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# Thursday, March 11, 2010
Footnote's Census Records: Free for a Limited Time
Posted by Diane

Historical records subscription site Footnote is making its US census records free for a limited time.

Footnote spokesperson Justin Schroepfer says there’s not yet a firm ending date, but the records will be free at least through the end of this month. You’ll need to register as a free member to view the records. 

Footnote is  carrying out plans to host the complete US census back to 1790. Here are the census records on the site so far:
  • the complete 1860 census
  • 5 percent of 1900
  • 3 percent of 1910
  • 3 percent of 1920
  • 98 percent of 1930
When you find a relative’s record, click the “I’m Related” button for a name on the document to identify yourself as a relative and see others who’ve done the same. You also can see others’ photos, stories and comments related to the record. (See Footnote’s tips for starting family history and making the most of its interactive census collection.)

The offer will help Footnote capture the family history interest stirred up by network television programs such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Faces of America.” The getting-started page bills Footnote as the “unofficial, affordable and premiere resource for Who Do You Think You Are?”

Footnote also has launched its improved record viewer, which I blogged about yesterday.


census records | Footnote | Free Databases
Thursday, March 11, 2010 11:46:50 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
10-Years of Family Tree Magazine on DVD (in a Pretty Box)
Posted by Diane


Just look at the packaging for our 10 Years of Family Tree Magazine 2000-2009 DVD. It’s so pretty, you might not want to open it.

But go ahead. Here’s what you’ll find:


A DVD with the past decade’s worth of Family Tree Magazine issues. All our genealogy research guides, tips, tools and tutorials—more than 4,700 pages, Allison declared after one-on-one time with a calculator—on a convenient, space-saving DVD.

A Family Tree Magazine library, if you will.

All the issues are PDF files; open them with the free Adobe Reader on a Mac or a PC. You can click to browse each issue from the Start page, or search (also from the Start page) for topics of interest to you.

The enhanced files let you click through to recommended websites. Bookmarks make it easy to navigate to your favorite stories and sections of the magazine.

Stop by ShopFamilyTree.com for more details and highlights of the issues it contains. The DVD is available for pre-order now at 20 percent off the regular price (the estimated shipping date is March 31).

Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles
Thursday, March 11, 2010 9:02:55 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Finding Immigration Records With One-Step Search Forms
Posted by Diane

Finding an ancestor’s immigration record is the goal of many a genealogist, which is why I’m selecting an excerpt from Rick Crume’s February 2007 Family Tree Magazine article on Stephen P. Morse’s One-Step search site for this week's “Best of” installment.

Morse has searches for many sites, but his Ellis Island search forms are among the most popular. I have a soft spot for them: I found one of my ancestors by using the Gold form to search passenger lists month-by-month around the arrival date given on a naturalization record.

Just before the issue was printed, Morse's Gold form replaced the old Blue and Gray forms. That's about the only time we've had to say "Stop the presses!" 
When Ellis Island launched its database of New York City passenger arrivals from 1892 to 1924, genealogists viewed it as the greatest advancement since pedigree charts. The ability to freely search records of 22 million immigrants, passengers and crew—and view digital images of the lists—was a huge research boon. But as great as the site was, people became frustrated with its limitations: Searching on just first name, last name and gender wasn’t adequate for finding everyone’s immigrant ancestors.
Those limitations inspired the first One-Step tools. Although EllisIsland.org has since expanded its search options (they now include features that debuted on the One-Step site, such as name-spelling flexibility, birth year, ship name, town of origin and ethnicity), Morse’s White and Gold Ellis Island search forms still offer extra options for ferreting out hard-to-find immigrant ancestors. For instance, the Gold Form lets you search for town names that sound like your search term; both forms let you search on port of departure and age.
By default, both forms hunt for matches that start with your search term. That way, if you search on Glasgow in the town field, you'll catch both Glasgow and Glasgow, Scotland—whichever way it was recorded.
A key distinction between the forms: The White Form employs the same search engine as the Ellis Island site. The Gold Form uses a different search engine, which works faster when you search on name fragments.

Morse advises using the Gold Form for most searches, and the White Form when you need a “fresh perspective” for your search.
Morse unveiled the Gold Form to provide maximum flexibility in searching all 25 million people in the Ellis Island database. It melds the best of his old Blue and Gray forms, offering added parameters for searching all the records—including traveling companion, exact arrival date and marital status. Want to search for everyone from a particular village? Specify the town, but leave the name fields blank.
Family Tree Magazine Plus members can read the entire article, which covers many of Morse's other One-Step searches, on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

Related resources from Family Tree Magazine:


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | immigration records
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 1:42:11 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Footnote Debuts Enhanced Record Viewer
Posted by Diane

I just saw on Twitter that subscription genealogy site Footnote’s new image viewer is now live. (We told you last month how to get a sneak preview of the “Newer Viewer.”)  

