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<2010 December>

More Links

# Wednesday, 01 December 2010
Find New York Ancestors With Our Genealogy Crash Course
Posted by Diane

Editors Pick

Did your ancestors spend time in the Empire State? Plenty of our forebears did, including many immigrants who arrived at New York City’s Ellis Island (and Castle Garden before that) and ports on the Great Lakes.

Our next webinar, New York Genealogy Crash Course: Find Your Empire State Ancestors, will help you pick out your kin from the hustle and bustle of cities and rural farmlands. It takes place Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. Eastern time (that’s 6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain and 4 p.m. Pacific)

New York Genealogy Crash Course

The state’s stages of development—early days under Dutch rule, an English Colonial era dominated by large landowners, a time as a pathway for people leaving New England, and the era as home to the nation's busiest port of entry—can make research here difficult.

Presenter James M. Beidler, a New York genealogy expert and frequent contributor to Family Tree Magazine, will offer advice on finding vital, land, court and other records. He’ll also discuss ethnicity-based records your immigrant ancestor may have left, as well as the best websites for New York research.

Your webinar 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
  • A PDF of the presentation slides
  • A PDF of our New York State Research Guide

Through Dec. 3, you can save $10 on your registration with our early-bird discount. Learn more about the New York Genealogy Crash Course webinar and register at

Editor's Pick | Webinars
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 17:09:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Clues in's Sears Catalog Database
Posted by Diane

The polyester bow-tie blouses. The high-waisted pants. The corduroy jumpsuits?

In subscription site’s new database of Sears catalogs from 1896 to 1993, I couldn’t resist browsing the early 1980s doorstoppers of my childhood. As a kid, I’d "shop," choosing one item per page, and use the toy sections to create impossibly optimistic Christmas lists.

But for genealogical purposes, you’ll probably want to look at catalogs further back in time. Of course, you won’t find ancestors. But if your family farmed in the 1940s, for example, you can keyword-search catalogs from that era for equipment they might’ve used. If you fondly remember Grandma making cakes with her rotary egg beater, you can learn when she might've bought it and see an illustration. This one cost 30 cents in the Fall 1929 edition:

Need to date a photo? Search the catalog database for the dress style or an object in the photo. I entered shirtwaist, and among the results was this illustration from the Spring 1905 catalog:

Your searches find keywords in the catalogs’ product descriptions, so you may have to experiment with search terms to find a drawing that matches what’s in your photograph.

The blog suggests using the catalog pages to spark stories and reminisce with relatives—another handy way to gather family clues. 

You can learn about the history of the Sears catalog, which began as a simple mailer in 1888 and has been called one of the most-commonly read books in rural areas, on the Sears website. | Research Tips | Social History
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 09:19:26 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Using Reverse Genealogy to Overcome Brick Walls
Posted by Diane

This advice for doing reverse genealogy—a great technique for dealing with a genealogy brick wall—is from Lisa Louise Cooke’s Reverse Genealogy course, part of Family Tree University’s December session. (The December session starts Dec. 6 and runs five weeks to give you extra time over the holidays.) 

It’s easy to get tunnel vision when researching an ancestor. But your research is best served by considering your focus ancestor as part of a community. (Emily Anne Croom, author of the best selling genealogy guide Unpuzzling Your Past, call this "cluster genealogy.")

Not only is your great-grandfather a member of his nuclear family, but also of an extended family. When you do reverse genealogy, you go a step beyond him and then research forward, broadening your search to his relatives and even friends. Any of the folks in your ancestor’s “cluster” could have provided him with housing, worked for him, asked him to witness a document or attended his funeral.

Here’s how this can work in a real-life research situation:

Several years ago, I was trying to locate my great-grandfather in the 1880 US census on microfilm without success. I found his parents and his siblings who were still living at home. Since Great-grandpa was 17 at the time, I expected to find him there, too. I searched for his future wife thinking perhaps they married younger than I thought. But she was living with her parents. Great-grandpa was nowhere to be found.

In an attempt to find him, I traced great-grandfather’s father back to the 1860 census, where he was listed in the household with his parents. I noted everyone in the household. Then I systematically researched forward, locating each sibling in the 1870 and 1880 censuses.

Sure enough, in 1880, I found my then-17-year-old great-grandfather living with his uncle (his father’s brother) in a neighboring town. Because of a variation in his name spelling, I probably never would’ve found him in online censuses.

Take a look at this picture of an ancestor’s potential family “cluster.” Every one of these relatives has the potential to help you make progress on researching that ancestor.

