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# Wednesday, September 09, 2009
2009 FGS Conference Roundup
Posted by Diane

Last week's Federation of Genealogical Societies conference was light on news, but still heavy on genealogical enthusiasm and camaraderie. We heard there were about 700 registered attendees, though FGS hasn't shared official numbers. Here's a roundup of conference news, plus links to postings on other blogs:
  • Subscription family tree site One Great Family exhibited this year as part of a new marketing effort to reach the genealogy community.
One Great Family automatically merges trees when it finds the identical person on both, which sounds a bit scary—but where the trees differ, the site maintains the differences and each member sees the version of the tree he believes is correct. President Rob Armstrong says no one can change your view of your tree, but everyone can see your version and accept your view if they choose. A subscription costs $59.95 annually; a free one-week trial offer is available.
  • A new company called Geneartogy uses your ancestors’ names and photos to create frameable, decorative trees on canvas (you also can get the designs on smaller plaques). Prices range from a $98 extra-small plaque to a $408 extra-large canvas, with an additional cost for framing.
(The 2010 National Genealogical Society conference, by the way, is in Salt Lake City, so you could double up on a trip to the Family History Library.)
  • If you’re new to genealogy conferences, you might be curious about the long panel of ribbons dangling from some attendees’ name badges, like so:

(This is podcast host Dear Myrtle’s badge.) Ribbons designate society memberships, honors and more. All registrants got an “Ancestry.com member” ribbon (whether or not they actually were members) and first-time attendees got “First FGS Conference.” FGS board members, speakers and  genealogical societies delegates received ribbons. I got “Podcast Fan” and “Keeping up With Blogs” at a social networking forum. Some highly involved folks had to take special measures to secure their ribbons:


Click to see our earlier posts on the Ancestry.com/NEHGS partnership, FamilySearch announcement about Arkansas marriage records and Library of Michigan news.

For more from the conference, check out posts by Dick Eastman, Randy Seaver and Dear Myrtle (scroll down). Feel free to click Comments and add a link to your FGS 2009 conference post.

Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, September 09, 2009 11:31:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Help Save Library of Michigan Genealogy Collections
Posted by Diane

Michigan Genealogical Council (MGC) members stopped by our booth at FGS last week to share news about the Library of Michigan, which was dissolved July 13 by an executive order that goes into effect Oct. 1.

To save an estimated $2 million in the cash-strapped state, Gov. Jennifer Granholm assigned the library collections to the Department of Education and ordered the department’s director to cut expenses by considering measures such as eliminating participation in interlibrary loan.

MGC is circling an online petition in support of keeping the library’s Michigan collection intact, free and within state jurisdiction.

State senators have introduced bills to transfer all Department of History, Arts and Libraries functions to the Michigan Department of State, with separate funding from the state's general fund. MGC president Cynthia Grostick says the measures have passed the state senate, but fears they may languish in the house. See the council’s Web site for updates and information on how to help.


Libraries and Archives
Wednesday, September 09, 2009 10:02:07 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, September 04, 2009
Searching Microfilmed Newspapers
Posted by Diane

This Federation of Genealogical Societies conference  is the first confab outside Ohio where I’ve been able to research ancestors. As soon as I got to Little Rock Wednesday, I checked into the hotel and ran off to the state archives.

I didn’t have a specific article to find—rather, I wanted any news item about my great-grandfather’s criminal trial for bootlegging. There wasn’t a name index, so I knew I was in for some heavy-duty scrolling. I had the conviction and incarceration dates, but not a date of arrest, so I had several months to cover in 1913.

First thing when I arrived, I got my very own research card. The archivist had me double-check holdings for the newspapers I wanted. I’d neglected to bring singles or a $5 bill for a copy card, so I also ran to the concession and bought a soda to get change.

Next, I requested a couple years’ worth of microfilm and started scrolling. I started with the dates I knew and scrolled backward through earlier papers, then forward, looking for headlines on the faded pages.

Bootlegging arrests filled the news--apparently the sheriff was really cracking down. The few items mentioning my ancestor’s name told when he was arrested, how he filed for a writ of habeas corpus, and how two others arrested at the same time jumped bail.

Though not the play-by-play trial accounts I was hoping for, the articles also gave me a clue to what might’ve happened to his missing court records. He served his prison sentence in Texas and his case is indexed in Bowie County, Texas, records, but a batch of files that includes his case number is missing.

According to the newspaper articles, some witnesses lived on the Arkansas side of Texarkana, and Bowie County officials traveled to the courthouse in Miller County, Ark., for a pretrial motion. So maybe his case file ended up in Arkansas.

Miller County court records for the years I need aren’t on Family History Library microfilm, so I’ll send a request to the circuit court clerk the minute I get home. Fingers crossed.


court records | Libraries and Archives | Newspapers
Friday, September 04, 2009 10:23:56 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Search Arkansas Marriages Free on FamilySearch
Posted by Diane

To coincide with the ongoing Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Little Rock, Ark., FamilySearch released the first installment of a collection of Arkansas marriage records on its free Record Search Pilot site.

Volunteer indexers from the Arkansas Genealogical Society have completed a quarter of the project so far--that’s 442,058 records linked to 199,431 digital images of original marriage certificates from the counties of Ashley, Baxter, Boone, Chicot, Clay, Crittenden,Desha, Drew, Fulton, Jackson, Johnson, Lee, Logan, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, Nevada, Perry and Pike.


FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Vital Records
Friday, September 04, 2009 1:01:08 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Ancestry.com Review at Blogger Summit
Posted by Diane

I put a “back at 3” sign in Federation of Genealogical Societies conference booth yesterday and headed to Ancestry.com’s “blogger summit.”

It turned out the meeting was more review than news, the company's lawyers having nixed any “forward thinking statements” in anticipation of its IPO.

But I guess a review couldn’t hurt once in awhile, especially with, as content manager Gary Gibb conceded, just-released databases quickly overshadowing ones released just before them, significant additionsbeing termed mere “updates” on the list of recently added content, and some collections (such as audio recordings of oral histories) drowning in the sea of databases.

Key improvements for this year have been:

  • An enhanced image viewer, which lets you view the record image and the index on the same page. This is available in preview mode for some censuses, including the 1880 US census. It also lets members build a better index by adding alternate information for most fields. The additions are viewable immediately to other people, and they’re searchable within about three weeks.
  • Ancestry member trees have a new person and tree viewer that are easier to navigate
  • The lifespan search filter, which has eliminated some irrelevant results. A lot still needs to be improved, says VP of product Eric Shoup. He says Ancestry.com won’t “kill” the old search, but wants to create a search experience that combines what works about both the old and new searches. Potential improvements include more control over searches on a place and name, improving the search for an individual collection, making it easier to browse records and changing the search algorithm to deliver relevant results.

Ancestry.com
Friday, September 04, 2009 9:20:01 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 03, 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, September 03, 2009 9:15:31 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Ancestry.com to Partner with NEHGS
Posted by Diane

At a reception it hosted tonight at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com’s World Archives Project . The digitized records and their indexes will be accessible to subscribers of Ancestry.com or NewEnglandAncestors.org (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 Ancestry.com’s pending IPO filing with the SEC.)

We'll keep keeping you updated with conference news.


Ancestry.com | Genealogy Events
Wednesday, September 02, 2009 10:27:06 PM (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 FamilyTreeMagazine.com.)

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, September 02, 2009 12:57:59 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, September 01, 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, September 01, 2009 1:18:42 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, August 31, 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, August 31, 2009 1:28:53 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]