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<2009 May>

More Links

# Tuesday, 05 May 2009
Learn Secrets for Finding Ancestors in Online Census Records
Posted by Diane

Census records are among the first resources genealogists check for relatives. But it doesn’t take long to discover it’s not as easy as typing a name into a database and out pops your ancestor.

Our next Webinar will teach you secrets for finding census records both on free and fee-based sites. Online Census Secrets: Best Web Sites and Search Tips to Find Your Ancestors covers:
• key facts about US censuses and census Web sites
• how to access online census records for free
• how to use the major online census collections at, HeritageQuest Online and other sites
• a comparison of different sites’ records and indexes
• search strategies for finding elusive ancestors
The Webinar takes place Wednesday, May 27 at 7 p.m. EDT. Registration costs $49.99, but you’ll get $10 off when you register before midnight May 11.

Not only will you participate in the live, interactive class (you see slides and demos and hear the presentation; you can ask questions at any time by typing into a box and hitting Send); but you'll also get access to the recorded Webinar after it’s over, a PDF of the presentation, our “Master the Census” article, and an online census records reference chart.

Learn more about our Online Census Secrets Webinar and register on

If you’ve never taken an online workshop before, click here for more details about how Webinars work.

census records | Webinars
Tuesday, 05 May 2009 09:31:45 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 04 May 2009
US "Who Do You Think You Are?" Will Premiere This Fall (Unless It Won't)
Posted by Diane

NBC's genealogy-reality TV series "Who Do You Think You Are?" will now premiere this fall, according to Genealogy Gems blogger and podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke.

Reports about the show surfaced last year (we covered it in the September 2008 Family Tree Magazine). Genealogists were thrilled when it was finally scheduled to begin in April, but the premiere was postponed. Let's hope this new date sticks.

The US version of "Who Do You Think You Are?", hosted by Lisa Kudrow of "Friends" fame, is based on Britain's successful show of the same name, which traces celebrities' family trees.

NBC's Web site for the show also says the network has partnered with to produce a microsite where users can start their own family trees and learn more about the featured celebrities' trees.

Celebrity Roots
Monday, 04 May 2009 16:38:29 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Create Facebook Pages for Family With New Footnote App
Posted by Diane

Footnote has created a new Facebook app that lets you create an “I Remember” Facebook page for someone, with photos and stories about the person. Others can add memories, too, by writing on the person's wall.

Here's an example of an I Remember Facebook page:

What's written on the Facebook I Remember page also shows up in the Comments section on the person’s Person page on Footnote:

Go here to learn more and download the free I Remember app to your Facebook page.

Footnote is a subscription-based historical records site, but it also has free social networking features that let you create Footnote Pages about people, places or events.

You must be be a registered Footntoe member—but you don't have to subscribe—in order to create or add to a Footnote Page. You can search existing Footnote pages here.

Footnote | Social Networking
Monday, 04 May 2009 15:03:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Live Roots Adds Family History Library Catalog Search
Posted by Diane

Just a heads-up that you can now search the Family History Library (FHL) Catalog from within the Live Roots online genealogy resource directory.

Go to Live Roots’ search page and scroll down to the list of partner sites. Type your search into the FHL box and select the type of search. The place and keyword searches are my favorites—the place search finds all kinds of records associated with the place you enter; a keyword search finds resources with you search term in any part of the catalog listing.

Then click the Search FHL Catalog button.

In the search results, click a record title for more details. You’ll see the listing from the FHL online catalog, except that the right side of the page has tips for accessing the record (including visiting a Family History Center near you).

In these instructions, you can click Help (at the bottom) for an in-depth explanation of FHL catalog listings.

Other Live Roots partner sites include the subscription sites, Footnote, Genealogy Bank, World Vital Records (you need a subscription to those sites to view results from their premium databases), eBay, Twitter and others.

Note that for some of these partner sites, particularly the genealogy database services, you may get better results by going to the site and using its search form. The addtional search fields for life dates, place, nationality, etc., will help you target your search.

