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# Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Courthouse Research Tips from the Virtual Genealogy Conference
Posted by Diane

Courthouse records can be some of the most revealing sources about your ancestors.

These Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference tips come from our live chat on Researching Courthouse Records, hosted by the Legal Genealogist Judy G. Russell.
  • Types of records you might find at a courthouse include civil and criminal court records, naturally, but also deeds and mortgages, tax lists,  county commissioner meeting minutes, vital records, business licenses, voter registrations, cattle brand registrations and more.
  • But depending on the place your family lived, older records may have been turned over to a local or state archives, historical society or library. Check in advance before you plan a courthouse trip.
  • "Keep in mind is that most of these facilities aren't really archives," Russell advised. "They're working offices trying to keep up with the day-to- day business of government. For the most part, they're not set up to do a lot of hand-holding." Find out as much as you can about the records you need—the date, a microfilm number or volume and page number, where they're located, etc.—before you go.

  • More things to know before you go: Check online for courthouse hours, holiday schedules and access information. The court may have limited hours when staff will pull files. Some won't allow personal scanners or cameras. Different types of records might be in different buildings or rooms. The local genealogy librarian and genealogical society are good sources to ask ahead of time about courthouse quirks.
  • See if the office holding the records you need has a busy season. Russell gave this example: "If the records you really want are the tax records, and the tax office's busy season is October, then going there in October just about guarantees that nobody is going to be available to help you—and they may not even allow record lookups at that time."
  • One chat participant advises you to dress nicely—"so you look like you might be a lawyer or paralegal." And if you have allergies to dust or mold, bring medication.
  • Look for an online or microfilmed index so you have all the volumes and page numbers you need in advance. Also see whether the Family History Library has microfilm of the records you need or even posted them online at FamilySearch.org.
  • "Even 'burned counties' have some records," Russell said. "And don't forget many people re-recorded deeds, etc., after a courthouse fire."

Ready to head to the courthouse now? Click here to find out about our downloadable guide to researching in courthouse records, available in ShopFamilyTree.com.

Video classes from our Virtual Genealogy Conferences are available in ShopFamilyTree.com. And mark your calendar now for our Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference, Feb. 22-24.


court records | Genealogy Events | Research Tips
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 10:21:02 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, September 24, 2012
Get Free Admission to 100s of Museums Across the Country on Sept. 29!
Posted by Diane

This Saturday, Sept. 29, is Museum Day—when hundreds of museums across the country open their doors and let you visit for free.

You do need to sign up for your free tickets on the Museum Day website (each ticket is good for admission for two people). Tickets will be emailed to you; print them and take with you to the place you visit on Museum Day.

Click here to find a participating museum near you.

A few I like for the history-minded:
  • Out West in Nevada, you can step into your Silver State ancestors' shoes at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City, which features American Indian artifacts, fossils, a recreated ghost town and underground mine, and more.
  • At the Western Heritage Center in Billings, Mont., you can see special exhibits on Montana Women at Work and how the railroad shaped Billings. One of the museum's galleries replicates a 1930s dude ranch lodge.
Have fun!


Museums | Social History
Monday, September 24, 2012 2:02:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 21, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 17-21
Posted by Diane

  • This week MyHeritage.com announced the launch of its automatic Record Matching premium service. The service automatically searches the 4 billion records on MyHeritage.com websites (which now include World Vital Records and FamilyLink) for matches to people in your MyHeritage family tree. MyHeritage users will receive weekly email updates of new Record Matches and can visit MyHeritage.com to review, filter, sort, confirm and reject matches.
On his Genea-Musings blog, Randy Seaver has some detailed posts about using Record Matching to find information.
  • Genealogy search engine Mocavo has acquired ReadyMicro, a company that develops document digitization technology. On its blog, Mocavo says it's planning several exciting announcements in the coming weeks about offering searchable records and forming partnerships to digitize organizations' records "at a very low cost and even, in many cases, at no cost." Stay tuned ...

