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Friday, May 25, 2012
Crash Course in Wisconsin Genealogy
Posted by Diane
Do you have ancestors in Wisconsin? Then get ready to rev up your
genealogy research with our Wisconsin
Genealogy Crash Course webinar next Wednesday, May 30, at 8
p.m. ET (that's 7 CT, 6 MT, 5 PT).
In this webinar sneak peek, presenter Lori B. Bessler, reference
librarian at the resource-rich Wisconsin Historical Society, gives
you the lowdown on US and state census records for Wisconsin, as
well as vital records availability.
You can register
for the Wisconsin Genealogy Crash Course in ShopFamilyTree.com.
up today to save $10!)
Editor's Pick | Research Tips | Videos | Webinars
Friday, May 25, 2012 2:07:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Genealogy News Corral, May 21-25
Posted by Diane
- Ancestry.com updated its collection of
U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls. This
collection, which contains records from 1798 to 1958, now contains
more than 39 million records. They include muster rolls (regular
lists of those present in a given unit),
unit diaries and personnel rosters.
The National Archives at San Francisco has officially opened to the
public more than 40,000 Alien
Files or A-Files on immigrants to the United States. The case
files were originally created at immigration offices in San
Francisco; Honolulu; Reno, Nevada; Agana, Guam; American Samoa and
other US territories. The records were transferred to
the National Archives from US Citizenship and Immigration Services
in 2009. Millions more A-files will eventually be opened to
the public—the files are closed for 100 years after the birth date
of the person named in the records.
created at other immigration offices are kept at the National
Archives facility in Kansas City, where 300,000 cases were opened to
the public in 2010.
A DNA study of Melungeons—a dark-skinned, mixed-heritage group historically residing in
Appalachia—has found genetic evidence that
these families descend from sub-Saharan
African men and white women of northern or central European
origin. Researchers think the population mixing could have
happened among black and white indentured servants in mid-1600s
to an Associated Press article, the finding has been
controversial among Melungeons, some of whom believe they have
Portuguese or American Indian ancestry. Read
more about the findings (and how researchers thinks the claims of Portuguese
heritage arose) in this news article.
Ancestry.com | Genetic Genealogy | immigration records | Military records | NARA
Friday, May 25, 2012 1:21:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Canadian Genealogy for Americans
Posted by Diane
Has your genealogy research led you to ancestors in Canada? That's not
surprising—folks have been crossing the US-Canadian border for a
loooong time. Consider:
After the American Revolution, around 35,000 Loyalists headed for Canada's Maritime Provinces.
- By 1812, about 80 percent of the estimated 100,000
settlers in southern Ontario province were of American origin.
- Approximately 900,000 French-Canadians emigrated to the United
States from 1840 to 1930.
As available US land diminished in the late 1880s, Canada's
Prairie Provinces saw a massive influx of Americans.
- Around 1895, when US border-crossing records begin, as many as
40 percent of immigrants to Canada planned to end up in the
- In 1897, the Klondike Gold Rush spurred a stampede of Americans
to the Yukon.
Fortunately for US residents tracing Canadian ancestors, an
abundance of resources is available—but where do you
Why, with our next webinar, Canadian
Genealogy for Americans.
Author and lecturer Lisa A. Alzo will introduce you to major
Canadian genealogy resources and websites, key record groups and
essential history. You'll also receive our digital Canadian Genealogy Guide when you register.
Here are the Canadian
Genealogy for Americans webinar details:
- Tuesday, June 5, 2012
- 8 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain, 5 p.m.
- Duration: 60 minutes
- $49.99 (but register
now to save $10!)
includes: participation in the live event, access to the
recording to watch again as often as you like, a PDF of the
presentation slides, our Canadian Genealogy Guide
Genealogy for Americans webinar will enable you to formulate
a solid research plan for discovering your Canadian kin. Register
Canadian roots | French Canadian roots | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 1:28:05 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Call for Pictures of Ancestors! You Could Win Our Family Photo Detective Book!
