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<2012 August>

More Links

# Tuesday, 14 August 2012
New on Genealogy Conferences and Events Calendar
Posted by Diane

Looking for a genealogy conference or workshop where you can take classes and meet other family historians? Want to get the word out about your genealogy society's conference or workshop?

We've started a Genealogy Conferences and Events Calendar on, where we'll list upcoming national, local, regional and online genealogy events. Stop by to look for workshops and conferences near you.

Send us an email about upcoming events you'd like to see listed. We'll need to know:
  • event name
  • date
  • city and state where it's taking place
  • theme (if there is one)
  • URL of a web page where people can learn more about the event

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 12:57:11 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 09 August 2012
FamilySearch 1940 Census Index Grows to 37 States
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has added six more states/territories to its free 1940 census index, for a total of 37 states indexed here. The additions are
  • Arkansas
  • Missouri
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington, DC
  • West Virginia
Volunteers for the 1940 Census Community Project, a collaboration among FamilySearch, and, have finished indexing the 1940 census records. Index data for the remaining 14 states are still being processed. 

Now on FamilySearch, you can search 1940 census records for all the indexed states at once here (I like this interface so much better than the previous map with the state progress pop-ups that were constantly covering up other states).

Or you can narrow your search to a particular indexed state here

You can search 1940 census records for all states on, whose index will be free through 2013.

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! | | census records | FamilySearch | Free Databases
Thursday, 09 August 2012 11:40:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 08 August 2012
Record Relatives' Stories With New, Free iPhone App
Posted by Diane

If you're headed to a family reunion or even just visiting Grandma's house, here's a free app you might consider downloading to your iPhone (let's hope there's an Android version out soon):

The Saving Memories Forever app lets you record family stories, then store them on the Saving Memories Forever website.

The app is free, as is a basic membership on the site. An enhanced site membership (lets you have unlimited "Story Tellers" and "Story Listeners," add photos to stories and more) costs $3.99 per month. You'll find a comparison between the basic and enhanced memberships here.

From the app's Quick Start guide (download it from the Saving Memories Forever website), it looks like the app is designed to record responses to questions, rather than a freeform oral history interview.

If you don't have an iPhone, you can upload audio files from your computer to the Saving Memories Forever website, but they must be mp3 files. Learn more about how the site works here.

Not sure what to ask Grandma? We list 20 questions to ask your family members on (free article). 

And if your interviewee isn't much of a talker, you'll find our downloadable guide to oral history interviews with reluctant or reticent relatives on

Become a better genealogist and connect with other family historians from the convenience of home at Family Tree University's Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference, taking place Sept. 14-16. Hurry! Early bird registration ends Friday, Aug. 10 at 11:59 p.m. Just enter code FTUVCEARLY at checkout to save $50!

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Oral History
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 15:43:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 07 August 2012
Family Tree University Virtual Genealogy Conference: Get Family History Help From Home
Posted by Diane

Would you love to soak up all the genealogical knowledge and fellowship you can handle—but you don't have the time or extra income to travel to a family history conference in another city?

We've got the perfect opportunity for you: Family Tree University's Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference. This weekend event, taking place Sept. 14-16, gives you online access to video classes, live chats with genealogy experts, our conference message board and a swag bag of freebies from

Attend from wherever you have a computer and internet access. Watch the classes and post to the message board whenever you want during the event; chats take place at scheduled times (conference attendees can view the chat transcripts later).

And you can save $50 with our early bird registration special, but only through August 10 (use code FTUVCEARLY ).

Classes, taught by pros including Thomas MacEntee, Rick Crume, Diana Crisman Smith, James M. Beidler, Lisa A. Alzo, Denise Levenick and others, are organized into three tracks:
  • Genealogy Technology: includes Power Up Your Web Searches, Smarter Online Census Searching, Tricks for Using, and more
  • Research Strategies: Secrets to Tracing Female Ancestors, Paperless Pedigrees: Organize Your Genealogy Electronically, Research Logs for the Rest of Us, and more
  • Ethnic Research: Mastering German Place Names, Using UK Civil Registrations, Tracing Irish Ancestors in Griffith's Valuation, and more
Chat topics cover cloud genealogy, source documentation, courthouse records, brick wall problems and more. I always look forward to the chats, tossing around research questions and advice with genealogists from all over the place.

Here are the Family Tree University Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference basics:
  • When: 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 4, through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16
  • Where: your internet-enabled computer
  • What: all-access pass for 15 half-hour recorded video classes, live chats, our conference message board and swag
  • Registration fee: $149.99 through Aug. 10 with coupon code FTUVCEARLY

We'll see you at the conference!

Genealogy Events
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 16:35:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 06 August 2012 New York Offers Free New York Genealogy Records
Posted by Diane

An agreement between and several New York genealogy organizations has created 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 to 1880.

Free access to New York is available to New York State residents, but you'll need to set up a free 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 New York page on Run a search there, click on  a search result, and set up a free 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

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! | Free Databases
Monday, 06 August 2012 16:36:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 03 August 2012
Genealogy News Corral, July 30-August 3
Posted by Diane

  • Recent records updates to bring the site's free Slovakian records collection to more than 5 million searchable records. Plus, you can browse the Slovakia 1869 census on Other record additions come from South Africa, Canada, Poland, Portugal and the United States.
Click here to see the updated collection and link to each on on

FamilySearch | NARA | Social History
Friday, 03 August 2012 12:04:58 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
1940 Census Now Fully Searchable on
Posted by Diane 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.'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 as well as its 1940 Census Community Project partners and | | census records | FamilySearch | Free Databases
Friday, 03 August 2012 09:18:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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]