  • British burial records site DeceasedOnline has added records from London's Charlton Cemetery, opened in 1855. Records include scans of burial registers and some photographs. You can see a list of all the cemeteries included on the site here. You can search the site and get basic search results free; purchase credits to view additional details and records.
  • Don't forget to enter our giveaway for a year's subscription to our Family Tree eBooks website—it's a digital library of dozens of ebooks on genealogy, history, heirloom identification, sharing and preserving your family history, and more, plus many issues of Family Tree Magazine. Click here to enter by September 30!


Cemeteries | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage | UK and Irish roots
Friday, September 21, 2012 2:27:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 20, 2012
5 Connecticut Research Tips from D. Joshua Taylor
Posted by Diane

D. Joshua Taylor, the New England genealogy expert who delivered genealogy news to several famous folks on NBC's "Who Do You think You Are?" is hard at work putting together the Connecticut Genealogy Crash Course webinar he'll present next Thursday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

Josh shares these Connecticut research tips, which he'll expand on in the Connecticut Genealogy Crash Course
  • Many of the common resources for Connecticut research have been published, transcribed, retranscribed, and republished in various formats, so always look for the original source of the information. In the webinar, we'll discuss key resources for tracing Connecticut families, including the Barbour and Hale records collections, which require a bit of sleuthing to use effectively.

  • Connecticut keeps probate records by districts, rather than by counties or towns. But there's a quick way to search all of Connecticut's probate records through one central source! Tune in to the webinar to learn how.

  • Connecticut's shared borders can cause dilemmas for genealogists. We'll talk briefly about the complexities surrounding the western border with New York and ideas for tracing Connecticut families who might've spent time in and around Dutchess County, NY.

  • Subscribe to the Connecticut Society of Genealogists' quarterly The Connecticut Nutmegger. It'll keep you up to date on Connecticut resources and provide book reviews, record abstracts and other guidance.

  • If you have a chance, visit the Connecticut State Library. Although many of its resources are on microfilm (much of it available through interlibrary loan or from the Family History Library), there's nothing like researching on-site and using resources in the original formats.
Got Connecticut ancestors? Register for the Connecticut Genealogy Crash Course now and you'll save $10 with our early bird special and get a chance to submit your Connecticut research question to Josh ahead of time.


Editor's Pick | Research Tips | Webinars
Thursday, September 20, 2012 10:31:28 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Genealogy Apps for Your Tablet
Posted by Diane

Last weekend's Family Tree University Virtual Genealogy Conference was a great chance to learn from professional genealogy experts and from other researchers like me via video classes, message boards and live chats.

Mark your calendar now for our Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference, Feb. 22-24.

I'll bring you a few of my favorite conference tips and tidbits over the next few weeks, starting with great apps from our Best Genealogy Tablet Apps chat. Interestingly, they're not all expressly for doing genealogy. These are some of the apps chat host Kerry Scott and other participants use to track their trees, manage time, digitize documents, search websites and more:
  • 30/30 for time management—you work for 30 minutes or another set length of time, then take a break (iPad)
  • Ancestry for displaying your Ancestry member tree and doing quick record lookups, though the search capabilities are limited compared to the full version of the site (Android and iPad)
  • AroundMe for finding gas stations and food in unfamiliar towns  (iPad)
  • CamScanner for digitizing documents and turning them into PDFs (iPad and Android)
  • Civil War Today for newspaper accounts, diaries, letters and more from this day 150 years ago (iPad)
  • CousinCalc for figuring out exactly how you're related (iPad)
  • DropBox for sharing and accessing files across devices (iPad and Android)
  • Evernote for taking notes and making them searchable and accessible across devices—you can get Kerry's video class on using Evernote for $10 off in ShopFamilyTree.com (iPad and Android)
  • Find A Grave for searching the cemetery transcriptions and info on Find A Grave (Android)
  • Focus Time for time management; you work for 25 minutes and take a 5-minute break, with a longer break after four cycles (iPad)
  • GoodReader for reading PDF files (iPad)
  • Google Translate (iPhone and Android)
  • LastPass for keeping and generating passwords (IPad and Android)
  • MyHeritage for displaying your MyHeritage family tree and searching the site (iPad and Android)
  • PrinterPro for printing wirelessly from iPad to printer (iPad)
  • Reeder for managing blog RSS feeds (iPad)
  • RestingSpot for adding your ancestor's burial location GPS coordinates to the RestingSpot database (iPhone and Android)
  • Scanner Pro for digitizing documents and turning them into PDFs (iPad)
  • Symbaloo.com as an iGoogle replacement (iPad and Android)
  • Wikipanion (iPad) or Wapedia (Android) for using Wikipedia
  • Wolfram Genealogy & History Research Assistant for a variety of tools including historical weather to an inflation calculator (iPad)
  • Zite for finding news stories and blog posts about your pet topics, such as genealogy (iPad and Android)
Video classes from the Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference will be available soon in ShopFamilyTree.com (and you can check out classes from past Virtual Conferences now).

