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# Friday, March 23, 2012
1940 Census, Simplified: What You Really Need to Know, in 7 Key Points
Posted by Diane

You've been hearing about the 1940 census from several organizations that'll be hosting the records, and all that information coming at you from various sources might seem confusing.

To help you digest all those details, I'm summarizing and simplifying them here into what you really need to know about where the 1940 census records and indexes will be. Here it is:

1. On April 2 at 9 a.m., the only place you'll be able to find online 1940 census records for the entire country is 1940census.archives.gov. This website was made possible through the National Archives' contract with genealogy company Archives.com.

2. Shortly after the initial release, other websites will begin adding the records as fast as they can. Those include:

3. For the first week to several weeks after April 2, the only way to find your ancestor's 1940 census record will be to browse by enumeration district.

You can find out what an enumeration district is and how to pinpoint the right one by watching our free video on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

4. Three separate projects to index these census records by name will begin ASAP after the records are released:

The 1940 Census Community Project is recruiting volunteers to do the indexing; Ancestry.com and MyHeritage are using paid contractors to do their indexing work.

5. Each site will add its index one state at a time, as states are completed. No site has specified the order in which states will be indexed, so at this time there's no telling when a particular site will add your ancestor's state. It could be weeks or months before a given site posts the index you need (so you'll want to check all the above sites periodically).

6. Ancestry.com is completing its index in two phases: a basic name index to be released first on a state-by-state basis, then a more-detailed index with additional information to follow. This means you may have access to a searchable basic name index for your ancestral state earlier on Ancestry.com than on another site.

7. Watch out for sites that try to charge for access to 1940 census records. There is no need to pay for 1940 census records. They'll be available online, free, at the sites mentioned in No. 2.


Get help finding your ancestors in the US census with these resources from Family Tree Magazine:


Ancestry.com | Archives.com | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage
Friday, March 23, 2012 3:07:17 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
Genealogy News Corral, March 19-23
Posted by Diane

  • Looks like I'll be parked in front of the TV for a fair portion of the weekend. Tonight on "Who Do You Think You Are?" watch actress Helen Hunt explore her roots. Here's a video preview:

  • Archives.com has hired genealogist Megan Smolenyak as its Family History Advisor. She'll start immediately, talking about the 1940 census. Smolenyak was formerly chief genealogist at Archives.com competitor Ancestry.com.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com | Archives.com | Celebrity Roots | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events
Friday, March 23, 2012 9:09:23 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Coming to MyHeritage: More Historical Records, Sophisticated Searching
Posted by Diane

Hosting the 1940 US census is the start of big changes at genealogy site and family network MyHeritage. Those changes will include more records and more-sophisticated searching.

In an interview yesterday, MyHeritage founder and CEO Gilad Japhet called the 1940 census announcement “the first serious signal from MyHeritage that it is strongly entering the historical records market."

"MyHeritage has always been about family trees and photos.”

For at least a year, plans have been underway to change that.

MyHeritage.com has invested half a million dollars into new hardware and a data center to build its new SuperSearch system, which will be released with the site’s 1940 census collection in April. It also will be available on FamilyLink and WorldVitalRecords.com, which MyHeritage acquired in November 2011.

The company also made a personnel acquisition I’m not free to go into detail about, but you’ll hear more soon.

MyHeritage has used SmartMatching, which Japhet says is a good way to search trees for matches, but less effective when it comes to searching on a last name "in any direction the user wants to go."

The new search system will do a better job of matching trees to records by employing data in approximately 1 billion profiles in MyHeritage.com family trees from around the world.

The SuperSearch will first compare your tree to other trees, find matches and “imply” information from those trees—but not add it to your tree, Japhet emphasized. But the search will include that implied information to find historical records that match your ancestors.

For example, if your ancestor’s profile lacks a death date, SuperSearch could find the same ancestor in someone else’s tree—using other details such as children’s names to make the match—and use the death date from the other person’s tree to locate the ancestor’s will in MyHeritage collections.

