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# Tuesday, May 01, 2012
1940 Census Records and Indexes Update
Posted by Diane

Here's the latest on genealogy websites where you can find the 1940 census and which states you can search by an ancestor's name:

Ancestry.com: Record images for all US states and territories are available free, as are searchable name indexes for Delaware, Nevada and Washington, DC. A chart on the 1940 census page lets you see indexing progress.

Archives.com: At this 1940 Census Community Project partner site, you can search name indexes to Colorado and Delaware. To access the unindexed portion of the census, this site sends you to the National Archives' 1940 census site (which Archives.com designed and hosts).

FamilySearch: Digitized records are available here for all US states and territories.

FamilySearch just announced that more than 85,000 1940 Census Community Project volunteers have already finished indexing 20 percent of the census, and thousands more volunteers sign up every week.

Not all the indexed records are available to search online yet. FamilySearch's indexing progress map colors searchable states orange; so far, you can search name indexes for the states of Delaware and Colorado. To search, click the state on the map. (I clicked on Kansas and tried a search because Community Project partner FindMyPast.com has a Kansas index, but the results were people in Colorado.) 

FindMyPast.com: On this 1940 Census Community Project partner site, digitize records are available for most states. Records for Texas, California, Utah, Tennessee, Minnesota, Wisconsin and several others are missing. You can search name indexes for Delaware, Colorado and Kansas—except for Kansas, they're the same states as for FamilySearch, because it's the same index.

MyHeritage: Records for all states and territories are available now for free. This site introduced the first searchable index, for the state of Rhode Island, but hasn't added any other states since. MyHeritage also has updated its mobile app so you can search 1940 census records from your iPhone, iPad or Android phone.

The 1940 census record images also are available on FamilyLink.com, 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.


Ancestry.com | Archives.com | census records | FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, May 01, 2012 4:18:04 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, April 30, 2012
"Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.": Using DNA to Research Ancestors in Slavery
Posted by Diane

Researching enslaved ancestors was the theme of last night's "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr."

All three of the show's guests—Ruth J. Simmons, president of Brown University; Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, and now on the faculty at Stanford University; and actor Samuel L. Jackson—grew up under segregation. Simmons' parents were sharecroppers; as a child she picked cotton alongside her brothers and couldn't attend school regularly until the family moved to Houston.

Condoleeza Rice was the only one of the three I knew much about, and I admire her for achieving such success despite living in a system designed to prevent her from believing that kind of achievement was possible.

All three also have family stories about white ancestors in their family tree, and identifying them was the focus of the episode.

The show showed some research in genealogical records, but concentrated on using genetic genealogy testing in confirming relationships. For each guest, a potential white cousin was tested.

In the case of Simmons, the test confirmed a relationship, and she and her brothers met the descendants of the man who owned the father of their great-grandmother Flossie.

Each guest—along with high school students participating in the Continuum Project—also took an admixture test, which evaluates percentages of African-American, European and Asian/American Indian heritage along either the Y-DNA line (for a man) or the mitochondrial DNA line (for a woman).

Some tests also can compare an African-American's DNA to that of members of African tribes that were the source of the slave trade, estimating what tribe the person's ancestors in that Y-DNA or mtDNA line came from.

You can watch the show online to see all the test results. Also check the Your Genetic Genealogist blog for a post with more details about the DNA testing in this episode.

My sense is that it's not so much which African tribe a person might be from, but just being able to say that they're from a particular tribe. I feel a certain pride and sense of belonging when I can tell people my ancestors came from Germany, Syria, England and Ireland, and that's missing for people descended from slaves.


African-American roots | Celebrity Roots | Genetic Genealogy
Monday, April 30, 2012 11:02:22 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Rob Lowe and His Revolutionary War Ancestor
Posted by Diane

In Friday's "Who Do You Think You Are?" actor Rob Lowe learned about his Revolutionary War-era ancestor.

FindMyPast.com's Josh Taylor helped Lowe find him in the Daughters of the American Revolution Genealogical Research System, which lets you search online for a Revolutionary-era ancestor on which a DAR member's application is based, or for people named in the lineages in DAR applications.

