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Tuesday, October 08, 2013
"Genealogy Roadshow" Seeks Guests for Possible Season 2
Posted by Diane
Word on Facebook has it that "Genealogy
Roadshow" is seeking guests for a second
season. (Whether there'll be a
second season hasn't been announced, so we'll have to keep our fingers crossed.)
Want "Genealogy Roadshow" researchers to investigate your family stories? Click here to fill out the
Tuesday, October 08, 2013 4:08:36 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Chinese Immigration and Angel Island
Posted by Diane
One of my favorite aspects of PBS'
"Genealogy Roadshow" is the mention of historical people and
events that have become fuzzy memories for folks who once learned
about them in a history class. The show elaborates on some of these
people and places, and others have me googling on my phone.
Last night, Genealogy Roadshow was set in San Fransisco's US Mint
building, with stories ranging from the 1860 Wiyot
Massacre to the 1906
earthquake and fire. The California
Gold Rush came up when a guest wasn't related to James
Marshall, whose gold discovery in the American River started
San Francisco's Chinese community was highlighted when a young
Asian-American woman wanted to know about her family and its fabled
connection to gangster Big Jim Chen. Researchers weren't able to
prove the story because Chen apparently hid his tracks well.
A history segment focused on Chinese immigration and the Chinese
Exclusion Act of 1882. Here's a little more about Chinese
immigration through San Francisco:
Angel Island in San Francisco Bay
was the immigration point for many Asians entering the United States
between 1910 and 1930 (along with Australians, Candians, Central and
South Americans, Russians and others).
station there served mainly as a place to to detain and
interrogate immigrants, mostly Asian, who were trying to enter the
country. When the 1906 earthquake destroyed San Francisco birth
records, it presented an opportunity to get around the
Exclusion Act, which made an exception for the children of US
citizens: Chinese who'd naturalized could claim to have had
additional children during a visit to China, then sell the "slots"
to those wanting to immigrate.
Immigration officials tried to identify these "paper
lengthy interrogations about the immigrant's home, family and
village in China. Visitors to Angel Island still can see some
of the poetry detainees carved into the walls as they passed
Nearly 250,000 case files were produced for Angel Island immigrants;
they're at the National
Archives at San Francisco. UC Berkeley has a database
with 90,000 of these immigrants' names and case file numbers.
You also can read some
immigrants' stories on the Angel Island Immigration Station
You'll find a guide to researching Angel Island ancestors and
locating their case files (even if they're not in the UC Berkeley index) in
2010 Family Tree Magazine.
You can watch the San Francisco "Genealogy Roadshow" online. Next week's
episode takes place in Austin, Texas. That's where my grandfather went to college in the 1920s and '30s, so I'm hoping to pick up some local history.
Asian roots | Genealogy TV | immigration records
Tuesday, October 08, 2013 3:59:14 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, October 04, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 30-Oct. 4
Posted by Diane
- Those researching ancestors in Ireland, may be relieved to hear this announcement from the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO): “In recent weeks stories have been circulated by some within the genealogical community that the new Freedom of Information Bill will restrict access to Ireland's civil registration records. CIGO can categorically state that these rumors are completely unfounded. No such change is contemplated and this has been confirmed by Brian Hayes TD, Minister of State in the Irish government.” Read more on the CIGO website.
- UK genealogists have launched a free Register of One-Place Studies website, where researchers can register historical studies covering the entire population of a particular place. Click the link for each study for basic details and a link to the study website. Most listings are for the UK, with some from elsewhere.
FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Industry | UK and Irish roots
Friday, October 04, 2013 2:07:16 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
The Family Tree Guidebook to Europe: Genealogy How-to for 13 Countries and Regions
Posted by Diane
As you might guess, I enjoy asking people I've just met where their
ancestors are from. Here in Cincinnati, the answer often involves
Germany, so then I ask about their surnames to see if we have anyone in
common. (Then I wrap it up before people start thinking I'm
Every once in awhile, someone will answer my ancestor inquiry with, "Oh, I'm a mutt" and rattle
off a bunch of ancestral homelands.
Well, this is for all you genealogy mutts: The
Family Tree Guidebook to Europe: Your Essential Guide to Trace
Your Genealogy in Europe.
collects genealogy research guides to 13 countries or regions of
Europe, plus European Jewish ancestors. You'll learn
It's a good way to get expert instructions for researching ancestors
across Europe in one economical package. The
Family Tree Guidebook to Europe is available now in
ShopFamilyTree.com (where you'll see the list of countries covered).
- what records are available and where they're kept
- which records you can get from here in the US using the web, microfilm, books and other sources
- how to get records from overseas
- how to deal with language barriers and boundary changes
- what websites, books, organizations and archives can help in
You also can get The Family Tree Guidebook to Europe as an ebook.
