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<February 2012>

More Links

# Thursday, February 23, 2012
Last Day to Enter our Virtual Conference Sweepstakes
Posted by Diane

Heads up! Today's the last day to enter to win a Family Tree University Virtual Conference registration in our Virtual Conference Sweepstakes.

You could win a registration (a $199 value) to this weekend event full of video classes, live chats with genealogy experts, message board networking and more. No need to book a hotel room, fuel up the car or even change out of your pajamas.

The Virtual Conference, sponsored by Flip-Pal (whose Flip-Pal mobile scanner is at the top of many genealogists' most-wanted lists), takes place March 9-11. You can log in anytime over the weekend it's convenient for you.

Enter your name in the Virtual Conference Sweepstakes at before 11:59 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Feb. 23.

And find out more about the Virtual Conference at

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Thursday, February 23, 2012 10:26:05 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
This Friday on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Blair Underwood
Posted by Diane

After last week's "Who Do You Think You Are?" hiatus, I'm looking forward to this week's episode featuring actor Blair Underwood. I've admired him ever since "L.A. Law." (I don't have to be a special fan of the celebrity to enjoy an episode, but it does add that extra element.)

In this preview clip, a genealogist guides Underwood through finding family in the 1860 census on—and Underwood realizes his African-American ancestor Delaware Scott was free in 1860, and owned real estate.

And check out this article, in which Underwood talks about filming the show and meeting relatives in Cameroon.

The episode airs at 8 p.m. Eastern/ 7 p.m. Central on NBC.

If you're researching African-American roots like Underwood, you'll find expert research advice in our African-American Genealogy Value Pack, on sale in during Black History Month.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | African-American roots | Celebrity Roots
Thursday, February 23, 2012 8:52:57 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Upcoming Webinars: Online Census Research and Tracing Indiana Ancestors
Posted by Diane

So much has changed in the online census landscape—and even more changes are in store, with the 1940 census release on April 2—that we're sharing search tips in our new Online Census Secrets webinar with presenter (and Family Tree Magazine publisher) Allison Dolan.

You'll learn key facts about censuses, where to find free census records, how to use the major online collections, search strategies for elusive ancestors and what to expect when using the 1940 census. Here's the basic info:

Hoosier Great-granddaddy? Whether you're descended from the native Miami or Potawotomi tribes, pioneers on the National Road, railroad workers of the 1850s, or African-Americans who migrated north in the early 1900s, it's likely that at some point, some of your ancestors were in Indiana.

In our Indiana Genealogy Crash Course webinar, professional genealogist Harold Henderson will show you his strategies for finding your Hoosier ancestors. You'll learn history essentials, how to find vital records and other important Indiana resources, the best websites for Indiana ancestor research and more. The basics:

census records | Editor's Pick | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 2:46:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, February 21, 2012
National Archives Announces Website for 1940 Census Records
Posted by Diane

When the 1940 census is released free online this April 2 at 9 a.m. ET, you can view your ancestors’ records free at

According to the National Archives announcement, no other website will host the 1940 census data on its April 2 release date. Shortly after, though, you’ll also be able to view records free on

The National Archives and the US Census Bureau also are starting a 40 Days to the ’40 Census campaign. You can follow updates on Twitter (the hashtag is #1940Census), Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube, and the blogs NARAtions and Prologue: Pieces of History.

The video below gives you a behind-the-scenes look at census preparations and tips on how to access the data on April 2—such as figuring out the enumeration district (ED) where your family lived. We explained how to do this in a post about Morse's One-Step questionnaire that guides you through the process.

To figure out the ED, you'll need to know your ancestors' address (or the street name and a cross street) at the time of the census. If your family didn't move between 1930 and 1940, you also can use their ED in the 1930 census to determine their ED in 1940.

census records
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 9:24:44 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, February 17, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 13-17
Posted by Diane

  • has added new records including FamilySearch community trees dating back to around 1500, and 1930 census images (the majority of the 1930 census images are now available, with more images from this plus the 1920 and 1920 censuses coming online over the next several weeks).
The additions bring the count of records available on to more than 2 billion.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | | census records | FamilySearch | Genetic Genealogy | MyHeritage | Public Records
Friday, February 17, 2012 12:43:32 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
Presidents Day Sale on Genealogy Resources at
Posted by Diane

Happy President’s Day! We’re marking the occasion with a big President's Day sale! President's Day Sale

You'll save up to 46 percent on selected genealogy books and how-to articles, including:
  • Guides to help you research ancestors in Illinois, Virginia and Washington DC

  • Our collected State Research Guides book with advice for tracing your ancestry all across the United States

  • Our Military Research Guide CD and other guides to finding records of ancestors in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I and World War II, and other American conflicts

  • The book Life in Civil War America by Michael O. Varhola

  • The book Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites by Brian Lamb
See for the full list of what’s included in our President’s Day sale.

As always, you get free shipping on orders of $25 or more, and Family Tree VIPs get an extra 10 percent off.

And if you suspect there's a US president in your family tree, check out our presidential genealogy research resources on Sales
Friday, February 17, 2012 9:25:22 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, February 16, 2012
Free for a Limited Time: Canadian Vital Records, Japanese Internment Camp Records, 1930 Census
Posted by Diane

Two sites have limited-time free record offers:
  • is offering free access to two databases now through Feb. 23 to mark the 70th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which sent 120,000 Japanese-Americans and residents to internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor: 
  • Update: I also just received an newsletter stating that the site's 1930 US census collection will be free through Feb. 20.

