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# Thursday, June 24, 2010
Historical Photo Database Shows NYC's Lower East Side Tenements
Posted by Diane

The Tenement Museum in New York City’s Lower East has launched on online database of more than 1,300 images from the museum’s collection.



Photos show the neighborhood, historic and contemporary photographs of 97 Orchard Street (the restored tenement where the museum is located) and historic portraits of people who lived and worked there.

You can browse, run a basic search by keyword, or run an advanced search on a name, place, year range or other terms. If you click on an image in your search results, you can enlarge it or save it to your favorites (in which case you’ll need to create a free account).

By 1900, more than 80,000 tenements had been built in New York City, according to History.com. About 2.3 million people—two-thirds of the city’s population, many of them poor immigrants—lived in tenement housing. The building at 97 Orchard Street was home to 7,000 people from more than 20 nations between 1863 and 1935.

Author and photographer Jacob Riis exposed the miserable conditions of tenement houses in his book How the Other Half Lives, published in 1890. (Read it on Google Books). The book was instrumental in urban reforms regulating the construction of tenements.

Free Databases | Museums | Photos | Social History
Thursday, June 24, 2010 11:04:06 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
10 Reasons to Enroll in Family Tree University
Posted by Allison


Family Tree University is the only program that combines a friendly, accessible style of genealogy instruction—popularized by Family Tree Magazine—with a state-of-the-art online learning environment to make genealogy education rewarding and fun.

Whether you're a family history newbie or veteran researcher, here are 10 reasons to take a Family Tree University course:

1. Easy-to-follow lessons show you how to find and use genealogy resources. Too often, how-to seminars and articles tell you that resources are available to you, but don't explain how to actually use them or where to get them.

2. The content is developed by experts who know genealogy and frequently write and teach about their course topics. You benefit from the expertise of someone who's been there and has experiences to share.

3. Courses are designed specifically for people who do genealogy for fun. Our students are people who, like you, want to get more from their hobby. Family Tree University isn't for professionals seeking certification (although you will get a "diploma" for each course you complete!).

4. There's a course for every genealogist. Class topics cover everything from using different types of records to preserving and sharing your research—check out our complete course list. (Don't see the course you'd most like to take? Email us.)

5. You can go to class in your jammies. There's no set time you have to show up for class—you can log in at 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning, whatever's convenient to you. And there's no one else in the room to see your bedhead or bunny slippers.

6. Connect with other genealogists. Each course has a private message board just for the students and instructor, where you can bounce around ideas and share your challenges with other researchers just like you.

7. You'll become a better researcher. The time, effort and money you invest in taking a Family Tree University course will pay dividends by teaching you how to trace your ancestors more efficiently, confidently and cost-effectively.

8. See research tools and techniques in action. Some concepts are easier shown than told. Family Tree University courses integrate photos, screen shots and even video demos into the lessons to enhance your learning experience.

9. You can save class materials for future reference. Each lesson and reading assignment is available as a PDF download, so that even after your course session concludes, you can keep all the materials to refer to later.

10. You'll make research progress. Our classes incorporate exercises that allow you to practice techniques and apply what you've learned to your own family history work.

Be sure to watch our "crash course" video to see a demonstration of how our courses work.


Family Tree University | Research Tips | Videos
Thursday, June 24, 2010 10:30:10 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, June 23, 2010
French Canadian Roots? Search the Drouin Collection Free June 24-26
Posted by Diane

Got French Candian ancestors? You’ll be thrilled to know that subscription genealogy site Ancestry.ca (the Canadian sister to Ancestry.com) is making its Drouin Collection—best available French Canadian genealogy resource—free for three days from June 24-26.

See the full Ancestry.ca announcement on Dick Eastman’s Genealogy blog. The freebie celebrates Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, a national holiday of Quebec on June 24. You’ll need a free Ancestry.ca registration to access the records.

(Note that the Drouin collection also is on Ancestry.com, but isn’t being made free there.)

