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<2012 February>

More Links

# Thursday, 02 February 2012
1940 Census Community Project Update
Posted by Diane

Here's an update on the 1940 Community Census Project, a partnership among FamilySearch, and It was the focus of a RootsTech bloggers dinner yesterday.

The 1940 census images will be hosted on, the National Archives website. Archives has been awarded the digitization contract for these images.

Indexing will begin as soon as the records are released online April 2. Each page will be indexed twice, with a third arbitrator to resolve difference in the two indexes.

FamilySearch is making upgrades and doing "test loading" to make sure its site can handle the extra traffic the indexing project will generate.

Chris Van Der Kuyl, CEO of brightsolid (the British parent company of, described the 1940 project as "one of the most exciting crowdsourced projects on the internet." A video commercial to be released on YouTube will bill it as a "national service project" and genealogical societies will receive incentives for galvanizing members to index.

Part of the funding provided by brightsolid and will be dedicated to producing other free digital collections. The idea is that money that might otherwise be used to build competing census collections will now go to creating access to material that's not already online. It's "putting money into the community that would otherwise be duplicated," says John Spottiswood of

To volunteer for 1940 census indexing, sign up on the 1940 Community Census Project website.

We're joining in the RootsTech excitement with conference specials for everyone! You'll get 20 percent off select online genealogy titles at | census records | FamilySearch | RootsTech
Thursday, 02 February 2012 15:40:25 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Brightsolid to Launch 1st Pay-As-You-Go Census Records Site
Posted by Diane

Remember how British genealogy company brightsolid was poised to announce plans to launch a new product for the US market? Here it is:

Brightsolid just announced a new pay-as-you-go site for US census records, 1790 to 1930, plus 1940 when it's released later this year. It'll be called, and is already live as as an early beta version that invites user feedback.

This is the first site that will let you search for your ancestors in the cnesus, then purchase the record with their names—a model that'll potentially make census research more affordable and accessible to those who don't want to commit to a genealogy website subscription.

No doubt brightsolid hopes—I know I do, too—that the pay-as-you-go service will lure casual researchers to get more involved in family history research. visitors will be able to search for free. To view documents and download them to their computer, they can subscribe or buy pay-as-you-go credits, which start at $7.95 for 1,000 credits (good for 60 days).

Pay-as-you-go costs could add up if you're not sure you've found your ancestor and have to check a bunch of records, but if you're sure you've found the right folks, this could be your most cost-effective approach.

With the confluence of several factors—a growing interest in family history, economic concerns, anticipation for the 1940 census, and "Who Do You Think You Are?" showing genealogy to the masses— is poised to be a big hit. What do you think? (Hit Comments below to share your thoughts.)

We're joining in the RootsTech excitement with conference specials for everyone! You'll get 20 percent off select online genealogy titles at

census records | Genealogy Industry | RootsTech | Sales
Thursday, 02 February 2012 11:33:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
Search Thousands More Family Histories on
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has moved its online books collection from the Brigham Young Family History Archive site to a beta site at (You also can go to and click the Books tab.)

Digital book operations manager Dennis Meldrum says approximately 17,700 books were moved, and a backlog of 13,300 books—which wouldn't fit onto the BYU site—were added.

That means you can now search upwards of 31,000 family history books at Another 4,500 will be added this week, with 25,000 more to come during 2012.

You can keyword-search the entire text of the books and download an entire book (instead of one page at a time, as was the case on the BYU site). "We are working to improve the download experience over the coming weeks," Meldrum says.

We're joining in the RootsTech excitement with conference specials for everyone! You'll get 20 percent off select online genealogy titles at

FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy books | RootsTech
Thursday, 02 February 2012 09:07:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Wednesday, 01 February 2012
Ultimate German Research Collection
Posted by Diane

If you're like me and have German ancestors, you're part of the United States' largest heritage group: German ancestry is consistently the most-claimed ethnic background on US censuses.

This month's Ultimate Collection will help you research those folks! Our Ultimate German Research Collection has

  • Find Your German Roots: Family Tree University Independent Study Course download
  • German Newspapers in America (on-demand video class)
  • Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Germanic Ancestors digital book
  • Family Tree Passport to Europe CD
  • Tracing German Ancestry in Eastern Europe download

Plus, you get a 25 percent off coupon for the Family Tree University German Genealogy 201 online course (learn more about this course here).

This collection is a $184 value for $69.99, and it's available only while supplies last, and only in February. Get your Ultimate German Research Collection in

Editor's Pick | International Genealogy | Sales
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 14:30:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Black History Records Collection Free on Fold3 in February
Posted by Diane

Genealogy subscription site Fold3 (the former Footnote) is making its Black History Collection free during February in honor of Black History Month.

