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# Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Search Footnote's Census Records Free Through April
Posted by Diane

I just received word from historical records subscription site Footnote that its free census record search will be extended through the end of April. You'll need a free Footnote account to search; you can get one at <www.footnote.com/census>.

Footnote's census collection includes the 1860 and 1930 US censuses, as well as fractions of the 1900, 1910 and 1920 censuses.

Footnote is planning to add the rest of the US census, 1790 through 1930, by the end of the year. 


census records | Footnote | Free Databases
Tuesday, April 06, 2010 11:55:06 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Gets Second Season
Posted by Diane

Woo-hoo! NBC has given “Who Do You Think You Are?” the green light for a second season.

From the NBC press release:
"Who Do You Think You Are?" from executive producer Lisa Kudrow is averaging a 1.6 rating, 6 share in adults 18-49 and 6.8 million viewers overall in "most current" results for its season thus far. In preliminary results for last Friday, "Who Do You Think You Are?" won the 8-9 p.m. ET hour in adults 18-49, marking the first time any regular competitor in this slot has beaten an original episode of CBS's "Ghost Whisperer" in 18-49 rating since November 17, 2006. "Who Do You Think You Are?" has improved the time period by 23 percent in adult 18-49 rating versus NBC's average for the traditional 2008-09 season in "live plus same day" results.
You can watch “Who Do You Think You Are?” episodes on NBC.com.


"Who Do You Think You Are?"
Tuesday, April 06, 2010 7:56:57 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [13]
# Monday, April 05, 2010
Search 1880 DDD Schedules for 14 States on Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy website Ancestry.com has added many states' 1880 special census schedules of “defective, dependent and delinquent" classes, also known as DDD schedules.

You'll know to look for your ancestor in DDD schedules if his 1880 US census listing has a mark in columns 15 through 20, showing whether he was ill or had a physical or mental disability. If so, DDD schedules might give you more information about his condition or reasons for being institutionalized. (Learn more about this and other special censuses in the July 2009 Family Tree Magazine).

Surviving DDD records are scattered among libraries and state archives. (See Family Tree Magazine's downloadable, state-by-state guide to finding DDD records.)

But now you can search many of the records from home: Ancestry.com subscribers can search DDD schedules from California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington Territory.


Ancestry.com | census records
Monday, April 05, 2010 9:30:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, April 02, 2010
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Recap: Brooke Shields Episode
Posted by Diane

Spoiler alert! This post reveals details about the Brooke Shields episode of “Who Do You think You Are?” so don’t watch if you haven’t seen the episode and you want to be surprised.

The theme tonight: how genealogy can help you understand—and forgive—your ancestors, and how it can give you a sense of belonging.

Tonight I sat back on the couch and flipped open the laptop in preparation for learning about Brooke Shields family history. At the beginning (after the annoyingly long series promo), Shields talks about her childhood: Modeling by 11 months old, then acting in movies. (Read more about her career on the “Who Do You Think You Are?” website.) Her parents, who divorced by the time Shields was 5 months old, she says, “were the antithesis of one another.” She describes her dad as aristocracy and mom as working class. “I never knew where I belonged,” she says.

She heads to Newark, NJ, where she was born but about which she has no early memories. Shields doesn’t know anything about her mom's parents, other than her grandma’s name, Theresa Dollinger, and the fact she had a sister.

“I think my grandmother was horrible to my mother and I started disliking her at a very young age,” Shields says. How sad.

She meets Michelle Chubenko, a genealogist specializing in New Jersey family history. They search birth certificates on microfilm. They find Theresa's and learn her mother’s name, Ida. Next, they look for the sister. Excellent strategy.

Surprise! Ida had two other children! Brothers John and Edward were born in 1910 and 1914. John died in infancy. But what happened to Edward?

Shields is eager to find out. “You feel like you’re a detective,” she says, which is exactly what I think so many people like about genealogy.

On a busy street, she meets historian Tom McCabe. He shows her a 1910 image of the same street, where Theresa Dollinger lived as a child.

