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Tuesday, November 06, 2012
A Quick Take on US Voting
Posted by Beth
Hello! I'm Beth, former editor of Memory Makers magazine, and I'll be sharing genealogy-related information with you while Diane Haddad heads out on maternity leave until mid-January.
As you head to the polls to cast your vote today (unless you voted early, like me), it's a great time to appreciate your right as an American citizen. Not every American has had this privilege available in his or her lifetime.
Here's a quick look at the US voting timeline:
1789: Constitution empowers states to set voting rights; most enfranchise only male property owners age 21 and older
1830s: Property requirements begin to ease
1848: Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY, launches suffrage movement
1870: 15th Amendment extends voting rights to African-American men
1890: Wyoming allows women to vote
1920: 19th Amendment grants women's suffrage
1940: American Indians are recognized as citizens, although not all are allowed to vote until 1947
1964: 24th Amendment prohibits poll taxes
1965: Voting Rights Act protects minority voters
1971: 26th Amendment lowers voting age to 18
For more interesting tidbits on the history of US voting, see this article on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
Wondering if your ancestors declared their political leanings?
- Check with your ancestor's county board of elections, local library, town hall or historical society for information on old voter registration records in the area.
- The Family History Library (FHL) may have town or county lists of registered voters or those who paid poll taxes. Search your ancestral state archives website for voting, and try running a keyword search of the FHL online catalog on the town, county or state name and the word voting.
- Subscription website Ancestry.com has some voting-related records and digitized books, so if you're a member, run the same search of its online catalog.
Be sure your voice is among the 90 million Americans expected to cast their vote today!
Ancestry.com | Family Tree Magazine articles | Public Records
Tuesday, November 06, 2012 8:31:06 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, November 05, 2012
Why Yes, It Is Possible To Do Genealogy Online for Free!
Posted by Diane
Free is such as nice word—and we're going to help you apply it to your online
genealogy research in our next One-Week Workshop.
Our Using Free
Genealogy Websites weeklong online workshop, taking place from Nov.
30 to Dec. 7, will teach you how to make the most of free websites
and services to help you discover your roots. You'll learn:
secrets to glean more ancestral information from free sites and
how to search the web more effectively
The workshop gives you access to nine pre-recorded video classes—including encore presentations of some of our best Virtual Genealogy
Conference sessions—featuring on-screen demos of the recommended
websites and strategies.
the best free online genealogy tools—including those you’re not
Classes cover topics such as powering up
your web searches, how to find online historical books mentioning
your family, searching the free Ellis Island passenger database,
using online newspaper research tools and more.
You'll also participate in daily message board discussions to ask
questions, exchange ideas and connect with other students and expert
You can participate at your convenience throughout the week: Watch
one class per day or fit them all in over a long weekend, then
immediately apply what you’ve learned to your genealogy research.
Regular tuition for the Using Free Genealogy Websites One-Week Workshop is $129.99. But you can save $35 by using code
WORKSHOPEARLY at checkout. Just hurry, this special code expires Friday, Nov.
Family Tree University | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Videos
Monday, November 05, 2012 9:57:54 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, November 02, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 29-Nov. 2
Posted by Diane
- FamilySearch has announced its US Immigration and Naturalization
community indexing project is halfway to its goal of creating a free
online collection of US passenger lists, border crossing records,
naturalization records, and other immigration documents. Two months
into the project, 85,000 volunteers have indexed more than 15
FamilySearch hopes to have 30 million records
indexed by the end of the year. You can see what's
been indexed so far and register to help out at
According to Ancestry.com, actor George Clooney is Abraham Lincoln's
half-first cousin five times removed through Lincoln's maternal
grandmother, Nancy Hanks. Then men also share a home state of
Kentucky: Clooney was born in Lexington; Lincoln, in Hardin County.
Most genealogists understand such connections aren't really big
news—with every generation, each of us has exponentially more cousins, and some of them are bound to be famous (others are bound to
be deadbeats)—but writing this little blurb let me gaze at photos of George
- Speaking of making money doing genealogy, the Board for
Certification of Genealogists is offering new video
testimonials from professional researchers to help you decide
if certification is right for you. The site also has posted an hour-long
seminar about what you can expect from the certification
process (and what's expected of you).
Ancestry.com | Celebrity Roots | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | immigration records
Friday, November 02, 2012 11:28:10 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, November 01, 2012
Historical Hallows Eve
Posted by Tyler
Hi, I’m Taylor, the fall intern here at Family Tree Magazine. Nice to meet you all!
As Halloween rolls around, you begin thinking of costumes, candies and creatures. But where did all these spooks and treats come from? Before you crack out the latest scary movie and devour your favorite snack, let’s catch up on some Hallow-history.
According to our new book Good Old Days, My Ass Irish Potato Famine Immigrants brought Halloween and the jack-o-lantern to America after 1846. The original jack-o-lantern tale is rather gruesome. “Jack” trapped the devil inside a tree until he agreed that Jack, an avid sinner, would never go to hell. The devil then gave Jack a burning ember to light his way through the dark places in the world. Jack placed the ember into a lantern made of a turnip. When the Irish reached America, pumpkins proved more practical than turnips.
