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<2013 August>

More Links

# Wednesday, 28 August 2013
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Charlemagne Connections and English Roots
Posted by Diane

It's actually not unusual to descend from Charlemagne, whom Cindy Crawford learned is in her family tree on last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" As noted in the show, the eighth-century Frankish king had 20 children with different women (with eight of 10 known wives or concubines).

Charlemagne, who lived from April 2, 742 to Jan. 28, 814, was Cindy Crawford's 41st-great-grandfather.

When you go back 40 generations, and you have roughly a trillion ancestors—more than the number of people who existed at the time Charlemagne lived. (Virtually all family trees have consanguineous marriages, so the same person will appear in multiple places in a tree.)

This article explains how there comes a point in history when "all individuals who have any descendants among the present-day individuals" (that's us) "are actually ancestors of all present-day individuals."


"all Europeans alive today have among their ancestors the same man or woman who lived around 1400 ... About a thousand years ago, a peculiar situation prevailed: 20 percent of the adult Europeans alive in 1000 would turn out to be the ancestors of no one living today (that is, they had no children or all their descendants eventually died childless); each of the remaining 80 percent would turn out to be a direct ancestor of every European living today."
So anyone of European descent is probably related to Charlemagne, and to his royal relatives as well. Of course, documenting the generations back to royalty is another thing. You can get started discovering your royal roots with the six steps in our Spring 2011 Discover Your Roots bookazine.

If you have English ancestry of any variety, as Cindy Crawford did through her Trowbridge line, there's still time to sign up for our Aug. 29 webinar and learn how to research English genealogy online.

You also can get our e-book A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your English Ancestors.

If you missed last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" you can watch it on the show's website.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Genealogy TV | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 10:25:34 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, 27 August 2013
FGS Report: News From and FamilySearch
Posted by Diane

I wanted to share some of the and FamilySearch updates I learned about while at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Fort Wayne, Ind., last week.
  • This update is to family trees on The site is gradually rolling out a new "Story View" in individual profiles. It uses information from the person's timeline to create a basic narrative about his or her life events. The narrative is presented in timeline format along with images of records or photos you've attached to the person or event. You can edit the narrative and crop the images to focus on the part you want.
I don't have Story View yet or I'd show you what it looks like, but you can see more Story View details and screenshots on the Genea-Musings blog (Randy has had access to Story View for months now).
  • also recently updated the new, interactive image viewer with a Related Content panel that shows Member Connect information (such as other members who've viewed that record), Suggested Records (other records that might name your ancestor) and Related Trees (other family trees on the site that have people matching your relatives).
  • If you search from an member tree, over the next two weeks you'll start seeing "smart filtering," which lets you hide results from collections in which you've already found a person's record. For example, say you've already found your third-great-grandfather in the 1880 census. When you next search the census collection, you can filter out all results from the 1880 census and  focus on other results.
Your search results also will start with a list of records you've already attached to the person you're researching, so you can see what you have and what you need.
We didn't arrive in Fort Wayne until Wednesday evening, so we missed the FamilySearch dinner on Tuesday (bummer—I heard the freebies included a solar phone charger), but I stopped by the FamilySearch booth in the exhibit hall for a quick update:
  • The organization's focus continues to be on sharing family history stories and photos as opposed to hard facts, with messages about "turning hearts" and "Not charts ... but hearts."
  • FamilySearch is working on plans to open Family History Discovery Centers in "high-traffic areas" (Philadelphia was mentioned to me as a location for a prototype) with oral history recording studios and other technology to help the "casually interested" start researching their family history.
  • FamilySearch will begin to equip its FamilySearch Centers with oral history recording equipment, similar to what you might find in a StoryCorps booth. | FamilySearch
Tuesday, 27 August 2013 16:47:29 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
PBS Series "Genealogy Roadshow" Explores Roots of Everyday Americans
Posted by Diane

I learned a little more about PBS' upcoming Genealogy Roadshow series while at the Federation of Genealogical Societies' Conference last week.

