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# Monday, September 01, 2008
Free Database of the Week: Erie Railroad Workers
Posted by Diane

In honor of Labor Day, this week’s free database is the Erie Magazine Last Name Index, created by a Milwaukee-based Erie Railroad fan.

It’s actually not truly a database, since you don’t search it—instead, you browse by last name. Names come from Erie Railroad Magazine, published for workers who helped build the railroad. It started in southern New York (because the upstaters got the canal) and eventually extended into Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois (learn more from the Erie-Lackawanna Historical Society). 

Look around the rest of this railroad enthusiast's great site, too, for historical information, employee rosters, rail officials’ names and resources for continuing your search for Erie and other railroad ancestors.


Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, September 01, 2008 10:11:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
101 Best Sites: Canadian Histories and European Places
Posted by Diane

This week’s highlighted 101 Best Web Sites for genealogy take us to Canada and Europe:

  • Our Roots/Nos Racines: Digitized local histories from across Canada have landed on this site with English and French versions. Topics include the Klondike Gold Rush, Irish immigrants at Grosse-Île, indigenous communities, historic forts and trading posts, and more. Once you've found a volume about the places and times your ancestors experienced, you can search for their names and other terms.

  • Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names Online: Stumped by European place names? This guide to more than 900,000 places in Europe and around the world covers current and historical geography. Many location listings give coordinates, helping you to find them on a map.

To see all our 101 Best Web Sites for 2008, visit the (new!) FamilyTreeMagazine.com.


Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Monday, September 01, 2008 10:03:12 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, August 29, 2008
Family Tree Magazine Expert Talks Roots on the Today Show
Posted by Diane

The "Today" show hosts have been showing off their roots all week in a genealogy series. This morning, Family Tree Magazine contributing editor and resident Photo Detective  Maureen A. Taylor was in a spot with Al Roker, answering viewers’ research questions. 

See if you can spot the cover a familiar-looking genealogy magazine!

We've posted a video of Maureen's second segment with Meredith Vieira on the Photo Detective blog.


Research Tips | Videos
Friday, August 29, 2008 1:44:43 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Family Tree Maker 2009 Released
Posted by Diane

The Generations Network just announced the release of Family Tree Maker 2009. It’s largely version 2008 with all its patches plus improved functionality, but it does have some new features.

Those include charts and reports, such as hourglass, bowtie (shown below), 180-degree fan and others (in case you’re wondering, there’s no need to be signed up with Ancestry Publishing to generate these reports).



Automatic backups and more-powerful global data manipulation are other updates. See the full list of new features.

Several patches are planned for Family Tree Maker 2009 that'll add book-building, better integration with the subscription data service Ancestry.com, an improved relationship calculator and more.

Senior product manager Michelle Pfister says planning these patches will let TGN stick to a regular schedule of new releases (which retail distributors require) while putting final touches on what's covered in the patches. It also lets Family Tree Maker fans look forward to more features throughout the year.

Are there Family Tree Maker fans left after the problems many users had with version 2008? Yes, say Pfister and the software's development manager Mark LeMonnier. More than 300 users beta tested version 2009—an increase over version 2008 testers—and you can expect better functionality as a result, says LeMonnier. “Performance and stability have been our main focus,” he adds.

The 2009 version will read Family Tree Maker files back to version 4 (which takes you to the mid-1990s). To learn more about it, see FamilyTreeMaker.com.

If you purchased Family Tree Maker 2008, don’t buy version 2009—registered 2008 users are eligible to upgrade for free. If that’s you, during early to mid-September, you’ll receive an e-mail with instructions and a coupon code good for 2009 in the Ancestry store.

The offer will be available for a limited time, but Pfister says there'll be follow-up e-mails, so if you just ordered 2008, you still have time to register the software and be eligible for the free upgrade.

Get more information on the free upgrade offer on Ancestry.com’s blog. (By the way, note Family Tree Magazine is not affiliated with Family Tree Maker software.)

Here are a couple more Family Tree Maker 2009 views:


The people and family view



A family tree report you can generate

Ancestry.com | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software
Friday, August 29, 2008 9:57:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, August 28, 2008
Introducing the New FamilyTreeMagazine.com
Posted by Diane

We got ourselves a new Web site! The brand-spanking-new FamilyTreeMagazine.com launched just a few minutes ago.



Our new setup looks nicer and it's more user-friendly. The improved navigation makes it easy to find the content you want: You can browse the article archives by topic, or search the entire site from any page.