And if you're hungry for more ways to use your iPad for genealogy, you'll find them in the new book Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse by Lisa Louise Cookeclick here to learn more.


Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Events | Research Tips | Tech Advice
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 12:34:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
We're on the Prowl for Hilarious Holiday Photos
Posted by Diane

You expect to see Halloween decorations everywhere this time of year, but can you believe some stores are already stocking Christmas decorations?

We’re celebrating the joys of both holidays—as well as Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Earth Day, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and other special days throughout the year—with an upcoming book called Hilarious Holiday Photos.

Want to join in the fun? Share your funny holiday photos of people or pets, and they could appear on the book’s Facebook page and even in the book itself.

For example, this Halloween photo, courtesy of a coworker here at Family Tree Magazine HQ, cracked us up:



Like the book’s Facebook page to see more funny photos and click here to submit your pictures online.


Genealogy fun | Photos
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 10:57:48 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, September 18, 2012
New, Free Family Tree Magazine Podcast: Tips for Diagnosing Sick Genealogy Sources and More!
Posted by Diane

Our September 2012 Family Tree Magazine Podcast is available (and free!) for your listening enjoyment!

Host Lisa Louise Cooke (also of the Genealogy Gems Podcast) and guests including Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, FamilyTreeDNA President Bennett Greenspan and  Family Tree University instructor Charlotte Bocage share research tips on
  • preventing "sick" sources in your family tree
  • documenting genealogy sources
  • using DNA testing in your genealogy research
Plus, you'll get news from the genealogy blogosphere and hear what's coming up next from Family Tree Magazine.

Listen to the Family Tree Magazine Podcast in iTunes or on FamilyTreeMagazine.com. Visit FamilyTreeMagazine.com for the show notes, too.

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Genetic Genealogy | Podcasts | Research Tips
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 10:12:52 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 14, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 10-14
Posted by Diane

To celebrate the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the US Constitution, the National Archives is featuring a “Tweet the Preamble” contest now through Sept. 17 on Twitter (@usnatarchives). The archives' Twitter followers can enter by summarizing the Preamble of the Constitution in 140 characters (using #Constitution225). The Archivist of the United States will choose the winner, who will receive a pocket Constitution from the Foundation for the National Archives. Get more contest details here.

The Kansas Historical Society (KHS) has announced that 250,000 images from its record collections have been uploaded uploaded to Kansas Memory, KHS’s online archive of photographs, letters, government records, newspapers and objects. You can search teh collections or browse  by place, date, topic, record type or any number of other ways.  You can see the 250,000th image on the KHS blog.

Genealogy website ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk is celebrating its 10th birthday this month. Since its launch in mid-September 2002, the site has grown to more than 90 million digital records and more than one million registered users from across the world,making it the biggest online resource for Scottish census, birth, marriage and death records. British company brightsolid, which also owns findmypast.com, enables ScotlandsPeople for the National Records of Scotland.


Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites | NARA | UK and Irish roots
Friday, September 14, 2012 1:34:11 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Budget Cuts to Close Georgia State Archives as of Nov. 1
Posted by Diane

The Georgia state archives in Morrow, Ga., will close to the public starting Nov. 1 due to state budget cuts, announced Secretary of State Brian Kemp on Thursday. Staff will be cut as part of the closure.

"To my knowledge, Georgia will be the only state in the country that will not have a central location in which the public can visit to research and review the historical records of their government and state," Kemp says.

The public will be able to access the archives by appointment, but appointments may be limited. You can read Kemp's announcement here.

As part of a 3 percent cut ordered across the state government, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal instructed the secretary of state’s office to cut its budget by $732,626 during the remainder of this fiscal year and in the fiscal year starting next July. 