For more information on Live Roots, see our previous blog posts.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips
Monday, 04 May 2009 09:38:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 30 April 2009
Overcoming Genealogical Malaise and Canine Sabotage
Posted by Diane

Funny how when my research is humming along and I’m finding all kinds of new genealogy information, my excitement percolates over and I can’t wait to write about it here.

But when there’s nothing on the microfilm and my online searches come up empty, I keep quiet. I fade into a kind of genealogical malaise.

My dog enjoys shredding paper. (Once I caught her slinking away from my purse with a $10 bill in her teeth.) Soon after my ancestors failed to appear in city directory microfilm, Janie got hold of a research request sitting on the bookshelf waiting to be mailed to the Louisiana state archives. I found it in two pieces on the living room floor.

I still haven’t done anything about those two pieces. Malaise.

They say that when you’re trying to get into shape, the best motivation is seeing the dieting and exercise pay off. That principle applies to genealogy: The best inspiration to do more research is getting results.

So when you keep not finding new information despite your best efforts, you’re in danger of embarking on a downward spiral—lack of motivation to look for records followed by (wonder of wonders) not finding your ancestors.

That’s when you need outside motivation. I’ll throw out a few suggestions, and I hope you’ll click Comments to add your own:
  • Take a genealogy class, attend an event, go to a society meeting or read a magazine (hey! I know one you might like!). Let others help you see the possibilities. Plus, it’ll be inspiring to talk to people who are in a more excited state of doing genealogy than you're stuck in.
  • Help a genealogy newbie. You could go with a friend to a Family History Center, be a library volunteer or answer questions online in forums such as ours. You’ll gain confidence in your research skills and be inspired by your helpee’s successes—a little like watching a wide-eyed toddler discover the world.   
  • Bask in the glow of past bingo! moments. Go through your research and remember the time you finally discovered Great-grandpa, his last name mangled, in the 1900 census. That feeling of triumph will be yours again.
  • Power through. Our sister publication Writer’s Digest says the best way to get over writer’s block is to make yourself sit down and write. It’s like that. Force yourself to do some research (try moving to an environment, such as the library, where you won’t be tempted to clean the kitchen or turn on the TV).
  • Accept the lows with the highs. You can’t be on all time, and neither can your family tree. Instead of feeling guilty, let yourself enjoy a short research vacation. Then jump back in refreshed.

Research Tips
Thursday, 30 April 2009 14:37:40 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
Happy Jewish-American Heritage Month!
Posted by Diane

Jewish American Heritage Month, which starts with the first day of May (that's tomorrow), brings you opportunities to learn about Jewish history.

President Bush announced the first monthlong commemoration of American Jewish roots in 2006. May was chosen to mark successful celebration of the 350th anniversary of American Jewish history in May 2004.
Check with your library, synagogue and Jewish community center to find events near you. You can learn more about Jewish-American Heritage Month and see online exhibits by clicking here, through this site's events calendar still lists 2008 celebrations.

For tips and resources on researching Jewish roots, see our research toolkit and look for Schelly Talalay Dardashti’s seven search strategies in the September 2009 Family Tree Magazine (which mails to subscribers mid-June and goes on sale July 7).

Celebrating your heritage | Genealogy Events | Jewish roots
Thursday, 30 April 2009 10:32:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 29 April 2009 Promises More-Relevant Results Starting Today
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site has embarked on its quest to improve the relevance of your search results by starting with dates.

It’s not unusual to give a death date in, say, 1910, but still get search results from the 1930 census. But after today, that’ll be a rarer occurrence.

On the blog, search product manager Anne Mitchell promises we’ll start to see changes in search results around noon EDT.

Based on experience with census and vital records, Mitchell’s team has chosen “fudge factors” of five years for birth and two years for death. Searches also assume someone lived about 100 years.

