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<2011 December>

More Links

# Thursday, 15 December 2011
$avings Alert: Learn Strategies for Newspaper Research
Posted by Diane

If you haven't taken full advantage of old newspapers for discovering family history—maybe you're unsure how to find out which ones covered your ancestors' hometown or fear you don't have time to scroll through rolls of microfilm—here's a deal for you:

Take our Newspaper Research 101 Family Tree University Course starting Jan. 9 for just $39.99 (the four-week course is usually $99.99). The special rate is made possible by GenealogyBank.

Besides obituaries, newspapers are sources for birth announcements, social column notes and other news stories mentioning your ancestors—even if they weren't prominent community members. 

I still get nostalgic over my first big genealogy find, a 1924 Dallas Morning News article about my grandfather who grew up in an orphanage and was putting himself through college (you can see the article here). I discovered it by chance on GenealogyBank soon after the site launched. 

Newspaper microfilm from the Arkansas state archives helped me fill in details (otherwise absent due to missing court records) about my grandfather's arrest and trial for bootlegging.

In the Newspaper Research 101 course, taught by James M. Beidler, you'll learn:

  • what type of information to look for in newspapers
  • how to find and access papers most likely to mention your kin
  • how to effectively search digital and microfilmed papers

Learn more and take advantage of this once-in-a-blue-moon Newspaper Research 101 tuition on

Family Tree University | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers
Thursday, 15 December 2011 09:43:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 14 December 2011
iPhone App Helps You Record Family Stories
Posted by Diane

Here's a new smartphone app to consider grabbing before holiday gatherings: Record Their Stories for the iPhone has a built-in edit suite (stop, start, join and trim conversations) and more than 100 questions to help you capture relatives' stories. Use it with the phone's built-in audio recording capabilities.

Keep the recording on your phone or computer. You also can upload it to the Record Their Stories website and order a professionally mixed version of the recording, complete with music and sound effects.

You can get the Record Their Stories iPhone app for 99 cents from the iTunes app store. Learn more at the Record Their Stories website.

Get more help preparing for oral history conversations (learn everything from what to ask to what you should bring) with expert articles on

The January 2012 Family Tree Magazine has Lisa Louise Cooke's roundup of favorite apps for family history researchers.

Oral History | saving and sharing family history | Tech Advice
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 12:54:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
TV Time!
Posted by Diane

Hello, "Who Do You Think You Are?" fans: NBC's mid-season 2012 schedule has the show debuting Feb. 3 from 8 to 9 p.m. ET. We've heard that actors Marisa Tomei, Martin Sheen and Blair Underwood are among the celebs who'll appear.

In other genealogy-TV news: The blog reported that tonight's (Wed., Dec. 14) episode of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" will have a genealogy theme. The victim is a genealogist (ouch) who uncovers a dark family secret, and one of the genealogists questioned in the case connects a CSI's family to famous historical folks.

The show airs at 10/9 Central on CBS. If you missed it, you can catch it on

"Who Do You Think You Are?"
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 12:46:17 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 13 December 2011
RootsWeb Removes its Free SSDI Database
Posted by Diane

One of the free resources we’ve recommended for years to search the online Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has been taken offline.

RootsWeb’s SSDI database is no longer available, with a message that

Due to sensitivities around the information in this database, the Social Security Death Index collection is not available on our free Rootsweb service but is accessible to search on

The SSDI is a database of deaths reported to the Social Security Administration, for the most part since 1962. A subscription is required to use's version of the SSDI, and genealogists including Randy Seaver and Sheri Fenley report that Social Security numbers aren't provided for deaths within the past 10 years.

You might think genealogists wouldn't be concerned with such a recent death, but someone who died in 2002 might've been born in 1920, and his or her application for an SSN (called an SS-5) could name parents born in the 1800s. Plus, the SSDI is useful for tracing family lines forward in time to find distant cousins.

Randy lists other sources of the SSDI, which include the free FamilySearch site.

If you don't have a deceased person's SSN, you still can request his or her SS-5. You'll need to provide a birth date, any other names the person used, and the parents' names, and pay $29 instead of $27. You now can request an SS-5 online.

The "sensitivities" RootsWeb refers to are likely related to a recent news story about criminals using SSNs of deceased individuals to commit tax fraud. (Couldn't the IRS prevent this by comparing SSNs on tax forms to numbers in the SSDI?)

Read more on recent SSDI changes, which include a reduction in the number of new deaths that'll be included in this database, here. | Genealogy Web Sites | Public Records
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 10:54:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Monday, 12 December 2011
12 Great Genealogy Gifts (for You or Someone Else), Just $12 Each
Posted by Diane

Have you had your eye on some genealogy helps at Are you searching for last-minute gifts?

