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# Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Meet Our Family Tree Firsts Blogger!
Posted by Diane

A little while back, we started our search for a newbie genealogist to blog for six months about his or her family research experiences and resources. 

We were thoroughly impressed by all the entries we received, and wish we could pick all of them! The Family Tree Firsts blogger we selected is Nancy Shively of Skiatook, Okla. A genealogist of six months—since she discovered her mom had a brother who died in infancy—she’ll be researching mostly in Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennesse, Indiana and Canada.

Nancy reports she's excited to get started blogging, and adds “I am interested in my female ancestors but also in the military experiences of the men in my family tree. I love walking through old cemeteries. I want to know how my family fit in with larger events and trends in history.”

You can read Nancy’s first blog entry on FamilyTreeUniversity.com

Update: And Nancy's the 1,400th blogger at Geneabloggers! Sweet!


Family Tree Firsts
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 1:32:31 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
"WDYTYA?" Season 2 Debuts Jan 21
Posted by Diane

The genealogy tv show “Who Do You Think You Are?” returns to NBC for its second season Friday, Jan. 21 at 8 pm (7 central), according to the NBC website. It’ll help fill open slots during a mid-season shakeup that'll rearrange the schedule and cancel a few shows. 

No details on which celebrities will trace their roots on air in season 2, but you can see Family Tree Magazine readers’ suggestions on our Forum.


"Who Do You Think You Are?"
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 8:58:38 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, November 15, 2010
Nominate a Genealogy Blog for the 2011 Family Tree 40
Posted by Diane

Genealogy blogs are a great way to find out about new resources, get reviews of websites and software, pick up research tips, and share in others’ family history searches. If you’re the blogger doing the sharing, you’ve probably met some wonderful genealogy folks (and possibly cousins) through your blog.

The May 2010 Family Tree Magazine celebrated this phenomenon with the Family Tree 40, forty genealogy blogs that you all nominated and voted on as the best genealogy blogs. (You can see the 2010 Family Tree 40 list in our free online article.) 

Genealogy blogs are going strong with new ones popping up every day, so we’re doing it again in 2011! You can nominate your favorite genealogy blogs using our online form now through Tuesday, Nov. 30.

When you nominate a blog, you’ll give us the title and URL, optionally tell us why you’re nominating it, and put it into one of these eight categories (a few have changed from last year’s Family Tree 40):

  • Local/regional history and genealogy: blogs focusing on research in a specific county, state or region. Most library and archive blogs, as well as many local historical and genealogical society blogs, would go here.
  • Heritage groups: Blogs focusing on the family history of a specific ethnic, religious or national background (such as African-American, Jewish, Polish, etc.)
  • Research advice and how-to: Blogs that primarily explain how to research, analyze photos or perform various family history tasks. The blogger offers tips, strategies and examples; explains genealogical concepts; and writes about how to use new resources.
  • Cemeteries: These blogs feature content primarily about cemetery research and visiting cemeteries. Many feature tombstone photos and transcriptions, with information about those interred.
  • “My Family History”: Blogs about the blogger’s own roots, including accounts of personal research, their own family photos and heirlooms, stories, recipes, etc.
  • “Everything” blogs: Blogs that cover it all—genealogy news, research advice, opinions, local history, family stories, etc.—go here.
  • New blogs: Was the blog you’re nominating launched during the past year? Categorize it here, even if it would also fit into another category.
  • Technology: Blogs focusing on genealogy websites, software, DNA testing or other aspects of technology as it relates to genealogy.

Thanks to our Family Tree 40 panelists—Genealogy Gems blogger Lisa Louise Cooke, Genea-Musings blogger Randy Seaver, Myrt of the DearMyrtle blog and Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers—for lending their expertise in formulating the blog categories and qualifications.

Family Tree Magazine editors and Family Tree 40 panelists will winnow out any blogs that aren’t qualified (see below) and, if necessary depending how many blogs are nominated, narrow the list of nominees based on the quality of the blogs’ content.

From Dec. 13 to 20, you all will vote on those finalists for the final Family Tree 40 blogs. The Family Tree 40 blogs, featuring five winners per category, will be revealed in the July 2011 Family Tree Magazine.

Qualifying blogs must:

  • be primarily about genealogy.
  • have original content (aggregators featuring posts from other blogs will be disqualified).
  • belong to a private individual or individuals, not to a business (a change from last year’s Family Tree 40). They may not exist primarily to market products.
  • be active, having at least four posts per month for the past three months (or, for blogs newer than three months, four posts per month since the blog has been in existence).
  • contain or link to information about the blogger(s), such as an “About Me” page.
  • not be hosted by a Family Tree 40 panelist or by Family Tree Magazine.