Posted by Diane
Would you like to win a copy of our forthcoming book Family Photo Detective: Learn How to
Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo
Mysteries, and see your ancestors' faces in Family Tree Magazine?
Send us your favorite old family photo by Monday, June 4, and you
could be the big winner (your photos may even appear in the book). Here's what the outside of the book looks like:
Inside Family Photo Detective, historical photography and
genealogy expert Maureen A. Taylor will show you how to add names
and stories to the faces in your old family photos. You'll learn how
to use the clues in clothing, hairstyles, background and
photographer's marks to identify when and where old photographs were
taken. Case studies will show you how to apply photo-identification
techniques to your family photos and combine photo evidence with
your research in historical records.
The book will include a timeline of photography methods and
styles, a decade-by-decade overview of fashion trends for men and
women, and worksheets to record discoveries about family photos.
To send us your photo, e-mail
it to us or post it to our
Facebook page by Monday, June 4.
Note that by submitting your photo, you affirm that you are the
owner of the image and it is not subject to copyright by any other
party. You also grant Family Tree Magazine permission to
crop the digital image as necessary for publication, and to use the
image in any and all print and electronic media.
Questions? Comment here or e-mail
Genealogy books | Photos
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 2:42:34 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Exploring Hispanic Heritage on PBS' "Finding Your Roots"
Posted by Diane
Sunday's season finale of "Finding Your
Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr." on PBS focused on the
Hispanic genealogy of political analyst Linda Chavez and actors Michelle
Rodriguez and Adrian Grenier.
The trio shares Hispanic heritage, but each thought of him- or
- Chavez considered herself of mixed European heritage. She had
roots in Spain's New World colonies going all the way
back to the 1590s, when an ancestor sailed to Mexico. In a
surprise discovery, she learned many of her family were "conversos,"
Jews forced to convert to Catholicism, many of whom continued to
practice Judaism in private. A large number of conversos left Spain during
Her grandmother's custom of turning a religious statue to face
the wall hinted at the surprise—you
can read more about this custom in Chavez' essay here.
- Grenier, who'd always identified with American Indian roots
because of a story in his mother's family, discovered he had a
conquistador ancestor in Don
Juan de Oñate
's army (kind of the opposite of having American Indian roots).
Grenier seemed shaken when his connection to American Indian
heritage was in question, but Gates' team did find a 1663
record at the New
Mexico state archives identifying an ancestor as "Indio."
So he does have American Indian roots, just further back
than he'd believed. I wonder if he'll still identify
himself as being American Indian?
- Rodriguez is Puerto Rican through her father and Dominican
through her mother. Gates described her tree as a "tangled web," provoking a hilarious reaction from Rodriguez.
Her father's family intermarried repeatedly, likely in an effort
to preserve "pure" bloodlines. Three of her
third-great-grandfathers were brothers, and her
great-grandparents were first cousins.
Her surprise came on a
trip to the Dominican Republic to learn more about her mom's
family from a great-aunt. The aunt's parents—Rodriguez's
great-grandparents—weren't married, it turns out. Her
great-grandfather had a legal wife, and the two women raised the
As in other episodes, DNA tests revealed guests' percentages
of maternal ancestry from various parts of the world. You can read
more about the tests and each person's results on the Your
Genetic Genealogist blog.
Also as before, Gates emphasized that mixing between ancestral
groups or "races"—in this case, colonial Spanish and American
Indian peoples—was common. This is part of what makes the
definition of American really pretty broad.
Good news: From Lisa
Louise Cooke's interview with Gates in her Genealogy Gems
Podcast, it sounds like a second season is already in
Watch the full episode on the "Finding Your Roots" website.
Celebrity Roots | Hispanic Roots
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 9:25:11 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, May 21, 2012
Friday on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Paula Deen
Posted by Diane
On Friday's final episode of the NBC
genealogy show "Who Do You Think You Are?" TV chef Paula Deen crisscrossed the
state of Georgia tracing her maternal roots.
