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<2011 April>

More Links

# Thursday, 28 April 2011
Ideas for Mom on Mother's Day
Posted by Diane

I have Anna Marie Jarvis to thank for my upcoming breakfast in bed this Mother's Day (my first as a mom). She established the day in 1908 with backing from Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker. The state of West Virginia declared the holiday in 1910, and the rest of the states followed suit.

Mother’s Day is coming right up on May 8, so I’ve been dreaming up gift ideas a family history-minded mom might go for. Here are some I’ve come up with:

Framed photo: If you have one of those three- or four- (or more) generation photos of moms in your family, that would be perfect. Or a picture of you and your mom. Or maybe find pictures of you, your mom and her mom at about the same age, and frame them together.

Photo gifts: Use a digital photo and a website such as Shutterfly or Snapfish to create anything from coffee mugs to mousepads.

Family Tree: Create a decorative family tree with photos. You can use your genealogy software to do this, or download a decorative tree from a site such as FamilySearch, then print and fill it out. Several sites let you fill out a tree online and either print it for free or order a professionally printed version. Here’s our roundup of sites for generating or ordering a decorative family tree

Family history or memoir book: Try the fill-in book Family Tree Legacies  or Grandma’s Memories, which has prompts to help mom share her life stories. 

Mom advice: Books such as 150 Tips and Tricks for New Moms, All About Mom or A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers might have just the advice or inspiration a mom in your life needs.

Genealogy helps: You can find all kinds of items at to help mom discover her roots. If you're not sure where to start, try a State Research Collection  for a state she’s searching in, or our Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD to help her keep her research shipshape. 

How are you honoring your mom this year?

Female ancestors | Genealogy fun
Thursday, 28 April 2011 16:37:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Find Your California Kin
Posted by Diane

Our ancestors poured into California from all walks of life: They were early Spanish missionaries, Gold Rush migrants, wagon train pioneers, railroad workers, immigrants through West Coast ports, Great Depression-era “Okies,” and fortune-seekers from any era.

California’s population grew explosively before record-keeping was well-established. So how do you pick out your ancestor from all those people? Get help tracing your Golden State roots in our next webinar:

California Genealogy Crash Course: Find Your Golden State Ancestors

You’ll learn about helpful records for California research, the best websites to search, and hints for dealing with common obstacles such as long waits for vital records and the San Francisco earthquake and fire. With your registration for the live session, you’ll get:

  • 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 your future reference
  • PDF of our California State Research Guide

The $39.99 early bird price ends May 14. Learn more and register here.

Editor's Pick | Webinars
Thursday, 28 April 2011 09:38:41 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Resources for Researching Your Royal Roots
Posted by Diane

You might have royal roots, even if they’re not recent enough to get you invited to the big wedding this Friday.

More than 60 percent of Americans descend from royalty, says Gary Boyd Roberts, author of The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants (Clearfield Co.). Most of those have New England Yankee, Pennsylvania Quaker or Tidewater planter ancestry.

The immigrants who brought their blue blood with them to the New World were most likely
  • Puritans who settled in New England
  • Quakers (often Welsh) in Pennsylvania
  • Scots in mid-Atlantic states (some in Virginia)
  • Anglican “cavaliers” in Tidewater Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina.

Having a sizable number (50 to 100) of immigrant ancestors in one or more of those areas is a good indication you have royal roots. Also look for ancestors with gentry-level occupations such as a wealthy farmer or merchant, governor, minister or military officer.

If you suspect royal roots, your research strategy will be similar to that of any ancestry: Work backward generation by generation, keeping an eye out for the link to a royal family. But watch out for forged published genealogies, which might've been created as families tried to prove distinguished heritage.

Here are some free articles with royal roots resources:

You’ll find our guide to researching royal roots in the Spring 2011 Discover Your Roots (also available as a digital issue). 

And check out the books Colonial Americans of Royal & Noble Descent: Alleged, Proven, and Disproven by Patricia Scherzinger and, for more-distant royal links, Blood Royal: Issue of the Kings and Queens of Medieval 1066-1399: The Normans and Plantagenets by T. Anna Leese. 

I'd love to hear about your genealogical connections to the royal family!

Celebrity Roots | Research Tips | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 09:36:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 26 April 2011
Quiz Yourself on the Royal Family
Posted by Diane

Are you related to royalty? Well, even if you're not, you can test your knowledge of the British royal family with a little quiz we put together in anticipation of Friday’s royal wedding between Prince William and Kate (officially, “Catherine”) Middleton.

