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Monday, August 06, 2012
Ancestry.com New York Offers Free New York Genealogy Records
Posted by Diane
An agreement between Ancestry.com and several New York genealogy
organizations has created Ancestry.com
New York, a free searchable database of New York records on
Records include state censuses, naturalizations, marriages, military records from several wars and federal special censuses from 1850
Free access to Ancestry.com New York is available to New York State
residents, but you'll need to set up a free Ancestry.com account if
you're not already a subscriber. Start
on this state archives web page, where you're directed to type
your New York State zip code into the search box. You'll be
redirected to the Ancestry.com New York page on Ancestry.com. Run a
search there, click on a search result, and set up a free
Ancestry.com account when prompted (don't click on the trial offer
or Subscribe link) to get access to the New York records.
I'm hoping something similar is in the works for other states!
Researching New York ancestors? Check
out our online video class New York genealogy Crash Course: Find
Your Empire State Ancestors, available in ShopFamilyTree.com.
Want to improve your genealogical skills and connect with other
family historians—all from the convenience of home? Check out Family
Tree University's Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference,
taking place Sept. 14-16. Early bird registration ends Friday,
Aug. 10 at 11:59 p.m.—just enter code FTUVCEARLY at
checkout to save $50!
Ancestry.com | Free Databases
Monday, August 06, 2012 4:36:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, August 03, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, July 30-August 3
Posted by Diane
- Recent records updates to FamilySearch.org bring the site's free
Slovakian records collection to more than 5 million searchable
records. Plus, you can browse the Slovakia 1869 census on
FamilySearch.org. Other record additions come from South Africa,
Canada, Poland, Portugal and the United States.
here to see the updated collection and link to each on on
FamilySearch | NARA | Social History
Friday, August 03, 2012 12:04:58 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
1940 Census Now Fully Searchable on Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane
Ancestry.com has announced that its
1940 census index is now complete—you can search it for
ancestors in all 48 US states (Alaska and Hawaii hadn't yet become
states in 1940) plus territories. Ancestry.com's
index will be free to search through 2013.
FamilySearch isn't far behind. Its volunteer-created index is almost
complete, and only 19 states' indexes remain to be added to the
site's search. The 1940 census index is free
on FamilySearch.org as well as its 1940 Census Community Project
partners Archives.com and findmypast.com.
Ancestry.com | Archives.com | census records | FamilySearch | Free Databases
Friday, August 03, 2012 9:18:47 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, August 02, 2012
Scanning Old Family Photos With Flip-Pal
Posted by Diane
Now that we're carrying the Flip-Pal
mobile scanner in ShopFamilyTree.com, 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
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.)
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
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
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 ShopFamilyTree.com. 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, August 02, 2012 1:02:43 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
President Obama Related to American Colonies' First Documented African Slave
Posted by Diane
Ancestry.com researchers have linked the United States' first black
president to the earliest documented African permanent slave in
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.
Ancestry.com 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
You can learn details about the research documents and conclusions
on Ancestry.com, 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.
Ancestry.com 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
"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 ShopFamilyTree.com.
African-American roots | Ancestry.com | Celebrity Roots
Tuesday, July 31, 2012 2:43:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, July 27, 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 Ancestry.com's index than FamilySearch's, and I'd have to echo
that observation (mostly in blog comments and on Facebook). His post
includes Ancestry.com'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.
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.
Ancestry.com | census records | Female ancestors | Fold3 | Genealogy books | Military records | NARA
Friday, July 27, 2012 2:36:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Ancestry.com Adds 12 States to Its 1940 Census Index
Posted by Diane
Ancestry.com 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
Ancestry.com to 37 plus Washington DC.
The newly added states are:
here to see our post listing the states already indexed in
Ancestry.com's 1940 census database, as well as the states indexed
on FamilySearch.org and its 1940 Census Community Project
partners, and on MyHeritage.com.
The 1940 census is free to search on all these sites.
Ancestry.com | Archives.com | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage
Thursday, July 26, 2012 12:17:54 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Learn How to Digitize and Archive Your Genealogy Documents, Photos and Heirlooms
Posted by Diane
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.
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
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:
Registrants will also get a free preview chapter of Denise's
book How to Archive Family Keepsakes, and a coupon for the
- 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
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).
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.
here to learn more and register!
Family Heirlooms | Photos | saving and sharing family history | Webinars
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 2:15:02 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Findmypast.com Officially Launches into US Genealogy Market
Posted by Diane
The findmypast.com 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 Ancestry.com'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 findmypast.com 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 censusrecords.com, launched in February
in conjunction with FamilySearch's RootsTech conference.
Now brightsolid's US focus is on Findmypast.com, 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
about records coming to findmypast.com here.
Update: Findmypast.com 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 findmypast.co.uk 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 Ancestry.com is seeking buyers,
brightsolid also used today's press release to squash any rumors
that it wants to acquire Ancestry.com.
Ancestry.com | Genealogy Industry | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, July 24, 2012 1:49:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, July 23, 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
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, July 23, 2012 9:21:36 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)