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# Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Tell Us Your New Year's Traditions (You Could Win a CD)
Posted by Diane

We’re still taking entries for our November 2009 All in the Family challenge, but only for another week. If we publish your entry in Family Tree Magazine, you’ll win our Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD.

Here’s how to enter:

1. Think of your family’s weird, wacky or wonderful New Year’s traditions. Did you irritate the neighbors by banging pots and pans at midnight? Play board games and watch the ball drop on Times Square? Consume cabbage, donuts or black-eyed peas for luck?

2. Next, describe that tradition in 200 words or less.

3. Send us your description either by posting it to our Talk to Us Forum (you must register with the FamilyTreeMagazine.com Forum to post) or by sending us an e-mail.

Please include your name and your city and state with your entry, like so: Diane Haddad, Cincinnati, Ohio. If we pick your entry, that’ll make it easier for us to credit you in the magazine.

And in that case, we’ll contact you by e-mail to ask for your mailing address so we can send the CD (so keep an eye on your in box).

You have until Nov. 10 to enter. Let’s hear those New Year traditions!


Celebrating your heritage | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Tuesday, November 03, 2009 3:29:36 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, November 02, 2009
It Works! Writing a Family History Narrative
Posted by Diane

I’ve heard the tip that writing your genealogy research into a narrative forces you to organize your information and for theories about what your ancestors did. I’ve even suggested this tip to people—but I never took my own advice.

Until recently, that is, when relatives started asking for copies of records, and I started feeling guilty that I haven’t already shared them.

But I don’t want to just hand over a stack of papers (or more likely, a CD with a bunch of PDFs) and leave people to interpret them on their own. I wanted to tell the family’s story and provide a framework for the records I've found.

And even though I've looked at these records a million times, in creating my narrative I've spotted some holes and tweaked my timeline. A few examples:
  • I realized (duh!) that I had the 1930 census schedule for my great-grandfather and three of his children, but one wasn’t listed with the family. I found him lodging in a nearby town.
  • I realized my great-grandfather didn’t check in at the state prison until after his sons were placed in an orphanage. That's the reverse of what was on my mental timeline.
  • It occurred to me that I should see if the Lions Club that sponsored part of my grandfather’s college education has minutes from the meeting he attended to thank the group.
I didn’t think I’d accomplished much in my research. But now that I’ve laid it all out, I realize how far I’ve come—and I’m inspired to rev up my efforts.

My narrative isn't anything fancy. I just reviewed my records and notes chronologically, and explained what each document is, what it says about our relatives, and any theories and questions it inspires. I’ll update it as I learn more.

A timeline or a research journal also can help you analyze your work. Try these resources:


Research Tips
Monday, November 02, 2009 4:26:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Friday, October 30, 2009
Ancestry.com Cemetery Collection Free Through Nov. 5
Posted by Diane

This just in: Ancestry.com is making its "creepiest collections"—records of cemeteries and gravestones free through next Thursday, Nov. 5. You will need to register for a free Ancestry.com account to view details of your search results.

 Use the search box on this Halloween landing page to access the free databases.

Click here to see the list of cemetery indexes and inscriptions included in this offer.


Ancestry.com | Cemeteries
Friday, October 30, 2009 4:02:20 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy News Corral: October 26-30
Posted by Diane

Here are some genealogy news bits we've rounded up for you this week. Happy Halloween!
  • Familybuilder DNA has added Groups, a feature that let customers collaborate on genetic genealogy research. They’ll be able to create and join groups focusing on commonalities such as haplogroup, national origin, surname, birthplace, etc. read more on Familybuilder.com.


Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, October 30, 2009 2:48:23 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, October 29, 2009
Census Collection Q&A With Footnote
Posted by Diane

By now, you’ve probably heard the announcement that historical records site Footnote is adding indexes and images for the entire US census. Our Q&A with Footnote spokesperson Justin Schroepfer offers more information on the changes to come for the site:

1. Is Footnote creating new census images and indexes? How is this being done?

We are digitizing the microfilm and indexing the data ourselves the same way we have done the [1860 and 1930] censuses. The way we do the census records is different with the addition of what we call ‘sub documents.’

