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# Saturday, March 05, 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 5 Recap
Posted by jamie

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

Singer-songwriter Lionel Ritchie explored his great-grandfather's history on his episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Richie began his journey at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where his mother, father and grandmother were professors. Gathering clues with his sister, Richie uses his grandmother's Social Security application to find her father's name — John Louis Brown.

He heads to his grandmother's birthplace of Nashville to learn more about J.L. Richie searches an old marriage registry and finds J.L. married Volenderver Towson on April 6, 1890. An archivist then shows Richie a copy of a divorce complaint, revealing J.L. was 50 when he married the 15-year-old Towson. A judge grants the divorce because J.L. abandoned his young wife for over two years.

Perplexed, Richie searches city directories from the 1880s, which list J.L. as a member of a black fraternal organization Knights of Wise Men. The group, founded in 1879, offered financial benefits to all members for illness and death. The Knights of Wise Men was a prototype of modern organizations that propelled the Civil Rights Movement, and J.L. was the national leader of the group.

According to an 1891 Chattanooga, Tenn., newspaper article, the Knights of Wise Men eventually collapsed because the group had to pay out a large amount of death benefits at once during a small pox epidemic; the treasurer then ran off with what was left of the money. For more on researching African-American ancestors in newspapers, see our Family Tree University independent study course here.

A 1929 Chattanooga city directory reveals J.L. was caretaker at a black cemetery, Pleasant Gardens. J.L.'s death certificate indicates he was buried in that cemetery. The document also lists J.L.'s father as Morgan Brown and his mother as unknown.

Richie visits Pleasant Gardens, distraught to see the graves overrun by weeds and grass. J.L. is buried in the pauper section of the cemetery, where most of the graves are unmarked.

Richie then finds J.L.'s pension application. At first he thinks J.L. was a soldier in the Civil War, but he was actually body servant — a butler to soldiers. Slaves were hired out for this dangerous job, and free blacks did it for low pay. J.L.'s owner was listed on the pension application as Morgan W. Brown, meaning J.L. could have been a slave and his owner could have also been his father. Learn more about tracing slave ancestors here.

At the Nashville Public Library, Lionel discovers there are two Morgan Browns in the area: Dr. Morgan Brown and his son Morgan W. Brown. Dr. Brown's journal reveals he owned a working slave plantation and one of the slaves, Mariah, gave birth to a son, Louis, in 1839, an unusual notation for a master to make in his journal. Dr. Brown was about 80 years old when Louis was born, but his son Morgan W. Brown was 39 at the time. It is still unclear which Morgan Brown is J.L.'s father.

Dr. Brown wrote his will during Mariah's pregnancy, granting Mariah and her child freedom, land and money for education of the child upon Dr. Brown's death. It is unclear if the executor of the estate, Morgan W. Brown, carried out Dr. Brown's wishes. For more on researching African American ancestors, see our guide here.

"WDYTYA" airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Civil War
Saturday, March 05, 2011 11:15:03 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, March 04, 2011
News Corral: March 4
Posted by jamie

Genealogy has gone prime time. NBC gave "Who Do You Think You Are?" the green light for a third season. "Faces of America" will return to PBS for another season. And on this week's "Top Chef All-Stars," contestants traced their family treed and competed at Ellis Island, cooking up dishes based on their family's heritage. Read more about the genealogy TV trend here.

GenealogyBank is offering a yearly subscription to its newspaper collection for 75 percent off. This offer is good through March 14, and you can learn more on GenealogyBank.com.

Family Tree Firsts blogger Nancy Shively discovered her great-grandfather suddenly came into money and lost it all, and she's determined to find out more. Read her full story on FamilyTreeUniversity.com.

The last living World War I veteran, Frank Buckles, died Sunday. Buckles drove an Army ambulance in France in 1918, after lying about his age to recruiters. He was 110 years old. Read his full story here.

The National Archives at Atlanta will present a Civil War Symposium, a day-long program commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The event features scholars and historians from leading archival and academic institutions, as well as an exhibit of 19th century African American newspapers. The symposium is slated for April 16 and costs $20 to attend. Visit NARA's website for more information.

Don't forget about our Ultimate Family History Starter Collection. This multimedia bundle brings you our most invaluable tips, tricks and how-tos to help you jump start your genealogy research. There are only 150 copies of this collection available through the end of March. There's more information in this Genealogy Insider blog post.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Family Tree Firsts | Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers
Friday, March 04, 2011 3:49:53 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
Baby's First Family History Center Visit
Posted by Grace

Diane's on maternity leave for a few more weeks, but that hasn't stopped her from continuing her genealogy research. She brought baby Leo with her on a recent trip to a Family History Center to request some microfilm. I am sure he was a very popular guy! Look at those hands -- he's just itching to get his mitts on some microfiche.

If you're planning on taking a trip to a Family History Center for the first time, you've got to read our article "Family History Central" (available to Plus members) from the January 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine.


