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<2009 August>

More Links

# Monday, 10 August 2009
Google Quadruples Historical Newspaper Archive
Posted by Diane

Google announced last week that it has quadrupled its searchable archive of historical news articles, many of which are free to access.

Additions include the Halifax Gazette (dating as far back as 1753, as shown below), Sydney Morning Herald, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Village Voice, the Manila Standard, The Nation (from Thailand) and others.

When you search, you can specify keywords  or phrases (such as an ancestor's name or an event) to include or exclude, provide a date range, and opt to get articles written a particular language or from a certain newspaper.

You also can choose whether to see only articles that are free to access. (For matching articles in subscription-based sites, you'll usually get to see the first few sentences.)

If you do a timeline search, you’ll get a timeline at the top of your results showing the numbers of matching articles by year. Adjust the timeline to see articles from a different time span.

Google doesn't offer the option to download or save articles, but you can generate a link to share the article with friends.

Read more on the Google News Blog and Techcrunch.

Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers
Monday, 10 August 2009 10:54:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Friday, 07 August 2009
Genealogy News Corral: August 3-7
Posted by Diane

Got a few updates for this week’s news roundup:
Read a report on the event and watch a video on the Lansing State Journal Web site.
  • The Family History Expo in Sandy, Utah, is right around the corner, Aug. 28 and 29. Hone your genealogy skills in classes on everything from Google to formulating a research strategy, and browse dozens of exhibitors (say hi to Family Tree Magazine editor Allison Stacy in booth 202!). Get more details and register at

Genealogy Events | Jewish roots | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 07 August 2009 12:43:17 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 06 August 2009
Merger Creates Britain’s Leading Genealogy Company
Posted by Diane

UK-based Brightsolid, owner of British subscription and pay-per-view genealogy site, is acquiring the Friends Reunited Group for 25 million pounds (about $42 million).

The completion of the deal is still subject to clearance by British competition authorities. Besides and its microsites and, Brightsolid also operates

Friends Reunited is a 20.6 million-member British social network launched in 2000. Its sister site Genes Reunited, the UK’s largest genealogy site with 9 million members and 650 million names in records, was launched in 2003. The group also has a Friends Reunited Dating site.

See Brightsolid's announcement about the acquisition here.

Genealogy Industry | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, 06 August 2009 08:53:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 04 August 2009 Plans to Go Public
Posted by Diane filed with the SEC yesterday for a $75 million IPO, indicating its decision to go from a firm funded by private equity investors to a publicly traded company.

Its ticker symbol will be ACOM.

“Our revenues have increased from $122.6 million in 2004 to $197.6 million in 2008,” reads's SEC filing. The Provo, Utah,-based company  reports just under 1 million subscribers, about 45 percent of whom have been subscribing continuously for more than two years as of June 30.

The filing gives more stats, an overview of the business, its growth strategies (more content, more features that let members collaborate, more international growth) and associated risks (dependence on subscriptions, a tight focus on family history, and competitors, “some of which provide access to records free of charge”). You can read it here.

This article nicely sums up information from the filing. | Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, 04 August 2009 14:20:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 03 August 2009
1930 Census Is Free on Footnote In August!
Posted by Diane

Historical records subscription site Footnote is making its 1930 census records free during August (you’ll need to sign up for a free Footnote registration).

If you’re a newbie genealogist, this is a great opportunity to jump in with the most recent federal census open to the public (1940 census records will be available in 2012).

If you’ve been doing genealogy for awhile, use this chance to try Footnote’s search and record viewer. Footnote uses a keyword search that filters your results with each term you add.

I like the "Refine Your Search" panel on the results page, which lets you select from available terms. For example, if you’ve entered the last name Wagner, age 43, in Cincinnati, you’ll be able to choose from first names of people who fit those criteria.

When you view the record in Footnote, you can see notes other users have added to the record (you can toggle this option on and off).

You can learn more about using Footnote from our eight-page Web guide—it just happens to be on sale for $3 at

The guide has an overview of Footnote, a navigation guide, step-by-step search demos, quick links, and hacks and shortcuts. It’s a PDF, so you can download it on the spot, open it with the free Adobe Reader on a PC or a Mac, click through to the recommended links, and print it if you so choose.