Genealogy books | German roots | International Genealogy | Italian roots | Jewish roots | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, October 02, 2013 2:43:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Your Ancestor's Immigration Experience and the Ellis Island Myth
Posted by Diane
Many of the guests on last night's "Genealogy Roadshow," filmed in
Detroit, had done their own research into family history claims. I love to see all that genealogical interest, and the impact that
family history knowledge can have on someone.
The young woman at the
center of my favorite story was adopted as part of an open adoption. She knew a lot
about her white birth mother's family tree, and little about her
African-American birth father's family. All four parents were with
her as Kenyatta Berry took her back in time along her paternal
Among the other stories was a woman whose English ancestors founded a royal bookstore that still exists today—but later in that line, a physician ancestor went to jail for murder. The final guest learned she was in fact related to Ponce de Leon.
One thing that surprised me in this episode was the show's handling of a
guest's tale of his family name change at Ellis Island, a common belief.
Taylor told the man (I'm paraphrasing) that Ellis Island arrivals
were brought into a room with a clerk at a desk, and the clerk may
not have spoken the languages of the immigrants. When the
clerk asked the passenger's name, he would write down what he'd
heard, which often wasn't the spelling the passenger used.
He made it pretty clear that Ellis Island officials didn't deliberately change passenger names because they were hard to pronounce or not American
I've always read, though, that passenger lists were
created by shipping line agents at ports of departure, and turned
over to US officials after arrival here. US immigrant inspectors
would then check off the passengers' names on those lists—they
didn't write down any names. Ellis Island also employed translators
in a wide range of languages to speak with immigrants. TV shows are often heavily edited, so what was
actually said could've been quite different from what ended up on
You can read
more about the Ellis Island name-change myth in this article
by Marian L. Smith, a historian at the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (now the Citizenship and Immigration
Service). The New
York Public Library has a similar article, with details about how
passenger lists were created.
Update: Here's a statement from Josh clarifying his comments on the show.
Many immigrants, like the one in question on last night's show,
changed their own names after arrival. Someone could do this legally, but more
often, people would just start using the new name.
Two good resources for learning about your ancestor's immigration
Also keep an eye out for the December 2013 Family Tree Magazine,
which will have a workbook to help you find your ancestors on
passenger lists. Also
check out these immigration research resources.
You can watch last night's "Genealogy Roadshow" here. Next week's episode takes us to San Francisco. I'm hoping to see some Gold Rush stories!
Genealogy TV | immigration records
Tuesday, October 01, 2013 2:34:56 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
How the Government Shutdown Impacts Genealogists
Posted by Diane
The government shutdown means that some of you who had big genealogy
research or historical travel plans are up a creek:
US mail will still be delivered, so research requests sent to
non-federal repositories won't be affected.
For the sake of those
more profoundly affected and for genealogists' sake, let's hope this gets resolved soon.
Land records | Libraries and Archives | Museums | NARA
Tuesday, October 01, 2013 9:09:51 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, September 30, 2013
Ancestry.com Acquires Find A Grave
Posted by Diane
We just received an announcement that online genealogy company Ancestry.com has purchased Find A Grave, the site with the largest database of free burial information and photos contributed by volunteers.
Find A Grave will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com, and will continue to be managed by its founder, Jim Tipton.
I already hear people asking if the site will remain free. Yes, says Ancestry.com president Tim Sullivan. From the press release:
"We will maintain Find A Grave as a free website, will retain its existing policies and mode of operation, and look forward to working with Jim Tipton and the entire Find A Grave team to accelerate the development of tools designed to make it even easier for the Find A Grave community to fulfill its original mission to capture every tombstone on Earth.” I've found family tombstone photos on Find A Grave, and you probably have, too. The 18-year-old site has 100 million memorials to deceased people, and 75 million photos, a significant addition to Ancestry.com's content.
Ancestry.com plans for Find A Grave include a mobile app for uploading cemetery photos (Billion Graves, another cemetery website, has one), improved customer support, an easier editing of already-submitted memorials and foreign-language support.
This isn't the first time Ancestry.com has acquired a free, grassroots genealogy site: You may remember back in 2000, when the company (then called MyFamily.com) purchased RootsWeb. In 2008, RootsWeb was moved onto Ancestry.com servers.
We'll bring you more details as we learn them.
Update: Here's an FAQ on the acquisition from Tipton, who says he realized "Find A Grave had gotten too big to run it as I always
have and I also realized that I might not be around some day ...
and I wanted to make sure it had a stable home, while still retaining
control over how it evolves. But ...
I'm hoping this gives me the opportunity to do so many of the things
that I've always wanted to do with the site now that I have some real
resources behind me."
Ancestry.com | Cemeteries
Monday, September 30, 2013 4:27:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
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)
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
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
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
Your German Genealogy Value Pack, on sale for more than 20
percent off in
German roots | Social History
Friday, September 27, 2013 10:06:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
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.
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
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)