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<2009 September>

More Links

# Thursday, 03 September 2009
Nominate a Genealogy Blog for the Family Tree 40
Posted by Diane

Do you have a favorite few genealogy blogs that you read regularly? Maybe the blogger offers excellent genealogy advice, insightful analysis or a unique point of view. Or the writing especially creative or humorous.

If so, we want to know about it. In the May 2010 issue, we’ll be naming the Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy Blogs (“Family Tree 40” for short).

First, we’re asking the genealogy community to nominate the genealogy blogs they read most. Later, family historians will vote on their favorite blogs in several categories.

Click here to nominate your favorite blogs by filling out our online form.

The nomination period is from Sept. 3 to 30. You can nominate as many blogs as you want (one at a time), your own included, as long as each blog is related to family history in some way.

Voting will take place from Oct. 5 to Nov. 5. We’ll let you know here and in the Family Tree Magazine E-mail Update newsletter when voting is open.

You also can follow us on Twitter for contest updates (we’ll use the hashtag #FT40).

The Family Tree 40 will be announced in the newsletter and in the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine. Start nominating and stay tuned!

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 03 September 2009 09:15:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 02 September 2009 to Partner with NEHGS
Posted by Diane

At a reception it hosted tonight at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, CEO Tim Sullivan and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) marketing director Tom Champoux announced a new partnership.

NEHGS’ historical records, which Champoux says date back up to 400 years, will be part of’s World Archives Project . The digitized records and their indexes will be accessible to subscribers of or (NEHGS’ Web site). Update: The indexes will be free.

The records to be digitized are as yet unspecified. (Sullivan was tight-lipped in general due to’s pending IPO filing with the SEC.)

We'll keep keeping you updated with conference news. | Genealogy Events
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 22:27:06 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
If Your Ancestor Was an Alien
Posted by Diane

I got a letter from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Friday. For a split second I was worried—like if you get an unexpected letter from the IRS. But then I remembered that way back in May I'd requested the case file number for my great-grandfather’s alien registration.

I was inspired to put in my request back in May, when I was editing our November 2009 article on getting federal government records. (This issue goes on sale next week at newsstands and

In the paragraphs on the USCIS genealogy service, David A. Fryxell explained how the Smith Act of 1940 required non-citizens age 14 or older to register as aliens. I remember putting what seemed like dozens of semicolons in the long list of what the "AR-2" form asked of registrants:
  • biographical information such as name, name at arrival and occupation
  • relatives' names
  • physical description
  • arrival date, place and ship name
  • membership in clubs and organizations
  • whether and where citizenship papers had been filed
  • any arrests
... and more. AR-2 forms date from August 1940 to March 31, 1944. I put together the pieces and realized that my great-grandfather, who immigrated in 1900 and declared his intention to become a citizen in 1942, would've had to register. Maybe I'd get some clues for stretches of time when I can’t find records on the family.

I stopped my editing immediately and took four minutes to send my online Genealogy Program request. (A benefit of this job is that doing a little research counts as verifying information.)

USCIS staff are working through a request backlog. As soon as I got the AR-2 file number Friday, I sent off my request for a copy of the form. (Because I’m moving, I'm having it sent to my parents. I told them not to worry if they get a letter from the USCIS with my name on it.)

I wish you could order both the number and the record at the same time, but alas, it’s a two-step process that takes a total of $55 and about six months.

Besides AR-2 forms, the Genealogy Program also gives you access—for a fee—to naturalization certificate files (Sept. 27, 1906, to March 31, 1956), visa files (July 1, 1924, to March 31, 1944), registry files (March 2, 1929, to March 31, 1944) and immigrant files (April 1, 1944, to May 1, 1951; these are being transferred to the National Archives 100 years after the birth of the immigrant named). See the USCIS genealogy page for more on making your request.

immigration records | Research Tips
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 12:57:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 01 September 2009
Special All in the Family Challenge: Ancestral Anniversaries
Posted by Diane

For the All in the Family department in the 10th anniversary issue of Family Tree Magazine, we thought it would be fun to go with the theme by including readers’ stories of ancestral anniversaries.