PS: Footnote also has extended its $59.95 subscription offer for another week, until Aug. 10.

census records | Footnote | Free Databases
Monday, 03 August 2009 11:44:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3] Expands Jewish Records Collection
Posted by Diane

Subscription Web site is adding to its Jewish records collection thanks to new partnerships with two Jewish heritage organizations.’s partnership arrangements keep most of its Jewish Family History Collection free. You can see a list of gratis databases using the Free Collections link on the Jewish records landing page.

Additions from the American Jewish Historical Society include:
  • Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records (1878 to 1934): admission applications and discharge ledgers

  • Selected Naturalization Records, New York City (1816 to 1845): declarations of intention for New York County

  • New York Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records (1860 to 1934): admission applications and discharge ledgers

  • Industrial Removal Office Records (1899 to 1922): records of Jews who were assisted in relocating from various countries for safety

  • Selected Insolvent Debtor’s Cases (1787 to 1861): about 2,000 cases

  • Selected Mayor’s Court Cases, New York (1674 to 1860): 6,000 briefs that include summons, complaints, affidavits and jury lists
The Eastern European Archival Database comes from professional genealogist Miriam Weiner’s Routes to Roots Foundation (RTR), a firm specializing in Jewish research in Eastern Europe. Learn more about this database, which has references to records from Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine, on RTR’s Web site (which also has the same searchable database).

Other additions come from JewishGen, a partner that helped launch’s Jewish collection last year. Those include an 1848 Jewish census from Hungary and the HaMagid Hebrew newspaper’s list of donors to Persian Famine victims in 1871 and 1872. | Jewish roots
Monday, 03 August 2009 09:39:49 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 31 July 2009
Crimes of Your Great-Grandfathers
Posted by Diane

A couple of months ago, when I was editing an article criminal ancestors for the forthcoming November 2009 Family Tree Magazine, I asked Family Tree Magazine E-mail Update newsletter readers about murders and other crimes in their family history.

Dozens of you responded with stories—some are fascinating (in a can't-look-away kind of way), some are amusing (in a gallows-humor kind of way) and some are sad. Here's a sampling of them:
  • Carol Clemens' family legend was that her great-grandfather Martin Franchetti was accidentally shot and killed by a stray bullet from a saloon brawl in 1902.
After finding references to seven newspaper articles within a couple of months, she discovered her ancestor was shot during an argument with a former boarder who’d developed a crush on Franchetti’s wife. Clemens says help from the Schenectady County Clerk’s office was invaluable in locating the perpetrator's criminal trial records.
  • Cheri Adams couldn’t find anything about her the family of her great-great-grandmother’s second husband. A Google search brought up a New York Times article stating that the husband, Elijah Godfrey, was killed while handling dynamite in his cabin. Another article revealed that the medical examiner thought it was murder. “It seems Elijah had been speaking with authorities regarding stills in the area," writes Adams, "and undoubtedly due to his loose lips, the owners of the stills took revenge.”
  • Tom Neel of the Ohio Genealogical Society found an account in a 1915 county history about John Gately, his fourth-great-grandfather from North Carolina. “Sometime after the year 1793,” Gately’s father-in-law, thinking the younger man had stolen his money, killed him.
Neel found corroboration in court records while at this year’s National Genealogical Society conference in Raleigh, NC. Turns out the aging father-in-law had misplaced his stash.
  • Domenic Parenty, great-grandfather to Janice Gianotti-Zakis, was "gunned down in the street, defending a woman" in Chicago in 1894. In 2002, she confirmed the story in police records from microfiche at Northeastern Illinois University. Now, her ancestor’s case is chronicled on the site Homicide in Chicago: 1870-1930.
  • Kathleen Anders wasn’t interested in genealogy when she found a tombstone in a Nebraska cemetery with the names of two young people who died on the same day. On a return trip, the caretaker furnished a file of newspaper clippings: Anders' great-grandfather had taken the lives of his brother and sister-in-law in 1903. Over the next two years, she found the trial transcript and interviewed people who remembered her family.
With the mystery solved, she’s turned to ancestors whose less sensational lives still deserve to be known. “I now focus on the other lines of the family that have, in their own right, great stories to be researched and written about.”
  • Carol Heap’s grandfather Frederick Hirsch, a Nassau County, NY, police officer, was killed in the line of duty May 6, 1931, by a 19-year-old nicknamed "Two Gun Crowley." Crowley was convicted and sent to Sing Sing prison in New York, where he was executed in the electric chair in 1932. Hirsch's wife raised four young children alone; Heap remembers her father saying he really missed having a Dad.
  • Connie Parott received a copy of a relative's 1970s school essay detailing her third-great grandfather's efforts to track down the murderer of his brother Thomas at a Sylamore, Ark., Christmas Eve dance in 1877.

