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# Monday, January 31, 2011
"Who Do You Think Are?" Returns Friday
Posted by jamie

The second season of "Who Do You Think You Are?" debuts Friday, and the first episode features Vanessa Williams exploring her father's ancestry.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Rosie O'Donnell, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie and Ashley Judd will also add new branches to their family tree this season. Through these celebrities' ancestries, "WDYTYA?" will tell the stories of a slave liberator, a colonist, a bigamist, a miracle baby and a Civil War prisoner, to name a few.

Before you watch the show, check out our "WDYTYA?" episode one sneak peek, and our Q&A with Williams and show producer Lisa Kudrow. After the episodes, join the discussion on our "WDYTYA?" forum.

"WDYTYA?" premieres Friday, Feb. 4, at 8 p.m. EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode.


"Who Do You Think You Are?"
Monday, January 31, 2011 4:11:42 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Black History Month Genealogy Resources
Posted by jamie

Black History Month is celebration of the role African Americans played in shaping U.S. history. The annual event started as “Negro History Week” in 1926, and blossomed into a month-long commemoration marked by every U.S. president in office since 1976.

Festivities kick off Feb. 1, and we'd like to help you celebrate your heritage. Discover your black history with some of our genealogy resources:


Look for a guide to tracing black ancestors using African American newspapers in our May issue, on newsstands March 8.


African-American roots
Monday, January 31, 2011 1:31:43 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy News Corral
Posted by jamie

Planning to attend the New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) April 6-10 in Springfield, Mass.? Register soon: The deadline for early bird savings is Feb. 15—after that, the full-conference fee goes from $110 to $135. Learn more on the NERGC website.

Here’s another money-saving tip for you: If you’ve been thinking about joining subscription historical records site Footnote, we got an e-mail about a $49.95 membership sale going on through Jan. 31 (the normal annual membership costs $79.95). Click here to see the offer.

Starting Feb. 12, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis is hosting an exhibition called Red/Black: Related Through History about the interwoven history of African-Americans and American Indians. It gathers personal narratives, paintings, baskets, pottery, photographs and other rare items from across the country to tell the story of the two groups’ shared experiences. (You can read more about “Black Indians” here.)

The National Archives has launched a free mobile app called Today’s Document. It helps you learn what happened on a specific date, search for a document by keyword, or browse historical highlights from the archives’ holdings. You can view photos and documents, and read background information on the selection.  Learn more from this video, and download the app from the Android marketplace or the Apple iTunes Store.


African-American roots | American Indian roots | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Monday, January 31, 2011 9:39:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 27, 2011
FamilySearch Adds Naturalization, Border-Crossing Records
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch’s latest records update includes 3 million new U.S. naturalization records and Ancestry.com’s indexes for US border crossings from Canada to the United States  and Mexico to the United States. Previously, these collections were available online only through subscription-based sites. (You can find the records on microfilm at National Archives facilities, the Family History Library and many large genealogy libraries.)

See the FamilySearch website for a list of the rest of its recently added records. If you don’t want to search all the records on the site using the search form on the home page, here’s how to find the individual databases:

  1. Scroll down on the FamilySearch home page to Browse By Location and click the world region of interest.

  2. In the filter links on the left side of the page, click the country. (That’s as narrow as you can get when it comes to places at this time.) In the center of the page, you'll see an alphabetical list of all databases pertaining to that country.

  3. Below the place filters, you can use other filters to narrow the database list by year range and type of record.

  4. Once you’ve narrowed as much as you can, look for the database title in the alphabetical list in the center of the page. (Most US naturalization records are separated into databases for the relevant states, so they're alphabetized under state names for those.)

Using your browser’s Find function (Control+F or Apple+F) to search for a word in the title of the database you need will help you sidestep some inconsistent titling that can make a few collections hard to find.

For example, Revolutionary War pension records are in the database “Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications Files,” listed with the Rs, but Revolutionary War service records are in the database titled “United States, Revolutionary War Compiled Service Records, 1775-1783”—listed with the Us.

