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Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Eight Family Tree Tips to Take Away From "Genealogy Roadshow"
Posted by Diane
Genealogy television shows like TLC's "Who Do You Think You Are?"
and PBS' "Genealogy Roadshow" are meant to entertain us, but that
doesn't mean we can't learn a thing or two from them.
In fact, our Tuesday, Nov. 12 webinar, 10
Essential Research Tricks from "Genealogy Roadshow," is full
of such lessons from co-host D. Joshua Taylor.
Here are my own favorite takeaway family tree research tips from
- Don't believe everything your family told you about your
ancestors. Whether it's the year Great-grandpa arrived in
the United States or a rumored link to George Washington, treat
family stories as theories that require research to prove or
- You can't get away from the "start with yourself and work
backward" principle. No matter what family claim the
"Genealogy Roadshow" experts were researching, the research
started with the present and moved to the person's parents, then
grandparents, etc. You didn't get details about every generation
in the show's quick segments (remember the entertainment factor), but those generations were listed
in the trees that flashed by.
- You're related to lots of people. Among them is
probably someone famous and someone infamous (remember this next
time one of those announcements comes out about which
celebrities are related—it's really not anything unusual). The
way to document a connection between two people is to research
both family trees as you normally would, and find a person
common to both trees.
- Build on others' work. "Genealogy Roadshow" sometimes
used already-existing, reliable research about famous folks.
Don't be afraid to look for clues in published family histories
and family trees you find online—just make sure you do research
to verify all the names, dates and relationships in those
resources, so you don't end up repeating someone else's mistakes
and claiming the wrong ancestors.
- Once you get beyond your garden-variety first or second
cousin, figuring out exactly how you're related to someone can
seem complicated. The trick is to find the most recent
common ancestor to the two cousins in question. If there's a
different number of generations between each cousin and the most
recent common ancestor, the cousins are "removed." The number of
removes is equal to the number of generations that separates the
two cousins. We explain
cousin relationships here and have a free
relationship chart PDF download here.
Josh Taylor's 10
Essential Research Tricks From "Genealogy Roadshow" will help
you do better family tree research whether you watched the show or
not. And you'll save $10 when you register
- Sometimes genealogical discoveries come quickly, and
sometimes it takes a lot of research to find answers. The
show's hosts often used the word "we" when talking about records
discovered. Behind the scenes, full-time, professional
researchers were devoting hours upon hours to tracing guests'
family trees. You might not be able to devote that much time at
once to your research, but keep plugging away a little bit at a
time. And keep track of what you've done so next time you can
pick up where you left off.
Genealogy TV | Research Tips
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 12:50:06 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Genealogy Resources for Hard-to-Find Virginia Ancestors
Posted by Diane
Virginia genealogy researchers, meet the Library of Virginia. And
the University of
Virginia Library, and several other resources for tracking
down your Virginia roots.
In our Oct. 24 webinar Virginia
Genealogy: Beyond the Basics, you'll become well-acquainted
with these repositories and other resources for Virginia-specific
genealogy records, both online and offline offline records at
Virginia genealogy expert Shannon Combs Bennett will let you in on
her favorite tricks and strategies for tracing hard-to-find Virginia
ancestors (including dealing with the state's burned counties).
Here's a sampling of the Virginia genealogy records covered in this
And you don't even have to worry about scribbling notes, because all
webinar registrants receive a handout of the presentation slides and
access to view the recorded webinar again as often as they like.
county records including wills, deeds, court orders, vital records
and naturalization oaths
chancery records and other court records
official vital records, including those before statewide recording
tax records, including those of poll taxes, personal property and
record sets focusing on non-English groups
Genealogy: Beyond the Basics webinar takes place Thursday,
Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain, 4 p.m.
