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<2010 July>

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# Thursday, 22 July 2010
Your Unofficial Guide to Webinar: Early Birds Save 20 Percent!
Posted by Diane

Maybe you recently subscribed to genealogy website—or found out your local library offers Ancestry Library Edition—and you’re not sure how to begin on the huge site. Or you’ve found a few records about your ancestors, and you’re wondering if that’s all there is. Or you don’t know how to take advantage of the site’s recent changes to its search function.

At 5 billion records (and counting), can help you unlock valuable information about your family—if you know how to make the most of its record search and other tools. Our next webinar, Your Unofficial Guide to Tips, Hints and Hacks for Finding Your Ancestors, will show you just that. You’ll learn:
• How to navigate
• Tricks for finding databases with the genealogical information you need
• Strategies to locate hard-to-find ancestors in the site’s record collections
• Things doesn't want you to know!
The hour-long webinar, presented by Family Tree Magazine contributing editor David A. Fryxell, is Wed., Aug. 25, at 8 p.m. Eastern (7 Central, 6 Mountain, 5 Pacific).

Sign up now to save 20 percent on your registration. Registration includes:
• Participation in the live presentation and Q&A session
• Access to the webinar recording to view again as many times as you like
• PDF of the presentation slides for future reference
• Bonus handouts
Click here to register for Family Tree Magazine’s Your Unofficial Guide to webinar. | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips | Webinars
Thursday, 22 July 2010 08:37:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 21 July 2010
Is Lindsay the Intern Related to Uncle Sam?
Posted by Diane

You might remember Lindsay, Family Tree Magazine's hard-working summer intern, from last week's introduction. This week, Lindsay investigates her family's supposed connection to Uncle Sam:

I now have 133 (verified) people on my MyHeritage family tree! The most exciting part of my research has been tracing my ancestors back to their homelands. I have discovered that these include, on my father’s side: Italy, Canada (Scotland) and Germany, and on my mother’s side: England, Ireland, Germany and France. It definitely feels like I’m making progress, especially since I hit my first “brick wall” this week! Well, sort of…
I remember that, as a child, I used to tell people I was related to Uncle Sam—you know, the guy on the “I want you” posters. Did I think this would make me popular? I don’t know, but with the exception of a couple retaliatory remarks (“well, I’m related to Abraham Lincoln”), people didn’t really care.

But one incident—that I just can’t forget—is a heated argument I had with a (then) boyfriend on a road trip to Chicago. When I informed him that he was practically dating a celebrity, he told me that I was wrong—I couldn’t possibly be related to Uncle Sam. He went so far as to claim that Uncle Sam wasn’t even a real person!

Well, he is in fact a real man by the name of Samuel Wilson, and he was a meatpacker for the US Army during the War of 1812. So, my goal this weekend was to prove, once and for all that he is, in fact, my ancestor. Easy, right?


Let’s start with the facts: Samuel Wilson was born in Arlington, MA in 1766 and lived in Troy, NY during the War of 1812. He passed away in 1854 (see his grave here on Find-a-Grave). From what I discovered online, he married Betsey Mann and had four children, of which only one (Benjamin) reproduced. Benjamin Wilson (1802-1859) married Mary Wood.

How does this relate to me? In addition to a surplus of unrelated articles about the real Uncle Sam, I was able to dig out a couple of articles from my mom’s genealogy folder. 

In the one above, dated May 16, 1931, William Rudd (my great-great grandfather) states: ”’Uncle Sam’ Wilson had a daughter, Caroline Wilson, who became Mrs. Pierce. Mrs. Pierce had a daughter, Mary, who became Mrs. Rudd—and she was my mother, and thus ‘Uncle Sam’ Wilson was my great-grandfather.”

Wait a minute: Caroline Wilson? This name was not once mentioned in my Uncle Sam research. Furthermore, I read that it was only Sam’s son, Benjamin, who had children. Does this mean my ancestors fabricated this alleged ancestor and are, thus, fame-mongers? 

I have verified that William Rudd’s father was George R. Rudd (b. 1854) and that he married a woman named Mary (b. 1852). All of the information mentioned in the article above is true, except for the father-daughter relationship between Caroline and Sam. 

But, wait!  I uncovered some very interesting information in the 1880 census from Cincinnati, OH. According to the census, George and Mary Rudd were living with Caroline Pierce (“mother”, b. 1823 in New York), Samuel Wilson (“uncle”, b. 1827, New York), and John Wilson (“uncle”, b. 1838, New York).

From this, I assume that Caroline’s maiden name was Wilson and she is somehow related (maybe the sister of) Samuel and John Wilson. But because the dates are so off (this Sam Wilson wouldn’t have even been alive in 1812), it doesn’t make sense. Maybe Caroline and Sam Wilson’s father was named Sam—but still, it is probably not Uncle Sam.

I daresay my Rudd ancestors were simply confusing two people of the same name, from the same state (in genealogy, it apparently happens all the time). Am I missing something, Genealogy Insiders? Is it possible Sam fathered an illegitimate child somewhere? Perhaps, but for now, I will have to break the sad news to my family that no, we are not actually related to Uncle Sam.

