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# Thursday, December 09, 2010
Ancestry.com Improves Basic Search Flexibility
Posted by Diane

You’ll start seeing some changes to subscription genealogy website Ancestry.com’s Basic search form over the next few weeks.

Ancestry.com says its users asked for more flexibility in entering place and date information: What if you don’t know when and where an ancestor was born—but you do know he lived in a certain place at a certain time?

So you’ll soon be able to enter a place into a “Name a place your ancestor might have lived” field. That will search Ancestry.com records for any life events—birth, residence, marriage, military service and death—that match that location. User testing revealed this moved relevant matches up in search results, says Ancestry.com product manager Anne Mitchell.

The new form also adds a “Calculate it” button, which will estimate a birth year based on when your ancestor lived in the place you specify.

If you do know when your ancestor was born, married, died, served in the military or lived someplace else, you can click an “Add an event” link to add one of these life events and the place and date of that event.

Finally, the links to clear the form and show the Advanced Search form have moved to the bottom of the Basic Search form, next to the Search button.

The changes will begin rolling out to some US members today and become available to all users over the next few weeks.

Visit Ancestry.com’s blog for more information and to see what the new form looks like.


Ancestry.com | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, December 09, 2010 10:09:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, December 08, 2010
ShopFamilyTree.com Holiday Shipping Info
Posted by Diane

If you're planning on ordering magazines, books or CDs/DVDs from ShopFamilyTree.com as Christmas gifts, you'll want to be aware of these ordering deadlines for delivery by Dec. 25. The dates below apply to addresses within the United States:
  • For shipping via the US Postal Service, order by 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Wed., Dec. 8 (that's today).

  • For shipping via ground transport, order by 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Mon., Dec. 13.

  • For two-day and standard overnight shipping, order by 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Mon., Dec. 20.
  • Products labeled "This item ships directly from the manufacturer" should be ordered by Eastern Standard Time Mon., Dec. 13.

Remember that ShopFamilyTree.com also offers many downloadable digital products, such as research guides, Family Tree University Independent Study courses, Family Tree Magazine back issues, on-demand webinars, books and VIP memberships, which of course don't require shipping. And most of these digital products still count toward your $25 order total to receive free shipping on other items you might order at the same time.


ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Wednesday, December 08, 2010 12:02:43 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Great Gifts on a Budget in Our Genealogy Vault of Savings
Posted by Diane


Our Vault of Savings is the place to stop if you need a thoughtful gift for a genealogy pal, but you also need to stick to a budget.

For genealogists, you can pick up discounted books and CDs such as:

  • The Family Tree Guide to Finding Your Ellis Island Ancestors by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack ($12.99, a 35 percent discount off the regular price)
  • Family Tree Essentials CD ($14.99, a 25 percent discount)
  • Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs by Maureen A. Taylor ($10, a 60 percent discount)
  • Family Tree Magazine State Research Guides CD ($37.99, a 40 percent discount) 

Memory crafters might enjoy:

  • Scrap City by Paul Gambino ($15, a 40 percent discount)
  • Modern Memory Keeper by Renee Parsons ($16, a 30 percent discount)

These are just some of the items in the vault.

Remember, you get free shipping on qualifying ShopFamilyTree.com orders over $25. Family Tree Magazine VIPs also get an additional 10 percent of their orders (make sure you log into your ShopFamilyTree VIP account). 

Start shopping our Genealogy Vault of Savings here.


Editor's Pick | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Wednesday, December 08, 2010 10:05:53 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Footnote Marks Pearl Harbor Day With Two Free WWII Collections
Posted by Diane

Today is the 69th anniversary of the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared “a date which will live in infamy.” The Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, caused more than 3,000 casualties and sank or damaged all eight US battleships anchored there. The next day, Congress declared war on Japan.

To mark the occasion, subscription historical records site Footnote has made two collections free during the month of December:

  • Pearl Harbor Muster rolls, the quarterly Muster Rolls and related documents for the United States Navy’s fighting ships, ground organizations, and shore facilities that were present on the island of Oahu during the attack. 
  • World War II Diaries, 1942-1945, submitted by most units in the Navy (most Marine Corps war diaries were submitted by aviation units such as fighter squadrons), provide a day-to-day record of operational and sometimes administrative activities. This database contains 251,082 document images, about 13 percent of the collection housed at the National Archives

Of course, Footnote’s Interactive USS Arizona Memorial, a searchable, life-size image of the memorial naming USS Arizona sailors killed in the Pearl Harbor attack, is always free.

Get help making the most of your Footnote subscription with our Footnote Web Guide, available as a digital download from ShopFamilyTree.com.

Wondering about your family’s WWII memorabilia? Learn more about it from the photos and information in Warman's World War II Collectibles by Michael E. Haskew.


Footnote | Free Databases | Military records
Tuesday, December 07, 2010 10:54:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, December 06, 2010
Sneak Peek at the National Archives' New Website
Posted by Diane

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)—the agency that houses federal records including censuses, passenger lists, military service papers and more—will launch its redesigned Archives.gov website next Monday, Dec. 13.

