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# Monday, August 24, 2009
New Subscription Site: Genealogy Archives
Posted by Diane

A few weeks ago in our E-mail Update newsletter, I mentioned a subscription Web site called Genealogy Archives.

I was skeptical because most of its collections seemed to be free elsewhere online, you couldn’t get even basic search results without a subscription, and there was no information about the site’s owners.

Genealogy Archives spokesperson Julie Hill took notice and contacted me. I had a chance to talk with her and senior product manager Joe Godfrey, and to try out the site.

Turns out GenealogyArchives, which launched this summer, is affiliated with PeopleSearchPro (not the same as PeopleSearch).

Though the subscription genealogy space is crowded, Godfrey believes his approach is unique: Offer family historians a low-priced option with basic content that’s useful to most people, plus links to add-on, fee-based services (such as the option to order a record through VitalChek).

There's also a forum and Expert Advice section with how-to articles, and you can add your family tree or upload a GEDCOM.

Though it's still relatively small, Genealogy Archives added 200 million new records last week, including the 1860 and 1930 census indexes from Footnote, newspaper obituaries (you get a link to the obituary online and/or a transcription of it), and vital records from California and Colorado. It also looks like there’s more customer support information, including FAQs.

Hill points to the site’s living-people sources as unique content not available with other genealogy sites.



On the home page, the Trace Your Family Tree As Far Back As Possible section is a living-people search. You type in your name and age, and if the site finds the right listing for you, you get a tantalizing “We found your family tree” message and a prompt to join the site for $39.95 annually. (The records found may or may not be relatives.)

The Search for an Ancestor section lets you search the site’s historical records and indexes. It’s not as sophisticated a search as you find on competing sites—a first and last name are required; you also can pick a state and add the birth and death year and record type. (The site searches as though you entered an initial for the first name.)

Results give you the number of matches found, but nothing about them, before you’re prompted to subscribe—so it's hard to decide whether or not to bust out the credit card.

Genealogy Archives subscribers can search within a database, which usually adds a few more search fields. Some of the categories are census records, immigration and passenger lists (from NARA’s free Access to Archival Databases listings), newspapers, “Find Famous Relatives” (finds notable folks with your last name—not necessarily relatives) and cemetery listings (actually, obituaries and the Social Security Death Index, or SSDI). 

I liked how SSDI results link you to a list of cemeteries near each person's place of death, which in turn link to the cemetery’s results in Find-A-Grave or from a Google search, and any USGenWeb entries for the cemetery (no guarantee, of course, that you’ll find information from your ancestor’s head stone).

Godfrey says plans call for beefing up the site with higher-quality family tree software. He hopes a redesign will make the site more engaging and make it easier for you to tell what records it has.

To me, that seems crucial for getting subscribers.

Godfrey adds that he’s having “a lot of conversations with a lot of other folks” (i.e., potential partners) about more content. Also, the Genealogy Archives blog promises “members will be blown away by the dramatic upgrades coming soon.”

You can sign up for a free seven-day trial of Genealogy Archives, though you do need to enter your credit card number.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, August 24, 2009 11:20:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, August 21, 2009
Genealogy News Corral: August 17-21
Posted by Diane

We rounded up these items for this week's news corral:
  • FamilySearch and Svensk Arkivinformation (part of the National Archives of Sweden) are starting a huge project to create a free online index to 418 million names in Swedish parish registers of births, christenings, marriages and burials. Volunteers will index registers from the start of recordkeeping (between 1608 and 1686, depending on the parish) through 1860.
  • Heritage Travel, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is launching a free online travel community called Gozaic with several “circles” for those interested in history-related travel. Those include Civil War Buffs, Abraham Lincoln, Family Heritage Travel, Journeys into Hidden America and others. Visit the pre-launch site to learn more.
  • On a celebrity baby blog this week, actor/producer Lisa Kudrow describes her next project as “a genealogy series in which we take stars to their ancestral landmarks ... different countries and places where they see documents and they see homes or buildings or things that have to do with their family.” (Scroll to the bottom of the post to see the full statement.)
Maybe the postponed US version of “Who Do You Think You Are?will see the light of our TV screens. (Last we heard, it didn’t make NBC’s fall lineup, but might show up as a mid-season replacement.)


Celebrity Roots | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | International Genealogy
Friday, August 21, 2009 12:13:47 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
Headed to the Family History Expo Next Week!
Posted by Diane

The Salt Lake City Family History Expo, which Family Tree Magazine is sponsoring, is next week—August 28 and 29, to be exact—in Sandy, Utah, just south of the genealogical capital of the United States.

Editor Allison Stacy will be in the exhibit hall in booth 202, handing out magazines and other freebies and displaying the latest CDs and other products from Family Tree Magazine.

You can check out the list of exhibitors, classes and many opportunities to win prizes on the Family History Expos Web site

The exhibit hall is open to the public. A conference registration, which gets you into classes and other activities, costs $68 until Aug. 24; at the door, it's $78 for both days or $48 for one day. This event is unique in that you can pay to take individual classes for $12 per session.

There’ll also be Internet access in the Blogger Bistro and Twitter Café where attendees can use a workstation to blog or tweet.

The expo’s 11 Bloggers of Honor will be blogging throughout. Organizer Holly Hansen’s blog is here; you can link to all the blogs from the expo’s Web site.

Follow the expo on Twitter at @FHExpos. Its hashtag is #FHX09-SLC. Search Twitter on this hashtag to see Tweets about the conference.


Genealogy Events
Friday, August 21, 2009 10:35:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, August 20, 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, August 20, 2009 8:21:51 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, August 19, 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 Ancestry.com.

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 Ancestry.com for records about people in your family tree. You need an Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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.


Ancestry.com | Genealogy Software
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 11:57:44 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9]
# Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Ancestry.com 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.

Ancestry.com 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.

Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com.

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.

Ancestry.com asks those who plan to participate in the scanning to go to this Web page and click Register.


Ancestry.com | Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Events
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 8:37:21 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, August 17, 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, August 17, 2009 5:40:25 PM (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, August 17, 2009 1:03:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, August 14, 2009
Jamie's flea market finds
Posted by Jamie

FTM_internlogo.jpg

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, August 14, 2009 1:57:31 PM (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, August 14, 2009 12:56:07 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]