But, one of the world’s oldest holidays, Halloween celebrations have been going on since way past our time and have evolved from the festivals celebrated by our ancestors. Celtic Ireland is credited with creating our spook fests. Known as Samhain, Oct. 31 was for clearing out the old and starting new. As the Celtic New Year, Samhain marked the beginning of the 11th month.
Celtics believed that on this day, the thin veil between our world and the otherworld was weakest, allowing spirits to inhabit the land for a single night. While this mostly included deceased family members, malevolent souls were also allowed passage. The villagers would dress up in scary, distorted masks to deter evil spirits from causing them harm.
The Romans celebration was based on Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees, especially apples. Many dishes served during this gathering were apple based; this is where “bobbing for apples” is derived as well as caramel apples. Seventh century Pope Boniface wanted to channel citizens away from Pagan traditions and declared Nov. 1, All Saints Day, which kicked off Oct. 31 as All Hallows Eve.
While many countries continue these traditions, Hispanic countries have their own interpretation. Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a three-day celebration beginning on Oct. 31. This is a time when deceased loved ones return to their homes. Family members build alters to welcome their ancestors. They will gather favorite foods and items of the deceased as well as flowers and incense to guide them home. The family will then visit at the graveyard to remember those they’ve lost.
Check out these Halloween history websites to learn more.
Thursday, November 01, 2012 8:23:44 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Top Tips for Finding Colonial Ancestors
Posted by Diane
Having roots in Colonial America is both a source of pride and
frustation: How awesome that your ancestors have been on American
soil so long and helped shape the direction of our country—but how
difficult to trace them in centuries-old, unfamiliar and often-incomplete records.
Here's your chance to get Colonial genealogy research advice from
one of the best: New England genealogy expert D. Joshua Taylor.
Josh will present our next webinar, Top
25 Tips for Finding Your Colonial Ancestors, taking place
Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 7pm ET (that's 6pm CT, 5pm MT and 4pm PT). He
sent us a few tips to keep in mind when you're tracing Colonial kin:
1. Verify, verify, verify. Because so many of our
Colonial families have "already been done," it is important to
verify data that has already been published. Mistakes in Colonial
families can filter through several generations and cause
headaches for genealogists.
In the webinar, Josh will show you key strategies for discovering
early American roots and tracing Colonial immigrants, which groups
settled which areas during the era, common and lesser-known
resources for Colonial kin, and the best websites to use.
2. It hasn't all been done. It is important to get over the
common mindset that "my colonial families have all been
researched," as there's still so much to discover. During the
webinar, we'll talk about a few new resources for tracing Colonial
families that are largely untapped by genealogists.
3. Study your history. The Colonial period is a fascinating
time in our history, and it is important that you know exactly
what was happening in the areas your ancestors were living.
Boundary changes, disputes, conflicts with American Indians and a
host of other events did impact the lives of our Colonial
Once you're registered for the webinar, you'll get
here to register for Top 25 Tips for Finding Your Colonial
Ancestors (if you hurry, you'll save $10 with our early bird
- Participation in the live presentation on Nov. 13
- The chance to submit questions before the event and again
during the webinar
- Access to the webinar recording to view again as many times as
- The 75-page PDF of the presentation slides for future
- Eight pages of additional handouts
Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 9:35:37 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Tips for Finding Your Ancestor's Death Record
Posted by Diane
When my husband and I were house-hunting awhile back, we looked at a
house adjoining a small pioneer cemetery nearly concealed by trees.
Which I thought was cool—you could see the area's history in the
names on the worn stones. My husband said, "Quiet neighbors."
few friends looked stricken and said they might have to think twice
about coming over.
So it goes for many of us genealogists. We're fascinated by
cemeteries and death records; other people think that's creepy. But
in the spirit of genealogy and Halloween, here are some tips on
finding your ancestors' death records:
- Death records are generally available after the state passed a
law that counties or towns had to keep records and forward them
to the state health department or vital records office. To find
out when that was for your ancestor's state, download
our free US Vital Records Chart (PDF document) from here. Compliance with the law wasn't
always 100 percent, so keep that in mind.
You can get websites and contact information for state
vital records offices from the Centers for Disease
Control Where to Wrote for Vital Records listing.
- Restrictions on public access to death records are generally
shorter than those for birth records—depending on the state,
it's usually 25 to 50 years if you're not immediate family.
Check the state vital records office website for this
The town or county health department or a local genealogical
society where your ancestor lived can tell you when death
recording began there. Remember that these early records
often aren't complete.
- No official death record to be found? Look to other sources, such as newspaper obituaries and death notices, cemeteries,
church records, US census mortality schedules and probate
Learn more about tracking down death information for your
ancestors from these Family Tree Magazine expert
Research Tips | Vital Records
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 12:24:01 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, October 26, 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 22-26
Posted by Diane
- The Chronicling
America free, searchable database of historic US
newspapers, has posted its 5 millionth newspaper page. Launched
by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the
Humanities in 2007 as part of the National Digital Newspaper
Program, the site digitizes newspapers published between 1836
and 1922. It now has more than 800 newspapers from 25 states.