“This has a low false positive rate. It’s a match Ancestry never could have done. Their technology doesn't use the knowledge of all its trees,” Japhet said. He described the Ancestry.com “shaky leaf” technology as “a bit naïve” because it requires more similar information, such as name spellings or birth and death dates—information the tree owner might not know—to find matches.

“Whenever new data are added, we compare them to all the MyHeritage trees, so you can sit back and do nothing,” Japhet says. “If you have a person’s family tree, you can do a lot of research on behalf of the person.”

Due to the resource investment, using the new SuperSearch engine will require a subscription, says Japhet. But current MyHeritage Premium and PremiumPlus subscribers, who’ve purchased subscriptions to build enhanced trees on the site, won’t need to purchase an additional subscription to use the search engine for finding trees, photos and free collections (including the 1940 census and the SSDI). Pay-as-you credits also will be available for those who want to view only a few records or just dip a toe into genealogy research.

The 1940 census index also will be free to search via SuperSearch.

Trees will remain an important part of MyHeritage.

“We think family trees are the most important thing. They’re the core of family history. We would love for users to grow their trees on MyHeritage, so we have invested many resources in building tools and services that work with the trees.” Those include the MyHeritage mobile app, printable family trees, family calendars and more.

“Other sites focus on research,” Japhet says, but added that users might give it up when it becomes too time-consuming. “Users discontinue [a subscription] when they can’t use it,” he says, “but they’ll maintain a tree for life.”

Trees also have been helpful in making MyHeritage a site that supports multiple languages—38, to be exact. Because trees can be bilingual, developers have been able to build a store of information about name equivalents in a range of languages.

“You can type in a Russian name and get an English match,” Japhet says. “Or you could type in Alex and the site ‘knows’ Sascha is the translated Russian nickname, and it pulls up a newspaper article in Russian,” he says.

The site translates between alphabets, too, such as the Latin alphabet English uses and the Cyrillic alphabet Russian uses.

To encourage the site’s internationalism, MyHeritage focuses on hiring bilingual individuals. They maintain blogs and provide customer service in several languages.

The 1940 census is just the beginning of new content for MyHeritage. Japhet didn’t name any specific collections coming to the site, but he emphasized the global nature of records to be added and said the site would employ crowdsourcing to acquire content. Those who assist with crowdsourcing efforts will gain SuperSearch privileges.



Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage
Friday, March 23, 2012 7:54:52 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, March 22, 2012
Exclusive! MyHeritage to Offer 1940 Census Free
Posted by Diane

In an exclusive interview today (about 12 minutes ago, actually), MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet told me that genealogy site and family network MyHeritage.com will offer the 1940 US census for free after the National Archives releases the records April 2.

MyHeritage, a company based in Israel and with a US office in Provo, Utah, will provide the 1940 census free at myheritage.com/1940census, www.worldvitalrecords.com/1940census and www.familylink.com/1940census.

(MyHeritage acquired FamilyLink and its WorldVitalRecords site last November.)

As on other websites planning to offer the 1940 census, you'll be able to browse the record images by place as soon as they're added to the site.

A searchable index will be added throughout the year, as data from each state are transcribed. The MyHeritage 1940 census index will be created separately from both the FamilySearch/Archives.com/brightsolid 1940 Census Community Project and the Ancestry.com index. A company that specializes in historical transcription will develop the index, which Japhet says will be highly accurate. 

Once MyHeritage has launched the index for a given state, you'll be able to search it by multiple criteria using the MyHeritage SuperSearch, a fast and sophisticated new search engine to be released in April. All searches will take less than half a second, Japhet told me.

The search engine will support 38 languages, the only 1940 census site to offer this feature. You'll also be able to search the records using the MyHeritage mobile app.

If you have a family tree on MyHeritage.com, the site will automatically match it to 1940 census data as indexes are added and notify you about relevant results. This reduces the need to constantly repeat your searches to see if the index for your ancestor's state has been added.

The 1940 census is the first of additional historical content to come on MyHeritage. "This is the first serious signal from MyHeritage that it is strongly entering the historical records market," Japhet says.

Japhet shared a lot of detail with me, so I'll write another post about MyHeritage's plans for introducing new, global content and a sophisticated way to search it.