Chubenko has more vital records to show Shields. Ida, Theresa’s mother, died of uterine cancer when Theresa was 10. Shields realizes her grandmother probably had to be an adult and a “parent” to her younger siblings at a young age.

Another tragedy: Edward died by accidental drowning at age 13—presumably while in Theresa’s care. Chubenko gives Shields an article about the drowning, and she goes to the spot where it happened. Local boys were bathing in the river on a hot day, and Edward couldn’t swim.

Shields' feelings toward her grandmother have turned to empathy. We’re seeing how understanding your ancestor’s lives can help you forgive them.

Next, we follow Shields to research her father’s family at the New York Historical Society, where genealogist Gary Boyd Roberts has prepared a family tree. Shields' father died in 2003, and she doesn’t know much about that side, but she believes they were well-off in Italy.

Giovanni Torlinia, her 5th-great-grandfather (I think; could be off by a great or two) who died in 1829. It’s thought Giovanni’s father Marino changed the family name to Torlonia. Shields wants to know what came before, and travels to Rome.

She visits the building where her ancestors had a bank, as a crowd gathers to gawk. Marino Torlonia was a cloth merchant who supplied the invading French, and he opened up the first private bank in Italy with branches in several countries. He became wealthy enough to buy properties, including one near Rome, and Shields tours Villa Torlonia. It’s an opulent palace filled with murals and sculpture.

We’re looking at a record (I didn’t catch what it is) showing Marino Torlonia’s origin in France.

She goes to the region of Augerolles and learns from another expert Marino was actually born in France as Marin Torlonias. An abbott who Marin worked for was exiled and Marin helped him escape to various places in Europe, ending in Rome. They’ve found THE house, a humble stone structure, where the family started. Shields feels a connection—she loves France and was a French literature major in college.

She explores another branch of her dad's family: Christine Marie, who has the tantalizing word “royale” after her name on a family tree. Shields searches Ancestry.com while on the train (I was beginning to worry the site wouldn't make an appearance!) and learns Christine was born in the Louvre, which used to be a royal palace.

She meets Charles Mosely, a expert on royal genealogy. He tells Shields she’s related to Henry IV through Christine Marie. In the Saint-Denis cathedral, they visit a chamber storing the hearts of many French kings. Shields climbs onto a shelf and touches the container with Henry IV heart, as Mosely stammers, unsure whether to stop her. Don't try this at your local museum, kids!

At Versailles, which Louis XIV built, Mosely tells Shields Louis XIV—grandfather of Henry IV—is her first cousin many generations removed. Mosely ticks off a list of other royals Shields is related to. She’s amazed.

“Being able to find your place in the grand scheme of things—there’s something empowering about that. By going on this journey, I feel more complete as a person.” I think even if your roots are a lot more humble and pedestrian than this—more like Shields’ mother’s side, perhaps—you’ll feel empowered when you know the people who came before you.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Friday, April 02, 2010 8:17:25 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
Genealogy News Corrral: March 29 to April 2
Posted by Diane

  • Tonight on “Who Do You Think You Are?” watch actress Brooke Shields reconnect with her royal past. Take note of the new episode schedule, which inserts a repeat and a bye week:
April 2: Brooke Shields
April 9: Sarah Jessica Parker (Repeat)
April 16: No episode
April 23: Susan Sarandon
April 30: Spike Lee
  • The Brigham Young University library has posted data from the Mormon Immigration Index CD (originally published in 2000) in a searchable database. Data come from immigrants’ accounts, passenger lists and other resources documenting Europeans (especially from the British Isles) who became Mormons and immigrated to the United States.
  • For those of you who are LDS church members, the subscription family tree site OneGreatFamily is launching a new web site called OneClickTempleTrip.com that taps into “New FamilySearch” for a quick and easy way to identify ancestors you can take to the temple for ordinance work. (New FamilySearch is a family tree site available to many LDS members; it eventually will become available to the public.)


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Free Databases | immigration records
Friday, April 02, 2010 11:41:28 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, April 01, 2010
April Fool's Pranks From History
Posted by Diane

Last month, in a bid to receive free internet connections from Google, the mayor of Topeka, Kan., announced his city would change its name to Google for a month.