Pacific). Time's running out to register! Learn
more about the webinar and sign up today in ShopFamilyTree.com.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 2:40:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, October 18, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 14-18
Posted by Diane
- The International Society of Family History Writers and Editors has
opened its 2014 Excellence in Writing competition. Entries are due
by June 15, 2014. Both members and nonmembers, published and
unpublished, can enter to win cash prizes. Entries must fall into
one of six categories—see
them here. For additional details and entry
the entrant packet here.
updates previewed to 6,000 AncestryDNA customers in September
are now available to everyone who's tested with Ancestry.com. The
updates offer a more-detailed ethnic heritage analysis, including
for African ancestry, a redesigned user interface, and a database of
results from more than 200,000 customers. There's no additional cost
for those who've tested with Ancestry.com; a new DNA test costs $99.
more on the Ancestry.com blog.
Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genetic Genealogy | saving and sharing family history
Friday, October 18, 2013 12:54:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, October 17, 2013
FamilySearch Partners With Findmypast.com Owner D.C. Thomson
Posted by Tyler
FamilySearch is forming yet
with a commercial genealogy company—this time, with DC
Thomson, formerly called Brightsolid, owner of the findmypast.com subscription website.
DC Thomson will "deliver a wide range of projects including digital
preservation, records search, technological development and the
means to allow family historians to share their discoveries." No
additional specifics are being offered about the projects.
DC Thomson, in turn, received access to more than 13 million
records from FamilySearch.org, including major collections of
births, marriages and deaths covering America, Australia and
Ireland. Those records have already launched on findmypast.com.
About 600 additional collections containing millions of records will
follow. Those records will continue to be accessible free at
The organizations have previously collaborated on digitization and
indexing projects including the 1940 census and British army
I wonder how these partnership agreements affect each other. Is FamilySearch trying not to play favorites, or does it have fingers in too many pies? For example, can
the records digitized and indexed as a result of Ancestry.com's
$60 million investment with FamilySearch then be shared with
Ancestry.com's competitor MyHeritage.com (which has agreed
to give FamilySearch its Smart Matching and Record Matching
technologies) and/or with DC Thomson (in exchange for the
As has become FamilySearch's practice with such announcements, the
organization has posted an FAQ here. (Question #2 makes it sound a
little like findmypast records are launching on FamilySearch, which
is the opposite of what's happening.)
Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Industry | MyHeritage
Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:00:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Create a Family History Book Workshop Registration Giveaway!
Posted by Diane
Maybe you've thought about putting all your family history research
together into a book. I have. It
seems like the best way to make all this work available to my family, in a
digestible way and an easy-to-find, permanent place.
And to honor the ancestors I've gotten to know through my research.
It's a big project. Scary, even.
We want to get you started on your family history book in our Create
a Family History Book One-Week Workshop, Oct. 25-31, guided by
published genealogy author Nancy Hendrickson. The video classes,
written lessons, and message boad interaction with Nancy and
workshop participants will help you
Don't worry, you won't have to do it all now. But the workshop will
prepare you with a start and a plan, so you can chip away at your
genealogy writing project as you're able.
- learn to build a solid foundation for your book
- put together images, documents, stories and research into a
- share your book with your family or a wider audience
can win a free registration for this workshop—click here to enter
our giveaway. The entry deadline is Monday. Oct. 21 at 11:59
Think you need to first "finish" your research or retire first?
Nope! Here are five
comon excuses family historians give for not getting started—and
how to get past those writer's blocks.
Here are some smaller-scale ideas
for family history writing projects that can serve as building
blocks for your family history, or stand on their own as ways to
share your research.
here for the Create a Family History One-Week Workshop details and
Family Tree University | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 3:30:46 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Genealogy Clues Your Ancestor Was a Black Sheep
Posted by Diane
One of the folks on this week's "Genealogy
Roadshow"—the last one of the season, filmed in Austin,
Texas—had a Civil War ancestor who, perhaps suffering from
post-traumatic stress disorder, shot and killed his wife years after
the war. A very sad story.
Such family tree discoveries can be unsettling, even when family
rumors hint that something bad happened (as they did for this
Genealogy Roadshow guest). On the other hand, genealogists often
relish having ancestors who committed less heinous crimes—maybe
horse thievery or bootlegging—because that means records to
"Black sheep" are more common than you might think: Investigating
our family stories of my great-grandfather's time in prison for
bootlegging led me to the unexpected
discovery that his wife had filed for divorce and claimed cruel
treatment (the case was dismissed).
