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<2008 August>

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# Tuesday, 19 August 2008
New European Genetic Map Resembles Modern Borders
Posted by Diane

Our contributing editor Rick Crume sent me a note about this cool genetic map of Europe, created by the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam. Overlapping color-coded outlines show the genetic relationships of 23 populations.

The New York Times also covered the map.

According to geneticists who developed the map, it shows populations in Europe are similar, but not too close to tell them apart genetically. The Times reports that one of those scientists says it “should be possible” to create a test that can tell you which European country you’re probably from.

That’d be great. Right now, DNA tests can give you a haplogroup or a general population (for example, East Asian or Indo-European), but they can’t specifically tell you which countries your DNA represents.

The outlines on Europe’s genetic map resemble those on its geographic map. The most genetic difference occurs between northern and southern populations, probably reflecting ancient migrations that populated Europe from the south.

The map also shows where two “genetic barriers” arose: One separated the Finns from the rest of Europe due to the small early Finnish population; the other separated those in Italy, perhaps because the Alps kept people from moving back and forth.

The map came from genetics testing that analyzed 500,000 sites on the human genomes of nearly 2,500 Europeans.

Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, 19 August 2008 08:03:09 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 15 August 2008
101 Best Web Sites: and SharedTree
Posted by Diane

This week's 101 best genealogy Web site highlights:
  • SharedTree is a free place to build and share your tree online. Pluses include not having to download anything, GDCOM compatibility, unlimited file size and real-time collaboration with other researchers.
  • is one of the go-to places for searching cemetery records—in this case, 3.9 million transcriptions from 8,375 cemeteries in the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, New Zealand and other countries.

Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 15 August 2008 14:12:21 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, 14 August 2008
Free Database of the Week: Early Indiana Marriages
Posted by Diane

This week’s free database is the Indiana State Library’s compilation of Indiana marriages through 1850.

The late Dorothy Riker, an editor of The Hoosier Genealogist, started the project years ago. Volunteers have expanded the index to include marriage information through 1850 from courthouses in all counties that kept records, plus marriages mentioned in Quaker monthly meeting notes and St. Francis Xavier Church (in Vicennes) records. That adds up to around 330,000 marriages recorded in the database.

You can search on the bride or groom. Results link to the person’s full name, name of his or her spouse, the date of the marriage and the county where it took place.

Then you can look for the original record on Family History Library microfilm, or request it from the county court clerk (for contact information, go to the state courts Web site and use the Information by County dropdown menu on the left).

Free Databases | Public Records
Thursday, 14 August 2008 16:36:33 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 13 August 2008
NARA to Release Records on WWII Intelligence Officers
Posted by Diane

On Aug. 14, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will open more than 35,000 personnel files of men and women who served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the country’s intelligence agency during World War II.

The files, located at NARA’s College Park. Md., facility, cover civilian and military OSS personnel who died while in service or were transferred, discharged or reassigned prior to 1947.

Records document applications, training and work assignments, pay, leave and travel, evaluations, basic medical information, awards and decorations, and discharges. Some files have special citations for combat actions or major intelligence missions.

The files are arranged by name, so you can use NARA’s Archival Research Catalog to search for people with OSS files. It’s a little tricky—here’s how I did it:
1. In the Archival Research Catalog, make sure the Archival Description tab is selected (it should be the default).
2. Type 1593270 (the OSS ARC identifier) into the search field and click Search.
3.  Click the link for the single result.
4. Scroll down and click the Search Within This Series icon to search for a name (the search may take awhile). Or, to browse names, click the link “15,169 file units described in ARC.”
You don’t get much identifying information, just the person’s name and serial number, which you can use it to order copies from NARA.

Fun fact: Julia Child (then Julia McWilliams) served in the OSS, where she helped develop repellant so sharks wouldn’t foil US efforts to blow up German U-boats. She also met her her future husband, Paul Child, another OSS member.

See NARA’s Web site for more background information on OSS records.

Libraries and Archives | Military records
Wednesday, 13 August 2008 10:33:58 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 11 August 2008
Researching African-American Historical Newspapers
Posted by Diane

Tune in to the most recent Genealogy Guys podcast to hear about a new resource for African-American researchers, Finding and Using African American Newspapers by Tim Pinnick (Gregath Publishing).

Genealogists often shy away from searching through old newspapers because it requires digging up the names of sometimes-obscure titles, and often traveling to the library and enduring lots of microfilm-scrolling. And most of us seem to assume our ancestors weren’t newsworthy, anyway.

