Wales censuses from 1841 to 1901 will follow this initial release.

For now, you can go to FamilySearch Record Search and do a free search of the 1841 and 1861 censuses on first and last names, age, sex, place of birth, and (for the 1861 census) relationship to head of household. In the future, you’ll be able to search on additional fields of data.

You can search the full indexes and view original images for free at FamilySearch’s Family History Centers, or for fee at FindMyPast, a subscription and pay-per-view records site.

FamilySearch, working with the Origins Network, will provide digital images for the 1851, 1871 and 1881 censuses. It will also enhance the 1871 Census index. will provide FamilySearch with copies of its English and Welsh Census indexes from 1841 to 1901. Members of England's Federation of Family History Societies will help complete the index for the 1851 Census.

FamilySearch | International Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Monday, 21 July 2008 11:35:27 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0] and FamilySearch to Make US Censuses Free
Posted by Diane

The two largest organizations in genealogy are embarking on a resource-exchanging partnership that will put more records online—starting with US censuses.

Under the agreement, enhanced census indexes will be free for a limited time on and permanently on FamilySearch. Record images will be available by subscription on and free at FamilySearch’s 4,500 worldwide Family History Centers, as well as National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) regional facilities.

FamilySearch, which is digitizing census records at NARA, will provide its record images to These newer images, created with more-recent technology, are of better quality than those available on will give FamilySearch its indexes to censuses from 1790 to 1930. FamilySearch Indexing volunteers will use them as a “first draft,” double-checking information and adding data fields (such as birth month and year) to create an improved index.

FamilySearch volunteers already were indexing some censuses, following a two-pass, arbitrated system: Each record is indexed twice by different people; a knowledgeable third person resolves any differences in the versions. The volunteers have completed a 1900 census index, now free at FamilySearch Record Search.

These existing FamilySearch indexes will be merged with’s indexes. (If a person’s name is indexed under different spellings, both spellings will remain.)

The partnership’s first exchange is the 1900 census. The improved record images are on now; the merged index will become available in August. Other censuses will be released over the next several years as the images and indexes are completed.

The census indexes on and FamilySearch will link to record images on If someone without an subscription clicks the image link, he’ll be prompted to join. Subscriptions cost $155.40 per year or $19.95 for a month. has long been the target of complaints about its census indexes, so the company and its subscribers will undoubtedly welcome the new-and-improved versions.

Friday, I had a chance to talk with representatives of both organizations, who agreed genealogists will appreciate the broader access to records, improved indexes and higher-quality digital images. On some record images, you even can see previously indiscernible notations, according to vice president of content Gary Gibb. | FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 21 July 2008 10:01:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [12]
# Sunday, 20 July 2008
GeneTree Adds Y-DNA Testing
Posted by Diane

GeneTree, a family history networking Web site where members can create profiles and explore their genetic genealogy, just added Y-DNA testing to its offerings.

A 33-marker test and a 46-marker test are available; prices start at $149 with discounts for those who’ve already ordered a mitochondrial DNA test through GeneTree.

Since men pass their Y-DNA to sons along with (usually) their surname, Y-DNA testing is helpful for confirming or disproving relationships between individuals with the same last name.

Y-DNA test-takers also can participate in surname studies (which GeneTree president Matt Cupal says the company will kick off in the near future) and enter test results in Y-DNA databases to look for matches.

Women—who don’t have Y-DNA—can participate by having a father, brother or male-line cousin or uncle take a test. For example, your father’s brother or the brother’s son could take a Y-DNA test and the results would apply to you.

Cupal says even though Y-DNA tests are more-used, GeneTree launched with mitochondrial DNA services because they apply to both men and women. (Women pass mitochondrial DNA to their offspring.)

The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, whose mitochondrial DNA database you can search using GeneTree’s DNAvigator tool, also has amassed more mitochondrial- than Y-DNA results.

Right now DNAvigator searches 51,000 of SMGF’s 72,000 mitochondrial DNA results; that number will be increased in the coming month. Eventually, a new version of the DNAvigator will search both mitochondrial- and Y-DNA results.

Cupal says GeneTree has more than half a million profiles, which includes both living members and their ancestors.