Also, “United States, Index to Naturalizations of World War I Soldiers, 1918” isn’t listed near the naturalization records from US District Courts, which are alphabetized by the name of the state the records are from, or with the WWII records in “United States, World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942.”

I noticed those WWI soldier naturalizations don’t show up when you use the Migration & Naturalization or Military Records filter (but they are included in the Court Records). I sent a comment about it; if you find a categorization or other quirk, you can comment using the orange Feedback tab on the right side of the site's pages.


FamilySearch | Free Databases | immigration records | Military records
Thursday, January 27, 2011 10:15:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Preview of "Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode One
Posted by jamie

Following our media conference call with "Who Do You Think You Are?" producer Lisa Kudrow and season two, episode one celebrity Vanessa Williams, we were able to screen the first episode.

While we won't reveal all the juicy details of Williams' ancestry,  here are a few things to look forward to in her "WDYTYA?" episode:

  • Civil War history buffs, rejoice! This episode is chock full of Civil War and Reconstruction history, including the effect of slavery and Jim Crow laws on Williams' ancestors.
  • Williams made history as the first African American crowned Miss America, but she isn't the only noteworthy person in her family tree. She delves into the astonishing history of one of her former slave ancestors.
  • On a trip to Washington, D.C., National Archives researcher Vonnie Zullo stumbles upon a rare genealogical find while researching Williams' great-great grandfather David Carll. The item is so unheard of, Zullo says it's the only one she's come across in her 20-plus years at the depository.
  • If the first episode is any indication of what's to come on "WDYTYA?", expect more air time devoted to original documents and what goes into tracing your roots.

"WDYTYA?" premieres Friday, Feb. 4, at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | African-American roots
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 1:49:05 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
Missouri Genealogy Crash Course
Posted by Diane


From St. Louis' gleaming Gateway Arch to Kansas City in the west and the Ozarks in the south, Missouri has been the Promised Land for some and a pit stop on the way West for others. 

American settlement there began as early as 1787, especially from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and the Carolinas. The population was about 57,000 when Missouri became a state in 1821. Joining descendants of those early French and American settlers were immigrants from Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, England and Czechoslovakia. In the mid-1800s, many Germans and Irish arrived.

We’ll help you trace your Missouri ancestors in our Missouri Genealogy Crash Course: Find Your Show-Me State Ancestors live webinar.

The hour-long webinar is Wed., Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. Eastern time (that’s 6 p.m. Central/ 5 p.m. Mountain/ 4 p.m. Pacific). 

Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Nancy Hendrickson, a veteran Missouri researcher, and expert guest presenters Angela McComas from the Midwest Genealogy Center and Dennis Northcott of the Missouri History Museum will share essential history and migration information, details on vital records, the best websites and other resources for Missouri research, and more.

Among the great resources you’ll learn about are the state archives’ county-by-county listing of microfilmed records and Missouri Digital Heritage, where many important sources such as abstracted vital records and naturalizations are digitized. It’s enough to make me wish for Missouri ancestors!

Missouri Genealogy Crash Course webinar attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions in advance, and be able to view the webinar again as many times as they like. For a limited time, you can save 20 percent on your registration at ShopFamilyTree.com.


Editor's Pick | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 11:11:28 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 25, 2011
MyHeritage Upgrades Smart Matching
Posted by Diane

Family networking and genealogy site MyHeritage.com 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 MyHeritage.com basic members, but those on MyHeritage.com 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, January 25, 2011 3:05:29 PM (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 Ancestry.com 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, January 25, 2011 10:58:13 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, January 24, 2011
Ancestry.com to Discontinue Expert Connect
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.com 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, Ancestry.com 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."


Ancestry.com
Monday, January 24, 2011 4:31:39 PM (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 Ancestry.com (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. Ancestry.com 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?" | Ancestry.com
Monday, January 24, 2011 4:23:22 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]