Among the records in this collection are:

  • Danish West Indies Slave Records
  • the 1860 US Census
  • US Colored Troops Compiled Service Records and pension files
  • Southern Claims Commission files (petitions by Southerners—including many African-Americans—who lost property to Union troops during the Civil War)
  • Military Intelligence Division—Negro Subversion (1914–1941)
  • Vietnam War Marine Corps Photos

You'll be prompted to register for a free Fold3 account when you click to view a record.

African-American roots | Fold3 | Military records
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 15:44:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
Enter to Win an iPad in RootsMagic Treasure Hunt
Posted by Diane

Genealogy software company RootsMagic is holding a treasure hunt contest in conjunction with FamilySearch's RootsTech conference Feb. 2-4 in Salt Lake City, but you can play from home, too—and maybe win an iPad.

The treasure hunt involves finding words hidden on the blogs of 15 genealogy bloggers who'll be reporting at the conference.

You'll find entry instructions on the RootsMagic website. Good luck!

We're joining in the RootsTech excitement with conference specials for everyone! You'll get 20 percent off select online genealogy titles at

Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun | RootsTech
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 13:39:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5] to Live-Stream its RootsTech Presentations
Posted by Diane

We blogged last week that you can watch several RootsTech presentations live via the RootsTech home page. also will live-stream several presentations by its staff. See the list on’s Facebook page.

My top picks:

  • The Inner-workings of the Search Engine, Friday, Feb. 3, 3 pm MST

  • 5 New Things to Try at, Friday, Feb. 3, 1:45 pm MST

  • Who Do You Think You Are? Live Q&A: How Do Our Experts Search?
    Saturday, Feb. 4, 2:30pm MST (This is the day after NBC's season 3 premiere of "Who Do You Think You Are?" so you may get some insider details on the Martin Sheen episode.)
You can watch the presentations on's Facebook page or its Livestream channel.

The RootsTech conference, organized by FamilySearch, takes place this week, Feb. 2-4, in Salt Lake City.

We're joining in the RootsTech excitement with conference specials for everyone! You'll get 20 percent off select online genealogy titles at | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | RootsTech
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 12:56:02 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
Genealogists Gear Up to Save the SSDI
Posted by Diane

You've heard a lot lately about new threats to your access to information in the Social Security Death Index. This Thursday, the House Ways & Means Committee's Subcommittee on Social Security will hold hearings on the SSDI and privacy issues. Only those invited may give testimony, and no genealogists made the list—not for lack of trying.

Members of the public can submit statements for the hearing record. These statements must meet the specific format required by the Ways and Means Committee.

The genealogy Records Preservation and Action Committee (RPAC) recommends that such formal statements come from societies. RPAC is a joint task force of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and the National Genealogical Society (NGS).

FGS, NGS and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) will submit statements.

The RPAC, however, says it's working on a mechanism for individual genealogists to speak up in an "appropriate but dramatic" way. RPAC members are meeting at the RootsTech conference this week and will monitor Thursday's hearing. The committee plan make an announcement about how you can help save the SSDI by Feb. 14.

Genealogy societies | Public Records
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 09:17:36 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Monday, 30 January 2012
Project Builds Database of Variant Name Spellings
Posted by Diane

Have you ever run a search on a genealogy website and been surprised at some of the names that got into your search results?, and have started a project to compile a database of surname and given name variants that should be searched along with whatever name you type into a genealogy database.

Traditionally, the Soundex system and/or a site's own algorithms determine what matches you see, but these still can return matches that don't make sense and miss good matches.

The project will improve searching on, but any genealogy data site will be able to use the Variant Names Project database to improve its searching.

You can help build the database by adding alternate spellings for the surnames in your family tree. First, you'll need to create a free WeRelate account by clicking create account at the top of the page.

On the Variant Names project home, select given name or surname, enter the name and hit Go.

You'll see a list of potential alternate spellings with checkboxes. The checked names are included in online searches for the name you entered. (In addition, rare names that share a Soundex code are also included.) Unchecked names aren't included.

Review the list and think about variations you've found in your research. You'll uncheck variants of the name that shouldn't be included in searches, check names that should be included, and add other names in the text box at the bottom of the screen.

The starting-point lists came from an algorithm and WeRelate came up with to find similar names for the 200,000 most-frequent surnames and 70,000 most-frequent given names in's databases. Names also were added from, a site about the etymology of given names, as well as name dictionaries. | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 30 January 2012 15:47:49 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 27 January 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Jan. 23-27
Posted by Diane

  • Free genealogy search engine Mocavo has made two big hires: Michael Leclerc, who spent 15 years with the New England Historic Genealogical Society, as Chief Genealogist; and Ryan Hunter, a former Wall Street analyst who covered companies including, as COO. | Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 27 January 2012 15:57:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]