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Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Putting It All Together: The Write Your Family History Value Pack
Posted by Diane
I've been doing genealogy research since I started at the magazine
10 years ago (in more earnest in recent years). Lately as I update
my family tree, I have this niggling thought: How do I put it all
I don't want to just record family history. I want to package it all
up in words and pictures, to both summarize and detail my ancestors'
lives, and make it easy for people to see all those
connections and family events.
This is a comment I've heard in one form or another from many of
you. Here's something that might help: Our Write
Your Family History Value Pack. It has articles and tools
that'll help you carry out a family history writing project, big or
small, from start to finish. This value pack includes:
more about each of these components here. Buying them together
in the Write
Your Family History Value Pack saves you 66 percent!
- Writing Your Family Memoir independent study course from
Family Tree University
- Seven Tips to Write Your Family History article download
- Personal Historian 2 software on CD
- Writing Life Stories book download
Your Family History Value Pack also comes with 25 percent off
an instructor-guided Family Tree University course (such as Write
Your Family History: Create a Captivating Record of Your Family’s
Story or Creating a Family History Book: Guidance for Assembling and
Printing a Family Keepsake).
saving and sharing family history | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, July 02, 2013 1:40:01 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Did You Know ... ?: Declaration of Independence Edition
Posted by Diane
Like any group effort, the writing and adoption of the Declaration of
Independence involved some give-and-take and even drama.
These seven facts relay some of the Declaration's back story:
- The youngest signatory was 26-year-old Edward Rutledge, who
was initially opposed to independence from Britain, but voted to
adopt for the sake of unanimity. He later was captured by the
British but eventually released. Good old Benjamin Franklin was
the oldest, at 70.
- Signatory Richard Stockton also was captured by the British
and recanted his signature under duress.
- In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas
Jefferson, a slave owner, included slavery among his list of
grievances against King George of England:
"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself,
violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the
persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating
& carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere"
This grievance was edited out at the request of
delegates from South Carolina. This
Wikipedia article discusses how rebuttals challenged the
document's "all men are created equal" claims and the impact on
- In what might resemble a writer's worst nightmare, the
members of the Continental Congress spent two days editing
Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence. He sent
copies to several friends with changes indicated, and Henry Lee
consoled him, "I wish sincerely, as well for the honor of
Congress, as for that of the States, that the Manuscript had not
been mangled as it is."
- Whether the Declaration was signed on July 4 is up for debate.
The version of events generally accepted by historians is that
Congress adopted the Declaration on July 4 and its president,
John Hancock, signed, along with his secretary. On July 19, a
handwritten copy was produced to bear all the delegates'
signatures; most signed Aug. 2. The
Library of Congress website shows all this on a timeline for
- Gen. George Washington read the Declaration of Independence to
his troops in New York City on July 9. Soon after, they
destroyed the statue of King George III at the foot of Broadway
and used the lead to make musket balls.
- Of the 200 broadsides John Dunlap of Philadelphia printed on
the night of July 4, 1776, 26 are known to survive. One was the
flea market find of a lifetime: In 1989, a shopper discovered the
broadside behind a framed painting he bought for $4. In 2000, it went for
$8.14 million at auction.
even more about the Declaration of Independence at the National
Archives Charters of Freedom exhibit.
Let genealogy expert and "Who
Do You Think You Are?" researcher D. Joshua Taylor help you
find your Patriot ancestors in our Researching
Revolutionary War Ancestors video course.
NARA | Social History
Tuesday, July 02, 2013 11:51:34 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, July 01, 2013
Ancestry.com Surveys Users on Old Search
Posted by Diane
In light of the online commentary over the impending discontinuation of Old Search, Ancestry.com
has set up a survey to gather your feedback on the site's search
Ancestry.com spokesperson Matthew Deighton said the company wants Old Search
users to know that it plans to preserve the functionality
of the Old Search, and merge it into one consolidated search
In a note
to distributed to bloggers Friday, Ancestry.com asked users to take the survey. It also linked to an educational
video about the current (aka "New") search experience and to an
article with a side-by-side explanation of achieving the same
results with New Search as Old Search.
The note also says that some of the functions Old Search fans have
lamented losing are present in New Search (I added the bullets to
"Many of the recent concerns and comments have cited
functionality that actually exists in current search, as well as
in old search—specifically:
Ancestry.com's note here and take
the survey here.
