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<2011 April>

More Links

# Monday, 04 April 2011
Share Your Family Recipes and Food Traditions
Posted by jamie

Food is a key ingredient in every family's history: Dad's Saturday morning pancakes, the marzipan Granny served every Christmas, your Sicilian great-great-grandmother's spaghetti sauce recipe. And we want you to share your family's food traditions with us.

Family Tree Books is collecting short essays for a book about real family recipes and the memories that surround them. We'll select eight submissions to feature in the book based on these criteria:
  • Submissions should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words.
  • Essays should tell the story of a real tradition, including:
  • What is the tradition?
  • Who started it and when?
  • What cultural or regional background does the dish or tradition represent? (for example, is it a US regional specialty or a product of your ancestry in Germany, Sweden, Mexico, etc.?)
  • What does the tradition mean to you and your family?
  • Submissions should include the recipe described in the story and a family photo—of the original chef, people described in the story or yourself. (Pictures of the dish itself may be submitted but likely will not be published.)
To enter: E-mail your essay to with the subject line Family Food Traditions no later than July 13, 2011. To be considered, submissions must adhere to the following specifications:
  • Essays must be in Microsoft Word (.DOC or .RTF) or plain-text format (.TXT). Do not paste your essay into the body of the email.
  • Photos must be in JPG or TIFF format, with a resolution of 300 dpi or higher.
  • Your name, mailing address, phone number and email address must be included in the email message and the essay document.
For full entry details and official rules, click here.

Genealogy books | Genealogy fun
Monday, 04 April 2011 12:59:36 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Saturday, 02 April 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 7 Recap
Posted by jamie

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

The daughter of actress Blythe Danner and producer/director Bruce Paltrow, Gwyneth Paltrow has Hollywood roots. But the actress looked past her famous family to explore her ancestors' extraordinary stories during her episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Gwyneth began by researching her mother's side of the family at the New York Public Library. She finds an obituary for her great-grandmother Ida May Danner, which lists her parents as David and Isabel Stoute Yetter. Isabel's death certificate indicates her a full name is Rosamond Isabel Yetter, born in Barbados, West Indies, and she worked as a domestic servant.

Using this information, Gwyneth finds Isabel and her sister Martha on a passenger list for a commercial sailing ship traveling from Barbados to America. The pair are the only two passengers on this voyage, somehow managing to travel on cargo ship instead of a passenger ship. Isabel is age 18 when she immigrates to America.

Gwyneth then travels to Barbados to find out more about her great-great-grandmother Isabel. At the department of archives, she searches baptismal records, discovering Isabel's father was a merchant clerk — a respectable middle class occupation. She then searches a burial register, finding Isabel's mother and father were both dead by the time she was 13 years old. (For more on searching vital records, see our on-demand webinar.)

During Isabel's time in Barbados, females greatly outnumbered males, so marriage prospects were very limited. Job opportunities were also in short supply for unmarried white women because free black women in Barbados would work for lower wages. And without family ties except each other, Gwenyth concludes the sisters moved to the United States to see what opportunities awaited them there.

Gwyneth then researchers her paternal grandfather Arnold "Buster" Paltrow's family. Buster often spoke ill of his mother Ida Hymen Paltrow's parenting skills, and she seemingly exhibited signs of a severe depression. Gwyneth wanted to know more about Ida and what may have caused her depression.

Ida attended Hunter College, known as Normal College in 1897 when she studied there. The school was a teacher's college, the top profession for a New York woman. Ida was often absent, according to student registries, and she was discharged from the school in 1898. Death certificates for Ida's mother Rebecca Paltrow and Ida's brother Samuel Paltrow indicate Ida attended to them as they died months apart in 1897, explaining her absences from college.

Gwyneth continues her search at the New York City Municipal Archives. The 1920 census lists Ida's family with the surname Paltrowitz. Ida's oldest daughter Helen Paltrowitz, who was 1 in the 1910 census, is not found in the 1920 census. Gwyneth then searches death records, discovering Helen died at age 3 when she was run over by a wagon. Gwenyth concludes these tragedies contributed to Ida's depression.

Gwyneth then focus on one last ancestor, Ida's husband Meyer Paltrowitz. She discovers Meyer's grandfather was Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Pelterowicz, a master of Kabbalah, a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an eternal and mysterious creator and the mortal and finite universe. Books about Hirsch indicate he was regarded as an extremely holy man and a miracle worker. (For more on tracing Jewish roots, see our guide.)

"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?" | Research Tips | Vital Records
Saturday, 02 April 2011 10:51:17 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Friday, 01 April 2011
Ultimate Civil War Anniversary Collection
Posted by jamie

Each month we're releasing 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.

In celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, the April ultimate collection is packed with must-have titles for anyone interested in Civil War family history. This multimedia bundle brings you our most invaluable tips, tricks and how-tos, as well as books on civil war artifacts, historical perspectives, and what life was like in that day and age. There are only 99 copies of this collection available through the end of April.

The Ultimate Civil War Anniversary Collection contains:
    •    Life in Civil War America
    •    Family Tree Magazine May 2011 digital issue (our special Civil War issue)
    •    Online Military Records: Document Your Family's Service webinar
    •    US Military Records Family Tree University independent study course
    •    Civil War Diary Quilt
    •    Family Tree Magazine 2011 Civil War Desk Calendar
    •    Warman's Civil War Collectibles
    •    The Everything Civil War Book

If all the items were purchased separately, the price would add up to $254.88, but we've bundled them together for $79.99. Save $174.89 by purchasing the Ultimate Civil War Anniversary Collection on

Military records | Sales
Friday, 01 April 2011 09:27:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Vote on Our April Cover!
Posted by Grace

We've got a special digital edition coming out today, April 1 -- and you can vote on which cover you like best! Click the image above to see it larger. And here's a sneak peek of the inside:

Click the image to see a larger version and read all the insider tips about the 1940 census. You can download a copy the 1940 Census cheat sheet to share here. (To help interpret some of the markings, you may want to watch this video.)

