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<2010 November>

More Links

# Tuesday, 02 November 2010
FamilySearch RootsTech Conference Registration Opens
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch’s new technology-focused genealogy conference, RootsTech, has opened attendee registration at

Organizers of the conference, taking place Feb. 10-12 next year at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, aim to bring together creators and users of genealogy technology to accelerate innovation in the field and “define the future of genealogy.”

FamilySearch RootsTech chair Anne Roach and marketing magazine Anne Harrison, who talked about the event at last month’s Blogger’s Day, say it’ll educate technology users on the best technological practices and applications to use in their research, and educate software developers on the best technological solutions to genealogical problems.

Attendees can improve their genealogical know-how through classes, hands-on workshops, “birds of a feather” discussions and technology demonstrations that cover

  • Using social networking to collaborate as families and genealogical societies
  • Using cameras, scanners, and other preservation devices in your research
  • Using cloud computing
  • Using mobile devices and smartphone applications in your research
  • Handwriting recognition and automated transcription
  • Using web search engines and other finding tools GPS mapping for cemetery research, finding ancestral homes and more
  • Leveraging records digitization and preservation techniques and programs
  • Capturing your research in a range of media, and converting files from medium to medium
  • Understanding new genealogy markets

… and more. Opportunities for dialogue will include an “unconferencing hall” where anyone can give a spontaneous presentation. Roach said there will be classes for the technology novice (though people who have never used a computer might struggle), and the syllabus will indicate which classes best suit which skill sets.

A few sessions will likely be broadcast free on the conference website; in the future, a virtual attendance option might be available.

RootsTech combines the BYU Conference on Computerized Family History, the BYU Technology Workshop, and the FamilySearch Developers Conference into one event.

Registration costs $99 per person until Dec. 31, with a student rate of $35. The regular fee rises to $150 on Jan. 1. Conference hotel rates are $89 per night if you book in time.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events
Tuesday, 02 November 2010 11:19:59 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Tracing Ancestors in Voter Records
Posted by Diane

As you cast your vote today, after you first rejoice over the imminent disappearance of political ads, you may wonder if you can use voter records to track down your ancestors.

Maybe you can. State and local archives and libraries, town halls, and the Family History Library (FHL) may have town or county lists of registered voters or those who paid poll taxes.

Search your ancestral state archives website for voting, and try running a keyword search of the FHL online catalog on the town, county or state name and the word voting. You can rent promising microfilm by visiting your local FamilySearch Center. Subscription website has some voting-related records and digitized books, so if you’re a member, run the same search of its online catalog.

Here are some examples of the records you can find for various states and counties:

  • Every four years from 1803 to 1911, Ohio counted men age 21 and older in various counties to determine voting districts. These quadrennial enumerations are on FHL microfilm and in some local genealogical society collections. An 1863 list of Fallsbury Township voters is part of RootsWeb's free Tax and Voter lists search.
  • Chicago voter records, which can help you substitute for the missing 1890 census, are available for 1888, 1888 to 1890, and 1892, at the FHL, as is a 1937 voter registration list. Lists for 1888, 1890 and 1892 are on
  • The Wyoming state archives’ collection includes poll lists for various counties (type voting into the search box on the home page). You’ll find voting lists for part of Fremont County from 1907 to 1913 on microfiche at the FHL.
You'll find more resources for US counties in the Family Tree Sourcebook: Your Essential Directory of American County and Town Records, available from | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Research Tips
Tuesday, 02 November 2010 09:16:08 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 01 November 2010
Sources for Citing Sources
Posted by Diane

We get plenty of questions around here about citing sources in genealogy research—what sources to cite, how to cite them, where to put all those citations, how to include citations in genealogy software, etc., etc.

That's why I'm pumped about our upcoming Family Tree University class, Source Documentation: How to Cite Genealogy Sources Accurately and Effectively

Source citation can sound complicated, but you'll learn that it's just a way of making sure you—or anyone else—can go back to the original source of the genealogical information you've recorded.

Different kinds of genealogy sources—books, census records, online databases, oral histories—require different citation styles. For books, for example, record the title, author, publisher and location, year of publication, where you found the book, library call number (if applicable), and the pertinent page numbers, like so: “Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo and Erin Nevius, eds., The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists (Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2004), 219-220.”

