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# Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Archives.com, Gates Partner on African-American Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Historian and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, who’s hosted “African-American Lives,” “Faces of America” and other genealogy shows on public television, has joined online genealogy newcomer Archives.com as an advisor.

The site has a new African-American research section featuring Gates. According to the announcement, it also will publish a set of African-American genealogy records never before available online.

“Professor Gates will apply his knowledge and passion for African Heritage towards helping Archives provide the tools and resources needed to explore African American family history, and even trace roots back to Africa,” said the announcement.


African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 2:14:22 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Award-Winning Article Helps Jewish Roots Researchers
Posted by Diane

Congratulations to Tracing the Tribe blogger and Jewish genealogy expert Schelly Talalay Dardashti, who received a National Genealogical Society (NGS) Award of Excellence for her September 2009 Family Tree Magazine article "Ties That Bind."

The article provides guidance on researching your Jewish roots. Dardashti was honored in the Genealogical Methods and Sources category.

“The award is presented to an individual or nonprofit organization for a specific, significant single contribution ... that discusses genealogical methods and sources and serves to foster scholarship and/or otherwise advances or promotes excellence in genealogy,” according to the NGS announcement.

Need help researching Jewish ancestors? Dardashti’s award-winning "Ties That Bind" article is available in several forms:


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Industry | Jewish roots
Tuesday, May 11, 2010 1:18:47 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
How to Get a Decorative Family Tree Poster
Posted by Diane

So you’ve gathered a few generations’ worth of names and dates, and now you want to display your family tree on your wall.

Nowadays you have more options than ever—from free to pricey and do-it-yourself to full-service—for creating a decorative family tree poster. Here are some that we’ve come across:
  • Family networking site Geni announced yesterday that you can turn your Geni tree into a decorative family tree poster you can customize and order on archival photo paper for $29.99 (a framed one costs $119.99). Learn more on the Geni blog.
  • Most genealogy software programs, including RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree and Family Tree Maker, will let you create a family tree chart to hang on the wall. Progeny Genealogy makes add-on "charting companion" software you can use to enhance the charting capabilities of several desktop family tree programs.
  • If you have a family tree on Ancestry.com, you can import the information into MyCanvas and design and print a chart for free, or order one on nice paper in a variety of sizes. (From your tree on Ancestry.com, click the Publish button in the navigation bar at the top of the page.)
  • Generation Maps’ new Family ChARTist service lets you create a decorative tree and print a free 8.5x11 version at home, or order professionally printed larger sizes.
  • You can buy decorative charts to fill out by hand from several vendors, including Fun Stuff for Genealogists and the Family History Store. Or type free decorative family tree chart into Google for blank trees you can download and print. Our Family Tree VIP members receive a printable decorative tree as part of their exclusive Family Tree Toolkit.


Celebrating your heritage | Family Heirlooms
Tuesday, May 11, 2010 11:25:52 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, May 07, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: May 3-7
Posted by Diane

  • The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) plans to launch a public wiki that will allow you to create pages on records or themes. If you can't attend the organizing meeting at the NARA building in Washington, DC, on May 7th, you can contribute ideas by e-mail—see the archives’ blog post for details.
Also check out the archives’ wiki for planning the wiki.


Asian roots | Canadian roots | NARA
Friday, May 07, 2010 3:21:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Scavenger Hunt Photo Challenge!
Posted by Grace

Do you live near West Texas? We're looking for an adventurous genealogist to take a photo for us in the Pecos Park Cemetery in Reeves County, Texas, to use in our upcoming book, Grave Humor.

Our target is Robert Clay Allison, who has an especially humorous epitaph: "He never killed a man that did not need killing." The cemetery is at 120 E. First St., Pecos, TX.

Take a high-res digital photo of the man's gravestone over the weekend, and we'll send you a copy of Grave Humor when it comes out. E-mail your image to ftmletters@fwmedia.com by Monday to win!


Cemeteries | Photos
Friday, May 07, 2010 10:27:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Mom Always Said . . .
Posted by Diane

One of my favorite Family Tree Magazine All in the Family challenges is when we asked readers to submit famous sayings of the moms in their family trees. In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, I’m sharing some of those momilies.
My sister and I had fun brainstorming the momilies we grew up with:
  • “For crying out loud!”

  • “Hold your horses” (and its close relative, “Don’t lose your britches”)

  • “If [fill in name of childhood friend]’s mom said she could jump off a cliff, would you want to jump off a cliff, too?”

  • I could’ve yelled from here.”

