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<2010 April>

More Links

# Friday, 30 April 2010
Genealogy News Corral, April 26-30
Posted by Diane

Tonight’s season finale of NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” features director Spike Lee’s search for his roots. Tune in at 8/7 central.

UK genealogy website just added75,000 new WW1 records to its subscription databases with the release of the Royal Marine Medal Roll 1914-1920. The lists of Royal Marines who received medals for their WWI service provide name, rank, service branch, service number, a description of where or to whom the medals were issued, and sometimes more. You can search the index and click to see the record image. has added more than 30 million California vital records, enhanced its family tree tool, added videos to help you use the site, and added to its Expert Series of how-to articles. This is in addition to the announcement earlier this month about the free search of the records on FamilySearch’s Pilot Record Search site

Subscription pedigree site OneGreatFamily launched a free genealogy-oriented bookmarking site called It works like Digg: You can click to "Gee" an online genealogy article and share it on Facebook or Twitter. visitors can vote for and comment on the article. You must register with to Gee an article; anyone can vote.

At the National Genealogical Society conference, we came across a site called It indexes historical resources that refer to ocean and river vessels. If you search or browse on the site to a page for a vessel, you’ll get citations to find more details in resources such as Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia by Lincoln P. Paine. You can subscribe to the site for additional resources.

I also learned about a free online tool called Hi-Lite that lets you highlight information on websites. You register for a Hi-Lite membership, and use a toolbar to highlight information on webpages. That adds the passage and a citation to your Hi-Lite account.

Pennsylvania researchers might want to check out the Ancestor Tracks website, which has free township warrantee maps for many counties and other resources for learning about early Pennsylvania landowners. You can get the full maps, atlases and more on Ancestor tracks’ Early Landowners of Pennsylvania books and CDs.

The National Archive sand Records Administration opens its new Civil War exhibition, Discovering the Civil War, today at 10 a.m. Opening day features a free outdoor concert, noon lecture by historian and author Robert V. Remini, and a screening of "Glory" For more on the exhibit, visit the archives' website.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 30 April 2010 13:47:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 29 April 2010
Three News Announcements From
Posted by Diane senior vice president of product Eric Shoup made three news announcements at a reception the online genealogy company hosted this evening:

1. Shoup previewed’s new search features, some of which  have already been implemented (such as the filters I blogged about last week). Features to be added “in the near future” include
  • more prominent browsing by place (right down to a county, which got applause from the audience), record category and collection

  • a simplified basic search form that asks for name and place of residence (it includes a calculator to help you determine a birth year based on your ancestor’s age at a specific time)

  • pages with historical information and basic facts about counties, as well as additional resources outside of
You can see what the new search eventually will look like here.

2. is launching a new, free wiki with all the information from the references Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources edited by Alice Eichholz, and The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy edited by Lorretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargraves Luebking (these books will remain available in print through Turner Publishing, which took over’s book business earlier this year). A wiki is a site anyone can contribute to and edit to update and correct the information. The Wiki is available now in beta.

3. Mac users, listen up: will make its Family Tree Maker genealogy software available for Macs. Shoup said that’ll happen before the end of the year. | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 29 April 2010 00:21:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
Posted by Diane

During the morning rush at our National Genealogical Society booth today, someone looked at the July 2010 Family Tree Magazine and said “Oh, I saw your guy!”

What guy? I’m pretty sure we didn’t bring a guy.

A little while later, Sherlock Holmes walked into the booth. It was Tim Firkowski, a professional family history detective (and creative marketer) dressed to promote his business, The Genealogy Assistant

In a purely coincidental turn of events, Tim looked exactly like our July cover! See:

Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun
Thursday, 29 April 2010 00:00:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 28 April 2010
NGS Conference News
Posted by Diane

We’re hearing that 2,500 people were preregistered for the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference, going on now through Saturday at the Salt Palace convention center in Salt Lake City. From the rush in the exhibit hall when the doors opened this morning, that seems about right.

Now for some news from the conference:

This morning in the opening session, the National Genealogical Society announced that its 2012 conference will be in our own stomping grounds, Cincinnati. Research opportunities will include the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, one of the country’s best public library genealogy collections.

Also during that session, FamilySearch International announced today that it has posted an additional 300 million names to its database collections, include those from sources not previously available online. The names are on a FamilySearch beta site, which is similar to the Record Search Pilot site but has an expanded search form. Read the full announcement here.

The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) today announced its genetic genealogy database of test results has surpassed 100,000 DNA samples, linked with corresponding family pedigree charts from the submitters. You can read an article about the milestone here and search the database at the SMGF site (it’s free, but registration is required).

UK family history website will take over FamilyLink’s WorldVitalRecords Australasian website. The subscription website will relaunch next month as  Initially, it’ll provide mostly Australian and New Zealand content from Gould Genealogy and History books and CDs; eventually, content and features will be added.

