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# Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Neurologist Uses Genealogy to Track Rare Disease
Posted by Diane

I came across an interesting article today about a neurologist who used genealogy research to trace a rare inherited disease that affects just five families around the world.

Pallido-Ponto-Nigral-Degeneration (PPND) strikes in middle age, causing symptoms similar to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Victims usually are dead within eight years.

Examining WWII-era records in a hospital basement, Dr. Zbigniew K. Wszolek discovered that two US families with the condition were linked through adoption. The common ancestor: Sarah Bott, born in 1854 in Iowa.

Her parents and grandparents lived to a ripe old age, as did her husband and his children from a second marriage. But four of Bott's five children were crippled and died in middle age (Bott herself died at age 30 in surgery). Wszolek concluded the disease-causing mutation occurred spontaneously in Bott.

Wszolek tracks the family on an 11-foot family tree. Of Bott’s 315 living descendants (spread out over 11 states), 48 now have PPND.

See more on Wszolek’s research in this article.

Another article focuses on the family members in Montana and how they’re coping.

Look for information on researching your family's medical history in an upcoming issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Here are some family health history online resources you can explore right now.


Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, June 02, 2009 5:13:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, June 01, 2009
Finding Ancestors' Border-Crossing Records
Posted by Diane

Entry laws tightened today for those crossing the US/Canadian or the US/Mexican border on land—now you must have a passport or an acceptable equivalent to get across.

It’s a bit more of a hassle, but at least future genealogists will have records. Plenty of our ancestors immigrated, then up and moved across the border. Some went back and forth several times.

Border-crossing records start later than ship passenger lists. Here's a rundown of what's available:

Canada to the United States
Until 1895, border crossings from Canada to the United States weren’t recorded at all. Thereafter, most border crossings are on microfilm known as the St. Albans lists (after the Vermont town where the US Immigration and Naturalization Services had its main office), with geographic coverage varying by year:
  • 1895-June 1917: All border crossings
  • June 1917-July 1927: Crossings east of the North Dakota/Montana state line
  • After July 1927: Crossings east of Lake Ontario
Other 1895-and-later crossings also are microfilmed. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Web site has a handy list of the film. They’re digitized in the subscription site Ancestry.com’s immigration collection, too.

United States to Canada
Ancestors crossing to Canada weren’t recorded until April 1908. Even then, those considered returning Canadians, or who crossed where ports didn’t exist or were closed, weren’t listed. Library and Archives Canada has records; see the Canadian Genealogy Centre for information.

They're also on Ancestry.ca.

Mexico to the United States
Microfilmed records for ancestors who entered the United States from Mexico—which includes many Asians, Syrians and South Americans, as well as US citizens returning home—start as early as 1903 at some ports. Records begin later for other ports. NARA has an online guide and list of film. These records also are on Ancestry.com.


immigration records
Monday, June 01, 2009 3:20:34 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, May 29, 2009
Genealogy News Corral May 25-29
Posted by Diane

News from the genealogy world wasn't overly earth-shattering this week, but we do have some updates that might interest you:
One addition, the Protestation Returns, which record religious loyalty oaths from males in England from 1641 to 1642, is free for 10 days (from May 28).
  • Ancestry.com passed 8 billion records in its databases (a record in this case is a name, not a document). The vital records collection is biggest, with 1,100 million records and 38.9 million document images; followed by censuses at 900 million records and 27.7 million images.
On deck at Ancestry.com: Improving the census collection (1790 through 1900 censuses should be updated by year’s end), newspapers from 50 new cities and early city directories.
Click here to volunteer to index some records.

Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, May 29, 2009 1:35:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, May 27, 2009
New Navigation Makes Ancestry.com Easier to Use
Posted by Diane

Genealogy subscription site Ancestry.com changed its main navigation in an effort to make the site quicker and easier to get around.

The changes don't look huge, but you'll probably really appreciate them if you use the site much at all. Here’s the new nav bar (shrunk to fit).



My favorite change: Just yesterday, I was wishing for a faster way to get to the US census databases. Today, instead of clicking the Search tab on the home page and then waiting for the page to load so I can click more until I get to the database I want, I just hover over the Search tab for a drop-down menu of most-used databases—including the census (now they just need to list all the US censuses on the left side of the census search page, and we’ll be good to go).

The Family trees drop-down menu gives you quick links to your own trees, to start a new tree and to upload a GEDCOM. Under Collaborate (the former Community area), you’ll find links to the World Archives project, message board, member directory and your public profile. Learning Center options include getting started steps, the Ancestry.com blog and FAQs.

The DNA, Publish and Shop buttons don’t have drop-down menus. Click these to go to, respectively, Ancestry DNA, MyCanvas and the Ancestry.com store.

Buttons for your to-do list and quick links are in the top right corner of every page.

According to the Ancestry.com blog, it may take a few days yet to add the new navigation to every page on the site.

Ancestry.com
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 9:26:06 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Donna Reed: A Pinup and a Penpal
Posted by Grace

A Memorial Day tale to warm even the coldest hearts: The actress Donna Reed corresponded personally with World War II GIs, keeping hundreds of the letters, which her children just made public.

