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# Monday, July 11, 2011
How to Be a Spy, 1918-Style
Posted by Diane

The CIA has recently declassified WWI-era documents bearing formulas for invisible ink, instructions for exposing concealed writing in German correspondence, and ways to open sealed envelopes undetected.

The typed memos were believed to be the country’s oldest still-classified documents. You can see them on display this month at the National Archives in Washington, DC and on the CIA’s website (scroll down a little).

Read more about the documents in this CNN article.

NARA | Social History
Monday, July 11, 2011 1:49:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, July 08, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, July 4-8
Posted by Diane

  • Subscription genealogy site Archives.com has added 17 million new US vital and military records. Vital records come from Texas, Colorado and South Carolina; and the military records provide information about individuals who served in the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and National Guard during the Vietnam War and Gulf War eras. Click here to see more details on the Archives.com additions

FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Friday, July 08, 2011 3:14:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Thursday, July 07, 2011
Congratulations to the Family Reunion Contest Winners!
Posted by Diane

Today we’re super excited to announce the winners of the Family Reunion contest held in June. 

And the grand prize winner is … Patricia Skubis! Her long-lost Danish relative Tage will travel to the United States so they can meet in person for the first time. Patricia also will receive a year-long VIP membership to Family Tree Magazine and a three-year Premium-Plus subscription with MyHeritage.com.

Patricia belongs to a Danish family that immigrated to the United States in 1888. Another branch had headed for Australia in 1873. Skubis made contact 27 years ago with Alison Rogers from the Australian branch, but they were unable to find a connection. Here’s Patricia’s account of how it finally happened (look for more details in an upcoming issue of Family Tree Magazine):

In March of 2011, a family in Denmark researching the Thygesen name posted information on MyHeritage and I received a Smart Match notice. I wasn’t sure we had a match. The parents’ names were the same but the children did not match. So I asked the submitter for more information. With the additional information I thought we did indeed have a match.

I went online to the Danish Church Records [on the Danish archives’ website] and found Tyge Jørgensen’s children between Neils Madsen Thygesen, born in 1794, and my great-great-grandfather Martin, born in 1805. What a great surprise I received when I found that the next son after Neils was Peder Andersen Thygesen, the great-great-grandfather of Alison Rogers.

Tage and I are fourth cousins once removed. Our great-great-grandfathers, along with Alison’s, were brothers.

Each of our two runners-up will receive a digital subscription to Family Tree Magazine and a three-year Premium-plus subscription on MyHeritage.com. They are:

  • Linda Mehlinger, whose mystery started with her Louisiana-born great-grandmother’s photo of a lady and five schoolgirls in a rickshaw being pulled by a Zulu warrior. Through research including searching the 1910 census on Ancestry.com and contacting other genealogists via a mailing list, she discovered a cousin in South Africa who had pictures of the same people.
  • Pam Ingermanson, whose Norwegian ancestors settled in Idaho. After hours upon hours of research, she connected with a cousin who descended from a brother who ended up in Ohio. The branches of the family had lost touch over the years.

You can read the winners’ full stories, as well as those of other entrants, in their comments on the MyHeritage.com Blog

Thank you to everyone who entered this contest. Both our team at Family Tree Magazine and our contest partners MyHeritage.com were touched by your stories of reconnecting with family, and we're impressed by your diligent research. You’re truly an inspiration to your fellow family historians!


Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, July 07, 2011 9:05:15 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Here's to You, Weekend Genealogy Warrior
Posted by Diane


We salute you, stiff-elbowed scroller of microfilm. Mosquito-bitten searcher of headstones. Sneezing file-flipper in dusty courthouse archives. 

Hats off to you who squeeze all your genealogy into just a few hours on the weekend, quick half-hour intervals during lunch, or late nights on the computer after the kids are in bed.

The Weekend Genealogist Value Pack—available during July at an extra-deep 63 percent discount—will help you make the most of your limited research time. This value pack contains: 

  • Online Genealogy Crash Course DVD: Lessons to help you master finding ancestral records online and using Ancestry.com.
  • Discover Your Roots Winter 2011 digital issue: Our 132-page guide to getting started in genealogy, with articles on finding your ancestors in a weekend genealogy blitz, avoiding common myths, visiting the courthouse and more.
  • Discover Your Family Tree FTU Independent Study Course: This course download is designed to help you start your family tree research without feeling overwhelmed.
  • 60 Minute Genealogy Jobs download: You can do these 14 family history projects in an hour or less, making them perfect for lunch hour.

