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<2010 December>

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# Monday, 20 December 2010
'Tis The Season For Family Traditions
Posted by jamie

Whether it’s trimming the tree, lighting the menorah or preparing a holiday feast large enough to feed a small army, the holidays are that special time each year when we spend  time with friends and family. And all that togetherness makes for great family stories and traditions.


My favorite holiday tradition is opening up just one gift on Christmas Eve, before the entire family is nestled in their beds. This tradition started when my sister and I were very young and could barely wait until 6 a.m. to open our presents on Christmas morning. The gift is usually something small — like new slippers or pajamas — but we get a sample of what’s to come in the morning, when we wake up to the bounty of presents from Santa.


Some of my family’s holiday traditions are generations old. My mother-in-law claims her family has celebrated St. Nikolaus Day since her grandmother emigrated from Germany. Every year she calls us on Dec. 5 to remind us to put out our shoes so St. Nickolaus will bring us presents. And sure enough, on Dec. 6, we receive a package St. Nickolaus filled with goodies.


If your family traditions don’t span back that far, you can start your own holiday legacy by incorporating your ancestor’s likely customs from the Old Country. You can find some inspiration here. 


Does your family have any exciting or unique holiday traditions?

Social History
Monday, 20 December 2010 15:54:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Sunday, 19 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: On-Demand Webinars
Posted by Diane

On the seventh day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me . . . an FTU on-demand webinar

Family Tree University downloadable on-demand webinars give you how-to advice on genealogy topics from online research to brick walls to researching ancestors in various states. You’ll be able to use your computer to watch an hour-long presentation showing you research strategies, tips and the best online tools.

This census advice snippet is from the webinar Online Census Secrets: Best Web Sites and Strategies to Find Your Ancestors Webinar:

The government designated an official census day for each census. Of course, the enumerating didn’t all happen on this day, but the information the census takers collected was supposed to be accurate as of that date. If a baby was born after Census Day, he was supposed to be left out of the census. If a person died after Census Day, he was supposed to be recorded. Ages were also to be reported according to the person’s age on Census Day. Census takers and informants didn’t always comply with these instructions, however. These are the official Census Days:

  • 1790-1820: first Monday in August
  • 1830-1900: June 1
  • 1910: April 15
  • 1920: Jan. 1
  • 1930-1940: April 1
Click here to peruse our on-demand webinar offerings at

12 Days of Genealogy | Webinars
Sunday, 19 December 2010 21:46:15 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Saturday, 18 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: Family Tree Sourcebook
Posted by Diane

On the sixth day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … The Family Tree Sourcebook: The Essential Directory of American County and Town Resources.

The Family Tree Sourcebook, a second edition of The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists, contains updated information on county-based records such as vital records, land records, probate records and more. You can look up a US county and find formation dates, parent counties, official contact information and websites, and available records and their start dates. 

You’ll also find a how-to article and books, organizations and websites for each state, as well as a listing of national genealogical sites and organizations.

And, the book comes with a month of searchable online access through a Family Tree Magazine Plus membership.

Click here to get yourself a copy of The Family Tree Sourcebook (on sale now at 33 percent off!).

12 Days of Genealogy | Genealogy books
Saturday, 18 December 2010 18:19:13 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 17 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: Trace Your Roots Online
Posted by Diane

On the fifth day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … the Trace Your Roots Online CD. 

This CD offers the instruction you need to find ancestors online, including the best websites to search, effective search techniques, time-saving computer tricks, social networking sites and more. You’ll also find online searching caveats, such as this research trap to avoid: 

Trap: It doesn't matter whether online information comes from a record, a transcription or an index.

Fact: An online record is an original document that's been digitized for viewing on the Web. For example, and have posted images of original census enumerations. When you pull information from one of those images, you’re looking at the original record.

You have to be more careful with online transcriptions, which have typed text from original documents. You'll find transcriptions of passenger lists (on the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild site, for example), tombstone inscriptions (at Find a Grave and and all sorts of other records. Remember that typographical errors easily can sneak into transcriptions. Even a careful transcriber might not correctly read the handwriting on an original document. Always verify spellings and dates by checking the original record. 

Online indexes can help you find references to your ancestors in state vital records, books, periodicals and other sources. An index will contain only a fraction of the information recorded in the original source. When you locate your ancestor in, say, the Periodical Source Index (searchable via HeritageQuest Online, free through many libraries), jot down all the information, and then look for the genealogical or historical journal where the data appears. Or if your ancestor's name is in an online death records index, note the certificate number and request a copy from the state vital-records office.