(You can download our tutorial on searching the DAR database on sale for just $1.59 from ShopFamilyTree.com.)

But something was wrong: The application had been "closed" because it was discovered that Lowe's ancestor John Christopher East had been mixed up with a similarly named soldier.

Previews hinted at a twist in this episode. It came when a historian showed Lowe his ancestor on a list of prisoners who'd been part of Rohl's Regiment. A sparkle in the historian's eye hinted that he knew something, but only when he showed Lowe George Washington's personal papers did Lowe realize Rohl was a commander of German Hessian troops.

East (listed under his German name, Oeste Cristophe) was among the troops Gen. Washington defeated in the Battle of Trenton, when his soldiers crossed the Delaware River to surprise the Hessians at Christmas.

I remember learning in grade school about these 30,000 men the British hired to fight the Americans, and we kids thought that was pretty bad.

But Lowe's research revealed Cristophe as a sympathetic figure: Among the youngest of eight children, he wouldn't have inherited land or even had the means to marry in Germany. He took a risk in leaving for America at age 22—then staying (as about 15 percent of the Hessians did) after his release from prison.

This story has a happy ending. Taylor's researchers found Christophe on a list of Americans who paid a tax levied to raise money for the war. Lowe is descended from a Patriot after all and he was invited to apply for the Sons of the American Revolution lineage society.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Genealogy societies | German roots | Social History
Monday, April 30, 2012 9:03:33 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, April 27, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, April 23-27
Posted by Diane

  • Registration is open for the Illinois State Genealogy Society’s (ISGS) Fall Conference, Oct. 19 and 20 in Rockford, Ill. Nine genealogy experts will lead more than 15 workshops on topics such as “Breaking Through Brick Walls” and “Discovering the Real Story of Your Immigrant Ancestors.” Friday will also feature youth workshops. Visit the ISGS website for more details or to register.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Historic preservation | Photos | Social History
Friday, April 27, 2012 2:53:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, April 26, 2012
Access a Library of Genealogy Resources With Family Tree Magazine's New E-Books Site
Posted by Diane


If you love getting your genealogy how-to help and guidance digitally, we've come up with a convenient way for you to access Family Tree Magazine's library of genealogy resources.

It's our new Family Tree Magazine E-Books website. With one subscription, you'll get access to hundreds of genealogy books and magazine articles that can teach you how to research your family tree and get the most out of your genealogy hobby.

The e-books (see the available titles here) cover genealogy, history, heirloom identification, sharing and preserving your family history, and more. You'll also get dozens of information-packed issues of Family Tree Magazine.

Use the library anytime online on your computer. (E-book reader apps for Android and iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch support are coming soon!)

This demo video shows you how the site works and the e-reader's features (you even can bookmark places in the text and take notes, and save your bookmarks and notes).

For $79.99 per year, you'll have an entire online library of genealogy resources full of new tips and tricks for discovering your roots.


Editor's Pick | Genealogy books
Thursday, April 26, 2012 12:24:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
This Friday on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Rob Lowe
Posted by Diane

In the first new "Who Do You Think You Are?" in a few weeks, this Friday's episode has actor Rob Lowe exploring his roots. I've heard whisperings that this is a great episode with some surprising stories.

This promo video sure has a lot of superlatives:

Watch "Who Do You Think You Are?" Friday on NBC at 8 Eastern/7 Central.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:58:13 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
Ancestry.com Acquires Archives.com: Addressing Genealogists' Concerns
Posted by Diane

It's been all over the genealogy news since yesterday that Ancestry.com plans to purchase Archives.com for $100 million.

About 40 employees of Archives.com will become part of Ancestry.com.

Until the acquisition goes through the regulatory approval process, the companies will continue to operate as separate entities. It's unclear how long the process could take.

In a conference call last night with the genealogy media, Archives.com CEO Joe Godfrey and Ancestry.com president Tim Sullivan addressed issues of concern to many family historians.

Here, I've summarized their comments as they relate to some of the questions I've been hearing from genealogists:

Is Ancestry.com just trying to eliminate a competitor?
Archives.com's parent company Inflection is focusing on public records and people-searching (it owns the people-searching website peoplesmart), diverging from Archives.com's historical records mission. Godfrey and Sullivan say this acquisition makes sense for all parties.

