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Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Online Genealogy Milestones for WikiTree, FamilySearch and Us!
Posted by Diane
Two—no, make that three—genealogy organizations have reached
milestones this week:
- WikiTree, a genealogy community
with a goal to build a free worldwide family tree, now has 5 million
ancestor profiles. The site's founders say its "slow-growth"
approach—encouraging the careful addition of profiles over "bulk" uploads—makes this milestone an important
You can hear from WikiTree founder Chris Whitten in the January
2013 Family Tree Magazine Podcast, hosted by Lisa
Browse or search the profiles by surname here. If you want to build a tree there, start with the "How WikiTree Works" page.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Social Networking
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:49:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Awww, Shucks. We Like You, Too!
Posted by Diane
Family Tree Magazine
has reached 10,000 likes on
Facebook! We're thanking our Facebook fans by sharing a
ShopFamilyTree.com coupon code
good for 15% off
your next purchase, plus free
if used before May 1.
ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Social Networking
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:45:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
New Value Packs: New England Genealogy and Census Research
Posted by Diane
If you have New England ancestors, or any US ancestors, at least one
of these value packs from Family Tree Magazine will help you
discover more about them.
They're both bargain-priced at ShopFamilyTree.com, and even better, they both
qualify for free shipping:
England Genealogy Value Pack gathers tools for
researching your family tree in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. You'll get webinars, our
newly updated State Research Guides, webinars and the Researching
your Colonial New England Ancestors book.
all the details on the New England Genealogy Value Pack here.
Want search strategies for hard-to-find relatives in the
census? Techniques to go beyond your basic names, ages and
relationships, and mine census records for clues to your ancestors'
everyday lives and which records you should look for next?
Research Value Pack has video classes and books to
improve your census research skills. Get
all the details on the Census Research Value Pack here.
census records | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:11:31 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, April 19, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, April 15-19
Posted by Diane
Version 7 also lets you use the sites Record Matching
service, which automatically searches MyHeritage collections and
trees for your ancestors (you'll need a subscription to view some
results). Other updates include a more graphical look and support
for 40 languages, including Chinese and Korean. Read
more details on the MyHeritage blog.
- There's a new database
of burials at Hart Island, the public burial ground
("potter's field") for New York City. The earliest recorded
burial there dates to May 1881; however, the database covers
burials since 1977.
- A new PBS series called "Genealogy Roadshow" is looking for
people with family history mysteries to be on the show. Check
out the casting call here; the deadline is May 12.
- Heredis is having a sale through April 28 on its family tree
software for PC (37 percent off, at $24.99) and Mac (33 percent
off, at $39.99). Find out more about the software at the Heredis
Cemeteries | Genealogy Software | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, April 19, 2013 2:41:25 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Two Genealogy Databases to Search While They're Free
Posted by Diane
You have a couple of days left to take advantage of these free
database offers from sites where you'd normally need to subscribe or hope your library subscribes:
- Ancestry.com has made its marriage
records collection free to search through April 21 at
midnight ET. These records are great sources for female
ancestors' maiden names and sometimes the couples' parents'
names, in addition to the marriage date and place. You'll need
to register for a free account, if you don't already have one,
to view records.
- ProQuest's Historic MapWorks Library Edition (link to it from this page) is free to at-home users through
April 20 in honor of National Library Week. Here, you can browse
by place or search for an address, keyword or GPS coordinates to
find old landowner and other maps. (The landowner maps aren't
indexed by name here, so you need to search for the place and
then find the person's name on a map.) You can download maps and
overlay the maps with Google maps to pinpoint the modern
I searched for Colerain township in Ohio, in hopes
of finding the location of my Depenbrock relatives' farm—and I
found it. This is part of an 1884 township map; I've highlighted
The Depenbrock property borders on the land of my great-great-grandmother's brother's wife's family.
Ancestry.com | Free Databases | Land records | Research Tips
Thursday, April 18, 2013 11:33:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
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)