The New England chapter of the Association for Professional Genealogists (NE-APG) announced it’s offering a DVD of two genealogy lectures from expert Tom Jones: "Correlating Sources, Information and Evidence to Solve Genealogical Problems" and "Writing Genealogy. " It covers how to interpret and analyze your research—putting it all together and using a variety of records to build a case for what your ancestors were up to. See a full description on the NEAPG website. You don’t purchase this DVD online, but you can download an order form to print out and send in. 

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genetic Genealogy | International Genealogy
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 23:55:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 27 April 2010
A Hopping Genealogy Joint
Posted by Diane

After setting up Family Tree Magazine’s booth in the National Genealogical Society conference exhibit hall here in Salt Lake City, editorial director Allison Stacy and I stopped by the Family History Library today.

The place was buzzing with activity! Researchers were busy at almost every computer terminal and microfilm reader. (I surreptitiously took these pictures on the second floor, which has US and Canadian microfilm.)

To help everyone get the records they need, the library is extending its hours, staying open until 11 pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (the library normally closes at 9 on those days).

We’re looking forward to seeing lots of researchers in the exhibit hall!

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives
Tuesday, 27 April 2010 22:03:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 26 April 2010
July 2010 Family Tree Magazine Hitting Newsstands!
Posted by Diane

Our July 2010 Family Tree Magazine is mailing to subscribers and hits newsstands tomorrow, April 27, with a plethora of resources and suggestions for helping you find ancestral answers.

I'm partial to "Undercover Genealogy" by Lisa Louise Cooke, because it highlights an area of genealogical research I’ve only started to explore. The 10 strategies for finding living relatives (who may hold family history clues) go beyond online search engines to show you how to think like a detective—using the person’s occupation, organizational affiliations, hobbies and interests to figure out where to search. (You can see an article excerpt, with tips on finding old phone books, on our website.)

If Susan Sarandon’s ancestral search on last week’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” piqued your interest in your Italian roots, we have just the article for you: “A Little Italy” by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack names 10 resources for discovering Italian ancestors. She also walks you through an example of tracing an immigrant to his hometown in Italy and researching his family in microfilmed church records.

Just a few of the other topics in the July 2010 Family Tree Magazine: Doing cemetery research, finding female ancestors, using British site, and ramping up your research with help from social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter.

Visit to see the issue’s table of contents and place your order (the July 2010 issue is available in print or in digital format).

Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles
Monday, 26 April 2010 11:53:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Saturday, 24 April 2010
NARA Social Media Scavenger Hunt Starts Monday
Posted by Diane

Get your game face on for the National Archives and Records Administration’s Civil War–themed social media scavenger hunt, starting at noon next Monday, April 26.

The hunt celebrates the new Discovering the Civil War exhibit opening April 30 at NARA’s Washington, DC headquarters. It’ll send participants scouting for answers across the National Archives' social media sites, including more than a dozen Facebook pages and Flickr, YouTube and Twitter sites.

Visit NARA’s main Facebook page Monday for the scavenger hunt kickoff.  Those who complete the hunt and submit their answers will be entered into a drawing for four Discovering the Civil War t-shirts from the NARA gift shop.

For more details and rules, see NARA's facebook page.

Genealogy fun | Libraries and Archives | Social Networking
Saturday, 24 April 2010 17:00:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 23 April 2010
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Recap: Susan Sarandon Episode
Posted by Diane

I’ve missed my little Friday night get-togethers with WDYTYA?, so I was excited about watching actress Susan Sarandon’s search for her roots.

She was already into family history, but faces a mystery: What happened to her grandmother Anita, who disappeared when Sarandon’s mom Lenora was 2? Family rumors paint Anita as a bad mother who spent time running numbers and hanging out in jazz clubs. Susan—the self-identified “black sheep of the family”—feels a connection to this “colorful character.”

Sarandon visits her mom, who’s been hesitant to try to find Anita. Lenora says her mother was a “showgirl” at a nightclub, and produces a fuzzy newspaper photo. Lenora found out when she was 9 or 10 that her mom was alive and eventually met her; both are in a photo taken in a funhouse mirror. But that was the extent of their relationship.

We go to New York City, where Sarandon knows Anita lived around 1929, to meet with genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak. We see Anita’s birth certificate naming her mother Angelina and her father Mansueto Rigali, whose occupation was “statues.” The couple was from Italy, and they had nine children before Anita—but only two of them were still living when Anita was born.

Their mother had died by the time Anita was 12. Smolenyak presents a marriage certificate for Anita. The groom was 21 and the bride was 15—no, wait, make that 13! She claimed to be older, but doing the math from Anita’s birthday puts her at barely teenaged. Sarandon recalls that Anita must have been pregnant, because her uncle was born six months after the wedding.

Sarandon meets Italian immigration historian Mary Brown at St. Joseph church. The Rigalis lived at 35 Madison Street in a crowded Lower East Side tenement neighborhood Brown calls a “death trap.” I llike the interwoven history lessons.

