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<2011 November>

More Links

# Monday, 21 November 2011 Buys FamilyLink
Posted by Diane

Israeli family tree network company MyHeritage has acquired FamilyLink, the developer of family history content sites and

The acquisition doesn't include FamilyLink's We're Related Facebook app, MyHeritage spokesperson Schelly Talalay Dardahsti tells me. FamilyLink CEO Paul Allen won't be joining the MyHeritage team.

MyHeritage will add its first U.S.-based office in Utah, the home of FamilyLink.

The acquisition adds something MyHeritage lacked: the historical records genealogists use. FamilyLink's records will complement the family trees on “We’ll be able to find your mother’s yearbook, your great-grandfather’s will and your ancestor’s immigration record. We’ll do that on a massive, global scale," says MyHeritage founder and CEO Gilad Japhet.

This is MyHeritage’s seventh and largest acquisition since 2007. Read the full press release here.

FamilyLink | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage
Monday, 21 November 2011 16:56:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Thanksgiving Myth-Busting
Posted by Diane

The Thanksgiving Myth-busting patrol is here with the truth behind an annual seasonal event:

The presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey goes all the way back to …. 1989. Yes, George H.W. Bush was the first president to officially pardon his Thanksgiving turkey.

He sent Tom off to a Virginia petting zoo with the words “Let me assure this fine tom he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table. Not this guy. He’s been granted a presidential pardon as of right now, allowing him to live out his days on a farm not far from here.” (Thus ensuring that some other poor turkey ended up on the White House table.)

Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have continued the pardons. Last year, the two turkeys Obama pardoned (one was an understudy for the official ceremony) went to live at Mount Vernon.

Some claim that Harry Truman pardoned the turkey given to him by the National Turkey Federation in 1947, but the Truman Library has found no evidence a pardon occurred.

In 1963, John F. Kennedy announced he wasn't going to eat the turkey he received, but he didn’t actually pardon it. Ronald Reagan spared a turkey, too, but merely joked about a pardon as he was questioned about the Iran-Contra affair.

On, we bust five more Thanksgiving myths, including the one about the buckled Pilgrim hat of children’s stories.

And go here to read about the real first Thanksgiving in the New World.

Genealogy fun | Social History
Monday, 21 November 2011 13:57:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 18 November 2011
Don't Waste Your Money: SSA Extends Age Restriction on SS-5s
Posted by Diane

I wanted to draw your attention to a post on Megan Smolenyak's Roots World blog about a disturbing change to the Social Security Administration's policy on fulfilling requests for relatives' for Social Security applications (called SS-5 forms):

The SSA will block out parents' names on the SS-5 you requested if the applicant was born less than 100 years ago and you don't provide proof the parents are deceased.

If you requested the SS-5 in order to learn those parents' names in the first place, of course, you can't prove they're deceased. And you're out the nonrefundable $27 fee you sent with your request.

I haven't heard a public announcement from the SSA about this policy. Smolenyak learned of the change after requesting an SS-5

This comes on the heels of the SSA's removal of "protected" death records from the Death Master File, the source of the Social Security Death Index.

Read Smolenyak's post here.

Public Records
Friday, 18 November 2011 12:24:30 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, 17 November 2011
NARA Picks to Provide Online Access to 1940 Census
Posted by Diane

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has selected Inflection—the parent company of the genealogy subscription site—to to design and host a free website for the 1940 census, to be released April 2, 2012 at 9 a.m.

Researchers will be able to browse, view, and download images from the 1940 census. See NARA's full announcement here.

To kick off the partnership, has created a web page about the launch of the 1940 Census.

You won't be able to search the census by name right away on April 2; instead, you'll need to know the enumeration district (ED) your relatives lived in and then browse the records for that district. You can find the ED if you know your ancestor's address in 1940 or in 1930.

Here's a post about an online tool that can help you determine the ED.

FamilySearch is heading up an effort to index the 1940 census records ASAP after they're released, which will let genealogists search by name.

Subscription website also has announced plans to provide the 1940 census for free, at least through 2013. | | census records | FamilySearch | NARA
Thursday, 17 November 2011 12:07:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
It's A Hot Genealogy Mess
Posted by Diane

Our publisher Allison Dolan has been slowly digging through the inherited family archive she's affectionately calling her "hot genealogy mess."

Thank goodness for our upcoming Organize Your Family Archive webinar and the advice from its presenter, Denise Levenick, because Allison's found some things she knows have historical value, but she's not sure what to do with. Here are some contents of just one of the two dozen boxes Allison inherited:

Maybe you've shopped at a Kroger grocery store? In 1883 in Cincinnati, Bernard Kroger founded what's now the largest US grocery chain.

Allison uncovered letters and newspaper clippings from Kroger family members. A handwritten notecard states that one of her ancestors was B.H. Kroger's private secretary from 1928 to 1938. 

Another treasure is an album full of photos from the South Pacific. It belonged to a woman named Dorie, who may have been a friend of an aunt.

