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# Friday, September 27, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 23-27
Posted by Diane

  • Origins.net and the Devon Wills Project have compiled a free index of pre-1858 Devon wills, administrations and inventories. Most of the records indexed here were destroyed during World War II in 1942, according to the site, so "the overall aim of this index is to create a finding-aid to enable the researcher to determine what probate materials were originally recorded." You'll get source information for any surviving documents that match your search.  The Devon Wills Project, 1312-1891 is searchable free at Origins.net
  • The free FamilySearch.org records collection has grown by 192 million indexed records and record images from Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, the United States and Wales. Notable US additions include Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933. See the full list of new and updated collections and click through to search or browse them from the FamilySearch News and Press Blog.
  • Subscription genealogy site findmypast.com has launched an Irish Newspaper Collection of nearly 2 million searchable Irish newspaper articles dating as far back as the early-to-mid 1800s . The papers come from the British Library and include The Belfast Morning News, The Belfast Newsletter, The Cork Examiner, The Dublin Evening Mail, The Freeman’s Journal and The Sligo Champion. The collection is available on findmypast.com and with a World subscription on findmypast.com international sites.


Canadian roots | FamilySearch | Free Databases | International Genealogy | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, September 27, 2013 2:29:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Why We Celebrate Oktoberfest in September
Posted by Diane


It's a question that burns inside my brain this time every year: Why is Oktoberfest celebrated in September?

Here in "Zinzinnati," where German roots run deep, we've already had our Oktoberfest. Our neighbors across the river in Kentucky have one this weekend. In Munich, Germany, home of the first and largest Oktoberfest, the two-week party wraps up the first weekend in October.

The first Oktoberfest celebrated the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on Oct. 12, 1810.

So why September? I finally decided to look it up. In turns out the informal roots of Oktoberfest started back in the 15th century, with beer, according to the German Beer Institute.

The brewing season in Bavaria ran from October to March. Beer brewed during the hot season tasted bad, so in late winter, brewers would work extra hard to make enough beer to last all summer. The high alcohol content and storage in casks in cool cellars and caves would preserve it. (You can get all the technical details on the German Beer Institute's site.)

After the summer's grain was harvested, brewers needed to empty those casks to make room for the October start of the brewing season. People were happy to help.

In 1810, by the date the royal wedding made Oktoberfest official, there wasn't much beer left. Horse racing was the main event there, and Prince Ludwig repeated the races every year on his anniversary. Over the years, the festival was extended and combined with finishing off the March beers, evolving into today's party attended by millions around the world.

Proud of your German heritage? Learn more about those roots with our Boost Your German Genealogy Value Pack, on sale for more than 20 percent off in ShopFamilyTree.com.


German roots | Social History
Friday, September 27, 2013 10:06:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 26, 2013
Unpuzzling Your Ancestors' County Boundary Changes
Posted by Diane



Figuring out your US ancestors' county boundaries can be like doing a puzzle with pieces that keep changing size and shape.

If one of your ancestral families settled early in what's now Morrow county in central Ohio, for example, they conceivably could've resided in—count 'em up—seven different counties without moving an inch: 
  • Morrow County was formed March 1, 1848, from Crawford, Knox, Marion, Delaware and Richland counties. (A small area went back to Richland County the next year.)

  • Marion County, formed April 1, 1820, from a "non-county" area that was attached to Delaware County (it remained attached to Delaware County for administrative purposes until 1924)

  • Delaware County, formed April 1, 1808, from part of Franklin County

  • Franklin County, formed April 30, 1803, from Ross and a non-county area; it overlapped Wayne county

  • Ross County, formed Aug. 20, 1798, from Adams, Hamilton and Washington counties

  • Adams County, formed July 10, 1797, from Hamilton and Washington counties

  • Hamilton County is one of Ohio's original counties, formed Jan. 2, 1790, from the Northwest Territory. It expanded in 1792 with more Northwest Territory and Washington County land.

That's seven different counties that could hold your family's genealogy records. And this isn't even the most convoluted example of how counties would annex land, get carved up, change their borders and switch county seats.

Our Unpuzzling County Boundary Changes webinar will show you how to figure out where your ancestor's records should be during what time periods, using tools such as the Newberry Library's Atlas of Historical County Boundaries, gazetteers, the Map Guide to the US Federal Censuses, 1790-1820, and more.

The Unpuzzling County Boundary Changes webinar takes place Thursday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. ET (6 CT, 5 MT, and 4 PT). Everyone who registers will receive a PDF of the presentation slides and access to view the webinar again as often as you want.

And if you register before  Oct. 10, you'll save $10. Learn more about the Unpuzzling County Boundary Changes webinar here.



court records | Research Tips | Webinars
Thursday, September 26, 2013 10:13:54 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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 claims.

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 Revolution.

Here, 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.
  • 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.
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.

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 Elusive Ancestors.



African-American roots | Genealogy TV | Research Tips
Tuesday, September 24, 2013 12:04:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# 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 survey here.


Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | MyHeritage
Friday, September 20, 2013 3:46:58 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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, Texas.


Genealogy TV
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 4:31:39 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Is Your Family History Archive Ready for a Disaster?
Posted by Diane

My current family disaster plan is this:
  1. Remember where in the house the kids are.
  2. Run to get them.
  3. Yell for husband and dog.
  4. Leave house (or run to basement, depending what's coming).
  5. Grab purse on the way out.
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.

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 
  • organize my paper research, documents and photos in one place (using these hints from our interview with Eric Pourchot of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works)

  • 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
Would you like to take similar steps to protect your family archive? Our Genealogist's Disaster Preparedness Kit can show you (and me) how to do it. It includes:
  • 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 presentation)
  • How to Archive Family Keepsakes book by Denise Levenick
  • Genealogy in the Cloud how-to article
The Genealogist's Disaster Preparedness Kit is on sale for September, which is National Preparedness Month.

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)  #  Comments [0]
# 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 error.

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 a preview 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 genetic data. 

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)  #  Comments [1]
# 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 improved merging.
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)  #  Comments [0]
# 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)  #  Comments [2]