We've got you covered with 12 great titles for just $12 each! Choose from:

  • 101 Brick Wall Busters: Solutions to Overcome Your Genealogical Challenges book

  • Remember That? A Year-by-Year Chronicle of Fun Facts, Headlines, & Your Memories book (which I think would be great for the person who doesn't need another pair of slippers, but would love if you bring a baked treat, sit for a spell, and go through this book together and reminisce)

  • Family History Detective: A Step-by-Step Guide to Investigating Your Family History book (terrific for someone who wants to start on his or her genealogy)

  • Family Tree Magazine 2011 Annual CD (update your digital Family Tree Magazine library)

  • Family Tree Pocket Reference book

  • Genealogist's Research Trip Planner digital download (I will be consulting this guide to plan my research in Cleveland this April, which will piggyback on a trip to the Ohio Genealogical Society conference April 12-14)

  • German Newspapers in America video class

  • International Genealogy Passport CD

  • Irish Genealogy Online video class

  • Military Research Guide CD (another good gift for a beginner, or for anyone tracing a Civil War, WWII or other military ancestor)

  • Photo Rescue digital download (wonderful for the keeper of your family's photographic heritage)

Get more details on each 12 for $12 goodie on

12 Days of Genealogy | Genealogy books | Sales
Monday, 12 December 2011 11:16:34 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 08 December 2011
Take $20 Off Our Organize Your Family History Value Pack
Posted by Diane

Today's installment of our 12 Days of Savings will help you complete a nagging item on your genealogy to-do list: Getting your research organized.

Now you can get the Organize Your Family History Value Pack for just $49.99 with code DECDEALS. That’s $20 off the regular price of this kit (which is already discounted over the cost of buying each component separately). 

What’s inside? Instructions and tools to guide you through the process of decluttering, sorting and filing your research (on paper and on your computer), and maintaining a system for organization.

Here’s what the Organize Your Family History Value Pack includes:

  • Organize Your Genealogy: Family Tree University Independent Study Course download
  • Organization Made Easy: 5 Simple Ways to Get Your Family History in Order on-demand webinar
  • Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD
  • Organize Now! book

Get more details on the Organize Your Family History Value Pack here. You could devote some of your holiday time off to starting the projects in this value pack, and start the new year feeling in control of your research.

Click here to take advantage of this deal. Sales
Thursday, 08 December 2011 09:12:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 07 December 2011
Today's Deal: Our Genealogy Desk Calendar for $6.50
Posted by Diane

Today's 12 Days of Savings bring you 50 percent off the Family Tree Magazine 2012 Genealogy Desk Calendar when you use offer code DECDEALS.

The lovely family photos and stories in the calendar deliver research inspiration, and at the 12 Days of Deals price of $6.50, it'll pay for itself with the included coupons.

It would make a great little gift for your genealogy pals and your favorite librarian. Click here to get this deal! Sales
Wednesday, 07 December 2011 10:20:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
This Is Not a Drill
Posted by Diane

Seventy years ago today, the Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, sent this dispatch to major navy commands and fleet units.

It was the first official word of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona was destroyed, killing 1,177 officers and crew. The USS Oklahoma capsized. About 2,400 Americans were killed.

As the number of survivors of the attack—now around 2,000—dwindles, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association has elected to dissolve at the end of this year.

Now it's even more important for those who didn't witness the attack firsthand to preserve the memories of that day. Here are a few places to start: 

Military records | Social History | Videos
Wednesday, 07 December 2011 09:29:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 06 December 2011
Old Houses Get Decked Out for the Holidays
Posted by Diane

If you love historic houses and you're in a holiday kind of mood, see if a historic house museum near you is decorated, vintage-style, for the holidays. You'll get a feel for Christmases before plastic tinsel and the crazy Target lady.

Run a web search or check the events section in your newspaper for events at museums near you, or tours of private homes. You also can browse the historic house museums in the MuseumsUSA directory. I did a little Web surfing, and my personal jet, if I had one, would fly me to these holiday houses:

  • Belle Meade Plantation, Nashville Tenn. A Century of Christmas: 1853-1953, shows how Christmas celebrations here evolved from fresh greens and a simply decorated tree in 1853 to 20th-century electric tree lights and characters.
  • Glessner and Clarke House Museums, Chicago. Two museums display different aspects of holiday celebrations. Clarke House exemplifies emerging holiday customs of the 1850s with simple decorations, and more elaborate decor at Glessner House reflects the growing interest in the celebration of Christmas.
  • Pabst Mansion, Milwaukee. This beer baron's mansion features a nationally recognized Christmas display representing America's Gilded Age.
  • Kimball House Museum, Battle Creek, Mich. A lovely Victorian house museum features lavish decorations.
  • Aiken-Rhett House, Charleston, SC. This home re-creates the Victorian Age in its holiday decor.
  • Mackenzie House, Toronto. This row house belonging to Toronto's first mayor is decorated in holiday greenery.

  • Christmas at Arlington, Birmingham, Ala. Flowers transform this Antebellum home, built by one of Birmingham’s founders, into replicas of Christmas past.
  • A Christmas Story House, Cleveland. So this isn't exactly pre-outdoor electric lights, but it's definitely nostalgic for those who remember Ralphie's quest for an air rifle and Randy's immobilizing snowsuit. You can tour the house where much of the 1983 movie was filmed and and get your own version of the Old Man's leg lamp.

Genealogy fun | Historic preservation | Social History
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 11:37:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
12 Days of Deals: Extra 20% Off Virtual Conference Videos
Posted by Diane

Today you can save an extra 20 percent on our on-demand Virtual Conference videos with code DECDEALS. That first-of-its-kind online event featured half-hour video classes from Family Tree Magazine experts. (Click here to learn more about the Virtual Conference.)

Even if you missed the conference, you can take advantage of 17 great classes, including

Virtual Conference video classes are available individually or in packages. They’re already on sale—now’s your chance to save another 20 percent. Click here to check them out.

Genealogy Events | Sales | Videos
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 10:57:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]