I haven’t tried the adjusted search yet (it's only 9 a.m. here), but here’s what should happen:
  • If you’re searching for someone and you know he was born in 1880, but you don’t know when he died, matching records will fall between 1875 and 1982.
  • If you know the death date was 1926 but you don’t know the birth year, matches will fall between 1821 and 1928.
  • If you enter the birth year and the death year, matches will fall between the birth year minus 5 and the death year plus 2.
  • If you pick a range for the birth or death year, the fudge factor will come in at the outside end of the range. For example, for a birth you enter 1843 with a two-year range. Search results will start in 1836.
If you give the 1902 death a five-year range, results will end in 1909.
  • You can still choose Exact to eliminate the fudge factor. If you choose Exact for a birth of 1843 with a two-year range, matching records will have birth dates between 1841 and 1845. If you specify Exactly 1843 with no range, matching records will have birth dates in 1843.
Unless you’re specifically looking for a death record, It’s best to avoid choosing Exact for a death date. Checking Exact for any search term means matching records must contain that term. But few genealogy records have death information (most of your ancestor’s records were created while he was alive).
A caveat: Mitchell says 95 percent of records are covered with this search update. The rest will be added, but if you search a data set in that five percent, you won’t notice these updates.

She answers more questions on the blog.
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 08:50:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 28 April 2009
FamilySearch Adds Brazil Genealogy Records
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch launched its first Portuguese records collection, Rio de Janeiro Civil Registrations.

The 4.5 million digital images comprise birth (1889 to 1930), marriage (1889 to 1950) and death (1889 to 2006) records from all cities in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The index isn’t completed yet; you’ll need to browse the record images by place in the free Record Search Pilot.

PS: And if you get stuck while trying to climb any language barriers, consult FamilySearch's Portuguese Genealogical Word List. (Which is actually more than just a list. Don't miss the links at the top to different parts of the guide).

FamilySearch | Free Databases | International Genealogy
Tuesday, 28 April 2009 13:09:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Scare Tactics Throughout History
Posted by Grace

This swine flu is nothing new—and neither is the panic. A 1976 outbreak was described as "the epidemic that never was." The flu itself killed only one person, but hundreds were injured or killed by a vaccine the government came up with. (Read the whole story here.) About a third of the US population was vaccinated, perhaps thanks to scaremongering public service announcements like these:

Click here for answers to all your swine flu questions. Thanks to Sally Jacobs for the video link!

Social History | Videos
Tuesday, 28 April 2009 12:40:40 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Year's Most-Endangered Historic Sites Span History
Posted by Diane

History doesn’t always mean ages ago, if you look at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2009 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

It names threatened historic sites as ancient as New Mexico’s Mount Taylor, sacred to American Indian tribes, and as modern as the Century Plaza Hotel, the distinctive curved building opened in Los Angeles in 1966.

The list, which has identified 211 sites since it started in 1988, serves as an alarm to raise awareness of threats facing historic treasures. And it’s been remarkably successful: Only six of the 211 sites have been lost. That makes us hopeful for Cincinnati’s historic Over the Rhine neighborhood (where my grandfather lived as a child), which made the endangered list in 2006.

For its 22nd annual list, the National Trust wants to raise the alarm for these places. See the National Trust’s blog for details about each site below (and follow @PresNation on Twitter for tweets from the 11 Most Endangered press conference).
  • Ames Shovel Shops, a 19th-century industrial village in Easton, Mass.
  • Cast-Iron Architecture (below, in a National Trust photo) in the 12-block Strand/Mechanic National Historic Landmark District of Galveston, Texas

  • Century Plaza Hotel, opened in 1966 in Los Angeles

  • Dorchester Academy, once a school for former slaves and later, voting registration center during the Civil Rights era, in Midway, Ga.

  • Human Services Center, the former South Dakota Hospital for the Insane, in Yankton, SD

  • Lāna‘i City, Hawai‘i, built by pineapple baron James Dole in the 1920s

  • The Manhattan Project’s Enola Gay Hangar, Wendover Airfield, Utah

  • Memorial Bridge, the first major lift bridge in the eastern US, connecting Portsmouth, NH, to Kittery, Maine

  • Miami Marine Stadium, a landmark and icon of modern design completed in 1963 in Virginia Key, Fla.

  • Mount Taylor, in the San Mateo Mountains near Grants, NM

  • Unity Temple, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Oak Park, Ill.

Historic preservation
Tuesday, 28 April 2009 09:16:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]