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<2011 January>

More Links

# Tuesday, 25 January 2011
MyHeritage Upgrades Smart Matching
Posted by Diane

Family networking and genealogy site has upgraded its Smart Matching technology to add new collaboration features.

Smart Matching finds matches between the people in users’ family trees on MyHeritage. To date, those trees total more than 680 million people in 17 million trees.

The updates include a new presentation of Smart Matches, plus more efficient organizing and reviewing of matches. The new Consensus Page aggregates data from all Smart Matches, presenting a “big picture” for each match. It summarizes the names, birth and death dates and places, marriage info, etc., and indicates the number of times each piece of information has been used in other family trees.

SmartMatching works in “real time” as users enter new information into their trees, as well as offline. Users are notified of new matches by e-mail. The service is free for basic members, but those on subscription plans also get enhanced options for contacting other tree owners and confirming or rejecting matches. If both tree owners confirm the match, the trees are linked, rather than merged, so each owner retains control of his tree.

See more about SmartMatching here.

Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 15:05:29 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
FTU Courses Starting Monday + Free Webinar!
Posted by Grace

If you've been thinking about taking a Family Tree University class (get cracking on that new year's resolution!), now's the time to sign up. Everyone who registers for a class in the next session, which starts Monday, Jan. 31, also gets free access to the Your Unofficial Guide to webinar recording! We're even kicking in all the bonus materials -- something you don't normally get when you buy a webinar recording in our store. So browse through our course listing below -- if something catches your fancy, now's the time to strike.

Family Tree University

Tuesday, 25 January 2011 10:58:13 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 24 January 2011 to Discontinue Expert Connect
Posted by Diane will discontinue its Expert Connect service, launched in June 2009 to link those seeking genealogy research services with service providers, as of March 18 of this year, according to an announcement today.

New project postings, bidding and awards will be discontinued Feb. 3, according to a message sent to service providers.

"Though this service has been a positive experience, has decided to focus on other business priorities," stated the announcement.

It continued, "Both experts and members currently involved in Expert Connect have been notified of this update. We encourage members to finish out existing projects with experts they have located through the Expert Connect service and if needed, continue relationships for future projects they may have."
Monday, 24 January 2011 16:31:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
Q&A With The Folks Behind "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Posted by Diane

A little bit ago, editorial assistant (and soon-to-be frequent blogger here) Jamie Royce and I participated in a media conference call with “Who Do You Think You Are?” producer Lisa Kudrow and Season Two, Episode One celebrity Vanessa Williams.

Each journalist on the call got to ask two or three questions. When our turn came, we wanted to know whether Kudrow and Williams would have pursued genealogy to such an extent themselves, had they not been on “WDYTYA?”

Williams, who learns on the show that her African-American ancestors served in the Civil War and in the Tennessee legislature after Emancipation, is a bit of a history buff and had actually already set up a family tree on (a partner in the series). She had the interest, she said, but not the necessary knowledge or access to the information.

Kudrow’s dad was way into in genealogy, as you might remember from last season’s "WDYTYA?," and had spent a lot of time at the FamilySearch Center in Los Angeles. He had a many names and dates, and Kudrow was able to flesh out that information and get in touch with living relatives through the show.

We also mentioned how hungry Family Tree Magazine readers are to see more of what goes into the research—how researchers uncover the records, what archives they visit, what the records look like—and asked whether this year we might see more of that detail in the episodes or even on the "WDYTYA?" website.

Kudrow acknowledged your desire to know more of the nuts and bolts of the research. Earlier in the call, she had noted how painful it is to have to cut video from each episode due to the 42-minute running time. “There just isn’t time,” she lamented.

So you probably won’t see much more nuts-and-bolts research in the episodes, but we’re hoping NBC will put more of that behind-the-scenes content on the website. posted research recaps to its blog after each Season One episode, so we'll look for more of those, as well.

Thomas MacEntee of Genea-bloggers also was on the call—see the answers to his questions and other notes from the call here. Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems was there, too—keep an eye on her blog for her take

Kudrow talked about the value of personalizing history with stories like those featured on the show. You might think history was just something that happened to strangers a long time ago, but when you see how it affected your family, it has so much more impact.

“I hope it’s a history lesson for people, and I hope it inspires them to ask questions,” Williams said.

"WDYTYA?" premieres Friday, Feb. 4, at 8pm EST on NBC.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" |
Monday, 24 January 2011 16:23:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 21 January 2011
Genealogy News Corral: Jan. 17-21
Posted by Diane

  • The Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) just unveiled a new website featuring links to ISGS records projects, links to other Illinois resources and a new members-only section. Visitors also will find archived ISGS Newsletters back to 2008, listings of Illinois genealogy events, free databases and more.

Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives | Military records | Newspapers | Photos
Friday, 21 January 2011 11:14:59 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Family History Project: Baby Book
Posted by Diane

You might’ve picked up from casual mentions on the blog that I have a tiny future genealogist on the way in the next week or two. So over the next few months, our other Family Tree Magazine editors and some awesome contributors will keep you up-to-date on genealogy news and resources (though I may pop back in to show a baby picture or two).

