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# Sunday, October 24, 2010
FamilySearch Research Wiki
Posted by Diane

Another Diane—FamilySearch genealogical community services manager Diane Loosle—talked about the FamilySearch Research Wiki at last week's blogger day. The wiki is where where FamilySearch consultants and other genealogists have contributed articles about genealogy research topics and related Family History Library holdings (a wiki is a site to which anyone can add or edit an article).

The wiki, available in Spanish and Swedish in addition to English, has had 5.5 million page views and 1.25 million unique visitors since its launch in 2008.

Loosle talked about a few special projects, including:

  • Tennessee genealogists beefed up the Tennessee pages before the summer’s Federation of Genealogical Conference in Knoxville 

See more projects here

You can use the wiki by typing a search term—such as a place you’re researching, a war your ancestor fought in, or a type of genealogical record—into the search box on the home page. You also can use the Browse by Country link to find articles about your ancestral homeland; many articles link to related records on the FamilySearch Beta site or listings in the Family History Library Catalog.

For help getting started, click the Tour link on the wiki home page.

(See my blogger's day disclosure in this post.)


FamilySearch
Sunday, October 24, 2010 4:30:05 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, October 22, 2010
Inside FamilySearch Online Records
Posted by Diane

You’ve probably used the record search on FamilySearch Beta, the site where Familysearch is putting digitized records and volunteer-created indexes to those records. At the FamilySearch blogger’s day yesterday, I got a look inside this process.

In 1998, FamilySearch started digitizing the 2.4 million rolls of microfilm and 1 million microfiche in its Granite Mountain vault (where film and fiche masters are preserved). More than a third of those records have been digitized.

Of the records in the vault, 1.1 percent have been published as online images at the FamilySearch beta site. Beta site indexes cover 2.6 percent of the records in the vault. 

Why the gap between the number of records FamilySearch has and the number published online? Copyright.

FamilySearch doesn’t own the vast majority of all those records, but has negotiated agreements with each record-holding repository to microfilm and provide access to the records through the Family History Library. Once technology opened up the possibility of online access, FamilySearch began renegotiating with all those repositories for digital rights.

The initiative to index the digitized records began in 2006. So far, more than 375,000 volunteers have indexed 300 million names.

Depending on the agreement FamilySearch can negotiate, you may get free online access to both the record images and indexes, to just the indexes with links to the original repository to see the record (sometimes for a fee), or to just the images. If you need the records that fall into one of the latter groups, see if you can get broader access by using the computers at a Family History Center.

Besides the vault, other sources of records include genealogical societies and archives who can provide both access to the records and volunteers to index them, as well as agreements with commercial entities such as Footnote.com and FindMyPast.co.uk.

The indexing goal for 2010 is 200 million names, with 148 million indexed so far. (Last year, 139 million names were indexed.) One of the biggest challenges is a need for more indexers who read non-English languages.

To provide records access as quickly as possibly, FamilySearch often will add record images to the beta site, even if the index isn’t completed. You can browse those record images by date and place.

You can learn more about being a volunteer indexer and see what projects are underway at the FamilySearch Indexing site.

(See my blogger's day disclosure in this post.)


FamilySearch | Free Databases
Friday, October 22, 2010 9:52:58 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, October 21, 2010
FamilySearch Bloggers' Day
Posted by Diane

You might’ve read on the blogosphere that FamilySearch is hosting a bloggers’ day at its Salt Lake City headquarters, with about a dozen genealogy bloggers in attendance and one on the phone (you can see their tweets on Twitter with hashtag #FSBlogDay).

Most of what was covered was context: a look at the changes in FamilySearch products and services over the last few years, and what direction future developments might take. Over the next few days, I’ll share what I’ve learned that'll be especially helpful to you.