- Old Weather, a
joint project from the National Archives and National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration, will have citizen
scientists transcribing historic Arctic and worldwide weather
data from digitized Navy, Coast Guard, and Revenue Cutter ship
deck logs. Digital images of the logbooks will be available on
the project's website and on Archives.gov. The
records offer access to weather data and climate patterns from
your ancestor's day, as well as details on US maritime history,
military operations and scientific exploration. Learn more about the project
and participate at OldWeather.org.
- A new volunteer genealogy lookup site called Gen Gathering has
announced it's looking for volunteers to do simple lookups for
others in their home libraries or nearby repositories or
cemeteries. You also can use the site to find volunteers who
might be able to do lookups for you. Learn more on the Gen
Got Iowa ancestors? Our Iowa
Genealogy Crash Course webinar, happening Tuesday evening,
Oct. 30, will help you find their vital records, US and state
censuses, land records and more. Learn
more about the Iowa Genealogy Crash Course in ShopFamilyTree.com.
Genealogy Apps | Genealogy societies | NARA | Newspapers | Social History
Friday, October 26, 2012 11:30:38 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Switching Things Around With Reverse Genealogy
Posted by Diane
I've just recently started the phase in my genealogy search where
you contact distant cousins to exchange family information. It's a
fun phase!, and not just because of the enlightening genealogy
information and ancestral photos that turn up. It's neat to see
how we're related and think about all the other folks out there who
could by my cousins.
This is what reverse genealogy is all about: finding cousins,
sharing family information and memories, and breaking down research
It's starting with your ancestors and working forward
in time to find living relatives (the reverse of what genealogists
Genealogy Value Pack has all the tools you need to locate
folks who may hold the keys to your tough family history problems:
- Research Strategies: Reverse Genealogy article download
by Lisa Louise Cooke: Get advice for making like Sherlock Holmes
and finding cousins, including tips for figuring out where to
look, as well as the best websites and directories
- Reverse Genealogy independent study course download:
This course, also developed by Lisa Louise Cooke, has in-depth
instructions on tracing your family lines forward to find living
- They're Alive: Finding Living Relatives on-demand
webinar by Thomas MacEntee: Learn about using people-finding
websites, how to approach a possible cousin (without feeling
like a stalker) and more.
Right now the Reverse
Genealogy Value Pack is just $49.99, a 66 percent savings.
yours in ShopFamilyTree.com.
- Step by Step Guide: Safely Sharing Data Online article
download by Rick Crume: You want to find relatives and you want
them to find you, but how do keep from putting "too much" out
there (and maybe letting the wrong people find you)? This advice
will help you stay safe.
Editor's Pick | Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 2:32:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Arlington National Cemetery Launches Burial Database
Posted by Diane
Arlington National Cemetery has unveiled a public
database of the 400,000 burials there.
Explorer, the database is available online and as a Mobile app. You can
search it to locate gravesites on a map; get details including
birth, death and interment dates, and branch of service; generate
front and back photos of a headstone or monument (where available);
and get directions to those gravesites.
Building it led to the first review, analysis and
coordination of almost 150 years of Arlington Cemetery records. The Army
photographed 259,978 gravesites, niches and markers and instituted a
rigorous process to review each headstone photo with cemetery
records and other historical documents. The effort grew out of reports in 2010 of
misidentified graves and poorly kept records at the cemetery.
Arlington National Cemetery was established during the Civil War on
the grounds of Arlington House, once the estate of the family of
Martha Custis Lee, wife of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Veterans
and family members from the Civil War and every subsequent US war
are buried on its 624 acres.
The first soldier buried there is Pvt. William Henry Christman of
Pennsylvania, on May 13, 1864.
Cemeteries | Military records
Tuesday, October 23, 2012 4:21:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, October 22, 2012
Cemetery Research Tips & More in the October 2012 Family Tree Magazine Podcast
Posted by Diane
2012 Family Tree Magazine podcast, hosted by Lisa
Louise Cooke of Genealogy
Gems, celebrates Halloween with cemetery research tips,
And Lisa and I chat about some recent big acquisitions in the
- Advice for cracking the "tombstone code"—the symbolism in
carvings and inscriptions—from contributing editor Sharon
- How to preserve the genealogy and history information
cemeteries hold, and share those details with others, from
Family Tree University instructor and Find A Grave volunteer
Diana Crisman Smith
- Tips for visiting a cemetery (what you can do from home, what
to bring and what to look for once you're there) from Family
Tree University Cemetery Research 101 course instructor
- Tombstone rubbing dos and don'ts with Family Tree Magazine
publisher and editorial director Allison Dolan
You can listen to Family Tree Magazine's free genealogy podcast in
iTunes or on
notes are on FamilyTreeMagazine.com, too.
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Cemeteries | Genealogy Industry | Podcasts | Research Tips
Monday, October 22, 2012 1:10:54 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)