With an expression of gratitude, Google today announced its name change to Topeka.



April Fools!

Read about Google’s past April Fool’s Day hoaxes here.

One of our favorite genealogy jokes has been around for awhile. Go to Steve Morse’s One-Step Web Pages and click “Where’s Grandpa? Finding your great-grandfather in one step” under Births, Deaths and Vital Records.

(Or if you don’t want to play, just click here.)

For history’s best pranks, see The Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time from the Museum of Hoaxes.


Genealogy fun
Thursday, April 01, 2010 12:09:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Spring Cleaning at ShopFamilyTree.com!
Posted by Diane


We’re doing some spring cleaning at our warehouse, which means you can clean up on how-to genealogy CDs, books and Family Tree Magazine back issues. A few examples:
and there’s more. As always, qualifying orders totaling more than $25 get free standard shipping in the United States.

Editor's Pick
Thursday, April 01, 2010 7:58:07 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 31, 2010
New GeneTree Research Services Help You Understand DNA Results
Posted by Diane

Genetic genealogy company GeneTree is offering new research services to help you make the best use of DNA testing in your family history search.

In addition to ordering a mitochondrial DNA or Y-DNA test, you can access two levels of service:
  • a $49.95, one-hour self-service consultation to help you understand your DNA test results and work up a plan for using them in your search—for example, which relative to test next for comparison. GeneTree CEO Jeff Wells compares this to “teaching people how to fish.”
  • a full-service report, in which GeneTree staff will analyze your DNA results, use the company's resources to find genetic matches, and analyze pedigrees of potential relatives for family connections. The consultant also will use other, non-GeneTree resources. The cost is $49.95 per hour, with a five-hour minimum.
GeneTree resources include the databases of its parent, the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, which has been gathering DNA data coupled with pedigree charts for years.  The relationship "enables GeneTree to combine sophisticated DNA analysis with traditional genealogical research to provide our customers with the most complete picture of human identity available anywhere in the world," Wells says.

See descriptions of GeneTree’s new services on its website.

In addition, GeneTree's redesigned website features more educational information including DNA tutorials, explanations of mitochondrial DNA and Y-DNA and a Live Chat option.

What Wells calls a “reorientation” comes after his observation of customers’ experiences. “After I came on as CEO last summer, I went to conferences and talked to people about GeneTree experience,” he says. “I asked ‘What do you do with test results?’”

He found that many people were confused by DNA test results and how to use them. “Although we were providing a great products I like the idea of drilling down into the research and helping people not be confused by process,” Wells says.

The full-service approach is becoming more popular among genealogy companies. In 2007, African DNA launched to couple African-American family history research services with genetic testing, and Ancestry.com started its Expert Connect service last year.


Genetic Genealogy
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 9:09:06 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Tips for Researching Orphaned Ancestors
Posted by Diane

One thing that jumped out at me during last Friday’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” was when Matthew Broderick discovered his grandmother grew up in an orphanage.

I knew that my grandfather grew up in an orphanage from letters he wrote as an adult seeking his birth records, but through research I've been able to find out a lot more. His parents weren’t dead; rather, his father had gone to prison and I’m still trying to find out what happened to his mother (the family later reunited).

Fortunately, my grandfather seems to have had a positive experience. I’ve found newspaper articles about his hard-working ways and awards he won. Soon after his father retrieved him from the home, he returned to finish high school there.

