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<2008 August>

More Links

# Monday, 25 August 2008
"Today" Traces Hosts' Roots
Posted by Diane

If you want your genealogy researched for free but your past is too checkered to run for political office, there’s always the “Today” show host chair.

The show is again airing a series on tracing its hosts’ roots. Today we saw snippets of Meredith Vieira’s family history in Portugal’s Azores islands. On a genealogist's dream journey, Vieira visited the islands and found ancestors’ birth records, discovered family homes, met cousins and joined in the Festa do Espirito Santo (Festival of the Holy Spirit). You may get jealous, but watch the video all the same—it was inspiring.

At the end of the segment, Vieira thanks several people, including our own contributing editor Maureen A. Taylor, who did genealogical research for the "Today" producers.

Readers who share Vieira’s Portuguese ancestry—or have roots in neighboring Spain—can get research help in the June 2004 Family Tree Magazine (available from our Back Issue store).

Also see the Portuguese Genealogy Home Page and LusaWeb.

International Genealogy | Videos
Monday, 25 August 2008 11:17:45 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 21 August 2008, JewishGen Team Up
Posted by Diane

The subscription genealogy site and the Jewish roots site JewishGen have formed an alliance that’ll make JewishGen historical record databases available free on

Those databases include names of Holocaust victims, yizkor (memorial) books about Jewish communities destroyed during the Holocaust, the Given Names Database, and a ShtetlSeeker (helps you locate towns in Eastern and Central Europe).

You can search each database now on JewishGen, but by the end of this year, you'll be able to go to and search all the databases at once with a more-sophisticated search engine.

The JewishGen Web site also will be hosted in’s data center. | Jewish roots
Thursday, 21 August 2008 09:05:41 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Jewish Roots in The Caribbean
Posted by Diane

In a neat article on CNN this morning, reporter Steve Kastenbaum writes about exploring his Jewish roots on a trip to the Caribbean.

His grandfather moved there from Germany during the 1920s; his relatives were among the more than 15,000 Jews living in Cuba during the 1940s and 1950s.

Kastenbaum—and you—can use these sites to learn more about tracing Jewish roots in the Caribbean:

International Genealogy | Jewish roots
Thursday, 21 August 2008 08:53:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 20 August 2008
Family Tree Maker 2009 Coming Soon; '08 Users Can Upgrade Free
Posted by Diane

An spokesperson confirmed blog reports (found here and here) of the impending release of Family Tree Maker 2009 and free upgrades for registered users of version 2008.

Public relations manager Anastasia Tyler says the 2009 version of the widely used genealogy program is scheduled for release Sept. 3, which coincides with the upcoming Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference., where you can pre-order the software in packages priced from $29.99 to $99.99, has given the release date as Aug. 26, as have other bloggers.

Tyler also said registered 2008 users will have the opportunity to receive free upgrades—so make sure you’ve registered your software.

She didn’t elaborate on new or updated features, but Dick Eastman posted a description he found online (I couldn’t find that page on—if you can, help a girl out and post a comment with a link).

Update: A reader located the info on version 2009—thanks, Linda! | Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 20 August 2008 11:33:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [16]
This Week's Genealogy News Roundup
Posted by Diane

Here's a smattering of genealogy biz news from this week:

Footnote raises prices: Citing its greatly increased offerings, Web site improvements and the challenging economy, historical records site Footnote has announced it’s raising subscription prices to $11.95 for one month and $69.96 for a year (up from $7.95 and $59.95, respectively). The changes don’t take effect until Sept. 1, so if you’ve been meaning to join, now’s the time. World Archive Project hits milestone:’s volunteer indexing initiative, the World Archives Project (now in beta) has 650 active keyers who’ve already indexed more than 100,000 records—17,500 of those by one lightning-fast typist. The Wisconsin mortality records project is on track for completion in September.

World Archives’ project Indexers will receive free access to the indexes they’re creating; record images will be part of’s subscription databases. See our blog post for more on the project.

FamilySearch Indexing keeps chugging along: FamilySearch added 2 million-plus new images or indexed records this week to its free pilot Record Search databases.

Among them are Ohio WWII draft registration card images, marriage indexes for 14 more West Virginia Counties, and an index to the Coahulia, Mexico, 1930 census.

FindMyPast adds 3.2 million parish marriages: The UK family history database FindMyPast has enhanced its Parish Records Collection with 3.2 million marriage records dating back to 1538. Burial records already are in the collection; baptism records are still to come.

The parish records are available with an Explorer subscription, which costs 54.95 pounds ($109) for 6 months or 89.95 pounds ($178) for a year. Learn more about this collection in this Genealogy Insider post.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 20 August 2008 09:19:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Prairie Home Companion Star Talks Family History on 50th Genealogy Gems Podcast
Posted by Diane

Congratulations to Genealogy Gems podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke (also host of our own monthly Family Tree Magazine podcast) on her 50th episode!

She celebrates by interviewing Tim Russell, voice actor on Garrisson Keillor’s radio show “A Prairie Home Companion” and Al, The Stage Manager in the eponymous movie. Turns out Russell's also an avid family historian.

In the same episode, Cooke chats with fellow pocasters The Genealogy Guys, DearMYRTLE, and Mike O'Laughlin.

Tune in to the 50th Genealogy Gems Podcast free at Genealogy Gems.

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 20 August 2008 08:38:23 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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]