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# Sunday, March 27, 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 6 Recap
Posted by jamie

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

 "Who Do You Think You Are?" has been on hiatus for a few weeks, so I've really been jonesin' for the NBC family history hit. And Steve Buscemi's episode delivered a one-two punch of drama and mystery that had me on the edge of my seat.

Buscemi, a native New Yorker, began his genealogy journey by meeting with his parents. His family wanted to know more about his mother's ancestry because Amanda Van Dine, Buscemi's mother's mother, took her own life in 1928, leaving a void on in the family tree.

The death certificate of Amanda Van Dine's mother, Jane Van Dine, reveals her parent's names, Julia Vanderhof and Ralph Montgomery, as well as her address when she died. Coincidentally, the address is now a restaurant Buscemi frequents.

The 1880 census lists Jane Montgomery as an 11-year-old live-in servant in Camden, N.J. A researcher explains to Buscemi that it was common for children to enter the workforce, especially poverty stricken families.

Buscemi then searches Ancestry.com's user-uploaded family trees to find more on Jane Montgomery's parents. Another user has posted a tree with information about Ralph Montgomery, who was born in 1834 in Milton, Pa. Buscemi contacts the person who made the tree, to get more info from them.

In the mean time, he heads to Harrisburg, Pa., to visit state archives. Ralph Montgomery is listed as a dentist in tax records, but the 1860 census indicates he was a grocer and married to woman named Margaret with two young children. Buscemi is stunned to learn his great-great grandfather had a family before he married Buscemi's great-great grandmother Julia Vanderhof.

Buscemi then takes to microfilmed copies of the Pennsylvania Telegraph to try to learn more. He discovers a small snippet about a suicide note signed by Ralph Montgomery found near the Susquehanna River. Clearly, he did not complete suicide, but this must have been a particularly trying time for Ralph Montgomery.

Court records reveal Ralph Montgomery was charged with assault and battery in 1859, but the charges were later dropped. He disappears from tax records in 1861, the year the Civil War began.

This leads Buscemi to search military records. Muster cards reveal Ralph Montgomery enlisted in Pennsylvania's 91st regiment. He deserted June 1962 in Alexandria, Va., a common occurrence for a citizen army, and returned August 1962. He fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg, a bloody loss for the Union. After fighting another battle, he deserted for the last time. (For more on the war between the states, see Life in Civil War America.)

The special Civil War veterans schedule of the 1890 Census lists Ralph's first wife Margaret as a widow; she assumed Ralph was dead when her husband never came home.

Buscemi then get a hold of Ralph Montgomery's New Jersey death certificate. The document indicates he was a dentist and died of tuberculosis. He was buried in strangers row, where indigent or unknown people were buried in unmarked graves.

Buscemi then returns to Brooklyn to meet the person who posted the Ancestry.com family tree. Carol Olive, Buscemi's third cousin, reveals Julia Vanderhof, Ralph Montgomery's second wife, remarried to Charles Brandenburg. Her children who were working as servants, including Jane, are again living with their mother in Brooklyn in the 1892 New York census. (For more on Empire State ancestors, see our on-demand webinar.)

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

And if you haven't already, check out the bonus scenes for each episode of "WDYTYA?" on Hulu.com.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War
Sunday, March 27, 2011 10:39:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Friday, March 25, 2011
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire 100 Years Later
Posted by jamie

The top three floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory blazed shortly before quitting time March 25, 1911, trapping 146 people, mostly women, in the inferno.

A stray cigarette or match dropped into a bin of fabric scraps is credited with starting the the fire. The exits were locked by supervisors, who claimed the workers would steal things if they weren't carefully monitored, trapping them inside. Fire ladders and hoses couldn't reach the top floors. The fire escape collapsed under the weight of fleeing workers. Many women jumped to their death rather than burn alive.

The Triangle factory is near the Lower East Side, a hub of Jewish immigrants in the early 1900s, so many Jewish women worked at the factory and consequently died in the fire. The factory still stands and is now a New York University classroom building, with three plaques memorializing the devastation. (Click here for more on Jewish women in the fire.)

Ironically, the very garment these women were making under deplorable labor conditions is viewed historically as a liberating fashion. The shirtwaist (depicted below) was paired with a skirt to give women more physical mobility, which lead to social mobility as women flooded into the workforce and into the streets to claim their independence. It was certainly a far cry from the bustles, hoop skirts and corsets that confined women for generations prior.



