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<2011 February>

More Links

# Friday, 18 February 2011
News Corral: Feb. 18
Posted by jamie has improved its 1910 US census collection to include clearer images, alternate names and mother's and father's birthplace search fields. The best part? You can search the collection for free through Feb. 21.

ProGenealogists released its annual list of the 50 most popular genealogy websites.,,, and round out the top five sites. even made the list. See all the sites here.

Think your ancestors greeted each other with a friendly hello? Think again. The first documented usage of "hello" is in 1827, and it was used attract attention or express surprise. It wasn't until after the telephone came into regular use that "hello" was a common greeting. Read the entire history of the word here.

The New York Times is celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War by posting collaborative blogs in a section called Disunion. The blogs utilizes contemporary accounts and historical assessments to chronicle the Civil War as it unfolded 150 years ago. Stay up-to-date on the posts by liking Disunion on Facebook.

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has been jokingly lobbying for an invite to the royal nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton with no success. But, much to Degeneres' surprise, she is actually related to Middleton -- the two are 15th cousins. Because of the connection, DeGerenes is now awaiting her save the date. | Celebrity Roots | census records | Civil War | Genealogy fun | Social History
Friday, 18 February 2011 11:06:16 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 16 February 2011
"Discover Your Roots" Now Available
Posted by jamie

Discover Your Roots, a 132-page guide to getting started in genealogy from Family Tree Magazine, is the perfect introduction to researching your family history. 

We've jam-packed Discover Your Roots with tips, tricks and how-to guides. Here's a sampling of my favorites:
  • Jumpstart your genealogy research with our 16 ideas that you can accomplish in 20 minutes or less.
  • Embark on your maiden voyage with our guide to researching female ancestors.
  • Navigate death certificates, delayed birth certificates, Social Security applications and WWI draft registration cards with the help of the Document Detective.
  • Become a census sleuth with charts and clues for each US enumeration.
  • Boost your online genealogy with our 101 best free websites roundup, proving some of the best things in life really are free.
  • Keep track of all your new-found family history with our genealogy worksheet starter kit and a decorative fold-out family tree chart.
Look for Discover You Roots on newsstands, or pick up a copy at

census records | Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 12:53:18 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
More From RootsTech With Lisa Louise Cooke
Posted by jamie

With all the anticipation of the first ever RootsTech conference, it’s hard to believe it’s already come and gone. Here are some highlights from this year’s conference that I hope inspire you to attend next year. (Block out February 2-4, 2012 on your calendar!)


Microfilm Distribution: As a member of the media, I had the rare opportunity to see how hundreds of thousands of microfilm rolls make their way around the world each year.  The Family History Library distribution center is the size of 19 football fields and stores 725,000 film copies, each copy averaging 100 feet in length.  Films are stored in huge automated shelving systems holding trays of film that are tracked and accessed by computer. Even though there is a goal to digitize all microfilms held by the FHL, there will always be a need for microfilm distribution because of copyright restrictions. 


Inside the microfilm distribution center at the Family History Library.


Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner: One of the winners at this year’s conference was the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. Many a happy genealogist clutched their new portable workhorse, and those that didn’t already have one were muttering quietly that they really needed one. Having acquired a Flip-Pal scanner myself not long ago, I can say that the buzz was warranted. Look for the Family Tree Magazine review of the Flip-Pal scanner in our May issue, on newsstands March 8.


The Media Center:  I felt a bit like Maxwell Smart in the Cone of Silence from "Get Smart," as I conducted interviews in the glass cubicles at the center of the exhibit hall. The cubicles weren't sound proof, but they provided a convenient place to record audio and video while still capturing the ambiance of the place.  One of my first interviews was with Patricia Van Skaik of the Cincinnati Public Library, who won the Most Distinguished Presenter award for her Saturday presentations. The media center was a stroke of genius on the part of the organizers. It gave podcasters and bloggers the room and tools we needed to get the word out.



Lisa interviewing Patricia Van Skaik in the media center.

Interviews: Curt Witcher, manager of the genealogy deptartment at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind., also sat down with me for an in depth interview. He sees technology converging with genealogy, and his keynote address was quite a hit from sounds of between-session banter. Watch our conversation below:


You can see more from RootsTech at the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. Click subscribe while there and you can receive email notification as they are posted.


