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<2010 November>

More Links

# Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Military Research Help on
Posted by Diane

Over the years, Family Tree Magazine has published a slew of articles on researching your military ancestors. To help you learn more about your forebears' service this Veterans Day, I put together a sampling of what’s available on our website.

To find more articles, just type the name of the war into the search box in the upper-right corner of any page or browse our Military Records category

General Military

Specific Wars

Military research articles exclusively for Family Tree Plus members include:

You can find print copies and/or digital downloads of the Family Tree Magazine issues mentioned above at

Family Tree Magazine articles | Military records
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 15:42:59 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0] Adds West Point Application Papers
Posted by Diane

As part of its Veterans Day commemoration, subscription genealogy site has added more than 115,000 cadet application papers from West Point to commemorate Veterans Day. The records are part of the database U.S. Military and Naval Academies, Cadet Records and Applications, 1805-1908

You'll be able to search the records free this weekend: Also for Veterans Day, is making its military records collection free from Nov. 11-14

The West Point Application Papers include applicants’ letters dating from 1805 to 1866 requesting appointment, War Department letters of recommendation and notification if the candidate was accepted, and letters of acceptance from the candidate.

More than 115,000 candidates are named; they include well-known West Point graduates who went on to military careers, such as

  • William Tecumseh Sherman, who became a Union general in the Civil War

  • Thomas J. Jackson, a Confederate commander who was nicknamed “Stonewall” at the Battle of Chancellorsville

  • George Pickett, who resigned from the US Army in 1861 to serve for the Confederacy, and led Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg

  • George Custer, who joined the Union Army after graduating last in his class at West Point | Military records
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 14:57:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogists Join to Build a Better GEDCOM
Posted by Diane

In an effort to “build a better GEDCOM,” a group of genealogists and programmers have established a wiki workspace called BetterGEDCOM

GEDCOM (for GEnealogy Data COMmunication) is the language genealogy software programs use to communicate with each other—when you export family data from your genealogy software, you create either a file native to that program or a GEDCOM file that other genealogy programs and websites can read.

(Get help creating a GEDCOM from's free GEDCOM Basics article.)

But the GEDCOM file format has some shortcomings—one being that it hasn’t been updated in 14 years.

“In the meantime, genealogists have incorporated tools with expanded capabilities reflecting changing technology," says Russ Worthington, a genealogy lecturer and software “power user.”

GEDCOM files you export from your genealogy software may leave out some of your research. “The current GEDCOM file exchange strips out much of my hard work, leaving only some of the data I've typed and attached to each well-documented ancestor,” says genealogy blogger DearMYRTLE. “We experience similar problems when uploading and downloading our genealogy data with popular genealogy websites."

More GEDCOM problems are pointed out in this DearMYRTLE blog post.

The BetterGEDCOM wiki allows genealogy software programmers, website developers and end users to collaborate on developing better data exchange standards. Organizers hope this will facilitate sharing between researchers who use a variety of technology platforms, genealogy products and services. 

"We also seek to account for language and cultural differences as we develop data standards for recording family history information." says Greg Lamberson, the technician who developed the wiki’s initial pages. "Input from BetterGEDCOM participants the world over is a vital component."

BetterGEDCOM plans to codify standards, giving genealogy software developers a framework to resolve problems, and will seek recognition by international standards organizations.

Click here to visit the BetterGEDCOM wiki; the “Where do I start?” section on the home page and the “What is BetterGEDCOM?” link on the left are good places to begin. Anyone can join the effort—just click Join at the top to register.

Confused by computer file formats? Consult our free computer file format glossary on to learn what your mystery file is.

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Tech Advice
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 09:35:46 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 09 November 2010
WWII Research Resources for Veterans Day
Posted by Diane

A Facebook friend I went to high school with e-mailed me this morning about the few hundred letters she has that her grandparents exchanged during World War II. Her grandfather wrote about the countries he visited, and referred to his buddies from the local saloon who also were in the service. What a treasure! She wanted to know how to research her grandfather’s service and learn about the people mentioned in the letters.

World War II can be a bit harder than other wars to research because many records are still closed due to privacy concerns. Some resources I suggested include:

  •’s 1942 “Old Man’s” draft cards, Navy cruise books, missing in action reports and other WWII records. I was glad to be able mention's Free Access Weekend for its military records in honor of Veterans Day.
  • Footnote’s WWII missing air crew reports, submarine patrol reports, Pearl Harbor muster rolls and other WWII records. 
  • The Veterans Administration searchable Nationwide Gravesite Locator  has burial information on veterans and, in some cases, their descendants, in VA cemeteries and state and local veterans cemeteries.
  • The WWII National Memorial Registry, which combines four other databases: those buried in American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) overseas military cemeteries, those memorialized on ABMC Tablets of the Missing, those listed on official War and Navy Department Killed in Service rosters , and those who’ve been enrolled in the memorial’s Registry of Remembrances. (You also can search ABMC WWII databases here.)