This is what it looks like (that's my great-grandfather's Petition for Naturalization):



The viewer controls are better organized by function, and it’s easier to navigate within the collection and to other records. More specifically, the changes include:
  • The source information panel has moved from the right to the left side of the page (you can click an arrow to close the panel).
  • The filmstrip of record images at the bottom of the viewer defaults to closed (use the Open filmstrip link to open it).
  • A Find pop-up box lets you search for a name or other word in the record.
  • Controls to manipulate the record image (such as magnifying and rotating it) were separated from out and moved from above the image to the vertical toolbar on the left.
  • Sharing features (such as adding a note to the image and—new in the viewer—posting it to your Facebook page) are above the image.

  • The breadcrumb trail showing you which collection you’re in, and letting you navigate within it, is above the sharing features. (Previously, this breadcrumb trail was located inconspicuously above the filmstrip.)

Footnote | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, March 09, 2010 12:25:47 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Roots Television to Stay Online
Posted by Diane

Good news for fans of genealogy video site Roots Television: After being flooded with e-mails and tweets in response to her announcement of the site’s shutdown, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak will keep Roots Television going.

"I honestly had no clue how valued it was by the genealogical community, and I agree with the many of you who pointed out that it serves a somewhat different purpose than the prime time programming that's on TV at present," she says in an e-mailed message to the site’s newsletter subscribers.

Roots Television videos will soon feature commercials to help defray hosting and streaming expenses. "Unfortunately, I don't have the resources to customize [the commercials], but I'll experiment with ways to make them as painless as possible," Smolenyak says.

She’s also seeking advertising for the site. Smolenyak reported that at least 20 organizations or individuals expressed interest in adopting the site.


Genealogy Web Sites | Videos
Tuesday, March 09, 2010 8:57:24 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, March 08, 2010
Behind the Scenes of "WDYTYA?": Researching Sarah Jessica Parker's Roots
Posted by Diane

For those of you yearning to know more about how a small army of genealogists uncovered Sarah Jessica Parker’s Gold Rush and Salem Witch trial ancestry, shown Friday night in NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” premiere, Ancestry.com has provided a look at the behind-the-scenes research process.

I'll send you over to Geneabloggers, where Thomas MacEntee has posted it.

For even more details, see Kimberly Powell's About.com Genealogy post about a letter she found that mentions Parker’s ancestor John S. Hodge.

The show came in second in the ratings for the 8 p.m. time slot, with 6.85 million viewers—not bad for a Friday evening. If you missed "Who Do YouThink You Are?" you can watch on Hulu.

And set your DVR to record "The Oprah Winfrey Show" Tuesday, which promises to be a geneafest as Sarah Jessica Parker, Susan Sarandon, Lisa Kudrow, Brooke Shields and Emmitt Smith talk about their family history finds for “Who Do You Think You Are?” Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. also will discuss his findings on the PBS series "Faces of America" and, it looks like from the video clip, touch on Gates’ July 2009 arrest for disorderly conduct (which occurred upon his return from filming Yo-yo Ma’s family story in China).


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Monday, March 08, 2010 10:49:48 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, March 05, 2010
'Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode One Recap
Posted by Diane

We’ll be doing quick recaps of every “Who Do You Think You Are?” episode right here. So if you haven’t yet watched the Sarah Jessica Parker episode and you don’t want to know, stop reading this second.

Here are some of my thoughts (and Facebook posts) while I watched:

Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP) and her brother are joking about being related to a Mayflower passenger. I smell foreshadowing.

SJP's father is Eastern-European Jewish, but she has lots of questions about her mother’s side. Her mother born and raised in Cincinnati’s German Community (just like my mom’s dad). SJP visits her mom and learns her great-grandmother's last name was Hodge.

SJP goes to Cincinnati's Clifton Public Library, about 10 minutes from where I am right now, meeting with genealogist Natalie Cottrill. (Read more about her visit in this Cincinnati Enquirer article.)

SJP’s great-grandfather John Hodge is reported dead in 1849 in a newspaper article, but appears in the census in California the next year.

First Ancestry.com commercial.

Now she’s at the Museum Center, formerly Cincinnati’s Union Terminal train station (a great place to visit if you're ever in town), meeting with UCLA history professor Stephen Aron.

Hodge invested $200 in a gold-prospecting company. He left for California, leaving his wife (whom he may or may not have known was pregnant). It’s neat to see SJP’s genuine excitement and curiosity. Now off to California.

I’m concerned viewers will think you actually have to visit every place your ancestors lived in order to research. That might make it even more fun and exciting, but it’s definitely not required!

