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<2011 August>

More Links

# Thursday, 18 August 2011
New Name, New Content Focus for
Posted by Diane

The subscription genealogy website formerly known as will now be called Fold3., which acquired the site along with its parent company, iArchives, last year, is rebranding it with the new name and a new focus on military-related content.

Historical military records have always been one of the site's strengths. The name Fold3 refers to the third fold of a flag in a traditional flag-folding ceremony, which is said to represent the sacrifices of military veterans.

Military records currently on Fold3 come from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War and others.

“We have already begun expanding Fold3’s robust military collection to include new pension application files and draft cards,” says Brian Hansen, Fold3 general manager.

Don't worry—'s nonmilitary records, such as city directories, naturalization documents, the Pennsylvania Archives collection and more, will remain on Fold3. spokesperson Heather Erickson tells me they'll be in an “Other Collections” category. | Fold3 | Footnote | Military records
Thursday, 18 August 2011 14:02:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Last Call for Virtual Conference!
Posted by Diane

We’re super excited about the start of our Summer 2011 Virtual Conference tomorrow! But that means it’s your last chance to register. And you can save 20 percent by entering code FTU0811 at registration.

Seven reasons to register:

  • Your all-access pass lets you download the videos to watch again later (or see them for the first time if you missed one), as well as download PDFs of the presentation slides
  • Tour the virtual exhibit hall (answer quiz questions to be entered into prize drawings).

  • Log in any time during the conference to watch classes or chat (9 am Friday, Aug. 19, to 11:59 pm Sunday, Aug. 21)
  • Participate from anywhere you can access the internet
Learn more about the Summer 2011 Virtual Conference and register here.

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Thursday, 18 August 2011 09:53:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, 17 August 2011
1940 Census Will be Free on
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy website has decided to make the 1940 census images and index—which will be on the site after the 1940 census is opened next year for research—free to search and view through 2013.

That’ll be more than 3.8 million images with 130 million records. Even better, they’ll be indexed by 45 fields, meaning you’ll be able to search on the name, street address, county, state, parents’ birthplaces and more.

The records won’t be on right when the census is released April 2, 2012.’s press release says they’ll commence “streaming onto the website in mid-April 2012.”

Can’t wait until mid-April? The record images will be available first on the National Archives’ website, but they won’t be searchable right away by name. Click here to see our post about finding your ancestors’ 1940 census enumeration district.

Get help with your census research—including preparing for the release of the 1940 census records—in the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine.

Visit for tips on researching the 1940 census and our free video on how to find your ancestors in the records. | census records | Free Databases
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 14:16:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Where to Find Historical Newspapers Online
Posted by Diane

I realized how important old newspapers are to genealogy when I stumbled across this 1924 article about my grandfather on GenealogyBank:

What a find! The article has so much "what was he like?" detail that I wouldn't have found elsewhere. So I wanted to share some resources from contributing editor Rick Crume’s November 2011 Family Tree Magazine cover story on researching ancestors in online newspapers. 

In the article, Rick provides a chart with the essentials on 15 large online historical newspaper collections—some free, some by subscription or with society memberships, some available through libraries—including:

He also notes where the sites' collections overlap, and offers some advice on finding other, smaller collections of newspapers:

The November 2011 Family Tree Magazine also has articles on using published family histories, researching English roots, finding cultural and ethnic heritage organizations, tracing ancestors in Chicago and Portland, Ore., using and more. The issue hits newsstands next week, but you can order it now from

For even more help finding ancestors in old newspapers, check out Family Tree University's Newspaper Research 101 class.

Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles | Newspapers | Research Tips
Tuesday, 16 August 2011 14:47:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Geni Draws Fire For New User Permissions
Posted by Diane

Geni, a world family tree site where users can build family trees by creating profiles for relatives and ancestors, has made big changes to what paid and free members can do on the site.

In this blog post Aug. 11, Geni announced that free, “Non-Pro” members can no longer add new profiles to the “historical” tree (any public part of the Geni tree) or merge profiles. Free members still can add to their private trees.

