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<2012 April>

More Links

# Tuesday, 24 April 2012
10 Reasons to Visit Family Tree Magazine at the NGS Conference!
Posted by Diane

We at Family Tree Magazine are super-excited our Cincinnati hometown will be the center of so much family history enthusiasm at the National Genealogical Society 2012 conference.

Here are 10 reasons to visit us in exhibit hall booth 432:

1. Ask what goetta is (hint: you might find it on a menu). Or you could cheat and read this blog post.

Pick up a free copy of the May/June 2012 Family Tree Magazine featuring our Cincinnati research guide plus our complete 1940 census guide, Greek genealogy primer, guide to tracing Jewish ancestors, and more.

Ask about local resources we’ve used to research our own Cincinnati ancestors.

Meet the author of My Life & Times: A Guided Journal for Collecting Your Stories, Sunny Jane Morton, Friday, May 11, 2 to 3 p.m.

5. Browse our newest family history books including the Genealogist's Census Pocket Reference, Discover Your Family History Online, From the Family Kitchen and Family History Detective.

Pick up favorites such as our Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD, Family Tree Magazine 2011 Annual CD, My Family History Research Planner and more.

See what we have for helping you trace German ancestors (Germans were about 60 percent of Cincinnati's population by 1900) and African-American Ancestors (Cincinnati was a Great Migration destination in the 1900s).

Drop your name in our fabulous door prize drawing.

Take advantage of show specials for Family Tree Magazine subscriptions and renewals.

Ask for directions to our excellent Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County or the nearest place to sample Cincinnati chili.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy books | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Tuesday, 24 April 2012 16:32:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 23 April 2012
"Finding Your Roots": Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.
Posted by Diane

Last night on PBS' "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr." actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. learned about their families' histories.

You can watch the episode online at

Though not related, the two had a lot in common: Both were expectig baby No. 2 at the time of filming, both have parents in the film industry, both have Eastern European Jewish roots on one side of the family, and both also have ancestors in America before the Revolutionary War.

Gates' team could trace the Jewish roots only to the third-great-grandparent generation, but for each actor's other branches, Gates unrolled an enviably long family tree with many generations. (See closeups on the Genea-Musings blog.)

Gyllenhaal learned how her family really got its last name. The story was that a Swedish ancestor created a beautiful book about butterflies and the king rewarded him with a wonderful home known as "Golden Hall." What really happened was that an ancestor took the name after being knighted during the Thirty Years' War.

But like many family stories, there was a grain of truth. Another relative had amassed a collection of beetles that later became world-renowned.

Each star also took a DNA test, and Gates prompted them to compare the roles of nature versus nurture in making up their being. My favorite question of the night was when he asked Downey "Do you think that what happened in your family tree between 1300 and 1965 [the year of Downey's birth] has shaped who you are?"

I do believe that our ancestors' successes and struggles affect the next generation, that each of us can't help but carry these experiences inside us. Genealogy is partly a way of figuring out what's in there.

BTW, in the July/August 2012 Family Tree Magazine, we'll have Gates' answers to five of our burning questions about his genealogy work.

Related resources from Family Tree Magazine:

Celebrity Roots | Videos
Monday, 23 April 2012 15:30:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9]
# Friday, 20 April 2012
Genealogy News Corral, April 16-20
Posted by Diane

  • Military records subscription site Fold3 has added records relating to the Sultana disaster. That's the steamboat whose boilers exploded April 27, 1865, killing 1,700 (mostly Civil War Union soldiers recently released from Confederate POW camps). The ship was carrying 2,200 passengers—far more than the 376 she was built for. Records include lists of former prisoners who survived and those who died. The records are free to search, at least for the time being.

  • The Center for Jewish History (CJH) has announced a partnership with Jewish genealogy expert Miriam Weiner's Routes to Roots Foundation (RTRF). CJH will incorporate RTRF’s Eastern European Archival Database and Image Database into its online catalog, expanding access to genealogy resources from Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. Weiner will serve as senior advisor for genealogy services at CJH's Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute.

  • Besides adding 1940 census records and coordinatng the 1940 Census Community Project, FamilySearch has continued adding other records to the free The new resources include seignorial records from the Czech Republic; city records from Nördlingen, Bavaria, Germany; church records from Estonia, Portugal and Slovakia; and marriages from New Jersey. See the updated colelctions and click through to them here.

  • Remember to watch "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr." this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on PBS, which will feature actors Robert Downey Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The European-immigrant stories in both stars' pasts are common to many Americans.

  • NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" tonight will repeat the popular Reba McEntire episode. Next Friday will be an all-new episode featuring actor Rob Lowe.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | FamilySearch | Fold3 | Jewish roots
Friday, 20 April 2012 12:41:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, 19 April 2012
Genealogists Won't Go Hungry in Minnesota
Posted by Diane

When I heard Minnesota described as a "meaty" state for genealogy research, I couldn't resist asking local expert Paula Stuart-Warren for sneak peeks at what she'll cover in our upcoming Minnesota Genealogy Crash Course webinar.

Here's what Paula sent:

  • Your ancestor wasn't a U.S. citizen in 1918? There might be a two-page Minnesota record with his her name, date and place of birth, residence, occupation, names of children and relatives, arrival in the United States and more. And it's indexed.

  • How many avenues are there to locate a birth, death or marriage record? We'll count the multiple ways.

  • Military service from Minnesota? You'll learn about the state's special questionnaires and bonus applications for the 19th and 20th century.

  • Need a wedding story, business ad, obituary, or other newspaper item? Learn the best place to obtain these.

  • Census indexes? Are there more for Minnesota than other states? Hmmm...

  • What's the largest ethnic group in Minnesota? (It might not be the one that immediately springs to mind.)

  • Are there really 10,000 lakes?

  • What do genealogy, baseball, Prairie Home Companion, the Minnesota State Fair, WCCO Radio, and the Lennon sisters all have in common?

Well, now I'm getting really curious! The Minnesota Genealogy Crash Course webinar with Paula Stuart-Warren is next Wednesday, April 25, at 8 p.m. (now available On Demand!)

Find out more about the Minnesota Genealogy Crash Course here.

Editor's Pick | Webinars
Thursday, 19 April 2012 11:17:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Digitized Lutheran Church Records Coming Soon to
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy website has formed a partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to digitize and index 1,000 reels of the church's microfilm containing millions of the church's baptism, confirmation, marriage, and funeral records.

The parish register ledger books document Lutheran congregations throughout the United States from 1793 to 1940.

The records will become available at later this year. I'm crossing my fingers it'll be in time for our guide to genealogy research in Lutheran records, which will be in the July/August 2012 Family Tree Magazine.

The guide is part of our new religious records series, which so far has covered Catholic (in the March/April 2012 Family Tree Magazine) and Jewish (in the May/June 2012 Family Tree Magazine) genealogy research.

See the full announcement about Lutheran records on here. | Church records
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 15:13:56 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Researching Genealogy in Land Records
Posted by Diane

Researching your genealogy using land records—deeds, patents, plats, etc.—is often considered advanced. But a genealogist of any level can find an ancestor's land records using the help in our Family Tree Land Records Research Value Pack.

The tools in this collection include:
  • Land Records 101 Family Tree University Independent Study Course download: Master the basics of US land records research, including what documents to look for and where to find them, online and offline

  • Platting Metes and Bounds Properties on-demand video class: If your ancestor's property was surveyed under the metes and bounds system, land records describe it in terms of trees, rocks, fenceposts, streams and roads along the boundaries. This lesson will help you make sense of those descriptions and map out what the property looked like.

  • Platting Rectangular Survey System Properties on-demand video class: Learn how to plat ancestral properties surveyed using the rectangular survey system, also known as the public land survey system.

  • Using Land Records article download: Our guide to land records explains land records from early headrights to claims under the Homestead Act. You'll also learn about property deeds and "dower rights," which can be informative about female ancestors.
The Family Tree Land Records Research Value Pack is deeply discounted this month only: just $49.99! (You'd pay $163.97 to buy each tool individually.)
Click here to get this deal.

Land records | Sales
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 11:02:51 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, 17 April 2012
1940 Census Records and Indexes Update
Posted by Diane

Now that sites have completed their 1940 US census image collections and are working on indexing the records, census news is coming more slowly. Here's where to find 1940 census records and the indexes that are available so far:
  • Record images for all US states and territories are available free, as are searchable name indexes for Delaware and Nevada. An index for Washington, DC, is "in process." A chart on the 1940 census page lets you see indexing progress.
  • FamilySearch: Digitized records are available here for all US states and territories.

The name index for the state of Delaware is now completed and available to researchers. Search Delaware here.

You can use the map at FamilySearch's 1940 census site to see the indexing progress of the 1940 Census Community Project. The darker the state, the more records volunteers have indexed. The completed indexes will become searchable free on FamilySearch, as well as its commercial partners and

The 1940 census record images also are available on, which MyHeritage purchased last year. You'll need to register for a free account on the site (if you don't already have an account there) to view the records.