John Hodge did die after he arrived in California. Sad.

SJP says it's “extraordinary” to think your ancestor was part of such a profound event in history. That’s what I love about genealogy.

Now Josh Taylor from the New England Historic Genealogical Society is telling her about John Hodge’s family. 1849 to 1635 in 15 seconds flat.

Now we’re on to the Massachusetts Historical Society. (You can read more about the MHS visit here.)

SJP is looking at an online index and sees the word “warrant” by her ancestor’s last name. Cut to commercial!

I love the little review after every commercial break.

SJP’s ancestor Esther Elwell was arrested for performing witchcraft against her neighbor, Mary Fitch, causing Fitch to die. SJP is so surprised, she’s stammering.

Another commercial break!

Whew! SJP’s relative was arrested near the end of the trials, and ended up never having to go to court. She lived to age 82.

I feel like there should be a disclosure telling us how many hours and how many people all this research took. But, I really enjoyed watching someone else enjoy the process of genealogy. It was fun watching along with my Facebook genealogy friends. I think the show told a great story, introduced us to (or reacquainted us with) historical events, and got across how meaningful family history research can be.

Update: For more details on how the research into SJP's ancestry was done, see our March 8 post.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Friday, March 05, 2010 9:20:21 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
Genealogy News Corral: March 1-5
Posted by Diane

  • The National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC, is holding its sixth annual Genealogy Fair April 14 and 15th. Look for free classes and workshop, as well as a "Help! I’m Stuck!” table staffed with genealogy experts. Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, author of the “Who Do You Think You Are?” book, will present a talk April 14 at 7 p.m. Also appearing is Andrew Carroll, editor of the books War Letters and Behind the Lines.
  • The state of Georgia announced a partnership with Ancestry.com to offer grants for local governments and historical repositories. Eight organizations will receive up to $10,000 in scanning services. Ancestry.com will digitize and index records and make them available to subscribers. Repositories will receive digital copies of the records and index; they can make the index public immediately and the index after three years.

  • In other Ancestry.com news, the site's version of the Social Security Death Index will now be updated every week.
It seems like there was something else I wanted to add .... let's see ... oh, right: Remember to watch the premiere of “Who Do You Think You Are?” tonight at 8 pm (7 pm central) on NBC!


Ancestry.com | Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives
Friday, March 05, 2010 2:41:15 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, March 04, 2010
Maine Legislature May Close Vital Records
Posted by Diane

Dick Eastman’s blog caught my eye with a post about a Maine bill that might close birth and marriage records.

The bill is LD 1781, An Act To Allow Electronic Filing of Vital Records and Closing of Records To Guard against Fraud and Make Other Changes to the Vital Records Laws, was the subject of a hearing yesterday before the legislature's Health and Human Services committee.

You can see the text of LD 1781 here. It was sponsored by Rep. Anne C. Perry of Calais, Me.

Sec. 12. 22 part 2706, Disclosure of Vital Records, reads “After 100 years from the date of birth for birth certificates, after 100 years from the date of death for fetal death certificates and death certificates, after 100 years from the date of marriage for marriage certificates and after 100 years from the registration of domestic partnerships, any person may obtain informational copies of these vital records in accordance with the department's rules.”

That would effectively close records to all but immediate family or legal representatives for 100 years after they’re created, throwing a big obstacle in the way of family historians with Maine ancestors.

It’s an unnecessary obstacle. As Dick says, vital records are rarely used for fraud. Most identity theft happens when people with access to sensitive information, such as employees of financial institutions or government agencies, steal data and sell it. Stolen wallets, credit cards and mail are other sources. (Follow the links in Dick's post for more details.)

The bill does let record custodians “permit inspection of records, or issue certified copies of certificates or records, or any parts thereof, when satisfied that the applicant therefore has a direct and legitimate interest in the matter recorded.”

But there’s no allowance for uncertified records, unofficial documents that many states issue for genealogy research.

Visit Maine's state legislature website for legistators’ contact information.


Public Records
Thursday, March 04, 2010 11:15:47 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Easy Ways to Help Your Friends Get Started in Genealogy
Posted by Diane

So pretty soon, your friends who’ve seen “Who Do You Think You Are?” and know you’re into genealogy might start asking you how they can start digging into their family history.

Here are some beginner friendly resources:
Also don’t miss our “Who Do You Think You Are?” landing page, where beginning and experienced genealogists can learn more about the show, see the latest Tweets about it, discuss episodes on our Forum and get the lowdown on even more celebrities’ family trees.

Related resources from ShopFamilyTree.com:
  • Census Secrets CD with in-depth information on one of the most-used genealogical records


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Research Tips
Thursday, March 04, 2010 10:17:32 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]