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<2009 August>

More Links

# Thursday, 20 August 2009
Full Circle
Posted by Diane

In April, I interviewed Ian Frazier, who penned the story of his northern Ohio ancestors into a book called Family, for the November 2009 Family Tree Magazine (on newsstands Sept. 8). 

A half-hour after our interview, Frazier was the keynote speaker at the Ohio Genealogical Society's golden anniversary banquet. During dinner, he sat next to the loquacious Kenny Burck, president of the Hamilton County (Ohio) Genealogical Society.

Frazier’s account of their conversation about Kenny’s son Bobby, aka New York City's Naked Cowboy, appears in the Aug. 24 New Yorker.

And my husband of almost a year was Bobby Burck’s lab partner in high school.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Thursday, 20 August 2009 08:21:51 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Family Tree Maker 2010 Released
Posted by Diane

Capturing your family’s story in a meaningful way appears to be the focus of updates to Family Tree Maker 2010, released today from

New and improved features to this popular genealogy software will help you build your family tree, record memories, and organize photos, stories, videos and audio clips so you can more easily share your family's story.
More specifically, the updates include
  • better tools to create family books from information and photos in your tree

  • the ability to create and export slide shows from photos in your tree

  • scanner support that lets you add photos to your tree right from your scanner and organize them into categories at the same time

  • the ability to track relatives’ migration paths by mapping locations of events such as births, marriages and deaths with Microsoft Bing Maps

  • an improved relationship calculator that lets you view relationships between any two people in your tree

  • a new timeline report and updates to the family group sheet and genealogy reports

  • standard source templates that make it easier to cite a variety of types of sources

  • extended-family birthday and anniversary calendars
Like previous versions, when you’re connected to the Internet, Family Tree Maker 2010 automatically searches genealogy databases on for records about people in your family tree. You need an subscription to view any matching documents.

See an overview and screenshots of Family Tree Maker 2010 here. You can purchase it online for $39.95 (includes a two-week trial subscription); shipping is free for a limited time. There's no upgrade option. (Clarification here in response to a comment: There's not a lower-price version on the Web site for 2009 users looking to upgrade, but yes, you can upgrade from 2009 to 2010.)

The software also will be available in stores. | Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 11:57:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9]
# Tuesday, 18 August 2009 to Digitize Records and Photos Free at FGS
Posted by Allison

Consider bringing your family's records with you if you’re going to the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference Sept. 2-5 in Little Rock. is bringing high–speed scanners so conference-goers can digitize records and photos.

You can sign up for a 15–minute scanning session Sept. 3 through Sept. 5 during exhibit hall hours (9:30 am to 5 pm Thursday, Sept. 3; 9 am to 5 pm Friday and Saturday). That's enough time to scan an estimated 100 photos and/or documents.

You'll need to stop by the scanning station in the convention center’s Toltec Lobby registration area in the morning to snag a scanning session for that day. imaging specialists will operate the scanners—a looseleaf scanner for documents and photos; a planetary scanner for books and fragile items. You’ll get the full-color digital images on a free flash drive. The cynics among you can rest assured your records won’t be uploaded to

Be judicious about the documents and photos you bring: There’s always the possibility your items could be damaged during scanning. Whatever you do, don’t pack irreplaceable records in checked luggage. asks those who plan to participate in the scanning to go to this Web page and click Register. | Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Events
Tuesday, 18 August 2009 08:37:21 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 17 August 2009
All About FamilySearch
Posted by Allison

A few weeks ago, I was talking with Family Tree Magazine’s art director, Christy, about German genealogy. We both have Deutsch roots, and I was telling her how I’d traced my one family branch in 18th-century Bavaria on a trip to the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City. Christy hadn’t known that it’s fairly easy to get historical records from Germany—and many other places—through the FHL and local centers, which act like FHL branches.

I’ve had a lot of similar encounters, and it always surprises me how many genealogy buffs don’t know the depth and breadth of resources available from FamilySearch, the genealogy arm of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Even Family Tree Magazine readers!) That’s why I decided to make FamilySearch the topic of this month’s Family Tree Magazine webinar:

FamilySearch Essentials: How to Access Records From 100 Countries Without Leaving Town

This hourlong session will be hosted by yours truly Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Central/5 p.m. Mountain/4 p.m. Pacific. In it, I’ll walk through FamilySearch’s offline and online genealogy resources, show you how to find records relevant to your own genealogy search, and demonstrate different tools on the FamilySearch Web site.