The Drouin Collection has millions of names from family books of the Drouin Genealogical Institute, founded in 1899. Information comes from Quebec vital and notarial records, Acadian Catholic church records, Ontario Catholic church records and early US French Catholic church records. The collection dates from the beginning of European settlement to the 1940s, documenting many Quebec families over three centuries.

Want more information on researching your French  Canadian ancestors? See the French Canadian research guide in the June 2006 Family Tree Magazine, available as a digital download from ShopFamilyTree.com. (Family Tree Magazine Plus members can access the guide on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.)


Ancestry.com | Free Databases | French Canadian roots
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 1:10:44 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Tried the Free FamilySearch Record Databases Lately?
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch sent out an announcement that it’s added millions of names and digital images in 29 collections at the FamilySearch Record Search Pilot Site.

The same content is searchable at FamilySearch Beta, where a new interface and search options are being tested. Click Show Advanced to see all the search fields, which include birth and death year and place, as well as information about parents and spouse. You also can add year ranges designate search terms as exact.

I searched for the same ancestor on both sites, and the beta site seemed to do a better job of weeding out irrelevant results.

Many of the new records are international, comprising church, civil registration or census records from Costa Rica, France, Hungary, Mexico and Spain. In addition, the 1910 US census index grew by nine more states.

In all, the site has 428 record collections and counting. You can see them listed both on the Record Search Pilot and on FamilySearch Beta site.

You can get help using the genealogical resources of FamilySearch on FamilyTreeMagazine.com:


FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 12:42:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Here's to the First Decade ... and Many More!
Posted by Diane

As Family Tree Magazine approached its 10th anniversary in 2010, podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke decided it was time to invite back frequent contributor David Fryxell for a behind-the-scenes look at the magazine’s first decade. Cooke wrote this post about their conversation:

As the founding editor, Fryxell couldn’t help but get a little nostalgic about Family Tree Magazine’s early years and vast amount of ground covered since.
 
In Family Tree Magazine Podcast Episode 20, Fryxell explained the difficulties staff faced in getting the magazine off the ground—starting with the lack of a good, compiled list of genealogists to mail to. But thankfully word spread and interest grew quickly.
 
Fryxell summed up his feelings about the expanding reach of the magazine this way: “It’s really been gratifying to see over the years how many people it has helped. People are still excited to discover the magazine!”

And that is so true. I experienced that just last week at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. My Genealogy Gems Podcast booth was set up next to the Family Tree Magazine booth, and there were plenty of newbies whose eyes lit up when they discovered free podcasts and a magazine passionately devoted to family history.
 
While articles, graphics and fonts change over the years, Fryxell is confident that some things never change. “The mission was and continues to be to provide you with the tools to make progress in your family history.”
 
But in this high-tech, online world, what does the future hold for a print magazine? Fryxell is confident that with its mission still firmly in place, Family Tree Magazine has much more to offer now and well into the future.
 
“The print medium serves as an entry point to all the stuff that’s online. Family Tree Magazine can show you how to find useful sites and useable search results!” Fryxell declares.
 
I couldn’t agree more. With thousands—if not hundreds of thousands—of genealogy websites, it’s more important than ever to have a trusted friend who can help you sift through all the noise and get to the information that will provide genealogical success.
 
And with the Family Tree Magazine Podcast, we like to think we're giving that trusted friend another voice.
 
Thanks for listening!
 
Lisa Louise Cooke is the voice of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast, as well as an instructor for Family Tree University, writer for the magazine, and publisher of the new DVD Google Earth for Genealogy, available at ShopFamilyTree.com.

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Family Tree Magazine articles | Podcasts
Tuesday, June 22, 2010 1:43:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, June 21, 2010
A Look at the New Land Ownership Maps on Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site Ancestry.com recently added a collection of US land ownership maps—about 1,200 county land ownership atlases digitized from microfilmed at the Library of Congress. The atlases come from 20 states and date between 1860 and 1918.