We create sub documents for each individual on the census. It features the indexed information, and allows users to click that they are related and add their own contributions in the form of stories, photos or other documents. Essentially, this creates what we term the Interactive Census Collection.

2. When will we start seeing the new censuses added to the site? What states will be first? When do you anticipate the collection will be complete?

We have already started on 1920, 1910 and 1900. We are starting with the most populous states from these decades. We anticipate the entire census collection to be completed by the end of next year. We created a page where users can check the status of each decade and sign up for a notification when content is added to a specific state from a specific decade.

3. Looking down the road, how will the census addition affect Footnote’s subscription pricing ($79.95 per year or $11.95 per month)?

We are always trying to keep the price of our membership manageable by operating lean and efficient. The pricing for Footnote memberships will not be affected by the addition of this specific collection. It is included in the Footnote membership fees as they stand now. We believe that we can cover our costs by providing significant increase in value to the current product. This, in turn, should help with conversion and retention.

4. Will changes to the workings of the site be necessary to accommodate the added data, searches and traffic?

Adding over 9 million images to the site with the indexes and the sub documents is not a small feat. Our engineering team has been working to ensure that the site experience, including the speed, remains optimal. The team has made some creative decisions to handle this new data and help ensure the customer experience is not negatively affected.


Footnote
Thursday, October 29, 2009 11:53:34 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Last Week to Vote in the Family Tree 40!
Posted by Diane

Remember to cast your vote for your favorite genealogy blog—the top 40 will be in a May 2010 Family Tree Magazine article.

Click here to see more information on the voting categories.

And click here to vote. Thanks for taking part!

Watch for Family Tree 40 updates here and on Twitter (look for the hashtag #FT40).


Family Tree Magazine articles
Thursday, October 29, 2009 9:28:22 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Footnote To Add Entire US Census
Posted by Diane

Historical records subscription site Footnote announced early this morning that it will digitize and post online the entire US census, 1790 through 1930. (Footnote already has the 1860 and 1930 censuses.)

That'll add more than 9.5 million images and half a billion names to Footnote's databases.

That’s big news for two reasons:
  • It really ramps up competition in online genealogy. Right now, Ancestry.com is the only site that offers the entire US census digitized and indexed. I wonder if/how this will affect Ancestry.com’s IPO process—the census claim is probably a major selling point to potential investors.
  • Like Footnote's other historical records, its US census collection will be interactive. Members can add comments and insights to a census record, upload and attach photos or documents, create a Footnote Page and identify relatives found in the census by clicking an I’m Related button.
Ancestry.com’s new Member Connect features offer interactivity, but not quite to the same extent as Footnote.
Records for each state will be added as they're completed. Footnote has created a page where you can track the progress.

Footnote CEO Russ Wilding likens the census to a path linking to additional, less-used genealogical sources: “We see the census as a highway leading back to the 18th century. This ‘Census Highway’ provides off-ramps leading to additional records on the site such as naturalization records, historical newspapers, military records and more.”

He promises Footnote.com will keep adding unique record collections, not just the same records already on other sites.

“We will continue to move aggressively to add records to the site, specifically those that are requested by our members and others that are not otherwise available on the Internet.”

You can watch a free Webinar on how to use Footnote here (just enter your first and last names and e-mail address and click Register, and the Webinar player will open).

Update: Get more details on Footnote's forthcoming census collection in our Q&A with spokesperson Justin Schroepfer.


Ancestry.com | Footnote
Thursday, October 29, 2009 7:27:57 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Truths Behind History-Inspired Halloween Costumes
Posted by Diane

Even when you’re beyond the age of trick-or-treating (and I’m not saying any of you are!), it’s fun to dress up at Halloween to entertain the little ones or impress fellow partygoers.

