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# Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Write Your Family History: Tips to Get it Together
Posted by Diane

One of the newest course offerings over at Family Tree University is an eight-week master class designed to help you make progress, step by step, on writing a family history book or personal memoir.

In the first half of Write Your Family History, you'll craft an outline for your book and start putting your family's legacy down on paper. The second half of the course is a workshop, in which you'll share your writing with instructor and professional writer Sunny McClellan Morton, and receive feedback on how to move forward. 

The Write Your Family History master class starts Jan. 17, and you can use coupon code FTU114 for 20 percent off your registration and a free 2011 desk calendar.

Here’s an excerpt on gathering and organizing your thoughts:

One of the most important habits you can cultivate as a personal or family historian is keeping a journal. Chances are you already keep one or have in the past; many writers do so almost instinctively. If you aren't in the habit of recording your personal thoughts, now's the time to make journaling a part of your routine.

Use whatever style suits you for writing your journal—you're the only one who will see what you write. Any scrap of memory or personal impression may become important later, so just get everything down now and worry about sorting it all out when the time comes. 

When you start thinking about writing a memoir or family history, it's natural to feel overwhelmed—so many colorful characters, inspiring stories, and dates and places to keep straight. You'll need to make some choices, perhaps difficult ones, about what will and won't fit into your book. Before you begin writing, it's important to devise a plan to organize your ideas and the information you'll be gathering as you complete your research.

We suggest you start by filling in the beginning and ending dates of your book, so you have the boundaries of your complete dateline. Then associate an event with each date. Use only a few key words or a phrase to denote each event—just enough to jog your memory when you refer to the dateline later.

After you've filled in as many dates and events as you can at this point, go back and determine the historical theme relevant to each event. The historical theme is crucial to your story; it will help place your "characters" into historical perspective.

Here are two examples of personal events with their historical themes:

Date: 3 June 1907
Event: Eleanor arrives alone at Ellis Island.
Historical theme: What was it like for a woman to go through processing at Ellis Island on her own?

Date: 25 Apr 1920
Event: Uncle Harry moves to Florida and buys land.
Historical theme: What drew people to Florida in the 1920s?

Register for Write Your Family History at Family Tree University.com (remember to use coupon code FTU114).


Editor's Pick | Family Heirlooms | Family Tree University
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 4:42:29 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Eight Genealogy Programs Receive User Choice Awards
Posted by Diane

Checking out reviews is a great step to help you decide which genealogy software program is best for you. The website GenSoftReviews, which has gathered more than 720 reviews in two years, has named its 2010 Users Choice Award recipients.

All programs with at least 10 reviews and user ratings of 4 or higher out of 5 received the Users Choice Award. Those are (in order starting with the highest-ranked):

You can get quick facts about these programs, as well as links to Family Tree Magazine reviews, from our free online Genealogy Software Guide.

See the full GenSoftReviews User Choice Awards announcement here.

What's your favorite genealogy software, and why? Click Comments to let us know.


Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 9:34:25 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, January 10, 2011
Genealogy News Corral: Jan. 3-7
Posted by Diane

Here's our weekly news roundup from last week:

The $99 early bird registration ends Jan. 15 for the RootsTech 2011 conference, taking place Feb. 10-12 in Salt Lake City. Learn more about the conference and register on the RootsTech website

RootsMagic is offering several free webinars to help you use your RootsMagic genealogy software. You can view the available classes and register on RootsMagic.com. Classes are limited to the first thousand people; a recordings will be available for viewing after a class takes place. 

Ancestry.com has made Family Tree Maker For Mac available for download from the new Mac App Store for $99.99. Learn more about the program at FamilyTreeMaker.com. The software also is available from Ancestry.com’s online store

A TV show in the works is looking for “families who reinvent traditional dishes to reflect their unique cultural backgrounds and their love of American cuisine.” The show also seeks family stories that revolve around food. See the casting call and instructions for responding on the Geneabloggers blog

The British genealogy subscription website Findmypast.co.uk has published more than 9 million records from the Society of Genealogists in London. They include Boyd’s Marriage Index (1538 to 1840), Boyd’s London Burials (1538 to 1872), Faculty Office Marriage License Allegations (1701 to 1850), Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills Index (1750 to 1800) and more. You can search indexes and transcriptions with a FindMyPast subscription or pay-per-view credits, then order copies of some original records from the Society of Genealogists. More of the records will become available during 2011.


Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | UK and Irish roots
Monday, January 10, 2011 9:33:30 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 06, 2011
4 Reasons Why You Should Sign up for the MA Webinar Today
Posted by Grace

Our next webinar, the Massachusetts Genealogy Crash Course, will be happening live at 7 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Jan. 18. If you've got Northeastern ancestors, you're a lucky duck. If you haven't signed up already, here are four reasons why you should -- and fast:

4. We've got three top Massachusetts experts lined up: David Dearborn, Midge Frazel and David Lambert.

3. You get to ask them your most pressing questions about Massachusetts research!

2. You get a copy of the Massachusetts State Research Guide and a PDF of the presentation slides.

1. The early bird discount -- $10 off -- ends Friday at midnight, so if you want to save some cash, sign up soon so you don't miss out.


Family Tree University | Webinars

Thursday, January 06, 2011 5:29:26 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Young Genealogists: Tips and a Grant to Attend the Jamboree!
Posted by Diane

Know a young person who's gung-ho about genealogy? Genealogy writer Denise Levenick is sponsoring a $500 grant to send a young genealogist (age 18 to 25 as of July 1) to the 2011 Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, Calif. June 10-12.

The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant honors Levenick’s late mom, who worked with youth organizations and enjoyed attending last year’s Jamboree.

The application requirements and instructions are on Levenick’s The Family Curator website

We get questions pretty regularly about how to interest younger kids in genealogy. You’ll find our suggestions in these free articles:

Now I’d like to open it up to you: What genealogy projects have you done with your kids, grandkids or students? What are your tips for holding their interest? Click Comments to share your ideas.


Genealogy Events | Genealogy for kids
Thursday, January 06, 2011 4:55:07 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Book Sheds New Light on Atlantic Slave Trade
Posted by Diane

I came across an article about a book you might be interested in, especially if your ancestors were African slaves or involved in the slave trade.

Between 1492 and about 1820, four enslaved Africans left the Old World for every European migrant. According to Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade by David Eltis and David Richardson, we know more about this forced migration than about European migration during the time. That’s because the slave trade generated profits, which usually meant record-keeping.

The book is based in part on the data in the online Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, which Eltis co-edited, containing information on 35,000 slave voyages from Africa to the Americas. (Read our post about the database's online debut in 2008.)

Detailed maps in the book show how almost every port in the Atlantic world at the time organized and sent out a slave voyage. Almost half of those voyages came from ports in the Americas.

The data let the authors determine trading patterns, for example, the United States drew more slaves from the area of Senegambia south to Liberia (on Africa’s west coast) than did any other part of the Americas. The authors also found the slave trade was going strong at the time it was finally suppressed.

The book also gives you a more personal look at the trade with information about people and conditions on board the ships, as well as writings from and images of a few passengers. You can read more about it in the article here, and find it listed on Amazon.com here

For help researching African-American roots, see the articles in our online toolkit. Find eight steps to get started tracing slave ancestors here.


African-American roots | Genealogy books
Wednesday, January 05, 2011 1:07:12 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Finding Massachusetts Ancestors
Posted by Diane


Whether your ancestors stepped onto Massachusetts soil from the Mayflower or immigrated later through one of the state’s busy ports, a wealth of genealogical records is yours to wade through. Our next webinar aims to help. 

Massachusetts Genealogy Crash Course: Find Your Bay State Ancestors takes place Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain, 4 p.m. Pacific). Our expert presenters include

  • David Dearborn, staff genealogist with the New England Historic Genealogical Society
  • Midge Frazel, cemetery expert and Family Tree University instructor
  • David Lambert, New England Historic Genealogical Society online genealogist since 1993

You’ll learn essential Massachusetts history, tricks for locating records, details on vital and immigration records, primary ethnic groups and records they may have left, and the best websites for Massachusetts research. Here's a peek at some of Frazel's favorite sites:

Your registration for the live webinar includes:

  • Participation in the hour-long presentation and Q&A session
  • Access to the webinar recording to view as many times as you like
  • PDF of the presentation slides
  • PDF of our Massachusetts State Research Guide

The 20 percent off early-bird special ends soon, so register today.


Genealogy Web Sites | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Tuesday, January 04, 2011 2:19:35 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, January 03, 2011
While You (and I) Were Out
Posted by Diane

I hope you had some quality R&R over the holidays! I finished up my shopping and wrapping, hosted 35 relatives for a lively Christmas dinner (everyone pitched in, nobody spilled and we had a great time), continued preparations for the baby’s arrival in a month or so, caught up on past seasons of “Bones” on Netflix and packed away the holiday decorations. A relaxing and productive break.

