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Tuesday, April 16, 2013
New FamilySearch.org Adds Photo Feature and More
Posted by Diane
The "Coming Soon" banner on the FamilySearch.org website
since last month's RootsTech conference has been replaced by this:
FamilySearch just flipped the switch on several site enhancements
and a polished new look. FamilySearch's announcement says the site
enhancements will "allow visitors to collaboratively build their
family tree online, preserve and share precious family photos and
stories, and receive personal research assistance—all for free."
Besides the recently
released FamilySearch Family Tree, new FamilySearch.org
I clicked on the photos area, and it looks like FamilySearch is
using an invitation system to avoid overloading the site. I got a message that all of today's invites are taken, and to check back at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
- Photos and Stories: Upload photos of ancestors, share them
through social media, tag them and add them to profiles in your
- Fan Chart: Turns your FamilySearch family tree into an
interactive fan chart, or lets you add your tree to FamilySearch
as you create the fan chart
- Live Help: Call or chat with a FamilySearch volunteer online,
or find a FamilySearch Center/Family History Center near you
you think of the new FamilySearch.org?
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 1:36:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Introducing the 2013 Family Tree 40 Genealogy Blogs!
Posted by Diane
Seeking genealogy news, help understanding your family tree
software, essential research advice, or simply the feeling that
someone shares the family history journey you've embarked on?
All these and more are available from the bloggers on the 2013
list of the Family Tree 40 top genealogy blogs. Congratulations to these dedicated researchers and writers!
To quote Family Tree Magazine's
contributing editor David A. Fryxell, who wrote about the Family
Tree 40 in our May/June 2013 issue (on newsstands and at ShopFamilyTree.com April 30), "Let’s tip our
collective hats to those bloggers who stick with it and keep sharing
their wit, wisdom and family history finds with us ... In making
this year’s selections, we paid particular attention to that
stick-to-itiveness standard." And "We love blogs packed with information, but we also adore those
brimming with the blogger’s personality."
can read about the Family Tree 40 and click through to each blog
from FamilyTreeMagazine.com. They're arranged into these
We also encourage genealogists to look beyond
our list to find genealogy blogs that might help answer their research
questions, illuminate an ancestral hometown, or bring entertainment to a ho-hum day. The combo of research
needs and blog-reading preferences is different for every
genealogist, and we all can be thankful that topics and writing
styles in the genealogy blogging community are just as varied.
- Good advice (genealogy tips and how-tos)
- Tech support (reviews and instructions for genealogy
- Gravestone matters (tombstone photos, cemetery research tips)
- Heritage help (researching ancestors of specific ethnicities
and national backgrounds)
- Shop talk (genealogy news and new products)
- Story time (the bloggers' personal research and family
Here are a few ways to find genealogy blogs you'll love:
As the main blogger here at the Genealogy Insider blog, I know how
hard it can be to find the inspiration—and the time—to put up a post
every day or several times a week. I give personal props to the Family Tree
40 and all the genealogy bloggers out there. Thanks for the work you do!
Family Tree 40
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 12:58:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, April 12, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, April 8-12
Posted by Diane
- Subscription genealogy website Ancestry.com announced on Facebook that
its collection of marriage records will be free April 17-21 (so you
have a few days to plan your research). You'll need to register for
a free account to view the records.
ProQuest offers databases you can usually use only in libraries that
subscribe to the services, but during National Library Week this
week, you can try
out several of the databases at home for free. The one I see
that most genealogists will be into is Historic MapWorks Library
Edition, which contains maps dating back to the 1700s. I found my
Depenbrock family's farm in Colerain Township, Ohio, on an 1884 land owner map in less than 5 minutes!
here to link to this and the other free databases.
Ancestry.com | Free Databases | Land records
Friday, April 12, 2013 2:54:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Your Ancestor's SS-5: Get It Before It's Too Late
Posted by Diane
It's time to look up your 20th-century ancestors in the Social
Security Death Index and request their Social Security number
applications (SS-5s) if you haven't already.
to close the Social Security Death Index are resurfacing with
a vengeance: President Obama's budget proposal would give the
Commissioner of Social Security license to grant or
deny access to the SSDI and our ancestors' SS-5 forms. It makes the
records' availability subject to a bureaucrat instead of the Freedom
of Information Act.
