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<2008 September>

More Links

# Friday, 05 September 2008
News From the FGS Conference
Posted by Diane

News-wise, it's been kind of a quiet Federation of Genealogical Societies conference so far, but here are a few of the tidbits we picked up yesterday:

  • The Bureau of Land Management has been quietly adding military warrants to its General Land Office records database.

  • The Irish Family History Foundation has launched an online research service called RootsIreland. Sign up for a free registration with the site, then use it to search nearly 40 million church records at genealogical research centers in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Results show you basic information from the record; viewing a record transcription costs 5 Euros (about $7). You’ll also get information on other records and research services available in your ancestors’ county.

  • ProQuest (the company behind the HeritageQuest database you can access in many libraries) has introduced Historic MapWorks, a service that lets you browse historical maps or search them by keyword, address or latitude and longitude.

Some of the maps have landowners’ names, and you can move around to look at the neighbors and compare the old map to a modern one. It's not in many libraries yet, but ask at your library's reference desk if it's available there.

Genealogy Events | International Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 05 September 2008 08:10:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 04 September 2008, FGS Partner on Indexing Projects
Posted by Diane

At today’s opening session of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference in Philadelphia, and FGS announced the federation is partnering on’s World Archives Project (now in public beta testing). The project enlists volunteers to index genealogical records.

FGS member societies will sponsor some of those indexing projects by recruiting volunteers and helping with access to records. Volunteers will transcribe information from historical record images, helping to create indexes that’ll remain accessible free on

Active indexers also will be able to access record images that are part of the World Archives Project. (Read more about the project in our blog post.)

Similar to FamilySearch Indexing, will donate a digital copy of the sponsored index and images to the partner organization for a particular record set.

"We’ve been searching for years for the right way to partner with genealogy societies, and we think this project will allow us to help them attract new members by leveraging the popularity of," says Tim Sullivan, president of's parent company, The Generations Network.

"We appreciate the encouragement and support FGS provides and look forward to continuing our relationship as this project marches forward."

Thursday, 04 September 2008 08:57:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Conference Underway in Philadelphia
Posted by Diane

The Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Philadelphia got started last night with exhibit hall preview hours. The hall was busy with genealogists; a live events area features product demos and presentations. This morning is the opening session, followed by three days of conferencing—genealogy classes, meetings and exhibit hall shopping.

We'll keep you updated on conference news. Meanwhile, some show-and-tell. I got into Philadelphia early and tooled around to some of the historic sites, including:

Christ Church Burial Ground, whose walls guard Benjamin Franklin’s gravesite (not in this photo) and those of other founding fathers and Christ Church congregation members. Few of the headstones are still readable, but a church record book has told caretakers the inscriptions many stones used to bear.

Independence Hall, where the Constitutional Congress debated the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. (The chair at the head of the room is the one from which John Hancock presided over Congress; other chairs aren't original.)

… The Liberty Bell (this is the side opposite the famous crack), which used to be in the Pennsylvania State House. I learned it didn’t crack when the Declaration of Independence was signed—no one knows exactly when the large gap formed, but it was some time between 1817 and 1846.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun | Oral History
Thursday, 04 September 2008 07:58:58 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 03 September 2008
We'd Like Your Feedback!
Posted by Grace

As you poke around our new site, please let us know what you think of it by taking our survey! All your feedback helps us make even better.

Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 03 September 2008 15:49:36 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 02 September 2008
Picasa Debuts Next-Generation Photo Tagging
Posted by Grace

Google's photo webware Picasa is venturing into the next generation of photo tagging this afternoon with facial-recognition technology. As CNET and TechCrunch report, the new feature labels people in your albums for you. Once you start using "name tags" on your photos, Picasa will suggest other photos that contain the same person (or similar-looking people, or a bike wheel, as one reporter encountered) so you can tag them all at once.

If you've had experience with photo tagging on Picasa or Flickr, you know that it can be a time-consuming process. But the CNET reporter says of the new Picasa: "It took me less than 15 minutes to tag close to 200 faces in a set of more than 100 photos, and that included some start-up time such as figuring out how the system worked, establishing names for various common subjects, and correcting a few errors."

My first question, of course, is how well this technology can be applied to old photos and identifying mystery ancestors. If you've tried tagging your ancestors, leave a comment and tell us about it!

Tuesday, 02 September 2008 14:53:45 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 01 September 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, 01 September 2008 10:11:14 (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!)

Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Monday, 01 September 2008 10:03:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 29 August 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, 29 August 2008 13:44:43 (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, 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

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’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 | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software
Friday, 29 August 2008 09:57:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 28 August 2008
Introducing the New
Posted by Diane

We got ourselves a new Web site! The brand-spanking-new 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, 28 August 2008 15:38:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]