FamilySearch | Genealogy for kids | Genealogy fun

Friday, March 04, 2011 11:05:28 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, March 03, 2011
Our Last Discover Who You Are Sweepstakes Winner
Posted by jamie

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

Each week in February, readers entered the sweepstakes by commenting on the Genealogy Insider blog and our Facebook fan page. Our last lucky winner:

So what's the prize? Four lucky winners received 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.

We loved interacting with you all on Facebook and the blog. And while the sweepstakes is over, we hope you keep in touch.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy fun
Thursday, March 03, 2011 9:41:54 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Who Do You Think You Are? Live Wrap-up Report with Lisa Louise Cooke
Posted by Lisa

Once again, the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in London attracted thousands of eager visitors anxious to learn more about their family tree. It was my great pleasure to not only participate as a speaker this year, but also to report on the event for the Genealogy Insider.


The exhibition hall was packed for WDYTYA? Live.

According to Else Churchill, genealogist for the Society of Genealogists in the UK and organizer of the society’s workshops at the event, BBC Magazines Bristol has purchased a major share of the show from Brand Events, who has organized it for the last five years. The new owners will be managing the event from this point forward, and they are already busy making big plans.

I was very excited to bring a technology topic to the event with my Make Google Work Harder for Your Family History workshop. On the heels of RootsTech, WDYTYA? Live will be looking toward technology and social media and their role in genealogy, expanding those topic areas next year.


Lisa teaching her Google workshop at WDYTYA? Live.

Churchill and her team worked tirelessly to organize the Society of Genealogists workshops, and their Ask the Expert booth, spearheaded by Lori Weinstein, was a big hit once again. I participated in a 2 hour shift on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed working one on one with eager attendees.

Visitors also really appreciated the expanded gallery area upstairs and from what I could see, they made very good use of it. They found more room to roam in the military and photographic exhibit areas, plenty of tables and seating (where my husband and I held an impromptu family reunion with three other distant British Cooke cousins!), and even a pasty pie stand (which, of course, I felt obligated to taste test – yummy!).

One of the unique aspects of WDYTYA? Live is the inclusion of celebrities profiled on the BBC TV series "Who Do You Think You Are?" Monty Don ("Gardener’s World"), Hugh Quarshie ("Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace"), and celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott kept audiences riveted as they recounted their personal family history journey.

Additional News:

  • The British Library announced its digitization of the India Collections
  • Deceased Online has added Scottish MIs
  • FindMyPast.co.uk will be adding transcriptions of Scottish census records only
  • The Genealogists is adding war memorials

And here's a few more photos from the event:

Ancestry.com scanning booth

Lisa with Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor.

Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives booth


Lisa interviews a representative of the Western Front Association.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com | Genealogy Events | Podcasts | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 9:14:25 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Celebrate Women's History Month By Finding Female Ancestors
Posted by jamie

March marks National Women's History Month, a celebration of the often overlooked contributions women have made to history. The month evolved from National Women's History Week, established in 1978 by the Education Task Force of Sonoma County, Calif., to coincide with International Women’s Day.

In 1981, Congress issued a joint resolution supporting Women’s History Week. In 1987, the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to expand the celebration to the entire month of March. Since then, the National Women’s History Month resolution has been approved every year with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

Celebrate Women's History Month by researching your female ancestors.  Here are a few of our online resources:


Female ancestors
Tuesday, March 01, 2011 12:12:14 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Ultimate Family History Starter Collection
Posted by jamie



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 March, we've put together the Ultimate Family History Starter Collection. This multimedia bundle brings you our most invaluable tips, tricks and how-tos to help you jump start your genealogy research. There are only 150 copies of this collection available through the end of March.

The Ultimate Family History Starter Collection contains:
  • Discover Your Roots Spring 2011 digital issue
  • Family Tree Essentials CD
  • Beginner's Guide to Genealogy digital download
  • Your Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com: Tips, Hints and Hacks for Finding Your Ancestors on-demand webinar
  • Family Tree Magazine Web Guides CD
  • Discover Your Family Tree Family Tree University course
If all the items were purchased separately, the price would add up to $122.94, but we've bundled them together for $49.99. Save $72.95 by purchasing the Ultimate Family History Starter Collection on ShopFamilyTree.com.

ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, March 01, 2011 9:50:49 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Saturday, February 26, 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 4 Recap
Posted by jamie

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

Actress Kim Cattrall set out to solve a 70-year-old mystery and explore her British heritage on her episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

George Baugh, Cattrall's grandfather, disappeared when her mother, Shane, was 8 years old. When George left, he tried to bribe Shane to accompany him, but she decided to stay behind with her mother. Shane never saw him again, and her mother and two sisters lived in extreme poverty in Liverpool.

After meeting with Shane and her two aunts, Cattralls discovers through a newspaper clipping that George had a sister Edna. Cattrall visits an address listed for Edna, and when no one answers, she knocks on a neighbor's door. The neighbor instantly recognizes Cattrall and tells her that Edna and George's other sister Amy are still alive; she gives Cattrall their address.