Maps show land parcels labeled with owners’ names. They vary in appearance depending on when and where they were published. This one shows Van Buren Township, Ind., in 1914.



You can search the collection by state, county, year or owner’s name. When you click to view an image, it may take awhile to hunt for the name you need (use the magnifying glass in Ancestry.com's record viewer to enlarge the image).

Once you find a relative's parcel, look at the other names. You may see names of people who’ve appeared as witnesses on family documents, or families who’ve married into yours. If you can determine when your ancestor purchased the land, you can contact the county (usually, the county clerk or the recorder's office) to request a deed of sale.

It helps to have a good idea of where an ancestor lived and when he owned land before you search this database. The maps offer no identifying information about the landowners, so if you just search on an ancestor to see if he shows up, you may have a hard time deciding if a match is the right person.

The M. Reuter who owns land at the top of the above map may be a relative of mine (I’m guessing my great-grandfather’s brother).


I found the family in the 1920 census ...



but then I realized I have other work I need to get done today. I’ll let you know what I find out about this.

In the mean time, you can learn more about how to find your ancestors' land records in these resources from Family Tree Magazine:

Ancestry.com | Land records
Monday, June 21, 2010 1:38:46 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, June 18, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: June 14-18
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch has added records from Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Spain, and the United States to its Record Search Pilot site and Beta Search site. US additions include indexes to the 1910 census for several states, Massachusetts death records, Minnesota probate court wills.
  • Michigan residents can access state history-related documents (such as personal narratives, memoirs, pamphlets and political speeches) and historical essays through Gale’s collection Michigana, Sources in U.S. History Online, available as part of Michigan eLibrary. (Some eLibrary material is accessible to only those who log in with a Michigan library card, driver’s license or state ID.)


FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Friday, June 18, 2010 2:55:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Make a Family History Book
Posted by Grace

Have you thought about creating a book about your family but didn't know where to start? One of our new Family Tree University classes, Creating a Family History Book, takes you step-by-step through the process!

Instructor Nancy Hendrickson gives you advice for determining a theme, collecting the information you need for the book and putting the whole thing together. She's also got tips for great family interviews:
Anecdotes are the heart and soul of interviews—they are those wonderful little stories we all love reading. But how do you get those anecdotes? Author John Brady writes, "If he says, 'I owe my 40 years of marriage to absolute understanding and compatibility,' ask him, 'What do you mean by understanding and compatibility? Can you give me some examples?'"
 
Asking follow-up questions is important because it lets the subject know you're genuinely curious and interested in what they’re saying. Although you have a prepared list of questions, don't be afraid to follow one of your subject's comments off into unexpected territory. 
 
If this is your first interview, you may feel nervous and awkward. Take heart. You'll improve with practice. When you think the interview is over, ask one last question: "Is there anything else I should have asked you?" You'll be surprised at the great information this question elicits.
This class starts Monday, June 21 and lasts for four weeks. It's self-paced, so you can work on the exercises and your book project whenever it's convenient for you, and Nancy will give you personalized feedback on your work! You can download a copy of the syllabus here and sign up for the class here.


Celebrating your heritage | Family Tree University
Friday, June 18, 2010 10:07:17 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Stuck? Tips From Our Brick Wall-Busting Webinar
Posted by Diane

If you didn’t make Tuesday’s Brick Wall Busters webinar, you missed out on some great advice from David Allen Lambert, online genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). Over the course of the hour, David tackled the research challenges attendees threw at him. Just a few of the helpful tidbits he shared:
  • When you get stuck in the early 1800s, make the last known county your adopted home—that is, camp out with the microfilmed deeds, probates and other records for that place and look at all the people with your ancestral surname.
  • Middle names came into common usage around the 1790s. If you see earlier folk recorded with middle names in compiled genealogies or other family charts, be suspicious of their accuracy.
  • Have a New England immigrant who didn’t naturalize? Many New England tombstones have the deceased’s specific places of origin inscribed on them.
  • If you suspect an ancestor died at sea, look for a “cenotaph”—a memorial (e.g., marker) for a deceased person whose body is not at that site.