  • National Archives: Records for all states and territories are available here for free.
P.S. The Ancestry Insider blog has a good comparison of the census record image viewers on the four sites listed above. It might help you decide which site to use for your 1940 ancestor search. | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | NARA
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 16:35:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 16 April 2012
Tips From My First Courthouse Research
Posted by Diane

This post would be more exciting if my courthouse research last week (right before I womanned our Family Tree Magazine booth at the Ohio Genealogical Society conference in Cleveland) had panned out.

But it was kind of a bust, genealogically speaking—no new information and some red tape.

I did learn a few things about courthouse research, though. If that’s what’s on your genealogy to-do list, these tips might help:

1. Ask a local. Cleveland genealogist and Family Tree University instructor Diana Crisman Smith gave me the lowdown on the Cuyahoga County courthouse, parking and other details. If you don't know someone knowledgeable about the place you’re headed, see if the local genealogical society has an online message board.

2. Have backup parking plans. The parking garage was full, so I drove around downtown and finally snagged the last space in a surface lot. Smaller towns might not have the same issues.

3. Be as prepared as possible. The Cuyahoga County probate court has an online docket you can search to find the case file numbers you need.

Other ways to be prepared: Call ahead and make sure there isn't a furlough day or special holiday on the day you plan to go. See if there are any restrictions on what you can bring (such as pens or backpacks). Bring cash for parking, copy fees and other expenses.

3. Don't be afraid to ask. I'm sure things work differently in every courthouse, but there was a procedure here. And there was no hand-holding, so I had to ask. I was told to write the case number on a request card for a clerk to retrieve the file. But for my relatively recent probate files (1980s and 90s), I was to use the computers to get microfilm numbers, then pull the film.

I thought all the microfilm readers were equally bad, but I should have asked about that too—a clerk walked by and showed me a better reader. Because the computerized docket didn't extend back as far as my great-grandfather's death, I had to ask about any earlier files, too (and unfortunately, I found out the court didn’t have anything for him).

4. Keep a smile on your face. Even if you think you’re bugging someone with your questions, a smile increases your chances of getting the help you need (as does a succinctly worded question).

5. Bring a camera. There was no place to photocopy the microfilmed records, so I photographed the reader’s screen with my cell phone.

I don't have a tip for this situation: The file I most wanted to look for, a 1924 commitment hearing for my great-grandmother to the Cleveland State Hospital, was confidential—if it exists. Disappointing.

I politely asked enough questions (is it possible to request a search just to see if there’s a file? how long are the records closed? what's the law declaring them closed? what's the procedure for having a file opened?) that I got to speak with a magistrate. He complimented my interest in genealogy, asked about my family history, and said that if the record exists—and chances are slim—the only way to have it opened would be a change in the law.

In the excellent book Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret, journalist Steve Luxenberg describes his quest to uncover 1940s-era institutional records in Michigan for an aunt he’d only recently learned he had. I don't think I want to let this drop quite yet, but I'm also not sure I'm ready for a struggle like Luxenberg's. I'll dig a little and maybe be able to offer tips in the future.

Get Family Tree Magazine's guide to courthouse research, a $4 download, from

court records
Monday, 16 April 2012 13:51:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, 12 April 2012
Free WWII, French Canadian Records
Posted by Diane

Free access is coming to two records collections:

The Fold3 (formerly Footnote) World War II Collection is free through April 30. Records include Old Man's Draft Registrations (so-called because men ages 43 to 62 had to register), Missing Air Crew Reports, European Theater Army Reports, photos and more., the Canadian sister site to, is offering free access to French Canadian records from April 17 through 22. Collections include the Drouin database of 37 million names in baptism, marriage and burial recordsfrom Quebec; the Tanguay collection on French-Canadian families; plus church records from Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New England.

Thursday, 12 April 2012 16:11:09 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 10 April 2012
1940 Census Update
Posted by Diane

  • Record images for all US states and territories are available free, as are searchable name indexes for Delaware and Nevada. An index for Washington, DC, is coming soon.
  • FamilySearch: Available record images are Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington

You can use the map at FamilySearch's 1940 census site to see the indexing progress of the 1940 Census Community Project. The darker the state, the more records volunteers have indexed. The completed indexes will become searchable free on FamilySearch, as well as its commercial partners and

The 1940 census record images also are available on, which MyHeritage purchased last year. You'll need to register for a free account on the site (if you don't already have an account there) to view the records.

  • National Archives: Records for all states and territories are available here for free. | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | NARA
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 16:39:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]