Look for reminders and updates on Facebook; on Twitter (we'll use hashtag #FT40), in the Family Tree Magazine free, weekly e-mail newsletter, and, of course, here on the Genealogy Insider blog.

Nominate a Family Tree 40 blog here

Genealogy bloggers, feel free to add this badge to your blog to encourage voting! You can link it to the nomination form:


Family Tree 40 | Family Tree Magazine articles
Monday, November 15, 2010 12:38:34 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, November 12, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Nov. 8-12
Posted by Diane

It’s been a good week for researchers with British and Canadian roots! In this genealogy roundup:
  • In honor of Remembrance Day, Canadian subscription genealogy site Ancestry.ca has added a huge collection of Canadian WWI death and burial records.
Canada, CEF Commonwealth War Graves Registers, 1914-1919 details the circumstances of death for more than two thirds of the 60,000 Canadian soldiers who fought and died in Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. Canada, CEF Burial Registers, First World War, 1914-1919 details temporary and final resting places of soldiers who died.
  • Ancestry.com and UK website Thegenealogist.co.uk have reached an agreement with the UK national archives to publish the 1911 census of England and Wales, the most recent UK census available to the public. The companies will work together to transcribe the census, creating a searchable database. Ancestry.com will add the records by county, starting in late 2010 and finishing up in 2011. (You can search this census now on subscription site 1911census.co.uk, operated by UK genealogy site FindMyPast.co.uk.) 
  • British genealogy subscription site FamilyRelatives.com has added a million records from post office directories. Similar to phone books, these directories name local people and businesses. The growing collection currently covers more than 25 British counties and major cities, and spans nearly a century. Read more on FamilyRelatives.com.
  • British genealogy website FindMyPast.co.uk is working with FamilySearch to post online indexes and images of Welsh parish registers dating as far back as the 16th century.
FamilySearch will digitize about the images containing baptisms, marriages and burials; FindMyPast.co.uk will transcribe them. Over the next two years, you’ll be able to search a free index on FamilySearch, with the records available for a fee on FindMyPast.co.uk. In Wales, users will be able to access the records free through Welsh Archives Services

Canadian roots | census records | Military records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, November 12, 2010 2:26:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, November 11, 2010
And the Lucky Winner Is . . .
Posted by Diane

A big family history HURRAY! for Kathy Sundquist of Las Vegas, who won our Ultimate Family History Giveaway!

You can see all the cool stuff she won here. Thank you to all our sponsors who are giving Kathy a huge genealogy research boost!


Genealogy fun
Thursday, November 11, 2010 12:00:13 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Discover Military Ancestors With Help From FTU
Posted by Diane


Chances are good you have an ancestor who served in the military, and the service, pension and other records they left behind are rich genealogical resources. 

You can get an in-depth education in how to find and use military records from Family Tree University’s US Military Records Course.

The course lessons cover:

  • Terminology and concepts important to understanding the records
  • An overview of US wars and types of records are available for each
  • How to find records including rosters, muster rolls, compiled military service records, pension records, bounty land warrants, draft registrations—using both online and offline sources Examples of the records discussed 
  • Supplementary military research articles from Family Tree Magazine are included with the course lessons.

You can take this course in two ways:

  • Register for the online course through Family Tree University, and take advantage of the opportunity to interact with instructor Diana Crisman Smith and your fellow students. The November session started Monday (you can register through the end of this week) and lasts five weeks (instead of four) to give you extra time during your holiday preparations.

Family Tree University | Military records
Thursday, November 11, 2010 11:55:27 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Military Research Help on FamilyTreeMagazine.com
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 FamilyTreeMagazine.com 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 ShopFamilyTree.com


Family Tree Magazine articles | Military records
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 3:42:59 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Ancestry.com Adds West Point Application Papers
Posted by Diane

As part of its Veterans Day commemoration, subscription genealogy site Ancestry.com 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, Ancestry.com 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

Ancestry.com | Military records
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 2:57:00 PM (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 FamilyTreeMagazine.com'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 FamilyTreeMagazine.com to learn what your mystery file is.


Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Tech Advice
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 9:35:46 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, November 09, 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:

  • Ancestry.com’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 Ancestry.com'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 ShopFamilyTree.com:


Military records
Tuesday, November 09, 2010 12:58:31 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]