Current plans call for Archives.com to remain largely as is. "We see a different experience in Archives.com. It's priced and positioned differently [from Ancestry.com]. It's another important service that we can continue to invest in," Sullivan says. He vows to invest in Archives.com's content and technology.

The acquisition gives Ancestry.com the opportunity to offer a genealogy product at a lower price point (Archives.com subscribers pay $39.95 a year, to Ancestry.com's $155.40).

Nor is the acquisition a response to the entry into the US genealogy market of companies such as brightsolid (owner of findmypast.com) and MyHeritage, Sullivan says. He emphasized a positive view of the genealogy category's growth and the increase in competition, saying it's an indication of the health of the category.

Sullivan says Ancestry.com may work with Inflection in the future, describing the potential opportunity as "tremendous."

Will the sites be too similar?
Sullivan and Godfrey say there's some overlapping content on Archives.com and Ancestry.com, but that how the user experiences each site's content is different and will remain so. "One thing we won't do is make Archives.com like the Ancestry.com user experience," Sullivan says.

"Even though some content might overlap, the way it is presented will have different value propositions to different users," Godfrey adds.

What will happen with the 1940 Census Community Project?
The project, whose partners FamilySearch, Archives.com and FindMyPast.com are recruiting volunteers to index the 1940 census, won't be affected, say both men.

Godfrey encouraged volunteers to continue indexing. "Nothing will change as far as the partnership, and nothing will change as far as making the index available for free," he says.

Sullivan says that when FamilySearch was seeking partners in this volunteer indexing project, Ancestry.com leadership discussed it at length and ultimately decided that "it wasn't structured in a way that completely was in sync with what we wanted to do with 1940."

He added that Ancestry.com would support Archives.com's participation in the project.

Does this form a monopoly?
They couldn't elaborate on the regulatory approval process for the acquisition, but neither Sullivan nor Godfrey foresees problems. "We're doing this for the right reasons. There's no negative for consumers," Sullivan says.


Ancestry.com | Archives.com | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:51:05 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Ancestry.com to Acquire Archives.com
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site Ancestry.com just announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire competitor Archives.com for approximately $100 million in cash and assumed liabilities.

Archives.com is owned and operated by Inflection LLC, a Silicon Valley-based technology company.

Since Archives.com’s launch in January 2010 (before that, the site was called Genealogy Archives), the site has grown to more than 380,000 paying subscribers who pay approximately $39.95 a year. Archives.com offers access to more than 2.1 billion historical records, including birth records, obituaries, immigration and passenger lists, historical newspapers, and US and UK censuses.

Inflection secured the contract with the National Archives to design and host the archives' website for the 1940 census records, released April 2. Archives.com also is a partner in the 1940 Census Community project, which has FamilySearch volunteers indexing the 1940 census. Ancestry.com is using a paid contractor to create its own 1940 census index. I'm curious to see what happens with this.

From Ancestry.com's press release: "This transaction will enable Ancestry.com to add a differentiated service targeted to a complementary segment of the growing family history category. In addition, Ancestry.com will welcome a team of talented engineers, digital marketers, and family history innovators into the Ancestry.com fold and also gain access to a proprietary technology platform that has supported Archives.com’s rapid growth."

Upon completion of the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, including expiration of the HSR waiting period, Ancestry.com will continue to operate Archives.com separately retaining its brand and website. Many Inflection employees are expected to join the Ancestry.com team.

We'll bring you more on this story as it develops.


Ancestry.com | Archives.com | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 4:40:07 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Tuesday, April 24, 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.

2.
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.

3.
Ask about local resources we’ve used to research our own Cincinnati ancestors.

4.
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.

6.
Pick up favorites such as our Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD, Family Tree Magazine 2011 Annual CD, My Family History Research Planner and more.

7.
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).

8.
Drop your name in our fabulous door prize drawing.

9.
Take advantage of show specials for Family Tree Magazine subscriptions and renewals.

10.
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, April 24, 2012 4:32:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, April 23, 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 PBS.org.

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, April 23, 2012 3:30:02 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9]