By the way, happy April Fools Day! :)

And here's some real census advice:

census records | Genealogy fun | Videos
Friday, 01 April 2011 09:05:04 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, 31 March 2011
Ohio Genealogical Society Conference
Posted by jamie

The Ohio Genealogical Society's annual conference kicks off today in Columbus. Throughout the weekend, genealogists will share tips and best practices, and family history organizations and companies will exhibit their products.

The keynote speaker for the conference is David E. Rencher, chief genealogical officer of FamilySearch International, who will address attendees at 8 a.m. Friday. In an interview with the Columbus Dispatch, Rencher said he will announce that a number of Ohio records will be soon be available online for the first time on (Click here to read the entire interview.)

Our publisher and editorial director Allison Stacy is at the OGS conference representing Family Tree Magazine, and she is sharing a booth with our podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke. If you're attending the conference, be sure to drop by our booth and say hello.

Genealogy Events
Thursday, 31 March 2011 13:58:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Family Tree University Civil War Research Course
Posted by jamie

The Civil War — also known as the War of the Rebellion or the War of Northern Aggression, depending which side your ancestors were on — generated more casualties, dissention and records than any other conflict in American history. If your ancestors lived in the United States between 1861 and 1865, they undoubtedly felt the effects of the war. And if they were males in their prime, they probably served in a military unit.

If you're ready to learn more about your Civil War roots, then our Family Tree University Civil War Research course is for you. Let FTU instructor Diana Crisman Smith teach you the organization and structure of the militaries and militias, what sources to look for on the home front, how to order compiled service records, and how to find pension records and veterans organizations.

The next session starts April 11, just in time to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the war between the states, and lasts four weeks. Click here to register.

Editor's Pick | Family Tree University
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 12:01:01 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Shop Family Tree March 30 and Donate to Japan
Posted by jamie

Like the most of the world, we awoke March 11, to the shocking news that a massive earthquake rocked Japan. Watching tragedy unfold halfway across the world — the aftershocks, tsunami and threat of a nuclear meltdown — left us wondering how we could help.

So, we're donating half of all profits from purchases made on Wednesday, March 30, to the American Red Cross. The organization is currently on the ground in Japan supplying people with temporary housing, food, water and other necessities, and it needs our help more than ever.

We hope you'll join our campaign to help Japan by shopping with us Wednesday. Click here to visit Sales
Tuesday, 29 March 2011 12:30:43 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
Tech Tips with Lisa Louise Cooke: Online Family History Books
Posted by Lisa

Canadian author and genealogist Dave Obee recently opined on his Facebook page, “I've been hearing about the pending death of the book for several years now. One of these days, the prediction might turn out to be true.”

Obee’s comment kicked off an interesting online conversation. For many genealogists, the surge in online books can sound like a threat to the paper tome. But, as with all things, the market drives business and innovation, and the convenience and flexibility of digital books is very appealing. Here are some Tech Tips to help you dive in and reap the benefits of this growing phenomenon:

Get Started
Allison Stacy, editor of Family Tree Magazine, made this great video for getting started with Google Books.

See How Other Genealogists Use Google Books
Miriam Robbins Midkiff, author of the popular genealogy blog AnceStories: The Story of My Ancestors was featured in this video produced by Google.

Search Within a Book
After conducting your initial search and selecting a particular book, you can search within that book by simply typing specific keywords in the search box found in the column on the left side of the book’s page. This box searches only the book currently being viewed and makes quick work of finding a desired surname on individual pages of a large volume. (Find this tip in my new book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.)

Keep Up To Date
The Inside Google Books blog is a great way to keep up to date on the latest news at Google Books. Add the RSS feed to your iGoogle page or favorite reader by simply clicking the Feedburner button found in the column on the right.

Google eBooks
Have you noticed that the Google Books homepage looks different these days? That’s because they have introduced the Google eBookstore to the offering. Here’s a terrific little video that explains the benefits of online books in a fun and simple way:

Google eBooks
Don’t skip Google eBooks just because they offer books for sale. Try this handy tip to unearth free gems:

1. Go to Google Books.
2. Click blue Go to the Google eBookstore Now button
3. Type family history in the search box and click the Search All Google eBooks button.
4. Click the Free Only link in the light blue box at the top of the page.
5. You’ll get a results list full of free books, many hard to find self-published family histories.

Look Elsewhere
When it comes to digital family history books, Google Books isn’t the only game in town Check out the Family History Archive, then watch the video below to learn more about how to use this robust resource.

I've had such a great time sharing Tech Tips with you these last 2 months. Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll join me at the free Family Tree Magazine podcast and Genealogy Gems podcast for more lively conversation about genealogy!

—Lisa Louise Cooke

Genealogy books | Genealogy Web Sites | Tech Advice | Videos
Tuesday, 29 March 2011 09:12:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 28 March 2011
Give us Your Feedback and get 15 Percent Off
Posted by jamie

Penny for your thoughts? Well, maybe not a penny, but how does 15 percent off at sound? Just fill out the Family Tree Magazine subscriber survey and we'll send you a 15 percent off coupon code and an opportunity to win one of 10 great prizes as our way of saying thanks.

The survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete, and your responses will be extremely helpful for planning and improving both Family Tree Magazine and Thank you, in advance, for completing this subscriber survey. We look forward to receiving your valuable input!

Click here to complete the subscriber survey. Sales
Monday, 28 March 2011 16:23:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Sunday, 27 March 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'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 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

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War
Sunday, 27 March 2011 10:39:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]