In both cases, you'll need to set up a free account with the site (or log into your existing account) to view record matches.

Asian roots | Canadian roots | census records | Free Databases | Vital Records
Thursday, February 16, 2012 11:33:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [7]
Family Tree University Virtual Conference Sweepstakes!
Posted by Diane

Family Tree University is holding a Virtual Conference Sweepstakes! Now through Feb. 23, enter and you could win a free Virtual Conference registration—that's a $199 value.

The Virtual Conference, taking place March 9-11, is a weekend of family history learning and networking through video classes, live chats, a forum, a virtual exhibit hall, a swag bag and chances to win prizes. No plane tickets, hotel stays or other travel expenses—just log in and you're there.

Go to by February 23 to enter the Virtual Conference Sweepstakes. Good luck!

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Thursday, February 16, 2012 9:00:33 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Q&A With Dick Eastman, the RV-ing Genealogy Blogger
Posted by Diane

For the “Five Questions” interview of our March/April 2012 Family Tree Magazine (page 12), we asked genealogy blogger Dick Eastman about his adventures in his new RV.

(March/April subscriber issues are mailing now, and the digital edition is available at The issue will be on newsstands starting March 6.)

It was hard to choose just five of Dick's answers for the magazine, so I’m putting all of them here. You can read even more about Dick’s peripatetic life from his RV blog.

Q. How long have you wanted to tour the country in an RV?

A. More or less forever. I don't remember when the idea first occurred to me, although I know it was many years ago. I have traveled extensively for business and for personal vacations most of my life. The "vagabond lifestyle" appeals to me. Now, for the first time, I am a homeless person and am enjoying it.

Q. Are RVs hard to drive?

A. Not really. Physically, motor homes are very easy to drive. They have automatic transmissions, power steering, and power brakes. The physical effort involved is about the same as driving an automobile.

However, the driver does have to remember that the motor home is wider and taller than an automobile and it doesn't stop as quickly. In other words, it doesn't stop on a dime. Anyone driving a motor home soon learns to leave a lot of space between the motor home and the vehicle in front of them. You also have to keep an eye open for low bridges and overpasses. 

Q. Where are you most looking forward to visiting in the RV?

A. Anyplace I have never visited before. While I have been fortunate enough to visit many well-known tourist attractions, I have missed hundreds of smaller "gems" and I hope to change that. I want to go to the balloon festival in Albuquerque, the huge airshow in Oshkosh, Wis., and drive the winding road in Deals Gap, NC and Tenn., which is supposedly the most winding road in North America, an attraction for anyone who owns sports cars. It has 318 curves in 11 miles. I hope to drive it in a sports car, not in the motor home. (I tow a car behind the motor home.)

Q. If 1 is someone who wakes up in the morning and decides on a whim where he'll park the RV that night, and 10 is someone who plans out every detail of his itinerary months in advance, what number are you?

A. Probably a 2 or 3. I deliberately do not plan very much. I prefer to be surprised. Occasionally, it backfires, but most of the time it works well.

Q. Have you ever gotten lost in the RV? (While driving it, not inside it.)

A. No. Never. Of course, I do carry four GPSs, a road atlas, a thick book of all campgrounds in the United States, a cell phone, and two two-way radios. It is difficult to be lost.

Q. What do you consider the most essential item for the RV-ing genealogist to possess?

A. Patience. The second most important thing is a good toolkit: pliers, screwdrivers, and things like that. Unlike your home, everything in a motor home shakes when you are driving down the road. The appliances in a motor home suffer a lot more vibration than home appliances will ever encounter. Wires under the dash shake loose, pictures fall off the wall (I had this happen), and other strange things happen. I am almost always performing some minor repair of an unforeseen problem.

Q. If you had to pick, which one of these bumper stickers would you put on your RV?: "This is how I roll" or "Genealogy is TREE-rific!"?

A. Genealogy is TREE-rific!

Q. If you could choose anyone from history as your RV copilot, who would it be?

A. OK, I have to give you two answers: Lewis and Clark. Those two adventurers set off to see things they had never seen before.

I would give honorable mention to several Arctic and Antarctic explorers, except that they spent much of their time in very cold weather. I have already done that. I was born in Maine, lived in northern Vermont, lived in northern New Hampshire, and spent two winters in the Canadian subarctic amongst the Eskimos in in Labrador. I've seen my share of cold weather! Now I am seeking sunshine.

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites | 5 Questions Plus
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 9:51:58 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Picturing Your Family History
Posted by Diane

Are you learning as much as you should from your old black-and-white family photographs? Are you doing as much as you can to preserve them?

You can make sure the answer to these questions is yes by taking the latest Family Tree University Power Course, Picture Your Family History.

In this one-week course, you'll learn how to:

  • How to analyze photos for clues to discover your family history
  • How to use those clues to learn when and where the photo was taken, and who might be in it
  • How to scan photos to get the best possible digital image
  • Tips to rescue worn, torn, scratched, faded or moldy images
  • Free online photo editing tools you can use to digitally repair photos
  • How to repair damage to facial features in your family photographs
  • Where to get help when you can’t do it yourself

Power Courses give you two intensive hours of learning you can immediately use to solve your family history problems. In the time it takes to watch a movie, you can become a better genealogist. 

Click here to learn more about the Picture Your Family History Power Course. Don't forget to use promo code FTU2011 to save 20 percent on your registration.

The photo above shows my great-grandfather and my grandmother in about 1930.

Family Tree University | Photos
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 10:29:18 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]