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<2012 August>

More Links

# Thursday, 02 August 2012
Scanning Old Family Photos With Flip-Pal
Posted by Diane

Now that we're carrying the Flip-Pal mobile scanner in, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so I gave it a try on one of my favorite pictures: My great-grandparents on their porch in Bellevue, Ky., about 1925, judging from my grandma's age (she's the baby).

The scanner is nice and light, about the size of a book, and it runs on four AA batteries. The scanning window is smaller than a desktop scanner, 4x6 inches, so you need to scan a larger document in parts and then stitch them together. (The scanner comes with Easy-Stitch software to do this.)

You can scan at a resolution of 300 or 600 dpi. 300 is the lowest recommended dpi for images you want to digitally archive, and will allow you to make a good print that's the same size as the original photo. 600 dpi is even better, because you can enlarge the photo before printing it.

I tried the Sketch Kit, sold separately from the scanner, which lets you annotate photos and documents in a low-tech way. It's a clear acrylic panel you place over your picture and write on with an erasable marker, like so:

Then to scan the annotated photo, you pop out the Flip-Pal lid, flip the scanner over and press the big green button to scan the Sketch panel on top of your picture:

(I kept accidentally pressing the green button during the lid removal and flipping.) Here's that scan:

You'll also want the photo itself, minus the Sketch panel. For that, you pop the lid back in and place the picture face down on the scanner, as you would for a desktop scanner. The scan:

The images are saved onto an SD card. I discovered just this morning that my computer here at work has an SD card reader—perfect. (The scanner is also compatible with wireless Eye-fi SD cards.) If you don't have a card reader, you can plug the card into the included SD-to-USB adaptor and stick that into your computer's USB drive.

You can see technical specs for the Flip-Pal scanner here and FAQs here. I did these two quick scans without reading instructions, but I'll check them out to learn more about the scanner settings and how to use the stitching software.

You can find the Flip-Pal scanner and accessories such as the Sketch Kit  and a carrying case in If you're trying to decide whether to buy, we've also got a Flip-Pal product review article download.

Got a bunch of family photos and heirlooms you need to archive and share? Learn how in our Aug. 9 Digitize Your Family History webinar.

Editor's Pick | Photos | saving and sharing family history | Webinars
Thursday, 02 August 2012 13:02:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [12]
# Tuesday, 31 July 2012
President Obama Related to American Colonies' First Documented African Slave
Posted by Diane researchers have linked the United States' first black president to the earliest documented African permanent slave in America.

Historical evidence indicates Barack Obama is the 11th great-grandson of African slave John Punch. The connection is through the family of Obama's Caucasian mother—which isn't surprising, as Obama's father, who died in 1982, was from Kenya.

(Update: After reading comments to this post, I'd like to clarify my above statement: Obama's paternal line came from Kenya and its members were not enslaved in the United States.)

What does surprise me is that the slave ancestor is male: Genealogists with African-American roots have become accustomed to learning of male white slaveowners who fathered children with enslaved women in their family trees, but not so much the other way around. researchers used DNA analysis and property and marriage records to find an African indentured servant named John Punch, who attempted to escape his servitude in 1640 in Maryland. His court-ordered punishment was a life sentence as a slave. This is the first documented case of slavery for life in the American colonies, decades before slavery laws were enacted in Virginia.

Punch eventually fathered children with a white woman, whose children inherited her free status and became landowners in Virginia. Their son John Bunch is Obama's ancestor.

You can learn details about the research documents and conclusions on, where you can download a 44-page report by researchers Anastasia Harman, Natalie Cotrill and Joseph Shumway; a 51-page Bunch family descendancy report; and a family tree. was careful to back up its claims with an independent review from researcher Elizabeth Shown Mills, an expert well-known in genealogical circles, who says, “I weighed not only the actual findings but also Virginia’s laws and social attitudes when John Punch was living. A careful consideration of the evidence convinces me that the Y-DNA evidence of African origin is indisputable, and the surviving paper trail points solely to John Punch as the logical candidate.

"Genealogical research on individuals who lived hundreds of years ago can never definitively prove that one man fathered another, but this research meets the highest standards and can be offered with confidence.”

Although the Obama research project has been underway for years, I imagine we'll see more on the 2012 presidential candidates' family trees this year as genealogy companies try to capitalize on election-related publicity opportunities.

Update: You also might want to read this article from The Root, by two Boston University professors who dispute John punch's status as the first documented permanent African slave.

