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Wednesday, September 11, 2013
What Will You Learn at the Virtual Genealogy Conference, Sept. 13-15?
Posted by Diane
2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference is just two days away! Here
are two minutes of a few of the genealogy lessons in store for
See the Virtual
Genealogy Conference program of video classes and live chats
here. It all happens this weekend, Sept. 13-15, on a computer near
Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Videos
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 2:18:04 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
'WDYTYA?" Will Return to TLC in 2014
Posted by Diane
"Who Do You Think You Are?" watchers, rejoice—the
genealogy series has been renewed for a second season TLC. The
network has ordered 10 episodes, an increase over this season's
The celebrities haven't been announced. Which celebrities would you like to see on "Who Do You
Think You Are?" in 2014?
Last night's WDYTYA? season finale showed "Big Bang Theory" star Jim Parsons' search for his French roots in Louisiana and in
France. Among his ancestors were a Medical College of
Louisiana-trained physician and an architect to King Louis XV.
Don't be sad—your genealogy TV-watching isn't over for the year. We
still have four
episodes of the new series "Genealogy Roadshow" coming up on
PBS, starting Monday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. It'll explore
noncelebrities' family history claims and reveal the answers before
a live audience.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Genealogy TV
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 10:59:26 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Jim Parsons on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Surname Meanings and Origins
Posted by Diane
Last night on "Who Do
You Think You Are?", Jim Parsons (that's him on the right) learned that his
great-grandmother's Hacker surname is French.
Hacker is on the Acadian
Memorial Archive's list of common Creole surnames. I kind of
wish the genealogist at the Louisiana
Historical Center in New Orleans had gone into the surname
etymology a few seconds more. Ancestry.com's last name meaning search (which provides
definitions from the
Dictionary of American Family Names by Oxford University
Hacker is German, Dutch or Jewish.
My guess (after finding a bunch of online articles about computer
hacking in France) is that the name is variant of Hacher,
from the French word for "chop"—perhaps an occupational surname for
We at Family Tree Magazine get a fair number of questions about
"Where does my last name come from?" and the answer isn't always
You can hear some surnames and know immediately they're German (take
my Depenbrocks) or Italian (such as Fiorelli) or whatever, but
others are more ambiguous. And it could be that your surname is a
variant of the original name, or an Americanized spelling your
immigrant ancestor adopted after arriving here. Our contributing
editor Nancy Hendrickson gives her Shore family name as an example:
She always thought it was English, but it's actually a variation
of a Swiss name, Schorr.
Want to know where your last name comes from? See
our seven surname research tips on FamilyTreeMagazine.com
Also check out ShopFamilyTree.com
surname resources such as the book American
Surnames by Elsdon Coles Smith or The
Surnames of Wales by John and Sheila Rowlands.
You can improve your online genealogy searching for ancestors' names with
Louise Cooke's Google Surname Search Secrets video class.
the full "Who Do You Think You Are?" episode with "Big Bang
Theory" star Jim Parsons on the show's website.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com | Celebrity Roots | Research Tips
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 10:32:21 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Ends the Season With a "Big Bang"
Posted by Diane
Tonight, TLC's "Who Do
You Think You Are?" ends its TV season with a bang—a Big Bang,
that is, in an episode featuring "Big Bang Theory" star Jim Parsons (see what I did there?). He plays Sheldon Cooper, a portrayal often credited for the
In this preview of tonight's WDYTYA?, Parsons sounds like any other getting-started family historian. He
says he wants to learn more about his genealogy to honor the memory
of his father, and that someone—he can't remember who—told him the
family has French roots and a Louisiana connection.
You can watch Parsons on WDYTYA? tonight on TLC at 9/8 Central.
Update: See my post-watching post about Jim Parsons' "Who Do You Think You Are?" epsiode here.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 12:43:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, September 06, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 2-6
Posted by Diane
FamilySearch has added 260,000 genealogy records and images from
Guatemala, Italy, New Zealand and the United States to the free collections at
FamilySearch.org. You can see the list of updated collections
and click through to each one here. (If there's a 0 in the Indexed
Records column for the collection you need, that set isn't
searchable. Instead, you'll have to browse to find records for your
Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | UK and Irish roots
Friday, September 06, 2013 2:12:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
FamilySearch, Ancestry.com Team Up To Put 1 Billion International Genealogy Records Online
Posted by Diane
Ancestry.com and FamilySearch have announced a new
long-term strategic agreement that'll bring you a billion
international genealogical records.
According to the announcement, "The two services will work together
with the archive community over the next five years to digitize,
index and publish these records from the FamilySearch vault. ...
Ancestry.com expects to invest more than $60 million over the next
five years in the project alongside thousands of hours of volunteer
efforts facilitated by FamilySearch."
(FamilySearch's Granite Mountain Records Vault is the storage facility for master copies of records the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has microfilmed over the years.)
It sounds like Ancestry.com will put up the necessary funds, and
FamilySearch will provide volunteers for digitizing and/or indexing. It makes sense to me: As Ancestry.com tries to expand its global reach, it can utilize the record-duplication work that's already been done. And FamilySearch can speed up its project to digitize its 2.4 million rolls of microfilm.
The announcement was short on details such what record collections
would be digitized first or how and where the records and indexes would be
Past Ancestry.com/FamilySearch partnerships have resulted in
varying arrangements. For example, in
2003 the organizations integrated FamilySearch's free 1880 census
index with record images at Ancestry.com. Today, you can
search free indexes at FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com.