In an excerpt on his Web site, Pinnick ticks off the benefits of historical newspapers for African-American researchers in particular: articles that associate an ancestor with a slaveholding family, birth and death dates before vital records were kept, freed slaves’ notices seeking information about loved ones, society pages with family members’ comings and goings.

A few additional resources for African-American newspapers (feel free to click comment and add others you know of):
  • Freedom’s Journal, published in New York City, is digitized at the Wisconsin Historical Society Web site.

African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 11 August 2008 17:22:56 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 08 August 2008
101 Sites: FamilySearch Labs and Florida Memory
Posted by Diane

Here are this week's 101 Best Web Sites highlights. See the rest of the list at
  • FamilySearch Labs is where you can access cool new tools that one day will be part of the main FamilySearch site. That includes the Web-based tool volunteers all over the world use to index digitized records, a family tree application (currently being rolled out to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ locations) and the Record Search Pilot. Webmasters recently added a global map that lets you search records from particular areas of the world.

Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 08 August 2008 14:54:00 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Chinese Genealogy Resources and’s
Posted by Diane

We’ve heard some questions about’s recently launched Chinese site,, and help for researchers who want to use it but don’t know Chinese.

“There isn’t an English version of the Chinese site, just as there isn’t an English version of our Italian, French, German or Swedish sites,” says Simon Zivian, spokesperson for the’s international business. “These international sites have been launched in local markets for those markets.”

In addition, the jiapu (family histories) on the site are in Chinese.

You can get a rough translation using Google’s Web page translator, but you’d need to search using Chinese characters, and you’d need translation help with the digitized records.

For translation help, I’d suggest contacting a university Asian Studies department or a local Chinese organization to ask for recommendations. Here are a few other Chinese genealogy resources:
  • China Gateway
    Links to repositories in North America, China and elsewhere that have Chinese collections
I did a search for professional genealogists specializing in Chinese research and came up empty. Hit Comment and add a post if you know of one.

Asian roots | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Friday, 08 August 2008 14:25:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, 07 August 2008
Free Database of the Week: Virginia WWI Veterans Surveys
Posted by Diane

In 1919, as part of an effort to preserve the stories of Virginians in the Great War, a governor-appointed Historical Commission sent questionnaires to the state's returning WWI soldiers and nurses.  

A full narrative of the completed questionnaires was never published, and the records ended up with the Library of Virginia.

Now they’re in a database of more than 14,900 records, one for each respondent, linked to digitized images of each questionnaire page plus any accompanying photographs or other material.

The completed questionnaires hold a wealth of data, including names, dates, places, educational and religious background, and military service details. Soldiers also answered questions about their wartime experiences and how war affected their personal values. See the library Web site for more on this collection.

You can search on a keyword (such as a name or hometown) or phrase, or enter a word to browse alphabetically adjacent records.

Search results come in table form; click the number on the far left to bring up the catalog entry. Next, click the URL next to the document icon, then click the link to a page of the questionnaire.

Free Databases | Libraries and Archives | Military records
Thursday, 07 August 2008 16:40:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 06 August 2008 Launches Chinese Site
Posted by Diane

First, The Generations Network (owner of just launched a Chinese family history Web site at

The site, written in Chinese, provides access to jiapu (family histories) online. They're available through a partnership with the Shanghai Library, which holds the largest collection of Chinese family history records in the world. So far, 1,450 jiapu covering 270 surnames are online; eventually, will contain 22,700 jiapu.

As of now, the family histories are accessible at no cost. | Asian roots | International Genealogy
Wednesday, 06 August 2008 17:07:26 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 05 August 2008
Show Your Stuff in the Genealogy Blogger Olympics
Posted by Diane

Challenge yourself to go for the gold in your family tree research by participating in the Summer 2008 Genea-Blogger Group Games.

The Games, sponsored by bloggers at AnceStories and elsewhere, are open to members of the Facebook Genea-Blogger Group (which you can sign up for after becoming a member of Facebook).

No shotput-hurling or pole-vaulting here. The five events in the Genea-Blogger Games include citing sources, backing up data, organizing your research, writing about your family history and performing acts of genealogical kindness.

You’ll keep track of your own points and record your progress on your blog. Win enough points, and you’ll receive a medal to display there.

Competitors must register by 3 pm PDT Aug. 7, and the Games are on Aug. 9-23. See the AnceStories blog for registration instructions, detailed descriptions of each event and scorekeeping guidelines.

Now’s the time for all that genealogy training to pay off—let the games begin!

Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun
Tuesday, 05 August 2008 14:20:23 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]