  • “Do you think someone’s going to steal your dinner?” (when I was hunched over my plate)

  • We were never allowed to eat suckers in the car, because “If I have to stop suddenly, it’ll go through the roof of your mouth.”

  • “You have until the count of three…”

  • “A birdie’s going to come and sit on your lip" (when someone was pouting)

  • “I have eyes in the back of my head.” (My sister says this to her kids, too, and her youngest thought for years that she really did.)

  •  “I don't have a favorite. You’re all my favorites.”
You'll hear many more momilies, set to the "William Tell Overture," in this  YouTube video:


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun | Videos
Friday, May 07, 2010 8:58:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, May 06, 2010
Footnote Newspaper Collection Is Free in May
Posted by Diane

I saw this over at Geneabloggers this morning and wanted to pass it on first thing: Footnote is offering free access to its digitized newspapers collection for the month of May. You’ll need a free basic registration to access search results, then you’ll be able to download articles to your computer.

Take advantage of Footnote’ free newspaper collection offer starting here.

To see a list of available newspaper titles and coverage years, click here and then choose a state. Note that papers for many titles date from the mid- to late-1900s.

To learn more about searching records on Footnote, you can download Family Tree Magazine's Web Guide to Footnote ($4 from ShopFamilyTree.com).


Footnote | Free Databases | Newspapers
Thursday, May 06, 2010 8:17:44 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Get Better at Genealogy With Family Tree University Online Classes
Posted by Diane

You can improve your genealogy research skills and make progress in your family tree quest, even on your busy schedule.

Registration is now open for the first online course offerings from Family Tree Magazine’s newest educational endeavor, Family Tree University. Choose from these courses:
Courses start May 10 and last four weeks (after which we’ll begin offering courses on even more topics). Each self-paced course has four to six lessons that are “released” at regular intervals over the four weeks.

Once you’re registered, you’ll receive your student login and password via e-mail, with instructions on how to access Family Tree University’s virtual campus. Then, you just log on at your convenience to review each lesson (online or in a PDF you can print out) and complete an exercise or quiz to practice your skills.

The professional researcher who’s instructing your class will provide feedback on your assignments. (Meet the instructors here.)

In your “classroom,” you’ll also have access to the required readings for that lesson, a library of resources for further learning, a message board where you can talk with other students and your instructor, and a “journal” where you can communicate privately with your instructor.

You can save 15 percent off your first course by entering the discount code LAUNCH15 when you register. Tuition is regularly $99 per course.

To learn more and register for a course, go to FamilyTreeUniversity.com. We’ll see you in class!

census records | Family Tree University | immigration records | Land records | Photos | Research Tips | Vital Records
Wednesday, May 05, 2010 10:27:47 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Resources for Revolutionary War Soldiers and Criminal Research
Posted by Diane

Our own Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor’s book, The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation (Kent State University Press), is so new she only had one to bring to the National Genealogical Society conference last week.



The book is full of rare daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and carte des visite paper photographs of Revolutionary War-era men and women in their later years. You’ll also find genealogical information about each person.

Taylor is also the author of Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs (Family Tree Books), now on sale at ShopFamilyTree.com.

Last week, we showed you one character making the rounds at the conference. Another one was Ron Arons, founder of Criminal Research Press, who appeared both in gangster getup (below) and prison stripes.



He’s written WANTED! U.S. Criminal Records: Sources & Research Methodology and The Jews of Sing Sing. His website has a search of Jewish inmates of New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility, which was a temporary home to Arons’ great-grandfather.

For help researching criminals, also see the November 2009 Family Tree Magazine.

Genealogy books | Photos
Tuesday, May 04, 2010 9:11:58 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Saturday, May 01, 2010
WDYTYA? Recap: Spike Lee Episode
Posted by Diane

We’re at Ancestry.com’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” viewing party, watching the season finale with a few hundred of our best genealogy friends at the National Genealogical Society conference.

Here are a few of them:




First, we hear some behind the scenes info on the season from Anastasia Tyler, who coordinated the research for the show:
  • 6,300 hours of research went into the series

  • An average of more than 425 hours of research went into each show

  • Researchers did preliminary work on more than 20 trees, then whittled that down to 7 due to the celebrities’ schedules

  • A core team of 30 genealogists worked on the episodes, aided by scads of others who visited archives, did record lookups and more.

  • Places the crew researched around the world that didn’t make it into the show include Germany, England, Ukraine, Russia, Ireland, Korea and Canada

  • Repositories visited included the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Massachusetts Historical Society and other state archives, local courthouses, public libraries, churches in New York City and France, and synagogues in Ukraine.