Cut to Sarandon and her son Miles at the New York Public Library, where they search an Italian website for Anita’s surname. I love that her son’s getting involved! They’re from Tuscany, so of course, this is Hollywood and that’s where they go.

Ahhh, Florence. Genealogist Cinzia Rossello produces records of the family, including a military conscription document showing Mansueto was from a small town, Coreglia, and owned land.

Sarandon goes to Coreglia, where Rossello shows her the family’s baptismal records. Mansueto’s record has his father’s and grandfather’s name. We can get back 10 generations, to 1640, just in this church’s baptismal register. “I’m from Tuscany,” Sarandon says. “It’s gone from being something abstract to being very concrete.”

Next she meets Gabriello Cabrese at Coreglia’s statue museum—the town was famous for its figuremaking. We learn that in 1888, at age 32, Mansueto was one of the first sculptors to go to the United States. That year, 98 figuremakers left.

Back in New York, Sarandon visits the cemetery where Mansueto is buried. He died at 72. He and his children—except Anita—are on the burial register, but they have no markers.

Still in search of Anita’s story, Sarandon meets Burton Pereti, an expert on New York nightclubs. He suggests she was active at speakeasies in New York, which were magnets for young women who worked as dancers and singers. There’s little documentation of Anita in nightclubs, he says, but he presents an October 1932 marriage license showing Anita’s marriage at age 25 to a Ben Kahn. The document reports no previous marriages. “Nothing seems to add up,” Sarandon says.

Pereti tells her the show’s researchers were unable to find a record of a divorce from Sarandon’s grandfather, the man Anita married at 13. After a commercial, Sarandon says her grandfather didn’t divorce Anita until after that photo in the funhouse.

Sarandon and Miles visit the New York library to use city directories. They find Anita on West 78th Street and a possible Ben on 74th. Were they already separated the year after they married?

Next, they search for Anita's death record. It’s not under Kahn, so Miles suggests not using a last name. Clever kid! They find an Anita Fiorentini who died in 1984—wrong name, but everything else fits.

At the library in Rockland County, NY, where Anita Fiorentini died, Sarandon finds her obituary. The details fit, down to the parents’ names, except that Anita’s birth date makes her younger. Anita had married a man named Dominick.

Sarandon goes knocking on doors in her grandmother’s neighborhood, and learned a lot about what she was like from a neighbor who didn’t want to talk on camera. Sarandon next visits Dominick’s nieces. “If you can tell me anything…” Sarandon says, and the nieces say “We can!” They tell her Anita and Dom were happy and show pictures of them.

This was the least tearful WDYTYA?, but still touching. “As this journey unfolded, I became more and more compassionate to her and more forgiving and my heart went out to her,” Sarandon says. “Now my mom has some closure.”
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Friday, 23 April 2010 21:26:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
A Look at's New Search Filters
Posted by Diane activated new search filters in its New Search, giving you more options for what kind of matches you want—and, the site's developers hope, appease those who’ve stayed steadfastly loyal to the Old Search.

The filters replace the Exact search boxes for the first name, last name and location fields. You can choose the exact filter (same as checking the Exact box) and a number of other options that differ depending on what goes into the search field. Here’s a look:

• The First and Middle name filter offers these options:

If you choose "Restrict to Exact Matches," you also can choose one or more of the filters below it, but you don't have to. The default setting searches as though you checked all the filters, and it returns records without matching first names but with strong matches on other information.

• The Last name filter offers these options:

Previously, a Soundex-only search option was missing from the New Search (causing many members to stick with the Old Search). The default setting here searches as though you checked all the filters.

• When the location field is empty, its filter offers these options:

The default setting applies no filters for the location field.

• When you type a place in the location field, the filter changes to let you search for results in adjacent counties or states:

Here, too, the default setting applies no filter, and results are ranked according to how closely they match your location.

The filters haven't been added to the Old Search, so make sure you're in the New Search if you want to use them. Once you get a chance to try them out, let us know what you think.
Friday, 23 April 2010 17:01:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Genealogy News Corral: April 19 to 23
Posted by Diane

This week certainly flew by, and it's already time for another roundup:
  • Tonight is the first new episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” in a couple of weeks. Tune in to NBC at 8/7 Central for actress Susan Sarandon’s family history journey. (Check your local listings—we’re hearing the show’s airing at different times in some areas.)
  • A call to action is circling the blogosphere regarding the possible closure of the Boston Public Library’s Microtext Department and Newspaper Room. The contents would be distributed to alternate locations within and outside of the city’s Central Library. Blogger Dick Eastman, who’s based not far from the library, has more details and suggestions for taking action.
We'll post next week's news corral from the National Genealogical Society conference in Salt Lake City. Typically, genealogy companies save juicy announcements for a conference, so stay tuned right here.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 23 April 2010 16:29:49 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]