Geni Pro subscribers, who pay $4.95 per month for a one-year membership, now “have full permission to add on to, edit, and merge profiles in the historical parts of the tree,” according to the blog post.

Pro users also can search through all the 110 million public profiles on Geni to find relatives to add to their trees. Free members can search and find only their close relatives in the historical tree, as well as profiles they added and profiles they follow.

"Close relatives" means 4th cousins and closer, as well as third-great-grandparents and closer. In-laws are included.

“I'd like to make it clear that Basic (free) users did not lose their ability to view or edit any profiles as part of these changes," says Geni CEO Noah Tutak. “In fact, we did not change view or edit permissions at all. What we did is align permissions in the historical, public sections of the tree, beyond close relatives.”

But comments on Geni's blog post are largely negative. A common theme: Many members, some of whom have added hundreds or thousands of profiles to the site, feel Geni is cutting them off (without advance notice, according to the comments) after encouraging them for years to build its historical tree.

“Losing control” of their public data strikes fear in the hearts of genealogists. They don’t like to idea of others merging their ancestors without having to compare notes first. They have visions of mistaken merges and incorrect names and dates replicating themselves across the internet.

Tutak thinks Geni’s changes will reduce such errors. “These changes were designed to restrict merging to a smaller group of more engaged users, with the goal of increasing data quality,” Tutak says. “If a merge is made in error, the same set of tools are available now as in the past to correct mistakes. In the near future, we'll provide even more robust tools to undo merges that will make correcting these mistakes, which are extremely infrequent, even easier”

Several Pro users commented that they’ll no longer be able to entice relatives—who aren’t likely to purchase Pro subscriptions—to collaborate on building their family trees.

“A member with a free account can build out a large enough tree to get a good feel for the quality of Geni's tools and decide whether or not they would like to use Geni for their entire tree,” says Tutak.

“The number of users contributing to the world [public] family tree is a small percentage of our overall user base, and so far we haven't seen a slowdown in the growth of the tree due to these changes.”

Family tree sites have struggled for years with how to build accurate trees that are large enough to attract additional contributions—that’s why we're still waiting for the trees feature on the new to be publicly available. Skewing benefits toward paying users—who, theoretically, are more heavily invested and knowledgeable—is one approach. It’s also likely to anger free members. Many comments on Geni's blog predict that the site won't survive this change.

You can read genealogists’ opinions on the changes at Genea-Musings  and Dear Myrtle

Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Tuesday, 16 August 2011 12:57:49 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, 12 August 2011
Genealogy News Corral, August 8-12
Posted by Diane

  • Congratulations to Lisa Louise Cooke, podcaster and blogger at Genealogy Gems (and Family Tree Magazine podcast host). named Lisa’s Genealogy Gems Podcast app a must-have in the Hobby category of its AppList. reviewers called it “a great resource for both amateur and professional Genealogists … The interface is easy to use and the type and controls are larger, making this application ideal even for older users.”

The Genealogy Gems podcast app features streaming of the Genealogy Gems podcast, plus show notes and bonus material. It’s available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad (at the iTunes store) and Android phone (in the Marketplace).

  • FamilySearch added 4.3 million record images this week, nearly half of those to its Hungary Civil Registration, 1895–1980, collection (my husband is a quarter Hungarian, so this moves up his tree a few notches on my to-do list).
Other new records come from Austria, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Panama, and the US. Note these record images aren't yet indexed, so you'll need to browse them. See the updated collections and link to them from here. | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software
Friday, 12 August 2011 12:00:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: McCulloch's Proclamation
Posted by Diane

Confederate States Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch, having won a victory Aug. 10, 1861, at Wilson’s Creek, Mo., issued a proclamation to the people of Missouri Aug. 12. He asked them to pick a side. “Missouri must now take her position, be it North or South," he wrote. 

Missouri, a border state, supplied troops (nearly 110,000 to the North and 40,000 to the South) and equipment to both sides. Separate state governments represented each side during the war, and both the Union and Confederacy considered Missouri theirs.

Initially, Missouri tried to stay neutral by remaining in the Union but not contributing men or supplies. After Wilson’s Creek, Union Gen. John C. Fremont imposed martial law, but the remnants of the elected government voted to secede.