Genetic Genealogy
Sunday, 20 July 2008 10:34:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 18 July 2008 Plans Free Public Webinar on New Search
Posted by Diane is holding a giant public Webinar for anyone who wants to learn more about its new search experience. (A webinar is a real-time online class.) The session is July 30 at 8:30 pm EDT.

Since it was unveiled a few months ago,’s new search experience has generated plenty of online commentary, much of it from people who had problems using it. At the beginning of July, director of product management Kendall Hulet told me 90 percent of people were still using the old search.

Looks like is focusing on getting people comfortable with the new search interface. Geared toward intermediate and advanced researchers, the webinar will focus on how to use these tools:
  • record previews
  • image snapshots
  • refined searches
  • type-ahead features
  • global searches
  • advanced searches
  • filters
  • keyword searches
Hulet will do the instructing.

You don’t have to be a member of to attend, but you do need to preregister at
112633&s=1&k=F61A5B2CBEC642037CADDF67687EA541. You’ll receive instructions about how to access the webinar and you’ll get reminder e-mails before the event.
Friday, 18 July 2008 09:36:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, 17 July 2008
101 Best Web Sites: Dutch and Civil War Resources
Posted by Diane

Here are details on two more of our 101 Best Web sites (see the rest on
  • Genlias, the enviable Dutch database, is a partnership of public archives in the Netherlands and overseas with nearly 45 million names extracted from some 10.8 million civil register records. (Death records enter the public domain after 50 years, marriage records after 75 years and birth records after 100 years.)
New here are statement of succession records (inheritance declarations used to calculate death duties) dating from 1808. You can get a list of available records by region, too.
  • Get a jump on your Civil War research at the National Park Service Civil War Home Page. The war's sesquicentennial commemoration isn’t until 2011 to 2015, but preparations have already begun. Now, you can learn about the war's beginnings in "Bloody Kansas" and link to additional online resources. Also get a timeline, find out about Civil War parks and more.

Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 17 July 2008 08:21:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Effort Underway to Open 1926 Irish Census
Posted by Diane

The Council of Irish Genealogical Organizations (CIGO) wants the Irish government to open the country’s 1926 census ahead of schedule—as soon as possible, instead of in 2026, as Ireland’s 100-year restriction dictates.

CIGO has started an online petition to support the Genealogical Society of Ireland’s (GSI) soon-to-be published parliamentary bill dealing with the release of the 1926 census.

The group argues the 1926 census should be opened because “virtually every adult then living is now deceased” and the data recorded is similar to that available in civil registration and other records.

Members also point out the 1926 census would be particularly helpful to genealogists. Many of those enumerated were born before Irish civil registration began in 1864, and it was the first census in 15 years (the scheduled 1922 count was skipped due to the Irish Civil War).

Precedent favors opening the census, according to CIGO. “Public access to the 1901 and 1911 Irish census was established as early as 1961 . . . only 50 years after the 1911 census had been compiled.” (In the United States, censuses are opened 72 years after they're taken.)

The National Archives of Ireland is publishing the 1911 census online; so far, you can search records for Dublin. A partnership with Library and Archives Canada also calls for digitizing the 1901 census.

Until then, since there’s no microfilm index to the 1901 and 1911 censuses, find your ancestors using the advice in Sharon DeBartolo Carmack's March 2008 Family Tree Magazine Irish roots research guide:
To find the Family History Library (FHL) census microfilm with your ancestors’ county, first learn the district electoral division (DED). Find the DED in Townlands in 1901-1911 Censuses of Ireland, Listed by District Electoral Divisions, on FHL microfilm rolls 1544947 through 1544954. Then run a place search of the FHL catalog on the county and civil parish names, and look for a 1901 or 1911 census heading. Click on each title, then on View Film Notes to find the roll for the right DED. (You can rent FHL microfilm through a Family History Center near you.)
Click here to read more about the initiative and link to CIGO’s online petition.

census records | International Genealogy | Research Tips | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, 16 July 2008 12:12:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 14 July 2008
Free Chicago Vital Records Search Goes Online
Posted by Diane

In the March 2008 Family Tree Magazine Branching Out news column, we reported the clerk’s office in Cook County, Illinois—home to Chicago—was digitizing vital records for an online index.

The project is finally finished, and you can search the index at the county's Genealogy Online Web site. Records date back to the 1880s (the Great Chicago Fire destroyed Cook County vital records from before 1871).