For more 1940 census information, including a free video on using Stephen Morse's One-Step tool for determining your ancestor's 1940 enumeration district, see FamilyTreeMagazine.com/info/1940census.


census records | Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage
Thursday, March 22, 2012 1:30:51 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
Getting Ready for the 1940 Census: Nine Absolute Must-Haves
Posted by Diane

Part two in our series on getting ready for the release of the 1940 census is a guest post from census preparedness expert Ida Searcher:

I was inspired to become a census preparedness expert 10 years ago, after seeing woefully underprepared genealogists try to use the 1930 census.

Why, so many of them were waiting in line at the library without basics like tents, Bunsen burners or crossword puzzles. And watching them scroll microfilm without Dramamine—well, it was downright painful.

 
You'll need different supplies for the 1940 census, as this release is entirely digital and you'll be examining the records on a computer.

Under no circumstances should you start your 1940 census research without these nine absolute must-haves:

1. An atomic clock to precisely signal the 9 a.m. ET release of the 1940 census records.



2. Extra batteries for your mouse. Be sure to practice changing them fast, the way they change the tires on race cars. You don't want to lose census time on silly things like dead batteries.

3. A Netflix account for the kids. You can get 99 episodes of Sponge Bob on Netflix. That's 99 half-hours of uninterrupted census work. You can always smarten them back up later with some books or something.

4. A cardboard cutout of yourself to keep your spouse company while you’re spending quality time with your computer. This is the kind thing to do.

5. A hands-free helmet hydration system. No need to pause in your scrolling to pick up a glass of water.

6. Peanut m&ms for sustenance (peanuts = protein).

7. An alarm clock to remind you to eat the m&ms.

8. No-Doze (it's not just for college students anymore). Stock up now before your local drugstore is overrun with census-checking grannies. You don't want to have to knock over those grannies.

9. Vitamin D pills. Let's face it: You're not going to be seeing the sun anytime soon. That's okay, though. Vampires are very "in" these days. You're like a census vampire.

Um, thank you, Ida. I'm sure readers are rushing to the store right now.

Next up, we offer phrases you'll want to memorize in case your boss catches you searching the 1940 census at work.

And visit FamilyTreeMagazine.com for serious tips on finding your ancestors in the 1940 census—including a free video on using Steve Morse's One-Step 1940 ED tool.


census records | Genealogy fun
Thursday, March 22, 2012 8:53:03 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Wednesday, March 21, 2012
FREE Webinar: Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner for Fabulous Family Photos
Posted by Diane

Free Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Webinar

We're hosting a free webinar next Tuesday about one of the most talked-about photo-preservation tools in genealogy: the Flip-Pal mobile scanner.

Presenters Thomas MacEntee and Diane Miller will show you:

  • tips for using Flip-Pal in your genealogy work
  • hints for archiving family photos with Flip-Pal
  • how Flip-Pal can help you share photos with your family
  • how to download the webinar presentation and slides for your future reference

Registered attendees will get access to the webinar to view again as many times as they like (we'll e-mail instructions after the webinar).

Plus, all registrants will receive a special product offer!

The free Flip-Pal webinar is Tuesday, March 27, at 2 p.m. Eastern (1 p.m. Central, noon Mountain, 11 a.m. Pacific).

The presentation is about 45 minutes, plus 10 minutes for Q&A.

Click here to register for our free webinar Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner for Fabulous Family Photos.


Photos | saving and sharing family history | Webinars
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 8:33:39 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Henry Louis Gates Genealogy Show Premieres March 25
Posted by Diane

The new genealogy series Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr. premieres on PBS March 25.

Gates, a Harvard history professor who's hosted previous genealogy shows for PBS including African-American Lives and Faces of America, will explore the roots of 24 well-known Americans including Harry Connick Jr., Barbara Walters, Kevin Bacon, Condoleezza Rice, Sanjay Gupta and Martha Stewart.

Here's the twist that makes this show different: Each episode will feature a pair of celebrities "bound together by an intimate, sometimes hidden link." DNA testing takes over where paper trails leave off.