Sometimes it’s helpful to have an overview. You might be using parts of the FamilySearch website in your research right now, but not know that other parts exist. Eventually, all the parts will be integrated into one site where it’s easier to move from one to another, but for now, here are the parts and where to find them:

  • “Classic” FamilySearch: This familiar site has Ancestor File, the International Genealogical Index and other pedigree databases, the Social Security Death Index, the Family History Library Catalog, research outlines, and more.
  • FamilySearch Record Search Pilot Site: For a few years, this is where Familysearch was publishing its digitized records and volunteer-created searchable indexes. The site is still there and will remain for awhile, but new records are no longer being added. Instead, those new digitized records are being added to …
  • FamilySearch Beta: This is where new FamilySearch features are being incorporated, and it’ll be the main FamilySearch site in the future. Right now, it has all of FamilySearch’s digitized records and the volunteer-created searchable indexes, searchable family trees, plus links to FamilySearch online classes, the Research Wiki (with articles you can search for genealogy advice), a new version of the Family History Library Catalog, a Family History Center search and a FamilySearch news blog.
  • Forums: I just learned about this resource--post your research questions here, and genealogists (including Family History Library or Family History Center consultants) lend their expertise. No need to register if you don’t want to.
  • FamilySearch Indexing: FamilySearch has mobilized volunteers around the world to help index its digitized genealogy records. Here is where you can join the volunteer effort and see what projects are in the works.
  • “New” FamilySearch: This is a place (eventually to be called FamilySearch Family Trees) where users can post and collaborate on family trees. It’s currently available only to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as kinks are worked out. We got a look at some of the kinks, which include how to reconcile differences in trees for the same family.

Of course, FamilySearch also has the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the branch Family History Centers (also called FamilySearch Centers).

In the interest of full disclosure: FamilySearch covered travel expenses and meals for participants in the bloggers’ day. There were no agreements regarding whether or how any bloggers would cover the event.


FamilySearch
Thursday, October 21, 2010 11:25:08 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Ancestry.com-Footnote Deal Closes
Posted by Diane

I just wanted to point you to this blog post from Footnote about the official closure of Ancestry.com's purchase of Footnote's parent company, iArchives. From the post:
"You may be curious about how this deal affects members of Footnote.com? The plan is to continue to run Footnote.com the way we have always run Footnote.com—continuing to do what we believe is best for our brand, our customers, and our business."
That'll be reassuring to those concerned about the effects of the deal on Footnote. The post adds that "we are excited to leverage some of Ancestry.com’s resources and expertise to take Footnote.com to the next level."

You can read the full post on Footnote's blog.


Ancestry.com | Footnote | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, October 21, 2010 9:59:28 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Fun Facts From the December 2010 Family Tree Magazine
Posted by Diane


Here are a few of the things you’ll learn from the December 2010 Family Tree Magazine, just out on newsstands (it’s available from ShopFamilyTree.com both in print and as a digital download):


  • In the early 1900s, lamination—now an archival no-no—was a celebrated new tool at repositories nationwide. Thousands of historical documents were laminated, including the Emancipation Proclamation. Find out how archives are working with these documents in the December 2010 Genealogy Insider column. 
  • About 125,000 US troops, both Army regulars and new volunteers, served in the Philippine Insurrection from 1899 to 1902. The 1900 US census has information on military personnel stationed in the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

    Read more in our December 2010 guide to records from America’s lesser-known military conflicts. 
  • The Washington State Digital Archives holds more than 90 million records, with 28 million searchable online. Find more state genealogy resources in our guide to 75 of the best state sites for genealogy research (also online). 
  • The Irish National Museum has a firkin of butter buried in a peat bog (once a common storage practice) in the late-17th or eary-18th century. The grayish substance no longer resembles butter. Brush up on butter in the December 2010 History Matters column. 
  • To help kids learn about your family’s genealogy, you can get Hearth Song’s stick-on family tree wall mural to personalize with relatives’ names and photos. Get more kid-friendly genealogy ideas in the December 2010 article Legacy Lessons.
  • Some 250,000 Scots-Irish are thought to have arrived in the United States between 1717 and the American Revolution, with later waves in the 1740s, around 1754, and between 1771 and 1775. Many headed for central Pennsylvania, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and the Carolinas, eventually migrating into and across the Appalachians.
Learn how to trace these ancestors (also called Ulster Scots) in our December 2010 guide to Scots-Irish Roots.
  • Most PCs come with Window Movie Maker, which makes it easy to turn digital photos and videos into family movies. See a tutorial in the December 2010 Toolkit.

Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy for kids | Genealogy Web Sites | Historic preservation | Military records | Social History | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 12:15:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Ancestry.com Launches Ancestry Labs, Person View
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.com has launched a new section of its site called Ancestry Labs, a website similar to FamilySearch Labs and Google Labs, where Ancestry.com can test ideas and gather your feedback on them.

You can see a demo of how Ancestry Labs works here. Leave feedback by using the green Feedback tab on the left side of the Ancestry Labs site.

“The projects we place in this area are likely to be early prototypes, and although some of them may make their way into the main Ancestry.com site, some may not,” reads Ancestry.com’s announcement.

The first idea at Ancestry Labs, called “Person View,” includes two components: 

  • Web Records: This feature searches for your ancestor on the internet, shows you basic information (name, date and place) from web pages mentioning your ancestor, and links you to those pages. Sites searched include free databases such as the Western States Marriage Record Index. In a demo in August, project manager Brian Hansen said Ancestry.com is attempting to avoid duplication by not searching the same collections that are already included in Ancestry.com databases.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Ancestry.com offered a similar search in the maligned Internet Biographical Collection, which was pulled down shortly after its introduction in August 2007 amid copyright and other concerns. The difference is that the Internet Biographical Collection actually cached web pages’ content and displayed the results on Ancestry.com, so traffic wasn’t directed to the site and the content’s creator wasn’t credited. 

Ancestry.com is hoping to avoid the same mistakes with the new Web Records view. “In providing access to these, it’s very important to us that we are respectful to the publishers of these websites,” the announcements says. “We will always strive to follow web industry standards for website crawling permissions ... We will put in place processes to remove the content from our search if the website/content owner requests, with the goal of doing this as quickly as possible. We will clearly publish how to contact our team to do this.”

  • Person Consolidation: This way of viewing Ancestry.com search results groups matches by person, rather than just listing each result. The search algorithm decides whether records are for one person, and your results show a person’s name with links to categories of records—Ancestry Records, Family Trees (with no living people included) and Web Records—for that person. Click one of those links to see more links to view each record in that category. The search results also list a person’s family members, and you can click these names to see that family member’s records. 

Person View gives you just the first 10 matches to your search. The advantage is that it Person View simplifies your search results, but the algorithm can make mistakes by grouping together records for two different people, or displaying one person as two different people.

Here’s my first PersonView search for Henry Seeger:

And the first match, which consolidates content about Henry Seeger from 15 Ancestry.com family trees (no Ancestry Records or Web Records were found for this Henry). It lists people the search engine believes to be in Henry's family (I'd have to look at each tree and decide whether I think they're all really related to Henry). Clicking on a name, such as Henry’s son Charles, will perform a new search for that person.

Clicking on Henry’s name brings up a timeline of events from those trees, with a little map showing places mentioned in the trees: 

Links on the right bring up information about each tree and let you save the event to your tree:

If your matches contain Ancestry Records, the timeline will link to information from the record (a WWI Draft Registration card, in the case below, was the source for a February, 1873 birth date): 

Web Record matches bring up similar basic information, with a link to the site that has the record (you can't yet save Web Records to your Ancestry tree): 

Click Comments to let us know what you think of Ancestry Labs and Person View.


Ancestry.com
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 8:06:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Monday, October 18, 2010
Got Ancestors From Oakland County, Michigan?
Posted by Diane

The clerk’s office in Oakland County, Mich., has added an online genealogy search with an index of marriage and death records back to 1941. Older records will be gradually added.

Home to the city of Pontiac, Oakland County is just north of Detroit and considered part of the Detroit metro area.

You can search by name and the year of marriage or death if you know it. Marriage record matches give the couple’s names and marriage date; death record matches show the person’s name and date of death.

If you find an index entry for an ancestor, you can click to order a copy of the record ($15 for the first copy, $5 for additional copies, plus a $5 “enhanced access fee” for online orders).

If your ancestor married or died in Oakland County between 1935 and 1941, you can order records from the clerk’s office online even though they’re not yet in the index. If the marriage or death occurred before 1935, you must order records by mail or in person.