The state suffered from its own internal war, in addition to the larger one. “Conflict in Missouri was characterized by savage guerilla warfare that led to the destruction of entire towns,” writes Michael O. Varhola in Life in Civil War America

Learn more about Missouri in the Civil War in Varhola's book and at the state’s sesquicentennial website.

Also, the free Missouri Digital Heritage (one of our 101 Best Websites for genealogy) has a Civil War section with several collections of digitized records, newspapers and research guides that’ll help you trace ancestors of the era and walk in their shoes.

See Missouri research resources at here

Get research guidance for Civil War service members from Missouri and elsewhere in our Family Tree University course Civil War Research: Find Your Ancestors in the War Between the States, with instructor Diana Crisman Smith. The next session starts Aug. 29. (You can use code FTU0811 to get 20 percent off tuition.)

Civil War | Family Tree University | Sales | Social History
Friday, 12 August 2011 11:09:38 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, 11 August 2011
Your Advice for Organizing Family Archives
Posted by Diane

Last week, Allison fessed up about her so-far-untouched mountain of boxes inherited from her grandmother, full of genealogy records, pictures and news clippings, with some nongenealogical stuff thrown in for good measure.


A bunch of you chimed in with advice, encouragement and stories that’ll benefit other overwhelmed family archivists. The gist of your advice is:

  • Take your time. Baby steps!
  • Sort by family, people or place.
  • Digitize.
  • Archival storage.
  • Share.
  • Consider donating what won’t be kept.

Here are some more details from your suggestions and stories. To read the full comments, go to Allison’s “Organizing Grandma’s Archive” blog post and click Comments at the bottom. 

  • Claire suggested making an inventory of the items: “Tackle one box a week. Label the first box 1, the second 2, etc. Go through the contents and list everything in a notebook under the appropriate tab. For example, in the Anderson-Dugan tab, you might have:
John Dugan birth certificate, box 1
Photo of Anderson family reunion 1930, box 1

"At some later date you might relocate everything to a better storage system," Claire adds, "but at least for now you'll know the contents of each box.”

  • Joseph Martin would allow more time: “I count 15 boxes in your stack. Give yourself two months to sort and organize one box. In less than three years, you will be done.”

  • Renee advises scheduling small chunks of time (30 to 50 minutes) a few times a week, so things don’t feel overwhelming. “I wouldn't begin to move things around until you document how the documents appeared, since what folder they were in or what they were next to can have bearing on the meaning of the document. I would take photos of the box and each item in the box as you unpack them.”

She also recommends digitizing as you go. “If you re-create the folders and boxes digitally, you'll always know the exact order they arrived in. You can then tag them or make digital copies and reorganize them according to your preference. It will make you familiar with what's there and you won't have to reorganize the actual papers. You can just store them (or toss, if needed) and work with the digital copies.” 