Virtual Presentations Roundtable: I wrapped up the whirlwind three-day conference as a panelist in the Virtual Presentations Roundtable. Thomas MacEntee pulled together a panel of experienced webinar presenters, including editor of Family Tree Magazine Allison Stacy, Photo Detective Maureen Taylor, DearMYRTLE, Geoff Rasmussen and Marian Pierre-Louis.  Not only did we provide tips on how societies can hold their own virtual presentations, but the session itself was a virtual webinar.  And to top it off, the RootsTech folks streamed the session live on the RootsTech website!


RootsTech made a bold leap onto the conference scene, and from every indication, it’s here to stay.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun | Tech Advice
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 11:13:43 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Tech Tips From RootsTech with Lisa Louise Cooke
Posted by jamie

This week’s tech tips blog entry is straight from the RootsTech 2011 conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. FamilySearch CEO Jay Verkler and his organizational team brought to life a conference vision that was just a gleam in their eyes 7 months ago. As attendees flooded into the exhibit hall Friday, they were met with towering scaffolding structures framing the various booths, banks of computers and brainstorming areas. It was their first glimpse of the Verkler vision, and it was stunning.

With this being the first run of a new conference, which Verkler refers to as an “experiment,” there are bound to be glitches: delays in information and communication, challenges in addressing such a diverse audience, and Mac users stymied by a PC-oriented facility. But none of these glitches sytmied the core purpose of the conference: Connecting technologists with genealogists. In this area, RootsTech is smooth sailing.

Verkler and his team are striving to find answers to a set of genealogy technology challenges they believe the community is facing. Through classes, exhibits, “unconferencing” brainstorming sessions and a Microsoft-sponsored playground complete with Wii and pool tables, they hope to find answers.

Did genealogists’ find answers to their research challenges at RootsTech 2011? That remains to be seen. But here is a tech tip from conference session Cool Tools to Enhance Your Online Research by Tami Glatz: Windows Snipping tool.

Want save a snippet of a website? Perhaps an image or a paragraph of text? If you’re a PC user with Vista or Windows 7, you have a free tool that allows you to capture a portion of your computer screen. Here’s how you do it:
  1. Navigate to a website where you want to save a portion of a page.
  2. Under the Start menu click All Programs.
  3. Click on the Accessories file folder.
  4. Select Snipping Tool.
  5. The tool pops up in a small window on your screen.
  6. Drag the cursor around the area you want to save.
  7. Click the Save icon in the window, name the image and save it to your hard drive.
It’s as simple as that. No need to jotting down notes on sticky notes or printing out entire web pages for future reference. Now you can snip and save it with the Snipping Tool. Want to see the Snipping Tool in action and learn more about its capabilities? Watch the video tutorial here.

And stay tuned to the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel for videos from the RootsTech 2011. Watch my first one below:

—Lisa Louise Cooke

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events
Tuesday, 15 February 2011 09:58:29 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 14 February 2011
Oprah Winfrey Network Features Genealogy Reality Show
Posted by jamie

Pam Slaton is living her dream. She tracked down her birth parents, volunteered her sleuthing skills to other adoptees, became a professional investigative genealogist and landed a reality show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, sharing her story.

Her journey into family history got off to a rocky start with the search for her birth mother. She hired an investigator to help her; after she located her mother, Slaton was quickly rejected and absolutely devastated. "I never dreamed my birth mother didn't want to know me," Slaton said.

She then set out to find her father. The only information she had was that he was a 6-foot-5-inch Italian mortician living in the Bronx. She later found him, using the little information she had as a jumping off point.

Because of her success, Slaton suggests gathering all the facts you can find before doing any research, even if you think they aren't relevant. Any details could end up being important information. Do a Google search with the information you have, and see where that leads you. "Peel back one layer, then the next, then the next, like an onion," Slaton said.

But don't let the facts you have limit you. "Sometimes the more information you put into a search engine, the less you get back," Slaton said. Names can change or be misspelled, handwritten records are hard to read and and maybe indexed incorrectly, or information you think is right could be wrong. Try removing some information and using a wild card search to yield more results.