Quiz yourself here.

Americans can watch the wedding, taking place at 11 am in London (6 am on the US East Coast), on several network and cable channels. Of course, coverage of pre-wedding events will start much earlier. Here’s a website to help you plan your tv viewing

I love to see a girl become a princess as much as the next person (maybe more), but sleep is precious in my house these days, so I’ll be snoozing away at 6 a.m. if the baby lets me.

Do you plan to watch? Are you related to any British royals? How'd you do on the quiz?

Later this week, I'll post some resources to help you discover your royal roots.

Update: Geni shared this royal family tree (complete with longest-lived royals and other fun facts) with us. Have a look!

Celebrity Roots | Genealogy fun
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 12:40:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 25 April 2011
Rapper to Trace Roots on VH1 Show
Posted by Diane

Rapper 50 Cent will trace his roots in a VH1 “Rock Docs” documentary called “The Origin of Me,” to air May 23 at 9 pm.

The show follows 50 Cent to South Carolina, where his family lived before migrating to New York City in the 1950s. He visits relatives, investigates his roots at the Edgefield County Archives and meets the descendants of slave owners.

From the press release: “50 also learns that in the years following the Civil War, his ancestors faced the infamous ‘Redshirts,’ the precursors to the KKK, giving him a new perspective on the violence he encountered as a young man in Queens.”

VH1 promises to show a different side of the hard-edged rapper, whose albums include Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003) and Before I Self-Destruct (2009).

Born Curtis James Jackson III in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York City, he was 12 when his mother was murdered, he served prison time for drug-related charges and he survived being shot nine times at close range.

Read more about the show and 50 Cent on VH1’s blog.

African-American roots | Celebrity Roots
Monday, 25 April 2011 12:19:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 22 April 2011
Genealogy News Corral, April 18-22
Posted by Diane

  • Searching for an ancestor’s marriage in England or Wales from 1837 to 2005? This is your week. To mark the occasion of Britain’s royal wedding, is offering free access to its English and Welsh marriage indexes through April 30. The records from 1837 through 1915 already were free, but this is a good chance to search for 20th-century marriages. You’ll need to set up a free registration with the site to access search results.
  • The Federation of Genealogical Societies is debuting an Internet radio show dedicated solely to genealogy societies. It’s called My Society, and it’ll air every Saturday from 2-3pm Eastern (1-2pm Central, 12-1pm Mountain, 11am-12pm Pacific) starting tomorrow, April 23. To listen, go to (under Upcoming Broadcasts, if you click the blue “more” link, you’ll see a phone number you can use to call into the show).
  • The Southern California Genealogical Society has created an interactive smart phone app for the Genealogy Jamboree conference, taking place June 10-12 in Burbank, Calif. The app lets you review lecture sessions and add them to your calendar, search for exhibitors on a trade show floor map, get news updates and more. Download it using the links provided in the conference blog

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 22 April 2011 16:22:17 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Our Third Life in Civil War America Sweepstakes Winner
Posted by Diane

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, each week we're giving away Family Tree Magazine's Life in Civil War America book! Our third winner is Barb Stevens,m who posted a comment to this blog:

My husband's ggg grandfather Conrad Tschummi—and his son, same name, served in a CT unit in the Civil War. The father made it home safely, but his son died of disease. I did research at our CT State Library and found they had the original handwritten records of the entire tour of duty listing injuries, deaths, pay, punishments for not following the rules—I could follow the entire tour by these original records. They are incredible and a find I never dreamed ever existed.

Due to the fragile condition of the large, rolled sheets of paper and the fact that they probably won't be safe to unroll many more times, I paid to have them copied by the library and now they are safely in a roll in a large mailing tube.

Anyone looking for Civil War documents, ask at the facility if they have any records kept off site like they do in CT. These were brought to me to read in an enclosed and guarded area and I actually had tears in my eyes as I read them.

To enter, like Family Tree Magazine on Facebook and share on our wall a few details about a Civil War ancestor, or a tidbit from our Life in Civil War America webinar or Life in Civil War America book. You can also enter by posting a comment on any Genealogy Insider blog post about Life in Civil War America (like this one).

Each Friday in April, a winner will be chosen from that week's comments and wall posts. The winners will each receive a copy of the Life in Civil War America book.

The sweepstakes started April 6, and runs through April 29.