First, you’ll need a free site registration. Then you can search birth and death certificates (older than 75 and 50 years, respectively), and marriage licenses (older than 50 years) by name and optional year range, or year and file number.

Online genealogy guru Steve Morse has created an online form that gives you a sounds-like option for names.

Matches show the person’s name, the record date and file number, with an option to download a copy of the record from the clerk's office for $15.

You also could use the index information to order the microfilmed records from the Family History Library (run a keyword search of the online catalog on cook county and birth, marriage or death). The rental fee runs about $5 per roll; visit your local Family History Center to put in your request.

(Update: Click Comments below for expert tips on finding microfilmed Cook County vital records. Also, as a Family Tree Magazine E-mail Update newsletter reader pointed out, records are still being added to the CookCountyGenealogy database.)

Genealogy Web Sites | Public Records
Monday, 14 July 2008 09:20:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 11 July 2008
New Source for British Parish Records
Posted by Diane

The UK fee-based data site is adding baptism, marriage and burial records from more than 1,000 parishes across Britain.

The records date as far back as 1538, making them valuable sources for research before civil registration began in 1837. You can search by surname across all the records without knowing where your ancestor lived.

Starting today, you can view more than over 15 million parish burial records and memorial inscriptions. A total of 7 million baptism, marriage and probate records will become available later this year.

The parish records are available with an Explorer subscription to, which costs 54.95 pounds ($109) for 6 months or 89.95 pounds ($178) for a year.

You also can search some English baptism and marriages through FamilySearch Labs' Record Search (scroll down and look under Vital Records).

Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 11 July 2008 09:13:41 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 10 July 2008
New Blog Series: 101 Best Web Sites Profiles
Posted by Diane

I’ll be highlighting two of our 101 Best Web Sites for genealogy (selected at random) each week right here. My math skills aren’t the greatest, but I figure at this rate, we’ll finish up in time to start next year’s list.
  • Let’s start with Documenting the American South, where the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill library publishes digitized texts, images and audio files.
We called this site one of the “Best for African-American Researchers” because of its strong African-American collections, including information on slavery, biographies and Southern black churches. But it covers a wide range of Southern history topics, including literature, North Carolinians in World War I, and southerners’ letters and other writings.
You’ll need to register with the site to search the name index. You see limited results for free; the cost to view full record entries starts at 5 pounds (that's about $10).
The September 2008 Family Tree Magazine (which hits newsstands next week) has the full 101 Best Web Sites list, or click through to them all from

And you can visit our Forum to nominate your favorite family history site for honors in 2009.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 10 July 2008 08:20:49 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 09 July 2008 Plays up New Search Experience
Posted by Diane staffers have been working the PR circuit lately to promote the new "search experience" opened to the public this spring. Makes you wonder whether the old search will be shut down soon—after all, the company wouldn’t run the two searches side-by-side forever.

In an interview last week, product development manager Kendall Hulet told me about 90 percent of people still were using the old search. And on blogs including our own,’s and the Ancestry Insider, most seem to prefer the old search.

Part of the issue may just be getting used to a new way of doing things, but Hulet knows there still room for improvement.
"There are bugs," he admitted, but emphasized you can use the Tell Us What You Think button to send feedback (comments specifically describing a problem are most helpful). The Ancestry Insider quizzed him about two bugs, including one that causes more false matches with the new search than the old.

I asked Hulet about that bar in the new search results that basically says you’ll be wasting your time if you continue looking at results. Why even include those far-fetched matches?

The warning is an attempt to help people who otherwise would spend hours clicking every single result, Hulet says, while also giving more-experienced users access to any record that has the remotest chance of being an ancestor. “What I suggest to people who don’t want to see all those results is to use more Exact terms in their search,” he added.

Something else to watch out for: In the advanced search, if you click the Exact box for one of your terms, the search won’t find records that don’t include that information. (Sorry for the double negative—say you choose Exact for a birth date. Your search won't pull up a newspaper engagement announcement that lacks birth information.)

Hulet couldn't say when the old search might go away. He did say something you'll be happy to hear—an improved search engine is in the works (though he cautioned the upgrade would take some time).
Hear more from Hulet about's new search experience on DearMyrtle’s July 1 podcast. | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 09 July 2008 14:43:22 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9]