A woman wearing a shirtwaist and skirt | Gjenvick.com

A list of the victims reveals horrifying details about the dead. Ignazia Bellotta's body was identified by the heel of her shoe. Esther Harris died after she broke her back climbing down an elevator chute. The stocking of Julia Rosen was stuffed with $842, several years worth of wages and the equivalent of $19,000 today. Srar Kupla survived her eight-story jump to escape the fire for fire days before she died. (View the entire victim list here.)

Six of the 146 people who died in the fire remained unidentified for nearly 100 years, until independent researcher Michael Hirsch matched the victims with their names and relatives. After the fire, investigators had assumed these unidentified victims were recent immigrants with no family in the United States to claim the bodies. http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/trianglefire/victimsWitnesses/unidentifiedVictims.html

And while the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was a horrifying American tragedy, it spurred sweeping reforms, including new safety and fire regulations, child labor laws and workman's compensation. It also ignited the American labor movement and union membership.

If you subscribe to HBO, catch the documentary "Triangle: Remembering the Fire". It premiered March 21, but check local listings for repeats or visit HBO's website for more information.

We also created this slide show of photos from the fire.



For more on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, visit Cornell's website.


Friday, March 25, 2011 1:30:27 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, March 23, 2011
20 Percent Off Family Tree University Courses
Posted by jamie



If you've been looking to boost your family history search skills, one of our interactive Family Tree University courses may give you the jumpstart you need. The next session starts Monday, March 28, and here's what we're offering:
Use coupon code FTU0311 when you register to get 20 percent off your course, and you'll also receive the Organization Made Easy expert webinar free.

Family Tree University
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 2:47:41 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Free Civil War Webinar
Posted by jamie

Good news, family historians! We're offering one of our interactive online seminars for free to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Learn what life was really like during the war between the states for the soldiers who fought and died in the conflict, as well as the civilians they left behind at home. Take a virtual trip back to the 1860s with Michael O. Varhola, the author of the new book Life in Civil War America, to discover what your ancestors wore, said, ate, earned, did for fun and more.

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
* coupon for purchase of Life in Civil War America or 2011 Civil War desk calendar

The Life in Civil War America webinar is scheduled for April 6 at 2 p.m. Click here to reserve your spot.

UPDATE:
If you cannot attend the free webinar when it is being broadcast, you can still access the recording and handouts afterward by registering for the webinar. Click here to register.


Civil War | Webinars
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 12:21:02 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
Federal Judge Blocks Google Books Expansion
Posted by jamie

Hopes of expanding the already voluminous Google Books collection (7 million books and counting) were shelved by a New York federal district court Tuesday, the ruling citing anti-trust concerns.

Google previously reached a settlement with authors and publishers to digitize and display excerpts of out-of-print books, even if the materials are not in the public domain or explicitly authorized by publishers to appear in Google Books. This agreement was challenged by the Authors Guild and subsequently struck down because it gave Google a virtual monopoly on digitized books. The settlement also raised privacy rights concerns because it would allow Google to track the books users read.

Despite the setback, the current digital collection allows users to search and preview books, periodicals and other materials from libraries and publishers around the world. Google books is an especially useful tool for genealogists, as users can often find complete copies of published genealogies, directories, local histories and other useful materials. (We've bookmarked some of our favorite family history titles in our Google Books library.)

For more on using Google Books for genealogy, read this Genealogy Insider blog post or watch the video below:



Genealogy books
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 9:49:28 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Only 50 Ultimate Family History Starter Collections Left
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 50 copies of this collection left for 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.



Tuesday, March 22, 2011 2:05:32 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
Tech Tips with Lisa Louise Cooke: WDYTYA Revisited & Photo Gems
Posted by Lisa

When I got back from the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in London at the end of February, I not only had a bag full of dirty laundry, but a slew of recorded interviews with fascinating genealogy experts, exhibit hall brochures, treasured purchases and a mountain of digital photographs.

After firing up the washing machine, I sat down at my desk and wondered what I would do with all those JPEG jewels. Photographs capture once-in-a-lifetime moments and treasured family memories that we certainly don’t want to forget. But assembling them in a way that can be enjoyed for years to come is not as simple as it was in the old days when we sat down to our scrapbooks and prints.

Here are three tips for assembling your precious pics in a way that will delight you and those you share them with:

Go Interactive
Genealogy Blogger Mark Tucker recently emailed me a link to one of his posts on Zoom.it, a website that allows you to create interactive displays of your favorite photos. This is really slick for high-resolution shots that you want your audience to explore more in depth.

Here’s a Zoom.it of Hinchingbrooke House just north of London. If you’re a regular listener of my Genealogy Gems podcast, then you will not only know the significance of this house to the Cooke family, but also how incredible it is that I have any photographs of this part of our trip at all! (Hear the full story in episode 106.)