Click here to search or browse all the Family Tree University December course offerings

Family Tree University | Research Tips
Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:54:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Monday, 29 November 2010
Cyber Monday Genealogy Deals
Posted by Diane

Today, Nov. 29, is Cyber Monday, a day known for the last several years as a great time to shop online. You can get deals on genealogy stuff, too. A few we found:
  • Today at our own, offer code SFT133 gets you 20 percent off your order (some exclusions apply, including VIP membership, subscriptions, and products that ship directly from our retail partners). You also can choose a FREE digital download with your purchase. Choose from:
1. Beginner's Guide to Genealogy download
2. Discover Your Roots download
3. 101 Brick Wall Busters: Solutions to Overcome Your Genealogical Challenges download
  • Subscription records site Footnote is offering 50 percent off an annual all-access membership today only, for a total of $39.95. Click here to get started
  • Genetic testing service 23andMe is offering a $99 DNA test sale (normally $499) that ends today. Details at
  • Through tomorrow, Nov. 30, the Utah Genealogical Association (UGA) is giving a free UGA membership to registrants for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (taking place Jan. 10-14). Learn more on Renee’s Genealogy Blog.
  • On Cyber Monday, you’ll receive 15 percent off Elyse Doerflinger’s e-books Conquering The Paper Monster Once and For All and A Mini-Guide to Being a Part-Time Genealogist. Details at Elyse’s Genealogy Blog.

Research Tips | Sales | Tech Advice
Monday, 29 November 2010 09:20:04 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Why Turkey?
Posted by Diane

You’ve probably heard that Turkey may or may not have been on the menu when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians sat down to their harvest feast in 1621.

Venison and wild fowl are the only two foods historians know for certain were consumed at the meal. And the men sent to capture fowl could’ve snagged small, seasonal birds such as quail, pheasant and duck, instead of the harder-to-catch wild turkey.

So why do we make such a big deal out of the Thanksgiving turkey? Why doesn't Grandma serve up venison on her best platter every November?

I did some googling. The pilgrims’ countrymen in England would dine on goose at special meals. Americans who later took up the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving may have substituted one big bird for another, because wild turkeys were more abundant here than geese.

In addition, large birds were a lot more affordable than giving everyone steaks or butchering all the laying hens. This quote about how the turkey became popular at Thanksgiving, from an article by Michelle Tsai, explains it well:

Among the big birds, turkey was ideal for a fall feast. Turkeys born in the spring would spend about seven months eating insects and worms on the farm, growing to about 10 pounds by Thanksgiving. They were cheaper than geese, which were more difficult to raise, and cheaper by the pound than chickens.

Americans started eating turkey for Thanksgiving in the mid-1800s, after Godey’s Lady’s Book editor Sarah Josepha Hale began a campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. At the time, the holiday was celebrated mostly in New England on a different day in each state.

Hale published editorials and wrote to several presidents. Finally, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln—hoping to boost the war-weary country's morale—supported legislation establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

Supposedly, Hale popularized a holiday menu of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. But nostalgic images of the Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to a huge feast didn’t enter popular consciousness until later in the century.

Turns out the pilgrims and Wampanoag didn’t eat pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce in 1621, either. Not much about our modern Thanksgiving has to do with how the Pilgrims actually celebrated their first harvest—except the most important part, gathering with loved ones to be grateful for what we have.

Celebrating your heritage | Genealogy fun | Social History
Wednesday, 24 November 2010 09:18:37 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Thanksgiving, Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals at!
Posted by Diane

This is for all you deal seekers! Here are the specials we’re running this week on Family Tree Magazine how-to genealogy books, CDs, back issues, webinars and more at
  • Thursday, Nov. 25: Thanksgiving Day only, you’ll get free shipping on any US order. Even orders less than $25, and even products shipped from our retail partners that normally incur additional shipping charges. 
  • Friday, Nov. 26 to Monday, Nov. 29: On Black Friday, you’ll receive 20 percent off your order when you enter offer code is SFT133 at checkout. Some exclusions apply, including VIP membership, subscriptions, and products that ship directly from our retail partners.
  • Monday, Nov. 29: On Cyber Monday, in addition to the 20 percent off your order mentioned above, offer code SFT133 enables you to choose a FREE digital download with your purchase (this also doesn’t apply to VIP memberships, subscriptions or products that ship directly from our retail partners). Choose from: 
  1. Beginner's Guide to Genealogy download
  2. Discover Your Roots download
  3. 101 Brick Wall Busters: Solutions to Overcome Your Genealogical Challenges download
Start your holiday shopping at

If your gift list also has woodworkers, writers, artists, gardeners, fabric and yarn crafters, collectors, graphic designers, old car enthusiasts or hunters, you’ll want to take advantage of the F+W Media Friends and Family Free Shipping Special. (F+W is the publishing company that brings you Family Tree Magazine.)

This Thursday and Friday, Nov. 25 and 26, my friends and family (you qualify as one or the other!) can shop at any F+W online bookstore and get free shipping on US orders by using the offer code on this page.

Editor's Pick | Sales
Tuesday, 23 November 2010 10:10:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 22 November 2010
Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Blogging Event
Posted by Diane

Got holiday traditions and decorations on your mind? So do genealogy bloggers.