The staff of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and Johni Cerny, co-author of The Source: Guidebook for American Genealogy, contributed research to the series.

You can watch several clips on the show's website, including this extended preview:

Watch Extended Preview on PBS. See more from Finding Your Roots.


Celebrity Roots | Genetic Genealogy | Videos
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 7:51:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, March 19, 2012
PSA: Don't Let Your 1940 Census Search Get Sidelined
Posted by Diane

The census is coming! The census is coming! To be exact, the 1940 census will be released in 14 days, at 9 a.m. April 2 at 1940census.archives.gov.

We've gone over how to pinpoint your ancestors' 1940 census enumeration district(s) so you can zero in on their record.

Now, as a public service announcement to genealogists, we're carrying this important guest blog post from a noted expert in genealogical medicine regarding the 1940 census and avoiding research-related injury. Take it away, doctor:

Hello, I'm Dr. I.M. Enumerator, N.O.T.M.D. 

Significant clicking, scrolling and dragging will likely be required when you look for your ancestors in the 1940 census.

And unfortunately, too much mousing can lead to a painful condition called 1940 Census Clicker’s Wrist.


Because the 1940 records constitute the first digital census release, we doctors aren't sure what to expect. But those of us familiar with the condition's close relative, 1930 Census Scroller's Elbow, believe it could cause a sore wrist and forearm, stiff "trigger finger" and inability to uncurl the fingers from a computer mouse.

Uncontrolled, 1940 Census Clicker's Wrist could sideline your census search and require professional extraction of the mouse.

But there's no need to suffer. You can avoid the problem if you start this simple, three-step census training program now.**

1. Perform two sets of 10 reps each, twice a day, with one of these:
 

2. Follow with three minutes of stretching.

 

3. Become ambidextrous.  

For optimal census searching speed and performance, remember to taper your training program during the last few days before Census Release Day.

If 1940 Census Clicker’s Wrist should strike you, stop mousing immediately and apply ice.

 Don't let 1940 Census Clicker's Wrist stall your search for ancestors. Start your training program today! 

**Consult your physician before beginning any census training program.

Thank you to the doctor for this crucial information. Next, we'll talk about important supplies to stock up on so you'll be ready on Census Day.



census records | Genealogy fun
Monday, March 19, 2012 3:20:16 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
Essential Census Tips and Facts at Your Fingertips
Posted by Diane

Just in time for the 1940 census hoopla to start, our new Genealogist's Census Pocket Reference puts resources, tips, lists and need-to-know facts for searching all US censuses right at your fingertips, in a handy book that's also very cute (it really does fit in your pocket).

Genealogist's Census Pocket Reference

The Genealogist's Census Pocket Reference includes
  • websites with census records and their coverage

  • questions from each US census, 1790 through 1940

  • maps of the territory covered in each federal census

  • a key to common abbreviations in census records

  • instructions given to enumerators for each census (which affects how they were to record your ancestors' information)

  • US population and immigration trends revealed in census records

  • explanations of special nonpopulation census schedules

  • resources for state and international censuses

The Genealogist's Census Pocket Reference is now available. Learn more about it in ShopFamilyTree.com.


census records | Genealogy books
Monday, March 19, 2012 10:13:52 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, March 16, 2012
Save 50% or More on Genealogy Stuff at ShopFamilyTree.com Now Through Sunday
Posted by Diane

Need a My Family Tree Research Planner?

50 percent off!

Our downloadable guide to tracing immigrant ancestors?

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A 2010 Family Tree Magazine back issues CD (after all, it's text-searchable and takes up a slim quarter-inch of bookshelf space)?

54 percent off!

You're probably getting the gist by now: For the Amazing Deals Sale at ShopFamilyTree.com now through Sunday, lots and lots of genealogy how-to books, print back issues, CDs, article downloads and more are at least 50 percent off.

Click here to see everything included in the sale. Remember, in ShopFamilyTree.com you get free shipping on orders over $25 (and digital downloads count toward the total).


ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Friday, March 16, 2012 10:34:01 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]