Are you tracing African-American genealogy? Get research help from the expert how-to books, article downloads and classes available in

African-American roots | | Celebrity Roots
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 14:43:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Friday, 27 July 2012
Genealogy News Corral, July 23-27
Posted by Diane

  • I wanted to point you to the Ancestry Insider's interesting post about indexing errors on 1940 census websites. The Ancestry Insider has seen more user complaints about's index than FamilySearch's, and I'd have to echo that observation (mostly in blog comments and on Facebook). His post includes's answers to questions about its indexing and auditing processes, and the index augmentation that helps users find records despite indexing difficulties.  
  • This fall, the National Archives will open its new New York City location in Lower Manhattan, in the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House at One Bowling Green (the former facility was on Varick Street in Greenwich Village). The new location will expand the facilitiy's usefulness for research and education, with a welcome center, research center, learning center for school groups, exhibition space and public programs area. Read more about the new location here.
  • Military records subscription site Fold3 has released a new collection of Navy Casualty Reports, 1776-1941, documenting deaths of US Navy personnel in wartime and in accidents outside of war.

    The casualty reports include records of those who were killed, injured, wounded, diseased or imprisoned, but most report only deaths.The records include four titles: Deaths Due to Enemy Action (includes deaths during the Civil War aboard the Cincinnati and in Andersonville prison, and more), Drowning Casualties (1885-1939), Lost and Wrecked Ships, Explosions and Steam Casualties (1801-1941), and Ordnance Accidents, Aviation Accidents, and Miscellaneous Records. This collection is currently free to search. | census records | Female ancestors | Fold3 | Genealogy books | Military records | NARA
Friday, 27 July 2012 14:36:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 26 July 2012 Adds 12 States to Its 1940 Census Index
Posted by Diane has just announced the addition of 12 more states to its free 1940 US census index, bringing the total of states you can search by name on to 37 plus Washington DC.

The newly added states are:
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
Click here to see our post listing the states already indexed in's 1940 census database, as well as the states indexed on and its 1940 Census Community Project partners, and on

The 1940 census is free to search on all these sites. | | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage
Thursday, 26 July 2012 12:17:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 25 July 2012
Learn How to Digitize and Archive Your Genealogy Documents, Photos and Heirlooms
Posted by Diane

Attending Antiques Roadshow last weekend has definitely put me in the mindset of figuring out what family heirlooms we have and where they came from, and how to preserve and share their stories with family.

My sisters and I, for example, didn't know about our great-grandmother's bride's basket until I asked my mom if she had something she'd like me to take to the show for appraisal.

Victorian Glass and Silver Bridal Basket

So I'm glad to see us doing a webinar called Digitize Your Family History: How to Preserve Precious Photos, Documents and Heirlooms. It's on Thursday, Aug. 9, presented by Denise Levenick, known as the Family Curator and author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes (Family Tree Books).

If you register early, you'll be able to submit a scanned photo or document, or a picture of an heirloom that Denise might use as an example during the webinar. That means you could get preservation and digitization advice specific to your family treasure. ("Early" is the key word.)

Here's what else you'll learn in the Digitize Your Family History webinar:
  • What items you should digitize

  • How to deal with fragile and oversized items, as well as heirlooms you can’t scan (like our bridal basket)

  • Tips for creating digital copies of your photos and documents

  • How to archive and organize digital copies for your own research and for posterity

  • Key terms and online resources for digitizing heirlooms
Registrants will also get a free preview chapter of Denise's book How to Archive Family Keepsakes, and a coupon for the book.

And as in every webinar, they'll receive copies of the presentation slides, as well as access to view the webinar again as often as they like (that goes even if you register but for some reason miss the webinar).

Digitize Your Family History takes place Thursday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. Eastern time (that's 6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain and 4 p.m. Pacific).

Click here to learn more and register!

Family Heirlooms | Photos | saving and sharing family history | Webinars
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 14:15:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 24 July 2012 Officially Launches into US Genealogy Market
Posted by Diane

The website, part of British genealogy company brightsolid, has been online for awhile now with US census records including 1940, but brightsolid today announced the official launch of

In today's press release, brightsolid positioned itself as David to market leader's Goliath. From the release (you can read the whole thing here):
“We’re not used to thinking of ourselves as small”, says Chris van der Kuyl, CEO of brightsolid, the world’s second largest genealogy company. “Our ambitions are big and the launch of is a major market entry. The truth is that it’s a growing market, with plenty of room for both of us.”
“We aim to become the go-to family history site, first for Americans of British and Irish descent, and eventually for all Americans”, says van der Kuyl.
Brightsolid's first product for the US market, the pay-per-view census site, launched in February in conjunction with FamilySearch's RootsTech conference.

Now brightsolid's US focus is on, which will offer family tree building plus subscription or pay-as-you-go access to US census, vital and military records; plus records from the UK, Ireland and Australia.

Those overseas records will include UK censuses, English and Welsh vital records, local parish records, UK passenger departure lists, British military records, Irish vital records and British newspapers.