Oakland County also has birth records, but Michigan birth certificates created less than 100 years ago are restricted to all but the person named in the record and his or her parents. However, according to the state vital records office website, “an heir may request a copy of a birth record less than 100 years old if they can provide an out-of-state death certificate, or the death information if it was a Michigan death, with the request.” 


Free Databases | Vital Records
Monday, October 18, 2010 4:57:31 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, October 15, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Oct. 11-15
Posted by Diane

We’ve got a host of announcements in this week’s roundup:
  • BackupMyTree, the free genealogy file back-up service that debuted last month, has added support for Reunion for Mac. Although the BackupMyTree software still works with only Windows, users of any operating system can manually upload files—now including Reunion files—through their web browser. Next week, BackupMyTree will add support for The Master Genealogist software, as well as a feature that allows users to include and exclude files in bulk.
  • Genetic genealogy testing company GeneTree is offering two new services designed to help you maximize your genetic genealogy testing efforts. If you buy a DNA Makeover report ($14.95), GeneTree staff will translate your Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA results from another lab into a GeneTree profile. For the Family Tree Diagnostic Service (also $14.95), a GeneTree consultant will review your family tree to find relatives you should consider having tested and what tests they should take to help you achieve your research objectives.
  • Leland Meitzler, organizer of the Salt Lake Christmas Tour annual research trip to Salt Lake City, announced that genealogy technology and social networking expert Thomas MacEntee will present eight classes during this year’s tour. A few topics are Building a Research Toolbox, Facebook for Genealogists, Build a Genealogy Blog, and Twitter: It Isn’t Just “What I Had For Breakfast” Anymore. The tour takes place Dec. 5 through 11, and you can register here
  • The Pennsylvania State Archives will close from Monday, Oct. 18 through Feb. 3 of next year for renovations. The $250,000 project will expand and modernize the lobby and public research areas. (Plans are still in place, though, to eventually replace the facility, which has water leaks and lacks environmental controls and fire suppression system.) Staff will continue to respond to telephone, e-mail and postal inquiries during the closure. You can download the press release as a PDF from the archives’ website.

Ancestry.com | census records | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | Genetic Genealogy | Libraries and Archives | Webinars
Friday, October 15, 2010 3:39:31 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, October 14, 2010
Discover Your Roots With Us!
Posted by Diane


Are you (or is someone you know) somewhere near the starting line of a genealogy journey? Especially for you, we’ve put together a 132-page getting-started “bookazine” guide called Discover Your Roots.



Articles cover everything you need to know when you begin your family history search:
  • filling out forms
  • calculating cousin relationships
  • myths to avoid
  • choosing genealogy software
  • using popular websites
  • researching at the library, courthouse and cemetery
  • using genetic genealogy
... and more. (You can see the whole list of articles at ShopFamilyTree.com.)

The guide also has a starter kit of 14 essential genealogy forms, plus a decorative, fold-out family tree you can fill in and frame. Even better, your purchase includes several money-saving bonuses:
  • a seven-day free membership to Family Tree Magazine Plus
  • a seven-day free trial to genealogy records site Archives.com
  • $25 off a Family Tree University course
  • 15 percent off a purchase at ShopFamilyTree.com
See page 1 of Discover Your Roots for details on redeeming these discounts.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Family Tree University | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Thursday, October 14, 2010 9:30:39 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 13, 2010
October 2010 Family Tree Magazine Podcast Just Posted
Posted by Diane

This just in: the October 2010 Family Tree Magazine podcast is now available for listening! Here’s what host Lisa Louise Cooke has in store for you in this episode:
  • Allison Stacy, Family Tree Magazine’s publisher and editorial director, fills you in on Family History Month events
  • Get started paring down your collection of papers with tips from online editor Grace Dobush on what to keep and what to toss.
  • Lisa and I talk about Ancestry.com's acquisition of iArchives, Footnote.com’s parent company, and some questions genealogists are asking.

You can listen to the Family Tree Magazine Podcast in iTunes and on FamilyTreeMagazine.com. You can get the show notes on our website, too.


Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Ancestry.com | Footnote | International Genealogy | Podcasts | Research Tips | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 1:41:35 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]