- Our current search experience allows users to view search
results as a list of ranked records or as a consolidated list
- Our current search experience allows users to do 'Exact
- Our current search experience allows users to specify a
'Collection Priority' to filter results by country. "
Monday, July 01, 2013 12:58:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, June 28, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, June 24-28
Posted by Diane
If you're not a student, you still can save $50 on FGS
conference registration with the early bird discount—but it ends
July 1, so get a move on. Click here
- FamilySearch's recent additions to the free genealogy
collections at FamilySearch.org include 200,000 record images in
Officers Card Index Collection, which contains the
Military Order of the Stars and Bars' index cards listing
Confederate officers. The collection isn't yet indexed so you
can't search it, but you can browse by alphabetical surname
Other recent additions include 1.1 million images from
Austria, England, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, and the
United States. The US additions include the Wisconsin
state census for 1865. See all the updated
collections and click through to them here.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | UK and Irish roots
Friday, June 28, 2013 12:59:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Ancestry.com's 2 Percent Speak Up
Posted by Diane
A radio station I listen to in the car does a contest where you have
to guess something like "The average person doesn't do this on Mondays until
11:16 a.m." (The
answer was "smile." Depressing.)
So my challenge to you is "Two percent of Ancestry.com users
have this in common."
Can you guess what it is?
They use the Old Search. Remember Old Search?
It's on its way out.
Ancestry.com sent the Old Search users a
it on Dick Eastman's blog) on Wednesday announcing that Old Search would be discontinued as a separate search experience within the next six months.
The letter asks for the users' input into
improvements that will bring together the Old and New search
experiences into one search. It states that "Maintaining two systems
limits the resources we can use to make improvements and increases
the complexity of every improvement we try to make."
New Search was introduced in 2008, and that's the default you see
when you log onto the site. It's hard to even find Old Search—it's
a tiny link in the top right corner of the Search page:
Old Search looks like this:
For comparison, here's the Advanced New Search:
It's easy to see why Old Search hung around so long: Those 2 percent
who use it are extremely loyal to it, and vocal on Facebook (here's
one example) and the blogosphere (see the comments on
Many of the Team Old Search comments I've seen say it's
more accurate and finds specific records faster, with
better-organized and fewer irrelevant results, and that more people
would use it if it were more visible on the site (and if Old Search users
weren't randomly rerouted back to New Search).
As for me, I haven't used Old Search in a long time. My usual technique is
to use the Card
Catalog to find the specific database I want to search, then
add a place (filtered to the exact place or to a county plus
surrounding counties) and/or an exact year of a life event (such as birth or residence) with a range of plus/minus several years.
Are you on Team Old Search or Team New Search? What's your take on
Ancestry.com | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, June 28, 2013 11:43:49 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, June 27, 2013
"Who Do You Think You Are?" 2013 Celebrity Lineup (Bazinga!)
Posted by Diane
TLC has announced the full lineup of starpower on the fourth season
of "Who Do You Think You Are?," which premiers Tuesday, July 23.
TLC picked up the series after NBC dropped it last year.
These are the season's celebrity guests. I added a bit of info on where you might
recognize them from and on their ancestry:
- Zooey Deschanel: You
may know this actress (she's pictured in the screenshot above) and musician as the quirky title
character of “New Girl” on Fox. Her surname comes from her
French paternal grandfather; she also has Swiss, Dutch,
English and Irish roots.
- Chris O'Donnell: As his parents’ surnames—O'Donnell and
Rohs von Brecht—would suggest, this “NCIS: Los Angeles” actor
(he also was on the big screen as Robin to batmen Val Kilmer and
George Clooney) has Irish and German ancestry.
- Christina Applegate: This
“Married … with Children,”
and “Samantha Who?” actress was born into the business:
Her parents are record company executive Robert W. Applegate
and singer and actress Nancy Lee Priddy
- Jim Parsons: The episode featuring this "Big Bang Theory" star (trademark line: "Bazinga!") is
the one I'm most anticipating. BBT is a favorite in our house, and I'd love to see what Parsons is like when he steps out of the role of Sheldon Cooper. The Houston native
reportedly has English, Scottish, French and German heritage.
- Cindy Crawford: German, English and French make up the
bulk of this supermodel’s ancestry. She was “discovered” by a
newspaper photographer as she detasseled corn in her DeKalb,
Ill., hometown. Her appearance
at the Connecticut State Library in May clued us in that
she was filming for WDYTYA?
- Trisha Yearwood: This country singer does it all: She's
also an actress, cookbook author and host of her own cooking
show on the Food Network. She was born in Monticello, Ga.
"Who Do YouThink You Are?" website is here.
- Chelsea Handler:A comedian, actress and talk show host
from Livingston, NJ, Handler has a German Mormon mother and a
a short teaser for "Who Do You Think You Are?" season 4 here.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:21:55 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Editor's Pick: Learn Insider Secrets for Pennsylvania Genealogy
Posted by Diane
Maybe you've done some basic research on your Pennsylvania ancestors
in censuses and vital records. But where should you
and your genealogy research turn next?