Learn more about records coming to here.

Update: has an introductory subscription offer of $4.95 per month for a World Subscription (normally $249.95 per year), which gives you access to all the aforementioned content.

Brightsolid, which has 18 million registered users across all its websites and more than a billion genealogical records, boasted a growth rate last year of 75 percent. Last year, the British-focused saw 4.5 million visits from outside Britain, with US residents supplying the largest portion of those visits.

Following up on last month's reports that is seeking buyers, brightsolid also used today's press release to squash any rumors that it wants to acquire | Genealogy Industry | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, 24 July 2012 13:49:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 23 July 2012
Behind the Scenes at "Antiques Roadshow"
Posted by Diane

The PBS series "Antiques Roadshow" was filming in Family Tree Magazine's hometown of Cincinnati on Saturday, and I and our intern Jen were lucky enough to see what goes on behind the scenes.

Something like 37,000 people entered the lottery for 3,000 pairs of free tickets for the Cincinnati event—a show record, from what I understand.

I'll write about the experience and my interview with "Antiques Roadshow" producer Marsha Bemko in an upcoming Family Tree Magazine, but we won't have room for all the photos I took. So I'm sharing some of them here (you can see several on Facebook, too).

First, an overview: Here's the line of folks waiting for the "triage" area, where each person got a ticket to see the pottery or prints or folk art or other appraiser. The triage folks would spot unique items and decide whether an item's appraisal would be filmed. The person who brought it was sent directly to the Green Room (off limits to press) until the appraisal took place.

Here's where those lines for various types of items converged. Appraisals and filming happened in the screened area.

A big part of the day for guests was waiting in line.

These crew members are setting up to film an appraisal.

Here Wes Cowan, who's been with the show for years and also stars on PBS' "History Detectives," examines a framed photograph. Cowan is from Cincinnati, but appraisers came from everywhere for the event.

We were invited to bring items for appraisal, too (and even lucky enough to bypass the line in my first photo above), so I wrapped up this glass bowl in plenty of bubble wrap. It was a wedding gift to my great-grandparents in 1908, and I don't want to be the one to break it.

The glassware appraiser told me it's called a bride's basket, and this one's style actually dates it to earlier than 1908, from the Victorian era. So it may have already been an heirloom when my great-grandmother received it. It's not worth much money, which is fine with my mom and me—we want it to stay in our family forever. The appraisal was over in a few minutes. I got the feeling the appraiser has seen a lot of these.

Do want to make sure your family heirlooms are preserved for posterity? Here are some resources for you:

Family Heirlooms | Genealogy fun | saving and sharing family history
Monday, 23 July 2012 21:21:36 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 20 July 2012
Genealogy News Corral, July 16-20
Posted by Diane

  • is sharing another one of its neat infographics—this one about California in the 1940 census. You'll learn interesting tidbits such as: The state had a population of 6.9 million, Betty White was an 18-year-old in Los Angeles, and a new Plymouth Coupe cost $645. You can see the infographic on the blog.
  • An online name index is now available for the service records of 320,000 WWI airmen in Britain's Royal Air Force (formed in 1918) and its forebears, the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. Read about the index here and in this post on the archives' blog.

    I didn't find any search instructions, so the method I discovered by trial and error is going to the archives' catalog and selecting the All Collections tab. Click the More Options link, then scroll down in that window and check the Air Force box under Military. Type a name into the search box and click the magnifying glass. You might need to use the filters on the left to limit your results to the AIR (Air Ministry and Royal Air Force) collection.
To browse, go to this page on the British national archives website. Officers' records are arranged by name; airmen records are arranged by service number. Also see this guide to finding records of airmen in the Royal Air Force. | census records | FamilySearch | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 20 July 2012 14:19:09 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 19 July 2012
Find Genealogy Research Bargains in our Summer Sizzler Sale
Posted by Diane

What to do while you're inside trying to beat the summer heat?

Why not learn more about how to do family history research? We'll make it easier with our Summer Sizzler Sale: Now through Monday, July 23, you'll save 40 percent or more on genealogy how-to books, CDs, digital download guides and video classes.

For example, you can pick up:
Click to check out these and other genealogy how-to bargains in our Summer Sizzler Sale.

Editor's Pick | Sales
Thursday, 19 July 2012 09:51:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Latest FREE Family Tree Magazine Podcast Focuses on American Ancestors
Posted by Diane

Tune in to the July 2012 Family Tree Magazine Podcast for tips on researching the genealogy of your American ancestors. Host Lisa Louise Cooke and Family Tree Magazine experts talk about:
You can listen to the free Family Tree Magazine Podcast through iTunes or on

census records | immigration records | Military records | Podcasts | Research Tips
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 09:24:40 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]