FamilySearch's results link to record images at Ancestry.com (the
1880 census images are currently free on Ancestry.com, which as far
as I can tell wasn't part of the
2008 agreement to exchange FamilySearch's high-quality images
for select US censuses and Ancestry.com's indexes for those censuses
resulted in free indexes on FamilySearch.org, which link to record
images on Ancestry.com. The images are viewable to Ancestry.com
subscribers and on FamilySearch Center computers.
the full announcement about this new agreement on Ancestry.com.
We'll keep you updated on related developments.
Update: Here's an announcement from FamilySearch about the partnership with Ancestry.com. It links to a Q&A that addresses such issues as "what's in it for FamilySearch volunteers" and "will there be a fee to see indexed records."
Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | International Genealogy
Friday, September 06, 2013 9:54:05 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, September 05, 2013
Finding the *Right* Ancestor: Tips From the Virtual Genealogy Conference, Sept. 13-15
Posted by Diane
So, there's just over a week left until the start of our Family
Tree University Virtual Genealogy Conference, taking place
Sept. 13-15, and I'd hate for you to miss your chance to register!
The 16 video classes, six live chats and lively message board
discussions are aimed at helping you research more efficiently and
accurately, find "problem" ancestors, and discover your ethnic
For example, take D. Joshua Taylor's presentation "Same Name, Same
Place: How to Tell It’s Your Ancestor." He'll show you how to use
strategies and tips such as:
- List all the spelling variations of an ancestor's name. You
could record the birth (or baptismal) name as the "official"
name, then use an alternate information or notes section of your
software or charts to record the other names.
- If two same-named men live in a town and you're not sure
which records are your ancestor's, set up a table to compare the men's
identifying information—birth, death and marriage dates and
places; family members' names; occupations; addresses; etc.
- Create a timeline of all the records you've found for an
ancestor. You might note, for example, that he hadn't yet
arrived in the United States to be listed in the 1850 census, so
those records probably aren't for the same guy.
- Land and tax records can help you sort out two people of the
same name, because both won't own the same property or be taxed
on the same things.
the program of video classes and chats on our Virtual Genealogy
- Female ancestor red flag: Some names were so common (hello,
Mary and Anna!) that a man might've had two spouses with the
same first name, leaving future family historians to assume they
were one woman. If you notice a large gap in children's ages, a
wife giving birth at an unlikely age, or her age and other
details suddenly changing in records, look for evidence of a
previous or subsequent marriage for her husband.
I love that you can attend this conference from home—forget about
travel expenses, hotel stays, missing work and packing your sensible
You'll view classes and network on the message boards (folks
ask and answer research questions, post their surnames, share
favorite ancestors and more) whenever it's convenient over the
Live chats are scheduled, though attendees who miss one can still
get the transcript. AND you get a swag bag of genealogy freebies
here to learn more and register for the Virtual Genealogy
Conference. I hope to "see" you there!
Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Research Tips
Thursday, September 05, 2013 10:37:31 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Researching British Convict Ancestors
Posted by Diane
Do You Think You Are?" last night, country singer and cookbook
author Trisha Yearwood learned her orphaned, impoverished
fifth-great-grandfather was convicted of stealing
and killing deer from an estate in 1760s England.
But instead of being hanged—then the lawful punishment for this
crime—he was transported to Britain's American Colonies. There, he received land that once belonged to the Creek Indians, and his
fortunes eventually reversed.
Here's Yearwood viewing that land,
along with historian Joshua S. Haines.
Though early American historians downplayed the presence of former
British convicts in their midst, it's now estimated that more
than 52,000 immigrants to the 13 Colonies from 1700 to 1775 were
convicts and prisoners.
(The same article points out that
African slaves and indentured servants also were a significant
proportion of arrivals; only about a quarter of
the era's immigrants traveled here of their own will.)
If your British roots go back to a convict, see our free
FamilyTreeMagazine.com article about online genealogy resources
for British convicts, such as records from the Old Bailey in
London and Scotland's Inverary Jail, as well as the UK national
archives' prison photos.
For researching British ancestors in general—whether or not they
were convicts—check out our Ultimate
British Genealogy Collection of how-to guides and video
courses on uncovering your family's records. It's 60% off right now
in ShopFamilyTree.com, but only 100 are available!
You can watch the full "Who Do You Think You Are?" Trisha Yearwood episode online.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Research Tips | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, September 04, 2013 10:16:37 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
Tonight on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Trisha Yearwood
Posted by Diane
Tonight is genealogy TV night once again: Country music star and
cookbook author Trisha Yearwood, a native of Monticello, Ga., traces
her roots on TLC's "Who
Do You Think You Are?" at 9/8 central.
Yearwood visits the Nashville
Public Library to search for information on her father's side
of the family. She'll also go to England, but not to trace royal lineage, as
Cindy Crawford did in last week's episode.
TLC describes Yearwood's search, "she uncovers an ancestor’s history
of crime, loss, and perseverance."
Here, she combs through a document with historian James Horn at
the National Archives
In case your evening involves other plans or you don't have cable,
TLC has been posting "Who Do You Think You Are?" episodes on the
show's website after they air.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, September 03, 2013 11:39:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, August 30, 2013
Free US Census Records on MyHeritage Labor Day Weekend!
Posted by Diane
More Labor Day weekend genealogy goodies! MyHeritage has announced
that its entire US
Census collection, 1790 to 1940, will be free to access from Saturday,
Aug. 31, through Monday, Sept. 2.
To view the census records, you'll need to sign up for a free MyHeritage
account if you don't already have one. Start
your census search here.
the MyHeritage blog for more details on the MyHeritage US
census collection and this offer.
census records | MyHeritage
Friday, August 30, 2013 11:41:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)