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<2011 August>

More Links

# Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Museums Offer Free Admission Sept. 24
Posted by Diane

Get ready for Museum Day Saturday, Sept. 24, when hundreds of museums across the country will offer free admission (good for up to two visitors per household).

Participating museums include such history-related sites as the 1810 Goundie House in Bethlehem, Pa.; Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Ill.; Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn, NY; Museum of Women's History in Billings, Mont.; and the Historic New Orleans Collection in New Orleans.

You’ll need to fill out an online form and select the museum you want to visit from a dropdown menu, and you’ll get your admission ticket via email.

Print the ticket and take it with you when you visit. Each ticket is valid for two people to visit one venue, and there’s limit of one ticket per household.

Genealogy Events | Museums | Social History
Wednesday, 24 August 2011 13:38:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Brick Wall Tips From the Virtual Conference
Posted by Diane

It was a busy Family Tree University Virtual Conference weekend for us and for our Virtual Conference instructors, Supermoderators Thomas MacEntee and Nancy Hendrickson, and the conference attendees. Thanks to all participants for a great event!

If you missed it, you can order the Virtual Conference video classes for on-demand viewing at

One of my favorite parts of the conference was the live chats, which buzzed with research tips, questions and inspiration. For example, Thomas’ Saturday evening chat, Pick Thomas’ Brain: Ideas on Creative Approaches to Genealogy, was chock full of advice.

I’ve pulled some comments from the chat to share here (I made some edits and added topic headings so the Q&A is easier to follow).

On brick walls:

  • Thomas: First, very often I think what we call a brick wall isn't really a brick wall . . .

  • Joan: What do you mean by a brick wall not being a brick wall?
  • Thomas: To me it is a matter of perhaps not having all the right tools at one's disposal. Or it could be a matter of going back and rechecking spelling, surname variations, etc.
  • Allison FTU: A true brick wall is when you have exhausted every possible avenue for research and there is no more information

In many cases, what we refer to as a brick wall is really just an exhaustion of ideas

  • Patricia: A Brick Wall to me is having a timeline just end with no leads. Just solved 2 of my brick walls by reviewing current finds in detail as if I was looking at the finds for the first time.

On ancestral adoptions:

  • Terri: My brick wall is my grandmother, born and adopted in 1900. I thought her SS application might help, but she apparently fibbed on the application! Gave her adopted info as official

  • Kerry: I've used church records to find babies who were baptized prior to their adoption. Not all were adopted at birth.

  • Allison FTU: If you know what area she was born in, you might try guardianship records.

  • Terri: Are guardianship records civil records, private institutions, what?

  • Allison FTU: Guardianships are typically court records. So you do need to know which county to look in.

On going beyond well-known resources:

  • Carol: I have a line that went to Nebraska. FamilySearch and Ancestry seem to have nothing and GenealogyBank only later years. Any links for Nebraska?
  • Thomas: What time period? Were they Homesteaders?
  • Carol P: Late 1800s to early 1900s

On ordering ancestors’ vital records:

  • Mary Ann: When I look for birth, marriage, and death certificates in the US, I am taken to sites where it is free for 7 days and then you pay. Is there a good site to find these certificates?
  • Thomas: I personally don't recommend those sites. In most cases, if you know how to order them directly from the state or county, it is better and cheaper. What do others think?
  • Mary Ann: Yet, the states’ [vital records office websites] are sending me to those sites.
  • Kerry: I totally agree; I'd much rather order directly from the source.
  • Terri: I have seen some states that use a private online payment service for their records, but there's generally an option to pay the vital records office directly.
  • Kerry: Some states (Minnesota, for instance) house records at the state historical society, and you can order (and in some cases, view) them online.
  • Thomas: Did you know that some societies have a vital records service where they will, for a much cheaper fee, pull the records? Illinois State Genealogical Society does this for Illinois Death Certificates.
  • Mary Kay: Or borrowing microfilm from your local FHC.

On hard-to-trace immigrants and F.A.N. clubs:

  • Christine: Ancestor arrived in 1750 from Rotterdam, based on PA baptism records which are German Lutheran—don't have a clue where to start across the pond. Strategy much appreciated....

how to get from point of departure (Rotterdam) in 1750 to where he might have lived...

  • Thomas: Have you tried the F.A.N. club approach? Friends, Associates, Neighbors?

Elizabeth Shown Mills uses that F.A.N. club term all the time.

Last night on my radio show, Gail Blankenau from Omaha who specializes in German Parish Records used the term "10 up and 10 down" meaning always go up 10 lines from what you've found and down 10 lines as well.

  • Allison-FTU: Christine, have you heard of something called manumission records?

In Germany during the time period, emigrants had to pay a tax to be released from serfdom. The resulting records are manumissions

There's an often-referenced index to German manumissions by Werner Hacker ... let me see if i can find a link

  • Christine: Would they have been microfilmed by the Family History Library?

On online research tools:

Family Tree University | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | immigration records | Research Tips | Social Networking | Vital Records
Tuesday, 23 August 2011 09:50:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Friday, 19 August 2011
Genealogy News Corral, August 15-19
Posted by Diane

The big news this week, of course, was Footnote’s new military focus and name change to Fold3, the free 1940 census images and index to hit mid-April 2012, and the hullabaloo at Among this week’s other happenings:
FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software
Friday, 19 August 2011 11:08:38 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [17]
# 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]