On the other side of
the family, I was completely surprised to discover that my
third-great-grandparents were divorced
in a sensational case, and a few years later, my
third-great-grandfather was stabbed in a knife fight over a woman
he'd become obsessed with (I still need to blog about this).
Here are a few clues that you may have a black sheep ancestor on
Strategies: Criminal Records download helps you track down
court, prison and other records of ancestors who strayed to the
wrong side of the law.
- Family stories. They aren't always true, as we've seen on
"Genealogy Roadshow," but there's often a grain of truth behind
- An unexplained disappearance from the family. It could
indicate an unrecorded death or migration for work, or it could
mean the person deserted the family.
- Your ancestor is listed in prison on a census. You'll usually
see the institution listed at the top of the form, and he may be
listed as an "inmate" or a "prisoner." (Not all inmates were in
prisons, though: In 1920, my bootlegger's son was an "inmate" in
an orphanage. It was just a term for someone who lived in an
If you know or suspect your ancestor was imprisoned, you can
find some records or indexes online. For federal institutions, check the National
Archives' Online Public Access search. For state prisons, check the state archives' website. Also look for prison records you can borrow on microfilm through interlibrary loan.
- You find newspaper articles about a divorce filing, desertion
(wives would sometimes post newspaper ads for missing husbands),
arrest, or a court action. I've been unable to find the court
records for my great-grandfather's bootlegging trial, so newspaper
mentions of it are all I have (so far).
- You find court records. When I was checking a court index in
search of the bootlegging case, I came across an entry showing
my great-grandparents as plaintiff and defendant: their divorce
Criminal Court Records on-demand webinar with Judy G. Russell
delves even deeper into the trial process, what court records it
might have generated about your ancestor, and how to find those
Watch this week's "Genealogy
Roadshow" online here.
court records | Genealogy TV | Newspapers
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:58:21 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
MyHeritage, FamilySearch Form Partnership to Exchange Technologies and Records
Posted by Diane
Genealogy website and family network MyHeritage has announced
a long-term strategic partnership with FamilySearch in which
MyHeritage will provide its Smart
Matching and Record
Matching technologies to FamilySearch, and FamilySearch will
share 2 billion records
from all over the world and family tree profiles
By the end of this year, FamilySearch records—including vital
records, censuses and more—and family tree profiles will become part
of the SuperSearch
on MyHeritage, and will be matched with MyHeritage members' family
Some of the content will be available free to MyHeritage
basic members, and some will require a MyHeritage.com data
subscription to view. FamilySearch's volunteer-indexed records will
continue to be available free through FamilySearch.org, according
to a FamilySearch FAQ.
When MyHeritage.com technologies are implemented on FamilySearch.org
sometime in 2014, SmartMatching will automatically find connections
between FamilySearch user-contributed family trees and MyHeritage
family trees, and Record Matching will find historical records
relevant to people in FamilySearch family trees.
MyHeritage members who don't want their family trees Smart Matched
with FamilySearch family trees can use the settings under "My
Privacy" to turn off Smart Matching with other MyHeritage websites
and partners (see
instructions in this FAQ).
This comes on the heels of FamilySearch's
partnership with Ancestry.com, which has Ancestry.com putting
up $60 million over the next five years to digitize a billion
FamilySearch records, in exchange for the records and indexing
Learn more about the MyHeritage/FamilySearch partnership from this
MyHeritage blog post and FAQ. Also see
FamilySearch's FAQ here.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | MyHeritage
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 9:19:50 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, October 11, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 7-11
Posted by Diane
- The Federation of Genealogical Societies is running a three-part webinar series on genealogy society membership and communication. The webinars are presented by our friend George G. Morgan (author of Family Tree Magazine’s Document Detective column) and include:
- The Shape of the 21st Century Genealogical Society (Oct. 22)
- Harness the Power of Email in Your Society (Nov. 4)
- How to Develop and Implement Affordable Membership Benefits (Nov. 18).
Learn more on the FGS Voice blog and use the links in the post to register for each one.
FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genealogy TV | Webinars
Friday, October 11, 2013 9:19:11 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
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)