Here are some of my tried-and-true tips for researching ancestors in orphanages:
  • Search census records. You may see an orphanage resident referred to as “inmate” in the census. The name of the institution is usually written at the top of the schedule that lists the residents. Typically, the census taker didn’t talk to each child. Instead, he’d transcribe names from the home’s records (which is why residents may be listed in alphabetical order).
If your orphan ancestor was around during the 1880 census, he or she may have been listed in the special schedule of “Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes.” You can download a PDF guide to finding these records from FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
  • Run a Google search on the name of the institution. My grandfather lived in the Corsicana State Home in Texas. From the online Handbook of Texas, I learned which entity has authority over the home—the Texas Youth Commission—so I visited the commission’s website and found out how to request records related to my grandfather. If you find the state home where your ancestor lived has been shut down, chances are any surviving records were sent to the state archives.
For an orphanage run by a religious group, search online for denominational archives. You also may find historical records of homes affiliated with churches or other private organizations at state and local historical societies, local libraries, or on Family History Library microfilm.
  • Follow request instructions. Orphanage records may be considered sensitive and more-recent records may be restricted. I included with my request copies of my grandfather’s death certificate and my driver’s license. I also provided his name, his parents’ names, and the years I believed he lived there. Months later, I received an envelope with his admission records.
  • Explore orphan trains. If you think your ancestor was on one of the trains that transported orphaned children from Eastern cities to adoptive families in the West, try these sites listed on Genealinks.
Related resources from Family Tree Magazine


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Research Tips
Tuesday, March 30, 2010 10:19:31 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, March 29, 2010
Behind the Scenes of WDYTYA?: Matthew Broderick Episode
Posted by Diane

Last week’s episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” started with Matthew Broderick talking to his sister about their grandfather, but that didn’t actually happen until researchers had already begun their search.

A “behind the scenes” e-mail from Ancestry.com’s Anastasia Tyler said researchers started with only information the actor himself knew knew, and had a hard time at first pinpointing the right James Joseph Broderick in records.

Ancestry.com, a subscription genealogy website, partnered with NBC to create the series.

Here’s Tyler's full e-mail about researching Broderick’s family tree:
Matthew Broderick’s first step in this week’s episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" was to talk to his sister, who shared details about his paternal grandparents and started him on his journey. Information from family members can be priceless when researching family trees, but what happens when family members aren’t immediately accessible? That’s the scenario the research team faced when they started researching Matthew Broderick’s tree.
 One of the fantastic things about the format of Who Do You Think You Are? is that the celebrities really are starting out with what they know. We watch them on screen learning information from their families or from records for the first time. Likewise, the research team started out only with the information that the celebrity knew.
A Common Ancestor
For Matthew Broderick’s tree, the researchers had the name of his paternal grandfather, Joseph Broderick, and a few other clues about Joseph’s life. Using these facts, the researchers set out to discover more about Joseph Broderick.
They quickly ran into somewhat of a brick wall. “When we started the research for Matthew’s tree, all we knew was that his paternal grandparents were Joseph Broderick and May Martindale,” says genealogist Krysten Baca of Ancestry.com. “We were quickly stuck; there were many Joseph Brodericks and not enough information to determine who the correct ancestral Joseph was.”
Don’t Overlook Anything
But Matthew was able to provide the research team additional clues – his grandfather Joseph Broderick was a postman in New Hampshire. The occupation was a small, perhaps seemingly insignificant detail, but in this case it broke down the brick wall. Immediately after learning this information, the team found a record for a James Joseph Broderick working in the Post Office in Manchester, NH.
This record matched Matthew’s tree in three ways: (1) the name Joseph Broderick, (2) the location of New Hampshire, (3) the occupation of postal worker. In addition, Matthew’s father was named James Broderick. Based on these pieces of information, the team hypothesized that James Joseph Broderick was the ancestral Joseph Broderick, Matthew’s grandfather.
Breaking through the Brick Walls
Focusing on this hunch, the researchers looked for additional records about James Joseph Broderick of Manchester, New Hampshire. The records they found matched the few additional details known about the ancestral Joseph Broderick and allowed the researchers to confirm that James Joseph Broderick was indeed Matthew’s paternal grandfather.
The records gave the team another brick-wall-breaking clue—an alternate name for Joseph’s wife. Previously the researchers knew her only as May; the additional records listed her as Mary. This information allowed further discoveries about Mary and her life before she married James Joseph Broderick.
Of course, Matthew’s sister held some of this information all along. But similar to many researchers’ experiences, sometimes research begins before family members can be consulted. “If this case proves anything,” says Krysten, “it’s that even the smallest clue could be the key to unlocking a family tree.”  
If you missed this week’s episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?", you can watch it online.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Monday, March 29, 2010 8:01:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]