Family Tree Firsts | Research Tips
Wednesday, 21 July 2010 14:38:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 20 July 2010
FamilySearch Tests New Version of FHL Online Catalog
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch is beta testing a new interface for the Family History Library catalog. You can try it out on the FamilySearch beta site and provide feedback using the orange Feedback tab on the right.

The Family History Library (FHL) is the largest genealogy collection in the United States. Some of its resources are accessible online through, and you can borrow microfilmed records by visiting an FHL branch Family History Center (FHC). 

Here's the beta catalog search screen:

You’ll like how you click less when you search: Instead of a separate search page for each type of search, you can select the type of search (place name, last name, title, keyword, etc.) you want from a dropdown menu and type in your search terms.

Library holdings matching your search results are displayed in a list, like this:

Filters to the left of the list let you break down results by category (such as birth, marriage and death records; census and voter lists, family trees, military records, etc.), place, availability (online items, or items available from the FHL or FHCs) or language.  

All the record information for an item is on one page. Here's an example:

The title, author, publisher and other basic information is first, followed by “Notes” (a description of the item), the library subjects the item is associated with, then the film notes. (In the current catalog, a link takes you to the film notes—a list of all the microfilm reels in a series and what’s on them—on a separate page.)

That can make for a long catalog page, depending on the item. Some indexing links at the top of the page, so you can jump down to the subjects, film notes etc., would be helpful.

Resources on how to use FamilySearch, from Family Tree Magazine:

FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 20 July 2010 16:09:49 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 19 July 2010
We're Giving Away $250 in Genealogy Gear!
Posted by Grace

Would you like to win $250 in genealogy books, CDs and DVDs? Who wouldn't! Enter our Genealogy Giveaway Sweepstakes by Aug. 31, 2010, and you could be the big winner.

In fact, you can enter every day, so bookmark and try your luck. We'll announce the randomly selected winner in early September. Note: You must be a US resident 18 or older to enter.

Editor's Pick | Genealogy fun
Monday, 19 July 2010 18:29:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
Footnote, LowCountry Africana Partner on SC Slave Records
Posted by Allison

A new genealogy partnership means more online records for researchers with African-American roots.

Subscription website and free records site Lowcountry Africana are starting a new collection of estate inventories and bills of sale for Colonial and Charleston South Carolina from 1732 to 1872.

Estate inventories often name slaves that deceased owners left to heirs. Bills of sale document transactions involving slaves.

So far, just a portion—about 3 percent—of the collection is now searchable free at Footnote.

Lowcountry Africana has established an online volunteer program to create an index for this collection. To learn more about this volunteer program or to sign up to be a volunteer, visit the Lowcountry Africana site.

Charleston was a port of entry for the Atlantic slave trade, so thousands of African Americans may have ancestors who came from, or traveled through, South Carolina.

FamilySearch donated copies of the microfilmed records for digitization. The originals are at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

African-American roots research assistance from Family Tree Magazine:

African-American roots | Footnote | Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 19 July 2010 09:33:06 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 16 July 2010
Genealogy News Corral: July 12-16
Posted by Diane

  • has completed its acquisition of, the leading Swedish family history Web site. acquired all shares of Genline for approximately 53 million Swedish kronor, about $7.2 million.
  • also has updated its New Search screen to add maps you can click to browse data collections associated with a state or county, as well as access to your recent searches and recently viewed data collections. To use these features, click the search tab on’s home page (if you see a New Search link in the upper right, be sure to click it—these updates aren’t in the old search). See more details and screen shots on the blog.

  • British subscription site has made it easier for you to find birth records on the site. More than 100 million records were re-indexed.  Now, your search results will be in a list of individual names, rather than a range, so you won’t have to view pages and pages of records in order to find your ancestor. In the advanced search, you can now search records from one or more counties. Search birth records here. Fully indexed marriage and death records should follow later this year.
  • Subscription site has launched 16.3 million Parisian birth, marriage and death records dating from 1700 to 1907. French is the second most common ancestry in Canada. Use these links to access the records:
Paris, France & Vicinity Marriages, 1700-1907
Paris, France & Vicinity Births, 1700-1899
Paris, France & Vicinity Deaths, 1707-1907 | Canadian roots | Genealogy Industry | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 16 July 2010 13:58:26 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 15 July 2010
Need Programming for a Genealogical Society Meeting? Check Out Family Tree University Webinars
Posted by Diane

Is your genealogical society looking for affordable programming for meetings and workshops? Family Tree University webinars may be the answer.

Family Tree University produces monthly educational webinars on a variety of genealogical topics, such as online census records, military records, the FamilySearch website, heirloom preservation, breaking through brick walls, organizing your research and more.

In response to genealogy groups' questions about showing webinars during their meetings, we've come up with a some options:
  • You can license one of our pre-recorded webinars for as little as $100, depending on the size of your group.

  • You can have a Family Tree University instructor deliver a live webinar (giving your members the opportunity to ask questions) starting at $250.
All you’ll need is access to a computer, projector and screen during your meeting. Check out our selection of Family Tree University webinars here.

