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# Friday, May 15, 2009
Sir Walter Raleigh and North Carolina Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Raleigh, NC, is named for Sir Walter Raleigh. He’s the English explorer whose royal charter to colonize “the Colony and Dominion of Virginia” (which at the time extended far beyond present-day Virginia) resulted in the lost colony of Roanoke Island in 1591—but also paved the way for later colonization in the New World.



Sir Walter’s statue outside the convention center looks like he’s surveying his dominion.

The area’s first permanent European settlers came south from the colony of Virginia around 1650. The Province of Carolina was established in 1660. In 1712, North Carolina split off’ it became a royal colony in 1729 and was the 12th state to ratify the US constitution in 1789.

Here are some North Carolina genealogy links:

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, May 15, 2009 11:41:52 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Ancestry.com: New Search and International Updates
Posted by Diane

In yesterday’s Ancestry.com bloggers meeting, held at the National Genealogical Society conference, leaders of several parts of the company talked about what the company’s been up to and goals for this year.

A lot of numbers were tossed out, which the company uses to understand which Ancestry.com databases and features you use most. For example, after member-to-member messaging was moved onto the site (so instead of just sending an e-mail to another user, you send a message that’s stored in the person’s in-box on the site), members sent 25 percent more messages. Responses increased 35 percent.

Some interesting stats involved the new search interface vs. the old one. Use of the two is evenly split, with longer-time members sticking with the old interface and newer members favoring the new interface (I have to wonder if they just haven’t discovered the old search yet). “Old-search searchers” do an average of 37 searches a day, and “new-search searchers” do an average of 21 searches per day.

The guy in charge of developing a newer new search, Tony Macklin, was frank about what’s wrong with the new search (this is from my scribbled notes, so it’s not a direct quote): queries don’t always return consistent results between the two platforms, you get too many irrelevant results, browsing by place is too difficult, and the individual database search templates aren’t as customized (Macklin uses the old search for individual databases). His examples were coupled with user comments.

He said changing the search interface without changing the actual search was a mistake, and the goal is to eventually bring together the best parts of both platforms. 

Content-wise, Ancestry.com has grown to 8 billion names. Family trees recently passed the census as the most-used data set.

Some upcoming additions include the WWII “Old Man’s Draft” for Illinois, newspapers from 30 new cities, Jewish records with two new yet-to-be-announced partners, Navy cruise books, pre-1850 city directories and vital records.

In a large reception Ancestry.com held last night for conference attendees, senior VP Andrew Waite said the company is aiming for a balance of 30 percent upgrading current collections and 70 percent adding new ones—but that this figure has been more like 50/50 during the last few months.

Ruth Daniels from the UK office talked about negotiating digitization agreements in other countries, where records may be widely dispersed at state and local repositories, and laws and cultural attitudes differ around who should have access to records. For example, public access laws make UK records easier to acquire; Italy’s decentralized archives make things more challenging there. The just-released German telephone directories and records from the London Metropolitan Archives, launched in March and still being added, are two successes.


Ancestry.com | Genealogy Events
Friday, May 15, 2009 9:28:46 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Photos From the NGS Conference
Posted by Diane

Here are a few photos of the National Genealogical Society Conference in Raleigh, NC:


FamilySearch (above), Ancestry.com, Footnote, ProQuest and other genealogical data providers do demos in the exhibit hall.


Here's a bird's eye view of the exhibit hall (it's toward the end of the day, so not as many folks are browsing around).


Here's another angle. You can see Ancestry.com's booth at the top center of the photo.


Book vendors often bring boxes and boxes of county and family histories, how-to books, maps and other sources.

Genealogy Events
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 6:52:42 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
News From the National Genealogical Society Conference
Posted by Diane

This morning we had tons of booth visitors, fresh from the opening presentation by actor Ira David Wood III. He’s played Sir Walter and Old Tom in The Lost Colony, an outdoor show since 1937 produced by Roanoke Island Historical Association.

A few news bits so far:
  • Look for subscription historical records site Footnote to make its 1930 US census free for a limited time later this summer. The site also will come out with a collection of American Indian records within the next few months.
  • Swedish church records subscription site Genline is introducing a transcription feature. Once you find an ancestor’s record, you can easily transcribe the name and make it available to other users. As names are transcribed, they’ll be available for searching. Right now, you browse Genline by parish, but this means that eventually, you’ll be able to find ancestors without knowing their parish first.
  • We heard about some changes coming soon for genealogy resources catalog directory site Live Roots. One sounds really useful: A way to save online searches to a “project” so you’ll know which sites you’ve checked, when, and how many results were returned, and you could easily repeat searches. You could create as many projects as you want—one for each county, say, or each surname.

FamilySearch | Footnote | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 4:22:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, May 11, 2009
Last Chance for $10 Off Census Webinar
Posted by Allison

The hours are waning to take advantage of the $10 early-bird discount on our next online workshop, Online Census Secrets: Best Web Sites and Strategies to Find Your Ancestors.