The Trace Your Roots Online CD is available from

12 Days of Genealogy | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 17 December 2010 16:28:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Genealogy News Corral Dec. 13-17
Posted by Diane

  • Another new database from Library and Archives Canada is Medals, Honours and Awards, containing more than 113,000 references to medal registers, citation cards and records of military awards. It also has digitized images of some medal registers. You can search the database by name, regiment, rank and more; if you find a match, you’ll learn the medal awarded, the related battle or conflict, and a citation for the record containing the information. Because no service files exist for the Canadian military in the 1800s, these records may provide the only proof of service for 19th-century conflicts. 
  • FamilySearch has added nearly four million new digital images—nearly 1.7 million of them indexed—to its historical records collection. The additions include records from South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Guatemala, the Netherlands and the United States. Visit FamilySearch for a list of the collection titles with the new images, and how many of the records are indexed. Unindexed collections aren’t searchable, instead, you’ll need to browse those collections and view the records to find your ancestor’s name.
  • Richard Heaton e-mailed us about his site called Last Chance To Read, a searchable collection of thousands of pages of scarce British and Irish newspapers and other publications, most printed between 1710 and 1870. Once you register for a free account, you can do a search and order PDF copies of articles for about $4.75 via PayPal. See included titles here (scroll down).  
  • RootsMagic released a free update to version 4, version, which update adds several user-requested features and fixes a number of issues. Users may be automatically notified to download the update; if not, open the program and go to Help>Check for Updates or click here.

Canadian roots | FamilySearch | Genealogy Software | Military records | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 17 December 2010 16:06:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 16 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: Family Tree Legacies
Posted by Diane

On the fourth day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … Family Tree Legacies!

The book Family Tree Legacies: Preserving Memories Throughout Time is great for beginners, newlyweds or anyone who’s ready to create a lasting family keepsake from their genealogy information. You can get a good look at what’s inside the book in this blog post

It comes with how-to information and pages for recording family information of all kinds, plus a CD so you can print extras. You can download the Military Service Record, for writing about ancestors who served their country, as a free PDF from

Click here to order Family Tree Legacies from

12 Days of Genealogy | Genealogy books
Thursday, 16 December 2010 16:26:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 15 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: Independent Study
Posted by Diane

On the third day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … an FTU Independent Study CD.

Family Tree University Independent Study courses have all the materials from FTU online classes, with the advantage that you can truly proceed at your own pace. The CDs cover about 20 course topics, including Finding Your Ancestral Village (shown above), Google Tools for Genealogists, Newspaper Research 101 and more. 

From the Land Records 101 course, for example, you’ll learn essential terms such as

Widow’s Examination: Required in many jurisdictions until the early 1900s. A wife was entitled to “widow’s rights” or “dower rights” (typically one-third) of her husband’s property—although she often could not directly control or sell it in her own right. Before he could sell the property, she was required to sign an independent statement that she was aware he was selling the property and she was therefore losing her dower rights. If she did not sign, the property could not be sold. 

You’ll also learn how to find and read deeds, land patents, bounty land warrants and more.

FTU Independent Study CDs are available for about 20 course topics. You also can choose a downloadable Independent Study course

12 Days of Genealogy | Family Tree University
Wednesday, 15 December 2010 13:44:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
NBC Reveals "WDYTYA" Season 2 Celebrities
Posted by Diane

NBC has revealed the celebrity lineup for the upcoming season of its “Who Do You Think You Are?” celebrity-genealogy tv series.

Friday evenings starting Feb. 4, you can watch country music star Tim McGraw; pop singer Lionel Richie; comedian and activist Rosie O’Donnell; and actors Ashley Judd, Steve Buscemi, Vanessa Williams and Kim Cattrall trace their roots.

The series is produced by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky of Is or Isn’t Entertainment. You can read more “Who Do You Think You Are?” news and Season 1 recaps here

Update: A press release today added actress Gwyneth Paltrow to the list of celebrities appearing on season 2 of the show, and promised that "From the trenches of the Civil War to the shores of the Caribbean, and from the valleys of Virginia to the island nations of Australia and Ireland, “Who Do You Think You Are?” will reveal the fabric of humanity through everyone’s place in history."

"Who Do You Think You Are?"
Wednesday, 15 December 2010 08:50:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Tuesday, 14 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: 10 Years on DVD
Posted by Diane

On the second day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … 10 Years of Family Tree Magazine on DVD!

We've packed 10 years of Family Tree Magazine issues onto one easy-to-use DVD full of genealogy tips, tools and tutorials. You can search all 60 issues at once, then click to the articles you want. And it’s on sale for $79.99 (normally $99.99).

Read more about the 10 Years of Family Tree Magazine DVD on

12 Days of Genealogy
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 15:59:20 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
New FamilySearch Website Unveiled
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has flipped the "switch" to release its redesigned website from beta. Now, when you go to, it looks like this:

The new FamilySearch home page has search fields that let you scour historical records, the Family History Library online catalog or family trees. You also can browse records by location.

On the right, you can link to the FamilySearch blog ("Changes at"—a good place to start for an overview on changes to the site), see online genealogy lessons ("View Online Lessons") and get information on FamilySearch Centers around the world ("Get Personal Help").

We'll keep you updated on news from FamilySearch. Let us know what you think of the site.

Update: I wanted to update this post with some official information from FamilySearch's press release. The new has millions of new records and images, more than 40,000 helpful articles, 100-plus how-to courses, and a forum for discussing your research. According to the announcement, "FamilySearch will continue to implement the new website in phases to ensure all critical elements are functioning as desired. Once complete, the website will be promoted more broadly."

Click here for links to a video and document about the new version of (Pages 8 and 9 of the PDF document has information on what became of the data from the International Genealogical Index, Pedigree Resource File and Ancestral File, which many commenters to the FamilySearch blog post asked about.)

You also can link to the prior version of the FamilySearch, which will remain available during the transition to the new site.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010 14:24:41 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]