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# Saturday, February 25, 2012
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Blair Underwood
Posted by Diane

I caught last night's “Who Do You Think You Are?” Blair Underwood episode on Hulu (we went to my nephew's basketball game).

This was my favorite episode so far. More of it took place in libraries and archives than the previous episodes, with lots of looking at records and historians guiding us through their meaning. Second, the profound impact this research had on Underwood really came across.

After taking an Ancestry.com DNA test to help trace his paternal side (which his brother Frank has researched in genealogical records—I wonder if Frank has read Family Tree Magazine?), Underwood crisscrossed Virginia from Richmond to Lynchburg and back (and forth again) to trace two branches on his mom’s side.

Among his discoveries in censuses and registers of free “negroes” was a free African-American ancestor, Samuel Scott. Scott owned two slaves, who we learn were probably his own parents.

Due to an 1806 law regarding freed slaves, the parents would’ve had to leave the state or risk being sold back into slavery if Samuel had not purchased them. This shows how important historical context can be when you’re interpreting historical records about your family.

(PS: This website has more information and some transcribed indexes of free African-Americans in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.)

In another branch was an ancestor, Sawney Early, who was institutionalized in the 1900 census. From newspaper articles, we learn about Sawney’s disputes with white neighbors who’d arrived after the war. Sawney was described as wearing odd clothing and believing himself to be the “second Jesus.” He shot a man’s cow that had wandered into his corn, and was himself shot several times. A historian explains Early was likely a “conjuror”—a spiritual leader and healer in slave communities.

At the end, the DNA test results come in and Underwood’s Y-DNA is a match to a man in Cameroon, so he and his father visit their African cousins. The cousin said he took a DNA test in 2005 for a project to connect people in Cameroon to families in America (I wonder if this was the National Geographic Genographic Project). 

A couple of things I want to point out: The DNA testing was very appealing and made it look easy, but I wonder what the chances are of finding such a clear match.

And the show seemed to give up when Sawney Early couldn’t be found in the 1860 census, when he was probably a slave. There are strategies to trace slaves using the 1850 and 1860 censuses, even though they’re not named, and you also can use resources such as wills and estate records and African-American genealogy websites such as these. (Perhaps the researchers tried these methods and came up empty-handed.)

The episode showed that African-Americans can have success tracing their roots in records and through DNA, and it showed how meaningful the journey can be.


Related resources from ShopFamilyTree.com:


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | African-American roots | Celebrity Roots
Saturday, February 25, 2012 11:14:48 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [28]
# Friday, February 24, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 20-24
Posted by Diane

  • Findmypast.co.uk today announced a project to digitize the 3.5 to 4 million historical records from the Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies in England. The records cover parish churches and bishops' transcripts, spanning 1538 to 1990 (1910 for baptisms and 1928 for marriages).

Findmypast.co.uk also added 359,000 records of UK merchant seamen records covering the years 1835-1857. Its sister site findmypast.ie added Petty Sessions order books—court records from the lowest courts in Ireland—from 1850 through 1910.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com | Celebrity Roots | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Military records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, February 24, 2012 2:36:25 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
Family Tree University Virtual Conference Sweepstakes Winner!
Posted by Diane



Congratulations to Barbara Lemley of St. Joseph, Mo., who won a registration to our Family Tree University Virtual Conference in this week's sweepstakes!

Want to join Barbara March 9-11 in a weekend of genealogy classes and networking—without leaving home? Find out more about the Virtual Conference on FamilyTreeUniversity.com.


Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Friday, February 24, 2012 9:43:31 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# 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 FamilyTreeUniversity.com before 11:59 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Feb. 23.

And find out more about the Virtual Conference at FamilyTreeUniversity.com.


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 Ancestry.com—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 ShopFamilyTree.com 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 1940census.archives.gov.

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 Ancestry.com.

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

  • Archives.com 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 Archives.com to more than 2 billion.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Archives.com | 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 ShopFamilyTree.com
Posted by Diane

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

 ShopFamilyTree.com 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 ShopFamilyTree.com 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 FamilyTreeMagazine.com.


ShopFamilyTree.com 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 Ancestry.com sites have limited-time free record offers:
  • Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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]