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<2011 February>

More Links

# Friday, 25 February 2011
News Corral: Feb. 25
Posted by jamie

For the first time, people in England and Wales will be able to submit census responses online. Beginning March 4, Brits will be able to unlock the digital questionnaire by entering an access code that will be mailed to each household. Read more about the 2011 UK census here.

Our special Civil War issue isn't on newsstands until March 8, but we have a sneak peek of it on our website. See the Civil War as your ancestors did -- through the lens of the era's photographers. View our slideshow on

We're deciding which states to cover in our Genealogy Crash Course live webinar series and we want your input. We've already served up expert tips and tricks for Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. What are your requests? Weigh in by filling out our survey here.

The Academy Awards are this weekend, and CBS is celebrating with a slideshow of highlights from Oscars past. Click here to see the photos.

Our new monthly bundles are jam-packed with products to help you trace your roots — all at one low price. We only have two left of the Ultimate African-American Genealogy Collection, and once they're gone, they're gone. Learn more about the Ultimate Collection here.

Family Tree Firsts blogger Nancy Shively traveled to Florida to meet cousins she discovered while doing genealogy research. Read her story on

census records | Family Tree Magazine articles | Family Tree University | Genealogy Web Sites | Sales | Webinars
Friday, 25 February 2011 11:44:29 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 23 February 2011
Ohio Genealogy Crash Course
Posted by jamie

Ever wish you could get the inside scoop on researching Ohio ancestors? Or ask experts your burning questions about a Buckeye State brick wall? Or had a clue how to research forebears that settled in the Western Reserve? We'll grant your wishes in our Ohio Genealogy Crash Course live webinar.

During our live webinars, audio is delivered over your telephone or computer speakers. Power Point presentations and desktop or document sharing are presented over the Internet. This is like a talk-radio program with visuals on the Web. You'll be able to have a live Q&A chat with the speakers.

From the Ohio webinar you'll learn:
  • Essential Ohio history
  • Details on vital records and immigration in the state
  • What ethnicity-based records your ancestor may have left
  • The best websites for Ohio research

Registration for the live session includes:
  • Participation in the live presentation and Q&A session
  • Access to the webinar recording to view again as many times as you like
  • PDF of the presentation slides for future reference
  • A PDF of our Ohio State Research Guide

The webinar is March 16, 7 p.m. EST, and will run for one hour. If you register before March 1, you'll receive 20 percent off. Click here to register for the Ohio Genealogy Crash Course live webinar.

Editor's Pick | Sales | Webinars
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 14:43:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Only 6 Ultimate African-American Genealogy Collections Left
Posted by jamie

We’re excited about our new Ultimate Collection program. Each month we’ll release a new collection of carefully selected, discounted products to help you achieve your genealogy goals. A limited number of copies of each collection will be available, so get ‘em while the getting’s good.

For February, we've put together the Ultimate African-American Genealogy Collection in honor of Black History Month. This multimedia collection brings you our most invaluable advice from African-American genealogy experts at an unbeatable price.

The Ultimate African American Genealogy Collection contains:

• Family Tree University independent study course Finding African-American Ancestors in Newspapers CD
• African-American Genealogy Guide digital download
• July 2009 Family Tree Magazine digital issue with a primer on African-American research
• Georgia Genealogy Crash Course on-demand webinar with resources and advice for slave ancestry
Family Tree Magazine 2011 Genealogy Desk Calendar

If all the items were purchased separately, the price would add up to $212.95, but we've bundled them together for $49.99. Save more than $120.00 by purchasing the Ultimate African-American Genealogy Collection on But hurry, there's only six more available for February. Once they're gone, they're gone.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011 10:46:04 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Our Third 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 third lucky 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
Tuesday, 22 February 2011 17:00:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [18]
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 3 Recap
Posted by jamie

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

Rosie O'Donnell often asked her grandmother about a specific photo hanging in her house, but her grandmother was tight lipped about the woman. O'Donnell knew she was somehow related to her, but didn't know much beyond that. So she began her "Who Do You Think You Are?" journey by researching the mystery woman.

She starts looking in the 1900 census, finding her great-grandparents Michael and Ellen Murtha. The census indicates Michael was born in French Canada and his parents were born in Ireland. O'Donnell steps back father to the 1880, but shows Michael living in Brooklyn with a different woman — his first wife Anna.

This leads O'Donnell to Manhattan, where she finds the death certificate for Anna Murtaugh, a variation of the Murtha surname. The cause of death is listed as an explosion of an oil lamp. O'Donnell searches neighborhood newspapers for write-ups about the incident, discovering Anna was holding her infant daughter during the explosion.

Catholic church baptismal records revealed Anna's daughter to be Elizabeth Murtha, who lived through the accident and eventually had many children and grandchildren. Tracing the line forward, O'Donnell is reunited with Elizabeth's grandchildren, her second cousins. They confirm that the mysterious photo is Elizabeth's mother Anna.

After solving that mystery, she travels to Quebec to search parish records for Anna's husband and O'Donnell's great-grandfather Michael Murtha, listed as Michael Murtaugh in baptismal records. Michael's parents are listed as Andrew Murtaugh and Anne Doyle. O'Donnell searches a local newspaper to find the obituary for Anne, which lists her birthplace as Kildare, Ireland. For more on searching newspapers, see our Finding You Family in Old Newspapers on-demand webinar.

O'Donnell then heads to Ireland to find out more about the Murtaughs. Many people emigrated from Ireland at the height of the potato feminine, and Andrew and Anne were among them.

Searching Poor Law Union minute books for a mention of the family, O'Donnell discovers two men sponsored the Murtaughs passage to Canada. The Poor Law Union only provided assisted immigration for severely impoverished families during the feminine. To qualify for assisted immigration, a family would have to live in a work house for at least a year. For more on tracing your Irish roots, see our Irish heritage research guide.

"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?" | Church records | Female ancestors | Newspapers
Tuesday, 22 February 2011 10:48:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# 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]