Need more details? Read the official rules here

Civil War | Genealogy fun | Military records
Friday, 22 April 2011 14:57:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 21 April 2011
Color Your Family Tree Green
Posted by Diane

Our ancestors reduced, reused and recycled more than we do. Think of the stereotypical grandmother who grew up during the Great Depression with the phrase "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without:" She might save slivers of soap, darn socks and collect rainwater for the garden.

During World War II, our ancestors had to get by on less gasoline, butter, sugar, meat and other rationed items. They grew Victory Gardens and saved kitchen scraps, rubber tires and garden hoses, and aluminum cans to be recycled into bombs and tanks. 

Modern life presents us with different opportunities to be green. Here are a few ways you can incorporate environmentally friendly measures into your genealogy research:

  • Does your FamilySearch Center have a microfilm reader that lets you load record images onto portable media? Bring a flash drive when you go to check film, and save the paper. You also could use a digital camera to capture images of microfilmed records.
  • Avoid printing out e-mails, websites and online newsletters if you can help it. Or you can print on both sides of your paper (but check your printer manual first—some manufacturers caution against printing on the back of paper that’s already been run through the printer).
  • Your computer and other electronics that stay plugged in draw energy even when turned off. Plug them into a power strip and switch it off when you’re not using the devices. (Read more about “phantom loads” here.) 
  • Going to a conference? Opt for a syllabus on CD, if available.
  • If you use a digital camera, don't print all your pictures—just the ones you’d like to put in an album or on display. (Make sure you back up all those digital pictures, though.)
  • Get together with genealogy pals and carpool to the library, the cemetery and society meetings. Make lists of every research task you want to get done so you don’t have to take another trip.
  • Instead of buying bottled water, bring a water bottle on your research trips and fill it at the drinking fountain.

  • Email or use Facebook to send your family newsletters and reunion invitations, rather than printing and mailing them (just remember to call the folks who don't use social media or email). 
We'd love to hear about the ways you're making your genealogy research greener. Happy Earth Day!

Research Tips
Thursday, 21 April 2011 15:38:22 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Get Your Family Tree Magazine Digital Subscription!
Posted by Diane

I take reusable shopping bags with me to the grocery store. If I forget them, the plastic bags live a second life as garbage can liners or doggy pick-up bags.

I try to be Earth-friendly in my own life, so this Earth Day, I was glad when I found out Family Tree Magazine is helping you do the same by offering digital subscriptions.

We’ll send you an e-mail when each issue is ready, then you can download it to view as a PDF in Adobe Reader. It works for PC and Mac systems. Added bonus: The e-mail goes out when we start mailing subscriber print copies, so you’ll be among the first to see each issue.

Use these links to get started:

You’ll also have the digital subscription option when you renew online.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011 12:31:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Family History Game Launches on Facebook
Posted by Diane

Move over, Farmville. A genealogy-themed game is now available for play by the general Facebook population.

Family Village lets you create a pedigree chart (or input data from the FamilyLink Facebook app) and “immigrate” ancestors from the chart into your Family Village. You can outfit them in historical attire, assign them jobs, and build out the village with houses, landscaping and more (including heritage-related items like international flags and the Eiffel Tower).

The game also searches several websites for free genealogy records related to the information in your pedigree chart, and let you import those records into a family library. You can invite Facebook friends into your village to check out the library.

Partnerships with additional providers of genealogy records and other content are in the works, says Jeff Wells, CEO of Family Village developer Funium. He cautions, though, that the game is “not a research tool.”

You can play Family Village for free, with the option to spend actual cash (in the form of “game dollars”) on some of your ancestors’ purchases. For example, every ancestor gets a newspaper printed on the day he or she was born. You’ll view the headlines, and you can buy a copy of the whole thing.

The game adheres to Facebook privacy standards, wells says, with privacy settings you can adjust.

Wells got the idea for Family Village when his family didn’t share his excitement over his genealogical finds. “We wanted to do something that would end up being a segue way for people who don’t have the interest to get involved in family history,” he says.

According to Wells, 300 million people play social games each month, and 3 to 4 percent of those players spend money on the games. He’s hoping genealogists’ spouses and teenagers will get interested in Family Village and learn more about their heritage.

Will you play Family Village? Do you think it'll appeal to those already into genealogy, or will other people get hooked on it, too?

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Industry | Social Networking
Tuesday, 19 April 2011 10:45:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [10]