Each article offers buttons to bookmark the page, share it via e-mail or social networking sites, and generate a printer-friendly version. You can even subscribe to your favorite topics via RSS.

Our new home page will highlight more of what’s inside the site, including blog feeds and links to the most recently posted articles.

Even with all those features, what we’re most excited about is the technology behind this new site—it'll be much easier for us to put more great articles online.

If you were comfortable with the quirks of our old site (not unlike a cozy old recliner with a footrest you have to prop up using a two-by-four), these tips might help you get to know (and love, we hope) the new one:
  • To stop the screens in the top middle of the home page from changing, click on any of the four tabs (Welcome, State Guides, Best Web Sites, Expert Advice) to land on that screen.
  • Click the Welcome tab for a link to an article with detailed information on the new site.
  • You can increase the text size through your Web browser. In Internet Explorer, go to Page menu>Text Size. In Firefox, look under the View menu.
  • You can browse our how-to articles by hovering over a category name in the orange navigation bar, then clicking on one of the blue topics that appear in the white space below it. Then, to see all the articles for that topic, click the “See all” link in the upper right.
  • If you click one of the category names in the orange navigation bar, you can click “Subscribe to this topic’s RSS feed” to get an e-mail whenever we add an article to that category.
  • To see the Ethnic Toolkits from our old site, click on Heritage in the orange bar, then select from the blue list of ethnic backgrounds. You also can subscribe to an RSS feed for each of these ethnicities.
  • Find the list of 2008 101 Best Web Sites under Research Toolkit.
We invite you to take a look around the new site (even we keep finding stuff we didn’t know we had online). Got feedback? You can add it here (click Comments blow), post in our Talk to Us Forum or e-mail us.

Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, August 28, 2008 3:38:37 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Ancestry.de Subscription Price Drops
Posted by Grace

German genealogy blog Abenteuer Ahnenforschung pointed out today that the price of Ancestry.de's basic membership has been lowered to 9.95 euros a year—about $14.65. (For comparison's sake, Ancestry.com's US-only membership package costs $155.40 a year.)

If your family history research focuses on Germany—and you've got a good grasp on the language—this is a total steal. The records available to Ancestry.de subscribers (as well as Ancestry.com users with a World Deluxe Membership) include German city directories from 1797-1945 containing 32 million names, and soon 100 years of Deutsche Telekom phone books with an estimated 70 million names. Time to brush up on your Deutsch...


Ancestry.com | immigration records | International Genealogy
Wednesday, August 27, 2008 5:27:46 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
High-Tech Scanning Reveals More of Scrolls
Posted by Diane

Bring up online documents and genealogists usually think of death certificates and census schedules.

But in as little as two years, you’ll be able to examine the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls on the Web. And thanks to cutting-edge digitization technology involving infrared cameras and super-high resolution, you’ll see more text than previously was visible to the naked eye.

This initiative may pave the way for more-revealing scanning of all those genealogical documents. Read more in CNN’s article.


Historic preservation
Wednesday, August 27, 2008 3:01:48 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Olympian Phelps Joins Ellis Island Fundraising Campaign
Posted by Diane

Olympic swimming phenom Michael Phelps is the newest member of the We Are Ellis Island campaign, which is raising funds to restore the South Side of Ellis Island.

On the campaign Web site, you can watch a promotional video featuring Phelps (hard to recognize with facial scruff and a few inches of hair) and others.

Phelps’ ancestors immigrated through Ellis Island. A campaign spokesperson told me she doesn't yet have full details on their names and immigration dates, since Phelps signed on and shot the video just before leaving for Beijing.

Ellis Island's well-known immigration museum opened in 1990 on its North Side. The largely abandoned South Side was home to a state-of-the-art hospital where sick immigrants were treated—and sometimes ordered to return home.

Look for the November 2008 Family Tree Magazine article on Forgotten Ellis Island, a documentary and book about the hospital, and the patients and staff who spent part of their lives there.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Industry | Historic preservation
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 5:28:19 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Library Holds Treasure Hunt
Posted by Diane

Are you the owner of a local, national or even international treasure in printed form?

The genealogy department of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is holding a digitization contest to find “unique or rare books, documents, or photos in private hands so that they can be digitized to share with the world via the Library's Web site.”

To enter, you just fill out a form—no need to drop your heirloom in the mail. See the details and submit entries on the library Web site.


Historic preservation | Libraries and Archives
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 2:27:08 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, August 25, 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, August 25, 2008 11:17:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]