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Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Free eBook: Finding Ancestors With GenealogyBank
Posted by Diane
I've blogged before about my family history finds in newspapers,
first "big" one, on GenealogyBank—a 1924 Dallas Morning News
article about my grandfather, then a boy in a Texas orphanage. It
even had a photo of him.
GenealogyBank is letting us offer a
free ebook you can download about how to find your ancestors
in records on the site (which is known for its huge newspaper
collection, although it also has historical documents and books).
here to get your free How to Search GenealogyBank.com ebook.
Genealogy books | Newspapers
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 1:53:57 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
In Which I Do Some Genealogical Decorating With Pretty (Easy) Family Tree Charts
Posted by Diane
I promised our Genealogy
Insider email newsletter readers that I'd show the framed
family tree charts I put in my children's rooms.
You can get
these charts as type-in downloads or as blank paper versions at ShopFamilyTree.com. You also can win
a framed one—more on this below.
Leo's tree is the 8x10-inch Watercolor design.
Why not hammer in the picture nail with what your two-year-old has immediately at hand?
For Norah's tree, I used the Floral design, also the 8x10-inch size.
Until Daddy takes care of the picture ledge
item on his honey-do list, its home is on Norah's dresser (next to her hairbow frame, inspired by something I saw on
Pinterest. Yes, I actually completed a project I
These obviously aren't my research charts or a complete record of all of the kids' known ancestors. Nope. Instead, they're a beautiful way to
display the names of my children's parents, grandparents and
Because these trees are in children's rooms, I chose frames in kid
colors. (I printed copies for their baby books, too.)
You also could use a more-versatile gold-tone frame, like our
giveaway family tree. I think these decorative family trees
would make lovely gifts for the holidays, a baby shower or a
Three family tree chart designs are available in ShopFamilyTree.com—the Floral
trees I used, and this Vintage
The family tree charts are available two ways in ShopFamilyTree.com:
Here's how you can win the 11x14-inch Watercolor family tree chart,
printed with your family names and framed: Enter
our drawing. That's it!
- a downloadable PDF, which includes three sizes—8x10, 11x14 and
16x20. You can type names right into the spaces on the PDF file and print it on your
printer (what I did), or take the file to an office store to be
- a printed chart. You get an 11x14-inch blank chart that you fill
out by hand (trace lightly with pencil first, or type names on
your computer and print them onto clear labels). It looks like
this option might be temporarily out of stock, though.
Oh, the giveaway deadline is Nov. 1, and you can get extra chances
to win if you get friends to enter. See details on the Family
Tree Chart Giveaway page.
Editor's Pick | Family Heirlooms | Genealogy for kids | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 9:39:04 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
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)