You’ll find sources and strategies for researching military ancestors in these resources from

Military records
Tuesday, 09 November 2010 12:58:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Search Military Records Free Nov. 11-14
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy website is making its military records collection free from Nov. 11 through the 14th in honor of Veterans Day this Thursday. (You’ll need to sign up for a free registration in order to view your search results.)

This is the ad about the Free Access Weekend in the December 2010 Family Tree Magazine, now available on newsstands.

You'll get access to, among other records, Revolutionary War Rolls, the Union Civil War Pension Index, WWI draft registration cards (which you’ll want to search for male relatives born between 1872 and 1900, whether or not they served), WWII Missing in Action or Lost at Sea reports, and the US Army Register of Enlistments 1798-1914. | Military records
Tuesday, 09 November 2010 12:41:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 05 November 2010
What Genealogy Class is for You?
Posted by Grace

Just for fun on a chilly Friday afternoon: We created a fun genealogy quiz that will tell you what kind of genealogist you are and what classes can help you learn more about tracing your family!

Click here to take the quiz. (Note: The Lady Gaga tickets being offered at the end aren't from us -- it's some kind of automatically generated ad. Sorry to disappoint any Gaga fans. :) )

Family Tree University | Genealogy fun

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:48:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 04 November 2010
Family Tree Maker for Mac Now Available
Posted by Grace has launched the long-awaited Mac version of its Family Tree Maker genealogy software.

The press release states Family Tree Maker 2010 for Mac "is constructed from the bottom up to take full advantage of the Mac platform in terms of technology and user experience," but the features listed are very similar to those in the PC version:
  • searching: Search subscription genealogy site from Family Tree Maker and merge historical records and information you find into Family Tree Maker. You'll need an subscription to view most search results; the software comes with either a free trial or subscription to, depending which you opt to purchase.
  • Multimedia support: You can add photos, documents, audio, video and other media files to the people in your tree. Tools let you scan photos and document images right into your tree.
  • Family books, charts and reports: A strength of Family Tree Maker is the ability to publish attractive family tree charts and books.
  • Slideshows: Create slideshows from photos in your tree
  • Source citation: Standard source templates and other tools to help you cite sources.
  • Migration information: Timelines and interactive maps help you visualize family migrations and other events.
If you're switching from the PC version, you'll be able to transfer files directly into Family Tree Maker 2010 for Mac from Family Tree Maker version 4 through Family Tree Maker 2006. To import files from Family Tree Maker 2008 or a later version, you can use the Windows-based conversion tool included with Family Tree Maker for Mac.

Look for our review of Family Tree Maker for Mac in an upcoming issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Pricing starts at $69.99 at (The PC version starts at $39.95.) You also can pick it up in retail stores, including Apple Stores, Amazon, Best Buy, Office Depot and Office Max.

System requirements include an Intel-based Mac with OSX 10.5.8 or later, 500MB available disk space for installation, and internet access (for web integration).

(Just a reminder -- Family Tree Magazine is not affiliated with Family Tree Maker software.)

If you're in the market for Mac genealogy software, check out the product ratings in the July 2008 Family Tree Magazine, available as a digital download from Get the lowdown on genealogy software for Macs or PCs in's free Software Guide. | Genealogy Software
Thursday, 04 November 2010 09:15:06 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 03 November 2010
Get More From Family Tree Magazine With Plus and VIP
Posted by Diane

Since we introduced our Family Tree Magazine Plus membership a year ago,  this online archive of expert how-to genealogy advice has continued to grow.

Plus members receive:
  • online access to articles from past issues of Family Tree Magazine, right up through the current issue
  • guidance on family history research strategies, finding ancestors in the United States and your ancestral homeland, online genealogy, using a wide variety of genealogical records, preserving family photos and heirlooms, new and improved genealogy resources, and more
  • the convenience of being able to keyword-search this genealogy knowledge base 

(Of course, many of the articles on our site , as well as all the genealogy forms and cheat sheets, are freely accessible by anyone, and we regularly add new free content.) 

If you become a Family Tree Magazine VIP, you get the Plus membership and:

  • a subscription to the print Family Tree Magazine
  • 10 percent off any Family Tree University course registration
  • a 10 percent discount at (log into your store account before you shop)
  • our exclusive Family Tree Toolkit of genealogy forms and a frameable decorative family tree chart. 

Click here for FAQs about the Plus and VIP programs and how to use your membership

Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles | Research Tips
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 09:55:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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]