  The show, slated to air Mondays from 9 to 10 p.m. ET starting Sept. 23 (my husband'll have to find someplace else to watch Monday night football), will combine history and science to uncover the roots of everyday Americans. This season's participants come from four cities: Nashville, Tenn.; Austin, Texas; Detroit; and San Francisco.

Genealogy experts will explore unverified family history claims about connections to a famous event or historical figure (sounds to me like a genealogical version of "History Detectives") by using family heirlooms, records, DNA and local historians.

The experts will reveal many of the answers they discover in front of a live audience in a location relevant to the participant's family history.

Here's a teaser:

"Genealogy Roadshow" hosts are Kenyatta D. Berry, a professional genealogist and president of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and D. Joshua Taylor, whom you've seen on "Who Do You Think You Are?" and who serves as lead genealogist at

(Both have also appeared in the pages of Family Tree Magazine and been interviewed in our "Five Questions" column. Coincidence?)

"Genealogy Roadshow" is based on an Irish series of the same name.

Genealogy TV | Videos
Tuesday, 27 August 2013 15:05:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 23 August 2013
Free Swedish Genealogy Records, Aug. 24-25
Posted by Diane

Do you have ancestors in Sweden? While at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference today, we got word that Swedish genealogy records site ArkivDigital is having a free weekend this weekend, Aug. 24-25 (Central European time).

ArkivDigital has Swedish church records, court records, estate inventories and more. To take advantage of the free offer, you’ll need to register with the site and download the ArkivDigital Online software. You’ll need to know where in Sweden your ancestor lived to find relevant records.

You'll find a guide to using ArkivDigital's free weekend here.

International Genealogy
Friday, 23 August 2013 20:42:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Chris O'Donnell on "Who Do You Think You Are?": St. Louis and War of 1812 Roots
Posted by Diane

If you watched “Who Do You Think You Are?” with Chris O’Donnell this week, you learned about his ancestor Michael McEnnis’ reminiscences of the cholera epidemic at the Missouri Historical Society research library in St. Louis. Wouldn’t finding such a writing be a dream come true?

On a recent visit to our local Cincinnati History Library and Archives, we saw how much unpublished material local historical societies have. Much of it isn’t yet in online catalogs. The historical society for your ancestor’s hometown is definitely worth a visit.

If you have ancestors in St. Louis like Chris O’Donnell does, Archivist Dennis Northcott, who shared McEnnis’ writings with O’Donnell on the show, recommends searching the Missouri Historical Society’s Genealogy and Local History Index. The index lets you search names and other details from a variety of the library’s collections.

You also can email Northcott a request to receive the monthly Genealogy and House History News email newsletter (put “subscribe” in the subject line and your name in the body of the email message).

Northcott told me that only brief excerpts made it on air (it’s normal for TV shows to take a lot of footage and edit it down to the slivers that appear onscreen), but you can read the entire cholera reminiscence on the library’s website

Two additional reminiscences of Michael McEnnis include:

O’Donnell also explored his War of 1812 roots (I haven’t seen that part of the show yet), a war that marked its bicentennial last year. To mark the occasion, we published a genealogy guide to researching War of 1812 ancestors—it’s available as a download in

Military records | Research Tips
Friday, 23 August 2013 20:35:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
RootsTech and FGS to Join up in 2015
Posted by Diane

Two national genealogy events are joining forces in 2015.

Feb. 12-14, 2015, the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ annual conference will take place in conjunction with FamilySearch’s RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City. Attendees of one event will be able to participate in the other for an additional fee.

From the announcement: “Conducting both conferences at the same time in the same facility will give interested attendees the option to benefit from both conference programs for a nominal additional cost.”

You can see the full announcement on the FamilySearch blog.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events
Friday, 23 August 2013 08:13:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 19 August 2013
Chris O'Donnell visits St. Louis on "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Posted by Diane

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's "Who Do You Think You Are?" because actor Chris O'Donnell stops in St. Louis, my stomping grounds during college and briefly thereafter.