Our downloadable Source Citation Cheat Sheet has examples of citations for censuses, vital records and other sources. ProGenealogists also has a guide to citing online sources, including databases such as those on

Where you cite sources is important, too. Some genealogists include a full citation on the front of every photocopied record so the citation doesn't get separated from the data. Most genealogy software lets you type in citations or link to a digitized record when you add information to your tree. See our article for advice on adding source citations in your genealogy software

The classic tome on source citation is Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Genealogical Publishing Co.), also downloadable in digital format from

The Family Tree University course Source Documentation: How to Cite Genealogy Sources Accurately and Effectively, taught by Charlotte Bocage and available for the November session (starting Nov. 8), goes into depth about why to cite sources, how to cite them, including them in genealogy software, and using them in the course of your genealogy research.

(To register, click the “view upcoming course schedule” link or the Register link, then scroll down a little to find the Source Documentation course link.)

Family Tree University | Research Tips
Monday, 01 November 2010 15:02:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 29 October 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Oct. 25-29
Posted by Diane

  • British genealogy subscription site has released a collection of records from the Second Anglo-Boer War including details on 260,000 British service members and 59,000 war casualties. The database compiles information from more than 330 sources, and resolves errors and conflicting information in some of those sources. The war was fought from 1899 to 1902 between the British Empire and the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic) and the Orange Free State.
  • The Troy (NY) Irish Genealogical Society has posted the records of Italian midwife Alesandra Matera, who practiced in the Troy area during the early 1900s. The transcribed records span 1909 to 1923 and document mostly Italian births, with some Syrians in later years. You can download the transcriptions as PDFs ordered by the father’s, mother’s or child’s last name (the transcriptions themselves are in chronological order, but you can use the Bookmarks bar in your PDF viewer to see the names in alphabetical order). Originals are in the archives of the Rensselaer County Historical Society.

FamilySearch | Historic preservation | NARA | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 29 October 2010 09:48:40 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 28 October 2010
French Records Free This Weekend at
Posted by Diane

Subscription site, the Canadian sister site to, is celebrating All Saints Day by making many of its historic records from France—roughly 50 million names—free to search from this Saturday, Oct. 30, to Nov. 1. 

This weekend's free records include:

  • Paris, France records, featuring more than 200 years of birth, marriage and death records
  • Marne, and Saone-et-Loire, France, birth, marriage and death collections, which feature vital records spanning nearly 400 years 
  • Upper Brittany, France, records collection, including rare immigration and military records, as well as vital records dating back to the early 1500s
  • Marseilles, France Marriages, 1810-1915, with nearly half a million records

You can see the French records collection and access the free databases (starting Saturday, Oct. 30) at <>. (You’ll need to set up a free registration with the site to view your search results.)

All Saints Day, Nov. 1 in Western Christianity, is a celebration of all the saints. It’s sometimes called All Hallows or Hallowmas. The night before, or “All Hallows Even,” is believed to provide the origin for the word Halloween.

You'll find a French-Canadian genealogy research guide in the June 2006 Family Tree Magazine, available as a digital download from | French Canadian roots | Vital Records
Thursday, 28 October 2010 16:57:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Putting the Ha! in Halloween
Posted by Diane

Put a little ha-ha in your Halloween with the funny tombstone photos in our book Grave Humor, by M.T. Coffin. To quote the book reviewer: “It’ll delight you with its witty jokes, quirky gothic illustrations and funny photos.” Aw, shucks.

This is my favorite stone—we found this unfortunately named lady in a local cemetery.

(See more funny tombstones from the book—and pictures other folks have submitted—at 

And I love our skull-people alter-egos (that's me, fourth from left):

You can get even more skull people in our 2011 Grave Humor Desk Calendar

Grave Humor is available from (Until October 31, you can use the code HISTORY10 to save 15 percent.)

Cemeteries | Editor's Pick | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 10:00:14 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Finding Genealogy Clues in Historical Books
Posted by Diane

Why are historical books important to your research? Because your family didn’t live in a vacuum, says Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Nancy Hendrickson.

I got a sneak peek today at her Historical Books on the Web webinar (taking place tomorrow, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. Eastern time). She says that clues you’ll find in books about the history of the places your ancestors lived include the big events that impacted their lives, what their everyday lives were like and, when you lose their trail, why or where they might've moved.

Some examples of local events you might learn about in historical books:
  • 1848 to 1849 cholera epidemic, which killed 4,000 in New York City
  • 1888 Children’s Blizzard in the Great Plains (so-called because many children were caught unaware in schoolhouses on what had been a relatively warm day)
  • 1869 Indian Raids in Kansas
  • Order No. 11 (a Union Army decree that forced the evacuation of rural areas in four western Missouri counties in 1863)
  • Great Fire of 1846 in Nantucket

You can get started looking for historical books about your ancestral locales by Googling history of [insert the town name], visiting county pages at USGenWeb, searching library catalogs (WorldCat is a good site for doing this) and searching for period books at sites such as Internet Archive and Making of America.

