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Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Genealogy Roadshow Dispels Myths, Tells (Short) Stories
Posted by Diane
Did you watch "Genealogy Roadshow" on PBS last night?
It's easy to see the "Antiques Roadshow" styling: "Genealogy Roadshow" had the
lines of people waiting to get in, the onlookers watching the expert
consultations, a host, a break to take in a few minutes of
local history (of the Belmont Mansion, where the episode was filmed), and the guests' surprised expressions.
I loved how the audience members leaned in to hear what genealogists D.
Joshua Taylor and Kenyatta Berry had to say about the guests' family
I loved how twice, another person related to the story emerged from the
audience to meet the surprised guest.
And I loved how Taylor and Berry quickly dismissed several common family claims,
such as being related to Davy Crockett, George Washington (who had
no known descendants) or Jimmy Carter. They always offered a
bright side: The husband of the woman who wasn't related to Davy
Crockett had a Revolutionary War ancestor, for example, making their children eligible for membership in the Daughters of the American
we share six common genealogy myths you'll want to avoid as
you trace your family tree.
A couple of wishes regarding "Genealogy Roadshow":
- The show was fast-paced, so there were times I wanted
more and slower visual aids to explain the connections
researchers had uncovered. We saw family trees in some cases,
but the show zoomed through them pretty quickly.
That story; the one about the tender photo of Lafayette Cox, an
African-American man, holding the little boy of the family he worked
for; and the story of Sarah Jones, a young woman who had never met
her father, were my favorites.
- I wished to spend more time on some stories. An African-American woman learned
from a letter discovered at an archive that she really is related to white
Tennessee governor Austin Peay. But who wrote the letter, and why?
And I just wanted to hear more about the
African-American family who learned their enslaved
ancestor, Dinah Bell, was brought from South
Carolina to Tennessee. A dozen or so family members of all ages
were hanging on Taylor's every word, and you could see how much
the information meant to them.
You can watch
the Nashville episode of Genealogy Roadshow online.
I can't wait to see next week's show, set in Detroit!
Do your own genealogy detective work to sort out family stories with
help from Family
History Detective: A Step-By-Step Guide to Tracing Your Family
History and The
Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried and True Tactics for Tracing
African-American roots | Genealogy TV | Research Tips
Tuesday, September 24, 2013 12:04:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, September 20, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 16-20
Posted by Diane
- The National Genealogical Society is conducting a survey for
those who've attended one of its conferences, purchased one of
its publications or signed up for one of its courses. Both
members and nonmembers are invited to respond. You can take the
- FamilySearch has recently added more than 2.7
million indexed records and images from Brazil, England,
Germany, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland.
If you're researching ancestors in any of these places, visit the
FamilySearch news blog to see which collections have been
added or updated, and to click through to search or browse them.
- FamilySearch also announced that the
one millionth photo has been added to its Photos and Stories
feature on FamilySearch.org. The announcement
also includes some helpful hints about uploading photos to
Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | MyHeritage
Friday, September 20, 2013 3:46:58 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
"Genealogy Roadshow" Sept. 23 Debut Investigates Family Stories in Nashville
Posted by Diane
I've already told my husband he's kicked out of the family room for
Monday night football next week: That's when the new "Genealogy
Roadshow" premieres on PBS.
This four-episode series has hosts Kenyatta Berry and D. Joshua
Taylor revealing the truth behind participants' family stories in front of
a live audience, which should bring a fun energy to the show. (I
chuckled at this
take on the Genealogy Roadshow format.)
Monday's episode was filmed at the Belmont Mansion in
Nashville, Tenn. One guest is David Miles Vaughn, who's been doing
genealogy for five years and wants to know if his family is really
related to Davy Crockett—a tale he'd always heard growing up.
Genealogy Roadshow premieres Monday, Sept. 23, at 9/8 Central on
PBS. Future episodes are set in San Francisco, Detroit, and Austin,
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 4:31:39 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Is Your Family History Archive Ready for a Disaster?
Posted by Diane
My current family disaster plan is this:
Notice there's no room for photos or genealogy in
this procedure. Most of that stuff backed up online, although for
a lot of it, I'd have to look up where to retrieve it. And it sure
would be nice, once people and pets are safe, to be able to
save our important family papers and photos.
- Remember where in the house
the kids are.
- Run to get them.
- Yell for husband and dog.
- Leave house
(or run to basement, depending what's coming).
- Grab purse on
the way out.
But let's face it: "Do the dishes or we'll be forced to eat cereal
with our fingers" trumps "Prepare family papers for a terrible
disaster that with any luck won't ever happen" on my to-do list.
Seeing the recent devastating floods in Colorado and fires in
California has made me reconsider this non-plan for my family
history materials. Before the end of the year, I want to
Would you like to take similar steps to protect your family archive?
Disaster Preparedness Kit can show you (and me) how to do it.