To learn more about how to use Zoom.it yourself and to see a great example of how it can be used with your own family history photos, check out Mark’s post Interactive Online Family History Photos.

Create a Photo Collage
When assembling a presentation of photos, sometimes less is more. By picking out the cream of the crop, you’ll ensure that your audience will stay enthralled.

But when it comes to creating a photograph collage with ShapeCollage.com, more is better After downloading all of my photos to my hard drive, I just went to ShapeCollage.com and downloaded the free software, navigated to the folder of photos on my hard drive and added them. By selecting Text and typing "WDYTYA” my photos assembled themselves in a creative way to tell the viewer what they were all about.

Video Slideshow
Video production software can also do a nice job of showing off your pics. Here’s my collection spanning the three days of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011. It’s the next best thing to being there!



Photos | Tech Advice
Tuesday, March 22, 2011 8:38:29 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, March 17, 2011
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day With Our Free Roots Resources
Posted by jamie

St. Patrick's Day started as a celebration of Ireland's patron saint. During the 5th century, a shepherd was called to serve the people of Ireland through the Catholic church, taking on the Christian name Patrick.

According to legend, Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, but the island had no snakes at that time; this is most likely a metaphor for him converting the Irish to Christianity and driving out paganism. Another myth has Patrick using the Shamrock to teach the Holy Trinity.

The holiday falls on March 17, because that is the day Patrick died. Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and in Montserrat. The day is widely celebrated in America as a recognition of Irish heritage.

Celebrate your Irish heritage with our roots resources:

For more on St. Patrick's Day, watch a video by the History Channel here.


Family Tree Magazine articles | International Genealogy
Thursday, March 17, 2011 8:37:06 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Online Genealogy Crash Course
Posted by jamie



Jump start you family history search with our Online Genealogy Crash Course. Stop wasting time aimlessly wandering the web — learn how to find your roots online in four hour-long video classes. This DVD brings you recorded webinars with family history experts. Discover valuable tips and tricks for googling your ancestors, using census and vital records websites, and searching the grandmother of all genealogy websites, Ancestry.com.

The DVD contains these tutorials:
Search Engine Tips and Tricks
Streamline Google searches with techniques for using search engines efficiently and effectively. You'll learn:
    •    tips for phrasing your searches
    •    how to tailor your searches to fetch what you're looking for
    •    hints for tools such as Google Books and News Archive
    •    presented by Lisa Louise Cooke


Online Census Secrets

All US census records are online, but finding your ancestor isn't as easy as typing in a name — you need to know where to look and how to make the most of census websites. You'll learn:
    •    key facts about US censuses
    •    how to access free online census records
    •    search strategies for locating hard-to-find ancestors
    •    presented by Allison Stacy and Diane Haddad


Vital Records
Vital records are keys to any genealogical pursuit. We'll show you the basics of how to locate vital records online. You'll learn:
    •    major sites with vital records and indexes
    •    how to get offline records with the help of online resources
    •    presented by Lisa Louise Cooke


Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com

We'll show you insider tricks and techniques for teasing out ancestor information from the site's tens of thousands of databases. You'll learn:
    •    tricks for finding the databases you need
    •    tips for finding elusive ancestors
    •    presented by David A. Fryxell

As a bonus, when you order our Online Genealogy Crash Course, you will receive a coupon for 20 percent off a live webinar. Visit ShopFamilyTree.com for more information and to preorder this DVD.

Editor's Pick | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 2:17:01 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Ancestry.com Unveils Irish Collection
Posted by jamie

Ancestry.com has launched a new collection of Irish records in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

The collection contains records Irish historical documents from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including maps, photographs and land records.

The Irish Collection, 1824-1910
includes:
  • Griffiths Valuation, 1847-1864: Over 2.5 million records that provide a snapshot of ancestors who rented land or property throughout Ireland in the 1850s
  • Tithe Applotment Books, 1824-1837: In 1823, a law was enacted requiring all land holders to pay a tithe to the Church of Ireland, regardless of their religious affiliation. With details like tithe payer, acreage of their land and amount of their tithe, these 600,000 records in effect provide a census of pre-famine Ireland.
  • Ordnance Survey Maps, 1824-1846: The first detailed mapping of Ireland undertaken during the 1830s and 1840s, the later part of which was produced during the height of the famine.
  • Lawrence Collection, 1870-1910: This collection of 20,000 photographs showcases the length and breadth of Ireland, through the eyes of William Lawrence's photography studio in Dublin.
Click here to search Ancestry.com's Irish collection.


Ancestry.com | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 1:06:22 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]