Other genealogy bloggers have expertly explained why there are more
effective ways to prevent tax fraud and protect the identities of
taxpayers, while also meeting the needs of genealogy hobbyists
and those who use Social Security records to identify survivors of
deceased servicemembers and unclaimed persons. Read more from:
I'll explain what the SSDI is and why it's important to genealogy:
The SSDI is a computerized file of deceased individuals whose deaths
have been reported to the Social Security Administration. It
contains mostly deaths from 1962 and later, though my
great-grandfather who died in 1949 is listed.
You can search the
SSDI on websites including FamilySearch.org
and Ancestry.com (which excludes
recent deaths) and order your ancestor's SS-5 for a fee from the
Social Security Administration under the Freedom of Information Act.
Once you find an ancestor in the SSDI, you can request his or her
SS-5, which requests parents' names, among other information. This
is the only record I've ever found giving my great-grandfather's
how to order your ancestor's SS-5.
Public Records | Vital Records
Thursday, April 11, 2013 12:31:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
5 Strategies to Overcome Genealogy Brick Walls
Posted by Diane
Today I'm sharing five
strategies for dealing with tough genealogy problems in the spirit of next week's Genealogy
Brick Wall Buster's online workshop.
The workshop runs April 19-26 and
offers Family Tree Magazine's best advice for overcoming
research obstacles, plus the opportunity to get expert advice on
your brick wall from professional researcher Lisa A. Alzo.
- Bend the rules of genealogy that say to "work backward one
generation at a time." Skip a generation, identifying your
ancestor's grandparents by using what you know about his cousins
or aunts and uncles; then maybe you can work forward to the
missing link of his parents.
- For immigration brick walls, search passenger lists for
friends and neighbors the person might have traveled with, then
examine the list for your ancestor's (possibly garbled) name. If
you can't find a town of origin, use censuses to see if his
neighbors are from the same country, then study those folks. Here's
how an immigration brick wall came tumbling down for me.
- Once you've exhausted the census and other common sources,
try less-obvious types of paperwork your ancestors might have
left. Land records are one example. Is your brick-wall ancestor
mentioned in school records, occupational records, meeting
minutes or old manuscripts? Use your imagination, your library
and online catalogs, such as FamilySearch's and
the National Union
Catalog of Manuscript Collections.
here to see the program for the Genealogy Brick Wall Busters
workshop. After you complete your registration, you can submit
your brick wall to Lisa via a form in your confirmation email.
- Our contributing editor David A. Fryxell advises, "As Sherlock
Holmes liked to lecture Dr. Watson, 'When you have eliminated
the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the truth.' So consider even unlikely possibilities when
confronting your brick walls: Could there have been two men by
the same name in the county at that time? Might your
third-great-grandfather have married his cousin? Maybe your
great-grandmother remarried between censuses, thus changing
Family Tree University | Research Tips
Thursday, April 11, 2013 10:48:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Help Us Get to 10,000 Likes! (There's Something in It for You)
Posted by Diane
Why should you help Family Tree Magazine get to 10,000 likes on Facebook?
Here are three reasons:
1. I've always wanted to be popular.
2. If the "Microsoft
Word Will Never Understand That My Name is NOT a Spelling Mistake"
page can get 161,707 likes, we can get 10,000.
3. When we hit 10,000 likes, we'll post a coupon of our fans' choosing! Vote
in our Facebook poll for either 30% off a Family Tree
University course or 15% off your entire purchase at
Visit Family Tree Magazine on Facebook to vote for your favorite deal and share it with your friends.
Genealogy fun | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Social Networking
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 2:56:16 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Genealogy Video Tip: Finding Old Land Records in Illinois
Posted by Diane
to Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar Thursday evening,
April 11, picks up where our Illinois
Genealogy Crash Course left off, introducing you to
more-advanced, lesser-known genealogy resources ito trace ancestors
In this video tip from the Secrets to Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls
webinar, presenter David A. Fryxell gives you resources for finding
land records in Illinois, from the days of French, then British,
then Virginia jurisdiction, through the public domain lands era, to
more-recent deed records.
You've still got a couple more days to register for the Secrets to
Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar! Learn
more about the webinar and sign up at ShopFamilyTree.com.
Land records | Research Tips | Videos | Webinars
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 2:55:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Intro to Genetic Genealogy Testing Crash Course
Posted by Diane
Is a DNA test the answer to your genealogy prayers or a waste of
money? Well, it depends on the test you take and how you use the
results. Blaine Bettinger, aka The Genetic Genealogist, will help you
understand how to use genetic genealogy as part of your family
history research in our Intro
to DNA Crash Course webinar on April 25.
... this webinar is for you.