Nancy will get into detail about what you can find in historical books, and where and how to find them, in tomorrow’s webinar, Historical Books on the Web: Millions of Tomes at Your Fingertips. You can register to attend at (you'll receive our new Discover Your Roots guide with your registration)—and use the code HISTORY10 for 15 percent off with our Family History Month storewide sale. Sales | Social History | Webinars
Tuesday, 26 October 2010 15:47:34 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Update on Family History Library and FamilySearch Centers
Posted by Diane

Before there was, there was the Family History Library and its network of FamilySearch Centers (as the library is starting to call its local Family History Centers). Patron Services director Don Anderson gave an update on the network during last week's Blogger's Day.

The Family History Library, located in Salt Lake City, started in 1894 with 11 donated volumes. Today it has the largest genealogy collection in the world, with 330,000 annual visitors and a staff of 700 employees and volunteers.

The library has begun surveying visitors to gauge their satisfaction with their visit. About 63 percent discover an ancestor they set out to find, and 86 percent would recommend visiting the library to a friend. The scores are better for patrons who have more genealogical experience and stay longer in the library—making the biggest area of opportunity, says Anderson, in helping new researchers.

You can borrow the library’s microfilm and microfiche by going to one of the 4,600 volunteer-run FamilySearch Centers around the country, which receive 6 million visits a year.

About 100 FamilySearch Centers are added every year, mostly in Latin America (few are being added in North America). Anderson says FamilySearch is working on a system that’ll let you go online—rather than visiting an FamilySearch Center to fill out a request form—to order microfilm for delivery to your FamilySearch Center (folks in Europe already can do this).

Because the centers are volunteer-run and have different kinds of facilities and resources, visitors will have varied experiences depending where they live. Anderson says he'd like to standardize the services offered in various types of FamilySearch Centers.

Also in the works is a plan to give FamilySearch Centers space on—perhaps the Research Wiki—to list hours, classes and what’s in their permanent collections.

Click here to learn more about visiting your local FamilySearch Center.

See my Blogger’s Day disclosure in this post.

FamilySearch | Libraries and Archives
Tuesday, 26 October 2010 14:24:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 25 October 2010
Inside FamilySearch's "Renovation Project"
Posted by Diane

One of the most interesting parts of the FamilySearch Blogger Day was a talk by Dan Lawyer, the guy in charge of what he termed the “big renovation project” that is the makeover.

“Genealogy is hard” is a conclusion his team reached after studying how genealogists were using FamilySearch. Which isn't news to family historians who've done some research, but Lawyer pointed out three factors that can make it difficult:

  • Life circumstances may not allow people the time or other resources needed to do genealogy.
  • Logistic and technical hurdles, such as getting online and knowing how to use a computer.
  • The way genealogy is often presented to a newcomer can make it appear not-so-engaging.

Do you agree with these findings? Click Comments at the end of this post to let us know.

So the goal for the renovated FamilySearch site—which FamilySearch Beta will become—are:

  • Make genealogy easier.

  • Make the site suitable for beginners and advanced researchers—so you don’t have to be a genealogist to use it, but even advanced researchers will find it useful.

  • Facilitate giving and getting research help on the site, as well as learning how to research.

Though researchers have been using the beta site for months (as of earlier this week, it had 35,000 visitors from 17 countries in October alone), it’s still being tweaked.

User input into the site is spurring improvements in features such as, to name some minor ones: the hard-to-find arrows that let you expand search results (see the tiny gray triangles on the right side of the screen shot below) and the loooooong Advanced search panel on the left side of the search results (it continues beyond this screen shot).

Within the next three to six months, Lawer says, updates will include adjusting search forms, adding browsing filters, boosting the quality of results, and adding how-to content. (Interestingly, but not surprising to me, was the finding that new genealogists don’t look around the site at that how-to content until after they’ve used the search function.)

The Pedigree Resource File from the current will be added to the beta site's Family Trees search, which already contains the Ancestral File.

The beta site will probably become the official FamilySearch site sometime between December and February, Lawyer said. “New” FamilySearch, the online tree-building software available to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, likely won’t become part of the site for some time, as developers work out a way to handle conflicts among different users' trees for the same lines. 

See my Bloggers Day disclosure in this post.

Learn more about "classic" FamilySearch and other popular genealogy websites in our Web Guides digital downloads, available from

FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 25 October 2010 12:29:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Sunday, 24 October 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.)

Sunday, 24 October 2010 16:30:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]