Soldiers wrote lots of letters to pinup girls during WWII, but few of these ladies had the down-home appeal of Reed, who went on to star in "It's a Wonderful Life," and surely none were as prolific. From the article:

At 84, Edward Skvarna is retired and living in Covina, Calif. But in 1943, he was fresh out of high school in a mill town near Pittsburgh, newly enlisted in the Army Air Forces and training in Kansas to be a right gunner on a B-29 when he met Ms. Reed at a U.S.O. canteen and asked her to dance.

“I had never danced with a celebrity before, so I felt delighted, privileged even, to meet her,” Mr. Skvarna recalled in a telephone interview this month. “But I really felt she was like a girl from back home. She was from a smaller community, and we were more or less the same age, so I felt she was the kind of person I could talk to.”

Sent to Asia, Mr. Skvarna kept up a sporadic correspondence with her as he flew reconnaissance missions. On May 7, 1945, based in the Marianas, he wrote of receiving a letter of hers that made him “jump with joy” and of a visit he made to a rajah’s palace in India; he also sent photographs of himself and asked for a snapshot of her in return.

“It’s amazing to me that she kept so many of those letters,” Mr. Skvarna said. “It tells you something about the caliber of person she was.”
Click here to read the whole story and see a slideshow of images of her letters.


Historic preservation | Military records | Social History
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 5:32:51 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
GeneTree Offers Deal for Y-DNA Donors to SMGF Database
Posted by Diane

If you’re one of the tens of thousands of men who donated DNA samples and pedigree information to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF), your genealogical largesse is being rewarded.

Genetic-genealogy and social networking site GeneTree is extending a special offer to SMGF Y-DNA donors.

Those men didn’t receive test results when they donated their Y-DNA to SMGF’s project, which began in 2000, to build a database linking genetic and genealogical information. The free SMGF database now holds details on 7 million ancestors and represents more than 170 countries.

But now, those Y-DNA donors can access their Y-DNA test results for $49.50 through GeneTree (about a third of GeneTree's regular cost for a test). To take advantage of this offer, follow the instructions on GeneTree

(Donors of mitochondrial DNA, which mothers pass on to their offspring, received a similar offer last year to access their mtDNA results.)


Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 3:42:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, May 22, 2009
Genealogy News Corral May 18-22
Posted by Diane

Here are some quick genealogy news updates for the week. We hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and get an opportunity to reflect on your ancestors’ sacrifice for their country.
  • British subscription and pay-per-view site Familyrelatives.com added more than 200,000 Canadian civil service records from 1872 to 1918. The records reveal the civil servant's name, position, department, length of service, salary and date of appointment. The earliest ones also provide civil servants' national origins and religion.
  • FamilySearch has added a total of 3.5 million-plus new records to 13 collections on the free FamilySearch Record Search pilot. The additions come from Brazil, the Czech Republic and Italy; and the US states of Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina.
  • The State Library of North Carolina and the North Carolina State Archives have posted a free collection of North Carolina family records including nearly 220 family Bible records and the six-volume Marriage and Death Notices from Raleigh Register and North Carolina State Gazette: 1799-1893.

Canadian roots | Free Databases | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Friday, May 22, 2009 4:38:34 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, May 21, 2009
Money-Saving Deals on IAJGS and FGS Genealogy Conferences
Posted by Diane

Two upcoming genealogy conferences are offering ways to save on registration fees, plus some opportunities for extra edification and fun:
Among the IAJGS' special workshops are a document- and photo-preservation session ($10) and the delicious-sounding Tasting World Jewish Cuisines: Turkish, Syrian, and Ashkenazi-Italkeni Recipes, with cookbook authors Sheilah Kaufman and Aliza Green ($20). Click here to register.
Bonus for early arrivals in Little Rock: A free Ice Cream Social Tuesday, Sept. 1, 3-5 pm for registered conference-goers.
The Federation of Genealogical Societies is an umbrella organization for genealogical societies. Its conference, planned in conjunction with the Arkansas Genealogical Society, features classes, an exhibit hall, genealogy field trips and banquets.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Jewish roots
Thursday, May 21, 2009 5:33:42 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Find Revolutionary War Officers Free at GenealogyBank
Posted by Diane

GenealogyBank.com, the subscription site best known for its collection of digitized historical newspapers, has added thousands of US military records to its historical documents collection and made a portion of them free for a limited time.

The records include US military registers, which provide the name, birth date, location, rank and date of death of officers who served in the US Army, Navy or Air Force from the American Revolution to Korea.

In honor of Memorial Day, you can access the list of Revolutionary War officers for free (you'll need to register first).

It looks like search results mix the military registers with other historical documents. (So far, I've gotten error messages when trying to view images of the registers. I wonder if the site is overwhelmed.)

According to GenealogyBank's anouncement, it looks like we can expect millions more records added to the site this year.


Genealogy Web Sites | Military records
Thursday, May 21, 2009 3:31:24 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Blog Reports From the NGS Conference
Posted by Diane

In case you missed one of our posts from last week's National Genealogical Society conference in Raleigh, NC, here's a list. I've added reports from other bloggers, too:
Several folks were Tweeting, too. Read many of the 140-or-fewer-characters-at-a-time updates here.


Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, May 20, 2009 3:52:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]