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# Friday, September 11, 2009
$10 Off Our Upcoming Immigration Webinar
Posted by Allison

Just a reminder that today's the last day to take advantage of the early bird rate on this month's webinar, Online Immigration Records: Retracing Your Ancestors' Journey on Sept. 22.

The discounted price of $39.99 expires at midnight tonight. After that,  registration will cost $49.99.

If you haven't participated in one of our webinars, you could think of it as a "souped up" online genealogy seminar. Besides participation in the live event—which you can attend in your jammies if you want—you get a link to the recording so you watch the session as many times as you'd like, a PDF of the presentation slides and an e-book of related how-to guides for further reading.

Diane will be hosting the immigration webinar, which starts at 7 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Central/5 p.m. Mountain/4 p.m. Pacific. You'll find more details on the registration page.


Genealogy Events | immigration records | Webinars
Friday, September 11, 2009 4:53:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy News Corral: September 7-11
Posted by Diane

After skipping last week's news corral due to the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, I'm back in the saddle and rounding up genealogy news items:
  • The National Genealogical Society (NGS) has launched a blog called UpFront With NGS, which will complement the society’s monthly e-mail newsletter of the same name. News will be posted regularly on the blog, so you don’t have to wait for the e-mail, and you can leave comments on the blog posts.


Ancestry.com | Genealogy fun | Genealogy societies | Social History | UK and Irish roots
Friday, September 11, 2009 11:16:06 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
New Online Database: 19th-Century British Newspapers
Posted by Diane

Gale (a Michigan-based company that creates educational databases), along with The British Library and the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee, has introduced a new online database of 19th-century British newspapers.

British Newspapers, 1800-1900, gives users access to more than 2 million newspaper pages from 49 19th-century national and regional newspapers in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Content from two of the papers is free; other content is accessible with a fee (see below).

You'll get a good look into your ancestors’ world and maybe find genealogical details in articles, property and legal notices, marriage and birth announcements and photographs.

Supplementary resources include timelines and histories of the 49 newspapers.

You can search the full text of the papers by a person’s name or a keyword and link to high-resolution digital images of the pages. You don't have to pay to merely search, and you can click on a thumbnail image in your search results to see a snippet of the article containing your search term.

To download an article, you must purchase a pass. A 24-hour pass (during which you can view up to 100 articles) costs 6.99 pounds (about $12); a seven-day pass (allows 200 article views) costs 9.99 pounds (about $17).

Articles from The Penny Illustrated Paper and The Graphic are free. When you search, you can check a “display only free content” box that will show you results from just these papers.


Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, September 11, 2009 10:50:47 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 10, 2009
More on the Family Tree 40
Posted by Diane

Thanks to the genealogy blogging community for helping spread the word about our Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy Blogs, an article scheduled for the May 2010 issue. We hope it will draw readers’ attention to the great work being done on genealogy blogs.

We wanted to get readers involved in the article for a few reasons:
  • To encourage people to check out more blogs, including ones they might not be aware of
  • To make the selection process more of a bottom-up effort, not just our editors’ choices
  • To get genealogists’ help and input in selecting from the huge blogging universe
We chose to do this through a nomination period, followed by a voting period. Genealogy blogger FootnoteMaven raised some questions about the process in her recent “Hmmmmmm” post, so I wanted to clarify some points here. I apologize in advance for the long post!

Voting
We’d planned to explain more about voting once we saw how nominations went. Not having done this before, we didn’t know what kind of response to expect, which is why we weren’t more explicit about judging and criteria from the outset—it wasn’t a secret; we just weren’t sure how our criteria would work, based on the number and quality of nominations we might receive.

Voting is intended to make the process participatory, but voting alone won’t determine which blogs are featured in the article. When the voting concludes—assuming we receive adequate nominations—the top 80 vote-getting blogs will make it through to a “final” round, and then our editorial staff will select 40 blogs from that list.

Narrowing the list of nominees
There’s no predetermined limit to how many nominees will be included in voting. But we do anticipate a need to eliminate some nominations from consideration. Criteria that would disqualify a blog:
  • It isn’t primarily about genealogy.
  • The blogger doesn’t post original content (for example, if he/she simply aggregates feeds from other blogs).
  • The blog is no longer updated, or does not post new content on a regular basis (say, at least once a week).
In narrowing remaining nominees, we’ll look at the quality of the posts—rampant misspellings (beyond typos—those happen to everyone) and poor language can make posts hard to follow. We’ll look hard at blogs associated with paid services—such a blog might be helpful to readers, or it might be primarily a marketing tool. Those made up strictly of advertising content would likely be eliminated.

If a blog gets just one or a few nominations, that won’t keep it out of the voting. If one blog is nominated many times, though, we’ll note that it’s probably a blog many people are reading.

Categories
We thought we’d divide nominees into categories because it’ll be easier for readers to choose from, say, a list of 20 similar blogs than one huge list of all 500 or 1,000 (or however many) nominees. We feel it’s important to see the nominees before setting categories in stone, so we can make sure we have categories that account for all the blogs in the running. We also don’t want to end up with categories containing only two or three nominees, or 100 nominees, which would be unmanageable for voters.

FootnoteMaven asked specifically about categorizing wide-ranging, very frequently updated genealogy blogs such as Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings. We’ll come up with a broad, all-encompassing category for such “super bloggers.”

She also wondered whether the “excellent genealogy advice,” “offer insight,” etc. qualities mentioned in our first Family Tree 40 post might hint at the voting categories. They’re not meant to. Instead, we just wanted to get nominators thinking about why they’d want to take the step to nominate a particular blog.

Finally, FootnoteMaven also wanted a Family Tree 40 badge that encourages blog visitors to vote for their favorite genealogy blog, not just her own. Here’s an alternate version of the badge she and other bloggers can use:



and the original, which blogger also could choose:



If you have a comment or question, please click Comments and let us know.

Family Tree Magazine articles
Thursday, September 10, 2009 1:21:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# 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]