- organize my paper research, documents and photos in one place
these hints from our interview with Eric Pourchot of the
American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic
- digitize everything that can be digitized (hear scanning
tips from Family Curator Denise Levenick in this Family
Tree Magazine Podcast)
- make sure it's all backed up and easily accessible
- share everything with family so multiple copies exist
- our Disaster Preparedness for Genealogists webinar with Denise
Levenick (it takes place Sept. 25, and you'll receive the
webinar recording even if you can't attend the Sept. 25
- How to Archive Family Keepsakes book by Denise
Disaster Preparedness Kit is on sale for September, which is National Preparedness
- Genealogy in the Cloud how-to article
You also can just register for the Disaster
Preparedness for Genealogists webinar here.
saving and sharing family history | Webinars
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 4:07:19 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, September 16, 2013
Can Your DNA Reveal Where Your Ancestors Came From?
Posted by Diane
One of the caveats of genetic genealogy testing has been that you
get only a general idea of where in the world your roots are, such
as "British Isles," "Scandinavian" or "West African." (Labels and
specificity vary with the testing company and the test you choose.)
And the ethnicity estimates you do get can have a significant margin of
That could be changing. "The AncestryDNA science team is looking
toward a future where we could reveal, in the absence of a family
tree, the most probable locations where one’s ancestors lived,"
writes population geneticist Julie Granka on
AncestryDNA's Tech Roots blog.
About 6,000 AncestryDNA customers received
last week of a new ethnicity estimate that more-accurately
calculates the person's ethnicity based on 26 reference populations
around the world. (The new, finer-resolution estimate works
with a customer's existing results, so no new testing is needed.)
Granka's post reveals one example of the more-specific analysis: Her
team has been able to separate
ancestry from West Africa into six population groups based on
Previously, someone with African-American ancestry might learn they
have genetic origins somewhere within the green bubble on the left (this image is from the Tech Roots blog, and used with permission).
The new analysis can narrow those roots to one of the six colored
bubbles on the right.
Those new ethnicity regions of West Africa are Senegal, Mali, Ivory
Coast/Ghana, Benin/Togo, Nigeria, and Cameroon/Congo, each of which
has a distinct set of tribal affiliations.
West Africa was the main source of the slave trade to America. This
finding provides a new genealogy research path for African-Americans
who've been unable to find records of enslaved ancestors.
Here's another example of the ethnicity estimate update:On the Genetic Genealogist blog, Blaine Bettinger shows you a
comparison of his old and new AncestryDNA estimates.
You'll know you're one of the lucky 6,000 AncestryDNA customers if you see an orange button that says "New! Ethnicity
estimate preview" on your DNA results page. AncestryDNA will
roll out the new ethnicity estimate to remaining customers over
the next few months.
Bettinger recently presented our Intro
to DNA Crash Course webinar to help you figure out how to use
genetic genealogy to uncover your family history and get over
research brick walls. Check
out the webinar in ShopFamilyTree.com.
Ancestry.com | Genetic Genealogy | Webinars
Monday, September 16, 2013 10:42:34 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, September 13, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 9-13
Posted by Diane
- Researching today (Sept. 13) or Monday at the US National
Archives? This notice just appeared on
the Archives' facebook page:
"The 3:30 records pull for today
(September 13) has been canceled due to significant staffing
issues stemming from a problem relating to payroll activities
at 22 Federal agencies nationwide.
While we are making every effort to contain these problems,
there is some possibility the afternoon pull scheduled for
Monday, September 16, may be affected. We will advise you of
the situation as we receive information."
- More (and happier) National Archives news: If you happen to be
in the Washington, DC, area this month, maybe you can catch one
of the National Archives' free genealogy workshops. Sessions
include the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act (Sept.
17), Gold Star Mothers (Sept. 18), Using National Archives
Online Resources (Sept. 19), Anti-Tax Petitions from the Civil
War to the New Deal (Sept. 21), and more. For more information,
go to NARA's
DC-area events page and scroll down.
- Still more National Archives news: NARA is opening the David
M. Rubenstein Gallery "Records
of Rights" exhibition on Nov. 8, and invites you to help
select the first original landmark document to be featured in
the exhibit. You can vote online for one of five documents by
visiting the Records of
Rights Vote web page.
- Ancestry.com has released Family Tree
Maker 2014 for Windows. Updates include a new family view,
improved TreeSync (which synchronizes your tree int eh software
with your online Ancestry Member Tree), organizational tools
that let you sort children by birth order and view people by
location, more options for charts and reports, the ability to
export a single branch of your tree, more editing options, and
You can download Family
Tree Maker 2014 or get it on CD. (PS: Family Tree
Magazine is not affiliated with Family Tree Maker software
or with Ancestry.com. We hear this question often, so I just
wanted to answer it for you in case you were about to ask.)
- This week, FamilySearch added more than 352,000 indexed
records to the free collections at FamilySearch.org. Records
come from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the United
States, and include Czech Republic censuses, Hungary civil
registrations, Polish Catholic church records and the US Social
Security Death Index. View the full list
of updates and click through to search these collections here.
Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genealogy Software | Libraries and Archives | NARA
Friday, September 13, 2013 2:54:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, September 12, 2013
What Genealogists Love About the Virtual Genealogy Conference
Posted by Diane
Trying to decide whether to register for the Fall 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference taking place this weekend?
Maybe these folks can help:
The Fall 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference starts Friday, Sept. 13, at 9 a.m. ET and goes until 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Register now!
Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Thursday, September 12, 2013 4:46:10 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
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)