"I will fight during this legislative session to have this cut restored so the people will have a place to meet, research, and review the historical records of Georgia," Kemp says.

You can sign an online petition to stop the closure on Change.org and visit the Georgians Against Closing State Archives Facebook page here


Libraries and Archives | Public Records
Friday, September 14, 2012 9:11:28 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 13, 2012
Take the Course, Luke: Tech Tips from a Genealogy Jedi
Posted by Tyler

For our final Guest Blog in our ‘Meet the Presenter’ series, we have a piece by genealogy Jedi Thomas MacEntee. Here’s what he has to say:

Welcome to the Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference at Family Tree University. Once again, I’m pleased to be a part of this unique, on-line event that provides important educational content to the genealogy community.

What’s So Great about a Virtual Genealogy Conference?

A virtual genealogy conference is just like a conference you attend in-person but with more flexibility and just as many opportunities to network with other genealogy researchers. At the Fall Virtual Genealogy Conference you’ll find pre-recorded webinars (a total of 15!), scheduled chats where you can ask the experts various questions, a message board and even a virtual gift bag filled with genealogy goodies!

The upcoming conference is a great alternative for busy genealogists as well as those that can’t travel long distances to attend genealogy conferences.

Why Technology Should Matter To Genealogists

I’m of an age where I remember the introduction of the personal computer and its impact on not just genealogy, but life in general. I don’t consider myself a “techie” especially since my academic background is more in the arts, language and literature. However, I’ve come to realize that if I don’t keep on top of technology that I risk being left behind. So even though it can be similar to “homework” in school, I make it a point to stay informed and to try out different apps, websites and other technologies. I may not incorporate them as part of my genealogy research, but knowing is better than not knowing.

That’s why I try to ensure that several of my presentations focus on how genealogists can use specific technologies to advance their own research. My goal is to present these new sites and apps in an easy-to-learn atmosphere where you’ll feel comfortable asking questions and making your own decisions as to what technology is best for your own situation.

My Presentations and Chats

During the conference I’ll be offering three new presentations covering tips for working with search engines, how to get what you want from the FamilySearch website, and easy ways to use a research log for your genealogy. In addition, there will be a live, on-line chat session covering cloud computing and genealogy where you’ll get to “pick my brain” on various programs and which program is best for you.

  • Power Up Your Web Searches: Feel like your Google and website searches are going nowhere? Learn to pull those elusive ancestors out from the depths of search engines and genealogy websites with this session on how to sharpen your search skills. We’ll cover Google’s Search Tools and specialty search engines including Mocavo and others. (Recorded session)
  • Tips for Using FamilySearch.org: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ free genealogy website offers a plethora of searchable family trees, historical records and resources—but how do you find what you’re looking for? This class will show you how to become a seasoned and savvy FamilySearch navigator. (Recorded session)
  • Research Logs for the Rest of Us: From Captain Cook to Christopher Columbus, numerous noteworthy explorers kept comprehensive journals to document their adventures, so why should your genealogical expedition be any different? In this class, you’ll learn why you need a research log and how it can help you make genealogical discoveries more effectively and efficiently. (Recorded session)
  • Choosing a Cloud Genealogy Program: Working in the “cloud” can be confusing and the concept of working with data stored on a remote server is just catching on with the genealogy community. If you are tired of keeping your genealogy research data on multiple CDs, DVDs, flash drives, hard drives and in different locations then you owe it to yourself to learn more about cloud computing. During this chat you’ll learn not only how cloud computing works, but also the latest cloud programs and how to keep your data secure and private. (Live on-line chat session)
  • Stay In Touch

    For me, the best part of any conference is making new genealogy friends and staying in touch with them. Sometimes we meet up again in person, or we stay in touch on-line. Either way, it always helps to network with other genealogists. Feel free to keep tabs on what I’m up to by following my websites GeneaBloggers and High-Definition Genealogy , or email me at hidefgen@gmail.com.

    The conference starts TOMORROW! But there is still time to register--click here and use the code FRIENDSOFTHOMAS at checkout to save $40.



    Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Research Tips | Tech Advice
    Thursday, September 13, 2012 12:53:07 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]