You’ve might’ve donned one of these history-inspired costumes at one time or another. We dug up some hidden history not revealed in the Halloween costume clichés:
  • Uncle Sam isn’t just a character: During the War of 1812, Samuel Wilson of Troy, NY, provided the army with beef in barrels labeled U.S. The letters stood for United States, but people joked they referred to "Uncle Sam." The term came to mean the federal government; depictions of Uncle Sam appeared starting in 1852. In 1961, Congress officially saluted “Uncle Sam Wilson” as the “progenitor of America's national symbol."
  • You can morph into Rosie the Riveter with rolled-up sleeves and a red handkerchief in your hair. The name was popularized in a 1942 song, but there wasn’t any one Rosie. The most famous image we associate with Rosie the Riveter, J. Howard Miller’s “We Can Do It!” poster, isn’t her. Miller created the poster for the Westinghouse Co.’s War Production Coordinating Committee, and it was posted at the Michigan plant for only two weeks in February, 1942. He didn’t intend for it to portray Rosie.
Read more on the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Memorial Park website.
  • The witch of popular culture—black robe, pointy hat and warts a lá the Wicked Witch of the West—got her start in Shakespeare’s MacBeth and the fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm. But those accused of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials of 1692 and 1693 looked like anybody else. The series of trials resulted in the hangings of 14 women and five men. Another man was crushed to death under stones in an attempt to force him to enter a plea.
Learn more about the trials and see related historical documents in the Famous American Trials website.
  • Vampire costumes are big this year, thanks to the book Twilight and the movie based on it. The name of late 19th-century novelist Bram Stoker’s fictional vampire, Dracula, was inspired by a real historical figure: Vlad III (aka Vlad the Impaler), Prince of Wallachia, born in Transylvania in the 15th century. His Romanian surname, Dracula, meant “son of the dragon;” Vlad’s father had joined the Order of the Dragon.
  • Thanks to Treasure Island, Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean and other popular depictions, pirate costumes sport colorful bandanas, jewelry, an eye patch, a stuffed parrot and maybe a hook or wooden stump. Your typical early 18th-century pirate dressed for the most part like sailors did. The parrot cliché probably arose because many pirates benefited from the trade in exotic animals; the eye patch and hook/stump because of the risky profession. See more theories in this pirate Q&A.


Genealogy fun | Social History
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 10:02:24 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The Norway Project on FamilySearch Community Trees
Posted by Diane

This update on FamilySearch’s Norway Project is from genealogy writer Sunny McClellan Morton:

The recent buzz on FamilySearch’s Community Trees has prompted questions from those who read about the Norway Project in the July 2009 Family Tree Magazine. As explained in that article, the project will extract and link ancestral data from Norwegian bygdebøker (community books). Who wouldn’t be anxious to start searching a database that automatically links their ancestors to each other?

Data from the Norway Project now appears on the Community Trees site. But like anything on a beta site, the information isn’t quite complete. Only the Sør-Aurdal Clerical District of Oppland County is currently posted.

With 61,228 individuals from 18,428 families (12,276 unique surnames), the information is certainly useful, but limited in scope.

Even the posted data still need a little refining. According to project manager Roger Magneson, the following improvements are yet to come:
  • The current long list of six locality descriptors (small farm, large farm, parish, clerical district, county, country) will be reduced to four (large farm, clerical district, county and country).
  • The current list of only one or two locality descriptors for “move-ins” from other clerical districts will be expanded to three or four descriptors wherever possible.
  • Current errors regarding place names (caused by early extractors who couldn’t read the language) will be corrected in a later dataset.
  • Variants and diminutives of some names will be corrected and standardized in a later version.
  • Magneson hopes to post updated Sør-Aurdal data by the end of 2009. The next clerical district data to appear will likely be Nord-Fron, Sør-Fron, Norde Land and Søndre Land, beginning in early 2010.
Of course, Norway’s not the only country on FamilySearch’s Community Trees. Check the site for other datasets related to your pedigree. Choose “Advanced Search” to select the dataset you want to see.

(Note: The site doesn't work well in the Firefox browser.)


FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Tuesday, October 27, 2009 2:53:13 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Ancestry.com Plans Overnight Maintenance
Posted by Diane

In case you’re planning a late-night online research session tomorrow: Subscription site Ancestry.com and its related international sites (Ancestry.ca, Ancestry.co.uk, etc.) will be down for about 3 hours of scheduled maintenance starting Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, at 1 am Mountain Time (3 am Eastern Time or 7 AM Greenwich Mean Time).


Ancestry.com
Tuesday, October 27, 2009 2:27:21 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]