    She found several news articles, “but to my amazement,” she writes, “the stories favored excessive details about the murderer, but nothing about the victim. The murderer had accidentally shot himself in the leg while hiding in the woods. His leg was amputated, so the newspapers had a field day describing a one-legged man hanging from the gallows.”
Forum members also posted stories and tips for researching ancestral crimes here. You'll also find advice in the previously mentioned November 2009 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands Sept. 8.

court records | Family Tree Magazine articles | Newspapers | Social History
Friday, 31 July 2009 15:47:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy News Corral: July 27-31
Posted by Diane

These are some of the news bits that wandered across our desks this week:
  • First, a reminder that if you plan to subscribe to Footnote or renew your subscription, stop procrastinating. The $59.95 annual subscription sale ends at midnight tonight (July 31). Also tomorrow, the membership rate goes from $69.95 to $79.95 per year.
  • Another reminder for those who’ve been meaning to search the Caribbean slave records on—the free period ends tonight. More on this collection here.
  • Speaking of, the new Member Connect features—which let you comment on and correct records, as well as get in touch with other members—went live this week. Click here for more on Member Connect.
  • The FGS 09 conference is just a month away, Sept. 2-5 in Little Rock, Ark. Get news updates and registration information from the conference blog, and when you’re there, stop by to see us at the Family Tree Magazine booth (#407).
  • This from Dick Eastman’s blog: The British national archives and UK-based family history site are giving seven repositories in England and Wales free online access to the recently completed 1911 census records. See Dick's post for the list of archives.

African-American roots | | Footnote | Genealogy Events | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 31 July 2009 14:19:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Burr Oak Cemetery Tombstone Images Posted Online
Posted by Diane

The Cook County (Ill.) sherrif’s office has set up a public database to help families affected by the shocking crimes at Burr Oak Cemetery.

In July, authorities announced that about 300 graves in the historically African-American cemetery near Chicago had been dug up, the bodies dumped, and the plots resold. Four cemetery workers are accused of the crime.

Those looking for relatives’ grave sites at the cemetery can search an online database of tombstone images. So far, it has 9,500 names from the roughly 100,000 grave sites.

Searchers can type in a name or browse by year. There’s also a link to view photos of markers with unknown burial years.

Read more about this tragedy in the articles linked here.'s African-American genealogy writer, Michael Hait, takes a close look at the database here.

African-American roots | Cemeteries | Free Databases
Friday, 31 July 2009 14:04:29 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Did Your Immigrant Ancestors Sail the Red Star Line?
Posted by Diane

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation folks sent us a note on behalf of a future museum in Antwerp, Belgium, about the history of the Red Star Line.

The Red Star Line was a steamship company that transported thousands of European immigrants across the Atlantic between 1873 and 1935. Museum organizers are looking for individual stories and original photos that'll bring personal history to the museum.

If you know or are a descendant from a person who sailed the Red Star Line from Antwerp to settle in the United States, please e-mail museum staff

The museum is slated to open in 2012, but the Web site is already up and running.

Read more about the Red Star Line, get a list of ships and see photos on You can view postcards of ships and 1908 menu cards here.

The Belgian Roots Project explains how Red Star Line was a trade name, not a corporation. Scroll down the linked page for a fleet list, then click a ship name for a list of voyages and links to free passenger lists, when available.

immigration records | International Genealogy | Museums
Friday, 31 July 2009 08:53:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]