It’s hard making your brain return from vacationland and get back to work (at least it is for me), but here goes! Here are some genealogical goings-on from the past coupla weeks, including a few announcements from FamilySearch:
  • FamilySearch also has started several new volunteer indexing projects, including US censuses, tax and vital records, and its first project in Polish. See the FamilySearch blog for details on each project and a contact link if you can volunteer.
  • British genealogy site Genes Reunited has added the original householder schedules for the entire 1911 UK and Wales census. The records are available by subscription or on a pay-per-view basis.
  • A.C. Ivory, one of the young genealogists profiled in the November 2010 Family Tree Magazine (in one of my most favorite articles I’ve worked on), has given his Find My Ancestor website and blog a new look. You’ll find new downloads and resources, a new logo, easier navigation, social media integration and more.
  • Those named to new positions in the genealogy world include Matt Wright as editor of the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ electronic quarterly, FGS FORUM; and Laura Murphy DeGrazia and Karen Mauer Green as co-editors of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s New York Genealogical and Biographical Record

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Monday, January 03, 2011 5:26:38 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, December 30, 2010
Inspiriation behind WWII Rosie the Riveter "We Can Do It!" poster dies
Posted by jamie

Geraldine Doyle, the inspiration for the iconic Rosie the Riveter "We Can Do It!" poster of World War II, passed away Sunday at age 86 of complications from severe arthritis.

Doyle was working at a Michigan metal factory in 1941 when a United Press International photographer snapped this photo of the slender 17-year-old laboring in a polka-dot bandanna:


Geraldine Doyle » Amazon.com

Artist J. Howard Miller was commissioned by the Westinghouse Corporation in 1942 to create morale-boosting posters for its factories. Miller was so smitten with the photo of Doyle, he drew upon it when producing the "We Can Do It!" poster:


"We Can Do It!" Poster » Wallstreetjournal.com

In 1942, Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb composed the popular song "Rosie the Riveter," about the new women's workforce. Shortly thereafter, a Norman Rockwell illustration of a red-headed riveter with the name Rosie painted on her lunch pail graced the cover of the Saturday Evening Post:


Rosie the Riveter illustration » Huffingtonpost.com

From then on, Westinghouse Corporation factory employees began associating the woman in the "We Can Do It Posters!" with the hard-working Rosie depicted in Rockwell's illustration.

Because the "We Can Do It!" poster was an internal Westinghouse Corporation project, the poster did not become a pop culture icon until her image was revived by advocates of women's equality in the workplace during the 1980s.

For decades Doyle was unaware she was the inspiration behind the "We Can Do It!" poster — she quit working at the factory one week after the photo was taken, because she feared she may permanently damage her hands on the equipment. It wasn't until 1982, when she came across the original photograph in a 1940s issue of Modern Maturity magazine, that Doyle realized she was the woman behind the classic image.

Doyle then began making appearances as Rosie the Riveter, signing autographs until her arthritis made it too painful for her to write.

"You're not supposed to have too much pride, but I can't help have some in that poster," Mrs. Doyle told the Lansing State Journal in 2002. "It's just sad I didn't know it was me sooner."

Historic preservation
Thursday, December 30, 2010 5:09:09 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Civil War News Corral
Posted by jamie

  • A retired CIA code breaker deciphered a 147-year-old message between Confederate officers. The dispatch indicates Maj. Gen. John G. Walker would not be sending additional troops to reinforce the Confederate hold on the Mississippi River. The same day, the Mississippi River fell to the Union.

  • Historians found a myriad of errors in Virginia history textbooks, and many of the errors relate to the history of the Civil War. The books include incorrect dates for the Battle of Bull Run and the end of slavery, as well as erroneous figures for the amount of men who led Pickett's Charge.

  • The United States Postal Service is celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War by releasing commemorative forever stamps depicting the major battles in the war. Souvenir sheets of two stamps will be issued annually, and the first set will be available April 12.

  • Members of the Cincinnati Sons of Union Veterans are working with a civil war preservation group in Georgia to restore a monument in Chickamauga National Battlefield Park. The monument marks where Gen. William Haines Lytle, a member of one of Cincinnati's founding families, was killed while leading union forces in a counterattack.

  • Many states are facing cutbacks and budget turmoil, leaving little funding for Civil War sesquicentennial celebrations. New York, North Carolina and other states have yet to allocate any money for the festivities, but Virginia and Pennsylvania are leading the charge with budgets of $2 million and $5 million.

  • Family Tree is celebrating the Civil War sesquicentennial with our latest book Life in Civil War America and with a special issue of Family Tree Magazine. Look for it on newsstands March 8.

Civil War | Historic preservation
Thursday, December 30, 2010 11:16:38 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]