Color me jealous. We'll keep showing you more peeks inside this archive.

The Early Bird Special for the Organize Your Family Archive webinar ends Nov. 20, so if you have your own hot genealogy mess going on, register now.

saving and sharing family history | Webinars
Thursday, 17 November 2011 10:42:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 16 November 2011 Tests New Record Viewer
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site is beta testing a new record image viewer. Here's what it looks like (this record is my great-grandparents' 1900 passenger list):

The interface is similar to the previous viewer, with some new and improved features:

  • Faster image loading.

  • Works on more platforms and with more browsers than the previous image viewer, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Web browser issues were preventing a large portion of members from using the previous image viewer.

  • New tools, including rotating an image (handy for census returns with the address written along the side of the page), mirror (flips your record over so you're reading it backward, which I've heard can help with hard-to-read records), and new zoom controls.

  • Easy installation. Most people won't have to install anything (I didn't), though you might need to install a more recent version of the free Adobe Flash Player.

To try out the new viewer, click on the options button at the top of the current image viewer:

and then select "Use the Advanced Viewer (Beta)" is collecting feedback from users who try the new viewer. Read more about the new features, see screenshots, and see the known issues on the blog.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 14:31:02 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
New Leadership at FamilySearch
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch International, which operates the free genealogy website, will have a new chief executive officer. Starting Jan. 2, 2012, Dennis C. Brimhall will succeed Jay L. Verkler as CEO of FamilySearch.

Verkler will assist with the transition for several months as a consultant.

FamilySearch regularly rotates its senior leaders, according to yesterday's announcement.

Under Verkler’s decade of leadership, FamilySearch has become a genealogy industry leader in enhancing online access to genealogy records through technological innovation and partnerships with genealogy businesses, records repositories and societies. Especially notable has been the FamilySearch Indexing project, which has mobilized tens of thousands of volunteers worldwide to index digitized records, making them searchable online.

Brimhall has held positions of increasing responsibility in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sponsors FamilySearch. Before that, he was president and CEO of the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver from 1988 until 2005.

“I am very excited to help lead the work of FamilySearch, to continue the great things that have been done and move forward in new directions as appropriate,” he says.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 08:49:04 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 14 November 2011
Researching American Indian Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Do you have American Indian ancestry? Many genealogists believe they do and want to find out for sure. Others know they do but don't know how to research those ancestors.

Now's a good time to look for resources: November is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.

In 1915, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapaho and president of the American Indian Association, declared the second Saturday of May as American Indian Day and appealed for recognition of American Indians as citizens (Indians were recognized as citizens in 1924).

Later that year, on Dec. 14, Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, arrived at the White House with 24 state government endorsements for a national day to honor American Indians. (Here's a photo from the Library of Congress.) He'd gathered them riding on horseback from state to state.

The first National American Indian Heritage Month was in 1990. (More on national observances here.)

Here are some free articles to help you trace American Indian roots: resources include:

Some of our favorite websites for American Indian research are:

You'll also find indexes to the Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory, March 4, 1907 (known as the Dawes Roll) and Applications Submitted for the Eastern Cherokee Roll of 1909 (the Guion-Miller Roll).

American Indian roots | Celebrating your heritage
Monday, 14 November 2011 15:54:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 11 November 2011
Genealogy News Corral, Nov. 7-11
Posted by Diane

Military records | NARA | Videos
Friday, 11 November 2011 14:40:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Remembering Grandpa's WWII Service
Posted by Diane

Grandpa doesn’t know it—he passed away in 2003—but his old Army photos have graced several Family Tree Magazine publications. That's his portrait in the September 2005 Family Tree Sourcebook and on our Military Research Guide CD.

He served in the Army 83rd Signal Co. in 1944 and 1945 in France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany, and received a Bronze Star medal for his service.

The citation above (which I included on a scrapbook page for Scrapbooking Your Family History by Maureen A. Taylor) says he

…showed outstanding leadership in maintaining wire communications between division and regimental headquarters. During the rapid advance of the division, difficult terrain was encountered and artillery fire. His devotion to duty and outstanding services merit the highest praise …

My grandma once told me that Grandpa limped after the war because he’d dropped a big coil of cable on his foot, and she asked him why he hadn’t gotten it checked out. He said he knew he might not be able to return to the same unit. Those were good men, he said, and he didn’t want to leave them. 

He’s among those in the WWII Army Enlistment records, available on the National Archives’ website and on subscription site

His burial information is also recorded in the Veterans Administration Nationwide Gravesite Locator:

You can memorialize your own military ancestors’ service with our military biography form, downloadable from this page

Go here to download our War Service Reference Guide, which has a timeline of US conflicts plus a birth date chart you can use to determine which major wars your ancestor likely served in.

Learning about your relatives' service to our country (and sharing their stories with your family) is one way to honor them today. Here are some of our favorite websites for doing military research.

Thanks, Grandpa.

Military records | saving and sharing family history
Friday, 11 November 2011 09:58:41 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]