  • Filming all seven episodes took 9.5 months
Curtains up and the show begins. Director Spike Lee says his mother’s side of the family is a mystery. This show starts with Lee visiting his mom, but this episode is different from previous ones: He’s at her gravesite. Jacqueline Shelton Lee died of cancer when Spike was 19.

His grandmother “Momma” put him through college and helped him start his career. She died at 100 in 2006. Lee says he “squandered” opportunities to ask her about her family. “Being a filmmaker, I should’ve been filming her … you take stuff for granted” and let yourself believe that the person will be around forever.

Momma’s grandmother Lucinda Jackson was born into slavery. Lee looks for her death records in Dublin, Laurens County, Ga., with help from African-American history expert Melvin Collier. From Georgia death records on Ancestry.com, we learn Lucinda died in 1934.

Next is an obituary search in newspaper microfilm—a successful one. From Lucinda’s obituary, Lee is surprised to learn Lucinda had three sons, Isaac, Phillip and Wilson. But there’s no mention of the boys’ father.

Phillip’s death certificate reveals the answer: His father’s name is Mars Jackson. Spike recalls that when he called Momma to ask for a character’s name for his film She’s Gotta Have It, she suggested Mars.

Next, Lee heads to the Georgia State Archives to meet historian Mark Schultz. They search the 1880 census on Ancestry.com and find a Mars, a farmer in Twiggs County. The family has all the right first names and ages, but they’re under the name Woodall. Schultz says this could be the name of a former slaveowner.

On to earlier censuses, now searching for the slaveowning Woodall family. In the 1860 census, they find the only white Woodall family in the county. This is likely Mars’ owners. Woodall’s 1860 slave schedule, which enumerates slaves by age (not by name), probably includes Lee’s ancestors.

Because Mars was listed as a farmer in 1880, Schultz and Lee look in the 1880 agricultural census. They discover Mars owned land—80 acres of tilled land, plus 50 of wooded land, plus 75 acres of “other” land. Schultz says that when positive relationships existed between former slaves and owners, the freedman may have used those ties to get a start. Perhaps Woodall lent Mars the money to purchase the land.

Lee uses a map to find the acreage Mars owned. He puts on his Mars necklace from the film. “It all started here,” he says. He digs up some Georgia red clay and puts it in a TJ Maxx bag to take with him.

Now we look for Lucinda, starting with her death certificate. Her parents were Wilson and Matilda Griswold. In the 1870 census, Matilda, listed as mulatto, is a cook living with an Ebenezer and Eliza Grier in Griswoldville. There’s no Wilson.

Genealogist Daina Berry presents a contract for several slaves, including Wilson, to be hired out to work in a Samuel Griswold’s cotton gin factory. Berry points out that the fact that the slaves were named means they’re probably highly skilled. Another document (we don’t hear what it is) says that in 1865, Gen. Sherman’s troops destroyed the business and carried away five “negro” men.

Did Wilson go with Sherman? Was he killed? We head to Griswoldville, which has a plaque where the factory once was. The cotton gin company’s plant had been converted to a pistol factory to supply the Confederate Army—hence Sherman’s attack. Local historian Bill Bragg drives up with some records and a pistol that was manufactured at the plant. It was the biggest pistol manufacturer in the Confederacy. “My great-great-grandfather built this pistol…” Lee says. “Which was used to kill the people who were coming to liberate him,” finishes Braggs. The irony.

We see a picture of a grim Samuel and Louisa Griswold in 1860. Lee wants to know if he could be related to James Griswold, perhaps through Matilda, who was listed as a mulatto in the census. Certainly, Bragg says, it’s a possibility.

Berry says that Griswold’s daughter Eliza married Ebenezer Grier, and Matilda was probably gifted to her. Often, children of owners and slaves were sent away to another household. Circumstantial evidence points to Griswold as Matilda’s father.

Berry finds a descendant of the Griswold family on ancestry.com. Guinevere Greer is a great-great-granddaughter of Wilson Griswold, so she may be a third cousin twice removed to Lee. They sit on the couch and have a conversation. What do you say to someone whose ancestor your ancestor owned? You should definitely watch this part of the show. Watch the whole thing, but definitely this part.

“My grandmother, maybe she knew a lot, but she didn’t tell us because we didn’t ask,” says Lee. “I hope my children know they’re on the shoulders of great people.”

I thought this was the most educational episode because it seemed to offer more explanation about the records we were seeing. This episode also has a lot of humor in it--Spike lee's a funny guy.

You can read more about this episode on Ancestry.com.  You can watch the show on NBC’s website.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Saturday, May 01, 2010 2:12:54 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]