Click here to find out more about the Weekend Genealogist Value Pack.


Editor's Pick | Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Wednesday, July 06, 2011 12:19:19 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Mocavo.com iPad Giveaway
Posted by Diane

We wrote last week that genealogy search engine Mocavo.com added GEDCOM uploading (via a Facebook app) to its offerings.

Mocavo.com has announced it’ll give away an iPad 2 on July 15 to someone who’s uploaded a tree. In response to a comment on the Mocavo.com Facebook page, webmasters also said they’re working on a non-Facebook upload method, and hope to have it in place before the end of the entry period.



Tuesday, July 05, 2011 12:37:31 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Friday, July 01, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, June 27-July 1
Posted by Diane

  • If you have an iPad or iPhone, here’s a more educational way than Angry Birds to pass the time, especially on the Fourth of July: MultiEducator’s History on the Go apps  use images, contemporary accounts, multimedia presentations and documents to help you learn about the American Revolution, Civil War, Constitution and Federalist Papers, and more. They’re available for about $5 through the Apple iTunes store (the Constitution app is free).
  • The Civil War Trust, a battlefield preservation organization, has announced Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy, a campaign to raise $40 million for the permanent protection of 20,000 acres of battlefield land over the next five years. An average of 30 acres of battlefield land are lost each day, according to Battle Cry of Freedom author James McPherson.

Civil War | Genealogy Web Sites | Social History
Friday, July 01, 2011 1:18:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, June 30, 2011
Free SAR Records on Ancestry.com This Weekend
Posted by Diane

If you have a Revolutionary War-era Patriot ancestor, applications for the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) lineage society are a great research resource.

These applications are worth a search even if you don't know of a Patriot in your family tree, because they name other ancestors who link SAR applicants to Patriots. You may find an ancestor or collateral relative among one of those names.

Through July 4, you can search SAR applications dating from 1889 to 1970 free on Ancestry.com. (After you hit Search, you’ll be prompted to set up a free account to view your results.) The collection includes 145,000 applications.

Click here to start your search (then select the Free Access Weekend logo on the right).


Ancestry.com | Military records
Thursday, June 30, 2011 11:27:29 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
Research Tips for Your Virginia Ancestors
Posted by Diane


Let’s play the word association game. I'll start:

Virginia genealogy.

“Burned courthouses,” you say? “Early, hard-to-trace immigrants”?

Our Virginia Genealogy Crash Course webinar will show you how to get past research brick walls such as

  • courthouses (and their records) destroyed during the Civil War and in fires and floods at other times
  • hard-to-research Colonial-era immigrants
  • potentially confusing land records due to the carving up of Virginia’s enormous original territory into other states, a maze of courts, and many cities that are independent of their surrounding counties 

You’ll also learn about Virginia records including headrights and vital records, and the best websites for Virginia research (including the Library of Virginia, whose Virginia Memory site has digitized newspapers, military records and other genealogical resources).

The Virginia Genealogy Crash Course webinar, presented by Family Tree Magazine contributing editor David A. Fryxell, takes place Wednesday, July 27, at 7 pm Eastern time (6 pm Central, 5 pm Mountain, 4 pm Pacific).

Attendees will receive a link to view the session again as many times as they like, a PDF of the presentation slides, and Family Tree Magazine’s Virginia State Research Guide.

Click here to find out more about the Virginia Genealogy Crash Course webinar—and take advantage of the 20 percent off early bird registration special.


Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Thursday, June 30, 2011 9:44:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Finding Your Ancestor's 1940 Census Enumeration District
Posted by Diane

I read about the How to Access the 1940 Census in One Step quiz  on Dick Eastman’s blog this morning

The quiz, by One-Step Tools webmaster Steve Morse and friends, is designed to guide you through the site’s tools that help you determine your ancestor’s 1940 census enumeration district (ED). This is important because, when the 1940 census comes out April 2, 2012, you won’t be able to search by name. Instead, you’ll need to find the records for the ED where your ancestor lived and view pages until you find him or her.