Find out from our Secrets
to Beat Your Pennsylvania Brick Walls webinar with veteran
Pennsylvania genealogist Lisa A. Alzo. It's happening Thursday, July
9, at 7 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain, 4 p.m.
Among other resources, she'll introduce you to the Pennsylvania
Archives—and by that I mean both the Pennsylvania State Archives and
the Pennsylvania Archives series. The latter is 138-volumes of
published records including early government correspondence; tax
lists; and church, land, and military records, and it's free
Participants in the Secrets to Beat Your Pennsylvania Brick Walls
webinar also receive:
It pays to be an early bird! Sign
up now for the Secrets to Beat Your Pennsylvania Brick Walls
webinar to save $10 on your registration.
- a quick Pennsylvania vital records review
- strategies for exploring military records for your
- tips for researching in court and tax records
- information on other state-specific resources that can help
you break through research brick walls
- the opportunity to submit Pennsylvania genealogy questions
before the event (via a form when you register for the webinar)
and again during the webinar's live Q&A session
- access to view the webinar recording again as often as desired
- a PDF handout of the presentation slides
- a PDF handout of our Pennsylvania Brick Walls e-book.
Editor's Pick | Webinars
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 10:54:56 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Battle of Gettysburg 150th Anniversary: Honor Civil War Ancestors With a Virtual Visit
Posted by Diane
With the beginning of July (can you believe that's already next
week?) arrives the 150th anniversary of the bloodiest battle of the Civil
War, the Battle of Gettysburg.
It lasted from July 1-3 and involved 160,000 soldiers on both sides,
with casualty estimates (also for both sides) ranging from 46,000 to
51,000. Civilians hid in their homes as the fighting happened around
Although the Battle of Gettysburg is considered a turning point in the war—it put Gen. Robert E. Lee was on the defensive—the Civil War dragged on for nearly two more years.
The astounding numbers of dead at Gettysburg led to the
establishment of the Soldiers National Cemetery there. At the
cemetery's dedication on Nov. 19, 1863, President Lincoln eloquently
spoke the 10 sentences we know as the
If a visit to the Gettysburg
battlefield (perhaps for the 150th
anniversary commemoration) isn't on your agenda, you still can
pay a virtual visit to honor the memories of your Civil War
ancestors and see the world through their eyes. Here are some ways
to do it:
- Visit the Gettysburg
Foundation website to view photos of the Gettysburg
Battlefield and the Gettysburg Cyclorama—French artist Paul
Philippoteaux's 360-degree, life-size "painting in the round" by
that depicts Pickett's Charge.
- See photos and soak up history (and plan a visit, if you're
lucky enough) at the Gettysburg National
Military Park website.
Did your Civil War ancestor fight in the Battle of Gettysburg? See
2013 Family Tree Magazine for our seven-step guide to
researching Gettysburg ancestors.
- The Stone Sentinels website shows you photos
of more than 1,200 Gettysburg Battlefield monuments to
units, individuals and others; plus farms and other buildings.
You can browse monuments to units by the state where the unit
was raised, or take a tour using a monument map.
- The Nationwide Gravesite Locator lets you search for burials of veterans and their family members at Gettysburg National Military Park (choose Gettysburg from the Cemetery dropdown menu and then enter at least a last name).
Family Tree Magazine articles | Military records | Museums | Social History
Tuesday, June 25, 2013 1:09:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, June 21, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, June 17-21
Posted by Diane
- In related news, on Sunday, June 30, FamilySearch will shut
off the ability for vendors (such as software companies) to
"write" to trees on new.familysearch.org,
which is actually the old version of FamilySearch Family Trees.
That means that if you're using a third-party product that works
with the new.familysearch.org system, you won't be able to use
it to update your new.familysearch.org tree. Read
more about this on Renee Zamora's blog.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | UK and Irish roots
Friday, June 21, 2013 12:35:21 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Free Irish Vital Records on Findmypast.ie June 27-30
Posted by Diane
Findmypast.ie is offering free
access to Irish vital records from June 27-30. You'll be able
to search for free:
It's part of the site's Ashes to Archives initiative, which marks
the anniversary of the Four Courts
Fire in Dublin. This June 30, 1922, fire during the Irish
Civil War severely damaged the Public Records Office, resulting in a
major loss of historical records. It's one of the most infamous
events in Irish genealogy.
- Ireland Births 1864-1958
- Ireland Marriages 1845-1958
- Ireland Deaths 1864-1958
helpful site tells you what records were lost and what
survived (including sources available with a findmypast.ie
subscription or pay-per-view credits).
You'll need a free membership on the site to view the Irish vital
Got Irish ancestors? Take a look at these resources from
Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Friday, June 21, 2013 12:33:36 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)