Tell us about your family's longest-wedded couple: who they are, when they were married, how they met or how they celebrated a milestone anniversary, and maybe even their secret for a long, happy union.

If we publish your story in the January 2010 issue, we'll send you one of our genealogy how-to CDs.

Things to remember before you enter:
  • Post your entry to the Ancestral Anniversaries thread in the Talk to Us Forum. (To help combat spammers, forum registration is required for posting. You can register by clicking here.)

  • Please keep your entry under 125 words, so we can include more stories in the magazine.

  • Please add your city and state to your entry for publication in the magazine.

  • We'll contact you for your mailing address and possibly for a photo of your anniversary couple, so please keep an eye on your e-mail account.

  • By submitting, you give Family Tree Magazine permission to feature your contribution in all print and electronic media.
We'll need your entry for this All in the Family challenge on or before September 15. Thanks for sharing your family's stories!

Celebrating your heritage | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Tuesday, 01 September 2009 13:18:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 31 August 2009
Tips for FGS and Other Genealogy Conferences
Posted by Diane

This week, I and a few hundred other genealogists from around the country are headed to Little Rock, Ark., for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) annual conference.

I’m looking forward to hanging out in the Family Tree Magazine booth (#407), handing out magazines, showing off our latest products, answering questions and chatting with readers. It'll also be an opportunity to catch up with other genealogy bloggers and writers, and get the scoop on the latest news and resources. I'll be posting it here.

Besides touring the exhibit hall, attendees also will go to classes and workshops, field trips to local repositories, luncheons and other social events.

And I’m super-excited about squeezing in a little newspaper research at the Arkansas state archives. My bootlegging ancestor lived on the Texas side of Texarkana, a city that straddles the border, and I’m hoping his “entrepreneurship” made the local news.

Some tips for those going to FGS or another conference:
  • Wear comfortable shoes—you’ll be walking to classes, walking to your hotel, walking through the exhibit hall … you get the idea.
  • The air conditioning always seems to be cranked up at these things, so bring a cardigan.
  • Bottled water is pricey and drinking fountains can be hard to find. You can save by bringing an empty bottle to refill. (I usually bring granola bars, too. I have a thing about knowing where my next meal is coming from.)
  • Bring business card with surnames and places you’re researching and your genealogy e-mail address, in case you run into someone researching your lines.
  • Bring extra address labels, too, so you can stick them on entry forms for drawings (including ours).
  • If you’re attending by yourself and everybody else seems to know somebody, remember genealogists are a friendly bunch. Just say hi and introduce yourself. If all else fails, ask the person next you about his or her ancestors—you’ll have a conversation partner in no time flat.
  • Plan ahead for any research you want to do, so you can make sure you have all the charts and records you need.
  • Take some time before classes start to decide which ones you want to attend and learn where the classrooms are. That way, you won't miss the first 10 minutes because you couldn't find the room.
  • Take a reconnaissance walk through the exhibit hall and mark on your booth map all the vendors you want to return to. Check off each one as you visit it, but be sure to leave time for browsing.

  • Some exhibitors pack up early on Saturday to catch flights and whatnot, so don't leave important business for the very end.
Pre-registration for FGS has closed, but you still can register at the door. A day registration costs $120; the full conference costs $225 (but just visiting the exhibit hall is free).

The conference is at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock. You’ll find this and more information on the FGS conference blog.

Hope I’ll see you there!