  • Military pensions provide much useful detail about your ancestors, but generally won’t name a soldier’s parents.
Hear all of David’s insightful tips and strategies in the on-demand Brick Wall Busters webinar recording, available now on ShopFamilyTree.com.

And be sure to check out the NEHGS Online Genealogist Question of the Day.


Genealogy societies | Research Tips | Webinars
Friday, June 18, 2010 9:35:04 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, June 17, 2010
4 Genealogical Questions You Always Wanted to Ask ...
Posted by Diane

While hosting the Family Tree Magazine Podcast, Lisa Louise Cooke has discovered answers to some burning genealogical questions. She shares them in this post:
 
As I continue my trek down Family Tree Magazine Podcast memory lane, I’m struck by how many talented and knowledgeable people I’ve had the good fortune to interview. Even better, I get to ask those questions that are on all of our minds:
  • How did the DeadFred photo-reunion website get its name? 

  • Can you get copies of materials from the Library of Congress (LOC) without being there in person? 

  • If I get my DNA tested, does that mean the FBI can look at my profile and compare it to criminal cases?

  • How many DNA markers should I have tested?
Inquiring minds want to know, and on the Family Tree Magazine Podcast, I do my best every month to find out!
 
In the July 2009 podcast episode, DeadFred.com founder Joe Bott spilled the beans behind that wacky website name. “Sometimes you need a hook to get people’s attention!” he said. He came up with the name while looking at an old photograph of the deceased Frederick the Great, King of Prussia.

That catchy name coined back in 1998 has lured thousands of people to post their mystery photographs, resulting in over 1,500 photos being reunited with their families in the past 10 years. Bottom line: DeadFred works! (Learn more about online photo sharing in our Photo Sharing 101 webinar recording.)
 
The question about getting copies of LOC materials was front and center in my mind after I heard James Sweeny, an LOC reference services librarian for 20-plus years, reveal some impressive stats:
  • The LOC is the largest library in the world.

  • It has more than 60,000 genealogies from around the world.

  • It has 20 million cataloged books.

  • Its unmatched US city directory collection covers 1,200 cities, towns and counties across the country.

  • The library building  has 20 reading rooms.
In the September 2009 podcast episode, Sweeny encourages listeners to check out the LOC website and use the “Ask the Librarian” feature. It turns out that staff will make a limited number of complimentary (yes, free!) copies and mail them to you. This is great when you need to check a book's index or look up a surname in a hard-to-find city directory. If you need a lot of copies, you can arrange the service for a fee without ever leaving home. 
 
Another little-known fact about the LOC's mostly non-circulating collection:  Many of its genealogies and local histories are also available on microfilm, which does circulate to your local library. Again, check the online catalog and ask a librarian for more information.
 
And finally, Dusty Rhoades of DNA testing service and social networking site GeneTree answers that nagging question about DNA testing and criminal cases in the November 2009 podcast episode.
 
“Genealogy DNA testing can’t tie you to the scene of a crime,” says Rhoades. That's because genetic genealogy tests and forensic DNA tests look at different parts of the chromosome.
 
Another common question is “how many markers should I test?” Rhoads recommends between 33 and 46. Testing only 12 markers can lead to false positives. And though a connection may appear strong with 33 markers, testing 46 markers may show it’s not as strong as it looks. 
 
And of course, when it comes to DNA, it’s a case of the more the merrier.
“The more people who get involved, the easier it is for us to find you matches” says Rhoades. (Find more genetic genealogy answers in the December 2009 Family Tree Magazine's Complete Guide to Genetic Genealogy.)
 
When it comes to questions, the Family Tree Magazine Podcast has answers!  And because it’s pre-recorded, you can find the answers today and well into the future. Got a burning genealogical question you'd like to hear about in the podcast? E-mail it to us!

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy | Libraries and Archives | Photos | Podcasts
Thursday, June 17, 2010 9:18:43 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]