Registration costs $49.99, and you can sign up using the link above. If you’re new to webinars and wonder how they work, see our FAQ.

P.S. If it’s German genealogy you want to learn more about, watch for an article about Germany’s historical regions in the December 2009 issue of Family Tree Magazine, coming to subscribers’ mailboxes in late October.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy | Research Tips | Webinars
Monday, 17 August 2009 17:40:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Help Choose the Genealogy Difference Maker of the Year!
Posted by Diane

From the unofficial town historian who helps out at the library three days a week to the legions of people doing FamilySearch Indexing, your average genealogist wouldn’t get very far without relying on the work of volunteers.

If you’ve used USGenWeb, RootsWeb, a local genealogical society, the databases on FamilySearch records search pilot, the Ellis Island passenger database, Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, cemetery inscriptions on Find-A-Grave, or innumerable other resources and organizations, you’ve been helped by a stranger who just wanted other people to be able to find their ancestors.

We started our Difference Maker series to highlight the efforts of all these unknown people. Family Tree Magazine readers nominated volunteers throughout the year. We selected a nominee to profile in each 2009 issue—they are
  • Ellen Thompson, for collecting history of local schools
  • Robin Dickson, for volunteering and indexing records at her library
  • John Jackson, for creating a virtual cemetery for Civil War soldiers
  • Gail Reynolds, for being a library volunteer and genealogy teacher
  • Susan Steele, for preserving historical records
  • Bennie W. White, for compiling records and posting resources free online
Now it’s up to you to help choose a Difference Maker of the Year. That person will win a year of Family Tree Magazine and $100 toward his or her genealogy cause.

Click here to learn more about the work of these six volunteers, then hit the voting link on that page to cast your vote.

Voting closes Sept. 16 at midnight EDT. One vote is permitted per computer.

Congratulations to these six people, and thanks to all the genealogy volunteers out there who make it easier for us to research our roots.

Family Tree Magazine articles
Monday, 17 August 2009 13:03:50 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 14 August 2009
Jamie's flea market finds
Posted by Jamie


Recently I was on vacation in western New York and visited a small-town flea market. While there were only 15 to 20 booths set up, many of them had genealogical treasures abound including old letters, photos and World War II ration books scattered across tables among the costume jewelry and used board games.

Of course my first thoughts as I saw these items outdoors and uncovered were, “Get these things out of the sun and into acid-free tissue paper!” These are someone’s family heirlooms after all. I scoured piles of unmarked pictures, scrutinizing each one and lamenting that they did not have a home. All the while I am sure the sun took a disastrous toll on them.

If you come across a similar situation, Dead Fred allows users to upload found photos, search identified photo databases, and help identify and find mates for unidentified photos. Flickr’s Found Photographs group features mostly unidentified photos picked up at garage sales, flea markets or your grandmother’s attic.

Also at the flea market I found a bag full of WWII ration cards, and I was amazed at the genealogical information available on them. Some just had name and address, but others went further supplying age, sex, weight, height and occupation. The books for sale were from the third and fourth series, both issued in 1943. The names on two of the books at the flea market were Kenneth and Hazel E. Valk. To search for your ancestors in a war ration book database of over 9,000 names click here.

While these were all great finds, the letters were most intriguing. Some sellers at least put them in plastic baggies, but still others let them bake in the sun – folded up at that! There were unopened letters, letters in envelops, envelops without letters, greeting cards, postcards, wedding invitations, governmental correspondence – even a few marked “passed by censor” sent from an infantry unit postmarked “JY. 15, 18”

Most of the letters were sent to Leroy Elder, but many are either unsigned or are signed with a nickname. They are postmarked from 1909 to 1922. One of the funnier postcards was from a pastor sternly urging Edler to pay him a visit to discuss the state of Elder's Christianity.

Among the stack of letters was a folded poem of sorts titled “The Charming Young Widow In The Train.” The paper is yellowed and ripping along the folds; the ink is disappearing. It wasn’t dated and it was not in an envelope. The top has some sort of imprint or watermark and the end says, “Written B. Mollie E.V.”