Genealogy Events
Monday, 31 August 2009 13:28:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 28 August 2009
Genealogy News Corral: August 24-28
Posted by Diane

  • Hundreds of genealogists—your truly included—are packing their bags for the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Little Rock, Ark., Sept. 2 to 5. I’ll write more about the conference in a separate post next week, but in the mean time, you can check out the conference Web site and blog.
  • The National Archives’ marriage records (1815 to 1866) from the Virginia Field Office of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (Freedmen’s Bureau) have been digitized and are now available free at the FamilySearch record search pilot site.
  • Subscription genealogy Web site and its related international sites will be down for scheduled maintenance for about three hours starting Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 1 a.m. Mountain Time. Portions of RootsWeb,, and—which live on servers—also will be unavailable. 
  • Mark your calendars for National Museum Day Sept. 26, when hundreds of museums across the country will offer free general admission to you and a guest when you present a Museum Day admission card, downloadable from this site.
  • A Deerfield, Ill., documentarian has created a show called “The Legend Seekers,” which traces family legends of regular people. You can submit your family story at, see others' stories and get research tips. Chicago-area residents can watch an episode on WTTW Channel 11 Aug. 30 at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. Aug. 31. (It’ll also run on WTTW Prime—Comcast Channel 243—at 9:30 p.m. Aug. 31, and 4:30 and 9:30 a.m. Sept. 1.)

African-American roots | | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Museums
Friday, 28 August 2009 11:20:36 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 27 August 2009
Put Your Ancestors on Our Cover!
Posted by Diane

We're looking for a great ancestral photo to feature on the cover of the January 2010 Family Tree Magazine (that's our 10th anniversary issue!).

Maybe your family photo is the one.

Post your ancestral photo to our Ancestral Cover Photos Flickr group or e-mail it to us (we'll then post it on Flickr), and we may use it on the cover!

Before you start flipping through those albums, please note these requirements:
  • The image must be dated before 1920 and not show any individuals still living (we don't want to upset any of your more-modest relatives).

  • The image must be high-resolution (at least 300 dots per inch) so it will reproduce well in print.

  • The image must show people (five or fewer is best, that way we'll be able to see everyone).

  • Include your e-mail address and/or phone number with your submission—we'll need to be able to get a hold of you if your image is chosen.
Some disclaimers for you to be aware of: By submitting your photo, you affirm that you are the owner of the image and it is not subject to copyright by any other party. You also grant Family Tree Magazine permission to crop the digital image as necessary for publication, and to use the image in any and all print and electronic media.

Got questions? Click Comments to ask them, or e-mail them to us.

Update: Please submit your photo(s) by September 15. Also, it's fine to submit more than one image, but please try your hardest to choose up to your five favorites to send. Thanks!

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun | Photos
Thursday, 27 August 2009 08:36:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, 26 August 2009 Database Launches
Posted by Diane

NewsBank, which produces the GenealogyBank newspaper subscription site as well as news services for libraries, has introduced another site called

This subscription site, which you can access from home, lets you search the full text of “thousands of historical newspapers and millions of articles” from US newspapers published between 1800 and 2000.

A subscription costs $99.95 for a year or $19.95 per month.

See a title list sorted by state on the site. The content appears similar to GenealogyBank’s Historical News collection, at least for the 1800-to-2000 time frame.

So what’s different? targets a more-general audience of history buffs and scholars. The announcement of its launch emphasizes how the articles “capture the civic, political, social and cultural events of American life.” You search it by a keyword, date and place of publication.  

GenealogyBank content goes back to 1690, for one thing, and the search places more importance on finding ancestors' names. It also has genealogy-friendly collections including America's Obituaries, the Social Security Death Index and Historical Documents.

GenealogyBank costs $69.95 per year or $19.95 per month. Look for our special pull-out guide to using the site in the December 2009 Family Tree Magazine.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers | Social History
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 08:34:17 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Pick a Mascot for Family Tree University
Posted by Diane

Would you rather be a Fighting Kin-garoo or a Family History Hawk? Or maybe a Missing Lynx?

We’re on the hunt for a mascot for Family Tree University, the series of online genealogy classes we’re launching in late fall. Family Tree Magazine subscribers can read more about it in the November 2009 issue—coming your way right about now—or visit the Web page and sign up for e-mail notifications.

You can help choose a Family Tree University mascot by clicking here and voting for your favorite (or if you don’t see a mascot you like, you can suggest one).

We'll let you know when classes are starting. Hope to see you on "campus"!

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun | Family Tree University
Tuesday, 25 August 2009 15:58:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Monday, 24 August 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, 24 August 2009 11:20:00 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]