Diane and I will be leading this online seminar--"webinar" for short--May 27 at 7 p.m. EDT. If you've ever had trouble locating an ancestor in the census, you'll learn helpful tips and hints in this interactive session. We'll be demonstrating online census searching on screen, so you can see our advice in action.

Registration includes participation in the live workshop and Q&A session, of course, as well as these goodies:

• Online access to the workshop recording after the session concludes
• PDF of the presentation slides for future reference
• “Master the Census” article PDF
• Quick-reference chart showing which Web sites have which censuses and indexes

And until midnight EDT tonight (May 11), you can get $10 off the $49.99 workshop fee if you use coupon code: h6cl3cv7x4.

Visit our Web site for more details on the census workshop and to learn more about how webinars work.

census records | Genealogy Events | Webinars
Monday, May 11, 2009 5:58:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Live Roots Enhances Search of Online Databases
Posted by Diane

An update to last week’s post about searching popular genealogy database sites (both free and fee-based) from Live Roots’ search page:

The Live Roots webmaster has since added advanced search features to help you find resources in the subscription sites Ancestry.com, Footnote, World Vital Records and GenealogyBank.

To access these features, go to Live Roots' partner sites search page and click the plus sign below the name of the site you want to search. Remember, you won’t get to see full details for matches in subscription sites if you’re not a subscriber. (Visit a Family History Center for free access to many subscription databases.)

The online catalog for the BYU Family History Archive collection is Live Roots' next big addition.


Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, May 11, 2009 11:02:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Helpful Links for NGS Conference in Raleigh
Posted by Diane

Like some of you, we’re headed this week to the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference in Raleigh. Aside from our booth banner, handouts, door prizes and other supplies, here’s what we’ll be packing for the conference:
If you’re going to NGS, stop by and see us at Booth 319 in the exhibit hall. Admission to just the hall is free, and NGS lists a few other free events on its Web site

To attend classes, you must be registered—see rates and information for registration at the door.

Also, if you want to research North Carolina ancestors while you’re there, the state archives and the genealogical services branch of the state library are about a mile from the Raleigh Convention Center. (Here’s an introduction to research in the Tar Heel state.)

Got a Web site helpful for those attending the NGS conference? Click comments and post the URL.


Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Monday, May 11, 2009 10:06:18 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, May 08, 2009
Genealogy News Corral, May 4-8
Posted by Diane

Here are the news bits that came across our desks this week
  • Subscription genealogy site Ancestry.com launched a collection of German phone directories dating from 1915 to 1981. The books, which are, of course, in German, list names and addresses of more than 35 million people who lived in Germany’s major cities, as well as many businesses. 
  • British subscription and pay-per-view site FindMyPast.com added merchant seaman crew indexes with 270,000 names of seafarers between 1860 and 1913. British ships created these lists every six months, including everyone from captains to able seamen, from engine room staff to stewardesses.
  • The 1916 census of Canada is now available free at Family History Centers through their on-site Ancestry.com service. (Meaning this census isn’t on the FamilySearch pilot site—you must go to a Family History Center to search it.)
  • A late addition: The New England Historic Genealogical Society is adding digitized back issues of the journal The American Genealogist, to its subscription databases at NewEnglandAncestors.org. Vols. 1 through 8 (published as Families of Ancient New Haven) and Volumes 9–13 (dated from 1933 through 1937), are available now in separate databases. Additional volumes will be added. NEHGS memberships start at $75.

Ancestry.com | Canadian roots | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | UK and Irish roots
Friday, May 08, 2009 2:02:07 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
"Today Show" Visit Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty
Posted by Diane

The "Today Show" broadcast today from Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. The Ellis Island video features a “walk-through” of immigrants’ experiences with host Meredith Vieira and Save Ellis Island director Judith R. McAlpin. Here’s the video.


Another clip shows the anchors’ also climbed inside the Statue of Liberty to announce the crown will re-open to the public July 4. Read and watch on the Today Show site.

Also read our article (from the November 2008 Family Tree Magazine) about the immigrant hospital on Ellis Island.


immigration records | Videos
Friday, May 08, 2009 10:00:02 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, May 07, 2009
Technical Issues
Posted by Diane

So. Our blog software had to be upgraded this morning, and the URL format for individual posts is different in the new version.

We discovered too late that the links to all our previous blog posts also have been retroactively changed. Which in one fell swoop rendered incorrect a number of links in our weekly E-mail Update newsletters and in the magazine.

We're going to do as much as possible to make it easy for you to find the posts you want. In the mean time, you can find recent articles on the main page of the blog.

To find past posts, you can use the date or topic categories in the left margin, or run a search using the Search box below the categories (enclose phrases in quotation marks).

If you're looking for some Genealogy Insider post in particular, leave a comment and we'll give you a link.


Family Tree Magazine articles
Thursday, May 07, 2009 4:50:23 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]