Being a family historian, I of course plan to record all the baby excitement for posterity. But I couldn’t find any baby books I really liked—ones where I could include all the information I want, add pages and pictures, and save keepsakes. So I’ve been putting together my own, and I wanted to share it in case it inspires ideas for your own babies or grandbabies:

First, I flipped through baby books at the store and googled baby book pages to get ideas for what type of things I’d want to write down (baby shower info, the baby's “firsts,” etc.). I ended up relying mostly on these printable pages, customizing them to my needs. I'll add a family tree chart, too.

I and went to the store for a cute binder (not vinyl, which isn't photo-safe), some acid-free cardstock and polypropylene envelopes. Here’s the binder:

The polypropylene envelopes (red was all I could find) got hole-punched and hold cards and other mementos:

I set up the pages in Word with fonts and borders I like (leaving a wider margin on one side for hole-punching), and printed them on the cardstock to fill in by hand. (You could type everything, if you want.):

An envelope on this page keeps baby shower memorabilia:

I also can print photos to include. A couple of tips for expectant families: Scan ultrasound images because the originals tend to fade quickly. Also, a friend advised me to take some cardstock to the hospital because the staff might make extra footprints for me.

Family Heirlooms | Genealogy fun | Photos
Friday, 21 January 2011 08:48:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 19 January 2011
More in Store
Posted by Diane

We’ve added on to our genealogy store! You’ll now find many more how-to, reference and other helpful genealogy books.

My favorite way to find stuff I need is to type the name of a place (such as a state or country) or research topic (such as military or photos) into the keyword search box in the top left corner of the store.

If you’re a VIP member, remember to log in (click My Account at the very top of the page) for your 10 percent discount.

Here’s a sampling of what’s new:

  • US State Research Guides: Click a state for a list of our familiar State Research Guides, plus new products related to research in that state.

Editor's Pick | Genealogy books
Wednesday, 19 January 2011 13:48:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Good News for Canadian Roots Researchers!
Posted by Diane

I’ve heard about some exciting developments for those researching Canadian roots, so I thought I’d lay ‘em out here:

Perhaps most thrilling for Canadian researchers, Library and Archives Canada (LAC), the country’s main repository of historical records, has announced plans to put most of its services online within the next seven years—in time to celebrate the confederation’s 150th anniversary in 2017. That plan includes several goals, among them:

  • Starting this year, you'll be able order digital copies of documents in LAC’s collection; paper copies will be phased out by April.
  • Over the next year, LAC will double the volume of its already exceptional online content, adding millions of genealogy images in partnership with (sister site to

The Canadiana Discovery Portal is a beta site that lets you search more than 60 million pages of Canadian content from archive collections in libraries, museums, universities and government agencies across the country. Just type a search term, such as a name, place or topic, into the box on the home page. You’ll get digitized books, photos. audio and video You can sort results by relevance or newest/oldest, and filter by language, media (image, audio or video), contributing archive or date range covered.

You can raise your glass to this: is honoring the 225th anniversary of Molson Brewery with “mug-rattling” family stories of the Labatt and Molson families, Canada’s most famous brewers. One such tale you can read about in old newspapers: Harry Markland Molson, great-grandson of John Molson, perished with the Titanic in 1912. 

If you're looking for some guidance in your Candian roots research, here are some of Family Tree Magazine’s resources to check out:

Canadian roots | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Wednesday, 19 January 2011 11:55:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Got the Picture? Using Your Digital Camera for Genealogy
Posted by Diane

The March 2011 Family Tree Magazine (now on newsstands) has a guide to using your digital camera for genealogical purposes—such as capturing images of gravestones, ancestral homes, family heirlooms and your ancestors’ records.

It’s not as simple as taking a quick snapshot, though. Before you start a genealogical photography session, create a shot list of the pictures you want. Here’s what we recommend:

Gravestones Shot List

  • cemetery entrance
  • whole cemetery
  • stones of interest, with nearby stones
  • the whole gravestone, showing the inscription and carving
  • close-ups of the inscription and carvings
  • any creative shots you want of the beautiful artwork and scenes in graveyards

Ancestral Homes Shot List

  • the entrance to the street (a view your ancestor may have seen every day)
  • the house with neighboring buildings
  • the whole house (we suggest first knocking on the door to let the current resident know why you're taking a picture of his house)
  • as many sides of the house as you can capture without trespassing
  • interesting architectural details
  • the yard
  • any features mentioned in family stories (such as the tree Grandpa fell out of as a boy)

Heirlooms Shot List

  • full view of heirloom
  • heirloom with a ruler to show size
  • all sides of heirloom item
  • close-ups of interesting details, such as carving or painting
  • close-ups of manufacturer’s marks
  • close-ups of damage or other features affecting value

Records And Documents Shot List

  • title page of film roll or book
  • full record (be sure to get each page)
  • close-ups of hard-to-read areas
What pictures would you add to our lists? Any tips for others photographing these ancestral items? Click Comments to share!

Family Tree Magazine articles | Photos | Research Tips
Tuesday, 18 January 2011 14:20:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [12]
# Friday, 14 January 2011
Genealogy News Corral: Jan. 10-14
Posted by Diane

  • The University of Texas at Austin has launched a new history website called Not Even Past to provide “dynamic, accessible, short articles on every field of history.” Using the Read, Watch, Discover, Listen and Texas links at the bottom of the page, you’ll find book excerpts and articles from history faculty and graduate students at the university. Content is sparse so far, but this could be a site worth keeping an eye on.

Libraries and Archives | Military records | NARA | Social History
Friday, 14 January 2011 14:46:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]