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# Wednesday, May 06, 2009
New Navigation Features Coming to Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane

For those of you who subscribe to Ancestry.com, I wanted to point out the Ancestry Insider's post about new navigation features coming to the site.

Those include a new record viewer that shows a record image and details side by side (which should reduce all the clicking back and forth and waiting for pages to load), and a new Person Page in Ancestry Member Trees that'll be easier to read and focus more on sources.

Learn more and see screen shots on the Ancestry Insider blog.


Ancestry.com
Wednesday, May 06, 2009 2:34:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
FamilySearch Adds Alabama Death Index and More
Posted by Diane

New records on the free FamilySearch record search pilot site this week include a statewide death index for Alabama—more than 1.8 million names—dating from 1908 to 1974. Note this is an index; the database doesn’t contain record images.

As FamilySearch digitizes records, webmasters often add the images before the indexes are completed. You won’t be able to search such collections for a name until the index is added, but you still can browse the record images.

To browse, click the region of interest in the map on the pilot site home page. You'll see a listing of collections by country; click the collection title you want. Next, choose from the subcategories (which might be counties, dates, or alphabetical ranges—it depends how the records are organized).

Afew of the collections containing images but no indexes (yet) are civil registrations from Jamaica’s Trelawney Parish, the 1892 New York state census and Catholic Church records from Avila, Spain.

To see a listing at indexing projects underway (read: get a peek at what’ll be available online), go to the FamilySearch Projects and Partner Projects Web pages.


FamilySearch | Free Databases
Wednesday, May 06, 2009 2:23:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Enter to Win Our Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD
Posted by Diane

We’re hard at work putting together a CD called Organize Your Genealogy Life! with Family Tree Magazine’s best advice and resources for sorting and storing your genealogy research, computer files, heirlooms and photos. We hope it’ll make you a more efficient researcher and ease your clutter-induced stress.

Whenever we tell people about this CD, they describe their overstacked desks (or dining room tables), overflowing file drawers and overstuffed hard drives. Maybe something resembling this:



So we thought we’d hold a little drawing—you submit a photo of your disorganized genealogy space, and we’ll randomly select three photos whose submitters will receive this CD free.

There are two ways you can enter:
  • Uploading your photo to our Flickr group. This is be easy if you’re already on Flickr: Just click Join to join our Flickr pool. If you’re not on Flickr, you’d need to become a member, which requires you to have a Yahoo! ID—click the aforementioned Join link to be guided through the steps. It’s not hard; but it does take a few minutes, which brings us to option two.
Either way, your photo should be 72-dpi JPG files, and you should include your name, hometown and e-mail address. Post or e-mail your photo by June 16 (updated). By entering, you agree to let us use your name and submitted photo in any and all print and digital media.

Just for the record, the photo above isn't my genealogy space—it's that of the researcher who won an organization contest we ran in 2002. She also had stuff int eh trunk of her car. Just goes to show any year is a good year to get organized.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Research Tips
Wednesday, May 06, 2009 10:02:44 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, May 05, 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 Ancestry.com, 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 FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

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

census records | Webinars
Tuesday, May 05, 2009 9:31:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, May 04, 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 Ancestry.com to produce a microsite where users can start their own family trees and learn more about the featured celebrities' trees.


Celebrity Roots
Monday, May 04, 2009 4:38:29 PM (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, May 04, 2009 3:03:03 PM (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 Ancestry.com, 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, May 04, 2009 9:38:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, April 30, 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, April 30, 2009 2:37:40 PM (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, April 30, 2009 10:32:39 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Ancestry.com Promises More-Relevant Results Starting Today
Posted by Diane

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

It’s not unusual to give Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com blog.


Ancestry.com
Wednesday, April 29, 2009 8:50:54 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]