Although I wasn't researching genealogy in earnest at that time, I did have an appreciation for St. Louis' rich history and I loved to visit the Missouri History Museum. I wonder what St. Louis sites will make an appearance in the show?

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, O'Donnell met with Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center archivist Dennis Northcott, whom I've had fun chatting with at genealogy conferences. (Hey, I'm one degree from Chris O'Donnell!)

On Tuesday's episode, O'Donnell also visits Fort McHenry in Baltimore (I'm predicting a War of 1812 connection), the National Archives in Washington, DC, and the Smithsonian Institution.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" (the US version) airs at 9/8 Central on TLC. If you miss it, episodes are being posted to the show's website after they air. With getting ready for the FGS conference in Fort Wayne, Ind., this week, I might have to avail myself of that option.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Libraries and Archives | Museums
Monday, 19 August 2013 11:28:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 16 August 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Aug. 12-16
Posted by Diane

  • Subscription and pay-per-view site has added books from Archives CD Books Canada to its online collections. The 200 volumes date back to the 1600s and include military, religious, occupational and immigration records, business directories, published genealogies and vital records. The content is primarily Canadian, but also relates to Scottish, Irish, German and other roots. You can see all the books listed on Dick Eastman's blog.

Family Tree University | FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Friday, 16 August 2013 12:59:00 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Editor's Pick: Best English Genealogy Websites
Posted by Diane

Americans with ancestry in England form at least 9 percent of the US population and comprise the States' third largest heritage group (after those with German and Irish roots).  

If you have English roots, you might share them with early American colonists and/or Founding Fathers such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

One thing you need to know when researching English ancestors, says David A. Fryxell, presenter of our upcoming Best English Genealogy Websites webinar, is the Chapman code for the place they lived.

This three-letter code is a kind of genealogical shorthand to identify traditional administrative divisions in England and other parts of the United Kingdom (before reorganizations in 1965 and 1974).

The Best English Genealogy Websites webinar, happening Thursday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. ET, will arm you with tools for Chapman codes and the challenges of
  • determining your ancestor's parish in England
  • distinguishing your English ancestor from many same-named others
  • reading old handwriting styles (and the occasional document in Latin, if you go back far enough)
  • the Julian-to-Gregorian calendar change, which England implemented in 1752
  • figuring out how genealogical records are organized in England, and accessing those records from here
Be an early bird! Register for Best English Genealogy Websites by Aug. 24 to save $10. Everyone who registers for the live webinar will receive handouts and access to view the recorded webinar again whenever they want.

Research Tips | UK and Irish roots | Webinars
Friday, 16 August 2013 10:39:06 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 14 August 2013
Zooey Deschanel on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Quaker Genealogy Tips
Posted by Diane

On last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" actress Zooey Deschanel traveled to Pennsylvania to learn more about her fourth-great-grandmother Sarah (Henderson) Pownall's abolitionist activities.

Toward the beginning of the episode, Deschanel was presented with a long family tree of names and dates, perhaps to help viewers transition from the present back to a fourth-great-grandparent. Then the show turned its focus to Sarah Pownall.

My favorite quote from this episode is after Deschanel read an antislavery statement Sarah Pownall signed. Deschanel said "Yesterday all I had was a family tree. Now I have an identity for this woman." Names and dates are nice, but the more you get to know about your ancestors' lives, the more those names mean to you.

You're lucky if you have Quaker roots—Quakers kept good records, and you'll find plentiful printed and online information.

Once you know your Quaker ancestor's name and location, a good resource to start is the Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy by William Wade Hinshaw (Genealogical Publishing Co., available on CD and searchable on, which abstracts monthly meeting records.

Also search the Quaker genealogy websites we list on

Our guide to researching Quaker ancestors, from our Religious Records series, is available in

If you missed Zooey Deschanel's episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" it's available for viewing on the show's website.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Church records | Research Tips
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 10:24:57 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]