- considered taking a DNA ancestry test
- been overwhelmed by
the options for genetic genealogy tests to take and testing
companies to use
- wondered about the differences among Y-DNA,
mtDNA and autosomal tests
- thought that genetic genealogy probably
isn't worth it for your research, anyway
- taken a test and been unsure
what to do with your results
Participants in the Intro
to DNA Crash Course webinar will be able to ask their genetic
genealogy questions in a Q&A session during the webinar. They'll get a copy of the webinar slides, access to watch the
webinar again as often as desired, and our genetic-genealogy guide
Research Strategies: Going Beyond Surnames.
Here are the webinar details:
Register for the Intro
to DNA Crash Course webinar here.
Date: Thursday, April 25
Starting time: 7pm EST/6pm CST/5pm MST/4pm PST
Duration: 1 hour
Price: $49.99 (sign
up by April 18 to save $10!)
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 2:11:28 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, April 05, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, April 1-5
Posted by Diane
- FamilySearch has added 23.9 million indexed records and images to the free FamilySearch.org, with new browsable image collections from Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, England, Italy, Mexico and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 19.2 million document images from the new collection United Kingdom, WWI Service Records 1914-1920; 2 million index records from the collection US WWI Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918; and almost the 931,000 index records from the collection US New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1925-1942. Search or browse these databases from the chart here.
- In case you missed it (and were wondering), Irish genealogy research company Eneclann has researched Tom Cruise’s roots.
The actor's real last name is Mapother, but Cruise actually is a family
name. His great-grandfather, born in 1876 to Mary Pauline Russell
Cruise and her second husband Thomas O’Mara, took the surname of his
half-siblings and thus became Thomas Cruise Mapother I. Read more and download a copy of the family tree here.
Celebrity Roots | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genetic Genealogy | German roots | Military records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, April 05, 2013 1:44:27 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, April 04, 2013
10 Tips for Researching Genealogy in Court Records
Posted by Diane
I'm pretty excited about our new Mastering
Genealogy Research in Court Records course from Family Tree
University. I've found this to be one
of the most intimidating areas of genealogy research, but also
one of the most rewarding—my court records finds have included an
filing in Texas and a revealing divorce
case in Kentucky.
Genealogy Research in Court Records instructor Sunny Jane
Morton shared these tips for a productive visit to
the courthouse (and why you might not need to make a
special trip to the courthouse, after all). The
first session of this class starts April 8, and if you want to
register, you can use code FTU0413 to save 20%.
- If you're traveling to a courthouse or another
repository to research county-level records, download and fill
out a Research
Repository Checklist. It'll help you plan your visit,
bring appropriate materials and leave extra stuff behind.
Bring this checklist with you to the courthouse, along with a County Research Resources worksheet (available to course participants) listing which office has which types of records and what
records you’re looking for.
- Arrive as early as possible in the workday. You never know how
much time your research will take.
- Dress professionally but in comfortable, washable clothes. You
may be on your feet a lot of the day in tight, hard-to-reach or
dusty spaces. Yet, you'll get the respect you deserve as a
researcher when you look presentable.
- Carry a minimum of materials with you. There probably
won't be a secure place to set up a laptop computer or table
space where you can spread out your notes.
- Confirm copying policies ahead of time. You may be permitted to use a wand scanner or the digital
camera on your phone, or you may have to buy a copy card. Some
places permit only taking notes.
- When you need to ask the staff a question, think of the most
direct way to ask. Don’t share your family history. Say, “Where
would I look for an index to probates or intestate proceedings
for 1912?”, not “My great-grandfather died in 1912 in Chester
Township and I think my great-grandmother was the executor of
- Be observant. In addition to the records you came for,
keep an eye out for clues to other court records about your
- Be thorough. If you don’t find what you expect to, ask a clerk
a specific question. “Where else other than deed books might I
find someone disposing of land between 1843 and 1846?” You might
be shown a separate book of sheriff’s sales if your ancestor
fell behind on taxes.
- If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask politely
whether someone in the county offices has a lot of experience
with the historical records. If that person is available, he
or she may be able to tell you whether an ancestor could have
married by banns, or how likely it
was that African-Americans would've had their deaths reported or
estates filed during the Jim Crow years.
- Finally, not every court record requires a trip to the
courthouse. You might discover that records you need are microfilmed or digitized at the state archives or FamilySearch.org. In
some cases, a combination of online research, microfilm rental
and requesting copies from the courthouse will suffice.
court records | Family Tree University | Research Tips
Thursday, April 04, 2013 9:25:57 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)