While researching for her clients, Slaton utilizes military, census and other records to find birth families. She often uses the information found in those records to trace the ancestral lines forward to locate other living relatives.

If a client is trying to locate a living relative or birth parent, Slaton advises them to make sure you are emotionally ready. The reunion could be a very joyful or upsetting experience for everyone.

She also tells her clients to be respectful and confidential. Don't call everyone with in the phone book the same name as a birth parent.

And it is this sort of knowledge and compassion that leads clients to Slaton. "When I speak to clients, they know I totally get it," she said. "It makes me feel good that I'm that support to them."

"Searching For …" starring Pam Slaton premieres tonight at 9 p.m., on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Monday, 14 February 2011 17:18:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
Our Second Discover Who You Are Sweepstakes Winner
Posted by jamie

We're celebrating the return of NBC’s "Who Do You Think You Are?" with a giveaway. While celebrities explore their genealogy on the show, we want to give you the opportunity to explore your own genealogical history with our Discover Who You Are Sweepstakes!

Each week in February we will announce a lucky winner on our Facebook fan page and the Genealogy Insider blog. Our second winner:

So what's the prize? Four lucky winners will get Discover Your Roots Kits, which include a bookazine for genealogy beginners, a Family Tree University course, a subscription to Family Tree Magazine, our State Research Guides CD and the Family Tree Pocket Reference eBook—a $205 value!

You can enter each week in February, by doing one or both of the following things:

  1. Comment here on the blog during "WDYTYA." You could write about a technique or resource you learned about from the show, or (if you missed the show) something you're looking forward to learning about your own genealogy.
  2. "Like" Family Tree Magazine on Facebook, and comment on or "like" our statuses about "WDYTYA."

We'll pick a winner each Monday and post their name here and on Facebook. 

This contest will run until Feb. 27, 2011. Official rules can be found here.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy fun
Monday, 14 February 2011 15:23:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [7]
Celebrate Valentine's Day With Love-inspired Names
Posted by jamie searched its collection of records for the most amorous Canadian names. Some of the results are romantic while others are downright strange, but one thing is clear — these Canadians' parents were smitten with these monikers.

In the 1861 Canada census, found these romantic results:
  • Love Bully, a 20-year-old woman born in Upper Canada, living in Dover, Kent, Canada West.
  • Cupid Martin, a 35-year-old man originally from the United States, working as a yeoman in Raleigh County, Ontario.
  • Amor Moran, a 24-year-old Irish-born woman found living with her siblings in a Montreal house with four other families.
  • Venus Antahia, a 60-year-old widower who lived alone in Laprairie, Canada East.
  • The first name of Valentine shows up 580 times. One hundred people have Valentine as a surname.
  • Fourteen people have Amor as first name, while 18 have Amor as a surname.
  • Nine people were named after Paris, the city of love.

Other lovely names:
  • Love Burns, 13, can be found living in Harbourville, Nova Scotia, in 1871 Canada census.
  • Lover Woo can be found at 91 Elgin St. in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, in the 1911 Canada census.
  • Bad Heart Lasuisse, a 70-year-old Sioux widower, can be found living with five family members in the Territories in the 1901 Canada census.
  • Romance Turrell married John Obrien on Christmas Day 1878, according to Ontario marriage records.
Have a happy Valentine's Day! Spoil your sweetie with a gift from, or treat yourself.

census records | Genealogy fun
Monday, 14 February 2011 11:08:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 2 Recap
Posted by jamie

Spoiler Alert: If you don't already know what happened during Tim McGraw's episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” you are about to find out.

Country singer Tim McGraw, after looking at his birth certificate as a teenager,  discovered the man he thought was his father was not his biological father. His birth certificate named baseball star Tug McGraw as his father, who he then forged a relationship with as an adult. Tug passed on without revealing much about the McGraw family tree, so Tim explored the paternal line of his ancestry on "Who Do You Think You Are?"

After gathering a few clues from his uncle, McGraw travels to Kansas City, Mo., to find out more about his great-grandparents Andrew and Ellie Mae McGraw. He views Ellie's death certificate and discovered she was a member of the Chrisman family, who settled that area of Missouri.

