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# Friday, June 05, 2009
Sale on Genealogy CDs, Downloads and Books
Posted by Diane

I’m letting it slip about the sale on genealogy how-to CDs (including the much-coveted State Research Guides CD), digital downloads and books in our MyCraftivity online store.

But you'll need the secret code!

When you’re ready to check out, enter FTSUMMER15 in the Special Offers box, and we'll take 15 percent off your entire order. That’s on top of the sale prices already in effect for most items—so, for example, the aforementioned State Research Guides CD becomes $32.30 (regular price is $49.99).

The code expires June 12, so start shopping.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Research Tips
Friday, June 05, 2009 2:54:16 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Genealogy News Corral, June 1-5
Posted by Diane

Got several genealogy news items to cover this week, so without further ado:
Get more details on the site in this Genealogy Insider blog post.
  • Millions of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services' alien case files (also called A-files) dating from 1944 and later were signed over to the National Archives (records will be relocated to the National Archives’ San Francisco and Kansas City facilities later this year).
Henceforth, USCIS can forward files 100 years after the birth date of the person whose file it is. The USCIS press office tells me you’ll still be able to order the 1944-to-1951 A-files through the USCIS Genealogy Program (through which you also can order naturalizations and alien registrations).
  • Subscription site Ancestry.com is letting you preview upcoming changes to the family tree pages—to see them, click Family Trees on Ancestry.com's home page, then click the light blue bar at the top that says “Check out the new look.” (You must have a tree on Ancestry.com to see the preview.)
The new look will make pages load faster, be easier to navigate and display more information, says Kenny Freestone on the Ancestry.com blog. Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings describes the changes in detail.

Ancestry.com | Genealogy Web Sites | immigration records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, June 05, 2009 1:46:42 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, June 04, 2009
Newest General Land Office Records: Master Title Plats
Posted by Diane

Land-records researchers might be interested to know that most of the Master Title Plats for Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota will be available free on the Bureau of Land Management-Eastern States General Land Office Records Web site starting Monday.

These plats are maps relating to federal government land ownership. They show authorization for various uses (such as mining or oil drilling rights), agency jurisdiction, and rights reserved to the federal government on private land in a township. Accompanying historical indexes list related actions (such as new or canceled use authorizations).

So how would you use them for genealogy?

GLO systems manager John Butterfield suggests that if you have the legal land description and other information from your ancestor’s land patent, you can use a Master Title Plat for that township to see where the property was located.

See an example of how to search for and use GLO patents on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.


Free Databases | Land records
Thursday, June 04, 2009 4:54:39 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Learn How to Care for Your Family's Treasures
Posted by Diane



In our little house, we have a few objects—nothing super-valuable—that I consider heirlooms: A dress my grandma sewed using the same pattern as her wedding dress; my husband’s grandfather’s harmonica; a playing card box from the time my dad’s family lived in Pickstown, SD, while his dad was working on the Fort Randall dam.

It’s not so much the thing, it’s what the thing represents to you. So heirlooms can take all kinds of shapes and sizes, and present an array of storage challenges—which makes me glad our next Webinar is about Heirloom Preservation Made Easy.

It's scheduled for Wednesday, June 24 at 7 p.m. My colleague Grace Dobush will present expert, sensible, easy-to-follow techniques on caring for and displaying everything from photos to old dolls and toys. Your registration for this Webinar includes
  • Participation in the live presentation and Q&A session
  • Online access to the workshop recording after the session concludes
  • PDF of the presentation slides for future reference
  • Quick-reference heirloom care chart
  • PDF of See and Save, a guide to protecting and storing paper, photos and textiles
  • PDF of Keep It Reel, a guide to preserving audio and video memories
Go here to learn more and register—and get an early bird coupon code good for $10 off your registration fee through June 8.

Family Heirlooms | Webinars
Wednesday, June 03, 2009 2:15:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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]