Deen's parents died when she was a
young woman, so not much family information had made its way to
her. The show focused on her third-great-grandfather
John Batts, a slaveowning planter and member of the Georgia
legislature from 1857 to 1860.
Batts' son William (brother to Deen's great-great-grandmother Eliza Batts) fought for the
confederates in the 12th Georgia regiment during the Civil War.
The Georgia Archives actually had letters he'd written home,
as well as letters from his commanding officer. These missives gave Deen an
intimate view into William's experiences and his family's reaction
after he was killed in action.
At Fold3—the first time I can remember
this subscription site being shown on WDYTYA?—Deen finds John
Batts' application for a pardon from the US government. Most of the
South was covered by President
Andrew Johnson's blanket pardon, but wealthy planters like
Batts had to swear loyalty and provide documentation they'd freed
Tax records at Emory University show
John Batts' fate. Things went downhill for the family after an economic depression in 1873.
Deen and a researcher note declining values of John's personal
and real estate until 1879, when the records show all zeros. A
newspaper article reveals that John, sadly, had committed suicide.
Do You Think You Are?" won't be returning next season, GeneaBloggers
reports that for the first time this season, the episode
came in first for viewership in its time slot and was the
third-most-watched show for the evening.
These two short videos show research not included in Friday's episode, about Deen's
fifth-great-grandfather Joel Walker, an early Georgia settler in
the Savannah area.
can watch the full episode about Paula Deen's family history
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | Fold3
Monday, May 21, 2012 9:27:01 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, May 18, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, May 14-18
Posted by Diane
- Subscription genealogy site Ancestry.com announced that its 1940 census index for the state of Maine is now searchable free on the site. The site also has 1940 census indexes for Delaware, the District of Columbia and Nevada.
- In addition to its six state indexes for the 1940 census (Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia), the free FamilySearch.org has added online records for Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United States, Venezuela and Wales.
US records come from Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. You can see all the new or updated collections and link to them here.
- The Southern California Genealogy Jamboree is coming up June 8-10 at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel. Besides the classes and the free exhibit hall, highlights include one-on-one consultations with members of the Southern California Chapter of the Association for Professional Genealogists, three-hour Genealogy World roundtable discussions and a DNA Interest Group that can help you interpret genetic genealogy test results.
- The National Genealogical Society (NGS) has announced that the 2013 NGS Family History Conference, will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 8–11. The conference hotel and venue will be the LVH−Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton). Online conference registration isn't yet open.
Ancestry.com | census records | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Friday, May 18, 2012 3:46:00 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Your Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com Webinar
Posted by Diane
So you've got an Ancestry.com
subscription, but you have a nagging suspicion that you're not
getting your money's worth. You might still be missing that
breakthrough genealogy record, or you could be frustrated by the sea
of search results you get—some clearly not even close to being
Or maybe you're thinking about investing in an Ancestry.com
subscription and wondering if it'll be worth it.
Our May 23 webinar will answer your questions and help you get the
most out of your Ancestry.com membership. It's called Your
Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com: Tips, Hints and Hacks for
Finding Your Ancestors. (Family Tree Magazine isn't affiliated
with Ancestry.com, so this webinar won't be a commercial.)
The webinar will cover:
- How to efficiently navigate Ancestry.com
- Tricks for finding the record collections you need
- Search tips for locating hard-to-find ancestors in
- Things Ancestry.com doesn’t tell you (like the
limitations of its collections and how many freebies are on the
The Your Unofficial
Guide to Ancestry.com webinar takes place May 23 at 8 p.m.
Eastern (that's 7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain and 5 p.m.
Pacific). It's presented by David A. Fryxell, a veteran
genealogist and a Family Tree
Magazine contributing editor.
We'll help you start finding the genealogy answers you need in
the world's largest genealogy database website. Register for Your
Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com now to take advantage of
our $10 off early bird special!
