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# Wednesday, July 30, 2008
UK Genetic Genealogy Patent Dispute Ends
Posted by Diane

A patent dispute between British genetic genealogy companies Oxford Ancestors (headed up by Seven Daughters of Eve author Bryan Sykes) and DNA Heritage ended in favor of the latter.

Oxford Ancestors obtained a UK patent for ““Method of using Y chromosome haplotyping in forensic and genealogic tests” in 2004 (it filed for the patent in 1999). The patent consisted of seven claims about the company’s Y-chromosome haplotype analysis and its use in surname and genetic genealogy research.

Oxford ancestors accused DNA Heritage two years ago of infringing upon its patent. In January, DNA Heritage asked the UK Intellectual Property Office to re-evaluate four of the claims, contending the science behind them wasn't sufficiently “novel and inventive” over previous genetic research.

In April, the office issued an opinion (subject to a subsequent three-month review period) that the four claims did not involve inventive steps.

"Other researchers had already shown the connection between surnames, Y-chromosomes and family history," says DNA Heritage president Alastair Greenshields. He added the finding would help keep genetic testing prices affordable because companies won't have to pay royalty fees for their tests.

We're currently seeking comment from Oxford Ancestors and will post it here.


Genetic Genealogy
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 2:47:49 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, July 29, 2008
FamilySearch Answers Questions about Free Census Indexes
Posted by Diane

Since announcing joint US and English census projects with Ancestry.com and FindMyPast, FamilySearch has gotten questions from its record indexing volunteers, who want to know if the indexes they’re creating will continue to be free to the public.

FamilySearch released a statement today saying that “The answer is a resounding YES!”
 
“All data indexed by FamilySearch volunteers will continue to be made available for free to the public through FamilySearch.org—now and in the future,” says the statement sent by FamilySearch spokesperson Paul Nauta.  “Access to related digital images may not always be free to everyone.”

Why's that? Here’s the bottom line:
  • FamilySearch works within the needs of historical record custodians (such as governments, local and national archives, and historical societies) around the world.
  • Indexes will always be free at FamilySearch, even if the index costs elsewhere.
  • If FamilySearch is able negotiate with record custodians to get free access to record images for everyone online via the FamilySearch site, it will.
  • For some records, FamilySearch may only be able to negotiate free image access for visitors to the 4,500 worldwide Family History Centers (which are open to anyone), along with limited home access to FamilySearch members.
  • Those FamilySearch members eligible for limited home access to the restricted record images would include volunteer indexers who contribute a certain amount of work, and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (whose tithes help keep FamilySearch operating).
Web developers are coming up with a way to verify the identity of FamilySearch members and expect to have it ready next year.
  • You also often can get free access to the record images by visiting the custodial repository.

census records | FamilySearch
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 1:31:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, July 28, 2008
Video Tour of Cincinnati Library Genealogy Center
Posted by Diane

We’re lucky enough to work up the road from an excellent research resource—the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s Genealogy and Local History Department. It’s one of the biggest and best genealogy collections in the country. Our latest video tells you how a recent reorganization stands to benefit genealogists, and highlights resources that just might lead to ancestral answers in your tree.

You’ll find more video tours and how-tos on Family Tree Magazine’s You Tube Channel.


Libraries and Archives | Videos
Monday, July 28, 2008 3:10:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, July 25, 2008
Geni Says Goodbye to Beta, Hello to New Features
Posted by Diane

The free Los Angeles-based family networking site Geni, honored in May as one of Time magazine’s top 50 sites of 2008, has emerged from beta with new features including tree merging and video sharing.

Here’s how tree merging works: When you add an e-mail address to a profile, Geni looks for the address on existing trees. If found, the site sends a merge request to the person asking if they’d like the profiles merged. Conflict resolution tools help find and resolve duplicate people. Find more on tree merging in Geni’s online forum.

Video sharing is free and unlimited, with videos viewable only by your family. As with photos, you can tag videos by event name, creating a kind of virtual multimedia scrapbook of the event. Get more details—including supported file formats and browsers—on Geni’s Forum.