(If you don’t mind waiting an as-yet-unknown length of time for a searchable name index to be created, probably by FamilySearch and/or a commercial entity such as Ancestry.com, you may not need to worry about the ED. I say “may not” because if your ancestor gets mis-indexed or the census-taker recorded his name in an unexpected way, you still might need to browse the records.)

Anyway, I tried the quiz for a spin and did indeed find the 1940 ED I needed. Here’s how it worked for me:

Question: Do you know where your family lived on April 1, 1940, the official 1940 census day?

Answer: I chose yes. This was my hint to check the address in my ancestor’s 1942 declaration of intention to naturalize:

Question: Did the family move between 1930 and 1940?

Answer: Yes.

Question: You know where your family was in 1940. Were they:
  • in a rural area or a small urban community (under about 5,000)?
  • in an urban area of 5,000 or more?
  • in an institution (hospital, jail, orphanage, etc)?
  • outside the US proper but under US jurisdiction? 

Answer: They lived in Cleveland, Ohio, an urban area of 5,000 or more.

Question: Check to see if the city is on the One Step 1940 Large City ED Finder Tool. Go to this tool, choose the state or possession, and look in the city dropdown box. Do you see your city listed there?

Answer: I clicked the link to the 1040 ED Finder, chose Ohio from the state dropdown menu, and yes, Cleveland was in the city menu. 

Question: OK, now to use the above One Step tool, choose the state and city and then enter the street and cross streets for the house at which your family lived.

Answer: I went back to the 1940 ED Finder, which looked like this:

I chose my ancestors’ street, Franklin Blvd, and was directed to choose a cross street.

Um, cross street? Luckily, at the bottom of the page you can enter a house number and generate a Google, Yahoo! or MapQuest map of the location, like this one:


I chose 47th W. as the cross street and was rewarded with:

The "View microfilm " link gives you a message that the 1940 census images are not available. Looks like Morse is planning to link the ED numbers to the record images when they're released on NARA's website ext year.

I tried other quiz answers, too: 

  • Basically, if you don’t know where your ancestors lived in 1940, you’ll get suggestions for records to check.
  • If you know where they lived in 1940 and they hadn't moved since 1930, you’ll be directed to the site’s 1930-to-1940 ED Conversion tool (EDs changed from census to census).
  • If your ancestors lived in a small-ish town or rural area, the area may not yet be covered in the One Step 1940 ED Finder, in which case you’re directed to National Archives’ ED maps (not yet online). Those will be easier to use if you know the street address. 
  • If you don't know the address in the small-ish town or rural area, you can use the One Step ED Definition Tool to choose a state and county, then search on a community name. If the name is in the definitions, you’ll get back a list of possible EDs where you can start your census search. 

Now, the trick is not losing the sticky note I wrote the ED on.

You can read all about the 1940 census in the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine's Complete Census Guide. Family Tree Magazine Plus members can read the 1940 census article here.


census records | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 2:42:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, June 28, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: First US Naval Officer Killed
Posted by Diane

June 28, 1861, the Pawnee arrived at the Washington, DC, Navy Yard carrying the body of Capt. James H. Ward, the first US Naval officer killed during the American Civil War

The previous day, Ward, who was in command of a flotilla in the Chesapeake Bay, send a landing party to meet Southern forces at Mathias Point in King George County, Va. They met resistance, and Ward was shot after he moved the ships in to cover for the landing party as it retreated.

At the beginning of the war, the US Navy had just 90 ships; it grew to 670 ships and 50,000 sailors by mid-1964. The Confederate Navy had 130 warships and 4,000 men at its largest.

Dramatic events such as battles and shore bombardments were the exception to the rule for sailors, according to the book Life in Civil War America:

“Sailors spent the majority of their time performing routine duties or combating the effects of tedium. Running a ship required constant if monotonous activity; unlike soldiers, seamen tended not to have much idle time on their hands. An exception to this was, of course, Union soldiers on board blockading ships, who often complained of boredom in journals and letters.”

You’ll use different resources to trace a Civil War sailor than you would if researching a soldier. Start with the resources in this free FamilyTreeMagazine.com article on tracing Union and Confederate sailors.


Civil War | Military records
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 4:51:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]