  • Patti McElligott describes her system of 3-inch binders for each family name, with each family member on a tabbed index sheet. Paper records for each person go inside clear sheet protectors behind his or her tab.
Patti’s tip for labeling photos: “Take a stack, and anytime you are sitting down, write on the back the who, what, where etc. There are pens made for this that will not damage the pictures.”
  • Cheryl Hughes was also left with an archive like Allison’s, but from several different relatives and families. She’s been working on it for 10 years. “I still get boxes, as I am thought of as the 'picture person' of all these families,” Cheryl says.
She separated papers from the pictures, and had some of the old photos and tintypes restored and copied. “I am copying all pictures to CDs or SD cards and having prints made to share with other family members … the originals are in safe, acid free boxes, with copies in albums.” 
  • Micki Gilmore’s inherited archive is smaller. “I plan to digitize. There are some great scanners out there,” she says, and plans to tackle one box at a time.
  • Diane Hart has been digitizing photos all summer. “The photos are on discs, and then I view them on a slide show on my computer. They look so nice! … From photos I received from my 83-year-old aunt, I made a disc for her with a very nice identifying label, printed a thumbnail photo gallery of disc contents, and included my contact information. Then I drove miles to deliver this to her, and we watched the slideshow. She absolutely loved it! She is the only living child in my Dad's family of 13.”
  • S. Lantz is using Clooz software to keep track of her archive. “[It] allows you to tag names in your genealogy name list with each item (photos, census, documents, books, etc.). If you assign a unique number to each item, you can run an individual report that will list all of the items tied to that individual.” 
  • Juanita Dean uses photo boxes and tabbed dividers to organize her photos by place, then event. “If you look at the photos yearly, put them in a larger box that is handy to share for reunions, otherwise use archival boxes to put them away.”
  • I love Ardith Hale’s words: “The Chinese say you can move a mountain one spoonful at a time.” She advises Allison catalog and digitize, then sort.
“I have been given a huge store of pictures, which we went through with my mother to assign names, then sort by family. Each family gets theirs. Older ones are being digitized, copied and spread around so that hopefully somewhere there will be a copy. Unidentifed ones are kept together in the hope that some reunion or gathering can attach a name.”
  • Shasta says “Take your time, think of a plan, and execute it slowly, a little bit at a time … I managed to scan our family photos by doing a few each day, a little extra when I had time.”
If you're looking for more advice, the January 2011 Family Tree Magazine has Denise Levenick's (she's the Family Curator blogger) guide to organizing a family archive like this one.

Feel free to keep sharing your stories about sorting through family collections—we love to hear 'em.

Family Heirlooms | Photos | Research Tips | saving and sharing family history
Thursday, 11 August 2011 09:35:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Civil War Witness Trees
Posted by Diane

Workers at Gettysburg National Military Park last week were cutting up a fallen oak tree on Culp's Hill, a key location in the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, when they hit 148-year-old bullets.

Battlefield trees like this one, still bearing scars and bullet wounds, are called Civil War witness trees. (Another kind of witness tree is found in public land states—a surveyor would blaze a tree near a section corner as evidence of the section boundaries.)

I hadn’t heard the term until I read about the Gettysburg discovery, and it makes perfect sense: Eyewitnesses are long gone, but these trees stood on the battlefields when our ancestors dug trenches, reloaded guns, charged the other side, were injured and died.

Many witness trees are famous and were captured in contemporary drawings or Mathew Brady’s photographs, for example:

  • Burnside Bridge Sycamore at Antietam, Md.
  • Appomattox Courthouse Pin Oak in Virginia
  • Copse of White Oaks near Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, Pa.
  • Southern Magnolias at Andersonville, Ga.

You can see photos of these and other trees at The Bivouac website

Sections of the Culp’s Hill tree with bullets will be displayed in a museum at Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Daily blog has posts about witness trees, with lots of photos and directions for finding them.

Here are some Civil War resources from Family Tree Magazine:

Civil War | Historic preservation | Social History
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 09:12:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, 09 August 2011
Research Help for Illinois Ancestors
Posted by Diane

If you have Illinois ancestors, here’s an important acronym to know:


It stands for Illinois Regional Archives Depository, a statewide records management system that divides the state into seven regions and helps you access genealogical records. 

IRAD is just one of the Illinois resources Thomas MacEntee will introduce you to in our Illinois Genealogy Crash Course webinar, Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. Eastern (6 Central, 5 Mountain, 4 Pacific). 

MacEntee, a Chicagoan, creator of the GeneaBloggers website, and author of the November 2011 Family Tree Magazine Chicago research guide, will cover important Illinois history, including migration patterns:

“From 1800 to 1840, many migrated to southern Illinois from Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Virginia,” he says. “After 1830, they came to central Illinois from Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The period from 1840 to 1920 saw a flow of immigrants to the Chicago area. A great migration of African-Americans from the South to Chicago and other northern cities took place from 1920 to 1970.”

You’ll also get information on essential Illinois records, including the marriage return, and other websites where you can do research on ancestors from the Land of Lincoln.

Be sure to take advantage of our Early Bird special, which saves you $10 off your Illinois Genealogy Crash Course webinar registration.

Research Tips | Sales | Webinars
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 16:24:06 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]