Other, smaller additions include a Recently Online notice of which family members have visited Geni recently, Tree Stats on your home page ,and a Complete Your Family module for inviting relatives to join you on Geni.

Former executives and early employees of such esteemed sites as PayPal, eGroups, eBay and Tribe launched privately held Geni in January 2007. Financial backing comes from venture capital firms Founders Fund and Charles River Ventures.


Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, July 25, 2008 10:02:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, July 24, 2008
101 Web Sites: DNA and Mapping Tools
Posted by Diane

Two more great genealogy sites you should check out (for more recommendations, see the full list of this year’s 101 Best Web Sites):
  • GeneTree combines social networking and genetic genealogy. You can make profiles for yourself and your ancestors, keep track of DNA test results and search for matches. Use the site free even if you didn’t take advantage of  GeneTree’s testing services, which include both mitochondrial- and (as of this week) Y-DNA tests.
  • Search the USGS Geographic Names Information System for towns (even those no longer in existence), landmarks, waterways, cemeteries and more in this database of more than 2 million places. You can map any result using a variety of online tools.

Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Thursday, July 24, 2008 8:54:12 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Free Database of the Week: FBI Records on Footnote
Posted by Diane

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Federal Bureau of Investigation  July 26, historical records subscription service Footnote is making its collection of FBI Case Files free through the end of August.

The files date from 1908 to 1922 and number 2 million records that might hold some surprises for genealogists.

One 1918 case I happened across in the Miscellaneous Files category involved the discovery of a trunkful of whiskey at the Central Union Depot in downtown Cincinnati. A report named witnesses, the FBI agents who investigated, the man accused of shipping the trunk in violation of the Reed Amendment (which prohibited transporting alcohol to dry states), and the perpetrator's female accomplice. Later documents show the pair was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Other types of cases include
  • “Mexican Files,” 1909-1921: investigations of violations of Mexican neutrality
  • “Old German Files,” 1915-1920: records of German enemy aliens, sympathizers, and others suspected of disloyalty, mainly during World War I
  • Bureau Section Files, 1920-21: records transferred from the Department of Justice concerning violations of federal laws.
The original records are at the National Archives and Records Administration in Record Group 65.

Click here to search the FBI Case Files database (you also can get to the database using the See All Databases link on Footnote’s home page).


Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, July 23, 2008 11:17:40 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, July 22, 2008
FamilySearch Cleans Up Well
Posted by Diane

If you haven't been to FamilySearch lately, go take a look—webmasters quietly changed the look of the home page last week.

Now it’s a lot cleaner, with a general search plus a pared-down list of links for the site’s research guides and other most-used resources.

As before, the general search here covers the Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, International Genealogical Index, Socal Security Death Index, Mexico and Scandinavian vital records, and the 1880 United States, 1881 British Isles, and 1881 Canadian censuses.

To find the indexes and record images coming out of the FamilySearch Indexing and Records Access initiativess, look under the Search Records pull-down menu and select Record Search Pilot. Eventually, this and other genealogy tools will be integrated into the main FamilySearch site.

You’ll find many of the links that previously cluttered the FamilySearch home page neatly stashed in the drop-down navigation menu or arranged at the bottom of the page.

Just FYI, many of the interior pages haven’t gotten the makeover treatment yet.


FamilySearch
Tuesday, July 22, 2008 4:15:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, July 21, 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.

Findmypast.com 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, July 21, 2008 11:35:27 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com and permanently on FamilySearch. Record images will be available by subscription on Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com. These newer images, created with more-recent technology, are of better quality than those available on Ancestry.com.

Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com’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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com and FamilySearch will link to record images on Ancestry.com. If someone without an Ancestry.com subscription clicks the image link, he’ll be prompted to join. Subscriptions cost $155.40 per year or $19.95 for a month.

Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com vice president of content Gary Gibb.


Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, July 21, 2008 10:01:01 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [12]
# Sunday, July 20, 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, July 20, 2008 10:34:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]