When she meets with Edna and Amy, she learns that George had a history of running away and was unhappy with his marriage to Cattrall's grandmother. The sisters also show Cattrall family photos, but none of them are of George.

Cattrall returns to the hotel where a package from a researcher is waiting for her. It contains a copy of George's marriage certificate to woman that was not Cattrall's grandmother. The document indicates he remarried less than a year after he left the family without divorcing his first wife.

With his new wife, Isabella Oliver, George moves to Durham County where the couple has three children during the 1950s -- Penelope Isabella Baugh, John Oliver Baugh and George William Baugh.

Isabella's brother, William Oliver, and his wife Maisie lived next to Isabella and George in Durham County. Cattrall finds Maisie in a phone book and meets with her and her daughter. (For more on tracing ancestors using city directories, see our how-to guide.)

Maisie explains that George met Isabella in Manchester in 1938, and they had a daughter, Irene, there before moving to Durham County. His new family with Isabella didn't know anything about George's previous family.

Maisie also tells Cattrall that George and his family picked up and moved to Australia in the 1960s. After traveling Down Under, Cattrall discovers George died in 1974 and Isabella in 1990. She decides not to track down their children in Australia.

After her journey, Cattrall returns to Liverpool to share everything she learned about George with her mother Shane and her aunts. After hearing the story, the sisters decide to contact their half siblings in Australia.
(For more on tracing British subjects in Australia, see the March 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine on newsstands now.)

"WDYTYA" airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Saturday, February 26, 2011 11:00:13 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
An Insider Look at Who Do You Think You Are? Live by Lisa Louise Cooke
Posted by Lisa

In this edition of my guest post for the Genealogy Insider I’m reporting from the Who Do You Think You Are? Live event in London, which runs Friday, Feb. 25, through Sunday, Feb 27.

While I could spend time telling you about the huge booths and displays of the genealogy giants like Ancestry.uk, FamilySearch or Find My Past, I think it would miss the mark on conveying what is truly unique about this particular event. It’s the “little guy” – the local society, volunteer organization and fledgling online start-up – that fills the vast majority of the exhibit hall. Here are just a few that stood out as I made way up and down the aisles:

Discover Ireland
“Genealogy butler” and professional genealogist Helen Kelly sat down with me at the Discover Ireland booth to talk about the countless number of people they have helped trace their Irish ancestors and then make the journey to the homeland. Their free booklet “Tracing Your Ancestors” in Ireland walks family historians through doing research on their own in the U.S, heading online to tap into digital records, hiring professional help as needed, and tips for making the trip and walking the green grass of Ireland in person.

“We have to be quiet sometimes,” says Kelly, “…we have to sit in the landscape and then the stones can speak to us.” Kelly made a compelling case for making the journey “back to the community that nurtured your ancestors.” While many things have changed, you can still experience the accents, landscape and culture that enveloped your ancestors.

Kelly summed it up this way, “We are not just part of our people, we are also part of our landscape.” Stay tuned to my Genealogy Gems podcast, where you will hear my entire conversation with this inspirational expert on discovering Ireland.


Lisa talks with Helen Kelly about tracing Irish roots.


Western Front Association

If you have an ancestor who served during the Great War, the Western Front Association may have just the resources and expertise you are looking for. Founded by historian John Giles in 1980, the association has grown to include thousands of members around the world. Their historical information officer is available to help with research questions, and their publications and unique record holdings make them an ideal resource.

War Memorials Trust
As I approached their booth, a woman named Nancy welcomed me and explained the simple yet vital purpose of the War Memorials Trust: to monitor the condition of war memorials and to encourage protection and conservation when appropriate. They also strive to provide expert advice to war memorial projects across the UK, to act as the specialist organization for war memorial conversation issues and to facilitate repair and conservation through grants. I was pleased to see organizations in attendance that play a vital role in empowering all of us to help preserve our precious history.

Friends of the MPHC
Do you have a bobby in your background? If so, the Metropolitan Police have a resource for you! The Met Collection encompasses artifacts previously hidden from view. The permanent public display at the Met Collection heritage center rotates from the 17,000 items that make up the collection including uniforms, photos, police equipment and a vast database of records. You can visit the collection in person at The Annex, Empress State Building, Empress Approach, Lillie Rd., London SW6 1TR (a 2 minute walk from the Brompton tube station) or visit them online at the Friends of the MPHC website.

With such a variety of fascinating topics and experts to learn from, it’s no wonder that over 17,000 people have bought tickets to attend the three-day event. Next week I’ll have a complete wrap up for you on the Who Do You Think You Are? Live event. 

FindMyPast.co.uk's booth at Who Do You Think You Are? Live.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy Events | International Genealogy | Military records | Podcasts
Saturday, February 26, 2011 6:22:50 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, February 25, 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 FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

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 FamilyTreeUniversity.com.


census records | Family Tree Magazine articles | Family Tree University | Genealogy Web Sites | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Friday, February 25, 2011 11:44:29 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]