This led him to Virginia, researching sixth-great-grandfather Isaac Chrisman. Using surveying records and historical maps, McGraw discovers Chrisman lived on the boarder of Indian territory in colonial Virginia. Through a report made by a militiaman, McGraw discovers Chrisman was attacked by Indians and died.

Issac Chrisman's grandfather is Jost Hite, a German immigrant. He traveled to the colonies as an indentured servant with the Pressler family — ancestors of Elvis Presley. Hite quickly worked his way out of servitude and was awarded a massive land grant in Virginia. McGraw views Hite's deeds, and heads to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley to see his land.

The Hite trail then leads McGraw to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. There an archivist shows him George Washington's teenage journal, which indicates Washington lodged at the Hite family home. McGraw also reads a letter written by Washington to his ne'er-do-well neighbor, in which he praises the Hites as a prime example of how one should live his life.

While McGraw had professional researchers to help him navigate land plats and Virginia records, our Family Tree University Land Records 101 course and our Virginia research guides to help you find your ancestors on your own.

"WDYTYA" airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode, and post a comment to be entered to win in our Discover Who You Are sweepstakes!

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | German roots | Land records
Monday, 14 February 2011 10:07:35 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [9]
# Friday, 11 February 2011
Genealogy News Corral: Feb. 11
Posted by jamie

The General Registrar Office of Scotland will release 1911 census records April 5. This enumeration contains the names, addresses, ages, occupations, birthplaces and marital statuses of more than 4.7 million Scots. Subscription website ScotlandsPeople will have the data available online in full color.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies has scheduled its annual conference for Sep. 7–10, in Springfield, Il. This year's theme is Pathways to the Heartland, and David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States, is scheduled as the keynote speaker. Click here to read more about the conference or to register.

Facebook application We're Related will integrate with a FarmVille-like application to create an online game for players to explore their family trees and build an online community. While players construct houses, start businesses, immigrate family members and assign jobs, Family Village matches inputted data with relevant real-world documents—such as census records, newspaper articles and marriage records—about the user's living and deceased relatives. Players can then examine the records, print them, or store them in their personal game library. Click here to play Family Village on Facebook.

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies has acquired, a social networking website for genealogists. As a result, the site will gain new features, like allowing users to sit in on live meetings digitally. announced two January winners for it's new monthly grant program. Columbia County, Pa., Historical & Genealogical Society will use its grant to transcribe marriage license dockets 1921 to 1939—an estimated 9,000 bride and groom names. Myron McGhee will use his grant to travel to Alabama to interview residents, review deed transcriptions and scan photographs to test a hypothesis that his black ancestors roots are related to a white family in the area with the same name. Each recipient will receive $1,000 for their genealogy project.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a digital copy of a map used by Abraham Lincoln to coordinate military operations with his emancipation policies. The map illustrates the slave population density in 1860 America geographically, and is available for view here.

African-American roots | census records | Civil War | Historic preservation | International Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 11 February 2011 15:43:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 09 February 2011
New "Life in Civil War America" Book
Posted by jamie

Whether your fourth-great-grandfather served in the Civil War or your ancestors watched from the sidelines, gain insight into their experiences with Life in Civil War America by historian Michael O. Varhola.

His new book takes readers back to the war between the states, illuminating the sweeping changes and cultural norms that shaped the everyday lives of soldiers and civilians. Discover what it was like to sit around the campfire cooking hellfire stew and "throwing the papers" with fellow soldiers. Or see how it was on the home front, passing the time with war worries at a starvation party, where the only refreshment served was water.

Inside the cover you'll find:
  • a look at the social and economic realities of daily life in the Union and Confederacy, from big cities and small towns to plantations and communes
  • an explanation of military life in the army and navy, from rankings and regiments to duties and dress
  • the typical diets of soldiers and civilians, including period recipes, food preparation and the impact of shortages and inflation on rations
  • definitions of common terms, slang and idioms of the era
  • dozens of Civil War photographs and illustrations plus an appendix on the role photography played during the war
  • a quick-reference timeline detailing the events of the war
  • tips for researching ancestors who fought in the Civil War
  • information on Civil War resources, books, periodicals, websites and historic sites
Life in Civil War America is now available on at a special 33 percent discount.

Civil War | Sales
Wednesday, 09 February 2011 14:53:01 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]