I did a Google search of the title and an old song pops up, written in the mid-1800s according to most accounts. The poem roughly follows the song, although some lines and words are different, the main ideas are the same. How the lyrics got among the letters is a mystery.

Overall, the trip to the flea market was eye opening. I didn’t realize how readily family history was for sale. And if sellers don’t use the modern flea market of eBay many people won’t be reunited with their relative’s items.

Family Heirlooms | Photos
Friday, 14 August 2009 13:57:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
World Vital Records Extends Free Access
Posted by Diane

Looks like subscription genealogy site World Vital Records has extended its free access another five days, until midnight on August 18, so go get a free registration and have yourself a search. Now you get the weekend!

For more information on World Vital Records' content partners—what records the site has from each partner, compared to what's on the partner site itself—see our free online article.

FamilyLink | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 14 August 2009 12:56:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Genealogy News Corral: August 10-14
Posted by Diane

A summary of news bits we heard about this week:
  • Summit Memory, an online scrapbook from the Akron-Summit County Public Library in Ohio, now has several digitized historical atlases and maps from the 1800s and early 1900s. Access them in the site’s online map room. Check out the photos and other resources while you're there.

  • British subscription and pay-per-view site has completed a new transcription and added higher-quality images for its 1901 census for England and Wales. Images for the 1881 census are next on the site's to-do list.

  • A New York Times article on the transfer of early- to mid-century Alien Case Files to the National Archives quoted Schelly Tallalay Dardahsti, Tracing the Tribe blogger and author of our September 2009 Jewish research guide, about the importance of using original documents. Read the article here.

  • Subscription family tree site is publishing its free newsletter as a weekly genealogy blog you can subscribe to vis RSS. It’ll include research tips, helpful Web sites and suggestions for using

  • The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has launched a blog called NARAtions, which focuses on the future of online public access to records at NARA.

Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 14 August 2009 11:40:00 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 13 August 2009
Free Genealogy Software Adds Maps, Albums and More
Posted by Diane

Family and genealogy Web site released an updated version of its free, downloadable of Family Tree Builder software that lets users create maps, chat with relatives and organize multimedia albums.

According to MyHeritage, Family Builder is the world’s most popular free family tree software, with more than 5 million downloads. It's available in 35 languages, which certainly makes it attractive to a worldwide audience.

Key features in the new release include:
  • a map module that lets you display where your family lived over the years, map relatives’ addresses and quickly find your photos associated with a particular place

  • a new toolbar that provides direct access to family Web sites on MyHeritage; birthday reminders; and a text, audio and video chat system called Family Chat

  • an improved album lets you organize photos, videos and documents, and adds slide shows
Family Builder runs on Windows. If you've used it, click Comments and let us know what you think.

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 13 August 2009 09:17:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 12 August 2009
UGOs (Unidentified Genealogical Objects)
Posted by Diane

Yesterday evening, our company had a trade show, wherein each community (genealogy, writing, woodworking, crafts, etc.) displayed its latest how-to publications and resources.

The Family Tree Magazine staff enjoyed showing off our CDs, webinars and forthcoming Family Tree Legacies book, and sharing genealogy tips with coworkers. I think one guy is searching the free 1911 Irish census as I type this.

The best part was our guessing game. For a chance to win a prize, our colleagues guessed the identity of this object, commonly used in the course of genealogy research:

Here were some of their guesses (obviously, we’re dealing with some wise guys here):
  • “toddler’s crayon”
  • “fossilized chocolate cake”
  • “worry stone” (over those unsolved brick walls, we presume)
  • “paper weight”
  • “scrubber to get your pen started” (huh?)
  • “thumbprinter thingie”
  • “It’s used to help you separate papers. You rub your fingers on it so you can easily rifle through your records”
  • "a secret listening device"
  • “a template for drawing circles for names on your family tree”
  • “a starter for the center of your family tree”
What’s your guess?

The correct answer is tombstone rubbing wax, used for making impressions of tombstones. The astute Holly Davis, an editor over at The Artist’s Magazine, is the winner of a scrapbook album kit!

For step-by-step instructions on making tombstone rubbings (including ensuring the stone is sound), see this article.

And to avoid arrest while making said tombstone rubbing, read our Now What? blog post.

Cemeteries | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 14:05:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]