You can preview the new site now at <archives.gov/open/redesign/preview> (click on the image for the new site). Note that the search on the preview site won’t work.

NARA developed the new site with help from users through surveys, voting, card sorts (a way of figuring out how users would organize the site) and usability testing. It’ll feature:

  • A new home page, selected by public vote in July
  • A new interactive map of NARA’s facilities nationwide
  • Historical documents and streamlined access to military service records (turns out that 81 percent of Archives.gov visitors are looking for this information)
  • Topically organized sections focused on the needs of both casual browsers and professional researchers (the current site divides articles for genealogists, researchers, members of the general public, etc., leading to multiple sections on the same topic)
  • Easy links to NARA's social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and blogs.

Read more about the redesign process on NARA’s website.


Genealogy Web Sites | NARA
Monday, December 06, 2010 3:51:36 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, December 03, 2010
Genealogy News Corral Nov. 30-Dec. 3
Posted by Diane

Registration for the full event ranges from $175 to $245, depending whether you’re an NGS member, whether you make the early bird deadline (March 11), and whether you want a printed syllabus. You also can register for a single day of the conference, which costs $95 to $115.
  • Family networking site MyHeritage.com has launched Family Tree Builder 5.0, the latest version of its free genealogy software. New features include to-do lists, a Tree Consistency Checker (helps find mistakes in your family tree data by automatically identifying errors and inconsistencies in 40 categories), improved privacy settings, support for your DNA test results, custom reports, and the customizable family tree charts announced recently.

Learn more about Family Tree Builder at MyHeritage.com.

  • The New England Historic Genealogical Society, which announced its new AmericanAncestors.org site in August, has officially deactivated the NewEnglandAncestors.org website (the old URL redirects to the new site). You can get a tutorial on searching the AmericanAncestors.org databases in the March 2011 Family Tree Magazine, on sale Jan. 11.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, December 03, 2010 2:08:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Organize Your Photos with Nancy Hendrickson
Posted by Grace

The next round of Family Tree University classes start Monday, Dec. 6, including a new one from instructor Nancy Hendrickson: Organize Your Photos: Preserve Your Family's Pictorial Legacy.

In this course, Nancy (who also teaches our popular course Organize Your Genealogy) will offer advice on sorting through massive amounts of photos, creating a log to keep track of your images, and devising a system that can grow with your collection.

Here's what she has to say about determining what photos to keep and what to give away or trash:
By nature, genealogists are hoarders. The thought of getting rid of any old photos could very well send shivers down your spine. But the truth is, most of us have photos that aren’t worth keeping. Your first task is to do a rough pass through all the photos. You’re not organizing them yet. This time, you’re just making piles of images you want to…
  • keep and organize
  • scan and organize
  • discard
  • give away
  • or use in a scrapbook
As you sort into piles, you may find yourself torn between keeping something and throwing it away. For example, one image I have is very poor quality, and couldn’t be improved upon even with expert photo editing.

Did I keep it? Yes. Why? Because it’s the only photo I have of my grandfather with all of his children and their spouses. This is why considering the content of a photo is important when it comes to a culling your collection. Even if a picture is of poor quality, it may be the only one you have of a certain person or place.

NOTE: I want to stop here and point out that keeping or discarding an image is a matter of personal preference. Your choice may be to never discard an image, regardless of quality or subject matter. When it comes to editing photographs, you have to decide what’s right for you.
If you register with the coupon code FTU111, and you'll get 20% off your December classes plus a free 2011 calendar! Learn more about Organize Your Photos: Preserve Your Family's Pictorial Legacy and sign up here.

Family Tree University | Photos
Friday, December 03, 2010 10:10:37 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, December 02, 2010
Archives.com Adds Millions of Records
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site Archives.com has added more than 40 million new digital records and 110 million scanned newspaper pages dating back to 1753.

The new record collections now available on Archives.com include:

  • 40 million indexed vital records from states including Texas, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, and Utah. These represent a 25 percent increase in the site’s US vital records. Information you’ll get varies by state, but generally includes the child’s name, sex, birth date and place, and parents’ names.
  • 110 million newspaper pages from Newspaper Archive, dating back to 1753 and containing billions of indexed names.
  • 300,000 indexed burial records through a partnership with cemetery mapping company Names In Stone. In the search results, users can view burial information and click the View Full Record link to see supplementary fields and a cemetery map on NamesInStone.com (no additional payment or membership required).

Since its July 2009 launch, Archives.com users have spent more than 2 million hours on the site and performed 50 million searches. Users can search all records, search by record type (such as marriage) or state, or search by collection name. A subscription costs $39.95 per year; a seven-day free trial is available.


Cemeteries | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers | Vital Records
Thursday, December 02, 2010 8:38:48 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, December 01, 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 ShopFamilyTree.com.


Editor's Pick | Webinars
Wednesday, December 01, 2010 5:09:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Clues in Ancestry.com's Sears Catalog Database
Posted by Diane

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


In subscription site Ancestry.com’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 Ancestry.com 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.


Ancestry.com | Research Tips | Social History
Wednesday, December 01, 2010 9:19:26 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]