Starting December 1, many will be participating in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories blogging event. Through Dec. 24, participating bloggers respond to blogging prompts by writing about memories related to the theme and their family history.

You can visit the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories blog to see the prompts (about cookie-baking, your childhood beliefs about Santa Claus, your Christmas stocking, and more) and link to bloggers’ posts. If you blog and you’d like to participate, you’ll find the how-tos there, too.

Started as a bi-annual event in December 2007 on GeneaBloggers, the affair is now annual and has dozens of participants. You can follow the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories on Facebook and Twitter.

Family Heirlooms | Genealogy fun
Monday, 22 November 2010 08:42:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 19 November 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Nov. 15-19
Posted by Diane

  • Congratulations to Lisa Louise Cooke on the 100th episode of her Genealogy Gems podcast! This special episode celebrates the first 100 with a look at some of Lisa's favorite gems, interviews and milestones, plus some messages from listeners.
  • FamilySearch Beta has added or updated 34 collections of genealogical records—that’s 15 million indexed records and 2.5 million images. The information covers 13 countries: Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Jamaica, Canada and the United States. Click here to see a list of the new/updated collections
  • The New England Historic Genealogical Society is holding a technology-focused Weekend Research Getaway Jan. 27 to 29, 2011. The weekend will combine guided research at the NEHGS Research Library in Boston with educational lectures about using technology in your family search. Registration costs $300, or you can buy a day pass. See the program and register at
  • and National Geographic Digital Media have developed an online family history “experience” on the National Geographic Genographic Project website where visitors can learn more about researching genealogy and search their roots. They’ll be able to start an online family tree, get tips on doing family history, and links to’s subscription record collections. The Genographic Project is a DNA study of the genetic makeup of populations around the world in order to chart the migration history of the human species. | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites | Podcasts
Friday, 19 November 2010 12:27:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 18 November 2010
MyHeritage Adds Printing Service & Free Family Charts
Posted by Diane

Family network and genealogy site MyHeritage revamped its family tree charts feature with new designs site members can customize online and print for free.

The site also launched a professional poster-printing service for any chart produced on the website, as well as a chart design service.

If you have your family tree information on MyHeritage, you can click on the Family Tree tab on your family site, then select Charts and Books. Choose from 18 chart types, including new bowtie and hourglass designs. The MyHeritage version of the hourglass format is unique in that it can include the ancestors of any spouse.

You also can customize your chart with border designs, frames, backgrounds, decorations, colors and fonts. You can opt to include information such as names, birth dates, wedding anniversaries, photos and personal notes.

This is an example of a bowtie chart, with a nuclear family in the center and each parent’s ancestors on the sides.

This all-in-one chart shows collateral relatives—aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings.

You can export your chart for free in high-resolution PDF format to print or share via e-mail.

You also can order a professionally printed poster starting at $20. A variety of paper types (standard, matte photo, glossy photo, vinyl or canvas) and sizes (including huge wall charts for family reunions) are available, with optional lamination. 

MyHeritage provides free hosting for family websites up to 250MB and trees up to 250 people, with more storage and features for $6.25 to $9.95 per month. You can start a MyHeritage tree by uploading a GEDCOM or typing in names.

Learn how to make the most of your MyHeritage membership with Family Tree Magazine’s MyHeritage Web Guide download, available from

Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 18 November 2010 11:18:50 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 17 November 2010
All 2010 Family Tree Magazines on One CD
Posted by Diane

New in our online store this week is the Family Tree Magazine 2010 CD, featuring PDF versions of all eight issues we published this year.

Get your hands on one of these and you can…
  • keyword-search the issues to find expert guidance on the family history records, resources and topics you need

  • print any articles you want for quick reference

  • tuck a year’s worth of how-to genealogy advice into your research tote for library trips

  • slip your slim CD case into a mere 1/4 inch of bookshelf space
Among the articles you’ll find in these eight issues: 
  • Wide Open Spaces (November): 10 ideas for cutting clutter and getting your genealogy stuff under control

  • Census Extravaganza (May): A special section of articles on information censuses collected over the years, getting ready for the release of the 1940 census in 2012, and finding census records from your ancestors’ homeland

  • Undercover Genealogy (July): 10 investigative strategies for locating living relatives

  • Go-Go-Gadgets (March): Seven essential technology tools every genealogist needs, and what features to look for in each

  • Soul Searching (August): Finding your US ancestors in church records

  • Fancy Free (September): Our list of the 101 best free websites for researching your ancestors

  • Heads of State (December): 75 great state websites for finding family across the country

  • Heritage research guides for Scots-Irish, Baltic, Finnish, Italian, Puerto Rican and Dutch roots, as well as tips for crossing the pond to your European forbears
Click here to get the Family Tree Magazine 2010 CD from (Remember, Family Tree VIPs get 10 percent off.)

Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles | Research Tips
Wednesday, 17 November 2010 17:21:20 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]