Ancestry.com | Editor's Pick | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Thursday, May 17, 2012 9:27:09 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
This Weekend's Genealogy TV Season Finales
Posted by Diane
This week's season finale of "Who Do You
Think You Are?" is
also the series finale, at least on NBC. In the show, chef Paula Deen learns about
her family history in the Deep South. She discovers a senator, slave owners
and family letters. Here's a short preview:
Watch the show at 8 p.m. ET/7 CT on NBC.
Sunday at 8 p.m. on PBS' "Finding Your
Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr." actors Michelle
Rodriguez and Adrian
Grenier and author/journalist Linda
Chavez explore their Latino roots. All share Spanish
colonial roots, yet they self-identify differently differently: as
American Indian, Puerto Rican, Dominican or simply Latino.
Here's a video preview of Rodriguez's discoveries.
Watch Michelle Rodriguez's Puerto Rican Roots on PBS. See more from Finding Your Roots.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Videos
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 1:06:56 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act: Genealogy Resources for Land Records
Posted by Diane
homestead act post
Were your ancestors among the millions who claimed federal lands
under the Homestead Act of 1862?
We're coming up on the 150th
anniversary of this groundbreaking (pun intended) legislation that
accelerated the country's westward expansion. Look for opportunities
to learn more about your homesteading ancestors.
President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law on May 20, 1862. Beginning Jan. 1, 1863, a homesteader could receive up to
160 acres of public domain land by applying for a claim (which
required a filing fee), improving the land, living on it for five
years, and then filing for a patent.
Anyone who was 21 or older or the head of a family—women, immigrants and freed slaves
included—who'd never taken up arms against the US government could
file an application to claim land.
The first person to claim land under the act was Union Army scout
Daniel Freeman on Jan. 1, 1863. The story is he'd met some officials of the local
land office at a New Year's Eve party and convinced them to open the
office shortly after midnight so he could file his claim before
reporting for duty.
Homesteading ended in 1976 in most of the United States and 1986 in
Alaska. The last claimant under the act applied for
80 acres on Alaska's Stony River and received his deed until 1988.
Only about 40 percent of those who ever filed completed the
application process and received land titles. More than 2
million homesteads were granted, according
to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Between 1862 and 1934, 10 percent of land in the
United States was privatized under the act.
Use these links to research your ancestor's
Land Office Records Online
The BLM's General Land Office (GLO) was charged with overseeing the
homestead application process. It's free to search for and view more
than 5 million federal land patents issued since 1820. (If your
ancestor applied for a homestead but never received title to his or
her land, there won't be a record here.) You'll also find a
reference center with a land records glossary, FAQ and more.
This free FamilyTreeMagazine.com article has tips for using the GLO
online records website.
Fold3 is digitizing the National Archives' homestead records for
Nebraska. You can search the collection, which is 39 percent
complete, for free. The files, from the Records of the Bureau of
Land Management, consist of final certificates, applications with
land descriptions, affidavits showing proof of citizenship and more.
And here's a video about the homestead records digitization project.
National Monument of America
This national monument near Beatrice, Neb., explains the
Homestead Act and its impact on the United States. Click the
History and Culture link to learn more about the act, see its text,
view maps, "meet" well-known homesteaders and more.
Commemorating 150 Years of The Homestead Act
This BLM site has a Homestead Act timeline; videos about historic
homesteads, building a frontier home and more; and a Q&A.
Archives: Ingalls Homestead Records
This article from the National Archives' Prologue magazine (Winter 2003 issue) discusses my
favorite homesteaders—the Ingallses and Wilders of Little
House on the Prairie fame—and shows portions of the families'
Family Tree Magazine
resources to help you research your ancestors' land records (whether
federal records such as land entry case files or local records
such as deeds) include:
Fold3 | Genealogy Web Sites | Land records | NARA | Research Tips
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 10:36:46 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)