You also can commission a webinar on a topic of your choice, or let us hook you up with a Family Tree University instructor for an in-person presentation (prices vary).

E-mail us if you’re interested in Family Tree University genealogical society programming.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Webinars
Thursday, 15 July 2010 09:45:41 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 14 July 2010
JewishGen, MyHeritage Collaborate on Jewish Family Trees Project
Posted by Diane

Genealogy sites JewishGen and and MyHeritage are collaborating to build the Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP) project on JewishGen.

FTJP offers a central resource for storing and finding Jewish family trees as GEDCOM files.

If you build your family tree with a special version of’s free, downloadable family tree software, your tree will be automatically transferred to the FTJP—with your consent.

You can set privacy controls using tools on MyHeritage. Trees of existing MyHeritage users won’t be transferred.

For help using MyHeritage in your genealogy search, see Family Tree Magazine's MyHeritage web guide, available as a digital download from ShopFamilyTreecom.

You'll find guidance on researching Jewish ancestors in our Jewish research guide, also available from

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Jewish roots
Wednesday, 14 July 2010 15:23:50 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Help Finding Your Ellis Island Ancestors!
Posted by Diane

It took me two years to find my great-grandfather in Ellis Island’s passenger database. I finally found him after getting his naturalization papers, then using the arrival date reported in those papers and Steve Morse’s passenger search to browse records by month.

It turns out my ancestor was listed under a short form of his birth name—not the name he used in America—and both he and his wife made themselves two years older.

(You can read the long version of my immigrant ancestor search saga here.)

Almost half of all Americans have a relative who immigrated through Ellis Island, making its passenger records a key source for linking your family tree to the old country. But if your ancestors fibbed, used an unfamiliar name, didn’t arrive when you think they did, or were mistranscribed in the passenger database, you’ll have a hard time finding them. 

Our July 21 webinar will help you overcome these challenges by sharing the secrets to finding your ancestors in a sea of records. Presenter Lisa A. Alzo will show you how to identify Ellis Island immigrants, take you around the website, and demonstrate tools to help you search efficiently.

Click here to register for the live webinar Ellis Island: Find Your Ancestor in a Sea of Online Records.

And we're giving registered attendees $25 off our Family Tree University course Tracing Immigrants: How to Research Your Family’s American Arrivals.

Click here to view all FTU courses.

Editor's Pick | immigration records | Webinars
Wednesday, 14 July 2010 13:57:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Meet Lindsay the Intern!
Posted by Diane

Everyone, please say hi to Lindsay, the Family Tree Magazine intern! As she helps put together magazine issues, books and digital downloads, she’s hoping to learn all about genealogy while gaining experience in the magazine biz.

Lindsay will keep you updated on how her genealogy education is going right here on the Genealogy Insider blog—here’s her first post:
Earlier this year, my mom sent me the following email:

“Lu, you won't believe this, but we are related to Audrey Hepburn! She is my 13th cousin, one time removed! We are also related to a host of other famous people, on my mother's side. Katharine Hepburn is our 4th cousin 2 times removed, Isaac Newton is our 3rd cousin 13 times removed, Howard Hughes is our 8th cousin 1 time removed and then we are related to Edwin Hubble, Ed and John Tilly, more Mayflower passengers, several First Ladies, Jane Austen 8th cousin 5 times removed, Richard Lovelace, another author 5th cousin, 9 times removed, Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Browning 14th cousin, 1 time removed. Anne of Russia, who was an Empress of Russia, Alexandre Dumas is our 12th cousin, 5 times removed.

“Now this is just from my Grandma's Father's side of the family.  We are probably related to some much more amazing people and we will figure it out, eventually.”
Are you thinking, “what a strange and diverse group of relatives”? I didn’t give this message too much thought at the time. I probably said something along the lines of “That’s so neat, Mom! Several First Ladies?” and thought little more of it.
That is, until I joined Family Tree Magazine as its 2010 summer intern. My name is Lindsay Sena and even though I started this internship a month ago, I’m still just beginning to learn the ins-and-outs of genealogy research. I may be fresh out of college, but I realize that it would be nonsensical to pass up the amazing resources at FTM (read: it will be years until I can afford my own subscription to

So last week I finally sat down and began filling out a five-generation chart. Luckily, my mom offered me information that went far beyond five-generations—including one line that a cousin traced all the way back to the 16th century (I hope to verify this—you may see why I have developed a skepticism of this information). Because my family tree was overflowing, I transferred the data to a tree on and have been regularly updating and revising.

It is a privilege to be working at Family Tree Magazine. I understand now why people are so passionate about genealogy; it’s the thrill of unraveling the mystery, which is your unique heritage. I’ve already uncovered some pretty juicy stuff, and I plan to blog at least once a week with my progress.

So, Genealogy Insider readers, as I embark on this genealogy journey, please offer me any suggestions and advice—I can use all of the help I can get!

Family Tree Firsts
Tuesday, 13 July 2010 16:12:22 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]